16 December 2010

The Nutcracker -- pas de deux

The best Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker that I have ever seen. San Francisco Ballet -- 2007. It's worth to watch just for the lift a little after 3:00. How she lands on his shoulder like that I will never know.

15 December 2010

Baryshnikov -- Sinatra

Baryshnikov at his best. So glad someone finally uploaded this on Youtube.

10 November 2010

Jane Eyre 2011 trailer

Yup, they've made another adaptation of Jane Eyre. Why, I'm not sure. But I'm excited.

Jane Eyre 2011

25 September 2010

Charlotte Bronte letters (1853 - 55): "Dangerous as lucifer matches"

A. B. NICHOLLS, PART 2. See previous blog for Part 1.



ENGAGEMENT AND MARRIAGE


Charlotte Bronte wrote to and received letters from A. B. Nicholls upon his exit from Haworth for a new parish. None of these letters exist. She also visited him amongst mixed company. Charlotte finally accepted his proposal of marriage, against the initial wishes of her father and her best friend Ellen Nussey.

The REVD. PATRICK BRONTE to CHARLOTTE BRONTE, January 1853, fragment

I wish him [Nicholls] no ill -- but rather good, and wish that every woman may avoid him, forever, unless she should be determined on her own misery -- All the produce of the Australian ?Diggins would 'not' make him and any wife he might have, happy. (106)

MARY TAYLOR to ELLEN NUSSEY, 24 February to 3 March 1854

You talk wonderful nonsense abt C. Bronte in yr letter. What do you mean about "bearing her position so long, & enduring to the end"? & still better -- "bearing our lot whatever it is". If it's C's lot to be married shd n't she bear that too? or does your strange morality mean that she shd refuse to ameliorate her lot when it lies in her power. how wd. she be inconsistent with herself in marrying? Because she considers her own pleasure? If this is so new for her to do, it is high time she began to make it more common. It is an outrageous exaction to expect her to give up her choice in a manner so important, & I think her to blame in having been hitherto so yielding that her friends can think of making such an impudent demand. (228)


Charlotte was not in love with Nicholls when she accepted his proposal. It seems likely that her acceptance was merely to ensure security for her father. Nicholls promised Charlotte that he would take care of her father if she died before her father.

to ELLEN NUSSEY, 11 April 1854

For Myself -- dear Ellen -- while thankful to One who seems to have guided me through much difficulty, much and deep distress and perplexity of mind -- I am still very calm -- very -- inexpectant. What I taste of happiness is of the soberest order. I trust to love my husband -- I am grateful for his tender love to me -- I believe him to be an affectionate -- a conscientious -- a high-principled man -- and if with all this, I should yield to regrets -- that fine talents, congenial 'tastes' and thoughts are not added -- it seems to me I should be most presumptuous and thankless.

Providence offers me this destiny. Doubtless then it is best for me -- Nor do I shrink from wishing those dear to me one not less happy. (240)


This sober view of her coming marriage is not what one would expect from the author of such passionate and willful characters.

to MRS. GASKELL, 26 April 1854

I know that when once married I shall often have to hold my tongue on topics which heretofore have rarely failed to set that unruly member in tolerably facile motion. (252)

to MRS. ANN CLAPHAM, {?28 December 1854]

...there are some cases, as I need not remind you, where wives have just to put their own judgment on the shelf and do as they are bid. (313)

to MRS. GASKELL, 18 April 1854

My destiny will not be brilliant, certainly, but Mr Nicholls is conscientious, affectionate, pure in heart and life. He offers a most constant and tried attachment -- I am very grateful to him. (247)

CATHERINE WINKWORTH to EMMA SHAEN, 8 May 1854

If only he is not altogether far too narrow for her, one can fancy her much more really happy with such a man than with one who might have made her more in love, and I am sure she will be really good to him. But I guess the true love was Paul Emanuel [Charlotte's character in VILLETTE based off M. Heger] after all, and is dead; but I don't know, and don't think that Lily [Mrs. Gaskell] knows... (258)


Her father, Patrick Bronte, did not attend the wedding, although he was much more relaxed about his daughter marrying; her former teacher and friend Margaret Wooler gave her away.

to CATHERINE WOOLER [Margaret's sister], 18 July 1854

I believe my dear husband to be a good man, and trust I have done right in marrying him. I hope too I shall be enabled always to feel grateful for the kindness and affection he shews me. (278)

to ELLEN NUSSEY, 9 August [1854]

Dear Nell -- during the last 6 weeks -- the colour of my thoughts is a good deal changed: I know more of the realities of life than I once did. I think many false ideas are propagated -- perhaps unintentionally. I think those married women who indiscriminately urge their acquaintance to marry -- much to blame. For my part -- I can only say with deeper sincerity and fuller significance -- what I always said in theory -- Wait God's will. Indeed -- indeed Nell -- it is a solemn and strange and perilous thing for a woman to become a wife. (284)

to MARGARET WOOLER, 22 August 1854

I feel comforted to think that this marriage has secured Papa good aid in his old age. (287)

One of the villagers in proposing my husband's health described him as "a consistent Christian and a kind gentleman." I am disposed to echo that high but simple eulogium now. If I can do so with sincerity and conviction seven years -- or even a year hence -- I shall esteem myself a happy woman. Faultless my husband is not -- faultless no human being is; but as you well know -- I did not expect perfection. (286)

Marriage certainly makes a difference in some things and amongst others the disposition and consumption of time. I really seem to have had scarcely a spare moment since that dim quiet June Morning when you, E. Nussey and myself all walked down to Haworth church --. Not that I have been hurried or oppressed -- but the fact is my time is not my own now; Somebody else wants a good portion of it -- and says we must do so and so. We do "so and so" accordingly, and it generally seems the right thing -- only I sometimes wish that I could have written the letter as well as taken the walk. (286)




CENSORSHIP


Gaskell's religion did not coincide with A. B. Nicholls'

MRS. GASKELL to JOHN FORSTER, [23 April 1854] Extract

I mean that she [CB] would never have been happy but with an exacting, rigid, law-giving, passionate man -- only you see, I'm afraid one of his laws will be to shut us out, & so I am making a sort of selfish moan over it & have got out of temper I suppose with the very thing I have been wanting for her this six months past... (248)


to ELLEN NUSSEY, [?20 October 1854]

Arthur has just been glancing over this note -- He thinks I have written too freely about *Amelia &c. Men don't seem to understand making letters a vehicle of communication -- they always seem to think us incautious. I'm sure I don't think I have said anything rash -- however you must burn[three underlines] it when read. Arthur says such letters as mine never ought to be kept -- they are dangerous as lucifer matches -- so be sure to follow a recommendation he has just given "fire them" -= or "there will be no more." Such is his resolve. I can't help laughing -- this seems to me so funny, Arthur however says he is quite "serious and looks it, I assure you -- he is bending over the desk with his eyes full of concern. I am now desired "to have done with it--" so with his kind regards and mine -- Good-bye dear Ellen

Yours affectionately
CB: Nicholls (295)

to ELLEN NUSSEY, 31 October 1854

Dear Ellen -- Arthur complains that you do not distinctly promise to burn my letters as you receive them. He says you must give him a plain pledge to that effect -- or he will read every line I write and elect himself censor of our correspondence. (296)

He says women are more rash in letter-writing -- they think only of the trustworthiness of their immediate friend -- and do not look to contingencies -- a letter may fall into any hand. You must give the promise -- I believe -- at least he says so, with his best regards -- or else you will get such notes as he writes to Mr. *Sowden - plain, brief statements of facts without the adornment of a single flourish. (296-97)

ELLEN NUSSEY to A. B. NICHOLLS, [November 1854]

My dear Mr Nicholls

As you seem to hold in great horror the ardentia verba [burning words] of feminine epistles, I pledge myself to the destruction of Charlotte's 'epistles' henceforth, if You, pledge yourself to no censorship in the matter communicated

Yours very truly
E. Nussey (297)

to ELLEN NUSSEY, 7 November 1854

Arthur thanks you for the promise     He was out when I commenced this letter, but he is just come in -- on my asking him whether he would give the pledge required in return -- he says "yes we may now write any dangerous stuff we please to each other -- it is not "old friends" he mistrusts, but the chances of war -- the accidental passing of letters into hands and under eyes for which they were never written." (298)

Obviously, Ellen did not burn Charlotte's letters. Ellen was a pious lady and it is terribly surprising that she would lie in this instance, but we are eternally grateful that she did as we would know very little about Charlotte and her sisters if not for these letters. Over 300 exist. Ellen maintained that despite her avowal that she would burn the letters, Nicholls continued to censor Charlotte's letters for the short time she lived subsequent to this date.



