Tuesday, July 29, 2008

susie salmon

as mentioned earlier, i am on vacation and trying to keep the blood pressure down and the headaches to a minimum, and therefore am avoiding rants of any kind. the good news: i am in such a wonderful current state-of-mind that i simply cannot think of one thing to rant about. true story. this has been the best. vacation. ever. and i still have seven full days to soak it all in. i have not logged on to my work email, which is a small miracle in and of itself since i usually check it compulsively, even on weekends. i'm beautifully out-of-the-loop. i'm pretty sure that the 1913 law was officially overturned today in MA, which is of course great news, but i only know this because of the Pam's House Blend headline on my blog feed. for real, i haven't even clicked onto the story to read about it. if i do, i will inevitably find something on there that pisses me off and i will feel the urge to write a Slant Rant. this morning's post was a close call after reading just one article from NYT headlines, and i felt myself shifting dangerously near Work Mode. so i am staying away from that edge, which now includes reading anything beyond headlines, until i'm sitting at my desk next Wednesday. ignorance is my current bliss, people.

i had a great day at Two Lights...got lucky and found the perfect rock-chair close to the water, and perched myself there for about 4 hours. got even luckier and watched two seals spend a solid 30 minutes fishing and swimming and acting all, well, seal-like. i have often thought that in my next life, i want to come back as a well-loved cat, but being a seal might not be such a bad gig either. they certainly appeared to be having incredible amounts of fun. i ate lunch, wrote in my journal, and occasionally checked the trajectories of the rogue waves crashing on the rocks, their spray moving ever closer to my spot. around 3:00 the wind shifted and i could literally feel the tide turning. the rogue waves got bigger, the sprays higher, and i was gently persuaded by the tide to move further and further up the rocks. when i finally left around 4:00, my original seat was completely submerged. and all night, i have had that wonderful, faint taste of salt on my lips. i have seen the ocean every single day of my vacation so far. for this aquarian, that is simply as good as it gets.

and i finished Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones , and now have a new literary heroine to add to my short list (currently Scout Finch and Ellen Foster sit at the top): Susie, "last name Salmon, like the fish." my god, what an amazing and beautiful book--and a stunning meditation on life and death.

i don't know how Sebold did it...her first novel and she decides to write a story narrated by a dead girl who's hanging out in heaven and watching the events on earth unfold after her death. it sounds almost ridiculous and at the very least utterly depressing. but this ain't no mitch albom "the five people you meet in heaven" (bleh). and while the first chapter is nearly impossible to get through, if you hang in there, you will be richly rewarded. somehow Sebold manages to tell an incredible coming-of-age story about a funny, sweet girl who we know from the very first sentence will never grow up. it's just truly an astonishing book and i savored every single word.

"When I opened my eyes, the window across from us was dark red and I could feel that there was not much time left. Outside, the world I had watched for so long was living and breathing on the same earth I now was. But I knew I could not go out. I had taken this time to fall in love instead--in love with the sort of helplessness I had not felt in death--the helplessness of being alive, the dark bright pity of being human--feeling as you went, groping in corners and opening your arms to light--all of it part of navigating the unknown."

the lovely bones is, in a word, lovely. and highly recommended by The Slant.

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