Nine – Week Three

The semester has barely begun and already it has been unlike any other before it.

I have had trouble with classes, have been faced with an exorbitant amount of outside class work that encompasses reading and writing on a large scale, larger than I am used to. I have faced the distancing of myself from nearly all of my friends and a subsequent longing for school to simply be over. What has been most curious for me is the sense of loneliness that I feel at some point every day. While I realize that I am not cut off from anyone really, I feel as though finally, with the onset of this semester, the ties that bind young college students together are breaking, perhaps a bit before schedule in my case. I recognize that, like high school before it, my college friends will ultimately be diminished to a handful after my graduation and, once again, I will have to make a new set of friends in the world.

However, what bothers me is this expediency. Why are things progressing so quickly ahead of time? What happened to the large number of people whom I used to know, recognize and enjoy companionship with?
Of course there are those who’ve graduated over the past two years. There is the fact that I have no familiarity with the freshmen of this year. But I think more than either of these things, I am experiencing what others before me have told me about–that living off campus results in a lack of communion and interaction, not only with pre-existing friends and acquaintances, but with all persons involved in the college community. I realize that I could regain this connection, but only with a great effort and at a monetary cost (that of the dormitory housing and meal plan that goes with it).

My sole reasons for going to the campus now are educational. My visits comprise of going to classes and visiting professors. Rarely do I find time for friends amidst the running around between campus and my apartment and rarer still is it possible for me to find friends whose schedules will correspond to that small window of time. It seems that, as is wont to do, my friends have become enveloped in their own lives, just as I have mine.

The more that I observe this happening and become acquainted with the seemingly fundamental loneliness of the human situation, the more my thoughts return to a solution for this in my own life. I am constantly reminded of the lives of monks–the benefits and detriments–as well as those of the farmer, the teacher, the poet. However there is something that all of these options share, which is the inadequacy of their possibilities. I find myself exhausted and at a loss.

There are days when I wish for nothing more than to sit with a group of friends and enjoy their company, their conversation and their vitality. And there are days when I cannot be bothered with such things. Days when I have only room for love and recreation and days when thought governs me and pushes me towards study. I am at a loss and confused and now I am to go and sit to think about neurotheology? “It’s a strange world,” reader.

Published in: |on September 6th, 2010 |Comments Off on Nine – Week Three

Eight – Autumn Approaches

Good news! I went to a stamp show last week held by the Philatelic Society and sold most of my stamps for approximately $1400! That, along with the $250 I got for a few coins that I was able to sell and the $500 from the internship should cover me for Fall. Spring is another story, but I may just take the loan there. I’m trying to find a job in town, but most places aren’t hiring that are within walking/biking distance except for an on-campus job and those, notoriously, suck. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll work something out.

Last week before school begins. I’m not really ready for it now I don’t think. I wish I just had more time to read the things for the classes I’ll be auditing as I doubt there will be much time for that during the semester. I’m still half-way through Moby Dick, The Iliad, and Purgatorio, and now I’ve started and am about 1/4 of the way through The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I think that, before the week is out, I can probably finish the Narrative and maybe get further into Purgatorio. However, it doesn’t look good for the other two. That’ll leave me with my course work for my credited courses and then also the reading from American Romanticism (Dickinson, Whitman, the rest of Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and The House of the Seven Gables.) I just wish I had maybe one more week that I could read Stowe or Hawthorne in, but, sadly, I don’t.

I moved some of my stuff out of Gilmore’s place and into the apartment. I got to see the place and it’s a lot bigger with a lot more space than I thought. Seeing as I’ve only ever lived out of someone else’s (living) room before I can see why the vastness of space never occurred to me. For some reason I thought it was all a lot smaller. Now I’m just waiting on my parents to drive up the remainder of things for me sometime this week and then, on Friday, it’s off to New Jersey.

