Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Grrl genius

MAN!! I didn't just write that paper, I kicked its fucking ass!! Woo! I love this euphoric feeling, when you know you've done really good work.
It's an essay for TeacherCrush, to boot. It's terribly pathetic, really. I just think she's absolutely wonderful in every way; I always spend class furiously taking notes in order to keep myself from gazing adoringly at her with great big googly eyes. I knock myself out to impress her. I was wracked with anxiety when she handed back the first paper; I was convinced my thesis was too vague, my subject too broad, my analysis too superficial, she was just going to tear it apart, oh god she thinks I'm an idiot, please don't let her think I'm an idiot! When I saw I got an A- minus I was happy and relieved, of course; and then I immediately thought "Wait! I can make it better! Let me fix it!"
Which is totally unlike me; I've always been perfectly satisfied with a B average. But I become a perfectionist for this woman. It's a wonder little hearts don't pop up and float around my head whenever I speak to her. And I'm paranoid that somehow she'll find out about my crush, and I'd have to crawl in a hole and die from humiliation. Oh god.
But hey, it's doing wonders for my GPA, so that's something.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

College Lit Student Crushed Beneath Massive Pile of Essays, Details at 11.

Well I just finished discussing how Cabeza de Vaca is a precursor to Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim (that was interesting, to say the least); now I get to spend the rest of the week analyzing metaphor in Oedipus Rex (assuming, of course, that I don't take a page from Oeddy and gouge my eyes out first) and Germanic heroic culture in The Battle of Brunanburh.

If I survive, expect my next post to be me celebrating the fact that I never, ever, ever have to write another word about Sophocles ever again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Emma Donoghue

is my current authorial obsession. I stumbled across her novel Hood a year or so ago in my university library and it's been a passionate love affair ever since. I about fainted with delight when I ran across a copy of Kissing the Witch in a tiny bookstore in Florida this summer. Her novel Slammerkin was mesmerizing and traumatic. I didn't want to read it but I couldn't put it down. And currently I'm reading her work Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668-1801. Not that I actually have time to read it, but the only way I can get a copy is through inter-library loan through the university. Public library doesn't have it, bookstores don't have it, and I can't afford to buy it off amazon anyway. I'll make time if I have to, for Emma Donoghue. Her historical fiction is vivid and alive, her prose flawless, and she's witty and funny (she calls Horace Walpole "a big fag"). And, judging from the author photos, she's pretty cute too. She's got a new book out (HUZZAH!! I can die happy!) and Jessica Lee Jernigan, who's a far better book blogger than I, has been featuring Donoghue's work this past week. There are interviews about Slammerkin , her new novel Life Mask, and posts about Passions and Kissing the Witch. I keep trying to imagine what she must sound like in the interviews, with her lilting Irish accent...(Author crushes are so much more enjoyable than teacher crushes, let me tell you.) Anyway there's a post about Donoghue's book The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits in the archives for April, but I haven't figure out how to put up a link. I need to fix the archives up a bit.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Beware the sea-farin' man with one leg...

That's probably my favorite part of Treasure Island, at the beginning when Jim Hawkins receives a mysterious warning from a blind sailor. Having grown up about 1500 miles from the nearest ocean, I naturally have an obsession with all things sea-faring. So the guys who came up with Talk Like a Pirate Day! are definitely kindred spirits. Not only do they teach you how to talk like a pirate, they teach you how to speak pirate in German too! I've been playing around with pirate name generators and so far I've been dubbed Moanin' Adele Slasher, Dirty Anne Flint, Captain Keelhauler, and...Scribe Purple Tongue? As a kid I always thought it wasn't fair that the boys got to have all the swash-buckling fun, but in reality some cross-dressing queer women got in on the action too. Arr! Splice the mainbrace, me hearties! I'm going on the account!
Anyway, it just wouldn't be Talk Like a Pirate Day without a saucy sea shanty to sing (say that five times fast!). So here's one of my favorites, "Cruisin' Round Yarmouth":

While cruisin’ round Yarmouth one day for a spree,
I met a fair damsel—the wind blowing free.
“I’m a fast going clipper”—“my kind sir”, said she,
“I’m ready for cargo—my hold it is free.”

Singing fal the ral laddie right fal the ral day,
Fal the ral laddie right fal the ral day.

What country she came from I could not tell which,
By her appearance I thought she was Dutch.
Her flag wore rich colours—her masthead was low,
She was round at the quarter and bluff at the bow.

I gave her the rope and I took her in tow,
From yardarm to yardarm a-towing we go.
We towed on together till we came to the Head,
We both towed together through Trafalgary Bay.

