Thursday, July 31, 2008

I’m warning you in advance that this is disgusting

Not disgusting like The State of the World. Disgusting like entrails.

I inherited many things from my father’s family. Like my very tall height that is extremely tall and matches my birthday. And like being good with languages and wanting to learn ten dozen of them (this is from both sides actually). And like enjoying of the gallows humor. And, less goodly, little bumps on my head.

It’s a thing – my father had a great big massive bump and when we were in Indian Princesses his name was Brave Bump-on-the-Head. One time he got it removed on Halloween Day, and every time he answered the door to the little trick-or-treaters he would bend way down to them so he could show off his gruesome bloody bandages. And I have inherited a similar thing but smaller, and before I went to England I went to the dermatologist and had them remove two wee bumps from my head. They’re totally harmless bumps, but I had them removed because one of them hurt like a bitch every time I bumped my head, and I’m clumsy.

Well, now, two years later, one of the ex-bumps has gone insane. And amusingly it’s not the one that hurt when I bumped it. It’s the one that was much smaller, the one I only got removed because I was like, Well, hey, while they’re cutting pieces off my head, why not cut ’em all off? And it’s, like, it’s like sprouting now. Every time I feel the place where the bump used to be, there’s these little things that peel off my head.

I told you this was yucky.

But I can’t leave it alone. It’s too fascinating. They look exactly like little flat seeds. Flesh seeds. I am definitely entertaining the notion that there are things growing on the top of my head and if I left them alone they would grow into little – um – somethings. And I can’t decide if this is mainly gross, or mainly fascinating. Nor does my compulsive nature (a maternal-side gene though not absent in my father’s side) permit me to leave them alone long enough to find out.

The upshot is, I may well be a frightening science-fiction asexual reproduction creature. FEAR ME.

(Reading back over this, it sounds totally disgusting. Like even more disgusting than I was originally thinking it would sound. And I’d like to be able to say, Ha, ha, just kidding, wouldn’t that be yucky; or possibly, Nah, I just made all that up; but the truth is, the flesh seeds on my head are very real. (Ew.))

Friday, July 25, 2008

Two things

I checked Wikipedia today because I couldn’t remember whether my feast day was 11 August or 12 August (it’s the 11th), and you know what I discovered about St. Clare? Well, several things. First, I saw that she was the patron saint of clairvoyance, and that pleased me because although I don’t like puns qua puns, I really really liked the idea of the Catholic patronage assigners making little puns. I pictured them sitting around the table in the patronage assignments meeting, and they’ve been dipping into the Communion wine cause it’s a long meeting, and they’re getting a little silly, and they’re like, “No, dude, dude, dude, I got a good one. Clare – clairvoyance? Get it? Get it? Hahahahahaha, dude, gimme another shot of that divine blood, man.” And like the Pope’s trying to be responsible facilitator guy but he’s snickering too, so they totally press their advantage and they’re like, “No, seriously, we have to make her the patron saint of clairvoyance! Write it down!” and they all start going “Write IT write IT write IT” and the Pope says he’s going to do it just to make them shut up—

But then it turned out St. Clare had clairvoyant experiences. And that was why. So I tore up the letter that I was going to send back in time to tell the patronage assignment guys that it was good they were keeping a sense of humor about everything, and to be careful about drinking that communion wine or they’d wake up with a wicked hangover.

Oh, and (I guess this makes it three things, but whatever, this is still essentially part of the St. Clare thing) in the mid-50s, the Pope also made her the patron saint of television. Television is one of those things I don’t think needs a patron saint, but since it’s not my call, I’m pleased that I come by my television-watching ways honestly. Not like the rest of you loser couch potatoes with no excuse for your ways (*cough* Robyn *cough*).

The other thing was WAY MUCH COOLER which is why I have saved it for, um, second.

So yesterday, I virtuously agreed to give up one of my evenings for volunteer purposes – also fun, however, you know, virtuous and volunteery but fun at the same time – and when I came out of the building to go home, there was a falling star. That fell! Down from the sky! It was crazy: I walked out of the door, glanced up at what I thought was a plane, and then I thought, Well, hey, that plane is mighty enormous and plunging downwards and then I thought, HOLY FUCKING GOD IT IS A FALLING STAR AND CONSEQUENTLY THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER.

Seriously. Falling stars are so, so cool. No wonder Victoria was going to give it up for a falling star. I always thought they were cool, and one time my mother told me that falling stars aren’t that great, but I didn’t really believe it, and now that I have seen a falling star, it is clear to me that she was totally wrong. (Though once I described it to her, she said she thought my falling star was much more amazing than the crummy one she saw.) My falling star was wonderful. It looked huge and it fell most brilliantly and scattered sparks and sparks, and it was completely magnificent. It fell right down from the sky. It entirely flamed out and disappeared. If you have never seen a falling star, you really should.

