Other than emails and the occasional attempt at a witty Twitter post, I haven’t written much in a while. I’m not sure how anyone handles being a professional writer. I can’t even write in my blog without thinking “someone’s already said this, this is pedantic.” I don’t know how someone spends three years on one novel they hope Oprah will like. I imagine despite the rep they get for being the flakey artistic type who work one month a year, writers are pretty formidable in their discipline. Good ones, that is.
Speaking of, I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, The Signature of All Things. It’s a novel featuring some light topics like evolution, colonialism, love and family woven into an ongoing lesson on botany. Ha. It’s a marathon. Maybe even a super marathon. I can’t remember the last time I read a book or even watched a movie that covered the entire span of a character’s life from birth to death (Benjamin Button doesn’t count). It lost me at points, mainly because I was shamelessly waiting for something reality-show-level-dramatic to happen. And when it didn’t, and in fact nothing too mind-blowing happened for a hundred pages, I instead thought back on all the little things I had missed waiting for a big thing (Note: That’s a metaphor for life that just happened). I wasn’t raving about the book every chapter while reading, but looking back on each chapter I now appreciate it for the characters and themes it constructed slowly but steadily into a mind-ninja of an ending. I underline bits and pieces of text that I really like as I read, and I may or may not have underlined the entire last chapter.
This book reaffirmed how I rate my favorite reads:
- You miss the characters, no matter how un-lovable, as soon as you’re done reading. In fact, the more un-lovable characters you miss, the better the novel.
- You want to meet the author to find out exactly what inspired every idea, character and sentence.
- You are already picking out the actors you would want to play in the movie/HBO mini-series version.
- You’re copying the underlined parts into Evernote to make sure they are always easily accessible.
- You file it away to recommend to only those who will appreciate it the way you deem appropriate.
I didn’t hang onto every word, but there are little persistent pieces of this novel that will hang onto me for a while.
"I believe that evolution explains nearly everything about us, and I certainly believe that it explains absolutely everything about the rest of the natural world. But I do not believe that evolution alone can account for our unique human consciousness. There is no evolutionary need, you see, for us to have such acute sensitivities of intellect and emotion. There is no practical need for the minds that we have. we don’t need a mind that can play chess, Miss Whittaker. We don’t need a mind that can invent religions or argue our origins. We don’t need a mind that causes us to weep at the opera. We don’t need opera, for that matter-nor science, nor art. We don’t need ethics, morality, dignity, or sacrifice. We don’t need affection or love—certainly not to the degree that we feel it. If anything, our sensibilities can be a liability, for they can cause us to suffer distress. So I do not believe that the process of natural selection gave us these minds — even though I do believe that it did give us these bodies, and most of our abilities. Do you know why I think we have these extraordinary minds?
…I will tell you why we have these extraordinary minds and souls, Miss Whittaker…We have them because there is a supreme intelligence in the universe, which wishes for communion with us. This supreme intelligence longs to be known. It calls out to us. It draws us close to its mystery, and it grants us these remarkable minds, in order that we try to reach for it. It wants us to find it. It wants union with us, more than anything.”
Vaseline is the best night time eye cream on the market.
You can buy alcohol and chips with your parents’ gas station credit cards.
If you force something, you’ll break it. That could be good or bad.
It’s important to read the care tags on your clothing and follow those instructions.
Related: don’t wash and dry j. crew wool sweaters.
Changing your car’s oil is not optional.
Whatever physical objects you acquire you will one day have to put into a box and move.
You’re allowed to disagree with negative feedback.
It’s always worth reading the instruction manual.
Nostalgia, like any drug, can be a poison or a remedy.
Pets are like human friends but better in every conceivable way.
Good doctors listen more than they talk.
You can’t fix a burned roux.
Just because someone is an authority figure does not mean they are intelligent/competent/right.
Measure twice, cut once.
Get your nice jeans and dress pants tailored by a professional.
If you’re uncomfortable wearing it you will not look good.
You’re not required to drink alcohol while in a bar.
There are a few things that cure all ills: the beach, your favorite album on vinyl, and fresh garlic.
Kindness is not weakness.
Baking soda is not baking powder.
Taking Excedrin P.M. while still in public is not advisable.
Terrible people will succeed. Wonderful people will fail. The world is not fair.
Appropriate footwear is always key.
You can absolutely be too forgiving.
Real humor punches up, not down.
Reading the assigned chapters will actually help you learn the material.
There are no adults. Everyone is as clueless as you are.
Applying eyeliner well is a timeless art.
You can always leave. Awkward dates, suffocating jobs, hometowns that you outgrow, relationships that aren’t growing in the right direction.
You can always come home again.
But it won’t be the same.
Life is too short for bad books, boring movies, shitty people, and margarine.
Never underestimate the importance of eyebrows."