Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 rewind.

2010 has come to an end.  and since reminiscing is a by product of this time of year, here i go:

worst parts: worst classes ever, erin leaving, sophie getting sick, being too busy to do the things i love, learning to cook without salt, trying to find sodium-free alternatives, giving up belle

best parts: the march blizzard and building snowmen with nick, booked up with erin in the snow, booked up with gabe and tairyn, corresponding with bradbury again, rekindling old hobbies that bring me such peace, balita, thanksgiving

it's been a decent year. i know that i have it better and easier than so many others, so i'll say that despite its hardships, 2010 has been good.  so now on to the resolutions.

in 2010 i resolved to:
1) work seriously on the bradbury project. maybe even go to ohio to see the manuscripts.  i actually did do a lot of serious work on the project, but it's still not where i want it to be. breakthroughs are occurring, though.  fingers crossed that one day i'm done.
2) take care of my family and be a better daughter.  i don't know how i did here.  i tried.  that's all i can give it.
 

in 2011 i will:
1) work seriously on the bradbury project. maybe even go to ohio to see the manuscripts.
2) master the better crochet hold
3) quilt.  for real.
4) make grading deadlines and stick to them.

best of 2010 (the best things i've encountered this year)
 
books:
    * a year of living biblically - a.j. jacobs
    * letters to a young poet - ranier marie rilke        

    * the road - cormac mccarthy
    * bonk - mary roach

albums:
    * asa - asa
    * lonely avenue - ben folds
    * lungs - florence and the machine
    * music for men - gossip
    * the house that dirt built - the heavy
    * to the sea - jack johnson

movies:
    * alice in wonderland
    * due date
    * inception
    * shrek forever after
    * machete
    * clash of the titans
    * daybreakers
    * the crazies
    * the losers

2010 in review (quotes from my dear bloggy blog):
enero: "first days are hard."
febrero: "it, in a few short minutes, demonstrates everything that snow is: quiet, soft, calm, peaceful, joyful."
marzo: "i'm so proud of my best bud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
abril: ""they're starting to kick off," i muttered to myself when i discovered the news article, "i better hurry up and wrap this paper up.""
mayo: "when dr. spencer assigned madame bovary, i groaned."
junio: "belle, my wonderfully fantastic car, and i have reached a major milestone in our relationship:  100,000 miles."
julio: "i wish i had something brilliant to say about the book i’m currently reading, but the truth is, my simple words cannot express how fascinatingly beautiful and terrifying this book is"
agosto: "reality began to sink in today."
septembre: "so i consider this a shout out to all of those writers whom i thoroughly admire, who have and who continue to produce art for art's sake in spite of those irrational few who seek its destruction because they disagree with its meaning or what they consider its meaning."
octubre: "our canon, our literary history, is a motley crew, composed of writers that may have gained influence from their contemporaries and forbears, but ultimately wrote what they wanted to and how."
noviembre: "i'm reading more cormac mccarthy."
deciembre:"everything and everyone is fickle."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

fickle.

that's the word of the last month.  fickle.

fickle people, fickle students, fickle weather.

everything and everyone is fickle.  

including me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

a new hobby.

so i've recently joined a group that i think might be fun: the toy society.

basically, the premise is that you create a toy--by hand, you can't just go buy one--and give it away.  it's the way the toy is given that makes it fun.

you leave the toy with a note that says "take me home, i'm yours" and instructions for the finder to send an e-mail letting the society know that the toy's been found.  that's it.  that's all. 

you make it.  you give it away.  you may or may not ever find out what little kid gets the toy.

so to celebrate my birthday this year, gabe and i made my first drop at the denton library north branch.

it was fun to sneak around and try to hide the toy in a good spot where it would be found.  and the extra set of eyes and courage gabe provided was nice.

we picked a bright lime green chair in the children's section:

i look forward to finding out if the new owner of the toy contacts the society and to making/dropping more toys in the future.

if you want more information on the project, click here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

happy thanksgiving.

happy thanksgiving to all!  



is it just me, or does turkey have a slightly terrified look in his eyes?
so it is the time of year where we, by the very nature of the holiday's name, give thanks.

this year, more than most, i'm thankful for my family and friends.  in a year filled with chaos and change, my family and friends have been there for me.  

i'm thankful for the ability to consider viewpoints other than my own without judgment.  so many people view the world as black and white, my way or the highway.  i see it in shades of grey--my way, but also others.  i'm thankful that i was given the ability to see the world this way.

i'm thankful for the written word.  books are my life, my lifeblood.  without them, i would have no career, no hobby, no beauty and peace.

i'm thankful that i haven't had to endure any pilgrim/indian discussions this year, thereby causing me to jump on my soapbox.  i think the rest of the world is thankful for that, too.

what are you thankful for this year?

