Blog Recommendations

Random Musing
I really like reading blogs. They're fun, and a pleasant change from spending your time online stalking people on facebook. Don't try to pretend you don't - repeat after me: "I must not tell lies" (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - there, I managed to slip a quote in). So I thought I'd share a short list of blogs that I enjoy reading.

1. Schizopanda is actually my little sister's blog. She's a pretty funny blogger, though I admit that I'm a bit biased.

2. Inspirationed is a friend of mine's blog. Besides life experiences and thoughts, he'll also post poems on occasion. I enjoy his work so perhaps you will as well.

3. Post-It Poets is a blog that sprung from my Writing Poetry class. The professor split the class into three groups and each group was supposed to have its own little poetry project. It could be doing collaborative poetry or just workshopping, whatever the group wanted to do - we were pretty much left to our own devices. My poetry group decided to do some post-it poetry (visit the blog to figure out what that means exactly), and the blog became a way of documenting that poetry as well as helping us reach out to a larger poetry community.

4. Damian Rogers is the blog of a published poet from Detroit - currently living in Toronto - who graduated from the University of Michigan.

5. Dorothea Lasky is the official blog of poet Dorothea Lasky - as you probably already figured out.

I wish the list was longer but not too many people I know blog regularly - or even semi-regularly. If anyone has a suggestion for a blog (or blogs) to check out, let me know.

Semester Wrap Up

Random Musing
My penultimate semester at the University of Michigan has finally come to a close. I am very relieved. Though simultaneously sorta freaked out. One more semester until graduation. Sigh. A bit of information for all of you: graduating in three years is not a great idea.

Anyways, in the spirit of avoiding thinking about the horror that is my future: All of my final papers were due sometime last week and I don't think any of them went horribly (fingers crossed!). Plus, my last finals (Physics 107 and The Victorian Novel) were on Wednesday. Four and a half straight hours of exams. Those were fun times.

I think both of them went pretty well actually. I already got my grade back on the Victorian Novel final (which went very well, by the way) but we only got a final grade back in physics so I can't say for sure what I got on the final exam. Considering that this exam was worth 40% of my final grade though, that I was at a solid B beforehand, and that I ended up with a B+ in the class, I think it must have gone well. And while a B+ might not satisfy a lot of over achievers out there, I was more than happy with it.

Physics 107: 20th Concepts of Space, Time and Matter has been the bane of my existence this semester. I hate physics. Admittedly, my experience with it is limited to a high school physics class and this one college course, but I'd like to think that doesn't make my opinion any less valid. While the professor for the class was a very nice man, he's not particularly talented when it comes to teaching. And subatomic particles are boring. Fact.

I only took the class because I needed to fulfill my quantitative reasoning requirement for graduation. It was this or statistics and given that this class was three hours a week and stats was four hours a week, physics seemed like the best option. I don't regret choosing physics, cause I do think I would've hated stats more, but it didn't make this a fun semester. It was too much work that I had absolutely no interest in doing.

I will not be taking any similar classes (aka: science/math classes) next semester. It's my last semester at UM, and lucky enough, I get to take classes that I'm actually interested in. Jane Austen, American Adolescence, Modern British Literature and a poetry tutorial make up my class schedule; 15 credits, 9.5 hours of class (yay for RC classes), and class only three days a week: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It's all very final semester of college. And while I'm excited about all of my classes, I'm especially looking forward to the poetry tutorial.

It's a half hour a week to discuss your poetry one on one with a particular professor. You read that right. Half an hour of class. And it does get me four credits. I find this very happy. I'm taking my tutorial with Ken Mikolowski, who was the professor of my Writing Poetry class this past semester, which I really really enjoyed. I'm excited to work more closely with him on my writing.

Before doing any real work (well, academic work) whatsoever though, I'm enjoying my winter break. No class, or class-related activities until January. Tis an exciting prospect.

I'm actually going to be sticking around Ann Arbor until the 23rd - even if I am done with academia for the year. I decided to take the opportunity to make some money instead of just heading back to Novi. So now I'm working some long evenings at the library. This shouldn't be too awful since most people will either be gone for break, or studying for finals and thus not harassing all of us wonderful individuals at circulation. I figure I'll be able to finish a couple of books while at work. The only issue this raises is what I'm going to read. I'm just about done rereading Harry Potter - which I'll reassure you is just as delightful as you remember it being - so I need to move onto something else. This is the kind of problem I like dealing with. Really beats figuring out what a proton decays into.

Dorothea Lasky Black Life Interview

                                  The Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh

Dorothea Lasky is an American poet from St. Louis who has authored two collections of poetry to date: AWE and Black Life. She is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and has also been educated at Harvard University and Washington University. Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Boston Review, Lungfull!, and Carve as well as among other publications. She has taught poetry at New York University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, The New England Institute of Art, Health Elementary School, and the Munroe Center for the Arts. She has also done educational research at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Philadelphia Zoo, and Project Zero. She is currently researching creativity and education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Nazifa Islam: Before I ask any specific questions about the book, I was wondering if you could enlighten me as to what your creative process is like. I know that's probably a question that you've been asked a lot, and it is fairly generic, but I’m curious about how you view the whole writing process.

1. Do you have a specific idea when you start a poem - something you want to accomplish? Or do you start a poem not knowing what the direction's going to be, and just see what happens? Or is it a mixture of both, depending on the poem?

Dorothea Lasky: I don’t have an idea of where a poem will go exactly when I start to write it. I think intuition is extremely important to the creative process and it is intuition that fuels a poem for me. I think it is ok to have an idea when you start a poem, but I don’t think you should be in control of the direction a poem will go to entirely.

2. How do you approach compiling a book of poetry?

D.L.: I view it thematically. So, I try to find themes (colors, images, content) in my poems and arrange a book around these. Sometimes there are larger themes and then sub-themes. In some ways, I see a book as a narrative and I want to tell some sort of overarching story. But less a story with a beginning, middle, and end, than a lesson.

3. In regards to Black Life, did you compile poems that seemed to speak to a certain tone or (set of) topic(s), or was there an initial idea in place for the book which meant writing poems to accommodate that idea?

D.L.: I think that both the poems with a certain tone and the theme of the book happened simultaneously. The line that starts the book and is the title “No Milk/Black Life” comes from a prompt the poet Laura Solomon told me about. She said she and a friend were playing around with the lines and trying to imagine what scene might go with such lines. The scenes they imagined were very bleak. When she told me the lines, I immediately imagined a very sad scene of a mother and son, at the depths of poverty, sitting in a dark room (done up in the colors and mood of Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters). In my imagined scene, the mother opens the refrigerator door and there is no food. The boy then says “No Milk/Black Life” and smiles eerily. After I had this vision, I knew it was a great title for the book. I started arranging my already very sad poems around this theme and adding in the color black and the term black life when appropriate. I also wrote new poems with this title in mind.

N.I.: Still in regards to your "creative process": I noticed while reading AWE, that certain poems actually included lines repeated verbatim from Sylvia Plath poems. I'm having a hard time remembering exactly which poems these were, but the quotations "devilish leopard" and "the pure gold baby that melts to a shriek" (or a variation on that line) come to mind.

D.L.: Sure. Yes, you are correct.

N.I.: I'm a Sylvia Plath fan myself, and I found the inclusion of such, say homage, to her in your poetry really exciting. So when reading Black Life I tried to pay attention to whether or not there was any similar repetition of Plath lines. I only picked up on "lemon water" from "Fat" though - which might not actually be at all related to Plath. So I'm curious on a couple of fronts:

4. Whether or not "lemon water" was an (intentional?) reference to Plath's "Fever 103"?

D.L.: Yes. And thank you for noticing. “Fever 103 degrees” is one of my favorite poems. Lemon water seems like such a wretched thing in Plath’s poem. I feel like that is the way Anorexia feels.

5. Whether you purposefully set out to include such references in your poetry, or if they simply come organically and then seem to fit in the poem? Or maybe your writing process is even a mixture of both the organic and inorganic?

