Monday, November 14, 2011

Hello all!

This is just a quick announcement to say that I finally became fed up with separating my blogs four different ways. I've consolidated to one, and the link is here.

New Site!

It's not much better that this one, but the content is (slightly) more frequent.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poem of the day #29

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room
William Wordsworth

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Poem of the Day #28

Elegy for Jane
Theodore Roethke

My Student, Thrown by a Horse

I remember the neck curls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a sidling pickerel smile;
And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her,
And she balanced in the delight of her thought,
A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
The shade sang with her;
The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing;
And the hold sand in the bleached valleys under the rose.

Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure
          depth,
Eve a father could not find her:
Scraping her cheek against straw;
Stirring the clearest water.

My sparrow, you are not there,
Waiting like a fern, making a spiny shadow.
The sides of wet stones cannot console me,
Nor the moss, wound with the last light.

If only I could nudge you from this sleep,
My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon.
Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love:
I, with no rights in their matter,
Neither father nor lover.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Poem of the day #27

Planetarium
Adrienne Rich

Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750-1848)
astronemer, sister of William; and others.

A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them

a woman    'in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles'

in her 98 years to discover
8 comets

she whom the moon ruled
like us
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness
ribs chilled
in those spaces      of the mind

An eye,

          'virile, precise and absolutely certain'
   from the mad webs of Uranusborg

                                                     encountering the NOVA

every impulse of light exploding
from the core
as life flies out of us

          Tycho whispering at last
          'Let me not seem to have lived in vain'

What we see, we see
and seeing is chaining

the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus

          I am bombarded yet      I stand

I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep     so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me     And has
taken     I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images     for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.

from The Facts Of A Doorframe

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Poem of the day #26

A Kite is a Victim
Leonard Cohen

A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;
because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.

A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won't give up,
or the wind die down.

A kite is the last poem you've written
so you give it to the wind,
but you don't let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.

A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so you make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.

Language never gets easy.

I just survived a Philosophy Intensive, which means that in the last 30 hours, 12 of them were spent in a class covering Analytic Philosophy.

Huh, and when you put it like that it doesn't look too bad. Suddenly I feel less hardcore than I did before I started this post.

Anyhow, one of the things were were covering in class was the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, specifically his work on language. (I wrote my paper on his Mysticism. And that's the last you're ever going to to hear of that paper, because for complete lack of excellence it ranks right up there with the stories where I mistook architecture for plot and finished conversations by people jumping down holes in the ground.) In addition to really kicking off Ordinary Language Philosophy, one of the things Wittgenstein worked on was the theory of private language vs. public language.

This is where it gets interesting, I promise.

Okay, so one of the things that has been thought about extensively over the last couple millennia has been how we acquire language. The general consensus was that language was something that arose internally. When we were children someone pointed to a cookie and said "cookie," and so when we wanted that thing we went to the pictures in our minds, found that it was called "cookie," and asked for it. Language is primarily internal, arising from private experiences and sensations we learn to put names to.

And then Wittgenstein came along with a bag full of wrenches and threw them at everything. He said that language arrises from shared experiences, experiences that we've decided on a name for. It is essentially public, and essentially experiential. Even in the example of the child pointing at the cookie, the important part is not that the child wanted to name the thing a cookie. The child wanted a cookie. (Speaking of shared experiences, pretty sure that one's common…) We don't walk around with a catalogue of names of things in our head, we walk around with a collection of actions in our heads.

From this it follows that language is essentially culturally constructed. (And if you add the fact that experience is filtered through "language," experience is culturally constructed, and so is reality, but that's a head trip I've barely even started synthesizing yet, much less decided if I agree.)

Speaking of experiences that make sense within culture...
So that's interesting.

I had never gone into the issue as deeply as we did this weekend before, but I had thought of language as a cultural construction before. It's one of the things that comes up if you move a lot. (Just trying referring to the boot of a car in California and see how far that gets you.) And it's also something that comes up if you're writing or studying writing. It's why you often need to know where or when someone comes from before you interpret their work, or you're left thinking as all those poets talking about courtly love as creepers who can't even talk to women. Where if you know that the genders were entirely segregated at the time of the writing, you know that the poet isn't a creeper for not talking to his lady love. (He's a creeper for other reasons. :D)

One of the things I was wondering this summer was whether a common language is actually an impediment to communication in our world. We have so many people who speak English, and because of our shared media and art we all talk fairly similarly. There are, or course, exceptions-- Singlish being one which comes to mind-- but generally most people who talk English are fairly comprehensible to each other. However, we don't all come from the same culture. Yes, we come from similar cultures, but our experiences range from subtly to very different. And yet, we all have the same words for things. So we assume we're talking about the same things, when sometimes we really aren't.

I beg your pardon?
I thought of this again when #Occupy protests started spreading around the globe. Because yes, in the USA when you say "Bank," you're talking about an institution which has some serious institutional flaws. More Regulation Needed, Please. However, that isn't necessarily the same everywhere. In Canada while the USA financial system ours was the most stable in the world. So when people hear on the news that "the financial system is corrupt and flawed and needs to be changed," and then they go out and protest it, they're protesting an issue that might not even exist in their country. If it does exist, it's certainly not going to be fixed with the same solutions here! But because the words are the same, we assume the experiences and references are the same.

tl;dr version: Define your terms.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Poem of the day #25

The secretary chant
Marge Piercy

My hips are a desk
From my ears hang
chains of paper clips.
Rubber bands form my hair
My breasts are wells of mimeograph ink.
My feet bear casters.
Buzz. Click.
My head is a badly organized file.
My head is a switchboard
where crossed lines crackle.
Press my fingers
and in my eyes appear credit and debit.
Zing. Tinkle.
My navel is a reject button.
From my mouth issue canceled reams.
Swollen, heavy, rectangular
I am about to be delivered
of a baby
Zerox machine.
File me under W
because I wonce
was
a woman.

From Circles On The Water.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Definitely the image of the day.


Poem of the Day #24

HYPOTHESESM
John Terpstra

The location and number of stars in the sky is determined by
the trajectory of individual branch tips, each of which bears
responsibility for a single pinprick of light.
     As well, the individual bent of each branch is the result of its
having scanned the black dome for an unlit location.
     These are, of course, preposterous hypotheses, and it is
likely that only those who are willing to admit to an uncommon
empathy with trees would ever entertain them.
     In any case let it follow that when a tree falls the lights dim.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dark Age Ahead: Living without Community.

For International Studies, I got to read a bonus book, and the one I chose was Dark Age Ahead, by Jane Jacobs. (It was awesome.)

The main crux of the argument that Ms. Jacobs puts forward is that North American society is heading for a Dark Age, because of the decline of certain pillars of our civilization. And she points out that a Dark Age occurs when a civilization no longer even knows what it's lost. The people assume that they live at the pinnacle of their nation's glory while it's crumbling underneath them.

