A Student Submits a Piece (Assignment # 2: Create a List)

I.

A woman is hungry. She searches her house and all she discovers is a piece of stale white toast. She takes a bite and discovers it is soaking wet.

II.

A woman’s dryer is full of water. Her first thought is to read the dryer instructions on removing water. She squats down but cannot see/read the instructions around the control button. Suddenly, a stranger is standing right behind her. The woman realizes all she has on are “mini tiny shorts.” She feels naked.

III.

A woman is in “a poorly lit place” having a manicure. She realizes she left her purse in the car. She retrieves her purse, but she finds that the way to the manicure place is now uphill, and she is wearing high platform shoes. The manicurist tells the woman she owes $400.

IV.

A woman is with her son by a pool. It is time for some scheduled pool activity to begin but the boy stays outside the pool, playing and teasing his mother, “for what seems like hours.” The woman begins crying hard.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cavalry vs. Infantry: WATERLOO, pp. 238-239

It is really hard reading this section of Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles. It is 5 p.m. on the 18th of June 1815 (Kudos, BTW, to Bernard Cornwell and his publisher for structuring the book this way. Every time self loses her place, she only has to look at the top of the page and see what time and what day it is) and Napoleon is on his last charge of the day. He sends in his cavalry. What he didn’t expect to see was the British infantry waiting for the charge, formed into squares.

There were 20 squares of British infantry formed at the end of the day, which self thinks is a testament to Wellington’s impeccable sense of organization. That he was able to get his infantry into this formation, after a whole day of fighting — well, hats off to you, Sir.

The squares withstood the cavalry charge. The British infantry aimed at the horses and it was a terrible massacre. It was “steady, relentless, pitiless volleys.”

Reese Howell Gronow, an Ensign in the 1st Foot Guards, reported that “the musket fire . . . brought down a large number of horses, and created indescribable confusion.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Readings of the Day: Waterloo/The Verge on GoTS7 Episode 6: “Beyond the Wall”

Self’s reading has been all over the map lately, from the Battle of Waterloo (Fantastic reading: Waterloo: the History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles) to reviews of the latest episode of Game of Thrones Season 7. Anyhoo, there’s only a few days left until the finale of the Game of Thrones 7th season, so the schizoid nature of self’s reading will soon cease.

First, the sentence from Waterloo. The narrative is now on 17 June 1815. A lot of men are dying or wounded, and Wellington gives the command to withdraw. This can only happen after the wounded are cleared from the battlefield. And since there are so many wounded, that operation takes some time.

p. 111: Wellington wanted the retreat done calmly and, as if to demonstrate his unconcern, he lay down in a pasture and put a newspaper over his face and pretended to sleep.


Self really enjoys the Game of Thrones Season 7 recaps on The Verge. Most of all, she likes Tasha’s breakdown of the first 18 minutes of Episode 6, Beyond the Wall:

I could have watched an entire episode that was just these Seven Samurai (give or take a few ablative redshirts, who the White Walkers and their pet dead-bear unerringly identified somehow as the ones to kill first) working out their grievances and expressing what’s important to them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

WATERLOO Sentence of the Day: p. 46

(The Duke of) Wellington liked the company of women, except for his wife, whom he detested.

 

The Fall of the Ottomans: p. 251

Just finished reading about the siege at Gallipoli: the numbers are staggering. One simply cannot grasp the idea of almost a million men fighting on one spit of land overlooking the Dardanelles. The problem is that nothing really happened, other than a whole lot of dying, followed by a British retreat.

Next chapter is the Invasion of Mesopotamia. Again lots of strategizing and moving of armies.

Finally, finally, we’re at the siege of Kut:

The Sanussi fighters went south to occupy the oasis towns of the Western Desert, stretching from Siwa near the Libyan frontier to Farafra and Bahariya, where they were within striking distance of the Nile Valley but beyond the reach of British forces.

It is a good thing they do, because they only have “one quick-firing cannon and three machine guns” to share among “fewer than 1,200 men.”

The British go in hot pursuit, and finally corner the Sanussi at a small “coastal village” called Sidi Barrani. Here the Ottoman Army was forced to make its last stand. Self just wants to say, the British Army were not gracious in victory. A wild melee ensued, with lots of sabres engaged and horses shot out from under and officers taken prisoner (but what happened to the foot soldiers, self has no idea. There weren’t that many to begin with. It was a very one-sided battle)

It’s very surreal reading. Reminds her that while she was re-discovering the City of Light in May, just a few months ago, she was reading, of all things, Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, which taught her a lot about mules.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: THE FALL OF THE OTTOMANS, by Eugene Rogan

Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is the first history/nonfiction self has been able to get into since May.

