The Texture Of Things

Meme of Eight

August 26th, 2007

I have been tagged by the lovely Schmutzie and as everyone knows, when Schmutzie tags, people meme.

The Rules:
# Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.
# The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.
# At the end of the post, the player tags 8 people, posts their names, and leaves a comment on their websites to let them know that they have been tagged.

I am changing the rules a bit. Inspired by the Palinode’s True/False format, I am offering facts followed by a quiz.

Let’s have at it then, shall we?

1. I have a tooth that I hate. I’m serious. I hate this tooth. It is one of only two wisdom teeth I have. The other two are impacted and never broke through. Because I got all my teeth late, these came in after I had braces and they came in crooked. This tooth on the right hates me. It juts out toward my cheek, causing me to bite my cheek hard about weekly. A couple of times a year, I bite my cheek so hard that the teeth marks are discernible (by me) for several days.

It is:
a) dumb.
b) not dumb.

2. I am allergic to Crest toothpaste. If I use it, the roof of my mouth gets hives and itches until I take an antihistamine. Who the hell is allergic to toothpaste? I am. And that is:
a) dumb.
b) not dumb.

3. We chose to use disposable diapers on the tot (who is, by the way, taking the slowest path possible to potty training), and I became a devoted user of coupons. I will not, under any circumstances, pay full price for any diaper. That is not dumb. But, I recently discovered a really good price at Target on a package size I have never bought, and now because we are almost done with diapers, I regret not knowing about this sooner. That is:
a) frustrating.
b) dumb.
c) not dumb.
d) both a and b.

4. I am fussy about facial tissue. First, I believe it should be called tissue, not Kl**nex, in spite of the fact that I will only buy Kl**nex. That is:
a) weird.
b) dumb.
c) not dumb.
d) both a and c.

5. I refuse to own a grey or silver car. Grey and silver are like automotive camouflage. If I wanted to be hit, then yes – I’d try to blend with my surroundings so as not to be seen; however, since I am decidedly not trying to be hit, I prefer something a little less pavement-colored. That is:
a) dumb.
b) not dumb.
c) probably not based in rational thought and/or scientific measurements.

6. Though I have worn glasses since 5th grade, I have never worn contacts. Not once. I am afraid of sticking something in my eyes, and on the few occasions I have had to use eye drops, I was nearly paralyzed to get the bottle close enough to my eyes to apply the drops. That is:
a) dumb.
b) not dumb.
c) weird, considering I’m constantly digging dirt and other irritants out of my eyes.
d) both a and c.

7. I find that the perfect bad-day-and-on-top-of-it-I’ve-got-my-period food for when I’m not craving chocolate is a package of Hostess powdered sugar Donettes. Very fresh, followed by a Diet Pepsi. If you don’t understand, don’t ask because I can’t explain, but when I break down and buy those blessed Donettes only to find that they are not fresh, I get sad, and that is:
a) dumb.
b) not dumb.
c) really, really dumb, because dammit! I Am On My Period! I Am Having A Bad Day! I Need FRESH Donettes!

8. I admit that although I don’t really understand memes or why they are popular, I generally enjoy them and I always read them through to the end, when the tagged bloggers are announced, but I’m not actually going to tag anyone. That is:
a) dumb.
b) not dumb.
c) worthy of a frownie face. 🙁

Answer Key
1. a; 2. a; 3. d; 4. d*; 5. c; 6. c; 7. c; 8. your call. If you’re reading this and want to do it, consider yourself tagged! Then, comment here and link back to the meme post, because increased traffic is usually not dumb.

*What? Are you judging me? Look at you! You are! You are judging me. Well, of course it’s weird but it is most certainly not dumb. Do you sneer at other people for acting on their desires for quality items? It’s tissue, fer cryin’ out loud. Just be glad that it’s not that sandpaper-store-brand stuff when you come over and need to blow your nose because of my cats, carpet, and dust bunnies.

Land That I Love

August 23rd, 2007

God Bless America,
teh internet,
and the United States Postal Service.

They’re here.

harrypotterbooks.JPG

Now I just have to finish grading about 7 more essays and figure final grades for those 7 students, and then I’m free.

