Saturday, December 26, 2009

every day is a resolution

Things I have quit:
  1. Ballet (age 4)
  2. Gymnastics (age 8)
  3. Band (age 12)
  4. Show choir (age 15)
  5. Business Management minor (age 20)
  6. All the King's Men (age 22)
I'm sitting in the silence of an empty house, in my sage-green chair my dad pulled from the end of someone's driveway two summers ago. I'm currently reading The Rise of Silas Lapham, because I've taken a break from AtKM. (I say "taking a break," though I'm not 42- or even 27-percent sure I'll finish it before break is over.) I've already read Housekeeping (another American Novel novel) in this break within Christmas break. Part II of AtKM to be continued....

The silence has been nice. No TV, no radio, just the occasional sigh from the cat sleeping on my bed or a car passing on the slushy street outside my window. I found my mind wandering, however, even amidst the enjoyment of my book. The string of large-bulbed Christmas lights strung haphazardly across my room (Dad thinks my room looks like a trashy Christmas tree lot) makes me think of the Christmasses past. And the red snowman mug of Earl Gray tea beside me smells like fruity pebbles. I can't drink it anymore.

But speaking of quitting, New Year's resolutions are a ridiculous concept to me. Much like cookie jars (like cookies even last that long) and the hooks my dad put on the inside of the bathroom door to hang our bathrobes on, when no one in my family has a bathrobe. I make resolutions all throughout the year and don't need an entirely new one to encourage them to stick. I wonder if January ever feels used, like it's just a month in which people acknowledge how to improve themselves?

So as we approach the front stoop of the new year, what do I have planned? My New Year's resolution is to stop resolving and to fall into the hands of God, because if there's anything I've learned in the past year of my life, it's that human plans never, ever, ever go the way you think they will.

"I am the LORD. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed." - Isaiah 49:23
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All the King's Men, pt 1

My eyebrows hurt from frowning so much while I read this book. Half the time I don't understand what has happened, is happening, or will happen, and the other half I don't understand why what I understand to be happening needs to happen in this story. So I've decided, to aid myself and any others who have trouble with this book, to summarize, in story form. I shall include in bold, to the best of my ability, the words Robert Penn Warren uses that I don't know and had to look up. And the parts I didn't understand or forgot, I will make up.

Part One
Why hello. I am your supposedly-college-educated narrator who still has terrible grammar, Jack Burden. I am opening this story in the back of a 1930s nightclub owned by Slade, then introduce you to Sadie so quickly that you think it's the same person until suddenly about fifty pages later I use the pronoun "she" in Sadie's description and then the entire mental image you've concocted of him (now her) is obliterated, she not being Slade and all.

I work for a governor who I call "The Boss" for most of the story. Back when he was simply Willie Stark, he was somewhat naive and married a school teacher named Lucy. She was also naive. I met Willie when he was running for governor and I was covering the story as a reporter. Sadie, who is reminiscent of that girl on The Hudsucker Proxy who pretends to be a Muncie girl, very dramatically calls Willie a sap and tells him he's being played, and that he'll never be a governor. Willie gets drunk and for a few pages I describe the way Sadie stands over Willie's unconscious body and stares down at him.

Willie goes to law school and gets learned up real good, then comes back with gubernatorial flare to win the office. I quit my job and Sadie, who's working for Willie, tells me to come work for "The Boss." I do, even though he's a sap. But he's a more powerful sap now.

He's very intimidating, and whenever you see three asterisks (***) between paragraphs the time shifts, so sometimes it's 1939 and sometimes it's 1933 and once it was 1914, but one often feels like he is being flushed down a chronological toilet and all the dates are swirling around as you drown in wordy water.

I knew Anne and Adam Stanton back when I was a child. I say about 50 times that Adam won't go fishing with me anymore, and I used to love Anne, though she wasn't very pretty. I married Lois, who was prettier than Anne, but I haven't explained yet what happened to her. Maybe in part two. In part one, however, I have dinner with Anne several times, and Adam is a fancy schmancy surgeon with oleaginous hair (as most people had in the 30s).

Willie, after becoming somewhat successful, has an affair with a girl on skates in Chicago, and upon finding out, Sadie cries into my chest and laments about having the small pox when she was young which left pock marks in her face. Apparently she thinks Willie owes her something, and just two-timed her. I'm not very good with women, so I just awkwardly pat her on the back and tell her to get over it. I should've said something like, "I ain't noticed Mr. Willie askin' fer ta marry ya," but not all books written during the 30s and 40s can be as poignant as Gone with the Wind.

Before I worked for the Boss and was a journalist, I was a grad student studying history. For about 75 pages I read my ancestor Cass Mastern's journal about having an affair with a woman named Annabelle, whose husband, Duncan Trice, shot himself. Then Cass leaves Annabelle and frees all his slaves, then dies during the Civil War. I am left pondering this all and the reader is left wondering, "What the crap does this have to do with anything?"

End part one.
Sunday, December 20, 2009

reading lists

Tomorrow I'm going to begin reading for real. Like when you're 11 and you promise you're not going to trick your gullible friend, and each time you trick him and then promise again, and your friend says, "You said that last time," and you answer, "But this time I mean it." This time I mean it. Tomorrow I'm going to start reading for real. I've uncommittedly begun All the King's Men for my American Novel class next semester, but tomorrow I'm going to dig my heels in the sand and, come tidal wave, come land shark, come Peyton Manning walking down the beach with a come-hither look, I shall read.

I'm also re-reading Entirety by Dana Candler. I read it for the first time over the summer, as I sat in a bedroom in a Salt Lake City mansion that nestled comfortably between the shoulder blades of a wealthy mountain. Those mornings were quiet, and my heart would fill with God's intimate love for me like the room filled with curtain-filtered, golden-yellow early-morning sunlight. I am loving the romance, as Misty Edwards's forward puts it, of leaving all behind in order to cling to Him in greater measure.

Have you ever had a book beckon to you? I have an entire author beckoning to me. Louisa May Alcott is sitting on the edge of my top-most bookshelf, swinging her pantalooned legs and sighing in that "oh, all my words, like eggs, are spoiling in the refrigerator of disregard" sort of way that makes me want to leap to one of her books and consume and ingest as many of her words as possible. Incentive: As soon as I finish All the King's Men, I can read one of L.M.'s novels. In the meantime I'll need earplugs while I sleep so I won't hear her sighs.

I begin this blog on Christmas break, Anno Domini 2009, with the vow to write regularly, ponder often, and avoid getting sugar cookie crumbs in my laptop's keyboard. Amen and Amen.

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