rebecca_in_blue: (red riding hood)
I had such a strange dream last night. I was in a very small, crowded attic room with Sara, Adam, and one of my old college poetry professors. The room was full of fancy, old-fashioned furniture, like a bed on a very ornate brass stand, with lace-trimmed sheets and pillows. The windows were open, and outside I could see sunshine and leafy green tree branches. We were there for a poetry class. It was a regular thing for us, and we always started the class with one of us reading a poem of our choice. In the dream, it was my turn, but I had forgotten to bring my poetry book, so I decided to recite one instead. I have a number of poems memorized, but for some reason, I chose one that I didn't know all that well, "Hope," by Emily Dickinson.

This poem was in my tenth-grade English textbook, accompanied by the below painting (which I only remember because I was pretty big into René Magritte in high school). I really loved it when I first read it, and since then, my liking for it has waned, but it's still okay.



La grande famille, 1963 oil-painting by René Magritte

Anyway, back to my dream. I recited the first stanza perfectly.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

I got most of the second stanza right, only messed up on a few words.

And sweetest in the gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

But I couldn't remember the third stanza at all. In reality, it's this:

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea
Yet, never, in extremity
It asked a crumb of me

But in the dream, I blanked and instead recited this stanza from another Dickinson poem, "Morning," which I've had memorized ever since I read it in our Childcraft Poems & Rhymes book as I kid. It's pretty obviously from a different poem than the previous stanzas of "Hope," but no one in the dream noticed.

Has it feet like water lilies?
Has it feathers like a bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I've never heard?
rebecca_in_blue: (red riding hood)
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Always happy to share a poem. I went to my copy of Good Poems for Hard Times and opened it at random.

The Longly-Weds Know
By Leah Furnas


That it isn’t about the Golden Anniversary at all,
But about all the unremarkable years
that Hallmark doesn’t even make a card for.

It’s about the 2nd anniversary when they were surprised
to find they cared for each other more than last year.

And the 4th when both kids had chickenpox
and she threw her shoe at him for no real reason.

And the 6th when he accidentally got drunk on the way home from work
because being a husband and father was so damn hard.

It’s about the 11th and 12th and 13th years
when they discovered they could survive crisis.

And the 22nd anniversary when they looked
at each other across the empty nest, and found it good.

It’s about the 37th year when she finally
decided she could never change him.

And the 38th when he decided a little change wasn’t that bad.

It’s about the 46th anniversary when they both bought cards, and forgot to give them to each other.

But most of all it’s about the end of the 49th year when they discovered
you don’t have to be old to have your 50th anniversary!!!!!
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)
Lately we've been having our air conditioner on during the day and our heater on at night. Last night, I woke up twice -- once to crank the heater up because I was cold, then again to turn it down and open a window because I was so hot! Ugh! But November is always pretty up-and-down in Louisiana, so I guess I should be used to it.

Tomorrow is my last day of freedom before heading back to work, and ugh, I really cannot bear the thought of going back to the salt mines on Monday. Here's a little recap of my staycation:

On Thursday night, we all got together for lasagna dinner at Grandma's new house. Her doctor has diagnosed her with spinal stenosis (I think) and she's had to start walking with a cane. After that, Sara and I stayed out late visiting with Athena. I'm so glad I got to see her, because the last time she was in town, I had to work and hardly got to see her at all.

On Friday, I spent most of the day baking, frosting, and decorating about fifty cupcakes while watching a Criminal Minds marathon, pausing only to bike to the grocery store for more muffin cups. Then I got dressed up, did my hair in a new style that actually looked okay, and took them all to temple, where we were having ... a bar mitzvah! We had a bat mitzvah at our temple back in May, but I didn't go for a few reasons. (I had to work, I wasn't a Jew yet, and I didn't really know the family. This family has been super-nice and welcoming to me.) The bar mitzvah boy did so well -- like I would know the difference if he screwed up -- and the reception afterwards was delicious! Unfortunately, my cupcakes were not as popular as I'd hoped. Oh, well.

