31 May 2008

Boot Sale Update!

Today's update (this is a 'regular feature' of the blog, if by 'regular' we mean 'twice'):

Boot sale trend today? Faux, plastic VHS tape covers that look like leatherbound books! Yes, saw these at about 6 of the vendors today. They are so unbelievably tacky that they can't even qualify as kitch. Really. Not even in your hip loft apartment. Trust me.

I managed to secure a lovely coffee server in my newly-chosen china pattern (it's not just for wedding registries anymore--you too can choose your china pattern after over 15 years with your partner!). It's called Indian tree. It is not at all Indian. This appeals to me. Plus, it's chinoiserie, my favourite word. What could be better?

My current holding in Indian Tree: four plates and the coffee server. Let the games begin!

28 May 2008

um, it's almost June

Right. I am currently wearing wool socks (Christmassy pattern), trousers (and pants, but those are different things over here), long-sleeved shirt, and a heavy wool cardigan (think c. 1978 Patagonia and you've got it).

I'm not a huge fan of the heat, I will say. But this is a wee bit ridiculous, especially in light of last 'summer's' non-appearance. Ah well. They say we are due for 'sunny spells' on Friday. But they always say that about the weather two days ahead. Because they can.

In the meantime, check this awesome blog out, which gets it so right. so so right.


Am I right?

24 May 2008

The Awakening and etc.

I have recently finished listening to the librivox version of Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899), which was good on a number of levels. I found myself a bit surprised that it hasn't yet been made into a movie (with Cate Blanchett I think as Mrs. Pontellier, even though she's too skinny for the role, and Colin Firth as Robert, obviously).

It strikes me as a needed correction to the so-called 'third wave' feminism running amok out there--the Sex in the City, I don't want it all I just want my shoes kind of feminism. I say so-called because I am offended that other, more interesting directions that feminism has taken have not become canonized in 'wave' form, like the very legitimate critiques embodied in Black feminism, 'Third World' feminism, and queer theory. But I digress. The Awakening:

In some ways pop/third wave feminism recognises what The Awakening shows us: (elite) women's lives are circumscribed by a very limited number of choices, choices that are largely about existing in relation to a man and one's children first, and then only very secondarily something else. The difference: this was much much more true in turn of the century New Orleans elite culture than it is now. And Emma's choices are as follows: society wife, outcast, or death (where 'outcast' and 'death' are basically equivalent).

But what's interesting is the way that the narrative works in The Awakening. Emma doesn't particularly like her children. She's not a 'mother' type. She finds her husband to be kind and generous, but there's not a lot of love there. She has an encounter with a man whom she loves, and who loves her. But what's genius about the book is that she realises in the end that choosing to go off with him would just be another relation of ownership--they would be unable to be in any sort of queer relation and still maintain their family/social ties. And while she can barely imagine what that relationship would look like, he can't imagine it at all.

Her choice at the end isn't about unrequited love, or the loss of Robert (her lover). It's about her awakening to the possibility of living a queer life, and her recognition of its impossibility.

The study guide websites (which I haven't read because I know they would ruin the book for me) seem to label this book as 'proto-feminism'. I find it to be about queerness.

'Emma Pontellier's awakening shows us Sedgwick's closet'. Discuss.

PS: Librivox version is fascinating--each section of about 4 chapters is read by a different woman, many of whom have lovely French or Spanish accents, in contrast to the intervening chapters with the midwestern/upstate New York rounded flatness. Fab.

22 May 2008

progress and update

An update for those to whom we have not talked in forever and apologies and etc. If you know me at all, you know I dislike picking up the phone and thus have difficulty with ye ol' communication. So a bloggy update...

  1. We are moving back to the US! Both sad and happy news, as we love it here in Wales, we have lovely friends, and a lovely house. Plus I am not excited about having to actually go to a grocery store again. (I have my priorities straight here.)
  2. Where? Baltimore, Balmer, Bodymore Murdaland.
  3. Yes, we have watched (since finding out about the possibility of the move) the entirety of The Wire. And we love it. And it makes us like B'more more. We are drinking Jamesons and swearing a lot in preparation.
  4. Yes, we picked the worst time (or at least the worst thus far since the late 1970s) to sell a house. But there you are. And no, we can't rent it.

