Always good to start things off with a Shakespeare quote. Macbeth, to be precise! This is going to be very, very long.

Ever noticed how ridiculously funny the words “come home” look next to each other? And yet it’s such a poignant phrase. It’s like when you’re reading a language you don’t know, and two words sound so goofy next to each other, and then you learn that it means “homesick” or something, and then you feel kind of like an uncultured 12 year old. Yeah, that happens a lot.

A livejournal community called osculations, which is dedicated to posting something lovely every day. If there’s something better than that, I don’t know what it is.
Mom says this on the news: paying it forward, Starbucks style.
Muslim Aids Jews Attacked on Subway. Wish the news reported stuff like this more often.
Did you know sloths can swim? Now you do.

Also, I don’t know if any of you watched the miniseries Tin Man on Scifi channel (er, probably not), but you should’ve if you’re any kind of Oz fan at all. I loved the books and the old movie, and thought that a “modern reimagining” was going to stink horrifically, but I actually kind of loved it, a lot. Granted, it’s a Scifi channel miniseries, so yes, it was a bit cheesy. Ok, a lot cheesy. And a lot of the effects were pretty sad. BUT! It had *so* many references and in-jokes harkening back to the movie and even the books that it was just so much fun to watch. It’s on again on the 24th starting at 5 (it’s like 6 hours for all three parts). I think that’s Christmas Eve, but that’s what VCRs were invented for. It was on the website to watch online, but alas, they took it down. Just, ah, don’t watch the trailer. It makes it look pretty dumb. :-/

We had such a grand time in Raleigh last weekend! We journeyed to Jerry’s Artarama (I am now the proud owner of new acrylics, sketchbook, and two calligraphy pens), the flea market (also proud owner of one antiqueish key), Trader Joe’s (proud owner of…food), Neomonde’s Deli, and Borders. Grand times were had by all, and the day turned out to be lovely, in spite of an unpromising beginning. Even though it had only been a week since we all saw each other, it was very good to get back together. My, but we’re a clingy group. It’s a little frightening, we should be sick to death of each other. I must admit that I’m still relishing the solitude here at home for a while, though I think I’ll be ready to go back in two weeks when we all move back into the dorms.

I have found the exact perfect temperature for running. After exams, it felt kind of like I was turning into a pathetic study/couch potato, so I’ve been alternating between running 2 miles and 1 mile pretty much every day since school let out. 50-55 degrees is PERFECT. I always have to stop running not because I’m that tired, but because I get so hot, but in this window of temperature, I feel like I can go for ages! It’s cold enough so that I stay cool but not so cold that my ears start to get chilly or you get that cold-ache in your lungs. Running is so weird. You get all into running mode and your brain does this little oooooooooooooooo thing for a while, it’s like degragmenting. And I notice so many little things. Two days in a row I could suddenly smell dog very strongly in the same place both days. There were no dogs around. What the cloves is that about? Actually, that’s something I’ve been wondering about: do other people *really* notice smells? I always know if someone has animals the minute I go in their house. It’s not that it’s dirty at all, necessarily, but I can just smell cat or dog. It doesn’t smell bad, just like a cat or dog. Now, outside dogs, I can smell them a mile away, because they do smell a little grungy, as a rule. But housecats don’t smell much at all, and once in a great while I don’t pick up on it and then I’m inordinately shocked when a cat walks in the room because I’m not expecting it. If I’m in the same room as goldfish, I can sometimes smell them too. Or, rather, it’s the food I smell, not the fish itself, I don’t think. I can usually tell if my brother’s around by smell, too, but that doesn’t necessarily take any talent. 😛

I’ve actually been working several days at the country club this break (turns out they needed help after all), which is a much-needed blessing, funds-wise. Everyone was really, really happy to have me back! I’m always kind of pleasantly surprised when that happens. I don’t know what I expect, exactly, but it’s always vaguely astonishing. However, I will say that listening to the same 12 Christmas songs, in various cheap renditions, for 8+ hours a day, several days in a row, is enough to drive anyone mad. If I hear that “silver bells” song one more time, blood will be spilled. *narrows eyes* They have the version with the Sinatra knock-off, the R & B knock-off, the whiny falsetto guy version… I may have nightmares. That’s not just me being grouchy about Christmas, either; the other people in the offices have regular music playing to drown it out, it’s that awful. Speaking of music, I’ve made it all the way to the L’s in the giant, soul-eating musiczilla project! Onward, to Ladytron!

