Want to read with me? Follow this link to view the list and pick a book (or a few!) to read along with me. I'd love for this project to be collaborative, and will post anyone's thoughts beside my own.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

His heart beat with passionate desire for the beauty and the strangeness of the world.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
Of Human Bondage is, like many other novels, a story about growing up. Don't let all the pit stops along the way fool you; at the end of the day, this is your classic bildungsroman, or coming of age tale. We follow Philip Carey from the country roads of Blackstable, England, to the cobbled streets of Paris, and back to the bustling avenues of London. Where some people seem to take life at an easy sprint, Philip stumbles, both literally (club foot) and metaphorically. His path is rife with roadblocks, from the common (poverty, unrequited love, the usual suspects) to the more personal (the constant agony of existing in the world as something other than what society dictates as 'normal', living your entire adult life without parents). Despite his penchant for poor decisions and a noticeable lack of sidekicks or consistent friends, Philip perseveres in the end, settling down with a nice gal named Sally and doctoring to a small British town.
Spoiler Over: Continue Here

This was a very up and down read. Many parts I sort of slogged through, a few I rather enjoyed, and most were akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion. Still, while Philip isn't the most likable protagonist I've ever encountered, he's not without redeeming qualities, and I found myself rooting for him despite his astounding ability to make mistakes. If you don't mind the occasional downer, and the kind of story where everything does not turn out just right for everyone in the end, then I say GO FOR IT! (I know, a Winning review. Sorry, Somerset. That's the best I've got.)

A few thoughts, in no particular chronology...

Writers were the original readers (but Not the original hipsters)
I'm frequently struck by the great emphasis writers put on reading. Here are a few of my favorite quotes (from characters we've met previously) on reading:

Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird:
"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

Philip Carey, Of Human Bondage:
"Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading: he did not know that thus he was providing himself with a refuge from all the distress of life."

"Whenever he started a book with two solitary travellers riding along the brink of a desperate ravine he knew he was safe."

"Hayward: Why do you read, then? 
Philip: Partly for pleasure, because it's a habit and I'm just as uncomfortable if I don't read as if I don't smoke, and partly to know myself."

Don Juan, Don Quixote
"There's no book so bad that there isn't something good in it."

YBN (young boy narrator), Remembrance of Things Passed
"After which it matters not that the actions, the feelings of this new order of creatures appear to us in the guise of truth, since we have made them our own, since it is in ourselves that they are happening, that they are holding in thrall, as we feverishly turn over the pages of the book, our quickened breath and staring eyes. And once the novelist has brought us to this state, in which, as in all purely mental states, every emotion is multiplied ten-fold, into which his book comes to disturb us as might a dream, but a dream more lucid and more abiding than those which come to us in sleep, why then, for the space of an hour he sets free within us all the joys and sorrows in the world, a few of which only we should have to spend years of our actual life in getting to know, and the most intense of which would never be revealed to us because the slow course of their development prevents us from perceiving them."

David Copperfield, David Copperfield
"My father had left a small collection of books in a little room up-stairs, to which I had access (for it adjoined my own) and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, the Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Blas, and Robinson Crusoe, came out, a glorious host, to keep me company [...] this was my only and my constant comfort."

Montag, Fahrenheit-451
"There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there."

Faber, Fahrenheit-451
"Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us."

On one of Philip's only HAPPY times, working at a hospital clinic
"But on the whole the impression was neither of tragedy nor of comedy. There was no describing it. It was manifold and various; there were tears and laughter, happiness and woe; it was tedious and interesting and indifferent; it was as you saw it; it was tumultuous and passionate; it was grave; it was sad and comic; it was trivial; it was simple and complex; joy was there and despair; the love of mothers for their children, and of men for women; lust trailed itself through the rooms with leaden feet, punishing the guilty and the innocent, helpless wives and wretched children; drink seized men and women and cost its inevitable price; death sighed in these rooms; and the beginning of life, filling some poor girl with terror and shame, was diagnosed there. There was neither good nor bad there. There were just facts. It was life." I thought this was such an exquisite depiction.

