Driving Miss Daisy

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The author’s preface begins by stating of Miss Daisy being a real person his grandmother knew in Georgia in the 1940s. Daisy was a spinster and the last of her large clan. There was also a real Hoke, whom was a part-time bartender at a country club, and Boolie was the brother of Uhry’s aunt’s friend, and the characters aren’t like the people, he only used their names. Miss Daisy was partially his grandmother, her four sisters, and his mother. Hoke comes from his grandmother’s driver, but also other black drivers he’d known in his youth, and Boolie is made up of not only Uhry, but many men he couldn’t identify from his past, and Florine’s character’s real-life counterpart is refused to be revealed. As for the play itself, Uhry didn’t realize the hype it would bring, originally given five weeks on stage, a 74-seater, then the play was given an extra five weeks for popularity and moved to a much larger theater. Uhry had been currently writing the screenplay when he’d written this introduction, and had won the Pulitzer, he stating of writing what he knew and people shining to his perspective without seeking publicity.

Daisy, whom is 72-years-old, is heard announcing of going grocery shopping, starting her car, and then noises of a terrible wreck occurring. She is then arguing with Boolie, her 42-year-old son, he noting how lucky she’d been not to have gotten hurt or worse. Daisy stubbornly declares of the car being faulty, her old one not having acted this way, but Boolie stating how it wasn’t the car’s idea to hit their neighbor’s garage. Daisy denies his idea of hiring a driver, he trying to convince her of the likelihood she’ll be able to stay insured after wrecking her car with only two weeks of use so far, he then attempting to ease her mind with knowing he’d work out all the details, but she not wanting to be hassled with someone whom would take advantage by using her things and eating at her home. When he fails to convince her and she defends herself by stating how she was brought up to rely on herself and hiring “them” wasn’t affordable, Boolie gives her a hard time upon hearing her usage of “them”, he sharing he and his wife, Florine had plans for the evening, and Daisy passive-aggressively commenting. Boolie dismisses this, and then relays he’d be interviewing men for the job and would phone the next day, she still resisting, and then sings a song to conclude the argument.

Boolie is found in his office, Hoke walks in, currently around the age of 60, and looking like he needed work, but attempted to look nice. Boolie finishes a bit of work as he invites him to sit, Hoke agreeable to allow him to finish his task, Boolie then asking how long he’d been unemployed and where he’d worked before. Hoke responds of it being about a year, he then sharing how he preferred working for Jews which led into whom he’d worked for before having attempted to rip him off by selling him over-priced shirts, he then driving for a Jewish man whom Boolie knew, Hoke having worked for him for 7 years before he’d died. Hoke inquires who he’d be driving, Boolie relaying whom it was for and the reason he was looking rather than his mother, assuring him since he was hiring, she wouldn’t be able to let him go. Hoke is satisfied and accepts the job after Boolie offers his pay rate at 20 dollars a week.

Daisy is next seen coming into her living room, reading the news and ignoring Hoke, she only replies to his greeting her. She answers smartly to his weather chat, and then states of taking the trolley to the grocer’s when Hoke relays what the housemaid had told him of certain supplies running low, she refusing to let him take her. Hoke attempts an offer at caring for her flowers and when denied, states of being able to start a vegetable garden, but again is refused, Hoke then resigning himself to sit in the kitchen like he had for six days, but upon discussing how she’d been raised, he offers to water her front steps, this being when she gives him permission to drive her, instead. Hoke makes conversation on the car’s new smell, Daisy speaking of how she’d been taught to drive by her husband and she wanted him to drive well below the speed limit, she then freaking out about the route he was taking, but he gets her there, and once relinquishing the keys to her, she gives him a death stare after he reminds her of getting cleanser, then he calls Boolie from a pay phone, he seeing she’d caught him calling from inside the store and expected she’d have a fit.

Daisy is now peeved when Hoke picks her up from temple directly at the front doors, the two arguing why it would be a big deal Daisy’s acquaintances would see her with a driver and looked wealthy, Hoke giving up on talking about it, and next Boolie receiving a call from Daisy, he agreeing to visit her later, she speaking quickly. When he sees her, Daisy is going off on how Hoke had taken a can of her salmon, Boolie not getting what the issue was, he now tired of arguing and stating she do what she wanted, Hoke then arriving and sharing how he’d had the can of salmon and bought a replacement, Daisy attempting nonchalance and going upstairs to change from her robe. Daisy and Hoke are now at a graveyard, she carrying a mini-shovel and Hoke commenting how often they’d come in the past month, she having cleaned her husband’s stone thoroughly, and how she didn’t allow the staff to tend to it, she instructing him to retrieve some flowers from the car to set on a friend’s husband’s grave, she directing where it would be, but Hoke returning and guiltily confessing of not being able to read, Daisy not believing him at first, since she’d seen him look at the paper, he confiding he was looking at the pictures. Daisy then learns he knew the alphabet, and so actually could read and didn’t know it, having him listen to the sound of “B” and “R”, the first and last letter of the last name he was searching for, she declaring he’d locate it, and Hoke sharing how much he was grateful for her help, she dismissing this and sending him off, claiming of getting hot.

It’s now Christmas and Boolie is speaking on the phone and looking festive, he asking Daisy if she had coconut, to bring it along, since Florine needed it for her ambrosia. Daisy and Hoke are leaving, she not caught up with the Christmas spirit (hwhat a surprise…), she giving Florine the most crap for how many decorations she put up, Hoke agreeing, but enjoying himself. He points out how she’d also put a Rudolph up in a tree, Daisy declaring how Florine’s grandfather would’ve responded to viewing this, but then changes the subject to a book she’d given to Hoke, she vehemently denying it being a present, and to tell no one, Hoke assuring her and attempting to hide his feelings, the two then walking up the drive.

Boolie is now in his late 40s, dressed for golf, and waiting for Hoke, whom comes out to share of Daisy not coming, he relating how defensive she’d been with this new car lately, she chasing some man around when he’d set his case on the hood for a moment, and how she disliked using the A/C, he going on to describe of having purchased the old car and allowing Daisy to ride in it once in awhile, he warning Boolie to mind his ashes. Daisy is then shown carrying out a large suitcase, looking around apprehensively, then getting a dress bag and wicker basket, after which she brings out a wrapped present, Hoke then coming out with a small suitcase and fussing about how she’d brought out all the heavy items unnecessarily, she going on about the time, and he assuring they weren’t late, Boolie then coming out with Florine’s gift for his uncle, whom was turning 90, Daisy stating how inconsiderate they were for not attending and instead going to a show, My Fair Lady in New York. Boolie gives Hoke some emergency money, makes sure they’re set with map, and then wishes Hoke well. Hoke is eating deviled eggs with enjoyment whilst he drove, they discussing their first times out of Georgia, Daisy’s being when she was 12, and Hoke’s being right then, she getting agitated when realizing they’d made a wrong turn, she regretting having been driven and getting talked into it by Boolie instead of going by train. As they are still driving, Hoke soon has to relieve himself, Daisy demanding he wait, but Hoke insisting, and declares of taking the keys, after which a few moments pass, and Daisy at first sounding furious, and then scared as she waited in the dark silence. Hoke is then entering Boolie’s office and relating how he’d heard from Boolie’s cousin’s wife about wanting to hire him, Hoke bringing it up, since putting the idea of a raise in his head, Boolie agreeing and offering 75 dollars a week, Hoke accepting this sounded right, and mentions how being in demand was a nice feeling.

Daisy, now in her 80s, is shown in her house, walking by candlelight, the lights having gone out, but phones still working. Boolie called to inform her it was the neighborhood and would update her after checking the car radio. Daisy is then startled when hearing her door open, but then Hoke greets her as usual, telling how he’d learned to drive on ice long ago and had stopped to get her coffee, she pleasantly surprised. They then go through their routine of she stating he clean up the water he’d tracked in and he replying of who she thought he was, she then picking up Boolie’s return call and learning of when the ice would melt, she replying he could stay put, since Hoke had come, Boolie giving her a hard time about she complimenting Hoke for the first time he’d heard. Next, Daisy’s in the car, Hoke returning to inform of the major damage up ahead. Daisy states how it was so late she wouldn’t make it to temple anyways, Hoke replying it had been bombed, so she wouldn’t have been able to, regardless. Daisy is in denial, then hoping no one had been hurt, unable to fathom why a reformed temple would be hit, Hoke describing the sort of people who make such destruction didn’t care, he sharing a childhood story of a buddy’s father getting strung up, Daisy not seeing the relation, and then disbelieving the news he’d heard from the cop being a lie. Hoke decides he’d attempt to return her home, she commanding he end the conversation.

Next, Boolie is in his late 50s, walking in to a room whilst being applauded, carrying a silver bowl, and attending due to being elected man of the year by the Atlanta Business Council and preparing to share his speech of thanks and his one-liner jokes about himself, then sharing his family’s origin of their business having been in alignment with the view of the people in their city, due to the success they had, concluding his speech with humble, gratefulness and mention of the upcoming sport’s event on Sunday, and regarding whom he wished to win (football, most like). Daisy is then shown attempting to make a phone call with effort, she becoming more decrepit. She gets a hold of Boolie’s secretary and only has her relay of having acquired the tickets to the honor banquet for Martin Luther King, Jr, then reassures the lady of how late in life her cousin had married.

Later, Boolie joins Daisy, whom is now 90, he inquiring how she was, Daisy not seeing the question as suitable for someone her age, and they moving on to his receiving her message. Daisy suggests Hoke drive them, but then offers Boolie to do so when he states of they needing to discuss these plans further, he broaching the subject by stating of realizing MLK Jr’s accomplishments and progressive acts being many, Daisy stopping him by announcing he should get to the point of whether he’d rather decline attendance. He explains how the ignorant men he worked with may affect his success if they found out, he suggesting she invite Hoke, Boolie then leaving. After Daisy gets ready, Hoke comes in to collect her and help her into the car. They’re on their way before Daisy starts harping on Hoke for being blind, he denying this accusation, and she stating how he’d almost hit a mailbox, the car thoroughly scratched. Hoke contradicts this, again and she repeats her accusation of him being blind, which was unfortunate, since the new car looked so nice. Hoke then states how it was rounding a couple years of she owning it, she replying he was going the wrong way.

The two compete about their length of time in Atlanta until he trumps (bad choice of word) her on she not having driven for 2 decades, she then changing the subject to Boolie, dancing around how he’d mentioned MLK Jr. and how easy it was for Hoke to see him preach at his church, Boolie believing Hoke wanted her to invite him, he then getting worked up with how she’d brought this up whilst he was driving her, she flustered he was over-reacting to how she’d asked, getting out and walking herself to the entrance. Boolie is now shown on the phone with Hoke, the latter having called to discuss Daisy being aggravated, different than normal, she calling to him, Hoke then describing how she thought she was teaching school and talking nonsense, Boolie assuring he was on his way.

Daisy looks unkempt and inquires where he’d left her school work, he denying there was any at all, she certain she put them in a particular spot after grading them. He tells her she’d lost her mind, she ignoring him to state how popular she was with her students for diligently returning their school work a day later after they’d handed them in. She becomes upset when convinced she had ruined everything, Hoke attempting to calm her and convince her she wasn’t a teacher any longer, how lucky she was for being looked after, and if she wanted to see misery, to visit the “state home”. She still doesn’t register the subject and so Hoke instead resorts to stating how Boolie would sic a doctor on her to admit her into a loony bin instead, if she wasn’t careful. She then sobers her tone and asks after the first car he’d bought which she’d previously owned, Hoke updating it would be in a junkyard by now, and she stating, then insisting he was her “best friend”, he convinced by her conviction.

Boolie is shown browsing around Daisy’s living room, he now 65. He pockets his mother’s address book as Hoke, 85 walks in, greeting Boolie. He asks how Hoke had come by, he stating his granddaughter had taken him, she 37 and teaching Biology at a local college. Boolie then inquires if Hoke wanted anything from the house before Goodwill came to clean it out, he already exhausting what he wished to keep from Daisy’s possessions. Hoke declines, Boolie then confessing how odd it was to put Daisy’s house on the market whilst she was still living, Hoke understanding, and Boolie rationalizing the decision, since she hadn’t been there for over a couple years. He then confides of Hoke’s weekly check indefinitely being sent to him, Hoke relating how he was grateful, and he attempting to see Daisy as much as he could without a bus going to the stop necessary, he resorting to cab it over when he could. Boolie acknowledges Daisy most likely was happy when he could come by, then states of they moving along to visit her now, since they both more than likely had plans later for turkey day, and should let his granddaughter know he’d give him a ride back.

Daisy, 97 is shown moving about with a walker, Boolie and Hoke arriving, the two greeting her, and Boolie helping her sit, the two including her in the conversation of what she’d been up to, but she not speaking, acknowledging them at first with a nod and then seeming distant. Boolie provides general chat until Daisy bursts out with Hoke having come to visit her and not him. Hoke notes she was having one of her better days, she then commanding Boolie to go flirt with the nurses, her son stating how she wanted Hoke to herself and she being “a doodle” before leaving. She snoozes lightly and then sees Hoke, asking if he was still getting paid by Boolie, he admitting this and still wouldn’t divulge the amount, the two agreeing they were living life as well as they could. When Hoke notices she’d left her turkey day pie and sees her struggling with the fork, he offers to accommodate, proceeding to cut easy bite-size pieces for her.

I didn’t expect how sweet the characters were with only my knowledge from the film (which was fine from my recollection), but this being quaint and engaging. Quite enjoyable story, and it’s so short it won’t take any time to read it, so if it’s a nice, lazy story one’s after, this’ll do.

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Kitchen

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The Narrator, Mikage begins with her most favorite spot being a kitchen, the size, kind, or location not an issue, preferably well used. Even if they’re spattered with food, which Mikage hopes happens to the larger kitchens she may visit, currently though, she leaning on a large fridge, viewing through a window the evening stars. Only she and the kitchen present whilst considering how she would be content with dying in a kitchen. She remembers when her grandmother died and couldn’t sleep, sleeping near the fridge easing her mind. Mikage’s parents died at a young age, she then living with her grandparents, when starting junior high, her grandfather died, and the previous day, her grandmother died, she shocked to learn she was now the last one in her family, after attending the funeral, moving her futon to the kitchen. When she realizes she must move, the list of apartment options overwhelms her, she buckling with the task, but as the days passed by, she is visited by a young man, Yuichi, as she’s glancing disinterestedly at the apartment list, and binding up old magazines with strings. Mikage thanks him for helping her at the funeral, they having attended the same university, and she taking bereavement leave.

Yuichi inquires after her apartment hunt and she informs him of its stagnation, Yuichi then inviting her to stay, he having discussed this with his mother, and giving her directions, setting a time she could visit later. Mikage accepts without thinking too much about it, he then leaving, she recalling Yuichi’s reaction of sadness at the funeral, she thinking he must’ve had a relationship with her grandmother she wasn’t aware of, but after he’d offered her his help there, he’d continued helping her. Then she remembers her grandmother talking of the boy, Tanabe, whom worked at the flower shop she frequented, Mikage sensing he was the solitary sort, since even after knowing him for a bit, he seemed stand-offish. It began raining as she walked to his house, their homes separated by a park, she walking through, and when seeing how high their floor was, considering how wonderful their view must be, she not thinking past their invitation. She’s greeted by Yuichi at their front door, and is hit with the size of the couch before seeing the large kitchen behind it, and loving it from the first viewing. Normally, when confronted with people she didn’t know well, in a different home, she felt isolated, but knowing how alone she already was, put a spin on the situation, giving her new perspective.

Mikage gets straight to the question of why she was there, Yuichi plainly stating how nice her grandmother had been to him and they having plenty of space to spare, the two interrupted by Yuichi’s mother, Eriko rushing in, Mikage captivated by her stunning features. Whilst getting through pleasantries, Eriko quickly changes to return to work at a nightclub, she mentioning how she expected Yuichi to convince her to stay over, Yuichi walked her out and suggests Mikage watch TV for a moment as he rushed out to speak with his mother, Mikage finally understanding what being enchanted was. When Yuichi returns, he inquires whether she’d felt timid around Eriko, she being honest and remarking on her exquisite features, Yuichi confides how she’d had surgery, and had been a man, Mikage at first thinking he was messing with her, but then listens to how his parents met when they were young, his mother’s family giving Eriko a home, he then running away to get married with his mother. After his mother died, Eriko decided to get the surgeries to become a woman and started the nightclub. So whilst she still didn’t know whether to trust him fully, she gave them a shot because she did have faith in their kitchen, the two’s “Buddha” smiles being nice, as well.

When they end their night, Yuichi shows her how the shower worked and gets her set up with blankets, pajamas and what not, she again making certain her staying was fine, he then leaving her to get settled. When she lays down, she’s quite content with the silence, view, plants, and kitchen so close, she going to sleep, content. When she’s greeted by Eriko in the morning, she forgets for a moment of her male genetics, but then offers to make breakfast when Eriko decides takeout would be easier, she leaving Mikage to work the kitchen. Eriko shows her healthy appetite and by afternoon, Mikage is reveling in the slow, calm atmosphere. Eriko then mentions how Yuichi had described her as looking like a dog they used to have (17 Again), Eriko insisting on seeing the resemblance and how amused she was by it the night they met, Mikage hoping the dog wasn’t a Saint Bernard. Eriko then explains how she understood why Yuichi was so attached to her was for this reason, and she regretting not being a better mother for recognizing his aloofness, but he turning into a good person; she recognizing the same of Mikage, relating how hard life could be, but wanting her to be comfortable. When Mikage offers to pay rent, Eriko instead request she make the soupy rice once in awhile, hers surpassing Yuichi’s.

