Saturday, 30 January 2010

Woman's Constancy

NOW thou hast loved me one whole day,
To-morrow when thou leavest, what wilt thou say ?
Wilt thou then antedate some new-made vow ?
Or say that now
We are not just those persons which we were ?
Or that oaths made in reverential fear
Of Love, and his wrath, any may forswear ?
Or, as true deaths true marriages untie,
So lovers' contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death's image, them unloose ?
Or, your own end to justify,
For having purposed change and falsehood, you
Can have no way but falsehood to be true ?
Vain lunatic, against these 'scapes I could
Dispute, and conquer, if I would ;
Which I abstain to do,
For by to-morrow I may think so too.

- John Donne

Eight Weeks

I opened up my 2009 organizer to check a friend's birthday and there were so many entries from this time last year that I recall very clearly. So much has changed.

There are: reminders about paying battels; Ralph's lectures on books & scribes; Mary Carruthers's talks ('Hot Tears and Cold Reason'); my joint birthday party with Dan ('do you like to drink copiously?'); of course also February 11th, when you made me porkchops on Walton street (with chocolate cake for dessert). I remember cake for breakfast across the street, and then cycling off to meet the Warden in my gown. In the 'Notes' section of that week my organizer reads:

'shit shit shit - I hope you've done shitloads of work!'
I suppose I must have. I did well in Hilary Term.

The Hilary Term BTD was on the 2nd of March. On that same day I was suppose to have produced an outline for my B-essay. I remember what a wore to the black-tie: a halter-neck dress gathered at the waist, black with white bows printed on the fabric, and a red flower pin in my hair. A certain person who shall remain nameless wore a backless dress and looked so sexy. She took a picture of us kissing in the Keble bar.

Some entries mean nothing to me. Why was I going to New College at 2 pm on the 5th of March?

There's also Sarah's birthday dinner, which I couldn't attend because I was working so much. Hilary Term = hitting the panic button so hard it broke. I've never pulled all-nighters before, and never have since. I still remember handing in my papers at the exam schools, wearing DJ's clothes from head to toe, including his underwear. There was a loose agreement of: I will work all night at the library, he will set up his camp-bed; I will let myself into the lodge at 6 am, and get up at 8 and brush my teeth with the toothbrush I keep in his bathroom, open his socks and underwear drawer, dress myself, borrow his other clothes, and get back to work;...

It's good having a friend who's like a little brother, but better.

There's also Penny Bateman is a Hero Day; lunch with Maria at Jaipur; rugby games (which I was never able to attend); May Day on Magdalen Bridge; swim test at Iffley; Summer Eights; Keble garden party; dissertation due June 15th, 2009.

Oh and of course the Trinity Term BTD, May 14th. I tore my dress dancing, and wondered if I'd ever be so happy again. In fact, I wondered that a lot back then.

... eight weeks - and then Trinity ended. Entries in the organizer drop off sharply from that point (and there's nothing after August 31st).

I remember walking through Keble after submitting my dissertation and suddenly feeling like it's not my place anymore. Sure, I could still get into the MCR, all my friends were around, the pidge in the porter's lodge has my name on it (and my post in it), but something has quietly moved on. Is that also one of the reasons why I made up my mind to leave?

{What is it then, that (everyday) makes me want to go back?}

{Oh, it must be the memories.}

August 31st, 2009. 3:35 pm, BA99, Terminal 5 ...
amazing how this entry brings everything back.

Time never moves backwards, and I don't believe in crossing the same river twice. But is there a way to loop 'round and pick up what was left behind? That, I think, would make me very happy. I suppose I haven't had enough.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Sweet Dreams

Last night, and today

Last night, a slightly belated birthday celebration with a friend at Sarah's on the Danforth. A healthy selection of wheat beers. I enjoyed all the ones I sampled (and photographed).

Today I got some yarn to prepare for mum's birthday present. I've decided to knit her Ysolda's damson shawl. It's not much of a surprise because I actually called her up and showed her the pattern so she could pick a colour. Safer this way, I reckon.

But I still have to finish the beret that's on my needles at the moment... not to mention the striped socks I started for Richard. Ho hum. Must commute more so I have more knitting time - and stop getting confused so I spend less time trying to work out what I'm knitting rather than knitting it.

{I also have to write up my wonderful trip to the Osborne collection, & do some translation work, & finish some of my own art projects - when it rains, it pours, you see. And of course I am only ever compelled to blog when I really should be sleeping}

Thursday, 28 January 2010

What Beijing Fears Most

From the NYR Blog: What Beijing Fears Most.

