"my apartment is basically a couch, an armchair, and about four thousand books." the time traveler's wife

I suppose I should admit I finished this a week ago. Sitting in my favorite cafe, eating organic greens, tears careened down my face. 

The night before, I had cried so hard and tried so valiantly to not disturb the roommate that a high-pitched whistle (much like a tea kettle when it sings) arose from some place deep inside.

I don't have much to say about the book. It was pure poetry. Brilliantly written. 

It was difficult to get into because I wanted to understand the logistics of the time travel. And other times I had a hard time falling into the images because another part of my brain was going, my god--that turn of phrase--how did she just do that?

It was heart-wrenching in all the right ways. And it got me thinking about time and life and our different ages: sometimes I feel like I'm failing my eight year old self--the little girl who has yet to get to this point--the little girl who is still out there in the world (back in 1993). I want to be better for her. 

Yes, it may be hard to get into. But it's worth it. 

Want to know the moment I fell into the book--the exact moment I fell in love:

pages 70-71:

After an interval of tickling and thrashing around, we lie on the ground with our hands clasped across our middles and Clare asks, "Is your wife a time traveler too?"
"Nope. Thank God."
"Why 'thank God'? I think that would be fun. You could go places together."
"One time traveler per family is more than enough. It's dangerous Clare."
"Does she worry abut you?"
"Yes," I say softly. "She does." I wonder what Clare is doing now in 1999. Maybe she's still asleep. Maybe she won't know I'm gone.
"Do you love her?"
"Very much, " I whisper. We lie silently side by side, watching the swaying trees, the birds, the sky. I hear a muffled sniffling noise and glancing at Clare I am astonished to see that tears are streaming across her face toward her ears. I sit up and lean over her. "What's wrong, Clare?" She just shakes her head back and forth and presses her lips together. I smooth her hair, and pull her into a sitting position, wrap my arms around her. She's a child, and then again she isn't. "What's wrong?"
It comes out so quietly that I have to ask her to repeat it: "It's just that I thought maybe you were married to me."

Now I'm onto The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The woman I babysit for said it's one of the best things she's read in years. It was sitting on her shelf. We're doing a book trade. She gets The Time Traveler's Wife for a while and I get The Namesake (one has to figure out ways to save money you know). I'll be sure to let you know what I think.

Keep the suggestions coming. My list is growing long and I'm loving that. And my pile of books on the windowsill is climbing. I will update the post on books soon enough to include all your fantastic suggestions.

image via ffffound

dog-eared pages and coffee stains: a book club of sorts

This post led to many a marvelous suggestion about books that I should read. And this list is lighting a fire under my oh-so-lovely-behind to get crackin'...a book club to form and books, books, books to read (25 before the big birthday). So... all this got me thinking. I'm adding this little collage above to my sidebar. One click on it will lead you here to this post (this ever-evolving, constantly in need of edits post). The idea is that this is a place where you (yes, you!) can leave suggestions or book reviews. It's (in a sense) a little online book club. I'll let you know what I'm reading and publish reviews as I check off those 25 books. And I'll pass on my all time favorites. So, here we go...

25 books before
25th Birthday:

1. Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies
2. The Emporer's Children by Claire Messud
3. Dancing on Thorns by Rebecca Horsfall
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5. The Namesake
6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
7. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers


The Hero and the Crown
by Robin Mckinley

suggested by Sarah-Lucy

The Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius
by David Eggers

suggested by Red

The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life

suggested by Sarah-Lucy

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith

suggested by Megan

The Poison Wood Bible
by Barbara Kingslover

suggested by Katie

Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky

suggested by Katie

Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen

suggested by Katie and by Red

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by Haruki Maurakami

suggested by Katie

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz

suggested by Katie

The Sex Lives of Cannibals
by Maarten Troust

suggested by Christie (she said it was quite possibly the funniest book she's ever read)

