The Remains of the Day has been recommended to me over and over again. Finally, when I saw it at my favorite used book store, I picked it up and shelved it. Somehow, the book never made it to the top of my reading list, though. Despite my affinity for Downton Abbey and all manner of British period pieces, it seemed too blatantly Anglophilic for me. I don’t enjoy reading just anything written about British people, but I do appreciate that uniquely British pairing of scathing humor with unnatural, almost illogical, stoicism. That’s why I enjoy Evelyn Waugh’s books, for example, or the lovely gem that is William Boyd’s Any Human Heart—one of my favorite reads of the year. In more ways than I had expected, Kazuo Ishiguro’s book was different from my usual fare.
I don’t particularly like Hostas. They just scream ordinariness. Their leaves, arguably their main feature, display a profusion of ordinarily-shaped leaves in a spectrum of ordinary leaf colors. I’m sure there are interesting and unique varieties out there, as there are with other popular plants, but I simply don’t get their appeal. When they do flower, the flowers are tiny, pale things whose delicate proportions are dwarfed by the plant’s bulky foliage. That is, until you see them without the other 90% of the plant.
I’ve never been so enamored of a daily sight as I was of this one. During the quarter that I spend studying abroad, I regularly watched fleeting, equatorial sunsets from the lawn of the Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial. My classmates and I had a daily break from late afternoon to early evening. In those hours, the sun and the heat retreated just enough to make the stifling, soupy air feel fresh again. It was the perfect time to sprawl on the grass and take in the play of burning light on the fluffy, dense clouds that perpetually threatened rain.
Some spring days do make me want to throw open all the windows. I want to bask in the sunshine, and I want to internalize that light so I can radiate it from every inch of my being. But, I don’t always have the energy to radiate pure sunlight from my soul. That’s when I get creative. If I need a little help from Estée Lauder to make it happen, so be it. Sometimes a swipe of lipstick makes it easier to get through the day.
Morning is my favorite time of day. I like to be up bright and early, but, if I can help it, I don’t like to leave the house first thing in the morning. That way, I can start my day in the most unhurried way possible. If I have the luxury of waking up slowly, I feel calm and focused, and then I’m ready to start my work. Like the speaker in Billy Collins’ poem, I feel potent and alive in the morning. A little caffeine coursing through my veins doesn’t hurt, either. Read more