Monday, August 30, 2010

James Blunt and Ripley-stuff

Listening to 'Back to Bedlam' puts me in such a reflective mood. 'High' reminds me of two guys (one I knew from university and one I knew from 1st Grade) whom I ran into during my library tech. course days. Just the fact that they remembered me sent my self-esteem soaring and always brings a smile to my face whenever I hear this song now. 'You're Beautiful' reminds me of the path I've chosen and how I have faced the truth that 'I will never be with you' (whoever that might be). 'Wisemen' is a song of triumph. 'Where are you now?' indeed! 'Goodbye my Lover' brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it. Very poignant and powerful song. Jumping ahead to 'Cry'... a beautiful song of love and friendship. May we all find such a friend on the path through life. Mine's my diary. Okay... I'm listening to 'Goodbye my Lover' right now, so I'm going to pause for some waterworks.... Although nothing brings on the flood like Rush's 'Tai Shan'.
Still working on 'The boy who followed Ripley', by the great Patricia Highsmith. I went to the library today and got some more books. No more Highsmith for a little while. Planning to get into Thomas Hardy. 'Jude the Obscure' rocked my world back in the day, based on previous diary entries. I'm also going to try to get into some Margaret Atwood (glutton for punishment, you might say? Maybe.) very soon. Before I get into those two, I've got a book that really blew me away back in 2001 (again, based on previous diary entries) about death. I'll keep you posted. Well, I guess that's about all on the literary level. I'm back to work, which is pretty good. The books are going to come in like crazy now, and I'll have lots of work in the days to come. Still, I know darn well that I need to buy many more books. I hope to get ordering VERY soon (once most of the books I ordered are in and added to the collection.
Would that I had more to say, but I guess I'm done. BYE.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

48 hrs. to go

Back to work in two days. I guess I'm ready to go back. It'll be good to see the staff and chat a little about the summer with everyone. Then the kids will be back and the whole crazy deal will start anew. It's a good thing. I've got a couple of things I want to accomplish over the course of the year. First off, there's the reading group. I've got to work out a few kinks in that and figure out the course of action that will work, not only for me but for the kids and their schedules. Second, I want to create a list of resources for each subject and put these lists on the school website. I should also hand these lists out to the teachers by e-mail or leave them in their mailboxes. Anything to be helpful. That is my job, after all. So that's a rough game plan for the school year. There will be many other things happening, of course. Should make for another eventful year.
On the reading front, I've started reading Camus' 'The myth of Sisyphus'. All I remember about Sisyphus is that he was doomed to roll a heavy rock up a hill and to have the rock get away from him just as he reached the top of hill. A pretty tedious gig for all eternity, and one that might make one question their own sanity. I guess that's the name of the game in some cases. However, the essay 'The myth of Sisyphus' is a take of suicide. I'm still not sure what the link is between Sisyphus and suicide (unless the dude took his own life - that is possible). Anyone out there with suggestions - please let me know. I've barely begun reading this collection of essays, so maybe I'll make the connection before long. After I have come to the end of Sisyphus and the other essays I'm moving on to more Patricia Highsmith. I trumpeted 'The talented Mr. Ripley' recently, and I have three more books in the series waiting. Fantastic!
From my 'Home books' list I have 'When prophecy fails'. I'm not that fond of prophecy these days, as I have said, so the title caught my eye when I was in Fargo earlier this year. Imagine you were part of a group (call it a cult if you will) which was convinced that the end was coming, and that you would be rescued just before the end came. It's what steered 'Heaven's Gate' to their unfortunate end, for instance. This group had no aims to physically take their lives, however. On the big day (or night), they sat or stood around, waiting for the change to come and to be taken up. Not to spoil it for anyone, but this change never came. What do you do when something you believe in completely doesn't happen? That's the focus of this book. I'm enjoying it very much.
C'est tout. BYE.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not regretting

