I have just read over previous entries, and good lord, I must purge "perhaps" from my writing vocabulary. Appalling.
Everything in this post is no doubt more interesting to me than to you, and more useful for my own reference than for yours, but here you go anyhow.
Yesterday we had been thinking of doing something fun and pleasant, instead of errands, but instead we wound up spending the afternoon shopping in preparation for our trip. Why is it that every activity of any note in our house seems to require a preliminary act of shopping? No doubt it is because we are ill-disciplined materialistic capitalist pigdogs, and of the worst sort too since we are also very bad at keeping track of the things we own once they have been used the first time.
For instance, I am well aware that I have procured outlet converters in advance of every other trip abroad I have ever made, and yet I have been entirely unable to lay my hands on a single one. Thus a trip to the soul-depleting Radio Shack was required, where two fresh ones, irritatingly much bulkier than the last pair, were obtained.
More happily, I also procured two truly glorious brassieres, not at Radio Shack, but at Nordstrom's. It is commonly said that most women have their bra size completely wrong. This is a vast national misfortune, causing widespread discomfort and diminished attractiveness. One is urged to see a professional bra fitter and always to try on bras in person, advised by said professional, before purchase, and not at Victoria's Secret, either, where core strengths lie in producing softcore masturbation materials and sweatpants that say PINK across the bottom, rather than putting you into a bra that fits properly. So I hear.
I'd looked into the first part some time ago and truly I do know my size, I know it perfectly well, there is no mistake there. But for years I have been shopping only online, never in person. On the Internet the selection is magnificent, but of course the opportunity to try before you buy, with input from someone who knows better than you and can see your tits being squashed live and in real time, is limited. And what do you know! That last part can be very useful after all.
The brilliant advising bralady was one of those truly impressive high-level department store saleswomen who really pay attention, the sort who also keep a list of all their customers and know their stuff backwards and forwards and assuredly make an absolute mint in commissions, I read an article about it once that I wish I could find again--they are rather terrifying but also rather admirable. She certainly knew what she was doing, both in terms of parting me from my money and in her expertise regarding variations from model to model in a single brand.
After a comic series of inadequacies that I'd selected for myself, she brought something else over in the same brand and size and said, "You should try this one. I think you will be very happy." And I am, I am. My back feels like something miraculous has happened inside it. Tiny angel massage therapists working from within, perhaps.
When I got home, I posted about my bra glee to Facebook. (Sorry about that, students I cavalierly allowed to friend me.) Rarely are my status updates particularly commented upon, but this one instantly got a flood of interested and sympathetic replies. Truly bras and their flaws are the great uniter.
In less than a week, Team Snarkfox will be in glorious London, England, with all that entails (acute childhood nostalgia, oddly flavored crisps, gawking at things in Liberty, visits to cousins, buckets of tea, the Tate Modern, hemorrhaging money). We haven't been in almost six years, and I can hardly wait. I am filling the time until then with:
I have been feeling somewhat ancient and unaccomplished lately--or rather, naggingly aware of the fact that I should have gotten a good deal more sorted out by now, given the age that I am, and that I'm not going to suddenly get a few years back to get it righter. On the other hand, this state of affairs is hardly a surprising outcome of the habits outlined above, now is it? Also I note that my face appears to have mutated into that of a well-creased yet puffy monkey, which is not heartening. I had hoped to age gracefully, but it seems that unless it turns out that "comic and rubbery" is the height of grace, I am out of luck. Too bad.
But London! London will be extremely heartening, and indeed probably even replete with actual reading of novels on lawns. There are a lot of grassy squares that are eminently suitable for just that very thing. It will be restorative.
Speaking of novels, I keep reading The Fountain Overflows, by Rebecca West, over and over again. I read lots of books more than once, of course, but this is a different, more total and consuming, kind of rereading. There are a number of books that I read and have read this way, often coming to the end and flipping back to the beginning to start over again without standing up in between. Most of the books that fall into this category I read for the first time quite some time ago. The majority date from childhood, when it seems my whole life was consumed by an unbroken stream of reading, and whenever I happened by some circumstance to be forced to do something other than read, my mind was still awash in whatever books I had been reading just before.
