Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Catching up...

Sometimes keeping a blog begins to feel a bit like a game of catch up.  Unfortunately, this seems to be a common theme of my life, and I hope that one day I am able to get it all "caught up," and can finally start living in the moment instead of playing catch-up all the time.

I keep getting the question of what I have been up to.  I suppose my friends can't fathom what one does while living in Delaware unemployed.  I've posted some pictures from recent weeks, all of which were NOT taken in Delaware:)

I went to New York for a weekend and hung out with some friends.  Kelli, Corrie, and I went to a few parties, while Siki and I enjoyed an afternoon at the Union Square Dog Run (one of my favorite places in the world.  I do not have a dog in NYC, but I do not allow that to slow me down when it comes to visiting dog parks.  It seems to me that the dogs become universally owned when in the dog park, as displayed in the photo above when the little Yorkie who adopted my friend Siki), followed by a trip to the Whitney Museum for the Whitney Biennial 2008. 

On another weekend, I went with my friend, Mark, to Annapolis, Maryland for the day, where we took a historic audio tour of Revolutionary War historical sites, and visited the Naval Academy.

I've also checked out the Delaware Historical Society, and the Mormon's Family History Center as part of my ongoing genealogy research.

I found an amazing vintage store in Wilmington, where I managed to buy a dress from the 1940's, one from the 1950's, and another from the 1960's.  I haven't pictures yet, but will definitely post some soon.

I spend lots of time on my couch with my two puppies, Siegfried (named after the dragon slaying hero of the Niebelungenleid.  He is a Miniature Pinscher, a breed that has no relation, although a great similarity in appearance, to Doberman Pinschers), and Oscar (named after the frankfurter, and is, in fact, without irony, a Dachshund).  I believe that owning dogs are one of the greatest blessings in this world.  When I sit down on our couch, I often find my lap filled with these two Godsends, and it seems to me that whilst they sleep, I am unable to disturb them.  Thus, a large amount of my time is spent contemplating what lovely creatures they are, as well as thanking Heaven that I am able to enjoy their company.

I spent some time working on this blog, as well as doing a woeful job of keeping up correspondence with long-lost friends.

I'm sewing and doing some patternmaking, chiefly on a jacket but with dresses and pants in the works as well.  I hope to devote a future blog entry(with photos!) to this subject.

I've also come up with a new idea for a blog: one created to further the fellowship of my old girlfriends from NY.  It will be a place for us to share our lives, set up future outings, lift up prayer requests, and encourage one another.  While ultimately I did receive the encouragement of my parents, the initially exclaimed, "Heaven forbid you ever get a real job!," implying that all of my ideas and activities stem from the fact that I don't have much of a life, or rather anything preventing me from doing these things.  While this may be true, I'm glad to be where I am, and argue that my life is much more fulfilling without the 'real' job.  It is a shame that I am not a bit more self-motivated, or I would get even more things started and accomplished.

I am going to physical therapy three times a week for a knee pain that flares up from time to time.  It's not absolutely necessary, as the pain is very infrequent, but it is fun to be back in a gym setting where I have someone guiding my steps.  It is a bit of torture (but then, working out always is), but the exercise high I have afterwards is well worth the exertion.

Other than that, I spend as much time with my mom as possible, and try to be helpful in the way of cooking and cleaning and caring for the pets.  I know I fall far short of where I should be, but I do try.  I'm sure there are other things I could mention, but as you can see, my life is quite full here in Delaware.

Oh, and last Friday, I (finally!) got my ears pierced at the ripe old age of 28.  It was a decision I wanted to be sure about, so I took some time making it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On rather morbid things

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
   The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
   And leaves the world to darkness and to me. 

~Thomas Gray, Stanza 1 from Elegy in a Country Churchyard

The above poet, Thomas Gray, was a member of a group of poets referred to as The Graveyard poets.  They were English poets writing in the eighteenth century focusing on themes of mortality, melancholy, and the grave.  This Graveyard School proved to be both popular and important to their contemporaries and in particular, to the Romantics.

