*wipes brow*

Phew! Last essay finished! Am about to hand it in, but I just had to listen to Canon first. It's so uplifting and wunderbar!

Have been reading CS Lewis' diary (rude or what?), in a volume called All my road before me. It is very good. Concerned with walks, academic study, chores around the house - he was a real domestic creature that one.

Also started on Whisperer by Fiona McIntosh. It seems rather predictable at the beginning, and the writing isn't fantastic (rather unorginal sometimes) but it's better than my sister's rubbish reading last night - I was reading over her shoulder and suffice it to say I wont' be wasting my time wanting to gag over the writing in Hymn for the wounded man, which is a pity because I really like the title.

When I get home I will go for a walk, have a bath, start sorting out my books. Tomorrow I am going to turn the house upside down to get it clean. Those cobwebs had better watch out! And all the horrid dust that has plastered itself to the back wall of the house. I hate cleaning the outside of the house, but it looks awful so it needs doing.

would rather be...

As much as I love and value my uni work, it is now home stretch, only 2000 more words to write and I'm done. So naturally, I would rather be doing this:

as the long as the book contained this quote:


and then I would go to sleep.


Jeanette Winterson usually writes for adults, but she's also written a book for the YA market, and it is called Tanglewreck. Such a delightful name for a book. It is also the name of the mysterious big old house in that book. Sadly, the characters do not get to spend enough time in Tanglewreck because they're busy traipsing all over London and the universe.

This is an enthralling read that can make you slightly dizzy with all the science speak. You'll also find time travel, magic, intrigue, a group of people called the Throwbacks who have lived underneath London since the mid 1700s, and the rather sinister process called Time Transfusion. It all sounds like a bit much, but it's very exciting! No sword fighting, alas. But there is a Doctor Who reference!

Hasten to a library or bookstore and read it!

it's that time of semester again*...

that time of crabbiness when
students go into study-induced hiberanation
and work on final assignments
with self-critical enlightenment
and quite some creativity,
thank goodness there are no exams for me!

*'that time' is earlier for Deakin students than those of other unis. I feel sorry for us: what should be 17 weeks of learning is crammed into 14. Stupid 'business' perspective of university created the trimester system, and Arts courses are not immune. Hmph. Can't wait 'til I start a PhD and never get time off! Hee!

My final assignments, by the way:

1. For 'Life writing: theory and practice', a 2500 piece of original life writing of own choice. I am doing three 600-ish word poems about other writer's lives: Milton, Seamus Heaney and JKR. I love working my favourite things into my uni work! Then a 500 word critical appendix. I love exegesis! Is somewhat underway but there's still a lot of work to do.

2. A 2000 word critical essay on consumerism informing identity in teenage chick lit and how whether the two chosen texts (a couple of episodes of Gilmore Girls and the novel My Big Birkett) promote/normalise or crititque that tendency. (Sorry if I lost you by the end of the sentence. I'm afraid I don't have time to re-write it!) This still has nearly all my work ahead of me.

3. A 3000 word article of creative nonfiction writing. I have chosen to write a personal essay on the delights of walking in the countryside. First draft all done. Now is being workshopped by my online class. Then I need to heavily edit and rewrite the darling. Oh boy.

Cross your fingers that I maintain my sanity and don't flip out - not even once!

the best reading is...

done lying in bed on Saturday morning! It doesn't matter what you're reading, as long as it's a book and the storyline is tolerable, then on Saturday morning in bed it will seem delightful, especially if it's helping you put off doing housework!

Today I read The Indigo Girls by Penni Russon for Girlfriend Fiction. Yes, I admit to reading teenage chick lit. I love it, but only in occasional doses.

I borrowed it from the library because the blurb mentioned a character called Mieke, which is my mother's nickname, though hardly anyone calls her that anymore because she's been converting them all to her first name.