So what are these pillars? She outlines five, the crumbling of each which has led to a whole host of other problems we regard as the normal state of affairs.
  • Community and Family
  • Higher education
  • The effective practice of science and since-based technology
  • Taxes and governmental powers directly in touch with needs and possibilities
  • Self-policing by the learned professions
Most of these I'd heard discussed, but I'd never really heard the Community one taken apart. That is, aside from the THE DECLINE OF THE WESTERN FAMILY OUR SOCIETY IS CRUMBLING thing that we're all so tired of hearing. So it was very interesting to me to hear the stats taken apart. And because I believe sharing is caring, (lol), I reproduce the info for you here. ^_^

So what IS going wrong with Community and Family? Well, basically our society is set up currently to make sure they are very difficult to keep together. Jacobs cites two main ways our communities are rigged to fail, and the first is the fantastic cost of shelter.

The family, after all, is the smallest unit of a community, and to keep that community housed we almost have to never be in the house. When a family spends over 30% of their income on shelter costs, it is regarded as unaffordable. Contrast that with the common budgeting advice that 50% of your income goes to housing.

Hmmmmmmm.

So to keep the house over the family's head, wage earners within the house are told they must work more hours at a high paying job. (We also have a cultural belief that the only real reason someone wouldn't work outside the house is because they're lazy, but that's another topic.) This both means that people don't have the energy for activities in the larger community-- which is bad for the continued existence of the larger community as a functioning thing-- and puts a great deal of strain on the family as a unit. If you're only home long enough to watch tv, sleep and possibly entertain, what is that going to do to your relationship? According to the 2001 Canadian Census, 23% of people ever married had that marriage end in divorce at the time of the census. And of the people married within the ten years before the report, that number jumped to almost a 40% fail rate.

Related facts? Possibly.

So to deal with the cost of renting (never mind buying a house) people can either work more hours, with all the risks that entails, or push their expenses off into debt. We do live in a consumerist society, where to not-purchase is to be anti-social or a failure, after all. Debt isn't something she specifically touched on in the book, but I think it's something that is also setting up our culture to be in deep, deep trouble.

Jacobs does points out that we are also dissolving our communities with the way our transportation is set up. Our suburbs encourage long commutes to work, because a.) god forbid you should live near where you work, and b.) all those green lawns take up a lot of space. This could be partly avoided if people used public transit instead of travelling along super-congested super-freeways, but using public transportation is both an admission of failure to consume-- (Translation: you are anti-social and/or a failure, see above)-- and just not seen as a viable choice.

Jacobs points out that public transit-- as competition for major automobile companies-- has been the target of systematic attacks by those companies. General Motors spent the 1920s though the 1950s buying up electric trolley lines and replacing them with expensive and inefficient bus lines. And then once that had been completed, the car manufacturers had to move to vilifying busses in the public consciousness so that every family would need a car. (Then they moved to promoting the essential right of every person to own a car, so that a family will have two to four vehicles. Perhaps next we'll be sold multiple cars, one for work and one for off-roading? Oh wait, that's already happening.)

So where are we now? North Americans now spend so much time on their long commutes, after working more hours per year than the Japanese, (and that's saying something), that driving fatigued is running neck and neck with drunk driving as the source of traffic fatalities. Enrolment in community activities (including voting, which has FAR-REACHING repercussions) is falling like a stone, and average household debt (Which at the time of the Great Depression was at 30% or so of household income), exceeds 100% of yearly income.

And we all think this is perfectly normal.

Dark Age Ahead, by Jane Jacobs.
Vintage Canada 2005

Friday, October 14, 2011

A quote from my other english reading.

Metaphor states a mystery. It collapses the membrane between the thing itself and the image of it. The formulation is that of an equation, X=Y. But unlike mathematical equations, metaphor participates in absurdity, because X is also utterly different from Y. Say the moon is a thumbtack in the sky. A the risk of belabouring the obvious, the moon is not like a thumbtack in most senses. It does not feel hard and it cannot be held in your hand, for example. But for a fleeting moment you see the two terms of the metaphor as married and you understand the truth, which is a third thing, which is transcendent, beyond either of the two terms. I believe now that metaphor, which a cannot be taken literally because it has paradox at its heart, must be our most accurate way of starting the transcendent.
-Jeanne Murray Walker: Saving Images

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Poem of the day #23

Holy Sonnet X
John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou are not soe,
For, those, who thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but they pictures bee,
Much pleasre, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe got,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie
Though art slave to Fate, Chance, kings and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, though shalt die.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Poem of the day #22

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
William Wordsworth

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
    Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise
    And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
    Half hidden from the eye!
--Fair as a star, when only one
    Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could known
    When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
    The difference to me!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Poem of the day #21

The cat's song
Marge Piercy

Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother's forgotten breast.

Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I'll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat

You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty time the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees. Jump between roofs?

Let us rub our bodies together and talk of touch.
My emotions are pure as salt crystals and as hard.
My lusts glow like my eyes. I sing to you in the mornings
walking round and round your bed and into your face.

Come I will teach you to dance as naturally
as falling asleep and waking and stretching long, long.
I speak greed with my paws and fear with my whiskers.
Envy lashes my tail. Love speaks me entire, a word

of fur. I will teach you to be still as an egg
and to slip like the ghost of wind through the grass.

from Mars and her Children

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Poem of the Day #20

Love a child is ever criing
Lady Mary Wroth

Love a child is ever criing
   Please him, and hee straite is flying,
   Give him hee the more is craving
   Never satisfi'd with having;

His desires have noe measure,
   Endles folly is his treasure
   What hee promiseth hee breaketh
   Trust nott one word that he speaketh;

He vowes nothing butt faulce matter,
   And to cousen you hee'l flatter,
   Lett him gaine the hand hee'l leave you,
   And still glory to deseave you;

Hee will triumph in your wayling,
   And yett cause bee of your fayling
   Thes his vertus ar, and slighter
   Ar his guiftes, his favours lighter,

Feathers ar as firme in staying
   Woulves noe fiercer in theyr praying.
   As a child then leave him crying
   Nor seek him soe giv'n to flying.

Lady Mary Wroth-- 1587-1652

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Still breathing, still kicking, still cruising youtube.

International Studies class was today! So far it's always been interesting, both because of the subject matter and because I never have any idea what to expect. ;-) At any rate, today we popped up to the Algonquin Hotel in Saint Andrew's to listen to a talk. (Related note-- that hotel won at life. They had free coffee and the building was FABULOUS.

The main thrust of the talk was about how mis-information-- another way of saying Stereotype-- impedes communication. It also started me thinking about how treating someone as though you can know them because you know their religion, occupation, hobby, financial standing or what they look like is an enterprise doomed to failure, but that's something I need to let percolate a bit more.

