Sunday, December 30

Saturday, December 29

I am going to have seafood chowder for dinner.

Post-holiday let-down has always been a speciality of mine; somehow I manage to get sick and have a lot of un-procrastinated tedious things to do all at once. Luckily I have some awesome new books to keep me in my imagination and out of pessimism. Here is a clip from one of them:

"The liturgy is the public worship of the church. The very word liturgy is from the Greek [unintelligible symbols I'm not sure how to type], meaning the work of the people. With few exceptions, save core pronouncements of Christ, the liturgy is a ritual founded upon the Church's interpretation of its mission. This mission seeks nothing less than transcendence, to create a timeless interval in an appropriate space where the laity and their God can meet in community. Although it sometimes has been viewed as a ritual entrenched in the past, the truth is that the liturgy has always been a mirror of its age. Liturgy always embodies a dynamic tension between tradition and innovation, between the faith and practices of one's ancestors and the charismatic power of the spirit in the Church. The changes in the liturgy during the Middle Ages--dictated by a host of factors, such as, for example, the reinterpretation of doctrine, increases in the Church's wealth, the growth of new religious orders, and the conversion of entire communities--often led to increased liturgical complexity."

"The Liturgy and the Literature of Saints' Lives", Thos. Heffernan
The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, eds. T. Heffernan & E. A. Matter
(2nd ed.; Medieval Institute Publications: Kalamazoo, 2005)

Thursday, August 16

I never did like the dining car.

He said something complimentary in a language she didn't understand and then continued delicately mincing his way through what appeared to be an ordinary trifle.

"And how did you like Paris?" He said it condescendingly, with the self-assured air of a smart traveller.

"Umm. It was interesting."

Considering that she had spent all but her first stormy day inside her hotel room curled up in foetal position over a case of food poisoning, she thought her judgement of the city a generous one. Fortunately her companion only pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows, nodding thoughtfully. Maybe he thought she hadn't words for the wonder that was Paris, or perhaps he thought her a rather postmodern female Tobias Smollett.

Outside the train, a tangled countryside was rattling away from them. She thought it would rain, soon.

She folded up her napkin and made as many signs as she could to indicate her imminent departure. After a few tense moments of social excuses during which she had the impression she ought to have been rescued by a concerned materteral relation--or someone dashing with a cane and implausible moustache--she escaped by way of a coughing fit.

Three cars down, a gypsy and two crying children later she fell into her own compartment. Thunder rolled and cracked outside, echoing the sound of the sliding door and its cheery click, and she felt a sudden rush of gratitude for the thermos of tea she'd packed in the side compartment of her rucksack. Five more hours!

Monday, July 16

Talking about talking rabbits.

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, July 11

Courage is what I chiefly need.

Mainly they place in a kindly light that style of courage--cold courage, 'moral courage', two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage--which our age is most prepared to venerate. (Shippey's The Road to Middle-Earth, 79)

True, true.

The right side remains right even if it has no ultimate hope at all. In a sense this Northern mythology asks more of men, even makes more of them, than does Christianity, for it offers them to heaven, no salvation, no reward for virtue except the sombre satisfaction of having done what is right. (Shippey, 156)

Amazing how Shippey pulls out themes of Tolkien's works. Frodo is nearly the embodiment of this. Poor Sam.

Nevertheless Tolkien was himself a Christian, and he faced a problem in the 'theory of courage' he so much admired: its mainspring is despair, its spirit often heathen ferocity. (Shippey, 157)


Thomas Aquinas on Fortitude.

It takes me forever to work through anything of Aquinas, so count on this as a valuable resource but not one I have completely researched or gone through.

The Catholic Encyclopedia on the Cardinal Virtues (of which fortitude is one).

Interesting input. I'm not Catholic and so have not studied the four virtues in any kind of depth as a group of four virtues. Interesting, nathless. I shall look into it further upon my third shot of espresso.

These lines are the most well known of the poem and seem never to be translated in the same way.

