Anton Jelinek: MY ANTONIA, Book I, Chapter XV

Self is reading My Antonia in Philadelphia.

A very warm, muggy Philadelphia.

And she’s in a section of My Antonia that takes place in the middle of a hard Nebraska winter.

lol

In Chapter XV we meet a new character, Anton Jelinek, who the narrator, Jim Burden, cannot help admiring for his “frank, manly faith.” Jelinek’s business is to make coffins.

  • “The last time I made one of these, Mrs. Burden,” he said, as he sorted and tried his chisels, “was for a fellow in the Black Tiger mine, up above Silverton, Colorado. The mouth of that mine goes right into the face of the cliff, and they used to put us in a bucket and run us over on a trolley and shoot us into the shaft. The bucket traveled across a box cañon three hundred feet deep, and about a third full of water. Two Swedes had fell out of that bucket once, and hit the water, feet down. If you’ll believe it, they went to work the next day. You can’t kill a Swede. But in my time a little Eyetalian tried the high dive, and it turned out different with him. We was snowed in then, like we are now, and I happened to be the only man in camp that could make a coffin for him. It’s a handy thing to know, when you knock about like I’ve done.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Wedding Party and the Wolves: MY ANTONIA, Ch. VIII

No one ever brings up this story in the reviews, so self will:

In Russia, sometime in the last century, there was a wedding. In the dead of winter. (Who has a wedding in the dead of winter? Nevertheless.)

“The wolves were bad that winter.” They “ran like streaks of shadow; they looked no bigger than dogs, but there were hundreds of them.”

The last sledge in the wedding cortege was overturned and the passengers spilled out on the snow. The wolves set on them.

Then another sledge crashed, and so forth and so on.

Until there was only one sledge left, and it was the sledge of the bride, the groom, and two men. They were almost to their village, but the horses were fading.

One of the men rose and went to the back of the sledge. They could reach the village safely but only if they lightened the load. The man went for the bride. The groom tried to prevent him, so the man tossed them both out on the snow. And the two men reached the safety of the village, alone. But no one would talk to them.

The two men “went away to strange towns, but when people learned where they came from, they were always asked if they knew the two men who had fed the bride to the wolves.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Story-in-Progress: Problems With Sleep

I have problems with sleep. It gets much worse during Dead Week. I keep myself going with Red Bull and Adderall; I live off fear.

The truth is, a B at Stanford is like an F everywhere else. We’re the half-percent smartest people in the world. And we’re undergraduates, which means we’re, most of us, rich.

Rattlesnake: MY ANTONIA

Jim (the Narrator) and Antonia find a giant rattlesnake:

We hung him up in the windmill, and when I went down to the kitchen I found Antonia standing in the middle of the floor, telling the story with a great deal of color.

Stay tuned, my dear blog readers, Stay tuned.

Early Draft: Matias, 1746

Self found an old chapter of her novel-in-progress (which is right now 310 pages; it used to be 323 pages)

This chapter is titled “Education, 1746” and begins:

The Bishop schooled Matias carefully. He gave Matias instruction on the governance of the Islands, and the manner in which the archipelago had come under the tutelage of Spain.

And then the history of the Islands unfolds, from Magellan’s voyage to the succeeding century, and all is told in dialogue.

“I must rest,” the Bishop said. “We shall continue on this topic tomorrow.”

Matias returned to his room and lay, restless and wakeful, far into the night.

Self loves, loves, loves these early drafts. That is fine writing, even if it was done by herself (lol). There is almost no backstory. Matias, the young priest, is being schooled by the Bishop. And it is only the two of them, chapter after chapter. There is a garden, and an old house, and birds, and heat, and the Bishop sometimes takes middle-of-the-night walks in just his nightshirt, and Matias catches him, and there’s light from a thin moon. And then nothing.

The parts self added, she doesn’t really like that they spell out so much history. In fact, the only new parts self likes are the parts during the ship voyage from Cadiz to Manila. And the introduction of four soldiers who escort Matias to the island. But these soldiers serve absolutely no plot. They simply take Matias and leave him there, on the beach. Then an old woman emerges from the forest and dances for Matias, and leaves again. And Matias lives in a swamp with another old woman. And finally he meets a half-breed named Diego.