On the meaning of life
As you might expect, this question comes up QUITE a bit. I can assert, after having read 82 novels on this list, that NO ONE HAS GIVEN ME THE ANSWER. I know, Bummer! What good are these novels, anyway? Well, that's not entirely true. According to the computer in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the meaning of life is 42. So that's at least some help.

Here are Maugham's contributions to this deep query. 

Cronshaw: "Pray tell me what is the meaning of life?"
Philip: "I say, that's rather a difficult question. Won't you give me the answer yourself?"
Cronshaw: "No, because it's worthless unless you yourself discover it." Oh gee, thanks, Cronshaw. You're NO HELP.

"In the vast warp of life (a river arising from no spring and flowing endlessly to no sea), with the background to his fancies that there was no meaning and that nothing was important, a man might get a personal satisfaction in selecting the various strands that worked out the pattern. There was one pattern, the most obvious, perfect, and beautiful, in which a man was born, grew to manhood, married, produced children, toiled for his bread, and died; but there were others, intricate and wonderful, in which happiness did not enter and in which success was not attempted; and in them might be discovered a more troubling grace." While this ultimately gets a lot deeper (and darker) in Philip's musings, I loved this part of his philosophy. A life does not require happiness and regularity to be beautiful and full of meaning, and perhaps that 'troubling grace' is something we should spend more time exploring.

"Perhaps religion is the best school of morality. It is like one of those drugs you gentlemen use in medicine which carries another in solution: it is of no efficacy in itself, but enable the other to be absorbed. You take your morality because it is combined with religion; you lose the religion and the morality stays behind." I don't mean to diminish others' faith or capacity for spiritual belief, and to be frank, I admire them for it. For me, though, this depiction of religion was very apt. I frequently wonder whether I will raise my children with some sort of 'morality school', or whether I will draw on the morals from major religions to inform their lives. I think I may use books of all kinds (including spiritual texts) to probe issues of morality. (I know, #nerd ;))

Med school - apparently some things never change!
On the pervasive smell of formaldehyde in the cadaver room: 
His hands smelt of that peculiar odour which he had first noticed that morning in the corridor. He thought his muffin tasted of it too.
'Oh, you'll get used to that', said Newson. 'When you don't have the good old dissecting-room stink about, you feel quite lonely.' Diana and my roomie's brother, both med students, have referenced this particularity of anatomy class and the clinging quality to this odor.

So... I watch too much Grey's Anatomy, and these two bits were straight out of a Grey's episode:
The surgeon for whom Philip dressed was in friendly rivalry with a colleague as to which could remove an appendix in the shortest time and with the smallest incision. This reminded me of George's disastrous 'appy' in the first episode. Watch out, 007! 

What the dresser could manage himself he did, but if there was anything important he sent for the house-surgeon: he did this with care, since the house-surgeon was not vastly pleased to be dragged down five flights of stairs for nothing. I had an image of Bailey zonked out on a gurney and Izzy trying to decide if it was worth it to wake her to put in a central line.

Philip only has super healthy relationships:
Philip: "Love was like a parasite in his heart, nourishing a hateful existence on his life's blood; it absorbed his existence so intensely that he could take pleasure in nothing else." Ah yes, that's the kind of love I strive for, Philip! A good ole parasite kind of love. 

Philip, to Mildred: "If you only knew how heartily I despise myself for loving you!" Stop, Philip! That line makes ALL the girls swoon. ;)

Mildred, Philip's boomerang of an on-again, off-again gf: "Oh, I don't mind your kissing me now and then. It doesn't hurt me and it gives you pleasure." Wow. That sounds like AWESOME logic. Make him feel great, Mildred.

Philip, to Mildred, after she reads him a letter that his best friend, Griffiths, wrote to her, professing his love:
"It's a little awkward for me, isn't it?" ahgahgahghagha JUST A LITTLE BIT, Philip.

