Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Circle of Friends

After putting down Guernsey, I was in dire need of another novel that would talk of beautiful island life in a far away world where things were simple and normal. Where everyday life was considered interesting. Luckily for me, my mom had already introduced me to just the thing a little over a year ago.

I renewed my love for Circle of Friends with the hindsight of knowing the ending already. This alters your perspective of your old friend, the novel. Not only do small parts you had forgotten become more magical but it helps you to refresh your opinions of the characters. This time I found myself, quite delightfully, not being swooned by Jack Foley's boyish charms and movie-star good looks. Rather, I fell a little more than head over heels for Aidan Lynch. Somewhat of a class clown, but unafraid to be strikingly honest and witty at the same time. Aidan Lynch is the face of a real gentleman. I love how he consistently jokes with Eve about the eight children they will one day have. How they will spend lovely days in her Knockglen cottage on the quarry while he finishes his law degree. (Okay, the lawyer thing makes him a little more appealing as well.) Aidan is a true gentleman through and through, and in a world becoming increasingly filled with Jack Foley's, he is a breath of fresh air. Attentive, direct, and unashamed, Aidan is more manly than all the Rugby playing Jack's in the whole world. A relationship should be much more like the one shared by Eve and Aidan, and nothing like those moments with Benny and Jack because the roller-coaster they ride on will never build the foundation for a stable life. Just know, Aidan Lynch's of the world, I finally appreciate you and am on a mission to find you.

I am sad to say, that through my first reading the romance of Aidan and Eve took lesser notice, but the Jack Foley's of the world have a tendency to steal center stage. It isn't surprising with all his charisma, easy friendship, devotion, and that winning smile that he overpowers his cute sidekick. Things about Jack Foley cause you to overlook his faults, compensate for them, and even want him back despite whatever has happened. Yet, this time around I have learned my lesson. Jack Foley...I AM OVER YOU! (Even if you resemble Chris O'Donnell.) Your deceptive plans and inability to deal with real issues has helped me to look beyond all your superficiality. Be a man. Confront the situation. And definitely don't come crawling back like a lost puppy once all is said and done. Maybe you should take a card from Aidan's book. He is the real winner in the end. He isn't overcome by his selfish desires. He sees all of Eve's beauty and color despite her somewhat coarse exterior. All the confidence in the world couldn't save you now. For me, and the rest of the Dublin crew, you and the likes of you will forever remain on the outskirts of the circle of friends. 

I did once again want to walk the main road of Knockglen and stop for a bite at Mario's cafe. I wanted to mock Mrs. Healy with her pretentious attitude next to Clodagh and her aunt, Peggy Pine. I was ultimately satisfied when the greasy and weaselly Sean Walsh earned his due and was cast out. I wanted to traipse the streets of Dublin while visiting the cinema, the rugby club, and attending debates. I want to stay the night in Dun Laoghaire. I want to stop at Carlo's cafe with Benny. I wanted to tell Simon Westward how shallow he was, and Nan Mahon how she was even worse. The charm of Ireland is only enhanced by the magnificent story and rich language found in the eloquence of Maeve Binchy. I guess you could say she has truly taught me the lessons of becoming more independent and standing on my own two feet. She has helped me to recognize a true friend. She has taught me to form a Circle of Friends

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Reading Good Books Ruins You For Enjoying Bad Books" (53).

My mom and sister have been bugging me forever about reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. For whatever reason I was putting it off, but last week, with a lack of fresh reading material at my fingertips I finally picked it up. Very quickly I realized that I couldn't put it down. This book is honestly one of the most delicious pieces of literature I have read in a long time, despite how unappetizing the concept of a potato peel pie sounds.

The book not only renewed my love for reading--how it is magical, how one can relate to it, how it can distract and amuse, and mostly how it can bring people together--but also made me long for a time filled with the romance of the written word. I don't mean romance in the literal sense with love and longing, but rather a romance for long-forgotten ideals that gave people more character. A time when people actually believed in something and stood up for it. A time when emotions drove a person's actions to help them stay human.