She’s on Chapter Five: Launching Jihad, p. 102

The Jihad does not come from the source you’d expect: It is December 8, 1914. Turkey’s Minister of War is a politician named Enver Pasha.

Rogen’s description of Enver:

Enver, an impetuous man, had made his career through bold, high-risk initiatives. A historic leader of the 1908 revolution, an architect of the 1911 Ottoman-led jihad in Libya, leader of the 1913 raid on the Sublime Porte who forced the prime minister to resign at gunpoint, and “liberator of Edirne” in the Second Balkan War, Enver believed in taking action and had little doubt in his own judgment and abilities.

Here’s a list of the other history self has read thus far in 2017:

  • Montcalm and Wolfe: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • SPQR
  • Rubicon
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

#amreading: THE THREE-YEAR SWIM CLUB, by Julie Checkoway

Self got this helpful reminder from Goodreads: You participated in the 2017 Reading Challenge. You have promised to read 30 books.

She’s on p. 326 of The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory.

The swimmers take part in the first post-war Olympics, which take place in a “positively dreary” 1948 London. They are welcomed to Wembley Stadium by this sign:

Welcome to the Olympic Games. This road is a danger area.

Over the scoreboard are these words (from Baron de Coubertin):

The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

Self is fascinated by the Chapter Detroit, Redux (1948) because the Europe it depicts is so starkly different. Plus, the opening ceremonies are July 29, and now is July 22. The anniversary is just one week away!

Among the difficulties of the time:

One practice pool was “open for practice to each of the thirty-seven nations for a mere two hours per day. The rest of the time they had to practice to distant pools . . .  In the end, the swim committee had to settle for having the teams practice in off-hours, during closing times . . . in more than twenty-three separate venues across the city.”

Very interesting.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

BARBARIAN DAYS: Sri Lanka

This memoir is like Jack Kerouac, but much much more enthralling. The author and his buddy, Bryan, go all around the world, living hand-to-mouth, and experiencing culture from the bottom. Only young Americans would be so laissez faire.

But, enough of digressions. Below, an excerpt from p. 289:

We pushed on, always edging west. We caught a ship from Malaysia to India, sleeping on the deck. We rented a little house in the jungle in southwest Sri Lanka, paying twenty-nine dollars a month . . .  I resumed work on my novel. We got Chinese bicycles, and each morning I rode mine, board under arm, down a trail to the beach, where a decent wave broke most days. We had no electricity and drew our water from a well. Monkeys stole unguarded fruit . . .  A madwoman lived across the way. She roared and howled day and night. The insects — mosquitoes, ants, centipedes, flies — were relentless.

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Night descends on a Philippine Sea.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading From the Book of AMAZING RARE THINGS: About An Amazing Naturalist, Maria Sibylla Merian

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How Self Reads: Everything In Front of the Couch

MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN (1647 – 1717)

Born in Frankfurt, she “married one of her stepfather’s pupils and they moved to her husband’s native city of Nuremberg in 1670.  Five years later Merian published her first book, Florum Fasciculus primus (A first bunch of flowers), which she followed with two further parts in 1677 and 1680.” These were essentially pattern books “designed to serve as a model for embroidery . . . ”

“Merian’s first scientific work . . .  was her Raupenbuch, or more fully Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumennahrung (The wondrous transformation of caterpillars and their remarkable diet of flowers) . . .  Each part comprised fifty plates showing caterpillars, chrysalises, butterflies and moths in their natural habitat, and represented the results of many years of observation.”

Her pioneering work was performed “between 1699 and 1701,” when she went “to the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America, where she studied the insects indigenous to the country,” resulting in the “magnificent work” Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (The transformation of the insects of Surinam). It was “one of the most important works of natural history of its era . . .  ninety-five” of her watercolours on vellum are in the Royal Collection.

You can see some of her art here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading BARBARIAN DAYS, p. 227

My fears were unnecessary. Nothing too heavy came. Instead, I caught and rode so many waves, through four or five distinct phases of the day, that I felt absolutely saturated with good fortune . . .

— William Finnegan, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

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Albion, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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