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9.29.2006

ten, or a heirarchy of crisps


It is nearly one in the morning, and I've just come home from a Friday night at the Doctor's. This is no clinic, but a local pub full of warm bodies, warm ale, and loud voices. It was better than the last time, I must admit. Perhaps that is due to the fact that I didn't drink anything this time. Mostly, I think it was just good company, good conversation, and... that's about it.

Here are some things that I learned this evening:

I would love Manchester and must go there for the fashion. (Should I not buy the coat on Princes Street? Should I take the train to Manchester instead?)

If I go to London, beware the over-priced tourist attractions. See the Bridge, the Ben, and the Buckingham Palace from a distance. Be cheap, and save your money for a more interesting and reasonably-priced city.

On a more interesting note, Altoids are not a British curiosity. The Brits know nothing about them. "Altoids? What's an Altoid? What do you do with it?" Then again, they were more than a little surprised to discover that Monster Munch is not an American junk food item. "Monster Munch? What's a Monster Munch?"

In fact, Monster Munch is only one of many delightful crisp options to found in your local BP, Tesco, or Sainsbury's store. The unique thing about Monster Munch, other than the Tabasco taste and caloric content, is that they are shaped like monster feet. Right. I am not quite sure where they fit into the crisp heirarchy, but I did learn a few other important points. Lamb and Mint crisps are "posh," as are the Prawn Cocktail. Lamb and Mint crisps are "the sort your mum would put in a bowl and pass round. She wouldn't just put in salt and vinegar crisps." Of course she wouldn't. Why would she do that? I think I must bring home some of these posh crisps when I return for the wedding in October. Tonight, I tried Steak and Onion. They weren't as good as the Lamb and Mint, but if you need a quick dinner...

9.28.2006

nein, Marx. nine.

For a taste of what I'm trying to troll through for tomorrow morning's course, here's a happy link: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lukacs/index.htm

All the passages under "Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat." Any hints on what he's talking about? Anything? Anybody?

9.27.2006

eight


Yesterday, I found the coat that I have been waiting to buy. It is not a raincoat as such, but it is just what I want. Had I wondered to myself, 'what sort of coat would you like to own and wear?' this is not the one that my imagination would have created. I would have thought of something quite classic in dark grey or black. It might have had the general fit and style of this one, but I would never have conceived of such a red colour. It is fabulous.

On the same day, that is, yesterday, I observed a very unusual and fascinating thing. The city of Edinburgh is riddled over with all manner of hills. On my way home from George Square, for example, I must descend and ascend two hills of great incline. (That is, they seem quite inclining to my meagre legs.) Liesl and I were scavenging around Princes Street, where I found the coat that I will buy, and then we headed over to the Royal Mile. Somewhere between Prince and Mile, New Town ends and Old Town begins. That means two things: one) you pass over a bridge that crosses over what I could only figure to be the train station, and two) the streets no longer feel the need to be even and straight. The Royal Mile is pretty straight for an Old Town street. In fact, I think the idea of it is that it be straight. But it is most certainly not even. We had already rambled around the castle end of the Royal Mile, which chooses to ascend right up to the great stone walls of said castle, so on this particular yesterday, we chose to explore the other end of the street. (This is a lot of preface for a very short and simple observation.) So anyway, we were headed down the hill of the eastern end of the Mile, when my pseudo-flatmate was struck by something across the street. I was more interested in fashion than in public curiosities, and was at this time trying to point out to her a variety of boots in a certain shop window. She wisely directed my attention to the more interesting matter across from us. On the opposite sidewalk, a man in a wheelchair had his dog by a leash. That dog was tugging furiously at that leash, and the man was gripping very hard. This might sound like any normal bloke out walking his pup... except that the dog had the leash by his teeth, and was, with all his dog strength, pulling the man in his chair up the steep incline of the hill. Now, I have often thought of this city as a nightmare for anyone with any sort of physical handicap. But I had never considered all the clever ways in which obstacles of this nature may be overcome. It would have taken enormous strength and endurance for the fellow in the chair to get himself up that long stretch of steep road. It might also, generally speaking, be difficult for him to find ways of jollying about with his very energetic dog. But here is a solution to both, for I am sure that at the end of the day, the dog was quite happy in his game of tug of war, and the man was quite happy in his strength. Three cheers for Scottish ingenuity!

