this post is full of spiders

If you are friends with me on Goodreads you know I am reading This Book is Full of Spiders (the sequel to John Dies at the End). It’s hilarious and fun and about a parasite demon creature that takes over an entire town and turns you into a dead, mindless killing machine. So, pretty much a zombie.

The government places a quarantine on the town, and our heroes, John (the one who dies at the end), David and Amy, try to find each other amid the craziness and break out of quarantine to save the town (John and David can see the invisible parasites because of a side effect of a drug they took a few years ago, so they can tell who is infected. They think). Shenanigans ensue.

But what would I do if I were running away from zombies? Well, let’s start with what I’d wear.

zombie gear

Black so you can blend in with the night. If you can, I’d recommend a ka-pow sweater for added courage. A puffer coat for warmth while you’re on the run, and a watch–for keeping time and possibly for bartering with other quarantine rebels. And you’d definitely need a cross-body purse, with zippers, for hands-free activities like running away.

You should also probably read this Vulture article on sawed-off shotguns, so you know what you’re dealing with.

You know what, we should really get a contingency plan in place.

cannery row

I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at not batting an eye at seeing crazy things. I’ve lived in New York for a few years now and you have to just accept the crazy and move on with your day. But my cynicism is nothing compared to Steinbeck’s in Cannery Row.

Without so much as a hyphen, he drops in doozies like finding a beautiful dead girl while out on a fishing trip. And he slips in a family that lives in a boiler and rents out pipes so quickly that if you sneeze you’d miss it (you can hear the snores echo at night if you listen closely). Hilarious, scary, and touching moments are all a part of life at Cannery Row, and Steinbeck weaves them in so naturally you need to really pay attention to see the beauty of it all.

But maybe that’s not cynicism. Maybe that’s optimism. To find these moments of hope and heart in your community among the work and strife is truly beautiful. And these moments were my favorite moments of the book.

The rest of the town was also great. Doc is a wonderful character whose pathological lies are the perfect counterbalance to his goodness. Mack’s manipulations are only matched by the love for his new puppy. We know Mack’s selfish schemes can’t end well, but the way they fall apart is a lovely surprise each time. And the language was another beautiful surprise.

My favorite quotes:

  • They did not measure their joy in goods sold, their egos in bank balances, nor their loves in what they cost.
  • ..where men hungering for love destroy everything lovable about them.
  • …for a starfish loves to hang onto something and for an hour these had found only each other.
  • No one has studied the psychology of a dying party. It may be raging, howling, boiling, and then a fever sets in and a little silence and then quickly quickly it is gone, the guests go home or go to sleep or wander away to some other affair and they leave a dead body.
  • Who wants to be good if he has to be hungry too?
  • And no one was invited. Everyone was going.

You may not be invited to the community you live in, but those who live at Cannery Row choose to participate. They share kindness, hope, distress, and–best of all–a good party.

thankful

Yesterday was full of travel and family and food, so I’m a day behind on this, but here is what I’m Thankful for this year.

  • #fatcat. Cisco had a home with my brother before he came to stay with me two years ago, and he has brought so much joy and love into my home. Plus, he’s hilarious. And fat.

  • my family. We aren’t all near each other all the time, but a few years ago we started setting a week aside each year to get together for family vacation. I love, love, love this time I get to spend with everyone and that I get to play with my nephews all week. I am so excited we will all be together over Christmas this year. 
  • my friends. I have the most amazing friends in the world, and I couldn’t have made it this far in New York or in my life without them. They support my dreams, read this blog, talk celebrity gossip, see silly movies with me, keep me company on gchat, and travel halfway across the country to hang out with me. I love you guys, seriously. And this year, one of my oldest and best friends moved to the city to start a new chapter in her life. So I can see her all the time!
  • my apartment. I moved recently and unexpectedly. Even just thinking about moving sends me into an anxiety tailspin. But thanks to my friend Laura who kept me company on moving day and kept me sane on all the other days, I am making a home in a new place and having tons of fun doing it.
  • reading. I have a family full of bookworms. As you can see by my childhood books they still have in the basement, they have been encouraging reading all my life. And even now, when I have a new interest or dream, they give me a book about it. They always make time to talk books, and I make a living by reading and editing. I’m very grateful for that. (photo from my parents)

  • my sewing machine. My mom gave me her sewing machine a few years ago, and it’s opened me up to create things by hand. I can pass the time making beautiful (or, well, average) things, it stretches a new part of my brain, and I’m really proud of the things I’ve tried over the past few years.
  • this blog. By sharing some of my life with you, Internet, I’ve gotten more comfortable with myself and more confident in life. It’s been a blast to find people with similar interests and to chat about the things I’m doing. Sometimes I feel like an idiot for putting it all out there, but that feeling gives way to fun 99% of the time. And thank you, for reading.

