Dad called me while I was at work yesterday. He didn’t leave a message, which is unusual for him. I called him back after I got off work. Apparently he had been talking to a coworker whose daughter graduated from Potomac Falls in 2006. He couldn’t remember when I graduated, so he had called to ask. I told him that I graduated in 2005.
“I could have done the math on that,” he said.
“That was ten years ago,” I said.
It’s been ten years since I graduated high school.
“Your ten-year high school reunion must be coming up soon,” said Dad.
“Yeah, I got invited on facebook, but it looked like it was being run by one group of friends that I didn’t really talk with, so it didn’t seem like it was worth the effort,” I said.
Ten years, man. I went to my old livejournal to see what I had been thinking about ten years ago.
November 15, 2005
Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K
I just posted Shakespeare in 15 minutes on my blog if you want to look at it. It’s inspired by Cleolinda (movies in 15 minutes). You can see the connection.
IT’S SNOWING IN IOWA AND YOU’RE PROBABLY ALL STILL SWEATING! NEEHAHHAHHAHAHA!
Listening to music, putting off homework, thinking about getting dinner. Life is beautiful.
Current Mood: creative
Current Music:Reliant K’s “Two Left’s Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do”
I hovered over the “blog” link. It’s a link to my myspace profile. Look at that thing. I’m writing towards an audience that lives in Virginia. I was apparently happy at Loras for a bit. My goodness.
Today’s ten-year-ago-today livejournal entries were more interesting.
November 16, 2005
Preparing to do my Math homework, and I was looking for music to listen to whilst being a responsible student (I can’t think without music). I decided to listen to the Flaming Lips…but I couldn’t find it. I looked in my CD book, in my pile of CDs, in my bag, no Flaming Lips. Finally, I got a stroke of inspiration, and looked in the CD book of the Flaming Lips. Lo and behold, there it was. And some people call me smart, too.
Current Mood: good
Current Music:Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
Sitting there on a group project, listening to the two other kids in my group, and all the sudden I find myself thinking, “Why am I surrounded by these incompetent fools?” And then there was lightning and thunder and I was cackling maniacally and my eyes were glowing and I had power in my fingertips and I destroyed the school and got my creative writing degree and then hid in the shadows and plotted to destroy all the heroes in the world with my superior mind and powers alone.
So, yeah, I was really, really bored.
Current Mood: crazy
Current Music:Weezer’s Make Believe
I DON’T KNOW! Why didn’t I write this paper earlier, when I had like energy and time and the ability to workshop it? It has to be perfect in twelve hours and 49 minutes and it’s absolute crap! AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!
Current Mood: drained
Current Music:Barenaked Ladies’ “Stunt”
Oh, that one had a comment, from the lovely Laura Kay!
yay for last-minute paper-writing
i tend to do my best work in the last 8 hours or so
procrastination is the key
you can do it
Here’s what I’ve learned from this:
-I was the most boring, typical 18-year-old that ever existed.
-No wonder I hate(d) myself
-Will I hate 28-year-old me when I am 38?
-Am I the most boring, typical 28-year-old now?
-I wrote with my Virginia friends in mind when my Iowa friends were the ones reading and responding to my entries. I hadn’t realized that my life had moved on. Is it the same way now?
I took a break from addressing envelopes for the wedding in order to write this. Cornelius is napping next to me. Today I slept in until noon. I wasn’t tired. I was very comfortable. I couldn’t get up. Maybe because I was comfortable. Maybe because my mind is broken. I spent most of today feeling anxious for no reason.
I was an 18-year-old who ran halfway across the country because she knew she wasn’t happy, but couldn’t admit that it was what was inside that was making her unhappy. I’ve run an entire state away from everything I ever knew to make another chance. Because I had found happiness at home, but not satisfaction. I need to find happiness somewhere else. With a man that loves me somehow. With a cat that won’t.
I helped a woman with some blinds today. I helped her pick them out, and then cut them down to size. She kept commenting on how nice I was and how helpful I was being. I would simply say thank you.
As I was cutting the blinds, she told me about how she was just in town to help her sister move. Her sister had moved into a new house and was too busy to do the unpacking and settling in herself. So she had come from California to do it for her. I commented that that was very nice of her.
