A brief chronicle of my new life in Michigan, focusing on the fact that I live in a converted factory loft building with several hundered other "young professionals." Yeah, it's a yuppie dorm.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go

Since I finished the book, and took it off the sidebar, I want to write about it. But the most important thing about this book is that if you ever are going to read it (and I highly recommend it), is that you shouldn't know anything about it. The whole point is the slow revealing of truth that Ishiguro manages, the feeling of "knowing but not knowing." Several reviews I just read (I knew enough NOT to read them before I finished the book) criticize Ishiguro for "drawing it out" that these readers "knew already." Well, of course they did. They were supposed to; the whole point of this book (and, I think his earlier book Remains of the Day, which I'm planning on reading soon) isn't the absence or presence of knowledge, it's the acknowledgement of what you do know, and the willingness to deal with the information versus ignoring it.

Never Let Me Go is a dystopian/parallel universe type thing. But it's commentary about knowledge and the acknowledgement of it as almost two separate things is great. The one issue I had with it I really can't mention here, as it would give away the plot too much. But if you've read this book, or do read it someday, I'd be happy to tell you...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Orchids

So much to do, So little structure

Yesterday marked the beginning of exam week--one week to finish all the grading from the semester, plus three sets of exams (two essay, one short answer/essay). My bag, full of papers and exams, was so heavy last night that the walk from my car to the apartment door seemed endless. (I was also carrying groceries, because I ran out of bread and various other necessary things).

I have much to do - but I've got much less structure in which to do it, which increases the possibility of frittering away time (by doing things like writing blog entries, ahem). So, I think it's off to a bookstore/coffee shop for me. That sometimes works.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

New Sidebar Category

I've added a "Currently Reading" category to my sidebar, in order to both somewhat keep track of what I'm reading (research and pleasure) and to encourage me to actually finish the books I'm reading. I been noticing I tend to get sidetracked, which I never used to do. This probably has something to do with the necessity in my life to almost always be reading more than one book at a time; when I was young, I'd have a pile of books (usually my library book pile) and I'd stack them up on my dresser. When I finished the first book, I'd immediately start the next. That feeling of "in-between books" was always uncomfortable and scary.

Now, I'm seldom in-between books, but that feeling of being truly in a book is somewhat rarer.

Also, if and when I actually finish a particular book, I'll post a blog entry about it. Suggestions for futher reading are always welcome!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Countdown

Well, I taught my last class of the semester today; now all that's left is a mountain of grading, and then final exams.

I'm going to Chicago briefly for Passover with Matt's family this weekend. It should be a nice break -- brief, however. I probably won't be gone for more than 24 hours, since I have so much grading to do. And I've got a paper to give at the annual round-up of medievalists, a conference affectionately known as "Kalamazoo." Luckily, this year I live close enough to that oddly-named city (a most un-medieval name) to commute to the conference rather than stay in the dorms. I'm giving a paper and presiding over two sessions; however, I won't have time to even think about that until grades are in. One nice thing - my semester ends the week before the Zoo, rather than having it occur during finals week, as it does at IU. That was always tricky.

On a more somber note - snow is forecast for the next few days. And I was thinking no April snow this year... We'll see if it really happens.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Book Questions

In response to Lemming's lob of this Book Meme, I humbly submit my replies:

You are stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book would you be?
I really don't memorize well, so I'd probably pick Beowulf. In Old English, and probably also with the Seamus Heaney translation. To clarify how the two previous sentences go together: memorizing Beowulf in Old English is actually not that hard, since it was an oral poem in the first place, and has all sorts of tricks built in to help you keep the whole thing in your head (alliteration, metrical regularity, variation, etc.). And the Heaney translation is good enough to deserve preservation, but if I only got one book, I'd do it in the original. Both for the aforementioned reason, and because it's one of the coolest pieces of literature ever.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I'm sure I have; I spent my formative romance years (teenagerhood) with my nose in a book rather than dating, so I must have formed some pretty intense attachments to fictional guys who were much more interesting than the ones that inhabited my real world. All I can think of now - Gilbert Blythe in the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery; and a character who I think was called "Nat" in a book called The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

What is the last book you bought?
I bought three last weekend (Borders was having its 25% off everything for teachers sale!):
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let me Go (his recent one)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Remains of the Day (his Booker Prize one)
  • Jane Dunn, Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens (Renaissance history)

Five books you would take to a deserted island
  • Complete works of Shakespeare (preferably a big Arden one with ALL the notes)
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Complete works of Chaucer (Riverside edition)
  • The Oxford English Dictionary
  • Either a detailed survival guide OR the whole Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, depending on if I wanted to thrive on the island, or completely escape into another world. I'm leaning toward the escapism choice.

Hmm - most of the people I know who blog have already done this; so I cast it into the aether for anybody to take up and do with as they please.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Taxes are Taxing

I think I'm almost done with my taxes; due to my weird financial situation last year (on a no-taxes-withheld fellowship for most of the first half of it) I have to pay a lot. Which is why I kept putting off doing it. That, and having to file in two states, rather than one. And I discovered, thanks to the knowledge of TurboTax, that Grand Rapids has a city tax. I'm actually not against local taxes; often the money one pays into localities really does make a difference in one's immediate life. However, the condition of the roads up here really makes me wonder exactly what they're spending that city tax on. Hopefully museums (and roads). However - it's another check (since I work outside city limits, I don't think it's withheld...)

So I just have to write out a lot of checks, and drop them in the mail tomorrow (one whole day before they're due!). I'm hoping next year will be a bit more straightforward; though it wasn't as bad as that year I had foreign income that had already been taxed. That was interesting.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Spring!


Crocuses in the Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Another Interesting Condition

From a student paper, on Charlotte Perkins Gillman's The Yellow Wallpaper, that tale of 19th century female angst:

"It is based on her experience after the birth of her first daughter, when she suffered a severe case of post-pardon depression."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Daylight Saving Time*

Well, for the first time in nine years, I "sprung ahead." Since Indiana doesn't observe DST (yet), I didn't have to deal with sudden clock changes - just remembering which parts of the country were now on "my" time and which were different. Well, Michigan's on DST, and since I'm even farther west than I was in Bloomington, the change is quite dramatic. Suddenly, we've got sunsets at 8:15 - which I have to admit, is quite nice, but it's messing with my internal clock. I've been having a horrible time waking up in the mornings these past couple days; usually by the factor of about an hour. (huh - imagine that) And I've not been getting to sleep until after midnight. I think I've lost the talent for the whole DST thing.

*Yes, it's "Saving" time, not "Savings." Follow the link for the grammar explanation.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Hamlet's Musical Lifestyle?

From a paper on Hamlet:

"For a moment, he [Hamlet] came unglued, but regains his composer by the time Claudius hunts him down to ask him where Polonius' body is."

I wonder who Hamlet's composer would be? Buxteheude, maybe?

Friday, April 01, 2005

For Lemming


The Grading Pen

Remembering Winter


Standing on Lake Michigan

This picture was taken in January (I'm only just now getting to removing those pics from the camera memory card). The day was one of those clear, cold days you can feel every time you breathe in. Matt was up for the weekend, and we drove to Grand Haven to have lunch with a friend and to walk on water.

Sadly, this was one of the few pictures that came out; somehow, a bit of snow/ice got on the lens not soon after this, and so all my pictures from further out were quite blurry. And it's slightly too late to recreate this shot, thankfully!