Monday, November 15, 2010

and thus it begins....

and with this pie begins baking season.  the season in which i continue my utter disdain for cream pies and make them anyway to please everyone else.  

the season where the grocery store and i will become friends best buds.

the season where i will find a million recipes i want to try, yet only make a few.

and so it all begins.

in fact, as i type this, there is dough rising in the kitchen.

it's a fact, ready or not, the holidays are here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

this just in...

i'm reading more cormac mccarthy.

we'll see how this goes.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

it's all hallows eve...


may your haunting be well and your trick or treating be merry.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

changes in opinion.

i'm rereading bloom's western canon.  don't ask me why, but one day i was like "bloom.  hmmm.  i loathe him.  he's my arch-nemesis.  i should see what he has to say about whitman."  so i picked the book up and read some.  then some more.  while i mostly disagree with him in most areas, i did finally find one thing on which i agree:

"There has never been an official American literary canon, and there never can be, for the aesthetic in America always exists as a lonely, idiosyncratic, isolated stance."

my world lit students are nearing the end of the 19th century, and with that end comes study of more american lit.  they've struggled connecting the ideas found in the poetry of emerson, thoreau, whitman, poe, dickinson, twain, and dunbar with the european poets and time periods they've studied before.  i think this issue of connection stems from the "lonely, idosyncratic, isolated stance" that bloom has touched on.

our canon, our literary history, is a motley crew, composed of writers that may have gained influence from their contemporaries and forbears, but ultimately wrote what they wanted to and how.  they broke molds, established new norms, and pretty much did what they wanted--damn the consequences, personal or otherwise.

i have never considered myself a fan of american literature, but i definitely can say that i have a growing respect for it and its idiosyncrasies.  i have grown to love whitman, dickinson, jewett, chopin, wharton, and dunbar.  i can add them to my very short list of american favorites: poe, bradbury, vonnegut, james, hemingway.  
as i continue teaching the literature of my native country, and therefore reading it closely, i hope this trend continues. 

vonnegut called himself a man without a country, and for a very long time i felt the same--a student of british literature displaced by place and time, restless when forced to consider my own country's work.

now i am better able to turn towards it, embrace its uniqueness, and appreciate it for what it is.  i have my country.  and others.

all of this because of harold bloom.  go figure.

post-script:  i still abhor mr. bloom.  i may now be a girl with a country, but some things will NEVER change.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ban censorship, not BOOKS!

 it's banned books week.  being a book lover, avid reader, and general appreciator of civil liberties like free speech, i feel it necessary to stand up for books, especially this week.

john milton, a very complex man with a lot of influence in puritan-ruled england wrote what i consider to be one of the best tracts against the censorship of text that i have ever read.  it was quite revolutionary in its day, especially considering that he was basically speaking out against his best friend, leader, and fellow puritan oliver cromwell.  milton's aereopagitica can best be summed up in these simple lines from it:

"And yet on the other hand, unlesse warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life."

ironically, milton's text was censored.  go figure.

so i consider this a shout out to all of those writers whom i thoroughly admire, who have and who continue to produce art for art's sake in spite of those irrational few who seek its destruction because they disagree with its meaning or what they consider its meaning.  milton, solzhenitsyn, zola, balzac, nabokov, lee, whitman, and especially bradbury:  thank you for the contributions you have made to our world.  we will read them happily.

just for kicks, here's a very brief and not at all inclusive list of books that have been banned both here in the US and abroad at some point in time:

1984 by George Orwell
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis   
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Areopagitica by John Milton
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Blubber by Judy Blume
Bless me, Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Candide by Voltaire
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
Dick and Jane        William S. Gray
Doctor Zhivago        Boris Pasternak
Droll Stories       Honore de Balzac
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Ulysses by James Joyce    
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

Monday, September 13, 2010

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...

...that's amore.

but that's a story for another day.  today the topic is pizza.  weird pizza to be exact.

i have developed a penchant for making odd pizzas.

"pizzas with regular flavors are so banal..." i thought to myself one afternoon while ruby, my trusty bread machine, kneaded my pizza dough, "i want something new!"

a quick trip to the grocery store later revealed my newest creation: breakfast pizza.  not the most earth-shattering revelation i know, but it's the spin i put on the breakfast pizza that i think is unique: maple-sage sausage, sharp cheddar, gravy instead of sauce, and eggs cracked directly on top.

i wasn't sure if the eggs would cook.  i wasn't sure if the eggs would stay put and not make the crust runny.  i wasn't sure about the gravy.  a million little doubts flitted through my head as i popped the pizza in the oven.

