Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Only Connect

I came across this quote reading some blogs today:

"Only connect the prose and the pass and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer." 

It's from E.M. Forester's Howards End, another novel I somehow was not assigned to read in my days of English classes. But this quote makes me want to read the whole novel! From brief reviews I've read, it sounds like the book is about two families - one wealthy/business minded, the other idealistic and cultured - and their intertwined lives and events that occur as they argue over who will inherit a home called Howards End.

I still need to finish This Side of Paradise, but has anyone read Howards End? Is it any good? I wonder if judging a book by one quote is as bad as judging it by its cover? Well, it looks like I'm back to the library, this time with a mission. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I wish I had 4-day weekends more often. This past long weekend was wonderful, full of good friends and way too much food and drink. One of my friends and I like to do something called "recapping," so I'll recap my very long and fun weekend:
  • I rarely make it into the actual city, but I went there two nights in a row! Nothing is better than going to happy hour knowing that you don't have to work the next day.
  • If you live in DC, you must go to Lauriol Plaza. It's delicious and has great drinks. The frozen swirl margarita = yummy!
  • Saturday and Sunday I went to two great BBQs involving, grilled shrimp, chicken, dogs and burgers. And yes, I ate all of the above.
  • Playing drunk wiffle ball is harder than playing drunk kickball I think, but so fun.
  • Night at the Museum 2 is just as good, if not better than the first movie.

On top of all my fun eating and drinking escapades, I also had some time to lay out. No, not at a pool, just in the small patch of grass outside my department. Despite not getting much of a tan, I did get through a lot of This Side of Paradise. This book is far different from many of the books I've read recently, but its I think I kind of like it b/c it is so different from many of the books I've read. There isn't really an apparent plot yet, just describing a young man's coming of age. More on this when I finish it up.

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Library Blunders

My trip to the library tonight was very eventful. I knew the library closed at 9, but I figured that would give me plenty of time to get there after my gym class ended at 8 and still browse leisurely. I was just looking for a book about the publishing industry, a narrative of someone's experiences, and then a regular, just for fun book to read over the long weekend.

I was dreading trying to find a parking spot, only to find that the library has an entire parking lot! This is something to celebrate in Northern VA/DC. However, my initial happiness quickly faded when I couldn't find any of the books I wanted. It is a crime to find out that a book I really want, that is supposedly in the library, not checked out, is actually not on the shelf. After this little setback, I realized I only had about 20 minutes to find my "fun" books. But, sometimes I like to just wander through the stacks and pull out random books. But this time I was in a rush. So, after my Harry Potter series, I decided I needed to read some more "classic" literature. I ended up with:
  • John Updike's Seek My Face
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise
  • Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible

Which should I start with? I tried reading Tender is the Night a year or two ago and never got through it. I cant even remember why now. Maybe I owe it to Fitzgerald to give Paradise a shot. Either way, I've got a long weekend of reading ahead!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Cant Figure Out the Plot

Lately I've been thinking more and more about what my next step is. Do I stay in DC? How long do I stay here? I know I want to go somewhere else eventually, but am I too scared, or am I just not ready for that. Today my landlord asked us if we wanted to renew our lease for the next year. I thought we went month to month, but I guess not. She isn't increasing our rent, so I obviously agreed, since right now, I'm not planning on going anywhere. But, what about come next Winter? Will I still want to be here in Summer 2010? I guess if worst comes to worst, there is always Craig's list, but it made me think about the future.

Then I came across this quote I read on this great blog:

"My life has a superb cast but I cant figure out the plot."

I think this is possibly one of the greatest least for my right now. And it rings so true! Tonight my best friend is coming in town and I look forward to a weekend enjoying the wonderful cast in my life...even if I'm not sure where the plot is going.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Last night at my volunteer reading the theme was based around Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Remember that one? I forgot how great (and funny) that book is until we read it yesterday. Maybe I liked it so much because I had a fine day yesterday....unlike today. The day started off fine, good actually. But as I sat at work and my throat and my head started to hurt worse and worse, the day went the same way.

On top of the increasingly sick feeling, I made a dumb mistake at work that I couldn't fix. I realize we all make mistakes, but at work, I am somewhat of a perfectionist and its still bugging me. Then, when I got home, too tired to go to the gym, the dinner I attempted to make didnt turn out so great (note to self, you are not a cook, dont try to be one). Now, although not a huge hockey fan, I'm watching the Capitals lose in a must-win play off game.

