Fourth Wall

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sometimes I Hate This State

Just more proof that government warnings can ruin anything: A Prop 65 warning in the Tableware section of Union Square Macy's.

Memories of First Year:
Arthur: I gave up [on mending the puncture in the tire] when I saw the label: "This product has been found to cause cancer by the State of California".
Alice: Arthur. Water has been found to cause cancer by the State of California.

But Sometimes, I Love It.

Sign seen today in Japantown: "Holiday Sale! Samurai Swords: Set of Three for $33.89!"

Unfortunately, most of my friends already have one.

"I don't have argyle in this time zone." - Dan (Rober)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Real-Life Conversations: I'm Not Obsessed, I Swear!

Andrew: They make pink dress shirts these days?
Matt: Andrew! You own a pink dress shirt.
Andrew: Shut up. I don't wear it.

A conversation about metrosexuality and masculinity ensued.

Matt: If I had known we were going to have this conversation, I would have worn this t-shirt... It says "Zombie repellent" and has a picture of a shotgun.
Andrew: Did you get that at Hot Topic?
Matt: ... yes.

So, I got to have brunch with Matt + Andrew (my musketeers!) today. It was great. I love those guys so much.

In other news, does anyone else find Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" strangely reminiscent of Ian? Come on. "I have a history of taking off my shirt"? Of course you do.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

On Language

Apparently, it takes about two weeks for my word choice, slang, and enunciation to devolve back to a California level. It's a high California level (I reject all uses of "hella"), but it is distressing.

A certain correspondent (okay, it was Worthen) accused me of writing sentences that sounded "like something Camus would write if he had the giggles." That is not the California level of which I speak. I, in fact, had the giggles.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Overheard at Macy's, 12/24/05

Little Boy: Where are we?
Mom: We're in the bra section! Isn't this exciting? (Aside, directed at Grandma.) One day you will think this is very exciting.
Little Boy: What's going to happen?

(If you're wondering what I was doing in the lingerie section of Macy's on the morning of Christmas Eve, so was I.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Waiting For a Piano to Fall...

Today was one of those days when nothing went right.* Mom and I got up early to go to Dim Sum, but Ton Kiang was dramatically understaffed, and we waited a long time for very little food-- and didn't get many of our favorites. We went to Macy's, to buy linens on sale, and ended up next to a black woman in line whose check had been rejected-- and who accused the clerk of racisim with some considerable volume. For dinner we went to a Thai restaurant that is an old family favorite, but it has been dramatically redesigned, the menu redone, and prices raised.

A: I don't think the chef has changed. I just think they hired a style associate.
Mom: A style associate from the W hotel? "Make it dark!"
A: The style associate FROM HELL!

I would have loved to be in on that meeting. "First, paint the walls black. Then spray-paint the chairs. Get rid of the colorful tablecloths of tibetan fabric put up a gratuitous nude sketch to make it "arty". Now raise your prices by half and re-name all the items on the menu."

I was entertained by the way in which the re-naming went wrong. Vegetarian spring rolls became "Crunchy Tibetan Monk Rolls", and Chicken Satay was something like "Chic-a-pick Stix".

D. Robes, on running into some unhabited Dominican sisters at the Met, in front of Fra Angelico's painting of Mary bestowing the habit on St. Dominic: "I didn't have the heart to tell them that Chris's idea of being a Dominican may differ somewhat from theirs."
Alice: Yeah, point. 'you see this? Mary giving him something? Oooh, look! It's called a habit!'

Many you have seen Dan sputter. I then got to see him sputter online.
Alice: You have nothing to say to that, do you?
Dan: I have to give credit where credit is due when somebody beats me to a point so pungent with irony.

* There were some good things of the day. We ran into Aunt Joan, Jennie, and Poppie at Ton Kiang, and my grade school friend Max "I put the 'k' in 'kwality work'" Siegal at the local cafe. He'll be in Beijing from February through mid-August, so it was good to see him.

I leave you with a snippit of girl talk: "Damn it all, screw baritones and their pink dress shirts."