"The spirit must be the firmer, the heart the bolder,
courage must be the greater as our strength diminishes." (Scragg)

"Thoughts must be the braver, heart more valiant
courage the greater as our strength grows less." (Ashdown)

"Minds must be firmer, heart the keener,
courage the greater, as our might fails." (Greenfield)

"Courage shall grow keener, clearer the will,
the heart fiercer, as our force faileth." (Alexander)

"Our minds must be the stouter, our hearts the bolder,
our spirit the mightier as our power grows less." (Wrenn)

"Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener,
courage the greater, as our might lessens." (Gordon)

"Resolution must be the tougher, hearts the keener,
courage must be the more as our strength grows less." (Bradley)

"Mind must be the firmer, heart the more fierce,
Courage the greater, as our strength diminishes." (Crossley-Holland)


From 'The Battle of Maldon'. Incredible story. Tolkien translated it, too.

One may say that the wise characters in The Lord of the Rings are often without hope and so near the edge of despair, but they do not succumb. (Shippey, 158)

I wouldn't make me go into Aquinas on the subject of despair, because it is fascinating. However . . . ok, I won't. FINE. (Nobody loves me.)

Is it possible, one might wonder, to be 'cheerful' without any hope at all? Certainly it would hardly be sensible, but the idea rings true--it is corroborated by several first-hand accounts of the First World War [...]. Sam's twist on semantics is repeated by Pippin [...]. The realisation makes him, according to Pippin, 'sad but not unhappy', and to modern English semantics the phrase makes almost no sense, like hopeless cheer. However, an early meaning of 'sad' is 'settled, determined'; 'cheer' comes from Old French chair, 'face'. The paradoxes put forward Tolkien's theses that determination should survive the worst that can happen, that a stout pretence is more valuable than sincere despair. (Shippey, 159)

Interesting stuff. Will come back to this and Tolkien's 'theory of courage' when I have the time--also remember to look up the bits in Monsters and Critics which pertain to it. And Tolkien is awesome. In case you didn't know.

Thursday, June 21

Ghosts appear and fade away (over the woven waves).

'Even though you're a big strong girl,
The best made plans are your open hands.'
(Deb Talan's Big Strong Girl)

I like this song. In fact, there's a lot of stuff by her that I like. Comfort is another favourite.

I love my life here. It is right that I went away to begin growing up and away, I think, and right that I came here to start the process. There's a lot of things I'd like to put into words that sound hollow when I try to attach serifs and pixels to them. I'll leave them unsaid for now.

Especially at night I worry over situations that
I know will be alright--it's just overkill.
(Colin Hay's Overkill)

Those lines, too, make me laugh.

Thursday, June 14

Essay-writing highs.

I am at 1000 words in four hours and feeling a bit suspiciously confident. This is scary. I can basically trace some of my surefire flaws (the ones I always have to edit later rather than in progress). I know where my conclusion is headed.

Dude. This is the weirdest feeling. And I know LOTR so well that finding references is not hard . . . and the weird bits that don't quite make sense for the plot when you read it the first time through are actually so very well placed . . . you'd never guess until you need to think about how it all works. I still cannot believe how very tight and compact that book is.

Tolkien was such an incredible genius.

Yes, I am pulling an all-nighter. I have a meeting with my supervisor tomorrow. She says she wants to edit my paper for conciseness because there's a bunch of students having that problem right now (very valid with me, I know) but also I hope she will be excited about the thoughts in the essay as she considers Tolkien just as much candy as I do.

If I can stay awake. Tomorrow afternoon I am coming home to SLEEP.

Tuesday, June 12

An Apt Blog: because it wouldn't really be appropriate anywhere else.

I tried to speak up and say what I wanted and needed today, but it didn't really get heard or noticed. I got tired, so I stopped trying. Prolly not that great of an idea, the whole giving-up thing. People at home know me better and care for me more efficiently--right now I feel as if I am very hard to get to know.

It is not fun, being cryptic or whatever it is that separates me from other people so very much. Is it that I see it so starkly that makes me feel so isolated or is it that I am separated more than they are? It doesn't make sense to think I'm any different than the people around me, but it doesn't make any sense to treat myself the way they seem to treat themselves.

I almost cried several times today, just trying to understand and be understood about the simplest things; where I was going when I left the house, why I was mopping at 10 in the morning, what I was going to have for lunch.

So. Far. Away. So much of who I am goes on behind my skin.