DEATH


to ELLEN NUSSEY, 7 December 1854

If it just depended on me -- I should come -- but these matters are not quite in my power now -- another must be consulted - and where his wish and judgment have a decided bias to a particular course -- I make no stir, but just adopt it. Arthur is sorry to disappoint both you and me, but it is his fixed wish that a few weeks should be allowed yet to elapse before we meet -- Probably he is confirmed in this desire by my having a cold at present -- I did not achieve the walk to the waterfall with impunity -- yet I felt a chill afterwards, and the same night had sore throat and cold -- however I am better now -- but not 'quite' well. (306)


Many biographers believe that Charlotte died as a result of a complication from recent pregnancy. There is no scientific evidence to support that Charlotte was pregnant. Besides, one must keep in mind that Charlotte was very little at 4' 9" in height and skinny to the point that some have speculated that she was an anorexic, a view I do not hold. It was also only 8 months since her marriage and for a woman of her physique and age (39) it seems unlikely that she would have become pregnant so quickly. Instead, her death could have been a result of Tuberculosis (a common 19th century disease known at this time as Phthisis or Consumption, one that her sisters Emily and Anne succumbed to) for which it seems there is greater evidence. In the following letter Charlotte does not allow Ellen to suppose it is pregnancy that is causing her sickness:

to ELLEN NUSSEY, 19 February 1855

My health has been really very good ever since my return from Ireland till about ten days ago, when the stomach seemed quite suddenly to lose its tone -- indigestion and continual faint sickness have been my portion ever since. Don't conjecture -- dear Nell -- for it is too soon yet -- though I certainly never before felt as I have done lately. (319)


Below, Nicholls marks Charlotte's condition as an "illness". However, the doctor also states it will be of some duration but not dangerous which could suggest that he believes Charlotte may be pregnant.

A. B. NICHOLLS to ELLEN NUSSEY, 1 February 1855

Dr. Macturk saw Charlotte on Tuesday. His opinion was that her illness would be of some duration, -- but that there was no immediate danger -- I trust therefore that in a few weeks she will be well again -- (323)


A month and a half before her death, Nicholls maintains that the source for Charlotte's illness is still unknown.

A. B. NUSSEY to ELLEN NUSSEY, 14 February 1855

It is difficult to write to friends about my wife's illness, as its cause is yet uncertain -- at present she is completely prostrated with weakness & sickness & frequent fever -- All may turn out well in the end, & I hope it will; if you saw [her] you would perceive that she can maintain no correspondence at present -- (324-5)


At this time, Charlotte, perhaps fearing death, re-wrote her will allotting her husband full rights over her property. It is generally assumed that this was a result of Charlotte's growing love for Nicholls. I do wonder -- as no other biographer has speculated -- if in this instance Nicholls used his potent persuasive skills.

to AMELIA TAYLOR, nee RINGROSE [?late February 1855]

Let me speak the plain truth -- my sufferings are very great -- my nights indescribable -- sickness with scarce a reprieve -- I strain until what I vomit is mixed with blood. (327)

Vomiting or coughing up blood is a symptom of Consumption (Tuberculosis)


The day before Charlotte's death, her father writes to Ellen Nussey:

THE REVD PATRICK BRONTE to ELLEN NUSSEY, 30 March 1855

My dear Madam,

We are all in great trouble, and Mr. Nicholls so much so, that he is not so sufficiently strong, and composed as to be able to write --

I therefore devote a few moments, to tell you, that my Dear Daughter is very ill, and apparently on the verge of the grave --

If she could speak, she would no doubt dictate to us whilst answering your kind letter, but we are left to ourselves, to give what answer we can -- The Doctors have no hope of her case, and fondly as we a long time, cherished hope, that hope is now gone, and we [have] only to look forward to the solemn event, with prayer to God, that he will give us grace and Strength sufficient unto our day --

Will you be so kind as to write to Miss Wooler, and Mrs. Joe Taylor, and inform them that we requested you to do so -- telling them of our present condition

Ever truly and
respectfully Yours,

P. Bronte (329-330)


Ellen left that day to arrive at Haworth on 31 March after Charlotte's passing that morning. Charlotte's alleged last moments and words, as related by Mrs. Gaskell -- who was not present -- is: "Wakening for an instant from this stupor of intelligence, she saw her husband's woe-worn face, and caught the sound of some murmured words of prayer that God would spare her. "Oh!" she whispered forth, "I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us, we have been so happy."



-----
All grammatical errors are those of the authors' and not mine. All italicized words are mine.

The Letters of Charlotte Bronte, Volume III, Margaret Smith editor

09 September 2010

07 September 2010

Charlotte Bronte -- personality




to F. BENNOCH, 29 September 1853

I could not help smiling at what you say respecting your preconceived expectations of Currer Bell [Charlotte Bronte], anticipating in him or her a somewhat positive and overbearing personage. I am afraid my books must be at fault in a way of which I am totally unconscious, for you are by no means singular in your idea; on the contrary I find it shared by almost all strangers. However I cannot help it, and if others consent to look upon the defect as kindly as you do -- I fear I shall scarce trouble myself to regret it. (195)


Elizabeth Gaskell visited Charlotte at the home she shared with her last remaining relative, her father, in Haworth in 1853 and wrote about her visit to John Forster who was a good friend of Charles Dickens.


Mrs. Gaskell to John Forster, 1853

There are some people, whose stock of facts & anecdotes are soon exhausted; but Miss B. is none of these. She has the wild strange facts of her own & her sister's life, -- and beyond & above these she has more original & suggestive thoughts of her own; so that, like the moors, I felt on the last day as if our talk might be extended in any direction without getting to the end of any subject. (199)

Mrs. Gaskell to John Forster, 1853

Here & there from the high moorland summit we saw newly built Churches, -- which her Irish curates see after -- everyone of ?those being literal copies of different curates in the neighbourhood, whose amusement has been ever since to call each other by the names she gave them in Shirley. (198)


----
Margaret Smith ed. The Letters of Charlotte Bronte vol III

picture: bronte-country.com

04 September 2010

not about Charlotte Bronte

If you had asked me four years if I could ever imagine leaving London willingly I would have vehemently denied it. This is why I no longer trust my decisions -- why I do not hope but with caution.

It will be a week tomorrow that I have not been on my anti-anxiety pills. Doc seems to think that as my life has improved -- I have a job now -- and I am happier and more content than I have been since before I moved to London and came back to my parental habitat after failing grad school -- that I no longer need them. I quietly assented. I have been very dizzy all week. Doc says that I should feel physically different as I go off them. I hope I do not revert back to my former state of anger, unhappiness, and, worse than all, physical sickness.

I haven't written on here about myself in a long while. Have felt no desire to do so. My mental/physical condition improved while on the pills but they did rather sap my energy and emotions to the point where I didn't feel like doing much. I have been much more energetic since going off them.

However, I have been feeling a bit more disgruntled by certain situations than I feel like I would have had I been on the pills -- like the situation with the young woman who tried to convince me to take a 90 cent fine off her library card because she had returned the item on time, although her account said that she returned it three days later. I told her I wouldn't do that, but that she could use her card so long as she had less than $10.00 on her account. One of these days I am going to pull 90 cents out of my pocket and tell these people that I will pay the measly fine for them since they are disinclined to do so themselves.

Summer is practically over. Today it is 50 degrees, although the temperature will go up again this week, but it won't be long before it remains 50 degrees, and then for several weeks or months plummet to the 20's. I have ensured against depression at this sad fact by buying an expensive Calvin Klein coat.

I have this really nice guy in my life right now. I work with him. He makes me laugh and he is very kind to me. I have never known anyone so genuinely kind. I wish I had met someone like that in London. Maybe I would have worked harder on my graduate studies and not had such a manic desire to leave; and then maybe I would still be living there, and not in my parents house, and not taking the same bus I have taken since I first started working at a theatre downtown when I was 12; and maybe then I would know what I am doing with my life and feel like there was some sort of purpose for my existence.

