On the Power of a New Pair of Shoes, & Various Artistic Impulses, Among Other Things

I am quite excited that my fancy SLR camera has, thanks to a little battery purchase at CVS, been brought back to life! Now I can be the geeky girl that not only carries a thick notebook, ten pens, four or five books, and several changes of clothes in her handbag, but also an enormous, hulking black camera! Am looking forward to getting back at all the tourists who have glowered at me (or made rude comments to my retreating back) for unwittingly stepping into their perfect picture of the entire family, including great-great-grandparents and several unborn fetuses, standing in front of the Statehouse, by kneeling in the center of the sidewalk for an artsy shot of, I don’t know, say, some paint peeling off an old fence, thus blocking the progress of said family as they meander (and by “meander”, I mean compete with the snail and the tortoise for the ‘it will take me six hours to cross the street’ award) towards Fanueil Hall.

When we were in Fés (in the good old days of the digital camera—lost, I’m afraid, inexplicably somewhere between the King’s Arms and Hurst St., or, quite possibly, in the house itself—stranger things have happened) I used to stop every five seconds to take what I thought would be an amazing picture of that really cool thing! (Perhaps, in retrospect, my camera was confiscated until I could learn to control my artistic urges) We called it having “tourist eyes” and came back to Oxford with that same breathless way of seeing things. So I’m equipped again for such adventures of the lens.

I had one of those “I just rolled out of bed and my hair’s sticking straight up—oh great, there’s someone I know!” moments today in the grocery store. Went to pick up supplies for dinner, etc. and ran into an old friend of mine from several years back. We were close for about a month, until she, and then more gradually I, moved on. I didn’t realize quite how disheveled I looked until I got home, but my hair was falling out of its rubber band, my t-shirt was four sizes too big (and stank slightly of stale sweat, I’m afraid to say), I wore no makeup. Luckily, however, I bought a very cool pair of Keds on Saturday, and I felt fantastic. Thought I was the hottest damn thing walking those aisles, I swear. And if this girl happened to glance foot-ward, I’m sure she’d have agreed.

Am feeling fantastically uninspired about my thesis. I just tried to fiddle with a story and ended up making it both worse and shorter; and I’ve lost the impetus to start a new one. Perhaps my trip to Oxford next week will, by making me incredibly happy, also serve to rekindle my creative impulses? If not, guess at least I’ve got my camera…

Have been slogging my way through Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I don’t mean to say “slogging” as if the book is bad—it’s not—but it’s awfully slow (shades of the tourist family, perhaps?). I’ve been reading up on the employment of narrative and story-structure in political messages (by the way, Kingsolver’s message is political. It can’t not be; there’s no way to separate “my family and I are moving to a farm in the south to grow all our own food so that we can reduce the oil-fueled mileage our sustenance has to travel” from “oh yeah, there’s a huge energy/environmental crisis happening in the world”, and Kingsolver doesn’t try to).

She’s following some of the things that people like Lakoff and Gardner suggest quite well; so the scholar part of me is impressed, but the reader part of me begs for more dialogue. That’s all. I suck up (and, more miraculously, since I suck up a ton of words all the time, remember) the bits where she talks to her kids, or her husband, or their neighbor who’s selling rhubarbs at the farmer’s market. I gloss over half the rest of it. Lesson for my own work—not that it’s doing much, at present, except festering in the folder called “thesis” on my desktop.

Another cup of tea and then to bed for me, I think, where I shall ignore Kingsolver in favor of a good old-fashioned murder mystery. In the end, story always wins over politics, for me…