Gilmore and I are heading up to Neptune to stay with my sister (Brooke,) her husband (Jon,) and their daughter, my niece (Parker.) We’ll probably hang out with them on the Friday that we drive up, but the next day is mostly devoted to an outing with another sister of mine (Rebecca) who’s coming out from Albany with her partner (Jo) and their two children, another niece and a nephew (Ava and Tom.) We’ll all be heading over to Six Flags for a day with the family, which, hopefully, won’t be too stressful. I’ve been to Kings Dominion before with that group (and without someone to help me watch the kids) and I did just fine, so I’m thinking it won’t be a big deal. Then we’re back down here and school starts up again.

As I’m writing this, I’m also keenly aware of the time, since I plan on waking up tomorrow at 7:30 a.m., 7:45 a.m. at the latest. That will be the time that I will have to get up for the majority of my school days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and I would like to be prepared. Of course, since I’ve been staying up so late the past week and a half (and perhaps longer) I’m not even tired. Go figure.

So, that’s about all that’s going on with me lately (besides minor things, like my sudden desire for a certain Beatles poster, or my rediscovery of The Facebook Aeneid,) but I wanted to go ahead and type out one more entry, as I doubt I’ll have the time or the urge to write here for the next week and, seeing as how busy this semester is looking, I am doubtful there will be time during the whole of Autumn and into Winter. If that is the case, then I will write to you all again, perhaps on one of my breaks. Be well and happy living!

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Published in: |on August 18th, 2010 |Comments Off on Eight – Autumn Approaches

Seven – A Slight Upset

There’s been a slight change in the plans for the rest of the summer. Well, since my last post a lot has happened. We went on vacation shortly after and, as you may guess, I was thrown off my reading list. I managed to finish Twain, Mishima, Calvino and a few articles from the Philosophy of Science book. I also read maybe 100 or so pages out of Moby Dick, but not nearly on schedule. This was mainly due to the large distractions of vacation and, upon our return, the general slacking off and errands combined.

Another problem is that I am almost out of money and the clock is ticking for me to come up with it in order to pay for the payment plan at school I’ve already signed up for. By 7 Sept. I need to have $1,096.27 and presently I have only $421.45. So last night I took a trip home and obtained some valuables which I intend to begin selling on ebay starting today. The goods are mostly collectible coins and other coin things like that. If you know anyone who would like such things, please refer them to my ebay site. I tend to look up the list price of such items and sell them for cheaper and with no shipping fee.

Because of this, I need to, sadly, put my reading on the back-burner and focus on obtaining the funds to stay in school. Wish me luck.

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Published in: |on August 11th, 2010 |Comments Off on Seven – A Slight Upset

Six – Writing

I have found that one “pro” of writing on this blog is that it gets me to write, even if it only concerns the mundane and self-interested. I should prefer to be writing poetry as often as I am writing on this blog, but it seems that, when I approach writing a poem, I try to take a good amount of time to sit down and really work on it with all of my attention fixed to the craft. This blog allows me to write without feeling the compulsion to craft something as meticulously as I would otherwise. (An aside–this makes it sound as though my writings are something well crafted, but I assure you they are simply crafted. I am only fond of a very few of my poems and even less than that do I consider to have any sort of merit at all.) I finished Sun and Steel today and found myself longing for more time to sit and write amongst all my galavanting with Gilmore and reading that’s been going on lately. I suppose that’s all I have to report. Just a simple musing on my part. Be well, reader, whomever you might be.

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Published in: |on July 28th, 2010 |Comments Off on Six – Writing

Five – End of Summer Reading List

I realized today as I was speaking with Gilmore that I’ve read very little of what I set out to read for the summer. It seems that I’ve only read Beowulf, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Oedipus Tyrranus, Oedipus Coloneus, Antigone, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Pudd’nhead Wilson, The Birth of Tragedy, Le Petit Prince, James and the Giant Peach, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

This may seem like a lot, and it is, but the problem is that all except for one of these wasn’t even on my summer reading list… And many of these reads were actually rereads. Part of this is due to the class I took for the first summer session at the college that involved heavy reading in the writings of Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche while another part is because of the internship for the second session. However, the fact remains obvious to me that the main reason has been for sheer laziness.