D.L.: My writing process is a mixture of both, yes. I think it would be completely misleading of me to assert that my poems have no forethought or structure in them—that they are in fact “inorganic” as you say. But my writing process is largely organic. I believe in the importance of the organic component of poetry very vehemently.

N.I.: I really enjoyed your prose poem "The Poetry That Is Going to Matter After You Are Dead." The first line definitely hooked me - Sylvia Plath is my favorite poet as well - and I felt that your description of who she is as a poet was spot on. The poem quickly moves from discussing Plath to talking about the poem's speaker, and then to discussing what exactly poems which are worth remembering are composed of. Reading through the poem, a couple of questions came to mind:

6. What was your thought process behind constructing the poem as a prose poem as opposed to in more traditional stanza form?

D.L.: I wanted the poem to be relentless and I think prose poems are relentless, because there is no room for line break/breath.

7. Was the poem always a prose poem, or was it at one point a more traditional (aka: composed of stanzas) poem?

D.L.: It was always a prose poem.

8. In your opinion, does prose poetry lend itself to any particular subject matter, or to a specific tone when writing?

D.L.: I think a prose poem is like riding a train that’s gone off the tracks.

9. Is the poem/Can the poem been seen as a plea for the ideals of modernism and romanticism to be more a part of poetry today than they currently are?

D.L.: It can in part, but it is also meant to be a little jab at these ideals as well. I do greatly love the work of the Modernists and the Romantics. I especially love the Modernists.

N.I.: The fact that the speaker discusses his/herself as a poet in the poem - which happens rather frequently throughout various poems in the collection actually - made me curious about your choice to discuss the writing of poetry within your poems. You don't shy away from stating that the poem which the reader is reading - or which is addressing a particular individual or audience - is in fact a poem. There's a transparency between the speaker, the subject matter and even the reader throughout the book's poems.

10. Was this transparency something you intentionally created throughout the book, or something you set out to accomplish when writing?

D.L.: I am interested in what happens when the fourth wall has already been ostensibly broken. How then do you bring the author back in? And, I also see the lifelong process of being a poet as enacting a long-term relationship with your reader. It ebbs and flows, gets more and less intimate, but it is a bond no matter what, and a bond that is effectively unbreakable if you continue to write poems.

11. If so, what exactly was the rationale behind writing poems that were constructed in this manner?

D.L.: To continue to build on what can be done with direct address.

12. Whether or not you did intentionally set out to create this relationship between the poem's speaker/subject/reader, do you think that this relationship accomplishes anything in particular that could not have been done if you did not explicitly state within various poems that your poems are poems?

D.L.: I think the honestly takes away the barrier and the pretense. I think pretense keeps some readers away from poetry unnecessarily. I think that some might interpret this relationship as a call towards something opposite to artifice, but this is not what I meant to do. I hope my poem “Style is Joy” might explain this a bit.

N.I.: I noticed throughout the book that colors and animals kept reappearing, often within the same poem ("Yellowbird" and "Green" for example).

13. Do you find that particular colors lend themselves to particular poems? (A generic example would be that black is appropriate in poems with a more melancholic tone.)

D.L.: I like to constantly see what colors can do. I definitely don’t think that colors have set and/or defined tones (black as melancholic, etc.). Colors lend energy to particular poems. What is a poem without colors? Certainly not one I want to read.

14. Do you have a process by which you decide which color you're going to use in a poem? Is green the appropriate color in "Green" for a particular reason?

D.L.: I don’t have a set process. For that particular poem, I chose that color because I noticed a lot of green in Noelle Kocot’s book The Raving Fortune. And because the poem deals with youth and green has many connotations there obviously.

15. How does the use of animals function in your poetry? Kind of mimicking the above question, why did you choose otters for "Me and the Otters"?

D.L.: Animals are very important in my poems. I wish I could give a really great reason for using otters (other than they are so cute and I used to work in a zoo and watch them). One important reason was a play on “Me and the Others.”

16. Is the title supposed to be a sort of more whimsical rendition of "me and the others"? And did the poem's title come before or after you wrote it? I'm curious because there is no mention of otters in the poem until almost the very end.

D.L.: Hehe, I guess I answered this already. The poem’s title came before and then I put it in towards the end. Sometimes I do that to create unity in a poem. It’s an old trick, I think.

N.I.: Religion, or faith, also seems to play an important role throughout Black Life. It's mentioned in various poems, including "Nuns" or course, and seems to be lauded in "The Poetry That Is Going to Matter After You Are Dead."

17. Would you say that the importance of faith is a theme in Black Life?

D.L.: Faith is very important to both Black Life and my first book, AWE. It is important to Black Life, because the book is a struggle against nihilism.

18. If theme seems like too strong a word, would it be fair to say that the book at least discusses faith in some way?

D.L.: Yes, I think it does.

19. Did you set out to discuss faith when writing, or did it just organically emerge in your poetry?

D.L.: Again, my tendency is to say organically.

*Dorothea Lasky was kind enough to answer my questions via email.

Fear Me!

"'Fear is the original sin,' wrote John Foster. 'Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something. It is a cold, slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.'" -L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

"But while there was life there was fear." -L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

"He was afraid of the world. It was such a huge world and he was so terribly small in it." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

"You have to listen to women.  You should never ignore a woman's fears." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"'And after all, one does not die of it.' 'Die of what?' I asked swiftly. 'Of being afraid.'" -Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

"'It is natural to be afraid…'" -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

"…I will show you fear in a handful of dust…." -T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land"

"…I have to be protected
Because I am so afraid" -Dorothea Lasky, "Two Doors to Hell"

"…Live things are what the world is made of
Live things are black
Black in that they forget where they came from
I have not forgotten, however I choose not to feel
Those places that have burned into me
There is too much burning here, I'm afraid
Readers, you read flat words
Inside here are many moments
In which I have screamed in pain
As the flames ate me" -Dorothea Lasky, "Jakob"

Francesca: It isn't human not to be lonely and it isn't human not to be afraid.
-The Bridges of Madison County

Random Musing
I don't actually think you should fear me. I was just in the mood for theatrics. Felt I should explain that. Make sure you know I'm not going power hungry and losing my mind or anything. I just finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so I'm blaming the mood on a large dose of Voldemort.

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

On Poetry

"'Look, do you see that poem?' she said suddenly, pointing." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

"'I should rather call it a picture,' said Jane. 'A poem is lines and verses.'
'Oh dear me, no.' Anne shook her head with its fluffy wild cherry coronal positively. 'The lines and verses are only the outward garments of the poem and are no more really it than your ruffles and flounces are you Jane. The real poem is the soul within them…and that beautiful bit is the soul of an unwritten poem. It is not every day one sees a soul…even of a poem.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

"Everybody who has ever lived in the world and could string two rhymes together has written a poem on spring. It is the most be-rhymed subject in the world – and always will be, because it is poetry incarnate itself. You can never be a real poet if you haven't made at least one poem about spring." -L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

"I used to read everything, Professor, I read all the time.  Now all I read is poetry.  Poetry is the one thing that isn't contaminated, the one thing that isn't part of the game.  I don't know if you follow me, Professor.  Only poetry – and let me be clear, only some of it – is good for you, only poetry isn't shit." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"'To be a poet is to have a soul so quick to discern, that no shade of quality escapes it, and so quick to feel, that discernment is but a hand playing with finely ordered variety on the chords of emotion – a soul in which knowledge passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashes back as a new organ of knowledge. One may have that condition by fits only.'" -George Eliot, Middlemarch

"'I don't know. Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They're always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.'" -J.D. Salinger, "Teddy," Nine Stories

"…a poem is like a rare little watch: alter the delicate juxtaposition of cogs, and it just may not tick." -Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

"For some reason, no one likes to be told that they do not read enough poetry…" -Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

People Should Read

"For her, reading was directly linked to pleasure, not to knowledge or enigmas or constructions or verbal labyrinths…" -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"Fate imagined the masseur reading in a dark room and a shudder passed through him.  It must be something like happiness, he thought." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"Reading is pleasure and happiness to be alive or sadness to be alive and above all it's knowledge and questions." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"'What a relief to give up literature, to give up writing and simply read!'" -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"Madeleine had become an English major for the purest and dullest of reasons: because she loved to read." -Jeffrey Eugenides, "Extreme Solitude"

