Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Life is Excsmiting!

When you can't find the perfect word, make one up! My new word, excsmiting, actually means exactly what it says. My life right now is both exciting, and . . . kicking my butt.

Excited about: Graduation Announcements and Regalia ordered: I'm gunna walk this May!

Smitten by (and not in a good way): The 20 page translation project and two 15-20 page seminar papers due before I get there.

Excited about: Drum Major/drum minor interviews for the MOB this weekend, and I get to be on the panel that helps pick them.

Smitten by: I don't get to go to Enchanted Rock this weekend as I'd planned.

Excited about: Soon being gainfully employed so I can buy a new computer and pay off my student loans.

Smitten by: The thought of job interviews, and the fact that I have to update my resume soon and don't have the time.

So in honor of all the insanity, both enjoyable and disturbing, that drives my existence at the moment, here are the two weirdest poems I've ever written. Please . . . just . . . don't ask.

pigeons, pigeons, everywhere,
pigeons, pigeons, in my hair.
pigeons, pigeons, don't be skeerd!
pigeons, pigeons, y'all're weird!


"I pity da fool," Mr. T. said,
"Dat don't know a cabbage from dey own head."
"I pity the fool, Mr. T.," said I,
"That doesn't know cabbage falls from the sky."

I told you not to ask! Sometimes my muse has a warped sense of humor. :-P

Sunday, March 26, 2006

OOOOH! Epiphany!

I'm currently reading Moby Dick for my American Romanticism class. I only vaguely remember reading it in high school, and I know I got very little out of it. There was one particular section, though, that I was completely incapable of understanding. Not in the sense that I couldn't divine the essential meaning, but I had no clue what Melville was even saying. Here's the passage:
First: According to magnitude I divide the whales into three primary BOOKS(subdivisible into Chapters), and these shall comprehend them all, both small and large. I. The FOLIO WHALE; II. the OCTAVO WHALE; III. the DUODECIMO WHALE. As the type of the FOLIO I present the Sperm Whale; of the OCTAVO, the Grampus; of the DUODECIMO, the Porpoise.
This passage is from Chapter 32, entitled "Cetology." In high school, I really had no idea what was going on here. I gathered that apparently Folio whales were big and Duodecimo whales were small. But I had never heard these terms in biology class, so I was pretty much . . . at sea . . . over the whole distinction. When I read this passage today, I got it!

You see, in my Bibliography and Research Methods class, we had a unit on the manufacture of early printed codex books (books that have a spine and open showing two pages of text at a time are called codex, as opposed to, say, scrolls like they used before). Folio, octavo, and duodecimo are terms to describe how certain books are made. For a folio, the leaves of the book are formed by folding a sheet of paper once, in half, trimming the raw edges, binding, etc. For an octavo volume, the page is folded into eighths (three folds), cut, trimmed, and bound (not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily before being sold). For duodecimo, you fold the page in twelfths. (I think that's three folds, either into thirds then in half, or in half then thirds. It does matter, but not to me, or you either, most likely!)

In general, all sheets of paper being equal, the folio book will be much larger than the octavo and duodecimo. Of course, all sheets were not equal, so in theory, a duodecimo volume could be larger than a folio. This seems kind of a frivolous distinction to make, until you realize that you had to print both sides of a sheet before you folded it. This makes the process for creating each kind of volume pretty different. As if inventing movable type wasn't enough, those printers had to figure out how to lay out the type so that after folding, the pages were all right-side up and in order. And I can barely manage to do manual duplex printing on sheets of paper with no folds intended. Amazing.

I still have no idea what extra-special super-secret hidden meanings for life Moby Dick might hold. To me it's still an incredibly digressive story about a maniac out to kill the whale that maimed him. *Shrug* But at least now I can say that in reading it as a graduate student, I understand it a little better than I did in high school! So there! I guess this Master of Arts degree in English and American Literature will be worth something! :-P Just thought I'd pass the savings on to you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Shall We Start a Betting Pool?

