Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Space

A day late, because of photo-upload issues.

This post is inspired by Just Jen and her series on The Enchanted 15. This week's installment is on space and enchanted objects.

This is my space:

The only thing I did before taking this picture was turn the picture frame (see it? slightly right of the midpoint?) backwards. That picture frame is one of my enchanted objects. It houses a picture of the majority of my household sisters on a retreat we had last fall.

The tape measure in the upper left corner is not an enchanted object. It is just there. The whiteboard calendar is also not an enchanted object. I bought it before leaving for college and used it once. I have since begun a passionate love affair with post-it notes. I should get rid of the whiteboard. (And buy some more post-it notes. I go through them like crazy.)

(Random bit of trivia: the text on my computer screen is this article, link provided by our lovely hostess, Jen.)

Now I shall give you a glimpse of some of my enchanted objects.


Three things all in a stack here: A Reader's Digest from February of 2007, a Magnificat from April of 2008, and a crayon drawing by a particular two-year-old of whom I am rather fond. The reason I keep the drawing is fairly self-explanatory (well, I could tell you lots of stories about my little friend but that would take too long and anyway she's not blog fodder.) The Reader's Digest I keep because February 2007 is the month I met the Cobbler. The Magnificat I keep because April 2008 is the month he and I started dating.



In this picture are two enchanted objects. On the left is a decade rosary, one of two that I made (on the retreat during which the above-mentioned picture was taken, actually). The other I gave to Mari. On the right is a locket that was given to me as a high school graduation present by my two best friends. (Who at the time were my only friends--I'm one of those people who prefers quality over quantity. Or maybe I just tell myself that to cover for the fact that I was unpopular. :))

Here you see a stack of envelopes. These envelopes contain letters, hand-written by the Cobbler and mailed to me. There are twenty-three of them. (One of which is still un-replied-to. After I finish this post I must apply pen to paper.) Normally I have them flipped the other way, but if I did that in this photo you'd get a lovely view of our full names and home addresses.



This is my chair. It is an incredibly ugly mustard-yellow-and-tan metal monstrosity that I got at Goodwill for a couple of dollars last summer. I love it. It is a good chair.


This is the Blue Bunny. He is not an enchanted object; he is just a stuffed rabbit. But you can see his feet in the picture of the chair so I thought, "Hey, who wouldn't want to see a picture of a giant blue stuffed bunny?"











This is one of our cats. She is also not an enchanted object; she is just a cat. But she likes to "help" me write, and who doesn't want to see a picture of a cute kitty?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday night random

Have I ever mentioned, dear blog readers, that I am a mutant freak of nature?

No?

Well, I am. See, neither of my parents are able to roll their tongues (nor can my sister), but I can. Both my high school biology textbook and my college physical anthropology professor claim that this is genetically impossible. (Dominant gene, yadda yadda yadda.)

If I hadn't gone to public school, I might never have realized I could. First of all, I grew up in a family full of non-tongue-rollers, so nobody ever tried to show me. Second, most adults just don't go around with their tongues rolled into little tubes. Then one day in second or third grade I was riding along in the bus minding my own business when one of the other kids asks, "Hey, can you roll your tongue?" I asked him what this strange phrase meant. He demonstrated. I tried it, and discovered that I could.

I haven't thought of my mutant status in more than a year--since that physical anthropology class--mainly due to the aforementioned tendency of adults not to go around asking about other people's tongue-rolling abilities. But for whatever reason this evening I thought it would be fun to show the Princess a new trick and so proceeded to do so. She laughed gleefully and stuck her tongue out in response. She couldn't figure out how to roll it (I love how her first reaction was "Megan, help!") but that might just be because she's two. If she still can't do it in a few years I'll just keep on being a solitary mutant. (Until I have kids. >:) )

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Enchanted 15: Time

Friend Jen has spent the last several weeks doing a series on the Enchanted 15 minutes. Being a slow sort of person, I've only just now resolved that come what may I am going to start being enchanted. So, today I present to you my timer.





I was going to follow Jen's advice and buy a special writing timer, but it's that sort of thinking that got me 4 weeks behind on this whole Enchanted 15 thing. Right now I am working on things being Good Enough because if I wait until they are perfect nothing will ever get done. (Also, I'm kind of short on discretionary funds at the moment.)

This phone has been my companion for a very long time. It has gotten dropped on concrete, repeatedly. It has gotten run through the washing machine at least once. It's gotten taken on water rides at theme parks without even a plastic baggie to keep it safe. It's only needed its battery replaced once and that was due to a defect in the battery, apparently, not to the abuse mentioned above. It's a good little phone, and it is in some ways itself an enchanted object (more on those sorts of things next week).

