The Ides of March, or Ideas short of A…

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I began writing this post about republicanism, Caesar, salads, betrayal, and the mentalité of empire, but I lost that post. Whoops. So let’s go back to what I wanted to do in the beginning. Every month on the 15-17th, I am going to make a post about different things: favourites, not so favourites, and all the things in between. (Apologies that this one is a little late).

This month I have been totally in love with the Body Shop. Bath, shower, cleanliness products are positive triggers. A happy and infectious smell can make your day have a little more bounce, just as we all wish our hair did. Except, I always end up putting my hair up in a bun or out of sight in a braid. Generally, throughout my life, my hair has been quite long. Except, every so often, once every year or so, I get a little distressed at how much work my hair requires, so I have chopped it quite short. I never fret about cutting it short because it grows quite quickly, and I do like being able to let it air dry without turning into an ice burg before it is somewhat dry. My hair is long, at the moment, but because I am tallish, I think it doesn’t seem quite so long as it is. Proportions, baby.

Ear jamz: --or, another of my favourites.

I rarely listen to my iPod anymore because my dog has choking fits, so I have to be able to hear her. On walks, I’ve started to just wear one headphone. I had forgotten how much music feeds my soul. It totally changed my day. I don’t really like watching television, but like most other people, if you put it in front of me, I’ll watch it. Yet, if I have music on, I’m far more likely to be productive and get a lot of things done. Music is motivational; that’s why there is such an ease to decorate our houses at Christmas time &c., when music is part of the cheer. Additionally, I think that decorating for Christmas, whether or not you celebrate it religiously or have the funds to have a fancy party, the lights and pretty colours remind us of springtime and freshness. Although, the air outside might be frightful…spring is so GD delightful.

I can feel my whole mood change as the season shifts. I love spring; summer is problematic because it gets a little too hot for my liking, and A/C is, at times, a little too unnatural. It’s nice to have a shower and sit on the porch as your hair dries on particularly summery days. I remember last summer, in London, I was trying to work on my dissertation at my uni’s library, but it was so hot that my arms kept sticking to all of the surfaces. To make it worse, I had bought coffee to put me in a working mood. You should know, when I overheat I lose my temper quite easily. So, I packed up all of my stuff, walked home, had a cold shower, closed the blinds, put on the fans, and read in the semi-darkness of my room. Heat is okay, but not when you’re trying to write on a machine that produces heat as much as it hates to overheat. Pooh! Pooh! Technology! Pooh! Pooh!

My little munchkin is sleeping so soundly right now. Doggies are so soulful. I hope that, in my life, I am always blessed to have funds, enough, to have a dog. Unfortunately, I know that it won’t always be the case because they really are quite a lot of work, but I give my heart and world to my little beast, and my heart and soul seem to float with ease. My favourite times of the days are when I feed her. She is hand fed because, honestly, she is very fluffy and has a very short snout, so it’s much cleaner just to feed her by hand. We make her food for her, too, so she eats a wet-food diet. In any case, whenever she is being fed, she always has this look that shines through her eyes of pure happiness and love. One cannot fail to be relaxed and at ease. I feel really blessed, and I want to share that with you, reader, because we absorb each other’s happiness and share it at exponential rates. Instead of snowballing into a negative feeling, it snowballs into a feeling akin to rolling in a field full of daisies that erupts into balloons that float infinitely into the sky (each landing in recycle receptacles and not polluting our world further). It’s a happiness that we get from making someone else happy. That happiness cannot be altered because, in those moments, our hearts and minds feel infinite and perfect. That is right.

I’ll leave it here for today. Look forward to monthly Ides posts. And by the middle of next week, I am going to start setting up some Oliver Twist themed posts. Due to job applications and other responsibilities, I’ve been a bit busy, but hopefully I’ll be able to share some successes with you all.

