Thursday, December 29, 2011

a year in review, 2011

I absolutely love the New Year. I love the opportunity to make a cognitive break and compartmentalize the last twelve months into their own little box and open up a new empty box for the next twelve months. I love making new year resolutions; I always have improvements in mind but I usually need something to push me into doing them. The first three months of each year are consequently some of my happiest and most productive.  I also like the opportunity to look back and take stock of how I've been living my life. This year I'm not too pleased with myself. I had so many great experiences, but something kept me from feeling happy for most of it, and I'm pretty sure that was my negative attitude.

Last New Year's Eve I was in Munich with my best friend. I was sick and we were exhausted from our Germany Christmas so we decided not to go out. We had spent most of the day in Salzburg Austria, where Mozart was born, and by the time we got back we couldn't even imagine trying to find something to do for New Year's. Fortunately our hostel had a pretty fantastic view of the city, and I have never seen so many fireworks in my entire life. As soon as midnight approached they started going off everywhere and didn't stop for a half an hour. It seems that every family in Munich had they own little firework show. So we sat there and ate fancy chocolate and watched the fireworks. It was a lovely way to start the new year.
Christmas and New Year's in Germany

Saturday, November 26, 2011

on community and existentialism

Meaning is not relative, but it is relational. It is not based on one's experience alone, but on one's experience with other people. We may be nothing to the universe, but when we have compassion for another human being, when we sorrow for her suffering and joy in his success, we may see that we are all one and the same substance, not only with the person for whom we have compassion, but with all people, with the earth, with animals and stars and everything.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

on community: fellowship vs. friendship

I've been thinking and talking a lot about community these days. Theoretically community is extremely important to me, and I'm taking notice of how the theory plays out in real life, and it's not exactly what I expected.

I've been having struggles with my local church congregation, and I've also been having difficulties expressing my grievances. The congregation is small, just a little single's branch with 30 or so members. They are warm and inviting, and yet I feel left out. They are caring of each other, and they're friendly with each other, to the point that they spend hours with each other every day. They're friends. And I hate it. The thing is, I'm not looking for friends at church. I don't need a social circle; I need a community. I want fellowship, not friendship.  And I'm realizing now what the difference is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

on fence-sitting

It's hard to be a Mormon fence-sitter. You're either in our you're out, and there seems to be little room for the inbetweeners. Part of the reason is that we have set up a fantastic system for checking up on people through the home and visiting teaching programs. We are assigned to look out for one another, and a monthly quota of home visits must be met. It's funny how isolated some of us still feel. It's also funny how defensive I get with my home and visiting teachers. When someone I knew from my ward, someone I thought I was becoming friends with, told me that he was my hometeacher I felt like something had been lost. Now he is obligated to me. I don't think we're friends anymore. I certainly can't tell him about my struggles. I must make up excuses for why I haven't been going to church and tell him all is well. I'm happy. Smiles. No there isn't anything you can do for me right now, maybe take out the trash? Yes, I'll let you know if I need anything. See you next month.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

some girls are bigger than others

I was at Target today and there was a rack of $5 tights, really cute tights in all different colors. There were golden tights and some in dark teal; there were pink, red, green tights.  I was ready to buy a pair in every color. Only, the XL tights were limited to black and gray, and they were very nearly gone. The mediums and smalls in the lovely colors were piled high.  I guess fat girls aren't allowed to buy golden tights? Maybe they think they'll sell fewer of them because fat people don't shop for anything but sweatpants? Funny how all the XLs were almost out of stock.

Before that I was with some friends at Kohls and I thought I'd look and see if they have any jeans.  Again, they had them piled high in sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, but very few in 16 and none in 18. I looked around the store and saw a lot of larger women and I wondered where they bought all of their clothes. You'd think that of all the places that would stock larger sizes in misses would be the place where moms shop for their momjeans. Why are fat women exiled to fat lady specialty shops? I personally can't shop in "plus size" clothing stores because a) all the clothes there are ugly and b) I lack girth in the hip and thigh area. A size 18 in misses will fit me fine, and a size 18 or a 1X in "plus size" will fall off of me.

I suppose it's a good thing that it's nearly impossible for me to find clothes, because, as a friend told me recently, I'm kind of addicted to shopping.  I guess it's better to shop and shop and shop and never find any thing to buy than to be surrounded by cute clothes that actually fit. It's saving me money.

Remember, some girls are bigger than others...


a string of randoms

I've decided that if I blog things instead of just posting stuff on facebook it would be more accessible to me at a later date.  So here are some of those things.

This video brings me endless joy.


Also, I've found this extension for Google Chrome that will switch out gendered words: he for she, him for her, man for woman, woman for man, etc. I'm excited about this because it's an extremely useful tool for seeing how strongly our culture favors masculine pronouns, and it's already something feminists have used to point these things out. We do it all the time in my feminist religious philosophy class.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm quiet because I have been thinking.

I'm finally really in the school groove again. The struggle to stay focused and keep up with my readings is turning into a joy for having the opportunity to spend all day reading and researching. There's so much to do and so little time! I love it! 

I am liking Louisville more, or perhaps disliking it less. Sometimes I go eat sushi and share my life philosophy with people I like. Sometimes I hang out with my nineteen year old roommate and laugh a lot. We make fun of things, like bad horror movies and dweeby lead singers of crappy local indie bands. Last night she and I drove to Lexington to see a noncrappy, nonlocal, but kind of dweeby band, Beirut. Life is always worth living when there is a concert to go to, I think. Especially when all of the band members are adorable and someone is rocking out on the tuba.

This isn't proof that we were at the show, but it is proof that we were in Lexington, just like William Clark was once.

Beirut

Here's a video I took myself.  We were in the little hornplayer's home town, with his family taking up the first three rows of the theater, so I think he was showing off a bit.


I'm reading Dante (again) and I've decided that my all time favorite line is the last one in the Commedia: "l'amore che move il sole e l'altre stelle", the love that moves the sun and other stars. This, the last line of poem, its apex, is Dante's vision of God, and the words have been stuck in my head for days now. God is the love that moves. If I were to ever get a tattoo, this line would be it. 




