You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2008.

We now have an official date for moving into the house/moving out of the apartment! We have to be out of the apartment by July 20th, so by extension we must be completely moved into the house by then. We’re making serious headway, but everything just takes so long…

I’m working on a positively mind-numbing, soul-warping project at work, typing up all of the legal documents related to the club property covenants and restrictions. The file is at least 4 inches thick, and I’ve been typing for ages. Most of the stuff is from the 60s, and I’m not quite sure why this has to be done now, but ah well. I realized I was going a bit loopy when I was typing something about how the buildings must be approved “according to the Declarant’s restrictive covenants” and instead I typed “according to prophecy!” It sounded much more interesting that way…

I’m getting a little miffed about my hair. Not my hair specifically, I like my hair very much, but about people telling me what to do with it. In two days I’ve had four people lecture me on how I need to either A. cut it and donate it or B. cut it and sell it, all of which after telling me it was very beautiful (so I should get rid of it, apparently). One woman was extremely adamant about it, implying I was selfish to keep it when “so many women have lost all their hair. Like my friend, she had six wigs. Six! You could get three from yours at least! You need to cut it.” I’m not exaggerating. I just smiled and said “Maybe I’ll do that,” which isn’t a lie…I may do anything. I may start a restaurant in Texas that specializes solely in honey-derived foods. It’s highly improbably, but it may happen. I just find it odd, though, that people feel entitled to order me to do various things to my hair. It’s attached to my head: it’s a part of my body, not yours! Leave it alone! I don’t mind opinions or input, but I *do* mind feeling pressured.

What books have I read this week, you ask? I’m glad you enquired! I browsed through a collection of essays edited by Frye on Myth and Symbol, another edited by Campbell on Myths, Dreams, and Religions, read/browsed Frey’s The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, and perused a volume of essays collected by Bloom on The Lord of the Rings. Incidentally, Bloom lost huge amounts of cool points; in his introduction he blasts Tolkien and LotR and was apparently so bored he could barely get through The Return of the King. Oh, Harold. I held you in such high esteem. The other scholarly books were interesting but not astoundingly so. I may have just gone through them too quickly, though…I need a little break from all the academic reading on top of the legal mumbo-jumbo, methinks.

Right now I’m reading The Heaven Tree trilogy by Edith Pargeter. It’s a lovely 900 page omnibus edition, and I do so love enormous books. Anne Elizabeth spoke VERY highly of it, although I must say so far it’s only so-so. Granted I’m only 200 pages in, it has time to improve.

I must tell you a hilarious-now-but-not-at-the-time story (a large percentage of my life consists of these moments, which makes for hilarity in looking back but a good deal of woe in the present). Our van died, as you know, and we were in the process of buying a new car (which was successfully concluded eventually, just to let you know there’s a happy ending). After work on Monday, we picked up dinner, picked up Dad, went to the dealer, and picked out a car. We couldn’t finish things up then, but we were going to come back immediately after work the next day. This was fine, except that the van that died had better tires than the van in the land of the living, so we wanted to switch them before trading in our dearly departed Voyager. So Dad and I went to his work parking lot (where the van was) to do this, straight from the dealer. It was not quite 8:00pm when we got there, so we didn’t have a lot of daylight. Keep in mind I’m still in my work clothes, which means dress pants and heels. Dad and I started changing tires, taking all of the tires off both cars, switching them, and putting them back on, the equivalent of changing 8 tires. Finally we finished, with no light left, chewed by mosquitoes, and me with very sore feet from crouching in the heels in gravel for so long. We scrubbed up on the factory floor (perks of having an engineer for a Dad!), and climbed exhausted into the still-working van to pick up Ed from work and Mom from the house. Alas, said still-working van was no longer working. Dad and I look at each other. He realizes that the wheels must be just slightly different enough that they’re pushing on the brakes, thus preventing us from rolling, even though we’ve done this tire-switching business before on other cars with no ill effects. We sigh. Climb out of the car, take off all 8 tires again, switch them back, put them all back on. Two and a half hours after we got there, we finally finished, cleaned up once more on the factory floor (the workers were laughing at us, I’m pretty sure…we were covered in grease), and finally left that miserable patch of gravel with one working car. The funny part is, I had just been thinking that while I had a vague working knowledge of how to change a tire, I’d never actually had to do it, and it would probably be a good experience. Be careful what you wish for, children, for ye may well get it in the form of 16 tires to be changed.

I’ve been sitting on my hair accidentally a lot lately. Hair getting longer, or me getting clumsier? Difficult to say.

