“But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates.” My Life’s Sentences, Jhumpa Lahiri
I spent this weekend with Carter, Beast and my old middle school friend Skye in the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. I had arranged to meet him and Skye Friday in San Francisco for the long drive; it was raining cats and dogs when my company bus rolled into downtown. I could actually hear the beat of the rain rising in volume as we pulled into Civic Center. I made my way through the rain with umbrella in one hand, tote bag in the other, and backpack on my shoulders. We had a nice, abbreviated meal at King of Thai Noodle and got on the road as quick as possible.
The drive to the cabin was unremarkable (if rather wet), and Carter’s dad was already at the cabin, so it was warm when we finally arrived and hauled up our luggage (backpacks, tote bags, dog supplies, and ski equipment) through the rain and into the cabin. Carter and Skye lingered to sip wine and gin & tonics with Carter’s dad, but I headed straight upstairs and showered and got into bed. Altitude makes me tired.
Saturday everyone got up fairly earlyish; I followed suit to make some pancakes and scrambled eggs for the intrepid skiers. I spent the rest of the day watching the snow fall, and typing idly on my laptop, and eating pate and crackers. It was blissfully quiet. Once the adventurers returned, we headed to the Williams cabin for a meal of meatballs, enchiladas, chile relleno and refried beans. Skye became enamored of the German friendship cake that was served after dinner (must remember to follow through on her request for the recipe). Good fellowship and conversation was enjoyed by all, and I even drank a margarita. We didn’t stay long at the cabin on account of Carter’s irritated eye and general exhaustion.
He had already made plans to ski again on Sunday with his brother Sam, so he roused himself at 7AM. I pondered getting up with him, but just ended up taking Beast out for a pee and going back to sleep for two more wonderful hours. Once I woke up I sat in the cabin’s breakfast nook and watched the snow fall. I did a little bit of fiddling with this blog. Once Skye came downstairs we made the same plain pancake-and-egg breakfast and chatted with Carter’s dad. The rest of the day at the cabin was spent curled up on the couch, gossiping, munching on brie and mandarins, watching the snowfall, and waiting for the boys to return. It was again a blissful nothing.
We came home late Sunday, after a pit stop at a burger joint. We were both pretty useless by that point, and spent the evening flopped out in front of the TV.
I like that Jhumpa Lahiri essay about sentences, and am looking forward to this new NYT series on writing. It always seemed impossibly unfair that a writer should be both so talented and so accomplished and so beautiful at the same time. I read a few of her short stories back in college, and was always struck by how carefully crafted her language was–this word juxtaposed to that, this paragraph made perfect, this story designed such and such a way.
On the (decidedly lowbrow) reading front, aside from the Real Simples and the People Magazines I consumed over the weekend, I spent most of my time breezing through The Sheik. I realize it’s quite the problematic novel, but it’s a classic of the romance genre and useful for outlining what gives pulp its juice.
Currently reading: The Sheik, by Edith Maude Hall