FREE!!!

Moo Hoo Ha Ha Ha!

Harry, I Love You. Let’s Never Part Again,
Conclusion to “Essay on Harry Potter”

August 22nd, 2007

Go read this post first, then this post.

Also, if you are trying to avoid spoilers, this post and the one before it are safe. The first one is not.

It took a couple days for the afterglow of Deathly Hallows to fade, then I found myself rummaging through my bookshelf for books 1-3. I’ve moved since reading the first three, so I didn’t expect to find them easily. (Books 4-7 are within arm’s reach.) As it turns out, I cannot find them at all.

So I did what any other self-respecting book junkie would do: I ordered new copies. They should be here this week, just in time for me to be done grading my summer-semester-from-hell but before the crush of a new term.

Ah, Harry Potter.

I can’t decide if I’m a little embarrassed that I’m diving headlong into the series from the start again (because, Good Lord, did I or did I not just spend the last chunk of my life reading them?) or if I’m acting on something a bestest friend said the day we went to see the Order of the Phoenix movie.

SuperAwesomeFriend: What does it matter if you [hurry through/skip parts of] a book? If it’s a good book, you know you’re going to read it again. If it’s not, you saved yourself from wasting your time.
Me: Wait. What?
SAF: Listen, you dope, do I need to write it down for you?
Me: Um, maybe.

Okay, those last lines were made up, but I’m really just going for the gist here.

She’s right. The books were good. I missed a big chunk of book 4, plus it’s been ages since I’ve read the first three, plus I might have rushed a bit through 5, 6, and 7. You know, just a bit.

So, I’m going to re-read them, and I’m anticipating a different reading experience. I expect I’ll be able to read at whatever pace I want, savoring plot points differently now that I know how it all ends. I don’t know what to expect as to the pace and urgency of the last 3 books on a second read, but it’ll be fun to find out. Or, I’ll just quit after Azkaban. That one is, after all, my favorite of the first 3. In the end, who cares besides me? No one. Except maybe the other Harry Potter devotees. If there are any out there.

By Way of an Apology,
“Essay on Harry Potter” continued

August 21st, 2007

Go read this post first. It’s, like, Part One, or something.

Also, if you are trying to avoid spoilers, this post is safe. The previous one is not.

Somewhere in the middle of book 6, I tried to go to bed because it was late and I had to work the next day, and let me just say right here that I know what a mistake that was. I was young and foolish. I laid in bed forEVER trying to settle down and go to sleep, and that is not ever a problem I suffer from – just ask HG.

For instance, a typical bedtime conversation…
HG: ” ‘Night honey.”
Me: ” ‘Night. Hey. What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”
HG: “Hot, slight chance of rain in the p.m. I think I’m gonna — ”
Me: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz :snork: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So the next day I began plotting how and when to get my copy of Deathly Hallows. I simply couldn’t consume these books fast enough and knowing that there was another one waiting for me was eating me from the inside out.

It was some days before I could steal a minute at lunch (okay, 30) to go to the bookstore and buy it. I don’t know how to explain this part, and I think I probably don’t have to dwell too long on the purchase other than to say that I have grown some empathy about the frenzy. From the moment I had a plan to buy the book, I felt slightly panicked. The buzz grew in my ears as I got closer to carrying out the purchase, as I found my way through the bookstore, until I had a copy in my hands*.

I about died that there was a line at the checkout, and I quite literally wanted to throw up when the most efficient cashier left the registers right as I should have been called next. That is how bad it was. I felt queasy to be so close to it, but not swallowed by it yet. It was almost illegal to want something this much.

Of course, you know I read the first two chapters in my car before heading back to work, right?

I apologize for every time I scoffed at the hardcore fans for re-reading the first 6 books before the release of this book, for the release parties, for the lines and the wristbands and the waiting up all night for it. For me, I merely had to find a copy (oddly, it was not as easy as heading up to my local grocery store), but for those who read the books on time – egad, my heart goes out to you all. You are stronger people than I am, to wait almost patiently for so long for the conclusion to the story. I cannot imagine what that was like.