Today I went to Torah study in the morning (talmud torah: the mitzvah of Jewish learning, and the single most important mitzvot of them all), ran some errands in the afternoon, and saw a local theater production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" that I just got back from (zikaron: the mitzvah of remembrance). I've always known a lot about Anne Frank -- I did three school projects on her back in middle school -- but I was unprepared for how much seeing the play would effect me. Maybe because I'm Jewish now. Maybe because seeing people act it out right in front of me made it so much more real than the book and movies. Either way, I was bawling through the last two scenes, and I do not cry easily -- unlike my mom, who was suspiciously dry-eyed the entire time. It was almost like watching a horror move, only scarier because you know what's coming, and you know that it all really happened.

It Is Raining on the House of Anne Frank
By Linda Pastan
{I bought Good Poems for Hard Times on our last trip to Houston and opened it at random for the first time to this poem.}

It is raining on the house
of Anne Frank
and on the tourists
herded together under the shadow
of their umbrellas,
on the perfectly silent
tourists who would rather be
somewhere else
but who wait here on stairs
so steep they must rise
to some occasion
high in the empty loft,
in the quaint toilet,
in the skeleton
of a kitchen
or on the map --
each of its arrows
a barb of wire --
with all the dates, the expulsions,
the forbidding shapes
of continents.
And across Amsterdam it is raining
on the Van Gogh Museum
where we will hurry next
to see how someone else
could find the pure
center of light
within the dark circle
of demons.
rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)
I figure that maybe if I make a post sending summer on its way, cool weather will get here sooner. Please? To recap a few things, this summer Rebecca got wet... in a mikvah in Baton Rouge, at Blue Bayou waterpark in Baton Rouge, at a much smaller local waterpark, bike-riding in the rain, and washing her car. Which reminds me, I've got to get the oil changed on that thing.

This summer, Rebecca heard wunderbar... in X-Men: First Class (Kevin Bacon's character says it near the beginning) and in Kiss Me, Kate (Mr. G was in a local production, and it's the title of a beautiful song the two main characters sing; "What a bright and shining star / Like our love is wunderbar"). Wunderbar is the German word for wonderful. I also participated in my first ficathon and officially converted to Judaism!


Summer for thee, grant I may be
When Summer days are flown!
Thy music still, when Whipporwill
And Oriole—are done!


(The image is from my trip to the Jewish section of the cemetery with Sara. The poem is from my Emily Dickinson calendar.)

27 DAYS LEFT until the Season 9 premiere of NCIS!
rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)

After work today, Sara and I went for a walk in the cemetery, then I rode my bike over to Grandma's to pick tomatoes for her. (That's what I love about summer. The days are long enough to pack a lot into them.) Grandma seems to have given up on watering and/or picking from her garden since she's about to move, so I spent about five minutes just sitting on the grass picking all the cherry tomatoes in reach. The bellpepper and cucumber plants both looked so withered and sad, and as I was watering them, it occurred to me that by this time next month, Grandma will probably be completely moved out of that house. She's lived there for 47 years! It doesn't seem possible.

I've been meaning to post these photos for a while. They're not great, because I used the GE rather than the Kodak. (The Kodak has better picture quality, but the GE has way more storage space and its batteries last longer.) I took them over the last month or so. They make me think of the June words of my Emily Dickinson calendar:


A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer's morn -
A flask of Dew - a Bee or two -
A Breeze - a caper in the trees -
And I'm a Rose!


Louisiana Flowers and Fresh Produce of Rebecca's Neighborhood (Lots of Photos) )

I took a few good photos in the cemetery today, but I will share those later. (Update: Well, I only ever got around to posting one, but you can see it here.)
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)

From "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"
By Robert Browning
Published 1842

When, lo, as they reached the mountainside,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountainside shut fast.
Did I say all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,
"It's dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can't forget that I'm bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me.

For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And everything was strange and new;
And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!''

__________

"The One Who Stayed"
By Shel Silverstein

Published 1974
 

You should have heard the old men cry,
You should have heard the biddies
When that sad stranger raised his flute
And piped away the kiddies.

Katy, Tommy, Meg and Bob
All followed, skipping gaily,
Red-haired Ruth, my brother Rob,
And little crippled Bailey,

John and Nils and Cousin Claire,
Dancin', spinnin', turnin'
'Cross the hills to God knows where --
They never came returnin'.

'Cross the hills to God knows where
That piper pranced, a-leadin'
Every child in Hamlin Town but me,
And I stayed home unheedin'.