Mikage then realizes upon review, how stressing living with the elderly could be, knowing they could die soon. She recalls how easy the relationship between she and her grandmother was and the times she may have mentioned Yuichi, but even during times Mikage was impaired by drink or love, she knew there was only one person left in her life, and while she was aware of having been loved, the loneliness of her life sobered her to how it was, so she didn’t take long to move in. She showed her appreciation with making food and tidying, still working her part-time job, the three of them working different hours so it feeling spacious, Mikage extremely grateful with how she’d gotten so lucky. When she’d gone to her old home for the remainder of her belongings, she already felt estranged, and as she cleaned the fridge, her house phone rang, she hearing her ex, whom was out of the picture when her grandmother got worse. He called to give condolences, having heard through classmates, they then making a time to see each other. Sotaro’s main interest is plants, he normally outside near parks and whatnot, but due to the winter season, they agree on a cafe near a park.

They have general chat until Sotaro brings up knowing she’d moved in with Yuichi, whom had been slapped by his now ex-girlfriend in school. As they walked through the park she was reminded why they weren’t good together, he not making her feel good about herself, but by nothing he outwardly said, only how he was, they then leave each other on good terms. As she’s watching TV later in the evening, Yuichi comes home with a word processor, Mikage noting Yuichi and his mother’s penchant for pricey electronics. When he questions her on when she would post her change-of-address forms and how she’d rather get it done when she moved for good, he reacts bluntly, but quickly lightens, Mikage again asking if her being there imposed on him, he acting oblivious. They get the forms ready to send out, she learning Yuichi wanted to help for despising spare time. As they continued, she asks about the issues her being there seemed to have for him, he finally catching on and as they worked, she sensed he was quite melancholy, she understanding the issue he’d had with his girlfriend, and if she stayed there, she’d only make his life more difficult, she also seeing how their intimate conversations could complicate her feelings toward him, so whilst making the new address forms, she attempted to convince herself of needing to move as soon as possible.

When Eriko comes in to drop off a newly bought juicer, she remembers a gift for Mikage upon seeing the address cards, Mikage overcome by the thoughtful banana glass (a nod to herself?). Mikage cleared out her stuff and finished cleaning the next day, she seeing the landlord and chatting amiably like she and her grandmother used to do. She was heading to her new home by nightfall and getting emotional about how she was truly done with her childhood home, but then getting cranky when riding a crowded bus, feeling better when seeing an airship. A grandmother and granddaughter sitting nearby, the girl seemingly in a bad mood is unphased when her grandmother points out the same airship to her. When the girl’s grandmother finally gets the girl to smile though, Mikage is overwhelmed by no longer getting to see her own grandmother, she rushing off the bus and crying violently, knowing it was because she hadn’t properly mourned, but she then noticing she had stopped at a kitchen, she immediately feeling better and continuing on her way. When she got back, she announced how tired she was to Yuichi and is almost fully asleep when he’d gone to the kitchen to make tea, she halfway aware of his commenting on how quickly she’d gone down. She dreamt about the kitchen in the old apartment, a floor color she once hated, now loving. She sees Yuichi cleaning the floor and she suggests they have a tea break.

They have an aimless chat, until Yuichi asks whether she was going to leave their apartment, and before she was able to answer, telling her not to, which confused her since he sounded like they’d already begun this topic. He explains how he’d considered carefully before inviting her, and believed being with them is what’s best for now, Mikage conveying her agreement and Yuichi returning to his task of cleaning the floor. They they begin singing together as they worked, Mikage believing she broke the dream-mode by requesting they stop in case her grandmother woke, he instead suggesting they go to a ramen noodle stand at the park when they were through. Mikage wakes up after this, it now two in the morning. Yuichi takes her by surprise whilst she’s in the kitchen pouring water for herself, he also having woken up and deciding to make ramen, Mikage offering to cook it for him and to sit on the couch. When she mentions in her dream he’d also wanted ramen, she notices his surprise, he then inquiring of the color of the kitchen floor, she confirming he was correct, and thanking him for mopping the floor, he then offering to get them both juice, Mikage letting the discussion about the dream lay, knowing they had plenty of time in the future to talk about the shared experience.

One night Eriko is watering the plants when she blurts how it isn’t simple being female, and learning one’s breaking points is healthy in truly having the ability to know happiness, she appreciating the hard times she’d gotten through. Mikage states how she believed she knew what Eriko meant, Eriko then complimenting Mikage’s grandmother for having been an extraordinary lady for having raised a truthful, good-hearted young woman, she loving Mikage for it and how she’d been fortunate. Mikage begins reading the magazine she had started before Eriko’s spontaneous chat, and also ponders how she’d have to move again at some point, she debating if she’d ever come back when she did or would only have her fond memories. She then decides to focus on ‘the now’ and enjoy them whilst she could, also considering how she planned on handling the tough times in the future. She then thinks about imagined and real kitchens she’d experience with many people or only one other, in every place she would live and knowing there would be plenty more.

Eriko was murdered by a crazed regular at her club after the man had seen her walking to work one night. Yuichi phones Mikage to let her know, waking her up and stating how Eriko had taken her murderer down with her, Mikage having difficulty allowing this to sink in due to grogginess. Another blow came when Yuichi confesses how long ago it had happened, he not able to let himself inform her before the funeral, begging her forgiveness. Mikage decides she’d rather have this talk in person and offers to come by (this being after she’d finished school and now worked in a cooking school as an assistant), she then remembering the last encounter she’d had with Eriko being at a store late one night, the two ending their passing with smiles. Mikage dashes through her apartment hurriedly to grab what she needed, finally getting her head together with the items she required and left. On her walk, she starts to get upset, her eyes blurring and making everything viewed in a pretty glaze. She was truly broken by the news though, life not seeming worth living, none of this showing . When she sees Yuichi, she’s quite happy since it’d been awhile, Yuichi surprised she wasn’t furious with him. Instead they sit on the couch drinking coffee, he at first asking about her job, she in the honeymoon phase, then relaying his state of mind being wildly out of sorts around the time of the funeral, he having her in his thoughts, but unable to confess for it becoming too real, regardless of Mikage and Eriko being so chummy.

Mikage handles his explanation by noting how they were a pair, having lost so many people already, she successfully lightening Yuichi’s mood and they proceeding with Eriko’s will, but Yuichi also giving her Eriko’s red sweater which one day she had guiltily admitted looked better on Mikage. She proceeds with reading the letter written to Yuichi by Eriko, she starting lightly, stating of the ridiculous possibility of her death by someone’s hand, but sensing the necessity, she glad Mikage had entered his life since Eriko was the last of Yuichi’s family, this before warning him to refrain communicating with his mother’s side. She then tells how she attempted writing as a man and failed, she then reminiscing about the good times throughout her life, Mikage living with them being one, then ending with what legal papers he would find and to phone the lawyer for further detail, everything but the club going to him. Mikage stayed up most of the night grieving, the two not getting up until after noon. Yuichi readies for school and inquires if Mikage planned on going home, she thoughtfully declaring she would wait until dinnertime, which lights the idea in Yuichi’s head she should make a fancy feast, she wholly into the idea and supplying a grocery list for him to retrieve for her, after he’d gone, she getting the empty-house feeling, prominent after a death.

Mikage treasured the six months she’d had with Eriko, she getting overcome with the empty feeling and sleepiness, but resisting for knowing nightmares would arise, she moving to the kitchen and upon inspection, cleans the place for not being used in awhile. As she made progress, the kitchen duties eased her mind, she realizing she had turned a corner. She remembers how the summer she was with Eriko and Yuichi had also been the one she’d learned to cook. She bought three books which covered all the necessary information to attempt the task. Yuichi and Eriko would tease her because of the flurry of excitement she’d display as she learned, she even finding how cooking made her feel when in negative moods. She realizes she had brought the family together due to how much she cooked, she looking back on those days fondly, then considering how the possibility of beginning the cooking process depended on if the heat was at the right temperature before cooking, believing this affected the taste and look of the dish, they certainly not looking like the pictures in her texts. Mikage then goes over how frustrated she had at first become upon failure of making a dish properly, but how she’d gotten through it, not changing her, but helping her discover her own process. The position of the celebrity cook she’d landed, she believed was acquired by the difference in temperament between herself and the other candidates, especially with only the three month study program (her three books) she’d given herself. The other women not living a life which would allow the same type of learning Mikage had gotten (those three months of heaven), enough to understand risks needed to be made for anything good to come from life.

All of Mikage’s cleaning had passed the day, Yuichi having her help him with two more bags of groceries in the car, he then seeing the moon looking nice, Mikage catching his attempt at changing the subject due to making her help him with bags having nothing to do with the dinner like he’d claimed. As they rode the elevator back up, Mikage came to the idea how Yuichi made her feel content, but unable to make sense of the emotion. Dinner took her two hours to finish, she mentioning how she wouldn’t be able to cope with Eriko’s death all at once, and noting how worn down Yuichi seemed, which is why neither brought up Eriko. After they had eaten all they could, Mikage saw an empty bottle of wine Yuichi must have drank by himself, he then conveying how it did help cause his putting off calling her about Eriko, being drunk for a month and his mind believing she’d hold his not confessing sooner against him. Yuichi then confides all the thoughts he’d built up about how he’d handled his mother’s death and not being brave enough to face Mikage, he then asking if she’d move back, she not knowing if he was too drunk to understand what he was saying, but stating of it on the table for debate. Yuichi brings down the mood with how he could end up becoming stuck in his gloom, she getting upset and deciding they should see how things would go. He passes out and Mikage cleans the dishes whilst she bawls over her isolation. When she is woken by the phone the next morning, she picks it up before remembering she wasn’t at home, the caller disconnecting after she says hello, she then going to work. After she learns she’d be let out early, she was also invited to a three-day research retreat for food, she immediately accepting, which answered her own question of whether she’d be staying with Yuichi. As she entered the prep area, she speaks with the two head assistants who couldn’t go to the three-day research retreat, due to golf lessons, the girls sweet, and Mikage pleased to work with them.

Then the three are visited by the defensive, know-it-all caller, a classmate of Yuichi whom is also in love with him, she attempting to demand Mikage leave him alone whilst also schooling her about how she’d gotten him in a rut, she mentioning how she’d comforted him after his mother had died, and before she could continue her selfish tirade, Mikage starts speaking about how the girl hadn’t even gotten her side of what happened, she feeling bad for the girl having wasted her time for a useless task. Once Mikage had said her peace, the girl left, the two assistants supporting Mikage’s side, she feeling worn down. When Yuichi returns home later, Mikage shares her news about work and planning on leaving to pack, but as he’d been driving her home, she craves some tea beforehand, and upon sitting, she mentions this being their first time out together. When he’d gotten her home, they discuss what he’d like for a souvenir, she burying her face in his arm when realizing how cold it was outside, then leaving and discovering her own jealousy, not knowing whom was “winning”. Mikage then relates a sad memory of Eriko when she was sharing a story about before she became a woman, his wife terribly ill and how he’d visit her before and after work every day. At one point, his wife asks for something alive to be with her in the hospital room, Eriko immediately out and buying a pineapple potted-plant, his wife extremely grateful. When she was about to get worse (Eriko not confessing to her the nature of her illness), she requests he take the plant home with him, his isolation shared with the pineapple, he also coming to his first realization of becoming a woman as he decided against hailing a taxi, after his wife’s death, planning on maintaining a bemused sunniness, he then transitions to become a lady. Mikage figures what she’d meant by sharing the story, she fighting her weaknesses as she tried to sleep.

The next morning Mikage gets a phone call from Chika, the head girl at Eriko’s club, whom now owned it by Eriko’s will. Chika was a transvestite, but quite pretty, he calling to speak with her about an important topic, mysteriously only giving the place they’d meet and hanging up. Upon meeting him at the noodle place, Mikage begins eating and then inquires what was so urgent, he usually exaggerating, but he talking about how Yuichi was acting oddly, usually so austere, but his emotions breaking through, he referring to Yuichi to an Inn since he’d not been sleeping well. Chika then confides his sense of they’re deep affection for each other and she should go after him, Mikage numbed with his deduction. He goes on to figure out what the hold up was besides Mikage’s trip, she relenting by deciding to give tracking him down some thought, Chika relaying how Yuichi’s state of mind needed changing what with his mother’s death affecting him in such a bad way. As Mikage walks Chika out, he breaking down loudly, he also gives her the information on the Inn. As he leaves, Mikage affected with his emotion, but still undecided about her next move, she end up doing nothing about it and begins her trip to Izu with Sensei, other staff, and a cameraman, Mikage reverting back to thinking this was best, the muddled feelings being too difficult to sort.

Later in the evening, Mikage goes to Sensei’s room to ask if she’d be allowed to go get a meal since the Inn served only veggies she didn’t like, she not minding, and once Mikage had gone out walking, she discovering she’d love to be on the road more often, but Yuichi having put too much of an impression on her. When reaching the first restaurant she still saw open with only one other patron, she goes in and gives her order. As she waits, she uses the phone sitting on the counter and dials Yuichi’s Inn, when he answers, he deduces how Mikage got the number, she asking about the food there, tofu being the answer, after they joking about not eating apart, together. Mikage asks about how long he’d stay, she not believing his reply of it not being long, the two hanging up soon after, Mikage’s sense of isolation returning, but once her katsudon was done and tasted, she abruptly deciding to order a second and both made to go, she remembering Sensei had mentioned this place and was disappointed they couldn’t hit it.

Mikage debated her next move, which is again made for her when a taxi pulls up, she getting him to agree to the longish fare, when they get there, the cabbie able to arrive in decent time, she then having to contemplate how she’d get into Yuichi’s room since no one at front desk was answering, it after midnight, and the lights in all the rooms being off, she then sensing which room it was and climbing to it, but getting stuck, and after a few moments, able to pull herself up, but sustaining an injury. Now bleeding and after take a rest, she knocks on the window, Yuichi answering after a minute, disbelieving he was seeing her at first, but once getting her inside, gives her tea whilst she insisted he eat the katsudon she’d gotten for him. Her original feeling of gloom permeated and dissipated with the memories they’d shared. Before leaving, she finally gets her thoughts out about wanting to be with him, but for him to think on it until he felt better, after the two joke about Yuichi wanting to exude masculinity when Mikage saw him, they part. Mikage is next awoken by footfalls outside her door, she viewing the snowstorm which moved in, and getting up when Sensei called. On their final day of the trip, they had a French menu, Mikage taking a walk on an unbearably cold day on the beach, only warmed by a can of coffee (I’ve had one before, heated with chemicals at the sealed bottom, not bad stuff), when returning and readying a hot shower and tea, Yuichi calls, she informing him of the foodstuffs she’d sent ahead, he declaring he’d be picking her up, and so giving him the information of when and where, contentedly.

This was a wonderful story, quite gripping and entertaining. The fact it didn’t really have chapters didn’t make it difficult to read due to the fascination the writing brought. I’m glad I decided to read this on a whim.

Moonlight Shadow

Hitoshi was given a bell which he carried with him on his case he used as a wallet, the Narrator giving this as a token of love, which he would keep close to him until the end (…of the story?). The two were in the same sophomore committee for a field trip, their time together brief since being in separate groups when arriving, they only spending time together on the train. When they’re about to join their groups, the Narrator, Satsuki (annoyingly not introduced until five pages later) gives Hitoshi a spur-of-the-moment gift of the bell left behind by her cat. She was impressed with his sensitivity in reacting to her present, all day the two thinking of the bell and their shared memory, upon returning, head-over-heels for each other. The bell had stayed with them for almost four years through all the poignant moments of their time together. Then Satsuki confesses to sensing Hitoshi’s fuzziness in reality to her, she considering if this thought was a bad omen of the future, it would be quite unfortunate.

Hitoshi was gone by the time Satsuki was twenty, she drastically changed by his death, feeling something terrible must now occur to her because of her instability. Her connection to him involved many major firsts in her life which they were able to learn together, but now she couldn’t stand living for not having Hitoshi. Satsuki takes up running for two months after Hitoshi’s death (Octopus Pie having a similar story when Hanna takes up running after splitting with Marek, more funny, but still sad), she getting terrible sleep with consistent dreams of Hitoshi. Her depression led to feeling nauseous and instead of becoming anxious for dawn to rise, she’d started jogging. During the day, she would distract herself with buddies, she awaiting the day she’d have her eureka moment. Even after Hitoshi’s death, Satsuki still enjoyed the river which he had lived on the other side of, they meeting on the bridge, frequently. She meditated how these times of rest helped her stay sane for the day.

The next morning she is woken with a nightmare, prepares to run, but finds when doing so, brought difficulty in breathing, deciding to push through it. When reaching the bridge and pouring some tea for herself, she’s snuck up on by a lady asking for a cup (presumptuous), Satsuki dropping her thermos over the ledge, the lady seeming friendly and light-spirited, so once taking a sip herself, offers the woman the rest, she offering to replace the thermos. The woman then states how she’d arrived recently from a fairly distant place to view a sight only seen once a century, she then inquiring if Satsuki knew of this, but when being told she hadn’t, agrees to share what the phenomenon was in some time. Satsuki doesn’t wait though, she realizing she needed to be heading back, then Urara introduces herself, she stating of hopefully seeing her again.

Satsuki thinks how strange Urara was, and when taking a second look at her, sees an expression which changed her features, but smiles and waves again when looking away from the river and sees her staring. She wonders about the type of person she could be as she continues on, then Hiiragi, Hitoshi’s brother is mentioned to stepping to the beat of his own drummer, his eighteenth birthday “this month”. When Satsuki meets him after his class, he was in full sailor girl uniform, Satsuki horrified, but able to act natural for his nonchalance. As they order tea, Satsuki notices a movement Hiiragi did, which reminded her of Hitoshi, the two now having a system of making light of it so as to throw away the sadness they felt. Then it’s elaborated on Hiiragi losing his girlfriend, Yumiko the same night Hitoshi had given her a ride to the train station, whilst Hitoshi not being at fault, both of their lives having been taken.

Hiiragi makes chit chat about her running, then suggests they go to a new spot with delicious tempura on rice, after how the running didn’t seem to help her getting chunky. Satsuki knew she’d been actually losing weight, but plays along, agreeing and then explains how the outfit was Yumiko’s, his late girlfriend, her parents attempting to have him stop, but he having a good laugh over it, Satsuki having asked about it and he explaining it made him hurt less. Satsuki realizes then they had a new expression for their faces which conveyed the attempt to bury the thought of their partners. Then Satsuki states of having to let her parents know she wasn’t coming home for dinner, Hiiragi planning on ordering out for delivery for his mother, she saying how nice the gesture was. When Satsuki had first been informed by Hitoshi of his younger brother, he’d specified how his weirdness made him worry whether it could affect Satsuki still liking him, also mentioning how adult-like he acted except around his family, but Hitoshi also stating it was most likely okay since Hiiragi enjoyed meeting “‘good people'”.

