The Quest for Understanding and other stories

Printmaking/woodcut; plywood and canvas
Work and photo by Margot Myers
Those of you who have been around for a while might remember that I'm on something of a quest to understand modern art.

It's something that comes to mind a lot in Bellingham. Sometimes—e.g., when walking around the giant macaroni noodle on the street corner, or navigating my way across the abstract-statuary-punctuated WWU campus—I feel shut out, as if I'd attempted to get to know someone and they'd snubbed me.

On account of which, I've been offering eternal gratitude to anyone who helps me understand modern art in any form. Masha and Christie have begun that work for me in poetry; Jade carries it forward musically; and Margot Myers joined that list of teachers a couple of Sundays ago with a beautiful visual piece called "Traces."

Margot is my friend, and maybe friendship is the best way into understanding art—or maybe I'm drawn to make friends with people who call me forward artistically. Whichever be the case, I see a lot of my own feeling reflected in her artistic statement:
The incredible, ordered power in natural systems and organisms is the main thing that informs my work. I respond to the great beauty and delicacy that I see in the sky, the ocean and in the dirt.... I want my work to increase consciousness of and a connection to the fleeting, intense and sometimes frightful beauty that exists around us. 
"Traces," she explained in a statement that accompanied her exhibit, is about travel and the traces we leave behind us as we move around the world. She studied everything from vapor trails to boat wakes in the creation process, and invited strangers to participate by leaving painted footprints; when you get close enough, you can see shoe treads marked in yellows.

Detail of "Traces"
Work and photo by Margot Myers
I had to read the words first, because I need explanation so badly. After that, though, I walked around the piece, considered it from different angles, and saw everything she'd mentioned and then some: dots on a map, headlights and taillights, land and sea and motion, salmon traveling upstream, and even comings and goings between stars. And, because my mind works this way: ferris wheels, tiger colors, film reels, peacock feathers, and Golden Snitches. (I think the latter actually represented a map symbol, but am not sure.)

Sometimes I just looked at the sweep of line and color across the boards and canvas and thought, "It's beautiful."

It was nice to meet a piece of modern visual art and feel like it said hello and smiled at me. I'd like to meet more. In the meantime, I recommend Margot's site and her Facebook page! Enjoy.

* * *

*grin and blush*

So. On March 27, I was finally able to sign up for orientation at Utah State, SAT scores in hand. And I was able to tell them that I got a 620 in Math and an 800 in Critical Reading.

Required score for getting out of college math entirely: 580. :D

I'm tempted to light off fireworks, even though they're not legal in Bellingham (not that that stops anybody). Since I'm not in possession of any, however, I'll have to settle for a VERY LONG AND EXUBERANT HAPPY DANCE OH MY GOSH.

:D :D :D :D :D

* * *

This is not the first time in my life I've worked thirty-two hours a week. What I can't figure out right now is when I used to do stuff. When did I go to the grocery?—do laundry?—sleep? I get up at six and go to bed at midnight and I still can't get it all done.

Meanwhile, the flowering quince is blooming, and the fruiting quince is leafing out; there's another peony coming up in the lawn; Lou found a brick border buried an inch deep under sod around the front gardens; I rode my bike to work for the first time today (terrifying and exhausting, but it'll get better); I'm drinking rose-and-jasmine tea sent me by Masha (best-smelling package EVER, Em! That oil! And I keep cuddling the scarf for feel and scent, and thinking of you <3); and I keep smiling because Saturday brought me some rather lovely friendship and music, like a thoughtfully-chosen gift.

The music you might just get to hear one of these days, as the composer is a certain aforementioned friend, and the vocalist is a certain aforementioned husband. ;)

Oh, and I never got you a cat picture last week. Laura, thanks for giving me permission to miss a few. George and Maia, I'M SORRY.

Harry Potter post coming soon; Masha put up hers, and Christie is planning to join back in before long as well. In the meantime, I hope you're all having a great week!


Hufflepuff Party

I have a post on a friend's beautiful modern visual art that I'm desperately trying to get posted. Not to mention the two book reviews that want writing up. They require conscious thought. Conscious thought takes work, however.

