Fourth Wall

Saturday, December 29, 2007

In Which I Fall Into Mad, Mad, Shoe Lust

(and get an early birthday present).

For when you need to feel sexy while producing 18-20 pages on electoral politics in 13/14th century Spanish Jewish Communities...

Yes, I read with my feet up on the desk. Just another way in which I disturb myself by reminding myself of His Haberdashedness.

The shoes model the sock yarn I plan to turn into lacy socks to wear with them:

On a related note:
This is my mother:

She's pretty cool. She taught me how to knit, and how to put a bridle on a horse, and how to make pie crust... all around, a pretty handy person, and most of my friends think she's pretty awesome.

Still, sometimes she even surprises me. Imagine, if you will, the two of us perusing the shoe department at a large chain department store. Mom sees a pair of ballet flats with a little skull and cross bones over the toe, and lifts them up to show me, whilst saying:

"Oohh... pirates. But, I've heard that zombies are the new pirates."


Is this what she's getting looking at the pictures in French Vogue while waiting for her Belgian allergist to inject her with allergens?

Finally, for those who didn't believe me:

We have George Washington on our Christmas Tree.

(I'm going to Minneapolis/St. Paul to party with Carolyn & Steph. It is going to be great fun, assuming I finish this paper soon, but I'll be out of communication until January 4th, when I return to Toronto. I'm not going to waste precious Carolyn time blogging.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

News from Far & Wide, and too many quotes.

In response to the previous poll:

1) I, myself, care more that the music be leaning-towards-traditional in scope, for, as pointed out on NLM,
The music of the Mass is not of our choosing; it is not a matter of taste; it is not a glossy layer on top of a liturgy. Liturgical music is embedded within the structure of the liturgy itself: theologically, melodically, and historically.
Hymns are not part of the structure of Mass. Nothing in the Mass says: it is now time to sing a hymn of your choice. Hymns are permitted as replacements for what should be sung but only with reservations.
How convenient for the Mssrs. NLM and people like myself, that what has been recommended by every council is also in accordance with our taste.

Random, not-really-related quote from the evening that the MA-ers all got together to watch "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat":
Celticist Roommate: You know that little kid's song, "Moses led the people up from Egypt..."
Yrs. Truly: I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about.
C.R.: And you call yourself a Christian!
Yrs. T: I'm Catholic. I can sing "On Eagle's Wings" backwards, if you want.
Greg: Okay, that's just scary.

2) Since I have no home parish aside from Calvert House, that was obviously not an option. I love the Shrine because it is in North Beach, right around the block from our old apartment, so it has the feel of going home for Christmas. And I certainly don't think we should ask for a baptismal certificate at the door! There was quite a nice young woman in front of us (also wearing a Santa hat, that one with sequins) who sang along during the carols and shook hands with everyone at the peace. But this ONE COUPLE (and let us note that as soon as I sat down behind them I thought, "oh, I should move, this is going to be upsetting, but that would disturb everyone to move") who decided to come to Midnight Mass to watch it as a spectacle... talking and POINTING throughout the canon and the Eucharistic prayer made me feel like an animal in a zoo exhibit. I only wish I could have really let them get their money's worth, but I left both mantillas in Toronto. (Then the gentleman (term used with reservations) took it upon himself to go up to communion, as the girl with him waved him back and shook her head at him because she thought it was gross that the communion cup was communal.)

Okay. Rant over.

3) I don't think I'm going to cut my hair, and it has nothing to do with the sad puppy eyes my Canadian Kilt Boy* gives when he tells me that really, it would be okay with him. I'm a poor grad student with no free time. Really, I just need to find something to get the hair out of my way. The other day the phone got stuck in it.

It occurs to me, however, that my nomenclature may need some clarification: Kolya, the Platonic Boyfriend, really is just that... not really a boyfriend, despite the fact that I knit him hats and feed him on a regular basis.

My *actual* love life is more complicated and overlaps with the various religious questions I haven't been blogging about, perhaps because I've decided that the Blogosphere of the Shoreland Diaspora can really only handle one person's emo rantings.

*Yrs Truly: Tristan showed me his sporran!
(Irish) Celticist Roommate: ...uhmmmm...
Yrs Truly: It's the little purse that goes with the kilt. It's worn here.
(Irish) Celticist Roommate: Maybe you should explain what it is before indicating where it goes.

New News!
In New News from Far and Wide, the Viking called yesterday and we spent an hour and a half catching up. He's putting his raw, blond, masculinity to good use in some legal firm in Chicago working as as junior paralegal, so much of the discussion centered upon legal secretaries hitting on him, the lax nature of the dress code when called in on weekends, how unwise it would be to show up in not-pajamas in the office, and how unwise it would be to show up in not-pajamas on the CTA. We also talked about our conflicting views of when we met, the short, doomed period in which we were going on coffee dates, and him making exercise playlists for his friends' hamster's wheel-running sessions (before you ask: ragtime).

