Monday, January 26, 2009

Travelers' itch or foot fungus?

Since our heavy round of traveling through Europe and the UK, I've frankly been keen on staying in and resting the soles of my feet and the strings of my metaphorical purse (debit card). I'm still determined to stay on the ground for a few months but we can't help considering our modes and destinations of future travel for, as we are daily reminded by would-be-renters viewing our apartment, this year abroad is extremely short and has over a third passed. As far as short term trips go, we're planning a visit to ACU house in Oxford at the end of February. One of our favorite former professors is teaching there this semester and has kindly offered us a room, a tour, and welcome conversation. I confess I am so eagerly looking forward to a familiar face and Texas accents. 

A more imposing trip is in Zach's future. He's flying to Seattle in May. From there he'll conduct social research in one or two cities in the region, probably Coeur d'Alene. He has four weeks in which to do the groundwork for his dissertation, visit his family, perhaps head down to LA to see Kurtis, before returning to Leeds to write. 

I for one plan to take the opportunity to have a European spring fling but since I will inevitably be frantically finishing overdue papers and dissertation drafts, I shall have to find a European fictional character with which to carry on in the romantic poetry section of the Brotherton library.  

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sleepless in Polynesia

I'm taking a class this semester that spans one-hundred and fifty years of South Pacific writing. The first text is Melville's Typee. Reading this sickly romantic book I've come to the realization that my vocabulary books in high school, specifically 10th and 11th grade, were based upon 19th century American novelists' vocabulary. Words like 'perfidious', 'sonorous', 'blithe' and 'profusion'. It's odd to come across those old words that I once used so awkwardly and energetically in my writing at the time. 

Zach and I are notoriously sleepers-in. But we've come up with a plan. During the month of February, our goal is to rise by-- I'll be honest-- ten five out of seven mornings per week. In March by nine. April by eight. That's where I draw the line, but Zach is ambitious, believing that summer's long hours in the north will enable him to work dawn to dusk. 
What am I doing up at 3 am in light of our plan and the momentous dawning of my own new year? Good question.  

How they pile

Why is it that separating and piling my books takes up so much of my time and accomplishes so little? Wouldn't I feel better if I checked them out one by one and actually read them?  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My new year

I missed the inaugural address but it came to me in a Halal fast food joint across the street from Uni. My friend Amber and I were discussing the brutality of Tudor and Stuart punishments when the new class president Barack Obama's voice came over the speakerphone in homeroom. 

But seriously, I was thinking about it as I walked home. I'm joyous, if for nothing else, for the fact that African-Americans today are saying, 'America is my country for the first time.' I think that counts for something. 

Tomorrow is also my birthday, which means that I have another reason to re-begin my new year today.    

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'll have none of that.

Early this morning I woke up with the most severe case of vertigo and nausea I have ever experienced. 
I broke out into a cold sweat and found that I couldn't stand to lie down. On my back I was overcome by nausea, on my sides by vertigo. Like any internet-informed person, I took my case to the world wide web. The most common cause of those symptoms occurring while one is lying down is an ear complication called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It is often onset by movements of the head and creates horrible sensations of out-of-control spinning that can cause vomiting and dry heaves. While this pretty much described my night, I was horrified to read about the current treatment practices. Since the symptoms seem to be caused by loose particles touching sensitive parts of the inner ear, the treatment involves someone rapidly moving your head and body from side to side positions in order to dislodge the offending particle. Frankly this sounds like treating motion sickness with a roller coaster.  

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dancer in the Dark

Time to resume my existential gaze. It is 4:30 am and I am up because of the resounding power of the film Dancer in the Dark and because I have just tonight discovered Philip Larkin and John Donne. You can imagine how my awareness of the levels of existential angst has sky rocketed this evening/morning. 

After crying my eyes raw for literally an hour I turned to Donne's profoundly moving, oddly comforting metaphysical poetry. I, postcolonialist, 21st centuryist, want much more Donne in my life. I don't need to explain how Philip Larkin fits into the triangle of inevitable death, resurrection, and art. Unfortunately, in my post-llorarial high, I believed it would be a transcendent experience to stay up until sunrise in order to fully experience Larkin's 'Aubade'. 

I promise myself a more normal, less neurotic post next time.   

Existential Smiles

I logged onto blogger in order to jot down a little bit of general angst. But I first came across Richard Beck's latest post and it 'postponed' my existential contribution. The post is about detecting fake smiles or grins and consciously exercising the oculi muscles in order to create more welcoming encounters. 

So I'm sitting in the refectory on the lookout for eye smiles. There is a man in a button-up orange shirt sitting at the table next to me who I am convinced is from Texas or Tennessee.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January cleaning

Over the past few days I performed a few mental cleaning tasks. I stacked my ragtag pages of my handwritten notes, pushed them into notebooks, and stuffed them into my desk drawers. Out of sight, out of mind. I returned the last straggling library books and enjoyed watching my library debt diminish line by line. And most importantly, I stapled the clean pages of my papers and handed them over forever to the English department head. And I signed them away so that my intellectual products belong to the University of Leeds. With that I closed the door on semester 1. 

I promise not to write about school or anything postcolonial for the next three weeks.  As proof, my next read is a mystery novel called Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Absurd Trajectories

I came across this statement last night in World Memory: Personal Trajectories in Global Time and had to laugh...  

'In some cases, texts are being selected for study on the basis of how well they illustrate theories of trauma and memory, rather than because they provide fresh insights into an international range of catastrophes and traumatic events.'

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Paper of Mythic Proportions

I'm breaking for a short exclamation of my joy at finishing essay number one. 24 hours of class, six weeks of contemplating paper topics, a notebook of quotations, £.5.60 in library fines, 45 pages of excess printing, 500 cups of coffee, 2000 digestives, and five hemp bracelets have been condensed into 3993 words including footnotes.   

One more to go by Monday and I'm getting a massage. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the Global cafe

In the last week I have taken taken four regular trains, one over-night triple-bunker train, one over-night ferry, an airplane, two taxis, and countless rides on the Prague and London metro systems. We spent one night in an airport, two nights traveling across Germany and through the sea, one day in the Amsterdam public library (bibliotec-extraordinaire) , and one day in a tiny Camden branch of the London public library aka social services, which is juxtaposed against the massive British library just across the street. And now I sit in my very own Leeds Uni library, still attempting to finish the coursework that has followed me around Europe like a cold.

Happy New Year!