My papa says that I was blest
For if that music found me,
I'd be witch-cast like all the rest.
This town grows old around me.

I cannot say I did not hear
That sound so haunting hollow --
I heard, I heard, I heard it clear.
I was afraid to follow.
rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)

What would you think if one morning you woke up with these lines running through your head? 

     And one was safe and asleep in his bed,
     Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
     Who later that day would be lying dead,
     Pierced by a British musket ball.

Ominous, right? It's a stanza from "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," and for some reason it was stuck in my head when I woke up on Friday. That was also the day I had to go back to New Orleans to get my car, and I was convinced it was a sign that this trip would be even worse than the last one. Fortunately, that was not the case. I caught a ride there with my Jewish grandparents, and they treated me to lunch with their daughter and granddaughter. They are so nice to me, it doesn't make sense. Muse Watson and I both got home in one piece, although the drive back was exhausting and I all but collapsed in bed when it was over. (My own fault for staying up too late the night before reading Liz Taylor obituaries!) Anyway, it is so wonderful to have a car again!

One of our neighbors bought a bed for Graycat, the cat who lives in the stairwell. It's on the landing, and Sable has taken to lying in it whenever he comes in from a walk. I practically have to pry him out of it. It's not as if the spoiled old dog doesn't have two beds of his own!

And for no reason, two videos that Sara and I have been watching. This one is "The Purim Song," by The Maccabeats, an amazing acapella Jewish band. (Last winter, they did an equally awesome song about Hanukkah called "Candlelight.") The lyrics explain the origins of the holiday, if you're not familiar with it. It's a tweaked version of "Raise Your Glass," by Pink, which is also a great song, although the video for it is damn disturbing.

(And check out Harry Potter at 2:23!)

This is "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," from the old musical Cabaret. The song is actually quite lovely and damn catchy, although I can't quite get past the fact that it's sung by a Hitler Youth member and that when the crowd joins in, they're practically foaming at the mouth! Scary.

P.S. Right now I'm in another window trying to compose a letter to ask a woman I've met only two times if she'd do my mikvah for me. That's not weird, is it? What's that? Oh, it is weird? Never mind.

rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)

One thing I had wanted to do during my vacation was make a trip to New Orleans to see the cemeteries. (I have heard the cemeteries there are beautiful, almost on the level of Pere Lachaise.) My plan to make a two-day trip and spend the night there was the first thing to fall through. I had hoped that a friend of mine would go with me, and that fell through next. I wasn't exactly thrilled about driving to Nola and back by myself in one day (+3 hours), but I've wanted to see the cemeteries there for so long, so yesterday morning, I set out.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer youself in any direction you choose.


The trip was smooth until I actually got to Nola. Rebecca made some stupid decisions, namely traveling by herself to a strange city without bringing a map. In my defense, I had only wanted to see the cemeteries, which are just off the interstate and should've been easy to find. But it turns out that Nola is full of twists and turns, one-way streets, the biggest potholes I've ever seen, and roundabouts (which I haven't seen since I left Europe)!

And if you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up her mind.

My nerves got good and frazzled, and then... I had my first car crash. I was at fault. No one was injured. The guy I hit said it was a bad intersection where wrecks had happened before. He didn't have any damage except for a flat tire, but poor Muse Watson (my car) was in bad shape. I drove to the closest auto repair place I could find, and they said they could fix him but it would take a week. I didn't know anyone in Nola and had to call my mom to come get me. Call me a wuss, but it was damn scary. It was my first wreck and I was so shaken-up. I had no idea how much it would cost to fix Muse Watson, or if my insurance would cover it, or if the guy I hit might sue me, etc. I wanted to scream, cry, and hit something, but I didn't. I forced myself to stay calm through the whole ordeal. I try very hard not to panic in emergencies, and I think this time, I did it.

I'm sorry to say, but sadly, it's true
that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.


I had no car and about four hours to kill in a strange neighborhood. First I waited in the repair shop lobby and read People magazines until they closed. Then I sat in a tiny bookstore until they closed (I bought Letters from Rifka to read while I waited). Then I browsed around in a pet store until they closed. Then I took a stroll around the neighborhood. Once out of my car, I saw Nola is a beautiful city. The area was so urban. There were corner delis and cafes, businesses and churches, flowers in bloom, and beautiful old houses with balconies draped with Mardi Gras beads and wrought-iron gates topped with fleur de lis. I wanted to take pictures, but my hands were too shaky.

