Because I have been a negligent blogger and have recently discovered that I have missed out on the birthday ode trend here and here, I feel I must make up for my lack and pay tribute to those who came into this world in the month of June.
This picture pretty much sums up the way I feel about Koseli. She's cute, unbelievably sweet and looks great in a knitted poncho. She loves doll clothes, finger puppets, tiny tea sets and really fantastic music. When I call her and she answers the phone she starts laughing. When she calls me and I answer the phone she laughs even harder. The best thing you can do when you're around Koseli is to get her to laugh. When she laughs really hard she closes her eyes, throws her head back, and cackles. I think Koseli has always been a relief to those of us who don't tell the best jokes. I spent much of my childhood playing with Koseli. When we shared a room, her things were always organized and neatly folded; in my mind I can hear the radio playing some music from the 1950's as I watch Koseli carefully smooth out the sheets on the top bunkbed and place her beloved doll, Kirsten, carefully next to her pillow. When Koseli was in high school I used to sit on her bed and talk. Koseli always listened. She was always quick to laugh and willing to play a game of Uno. And most important of all, Koseli was nice, even when I was not. We had our fights. She said that she swore never to talk to me again at least one hundred times during our childhood. Nevertheless, here we are today. And I can safely say that she is one of the most influential people in my life.
This is not a picture of Shirsti.
Shirsti is a human. But she didn't used to be.
She used to be a cat.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about growing up with Shirsti is that she has the most enormous imagination I have ever beheld. Anything she imagines- any story she tells, any character she makes up- is real. When we were little I spent days with Shirsti as a Flying Lemur attempting to escape the notorious Billy Bob. On others we were geese flying to Canada and narrowly escaping resounding gunshots. In the fall she would make Koseli and me close our eyes as she took us through the Haunted Wood, a figment of all our imaginations that was simply terrifying.
Shirsti is my fellow comrade in loving all things fluffy and soft. When we were younger, Shirsti made up the most fantastic stories about our cat, Sam. According to Shirsti, Sam wasn't just any ordinary cat. She had a boyfriend (an imaginary guitar-playing Tomcat with a Spanish accent named Lufer, who was really just the August picture on one of my many cat calendars), a multitude of diseases (stinky eye, crisp ear, flat twazz) and the most ridiculous voice you've ever heard. Yes, she gave our cat a voice, and now whenever I think of Sam I think of her in that completely, utterly ridiculous and hilarious voice.
Shirsti astonishes everyone she meets. She's gorgeous, and seems rather intimidating. And then you talk to her and realize she's incredibly nice. And then you get to know her, possibly see her dance and realize she's crazy-- but only in the best way possible.
So here's to Shirsti and Koseli. I can't imagine better sisters than you.
Ayn Rand has been on my to-read list for years. As I read, I found myself frustrated by the fact that none of the characters appealed to me; Howard Roark, Dominique Francon, Ellsworth-- they are all really truly horrible people. The heartless philosophy! The endless politics! Well, it was a little overbearing. And then, one day, I understood it (finally!). The Fountainhead is a beautiful book. It's terrible in certain ways-- powerful and intimidating and incredibly frustrating. But about halfway into it, it literally changed the way I saw the world, and any book that can do that is worth reading.
This too is a book I've always meant to read. I've read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I must say I prefer those books over the Hobbit. However, it was a fast read and it was actually extremely funny. Bilbo is often in cold places, and he is also very often wet. I couldn't stop shivering! I recommend reading it in bed, in the bath, next to a fire, or somewhere very warm.
Arden of Faversham
This is an extremely interesting play about a woman in the early 15th century who murders her own husband. Though definitely not as eloquent as Shakespeare, it was well-written. I also delighted in the characters Shakebag and Black Will, who made me laugh out loud. This play didn't take more than three hours to read, and it was surprisingly graphic. It's a story violent enough for an episode of CSI, so it's morbid enough even for me.
The Book Thief
I was fortunate enough to finish this jewel of a book at home where I could cry my eyes out in privacy. An interesting story with an unlikely narrator. Slightly predictable outcome but profoundly beautiful nonetheless.
The Merry Wives of Windsor
All I can say is this: I love Shakespeare. This play had me laughing out loud. If Queen Elizabeth loved Falstaff enough to request his presence in another play, I think anyone would be hard-pressed not to want more. It made me wish my days consisted of scheming up pranks to play on fat old knights too.
The Hunger Games
I only allow myself a narrow taste of popular fiction because
1. I go through them way too fast and
2. If I read too much I'll start thinking like a lovesick teenager.
Despite this, I ate this book up just like I knew I would. It's as mesmerizing as Twilight without the vampires. I haven't read the entire trilogy, but am eagerly anticipating borrowing them and allowing my time at work to fly by while I read them.
The Jew of Malta
I am of the firm conviction that, if he had lived, Christopher Marlowe would have given Shakespeare a run for his money. I mean... with a play like Dr. Faustus under his belt, how he could he not? This play is decidedly anti-Semetic and simultaneously anti-Christian. Marlowe seems to be against religion period, especially in his formation of Barabas, the unbelievably evil Jewish protagonist. I love this quote, look at this:
As for myself, I walk abroad o' nights,
And kill sick people groaning under walls:
Sometimes I go about and poison wells;
And now and then, to cherish Christian thieves,
I am content to lose some of my crowns,
That I may, walking in my gallery,
See 'em go pinion'd along by my door.
Being young, I studied physic, and began
To practice first upon the Italian;
There I enrich'd the priests with burials,
And always kept the sexton's arms in ure 80
With digging graves and ringing dead men's knells:
And, after that, was I an engineer,
And in the wars 'twixt France and Germany,
Under pretence of helping Charles the Fifth,
Slew friend and enemy with my stratagems:
Then, after that, was I an usurer,
And with extorting, cozening, forfeiting,
And tricks belonging unto brokery,
I fill'd the gaols with bankrupts in a year,
And with young orphans planted hospitals;
And every moon made some or other mad,
And now and then one hang himself for grief,
Pinning upon his breast a long great scroll
How I with interest tormented him.
But mark how I am blest for plaguing them;—
I have as much coin as will buy the town.
But tell me now, how hast thou spent thy time?
I mean, really? Kill sick people groaning under walls?
Despite his preposterous badness, Barabas is fascinating, and the language in the play is profoundly beautiful. Truly ingenious.
Wow. Wow!! I don't know how he does it, but David Mitchell somehow manages to flawlessly genre jump from history, to mystery, to philosophy, to romance, and back again. This book was nothing less than fascinating. The language is a little on the scandalous side of things, but if you're willing to take a risk I promise you it's worth it. I have never been more amazed with an author's versatility of voice either: how he manages to procure six completely believable characters (some with accents?!?) and keep them consistent is beyond my own reckoning. A gem of a read.
The House of Mirth
I love Edith Wharton. She is absolutely hilarious, and her characters are warm and memorable. But The House of Mirth is a book that you need to be in the right kind of mood to read. If you are not prepared to read about Lily Bart's lovely complexion next to the tea-house roses in the garden for ten pages, you are not quite ready to take on Edith Wharton. Nevertheless, the social scope and character complexity of the novel was never lost on me. When it comes to understanding Old New York and the nouveau riche, a properly decorated apartment, an appropriate dinner-party dress, and the crushing social norms of the early 19th century, Edith Wharton is key.
I have recently re-read this book, and there's just no getting around it: it's good. Surprisingly good. Probably one of my favorite books of all time. A good social study and delightfully depressing.
Currently in progress last three months and counting: War and Peace.