“Do you know Miami Boulevard?” the woman asked. “Do you ever drive down there?”
I said that I do. I actually haven’t driven down Miami Boulevard in several months, not since we moved to the townhouse, but I have driven down that road. That seemed like an unnecessary detail, so I just said that I drive down Miami Boulevard.
“You know the psychic on that road, right?”
I actually have never noticed a psychic on Miami Boulevard, but I said that I had.
“That’s my sister,” the woman said, proudly. “You’re so nice. She can help you with your issue. You know the one. I can get you a special rate, since you’re so nice and helpful. Would you like to meet her?”
I actually ran through a list in my head of all the issues I deal with — my depression, my career, my social isolation, my schedule, my marriage, writer’s block — before I realized that she was playing me. She was networking for her sister. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to go to a psychic. The fact that we have therapists indicate how helpful it is to have a third party to talk with. But psychics are an unregulated industry, use chicanery to do their work, and have been known to abuse their positions. I’m sure most psychics are very nice. I’ve been to a psychic once, at the Renaissance Festival, for the novelty of it. She was very nice and did not take advantage of me at all. But it was clearly just a cold reading facilitated by some props. So no. I was not interested in visiting her sister.
“Sure,” I said.
Saying no seemed to be rude. Anyway, I could take the number and then just never call her.
After she left, I went to go see if there were any returns in the returns bin. I spotted Don, one of the paint guys, standing by himself. I walked up to him.
“Do you believe in psychics?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
I looked at him in surprise.
He told me that when he had been stationed in Hawaii, he had visited a psychic. He had been surprised at how much she knew and how much she figured out. “She knew I was a pilot,” he said.
I could imagine that hadn’t been hard to guess.
“She said I would go to school on the East Coast, which — I didn’t know any schools on the East Coast! She said I would go to Florida. I said that I had family in Florida so of course I would go to Florida. She said I wouldn’t go because of family. And she said that I would have one child, which, for reasons, I didn’t think would happen. I visited her twice. I went a third time, but her house had burned down and she was taking care of that. When I was stationed in Alabama, we had to go to Florida after a hurricane and help clean up. I was there for forty days. Afterwards I tried to apply to be an instructional pilot. I was turned down for that, but they offered to train me to be a maintenance test pilot — on the East Coast! And then afterwards my wife said that she was pregnant! Are you going to be able to cover my lunch?”
That seemed like an awful lot to try to disprove. So I simply accepted it. Andrew, another paint guy, approached. I asked if he believed in psychics. He said no. I explained to them both about what happened with the woman in blinds. Then I went and took care of returns (we had lots of returns).
Speaking of writer’s block, I have it. There’s two projects that I’m working on right now. One is the fairy tale story. The problem is that right now I’m working on a very plot-point heavy section. The protagonist/future princess/whatever is three years old and very sick. So her mother has summoned her cousin, the court physician, to cure her. He’s going to do some bloodletting, drop in the knowledge that Prince Orson is missing, and then inform Martha, the kindly governess, how she can get in contact with the local witch coven.
At long last the physicker arrived, after dark, when most of the household had gone to bed. The footmen sent a pageboy to the butler, who arrived in the foyer within minutes, straightening his tie and giving a formal greeting. He and the page escorted the physicker to the sickroom.
Dawn, Martha, and the staff were preparing the room for the night when the door swung open, and the physicker stepped into the room. His wax-lined cape shuddered around him, swing flatly from side to side. He wore leather gloves and black clothing, and peered down at the women behind his glasses. Did he have a big nose or was it just the angle?
He was also shockingly young, hardly older than Dawn. Everyone was starting to look young to Martha’s eyes, but he looked really young.
Martha shooed the servants from the room. The visit was a private matter.
Dawn stood up and curtsied before him. “Paul,” she said. “Thank goodness you’ve arrived. How was your trip?”
“I cannot stay,” he said.
“Have you come straight from court?”
“I cannot say no to you,” said the physicker. “But the timing is inconvenient. The queen is ill.”
Dawn glanced at Martha, who was already shutting the door firmly. Martha’s mind was racing.
“Hysterics,” said the physicker. “The prince has gone missing.”
Martha eyed the boy. She wouldn’t be trusting him with any secrets anytime soon.
