Thursday, May 31, 2007

Because being exhausted and sickly is not enough of a reason for me to stop posting in my blog and go to bed

You know what I just did? Well, actually, what I just did was brush my teeth. But right before that I spent two minutes, two minutes, trying to decide what book I should read while brushing my teeth. I stood there and stared at the books on my shelf and weighed the respective virtues of each so that I would have the best possible tooth-brushing/reading experience.

This is extremely bizarre. I used up the same amount of time that it takes me to brush my teeth in picking a book to read for that amount of time. Two minutes. Not very long. (In case you're interested, I chose Fire and Hemlock. I often choose Fire and Hemlock because I love it so.)

I do this constantly. I am always spending ages choosing a book to break up the monotony of two-minute tasks that require only one hand and thus can be accomplished while reading a book. The bitch about tooth-cleaning is that flossing requires two hands, so I have to pick a hardback that will lie flat and not lose my place, but then when I start brushing my teeth, it is harder to hold a hardback in one hand than it is to hold a paperback, but I can't leave it lying flat because then I'd have to look down in order to read it and I might drip toothpastey saliva on it. Sometimes I say a little prayer at night that God will soften the hearts of the air molecules around my bathroom sink so that they will agree to hold my book for me and turn pages whenever I need the pages turned. Making tooth-cleaning more easily edifying.

They should have doctors for this kind of thing. I need sleep.


My flatmate said today 1) that he was wearing a top tank; and 2) that on a previous occasion he had been given several cocktails including a Long Beach Tea Island.

So there's that.

My city-related epiphany

So I don't like big cities (they tire me out), and I try to avoid them if I can. Except for Manhattan and London.

People do not tend to understand this. They tend to say, "Those are big cities! Those are huge cities! You don't make any sense, you enormous crazy!" Or something along those lines. And you see, until today I could not defend myself against the charge of insanity, except of course by saying that I am not crazy because London and Manhattan, they are just better than other big cities, and that's why. Only I didn't really feel good about saying that, because lots of people are totally crazy about other big cities like San Francisco and Atlanta and Chicago, and they can't possibly all be off their heads.

But today, you see, there was this epiphany that I had. I think what I actually don't like is carful big cities. I think the thing about New York and London is that it's way not handy to have a car there, and you are much better off walking around on your feet and taking the Tube, which will get you everywhere good that you need to go. Or, in emergency situations, maybe a bus, though I have never found this necessary and London buses frighten me.

In other cities, it is helpful to have a car. That is why they are scary. No matter what city I am in, I will inevitably get lost, and I'd far rather not get lost while zooming along at high speeds in the midst of a lot of other people zooming along at high speeds. If I get lost in London, I do not have to freak out, and there is never an occasion where someone says, "Oh wait! I recognize this! Turn left, turn left!", and I panic because there is too much being-lost stress and I forget which one is left and I'm terrified of missing the turn and then I do miss the turn and then I have no idea how to get back again. Which has never happened because I have never driven around any big cities, but I'm sure it would happen because I have no sense of direction and my sense of left and right isn't great and in times of crisis has been known to desert me entirely. If I am walking, I have plenty of time to contemplate my choices, and it is much easier to turn around and go back the way I came if I am on foot.

It is also possible that I like New York because the streets are helpfully numbered, and London because I was shown around it for a month once and consequently know where lots of things are. Today, for instance, I got lost trying to walk from Holborn to Covent Garden, and before I had even begun to approach despair, I spotted Nelson's column way off in the distance and made for it because I knew that there was Charing Cross Station, and from there I could get the Tube to Leicester Square and walk to Covent Garden (though I am not brilliant at getting to Covent Garden from Leicester Square.) But in the event I found a sign saying Covent Garden this way and I followed it and it was that way, so I did not have to go all the way to Trafalgar Square in order to reorient myself.

Today was also notable in that I got to show off London to my darling cousin, who was there for a few days. I love showing off London, and she was an appreciative audience. We ate at Wagamama (yum! but I must stop relying on the one at Southbank, because it's always crowded and also makes me anxious because all the white people are servers there and all the black people are cooks and I can't work out any explanation as to why it should have been arranged that way. There is one at Covent Garden, one on Bloomsbury Street, and one at the Tower of London. Must remember that.), and then we went to Covent Garden and saw the markets and some street performers (who persisted in trying to throw things onto their head using only one foot while balancing precariously on ladders and unicycles). And I showed her the Globe, also. I love the Globe. I LOVE THE GLOBE.