Conscious feels—not so much. :D

Kristina Horner, this is so perfect, and I love you. I always knew we were a lot alike, even though I called myself a Gryffindor and you called yourself a Slytherin.

The only thing—well, I'm not so sure about cuddling a badger. They bite. I don't need a badger for biting instead of cuddling; I have a cat for that. Most of the time, I can pry her teeth out of my hand.


The Twenty-Fifth of March when Sauron Fell

"Noon?" said Sam, trying to calculate. "Noon of what day?" 
"The fourteenth of the New Year," said Gandalf; "or if you like, the eighth day of April in the Shire reckoning. But in Gondor the New Year will always now begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when you were brought out of the fire to the King."
Happy Feast of the Annunciation and... day of the downfall of Sauron! Isn't there a proper name for it? I can't remember right off, and I'm too sleepy to look it up.

But the girls from Pages Unbound—one of my favorite book blogs—interviewed me on the subject of J.R.R. Tolkien and his work the other day, and the post went live on this day of all days for Middle-Earth. I was thoroughly flattered to be asked, and had a blast answering their questions. If you want to know what redeems the Professor's work for me despite the dearth of interesting female characters, or how and why I first read said work, or what I'd say to people who haven't read Tolkien yet, click on over.

They're also interviewing other bloggers all week, which is just part of a stellar Tolkien read-through (master list of posts), which I really wish right now I could find more time to participate in. All you Tolkien fans—which is at least two-thirds of you who ever comment—I recommend it!


Because I Owe You a Cat Picture...

(Yes, I know the Chicago Manual of Style prefers a space before the ellipsis, and I will dutifully put said space in when occasion requires at work, but I have never understood that style choice. Feel free to explain, if any of you have the details.)

So. I like the job. I like the job so much that I just told my bosses I'd work thirty-two hours per week instead of twenty till fall semester starts. Bear with me; I'm not sure when I'll take pictures of the cat and the flowers, let alone post them, but I mean to find ways.

The next question: which of these plants I can save from further Maian root excavations by taking them to work and putting them on my desk.

Carrie-Ann, I put the Jane Austen figurine you gave me on my desk, right in front of my computer monitors. When I went in this morning, I discovered that someone had used one of my sticky notes to leave me a "This is awesome!" with an arrow pointing to Jane. My sentiments exactly. :)


Harry Potter and Love: Imperfect Friendship

Hello, Potter fans!

Christie is officially in Wales, so hopefully we'll be hearing from her soon! Meanwhile, Masha began our Lenten study of love in the first three Harry Potter books with a set of comments that wants some serious engaging. Here goes.
Best friends. Source.
Friendship is, I think, the love Rowling is least comfortable with..it is the weakest portrayed in the series, the most often portrayed, the least inspiring of all the loves shown in the series.
I would make that argument for romance, not friendship.

Apart from frequency of portrayal, every argument Masha makes here strikes me as highly defensible if we're talking about the romantic relationships—a point I believe firmly even though I shipped the canon pairs from the earliest books. But since we'll probably get to romantic love later on, I won't bother defending my position just yet.

As for friendship:
The primary friendship: Harry, Ron, and Hermione is a frustrating one for me. Harry and Ron are pretty consistently abandoning Hermione for all manner of petty reasons, Ron is - it seems, never really stops hating Harry for life in the limelight, and Harry has the sort of trust issues that can only come from an abusive childhood..but why do they never, ever go away - at least with his two closest friends?
If that had been a wizarding photo booth,
those pictures would move.
Reader experience is so personal that I can't argue with that. I can argue that Ron does eventually stop hating Harry for life in the limelight, but unfortunately my best proof requires a quote from the epilogue to Deathly Hallows, which is off limits right now.

In these first three books, the Trio is very young, and when I was their age, I was a petty friend, too. I spent a year being angry with my best friend for turning thirteen nine months before I did. Said best friend also got a much earlier grip on maturity. When I think of the evening I spent sneaking up behind her and startling her, or the afternoon I kept flipping her off the inner tube in the pool after promising her again and again that I wouldn't... yeah. I'm lucky she didn't call me a jerk and find a nicer girl to hang out with.