But thinking about stereotypes made me think of the Jesus Dub videos. The Vintage21 church put them together to demonstrate what popular culture thinks The Church is all about, and how much of a hilariously bad idea it was to run an organization that way. So both to say "this isn't what we're about!" to people outside and "this isn't what we should be about!" to people inside. Anyhow, without further ado-- the videos!





He also played the Star Wars theme, but sadly I missed it.
Another reason the Algonquin Hotel won at life? They have a piper on staff.

Really, I think nothing more I could say about the awesomeness of the situation could possibly shed any more light.

BAGPIPER ON STAFF.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go weep over my French in preparation for tomorrow's exam.

Poem of the Day # 19

The Art of Response
Audre Lorde

The first answer was incorrect
the second was
sorry      the third trimmed its toenails
on the Vatican steps
the fourth went mad
the fifth
nursed a grudge until it bore twins
that drank poisoned grape joyce in Jonestown
the sixth    wrote a book about it
the seventh
argued a case before the Supreme Court
against taxation on Girl Scout Cookies
the eighth held a news conference
while four Black babies
and one other      picketed New York City
for a hospital bed to die in
the ninth and tenth swore
Revenge on the Opposition
and the eleventh dug their graves
next to Eternal Truth
the twelfth
processed funds from a Third World country
the provides doctors for Central Harlem
the thirteenth
refused
the fourteenth sold cocaine and shamrocks
near a toilet in the Big Apple circus
the fifteenth
changed the question.

from Our Dead Behind Us

Monday, October 3, 2011

Poem of the day #18

Sonnet 116
William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true mindes
Admit impediments, love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever fixed marke
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandring barke,
Whose worths unknowne, although his higth be taken.
Lov's not Times foole, though rosie lips and cheeks
within his bending sickles compasse come,
Love alters not with his breefe houres and weekes
But bears it out even to the edge of doome:
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Poem of the day #17

Night of the Scorpion
Nissim Ezekiel

I remember the night my mother
was stung by a scorpion. Ten hours
of steady rain had driven him
to crawl beneath a sack of rice.
Parting with his poison--flash
of diabolic tail in the dark room--
he risked the rain again.
The peasants came like swarms of flies
and buzzed the Name of God a hundred times
to paralyse the Evil One.
With candles and with lanterns
throwing giant scorpion shadows
on the sun-baked walls
they searched for him: he was not found.
They clicked their tongues.
With every movement that the scorpion made
his poison moved in Mother's blood, they said.
May he sit still, they said.
May the sins of your previous birth
be burned away tonight, they said.
May your sufferings decrease
the misfortunes of your next birth, they said.
May the sum of evil
balanced in this unreal world
against the sum of good
become diminished by your pain.
May the poison purify your flesh
of desire, and your spirit of ambition,
they said, and they sat around
on the floor with my mother in the centre,
the peace of understanding on each face.
More candles, more lanterns, more neighbours,
more insects, and the endless rain.
My mother twisted through and through
groaning on a mat.
My father, sceptic, rationalist,
trying every curse and blessing.
powder, mixture, herb and hybrid.
He even poured a little paraffin upon the bitten toe and put a math to it.
I watched the flame feeding on my mother.
I watched the holy man perform his rite
to tame the poison with an incantation.
After twenty hours
it lost its sting
My mother only said:
Thank God the scorpion picked on me
and spared my children.

from Nissim Ezekiel: Collected Poems 1952-1988

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Poem of the Day #16

The Flea
John Donne

Marke but this flea, and marke in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled bee;
Though know's that this cannot be said
A sinne, nor shame, nor losse of maidenhead,
     Yet this enjoyed before it wooe,
     And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two
     And this, alas, is more than wee would doe.

Oh stay, three lives in one flee spare,
Where wee almost, yea more than maryed are.
This flee is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,
And cloyserd in these living walls of Jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill met,
    Let not to that, self murder added bee,
    And sacriledge, three sinnes in killing three.

Cruell and sondaine, hast thou since
Purpled thy naile, in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty bee,
Except in that drop which it suckt from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and saist that thou
Find'st not thy selfe, nor mee the weaker now;
     'Tis true, then learne how false, fears bee;
     Just so much honor, when thou yeeld'st to mee,
Will wast, as this flea's death tooke life from thee.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Fear

I fear failing.

I fear that if I fail at anything I will hate myself, and everyone else will hate me too. People who like me will be disappointed and lose interest in me, and everyone else will mock and despise me.

On the one hand, this can be a good motivator to-- for example-- really pay attention to the instructions at work. But on the other hand, I have many times in the past decided it was easier to just not to do the thing I might not be good at.

The problem with using fear as a crux point is that it keeps me in my comfort zone of skills I've already mastered.
In the past I've avoided all forms of sports, most social interactions, board games, fashion, television, exotic food, travel, education, new jobs, refining my art form, and charitable work because I'm afraid I'll do them poorly and everyone (including myself) will hate me for it.

When you really look at the situation, that's a horrible way to live a life, eh?


I started thinking about this because I had a philosophy quiz on Tuesday and I really did not do well. I am not saying this with false modesty. The internet ate my exams so I got to do it over again, and I think I managed to improve my grade by the fact that the second time around I used full sentences instead of fragments. It was not a good moment.

And this failure just crushed me. I was physically sick to my stomach, I seriously considered dropping the course because I clearly wasn't suited for it, and it took apple crumble and a successful poetry club meeting to get me to stop planning ways to flee the country. The emotional roller-coaster was so extreme I started thinking about it. And not only should I not entirely lose it over a quiz worth 3.75% of my mark, even if I did fail the course in one fell stroke it shouldn't entirely destroy my self worth.


So here's to breaking down the walls of that particular prison.

Poem of the day #15

Ode on Melancholy
John Keats

1

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
       Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wing;
  Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
       By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
  Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
       Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
           Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
  A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
       For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
           And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul

2

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
   Sudden from heaven like a weepy cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
   And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut they sorrows on a poring rose,
   Or on the rainbow of the sale sand-wave,
      Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if they mistress some rich anger shows,
   Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
       And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

3

She dwells with Beaty-- Beauty that must die;
   And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure night
   Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
   Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of non save him whose strenuous tongue
   Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
       And be amoung her cloudy trophies hung.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poem of the Day #14

A Late Aubade
Richard Wilbur

You could be sitting now in a carrel
Turning some liver-spotted page,
Or rising in an elevator-cage
Towards Ladies' Apparel.

You could be planting a raucous bed
Of salvia, in rubber gloves,
Or lunching through a screed of someone's loves
With pitying head,

Or making some unhappy setter
Heel, or listening to a bleak
Lecture on Schonenbuerg's serial technique.
Isn't this better?

Think of all the time you are not
Wasting, and would not care to waste,
Such things, thank God, not being to your taste.
Think what a lot

Of time, by woman's reckoning,
You've saved, and so may spend on this,
You who had rather lie in bed and kiss
Than anything.

