Friday, 2 October 2009

7 Quick Takes (XII)

1. I managed, through what I think of as a terribly faulty keyboard effect, to delete my post. I am quite unhappy about this. I do not think that pressing a scroll key while your text is highlighted should delete it. That makes no sense. My entry #1 was quite long and I thought it was good, but now it's all gone. OK, re-try. Remember Buddhist sand pictures.

2. I may have previously made similar claims, but now it's more valid: It is autumn. I was going to go on about how much I love autumn, but Yolanda beat me to it. And not only did she beat me to it, but she also gets to experience seasonal changes in Burundi, not Fort McMurray. And despite the cold--which is bothering me far too much already for this coming winter to be healthy--I still love fall. I love the 'autumn'; those vowels and that silent 'n' just fascinate me, and the 'au' is the 'holy vowel' found in amen, salaam, and certain versions of ohm. What a euphonic sound. But of course the word is only the smallest fraction of it. The season itself is wonderful. In Ontario, autumn means sprawling pumpkin vines and chilly mornings and the beans turning scarlet or burgundy and the cornstalks whispering in their dry voices. In Fort McMurray, we don't have either of the latter two or much of the former two, but we do have many of the other trappings associated with this time of year: honking Vs of geese, chameleon trees, toadstools turning to black mush, frost on the grass. What is new is the degree to which I see these characteristics. Mainly, we are surrounded by hills here, especially in the downtown region. There are two banks of hills visible from my workplace, one in the north-north-west, roughly, and one in the south-south-west to south-south-east. These are tree-covered hills, so the colour change is very noticeable this time of year.
This morning was very foggy and frosty, both of which took a long time to burn off. I would like to be able to use the word "rime," but that requires salt water. Oh, well. Someday I will.

3. One of my co-workers claims to have seen a ghost in the Park. The facts of the case are thus: she was locking up one of our buildings, when she noticed a grey, glowing, robed figure go up the stairs. In this particular building, the stairs are blocked by a large display case (which was still in place), and then the landing is crowded with chipped, saintly statuary. Getting onto the stairs is all but impossible without moving at least the display case, and difficult without also moving the statues. Now, this co-worker has not believed any of the ghost stories told about our Park so far. The long-term staff does, and apparently doesn't share many of these claims with summer staff. I had heard a fair amount about George, our resident poltergeist, but I did not hear everything. Summer staff hear only about doors opening and closing and lights turning on and off. They do not hear about George's more, uh, destructive tendencies.
Anyway, the staff member who saw whatever it was does believe in the supernatural, but not in the stories about our Park. So this was an unlikely thing to hear from her. Also, I haven't heard anyone claim to have seen an apparition at the Park before. I've heard second-hand accounts of such things, but not first-hand.
All of which, I think, is very interesting. We'll see what the winter will bring. I have heard that the winter months are more active, supernaturally speaking.
The staff member does not seem worried or unnerved by whatever it is that she saw.

4. Our dear old dog is still dear, old, and more active than her body can handle. Case in point: as I was trying to type the previous entry, she was trying to beg a cookie out of me. Begging, that is, in the sense of a child tugging at a parent's clothes and jumping up and down and squealing until they buy the toy the kid wants. What our dear old dog was doing was this: prancing and breathing excitedly and putting her paw up on the arm of my chair and putting her nose into my stomach and on my arm while writhing her head around with a good deal of force. She wasn't quite using her nose to flip my hands off the keyboards--a trick she'll try on Mom pretty much daily--but she was close to it. Crazy dog. Now she'll off in the laundry room, cooling herself on the cement floor. As though it's not already cold in here. Crazy dog.

5. I am getting near the end of Anatomy of Criticism. I have discussed it already, so I'll leave it there. I am getting through Psalms, as ever. There is some seriously nice poetry in there. There's also a line that I kind of what to know the Hebrew for. The speakers wishes his enemies to be "consumed by wrath," and, in the context, there are three possible interpretations: 1) that God, wrathful, consumes them (ie. "God, in his anger/wrath, destroys the bad guys"); 2) that God consumes them with a physical manifestation of his anger (ie. "God manifests his wrath as fire and burns them"); and, my favourite, 3) they are consumed by their own wrath (ie. "they are wholly encompassed in their anger towards Israel, and their anger burns/devours/destroys them"). I want the Hebrew so I can tell if the last one is a valid translation. I like this idea: may your punishment for hating me be the hatred itself. The Dali Lama spoke of holding onto anger being like holding onto a hot coal: it hurts you before it hurts anyone else.

