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Found at the top of a page of Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, written in pencil: “May I wear your white gloves tonite?” I wish I knew the story behind that. I sometimes love things written in the margins of books even as I wince at such desecration. In fact, I wrote a whole paper about a poem dedicated to such things.

This article has been all over the news, but it’s still intriguing.
My brother is hilarious.
Completely ludicrous.
I love these commercials.
I would never want to be blind, but if I were…
Pretty much disgustingly cute.
Ten years ago, I would have been begging to see this movie, and as it is, I still think it’d be cool.
Heh.

There are some incredibly unfortunate amongst the members of the country club. There are two (two!) women named Pudge, then there are Toody, Ruffles, Bunny, Twink, Cissie, and Kitty. I am not making these up. And some of these ladies have normal names, and they go by these nicknames on purpose! I don’t understand.

There’s one jolly older man at work who says “Good morning glory!” to me every morning at work, which I think is very sweet. I have to admit, however, that every time he says it, I can’t for the life of me figure out how to punctuate the phrase.

Speaking of work, I had another hilarious conversation the other day! It went like this:
Lady: “Do you know where there are any swamps with alligators near here?”
Me: *pause* “No.”
Lady: *persistently* “Well do you know who would?”
I transferred her to golfcourse maintenance for lack of anywhere better (they’re going to hate me down there) and laughed and laughed.

I had this crazy dream the other night that I was a guy (very John Crichton-esque) stranded and bumming around this filthy, rough border planet. It wasn’t set in any scifi universe I know of. This was a very seedy place…I was keeping my eyes open. The main export on this planet was a particular breed of animal very similar to an eyeless sheep. Supposedly they were blind, but I saw one skitter away when a man began absently fiddling with one of the cattle prod thingies he had, so I suspect they had radar of some kind or some kind of rudimentary eyesight after all. It was kind of hard to tell one end of the animal from the other, so the farmers who raised them painted circles on the head, about where the eyes should’ve been. It was all very weird…

After work, most days I go to pick up Dad from work, and I usually have to wait a few minutes. There are wild blackberries growing at the edge of the parking lot! We used to pick berries every summer in Indiana, and I do miss being able to go outside and pick as much as I wanted. Everyday I’ve been picking them at Dad’s work, and they’re all warm from the sun. Sometimes I think I get funny looks from other employees (I’m still in my work clothes, usually a skirt and heels), but it’s quite excellent.

The other night, Mom called to tell me to get some heavy winter gloves and bring them out to the barn. When I got there, they were chasing the cats away from a good-sized bird. Dad took the gloves and took the scratching, pecking creature out to the woods (no gratitude, I tell you). But the odd thing was that I said, “Oh, it’s a nighthawk!” Then I couldn’t figure out how I knew that, and I figured I must’ve been wrong. But I googled it, and I was right. So what I don’t get is how I know random bits of information. I’m always blurting things out and then not remembering how I know them. Is that from reading too much? I was reading Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and knew what was going to happen for a big chunk of it, even though I don’t remember reading it. Is it really possible for me to have read so much that I’ve forgotten almost all of it, just leaving enough to give me obscure answers when I need them? That’s creepy.

Speaking of Rebecca, it was very interesting. I don’t know if one could call it “good,” exactly…there was a presentation last year comparing it to Jane Eyre, which I still don’t get the point of, but it’s good in the same way as a lot of the books in the literary gothic class were. Fascinating but not quite admirable, if you know what I mean. Murder is bad, kids. Don’t try it at home, no matter how nasty the person may be.

Shirley by Bronte was good, although a little baffling until I realized it was mostly written as a statement about women. The title character doesn’t show up until almost 200 pages in, and even after that, she’s not exactly the main character. But she *is* much more like a heroine of today, so much so that you don’t at first realize what a shocking character she must have been back when the book was written. I think this would be one of my favorite books if I were born in 1829. My 1829 self would be quite inspired; my 1987 self just finds it mildly interesting. It’s kind of like when I read The Phantom Tollbooth and knew that my 10-year-old self would have been madly in love with it, but my 20-year-old self just finds it mildly entertaining. Sigh. I need a time machine.

