timeripple: (dulac fiddle)
Today was a beautiful day, of the kind that remind me why I moved here. Wrote a bit, got a smoothie and drank it in the park with Cavafy’s selected poems, took a nap with Copernicus, wrote some more. Slow progress is being made, much of it on the wrong side of the line between context and wild speculation.

I got an ARC of The Bane Chronicles (collected), and I keep saying I’m done with that whole series, but it is awfully addictive, if absurdly overwrought in places and totally lacking in main characters who are less than ridiculously, angelically (or demonically) attractive. Magnus Bane is pretty much the only character I would actually want to read about at this point (though the terrible movie gave me an unexpected fondness for Isabelle Lightwood). Nostalgic terrible sweater blast! Plus I like just about anything Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson write.

I also like Cavafy a lot, as it turns out.

“One of Their Gods” (C.P. Cavafy, tr. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)

When one of them moved through the center of Selefkia
just as it was getting dark—
moved like a young man, tall, extremely handsome,
the joy of immortality in his eyes,
his hair black and perfumed—
the people going by would gaze at him,
and they would ask each other who he was,
if he was a Greek from Syria, or a stranger.
But some who looked more carefully
would understand and step aside;
and as he disappeared under the colonnade,
among the shadows and the evening lights,
going toward the quarter that lives
only at night, with orgies and debauchery,
with every kind of intoxication and desire,
they would wonder which of Them it could be,
and for what suspicious pleasure
he’d come down into the streets of Selefkia
from the August Celestial Mansions.
timeripple: (nodame nom nom)
Happy New Year!

Work has been pretty all-consuming, but I felt very Berkeley this morning—went to the Cheeseboard for a ginger cookie and cheese roll, looked at "comfort shoes" at the mature lady-clothes shop, went to Andronico’s (which has the exact same bulk bins as Monterey Market, only more so). Came home and did half an hour of yoga with assistance from Copernicus the cat. Spent the rest of the day finishing an advance copy of The Blazing World, which I don't think I'm allowed to discuss pre-publication but about which I have many thoughts.

I thought about going back out and getting milk and eggs for a quiche tonight, but in the end opted to make a sort of salad by cooking frozen blackberries together with tofu and leftover sushi rice in a little pot and mixing that with spinach and pepitas garnished with fresh blackberries, sort of a less successful riff on Heidi Swanson’s black rice and cherry salad. It was… not all that delicious, to be honest, but it looked pretty. The white rice absorbs the blackberry juice and looks kind of like pomegranate seeds, if you don’t look too closely. Dinner reading: MFK Fisher’s Musings on Wine and Other Libations. She's delightful.

In other news, inspired by [livejournal.com profile] mousapelli and by extreme intellectual boredom and hatred of retail, I am seriously considering a try at a PhD. Probably in comparative literature rather than straight-up English, though really a mountain--nay, a mountain range--of research needs to be done before I even know where to apply. I had this revelation just in time to miss all application deadlines for this fall, so I'll have to wait almost two years to actually start--assuming I find a program I want that wants me--but I am pretty sure I can fill the time. I have a few real-world sources, but any suggestions and/or advice would be most welcome.

If I insist on spending all my spare time writing scholarly papers about Greek literature in Victorian children's novels, I might as well get credit for it.

My anthropologist housemate K. recommends that I take up kendo to increase my confidence. We shall see.
timeripple: (fyeah curly redheaded heroines)
I suppose it would be accurate to sum up 2013 as "the year I moved to Berkeley and had a lot of feelings." I also read a lot of books (no surprise) and watched a lot of American television and only three Asian dramas (yes surprise) and, to judge by my diary, had a lot of feelings about those. I took a semester of Korean (excruciating but also entertaining), expanded my cooking repertoire, and went apartment-hunting twice.

It's so weird to see myself as an adult. I think it's helped me begin to think about the future, though. And I'm afraid, but also--for a change--hopeful.

Happy New Year.
timeripple: (fyeah curly redheaded heroines)
Not very creative, perhaps, but seasonally appropriate, and anyway it’s freezing in here. It may be mid-sixties autumn outside, warm light and drifting golden leaves, but I keep waking up expecting snow and red-brick towers and black lamp-posts.

Also I’ve finally begun reading A Game of Thrones and am enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I’m impressed with the HBS team’s ability to recommend things: I must say we chose better than we knew when we featured the re-jacketed Young Miles in Other Games, Other Thrones. (Better than we knew because none of us had actually read GoT. Nobody told me about Tyrion Lannister! And Arya Stark would be right at home in a Tamora Pierce novel.)

Speaking of books I’m enjoying a lot more than I thought I would, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (pub 1/28/14) is excellent! Beauty and the Beast meets Greco-Roman mythology meets Tam Lin with unexpected shades of Diana Wynne Jones! I was only disappointed that *spoiler* wasn’t an anagram for *spoiler* because that would have been awesome, though possibly too much. And then, hilariously, I saw [livejournal.com profile] idiosyncreant listed as a beta-reader in the acknowledgements. YAY!