All alone! Whether you like it or not,
alone will be something you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll see things that scare you right out of your pants.


I was eating dinner in a Subway when Mom called me, screaming at me for directions to where I was. (Apparently she, like me, map-quested worthless directions.) I had to run to a Wal-Green's and buy a city map, then ask directions from a sheriff. Staying calm in emergencies is not Mom's strong suit. It was the most stressful part of the day. It took almost another hour for her to find me.

Today I called my insurance company and the repair place in New Orleans. Muse Watson will be fixed by next Friday, and all I have to pay is the deductible. I keep telling myself that at least no one was hurt... except my pride, my good driving record, and my car. I can't stop beating myself up about it all!

But I do have some good news: Grandma's making spaghetti tomorrow, and on Sunday, I plan to celebrate Purim for the first time with a festival at the temple. I'm a bit nervous about that becaue I have no idea what it'll be like. Tuesday is the first of three new NCIS episodes (starting with Out of the Frying Pan), and I can't wait to see how the storylines with Ray and EJ will play out!

My poor Muse Watson!

So be sure where you step. Step with care and great tact,
and remember that life's a great balancing act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft,
and never mix up your right foot with your left!

rebecca_in_blue: (bemused shrug)

Today was the second day of... Rebecca's vacation! I have been accruing vacation time at work for some time now, but I didn't want to use it until I had my own vehicle. I'm not sure why, since I won't really be going anywhere. This will be more of a staycation than a vacation, but I'm not complaining because it feels so good to know that I won't even have to think about work for another week! I haven't been up to much, but here's a recap of the first two days:

Yesterday morning I biked to the temple for Torah study and kibbutzed with the rabbi afterwards, about converting. He said I was "new-ish to Jewish." Haha. I was sweating like a Baptist preacher, paranoid that they wouldn't let me in, but the rabbi said he could have me converted by fall of this year! (Holy Moly! Fall suddenly feels really soon!) But I'm looking forward to it and hope to make it happen. On the bike ride home from temple, I saw my mom working in her front yard and ended up having lunch at her house. (She made red beans & rice and apple muffins that couldn't compare to Grandma's. But then, no one can.) I can't quite account for this; Torah study must have left me in a very good mood.

We had to move our clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time last night, but I still woke up early and biked back to temple to help out with the annual corned beef sandwich sale. It's a very big deal, and everyone turns out to help put the meals together. It's a quarter-pound corned beef sandwich, a bag of chips, a pickle, and a cookie. I and a few other people had the job of bagging pickles in the kitchen. We bagged over 1700 pickles! Can you imagine what torture it was for pickle-loving Rebecca, who wanted to eat every pickle she saw but only got about five? But the temple ordered pizza for us -- since we were there bagging pickles for six hours! -- so I can't complain.

And tomorrow morning I'll be going back to the temple once more to put the finish touches on assembling the sandwiches. I'm not even sure what that entails, but it will be my fourth consecutive day there (since I went to Shabbat services on Friday night) and I'm beginning to think I should just move in, change my name to Rebecca Cohen, and be done with it.

Tonight I finally gave an old patchy dog I know a bath. He is not happy.

P.S. I feel like Robert Frost in "After Apple-Picking" (the only poem I can not only recite, but perform) except in my case, it's "After Pickle-Bagging." I was so exhausted when I got home that as soon as I walked Sable, I crashed on our couch.

"There were seventeen hundred spears to cut, shake the juice from, bag up, but never eat!"
(I tried to tweak the entire poem, but this was the only line I could do.

rebecca_in_blue: (raised eyebrows)

Any guesses as to where Rebecca was at five this morning? She was lying in bed, eating chocolate chip cookie dough out of tub! And at five this evening, I was listening to my bad-ass Cajun grandma mumble to herself in French while she cooked pumpkin muffins. Not a bad day.

