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.