01 May 2017

:: change & hope ::

there are a lot of things that scare and unnerve me, honestly, from burglars to stephen king novels to the dark, but I think my worst fear is ultimately change. I hate change. (not the nice jingle-jangle hot little hebrew coin kind, the variability and mutation and uncertainty kind that leads to scary words like "different" and "progress".)

I know that being scared of progress is one of the stupidest fears to have, but I really hate the idea of infinity and rushing on to an indefinite end -- which is what I feel progress is. like, the ingenuity of man is so immense that I know people will continue to imagine and create on into the future, but part of me feels that we can only actually get so far; that we can only progress to a certain point and won't be able to go any farther. so I'm like, maybe we can slow down a little and not get there so fast? -- I don't actually articulate this. but that's the sort of feeling I get.

the pressure to continually make original things is another part of 'progress' terrifying to me. (a new iphone every year? I actively don't think about it, because I get stressed.) I suppose I feel like the world can only hold so much or so many, and we're overcrowding the categories of 'things that are' with more. (typefaces. it really makes me weirdly uncomfortable thinking about all the new fonts churned out every day, because don't we have enough? aren't we filling the world up unnecessarily, and haven't we already exhausted the possible design combinations??)

is this weird?

well, probably, but I have these thoughts. really I brought up my overarching fear of change because it's something I recognized not too long ago and think is actually a problem that needs to be fixed. I'm so uncomfortable with change -- partly because it's so exhausting keeping up with the constant happenings of the world in news and politics and wars, personal events in town, larger-scale things in the state or country or world -- that I end up avoiding everything because I just don't feel capable of facing it. how is that being a productive member of society?

fear of change, for me, is tied in several ways to laziness. it means I don't have to pursue making anything better, because it's probably good enough. I don't itch to learn new things or expand my knowledge; I just know I'm going to be the old lady who still uses a laptop with a cord!!! in like 50 years because I won't be willing to learn whatever technology the kids are using in 2067. I feel it in my young bones already.

this summer I want to practice embracing change and new things. new things don't need to scare me. new things, I've found, are never as scary when you actually face them as they were when you sat around not facing them but imagining the worst-case scenario of what it would probably be like. ultimately, change will happen whether I want it to or not, so I might as well get used to it and go along with it. I hate that change is messy; but the things is, I don't have to always be in control. I can let things go and relax -- because again, messy will happen whether I want it to or not, so I might as well get used to it. I can practice dealing with change: a much better skill than successfully avoiding it. I don't want to stagnate, either!

really, what's so bad about something new? I don't want the unfamiliarity, the not-knowing, the out-of-my-control, and -- like when it comes to language -- it already works just fine! why change it? I like it the way it is. I love that we can read the history of english in its words, trace etymology and culture through the yes, inconsistent-as-a-spelling-system inventory of english lexical entries. I worry that in a few generations people will need shakespeare translated like chaucer.

so I remind myself that -- hey. it's going to happen. you can do nothing to stop it, so don't waste your time fretting over it. I may not like the specific "progress" made somewhere, but the world would be boring if it was forever the same. and even in design, aren't we always told "done not perfect"? things can always be better, and I can at least spend my life making things around me better -- changing them.
that's my big thought for this summer: I want to be okay with new. to flex when things don't go as planned, learn to let go of my expectations and fears about the future. there's always hope, so just roll with it: everything will be okay.

18 March 2017

:: ships & symmetry ::

my english teacher is really into geometrical literature.

that's my own term. one of her favorite ways of examining the text is looking at the symmetries, plot and otherwise, and the relationship triangles; the relationship rectangles, in some cases. it's a surprisingly useful tool when trying to analyze that subtle something you feel exists in the book but you can't quite grasp (that does happen to other people, too, right?).


this totally came up during jane austen's sense & sensibility, and we looked at the specifically love triangles first. *note: I don't mean "love triangles" in the typical two-guys-competing-for-one-girl, necessarily, but that one person connects two others either by giving or receiving love in some way.


WILLOUGHBY, MARIANNE, MISS GREY // EDWARD, ELINOR, LUCY STEELE

just to touch on the two guys specifically, both are dependent on an older female (ed's mom/w's aunt, mrs. smith) for their income and that forces their behavior early on in the book. ed secretly gets engaged to lucy, but honorably stands by her when his mother threatens disinheritance. w secretly sees marianne, and dishonorably abandons her (as he's abandoned others before) for a richer woman. edward eventually gains his inheritance back and the woman he loves, while willoughby repents too late and always sort of regrets his choices -- he's not a very remorseful person. and his life just isn't that rough.