I read The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which I was at first a bit ambivalent towards. I think this was because of my antipathy towards most frame narratives; Heart of Darkness is practically all frame-narrative, in its way. But psychologically it was quite interesting, and by the end it had provoked all kinds of thought. I’m reading Lord Jim, also by Joseph Conrad, and the frame narrative doesn’t bother me nearly as much so I must be getting used to it. Lord Jim is utterly fascinating thus far, and I’ve already written out some quotes to keep.

I was talking with a friend about poetry today, and Victor Hugo came up. This is my favorite poem by him, and also my favorite translation of said poem. I think it’s inexpressibly sad how a translation can completely ruin some foreign literature…

Words, words, words! Sometimes I am overwhelmed with what I can do with every little word, and I find it astounding that we aren’t all so shocked and horrified by this loose-cannon power that we aren’t all silent the whole time. And then, what’s worse, we even write down these explosive things, leaving them to be stumbled across by others in the future! And yet, at the same time, I could not live without them, and I want to write these dangerous little things for a living! Truly perilous, indeed…

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The phase continues, obviously.

I finished Villette. Good gravy. It’s a wonderful book, but the author toys with the reader up to the very last half of a page. I’m very tempted to spill the whole thing, so I just won’t talk about it, but it’s very, very excellent. Jane Eyre is still #1, though! I’m starting Shirley, also by Charlotte Bronte, and I must share one of the first paragraphs with you immediately:

“If you think, from this prelude, that anything like a romance is preparing for you, reader, you never were more mistaken. Do you anticipate sentiment, and poetry, and reverie? Do you expect passion, and stimulus, and melodrama? Calm your expectations; reduce them to a lowly standard. Something real, cool, and solid lies before you; something unromantic as Monday morning, when all who have work wake with the consciousness that they must rise and betake themselves thereto. It is not positively affirmed that you shall not have a taste of the exciting – perhaps towards the middle and close of the meal – but it is resolved that the first dish set upon the table shall be one that a Catholic – ay, even an Anglo-Catholic – might eat on Good Friday in Passion Week. It shall be cold lentils and vinegar with oil; i shall be unleavened bread with bitter herbs, and no roast lamb.”

I ask you, how can a book be otherwise than magnificent with a beginning like that? I’m firmly in love already. The delciousness is augmented by the appearance of the book itself: it’s 4 inches X 6inches, dark blue, with a seal stamped on the front and tiny gold lettering on the side. The print is eye-blurringly tiny, there are well over 600 pages, and it’s pretty much a solid little block of happiness.

Our library still uses the old style of cards-in-each-book, so you can see when the last person before you checked out the book, which I rather love because it’s so interesting to imagine what September 27 2000 thought of the work. But! Sadly, many books are underappreciated. Villette hadn’t been checked out in 15 years, poor thing. Once I stumbled across a tiny book of Old English poetry (translated, of course), that hadn’t been checked out in FORTY YEARS. Yep. 1964. Why don’t more people love the books I love?

Hey, today is Friday the 13th! I was tempted to find a black cat, run under a ladder, and break a few mirrors, just to spite superstition, but I couldn’t find a cat, and it just didn’t seem worth it in the end.

Yesterday at work there was some sort of…thing…in the ballroom (yeah, there’s a ballroom at work. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that). Anyway, beforehand, they were practicing some little song on the piano that they were going to play after the luncheon. It was a very repetitive piano piece, and some little girls were singing the words. “Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus.” Ok, I suppose this was supposed to be sweet. Maybe it was, and I’m just a crotchety, grumpy old woman. But they sang this over, and over, and over, and over, and over and over and over andoverandoverandover again. The same phrase. Nonstop. For at least 20 minutes. I was going to kill something or gnaw on my desk or something. It was the most irritating, nerve-grinding experience I have had the displeasure to go through this year. Finally! Blessed silence as the little girls trooped off to go do something quieter. BUT THEN. People arrived, the luncheon began, and those same confounded little girls marched up to the piano and sang the whole miserable, monotonous song again. I’m not going to lie to you, that desk was looking tasty. But everyone lived.

