the beginning (and my favorite books)

Needless to say, this is my very first blog post. I consider myself something of a writer, mostly because I enjoy it and I’ve been told that I’m good at it. I decided to create this blog about ten minutes ago out of sheer boredom at work (I work at a jewelry store with little to no supervision).

This blog will probably be mostly me writing about books that I’m reading, most of which will undoubtedly be classics, so if that’s not your thing, you might want to check out at this point. I’m pretty into Shakespeare and Jane Austen, but really, who isn’t?

I’m making this blog because I care too much about things that my friends and family don’t care about at all. I could just write these musings in a notebook or something, but I guess I would rather shout into the void that is the internet and hope that someone out there cares about this stuff, too.

Some things about me: I’m a college student attending Emerson College in Boston, with a major in journalism and a minor in political science, but I’m originally from Rhode Island. I absolutely love Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie. My favorite movies are The Shining, Inglorious Basterds, Batman (the really awful one with Michael Keaton), and The Princess Bride (to name a few). I’m starting to think that it’s impossible that anyone will find this interesting, but it’s my blog, right?

Most importantly, and what may be the deciding factor in whether or not you will continue to bother with this blog, is my favorite books. There are quite a few, so I’ll limit myself to ten. This is going to be tough, but here we go:

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  4. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (yes, I know he’s a playwright, but I can’t not include him on this list)
  5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (it would probably make more sense for me to do a separate list of my favorite Shakespeare plays, but this works for now)
  9. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (in other words, my entire childhood. I mean, my little brother’s name is Harry James. we’re a Harry Potter family)
  10. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

So, not all from the same time period, but all classics in their own ways. I just really want to talk about and analyze literature, and have a sort of time capsule for when I’m older.  Anyways, if you’re still reading this, thanks! I hope you stick around.

Advertisements

a little something i wrote for school

Hey guys. I wrote this for my travel writing 305 class as a freshman in college. The assignment was to visit a place that was made of stone and write a creative nonfiction piece about the journey. I’d love feedback on it if you feel like taking the time to read it. It is titled “Ordinary Melodies”. Thanks all. 

Ordinary Melodies

By Mary Dolan

IMG_2923.JPG

I climbed into my car on a Sunday evening. I knew from the second I stepped outside that I would regret wearing my mustard-colored spring jacket, but out of blind optimism I ignored the cold that stung my eyes and started driving past houses that I’ve memorized by now. A few quiet minutes passed, and the familiarity faded as I entered a neighborhood that’s different from my own. There aren’t two and three-family homes in my neighborhood like were in that one, with the sun faded vinyl siding and chain link fences. There weren’t many trees, but I noticed a few telephone lines that hadn’t been fixed yet after the wind storm from a couple days prior. The word “SAVAGE” was sloppily graffitied in black on a concrete wall beside a vape shop.

As the Roger Williams Park sign finally came into view, the multi-family homes changed into houses made of brick, or with freshly painted shingles. I took a right into the park and was confronted with a maze of convoluted twists and turns, with the occasional sign to assure me that I was headed in the vaguely right direction. The Temple of Music was deeper within the park than I remembered from the last time I’d been there, which had only been once before. I took my brother and a couple of his friends there last year when they had to film a video for their school project about ancient Greece.

Branches littered the grass, and sticks splintered under the tires of my car. The turn I was supposed to take to get to the Temple of Music was blocked off with yellow caution tape due to a fallen tree, and so I decided to continue straight, park in the Carousel Village parking lot, and hike the rest of the way.

The Temple of Music is an orchestral concert venue built to resemble ancient Grecian architecture. I’ve heard that that’s where they do Shakespeare in the Park, too, but I’ve never been. It’s really only used in summer, because no one really wants to lay a blanket and have a picnic on a snowbank. I figured it just stood there waiting for the other seasons to be over, when the music would come and fill it up again.

The blinding white sky told me that the rain wouldn’t hold back for much longer. I blasted the heat in my car for a few seconds as I braced myself to go outside again, and when I got out of my car, the wind slammed the door shut for me. I started up the patchy, emerald and brown hill with my hands balled up in fists and shoved deep into my pockets. My boots occasionally sunk in the mud as I made my way uphill.

I could see the pointed top of the Temple at the bottom of the hill I’d just climbed. I watched the ground carefully as I made my way down, my arms outstretched for balance, with a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other, hoping the avoid slipping in the damp grass. It wasn’t until I was safely at the bottom that I looked up again.

A few yards away from me was a massive tree, completely uprooted from the ground, laying defeated on its side. There was a sign still attached to it that said, “NO FIRES FOR BARBEQUE GRILLING”. I climbed on top of it, arms outstretched again, one foot carefully in front of the other on the slippery bark, wobbling towards the branches. The fragrance of earthy petrichor was stronger there than anywhere else I’d been yet.

I was at last close enough to get a full view of the Temple of Music. It was an even brighter white than the ominous sky, made only more vibrant by the surrounding gnarled and bare trees, and the gray dumpster beside it. There were four ionic columns on either side, supporting the rest of the rectangular structure. The other two sides were solid stone walls, but with the majority of them carved out to show two more decorative ionic columns. Two sets of elongated stairs on either side led up to the columns and into the Temple.