My experience, on the other hand, is something more like what future readers will have – an entire series waiting for them, one after another, until the very end – and that was a downright juicy reading experience, for those last 3 books. I hope the tot and her generation will enjoy it this much.

This is coming from a woman who had a stack of essays to grade and DH to read when the power went out last weekend. So, we lit candles and hunkered down for a long night of no power, and what did I do? Did I grade a few papers by candlelight? No. Don’t be ridiculous. I read Harry Potter all night. We put the tot to bed, HG went to bed, the power came back on at 11:50 p.m., and upon his return to bed, HG asked me, “Coming to bed?”

I replied, “In 250 pages.”

He thought I was kidding. I was not kidding. And at 2:30 a.m. I finally drifted in to bed, and unlike the night I chose bed over finishing book 6, I laid there quietly happy for about 10 minutes before achieving :snork:.

It was a restful night’s sleep.

*Confession: I am a cheapskate. This is why I don’t buy hardcover books – they cost too much. So, the fact I was buying this in hardcover rather than a) waiting for paperback or b) waiting for a copy at the library is testimony to how affected I was. I mean, I stood there in the store with that little voice in my head saying, “Oh great! The sticker says 30% off! Wait. What do hardcovers go for these – Holy Sweet Mother of Bob $34.99?! Who the crunchy hell pays that kind of money for a book?!” But it was barely audible over the “Harry. Potter. Must. Read. Harry. Potter.” And you know which voice won out.

Essay on Harry Potter

August 20th, 2007

I should clarify and come clean a little about where I’ve been while not blogging lately. Sure, I’ve been working a pile of hours at my mom’s store. Sure, I’ve been teaching an 8-week Composition course*, filled with students who are, excuse me, ass holes. (Class ends Tuesday. I cannot freakin’ wait.) Sure, I have a three-year-old and a husband and all the sundry tasks that come with those. But really it is important for me to disclose that I also kind of fell headlong into Harry Potter.

In this trio of blog posts, I will**:
a. give some history about me and Harry Potter
b. tell an amusing anecdote
c. make an apology
d. admit my devotion

History***
My first HP experience, I was a bystander. A tutor, more specifically. My student was enrolled in a Children’s Lit course at the college where I now teach, and toward the end of the semester, she had to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was freshly out in paperback. I opted not to read it with her, and this was okay with my student. Her intended audience for the final essay was a person who had not read the book, so this positioned me to help her work on interpretation from outside the story and on capturing only the necessary summary. Halfway through this tutoring experience, I decided I had to read the book, but I didn’t pick it up until just before the movie came out.

If I know one thing about myself, it is that I like to read a book before I see the movie. Since I had already wanted to read Sorcerer’s Stone, I finally grabbed a copy when the trailers started showing on TV and I read it fairly quickly. Not blazingly so, but I was enchanted and I was happy that I finally picked it up. Then I saw the movie, and while I was disappointed in young Daniel Radcliffe (he didn’t match my imagined Harry), I think I fell in love with the overall story. It happens I was also in a Roald Dahl kick at the time, so by its genre and premise alone the story was already positioned for success with me.

Along the way to the third movie, I followed the same course: book comes out in paperback, movie is about to come out, amy reads and loves book, amy sees and loves movie.

In fact, I loved book 3 so much, I grabbed book 4, Goblet of Fire, as soon as it hit the shelves in paperback. But dig this. I couldn’t get into it. I tried. I read about 2/3 of it and pooped out. When the movie was about to be released, I didn’t even finish the book – I just saw the movie with no idea how it ended.

By the way. I make no guarantee that I won’t spoil some aspect of any of the 7 books from here on out. If you’re trying to preserve your Harry-Potter-virgin-ears, now would be a good time to go. Come back when you’ve read the series or no longer care about having it spoilt for ya.

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Okay, are we still here? Great.

Can you imagine it? I had no idea Voldemort would return to the flesh, I had no idea Cedric would die, I had no idea that Mad-Eye was an impostor. Holy crap, it was a good movie. Still, I couldn’t motivate myself to go back and read the book, and though I have now read books 5, 6, and 7, to this day I have never read all of 4.