20 minutes later i had my answer:  breakfast pizza was GOOD.

the next pizza making session brought with it another trial, this one a little weirder: chicken dinner pizza.

again using gravy for sauce, this time i added mashed potatoes, shredded roasted chicken, a light sprinkling of cheese and plenty of thyme.  again, i doubted.  again, i was amazed.

tonight made my third oddball pizza experiment: turkey and dressing pizza.

this time i used turkey gravy for sauce, then topped the pie with turkey stuffing, diced roasted turkey and the slightest little sprinkling of cheese.  one word: AWESOME!  it was like thanksgiving in a slice.  you could even add a little cranberry sauce on the side if you're into that kind of thing.

so apparently strange pizza is my thing now.  i'm sure i'll give it another go in a couple weeks.  i'm thinking meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  or mac and cheese.  or something else....any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the birthday vacay.

i took my best bud to austin this past weekend to celebrate his birthday.  here is the trip in pictures:

on the way down, we stopped at a cavern to go spelunking/exploring.  it was cool.  we saw tons of formations and even some petrified bat guano. 
we also had our picture taken in front of the balcones fault line.

then we loaded up in the car again and made a detour through hutto and pfuegerville, where we encountered an odd species of hippo:

we each had a run in with these rare creatures:
we finally made it into austin and checked into our hotel.  the view from our room was awesome!
the next day, we began our adventure at the university of texas memorial museum where we saw assorted beasties (in their skeletal forms):
then we headed down south congress to do a little shopping:
after shopping and a nap, we had a drink at the hotel bar
then it was off to a sunset boat tour of the city and to watch the bats emerge from the south congress bridge.
the next morning was his proper birthday, and he was served breakfast in bed (king style):
from there we checked out and headed south to new braunfels to see about some alligator/snake/exotic animal action.
 
at the animal farm i was forced to feed this goat:
and we were stared at by this rooster:
we then began our trek back north, stopping to shop and eat along the way.

it was truly a great little adventure!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

steve jobs sucks at his...

so i am totally underwhelmed by apple's newest lineup.  i get it--touch screens are cool.  they look neat.  but you know what's a whole lot cooler or neater?  massive storage for an epic music collection.

i've never been the biggest apple fan.  i'm not in a necessarily creative industry so the need for an apple computer escapes me.  i don't like being tethered to a cell phone anyway, so the thought of being endlessly entertained by my leash has kept me from purchasing an iphone. 

i have always been a fan of my ipod classic, though.  

initially i was against the ipod--against buying into the trendy thing.  i had an mp3 player that worked just fine for me.  until it didn't.  it died and i was forced out into the world, musicless.

my best bud bought me an ipod shuffle for my birthday one year.  i loved it.  it was cute, convenient, and seemingly quirk-free.  

i eventually made the decision to buy a new mp3 player and opted, based on the pleasant shuffle experience, to purchase an ipod classic 80GB.  

i've yet to regret that purchase.  it has plenty of room for my ever expanding collection and is easy to use.  no problems in my book.  i've resisted the multitude of newer devices that have come out since my purchase, each with smaller and smaller capacities.  why would i downgrade and risk running out of room?

now steve jobs announces a new line and the largest amount of memory possible is 64GB?  what gives?

what ever happened to improving on a product, not just fancying it up and pimping it out.  is a touch screen really worth losing so much space?  

not in my book.  but what do i know, i'm just a music lover.

Monday, August 9, 2010

reality began to sink in today.

she’s leaving.  not on vacation or a three hour tour.  she’s actually packing up her things and moving to another state.

i wonder if she knows how much i will miss her.

i wonder if she knows how much i truly care about her and want her to succeed.

i wonder if this will break us.  i hope it doesn’t.

i haven’t really broached the subject with her, and, in some ways, i’m sorry for that.  it’s a self-preservation thing, really.  i like to be strong—even when i’m not.

i’ve mentioned it in passing—“how are the plans coming?” or “are you getting everything packed?”—asking, but not fully realizing what the responses mean.

my sister left me in high school.  she packed her things and moved away.  i missed her like crazy and saw her as much as i could.

my best friend left me in college.  he packed his things in boxes and left to begin a new life somewhere else.  i was heartbroken.

now she’s leaving.  this girl who gets me in some way that i’m not entirely sure i understand.  this girl who is so entirely different than me.  this girl who has literally grown up before my eyes in the seven years we’ve known one another.  this girl i am immensely proud to call my friend.

as she packs up the boxes that contain her material life, i hope she knows how much i care about her.  i hope she realizes that while she is reading, learning, and kicking-ass in a city far away, her presence will be missed.  that café brazil, beth marie’s, and booked up just won’t have the same kind of appeal without her.  that i’m so proud, yet profoundly sad.

