Thursday, April 28, 2005

Birds of Sadness, Pandora's Box and Hope - and Why Blackberry Kisses Are The Best Kind of All.

I've just finished reading "Walk Two Moons." I don't know why today I decided to read a children's book that I've owned since I was in elementary school. As far as I can recall, I never read it. But it's a Newbery Medal winner and it's by Sharon Creech - a fantastic author of young adult literature. I'm glad I picked it up. The story grabbed me in ways I don't think it would have if I were younger, maybe because I'm in the middle. I can identify with the children in the tale as much as the adults. I know a part of everybody and it makes the story that much stronger for me. If you have not read it, I advise you to find a copy - or I'll send you mine, as it's a registered BookCrossing book and I've been planning a Release for it since Easter.

It's a sad book. "You can't keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair." Someone's mother runs away. Someone else's mother is never coming back. There are bittersweet memories about home and family. There is a little tangent about Pandora's box, and how Pandora, being curious, opened it and let out all the bad things into the world - and there was Hope at the bottom of the box. It's a tough book to explain without reading it, but the part that caught in my consciousness the most involved blackberry kisses. They're kisses that, for Salamanca, taste like blackberry - because that's what her mother had just put in her mouth before she kissed the tree.

See, Salamanca's mother loved trees. I can't paraphrase the story, so here it is:
"As she approached the corner of the barn where the sugar maple stands, she plucked a few blackberries from a stray bush and popped them into her mouth. She looked all around her - back at the house, across the fields, and up into the canopy of branches overhead. She took several quick steps up to the trunk of the maple, threw her arms around it, and kissed that tree soundly.
Later that day, I examined this tree trunk. I tried to wrap my arms about it, but the trunk was much bigger than it had seemed from my window. I looked up at where her mouth must have touched the trunk. I probably imagined this, but I thought I could detect a small dark stain, as from a blackberry kiss.
I put my ear against the trunk fo the tree and listened. I faced that tree squarely and kissed it firmly. To this day, I can smell the smell of the bark - a sweet, woody smell - and feel the ridges in the bark, and taste that distinctive taste on my lips."

The kiss tasted like blackberry, of course. Later Sal falls in love - though she doesn't use that word. She simply shares a blackberry kiss with the boy. I think that the blackberry kisses are Sal's expression of love; the taste of blackberries is a reminder of her mother, who she loved, and later she connects it to the boy she also falls in love with. The idea seems romantic and slightly abstract - I can't capture it here. I guess what I wanted to say is that everyone has a kind of Blackberry Kiss. They're the little actions or phrases or expressions that capture love for us, immediately recognizeable and perfectly unique. They're a thing two people share, even if they take it for granted or don't always notice it. They're little things - smiles and tiny presents and the way she brushes his hair out of his eyes. Blackberry Kisses take a second to happen, but they take a lifetime to forget. And maybe, like wild blackberries, they can be bittersweet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Poly Ticks

This post is pretty late, so I assume everyone's heard the news regarding ANWR.

"An attempt to require automakers to increase fuel economy to a fleet average of 33 miles per gallon over the next decade was defeated 254-177.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New York, a co-sponsor of the auto fuel economy proposal, said it would have reduced oil use by 2 million barrels a day -- more than could be taken from ANWR -- by 2020. He described as "a bunch of nonsense" claims by opponents that the increased fuel economy would cost the auto industry jobs, force consumers to buy smaller cars and reduce automobile safety."

Hooray for them quoting a Republican as being FOR the defeated fuel economy proposal... that goes against stereotype. But the fact that increasing fuel economy is not considered important enough to pass is ironic. After all, isn't the whole point of drilling in ANWR to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Oh, but of course - we're only seeking to increase dependence on our own oil. I almost thought that someone had come up with a sensible idea and wanted to reduce America's dependence on a non-renewable, heavily polluting energy source.

This protest of the bill seemed like a good idea at the time. Sign it and pass it on, if you like.

I suppose if I really do become a teacher I'll at least be able to identify with the kids...

I randomly turned on the television today, just to see if I could find anything of interest. The university supplies cable TV with 30-40 channels including Discovery, Sci-Fi, MTV, CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX, ESPN, TBS, TLC... you get the picture. After half an hour of flipping through every channel six times over, the only thing that caught my eye was...

Arthur. Yep, that's right. The PBS kids' show that I've been watching since I can remember. CNN was harping on the Pope's latest bowel movements, or something similar; Discovery was doing something History-channel like with lots of interview segments and no explanation whatsoever. So I turned to something that will never go bad: PBS, with its daily dose of moral, sensible, educational shows like Arthur, ZOOM and Reading Rainbow (Yay!).

I know I should be putting the finishing touches on my thesis paper but I'm more interested in everything else there is to do... like stare out the window, take a nap and maybe read something.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Someone save the children...