Then back to real time, they about to walk to the place across the river, Satsuki remembering she hadn’t seen Urara since the first morning they met, she getting another hit of pain when Hiiragi thought she’d hesitated and offering to drive her back, his kindness dripping of Hitoshi. Then Satsuki shares of meeting strange Urara, recalling the expression on her face seeming demonic and Satsuki thinking it was because she thought she shouldn’t have human feelings, then comparing how minor her melancholy seemed, wondering if she was in store for worse pain. As they neared the restaurant, they ended up having to go through the cross streets where Hitoshi and Yumiko had their accident, Satsuki and Hiiragi becoming solemn and trying to stay upbeat, she discovering how cells could get the feeling of people from the past, not comprehending the idea before, like when tour guides in castles would offer this possibility. She then begins to consider Hitoshi’s last thoughts and emotions, as well as how it would’ve looked at night and whether this night looked similarly. She noted how beautiful the moon was as Hiiragi nudged her to cross the street. They were eating when Satsuki regained a luster for life caused by the meal, she complimenting it so hard, the employee was embarrassed.

One afternoon, Satsuki had gotten sick, too ill to run, she realizing the phone was ringing and having to pick up for no one else at the house. She’s surprised to learn Urara was calling to see if she could meet up, Satsuki agreeing, but also asking how she’d discovered her number, Urara good-naturedly relating how she wanted it, so it came (synchronicity), Satsuki accepting this due to how she explained it. Urara then informs Satsuki to join her at a department store in the thermos area, Satsuki knowing she shouldn’t leave for her cold, but too intrigued, following her gut. Making sure to dress warmly, Satsuki rides her bicycle, noticing the weather promising spring, everyone outside seeming to go about their business pleasantly, whilst Satsuki remained insouciant, wanting her heart to finish the job of breaking already. When she sees Urara, she notes how she looked closer in age to herself this time, when Urara sees Satsuki, she notices immediately she was sick and getting straight down to showing the different sorts of thermoses available to choose from, she feeling much better for Urara’s exuberance.

After Satsuki detected one, they have tea, she then giving Satsuki a variety of tea to break in the new thermos with since a shop owner closing his shop gave away a bunch to her, Satsuki again grateful. She then asks once more about how Urara had come by her number, she divulging more information about how she’d become proficient in sensing them, allowing her finger to choose without thinking, Satsuki wanting to trust this since she felt like she’d known Urara a long time ago, and her nature made one susceptible to accepting her far-fetched explanations. Satsuki describes her gratitude in a strange way, she being as euphoric as a “lover”, Urara not missing a beat and advising Satsuki feel better by the day after next, Satsuki deducing the phenomenon must be the reason, which Urara admits, also relaying the hour to be at the bridge, she asking about what it could be and Urara finally confiding how if all progressed accordingly, Satsuki may see a kind of supernatural sight, she sensing Satsuki had a deep bond with the river making it more possible she’d succeed in seeing it, whatever it was being unique. Satsuki dazedly finalizes the meeting, she then flashing back to Hitoshi and her last time at the bridge being a fine one, he getting ready for a boys night, Satsuki a healthy amount plumper and much more content. When they say their goodnight’s, Satsuki hears the bell as he walks off. She then confesses how terrible their fights could be, the two also having affairs with others, they both wounding the other countless times, but overall their time together being happy.

Satsuki used to dream how she’d stop him from leaving, the memory consistently having the affect of upsetting her and bottling her pain in public hurting more. As Urara and she split later, she was wishing this something did happen, but also soothing herself with the thought of still being pleased by the both of them being at the river, regardless of the outcome. As she’s about to reach her bicycle, she spots Hiiragi, in normal-wear, she thinking he was playing hooky and instead of calling to him for weakness, walks in his direction, but he going off, fortunately in the direction she needed, unfortunately at a speed she couldn’t equal. Hiiragi soon stops in front of a tennis shop though, Yumiko having played, he blankly staring within, Satsuki not making herself known, she deciding she wouldn’t go up to him, seeing the look of a bird searching for its mother on his face, it being adorable, but also feeling down about how his presence soothed her because of reminding her of Hitoshi. When she had first met Yumiko, she couldn’t imagine the hold she had on Hiiragi, she seeming average in most ways, but for whatever reason, she complimenting him in her way. Hitoshi relays to her it was because of her tennis abilities, they watching a finals game, where the two realized Hiiragi was right, and her friendship to the girl budding, which made the events later even more terrible to think on. Satsuki leaves Hiiragi without saying hello and decides to not mention ever having seen him, her illness getting worse. She awakens from a dream again, still sick and debating her run, wanting dawn to break, instead making tea, returning to her room, and looking out her window to see Urara, whom mimes permission to pass their front gate, she nodding. Urara then explains being on her way home from work, noting how terrible Satsuki looked and offering a vitamin C candy and some comforting advice, afterwards closing her window for her, she feeling better enough to catch a few more z’s.

Satsuki gets much more rest, she awaking early in the evening, questioning whether she’d actually spoken with Urara, also wondering if more horrible nights were in her future, she then surprised by a visit from Hiiragi, whom had called, learned of the sickness from her mother and dropping by to see how she was feeling. He then shows her his get well gift of KFC, enough for them both so it being time to dig in. During this, Hiiragi opens up with letting her know of how concerned he’d been for her and to call him if she felt too alone, glad and surprised he’d said anything. Later, she sleeps better than she had been in a long time, the aid of medicine helping, she next waking at the right hour to prepare her meet up with Urara. She still goes for a run, and Urara is waiting for her at the designated spot, she greeting her warmly and warning her what to do as the time neared, she mentioning of their dimension about to change, and not to move or say anything when they viewed whatever they would see across the river. As the sky lightened, first Satsuki hears a bell, then notices Urara had disappeared, when looking back at the river, she sees Hitoshi at the other shore, breaking down, but not saying a word, he waving to her as his image faded with dawn, she again seeing Urara and telling her how worth the experience had been.

When Urara shares of the Weaver Festival Phenomenon whilst they drank tea in a shop, she explains how the vision was produced, she also having lost a significant other, she then mentioning of seeing Satsuki the first night and deciding to extend the invitation. Satsuki then wonders what plans Urara had next for herself, whom she’d seen, as well as still curious about the sort of person she truly was, unable to say anything to her. Urara states how the moment having allowed them to have a second chance with goodbye’s should ease their minds, Satsuki still in much agony over the memory, she finally inquiring after Urara’s next destination and she giving the vague answer of seeing each other again, as well as knowing Satsuki’s number, they parting, and she considering what Urara had done for her. Satsuki is next waiting at Hiiragi’s school to deliver his birthday present of a record to him, when he dashes out claiming to have seen Yumiko, he not wearing her uniform. He shares how one night he’d been woken up seeing Yumiko walk through his door (after opening it, of course) and taking the sailor suit, she then mouthing, “‘Bye-bye'”, waving, and he going back to sleep, the next morning unable to locate the outfit. When questioning his own sanity lightly, Satsuki suggests he start running when getting those emotions, he cracking up. Then from Hitoshi’s perspective, he states of having to be on the move, then giving an idea of Urara being a part of him and grateful of Satsuki waving goodbye to him.

This was an interesting and odd one, as well, but there’s something about Kitchen where the characters hold one’s attention more, connecting with Mikage, and the goodness of Eriko. Overall worth it, quite an easy read on top of everything, too.

Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines

This story was inspired by Little Nemo in Slumberland, the comic. We begin with Ahmed who falls off of his camel and loses the caravan he was following and notices a bird, wondering where it was going and if he or his father would fly one day, his father replying it would be another year; In this sense the story is already strange, this conversation with his father occurring before he’d fallen and been left behind, asleep and getting covered by sand until morning, when he realizes he’s now alone and thinking of what he could have done wrong to be living with such a dire fate he expects will come from his current situation. Ahmed soon uncovers a figure under the sand and prays for direction and hope his life won’t end so young, not getting and answer until he wept upon the face. Ahmed doesn’t notice the first movements of the god though, until he speaks, surprising Ahmed, the two then introducing themselves and we learning the god is named Gonn-Ben-Allah. Gonn requests Ahmed to finish digging him up, stating he shouldn’t fear death any longer if he finishes releasing him. Soon Ahmed is seeing darkness surround them, asking Gonn what it was and getting the answer of it being the “Enemy” as the other half was the “Savior”.

We then learn what the enemy is, Gonn needing Ahmed’s help as strength to the cause. Soon Gonn is making it so Ahmed’s wish of flight will come true, speaking the words which would give Ahmed the gift of flight and upon getting his first taste of this, he then learns Gonn had the plan of needing to go to a place called Yestermorrow. Ahmed soon discovers what Gonn had in mind for him to see, which would be a place both in the past and future. When Ahmed soon believes he sees his father, it becomes a bad omen to Ahmed and brings both he and Gonn, falling to the sand. Gonn disappears beneath the sand and Ahmed tries to dig him out and only being able to again uncover him when he lets the thought of his father go, then being told he must dance and sing upon Gonn’s “grave”. When Ahmed had done enough, Gonn was able to burst out and take them both back into the air; This is reminding me a little of the Peter Pan way of thought, one needing to let go of their family: the past, in order to live freely for themselves in the future. With Ahmed properly letting go, he then sees the scenery has changed and creatures he hadn’t seen before soaring off of cliffs. The two then see recognizable characters from Greek mythology, a boy and his father and a set of golden wings about to be tried out and teaching Ahmed the value of trying everything worth experiencing, at least in Gonn’s words.

As Gonn explains his reasoning for this, they are distracted by an airship made of such delicate materials it’s blown away by Ahmed’s sneeze, they then seeing a hot-air balloon, one of the balloon’s not staying in the air for long, again giving Gonn the opportunity to remind Ahmed not to refuse any sight for they all will teach a lesson. Then they see another man trying to feel the gift of flight by attaching himself to a home-made kite, which takes him up in the air, only not for long; This part reminds me of a short story in The Flying Machine which is from the Emperor’s perspective, since the man on the kite is shot down by arrows with an Emperor’s sign on the darts. This gets no response from Ahmed this time and he then confides in Gonn of how he wishes he could see his father, the god then advising him he must be patient to help give him life, since he was more like a dream in this current state and Ahmed could help him become “real”. Gonn then shows Ahmed tall buildings which men would build so high as to touch the sky and saw men who wished to fly so badly as to fling themselves off buildings with carpets under them and shouting words of flight which didn’t help their cause. Ahmed then sees the sky fill with machines Gonn dictating what words Ahmed must say to insure their forever existing. Ahmed continues to be coached by Gonn to get those asleep in bed to see the grand sight of all the machines in the air, this being the moment Gonn is horror-stricken with the idea he was going to fall out of the sky.

Ahmed soon understands why Gonn has thought this, it having to do with the sleepers who won’t awaken or won’t believe the sight to be seen, the gluttons and lazy people who will only sleep. Gonn soon is noticeably thinning to which Ahmed then decides he’ll be the one to save him, being the only one awake and powerful enough, he “proving” this by informing Gonn so and he taking his former girth. Ahmed then shares how he wished to learn more from Gonn about how he can make those who don’t, hear what he would shout to them, in essence, to be able to fly higher, faster, and longer. Gonn then confirms Ahmed had learned enough to take over where he’d left off and to return them to where he’d found him so he could cry happy tears to let him move on. Gonn confessing how he’d left his thumbprint on Ahmed when he was born and going into deeper symbology as he explains. Before Gonn goes back the way he’d come he makes an agreement with Ahmed for when he can return to see him once more, then Ahmed cries to allow Gonn back into the sand. Gonn helps Ahmed remember how to fly once more from within the sand and Ahmed then sees the caravan, his father the only one awake and mourning Ahmed, who bumps into him and praises Allah he was found. When Ahmed is about to go to sleep he makes certain Gonn is still with him who wished to be called by another name, then giving Ahmed a dream of his future.

This story was an odd, but entertaining, definitely a learning tool for children still wondering why certain days are tough and how to get through hurt feelings. Worth the read.

The Hours

I saw the movie awhile back so the story should be read with fresh eyes. I’ll be curious to see if, as the story goes, I’ll recognize any moments. We begin with a woman walking off to a river, loading herself down with stones, a fisherman within visual distance, but not being noticed as she walks into the water, stumbling and being dragged the rest of the way in, she having terrible migraines and voices only distantly within her hearing. We jump to her husband’s perspective, getting news from the maid being of which his wife having gone out for a walk and would return shortly, he then going upstairs to watch the news and locating a letter addressed to him, his wife remarking of her soon-to-be bad times again and not wanting to put him through the trouble. He rushes back downstairs to ask the maid which way she’d gone, heading in the right direction but seeing no one but a fisherman. We then go back to Virginia’s perspective, she floating along briskly, but not far, getting stuck near a bridge, still underwater but feeling the resonance of a little boy and his mother, he throwing down a stick into the water and soldiers waving to him as they pass on a truck.

We’re then introduced to Clarissa who needs to pick up flowers, leaving to return hopefully within a half hour. She’s in New York and content with her errand for a party she will be throwing. We then learn Clarissa is in her early fifties and feeling as young as her eighteen-year-old self. As she’s walking down the street, Richard comes up to her and calls hello to her, referring to her as Mrs. Dalloway for their similarities in fate, apparently (and current tasks). Richard (who shares a name with the Clarissa of Mrs. Dalloways’ husband) is dealing with AIDS and speaking his mind of what he thought of the day in opposition of Clarissa’s view. The narration of the story also somewhat mirrors Mrs. Dalloway, shown with description of what Clarissa thinks of certain objects and people she sees on the street, her plans, and the attempt at flowing other characters thoughts as she passes (which doesn’t have the same smoothness of Woolf).

When Clarissa is walking through the park and meets another friend, we discern she, like “M.D.” Clarissa, also has a daughter, her daughter begrudging her for her conventionalism. Clarissa invites Walter, her friend to the party in the evening if he and his partner will be up to it and also states the reason for her party and how Richard had won an award. We are then told Walter’s invite could possibly upset Richard and their friend Sally, in support of him because of Walter’s profession and possibly due to his personality when it came to his shallowness. When he leaves, we determine Sally and Clarissa live together (seeming to give the Clarissa of “M.D.” a future she could live rather than possibly fantasize about); I’m also recognizing how Cunningham has long run on paragraphs like Woolf, but because his flow differs, it gives me the feeling like I must struggle to get through it rather than flow with it, regrettably.

We then identify Richard not liking Sally because of her personality and he and Clarissa used to having fantastic arguments, but because of his illness this side of their relationship had taken a backseat. Clarissa then goes to a book shop to look for a gift for another friend and also thought of buying a dress for Julia she wouldn’t likely wear. She continues with a memory from her childhood which gives her a feeling she hoped to discover one of the books could embody for the both of them and then thinks of Mary Krull who seemed to have a hold on her daughter (similar to Elizabeth and Doris Kilman). Clarissa then goes to the flower shop and has another childhood memory before greeting the florist, Mary Krull warmly, after which we get some background on Mary and then Clarissa begins choosing flowers leftover from Mary’s busy week of supplying for weddings and whatnot until they hear a crash from the street (straight out of Mrs. Dalloway). They figure the noise came from the “movie people” who have set up camp in the area and then Clarissa sees a woman come out of a trailer she can’t identify, but knows must be a famous star. We get Clarissa’s interpretation of what goes on between the woman and one of the crew before she withdraws once more into her trailer.

We next get Virginia Woolf’s perspective, starting with how she thought Clarissa’s story should begin and then dreaming of being in a vibrantly green park and awaking with the feeling left by the dream, but forgetting the line she wanted to add to her story, not bothered since she was aware of the feeling it gave still. As she washes her face in the bathroom we are given the same quirk Septimus had, but is now showing in Virginia’s personality, which was her avoidance of looking in the mirror for fear of what it would show. When she then gets coffee and heads for the printing room where she discovers Leonard looking over page proofs and greeting Virginia, asking how she’d slept, and she answering with insouciance. We then learn of Leonard’s cheerleader status of Virginia’s work and how he considered her the most intellectual and surprisingly talented woman in England, he attempting to insist breakfast on her, but she maintaining coffee will be enough, he relenting, but making certain she takes a proper lunch, she consenting for wanting to get straight to work, which she does by retiring upstairs to begin. She’s quite self-aware of how she will feel and if she will be able to get into the right state for a fruitful session of writing, we seeing she was beginning her foray into Mrs. Dalloway.

We then continue in California, 1949 and follow a Mrs. Laura Brown who was reading, but shouldn’t have been for whose birthday it was, feeling she should be preparing breakfast for Dan and Richie, but hearing Dan already downstairs with Richie and thinking she should be, as well. She had started her day late, though (7 am) and was consumed by a dream she’d been having and was aware the day wouldn’t be an easy one for it. We then learn she’s given allowances for her lapses in judgement due to being pregnant. She decides she’ll make up for missing breakfast by baking the “perfect” cake and other tasks. She goes on reading to calm herself and we get an excerpt from Mrs. Dalloway, she then expressing how she would spend her whole life reading if she could. We then discover Dan was in a situation where his identity had been mistaken for someone with a similar name and was believed dead for a couple days, but came back unchanged, fortunately from his military service. We then distinguish how the two had known each other and she seeming similar to Clarissa’s daughter, Elizabeth with her foreign-seeming features in comparison with her relatives. We then continue reading with Laura as she reads Virginia Woolf’s novella, Laura wondering how Virginia came to kill herself when she could write such beautiful sentences, she planning on reading all of Woolf’s novels.