I can't find it in me to condemn Ron when I've been forgiven so much. :)

As for Harry never getting over his trust issues: Masha, can you give me an example of that? I'm not sure what you mean by that, so I'm not sure how to defend him.
Because the trio aren't the only friends represented in the series, but they're probably the best shot at healthy, true friendships, and it's disappointing.
I'd give that "best shot" to the Marauders, actually, sans traitor. No disappointment necessary.

The Marauders—Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs—are introduced in this book, and despite certain notable personal failures, the three loyal ones were indeed loyal. The bond of love between them ran deep. Like, David and Jonathan, Frodo and Sam deep. Deep enough to induce singer-songwriter-GarageBandmaster Zoe Bromelow to write all kinds of songs celebrating that love.

Art by Jackie de Leon
Taking her band name from the dedication to Deathly Hallows, Ms. Bromelow is well known for her Marauder-era tunes. Her songs are pretty rough-cut, but she's just about unrivalled in wizard rock for her ability to pack emotion into a short lyric and a haunting little melody. She is absolutely my favorite wrocker, and here are two applicable songs, both of which I love. It's sloppy academic practice to use wizard rock songs as arguments, but I'm totally going to do it anyway.

"Up to No Good" (sorry, I couldn't find a way to embed these)
So I'll stay with Padfoot even when he's crazy
I'll stick with Wormtail even when he's lazy
Be Prongs' friend even when he's insufferable
This means trouble
"Every Star in the Sky"
You always could see right through me
A silent smile for some inner beauty
I always did know how to calm you down
But life's not the same without James and Lily 
It's hard to sleep and it's hard to cry
But still I repeat it like a lullaby
This war will end
We'll see them again
I swear on every star in the sky
Spoilerific, but I couldn't resist. Art by ahshow.
We'll get some pictures of the Marauders' love and loyalty at the end of this book: Moony embracing the long-lost Padfoot as a brother, and Prongs' love reaching forward one generation to save Padfoot's life and soul.
So much simmering resentment. I look back at my own school-day friendships and I remember having friends like that: friends I liked (even loved), but didn't really trust, friends I knew would isolate me at the first mis-step..those weren't my closest friends. My dearest friends from school were the ones I trusted with my whole heart, the ones I know are still there for me, despite the miles, despite the spiritual distance, despite the paths we've taken that lead away from each other. There's still that core closeness..and maybe that closeness is there, somewhere deeply hidden in the trio. Buried behind back-biting, petty betrayals, and thoughtless cruelties, maybe there's the core of friendship. But if it's there, it seems like a sad, struggling thing - beset on all sides. 
Two words: Hermione Granger.

Art by conniiption.
Hermione is the constant in the Trio, the one who—despite bossiness and a taste for following the rules that goes mostly unshared by her best friends—is never, as far as I can recall offhand, disloyal. She bickers with Ron and is occasionally rude to him, usually after he does something particularly unkind to her, but she never gives either of them up for lost causes. Both boys need that loyalty.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron and Hermione don't speak to each other for weeks on account of Hermione's cat supposedly killing Ron's rat. Harry and Ron are both more heartless without Hermione, and it's her approach, trembling, with the important knowledge of a mutual friend's grief, that begins reconciliation. That act cracks Ron's pride. When Ron's pride cracks, Hermione's caves in, and Harry's might never have existed. All is forgiven.

The Trio is beset on all sides, what with a serious lack of adult guidance and an evil wizard trying desperately to kill one of them off. They quarrel like siblings and sometimes have a real blowup between them, but there is always love there. It pulls them back together every time.
Art by Rae.
Still, if it is there - and I never see it reading the books, really, only in discussing them afterwards with enthusiastic people who can see it - it does raise the friendships in the series above where I saw them. I like to hope that maybe Rowling is trying to draw that aspect of friendship out. Reminding her readers again and again that love is something constant..something that 'bears all things..endures all things..[and] never fails.'  
Human love fails regularly. Rowling shows us that, but she also shows it growing, becoming more than itself, finding new ways around old breaches. Some sort of conflict between the Trio plays a role in the overarching conflict in several of the books, if not all seven, but the friends always return to peace.
What do you think, are her friendships true and beautiful? Are they Loving?
I'd argue that Rowling's friendships are realistic: true and beautiful at times, flawed and unattractive at others. They develop, progress and regress, and finish out the story rather wonderfully, in my opinion, though I'm not allowed to talk about that yet. :)