But most of all, I’m thankful not to be out in Black Friday, right now. Instead I’m sitting in my parents’ kitchen as my dad makes lunch. Life is pretty good, yes?

the dark tower, finally

Just like a good horror movie blends a terrifying ghost with the every day creaks and groans of an old house, the Dark Tower series blends fiction and reality. Ka is a wheel and it echoes, and when I read The Dark Tower I saw those echoes everywhere. And when I was reading late at night I could just see the real-life King waking up in the middle of the night with a strange nursery rhyme in his and head and wonder where it came from. (And for the record, I liked that King put himself in the book, and this is one reason why.)

And I loved that this series was completely ludicrous. Have you ever tried to tell someone the plot? You sound insane.

“Well there’s this talking dog thing that really love this kid, and this kid died before but then came back and went into a new world through an old demon house in Brooklyn. At one point, they ride a suicidal train that likes to tell jokes. And another time these characters actually meet the author that wrote them. Also doors open from nothing into alternate universes and they swing by the Emerald City on their way across Kansas. And there’s a pretty important weapon named after the snitch in Harry Potter.”

And that’s, like, minor plot points.

But I had so much fun when I read it. And I think King had fun with it, too. And I love Oy, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and, yes, even Roland. Although it took me a while to love Roland. He is cold and unforgiving and focused and heartless. Or is he? He grows to love, and he begins to realize that some people and some loves are worth his life. He even tries to sacrifice himself for Jake. But ultimately, he chooses the Tower. He always chooses the Tower.

Books 1 through 4 are the best, and if you are one of those people on comment threads I have been reading who say they don’t get book 4 and it’s a waste of time and a weird flashback, I do not and probably will never understand you as a person. Wizard and Glass is a beautiful story and is beautifully written and gives life and love to Roland. And even if you never read another book in the series, Wizard and Glass could stand on its own and break my heart every time (in a good way). I loved the first three books as well. They are so fun and each is so different from the other and they were exciting to read. Lobstrocities! Billybumblers! Doors that went from a beach to the inside of a drug addict’s head on an airplane ride to drug deal in Miami! Each new book was like a whole new story, a new style, and an entire new experience. And that was wonderfully exciting to read.

[SPOILERS BEGIN HERE]

I think Roland’s downfall is that he chooses the Tower over everything. How many loved ones and strangers has he killed or let die to get closer to it? He knows their names, he knows his price, but he never stopped. Even when he and Jake both knew that one of them would die as they continued on their quest, they both continued. But Roland did it for the Tower, and Jake kept going because of his love for Roland. It’s this difference that Roland doesn’t learn until it is too late.

Roland saves not just one world but all of the worlds, and even that is just a byproduct of getting him closer to the Tower. Just like leaving the horn on Jericho Hill. Because at that moment, after Cuthbert died, Roland couldn’t even take 15 seconds to stop and pick up the item that came from his ancestors and meant something to him, and to his now dead friend. Because it would have taken too long, and he had to get on his way.

[EVEN MORE SERIOUS SPOILERS. IF YOU READ AHEAD, HERE IS ANOTHER CHANCE TO STOP.]

And on his way to what? In this book, death. We lost Eddie first. I cried, obviously. The love and respect between the ka-tet was uplifting to be a part of. And when it broke, it was devastating. But we saw it coming, didn’t we? Ka is a wheel, and Eddie was so like Cuthbert. At the battle where we lost Eddie, we gained the beams, and theoretically the well-being of the universe. As Roland’s ka mates freed the Breakers from their work of destroying the beams that hold the universe together, we met a few more characters from King’s other books. I love these details, it makes me feel like King and his books are operating in a different place altogether (and all together). Like it’s their world and we’re just living in it.

And to see Sheemie again. His devotion to Roland was so sweet, and I’m so glad he got to find some peace after their previous meeting in Mejis, where so much went wrong. From the prison where Eddie (and Sheemie) died, we went with the ka-tet back to Americaside to save the selfish, lazy Stephen King.

Again, I liked that Stephen King was in these books. It’s fun you guys! Don’t you know fun? Not everything has so be so serious traditional literature, and I think once we passed a robot bear semi god, a woman who has split personalities but was only pregnant in one of them, and a demon spider baby, we have gone way past reality and way past the traditional rules.

Also, I like Stephen King. He seems like a fun guy and he has some crazy things in his head. I’d like to grab dinner with him, maybe sit and chat over a strong tea.

I also liked the parts where Roland went to the Tet Corporation and met those who did so much to help his cause. Though now that I think about it now, that does seem like a side road we might not have needed to go down. (I bet Pere Callahan thought that about a few of his roads, too.) But it was a nice conclusion to the Tet Corp., and if nothing else, this was a story of conclusions.

Walter’s life concluded in a most ugly fashion. And to all you haters, I agree that it was anticlimactic. But I think that makes it perfect. For a supervilliansemiimmortal to get trapped and killed without anyone–even him at first–knowing? I don’t think Walter deserves to go out with a bang.