31 August 2010

Charlotte Bronte Letters -- Misc.

to W. S. WILLIAMS, 23 March 1853

I had a letter the other day announcing that a lady of some note who had always determined that whenever she married, her elect should be the counterpart of Mr. Knightley in Miss Austen's "Emma" -- had now changed her mind and vowed that she would either find the duplicate of Professor Emanuel or remain forever single!!! (138)



CATHERINE WINKWORTH to EMILY SHAEN, 25 March [1853]

That's one thing I like in Miss Bronte, that her men are so much better than most women's men. (141)



to GEORGE SMITH, 26 March 1853

With regards to that momentous point -- M. Paul's fate -- in case any one in future should request to be enlightened thereon -- they may be told that it was designed that every reader should settle the catastrophe for himself, according to the quality of his disposition, the tender or remorseless impulse of his nature. 'drowning and Matrimony are the fearful alternatives' The Merciful...will of course choose the former and milder doom -- drown him to put him out of pain. The cruel-hearted will on the contrary pitilessly impale him on the second horn of the dilemma -- marrying him without ruth or compunction to that -- person -- that -- that -- individual -- "Lucy Snowe." (142)


to GEORGE SMITH, 26 March 1853

I deny, and must deny that Mr. Thackeray is very good or very amiable, but the Man is great. (143)



ELIZABETH GASKELL to LADY KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH, 7 April [1853]

The difference between Miss Bronte and me is that she puts all her naughtiness into her books, and I put all my goodness. I am sure she works off a great deal that is morbid into her writing, and out of her life; and my books are so far better than I am that I often feel ashamed of having written them and as if I were a hypocrite. (150)


ELIZABETH GASKELL to JOHN FORSTER, 3 May 1853

I like her more & (b) more. She is so true, she wins respect, deep respect, from the very first, -- and then comes hearty liking, -- and last of all comes love. I throughly loved her before she left, -- and I was so sorry for her! She has had so little kindness & affection shown to her. She said that she was afraid of loving me as much as she could, because she had never been able to inspire the kind of love she felt. (159).


----

The Letters of Charlotte Bronte, ed. Margaret Smith, Volume III

Charlotte Bronte letters -- A.B. NICHOLLS

A.B. NICHOLLS -- the man charlotte bronte would eventually marry.

to ELLEN NUSSEY about A.B. NICHOLLS, 4 March 1853

The fact is I shall be most thankful when he is well away -- I pity him -- but I don't like that dark gloom of his -- He dogged me up the lane after the evening service in no pleasant manner -- he stopped also in the passage after the Bishop and the other clergy were gone into the room -- and it was because I drew away and went upstairs that he gave that look which filled Martha's soul with horror She -- it seems -- meantime, was making it her business to watch him from the kitchen door -- If Mr. N----- be a good man at bottom -- it is a sad thing that Nature has not given him the faculty to put goodness into a more attractive form -- Into the bargain of all the rest he managed to get up a most pertinacious and needless dispute with the Inspector -- in listening to which all my old unfavourable impression revived so strongly -- I fear my countenance could not but shew them. (130)


to ELLEN NUSSEY, 27 May 1853

He left Haworth this morning at 6 o'clock. Yesterday evening he called to render into papa's hands the deeds of the National School -- and to say good-bye. They were busy cleaning -- washing the paint &c. in the dining-room so he did not find me there. I would not go into the parlour to speak to him in Papa's last moment -- I thought it best not -- But perceiving that he stayed long before going out at the gate -- and remembering his long grief I took courage and went out trembling and miserable. I found him leaning again[st] the garden-door in a paroxysm of anguish -- sobbing as women never sob. Of course I went straight to him. Very few words were interchanged -- those few barely articulate: several things I should have liked to ask him were swept entirely from my memory. Poor fellow! but he wanted such hope and such encouragement as I could not give him. Still I trust he must know now tha[t] I am not cruelly blind and indifferent to his constancy and grief. For a few weeks he goes to the south of England -- afterwards he takes a curacy somewhere in Yorkshire but I don't know where. (168-9)


...to be continued...


-----

The Letters of Charlotte Bronte, edited by Margaret Smith, volume III

22 August 2010

Helen

‎'The defect of your character, Helen, remember I tell you, is this -- inordinate desire to be loved, this impatience of not being loved...' -- HELEN, Maria Edgeworth

08 August 2010

frustration

I am feeling particularly anti-social right now. Sometimes I just really dislike people. Dislike consumes me: people's inane thoughts and words and lifestyles. There has to be better, doesn't there?

03 August 2010

charlotte -- george smith

page 74-5
To George Smith, 30 October 1852

My dear Sir
You must notify honestly what you think of "Villette" when you have read it. I can hardly tell you how much I hunger to have some opinion besides my own, and how I have sometimes desponded and almost despaired because there was no one to whom to read a line -- or of whom to ask a counsel. "Jane Eyre" was not written under such circumstances, nor were two-thirds of "Shirley". I got so miserable about it, I could bear no allusion to the book -- it is not finished yet, but now -- I hope.

As to the anonymous publication -- I have this to say. If the withholding of the author's name should tend materially to injure the publisher's interest -- to interfere with booksellers' orders &c. I would not press the point; but if no such detriment is contingent -- I should be most thankful for the sheltering shadow of an incognito. I seem to dread the advertisements -- the large lettered "Currer Bell's New Novel" or "New Work by the Author of 'Jane Eyre' ". These, however, I feel well enough are the transcendentalisms of a retired wretch -- and must not be intruded in the way of solid considerations; so you must speak frankly.

...

You will see that "Villette" touches on no matter of public interest. I cannot write books handling the topics of the day -- it is of no use trying. Nor can I write a book for its moral -- Nor can I take up a philanthropic scheme though I honour Philanthropy -- And voluntarily and sincerely veil my face before such a might subject as that handled in Mrs. beecher Stowe's work -- "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

To manage these great matters rightly they must be long and practically studied -- their bearings known intimately and their evils felt genuinely -- they must not be taken up as a business-matter and a trading-speculation. I doubt not Mrs. Stowe had felt the iron of slavery enter into her heart from childhood upwards long before she ever thought of writing books. The feeling rthroughout her work is sincere and not got up.

Remember to be an honest critic of "Villette" and tell Mr. Williams to be unsparing -- not that I am likely to alter anything -- but I want to know his impression and yours.

Believe me
Yours sincerely
C. Bronte

01 August 2010

beginning sentence of a novel

Years ago I fell in love with someone who was not in love with me, and I haven't been able to feel since.

26 July 2010

letters of charlotte bronte, volume three

31: You say, dear Nell -- that you often wish I would chat on paper as you do. How can I--? Where are my materials? -- is my life fertile in subjects of chat--? What callers do I see -- what visits do I pay? No -- you must chat and I must listen and say yes and no and thank you for five minutes recreation.

31 (to Ellen Nussey): I am amused at the interest you take in politics -- don't expect to rouse me -- to me all ministries and all oppositions seem to be pretty much alike. D'Israeli was factious as Leader of the Opposition -- Lord J[ohn] Russel[l] is going to be factious now that he has stepped into D'I's shoes -- Confound them all.

47 (to Elizabeth Gaskell): I read "Visiting at Cranford" with that sort of pleasure which seems always too brief in its duration: I wished the paper had been twice as long. Mr. Thackeray ought to take a series of articles such as these -- retire with them to his chamber, put himself to bed, and lie there -- till he had learnt by diligent study how to be satirical without being exquisitely bitter.

63 (to Ellen Nussey): Perhaps you think that I generally write with some reserve -- you ought to do the same. My reserve, however, has its foundation not in design; but in necessity -- I am silent because I have literally nothing to say. I might indeed repeat over and over again that my life is a pale blank and often a very weary 'burden' -- and that the Future sometimes appals me -- but what end could be answered by such repetition except to weary you and enervate myself?

27 June 2010

in truth

Sometimes the quiet, unassuming, tortured and intelligent young woman doesn't triumph.

26 June 2010

behind-the-scenes at the theatre

I don't think I've heard so many curse words (mostly beginning with "mother" and ending with....well, you can guess) as I did today at the theatre while sitting, solitary, inside the theatre, reading a book about the Brontes before patrons were due to arrive. The conversation was between a stage hand and the sound guy. They were commiserating about a particular member of their staff -- a musician -- who does not appreciate how loud one of the actors sings as it interferes with the sound of his particular instrument. The stage hand did not appreciate this and I was privy to a 20 minute berating of the guy while pretending to read my book. It is unnecessary for me to relate the exact words that were spoken as so many of them were of a coarse variety that there is not much substance to share. All in all, I was greatly amused by it.