I have recently discovered that I love driving barefoot! I’m not sure why exactly it’s so thrilling. Part of it may well have had to do with wearing heels every day for work and being able to slip them off and drive with bare toes is quite freeing. That and it feels just slightly illegal enough to be exciting (but it’s not illegal, I checked!).

I found Claire de Lune on my computer today. I didn’t know I had it, and I’m not sure where it came from, but it was the loveliest thing that happened all day.

The other day a lady called the club and asked, “Can you see smoke from where you are?” *hastily looks out the window* “No, ma’am! Where are you that you can see smoke?” I asked, thinking there was a fire somewhere nearby. “Oh, I’m in Raleigh.” “…” “Thanks, I was just wondering if you had all this smog and smoke,” she said, and hung up. I was completely baffled until I read later in the paper that smoke from a forest fire was drifting over the state, obscuring Raleigh’s skies, but I had a good laugh before I found that out.

Ok, now I don’t usually rant in here because that’s what everyone does in their livejournal, and it’s pretty dull. So if you don’t want to hear a bunch of whining and angst, skip on down to where I ramble about books or something instead.

This is the most miserable summer that I can immediately recall. Everyone is bone-weary, stumbling around like zombies with paint brushes in our hands and drywall screws in our pockets. One evening Dad and I were carrying our millionth sheet of drywall from the garage into the house, and I looked up and realized both of us were staggering like drunks with the drywall wobbling all over the place. A full-time job is just that, full-time, and three of the four of us work 40 hours a week (fortunately Mom’s job ended for the summer a week ago). We get up at the crack of dawn to begin the process of driving everyone to work. We work all day at our respective jobs, with Mom working all day at the house, then comes the round of picking everyone up and scrounging for dinner, then going to the house to work. We drive back to our minute, grungy apartment and fall into bed far too late, to get up and do it all over again the next day. One of our vans died the other day (pushing a mini van in heels and a skirt after work, that was an experience, let me tell you), so now we only have one car to get all of us to our jobs. We spend a couple hours a day just driving since our jobs, the house, and the apartment are far apart. Everything is taking longer and costing more than we expected (which is typical, but we’re exceedingly typicality here). The thing is, we can’t let up at all; we have to get it done as fast as humanly possible so we can move in, because we’re spending money on this apartment, the pods we have in storage, the dumpster we rented, etc. etc. We can’t take time off from work to finish it because we desperately need the money that our jobs bring in. On top of that, we’ve lost Beowulf, our last pet. He ran off from the new house weeks ago and we haven’t seen him since. If it weren’t for the Sabbath, I’m pretty sure we would’ve ground ourselves to nothing by now. Friday night at sunset, we all just sleep and sleep and sleep. We’ve been at it only one month so far, but it’s been the longest month of my life. We estimate there’s another month before we can move in – hopefully it’s not more. It better not be. *ominous tone* I’m going to kill something.

Work, while not horrible, doesn’t really help matters. I’m back at the country club for what I am praying is my last summer. It’s not that it’s terrible there; it’s well-air-conditioned (hey, this is a major factor for me!), I get to read when it’s slow, and I don’t have to be on my feet all day. But I hate how I subtly change when I’m there. The snobbery worms its way into your head insidiously. For example, there’s a big to-do this weekend, some wedding hosted by a member. A co-worker came by and told me to make sure everything was all set and there were no mess-ups or clumsiness because “this is a very important person.” So I’m bending over backwards to be exceedingly polite, anticipating this person’s needs, ignoring other people, etc., when in reality they are no more important than anyone else, and I shouldn’t be treating them any differently. Some of my co-workers and most of the members completely ignore, say, the cleaning staff. And some woman who spends more in a month on clothes than the maids make in a year will come in and complain about her housekeeper’s incompetency, and I find myself clucking my tongue and murmuring polite little “oh dear” and “that’s terrible” right along with her, trying to think of just the right thing to say to make her happy and hating the polished, perfectly poised façade I’m supposed to be projecting when all I want to do is shake her hard enough to knock at least a little bit of the selfishness out of her. One of the people there is always talking about “following your heart” and the touchy-feeliest of touch-feely religion, during which she’ll switch tacks in the same breath and gossip and run down other people and criticize every aspect of their lives. Good thing I don’t “follow my heart” when she’s around; physical violence would probably be involved there, too. No one really knows me there. I talk about the topics I’m expected to talk about, the correct number of napkins and florist deliveries and whether it’s too hot for golf and whether it’s nicer to eat on the terrace or the dining room. I can’t talk about anything that actually matters. The usual conversation is the type of thing I would consider completely inane, so it tends to go in one ear and out the other unless I force myself to remember, because these things are essential to my job. I suppose it’s all very character building…two months of it is, anyway. Any more than that and I would be afraid I would find myself being changed more and more by it and losing perspective.