Right now I’ve started eleven other books and am through some of them farther than others. Most of these books are for school in the fall so that I won’t have to have as large a reading load, but some are recommendations from friends and some just for fun. I intend to finish them all by the time school begins in late August. That gives me about four weeks to complete as many books as I can. I’m planning to average about 100 pages per day and read a short article from Readings in the Philosophy of Science each day as well. With this schedule, I think I’ll be able to finish all of the books before school begins, if I start tonight, which I am.

26 July – Finish Those Extraordinary Twins, Finish current chapter in Moby Dick (mid-chapter is just too “in the middle” for me), Read one article in Philosophy of Science
27 July – Finish Sun and Steel, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
28 July – Finish Six Memos for the New Millennium, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
29 July – Read to LVI in Moby Dick, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
30 July – Read to LXXVI in Moby Dick, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
31 July – Read to XCII in Moby Dick, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
01 August – Read to CXI in Moby Dick, Read one article in Philosophy of Science

02 August – Read to CXXXIV in Moby Dick, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
02 August – Finish Moby Dick,
Read to Book VI in The Iliad
, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
03 August –
Read to Book XII in The Iliad
, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
04 August –
Read to Book XVII in The Iliad
, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
05 August –
Read to Book XXIII in The Iliad
,
Read one article in Philosophy of Science
06 August – Finish The Iliad, Read to Canto X in Purgatorio,
Read one article in Philosophy of Science
07 August – Read to Canto XVI in Purgatorio,
Read one article in Philosophy of Science
08 August – Read to Canto XXII in Purgatorio, Read one article in Philosophy of Science

09 August – Read to Canto XXVIII in Purgatorio, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
10 August – Finish Purgatorio, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
11 August – Read to p. 173 in HERmione, Read to Book III in The Gay Science, Read one article in Philosophy of Science
12 August – Finish HERmione, Read to Book IV in The Gay Science
13 August – Read to Book V in The Gay Science, Read to Book III in The Odyssey, Read one article in Tragedy and Philosophy
14 August – Finish The Gay Science, Read to Book VI in The Odyssey, Read one article in Tragedy and Philosophy
15 August – Read to Book XIII in The Odyssey, Read one article in Tragedy and Philosophy

16 August – Read to Book XX in The Odyssey, Read one article in Tragedy and Philosophy
17 August – Finish The Odyssey
, Read to Tablet VII in The Epic of Gilgamesh
, Read one article in Tragedy and Philosophy
18 August – Finish The Epic of Gilgamesh
, Read one article in Tragedy and Philosophy
19 August – Read to Part 24 in Tragedy and Philosophy
20 August – Read to Part 42 in Tragedy and Philosophy
21 August – Read to Part 56 in Tragedy and Philosophy
22 August Finish Tragedy and Philosophy

And so school shall begin here. Wish me luck. I’m bad at following plans and keeping to schedules.

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Published in: |on July 27th, 2010 |Comments Off on Five – End of Summer Reading List

Four – The MTSV: Puddn’head Wilson vs CSI

Tonight Gilmore and I attended the Mark Twain Society of Virginia Dinner/Lecture at The Bavarian Chef downtown. We were advised to read Pudd’nhead Wilson before attending to enhance our understanding of the lecture, which was to rely on it while discussing fingerprinting and its evolution as a science. We didn’t really know what to expect as Terry didn’t give me much information about the event and all we had was the brochure from the host and president of the society, Vince, along with our meal choices for the evening. But the dinner would be free and we hoped for a good time.