Heaps of Love,
Word Play Xx

Things I’ve Learnt Walking My Dog

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There are some things that we have to do. Feed ourselves. Have a wee. You get the idea. As walking, capable beings, these acts seem second-nature, if not first. Of course, food depends on income stability. It’s something that may easily be taken for granted. My dog makes me think about this often. I use ‘make’ consciously because I have control over my food and her food, and when I am eating–she always wants some. I am aware that she wants some. She gets some bananny when I make smoothies. She gets cheese when I make lunch, even though I cannot eat cheese. She is fed promptly at the same times. She is loved. And, most of all, she loves chicken. She believes all chicken belongs to her. If you’re eating it, it must be some cosmic mistake. She will forgive you, but really, don’t you know better by now?

But these observations are quick to note down in one’s log book. I think the times I am truly awoken from a sort of unconsciousness are when we walk. My dog is especially stubborn. She is a shihtzu, and she doesn’t shed. In the summers, it gets far too hot for her, so we have to carry her home most of the time. Because of this precedent, she has, for years, decided that her compass points in one direction. And, in that direction, we must walk as far as possible at whichever speed she most prefers. I must, therefore, carry her home. I don’t really mind. It only gets difficult when she wriggles in my arms so she can see in the direction we’re walking, rather than over my shoulder. So with this in mind, I’m sure you can imagine I’ve had a lot of time to think…

I’ve wondered about how other dog owners or trainers might view this behaviour. Your dog should obey you. Your dog should walk in the path you prescribe. But, it’s not that easy. She’s small. She has a heart problem. So, when she’s tired. I’ll carry her. She’s also especially nosey. She spies on what people do. She does her business for them, too. You should be flattered. I am not at my most flattering angles whilst cleaning up her mess, but one must. For instance, there is someone in my neighbourhood who never cleans up after their dog. I feel like that’s the most basic of contracts you make with your dog and society. You poop; therefore, I scoop. Additionally, I’m beginning to wonder if another of my neighbours has a small pony they walk. A small flowerbed could be fertilized. I know this borders on the side of a disturbing topic, but I don’t think we should be as taboo about this stuff. Maybe, then, my neighbours would pick up after their doggies. Also, before I begin my next thought, I do not want it to seem contradictory that I am saying poop should be less of a banned topic and also affirming that my neighbours should clean it. It’s basic hygiene guys. Do your do.

Alright. So, I might have mentioned it before, but there is this philosopher, Julia Kristeva, who describes abjection. Kristeva explains that the abject is neither the subject nor the object, but it is the thing that is able to disturb the boundaries between finite positions or cultural constructions. An easy example is a corpse. The corpse disgusts the living being because it reminds us of death. Indeed, our own death. We are confronted by death, and we cannot challenge it. Another example is, what I have been discussing above, poop. In order to live, we must eat, we must defecate; but we are disgusted with our waste. So, we push the corpse into the coffin and our poop out of our minds and toilets. Our cultural consciousnesses is burdened and disturbed by these signifiers of death and filth. The corpse was once a conscious being–a subject. The poop is the evidence of food incorporated into our beings–giving us life.

I used to be really embarrassed about picking up my dog’s poop. I used to think, what would my friend think if they saw me do this? Or, what would my lover do? Leave me forever? Well, I imagine that, now, I would say to anyone that crap begets and is evidence of life. When we are ashamed of the dog’s filth, aren’t we just ashamed of our own filth. My dog’s consciousness is a matter I cannot fully examine. But I know she feels love, anxiety, happiness, boredom, sadness, fear, and calm. And, above all, she likes to poop for others. On our walks, perhaps, poop is less of a goal for her, but she does go. That is not our reason for walking. I always sense a stab of adventure from her as she pulls me in one direction and refuses to walk in another. I laugh at her when she does silly things. I tease her when she farts (it happens rarely). I give her kisses when she has a heart-fit and needs to be reassured of herself. I hold her, despite her unwavering sense of independence. I make trenches in the snow, so she can walk and lead me north or south, east or west.

