Sunday, June 7, 2009

wind chimes and candy bones.

Currently listening to: A Message by Coldplay ("My song is love...")
Best lines I read this week: "I'll tell you my name," replied the first little spider, "if you tell me why you are trembling." "I'm trembling with joy," said Wilber. "Then my name is Joy," said the spider. - from Charlotte's Web by EB White

I hereby promise to do a slightly better job updating. I'm still reading your blogs though, even when things are silent here in the swamp. First, a question of great importance: 

Is it weird that I like cold Chinese food? It is, isn't it? My (wonderful) mom took me to PF Changs. PF Changs is my anti-drug. It was especially necessary last week. Last week was weird - I wasn't feeling well and I was simultaneously trying to make some big decisions that were making me feel even more pond-scummy. You know how that goes, I'm sure. So mom and I went to Changs and it was wonderful for all these reasons and more: 

1.) My mom makes me laugh and laughing makes the pond-scumminess go away. She's seriously one of the funniest people I know; very dry, witty, sarcastic. You would love her.

2.) She let me talk through some gaping plot holes in The It, even though talking about writing involves me, waving my arms about like a mad woman, whilst a strange and frightening gleam comes over my eyes. She braves those conversations in public and manages to look her usual pulled together, interested, pretty, motherly self. I am so grateful my parents managed to have two other kids who are sane. 

And 3.) I got to bring home the rest of my spicy chicken and rice. Which means I'm now eating it cold. I don't think that's normal. I think Lorelai did it on Gilmore Girls*, which makes it okay :), but still. It just seems like sometimes, when I microwave food, all I taste is fake heat. 

But wait! There is more :)

I have a funny story to tell you. My parents took pity on me and bought me a new mattress and box springs. Despite how grateful I am, an event like that is typically not very blog worthy. But my life is not typical.

You should know that, even though this mattress is nice, it's not like some super posh set we spent thousands of bucks on. Also, I did not purchase it at Buckingham Palace. I bought it at a mattress store near the mall. Now that you have that background information, here is the conversation that transpired a few days ago: 

Handsome Mattress Salesman: I'll call you tomorrow night and give you a two hour window for our red carpet delivery.

Short Girl Wearing Orange Flats: Great. Thanks. {she pauses, bites her lip, and looks up at him in confusion} Did you say red carpet delivery?

{The eyes of the salesman light up.} HMS: Yes! It's a feature you can only find at this store. We roll an actual red carpet out of the truck. Our delivery men then put on gloves and surgical booties to carry in your mattress.

SGWOF: Uh, you can just drop it off. You don't have to do the red carpet thing. Or wear, like, surgical booties. (Is it because I'm so immature that I want to laugh when I say the word booties?)

{He smiles.} HMS: It's all part of our excellent customer service

Thus, I waited, eagerly, for Thursday to arrive: 

Granted, it was more like a long red rug than a red carpet. It didn't roll from the truck to the door. Also, no trumpets. (But he didn't say trumpets did he? I tend to overwork things in my imagination.) Still, it's still the only red carpet I'll ever be close to. I considered walking out onto it, sucking in my jaws, propping my hands on my hips, and posing. And waving at the neighbors as though they were adoring fans. I changed my mind. I don't want them to think I'm strange. It is inevitable they'll come to this conclusion but, for now, ignorance is bliss. The guys donned surgical booties too, but they say the only do that when it's raining (it was) and when the carpet is light (it is in the bedroom). So I didn't feel like a total moron, just a mini-moron. I told them it was like Grey's Anatomy in my living room and one of them said "Scalpel! Stat!" So we had a jolly good time. 

And still there's more!

I've been meaning to tell you about a few books I've been enjoying this Spring:

Havah by Tosca Lee 
I've never read another novel like Havah so I don't know what to compare it to. The writing style is quite literary. If I had to draw comparisons, I would say Lee writes in the vein of Alice Seabold and Audrey Niffenegger. That's a huge compliment, as both women penned two of my favorite modern novels. Havah is told from the perspective of Eve (Havah is the traditional non-transliterated Hebrew name for Eve) and follows her experience from the moment she wakes in Eden to the end of her life. And even though I knew the gist of that story, I never paused to consider what any of it might have been like from her perspective. 