MRS. JENNINGS, CHARLOTTE PALMER, LADY MIDDLETON // MRS. DASHWOOD, ELINOR, MARIANNE


mother-daughter triangles. the mothers -- who all seem to be incompetent in austen; along with the fathers, who frequently don't exist at all -- are the silly characters who encourage their children towards foolishness. these mothers both have a romantic, excess-of-feeling daughter and a calmer, colder, more practical daughter; ultimately, it's the sense that advances in the world. both elinor and lady middleton marry up, and marianne only does because she becomes more staid in her feelings. and marianne has a lot of feelings. like, she doesn't even go here.

COL. BRANDON, ELIZA #1, BRO // EDWARD, LUCY, ROBERT 


little refresher: col. b loved eliza #1. she was forced into marriage with col. b's older brother, who didn't love her, didn't treat her well, and essentially whose fault it was when she ran off with another guy and became a social outcast. (a lot of interesting things here about eliza #2, col. b, and willoughby, but we'll skip that for now. think about it on your own.)


both col. b and ed are younger sons, the girls they fall in love with are wards of semi-relations, and both first loves are married to the guys' older brothers. the older brothers are clearly out for what they can get, the younger are the ones with honor who pick up the pieces; both younger brothers are eventually "consoled" with the advent of better-suited second loves (...edward doesn't seem so broke up).


pretty cool.


and then on a different note -- what if

brandon : eliza-who-marries-his-brother :: rowland rochester : bertha-who-marries-his-brother?!
it's like a whole new angle on wide sargasso sea.

09 March 2017

:: I'm baaaa-aaack ::

something has been bothering me for a week or so now. I was poking around my old blog posts (because I do that sometimes, it keeps me humble) and found several places where I referred to war & peace between the first time I read it and the latest time I read it. -- I swear guys, I'll stop talking about this book soon. really, really soon. just give me a sec.

I found two different places where I was all, oh, andrei and sonya, shipped forever and I just want to say I'M TERRIBLY SORRY ABOUT THIS, GUYS. I was young, naive, and stupid, and more clearly here than anywhere else had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. I apologize for any error I've led you into.

frankly, I sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out if I really meant That Andrei and That Sonya, and when I figured out I did it was like dying a thousand deaths of embarrassment. so not cool (the dying, embarrassment, and proposed relationship).

alrighty! moving on!

spring break is this week and I'm carving out time now to do a thing on tennyson's 'ulysses' and maybe one or two other things about jane austen or wilkie collins -- because guess what class I'm taking this semester, 19th-century brit lit, that's right folks, AND I ALREADY OWNED ALL THE BOOKS.

except one. I didn't own cranford. but now I do! and it's been super fantastic. fact: I'm the only non-english major in the class. also fact: I still managed to pull a 104/100 grade on the midterm (I got all the extra credit on top of full credit for the actual test + essay). final fact: it was the only 104/100 in the class.

really, it's not bragging. it's that this never happens. I poke along being average all the time, and it's so cool to finally have a subject I shine in (because guess what, I've spent all my life holed up with the books and the dust and the sadness because that's what nerdy people do reading ancient books that no one has heard of and for once in my life my completely impractical skills in this area are finally being put to use. I can do nothing that matters in real life, but I read like a maniac, so for one semester I can feel like I have a talent. it's been a blast).
I've also learned a lot about these books I love (we've read sense & sensibility, pride & prejudice, the woman in white, and start jane eyre next week) and it's amazing having someone guide your thoughts rather than having to generate them yourself. also having classmates who read, too, and have actual thoughts to share that are really, really cool and insightful. I'm totally loving this class.

all that to say, more next week. this will be fun :)

03 January 2017

:: getting back in the saddle ::

junior year, part b, begins on monday (where does the time go) and I'm not going to make it through war & peace blog-wise.

hooray, you say. also, nobody cares. and this should have happened long ago.

what's up: I still don't get this book. I still love it, and I'm so happy to be reading it again, even though I'm dreading the -- well, no spoilers. but there will be tears. I know I tend to cry too much over books,* but this, seriously; this will break my heart again. 

*ever heard the story of my first time through bleak house, when I reached the part where richard carstone "began the world -- not this world, oh no, not this; the world that sets this right" and then miss flite let her birds go free, and mama came running upstairs thinking the sobs were a person in physical pain? (as if emotional pain isn't legitimate, come on, mom) ...well, now you have. good book. slightly embarrassing memory.