I'm actually starting to enjoy not having a project to work on. After close to 20 years of writing this or that novel or other story, I took a serious break this summer and have focused my energies on diary and blog writing, along with gaming and reading. Considering I moved out so I could focus on writing, I have to laugh at the way things have turned out. I am working on a project of sorts. I'm transcribing my older diaries to computer file so when I can no longer read my own handwriting, I'll still be able to read what I've written in years past. This could get me in trouble in years to come, but who's going to read these diaries of a complete nobody? Even Emily Dickinson had more fame in her life, and she was a self-named nobody. I guess I'm not really looking for fame... not that I'd find it if I was looking for it. I do feel a little bad that I'm not working with the characters I have bouncing around in my head, but right now, I'm just not into writing a whole lot. And I'm back to work in a week, so there won't be a whole lot of time to write when I get back to the grind.
Meanwhile, I've done quite a bit of reading. I just finished reading Patricia Highsmith's 'Talented Mr. Ripley'. The mark of a good writer depends on how strongly the reader feels about the characters, plot, or setting, and the character of Tom Ripley is a winner. A chameleon, a mirror, a killer, a shadow - Ripley is all this and more. I've placed holds on more books in the Ripley series, and anticipate the dude either getting caught or succeeding. Part of me wants him to get caught. All depends on what Highsmith has decided to do with him. Kudos! I'm getting back into Waugh-writings with 'Brideshead Benighted' by Auberon Waugh. I thought him a real jerk when I read 'Way of the World' a couple of years ago. That just could be his character - to be a real jerk. I used a different word actually - is git the same a jerk? I could be mistaken.
Anyway, that's about all that's going on in my little world. Back to Waugh I go! BYE.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Poverty vs. Conscience

Daniel Defoe's 'Roxana' surprised me, and that's saying something. It's the first Defoe book I've ever read. I know the story of 'Robinson Crusoe' but have never read it. I plan to read 'Moll Flanders' very soon, but these are moot points. This story of a woman going from grinding poverty to high society caught me and drew me in nicely. Before I address the story itself, there are a couple of structural points I wish to make. The edition (1964) I read was pulled from the original first edition (1724), and I cannot help but wonder if changes were made in future editions. First off, there are no quotations marks and paragraph breaks to denote dialogue. I've found these in Austen, the Bronte's, Dickens... so I was pretty thrown. It's a lot of I said, he/she said stuff. Reminds me of the writing I used to do when I was 8. I know that Defoe's a better writer than I am, so I guess that's how they used to do things back in the 1700's. I guess quotation marks had either not been invented or they weren't important then.
Second structural point: No chapters! The whole thing flows without breaks of any kind. It wasn't until I was at least halfway through the book that I realized there were no chapters, so it's not the end of the world. Just could be a little annoying for folk who say 'Okay, I'm going to stop after chapter...' Apart from these two points, the rest of the structure is just fine. A few spelling differences, but normal for the 1700's. Now to get into the story proper. 'What goes through the mind of a mistress?' Defoe answers the question, more or less, with 'Roxana'. I'm sure there are mistresses nowadays who would share the protagonist's concerns and feelings, although most mistresses aren't connecting with lords, princes and high worthies in general. A successful enough businessman can keep a wife and mistress (or doxy - I love that word!) pretty well.
Roxana's conscience impresses me. I'm a cynic, so when a person (real or fictional) has morals enough to feel guilt so keenly, I'm impressed. I also find myself duelling with my conscience quite a bit, and I don't expect to be anyone's mistress anytime soon. As far as mistresses go, Roxana is quite the lucky one. Trailed by wealth and wealthy patrons from Paris to Rotterdam, to England, to a Quaker enclave, and then left in the lap of reasonable luxury with her second hubby and dealing with a ton of guilt. And what did she do, apart from sleep her way to the top? Her cunning and doting lady-in-waiting did much worse, but I'm focusing on Roxana and not her dear Amy. When faced with poverty and the fear of losing it all, what would you do?
Thought-provoking stuff. That's all. BYE.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A year abroad...

Not really. More like, a year out of the house. August 1 of last year I became the proud renter of this silent little isle I call home. According to my scribbles from last year, on July 21, 2009, news of the approval came in. On July 25, 2009, the packing began. The following are jottings from various entries leading up to the move.

"Looking through history. That's what happens when packing for a move."
"I'm feeling harried. That or stressed. Just feeling harried - pushed by forces I helped bring to life but now have precious little control over. It feels like a bloody whirlwind."
"It's amazing how much is needed (stuff most would consider basic requirement) for one person."
"My God, it's becoming more real. I now have insurance. My possessions have worth in the eyes of others."

My bed went in on August 3, which made the move pretty much set in stone. I had tons of doubts and was questioning myself to no end. More jottings from this time.

"The reality continues to sink in, and there have been a couple of squalls. There is also a sense of wonder and even a sense of pleasure. A sense of knowing I triumphed and have a space that is mine to take care of and enjoy."
"It took a while for me to fall asleep, given that my worries came for another visit."
"I bought a desk and a futon. I cannot believe how much money I'm spending! And all for me!"

Since those first doubting, timid steps into this different place, I have learned quite a bit. Not so much about cooking, but I've had plenty of time to look within and have deep thoughts about life in general. I have remained TV-free (apart from when I visit the parentals), spend time reading, watching DVD's, or hanging around online. One of these days I'll be a little more productive with my free time. Anyway, that's all for now. Here's to a second year of apartment life (unless I win the lottery and go condo)!