Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hit the Ground Running

London: September 22, 2012

 Durham, England:

Friendly place, Durham.

Glorious afternoon

The perfect card

One's dreams on one's sheets

glimpse from my desk


1. I traveled up with one suitcase. I'm eagerly looking forward to getting some of my things when Fran comes up (Tuesday!) and even more excited to get stuff out of storage in Edinburgh.  I am learning to be content in being unsettled.

2. Teacher Training Day was last week.   The general aura in the air was intimidation.  But I just felt ready. I've been waiting so long to get to do what I love, and now it's here. I am unbelievable eager to begin.

3. This will be a full week.  I will give one paper twice this week, and oh I am nervous. I will see my advisor, I will attend more training, I will help Fran move in, I will go to Newcastle and speak, and I will go up to Edinburgh on Friday.

4.  On Saturday I will go to Iona Abbey for a week. It is ill-timed, but I am looking forward to an experience on an isolated island in the Hebrides which was one of the leading centers of manuscript production in the Middle Ages by Benedictine monks.  Each day, I will chop carrots, clean floors, attend services, and go on walks with people I have never before met. You can pray for me to be brave.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Badgers and papers and fridays

click for source

It's Friday.  Today I handed in a paper I've been working on for months to my supervisor, ate 3 oatmeal raisin cookies, and sat by the river in the afternoon sunshine. There's a documentary on badgers I want to see on BBC iplayer. Ya'll, if that's not a Friday I don't know what is. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In this past week

1. Dinner party on Friday. Fab.

2. Twelfth Night in the Globe.  OMGSH BEST PLAY I'VE EVER SEEN

3. Sunday walk through the new forests, with wild horses that just graze about

4. I moved up to Durham. Durham, England.  In the midst of a storm.

5. Fran got a job.

6.  A quote I love, from Thomas Malory.

Will write more soon!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Thoughts

near Port Quinn

"Yes-love," he thought again quite clearly.  "But not love which loves for something, for some quality, for some purpose, or for some reason, but the love which I--while dying-- first experienced when I saw my enemy and yet loved him.  I experienced that feeling of love which is the very essence of the soul and does not require an object.  Now again I feel that bliss.  To love one's neighbors, to love one's enemies, to love everything, to love God in all His manifestations.  It is possible to love someone dear to you with human love, but an enemy can only be loved by divine love."
- Tolstoy, War and Peace

Okay so I promise that's the last I'll talk about Tolstoy. Promise. Other than I read the entire thing on my kindle.  I traveled so much I suppose it was worth it, but I like to highlight and underline and rant in the columns. I can highlight via kindle, but boy, can you never find the quote you're looking for.  This quote I put up? Not the one I wanted. So we're friends, now, I guess. Me and kindle.  Now I'm onto to Middlemarch.  I've heard it's brilliant.

So yesterday, I went to the library and pulled out a dozen books, all on the Holy Grail. Me being me, I got super-excited and began reading portions of books and greedily taking notes.  After several hours, something didn't seem right. And then my brain just stopped. Like a back-logged drain, I couldn't take in anymore of anything. I'm not even sure how I made it home. I couldn't even walk up the stairs. I had to crawl. I could barely pull myself into a bath. That verse, "Much study wearies the body"-- well, it's true.

Tonight. Tonight is a dinner party simply because the Goodisons are glamorous. Tomorrow we're all off to the Globe to see Twelfth Night.  And now for the super-exciting news. I pack my bags for Durham on Sunday and Monday I move. Whoop and a holler! I have a house, a house, with a bedroom that has my name on it. What is happiness? A room of one's own.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Escape of Indy and Felix

Bunnies, doing hard time. Look at that hutch. How could they have possibly escaped?

On Friday afternoon, I'm a bit dazed and hungry, decide I'll cook up something tasty for dinner, grab my coat and go lock the house door. When I go to lock the house door, I look through the French windows and see Felix hopping about.  I don't really think twice about it at first. Felix and Indy go outside every day to hop in the run. In the run. I double take. Felix was OUTside the run. Holy smokes, batman.

Felix looks at me. He's just beside his hutch looking at me, perhaps pleasantly.  I unlock the door, push out his cage, and hope he'll run into it as a place of safety. As I go to corner him off, Fly comes out in the yard. Most days, he just sniffs at Felix and Indy.  One day he ate their food, but that's about as far as it goes. Each day there are about a hundred rabbits on their lawn, grazing away. Fly doesn't blink at them ever. But today, when he sees Felix outside, he wants to play. I order him to sit and stay, and then turn my back. Before I know it Fly zooms up to Felix and performs the deepest play bow ever. Mentally I'm preparing to lose him, lose them both.  Fly would just have to play a little too hard, and whoops, it's Of Mice and Men, oh shucks, didn't mean to do that, all over. 

