29 October, 2008

so many territories

Emily stitched leaves together and hung them from our ceiling. They look magical, or "so very Anthropologie," as Sarah H. put it.

I am not actually enjoying Faulkner that much, which makes me feel a little guilty, because I know I'm supposed to, raving about stream of consciousness and all that jazz. But this isn't really stream of consciousness. It's like a waterfall of consciousness, and sometimes, it's just too much.

On Monday, while I was in the newsroom, I overheard one of the editors talking to a new reporter, a girl who recently fled Venezuela because of the intense violence. The editor asked her if it was true that kidnappings were common, and the girl said, "Yes, they are, they're called 'express kidnappings,' because when you stop your car in the street, people will jump in and grab you."
"Really? And then what?"
"They hold you for ransom for a little while until your parents can pay it."
"Oh, so it's not like, scary, or anything?"
A blank look from the Venezuelan girl.
"No. It's very scary. It's a kidnapping."
Duh, DTH, duh.

I decided yesterday that, if I have time, I want to take basic French senior year.

Lately I have been uncommonly productive. This will only last a few days, though, so I'm trying to enjoy it while I can.

I mean, it's just really persuasive. Because I have never been so deeply terrified by a wink before.

“At the approach to the bridge, in the smell of the little restaurant kitchens, there was a confusion of streetcars, of people waiting to board them, of carts crossing the bridge. It suddenly seemed to me that, coming from an inn with this woman, I had nothing to do with a world that had gone on moving without me. The world and I were controlled by separate destinies, taking us in separate directions. A sort of quiet always came over me at evening, but this time the quiet was as of a complete loss of strength, and it brought with it a vague, indefinable sadness. I was not especially sorry to say good-bye to the woman. Nor did I regret a day spent in dissipation. Nor was it that the flowing of the waters somehow moved me. I had exhausted the man-made pleasures that a city has only for those born in it, and now, in the wake of the dream, it was as though I were looking back over the whole long series of dreams.” -- Nagai Kafu, "The Peony Garden"

23 October, 2008

dress yourself for work

Now it is cold.

Lately, I feel spiritually messy. As if my soul needs to have a yard sale. As if I can't figure out which way is God's and which way is the Rest of the World's. It is not so much the loss of faith as it is the loss of direction. I need to pray more. I always feel better when I do. I like what God tells lazy spiritual pilgrims like myself in Jeremiah: "But you, dress yourself for work; arise." Be ready for action; be not concerned with the haziness of your spirit. Rather, chase Me. I am clear. I am direct. I am not a poached egg.

Angela Tchou's cartoons have been bringing me considerable happiness lately. I like being in class with her every day; she liberally applies snark and wit to almost every conceivable topic: corn syrup, John McCain, The N&O, China. Endless fun!

One of the most beautiful feelings in the world is writing a good English paper.

The Sound and the Fury! Wooh! William Faulkner, CALM DOWN!

Sat in Bull's Head today and drafted my good English paper (on "The Waste Land," as you may have guessed from my last post) and watched people when the thoughts weren't coming. There was an old man who looked like actor James Cromwell (you know, the old farmer in "Babe") and he was carrying a bright yellow bike helmet. He sat in the sun and tore strips out of The New York Times. I don't know what he was looking for, but I hope he found it. There was a boy with his hand on his throat who stared out the window, almost without blinking, for ten minutes. And a girl, reading a novel, with the stem of a white daisy across her coffee lid. The boy with the economics textbook and the unpleasantly juicy cough. The other old man in suit and tie who was intently reading the dust jacket to a book.

And all of this is just to say that I like watching ordinary people do ordinary things. As Philip Larkin said, "I like to read about people who have never done anything spectacular." So do I. And I like to write about them too. I have no talent for plot, for inventing characters on quests, for concocting a dazzling mystery or a gripping climax. I am not Francine Rivers and I am not Dan Brown and no, I am not J.R.R. Tolkien and I do not wish to be. Rather, I like writing about people in kitchens, walking to the store, smoothing their hair with an automatic sweep, curling their fingers around pens. Because of this, I know no one will read such things, but this is my fate. And I am happy with it.

I've been thinking about light lately. And how a photographer's responsibility is to look at light all the time. To track the movements of light and predict how it will change. I like that. But every time I look at K. Barge's photos from Spain and elsewhere in Europe, my camera lust flares up again. I want to do the whole photography thing well one day.