That's the general update. More specific updates include:
    q. we ordered a Mini Cooper S yesterday--John Cooper Works, in silver. because of the near universal truth that if you are utterly stressed about selling your house what you do is to buy a car. obviously. plus, ya kinda need a car in the US I hear. I may have to drive for more than 5 minutes/week. crap. and also: silver! shiny!

    2. we are auctioning our house. Yes, auctioning. Not because we are totally ebay people and must auction everything (although we are), but because the hemorrhaging money shows little sign of stopping and we are moving in July. At which point we will be paying quite a lot of money each month for a space that we no longer live in. And its value will also be going down. Fun! We are this kind of crazy people, and the market, while not DC/Baltimore bad, is bad.

    ichi. we will be flying on Virgin with Luke (he will be in the hold but on the same flight). Huzzah for Virgin.

    quatorze. uncharacteristically, we are flying to B'more without housing sorted on the other end. It's like grad school, only with more stuff! and a dog! fun! Friends in DC/B'More/greater MD (shout out to the Waldorf crew!) have offered to house us. Hopefully this will only be for a few weeks.

    undegpunt. I am unnesting. it's a thing. and I find in the multiple moves of the last few years, it's become a natural ritual. it involves eating down whatever food we have in the cupboards. giving away things to charities. ebaying the higher-priced items. and selling books on-line. perhaps I was a nomad in a previous life. I envision this prior life as depicted in the film Gabbeh. Highly recommended.

    ch. perhaps I am a nomad in this life.

    zed. we are at stress level Orange regarding house sale, and largely everything else has become secondary. but hopefully this auction thing will work, and we'll be free of the house sometime in August. If it doesn't, look for the large piles of goo on the streets of B'More. That will be us.

11 May 2008

Welsh is fun! Ydy!

Friday I spent the day in a Welsh exam--9:30 to noon written and listening comprehension, followed by a 2:20 20-minute oral exam in which I had to speak for 3 minutes and then answer questions about my monologue, answer some other questions that tested my comprehension/use of passive, conditional, and emphatic constructions, and then answer ten questions with 'yes', in Welsh. The last thing seems silly, right? But they don't really say 'yes' or 'no' directly very much in Welsh. They do the following:

Are you going to the store? I am.
Do you have children? I do.
Will he make breakfast? He will.
Should we build a hot tub? You (pl) should.
Will I be able to help you? You will be able to. (oh yes. that one's fun)

This means there are about 20 million (give or take) ways to say 'yes' and 'no' in Welsh.

Then there's the tricky ones:

It's cold today! It is.
Mae hi'n oer heddiw! Ydy.
You can see that there's not really any 'ydy' looking thing in the sentence. This is what makes Welsh 'fun' by the way. It also means that often conversations go very slowly with folks like myself:
You: It's cold today!
Me: [pause, think, pause, think] er [pause think] Ydy?

Welsh also simplifies your life by using the singular of verbs even when you're talking about multiple things. This means you don't have to really use as many verb forms, which for me is lovely. But one of the fill-in-the-blanks on the written section was:

Were the pictures good?
except in Welsh it's actually: Was the pictures good?
You'd think the answer would be: they was. But no, when you use the pronoun 'they' you must then conjugate the verb properly. So the answer is: they were.

Oedd y lluniau dda?

And on. Or at least I hope it was.

Welsh is fun! Good thing I'm learning this language that will serve me so well when I move to the mid-Atlantic in a few weeks. Sigh.

09 May 2008

hello, gorgeous!

Sorry for the radio silence. Usually this means that we are having various issues regarding life and chaos. For example, just to pick one thing, failing to sell our house. And having to drop the asking price by a 10% or so, to below what we paid for it. Or, to pick another random thing, say, having to coordinate a move across the ocean (again) for stuff, us, and dog. Fun!

So I enjoy the greeting in the top right corner of Virgin Atlantic's site: Hello Gorgeous!

Hello Virgin. I heart you. And yes, I am gorgeous. Doncha know it.