Thursday, August 9, 2007

gah. AGED.

So. It finally happened. I got old. Gah. GAH. (Birthdays, man. What horrific events they tend to be.)

Aside from my current haghood, I've recently seen one of my best friends get married. Actually, I was in the wedding - bridesmaid, baby. Possibly one of the funnier moments of the day was when I was with the bridal party and we were all getting our hair done, and my hairdresser took a look at me, then a look at my masses of hair, and seemed to deflate in horror. "Oh my god," she said, "that is a LOT of hair." (It is a lot of hair; at times I've felt like Cousin It from the Addams' family, or perhaps as if I were the host body for a parasitic life-form attached to my head.)

Anyways, anyways: Bestest Bud was Maid of Honour (she and Friend About To Engage In Matrimonial Acts - henceforth to be known as FATEIMA, though as an acronym it seems to imply whole charitable organizations rather than one individual - have been friends since the womb, literally, as their mothers were pregnant at the same time) and flew up from Victoria, and the other two bridesmaids were FATEIMA's little sisters. It was a thoroughly hectic day, followed by a thoroughly hectic evening, concluded by a very exhausted midnight/early morning of climbing out of elaborate dresses and undoing elaborate hair-do's. The amount of bobby pins stuck in my head was truly staggering - and painful - which I found out as I, half-asleep, dug them from out of my cranium.

It was a beautiful wedding and I'm glad to have been part of it (and my speech at the reception had a pretty good crowd, which is splendiferous), but at the same time - gosh, it was strange! Thinking about FATEIMA being married - and ME as a BRIDESMAID - I mean, the last time I checked we were both ten year olds running around by the lakeshore, eating hot dogs and attempting to drown various siblings. With that wedding done, and my friend a Mrs. instead of a Ms., and my latest birthday barring me forever from teen-hood - I feel old. And creaky. Literally - my joints crack and grumble ominously every time I move around. I blame my mother's genetics: every time she takes so much as a step, it's like listening to a skeleton climb its way out of a grave, all rattling bones and rasping joints. She blames it on the lack of calcium. I tell her to drink more milk. She tells me (tartly) she's not a cow. I tell her cows drink water. Ahhh, ye olde family debates, they ever degenerate into idiocy.

In other news, I am contemplating starting a mini-series of blog-posts on women/being a woman/society and women/etcetera. It may be slightly full of vitriol. So! If this is not anyone's cup o' tea, steer clear for at least the next two months.

Monday, June 25, 2007

lettuce soup

I've been back in Vanderhoof for the last several days - not Vanderhoof proper (if such a place could be said to exist), as it is currently quite flooded - but ye olde homestead, a good fifteen minutes out of town. Ye olde homestead is quite the idyllic spot, if mosquito-infested, but what really makes this place great to me is the many and random eccentricities of my beloved mater et pater. They're both slightly insane, and this isn't just Petra-the-child saying this, it's also everyone who has ever met them. We are not the black sheep branch of the family, but rather the purple polka-dotted sheep who say 'quack' instead of 'baaaa'. (My brother and I, of course, are quite normal. Indeed.)

Right now, the greenhouse is apparently churning out the lettuce production non-stop. My mom, previously quite deliriously happy with this, has become highly annoyed. Her soul abhors waste, and so we can't simply turn the excess lettuce to fertilizer; no, instead we must, in some method or manner, consume it. This means that she has been progressively working lettuce into the family diet in various 'creative' ways. Last night's experiment: lettuce soup, flavoured with a hint of miso, served with a side of rice. It was bitter. But of course to do other than slurp it all down is to be a horrible daughter. Ah. My stomach. It will gain its revenge upon me in my elder years.

My mother has a habit of experimenting with foods: two years ago, it was the seaweed-and-potato soup; a year before that, a strange concoction made out of eggs and -- well, I'm not completely sure what the other stuff was, and I'm a little too afraid to ask in case I actually I get an answer. But in the lettuce vein, aside from lettuce soup, there have been multiple salads and multiple lettuce 'garnishes'. My mother will randomly bring me bowls of lettuce and tell me to think of them like chips. She assures me that with all the lettuce eating going on, I'll soon have beautiful skin. I'd like to know what's wrong with my current skin.

Yesterday I had the strange fear of a new dish in the making (aside from the lettuce soup) when I walked into the kitchen to the sight - and smell, which was oddly sharp - of my mom dumping buckets-full of lettuce onto frying pans and steaming all the water out of them, before dumping the limp pieces of vegetation into plastic baggies and throwing them into the freezer. It turns out she was just laying away some greenery for the lean winter months. (On a similar vein, my father has asked me to enquire into attaining a home freeze-drying system. Non-surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be such a thing. Not that he's letting it stop him.)

Of course, lettuce-growing season is just about finished, and soon we will no longer have this problem. (And I can go back to feeling like a human girl rather than a bunny-rabbit.) My only trepidation is that the cucumbers show a similar trend of overproduction. My mind shudders to contemplate what new culinary horrors will arise a few weeks hence. Ahhhhhh.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Life is full of yay!

So, I am recently returned from the dual v's of Vancouver and Vanderhoof and safely ensconced in my 3rd storey Prince George apartment, reunited with my poor computer who has, I feel, greatly missed my presence. Or maybe I'm just projecting. I've spent the majority of our reunion downloading various and sundry things. Oh high-speed internet! I could rhapsodize about you forever.