Oo, and also: My mum gave me a massive bookshelf to keep for my very own when I move into my apartment. It is humongous. It is a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf and contains a lot of space for many, many books. Not every book that I own, but very, very, very many indeed, and I can put my other books on shelves in my very large closet. I am going to take this bookshelf to my new apartment and put it in my bedroom, and I will put my cousin’s chair right in front of the bookshelf, and it’ll be all read-y and sit-y and I will sit and read and read and sit.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Denial is like Versailles

It isn't the easiest thing to maintain. Thus quoth Marisha Pessl.

Or, I had a bad day today.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I know I know but I have to seriously I really have to!

Look what Elizabeth told him:

Almost you forced me to smile by thinking it worth while to say that you are 'not selfish.' Did Sir Percival say so to Sir Gawaine across the Round Table, in those times of chivalry to which you belong by the soul? Certainly you are not selfish! May God bless you.

They are SO DAMN CUTE.

Two things that pleased me today

Well, Robert Browning again. I can’t help it. He’s so sweet. I’m excerpting bits of his letter where he first proposes to Elizabeth Barrett (at least, the first surviving proposal letter – I theorize that he may have proposed in the Very Shocking Letter that she got so upset about). He says:

I have read your letter again and again. I will tell you—no, not you, but any imaginary other person, who should hear what I am going to avow; I would tell that person most sincerely there is not a particle of fatuity, shall I call it, in that avowal; cannot be, seeing that from the beginning and at this moment I never dreamed of winning your love. I can hardly write this word, so incongruous and impossible does it seem—

…In so many words, is it on my account that you bid me 'leave this subject' [of marriage]? I think if it were so, I would for once call my advantages round me. I am not what your generous self-forgetting appreciation would sometimes make me out—but it is not since yesterday, nor ten nor twenty years before, that I began to look into my own life, and study its end, and requirements, what would turn to its good or its loss—and I know, if one may know anything, that to make that life yours and increase it by union with yours, would render me supremely happy, as I said, and say, and feel. My whole suit to you is, in that sense, selfish—not that I am ignorant that your nature would most surely attain happiness in being conscious that it made another happy—but that best, best end of all, would, like the rest, come from yourself, be a reflection of your own gift.

Dearest, I will end here—words, persuasion, arguments, if they were at my service I would not use them—I believe in you, altogether have faith in you—in you.

… My whole scheme of life (with its wants, material wants at least, closely cut down) was long ago calculated—and it supposed you, the finding such an one as you, utterly impossible—because in calculating one goes upon chances, not on providence—how could I expect you?

How Elizabeth Barrett could resist this I have no idea. However, she writes back that she can’t marry him because she’s sickly and unworthy and couldn’t dream of burdening him, and furthermore her father wouldn’t hear of it (tyrant). She says, “The subject will not bear consideration—it breaks in our hands. But that God is stronger than we, cannot be a bitter thought to you but a holy thought ... while He lets me, as much as I can be anyone's, be only yours.”

It gets Robert Browning all glum. He tells her this:

Well, I understand you to pronounce that at present you believe this gift impossible—and I acquiesce entirely—I submit wholly to you; repose on you in all the faith of which I am capable. Those obstacles are solely for you to see and to declare ... had I seen them, be sure I should never have mocked you or myself by affecting to pass them over ... what were obstacles, I mean: but you do see them, I must think,—and perhaps they strike me the more from my true, honest unfeigned inability to imagine what they are,—not that I shall endeavour. After what you also apprise me of, I know and am joyfully confident that if ever they cease to be what you now consider them, you who see now for me, whom I implicitly trust in to see for me; you will then, too, see and remember me, and how I trust, and shall then be still trusting.

Er. I actually was just going to summarize this whole exchange. But I couldn’t resist quoting. He’s such a dear. And did I mention he was born on my birthday? When I was a young lass I thought that my best advertisement for 7 May as a birthday was Brahms and Tchaikovsky, but I realize now, of course, that Robert Browning is the real coup. Though I am very envious of my mother’s star-studded birthday – Tennessee Williams, Diana Ross, Nancy Pelosi, Bob Woodward, Erica Jong, Alan Arkin, Robert Frost, A.E. Housman – I would not switch with her because I have so much love for Robert Browning.)

