“Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone.”
This is my...more “Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone.”
This is my worst fear. I got goosebumps when I read it. To be forgotten… erased from memory. But, I don’t think that is what this book is about. (I just liked that quote). I think this book is about love and choices and damned be all who judges.
This is not a book I would have read on my own. I will start with that. But, I am glad that I did. I’m not sure I was changed by it, but the quick time that I spent in Janus with Tom and Isabel and Lucy.. well, it was precious.
I’ve always wanted to live in a lighthouse. Who doesn’t? I pity the landlocked. The sound of the ocean, the breaks in the water, the tidal pools… I miss it. You see, I have become one of the landlocked. Yes, I have a large lake, but it’s not the same. Not by far.
This is the lighthouse I want to live in.
I have since I was eight years old on vacation with my family. I love the pulley system, I love the little house, it’s close to land, but it’s not. I spent a lot of my teens here, I still visit at least yearly and I still want to live there.
In 1874 President Rutherford B. Hayes appropriated the sum of $15,000 to build a lighthouse on this “Nub” of land. On July 1, 1879 construction was completed on what, at the time, was known as the Knubble Lighthouse with a 4th order light began to protect our men and women on the sea. The men and women serving in the Lighthouse Service were the first guardians who provided great care for the light and its surrounding buildings… Eventually this service became short of resources and funding to care for our majestic beacons.Because of this in part, as well as the growing development of technology, the Lighthouses became automated. Nubble Light was automated in July, 1987
The lighthouse in this book is nothing like Nubble Light.
It’s its own little world and just as beautiful and just as important a character as anyone else. This is where Tom Sherbourne feels the safest. He’s been through WWI and likes the rules, the continuity, the sameness. He is a thoughtful man, one that holds the horrors of what he’s seen close to him. He meets Isabel who is light, quick to laugh, fierce in her love. I truly enjoyed these characters.
The life on the lighthouse seems to suit them and soon they become pregnant. Good people, who have much to offer, much love to share… and what happens? Life is a bitch. It is cruel and cold and unfair. Dammit.
But, what do they do? They persevere. They suffer through 3 miscarriages until the ocean brings them a gift. A baby in a dinghy (oh and her dead dad). What would you do? 100 miles from land with little contact with the outside world, just having buried your third child? I don’t blame them… they are good people.
“When it comes to their kids, parents are all just instinct and hope. And fear. Rules and laws fly straight out the window.”
Yep. This is the one thing in this book that is familiar to me. This and that life is a bitch. I don’t fault them their happiness and if it wasn’t for that damn onus. That stupid (view spoiler)[rattle. (hide spoiler)] I knew it was their downfall… they would have been FINE.
Well, except for the whole guilt feeling. That can get to some people and I truly wonder if I were in their place, would it bother me. Sad to say, I think not. Not after the life they were dealt.
“Perhaps when it comes to it, no one is just the worst thing they ever did.”
Word. I don’t believe that these actions cause these people to be bad. I understand that it left a hole in someone else’s life and yeah, that makes me sad, but really… the aftermath seems much worse.
Maybe I am going to hell. Maybe I am a rotten person.
“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.”
If only it were that easy for me.
This book is a tug of war of contradictions for me. I would do that and I would do that, but not that. I would feel guilt but I wouldn’t change.
Lately, a lot of what I’ve read has led me to these self doubts. Judging my own character against these fictional ones. Is this a book nerd’s midlife crisis?
I did cry. I cried for Tom, for Isabel, for Lucy, for Hannah. I can’t say what is right and what is wrong, only what would make the most joy or cause the most grief. It’s a heavy scale. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I just don’t get it. For the better part of my life I feel that I’ve leaned towards the glass half full-look at the bright side-I’d like...more I don’t know.
I just don’t get it. For the better part of my life I feel that I’ve leaned towards the glass half full-look at the bright side-I’d like to teach the world to sing-make lemonade-happy happy joy joy side of things.