In Vanderhoof, my mom and I watched creepy Korean dramas that were remarkably Machiavellian. And disturbing. God, were they ever disturbing. I don't even know why we had the dvds, but wow. Once the first movie was over, Mom looked at me and said, "That was strange, ne? It's not just me that thinks so?" All I could do was nod. I was traumatized speechless. I'm not entirely sure why we moved on to the next movie; some misguided hope that, y'know, it would get better. We were so very, very wrong.

In Vancouver, we visited libraries. Oh bliss! I have library envy right now, after having seen Vancouver Public Library and UBC's Koerner library. VPL is beautiful, built like the Roman Coliseum, with entire floors devoted to one or two subjects. We drove down to Vancouver, my mom and dad and I. Dad makes a multi-monthly pilgrimage down to Vancouver, so he's an old hand at the road politics of big truck drivers and knows with a frightening accuracy the speed limit for each stretch of road. The scenery was amazingly beautiful; there were some patches where the trees were all beetle-kill, and it looked a little like a war zone without any bodies but plenty of scorched ground - but even those spaces of stark landscape had their own weird, disturbing and compelling allure. And driving through the canyon - the mountains! The horizon! The shadow/sun interplay! (I like the exclamation mark!)

We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which, let me tell you, was not really all that holiday-ish. My poor mother. She thought she was getting a different deal for her money - well, dad's money - and was dreadfully disappointed. Which I got to hear about. At length. Great length. Other than that, it was a great trip; I bought books! Hee. Books about ZOMBIES. And I signed books out of Koerner (we somehow have a card, I don't ask questions), also about ZOMBIES. Oh, zombies. We also walked both below the bridge to Granville, and over it (it was nice to get the two perspectives of the same site. What wasn't nice was the whole "I'm not talking to you, because you get us horribly lost and make us walk for three hours" tension I had going on with my mom. Neither of us has a sense of direction. This can be, at times, horrifically painful). My mom got to see her old friend, Eiko-san, who took us for dim sum along with her boyfriend (named Fred) and student-boarder (named something like Shinji, and who my mom proceeded to attempt to set me up with so obviously I could have died from embarrassment). I also bought rose tea, and poetry, and Japanese food in bulk. Mmm... ochazuke, furikake, wakame. Long have I missed you, my palatable (literally) friends. Not to mention we stocked up on seaweed. Mmmm. It was a good trip for my consumerist soul. Not that good of a trip for my dad's wallet. Oh well.

The only real down points, aside from the whole 'omygod we're lost in downtown Vancouver we're totally gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie' incident, were that I discovered that I am allergic to Vancouver (I had this non-stop sneezing thing going on, apparently there's troublesome pollen in the air), and that takoyaki - while nummy on a plate - is not all that nummy on the way back to Vanderhoof. Major motion sickness, dudes. I should've known not to eat take-out octopus balls...

It was nice to be in Vancouver again. A little overwhelming, at first, but the more we walked around, the more familiar it got. It's funny, I haven't lived there since I was nine; but the topography of the city, of its streets and turns, houses and parks - has made its way into the landscape of my dreams, and the longer I was there, the more I felt like I was in the middle of my own subconscious. It was surreal, but also cool.

The last cool note of my two weeks of relief from academia was the return of last semester's grades. Whew! I have to say, I feel smart. And also proud. I may have had minor mental breakdowns, but I pulled it off; life is good. I'm feeling confident. The future, it is bright. Here's hoping it is for all of you as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

This, mes amis, is a day composed of awesome.

Well, I still have essays to write; one on Frankenstein, and one on Mary Barton and Tess of the d'Ubervilles (I have read absolutely none of these books... these next few days shall be INTENSE. Never until my university student life have I identified so fully with Dante, gradually making my way through ever-widening circles of Hell). However! Today (which is 4 April 2007, no matter what the date/stamp for this post says as I have begun writing just a few moments before midnight, and will probably not finish until after I have entered the NEW DAY which may or may not prove to be as awesome) contained many instances of joy.

Joyful occurrence #1: The Reassurance of it Being Okay to Hand Things In Late, as the Late Penalty applies to every CLASS and not every DAY, as I had Mistakenly and Panicked-ly thought, giving myself ANEURYSMS and ULCERS

Joyful occurrence #2: The Return of a Term Paper of DOOM, which Surprisingly contained a Grade of A+ and much Praise, which Soothed my FRAZZLED Brain

Joyful occurrence #3: The Knowledge that nearly EVERYONE, Apparently, in my Film class handed in term papers Late, and I was NotAlone in that department, and thus Less Likely to suffer DREADFUL REPRECUSSIONS

Joyful occurrence #4: I Bravely Ventured Forth from my WOEFUL and MESSY apartment, to the deli on the street, where I bought Victuals of cheese and meat and bread. (I like the word 'victuals'. I learned it from Brian Jacques Redwall books. Oh, to be a talking mouse! Or hare! Or [dare I aspire to such heights?] a badger!) And when I Returned from my Brave Venture, who Called but the FEARFUL FRIEND, Enquiring as to my Availability for Fire-type Adventures!