Laura hopes she had some touch of brilliance which people noticed, having fantasies about what others would be impressed with, she leaving this thought and readying to go downstairs, feeling unprepared like she was about to go onstage without proper rehearsing. As she pauses before entering the kitchen, we get a feel for her peccadillo about her husband and reaffirming how she’d contribute to her husband’s birthday. He notices how she seemed annoyed at he not waking her, but they both discussing gently in front of their three-year-old of he not wanting to disturb her only because he naturally woke up at dawn, albeit regardless of she wanting to be able to make his breakfast for him. He then promises to do so the next morning and then begins the rituals of getting ready to go off to work, Laura not as sure of herself when being left alone with her son, straining to keep a steady hold on how to unceasingly act a mother’s part. She decides to continue their day by getting him to finish his breakfast, whilst she contemplated whether her reading so late in the night could affect the baby, having an irrational fear of being told she shouldn’t read, deciding she’ll make an effort to go to bed earlier, cutting her reading back. She then shares with Richie their main plan for the day, she deciding she will do all the necessary tasks a mother and wife should.

Clarissa is then shown walking toward the trailer where she saw a crowd of tourists congregating, she with her bouquet of flowers and overhearing two girls argue whether the woman within was Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep (an interesting choice, now I think of it), Clarissa believing it to be the latter. She uncomfortably awaits the star’s reappearance, but gives up to continue on to Richard’s apartment. When she gets closer to his street she begins to remember way back when on a certain corner where the two had argued over something, she not quite remembering, then reminiscing about the stores, some still from the era referenced being there, but selling items only tourists would be interested in. When she goes into the lobby of Richard’s building, she rates and is repeatedly surprised by the seedy look of it, thinking about how differently the building must have begun. She tries the elevator only to get back out on the ground floor for it not seeming to work properly, climbing the five flights to Richard’s floor, he calling for her to enter and she debating whether or not to bring up the nickname she didn’t feel necessary to continue using, then thinking it wasn’t the right time.

When Clarissa gets in and greets him, opening a blind for more light since his lamps all had low wattage bulbs, she then regards his trashed chair which he refused to get rid of, smelling the rot of it and asking how he felt since he didn’t sleep much those days due to medication induced hallucinations. We then learn a bit more about Richard’s views of life and the people around him, seeing them in a very precise light, Clarissa then making sure he remembers the party and ceremony later, he so fogged he thought it already happened, Clarissa then promising to stay by him the whole night. Richard then voices his embarrassment for what he thinks is a wrongful win of the award he’d be receiving and Clarissa continuing to reassure him, she suggesting he nap before she came back to help him dress, he giving in and she thinking of how their lives would have been if they’d gone a different course than the one they’d lived.

Mrs. Woolf is swallowed by time for two hours and was feeling powerful about what she’d accomplished, also knowing she may not like any of what she’s written by the next day. She reads over what she has, believing it to be acceptable, some parts more-so. She had the hope this would be her finest novel, considering how her main character, Clarissa would die. She then noticing she’d like to write all day, but something stopping her which makes her think she shouldn’t overdo it since it could ruin her progress. She also didn’t like doing anything but write when she could, due to the fear of a “headache” getting in the way. She goes into how all encompassing it is which warrants a better word than “headache” to describe it, but for fear of sounding melodramatic calling it only by this. We learn when the voices are heard during the pain threshold and how once she’s finished with an episode and had rest, she’s ready to continue to write, believing the pain a requirement, but hasn’t made the descent in years, also knowing how swiftly they could return and wanting to be in London if she must return to madness. She then wonders whether to continue writing or break, perpetually being torn by the possibility of being lazy, but she’s reached her goal for the day and considers she should be patient, she having tomorrow to write more.

Virginia walks out of the room and is greeted by Ralph, who was working with Leonard reading proofs and despite the greeting, he not having a good morning. We discover Virginia’s stance to Leonard’s assistants at the printing press and invariably stayed loyal to Leonard regardless of his unfair attitude toward his employees. Virginia indicates needing a walk before helping the two with their project. We then learn of Ralph and Leonard’s traits when it came to their work. Virginia’s next statement taken wrongly by Ralph when it seemed she was coming to his support, she actually boosting Leonard’s spirits, but not correcting his goofy relief.

Meanwhile, Laura Brown is preparing ingredients for the cake whilst admiring a bird passing the window. She then includes Richie in the process, overly proud with his response to her question regarding the number of cups of flour they needed for the cake. Laura is content with her life and family at this moment, making the cake she’ll soon bake feeling on par with those in magazines and other grand contentment which comes from being satisfied with one’s place in the world. She then has Richie play a part in the process of measuring out the flour and depositing it into an empty bowl, the task being performed concisely and uncertainly, but Laura giving him verbal support he’s completing the task successfully. For a moment Laura gives the impression of something going wrong which puts poor Richie on the verge of tears, but she quickly reverses her statement to reassure he’s done his part correctly and asking if he’s ready to repeat the process, he relieved and wanting to try again.  Laura then regains her enduring love for her son and realizes she will want this second child and is glad she’s married (all of this sounding like she’s kidding herself since her life sounds bloody idyllic, the dope. I hope for her sake I’m reading her positive reinforcements for herself incorrectly).

Mrs. Woolf is then shown walking down the street thinking of the details of Clarissa Dalloway’s suicide. She maps out her first love in her youth and her growth into womanhood making her see she shall marry, then considering how to make her inevitable suicide properly heart-rending. She continues her focus on Clarissa’s friend from childhood, deciding to leave the specific details of her death to be worked out more fully, later. As she walks, an old woman brings to her attention she must be speaking aloud to herself again and is prepared to defend herself if necessary upon the old woman passing her, but not getting further reaction she continues her walk. Virginia thinks of her own sister, whom mirrors a habit she’s given to one of her characters and then considers how much she misses London and the reason they had moved to the dull town being for her health, but all the while, wanting to “return to the dangers of city life…”.

Before reentering her home, she readies herself to remember herself properly, not only for her hubby and maids, but mainly for reacclimating herself to her own principles. She then considers the differences between herself and male writers, they seeming to have a particular viewpoint of literature compared to herself and moving her thoughts again back to what will eventually topple Clarissa over the edge. Virginia makes her way down to the kitchen after hanging her coat, in the character she believed “Virginia Woolf” would and learns from the cook what they will be having for lunch, she having the option to request whatever she wishes, but doesn’t, approving of the menu even though she didn’t care for most of what was listed, Virginia mentioning since her sister would be joining them she wanted a specific side with their tea later, the item requested needing to be gotten from London. Nelly, the cook seems to think it may be too late in the morning to go to London if lunch were to be ready on time at four, but Virginia explains the time frame and imagines Nelly is passive-aggressively responding to her. Virginia then relates how Clarissa won’t have these social issues with her servants and their want to go above and beyond her wishes will be affirmed.

Clarissa is then shown meeting Sally at the door of their apartment, the latter sharing of she having a lunch appointment with a “movie star” and had tidied before being off. Clarissa not previously knowing of her meeting, but not holding it against her and wishing her a nice time before the two part. All the while, Clarissa is thinking of how Sally doesn’t look good in yellow and will disclose this to her later. After Clarissa goes inside, she thinks of her ruined plans of she and Richard growing old together and then of how lucky she and Sally were with the apartment they inhabited in New York. She then senses how whilst looking around, she didn’t feel as if her home was hers in this moment. She comes to understand if she were to leave all these bric-a-brac behind, she wouldn’t miss them, nor Sally or Richard, but be able to be comfortable with herself, alone (I can relate).

Clarissa doesn’t seem to necessarily feel repressed, but there is a sense of being content in her apartment by herself, at this moment and then the feeling leaves and she throws away some old flowers and thinks of the plans ahead of her and her contentment in the rituals of her life with her partner. She listens to messages from the caterer they’ve hired, a friend needing to go see a friend who is also ill, and a request from a guest if they could bring a plus-one. Clarissa then thinks of the possibility Sally hadn’t specified her lunch was due to she not being invited (also what happens to Clarissa Dalloway), even though she’s met Oliver and had a personal conversation with him, but she believed her lack of invite was because she may be thought of as only a housewife which didn’t bother her as much as thinking her popularity in the art world and her career were waning; Also realizing Oliver most likely hadn’t passed over inviting her on purpose, but only because he hadn’t thought to extend the invitation.

Clarissa then is aware of the nearby sounds outside as she does some busy work in her apartment. She having a flashback of a time when she was eighteen and believing everything was at her fingertips, but it falling mainly on the house she and her roommates shared (one of them being Richard) and how this had influenced her move to New York. Meanwhile she’s still endeavoring to convince herself she doesn’t care Oliver hadn’t invited her to lunch, then thinking back to her experimental college years with Richard and his boyfriend, Louis. She then considered what her life would have been if she’d returned Richard’s kiss on a significant night, but then realizes to stray too far from one’s principles for love would not be a stable and responsible course of action. Clarissa then shares her memory of the night Richard and she had kissed, along with how they’d spent their time after this day and considering why she’d think back nostalgically to those times was because she was more optimistic and happy then, and the kiss was the only memory which mattered.

Laura Brown is now realizing her cake is well below the standards she’d expected. Nothing was actually wrong with it, but she thought it would be larger and more pretty, the one she looked at seeming unprofessional. At the same time she also tried to ease her own mind, knowing she was being too hard on herself and instead focused on the chores she would be attending to later. She then considers Dan’s responses to the gifts she’ll be giving him and how he consistently showed thankfulness but not ever seeming to truly want something, unfailingly content with what he already had. Laura begins thinking of her comfortable life and pleasant husband, deciding if there was something missing in her life and what it would be. Kitty then knocks at the door and Laura is torn between answering and feeling too frumpy and wanting to wait until she left, but then Richie rushes in and, like an excitable dog shouting about the visitor at the door with happiness and nervousness, she decides.

Laura opens the door and invites Kitty in for coffee after she inquires if Laura would be able to do a favor for her, she seeing Laura’s cake, noticing she continually glancing at it and stating how she thought it was “cute”, completely tearing down Laura’s idea she was indifferent to how crap it looked, the review making her feel her attempt was childish (she must having forgotten, she was making the “monstrosity” with a child; sounds like Laura is riddled with hormones). They make idle conversation and we get background as to how Laura knew Kitty, she treasuring their neighborly friendship, but knowing they wouldn’t have been friends in high school. We then learn about Kitty’s husband and his civil service as well as Laura’s husband in comparison, understanding more as to why Laura had married him, after which, the two making idle chitchat.

Kitty then gets down to why she’s come by, which gives some insight to Laura’s curiosity about why she hadn’t started a family with her husband yet. Laura then began seeing Kitty as someone to be revered and to look up to for her bravery, having customarily blamed Ray as being the issue to her barrenness. Laura then shows her empathy for Kitty’s situation by instigating a hug and then considering how men must feel when comforting women. Kitty then shares of she being fine, but is more worried about her sensitive husband, Laura advising her to let go of this train of thought for the moment. The two then share an intimate moment which Kitty ends first, Laura internally taking the blame and seeing Richie watching. Kitty then confirms the task needing looking after before leaving, Laura stating she’d call her in the hospital. After, noticing her son’s multi-emotional look and wanting to return to bed and book, instead leading Richie to the living room to entertain himself whilst she dealt with making a cake she can be proud of, dumping the last, and planning carefully to avoid another “failure”.

As Virginia helps Leonard and Ralph, Lottie informs them of Mrs. Vanessa Bell having returned with her children, Virginia not expecting them for two more hours. Meanwhile Marjorie is wrapping books up in twine and speaks of wanting to have finished by this time, Virginia hiding her reaction to Marjorie’s voice. Leonard announces of being unable to stop his work at the moment and will meet them at the designated hour if Vanessa waits. Virginia states she’ll handle Vanessa, aware of how unkempt she looked and would have been more prepared if Vanessa had come at the proper time. Virginia resists looking in the mirror, knowing Vanessa would let her know. Virginia greets her warmly and we are described of Vanessa’s features and differences to Virginia, whom is three years younger, but doesn’t look it. Vanessa states how they’d finished earlier than expected in London and had decided to journey to Virginia’s for lack of activities, her sons and daughter in the garden moving a dying bird from the road. As they walk to the children and talk, Virginia notes how Vanessa has the proper air of how one would react to servants and sisters, firm but forgiving.

When they reach Vanessa’s offspring, they begin speaking of how they must save it and Virginia struggling to relate to them, but Vanessa habitually being honest and unyielding when need be, letting them know they wouldn’t be taking the bird indoors and it most likely going to die regardless of their efforts. Vanessa’s daughter thinks of the “brighter” side by spouting the idea of having a funeral for the bird and will sing, Julian reminding her of it still being alive and attending to making a bed for it. Virginia estimates the children’s looks and how they may change when grown, she then offering to pick flowers with Angelica as well as the grass she was collecting. Angelica then was adamant she would locate the nest in case the dying bird had eggs to care for, her brothers getting amused by her belief she would be able to hatch them.

Virginia was suggesting they place the bird in the pallet made, but Angelica insisted they lay the roses in first which Virginia would argue with if her sister and nephews weren’t present. Angelica arranges the flowers, nicely to Virginia’s surprise and then they are ready to have the bird placed in the middle, Quentin undertaking the task as Virginia remembers when Julian had no longer seemed like a child and Angelica getting bored with her game now she’s designed the deathbed. Virginia realizes the bird had died on it’s wait to be placed on its final resting place and the group moves indoors for early tea. As she watches her sister and nephew walk inside, she contemplates wanting to change places with the bird so she could lay in the bed of roses and how the nest looked like it could be a hat, then considering Clarissa’s role as no longer being thought of as the bride of death, but the bed.

We then see Clarissa organizing a vase of flowers and confirming to herself of striving to give the best party she could to Richard and looking out for his comfort at the party. She then hears her apartment buzzer go off and goes to investigate who could be ringing, discovering it was Louis and letting him up. She delightedly awaits he showing up at the door, hoping he brings good news and had named the particular feeling he gave her after him whilst she waited. When he turns up, they greet warmly and he gets emotional as he shares when he had arrived in town and Clarissa updating him as to his good timing for Richard’s upcoming party. As she invites him inside, Louis is noticing how she had finally reached the stage of no longer having retained her youthful look and how it was like a small victory for him considering all the time she had gotten with Richard and how he’d written a novel focusing on a character based on Clarissa, but representing her of only complaining about love, regardless of all the years Richard and he had spent together, seeming a bit bitter about the reference he’d received.

After sitting down and making small talk about where Louis was staying, they voice how appreciative they are to see each other, Clarissa offering him a drink, and he noticing how she still maintained her infuriating qualities, then surveying Clarissa’s home and thinking how unlike her style it was and it must having been caused by her partner, Sally. When Clarissa reenters with the waters in hand, Louis realizes despite her obvious dissent in to old age, she still had her charm and style which drew him to her. She remarks upon sitting, how he could stay away for five years, he not saying he’d actually been back more than a few times during those years, but instead commenting on he deciding to stay in New York and wanting to uncover an “honest” job, teaching not cutting it. He then remarks the oddness of Richard’s book, after Clarissa warns him of Richard’s looks having changed and he needing to prepare himself. After his rash decision of Clarissa seeming to have lost her loveliness, he changes his tune whilst they discuss his opinion of Richard’s book and its surprise ending. Clarissa then notifies Louis to keep in mind of Richard’s condition, he maintaining some part of himself, but being a bit more loopy now.

Clarissa then flashes back to a fond memory she had with Louis and Richard after sharing the spot she wanted her ashes to be scattered. Louis then reminiscing about a day where he’d gone back to their college home before moving to California and how the house remained unchanged, Clarissa admitting she’d like to see the house herself again sometime, Louis agreeing it was a good idea if she wanted her ashes scattered there. Clarissa then confesses she didn’t actually mean what she’d said and the summer was the cause of her morbidity. When Clarissa touches Louis’ shoulder, we are given a strange comparison of the two seeming like gladiators (Michael Cunningham certainly came up with some strange metaphors and fantasies to give voice through his characters). Louis then confides he’d fallen in love with one of his students from the previous year and Clarissa immediately goes into her same reaction of wanting to shake him to his senses, Louis explaining the young man’s talent. After reiterating his declaration of love, he begins to weep, even to his own surprise, and only admitting to himself he didn’t actually love him and wouldn’t miss him when he left. As Clarissa comforts him she considers her own relationship and how they at no time truly fought in their eighteen-year relationship, she longing to be in an exciting and not so stable circumstance.

Louis stands and walks to her window whilst now weeping for not only his infatuation, but also his friends and their misfortunes, his train of thought being interrupted by Julia, Clarissa’s daughter coming in and he exerting to get a hold of himself, she greeting him formally and he noting how she’d consistently had a seriousness and quirky way since her youth. When Louis turns to greet her in return, he evaluates how she’d changed since the last time he’d seen her, she growing into herself and obtaining a measured confidence, not beautiful, but “handsome”. Louis decides to leave at this moment, Clarissa making sure he’ll return to the party (the same way Clarissa Dalloway had) and he agreeing he would. We then perceive he had an attraction to Julia he couldn’t explain and wasn’t in accordance to his sexuality and fantasized how they would flee this place together. As he leaves Clarissa’s building, he notices the variety of people along the street as he remembered the days when he’d been with Richard and how their relationship ended and the freedom he felt after.

Laura is found driving along a highway where a fire had recently started and feeling as if she was driving in a dream. We then get back story as to why she’s driving and how it was due to an unsettled, seemingly depressive state of mind, so she dropped Richie off with a neighbor with the excuse of picking up something needed for her husband’s birthday, then instead, deciding to go driving around (since the book reading wasn’t cutting it). Laura convinced herself since she’d completed all necessary tasks for the upcoming birthday party, she deserved some time alone to pursue reading her copy of Mrs. Dalloway without interruption. She thinks about the new cake (which still disappoints her), but is an improvement from the first and then lingering on the thought of her kiss shared with Kitty and the desire behind her thoughts. It now seems like Laura is suppressing her same-sex inclinations by being devoted and still loving her husband, but she moves on to thoughts about why she believed her cake was still labeled as an amateur attempt. She then considers how much time she’ll have to herself before having to return to her life and then has to decide which direction she wanted to go in, debating where she could ferret out a place to quietly read and deciding she’ll splurge on a hotel only so she could sit and read for a couple of hours in peace.

