Thursday, April 29, 2004

One needn't be a prophet to realize that I shall die young of a stress related disorder. If today is any indication, it will likely be high blood pressure.

Good Lord, I'm so frustrated today I think my head could explode. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Mind you, it's not been disastrous. For instance, I spent over half an hour printing out eleven copies of my damn paper for 598. This was problematic because I only had fourty minutes to print the fucker in. It got done; it was fine. But damnit, the blood pressure in the mean time!

I don't want to go through the minutae. But it's safe to describe me as freaking out. I can't sit still; I can't think straight; I can't do goddamn anything. I can't relax and I can't concentrate enough to be active.

In a few short months, I'll be a college graduate and this insanity will draw to a close. Inevitably, a new insanity will replace the current one; and, indeed, there's a certain sadness in losing the devil I've come to know so well. But I'm crying out for fresher stressors.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I'm tired as hell. Today was long. Well, I suppose technically it wasn't any longer than any other day. But I was so damn busy. It was one of those days that didn't entail a minute's free time. I woke up, took a shower, ate breakfast while I read for school. Went to my first class, read for my second class. Had my second class, immediately started doing homework for the third class. And when that was done, I got to study for my exam. Then, of course, I had said exam and went home. But I wasn't free yet because my mom had about thirty things for me to do.

Tomorrow may be better. And maybe it won't be because I have to finish my prospectus. I have the first page of five done, and I have a pretty good idea about what information needs to go into the next four pages. Plus I've got my bibliography all done now, and that's quite a chunk of time. Nevertheless, I've been so scatter brained lately that I can't seem to choke coherent thoughts out onto the screen; that's a strange metaphor now that I think about it. It's frustrating, anyway, and I know I'll be spending a lot of time tomorrow on that damned paper.

I'm finding myself strangely youthful lately. Juvenile I mean. I keep having these adolescent junkets of emotion. One minute I'm really pissed off; the next I'm just so positively apathetic. I'm always telling myself that I don't care what anybody thinks, all the while being vaguely aware of just how hard I'm working to make a few other people happy. Or me happy through the approval of a few people.

I don't know. A strange girl in my English class gave me a pen today. She said she stole like a hundred of them from work. I don't know why she gave me a pen though. She didn't seem to be giving pens to anyone else. It made me strangely happy. It was kind of the high point of my day. Not only because she gave me a pen, but because I like the pen. And I've been needing a new pen too.

Yes, well, I'm very tired. Off to sleep.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I've been intending to blog since Tuesday. Literally every day I've started to write something, and by the time I got done, something else has always come up. I wrote a blog about emotions, a blog about C.S. Lewis, a blog about antiamericanism, and the world is no doubt just as rich a place for having missed them.

Nevertheless, today I blog. We're supposed to be going to Mohican State Park today, which is awesome. Mohican days are usually the best days. And maybe we'll go see Kill Bill 2 tonight at the theatre. I don't know if today can possibly trump the joy of the first film though. After all, we won't be in a nearly empty theatre, with only a pair of lesbians to cheer for the chick-who-fights-back figure with us. At least, I rather doubt that we will be. I mean, it's possible but not likely.

Anyway, today looks as if it could be a good day and I feel positive about the whole thing. I slept like a mad woman last night. I was reading about Syria when I fell asleep at like 7:30pm. I got calls all throughout the night, but somehow I managed to go back to sleep within seconds of each one, and I woke up at like 6am this morning. In other words, it's not been a very normal day. But somehow, though ordinarily I loathe mornings, it's been a nice change of pace.

So I went to the doctor yesterday, and nothing of very much importance came out. I have to get bloodwork. And the damn place is so busy that they can't see me again until May 18, nearly a month away. That's sort of annoying. I need a new doctor, that much is certain; not because of the doctor himself, but because the office is just too damn flooded. I mean, I waited for six weeks for this appointment, and now it's another four for the next. Ten weeks to find out what's wrong with you is a bit extreme, methinks.

In any case, I signed my papers for graduation the other day. And it felt surprisingly good. I thought I'd sort of freak out about it, since I have no idea what I want to do with my life still, and graduation is one of those times when you're supposed to figure out a nice pat answer when everyone asks you the obvious, inevitable, and dreaded question: "So what do you do with a history major?" The answer where I live is: "Struggle to land the same job you might have landed coming straight out of high school and pay off those student loans!" But it really did feel nice to know I've sort of gotten through college, and I'm qualified to teach your children. Good Lord knows I have no desire to teach anyone's children anything, and no one in their right mind really wants me around their children, but I'm qualified, by God! And that's saying something. I think.