To explicate, without the copious use of capitals, the Fearful Friend (henceforth known as 'FF'), is fearful on multiple levels. Her wrath when provoked, for one; her loyalty, for another; her ability to make you fear for your LIFE (oops... backsliding into capitals again...) on seemingly normal expeditions, for a third. Examples: a simple car ride to Superstore became an all-night jaunt out of the province, to Edmonton, where we broke down first by the side of a rural road requiring us to push the car out of the path of oncoming vehicles and sleep in the middle of nowhere inside of a car that DOES NOT LOCK, and broke down second right outside of Edmonton proper where we enjoyed the MORTAL TERROR of almost being run over by semis, and returned to Prince George, ingloriously, via Greyhound; a simple walk around the neighbourhood became a hike through brush and snow and ice, in BELOW FREEZING temperatures without jackets or even socks, and GETTING HORRIFICALLY LOST in places where No One Can Hear You Scream; and, for POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS reasons, I will not detail the event of The MOUNTAIN in the Winter that we CLIMBED UP and then Proceeded to FALL DOWN. (Well, I obviously fail at self control when it comes to capital-key use.... double man-yacks.)

Suffice to say, I am well-versed in the tribulations associated with hanging out with FF. As I have told her on multiple occasions, "To be your friend is to be masochistic. To know you incurs pain. I have come to expect it, and, through my expectation, to face it unflinchingly. I know with rock-solid certainty that every time I go somewhere with you, I will return injured in some fascinating new way. I have accepted this." FF laughs at me. She says, "I'm not sure what the right response to that is: I hope I disappoint you? That doesn't seem quite right."

In light of all this, the damage done tonight has been negligible. What's a branch in the eye between friends? And, as always, hanging out with FF is well-worth the possible death that may occur during said hang-out time. Tonight, after excursions to buy tropical fruit and chocolate and Starbucks coffee and mint tea and arrowroot cookies, we headed off for the river, upon which banks we built a (possibly illegal) fire.

Of course, getting to the banks was problematic and included STEEP hills, SHARP drop-offs, and Walking Across Water on LOGS. Every minute with FF is fraught with peril, as I have stated. I've grown accustomed to this; and so, managed to: climb down the steep hills with nary an injury, avoid instead of fall over the sharp drop-offs, and balance on the log as I walked across the water. If nothing else, being FF's friend has made me well versed in survival skills. In the event of an apocalypse or sudden zombie attack, I will have much to thank her for.

Once we made it safely (shocking, I know) to the rocks bordering the river, whose edges were ice, and deposited blankets, jackets, and backpack in a pile, FF and I parted ways: I, to go up and down the shore seeking out driftwood and dried out logs, and FF up the embankment, to where trees leaned over and roots poked through hilly earth. We called out occasionally to one another, but alas! The wind took our words away. Greedy thing.

Typically, FF is the one who provides the most firewood. (Our possibly illegal fires are a regular occurrence, and we have a certain method to it now, despite early terrifying instances of wandering out to the middle of nowhere with nothing but a box of matches and FF's cheerful exclamations of, "Of course I know how to make a fire out of snow and twigs! We won't freeze to death, I swear!" Out of the mouths of most people, such an assertion would seem worrying; FF, however, has an inexplicable power of making you believe in her honesty. During the ride home, afterward, she said, "I really didn't think I was going to be able to make that fire. Wow, I surprise myself sometimes!" Oh, FF. If I didn't love you so, they'd never find all of your body because I would have dismembered you out of justified rage and scattered the pieces all across the continent.)

Tonight, however, I held my own. I can truthfully say that I hauled the equivalent of three trees back to our pile of stuff. I carried trunks on each of my shoulders; they moved as if on waves. I love driftwood - like the bleached bones of trees, it's so easy to burn, and it's relatively light as well. FF and I, between us, carried an actual and entire tree back to our fire site. (This is where the branch-in-the-eye incident occurred. Only it was more like, 'tree-to-the-eye'.) In one of our earlier excursions, when there was a group of us sitting around a cheerfully blazing campfire chatting away, no one noticed that FF had been gone for a suspicious amount of time. We became aware of her absence by the approaching and ominous sound of a heavy object being dragged over ragged terrain. Lo and behold! FF, beaming, proud, showing off her captured log. So, the idea of us carrying an actual tree (which died through no action of our own and was just lying there, a tree corpse, for the taking), is not so outlandish. Not if you know FF.

We started our small fire with the aid of the Starbucks paper cups. Horrible for the environment, I know. Ah well. I don't drive. Driving is worse. So there. If you drive, judge me not. If you don't drive, well, you're just as pathetic as I am and I don't have to respect your opinion of me. By this time, night was falling on top of us - not like a tonne of bricks, but rather one brick at a time, gradually and steadily. Our small fire lit up a circumference that included the embankment behind us and a stretch of rocks that reached almost to the water. The water itself was a rush of moving shadows. We made an impromptu couch out of one of the logs I had hauled, not on my shoulders, but against my hips and with the support of my wrist. FF folded a blanket and put it on top of the log, and we sat together in front of the fire.

Campfire conversations ramble. I like this about them. We went from childhood to adulthood. We talked about fishing and about refuge. FF brought out of her backpack the starfruit I'd bought, part of our tropical fruit collection, and cut it in thick and thin slices with her ever-present knife. FF has a fierce affection for knives. I believe as a child, rather than stuffed animals, she was given sharp pointy objects. It would explain much.

Starfruit doesn't taste quite like any other fruit. It's oddly sweet. I think it tastes a little bit like kiwi, but FF disagrees. I held up one of the thinner slices of starfruit in front of the fire and looked at how the light shone through it. FF broke off a piece of white chocolate and ate her thicker slice of starfruit with it. We decided that was how starfruit was made to be eaten, and proceeded to do so. After, FF broke out the arrowroot cookies, and I peeled a guava with her knife (this is how I know we're friends: she shares her toys), throwing shreds of skin into the fire. The wind caught half of my scraps and pulled them, however, making FF laugh at my aim. That wind! We decided the mango wasn't ripe enough to eat, but the strawberries were just right; and, after a simultaneous, shared moment of genius, we invented a new type of s'more.