Things have been crazy at work and I’ve been super grumpy and had to give myself the “these people interrupting your frantic shelving are the people who keep you in business, so SMILE AND BE NICE TO THEM” talk. In between going up to full time at the store and running all the social media, though, I’ve finally been making progress on my re-read of The Daisy Chain, so that’s immensely satisfying.

I went to a friend’s Thanksgiving dinner and brought molasses spice cookies from the Flour recipe book. They were universally praised—supremely gratifying! I hope you all had an excellent Thanksgiving and happy Hanukkah and are staying sane going into the Christmas season. I am myself, against all probability, warming to the holiday spirit. And I am endlessly thankful: for health, employment, a roof over my head and good food and books and music, for family and most of all for my friends. You are precious to me.
timeripple: (nodame nom nom)
Any suggestions for Berkeley-on-a-budget things to do with visitors? We're planning to walk around the university and Telegraph Ave, hit up the Elmwood and the Gourmet Ghetto and the rose garden, maybe do some scenic driving in the hills... any other suggestions?
timeripple: (fyeah curly redheaded heroines)
It is my one-year breakup-with-Boston anniversary. Not sure how I feel about it; trying not to think too much.

I will say that the food around here is better, though not necessarily the chai.
timeripple: (Default)
I must be a grown-up. Today I actually thought, Kids. They know a little bit, maybe they know a lot, and they think they know everything.

Allow me to explain. (And please keep in mind that this is partly in response to a lot of ugliness about feminism I’ve been seeing around Tumblr, and partly in response to trying to marshal my thoughts on the new David Levithan novel, Two Boys Kissing. It is not a reasoned, quotable essay; it is a record of my own thoughts and feelings. It may veer into the tactlessly bitter.)

This afternoon, a couple of teenagers (not a teenage couple) came in and immediately started talking about the books, loudly and with the kind of indubitable, indignant authority sometimes displayed by the whip-smart young (and by the insecure intellectual male of any age). Well, the girl was doing the talking, anyway. She was clearly an authority on LGBTQ lit and declared herself the guy's Sassy Gay Friend.

Of The Song of Achilles: “The Greeks were way into homosexuality.” Of a number of YA books: “Stonewall” (that’s a British LGBTQ award). Of Cinder: “It was okay.” Of The Princess Bride: “That is the greatest book ever, and if you disagree, you are wrong.” On Teen Wolf: “If you are a lesbian, you will die! ‘Don’t be like this; you will die in a thousand horrible ways.’”

(This is a valid criticism: Danny is openly gay and the whole school’s darling, but the only lesbians were the Victim Couple at the beginning of Season 3, one of whom died horribly. It should be pointed out, though, that the role of Victim Couple is usually played by a straight pair, such as on Every Episode of Supernatural Ever. And the Victim Lesbians were adorable, right up until one of them got ritually murdered. Why did you have to murder one of the Adorable Victim Lesbians, show? They were so adorable.)

The girl approved of Will Grayson, Will Grayson and went into passionate, worshipful ecstasies on the subject of John Green. And, listening, I wanted to ask her: Have you liked any YA LGBTQ books by women? Any at all? How about Ash, Huntress, Pink, Parrotfish, Luna, If You Could Be Mine, Sister Mischief, Silhouette of a Sparrow?

Her companion said, mildly, “I’m a marketing guy” and bought The Fault in Our Stars, Ready Player One, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

And I thought, just a little bit, Teenagers. They get to know a little, and suddenly they think know everything.

But I also thought, They’re so much smarter about this stuff than we were at that age (“we” being the teenage peer group I grew up with in rural Northern California, myself included). And I think that’s partly because they have a literature we didn’t: a readily available literature that discusses sexuality and gender and race with teens as the focal point, teen experiences as the central narrative. They have a critical vocabulary and a hundred ways and places to talk about it that we didn’t have.

Don’t stop thinking. Don’t stop talking. Think more, talk more, listen more too.

(Ask yourself why all the authors you’re worshipping are men.

(Ask your Marketing Guy friend.)
timeripple: (fyeah curly redheaded heroines)
It’s Rimsky-Korsakov day on my local public radio. Symphony #2 “Antar” in f# Op 9 yesssss. Apparently it’s also Knightly Theme Day, which is making me nostalgic for that one epics class back in college that, while a total joke, was super interesting.
...

Sometimes the only way to find out what’s going on is to hack into your superior’s email account. (Is it still hacking if he or she told you his or her password so you could get people’s email addresses? And if you told him or her ahead of time that you were doing it?)

You know it’s time to find a new line of employment when one of your senior colleagues says, “We love having you around, but—not to insult myself—you are wasted on this job.” Don’t I know it.

Despite all of that, work is going well, and not spending every day completely frustrated and angry is an improvement over last year.

I had a pretty quiet Fourth of July: had the day off work; got teary over the Declaration of Independence, as is my way; made berry crumble (it was going to be pie but I ran out of energy). I was going to go see the fireworks at the marina, but as I walked downtown to catch the bus, I grew increasingly apprehensive. The streets were almost totally deserted except for the homeless people. I spent 15 creepy minutes waiting for the bus to show up late and drive right by, crammed with drunk firework-goers, at which point I gave up and came back home. I spent the evening eating crumble and trying to reassure Copernicus, who did not like the firework noises in the slightest. Poor kitty.

