My Review of Book Thief

I’ve decided to start reviewing books here–at least for as long as it’s summer and I have enough time to read whatever I darn well please. If you find yourself wondering what to read next, give Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief a spin. 

I bought my copy of The Book Thief at my favorite bookstore in the country–Village Books(Fairhaven, WA–an unfortunate location for me; I’m lucky if I make it there more than once in a year).

At once poetic and straightforward, hilarious and tragic, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief  (despite the desperate circumstances of its setting) is bound to bring about a strange and unexpected nostalgia for childhood; for those innocent years when you believed nothing truly horrible could ever happen to you, or your friends, or loved ones. This nostalgia does not lose its value even as the innocence of the book’s young characters begins to slowly unpeel.

The Book Thief tells the story of  Liesel Meminger who, at the story’s outset, is illiterate. Nevertheless, an inexplicable compulsion leads Liesel to steal a book left lying in the snow beside her younger brother’s fresh grave. As it happens, the book is entitled The Gravedigger’s Handbook, and from it, Liesel will learn to read.

Continue reading “My Review of Book Thief”

Slow Down Without Stopping

Something about these long, warm June days makes me want to slow down, slow everything down. My motivation  melts like an ice cream cone in a child’s hand on a bench, in a park, in the ripples of sun that cast themselves down on us through the screen of shimmering, green leaves.

I come to my computer: to write, to work, to pay bills–activities that I allow my mind to label “chores,” activities that I approach with more anxiety the longer I procrastinate on them.

You see, as the days lengthen, with light stretching itself long into evening, far past 9:00, I feel that time itself is lengthening, stretching its legs, slowing, pausing.

I am swimming in memories of the summers of my youth, when it seemed the days lasted forever, and the beginning of the next school year felt a lifetime away. I spent those long, hot days among stacks of library books, hungry for words, turning pages quickly, eager for the other-world escape a child finds so easily between the pages of a book.

Today, I awoke and wanted nothing more than to lie in bed for several hours, floating between the time of dreams and the time of focused work, my nose buried in a book.

Continue reading “Slow Down Without Stopping”

Get Up And Walk The Walk

“When I wake up in the morning, I feel just like any other insecure 24-year old girl. Then I say, ‘Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.’” -Lady Gaga

I absolutely adore this quote. It applies across the board–you don’t have to be a grammy-winning superstar in order to hold yourself accountable to walking your walk.

(While not particularly fond of the word “bitch,” I’m a wordsmith & word-bender, so I think any word has its place at a given time. As in, “Bitch, you’re [insert your name here], you get up and walk the walk today.”)

Just try it–say it to yourself. Personally, I really like the b-word at the beginning, but if that’s not your thing, replace it. (In my opinion, it just doesn’t ring the same when I say “Silly goose, you’re Jess Morrow, you get up and walk the walk today.” But do your own thing.)

Continue reading “Get Up And Walk The Walk”

Us Vs. Them: Variations on a Theme

September was a rough month for our college family. We were hit with the one-two punch the anniversary of 9/11 and a tragic van accident which resulted in the deaths of 3 of our friends. Soon after our campus was besieged by a plague of hyper-Calvinism. For awhile, it seemed like every other week another friend was “coming out Calvinist”. I couldn’t help but feel that this was an emotional response to recents events. Naturally, they believed my rejection of these doctrines was emotional as well. I was so adamantly opposed that one student suggested I might be a vessel of wrath. The arguments had become ubiquitous. Charity, civility, and friendship were casualties. It wasn’t long before I grew weary of fighting and so I retreated from fights believing they could not accomplish anything.

“Peace, peace’ they say, ‘but there is no peace.’” Jeremiah 8:11 Continue reading “Us Vs. Them: Variations on a Theme”

I am a hopeless word lover

If you know me, then you certainly know, too, that I am a hopeless word lover; I drown myself in words. I collect quotes & I copy beloved poems by beloved poets, living and dead, into my own personal notebook, so I can have the most lovely of lovely words close at hand any time, I use my quotes at work, when I blog and even used them when I have recently taken the aptitude test.

Many of you are certainly familiar with Albert Camus‘s quote: “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there was, in me, an invincible summer.” 

So, as a woman with a stack of notebooks filled with beautiful words, how did I choose Camus’s quote to influence my blog and (dare I say it?) my “brand?” Long ago, I made the quote into a kind of personal mantra–the mantra for the hardest times, the darkest times.