25 June 2010

I dream about people who aren't the ones who are surrounding me, and who are infinitely better than I am.

I think I want people who have qualities that are like my own but also have qualities that are ones that I feel I don't have and wish I could attain.

Not someone who is superior, but unique.

19 June 2010

ever-present London

It is odd to think that someone is walking along the Strand in London while I am in [an american city], in the room I've occupied (off and on) for 14 years. It is difficult to acknowledge that London is still alive and active as ever, without me. Less a narcissistic thought than mere wonder that a place I love and no longer occupy still exists if I am not there to witness it take place. It gives me some comfort to think that London is still there, that people are now going to the theatres in the West End, sitting in concerts, enjoying dinner on the South Bank in the cafe where I once had dinner at least once a week, and walking the darkened streets only illuminated by the lights from buildings, cars and street lamps, while I watch the sun decline in my home across the ocean. Everything that is happening now in my foreign home I will witness again one day. When I do I will not be thinking about my native town.

13 June 2010

what you learn when you work in a library

Apparently filling out library card applications is a very strenuous activity.

People are very possessive of their library card so when you renew their card they will attack you if you even suggest getting a new one. However, when they are picking up a hold they are surprised when you ask them for their library card.

People think they can pick up their holds whenever they want and are justified in having a hissy-fit when you tell them that their hold is not here because they "only" have 9 days to pick it up.

People believe that:

You can use the library's computers even if you don't have a library card.

Plastic library bags are free.

They don't have to return items they borrowed and should not have to pay replacement fees on them when they don't.

Library clerks are librarians.

Library clerks can leave the desk where there is a long line of people waiting to be helped in order to teach you how to print something on the computer.

If you don't like something you have printed you don't have to pay the 25 cents per paper.

We have in stock and will willingly give away free to patrons: folders, paper clips, pencils/pens, paper, computer discs, books (doh!), and magnifying glasses.

We are a postal service.

You can come in and drop off items to return two minutes after we close.

Library clerks actually believe you when you tell them that you have never taken out the five DVD'S that you are being billed for on your card.

We actually care whether or not you want to pay a 15 cent fine.

05 June 2010

Books, book everywhere, and not enough time to read

One of the hazards of working in a library is that one finds entirely too many interesting books to read.

There are an assortment of books I am reading at the moment, most which I have picked up on seats, in drop boxes, and on the many shelves that hold these now nefarious books that have begun to clutter my own room -- as my room is already bombarded with a large amount of my own purchased collection of books.

Briefly [edit: not so briefly], this is what I am reading now:

Starting with the traditional bodice ripper HIS AT NIGHT by Sherry Thomas. Sherry, I believe, was not born in America (I know that her parents are of Asian descent) and her writing is as immaculate as a person who learned English second hand, i.e. the correct way. Her stories veer from the traditional -- simple -- romance books written today and set in 19th century England. Her previous book NOT QUITE A HUSBAND moves out of the drawing room to India. Exotic.

Next. THE INIMITABLE JEEVES by the legendary P.G. WODEHOUSE. Light-hearted literature written in the early Twentieth Century with main character Bertie Wooster as a carefree, elitist dandy with nothing better to do than get himself into hilarious scrapes which then his snobby intelligent butler Jeeves must get him out of. And, yes, this Jeeves is the origin of the now deceased search engine.

I just picked up ANIL'S GHOST (from a drop box) on Friday and have only read the first, very short, chapter. But I'm sure it will be good. It is from Michael Ondaatje, the writer of THE ENGLISH PATIENT.

Have only one chapter to go on ON LOVE by the philosopher Alain de Botton. This book is half novel half philosophy. I haven't been able to finish it because, like most philosophical texts, the subject which it treats has a tendency to leave one sad rather than uplifted. However, it is more entertaining than condescending.

I started DEAD END GENE POOL by Wendy Burden a week ago and got fairly far before becoming engrossed in HIS AT NIGHT. When there is a bodice ripper to read it never fails that all other books fall to the wayside, and this literally as they end up scattered at the side of my bed so that when I wake in the middle of night for a tinkle I walk over and, usually, fall over them. There aren't many books written today that I consider good writing. Wendy Burden's memoir is an exception. Burden is a descendent of the Vanderbilt dynasty and uses this memoir as a cathartic (the latter is a personal assumption) release for pent up frustration over her rich but loveless childhood. Despite the doom and gloom -- of which there is much -- the pages are mixed with uniquely funny personal accounts of her crazy relatives, as well as a succinct and wholly interesting history of her family from when they first built up their dynasty in the 1700's.

Lastly, and briefly, Jasper Fforde's SHADES OF GREY. Jasper FForde is a former employee of the film industry who left it at no early age to write what could loosely be called sci-fi novels. His writing has improved and is no where better apparent than in his latest novel. He is best known for the "Thursday Next series" about a detective who can enter and travel through classic literature. His first book was THE EYRE AFFAIR.

04 June 2010

library job

Only 2 weeks into the job and already a customer has given me his phone number. Of course he's weird and not going to receive a call from me.

25 May 2010

You know you are poor...

when you have to spend 30 minutes wondering if you really need that diet pepsi you want to buy on your break.

20 May 2010

Oxford Street

Alain de Botton's latest tweet: It takes a resilient spirit to keep faith with humanity after a walk down Oxford Street.

The uber busy Oxford Street in London

14 May 2010

new job, but life is still the same

I figure it is about time I wrote about something other than Thoreau. Not so much b/c no one cares about him or what he has written -- except me -- but because I had to return his journals today as they are on hold for someone else.

Talking about books, I got a job at my local library. I worked there before. This will be over a year and a half since I have worked: 6 months I spent in London where I wasn't allowed to work, and it took me a year once I returned home to the States until I could get a job. That was due in small part to the current economy, but (I will admit) mostly because I had great trouble not playing the early 20's slacker still living at home.

Some thoughts:

David Cameron is a Tory and the new prime minister of Britain. He is the youngest at 44 to hold this role. I believe he is naive, elitist, and despite his somewhat good looking appearance and eloquent speeches entirely wrong for the office. God (if you exist) save Britain!

I want the temperatures to remain in the 50's. I like it now, cool at night, warm during the day.

A british friend sent me a link to an online video service whereby I can watch any British show that is currently playing in Britain for a small fee of about 10 dollars a month. This excites me. I can watch EastEnders again.

I can't pay my loans. I have so many of them. Even with a job, I can't pay them all. And I can't figure out how to lower them because no one service will consolidate all the loans.

I will be in debt for the rest of my life.

I'm looking forward to working in the library again, but I hope it doesn't become too much of my life. I don't want to be consumed with whether all the books have been shelved or patrons complaining about 15 cent fines.

Life is like a mini (or, if you will, a macro) version of hell.

I don't trust doctors. I really like the one I have now but he told me during one appointment that he was going to give me three shots but only told the nurse that I was to get one, which resulted in the nurse not believing me when I related to her that he told me three and her then having to confirm with the doctor before administering the three shots which, in doctor world, meant that I had to wait another 20 minutes in a cold, overly-light, sterile white room staring at fat-intake charts on the wall. He is also my mom and dad's doctor. He tried to convince my mom that she has diabetes, until he realized that he was actually looking at my dad's medical folder. He is young -- about 30 -- doing his rotations and despite the possibility that he could kill me through inattention he is a nice and sympathetic doctor.

I really like tea. Drinking it makes me feel safe, like being covered with a large duvet.

I would like to date a guy who is not married or over the age of 32. British accent is not mandatory but it would certainly add to the illusion.

09 May 2010

the 'trick of science'

I witness a beauty in the form or coloring of the clouds which addresses itself to my imagination, for which you account scientifically to my understanding, but do not so account to my imagination. It is what it suggests and is the symbol of that I care for, and if, by any trick of science, you rob it of its symbolicalness, you do me no service and explain nothing...If there is not something mystical in your explanation, something unexplainable to the understanding, some elements of mystery, it is quite insufficient...Just as inadequate to a pure mechanic would be a poet's account of a steam-engine. If we knew all things thus mechanically merely, should we know anything really?
...

We seek too soon to ally the perceptions of the mind to the experience of the hand, to prove our gossamer truths practical, to show their connection with our every-day life (better show their distance from our every-day life), to relate them to the cider-mill and the banking institution. Ah, give me pure mind, pure thought! Let me not be in haste to detect the universal law; let me see more clearly a particular instance of it! Much finer themes I aspire to, which will yield no satisfaction to the vulgar mind, not one sentence for them. Perchance it may convince such that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their philosophy. Dissolve one nebula, and so destroy the nebular system and hypothesis. Do not seek expressions, seek thoughts to be expressed.