So far this weekend, we've turned off our air conditioning and turned on the heater, I've gotten out my thermal underwear again, and tomorrow we turn our clocks back an hour. I guess there's no more denying that winter is upon us. I still managed to ride my bike to the temple on Friday night, but it was so cold and dark, I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it up. Fortunately there was a dinner of lentil soup after the service (because we read the Torah portion where Esau trades his birthright for a bowl of lentils) that stuck to my ribs and kept me warm on the way home. I let Graycat in for part of the night, because it was so cold where he was sleeping on the stairs, but I had to put him out again when I started wheezing. Sable hasn't had hair in so long that I'd forgotten how much of a problem pet hair used to be for me.

Rebecca hates winter! *grumble grumble* Why is it that summer seemed to drag on forever, but fall was over before I could blink? Oh wait, because I live in Louisiana. In the final words of my Emily Dickinson calendar:
     It can't be Summer! That got through!
     Too early, yet, for Spring!
     There's that long town of White to cross
     Before the Blackbirds sing.

rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)

After years of constantly losing them, finding them, losing them, and finding them again, I seem to have finally lost my glasses. As in, for good. I still can't really believe it, because after being lost, dropped, sat on, stepped on, etc. for so long, I thought those glasses could survive anything. I've been wearing my contacts almost exclusively, so it's not a huge deal. The only time I really miss them is when I walk Sable before bed, because I don't want to bother putting them in just for that, but I'm a wuss and don't like going outside at night without being able to see well.

Eva's birthday was yesterday; she turned 13. I did some calculating and figured out that by the time she turns 20, my aunt and uncle will have had at least one teenage daughter for almost twenty. Solid. Years.

I finally finished reading Shutter Island and watched the movie, but I still haven't started Mockingjay (the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy, just released last week) yet. I think Sara and I are each waiting for the other one to buy a copy. And Athena is waiting for either of us to buy it. But for some reason, I'm not as anxious to read this one as I was with the second book, Catching Fire. Maybe because it's the last book and I don't want it to be over. Or maybe because the bad-fanfiction ending of Harry Potter scarred me for life. *shudder*

I'm so glad fall is (almost) here. Fall is the best season for bike riding, and I hope to enjoy as much of it as I can before winter sets in, because winter is the fucking worst season for it. To quote my calendar of Emily Dickinson poetry (I used to absolutely hate her stuff, but for some reason, she's grown on me in recent years):
     And thus, without a Wing
     Or service of a Keel
     Our Summer made her light escape
     Into the Beautiful

 
Best of all, fall means the Season 8 premiere of NCIS is closer! than! ever!

rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)

It's dark out, but when I went to walk Sable a minute ago, I could smell a barbeque nearby, hear kids playing down the block, and see my neighbor smoking on her steps. I love summer. I went for a bike ride this afternoon, and an important thing to keep in mind when bike riding in the summer is to go through any sprinklers you see. I don't mean cut across people's lawns, but if the sprinkler is hitting the sidewalk, stand under the water.

I also went by Grandma's house and watered her garden for her. She gave me four more fresh-picked cucumbers, which was nice of her, except for the fact that I already have an entire crisper full of cucumbers from her. I'm eating them with every meal and still drowning in them! Help! 

Me to Sara this morning, after her laughing at an old lady in the grocery parking lot who seemed to have no idea why she was holding onto a shopping cart: "Stop making fun of old people!" Sara: "Why don't you just ask me to lay down and die?"

I'm currently compiling a wish list of things I want to happen in Season 8 of NCIS. It's getting quite long. Will be posted closer to the season premiere; I plan to refer back to it and check off things if/when they happen.

And for no reason:
    The oil says it's coming for my state.
    My asthma says this time I won't survive.
    My worst fears say I won't like Season 8.
    My dog says, "Well, at least I'm still alive."
 
        --
My horrible parody of the excellent poem My Agent Says.

rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)

On Thursday night, I finally got around to doing laundry and slightly rearranging our living room. I got rid of the printer that we almost never used and the end table that served no purpose. (I'm planning to put a little table and chair in its place.) Also baked brownies, because Sara'd been nagging me to, but didn't eat any; went to Chick-a-Fil for dinner, which I rarely do because it's pretty far from our apartment; and watched The Goonies on TV. It's so weird watching that movie on TV, not only because they edit the hell out of it -- the penis-on-the-statue scene is gone, of course -- but also because it's very weird for me to watch it without the commentary track. I fell asleep to that countless nights in France.