So, a lovely young lady nearly related to myself has been seeing an awful lot of a particular young gentleman. He's in her A&M geology class (he's also in the corps and plays baritone in the band) and he happens to live in Schertz, the same town her mother lives in. I mention no names. If you know me, you've guessed by now who the young lady is.

When one contacts this young lady via cell phone, one will almost always hear his voice in the background at some point. He and a friend helped her get home for spring break, since she was on medication and shouldn't drive. So he drove her car and his friend drove his. He went out of state over break to visit his girlfriend, but only because he couldn't return or transfer the ticket, and they broke up while he was there.

After he came back, he spent at least some portion of every day in her company. He took her to the dentist, took her with some friends camping, and even offered to take her shopping (she declined in order to actually spend some time with her mother). But apparently, there's nothing there, they're just really good friends. Dude. I wish a guy I liked wanted to spend that much time with me, even if only as friends. So. Any bets on how long this friends thing will last? ;-)

While we're talking about betting pools, if there were any out there on how long it would take my apartment complex to actually do something about the leak over my bedroom window, then stay tuned. A guy came out Monday to actually look at the window. Then he even looked at the exterior facade. And I believe he might have examined the window of the unit above. Amazing! Water apparently obeys the laws of gravity! And apparently I tend to use italics a lot when I'm being sarcastic.

I've been battling this thing since last August, so who knows what they'll find when they take the wood down and look at the sheetrock. It's not like Houston has an arid sort of climate. But I got a notice today that they will first do repairs on the upstairs window, hopefully this week, then they'll do mine. I'll let y'all know how it goes. The end of this ordeal just might be in sight!

Monday, March 20, 2006

I Fail at Life . . . at least life as a wine connoisseur

So, while I was visting Gruene, Texas, with Mom, the kid, and my Godparents over Spring Break, I bought a bottle of wine. Now I like my wine sweet. Like, REALLY sweet. Like, grape juice with a kick. So I bought a bottle of sweet white table wine from the Wimberly Valley vinyard. Mostly, I'm hoping that having it on-hand will help me productively deal with stress-induced insomnia.

Anywho. Decided to have a glass the other evening. Of course, I don't have wine glasses. But hey, a plastic county fair cup will do just as good, right? Oh, wait. I don't have a corkscrew. Never mind. OH! I do have a corkscrew, a little cheap one attached to sort of swiss-army kitchen container-opening tool. Yay.

All right, so I get the corkscrew into the cork, and I pull. This isn't one of the fancy ones with little wingaling lever deallies, so brute force it is. Only, I'm not much of a brute, and can't seem to muster enough force. Apparently the insomnia prevention for that night was the minutes and minutes of tugging that finally wore me out. The idea of breaking the cork and pulling it out in chunks is utterly repulsive to me. So right now there's a bottle of wine with a hole in the cork sitting in my refridgerator, saran wrapped and rubber banded about the neck and cork to keep it fresh. Tomorrow I'll stop by Kroger and get some necessary hardware, I guess. For now, I just feel silly. But hey, it was an adventure!

It comes to mind that it's about time for another poem, and I feel like I'm due for another cute happy little love poem, since my last two were kind of serious. Can't have too much of that! Found this one in the files. Enjoy!

I've got a certain secret
Simmering inside,
Something rare and special
I'm trying hard to hide.

My secret makes me sparkle.
It also makes me shy,
And when I think about it
I blush to meet your eye.

That look that you just gave me,
I wonder if you knew . . .
I wonder if you've guessed by now
My secret love is you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where I Come From

250 new miles of Hill Country on my car before sunset means today was a fabulous day. The weather ain't half bad either . . . sunny with light clouds, breezy, mid-70s. Perfect, absolutely perfect.

I started out with my hood pointed towards Castroville. Visited the church, where they put sand and fake cactus in the holy water basins for Lent. I'd been wondering about that, because all the churches I've been in lately have still had holy water, and I thought it was supposed to be put away right now. *Shrug* I stopped by the parish offices and found out where Mrs. Winnie Karm was buried. Mrs. Karm was my confirmation sponsor, and the most beautifully kind, generous, and sweet natured, saintly woman I have ever known. She never had a bad word to say about anyone, no matter how much they deserved it. I wish I was more like her, so I'll have to work on that.