P.S. Percy the fatous imbecile from Black Adder is playing Iago in Othello right now. Go figure. I will definitely be hitting that up. Alone, sadly, because nobody wants to see it with me, due apparently to the fact that Othello overreacts to his suspicions of Desdemona's unfaithfulness. I'm not pointing fingers or anything, but one of the people who has said this to me watches One Tree Hill. So you know. Whatever. I mean, one might argue that Dan kills Keith for no reason, in an overreacty fashion, but hey, it's none of my business, I don't pay no nevermind, I don't say a word, not one single word.

I overheard a man in London saying, "I don't want to watch Mormon TV!" in a very angry voice. I would have thought that I misheard him, but then he said it again. What is Mormon TV? Or perhaps, why is Mormon TV? I wanted to ask him but even more I wanted to get in line to eat chicken katsu curry at Wagamama, so I did that instead. But now that I'm no longer starving, I kind of regret it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Trivial things

The other day Raksha and I went to Wivenhoe, and we were walking along the road when this ambulance started to back up, and it beeped to signal its intent, so we got out of the way, and as we were getting the way a pleasant voice came out of the ambulance and said, "This vehicle is backing up. Please stand well clear. This vehicle is backing up. Please stand well clear." Because I guess it would look bad if the ambulance backed into you and killed you dead.

And another day that wasn't that one, we went to Colchester and we explored the town, but I completely failed to find all the thrift shops (seriously! where did they go? why can't I find them from the Odeon?) and Raksha's shoestring broke and we got really hungry and around 3:00 decided it was time to eat, and we went to La Tasca to get food but we tugged on the door and it wouldn't open so we figured we'd go sit across the street in the shade until it did open, but no one came and no one came and we got impatient around 3:30 and went and tugged on the other door, and that one did open. Er. I'm a big dummy, because actually I've been to La Tasca before and probably I have tried to open the right-hand door and found it unwilling.

I tried to find a hat as well. My godmother gave me money for my birthday, and I decided that it was money to buy myself a vast and beautiful hat like I've always wanted, so I shopped at a bunch of different stores looking for a hat. Unfortunately Raksha is not a big fan of large extravagant hats, so I was never sure what hats were suitable, and the one hat I found that was the right color and the right style was £150, which is in any situation an unjustifiable expense. At Marks and Spencer's I found a really excellent hat that suited me and was beautiful, but it was the wrong color, so I could not get it. But it suited me so much that when Raksha and I went to the toilet, the cleaner guy asked me "Where is the hat?" and I said it wasn't mine, it was the shop's, and I wasn't getting that one, and he said, "Is good. You buy that one, eh? Looksa good." (Though I already knew that it did.)

So our town trip was mainly unproductive. Raksha got a new book to read, and I got Saffy's Angel to read to her, because it is so excellent and charming, and Raksha also got a new shoelace for her boot because the old one broke (hurrah!), but still no hats for me. (Yet.)

And I have two exams yet to do, but thank GOD, I am done with Wretched Wallace Stevens. I had to write about him in two essay questions, and I did not appreciate it. I hope I never encounter that wretched, wretched man again. I hope this is the last time I will ever use my I Hate Wallace Stevens label.

Furthermore, I burned myself the other day when I picked up a tray that had just come out of the oven but because it was not in the oven when I picked it up I assumed that it was cold. I cleverly dropped it quickly and ran cold water over my fingers for a while, and then my flatmate Elliot explained to me how to proceed (not to put ice on it because it would cause trauma to my skin, and to wrap the burned places up in cling wrap in order to keep the moisture in), so I mainly escaped serious scarring.

For the past few days, however, I've had a blister on my middle finger that was white and puffy and looked sort of the way I imagine bubonic plague. And I can't even remember the last time I had a blister, so I didn't know how to proceed. Today I bit it delicately with my teeth (yes, that was unhygienic, but I washed it afterwards and it wasn't as unhygienic as poking it with a dirty needle would have been), and a tiny, tiny bit of water dripped out (which is bizarre!), and now there is pink skin underneath where the blister was, and a circle of white skin around it that has jagged edges because I bit the middle part, and it looks sort of like I have an eye with teeth living in my middle finger.

(Like the Corinthian.)

(So that's cool.)

