Wednesday, September 27

Update on diplomatic relations with Bookholm.

In other news, I have finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and I strongly suggest you all read it. I loved it. In fact, I still love it. It fits in perfectly with real ideas and real things and is quite plausible, maybe even congruent with the generally more reliable sources of information about the wide world.

The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, was given me by my sister before I left. It is odd how cross-over fiction can be a definite article of sororital affection; the book is not only Arthurian but is also a central point in the X-men. Well, maybe not central, but still important. Very nicely done gift. It continues to make me giggle while keeping me still engrossed because I have a fairly good idea of how things were going on and what sort of clothes they wore, etc., all of which details are candy to my imagination (an imagination that likes to be generally realistic, or at least conceptually accurate).

I'm still reading The Vision of Piers Plowman and have only gotten up to the IXth "passus" or "step". It remains very confusing and ridiculously dated, but still very colorful and full of interesting descriptions of little episodes. I read some of it aloud to the laundrette last night and I daresay my pronunciation is improving at least a little.

Ovid's Metamorphoses and St. Augustine's Confessions are on my reading list for the term, so my mum kindly bought me paperbacks of them from a lovely store called Hodges & Figgis. As soon as I have a break from Piers (11 more chapters to go!) I'll start on them, probably Augustine first.

On-and-off reading is Chaucer's Knyghtes Tale, which I also have an audio.

Thursday, September 21

Tuesday, September 19

Ok I am going upstairs to pack.

For real, this time. Oh, and I have work to do tomorrow, drat it all. I hope people get their papers in. I hate failing people.

Moving boxes: not any more done yet!

I am a terrible packer. Procrastination is so easy, especially with YouTube and Google and Mindsay . . . Also my sister is making me things from yarn and I shall have many arm warmers. I don't want to pack anything.

Monday, September 18

Moving boxes: 5.5!

Doing better. Have packed almost all the books I intend to take with me, as well as stuff to treat myself when I get there, my favorite writing pads and pens, and the half-a-box is still my biggest box, the one with my clothes in it. I may have to have two with clothes in them . . . hope not . . . we'll see . . . for I will cram things into boxes with great aplomb!

Also I wish I had the presence of mind to go get LOST Season 1 dvds today but no. I forgot. Don't even have any new ANY episodes to watch. By the by, don't ever watch anything having to do with Grey's Anatomy or Desperate Housewives. I watched the "catching up" episodes from iTunes just to see what they are all about and all they are about is sex and conformist just-out-of-our-ordinary-goody-two-shoes-league drama. As far as I can tell. I still prefer LOST, which is about very exciting things that don't make sense.

Feels so strange to be leaving, actually leaving.

Moving boxes: 3.5!

I am leaving on Thursday! And I only have a few boxes packed! I think that there won't be more than 7, total, but still! I only have 3 1/2 packed!

Sunday, September 10

Love will set you free, right?

I've spent a lot of my life trying to quietly grease the squeaking cogs and wheels of the relational machine.

It starts with the people you know that need a small service; I began by helping a mother feed her three children. It was a busy time before our evening bible study and the church building was buzzing with people on various activities. I had eaten lunch earlier in the same kitchen where I helped heat up mac & cheese in the microwave, grabbing a few spoons and running up to feed the kids in the all-purpose church-of-christ room that always smelled of stale coffee. It is simple enough to feed a child so that someone else might feed two, and the mother thanked me.

Then it went on to little things; I babysat for free, I worked in the church nursery (I can change diapers), I washed dishes at youth functions, I made chamomile tea for my adolescent sister when I knew she was upset. It wasn't as if I was opened to the world wholly as a human being and knew how to do the things that would express my love for those around me--I started small with the things I understood. I muddled much more than I helped, I'm sure, but I hope some of it showed through. I was starting to grow up of my own accord--and that, as I hope some of you will attest to, is not an easy thing.