These Are Writers

"'I wonder why people so commonly suppose that if two individuals are both writers they must therefore be hugely congenial,' said Anne, rather scornfully. 'Nobody would expect two blacksmiths to be violently attracted towards each other merely because they were both blacksmiths.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

"But there is a destiny which shapes the ends of young misses who are born with the itch for writing tingling in their baby fingertips…" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

"Younger than Morini and Pelletier, Espinoza studied Spanish literature, not German literature, at least for the first two years of his university career, among other sad reasons because he dreamed of being a writer." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"These weren't comforting nights, much less pleasant ones, but Espinoza discovered two things that helped him mightily in the early days: he would never be a fiction writer, and, in his own way, he was brave." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"Ivanov's fear was of a literary nature.  That is, it was the fear that afflicts most citizens who, after fine (or dark) day, choose to make the practice of writing, and especially the practice of fiction writing, an integral part of their lives.  Fear of being no good.  Also fear of being overlooked.  But above all, fear of being no good.  Fear that one's efforts and striving will come to nothing.  Fear of the step that leaves no trace.  Fear of the forces of chance and nature that wipe away shallow prints.  Fear of the dining alone and unnoticed.  Fear of going unrecognized.  Fear of failure and making a spectacle of oneself.  But above all, fear of being no good.  Fear of forever dwelling in the hell of bad writers." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"See you at the Nobel, writers say, as one might say: see you in hell." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"Play and delusion are the blindfold and spur of minor writers.  Also: the promise of their future happiness." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"…You wanted to be a writer.
Wanted to write? What was it within you
Had to tell its tale?…" -Ted Hughes, "The God"

This is Writing

"'The p'int of good writing is to know when to stop.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

"The thing about writing is not to talk, but to do it; no matter how bad or even mediocre it is, the process and production is the thing, not the sitting and theorizing about how one should write ideally, or how well on could write if one really wanted to or had the time." -Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

"Writing sharpens life; life enriches writing." -Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

"When I say I must write, I don't mean I must publish. There is a great difference." -Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

"…Writing, meanwhile, is almost always empty.  There's nothing in the guts of a the man who sits there writing." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"It seems to me possible, perhaps desirable, that I may be the only person in this room who has committed the folly of writing, trying to write, or failing to write, a novel. And when I asked myself, as your invitation to speak to you about modern fiction made me ask myself, what demon whispered in my ear and urged me to my doom, a little figure rose before me – the figure of a man, or of a woman, who said, 'My name is Brown. Catch me if you can.'
Most novelists have the same experience. Some Brown, Smith, or Jones comes before them and says in the most seductive and charming way in the world, 'Come and catch me if you can.' And so, led on by this will-o'-the-wisp, they flounder through volume after volume, spending the best years of their lives in the pursuit, and receiving for the most part very little cash in exchange. Few catch the phantom; most have to be content with a scrap of her dress or a wisp of her hair." -Virginia Woolf, "Character in Fiction"

Dreams and Dreaming #6

"'I've a pocket full of dreams to sell,' said Teddy whimsically, with a new, unaccountable gaiety of voice and manner. 'What d'ye lack? What d'ye lack? A dream of success – a dream of adventure – a dream of the sea – a dream of the woodland – any kind of dream you want at reasonable prices, including one or two unique little nightmares. What will you give me for a dream?'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs

On Dying

"'Going out – out beyond the dawn. Past the morning star. Used to think I'd be frightened. Not frightened. Funny. Think how much I'm going to know – in just a few more minutes, Emily. Wiser than anybody else living. Always wanted to know – to know. Never liked guesses. Done with curiosity – about life. Just curious now – about death. I'll know the truth, Emily – just a few more minutes and I'll know the – truth. No more guessing.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"'I don't want to die now!' he yelled.  'I've still got a headache!  I don't want to go to heaven with a headache, I'd be all cross and wouldn't enjoy it!'" -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"'I'll never die,' the baroness said once to Archimboldi.  'Or I'll die at ninety-five, which is the same as never dying.'" -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"When the commonplace 'We must all die' transforms itself suddenly into the acute consciousness 'I must die – and soon', then death grapples us, and his fingers are cruel; afterwards, he may come to fold us in his arms as our mother did, and our last moment of dim earthly discerning may be like the first." -George Eliot, Middlemarch

"…Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
     I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
     To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,..." -John Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale"

On Happiness #19

"'It seems to me that the sum of human happiness remains much the same from age to age, no matter how it may vary in distribution…'" -L.M. Montgomery, Rilla of Ingleside

On Friendship #11

"I always enjoy giving love, and it is slightly painful to have it shut up in one until deep friendships develop with fruitful, reciprocal confidences involved." -Sylvia Plath, Letters Home

On Love #10

"…If I really loved you
Well I do love you!
Love me too
My heart is so dear to me
I could have been someone
With this throbbing thing
Spilling its red dress everywhere
Making people laugh
I could have made them cry" -Dorothea Lasky, "The Journey"

Post DC

Random Musing
DC was spectacular.

Yes, the drive was long - a total twenty hours there and back I believe. Yes, after so many hours of walking around and standing my feet hurt. Yes, I didn't really get much sleep over the course of three days.

But roadtripping and walking around the city was incredibly fun, The National Gallery of Art was just beautiful - it's an amazing collection -, and the rally was so much fun. Just so much fun. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I'm so glad I got to go. I'm not going to attempt to explain why it was so great. Cause I'm pretty certain I would fail.

All I'm going to say is that it was Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and a slew of amazing artists. Yusuf (Cat Stevens for those out there who weren't aware he converted to Islam in 1977 and changed his name to Yusuf Islam) was probably my favorite of those who were there. Colbert and Stewart singing was also a highlight - in a show full of highlights. "From the shores of Idaho to the shores of Kentucky." No joke.

So, in short, it was a pretty wonderful weekend. I hope that all of you out there - who graciously take the time to check in every once in a while - had excellent Halloween weekends as well!

Rabbit Hole

Random Musing
Rabbit Hole Trailer:

Nicole Kidman has a new movie coming out later this year. Rabbit Hole - based on the David Lindsay-Abaire play - will be in limited release December 17th and in wide release January 14th. So basically it'll be in New York and maybe LA on the 17th, while the rest of the US waits for the new year.

I'm a huge Nicole Kidman fan - I've quite literally seen all of her movies. I actually liked Bewitched (she starred and Nora Ephron wrote and directed - pretty great combo in my opinion), and even sat through The Invasion (which really was horrible). It doesn't matter if critics are ripping it apart (which has been the case for a while now sadly. Her last critically well received film was Cold Mountain in 2003), I will definitely want to see it. Positive critical response just means I get "justifiably" excited. And Rabbit Hole has already been getting lots of awards buzz. It's supposed to be really great.

My last bout of real movie excitement revolved around Never Let Me Go, which I finally got to see a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, it wasn't very good. It had beautiful cinematography and a great cast, but the screenplay was just awful. I honestly think that if I hadn't read the book beforehand I would have been really confused. The movie actually seemed to under-utilize its actors also. I felt like they were barely in the movie, which is strange when it's a character-driven plot and you have talent like Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan.

Okay, Never Let Me Go mini rant over. My point is just that the last movie I was excited about proved disappointing. In fact, the last few movies I've been excited about have proved disappointing. Never Let Me Go, Alice in Wonderland, and Nine were all thoroughly mediocre. I'm hoping that Rabbit Hole finally breaks the pattern. Expect an update mid January. Only two and a half months to go. Sigh.