Primroses Waiting and other stories

Hello, last weekday of being a stay-at-home housewife! I've been enjoying the sunshine—and killing the whole morning working on things not relevant to what I'm supposed to be working on—and putting off housework.

Maia: "Don't take a picture of me. You'll steal my soul."
The blog schedule will get substantively reworked over the next few weeks, and I won't know how till I know my new schedule... so thanks for your patience. :)

For today: the Today meme is hosted by Masha! Join in over at Piękno, or leave your own sensory notes in the combox...

* * *

Today I am:

Feeling... cheerful. I have four little primroses waiting to go in the ground; I did a bunch of account updating that I've been putting off all week; I've had a pleasant few days of not making myself do very much; and I ordered a bicycle yesterday so I can commute to work like a proper Bellinghamster.*

I'm as excited as a kid about that last one. I've barely been on a bike since my teens... but there was another blue Schwinn once, and before that, a much-loved black-and-yellow dirt bike that I rode till my knees started hitting the handlebars.

I am so going to learn to ride my bike in a skirt, by the way.

* * *

* * *

Seeing... my friend Agnes' band play tomorrow night, if all goes well! Two or three of my other friends and I are driving down to Seattle together to see her sing. I've been looking forward to this for weeks.

Smelling... and Tasting... grapefruit peeled, sectioned, and cut up into a bowl with a handful of walnuts thrown in—a Lenten lunch that doesn't taste penitential. ;)

* * *

Listening... to a real blast from the past. Upon coming home from choir practice this week with something or other stuck in my head, I thought, "I need a song to get this out, now"—and the following came to mind out of nowhere. I haven't seen the movie Polly since I was maybe fourteen.

This was the only video of the complete song that I could find that wasn't flagrantly breaking copyright law. The crowd is very enthusiastic, probably because this performance is kind of adorable.

* * *

Grateful... for sunshine, flowers, these five years of rest, and a job to go to Monday.

First daffodil!

Reading… hmm. I just finished Fiddler's Green (kinda loved it, actually; review coming soon), so I'm between books. I've got Marissa Meyer's Cress on order at the library, Dickens' The Tale of Two Cities still waiting on my Kindle, and sudden strong temptations to re-read the first three Anne books, The Blue Castle, and The Host. Hmmmmmm.

Studying… nothing! Not this week. ;)

Working on... filling out I-9s and W-2s, convincing myself to make something of Lent instead of complaining about it, and preparing a great big response to Masha's first Lenten post on love in Harry Potter. Hey, Potter fans, my good friend Masha doesn't say things like "Friendship is, I think, the love Rowling is least comfortable with..." just to make every Potter fan's jaw hit the floor—these were her sincere impressions! Go convince her otherwise. ;)

* * *

Loving... this day at home.

Hoping... for more sunshine, so I can start biking to work soon. And so my little primroses don't get stunted and beaten back by snow and frost, like the last quartet I got. And so we can finally be done with winter, because spring.

Happy weekend!

* I'll bike-commute in the sunshine, at least. I'm not hard core enough to want to take my book bag and my bangs out in the rain.