Reading this book made me feel doomed. I snorted and harrumphed and tsk’d a lot at her observations and her truths and it made me Unhappy. I don’t much care for books that do that. Okay, let’s back up. I wasn’t expecting a life changer here. I thought it would be anecdotal, humorous, like maybe Amy Sedaris-ish or at least kitschy Erma Bombeck-y… I thought I might find a like-minded soul.
I did not.
I will take the blame for this. High expectations and crap. I should know better. Plus, I really don’t do well with the self-helpy kind of books. They tend to read like ‘all or nothing’ and ‘I am the expert’. This book didn’t do that but it did feel a little preachy. However… and here is where I am not liking myself and feeling sort of hypocritical and Debbie downerish….I’m not sure that she quite… she doesn’t… It’s not…
1. She is kind of privileged. She lives in Manhattan with a sane, functioning, providing, husband and two gifted little girls and getting to ‘work’ from home (I use quotes because she gets to write and stuff all day and she loves that and I’m not downplaying people who achieve their work nirvana or anything, but I don’t think she thinks it’s work either)
2. She has this awesome support system and lots and lots of friends. She goes to parties. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a party. Certainly not as a grown up.
3. I kind of feel like she’s throwing it in my face.
I know, I own this. She is just trying to get a little appreciation and warm fuzzies out of her day to day life (which is already pretty toasty). I am a major proponent in finding your happy place. Your gleemonex (if you are a Kids in the Hall fan). I just don’t like the way she tells it because she makes it feel like so much work. Become clutter free, don’t expect retribution, exercise more, sleep more, meet new friends, write a novel in a month, indulge yourself (modestly), lighten up, be serious about play, aim higher, stop nagging, don’t gossip, find a spiritual master.
Wow. I have 18 marked pages of issues that I wanted to counteract. That’s not good. I shouldn’t be judging like that. But, scoring your virtues? And taking this cue from Benjamin Franklin? I don’t know. That seems sketchy to me.
Pg. 18. “Was it supremely self-centered to spend so much effort on my own happiness?”
Hell yes. I mean, I’m sure others benefited, but if you started talking about having a play date to clutter free my closet, I’m going to want to punch you in the face.
Pg. 153 “I tried to remember not to judge people harshly, especially on the first or second encounter. Their actions might not reveal their enduring character but instead reflect some situation they find themselves in. Forbearance is a form of generosity.”
Doesn’t that sound snotty? I’m not saying she’s wrong.. I guess I’m just pointing out that her little realizations made me annoyed. I don’t want to be THAT person.
Pg. 215: "It took me a long time to accept this perverse fact—many people don’t want to be happy or at least don’t want to seem happy (and if they act as if they’re not happy, they’re not going to feel happy).”
Ugh. She makes me feel like one of those people and I started this book thinking I’d find kin! Now I’m a frowning, furrowed, huffy, lip biter who sees the bad instead of the good.
Yes, it’s my bad. I said that already. Why does she have to make happiness sound so exhausting? I get it, we need to be more aware of our blessings or what have you. Gratitude journals are big right now, daily truths, calm blue oceans, yoga and colored skies and Meyers Briggs, and parachutes and all that.
I came across a site that offered Positive Affirmations! (for a price) ‘Reminder: You can still grab The Positive Affirmations for Life program (The Positive Affirmation for Life program is a 4-hour audio program, spanning 7 important life series (see below). Each series contains three 12-minute tracks in MP3 format to play virtually anywhere. Plus you get an instructional guide and the complete audio transcripts in PDF format. You get immediate access to the entire product upon purchase.) With more than 4 hours of audio affirmations for 7 life situations that impact your happiness and success the most. You can buy your very own positive affirmation with a 30 day money back guarantee.
See, I’m a cynic. I’m grumpy and I want to argue with all her observations. I want to keep butting in saying ‘but, what about’, ‘and if you aren’t able to…’, ‘really?’. Crud. I hate myself.