By perseverance you get two views of the same truth.

Thoreau's simple grave in Concord, Mass.

---
pg 101 - 102, The journal Henry David Thoreau, introduction by John R. Stilgoe

04 May 2010

thoreau -- leaves

Even the dry leaves are gregarious, and they collect in little heaps in the hollows in the snow, or even on the plane surfaces, driven in flocks by the wind. How like shrinking maidens wrapping their scarfs about them they flutter along!
pg.107, journals

02 May 2010

boring life

it's curious how being away from your usual routine and existence for a day and one night makes you, when you get back home, despise everything that you've always known -- like reading inane facebook messages, or looking at the houses and trees that you've seen outside your window since you were 10. I felt this on an even greatest level after coming home from London in '06 and '08. But then you manage to slip back into your same routine and you don't despise the usual but rather become inured to it or even like it again. I think that people who commit the same routine or live in the same place all their lives must not realize their own potential. And I also think that, when looked at your life objectively by being away from it for some time, everything becomes that's you've known becomes deplorable, because you have been "in it" for so long.

26 April 2010

moods

Thoreau's cove at Walden Pond


The mind is subject to moods, as the shadows of clouds pass over the earth. Pay not too much heed to them. Let not the traveller stop for them. They consist with the fairest weather. By the mood of my mind, I suddenly felt dissuaded from continuing my walk, but I observed at the same instant that the shadow of a cloud was passing over the spot on which I stood, though it was of small extent, which, if it had no connection with my mood, at any rate suggested how transient and little to be regarded that mood was. I kept on, and in a moment the sun shone on my walk within and without.
age 34, July 1851, pg. 63

25 April 2010

"A traveller!"

from the journals of Thoreau

A traveller! I love his title. A traveller is to be reverenced as such. His profession is the best symbol of our life. Going from ----- to -----; it is the history of every one of us.
age 33, June 1851, pg. 58

-----

Why should pensiveness be a kin to sadness? There is a certain fertile sadness which I would not avoid, but rather earnestly seek. It is positively joyful to me. It saves my life from being trivial.
age 34, August 1851, pg. 66

----

And why should I speak to my friends? for how rarely is it that I am I; and are they, then, they?
age 34, August 1851, pg. 67

24 April 2010

Henry David Thoreau central

This blog is probably going to become Henry David Thoreau central for the time being. I am reading his newly published -- abridged -- journals. Although they are abridged, they are the greatest compilation of his journals to date. And he has so many nuggets of interesting thoughts and observations that I feel I have to write them down somewhere.

In literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is only another name for tameness. It is the untamed, uncivilized, free, and wild thinking in Hamlet, in the Iliad, and in all the scriptures and mythologies that delights us...A truly good book is something as wildly natural and primitive, mysterious and marvellous[sic], ambrosial and fertile, as a fungus or a lichen...The fault of our books and other deeds is that they are too humane, I want something speaking in some measure to the condition of muskrats and skunk-cabbage as well as of men, -- not merely to a pining and complaining coterie of philanthropists.
pg. 43, November 1850, age 33

---

What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.
pg. 42, November 1850, age 33

22 April 2010

a separation from life

I'm starting to think that people who kill themselves are courageous.

To say, FUCK OFF, this world sucks and I don't want anything more to do with it.

It's a good thing I have an avid interest in theatre and books and people (usually ones I don't know -- people are always better when you are far away from them). Otherwise, I may consider off-ing myself. However, I wish I had more REAL things in my life, that made me happy.

Or, I think as Henry David Thoreau does when he wrote in his journal that The most positive life that history notices has been a constant retiring out of life, a wiping one's hands of it, seeing how mean it is, and having nothing to do with it. A bleak but sometimes comforting thought.

16 April 2010

SWAN LAKE

Ushered at the Benedum today for SWAN LAKE, my favorite (really, only) ballet that I like. I had about 6 hours of sleep which for many would suffice but I can't function on less than 8. Got up at 7:00, just as it was getting light. But I was excited to see this ballet again, after having seen it at the Royal Opera House in London.

It was a student matinee so there were lots of kids. It's always great having school children. They are always better behaved than you might think they would be, and seem genuinely thrilled by everything they see. We get both private and inner city schools. The ballet mistress and master were there, and the artistic director, sitting in my section. They come to every ballet performance.

This is a clip from the American Ballet Theatre production of SWAN LAKE, a production that I hold dear. I've watched many ballet performances on tape before, but none that lives up to this.

At one point the woman who plays Odette/Odile has to do 32 fouettes, which are essentially 32 turns. It is very difficult and not every ballerina can do it. Not only does Gillian Murphy do it in this production but she is the only one who has ever added extra turns to the combination. This starts just at 3:00 on this video.

13 April 2010

for every good there is a bad

I feel myself get weaker and sadder. I try to move on, I try to find a job, I try to hope that something better will come along. I haven't felt the need to write like this in some time. Though I've felt sad for what feels like forever. Every time I write something or feel like this I remember a former friend of mine telling me -- when I would write him these things -- that I should see a therapist. That cold, decisive, practical advice would hit me like a fist. I lack emotional fulfillment; I look for it ever where.

I just move on. I go to cafe's and drink tea. I scour job advertisements. I read literature. I watch British comedy shows and old American shows like Buffy that I never watched when they were on.

I have some sort of juvenile wish to be in a safe place where I cannot be harmed and where people are happy. And I HATE this, because it makes me weak, this wish. I will be in a therapist office one day and he (I dislike women, so it will be a he) will say that I did not have a safe place growing up and that now I am unable to function in this normal unsafe world because I want only good things. And then I will feel even more that I will always feel unsafe and will always wish for something that I do not have.

People are mean to me. They talk about me behind their backs. I wouldn't believe this if a good friend or two didn't tell me. I don't understand why people would say things, mean things, about me, especially when I have not wronged them. Probably they do it because they lack self-esteem or something, they are threatened by me, but I cannot relate how sad this makes me, that I am surrounded by people like this. I may be too sensitive but that is because I am an emotional person. I think it would be very difficult to be an emotional person and not be sensitive. The two seem inextricably linked. For every good there is a bad.

"Who besides me will ever read these letters?"

Sometimes I believe that God wants to try me, both now and later on. I must become good through my own efforts, without examples and without good advice. Then later on I shall be all the stronger. Who besides me will ever read these letters? From whom but myself shall I get comfort? As I need comforting often, I frequently feel weak, and dissatisfied with myself; my shortcomings are too great. I know this, and every day I try to improve myself, again and again.
Anne Frank, pg.41

10 April 2010

real life

Me: Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a warped Jane Austen novel.

Mike: Very warped

09 April 2010

a snapshot

10:30 at night. Lights off. The window behind my futon open, a cool breeze drifting in. I'm laying on my futon, four large pillows behind me, a huge comforter wrapped around me, Cadbury milk chocolate opened beside me, a diet pepsi in my hand, and the second season of the British comedy The Vicar of Dibley on the telly in front of me.

08 April 2010

PhotoVoyage

There is a therapy called PhotoVoyage that helps people come to terms with their self-image by changing views you may have about yourself by viewing pictures of yourself. I think I look totally different in real life than I do in any of my photos. Either I look uglier or more depressed in my photos than I think I am in real life, or I look more interesting or pretty than I fancy myself. I can't figure out if I have a good or bad opinion of myself.









06 April 2010

hockey

Went to my first hockey game tonight. It is a good way to let out both anger and joy by shouting, screaming, clapping your hands to music vigorously, and jumping up and down without the drawback of being sent to a psych ward.

29 March 2010

Quotable quotes, from David Tennant

David Tennant, British actor and lover of the 1980's version of the very popular British sci-fi show Doctor Who, was asked to play the twenty-first century version of the main character in 2005. His reaction, as told by Russell T. Davies, the head writer, was -- "He laughed, and then he swore, and the third thing he did was say, 'I want a very long coat!'"



[Okay, so I started with one quote, and then it just progressed.....]

Billie Piper (co-star): Chris [Eccleston, previous Doctor] would go away in between breaks and save his energy for the performance -- whereas, with David, we'll kind of chat, we'll have a laugh, but then, as soon as he needs to focus, he'll find his own way of doing that. David dances with it more. He's a bit more like a -- I don't know -- a baby deer. He's my little Bambi!"