Am I killing time so that I don't have to prepare to write an essay tomorrow on whether The Tempest is a capitalist and colonialist parable? Yes. Yes, I am.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My friend's sister said McGonagall was evil, and many proofs of this occurred to me when I was taking a shower the other night

It really kind of makes sense. Because there are all these suspicious circumstances, like:

1) McGonagall hanging out at the Dursleys' house after Voldemort dies. What's she doing there? WHAT IS THE DEAL? She's not waiting for Dumbledore (cause she doesn't greet him until he says hey to her first, and besides she asks him what he's doing there). And she totally tries to stop Dumbledore from leaving baby Harry with the Dursleys.

2) McGonagall doing nothing to protect the Philosopher's Stone. Three first-years have managed to find out about it, so obviously it's not as safe and secret as she thinks it is, but she doesn't even bother to check on it. She doesn't even go see whether Fluffy's still sleeping. She doesn't even send a Patronus to Dumbledore to be all, Hey, uh, these kids know about the Stone, is that cool? SKETCHY. (The Internet also thinks it's sketchy that she shows up along with Snape and Quirrell when Harry and Ron knock out the troll. Isn't she supposed to be in the dungeons with the other teachers, since that's where the troll is supposed to be?)

3) In the fifth book, she just totally lets Fudge have a dementor kiss Barty Crouch Jr. Is she that much of a failure? Seriously? She can't do Patronuses? She can't lay the smack down and be all, NO DEMENTORS IN HERE? Or is it that she doesn't want Barty Crouch to give evidence? YOU DECIDE.

4) In the sixth book, she takes Harry away to her office privately and interrogates him, with less and less friendliness, about his private lessons with Dumbledore. What's her deal? Harry's being loyal to Dumbledore's wishes and she should really do the same! Besides, this scene is faintly reminiscent of fake-Moody taking Harry away to his office in the fourth book, and strongly reminiscent of Harry's encounters with Scrimgeour. And neither of them are very nice men.

5) She wasn't in the Order the first time around. That means absolutely nothing, really, but hey, I'm just saying.

6) We've been set up to perceive her as Dumbledore's right-hand woman, but he never seems to tell her anything. Like, ever. EVER. He doesn't tell her why he's leaving Harry with the Dursleys; he sends her out of the room in the fourth book before letting Sirius reveal himself; he doesn't tell her what he's finding out about young Voldemort; he doesn't let her come hang out with him when he escapes from the Ministry. It's just a leetle bit weird, considering how right-hand-womany we're supposed to believe she is, that she's less in Dumbledore's confidence than, for instance, the Weasleys, or Snape. Or Harry, of course.

(I thought of these things in the shower last night. I am often a total genius when I am taking a shower. My brain just works better when there is water falling on my head.)

All this was suggestive, but then I read this interview with her that kinda clinched it for me. The interviewers are asking her whether Snape is evil, and she gives her customary ambiguous answer, and then this happens:

ES: I know Dumbledore likes to see the good in people but he seems trusting almost to the point of recklessness sometimes.
JKR: Yes, I would agree. I would agree.
ES: How can someone so -
JKR: Intelligent -
ES: - be so blind with regard to certain things?
JKR: Well, there is information on that to come, in seven. But I would say that I think it has been demonstrated, particularly in Books 5 and 6 that immense brainpower does not protect you from emotional mistakes, and I think Dumbledore really exemplifies that. In fact, I would tend to think that being very, very intelligent might create some problems and it has done for Dumbledore, because his wisdom has isolated him, and I think you can see that in the books, because where is his equal; where is his confidante; where is his partner? He has none of those things. He's always the one who gives; he's always the one who has the insight and has the knowledge. So I think that, while I ask the reader to accept that McGonagall is a very worthy second-in-command, she is not an equal. You have a slightly circuitous answer, but I can't get much closer than that.

Why's she talking about McGonagall? Nobody is talking about McGonagall! We are talking about Snape, woman! Are Dumbledore's willingness to believe the best of people somehow linked with McGonagall in her mind? We've never had the faintest hint that they are, in the books. Why's she talking about McGonagall?