I have written it on the inside cover of every journal I’ve kept, for years–I don’t even know how many years it’s been. Five or six, I’m sure. I made it my personal email signature years ago, too.

In essence, I’d call this quotation my motto. These are words I live by. Let me tell you the story of how I became completely hooked on yoga.


Continue reading “I am a hopeless word lover”

Why You Should Write Whatever The Hell You Want

I’m going to tell you why you should break a lot of rules when you write, and break them good, and then see the people who made the rules eat their words.

Is there a genre of literature or music you feel averse to?

(Common answers to this question include: “I love all music … except rap.” “I love all music except for country.” “I love to read but I can’t stand science fiction.” “Romance novels are stupid.”)

The reason we get turned off to little “niche genres” is because they’re popular enough to have grown their own collection of clichés and formulas.

I once had a brilliant creative writing instructor—I took at least six workshops with her, in both fiction and creative nonfiction.

Brilliant though she was, this woman had a rule, written right into the syllabus—no writing in “niche genres.” (This meant: no horror, no fantasy, no science fiction). She wrote other rules in, too, warning us of cliché pitfalls that freshman writers typically made, and that we were to avoid. (Chiefly, we were warned never to write a story about a person trying to write a story, and never to write a story about an animal that talks).

Continue reading “Why You Should Write Whatever The Hell You Want”

The story of why I may never leave my bedroom

Ok, well, we’ll get to that story shortly, but first, I must again comment on the exhaustion of a pregnant lady. I used to think I was tired, but no. You do not know TIRED until you’re pregnant.

Friday, I worked from home, and by worked from home, I mean, visited my girl and partner in motherhood and her twin girls and ate pizza. Kidding. In reality, I did both. I came home Friday afternoon and napped, and then we went out for a quick dinner, which I ate 2 bites of and took the rest home. During the 1st month of pregnancy, I could eat anything, anywhere, anytime. Now as I’m ending month #2, I find myself hungry occasionally, but unable to eat much of anything at one sitting. I eat my meals in stages. Then we came home and I showered and went to bed at 7:30.

Continue reading “The story of why I may never leave my bedroom”

Barcelona Fashion

My friends and I were sitting in a bar in Barcelona, watching Spanish girls walk by. We had been noticing their innate sense of style since we had arrived in Spain four days earlier.

“If I could throw out all my clothes and start over, I’d start in Spain.”

“I mean, look at them!”

It was true. It was hard to explain, exactly. They didn’t have the obvious fashion sense of the French or the perfect beauty of the Italians. You could never guess the next thing a Spanish girl was going to do.

Most of them, including the boys, had strange haircuts. On the boys, it was mostly the European semi-mullet like soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, but the girls had all sorts of styles going on, mostly having to do with one part of their hair being severely shorter than the other. Their bangs were super-short while the back was long and curly, or one side was long and straight while the other was cropped right up next to the ear (and this was before the “Posh” cut.) Continue reading “Barcelona Fashion”

A Tribute: Alexander Mcqueen

Alexander McQueen knew since childhood that he wanted to be a fashion designer. Now a famous household name, McQueen has come a long way from his early childhood as the son of a taxi driver growing up in East London, to become one of the most prominent British fashion designers.

In his youth, McQueen had already begun to design clothes for his three sisters, certain that this passion would become his career. At sixteen, he got his first job in the fashion industry: an internship with a tailor, where his clients included Prince Charles. At twenty, he moved to the Italian fashion capital of Milan, where he began working for Romeo Gigli. He later went on to receive a Masters degree in Fashion Design from Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design in London.


Continue reading “A Tribute: Alexander Mcqueen”

Bruce Mozert: Underwater Photographer

Likely it is fair that we suspect most photographers carry on long love affairs with their cameras. Bruce Mozert, though, cared only to trick his. And by devious theatricality, great art was served.

With his coal-hauling business in Scranton spoiled by floods, Bruce joined his sis in the big city, where she introduced him to photographer Victor DePalma of LIFE Magazine. Suddenly Bruce’s course was redirected with a pledge to the image, and he took up an apprenticeship with DePalma. When it was discovered that the novice had real talent, he was sent out on assignment, covering beauty pageants, sporting events, even the Hindenburg disaster. Continue reading “Bruce Mozert: Underwater Photographer”