Friday, July 23, 2010

falling, stumbling, tumbling {etc.}.

Currently Listening To: Low Rising by The Swell Season
Lyric Obsession: "You were restless. I was somewhere less secure, so I went running to the road." - from "Hold You in These Arms" by The Swell Season

Hey lovelies. Thanks so much for all your get well wishes and ice cream suggestions on my last post. You're the sweetest bunch. I'm writing up against a cotton-candy sunset tonight, listening to a Swell Season record. I'm also burning my favorite candle - a smell called Clementine that's comforting and mellow. It smells like open windows in the Spring. I'm finally emerging from a day in the Cave of Solitude (which is my friend's affectionate term for days I lock myself away from the world and write). My brain has been a bit too consumed with work lately to come up with great blog fodder, so I'm sharing a list of some of my (current) favorite things. I hope you'll add your recommendations in the comments!

I'm reading ... Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
I've been drowning in a sea of lovely books lately - Matched by Ally Condie (review coming pronto!), Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry (a recommendation from The Green Bean Teen Queen - it was weird and funny and adventurous with a fabulous heroine - four aspects I adore in a novel), and now this book. Oh, this book. I'm not even sure how to write about it, but I'm going to try.

Kasud Shiguro's Never Let Me Go has been on my "To Read" list for a long time. When I saw the trailer for the film adaptation, and realized it was releasing this fall ... I knew I had to bump the book up to the top. Before I tell you why I'm liking the book, I need to issue two very important disclaimers: 1.) This is not a book for younger readers. I am not trying to police what you read, listen to, watch, etc. However, I know there are some middle school readers who drop in here occasionally. If you are one of them, A.) you are awesome and B.) I don't want you to think I'm recommending books to you that have some mature content. By mature content, I mean: strange situations, possibly some language and maybe some heavy making-outage that comes in later chapters. (Not sure on that last one, but it's a possibility.) I am not insinuating that I'm offended by those things or that I'm not aware you have computers and TV's and other fancy inventions. I'm not saying you are not mature. Still. I wouldn't recommend this one to my niece. And she wouldn't be into the book anyway. (Go for Skullduggery Pleasant instead ;). 2.) This book is not happy. My sister always likes for me to warn her about the happy-factor in a book. She thinks sad books and movies are a waste of time. I like to wear black and listen to sad songs and and so, of course, I disagree. But if you're looking the literary equivalent of rainbows and kittens and sunshine ... this is not the book you'll want to pick up.

Never Let Me Go is told from the perspective of Kathy H., a young woman in her 30’s reflecting back on the events that marked her teens and 20’s. However, from the first strange sentence of this novel, you know Kathy's adolescence was nothing like yours. Kathy was a student at Hailsham, a school located somewhere in England, in the hollow of a hillside hidden away from the outside world. Some aspects of Hailsham will ring true to any school experience – cliques and crushes and odd teachers and amazing teachers and an emphasis on the arts. Students at Hailsham are told how special they are from the start. "Special," however, is not always a good thing.

"So you're waiting, even if you don't quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realise that you really are different to them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don't hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you -- of how you were brought into this world and why -- and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it's a cold moment. It's like walking past a mirror you've walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange." - from p. 36 of the paperback version of Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Random House, 2005)

I don't want to drop anymore clues about the students at Hailsham (be warned: if you Google this novel, spoilers abound). You sort of get an idea of what's happening from the start. There's a beauty in the reveal here though; the way you get a sense of what's happening, then actually hear it, then realize it, then realize it will happen to characters who love each other so much ... characters you start to love, too.

It’s that subtly, I think, that makes the story so scary. I’m hesitant to call Never Let Me Go dystiopain, as it takes place in the late 90’s … but the tone of the book definitely has a futuristic, other-worldly echo about it. And yet. Usually in dystopian reads, I feel like some government force, some alterna-society is pressing in against me. There are wild new machines that whir in my ears and strange rules and stoic officials always watching from the shadows. There is an oppression obvious to me even if it isn’t obvious to the characters yet. This is a quieter kind of novel. In Never Let Me Go, I feel like I’m falling into a brave new world that is frighteningly believable. Frighteningly now.
The novel could easily leave you pondering morality, and faith, and science. This novel could kick-start great discussions about our society’s ever creeping tendency toward "playing God," toward going too far with modern technology (is it a question of if or when?). Instead, the questions that keep rising up off pages for me have been more endearing than those. Like: is love enough to save someone? Is love stronger than fate? And who determines who you really, truly are ... and who you get to become?
In the end, Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are the best part of this novel for me. These characters are breaking my heart all to pieces. And even though I have a feeling the ending is bleak, I'm still racing toward the last page so I can find out what happens to them. Never Let Me Go is keeping me awake at night and sticking in my mind all day long. And the movie looks stunning. (Note: spoilers in the trailer). I’m such a fangirl for Carrie Mulligan. (Do you recognize her, fellow Pride and Prejudice fans?)
I'm listening to ... Graceland, as covered by The Tallest Man on Earth
The Rogue Accountant informs me this song is only available as a single that was only released in Europe. Which means it isn't on iTunes. Which means when I want to hear it, and I often do, I have to listen to it on Youtube over and over. Not. Cool.