Things I did learn from this book:
3 second hugs release oxytocin or dopamine or something that induces calmness (I wish I were a better hugger).
Studies DO show that instant gratification is just that. Can you imagine a study where people went and put like coins in a pay phone for other people to find to make their day? Weird.
I can’t start my own happiness project because I will just make myself miserable. (less)
Oh. This was good. This knew right where to burrow its pincers and plant that seedling. If that even works that way.
Ten letter word for incorporeal,...more Oh. This was good. This knew right where to burrow its pincers and plant that seedling. If that even works that way.
Ten letter word for incorporeal, evanescent, imponderable, unsure.
This weed that is growing is deep in my nethers. It hurts. It reminds me that something is missing, something/one that is far away, evasive. That what I consider is true love. True: “You choose your truth and then you build your life around it.”Love: “Greater love has no man than this: to lay down his life for his friends---JOHN 15:13”
This is the true love of friendship. The one that is supposed to be there for you always and forever. Not the gooey lust thing we sometimes mistake for love, but that feeling that no matter what you do, how you do it, if you are banished for doing it, if you become a pariah for doing it, you still have that one person you know has your back. And, they will hold your hair while you puke into a dumpster.. True Love.
Here we have Hannah (“Grace”) and Zoe (“Life”).
Hannah: “You’re a half glass empty kind of girl, aren’t you? No, not really, I just like surprises, so I keep my expectations low.”
Zoe: “We hate labels, but the doctors like to call it a thing that rhymes with hi-molar schmisdorder or zanic oppression. I just think she’s more alive than the rest of us.”
Intangible Things. These are the gifts that Zoe gives Hannah and the belief in the intangible is what she gets in return. Ultimate Trust, even when you have to trust the impossible.
That is the great theme in this book, the intangible.
Zoe’s brother, Noah (“Comfort”): “Zoe’s eight-year old little brother, Noah, has some kind of Aspergery thing. He could read when he was two. He understands Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. He’s read all of Stephen Hawking’s books. He is obsessed with the cosmos and talks about it constantly without ever noticing if you’re listening to him. And yet he cannot process anything at all irrational or intangible. Emotions are elusive to him. Dreaming and imagination, foreign. To help him, and since he loves museums, Zoe created the Museum of Intangible things, for which she creates a new installation in her basement every month. September’s project was “Pride.” In the corner, Zoe created a puffed-out human chest with papier-mache and peach tempers paint. A marionette peacock walked back and forth over a gay pride rainbow, while a video montage streamed footage of a mother watching her son graduate from college, a swimmer winning a gold medal, and an actress receiving an Academy Award. She covered the walls with white paper and asked me to write about when I feel proud."
"Zoe explains that ‘Sloth-Laziness-Depression” will consist of Barbie and Ken in gray felt outfits installed in a shoebox also covered in gray felt. She found an old flowered couch with the foam bulging from the rips of the cushions and on top of it, she flopped her mannequin dressed in a Snuggie. An old TV/VCR will stream infomercials and Zoe will scatter potato chips and empty soda cans around the couch, which will also be sprinkled with cat hair.. For the interactive part of the exhibit, she filled the pockets of an old fishing vest with rocks and will ask Noah to try it on. Behind a screen in the corner of the basement, to distinguish between sloth and sadness-slash-despair, Zoe created a beating heart impaled by a kitchen knife."
"Won’t that scare him? I ask."
“Um. Duh. He doesn’t understand fear.”.
This weed… it needs to be yanked. I need to fill this space with that sort of devotion, give and take. This book reminds me of that. Acceptance...that is intangible as well. (less)
I want to be the filling in a Rachel Cohn/David Levithan sandwich. I want to be BFFx3 with them. I want to swim in their words and dance between their...more I want to be the filling in a Rachel Cohn/David Levithan sandwich. I want to be BFFx3 with them. I want to swim in their words and dance between their snarky sparring. Oh, how I wish.