They are totally my favorite literary couple. I like them even better than I like Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. I’m getting all suspensey for when Elizabeth agrees to marry him. Also, I’m starting to feel a little guilty for reading their letters. Sort of. But not enough to quit reading them. I may even buy a great big book of their letters. Apparently the big book o’ letters from 1845-1846 (the only letters they ever exchanged, said their son, because after their marriage they were never separated) just got put back into print – though I’d prefer, of course, to get the old hardback ones.

Number two pleasing thing is: I learned a new word!

I know this is geeky, but I love, love, love learning words for things for ideas I already have in my brain but I didn’t know there was a word for them. I always want to call up Helen Keller on the phone and be all, I totally know how you felt about the water, dude. (Sorry, Jenny, she’s dead.) Sometimes I have dreams about learning words of this kind, and they are not dissimilar to those dreams where I go to the library or the bookstore and discover that my favorite author has actually written an entire shelf of books I never read before (actually sort of true of Martin Millar who is not my favorite author but I am very fond of his books) and I get them ALL INSTANTLY because I have a library card or a whole bunch of money.

But I digress. I’m going to put my word in its own paragraph, because it deserves it.

Apophenia. Apophenia.

It means perceiving connections between random-ass things that happen even if actually there’s no pattern to the events. There’s a word for that! I have such a crush on this word. If I had had classes today instead of work, I’d’ve spent the whole time doodling on my notes, Apophenia + Jenny = <3 and Mrs. Jennifer Apophenia.

It’s most fortunate I had this word today. My brain keeps playing me snippets of songs from the musical episode of Buffy, which we watched last night, and from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. It’s helpful to have a shiny new word for distracting my brain with. It’s all, I hope she fries, I’m free if that bitch dies, and I’m all, Hey, brain, APOPHENIA and it’s all, Oo, pretty! for a few minutes before getting back to the important business of trying to remember what exactly Mal says about blowing in the breeze (teehee).

P.S. While writing this blog post, I got addicted to the Brownings’ letters and read farther down, and I swear to God, I wouldn’t keep posting these excerpts if it weren’t for how Robert Browning keeps on saying things that are so nice it does my head in. Behold a bit of his response to her story about how her mean, mean father won’t let her to go Italy for her health:

Now again the circumstances shift—and you are in what I should wonder at as the veriest slavery—and I who could free you from it, I am here scarcely daring to write ... though I know you must feel for me and forgive what forces itself from me ... what retires so mutely into my heart at your least word ... what shall not be again written or spoken, if you so will ... that I should be made happy beyond all hope of expression by. Now while I dream, let me once dream! I would marry you now and thus—I would come when you let me, and go when you bade me—I would be no more than one of your brothers—'no more'—that is, instead of getting to-morrow for Saturday, I should get Saturday as well—two hours for one—when your head ached I should be here. I deliberately choose the realization of that dream (—of sitting simply by you for an hour every day) rather than any other, excluding you, I am able to form for this world, or any world I know—And it will continue but a dream.

Bless him. She said this back to him, and I swear that after this I’m shutting up about the Brownings, but I have to quote this because it’s very touching:

But it will be the same thing—for you know as well as if you saw my answer, what it must be, what it cannot choose but be, on pain of sinking me so infinitely below not merely your level but my own, that the depth cannot bear a glance down. Yet, though I am not made of such clay as to admit of my taking a base advantage of certain noble extravagances, (and that I am not I thank God for your sake) I will say, I must say, that your words in this letter have done me good and made me happy, ... that I thank and bless you for them, ... and that to receive such a proof of attachment from you, not only overpowers every present evil, but seems to me a full and abundant amends for the merely personal sufferings of my whole life. When I had read that letter last night I did think so. I looked round and round for the small bitternesses which for several days had been bitter to me, and I could not find one of them. The tear-marks went away in the moisture of new, happy tears. Why, how else could I have felt? how else do you think I could? How would any woman have felt ... who could feel at all ... hearing such words said (though 'in a dream' indeed) by such a speaker?

And now listen to me in turn. You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me—my heart was full when you came here to-day. Henceforward I am yours for everything but to do you harm—and I am yours too much, in my heart, ever to consent to do you harm in that way. If I could consent to do it, not only should I be less loyal ... but in one sense, less yours. I say this to you without drawback and reserve, because it is all I am able to say, and perhaps all I shall be able to say. However this may be, a promise goes to you in it that none, except God and your will, shall interpose between you and me, ... I mean, that if He should free me within a moderate time from the trailing chain of this weakness, I will then be to you whatever at that hour you shall choose ... whether friend or more than friend ... a friend to the last in any case. So it rests with God and with you—only in the meanwhile you are most absolutely free ... 'unentangled' (as they call it) by the breadth of a thread—and if I did not know that you considered yourself so, I would not see you any more, let the effort cost me what it might. You may force me feel: ... but you cannot force me to think contrary to my first thought ... that it were better for you to forget me at once in one relation. And if better for you, can it be bad for me? which flings me down on the stone-pavement of the logicians.