I made ... Ina Gartan's Lemon Picata Chicken
You did not misread that statement ... I can make this. I have made this dish successfully more than once. By successfully, of course, I mean: so far no one has needed treatment for food-borne illness after consuming it. I use chicken stock instead of white wine though. I'm not opposed to drinking, or cooking with, white wine. But I am absolutely, unabashedly, terrified when it comes to cooking with it. I'm constantly paranoid about setting the house on fire when I cook. The only thing I can picture when it comes to cooking with alcohol is fire, licking up the walls of my kitchen, engulfing my house. So I opt for chicken stock instead. It works. I don't know what to serve with this yet (Ina - I like to think she's cool with me using her first name - serves it with mashed potatoes and roasted onions). I'm proud of my achievement. This is one of the few swanky-ish dishes (ie: not poptarts) I feel comfortable making. I make a mess but it's yummy stuff. Do you watch the barefoot contessa? Do you know my favorite part of the entire show? I love how, whenever Ina Gartan makes chicken, she looks at the camera, and smirks, and always says, in her confident wink-wink sort of way, "You know how Jeffrey is about chicken." Kills me every time.

I'm watching ... Darius Goes West
My brother told me to watch this documentary and he told me I would cry, a lot. He was right. I bawled. But I smiled through the whole movie. It's soul-stirring. Watch it with your best friends, or your youth group, or your roommates. It really is a celebration of friendship. When the credits roll, you'll decide life is too short not to do what you love. And you'll remember life is too short not to love with your whole heart.

I want ... these cowboy boots.
I'm obsessed with them. My mom has a sick (and by sick I mean amazing) pair she wore in her 20's. They're red/brown, cut low, cute with jeans, cute with dresses. That's the beauty of cowboy boots. They look good with everything. Sadly, my mom's boots are a size too big for me (even in boots ... in which I typically wear a full size up). I had a pair a few years ago but they were more of a fill in until I found the pair. I've got my eye on this pair. Like the heel. Like the height. Like how they look scuffed up on the toe. The color is perfect - would go with brown, or black, or frilly. I like cowboy boots with jeans but I love them with dresses and frilly skirts. Frilly and tough are a wonderful combination.

I wish ... Paul Ferney's paintings were available in print form.

I'm looking for a new painting to go above my bed. By painting I mean "print" because I don't think I can afford an actual painting at this stage. Paul Ferney is one of my favorite artists. His landscapes are storybook, just blurry enough to make you think you're looking into another world (or into a place in your heart you've never seen before). I always hold out hope that, eventually, Paul Ferney will sell prints of his work but I don't think those are available yet. So I printed out a few of my favorites and put them in my purse. When I go to antique stores that sell old prints and paintings, and I try to find something that has the same vibe. So far - no luck.

I made note of ... this quote:
"The Possible's slow fuse is lit by the Imagination." - Emily Dickenson

Also ... this one:
"It was me. I let the dogs out."

I always look forward to ... long walks with Biscuit.
I love the way she prances down the road, like she owns the neighborhood. I love it when we get home and sit on the back porch and I gripe and complain about the humidity and the mosquitoes and she pants and wags her tail like, "I know, right?!" And then she leans into me and we watch the sun go down together. Dogs make life so much sweeter, don't they?

So those are a few marvels I'm into at the moment. I'm also into this weekend already, even though it has barely started, because I get to spend some time with my two bff's. While I talk to them weekly, it is extremely rare all three of us are actually able to hang out together. We're going to go see Eclipse (Team Volturi) and then shop. I think this is tax free weekend in Tennessee though, and you know how I love crowded places *sarcasm*. So by "shop," I mostly mean: hide under display tables and have panic attacks while they shop.Happy Weekending!


  1. That book looks really good! I'm looking for some new books to read when I get home, and I may just have to add that one to my list. :)

  2. i just wrote this long comment and then it got deleted. :( i'll briefly summarize my last comment:

    1. your blog post made me smile and brightened my morning.