Look, I’m not proud, okay? I’m just trying to be honest here.

Order of the Phoenix came out in, what? 2004? 2005? Somewhere in there because in 2005, HG, a 14.5-month-old tot, and I traveled to a friend’s cabin for a long weekend and were treated to listening to her b!tch about that beast of a book. “Harry’s such a whiny little wuss. Will he ever shut up with the whining already?” And so on. I got the idea that if I couldn’t get through book 4, book 5 was maybe not even worth the effort. My friend wanted me to read it, though, so she sent me home with her copy and she moved on to book 6. (She later raved about book 6, which is interesting for me, later in the story.)

You can imagine that I brought the book home, buried it on my bookcase, and didn’t even consider reading it until, you guessed it, the movie for book 5 was looming and the release of book 7 was whipping into a category 5 frenzy.

I don’t have a whole lot of time to read, so I took it on vacation with me up to my friend’s cabin. (It’s kind of an annual thing.) I picked at the book here and there, and once I was about 100 pages in, I was toast. I couldn’t put the damn thing down. And where my friend hated 5, I found myself loving it. Yes, it was wordy. Yes, Harry is whiny. Yes, it lacks action. But isn’t that the point of that book? Isn’t the thrust of the book to show his internal struggles? It’s the Empire Strikes Back of the story. It’s Hamlet’s soliloquy and the set up for Ophelia’s death. It’s the heart of the bildungsroman – the point when the struggle turns inward, which spurs the character to action, toward his epiphany, toward his transition from a child who is out of control of his world to an adult who controls not only his action and his surroundings, but who has found his power.

GAH! Can you see I loved this book?

As an aside, while I was reading it, I found myself imagining it in a nearly monochromatic palette – blues, greys, blacks, with bright spots of golden white for the prophecies, and little other color. Pretty much like the movie was shot. FWIW, I do enjoy me some Daniel Radcliffe nowadays.

I think I was only halfway through book 5 when it hit me that I did not own a copy of book 6, and upon that realization, I was positively twitchy. I needed to know book 6 would be waiting for me; I knew I would need to dive headlong into 6 as soon as I finished 5, but I could not slow my progress on 5 for anything. I managed to pull myself away from the book to order 6, but those were a few torturous moments, to be sure.

Book 6 – well, I also loved it, which was confusing to me. Two of my IRL HP friends were diametrically opposed on books 5 and 6. One hated 5 and loved 6, the other loved 5 and hated 6. I expected to be on one side or the other, but I loved both, though 6 not quite as much. It is, however, a necessary book, and I am salivating for the movie, just as I was salivating for Deathly Hallows about 25 pages into Half Blood Prince.

But, I get ahead of myself. Remember how I was nonchalantly picking through book 5 while I was on vacation? Before I got hooked? That was the day Deathly Hallows came out.

Anecdote
There I was, in a cabin in the woods with my friend who had read all the HP books as they came out, who had pre-ordered her copy of DH before she realized that she’d be out of town when it arrived. Though she tried to keep it to herself, she was practically quaking with anticipation the night before its release.

The next day, she and her fiance went up to the Piggly Wiggly**** to get some items for dinner, and she walked in with a copy of DH. Her fiance was shaking his head and I was kind of with him on this.

Me: “You have a copy waiting for you at home and you bought one at the Piggly Wiggly?”
Her: “They had 5 copies left! I couldn’t believe it! So yeah, I bought one.”
Me (internally): Piggly Wiggly? Good Lord, who can’t wait to read HP so bad that they buy it at the freeking grocery store?

I will resume in the next post…

*How do you make a 15-week Composition course suck (more)? Do it in 8 weeks. In the summer.

**This forecasting structure is my homage to my current students, who cannot seem to write a long essay to save their hides/lives/grades and who are incapable of any thesis statement other than the following: “In this essay, I will discuss a problem and a solution about global warming/eating disorders/obesity/capital punishment/every other topic my teacher has forbidden me to write about.” Ah, my dear students, I will be forever pissed at you for ruining my summer. Good luck next semester!

