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Archive for October, 2007

On my way to class this morning, more strangers were smiling on the street than I’d ever seen before. In fact, look outside now, if you can, because it’s pretty much the only time you can get Bostonians to smile, and look happy, on their own sidewalks.

It occurred to me on Sunday night that when, in 2004, the Red Sox won the world series, I was also in the North End. I was slouched in a sort-of-friend’s couch, drinking whiskey straight out of a little tumbler and dozens of just-baked cookies. We thought it would be a good idea to bake cookies. I don’t know. And all I wanted to do was go home (my parents were arriving in the morning, I didn’t want to be hungover, I had class at some obscene hour, we weren’t even celebrating the Red Sox any more), but everyone else was stuck in some sort of quasi-intellectual roundabout conversation about The Alchemist and their own selves. I was bored by it all. And hungry.

So my first year here, they broke a curse. This year, my last in Boston, they’ve done it again. I fell asleep in my own quiet studio listening to beer bottles breaking and people shouting.

We watched the parade from a second-floor window. Then I made the mistake of going outside. I was only walking half a block, but it must have taken me two hours (possibly that’s an exaggeration…)

Strange people kept waving at me from the street. Chants of “Yankees Suck”. And what, I think, do the Yankees have to do with this? Well, nothing, really but they can’t very well chant, “Rockies Suck”, can they? That would be utterly unsportsmanlike.

I think every state trooper in Massachusetts is on Boylston Street. Except for the group that were in the bus behind the Duck Boats. I am seeking refuge in a café until the streets unclog (which they have just begun to do). I’m sounding very cynical, I suppose. It’s only that my mind this morning is full of practical things: how to get to class on time, when my new checks will arrive so I can pay my electricity bill, etc. But really, what I mean is, so the Red Sox, appropriately enough, frame my college years in Boston. There are worse things than to see a lot of eastcoasters smiling (for once).

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Rather weirdly, the last 5 films I have watched feature Keira Knightley.

I didn’t notice this until just yesterday, when I finished up the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean, and thought, “gee, I’ve seen an awful lot of her face lately…”

I wonder if this says something about me…am I just naturally drawn to the kind of film that features leggy, cheekboned, puff-lipped beauties? Probably. I’m certainly not drawn to the kind of film that makes you think too hard. I’ve discovered I don’t have the patience to sit through movies, really. I get distracted and want to get up and come back later. Even in the fifteen minute long streaks that I can sit through, I have to be doing something. Eating, generally, though once I’ve run out of food, I go back to picking my fingers (eek). I’ve smuggled food and drink into movie theaters across the world (that sounds far more impressive than it is). I constantly need to lean over to my companion (provided I have one) and offer a running commentary, which I, of course, think is ceaselessly witty, but everyone else thinks is just annoying. Full stop.

So when I do indulge in a film, it’s generally the kind that doesn’t require you to pay it your fullest attention. I certainly enjoy the moviegoing experience, occasionally, and find that takeout and a DVD is often a blissful combination. All this having been said, ought I really be surprised that Keira Knightley is in every other movie I watch?

Probably not.

On another (slightly more literary) note, I’ve finally finished Gaudy Night. I took my time with it, because I have found that curling up on the pile of blankets on my floor with a cup of tea and a diverting novel is a great pleasure these days. Especially when an Autumn wind blows cold against the window, and the leaves come fluttering from the trees on my street. Now I can turn my attention back to one of the other 400 books I’m reading.

I’m beginning to see a theme here, and I’m not sure I like it. If attention spans were measured in something concrete, mine would be, I suspect, lilliputian.

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Have been flipping through photographs in my effort NOT to work on my thesis this weekend (goodness knows I have PLENTY of time………..right?). Came across a particularly delightful series taken by a friend…having put them together, no wonder it takes us three hours to cook a dinner and at least six to eat it. Consequently, no wonder we go through at least 10 bottles of wine. And on top of that…we hardly even all fit into the kitchen!

Makes me rather homesick, in a weird way. It’s very cold in my apartment; I would love to have lots of people and hot food on the table and wine being spilled. What I have at the moment is a pile of blankets on the floor and the hum of the refrigerator which will, I suspect, drive me BATTY by the end of this term.

