By Malia Mendez
Because I have tried my hand in pseudo-STEM classes this quarter, I haven’t entertained my words-obsessed self in a while. This is my attempt to do so and share a bit of word porn in the process. Disclaimer: considering limited dorm space, I’m in long distance relationships with a significant number of my favorite books, so this list is shorter than previously anticipated.
“…well i guess everybody tells me i am too small and too slow to make a difference in this world but i am makimg a diference in my own world and i hope that is enough” — Jomny Sun, “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too”
Contrary to logic, the above gibberish words are intentionally misspelled. Jomny Sun’s book is honestly inexplicable, somewhere between children’s story and philosophical treatise. It’s so full of gold that it was nearly impossible to choose one quote, but this one was said by a snail who’s cute as hell and has encouraged me to help others even when my help feels inconsequential. I remember complaining to my mom once about how I felt that I’d never be significant in life because it was so hard to make your name memorable or become famous. She told me that even though her mom had died with little claim to fame, her life was significant. I guess the little snail isn’t far off.
“No doubt that it is true. Our dream of life will end as dreams do end, abruptly and completely, when the sun rises, when the light comes. And we will think, All that fear and all that grief were about nothing. But that cannot be true. I can’t believe we will forget our sorrows altogether. That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking. Sorrow seems to me to be a great part of the substance of human life.” — Marilynne Robinson, “Gilead”
From my favorite book of all time folks (!!!), this beauty is part of a letter that a father writes to his young son as he is succumbing to terminal illness. I don’t know for sure that we have this capacity to memorialize or bring significance to suffering, but it’s a good thought.
“She became, in her mind, a woman free of knots and cares, a woman running in the rain with the taste of sun-warmed strawberries in her mouth.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Americanah”
Once again, here is a book too replete with stunning reflections to represent with a mere sentence or so. Chimamanda is pure genius, and her novel traverses a multitude of difficult dialogues with grace and fortitude. However, this specific phrase had me spinning. Unfortunately for all of us, life isn’t always strawberries and running free in the rain, but this is the feeling I try to hold onto whenever I catch a glimpse of it.
“But the living poets express a feeling that is actually being made and torn out of us at the moment. One does not recognize it in the first place; often for some reason one fears it; one watches it with keenness and compares it jealousy and suspiciously with the old feeling that one knew.” — Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own”
Although no prose can ever truly describe what poetry is, Woolf comes closer than anyone else I’ve read has. The image of a tear out of someone encapsulates the confusion and pain in the process of trying to express one’s present moment. Words often prove insufficient and yet, poetry perseveres. Woolf encourages the creative heart in me that is still trying desperately to communicate the incommunicable.
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
This one warrants no explanation.
Contact Malia Mendez at mjm2000 ‘at’ stanford.edu.