One more quick little negative thing, then I’ll be done. My family is kind of stretched to the breaking point right now in terms of a lot of issues, so for those of you who are the praying kind, prayers would be appreciated. This blog is purely for frivolous purposes and I refuse to let reality intrude too far, so I’m not going into the nitty gritty details. Back to frivolity!

I’ve been reading all kinds of grand books lately, after my customary jaunt to the library. I finished off the Roald Dahl Sarah so kindly leant me, and then I read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, as per the recommendations of Drs. Vaughan and Wallace. It was quite good, actually, I enjoyed it. Doesn’t surprise me that the professors did, either, it’s in both of their lines. Then I read Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors. I don’t actually have many of those, but I readlly enjoy his writing style. It’s not blown-out-of-your-seat amazing, but very solid writing and very enjoyable. I can see why he sells so well. Then I read A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter. I last read this book when I was 6, and I remember loving it then, even though I was mildly annoyed that it took me a whole week to read. This time it took me half as long, reading desultorily, so I feel somewhat vindicated of my 6-year-old-annoyance. The descriptions of nature absolutely enchanted me when I read it, and the more I think about it, this may have been what inspired me to really get into the outdoors. So much of what I read at that age made terribly strong impressions on me at the time. It’s funny what things I remembered from this book…
I remember thinking the first time I read it how absolutely awful Elnora’s mother was. Now, reading it again, I grew to like her by the end of the book, but I don’t think my 6-year-old self ever did. I vividly remember a huge conflict over a white dress, which I almost thought I’d made up until I hit it around page 200. And I remember another huge conflict over the Yellow Emperor, which continued pretty much to the end of the book. I barely remember the guy in it at all…apparently 6-year-old-self was pretty uninterested in romance, which is a good thing. I remember the emotional impact the book had on me, but did I really understand what was going on with Mrs. Comstock and her husband? On the one hand, I think I did in a very vague way, but that’s kind of disturbing. I was a scary child at 6…I think I would make myself uncomfortable now if I knew myself then. No kid should know that much! How did I get away with that? Even scarier thought, what would I be like now if I hadn’t read so much? It’s like some horrible alternate universe where I’m 5 times less mature and 10 times more annoying… Anyway, the book isn’t the incredible feat of writing I thought it was when I was 6, but it was all so fresh and new to me then. The very idea of writing a book 450 pages long was astounding, and reading it was like discovering whole new worlds, even though the author was writing about my home state. I suppose Gene Stratton Porter was my first heroine; an Indiana authoress writing about twilight and violets and moths and the moon. It feels just like being home again, reading her descriptions, and it dredges up memories I didn’t even know I had from evenings at home when I was little. Fascinating…

I also read Anthem by Ayn Rand, and it was amazingly good! The only other thing I’d read by her was The Fountainhead, which I was a bit too young for at the time I encountered it. I’ll reread it again one day. Anthem is nothing at all like Fountainhead, but it packs an equally powerful punch, I think. It’s a short read (I picked it up to read a few pages while my computer rebooted and ended up reading the entire book before going back to Mini Jim), and definitely well worth it. It was going along so beautifully and poetically and terrifyingly, and then, at some point, the character stopped talking and it was Ayn Rand talking again. She does that rather a lot in her books. Suddenly you can’t help but be aware of the axe to grind. The premise of the book is the sort of idea I would have but have no idea how to execute properly. She certainly did that, only I think she took it just a couple steps too far. Her solution eventually leads to absolute selfishness; the pendulum swings too far the other way. We humans have such an awful time finding a balance in anything, it’s almost funny if it weren’t so tragic.