Worst Breakup ever
"My dear Norah -

I am sorry to make you unhappy, but I think we had better let things remain where we left them on Saturday. I don't think there's any use in letting these things drag on when they've ceased to be amusing. You told me to go and I went. I do not propose to come back. Good-bye.
                                                                               Philip Carey"

OUCH, Philip. Let's not let things DRAG ON, shall we? Some of us had to PERSEVERE when your life was Dragging on, didn't we?

Philip falling into a SPIRAL of worsening poverty:
Step 1 - Confusion: "He began to be too dazed to think clearly and ceased very much to care what would happen to him. He cried a good deal."

Step 2 - All of the Emotions!: "He was in a hysterical state and almost anything was enough to make him cry."

Step 3 - Your friends get hip to the sitch and SAVE your sorry ass:
Athelny: I wrote to you last Sunday to ask if anything was the matter with you, and as you didn't answer I went to your rooms on Wednesday.
  Philip turned his head away and did not answer. His heart began to beat violently. Athelny did not speak, and presently the silence seemed intolerable to Philip. He could not think of a single word to say.
   'Your landlady told me you hadn't been in since Saturday night, and she said you owed her for the last month. Where have you been sleeping all this week?'
   It made Philip sick to answer. He stared out of the window.
   'I tried to find you.'
  Philip was afraid he was going to cry. He felt very weak. He shut his eyes and frowned, trying to control himself.
  'Now you're coming to live with us till you find something to do,' said Athelny.
 Philip did not answer. He had refused instinctively from fear that he would be a bother, and he had a natural bashfulness of accepting favours.
  'Of course you must come here', said Athelny. 'Thorpe will tuck in with one of his brothers and you can sleep in his bed. You don't suppose your food's going to make any difference to us.'
   Philip was afraid to speak, and Athelny, going to the door, called to his wife.
  'Betty,' he said, 'Mr. Carey's coming to live with us.'
  'Oh, that is nice,' she said. 'I'll go and get the bed ready.'
  She spoke in such a hearty, friendly tone, taking everything for granted, that Philip was deeply touched. He never expected people to be kind to him, and when they were it surprised and moved him. Now he could not prevent two large tears from rolling down his cheeks. The Athelnys discussed the arrangements and pretended not to notice to what a state his weakness had brought him." As pathetic as Philip had become by this point, this was probably my favorite scene in the book. It exposed his utter vulnerability and basically the ONLY time that someone was actually reliable and ready to help him out of trouble.

Over the course of reading, I started to compare myself to Philip (I know, BAD IDEA, RIGHT?). Here's the Venn diagram I came up with.

Some striking similarities
  • Mrs. Carey: "What are you going to be, Philip?
          Philip: "I don't know. I've not made up my mind." that makes two of us, Philip!
  • He welcomed wet days because on them he could stay at home without pangs of conscience. Nothing makes me happier than a rainy (or snowy!) day to break up a long stretch of sunshine.
  • Now and then it made him restless to be with people and he wanted urgently to be alone.
  • When he put away the religion in which he had been brought up, he had kept unimpaired the morality which was part and parcel of it. This line makes me think of this line from Sabrina, on Linus Larrabee: He thinks morals are paintings on walls and scruples are money in Russia. 
  • Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five. Without an adequate income half the possibilities of life are shut off... It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank, and independent. I concur, Philip. Just enough to preserve my dignity, be generous, and independent, and I'm good to go!
A few Definite Differences
  • Philip had an unfortunate trait: from shyness or from some atavistic inheritance of the cave-dweller, he always disliked people on first acquaintance; and it was not till he became used to them that he got over his first impression. It made him difficult of access. Aw, poor Philip. You would have made a great Ford!
  • People told him he was unemotional; but he knew that he was at the mercy of his emotions: an accidental kindness touched him so much that sometimes he did not venture to speak in order not to betray the unsteadiness of his voice. Philip really needs some friends. 
  • He was infinitely grateful for one word of kindness. I mean, we all like kindness, but Philip seems to crave it like a drug, which puts him in some awkward situations.
As I mentioned briefly in my synopsis, Philip does get his happy ending, though I'm not entirely sure he deserves it. (OK, I guess he deserves it, mostly).