Its's almost noon, you say? If so,
Time flies, and I need not rehearse
The rosebuds-theme of centres of verse.
If you must go,

Wait for a while, then slip downstairs
And bring us up some chilled white wine,
And some blue cheese, and crackers, and some fine
Ruddy-skinned pears.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Poem of the Day #13

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightening they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way;
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your friend tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Poem of the Day #12

Prayer (I)
George Herbert

Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age
    God's breath in man returning to his birth,
    The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth;

Engine against th' Alimightie, sinners towre,
    Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
    The six-daise world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and feare;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
    Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,
    Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the starred heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices; something understood.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Poem of the Day #11

IS/NOT
Margaret Atwood

Love is not a profession
genteel or otherwise

sex is not dentistry
the slick filling of aches and cavities

you are not my doctor
you are not my cure,

nobody has that
power, you are merely a fellow/traveler.

Give up this medical concern,
buttoned, attentive,

permit yourself anger
and permit me mine

which needs neither
your approval nor your surprise

which does not need to be made legal
which is not against a disease

but against you,
which does not need to be understood

or washed or cauterized,
which need instead

to be said and said.
Permit me the present tense.

I am not a saint or a cripple,
I am not a wound; now I will see
whether I am a coward.

I dispose of my good manners,
you don't have to kiss my wrists.

This is a journey, not a war,
there is no outcome,
I renounce predictions

and asprins, I resign the future
as I would resign an expired passport:
picture and signature are gone
along with holidays and safe returns.

We're stuck here
on this side of the border
in this country of thumbed streets and stale buildings

where there is nothing spectacular
to see and the weather is ordinary

where love occurs in its pure form only
ont hé cheaper of the souvenirs

where we must walk slowly,
where we may not get anywhere

or anything, where we keep going,
fighting our ways, our way
not out but through.

from Selected Poems 1965-1975

Friday, September 23, 2011

Poem Of The Day #10

One Art
Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing father, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.



I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Poem of the Day #9

Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things--
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
        For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
         And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
       With swift, slow; sweet, sour; a dazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                                      Praise him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poem of the Day #8

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World
Richard Wilbur


     The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
as false dawn.
                        Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

     Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

     Now they are flying in plaice, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
                                               The soul shrinks.

     From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
And cries,
     "Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven."

     Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

     "Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
             keeping their difficult balance."



From Things Of This World

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do you have anything Important to say?

Nothing-- Jonathan Toon
Last week was the first International Studies class, and clearly we had to do one of those "go around the table and say your name and something interesting about yourself" ice-breakers. I'm usually a fan of those events, because, well, you learn interesting things about your classmates! This time, though, we did things a little differently. The information we were to share was our names, and-- if we had the opportunity to put up a billboard that would be seen by millions of people-- what would be on that billboard?

By the way, this is a really effective get-to-know-people-fast activity. You go straight to what everyone thinks other people should know about, no meandering through talk about the weather and where everyone is from.

In my traditional fashion when asked questions, I fell back on things I've seen on tumblr. (Wait, you don't know that's my tradition now? It totally is. Moving with the times, I am! I'm HIP!) I thought of an image I'd seen earlier in the week and thought was mildly to moderately profound, which said "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Photo Credit: Julian Bialowas
And then I thought about it, and that actually is something I would really like to tell other people. Not because people are mean to me, but because it was such a ground-breaking thing for me to figure out myself. I went for ages not even cluing into the fact that other people even HAD issues. (And they called me an observant child... ) But if I think of other people as persons with their own individual struggles and aspirations, they are all at once more interesting and deserving of my concern.

I think the particular blindness I was suffering from before has two base reasons. The first is that it's one of the classic markers of teenager-hood to believe that no one else has ever had it as hard as I personally (me me me me) have it. Especially if I'm especially conscious of being "weird," it is a fast and easy extrapolation to decide that all other people are not like me. So all my sufferings are more intense and unique: therefore they're important than anyone else's. And my selfishness is justified!

Yeah, there's a reason why "teenager" is also a synonym for "immature."

But moving on from my lack of developed brain, there is also the fact that much of our culture reduces anyone we don't know personally to numbers and stats. News comes in from all over the world, presenting information about events we have minimal connection with, and over time all these disasters that don't touch us have a numbing effect. We don't feel nearly as bad when we hear about some other person having been maimed in a car accident as we do when a friend is injured.

And when you think about that, it's just a depraved state of mind. When did we start not caring about other people, and how can we make it stop? (Of course, it's possible that everyone else has extreme empathy for every other person on the planet and I'm just a psychopath/still a teenager in heart, but I really hope not. Otherwise this post suddenly becomes really awkward.) So something I'd like other people to think about would be that everyone else really is fighting a hard battle. Everyone else is INTERESTING, and they have a story, and you should want to help them because they're people. Talk to them.

And in closing;


Poem of the day #7

i thank You God for most this amazing day
e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky:and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday:this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

from Complete Poems 1904--1962

Monday, September 19, 2011

Poem of the day #6

Fire and Ice
Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Poem of the day #5

The Word
Alden Nowlan

Though I have the gift of tongues
and can move mountains,
my words are nothing
compared with yours,
though you only
look up from my arms
and whisper my name.

This is not pride
because I know
it is not
my name that you whisper
byt a sign
between us,
like the word
that was spoken
at the beginning of the world
and will be spoken again
only when the world ends.

This is not that word
but the other
that must be spoken
over and over
while the world lasts.

Tears,
laughter,
a lifetime!
All in one word!

The word you whisper
when you look up
from my arms
and seem to say
my name.

From Bread, Wine and Salt

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Poem of the Day #4

Ten Years and More
Miriam Waddington

When my husband
lay dying a mountain
a lake three
cities ten years
and more
lay between us:

There were our
sons my wounds
and theirs,
despair loneliness,
handfuls of un-
hammered nails
pictures never
hung all

The uneaten
meals and unslept
sleep: there was
retirement, and
worst of all
a green umbrella
he can never
take back.

I wrote him a
letter but all
I could think of
to say was do you
remember Severn
River, the red canoe
with the sail
and lee-boards?

I was really saying
for the sake of our
youth and our love
I forgave him for
everything
and I was asking him
to forgive me too.

From Collected Poems.
1986

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poem of the Day #3

Wanda Why Aren't You Dead
Wanda Coleman

wanda when are you gonna wear your hair down
wanda. that's a whores's name
wanda why ain't you rich
wanda you know no man in his right mind want a
         ready-made family
why don't you lose weight
wanda why are you so angry
how come your feet are so goddamn big
can't you afford to move out of this hell hole
if i were you were you were you
wanda what is it like being black
i hear you don't like black men
tell me you're ac/dc. tell me you're a nympho. tell me you're
        into chains
wanda i don't think you really mean that
you're joking. girl, you crazy
wanda what makes you so angry
wanda i think you need this
wanda you have no humor in you you too serious
wanda i didn't know i was hurting you
that was an accident
wanda i know what you're thinking
wanda i don't hink they'll take that off of you

wanda why are you so angry

i'm sorry i didn't remember that that that
that that that was so important to you

wanda you're ALWAYS on the attack

wanda wanda wanda i wonder

why ain't you dead

From Heavy Daughter Blues: Poem and Stories. 1968-1986
1987

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Poem of the Day #2

Untitled
Erin Bow

What can heal us?