ADDENDA (11:45 pm) The above comment has sparked some interesting responses in re pink dress shirts. A not-entirely-random sample:
Ancona: Huh?
Worthen: Of course they're sexy. I'm wearing one as we speak. (There is no good response to that statement.)
Druce: What crack addict thought that up?
Rober: I don't wear them myself, but I'm not against them.

Today's Weather Report

Ocean Beach, off the Great Highway

Monday, December 26, 2005

I don't like this new "how do you know ---" feature on the Facebook. It interests me, but it is far too complicated for my tastes and yet doesn't capture the subtleties of my relationships. There's really no way to say "I'm friends with Anna through Vanessa, but we both dated Patrick and that's how I first met her, and we both lived in the Shoreland and we have the same opinions on how to make a proper macaroni and cheese casserole."

Or, "I met Tom because we both lived in Compton House, but we're both Catholics so we have brunch after Sunday Mass and occasionally he feeds me tea and cookies."

Or, "I've known Paul C. since we were both in diapers, because our mothers went to grad school together, but then we went to High School together"

And how do I know Victor Neminis?

EDIT: Dan (Miller) writes, "Apparently you've discovered the latest time-waster they've added. I'm not entirely sure why the entire world needs to know who lived in a dorm with/took a class with/got drunk and hooked up with someone else, but, for everyone fascinated by those connections, there's the facebook."

FURTHERMORE: It seems that people have been making me an officer in facebook groups without my knowledge. This may be a sign that I should pay more attention to my groups. That said, if you can come up with a better name for my Calvert House position, I'd be happy to hear it.

PS: Having finished off the chocolate-covered almond toffee that I got in my stocking (time check: 1:11 am, December 27), I am totally buzzed on sugar. I may not sleep tonight.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

World's Most Perfect Baby

In the hands of her Nonna...

...and chewing on the present from cousin Alice.

A Merry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yeah, so today's news isn't really big news, unless you actually know me.

I got a haircut.

Yes, a real, paid-for haircut.

She (mom's stylist, who I love) cut off a foot of the stuff, and it still goes to the middle of my back, albeit now in a more layered, shapely way. Maybe now I'll look less like a Bryn Mawr student/wiccan hippie (thank you Nick/Ian).

I'm in Love

with my new notebook.

Some of you may have noticed this problem: I have a notebook fixation. Indeed, I have a stationery-and-pen-and-pencil fetish, but it is particularly directed at notebooks. I love notebooks. I cannot leave a store without looking at the fancy notebooks. And I buy notebooks at a rate much greater than that at which I fill them.

Buying a new notebook is exciting and filled with the ever-important question: "Now, what do I put in it?" Over the years, I have it down. Kokuyo's Campus notebooks, color-coded through various mnemonic systems, are for classes. (Last year I went through a Clairfontaine phase, but they no longer make the ones I like.) Various and sundry journals are added to the pile, just in case I start journaling again and finish that ugly sparkly notebook with the faries on it. (The best journal I ever had was the bannana-paper journal I carried with me in Paris. It was ugly enough that I didn't care if it got beat up, and it was a perfect purse size. I only wish I had written in pen--the pencil makes my record illegible.)

But, what do you do with the Moleskine? These journals have a cult following: artists, journalists, and geeks alike are obsessed with them, and have taken their obsession to the web. (I direct you to Moleskinerie and 43 Folders.) I confess they are lovely notebooks, but I've had several problems with them in the past. The pocket size is simply too small for my long script and flowing hand... and they are so nice, I'm afraid to mess them up. I can't draw in something so nice (and expensive!)... my scribblings aren't worthy of it.

As of yesterday, however, I have found the solution:

buy a second one.

Don't laugh.

It's perfect for me! The pocket notebook can get thrown in a purse, doodled on (theoretically: I'm still not confident enough in my doodlings for that), collect phone numbers, shopping lists, quotes, and books-to-read. Then, in a moment of rest, the phone numbers can be added to address books, the journal entries can be copied to whatever pink journal I'm keeping, blog ideas can be noted and promptly tossed, and the quotes can be copied, in a fine script, into the second book: my commonplace book: a second moleskine in a larger size, which accomodates my hand.