It went off to a rough start since Vince had seated us separately so we could “meet more people” and, of course, we weren’t too keen on that idea. In fact, because I had sat down at Gilmore’s table before the lecture began to be with her as long as possible, the other guests at the table invited me over. Because they were friends of Vince I thought it would be okay since none of them minded, but before the lecture started he announced, to the whole room via microphone, “Everett, you’re in the wrong seat.” It was kind of embarrassing, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

The lecture was somewhat interesting. It was less about Twain and Pudd’nhead Wilson than it was about the history of fingerprinting, which was fine, but unexpected as this was a MTSV event. After the lecture dinner was served, Bavarian sausage platter for me (weisswurst, bauerwurst and bratwurst, served over sauerkraut) and conversation began. The lecturer was at my table, Andre, and I thought at first he would be the most interesting, but, as it turned out, he seemed sort of snobbish to me after a while of chatting with him. We discussed gender roles, at my lead, for a bit and he seemed to be on board with John Gray, though he cited Deborah Tannen as his source. The remaining people at my table were Doris(?), Claudine and Bob(?). Doris ended up being a local and thus, as could be expected, a snooty white Christian. She had a large number of infirmities that she insisted on telling everyone about over dinner, but she was very nice on the whole. Bob and Claudine had been seeing each other for a few months, but not too long. Bob was one of the co-founders of the MTSV and he knew a lot about it, telling me all about its progression. He, Andre and Vince all worked together for the government. Bob was also a very nice guy and a real gentleman (standing up each time Claudine got up to use the restroom and again upon her return, holding her chair both times). Claudine was by far the most interesting and the person I liked the most at the table. She was an interpreter working for attorneys in law cases, translating mostly Spanish, but speaking German, French, English (obviously) and some other languages I think. We discussed translation of literature and she emphasized that all translations are interpretations and that to truly grasp what an author was saying, one must read it in the original language, saying “it would be like reading Mark Twain in Spanish–you’d just be missing something.” I believe she was from Latin America originally, citing one of her favorite authors as Gabriel Garcia Márquez. As we all talked about our jobs and work and my time at school, she encouraged me to pursue an ESL program overseas or to join the Peace Corps for Education, emphasizing that I could do so with a partner if I had a girlfriend. This made me think more about what I would like to do after college and got me to reconsider my old plan of joining the Peace Corps and doing just what she had suggested. Towards the end of the evening the conversation turned towards Islam and Doris proceeded with her belief that “there are no ‘good’ Muslims”, a statement Claudine and I both jumped to refute. We both recommended she read the Qur’an and consider the parallels of Islam, not just to Christianity, but to Judaism as well. However, Doris brought up a good point: she asked why the media doesn’t report many Muslims standing up and denouncing Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists. I tried to think of Muslims who had stood up to speak out, but could really only think of Marjane Satrapi. I can blatantly see the prejudicial thinking behind this accusation, but still, it warrants more research from myself if I am going to be able to back up my own beliefs. Gilmore came to get me at this point and I gave Doris the name of a translator of the Qur’an and Claudine urged me to read a biography of Muhammad and we all said our good-byes.

I wished that the dinner had had to do more with Mark Twain and the literature than it had, but I was probably one of four people in the room full of 30 that wished that and it’s telling of our culture that this is the direction we’re moving in–pushing towards a CSI approach to even entice people into reading Pudd’nhead Wilson, a task which only eight of us did, including myself. It didn’t even seem as thought the lecturer was particularly fond of the book itself and was more concerned with the CSI work behind it. Sad to think about, but nevertheless, it was a good night where I got to know some interesting people, eat some good food (did I mention the Tiroler Apfelstrudel for dessert?) and have an entertaining evening. So, in case you didn’t have an entertaining evening (and I doubt this post did anything to amend that), here’s something else for you:

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Published in: |on July 25th, 2010 |Comments Off on Four – The MTSV: Puddn’head Wilson vs CSI

Three – The List Project

I’ve decided to embark on an experiment, a simple one: to keep a small number of lists both updated and handy at all times, for a whole variety of uses. Here are my list ideas that I think can be enormously helpful for me (and perhaps for you, reader), if kept both current and accessible. I’m going to try and keep them in a Moleskine notebook that was given to me as a Christmas present two years ago and has since gotten zero use.