I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt walking my dog, it’s that, no matter the weather, no matter the time of day, when I pick her up, I always tell her, look how beautiful the sky is today. Her eyesight might not make those fine distinctions, she may just see darkness or impenetrable light, but she is secure in my arms and, through me, our connection to the universe is infinite.

***

unnamed-6My week thus far

We’re going for a walk now. Talk soon.

Heaps of love,
Word Play & Misha Xx

A Not-So Valentine’s Day Post

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I’ve been trying to think, all week, about an appropriate Valentine’s Day Post. I’ve been largely unsuccessful. I wanted to write about the love in the book I’m reading. For goodness’s sake, the ‘girl’ is called Valentine! But I love the book too much to have it fit in with a themed post. I want to unravel this book more intimately, if you will. Perhaps, I am delegitimizing the opportunity for love and true caring that is meant to surround Valentine’s Day, but this book is pretty rad. I am looking forward to ruminating on the text even further. I’ve read the first book of four, Some Do Not…(by Ford Madox Ford), and I feel so in love with the text and its meaning. Valentine struggles against being a (first-wave) feminist and the realities of the Edwardian society in which she lives. For all her innocence, society has painted her as a mistress, unkept by her lover. And whilst I think we should always be wary about making anyone sexually-innocent or not, I think those societal pressures are there, so it is valid that she struggles with it. Additionally, she is quite thoughtful about the whole situation. The man she loves, and who does love her, is married and heading off to war. He may not return. Some Do Not…

I hadn’t meant to talk about the book, and look what I did! It just happens. I think when a book is that momentous, you just want to share it with everyone. I find that I am always slightly ashamed over books that have a theme of love. This text isn’t quite just that. It’s far more complicated. My GoodReads review reads as follows:

I want to rant and rave. I want everyone to know of its genius. The way the novel envelops you; reminds you of your own love. The novel cleverly creates an empathetic reader, and we want the rose-red days of love to live on forever. Tietjens is a man of great intellect, and his knowledge translates into a great criticism of Edwardian England. Richly engaged and tied to every corner of the world, England seems isolated, but this text reminds the reader the far-reaches of England’s Empire and the biting nature of a gossip-ready bureaucratic class.

Read this novel and fall in love. Fall in love and recall it’s intricacies.

From my review, it should be clear that the novel contains a lot more than just romance. And, I am going to take a little moment to censure my last sentence and my shame. I do not think that we should judge a reader, writer, or novel based on the inclusion of love and romance. Love always surrounds us. Just like Christmas:

So why do I, and others, think that books which contain romance, love, or social affairs are somehow bad or less worthy of our time? Isn’t it these kinds of books that teach us how to empathise and connect with others? Aren’t there so many internet posts about social awkwardness? I am not saying reading romance novels is going to solve these issues; I wouldn’t characterise Ford Madox Ford’s novel as a romance novel. I just think that we/I should stop shaming ourselves for liking the emotional gratification that comes with these reads.

I guess I am just trying to say that, whatever your jazz is, just enjoy it. It wouldn’t be right for me to judge someone who reads a book that I find flakey or lightweight. I’ve read YA, and I think that, whilst they don’t always contain the best of grammar or plot-lines, they do contain something current and instantly meaningful to the reader. It’s like this…you may know something really well, but sometimes someone rephrases or frames an idea in a way you never considered, and that moment of recognition is the same space in which your brain grew a little wiser. To end with an example, Ford’s novel reframed WWI in a way I hadn’t before considered. The protagonist is extremely clever and really only likeable to few people, but his cleverness presents a new way for me to think about things. His politics, though not always overt, offer me an opportunity to see the difficulties of Toryism, Whiggism, and early feminism in England.

Just read something that makes your heart swoon this Valentine’s Day. If you’ve done that. If you’ve found the book that makes your heart race, your blood rush through your veins, and your brain quiver with beautiful words…you’ve lived and you’ve loved.

