But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Before the Whispernet gods delivered Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds and Other Stories to my oft-neglected Kindle, the only du Maurier I’d read was the beloved Rebecca. Now I know why Alfred Hitchcock loved her stories so much. I do have this to say: Hitchcock’s version is laughable compared to the original, and the title story is only the beginning.
This collection includes The Birds; Monte Verita; The Apple Tree; The Little Photographer; Kiss Me Again, Stranger and The Old Man. These six engrossing stories speak of the power of the natural world and how mankind perceives it, the calamities and consequences of war, as well as violence, revenge, and the search for truth. Infused in these stories are unexplained phenomena, the least of which is the apocalypse that ensued when birds attack all humans on earth.
All of these stories aren’t terrifying per se. Some, like Monte Verita and The Apple Tree, contain unexplained supernatural elements that also function as allegories or just simply as eerie plot points. In The Apple Tree, a widower’s deceased wife seems to have been reincarnated in an apple tree on the man’s estate, trying to kill him for his neglect during life. In Monte Verita, an ageless cult of women living on a mountain mysteriously disappear when the locals come to attack them. And, of course, there are the terrifying, murderous flocks of birds attacking people all over the world. You know–no big deal.
Woven within these stories is commentary on the psychological impact of war both on society and on the individual. The characters in The Birds are finally safe from the blitz, but the world has changed as a result of the second World War and nature has turned on mankind. The women of Monte Verita are searching for a truth they cannot find in the modern world, and they would rather die than return to their domestic, businesslike lives. And in Kiss Me Again, Stranger, one girl finds a fiendish way of reaping revenge on the members of the RAF whose defensive actions ended up killing her whole family during the London blitzkrieg. These stories, while eerie, frightening, suspenseful and sometimes horrifying, are also thoughtful stories containing social commentary and vividly drawn characters with voices, and they’re not afraid to speak. The result is mesmerizing. I didn’t put this book (Kindle) down for hours. (I carried it with me like a security blanket, cooking with one hand and answering questions with impatient “mmms.”) Continue reading…
These American Apparel riding pants are my favorite because when I wear them to dinner they stretch very comfortably. I wore these on Fat Tuesday to celebrate gluttony at one of my favorite places, the Bronx Alehouse. They afforded lots of stretch to accommodate fried food and beer, plus they’re also cute and extremely versatile. My favorite thing to wear is probably a good pair of stretchy black pants. Who needs jeans? Not I. I wore them with a simple and artfully wrinkled (artfully because I didn’t iron it) white blouse. Also pictured are my favorite shoes, by Jeffrey Campbell.
shirt from my sister’s closet, pants from American Apparel, shoes from Jeffrey Campbell, feather necklace from Aldo
Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them. — E.M. Forster, A Room With a View
My recent trip to Alaska was wonderful in a myriad of ways. I explored a new landscape, had new experiences, and even managed to visit two indie bookstores in a five-day period. Yes, I am an addicted bookworm, thanks for asking. The indie bookstore Gulliver’s Books is located in the small-towny, scenic city of Fairbanks, Alaska, one of the most popular places in the US to see the northern lights (no, we didn’t see them). I stayed for a couple days and visited this shop, among a few others.
Gulliver’s Books is located across from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks campus, but I was somewhat disappointed in this bookstore. Their fiction section was severely understocked; in fact, I don’t think I saw even a dozen titles of literary fiction on these shelves: they were heavy on genre fiction. Romance, sci-fi, and fantasy were over-represented, and I couldn’t find anything I liked. Genre fiction isn’t really my thing, unless it comes highly recommended. Call me a book snob.
Today’s look is a bit whimsical. I found these strange patterned tights at Aldo and decided to give them a whirl, and I’m not fully sold on them yet. Maybe with a tall boot? But I do like the mix of weird patterns and bright colors in this outfit, and it’s one of the only times you’ll see me in simple flats. Strangely enough, I find flats really uncomfortable, probably due to the shape of my feet or something. I can walk in heels all day and be more comfortable than in flats!
scarf from my mother, cardigan from my sisters, skirt from Charade, tights from Aldo
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Today’s post features the writing of Don Marquis, an author/journalist who created a character named Archy, a cockroach who sneaks onto Marquis’ typewriter at night to write poetry. Archy is in fact a reincarnated poet (Sucks to be reincarnated as a roach, whoa). In this piece, Archy meets a moth and asks him that burning (sorry) question: why do you like light bulbs and flames so much? Why, if you die as a result? The answer is beautiful. Read the whole thing below.
the lesson of the moth
why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense
plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves
and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself
- Don Marquis
The bolded sections are my favorite parts of this piece, because they echo the trite sentiment that we must take advantage of our lives while we are alive. This is the cockroach-moth version of YOLO, but much more poetic, thank goodness. The moth is wise and practical, but he knows that the purpose of life is to risk it. Risk it for something you think is worth it. Risk it for beauty and for love, risk it for your dreams. This is the way to ultimate happiness.
Archy’s response is to choose “half the happiness” and retain his life, but what is his life without the pursuit of the highest happiness?
Marquis, D. “The Lesson of the Moth.” Accessed March 4, 2014 at this link.
Inspired by my previous bookish look, I wanted to see if there were any fabulous book-related fashion items I could wear to flaunt my nerdy love for books. A Pinterest scour yielded many, many pretty results. Too many. I’d love any number of these items, but my favorites are that tutu made of pages from a book and that gorgeous skirt, which would make a great DIY project for a lazy Sunday. I’ve actually done the newspaper nails, as well, but mine did not come out that perfect!
The bib necklaces are unbelievably beautiful. The first one I especially love, since it is a quote from one of my favorite poems of all time, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land:
The Waste Land is mesmerizing and lush in its beauty and pain. The other quote is Virginia Woolf:
Another thing I loved when I saw it on Pinterest were these shoes covered with book pages:
I’m not crazy about the papier-mâché texture of the shoes. If I do these, I want to find a way to make them flat and shiny instead. I’d also probably want to make the type white on a matte-black shoe, to make it more wearable. I swear, I can’t stop with these shoe DIYs! See more here, here, here, and here. Oh, my.
All images are from Pinterest, and the links may be found on my Polyvore page.