After paying my respects to her, I decided to drive by my old home. Turns out they're widening FM 471 to two lanes each way, and I had to sit and wait for the pilot truck just north of Rio Medina. Chatted quite a bit with the very friendly flag man, Javier (his wife's name is Laura too, and he has a six-year-old son and an almost three-year-old daughter). He told me the road was under construction up to the Old Medina Lake Road turn-off. OML was fine, though, which was the road I needed. Made it out to the old home without further delay, and was sad to see that it's been too dry for the blue-bonnets to really bloom out. There were a few making a good show at the top of the hill, but the ones Daddy planted by our gate haven't made an appearance. Once we get a good rain, though, as long as the new owners don't mow too soon, they'll be gorgeous, I'm sure.

I didn't stay too long there, because it was making me cry, so I headed up north on 1283. Got past the turn off to the dam, and crested a big hill, and that's when I saw what I needed to see. The hills arched their backs into the sky, and as far as I could see, the road and I were the only signs of civilization. A quick glance to the left at just the right spot (was driving, so no more than a glance of course) showed me Medina Lake. What a beautiful blue! I wouldn't have traded that one quick glance for a hundred dollars. A thousand, though, maybe ;-).

I hit highway 16 in Pipe Creek, took that into and out of Bandera, and stopped in Medina at the Love Creek Apple Orchard. Picked up some cinnamon pecans to snack on. I highly recommend them. It looks like there's quite a bit of undeveloped land between Medina and Kerville, and I found a few ranches that I'll consider buying, once I win the lottery. Hah. I saw some trees blooming in the hills, with what looked like small magenta flowers. I don't know what they are. Not enough silver to be sage, I don't think. And too far west to be redbud trees, right? I'll have to look them up. Took 16 up through Kerrville to Fredericksburg. I like Fredericksburg; it's such a cute little town. Turned east finally on Highway 290, which is the point at which I always consider myself as heading home, even if does still mean 2 hours on the road.

I stopped at the Dutchman's Market, a little meat market, to pick up some of the sausage Mom really likes. Then one last stop at the Circle E candle plant to pick up a candle for my apartment (I got the Orange Vanilla one, fruity without being either too perfumey or too foody). Then I drove back to Schertz with little more incident than several cars who thought the extra climbing lanes were for them to go slow in (GRRRR). I head back to Houston tomorrow morning, so I hope I've gotten enough of my Hill Country fix. If not, well, I'm coming back to Enchanted Rock first weekend of April. For now I'm happy and sleepy and my gas-pedal leg is sore. What a wonderful day!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.

Luke 15:9

Today dropped into the palm of my hand like a blessing, like an olive branch. While I was packing to come home for Spring Break, I finally, finally found it! My great-grandmother's cross of silver and marcasite that I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving. I found it in a pocket of my bag that I'd searched five times already. Call it oversight if you want, I call it a miracle. I had completely given up hope. This was worth so much more to me than any coin; I've lost so many of my loved ones over the past ten years that I've learned to value the tiniest keepsake.

This cross has a beauty for me beyond the metal and stones, and beyond the blessed memories of a gracious and lovely woman. I had gotten into the habit of wearing my cross each lent as a reminder and as a strengthener of my resolutions. I had missed it very much this year. When it came out of that pocket, I couldn't believe it. I clasped it to my heart and started crying. I thank God for bringing it back to me on a day when I needed it the most.

Some of you who read this will know the demons I've been struggling against. Some of you will have comforted me during the dark, faith-lacking times I've been through. I got more back today than a cross. To me, this is a sign that I am finally, finally on the right track again.