Laura checks in to a hotel which she knows is populated by businessmen and tourists and comes up with a viable excuse as to the absence of any luggage; lying for the first time to someone she didn’t care about (strangely). The attendant doesn’t suspect anything though and Laura gets her key easily. She makes her way to her room, she noticing the quirks of the hotel environment and not yet losing her nervous energy, it only having been moved to a dissociative level. When she sees her unsurprisingly plain room and looks through her window, she again gets a dream-like quality and so lies on the bed, not reading her book yet, but relating to the character of Clarissa Dalloway and how she had felt. After getting comfortable she begins to read, we getting an excerpt of Mrs. Dalloway where Clarissa remembers a time when she’d made a wish, and her thoughts on death. Reading this then made Laura consider how it could be easy to release herself from her life and how her family would react to her absence and then realizing how she loved life too much to do such a thing to her family or herself and how easy it must have been for Virginia Woolf to come to her decision.

Virginia is shown in the kitchen with her sister drinking tea and discussing Vanessa’s daughter not considering a coat a gift, of which she was referring to one at Harrod’s she thought was perfect for her, but felt bad about getting it for her since there wasn’t anything for the boys, believing she could have given the coat to Angelica for her birthday, but she being too young to accept it as a viable gifting option. Virginia is weighing what advice she’d share with her sister whilst also figuring whom should actually commit suicide in her story, no longer believing Clarissa was the right character to do so, and as she’s about to speak, Nelly walks in with the requested china and sugared ginger requested for their tea, Virginia changing her moment to instead kiss her sister. (It seems moments of intimacy should repeatedly be shown with the possibility of sexuality, this moment no different than the others.)

Meanwhile Julia is voicing empathy for Louis’ situation, Clarissa wanting to be him at this moment for having a particular freedom she didn’t. She then thinks of the possibility of he ruining the night for Richard on top of regretting the invite to Walter Hardy. Clarissa then requesting a hug from her daughter and inquiring after her, hoping it didn’t inspire annoyance like it had with her own mother. We are then given the reasons why Clarissa asks after Julia, she believing Richard would not enjoy the party and believing her daughter would speak ill of her to her buddies. Clarissa then tries to make herself feel better with the thought of helping Julia’s self-esteem. (And again, like Mrs. Dalloway, Mary Krull isn’t liked and was awaiting Julia outside for their shopping outing.)

When Clarissa is informed of this, she asks why she hadn’t come up to say, “Hi.”, Julia then showing she didn’t want to oblige, but would since Clarissa was now declining and “releasing” her to Mary, she fetching Mary and upon Clarissa seeing her, sharing the image of a ragged stray a child would bring home in hopes of adopting, Mary’s appearance being grungy, bald, and over forty years of age. Mary and Clarissa go through the normal pleasantries, Mary letting loose with some true feelings she had toward store clerks and the shopping experience in general, after which Julia decides it’s time to go, we getting an inside look of what’s going on inside Clarissa and Mary’s heads, the two snubbing their noses at one another and their ways of life in the Lesbian community. We are then made sure to be aware of Julia’s sexuality and Clarissa wondering if Julia had befriended Mary in lieu of a father figure. We are then shown Mary’s pain of being permanently in the friend zone as Julia urges her to hurry to their task of boot-hunting.

Vanessa has left and Nelly is unnaturally upbeat in Virginia’s eyes, whilst she thinks and fears her novel won’t evoke the emotion desired. Virginia continues to ventures to convince herself she’s satisfied with the night ahead of her and her work tomorrow. She then tricks herself into thinking a headache was coming, but nothing more occurs to support her paranoia and decides a walk is needed. She’s then hit with the thought of being in the dead bird’s territory and a comforting feeling of death is about her, she then thinking what will soon be done with the bird which still laid in its nest of roses. Virginia thought how death made one smaller and reduced a life’s value once it had left the body, essentially the body being waste and any thoughts otherwise was for the delicate eyes and ears of children. Virginia begins in the direction of town, seeing people along the way before deciding she was going into town and didn’t yet know the reason. Virginia then intermittently overhears a couple whom upon the lady hearing a question which makes her react with delight, Virginia goes off and has the thought of being alone and what this will eventually mean, it being described as the devil and the feeling, like a shadow of the headache haunting her and making her react as one would with undertaking to ignore it by not turning around.

Virginia then makes a split decision to take the train to London since shops were already closing in town and she’d rather be walking the London streets. When she reaches the station, though and realizes she had over twenty minutes to wait, she wonders the conversation she’d have with Leonard and his reasons for she not going to London, Virginia knowing his words would be mostly true, but also knowing she was bored to pieces and this wasn’t helping her either. She makes her decision, buys her ticket, and after waiting as long as she could stand, decides to walk around until her train arrives, on her way, running into Leonard, whom she greets jokingly formally. Leonard revealing his worry of not discovering her and feeling as if something being amiss, Virginia not confessing to him of her extended plan and feeling sorry for him; men being so fragile and all. Virginia then voices her want of the two of them to move back to London, he agreeing to discuss it over dinner and wishing she could accustom herself to small city life, she agreeing, and the two returning home, arms linked.

Sally is then seen having her lunch with Oliver, they drinking coffee and Oliver asking for confirmation of Sally and Walter’s opinions of making his screenplay “come alive”, Walter not speaking and Sally avoiding a straight answer. Oliver takes a different approach by complimenting Walter, and Sally imagining how the two would’ve been in their youths, one forever looking like a star whilst the other having a fat-boy look which would spur his knack to knowing where other kids stood on the social food-chain, Walter’s only hold back being not ever having done a thriller before and Sally noticing the difference between the story Oliver was attempting to express as opposed to the others in the genre. Sally then has conflicting feelings about staying and wanting to leave, noticing Oliver’s taste in styling his apartment is similar to how Clarissa was looking and measuring their own.

Sally is then imagining returning the relics brought to her attention in Oliver’s apartment, wanting to put them back in their places of origin, when Oliver asks whether she supported his idea, she not committing to anything, claiming to not understand Hollywood. Oliver tries to get a more solid answer through flattery, finally insisting she must not be certain, she acquiescing into agreement. They discuss ideas of what would be a part of the story, Oliver including Walter, but he not sure for only having recently agreed and needing time to warm up, apparently. Oliver decides to pick his brain at a later date. Sally is about to change her opinion, but decides to not mention it, leaving. We then see Walter and Sally walking down the street together and get the impression of how they both failed and succeeded at Oliver’s lunch, but instead talk of Richard’s party later and how he was doing, Walter making the proper responses, but seeming fake for knowing of his own celebrity. Sally was going to try and ditch him when he hooks her into joining him inside a store upon seeing a t-shirt his boyfriend would like and she feeling sorry for him. As she browses, she thinks of how Clarissa is so difficult to read when it came to appropriate gift-choosing, she being similar to Dan in they both will show their love of the gift, the gifter only discovering later if the gift will be used once or at all.

Sally then becomes sentimental and wants to see Clarissa, deciding to make an excuse to leave Walter who was checking out, attempting to have her wait for him, but she adamant in leaving and only giving him enough time to provide her agreement on the shirt chosen being a good one. The next part reminding me of Clarissa Dalloway’s husband struggling to detect the perfect gift for Clarissa and working a way to confide he loved her, Sally also striving to come up with a gift, but puzzling to decipher another way of saying “I love you” for regularly saying it plainly. We then get a closer idea into how much Sally cares about Clarissa, she then seeing a flower cart and taking the same route of decision as Mrs. Dalloway’s husband. Sally, upon going inside her home though, considering more intimate matters in plainer terms than Richard Dalloway had. Once hearing Clarissa’s voice though, Sally senses something isn’t right, her feelings going sour. Clarissa doesn’t share Sally’s sense of wrongness in the air, instead recapping about Louis and Julia’s passing through. Clarissa then notices the roses and they share a lighter moment since both then noticed the roses already on the table, realizing their pure happiness at this moment.

Laura is late, but not too late, having gotten halfway through her novel and driving to pick up Richie, still immersed in Mrs. Dalloway’s world and era. She imagines herself being someone inside the novel or the author, she then stopping in the babysitter’s drive, she realizing she needed to get her car checked, she then feeling a dissociation to her life, all due to her hotel visit and being in the driveway and thinking warmly of death. Laura then begins feeling faint, wanting to go to her car and leave, but knowing she needed to claim her son and finish her husband’s birthday dinner. Laura then considers how her time alone would stay secret only since she wouldn’t know how to confess such an unusual, but harmless moment in her typical house-wife existence. She rings the bell and apologizes for her tardiness, the sitter not bothered and Richie rushing to the door, Laura having a moment of paranoid low self-esteem (as is seemingly her usual behavior; this story could be perfect for a psychology major).

As Richie arrives at Laura, he bursts into tears, she apparently having gauged his emotional state correctly, the gist being he had started to believe his sitter’s home would now be where he’d continue to live. As the sitter relays how much fun they had in her absence, we are also made to believe she was resentful and angered by Richie’s reaction since she had thought staying with her was a theme park-like visit to Richie, Laura wondering if people thought she was over protective of him and why he reacted this way consistently. Laura shares how they were an hour late in getting back and needed to have dinner prepared in time for Dan’s return, Laura now feeling like herself and fitting in her life once more. Laura notices Richie staring at her from the back and questions if everything was alright, he loudly professing his love to her, she returning his sentiments as naturally as she could muster whilst deciphering this new look on his face and nervous in knowing he will perpetually be attentive to her every move, she nonchalantly making conversation of how beneficial Dan’s hours were and they orchestrating a great party and she then thinking how Richie will unceasingly be able to sense if anything’s wrong and notice her failures, but she reiterating her love to her son and maintaining a smile as she doesn’t get angry, on their way home. (The emotions we are told about which Laura isn’t feeling are baffling and possibly showing her conviction to wanting to be happy with her life and future.)

Clarissa goes to Richard’s to help him prepare for his party, but doesn’t get a response at his door. She tries once more before using her own key, apprehensive to what she’ll walk in on, seeing the apartment bathed in light for all the shades being opened and the filthiness of the place revealed. Clarissa discovers Richard sitting astride the window, marveling at the beauty of the outside, she demanding he get down from his perch on the window. When Clarissa voices she’s unsettled by how he’s acting, he gives the impression he’s going further out the window and then shares the medicinal cocktail he’d taken to make him feel so good and the difficulty he’d had getting to the spot he was currently sitting, Clarissa requesting he at least put his foot back on the floor, he then confiding he didn’t feel he could come to the party, she stating he didn’t have to go, feeling like she were calm and once again apart from herself.

Clarissa imagined this moment as a memory and asks Richard to come back in once more. Richard looks seriously at her in response and she tries a stern tone, he then nodding, but not moving, confessing his thoughts of coming to the end of his ability to continue his existence further, she attempting to remind him of still having good days and he regarding her statements as nice, but feeling otherwise, Clarissa then inquiring if he was hearing the voices, he responding he was hearing her, but they forever being there; Richard continuing to come back to the beauty of the day and asking Clarissa to call his mother since she didn’t have anyone and finally requesting a story from Clarissa’s day, she describing of her time buying flowers, keeping the description brief and ending with her command of getting inside. Richard is then reminded of when they were young and being in love with her and Louis, circling to his thought of being a failure and she disagreeing, Richard going on to explain of wanting to have his work seen a certain way, she having to deny it being a “foolish” thought. Richard again repeating being unable to attend the party and Clarissa wanting to ease his mind and not to worry about it, offering to have him take her hand. He states his love to her (in a way I believe is from Virginia Woolf’s last letter to her husband) before he slides out the window.

Clarissa’s reaction was screaming in denial and then almost believing it hadn’t happened due to the look of calm on his face, but when she reaches the window, she’s in time to still see his descent, it almost seeming like it could end being only minimally damaging, but as he reaches his inevitable destination, Clarissa calling out softly, questioning, his head covered by his robe, she running out of the apartment still in shock and confused for a moment as to how to reach the spot Richard had fallen. When she gets a closer look she realizes the damage his landing had, then noticing glass and realizing it wasn’t caused by his fall and wanting to move him, but instead moves his robe, but after seeing the state of his face, paining and surprising her, she puts it back, leaving a hand on his shoulder and not wanting to leave him, but also realizing no one had noticed Richard fall, she knowing the police should be called, struggling to come up with an idea of getting the attention of a neighbor, she considering the feelings unexpressed and for not showing and confiding her love for him caused by flimsy excuses.

Laura is now watching Dan blow out the candles on his cake, hyper aware of the moment and Richie following her lead of applause once the candles are no longer lit. After she’s wished him a happy birthday, we are told of her pure anger at his apish ways and her fate of living this life and this role with him indefinitely, but the fury passes and he shows his affection in a way which makes her regret her reaction and noting his good qualities, she feeling the back of his head and again, describing it in a way which shows displeasure of the pure manliness and halfway unpleasant physicality. Dan offers Richie the task of helping cut the cake as Laura retrieves dinnerware for the slices and thinking of Kitty in the hospital whilst they, along with other families on the block set up their dinner tables. Laura then realizes the significance of her life with husband and son plus child on the way as she watches Richie pull out candles and is urged to lick the frosting off.

Virginia is attempting to keep focused on the book she is reading, knowing she and Laura will soon be moving to London. She thinks of all the places she’ll go and activities she’ll do, all of these moments feeding her stories. She then thinks of the kiss she shared with Vanessa and what it represented, then considering Clarissa Dalloway going to have a kiss which she’ll carry with her throughout her life. Virginia closes her book which prompts Leonard to ask if she’s ready to sleep, she declining due to restlessness and he hoping she’ll be ready in an hour, she agreeable since the fight for London was won, thinking again of Clarissa and whom will die being a brilliant, wonderful person.

Laura is getting ready for bed and anticipating her husband’s pose in bed not ever changing, and how she won’t be able to read this night. She puts her toothbrush and accessories away, noticing the recently refilled scrip. of sleeping pills, knowing she couldn’t use them whilst pregnant. She picks up the bottle and imagines the simpleness of ending everything. She goes into her bedroom, Dan greeting her, and she confirming he had a nice birthday, she feeling “like a ghost”, not feeling her body, taking so long to get in bed, Dan asking if she were going to lie down, she confirming, but not moving, hearing a dog bark. Knowing the woman is unhappy with life and is most likely verging on suicidal unless she comes to terms with her same sex inclinations is a bit annoying since we don’t get a determinate answer on how she ends up, only knowing she’s alone.

Clarissa is leading an old woman, Laura (double-take moment when I read this part, but it does come together if one pays attention) into her apartment where Clarissa notices her unarranged flowers once more. Clarissa introduces Laura to her daughter, Julia whom catches Clarissa up on those who had shown up to the party since not receiving the message, Louis being one of those focused on. Julia offers to get Laura a drink after she declines food from Clarissa, but setting an assortment, in case, knowing it had been awhile since she’d eaten.

Clarissa then gives away whom Laura is and why she’s at her apartment and would be staying overnight in the guest room, not the main reason being Laura was from Richard’s poetry, Clarissa then making a statement which she regrets due to they soon would be having enough people stating of Richard’s goodness, but Laura agrees with her and takes it well. Clarissa struggling to make conversation and wondering aloud about the status of Laura’s tea, then inwardly thinking of what Richard’s descent from the window must have been like, deciding to go check, coming into the kitchen to observe the selection of appetizers put out, impressed with the amount and thinking of its shelf-life lasting longer than everyone she knew. Clarissa then gauging the lasting power of Richard’s work and how Richard’s party would now only be entertaining four, Clarissa going back to the living room to fetch Laura.

Well, I certainly don’t remember the movie much since none of the story rang any bells other than a fuzzy image of Meryl Streep playing Clarissa, so I may have to revisit viewing it only to be a completist and having been surprised by Nicole Kidman’s transformation. In knowing the resources Cunningham researched, I suppose I’m less surprised by all the sexual references made, which only makes me wonder about the truth behind his fiction. I may do further research on Woolf, but until then, this was quite an interesting story and held my attention fairly consistently, which makes it worth the read by itself, but moreso if one has read Mrs. Dalloway.

 

Lost at Sea

So this one’s deep. It’s all introspection and dealing with the first 20 odd years of one’s life, essentially. Which will resonate more if one’s gone through these sorts of life lessons at about this age or dealing with growing pains of first losses, etc. An extremely easy read, if it doesn’t catch the reader’s interest at first, one could still get through it due to its easy flow and the love for O’Malley.

Buddha, Vol. 8: Jetavana (Buddha #8)

For the seventh volume in the series. We begin with discovering Prince Ajatasattu has been in the tower for four years and he’s turned seventeen, but looks much older due to the vengeance he’s harbored all those years. Devadatta still visited the Prince to keep him abreast of all the news of the city around him and of Buddha’s efforts. Devadatta then informs the Prince he could be let go sooner than his father’s sentence due to the King showing withdrawal symptoms and no one knowing anything, but he was poisoned, the kingdom would need someone of sound mind to rule the country giving the Prince the perfect opportunity to take over. The Prince knows Devadatta has done this for a reason and asks him what it was, it being for the Prince’s support to Devadatta to take over control in Venuvana. The Prince is so desperate to get out of the tower he’s willing to help Devadatta in his endeavor and so awaits the good news of his release to come. We next see the effect of Devadatta’s plan and he soon arrives in Venuvana after the disciples hear of the news about Prince Ajatasattu.

Devadatta brings the highest ranking monks together to blast them with the news of his take over of their group as well, showing the proclamation. Sariputta found a way around the proclamation due to how it was written and in the end let the monks decide whether they’d like to follow Devadatta or not; only a few, including Tatta decide to go with him. Tatta’s reason being Devadatta promised him his revenge. Meanwhile Ajatasattu has locked his father up in the tower and his mother pleads with him to be reasonable, confiding in him of Devadatta’s part in his father’s poisoning, but the Prince strips her of her title and has her removed. Devadatta arrives to inform the Prince of his success, but the Prince isn’t impressed with the number of Samanna he’s convinced to follow him. Devadatta requests needing a little more time and the Prince gives him some gold to fund his ability to show he has the biggest sect in India, but Devadatta declines being able to use the money in such a way, opting to give it to charity in the King’s name, Ajatasattu acquiescing.