Martha allowed herself to turn her head. Dawn was sitting on the bed, holding Lily’s hand. The physicker had not moved. Dawn glanced at Martha, then lifted up her daughter’s hand.
“She still has a fever, even after three days.”
The physicker finally approached Lily. He knelt down by the bed and took Lily’s hand from Dawn. He lifted up her arm and poked her armpit. Lily squirmed. Martha stepped closer to the bed. Lily was probably going to wake back up and try to get out of bed again.
The physicker tapped along Lily’s neck, then tapped down her chest and to her bellybutton.
“How has her breathing been?”
“She has coughing fits, but then she’s fine.”
He leaned his head over and placed it on Lily’s chest. He waited for a few breaths, then lifted his head back up. Lily squirmed again. The physicker reached over and lifted one of her eyelids. He peered into her eyes. He let go, but Lily blinked and stared at him. The physicker didn’t seem to notice; he reached a gloved hand into her mouth and pried it open. Lily looked up at Dawn, at Martha, at Dawn, and Martha again.
“She’s hot and wet,” said the physicker.
Lily squirmed, trying to sit up. She coughed.
“It’s an imbalance,” said the physicker. “Too much yellow bile and phlegm, and it’s all trying to get out. This is a good start,” he gestured at the fire. “What have you been feeding her?”
“Broth,” said Martha.
The physicker turned and gave her a once-over. “Is this the nurse?”
“Martha is Lily’s governess,” said Dawn. “I nursed Lily myself.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” said the physicker. “Nursing is hard on gentle ladies. You would have been better off entrusting her to the milk of a physical creature.”
“Is that why she’s sick?”
“No, she’s imbalanced. All this sweat, this coughing, she’s trying to get the phlegm out of her. And this heat! You,” he looked at Martha. “Send for some bread and salt.”
Martha looked at Dawn, but Dawn was looking at Lily. She sucked in her breath and turned back towards the door.
“We might have to bleed her, she’s so hot.”
It was the first sensible thing the man had said. Martha went to the door and opened it. As expected, three servant girls were clustered by the door, listening in.
“I suppose you heard everything?”
Their eyes wide, they said nothing.
“You heard nothing, yes?”
“Good. Go get some bread. Or cookies. And some salt. Bring them here.”
The physicker had managed to convince Dawn by the time the servant girls returned with a half-loaf of bread and a bowl of salt. The physician took the bread. The bread had been made in the morning. The crust was hard, but his poke could still dent it.
“Excellent,” he said.
…aaaand now what. I have to write a sequence where a three year old gets cut open and bled, and write it as if it’s a good thing. And then roll right into more plot development. Ugh.
The other project, a modern adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, is still in its development stages. I am honestly completely stuck on how to update the Starkadders. Flora and her friends are so obviously hipsters. But the Starkadders? They’re supposed to make fun of trends popular in literature of the turn of the century.
At first I thought it was just Judith Starkadder who was difficult to deal with. She’s obsessed with her son Seth. This is conveyed very well in the writing, but I have yet to see an adaptation that makes her feelings for Seth obvious. Seth is described constantly as manly (literally, he walks around in a masculine way, the curve of his neck is masculine, etc). He is described as unbuttoning his shirt constantly.
His conversation with his mother is punctuated by the porridge boiling over. It’s hilarious. But how to convey all that on stage? So I thought, well, there’s the modern-day problem of helicopter parents. So maybe she’s a helicopter parent? But no, helicopter parents want their children to go out into the world and succeed (thanks to Mom and Dad). That wouldn’t work in the cloistered world of Cold Comfort Farm.
I then started thinking about the other Starkadder son, Reuben. At first he has a one-sided antagonistic relationship with Flora, thinking that she’s here to take the farm from him. Once he’s convinced that she won’t take the farm, he becomes her ally. Then, randomly, he proposes to her. She turns him down. He continues his lunch. It’s out of nowhere in the book, and it’s supposed to be out of nowhere. I was driving home a few days ago and suddenly thought that maybe Reuben was written in imitation of some romance books where the girl goes to the farm and the guy is antagonistic with her, and then in the end they get married because Belligerent Sexual Tension?