"You have to have a certain amount of faith in the CGI boys not to stitch you up. You could do all this terrified acting, and this pink, fluffy thing appears."



"It's lovely to be recognised and appreciated for a show that you're proud of and people love, but I don't like the scrutiny on those close to me. Not that anyone close to me complains about it, but it's difficult not to feel that you're inflicting it on people who didn't ask for it. People can say what they like about me, but I don't like it when they feel that they can comment on my loved ones, just because of their association with me. I find that pretty disgusting."



The wonderfully gay and always up for a "larf" John Barrowman on discovering a secret about his character on Doctor Who:
"David and I were on set, filming Utopia, and we had the script to the final episode, but I hadn't read it, because I don't like to read scripts until we go into the read through. David kept coming to my trailer in the lunch break and saying, 'Have you read it?' I'd keep saying, 'No.' He'd ask the same the next day. He said, 'There's something so amazing in it. You're going to wet yourself when you see what's coming.' I thought, right, I'm going to put the boy out of his misery. I read it the following day. Halfway through my lunch break, I ran to David's trailer, banged on his door. 'OH! MY! GOD!!!' And David screamed back, 'ISN'T IT AMAZING!!!!' We just jumped around like idiots. And then I rang Russell and said, 'Were you high?' What a great idea!" [there you go reader, an incentive to watch the show!]

[Yup, that's them kissing, off set. DT's not gay, but he is British].


"With someone like Kylie [Minogue], you're battling your own expectations of what you know them for -- but look, at the end of the day, they still go to the loo! They're just people."



The fans' response when my mother died [of cancer]....well, it puts it all into perspective, really...People on the internet started raising money for the hospice that she died in, without any prompting, without me saying anything, just because of a job that I do...[I gave money]. The fact that it obviously means so much to people, and that they want to do something like that for somebody that they've never met, is very humbling and terribly, terribly moving. It meant such a lot, and was quite sort of breathtaking for myself and the whole family. It was done so selflessly, so spontaneously, and without any fanfare. I can't tell you what it meant."



The only place that it's weird is in the gym...If you're in the changing rooms, and you're all pink, and naked, and bedraggled, after an hour on a running machine or whatever, an hour trying to lift some weights that are far too heavy for you, and you're standing there, and somebody comes up and asks for an autography....You're standing there literally bollock naked and sweaty, and that's the only time that I think, this is inappropriate. Or worse -- if they're all pink and puffy and naked! But I just go, 'yes, of course, who's it to?' -- like an eejit! I don't know what's the appropriate response. Is it appropriate to go, 'This is weird, I don't want to look at your genitals while I sign an autography....?"

[And, yes, there is a picture of DT naked online, from a play he did years ago, but I'll be sensible enough not to post it. However, I will tell you that Billie Piper's nickname for him is David Ten inch.....].

---

All quotes from Doctor Who Magazine

27 March 2010

"solitary rooms"

"...The stories of the city [London], throughout the centuries, have been filled with lonely and isolated people who feel their solitude more intensely within the busy life of the streets. They are what George Gissing called the anchorites of daily life, who return unhappy to their solitary rooms. The early city hermits may therefore be regarded as an apt symbol for the way of life of many Londoners."

It was for me during my time in London. There is something so paradoxical about a big city. It is filled with people, and manifold buildings, and amusements, but because of this it can (and often is) the most lonely place to inhabit. One can feel like a stranger among so many people.

---

Ackroyd, Peter. London The Biography. pg 41.

25 March 2010

rain, London, a remembrance

As my parents fight downstairs, and the rain falls outside on this cold night, I remember the serenity of walking through the streets of London on a cool, rainy night like this. Over Westminster Bridge. Lights everywhere. Big Ben striking the hour. The people, mostly tourists, walking about, defiant against the rain,, needing to get their photos before leaving the next morning, the people who work in London gone home by train, only those wealthy enough live in London -- or, like me, use loan money to pay for a 1,000 a month squat of a room in a dormitory.

I walked down the street in my neighborhood in Pittsburgh tonight while it rained and remembered a time when I walked, foolishly, through the strand next to the river while it was pouring. There were many other people there, and one couple holding hands. No one uses umbrellas in London. It is useless; the wind is too fierce. Water doesn't bother Londoners. They go home and make tea to warm themselves. Tonight, I could almost feel the same I did when walking through the rain in London, could almost smell the same smell of cold, and rain, but it wasn't the same.

23 March 2010

quotable quotes, from Tina Fey



Found a copy of ESQUIRE at the library with Tina Fey on the front. Tina Fey has to be one of (if not the most) funny lady of our time. She's definitely an idol of mine.

Here are some quotes I particularly liked from her interview:

Twitter seems like a busman's holiday: just more writing. I have no plans to do it. I'll just stick with my 24/7 webcam. I'm old-fashioned that way.

My daughter wants to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She's a pretty violent Belle. She'll come in and say, "Gaston is hurt. I've killed him with a sword."

If we get to the hundredth episode [of 30 Rock] next season, we'll definitely get cake. In the shape of Trace Morgan's face. But a vanilla cake. Just to be unexpected.

I've got four moves as an actress: eye rolling, listening, trying to cry, and running away from the camera.

I benefit from lack of curiosity in many areas. I'm like, "Nah, I'm good." I don't need to make out with ten people. I get it. I don't need to smoke that. I get it.

Actually, the recurring dream of my childhood is to be in a room up to my neck in McDonald's french fries and I've got to eat my way out. It's great.

Advice to married men? Keep on your wedding ring and shut your mouth.





21 March 2010

glad I'm not the only one


Abby sent me this, a recent posting from Post-secret

19 March 2010

wise words

Surely it is not a matter of what we feel we can give; it is what is needed of us.
from Lark Rise to Candleford

job news, not good, as usual

I can't even get an interview for a mail room position. A mail room position! Granted, the hr woman I talked to said that I was over qualified for it, but I don't fucking care. It is full time. Benefits. I need a job. But they don't want to hire someone who they think will leave them for a better job shortly after. Well, I can't get a better job now. I can't get any job. With this and the crap I've gone through with my career "counselor", I'm quite despondent. But, thankfully for anxiety medication, not quite defeated or terribly worried.

Went to doctors this week. He says he wants to take me off these meds in 6 months. That scares me. I don't want to feel like I did before I started taking these meds. Neither do I want to stay on these meds for the rest of my life. But I do know I have to get a good job and (hopefully) move out of my parents house before I stop taking these meds b/c I simply do not have the strength to prop myself up. I just don't.

EDIT: A friend just informed me that hr people always say that you are over qualified for a position they don't want to interview you for in order to, in a sense, lessen the blow. Sometimes I would just like to remain ignorant.

13 March 2010

members of BNP should not teach our youth?

Yes, I am aware that no one reading my blog -- those scant few unfortunates -- care about a British political party in Britain called the BNP. But I do and this is my blog and I will continue to write about it.

This is a nice summation of my own stance about this fascist party, however I do differ from this author's main point. The author is a British instructor in Britain who has written on his blog in an article titled "No ifs, no buts, no nazis" about Labour School's Secretary Ed Balls's decision to not refuse BNP members from teaching positions. Mr. Teacher here replies:

I am very much in favour of free speech and I believe that every member of a democratic society has the initial right to openly voice his/her beliefs without fear of persecution. However, if these beliefs advocate or encourage the persecution of other members of the same democratic society then that individual or group of individuals should forfeit their right to promote and practice these beliefs. In short, it is abhorrent that the odious Nick Griffin is at the helm of a legal, officially recognised political party and not, as should be the case, the gagged boss of a shunned, powerless mob. If banning current BNP members from teaching, or banning current teachers from joining the BNP, would currently lead to legal proceedings then there is clearly a systemic problem. The law needs to be changed in order to protect students and school staff from being subjected to the racist propaganda of a mindless minority. To suggest otherwise is to destroy the sense of community cohesion, the gel that holds many schools together.

I myself have written that I believe the BNP should be "put down" as it were, that their free speech should not perhaps be taken away entirely but hugely ridiculed because they themselves do not follow the principles of free speech. However, I do not think it would be correct to refuse BNP members teaching positions for fear that they will unwittingly or intentionally influence their students beliefs. Unlike Mr. Teacher and those who follow him I do not believe that it is impossible for instructors to leave their beliefs outside the classroom door. If, however, any teacher is unable to treat his/her students as equals because of issues of race then there would be a reason for that teacher to be dismissed. If the instructor does not teach what is required of him, then he can be dismissed. But refusing a qualified teacher a position before he has been given it is in itself a breech of a fundamental democratic principle.