I’m currently working on The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, which I’ve wanted to read for years and years ever since Jane Austen’s heroine in Northanger Abbey referenced it. It’s the sort of book I would’ve devoured when I was younger; I had incredible patience for long-winded, flowery passages such as the following: “St. Aubert’s spirits were so far restored by the courtesy of his host, and the near prospect of repose, that he looked with a sweet complacency on the moon-light scene, surrounded by the shadowy woods, through which, here and there, an opening admitted the streaming splendour, discovering a cottage, or a sparkling rivulet.” She uses FAR too many commas and semi colons. It’s strange, I would patiently read 600+ pages of this as a kid and enjoy it and come away with all sorts of good things. Now it takes considerably more self-control, although I secretly still love these books… When I discover the mysteries of Udolpho, I’ll let you in on it.

I’m also working on a collection of Franz Kafka’s works, which I’ve been meaning to read for years. Every morning I’ve been reading a little bit of him during breakfast, and I must say I think it would be a good thing for everyone in the world to read a little Kafka for breakfast. He’s very good, better than I had expected for some reason; I’m not sure why I had low expectations, he’s a classic. Anyway, I read Metamorphosis, which I’m not entirely certain I understand, but I can see its worth anyway. I most enjoyed his Meditations, though. He’s very good at peering inside people and pulling out the things they’d rather not show.

I’ve been having all kinds of awesome and/or disturbing dreams lately! I’ve been dreaming about riding horses repeatedly…that probably says something. Sometimes I just take one out for a ride, to see how he goes, and then I get back to the barn and the coterie is there and we all go out riding together in our old woods in Indiana. So then I guess it’s basically a combination of all the things I miss. Another dream involved a scavenger hunt through the woods in Indiana, with Ed and some other people, I’m not quite sure who. People I haven’t seen in years, though…and I didn’t quite trust them anymore, they’d changed. They beat me at the scavenger hunt, too. *wrinkles nose* Then there was one where it was all Greek epic-y and I had to read this untameable horse in order for us all to get past…something. That was vague. But that horse could buck, let me tell you. In the dream I was trying very hard not to bite my own tongue off, my head kept snapping around. And yet it was so much fun… Dear me, I have issues.

There was one quite disturbing one in which a bunch of us girls from Campbell were polishing rocks with sand and things outside of some fortress. It was set long ago, and we were gathering nuts and sleeping in a tent, and it was too cold to be doing that. We had trouble keeping our fire going. But what was disturbing is that we were all a little afraid of the guys in our group. Not because of anything specific, we just didn’t trust them at all, which is so far from the real life that it jarred, even in the dream, so much so that it woke me up when we actually felt like we had to run away from them for some reason.

There was one exceedingly epic one in which our family was part of a caravan of people crossing some mountains. We joined them at a hotel where we had been hiding out (we were all being pursued by…someone). We had been on the run for years and years; on one of our previous times at the same hotel we had hidden things in secret compartments and now we retrieved them and joined the other hunted ones. We traveled for ages and ages, and we were all wet and tired, and it was getting to be dark. We were scaling these mountains, and those of us on foot were saying to each other how we didn’t see how the oxen could pull the wagons up it, but somehow we found the way to the top. People who had gone before us had prepared a wayhouse of sorts, and we were all so happy and grateful and exhausted to find it. The cold and exhaustion were so real…I remember going into a warm, yellow-lit bathroom and there were dry towels and hot showers and I caught a glimpse of my mud-streaked face in the mirror. VERY vivid… I think I would recognize that place if I were there in real life.

On a sillier note, I dreamed the other night that I found this amazing website with beautiful high-resolution photography. I own up, I have a terrible weakness for high-resolution pictures, which is why I needed the external harddrive so badly. In my dream I was saving tons of pictures and I woke up and was like, “Oh no! Did I save that link to favorites?” And I tried to remember the url, but I’d forgotten the last part of it. Darn.

Well, you can’t say you weren’t warned. This *was* long. I do believe that’s all…