Wednesday’s Words: Sylvia Plath

  

“Wednesday’s Words” is all about the quotes that inspire me or are relevant to my life in some way.

When most people think about living life positively or constructively, I doubt the first person to come to mind for inspiration is Sylvia Plath.  However, I’m more Emily than Pollyanna, and my brain tends to aim for the minor key when I want to find guidance for maneuvering through life’s obstacles.

Right now, the major obstacle in my life is how to live as if I knew it were my last day.  The idea was presented in yesterday’s Damn Early Days morning post and I’ve been thinking about it since.  There was a question that Steve Jobs supposedly asked himself every morning: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”  He said that if the answer was “No” for too many mornings, he knew he had to change something.  I asked myself the same question yesterday and my answer would definitely be “No” when it comes to my job.

“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.” – Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals

On both Monday and yesterday mornings I found myself feeling resentful of having to stop writing and get ready for work.  I was especially annoyed at having to work overtime.  While I may not be able to just up and quit the job that pays my bills, I can do quite a lot every morning about making sure I’m not stuck spending most of my time working in a job I don’t love.  I can harness the energy behind that resentment and put it to work towards change.  I can spend my free time doing what I love, instead of wasting it being grumpy.

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again.” – Sylvia Plath, Mad Girl’s Love Song

Though “Mad Girl’s Love Song” has nothing to do with meditation, this line makes me think about the session I did yesterday morning.  It was a guided meditation titled “Creating an Extraordinary Day”.  Several things Gael Chiarella said during that meditation gave me the same feeling Plath’s quote generates: “I am the Master of my life.  I am courage in action.  I have infinite creative power.”  This goes back to how I spend my time.  Obviously, I can’t blink my job into one that I love, but I can create small changes that eventually lead to me having work that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning, rather than hit the snooze button a million times.

“Out of the ashes, I rise with my red hair…” – Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus

Lady Lazarus is another of Plath’s poems that has little to do with the feeling this line gives me.  Not only does it make me think of Jean Grey as the Phoenix, but it makes me feel as if the garbage thrown at me in my life will not succeed in keeping me down.  I will rise up and I will triumph.  It may take a while, but as a line from one of my favorite album introductions, “Piano and I” by Alicia Keys, “No matter how long that sh*t takes….What ever stops you from dreaming, whatever tries to stop you from living…flip it.”

Here’s an even more fitting song:

Image from clip of Youtube video.

Wednesday’s Words: Wuv, Twue Wuv

Princess Bride

My original plan was to share the few favorite “love” quotes from various books I have copied down in my book journal, but then I remembered that I’ve never written a “Wednesday’s Words” about The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  While these quotes aren’t all my favorites (there’s too many to list), they are my favorite love-related ones.

Kissing Book

“Is this a kissing book?”

You know me.  I’m not big on Romance.  When I get a book recommendation from someone who I know loves the kind of Fantasy that is more Romance than Adventure, this is the question, in the exact same tone, I want to ask.

true love

“This is true love — you think this happens every day?”

The confidence in this line is what gets me.  Every once in a while, the Boyfriend says something about our relationship with that kind of assuredness.  It makes me weak in the knees, and my stomach does that weird little flip thing.

Humperdink

“She loves you,” the Prince cried. “She loves you still and you love her, so think of that–think of this too: in all this world, you might have been happy, genuinely happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, not really, no matter what the storybooks say, but you could have had it, and so, I would think, no one will ever suffer a loss as great as you.”

This quote reminds me of a scene in Gilmore Girls when Lorelai’s Father ends up in the hospital, and Emily demands that she gets to die before he does because she couldn’t handle losing him.  I don’t believe in soul mates, but I do believe in the kind of love that when one of a couple passes away, the other can’t go on living.

Best Kiss

“There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C…(before then couples hooked thumbs.) And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy…. Well, this one left them all behind.”

Sometimes kissing books are ok 😉

As You Wish

“As you wish…”

*Sigh*

Wednesday’s Words: Remember

sherlock-frustrated

This year has been rough.  Just about everyone I know has suffered from loss, illness, or injury, and I’m not even going to get into world events.  I’m also not going to preach about how we should all reach out and help or do some other good Samaritan activity.  Instead, just be there.  Be a part of your community, your family, your relationships.  While I have always believed that those of us who can give a little something more during this time of year (and the rest of the year too) should do so, I also know that for many of us, just showing up and being present is all we’ve got.  While we’re at it, let’s be there for ourselves as well.  The Holidays don’t need to be full of activity to be *perfect*.  Do you have ten minutes?  Take five of those minutes and call a friend or a family member and tell them you love them.  Take the other five minutes to breathe.