In other New News from far and wide, because Debbie LaV loves me, I got a Christmas card and the LaV family newsletter, such that I can report to all you Shorelanders that Dawn is doing a one-year internship at the Abbey of Regina Laudis doing all sorts of farm chores she's always wanted to know how to do. Sr. Diana received the habit on October 30, 2006 and writes letters home every month, and Nick got married. To quote, "The LaV family proudly announces that A.E.B. has courageously joined our (somewhat crazy) bunch and is now A.E.LaV. As you can see, she brings beauty, charm and grace with her, which we hope will rub off on the rest of us!" I'm sure that those of you who knew them would argue that the LaV girls are themselves charming and beautiful, but can agree that it would take some courage to join the family.

This is long, I need to go meet my mother downtown to make some necessary ameliorations of my wardrobe, and I'm sure you're all bored. So I'll just say one more thing: Heya, Aidan! I, too, wish I were still in Chicago, but I will say nice-to-meet-you-albeit-electronically, particularly as a kippa-ed gentleman of my acquaintance from Chicago and I were just discussing how we wished we'd run into you while there. I've heard of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, but I'm not sure if it was due to their retreats, or because their name is still on the sign to St. Thomas's school.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Poll

1) Which is more important, good music or a good homily/sermon/teaching/whatever your tradition calls it?

2) For a big holiday, would you rather go someplace with mediocre music/homiletics (depending on preference) BUT which will be full of faithful coreligionists in a familial atmosphere, OR would you rather go to a church/synagogue that has excellent music BUT is something of a tourist attraction, so that you will be, say, sitting behind people who (for example) don't bother to even pretend, don't kneel, and talk through the canon of the mass?

3) Would you ever wear a Santa Claus Hat to Midnight Mass? What if you were the woman in the aforementioned couple? When they were sitting back, nuzzling during the Eucharistic prayer, I really wanted to lean forward across the single pew between us and pull it off by the little dangling pompom.

4) The important question: Haircut/No Haircut? (Ignore Platonic Boyfriend Kolya's insistence that his heart "will break in twain" if I cut my hair. He's a strong boy; he'll pull through.) If No Haircut, I need a new way to put it up because the claw-clips just aren't cutting it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Greetings, from Our Table to Yours

Wishing you bright, full tables, happy families being silly after their glasses of wine, warm beds to climb into after evening services, and the prettiest throwback to German paganism that would make St. Boniface shudder that you've ever seen. If necessary, you can always take the advice of Dylan Thomas:

And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.

For several years now, it has been our Christmas tradition, crawling into our warm bed after Midnight Mass, to read two books: the first, "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas. The second is the Christmas section from E.B. White's "Writings from the New Yorker: 192-1976," and my Christmas gift to you is a selection therefrom.

Midnight Mass

Everyone has one Christmas he remembers above all others, one blindingly beautiful occasion. Ours is a Christmas Eve, during calf love, when we made the (for us) adventurous pilgrimage to a midnight Mass in a Catholic church. Church-going in our family had always been in the honest gloom of a Protestant Sunday morning, and we must hasten to explain that the purpose of this clandestine night expedition was far from religious; we simply had reason to suspect that if we visited that church at that hour, we would catch a glimpse of our beloved. Snow began to fall at sundown, and fell quietly all evening. The snow, the lateness of the hour, the elaborate mysteries of the Mass (we had never seen the inside of a cathedral before), together with the steady burning vision of the back of Her neck whom we adored, and then the coming out into the snow alone afterward, with the street lamps veiled in white: this indeed was a holy time.

-E.B. White, The New Yorker, 12/26/36

Merry Christmas

Well, my darlings, it seems that my requests to the universe that it postpone Christmas to give me a chance to rest have not been answered. I can tell because of this:

and this:

and this:

and other telltale signs, such as pounds and pounds of butter softening for making cinnamon rolls, and four pounds of live mussels sitting in ice water on the back porch, tempting the kitties.

I have much I want to tell you about, such as High School pride (here manifested as an Urban Blues cookie-- the swirl is a "U") and the spider that has taken residence above the kitchen sink, much to my dismay. However, I also really want to go get a quick nap in before being called to help prepare dinner. So, here's a little Christmas present for you. Merry Christmas, dears, and try to stay awake through midnight mass.

(Gwynn wishes you a Merry Christmas, too.)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

IN a fit of procrastinatory procrastination, I updated the sidebar. Some new links, more later if I remember, which I probably won't.