But I think back to Alexandar's day, and realize mine wasn't really that bad.

It was a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. There were lima beans for dinner, and I HATE limas. There was kissing on TV, and I HATE kissing. My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes, my marble went down the drain, and I had to wear my railroad-train pajamas. I hate my railroad-train pajamas. When I went to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep and the Mickey Mouse night-light burned out and I bit my tongue. The cat wants to sleep with Anthony, not with me.

After each bad thing he describes, Alexendar resolves to move to Australia, because he doesn't think bad things would happen there. But at the end of the book, his Mom reminds him, and any readers having a crappy day, that everyone has Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad days every once in a while...even in Australia :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Deathly Hallows

With a bittersweet feeling, I closed the final chapter in the Harry Potter series today. I loved this series. The seventh book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows may not have been my favorite of the series, but it captivated me for more than 700 pages. (If, like me, you are years behind in reading this, there will be MAJOR SPOILERS in this review/reflection, so read no further.)

As in all the previous books, I think Rowling's most gripping chapters are the final few: Snape's last memories, when Harry accepts and walks into the forest to face his death, and meeting Dumbledore in Kings Cross. These few chapters were even more powerful than the final duel with Voldemort, because of what they reveal about characters you thought you knew so much about.

First, as I'd hoped all along, Snape ends up being on Harry's side from the beginning, until he meets his bitter end. And not necessarily for Harry himself, or the good of the cause even, but because he had loved Harry's mother since they were children. Snape never recieved this love back from Lilly Potter, but it didn't matter, it lasted long after her death. And although he made a horrible mistake, he spent the rest of his life making up for it the only way he could.

Second, you find out that Dumbledore has flaws, like anyone else. His flaw was his ability to deal with power. But his strength is the wise understanding the he's shown through the entire series. He realized and finally accepted that although he sought power, he was incapable of handling it.

"I had proven, as a very young man, that power was my weakness and my temptation. It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they where it well."

Although the magical properties of wands was a little overkill and confused me a bit, I think overall Rowling had a pretty simplistic ending to this epic tale. As Dumbledore explains, Voldemort always had a disadvantage to Harry because his knowledge was incomplete. "That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty and innocence Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped."

And in the end, the true master of the deathly hallows is revealed to be Harry. "You are the true master of death, because the true master of death does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying."

Thanks to Dumbledore's well-laid plan, and everyone in Harry's life, Harry grew to become the young man who did not seek those things (the stone, the wand, the cloak) for his own personal gain. In the end, his only thoughts were of the greater good, of those who had died before him and for him. His understanding of love that lasts through death allowed him to even offer forgiveness to Voldemort after all his terrible deeds. In the end, Harry doesn't even really kill Voldemort - it's Voldemort's own curse that backfires on him as it did years before. Rowling certainly leaves us with a few lingering questions, but I think that is only fitting for such a tale.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Irish Trash Can Meets Voldemort

I think I've been reading too much Harry Potter. Or, I'm just going crazy. Last night, due to all the rain mentioned in yesterday's post, our Thursday night kickball game was canceled. But that did not stop us from heading to our sponsor bar anyways. This was after I had already shared a bottle (or 2) of wine with teammates at another bar. By the time I got into the city, I was feeling pretty happy.

Mere hours later I was a complete drunken fool. I've never in my life "blacked out" or completely forgot parts of an evening. I always thought people who said that were lying. Yes, there have been fuzzy nights, but I've always remembered parts of it. Last night after a certain point I remember nothing! Luckily I was with good friends who made sure I made it home safely (physically). However, after hearing a recap of my antics last night, I really feel ashamed and embarrassed for losing control and not realizing I'd hit my tipping point. The feeling of not remembering is scary!

I didn't DO anything stupid, I was just talking nonsense (or so I was told). Apparently, among other things, I started acting like I was living in Harry Potter world, calling people The Dark Lord. At one point (as retold by my friend) I said something like "Don't you dare bring him up!" My friends assumed I was talking about some heart breaker guy, to which I responded very seriously "No, Voldemort!"

I mean, really, who starts talking about novels when they are three sheets to the wind? Apparently me. Why couldn't' I have been quoting something more legit, like Shakespeare or something. Why is this how my subconscious works?

Lesson of the evening: NEVER drink an Irish trash can.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Exactly Where I'm Supposed to Be

Will it ever stop raining? I think it's been raining here everyday for over a week now. Occasionally, I like a rainy day. Not to be a pessimist, but a break in the sunshine every now and then is nice. But 7 straight days with rain? No thank you. Last night, though, it thunderstormed. I really love those first thunderstorms of the season (before you get sick of them b/c you've lost power for the 3 day in a row, or you are caught outside in one).