Like men who have lost legs,
we cannot be restored,
but the tumbling world
makes lights of us--
the sea turns glass
to milk. A teacup handle
is a tool for divination.

Source

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Poem of the Day #1

Introduction to Poetry
Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him prove his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Source

UNIVERSITY HAS NOT KILLED ME YET DESPITE TRYING HARD.

NEXT WEEK WE ENTER LEVEL TWO, IF I GET PAST THIS BOSS FIGHT THIS WEEKEND.

Ahem.

No really, things are going pretty well for me! I am basically flirting with Death financially, but I have at least until the end of the month until I start paying my line of credit with my Visa and thereby escalating to making out with Death. Hopefully before that time I can get a job. In hopes for AVOIDING keeping Death as my boyfriend, tomorrow I'm going to go harass the local burger shop and coffee shop and two grocery stores I applied at last week.

Now on the flip side of the coin, classes are a mixture of extreme fear and extreme interest. Ancient History seems like it's going to be lovely. It's focusing on the Old Testament (to no one's surprise) but I feel like I've heard those stories enough times that I actually know them fairly well. And then I can focus on the awesome surrounding history, including orgy-tastic (direct quote from teacher) fertility rites, and the rise and fall of other empires, and how different empires subdued their conquered areas-- etc. I am looking forward to that class. :D

French is challenging, again to no one's surprise, but the teacher is making a strong effort to make it both fun and comprehensible for those of us who have no language history. (Hallelujah!) Plus, any subject where I can watch a comedy and feel legitimately that it was homework-related because it was in French (I read the subtitles) is a win! I am quite determined not to do what I did with Latin and fall so far behind I am unable to catch up. Actually I should be listening to my vocab now... psh I'll finish writing this first.

Let's see-- International Studies shows great potential to be awesome. It's a discussion-based class, and there are some strong opinions on either sides of several debates. We started out today with a discussion on whether socialism is a realistic response to an anarchistic situation, which I think was heard two streets up. And a major part of my mark will be building a website/blogging, which is clearly another win.

I haven't had the philosophy class yet, as it's in an intensive format, but I've done the reading. And the reading is scary. Many words I don't know. "Logical Positivism," for example. 'Nuff said.

And then we come to English. English is weird. Weird for my brain to process. Taking someone else's words and taking them over, running away with someone's images and using them ENTIRELY the way you want to, with almost no attention paid to what the author wanted, just your reading that is important-- that's bizarre to me. I'm committing the fallacy of intention left right and centre. :D But aside from the AUGH I"M DOING IT WRONG panic attack, I get to read lovely poems. I never liked poetry before, but I'm starting to learn how it works, and I'm making friends with it. :D (Yes, you will see more poetry here in the future.)

So that's the download of my life. Have a good life OH WAIT ONE MORE THING!

Several of the classes require journaling, blogging or otherwise regularly responding to material. So, in an attempt to make it comprehensible, I will probably cross-post it here. Be prepared for verbose blogging!

Hopefully.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recapping the First week of Clarion

I suppose at this point parties interested in what I have to say on this blog and also reading calendars might have noticed that I am not longer in Clarion.

Hahahah, I said "parties."

It's funny cause it's plural. And therefore obviously a lie.

Ahem. Back to my graceful intro to this blog post!


First-Week instructor Nina doing a reading at Mysterious Galaxy. Many of my classmates are visible in the audience!

As anyone who consulted a calendar could figure out, Clarion is over. And triumphantly, I completed it! I then went on to have many adventures. In fact, as I write this I am on a train speeding across rural quebec. But I'm not to that part of the story yet.

For me Clarion started early Sunday Morning. I had arranged previously to take a cab from the airport to the campus with Becky, Brooke Wonders and Gillian. I got there in plenty of time, found a place to buy coffee, liberated a baggage cart for free-- and then realized that I had no idea what the people I was meeting looked like. My obvious next move was to make a sign, right?

It's harder than you'd think to find a piece of bristol board in an airport. They don't even sell blank PAPER. (Maybe they think it's a weapon or something.)

Fortunately, via the airport wi-fi on my phone I had handheld access to a vast database containing pictures of the people I was trying to meet. I do so love living in the future. I like living in the future less when (that afternoon) the power cable to my laptop gives up the ghost, but that can be fixed with the aid of our modern financial system-- another reason to be thankful for science and technology, really.

Once we arrived at the UCSD campus on Sunday Afternoon we were all dispatched to our separate rooms to settle in. I was rooming with the other Canadian (Mark) and an Australian (Peta), and we saw right away that the apartment, while lovely, was lacking a crucial component. As a result Peta went to Target to get a kettle and some tea while Mark and I unpacked and picked up dishes from the common room.


My lovely Clarion class! With the exception of Annie, whose plane came in late.

Throughout the whole day I was consistently surprised by just how nice everyone was. I mean, I was expecting everyone to be nice-- I'd met most of them on the internet-- and going in expecting intelligent, funny, friendly writers I was still surprised by just how darn awesome everyone was.

Also we had a tour, and fought the printers, and went to supper, and fought the printers, and went to buy sugar, and fought the printers. I am not going to talk about fighting the printers (those printers were jerks anyways) but the sugar expedition was actually an adventure.

Mark, Peta and I decided to walk out together to get sugar and milk for our tea. This was about when it really sunk in what kind of ritzy campus we were on. We went to a small late-night convenience store. And where normally mystery-meat sandwiches live in the drop-coolers, this store had fresh pastries and slices of cake. Where normal stores have a wilted banana and sponge-like apple, this one had a variety of organic fruits and vegetables so fresh they all but gave off light. They had tangy organic dried pineapple chips. And "organic" was definitely a theme in the dry goods, along with "fair trade," "rainforest alliance" "ethically sound," and all those other tags that double and triple the price of an item. We paid 8 dollars for a pound of sugar and walked out wide-eyed.

Or maybe I was just the one who was wide-eyed. I was still working with the idea that University students are creatures who live off of Kraft Dinner, Catsup and Ramen, but that does not appear to apply to California.


The Geisel library, constructed in honour of Dr. Suess.

Fortunately I didn't have much time to ponder the mysteries of California, because I needed to have tea with my flatmates and crit the stories for the next day. It had been decided to critique submission stories for the first two days of Clarion, and after that no trunk stories would be permitted. And though a mysterious process known only to our instructor Nina and the fates, a random sampling had picked that the first three stories critiqued at Clarion were written by the three writers in apartment 2. So we used tea to cut the tension and didn't talk much.