Thursday, September 29, 2011

past life as a blast

So I live in Kentucky now, and nearly every day I wake up a little panicked and think "What the hell am I doing in Kentucky?"  Some days I wake up and think I'm in London and then remember that no, I am in Kentucky.  On those days I have a difficult time getting out of bed.   I don't have anything against Kentucky itself.  I'm sure it's a lovely place.  I just don't get to see much of it these days since I have no car and I live in a train yard.  A train yard next to an airport, landlocked and trapped without a car.  Oh, and there have been a series of break-ins and muggings in the neighborhood. Last week a group of people went through the apartment complex, broke in to places, stole car keys and then stole a bunch of cars.  The other day some guys forced their way into someone's house nearby and robbed them.  Yesterday 2 people were mugged in broad daylight next to the campus.


Friday, August 26, 2011

living on the boundary, part one: the feminist/Mormon paradox

I've been thinking about boundaries a lot in the last several years: interstitial spaces where meaning is suspended, liminal spaces where meaning is not yet realized, broken and fragmented spaces where meaning is renegotiated.  Because boundaries are so much on my mind, I'm expecting I'll be blogging about them more in the future as I try to sort certain ideas out in my brain.  That's why I'm calling this post "part one".  There's more to come.

I'm currently reading a rather radical feminist theology by Mary Daly called Beyond God the Father, and while I'm not entirely convinced of all of her ideas, I do appreciate the point she makes of living on the boundary.  She's referring to feminism and patriarchal, hierarchical, and sexist religious traditions, and about the choices we have as feminists to continue practicing these religions.  She suggests the possibility of living on the boundary of a patriarchal organization by "weighing such factors as the positive merits that the institution may have in spite of its sexism, and judging how strong are the possibilities of changing and/or using it without losing a disproportionate amount of creative energy in the effort."  I believe this is what most Mormon feminists are doing, or what we must do in the end.  Some decide it costs too much creative energy and give up looking for the positive merits of the institution.  Some decide to live perpetually on the border "transferring the center of activity to our new space on the edge of such patriarchal space."  I like the visual image this offers.  The center of our activity is on the edge, and so we move around that center, in and out of the patriarchal institution.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

the walk of life

Ok, enough of this not blogging.  It's been two months and if I let it go any longer I'll never blog again.  As most summers go, I allowed my brain to shut down almost completely in June.  I stopped reading, writing, speaking coherently, and thinking academically.   Maybe not entirely, but for the first weeks back from London I was certainly in a haze, and I'm pretty sure I spent most of my time staring blankly at a wall.

Yes, I am back from London.  And not only am I returned, I've also moved to Kentucky.  Isn't that weird? It feels weird.  I spent exactly one month in Utah, from July 15 to August 15, and I didn't particularly want to leave it again.  How can I go from London to my home, and then move on to Louisville, Kentucky?  A place I've never seen, where every one is a stranger, and now I suddenly have to live there for four years?  It's very weird.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

until the spirit new sensation takes hold then you know

I hate the fact that I haven't been posting regularly.  So many things have been happening, and I feel like I have a million excuses to keep me from a blog.  One is school.  I spent most of last week in the library and most of the next couple of weeks will also be in the library.  I have an essay due in less than 2 weeks, and I need to get all of my research done for my dissertation in 3 weeks.

Because I only have 3 weeks left in London.

This makes me want to cry.

I'm just now beginning to realize what an amazing place this is, what a fantastic opportunity it has been for me to be here, the things I have learned that are even now changing who I am and how I see the world, lessons I'll take with me to my PhD program, that I'll take with me throughout my life, I hope.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

a Canterbury tale

Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
  
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
  
And smale foweles maken melodye,
  
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
  
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
  
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
  
And specially, from every shires ende

Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for the seke

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke


Cathedral and St. Augustine Abbey ruins
If you don't know already, those are the first lines from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. I had to memorize these first lines in Middle English and recite them in a class I took on the 14th Century, and it was actually really fun. (If you've never heard anyone read these lines in the Middle English before, I've included the youtube video at the bottom of the page.) For the few of you who don't speak Middle English, here's the gist: Once spring comes along in April, and the weather starts getting really nice, people grow a little antsy and start thinking about leaving the house and going on a pilgrimage. A lot of those people, from all over England, head out to Canterbury to visit the cathedral where St. Thomas a Beckett was martyred. And there you have it.

Today I joined in that very long tradition of pilgrims to the shrine in the Canterbury Cathedral.  Just like Chaucer explains, once the weather turns nice and the warm breezes blow I get antsy and feel compelled to leave the city, enjoy the clean country air, and visit some cathedrals.  Today was the loveliest day I could have chosen for such a pilgrimage.  My journey was actually quite short. Since I took the fast train from London, it was only a 50 minute, rather comfortable and boring, pilgrimage.  There certainly wasn't enough time to tell any tales (and I was alone anyway), but I did enjoy the beautiful countryside.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

some huge news

Oh dear.

It has been 2 weeks since I last blogged.  It has also been 2 weeks since I've been in Utah, and only 5 days before I will be leaving Utah.  The visit has gone by very quickly, and it has been slightly adventurous, and I got to see almost all of my favorite living breathing people.  There are a lot of them here in Utah.  One of the highlights of the trip was a long hike in the snow and mud and darkness.  Well, making it out alive was the highlight really.

Guys, I have some news.  I've only told a handful of people about this because I wasn't sure how to react or what I would do, but I'm getting a little used to the idea so I want to share it now.  I got an email on Monday informing me that I had been awarded a fellowship from the University of Louisville.  The award is full tuition, health benefits and an $18,000 stipend for 2 years.  After the first 2 years I will receive a Graduate Teaching Assistantship for the same amount; for the first 2 there are no work duties.

Like I said, I haven't been sure how to react to this news.  I'm a little scared, a little overwhelmed, and slightly convinced that they've made a huge mistake.

On the other hand getting $18,000 with "no work duties" sounds like my kind of job.  And really, it is a dream come true.  It is a prayer answered.

Guess I'm moving to Louisville this fall.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

my favorite person in London

I first met Sara in New York in November, 2008.  She was packing around a sweet potato pie and we saw Daniel Radcliffe naked.  Fast forward to June, 2010.  Again, in New York, but this time randomly on the subway, I found out she was moving to London in the fall and we talked about her research interests.  I envied her, because I had applied to a program in London in April and hadn't heard from them yet. I didn't have hopes of going.  Fast forward to July, 2010: I'm moving to London.

So before coming out here I only met this girl twice, but I liked her.  Not only was she carrying around a sweet potato pie the first time we met, she also climbed onto someone's shoulders for a better view of DR coming out of the stage door after the play, while I held her pie. I don't think we saw him, but the girl made me laugh really hard.  When I came out here I knew no one but Sara, and we had been corresponding a little over our blogs and email, but I didn't expect her to become such an important friend in my life. 