Anyone who has gone camping has had s'mores. They're like, a staple. It's not camping unless there are s'mores. Traditional s'mores are composed of melted marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers. Using the materials at hand, FF and I constructed the Strawberry S'more, with two distinct variations.

FF's variation of the Strawberry S'more: slice a strawberry in half, skewer half of a strawberry with a willow stick (said willow sticks gathered by FF, as I was too lazy and cold to move away from the fire once it started), put a slab of chocolate on the flat side of the strawberry half, balance carefully as you put the chocolate/strawberry combo into the fire. Once the chocolate has melted/bubbled, pull out, and top with half of an arrowroot cookie. Instant heaven.

My variation of the Strawberry S'more: take a whole strawberry and, from the thick end, poke a hole into its centre. Take a slab of chocolate and put it in the hole. (Carefully) Skewer the strawberry with a willow stick, and roast in the fire. Remove when you smell burning chocolate, or there is an excess of smoke. Instant nirvana.

My method admittedly didn't contain an arrowroot cookie, but it did have the virtue of being chocolate filled roasted stawberries. And you could eat the cookies on the side. For the record: roasted strawberries taste like wildstrawberry jam, freshly made. I strongly recommend it.

After our strawberry consumption, it was time to go home. The fire was still going strong, so we did what we always do when it comes to still going strong fires: picking up each piece of burning wood, we carried the fire to the river, and flung. I like the hiss that fire makes when it goes out, and there were sparks left on the parts of the river that were still ice. We left a scattering of coals as we tramped back up-hill. Let me tell you, what seems STEEP going down, is definitely GAH, I'M GLAD I HAVE HANDS SO THAT I DON'T FALL OFF going up. It was full-on dark by then, but weirdly bright enough to see; and though I almost lost my balance on the log over the water, I did make it without falling. I didn't even trip in the dark. Obviously I am acclimated to being FF's friend. It took a while, but I believe I have acquired the skills to make it through an FF experience without bleeding out. Thank God.

Now! If you have made it through this horrendously long blog-post, I feel I must reward (punish?) you with links to things that are awesome! Because I like to spread around the joy. Today I believe I shall make it a themed set of things that are awesome. And the theme? Anthropomorfic. By this I mean fiction that deals with anthropomorphized objects. (Get the pun? Anthropomorphic + Fiction = Anthropomorfic! ...god, I'm a geek.)

Anyways, anyways. If you are Queen of the Dumb Blog, then I have already exposed you to the tetris porn; however, porn does not have to be limited to just tetris! It can be houses, too! I guarantee that after you read these, you will not be able to a) play tetris in the same way ever again, and b) feel as if you aren't committing some perversely sexual act just by walking barefoot across your kitchen floor. To allay the suspicion that I only enjoy anthropomorfic that sexualizes inanimate objects, which would be admittedly WEIRD to the EXTREME, I include for your perusal the romantical tragedy or the tragical romance of the table and the table (warning: includes same table relationship), and, to lighten the mood, the love story of a pair of curtains, plus assorted objects including, but not limited to, surly bookcases. If, at the end of all this, you feel as if you could manage to make it through a horrifically good story that defies all classification, but suffice to say manages to be both metatextual and anthropomorfic (in that the story itself speaks), then I direct you to This Is The Title Of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times In The Story Itself.

And, if for whatever reason you were interested, the strawberry picture at the top of this post boasts as being the largest strawberry ever constructed at fifteen feet high and twelve feet across.

Now, I must be off. Frankenstein beckons. Well. Not literally. Because that would be just a little bit too anthropomorphic for me. I guess I do have some boundaries left, after all.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

In a bid to actually intellectually discuss something I'm intellectually interested in...

...I decided to launch into one of my favourite topics of all time! might not want to continue reading.

So I'm currently burning my brain trying to think of intelligent things to write about for various and sundry classes. I think I've gone beyond the state of caring, really; I'm so tired from school (not 'of', because I still like going to class and learning things, but it's the going and the learning that is exhausting me, and then it all goes to the 'ack' territory, I tell you, the many acks/man-yacks, indeed, and I have lost the ability to be coherent).

Anyways! If you've talked to me for any prolonged length of time, I've probably brought up Rilke; and specifically, Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, because I fell in love with him, and them, around three years ago. I like to have mad, torrid love affairs with poetry; read the same poems over and over until they become a part of the way I think, fit themselves into how I frame my words and perceptions. This happens a lot of the time culturally speaking, anyways; like, how in a specific situation such as when a speech is made, references are drawn from poetry and/or literature that add special significance to the words being spoken. Say, for example, Tennyson's Ulysses, which has many oft-quoted lines: "To follow knowledge like a sinking star,/ Beyond the utmost bound of human thought." and "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." And then you have your ubiquitous limericks and rhymes, like "There was a man from Nantucket...", which also become embedded in culture and a part of culture, identifying those who are educated both academically - as Ulysses tends to indicate - as well as socially - as knowledge of commonly known anonymous works such as limericks tends to indicate.

The personal literary preferences of individuals is what makes conversation about literature so compelling, largely because diversity of preference shows the vitality of the works being discussed. I may madly love a poet that others despise, and vice versa; so too with prose works. The only detrimental emotion toward literature, I feel, is apathy. If people simply don't care, then what's the point? Poetry and prose exist to provoke, after all, to communicate, to produce emotional reverberations. There wouldn't be a point to poems or novels if they didn't make others feel, no matter what that feeling is.

