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On Friday, I had my last shift at work for a week or so, and then I sat down in the Student Center with a Frappuccino and the Grapes of Wrath. It’s an okay book, but had I read it in high school like a bunch of my friends, I would have hated it. I like this particular passage, though:

“When the night came again, it was black night, for the stars could not pierce the dust to get down, and the window lights could not even spread beyond their own yards. Now the dust was evenly mixed with the air, an emulsion of dust and air. Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes. The people brushed it from their shoulders. Little lines of dust lay at the door sills.” (5)

Steinbeck sure knew how to paint scenery, but it makes reading this book a drag sometimes. Hope to finish it tomorrow. I have a lot of books to read this summer, and that’s not even counting the ones for class.

After I packed for a bit, Alex helped me get some of my things over to Jess’s apartment. I love that girl, and I can’t wait to live with her again even if it is for only a short time. I had to say goodbye to Alex around that time, too, since he had to pack and go home.

I sat around the lounge for a few hours and talked with friends I haven’t really had the chance to see all year (because I’m a recluse). I feel terrible that I couldn’t have taken the time to hang out with them before.

My mom and grandparents made it up to the dorm around 6:30. I wasn’t in the best of moods. All I wanted to do was leave. I was tired of being there, in that dorm, on that campus, in that city. I had been ready to leave for months.

We finally packed the van, and then I had to sweep and mop the floor of my room. I accidentally tipped the mop bucket over and spilled dirty water all over the place. It was a disaster. Mom came up and helped me clean it up, though, and I finally got to check out. We were starving, so we went to Steak ‘n’ Shake for dinner.

When we got to the house, I went to bed early and slept for about 12 hours. My grandparents left, and I basically sat around the house, knitting and reading. I stayed up to watch Saturday Night Live just because of Betty White and all the returning female alums, and it was a great episode compared to the ones they’ve been showing in the past couple years.

Sunday, I slept for ten hours and bummed around the house some more. I finally got to doing laundry, but I didn’t shower or change out of my pajamas. Mom liked her mother’s day gift, though, and so that was nice.

Today, I’ve been a bum still. I did one last load of laundry, and I’ve been reading and knitting Alex’s Companion Cube. It looks so good, but I can’t wait until it’s done. I miss my quick-to-gratify projects – which, speaking of, I may be completing a quick sewing project soon, if I can motivate myself to do it. However, I think cleaning my room may be the next task I have to tackle before I return to school.

Being home hasn’t been bad so far. Mom and I have argued a little bit, but nothing much. She keeps telling me I can’t save the world, but I’m not trying to do that – rather, I’m trying to save my world, and what matters to me. It’s difficult, and I’m not quite sure what the future holds. So it goes, you know.

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I figured I would just share a list of poetry I read last month to satisfy Goal #89: Read a different poem each day for a month. Most days I only had time to read one poem, since I was finishing up projects, but I would have read more if I could. I’d highly recommend trying this – it’s interesting how people differ in their works, and how they make it personal. If anything, get StumbleUpon and use it to discover new poetry when you’re bored. You’d be surprised.

Poetry Throughout the Month of April:

1st – Lucille Clifton, “Homage to My Hips”
2nd – Amiri Baraka, “Somebody Blew Up America,” “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note,” and “A Poem for Speculative Hipsters”
3rd – Hettie Jones, “Weather,” “Lament for a Turkish Suicide Age 22,” “Hard Drive”
4th – William Blake, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger”
5th – William Wordsworth, “Daffodils”
6th – Walt Whitman, “Continuities”
7th – Charles Bukowski, “So You Want to Be a AWriter”
8th – Henry Scott Holland, “Death is Nothing at All”
9th – Robert Hayden – “Those Winter Sundays”
10th – Jorge Luis Borges, “The Just”
11th – John Keats, “On Leaving Some Friends At An Early Hour,” “A Thing Of Beauty,” “Bright Star”
12th – Diane di Prima, “Rant” and “The Belltower”
13th – Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Solitude” and Sheenagh Pugh, “Missing Scenes”
14th – Elise Cowen, “A Skin…” “Sitting,” “Teacher – Your Body My Kabbalah,” “Emily…” “Who Will Slap…” “Death…” “Did I Go Mad…” “The Lady…”
15th – Louise Glück, “The Untrustworthy Speaker,” “The Empty Glass”
16th – Theodore Roethke, “The Storm”
17th – Martin Bæk Barksø Rasmussen, “Split Betweeen Two Girls”
18th – Pablo Neruda, “Tonight I can write the saddest lines…”
19th – William Butler Yeats, “When You are Old”
20th – Edgar Allen Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream” and Ezra Pound, “In a Station of the Metro,” “Portrait d’une Femme”
21st – Nichita Stãnescu, “A Poem,” “The Golden Age of Love,” “Season’s End,” and “Sentimental Story”
22nd – Adrienne Rich, “Diving Into the Wreck” and “In a Classroom”
23rd – Charles Bukowski, “8 Count” and “Consummation of Grief”
24th – Pablo Neruda, “Drunk as Drunk” and “Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks”
25th – Robert Thornton, “Someday”
26th – Ted Hughes, “Lovesong,” “Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days,” “Examination at the Womb-Door”
27th – Erica Mann Jong, “Parable of the Four-Poster” and Anonymous, “On Jekyll Being Nearly Thrown Down by a Small Pig”
28th – Lenore Kandel, “Hard Core Love” and “God/Love Poem”
29th – Sara Teasdale, “Faults,” “Eight O’Clock,” and “September Midnight”
30th – Mark Strand, “Keeping Things Whole,” “Eating Poetry,” “The One Song,” and “Always”

April is National Poetry Month, and while I am going to attempt to read a poem every day during it, I wanted to share some with you. Not my own; maybe that will come, someday, but not now.

I feel that this is an appropriate poem to follow up yesterday’s post. It’s also one of my favorites. I discovered it last semester when I was looking for a poem in the Contemporary American Poetry book I have – borrowed lovingly from Cindy, my stepmother. When I discovered it, I was enamored because, well, I have big hips. That night I ended up running into my neighbors’ room and reciting it loudly with very big hand gestures. It was a goofy night, but it felt SO good to read this aloud. I highly recommend it.

“Homage to my Hips”
Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

The rest of my weekend was rather uneventful. I finished reading The Bell Jar, and then met up with Alex for dinner. We drank apple cider and ate cherries. I have never eaten cherries before. Crazy, right? Well, despite my first one being a complete mess – I had a problem separating the pit from the fruit and stained my fingers with cherry juice – they were delicious. We watched Gran Torino later, and I highly recommend it. Clint Eastwood just shows (again) that he can do great work behind or in front of the camera, and his age is not a factor.

I had to work on Sunday. It went all right. Before I went in, I had lunch and I finished watching Arrested Development (Finally!). I called my dad as I walked, and it looks like they’ve found the perfect house in Kentucky. I’m excited for them. They sent me the link, and it looks beautiful. I hope they get it. Above all, I can’t wait to see them. My plans and their plans may have to shift around for me to visit, but that is perfectly fine.

At work, I started reading On the Road, and at first I didn’t like it because the stream-of-consciousness style of writing really muddles my mind when I read, but now it is rather enjoyable. Kerouac was writing about another world, really. I can’t imagine dropping everything to travel around the country, hitchhiking, riding the rails, shacking up with random people, washing dishes in the back of a restaurant to pay for a meal, and working random jobs just to have some cash. One can’t really get away with doing those things anymore. The closest I’m probably going to get to this type of living is right now, sleeping on my friends’ couch, biking or walking to do four or five hours of work, and rationing my food and money so I don’t burn it all in one fell swoop.

As crazy and drug-addled as some of the people were, I would say Kerouac was really living. He was feeling the breath and the beat of America, and I will probably be stuck in the Midwest for a few more years, if not longer. I might always be stuck here.

I think probably my favorite little passage so far in On the Road was when Sal, Marylou, and Dean take their clothes off and the three of them drive naked and then stop to see some sights and Marylou and Sal put on coats while Dean goes out completely nude. It highly amused me.