Now it is time to gripe with Emily. A fundamentally strong and mysterious woman, she. I love her very much. And tonight I love her especially when her mouth gets away from her and no one really knows what she means. Like abortion sandcastles in the quad.

You, me, and all the kings and queens
Buried in the junkyard
And every time the herald cherubs sing
We rattle with the car parts
I was born to lie here patiently
Be dragged on by the black star
And you were told to glow majestically
And love until your hands bleed
-- Page France, "Junkyard"

20 October, 2008

shantih shantih shantih

"Antonia beckoned the boy to her. He stood by her chair, leaning his elbows on her knees and twisting her apron strings in his slender fingers, while he told her his story softly in Bohemian, and the tears brimmed over and hung on his long lashes. His mother listened, spoke soothingly to him, and in a whisper promised him something that made him give her a quick, teary smile. He slipped away and whispered his secret to Nina, sitting close to her and talking behind his hand." - Willa Cather, My Antonia

I like...
... blogging when I'm supposed to be studying or writing essays
... writing slapdash book reviews
... going home for fall break
... tromping through the high grasses of allusions in "The Waste Land"
... romanticizing Eastern religions
... precision in language
... bringing out my fall clothes
... blogging without complete sentences and paragraphs
... the smell of lilies when I walk in my room
... chocolate
... being able to translate sentences in French on my own. Romance languages are for babies.
... having to read Greek myths to understand Eliot; learning about Tiresias and Philomela
... The New York Times Book Review

I love...
... My Antonia
... knowing Scripture
... that Robert Pinsky (yes, Robert Pinsky!) chose Guion's poem "Camp Easter" as the best in this semester's "The Cellar Door"
... that Saturday is coming

Then spoke the thunder
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms...
- T.S. Eliot, from "The Waste Land"

(*Title of this post is the last line of "The Waste Land." Hindi, also the ending of an Upanishad. Eliot says its translation is equivalent to "The Peace which passeth understanding.")

14 October, 2008

no he didn't

Someone wins boyfriend of the week...
(Lilies + the teacup I bought + VanGogh.)
Deeply disinclined to study for tomorrow morning's exam. I'd rather get in bed and read Zora Neale Hurston or watch "30 Rock" clips.

But I can make it because I'm going home tomorrow! Really looking forward to it. This week has been full of little stresses and successes and I'm frankly ready for the comfortable madness of home.

Meat is the new bread,

11 October, 2008

chapel hill: the gateway to carrboro

I've had a lovely weekend; my litany of reasons:

1. I met Cider on Friday afternoon and went running with her instead of playing frisbee. We bonded immediately and she told me that even though R.E.B. treated her beautifully, she liked me and was already looking forward to the next time we met. Same to you, love. (Dogs cheer me like nothing else, I've decided.)

2. Had dinner with Emily and Julia last night at Carolina Coffee House. I realized I love the way they speak, both of them: without qualifiers or fear. They see things directly and never cut corners.

3. Got to hear Guion's eloquent and persuasive defense of Anglicanism last night, along with his grievances against the Emergent Church. (And, Mom, we didn't fight about it. Not yet. Although we did argue politely about the Reformation.) I think I understand the traditional service much better now, as a devout non-denominational child. And I like the implications of the centrality of meditation in the service; the de-emphasis on the sermon and focus rather on the liturgy and the Eucharist; I wish there was more of that in the non-denominational tradition. We do not pray and meditate enough.

4. Laughing with Guion

5. Had my first visit to the gorgeous Carrboro Farmer's Market this morning with Catherine and J.Clem. I wish I had the time and money to buy all of this beautiful, organic produce. And study the movements and habitat of Carrboro folk, for they are truly a breed of their own. (You know you're in Carrboro when plastic bags disappear and everyone suddenly has more visible hair--be it dreadlocks, grizzly beards, or armpit hair for the ladies.) I was tempted to buy a plant for our room, though. Maybe next week. After the Farmer's Market, we went to the PTA thrift shop and I got three books (The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene; The Longest Journey, E.M. Forster; The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers) and a teacup and saucer for $3. Glory! I have a complete weakness for both books and ceramics, especially teacups. J.Clem was laughing about how we all "bought ourselves" during our Carrboro field trip: I got books and a teacup; Jonathan bought a espresso maker for his Cuban coffee and an assortment of books about Latin America; and Catherine got a bouquet of unusual flowers and a poster of Lambchop. And those are our personalities, summed.