Where this gets problematized, however, is in the area of translation. If what the reader-audience has access to is a specific translation and not the source text, then the integrity of the translation becomes debatable. Jane Hirschfield's Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry has an essay concerning the problem of translation, where she goes into the trouble inherent within translation, and delineates each of her own personal steps while translating Japanese poetry in conjunction with a Japanese woman. In this essay, Hirschfield states that historically speaking, the word for translator has also meant traitor, as to translate poetry or prose out of the language they are originally articulated in is to degrade their meaning. Obviously translation must occur on multiple levels; cultural as well as literal; and nuances are missed, or deemed untranslatable, or unimportant in relation to other aspects of the text to be translated. In effect, the translation of any given text is truly only a partial translation; it is impossible to retain fully what is originally meant.

Of course the counter-argument is that what arises from the translation is a hybrid of meaning, bridging the gap between cultures; and so it cannot just be the original poet or author who is acknowledged, but his or her translator as well; and subsequent translations must be treated as separate, though related entities. If you go with this argument, you're sort of moving into Bhabha's Third Space, I suppose, as new meanings are generated through the meeting of originator and translator - what is articulated is not wholly of either culture, but carves out its own space of signification.

There are other arguments, however, that are equally valid. One is that translation should not occur at all, that each individual should learn the language he or she wishes to read and not depend upon another's interpretation of a given work. I tend to hold with this view a bit more than with the former, simply because it doesn't seem as lazy, and because I like to get closer to the source of the idea rather than a particular interpretation of that idea - though of course the hybridized nature of translation is highly interesting, and a field I'm interested in investigating. The argument that translation should not be made at all is strong within some areas of Post-Colonial theory and literature, as translation is seen as detrimental to native culture, not to mention the reinterpretation of texts is also another form of appropriation and exploitation.

Moving past these arguments, to the actual object of this post, I want to touch on Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus. All the lead up, and talk about translation, was mostly due to the fact that the Sonnets have been translated multiple times with a very definite chronology, as translators interact with the source text as well as with one another. This interaction is key - and it is fascinating, besides, seeing how each successive round of translation builds upon one another in varied ways, and how certain of the Sonnets remains largely the same despite the translator while others differ significantly to the point of being entirely different poems.

The Sonnets are in total fifty-two poems, with two cycles that in many respects mirror one another. Translating the Sonnets in their entirety is a large task, especially when taking into consideration that the translation must not occur only on an individual sonnet-to-sonnet basis, but also with respect to each sonnet comprising a piece of a larger poem - each sonnet being a stanza, if you will, or maybe even a line, of a larger poem. The translation I first read, done by Edward Snow, is the one I come back to most often - likely, because it was the first one I read, and not due to its own overt superiority over other translations (though my personal preferences do think it superior - with emphasis on personal). I believe the Snow translation is also one of the more current ones out there, which means that it fits within my own cultural context in terms of the language it uses, its syntax, being similar to what I normally use, and so I'm inherently more comfortable reading it.

The interaction between various translations is what fascinates me, not to mention the interaction between the original text and the translated text - looking at what has changed, and how, the way words and sentence structure morph across languages, and how this affects meaning - it's striking, how much of a difference each individual translation makes. What we get when we read a translated work isn't the work itself, but rather an interpretation of that work; and by positioning various interpretations alongside one another, a complex picture develops composed of various individual and interacting readings. The Sonnets, aside from being full of beautiful language, are well-suited for comparisons in their varied translations because of their structure of multiple smaller poems forming the over-arching narrative of the larger poem-cycle. This structure allows for both small and large comparisons in terms of individual sonnets as well as overall sonnet cycles.

I am, however, working on my German so that I can manage to make it through the original Sonnets unaided by translators/traitors; and I'd better stop typing now, or else I'll never really stop. This is what comes from being an English major. Pointlessly long blog-posts concerning topics no one actually cares about. Ah well. It's interesting to me, at any rate.

And just a heads-up: I'll probably go on pontificating about the Sonnets at a later date, because I really am weirdly in love with them. Like, to a horrific degree. It's kind of scary.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

things that are cool!!!

So, I have this weird fascination for things you don't expect to be true. Like, ice hotter than boiling water - doesn't that sound like an oxymoronic statement? But apparently it can happen; water actually turns into multiple kinds of ice, depending on conditions, each kind with different properties. I'm not entirely sure why this is so cool to me - maybe because up here, ice is almost a constant presence (just when you think Spring has come -- snow! Agh); but probably also because of what it means, that even with something like water, there's still more to discover. I like knowing that there are still secrets, even if I don't know what those secrets are. Sometimes the world should be a mystery.

In other similarly awesome discovery news, I went on a book-buying-binge a few days ago (not that I'll ever have time to read what I bought, more fool me, putting objects of temptation right underneath my nose), and have fallen in love with a poet: Lola Lemire Tostevin. The book: site-specific poems. I kind of doubt the legality of me posting a sample poem of hers onto this blog, and so I won't; but if anyone wants to borrow my copy, they're welcome to it.
I'm currently sitting on three essays. All of them are due. Man-yacks. It's time for me to get cracking; though I've consumed enough caffeine that it's more likely that I'll buzz, instead of crack.