I've got the alarm tone programmed for something other than the tone the phone makes when it rings, and when I'm ready to write it will be ready to be set for 15 minutes and then sing merrily at me when they are over.

History repeating

I just dragged the Little Princess up to her room to keep her from tearing the house apart. As soon as we arrived she penitently murmured, "Watch Goos Coos?" [Blue's Clues] To which my unmerciful reply was, "Sorry, you lost your chance."

It's funny how when you need something to say you fall back on the exact same things your mother used to say to you.

I told Mom that and she said, "Just wait, one day you're going to say to your kids, 'I hope you have a kid just like you.' "

Me: "Did you ever say that to me?"

Mom: "No, you were good."

Me: "You should have! Then I'd have at least one kid who sat down quietly and entertained herself!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We're not going to tell her this is a chore

The Little Princess likes to help vacuum. Normally this help consists of sitting on the cannister and riding around. Today, though, she is actually grabbing the handle and scurrying around the downstairs with it, happily proclaiming "I get dirt!" (Yes, the vacuum is actually on.)

Mom tried to take it away from her at one point, causing her to indignantly yell "MY TURN!!"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Responding to Alterity

Recently my blog-friend Kyle posted a fragment on alterity and my thoughts in response to his post ended up being too long for a combox. So, I post them here.

Kyle speaks of looking into a familiar face and suddenly realizing that he could never exhaust the full meaning of that person. Our ideas about a person can be basically true, but not exhaustive, not the final word on who that person is.

I've had a somewhat similar experience on a number of occasions; mostly when talking to or about people much older than myself. If you ever want to experience alterity, go up to one of your parents or a beloved teacher or some other person of that sort and ask them to tell you about their childhood. Better yet, ask them what they wanted to do with their lives when they were your age. (This works best if you are about 17 or 18 years old.) To cite an example: I've known my mother now for 19 1/2 years. (20 1/4, if you count the time I spent inside her). I'd say I know her pretty well after all that. Yet...she is not just my mom. And I will probably never comprehend fully how she became who she is today, even though I've been around for almost half her life.

I wonder if my children will ever have that same experience with me. They could ask a question as innocent as "What was it like when you were dating Daddy?" and I'd have to tell them a story that I can't possibly express for you, dear readers, right now as I type this. Perhaps I will never be able to express it. These past few years have been a journey in alterity if there ever was one.

Which brings me to another thought that came to me as I was reading Kyle's post: The Cobbler is an Other. You'd think I'd have known that already. I've known him for only 2 1/2 of his almost 20 years, and called him my friend for only about 18 months. (And my boyfriend for 14--we progressed beyond friendship pretty quickly.) Yet for all that I think I could say (and he might even agree with me) that I probably know him better than anybody else, even better than his parents or older brothers who have known him for the entire time he's existed on this earth.

Still, he remains Other. I remember on one occasion, within a month of when we started dating, the two of us were making a holy hour together and as we sat and prayed I was suddenly struck with the realization that in that moment he was alone with God, even though I was no more than a foot to his right.

It's something I need to be reminded of sometimes, that the Cobbler is not merely an accesory to God's plan for me, nor am I an accessory to God's plan for him. God has an individual plan for each of us; we lived those plans separately for about 18 years and will live them together for as long as God grants us to do so, but ultimately there will be no chance to do what Adam and Eve did; stand pointing fingers under the force of God's judgement. In the end, he is going to be even more alone with God than he is in Adoration, and he will be saved or damned based on who he is within himself (though certainly I could bear responsibility for either helping or hindering his growth in virtue).

And ultimately I will be alone too, with the one who is altogether Other.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Who's in charge around here?

"Come here, Megan. Come here."

The Princess beckons, her index finger curling in and out.

"Yes, Princess?"

She looks at me soberly. "You cut it out, Megan."

"Yes, Princess," I reply humbly. "I will be on my best behavior for the rest of the day."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And then I felt bad

Sometimes I tease Scott about being a sheltered homeschooler.

Yeah, I know. I was homeschooled myself. For eight years, anyway. Still, you'd be surprised what you can pick up between kindergarten and third grade. Whatever the reason, there have been several times in the last couple of years when I've casually mentioned something that shocked and appalled Scott because he had never heard of it before.

Today's violation of Scott's innocence: Earrings on babies. I copy-pasted into our Skype conversation a funny, sarcastic comment I read on a blog, which said that unless you have a seriously ugly baby this woman didn't see why you needed earrings to make the baby "cuter."

The conversation proceeded thus:

[8:16:59 PM] Vagus Adversor: Some people pierce their babies' ears?!
[8:17:06 PM] Vagus Adversor: That's cruel and unusual.

[8:17:06 PM] Megan: Yes.
[8:17:11 PM] Megan: You don't get out much, do you?