Life Drawing I

I liked Natalie's life drawing class so much I decided to repeat it. It worked for me. I produced my favourite pieces in that class. Why fix what's not broken? Here's one I did yesterday. It felt so effortless and I like it a lot.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Draw me a picture

A few months ago I went to the Osborne Collection of the Toronto Public Library for their exhibition 'When Cinderella Went to the Ball - Five Hundred Years of Fairy Tales'. I bought their exhibition catalogue because I loved so many of their pieces. Next week I will be taking some students from the Toronto School of Art for a tour on the history of illustration. It's all very exciting!

Here's some favourites I scanned in.

The Brave Tin Soldier: pop ups with moving figures. Hans C. Andersen. V. Kubasta. London: Murrays Sales & Service Co. © 1973. Printed in Czechosolovakia.

Pen-and-ink drawing by William Heath Robinson for "Tommelise" in Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1913). The old mother toad makes off with Tommelise in her walnut-shell bed: "This is just the wife for my son," said the toad.

Tales from Grimm. Freely translated and illustrated by Wanda Gag. New York: Coward-McCann, © 1936.

Pen-and-ink drawing by Wanda Gag from her retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (New York: Coward-McCann, © 1938).

Papercutting of "Bremer Musicians" by Nelly Hofer (unpublished, ca. 2005).

Little Red Riding Hood. London: Dean and Son, [between 1857 and 1865].

The golden goose book: being the stories of The golden goose, The three bears, The 3 little pigs, Tom Thumb. With numerous drawings in colour and black-and-white by L. Leslie Brooke. London and New York: Frederick Wrne and Co., [ca. 1930?].

Cinderella. Designed by Inge Wolgast. Rostock: Lesemaus Miniaturbuchverlag, 2003. Number five in an edition limited to twenty-five copies.

Pen-and-ink design by Walter Crane for the cover of Bluebeard's Picture Book (London and New York: John Lane, [1898?]).

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Quit being so picky lady

click to enlarge (your heart valves)

Monday, 18 January 2010

Ups, Downs & Homemade Bouillon

When I'm having a better day I am able to think of normal things. Today I cleaned my flat, did two loads of laundry, hoovered the staircase, handed out three cvs, and had a chat with my folks on skype.

I also saw this really amazing recipe for homemade bouillon. Who has a food processor?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Pablo Neruda - Tonight I Can Write

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

translated by W.S. Merwin

p.s. thank you, Kashmali


Today I didn't leave the house at all. I slept most of the day and some time near late afternoon I had a dream about him. In my dream we were in a car together and he said that he hadn't died and it was all an elaborate trick. Then he looked at me with deepest loathing and threatened me.

I woke up in horror.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

TTC, why do you hate me?

my bladder is conspiring against me with the TTC. If a street-car breaks down, that's when I really need to pee.

Five King to Broadview street-cars passed me by. I started to feel like I kind of need to pee. Also noticed a lot of cabs going past on Queen - obviously cabbies knew there was a breakdown. Even more ominous than lots of empty cabbies cruising for fares = abundance of occupied cabbies racing past. After half an hour's waiting I got on a Greenwood street-car. I said, 'where are all the other Queen cars that go further?' and the driver refused to take me me seriously. He insisted that A. I haven't been waiting 25 mins, and B. there is no breakdown.

To me this implied that he thinks A. I can't tell time by my watch or B. I can't see street-cars. This also told me that cabbies know things about TTC's status that TTC conductors obviously DON'T.

At the next stop I was vindicated by other freezing cold and unhappy customers, inquiring after Queen street-cars that go further than Greenwood. One of them said to us there's been a breakdown but that was more than half an hour ago. Buses were promised and have yet to materialize. Apparently many people knew about this breakdown, see? Just not the TTC people.

We got dropped off at Connaught. We agreed that the TTC is probably run by apes. We then agreed that this is an insult to ape intelligence.

A car arrived. The conductor was replaced at Connaught by another conductor. They spent a few moments exchanging this info: there's been a breakdown; this is not the street-car you were expecting; look for a street-car with the number xxx and I will give you your transfers.


It seems that the TTC exists in an alternate universe where technology has yet to move to a stage of information/communication proliferation.

Apparently TTC employees don't have telephones - mobile or otherwise. Perhaps they prefer pigeon post? Apparently it's ok to just take your time and let the news travel on a delayed schedule rather than to call someone at Connaught and say 'Look, there's been like, a major breakdown. Maybe you should get into a street-car, fire up the old girl, and be the hero of the day from Connaught to Long Branch.'

Or, dare I suggest something even more obvious? Ring up one of the drivers on the King to Broadview street-car on his mobile phone, and suggest: 'How's about going East on Queen on the spur of a moment eh? Live dangerously, and save our customers from freezing to death trying to get home. How's that for shaking up the old routine?'

But no, that would have been far too obvious.

