1. Little Free Stoop Library. A few weeks back I’d mentioned I found the wonderful book All Creatures Great an Small on someone’s stoop. I had another great find recently. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler begins on Pearl Harbor Day 1941 and ends on the same day 60 years later. We follow the story of Michael and Pauline Anton, from the sparks the moment they meet at an impromptu parade through their hasty marriage and slow realization that they were mismatched from the beginning. This isn’t the first Anne Tyler book I’ve read. What I always find riveting about her writing is her ability to present the nuances in the human condition and then let you identify with them. The disintegration of Michael and Pauline’s marriage is no one’s fault really, they were just “unskilled” as Michael puts it. That requires a light touch so as not to feel preachy or pretentious. Tyler has a knack for making us sympathize with the characters despite their foolish behavior, eccentricities and narrow-mindedness. I think it takes a lot of guts to write a novel that spans the entire lives of two people, capturing the changes in their outlook as they age, the societal changes and their perceptions of them, yet maintaining their core personalities. You might be familiar with author Anne Tyler from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Breathing Lessons, or the movie adaptation of her book The Accidental Tourist. This one had me thinking long after I read the last page.
2. Ever since humans could tell stories, we’ve been trying to describe how it feels to be in love…from Shakespeare (“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”) to J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield (“I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.”) to Longfellow (“It is difficult to know at what moment love begins; it is less difficult to know that it has begun.”)
Are there any other authors whose description of love resonated for you?
3. Birthday Short List # 1: Chocolate. Since yesterday was my big day, I got treated by my co-workers to Max Brenner, the chocolate emporium. If you can smother it, cover it, dunk it, drizzle it, or stuff it, this place does it with chocolate.
Warning: Food porn ahead. If you are of an impressionable nature or have diabetes, now is the time to look away.
4. Back to regularly scheduled programming…Once we were finished and in a serious, no-holds barred chocolate hangover (I will never, ever touch chocolate again for the rest of my life), one of my co-workers asked an existential question that Socrates himself probably debated:
If you had to give up either chocolate or alcohol for the rest of your life, which would it be? Which would you choose?
5. Birthday Short List # 2: Spa. I received a gift certificate to a local spa. How lucky can a girl get?
I decided to go whole hog and get the hot stone massage. Have you ever had this done to you? It feels like little angels kneading your back with their wings. As if that wasn’t enough, then you descend a flight of stairs to the tranquil “water lounge.” What is a “water lounge” you ask? It’s this:
Enough of the water? Dry off in the sauna. Note the temperature outside the door is 159F. But hey, it’s a dry heat, you barely feel it.
Note to self: look into combining spa and chocolate for next birthday.
Have a great weekend, everyone!