And so busy. Alone, alone, alone, and unable to express myself. It is not anyone's fault that I feel this way but my own. How I hate emotions. God has a plan for them, some reason why I feel like my gut is being ripped open, but for my life I cannot see it. I always seem to have to be discouraging emotions as they seem to lead me in all sorts of the wrong directions, to selfish ends.

My peace is a restless and brooding one. It feels odd that I must fight for and adamantly defend my sense of peace and confident rest, but so it must be, I suppose.

A friend of mine was teasing me, yesterday, saying that I hate children. We both knew it wasn't true and that he was just joking, but for some reason a sensitive and volatile part of me wanted to lash out and tell him to hold his silence if the only thing he could say was something that would make me less like my friends. I want very much to be a part of a Christian whole, here, and I just can't feel it happening.

And I'm sitting in the Reading Room, crying at a computer screen. Brilliant. I am so very tired.

(Yeah, don't worry: tomorrow I will rest and be healed and get a bus pass and enough sleep and not wear shoes that give me blisters.)

Friday, June 8

Responding to a Comment.

In response to Amanda's comment on my post (, may I offer my thanks for her response. I meant the song lyrics to express emotion, and I do agree that truth is very important. I think truth and love are very closely intertwined.

Wednesday, May 16

Redford (a song by Sufjan Stevens)

Behold, I am a graduate student. I drink my morning cappuccino (iced, because the weather is warmer now) from an empty jar that once held Loyd Grossman's recipe of Tikka Masala. A large percentage of my flatmates eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. I ask questions that you can't find answers to on the internet but only in some old dusty books, some of which have last been read before the advent of highlighters.

I am fond of my thesis, and cannot explain it briefly to people who don't know a smattering of medieval lit. HOW AWESOME IS THAT. I love obscurity.

Saturday, April 28

I can hear the gulls but cannot smell the sea.

I'm just back from the market, getting milk, eggs and some brown bread to go with the vegetable soup tonight. And some apples to core and stuff with toasted nuts and honeyed dried fruits and then bake with whisky butter on top.

Perhaps I was made for living at home, quietly. Cooking simple meals and doing simple housework seems good to me. On the other hand, my life has been so adventurous that it seems I will never slow down. My mind is forever filled with the glory and filth of a thousand different cities.

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

I wish I could light a candle in my room, or have a fireplace. I need a cat. I love wool sweaters and thick socks, window-seats and the smell of books.

Props to Hopkins for the poem, of course; it is called 'Heaven--Haven' and subtitled 'A nun takes the veil'.

In response to the comment on the previous post:

I mean that I am sceptical of practice rather than theory. Love seems to be alright in books and in ideas, but when real people get their grubby little hands on it, makes the whole thing real and lopsided. Love is no fairytale, nor ever was it. That is what I mean.

Not that I mind it, of course:)

Wednesday, April 18

Somebody Loved.

I'm putting this together to prove to myself that I am only sceptical of living men, not love. Because I got teased again, last night, and I don't understand why I am so different. Again.

That ought to say something about what I think of romantic love.

Saturday, April 14

I could have told you this.

You Are 56% Nerdy

You may be a bit surprised with this score, but your more of a closet nerd than an actual nerd.
Stop denying your inner nerd! You're truly dorkier than you think.

Wednesday, April 11

Spring is glorious, here.

There are blossoms on flowers, new and bright and fresh--like lightning. There are fragile new leaves, children from gnarled branches of ancient trees. It hurts to look at it all in context; like some unveiled banner of a very powerful cause. I guess rebirth is a powerful cause. Easter is.

The grass is lively and soft and very, very bright. I took off my shoes the other day in the park, and stood barefoot in the grass. I had let my hair down (it was still damp from washing, but smelled sweet) to dry in the sun, and it felt good to let the sun shine on my face. I realised it had been awhile since I could step outside without the tip of my nose being consistently cold.

Wednesday, March 7

What you might consider the weirdest sororital weekend trip.

I've been thinking, lately, about a monastery in which I spent three days. It was a restful time I spent with my sisters, praying and talking quietly, thinking about things. They had home-made jams and whole wheat bread, and libraries full of books that were new 30 years ago, windows that looked out on sunny California, so luscious under the smog.

The monks that were resident there had travelled widely with missions and scholarly pursuits; they seemed to be on a journey rather than resting to look back at the past--it was that they stood up straight and lived as if the world still continued around them.