I hopped down and trudged towards the walking path along the water behind the Temple. The sound of wheels on stone echoed through it, acting as an amplifier. A boy was skateboarding in the Temple, back and forth, over and over again, his wheels grinding like an audible pendulum. I wondered if they could’ve ever imagined that that’s what someone would be using it for when they built it back in 1924. I stood out over the water, and the breeze whipped my hair around my head. I hoped that the boy would leave soon so that I could take notes without seeming like I was conducting some sort of study on him. Geese honked overhead, and they flew in a uniform “V” shape over the water. I had nothing better to do, so I counted them. There were eleven.

I sauntered along the path, peering across the water through thin white birch trees. A few minutes of stalling passed, and after a couple of crashes echoed through the Temple, the wheels stopped altogether, and I turned to see the back of a boy holding a skateboard walking down the path in the opposite direction of myself. I waited a couple more seconds before scrambling toward the Temple.

I ascended the staircase, through the columns and into the stone structure. I dropped my notebook on the stone tiles, and it made a thud that vibrated through the Temple. The geese continued to squawk over the water, and I knew the wind was picking up because my eyes were tearing and I could hear the “whoosh” in the air.

As soon as I walked in, I was struck by the seemingly perfect symmetry of it. I stood in the middle and tried to pick a side before going to the right, which like the left side had a shallow staircase that led up to the wall. I sat on the top step. It was colder and rougher than I was expecting. It was cracked, too, and I wondered what could have broken something so frozen and solid. There was a pile of jagged green glass in the corner, and I turned over a shard to reveal the “Heineken” label. I let it drop out of my hand, and it hit the stone with a graceful clatter.

I heard a faint feminine laugh and looked out across the field, laden with broken tree limbs, and a young man and woman walked hand in hand towards me. They looked at me writing furiously for a moment, and I pretended not to notice. They went to the opposite side of the Temple, hands still clasped, and faced the wall.

“Rachel loves David,” said the girl. She kicked the wall with her sneaker. The boy mumbled some reply, and her laughter, though soft, rang through the Temple and bounced off the stone, all the way to me, as if she’d done it right in my ear. They ambled down the steps again and made their way back the way they came. I crossed over to the other side, relieved to stand up off the frigid floor. My boots made a satisfying tap with every step.

On the wall, “Rachel loves David” was written with pink and blue chalk. The steps were speckled with years’ worth of black dots of chewed gum. I noticed for the first time the names of famous composers engraved on the wall, high up near the elegantly decorated ceiling. Hadyn, Mozart, Beethoven, Cherubini. I read that the Temple of Music used to be called the Temple to Music, which at the time didn’t seem like it made any difference, but I realized then that somehow it did. I leaned on a column, which was so coarse that it snagged my jacket, and with a final glance around the Temple I made my way back up the hill.

The Temple to Music sounds like someone decided to build it out of some sort of obligation, or because they couldn’t figure out what else to dedicate a temple to. The Temple of Music, I thought, as my boots sunk in the mud again and I felt a cold drizzle begin to tap on the top of my head, makes it sound like the Temple is derived from music. Like music sustains it, and makes it what it is. And it’s true, there aren’t any concerts played there at this time of year, but I thought about those grinding wheels, and the beer bottle, and the girl’s radiant laughter and the sound of my boots tapping across the stone floor. Where there’s life, there’s music. I climbed onto the fallen tree again, and looked back at the Temple of Music. It glowed whiter than ever against the darkening sky.

currently reading

IMG-0012

My inconsistency astounds even myself. Let’s dive in!

  1. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

A journalistic look at the factory farming industry (and meat consumption in general) combined with personal essays. This is a weird one for me since I don’t usually go for nonfiction, and I certainly don’t read about the food industry on a regular basis. But my neighbor let me go through all the books he was getting rid of, and this one jumped out for me (I admit that it might’ve been for the beautiful color). I’m about 100 pages in, but I admit it’s been almost a week since I last picked it up. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it, though. It’s because I’m not a vegetarian, and a big part of me wants to remain in blissful ignorance whilst I enjoy summer barbecues. Foer is entertaining, albeit pretentious at times, and it’s really evident that he writes fiction as well because he has a creative voice. This book stirs up plenty of uncomfortable questions, and I’m interested to continue with it because I’m just now getting to the real horrors of factory farming. It feeds my morbid fascination. (P.S. Apparently factory farming contributes more to global warming than transportation? Insane.)

2. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Set in 19th century, London has been divided into four separate worlds. Kell, one of only two people who can travel between the Londons, stumbles upon a dangerous magical relic and must get rid of it. I’m a I’m about halfway through this one, and I’ve got to say, I’m not impressed. I had high expectations going in because a couple friends of mine have been absolutely raving about this trilogy. It’s beginning to pick up now, but I found the first half to be painfully slow moving. Not only that, but I find Kell to be SO. BORING. I can honestly say that I can’t find one discernible trait in him. The rules for magic in this world are quite confusing as well, and I can’t really visualize how it works or what it looks like when it does. I don’t really gel with the writing style, which I find a little too juvenile for the setting. It doesn’t quite fit. I’m going to bite the bullet and finish it because there a few aspects I like, but unless the second half wows me I can’t say I’ll be picking up the sequel. Just not my cup of tea, I suppose.