How many tropes am I missing because I haven’t read most of the books Cold Comfort Farm is making fun of? Do I have to go on a classic novel binge in order to really, truly understand Cold Comfort Farm? Why is this such a difficult project?
I was feeling worn-out and exhausted today, so I decided to pep myself up by reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln, because that is who I am now. I’m reading Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, that book that won all the awards in the late 2000s. I opened the book up to page 152 and scanned the page to see where I had last left off. On page 152, Virginia officially seceded from the Union, taking the crucial Norfolk Navy Yard with it.
With its stategic location, immense dry dock, great supply of cannons and guns, and premier vessel, the Merrimac, the Norfolk yard was indispensible to both sides.
But, of course, Virginia secedes from the Union, and Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, was unable to secure the vital navy yard before the Confederacy took it over. We shall see what the consequences of this was.
The loss of Norfolk prompted Charles Francis Adams* to note in his diary:
We the children of the third and fourth generations are doomed to pay the penalties of the compromises made by the first.
You may recognize this as my facebook status a few days ago.^ For some reason that quote has stuck with me. I stopped at that line again. I read it over a few times. I couldn’t think of why I like that sentence so much. I read it again. Suddenly I realized that to pay the penalty is a vocab term in early Latin studies (poenas dare. Had the sentence simply triggered my Classics scholarship?
I decided to translate the sentence into Latin rather than read on.
After writing out the sentence, the next step is to break it down into parts of speech. Diagramming it. However the old-school folks say it.
We the children nominative (subject)
of the third and fourth generations genitive (possessive)
are doomed first person plural indicative active present
to pay the penalties infinitive/accusative plural (infinitive/object)
of the compromises genitive (possessive)
made wait there’s another verb?
by the first ablative
I stared in horror at the last three steps. There was already a possessive and a verb in the sentence. How could there be more? I set that question aside for the moment and tried to think about the ablative.
Ablative doesn’t have a direct correlation in English, unlike nominative/subject, genitive/possessive, dative/indirect object, and accusative/direct object. The best I can explain it is as a setting. Ablative tells you where the sentence happened, when it happened, or how it happened (ablative of means). The first several chapters of my textbooks avoids ablatives, and then suddenly ablatives are everywhere. They’re hard to get across in English. When I was in high school, I wrote out English translations for every single word I diagrammed: by/with/in/on/from the troops, I would write.
My life is brilliant
My love is pure
I saw an angel
Of that I’m sure
She smiled at me on the subway
She was with another man
But I won’t lose no sleep on that
‘Cause I’ve got a plan
You’re beautiful, it’s true
I saw your face in a crowded place
And I don’t know what to do
‘Cause I’ll never be with you
You’re beautiful, it’s true
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you
But it’s time to face the truth
I will never be with you
But I also knew from my days in community college Latin that there was another use for ablative. And by another I mean “the way bearded dragons and komodo dragons are both lizard dragons.” That way is Ablative Absolute.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you <—BAM WHAM
When the angel thought up that he should be with her, the angel smiled.
Ablative absolute sets the scene like nothing else. It can’t stand on its own, it’s not a full sentence even though it might have a subject and a verb (wait-). It’s very ablative-heavy. And it always (well, typically) goes in the front, especially in Latin.
By the compromises made by the first generation, we the children of the third and fourth generation are doomed to pay the penalties.
Compromissit primis aetatibus facerunt, nos pueri aetatis tertiae et quartiae damnamus poenas dare.
Is it correct? I actually have no idea.
*grandson of John, son of John Quincy
^or you may not, I don’t know you.
I usually curl up and read in bed for a bit before I go to sleep. It’s becoming a nice family ritual, as James reads science fiction while I read a biography. Now that Cornelius has joined the household, we get distracted and play with him as well. Last night Cornelius and I played a game where I tried to touch his belly and he tried to capture my hand and bite it. It’s one of his favorite games.
(Right now he’s laying up against me and trying to capture my toes, which I’m wiggling just to set him off)
I got home from work this morning and James asked me to not play a game like that with Cornelius before bed. “He kept trying to attack my toes,” he said.
“That’s what cats do,” I said. “They attack toes in the night.”
“I couldn’t sleep,” said James.