Set in post WWII England, you cannot help feeling touched by the daily hardships these people suffered in the war and how they coped, using literature, to rise above their difficult circumstances. The novel tells stories of sorrow, resistance, humor, joy, and reconstruction. The Guernsey Islanders tell how some German officers were cruel and some friendly, some vain and some simple. Their entire story is told through exchanged letters which add intimate details of the characters on a more personal level. The main narrator at one point states, "I'd be ashamed of myself if the war hadn't touched me" (60). And truly, the characters of this novel share the various way they had been touched and their lives forever changed by the horrors of war, for better or worse.

The literary society of Guernsey was brought together under unexpected circumstances during the occupation, but it helped them to endure. "We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another" (51). The great variety and tastes in types of literature adds flavor to the novel as various people discuss what books brought them comfort. Their own stories are intertwined with their new found love for literature, showing how words on a page can become timeless when they can be related to the human experience. As the novel suggests, "Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers" (10).

When I reached the final page of this novel, not only did I find myself not wanting it to end but I desperately found myself wanting to visit the island of Guernsey. I, too, wanted to have picnics and play tag at the cemetery. I wanted to have races in the meadows and play Dead Bride. I wanted to attend literary meetings and, yes, partake of Potato Peel Pie. I wanted to ride my bicycle alongside Elizabeth McKenna and watch Dawsey reconstruct dilapidated walls. I wanted Isola Pribby to read the bumps on my head. I wanted Eli to carve me something beautiful from a piece of wood. Every character was an ordinary human being to me. They weren't phenomenal or impossibly perfect. They were real.

All I can say is that others who have yet to read this book should pick it up now. Especially if your eyes are itching for something fresh, interesting, and intriguing. Like the war had touched the characters in the novel, you will not put this book down without being touched by its characters.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Falling In Love With Love

I have found myself guilty. I am someone who falls in love with the idea of love. Unlike Bernadette Peter's in Cinderella though, I still believe that there is more to love than foolishness. Of course, many people fall in love with love. But I am realizing that I don't really have a focus for those feelings. I don't really have a clear idea of what is best for me. In recent ponderings during free time at work and home, and with another empty Valentine's Day looming ever closer, I have been distinctly wondering if I actually know what I am looking for, aside from love.

I guess, I want to find someone who really complements me. My true other half. That doesn't go to say that I have regretted past relationships. They have been good in their own ways. I have learned so much about myself and about relationships in general, but I have never felt that I found someone who balanced me. Or someone who appreciated me as I appreciated them. Aside from school girl fantasies of a handsome stranger who wears waistcoats, enjoys old movies, and loves witty banter, you wouldn't think it would be all that difficult to discern what you want to find in someone else. But alas, I have become a fool for the idea of love.

I must clarify that it isn't necessarily foolish to be a helpless romantic. To buy into the hopes that every chick flick that Hollywood produces could come true. Yet, all too often, these movies either make one's expectations impossible or create a skepticism of the actual chase. As much as I would like to find my own "Joe-Jouster" (yes, you may note the J's) or Joe Fox, I need to come back to reality. Real love isn't like the movies. Hate to break it to you, but Hollywood does not depict reality in love.

Real love should be simple. Small things each day that tie two people eternally together. Shared joys and shared pains. Shared laughter and shared tears. It will be patient and enduring. It will bring two people's dreams together. It may not be perfect, but it will work toward the same goals. It will not be guided by fear but rather by glorious light.