Last night, I was reading the last Harry Potter and listening to the thunder and torrential downpour of rain, and I just felt very content. I know that I'm in a transition period right now. I've been in DC long enough to get somewhat adjusted, but to also question my desire to live other places, experience other things. But last night sitting in my room, listening to the rain, I knew I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, for now.

So far the seventh HP book has been an emotional roller coaster (especially after another shocking death, that I am still very upset about). Harry keeps experiencing highs and lows, break throughs and set backs in equal measure. But last night, I think I got to a turning point in the book where he realizes he needs to stop the ups and downs, and accept what lies ahead, although it might not be completely clear currently.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Ethics of Publishing

As a Yankees fan, I've heard countless stories and opinions about the recently released biography A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez by Selena Roberts. While I haven't read the book, and honestly don't plan to, it brought up the issues of ethics in journalism, and publishing for that matter.

Although I am a Yankees fan, I realize ARod has made his fair share of mistakes and poor judgement calls. Although already called out on his steroid use in the major leagues, Roberts' bio seems to take this further (based on the few reviews I've read), implying his drug use started as early as high school. Apparently, the book is also based mainly on anonymous sources. Without reading this book, I am not one to judge - but it does bring up an interesting question: If I ever worked at or owned a publishing company, what would I, as a publisher, be willing to put my name on. Where do you draw the line of selling books and sticking to what you believe? I know my idealistic views of publishing may be naive, but I've never been immersed in that industry, in that world, so I'm not sure.

Now, as a journalism major in college, I quickly grew tired of the "politics" of journalism. I distinctly remember sitting in a news writing class thinking how I could never interview a family member or friend of someone who had just died. But, it was ingrained in me that there was a time and place for it all, a mix between reporting the truth and protecting ethics could be found in journalism. Although any journalistic reporting I did in college was about the most mundane of topics (profiling the water polo captain, detailing how college students celebrate their 21st birthdays, etc), I knew I wouldn't want to have to make that judgement call for hard hitting news. I guess I just didn't have that edge in me.

So, I am left wondering if publishing is the same? When do you say, yes this book might make a ton of money, but do I really believe in it - in what it says? I guess the point of publishing is to put different ideas out there, regardless of your personal belief in each one. Maybe the line is drawn when the method of reaching this final product or book is tainted with unethical practices. Despite my naivety, in the competitive world of publishing I'm no where near having to making a decision regarding the ethics of a book I may or may not publish. But what if one day I am faced with this dilemma? What would you do?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Toilets and Phones Don't Mix

So my raucous May Day celebration to occur Saturday night....didn't quite happen the way I'd planned. I did still have an excellent evening, eating amazing German food (how have I never had German food before? ) and sipping German wine. However, trying to do too much too soon is never a good thing. I was also trying to meet up with a friend in DC later in the night, but my plans changed suddenly when my cell phone inadvertently slipped from the back pocket of my jeans, into the flushing toilet.

Despite the loss of my dear cell phone, I had a great time. And it's been almost freeing not having a cell for the past day and a half. But I can't continue phone-less forever, so I am off to brave the Verizon store tonight. I don't need any fancy gadgets, just a phone that's not water-logged. RIP old phone. 

I'm not sure how this incident on the dawn of May bodes for the rest of this month. Maybe my phone had been contaminated by Swine (b/c I forgot to wear my mask on the subway that day) and this was nature's way of protecting me! Always look on the bright side.  

(Danke Schoen to a great friend who put on an amazing dinner party Saturday...curse your toilette) 

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day

Due to the disgusting pollen that has blanketed my world lately (my car, my window sill, my throat), I am staying home on a Friday night. This is unheard of by me, as I like to really soak up the weekends. However with the threat of swine flu floating around, I think it's best for myself and everyone else that I stay home, rest and wake up healthy tomorrow. Granted, I went out Wednesday and Thursday, so a night of good sleep is necessary.

On a happier note, it's May! Did you know that May Day is an actual holiday? I had no idea either, until I was bored at work and googled it. "May Day marks the end of the uncomfortable winter half of the year in the Northern hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations, regardless of the locally prevalent political or religious establishment."

Alright, so I'm not having a raucous celebration, but I will rectify this situation tomorrow night. Happy May Day!