I love Sara.  I really do.  She is an angel.  I mean, come on, look at this face!


She really is an angel though, and I think I opened up to her and told her my whole life story the first time we ever hung out.  She's hilarious, but serious. Silly, but thoughtful.  I've learned that it's ok to argue with her, and she'll still like me even if she yells at me.  When I hang out with her I turn into one of those loud Americans that everyone hates, but I can't help it because she's so funny.  And she's been the best London friend I could have hoped for.  I came here knowing no one and Sara was there the whole time.  I'm leaving tomorrow for a few weeks and while I don't think I'll miss London too much while I'm gone, I already miss Sara. We've had some pretty great adventures, including dancing like mad women at an LCD Soundsystem show, and then there was that whole Brighton/Bath fiasco that ended up still being fun. We've walked all over the place, and last week we met at Primrose Hill and realized that London is really ugly. 
Ugly London, Lovely Sara
She also loves Jaffa Cakes.  In fact, we just finished off a box of Jaffa Cakes right before I took that picture of her on Primrose Hill.  And for that, she has my heart forever. 

Love you Sara! Happy Birthday!! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

maybe my life is a movie: Will Sheff's soloish show at Old St. Pancras Church, London

I've been trying to think all day long about how I can blog about last night.  When I got home and skyped with my sisters I utilized squeals, clapping hands and other visual aids to convey my excitement and joy.  It's hard to clap my hands and squeal in a blog post.  

I've loved Okkervil River for a lot of years now, and this was the 4th time I've seen them in some form or another.  It's too bad that the whole band wasn't there, but the intimacy of the venue and all of the things that happened because of that marks this show as one of my favorites of all time.  It was at Old St. Pancras Church, a tiny church that has been there since the 4th century and which if you recall I recently blogged about, and I got there pretty early, as I do, and got a seat right at the front.  


The show itself was nice and quiet. Everyone stayed seated for most of it, which was great because I've not been feeling well lately and i didn't have to stand up that whole time. I sat next to a girl from Italy with a really lovely thick British accent (who I will refer to as L.), who happens to be friends with Patrick, Okkervil River's bassist, who was also there with Will. She and I struck up a friendly conversation that made the hour or so wait fly by, and Patrick kept coming over to talk to her, which was exciting for me.  

The performance was fantastic.  The lighting and sound were crap but it didn't matter because we were all so close anyway.  It was very intimate, and at one point, for "A Stone", one of my favorite songs, he started wandering into the audience and was standing directly in front of me. Like 2 feet away. And the song was beautiful.  He sang it slowly and sumptuously and even added an extra verse. Everyone was enthralled.  I couldn't help but me tremendously moved, and after the song everyone exploded in applause that lasted forever. It was such a perfect moment.


For the encore Will came out and played "For Real" on a little old piano at the back of the church.  Everyone got up and gathered around the piano and L. and I were standing on some chairs. I had left my coat and scarf on my chair, and when i came back, underneath scarf was the SET LIST. Someone put it there!  You can imagine my delighted surprise.  Who put it there? and why? I thought maybe L. did but she was with me the whole time. So i folded it and put it in my pocket, with a stupid grin plastered to my face.  

After the show Patrick and Will were out talking to people, including L. so I kind of pushed my way into the circle and L. introduced me to both of them. (I didn't tell Will that we had met before in Salt Lake when I chased him into a bathroom). But it gets better. After I met Will, Patrick asked me if I liked the little gift he hid for me. After a second, it clicked.  The set list! he put it there!!  Happy birthday me!!! I stuck around with L and some american dudes and after Patrick had helped pack up the gear he came out and talked to us for a little while.  As he was saying goodbye to us and he gave me a hug and said "I'm happy I got to be your little elf." I think I died right there.
Best. Gift. Ever. 

It was a lovely night, a lovely show with fantastic people.  I was smiling the whole time and couldn't help but think how awesome my life is right now.  I did record some video, but it didn't turn out so well so I'm not going to post it.  I wish the lighting had been a bit better, and I also realized this morning that I should have got a picture with Will, and it never crossed my mind.  Oh well. Next time.  And there will be a next time because they're going to be here in May! And hopefully I'll get to go with L.  Can't wait. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm stupidly happy, like the words to that song

I'm kind of in love with my life right now, and it seems to just keep getting better.  And even though there are parts that don't seem to be getting any better, I feel like I am getting better.  I feel like making a list of all the great things that are happening.

First, church.  I love church.  I love it.  For the last couple of months I've felt like the only thing going well in my life was church, which has never happened before, and which made all the other crappy things that were happening feel less crappy.  I have two callings, Sunday School Teacher and Volunteer Temple Worker, and they have kind of changed my life. We're studying the New Testament this year, which is my favorite book of scripture, and I love being able to study it closely and teach about it.  I love reading about the life of Christ, the things he taught and did, and I am

Thursday, March 10, 2011

how many holes does it take to fill up Albert Hall?

For most of my life I've been trying to convince people how important art is.  I've been preaching that art is good for the soul, that it will bring you to a heightened sense of self awareness, world awareness, people awareness. Art can make you a better person.  I believed my professors when they told me this, and I hoped my students believed it when I taught them this. But honestly? I don't know if I ever really felt it, and sometimes I wondered if I was straight up lying to them.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

what a way to make a living...

Oh dear, what have I got myself into?

Something you need to know about be is that I can be incredibly lazy.  I know a lot of people say that about themselves when it's not true, but I seriously think I'm allergic to work, like normal people 9 to 5 kind of work.  You know that song by Dolly Parton? Yeah, that scares the hell out of me.  I'm idealistic and lazy, and that kind of work is just not for me.  This is why I want to be an academic.  My idea of "work" is when I spend three or four 12 hour research/writing days in a row, followed by a couple of weeks of "thinking time".  I do consider thinking time to be working time, coming up with ideas, mulling them over, going to class and museums and movies and reading novels and watching BBC documentaries.  All of these things are important to me when it comes to those intense days of work, but to most people it's nothing more than decadent leisure time, the kind of time people have to carefully plan for in the busy working lives.