And, okay, this is weird. She doesn't say, McGonagall is a very worthy second-in-command, but she is not an equal. She says, I ask the reader to accept, etc etc. She describes her answer as circuitous, but the only circuitous thing I perceive in that answer is her hedging about the question of McGonagall.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This old guy I saw in Gatwick Airport today

Today I was standing at the South Terminals arrivals place at Gatwick Airport, and this old guy came hobbling out of the doors feebly pushing a trolley of luggage, and he walked about two feet away from the doors and stood there looking up at the signs that would direct him where to go, and he looked a little bit lost for a minute and then he went, "EMMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

Like, so, so, so loudly. There was so much loudness. And you have to understand that most of the people who were there didn't even shout at the people they were meeting but just waved to alert them to their presence and then celebrated together when they reached each other, in a subdued and decorous fashion. The lady next to me called, "Janice!" when her party arrived, in what would hardly even be categorized as an outdoor voice, and after she had done it she looked at me all embarrassed and explained, "We haven't seen her for twelve years," because yes, she really had to justify the bizarre outburst I had just witnessed.

So everyone kinda looked at him, but Emma did not come to claim him, and he went, "EMMAAAAAAAAA!" again, and she still did not appear, so he tottered a few steps and then a few steps again, and after he'd gone about halfway down the walkway he stopped again, looking extremely disgruntled, and hollered, "EMMAAAAAAA!" one more time. And then I guess he decided that Emma really had ditched him, or else possibly the Gatwick Airport Polite Volume Maintenance staff was ordered in to suppress him, because that was the last I heard of him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Me and English rain

After a long adjustment period, me and the rain in England have finally come to an understanding. When I first got here, I confess that I was inclined to scoff at English rain. It would start to drizzle the tiniest bit, and everyone would shriek and run away and be completely horrified by the incredibly heavy rain that was raining down, while I was like, Dude. It is drizzling. This hardly even qualifies as rain. The clouds are not splitting. They are hardly even spitting. Do not get your umbrellas out for this.

Even when it is quite rainy, there is never quite the same magnificence to it that there is at home, because there is no dramatic thunderstorming. So I sneered at English rain, and it, in return, got me extremely wet while I was still thinking that it did not have the capacity to do that.

But now we are good friends, the English rain and I. Every time it starts to rain, I agree to go to my window and lean out and get drizzled on, and the rain agrees to also drizzle on people who think the rain is a much bigger catastrophe than I think it is, for my viewing pleasure. I like to watch them put on their hoods and scurry along the sidewalks in order to escape. In an obvious way this should be schadenfreude, but I like to think that it is also my abiding love for humanity. I like to people-watch. It's just that it's more fun (at least when you're high up and can't hear what they're saying) if I can watch them trying to get out of the drizzly English rain.

Now the English rain likes me so much that it waited for me to get back from town before it began raining, presumably so that I would be safe and dry and in my tower ready to amuse myself by watching other people get wet. (Cause our deal wouldn't work if I couldn't watch from the tower, and if I were in town, I obviously couldn't watch from the tower.)

Speaking of which, the other night I totally couldn't get to sleep because this guy was puking outside my window for like a half an hour! I'd start to doze off and then I'd hear BWWWW (that is my onomatopoeic approximation of the sound), followed by twenty seconds of spitting noises. At first I was just frustrated because the guy was loud, but then he kept on puking, endlessly, and I began to be concerned that he might be gagging up an organ or plasma or something, so I went to the window to see if he was going to survive. Of course I couldn't really see him, just a blur of white beside a tree, but having thought the thought that he might be dying, I couldn't fall asleep, and every time I heard BWWWW (spit spit spit) I thought, OMG he's going to die because I'm too lazy to call the medical people. But eventually someone came up to him and said, Ruh ruh ruh right? Bruh ruh ruh ruh ruh ruh, and he said, Ruh ruh ruh. Ruh fine. Ruh ruh ruh ruh ruh ruh., so I figured there was nothing to worry about and went to sleep. (I was up high and could not hear them very well, so this is an approximate description of how the conversation went.)

Well, that has nothing to do with English rain, and the rain has stopped now in any case, which means that I can no longer watch Frisbee players and such run for cover. I suppose I had better start studying Jane Austen, which is just my virtuous way of procrastinating for studying Wallace Stevens and Yeats. Why is there so much Wallace Stevens in the world?

Monday, May 14, 2007

You know what I cannot comprehend?