On Friday morning, I woke up around six to stomach cramps so bad that I almost passed out on the bathroom floor. Sara told me later that I looked as pathetic as Sable. My Chick-a-Fil dinner made its reappearance soon after, and what disturbed me the most was that it had turned a very ugly, sleet gray color during its stay in my stomach. I've been through more than my share of barfing, but I'm pretty sure it's never been gray before. I called in sick to work and spent the rest of the day sleeping and moaning. That afternoon I roused myself enough to drive in a painkiller-induced haze to Office Depot and Goodwill, where I found a copy of the "Poems & Rhymes" volume of Childcraft that's almost identical to the one we used to have! I read this book constantly as a kid and have been missing it for so long. Sara and I spent the evening reading poetry, which was awesome. I love shouting out, "Or does it explode?" and "Invictus!" "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din" is also fun to say.

Adam's birthday was today, and we spent it with the Mormons. He had a cookie cake with Cotton on it, and I gave him a hollow book that he actually seemed to like. I ate their food, swung on their swing, and played with their puppy, but had to leave suddenly when they all ganged up on me and tried to hug me.

I'm planning to go to the cemetery (and possibly to Mom's house) on Memorial Day and can't wait. The local chapter of Sons of the American Revolution will be putting up an Avenue of Flags!

rebecca_in_blue: (subtle sigh)
Mom, Ben, Adam, and I took a trip to Houston on Saturday, and unlike most trips anywhere with my family, it was actually enjoyable, even though it's a lot frickin' colder in Houston than it is here. Easily the best part was eating lunch at Star Pizza in the village. We had an appetizer of baked goat cheese with olive oil and tomato on bread, and I had pizza with mozerella, feta, and goat cheese. It was so good, when I finished, I pushed back my chair and said, "I pity everyone in the world who wasn't me while I was eating that meal." (Okay, writing about it was a mistake. I just ate dinner, but now I'm hungry again!)

After lunch, we went to the Chocolate Bar, Candylicious, and Half-Price Books. I hadn't bought anything at Half-Price in a long time, but on this visit I actually found some good stuff: a copy of Robert Browning's The Pied Piper of Hamelin with illustrations by Kate Greenaway (which I didn't buy, even though her pictures were awesome, because I already have that poem in at least one of my poetry anthologies, and I really only like the second half of it), and GK's Good Poems for Hard Times. I also found a copy of RLS's A Child's Garden of Verses, which I didn't buy because it wasn't a very good copy, but it reminded me of how much I want that book. Think I'll buy one online. 

After that we went to the movies and then out to dinner with Mark and Vickie. We ate at some seafood resteraunt, and even though I don't really like seafood, I did drink my first ever Shirley Temple! It was Sprite with cherry syrup -- very yummy and quite worthy of Shirley's name.

Things I will never like: The sound of dishes banging together. It's absolutely the worst sound in the world. When I wash dishes or put them in the cabinet, I always try to do it with finesse, not to make noise. My mom always did it as loudly as possible (and probably still does), to the point where I either had to leave the kitchen or grab the dishes from her and put them up myself. Words cannot describe how much I hate that noise.

rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)

Jesus fought the urge to laugh Jesus wept.

Some people are like oceans.
You can drown in them.

You don't even have the will to die.

Smile now, I am gone.
Don't hold on for too long.
The rope'll slip away.

At what age did I first wage the war against happiness?
When did I first side with sadness?
A long time ago.

Oh, the noise the skeletons make
trying on new bodies.

I want to be too sad for comfort.

Scar tissue heals
but never feels again.

These lines and verses were written by Anno Birkin, a British musician who died in 2001, at age 20. His family found them written in his notebooks, on loose scraps of paper, and (some of them) on the walls of his apartment after his death.

rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)

I used part of my Christmas money to buy some new pants for work today. They're really nice. I also want to get a new set of dog dishses for Sable.

Posted for no reason, here are my favorite poems to read before going to bed. Comments by Rebecca in red. 

After Apple-Picking, Robert Frost )

 

I have many poems memorized, but this is the only one that I cannot only recite, but perform. Probably my favorite of Frost's poetry. 

