Saturday, August 29, 2009

A note from my library cubicle...

One of my own cultural myths about Seattle residents was destroyed today while I was eating alone in a Subway in Bellevue. I had thought that Seattle-ites were aloof, though not exactly unfriendly, maintaining a very secure distance from one another. While eating I practiced the necessary avoid-eye-contact maneuvers with the men in the other tables. I stared at the window ads. I tried to read the coupons through the back of my sandwich wrapper. I routinely checked my cell phone every minute. Suddenly I heard a very distinct click-freeze sound from the table across from me. I realized that the man at the next table was not playing the avoidance game- while pretending to looking at his i-phone he was actually taking pictures! I stood up so hastily that I dropped my bag in a cascade of vinegar chips, and he lowered his phone and looked away. Now I know how those college male swimmers felt when my high school friends and I tried to sneak speedo pictures. Except at least they were ridiculously ripped, tanned, and mostly naked. I was eating a giant subway and squinting at the paper wrapping.   


In writing my thesis, I've discovered something about my use of commas. I use commas almost as if I were speaking. And I prefer it that way. I've been a little concerned about this, until I came across some passages in one of Anne Enright's books. Then I remembered, creative writers can use commas whenever they want, and no one comments. Therein lies my hope for future writing.  

Monday, August 24, 2009

Literary Distractions

During my final two weeks of dissertation writing, I've consoled my frazzled self with Anne Tyler's The Clock Winder and Beverly Clearly's Ramona the Brave and Ramona Quimby Age 8. There's nothing better than a good book-inspired LOL. And this time through, I realized that certain blogger friends of mine frequently sound just like Ramona. 

'Cleaning up her room seemed such a boring thing to do, no fun at all on a rainy afternoon. She thought vaguely of all the exciting things she would like to do--learn to twirl a lariat, play a musical saw, flip around and over bars in a gymnastic competition while crowds cheered'.

Nine days of academia left and them I'm off into the great unknown. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

What are you like?

Today's dose of pool water has made my short hair feathery. If only it were the 90s it could pass for styling. 

It rained in Seattle for only the second time since June. 

Last week I ate quesadillas five times in six meals, not counting breakfast. Wouldn't mind another one. 

Zach shaved his head again. I felt like crying. 

PBS no longer plays Arthur at 10:00 and 4:00, or any time. Michael Jackson is dead. I feel like an adult.  

I have more books out at university than public libraries. I need to resort my priorities. 

I severed ties with Amazon and am devoted to Shipping duration may weaken my resolve.

I know how to run a youth hostel, to tell strangers where to sleep and what to clean, sweep, wash. It's a better life than most. 

I crave almond paste. Preferably in a croissant, but straight up would also do the trick. 

I fantasize about living under Lake Crescent. Or at least being the designated scuba-explorer. Ever since I unearthed a brown beer bottle that was filled with rocks and sand. Actually, I felt like the kid from ET.   

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Backward Glances

I'm reading two books right now, while I'm supposed to be finishing a near 50 page dissertation. Both leave me ridiculously nostalgic for the British Isles. The first is Anne Enright's novel What Are You Like set in Dublin and New York in the 1960s and 1980s. I chose it because I loved The Gathering. Her writing is superb. I spent some interesting time in Ireland, watched some Irish tv dramas, shared cigarettes with some street urchins, and spoke to some Irish academics. As a result, I know next to nothing about the place but feel romantic towards it. 

The second book is a collection of stories by my favorite Canadian writer Alice Munro. I picked this book because I am thinking ahead to our pending move to Canada, because Munro is unparalleled, and because I wanted something firmly set in the present and in North America. Well The View From Castle Rock is a narrated history of Munro's Scottish Calvinist family from the about 1799 onward. I spent a lot of time wandering through rural and small-town Scotland, wrote a paper on Scottish Calvinism, and have just learned that my grandmother's family shared an occupation and a town with Munro's ancestors. Both were cattle thieves just north of the border with England. My family members were notorious; eleven of them prosecuted on the same day. Munro's more lucky and apparently more literary.