I cannot comprehend how people fail to understand meter. It is just completely beyond me. I've done a fair amount of scanning in my day, in English classes, where half the class had a massive relief attack when my teacher took the meter section off of the final exam and I became furious that the only bit that was a sure thing was gone, and also in Latin classes, where it is less self-evident from just reading it out loud. (Though I have a fond memory of listening to Catullus' "Da me milia basia deinde centum" poem read in meter by a man with a very silly voice.) And I have never had the slightest problem with it. In English, it is so obviously there and so perfectly identifiable that I just don't understand how anyone could miss it.

Because people in my class didn't get it, and I would undertake to explain it to them, and I would say to them, Okay, read this line out loud to me, and they would read the line in meter. They were saying the iambs properly. It wasn't like their brains didn't understand where the stresses went. They just couldn't tell you where the stresses went. But that makes no sense at all. They can say it but they can't hear it. How can that be? MAKES NO SENSE.

But SOFT what LIGHT through YONder WINdow BREAKS?

Right? It scans itself! You don't even have to do anything except make a slanty line on the page every time you accent a syllable, and a half-circle on the page every time you don't accent a syllable. Right?


I now return to my regularly scheduled procrastinating and brooding over whether the people who mark my exam will realize that my handwriting is quite small and thus I am actually writing two to three pages worth of material for the average person when I write one and three-quarters pages of essay. I leave you with this, my present favorite double dactyl:

Patty-cake, patty-cake,
Marcus Antonius,
What do you think of the
African queen?

Duties require my
Presence in Egypt. Ya
Know what I mean?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

There may be no lengths AT ALL to which I will not go in order to avoid studying

Though in my defense, I am studying the most genuine load of crap: Moby Dick, Beloved, The Grapes of Wrath, Robert Frost (he's the only one I like), and Wallace Stevens, for whom my deep distaste is well-documented (and in fact deserves its own category). You'd be procrastinating too.

Aside: New categories entertain me but are not ultimately helpful because I am obsessive enough that I have to go through my old posts and mark them appropriately with the new label that applies to them but did not exist when I wrote them. I should really just limit myself.

Right now I am supposed to be studying for my American lit final. I have virtually nothing in my study guide about Robert Frost, and I have this book checked out of the library called The Major Themes of Robert Frost that would probably assist me in adding material to my study guide, but I cannot bring myself to do it. Instead (this is true), I am making labels for all of my books, so that when my dearest darling friend Rakeesha comes to visit me she will know what every one of my books is about, and thus will be able to choose which (if any) of them she wishes to read.

I swear. I am cutting up pieces of green paper, writing descriptions of each of the books on them, and sticking them painstakingly on the shelf in front of each of the books. With tape. The only reason I am pausing to write this blog post at all is that I can't think how to describe A Hundred Years of Solitude because I haven't read it yet because I am saving it for the plane flight home. And it is possible that when I have finished doing this I will go crazy with it and just start labelling everything: Lotion. Mascara. Toothpaste. Hats., just in case my dearest darling friend Rakeesha gets confused and loses her ability to identify everyday objects.

Shattered Silk: A trashy but good novel with interesting things about old clothes in it. Lorna Doone: A completely ridiculous book set in the time of the Monmouth Rebellion. May be swashbuckling but I never got that far because it was so silly. The Moonstone: A mystery about the theft of a cursed Indian diamond, most delightfully written from multiple points of view. The Grapes of Wrath: Amazingly boring though well-written book about the Great Depression, my least favorite period of American history apart from Reconstruction.

Ah, how usefully I do fill my days.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

George Bush on Tony Blair

President George W. Bush described Blair as "a man who kept his word, which sometimes is rare in the political circles I run in."

Well, yes.

Cleaning up (or, the lengths I will go to in avoiding reading Wallace Stevens)

I cleaned my room today. I have not cleaned my room for several months, so there was a lot to do. It's still a bit messy, but at least now I have gotten rid of all the boxes people sent me things in at Christmas. I've been hanging on to them in case I needed to use them to mail stuff home in at the end of the year, but I've decided to be a wild optimist and assume that I will be able to get everything into my suitcase plus my duffel bag. Hopefully just all into my suitcase, because there are few things less fun than hauling tons and tons of luggage from here to Gatwick Airport. Or from any airport to anywhere, or from anywhere to any airport. I hate the process of getting onto planes, though I love to fly. WHOOSH.