I had never been critiqued by anyone who wasn't a bosom buddy of mine, so I was just about stressed enough to eat tacks. I woke up naturally at 6:30, which only happens when I am deathly ill or someone jumps on me. And then I got into session and it all got much better. My fellow Clarionauts are all super-insightful, very clever, kind critiquers. And they're funny! In the first two hours I collected quotes such as;

"Eight-Tenths of the world's population? Reduce your fractions, boy!"
-Jacob


"I totally felt it when the eagle ripped out of her and stuff but I think it could have been a little more visceral."
-Andy

And then there was my critique, which I will sum up with the quote;


"It’s a bit like being in a sensory deprivation tank with Oscar Wilde, really."
-James W.

I had made it to this point in my writing life without realizing that I was leaving out description. I didn't include visual description, but I didn't include any other sensory information either. And I'd left out most of the blocking, to boot. Oops?

So I decided had to work on that. :D

The next day (tuesday) I started a new story, and I was really excited about it. I was gonna do all kinds of cool things! It was gonna be excellent and no one would be able to say anything was wrong with it, because it was going to be perfect! It turns out I was really going to spent two days panicking over it and writing all of two paragraphs.

Time for a change of plans. On Wednesday evening I ditched it and started new with slightly lower expectations. This time I would only try to do tactile and visual detail, a weird synthetic telepathy and an emotional arc. Easy, right?


A sample of the reading we did every night. This was Thursday night, with my story as one of those I didn't have to read.
It turns out that knowing what you what to do with a story is not the same thing as implementing it in the text. Learning curves, I love thee. I turned it in on Thursday evening with two minutes to spare before deadline, and it was critiqued on Friday. And before this starts sounding downer, the critique session was good! I got good feedback on the story its self, and I also started learning to deal with the terror of what people say about my writing, learning to not measure by what other people say, and learning to deal with the truth about my own writing and the fact that I'm not in it to stroke my ego, there are easier ways to do that. I'm in it to write a better story, and communicate better. Augh, so many FEELINGS to deal with! *swoons*

And on the ego-stroking side, the bookseller at Mysterious Galaxy referred to "when you're back here to do your own signing." I definitely blushed and stammered. ^_^

Also on friday Jacob said the reason I didn't have a boyfriend was I didn't drink. So I punched him.

And then except for the time I socked Peta in the head at the beach it was a totally non-violent weekend. *nods* It turns out that when I am rendered legally blind by salt in the eyes and no glasses, I have a very violent startle reflex.

In closing, the Clarionauts are all excellent people, the prospect of pro writing is both more terrifying and harder than I expected, the prospect of pro writing is both richer and more rewarding than I expected, and Posideon is a pervert. He got seaweed everywhere.


Peta doing some writing outside our apartment.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Transit across the continent achieved!

The obligatory picture of the view from my hotel room.
Guess what? I'm in San Diego! Yes, the palm trees were a bit of a tip off, I'm sure.

I flew in two days early for Clarion to let me start to get over jet lag, which bit of planning I am profoundly grateful for. I got in at noon local time, which my body thought was 4:30, on two hours sleep having woken up at 2 am. I stayed up for another nine hours out of pure bloody-mindedness, but it's not as though anything useful happened in those nine hours. When you find yourself too zonked to do a facebook quiz, you know you're out of it.

This morning I got an email from the first week's instructor, who was imparting quite a bit of information. The part I have worked past hyperventilating (but not past the stomach ache) about is that one of my stories is going to be workshopped on the very first day. The instructor (the lovely Nina Kiriki Hoffman) is highly encouraging us to write stories while we're in San Diego, and to give us two days to panic something out she has arranged the first two days to be spent critiquing submission stories, and I'm on the block for day one, week one.

I've never workshopped or anything of the sort before, so I really don't know what this will be like. (Other than painful.) I'm especially worried about my ego, to be honest, because I submitted those stories because they were the best I had and I couldn't see how to make them better. Seeing these stories in particular torn to shreds is going to be special. But I'm also very excited about this, because I don't have to worry for long about what they're going to think of what I write. I can just dive in the deep end and hope I don't belly flop.

And I won't be telling you how the experience went for another two months. I actually won't be blogging during the whole of Clarion for a variety of reasons. I will now lay them out in a list, because I like lists.

  • Blogging is a prime way to distract myself, particularly if I have to start searching for pictures to illustrate my posts. I am already very good at distracting myself and not exactly the most EXPERIENCED person going into this thing, so I want to roadblock this avenue to failure and despair early.
  • The likelihood of feedback on what I write from people outside of Clarion would just make me post some incredibly winy rants. They didn't like my story! I don't know how to use punctuation! Someone laughed at me! I spilled my coffee on my shoe! Oh, cry me a river, self. I haven't even WRITTEN those posts yet, and I'm boring myself. 
    • And, y'know, whining all over the internet doesn't do a whole lot towards making me seem more mature. 
  • As a going away present, the people at work gave me this really pretty diary and pen set. The pen clicks and the diary has a magnetic clasp. It's just begging to be used!
  • Yay bullet points!
Right! So as I alluded to in that wonderful list, I won't be blogging but I will be diarising. (I mean, duh. This must be preserved!) I also bought a fancy camera, so I'll be using that. :D It makes lovely shutter noises! Ca-chunk Ca-chunk. #easilyamused

See you around!

Down below those clouds is St. John's.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In which I prove one more time that I am a strange one.

So I was in the mall today, thinking about mobility and identity and relationships, and questions of trust. As one does? (There were people I didn't know in the food court and they looked at me, because while in a mall I walk at a speed slightly above "speed walk" but and only just below "run." And this is always inspiring to think about relationships. Don't ask questions.)

Anyways, this brought two characters of mine to mind. They're from a story I mentioned a few times, Expendables (I've ranted about the writing of this just a FEW times), and when I ended off the story they had just gotten together into the beginnings of a romantical relationship.

Only it was just the VERY beginning, and one character has trust issues out the ying-yang and identity issues right now because she's a dancer and a fighter who's just put herself in a wheelchair, and the other character is someone who sleeps around who's just committed to a monogamous relationship and also had this promotion which means he's in a position of authority, and they both have a LOT of baggage. Anyhow, I was thinking about them, and how it would just be really fun to explore their relationship, and how they learn to work together and contrast and compliment each other. (I'm sure they'll stay together, I wrote them that way after all. :D)

And then I thought- oh wait, I've never had a relationship! I can't write one, I don't know how they work!

And then I thought- I should get in a relationship so I can write that story, cause it would be so excellent.

It took about five minutes before I realized that was not the usual way of deciding to commit to someone, and people usually have a counterpart in mind when they make this decision.

I still think it's a good idea though.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guess who just applied for student loans? THAT'S RIGHT I DID. I ROCK.

