Sunday, April 13, 2008

Read like you mean it

Adrienne found a list of 1,001 books a person should read before they die on It was fun to see what I was missing and to assess how well I have done thus far. While reviewing my completed books I realized that I have read many "cliché classics" (for lack of a better phrase). Overall I have read 72 of these books....I have waaay too many to go! Perhaps someday I will be allowed to return to the land of leisure reading


At Katie's request I am posting the books from the list that I have read (which is 74 on recount):

33. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
93. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
143. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
166. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
181. A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham
203. The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
238. The Cider House Rules – John Irving
241. Contact – Carl Sagan
246. Queer – William Burroughs
256. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
294. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
301. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
320. Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
335. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
348. The Black Prince – Iris Murdoch
358. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
367. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
375. Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
427. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
436. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
437. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
445. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
451. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
456. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
461. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
472. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
484. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
492. Seize the Day – Saul Bellow
494. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
496. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
508. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
521. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
529. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
539. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
547. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
559. The Plague – Albert Camus
564. Animal Farm – George Orwell
565. Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
574. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
587. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
592. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
608. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
619. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
649. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
663. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
667. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
671. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
676. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
717. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
723. Ulysses – James Joyce
767. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
778. The Immoralist – André Gide
780. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
781. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
790. The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
794. Dracula – Bram Stoker
808. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
809. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
820. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
825. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
840. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
863. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
868. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
873. Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
876. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
883. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
889. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
895. The House of the Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne
897. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
913. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
931. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
983. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
992. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
1001.Aesop’s Fables – Aesopus

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Grief Observed

When addressing the issue of death it seems that the default coping mechanism is religion. I have a great respect for the power of religion and the peace of mind it can offer to so many. Though, the ability for religion to alleviate the grieving process is generally where my respect for it ceases. I have been fascinated with religion since I was fairly young and have had the opportunity to learn about and experience a variety of churches in different faiths. During this process I never found anything that spoke to me deeply. I would be momentarily moved during a Hindu mantra, a Christian sermon, or a Buddhist prayer, but I think I was mainly feeding off of the spirituality of the followers especially since some of my experiences would be in languages I could not understand. The depth with which those around me were experiencing their religion would touch me. I have some fundamental issues with all religions I have experienced which can loosely be summarized in one word: Hypocrisy. Anyway, this is simply meant to illustrate that I have chosen a path without religion to comfort me, although it is not from lack of effort on my part. So, how does one without the support of their faith cope with death?

I searched the ever useful internet to see what others have said in this arena. It seems to me that even the most nonreligious attempts to offer insight still refer to verses in the bible. How can this be a comfort to everyone all of the time? I guess it doesn’t need to be everyone, but simply most. I have however, found snippets here and there that are somewhat helpful. Of course, there is no real answer as everyone experiences grief differently and no one can ever fully understand exactly what you are going through. The most important tool in our box is the support of the living. We don’t need them to understand what we are going through or even try to, but simply letting us know that they are there and that they exist in this world as someone who cares about you and your wellbeing. I would think that in the end this is the ultimate comfort.

I am not entirely new to loss either, yet I continue to struggle with it. I have been to about 6 funerals now and not a single one is easier than the last. It seems a bit strange that experience with loss does not make losing any easier. Anything else we do in our lives gets easier as we do it more often. I find that when I am reminded that our time here on Earth is limited my mind wanders to those who are still living and who are so important to me that I could not imagine trying to live without them around. This group of people is actually quite large. How do you ever get used to not being able to pick up the phone knowing that the person on the other end is the only person that could solve the particular problem you are calling about or the only person that could relate to what you want to share or the only person that knows you well enough to even want to listen to your silly story? Does time truly heal all wounds? Or do we learn to embrace our wounds with time?

“A life remembered in the hearts of the living is not lost” ~A headstone at Rose Hills I saw yesterday

With that sentiment I wanted to remember our recent losses

Grandma Rose (Matt’s Paternal Grandmother)
She was an amazingly kind and open woman. I was immediately welcomed into her home when Matt took me there to meet her as his girlfriend. She had a full life and actually received her BA in Social Work in 1946 which is an impressive feat in itself! She has three daughters and one son who will all hold her close to their hearts. I feel privileged to have known such a wonderful person and honored that she was able to make it to my wedding last year. I got this email from her the day after the wedding “The wedding was so nice. I'm glad I was able to be there. Love, Grandma Rose”

Although not on the same level as the loss of a person I feel the grief experienced from the loss of a pet effects us a great deal. My friend had to make the very difficult decision to put his cat to sleep today. This kitty was extrememly young but had a terminal illness (FIP) that has no cure. The vet thinks he probably already had it when he was adopted. As any pet lover will know this is the most difficult thing to go through and my thoughts are with him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Black Dog

I can't believe how long it has been since I have updated this little blog of mine. It isn't exactly like nothing has happened I think it is more along the lines of too much happening. I don't have a well thought out coherent theme today so I will just go with the flow...

My cousin, Brandon, sent me this picture from his First Anniversary trip to the Grand Canyon. I guess what they say about the first year being the hardest is true as demonstrated here by Whitney's desire to throw Brandon into the canyon. Good thing Brandon was strong enough to catch himself on the edge. I hear she regrets doing it, but I am not so sure I will ever trust her again!

Now you have to watch this video that Brandon just sent me:

On a less amusing note, I would really like to be at the beach today. This office exhausts me, especially being alone in it most of the time. Here is the torturous view from my office (a little blurry):