How I Remember Those Days

The entirety of her possessions consisted of small closet full of clothes, some toiletries, a CD/radio, and a used mattress she had acquired from a church’s storage shed. She inserted her favorite CD, poured herself two fingers of cheap whiskey, and looked around satisfactorily at her freshly painted apartment. She was alone for the first time in her young life.

“It’s perfect!” She wrote to her husband. “$385.00 a month–and that includes utilities! It’s within walking distance to school, and so romantic. Old houses are romantic, anyway. This one was built in 1909 and we’ve got the apartment on the second floor overlooking the porch. One bedroom, a living room/ kitchen combo, and a bathroom. The bathroom is the best part. We have the original clawfoot tub! It’s huge! I can’t wait until you see it when you get back.”

She felt a small pang of guilt for moving the two of them out of her parents’ house while he was away at boot camp, but knew that without this cattle-prodding, he’d happily stay with her family for good. He had never grown up in a happy home where the parents were still together and everyone got along. She, however, was more than ready to flee the nest and begin her own adventures.

She had to borrow money from her dad for the deposit and first month’s rent, but within 24 hours after seeing the place, she was happily moved in. Her new girlfriends from the university helped her tote the boxes of clothes, CD’s, hair products, and the flowered mattress up the 100 year old staircase.

It didn’t take them long to put everything in its new place. The mattress was just flopped onto the bedroom floor under two big windows. The girls flopped the same way on top of it. The evening previous to this one had been spent at a local bar’s open mic night. They had all sang to a rousing group of toasty folks. It was a grand time, but they were feeling the lack of sleep and still had homework to do for music theory.

“We need some coffee.” the blonde suggested.

“Oh my God! I don’t have a coffee pot!”

After a quick trip to the local Walmart, the ladies enjoyed their coffees out of brand new coffee mugs.

“I bet we can climb onto that roof and sit.” One friend said with raised eyebrows.

“I dunno.” She wavered and took a swig of coffee. “It’s really old.”

“Naw! It’s fine!” Said her high-spirited friend. “C’mon!”

Before she knew it, all three of her friends had shimmied through the open window and into the autumn dusk.

“Grab the guitar!” said a disembodied voice through the open pane.

She sat her coffee cup down, took hold of the Gibson, and climbed awkwardly out of the large-framed window onto the shingles of the porch roof.

“This is awesome!”

“Yeah, this is so cool. I’m really jealous of you. Living in the dorms suck.”

“You sure this’ll hold us up?”

“Sure it will!” Her friend said as she strummed a G chord in a 6/8, swinging time. “Let’s sing.”

And so they sang on top of the porch roof. Sipping coffee and singing made-up-lyrics that made them laugh as the languid, velvet dusk turned to a crystal evening around them.

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A Novel Lesson

Fiction teaches us all about the truth of life and the common threads in humanity. No matter where a novel is set or when it takes place, I am often struck with the feeling of being united with the protagonist in the struggles of life.  I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned from my favorite rectangle shaped friends, and ask you to do the same. What have your favorite novels taught you?

1. I’ve mentioned the impact that Anne of Green Gables had on me in another blog, but must bring the series up here too. I think I lived on Prince Edward Island in a former life because this story resounds so strongly with me. I’ve known Anne, Marilla, Diana, Gilbert, Rachel Lynde, Ruby Gillis, and Josie Pye my entire life. They are as real to me as my flesh and blood friends. That statement may send me to therapy one day, but there it is. For better or worse, this book series helped make me who I am today. Enough of that though, on to what the books taught me–besides ejaculation.

Never make fun of a red-headed girl unless you want a slate cracked over your head.

Always keep your home in apple-pie order just like anyone raised by Marilla Cuthbert ought to.

When you want to play the Lady of Shallot, check your dingy for leaks.

If a boy makes fun of you, show him up by correctly spelling “chrysanthemum” in front of the class.

Check every doughnut box for fireworks prior to chucking the box into the furnace.

Always have an extra bottle of ipecac.

Wear puffed sleeves without exception. The bigger the better.

Talk to flowers and trees.

Being smart is better than being good looking.