6. Through a Facebook conversation, I have been informed that deadlines for grant applications are creepy ever closer. As a result, last night I had a crisis about my future. See, in order to apply for a grant, you have to have tell them what, actually, you plan on researching. I had no idea whatsoever, and began to worry, in the sort of, "I have to decide my life in the next three days," "I am doomed to a life of misery," way. After a good hour of fretting and half-hearted, anxious, not-really-listening prayer (while washing the dishes), I brought it up with my Mom and we talked it over and she reminded me that I don't actually have to decide now which program I will go into (English Literature, Cultural Studies, Creative Writing), because I can actually apply for all three programs at different schools. So all I need to do now is find out which to tell OGS I am planning on doing (I'll have to call them about that), and try to figure out a thesis for each.
That last of which would not be easy, except in the shower last night I actually had a cluster-epiphany and came quite close to getting at least a direction after all. It's likely too scattered as it stands, but I can refine. The important thing is that I have a starting point. Briefly, without giving away too many ideas, I want to look at how a selection of texts deal with who we experience multiple identities within ourself or others, keeping a very close eye on the genre, media, and other formal considerations. I literally wrote down a few pages of possible sources and directions. The beautiful thing is, I can take this same list and refine it to be an English thesis or refine it to be a Culture Studies thesis. Whichever program I wind up taking (of those two, at any rate), I can still do the same basic thing. Possible texts include Sidney's sonnets, Donne's sonnets and other poems, Shakespeare's As You Like It (and, just possibly, 1 Henry IV), DC comics featuring Triplicate Girl (if I did this, though, I would actually have to start reading some comic books, something I really don't do, notwithstanding my general knowledge of superheroes), the computer game Half-Life 2, and The Real Inspector Hound (which is Theatre of the Absurd). Critical or 'source' literature I could draw on include Al Berger's Ways of Seeing, the works of Plato, of Freud, of Bakhtin, maybe of Foucault (esp. on hermaphrodism), the Pauline Epistles and assorted Christian theologians, and ... well, I think I'll keep the others a secret. Those ones are pretty common and expected in literary analysis, but I think I have a few ideas which are less predictable.
Oh, and this seems to be a rather arbitrary 'cap' to a lot of this disparate things I wrote on in my classes. Looking back, I seem to have focused on things like multiplicity or diversity or ambiguous/dual people. These all come into play here.
In the end, what this all means is that I have a fair amount of researching and filling in of applications to do in the immediate future, but also that I'm happier about where I'm going in the future thanks to a bit of distress on the same topic.

7. The folks at St. Thomas' tried to lassoo me into being part of the worship team. I tried to explain that I am not musically talented in the least. They asked if I could shake a ... one of those bean-filled shakie things. You know the ones. I suppose what they don't understand is that I can't even match clapping to a beat. My timing is awful. I remember on Rock Band I was failing horribly at a particular section: Jon and Phil pointed out that it was simply double the previous beat I seemed fine at, and I tried (and, I think, failed) to explain that doesn't help me at all because things like 'twice as fast' do not compute into anything workable in my brain. It's like dyslexia: it's impossible to discursively explain how I invert numbers. I just do. That part of my brain is broken. Same here. I played piano once upon a time, and I was quite mediocre. I can punch it out by rote, but I have little 'sense' of it. I don't clap during worship songs in which everyone else claps because I can't ever seem to clap at the same time as them. If you ever see me clapping on the back-beat, you can be sure it's not intentional.
Regardless, I now know the names of David, Laurie, and Kim, and they seem like nice people. Also, I will surely be asked to participate in worship service again soon. I do want to get involved somehow. Personally, I want to wear an alb. They likely won't offer that, though. Perhaps something I can do will come along, though. Music-related things are not among them.

Make sure you visit the Quick Takes Queen.

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