But anyway. I performed an intensive cleaning project today after I got through reading all the Romantic theorists, because I did not want (and do not want) to read the Modernists. I put all of my books on the bookshelf, and it turns out that I own 26 books in England, of which I am only taking three, or possibly four or five, back to my home. The rest I am abandoning to charity shops, because apparently the charity shops come round and hang out in the squares so that students can give them all the crap they don't want anymore. I hope that's true; it will be an impossible nuisance to bring all my crap into town.

I also found some exciting things that I didn't realize I had, including

a) two spare socks that do not belong to me (I have disposed of one because it was yucky, and the other one I believe I accidentally stole from home when I was there over Easter)
b) a little water gun that came out of a Christmas cracker and somehow found its way into my room
c) SO MUCH PAPER. It is ridiculous. I am going to take it into the squares where there is a place to recycle paper, but I have a grave concern that I will fill up the receptacle, and also that once I have done so it will turn out that I am not allowed to put cardboard in
d) a Sunday crossword puzzle that my mother gave me to do on the plane flight to the UK in October. Still undone. I think that on the flight in question I was too busy wishing that baby would just stop crying, or that the chatty guy with children would stop chatting and let me sleep, to do a crossword.
e) the bubble bath that I bought by mistake because I thought it was body wash when I first got here. It is enormous, and shames me because it proves that in a tired state I lose the ability to read.
f) a red bracelet thing that I paid a dollar for to support AIDS a year and a half ago, and a glow-in-the-dark wrist band that I think I stole from someone in England at some point
g) my Slinkie!

And back to Wallace Stevens. DAMN IT. I will have to indulge in frequent imaginative reconstructions of his brutal beating at the hands of Ernest Hemingway (whom, I want to stress, I do not like EITHER).

As I study American literature

I take great satisfaction in knowing that Hemingway and Wallace Stevens both hit each other. First Wallace Stevens punched Hemingway in the face, and then Hemingway got up off the floor and beat the shit out of Wallace Stevens, landing him in the hospital. This suits me just fine, because I do not like Hemingway, but at the moment I reserve my most vehement loathing for Wallace Stevens. I don't have to study Hemingway; in fact it will probably never be necessary (knock wood) for me to read Hemingway ever again. Right now, though, I am being forced to give some of the space in my brain, the space that could be used for, I don't know, becoming acquainted with Anthony Trollope or Saul Bellow or Anthony Burgess or Djuna Barnes (my present book experiments for which I have no time because I am so busy studying Wallace Stevens), I am being forced to give some of that space to Wallace Stevens' wretched poetry and his perfectly idiotic and nonsensical literary theory. So I am really glad that Hemingway beat the crap out of him. Serves him right.

I also do not accept a lack of punctuation. That's just unacceptable. Come on, people. God gave us punctuation out of the love he bears us, and we're just spitting on him if we refuse to use it. It's there for us to use. See, I've just used a period! And look, an exclamation point! And commas, commas everywhere! It's so tidy and organized; it makes such good sense; we comprehend sentences so handily because of the punctuation that explains where the breaks are. Punctuation! Join me, comrades.

(This is aimed at Toni Morrison. You stop that, woman. I don't like your book anyway, but there is no need whatsoever for you to suddenly stop using punctuation. Bring back the punctuation. I miss it. Your distressing depressing totally humorless story is not substantially improved by taking away the useful punctuation that made it possible for me to read it with a swiftness.)

And you know what else? You know what else? Ummmmm. (If I stop writing this blog post I'm going to have to return to studying.) Oh, I know. Okay. Moby Dick? It's boring! Too much stuff about whaling! Boring! Boring! And, and, you know what? Everyone is really mean about Harriet Beacher Stowe, and I think it's a little bit unfair because she did a very excellent thing with her book even though Uncle Tom makes me want to bash my head on bricks with his puky saintliness (and to be fair, Little Eva's just as bad).

Meanwhile I am searching for a place to live and hoping that I get this job for the summer, because then I will have a marketable skill and everyone will want to hire me, and I will no longer be desperately terrified about my future. If I cannot go into publishing, I can certainly go into grant-writing, which is in any case an idea I sort of fancy. The nonprofit organizations will be my best friend, and I am already their best friend because oh what good work they do! so it'll be a match made in heaven.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


It's my birthday again! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

My mum pointed this out to me this morning, and I think it's an excellent point. See, yesterday, that was my America birthday. If I had been in America yesterday I would have celebrated my birthday enthusiastically with cake and yummy taco soup which I crave desperately.