We towed till we came to the House of Expire,
We gave her old horse with plenty of ire.
I lift up her hatches found plenty of room,
And into her cabin I stuck my jib-boom.

She took me upstairs and her topsails she lowered
In a neat little parlour she soon had me moored.
She laid in her foresails her staysails and all,
With her lily white hand on my reef tackle fall.

I said Pretty fair maid it’s time to give o’er,
Betwixt wind and water you’ve ran me ashore.
My shot-locker’s empty and powder’s all spent,
I can’t fire a shot for it’s choked at the vent.

Here’s luck to the girl with the black curly locks,
Here’s luck to the girl who ran Jack on the rocks,
Here’s luck to the doctor who eased all his pain,
He’s squared his mainyards—he’s a-cruising again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Happy Birthday

to one of my personal heroines, Margaret Sanger. (I know the day's almost over but better late than never, right?) I remember watching a documentary about her on PBS when I was in high school; to say that she was an amazing, courageous woman is to state the obvious. I remember thinking that she was the kind of person I wanted to be. And I remember feeling guilty, of course, for admiring her, because as a good Catholic girl I knew I wasn't supposed to.

The basic freedom of the world is woman’s freedom. A free race cannot be born of slave mothers. A woman enchained cannot choose but give a measure of that bondage to her sons and daughters. No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother...

Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that within her which struggles for expression. Her eyes must be less upon what is and more clearly upon what should be. She must listen only with a frankly questioning attitude to the dogmatized opinions of man-made society. When she chooses her new, free course of action, it must be in the light of her own opinion—of her own intuition. Only so can she give play to the feminine spirit. Only thus can she free her mate from the bondage which he wrought for himself when he wrought hers. Only thus can she restore to him that of which he robbed himself in restricting her. Only thus can she remake the world.

--from Woman and the New Race. Also check out The Margaret Sanger Papers Project.

A free race cannot be born of slave mothers. I bought a button with that quote on it at the March for Women's Lives last April.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A Grey Frock

Girl in a grey frock...

Your braids seem cotton-spun...
Girl, girl, to whom do you belong?

To my mother...Or to nobody.
If you wish--I shall be yours.

Girl in a grey frock...

Do you believe, dear, in a caress?
Sweet one, where are your eyes?

Here they are, my eyes. Empty ones,
Exactly the same as my mother's.

Girl in a grey frock,

What are you playing with?
What do you conceal from me?

Come now, do I have time to play?
There is much urgent work to do.

Now I spill a string of beads,
Now I wither the first sprout,
Now I cut pages out of books,
Or break the wings of a little bird...

Girl in a grey frock,

Girl with empty eyes,
Tell me, what is your name?

Everyone has his own name for me:
Call me whatever you like.

One calls me division,
Others call me doubt,
Or anguish.

Another calls me boredom,
Still another--pain...
And Mother-Death calls me Separation,

The girl in a grey frock...

--Zinaida Hippius

From The Penguin Book of Women Poets; probably one of the main reasons I like poetry anthologies best is I discover new poets I would never encounter otherwise. The New York Review of Books calls her "one of Russia's finest poets." I find this poem fairly mesmerizing; it's certainly enigmatic. And hey, there's nothing wrong with reading morbid Russian poetry of a Sunday evening. But Inspector Lynley is on now, so no more poetry tonight.

Thanks to the Green Man Review...

...I have another excuse to buy a book. Apparently it's National Writers and Editor's Month! So I guess I'll have to make a trip to one of my favorite bookstores, Used Books and Unicorns. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place on the square downtown (insofar as this place has a downtown) and I'm not entirely sure what the Unicorns have to do with it, but I like it. Maybe I can finally find a copy of Titus Groan; for some bizarre reason I bought the last two volumes in the trilogy but not the first, and I'd really like to get a start on it. 'Course what I'd really like is the special edition with all three novels plus a lot of neat extras, like the unfinished draft of the fourth novel.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Run out the cannons!! FIIIIIYAAAAAAHHH!!!

Holy crap! They have Hornblower quizzes!! Huzzah!!

You're COMMANDING ARCHIE. You usually have a grip
on yourself these days. Giving orders? No
problem. Blasting up French forts? Can't
wait!!! You're a little quick to act sometimes,
but that's fine by us. I mean, heck, you're
ARCHIE after all.

Which Archie Kennedy are you?
brought to you by Quizzilla

But the other one I found doesn't seem to be working. In fact the quizzilla results never seem to show up properly on this thing. Hmph.

::Sigh:: Right. Back to The Dream of the Rood, which is not as cool as it sounds...