A Fairy Tale

"The Princess of the Green Valley"
     Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a small kingdom nestled in a green valley. It was a prosperous, peaceful kingdom which was ruled with loving care by its young King and Queen. These kind rulers were adored by their loyal subjects who wished them every possible happiness. And indeed the King and Queen had almost everything they could desire, for they loved their kingdom almost as much as they loved one another. Only one inestimable thing was missing from their lives: a child and royal heir to the throne. And as time passed, the years slowly giving way to decades, the chance that there ever would be one seemed to fade away.
     Then one dark stormy night, a small cry broke through the silence that had long ago descended on the royal castle. Steadied by the years, their noble visages faintly lined and their hair touched with grey, the King and Queen were finally blessed with a daughter. The delicate little princess was as pale as her curls were dark, and her eyes were the mild gold of honey. Her tiny presence was everything the King and Queen had ever dared hope for. To them she was perfect, the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen. And they named her Adrienne.
     To commemorate the birth of their new daughter, the monarchs held a grand ball in her honor. One to which every nobleman and woman of the kingdom was invited. To this extensive guest list, two more special persons – unable to lay claim to any of the numerous titles of nobility - were included: the Witches Meridan.
     Two sisters, Parthenia and Penelope Meridan, were among the most feared and respected persons of the green valley. They had resided in their small cottage, tucked into a corner of the kingdom, for many many years. So long that there was not a single individual in the kingdom who could recall a time or age when their presence in the valley had been missed. The witches lived modestly, inconspicuously, living so as not to draw attention to themselves; a futile act as the valley’s residents could not help but watch them in fascination. A fascination which had led to the surprising and slightly uncomfortable discovery that throughout their many years of living within the valley, the sisters had not aged but even one day. To look upon the Witches Meridan was to look upon eternal youth, the only visible sign of their incredible magic.
     It was this magic that the King and Queen called upon during Adrienne’s ball. They had invited the Witches Meridan to the ball foremost out of respect and a desire to avoid insulting them, but in the midst of the festivities the Queen peered down at her daughter with loving eyes and could not help but wish there was a means of guaranteeing her happiness in this hard world. It was at that moment that she came upon a wonderful idea which could only find fruition with the aid of the Witches Meridan.
     The Queen asked the two witches if they would be so kind as to grant her a favor in regards to Princess Adrienne. Being really most obliging individuals, Penelope and Parthenia promised almost immediately to carry out the Queen’s request without question, whatever it may be, so long as it was within their power.
     The Queen was quite pleased by their alacrity and she said, looking all the while at the tiny princess, “I would like her to have happiness in the future.” Though she spoke softly, her words managed to carry to every corner of the hall. “Happiness such as that which I have been so fortunate to have found.” She and the King smiled at once another before she turned her full attention to the witches. “I want to guarantee she find love in the future,” she concluded warmly.
     Parthenia and Penelope exchanged a troubled glance which went unnoticed by every other individual in the large hall. Bound by their unwise promise to not question the Queen’s request, Parthenia said hesitantly, in a clear sweet voice which was as young as she herself appeared, “Your highnesses are requesting that we guarantee that Princess Adrienne find love in this lifetime?”
     “True love,” the Queen clarified. She smiled trustingly at the witches. “Happiness.”
     Penelope spoke then, her lovely voice carefully calm. “Guarantee she find true love?” When the King and Queen nodded once again, she could only say sadly, “So be it.”
     Penelope turned to Parthenia and the two witches locked mournful eyes, sharing their thoughts with one another, searching for a means to do as both the Queen wished and appease their own consciences. Alas, the witches could only think of one almost negligible way to do so. Though unhappy with what they must do, the witches began to speak in unison and bright lights enveloped the little princess.

             “Darling Adrienne, maiden of royalty born,
             By desire of loving parents
             Who in this world found such happiness,
             We, the Witches Meridan, do promise
             That you will experience the joy of True Love’s first kiss.
             In the moment that lover’s lips do touch thine own
             Your happiness will know no mortal bounds.
             One breath of pure bliss we gift to you princess,

             For when thy lips do part royal maiden,
             Cold ethereal Death will descend on thee.
             For life holds but one dark guarantee.
             And to bind you to happiness in this hard world,
             Love and death must as one be unfurled."

     Where the first verse of the spell elicited ecstatic cries of approval from the witch’s audience, the second left them speechless. A silent horror descended upon the hall. The King and Queen stared at the witches, aghast. And defeat seemed to have wrapped itself about the Witches Meridan as well.
     It was not long before the King and Queen’s shock turned to righteous anger. They demanded the reversal of what they deemed the witches’ curse, but alas it could not be done. Such a spell would hold the test of time, the witches said, just as it had been designed. The witches wished to more fully explain what they had been forced to do, but further speech was not tolerated by the monarchs. Their royal highness’ response to Penelope and Parthenia’s refusal to lift the spell was to order the witches seized and imprisoned. But the guard’s attempts to do so were piteously in vain. The Witches Meridan disappeared silently into thin air, never again to be seen in the kingdom.
     And so it was only weeks after she entered the world that the Princess Adrienne was barred from it. She was immediately confined to a single wing of the castle which was restricted from all but a few select individuals, for the King and Queen were taking no risks with their daughter’s life. They had decided that as the spell upon her could not be lifted, she must, at all costs, be kept from falling in love. And so they locked her away from the world and all of its once-thrilling prospects.