I remember being inside myself quite a bit, then--it was as if I had broken away from a societal dance and felt myself spinning in patterns suddenly invisible. My head crowded with whys, crowded with prayers, crowded with rest and plans--it was like gasping for breath after having run a long distance. I was hurried to rest:)

Once I woke late at night and felt uneasy and went to the chapel to pray. It was a time of silence after 10 p.m. and so I crept about on the tile and down the cloister walk to the modern part of the building down to the chapel where there are daily services. It is a great thing to have a place of worship set aside in the same building that holds your bed.

It was at that place I learned to like lighting candles for my prayers. It is not a necessary ritual nor is it something I do based on a teaching or a doctrine of anything but my personal understanding of the words of the prophets, apostles, and Christ. Freedom to pray is something I don't think most people comprehend as a valuable thing.

Of course, I separate the incidents of inner peace with the accompanying memories of the car breaking down on the way back, in the middle of a sweltering day in downtown Los Angeles. And again at a shopping centre (where there was an ice cream place, thankfully). And the little bickering spats of having sisters. And being mortally tired from not understanding what was going on in my world.

So, in my own Wordsworthian sense of memory and time, I keep those moments of peace; I keep the smell of the Californian wildlife in the garden in the morning while the Great Silence still held in the time before breakfast; I keep the vision of the sun setting beyond the library windows; I keep the sigh of relief when I realised in conversation that I didn't have to be defensive about having suffered; I keep the feeling of being surrounded by people who wanted rest and life and looked towards eternity.

Saturday, March 3

The guy who runs the sushi-&-miso stand at the market does not speak English.

I'm in a bit of a muddle, not wanting to write. It rarely happens, you know--as evidenced by my multiple blogs and regular upkeep of them--but right now is the 3/4-way mark of my time in Ireland, and ergo it is also the hardest. My morale is at a predictable low.

And don't even MENTION thesis topics. Thesis bad.

Anyway, I have been reading Gaudy Night bits and pieces again--mostly the bits with Peter or Lord St. George in them because they have a quick, witty sense of humour that does not take pages and subtlety to appreciate.

"For another person's sleep is the acid test of our own sentiments. Unless we are savages, we react kindly to death, whether of friend or enemy."

She must have thought the Greeks, the Old Ones of England, the Romans--maybe all older "civilisations"--as barbarians. But she doesn't mean that, clearly, unless she generalises savagery to all civilisations modern and otherwise.

"It does not exasperate us; it does not tempt us to throw things at it; we do not find it funny."

Now that is certainly untrue. Death is both exasperating and funny as much as it is an ever-open wound. If I may quote another, "Even the most appalling of realities eventually loses its novelty" (Penelope Wilcock). Also, I could quote the Road Runner on the same subject, except that the whole "meep meep" thing doesn't translate out very well.

"Death is the ultimate weakness, and we dare not insult it."

Tell that to Hector. Well, never mind; Achilles was a barbarian.

"But sleep is only an illusion of weakness and, unless it appeals to our protective instincts, is likely to arouse in us a nasty, bullying spirit. From a height of conscious superiority we look down on the sleeper, thus exposing him in all his frailty, and indulge in derisive comment upon his appearance, his manners and (if the occasion is a public one) the absurdity of the position in which he has placed his companion, if he has one, and particularly if we are that companion."

That is an interesting idea, isn't it? All it needs is some shaving cream and a feather.

Tuesday, February 27


One of the nicest smells to come across as a surprise, other than flowers and bookdust, is pipe smoke. Cherry or vanilla is best. My great-uncle used to smoke a pipe. I remember that he had stubble on his face; lighter than his hair and my skin was very fair. I was a toddler the last time I saw him.

My brother-in-law smokes a pipe, sometimes, except that he doesn't like it when we all crowd behind him and follow him around to catch the smell of warm cream and wood smoke that is the scent of whatever tobacco he uses.

Last night, when I was crossing our cobblestone courtyard, I caught a whiff of it and memories of Oxford, of Tennessee, of Cambridge and Kansas all flooded back and made me smile and breathe in that lovely smell. I don't understand why breathing in cigarette smoke closes up my throat and makes me croak for my inhaler when pipe smoke only makes me smile.