9.24.2006

seven and a half

It is not good to keep silent.
It is not good to speak.
It is hard to know--there is no knowing
which and what to do.
I shout opinions and crush hearts.
I bury opinions and crush hearts.
Opinions, then,
are deadly things.
They kill with greater efficiency
than the strength of my arm
or the might of my mind.

I would remove them,
but they crop up
with each bite from the fork,
with each perk of the ear.
I would undo them,
but they have already given me
a tainted name.
They have already spoiled
this chat and that shake of the hand.
There is no retrieving the slight,
no replacing it with affirmation,
no recalling it
or calling it by another name.
It is my self-made bane.
Oh be careful little mouth
what you say.

seven

I need to clarify the purpose of this blog.
1. To post general events, particular observations, occasional academic challenges, readings, poems, photos, quotations, and interesting finds.
2. NOT to express unnecessary, harmful, or divisive opinions.
3. To provide another means of communication between myself and family/friends.
4. Eventually, to create a useful or interesting source of links to a variety of sites which will, hopefully, in their union, serve as a kind of conversational valley. Whatever that means. I have an image in my mind of posts and comments echoing off the walls of various websites that rise from the earth like the red cliffs of Utah. And somehow, this blog is the groundfloor. Right. Such useful imagery...

9.23.2006

six


So far most of these posts have sounded a bit down. Life is not so grey, actually. Today we (myself and flatmates) wandered further north in the city than I have ever been. There was one point, just below the battlements of the castle, where we could look out over the whole of New Town, over to Leith, and beyond to the sea! So far, that is my favorite view in the city. (Unfortunately, due to the nearness of said castle, it is also a favorite jaunt for many a tourist; however, it is also at the top of a ridiculously long and steep trek which the careful tourist would try to avoid!) I did not bring my camera with me, since we were originally only planning to find ourselves a Scottish breakfast. Which, incidentally, I did not like very much. It tasted cheap, greasy, and unflavorful. I think it was the baked beans, really. It seemed like they had been made with watered down ketchup. For those who want to find good food in Edinburgh, City Restaurant may be a very convenient location with a lovely view of some fabulous old buildings, but avoid the breakfast. (Incidentally, both flatmates thought it was fabulous and said it would be a danger to their pocketbooks to have the restaurant any closer to our flat. Perhaps I have poor taste in food.)

9.22.2006

five


This evening: my first Scottish pub. What's the big idea? Mostly noise, cheap beer, and... more noise. Even so, it was good to get it over with, I suppose. At least the girls know what I mean when I say 'I'm not really a pub person.' It's not exactly my element.

9.21.2006

four

Today was my first day of missing. I did not miss an individual, a group, a place, a food... I just missed. I have kind of been waiting for this, because I know that when it comes it will come like a flood. And in the times when I least expect it. I will be sketching teardrops in the margins of my notes again.

This sounds rather sad, but it is good really. I am familiar with what will come (and is already coming), and I know that it will pass. I also know that it is a feeling, and not a need. Though I love feelings, and I know that they are good and God-given, a need is something else. A need will kill me if it is not satisfied. And this hurt will not kill; it will happily rebuild me. This is very good; very good.

9.20.2006

three


Dreams can be crippling things.
They wear you out with wondering;
they woo you with their wasting.

I wander through the Scottish streets
still seething with morning memories
of things undone,
faces unmet, places
ungone.
Wars between worlds
that are not, have been battled
on the surfaces of my brain.
A friend is wed; a storm falls upon my hair;
I wind my way through the labyrinth
of countless haunted homes,
the twining chords of my cortex.

All the while, chapels,
statues and castles,
tower above me,
wondering
why I fail to look up.

9.15.2006

two


No castles today, but a good long jaunt and a new sense of confidence about my location, my ability, and the city in general.

9.14.2006

one


Scotland is wet, especially today. I was thinking, as I rode the double-decker bus into the heart of the city, that I enjoy extreme weather. And then I realized that it is not the weather I enjoy, but what it does to good company. Extreme weather draws people together. Perhaps it is that need to be for and against things. 'I am for my brethren; I am against this rain.' I have yet to see if this rain today has improved my friendship with the two girls I wandered with, or if it has increased my loneliness for Wheaton and Desert friends. I suspect it has done both.

The only reason I don't like rain is because it blinds me. That is a significant reason.

9.05.2006

avanti

Western wind, when wilt thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!
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