Monday, March 19, 2007


i don't think i'll ever forget the way you smelled. like something rotting.
which was familiar. i smelled it every year
on butchering days. where dad would gut chickens
and turkeys and ducks w/ his exacto, and pull
intestines out in long purple clumps
of wound-up tubing. their bodies reduced to machinery.

your body reduced to machinery. blinks
of sound
that dizzied me in your hospital room. white walls. heartbeat
monitors. and you pale. with your veins extended
to ivs. transparent plastic tubing. & your words lost
to an oxygen mask
fitted over your lips
which were pale and cracked.

when you moved you moved in pain
like someone split your skin
from throat to sternum to hipbones
and pushed their hands
inside& pulled

and i'll always remember how you smelled
for weeks like you were already dead.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reading break so far... ACK.

Well, if you wanted to know the differences between a traditional, recurve, and compound bow I could now tell you of them, at length, as well as identify typical accessory tools and expound for at least a good ten minutes on the merits of varying lengths of arrows.

That's right, mes amis. I have returned from an archery tournament. The actual archery was fun and funny. You haven't lived until you've seen an arrow-tip buried in the gonads of a high-density foam boar. I laughed heartily, and would have taken pictures were the camera not a corpse about my neck. I carted that thing around like an albatross, man. It was pleasant to listen to the chatter of archery-afficionados gathered all about, grand to wait with bated breath as door prizes were called. However.

The stupid barn was cloudy with dust and the scent of urine and every time I had to walk through the door I literally gagged a little bit, then threw up in my mouth. Of course it would be the height of impoliteness to actually spit out the puke, so back down it went. Ah. The mores of civil society, where you can't even feel free to vomit in polite company. Give me barbarous times any day. In all honesty, it was a pretty wonderful time, though a little bit annoying that we were boxed in and couldn't leave for hours on end. I was feeling the hunger, man! And their concession sucked.

Afterwards, bestest bud (who was in the archery tournament, and thus my presence there is also explained), who shoots an unsighted recurve bow (which means that she needs to cultivate certain upper body strength as well as an eye for aiming, unlike those dastardly compounds, who get to use stabilizers and sights and don't have to keep the pressure on the string once they've got it drawn), camped out on my apartment's living room floor. Originally she had the couch, but then she flopped over and complained that it was too short for her. I had the on-floor mattress; we simply switched places and went back to watching Dead Like Me and Samurai 7. The couch has never been too short for me; I state because I curl up into a ball to sleep. Bestest bud disagrees and chooses to mock my shorter stature. What a jerk.

Bestest bud soon will leave for sunnier climes; well, Victoria is typically sunnier than Prince George I've been told. I don't know if it's true, having never been in Victoria for longer than a week. I suppose once bestest bud is down there I shall make the pilgrimage to visit, or maybe dig around for a bit and explore. I do love me the lower mainland, plus associated areas, given Victoria's not the mainland at all. But it's kind of sad, watching bestest bud go. I'm happy for her; but it's going to be lonely. She departs 4 days hence. Ahh. So little time.

I've started to hit that place where I go, "What should I do now?" Knowing that I'm just about done school is starting to terrify me. I have this sudden urge to flunk all of my classes and retire, hermit-like, into the life of an intellectual recluse. Only they'd probably take away my intellectual creds once they found out I flunked all my courses. Yikes. Judgmental bastards. But really. I don't know what I want to do. Or where I want to go. Mostly I'm just bored; and scared. Not a very fun combination, let me tell you. Whoever heard of someone being scarily bored? Boredly scared? Let me just say, like Peter Pan, I never want to grow up. Though I'm legally an adult, 'teen' still suffixes my age. Until I hit magical 20 I claim the right to remain a child. Or at least a teenager. I have a good six months left. Ack. That's actually hardly any time at all. (And speaking of Peter Pan, WOW. Barrie wrote orgies right into the text, oh yes he did. After a bit of google-fu, it comes to light that 2 of Barrie's 5 male charges committed suicide, one of whom being his especial favourite. Suspicious? I think mayhap, especially taking into consideration he didn't have much of a hand in raising the last two boys - neither of which killed themselves - and of the older three, the only one who didn't commit suicide was killed in the war. Not good stats, J.M. ol' chap.)

In order to make this post at least a little bit useful in any way, shape, or form, does anyone know of Japanese-Canadian authors/poets? I already have: Kerri Sakamoto, Hiromi Goto, Joy Kogawa, and Roy Miki. I've had to discard Ruth Ozeki and Ruri Pilgrim for being Japanese-American; it made me sad. I really liked Ozeki's "My Year of Meats". It had class. However, I'm trying to gather up possible course material for an independent study, and I want to focus on Japanese-Canadian lit with an emphasis on the clash of language structures, as most of these authors either speak English as a second language or were exposed to English through the linguistic lens of those who spoke English as a second language and thus imposed a certain other-language-structure upon the structural codes of English (I'm not sure if this is making any sense yet...). The reason why it has to be Japanese-Canadian specifically and not Japanese-American as well, or even Japanese-English, is that part of the study is going to examine how Japanese-Canadian lit writes back against traditional Euro-centric Canadian literary values, the Canadian canon, if you will, although of course now at least Kogawa's "Obasan" has been incorporated into said canon. Or has it? Ahhh. I'm being overly verbose tonight. I blame tiredness and existential angst.

Friday, February 16, 2007


My procrastination tendencies were just horrifically enabled. Something must be wrong with the world. It must have tilted, off-balance, resulting in a production of some strange gravity where my slackery is what holds me upright rather than what drags me hideously down.