Once upon a time, a friend and I considered hiring a man to come and sit in our library and smoke a pipe of vanilla tobacco every week, and lounge about in a smoking jacket we could wear later in front of the fire. We considered, too, that he might wear a monocle and have a foreign accent. And then we argued for a little while about the best recipe for coconut cookies, and then went to work.

Thursday, February 22

And the world spins madly on.

Got work done today. Got good sleep last night. Still not used to being so alone, though I am liking it a bit more as I have begun to organise my day more into fits and spurts of activity so that it seems like I am always working and yet always taking breaks. Fascinating logic, I'm sure.

Last night, the Curly-Haired Liber-al one asked me about murals on the walls of churches for a footnote he was trying to add to something . . . especially in Italy . . . which was a bad idea, since I talked about Italy. At the end of the descriptions of the churches in my town and the bits downtown that he should also take his girlfriend to when (not if!, I insisted) they visit (Napoli and Venice, of course), he gave me a funny look. It was probably the longest couple of sentences I've ever said to him--I usually sit back and laugh at people when we are all together as a group. Guess he just asked the wrong/right question.

"Why the $%^ are you in Ireland!?" He asked. I did not sigh and say crankily or melodramatically explain that the answer to his question is complicated; I was very proud of myself.

I bought a jar of pesto, and did you know pesto expires? Being the thrifty person I am, everything I ate has had pesto in it for the last week. It's good pesto, but . . . well, that's a lot of pesto.

I end my day today unhugged, and feeling very much as if I do not and will never belong anywhere. I'm not sure that is a bad thing, but it is not nice right now. I miss my sisters telling me they love me; somehow it makes life a bit more worth living when people give you hugs on their way up the stairs.

Plus, I wouldn't have to eat all that pesto all by myself if my sisters were here. They like pesto:)

Monday, February 19

I DO have a purpose in life. I DO!

Representative Flatmate. "Yeh, the brownies won me over. YES! I will eat your cooking!"
Me. "Ha ha. Thanks. I only have two boxes left, I think."
R.F. "Ack! Where do you get them?"
Me. "My mum sent them. Can you get them here?"
R.F. "No! I thought you had a hidden shop, or something!"
Me. "Nope."
R.F. "This is terrible!"
Me. "Yep."
After a pause, the representative flatmate said, casually: "So . . . when are you going back, again?"

Thursday, February 15

Mulus gemit.

Allora. I have been studying everything in the world and sitting at a corporately plastic cafe only to come home to find out a little bit of why I have been put in this building. Amazing, yes? I love it when I can see that I have been put in a place for a Purpose.

So will my leek & potato soup leftovers here in a minute . . . I bought a cheese scone from Avoca (YUM!) and will be very fancy and snaffle an apple with cinnamon and vanilla cream for dessert. I am so easily pleased.

Also I am pleased by getting to study something in not Latin but Middle English! How lufliche! Gawain rocks. The Green Knight is awesome. Morgan looks like a sweet little grandma compared to the goth-emo drama queen Dido. Bless their little hearts.

Without further ado: another iTunes mix.

Tuesday, February 13

My Own Heart

I woke up this morning, having slept overlong, with tears on my face and my pillow all wet. I thought perhaps I had cried myself to sleep (what over, I wanted to know!) but then I remembered my dream: one of my sisters had died and I was the one who had to arrange the funeral and be put-together. Talk about a nightmare.

I haven't left my building all day today, but I have been getting work done. Lots of work. But not enough work.

One of my favourite and most awesome profs from my previous uni and I have exchanged e-mails. I still need to keep up a million other correspondences.

I want to work well and hard and do good things, but I can't even understand what it is that I need to know . . . there will never be enough.

I can never do enough.

Before I begin to root around for some eyeliner and a studded belt, let me give you some Hopkins (because the man just rocks). The last line still confuses me but I think I get the rest.

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.

I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst's all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size

At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
's not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather--as skies
Betweenpie mountains--lights a lovely mile.

Monday, February 5

I went to the zoo, but there was no chocolate muffin exhibit.

I realised about 3 p.m. that I had eaten very little but coffee and pastries all day. This came to my attention because I could no longer think and had begun to seriously doubt my ability to draw a straight line. Now, having eaten, I feel strangely over-full and ready for a long hibernation that involves the ineffable music of snoring and the harmonious joy of my radiator.