Today was one of those AUTUMN DAYS: clear as anything, cold, crisp, leaves falling from trees. It was hard not to smile (stupidly, really) the entire day. I went for a long walk, ostensibly doing errands but really just finding excuses to a) not work on my thesis and b) stay outside. Couldn’t even bring myself to run because it would seem a shame to go quickly past such a day: I wanted to linger on streetcorners and squint up at the skyline. On such days, it is easy to be captivated by Boston’s charm. It’s a city that looks bleak and rundown through a rainy lens, but positively sparkles on a clear day.

Went to the vintage shop down the road (and found myself wondering, as I always do, how they can pay rent if they’re only open two days a week) where I toyed with the idea of buying myself a pair of 1950s vintage black pumps. They were ten dollars and fit like a GLOVE, but ultimately I told the woman I couldn’t justify such a purchase. But now I find myself wondering if they shall still be there next weekend, and if so, perhaps I can summon up some sort of justification.

Yes, it was THAT kind of day. Also grocery shopping day, which is always, in my view, a good day.

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Minarets and Things


new musings on a several-month-old trip:

Every day the muezzin sing from minarets for men to come and pray; every day the song goes bouncing off walls that are a thousand years old and older. The minarets go on carrying song, even after we leave, after we go back to Oxford, where the bells of Magdalen College hum a different kind of tune. Melodic clockwork: the old water clock across from the Medersa Bou Inania ceased working years ago; but from every corner of Fés you can mark time by the flow of men to mosque.

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More On Cups of Tea Etc.

My figurative cup of tea was better than I could have hoped. So good, in fact, that I forwent the second actual cup of tea, got my butt out of the house, and enjoyed the day (which was a really very fine one, though a bit warm—a warmth, in fact, that smacked confusingly of spring). Am feeling muchly restored.

Have also been informed that googling “creature of perpetual worrying” brings me (well, my blog, anyhow) to the top of the results. Appropriate, isn’t it?

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Two cups of figurative AND literal tea. I don’t know when this started, but it’s my cure-all. What is it, do you think? Is it as simple as the fact that it’s hot? I’m inclined to think it’s more the ritual of it: the motions, listening to the kettle bubble, splashing milk, dipping fingers into the cup to get the teabag, sitting down and smelling the liquid, sipping idly. Soothing, and wonderfully banal. So today I want at least two cups of tea, for stomach and soul, before I venture out into the world.

I’m feeling, you see, really, frightfully self-indulgent today. And in fact quite miserable. Not in an unfixable down-in-the-dumps kind of way so much as in an existential-crisis sort of way, which is better, because it stems, I know, from thinking too much, so if I know what’s good for me I’ll do things that keep me from thinking too much, like running and reading and the like. The only problem with reading is that every two pages or so I look up and apply what I’ve just read to my own life, with the result that I think doubly as hard as I would if I wasn’t reading (just imagine trying to apply Gaudy Night to your own ultra-modern life, and your head will boggle, I promise).

Have finished cup #1 now. So must go off to make #2. Sadly it’s a beautiful day outside, so I must go and enjoy it. If it was raining hard, or better yet, snowing (yes, stranger things have happened in Boston than snow in October, I’m sure), I could justify staying inside all day, steeling myself against the world, having, say, four or even five cups of tea, reading my entire book, and taking a long nap. As it is I think I shall have to put on dark glasses and face what looks, from my window, like a perfectly gorgeous fall day. Poor little me, eh?

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Waiting

Something of a strange night. Worked for most of it. The Red Sox beat the Indians, pushing another game. England, regrettably, failed to secure the rugby world cup. In the midst of all this, a colleague dropped his bussing basket on the dance floor, threw his arms up, and danced. He danced and danced until other people started dancing too. I just smiled, a lot. And danced around the perimeter of the room grabbing people’s empty glasses from under their noses, twirling away, grab, twirl, grab, twirl.

I waited, tonight. (Tables). But I am also waiting. There’s an unreality to this particular time: I feel suspended. A friend the other night said it best, “it’s not real”, and though it is, it isn’t, because I’m pushing toward something truly good, a few months away, like the little creature in the book Watching who waits for his tree to sprout.

Hell, I’m tired. Spent a good hour in the middle of my shift reading Dorothy Sayers (and getting paid for it) but still feel as if I’ve been on my feet for eight hours, which, that scrap of reading time notwithstanding, I really have. Off to bed then. Off to bed.

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