Anyways: the second McSweeney prompt: Write a short scene set at a lake, with trees and shit. Throw some birds in there, too.

There was a mountain of shit piled on Hogsback's shore. It dwarfed the surrounding centuries old jackpines; it loomed threateningly over the few cars parked slightly up hill. "Dear Lord," one camper said to another. "It's majestic, after a fashion," was the reply.

Each watched as a flock of small birds, singing back and forth to one another, alighted atop the shitpile and promptly sank up to the breastfeathers in it.

I kind of take things literally some of the time. In other news: I am out of milk, which means I must drink my coffee black and abstain from cereal unless I wish to have a very dry throat. This makes me vexed. Verily, it is so.

The problem with thinking is that once you start, it's kind of hard to stop.

I don't know what the general experience of English majors has been, but for me, specifically, I've typically been dealt with scornfully. My course-load is impressive, but only for someone of non-English major-hood. I may be smart, but only in an English major context. I think this attitude to English majors is mainly because we don't really LEARN anything in the modern-traditional sense; we don't memorize horrific amounts of detail (unless we happen to end up in a Mac-Hay class, in which case, God have mercy upon us), we don't acquire overtly practical skills, at most we could be said to bull-shit amazingly convincingly.

And it's true, to a certain point. English majors aren't exactly trained to be skilled in trivia. Not for the most part, at any rate - I mean, we're expected to know general causes and factors that influence the development of literature. We're not expected to know the kreb cycle, or the exact progression of Hitler's forces in Africa during World War II. No one quizzes us on the gestalt approach (unless we're working within an inter-disciplinary context), and no one asks us to give an equation for the velocity of rockets breaking through the atmosphere. Most of us aren't good at math; most of us can't do anything beyond very basic calculus.

And our lack of general ability in these fields, as a group and not an individual by individual basis, is what colours the perception that English is the default major. In a lot of cases it is. But this status isn't because English is an incredibly easy discipline. Enough people struggle with it to illustrate that it is, in fact, quite difficult to acquire the rules governing it; the only people who actually say that English is easy are those who have spent their entire lives speaking it, being trained to think in its system of associative bundles, of grammatical structuring. Speak to anyone who has had to learn English as a second language - I lived with one for my entire life, and around many others while I was a child. My mom is Japanese; a lot of my friends can't understand her English. They say her accent is too strong. They don't understand her sentence structure, they get confused by her seemingly strange linguistic leaps. They ask me to interpret my mom's English into their English. What about any of this is easy? English is not easy. English is the majority of North America's basis of communication, and it breaks down.

In the English study discipline, this is important - the study of how meanings are formed, and how they have changed, and what they have changed into, and why they changed at all. Language is the outward expression of thought; English can therefore be said to study thought. Maybe this sounds familiar; maybe I should be stopped and told, "You're thinking philosophy now, you're going down the wrong track." But English is a chameleon, it blends in with many if not all of the fields in humanities. Philosophy concerns itself with asking questions and seeking possible answers to those questions. This is what all other disciplines, from the hard sciences to the soft to the humanities, attempt to do - look at context, formulate hypotheses, test them, find answers or more questions.

See, I don't agree with casting English majors in a derogatory light. Maybe only because I am one, but still, I find that I'm being trained to analyze texts, to contextualize, to ask questions and deconstruct and reconstruct, to try to understand the thoughts of authors, of narrators, of characters, to continuously alter my framework of interpretation to gain new readings. The last point is the most difficult one for me - to actually and consciously change my value system, the way I perceive reality (without the aid of chemical substances), is hard for me to do. But that's what education is about - reformatting your brain, learning to think, learning to shift modes of thought.

An English education is a significant education. It is difficult to do well in the discipline, especially at an upper level. If anyone doubts, let them read Derrida, Said, Bhabha.

And wow, that's kind of a long rant. ...oops.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I didn't tell a lie!

Okay, so, this is actually ridiculously late given that I said I'd update 'tomorrow' and when 'tomorrow' came, I... well, let's just say that for me tomorrow never came. Which is actually kind of true, since tomorrow never does actually arrive. Um. Yes, I realize I'm trying to justify my laziness. Oh! A good excuse for not having posted when I said I was going to post: I sprained my ankle! Yes, this doesn't stop me from typing, but it does put me in horribly debilitating pain! Or, y'know, enough pain that I have to hobble about and whine piteously to all and sundry who will listen. And offer chocolate. (Which actually happened! I got chocolate and flowers! 'Twas the awesomest of the awesome.)

Anywho, how, what and where, the above picture is in honor of (the now belated) Valentine's Day. Here's hoping everyone had one in some way filled with love! Mine was filled with tests. Two of them. Yeah.

So here is the 1st of the McSweeney Prompts:

Prompt: Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

Table decided it disliked being used as a murder site. Beforehand it didn't quite have an opinion one way or another, but recent experience with spurting blood streaking its veneer and tickling down its legs, coagulating around its feet, decided it. Kinesthetic sense was the only one table had, after all - no eyes no sight, no ears no hearing - and it liked being stroked down with warm cleaning cloths more than it enjoyed the slam of bodies on top of it.

You've got it made, photograph-frame grumbled. Look at my glass covering. It got cracked. Do you know how annoying it is to look at this place through fractured eyes? I keep on seeing multiples of everything, which is not pretty. At all. I mean, you'd think the neighbours would have smelled something by now and gotten this place cleaned up.