The Fountain Overflows I read for the first time only six months ago and I believe I have read it at least six times since then. I wish I felt I had the skill to explain what makes it so entirely compelling to me.
It was written in 1956 but is set about fifty years earlier. The narrator, Rose Aubrey, is one of four children in a family that appears to be almost entirely unfit for the world in which it lives. Their father is brilliant, handsome, mercurial, a political genius, and constitutionally incapable of passing up an opportunity to lose money in the stock market or to bite a hand that feeds him. Their mother, once an accomplished concert pianist, is thin, anxious, nerve-jangled, shabby. To outsiders she seems hopelessly odd, but in fact she is clever and generous, capable of holding the family together and looking after a number of other characters in distress that cross their path.
Rose, her twin sister Mary, and their brother Richard Quin never doubt that where the Aubreys and the outside world diverge, it is infinitely better to be an Aubrey. The oldest child, Cordelia, is built differently. Their oddness and poverty agonize her. She is pretty; she plays the violin in a way that stupider adults think is impressive, though the musical Aubreys know better and are agonized in their turn:
...we would rather have been musical with Mamma than have red-gold curls and make utter fools of ourselves by playing the violin as Cordelia did. We were sorry for Cordelia, particularly now, when Papa, from whom she derived such interest as she possessed, had gone away for six weeks. But all the same she was an ass to think she could play the violin, it was as if Mary and I thought we had red-gold curls.
This gives you some idea of the quality of the writing. The discrepancies between the judgments of the non-Cordelia Aubreys and the judgments of most of the people they come into contact with (in all of which the book sides definitively with Rose) produce the emotional tensions and central drama of the book, though page to page it is filled with small events. Mainly it brilliantly captures what it is to be a child, (thus) relatively powerless, and possessed of very high standards. I love it.
Oh dear, what a ridiculously long post this turned out to be, and with so little holding it together. On the other hand, writing it cheered me up enormously. Since I'm pretty sure that only about three people are going to read it in any case, so be it. Maybe one of you will even read the book and tell me how much you loved it.
In a shocking deviation from normal practice, I got something done
around the house. Yesterday I put together something called a back
porch compost tumbler, which is a sort of drum on wheels
that you can dump your scraps into and whirl around, then push like a
wheelbarrow if you want to move it somewhere else. Because who doesn't want to roll a lot of half-rotted vegetable bits from place to place? I'd been feeling
a little ridiculous throwing out piles of vegetable
scraps every week, which I do, and don't have the freezer space or need
required to save anything like all of them for cooking. Compost, then,
is the obvious solution, but since the garden at our rented house is
small and mainly the domain of the owners, who live on the other side
of the duplex, I needed to get something unobtrusive, smallish, and
self contained. The composter we got I think perhaps missed a step in its factory fabrication, because every single hole that a screw or bolt was supposed to run through seemed to be unfinished and needed to be drilled out before I could proceed. On the other hand, doing that did make me feel extra handy and competent, so all in all it was perhaps more satisfying this way than the alternative.
In a shocking deviation from normal practice, I got something done around the house. Yesterday I put together something called a back porch compost tumbler, which is a sort of drum on wheels that you can dump your scraps into and whirl around, then push like a wheelbarrow if you want to move it somewhere else. Because who doesn't want to roll a lot of half-rotted vegetable bits from place to place?
I'd been feeling a little ridiculous throwing out piles of vegetable scraps every week, which I do, and don't have the freezer space or need for stock required to save anything like all of them for cooking. Compost, then, is the obvious solution, but since the garden at our rented house is small and mainly the domain of the owners, who live on the other side of the duplex, I needed to get something unobtrusive, smallish, and self contained.
The composter we got I think perhaps missed a step in its factory fabrication, because every single hole that a screw or bolt was supposed to run through seemed to be unfinished and needed to be drilled out before I could proceed. On the other hand, doing that did make me feel extra handy and competent, so all in all it was perhaps more satisfying this way than the alternative.