sometimes i wish that we could pause time, rewind it a ways.  be those wide-eyed undergrads, confident of the futures that lay ahead for them.  rewind to cool beans--those smart-mouthed grad students having a drink after class at the college bar—bitching about some professor or arguing over who studies the better literature.  rewind to glen rose—all day spent exploring wild animals and dinosaurs.  rewind to sleepovers—playing games and watching movies all night, then crocheting all day.  rewind to archer city—exploring antique books while snow twirls in the cold winter breeze.  rewind to movie night—meeting each other for a drink, dinner, and a movie, not caring what we were seeing, but enjoying each others’ company.  i wish we could rewind. 

but we can’t.

all we can do is give in to time as it marches steadily past us.  give in to the changes that inevitably occur.  this is one of those changes.

she will go.  she will make new friends, new discoveries, have new local dives.

we will endure.  we will still see each other, still talk, still come together for pizza and glee night.

it won’t be the same.  it will be new.  there will be adjustment.  but we can endure.

we have to endure; for ours is a bond that few can fathom.  we don’t make sense to a whole lot of people, but we understand each other.  and that can be enough.

to erin:  i love you, am so very proud of you, will miss you like crazy, and promise to continue to work at this thing we call friendship.

Monday, August 2, 2010

my latest favorite.

while compiling a collection of poetry for my students, i ran across this little number by elizabeth alexander. you know, the woman who wrote this.

i love it. i think it's fantastic. so i'm sharing it with you.

“Ars Poetica #100: I Believe”
Elizabeth Alexander

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown said

“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”)
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

unanticipated brilliance.

i wish i had something brilliant to say about the book i’m currently reading, but the truth is, my simple words cannot express how fascinatingly beautiful and terrifying this book is.

i’m reading cormac mccarthy’s the road.  i am not a fan of mccarthy.  after two run-ins with him in my undergraduate career—both of them exceedingly painful—i swore i would never pick up another one of his books.

my sister read the road a couple years ago and loved it.  she was so disturbed by it that she had to stop reading it at night.  my sister reads a lot—far more than i do.  “if a book could have that kind of effect on her, perhaps it could be worth my time,” i thought to myself after discussing it with her.

a lot of time passed and i grew bored with my favorite genre, narrative nonfiction.  so i picked up a cheap copy of the road.  i started reading and was horrified.  “this book is terrible!  this style—horrific!  there’s no sentence structure, no organization—where are the apostrophes—it feels like post-modernist stream of consciousness.  eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” were the thoughts streaming through my head after the first page, then the second.

but finally, after allowing myself to stop correcting grammar and doing all the things that english teachers tend to do, i came to the realization that this style, this form is quite lovely.  and quite effective.

the road is a bleak novel.  i’m half way through and am consistently dumbfounded by how things can move from bad to worse just when you can’t fathom what worse could be.  i don’t know what kind of life experiences mr. mccarthy had that led him to this kind of bleak imagining, but i’m glad he had them.

mccarthy’s style is unique.  there are no chapters or parts.  there are only vignettes which serve to disorient the reader in regard to time.  the personas in the novel have no measurable way to account for the passing of time—why should the reader?

once the reader is properly knocked off-center by the lack of organization, mccarthy’s style really picks up.  the novel centers around two characters: a father and his young son in a post-apocalyptic world.  these two characters are the only people in the novel for some time.  the reader feels this through mccarthy’s style—his word choice, pacing, imagery.  you may be reading the book in a room filled with people, but you are alone on the road with ash raining down on you from above, traveling alongside these two pathetic figures.  you are isolated from everything and everyone.  you are cold, wet, and hungry.  you are on the road.

i think the most striking part of the novel for me has been the incredible way in which i respond to the novel physiologically.  when the protagonist encounters another human—any human—my heart races, anticipating an encounter filled with variables.  it is in these moments of uncertainty and fear when mccarthy’s style really shines.  suddenly his phrasing becomes shorter, his words more aggressive in tone, the whole beat of the novel picks up.  as soon as the encounter is over, the prose returns to normal.  this shift in style creates a real momentum—just like suspenseful music does in a movie.  simply phenomenal.

all in all, i think i may have misjudged mr. mccarthy.  turns out, he is an amazing writer—i would argue that his ability to paint a picture in the mind of the reader rivals that of garcia marquez (which coming from me is an enormous compliment).  i think i love the road for all of its loneliness, isolation, desperation, and fear.

yes, i love it.  though i do long for an apostrophe now and then.

p.s. harold bloom can still suck it.  