List 1: “Gift Ideas”
If I think of something that would be a great gift for a person I might some day buy a gift for, I write down something like “Mom–Letters from Father Christmas.” That way, when my Mom’s birthday comes up and I realize I haven’t been paying attention for a whole year, I’ve got some backup ideas.

List 2: “Got a Minute?”
We all have things that we’d like to do, but that aren’t required of us and that have no consequences whether we do them or not. I think I will keep those things in my “Got a Minute?” list. If I have some free time with absolutely nothing to do, I’ll take a stab at something on my list. If they don’t get done, it’s not a big deal–it’s full of things I’d like to do when there’s nothing better or more important to do.

List 3: “Visual, Tactile, Auditory”
As a music, movie and book junkie, another critical list will be this one. If a movie gets suggested to me, or I’m told I absolutely have to hear a particular band or group, they go on the list. If I have some time, I’ll go through the bands and see if there’s anything good. If I’m in need of another book, I try to pull one from my list rather than just reading whatever’s nearby. These lists will be populated by friends, blogs, and any other source you can think of.

List 4: “Bucket List”
We’ve all heard of bucket lists before–lists of things to do before you die. Keeping a list of things I need to do before I die is (hopefully) going to both help me get them done and help me figure out what’s important. If “live off the land” is on my bucket list (and it is), it’s going to be worth saving for rather than settling for some sort of other property because it’s cheaper.

List 5: “Don’t Forget”
This is a list for random, momentary stuff that I’ll need to remember, but not things I’ll need to remember forever. Things like “new guy at work is Jim” or “mail taxes” will go on this list. I should probably check it periodically (perhaps every morning?) and get rid of whatever is done or that I actually know. Hopefully, after a while, I’ll remember Jim’s name and mail my taxes in and not need it on the list anymore.

List 6: “Ideas”
Anytime that I have an idea, I’ll just jot it down here. I think that having a list of my ideas is a great way to stimulate more ideas. These might turn into poems or stories or paintings or inventions or anything. The important thing will be to write them down and then review them when I have time.

List 7: “Groceries”
Obvious though it may sound, I still rarely keep a grocery list. Or, if I make one, I end up leaving it at home. The usefulness of an always-available and always-updated grocery list seems twofold: one, it gives me a place to put “Apple Juice” when I run out of Apple Juice, thus keeping me from either not having it or buying altogether too much because I couldn’t remember how much I have at home; two, it prevents me from buying things on impulse (a.k.a. Wonka Bars), or because I’m hungry (in my experience, grocery shopping while hungry can be dangerous). The odds are I’ll be eating both healthier and cheaper with this last one.I think that should be good for a start. I don’t want to get list-crazy or anything like that. Wish me luck!

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Published in: |on July 24th, 2010 |Comments Off on Three – The List Project

Two – Wonka Exceptionals

I don’t know if anyone else has seen these in their local markets, but I’ve come across fairly recently (maybe a month ago) a new brand from the Wonka Factory called “Wonka Exceptionals.” I did a bit of poking around their website and it seems that they have three kinds of bars that also come in bags of squares and besides that they have

Of the three bars, I’d rank them 1) Scrumdiddlyumptious 2) Chocolate Waterfall 3) Domed Dark Chocolate. I used to rank them in the opposite order, but mainly because I was fond of the dark chocolate and I didn’t know about the Scrumdiddlyumptious bar as Wegman’s hadn’t stocked it yet. But since then I’ve decided that the dark chocolate isn’t nearly as flavorful as it could be, though is still a good treat once in a while. The Chocolate Waterfall bar is the prettiest, what with the marbling of white and milk chocolate. But looks aren’t everything. The Scrumdiddlyumptious packs more of a punch as it’s filled with crunchy toffee, cookie and peanut bits. The chocolate almost takes a backseat and allows the peanuty flavor to play on your tongue.