WELL. Enough of all that moaning. I don’t want to give the wrong impression, there are a lot of good things going on too. There’s a guy who calls all the time (not sure why…why would you need to call the club half a dozen times a day?) who, after I say my little spiel, always says “Stephanie.” Then there’s a long pause. Then he finally says who he wants to be transferred to. It threw me at first because you get stuck in the pattern of answering and transferring and it pulls you up short a bit. But now he knows me and he’ll say, “Stephanie. *long pause* Why are you still here? Do you work 12 hour shifts or something?” “I get off in a few minutes, actually.” “Good.” He’s very gruff but I think he’s nice. There are some really sweet coworkers who almost make up for the nastier ones. One lady calls me Rapunzel, and several of them always stop by my desk to say hello. The other day a lady ran by and said, “We’ve lost our nuns! If you see them, direct them this way!” Sure enough, three little old nuns came by a few minutes

It’s amazing, the dichotomy between my internal, mental life and my external, physical life. Inside I’m thinking such thoughts! In that, I almost enjoy the level of reserve I employ at work: I can hug these secret, precious thoughts to myself, and the rest of the world goes by preoccupied with their business deals and housekeepers and don’t know that that girl is anything other than an efficient little secretary. It’s a little like a super hero having an alter ego. 😛 Where are all of these glorious thoughts coming from, you ask? From the tremendous quantities of thought-provoking books I have been reading! I’ll forgive this job a lot for the simple fact that it allows me to read so much.

I’m in the midst of my preliminary research on my honors senior thesis. I started with The Essential Jung, and I must say I’m becoming a fan of good old Carl. I’m glad I read Freud first, as it’s giving me a good background helping me to understand Jung. It’s been beautiful timing, actually – I read (or rather, I read parts of) Peter Brooks’ Reading for the Plot which is also heavily based off of Freud’s writings. I’m taking copious notes on everything, and I’m not quite sure yet what I think of everything, but it’s fascinating. I also read Spiritus Mundi: Essays on Literature, Myth, and Society by Northrop Frye. I LOVE Frye! He is a hoot. Joey recommended him an age ago, and as usual I’m late on the bandwagon, but I definitely enjoy his ideas and his writing style. I’m going to read more literary criticism books by him as soon as I can get my hands on them. I read Language and Myth by Cassirer under the recommendation of Dr. Vaughan and very much enjoyed the ideas expressed therein as well. I read Myth, History, and Religion: The Remythologizing of Christianity by Kelsey but was less impressed. After a refreshing plunge into the intellectualism of Frye and Cassirer, Kelsey’s uber-Christian approach seemed rather cloying. He’s not nearly as succinct of a thinker, either, which made me impatient with his book, even though it was only 100 pages long. Still, good to get all perspectives.

I’ve been finishing a book a day on average, half academic research (which I enjoy ridiculously, to the utter puzzlement of the people around me at work all day) and half purely recreational reading. I read The Dark Is Rising (finally…Luke recommended that one, also an age ago) and am madly in love with it (I’m getting the rest of the series on interlibrary loan asap). The text is incredibly rich in history and mythology (yeah, can’t escape the mythology right now), and I think it likely that the majority of people reading it miss so many of the treasures in it. Clearly, Cooper knows her stuff. I have a feeling the book would not be so popular in Christian circles if they knew what she was drawing from; much of the book stems from very pagan, even anti-Christian sources, which is touched on so very delicately in the book that most people probably didn’t even catch it if they didn’t already know the history. The Old Ones are basically the Druids, and it makes me a tad nervous that they’ve included so many Druidic rituals under different, slight sanitized names: about the only one they’ve left out thus far is the human sacrifice angle. Somehow I don’t think slowly disemboweling a prisoner and telling the future from the way the blood and entrails fall during his death throes is quite the right fare for children’s books. The book kind of feels like some kind of rather dark, snide inside joke on one level, but that the same time it’s quite beautiful.

I read Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier under the recommendation of Dr. Waldron, and quite enjoyed it. In moderation, Maurier can be very entertaining, although sometimes her surprise endings are kind of…unsurprising, perhaps because she’s so known for them that you’re always looking for it. I read Mrs. De Winter by Susan Hill (stumbled across it quite by accident and thought I’d give it a go, since I liked Rebecca immensely), but it was quite bland – sequels to classics usually are, it seems.