Then we see Migaila is still trying to figure out why Tatta has decided to betray Buddha like he has. Tatta plans on going to Kapilavastu for Buddha’s permission and Migaila has misgivings, confessing to him she feels like she won’t ever see him again, but he’s set on going and thinks she’s got nothing to fear, believing he won’t be gone long at all, but we’re to learn Migaila’s feeling had merit. Then Sariputta and Moggallana are seen heading to the mountains where Devadatta’s monks are to bring them back in a not so honest way, as Sariputta puts it. When they arrive Sariputta share with the monks how a divine being has told him they need to reunite and come back, even showing it’s form with the fog has developed over the night, which does its job in convincing them to return. When Devadatta returns to the mountain to discover everyone gone, he’s vowed to do anything in his power to win what they’ve “stolen” from him, even if he has to kill Buddha to do it.

Meanwhile Buddha, Ananda and Visakha were heading back to Kosala with Rahula, Bhaddiya, Aurudha and Kimbila when Bhaddiya mentions to Buddha of Naradatta who was not quite on the way, but well-known for being an ascetic since Siddhartha was a baby. Buddha decides to make the side-trip, soon they see prints only one who was walking on all fours could make. They locate a cave, which Ananda offers to enter first to make sure there weren’t any dangerous animals inside, but Buddha senses there wasn’t and decides to go in first, noticing Naradatta lying on a palette, hot with fever. Upon trying to give him medicine to help, Naradatta shows his refusal and Buddha accepts this, instead staying and watching over him, until late speaking with Naradatta. He learns something of Buddha before dying and Buddha goes back out to his group informing them of how moved he was by spending Naradatta’s last moments with him. He realized then how he wanted to die when the time came and we are told Buddha, from then on thought often of the way he would go.

We then see a merchant trying to get Prince Jeta to sell his park to him for monks to reside in, but the Prince refuses. As he’s returning to the castle, he discovers his father has returned from Kapilavastu, believing once Buddha comes to visit and speaks with the King his mind will change as well, the young Prince laughs at the thought and wonders how his father’s mind would ever be changed. The King, meanwhile doesn’t take the news of Prince Crystal’s withdrawal of their troops very well at all. The King threatens Prince Crystal by taking his successorship if he doesn’t go back and kill the Shakya, so he obeys begrudgingly. Meanwhile the merchant, Sudatta is trying to fulfill the young Prince’s requirements in order to buy the park, stemming from his time when he’d met Buddha and wanting to fulfill this dream of his, then we get a flashback of his meeting with Buddha. Buddha explains to Sudatta what he needs to know to lose his fear of death and continues they will meet again, since Sudatta wanted him to share more.

After their meeting Sudatta had figured out his life’s work will be to make a temple for Buddha and so puts all of his finances into it, but upon seeing how much of the park was covered by all of his money and still needing more, he begins losing heart when the young Prince comes to see how well he’s held up his end of the bargain. Soon Sudatta’s staff is beginning to believe he’s truly lost his mind and try to call a doctor, but in their haste almost cut off his breathing themselves, then Prince Jeta is informed and told by his mother he should leave the man alone, but the Prince believes it shouldn’t matter since they are royalty and bullying the lower castes should be acceptable. The Prince believes Sudatta will come begging for his forgiveness soon enough, then we see Sudatta has sold his house and hasn’t made much larger of a dent on covering the land, soon being flitted upon by birds and getting an idea after, wondering why they’d be so happy. Then Prince Jeta ascertains where Sudatta has started living and senses he’s quite happy and content, but not believing the truth in his words, he tests him by flipping a gold coin to him and follows him to see what he’ll do with it, which was to set it in the park with the others, so the Prince gives in and donates the park to him instead.

Next we catch Prince Crystal making his way back with troops to Kapilavastu and when his soldiers detect some Shakya, the Prince maintains they must kill them, but they resist once they realize Buddha’s among them. When the Prince perceives this out he goes to Buddha and gets more advice on how one should respect their parents, if it feels right to do so. We then see the Prince confronting his father once he’s returned, expressing to him he’s decided against obeying his orders. His father, in return calls his favorite wrestler in as a threat, revealing to his son he’ll give him succession. Prince Crystal in return, gets his soldiers to come in and physically extricate him off the throne to get him to a doctor for fear of being mad. The doctor, after seeing the King, gives his diagnosis and the Prince gets it in writing so as to have a reason to take over the throne.

Then we get the viewpoint of a local ascetic who also fears having Buddha dismantle his group, so one of his disciples makes known he can stop Buddha with powder to stop him from using “black magic”, but Pokkarasati has his own plan, bringing in a woman named Sundari, one of his other disciples to use as bait for Buddha. Then we see Prince Crystal greeting Buddha to his kingdom and Buddha has doubts to his reception being taken well by the people due to his background. Then Prince Jeta brings Sudatta forward and describes what had gone on and what he plans on doing with the park. The monastery was built and Buddha stays there to preach to the people of Kosala. This is when Pokkarasati and Sundari come in and try to lure Buddha with her wiles. After Buddha finishes a sermon he decides to rest for awhile, wondering if he’s truly giving the Kosalan people enlightenment. Then he hears a lady’s voice calling his name and upon investigating who and where it’s coming from, we recognize it’s the “harlot” trying to woo him with wine, which he declines. She gives away her bit of the plan, which doesn’t resonate with Buddha, but she’s killed and the murderer runs off spreading the rumor Buddha has killed a woman. Buddha takes the turning of people’s loyalty in stride and waits it out. Upon the fifth day of harrassment, King Crystal steps in and informs Buddha he has the police looking into the matter, since he doesn’t believe the rumors and suspects local Brahmin as the source.

When Buddha asks after the King’s father, he’s reticent with his answers and his father’s death, requesting Buddha to take care of himself. Buddha is then led to where the former King is supposedly being held. When he approaches and introduces himself to the man inside, he begins to remember who Siddhartha is and isn’t happy about his presence. Buddha confides what his son had said about him and the former King gets agitated to being helped to escape his prison, instead Buddha inquires to how he was put there in the first place. He’s adamant in declining and tries to bribe Buddha, which is when King Crystal shows up. When Buddha tries to get him to release his father, he reminds him of why he’d taken it into his own hands to stop his father’s charade of a threat to making his favorite wrestler his successor. He then escorts Buddha back to Jetavana, commanding him not to return there and warning his father if he tried to escape he’d stick him in the dungeon. The King’s father then notices a message written in the dirt for him, leading him to a plant, which now he tries to figure how it will be useful in his escape. Then we see what Tatta is up to, which consists of him trying to figure out where Buddha’s gone to. After getting steamed up about how much he hates the Kosalans, a man approaches him to let him know he isn’t the only one and introduces him to others like himself. After accepting their invitation to go to war with them, Yashodara shows up, asking if Tatta is serious about making war. Then she tries to show Tatta must be reasonable and think of the consequences which involves all the Shakya people, but Tatta is set on his resolve to join his compatriots and points Yashodara to speak with their General, Bharanda.

King Crystal comes to Buddha with the culprits of the young woman’s murder, which shocks Buddha. The King then confesses he won’t have long to wait before they capture the guilty party, then we see the soldiers who think they’ve found the murderer, which is Tatta who’s not taking kindly to anyone who’s Kosalan. He has a waking dream, which involves his horse becoming Buddha, trying to make him see what he’s doing is wrong, amusingly, but not in time before more Kosalan troops come to stop him. When a soldier comes back to King Crystal to share what had happened to their band, he is enraged to learn a Shakya, not relating to whom they were searching for, has gone and killed those he’d sent out for the killer, instead he sends out a battalion to stop Tatta, who seems ready for them. Bharanda then sends out his men to help Tatta. Meanwhile, those who didn’t want to be part of the war, left Kapilavastu for Kosala including Siddhartha’s mother and father, whom he meets at the entrance, trying to turn them away, but Yashodara explains why they left. Buddha holds firm to his belief they should have confronted the uprising head on, trying to get them to return and deal with the problem. Then Buddha senses Tatta is involved, not believing what he heard, then King Crystal makes sure Buddha isn’t going to try to stop him from taking out the Shakyan people which he doesn’t, resigning to their fate. King Crystal leaves to wage war and Tatta still faces it head on, soon facing King Crystal who recognizes him as a disciple and gives him the chance to retreat. Tatta refuses, making King Crystal kill him and then he orders everyone’s death. When King Crystal gets back Buddha is under the tree he’d left him and explains what happened, upon questioning. Once the King had gone back to his castle, Buddha walks to the war-zone, noticing Tatta among the dead, now making him think his teachings were pointless.

Buddha’s family is saddened by the terrible news of their country and people as well, but Buddha seemed to feel the worst about it to the point of calling out to Brahmin for guidance for what he should do next for not getting anyone to truly understand his teachings. Then Ananda sees Buddha at his worst moment and is plagued by the evil presence he’s been fighting against, speaking in his ear about Buddha’s failure and weakness, but Ananda goes to Buddha’s aid and reminds him of all the people he has helped. Ananda then begins wondering why Tatta was searching for Buddha, thinking something may be starting in Venuvana. We see Prince Crystal going back to the cage he’s left his father in, being told it’s been a year since he’s been there last. He confesses to his father of what he’d done and agrees to let him out if he agrees to retirement and not to exert any authority over King Crystal, which surprises his father for some reason. Then King Crystal believes his father is too mentally ill to be released and leaves him there since he seems too obsessed with giving up the throne, curses trailing after him. The former King comes up with a revenge-based plan to get him back on the throne, then hearkens back to the note Buddha had left him. We then skip forward a year and see Dhepa has come to deliver a message to Buddha. He then is heard by Buddha himself about the fates of Ajatasattu and his father. He goes on to describe of the fall of Devadatta’s claim to leadership and then the rise again, more monks deciding to join him after Sariputta had convinced them to leave. When Dhepa asks for Buddha to help them by returning, he agrees and requests Dhepa to go ahead, giving a speech to the people before he departs. King Crystal offers his assistance in any way to Buddha’s journey and he asks him only to release his father, which he delivers the orders for to one of his guards. We then see the former King speaking to a hallucination which stemmed from the weed he’d been fostering to survive. Then he realizes the door had been opened and he leaves the place at once, heading for Magadha. When he gets there he asks for King Bimbisara and is told there’s a new king. He waits there, lying in the mud overnight and dies at the door, not seeing Buddha again.

Buddha arrives to visit King Ajatasattu to ascertain what happened and Ajatasattu begins laying down the law, forbidding him to go to Rajgriha indefinitely. Then Devadatta appears to show off how he’s become leader of Buddha’s sect, angering Ananda, but when Buddha replies for him to stay calm, he confesses to Devadatta what he thinks of his abilities, making him feel inadequate, so then he puts Buddha to the test to prove he’s actually chosen. After Buddha chooses and his plan goes awry, he determines his accomplices had chickened out, due to to the possibility of poisoning a great man like Buddha. Then Devadatta decides they should let the disciples decide and lead the way to Venuvana. On the way there it seems Devadatta had a back up plan involving a boulder, which failed again. Ananda figures out Devadatta’s plan and warns Buddha to watch out for anything suspicious, they then run into another trap, but Buddha helps the creature involved before it endangers itself or him. They then finally reach Venuvana where the disciples are pleased to see him, hoping life will go back to peacefulness. Buddha then sees the conditions of Sariputta and Moggallana brought on by the King, Migaila enquiring after about how Tatta had died and Buddha expressing of his single-mindedness to do what he thought was right. Devadatta then comes up with his new plan on killing Buddha, set to go down in the evening as Buddha slept, but his plan turns on him when he falls like a klutz, he still set on taking Buddha down with him. Buddha perceives Devadatta as he’s about to be taken out and shares how he was his own worst enemy, even though he hated Buddha for not being able to emulate him.

We start the next chapter with the Duchess requesting to see her husband, who is up in the tower. She eventually gets what she wants and we hear through the guards how it seems Ajatasattu is trying to starve his father to death. King Ajatasattu then learns about Devadatta’s death and grieves privately for the man was like a brother to him. After two weeks of solitude, the staff becomes worried and breaks in to see what’s going on with the King and they view him in an interesting condition: his forehead developing a lump. The King believes it’s Devadatta’s doing somehow, but the doctor believes it to be a tumor and knows how to cure him, but Ajatasattu doesn’t believe him, he soon falls into a state of pain though and pleads for help. The King still threatens the doctor, even though he’s certain he knows how to cure him. Then we see Buddha arrive and requesting to visit Bimbisara, but the guards let him know they can’t give him access, which is when the Duchess steps in, letting him accompany her on her visit.

We soon realize this day is when Bimbisara is supposed to die, when a guard rushes out saying Bimbisara isn’t breathing, they all run to his cell and observe him to be conscious and speaking to his wife of how he doesn’t blame Ajatasattu for doing what he did, then sees Buddha and is glad to have him there, asking him to take Ajatasattu as his disciple and mentioning his regret of how he treated his son, hoping Buddha would be able to save him as his final request. Buddha then goes to see Ajatasattu and sees how far the tumor has grown, which the doctor explains was done by Devadatta who prepared the drink for the King, so once Devadatta had died, the King started experiencing withdrawal and now they contemplated how they could possibly concoct the same potion for the King, but since they don’t know the ingredients necessary, Buddha figures out a more simple method to trying to heal Ajatasattu. The doctor is skeptical, but sees the effects as soon as he touches Ajatasattu and continues this method for three years. Then after reducing the King’s swelling a bit, he comes to another realization about man and God, deciding he will tell every Human of his discovery. We see Buddha stay on Eagle Peak to preach and meditate, then seeing him sharing a story about a man who was too weak to go on, the animals in the area helping him to survive. The rabbit in particular sacrifices himself so the man could go on, Buddha then describing the person who sacrificed himself to some wolves in the same manner. After this sermon, which Ajatasattu hears, he honors his father and requests to become Buddha’s disciple.

We then see Buddha receiving terrible news about Moggallana and Sariputta, who didn’t survive their travels. Buddha is so shocked he believes it to be a lie, but then he is shown a letter written to Buddha by Moggallana. Buddha is stricken by his heirs deaths and develops physical stomach pain during the night, then thinks he’s hearing Mara asking him to accept death. Buddha then confides in Dhepa, once daylight comes, he’s planning on making one last trip, due to Moggallana’s prophecy. Buddha then mentions to Dhepa he wants him to give sermons in his absence. Buddha begins his journey with Ananda by his side, Migaila also bids farewell before they depart. We are then given the route Buddha and 500 of his disciples took so he could teach the people of all castes.

Three months before Buddha’s fated death, he gives Ananda some wisdom on the subject of death. Buddha stops at a poor man’s house and they serve him mushrooms, due to having nothing else, but of course Buddha is grateful and is even given directions before moving on. After walking for some time, Buddha began feeling ill, and soon showed signs of sickness, his disciples cared for him and upon sunset, he felt good enough to rest. At night, Buddha is again visited by Brahman and told when they will be making their journey together, which is also around the same time a monk appears to visit Buddha, but gets turned away by his followers due to his feeling ill, Buddha though decides to let him come and ask him what he would, giving him advice on the three facts he needs to follow in order to awaken his soul. After giving Suhbadda his answer, he falls back, seeing it’s time for his end. When Brahman arrives to accompany him on his journey, Buddha asks what will become of his teachings, being led by Brahman to show him the answer. We are then given the closing as to where Buddhism had spread to throughout the years. This was one epic comic and I’m glad I read it, eye-opening and enlightening indeed.

The Tin Drum

I got this edition from the library so I only decided to read the first story, The Tin Drum and the third, but due to the due date and subsequent move out of the city of “Hell’s” Angels, I’ll have to wait to continue to the third. This story, however starts with Oskar, who’s interested in writing his thoughts down on paper and resides in a mental institution. He has periodic visitors, among them a lawyer and Bruno whom he refers to as his keeper; the latter brings him reams of “virgin” paper whenever he runs out. He then begins to share a story about his grandmother, which is when it feels like the story truly begins. (This is also where I’m noticing if I continue to read German novels it might be in my interest to look for the Polish authors, since so far I’m distinguishing this text more easily read and less depressing than more Germanic writers are. I also learned this is where Alice Cooper got his inspiration for his out-of-school song. It’s so blatantly similar I was surprised to recognize it so nonchalantly mentioned near the beginning of the book.) Oskar is precocious and quick for his age, which is shown throughout; it’s mentioned he’s a Virgo and shows the personality traits of one, also with the large ego of being even more clever than everyone around him, he plays dumb so a neighbor will teach him to read (since he blew his one and only chance to be taught at school; ignorant rigidity of the teachers of the era).

Once truly in the story, it’s easy to delve into Grass’ world; or so I believed, soon changed. Oskar starts to become something of a super-hero with his precision glass cutting scream with a side of mischief making and also with his drum sabotaging anything instrument-related he discovers within stomping distance, but there’s bits which are quite dull to get through and I identify myself plodding difficultly. Although after a rough patch, I read an article which made me stick with it. I’ve now made the connection between Grass and John Irving. They’re both clinical in their descriptions at times, sexual in a backward interest topic, and extremely vivid. (It’s also quite like a reverse Benjamin Button, but only if I want to stretch the analogy as far as it can go. But once I plodded ever vigilant to getting finished with this book, I realized how obsessed Oskar was with his mother; it was a nice realization once it dawned on me, which made him protective of her. Although once I was 124 page’s deep, it made perfect sense why he would be allowed this odd relationship with her, since he ended up suffering far more due to the unfortunate circumstances which occur to them).

