August 2010

Books read:

  1. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco.
  2. The Perilous Gard, by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

I don’t think any explanation is necessary as for why there are only two books this month.

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Memory and song

The other day, one of my officemates commented on how song was linked with memory: such as, cases where someone who has had a stroke can still sing even if they can’t speak, observing that genealogies and epics might have been chanted/sung to more easily preserve cultural memory, instead of simply reciting them.

I’d heard this before, and it was reinforced when this morning we had a spoken Mass, instead of sung. Talking with some friends afterward, including some choir members, we mentioned how it was harder to remember the words of the Mass when speaking them only. But we can sing them.

August 23

1. I am copying Kelly from The Literary Cat, and I’m completely okay with this. (Is she?)

2. I survived the weekend bite-free. (I am, however, still having nightmares about bedbugs.)

3. I met with my supervisor today, and it was good. She told me to relax and take a deep breath and endure to the end of August, and then we can start over in September. (She also told me to stop being OCD and trying to read all of books.)

4. I keep finding myself in the magic section(s) of the library. One day I expect to have to take holy water with me, as I peruse through titles such as The Black Arts or Thinking with Demons, or to have the PMS walk up while I’m looking through one of his books. (I suppose someday I should tell him I’m studying fairies, so that he won’t write a book on them before me.)

5. I’m feeling positively decadent with my dinner of lemon rosemary salmon, white rice with leftover mushroom sauce from golden pork chops, spinach salad, and mango with cottage cheese. (However, me + mango = most dangerous fruit possible. I haven’t cut myself—yet.)

6. I am going to see a Red Sox/Yankees game with Laura in October. (My eloquence in the enthusiasm of the moment was: “that would be totally super cool awesome”.)

7. I read a very well written, reasonable and eloquent discussion of censorship and YA fiction and libraries: The Season of Censorship, by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. (You should read it, too.)

Some life lessons

“You look beat,” said Jesse when I came into the office at lunchtime. Yesterday, Faith and I spent 7.5 hours in what I have been calling Operation Overkill: hoovering, steaming, and otherwise exterminating any possible remnant of bedbugs, and precluding any possibility of taking them with me when I move. Isaac came when he got off work to help, too, and I would have been lost without them. I’ve lost count of how many days I have been dealing with bedbugs. Over a week, certainly. What I do know is that I have done fourteen (14) loads of laundry, and have two (2) more loads to do. I’ve taken two sets of six items to the dry cleaner and spent more money that I like to think about. I have packed 1 suitcase with 3 spacebags, scarves, and shoes (practically the entirety of my wardrobe) and taken it away to a friend’s house. I spent an hour and a half pumping up an air mattress with a bicycle pump — I watched an episode of Firefly while I did so, and so I suppose there are worse things to do. I have packed 2 plastic crates, one full of books, the other half full of books and then with sundries. I have one more suitcase and one more crate to pack and that will account for all of my earthly belongings. Nothing has been packed that has not been steamed or hoovered or otherwise washed and inspected. Yes, we even hoovered my books. If it could not be hoovered or steamed it was thrown away. I have been vicious, diligent, thorough.

The other night I dreamt that I came across a colony of bedbugs in my room, and as I stamped on them to kill them they kept growing bigger and bigger until one of them tried to bite off half my foot.

Throughout this process I’m learning more about human nature. I’ve also been learning who my friends are.

John mentioned in passing that all this might be part of my sanctification, and that has helped lend perspective. How I respond to each development in the Battle of the Bedbugs matters. The attitude I have, how I relate to my landlords, how I fit this into the big picture — I can respond poorly, selfishly, or I can keep a level head on my shoulders and do what needs to be done. I’ve been reading and rereading Philippians over the past week or so, and I have taken hold of Philippians 4:4-5, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” My copy of Philippians is heavily annotated thanks to an excellent Bible study led by Justin Hardin a couple of years ago, and I have “gentleness” in that verse glossed with “reasonableness.” So I have been putting my best efforts into being reasonable. It isn’t easy, especially when I am weary from literally a month’s worth of things not going quite right and being ill, and when all this work has made my arthritis protest painfully. Though I remind myself that the past week or so is a drop in the ocean when it comes to a lifetime, and that this too shall pass, sometimes I just don’t want to be reasonable.

In the midst of all this I have managed to slip out at night to see the falling stars, to make two jars of jam and go berry picking to make more jam, and to babysit one of my adopted nephews. These are the moments I’ve been glad to have, despite everything else.

Shine like stars

I spend each night in the backyard • Staring up at the stars and the moon • • Maybe this was made for me • For lying on my back in the middle of a field • Maybe that’s a selfish thought • Or maybe there’s a loving God

‘Maybe there’s a loving God’, Sara Groves

There have been a number of occasions this summer that I have walked at night when it was dark, but tonight was the first I encountered the night. It was a year ago around this time that I last went stargazing, when I went, as I did tonight, to watch the Perseid meteor shower. I went up to the field just behind my house, and was struck by the clarity of starlight. I forget how clear the sky is here, how close the sky is, that even the stars seem only an arm’s length away. There were so many stars that it took me a moment to get my bearings, and even then I couldn’t find all the constellations I usually find familiar for the abundance of points to begin my patterning. So instead I marvelled, and listened to the wind in the field and felt the crispness of the air and watched as the afterthoughts of a comet burned through the sky. Two miles away the town bell tolled midnight, and clouds pulled a blanket over the stars.

• • Maybe I was made this way • To think and to reason and to question and to pray

Perhaps I should go stargazing more often.

Sleep tight…

If ever I have children, I will teach them to never make their beds. I got over a stomach bug only to get the dreaded summer cold only to get a sore throat and bed bugs. Upon informing my landlords, one of whom is an entomologist, we caught one of these accursed creatures to have its identity verified. My mattress, etc., has been hoovered within an inch of its life and I am borrowing a set of very pink sheets because all of mine are in the wash.

Which leads me to my next point: the only thing to do with said sheets, once they are out of the washer, is to hang them outside. With a forecast of rain. Yet another reason this country needs to recognize that tumble dryers are the way of the future.

Meanwhile, my throat hurts and I look like I thought dancing with mosquitoes, or sleeping in a fire ant hill, was a brilliant idea. I’m tired and everything else right now is at an impasse—I do not need a break so much as a breakthrough.

At least I survived the first one hundred pages of The Name of the Rose. Maybe now my penance is complete and God will forgive me for laughing in church.

In a few words

August is:

Doing things I meant to do in July. Still half-expecting the school year to start. Improved Skype video with Kelly. Saying good-byes. Disconnected. Writing, crafting, thinking fiction. Fresh raspberries and blackcurrants. Typing fast, typing catalogues. Lammas fair and fingers sticky from cotton candy. Bright sun and jumpers in the morning. Waiting, planning for September.