Oy’s life ended here, too. After Mordred finished off Walter he headed unknowingly into Oy’s path, who died to protect Roland from his werespider son. My heart hurt for Oy, who I love so much for his love of his ka mates. He and Jake were so perfect together and Oy showed his love and his courage over and over. Oy reminds me of #fatcat, which is partly why I love him so much. His chatty, loyal personality could be Cisco to a T. Cisco even battles the occasional spider he finds in my apartment.

And you know we have to talk about it. The Ending, with a capital E

[THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE. DO NOT KEEP READING UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE ENTIRE SERIES, I BEG OF YOU]

It’s horrible. I was sick to my stomach. We just went through all of that fun, all of that pain, all of that story just to do it all over again? It’s horrifying, but it’s perfect. How many times did he tell us Ka is a wheel? How many times did he tell us it all comes back around? And until Roland learns that love and people should be his motivations and not the Tower itself, he will continue on his heartbreaking quest eternally.

Or maybe not. He learned enough this time around (the 19th time around?) to remember to stop and pick up the horn and Jericho Hill on his next journey. He learned this time to love and to be willing to sacrifice himself for this love, but I believe he learned it too late. And did he really learn? He learned to love, but when the world was saved, and the beams held up, he didn’t go with Susannah, his ka mate. He went on, alone, to the Tower.

For my other thoughts on the series, see here:

art

I am trying to do a lot of things for my home this weekend, since I found out my office will be closed for a while and I’ll be working from home A LOT. (Sandy flooded my office, you guys. womp womp.)

I will share more apartment pictures soon so I can show you what it looks like now and the things I’d still like to do. But I have some wall space above a bookshelf where I put my TV, and I know I’d like to fill it up with a large piece of art. And I’d like to make that art, have it printed really large somewhere, and hang it up. Easy enough, right? (In theory.)

These two are my favorite designs so far, both simple, colorful, and based on books that have taken up a lot of my love and imagination. The first is based on the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. This refrain is repeated throughout the books, and the ka-tet group of friends travel through many of the worlds. The hat on the “r” is for the Gunslinger, one of the coolest men I’ve had the pleasure of reading about.

And this guy, I think you know.

I like these designs even if I don’t end up putting them on my wall, and I think I’ll play around with some more to see what else I can do.

What do you think?

in my white tee

I was planning on writing about something else today, but it turns out I still can’t get The Casual Vacancy out of my head.

Or out of my fantasy closet.

I try to find inspiration in what I’m reading, and there is a lot to be found in this book. Even on how to dress. When Samantha Mollison gives into a crush on a boy band member and buys tickets to take her daughter to see the band perform, she dons a band T shirt, jeans, and heels.

T shirts are so great. They are so simple, and I love how they can add a fun, casual vibe to any outfit, even if you’re dressing up for a big night, like Samantha. With the help of Polyvore, see how I’d like to wear a T shirt for several occasions.

 

 

I’m going to try to have some real-life closet examples in the coming weeks. Do you turn to T shirts as a wardrobe staple? Or do you leave them for the gym?

the casual vacancy

I finished this book with a glass of wine and a box of tissues. My tears fell for the characters in  the book, and their injustices, their pain, and the knowledge that real-life people are going through the same, and worse.

This isn’t the first time J.K. Rowling has made me cry. Her themes of respect, friendship, and death are as apparent in The Casual Vacancy as they were in Harry Potter. The Casual Vacancy opens with the death of Barry Fairbrother, a member of the town council in Pagford. Just like with Harry’s mother, Lily Evans, we learn about Barry mostly through the way people speak of him. He is kind, perhaps to a fault. He is generous. He is smart, works hard, and cares for people less fortunate than him. People like Krystal Weedon, a high school student from the poor side of town who Barry takes under his wing.

The tale that follows Barry’s death is full of gossip in a small town, and how it affects the city council election for Barry’s now open spot. There’s gossip, bullying, drinking, drugs, affairs, and sex. But also HOW that gossip, bullying, drinking, drugs, affairs, and sex affect the people involved. Through Rowling’s beautifully crafted characters, you learn about the bully and bullied. You see both sides, and Rowling poses no judgement. She leaves that to you.

My favorite thing about this book, and the Harry Potter series, is how Rowling illustrates respect. Harry respects living creatures, no matter how small or insignificant. He sees what’s in their hearts and not the purity of their blood. In The Casual Vacancy, almost everyone does bad things. But who is a bad person? Is it a drug addict prostitute mother? Is it a man who cheats on his wife? Is it a teenager with every privilege who harasses people for sport? Rowling finds humanity in all of them, and in doing so, she reminds her readers to do the same.

I have a lot more thoughts about this book. Want to talk about it with me? Lemme know. Email me at raesdays [at] gmail.com, leave a comment, or hit me up on twitter @rclnudson. (And if you’re my sister, Dad said you were reading it–let’s talk soon!) See what else I’m reading on Goodreads.