Don't misunderstand me. I completely believe in this real love. And I am guilty of being a helpless romantic sometimes. But it is time for me to take a step back. To fall out of love with love. Then I will be able to pursue the right things and find what I am really looking for. It may be right in front of me. Or it may require some additional searching. But I need to stop being lured in by the possibility of love so that I can actually find real love. Not just the idea. All I can say is, I have a great deal of soul searching ahead. Here's to finding an enduring love. A love that doesn't appear one designated day of the year, but reaches for the eternities.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Once in a while a girl needs something that will always bring a smile to hear face. Whether it relieves stress, makes her laugh, or simply lights up her eyes every girl needs a few "go-to's" for a quick pick me up. While I may not like "raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens," I still have a few of my own favorite things that lift my spirits. Here are a few of them:

1. Bubble Baths with a Great Book--I am fairly certain nothing is more relaxing at the end of a long day than to curl up with a book surrounded by lightly perfumed bubbles in a moment of complete isolation. A bubble bath is probably one of the ultimate comforts in the world and when coupled with familiar characters as Winnie Foster and Jesse Tuck (who is subsequently another one of my fictional J-crushes), or Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, it becomes something rather Celestial. Aside from that it allows me time to unwind my stress, clear my thoughts, and soothe my soul. Who wouldn't want to experience all of those things?

2. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn Movies--There is something about an old movie that always makes me beam. And when that old movie can boast Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, or both I am in a very comfortable place. Who doesn't want to watch Cary Grant take a shower in his suit or dream of being a model in Paris like Audrey Hepburn. I am fairly certain it would be no 'Charade' for me to say I am in a 'S Wonderful' mood when watching these two classy stars of the past.

3. Chocolate and Peanut Butter--In any form chocolate and peanut butter are probably one of the ultimate comfort foods. And there are so many ways to partake of them. Muddy Buddies, Reese's, Reese's Pieces, Ice Cream, etc. You name it, they probably make it with chocolate and peanut butter. And if it exists I am probably very willing to try it.

4. Italy--One day I will go to Italy and it will be a very magnificent day indeed. I want to see the Vatican City in Rome and float in a gondola along the canals of Venice. I want to visit Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. I want to dab gelato on a guy's nose like Sophie in Letter's to Juliet. Italy is this foreign and beautiful enigma in my mind and one day I hope to discover its mysteries first hand.

5. Michael Buble and Josh Groban--To see them in concert is part of my bucket list. Luckily I have checked off Michael's concert, which was spectacular, and only have Josh left to meet. Something about the Buble-swoon and the classic-Groban just steals my heart. Any time. It is part of my old-fashioned, classically trained, music nerd that comes out and just takes control. Either will put a smile on my face. Together, I couldn't even imagine.

6. Wackee Six--Although I can get rather competitive while playing, I really just enjoy the time it gives me with my friends. We are all caught up, can laugh, joke, tease, etc. Anything goes really. Really the social butterfly in me emerges whenever we can get together for a night of fun and games. I just like having people around me who like me for who I am and together we can make memories that will never go away. That is what Wackee Six means to me. Company. Friendship. Memories. Fun. All things wonderful.

7. The Fluffy Snowflakes--More often than not I am a winter resenter. I hate the cold. I hate the bad roads. I hate the wet. But when the big flakes begin to lightly fall something in me changes. The world takes on a new hue. The world becomes suddenly romantic.

8. The Mail Dance--I love getting mail. Not only does it feel sentimental and romantic, but I love that someone thinks enough of me once in a while to write a letter. They ask how I am doing, share a funny story, and recount good memories. Nothing can ever replace the beauty of a handwritten letter. Either way, when I open the mail box and see my name a rather unique, and now ritualistic dance, emerges in my excitement. If you have witnessed the mail dance, you have experienced something special.

9. Daises--After all, they are the friendliest flower. I love Daises. They aren't intimidating and overtly sophisticated like some flowers out there. They just seem to be the flowers that remind you of the people you love most in life...of the sun...of sitting in a calm relaxing wood. Even Meg Ryan loves them in You've Got Mail. Even when they are provided to her by her mortal enemy. Daises in a way are a truce and great way to establish a friendship. They always brighten my day.