     The years passed and Adrienne grew in beauty as she did in age. At eighteen she was a tall, slender figure of a girl with dark brown locks curling about a delicate pale face that never saw enough of sunlight. Adrienne was as blissfully unconcerned with her future as all princesses of her age were bound to be, for the King and Queen had decided that she was not to know a thing about the witches’ spell. That she was never allowed outside her one wing of the castle and was politely restricted to her rooms when visitors of any type arrived was not initially perceived as odd by the princess. As a child she had of course never known another life. And when her daily existence did finally striker her as unusual in adolescence, she came to the conclusion that her parents were simply over protective as she was their only child, a conclusion not too far from the absolute truth. Besides, she would think to herself, how was she to know if this was not as all princesses of her time lived – the princesses of storybooks were of course from another age.
     It was really only after years of eyeing the beauty ever present outside the castle windows and reading about grand adventures that always took place outside of thick stone walls that Adrienne really felt the restrictions upon her person. Her lack of friends, let alone acquaintances, rankled strongly with her. To be certain, she was incredibly fond of her mother and father, and very much liked the few female servants who would bustle about her castle wing. However, none of these persons could truly be called a friend and Adrienne did not know and never had known anyone else. In eighteen years, not a single person other than the aforementioned had ever set eyes on the princess. And she, in turn, had never seen anyone else. It was the eighteenth anniversary of that long ago and fateful ball that this situation was finally and fatally altered.
     That particular day, young Prince Damian of a kingdom far far away, arrived at the castle. He was on a journey to a kingdom by the sea and had been advised to seek shelter in the green valley before continuing onward to his destination. Though it was quite late into the night that he came upon the castle, he was taken in graciously by the King and Queen, as was only proper royal etiquette. And as in the midst of his arrival the princess was of course sleeping, it was decided that she would be instructed not to leave her quarters the next morning instead of being unduly woken with such directions. This one decision would be fate’s means of bringing the Prince and Princess together.
     Despite his late arrival to the castle, the Prince breakfasted with the King and Queen early the next morning. Their royal highnesses had of course the usual affairs to tend to following the meal and as rain was falling steadily outdoors, the Prince informed them that he had decided not to continue his journey until the weather finally cleared. While inwardly a bit nervous about having the Prince around the castle, the King and Queen said nothing untoward to him. They simply, as courtesy demanded, hoped he would be comfortable during his stay and also politely, if forcefully, requested that he please refrain from setting foot in the castle’s east wing. The rest of the castle he should feel free to explore, and there was indeed a splendid library in a room about the north wing, but visitors were generally restricted from the east wing. The Prince was ready enough to abide by their request, expecting only to head back to his rooms and wait out the weather before leaving the castle. So the King and Queen left the table – and the Prince – not especially worried about Adrienne. Princes had come and gone from the castle for years now with no incident and there was no reason to suppose that Prince Damian should be an exception. That Princess Adrienne was not currently safely restricted to her quarters and that the Prince was to get confoundedly lost on his sojourn back to his own rooms was not known to the monarchs.
     Princess Adrienne had risen from bed earlier than usual that particular morning and had immediately left her bedroom to watch the sun rise from her favorite set of windows. This meant that the servants had been unable, though not for lack of trying, to find her and relay their royal highness’s instructions. The east wing was rather extensive in size, a large part of the reason it had been chosen as Adrienne’s own, and it was impossible for the servants to know precisely where the Princess had gone. This did not trouble them particularly, for though they would prefer her to be safely behind closed doors, Adrienne had never defied her parents request to stay within the bounds of the east wing. And visitors, especially princes, were most certainly not permitted there.
     As Princess Adrienne gazed dreamily out of windows Prince Damian became almost hopelessly lost as he attempted to find his own rooms, an almost impossible feat considering the dining hall’s close proximity to them. However, for some mystical reason, as the Prince attempted to find the corridor that led to his room, he was presented with nothing but one long winding passage that he could have sworn had not existed just hours before. He tried to find another more familiar passage way but somehow there was no other way out of the dining hall. Even the corridor the King and Queen had just used to exit the dining hall had disappeared. With no other option the Prince walked down the long passage hoping it would eventually lead to a part of the castle he recognized.
     And so it was that Prince Damian came slowly closer and closer to the one part of the castle he was forbidden just as Princess Adrienne tore herself away from the windows. She was wandering the halls of the east wing, deep in imagination, spinning her own lovely castles in the air when the Prince came to a hall which had not in long years seen Prince nor young man of any kind. He was peering down the hall in some frustration when Adrienne turned a corner and the two saw one another.
     Adrienne was most certainly the more startled of the two youths. She had only in books or from a far distance, peering at visitors from her windows, seen anyone resembling the Prince and she was quite certain that the King and Queen would disapprove, to put their feelings lightly, of their having ever met. However, she found that though she was startled at the sight of him, she was not at all afraid of him. No impulse within her told her to turn away and walk back to the safety of her rooms and indeed she found that she could not do more than stare back at the tall, handsome individual in front of her. For the Prince was tall and dashing and handsome as all princes should be. And he was also, as is only to be expected in such a circumstance, from first glance completely enchanted by Adrienne.
     He had met many princesses before. He had been meeting them for many a year now, for his parents had been from the eve of his twenty-first birthday hoping in vain that he would soon marry. He had been unable to find one to suit him however, though every one of those many princesses had been beautiful and charming in their own right. Something about Adrienne, or perhaps simply their belonging to one another, instantly told him that here was finally the princess that he would marry. He had no doubt that she was a princess, though he had never before heard of any princesses living in the kingdom of the green valley. Just as he had no doubt that he was love with her.
     He slowly walked up to the silent and still princess, fully intending to introduce himself and pondering if it was too soon to propose marriage. However, when he finally found himself in front of the lovely slip of a girl he could not speak. Instead, all that came to his lips was an involuntary smile.
     The moment his kind smile fell upon Adrienne she knew why she could not move. She had never done more than read about love before, but in that instance she found herself already in love with the Prince, not knowing a thing about him, let alone his name or that he was actually a prince. Unlike Prince Damian, she could not immediately recognize royal heritage. She only recognized that she was in love with him. And she smiled up at him sweetly that it was as though she said the words aloud. Smiling softly at one another, and entirely unaware that their happiness was to be so fleeting, the Prince and Princess drew together into that most fatal kiss.
     Unspeakably happy the Prince drew away Princess Adrienne only to find that the soft smile was now eternally frozen to her lips. Anguish quickly replaced his happiness and in his misery a heart-wrenching cry escaped from his lips to summon servants and guards from all over the castle. A cry so terrible it even summoned the King and Queen from their own secluded corner of the castle.
     The sad sight they found was that of the heartbroken Prince kneeling over the dead Princess, tears streaming down his face. The King and Queen’s grief was as complete as his own, and for long moments they could do nothing but stare at this image of broken happiness. Anger found no place in their hearts and they did not, as a number of the servants feared they might, demand the Prince seized and imprisoned for what he had done. They only, upon seeing the Prince’s haunted confusion at this terrible turn of events, explained to him in broken words why fate had seen to be so unkind.
     Refusing to relinquish hold of his would-be bride, the Prince listened to their sad story while still sunken to the floor. And it was only at its completion that he began to say over and over again in obvious growing torment, “‘True Love’s first kiss.’” At the confusion that met this phrase he finally explained in a hollow voice, “It was the kiss.” He swallowed a painful sob. “Not love.” And so it was in this terrible way that the King and Queen, and in time all their subjects, finally learned of the careful compromise the Witches Meridan had made eighteen long years ago.

                                                     The End.

On Love #9

"…I hope you proved to yourself
whatever it was you were trying to prove.
That you loved me.
That you didn't.
That I failed you and
I wasn't worth holding onto anyways.
That you did all you could do.
The fictions we tell ourselves
in order to stagger away." -Suzanne Hancock, from "Cast From Bells"

Dreams and Dreaming #5

"...me, a dreamer, I walked enchanted, and nothing held me back." -Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca

"Religious Melancholy"

"'She'd been real melancholy in the fall – religious melancholy – it ran in her family. Her father worried so much over believing that he had committed the unpardonable sin that he died in the asylum.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

"'There are days when he growls at everybody because he thinks he is fore-ordained to eternal punishment. And then there are days when he says he does not care and goes and gets drunk.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Rainbow Valley

"But of course he was in the wrong religion for compromises, deals, pacts, weaknesses…" -Zadie Smith, White Teeth

"Once, they'd even brought the minister of the Unitarian church, whom I'd never really liked at all. He was terribly nervous the whole time, and I could tell he thought I was crazy as a loon, because I told him I believed in hell, and that certain people, like me, had to live in hell before they died, to make up for missing out on it after death, since they didn't believe in life after death, and what each person believed happened to him when he died." -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Random Musing
Changed the blog layout today, as I'm sure you've noticed (if you hadn't noticed before my mentioning it here, then that's really a bit weird) - mostly because my sister's been harassing me to for a while. She didn't like how generic the old layout was. I haven't quite gotten used to the new look yet, but I'm sure I will in a few days. Hopefully you approve of the change yourself - or at the very least, don't find it so awful that you decide to stop visiting.


Random Musing
I want a typewriter. One of those cool, vintage typewriters that are in all the old movies. Not an electric typewriter that has absolutely no personality. Though some electric typewriters aren't all that awful actually - the one(s) in You've Got Mail is/are pretty cool. (If you've watched the movie you'll understand what I mean.) But yeah, owning a typewriter would be pretty amazing. As much as I do love my Vaio, writing on it isn't quite the experience that clacking away on a typewriter would be. For once thing, you can't "clack away" on a laptop. That being said, the type of typewriter I want is really expensive. I've looked on ebay. And buying ribbon would be a pain in the ass too. Also, given how impractical a purchase one would be, I just can't justify spending the money. Tis unfortunate. So for now I'll just dream about typewriters - figuratively that is. I've never literally dreamt about typewriters. That'd be a bit odd. 0_0

Just Very Very Tired

"One day, walking down some street in Brooklyn, Antonio Jones had felt tired, sat down on the sidewalk, and a second later stopped existing." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"The priest was young and seemed tired, not because of what had happened that night but because of something that had been wearing him down for years." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"'I'm just tired of everything…even of the echoes. There is nothing in my life but echoes…echoes of lost hopes and dreams and joys. They're beautiful and mocking.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

On the Moon and Moonlight

"A cynical, lopsided old moon was coming out from behind some shaggy clouds in the east and the fields beyond seemed to wink slyly and impishly at her." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

"'Such moonlight. It is such a night as one might fall asleep in and dream happy dreams of gardens and songs and companionship, feeling all the while through one's sleep the splendour and radiance of white moon-world outside as one hears soft, faraway music sounding through the thoughts and words that are born of it.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

"'Last night I almost told him I'd marry him. But I had sense enough to know it was just the moon. I could be in love with anybody when the moon is just right.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Mistress Pat

"…For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea." -Edgar Allan Poe, "Annabel Lee"