The Unwanted
by Kien Nguyen

suggested by Christie

Observatory Mansions
by Edward Carey

suggested by Christie

The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

suggested by Mariah

The Historian
by Elizabeth Lostova

suggested by Mariah 

The Bone Man of Benares 

by Terry Tarnoff

suggested by Tina Tarnoff

The Feast of Love
by Charles Baxter

suggested by Thao

The Time Traveler's Wife   (NOW READING)

by Audrey Niffengger

suggested by Micaela 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

suggested by Krysta

The Dud Avocado 
by Elaine Dundy

suggested by iheartkiwi

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer

suggested by Krysta

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
by Barbara Kingsolver

suggested by MMW

The God of Animals
by Aryn Kyle

suggested by Lauren

The History of Love
by Nicole Krauss

suggested by JulieD

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

suggested by Tina Tarnoff

On Beauty
by Zadie Smith

suggested by hay

The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood

suggested by Gabby

photo credits (clockwise): 
kate spade ad, yellowbird on flickr, 
(need your help on this one), 

love after love

I've just begun The Time Traveler's Wife (apologies, apologies to Krysta who advised against this book) and as of now I'm totally confused. 


Just before the dedication page there is a poem by Derek Walcott. And I had to share it...


The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Isn't that perfect? Isn't that exactly what everything is all about?

image at fffound quoted by Oh Joy 

in a corner of nyc in 1949...

after a lovely dinner thai dinner, with my friend angela, that ended in a search for mr. softie ice cream--i sauntered over to the bookstore to troll the aisles in search of some of your suggestions

i ended up getting The Time traveler's Wife because i was told that it's wildly sexy (and because it was a today show book club selection--and since i stood in line behind matt lauer at the ice cream shop yesterday--i took it as a sign)

after passing up countless books that i could have snatched up in a second if it weren't for my tight purse strings, i ended up in the postcard section

years ago, when i first became a wee bit sad my general practitioner sent me to a fantastic life coach in houston. life coaches focus not on the root of the problem but rather what can be done to improve your life immediately--little things: making lists and collages, identifying what makes you happy, and so on and so forth

one of the things this life coach asked me to do was cut out pictures from magazines that in some way lit a fire under me...well i'm doing this again. now.

above my work desk (in the corner of my bedroom) i'm gluing images right onto the wall. blogs are veritable treasure troves of delicious images so that's where most have come from.

but tonight, in the postcard section, this one struck me:

i flipped it over.

"Tanaquil Le Clercq, Donald Windham, Buffie Johnson, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal at Cafe Nicholson, NYC, 1949. Photograph by Karl Bissinger"

holy smokes. 

the quintessential Balanchine dancer, the pioneer of female painters, and three of the greatest, most prolific American writers. ever.

you think gatherings like this still happen anywhere? i sure hope so.

it's going up on the wall. now. 

books books books

i'll not forget the moment i learned to read. i was relatively young--preschool, maybe. sitting in the sunlit hallway--my legs dangling from the navy plastic chairs with slats--i pieced a sentence together. i sounded it out and made one word, then another, then another and just like that the code was broken. what had once been strange hieroglyphic symbols became moving thoughts. i understood. and so i spent that first weekend sitting in a multitude of different chairs reading that same book, max the cat, to anyone who would let me. 

the perk of living down the street from my elementary school was that i didn't need to wake up early. but i did. i'd set my alarm for six and spend a good hour (maybe more) curled up on the game-room couch getting in some good solid chapters before begrudgingly rising to dress. and i didn't mind the long afternoon ride across town to pick my brother up from school. i amused myself with books. i look back on these things now and laugh. you couldn't pry me out of bed before ten (if i could get away with it) and the motion sickness i now get from attempting to focus on anything in a car is enough to keep me from ever again trying. 

but the love of a good book. that just won't change. not ever. reading was the first thing i was ever good at. my greatest talent. of course, it's my greatest talent--it's the one thing that i get to be good at and never have to share with anyone else. i wouldn't be able to share it even if i tried. convenient, isn't it? no one can say that it isn't my greatest talent? no one can fight me on this one, you see?but what i mean is--my ability to fall into a story--for the words to fade away behind images that arise naturally without conscious thought--is this making sense? any of it? not to worry, in this thing (at least) words fail me. 