However, this Mieke doesn't come up much except in her absence, because she doesn't came up to the Indigo campsite with her family like she does every year until the second week that Tilly and Zara are there, and they have to get along without their mediator being there. Zara is the most popular girl at her school because she has become disillusioned with all that is important to the popular set: appearances and gossip. Tilly goes to another high school and is smart and can't wait to go to university where, she imagines, 'university is going to be full of other people like me, pointy brain people, and we'll sit around and talk about literature (you know, for fun) and the homoerotic subtext in Star Trek ... and everything will have this learned flow about it, like you can suck up knowledge just walking down the halls'. I feel a bit sorry for her, she'll be disappointed and floored by all the people talking about drinking and the footy. Or, then again, she might find those niches of the university that are still thoughtful the way universities are supposed to be.

But I was trying to review this book, but I'm not good at reviews, I'm good at reflections. So instead of writing about the surfing accident and the boys and Zara's trauma and her vapid friends, there is something I've noticed about books like this: popular girls realising that their lives are meaningless because they're all about clothes and appearances, the surface stuff of life, and they envy their bookish, smart friends. But the bookish, smart friends are out of touch with the surface stuff of life, even to the extent of being out of touch with their senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, the pleasure that bodily life can bring to them. Tilly has to make that discovery in this story.

Maybe it's all bollocks, though. But all of this there's-more-to-life in a novel, it's sort of like preaching to the choir isn't it? The girls reading these books know all this already, that's why they read these books. It can help them feel less lonely, true, and it can help people who are discovering that rubbish like Gossip Girls really is just rubbish. It's all a bit repetitive though. But it is, after all, designed to be a light read that lifts your heart and lets you know you're not alone. It's fodder for the imagination, for the self, and part of balanced diet of words and thought, some of it light and tantalising and quickly digested, some of it heavy and provoking and taking more time to sink in properly, where it then stays for the rest of one's life.

admiration for existence...

These couple of paragraphs are from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The passage speaks for itself, really, and right to my heart!

'I have been thinking about existence lately. In fact, I have been so full of admiration for existence that I have hardly been able to enjoy it properly. As I was walking up to the church this morning, I passed that row of big oaks by the war memorial — if you remember them — and I thought of another morning, fall a year or two ago, when they were dropping their acorns thick as hail almost. There was all sorts of thrashing in the leaves and there were acorns hitting the pavement so hard they’d fly past my head. All this in the dark, of course. I remember a slice of moon, no more than that. It was a very clear night, or morning, very still, and then there was such energy in the things transpiring among those trees, like a storm, like travail. I stood there a little out of range, and I thought, It is all still new to me. I have lived my life on the prairie and a line of oak trees can still astonish me.

'I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty in it. And I can’t believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try.'

Some more excellent quotes can be found here and by pestering your favourite search engine.

If you haven't read this book yet, make sure you bury your nose in a copy of it as soon as possible!

Hogwarts meme

Would you resist doing this? I don't think so!

[x] You are loud. 
[ ] You like going to school to see your friends.
[ ] You’ve had more than a couple detentions.
[ ] You always have something to do on the weekends. READ AND WATCH TV!!!!
[ ] You like to be the centre of attention.
[x] You get above average grades in school. 
[ ] You’ve been called bossy before. 
[ ] You’re a bit of a daredevil/you like an adrenaline rush. 
[ ] You are athletic. 
[ ] You are one of the best players on your team. 
[x] You would do anything for your loved ones. 
[x] You like the colour red. 
[ ] Your favourite class is Transfiguration or DADA. 
[ ] You would never break a promise. 
[x] You have many acquaintances, but only a handful of good friends. 
[ ] You get average grades in school. 
[x] You’ve been called boring before. 
[x] You don’t like to brag about your achievements. 
[x] You value honesty.
[x] You don’t mind working hard to get what you want. 
[x] You like the colour yellow. 
[ ] You have a job. 
[ ] You are athletic. 
[x] You are a team player. 
[x] You are in the middle of the social totem pole. 
[x] You are easily amused. 
[x] You like helping others. 
[x] Your favourite class is Herbology or Divination. 
[ ] You like the music played on the radio best. 
[x] You get good grades in school. 
[x] You like to read. 
[x] Dumb people annoy you. 
[x] You are creative. 
[x] You’ve been called a know-it-all before. 
[x] You would say your intelligence level is higher than most. 
[x] You hate cheating. 
[x] People often want you to help them with homework or projects.  BUT CLEVER ME, I WORM MY WAY OUT OF IT :D
[ ] You are more into the creative arts: theatre, dancing, drawing, etc. 
[ ] You are extremely logical in your way of thinking. 
[x] You are considered shy or quiet by people you don’t know. 
[x] You like the colour blue. 
[ ] Your favourite class is A History of Magic, Charms, or Care of Magical Creatures. 
[x] You tend to over-analyze things. 
[ ] You can focus and pay attention well. 
[ ] You are very competitive. 
[ ] You like the finer things in life. 
[ ] You think welfare is a waste. 
[ ] You’ve made fun of someone in the past week. 
[x] You’ve been called a snob before. 
[ ] You think the end justifies the means. 
[ ] You’re not afraid to say something to someone else’s face. 
[ ] You tend to think people are a bit jealous of you. 
[ ] You’ve made someone cry by just saying something to them.
[ ] You tend to root for the villains in movies, books, etc. 
[x] You are very good with words. 
[ ] Above all, you want to be successful in life. 
[x] You like the colour green. 
[ ] You love to win. 
[ ] Your favourite class is Potions or DADA.