"At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapour, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley…." -Edgar Allan Poe, "The Sleeper"

"Sit down beside me, Isabel,
Here, dearest, where the moonbeam fell
Just now so fairy-like and well.
Now thou art dress'd for paradise!
I am star-stricken with thine eyes!
My soul is lolling on thy sighs!
Thy hair is lifted by the moon
Like flowers by the low breath of June!
Sit down, sit down – how came we here?
Or is it all but a dream, my dear?…" -Edgar Allan Poe, "Fairy Land"

"I saw thee once - once only - years ago:
I must not say how many - but not many.
It was a July midnight; and from out
A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber,
Upon the upturned faces of a thousand
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden…" -Edgar Allan Poe, "To Helen (II)"

"…Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
Fell on the upturn'd faces of the roses,
And on thine own, upturn'd - alas, in sorrow!…" -Edgar Allan Poe, "To Helen (II)"

"…I can't lie that dreams are ridiculous.
And in dreaming myself upon the moon
I have made the moon my home and no one
Can ever get to me or hit me or kiss my lips…." -Dorothea Lasky, "The Process of                                                                                               Explication: III"

The Swell Season

Random Musing
If you haven't seen Once yet, you should stop reading this blog immediately and go watch it. It's an amazing movie, with an even more amazing soundtrack. I've actually recommended songs (or a song anyway) from the soundtrack before.

Well, The Swell Season is a folk rock band formed by the two leads from the movie. If you happen to like music in the line of Damien Rice, they might be right up your alley. The following are my personal favorites from their album Strict Joy. Check them out if you are so inclined.

1. The Rain
2. Fantasy Man
3. I Have Loved You Wrong
4. Back Broke

iPod Touch!

Random Musing
I just bought the new iPod Touch to replace my iPod Video. I'd had the iPod Video for about four and a half years - I got it for my 16th birthday - and it did serve me really well for a pretty long time. In the end, the decision to buy a new iPod had to do with just one thing: battery life. (Well, that and the fact that I prefer iPods to other mp3 players.)

But yeah, battery life was really the big thing. After so many years, the battery on the iPod Video ran down considerably. I could get maybe 6-7 hours if I refused to ever hit skip or even change the volume (when it was new you could listen to 14 hours of music - even while hitting "next"). If I did decide to use it like a normal mp3 it would only last for around 1-3 hours, which became irritating very quickly. So I finally decided, after too many instances where I fully charged it only to have it die on me in no time, that it was time to buy a replacement.

So after doing research on various iPods and mp3 players - and post going into the Apple Store and discovering (to my shock actually) that I did like the whole touch screen thing - I decided on the new iPod Touch. I only got it in the mail today, and after hours of messing around, it's now fully synced with my iTunes and my apartment's wireless and is basically set up how I want it. I'm pretty excited about it. A normal reaction given that it is shiny and new and pretty - like all Apple products.

I do still need to find a case or some sort of protection for it, but minus that little worry blip I'm just excited to be able to go for long walks and not have to worry about my iPod dying any minute. It's a relief. And yes, the purchase has relieved my bank account a bit (sue me - I like puns), but I can live with that since this really is a purchase that will be useful in the long term. The last iPod lasted almost five years. And I think that stat bodes well for the new one. Fingers crossed.

On English Majors and Physics

"What if we were muons?
Would you still love me?
You wouldn't have to for very long.
It's all relative." -Sarah Barton, "Muons"

Random Musing
The above poem is what happens when English majors have to take physics classes. If you're confused, wiki/google "muons" - it should make more sense.

I should mention that I took the liberty of titling the poem "Muons" since the author didn't deign to bestow a title on it. Not that she ever does give her poems titles actually.

On Trees and Two Birthdays

"'Listen to the trees talking in their sleep,' she whispered, as he lifted her to the ground. 'What nice dreams they must have!'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

"But the little path was shadowy and narrow. Trees crowded over it, and trees are never quite as friendly to human beings after nightfall as they are in daylight. They wrap themselves away from us. They whisper and plot furtively. If they reach out a hand to us it has a hostile, tentative touch. People walking amid the trees after night always draw closer together instinctively and involuntarily, making an alliance, physical and mental, against certain alien powers around them." -L.M. Montgomery, Rainbow Valley

"'This afternoon I sat at my window and alternately wrote at my new serial and watched a couple of dear, amusing, youngish maple-trees at the foot of the garden. They whispered secrets to each other all the afternoon. They would bend together and talk earnestly for a few moments, then spring back and look at each other, throwing up their hands comically in horror and amazement over their mutual revelations. I wonder what new scandal is afoot in Treeland.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

Rory: I have to tell you, this tree is perfect.
Lorelai: All girls think their tree is perfect.
-Gilmore Girls (Episode 4.06: An Affair to Remember)

Random Musing
I love how incredibly whimsical L.M. Montgomery's quote about Treeland is. I wish I could write anything as charming as that. But alas, the dark and dreary are more along my lines than the enchanting.

In entirely unrelated news, Happy Birthday to my sisters Namira and Nishat! They turned 23 and 19 respectively. (And yes, it is rather strange that they have the exact same birthday when they're four years apart.)

Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive

Random Musing
I'm sure that some news of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive has reached you by this point. It's going to happen in Washington D.C. on October 30th - so it's a little over a month away - and I think that you should go. Yes, whoever is reading this, "you" really does mean you. I say this because I'm going. That's right, I'm abandoning Ann Arbor Halloween weekend and making my way to D.C. It should be a good time - 10 hour drive and all.

Check out the site for more information on the whole thing, keep watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and make the incredibly-smart decision to be in D.C. October 30th. Maybe I'll see you there!

(Well, probably not to be entirely honest. It's a big city and there are going to be a lot of people there. The odds are very slim that I'll run into you. Whoever "you" are. But I figured I'd end the post on a more optimistic note. Which I'm entirely doing away with here. It's just more in character.)

Green Ink!

Random Musing
I just discovered that it is possible to find green ink cartridges for my fountain pen. Green ink. I'm totally going to feel like Harry Potter writing in green ink with a fountain pen. Sure it's not exactly a quill pen, but it's as close as we're going to get in the real world (aka: The Not-Nearly-As-Exciting-As-Harry Potter World). In case you couldn't tell from that statement: I'm very excited about this green ink. Yes - I'm just going to go ahead and say it - my life is that small.

I still have many many blue/black ink cartridges left, so the green's not going to be forthcoming for a while, but eventually those blue/black cartridges will run out and I will be buying green ink. I know what you're thinking. I could just go ahead and buy the cartridges now. Who cares if I still have blue/black ones left? True. I could. Well, except not really cause that just seems sort of wasteful. I know that with green ink in hand I'll probably ignore my blue/black ink. Forever. Even when I run out of green ink. I'll just buy more green and the blue/black cartridges will gather dust. See, wasteful. So I will just bide my time and look forward to the day that my world becomes more aligned with Harry Potter's. As is the hope and dream of every sane person on the planet.

The Mean Reds

"'Listen. You know those days when you've got the mean reds?'
'Same as the blues?'
'No,' she said slowly. 'No, the blues are because you're getting fat or maybe it's been raining too long. You're sad, that's all. But the mean reds are horrible. You're afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don't know what you're afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don't know what it is.'" -Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's

Random Musing
I've always wondered what to call the mean reds once that "something bad" actually does happen and you know what it is. The mean reds would have evolved into something else by that point; horrible uncertainty and anticipation is such a huge part of them. And as awful as the mean reds are I think that new manifestation of them would probably be worse.

Horrible things are often even more horrible than you were expecting them to be. It's kind of like how the anticipation of looking forward to something is so often more fun than that "something" itself. Breakfast at Tiffany's introduces us to the mean reds, but I'm personally looking to avoid what inevitably follows them. The "Evil Blacks" or "Sad Greys" maybe? Lame suggestions I'm afraid.