In all seriousness, I really admire Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She totally shook free of her father's awful tyranny and nastiness even though she had been dealing with it her whole life and even though she was an invalid, and she went off and she had her own life. And you know what else? When she got pregnant, she got off morphine. She did! Straight off! They were like, Dude, I know you take morphine all the time for your sickness, but you can't be doing that while you're pregnant, so she just stopped. She was much more hardcore than lame old Mrs. Dubose, and she was also nicer and a good writer. So there. And I also think it's sweet how they think each other are so important that they're constantly italicizing you when they write to each other.

Okay. I'm stopping. Someone should chain my fingers together so I can't type any more of these blog posts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Last night we watched the fifth season finale of Buffy. It was very sad. I got extremely choked up, and I was weirdly upset on Spike’s behalf – though in my defense he did look very, very sad. This was the saddest episode ever. Much sadder than when Buffy had to send Angel to hell, and I was really sad that time that Buffy had to send Angel to hell. And the “Grr…Argh” monster that used to send me into fits of rage until I understood why he was the way he was? He didn’t say “I think I need a hug” the way he did at the end of the second season, even though I definitely needed a hug more at the end of the fifth.


You know, I used to love Joel Grey. I loved him in Cabaret and I loved him in Wicked and I loved him a special lot when, um, he came on the Muppet Show. I think Joel Grey is as cute as he can be, and he spawned a cute offspring, and I just like him a lot. I mean, until yesterday, when he necessitated Buffy’s INCREDIBLY TRAGIC DEATH.

In addition to which, there was a shot of him before one of the commercial breaks (which obviously no commercial breaks for me because I’ve got the DVDs), where he’s standing there smiling at Dawn and there’s a big (but not stagey-big) knife that he’s holding right next to his face, and that shot may be the single scariest thing I have ever seen.

Even scarier than A Beautiful Mind which scared me more than any movie ever, and substantially scarier than that time I saw Scream in seventh grade English class.

So now, in addition to being broken-hearted and betrayed, I am now going to have terrible knife-filled nightmares.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Like I haven't said enough about the Brownings

If this goes on I’m going to have to make them their own category. The lovely wonderful Brownings. Lovely strong brave brilliant Elizabeth Barrett and lovely sweet dear nice Robert. Every time I think that I have maxed out my capacity for being fond of them, I learn something new that makes me love them still more.

Okay, so today I was reading about them and apparently Elizabeth Barrett Browning, she was all impatient, and she was forever reading the ends of books! Before she got to them! Like me! I was pleased, because people are always condemning my end-reading ways and telling me that I’m diminishing my enjoyment of my books (which I am definitely not).

And then I was thinking about the Brownings and how they had a beautiful love, so I went and found a book of their letters to each other on Project Gutenberg, and this is what Robert Browning wrote to her one time, early on in their acquaintance, at the beginning of one of his letters:

Will you grant me a great favour? Always when you write, though about your own works, not Greek plays merely, put me in, always, a little official bulletin-line that shall say 'I am better' or 'still better,' will you?
And then at the end of the letter he reminds her again:

Now, will you remember what I began my letter by saying—how you have promised to let me know if my wishing takes effect, and if you still continue better? And not even ... (since we are learned in magnanimity) don't even tell me that or anything else, if it teases you,—but wait your own good time, and know me for ... if these words were but my own, and fresh-minted for this moment's use!...

Yours ever faithfully,

R. Browning.
I know I’ve said this before, but Robert Browning was such a dear. He was such a sweet dear. And aw, one time he sent her a letter that totally horrified her, and then they were both really embarrassed for like the next seven letters they wrote to each other. They kept taking it in turns to apologize for the last thing they said and insist that they were never going to mention the shocking letter again. And then they spent a lot of time having the “I admire you more”, “No, I admire you more” argument. Bless their hearts.

You know, you make one parenthetical aside...