This day hasn't been perfect. I found out I owe a lot more money in taxes than I thought (stupid contracting work) and I almost got plowed by an RV driving from Houston to Schertz today (stupid people not checking mirrors before changing lanes). But it really is a lovely day. The sun is shining and the sky is blue. The air here has a hot, dry smell. There were blue bonnets and primroses all along the highway, and my heart was so light that I almost took Otto up to 100 MPH without noticing it! Not optimal, but I do love the feel of the highway under me when I'm driving too fast :-P.

Lent is supposed to be a time of reflection, a solemn time when we take a good look at ourselves. I've been trying to do that even more this year, but today I could not suppress the pure joy of just being. Today was a gift for which I am grateful. I have found what I had lost; rejoice with me!

Face Recognition: I Approve

Got this link from a friend's blog:

I uploaded the following pictures and got matched to the following celebrities, among whom are some of the most beautiful women I can think of, so I must be cute :-P.

Matched with:

Cate Blanchett (wow)
Katherine Hepburn
Isabelle Huppert

Matched with:

Shirley Temple (heh, grrreeeeeaaat)
Rachel Corrie (who?)
Sophie Marceau (wow)
Gwyneth Paltrow (double wow)

For what it's worth, I matched with more men than I did women. Among those were Albert Einstein (Hah!) , Mel Gibson, Marlon Brando, and Gene Kelley. NOT sure I understand all that, but very interesting. I think it has a lot to do with facial expression and angle. The photo they had of Cate Blanchett that matched my top pic was almost identical to mine in expression and angle (though I *do* have similar cheek bones and nose, it looked like, so yay!).

All in all, yes, a very entertaining waste of time!

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Mountain Laurel Is Blooming Back Home

I did a lot of growing up in the Texas Hill Country. We moved out to the hills northwest of San Antonio when I was eight, and when I left home for Rice at eighteen, I was still in love with a land where it seems like secrets lie hidden just over the next hill, in a quiet limestone crag under dark and somber cedar. They lie there and you never want anyone to find them.

It's the spring time when I miss it most. There are a few mountain laurel trees around here, planted as decorative shrubs, and they're in full bloom right now. I can't begin to describe what these bunches of blossoms smell like. It's a grapey, winey, heady sort of smell. To me it's the closest thing I can think of to nectar and ambrosia. But you can never enjoy them on a manicured green lawn the way you can when they leap up out of the cactus and brush on a rocky hillside. Something so soft and polished and sweet in a land where almost every native thing scratches, pricks, bites, or stings.

I remember an evening years ago in the early spring. The sun had set and the sky was a soft lavender. The entire orb of the moon was visible, but only the narrowest crescent glowed, along with one faintest star. A warm wind floated off the hillside to the north, and carried with it this heavenly smell, a smell of springtime and warmth and beauty, that seemed to pour from the sky itself. The fireflies came out in the trees as the stars came out in the darkening sky. Somehow those hours have lasted years for me.

Now that Mom has sold that house, and lives in suburbian Schertz, Texas, I feel like I don't have a home to go back to. Only a house. Things change.

An east wind blows my mind into the wild.
I long for gleams of ever-setting suns
To light the deserts, hills, and mountain tops
And burn the canyon lips like brandy-wine.
My soul would fly on fire o'er golden lands,
Rocks never by the ocean's wash subdued
But stretching ever on and on
Beneath the rays of setting sun.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No-Reason Blues

I'm having a day. I have them sometimes. Sometimes there's a reason, sometimes not. Here's a poem to suit my mood.
When she comes
She comes alone
And sits beside the fading stone.
She waters the silk flowers with her tears
And bows beneath the weight of wasted years.
Others come in twos and threes,
Leave flowers fresh as memories.
But when she comes, she comes alone.
Leaves only tears
Beside the stone.
I don't suppose I'm as depressed as all that. For one thing, I'm not crying at the moment. But I just found that among some papers, and it fits with the sort of gray solemnity I'm feeling. It doesn't help that the gorgeous weather we're having is driving me indoors by encouraging the oak trees to bloom! I can't even open the windows! I'm about to go up to Dallas for a couple of days, where it's supposed to be rainy. Maybe my mood will prove to be inversely proportional to the weather . . .