6. Met Megan at Panera and talked to her for almost two hours. I love and respect her so much. It was so good to see her and I hope it'll happen again soon. It's so good to meet with friends who have known you for many years; they seem to understand one swiftly, without needing much explanation or justification. I can talk about how I feel about a situation or a person and Meg will understand without requiring me to elucidate further, drawing on my past that she already knows. The blessing of an old friend.

7. Studying with Emily in the Union. Always entertaining. Reminiscing about our girlhoods, sister wars. Complaining about Microsoft Word's inconsistent formatting and the general mendacity of textbooks. Watching her push lettuce through her teeth to see where the veins break.

8. Found out we're reading Mrs. Dalloway for my Literary Modernism class next semester.

9. Did I mention I bought a teacup?

And all this, so happy, even though I have a difficult exam looming on Wednesday. But as soon as I'm done, I'm headed home and I couldn't be more pleased with a planned movement in that direction. It's always good to go back.

(Title courtesy of infamous and pimpin' UNC economics professor Ralph Byrns, quoted in The Daily Tar Heel a few weeks ago, when asked to provide a new slogan for Chapel Hill.)

08 October, 2008

who wants to be a book critic?

I am full of a weird, quivering excitability tonight. This is because I am frantically thinking about jobs, the publishing industry, the state of journalism in the United States of America, and whether or not I have a chance. Because of this, I am not thinking nearly enough about my poetry midterm that is happening tomorrow at 9:15 a.m.

I am meeting with the career adviser for journalism next Monday and he is going to tell me what to do with my life. Whether I should stick it out with The Daily Tar Heel or whether I should court Algonquin Books for an internship next semester. What kinds of things I need to be looking for. Whether it's even possible to get a job doing what I want to do (read books and then write about them).

All this to say, I am just telling you that I am launching something, largely in preparation for this mystical, dreamlike career: The Unrehearsed Reader. No one has to read it; in fact, I'm not really expecting anyone to, but I am going to write there as often as I can make time for, so when prospective employers ask me what kind of books I've been reviewing, I can say, "Well, none officially, but I do have a BLOG!" And they'll say, "Oh, a BLOG? How ORIGINAL! You're hired!" At least. That's how it plays out in my mind.

So there you go. I'm going to be writing haphazard book reviews.

I am listening to Bjork right now. Guion would be so proud of me.

Still haven't seen Cider yet. My life is lacking a bit of joy because of this.

I want to say, Chad, I still love you even if you love J.R.R. Tolkien. I think I like to rile you up about him because you get so adorable and boyish when you get angry--all florid and clenching your fists and kicking under your chair.

Life Dream that May Never Be Fulfilled: To live in Colorado for a year.

I am going to create a Code of Conduct for Lenoir. Here are the top 4 rules, as of today:
1. Couples: There is no reason that you need to be holding hands while you are looking for food. No reason.
2. Couples: If you have the exact same hair style, maybe you shouldn't be dating.
3. All people: Do not have high-pitched hug fests in front of the escalator and block all traffic from every direction.
4. All people: If you drop your silverware on the floor, pick it up. Don't kick it under a chair.

Okay. I really have to go study some poetry now. Really.

03 October, 2008

there he is, out in the desert

"... because we're a team of mavericks! *direct WINK at camera*"

Name that quote and "increasingly adorable" vice presidential candidate!

Taking a transcendentalist holiday with the Pratts this weekend. Very excited about living deliberately.

Oh, and Cider is good. Not as good as Lewis & Clark, which is still what I'm going to call her, but it's good.

The House may pass the bailout plan. It may or may not work. The stock market is rising and falling like a vicious ocean. Wachovia was sold, along with AIG and a host of other companies that do things with money that I don't understand. Gas is running out all over the south. Palin is a heartbeat away from the presidency. The world is coming to an end? But maybe not. And even if it is, at least today is beautiful. And at least I got to mooch off of the lavishness of the UNC Creative Writing Dept. last night. And read in the graveyard gazebo one last time. And wake up to Emily, patting me on the head, and muttering sleepily, "Oh, hi. I love you." And watch three episodes of "Friends" with her. And shower. And eat three pieces of toast with raspberry jam.

Even still, I am at peace.

"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.'" Matthew 24:26-28