He develops a kinship (I won't say love, because love is apparently not quite the same for Philip) with his buddy Athelny's daughter, Sally. Here's their relationship in a stop motion film:

Their first meeting while vacationing together picking hops in the field:
Philip, to Sally: You look like a milkmaid in a fairy story.

Finally, something Philip is good at (WHAT? It's True!) - Bathing in the lake with Athelny's other children:
"Swimming was his only accomplishment; he felt at home in the water; and soon he had them all imitating him as he played at being a porpoise, and a drowning man, and a fat lady afraid of wetting her hair. The bathe was uproarious, and it was necessary for Sally to be very severe to induce them all to come out." One time, Lexie and Dinah and I refused to get out of the pool at Iona (I own a pool - did you know that?) and Mommy left without us, to show us who was boss. #truestory #wefiguredoutitwasher

A nighttime tryst in the hop fields:
- They turned a corner, and a breath of warm wind beat for a moment against their faces. The earth gave forth its freshness. There was something strange in the tremulous night, and something, you knew not what, seemed to be waiting; the silence was on a sudden pregnant with meaning.

- He did not know what there was in the air that made his senses so strangely alert; it seemed to him that he was pure soul to enjoy the scents and the sounds and the savours of the earth. He had never felt such an exquisite capacity for beauty.

- He heard a step on the road, and a figure came out of the darkness.
"Sally," he murmured.
She stopped and came to the stile, and with her came sweet, clean odours of the country-side. She seemed to carry with her scents of the new-mown hay, and the savour of ripe hops, and the freshness of young grass. Her lips were soft and full against his, and her lovely, strong body was firm within his arms.
"Milk and honey," he said. "You're like milk and honey."

I'm not exactly sure why, but this scene reminded me of when Montag meets Clarisse in Fahrenheit-451. Here's that interaction:
"The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting the motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward. Her head was half bent to watch her shoes stir the circling leaves. Her face was slender and milk-white, and it it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity. It was a look, almost, of pale surprise; the dark eyes were so fixed to the world that no move escaped them. Her dress was white and it whispered."

Passages that struck me:
  • The summer came upon the country like a conqueror.
  • It was June, and Paris was silvery with the delicacy of the air.
  • Fate seemed to tower above them, and they danced as though everlasting darkness were beneath their feet.
  • Philip, on coming home: He was thankful for the beauty of England. He thought of the winding white roads and the hedgerows, the green meadows with their elm-trees, the delicate line of the hills and the copses that crowned them, the flatness of the marshes, and the melancholy of the North Sea. He was very glad that he felt its loveliness.
  • Cronshaw, to Philip, on dying while destitute: What do the circumstances of your life matter if your dreams make you lord paramount of time and space?
  • on the mystical writers of Spain: Life was passionate and manifold, and because it offered so much they felt a restless yearning for something more; because they were human they were unsatisfied; and they threw this eager vitality of theirs into a vehement striving after the ineffable.
Well, this post has gone a bit long (AHEM - much like Of Human Bondage) so my apologies for that, but It's MY Blob after all, and I'll BLOB as long as I like. 

I'll leave you with this line about young Philip:
"The summer was come now, and the gardener, an old sailor, made him a hammock and fixed it up for him in the branches of a weeping willow. And here for long hours he lay, hidden from anyone who might come to the vicarage, reading, reading passionately."

I don't have a weeping willow, or a hammock for that matter, but like Anne, I will simply have to IMAGINE them as I delve into Weight's Spectrum. Join me if you will!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
Anne of Green Gables is a tale of acceptance, family, imagination, and the pleasures of a simple life. It begins with the (accidental - they were planning to adopt a boy) adoption of Anne (with an e) Shirley by middle-aged sister and brother Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island, and chronicles Anne's time with the Cuthberts through adolescence and into maturity. [NB: This is the first of a series of books, but I have opted to just read the first one for now. I would imagine Anne is quite a bit more grown up by the end of the series - she is eighteen at the end of this one, I think, or thereabouts.] Anne is an ardent romantic and has an active imagination, while Marilla is of a more somber and sensible disposition. Green Gables is a lovely farm full of lush natural beauty, and as Anne falls in love with Green Gables and its surrounding town, Avonlea, Marilla and Matthew fall head over heels for Anne. Anne's path to adulthood, like any teenager's, is full of stops and starts, and plenty of mini-catastrophes and hijinx ensue along the journey. But, nurtured by the love and affection of the Cuthberts and the rest of the Avonlea community, the erstwhile orphan eventually finds her way.
Spoiler Over: Continue Here