Recite poetry. Recite it with dramatic flair.

Jonah days come to everyone.

Live beside the sea if you can and seek out a lighthouse keeper/former seaman to live within walking distance of you. Trust me on this one.

Bosom friends and kindred spirits are the best things about life on this planet.

2. Tolkien. What an amazing writer and map drawer.  I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy about every two years, and see something new and amazing each time. The world he crafted in Middle Earth, complete with thousand-year-old-legends, battle histories, and all types of fascinating creatures never ceases to dial up my sense of wonder.

Things that reading Tolkien has taught me:

Hobbits are the shit! Lovers of good food, good drink, good parties, and good fireworks. They are steadfast and faithful friends, which leads me to my next one.

Everyone needs a Sam Gamgee in their life.

Rings are powerful things.

Tom Bombadill must do mushrooms or acid. No one acts like that, even if they’re a metaphor of the creator.

Trolls are stupid.

It’s handy to have a good relationship with eagles if you’re ever in a tight spot.

The desire for power will corrupt you.

Trees are people too.

You can live on a diet of elven bread for weeks.

It’s a dangerous business stepping outside your door.

Sometimes an unexpected party is the best kind.

Showing mercy on pitiful creatures may save us all in the end.

3. I read Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree upon a friend’s recommendation. Once I got myself past the lack of punctuation, namely commas and quotations, I really enjoyed the read and learned much from this wayward anti-hero, such as:

Everyone needs a J-Bone in their life. (see the Sam Gamgee and bosom friend comment above…I see a trend in my life lessons.) One never knows when one will become fatally ill and pass out in a communal bathroom. J-Bone WILL find you and carry you to safety.

Do not molest watermelons. If you simply can’t help yourself, avoid getting caught.

Don’t throw trash in the river. All the descriptions of the Tennessee River with garbage floating in it made me sad.

You can make money by poisoning flittermice.

A story doesn’t have to be far-fetched, fanciful, or overly dramatic to be interesting. Our everyday life is the story.

Living plainly, with little earthy possessions can be a sweet life.

Early Times is the “best drink they is.”

Avoid mudslides during storms on the river.

Moral ambiguity isn’t all bad.

4. The Devil Wears Prada–because we can’t read legit lit all the time. This is my go-to read when I’m feeling frumpy. Immersing myself in the world of haute couture and the bustle of NYC is as good of a pick me up as a chocolate bar. Often I read this while eating chocolate for a total emotional lift. Things An-dre-ah Sachs has taught me:

Learn to drive a stick shift. This is still on my to-do list, but I mean to do so soon.

When two belts look identical, keep your mouth shut.

Gay best friends are tops at helping you look your best.

There is such a thing as “too skinny.”

“That’s all.” never really means “That’s all.”

There are few things more intimidating than a tall woman walking confidently in a four inch pair of stilettos.

Don’t trust handsome writers who brag on your writings.

Don’t ignore your boyfriend.

Don’t ignore your alcoholic best friend, especially if she has been listening to Jeff Buckley non-stop.

What seems the most important thing in the world may not be. Take a step back and assess your perspective.

5. Pride and Prejudice How could a list of novels not include this one? I could crawl into this book and wallow around in the pages of it, I love it so.
Lizzy and I would’ve been best friends! I actually think my best girlfriends are real life variations of Elizabeth Bennett. Things I’ve learned from reading P&P:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Entailing estates to male heirs is a piss poor idea.

Keep an eye on Kitty and Lydia at all times.

Mr. Collins is always good for a laugh, even if he is unaware of this fact.

Men, when proposing, always behave in a gentleman-like manner.

Women, don’t be too hasty to believe handsome men when they tell you how they’ve been wronged by another.

Lady Catherine’s buttresses are quite impressive.

If you want to snag a man, ride a horse through the rain, get very sick, and stay at his place until you’re well.

Stay off of Mrs. Bennett’s nerves.

If you feel affection for someone, show it, otherwise you run the risk of losing them.

Visit a man’s house before declining his marriage proposal.

The saddest one: Mr. Darcy doesn’t really exist.

Ok, now share yours! What have you learned from your own adventures with fictional characters?