What’d most charming about these is the concept of the “golden ticket” that’s going right now as a contest. The grand prize is a trip to any four cities of your choice with four friends. The mere thought of an actual golden ticket that might be inside almost makes me feel just like Charlie and Grandpa Joe anxiously awaiting theirs the night they open one in private together (though with the same disappointment thus far.)

Regardless, all of the above has caused me to go back for these chocolate bars every time I hit the grocery store, despite their cost. Nothing in my mind can beat Willy Wonka’s chocolate, even if it’s not really his.
Am I the only one who gets that feeling after seeing the movie (either one)–that the world would be a better place if he and his chocolate factory were real?

Speaking of people who make the world a better place, I think everyone should see this who hasn’t already and everyone else should watch it again.

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Published in: |on July 23rd, 2010 |Comments Off on Two – Wonka Exceptionals

One – Interacting with a Childhood

It seems that I’ve unintentionally begun a quest to make contact and interact with parts of my childhood based on snippets of memory only.

I suppose it really began just two weeks ago when Gilmore and I stayed up one night while visiting my home in Midlothian and we watched the old Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve always liked that movie, but hadn’t seen it all the way through in quite a long time, not since I was very young. I found myself responding quite differently than I had in the past, though some reactions remained the same (crying at my favorite parts,) I found that my reaction changed based on this viewing, keeping in line with my thoughts on art that developed over this past half-year.

After that movie, it seems I got to be on a Roald Dahl kick and Gilmore and I sat down to read James and the Giant Peach the following week at the park, followed by a viewing of the movie. We hadn’t read the book, either of us, and only had fond memories of the film, but upon this viewing we decided that we liked the book better and disliked the film for reasons that I hadn’t noticed at all before–the love-hate relationship between Centipede and Miss Spider, absent from the book; the absence of characters like the Silk Worm; the mechanization of the swarm of sharks from the novel into one giant shark in the film–although, I probably missed it simply because I hadn’t read the story.

Three nights ago as I was falling asleep, I don’t know what got into my head, but I remembered a story that I used to see a video of called “East of Sun, West of Moon” (or East of the Sun, West of the Moon, as I remembered it) that my mother had been particularly fond of. I started to tell Gilmore about it and how the Troll Queen (evil lady) at the end scared me as a child because of her lips and the purple smoke that surrounded her. I also remembered another story that particularly scared me, though I remembered almost nothing about it beyond that the main character had a weird nose and there was something about a ship involved.
Well I did some researching and it turns out that both of those stories come from a series called Rabbit Ears Productions and as I searched through their website, I began to remember nearly all of the stories that they had listed. I looked them up at my public library and found that we carried most of the audio cd’s of the stories and I promptly put them on hold. Since then I’ve gotten some of them and have been on the lookout for others of them. I re-listened to “East of Sun, West of Moon” with Gilmore and the scary part I remembered wasn’t as scary any more, but instead I remembered another scary part (with the West Wind.) The other scary story I remembered seems to be the most popular, though from the clip I watched from it, it still seems scary!
However, I have not been able to find any of them on DVD for cheap, though I would very much prefer to have copies of them that were audio/visual and not just audio. If anyone knows where I might find cheap copies, please let me know!

Today, I remembered an old tape I used to watch that I believe was called Follow That Fish and involved a female(?) fishing, being dragged into the water by the fish and promptly viewing hundreds of awesome fish. I don’t remember how it ended, but I’m fairly certain that it rhymed and was told more like a poem than a story. However, even with a bit of looking around I couldn’t find anything about it other than a place to buy it (on Amazon.com.) If anyone can help me find out more about it, or find a place that I could buy it for cheap (though it is rather cheap on Amazon.com and I do have a VHS player) please let me know.

That’s all for now. Enjoy this video!

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Published in: |on July 22nd, 2010 |1 Comment »
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