I'm still taking exhaustingly extensive notes, and I will post some sort of summary of my reading experience/overall book themes, but honestly it's just too much with a new semester coming up to commit to more. also, I can take my notes in personal, abbreviated shorthand and know better what I'm talking about without doubling the time (at least) by translating them here. where, as I am painfully aware, no one reads them.

which is fine. really, it's okay. it just seems kinda stupid to write them twice over when it's all only for me, anyway; and do I have insight? no. I don't even know what I'm talking about. so that could be awkward, if I keep spreading the ignorance.

so for all intents and purposes, war & peace is done. next on the list: a re-discussion of "ulysses" by alfred, lord tennyson. I wrote about this poem a loooong time ago, when the real odyssey was fresh in my mind, but I've grown since then and have a slightly different perspective (like, can we discuss how inaccurate it is that poem-O calls his old mariners together, when homer clearly states (book 23! lines 298 - 303 in fitzgerald's translation!) that he has to collect all new men who have never even seen the sea? what's with that, alfred??). but it's a gorgeous poem, and I'm excited.

peace :)

31 December 2016

:: 16 things this year taught me ::

YAY 2016: the first year I was solidly in my 20s.
(because 20 doesn't really count, to me. it's like orientation for the next decade and doesn't do too much.) I'M OFFICIALLY ...growing ...up ...

2016 is basically done. I get real sappy at the end of every year I'm weird cause I hate goodbyes / got misty eyes as they said farewell, but frankly this is not a hard year to say goodbye to. it's easy to remember a lot of bummers and be all, "2016 sucked, man," but when I start thinking of everything lovely that also happened, that's when the sap starts to run. so I suppose it was a bittersweet year.

which, as maryrose wood interprets, means we should all go eat bittersweet chocolate, which "does nothing to unmix one's feelings, but it does serve as a tasty reminder that bittersweet is a perfectly good flavor and can be enjoyed on its own merits."

so what did 2016 teach me? (a slightly redundant list)

schedules are good.

2 it doesn't matter what people think.
like, get over yourself: they're not watching. they don't care. so stop acting like they're fans of Your Show, and/or stop worrying that anyone cares about you as much as you care about you. just live your life.

3 the 20s are crazy:
   >  emotionally. up, down, over, under, crazy high and everything's peachy, down in the depths of desponding despair for all the goodness in the world is gone. forever. oh look, a cookie! youth is overrated, and quite exhausting. 
   >  life-wise. what to do?? how to get there?? HELLLPPP (see above). 
   >  on the bright side... 
     to some degree, my emotions are fuel. my riotous joy or my utter depressive panic can sometimes motivate me to go do: am I stressed about how I'll ever get a dual citizenship, if I were to want one, and I don't know how to cope with all the adult responsibilities coming at me? I'll spend 15 minutes researching, realize it's not that big of a deal at all, really and calm myself. 
-- and that's learning I won't need or have the energy for in 20 years, so it all evens out in the end.

4 learning is good. 
don't worry about losing your smartest-person-in-the-room rep (see #2); that's just a burden that actually keeps you stupid. don't be afraid of things you don't know. ...that should really be its own point.

5 don't be afraid of things you don't know.
facing my fears, here, and pursuing knowledge (instead of just trying to hide my ignorance) has seriously taught me more this year than anything else. not just about those things: but about courage in humility. I'm learning to be humble, and that's more important. 

(does saying that take away all my points? I'm not saying I'm there yet :))  

6 ask for help. 
see #s 2 and 4.

7 make a schedule. 
oh, you've heard this before? yeah. I mean it. 
a schedule : productivity as a budget : staying within a budget. 
...?? so I suppose rather "a budget : spending your money well". like, it's up to you to stick to it, but the structure totally helps. 

8 focus on real life. 
it's so easy these days to get distracted and sidetracked by phones and laptops -- social media and texting and just the internet in general. don't start living a fake life to the detriment of your real. but more than that, books and music and really anything that you can get lost in... be careful with it. be balanced. (and remember: having 10,000 hours worth of experience with instagram will not get you a job the way 10,000 hours of wrestling with photoshop will. mm?) 

9 try. harder.
I know I don't work hard enough. I'll do the minimum and convince myself it was exhausting -- but do I really need to break so early? no. just think: how much could I accomplish if I actually gave it work? if I stuck it out? more than I do when I quit at 3 pm because I "just don't get it" and "deserve an instagram break." (see #s 1, 4, 6, 8 and 7 for good measure.)

10 try new things.