I guess I sort of have one last summer before I embark on my adult life, so-called. And while right now that seems dreary, particularly noting that I have no special plans for the summer thus far, it's nice to know that in four weeks, I will have completed my very last term paper. Barring that damn Biology class I have to do this July, I'll be ready to sing: "No more teachers, no more books! No more teacher's dirty looks!" That's always a nice thing, I think.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

My parents are trying to quit smoking. This is undeniably a good thing. But at the moment, it is also an undeniably unpleasant thing. If the cigarettes don't kill them, by the end of this, I really might. They're awful. I can't move without them screaming. I can't sit still without them screaming. Damn it's unpleasant. Top it off with the fact that we're working on the house and even ordinarily relationships would be strained. Damn, it's unpleasant. But I'm happy they're doing it. I really am. It's worth the pain in the ass it's causing. I don't know why in hell anybody'd ever take up smoking. I can maybe understand it back in my parents day; hell, my mom's been smoking for over 40 years. But with anybody my age, it's just a frustrated death wish.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Sorry I haven't been updating lately. I'm having a lot of computer trouble. I got rid of my virus problem only to hit network problems.

I've had a really lazy weekend. I didn't really do anything worth mentioning. I took a lot of long walks with my dog. I read a lot; all for school though, so not a lot worth mentioning either.

Growing up sucks. Anyway, off to read more.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Today I drove past my grandmother's old house on my way to town. I was surprised by the welt of emotion that hit me. It's not the first time I've been by since it sold, but it was the first time that I took a good look at the old place in a long time. I guess I've been trying not to think about it.

When I was a little kid, I thought my grandmother's house was magical. Though I don't suppose, in my adult estimation, that the place is more than a century old, when I was little it seemed as if that house had always been there. As if God Himself had created it when He formed the heavens and the earth. That old brick house seemed ancient. And it was seeped in antiquity.

It was so much different than my own house. Every room was filled with books. Old books, new books, hardcover books, books with the covers long torn off. Books that smelt of mildew; books that I could wrap myself up in on a long winter afternoon. And books weren't all. It seemed as if there were endless rooms, and endless new discoveries to explore.

On the first floor, we always entered through the backdoor. It led into the kitchen, where there was an old timey woodburning stove. In the heat of that stove, my grandmother would tell me stories about being a little girl in Buffalo; how poor she was, and how she loved her father and mother, and the lessons they taught her. Her parents were both the children of immigrants; her mother grew up speaking French, and she had taught my grandmother some when she was a little girl. My grandma would teach me bits and pieces of what she could still recall as I sipped my chocolate milk.

If you walked through the kitchen to your left, it would take you to a giant dining room, the centerpiece of which, in my childhood estimation, was my grandfather's desk. It was always filled with papers, and if I asked him, he'd give me paper and a pen and I'd draw pictures for him. I liked to use his desk; it smelled of cherries, and it made me feel sophisticated to roll back the top and use his gold-tipped pens. And there were always pictures everywhere. Pictures hung on walls, tucked into the corners of mirrors and picture frames, scattered about the dining room table. Pictures of my brother and I, or pictures of my cousins; pictures of aunts and uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers, relations so old and obscure that no one alive today can recall for certain exactly who they were. I liked the aged-brown photos, and when there was nothing to do, I would hide under grandpa's desk and make up stories about the people in the pictures. Stories like how the young man in the naval uniform and the beautiful girl with long black hair were lovers and married young. But the man died in the war, and the girl died of sadness soon after, and all that was left of them was the little infant in the christening dress, with tears running down her face. And that little girl grew up with a hard life, like Oliver Twist. But she grew up at last, and married a navy man, and they lived happily ever after, and had many children of their own. And sometimes, I think, on sunshiney days, that little girl grew up to be a pirate. And once, perhaps, I believe she became a mermaid.

But further back still, there was an enclosed porch. And in the summer, my grandmother would play games with me there. Her favorite was checkers, which she always let me win. But my favorite was Dominos, which, not coincidentally, she also always let me win. And when my cousins were around, we would go to the porch and play school. My cousin Julie was always the teacher, and I was always the bad student. My cousin Joey was the good student; he always was a suck up. Julie and Joey would always make me stand in the corner there, which I hated because it was filled with spider webs. I'd cry until my mother came to rescue me. Then all of the adults would bribe my tears away with candy and chocolate milk. There were perks to being the youngest.

Upstairs was my aunt Lilly's room. And of all the people in my family, I loved Lilly the most. She would take me to her room and let me rustle through her things. She would let me play with the little dolls that she had brought back with her from Japan. She'd tell me stories, and recite poetry to me that I was too young still to understand. But I would remember it anyway, and would recite it back to her again the next time I saw her. It made her happy, and I loved to make her happy. When she died, they cleaned out her room. And the room seemed so empty without her little pictures on the walls. Pictures of birch trees that she'd cut out of magazines. Pictures of her when she was young; pictures, for instance, of my grandmother, an aunt, and Lilly herself, no older than I am now, at the top of a tree they had climbed. It was strange for me then, and even now, to think of Lilly that young and that carefree. When I knew her, she was in her eighties, fragile and senile. She had never married, nor had children of her own. I'm told by my father that I remind him a lot of Lilly. There's always a tinge of sadness in the remark. But I'm glad to be likened to her. She was gentle, and kind, and no one who ever knew her disliked her long.