And all this time waiting and stamping my feet and having my intelligence insulted by conductors - I really had to pee. Most uncomfortable.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

My two selves

After we spoke I spent two days holed up at home, alternating between crying my eyes out and being totally emotionally drained. The rest of the time I spent sleeping.

I had a dream. You came to visit me, and we were hanging out and being really happy and laughing a lot (bork). Then I had to leave the room for a second and I thought I could just come back and find you there. But when I tried to leave you started to cry and I realized that you had come to say goodbye - that when I came back you wouldn't be there anymore. Just when I decided not to go and started to put my arms around you, I woke up.

In my dream I also thought I could hear you breathing. When I woke up I realized that it was the sound of my own breath.

I feel a bit like two different people. My emotional self resolutely refuses to comprehend why we can't be together - why I am not where you are. My rational self continually tries to explain (as though to a slightly feeble-minded younger sibling) why this is better for both of us.

I'm not sure my emotional self is taking any of it in.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Obviously, for you (one last time)

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
no one can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone's heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

- e. e. cummings

Saturday, 9 January 2010



摘自 搜神記

In the middle of the Jingchu era in the Cao Wei Empire, strange events occurred in the home of the magistrate of Xianyang. Each night, inexplicable sounds of revelry could be heard; however, nothing can be observed despite lying in wait. The mother of the magistrate was up one night until she became tired, whereupon she rested her head on a pillow. After a while, there came a call from under the stove: ‘Why do you not come as arranged?’ The pillow beneath her head replied: ‘I am being used as a pillow, and I cannot come. You could come and drink with me here.’ In the morning, the rice-scoop was discovered to be the pillow’s interlocutor. They were gathered together and burned, after which these strange occurrences ceased.

excerpted from In Search of the Supernatural (4th Century Chinese Compilation)


A friend of mine felt that perhaps a pillow and a rice-scoop are symbolic. My inclination is to say that they are more akin to tsukumogami ('artifact spirits'). According to Wikipedia:

Though by and large tsukumogami are harmless and at most tend to play occasional pranks on unsuspecting victims, as shown in the Otogizōshi they do have the capacity for anger and will band together to take revenge on those who are wasteful or throw them away thoughtlessly. To prevent this, to this day some Jinja ceremonies, such as the Hari Kuyou, are performed to console broken and unusable items.

It is said that modern items cannot become tsukumogami; the reason for this is that tsukumogami are said to be repelled by electricity.[1] Additionally, few modern items are used for the 100-year-span that it takes for an artifact to gain a soul.

Another story in a different compilation of supernatural stories I came across features an old pillow (belonging to the ancestors of the protagonist) which has assumed human form. This human figure has no facial features (presumably because pillows are flat and featureless). This pillow got burned too - because someone said that it is evil and will be murderous (the idea is that the longer you leave these objects they older and more powerful they become?).

My general impression of tsukumogami is that they are rather ambivalent - they can be good or bad. So maybe burning them is the safer option.

The idea that objects have life and feelings and don't like to be wasted reminds me of this Spike Jonze IKEA advert.

The idea that the new one is much better is obviously quite consumerist. Are tsukumogamis everywhere crying for the little lamp?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

All kinds of crazy

Remember that time when I rang to say that I wasn't well and I wasn't coming? And you asked if I wanted you to come over and I said no, it's fine? Then I rang you later and got mad at you for not coming over to look after me? Then you came and I gave you a hard time?

I was visiting my granny last week, and she told me that she hurt herself in the garden the other day. She didn't tell my aunt and uncle because she doesn't like them (even though they're fine - in fact, they're like, really nice). Then she told her neighbour and he took her to the hospital and she got stitches and then she got back home. Then my aunt (who heard through the grapevine in a small village) rang up to ask if she was ok and she said yeah it's not a big deal don't worry about it. So they thought it wasn't a big deal. Then she said that nobody cares about her because no one in her family took her to the hospital and no one in her family came to visit. Even though A. she didn't tell anyone in her family - they found out through other people and B. she told them that it was fine and they shouldn't worry. Now she's telling everyone about this and saying that they don't care about her.

I heard this and was like Wow, that is so crazy. Then I thought OH MY GOD I'm totally crazy like her. Then I wanted to ring you up and apologise for putting you through all that and giving you a hard time, and thank you for putting up with me. If I remember correctly we had a very good day together the next day, and when I woke up next to you I was happy.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Friday, 1 January 2010

Hello & Goodbye

Dear 2009:

You were so good to me in so many ways. Thanks for that. As for the shite parts, well, they're not your problem now.

Dear 2010:

So far you've been a bit of a trial though maybe that can be chalked to PMS. But either way I won't judge you on your performance by one day alone. So, er, let's make it a good one, shall we?