10. Disneyland--The Happiest Place On Earth. I think that sums it up. The magic of the original land of wonder can never be surpassed. You can never be too old to enjoy its thrills or too mature to not let out your inner child. Riding through Pirate ridden waters, being spooked by hundreds of friendly ghosts, flying off to Neverland with Wendy, Peter, and Michael, or touring Sleeping Beauty's Castle are unforgettable moments in my life. A million priceless memories can be made in Disneyland.

11. Fresh Raspberries--I haven't always had a thing for raspberries. When I was younger the seeds getting in my teeth really bothered me. But as I grew older I came to love their tart juiciness on my tongue. My developing love for raspberries was solidified by an act of service that I will never forget. When I got my Wisdom Teeth out I wasn't in terrible pain but I was starving. It didn't help that every time I woke up the television was playing a commercial for some food I couldn't eat at the time. I remember particularly craving pizza and a Subway sandwich. But my extreme hunger was quenched in a moment of great kindness when one of my best friends showed up on my doorstep with a carton of Reed's Dairy vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries to make a shake. I cannot begin to tell you how much that moment meant to me and how much it increased my love for fresh raspberries. I guess you could say they have become symbolic for me.

12. Swings--Maybe swings just take me back to the freedom of childhood. I still enjoy them now as much as I did then. Something about flying through the air and joking with friends has become priceless for me. I can't lie, more than one of my romantic fantasies involves a swing. They are so simple, but at the same time so entertaining. Nothing can ever match my love for swinging.

13. My Front Porch In the Spring--Simply magical. I love the bees humming by our blossoming trees, bushes, and flowers. I love the cool glass of lemonade and new book that make up my company. The flip-flops on my feet and the neighbors walking by. Little kids playing in their yards and whizzing past on bicycles. Spring is always a new start. These small moments, that remind me there is always potential for something beautiful around the corner. I guess it has become symbolic for me. Of comfort. Of peace. Of renewal. Of beauty. How could it not be one of my favorite things?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

it's (J)ust another crush...

Call it coincidence. Call it fate. Call it whatever you want. But I cannot seem to escape the "J"-Syndrome I have caught myself in. What is this "J"-Syndrome, you ask? Put simply it is the vortex surrounding me that seems to attract people with J-names, many of whom I develop crushes on, date, etc. More deeply put, a great number of people I meet or am friends with have J names. First name or last name, it makes no difference. I cannot escape the J.

(I should probably place a disclaimer here...not all the people I have liked have been J-named people, and I don't like every J-named person I ever meet, but it is just ironic that more often than not, the people I am attracted to have J-names.)

I guess you could say it all started in elementary school with my first J crush. A Jason from up the street. Of course it was the silly, little girl kind of crush but it has sent me down a path inevitable toward all the J's in the world.

The trend continued into High School. I think I even recognized it, but dismissed it as irrelevant. Nevertheless, it was just as prevalent. Whether the guy I pined most of my high school dating career over or the cute guy in (or guys) in seminary, I was being haunted by the J. (Specific names here are left to the imagination...a girl has to keep the ace up her sleeve once in a while.)

The trend even extends to my best friend, Cody, and second family, the Jardines.

College has been no exception, and if anything, has only multiplied the "J"-Syndrome. Jimmy's Jason's, Josh's, Jeremy's, Joseph's, Justin's, Jesse's. Met them all. Been attracted to some. Whatever the case, I just seem to find the J's. On some occasions I don't even know their name when I find them attractive.

The "J"-Syndrome even extends into my celebrity crush collage. Jess from Gilmore Girls. The Jonas brothers, particularly Joe, who is a double threat for the J-name trend. Jonathan Jones of We Shot the Moon, another double threat. Josh Groban. John Isner (tennis player). Even my latest celeb crush portrays a J-named person in I Am Number Four, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer). If we wanted to go way back, Jimmy Stewart even falls in the pack. I just cannot seem to escape the J. Even fake celebrity crushes have the J-name...Justin Bieber for example. Only good for amusement...but still bearing the J.

