Sunday, November 27, 2005

I'll Be Fine When The Rain Hits

Still, inexhaustible homesickness. It's enough to make you feel worn out and depressed: where does it all come from? The time of year certainly isn't helping, either; everyone knows fall is the most nostalgic of all the seasons, and the still uncomfortably strange weather and lack of pretty leaves are only aggravating things.

So: thinking a lot lately about that talk I had with that friend of mine, about how I told her I wasn't so sure about moving to Berkeley, nothing personal; Berkeley is a great city, but I just thought that, considering the situation at home, we wouldn't really hit it off. I told her I was thinking about staying in San Diego, where I could finish at City and keep my job for a little while longer, maybe even move up in the company. She said something about the necessity of sacrifices, about how sometimes you have to just tough the bad part out to get to the good part. If your situation seems maybe to be simply a matter of finance and endurance, an opportunity to build character (as it maybe could be euphemistically called), what should you do? I didn't want to think of myself as someone who couldn't tough it out.

I also think a lot about Emily Bronte starving herself at a boarding school in Brussels so she could return to Haworth, Coleridge's poems about missing home, John Clare's nervous breakdown after moving four miles away from the cottage he had lived in his whole life. No one seems to get homesick anymore these days. (I sometimes get overly suspicious, think to myself that the abundance of strip malls and Starbucks must have something to do with it.) I feel like this is supposed to make sense to me, that maybe this emotion has been made obsolete by airplanes and cars and highways that turn into turnpikes that turn into freeways. But somehow it doesn't. Not completely, anyway.

I guess the trouble with talking about it is, though, if you're stuck, you're stuck. And it's silly to be living with the love of your life and blubbering about wanting to go home. Maybe even worse is the vague feeling that it's something you should discuss sparingly -- not just because it seems sort of ridiculous to people, but because it is not a problem with which there is an obvious way to make progress (short of actually moving), and if nothing else, you don't want people to get sick of you because they're sick of your problems.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Am I A de Winter?

Do you remember the scene at the beginning of Rebecca where the heroine is just getting to know the seductively brooding Maxim de Winter? She tells him she's an orphan (they always make the best protagonists, after all), and that her father, when he was still living, was a not so successful painter, largely due to the fact that his sole subject was a single tree that he found particularly striking. She explains, maybe a little bashfully, that her father's philosophy was that if you found something perfect, you should stick with it. The way the anecdote was treated seemed to want viewers to find the father eccentric and charming, but maybe also acknowledge the impracticality and absurdity of this mindset. Being sixteen and a dutiful viewer, I did just that. What a totally stupid idea! I thought to myself. Who cares about trees, anyway!

I'm still not so sure why I remember this particular part of the film, but now that I'm amassing a collection of old postcards of similar style, I find myself sometimes thinking about this father and his tree, and am starting to realize we maybe have more in common than I initially thought. I guess I just mean that the idea of trying to reimagine the same subject or scene in a variety of different ways doesn't seem redundant or boring to me anymore. Now it just seems like a pretty nice challenge.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

For A Potential Professor:

Three semesters maybe isn't enough time to have observed enough to know all that much about teaching, but surely it's long enough to be able to sense when students are reacting to the professor in ways that seem less than desirable. Is this how you act with your other professors? sounds too much like a rhetorical question, when really they might be wondering, waiting for some sort of answer.

But the trouble is, even if the problem is the students, it is still because of professor. There is something about their demeanor, apparently, that suggests that it is okay to complain to or confide in them, to be restless, childish, to be, well, whiney.
Your plan of wearing your glasses to class to appear more authoritarian now seems a little like someone slapping on Groucho Marx glasses to seem more serious. You still aren't exactly intimidating.

Not that intimidation is really the desired effect. But also, you most likely don't like having this problem simply because of what it entails: a whole new kind of self-consciousness. A nagging feeling of needing to change some fundamental part of your personality, and wondering, well really, how you could ever actually accomplish that.

I guess being a human entails that all the same.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Humble

I'm so tired at the end of each day. I try to resist the feeling that I'm being slowly swallowed alive into the next day where I find myself in the belly of a closed room while I wait out the day until I'm coughed out.

I would like to learn to look forward to each day. For a while, it seemed as if I was shifting to that but I'm weak.

Maybe I need a new tattoo to remind me of these things.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Robert Browning Was In Entertainment Weekly?

One of the really nice things about Robert Browning - besides the pretty refreshing lack of didacticism and the feminist dramatic monologues and weirdly colloquial language and the crazy love letters to EBB - the really nice thing is that he lived with his parents until he was in his mid 30's, and didn't really start writing the poetry he'd become famous for until even later. This seems somehow a good thing to know, an important bit of information to remember when thinking about the awfully endless list of people who seem to burn out at a relatively young age and then spend the next several years or decades static, rehashing.

Also, I suppose I am a sucker for Robert Browning's late-bloomerness/underdog appeal in sort of the same way some people are for celebrity high school yearbook pictures in entertainment magazines. Meaning: it is maybe comforting to know that at some point these individuals were ordinary.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Lady Of Shallot

How has it come to this? Sitting here with very little to say for myself other than trying to articulate some vague feeling that after awhile reading so much Tennyson and Gerard Manley Hopkins through the internet begins to seem the same as reading too much of them, even with nice lines like:

But where I say Hours I mean years, mean life

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I dislike gloomy poetry - in fact for several teenaged years it was my very favorite genre! But lately reading bucketfuls of poems laved with doubt and anxiety and other dangeroud things is starting to get a bit draining. Or maybe it's just easy to tell myself this, because I'm already feeling sort of gloomy as it is. (When in doubt, blame the Victorians!) Last week I heard a radio segment about a new book on Abraham Lincoln's melancholy, and whether or not the book is very well founded, the auther made an interesting comment about how there was once a time when sadness was an acceptable quality in a leader/public figure. I've been thinking about this a lot.

Speaking of being gloomy, I have found a pretty good way of cheering myself up, which is simply by taking a long, hard look at this:



Considering that this is from the 1904 World's Fair, it seems sadly unlikely that Jerry can be reached for questioning, which is too bad, because I'd really like to know about the details of this postcard - do you think ferris wheel rides were just longer back then?

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Love Taker, Don't You Mess Around With Me.

This afternoon I read a bio about Tennyson that described him as a "heartbreak connoisseur" and walked past a clothing store on Shattuck that had "We love you!" etched on the store windows. Later I remembered a conversation I'd had earlier in the day about the difficulty I sometimes have with separating dreams from real life, and found myself thinking: well, no wonder.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Inertia

Um. So. Writing here, again, sort of feels like the internet equivalent of trying to get in contact with some old friend you have been meaning to email or call or whatever for days that turn into weeks that turn into months, and of course the longer you put it off the worse it gets, and you start to think to yourself, well, surely too much time has elapsed now, for no good reason other than the fact that inertia is a hard habit to break. And the thing is, at some point during this whole process you find yourself feeling a bit bewildered about why it is so hard sometimes to do the things you actually want to do, and if that's the case, what are the chances that you're ever going to get around to the tougher stuff?

I always wondered where people went when they stopped updating their journals. It turns out, somewhat disappointingly, that maybe there's not much of a mystery at all. They are simply laying in bed too long or getting up too early, listening to the same music and reading the same books and peeling potatoes as potential fries and eating the shortbread in front of the TV. They're doing exactly what you would have expected.

In more current news, Monday was Halloween and I realized a little bit too late that we had somehow managed to not carve a pumpkin.

Halloween used to be so significant in my life. Where has it gone? And if it has infact gone to some other place, might I be able to someday casually bump into it?

If only it were something so tangible.