Currently Reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)by Catherynne M. Valente
Square Fish, 2012

“How far is it to Pandemonium, Ell?” yawned September. She stretched her legs, flexing the bare toes of her left foot. 
“Can’t say, small one.” The beast thwacked into the tree again. “Pandemonium begins with P, and, therefore, I don’t know very much about it.” 
September thought for a moment. “Try ‘Capital’ instead. That starts with C. And Fairyland starts with F, so you could, well, cross-reference.” 
A-Through-L left off the nearly persimmon tree and cocked his head to one side like a curious German shepherd. “The capital of Fairyland is surrounded by a large, circular river,” he said slowly, as if reading from a book, “called the Barleybroom. The city consists of four districts: Idlelily, Seresong, Hallowgrum, and Mallowmead. Population is itinerant, but summer estimates hover around ten thousand daimonia—that means spirits—” 
“And pan means all,” whispered September, since the Wyvern could not be expected to know, on account of the p involved. In September’s world, many things began with pan. Pandemic, Pangaea, Panacea, Panoply. Those were all big words, to be sure, but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying.
* * *

Twelve-year-old September, bored with teacups and small dogs, is only too happy to be Ravished away by the Green Wind and sent into Fairyland. Immediately upon entrance, she follows the path to losing her heart and accepts a quest to retrieve a spoon from the tyrannical Marquess, without beginning to know what she's undertaking, or how she might be breaking the Rules of Fairyland—but September is rational and determined, and she will do what she must to succeed.

* * *

One of the problems most folklorists have with Disney fairy tales is that said tales rarely point out that Fairyland and the majority of its inhabitants are out to bamboozle you. Valente obviously knows the facts, however, as does protagonist September by the end of the novel—and yet, Fairyland's trickery does not destroy its attractiveness.

September, like MacDonald's Anodos, ends up Shadowless; unlike Anodos, however, September's narrator suggests this is a bad rather than a good thing. The imagery only hints at future things, so I'll have to read the sequel to discover the point of all that.

Valente presents Fairyland in extravagant prose, dropping hilarious wordplay into depiction of a wildly colored landscape full of things unexpected. Her scientific and self-reliant little heroine faces it down with the help of two sidekicks: one prone to spouting encyclopedia quotes, and the other shy and blue.

I loved the book for the humor and the characters—which included a jacket, a lamp, and a soap golem—and appreciated it for its beautiful vocabulary and thoughtfulness. The one strongly sympathetic character I could not always quite keep up with was September herself, as she and I had to communicate from the extreme furthest reaches of the Jungian thinking/feeling dichotomy. Fortunately, I had Ell and Saturday and the aforementioned jacket and lamp and soap golem to help relay messages. If I go for the sequel, which I well might, it will very much be for love of September's friends.

Advisory, aimed solely at parents who have serious cautions about Harry Potter—some of whom, for friendship to me, bravely go on reading this blog: This being Fairyland, there are witches and dragons. Well, dragon—or rather, wyvern—or rather, Wyverary. I loved the Wyverary; I ain't gonna lie. Speaking of verbal dishonesty, however, Valente cheerfully and openly subverts the concept of the "good child," starting by requiring September to lie in order to enter Fairyland, upon which I thought to myself (perhaps not entirely justly), "Oh. Well. I guess I'll never get in, then." Homeschooling absolutely crippled me on the dishonesty front. For better or for worse. ;)


Once Upon an SAT

My job starts next Monday; this is my last week of full freedom. I'm tempted to say, "Should I use it for good or for evil?"—but the alternatives are really more like, "Should I use it for cleaning house and writing or for killing time on the internet?"

PSA: Masha will be leading off the Harry Potter discussions for the next few weeks, as a Lenten act of mercy. Thanks, M—you're the best!

Special thanks to all of you who wished me luck, prayed for me, and/or thought of me Saturday! I survived the SAT. I won't know how well I did till March 27, but I survived.

Story time!

The administrators gave us the same basic list of warnings a jury is given before they're allowed to go home at night, so: instead of swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I'll solemnly vow to say nothing that matters. :)

Gratuitous Nyquil would've been a good idea the night before, except that it usually leaves me feeling drugged for twelve hours straight. Not wanting to go to bed at six PM, I opted for lying awake from five AM onward with my brain racing from anxiety. Judging from the lost look on many dozens of teenage faces at seven-thirty, this was a common choice.

Me trying to figure out the self-timer on my new camera.
This is not the look we were wearing, but it's about equally flattering.

I expected to feel old, but mostly I felt as young and lost as my fellow students—and, in fact, nearly got myself and a very young-looking junior actually lost trying to find the meeting place, which turned out to be the exact same room as the lecture had been in Friday night. It's a good thing the SAT doesn't test ability to read maps.