...or I could take a Sylvia Plath quiz and get a grammatically incorrect result.

Which Sylvia Plath Poem Am I?

by echoing

Friday, September 10, 2004


We've had a cool, rainy summer, and now it's bizarrely hot outside, but I'm posting this anyway because the leaves are still turning and the equinox is coming up. I liked these bits from Thomas Hood's "Autumn", very gloomy and Romantic.

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn...

O go and sit with her, and be o'ershaded
Under the languid downfall of her hair:
She wears a coronal of flowers faded
Upon her forehead, and a face of care;—
There is enough of wither'd everywhere
To make her bower,—and enough of gloom...

There is enough of sorrowing, and quite
Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,—
Enough of chilly droppings for her bowl;
Enough of fear and shadowy despair,
To frame her cloudy prison for the soul!

Sounds like something Marianne Dashwood would like.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I guess this means I'm an evil geek

Ravenclaw Crest
And the Sorting Hat shouts: RAVENCLAW!You're uber-intelligent, creative, and logical.
You can be timid and you try to avoid
confrontation at all costs. You can't think of
anything greater than knowledge. Professor
Flitwick will be pleased to make your
acquaintance. Congratulations!

The Hogwarts Sorting Hat
brought to you by Quizilla

Your a Slytherin! Sly, sarcastic, mysterious and
determined you'll do anything to get your way.
You can be hard to get along with, but first
looks can be decieving because underneith the
Slytherin pride is a kind hearted soul just
waiting for show. You can find the good in

Hogwarts Sorting Hat Quiz
brought to you by Quizilla

I'd like to make a button that says that: EVIL GEEK. I kinda like it. I'm really glad to be back now that the first week of classes are over. Relieved to be back as the secretary/historian in FMLA, especially after a summer of just sitting at home stewing in outrage. It's going to be a busy semester so I think I'm going to focus a bit more on my classes here on my blog. On the one hand I've got Queer Theory and a Women's Studies course, and on the other I'm studying Old English Literature, Early American Literature, and a course in the history of literary criticism. So my reading is going to be all over the place; I've already had to drag myself through Plato's The Republic and Aristotle's Poetics. The Greeks are so. fucking. boring. A philosopher I am not. I am also forced to read Oedipus Rex (AGAIN. please, make it stop!) and The Last of the Mohicans. But I also get to study Beowulf (huzzah!), and one of my favorite novels ever, Evelina. And Macbeth too, so it all works out in the end.
I think I'll also try something a little different and just post excerpts or quotes from whatever I'm reading, passages that I particularly liked or I've been thinking about. I might not have time to post any thoughts or commentary with it, but I wanted a bit of a change from the "review" format, "I read such-and-such a book and did or didn't like it for whatever reasons."

Monday, September 06, 2004

Chick Lit Strikes Back

In the name of science, Bust magazine undertakes an experiment to determine the effects of Chick Lit on the average female reader:

My first volunteer, Cassandra L., read nothing but "chick lit" for 30 days, at the rate of approximately four and a half titles (256 pages average) a week. By day 11, she developed a bizarre tendency to fall down in high heels, especially in the presence of male employers and potential suitors, though by day 14 she began to carry a Marc Jacobs handbag, which she used to control her balance. By day 20, Cassandra needed special electromagnetic spectrum therapy to relieve the eyestrain caused by overexposure to the color pink on book jackets. By day 28, she slurred in a unique dialect that consisted of endearments like "crazy sweetie kitten" and weird British-isms like "naff." On her final day, she appeared disoriented as she stumbled up to the counter at a coffeeshop and tried to order something called a "cosmojito."

Ha! Vindication! Now that I've got scientific evidence on my side I can go back to being a literary snob with my conscience assuaged.

Apropos of nothing, one of my newest discoveries, Susanna Clarke, has landed on the Booker prize long list for her novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I first ran across her short stories in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series. Any Janeites who also enjoy fantasy will love her work. She writes what I guess you could call Regency magical realism, centered around two or three families in a country village, gossiping, dancing, and tea-drinking, except the vicar's wife usually ends up having a knack for turning boorish young officers into mice or something. In my favorite, "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," he doesn't misplace his horse so much as lose it in Faery Land. My two favorite genres combined! It's witty and fun and I love it, and her novel looks pretty gothic-y and I'm dying to read it (Tom Jones? Who?). Maybe that will be my birthday present to myself or something. Every now and then you find a new author and you immediately know you're going to read everything they'll ever write.

Well, I'm back.

Now that you've had a week to peruse my food preferences and the contents of my purse, I've finally managed to get my computer up at school and can do a little housecleaning done around here. Stay tuned.