But upstairs, too, was the pool room. It was giant, and as far as I was concerned, haunted. The pool table managed to draw me in, but I refused to be left in there alone. On the wall there hung the picture of my grandfather's mother. It was a beautiful old portrait, and she was a beautiful woman. But something about her eyes bore through you, and made you feel like you weren't alone. I knew that she had died when my grandfather was only a baby, and that he loved her. I knew that I should love her too. But I didn't. Those eyes made me feel guilty, like she knew all of the bad things I'd ever done. It was frightening, but also somehow solemn. She wasn't threatening, really, just disconcerting. I knew she would forgive me for my faults; after all, I was her granddaughter. In my unreligious childhood, that old portrait of my great-grandmother was, in a strange sense, the closest thing I knew to the presence of God.

And that was just the house. Beyond the house there were miles of farmland. There was the pond, where we camped and went fishing. There were acres of woodland that we went hiking in. When I was little, I learned by heart every nook and cranny of that land. I knew where deer gathered to drink, where snakes slithered to avoid the midday heat, and where the Old Tree was. The Old Tree, my father always told us, had survived three lightning strikes, and though it never looked healthy enough to survive even another year, the gnarled old thing seemed never to die. It just grew more twisted, and more ugly, and I knew it was important. I knew that tree was sacred; a creature too stubborn to die. Beautiful because it was bold enough to be gnarled and disfigured.

Even now, as an adult, when I spend more time each summer checking my email than walking around in the country, when I need to escape the pressures of my life, part of me escapes to my grandmother's land. I unconsciously walk the path to the Old Tree. I lounge under the willows by the pond and listen to the bullfrogs croaking as evening comes down. I stare in awe at my great-grandmother's portrait on the wall. I think of all the characters in all of the stories I ever told myself as a child, and wonder about who they might have been. I try to remember my grandma's stilted, long-forgotten French. I try to remember how good chocolate milk was when you're little, and the stove is giving off warmth, and your grandmother is telling you what it was like to be a little girl in a time so far back when they didn't even have chocolate milk.

It's strange to think that I'll never walk those paths again. That I'll never take my kids fishing or camping or sledding or hiking back at the pond. It's strange to think that the place that I always go to get away is no longer a place I can go to get away, except in my dreams. I can't believe that anyone will ever love that old place as much as I did. But somehow I know that the magic supercedes my own interests. Ownership is a silly manmade construct. The Old Tree doesn't care who owns it; it doesn't have any such concept. It will keep growing, and gnarling, and twisting until it finally decides, of its own stubborn volition, that its ready to die. And it won't care if I'm there to see it. Real magic, real beauty, is like that. It keeps on being beautiful even when no one's looking. And somehow, that's a comforting thought to me tonight.

In the world, there's beauty. And it doesn't care if anyone's watching it. It shines because it was designed to shine. It lives because life's breath is all it knows and is ever-flowing through it. Eternal death can't touch it, and even the forgetfulness of man can't erase it. Beauty is; its an absolute. And sometimes in life, for a short while, we are allowed to see it; a foreshadowing, it seems, of the face of God here on Earth.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Today has been a particularly productive, if not altogether an unsatisfying, day. That is to say, while I've accomplished much, none of the accomplishments have been all that worth feeling good about.

For instance, it was very productive indeed when, after three hours of effort, I managed to de-spyware my computer. But somehow, it was still unsatisfying. Unsatisfying because: A) I never should've gotten that spyware on my computer in the first place, and I still can't figure out how it got there; B) I should've been more humble and just downloaded Spybot earlier instead of fussing with my registry files for three hours; and, finally, C) I never did manage to fix the problem manually, which hurts my ego more than just a little bit.

It was also productive when I finished all of my assigned readings for the day. And yet, it was unsatisfying that I had to finish the Second Shepherds Play during my ueber boring English class. And it was unsatisfying that though I finished 100-pages of this book I have to read on Muhammad Ali, the book was, in fact, on Muhammad Ali and therefore very, very boring. And it was perhaps the most important bit of productivity of the day that I finished my first article on the Ba'th Party in Syria, the topic on which I'm doing my 598 paper; and yet, that too was unsatisfying. I've realized that I don't give two whits about my topic, and yet, I don't have anything more interesting to do. And I've already done enough work on it that I don't really feel like starting anything else.