While I don't think I've ever read Anne of Green Gables, the Canadian-produced TV movie was a staple in our house growing up, and, like any good video that takes up two whole VCR tapes (hehehe THROWBACK), it stayed quite true to the novel, so I felt like I'd already read it when I dove in. Reading this book was like coming back to an old friend - Anne Shirley occupies the same place in my heart as Josephine March, Elizabeth Bennet, Scarlett O'Hara, or the Pevensie children. Some characters are so familiar to me that I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't aware of them. They feel like intimate friends, and I know their habits, trials and tribulations, and what makes them tick almost instinctively. Reading about them is less about discovery and more about remembrance of things past (AHGHAGHAG get it? PROUST JOKE. #iknowimawesomeright)
Who are these characters for you? Who feels so familiar to you that you can barely remember a time in your life when they weren't a part of your imagination?

A Quick Character Study:
- As in any great series of books, Anne of Green Gables builds a rich and familiar cast of characters from the Cuthberts, to Mrs. Rachel Lynde, to Josie Pye, Diana Barry, Miss Stacy, and Gilbert Blythe. Here are a few snapshots that capture the leading ladies and gents...

Mrs. Rachel Lynde (the Cuthbert's neighbor, town gossip, and friend of Marilla and Matthew)
  • "She thought in exclamation points." (ex: after she finds out the Cuthberts are adopting a child: "Well the world was certainly turning upside down! She would be surprised at nothing after this! Nothing!") heh heh heh. 
Marilla Cuthbert (Anne's adopted parent and Matthew's sister)
  • "[Marilla was] always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed to her too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously." hear that, sunshine? stop your pesky dancing! I mean it!
Matthew Cuthbert (Anne's adopted parent and Marilla's brother)
  • "Matthew dreaded all women except Marilla and Mrs. Rachel; he had an uncomfortable feeling that the mysterious creatures were secretly laughing at him." Matthew is such a soft, sweet soul. When I think of the word 'avuncular' I see Matthew in my head.
Anne (with an e) Shirley
  • "I didn't mean to be wicked. It's so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn't it?"
  • To Marilla: "You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair."
  • "Isn't it splendid there are so many things to like in this world?"
  • To Marilla, on spelling Anne with an 'e': "Oh, it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can't you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. If you'll only call me Anne spelled with an e I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia." Anne tries to get Marilla to call her Cordelia, but Marilla stolidly refuses. What would you pick as a new name if you could switch yours? I think I might like to be called Katerina - it's my middle name, so it's not really cheating... right?
Gilbert Blythe (Anne's schoolmate, frenemy, crush, etc. etc.)
  • To Anne, after she's been punished in front of the class for smashing a slate over Gil's head when he called her 'Carrots': "I'm awful sorry I made fun of your hair, Anne. Honest I am. Don't be mad for keeps, now." Oh, but Anne IS mad for keeps. It takes her a LONG time to get over that. 
- Anne-isms (aka her penchant for hyperbole):
Part of Anne's charm is her dramatic sensibility - here are a few of my favorite exchanges:

--When Anne thinks she won't be allowed to stay at Green Gables because Marilla plans to return her for a boy:

Marilla - "You're not eating anything."
Anne - "I can't. I'm in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?"
Marilla  - "I've never been in the depths of despair, so I can't say." Welcome to the pit of.. Excuse me. (clears throat) Welcome... to the Pit of Despair.