Feeling like a teenager again was a good exercise in empathy. At some point during the morning I took to reminding myself of Friday's lecture, because that was college, and that was fun. The SAT is high school, and high school sucks. I realize that cheating is a common and serious problem, but I began wondering where the classroom leaves off and juvenile detention begins. I hate feeling distrusted. The experience made me more grateful than ever for having been homeschooled.*

At one point, I felt every day of my age: when one of the proctors got sharp with the kids and an aid started pushing them around and scolding them with, "Do you not know what a straight line is?" From halfway across the room, with rows of fixed chairs and confused teenagers between us, I couldn't do anything, but I wanted to march up to her and explain the mathematical improbability of forcing a hundred and some stressed, sleepy young people to line themselves up alphabetically against a wall far too short for them to do anything but crowd against.

Fortunately for my third of the crowd—perhaps fifty students—a proctor with the inestimable advantage of a warm smile took charge of us and marched us up campus to a different classroom.

A girl from Surrey struck up a pleasant conversation with me en route, perhaps out of kindness to the shy stranger built like a Number Two pencil. After a few minutes of chatting, she said: "What grade are you in—eleventh or twelfth? I'm guessing twelfth." I had very warm feelings toward her for the rest of the day, and prayed for her a lot.

The back to Lou's calculator got confiscated for the duration of the test. "It has writing on it." The tiny instruction sheet for using the calculator, really?

The biggest emotional advantage I was given, next to having a nice proctor, was being seated against a wall. I gravitate to walls and corners, especially when I'm stressed. They're stabilizing.

Someone had drawn a dead or exhausted anime character on my desk. Despite the lack of ponytail, he reminded me of Edward Elric. That made me sad, so I told myself he was only exhausted, and commiserated frequently with him throughout the morning.

My second-favorite alchemist. (Dumbledore is my favorite. <3)

Aside from my old friend Fullmetal, the desk was a joke, especially for a southpaw like myself. To take practice tests with comparable difficulty, I'd have had to rivet a bicycle seat to the right side of a chair and try to balance test book, pencil, answer sheet, and calculator on that.

Fortunately, I did not have to share desk space with the cat.

As for the three hours and forty-five minutes of actual testing, here are details that shouldn't compromise the integrity of the test itself:
  • I quoted The Oatmeal in my essay. The quote I wanted to use was much cruder than the one I actually used.
  • I have never, as far as I can remember, failed to finish a reading comprehension test in the time allotted—until Saturday. Hopefully the curve they grade that one on will be forgiving.
  • Whenever I got to one of the correct-this-crappy-writing sections, I forgot I was testing and started mouthing the words, gesturing, and otherwise thoroughly enjoying the work of proofreading. The proctors were kindhearted enough to not throw me out for this.
  • My algebra score could go either way. I lost my head in the final five minutes of the final math section, tried to solve four problems at once, and failed to solve any of them.
At the end I let the weary crowd of teenagers lead the way out, and briefly felt my age again upon catching a group of teenage boys staring at me. I wanted to give them the evil eye, but I was too tired, so I looked away and let them stare. At last I commiserated one last time with Ed, collected the back to Lou's calculator, smiled at the proctors, and walked out into a downpour.

And felt very young and shy and exhausted indeed, as blast after blast of wind and rain hit me over the five minutes it took to walk to the car. I forced myself not to run till I hit the parking lot, and then I made a dash for it. I got into the car, looked at my dripping face and half-drenched hair in the mirror, laughed and let my throat tighten up, turned on the heater full blast, and drove home.

Lou met me at the door, propped me up, and took me downtown to Bob's for burgers and coffee, the latter of which I creamed the heck out of, Lent notwithstanding. I'm not sure anything ever tasted better than that coffee.

* There's nothing like homeschooling to nip a cheating mentality in the bud. My mom caught me behind the couch with the answer section of my math book open when I was about six, and that was the end of that.