I finally read the diary of Anne Frank. I know, that was a shameful gap in my education, I’m not sure why it took me so long. I always meant to read it. I think when I was very young I was going to, and my parents didn’t want me to. Our religion bears a strong resemblance to Judaism and I think they thought it would be too scary when I first found the book (9 or so). Now I wish I’d read it a bit earlier, but it was still historically interesting and fascinating on a personal level.

I read Atonement by Ian McEwan under the recommendation of Dr. Thomas, and at first I hated it so much I almost didn’t finish, which I almost never do with a book because…you just can’t do that. I forged onwards, and while I still don’t like it (it’s not a book one is meant to like, I don’t think), I am very glad I read it. It was good for me. There are moments of tremendous ugliness (which is where I almost gave up in disgust), but by the end you see exactly why they are there and how carefully crafted the novel is. That was one of my strongest impressions: how carefully put together everything was, and how the ugly moments had to be told just as they were to produce the calculated effect. It’s a very powerful book. I can’t say I recommend it, and I’m not exactly sure what I think of it, but it is impressive.

I also read This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart, also per Dr. Waldron’s recommendation (yeah, I get together and talk to my professors about books a lot when I’m at school). It was very good, and I think I’ll investigate more of her books. She has a knack for saying just enough without saying too much when it comes to conveying emotion, and I think I can learn a lot from her in that regard. Plus, the whole book is centered around Shakespeare’s The Tempest, I mean come on, what’s not to love?

I’ve also realized that it’s good for me to read contemporary fiction sometimes, even the crappy stuff…I love reading Tolstoy and Hugo and Faulkner and sometimes I forget what most popular books are like – reading purely for entertainment. Anne Elisabeth showed me the value of that last year when she brought over the most wonderful fantasy novels during paper and exam weeks: it was exactly what I needed at that time to break up the oh-so-heavy Vietnam War books and the Shakespeare, and it really is useful to read what is popular now and then. One of my professors urged me to read some Stephen King, saying “There’s a reason he sells millions of books before a new novel is even in print. You can learn a lot from writers like him.”

It took me four long, tedious days working on and off to scrape off that horrid wallpaper off of just one wall in Mom and Dad’s room. Fortunately they only put it on one wall, or I’d have run away from home by now. Besides that, we cleaned up outside a bit pulling out dead bushes and clearing brush away from the house, got rid of the nasty furniture (we’re keeping a few items for ourselves and giving anything else salvageable to the Habitat for Humanity store), ripped out the last of the paneling in the garage, living room, kitchen, and laundry room, washed down all the walls, sanded molding, painted the closets, took out a couple small walls in the kitchen, took out several cabinets and the stove and oven in the kitchen, and did a bunch of other junk I can’t immediately recall. I must say it will look very nice when it’s done, if it ever does get done. I start working fulltime next Monday, so I’ll only be working on it in the evenings now, but I think that’ll be ok. Mom’s work ends around the time mine starts, and she’s the one who’s good with painting, which is what we need now. Most of the demolition work (which they needed me for) is done, aside from pulling out carpeting. I will be helping to hang drywall and lay a stepping stone walkway in the coming week or two, however, so I’ll certainly be busy. Checking tomorrow to see if we have internet…keep your fingers crossed. I’ll backdate all of these entries if I ever get a chance to post them and return to civilization.

Went to the library today and got all kinds of wonderful books! It was grand to be back, I don’t think I’ve been there much at all since last summer. The employees still remember me, though: “She doesn’t leave us many books after she comes, that one.” Oh, I hadn’t realized how desperately I missed books. I had read all of the ones I had left unpacked and we’ve been so busy that I didn’t really think it mattered. I see now I always need to be reading or an important piece of life is missing that I don’t even realize is gone for quite a while. We went to Lowes (again) to order a bunch of stuff and I just plunked myself down in some lawn furniture and was asleep to the world for an hour. I realized afterwards I had been so deep in the book I didn’t remember anyone who had walked by or anything at all about my surroundings. Books truly are an addiction, but I’m happy to be reacquainted with them.

Today we ripped wallpaper down in several rooms (except for one room with some odd orange and silver monstrosity coating the walls that just would not come off…have to get some dynamite). We ripped down dark ugly beams in the living room ceiling, tore out most of the icky paneling in the garage, pulled out several large kitchen cabinets to be restructured later, and painted more in the Carolina room.

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.

Follow me on Twitter

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

A Storytelling