After my Sunday shift, I stopped by Alex’s room to hang out. I was there for about an hour, but he did not really want to hang out. I was exhausted anyway, possibly from getting so much sun lately. I went to bed around 10:00, but I couldn’t sleep. We got a visit from Tanner and Townsend because they were going on a trip with James but couldn’t get a hold of him. I turned on the light in the living room and sat on the couch covered in my blanket, and I gave them directions to James’s house. They left and didn’t come back, so I assumed my directions worked. It was nice to see them, albeit briefly.

I had one of my early shifts this morning. I didn’t get much time to read, either, though the time seemed to fly. I went back to the house afterwards, ate lunch, finished a word search on Crosswords DS, and fell asleep for about three hours. I knew I was tired, but I didn’t realize I was that tired.

I ate dinner and read, and Alex came by around 6:30. We went for a walk, and it looked like it was going to rain, but it didn’t. The cool breeze was welcome after the past hot and humid week. We came back, ate some Oreos, and watched a little bit of Star Trek: The Next Generation on SciFi. Alex left around 8:00, but I don’t blame him. There was nothing to do, and he has a test tomorrow.

I have been hanging out here the rest of the evening after he left.  Nothing exciting, though I shouldn’t be allowed to surf the Internet as much as I do, because I see websites about sewing, crocheting, knitting, dyeing, crafting, and cooking, and all I want to do is create. My latest knitting project’s yarn, access to a sewing machine, and all the rest of my craft stuff is in Pendleton, I don’t know how to crochet yet, and I have a very limited money supply since I need to save up for books and other school stuff. I don’t have a lot of options, and I can accept that. I just don’t like the fact that my fingers are itching, begging me to create something, and I have to tell them to calm down and take a rest for a while. I don’t have much time in the school year to do all the things I enjoy, so I have been trying to make the most out of my summer, obviously.

The best part about this week, though? I get to go back to Pendleton Wednesday afternoon. It’s true! My regular days off are Sunday and Thursday, and then the library is closed on Friday and Saturday for the July 4th holiday, so I get four days off – woo! I don’t even care that I will be losing some hours this week.

I am tired, bitter, and crazy.

I need to spend at least one night in my own bed, spend a few days with my mom, and eat actual good food! I mean, I know I’m the one cooking my own meals here in Muncie, but when you’re on a tight budget, you can’t exactly go gourmet…

Seriously, I don’t think I have never been so excited to go back to Pendleton in my life. Wednesday afternoon can’t come quickly enough.

I stepped out onto the porch and the hot summer air greeted me immediately. I jumped off the porch, careful not to become tangled up in the dry, thorny rose bushes and unlocked my bicycle from its post.

I mounted my vehicle and pedaled furiously down the alley out onto the street made of cracked pavement, broken glass, and trash. My bicycle rode over many bumps on the street, all of which I felt rattle my bones and my teeth.

I found myself at the Quad, a near heaven in the middle of campus, nearly deserted. I parked my bicycle by a tree, took the old, thin, stained quilt from my hand-knitted bag, and lay it on the grass underneath the overlapping arms of the nearby trees, which provided wonderful shade but still allowed a bit of sun to shine through the leaves, much like a green stained-glass window. I kicked off my worn-thin flip-flops, through which I could feel every rock I stepped on, and lay down on the quilt, feeling the warm breeze and the prickly grass under my ugly feet.

I took a library book out of my bag, feeling its soft cover and water-damaged pages. The Bell Jar. I was enjoying it immensely. In fact, I think it is a beautifully written book. Maybe I feel like Sylvia Plath was writing some things I have felt, or do feel. I love her description of a hot bath, and now that is one thing I so dearly want. I want to go home and have a hot bath, and possibly eat some scrambled eggs. She wrote about those, too.

I still have my apprehensions, though. I am enjoying and relating so much to a novel written by a mentally disturbed woman who eventually killed herself by sticking her head in the oven.

I chose to read my last chapter in a tree. There is a nice large one on campus by the art museum. I packed up my quilt and walked my bicycle out into the light – glittering, bright, and hot. I began climbing the tree. There was an older man sitting on a bench, reading. He stared at me, no doubt questionably. I found a comfortable fork in the branches and sat there, resting my back against the trunk of the monstrous tree. I climbed to the top, once or twice, but at that time, the branches were bare. These branches were thick with dark red leaves that shine ruby-like in the sunlight.