When I learned of this period of literature, I, of course, was immediately swept up in the romanticism of such poets.  I have long enjoyed my own bouts of melancholy (and, for the most part, I do mean enjoy), and also happen to find cemeteries to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I cannot pass one but want to stop for a closer look.  My preferred spot for a picnic would be on these hallowed grounds, and I have long maintained, much my mother's chagrin, that I should like to be married in a graveyard.  I realize that it is an idea that will not go over well-- after all, I'm not a goth.  I am just a wee bit eccentric girl, who most people think is pretty normal.  My solution to that is to find a quaint, old church that happens to have beautiful, aging graveyard out front.  I'll get my wish, and no one will be the wiser.

After watching episode 15 of The Tudors on Showtime, I have now come up with a new idea.  This relates to my death, and it is now my wish to be buried in a wedding dress.  A character in the miniseries is sentenced to death by beheading as a result of not signing an oath that states that King Henry VIII is the supreme head of the church.  As this newly-minted cardinal is led up the scaffold minutes before his death, he proclaims, "You see that I am wearing my finest clothes, for today is my wedding day."  What he refers to is the Christian belief that the church is the bride of Christ and that when we die and ascend to heaven we shall take part in a grand wedding feast.  

As I think of myself as a bride of Christ (albeit a very unfaithful and disobedient fiance), I think it is extremely practical to be married in a wedding gown.  While I believe it is of no importance what we are buried in as far as eternity is concerned, I love the symbolic nature of this gesture, as well as its ability to minister to others.  On a historical note, it seems that people in the past were buried in their wedding dresses-- perhaps it was the best thing they owned, but to me, better a wedding dress, whether your own or picked up somewhere (Goodwill will do just fine for me), than the most expensive garment from Chanel. 

I have another request for my funeral: I would like all or part of Faure's Requiem performed at my funeral.  Now, I realize that it requires a full chorus as well as some strings, but I'll take whatever I can get.  In particular, I love the last part entitled, In Paradisum.  Part of the lyrics read:
Chorus angelrum te suscipiat

which translates to a chorus of angels shall sing you to your sleep.  How beautiful a sentiment, and definitely something I would want at my funeral.  I would also love Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.  That is a perfect, perfect song.

Of Menelaus and Helen

Hot through Troy's ruin Menelaus broke
   To Priam's palace, sword in hand, to sate
   On that adulterous whore a ten years' hate
And a king's honour.  Through red death, and smoke,
And cries, and then by quieter ways he strode,
   Till the still innermost chamber fronted him.
   He swung his sword, and crashed into the dim
Luxurious bower, flaming like a god.

High sat white Helen, lonely and serene.
   He had not remembered that she was so fair,
And that her neck curved down in such a way;
And he felt tired.  He flung the sword away,
   And kissed her feet, and knelt before her there,
The perfect Knight before the perfect Queen.

So far the poet.  How should he behold
   That journey home, the long connubial years?
   He does not tell you how white Helen bears
Child on legitimate child, becomes a scold,
Haggard with virtue.  Menelaus bold
   Waxed garrulous, and sacked a hundred Troys
   'Twix noon and summer.  And her golden voice
Got shrill as he grew deafer.  And both were old.

Often he wonders why on earth he went
   Troyward, or why poor Paris ever came.
Oft she weeps, gummy-eyed and impotent;
   Her dry shanks twitch at Paris' mumbled name.
So Menelaus nagged; and Helen cried;
And Paris slept on by Scamander side.

~ Rupert Brooke, Menelaus and Helen

Monday, April 21, 2008

Libraries and nerd-ery

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is a chariot
That bears a human soul!

~ Emily Dickinson, Part One: Life XCIX

I am, without a doubt, the biggest nerd I know.  How else to describe someone who gets as much joy out of a library as I do.  When I moved out of Brooklyn in late February, it was with great sadness that I bid my local library (The Brooklyn Public Library's Central Branch) goodbye.  I was not ready to let it go, and on subsequent visits to the city, I've stopped by and checked more books and DVDs out.  I'm thankful for their online renewal service, and for my friend, Corrie, who has graciously volunteered to return my books for me if I mail them to her.

Having my nearest "local" library some three hours drive away was not ideal or practical for a self-avowed book lover such myself.  I was under the impression that I was banned from the New Castle County Public Library system because of a $100 fine that I somehow accrued  almost fifteen years ago.  I finally decided a few weeks ago that I would just pay the fine, but when I went in to talk to them, my fine had mysteriously disappeared, and I emerged from the library the triumphant owner of a bright yellow piece of plastic entitling me to borrow from any of the local libraries.  Yippee!