But the day was not bad at all. The 3 or 4 hours of morning classes were a complete bear and usually are, but I think that will change soon. Especially when I start sleeping on Sunday nights.

Life is strange, right now.

Valentine's Day (otherwise known as Singles Awareness Day and also Bad Poetry Day) will be fun; I'm planning to buy myself a novel or a movie and eat take-out from Wagamama, and also wear stripey socks. Joe once gave me a bouquet of lollipops for Valentine's Day. He would be pleased that he made me think of morose things on a commercial holiday, of course, but I miss him.

There are fifteen minutes until my cafe closes and I get to go back to the college to make myself a cup of tea, pour things into travel mugs and thermoses, and head to the 1937 Room to read everything that was ever written. Ever.

Tuesday, January 30

"So, your sister tells me you secretly want to be Irish."

This was a 'conversation-starter' proffered by a tourist friend-of-a-friend, noticing that my conversational skills were somewhat challenged by long day of research. I blushed and was speechless and had no trouble thinking of nasty things to say to him. Luckily the said sister, who would never have said anything of the sort, was also touched by his ignorance and steered the conversation away gracefully.

Anyone who has ever been an expatriate knows that the silliest thing you can do is to think you belong in a place.

Monday, January 29

And today I am supremely discouraged by my own mediocrity.

Time to sing emo songs and find more clean hankies, for your dar(l)ing correspondent is only average and like bajillions of other twenty-somethings, cannot find her place in the world of thoughts. The things she is fit and suited to do are not things which will support her house-dwelling or food-consuming habits, and the things she can do that would support her would also shrivel her soul into something pale and hungry. It's all a fairly simple dilemma, you know, and I'd like the sound of the acoustics if I didn't have to pay so much for it.

So, I can make pumpkin bread and do bits in Old English. That covers my competency game for the day. (The Old English exam was made VERY simple for us.)

Sometimes it just takes reminding myself that happiness is an externally motivated emotion, and that peace is something internal that I control. My limits and boundaries (elsewhere discussed) don't need to come into question every time I fail myself. It's all really very funny, the way I can see myself reacting to events.

Time to go hunt and gather a sandwich and a smoothie. And then to The Cretin for flowery tales of Courtly Luv. Please have the first billion pages of the Servian Commentary translated and in to me by Wednesday, and also . . . if you could pick up a copy of the long-lost non-existent copy of Donatus from a second-hand shop, it might be some nice secondary source material.

Saturday, January 27

Looseleaf chai & talkin' bout Luv. Courtly Luv.

C.S. Lewis and I have had our good and bad days, but when I want a good introduction to something I will certainly go to him for wit and references--The Allegory of Love and Mere Christianity, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia. Et cetera.

And I like what he has to say about love. Sandi, dear, if you read this you would appreciate the first chapter (at least--I've only read that far) as you have thought long and have experience with love in the ways he talks about it. It really does make sense, though--the ideas of conjugal love as something over full of erotic and emotional passion aren't common to any century.

And I am going to make vegetable soup and listen to the songs my Teh Gort has given me, for she rocks and is awesome.

Thursday, January 25

To other bloggers: this is very curious, indeed!

Go here and fill out this survey; these people seem to actually want to know things about us, and they are giving out very cool prizes! They must be inside our heads to try and give out a copy of 'Experimental Travel'. Read that anyway, it is interesting.

A review of the movie 'Shopgirl', or Alas! For the days of bubble baths.

I bought Steve Martin's Shopgirl from iTunes, the other night, wanting to be amused and not sure whether it was reckless to pick anything other than Breakfast at Tiffany's. I probably should have stuck with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard; Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, and Steve Martin aren't very identifiable.

Somehow I have a feeling that the book, if it is good, has a lot more description in it than could be translated to the screen. Martin does say that it is a character sketch, after all, and that fits it much better than the idea of an actual romance (that, it is not).

One of the reasons I wanted to see it was because of the scene--I knew California, once, and . . . well, the trailer had me thinking it would give a little bit of attention to what it's like to be watchful in California. But it didn't.