This is pretty adorable. Apparently little Keepon was quite the internet rage, and I missed it, but that’s ok. We’re friends now.

Greetings! Yeah, don’t get used to all this posting, it’s a phase.

I’ve been feeling inexorably alive lately, and I believe it’s because of all the Carl Sandburg I’ve been reading. It’s nigh-impossible not to feel terribly alive when reading Carl Sandburg’s poetry.

I went to the dentist yesterday (no cavities, whee!) and a funny thing occurred, which I shall tell you of. They had to do the panoramic x-ray thing (agh, radiation, stop it!), which was fine, and then the hygienist was looking at the x-rays, and she exclaimed, “You have such photogenic bone!” She proceeded to rhapsodize over my jawbone and sinus cavities for a good five minutes. “That is some good bone there.” So I say thank you and she cleans my teeth, and then the destist comes in and also looks at the x-rays. “Wow! That is some nice bone.” Guys, I have pretty bone. This is probably one of the weirder compliments I’ve received, right up there with the lady who said she wanted to scalp me and run away with my hair.*

Another hilarious thing! I got a call at work, and this is how it went:
Me: Good morning, Country Club of North Carolina, how may I help you?
Lady: I don’t – I don’t even know. I don’t know who I need to talk to, but – there’s a beaver on the corner of El Dorado cutting down trees like there’s no tomorrow.
Me: A beaver?
Lady: A beaver.

After I transferred her to maintenance, I hung up the phone and laughed until the girl in the office next door asked what was wrong, it was that funny. I don’t know why, but it was! And we apparently have extremely destructive beavers running rampant all over the place, and we’ve been trying to trap ’em.

I finished The Once and Future King by T.H. White, and the last 200 pages (it’s like 680) were even better than the preceding ones, and it was grand, and you should all read it. It’s cool from an Arthurian point of view, but also from a psychological and philosophical one. So make of that what you will and go read this book.

Also! I am currently reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte (author of Jane Eyre, and you better have known that or you have no business reading this live journal. I’m only partly kidding here). It is VERY good so far, and if I hadn’t given previous allegiance to Jane Eyre, I might be tempted to call this my favorite Bronte book. The jury’s still out…

Iron and Wine is a perfectly marvelous band. If you’ve not heard his songs, you need to rectify that situation.

*This is a true story.

The above Flannery O’Connor quote is so true as to be frightening.

Oh, a warning, this will be VERY LONG. I’ve been saving up ideas.

There’s a note on the counter that says, “Steph, oil the cats.” It means the stuff you put on their backs to keep off fles and whatnot, but I get the best mental image of Dorothy-me oiling Tin Man-cats with a tiny oil can.

I am all the way to the Is in my giant musiczilla project! Idlewild is very good.

I defy anyone to watch to the end of this video and not have a smile, at least on the inside, by the end of it.

Everyone in the world has pretty much seen this already, but seeing as how it may be the coolest thing on the internet, you get to see it again.

Seen while studying the prefective active tense of *mumbles* Elvish: “Do not mutate the dipthongs!” I guess you had to be there. Speaking of Elvish, I was studying Tengwar and was utterly confused. I had a new chart, and I just couldn’t see how it made sense to have the alphabet arranged in the way it was, until I suddenly realized, with a forehead smack, that it was in ENGLISH alphabetical order. I’ve been playing around with Elvish more, and looking over my old vocabularies is like slipping into a comfy pair of socks, all worn. I know the feel of the language still, and that makes me glad.

Found on a roster at the country club: Stewart Little. I do wonder if he was whiskers.

There is someone I dislike who has, from the first week of our acquaintance, called me Steph. Steph is completely reserved for good friends, people I know well who know me well, and to be called so by someone I am constantly gritting my teeth around feels entirely too familiar and very distasteful. *Victorian sniff*

Oh, such books as I have been reading lately! Cut because this will go on for pages!

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

my read shelf:
Stephanie Ricker's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

A Storytelling