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

milestones.

belle, my wonderfully fantastic car, and i have reached a major milestone in our relationship:  100,000 miles.  

so today's post is in honor of her.  
dearest belle,

don't tell any of the other cars i've driven in my life, but you're my absolute favorite.  cheers, old girl!  here's to you and the many miles you've carried me over.  just think of all the adventures we've shared.  here's to hoping that you will stay in good health and continue to carry me over 100,000 more.  

with love, 
duessa

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

empty.

that's the perfect word to describe this feeling of desolation.  i feel empty.  overwhelmed, and under.  hollow, yet full.  lonely, but surrounded.

summer often does this to me.  the oppressive heat that so many find freeing--an excuse to skip a day's work to allow the sun to drench their bodies to the core--leaves me feeling like an empty, broken shell.

many find sadness in the dead of winter, when there is no green in sight, no lush landscape full of adventure if someone, anyone, would just seek it out.  i'm the opposite.  winter is my friend; summer, my nemesis. 

summer and its burning rays leave me wasted, suffocating while breathing stifling air.  my lungs burn at the heat of it all.  i am alone in a crowd of people, all of them enjoying the warm breeze as it brushes past ever so lightly.  all of them, but me. 

i long for the days when the cool breeze returns, sending the slightest chill down my spine, causing me to reach for a light sweater. 

until then, i remain empty.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

wow. just wow.

scissors are expensive. 

this is the epiphany i had today while standing in an aisle at hancock fabrics.  somewhere in the construction this past week, my favorite fabric scissors have gone MIA.  this makes me very sad.  so after looking for them extensively and mourning for them a little, the decision was made to suck it up and buy a new pair.

while i was purchasing a standard pair of extra-sharp scissors (not so expensive), i decided to pick up a specialty pair designed for quilting (since i'm getting into it).  i meandered around the corner to the specialty scissors and guffawed at the prices: $25.99, $36.99, $57.99.

i mean seriously--who pays $58 for a pair of scissors?!  that's just crazy.  

i settled for a $20 pair.  


and they rock.  they have already paid for themselves in the effort they saved me earlier this afternoon while working on a rag quilt.

but really, why are scissors so costly?  they're just scissors.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

...

i'm finally home.

i'm exhausted.

and i'm immensely thankful to my best friend for putting up with my crankiness and offering up a safe, quiet, and comfortable home for my hoodlums and me this past week.

~duessa, out.

Monday, May 24, 2010

displaced.

this week i am displaced.  while doing some renovations on my home, i've decided to stay with my bestie, bringing two of my hell hounds with me. 

fun.

parts will be fun.  like hanging out in the evenings, vegging out, and enjoying each other's company.  

parts won't be/have not been.  like chasing one of the hell hounds down the street as she tried to escape.

i hope this week goes smoothly.  only time will tell.

Friday, May 7, 2010

reminiscing.

i've recently picked up a couple of books that i've read before.  

this is certainly not some shocking statement.  i do it frequently.  i try to read fahrenheit 451 and to kill a mockingbird every year just to remind myself of why i do what i do for a living.

these books are different.

one of them, i hate.  loathe. detest. abhor.  it's gustave flaubert's madame bovary.  in a conversation with a friend i highly respect, we discussed a class we took together way back in the day:  continental european fiction.  it was a good class, filled with books i had never before read (that was something that didn't occur very often in undergrad).

when dr. spencer assigned madame bovary, i groaned.  i had read it before.  twice.  and even back then i hated it.  but, like a good little lit student, i picked it up again.  though (i'm sorry dr. spencer--please don't rescind my grade) i didn't finish it.  i stopped somewhere around the beginning of the first part.

so when discussing this class with the aforementioned friend, the subject of that book inevitably came up.  he loves the book.  for what reason, i'm still not entirely sure.  but his passion and devotion to it was enough to make me pick it up.  again.  to see if my perspective had changed.

so i did.  and at first i thought it was going to work out...maybe i might just love flaubert and not even know it.  i made it through the first part unscathed.  yes, emma was annoying, but flaubert's descriptions got to me.  then i started part two and the whole thing came to a screeching halt.  emma bovary is a whiny little twit.  i cannot tolerate her.  at all.

so i put the book down.  again.

earlier today, after i finished grading a mountain of essays, i began to peruse my bookshelf.  an old favorite called to me from the stacks:  emile zola's l'assommoir.

i first read zola in the same fiction class, but the experience was radically different.  dr. spencer prefaced our reading with "if you're on any kind of antidepressant, now is not the time to stop taking them."  i was intrigued, but worried.

so i started reading and was moved.  gervaise was just so sad.  her life was such a mess, yet through it all she held on.  as a reader, i looked forward to the few moments of pure joy the woman experienced and happily trudged through the darkest of moments to get to them.  i decided after the first chapter that this book was a new favorite.

so with the book screaming at me, i picked it up and flipped it open.  it is still just a beautifully sorrowful.

there is simply no other image, in my mind, that compares with gervaise standing at her open window sill, the sun beaming down with oppressive heat, contemplating her life--literally stuck between a hospital* and an abattoir**.