    2. loved the song you put up and thankfully i live in europe

    3. chicken looks amazing, high five! i'm not the best cook - once i cooked pasta for 40 minutes and i live in italy....but i do make amazing crepes, so it kinda cancels out making me an average cook

    4. the boots are adorable! my mom has some cute ones and i wish i had some because 1) i'm from texas and everyone knows that texans are cowboys :) 2) like you said, they go with everything!

    5. love your emily dickenson quote!!!

    6. i agree, dogs make life SO much sweeter

    well it's probably a good thing my original comment was deleted since it was way too long! your blog posts always inspire me to ramble on :)

  3. I absolutely LOVE the cowboy boots! They are too cute. I would say we should buy them together and share...but postage and trying to find some that fit us both would be impossible. :) Very excited to see you tomorrow, btw!

  4. That book sounds good! Why must the movie be rated R though? Bummer. Don't know what that means about the book.
    LOVE Pride and Prejudice!
    Great post, I always enjoy reading your blog :)

  5. oh my gosh! Skulduggery Pleasant is totally one of my favorite books! It's so witty, I love witty. You know there's a sequel...I just haven't been able to get my hands on it yet. I just love Skulduggery, if it's every a movie Johnny Depp has to play him. (Which isn't a shock, that I say that, cause he's totally one of my faves...) it's just a great book..."doors? doors are for people with no imagination." I love books that are wacky and childish but have deep meanings, maybe you should try The Night Tourist it's my favorite book.
    My sisters are both really talented cooks, really talented. They love it. I totally don't. Well, I've never actually cooked anything really...but still...ugh. Barefoot Contessa's a big deal in this house. I love how all her ingredients are just so beautiful, have you ever noticed? everything's so pretty.
    Cute boots, and now, after I just pretty much wrote a post myself...ciao.

  6. I am adding Never Let Me Go to my To Read list stat. Sounds like it's right up my alley. I love watching Ina but always forget to print the recipes off of The Food Network. Thanks for the reminder!

    And TN tax-free weekend is the first weekend in August so you should be safe. Personally I'm bummed because I'll be back for a friend's wedding in IL- what are the odds that I would miss out on a big perk from my new state?

  7. That book sounds interesting. The movie looks good, too, but as it's rated R, I will have to stick with the book. :)

    I'm so with you on the whole shopping crowds thing. Ugh, I hate to shop somewhere when a ton of people are there. You can't even really get at what you want to see, anyway!

    I'm celebrating being finished with four summer courses. :) Classes finished Thursday, but I had a research paper (about "Wuthering Heights" and Emily Bronte) and a few other things that I put off until the last minute. Just finished the paper and emailed it to my teacher, thank goodness! Now my real summer of reading, sewing, classic movies, and blog stalking can begin. :) Sorry, but I'm so excited that I just had to share. Hope you have a great weekend!


  8. I don't think I could read that book-I hate adult depressing books! But I'm glad you read Skulduggery-post a review because I want to know your thoughts! And the author's blog is snarky and very funny-it's a great read too!:)

  9. adorable cowboy boots, Natalie!!

  10. Team Volturi. HAHA. THat would make an awesome t-shirt. Except tweens and teens would be beating you up all the time. But I'd buy one and wear it with you.

    And LOVE the boots!

  11. So that book (& movie) look pretty amazing. :) I will have to get my hands on that one.

    The boots are pretty fantabulous. I keep telling myself that one day I will be cool enough to wear them...i'm still convincing myself. ;)


  12. Thanks for the book rec! And I'm not sure I get the whole cowboy boots thing...I was just at an outdoor concert, and it seemed as if every-other girl I saw was wearing a white frilly dress with cowboy boots. And we were in Minneapolis, MN, for goodness sake. :) But I'm sure they'll look adorable on you!

    And yes--dogs definitely make life sweeter! One of my favorite things is taking long walks with the hubby and our two overgrown puppies. I your moments with Biscuit!

  13. That last sentence was supposed to be: "I heart your moments with Biscuit!"

  14. You're in good company with the whole "crowded places = panic attacks" thing. Going to the mall is an exercise in endurance.
    When we were in Manila, we went to this bazaar-like place with all these little booths...*shudder*. Was not a highlight of the trip for me. :)


  15. ok i'm gleeking out a bit, I've been waiting to see Darius Goes West FOREVER because it was never available on my Netflix! How did you get a hold of it???

    and i'm def checking out the book [or adding it to my long list of books to read] because i'm all for the thinking, drama-esque books and movies

    glad you're feeling better! tell biscuit hi!

  16. Natalie, did you get the free Avett Brothers music video from iTunes? I wasn't gonna get it, but then I remembered you writing about them so I got it, and I really like it :)

  17. Hi, do you know where the nearest Quizno's is? I'm lost.