Don't worry, I feel guilty about it.  I know I'm living the life, and essentially avoiding "real" work.  I really don't expect anyone to pay for me to live this lifestyle, and as much as I hope to someday be a famous scholar and professor at prestigious university, I really kinda don't want to work for anyone, especially a university.  Most of my like-minded friends decided to become school teachers, which I would have done if I didn't have such a problem with authority and administration.  I saw academic life as a life of freedom, but I'm not so naive these days; I know I won't be able to get through my entire life without it being taken over by work.

I really just don't like people telling me what to do.  I know what I need to do and I just need space and time to do it.  I'm a huge brat that way.

Bearing all of this in mind and adding the fact that I come from a long line of entrepreneurs (my great uncle invented the franchise system when he joined up with Colonel Sanders to start KFC, my great grandma owned a beauty salon, my grandparents owned a business building horse trailers, my mom started several business when I was growing up), plus the fact that I have a very like-minded sister with the same aversion to authority, and it almost seems inevitable that we'd try to start our own business.

And so now I'm in it, and it's just like a real job except that I'm not getting any pay (as of now).  We've built a website, written a book, and work several hours a day trying to build an online presence, and now I must write content for a blog to post every single day.  (It takes me hours just to prepare a post for this blog, and I only post about once a week.) Plus, you know, it is an editing business and we're hoping to get some clients so that I can do more work editing manuscripts.

Holy crap! What is going to happen to my museum days and matinĂ©e films and long leisurely walks through the city?  On top of school, no less.  And you know what's just around the corner?  Spring, that's what. Spring and picnics and long leisurely walks through the park, and concerts and then summer is going to be here and how can I possibly work 8 hours a day in summer??

Oh goodness, it really is time for me to grow up and join reality, isn't it?  Really though, I love Arch Editing, and I'm confident that it will work out.  I love the website and the blog and the book and I love editing, and even if I do have to work 8 hours a day, I can start those 8 hours after I go to a museum, or I can take a 2 hour lunch to walk through the park.  There is freedom in that.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

flapjacks, research, libraries, blogs, loos, anti-fashion, and horror (or, just a normal wednesday)

Did you know the British Library has the tastiest apple crisp bars in the entire world?  They're inexplicably called "apple blackberry flapjacks." There aren't any blackberries in them, and they definitely aren't flapjacks. I don't know if the British know what a flapjack is. 

Yes, I am in the British Library.  Again.  I live here, I can't escape it, even when I try it lures me back with its delicious apple crisp bars (and its books).  

I bought a really expensive notebook today and decided that I would do some research in the BL the old fashioned way, just me and a book and an expensive notebook, oh and a pencil.  I read the book and took notes without the use of my computer.  It was tricky at first.  My hand was definitely unsure of itself as it tried to write words, constantly skipping letters and forgetting how to form certain shapes.  It's true, I don't do much handwriting these days, and it took a while to get back into it.  

Before coming to the library I worked all morning. Like, proper work.  If you know me, you know I have an aversion to work.  But, as much as I hate working, my aversion to authority is even greater, and if I don't work hard on the business my sister and I are starting, then I'll have to work for someone else some day, which sounds like the worst thing imaginable.  So I started a new blog for archediting.com. We want it to be a writing resource, covering everything from proper grammar to getting published.  We'll review books and blogs and write our own handy little articles.  I am excited for it, but I know it's going to be SO much work.  

Also, this is brilliant. http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2011/03/02/a-map-of-londons-public-toilets/  This guy has mapped out all of the public toilets in London!  Apparently there's more than 800 here, which is awesome considering there's 3 in Rome.  It's handy to know where to find them. What a clever idea.   

Oh, and I did this to my hair the other day.  


I felt the need to dye it, and I initially wanted to do bright pink streaks, but I decided to be a little more conservative and go for the red.  But there is an old lady who I see at the BL and she has the exact same hair as me, so I'm thinking I will do the pink as soon as I find some good hair dye.  I didn't do it try to be cool or anything...in fact I feel like it's probably really uncool for a 27 year old to dye her hair pink.  I did it because I don't really care.  My hair doesn't need to be perfect, and I don't need to try to preserve its pristine state and color.  It can look like crap, which it definitely does today.  I've probably been reading too much about punk anti-fashion.  Or maybe it's because I've realized none of it really matters: clothes, hair, make up. It doesn't matter and I don't care.  There, you can believe that or not.  I'm not sure if I do completely, I just know that the easiest thing for me to do is dye my hair, wear lots of black eye shadow and start making my own clothes because I can't buy the things I like anyway because i'm broke and nothing I like fits.  When I go home in April I'm going to go through all my old clothes, or go to the charity shops, and make skirts out of anything I think will work.  I'm excited about this.  I also have some sweaters I've worn all winter that could very easily be turned into summer skirts.  

Finally, I'm going to admit this, I started reading Crash by J.G. Ballard.  Woah. I don't know if I can make it through the whole book...I'm surprised I got through the first chapter.  It is definitely disturbing and painful to look at, on so so many levels, but there's something intensely compelling about how it's written that makes me want to finish it.  It reminds me of watching a really awful horror movie where you can't get into the horror, you just float above it, paying more attention to how it is all crafted than to the actual terrible things that are happening.  That's how I watch horror movies anyway, and probably why I love them so much.  I haven't seen a good horror movie in months, and I really need to sit down and watch something soon. I miss Susperia and The Shining and The Omen and all of those wonderful movies I used to watch all of the time.  It's time to get back into that.  Remember how I wrote my Masters thesis on zombies?  yeah, those were good times.  

And there you have it.  That's my random blog for the day.  thanks for enduring, if you did. 

kisses! 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

wherefore Joy Division? or, why I am prepared to devote my life to writing about a band

The first time I ever heard Joy Division was in a tiny kitchen in a tiny apartment in Rome.  I was doing a study abroad at the time and my (very cool) room mate had just received a cd in the mail from a close friend back in Utah.  Back then we still listened to cds, and because supply was limited, we made each other lots of mixed cds. It was 2004 and not only was it the first time I'd heard Joy Division, it was also the first time I'd seen an ipod. I'm glad I lived at a time when acquiring music was so difficult and such a special event. I only brought about 10 discs with me, and I listened to theses over and over, so it was a huge treat to get more cds in the mail.  I remember my friend being very excited about these particular albums, and we all sat around the table listening to them one evening.  It was probably raining outside, and we were probably eating crepes with nutella.