The Brook, Alfred Lord Tennyson )

I really loved this poem when I first discovered it in middle school. Since then, my liking for it has waned (it borders on too perfect, too picturesque, and too much like a damn Thomas Kinkade painting) but I still enjoy reading it.

City, Langston Hughes )

This poem and many others on this list (actually, most of them) are from an anthology of children's poetry that Sara gave me a few Christmases ago. Hughes paints the best urban landscapes.

The Coming of the Teddy Bears, Dennis Lee )

I love this poem. Its use of words is so creative (like "the dark is drowsy") and it's extraordinary in how well it captures the nonsensical mind of a tired child. Just reading it makes me feel sleepy. It's anyone's guess as to why this poem isn't better known.

Hoeing, John Updike )

I doubt I'll ever read another poem that makes me want to hoe a field so much.

Lie in the Dark and Listen, Noel Coward )

Isn't it obvious just from the title that this is an amazing poem?

My Shadow, Robert Louis Stevenson )

I love so many poems from A Child's Garden of Verses. I really should buy a copy of that book. My grandparents were such Stevenson fans that they named my aunt Alison after Stevenson's nanny, to whom the book is dedicated ("To Alison Cunningham, from her boy").

Night Mail, WH Auden )

This is probably one of my favorite poems of all time. What is there not to love? The final line almost makes me cry.

Poem To Be Read at 3am, Donald Justice )

This is from Garrison Keillor's compilation of Good Poems. There are a lot poems more in that book that are good to read before bed, but I couldn't possibly include them all.

The Rain, Robert Louis Stevenson )

Another one from A Child's Garden of Verses. I cannot remember a time when I didn't know and love this poem.

Rain in the Night, Amelia Josephine Burr )

One of my favorites from our old Childcraft volume of "Poems & Rhymes."

Requiem, Robert Louis Stevenson )

Dad liked this poem.

Summer Storm, Dana Gioia )

So devastatingly sad and beautiful.

Still the Dark Forest, WH Auden )

Children's poems can sometimes be too cute and simple, but this one is remarkably sophisticated and somber, even a little sad.

To Sleep, William Wordsworth )

Nothing can put you to sleep so well as a poem about insomnia.

Trees, Harry Behn )

It's a poem as lovely as a tree! (Who said they would never see one?)

We'll Go No More A-Roaving )

Discovered in my British Literature survey class in 2006, along with a lot of other really great poems.

What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, Edna St. Vincent Millay )


I've never read a poem by Millay that I didn't love. But then, has anyone?


rebecca_in_blue: (red riding hood)

This afternoon I went to the library and came home with a huge armful of books, more than I'm actually going to read, I'm sure. I haven't been reading as much lately, probably because the weather's so much nicer and I haven't been stuck inside. No, not because I've been wasting all my time on YouTube. Of course not. There was a booksale at the library, and I found a VHS episode of the old '90s ('80s?) Baby-Sitters Club TV show. I'm going to show it to Sara as soon as she wakes up. I also got a collection of 20th-century ghost stories (I'd checked it out once before but never finished reading it) and one of 17th-century poetry. One of my new year resolutions for 2009 was to read one poem a day, but I haven't been living up to it. Older poems are some of my favorite ones to read aloud. Grammar, style, and everything else was so different back then, it's almost like reading in a different language.

From the library I went straight to another fantastic visit to a cemetery. It reminded me of this day last spring when I spent hours wandering around the Pere Lachaise in Paris. This cemetery wasn't as big or as famous, but the weather was just as nice, and while the Pere Lachaise was crowded, today I didn't see another single person in the cemetery the entire time I was there. I wandered around, took pictures, and read from my poetry book. Folks in the 17th-century seriously loved to write about death. I could open the book to a random page and almost always find something about dying.

Lots of cemetery pictures here... )


A few more cemetery pictures to come. I'd post them now, but I should be going to bed. Check back to this post.
rebecca_in_blue: (dropped jaw)

I swear sometimes I think it's a plot. It seems like every day I have off from work, it decides to be cold and wet. For example, today it was sunny with not a cloud in the sky, but yesterday, when I was off, it rained almost all day and I didn't get to ride my bike. I haven't been bike riding all year! Haha. But seriously, it's been a while and the number of cans littering my neighborhood sickens me. Must go soon.