I began to realise that my small actions and contributions to my limited sphere actually had to do with a deep-seated longing for the healing of other people. That sounds so poetic and so noble, but really; to my chubby, pony-tailed adolescent sensitivity, to see other people in pain of loss or grief or exhaustion hurt me more than the mocking and bullying at school, the burning embarrassments of whatever mistakes I made socially. Not only did I feel their hurt more keenly but I could also do something about their hurt when my own was something I knew not how to conquer.

So I bumbled and fumbled and did my best to be worthy. Even my hobbies began to revolve around healing people; I found happiness in having a garden. It was an herb garden--and as those who know me can imagine, it was based on medieval designs and medicinal purposes. I grew mints, thymes, oregano, chamomile, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, roses, honeysuckle, sage . . . the smells of warm herbs mixed with the smells of bread baking in the house and of the copse of pine beyond our fence is a memory that sustains me.

During that time we also had boarders at our house, sometimes up to 5 at a time, and 7 to 10 on holidays. Aside from having two sisters and two loving parents, doubling that number kept the household a busy place, full of adventure. Our boarders were constantly in and out on business, and some of them did not stay very long. One of the longest staying mistook my anxious care for a deadly emotional obsession that consequently embarrassed me highly, and another paid me the highest compliment of declaring that he should have been quite in love with me had we been the same age. I kept insomnia and sinus infections and headaches at bay with teas and inhalations, and everyday scratches as bruises were treated as much with my poultices as with antibacterial creams. I felt useful.

We moved, later, and I began to take other responsibilities. I did small things, like washing the dishes and folding loads of towels; I put up groceries and fetched things from shops and aisles when my mother went shopping (mostly for groceries). I earned good grades in my classes at my community college. I began to learn to cook. I learned how to drive, and then I could take my sister to her classes, go to the grocery store on my own, get our bottled water from the units down the hill, return rented movies and library books, and perform small tasks of trust and usefulness. I served food at our church soup kitchen, I cried and I prayed, I volunteered to speak about my experiences, I talked politely to a good many people I would much rather have avoided, and I supported my family and continued our familial quest of hospitality to strangers and those in need.

So much happens in my life, my misadventurous life, that I am sometimes boggled by my own actions and reactions. I do believe that I wanted the best for the people in my life, but I am sure that I let go so many opportunities to help other people that sometimes I look back and wish that I could have only known more. I am sure I was much too ignorant. I hope those who know me will forgive me for the things I have done or have not done . . .

I began to learn that much of love is endurance, patience, and constant, careful attention. Details like cups of tea or leftovers from dinner or clean sheets or remembering the names of grandchildren and pets--these are important to people. Sometimes I was upset over people I could not help, or the injustices of the world . . . people told me I cared "too much". They still tell me that, sometimes. Others that I care "deeply". I appreciate that, but I'm still not sure what they mean. And the words "I love you"! I am so exasperated with the English language; these three words have put me into so much trouble I can hardly recount the incidents individually.

Now that I have been considered "grown up" by my recent acquaintances and most of my older friends, I wonder if I have not erred and love improperly. One must find outlets for love somehow, or it becomes too much to bear and is overwhelming . . . is this what it means in the song when it says that "love will set your heart free"?

Wednesday, September 6

Dreaming again.

I had a dream last night; easily interpreted, if that is what dreams want.

See, I was with friends. I don't remember their names or who they were, but I knew them and I was equal to them and we were standing in a garden in front of a building at dusk. There was a warm sunset, fading to a cool night, and we were talking about where they were going--across the long gravel walk and down to watch the stage hands set up for whatever event was going on (a play or a band or maybe a game).

I said I would wait to go down because I wanted to see the sunset, and left the group to sit on the stone steps in front of the building (was it a house? a conference center? a church?). It had been a warm day, but one with a breeze. I knew that when the sun left us we would want other means of warmth, so I was planning, too, on bringing with me a pile of blankets and some communally shared hoodies. I was in a restful mood, so comfortable in the company of friends and knowing that the evening would be mellow.

I didn't realise until I turned to sit down that one of them had followed me--a friend of a different type of acquaintance than I'd had with the rest of the company--I think maybe I had moved away from the majority of the group and met in some foreign place this man of whom we had mutual friends. We had a different friendship, a singular one that involved much surviving, much waving through windows during the day and talking of books and morality over coffee after work--all this but not too much time. We had known each other about four months, I think.