Anyway, that's how the day's gone. I mean, it's been okay. And I did get a bit of, what I think is, good news. I will be able to attend my university's field trip to New York this May. It'll only cost me $100, and maybe less. I'm supposed to get some financial aid for it, apparently. That would be nice. But bad news too. I probably won't be able to attend my family reunion in Kentucky this May, on account of no one would be around to take care of the dogs, and mom's being stubborn about letting anyone come out to the house to feed them.

Yeah, well, this is more inane detail about my life than anyone really needs to hear. Looking back on this blog, I wonder why I wrote it all. Then I remember that this is sort of how high-productivity blogging goes. You write a lot, but it's sort of unsatisfyingly bland. In any case, I'll end on that note, since it seems to suit the theme of the day.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

You are Emily Dickinson! Not all that much is
known about Emily Dickinson, probably because
she holed herself up in her room and wrote
poetry. She didn't have very many connections
with the world outside her house, and her
poetry is very introspective and
compartmentalized. You need to get out more.

Which famous poet are you? (pictures and many outcomes)
brought to you by Quizilla

You are St Brigid's Cross: St. Brigid is an Irish
saint who hand-wove a cross,out of rushes she
found by the river. She made the cross while
explaining the passion of our Lord to a pagan

What Kind of Cross are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

which art movement are you?

this quiz was made by Caitlin

Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"

You are blue collar and Rock n Roll. You Work hard and party harder.

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, the Fifth Duke of Portland!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

You are William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, the Fifth Duke of Portland!

Sometime Marquis of Tichfield, Earl of Portland, Viscount Woodstock, Baron of Cirencester, co-heir to the Barony of Ogle and renowned as the finest judge of horseflesh in England, you took the tradition of aristocratic eccentricity to unprecedented heights. Having inherited the stately home of Welbeck Abbey, you proceeded to construct miles of underground tunnels and a ballroom, in pink, beneath it. The ballroom was complete except for one small detail. It had no floor. Despite this vast home, you lived exclusively in a suite of five rooms, each one also pink.

Having been turned down by your opera singer objet d'amour, Adelaide Kemble, in your youth, you suffered a broken heart and never married. This did not stop you from caring deeply about the wellbeing of your servants. Occasionally you would even help them muck out the stables. However, you did not neglect discipline, forcing disobedient underlings to skate themselves to exhaustion on your subterranean skating rink. Servants were given strict instructions regarding conduct: if they met you in a corridor, they were to ignore your existence while you froze to the spot until they were out of sight; and a chicken was to be kept roasting at all times in case you felt like sneaking into the kitchen for a snack.

You became ever more eccentric with age. You built another tunnel, this time to the railway station, through which you would ride your carriage. When you reached the station your carriage, with you inside, would be hoisted up onto the train in its entirety.

Upon your death, your multitude of titles passed to your cousin, who was obliged to delve into your curious domain to find your body once the servants had reported your absence. Entering your private rooms, he found that, aside from a commode in the centre of your bedroom, the only objects in the whole suite were hundreds of hatboxes, each containing a single brown wig.

I'm an irredeemably eejitous, moderate, not-too-generous, not-too-selfish, pathetically simple-minded, dribbling child!
See how compatible you are with me!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

How Compatible Are You?
Our highly complex set of computer algorithms has determined you to be: an irredeemably eejitous, moderate, not-too-generous, not-too-selfish, pathetically simple-minded, dribbling child. Paste the following into your Web page, journal or forum, and you can find out how compatible your friends would be with you. You never know, it could be the start of something more ... or you might have to go and find people who actually like you.

Are you damned?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey


Though you are leaving this life in God's grace, you haven't quite been able to stop youself from sinning. Our God is an angry God, and requires that you serve your time in limbo before you pass through the pearly gates. Some theologians believe that while you are resting here you won't know that eventually you will reach heaven, causing terrible doubts and hopeless speculation. Good luck.

Not gay at all then.
Which Famous Homosexual are you?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

Can it, Warhol!

Not traditionally remembered as a gay artist, you - together with the Factory, your band of fellow artists - created such memorable works as the repeated Campbell's soup paintings and Eat: a forty-minute film of a man eating a mushroom. You also were responsible for the Velvet Underground, the band that launched Lou Reed on the world.

Your body of homoerotic art has also suggested, to many art historians at least, that your sexual preferences lean towards the man-meat variety. The way you dress, do your hair, act and speak also affected a generation of gay citizens, and influenced the mass culture forever. Blah.

I am Rickets. Hear your bones go boing.
Take the Affliction Test Today!
A Rum and Monkey disease.

Congratulations, you're rickets!

Caused by insufficient phosphorous, vitamin D and/or sunlight, you cause those unlucky enough to suffer you to have swelling in the joints, and bending of the longer bones (such as those found in the legs) in growing children.

You're not very prevalent in affluent societies any more - but don't worry, there's always the third world!

Happy Easter!

And happy return to regular blogging.