The Night Before Test Day and other stories

This has been the sort of day where your morning meeting goes twice as long as normal, after which you cram in a practice SAT test, clean the house in a mad flurry, drive your car up to the school, park your car illegally for fifteen minutes because you can't find the parking meter, and promptly get lost—and you're absurdly cheerful the whole time, possibly because you had coffee.

Which is the one thing I pretty much absolutely refused to give up for Lent. :)

The day didn't leave much time for blogging, especially considering how early I have to be up to take the test. But we'll see what I can do. Don't worry, George—I haven't forgotten how important it is to include one of these:

* * *

Dear God, please let the SAT administered tomorrow be one of the ones I can score a 580 on math on, rather than a 540 like I scored the other day. And please let my calculator and my brain work. That's about all I'm begging for, although I wouldn't complain if the essay question happened to be interesting.

* * *

I think the sunshine had as much to do with my good mood as the coffee. "Partly cloudy and warm enough to walk outside with coat unbuttoned" felt wonderful after "so cold you can feel it seeping through the walls" and "more snow than rainy little Bellingham has any idea what to do with." Look—unexpected flowers:

* * *

The day was so busy that I almost didn't make the trip up to the school for the philosophy lecture, though it was recommended around choir by a friend and I'd sort of halfway said I'd go. Fifteen minutes before I had to make up my mind or else, I looked up the abstract to Dr. Zagzebski's Epistemic Authority:  A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief, her book and her lecture topic, just to see how much I wanted to hear her speak—and decided immediately that I couldn't miss it.

Imagery in Harry Potter originally gave me the concept to explain my intellectual relationship to religion, a concept that allowed me to choose to trust despite deep agnostic leanings. It was beyond fascinating to hear some of my thought processes put into academic terminology, to see the tension between the claims of authority and the claims of individual judgment expressed philosophically—a tension I still wrestle with, thanks to some of the same difficulties that questioning students were trying to camouflage behind safe examples.

I'm going to love college so much, you guys. Even if I have to take algebra. I might love that, too.

* * *

That's all I've got for tonight; I've still got to play the piano and make sure I'm prepared to show up for the SAT with everything I need (number two pencils, ticket, driver's license, calculator) and without anything that will get me thrown out (cell phone, friend's digital recorder that needs returning and has therefore spent time riding around in my purse, mechanical pencils and pens). CollegeBoard's test day page terrifies me. I feel like I'm going to the airport and therefore need to put everything into clear plastic one-quart zip-lock baggies and expect to be full-body scanned sans shoes. But most things are not quite as bad as anxiety makes them out to be.

Happy weekend!


Harry Potter, Lent, and Lolcat Syntax

...and the Oxford comma, because it rocks.

I just got a proofreading job!!!! (Wait—am I allowed to indulge in unnecessary exclamation points while claiming status as a professional proofreader? That might be a display of questionable judgment.)

Anyhow, my former employers have hired me back, and I have been doing random little happy dances for the thirty hours since the call came. In celebration of that and of National Grammar Day:

I love this so much... but we're not finished here.
The original writer's first sentence should end in a question mark,
the comma in the second should be a semicolon or em dash,
and "troubleshoot" should be written as one word.
Yes, lolcat syntax does make me want to claw my eyes out.

Today is also Carnival, and Lent starts tomorrow. Because Lent is always a good time to mix things up, and because Christie is moving to Wales and I'm transitioning into a workday schedule again, and because Masha is a good sport and game for anything, we're slowing down (yes, further) on the Harry Potter read-through for these next few weeks and focusing on the subject of love in the first three novels. As Masha said:
I want to talk about family love and friendship and charity and hope..I know Jenna and Christie have a book's worth of thoughts to share on the topic, and I'm looking forward to your reflections as well! Excited? I am!
I fear it may be hard to defend my ideas about love in the first three novels without referencing the endings of books five and seven, but I'll try. Whether I can get "a book's worth of thoughts" out of my brain and onto this blog remains to be seen, however, as does the matter of whether Christie can post anything at all till she's settled in her new home. The point, though, is that the book club will go on!

For tonight, however, I'm going to go celebrate while I can. Happy Carnival, and blessed Ash Wednesday!