11 disagree. (or, learning how to.)
2016 has taught me a lot about speaking for myself. not "up for myself" as much as being able to express my opinion. I hate when someone says "I love grape juice! don't you??" and I'm like, well, no, but how do I say that in the face of such enthusiasm? and I end up saying, "mm, heh heh, right," which always leaves me feeling guilty and silenced. (petty, yes. almost exclusive to me, yes. but let me have my small victories.) beyond that, I also am learning how to disagree when bigger issues come up. what if we disagree over how someone behaved? "wow, what a jerk" and I'm going "slay queen" -- can I express that opinion in a calm way that lets my opponent know it's not actually a war to be won? I've got it by no means nailed down, but I'm practicing.  

12 you don't have to have it all figured out. but why not do your best?
super tired of the "can't adult today" and "I'm 30 and I don't have anything figured out lolol" memes over here. they used to be encouraging, but I've gotten sick of them. no, my childish idea that 'when I'm grown I'll understand it all' is completely inaccurate, but I can't make difficulty -- or the impossibility of perfection -- an excuse for willful ignorance. but maybe that's me adulting too hard? I should stop and -- WINE

13 be crazy & go for it.
why discourage myself without trying? what's the worst that could happen? (see #10)

14 deserve your responsibility.
it means I also deserve the reward for all the hard work (#s 9, 12, and 13). and it is so much more rewarding to rise to the occasion -- to earn something, instead of having it handed to me or going without.

15 do what's in front of you, here. now. stop fantasizing.
yeah, this one is tough, and relates to 8 and 14 in particular. I slack and get lazy and -- gosh, I daydream. I can spend 45 minutes in the morning literally lying in bed, thinking. not grand and high thoughts for the betterment of humanity, oh no, but wondering about playgrounds built in grownup scale and how amazing it would be to take a road trip along the alcan highway with all its attendant adventures and what's the most smashing outfit I could wear to the party on friday. that's 45 minutes and no playground built, you know? I've accomplished nothing. ...although I seriously had that playground thought last week and it won't go away. could I be on to something?  

16 fantasizing does not equal dreaming!
this one is related to essentially all that comes before. I like to plan things so I can get it all done, but you can't live your life just getting things done: have an ultimate goal. multiple ultimate goals (like saying that 5 times fast). fantasizing is a pipe dream that wastes time. dreaming is only one step away from planning -- for me. that's where I'm learning to draw the line. could I, do I want to make this happen? if I do, go for it. worst-case, I fail, but at least I tried. if I'm not interested, I can't waste any more of this intoxicating decade of irresponsibility (JUST KIDDING REMEMBER #12) imagining impossibilities all theoretically and ish. 

nah, I don't have it all figured out, but I'm trying to sort through my life and at least do what I can to understand it. 2016 was rough in some of those cases, because growing is never painless; but trials "yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness" and I've definitely learned a lot. 

here's to 2017 and ever-higher ground.

27 December 2016

:: letters ::

literally and literally: letters > words > letters again. this is from elizabeth barrett to robert browning, on march 5, 1845, three months into their friendship and about a year before their marriage.

"But to go back to the view of Life with the blind Hopes; you are not to think—whatever I may have written or implied—that I lean either to the philosophy or affectation which beholds the world through darkness instead of light, and speaks of it wailingly. Now, may God forbid that it should be so with me. I am not desponding by nature, and after a course of bitter mental discipline and long bodily seclusion, I come out with two learnt lessons (as I sometimes say and oftener feel),—the wisdom of cheerfulness—and the duty of social intercourse. Anguish has instructed me in joy, and solitude in society; it has been a wholesome and not unnatural reaction. And altogether, I may say that the earth looks the brighter to me in proportion to my own deprivations. The laburnum trees and rose trees are plucked up by the roots—but the sunshine is in their places, and the root of the sunshine is above the storms. What we call Life is a condition of the soul, and the soul must improve in happiness and wisdom, except by its own fault. These tears in our eyes, these faintings of the flesh, will not hinder such improvement."

01 December 2016

:: it's the most wonderful time ::

...of the semester. *eyebrow wiggle*

not exactly: we're coming up real fast on finals, and that's not the most joy-filled period of holiday cheer. but I have four days of classes left (counting today!!!) and that thought fills me with more happiness than I've felt in, gosh, three months? yeah, it's been rough.

class starts in ten minutes, so like this isn't exactly an update. I was just randomly thinking about middlemarch and thought I'd share an important life lesson in the form of Book Summary of A Classic. 

- - -

M I D D L E M A R C H

this girl thinks she's an intellectual, but finds she's happier with the poet.

- - -
...apply that to your life as you will.