Photograph decided not to add to the conversation. It was hard to talk while in pieces; and the fragments of its image that had been smiles had blown out the window days ago. The scraps that were left anchored themselves in clotted blood. A photographic pair of linked hands had long since disappeared.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Writerly things!

So, I realize that I post an absurd amount of links to this blog. But the internet is a vast and scarily interesting place, and I like to explore; moreover, I like to take others with me. You know, in case of sudden e-bear attack. (The survival instinct is strong within me; I'm a true northern Canadian.)

One of the funnest places to internet-stalk is McSweeney's website. It has a tremendous amount of cool things on it. One of these tremendously cool things is, also known as Thirteen Writing Prompts, by Dan Wiencek.

My goal? Is to write all of these prompts in the next 13 days. I can already feel that it is a mistake. Ah well. Man-yacks as they say. Or perhaps that's just me. And if anyone feels like joining in, it'd be like a party! Well, not really. Only in my head.

The first of these prompts is: Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

My response = tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

*oscillates wildly*

This post is devoted to things that are awesome. Why? you ask. Well, because for the most part lately the world has not been awesome. Apart from stupid budget cuts at the university, and friend-related-abandonment, and the breaking of coffee making machines, and the impending Doom of the Eye Appointment with the Eye Drops of HORROR, and the never-ending march of deadlines approaching and passing whilst I wave wildly (like the alliteration?), the world has actually sucked.

Therefore! Awesome things that cause cheerfulness! And mayhap awe! To begin with, the picture above. Is it not awesome? Methinks it may be.

Also: is very awesome. Incredibly awesome, in fact. It is daily MONSTERS. How much more awesome can you get? is wistfully beautiful and beautifully smart. Melikes a webcomic about 'romance, sarcasm, math and language'. Dude, curse words. In other languages. The good, it does not get any better. It's an adventure! With particles! ...awesome for those with no physics knowledge; for those with, there are pretty diagrams! That move! How sparkly.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd that's all, folks.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

ahhh! babel! babble! babelbabble!

"They are great private of spessimetro, the OH -, that is I."

I have discovered the method through which the Canadian supersecretspyleague can communicate without anyone ever being able to decode their supersecretspymessages! ...the problem of course being that by the time the message has gone through the encoding machine (also know as the Babelinator, like the Terminator only with WORDS and thusly much more awesome), not even they will know what is that they have said. Still. Brilliance.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Canadian? Nay! Hyphenated!

I disagree with the commonly held belief that the inherent danger of being an English major is a tendency to post- and -ism things to metaphorical death. I mean, post-'s and -ism's aren't in themselves dangerous. Actually they're quite fun. You can attach and detach them at will, like breakaway lego pieces.

No, the danger in being an English major is to analyze things to death. Usually pointless things. Things seeking authentification, which draws in other English majors, or post-English majors who have gone on to become theorists, professors, etcetera. (Note how I cleverly included a 'post-'. I have learned well in my English major ways.) The whole point of this was to bring the blogpost to the subject of Canadian identity, but it was taking too long going the roundabout and witty way, and I have a paper due in 2 hours I have yet to start writing. Procrastination, another skill perfected through English major experience.

Anywho, to take another shortcut, I just slogged through an article about ethnicity and identity and the pitfalls of multiculturalism, etcetera, so on, so forth. (It was pretty readable, actually, and by Bissoondath.) So! Much was made of hyphenation of identity, which seemed to scream hybridization in altered form to me, but whatevs.

Arg. I hate exposition. It takes too long.

In short: I think Canadians would make excellent super secret spies. I mean, internationally speaking, as we seem to lack any kind of cohesive national identity, which would make our loyalty to "crown and country" kind of questionable. You know, since no one really pays attention to the crown and the existence of an actual country seems debatable. So! Due to our hyphenated state (for example, take your typical Chinese-Canadian, Indian-Canadian, Jamaican-Canadian, Japanese-Canadian) we, nationally, occupy an unspecified zone of hybridity (this wasn't actually Bissoondath's point: he argued for a possible casting aside of hyphens and embracing identity as 'Canadian' with no extra add ons, proving that he fails at post- and -ism speak and therefore also at being an English major, shame on him). Our hybrid status makes us exceptionally fluid on an international scale identity-wise; give any hyphenated Canadian a good reason to be loyal to any particular government/country/etc., and chances are, they will be entirely devoted. Or at least amused with the novel experience. And also, by retaining the overt (non) identity of Canadian, these individuals would be widely accepted on many social and political levels. Which, obviously, necessary for being a spy!

God, I make no sense. I try to prove my logic, my logic falls apart. I should just give up. I mean, I just know I should not go into why all mimes are ninja in disguise, and as all ninja are also spies, logically all spies are mimes.

....and that essay deadline appears to be creeping up on me. Ack! Many acks! Haha, man-yacks.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

the f-word

so in the corner store, yesterday, with a friend, i let slip the f-word and she was shocked.

"i don't agree with that word," she said. "it's so rude."

and i said sorry, i don't mean to make you uncomfortable.

"it doesn't make me uncomfortable, it makes me angry," she said.

for it to make you angry it has to unsettle you, i said.

"i just don't get it," she said. "i just don't get why people use it all the time. it does such negative things."

or maybe people just say it does negative things. maybe it does positive things, but since it's said to do negative things, the public buys into the negative reputation and subverts the positive reality. did you think of that? did you think of why you can't say it? i said. did you ever wonder what the first person to use it thought of it? and why they used it?

i said, i want to know when feminism became a dirty word. and i want to know when dirty became bad.