12 March 2010

writing in the cafe

Find me a man who's interesting enough to have dinner with, and I'll be happy.
Lauren Bacall

I am sitting in the cafe in the William Penn, my high heeled black pumps propped on the March issue of Vanity Fair that is resting on the wood table in front of me. I spent the last hour and a half reading specifically two articles in Vanity Fair, one on how technology (Twitter, Facebook, and Goggle) are changing the basis of human behaviour and a charming portrayal of the late screenwriting genius John Hughes's life and works, the latter which included The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Sixteen Candles. My IPod is on shuffle and currently blaring the Scottish rock bank Franz Ferdinand. A cold sip or two of tea remains in the large white cup placed next to me on the black side table to my left.

There is a very tall young man with black hair styled just a little too long for my taste that must come to this cafe every day at nearly the same time as whenever I am here on either day during the week he comes in. I remember him because he looks like the British actor Richard Armitage. Par example:



In short, he is very good looking. I see him looking at me when he comes in. Maybe he remembers me.

I've never been in love. Romantic love. I am nearly 24 -- in a month I will turn 24. I feel like 24 is the end of youth. Not many aged 24 or over are considered naive youths; the heroines of 19th century British literature are never over the age of 23 -- excepting only Jane Austen's near-spinster Anne Elliot, given another chance with the man she fell in love with as a naive youth after she meets him again many years after refusing an offer of marriage with him that her family did not then approve. The actresses who play these characters are invariably the same age of their characters, ingenue's of 19 - 23 starting off their career with a lead role that can make or break their subsequent acting reputation. The new JANE EYRE production that begins shooting at the end of this month stars Mia Wasikowska, Tim Burton's Alice of Alice in Wonderland who has been named in the current issue of Vanity Fair as one of the break-out young actresses to watch. She is only 19. I want to remain like these girls. Naive forever. Every week starting over anew, with a chance of failing or succeeding, and the exhilaration this brings. I feel, in a paranoid vein no doubt, that once you fall in love, or start a job that you decide to dedicate yourself to for a long time, when you "settle down" and have children, that not much new, inspiring, energizing can occur to you that you did not expect. This conjecture is no double perpetuated by the perspective of life presented to us in movies and T.V.

I would like to live my youth over again in order to relish the unexpected rather than fear it as I feel I did the first time. I certainly fear I will not make enough of my post-23 years, as I fear I did not embrace my adolescence.

But -- I was writing about love. To put it plainly I am really not attracted to most men. I do not find most people interesting to begin with; even the tall drink of water that is sitting on the farther side of the cafe from me is not entirely immune from my critical eye. I have never really liked any guy I've gone out with. I've never been so much as sexually attracted to them. Naturally I fear there is something wrong with me. Are my expectations too high? Yes. Is that enough to hinder finding ANYONE who can charm me? I think not. Maybe I have been interested here or there with someone -- usually unattainable -- but I soon grow tired of the illusion. Futhermore, I have no patience with what I perceive to be people's faults. Perhaps I am incapable of "falling in love".


After I wrote this I went to the library to pick up my items. One of the books on hold for me was: "Marry Him: The Case For Settling for Mr. Good Enough."

11 March 2010

"We err, we fall, we are humbled"

I believe -- I daily find it proved -- that we can get nothing in this world worth keeping, not so much as a principle or a conviction, except out of purifying flame or through strengthening peril. We err, we fall, we are humbled; then we walk more carefully. We greedily eat and drink poison out of the gilded cup of vice or from the beggar's wallet of avarice. We are sickened, degraded; everything good in us rebels against us; our souls rise bitterly indignant against our bodies; there is a period of civil war; if the soul has strength, it conquers and rules thereafter.

Charlotte Bronte, SHIRLEY, 402

09 March 2010

my book from the 1830's



I have a book sitting on my desk entitled "Goldsmith's Poems" that was published in the 1830's. I bought it at the South Bank Book Stall in London that is situated next to the river Thames. From my research the publisher only produced books in the early 1830's. I cannot located the specific date of this one I have in my possession. I cannot find this book on any of the antique book sites I have used in the past to locate every other book I have bought published in the 19th century.

I don't know why I have not thought of this before. I held the book in my hand today -- a very small book, covered in what is now a slightly faded green hard back with gold lettering for the title on the spine, no picture or words on the front -- and the thought suddenly occurred that some man or woman from the 19th century bought this book and held it in their hand. Possibly read it, although it does not open very easily, the spine very stiff, which seems to suggest it has not be read often. This book has been in many hands and many places since it first came to life in the early 19th century. How extraordinary that it should survive two centuries later and that I should now hold it.

next to my Harrods tea emphasizing how small it is.

08 March 2010

things that piss me off

Little things bother me. A lady from a job I sent my resume to called today. She called on Thursday, I called back all day Friday. She never called back on Friday. She called again at 9:00 am today. I called her back at 10:30 when I received her message -- she wasn't in; I left a message when I called back at 3:00. She called about 4:30 when I had given up waiting for her call and took to a walk. Got message when I returned, her saying if I can't get a hold of her next time I call (chances are high, I'm guessing) I should tell her on machine when it is best for her to get a hold of me. She said it in just a slightly nasty tone which put the blame on me, I felt. At least that's what I heard. Anyway, this situation pisses me off. And my too sensitive self wonders if it is my fault. Although I rather wonder at her never being around when I call in the early and late afternoon.

Besides this, Etrade closed my savings account with them and sent my money (all 126.00 of it -- all I have in the world) to Discover bank. I had a panicky three minutes before calling Etrade and learning that indeed I still technically had this money, they had just neglected to inform me that they were moving it. Now I can't access this money, transfer it from Discover to Citizens Bank account when I can then withdrawal it without waiting 2-3 days for Discover to verify my account. Reason I put money in Etrade was because they have a higher interest rate than Citizens so that I can make more money on my money. This was when I had 5,000 to put in there.

With Spring-like weather melting the snow I begin to feel restless, as though I should be doing more, FEELING more than I can. Even in London I never felt....I always wanted to be a part of something more, as though this ache I feel will go away if there is something or someone to consume it. I know I require something better than what i have, whether a person or a situation, and don't know if I'll find it -- if it even exists.

07 March 2010

I write

Because nobody can give the high price you require for your confidence. Nobody is rich enough to purchase it. Nobody has the honour, the intellect, the power you demand in your adviser. There is not a shoulder in England on which you would rest your hand for support, far less a bosom which you would permit to pillow your head. Of course you must live alone.
SHIRLEY, Charlotte Bronte, 380


I write in the pink notebook I bought in London at WH Smith. In London I wrote notes in here for class. In America I fill the rest of the empty pages with quotes from the books I read and thoughts I have that I have to write in here first (in my inscrutable handwriting) before typing on the computer. Because, if I try writing these thoughts on the computer first, my repressed self won't let it come out. I suppose the relative privacy of a notebook shelters my tortured unconscious. I sound like a therapist.

I have been thinking about seeing a therapist. But I cannot imagine finding someone to talk to that would be good enough for me -- meaning someone I can depend on, who will want me to talk to them, who has my best interest at heart. I imagine (rather -- fear) that even therapists have their own agendas. Would, for instance, not think me clever enough or interesting enough to deal with me and will subtly express this. This paranoia stems from my parents, both of whom were not a good support for me and still are not, who have such problems of their own that they are incapable of dealing with mine, who I cannot explain my feelings to because they are either not sympathetic (primarily my mother) or not -- well -- knowledgeable enough about life (dad). I often blame others who are not able to be as dependable and interested as I would like them to be, but I know that this is not something realistic. People can only give as much they can. My parents should have been more reliable; I can get away with blaming them a little. And I do.

04 March 2010

ache

Before I took anxiety pills I would become very overwhelmed by my sadness. Of being alone. Of dealing with my parents, while there was no one to take care of me. Now I feel calm, even when things get bad. But it doesn't take away the situation, how bad it can be, and how sad I am, even though I do not feel depressed and no longer feel that ache in the pit of my stomach -- really, in my heart.

But I wonder what is worse, feeling the pain -- having a physical reaction to my sadness -- or not feeling anything, but knowing that I am still sad.