That’s it! There are no big, dramatic scenes. But maybe that’s the story self wanted to write. Maybe that’s the real story: colonization in a hypnotic state, with no drama.

Ugh, writing in long form is truly difficult. She has to get the words down, but those words mean nothing. It’s only after, when she has to carve them into some kind of meaning. She’s not talking about plot, she’s talking about meaning. Her kind of writing is truly writing without a safety net, for she never has a road map.

She has a friend, Caroline (a member of her writers group, and a fine, fine writer herself) who read her short story collection. Last week, Caroline and self met in a café and Caroline told her which stories in the collection could/should be expanded. Caroline is the mother of three young children (all still in grade school) and has just started a graduate program at St. Mary’s, yet she read almost 300 pages of self’s work. That kind of generosity is priceless. These stories are not new, but because of Caroline, self knows which ones she has to try and work on some more.

She hopes she can do all this work in Annaghmakerrig. If she can just. Get. There. Without. Falling. Apart.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Pastel Colors from the Garden

Still working off Cee Neuner’s current Fun Foto Challenge: PASTEL COLORS.

It’s a really fun way to pass the time: walking around the backyard, snapping pictures!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pastel Colors

Love Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge!

This week’s challenge is PASTEL COLORS.

It turned out to be surprisingly hard to find photos with predominantly pastel colors!

These flesh-coloured gourd plants were at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers:

DSCN0142

The Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA on self’s birthday in July:

DSCN0018

A bit of nostalgia:

DSCN9987

Map of the Philippines, Son’s Room in Redwood City, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Harvard Law Record, 20 September 2018

Posted by Molly Coleman, Vail Kohnert-Yount, Jake Meiseles, and Sejal Singh:

Given that Kavanaugh’s class, “The Supreme Court Since 2005,” is still on the schedule for winter term of this academic year, we have a few questions for the Harvard Law School administration.

Will Harvard Law School take seriously the credible allegation of Kavanaugh’s sexual assault against a young woman before he is allowed to continue teaching young women? Or will Harvard allow him to teach students without further inquiry — and continue paying him our tuition money? In 2018, he earned $27,490 for nine days of teaching.

Has Harvard Law School considered how this opportunity to learn about the Supreme Court might not be equally available to women because many will self-select out of a class taught by a credibly accused sexual assailant?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Re-reading Robert E. Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power

An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power, a mistake that will cost you a lot more than any temporary satisfaction you might gain by expressing your feelings. — Robert Greene


Plus, from one of her old journals:

  • Today I had a massage . . . lol

Written, of course, in Bacolod. In Bacolod, self was always so mellow. She was never angry. A one-hour massage averaged 500 pesos, about $9. She had daily massage, over there. Heck, she could even have had two massages daily, if she felt like it. All the masahistas had strong, unerring hands. They seemed to know by instinct. Only once did self ever have a bad message in Bacolod: the woman just moved her hands skimmingly over the skin, didn’t really knead it. Ugh, self felt she’d spent a full hour just being tickled.

One night, during a massage, self kept hearing the distant, popping sounds of what she thought were gunshots. It made her so uneasy. The masahista said it was Firecrackers. Oh, it was New Year’s Eve? It had completely slipped self’s mind.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Work-in-Progress: Inspired by a Solo Trip to Dharamsala, India, January 2012

The music comes on and she recognizes Edith Piaf. Of all things to play! Is it because she is sitting by herself in this restaurant and someone feels compelled to provide her with some distraction, some light background tune, or because they do not want her to be lonely (she is, though: loneliness is always seeping out of her skin), or perhaps they worry she is getting bored, sitting by herself at a small table, eating a vegetable chapati and sipping sweetened Masala tea at 9 in the morning when it is 32 degrees Fahrenheit outside?

DSCN3457

En route to Dharamsala, self stopped by a small temple. She dredged up the courage to ring the bell, too (though she couldn’t ask anyone to take her picture while doing it)

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