Today I mostly spent passed out on my bed; I think I’ve finally caught whatever cold is going around at work. Copernicus deigned to nap beside me for a while, a gesture of great catly magnanimity. He was not impressed with either of my reading materials (ARCs by [livejournal.com profile] blackholly and [livejournal.com profile] catvalente).

Super excited to go see the Joss Whedon Much Ado movie with my friend AG tomorrow.

And finally, a very happy not-quite-belated birthday to [livejournal.com profile] snowqueenofhoth! I hope you had a lovely day and ate many strawberries.
timeripple: (i said nothing)
I don’t understand how the year can have got to the end of June without my noticing, but I blame it on my housemate’s cat, Copernicus. He is an enormous ginger tabby, and most distracting, though a good companion. He likes to listen to me fiddling and serenading the neighbors with increasingly bizarre versions of Bach minuets on the fancy electronic keyboard. (This is not all that impressive, since two and a half Bach minuets and a very short Mozart thingy are all I actually know how to play.) He also likes to chase (but not eat) hair ties, and to crouch in his crinkly tunnel, only to spring out at a bit of plumy feather at the end of a string tied to a stick. He stomps across the floor if he thinks you’re not paying him enough attention.

In other news, I’ve been settling into my new home, figuring out my commute to work, watching Supernatural (it’s so bad, and yet so amazing), being polite to people with bizarre book requests, running events, filling in for our children’s buyer, reading ARCs at top speed, and totally failing to work on any of my own writing. Though I did rescue the new Penguin Classics De Profundis and Other Prison Writings by Oscar Wilde from the give-away shelf, and have started reading it. (It’s not directly relevant to my work, but it does have to do with applying Greek philosophical writings to Victorian life, so.)

Berkeley is so weird. It’s a lot like Cambridge, only more so. And I keep finding that people are very, very invested in promoting and maintaining a binary gender dichotomy. Is it because mostly I interact with fairly affluent parents while at work? And yet other people, who I might expect to be less invested, are equally so. Do they not realize they live in Berkeley? Does "Berkeley" not mean what I thought it means? I have to say, this is not what I thought the biggest cultural difference from the East Coast would entail. (Well, this and food service.) I didn’t think people would be surprised whenever I go around muttering “Gender is a social construct!” under my breath.

I miss you all so. I woke up this morning fiercely homesick for Wellesley. I’ve been thinking a lot about its rhetoric lately, I suppose; though what I miss is not the rhetoric but my people, both those I met there and later, elsewhere.

Also chai. I’ve found two good places near work, but so far everything in North Berkeley is complete swill, or worse. (Seriously. Last week I had a very nice cup of spiced hot water and mint that tasted like it had never seen tea. I could do better myself with a Lipton bag and no cinnamon.) Happily, the muffins remain excellent. As Oscar Wilde no doubt knew, it is important not to underestimate the importance of a good muffin.
timeripple: (nodame nom nom)
Happy Valentine’s Day! Or Happy Pan-Universal Be Who You Are Day (thanks, Kristin Cashore!). I don’t have particularly strong feelings about Valentine’s Day one way or another, except that it is inevitably followed by the Second-Greatest Candy Sale Day of the Year (the Greatest Candy Sale Day of the Year being Nov. 1), about which I do have strong feelings. I compromised by wearing black and eyeliner to work, but also wearing pink tights and inexpertly painting my fingernails sparkly pink with black and silver details.

Speaking of work, I’m settling in pretty well, though it’s very different from my last job. But nice too. Clearly I still have a lot to learn about bookselling, though, and should remember not to say “awesomesauce” to little old ladies. I found the world’s best-organized comics store last week and bought Fionna & Cake #1.

FIONA: I was going to ask if you had this, but clearly… you do!
COMICSELLER: Yep!
FIONA: I don’t read nearly enough comics, but I have friends who work for Comic Book Resources, and they said I should read it.
COMICSELLER: Your friends are totally right!
FIONA & COMICSELLER: *mutual approval*

So there you have it. The comics store is right next to a sff/mystery bookstore that has nearly every single Diana Wynne Jones book, and pretty much everything else. *cries from happiness*

In other news, I’m getting used to my housemates and mustering the discipline to work on my paper and taking Korean. I’m eating far too much sourdough bread, which is probably why I haven’t noticeably lost any weight, despite the fact that I walk everywhere and desperately need new shoes. The other day, I got partway up one of the trails behind the house before I got nauseated and decided to turn around and come back down. But I got pretty far, especially for being as out of shape as I am. And the views are spectacular from pretty much anywhere on the trail I picked, as it zigzags up the western face of the hill. (I’m pretty sure that hill counts as a mountain in New England.) Next time I’ll get further. I could see downtown Oakland and San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County, and the bay shining silver, and a little haze creeping in.

I miss you all, and not everything is perfect, but I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Some days I can’t believe this place is real.

Some days I can.

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