This is so my kind of book. This is so my kind of thing. I have totally done this. I am this. I use my words (always use your words) because my social skills are so lacking. The written word is my vehicle. I may babble, I may be self-absorbed, I may tangent (I’m using that as a verb, just so you know) but this is the most real me that you will ever see.
My confidence is like the Vegas Strip. It’s all ‘Look here!’ ‘No, look here!’ ‘Hey, buddy! Yo!’ when I write. Here is where I thrive. But… put me in a room with people and I shrivel. I stumble and I make really bad choices. I wish I could just email people or have my own reverse Speak and Spell, custom-made for my brand of communication. We’d have to let it loose to make up words and there would have to be a ‘no grammar bullying’ allowed.
Example: I tried online dating. Yes. I admit that. And my description is rambling and filled with quotes and pop culture references and the book section is like a mile long and any of the takers that could actually get through that and not ‘hey baby’ me and mention something that relates to my essay then I will respond. This is rare. I did, however, get one taker and we had amazing spar sessions, like blow your mind kind of repertoire. Then we met, and I must have somehow related my dufus self because ‘the end’.
There, that was a mighty big confession. I can do this in writing!! I can show you my scars and scrapes and I am okay because I have Lily:
“I don’t really know how to talk to boys. In person. Which is probably why I’ve become dependent on a notebook for creative expression of a potentially romantic nature.”
So, what I’m trying to say is, I get Dash and I get Lily. I love the idea of a treasure hunt in The Strand. I love the Strand. I love the curmudgeony hipster works, I love that I sneeze a lot because of the dusty shelves, I love walking down the stairs into the basement and seeing all the colored spines of the children books.(That's where it was when I lived there... can't say for sure now..) I am so jealous.
“I was spending time in the Strand, that bastion of titillating erudition, not so much a bookstore as the collision of a hundred different bookstores with literary wreckage strewn over eighteen miles of shelves. All the clerks there saunter-slouch around distractedly in their skinny jeans and their thrift-store button downs, like older siblings who will never, ever be bothered to talk to you or care about you or even acknowledge your existence if their friends are around…which they always are.”
Yes. Absolutely yes.
This whole story is filled with quotables. I am super jealous. I wanted to be the one to write these words. I wanted to be the one to say:
“I’ve always resented Hermione, because I wanted to be her so badly and she never seemed to appreciate as much as I thought she should that she got to be her. She got to live at Hogwarts and be friends with Harry and kiss Ron, which was supposed to happen to me.”
I want to cry. These are my people. This is my world. So, why am I here? I’m pathetic. I can’t grow up. I mean, look:
“At the end of the book, when Zooey calls Franny pretending to be their brother Buddy, trying to cheer her up, there’s a line where he talks about Franny going to the phone and becoming ‘younger with each step’ as she walked, because she’s making it to the other side. She’s going to be okay. At least that’s’ what I took it to mean. I want that. The getting younger with each step, because of anticipation, in hope and belief.”
So, here’s where I want to rant and rave. I come from a generation so disillusioned, so snarly, so underwhelmed. So, why do we have such high expectations? That’s what gets us in the end, the being let down. The anti-anticipation. I hate that. Maybe it’s because we crave hope. We have to think that something better has to be out there just to get through the day. We’ve even made happiness science a thing. So sad really.
“The world was too full of wastrels and waifs, sycophants and spies—all of whom put words to the wrong use, who made everything that was said or written suspect.”
“It’s that leap, that understanding, that leads to meaning. And a lot of the time in life, we’re still just sounding things out. We know the sentences and how to say them. We know the ideas and how to present them. We know the prayers and which words to say in what order. But that’s only spelling.”
Seriously… Rachel, David… please let me in.
Do I suggest that you read this? I think that I have a few requests. 1. You can’t have lost all hope 2. Put the cynicism aside, don’t worry, it will be right where you left it. 3. Accept the words. How they are presented to you how they extract, paint, bleed, sound, whatever…because this is a gift.
One last quote:
“We are reading the story of our lives. As though we were in it. As though we had written it.” (less)