So, it's a tie between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, but I tend more towards Hufflepuff in that I'm actually a bit lazy.

Writer's Block: Study break

What are you studying or did you study in school? Is it related to what you want to do for your career?

Oh, LJ, I'm so glad you asked!

I'm currently studying for a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature), and it is very muchly related to what I want to do for my career, my vocation, my calling. I want to be a published writer! A much published writer! A good writer, damn it, with lots of literary titles under my belt, or lining my bookshelf, rather. I am also desirous of undertaking a PhD in literary theory, that will be lovely. Do you like that last sentence? Do you like how the first clause is a sentence driven by nouns rather than a verbs? Doesn't it sound fuzzy and old fashioned? Go verbs! I love verbs! You should too, my readers, you should adore verbs and you should collect them and share them and smother people with verbs rather than with kisses!

Um, yeah, kinda digressed a bit there... blame on Debussy making my imagination giddy!

on personal essays

or, 'the importance of idleness'

Whilst actually doing my uni work, I was referred by my tutor to a wonderful essay by Robert Dessaix. Entitled 'Letters to an unknown friend', it tickled my fancy, and my inner idler, by dwelling on the merits of the personal essay and discussing how idleness is an important trait for the personal essayist to have or to cultivate. You're most welcome to skip the rest of my post and simply read Dessaix's essay, it's very well written and very engaging!

According to Dessaix, 'the essay is vital to a civilised life' - he refers to the humble personal essay rather than its academic cousin. 'The more personal kind of essay, the sort of thing we write just because we want to tell someone something, something we must find the words for now, before the moment passes'. Whilst I agree with his ideas, I must protest at the placement of his prepositions! He barely gets away with putting that 'for' where he has put it; I would have written, 'Something for which we must find the words now', but still, it is the sense of immediacy that is important, and perhaps that is better served in Dessaix's sentence.

He then goes on to consider idleness, and how the tendency to idleness should not be confused with indolence. He's quite right, though I don't think cats are indolent, as he suggests they are, because after all they're never really asleep when they're napping. The idle person may be preoccupied all the time, and yet not be busy, and in being idle, one can make one's haphazard way through the world, and enjoy leisured pensiveness, stillness, and take pleasure in the ordinary. I rather like these notions, they make me want to write personal essays, and to first do the necessary amount of idling.

Dessaix also laments the lack of actual communication that goes on in the world, and the demands of consumer culture that we should work and spend money, that there isn't the time for good conversation in cafes, and for writing essays, to have wonderful discussions on all topics with friends. Dessaix is not the only person to write on the importance of idleness, because Tom Hodgkinson does as well, in his book How to be idle, but that book hasn't the deliciousness of actually being about the nature of personal essays and the merits of writing said essays. I suppose blog posts are sort of personal essays, or some of them may be, it would really depend on the content. I like the idea of the time spent observing and reflecting that is required for essay writing, perhaps I ought to take it up, add it to my list of thoughtful things to do...