...from me.

I want to stomp and scream and throw things and slam doors.

This is the THIRD time I've forgotten to go to my Monday night KidsRead tutoring sessions. Tonight was the last night, and it was the picnic, which I wanted to go to - no, which I said I'd go to. I am also dangerously close to not having enough service hours right now. I love volunteering, and I'm not doing it only for the hours, but the fact remains that HC scholarship recipients have to do a certain amount of community service hours each semester. And I was too busy to volunteer last semester. Thank gods for long TOST tech nights... and I CAN NOT say I was that busy that I couldn't set aside three hours today. I was just that forgetful.

I made a basket - a fucking HANDMADE basket - (with candy in it!) for the little boy I worked with. I spent time on it, I was proud of it. I wanted to hand it to him and thank him for being such a good student. He would have smiled at me and maybe taken a piece of candy out and put it in his mouth and gone to show his parents the little gift and I would have felt pleased that I'd done something right.

This morning at 9:30 I reminded myself that it was Monday. I put the basket on my dresser, where it was at eye level and I surely wouldn't forget it! This morning I looked at the basket, moved the basket closer to my LOTR calendar and thought: "I'm going to the picnic tonight!"

This evening at 9:50 I looked at my computer clock, looked at my calendar, and nearly went looking for a large, durable surface to dent my skull upon.

I swear to Japan and back I'm going to be the world's worst teacher. I'll forget that it's Monday and I have a class, and I'll wander off and realize three hours later that my kindergarteners are stabbing each other with playground wood chips, as I walk innocently past the school.

I frustrate myself so much sometimes I think if I were another person, myself would kill me.

I wanted to write a long, thoughtful entry tonight, with a lot of important-looking links to various things concerning one of the few topics I've had on my mind of late. But I have laundry to do and a thesis paper to continue revising, and I'm angry at myself again. Thought can wait.

Saturday, April 23, 2005



*sniffle* I believe I've gotten some sort of cold.

When I realized it was sneaking up on me last night I made and drank enough tea to sink a small boat, and took a vitamin and went to bed. I'm a firm believer in the power of tea to fix everything ice cream doesn't (and a few things it does).

Maybe it was the wrong kind of tea. Despite getting only nine hours of sleep my body refuses to let me crawl back into bed and stay there. "You slept in 3 hours already!" says my self to me, and I say "Self, you're sick. You need sleep, just go back to bed."

Maybe I'll find something to eat and make myself some more tea. Armed with tea and a good book and the Kleenex, I can get through a cold well enough. The thesis rewrite can wait until my head stops feeling like a sodden cottonball (heavy and fuzzy at the edges).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

...For I Have Sinned

I have a confession to make.

A terrible, horrible confession. You'll probably want to run away screaming when you read it.

I mean it. It's that bad. Those with weak stomachs should immediately stop reading.

...I said stop. Now.

But since you're still here, I might as well get this over with...

...are you sure you want to hear it?


I spent half my week's laundry money on another plant at the Earth Day celebration.

There, it's out. Now you all know what a horrible person I am. Go on, throw dirt. I know you want to.

It's an Angel Wing Begonia (and yes, I think it's the 'crackling rose' variety) and it just jumped up and down and yelled my name when I walked by it... in a plant-like, rustling in the breeze kind of way. I'm excited; this is another bit of green to add to my miniature jungle. ^_^

Two weeks till I get out of here, about two months till camp starts. Three months till one year with Rick. Slightly over four months until I'm back here again. o.o ..eep? A year till I head for Mexico. Three years to graduation, if I finish on time. Lots to look forward to... and lots to get ready for. Life moves too fast at times.

Oh yeah... and this.
Discuss? (I might do another entry on it, if I ever get around to it).

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Yes, well.

--This is a really self-centered entry. It's probably not worth your time.--

It's been a relatively productive day, as far as most of my days go, but I don't really feel as though I've done much. I just went about my tasks this morning, got everything done by 4:30, even with a long break to read blogs, and went to sleep until just before the evening's excitement began. TOST meeting, a foreign film, and home to write my critique so I can turn it in tomorrow... right? No. I hadn't talked to Rick all day - he was 'online' but not there, and didn't reply to me on msn. When I walked in I sat down to start typing and Rick signed on, and then the phone rang - it was Dad/Jamie. I chatted with Jamie a little bit. She made Seuss meow into the phone for me,and then she hung up to call VQ. I don't know why, but hearing that cat made me cry... I guess I'm homesick still. When I got off the phone Ellisa was online, and we talked but I wanted to do my homework so I told her I was going. Rick talked, too... but not long. He hasn't had time to chat for long periods of time lately, being at Jane's and all. I'm glad that he's enjoying his break but at the same time there's some part of me that's being very clingy and wants him to drop everything and come back here.