i only bring it up because...all my life i think i've striven to make manifest the talent lost to solitude. acting seemed the natural solution. and oh how i love to act. and any talent i have to acting i owe entirely to my love of reading. the love of reading that cultivated the love of words. the love of structure. the musicality of language itself. someone recently told me (i think it was his way of flirting) that i seemed to possess a musical soul, and did i? i laughed brazenly. i played the clarinet for over five years and was a disaster with it. and much as i love to sing--rhythm has never been my thing. i can't stand jazz (oh trust me i wish i did, i inherently get that it's just so damn cool) and i actually loathe opera (even if the note on my sidebar suggests otherwise). so i laughed brazenly, looked him in the eye and said,  do words count? because if they do then yes--yes, my soul is terribly musical

sometimes i would be asked, just what it is about the act of acting itself that you love so much? and i wouldn't know how to answer. there was no tangible reason. i swung miserably in the air grasping at straws. and then i would ask myself, why do i love this? why am i doing this? and slowly and surely i'd pick up a good play and read a brilliant passage and lose my breath because between my fingers i held the answer. the plays. the ideas. the words. oh, my god, the words. 

you know why shakespeare is so good? have you ever seen macbeth? well, there's this moment where the son of the slain king attempts to avenge his father by getting this other noble man who's just lost his wife and two kids to macbeth's hands on the merry bandwagon of revenge. and this guy--they guy who's just lost his wife and two kids--do you know what his response is? okay, ready yourself for this (i even pulled out an old signet edition just to be sure, Act IV, scene III, line 216):

He has no children. 

read it again. sound it out--as if you're learning to read. the line is gloriously monosyllabic! He. has. no. children. imagine this--as an actor you're thinking oh my god, i have no idea what it feels like to lose a wife and children. this man must be beside himself. how can i ever hope to act this part? don't. don't act it. for the love of god, please don't act it. just turn round, look the other bloke in the eyes and speak the words that shakespeare has given you--put them out into the space. He has no children. holy smokes. he's saying, there is no possible way to hurt macbeth as he has just hurt me. because he has no children. no flowerly language. direct to the point and absolutely deadly. 

it all seems a bit ridiculous now that it didn't strike me sooner--that i'd like shaping the words just as much as i loved to speak them. don't get me wrong--i am not a playwright. i have no intention of becoming one. but here i am a year out of school, no acting to be seen anywhere and words--the writing of them--no matter how silly or seemingly unimportant--these little words, their creation is saving me. saving my life. introducing me to myself. little gulps of air that i manage just before falling back beneath the rising water as my legs keep kicking me upwards. 

i don't know why i'm writing all this. perhaps as an explanation...if i've been a little absent lately it's because i've been working tirelessly at my penultimate talent. i copied down all of your book suggestions into my barnes and noble book journal entitled book lust, and decided to begin instead with novel on my roommate's shelf, Dancing on Thorns. The cover made it look a little trashy and quite a bit of fun and after weeks of sludging (ugh, the sludge) through The Emperor's Children, i felt entitled to a bit of fun. 

ohhhh, my friends, i'm loving it. i've spent hours reading it. it's quite long and i wouldn't have it any other way and I don't want it to end. i was up till three in the morning last night (and i had to be up at seven). it's all about the world of ballet and the genius of a true artist and the toll that takes and what must be sacrificed and is the sacrifice worth it--i could go on and on. i find that it's quite well written. and it is unbelievably, undeniably sexy--i've never read a sexier book. it's poignant and moving and far from perfect and i'm loving every second of it. so you put it on your list. and i promise to read the one's you've left me (my aunt texted me because she couldn't figure out how to leave a blog comment, so i'll pass on that she suggests Steinbeck's East of Eden). 

oh and did i mention this is set in london? i've been before but the constant references to the west end and covent gardens is...oh i just have to go again. and soon.