Friday, March 20

In Other News

Aside from my current interest in Morrissey, my life has continued on in its usual aimlessness. I have finished Travel in the Middle Ages and my third reading of the Aeneid (Dryden's translation this time), and am now on to Bischoff's Latin Palaeography and the Longfellow translation of Dante's Divina Commedia.

[The Friendship Arch in D.C.'s "Chinatown", which is like every other part of downtown except for the subtitles.]

If we don't get the things from our house soon I will be relegated to Kathleen Norris and Graham Greene . . . who'd've ever thought? I met one of Norris' great nieces (who also happens to be one of the best literature teachers I've ever had the privilege of hearing) and found out that my great grandmother used to read those decidedly innocent but swoony romances. Someone somewhere (have the feeling it was a male friend who was attempting to wean me from my medieval literature obsession) once recommended Greene to me and I found The Power and the Glory in a used book pile.

[View from the top of the Old Post Office. I liked the bells, best.]

And I now have a public library card, several job applications to hand in and have already begun a few volunteer-type things. Good to see some of my talents put to use, though. Stupid economy.


These are some pictures from the Sunday before St. Paddy's Day--the Americans seem to celebrate all week and with less getting drunk and more turning things green. I really miss good dark beers, and good whiskies. Am having trouble finding any place I'd actually like to get a drink (not get drunk! but a nice pint with friends now and then is nice)--is there something in America against a comfortable, clean atmosphere that does not feel sleazy and greasy? And--seriously, folks--Jack Daniels in the only whisky available?

A contemporary artist of which I am currently fond.

My friends know that I rarely find myself fascinated with living authors or artists, or even interested in contemporary movements. (I'm about to tell you about an artist I really like right now.) This changed a little when I went to Paris a few years ago--something about the place reminded me that it is still possible to see artists as representatives of their art and admirable in their own right for expressing themselves accurately. It takes guts to say what you mean and make yourself vulnerable by telling everyone how you see the world. I know that's not the best way to explain what artists do. I could never claim to "explain" Art. Forgive my bumbling?

But it was my sister's birthday a week ago, and my parents bought her two tickets to the Morrissey concert here AND SHE CHOSE ME TO GO WITH HER. (Which is officially awesome in its own right.) I had heard Morrissey with familiar affection since forever ago--he's been a public figure since before I was born--and my older sister only introduced me to his voice a few years ago when late-night highway drives made it possible for us to appreciate blasting our poor little Honda speakers.

[The day before the concert, we went to check out the venue.]

The Smiths are all quite excellent &c., but have you actually taken the time to listen to Morrissey's voice? Put on your best headphones and anything with his voice in it. Loud enough you can hear his voice properly. Just listen to his voice. Everything else comes in second.

So, the first time I realised how much I loved that sound was when the only track I had on my iPod was Neverplayed Symphonies and I was desperately trying not to be cranky and backseat-drive for my dad as we wound round about places in England we hadn't meant to be. Quite possibly what happened there was me falling in love with a song. That happens, sometimes.

[A really awful picture I took with my iPhone of the Warner Theatre interior before the concert started. Cameras weren't allowed, so I didn't take any during the concert.]

Anyway, the concert was brilliant. I was completely entranced. The music was wonderful, the stage presence of all was really nice--they seemed accessible and (heaven forbid) real. Human. I really could have sat there all night. All week. I'd love to hear Morrissey read poetry, but then that might be even more dangerous than his singing voice. After the concert started the interview and biography readings . . . After the initial obsession (of last week, which was long enough for me as I tend to read and think a lot--and he is still alive, remember), I have decided that I like Morrissey and his music.

Yes. Just like that. A living musical artist that I like. I shall now proceed to buy his music, if I can figure out what media are being used these days . . . mp3, still? Are CDs being phased out yet? I need a record player.

Wednesday, March 11

First week back in the U.S.A.: co-op markets, local knitting groups & new technology.

Did you know they don't charge for long-distance calls in the U.S.? And that there are no roaming charges? And that with an iPhone 3G you can access the internet through the cell line? I didn't know any of this, but I have an iPhone now and am loving it. It has saved me from getting lost, losing family members, not having groceries, etc. etc. And I can check my email. The only big problem from my perspective is that the keyboard, while perfectly usable, is still so small that my fingers move across it very slowly and with much stumbling.

[A much more exciting picture of a piece of pound cake my sister and I shared for lunch on our first day back. Someone at the market had simply made a huge cake, frosted it, and was selling it by the slice. Brilliant woman. Heavenly cake.]

On our first day back we went to downtown Bethesda. We did not know it was a rather expensive part of town, but we did have an appointment to buy cell phones and look at a car.

I had forgotten about bagels. Fresh bagels. Toasted and delicious and dripping with everything good and virtuous. We had them for breakfast, and then found a coffee shop called Quartermaine in which the barista understood proper coffee-related jargon.

[This the market up the street where my sister and I found the miraculous pound cake, and also other lovely things.]

Across the street from the market was a yarn shop, Knit + Stitch = Bliss, which was full of luxury yarns and knitting accessories I could not afford. Most of it was not local or pure or practical, so it wasn't really up my alley, but my sister found an incredibly complex pattern which she has already started and is enjoying fully.

[Knit + Stitch = Bliss]

On Monday my sister and I attended a knitting group that meets near the house we are about to move into. I am really very fond of it already--they were so welcoming and so warm that I felt comfortable immediately. Many of the women (it was an all female crowd) were in familiar lines of work and shared hobbies with us. Everyone seemed at home there. Even if it was at a Starbucks, at least they let us stay until closing and didn't get their panties in a bunch about us moving around tables chairs so as to sit together.

I love being able to speak English and understand almost everything that is said to me. I love finding familiar things that haven't been around for ages. Things have really changed, tho--more than what I can glean from having listened to newscasts and reading papers. It will definitely take a while to get used to.

Still no consistent internet; it will probably take me a half an hour just to keep pressing the upload button on Blogger; stupid thing keeps timing out if you load more than one page per hour . . . Soon, my precious, we will have a real connection to the intarwebz.