[8:17:19 PM] Vagus Adversor: Ok, it's cruel then.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New word of the day

"Wuv." As in "I wuv you, Megan."

Need I say more?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Reading

I finished Fahrenheit 451 today. Yes, I know it wasn't on the list. I started it during finals week as a way of taking mental breaks from studying and then the poor thing languished while my brain recharged. I read for a spurt yesterday and then a few more spurts today. We'll call that my warm-up book.

I also started rereading G. K. Chesterton's Heretics (not on the list, I know, I know...) and am about halfway through. Hopefully I'll have a chance to resume it soon. Then I must find where Brideshead Revisited went after being brought home from the library.

Sisterly Siesta


A gratuitous kitty picture, because it's been a while since I blogged Big Kitty and I don't think you lovely blog readers have ever even seen Small Kitty. (We don't see her much either; she's shy.)


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Silence

by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities -
We cannot speak.

A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
"How did you lose your leg?"
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg,
It comes back jocosely
And he says, "A bear bit it off."
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
Which he could not describe.

There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered
Into a realm of higher life.
There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.

There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed;
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
After Waterloo.
And the silence of Jeanne d'Arc
Saying amid the flames, "Blessed Jesus" -
Revealing in two words all sorrows, all hope.
And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life.

And there is the silence of the dead.
If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?
Their silence shall be interpreted
As we approach them.

Courtship and the water well

I am a longtime follower of Jen at Conversion Diary (The Blog Formerly Known As Et Tu?) and I've been mentally batting around this post since she first posted it.

Today it went click with another idea that's been bopping around in my very cluttered mind.

There have been several times during my courtship with the Cobbler that I've wished we lived a couple hundred years ago, when people hardly ever married outside their little, local community. I am very thankful, of course, that we live in the same state at least, and I can drive to see him; but at the same time I. Hate. Highway. Driving. I'd much rather hop on my horse--hey, while we're dreaming I can have a horse--and trot over to his place, which in this scenario is just down the road a piece.

Not having that luxury doesn't just mean that I don't get to see the Cobbler that often. It means that we have to go to far greater lengths to have what we feel is a proper courtship--one that involves our families. There's simply not enough time during our too-infrequent visits for me to sit around chatting about scrapbooking with his mom, or for him to talk shop (i.e., computer-geek-babble) to my dad. Any proper conversation would have to be as carefully orchestrated as a visit, and goodness knows those are hard enough to orchestrate already.

Enter the water well that is the internet. His parents can't ask the local gossip what sort of girl I am, but they can get an idea of my character from reading my blogs. (Of course, this depends on me being honest in my writing, but one takes that risk in person, too, doesn't one? People aren't always who they say they are.) I can't sit down and listen to his mother talk about her theories education or childrearing, but I can read her blog (which I won't link to here, because of anonymity concerns). We can chat via IM and friend each other on Facebook and do any number of other things. All these things aren't the perfect substitute for the interaction I'd get with the Cobbler's family if we lived in the same village, but it's the best the twenty-first century has to offer (and that best, ultimately, is pretty good).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Archetypes

The first book I ever read by G. K. Chesterton was The Ballad of the White Horse. (If you have not read it, go read it now. I mean it.) If someone was getting into Chesterton for the first time and asked for something to read, I would tell them to read the Ballad. (Do not try to read Orthodoxy first, or even second or third. You will lose your will to live.)

This recommendation comes first from the fact that it is fairly short (my edition is 170 pages of verse, so there is lots of white space on those 170 pages) and easy to read--poetry just goes faster than prose, at least for me. There are no dense passages and super-long sentences to get bogged down in.

Also because it gives you a very clear idea of how Chesterton goes about writing his fiction. As he says in the Prefatory Note:


I have summarised this first crusade in a triple symbol, and given to a fictious Roman, Celt, and Saxon, a part in the glory of Ethandune. I fancy that in fact Alfred's Wessex was of very mixed bloods.


Chesterton goes on to give his reason, but this post is not concerned with that so much as with his method. He is not overly concerned with making his characters "realistic." Rather, each character is a representative of something bigger--in this case, the contributions which the various races made to Christian Britain at the time of King Alfred. Yet at the same time he allows them room to have faces and names and personalities.

Since reading the Ballad, I've read (among a few other things) The Napoleon of Notting Hill, Manalive, and The Ball and the Cross. I think having read the Ballad first was good for me because I expected the characters in his other fiction works to be like the characters in the Ballad, and I was not disappointed. Michael Moon is like a 20th-century version of Colan, and so greatly delighted me.