He's coming on Tuesday. I should be glad that I get the day off and have the whole day to spend with him and won't have to worry about homework or classes or anything really terribly important... And I am. I'm incredibly grateful that it worked out this way. I just wish Tuesday would get here faster. And that my article for the Penn would write itself, along with the fine arts critique I'm now putting off. I can't find anything to say about the film. I guess it was good, but I just don't have much of an opinion on it, and I didn't take notes, and I don't care. It's just a film. I saw it, I picked up on a line they censored, I noticed that it actually had a plot.

The people next door in Mara's room are loud, again. Cheryl's over there - I just heard her laugh. She has a really unique laugh. Really deep, really loud, really annoying at 11pm. Damn them all. They're laughing over something, talking loudly, ignoring the fact that it's 11 on a Sunday and they might just have neighbors who are actually working or trying to sleep. Of course, they wouldn't think. 'Considerate' is not a word most people remember these days, unless they want someone else to remember it for them. I wonder if banging on the wall will help.

It's almost funny. I'm not tired, really, because I slept for twelve hours last night plus two this afternoon and only left my room a few times. It's not as though I've had an exhausting day, even though Saturday sucked a lot of energy. I'm just in a bad mood from missing family and friends and wanting school to end already and knowing how much more work I have to do before things will be over and knowing I can't reach out for anyone right now, because who would listen, and what would I say anyway?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Too far?

I have the urge to use this blog like a journal today - personal, private and meant only for my eyes, maybe for Rick's. Of course that's not a good idea, but I'm less put off by the fact that it would be opening myself up than I am by the fact that I'd probably offend someone and bring down some consequences I don't want to deal with.

I don't mind telling people about myself. It's funny. Jane has called me mysterious, which implies that I don't give away much information... and yet I will gladly sit down with someone I hardly know and play Truth until they've found out my "deepest" or "darkest" secrets. There are few things I am unwilling to tell a friend; there are few secrets I keep to myself. I've found that openness and honesty tend to drive away false friends and draw true ones closer. I'm sure I go too far sometimes, though.

So I question: How far is too far? How open, honest, or blunt can I be before I demolish everyone's ideas of tact and privacy? I know how to use tact and when to be quiet, I won't open myself needlessly most of the time. But when I do, nobody tells me when to shut up. I know that my friends don't want to hear all the inane details of my weekends with Rick, however wonderful they might be to me. I know that some of my imaginings are better left unsaid and that some comments might have too strong a bite. But I still love walking the line and sometimes I jump (or fall) over it.

I respect others' need for privacy, and I understand the necesity of keeping some parts of yourself hidden - I do not think anyone knows everything about me, as open as I may be. And incredibly enough, I'm a shy person in most situations. But some part of me just wants to open up and yell things at the world.

Is it a terrible thing to delight in raw, unfiltered truth (or opinion) as far as one can do so? Tact is fun on occasion, and useful in social situations, I know this. But bare truth can be much more powerful. And as long as I speak plainly, I know everyone understands. If only politicians would be so direct.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I have...

...a spider in a jar. This is presumably the same little beast who so surprised me a few days ago. She (I assume her gender) is a little golden-brown thing a little bigger than my thumbnail, legs and all. She's very active, crawling 'round and 'round the jar with its little notebook on top. I've been watching her, curiously enough. I plan to take her outside in a little while, but I want to know what kind she is first. No sense in letting a learning opportunity go to waste, even if it's the creature I fear most.

Well, I fear them when they're loose, at least. Having one captive isn't quite so bad. She might be spinning a web there in the jar... It's amazing what the little things can do. She doesn't appear to be of the poisonous variety, as far as I can tell. There's been no pictures or description matching what she looks like online. As a matter of fact, I can't connect this little one to any family of spider on the websites I've checked.

Anyone know anything about spiders? She's about 1/2" long (as best I can measure through a jar) with a slender light white/yellow abdomen and a slightly darker thorax. There are no clear markings on her abdomen from what I've been able to observe. Her legs are thin and hairless, with dark brown tips. I think she's a web-spinner and not a hunter because she looks like she's building a web in the jar. Now that I can't figure out what she is I'm even more curious. I know she's not a wolf spider, an orb-weaver or any of the better-known poisonous types. So far her closest cousins seem to be funnel-weavers, though why one of those would be in my room is beyond me, I've never seen them indoors before. I think her eyes are arranged in a row of four on the top of her head and another row/group lower down. Bah. I'm interested but I don't dare get a closer and clearer look by actually opening the jar.