*hospitals in the time this novel was written were places of death, not healing
**an abattoir is a slaughterhouse

Monday, April 26, 2010

corresponding with a legend. part 2.

ray bradbury's agent, don congdon, died in december.  mr. congdon was aged, but not quite as old as mr. bradbury.  

"they're starting to kick off," i muttered to myself when i discovered the news article, "i better hurry up and wrap this paper up."

so i mailed mr. bradbury another letter humbly asking him for an answer to my question. i also mailed one to michael congdon, don congdon's son, who has taken over his agency.

i knew it was a long shot, but i did it anyway.  after all, tenacity is something that eventually pays off, right?

i still haven't heard anything from mr. congdon.  i assume that my letter was opened by some assistant and put into file thirteen.  who knows?

having dealt directly with mr. bradbury before, i was looking forward to checking the mail that week, expecting a package full of joy.  

i wasn't disappointed.

in addition to my letter, i sent him my 1967 edition of fahrenheit 451 and a request that he sign it for me.

boy did he.  he even drew one of his famous little face sketches.  
see that?  that first word is "brandi".  that's my name.  then "love ray bradbury", the face sketch, and "4/4/10". glee does not even begin to express...

and he signed a little memento on fahrenheit 451 from the national endowment for the arts: 
i could smell the fresh sharpie ink when i opened the package.  i think i may have swooned from delight.

while he didn't answer my question (i mean seriously, the man is in his nineties and not in the best health), i again have communicated in some small way with a hero.  and that's just cool.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

compounding interest

this post’s title has absolutely nothing to do with content. i just like the title.

(sidenote: i’ve always had a thing for a good title. for instance, one of my most influential lit profs in college was obsessed with the title “affairs of state” and all of the wonderful double-entendre-ness of it when discussing early modern english monarchies. thinking of that title still inspires me. and makes me giggle.)

this year has been tough. my family can’t seem to catch a break and it’s beginning to wear on me. that wearing is demonstrating itself through a general lack on contentment with everything. nothing is enough fun right now. nothing is beautiful enough right now. nothing is good and i am unsettled.

a few weeks ago i started thinking about zest. lemon zest, to be exact. (i was making a pie). while wrist deep in dough, it occurred to me that people are a lot like lemons (or limes, or oranges, or any other citrus fruit). we have thick skins that keep the bad things out (most of the time) and are juicy and interesting inside. but the real heart and soul of a person—the part that makes them who they truly are—is their zest. it adds flavor and complexity to their life. without it, they are dull, lacking that little something that makes them complete.

i’ve been zestless for awhile now.

the parts of me that make me feel whole have fallen away, leaving nothing but bitter pith.

it’s as if all the time and energy i’ve expended in the last few months dealing with hardship have only acted as a microplane, slowly grating away my flavor.

i decided then and there that i’m tired of being zestless. i want flavor. i want spice. i want to be the person i think i once was. so i’ve been trying to enjoy more things—to see the fun, beauty, and goodness. and i think it’s working. i’ve had more fun, despite the bad, in the past few weeks than i’ve had in quite awhile.


of course, like all good things in life, i will have to keep trying.

i don’t want to be zestless forever.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

urban. dictionary.

urban dictionary rules:

   1. go to urbandictionary.com and type in your answers to the following questions.
   2. post the first definition it gives you.


1. your name: brandi

an all around awesome kind of girl. when girls are jealous of brandis, they often express hostility because they are not up to par. the thing about brandi is that she still keeps her cool and is pretty fun to be with.

i wish i was drinking some brandy with brandi right now.


2. your age: 27
the age all rockstars die at:
jimi hendrix
jim morrison
janis joplin
kurt cobain
alexander the great
james dean
river phoenix
brad nowell (lead singer to sublime) died at the age of 28 years and 2 days (2 days from joining the club)


3. one of your friends: erin
erin is a female who has the body of a goddess and the brain of a genius. men are drawn to her good looks and her awsome sense of humour. out of all the females in the world its the erins who rule.


4. what should you be doing: cleaning
(v) the act of shoving everything in a closet and calling it decent.

5. favorite color: aqua
an european dance pop group of keyboardists søren rasted and claus norreen, and rapper rené dif from denmark, and singer lené nystrøm rasted from norway. they had huge hits like "lollipop (candyman)," "doctor jones," "turn back time," "cartoon heroes," and of course, "barbie girl." they released two albums, "aquarium" and "aquarius." their songs are infectiously catchy, so that you know it's bad pop music, but you can't help but listen to it and secretly like the dance grooves. their characteristic electronic sound features the girlish vocals of lené clashing with the rather interesting low male voice of rené.

7. month of your birth: november
the month in which the most babies are born. and which, by chance, is exactly nine months after february.