But I think Michael Moon and his compatriots puzzle some people for the precise reason that Michael is a 20th-century version of Colan. He is not meant to be the kind of person you would necessarily meet on the street in England. He is meant to be an archetype of something else. Since it would be a bit of guesswork to assign archetypes to the characters in Manalive, I'll switch gears a bit: Evan McIan is also like a 20th-century version of Colan, and he very clearly represents Faith, battling with Reason (Turnbull). The eventual outcome of the struggle between Faith and Reason I will not reveal; read the book. (I read it over the course of 2 days; it's not hard to get through.)

If it seems at times that the characters are mouthpieces for Chesterton's philosophy, it's because they are. Chesterton is completely and utterly unconcerned with the fact that he has characters who have been established as uneducated giving long philosophical speeches. So, why write fiction at all if you're more concerned about your philosophy than your characters?

Well, because you have people like me, who despite my undying love for Chesterton, cannot get through books like Orthodoxy. I read, I laugh, I walk away in utter incomprehension. When it comes to Chesterton's fiction, though, I read, I laugh, I walk away with symbols and concepts slowly working their way into meaningful positions in my brain.

And, quite honestly, they're just plain fun stories. Maybe they are a little bit like fairy-tales with their clear-cut characters, but who doesn't secretly (or openly, if you're like me) enjoy a good fairy-tale now and again?

Updated (pre-publication) to add: Recently I started rereading Heretics and am happy to report that I actually get it; much better than I did when I was 16 and reading it for the first time. I've absorbed enough of Chesterton's thought, I think, that I can get my mind into the shape of his ideas now. I still haven't retried Orthodoxy, though.

There's some impressive wildlife in these parts

The scene: Princess and I are playing on her top bunk. (Yes, she is 2 1/2 and regularly plays on the top bunk. She's a little monkey.) She sits up abruptly.

LP: "Sound!"

Me: "That's the music."

LP: "Sound!"

Me: "Oh, you heard something besides the music? What was it?"

LP: "Elsecant."

Me: "What?"

LP: "Elsecant."

Me: "Ohh, an elephant!"

LP: "Elsecant outside!"

Me: "Really? There's an elephant outside?"

LP: "Pet elsecant?"

Me: "If it's outside I don't think we can pet it."

[a few minutes later:]

LP: "Girasse."

Me: "A dress?"

LP: "Girasse!"

Me: "Oh, a giraffe!"

LP: "Baby girasse."

Me: "A baby giraffe!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Great Purge: Rounds 2 and 3

Today's assignment: Skirts and jumpers

Started with: 21 skirts, 4 jumpers

5 skirts in went in trash--one each of black and navy knit, and my three favorite denim skirts. :'( Of course, the fact that they're my favorites no doubt contributed to them wearing out.

11 skirts went back in closet--3 denim, 1 light blue knit, 2 navy knit, 2 black knit, 2 velvety black, 1 silky floral (the last three being for formal occasions only).

5 skirts went in goodwill pile: 1 denim, 1 light blue knit, 1 velvety black, 2 silky floral.

Round 2: Megan, 1; Clutter, o.

All 4 jumpers went back in the closet: 1 plain denim, 2 embroidered denim, 1 dusky-blue courdoroy. At the beginning of the day I was all set to get rid of them all (I haven't worn a jumper in at least a year) but when one is homeschooled for 8 years one gets rather fond of denim jumpers so I found myself unable to part with them. They all still fit! And three of them are so pretty! (The plain denim one loses something on the prettiness factor but gains on the "But it goes with everything!" factor.) It's really sad now that my cream-colored shirt got torn and had to be thrown away yesterday; it's one of the few things that went with the latter three jumpers. I am trying to resist the urge to buy a new cream shirt.

Round 3: Clutter, 1; Megan, 0.

Total Score to Date: Megan, 2; Clutter, 1.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Great Purge: Intro and Round One

There are two kinds of people in the world: the declutterers and the packrats. I'm a lifelong, diehard packrat. (My mother is a declutterer. It makes life interesting.)

But even I have my limits. Last night, as I was sitting on the floor with my computer on my lap, unable to stretch out my legs properly because the available floorspace isn't that big, and unable to move to the more comfortable position of my desk because it's too covered in junk, I decided that Something Must Be Done. Therefore I introduce to you this year's summer project: The Great Purge. Goal: Getting Rid of Stuff.

Today's assignment was long-sleeved shirts. If you're one of those people who happens to know that I cycle through the same half-dozen shirts, you might be surprised to learn that I had thirty of them. (Yes, thirty. WAY TOO MUCH STUFF, I'm telling you.) I threw away three of them that were in a state of unwearable disrepair and sent eleven to the Goodwill pile. My mom intercepted two of those (What does that say about my fashion sense? I'm not sure if I should be flattered or not.) so only nine actually made it to said pile, but nonetheless fourteen shirts are no longer in my closet.

Round One Score: Megan, 1; Clutter, 0.