I read Havah in a day and couldn't get it off my mind when I came to the end. In fact, when I came to the end, my heart felt heavy and broken in this really amazing way (it happens!). Every part of this story impressed me - the writing, the plotting, the careful attention to detail, and, of course, the love story. Havah is the best love story I've read this year. That said, this is certainly a book for older readers. There are some mature themes discussed and, even though this book is fiction, it will inspire lots of thought (and hopefully discussion) about the actual Biblical narrative. There are so many different ideas of what transpired in all the blank spaces of Genesis. Example: where the heck did the rest of humanity come from? Tosca Lee writes an approach I've heard before and, put in an Old Testament setting, it wasn't bothersome to me. Weird but no weirder than other aspects of the Old Testament. Just remember it's one line of thought, and it's fiction, and it's meant to get you thinking. Good books always do.

Since I finished Havah, I've had the lyric from Derek Webb's "Table for Two" song looping through my mind: "You knew how you'd save me before I fell dead in the garden. And you knew this day long before you made me out of dirt." Regret and shame are as old as the garden, but redemption was still in place. This book is bittersweet, in the best possible way. Here's a blurb from Havah

My story has been told in only the barest of terms. It is time you heard it all. It is my testament to the strength of the heart, which has such capacity for joy, such space for sorrow, like a vessel that fills and fills without bursting. 

My seasons are nearly as many as a thousand. So now listen, sons, and hear me, daughters. I, Havah, fashioned by God of Adam say this: 

In the beginning, there was God ... 
But for me, there was Adam.    (Tosca Lee. Havah. Navpress: 2008)

Havah is a book that I immediately started pushing off on my friends. It became an instant favorite of mine. (My sister is reading Lee's first novel, Demon, and she says it's even better.) Let me know your thoughts if you get a chance to read it!**


Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner
I read Winner's first book, a memoir called Girl Meets God, in the span of a few days when I was in college. Immediately, I was drawn to Winner's writing style. She's intelligent and current and she's also, surprisingly, creative. Finding smart, non-fiction books with a creative writing style is not so easy. Donald Miller does it well. Brian McLaren does it well. FB Meyer does it like nobody's beezwax. Of all the women currently discussing faith issues, Jen Hatmaker and Lauren Winner are my go to girls.  Their books are consistently smart, funny, creative, and thought provoking. Girl Meets God (a must read) is about Winner's decision to convert from Judiasm to Christianity. Mudhouse Sabbath explores some of the aspects of Jewish life she misses and has tried, in some small way, to incorporate into her life now. 

I grew up within a denomination without many observances other than communion and baptism (which is pretty standard across the board :). We didn't light candles to observe Advent. There were no ashes drawn across my forehead on Ash Wednesday. There were no readings from a book of prayer, no participatory prayers during church, none of that. Which is okay. However, maybe because I didn't do any of that growing up, all of those things seemed really beautiful to me. As an adult, I keep finding myself drifting toward churches that have more observances. I understand any sacrament or observance can become rote. It's not like God loves you more when you participate in them (He doesn't). But I love tradition, and I think it's important to remember the bigger story. Sometimes those actions center my heart and, if nothing else, cause me to be more intentional about my faith. 

Several years ago, after seeing a (gorgeous) Jewish wedding, I started reading more on Judaism as well. I was struck with the beauty in all their observances too - every flicker of a candle means something, every taste on your pallet when you chew on challah bread means something. Winner reminds her readers Jews practice these observances, first, out of obedience. But from that obedience springs something uncanny. Seeing how she's taken her Jewish roots, and incorporated that into her life now, is stunning. I've been thinking about this book every morning when I wake up. As a perk, it's a short read and you'll like it whether you're a guy or girl (I think Havah is gender neutral too, but you might disagree :).***