Oskar befriends Herbert Truczinski when he is around 14 because Herbert has a plentiful amount of scars with “back” stories; Ha-ha. He is an old friend who influenced Oskar. (Later on Oskar’s Western Astrological sign is mentioned yet again, for personality quirk purposes, I suppose.) It describes, in some detail, many streets and stores in the city, and then gets much more interesting. He convinces Herbert Truczinski to buy him a ticket to accompany him, since Oskar still looked so young he was able to get in for the kid’s price. The only problem and good thing about this book, is it’s detailed structuring. (Sometimes it’s wonderful, other times it drags on and I need frequent breaks. This is like the German Les Miserables. And I believe I enjoyed Hugo over this by a bit. And then it shifts again and I realize I’m enjoying the story.) It is a book with waves of good and tired bits.

Oskar then discloses of keeping a book of all his drums and their “careers” since 1949 (the list-taking is a Virgo thing for sure, I can relate, and know many who do, as well.) Oskar also deals with a point where he had to question who his father was. Which was entertaining to figure out. (This is also the only book I’ve read so far which could make a card game called skat, let alone any card game, sound exciting and maintain it’s feel of camaraderie. I’m also realizing I’m relating to Oskar having to begrudgingly take command of the situation whilst under the stress of being bombed and keeping up a game of skat with his Uncle/Father and dying postal worker and staying calm and keeping Jan focused and the postal worker moving so he doesn’t literally lay down and die.) The end of the story is a grim one, but fascinating none-the-less.

Then, once I start thinking this is beginning to sound Don Quixote-like, lo and behold, he’s referenced not too long after my thought. Also Maria sure does become a good friend to him in the way of drums for awhile. Which was satisfying in a small way, but then to learn she eventually becomes Oskar’s first love when he’s almost 16 feels awkward, but doesn’t linger; instead, it’s more embarrassing for Oskar, since he allows himself to be treated like a small child still, but doesn’t consider changing since he knows how to work adults more easily in his current state. (Due to many of the course sexual references, I keep wondering why I’m continuing the story: it’s well written, descriptive, imaginative, also Grass shares a birthday with Oscar Wilde, which I believe foretelling since I read Wilde’s complete works and it may be the qualities which are helping me stick with this: those being listed above.) Although, Oskar’s introduction to oral is quite surprising and amusing, but also odd since the reader has to catch the metaphor. Any 15-year-old would hate to remember or at least truthfully divulge a story like this, but he does “get lucky” in a lucky way.

Grass, through Oskar also makes known something which should become a more known disgust if not fret of men. Oskar says at one point he despises how his downstairs takes over at the most bewildering of times, with no rhyme or reason. There are also many strange and sexually ambiguous characters whom are thoroughly explored. Some are more fascinating and easier to read than others, but they are all well-written and the ones who emote a sense of respect towards one another and pure friendships bloom because they are good, but some are troubled more than others, as well. Oskar becomes more desperate after meeting Maria and she becomes a more constant presence in his life, until she decides a different path and he’s surprised by what she does and doesn’t do in this time in their lives apart. Oskar has some strange fantasies about his family revolving around his grandmother’s skirts. Oskar gains a crew when he is followed and then shows them his breaking windows talent. The leader takes him in as one of them, begrudgingly, and Oskar takes the opportunity to make himself seem beatific by introducing himself to them as Jesus. Oskar then becomes the new leader of the youthful gang and proceeds to get them to implement troublesome plans, which he designated out to his crew as he sits back and hears about the wonderful mayhem. Oskar becomes more egotistical, once Lucy starts ruffling his feathers. He at one point sees himself as a, “human unicorn” and the most important of his group, the Dusters. They certainly do undertake some blasphemous missions which Oskar shows mild guilt at the start of the discussion of his Catholicism, but by this point, he’s obviously reached a new more contemptuous viewpoint of what he feels acceptable sacrilege.

It starts to adopt a dark humor I enjoy, in the church during their prank and how one of the Dusters gives a speech so moving, even Oskar has the desired feeling of soul-saving sermonizing. The next episode of Oskar, preludes us with a story of a young man who climbs a high-jump dive-board at a public pool, to see the view, when his buddies put him on the spot whilst everyone’s attention was already being diverted by his climb, from the start. Oskar introduces his similar story with the Dusters, but for them, it’s Lucy who’s a part of a panel of judges who was to encourage the Duster’s to jump. Then she tries and fails to get Oskar to jump, proving one does not have to be conquered by suggestion. Even when Lucy tries her whispering tactic, “Jump, Sweet Jesus, jump.”, doesn’t work, Oskar makes his way back the way he got there. Matzerath is then approached by a court official mysteriously alluding to getting, “the child off the streets.” Calling him gullible and easily swayed by “bad crowds”, essentially. Lucy does become a thought of dread to Oskar since he doesn’t see her again, so when he hears of unexpected visitors at the mental institution, he fears it’ll be her. Oskar still does utilize his size and his ability to act toddler-like to get him out of trouble, if he can. Even though by this time he should be around eighteen or nineteen years old. (I must remind myself he wouldn’t necessarily have found maturity at his age since he became counter-obsessively using his “baby” act for so long.) Oskar has also kept his respect for Goethe and Rasputin since his first discovering and learning to read by them so long ago. Oskar usually feels the need to show off his talent to those who show talent themselves or to help others through his talent. He liked pretending he didn’t care, out of arrogance and ego, (in line with what I would expect) which doesn’t change through his childhood or young adulthood.

Matzerath’s cellar is shown, along with the rest of the family, plus Oskar to await the invading Russians with devastating results. The next bit gives background on the city name and who pillaged it. It goes on about the history of how battles started and how the people tried to defend their homes. The Russians are still about, so Oskar and the family stay hiding in the cellar, to wait. The man who takes over the grocery story helps the family deal with some hard tasks Lina Greff would have done, if not for her hosting a houseful of Russian soldiers. They move in to Mother Trucszinski’s flat. (Then I learn Matzerath hates margarine as much as I hate it, today!) Similarities throughout the ages. Also something similar is how the newly adult military “kids”, goof off during their tours. These Russians take what now is considered one of the world’s most beloved pastimes and wheeled transportation, free-style bicycling with items taken from homes and jumping ramps off them and using bathtubs, grandfather clocks and radios, among other items, doing stunts. Meanwhile Oskar is studying Fajngold the grocer to see if he can deduce what he’s contemplating. Whilst trying to get where they’re going, they accrue two young Russian cadets with tommy guns to escort them wherever they’re going and they make their unwanted presence known by their obvious clumsy inexperience trying to cover it up with silent, serious exteriors. How serious would you take a sixteen year old? Exactly.

Oskar starts feeling cheated by not having the shop go to him and only having Kurt and Maria to show for his years with his family. Their goal of destination is shared, and they continue on foot due to the obstacles being too large to get to where they needed with whom they had in tow. Kurt doesn’t change, his brandished reckless violence making him easy to see him as an expendable brat. No one is beyond Kurt’s abuse, but in this section, he goes after a caged lovebird. Oskar has come to a life-changing decision near the same time his son, Kurt does. A long coming confession from Oskar regarding the Party pin Matzarath almost got caught having in his possession is also confessed. Oskar’s main memorable moments of Matzarath being about his cooking and nothing so sentimental as his possible paternity. He lets his last Bebra-bought drum symbolize his farewell to Matzarath. Oskar believes the nosebleed which follows is the start of his growth. Shugger confirms this when reacting with fear as Oskar faints out the end of the scene,ths also when Oskar’s height is learned. Also, by this time it’s determine he’s older than 21 and he was only three feet by then. A reiteration of the cemetery and Heilandt’s strange reaction to Oskar’s growth spurt is gone over. He also tries to forgive his son his violent act against him by trying to believe he did it to help him accelerate his growth, so Oskar would finally get some acknowledgement from Kurt he is his father. Doctors also come up with a physical explanation for Oskar’s stop and then spurt of growth later, which Oskar doesn’t believe at all. His thinking was, he had started growing and stopped after, and before the physical “traumas” occurred.

When Oskar becomes ill due to his sudden growth a lady doctor is found, and he appreciates her upfront and terse countenance, which I can relate to, Grass was thorough in at least his astrological and most likely his geographical knowledge. I also learned more about the characters of Rasputin and Goethe both of which I haven’t read or done much research on, but soon enough, I will be. Fajngold realizes his family plus Maria and the children (Oskar included) were infested with lice where the explanation goes on with Oskar feeling more relief whilst his illness when Fajngold disinfected everyone putting him completely at ease. (It then mentions a concentration camp story involving Fajngold, which is engaging, but I’m indifferent to, since I’ve sworn off reading Holocaust related materials due to the overabundance of reading them in school.) Oskar’s illness continues to recede and flare through the spring. Fajngold changes the grocery store’s merchandise and Kurt becomes a prolific salesman at the age of 5. They get a visit from Oskar’s Grandmother where Fajngold and she swap stories. After, Maria decides to go live with her sister. Mr. Fajngold bids them farewell and Oskar uses a way of seeing the world which has become easy to adopt and quite calming to apply: He says, Fajngold waves them goodbye from the train station until he no longer exists. I use the same concept, depending on mental faculties and if the person has done everything in their power to combat it, if they haven’t I don’t consider them “real” and don’t necessarily give them the deserved normal courtesies all “healthy-minded” individuals worked at receiving through normal means.

The next section is told by Oskar’s nurse, Bruno, of when Oskar and family are on the train and it keeps being stopped by gangsters and such and when Oskar showed a picture of his Grandmother, it saves their belongings from being stolen for an odd reason, which is why I bring it up at all. Oskar also attributes his growth, lengthwise and of his, ahem, nethers, were aided by the jiggling and jolting of the tracks, also relieving the constant pain so much growing gives, another funny observation. He also lost the ability of breaking glass with his voice on this trip. After getting Oskar to a hospital, Maria gets him transferred closer to where her sister lives. By the close of this part, Bruno finishes his writing and a full description of Oskar’s person and also a mysterious charge Oskar was put in to the hospital for in the first place, is mentioned finally. Oskar continues saying he doesn’t even bother reading what Bruno wrote. He than says he’s grown another inch and was released from the hospital. He then goes to Maria’s sister Guste’s house to discover Maria dealing black market synthetic honey and Kurt begins a business venture of his own, even having a mysterious source which irritates Oskar for not knowing whom it could be. Oskar reiterates Bruno’s description of himself and what his view is toward himself: handsome, despite his hump which now developed on his back.

Oskar applies an everyday exercise I use, except he conceives it, perhaps more “fun” to label, in this case, happiness according to various types of stone since he was able to acquire a job helping a tombstone engraver, similar to Simon Birch now I think of it. Possible tsk-tsk on John Irving?Anyways, they both get fitted for suits and Oskar pulls off a demonic intellectual look whilst Korneff, his employer, who has boils all over his neck looked quite impressive as well. Oskar was feeling lucky, so he decides to ask Gertrude, a nurse from the hospital he stalks once in a while and they go out to dance. Oskar was going to back out of the date if he could when he realized Gertrude is normal looking outside her uniform, but doesn’t get the chance, so when they get to the dance hall, they wait a bit to get settled and then Oskar asks Gertrude for a dance, which is hesitantly accepted. The completion of the dance has everyone clapping to them and Gertrude becomes embarrassed and excuses herself. The night gets more eventful when he meets two young telephone-operators, one of which asks Oskar to dance. Gertrude isn’t seen again, other than the hospital. Oskar then talks of the headstones he’s carved and where they were put. He witnesses a woman’s exhumation and when he tries to help the diggers (since he had his spade handy) he shovels some of the woman’s corpse fingers and notices their beauty, oddly. Oskar spirals his conversational thoughts to himself until ending up acknowledging he may have hallucinated Lucy Rennwand when he thought he saw her on the train.

Oskar decides to move on from his telephone girls and their connections in favor of taking Maria out and recognizing he’s been responsible for Maria and Kurt’s financial well-being for over a month already and how he was in preference of this, also being told it was partly due to Kurt’s connection drying up. He proposes to Maria and gets strung along until she locates the scissors to finally cut Oskar’s hope of typical family living loose. Oskar mopes about his declined proposal, thinking it would have led to his career as a stonecutter being expanded etc., but because of the plan not working, now he must capitalize off his hump instead. He also spent his time sitting in the park for long periods and letting his appearance go, naturally. On one of his sittings he’s approached by a girl at the behest of her companions to uncover a model to paint. Oskar took to the offer seemingly readily, but he soon realizes being sketched may not mean it coming out flatteringly. He isn’t bother by this for long, since Oskar keeps an aloof exterior, and is soon offered a position to pose nude for the instructor who sketched and molded Oskar’s form in clay. They bonded over their previous careers and Oskar continues to pose for the students on the side. As he advances forth to posing, he becomes something of a hidden gem, until the painters on the floor above discover him and see what the sculptors have been studying and Oskar poses for them also, which seems to satisfy his obsession with wanting his blue eyes to be accounted for, but like the others, the students use blue for most of him, (which reminds me of Sacré Bleu) which describes the reason of some painters obsession and fascination with it.

Oskar decides to join in what is known as carnival week where his costumes makes Kurt laugh so hard he can’t stop coughing. His costume didn’t have the same effect on the carni-revelers, though, but he makes it to the party, where the artists try to sell food and whatnot rather than actually partying. Oskar makes acquaintances with two Chinese lesbians, interestingly and they “make use” of his hump in a way which gives him confirmation of his hump being lucky for women. His companionship with them and the champagne turns him introspective, though and he contemplates the meaning of life. After, he is asked for a cigarette from an old acquaintance, meanwhile being captivated by the soldier acquaintance’s young, drunk date while reminiscing. The girl’s name immediately reminds me of Wonder Boys since they share the name Ulla. Michael Douglas’ character says, “I never forget an Ulla.” Which apparently helped me not to forget either. Oskar decides to help Ulla in her want to becoming an artist which makes Lankes happy. They all retire at Lankes’ place and Oskar gets a chance to be closer to Ulla; the horn dog. When Ulla confesses to them of not wanting to be a muse to artists, but only wanting to “belong” to Lankes, he institutes the usual acceptable response to women in those days and she accepted being a model to the academy, with the help of Oskar. For a “young girl” she is of model-esque height and Oskar and she become the popular duo with the title of Madonna 49, where Oskar poses as a broken Jesus. Maria is upset by the poster which is made of them, but it does get sold for a generous sum and Oskar and Ulla become a popular modeling team. Ulla doesn’t escape Lankes’ wrath, though, since he seemed to be of the malevolent nature he had shown from the start. Oskar also developed these feelings toward Ulla, oddly, but instead of succumbing to assault, he treated her to going out, either to a pastry shop or to buy her small gifts.

One of the artists had a more intimate relationship with Ulla, later described by getting her in a certain position and doing a similar act as those of porn-buffers without having to touch her; ha-HA. Oskar was used to being made to have some object put in his hands to offset Ulla and eventually he brings the one object Oskar had no desire to hold and he says so. Ulla convinces him otherwise, with much distress on Oskar’s side. Maria sees this version of the Madonna 49 and cracks Oskar with his son’s school ruler. She believed it was vulgar and felt above him due to her upstanding position in a delicatessen, she wanting nothing more to do with Oskar. She takes it back, but Oskar didn’t want to continue living with his son and her sister. Maria agreed and offered Oskar to look for a place not far from them, which he seemed to agree to. Oskar stays with the Academy of Arts to be painted and drawn for the winter through the next summer and has no trouble admitting his own foolishness, identifying with Parsifal, a fool also. Besides, he visits Korneff the stone-cutter once again and ends up being offered some part-time work on top of posing as a model due to rent being raised.

After starting a carving and finishing in 3 hours, Oskar’s paid and goes to look at an apartment, which he accepts and learns a nurse, among other tenants share Zeidler’s home. Then sufficient description of the abode and Oskar witnessing a spat between Zeidler and his wife. Zeidler’s outburst resulted in him breaking and cleaning up a glass which made Oskar remember his glass shattering days, minus the clean-up after. Before Oskar takes his leave of them to go to his room he demonstrates some acrobatic moves to show how healthy he is since Zeidler asked how he stayed so small and also about whether he still played the drum attached to his suitcase which he didn’t care whether he did due to his absence from the house on most occasions, which didn’t impress upon Oskar since he played little, if at all. Oskar begins to think of the nurse which he admits is an obsession he can’t and doesn’t want to give up on. Bruno believes only men make proper nurses since they give particular care and sometimes are cured whilst women have the ability to seduce the patient sometimes to recovery and sometimes through “seasoned” erotic death.

Oskar won’t let Bruno’s view mar his of lady nurses though, due to being saved by them every few years. Oskar believed Bruno’s opinion was a professional jealousy. He then lists all the nurses he’s loved and been saved by through the years until the one he’s rooming with is related. He explaining having to take a bus which brings him straight to the stop which picks up nurses and it’s the same as his own and at first he acts with distaste to them, but than hunts them, essentially for their smell coming off the uniforms. He begins noticing them pass him at work which costs him an indiscriminate amount of money. After, Sister Dorothea, the nurse rooming next door begins to catch Oskar’s attention more by her noise of coming and going. He also has a tendency to check the door whenever he hears her and when the mail comes, he would take special interest in what she received. Obsessive little Oskar even has an inventive fantasy involving becoming a physician to be closer to Dorothea. Oskar goes on to say how his whole life wasn’t completely overrun by nurses and how he had to stop inscribing tombstones once the summer semester started at the Art Academy. He teamed up with Ulla once more and they both made good wages from modelling. Lankes has left Ulla to which she easily forgot by immersing herself in the art of Meitel; she believes her relationships will be long-lasting and serious. She did learn one thing stuck from him and their engagement, which was an extended vocabulary which she tested on Oskar, after which another artist began collaborating ideas of Oskar’s which eventually included the addition of a nurse being portrayed by Ulla.