The only song I recognized by Joy Division was "Love Will Tear Us Apart", but the rest was completely new to me.  My friend told us the story of Ian Curtis, how he had epilepsy and had killed himself when he was 23, and how the band had turned into New Order.  I didn't quite get Joy Division at the time, or why my friend was so moved by the songs and so excited about them, but I did know that there was something there, something worth further exploration. Apart from when my friend would play the cds in the kitchen, I didn't listen to Joy Division much until I came back from Rome and somehow acquired their entire discography, probably from my little sister.

Joy Division is a band that never stops giving.  I became really interested in punk in 2005; I listened to the Sex Pistols all of the time and I did my final project for a class on the carnivalesque in punk culture, and I remember when I realized that Joy Division had been a punk band called Warsaw before they were Joy Division, before they were New Order.  I'm telling you, this BLEW my mind.  How could New Order be so directly connected to punk?  What were all of the other connections to punk that I didn't know about?  It turns out, a lot.

In 2007 the film Control came out.  Control is a black and white biopic about Joy Division based on the book Ian Curtis's wife wrote.  I don't remember when or where I first watched it, but I remember crying and I remember how beautiful the film was.  In the October 2008 I was in bit of a car accident and my sister's friend wanted to buy me a movie to watch while I was home recovering.  I requested Control, which might not have been the best film to watch as I healed, since I was feeling quite down at the time, but it did help me, the beauty and the music and everything about it that I loved.

And so for the last few years I've been listening casually to Joy Division, loving their music and their story and their fascinating place in music history.  When I couldn't think of a topic to write about for my last class my professor directed me to the book Gothic which has articles about contemporary gothic in art, literature, music, etc.  In is there was an article about Goth music and culture in the 80s and the author wrote that Joy Division was what Goth could have become.  This really struck me, making it sound as if this band was something that could have happened, could have had a major impact on the world, but some how stopped.  Their understated and restrained style didn't fit in 100% with the Goth aesthetic and so it passed them up in the end.  Goth is never going away, and it used to be quite mainstream in the 80s and 90s, but it's gone a lot more underground recently, in my experience anyway.  But Joy Division has surged in popularity.  My friend in 2004 who loved them was not a Goth and was not unlike a lot of young people who were really in tune with what was happening musically.  This girl knew what was going on, and Joy Division was taking a very strong hold on my generation, 25 years after Ian Curtis killed himself. From what I know about popular culture, which I feel confident enough that I have a good idea of what's happening right now, Joy Division is what Goth has become, in a manner of speaking.  A working class, restrained melancholy, timeless music that influenced some of our huge indie bands in 21st century, a very cool and understated style that spoke to a  post 9/11 generation, in short everything that Joy Division embodied is what is happening right now.

And so I wrote my melancholy paper on Joy Division, on the myth surrounding them, and on the culture that influenced them and that exists now because of them.  I loved researching it, I loved writing it, and I'm going to turn it into a book, because I have so much more to say about it.

I turned the paper in last Thursday and I thought that I would just be sick of listening to their music since that's the only thing I've listened to in the last two weeks.  But I can't stop.  When I put on Unknown Pleasures I am just giddy and in awe and in love with every song and how it surges and the strange tones and sounds that come from it, and Ian Curtis's voice and words and it's just everything that I want in listening to an album.

Like I said, Joy Division is a band that keeps on giving.  I will continue to research them, continue to read about them, continue to listen to their music, and I know that I'll keep learning and loving them more and more as I do so.  I'll post a PDF of my paper soon if you're interested in reading it.  In the meantime, here are a couple of videos for you to enjoy. :)



(there are some F-words in this video)






When they were a punk band called Warsaw

getting back into the swing of things

It's been over two weeks since I last blogged, which is no good.  When I don't blog it means several things: I'm too busy, I'm too tired, and I'm not doing anything interesting.  This was all true in the last two weeks.  I had a paper due on the 24th so I basically checked out of the living world and set myself up a home in the BL (my very cool nickname for the British Library).  I didn't do anything but research.  I didn't take any interesting walks, I didn't go to to any museums or concerts.  I never hung out with any people.  In fact I went for least 4 days in a row without speaking to anyone but the librarians.

A few things about the BL. After being in there every day you start noticing the regulars.  One is a man dressed all in black with a black fedora and a spaghetti mustache (I'm sure they're not called that, but you know what I mean).  He has a very elaborate set up and even finds a big black office chair from somewhere.  On some days he has stacks of books about guitars, and on other days he has stacks of books about the mafia.  I think he's the official historian for the mafia, but that doesn't really explain the guitars.

My favorite librarian is a very tall, thin man with long grey hair, a funny little accent and an amused grin on his face at all times.  He's Dracula.  Count Dracula made it to England, set himself up and works at the British Library. He's my favorite librarian.

Also, there's another J. Stokes in the library and I keep getting their books.  I wonder if they get mine and what they think of me when they have to send back 21st Century Goths and Famous Suicides.  


I'm going to make a separate blog post about the research I've been doing lately, but I will say it has been incredibly fun.  I have yet to find a topic that is so engrossing for me, and I'm considering expanding my last essay into the larger project I have due at the end of summer.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

under slate-gray Victorian sky, here you'll find my heart and I

I haven't been feeling my best these last few days, emotionally or physically. I still managed to get some nice walks in, despite the lack of sleep and the moping. I seriously have been mopey, like wandering in the rain listening to Morrissey kind of mopey. It's ok, you can laugh at me. I know I'm dramatic.  I almost feel compelled to walk now, especially knowing how hard my sister is working to get ready for our long hike this summer.  I feel my best when I'm walking, even if it is gloomy walking in the rain, it feels better than sitting at home feeling gloomy.

London is the best place for gloomy walks, too.  Yesterday I walked north, not knowing what I'd expect to find.  The area, Camden and St. Pancras, is relatively new compared to the places I had been walking in the City earlier this week.  The buildings are all newer, and the oldest ones I saw where Victorian.  I walked past this great, very old, mortuary: Leverton & Sons, since 1782, it said on the window.  That's right when burying people became a viable business.  A lot of people began to be buried outside of church yards in the late 18th century because of overcrowding.  There's a Georgian cemetery by my house that I've blogged about before that was the first cemetery in London not in a church yard.  It took a lot of years for people to get used to the idea since their ancestors had been buried next to, or under, a church for the last thousand years.  Also, the Victorians really loved a show when it came to funerals, so these "funeral directors" were quite important and ended up making a lot of money.


