Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Top 5 Tuesday

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In the last few days leading up to my college graduation, my beloved roommate gave me a simple lined journal as a gift. We’d had great fun throughout the year posting our favorite quotes from a variety of sources on a large piece of white butcher paper that we conveniently positioned in the center of our apartment, so in honor of that tradition, she inscribed a few pages of the journal with some of our most cherished lines, along with a personal note. I began to use the journal frequently, to keep track of touching, impressive quotes or powerful passages that I didn’t want to forget. I was prone to snatching whatever writing implement I could find and quickly scribbling the words wherever they might fit on the page.

When we moved from New York to Austin, however, my little book got lost in a pile of boxes, and for these past two years, I’ve just neglected the hobby. Imagine my joy and happiness when I unearthed it on one of my many unproductive unpacking days. Yes, moments like that, when I find something really GOOD, cause me to become completely distracted. My literature journal is one of the reasons why my garage isn’t quite the organized storage facility that it should be!

I decided for this week’s top 5 to include five of my favorite random scribblings. They’re from a variety of books that I have loved. Some are just a line or two, others are full pages from the book. I’m not going to elaborate on any of them just now-I think they’re perfectly eloquent and meaningful without my analysis. Now that I’ve found my journal, I can only hope to add more and more for memory’s sake.

5. from The World According to Garp, by John Irving.
“If you are careful,” Garp wrote, “if you use good ingredients, and you don’t take any shortcuts, then can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day: what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love.”
4. from The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James.
“The inconvenience-as always happens in such cases-was not that you minded what was false, but that you missed what was true.”
3. from Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
My mother wanted someone to feel about her the way Sherman did about Elizabeth and she knew that my father would never be that man. I used to stand on our dock looking back at that sun-struck house of my childhood and tell myself that I would one day love a woman the way Sherman did. I wanted to walk the whole world until I found a girl I could write letters to that her descendants would hang up on library walls. I would march to the sea with that girl’s name on my lips, and I would write her name in the sands until the tides washed over it. The story marked me. But it changed my mother’s life.
2. from The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
People who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth. They don’t look down at all except to be content to live on hills. They have nothing to do with last week’s garbage or fear of rats. Night comes. Nothing wakes them but the wind.

One day I’ll own my own house, but I won’t forget who I am or where I came from. Passing bums will ask, Can I come in? I’ll offer them the attic, ask them to stay, because I know how it is to be without a house.

Some days after diner, guests and I will sit in front of a fire. Floorboards will squeak upstairs. The attic grumbles. Rats? they’ll ask. Bums, I’ll say, and I’ll be happy.
1. from Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier.
When she reached the place, the boy had already gathered up the horses and gone. She went to the men on the ground and looked at them, and then she found Inman apart from them. She sat and held him in her lap. He tried to talk, but she hushed him. He drifted in and out and dreamed a bright dream of home. It had a coldwater spring rising out of rock, black dirt fields, old trees. In his dream, the year seemed to be happening all at one time, all the seasons blending together. Apple trees hanging heavy with fruit but yet unaccountably blossoming, ice rimming the spring, okra plants blooming yellow and maroon, maple leaves red as October, corn tops tasseling, a stuffed chair pulled up to a glowing fire hearth, pumpkins shining in the fields, laurels blooming on the hillsides, ditch banks full of orange jewelweed, white blossoms on dogwood, purple on redbud. Everything coming around at once. And there were white oaks, and a great number of crows, or at least the spirits of crows, dancing and singing in the upper limbs. There was something he wanted to say.

An observer situated up on the brow of the ridge would have looked down on a still, distant tableau in the winter woods. A creek, remnants of snow. A wooded glade, secluded from the generality of mankind. A pair of lovers. The man reclined with his head in the woman’s lap. She, looking down into his eyes, smoothing back the hair from his brow. He, reaching an arm awkwardly around to hold her at the soft part of her hip. Both touching each other with great intimacy. A scene of such quiet and peace that the observer on the ridge could avouch to it later in such a way as might lead those of glad temperaments to imagine some conceivable history where long decades of happy union stretched before the two on the ground.

Let the record show that I miss my sweet roommate! She was the very best! Some of my most fond and memorable moments from college were shared with her!

1 comment:

glenn said...

good stuff, but man, those are some long quotes to be writing down in a notebook. impressive work. - elias