Felix, not paralyzed like I am, runs to the back of his cage to investigate. I grab him and shove him in.  He looks rather pitiful there.

I quickly look around to see if Indy is about. No sign of her. I wallow through the entire perimeter of their yard.  It is a huge yard, and the crannies and crevices she could be in are endless. I begin to cry and then cry harder because I'm cross with myself for crying

. Indy has always had a penchant for escaping. I almost wish she could have babies so if she runs away for ever at least I can see her black and fluffy offspring grazing on the lawn. But wait, how did they escape?

And then I see it.  A patch of uneven ground I put the hutch on forms a perfect gap to squeeze through. The height of the grass hid this when I moved it that morning.  That morning, what had I said to the bunnies? "I know you probably don't like me very much and want to run away, but I like you and you make me happy. I'm glad I own you." Geeeeeez. I need to quite my 9-5 and open my own shrink line I'm so prophetic.

No sign of Indy and I give her up for lost. Fran's family take turns in consoling me. I run to the store to take my mind off of things. I begin to cook and keep glancing at Felix's cage; he seems so forlorn and it'll just be him and me.  Why on earth do I love these stupid animals.  Crrrriickey I'm never having kids.

Then, Fran's mum comes down the stairs and beams that she has seen Indy, in the neighbor's garden, munching away on grass.  About five of us troop out, and to my delight, she's just grazing in a walled garden. She didn't run away into the nettle patch after all!

Next what ensues is practically a scene from Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGregor's garden. We get out a hoe and a rake, rusty English ones.  We chase Indy, that dern fast critter, until she runs under some piling between us and the wall. By shoving the rake handle down, we gently prod her out.  Fran's mom stands at the hole, ready for Indy to run.  And she bolts out! Bolts like Usain so fast there's no chance of catching her, and she's out of the walled garden.

We heard her back in and creep up like those injuns in the movies on a cowboy at a campfire, 'cept Indy can see us and those cowboys never knew what was coming.  Sizing up the weakest one of us, she runs, at me, nearly past me, until I pull out my ol' soccer-goalie skills and make a dive that would have easily bested Robert Green.  And I have her in my arms, her heart pounding like a choo-choo train. I want to cry and laugh and sing and whoop and holler and collapse with a bottle of gin-- all at once. Dern, stupid animals. Wriggling their way into humans hearts and then leaving without a fare-ye-well. They should be ashamed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Great River Race

This past weekend London held the Great River Race where 320 boats competed in rowing 21 miles along the Thames. All boats must have four oars, one passenger, and one cox. It was a gloriously sunny day and one of the most exciting spectacles I've witnessed. There were so many different boats. Celtic long boats, dragon boats, giggs, Celtic ceremonial boats, ones with ornamental dragons as head pieces, pontoon boats. In the words of one man there, "This is such a great spectacle because there is absolutely no negative energy present." Too true!

I saw Fran and the others set off for their starting time, and they were cooking. My job was to drive along in the car and cheer them on their way. They began just before Tower Bridge, off of Canary Wharf, and us driving could barely catch up with them. Driving in London is phenomenal, and the bus really is the way to see the city, not the ever convenient underground. But we drove along, following the river, in severe traffic. We had one designated view point before we were to pick them up: Hammersmith.  We drove for so long, and nearly missed them. It was faster to row to Hammersmith than for us to drive! With only two minutes to spare, we cheered them on, then raced to the finish.

We admired the many boats.

Boats of olden days.

Dragon boats.


Celtic boats with dragon heads.

The crew #36 putting the boat into the water.

The crew preparing to set off.

The "boys" setting off!

I was in a car driving alongside the river: the queen's family,

Big Ben from the car

the eye along the Thames

Driving next to parliament

At Hammersmith, cheering them on! They are second from the left

And the finish!!

The ensuing party.

Happy passenger and cox.

The entire crew.

 The crew finished 35th out of 320. Not too shabby!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tangental obsessions

Kitty and Levin in Anna Karenina. Click for source.