But I know the weather won't go on like this forever. When I walked outside today, I noticed a big patch of clover that had sprouted in the grass on the other side of the driveway, a sign that spring is coming. (Isn't this funny, I'm talking about the seasons as if they actually exist in Louisiana.) It was a much paler shade of green than the grass, almost shockingly so. Something else pretty I saw: I was running errands yesterday when the sun made a brief appearence. Since it had been raining, the whole world was still wet, and when the sun came out, the whole world started shining. I was driving past a used car lot at the time and the gleam off those cars could've blinded me. (I live off a busy street, and there's a stretch further down that has almost nothing but used cars dealerships on either side. Those of you who know me know exactly where I mean.)

And yesterday was a productive day off anyway. I cleaned, vacuumed, (finally) took down the Christmas stuff, and redecorated a little. I hung up the big picture frame that I made for Dad in Christmas 2001, and I created a gallery of children's literature on our kitchen wall by making copies out of our favorite kid books.

Gallery of Children's Literature )

 "Duck Weather," by Shirley Hughes
Splishing, splashing in the rain
Up the street and back again
Stomping, stamping through the flood
We don't mind a bit of mud
Running pavements, gutters flowing
All the cars with wipers going
We don't care about the weather
Tramping hand in hand together
We don't mind a damp wet day
Sloshing puddles all the way
Splishing, splashing in the rain
Up the street and back again

rebecca_in_blue: (Default)

I got up early this morning to go to another job interview. The woman who interviewed me said something interesting, which was that there are a lot more people in our area looking for jobs right now than usual. It made me feel a little better, like it's not entirely my fault that things haven't worked out yet (and probably never will).

As part of my research for findagrave.com, I went by the library and checked out a true crime book about thirteen murders committed in southern Louisiana between 1896 and 1940. Three of those murders happened within bike-riding distance, and two of those were never solved.

It's rained a lot this week. I love riding my bike right after a rain, because the streets are full of puddles that reflect the green branches of the Live Oak trees, and it makes the world seem like a big green cave, which is cool. It reminds me of Langston Hughes's poem "In Time of Silver Rain," which I love because it was included in our copy of Childcraft Poems & Rhymes, a book I grew up reading (and still can't find!).

In time of silver rain
The butterflies
Lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth
New leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,
In time of silver rain
      When spring
      And life
      Are new.

And speaking of poetry, I have a second YouTube channel; these videos all involve poetry and might be of interest to those of you who are less interested in child actresses.
http://www.youtube.com/FilmPoems

rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)

Some Random Thoughts…

Last February, I found a copy of my seventh grade reading book (Remember back when Reading and English were still different subjects?) in the for-sale aisle at the library. It remains my best find at that library to date. I absolutely love finding old textbooks, especially literature ones. I think it’s because rereading them confirms just how good my memory really is. Someday I’m going to try to find my sixth and eighth grade reading books on eBay or Amazon.

Something I love about poems – and to a lesser extent, books – is that you can have completely different reactions to them depending on the time of your life when you read them. (Of course this isn’t true in all cases. An English professor once told me that I would appreciate The Great Gatsby if I reread when I was older. Whatever.) I read Oranges, by Gary Soto, for school when I was 12, didn’t like it, and forgot about it. I remembered it a few days ago during breakfast. The school serves breakfast at 7:30, when it’s still dark outside, and an orange usually comes with it. One morning the poem’s final lines suddenly came back to me.

I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

I think it would be really awesome to have a sound effects machine. This occurred to me the other day when I was reciting The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. (I’m trying to memorize long poems; right now I’m working on Paul Revere (Longfellow), The Brooke (Tennyson, or “Tennis, anyone?” as Dad called him), and The Love Song of JAP (Eliot). I know I’ll never fully memorize that last one, but I’m giving it a try anyway. This is turning out to be a very long parenthetical break.) Anyway, it occurred to me how cool it would be to do a reading of Paul Revere with sound effects in the background – soldiers marching, wind blowing, horse hoofbeats, dogs barking, roosters crowing, gunshots, etc.

Today I taught my students the words advantage and disadvantage, pro and con. To help them remember I told them the joke, “If con is the opposite of pro, does that mean Congress is the opposite of progress?” They actually got it.

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