Heaps of love,

Xx

P.S I think I might read Barbara Pym’s Some Tame Gazelle now…

Current Fling; Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End Tetralogy

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I have decided to give this book a go, again. I first tried to read this when I was doing my M.A in London, but for some reason or another I couldn’t get into it. For example, there were times when I felt that the first few pages were just too rigidly male. That kind of pre-WWI, British, aristocratic maleness drenched in the cologne often referred to as eau de privilege. I’ve decided to retry reading this and putting my own skepticisms aside. I have been promised many good things by the reviews out there, so I remain hopeful. I read a little bit yesterday, but didn’t get too much into the novel because I was out at 90th birthday party. <<aspirations>>

In addition to this text, I’m also going to revisit Dr Margaret MacMillan’s history text, The War That Ended Peace. Dr MacMillan’s text is really readable, so do consider picking up this historical study of the lead-up to war and the consequences of the First World War. Particularly, in an age where we have been engaged in war without acknowledging it or its consequences, I think it is important to revisit and remind myself et al., of its impact. Indeed, perhaps it may seem problematic to re-schematise this age of war within a European/Western context, but a lot of the issues that have arisen in the Middle East are direct consequences of Europe’s post-war territory making and settlement of nations which did not even consult the peoples living in those territories.

I look forward to getting into this book. Additionally, the most-lovely Benedict Cabbagepatch has starred in the BBC dramatisation of this tetralogy of novels, so I may look into those once I have finished reading.

One last fancy. Why hasn’t he starred as Dorian Gray in OW’s The Picture of Dorian Gray? Hum, but let’s not do to the novel what they did with the most recent film. I refuse to link it here. I saw five minutes of it yesterday, and I found myself defending the novel, most adamantly. Ugh. Please, let’s all just take a moment to RESPECT Oscar Wilde’s genius and not just use his book as an excuse for lascivious screen shots. The book contains so many beautiful instances of pure artistic craft. It respects the various artworks and styles it encounters, and the reader is enraptured by Dorian’s collections and decadences. [aside: The reader sees Dorian take opium to forget. But this scene isn’t romanticised. A character (left ambiguous here) is having a terrible hallucination that makes the reader question—what terrible reality makes those hallucinations better? There is more to be said about this, but I’ll leave it here.] Wilde was put on trial and largely criticized for the novel, a piece of artistic genius, which does not contain explicit reference to sexual content (that’s for your own imagination). And, I think that’s the genius of Wilde’s novel. He’s telling the reader…’It’s not here, but you’re thinking it. Just try to stop thinking about it. GOTCHA’ Love this man. I’ll leave it here:

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.
Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

– Wilde, Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Heaps of Love,

Xx

Knits and Books

IMG_4852 I am currently working on a knitting project. It will be a hat, when all is said and done. The border will be knit in one direction and then I’ll knit the top in the other. 🙂 It is my intention to work quite slowly on this project because it’s one of those things. Normally, I knit quite quickly and I stay up even later to finish projects, but this time I am knitting patiently and I do believe it will be quite pretty. I’m using quite fine wool, it is alpaca and deliciously soft. I have 8cm / 3 inches complete, and I know I’ll probably have to knit to at least 21 or 22 inches before I begin the top of the hat.  Now, onto books. I’ve been trying to find a unique way to keep myself on track, and I think I’ll just set up my own bookclub of one. Currently, I’m reading The Iliad by Homer and The Pickwick Papers by Dickens.  IMG_4853 Both texts are quite unique, and the pairing is like trying a new dish. I am going to try and work my way through quite a few novels and texts this year. I will read The Odyssey in the near future, but I will break up my time between Iliad and Odysseus’s journey home.  In order to make sure I’m not overwhelming my to-be-read list, I will probably set myself a currently reading and the next book I want to read, rather than sit down and make a plan of attack. I will choose books on a more short-term basis because I think books have stronger magic upon us at certain times, and we should respect that magic. Additionally, my pace might seem a little slow because I also like to do background reading on some of the more historic works, such as Homer’s texts. I can write an entry on some of the history and critical theory on The Iliad if you would like. Let me know in the comments.  I’ll make a more effective and creative post about this bookclub of one. Feel free to read along with me, and let me know what you’re reading too or even if you want to read the same book too. I scoured Goodreads for ages to find a book club that hadn’t yet read the books I wanted to tackle, but I’m so fickle that nothing seemed to fit. I haven’t yet decided what I will read after these two texts, and part of that is because I am waiting for some books to come in the post.  What books are you guys reading, and what tips do you have to stay on track? Keep well and lots of love, X