Marilla - "Good night."
Anne - "How can you call it a good night when you know it must be the very worst night I've ever had?" Poor Anne - it is really a very sad moment, but she's so adorably dramatic about it that it becomes comical. I also found it amusing because I knew already that Anne would get to stay. ;)

--On not being a part of the newest town fashion:
"Anne felt that life was really not worth living without puffed sleeves." Ah yes. What IS life without puffed sleeves?

--Anne, on an upcoming event:
"I don't feel that I could endure the disappointment if anything happened to prevent me from getting to the picnic. I suppose I'd live through it, but I'm certain it would be a lifelong sorrow."

--Anne, on the new dresses Marilla has made:

Marilla - "Well, how do you like them?"
Anne - "I'll imagine that I like them." haghaghahghaghag. Nice, Anne. Reallll subtle. ;)

--Anne, on why she likes the new teacher Miss Stacy:
"When she pronounces my name I feel instinctively that she's spelling it with an e."

--Anne, apologizing to Diana's Aunt Josephine after they've jumped on her by accident when she was sleeping in the spare room bed:
"Miss Marilla Cuthbert is a very kind lady who has taken me to bring up properly. She is doing her best, but it is very discouraging work. You must not blame here because I jumped on the bed."

--Anne, via note, to Diana, after Diana ignores her at school at her mother's behest:
"Of course I am not cross at you because you have to obey your mother. Our spirits can commune."
                          --- Yours until death us do part,
                                             Anne OR CORDELIA Shirley haghahghaghaghaghag. XOXO, ANNA

--Anne, on praying:
"Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I'd look up into the sky - up - up - up - into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer." I couldn't agree more, Anne. I like to look up when I pray and think of the heavens and nature expanding wide open above me to accept my thoughts.

- Anne's first view of Green Gables:
"Below them was a pond, looking almost like a river so long and winding was it. A bridge spanned it midway and from there to its lower end, where an amber-hued belt of sand hills shut it in from the dark blue gulf beyond, the water was a glory of many shifting hues - the most spiritual shadings of crocus and rose and ethereal green, with other elusive tintings for which no name has ever been found. Above the bridge the pond ran up into fringing groves of fir and maple and lay all darkly translucent in their wavering shadows. Here and there a wild plum leaned out from the bank like a white-clad girl tiptoeing to her own reflection. From the marsh at the head of the pond came the clear, mournfully-sweet chorus of the frogs. There was a little gray house peering around a white apple orchard on a slope beyond and, although it was not yet quite dark, a light was shining from one of its windows."
I think if I could live in any fictional place, Green Gables might just be it. It reminds me of everything I loved about growing up in Lebanon (cooking with 4-H, learning to quilt and cross-stitch, running past cows and cornfields, and knowing everyone tangentially from the grocer to the movie store clerk) and simultaneously stimulates my nostalgia for Rosehaven, the family farm my mother and aunts and uncles grew up on, riding horses, skating on the pond in winters, and making jams and canning vegetables in the summers. My grandmother had to sell Rosehaven when I was only three, so I have almost no recollection of it, but my adult life has been pervaded by a deep longing to recreate the atmosphere and magic of Rosehaven by finding a farm of my own to inhabit. Maybe one day I'll find my own Green Gables. Where would you choose to live if you could pick your own fictional home?

- Anne, to Marilla, on bosom friends:
"Do you think I shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea? An intimate friend, you know - a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul." Anne finds a bosom friend in Diana Barry, her next door neighbor. I have been lucky to find many a bosom friend in my time, from my very own next door neighbors the Light ladies, to my roomie Laura Beth 'Longfur' Ryals, to my fellow cellist Margalit Monroe, to my work bestie Michelle Staack, to my longest friend and French buddy, Deanna Blouch Gamon, to my quartet mates Dennis Earl Norris and Halley Jean Cody, to my nearest and dearest darlings, my very own sisters Lexie and Diana. These and many others have filled a space in my heart, and I hope that the future holds more bosom friends for me (and you!) to find. I wish love, hugs, and happiness to all of my bosom friends out there in the world.