“Neither could I,” I said. “He kept snuggling into my back until he nearly pushed me off the bed.”
So yeah, Cornelius is a great addition to our household! Yesterday was his first vet appointment. I told them about my concerns for his ears — they are bald and scaly, and that baldness and scaliness is spreading. The vets for Wake County Animal Center had treated it like ringworm, which definitely helps. But surely there must be a way to make it go away.
My vet thinks that he might be allergic to something. We don’t know what. Most likely fish or gluten. So I had to go out and buy hypoallergenic food.
(he’s purring you guys oh my gosh)
Today I got new, clay-based kitty litter, to replace the wheat-based one I had bought on the foster’s recommendation. Hopefully in a few months the scaliness will be replaced with pretty orange fur.
Miley is sitting at a table outside Starbucks. She is sipping a cold drink and checking her phone. Laura enters, wearing black clothing and carrying a hot drink. Laura sits at Miley’s table.
Miley: Hey girl! How are you? It’s been forever! I’ve been worried, you haven’t been updating anywhere! You always answer my texts!
Miley: How was camping with your parents? Was it good bonding time?
Miley: I thought you were only going to be gone a week! What happened?
Laura: Ugh. I never got along with my parents. They were always telling me about how I should live life to the fullest and experience the joys of nature and eat good real food and my dad told me that being out in the wild would give you a real perspective on how fast and pointless modern day life when. Then my parents got eaten by bears.
Miley: Wait what?
Laura: Yeah. They got eaten by bears. I refused to sleep outside in the tent because I was afraid of getting eaten by bears. Then they got eaten by bears.
Miley: Oh my god.
Laura: Yeah, so I’ve been dealing with like funeral and executing their wills and with relatives and it’s been exhausting. I finally got back into town last night. That’s when I texted you.
Miley: I’m so sorry.
Laura: Whatever, I never got along with my parents.
Miley: What are you going to do now?
Laura: I don’t know.
Miley: They were rich right? They left you money?
Laura: Like $15,000 a year.
Miley: What! That’s not enough for a cool apartment in the city! That’s not even enough for Starbucks!
Laura: I know. But it turns out all that time exploring the great outdoors meant that they were just constantly getting themselves into debt. All those jetskis and ski-skis cost a lot of money they didn’t have. Plus my student loans. Paying all that off is why I only have $15,000 a year.
Miley: So seriously, Laura, you need to get a job or something.
Laura: I’ve been trying! I send out ten resumes a day! No calls! No one believes me! Not even Starbucks calls me. I’m a regular! They owe me.
Miley: Well you can’t just do nothing, that’s like below the poverty line.
Laura: I am going to do nothing, but I’ve got a plan. I’m going to live with relatives.
Laura: During the eulogy I played up the boo-hoo me, all alone in the world. So I got a bunch of emails from relatives saying that I could live with them. I need you to help me go through them and figure out which relative I’m going to live with.
Miley: You’re just going to mooch off them? That’s not cool.
Laura: Obviously not. I’m going to say that I’m writing a novel. And maybe I will! I’m good with words. This is perfect. I’ve got feelings, right? My parents died. So I’ve got feelings, and an English degree, and lots of free time. I should totally write a novel. No one can complain. I’m working. I’m writing. All I need is a safe place to live and eat while I write. Come on, Miley. Help me decide who is going to be my muse.
Miley: Well…I do like judging people…
Laura: That’s my Miley. Come on.
She pulls out a cell phone or tablet or something.
After a few serious conversations, James and I have reached a compromise: one cat, once I have a full-time job.
It’s the “full-time job” part that’s frustrating. I have no control over it. Literally no control. As in, there are headlines all over North Carolina reading “NC Teacher Assistants once again rally for jobs” “500+ Teacher Assistants could lose their job in two weeks” “Teacher assistants once again criticize NC legislature for budget delays”
North Carolina is not a good teaching environment. I’m considering just dropping the dream altogether. I won’t drop Latin, obviously (obviously). There’s a community of Latin hobbyists out there, learning it on their own. I’ve dipped my toes in it a bit. Maybe in the future I can pursue more Latin formally. Heck, with the right career, I could even pursue a Ph.D. in Classics. Who knows? Only time will tell.