8. last person you talked to (in person): mom
the person who might have raised you, normally a woman

9. one of your nicknames: chica
a name for a girl, preferably an extremely hot latin girl, that you find pride in just knowing her.

Monday, March 29, 2010

feliz cumpleaños!

my dear sweet blog is two years old today.
happy birthday, dear blog; may there be many more!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

help.

i just stumbled across an opportunity to assist a fellow grad student in her research for her thesis.  

 she's writing about internet folklore and blogging and needs the assistance of fellow bloggers.  

check her site out, answer her questionnaire, and help a girl get her degree.

the king and i

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the ULtimate end to a day...

i'm so proud of my 
best bud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

more details to come...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

tag.

i've been tagged by a dear friend! here are the instructions on the tag:


"go to your documents folder (or wherever you store your photos) and go to your 6th picture folder, then go to the 6th picture in that folder and post it on your blog. tell a story about it."


this pic was taken on my birthday in 2008 outside of mr. chopsticks in denton (funny how we can remember specifics for certain things).  i had just had lunch with my very best friend at my favorite little italian dive, and he had just given me my birthday present:  an ipod shuffle that we immediately named cuthbert the weepod.  since i tend to document everything in photos, i snapped a picture from inside my school bag (notice the post-it flags) while waiting in the car for another friend to arrive for another birthday celebration.  


that's that.  


tag fulfilled.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the post never created...

i wrote this days ago while sitting in a library, waiting on my next class to begin.


yesterday was a debacle.  i went to vote in the primary for an upcoming local election.

i always vote.  early.  i'm the perfect voting citizen; i show up early, current voter registration card in hand, with a smile on my face.  i'm always polite to the poll workers, even when they can't seem to figure out the computer.

i've voted in every election--local, state, and national--since i turned eighteen.  i've braved horrifically long lines, freezing temperatures, snow, and really rude people to exercise my civic duty and make my voice heard.  my voting experiences have always been good.  until now.

for nine years, my early voting location has been the same.  yesterday, i crawl out of bed, grab my registration card, brave the cold, and head to the polls.

but they weren't there.

being a responsible voter, i called the number on my registration card, discovered that the location had been moved, and drove to it.  i knew as soon as i heard the new location that voting was not going to be fun.

upon pulling into the parking lot, i saw two rather disheartening things:  sleazy politicians out to shake hands and kiss babies in a desperate attempt for some last minute additions to their constituencies, and something even worse:  geese.

i am terrified of geese.  they're shifty and untrustworthy.  the new polling location, a charming stone building next to an idyllic pond, was teeming with them.

after parking and making sure that the coast was clear, i hopped out and ran inside.  i was greeted by a friendly older woman who could not get my card to scan and required the help of three other poll workers.  eventually, it worked and i was asked the question i dread and consider a violation of my civil liberties:  which party primary do you want to vote in?

if our votes are supposed to be private, why do i, a true independent, have to publically declare allegiance to a party, have that announced allegiance go into the official record, and have my clean, beautiful card stamped?

i don't wish to be the member of any party.  i enjoy the autonomy of being an independent voter and thinker.  when i vote, there's no pressure to tow the party line.  instead, the pressure is to choose the candidate that best suits the job, regardless of the party they are affiliated with.

so why, then, must i be put into a box and stamped "rep" or "dem"?  why does my county/state need to "know" my political affiliations?  why is it okay to ask someone voting in a primary who they're voting for, but not okay during the general election?  what's the difference between the two?

that was the beginning.  it went downhill from there.  i successfully cast my vote, walked out the door, and attempted to shrug off the box i'd just been forced into.  i rounded the corner to my car and was struck dumb by what i found:  a gaggle of geese had surrounded my vehicle.

they stood there, necks outstretched, chests puffed up, feathers ruffled, making the most horrific sound i'd ever heard, taunting me.  i couldn't.  i just couldn't.  

so i stood there.  paralyzed.  waiting.  thinking that surely they would grow bored and waddle away.  but no.

our standoff continued for several minutes.  i stood, wishing i could take the whole experience back, wishing i wasn't a good voter who had left her cell phone in the car according to polling rules.  i was helpless against what i consider to be a vicious enemy.

finally, a car pulled up right next the mine and the gentleman who got out shooed them away.  the rabid geese, plan then foiled, shuffled away.

i got in the car as quickly as i could and locked the doors.

i needed to relieve some stress, so i headed to the place where my creativity is always sparked:  the grocery store.

some look at grocery shopping as a dull, meaningless chore.  i don't.  i look at it as exciting.  a challenge to create and explore.

while there figuring our what to make for dinner, i decided to see if they could order a sodium free variety of a brand they carry.  my dad is on an uber-low sodium diet, and finding packaged food for him is a bit of a challenge, so to find out that my local grocery store might be able to carry this product filled me with glee.

this grocery store is always a happy place.the employees are nice, helpful, and funny.  but this was a different kind of day.

i asked my question and, without a word, was handed a customer survey.  i filled it out and started to hand it back when the woman behind the counter snatched it from my hands, turned around, went into the office, and began eating cheetos.

i left.  disgruntled and confused.

when i got home, i collapsed in a heap.

why do i even try?!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

music...