He sat down close to me, rested his chin on my shoulder, put his other arm round me; I grasped his hand and squeezed it.

It felt so good to feel safe.

We watched the sun move to the very edge of the horizon, there was still a gleam left. Our friends could be heard very faintly as they laughed near the far edge of the green.

So safe, so comfortably, that even my normally hyperactive sense of personal boundaries was relaxed--normally I would be very uncomfortable with someone's chin on my shoulder. It didn't even shock me when my friend began to to kiss my face--three times, he kissed me--but before I might have turned my head to reach his mouth, I closed my eyes and told him to stop.

"Why should I stop?" He murmured, then sat back, his hand still resting on my back, not so much as embrace but a worried touch on an emotional pulse. "You didn't like that." He sighed. "I'm sorry."

In an oddly detached fashion, I was glad he had said "that" and not "me", but then another part of my mind said that only a selfish prig would have been concerned so much about himself. Another boost. My friends are unselfish. I love that about them.

"No," I said, "I liked it. But . . . " My emotions were kicking in, my wants and desires and principles and habits were all waking with a terrible urgency that overwhelmed my senses. I said his name. "Wait. We just . . . we have to talk about . . . this." Hearing the silence after my voice, the full darkness registered in my mind and I was reminded that our friends would be waiting for us. He raised his eyebrows.

"I'm sorry," I said; "I want to kiss you. But I can't--I have to know--I mean, I'm so used to believing the idea that even a kiss is a promise."

He gave me a puzzled look.

"That if I kiss you, that I love you. That I will love you."

He still looked confused; "Actions should stem from thoughts, thoughts stem from motives, motives from goals. I can't just kiss you. Even if I want to." I said this last with a smile, and he smiled with me.

"No hard feelings, okay?"

"Yeah, okay." He shook his head, and I thought he must be wondering why I impose such limits on myself, or why I had to be so illogical, or why I couldn't just kiss him and let it be a single, simple kiss.

"We should get going. I was going to go get some blankets and stuff to take down." I gestured towards the lights at the end of the walkway.

"Can I help?" Very unselfish of him to not run away. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps I should have kissed him. He probably deserved a few, having built up the credit with unselfishness points from using turn signals and accepting apologies for the last few years.

"You can get those pillows from the trunk in the hall. I'll get the blankets from upstairs." Were we in a hostel? It might have been a hostel, come to think of it.

We parted ways, and before running down the long hallway to the linens closet, I stopped in the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I was angry, upset, regretful, guilty, confused, and thankful that I had held my ground. I liked him, but my principles would always come first. Oh shoot--what if it really was something I was mistaken about? What if I was just mean to one of my friends? Was I being hypersensitive--again?

I tried to smile--I knew I would have to laugh and smile when we met up with the rest of the group--but my lips wavered and my eyes were certainly not smiling. Something caught my eye and I realized that the inside of one of my teeth was rotting, horribly rotting into a reddish-brown cavity. I ran my tongue over its jagged surface and winced. Then I remembered I was dreaming--thank goodness. I had read about this in dreams, and it probably just meant I wasn't comfortable with my appearance or performance or something--all of which were valid and true. I dismissed the idea and hurried on to fetch the blankets.

Coming down the stairs, I realized my friend had stayed behind to wait for me. Our eyes met, but I looked away, and we left the building together, walking over the dim green. I remember the feeling of walking across the grass, still warm from the light of a sun that had just set behind the line of trees.

Monday, September 4

Take the quiz:
Which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle are You?

You're mature and get the job done. You are a natural born leader, and normally want to be the better of the group. You take your job seriously. You must! It may NOT be a game. When you select a sport, or something you want to do, you train continueously, constantly trying to perfect it. You're always prepared for a challenge, and are normally found one step ahead of your enemies. Loving family more than life itself, you are a good friend, and can be depended on at all times.

Quizzes by -- the World's Biggest Yearbook!