I love having a commonplace book (the medievals would have called it a florilegium. My curiosity was piqued by a reference in Madeline L'Engle's Walking on Water, and I am enjoying it in all of its nerdy, pre-modern splendor.

For the history of commonplace books, see: Commonplace Books and The Lyceum: Commonplace Books. My favorite online florilegium is here.

What, then, is found in my silvia rerum? I rubber-cemented a picture of the Holy Family in the front cover: necessary, perhaps, considering that the first three quotations are from F. Nietzche. Tolkien, Heloise, and sonnets from Elizabeth Bishop and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are there as well. Expect additions from Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsburg, E.B. White, Rachel Fulton, and the Old English poets.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oh, hush.

You're a Magical Girl!

You're sugar-hyped, caffeine-hyped, and permanently genki-er than a whole busload of Disney characters on crack. You eat too much, you're a total klutz, and somehow this makes you an ideal candidate for saving the world. If you're really unlucky, you get to get naked in an embarrassing transformation sequence in every single episode, with only a few sparkles and pastel blobs to cover your dignity.

Which generic anime character are you?


I apologize for the below. I was in a bad mood. I know it will be read as either extremely bitchy or somewhat funny; I am, indeed, both. Thank you for noticing.

This is for Geoff: The McEmopants Monologues.

A Few Open Letters

Dear United States Postal Service:

I know you've been going through a hard time right now. What with the advent of e-mail, you may feel underappreciated and unloved, while overburdened with the requisite holiday cards and packages. Therefore, I was not particularly surprised when today's mail contained a card addressed to somebody else: after all, we often recieve our neighbor's mail. What did surprise me, however, was that the addresse did not live on our quiet avenue: rather, she lives on a street I have never heard of-- which is not particularly shocking, considering that she lives in a completely different zip code. The mind boggles when it considers how this tidly addressed envelope, with the full 9-digit zip code, arrived at our area post office in the first place: and how the trusty postmen at the office re-interpreted the intentions of the sender so that the card was delivered to our 194, and not her 194. I have grown accustomed to living in a world full of moral relativism and re-interpretation; postal relativism, however, is going too far.


A.P. Hutton


I recently recieved an e-mail in which you informed me, that my order, placed October 14, 2005, for the Compendium of the Catholic Church, has been delayed. No shit. I had, in fact, noticed that I had not yet recieved the book. I have long suspected you to be an instrument of the devil: now I know it. Please try harder next time, and e-mail me about the delay on the estimated shipping date; not two months afterwards. I will be purchasing my catechisms from the Pauline Sisters.


A. P. Hutton

Dear Credit Card Company:

I don't want your card; furthermore, as I am a university student with an absolutely unmarketable curriculum vitae, you don't want my business. Please cease your mailings.

Thank you,

A. Hutton

Dear Charities and other 501(c)3s:

I have a suspicion about which of you has so kindly "donated" my address to your fellow non-profits, and I will act accordingly. Those organizations will get no more of my hard-begged for money.


Miss A.P. Hutton

P.S. I would thank you for re-instating "Miss" as an option amongst the honorifics.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"I totally want to be a hyperactive ferret when I grow up." -- Steph

Friday, December 16, 2005

Read in Conjunction With Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories"

The Conversion of the Evangelical Imagination

I'm not a big fan of Fr. Greeley, but he can certainly tell a story (in the oral tradition: I make no comment on his literary contribution. My only experience of him is as a storyteller (and forgetting where the creed goes in the mass)). Here he is in the article that provoked the above essay, tongue, as they say, firmly in cheek: Relax, It's Only a Fairy Tale.

Just goes to reinforce what I've been saying for years: of course you can be helped to God through the imagination, because it is "an essential part of human nature". God comes to us on a human level. Hence the incarnation. Hence the sacraments. Hence the angels. We're very weak and bad at knowing him, and so he comes to us in a form we can touch, and taste, and see, and adore.