28 February 2010

more job drama, and another tale from the theatre

My career counselor wrote to me, "30,000". It was in response to the e-mail I wrote her saying that I had spoken to the boss of the job she had foisted upon me. I told her that when I asked him how much he would be willing to pay me that he said he did not know and would have to consult someone about it. And then proceeded to ask me what an entry level person would receive, his justification being that I had just come out of college and so would know. I said that I would imagine it depends on what the position is, the requirements of that position, and the qualifications of the applicant. This, however, was not specific enough for him and he asked me to tell him what exactly an entry level person would receive a year. 40,000 dollars, he asked. I told him, quite frankly, that I hadn't a clue but that 40,000 did seem a little high. Perhaps 25,000 to start? And I reiterated that it depends on the position and qualifications of the applicant. It was not as though he was trying to figure out how much I wanted to be paid, but how much he should pay me! I am constantly surprised by people.

But, anyway, yes, my career counselor wrote me back nothing more than the figure 30,000. No: thanks for telling Bob that it was not at all my fault for Helen's inability to fill the position -- as I had tried to stress to Bob and told her so in my explanatory e-mail; no: so should we get together to help you with finding another position? Nothing. Just the figure 30,000, as if to say: there, you bitch, that is how much you would have been paid. Don't you feel sorry now?

But I don't at all. East Pittsburgh. There's no way in hell I am working in East Pittsburgh. I may have less than 150 dollars in my bank account, but I'm still too proud to take 6 buses a day, over 3 hours, to get paid what will not even amount to 30,000 dollars after paying transportation fees and taxes.

I just realized that in my last blog I said that I would only take the position if I were paid 30,000 dollars -- and then wrote: who would pay me 30,000 dollars? ........... Well, I still have made the right decision. Not just because it is so far away, but because the job -- research and writing -- sounds very boring.

Oh, am I messing with Fate or what? Well, She deserves a bit of a shake-up given the things she has (and hasn't) brought to my life.

But in better news, I worked at the theatre yesterday. There is a couple who work on my team. They are in their early 80's. They met roller skating and married when he was 21 and she 18. I talked to the woman yesterday as we filled programs with cast changes. She told me she has been married to John for 61 years. 61 years! I told her they should receive some sort of medal for that. After the show they were going dancing. They do it every Saturday night. She is very energetic and funny. The life of the party, you would say. But not at all annoying as some people who are full of a lot of verve can be. Just a right laugh to have around, and acts and moves a lot younger than she is. Her husband is tall and, I must admit, a pretty good looking chap. Also looks younger than he is, and is rather charismatic, but a lot more quiet, down to earth, and withdrawn than his wife. He tells jokes and talks to their friends but in a much more understated, lethargic manner. She works downstairs and he on the balcony. She says -- people always ask us why we do not work together, but I tell them: we live together, eat together, sleep together and have done for 61 years. We need some time a part.

25 February 2010

exasperatedds

MAN! MAN! MAN

C'MON!!!!!

So I visit my career counselor last week -- after not having seen her for about a month because she couldn't fit me in. This is after our last meeting when we had looked at a job and I was to send her a completed resume for it and she would send it out and talk to a contact at this place that she knew. I did so the following day. Didn't receive word back from her until weeks later.

I go into the office ready to forgive. She has a job for me, a place very far away from where I live, -- but no mind she tells me, it is a good position. I'm not very enthusiastic. She calls up the guy to talk to him about me. She's very pushy. He calls back while I'm still there. He starts talking like I've already got the job.

Well, long and short is that I can't get to this place and back without spending 90 bucks a month on transportation, taking three buses to get there, and it taking 3 hours a day to and from on buses, and now I have to call back this guy and tell him this. Unless he's willing to pay me 30,000 a year (which, really, who would pay me 30,000 a year) it ain't going to be happening.

I don't want someone to be disappointed in me. Again.

Well, I think I'm done with career counselor. I would never have gone if my brother hadn't been insistent about it. I didn't want to. Don't believe in that.

I've been better about sending out resumes to places, and may get a call back at one of the local libraries, alas only for a weekend position, but it's something -- and it's not working at McDonalds.

Although if I worked at McDonalds I could probably get free double cheese-burgers.

No, that's not enough of an incentive.

EDIT: APPARENTLY I'M SO "EXASPERATEDDS" THAT I CAN'T EVEN SPELL EXASPERATED CORRECTLY.

24 February 2010

vigils

Life wastes fast in such vigils as Caroline had of late but too often kept -- vigils during which the mind, having no pleasant food to nourish it, no manna of hope, no hived-honey of joyous memories, tries to live on the meagre diet of wishes, and failing to derive thence either delight or support, and feeling itself ready to perish with craving want, turns to philosophy, to resolution, to resignation; calls on all these gods for aid, calls vainly -- is unheard, unhelped, and languishes.

The always cheery Charlotte Bronte. From her novel Shirley
262

19 February 2010

an unexpected chat

I love impromptu conversations. I was sitting in the cafe at the William Penn, a biography of Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin resting open face down on my chest as I rested slouched back into a white-covered plumpy chair when a man came over with tea and asked if he could sit near me, there being five other chairs similar to mine empty within my vicinity. I of course said yes, with a smile. I was in a good mood, having just had lunch with a good friend, and just that afternoon started a new book at my favourite cafe. And, I must say, hopped up on a grande size tea very aptly named "Awake."

He started talking to me. I feigned reading my book for a few seconds, disinclined to talk with him, fearful he would be boring or weird and I'd be stuck in a 45 minute conversation thinking of an excuse to exit the building. But I was interested the minute he said he was from Rochester, New York and staying at the William Penn for a wedding (not, as I presumed and later discovered, his own).

So we talked for an hour and a half. He's an economist. Owns his own business, the money from which he makes he gives to various charities he supports. He got into economics as a young wanna-be activist.

I could write more about our conversation but I don't want to, and it was not especially note-worthy. It was the sort of conversation you would have just meeting someone. What movies and books do you like, politics, where you've traveled... Except what made it very nice was that, unlike most first time conversations with someone, we weren't being set up on a blind date, or have met online in some I'mdesperatesoImgoingtofindadateonline sort of thing. But an unexpected chat with someone who I was interested in, no small feat truth be told.

I like the unexpected. Any day of the week I will take that over the boring yet safe existence of a repetitious life.

By the way, he's like 45 and lives in another state, so there will be nothing romantic going on. Although he did give me his e-mail address and phone number.

18 February 2010

imagination

william godwin: Imagination is the ground-plot upon which the edifice of a sound morality must be erected. Without imagination we may have a certain cold and arid circle of principles, but we cannot have sentiments: we may learn by rote a catalogue of rules...but we can neither ourselves love, nor be fitted to excite the love of others.
396

15 February 2010

the BNP strike again, literally

I never thought I would actually get my nose bloodied trying to cover a press conference for a British political party — but that is the true face of Nick Griffin and his BNP.

I have been following the developing story of the BNP, the British National Party who is steadily gaining support in Britain for their neo-nazi sentiments. I cannot believe this! For a press conference about the BNP's forced acceptance of whites and other nationality groups in their party as a result of the equality legislation which is soon to pass through Parliament, a reporter from The Times was bullied and forcibly removed from the conference merely because he had previously published some true yet negative remarks about one particular member of the party.

Here is the link if you want to read the complete story of what happened, written by the journalist himself. BNP attack journalist

Previous posts by me about the BNP:
an overview of the BNP and their offenses

British Fascism: a snippet of an article written in The Spectator about how strong the BNP have become and how ignoring them will only make them stronger.

14 February 2010

to love another

'Be sure I feel it,' he declared to a friend. 'Be sure I am not the fool to look for that happiness in any future vicissitude of life, that I was beginning to enjoy, when I was thus dreadfully deprived of it. My understanding was enlarged, my heart was improved, as well as the most invaluable sensations of admiration & delight produced in me by her society.'
William Godwin on recent death of wife Mary Wollstonecraft as a result of giving birth to their child, the future Mary Shelley

--

Godwin did eventually re-marry, not that long after Wollstonecraft's death, a lady pretty insipid and who it seems evident he may have married only to have someone to help him with Mary Godwin (later Shelley, upon her marriage to the noted poet Percy Bysshe Shelley) and Wollstonecraft's child Fanny from a previous liaison.

When Godwin died many years later (in 1836) at the age of 80 he requested he be buried with Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary Shelley would be buried between them.

Love, like life, is fleeting.

"sooner or later in life the things you love you lose." -- Florence and the Machine, "You've got the Love"