The cinematography looked neat, especially the way things blur into darkness at the edges when you're alone, and some things seem like warm crystal. Some few familiar personalities and objects stand out obstinately against their cardboard sets. It didn't all work out that way, in the movie, though; somehow it didn't seem congruent with the way we are all supposed to be wrapped in Mirabelle's (the heroine) thoughts.

I will also admit that Death Cab for Cutie's 'The Sound of Settling' played in the background, as well as the presence of Jason Schwartzman (of Rushmore fame!) also gave the movie hope to be that funny mix of poignance and irony that mainstream indie has given to the media (I wasn't looking for anything original; I just wanted to rest). But no. Steve Martin and Claire Danes had plenty of sex scenes, and the only real "aww" moments are the way Jeremy (Schwartzman) hugs.

So I bought 'The Sound of Settling' for 1/15 of the price of the movie (I already knew I liked Death Cab), and am contemplating picking up Martin's novel to see if he can redeem himself.

Next time I will just stick with Breakfast at Tiffany's. I hate not having a bathtub.

Saturday, January 20

Oatmeal raisin cookies.

I don't want to take a shower yet because my radiator is only just cranking itself up to belch a little heat out into its tiny corner. I may have just the presence of mind to wait until tomorrow AND LEAVE MY RADIATOR ON ALL NIGHT. Mwahahaha.

My day has been spent somewhat lazily, making oatmeal cookies and being philanthropic, and finding a very good tea shop that has excellent chai. And humming about, lazily.

Now it is late. I must to sleep. Away for dishes and a sweet dream . . .

Tuesday, January 16

The least bit of stress and I crumble. So strong am I.

I began this blog a little over three years ago in order to explain myself to the people who complained of me being a riddle (one of those obscure types of riddles that do not involve prehistoric jungles or bullwhips but only a doctrinal mysticism and copious amounts of what we like to call "growing up"). I continued it later on to make my days seem less dark than they seemed to be at the moment; this involved a lot of me strenuously keeping my opinions to myself and focusing only on the pointedly amusing within my day.

It is for this second reason that I blog today, but with different effects. The good in my day seems slight and uncomfortable; the pulleys and levers of my conscience are creaking with the strain of making sure I see it all. Today my new classes look heavy and unwieldy, my grades look low and unmanageable, and my future encrusted with bills and a woolly, muffling type of solitude.

All of these momentary perspectives intrude upon my imagination in a most abominable way. My nose is too big, my eyes too small, my feet too clumsy and my hands too . . . red. If I could paint a picture of what I see of myself in the reflection of the cafe window right now, even God wouldn't recognise me.

Must. Change. Attitude.

Oh, and we got the new class settled out. We will meet every Monday at 8 o'clock in the morning. I SEE, NOW, THAT I LIVE IN A FALLEN, FALLEN WORLD. I AM SORRY I DID ANYTHING, EVER.


Saturday, January 13

Saturday. Apple cider. Ham flavouring. Gildas.

If I didn't do laundry during the week, Saturday is The Day (like Today). I met no poets or other interesting characters this trip.

I cook some soups to put in the fridge for the rest of the week. This week is something new and weird and if it doesn't taste good I'm going to bury it in the Fellows' Garden and they can dig it up next year with the other giraffe skeleton(s?).

I try to finish up some homework. Nice book on Britain in the times surrounding the historical King Arthur. About half of it left that I might be able to get out of the way tonight. If not, tomorrow afternoon and nicely done with a cup of tea into the bargain.

Watching 'The [American] Office' makes me squirm. I think it's funny, sure, but GAAAAAAH. Like the British stuff better. Except I'd much rather just kick the TV altogether and continue nerdily surfing JSTOR.

I've given up the will to socialise. From now on it is going to be me getting my work done (like now, where I am blogging) and being a grad student until absolutely called to do otherwise by forces of procrastination or extreme philanthropy.

P.S. Yes, Geoff, your comments are e-mailed to me and I read them when I post. I just can't reply, here, unfortunately. Thanks for your comments, tho:) If you post them at Antipodes, I'll be able to reply with the whole threaded thing goin' on . . .

Monday, January 8

Let's not bicker an' argue about 'oo killed 'oo . . .

I'm tired, now, and I've made myself a cup of hot chocolate--the good stuff from Spain, called Colacao--and turned my radiator on. It isn't as cold as it was when I left Dublin but I like the heat as I get ready for bed and as I get ready in the morning; I just don't leave it on all night now.