Odds and Ends

A conversation with my brother.
The Rogue Accountant: We're going to a midnight show of Harry Potter on opening day. Want to come?
The Space Efficient Writer: YES!
TRA: Cool.
TSEW: We're dressing up right? 
TRA: {pauses} Yes. Yes we are. But the only character left is Hagrid. So you will need to dress up like Hagrid. 
TSEW: Sweet! ****

Last week Design Sponge posted a picture of artist Marieke van der Bruggen's Garden of Delight. It is bright, gorgeous, edible, and pretty much fantastic. It is also  the background on my computer now. I'm not exactly sure what this edible substance is made of? My guess is sugar? My brother thinks they look like dangling recorders. I think they look like tree branches. In a candy forrest. If we're talking Roald Dahl, I think the branches would sound like happy windchimes when you pass through the woods. If we're talking Hansel and Gretel they would make a sharp clicking sound. And then, when the moonlight shined down through them, the ground would look full of bright dancing skeletons. Whimsical or creepy? Wind chimes or candy bones?  What do you prefer? :) 

And some book giveaways!
If you're interested in snatching up a copy of Paperdoll, Susie Magazine is giving away a five books. Click here to see how you can win a pink book to call your own. Also, if you haven't seen a copy of Susie Magazine yet, you must check it out. I'm not just saying this because Susie is one of the most incredible people I've met (though she is). One thing I liked about Brio is that it always assumed its readers were smart, sensitive, motivated, and ready for a challenge. They filled up the magazine with fun girly stuff (which was fabulous :) but they also had some intense articles about service, worth, and faith issues. Susie Magazine is that and more. I think it's growing into something fantastic. 

And a question for you: 
I saw this question up on an agent blog and thought it would be fun discussion here :) Which literary character do you most identifiy with? Or, if there isn't really a character you identify with now, who was the literary character you most identified with (or wanted to identify with) as a kid? I can't wait to hear your answer! I'll tell you mine next time but I bet you can guess who it is.*****

Happy Monday :)

*Did you see Lauren Graham on The Tony Awards?!
** Also worth your time is reading the insane amount of research Tosca Lee put into writing Havah. Her website is www.toscalee.com 
*** Another interesting book I read on this subject was Feast by Derek Leman, a Rabbi from Atlanta. 
**** I had not actually planned on dressing up for Harry Potter. I'm not that hardcore. 
***** Clues: Red head. Canadian. Slightly tempermental ;)

15 comments:

  1. I most identify with Jo March (from Little Women). Her personality is so much like mine!

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  2. I definitely identified the most with Beth from Little Women. Poor Beth.
    I also kind of wanted to be Charlotte from Charlotte's Web. Or Wilbur. Is that weird?? (OR I wanted to be Anne from The Famous Five.)

    I love the red-carpet furniture delivery. How's the new bed?
    Okay, the last time you talked about what you were working on and I thought you were kidding calling it "The It" but tonight, it hit me that that might be it's real title. And I absolutely LOVE it. I would so buy a book called The It!

    ******* One Anne Shirley??

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  3. I love the fact that your blog posts have footnotes. :)

    Confession: I eat cold Chinese food as well. So I guess we can be weird together? Yay for company! LOL!

    Love, love, LOVE the red carpet story. :) And it sounds like I'm going to have to read HAVAH...thanks for adding to my TBR pile!

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  4. Poohbonnet, what a perfect pick! Jo March is fantastic. I love her spirit :) Were you rooting for Laurie or the Professor?

    Sarah, I think it's sweet to relate to WIlbur! :) And even though Jo is who I want to be in that mix, I'm probably more of a Beth too. Which isn't a bad thing. Beth is very genuine. Also - the bed is uber-comfy (it feels like a giant hug :). My book isn't really called The It (ha :) but that would be a cool title. I couldn't do name it It because, in High School, I watched the Stephen King movie It and I was scarred for life. :) The It isn't something I plan on getting published - just something I'm compulsive about finishing so I can move on. I've got to get it out of my head I'll implode. And my bff Sarah will steal my computer. (Bingo on Anne!)

    Ruth, we are awesome! :) I think you'll appreciate Havah. It's original and gorgeous and still a page turner. If you read it, let me know! I'm dying to talk about it with someone.