I'm not saying that Tolkien and Lewis are inspired in any special way-- they're not scripture-- but that the imagination is not a human weakness, but a human strength-- it helps bring us to God.

But then, that's why I'm a Catholic.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Winter Break

Patrick beat me to this theme (darnit), but I've been thinking about it for a few weeks, so I'm writing it anyway.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks; hence the name-- but there's nothing like finals week to really make you count your blessings, as a prevention against falling into deep, soul-crushing anfechtung.

So. I give thanks for Stepanie's dining hall mochas, and D. Robes and his stentorian proclamations. For the Carmelas cookies in the Classics Cafe, and Anna's company while eating them. For Jack and Agatha, and their kitty company. For Dianna, Dawn, Grace and Ada--Ada gives the best hugs. For Calvert House. For Kathy, and Ghirardelli's on Sunday nights (or any time). For the Eucharist (that should come first). For Veronica, in any form and any time, and Carolyn-- girlfriends who make you feel like you're back in High School, but in a good way. For Vanessa, who doesn't assume I've completely lost my mind when I IM her thinking she's Veronica. For Geoff's blog. For Tom, who in his sanity balances out my moments of insanity; for Monty Python, and Hot Chocolate (or not), and warm blankets.

In other news: not every communique from Munaf is a light-hearted wooden mammoth affair: it was from him that I learned of the death of Joana Bryar-Matons, one of our High School spanish teachers. Joana taught at Urban from its inception. She was terrifying, and caring, and could always be counted on to stand in the student lounge area and shout "hora de clase!" at the top of her lungs when we were slow in getting to our seats after break. (I campaigned for giving up on the whole no-bell philosophy and investing in a didgeridoo.) I only had her for one class, in which she had us memorize Garcia Lorca. By the time I was in Spanish 3, she was in the hospital fighting cancer. She used to throw water from her water bottle at you if you weren't paying attention. I have a story about her involving Sam C, Ben N (I think), games on a TI-83, and some profanity... but that is Sam's story. I was terrified of her, and I loved her, and I will never forget her kindness to me when my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was only when she gave me a hug after I recieved my diploma that saying goodbye made me cry.

In other, other news: if you would be so kind as to take a look at the lower right-hand side of the page, you should see a selection of books from my library, through one of my many internet addictions: LibraryThing. I have now added almost all of the books from my San Francisco library, and about a third of my Chicago library-- Terry Pratchett excluded. Check out my 325 + books here. Perhaps I have a problem. The next task is to go through marking the volumes that are still unread, those to be re-read, and reviewing those that I have read. The books are tagged in a way that may or may not make sense. They are also tagged by class, so if you want to know what we read in, say, 8th grade english, or 11th grade Shakespeare, or War in the Middle Ages... it's all there. (Once I tag all the 'unread' volumes, you can see how much WMA reading I didn't do!).

This is also an interesting track of obsessions. I own many volumes of comics and cartoons: I used to want to draw newspaper comics. I have a tag for 'dragons'-- last summer I went on a "Why are Americans Afraid of Dragons?" kick, with the hope that I could get a play out of it. There's some food writing, and some organic agriculture, some math, and a lot of physics.

My most common authors: CS Lewis, Jane Austen, Richard Feynman, William Shakespeare, E.B. White, and JRR Tolkien: not necessarily in that order. I'm afraid that when I add my 13 volumes of Pratchett, these authors will all be taking a step down. Most common authors on LibraryThing: JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman (who?), CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, William Shakespeare. I'd say that tells you something about the people who want catalogue their books online.

And I can't say that I wasn't pleased to see that I am the only one who posessess a copy of Epigraphic Evidence: Ancient History through Inscriptions. I'm such a dork.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lord, Make me Studious, but not Yet

This was too good to ignore: St. Augustine's Boxer Shorts.

Longer update later.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Some Days You Feel Like Margery Kempe...