One day though, Oskar tries Dorothea’s door, which is unlocked and he decides a bit of breaking and entering is in order since half the job was already done (her room was unlocked already). The room is described in a dilapidated way and Oskar identifies the smell he’s been noticing is vinegar and then wonders if perhaps she’s been having to use her meager sink to wash her hair with said liquid considering she may not have been able to use the more pleasant accommodations of the hospital bathroom facilities. He then discovers her hair color and she might be losing her hair to which, in his blind love of her, he wants to help her with by supplying her with some hair treatments as soon as he can. Then he takes some of her hair from a comb and stores it in his wallet, removing what was in there to make room. After slight examination of her bed he decides to give in to the temptation of curiosity to look in her cupboard. Oskar deduces even more about Dorothea from the cupboard which fascinated Oskar, making judgments about the articles she did have and the amount of importance she must have had of them. Oskar then becomes intrigued by the type of books she stored in her hat compartment. He wanted so much to become a part of her cupboard area, he moved into an area which fit him perfectly and closed the doors most of the way shut. An item he discovers in the cupboard behind his back brings a reminiscence to him of his mother, Jan Bronski, and Matzerath when he was three. Dorothea’s belt reminded him of an eel from his memory. Oskar’s recollection expands to eclectic thoughts of his mother, which ranged from her singing a particular song to how she would gorge herself on a particular foodstuff until she couldn’t divulge in it any longer, to her graveyard of choice. Then it’s alluded he may have masturbated and smudged the belt to the point of needing to buff it to make it look like it did, before leaving her room. Cheese and crackers, nasty little Oskar.

Oskar becomes quite interested in learning who a Dr. Werner was to Dorothea and searched her books for an inscription or picture and found neither, which pleased him since he seemed to have the upper hand in personal details about Dorothea. Meanwhile another tenant, Mr. Munzer seemed to want to get Oskar’s attention to which Oskar failed to notice nor care due to being consumed with Dorothea, but he did feel a little guilty after, since talk with Mr. Munzer would at least break the lonesome monotony. After a few days past, he continued his modelling with Ulla and they posed as different Greek mythological gods and demigods. Not long after, he was getting the mail and noticed a letter from Dr. Werner and Mrs. Zeidler set it at her door and Oskar bided his time calmly and then boiled some water to steam the letter into opening, the little blighter. He learned Dr. Werner did have feelings for Dorothea even though his letter was extremely conservative in intimate details. When finished he reseals it and leaves the letter where he found it, then hears Mr. Munzer speaking to him from the other end of the hall asking for water. Oskar makes an excuse for himself to comply with the request since he didn’t think it right to do it because he asked unless he were ill. Mr. Munzer or Klepp as Oskar began to know him as, had such a pungent aroma, from his first moment well into the times he would come to visit Oskar in the hospital which Bruno would open every available window once he left (similar to a character in Kingdom, another Stephen Fry TV show). Klepp, at the time of his bedridden-ness had taken to pissing in empty beer bottles; his living in filth is quite extensive. Oskar, at the time, introduced himself as Matzerath for some reason, since he was feeling humiliated at the moment. Only on rare occasions did he use the name Bronki, usually using his Grandma’s name Kojaiczek or by his first name. Klepp looked older, but proved younger than thirty.

Oskar then is told by Klepp of he believing in destiny, but doesn’t believe everyone may be born for a reason since he was certain he was born by mistake. He also discerns the length of Klepp’s stay thus far at Zeidler’s. They agreed it was a shame they hadn’t met sooner and blamed him for not mentioning it sooner. Oskar then learns the reason for Klepp’s being bed-ridden is because he’s determining the state of his health…(Okay). Then Oskar shares a pot of spaghetti which would make anyone pause, if not throw away all set before him and run to the nearest five star Italian restaurant, but Oskar, bless his heart, first stared and then ate it down like a little champ, then to his surprise and my disgust and dubiousness, enjoyed the contents. Oskar and Klepp share their interest as they get to know each other spending their day together, then Oskar decides to pick up his drum once more for Klepp and to Oskar’s surprise and pleasure, Klepp joins him with his flute. After finishing their impromptu jam session, Klepp gets up from bed and washes himself, like a purification process, then they congratulate each other warmly, for their musical moment was to them, like a resurrection. Klepp’s new lease on life had everything to do with Oskar deciding to team up in his jazz band idea. He bacame a new man, but because of this, Oskar believes Klepp is trying to do the same for him, to get him out of his mental hospital bed, because he had “deprived” him of staying in his own. Oskar is then mentioned to possibly not being in his bed on his own recognizance, but also because it was court-appointed and so Klepp, besides his futile attempts of convincing Oskar out of bed, also petitions the court, all because Oskar begrudged Klepp of his own and although they had the two of them in the band, they felt a guitarist was needed and took pictures and enjoyed the movie theater a lot. In the end, Klepp found a wife instead; ha.

Bobby, who led a dance band in a bar would let them play with him sometimes because he got a kick out of Oskar’s drumming even though, he also was a percussionist, despite a finger missing on one hand. Oskar meanwhile, was getting distracted with thoughts of Dorothea during their gigs and so would miss his cue periodically. Klepp would misconstrue these moments as hunger pangs and order sausage. Oskar let him believe this was so as to let him torture himself with thoughts of her independently from Klepp. Oskar had also given up modelling unless with Ulla, who was engaged to Lankes for the Nth time, but only if they needed cash for more movies, otherwise Oskar was dedicated solely to Klepp’s band. He also rarely visited Maria and Kurt since her new husband stayed present.

Klepp and Oskar then had a task of tacking down a fiber carpet-runner for Zeidler so as not to break anymore glasses, so when they finished and tested it, they were in the midst of congratulating themselves, when their doing so put Zeidler in a spiteful tantrum and began breaking glasses. After this Oskar finally meets Sister Dorothea. It was after a late night with Klepp and having left him to continue the search for a guitarist, Oskar goes home with the intention of sleep and failing to do so, comes up with the idea it was due to having stood on the leftover coconut-fiber mat and the stimulation had perked his brain into restless activity. He hears two doors of the front half of the home open and close and decides it’s Klepp, though not believing it at the same time. He resolves to actually stand on the mat since he kept thinking about it, then he uses it to cover his lower half, since he left his pajama’s at Maria’s for washing. He then enters the hallway and aims his trajectory for the toilet, determining one had occupied it already, but didn’t leave since it was the only un-fiberless-carpeted area, to the dismay of the female sitting there already. Oskar tried to make a light bantering response to her scream and cries of him getting out in the hopes of distracting from the awkwardness. She wasn’t having it and tried to push Oskar out, but aimed too high.

When Maria re-aimed lower and felt the fiber she screamed again and thought Oskar an evil entity, which amused Oskar when she asked again who he was. Oskar playfully goes along with her feared presumption and reveals to her he’s Satan, coming for her which makes her ask the reason and Oskar, given the opportunity to confess the truth, replies he’s in love with her, which Sister Dorothea wasn’t about to tolerate and said so. Then when trying to escape, she runs into Oskar and the pelt and his body made her feel faint. She fell and Oskar helped guide her descent onto the carpet outside the toilet. He continues his joke in the hallway and tries to “excite her with the carpet he had used as cover for himself; what a little pervert. Meanwhile Oskar couldn’t get excited himself to his own embarrassment and tried to think of his past exploits to help him along whilst referring to “it” as “Satan”; in this case, suitable, but he couldn’t unearth the feeling. When she felt his skin and humpback, Oskar admitted the truth of his name and feelings for her. She responded with sad tears and left him sitting there and locked herself in her room, rightly so. Then Oskar, still not having given up, goes to her door and scratches at the front whilst hearing what must be her packing up her belongings to leave; sensible lady. Oskar gets this confirmation when she opens the door finally, kicks him aside and leaves, to Oskar’s dismay. He also has woken the Zeidler’s with all the noise and should leave the hallway for his room, but he stays lying there whilst Mr. Zeidler instructs him he should get to his room, and when he stays silent, unmoving, admits to Oskar they should put him out because of his behavior, whilst Mrs. Zeidler giggles until being told to be quiet by her husband who is getting properly rageful, but Oskar is saved by the entrance of drunken Klepp with their equally drunken new guitarist. They pick him up and dress him, then get his drum on him and take him out as he continues to wax woe. They sit on the river Rhine and jam, during which they come up with a name and Oskar treats them all to breakfast.

Oskar and the band liked playing alongside the Rhine so much they befriended a restaurant and nightspot owner through mutual environmental interests. Whilst they played, Schmuh, the owner, “hunted” sparrows. They didn’t start off friendly, though and had met whilst both were occupying space in the area. Schmuh had been annoyed of their playing scaring away the birds whilst Klepp complemented his rhythmic shooting perfectly in time with their music, making Schmuh pleased. Schmuh’s wife thought it would be serendipitous if he employed them at his restaurant and he agreed. Klepp negotiated their salaries to everyone’s satisfaction. The Onion Cellar, was a newer higher class restaurant nightclub which a list of other quirky sounding titles are listed. It was like any dance club one would wait in a line to get into these days. The Onion Cellar was actually at one time a ground-level apartment, so whilst it didn’t have a cellar, the name still suited the place. (Similar to some cafe’s and restaurants in downtown Phoenix , as I’m told and I’m sure, as well as other interesting cities, but couldn’t say off the top of my head.) Anyways, a summary of The Onion Cellar and how artsy and classy it is follows, along with the other restaurants, old and new in the vicinity, the impression being about the reason for The Onion Cellar’s popularity revolving around Schmuh, a shawl and the entertainment he gives and interaction with the guests.

It’s then shared why the place is called The Onion Cellar. (I also found a pairing of food I have yet to try, but am curious about: Onions with apples, and/or onion rings; I like the idea.) Also there’s a second, more “human conditional” reason people flock to The Onion Cellar, a sad and pathetic one, but still a reason we struggle with in this century as well. Meanwhile, Oskar and the band, have their out-of-the-way sitting spot and hear all the people confess here and Oskar goes on to mention a few guests appearances as well as a favorite confessor. Oskar is one strange character himself, suffering abuse from the same person the confessor spoke of. All for love, interestingly enough. Oskar loses both big toenails because of it. Oskar also speaks of a young odd-couple who meet through the train and end up at The Onion Cellar. (It worked out quite well for them, which I believe, the first couple had a good outcome as well.) The band was there to help get the people back to normal and move on for the next group to come in. Quite odd reasons for a band to be hired, but this seems to be Grass’ shtick. Also like certain jobs, the band had a clause forbidding them to use onions how they are used in The Cellar, which suited all of them one way or another: Oskar had his drum to help him, Klepp was backwards and didn’t understand the right time for such emotions, and Scholle was too happy of a person. I can identify with all three, some moments are easier to laugh at, plus a sunny/realistic disposition doesn’t hurt.

Then after Schmuh’s wife gets a hold of an onion whilst with her friends Schmuh is partial to, she confesses terrible habits he had making him give an extra round to the group after his wife and her entourage leave, which makes everyone go crazy to the point of Schmuh asking Oskar to do something since Klepp only found amusement in the debacle and Scholle followed Klepp’s suit. Oskar drums them like the pied-piper to get themselves together, out the door and apparently thinking they’re kindergarten age making them all have a surprising reaction, which stays with them, including Schmuh well after releasing them, leaving them all wet, but not worse for wear.

Schmuh couldn’t forgive Oskar his charade, though since it didn’t include the “power” of his onions. He fired Oskar and the band then goes so far as to hire a fiddler passing for a gypsy, but when complaints and steadfast refusal to continue attendance at The Onion Cellar from regulars, Schmuh had to accept a compromise. It being only to play three times a night with the fiddler playing three as well, plus a raise and tips. It goes well until the day of Schmuh’s death. The Schmuh’s and band had gone on a Rhine outing. On this day Schmuh goes against his 12 cap limit, the dope. When they’re ready to leave, Oskar decides to stay for a walk instead and they go on without him. Oskar takes the same direction and soon sees the Schmuh car overturned with only one serious victim. The reason behind the crash is reminiscent of The Birds, except with sparrows. At Schmuh’s funeral, his widow still in the hospital, Oskar is approached by a doctor who was a guest at The Onion Cellar and present for Oskar’s regression session, wanting to offer him a contract as a solo drumming act to perform large concerts for equally large sums of money. Oskar would have done so if not so shortly after Schmuh’s death and declines until a healthy mental-health vacation is had, to think it over. Oskar does accept an advance along with calling card, though and goes on his trip with Lankes, preferring Klepp, but hospital-bound and also Maria, but she would have had to bring Kurt and they both were still tied to Stenzel. Oskar also wanted to invite Ulla, but Lankes hi-jacked the offer as well as boxing Ulla’s ear for considering going. Oskar was now on vacation with Lankes and they head to Normandy where a taste of how stingy he is being related. He had brought his easel and Oskar his drum along with luggage.

They stayed on the Atlantic Coast and Lankes traded his picture for a fish, which Oskar cleaned and made ready to cook as Lankes found wood and cartons for himself to paint on. Lankes then, needing to make sure he got the best of everything wanted Oskar’s opinion as to which side of the fish was best, Oskar gave him the advice he remembered from both of his parents, which conflicted, and of a doctor which Lankes didn’t trust the advice of, anyways. He does the opposite of the doctor’s advice to be safe, but it didn’t fully satisfy him until not only did Oskar offer him to try his piece, but reassure him his tasted better, after trying his in turn. What a Seinfeld; his mother told an anecdote where he wouldn’t accept a slice, but wanted the whole pie or nothing at all. Then Lankes informs Oskar he ran into Lt. Herzog and how he’s been going to Cabourg for years and would visit them, which he did, surveying the area and then trying to inspect inside their nature-made abode, which Lankes refused to allow him to do. When Herzog wouldn’t take no for an answer, Lankes puts him on his back with fork from fish still in hand. Then Lankes made sure he got the point by dragging him, then tossing him over a dune. Herzog made a quick exit after. When done reminiscing about some nuns Lankes and Oskar had met way back when, some real nuns come walking along the beach, one young, far ahead of the others, which Lankes keeps an eye on from the start. At first she declines the advances and follows the others calling to her, but when the nuns are ready to leave, she makes her way back on pretense of shell-gathering for children and does naughty business with Lankes in their hut. After she leaves to go swimming, Lankes detects inspiration in her being a nun along with titles for the art inspired by her which he makes some success from which prompts Oskar to call up the doctor to do likewise for himself. Klepp was feeling spurned because of Oskar’s growing lack of interest to playing jazz, until he discovers a replacement.

Oskar discloses how he couldn’t consider moving back in with Maria and how he’d occasionally drop by the Academy as a guest model. Ulla, proving to be a ditz or at least in the eyes of Oskar, dropped Lankes again because he kept cheating on her and didn’t beat her any longer; odd. Oskar seemed to be struggling with the idea of calling Dr. Dosch and so tore up his card to realize it was engraven to his memory. He was obsessed with the thought of calling, he finally did and was asked to come in the same day to meet with the boss. When he arrives he’s surprised to see Bebra in an interesting condition. Bebra begins by going through all the terrible acts Oskar’s committed. A contract is then set before him which allowed him to drum in concert and start touring. Though Oskar had the money advanced to him to move, he stayed on for Klepp’s sake who didn’t like Oskar’s official contract dealings, but Oskar didn’t care. When he started his tour, the publicist had made him out to be a faith-healer and so the crowds were drawn to him were of the mid-to later years. Oskar became so popular, a word was made from his name. After his third tour he made a studio album which made him a rich man, but he still didn’t move out of Zeidler’s, because of Klepp and due to the room where Dorothea resided. Oskar decided to proposition Maria with a promise most would consider difficult to refuse: He’d finance her own delicatessen if she didn’t marry Stenzel. She, being a proper business-woman, goes for it and now has two branches.

Oskar then has a nice inheritance given to him after learning Bebra had died many weeks before whilst he was touring. Due to grief, Oskar cancelled some tours without giving sufficient notice and was sued. To make matters worse Klepp had decided to get married and didn’t invite him, then left Zeidler’s, Oskar being the only tenant left. Zeidler had begun to treat Oskar with respect once he became famous. To prevent further depression and/or loneliness, Oskar rents a rottie named Lux and he’d walk him in the hall. They also ended up walking the Rhine where Lux would lead him. Oskar began disliking Lux’s loyalty, even when setting him off the leash, the dog still following and when Oskar kicked him and the dog would run, he’d loyally return, acting guilty. At one point at a rye field, he gets the dog to stay gone for longer and reminisces until noticing, upon Lux’s return he has some object of doggie desire with him. It turned out to be something of human relation and so Oskar took the object with him and then Vittlar, noticing Oskar and dog, compliments the dog. Oskar, not in the mood for conversation with Vittlar asks him why he’s up in a tree, and he responds it’s to do with apples. Oskar gets more annoyed when he’s dragged into an allegorical conversation and Vittlar asks what Lux found in the rye field. He continues to question Oskar until getting to his point, since he had seen more than he’d let on. Oskar, after being properly introduced to Vittlar, called him a friend from then on, even though Vittlar had, after turning him into the police. Then Vittlar’s testimony in court is shared, during which Oskar is described acting oddly with the object found, making stops to drop off Lux and visiting Korneff. Oskar then informed Vittlar of his intentions to keep what was found, giving his reasons.

After ending their day and making arrangements to meet again, they meet up three days later with a surprise for Vittlar from Oskar. Soon it is identifed whom the object belongs. Vittlar goes on to testify the goings on after they had commandeered a streetcar and thus ran into someone about to be executed from Oskar’s past from the post office during the war and the execution was going to take place where Vittlar’s mother lived near the rye field, which both protested. When Oskar drums at the execution though, it puts them off and Vittlar becomes bothered by Oskar’s indifference to success, which Vittlar hadn’t experienced, this being when it’s realized the reason it being Oskar whom was given up to the police and how they still could have stayed friends. Then a jump to present and on Oskar’s 30th birthday, his lawyer gives the news the police reopened the case due to uncovering the real culprit of the crime, to Oskar’s dismay. Now he’ll have to leave his comfy, life-blocking bed, which he’d stayed in for nearly 2 years and contemplated going to America to be with his Grandfather. Then it seems Oskar has the longest elevator ride as he awaits to be arrested and also at present contemplating his future and what to do now he’s thirty. He seems to digress into nervous confusion and being obsessed by running into the black witch and the poem accompanying it. Strange story, vast and not half bad with its winding interlinking characters.