My cell phone fell out of my pocket. I thought about climbing down to get it, but then I decided against it. I dropped my bag down to meet my phone, and then my shoes followed. My feet dangled in the warm air as I read more of Plath’s words, and I do not think I have felt that peaceful in a long while.

A few years ago, I borrowed a box of books from my father and stepmother. Some were for educational purposes, such as The Physics Handy Answer Book and numerous old English textbooks, while others were for pleasure. One of these books I chose for pleasure was actually an omnibus of horror – Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I could not find the time to read it, however, and eventually, it just became another one of those books in a pile of things that I might get to in the next century or so, like many of my craft and sewing projects. Finally, I dusted off the book and decided I was going to read Frankenstein for a paper this past semester. Well, that did not exactly happen, either.

Now it is summer, and I am reading that book and many other books I have been meaning to for so long. I am not taking any classes, but I have my job at the library to go to. One of the bright aspects about my job, though, is that even if there are tasks for me to do – no matter how menial or complicated they can be – I always have a little time to read. Which, in turn, since I can’t really read at the house I am staying, gives me a little time to do more things, like reading, playing Alex’s DS, or watching movies and television series I have checked out from the library. So far, I am having an enriching summer doing things for which I rarely have time.

Anyway, I have finished reading Frankenstein and Dracula, and I was glad to finally read them. I love seeing the difference between the novels and their representations in pop culture. As a book lover, I do feel a little guilty that this copy has started to really show its wear, including a front cover I had to tape back on with precision. In a way, though, it gives it character – right?

Frankenstein/Dracula

Frankenstein starts with a basic premise – man thinks he can create life and creates a monster instead – but it has so much more to it. Victor Frankenstein is, in a sense, the ultimate deadbeat dad. He creates his creature and flees, hoping that all will remain forgotten and he can go on with his life. Wrong. Of course, it would not be the same if he just ditched his creation and never heard from it again.

My favorite aspect of Frankenstein is when the Creature confronts Victor Frankenstein. I enjoy his story – coming into the world, lost and alone, and his struggle for survive and for acceptance by society. He speaks with intelligence, unlike media portrayals, though there are some flaws in Shelley’s storytelling. For instance, even though he is observes the DeLaceys, I could not understand how he could so aptly learn speech and writing from just observation. I mean, obviously he had to understand enough in order to read John Milton’s Paradise Lost and to understand the concepts of the work.

“No distinct ideas occupied my mind; all was confused. I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me; the only object that I could distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed eyes upon that with pleasure.”

It really is so sad, the Creature’s rejection, and then his request to have another, a bride, denied, to be completely refused any happiness during his life. It might be somewhat morbid or disturbing for the Creature to murder so many people and willingly know that his actions were wrong, but I think Frankenstein deserved what he received in the end. I know, it sounds sick.

Dracula was also different from my expectations. Instead of a straightforward novel, it is entirely created from documents written by the characters. I felt it became a bit tedious at times, and I hated the ending. They kill the Count in one page! One! The entire novel is built up around him and his evil plans, and you expect a huge confrontation, and then it’s all, “Quincey gets stabbed by a gypsy, but he and Johnathan kill the Count and Mina is safe and everything’s going to be happy.” Dracula still had its suspense, though. I liked reading about Renfield, and about the Count’s attacks on Mina and Lucy and the vampire lore that Stoker created. Much better than, say, recent vampire novels where whiny, insecure, and angst-filled teenage girls fall in love with overpowered, whiny, insecure, angst-filled, sparkly vampires.

Seriously – if one wants to read a good vampire novel, pick Dracula, or any of Anne Rice’s vampire works, or my personal favorite, The Historian. I love The Historian, it’s so beautiful and amazing, and I would read it again this summer if I did not have a huge list of books I wanted to read for the first time.

Next on my reading list is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to finish up this tattered, beloved book. That shouldn’t take long. I must say, though, we have such fitting weather for Gothic literature – it has been raining heavily for the past couple of days, and it is surprisingly chilly.

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