On Friendship #9

"'All had their rapture; their common feeling with death; something that stood them in stead. Thus I visited each of my friends in turn, trying, with fumbling fingers, to prise open their locked caskets. I went from one to the other holding my sorrow – no, not my sorrow but the incomprehensible nature of this our life – for their inspection. Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends, I to my own heart, I to see among phrases and fragments something unbroken – I to whom there is not beauty enough in moon or tree; to whom the touch of one person with another is all, yet who cannot grasp even that, who am so imperfect, so weak, so unspeakably lonely. There I sat.'" -Virginia Woolf, The Waves


Random Musing
September is drawing near which means so is the start of fall semester. Classes don't actually start until September 7th, but already I need to worry about one of my (potential) classes: English 424, aka: Advanced Poetry Writing.

I don't get to take this class unless the portfolio I submit as a sort of audition passes muster. Now I've written a lot of poems. Most not very good, some passable, and a few I'm kind of happy with. Nothing really spectacular. But now I have to compile a portfolio of ten poems before September 1st, and I am at somewhat of a loss as to which poems I should choose.

So, I'm asking for some help from you loyal blog followers. If anyone reading this can think of any poems that I've posted which struck them as particularly/any good whatsoever, let me know. The suggestions will be helpful in pulling together a portfolio.

Thanks in advance!

On Friendship #8

"Those final weeks, spanning end of summer and the beginning of another autumn, are blurred in memory, perhaps because our understanding of each other had reached that sweet depth where two people communicate more often in silence than in words; an affectionate quietness replaces the tensions, the unrelaxed chatter and chasing about that produce a friendship's more showy, more, in the surface sense, dramatic moments." -Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's

Music Recommendations

Random Musing
Here are a couple of songs I've been listening to a lot lately:

1. "I'm Waking Up to Us"

2. "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"

I've recently become enamored with Belle & SebastianPush Barman to Open Old Wounds is my favorite of their CDs thus far - and I previously recommended another Star's song, "Dead Hearts." If you're looking for new music, the above links could be a good starting point. Hope you enjoy!

Dreams and Dreaming #4

"'Keep your dream, little Marigold, as long as you can. A dream is an immortal thing. Time cannot kill it or age wither it. You may tire of reality but never of dreams.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Magic for Marigold

An Unquoted Quote

Random Musing
"Do you ever get so caught up in the previews that you forget what movie you're watching? Well that's my life."

That's not an actual quote. Well, not one that I read or heard or anything. It just popped into my head while I was watching Breakfast at Tiffany's. Elizabethtown was one of the previews on the DVD so I suppose Cameron Crowe rubbed off on me and made the above come to mind. It's not a horrible line exactly. I don't have anything to follow it up with though. I don't know if anything good could even come from trying to follow it up. As of right now I'm not going to try. I'm just going to throw that one line into the "blogosphere" and let it go.

A Gilmore-ism

Emily: All right, fine. Sweetie's father was a very poor man, so poor that Sweetie and her four siblings all had to sleep in a hollowed-out tree trunk because the house was only big enough for their parents. One winter, there was no food, so Sweetie crawled out of her trunk, wrapped her feet in newspaper, and walked forty miles in the snow to the nearest town, where she stumbled into a candy store. The owner took pity on her and gave her bags of candy, a dill pickle, and drove her back to her family. He promptly offered a job to her father, who gladly accepted and eventually owned that store and turned it into one of the most important candy emporiums in the world. And that is how she got the name Sweetie. There, how was that?
Lorelai: Now, that was a pretty good story.
-Gilmore Girls (Episode 4.16: The Reigning Lorelai)

On Love #8 and On Happiness #18

"'I do suspect that he is not really necessary to my happiness.  So much the better.  I certainly will not persuade myself to feel more than I do.  I am quite enough in love.  I should be sorry to be more.'" -Jane Austen, Emma

On Happiness #17

"How could any one in the world be happy when we were so unhappy?" -L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

Dreams and Dreaming #3

"'He has the face of a dreamer, but of a dreamer who's dreaming at great speed.  A dreamer whose dreams are far out ahead of our dreams.  And that scares me.  Do you understand?'" -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

Before 'Inception'

"Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep - while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?" -Edgar Allan Poe, "A Dream Within a Dream"

On Love #7

"'If I gave you my life, you would drop it.  Wouldn't you?'
I didn't say anything." -Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient


"And yet your shadow isn't following you anymore. At some point your shadow has quietly slipped away. You pretend you don't notice, but you have, you're missing your fucking shadow, though there are plenty of ways to explain it, the angle of the sun, the degree of oblivion induced by the sun beating down on hatless heads, the quantity of alcohol ingested, the movement of something like subterranean tanks of pain, the fear of more contingent things, a disease that begins to become apparent, wounded vanity, the desire just for once in your life to be on time. But the point is, your shadow is lost and you, momentarily, forget it. -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"'Fancies are like shadows…you can't cage them, they're such wayward, dancing things.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

"The wind swayed the trees and the shadows danced madly. Were they only shadows–?" -L.M. Montgomery, Magic for Marigold

"In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows." -Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

Forms of Pain

"'It's so beautiful that it hurts me,' said Anne softly. 'Perfect things like that always did hurt me – I remember I called it "the queer ache" when I was a child. What is the reason that pain like this seems inseparable from perfection? Is it the pain of finality – when we realise that there can be nothing beyond but retrogression?'
'Perhaps,' said Owen dreamily, 'it is the prisoned infinite in us calling out to its kindred infinite as expressed in that visible perfection.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

"'I wouldn't mind that if it didn't hurt,' muttered Walter. 'I don't think I'm afraid of death itself – it's of the pain that might come before death – it wouldn't be so had to die and have it over – but to keep on dying! Rilla, I've always been afraid of pain – you know that. I can't help it – I shudder when I think of the possibility of being mangled or – or blinded.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Rilla of Ingleside

"Oh, there was a certain pleasure. And don't ever underestimate people, don't ever underestimate the pleasure they receive from viewing pain that is not their own, from delivering bad news, watching bombs fall on television, from listening to stifling sobs from the other end of the telephone line. Pain by itself is just Pain. But Pain + Distance can = entertainment, voyeurism, human interest, cinéma vérité, a good belly chuckle, a sympathetic smile, a raised eyebrow, disguised contempt." -Zadie Smith, White Teeth

"…This is the Hour of Lead–
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow–
First–Chill–then Stupor–then the letting go–" -Emily Dickinson, "After great pain, a                                                                                                         formal feeling comes"

"Pain – has an Element of Blank –
It cannot recollet
When it begun – or if there were
A time when it was not –

It has no Future – but itself –
It's Infinite contain
It's Past – enlightened to perceive
New Periods – of Pain." -Emily Dickinson, "Pain has an element of blank"

Henry: Life is pain.

On Love #5

"…she knew that love, no matter how mistreated or mutilated, always left room for hope, and that hope was her plan (or the other way around)…" -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

On Friendship #7

"Madness really is contagious, and friends are a blessing, especially when you're on your own."-Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

Dreams and Dreaming #2

"Dreams do sound so foolish when they are put into cold brutal words." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

"My Dead Friends Come Back"

Random Musing
I've briefly written about Michael Dickman before.  "We Do Move On" was the imitation of his writing style that I wrote for my English 324 class last semester. Well, I realized, after some failed googling (I know, shocking concept) that it's very difficult, if not impossible to find a full copy of a particular poem of his: "My Dead Friends Come Back."

In my opinion, it's a great poem. My favorite of all his work. When you first read it, you might not understand exactly why I think it's so good. It might come off as convoluted, with no clear message, and as just another run of the mill contemporary poem. I believe that was my initial reaction to it anyways. After some time though, lines from the poem started running through my head. So I had to go back to the poem and reread it. And so slowly, I started to really like it. At this point, I even have the poem memorized.

Anyways, I thought I'd provide you all with a full copy of the poem. Since you're unlikely to go out and buy a copy of The End of the West, and I really think you should read it.