- It will not rain! You always Say that, and it oolWays Does!
Anne is terrified it will rain on the day Mrs. Allan (the minister's wife) invites her to tea.
"The rustle of the poplar leaves about the house worried her, it sounded so like pattering rain drops, and the dull, faraway roar of the gulf, to which she listened delightedly at other times, loving its strange, sonorous, haunting rhythm, now seemed like a prophecy of storm and disaster to a small maiden who particularly wanted a fine day."
This line reminded me of To the Lighthouse, when Mr. Ramsay claims that the clouds ominously portend rain for the coming day, and Mrs. Ramsay says to her son James, who desperately wants to visit the lighthouse tomorrow, "Perhaps you will wake up and find the sun shining and the birds singing."

- Who needs city life when you can have the country expanding before you?
Anne: "I wasn't born for city life and I am glad of it. It's nice to be eating ice cream at brilliant restaurants at eleven o'clock once in awhile, but as a regular thing I'd rather be in the east gable at eleven, sound asleep, but kind of knowing even in my sleep that the stars were shining outside and that the wind was blowing in the firs across the brook." I couldn't agree more, Anne. I've found myself living in cities for the last few years, but more and more I ache for country living with crickets and trains sounding in the night.

Passages I parTicularly Liked:
  • "Marilla was not given to subjective analysis of her thoughts and feelings. She probably imagined that she was thinking about the Aids and their missionary box and the new carpet for the vestry room, but under these reflections was a harmonious consciousness of red fields smoking into pale purply mists in the declining sun, of long, sharp-pointed fir shadows falling over the meadow beyond the brook, of still, crimson-budded maples around a mirror-like wood pool, of awakening in the world and a stir of hidden pulses under the gray sod. The spring was abroad in the land and Marilla's sober, middle-aged step was lighter and swifter because of its deep, primal gladness." Spring is on the horizon! Get excited!
  • "A cool wind was blowing down over the long harvest fields from the rims of firry western hills and whistling through the poplars. One clear star hung above the orchard and the fireflies were flitting over in Lovers' Lane, in and out among the ferns and rustling boughs. Anne watched them as she talked and somehow felt that wind and stars and fireflies were all tangled up together into something unutterably sweet and enchanting."
  • "The night was clear and frosty, all ebony of shadow and silver of snowy slope; big stars were shining over the silent fields; here and there the dark pointed firs stood up with snow powdering their branches and the wind whistling through them."
  • On Anne's room at Green Gables - "It was full of a new vital, pulsing personality that seemed to pervade it and to be quite independent of schoolgirl books and dresses and ribbons, and even of the cracked blue jug full of apple blossoms on the table. It was as if all the dreams, sleeping and waking, of its vivid occupant had taken a visible although immaterial form and had tapestried the bare room with splendid filmy tissues of rainbow and moonshine."
  • On the Barry's garden: "It was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have delighted Anne's heart at any time less fraught with destiny. It was encircled by huge old willows and tall firs, beneath which flourished flowers that loved the shade. Prim, right-angled paths neatly bordered with clamshells, intersected it like moist red ribbons and in the beds between old-fashioned flowers ran riot. There were rosy bleeding-hearts and great splendid crimson peonies; white, fragrant narcissi and thorny, sweet Scotch roses; pink and blue and white columbines and lilac-tinted Bouncing Bets; clumps of southernwood and ribbon grass and mint; purple Adam-and-Eve, daffodils, and masses of sweet clover white with its delicate, fragrant, feathery sprays; scarlet lightning that shot its fiery lances over prim white musk-flowers; a garden it was where sunshine lingered and bees hummed, and winds, beguiled into loitering, purred and rustled."
I know this was a long post, but Anne deserves her fair share of my time, being such a bosom friend and all. I'll leave you with this bit on Anne not wanting any life but her own, in the end:

"'Well, I don't want to be anyone but myself, even if I go uncomforted by diamonds all my life. I'm quite content to be Anne of Green Gables.' Anne's horizons had closed in since the night she had sat there after coming home from Queen's; but if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!"

May you find the joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship, and if you find yourself stagnating, look once more to your ideal world of dreams. As Anne would say, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

Onwards, to days without mistakes yet and Of Alien Servitude.