I really wish I hadn't said that about Foucault. Now I'm going to feel compelled to check indexes for Oscar Wilde and Foucault and judge the books based on the ratio of Oscar Wilde mentions to Foucault mentions. Because Foucault always sounds so joyless and unfriendly even when he's making jokes, whereas Oscar Wilde always sounds funny even when he's having despair like in De Profundis.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Another of those signs that I'm a loser

Today I was reading about this book called The Dead Guy Interviews, which is these imagined interviews of 45 of the most interesting/important dead people out there. Of course I have no interest whatsoever in actually reading this book, because dude, they're dead, so it's 45 cases of the author interviewing himself. I don't even care enough to remember the author's name. What I do care enough about is whether Oscar Wilde was one of them. Turns out I care a lot about that. I care enough to go a-hunting to ascertain this information; while the Amazon page was failing to load, my brain was thinking, If the internet can't find this out for me, I guess I'll have to go to the library this afternoon and check in the book itself. And then I was like, Better yet, I'll swing by the university library right after work, and then if they don't have it there I'll just go to the public library on the way back from swimming (P.S., the public library is in no way "on the way back" from swimming), and if they don't have it there I'll just run by Bongs & Noodles...

Happily, the Amazon page finished loading before I could plan what I would do if the university library didn't have it, and the public library didn't have it, and Bongs & Noodles didn't have it. But it could easily have involved calling the publisher.

And yes, Oscar Wilde was one of the people.

Of course.

As if there was any doubt.

Cause, I mean, if the dude's interviewing interesting people, of course he must interview Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde was probably the first person he thought of when he conceived the idea for this book. I mean who wouldn't want to interview Oscar Wilde?

I'm very vain of Oscar Wilde. I'm always pleased when other people like him too. When I found this out from Amazon, I felt really proud, like the same way I feel when I'm showing people the South Bank of London. It's like, Yes, that's right, this is one of my things. Feel free to admire it at your leisure. Yes, yes, it is magnificent, isn't it? Oh, why, yes, thank you, I found it all by myself.

Nevertheless, taking an objective step back from this moment, I'm pretty sure it makes me not a cool person. I'm pretty sure this is one of those things about myself that I should keep to myself (but I don't because I want to brag about Oscar Wilde's ubiquity), like how I always, always flip straight to the indexes of nonfiction books to see if he's in the index, and then if he is I check out what they're saying about him and make judgments of the books on that basis. (Seriously, though, the man is in a lot of indexes. If it's a book about the gays, he's always in there. Him and Foucault.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dawn Treader

Whenever I go exercising, the water in the pool is obviously all chloriney and doesn't taste very nice if I get some in my mouth. So when I go take my shower, and the water is not all chloriney, I'm always surprised by how sweet it tastes. And every time this happens and the water's very sweet, I think of, Doubt not, Reepicheep, there is the utter east, and in my mind I pretend I am a little gallant mouse paddling a wee little coracle boat over the edge of the world.

You know, to see the Lord.

I <3 Reepicheep.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Extra blankets

Here's what I realized last night as I was falling asleep: See, before I went to university, I bought a comforter for my dorm room. And because the dorm was paid for by my scholarship, I always lived in the dorms, and I had this comforter, and meanwhile back at the home, I had my real comforter on my real bed, which I slept on when I visited home.

Well, last night I realized that I am no longer at the dorms, thus will no longer have that blue dorm comforter on my school-year bed, because my school-year bed will have become the same thing as my real-life bed. Which means (stay with me here), the dorm comforter will have become an extra blanket.

I will have extra blankets.

I told this to Robyn, and she said, "Well, yeah!" and I said, "No, but like I'll have extra blankets," and she was like, "Duh! I always have extra blankets! I get cold a lot!" Totally missing the point (though a lovely girl). The point is this: I will have an extra blanket that I am not keeping on hand for my own use, an extra blanket that will just be extra, that I will have to store in an extra blanket place. Like in the linen closet! With the other extra blankets. To distribute to hurricane evacuees or, I don't know, give to people who are sleeping on the couch, in order to make them comfortable... An extra blanket spot. The place where we will put extra blankets.

I mean, the next thing you know I'll have a dog and furniture that serves no purpose other than to put bric-a-brac on, and a Christmas tree of my very own. Having extra blankets means that I am bidding farewell to my transient carefree existence! I can't just pack a bag and go anymore (not that I ever did, except that time I went to England)! I have STUFF.

Yeah, I can't decide how I feel about this. I'd rather have fewer extra blankets and more books.


Yesterday at work there was this URL to a protocol document, and the beginning of the URL was And because the document was a PDF, I thought that was a directory, rather than a website; and because I am a big geek, I thought someone had cutely named the directory fas because it was full of policy information.

Like fas, the opposite of nefas (from which! nefarious! a delightful word!). Fas means like, right, as in the right thing to do, religiously right. I was really excited and I wanted to write a letter to the people who made the directory and be like, “I got your joke! It was funny! Policies in a right-things-to-do directory!”

But then I remembered that I am in real life, not Latin-Land. It stands for Financial and Accounting Services.