But today is my Britain birthday. Because here I was born on May 8. Because I was born late at night on 7 May, which means that in Britain when I was born, it was already nearing 6 AM on the morning of 8 May.

See, I'm crafty. By being in England I get two birthdays. Happy birthday to me!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Oh my God, I think I may have just driven a little toad to accidental suicide

Oh God. I feel so guilty. I think I may have just accidentally murdered a little toad. A dear little toad that never did nobody no harm. (That is a triple negative and therefore completely acceptable.)

See, I was walking back from the SU bar after having a birthday drink. (Hey, it's my birthday!) And I saw a little toad in the middle of the walkway, and it was just so cute that I knelt down to look at it, and I realized that if I left it to its own little toady devices it might get stepped on by a person who was walking in the walkway and failed to notice the toad. Because the toad, while very cute, blended in with the pavement a bit anyway, and plus it was getting darker and in the darkness it was even more thoroughly camoflaged. Which led to this truly horrific vision of some girl in spiky heels stepping on the dear little toad and impaling it because she didn't see it, and then the little toad would be dead, and she would feel incredibly guilty for impaling it with her spiky heel, the dear little toad that never did anything to her.

I thought, therefore, that I would save the little toad by convincing him to hop hoppily to the side of the walkway, where he would be as safe and sound as a, as a terribly safe and terribly sound thing. Something awfully safe and awfully sound. I took extreme care to urge the little toad to the side of the walkway, prodding him ever so gently with my toes until he hopped towards the edge of the walkway, where he would be saved from the terrible spiky-heel death I envisioned for him (poor little toad). Which led to a bunch of people giving me a funny look because I was poking a little toad with my foot and urging him on out loud.

But I'm so foolish! I didn't even realize it until the toad had already hopped really far to that side of the walkway, but the thing is that the side of the walkway towards which I was urging him ended in a FATAL DROP. I freaked out and nearly burst into tears, and I tried to convince the toad to hop the other way instead, but it wouldn't! It wouldn't hop back the way it had come! It was only willing to hop along the length of the walkway in a straight line forward, where it was still in peril of hopping off the end of the walkway!

I had to leave it eventually. I didn't want to see it kill itself. It hopped to the side of the walkway, and so it was not in imminent peril of death, and I hope it had the good sense to avoid hopping off the edge of the precipice, but I didn't stick around to see. Poor little toad. It was so cute. I loved it so. I wanted to be friends, but it feared me. I hope it didn't accidentally hop off the edge and die after I left.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Petunia knows Snape! Snape and Petunia and Lily knew each other as adolescents or perhaps earlier!; or, My brain surprises even me sometimes.

Petunia knows Snape! Snape knew Lily's family! How has this escaped me for so long?

Okay, here's how it all went down.

Snape and Lily knew each other as children. Either they met before Hogwarts, or they met at Hogwarts and became friends, but anyway they hung out together as children, and Snape spent some time at the Evans house so he knew Petunia as well. It seems likely that Lily would have been nice to poor misfit Snape at Hogwarts, since Lupin says in the third movie that she was an extraordinarily kind person with a gift for seeing the good in people even and perhaps especially when they could not see it in themselves. I kind of see Snape as enjoying knowing more than Muggle-born Lily about the wizarding world, and imparting his knowledge to her. As they got older, I think he started feeling uncomfortable about being friends with her, and it's plain from his memory that by their fifth year he was acting like an ass to her. He was in with the sketchy Death Eater kids sometime in school, and so on that basis he quit being friends with Lily even though he was plainly in love with her.

I am basing all this on a rather awkward conversation between Aunt Petunia and Harry in the fifth book. Petunia says that dementors guard the wizard prison, Azkaban, and everyone turns to her in astonishment, and she says that she heard "that awful boy telling her about them, years ago". Harry says that if she means his mum and dad, why doesn't she just use their names? Petunia appears to ignore him and seems very flustered.

We're obviously meant to assume that Petunia does mean his mum and dad, and that she is flustered about having revealed that she possesses knowlege on a subject completely anathema to the life she has built for herself. But I was reading it today, and I think there's something else going on here. The more I think about it, the more totally convinced I am.

The question Harry asks seems a trifle strange given the context. He's used to the Dursleys' being snotty about his parents, and surely the more important issue here is that Aunt Petunia knows about dementors! The fact that he brings it up, and particularly the phrasing of it, seems designed to draw our attention to the fact that Petunia isn't using names, which gives rise to the question: Who else could she be talking about?