I'm neglecting my homework and don't really mind. Yet again, there are more interesting things to do and more excuses to put off what should have been started hours ago. I do a silly thing when I'm avoiding a big project: I take on several little ones and work on all of those. On Thesis Week, I manage to clean my room, wash my dishes, do my laundry (folded and put away nicely!) and do myriad other things both domestic and insane before I touch the keyboard with thoughts of working on the original project.

And when the deadline looms like a tsunami, I work. I think I work well under pressure, because so far I’ve gotten A’s on my thesis papers.

Blogger died as I was trying to post this, so I went down to let Goldilocks out. When I went down to let her out I discovered that her kin are regulars here, they are indeed not poisonous, and nobody quite knows what they are, but they like the bathrooms because it's warmer in there. Makes sense... I think I saw one in the shower once.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

It's raining!

The first spring rain of the year! - in my opinion anyway, because it's the first warm rain we've had.

I'm excited. If it lasts more than a few minutes I'm going to go play in the puddles :) and run barefoot again. I went barefoot most of yesterday with the exceptions of walking around classrooms and getting food, and it was wonderful. The weather was summerlike and today several of my classmates are sporting reddened skin. It's good to see everyone cheering up after all the midwinter depression that went on around here.

This morning I got quite a scare. I was holding an open cup of berry applesauce in one hand and had just sat down and licked the lid when I felt something crawly making its way up my back. Naturally, I reacted by jumping and squealing and brushing at the unseen assailant... and splattering the full cup of applesauce on the carpet. Whatever my mysterious morning visitor was, it disappeared somewhere and I haven't seen it since. Being arachnaphobic I simply assume it was a spider, likely one of the quick, jumping kind that scare me the most. It felt like one.

I remember that when I was a little girl I would actually burst into tears at the sight of a spider. We lived in an old house back then and creatures with more than four legs were a regular occurrence. We had an ant colony just outside the kitchen, we had ladybugs around the windows and of course there were spiders in every corner. The other bugs were just bugs - they didn't bother me in the least, except the time I found a silverfish in the bathtub. For a while, I actually ate the ants on the sidewalk. I don't remember why, I simply recall one sunny day that I spent crouched over a scurrying group of ants, trying to pick them up and happily popping them into my mouth. My sister refused to join me, though.

There is one day I recall very strongly and have often used as proof that I have gotten much better about dealing with spiders. I have no idea how old I was and vaguely remember that it was summer. The details are still clear, though. I had seen a spider in my bedroom earlier in the day and while I had daddy take care of it for me I was still nervous and a little upset. Less than an hour later I was in the kitchen when another one, this one a little larger and far more scary, appeared seemingly out of nowhere. It looked like it could leap at my face - and was going to. Not only did I scream and jump away from it as it scurried up the wall in search of a meal, I broke down entirely. Even after dad had chased the spider away it was a long time before I stopped crying and calmed down enough to look around again. The utter terror I experienced then has largely disappeared but I still get nervous whenever arachnids are involved.

I haven't been supremely jumpy in a while. In fact, when I was at camp last year I got to the point where I would barely start if a spider hurried across my hand. I guess not having them around (or at least not having them visible here in the residence hall) has sharpened my sensitivity to them. I've only seen two since I got here and one of them was probably dead. I didn't bother poking it to find out. Anyway, the spider/ant/imaginary beast from under the bed put me on edge and I had to sit down facing the opposite way a few feet from where I'd been just in case it decided to come out of hiding. I dislike being woken by creepy crawlies.

Maybe if my curiousity stops cowering in the corner I'll go look among my food supplies, as that's the most logical place for it to hide. But I'll go cautiously, with many pauses and starts and careful movements, and I'll carry a weapon in case squishing is necessary. Ew, bug guts on the carpet.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


I'm going to a concert tonight. I'm not going because I know any of the bands, though. I simply volunteered to write up the review of the concert for Friday's issue of The Penn. It's sponsored by a group called Alternative Press and according to the people who've heard of the bands, they lean toward emo. Well, as another Penn writer said on Monday: "as long as they're not screamo." If it was screaming death-metal I'd have said no, but I think I can handle excessive unprovoked angst for a few hours.

The newspaper is hiring for next fall, too. Being a writer (or a hopeful writer, as this is my first assignment that I'll be able to actually get started on) I am automatically in the running for a position and will be considered a little ahead of other non-writer applicants. That's good, because The Penn pays writers well and probably has good wages for its full time staff as well. Besides, a career in journalism might be fun :) It will certainly give me a chance to exercise my writing and social skills.

Right. So I was talking about the band(s). There are five of them performing, which means short sets and lots of pauses to change them. A Google search for Straylight Run, the headlining band, reveals that yes, they are indeed emo. Oh, joy. The song titles on their music page are appropriately angst-ridden, and the music is delightfully soft. There's a girl in the band, too. That rocks.

I'd best go look up the other bands so I can get ready for what I'm jumping into tonight ^_^