***This will mean little to anyone but myself, but I want to put this here because I want to remember the HP experience for when the tot is old enough to start reading the series.

****Shop the Pig.

New Theme Time

August 19th, 2007

As much as I liked the purple snowflake template, I can’t take the limits on post length any more. I don’t know how to fix it, so I need a new template.

I like this one, but as with the other, the font is, what, 10 point? Dude, I’m freakin’ blind, so that’s got to change, but I’m not exactly sure how yet.

I’m sitting here parsing the code for font style and size info, and I’m finding nothing. I’m just not very literate when it comes to html. I’ll take any suggestion anyone has and I’ll take any hint on customization I get, as well. In comments or in email, either way, I’m open.

Also, there are some links that aren’t working yet, up on the top. I have to figure out where those things are and populate the links, or something. Am I even speaking English? Gah.

In Memoriam

August 17th, 2007

Clyde was an old-timey teacher in all the best ways, picking up only a couple of the new-fangled ideas (like drafting and revision) to augment his classic style. He had high standards, high expectations for his students and for their writing, and high hopes for every human being he ever met.

He always had a quick smile for me and a few minutes to chat about the building renovations, our latest semester break, some aspect of a challenging student paper, politics, weather, and dessert. Every part of the man was round – his face, his belly, his hands, his glasses, and the top of his cane. I won’t say he seemed jolly, but I will say I think the man was happy. His stories of holidays and adventures with his wife (they had no children) told me that long ago.

Already I miss Clyde. Yesterday I attended the annual Fall Orientation at my school, and through the whole meeting I wondered where he was. It was strange to see Harry (another part-timer and possibly Clyde’s best friend – at school, at least) sitting alone. It crossed my mind that perhaps Clyde had been to the morning session, which I had not attended because I was in class. When I learned afterward that it was Clyde who was suddenly struck ill last semester, was hospitalized, and passed away a month after the start of it all, I felt a bit ill. I can’t imagine my school without him.

I know I will learn the new sounds in the hallway at 5:30 p.m. on a school night, just as I learned to listen for Clyde’s and Harry’s laughter or debate, but it will be an adjustment I didn’t expect to find myself making. Not so soon. Not now. Not just as I am about to walk into the last session of my summer class on Tuesday to have my students complete the last step in a writing assignment that Clyde showed me.

Clyde,
Wherever you are right now, my friend, I hope it is exactly where you hoped you’d be.

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I have been absent the blog lately because of school (I’m teaching a summer course, which is kicking my sorry ass), work (my uncle is out again on medical leave and my mom has been needed elsewhere, so I’m running their shop), wifing, and parenting. Please notice “housework” neither appears nor is implied on this list, and HG can attest to that. In fact, that is probably what I should be doing instead of writing this, but I am shirking that responsibility as well. Ha! Take that, adulthood!

My First Blog Post About Harry Potter (with Spoilers!*)

August 1st, 2007

*Spoilers are NOT from any Harry Potter book or movie. I promise. Please – don’t go! Truly! I wouldn’t lie about something like that.

Recently, I was minding my own business, checking in on some blogs I enjoy, when I stumbled on a link to a video on YouTube. Nothing shocking there. These sorts of links litter teh internets. Much of the time I don’t click said links, but this post was so compelling, I had to click it. I had to know. What was The Mysterious Ticking Noise?**

All right. Let me just cut to the chase. This video, if you have not seen it, has wedged itself into my brain, and I feel the sadistic need to pass it on to you, my lovelies. Here’s why: my hypothesis is that it’s just like in The Ring – in order for me to escape the horrible fate that awaits me after having seen the video, I must get someone else to watch it.***

Please, internet friends. Go watch it and save my soul.

You know, if I’m right about the Ring connection, you might ought to organize and maybe take numbers and watch it sequentially instead of all y’all at once. I’m just sayin’.

In the interest of full disclosure, the lovely Anne, author of the compelling post, had this to say about the video:
“That song is like Herpes. Once you get it, you never get rid of it.”

Now if that didn’t compel you to go watch it, nothing will.

**Connection to Harry Potter will become clear upon viewing video.

***Aaaaaarggghh! Spoiler!!!

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