"My Dead Friends Come Back" by Michael Dickman

If you want to
come back, just you
I say it's fine

From the flattened universe
From His side
of the bed

Shave my head and put me in the ground with you surrounded by

Trillium or
something else

Shit and violets


If you want to
come back, just you
I say it's fine

From endless singing
From the icy branches
of evergreens

I want to trade you sunlight for starlight, or star for star, the night sky
             disappearing for
             coffee in the morning

What I want

I want to fuck you again
on the living-room


If you want to
come back, just you
I say it's fine

From your hijacked brain

From your skeleton
sparkling like change
on a countertop

Your life as light is just beginning in the cosmos, but you can come
             back if you want to

What a terrible place this is

Limping around
not in each other's arms
not like light
at all

Looks Like Snow

"'I like rain when it has turned to snow and becomes palpable.'" -Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Lorelai: Everything's magical when it snows…
-Gilmore Girls (Episode 1.08: Love and Snow and War)

Lorelai: The world changes when it snows. It gets quiet. Everything softens.
-Gilmore Girls (Episode 1.08: Love and Snow and War)


On Happiness #16

"'How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?'" -Jane Austen, Emma

On Love #4

"'Matthew,' she said, 'have you ever loved someone and it became yourself?'
For a moment he did not answer.  Taking up the decanter he held it to the light.
'Robin can go anywhere, do anything,' Nora continued, 'because she forgets, and I nowhere because I remember.'  She came toward him.  'Matthew,' she said, 'you think I have always been like this.  Once I was remorseless, but this is another love – it goes everywhere; there is no place for it to stop – it rots me away.'" -Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

Dreams and Dreaming #1

"'Nobody is ever too old to dream. And dreams never grow old.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne Shirley-ism #3

"'It's about Diana,' sobbed Anne luxuriously. 'I love Diana so, Marilla. I cannot ever live without her. But I know very well when we grow up that Diana will get married and go away and leave me. And oh, what shall I do? I hate her husband – I just hate him furiously. I've been imagining it all out – the wedding and everything – Diana dressed in snowy white garments, and a veil, and looking as beautiful and regal as a queen; and me the bridesmaid, with a lovely dress, too, and puffed sleeves, but with a breaking heart hid beneath my smiling face. And then bidding Diana good-bye-e-e–' Here Anne broke down entirely and wept with increasing bitterness.
Marilla turned quickly away to hide her twitching face, but it was no use; she collapsed on the nearest chair and burst into such a hearty and unusual peal of laughter…" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

On Love #3

"You were never poor as long as you had something to love." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

Random Musing
This is unbelievably cheesy. I am aware of this. And yet I posted it. It fits with the whole "On Love" theme. Please don't judge.

On Friendship #6

"They were like two old friends who don't need to say much to each other." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

On Words #7

"One word is sufficient. But if one cannot find it?" -Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

On Solitude

"She had dreamed some brilliant dreams during the past winter and now they lay in the dust around her. In her present mood of self-disgust, she could not immediately begin dreaming again. And she discovered that, while solitude with dreams is glorious, solitude without them has few charms." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

"The more she thought about it, the more Madeleine understood that extreme solitude didn’t only describe the way she was feeling about Leonard. It explained how she’d always felt when she was in love. It explained what love was like and, just maybe, what was wrong with it." -Jeffrey Eugenides, "Extreme Solitude"

"D'Arnot closed the door.  He was very nervous.  Even brave men, and D'Arnot was a brave man, are sometimes frightened by solitude." -Edward Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

On Happiness #15

"'You must be the best judge of your own happiness.'" -Jane Austen, Emma

On Friendship #5

"For disguise the fact as we will, when friends, even the closest – perhaps the more because of that very closeness – meet again after a separation there is always a chill, lesser or greater, of change. Neither find the other quite the same. This is natural and inevitable. Human nature is ever growing or retrogressing – never stationary. But still, with all our philosophy, who of us can repress a little feeling of bewildered disappointment when we realize that our friend is not and never can be just the same as before – even though the change may be by way of improvement?" -L.M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

On Love #2

"…could not have understood what perverted shaped thwarted love can take." -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne Shirley-ism #2

"'Mrs. Spencer said that my tongue must be hung in the middle. But it isn't – it's firmly fastened at one end.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

On Love #1

"'…I think,' concluded Anne, hitting on a very vital truth, 'that we always love best the people who need us.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

On Words #6

"'We all feel those things. They're not ridiculous when we feel them. It's only when we put them into words that they're ridiculous.'" -L.M. Montgomery, A Tangled Web

Dead Hearts

Random Musing
I've recently become a big Stars fan. I first heard "Take Me to the Riot" a couple of years ago via a friend's school radio program. I really loved the song, but for whatever reason didn't end up looking into other Stars' songs until much later. Like say the last couple of weeks. The newest song of theirs that I've been playing on repeat is "Dead Hearts". Give it a listen. Hopefully you like it.

The Sound of Silence

"The silence depressed me.  It wasn't the silence of silence.  It was my own silence.” -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

"The silence drew off, baring the pebbles and shells and all the tatty wreckage of my life. Then, at the rim of vision, it gathered itself, and in one sweeping tide, rushed me to sleep." -Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

"Her silence wasn't unpleasant, nor did it imply resentment or sadness. It was transparent, not dense. It took up almost no space. A person could even get used to a silence like this, thought Espinoza, and be happy. But he would never get used to it, he knew that too." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

"…Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, 'Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, 'Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more…" -Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven"

Richard: Oh Mrs. Dalloway, always throwing parties to cover the silence.
-The Hours

Random Musing
Can't have a post titled 'The Sound of Silence' without a link to the Simon & Garfunkel song. Also, if you haven't yet, go watch The Graduate. Really great movie.

Anne Shirley-ism #1

"'Oh, here we are at the bridge. I'm going to shut my eyes tight. I’m always afraid going over bridges. I can't help imagining that perhaps, just as we get to the middle, they'll crumple up like a jackknife and nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open them for all when I think we're getting near the middle. Because, you see, if the bridge did crumple up I'd want to see it crumple. What a jolly rumble it makes! I always like the rumble part of it. Isn't it splendid there are so many things to like in this world? There, we're over. Now I'll look back. Good night, dear Lake of Shining Waters. I always say good night to the things I love, just as I would to people. I think they like it. That water looks as if it was smiling at me.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

On Happiness #14

"…I realized my happiness was artificial. I felt happy because I saw the others were happy and because I knew I should feel happy, but I wasn't really happy." -Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Natasha Wimmer), 2666

On Friendship #3

Random Musing
"'Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.  It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.'" -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

*Credit has to go to Mark Rudolf for pulling this particular quote from the novel. For some mysterious reason I hadn't written it down myself. Hmm, maybe it was just too optimistic...

Pudge the Fish

Random Musing
This needs no explanation.

Also, note that today is Sandwich Day.

Never Let Me Go

Random Musing
In the past I have become very excited about the upcoming release of certain films. The Painted Veil, Atonement, and Nine were all such movies. The first two pretty much satisfied all of my (ridiculously) high expectations, while the third was a major disappointment. I'm hoping that the upcoming film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go follows The Painted Veil/Atonement path.

I haven't read the novel yet, but am anxiously waiting for one of the libraries (both public and university) to have an available copy. This whole situation is actually very reminiscent of a few summers ago when I found out that Joe Wright was adapting Atonement and Keira Knightley was going to star in it. I read the novel and then waited for the movie to finally come to a theater nearby. And now, while Joe Wright isn't involved, here is yet another Knightley film. Hopefully it turns out to be amazing. And comes to the Michigan Theater when it's released.

From 'The Hours'

Richard: Oh Mrs. Dalloway, always throwing parties to cover the silence.
-The Hours

Richard: No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less.
-The Hours

Richard: I'm saying I think I'm only staying alive to satisfy you.
Clarissa: Well, so that is what we do. That is what people do. They stay alive for each other.
-The Hours

Angelica: What happens when we die?
Virginia: We return to the place that we came from.
-The Hours

Clarissa Vaughan: So this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And, of course, there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning: it was happiness, it was the moment…
-The Hours

Richard: I seem to have fallen out of time.
-The Hours

Virginia: Dear Leonard. To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us, always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.
-The Hours

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