Very important here is the information we get from Sirius and Lupin later on in the fifth book that Lily didn't start going out with James until the seventh year, when he "deflated his head" a bit. Until then, she obviously thought he was a bit of an idiot (even if, as Rowling has suggested, she liked him more than she acted like she liked him in Snape's memory). The phrase "awful boy" is suggestive to me. Petunia has never used the word "boy" to describe James; she and Marge and Vernon have all only ever (as far as I can recall) referred to him as "Potter". "Awful boy" sounds diminutive, like she's talking about a kid, certainly younger than James would have been when she first met him (at least seventeen when he started dating Lily). But that in itself is something of a semantic quibble, and it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility that Petunia would call him that.

Here's what really gets me. She heard the awful boy "telling" Lily about the dementors. Not talking to her about them, telling her about them. If she was talking about James, then James and Lily would both have had to be seventeen years old and in their final year at Hogwarts. (Or older - we know they started dating at seventeen but we have no idea when Lily first brought James home to meet the folks.) It seems incredibly unlikely to me that any witch attending Hogwarts, let alone a very clever and talented one like Lily, should make it to year 7 without knowing about dementors. In the third book when dementors first show up, many of the students seem unsurprised by them (Ron and his brothers plainly already knew about them), and I'm guessing that Hermione, for one, already knew they existed. Surely Lily would have known about dementors by the time she started dating James.

What seems much more likely, given that Lily is from a Muggle background, is that Snape was telling her about them when they were much younger, in their early years at Hogwarts. Snape was "the awful boy", and it really was years ago, dogs' ages, even before Lily met James, back when Lily and Petunia were in their early teens. Snape spent time at the Evans home, and he told her things about the wizarding world with which she, as a Muggle-born, would have been unfamiliar, like dementors.

This seems tremendously significant but I don't know why. I bet Petunia knew that Snape had a crush on Lily. I just wonder why this is all important. Something to do with Dumbledore's having occasion to correspond with her before the Potters died. Something to do with Snape's having been in love with Lily.

Good theory, eh? Aren't I clever? Interpreting these little peculiarities of conversation with a keen eye? You thought you could fool me, JK Rowling, but I SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU. (Sometimes.)

Also, I love Lupin. I hope he survives.

The Globe! Is back! I LOVE THE GLOBE SO MUCH.

Yes. I adore the Globe Theatre. If I could see a play there every week that would suit me just fine. Indeed when I was in London previously I went to see The Tempest twice, on each occasion missing out on an exciting adventure with my group. (The first time it was St. Paul's, and I really regret not seeing St. Paul's, and the second time it was the War Cabinets which sound boring but were apparently really interesting. The second time was also 21 July, when the second round of bombs went off in the underground but didn't actually work; anyway I came blithely home after the play and discovered that the people in my group, and also my mother in far-away America, were freaking the shit out because my whereabouts had been unknown. But I really enjoyed The Tempest.)

This year, they are doing a play called In Extremis which I actually really want to see, about Abelard and Heloise, and they are doing Love's Labour's Lost, which is not starting until July so I can't see it, and they are doing The Merchant of Venice (hooray!), and they are doing Othello, which I love in spite of the miserable hours I spent in my tenth-grade English class reading it out loud with my classmates.

(Sarah my flatmate does not like it. When I mentioned it to her she said, Oh for God's SAKE! If you think your wife's cheating on you ASK her about it, don't just KILL her! And of course I agree.)

The Globe Theatre didn't just start their season or anything (well, actually, they did - starts today - but that was pure coincidence). I simply remembered it very suddenly yesterday when I was trying to remember what other exciting things there were to do in London, as I was making a Helpful List for my friend who is coming to visit me, so she would be prepared for the delights in store for her. And you just can't even imagine how thrilled I was when I remembered that the Globe Theatre was opening back up with the plays inside because it is the summertime and in the summertime the Globe Theatre opens back up with plays inside.

YAY. YAY YAY YAY. If you would like to come and visit me, I will gladly take you to the Globe Theatre and I will even shell out the £5 for your ticket because THAT IS HOW MUCH IT COSTS. Only £5! For a properly good live play! Though your feet do get a bit tired. But so did - I don't know, so did other people's. Quit whining.