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  5. I think neither candy bones nor windchimes, but dangling Doozer construction pieces just waiting for Fraggles to gobble them up!
    I don't have any idea which literary character I would pick. I'll have to ponder that. Any suggestions?
    Also? I will totally steal your computer if you don't finish the IT!

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  6. S, I thought Doozer pieces but i didn't write it. I didn't think anybody would get it but us!! :) Oh how I love little Doozers. They were cute enough on their own and then they had tiny hard hats! Wah! Let me ponder your literary likeness. What about the girl from the Spellman files?

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  7. Hmmm...I can think of a lot of literary characters that I wanted to be, but not many that I identify with off the top of my head. I'll have to think about that one...

    Wow, I will definitely look at Girl Meets God. Isn't it ironic when you get interested in something and then it keeps popping up? I got interested in Israel last week when I heard that a girl from my school is graduating and going to live in Israel and be in the Israeli Defense Force. I'm pretty sure she isn't Israeli, but she is Jewish. Anyway, then I read Wings of Refuge, by Lynn Austin, and I learned a lot more about Israel because the book was set there. I "just happened" to get that book at the library! Anyway, I'm really interested in Judaism now, so I want to read these books you mentioned. I think it is important for Christians to know something about Judaism, since it is our heritage, too. My church used to host a Passover supper every other year. I thought it was awesome to see all the ceremonial foods and realize that people had done it for thousands of years.
    Havah looks good, too. I love historical fiction, and Biblical characters are especially interesting. Francine Rivers did 5 novellas of Biblical women (Ruth, Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheba, and Mary) that are absolutely amazing!
    Haha, I think I'm done book ranting. Can you tell I love historical fiction? :) I just found out that a lady at my church is a writer, and she is publishing Christian historical fiction books this summer, so I'm especially excited. I like to write every now and then, and I started a story a while back that's been brewing in my mind for about 2 years. Maybe someday I'll try to publish it...

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  8. I did NOT see L. Graham on the Tony's!!! Poop! But I saw Bret Michaels fall over and over on YouTube.

    A new mattress would be big news at my house too. And booties--totally makes me laugh. Not as much as duty, but still. Giggley.

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  9. Okay before you even mentioned Lorelai eating cold chinese food that's where my thoughts headed to. I thought wow Lorelai would be proud of Natalie :) I don't partake in the practice of eating cold chinese food, but I know many who enjoy it, so I don't think its weird.
    I find it entertaining that the mattress store had red carpet delivery, but they must have known in advance that you were a queen! :)
    I don't have a literary character that I identify with... hmm something to ponder...
    And, oh! my great literary friend... I need some new summer reading.... suggestions please!

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  10. Rachael, I'm so with you. When i started reading about Judiasm I kept wondering why I hadn't read much about it before. Understanding even little bitty bits about it has made me see my faith in a different light. Just like you said, understanding heritage does that. I've never participated in a Passover but I would like to. What a sweet thing to think about how many people have done that before you! That has to be incredible as a Jewish kid to think you're doing something your grand paretents and great (x10) grandparents also did. Just incredible. Also, I've only read Redeeming Love and Atonement Child by Rivers. I need to check out some more of her stuff! I like Bible stories reimagined too. Hang on to EVERYTHING you write! Random ideas that don't seem like they'll go anywhere can turn into crazy beautiful things.

    JBJ - How did I miss Bret Michaels falling over?! I must consult You Tube, pronto. Duty is great. Anytime someone says "duty" or "number two" my brother and I laugh. Eventually, some sweet day, I think maturity shall become me. I just don't know when ...

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  11. Kay, i could have sworn your comment was not here last night! How bizarre! I'll send you some suggested reading. I've read a few good ones this summer you'll be into. We're talking fiction right?

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  12. Fine then just ignore me ;) Mostly fiction please on the suggestions :)

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  13. I've always identified with Anne of Green Gables, and Jo from Little Women...and for the record, I always thought she should have ended up with Laurie.

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  14. WriterGrl93, I am so Team Laurie too! I still can't figure that one out. The movie made it even worse. Gabriel Byrne over Christian Bale? Really?! :)

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