I’ve been brushing the dust off a few other career ideas. Namely, Library Sciences and Bookkeeping. I think the next step for me is to apply to Wake Technical Community College. Maybe I’ll sign up for an entry-level course in database management (or computer sciences or something?) and in Accounting, and see which one I take to more.
I would also enter as a transfer student from Northern Virginia Community College, which is weird. It’s been so long since I’ve been a starter student.
Looking at the options, I would probably take Basic PC Literacy (for accounting) and CIS 110 (for database management) or something.
Honestly, in this area, getting involved with technical stuff is not a bad idea. I might be able to spin it into an entry-level job at one of the important companies on Research Triangle. Then I’ll be the breadwinner and I’ll be able to get two cats!
This is all just an extended way to say that compromise is terrible and I should get a cat now anyway.
Welbeth pushed the bicycle up the rocky mountain path. She had always known that mountains were tall, but did they have to be this tall? Her feet ached in her shoes. They felt broken and rubbed against her socks. Her bloomers and shirt clung to her wet skin. Her mouth and throat ached for water. The sky was blue above her, an achey, empty blue.
What a stupid story, she thought.
She heard the scraping and the rumbling; it came from far off, farther than from her fashionable rubber tires rubbing against the rocks.
It raised its head, triangular and orange against the shimmering blue sky. Its eyes stuck out on the side of its head. Only one could face Welbeth at a time, and only one faced Welbeth now. It narrowed that eye, and narrowed its pupil. Welbeth froze in its gaze.
Her eyes followed down the dragon’s neck. Down. Down. Down. Down. Its body was wrapped up in its wings. Two oddly human-like hands were folded in front of a rather flat chest. A long tail wrapped around its body. It looked rather comfy like that, actually. Long tail and folded hands. The dragon regarded her lazily.
Someone ought to say something. So finally Welbeth did. “You wouldn’t happen to know where the Crown of the God of War is, would you?”
“N O,” rumbled the dragon.
“Oh,” said Welbeth. “I was hoping you might. I thought that it might be in the mountains, since lots of mining happens here.”
“N O T A S M U C H A S B E F O R E,” the dragon said. Welbeth could have sworn it was smiling.
“I need it so I can raise the new Dawn King,” said Welbeth. “It’s important.”
“I S E E,” said the dragon.
“I’m Welbeth,” said Welbeth.
“I A M C A L L E D S C A L Y B Y S O M E,” said the dragon.
“But not all?” asked Welbeth.
“C L E A R L Y,” said the dragon.
“What’s the other name then?”
“Y O U C A N N O T C O M P R E H E N D T H E V A S T N E S S O F T H E D R A G O N T O N G U E,” said the dragon.
“I bet your tongue is pretty big,” said Welbeth. “I bet it’s like a mile long altogether. I heard tongues go all the way down into the stomach.”
“I D O U B T I T D U E T O S T O M A C H A C I D,” said the dragon
“It’s still really long,” said Welbeth. “Maybe it’s part of your esophagus!”
“I S H A L L A S K M Y N E X T M E A L,” said the dragon. “T H E Y W I L L S C R E A M E V E R Y T H I R T Y S E C O N D S U N T I L T H E Y R E A C H T H E E N D O F M Y T O N G U E. T H E N I S H A L L K N O W.”
“Are your meals that intelligent though?” asked Welbeth.
“N O,” said the dragon. “M Y L A S T M E A L W A S A S E T O F M I N E R S.”
“Miners?” asked Welbeth. “Human miners?”
“A R E T H E R E O T H E R C R E A T U R E S W H O D I G I N T O T H E G R O U N D F O R N O G O O D R E A S O N?”
“No, but they were human!”
“W H A T I S Y O U R P O I N T?”
“They were human beings. They had hopes and dreams and now they’re gone!”
“A N D N O W I A M F E D.”
“But…they were alive! You don’t care? You don’t care that your food had hopes and dreams and wanted things too?”
“T H E Y W E R E S M A L L S O T H E Y C O U L D N O T H A V E H A D B I G D R E A M S.”
“And I’m even smaller! Are you going to eat me?”
“I A M D I G E S T I N G.”
That didn’t make Welbeth feel any better. She started pushing her bike along again. She had a lot of thinking to do.