“I walked inside Macy’s and faced the pathetic spectacle of a department store full of shoppers, none of whom were shopping for themselves.  Without the instant gratification of a self-aimed purchase, everyone walked around in the tactical stupor of the financially obligated.” – Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn

I say all of this because while most people are talking about giving and doing and and and…they forget what the Holidays are about.  I’ve been doing everything I can to avoid going anywhere this week.  People are grumpy, and tempers are flaring in the stores, in the parking lots, and on the roads.  Even store employees have attitudes, and it’s not hard to imagine why.  I went to pick up the mail yesterday, and the mail woman was so shocked and happy when I wished her a Merry Christmas that I wondered how much time of her day is spent being largely ignored and unacknowledged unless someone wants something from her or something has gone wrong.
So, forget about trying to rush around to do all the extraneous stuff that we’re all “supposed” to do this time of year, at least for ten minutes.  Just be there; for yourself, and for your loved ones.  If you think you can’t take that time, then tell everyone you’re going to church, or temple, or, if you’re Buddhist like me, to meditate.  No one can argue with you about participating in religious or spiritual activities, especially not during the Holidays.  We are all connected and have been since the first of us walked the earth, and this time of year has been special for various reasons to most civilizations down through the ages.  So take ten, or more if you can spare it, and remember.

“But Christmas he never forgot.  It was the one remnant of his religion that never left him, for he sensed behind it a great, shimmering history that went back and back through the millennia to dark forests where fires blazed and pagans danced.” – The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Wednesday’s Words: Virginia Woolf

Room

I’ve been fascinated with Virginia Woolf ever since I watched the movie adaptation of The Hours by Michael Cunningham.  I’ve read a large chunk of her work, my all time favorite being her essay “A Room of One’s Own”.  Besides her most famous quote about Anonymous being a woman, it’s full of lines that are still relevant today.

“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.”

Someone, I think it was a college professor, once said that any resistance to the success of some “Other” stems from a fear of losing one’s sense of superiority.  That “Other” has shifted throughout humanity’s history and has not always been defined by heterosexual, Christian, white men.  However, speaking very generally, men around the world all the way up to present times have resisted the idea of women being equal to them regardless of any other factor (race, religion, etc.)  Does the prevalence of misogyny throughout the world and time really come from a fear of upsetting some perceived hierarchy?  If that’s what has always been behind the “reasoning” for why women (or anyone for that matter) can’t or shouldn’t do whatever they want, then it deserves being looked into further.

“And since a novel has this correspondence to real life, its values are to some extent those of real life.  But it is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex; naturally this is so.  Yet is it the masculine values that prevail.  Speaking crudely, football and sport are “important”; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes “trivial.”  And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction.  This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war.  This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.”

This can be seen today when you look at the percentages of books with female main characters that win awards in comparison to the books with male main characters.  Women’s Lit is considered to be fluff or brain candy.  Stories about female friendships and familial or romantic relationships are seen as trivial or unimportant and not worth exploring if you’re a “serious” reader or writer.  Putting personal reading preferences aside, why is it that a story about two male best friends is considered thought-provoking and meaningful, yet a similar story about two women is chalked up as just another piece of “chic lit”?

“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”

I don’t force myself to read books that I have no interest in to add diversity to my reading life.  I rarely ever read Literary Fiction.  However, I also steer clear of the Bestsellers and award winners, and I try to find the Fantasy books that not everyone else is reading.  While that doesn’t happen 100% of the time, I also look for books with a synopsis that doesn’t scream “trope filled sexist garbage”.  As a result, I end up reading fairly diverse books.  I read diversely enough that, for a long time, I didn’t understand why there is such a push for diversity in literature.  Now I understand that I’m finding more diverse books precisely because of my resistance to jumping on the bestselling, award-winning bandwagon.  Most of the books I read aren’t getting the attention of the mainstream media outlets, and they’re not displayed prominently on center tables in bookstores.  Someday I would love to say that isn’t true.  Until then, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing.

 

Wednesday’s Words #5: Women

Feminist

We’re well past Women’s History Month, but, as many of you know, I recently finished The Essential Feminist Reader.  Instead of writing a review of the book, I’ve decided to share my favorite quotes from the many well thought out pieces of writing that were included in it.

“I would venture that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” – Virginia Wolf

I love Virginia Wolf and her essay “A Room of One’s Own”.  I own it as an ebook, and I don’t think I’ll ever archive it because there are too many great lines that I enjoy looking up from time to time.  I really should get a physical copy.  This is probably the most well-known quote from that essay.  I will probably do a “Wednesday’s Words” dedicated just to her in the near future.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

It wasn’t until I was 14 when I happened upon a short historical fiction novel about a young woman living during the height of the Suffragette’s fight for the vote, and I was so confused because no one had ever told me anything about it.  Why hadn’t I learned about this in school?  Did this really happen?  I’m pretty sure I checked out every single book about women’s history and Feminism from the library that year.

“Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing…Woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.” – Hélène Cixous

When I was going to school, women’s history simply wasn’t taught, and despite having a few very progressive women teachers in high school, including one who taught US History, the subject was never brought up.  If it weren’t for my curiosity and the public library, I wouldn’t have known anything about it.  I don’t know if that’s changing or has already changed, but I know there are organizations trying to ensure that young girls grow up knowing of all the great women who have done and accomplished so much.  A Mighty Girl is one of them.

“…BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included and can understand in our own ways…

BECAUSE we want and need to encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our own insecurities, in the face of beergutboyrock that tells us we can’t play our instruments,…

BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t cool…

BECAUSE we see fostering and supporting girl scenes and girl artists of all kinds as integral to this process…

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak…

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.”

– Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill, “Riot Grrrl Manifesto”

I was reading about Feminism when the Third Wave and the Riot Grrrl movement were already well established.  There was nothing about the Third Wave in the library, so I didn’t know about it until I was much older, but I was and still am, a huge music geek, and I listened to Bikini Kill  and other Riot Grrrl bands while I read about the Feminism of the 70’s and 80’s.  Because I surrounded myself with the stories of great women and the increasing amount of women in rock during the 90’s, I almost didn’t believe that sexism was still an issue.  I experienced sexism all the time, and I don’t even know how many times I listened to songs like “Just a Girl” by No Doubt, but it wasn’t until I was an adult and was faced with it in such a way that there was no denying what it was, that I began seeing how much I had internalized and accepted without a thought.  Up until that point, Feminism was just a part of Women’s History to me.  I began listening to all those old songs from my teen years and slowly rediscovered my favorite Feminist books and finding newer ones to love.  I’ve never looked back or questioned the existence of sexism again.

“I am sick of the way women are negated, violated, devalued, ignored.  I am livid, unrelenting in my anger at those who invade my space, who wish to take away my rights, who refuse to hear my voice…My anger and awareness must translate into tangible action…I am not a postfeminism feminist.  I am the Third Wave.” – Rebecca Walker

 

Wednesday’s Words #4: Dr. Seuss

My Russian History Class is really getting to me emotionally.  The atrocities committed by the Soviets during WWII is staggering.  There is so much focus on what the Nazis did, that there is often a failure to notice what the Soviets did, and it all makes me sick to my stomach, depressed, angry, and increasingly cynical.  So, in an effort to make myself feel better, I’m dedicating this month’s Wednesday’s Words to Dr. Seuss.

“You can find magic wherever you look.  Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”

I’m sticking with books that don’t have anything to do with Russia right now, with the exception of my school work.  Goodbye, War and Peace read-along.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!”

I’ve got tickets to everywhere, right on my bookshelf.

“You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”

So many choices….

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

When I chose my major, International Relations, it was because I wanted to work in Humanitarian Relief Aid, particularly with refugees, and my dream job was in the UNHCR.  After working, very briefly, for a non-profit last Summer, I became disillusioned, and not quite sure if I really wanted to continue on my chosen career path.  Later, I rediscovered my love of writing.  It’s too late to change my major and I can’t afford a double major or even a minor.  I also still feel an urge to do something related to Human Rights, and I still dream of going to grad school, but overall I don’t know what I’ll end up doing.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

I have faith that I will figure it out by the time I graduate, or I’ll at least be able to find a decent paying job in a field that I enjoy until I do figure it out.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Until then, I’ll keep thinking and working, rinsing and repeating.  However, I will always keep in mind that….

DrSeussGif

and….

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Wednesday’s Words #3: Matilda

Matilda

I love Matilda by Roald Dahl more than any of his other books, and not just for the story, the message, or the title character, but because it spoke to me, as a child, in a way that so many of the other books I had read, before and after, did not.  I felt like an outsider in my family and at school.  Even though my parents weren’t anything like Matilda’s parents, and I never came across a Miss Trunchbull at school, I was the target of a considerable amount of bullying, and at one point I really wondered if I had been adopted.  Sometimes I even wished I had been adopted; at least then I’d have an explanation as to why I was so different.  There’s a lot more to my childhood than I can, or am willing to, write about, but suffice it to say I found quite a bit of solace in Matilda.

“These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

Of course, my favorite quotes from Matilda are those involving Matilda’s love for books.

“From then on, Matilda would visit the library only once a week in order to take out new books and return the old ones. Her own small bedroom now became her reading-room and there she would sit and read most afternoons, often with a mug of hot chocolate beside her.”

I LOVED the library when I was a kid, especially when I got old enough to go by myself.  I could, and many times would, spend hours looking up and then reading books about whatever subject had grabbed my mind at the time, or whichever fiction author’s books I was currently interested in.  Nobody bothered me, and I could disappear into other worlds.  The same held true for my bedroom, as long as my sister wasn’t around.