After my physical therapy session today (working on my knees), I drove to the nearest branch, and somehow managed a half hour later to have accumulated an armful of books on topics ranging from Eleanor of Aquitaine and Lady Jane Grey, to fashions of the 1940's, to sex and chastity.  What joy I had perusing those shelves; what regret in deciding to leave some books behind!  I didn't want to be too overzealous-- after all, I do only have them for three weeks at a time.

Perhaps I shall share some thoughts on my reading in future posts.  In the meanwhile though, I have a lot of reading to do!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring! (or why I love my camera)

How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!
~ Emily Dickinson, letter to Mrs. J.S. Cooper, 1880

The earth laughs in flowers
~ e.e. cummings or Ralph Waldo Emerson

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
~ T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Friday, April 4, 2008

Room cleaning, red lipstick, and old (love) letters

I've read that the best way to keep readership at one's blog is to post often so that readers do not get discouraged/disinterested, and keep coming back.

If only I had more to write about than the trivialities of day-to-day life. I live at home with my parents. I don't have a job, and I don't have a car. Most days I don't even leave my house. That said, I've had an interesting life so far (meeting all sorts of people, and traveling around the globe), and what I think could be called an intelligent brain. I've had a bit of a setback of late-- namely that monster called Depression which robs one of all joy. I'm working on getting my feet back on the ground, but in the meanwhile, I've begun what seems to be some form of ritualistic cleansing: I've begun going through all of my old things, my room, other parts of my house, and really trying to get rid of that stuff that is of no value to me, or is of value, but in the grand scheme of things, isn't really worth me holding onto. It is a job that is long overdue, I have taken it on with much relish. In addition, I scrub away. I vacuum, sweep, and Swiffer whatever I find. I could analyze it psychologically and say that this is a way of taking control of my life. Whatever the reason, I find more and more peace as I scrub away, and with each bag of trash I add to the landfill (ahem, I mean, I take to the innocuous trash can outside my house.)

One of the fun things about cleaning is stumbling upon old items you have stashed away for years. I am a letter writer-- one of those dinosaurs who still puts pen to paper and merrily licks a stamp (well, not so merrily as they continue to raise stamp prices), as I put my letter in the mailbox with a flag up. I'm a bit of a Victorian, and feel that there is nothing so quaint and charming as receiving a letter. It is my realization that I have literally hundreds, if not thousands of letters in my possession. I have them tied up with string in my basement, and more filling a drawer in my bedroom. Many are from dedicated girl friends, but what struck me today was the number of precious letters from past loves and admirers. At the old-age of 28 (not so very old, but often reminded by my parents of my impending old maidenhood), I begin to feel as if I shall never find love (or to borrow from another theme, that my dear Ulysses shall never return to me). But, while it doesn't offer total consolation, these letters serve to remind me that I have had opportunities in my day. One former flame wrote to tell me that he would "pursue me most carefully," while another intriguingly wrote one line of "Hello," some two years after we had broken off all contact. I've had one correspondent write page upon page, which in my world, garners extra points for resisting the temptations of the modern. While many today would say that a long-distance relationship will never work, I would point to those relationships of the past where courtship was largely conducted via long-distance correspondence. I must respect a man who knows how to write letters. As a woman who is often fearful of love and men, I find these letters to be quite a comfort. I can clearly see the intelligence and thoughtfulness of such a man displayed in his missives. What a wonderful way to get to know someone!

In my research on what makes a blog more readable, I've discovered that I, at least, seem to be drawn to blogs that link to other sites. I found this site that allows one to create the cutest Gwen Stefani Harajuku Paper Dolls as well a greeting cards. You can customize them yourself and then print them out on your HP printer. I'm sure all of my friends will be getting their own personalized paper dolls in the mail.

Oh, and as for the reference to red lipstick in the title, I seem to have discovered the virtues of a piquant shade of brightly colored lipstick. Whatever the reason, I find that when I put on my fire engine red, my mood perks up immediately. I am reminded of forties fashion, or even of the sophistication of a Sophia Lauren, or Brigitte Bardot, and I embrace it wholeheartedly.