Speaking of cemeteries and church yards, I discovered the loveliest little church on my walk.  It's the Old St. Pancras church and has been there since around 300 AD, or at least some form of the building.  It was set quite far outside the city in a lovely little field next to the River Fleet, which the Victorians filled up and made into a road.  Those Victorians really drive me crazy.  They had their meddling little fingers in everything.

Anyway, the most interesting part of the church was the cemetery and the most interesting part of the cemetery is what they call the Hardy Tree.  The novelist and poet Thomas Hardy didn't become a writer until late in his life, and when he was a young man he worked for an architectural firm.  They were putting in the railway that would lead to St. Pancras train station, and needed to go through part of the St. Pancras church yard, so Hardy was given the task of exhuming and reburying all of the bodies in the church yard.  This was a lot of bodies.  I don't think people realize how full church yards got.  They would literally be overfilled with bodies, there were more people than dirt, and this is why they started trying to promote cemeteries outside the city in the last 18th century.  There just wasn't enough space.  So, Hardy was in charge of moving all these bodies, and then he had all of the head stones to contend with, which because of the lovely English weather had been corroded beyond recognition.  There was no point in trying to keep them with the bodies, so he stacked them around this tree.


You can see the Old St. Pancras church behind the Hardy Tree.  It's tiny.  I just loved this little area, and I was surprised at how large the church yard still is. You can definitely imagine what it would have been like out in a field by a rushing river.  Just beautiful, and the perfect gloomy walk.

btw, the title of my post comes from the deliciously melancholic song called "Come Back to Camden" which I just love listening to when walking through Camden.  You must watch this video.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

the wall

The history geek in me took over my body today and spent three hours tracing the ancient Roman wall of Londinium.  I love the word Londinium. It sounds like I made it up, but I didn't.  That's what the Romans called it.  They came here in 43 AD and stuck around until 400 AD or so, and they didn't even build a wall until around 200 AD.  Some say that they don't really know why the Romans decided that they needed to build a wall.  I think it must have been that they were Romans and Romans need to build massive things.


It was originally 20 feet high and 2 miles in length, and it did end up being useful to raise money since most of the gates were tolled gates.  Most of the wall is gone now, except for little bits, but it didn't get torn down until the 17th and 18th centuries, and a lot of it simply got absorbed into buildings, or used as foundation, and in most spots it's buried 15 feet under the road.  After the blitz in 1940 a lot of the west side of the wall became visible, and all of the awful rebuilding they did in the 1960s (Barbican...ugh) was done around the exposed wall.  I bet they just loved building super modern ugly buildings next to those ancient ruins.  I bet they thought it was a really powerful contrast.  It's kind of funny now that some of those areas seem to be falling themselves into a bit of a ruinous state.


It was a bit tricky to find all the parts of it.  I had to use a walking tour podcast that I didn't really care too much for because it took way too long to do, and a lot of times the guy just read off the plaques that were right in front of me.  But, now I know where to go to find the wall, and I hope I can show other people because it really is a neat thing to see.

Now, ruins trouble me a bit.  I remember when I first saw the Forum in Rome and hating it.  I couldn't see the point a bone yard in a beautiful vibrant living city.  I've since learned that the hot, empty boneyard of the Forum used to be a mosquito infested swamp with some grassy areas where cows lived.  And the horrid bare Colosseum was up until the late 19th century covered in hundreds of plants that weren't found any where else in Italy and had likely been transported there by all of the wild animals they brought from throughout the empire to slaughter.  It used to be a place where poets and lovers would wander and explore and bring picnics.  It's a shame those ruins don't have the same wildness to them anymore.

Another reason why ruins trouble me is because I think I always just took them for granted.  They were there in and of themselves.  I never thought of them actually becoming ruinous, or if I did it was in a romantic sort of decay.  It bothers me when I find out their actual histories.  Rome's Colosseum and Forum became stone quarries, the Parthenon was blown up by accident in the 17th century, the Roman wall in London was fully intact until the 19th century, when they decided to just tear it all down to make room for more buildings.

Although discovering these facts bothers me a little, in reality, I love that cities adapt, get rid of the things they don't need, recycle and reuse building materials.  That's a living city, and I think that's why I found the Forum in Rome so bothersome.  The bone yard, the sepulcher, is out of place there.

I'm glad I went out today to look at this. It is a fun walk, but my favorite part was not actually the wall. I promise to blog about that tomorrow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

nice day for a walk in the dark

Lord Nelson and Big Ben
I love to walk. (I've blogged about it before) Well, I have more of a love/hate relationship with walking, similar to that of my love/hate relationship with reading.  In both cases I hate how annoyingly slow it is; isn't better to watch a movie or fly down the road?  I guess in many ways it is, but I think being forced to take things slowly opens up a whole world of thought, introspection, and experiences that you never would have thought you could have.  That's why, even though I hate it, I'll spend two or three weeks reading a novel or force myself to walk a couple of miles when it would be infinitely easier to get on the tube.

On my way to the British Library the other day the sun was out and the sky was a remarkable blue, especially with the red brick against it.  
Walking forces me to look at things, not just glance at them.  I think I like glancing at things.  That's how I go to museums, I walk quickly through them and feel an odd sense of accomplishment if I've only spent an hour or so and seen all there was to see. (This is why I really need to visit museums more than once).
I went to the National Gallery the other day and took this picture before they yelled at me.  I loved the entrance and the little dome. 
I also like to do that when I shop; I size up the store, have an idea of what's in it, and then go back to the things I want to look  at.  When I am forced to look at things they start to become more interesting.  They aren't just shapes and colors.

I walked past the Burlington Arcade by Piccadilly Circus last night after it closed and it was so ghostly to see it empty with all the lights still on. 
Walking forces me to spend more time with me.  I love listening to books on tape when I walk because walking focuses my mind, but I also like to just spend time with me.  I think about who I am and what I want and where I want to go.  I address issues or insecurities I've been having.

I walk past these buildings on Marchmont Street every day.
So I've made a huge decision.  I'm going to keep walking, but I'm going to take it to a bit of an extreme.  I have a goal to go on two long distance walks this summer.  One is the Coleridge Way in Exmoor where he used to wander about.  It's 36 miles long, but you do it it 4 days.  I'm trying to get my sister to come with me. I think it will be magical.  The other walk is 70 miles through the Scotland Highlands.  Maybe this is madness, but I know that it would be an experience of a life time, plus I don't want to visit Scotland and just stay in the cities. If I go up there I want to be outdoors and hiking across mountains.  I love living in London, but I don't really want to visit cities anymore.  I don't care about museums and buildings.  I want sky and rocks.