I haven't decided if the "J"-Syndrome is a good or bad thing yet. I guess I will just wait it out and see. But for now it seems to be an increasing trend. I guess all I can do really for now is embrace the J.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Enjoy Being A Girl

There are always people in life who are more fashionable than the next. These are people who are admired and often greatly envied. People like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie Kennedy. Their styles are classic. They are fashion icons who will never age. Their classic and simple pieces are timeless. Every era has at least one and I believe I found my favorite "fashion forward" woman for my time.

To begin though, I must admit that Jonas has become a recent guilty pleasure of mine. The appeal of the show comes not only with the musical talents of the JB's, who carry an Osmond brother like skill (not to mention their similar opposition-to-the-world values), but it reminds me of when I would watch reruns of The Monkees television series on TV Land. Probably the whole boy-band pointless- television-series thing. Chelsea Staub, part of the shows cast, has become my chosen fashion icon for this generation. Actually, her character has claimed the title, but I figure I should give her credit for at least wearing the clothes.

Granted, she already has an advantage in the wide world of fashion for a few of reasons.

ONE: The characters in the show all attend a uniform-wearing, Jonas-brother-attending prep-school.

TWO: Her character, Stella, plays the "stylist" for the boy band themselves. (We all know how extremely fashionable the JB's pride themselves as being. This probably gave them some say in selecting the wardrobe for their series.) Chelsea's character must have an impeccable eye. Not only when it comes to the brother's fashion statements but also to her own.

THREE: Disney isn't brainless enough to skimp on costume and fashion choices for a group that probably rakes in a great portion of their funds. (Not to mention the youngest brother is dating another one of their huge tween icons. Sometimes I question this though. They all have such great taste, so what does Nick see in her?)

All in all, "Stella" seems to have it made. But really, her character gets to wear some really great pieces. Not only do I want her cute plaid skirts, but also every cardigan, blazer, oxford, and beret (yes, beret) she owns. And don't get me started on her shoes. A girl can never have too many shoes, especially when they reference another of the great fashion icons of the world. (Audrey Hepburn was known for her great flats. And her skinny black slacks, but that is a story for another day.) Luckily, my favorite store, has caught on to the desires of my heart and is now stocking a lot of Stella-ish merchandise. I guess you could say it has become my heaven. Mostly though, it just makes every day another time when I can say that I enjoy being a girl. I could never have too many skirts, flats, and, especially, cardigans!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't (You) Forget About Me

A few months ago I walked down the halls of my high school for my last time as a student. As graduation loomed closer and closer my steps fell more slowly on the carpeted halls of Skyline High School. Each step was marked with memories that filled the past three years of my life. Years filled with new friends and new dreams; love and laughter; tears and smiles; penny fights and picnics; broken shoes and broken hearts. Looking back on all of my time spent within those blue and white halls I wouldn't change one thing. My experiences there helped to make me into the person I am today.

I remember my first day when I hardly knew anyone. I guess you could say I was nervous but excited. (There was zero choreography.) But over time there was dancing...High school dances and high school musicals. Days when I was literally dragged to Key Club. There was Hard Candy and Footloose. Teachers with "man hands" and teachers with rolling desk chairs. Football games and basketball games. Wins and losses. Days when we made ice cream in the hallway. Halo Tournaments and Movie Marathons. There was even "Potentially Hazardous Meat."

This post is dedicated to all my friends who helped to make those memories. (You) made my high school experience magical. Together, (you) slowed my steps and helped me remember the good times. I hope (you) know that "I will remember (you)" as long as (you) "don't forget about me." I may not have been able to slow time and enjoy another three years with (you), but the memories I made with (you) will last a lifetime. (You) gave me "the time of my life."

As we all take our own paths on the fork in the road know that I can "look back on these times, and the dreams we left behind, and I'll be glad 'cause I was blessed to get to have (you) in my life." Some are headed to college and some on missions but we will always be connected by the memories we share. Thank (you)!