Readtrack to the Iliad — Sivu’s Better Man Than He

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Achilles is sulking. War is raging. Helen is looming. Well, actually, she is working at a loom before she is called before Priam, who tells her that Paris and Menelaus will fight for her in front of and between the Achaean and Trojan armies. Still, Achilles sulks. Dishonoured, he sulks. But a sulk full of rage and sanctioned by Zeus–a divinely manly sulk, if you will. I think one of my favourite descriptive phrases is when Priam recounts Odysseus’s speech. Odysseus seems awkward, bulky, stupid, and taciturn, but when he speaks, Priam says, “[Odysseus’s] words began falling fast like snowflakes in winter, / then no other man on earth could compete with Odysseus.” (3.208-209). How lovely an image. I can just see massive snowflakes that should be graceless caress the wind as they fall, full of wonder, to the earth. Coating the world in splendour and sparkle. Delicious. It calls to mind hearths and warm drinks. It calls to mind standing in a snow fall and somehow becoming one with the falling sky and the receiving earth. Hugged between it all.

There is a fantastic song that I am currently entirely in love with. I am going to share it here, because it is so filling, like Priam’s description of Odysseus. Like snow falling, no one could compete.

Enjoy with this:

And as a fire burns through a boundless forest
on the mountain crests, and from far off the flare can be seen:
Just so did the gleam from the polished bronze of their armor
flash through the whole sky, up to the very heavens.
And as the great flocks on the Asian wetlands—wild geese
or cranes or long-throated swans–by the streams of Cäyster 
wheel this way and that way, glorying in their wings,
and with loud cries keep settling, and the whole marshland resounds:
just so did the troops pour forth from the ships and huts
beneath the feet of the men and the hooves of the horses,
and they stood there massed in Scamander’s flowery meadow
as measureless as the leaves and flowers in their season.
And just as great hordes of flies keep swarming around
a sheepfold in springs, when milk overflows the buckets:
in such vast numbers the Argives stood massed on the plain
against the Trojans, eager to tear them to pieces.
The Iliad (2.438-454)

Happy Birthday to my Best Friend.

Today, I looked at my calendar, and I was like:

GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS?!

EVERYONE WAS LIKE:

But I was like: 

And you were like…and then I responded:

But I just want to say. Happiest birthday to my most loved person in my heart. I mean, obvies, you and misha have to battle it out in my heart, but … hehe, that’s what keeps me warm in this cold weather. You are an amazing soul; I am so blessed to know you and to love you. Thank you for always being such a spark of happiness in my life. You are worth all the gold in the galactic space-time conundrum that perplexes physicists as they drink tea and then hit the soda with gin. tongue emoticon

Love you always.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Xx

And I mean forever loves;

Pensives from a Smart Doggy

Pensives from a Smart Doggy

“No Kacheeny, you are mistaken. Achilles’s sense of honour and duty is juxtaposed with Paris’s. Paris seduces Helen and causes the Trojan war. In the midst of war, Achilles’s temper results in Agamemnon dishonouring him by taking Briseis. Here we see that Helen is the ‘object’ of a war, and Briseis a captured ‘object’ of war and a refusal to fight by the greatest warrior. Does that clear up your misapprehension?”