So, in order to get ready for these trips I'm going to save my money as best as I can (and good news this week I got the rest of my loan so I actually have a little bit right now) and start doing long distance walks around London.  There are actually a few "trails" set up called The Big Seven and I'm making it a goal to do all of them.  One is actually 150 miles in total, but you take it by 8 miles or so in 24 increments, and it loops around the whole of London metropolis.  It's actually called LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path)

I'm really excited about this. I'm excited to walk and see everything. My first long walk will be a 6 mile walk through London tracing the  routes outlined in Virginia Woolf's novel Night and Day which I just finished reading.  Walking is a major theme in that novel, and most of the events happen when the characters are walking by the river.  I've been to most of the places in the novel, but I think it would be good to make a morning of it and stop by the Tate Britain since I haven't been since last week.

 St. Martins-in-the-Fields by Trafalgar Square.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Emil Alzamora's Stretched Figures

I love these sculptures by Emil Alzamora, seen on Beautiful/Decay Cult of the Creative Arts. I love how they stretch and manipulate the human form to create such beautiful, and disturbing, shapes. And I love how with each one, no matter how odd the manipulation may be, the beauty of the human form shines through.

Friday, January 28, 2011

take me down to the country, honey

I miss animals.  I miss the country.  I miss the desert.  I miss my family. I miss good Mexican food.  I feel like I'm torn between two worlds.  I love London and all of the art, the libraries, the beautiful old buildings, the museums, the history and the culture, the myriad of languages and accents I hear chattered outside my window, but half of me is in Utah.  As much as I love Utah, however, I was never satisfied there; I never felt at ease.  I was always anxious, always ready to leave, to travel or move far far away.  I was always anxious about friends too.  If I didn't spend quality time with an array of people throughout my week I felt lonely and miserable.  In London I'm alone 80% of my time, and I don't notice it.  I don't feel lonely and miserable.  I may miss everything I left behind, but I'm finally at ease.  Surprisingly, I feel most calm on the Tube. Shoved into a crowded Piccadilly train headed to church or to a museum, I know that all is right in the world and that I am where I want to be.  Odd, I know.

my little sister Lindy with some puppies. the North Hills are behind her
I love being in cities, and I love being in the country.  My earliest, most formative years were spent in the country, surrounded by beauty and sadness, life and death.  Living in the country can be as busy, beautiful and tragic as living in the city.

Some of our doggies. the border collie in the middle was my puppy Bobbie.  I loved her more than anything.

We lived even outside the small town, and I'm grateful for that.  There's a distinct difference between small town life and proper country life.  I'm pretty sure I blogged about it before, but outside of small towns you live a little more distanced from the local politics and gossips.  I rarely played with neighbor children, just my sisters and my dogs, and I think it gave me a spirit of independence I wouldn't have got in the small town nearby.  I had 20 acres to explore.  I was the luckiest girl in the world, and I know that that is what made me who I am today.  Like Wordsworth above Tintern Abbey,
                            
                               Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

As cheesy as it may sound, that's what nature is for me: the anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, guide and guardian of my heart, soul and moral being.  And yet, here I am in London.  Is that strange?  Will I ever be able to go back to the country and feel as satisfied there as I do here?  I hope so.  I'd like to bookend my life with the country, with animals and gardens, fields and mountains, and hard physical work keeping it all from falling apart.  If I have a family I'd like them to benefit from life in the country like I did.

yeah, we played in the mud
mom liked to dress us up and take pictures of us in the garden
Tomorrow I'm going to the London LDS Temple and it will be nice to get out of the city and enjoy a bit of the countryside.  I'm looking forward to some peace and quiet.  I think they also have some geese and ducks by the temple, and I just love ducks!  

P.S. My post title is a reference to a T. Rex song I like.  I love T. Rex. 


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

i love London: the British Library

My life is changing.  I'm becoming one of those people who spends all day, hours on end, in the library, eagerly and frantically reading and taking notes because there simply is not enough time to learn everything.  I never understood before how people could do it every day.  I only ever did it at the end of terms when final papers were soon due, but never without anything impending.

And yet, here I am in the library, reading page after page without break, because there's something I must uncover, and I'm not sure yet what it is.  There's no time for a break, but I'm at the point where the words I read don't actually go into my brain, so I thought maybe that means it's time I start pouring out some of the extra words so I can start filling it up again.

I had a bit of a crisis this weekend.  I was supposed to go to Oxford to visit a friend, and since last week had been a little awful, I wasn't feeling so great.  The stress was building and then I found out that I might not get all the loan money I need this term and I just snapped.  I started crying in a puddle on the floor and ended up missing my train to Oxford.  It was dumb, and I was very mad at myself.   But, it pushed me to start working on finding a job so I spent the whole day looking.  I applied for 3 jobs on Sunday night, which I was proud of myself for doing, but I haven't heard back from them yet. I desperately need an income, so I'm really hoping something will work out.

Moving on the important part of my post...  I love London.  And I love the British Library.  It's really not the most charming of buildings, especially squatting next to what I like to call the Gothic Monster (St. Pancras train station).


 But I still love it.  I love the big terraced courtyard, and when it gets warmer it will probably be a nice place to read a book in the sunshine.  I also love the inside.  I love all of the natural lighting and the tall ceilings.


It's really a beautiful space.  I couldn't take pictures of the readings rooms, but they're similar.  Large, open, with vaulted ceilings and lots of natural light.  They also have large desk space and big comfy chairs to sit in.  I love the reading rooms.  Here's another view of the main entrance.


I forgot to take a picture of it, but there's a painting on the wall by the entrance that is just the word YES over and over and over again.  I love it.  It's very affirming.  

So this is where I've been spending most of my time lately.  One of the other perks is that it is literally a 2 minute walk from where I live, so I can come home for lunch very easily, and it's only 4 train stops from where I plan on living in the summer.  I'm so glad I get to spend so much time in this building.  I love it.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

you are not my typewriter, but you could be my demon moving forward through the flaming doors


I've found that when I title posts with lines from songs I can trick the people who are looking up lyrics to read my blog.  So, if you're here looking for lyrics to Wilco's "War on War" you're still in luck!  They're at the end of the post, along with a nice video from youtube.  I hope that means if you're a Wilco fan you'll love me and start following my blog.  

