Monday, November 12, 2007

Well, I did work…

... just not write. So I have no words to add to my word count. I found an article I should have read a while back and in the course of reviewing it, discovered I had never finished reading Important Grounding Historical Text In My Field, so I’ve got to work my way through those before going back to my chapter. IGHTIMF is a huge motherfucker, too --- and did I mention it’s double-columned like a textbook? I have about 300 pages to go still. So, I’m working, but not writing.

Of course, I did a lot of not-working this weekend too. Friday night I went out and celebrated yet another birthday dinner at a fabulous little Italian café-restaurant that is under-appreciated here. And Dissertation Buddy and I split a bottle of merlot and also had dessert. Mmm! Very fun. And Saturday, after sleeping in and reading the news and lounging around lazily and then a bit of shopping, I started reading --- gasp! --- for pleasure, and I don’t remember the last time I did that.

I’m now halfway through Ian McEwan’s Atonement, so that I can feel superior when I go see the movie version. (I need to get a copy of The Road, too, but that seems a bit too overwhelming at the moment.) And how is Atonement so far? Meh --- I think I’ve read it before, by someone named Jane or Virginia or possibly Elizabeth. Seriously, I think it’s a solidly-written book; I just don’t think it’s a Great (future?) Masterpiece of Literature, and part of that is the very self-conscious way that it name-checks everybody in the Norton as well as various Historic Personages That Main Characters are Ignorant of their Future Historic Importance And We Find that To Be So Ironic Today. I must admit, I had trouble with that in The Hours and to a lesser extent Kavalier and Clay. And furthermore, it doesn’t seem … strange, in the way really great writing tears you open and leaves you raw and exposed to something new in the world you had never thought about before. Seriously, 30s British Big House literature? What new and amazing insight can we have (or need to have, as a society) about that? Mysterious secrets of the repressed and upper-class? I think I saw that in Picnic at Hanging Rock, which had a much more impressive sense of dreamlike mystery (if weird gender politics and general 70s-ness). So, yeah, I’m liking Atonement but I'm not astounded and amazed. On the other hand, the film looks like it will have beautiful period costumes, and sex, and those are always good for an entertaining movie. I guess I don't set the bar very high for film, unlike lit.

And Sunday I went with Cool Scientist Friend and her boyfriend, The Political Animal, and a bunch of Swedes (don’t ask) to go hiking. It rained on us, which ordinarily I love, especially considering CSF loaned me rain gear. But unfortunately everything was covered in leaves, which then got slickery, and on top of that the trail was rough in some places --- my friends assured me it was just a little tough climbing but really places were more like bouldering, and everyone forgets that it is just much harder for the short little person with short legs and no reach to scramble up rocks her size. Plus I have a bad knee, and am skittish about heights and being on ridges. So the hike was fun except for the embarrassing places where I slowed people down, or they all stood around and said “Now how do we lift Sisyphus over this obstacle?” while I clung to some rocks and a tree root and insisted I could not let go, ever. I’m also quite out of shape again, already, for I haven’t been swimming in a while or hiking in ages, so I was panting and falling behind TPA, even though he was smoking on the hike. (That is totally my style of hiking, though. I’m realizing now that we didn’t actually get out his flask, however, despite his promises…)

We saw quail, but no lizards. (Must not be lizard season anymore.) In places on the trail we smelled fennel --- unless it's anise, or one of those other licorice-smelling herbs. The pat of rain on the tree canopy, interrupted by the occasional cold plotch on the back of your neck, was soothing, and the smell of rain and leaves and sandy earth is wonderful. We only ran into two completely stoned hippy-granola-y hikers (it's California --- it's always stoned hippy season here).

After hanging out at the top (where there should have been a waterfall but we are in a drought yet again) it started to rain harder and we went back down, with my bad knee and the wet path and the steep descent all meaning that I pretty much had to slide down the whole way on my butt. (This is actually a standard hiking procedure for me. It’s hard to fall down when you are already down. Hard, but not impossible.) Obviously I was filthy and tired once we reached the trailhead, which naturally meant that we had to go eat burgers at a local brewhouse. Mmm --- garlic fries and a cold Rincon Red! It was a good close to a day. Except for the fact that it was only 3 by this point, so I took a nap. Now I ache in all sorts of interesting places (how did I pull that muscle? All I did was walk! I'm so out of shape!)

But now, now, dear reader! Now I am hard at work and ready for anything after a weekend spent far away from libraries, job applications and word meters! Now I shall conquer the world!


azoresdog said...

Cog! No - Atonement is not Great. Not Great great. The Road was okay. Why do I always feel a slight sense of guilt when criticizing literature commonly accepted as brilliant? Okay, I'll say it: they were both solid works, but didn't leave me breathless. Not like, say, post-structuralist literature.

Keep up the good work.

squadratomagico said...

Congratulations on a relaxing weekend! Now you'll feel refreshed and renewed.

Earnest English said...

Sis, you make me laugh in recognition. I think that you and I could go hiking (I'm a short little stubby person afraid of heights and usually the one to hold on to tree roots and say I will never let go, not ever until someone comes and helps me and then I'm petulant because I'm embarrassed) -- that is, walking in a natural environment. Congrats on getting away. Now, remember that boulder you've been shouldering (oh god, I'm rhyming)? See ya back at the wheel, cog!