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.

I AM GOING TO HAVE A CUP OF TEA.

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.