“It was pleasant to take a hot drink up to her room and have it beside her as she sat in her silent room reading in the empty house in the afternoons. The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives.”

What is it about the combination of a hot drink and a good book?  For whatever reason, the two just go together, regardless of the time of year.  I don’t care if it’s the middle of a Texas Summer, I’m having a hot chai when I go to the bookstore’s cafe, and if they make it correctly, it will be just cool enough to drink by time I’ve stopped sweating.

“This allowed her two glorious hours sitting quietly by herself in a cozy corner, devouring one book after another.”

With my course load this semester, I only have about 30 minutes before bed in which to read something that isn’t school related, but those 30 minutes curled up on the couch with a book and a blanket are still glorious.

“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.”

I truly feel bad for people who don’t see any value in books or think reading is a waste of time or a sign of laziness.

Wednesday’s Words #2: Winnie the Pooh

WinnieAndFriends

This past Sunday was A.A. Milne’s Birthday, as well as Winnie the Pooh Day, so…*

“So perhaps the best thing to do is to stop writing Introductions and get on with the book.”

Winnie

“Let’s begin by taking a smallish nap or two.”

Go ahead, I’ll wait here.  It’s the middle of the week, we’re all a little tired, and…

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

Now don’t you feel better?  I don’t know about you, but 20 minutes of quietly checking my eyelids for holes can make all the difference in my day.  I love naps.  I didn’t appreciate them when I was a kid and wanted to do all.the.things.  I understand now just how great naps are…

WinnieWakeUp

“Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart.”

The above quote isn’t really about naps, but this is my blog and I write what I want.  Naps are my friends, and…

“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”

Dear nap,

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Love,

The Reading Wench

P.S….

Piglet: “How do you spell love?”
Pooh: “You don’t spell it, you feel it.”

WinnieNap

*Note: some of these quotes may have come from the Disney adaptations and never appeared in the book.  Though I distinctly remember them, my memory is fuzzy, and my copy of the book is in storage.

Wednesday’s Words #1: Little Women

Wednesday’s Words is the replacement for Thursday’s Quotables.

Little Women

I haven’t read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott since I was very young.  I forgot just how much I loved it, and OH, THE FEELS!  SO MANY FEELS!  In fact, I forgot most of the book, so it doesn’t really feel like a re-read for me.  The reason I’m re-reading it at this particular time is because I’m participating in the Dusting Off the Shelves read-a-thon, and Little Women happened to be the ebook that I’ve owned the longest but never read.  It was my very first ebook when I bought my Nook back in 2010, and I never opened it.  I always meant to, but you know how it is.  I got distracted by other books.  So, in celebration of rediscovering a classic from my childhood, here are my favorite quotes:

“There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.”

This line is so heartbreakingly beautiful I don’t have any other words.

“Meg’s high-heeled slippers were dreadfully tight, and hurt her, though she would not own it; and Jo’s nineteen hair-pins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable; but, dear me, let us be elegant or die.”

I think all women, and probably some men, have done this at one time or another.  At least I know I have, especially when I was younger.

“I like adventures, and I’m going to find some.”

I love Jo!  I’m pretty sure she was my favorite of the girls when I was a kid as well.

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.”

I don’t have a scribbling suit, or a room of my own (my desk is in the corner of the living room), and I’m not writing a novel, but I do go to a cafe with my notebook and sit for hours writing as if I have to get the words out of me or I’ll die.  I started doing that during my teenage years, and though I stopped writing for a long time, I quickly went back to old habits when I started up again.  Some of my favorite writers do the same thing, and knowing that makes me feel more a part of a community of sorts.

Thursday’s Quotables #11: Harry Potter

Harry Potter Christmas

This is the last Quotables of the year!  If you love Fantasy, you probably love Harry Potter.  It’s not a guarantee (I’m looking at you, Boyfriend.), but chances are you do.  I feel like the books are Winter books, so I decided to dedicate this Quotables to the Boy Who Lived and his friends.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

These two quotes, when put together (if you know the context, of course), show that following the rules isn’t always the right thing to do.  That’s one of the many things I love about the Harry Potter books; the events and what Harry and friends do in response shows that it’s more important to think for yourself and do what your heart knows is right, rather than following along with what everyone else is doing.

“When in doubt, go to the library.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In an age when it’s so easy to find all the wrong information on the internet, this is becoming more and more true.

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This quote is the truth, especially when it comes to fuzzy socks.  I don’t mind getting books, though.

There are way too many quotes to put them all here, so I’m sure I’ll return to them in a later post.  What are some of your favorite Harry Potter quotes?  Whether from the book or the movie, tell me in a comment 🙂

The_Wand