Back to the world of being naive and socially awkward and perpetually absentminded. Back to the world of deafness, of semi-blindness, of trying to pass off a hundred and two confidences I don't have in myself. It sounds a little melodramatic, I know; in fact, I must sound quite emo to you. But since you are reading THIS blog rather than my creative writing one, you must want to know. And so, in Pythonic Damsellian tones, I'll tell you . . .

My lovely and well-comforted copies of The Four Loves and The City of Dreaming Books are nested with other books of my affection. I expect I shall spend time gazing into them if I can find the time to relax and read anything but textbooks. Which is not a bad thing, by the way. I like our textbooks. We get to read all the old stories. We know where the real books are.

Below is a playlist I made up of music I've been listening to lately.

The Dress Looks Nice On You (Sufjan Stevens)
Better Together (Jack Johnson)
Wrapped Up In Books (Belle and Sebastian)
Hands (Jewel)
Red Right Ankle (The Decembrists)
Lullaby (Jack Johnson)
I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You (Colin Hay)
To Be Alone With You (Sufjan Stevens)
At Least It Was (Emiliana Torrini)

Sunday, January 7

What you see is a reflection of the way you think.

One of my old childhood friends got married two weeks ago Saturday (I had to zoom in on the picture I was sent via email; she looks like me, a little). One of my new childhood friends just announced her forthcoming behitchment yesterday. My sister got married this summer. One of my best friends is hitched (I've known him several years longer than his wife has known him), another one almost was . . . How come everybody is getting married, I want to know.

I have a picture of me in a wedding dress when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old; it was a friend's mother's wedding dress she let us try on when we were looking for things to do on a rainy day. I kinda look happy, but I can't be sure. My little hands are clutched in the stiff white fabric, trying to show the fullness of the skirt to whoever was behind the camera. I have wispy brown hair and bangs! Well, no fringe-bangs, now--at least, they've grown down to my knees with the rest of my hair. And brown skin; I'm very pale, now. Did I even know it was supposed to be a wedding dress? Was I happy?

Right, I've done too many psychological indicators/examinations/tests; I think this exercise is supposed to be a self-applied Rorschach. Anyway, I suppose I ought to think about the idea. What good will it do? I don't know. But I do think it is a very important procrastinatory device. Back to the paper.

Saturday, January 6

The night-train to Venice.

I'm on the night again, but not to Sicily this time. Sicily would have taken me through a warm wet darkness, a ferry that would smell like oil, to a farmland smell of animals and damp pavement. No, not to Sicily. This time to Venice.

Venice will be a long ride in the dark, and it won't seem to change very much. Every now and then the train will stop and people will wake up or go to sleep and there will be white florescent lights for a moment, and then the voices and the lights will fade away into the darkness and the sound of the train with its rumbling path over the dark, and the whirring heater vents above us. And then the accents will change and the lights will get brighter, and Venice will open up before us with the blue waters and the black tiles of the station.

There's nobody else in the cabin, tonight; probably there won't be anyone until Rome or Florence. That's okay, though, because I want to work. Normally I'd be writing in my paper journal, but I'm out for the year. When I get back to Dublin, I'll find my overflow journal, and it will become my primary one.

When I get back to Dublin, I'll also have to buy some shampoo. I certainly won't make the same mistake I recently heard, of forgetting to buy milk . . . how could I drink my lovely Italian espresso with no milk?! My mistake has been something infinitely easier to fix: I left the key to my room sitting neatly on a piece of furniture in my room. By the time this gets online, I'll have mumbled about and found a replacement.

Another thing I like about being the only one in the cabin is that I may caterwaul to my iPod. Mwahahaha.

Now, how to get to work? Write an outline, write the shorter pieces of the outline, then find better examples to back myself up than the ones I jotted down to begin with. Then panic at the end, scribbling transitions and cobbling together some sort of bibliography and cover sheet to shove it under the door to the man in his office who has been comfortable for years with the weighty degrees balancing out his name on paper.

Have I mentioned that I've grown fond of The Smiths and The Cure and The Clash? And The Ramones? And that I need an infinite number of knitted hats? Because they are wonderful and awesome?

Alas, how shall I begin? And there are voices in the hall.