The rules: list 50 records you can listen to start to finish and why. They don't have to be your favorite or in any particular order.

1. Cake - Fashion Nugget the why is easy--i f-ing love cake.  it was hard to pick just one album to include.
2. Adele - 19  one word:  brilliant.
3. Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill  reminds me of middle school--i still know every word.
4. Ali Farka Toure - In the Heart of the Moon  absolutely beautiful music.  i grade to it all the time.
5. Amos Lee - Amos Lee  see "why" for number 1.
6. Anna Nalick - Wreck of the Day  brilliant songwriter.
7. Asa - Asa  political music at its best.
8. Barenaked Ladies - Stunt  reminds me of the fun times i had in high school theatre.
9. Ben Folds - Way to Normal  hands down one of the best artists ever--and a really great concert to go to!
10. Better than Ezra - Greatest Hits  they make me happy.  enough said.
11. Brad Paisley - 5th Gear 
see "why" for number 1.
12. Camille - Le Fil  she's the french bjork--the music is interesting and fun.
13. Ceu - Ceu  because i wish i spoke portuguese fluently.
14. Chico Science and Nação Zumbi - De Lama Ao Caos  i was exposed to this group my first semester of college.  it was new and fascinating.  i still love it.
15. Damien Rice - O  wow.  just wow.
16. Eli Young Band - Level  i'm totally this band's groupie.
see "why" for number 1.
17. Flobots - Fight With Tools  this album got me through a tumultuous first semester of teaching.  it contains hope.
18. The Fratellis - Costello Music  british punk.  need i say more?
19. Goldfinger - Stomping Ground  more than any of the other artists/songs that remind me of him, this album defines my relationship with my best bud.
20. Green Day - Warning  five words:  i wanna be the minority.
21. Hank Williams - The Complete Hank Williams  this is where i come from.  what i grew up listening to.
22.  Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales  absolutely fabulous songwriter. see "why" for number 1.
23.  Jason Mraz - Mr. A-Z  it's fun.  he's great. 
24. Jimi Hendrix - Blues  because there are few things better than hendrix's "red house".
25. Joss Stone - The Soul Sessions  this album reminds me of sitting for hours on end in the eesat building on campus reading and studying.
26. Kate Nash - Made of Bricks  a delightful brit with a potty mouth. 
27. The Kinks - Village Green Preservation Society  i love it.  isn't that enough?
28. Live - Throwing Copper  reminds me of my sister.
29. Macaco - Ingravito  i long to be spicy and latin.
30. Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane  makes me remember the good times my best bud and i had while living together.
31. Massive Attack - Mezzanine  makes me focus--another grading fave.
32. MC Solaar - Chaptire 7  french rap.  what more is there to say?
33. Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart  the best contemporary jazz i've heard in a while.
34. Muddy Waters - The Best of Muddy Waters  there is no blues without muddy waters.
35. Muse - Black Holes and Revelations  a new favorite.  it just rocks.
36. Nikka Costa - Can'tneverdidnothing  fun.
37. Orishas - El Kilo  cute latin boys rapping.
38. Otis Redding - The Very Best of Otis Redding  i don't know what i would do without otis.
39. Panjabi MC - Beware  panjabi rap.  AWESOME!
40. Patsy Cline - The Patsy Cline Collection  reminds me of being a little kid and cleaning the house with mom on saturday mornings.
41. Poe - Haunted  cool artist.  cool album.
42. Queen - The A-Z of Queen  because its freddy mercury and no one could rock an argyle bodysuit quite like him.
43. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magic  reminds me of my sister.
44. Red Violin Soundtrack  great music from a great film.
45. Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack  because it's great.
46. Sam Cooke - Portrait of a Legend  what album list would be complete without sam cooke?
47. Stevie Wonder - Number 1s  see "why" for number 1.
48. Train - Save Me, San Francisco  see "why" for number 1.
49. Willie Nelson - Texas in My Soul  because there are few things on earth as good as willie nelson singing blue eyes crying in the rain.
50. Ximena Sarinana - Mediocre  she's awesome.

Honorable mentions:
Taxi Amarillo - Taxi Amarillo 
Zap Mama - A Ma Zone
Zac Brown Band - The Foundation
The Wombats - A Guide to Love, Loss, and Desperation
Ella Fitzgerald - The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Songbook