There is so much I should write about: the Great River Race in London; moving up to Durham in the next week; how Felix and Indy escaped; the upcoming trip to see Twelfth Night at the Globe.  But no, not today. Last night I went to see Anna Karenina, only having known the basic outline of the story, and I am smitten. Instead of putting me off reading the book, I came away with a sense of its perfectness, and like the indistinct outline of trees on a hazy morning, the movie only pointed me to a dim perception of its greatness.  Tolstoy was a flipping genius. 

I'm reading through War and Peace right now and I'm not even done but know it's the best book I have ever read. And it's life changing. Or affirming, very deeply and harshly, the things I already know to be true and beautiful and right and horridly wrong.  It's agonizing because there are so many pages, and the scrutinizing gaze that Tolstoy so aptly animates his figures is also turned on the reader, and I can't help but squirm as page after hundred page I lie under its gaze. Every decision, every moral predicament, every reason behind behavior, turns back and heaps itself onto my own head, stripping me from any judgement, only furrowing internal contemplation.  I firmly believe Tolstoy is perfecting my soul. Today, I should be perfecting this paper, and with the heinous amount of money I'm pouring into my PhD, I should be doing more than a minimal amount of work.  But today all I can think of is the perfection of my soul, and while I have the luxury of piling into my day, anything I wish, or wish to exclude, without the shackles of a nine-to-five, I will step into the garden with it's slanting September light, and read to my heart's content. Wish me, in the words of Kipling, "good hunting." 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not a Child Anymore

circa 1993

 [I wish I had some of those painful childhood photos, but alas. Instead it's me and dog. Again.]

What is it that makes childhood such a haunting thing, to strive and strive to attain some ideal of happiness once there, now lost, how it shapes and forms thoughts now, and how the smallest moment impacts so profoundly: a teacher not giving an enthusiastic response to your answer; wondering if it was okay to wear your cowboy boots without asking your parent's permission;  learning to pour the sweet tea pitcher all by yourself.

But for all that, here is a deeply vain list for how I HAVE changed since I was wee:

1. I will eat the cheese off my pizza now.
2. I've gotten worse at playing board games. I get so competitive now, while I really didn't care if I won or not when I was young. I considered it beneath my dignity to get too worked up.
3. I memorize things less. Bible verses, poems, song lyrics, anything I liked I would take to memory.
4. I am no longer infatuated with Big Bird, American Girl Dolls, or NSYNC.
5. When I was younger, I would refuse to play with children my own age and sit at the table to listen to adult conversations.  Now, I will often excuse myself from the table to go play with any children present. I miss being a nanny quite a lot.
6. I now like going to church. How I used to hate it!
7. My music taste has improved. From this to this.  How embarassing.  I will blame listening to this for an hour and a half every school day. Ugh.
8. I no longer despise playing the piano.
9. I no longer cry when I have to dance.  It will be bad, with no sense of rhythm, but it does happen.
10. Ponytails are not the only option. For the longest time I would only wear my hair up in pony tail and nothing would convince me to bring it down.
11. I love my sister to pieces.  There was a time when it was not so harmonious and I grudge her for living. But now! She is the salt of the earth and I think so highly of her.

What an exercise of vanity! I hope you weren't so deeply flawed as a child and but most importantly, that you had much better taste in music...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Lately, things have been so full, especially on weekends. From the past few weeks, here's what's been up in pictures, which includes a flurried trip to Cornwall two weeks ago now and London this past weekend.

+ taken a hurried trip down to Cornwall
+ bike ride on the Camel trail
+ crabbing in Padstow-- with only a line and bait
+ lovely sunsets on the point
+ markets in Chichester
+ hasty trip to London on a lovely warm day
+ seeing Prim from Singapore-- my old neighbor
+ visiting Chinatown, London. Food. So. Good.
+ walks along the Thames
+ seeing my old classmate from Singapore, Michele
+ meeting Ptolemy, the tortoise
+ birthday party croquet

Some things not on photos: 
+ campfires and grilling out
+ successful entry to the British Library
+ Indian snooker
+ stretch of unbelievable good weather
+ skyping with my mema
+ reading my sister's new blog
+ getting along with my kindle

Two huge stresses have been relieved from my mind:
1. A paper idea. I'm to present a paper in a few weeks time, and all summer I have been thinking about it and coming up with squat.  Yesterday, after praying, inspiration hit me. So very relieved!
2. My FAFSA finally came through, now allowing me to grab my kit and caboodle and head up to Durham now very shortly.  This has been a trauma and drama and I'm so glad for it to be sorted!