Anyway, I thought of this particular song because, as you'll see, I mention a book in this post called Krieg dem Krieg, which translates into War on War.  It's a hard book to look at, so I don't recommend looking it up, but it's basically a propaganda book published by a pacifist to show the horrors of war.  It's very gruesome and unpleasant, but I think he drives his point home well enough.  Anyway, on with the post. 

I went to see the doctor today.  It was my first experience with national healthcare and I have to say that it so far really hasn't been that much different from my experience with privatized healthcare.  I did have to wait for twenty minutes, but I can't remember ever being directly ushered into an examine room in the States.  The appointment was for only 10 minutes, which is quite short, but I felt that it made it far more pleasant for me. The doctor was kind and efficient, he listened to me and referred me for blood tests and then I left.  The best part was that I left without having to settle a bill.  


Did you know that the NHS was established in 1948 so that healthcare could "meet the needs of everyone, be free at the point of delivery, and be based on clinical need, not ability to pay"? Such insanely radical, communist, ideas that can undo the entire economic and social system of a once great, and soon to be fallen nation.  oh.  wait.  The NHS was started in 1948? And it's 2011? Where are all the death panels? Am I missing something?

Also, why is it that in the US we rarely hear about national healthcare and its successes?  I didn't even know that the UK had national healthcare for so long.  I know the system is far from perfect, but it seems to be functioning.  I wish I'd known more about it during the healthcare debates last year. 

Anyway, I'm blogging now during my lunch break because I've decided that I need to compartmentalize my time a little bit more, and after lunch I must focus on researching at the library.  I've realized last night that if I want to stay in London to finish this PhD I must work much harder than I have been.  I need to submit papers to conferences and journals and I need to show that I'm using my time very wisely on my thesis research.  I have to give a presentation in a couple of weeks on my research and I want to blow their socks off.  

I've shifted the focus of my topic and I feel a lot less anxious and restrained now.  I'll keep talking about World War One and the body depicted in art from the time, but I've decided to expand the view into other wars and at the same time narrow down the kind of bodies I'm interested in looking at.  The type of body is the grotesque male and female body, and I'll look at stuff from Walt Whitman, to Goya, to the war poets, to Dix, to the Dada movement, to Catch 22.  I'll look at these depictions of the grotesque body often as a type of anti-war protest and also as means of healing and transcendence. That sounds nice, yeah?  Yeah, I thought so.  Here are some images I am considering: 

Dix, "Stormtroops advancing under a gas attack" from Der Krieg, Intaglio etching, drypoint

Goya, This is worse 1812-15 Etching and wash, 157 x 207 mm
Janco, Mask, 1919
Wounded Soldier from Krieg dem Krieg (War on War) 1924
I know that these aren't the easiest things to look at, and I apologize for that, but I think they are extremely compelling and necessary for us to be aware of. Also, I personally love what this artist has done with the idea of facial reconstruction, and I will definitely discuss him.  So now I'm off to the British Library to do some nice reading about the body in wars.  My goal is to spend the next 4 hours in there and come out with some great ideas.   

War on War 
by Wilco 

It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war
It's a war on war
There's a war on

You're gonna lose
You have to lose
You have to learn how to die

Just watching the miles flying by
Just watching the miles flying by
You are not my typewriter
But you could be my demon
moving forward through the flaming doors

You have to lose
You have to learn how to die
if you want to want to be alive, okay?

You have to lose
You have to lose
You have to learn how to die
if you want to want to be alive

You have to die
You have to die
You have to learn how to die
if you want to want to be alive, okay? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

living with a painting, day one

I was thinking the other day about how much I hate museums. I think I hate going to museums the same way I hate reading books: I get overwhelmed by the content and the time it takes for me to get through it all.  I hate that you have to "get through it all" at a museum, like there's a time limit.  You have to see everything in a couple of hours.  I personally can't be in a museum for longer than a couple of hours. I go mad and get angry and want to run away.  There's just too much stuff.  I hate how I can only give each painting a quick glance or, at most, five or seven minutes contemplating its lines and colors and textures and context and subject so superficially that I might as well not even look at it.  I forget it the moment I leave, unless I find a postcard of it in the gift shop, but the postcard is merely a reminder of its existence, a reminder that will probably find its way to the bottom of a pile of postcards, or tacked to a wall with fifty other reminders.

A museum is no way to view art.  Art should be lived with. How can I possibly understand a piece of art if I only glance at it, if it's not there with me to return to when I'm not thinking of anything in particular? It's funny how I thought of this and then when I started reading a book by Stephen Fry called The Ode Less Traveled about writing poetry, he says: Poems, "as with a good painting are not there to be greedily taken in at once, they are to be lived and endlessly revisited. The eye can go back and back and back, investigating new corners, new incidents and the new shapes that seem to emerge."  Clearly I need to live with a painting.

I've had this idea before but have never taken the time to see it through.  So I decided now was the perfect opportunity.  I would go to a local museum, find a painting and visit it every day for at least a week. I would spend at least an hour in its presence, not necessarily staring at it for an hour--I would write, listen to music, read, and the moments when I pause or get distracted I would look at the painting, and allow my eye to slip across it, lingering on a particularly lovely line or shading, sweeping through its figures and focusing on a bit of color I hadn't seen before.  This is how I want to experience art, not rushing through a museum so that I can say I've seen it all.

So today I went to the Tate Britain to meet my painting.  My criteria for choosing a painting were pretty arbitrary: 1) it had to be something I'd consider putting on my wall at home, a painting I wouldn't object living with, and 2) there had to be a soft seat near by.  That's all.  There were some early 20th century paintings I quite liked but not a soft chair in the room, so I moved on to another room  Finally I chose this painting:
It's called Theseus and the Minotaure (Interior at Minos) by Keith Vaughan finished in 1950.  I don't particularly love the painting, but that's one of the reasons I chose it.  It's like when you meet someone at school or church, and you get along fine but they're not your favorite person, and then you get to know them and sometimes you become pretty good friends, or at least you understand them better and can appreciate who they are.  That's kind of what I'm hoping will come of this experience.  

One interesting thing I noticed about the painting is that I counted 78 crescents in it.  That's a lot of crescents. That's pretty much what I got from it today, but I have a whole week to acquaint myself with it and think more about it.  Today was just the initial meeting.  I think this is going to be a fun experience.