Well, I mean, I got most of the way through. I just have to declare officially that I didn't lie on my application, and then wait to be turned down! It's a wonderful weight off my shoulders!

Yes, I'm not the MOST confident. This happens when every-time you look at a standardized application you don't fit on it. None of my education to-date has been "normal," which makes then trying to go the average route a little dicey. Remind me to tell you the hilarious story about how I don't ever qualify for any "guaranteed scholarships" sometime. But at least the fate of my academic future is out of my hands for now! It's wonderfully liberating. :D

I've been trying to chip away at my to-do list, but other than moving once and writing three short stories it seems that most of what I've done is watch movies. Hm. *ponders this* I've gone to the theatre three times, and watched a bunch of TV to boot!

The best part of any movie about pirates.

I went to see Pirates Of The Caribbean 4, which was not at all premeditated on my part. I enjoyed the first movie, and after the second and third, my expectations for this film were fantastically low. I attribute my complete lack of expectations, in part, for the fact that I did enjoy the movie!  Cause the first half fully lived up to my expectations. It was all pointless fight scenes and Jack being feminine and pointlessness.  Seriously, there's a whole little arc where someone is impersonating Jack, and it turns out to be a woman. I still don't know the reason we had that story, other than an excuse to fight on top of wine barrels.

And then Blackbeard walked onto the scene, and everything got much, much better. I have this strange addiction to actual characters, and his arrival heralded the entrance of people who possessed real motivation, and y'know, facets. MULTIDIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS? SAY IT ISN"T SO! (And don't get your hopes up, I mean two facets. And in the case of Blackbeard, those facets are Evil and MoreEvil.)

I don't want to talk about the plot any more for fear of spoilers, but it was satisfying! Much more so than I had expected! I especially liked the use of redemption and faith as motivators. And yes, revenge, because this IS a movie about PIRATES after all.

Also there were deadly mermaids and ships in bottles and a missionary who was NOT especially lame (who knew it could be done!?!?) and Eeeevil pirates, not just the "all pirates are good pirates" BALDERDASH they were spouting in pirates 2 and 3. The fight scenes should not be why anyone thought it was a good idea to watch this movie. So there you have it! My $0.03!

I leave the country in 15 days. Please excuse me while I hyperventilate up the linings of my lungs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Plan of Attack

Today is the 21st of May. I leave the country on the 24th of June, at 5 am. So the days in which I am able to get my to-do list worked on number 34. And the to-do list is comprised of the following items.

  • Write 7 short stories. 
    • I promised!
  • Move house
    • Clean the house from top to bottom, 
    • pack all the things, 
    • move all the things.
  • Twice
    • Yes, three weeks after I do it once, I get to do it again. 
    • YEEHAH.
  • Work 20 days out of the 34.
    • Making me approximately $1300.00 I can spend on things like SHOES. 
    • And food and debt.
    • Mostly debt.
  • Buy shoes
    • Snow boots, no matter how well-ventilated with broken heels, don't work so well in California. Or so I hear.
  • Also buy backup hard drive, and other necessaries. 
    • Possibly a suitcase with a zipper that doesn't try to eat anything except its other half. I hear they're fashionable now.
  • Apply for student loans.
    • Yeah, this is pretty darn non-negotiable.
  • See x-men: first class
    • It's a matter of honour.
  • Sleep.
    • Going into Clarion sleep-deprived would be BAD. VERY BAD.
  • Eat. 
    • It's good for the brain.
  • Read.
    • The more books I own that I can read, the less I have to ship.
    • Also, it's good for the writing. 
    • And the soul.
  • Buy travel tickets so that I can get home from the states.
  • In related news, I also have to arrange places to stay and people to visit on the trip back. 
    • Friends with houses you can stay at. They're for winners, you know.
  • I like bullet points.
  • Also it looks like I should get busy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Woah.

For reasons that seemed good at the time, this morning I have drunk two coffees, a tea and a French vanilla. All before 10:00 AM.

I'm now trying to remember how to blink. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An open question for the internet

My sister is visiting me this week, and perhaps in reaction to the 3 weeks previous I spent alone, we've been doing a lot of talking. And since she's recently returned from L'Abri, and I have in the past shown some interest in philosophy, we've been talking a lot about the purpose of life, the value of entertainment, plans for the future, and suchlike. Your usual basic conversation topics. :D

These conversations have led me to the realization that my overall goal towards life is to make sure I enjoy it. 

That's not quite as narcissistic and lazy as it sounds, because I know to be able to enjoy my life I have to be able to look back at my individual days and say "that was a good day." And to be able to call a day "good" when it's over, I need to be productive within the day.

But it's still pretty narcissistic and lazy.

So I guess my question is this. Is it wrong to be trying to work towards feeling happy most of the time? (Ironically, since I figured out I'd been doing this I haven't felt particularly delighted with my life.) Is it especially wrong since most of my coping mechanisms seem to be lazy (sleeping 9 hours a night) or especially self-serving (writing fun things and reading?) It's just that after spending so many years unhappy I am very jealous of my emotional happiness, and the methods I've found to attain it. But should I look for more useful, productive methods of finding happiness? 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

This blog post turned into mostly whining, I'm sorry!

When I moved to town, I had this wonderful mental plan all worked out. By walking distances and up and down hills carrying groceries and such all the time, I'd finally get a proper cardiovascular system! *throws confetti*

It has been a lifelong goal of mine to finally get to the point where I can exert myself at all without practically sucking the leaves off of trees I pass, so this plan was legitimately awesome, in my mind. And now it's been over four months, and now when I walk up hills I- appear to have an interest in becoming a human vacuum.

It is getting quite frustrating, to be honest. I got halfway to the mall today, (going to watch a movie, (Thor, it was fun,)) and I almost cried from the sheer frustration of my lungs not keeping up with the rest of me. The rest of my body was rested and ready to go- and my throat was closing. AUUUGGGHHHHHHHH. (ahem.)

I don't like to think of myself as a physical weakling, and in fact for a number of years I've identified myself as being the person who can totally walk 14 km just for the heck of it. And instead to not being able to break over the barrier and get the taste of blood out of my mouth? Seriously, it should not take four months to get my lungs working...

That was my mental state. And then recently I flashed back to a doctor's appt a few years ago when I had this cough I couldn't kick. I was told that I have reactive airways, which was basically a mild form of asthma. I read this as being told "it's all in your head, here, have a placebo," and wikipedia seemed to back that up. Now though, I'm wondering if I should speak to a doctor about actually getting a puffer. Or an actual "it's all in your head" verdict.

I mean, I've walked enough that I've actually developed muscles in my legs, and most of the walking has been up and down hills. However, I have not gotten at all less gaspy about walking up and down those hills. I have to stop and get my breath back at the top of every one- and there are a lot. That doesn't seen like an issue other people have, so much?