3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

A retelling of the mythical Greek warrior, Achilles, and his closest friend (and lover) Patroclus as they grow up together and eventually fight in the Trojan War, as told from Patroclus’ perspective. OH MY. I only have a few chapters left of this one and it really has wowed me. The writing style is beautiful and it’s so evident that the author has studied Classical literature. I whipped right through this one. The romance in this one is just beautiful and feels so genuine. My one gripe is that Patroclus’ sheer adoration for Achilles is at times repetitive and I kind of feel the need to throw a bucket of cold water on him at certain points. While I’m loving the whole thing, my favorite “era” of Patroclus and Achilles is when they were training with Chiron before the war. There was something whimsical about it and I could let myself forget for a while that this is a Greek tragedy, and, you know, death and stuff.

4. The Night is Darkening Round Me by Emily Bronte

I’ve committed myself to reading more poetry, and I’m sticking to it! I think I’ve mentioned before on this blog that Wuthering Heights is my all time favorite book, so I decided to ease into the poetry scene with something I knew I’d enjoy. It’s a tiny collection of work; it’s actually one of the Penguin Little Black Classics collection. Guys. These poems are gorgeous. My favorite poem thus far is “Remembrance”, about a person recalling a deceased love. Most of her poems are written with an AB rhyme scheme and that makes it easier for me to read. I recommend reading these aloud for the full effect.

That’s it! Once a finish a couple of these, I’m going to start George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, which I’ve heard nothing but great things about. It’s an incentive for me to finish these, even though I don’t want The Song of Achilles to end since I’m not ready for the pain. Happy reading!

the beginning (part two)

It’s safe to say that so far, I might just be the worst blogger of all time.

Back in July of 2017, I was close to starting my first year of college, and I was feeling everything that I should have been: nervousness, excitement, and anticipation.

I had high expectations for college. I was going to a school where I was so confident that I would fit in and find my niche.

That didn’t happen.

I waited; I joined clubs; I made an effort to talk to people. But still, I felt isolated, depressed, and confused. My roommate and I didn’t get along. I felt disliked by one of my professors, which has honestly never happened to me before. In high school, I was very involved, and I’d lived in the same tiny neighborhood all my life. My parents told me the discomfort would pass. I ended up making a couple of really close, lovely, like-minded friends, but I was still unhappy. I knew in my heart that it just wasn’t the right fit.

And so, when my first semester ended, I decided to transfer schools. It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I had some people telling me that I’d be better off transferring rather than suffering for another semester, and others telling me that I’d regret it if I didn’t give it one more chance. In the end, I felt it was best for me to leave.

I lived at home this past semester and commuted to school every day. I really didn’t make any friends, but weirdly, I’m okay with that. For the first time since starting college, I felt like I had a moment to breathe and find my footing. I actually enjoyed my classes. I was put in an upper level travel writing class, and that changed everything for me. My professor was brilliant and kind, and she inspired me to get back to writing not only for classes, but because I genuinely love doing it.

I just found out that I got a 4.0 GPA. I cried when I saw that number. It may sound dramatic, but I spent such a long time convinced that I was a failure because I left what I thought was my dream school. It’s hard when you want something to work so badly, but it just doesn’t. I realize now that I wouldn’t have been able to pull of straight A’s if I hadn’t sorted myself out.

What I’m trying to say is this: expectations can prevent us from doing what’s best for us. If I’d stayed at my first college, I know for a fact that I would still be miserable. After taking my travel writing class, I’ve decided to double major in journalism and writing & rhetoric, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I don’t pretend to know how the universe works, but I truly feel like I was meant to have this experience.

So, you ask, what’s this got to do with your blog?

Now that this storm of emotions and internal conflict is over, I’m back. My mind feels sorted, and I’m ready to do what I love: reading, writing, and ranting (about books, of course). I’ve been trying to get more into poetry lately, and I’ve really been loving Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson. I’d love some suggestions if you’ve got ’em.

You can expect me to be posting fairly frequently. I’m pumped to be here.

—Mary, possibly the world’s worst blogger

my book collection

To really get this blog started, I wanted to share some photos of my book collection. I live near a used book store, so I’m able to get plenty fairly new books for cheap prices. The books on the white bookshelf are mine. The rest are my dad’s. I guess that’s where I get my love of books from; he’s been collecting them for over twenty years! I believe he has around 400 leather bound books, as well as a massive collection of paperbacks. So yes, my house is more or less a gigantic library.

The books on my shelf are roughly arranged by genre (and when I say roughly, I mean, like, yikes). The top shelf is modern classics, the second is plays, poetry, nonfiction and Harry Potter, the third is pretty classics, the fourth is mostly Victorian literature, and the bottom shelf is YA, children’s, and general novels. However, I like to rearrange often. For some reason I find it therapeutic.

I feel like this is still part of the preliminary stuff, but I hope you enjoy! I always love checking out other people’s collections. Hopefully I’m not the only one!