In the second year of her temptation, it so fell that a man whom she loved well, said unto her on St. Margaret's Eve before evensong that, for anything, he would lie by her and have his lust of his body, and she should not withstand him, for if he did not have his will that time, he said he would anyhow have it another time; she should not choose. And he did it to see what she would do, but she thought that he had meant it in full earnest at that time, and said but little thereto. So they parted then and both went to hear evensong, for her church was that of St. Margaret. This woman was so laboured with the man's words that she could not hear her evensong, nor say her Paternoster, or think any other good thought, but was more troubled than ever she was before.
The devil put into her mind that God had forsaken her, or else she would not be so tempted. She believed the devil's persuasion, and began to consent...when evensong was done, she went to the man aforesaid, so that he could have his lust, as she thought he had desired, but he made such simulation that she could not know his intent, and so they parted asunder for the last, through the importunity of such temptation, and lack of discretion, she was overcome and consented in her mind, and went to the man to know if he would then consent to her, and he said he never would, for all the gold in this world; he would rather be hewn as small as flesh for the pot.

Readings in Medieval History, Patrick J. Geary, p. 545.

And now I can recycle all my Medieval Women's Religious Writing papers.

Study Break

Took time away from Old English to register for this year's Taking The Next Step. Man, I feel old. Discovered in the process that one of the keynote speakers is Dr. Volberding, Urban parent.

This is why parents pay $20,000 a year for their teenager to hang out in the Haight district. Networking. (And good advice on colleges.)

In the process of locating the above links, I discovered: a) Urban is hosting a "diversity night" for prospective students and parents, and b) Wendy is directing "The Threepenny Opera" for the Fall Production.

I really hope there are no Urbanites reading this post. Here goes.

My take on diversity at Urban: No matter how much money they put into forums, "Diversity Day" (a thinly veiled attempt to make all the straight white males feel like crap), and clubs, you'll still be a token. I was one too (white, but poor(er than most at the school)).

"The Threepenny Opera": Was it really four years ago now that the fall production was "The Beggars Opera" (essentially same play, one rewritten by Brecht.) I know Wendy can do different things-- she did direct "Animal Farm". I wish she'd stretch herself some more. It's hard to find ensemble pieces, but not that difficult. You don't even need to do "Our Town"!

All that said, I hope Dr. Volberding still remembers me as the girl who wrote plays.


I ABSOLUTELY, CATEGORICALLY REFUSE to attend any "Taking the Next Step" event that involves non-profits and philanthropy. Just thought I should clarify.

Someone has titled the panel on government work "It's good to be the King". I don't know why, but that brings to mind the cover page of the Leviathan. Thank you, Hobbes.

CAPS is now providing a lesson on "How to Work a Room". Oh, ick.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I still have no apartment. Trust me. When I do, you'll know. I go back and forth between wanting to be by myself, and wanting a place with roommates.

This is the point at which I'm sad I left housing.

In other news: Was glad to establish late this morning that the boy, in fact, is still alive. That said, Carolyn and I have decided to swear off of dating/boyfriends until after Easter.

Random Quote from Medieval Women's Religious Writing (in re Shakers):

SJ: Well, if you sublimate all your sexual energy into making really nice furniture...

I know listening to Dire Straits is bad for my mental health, because it makes me think I miss David.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Least Productive Reading Period Ever.

Ever, Ever. Underline, Underline, Exclamation Point.

I didn't even participate in an EOMBRP v.3.1! I made fun of only one boy, and that was last Sunday, and not to his face. And it turns out that he's 5'8'' and a half, not "5'6'' on a good day." I believe that Danny got the point, though.

So, Finals Schedule:

Monday: Studying for MWRW Final with Morgan

Tuesday: Studying for MWRW Final, OE Final

Wednesday Morning: OE Final

Wednesday Afternoon: MWRW Final

Thursday Noon: War Paper Due

Friday Morning: Latin Final

And I still don't know if I'm moving or not. I should know tomorrow.

Going to bed is probably the most productive thing I can do right now-- so off I go.