Oh, I'm probably just making a mountain out of a molehill. I'll tell you more about Thor later. :D

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm better disguised than I thought.

So, at work, one of the customers said "Oh, what a lovely accent," and I assumed she was talking about me. Not that I assume naturally that my accent is "lovely," but I've been told enough times that I have one, that one of my core beliefs is that I "talk funny." So I smiled, and said "mine?"

Nope.

It turns out she was referring to my english co-worker, and clarified this by saying. "No, you're just a regular Newfie!" *reproachful stare at me* *wistful stare at my co-worker with the accent*

It wasn't the most complimentary way to be told that after going on ten years of living in Newfoundland, I've finally acclimatized. But this is a good development? I think?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

So what? I'm still a rock star! I got my rock moves...

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.”
— Ira Glass

So this is where I am in my writing, right now. Unfortunately. :P

I've gotten to the point now that I'm starting to be conscious of twists and motivations, and tropes I used before, and emotional reactions, and character voice, and it KILLS. It's not just that nothing I write is good, oh no. I've been spared that particular trial by a decade of oblivious reading and years of just-for-fun-never-read-it-twice writing. And in the interim there I feel like I've pretty well achieved some control over a small segment of story elements. I could write things in these bounds and- while not necessarily awesome- it would at least hang together.

BUT that's only a very small segment of story elements that I control. The hook that's caught me is suddenly being conscious of my comfort zone. So for the last month or so I've been blithely trying things outside of this safe selection of themes I keep writing about. And the stories have all BOMBED. (Let's be honest here.)

I don't really like writing things that bomb. It makes me feel pathetic. (Not an optimal state.) So in response to THAT, I was right on the verge of retreating back to my comfort-zone. Then I decided to think about that some more.

(The byline for my blog used to be "I spend too much time inside my own head." I think it's still maybe accurate, eh?)

But after deliberation, I decided that I want to expand my portfolio outside of where it is now. I want to be able to use all the cool things I see other people using in their stories. And I wish there was some magical way to just absorb the technique- but so far I haven't found anything easy. The only way is to write. And write enough that I've got these different ideas basically beaten into my muscle-memory, where I can pull them out without conscious "I think I should try a fantasy from second person present POV" deliberation.

All of which to say- the more I learn the more I learn that I have to learn.

Don't expect to see me published any time soon. :P

And in other news, the Royal Wedding just made me happy. ^_^ It's not often that I get to see an out-and-out fancy event where I can feel honestly happy for the couple, and not jealous or resentful. Celebrity weddings make me roll my eyes, but this one was just happy-making. :P

Also, this may or may not be the best picture ever, but I'm leaning towards a "yes."
Going bowling tomorrow! Have a good day, all. *waves at the internet*

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Home!

I'm home for a whole week! I took the bus on Friday, (got up at 5:50 in order to stop by the metrobus lost and found and pick up by wallet (cause I lost my wallet on Thursday, did I mention this?)) and I've been back home for MULTIPLE DAYS. It's been lovely. :D

*pause*

Okay, when you get the bright idea to pry the command key off your computer so you can clean underneath it, DON'T DO IT. Just saying.

*fights with the keyboard a bit more*

Anyhow, I'm back in Central! And this visit is lovely for several reasons, some of which I'd been expecting, and some of which I had not. I mean, I expected seeing my family again would be great. (What do you know? It is great. Shocking behaviour!) And I thought being able to eat someone else's cooking would be peachy keen. (I was right.)

I didn't expect sleeping in would be great, because I didn't expect to sleep in. Turns out that turning your alarm on doesn't do much good if you also turn your phone to silent at 11:30 so your twitter alarms won't disturb the small ones. None of my family was disturbed by my bright-and-early alarm, much less me...

And also I've had a fair amount of time both to think about and talk about life, my reaction to it, and why I'm doing things that I'm doing, (both conscious and unconscious). I'd thought I was going to be SUPER PRODUCTIVE, and I haven't been, really. I've been sleeping late and staring out windows for extended periods of time and staying up to all hours fighting chatting with people online. But my satisfaction with my life isn't measured in word count so much as in not being a jerkface. Or failing that, knowing how to proceed towards not being a jerkface. Oh, okay, and I just like talking about things. :D

So yes, that's been my life so far. On vacation, lazing around wrapped in many blankets, enjoying myself a lot.

I've also just done my taxes, which makes me feel very libertarian. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why I don't write every day.

Because sometimes instead of rushing home from work and staring at a white page, I need to take the long route on foot.







Monday, March 21, 2011

Big big big news.

I have big news. Big news that's been under a publication ban, none the less, so I've had a while to think up clever intros for this blog post. And all the clever intros that I've managed aren't really that clever, so I'll just go for it.

I got into Clarion 2011.

Wait, what, you say? What are you talking about?

Well, remember that blog post I wrote a little while ago about this workshop I applied to that was super competitive? The one that was full-time for 6 weeks in California, tought by professional authors, and described as "boot camp for spec fiction writers?" And how I was wondering how I'd deal with the rejection of not getting in, because of course I wasn't going to get in? They only take 18 people, for goodness sake?

I'm one of the 18.

This is a screen cap from this link. 
OMG MY NAME IS IN PRINT.
(Also, I'm trying to resist the urge to stalk those people. There is PLENTY of time for that later.)

So yeah. I'm going to California, June 26- Aug 6th. No big deal.

Who am I kidding, I have to scrape myself off the ceiling every few hours, I'm so delighted. Every part of this news delights me. Let me count the ways.
  • I get to travel there. 
    • On google earth, the distance is just under seven thousand miles. I love technology.
  • On my travel back home, I get to see my friends all across north america.
    • I have something like a month to fill there, and I can visit YOU, probably. Maybe. I'll look into it?
  • I get to write full-time.
    • Your JOB is writing and reading and talking about writing and reading. HAVE I FOUND HEAVEN EARLY?
  • My writing was considered good enough by a panel of people whose job is to judge writing. 
    • Given that it's not uncommon for people who have published to attend Clarion, I'm taking that as a sign that I might get published. Like, on a viable timeline, not just "Someday."
  • I get to spend 6 weeks devoting myself to the process of getting better at writing.
    • *dies of euphoria*
  • Because Room and Board is included in the price of the workshop, I don't have to eat my own cooking. 
    • I can't really stress too much how important that is, right now.
  • I get to meet people who have the same career goal in mind as me. 
    • This doesn't happen a lot. So I tend to glom onto those people, when I meet them. If anyone of the students is stalking ME and you found my blog, consider yourself warned. I'm sorry in advance for any weird behaviour.
  • Even the fact that it was under a publication ban delights me.
    • I hear all the time on twitter from authors who have exciting news that they can't share yet. And then I had my own news. *beams* 
    • Though I did follow the twitter lead and tell my family and alpha readers and give notice at work? Which is okay, right? 
      • I hope...

So yes. There's my big news. 

Is it June yet?
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