I'm one page-- ONE PAGE of conclusion away from letting the door hit the ass of this [expletive] [expletive] [welsh expletive] paper on its way out, after which I plan to spend my Christmas in denial. Hmmm... yummy, yummy denial.

So, before I go off and write some crap about relic cults and how women's bodies were seen by medieval clerics as meat-sacks of rotting demonic iniquity (that's a technical term), here's a little segment from today's Christmas decorating party with gals from High School.

(Instrumental music ends)
C: Tequila!
Everyone else: Huh?
C: Wasn't that the song that was playing?
A: C., that was "Frosty the Snowman".

Addenda: This is why we don't finish our papers at three in the morning.

I ALMOST (but I caught myself) wrote the sentence:

"Another fruitful line of inquiry would be to compare the affective writings about the saints of the early church—the only saints who appear in Christine’s work— with the devotional practices of female saints who lived closer to Christine’s own time, such as Catherine of Siena. Caroline Walker Bynum’s Holy Feast, Holy Fast, as well as Rudolph M. Bell’s Holy Anorexia, could provide much food for thought..."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Damage Control

I do this every time. Panic over papers, put them off and engage in serious avoidance... Which is how I have seventeen pages due tonight (I'm assuming by 5:00 pm PST if in hard copy, but I'm e-mailing it in, so I'm going to hold myself to a draft by dinner time, edit with food in my system, and send it in tonight.)

I'm tired, I'm feeling sick from too much sugar and caffeine, and the conversation that kept me up late last night is distracting me to no end (which pisses me off to no end).

But it's just time to go sit with a pen, paper, and my sources, and say: fuck it all, we're going full speed ahead. I'm too sick of this paper to think about it any longer.

And then I have that whole other paper to write, but let's not think about that for now, shall we?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Happy Dance of the Finished Sock

.5 of a pair of Broadripple socks, Knitty Summer 2003, Artyarns Supermerino 4, goodness only knows what color. I love it and can't wait to finish the second.

And one gratuitous kitty picture:

(Gwynn will eat your soul)

I've been wasting time here. Here's some of the haiku poetry it has created from y blog hwn:

but remember this
is canada so you will
need two kinds of id

(clearly it misunderstood I.D. as id, but we'll give the artificial intelligence a break, shall we, since it is getting me out of real blogging?)

of doing all i
wanted for breakfast was a
dark and gloomy day

god for we are to
ask him about phd programs
toronto is still

And, my personal favorite:
the verb is in the
knitting basket next to the
futon plans double

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Self-searching has revealed...

that, in fact, I *must* clean my room before I leave. I am psychologically incapable of leaving behind a messy room.

It has also revealed that, when I am about to have a flip out and find myself reminding myself, "no, Alice, don't have a panicked crying fit over your final paper," the reassuring voice saying, "come on, what's he going to do? Fail you? After you were one of the few people who participated in the class?" is, in fact, the voice of Capt. Haddock.

(No, not the *real* Capt. Haddock)

I had a dream last night about the International Medieval Bibliography. I don't want to talk about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Some Things I Need To Do

Before I get on the plane on Friday:

1) Pack.
2) Laundry.
3) Clean out my portions of the fridge.
4) At least sweep, if not tidy, my room.
5) Finish research for two papers and photocopy everything I may need.
6) Return books to library.
7) Finish two applications to graduate school.

So, because I may have forgotten by Thursday, or I may have gone insane from Xerox fumes or be dead in a ditch... Happy (Early) Birthday, Patrick! Twenty-four years and you're still not insane, addicted to illegal stimulants for the sake of a math career, or dead in a ditch. I approve.

(Tricky: Was it really only three years ago that we roasted marshmallows over the fireplace in your parents' living room?)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Life Continues (Amid Parentheses).

1. Knitting.

(To answer your question, Vanessa, pretty much all my current knitting is going to presents for people. This is an intervention hat for Kolya, who has none and is still trying to live in Toronto.)

2. Papers.

(For the observant: Yes, those are two copies of the same translation. Different editions = different prefatory material.)

Let us not speak of the two hours spent on the International Medieval Bibliography online, during which the Toronto Library system substantially raised my blood pressure.

3. Applications.

Today was, overall, a bad day, and I'm not really ready to blog about it. I'm mourning the marriage of a dear friend and mentor to whom I happen to be related, and events in the Hobbit Hole have made me rather sour and bitter in: re love and men in general.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


So, I'm applying to six PhD programs. Toronto is still, probably, my first choice although the library system is souring it on me, and three others are really exciting as well. However: I just got an e-mail from one of my Chicago recommenders telling me that she thinks I'd be happiest at either of the two at the bottom of my list. Let general agony and second-guessing of self commence. (Of course, one of them has Marcia Colish as a visiting fellow, and I sort of love her.)

In other news, when things get bad here at the Hobbit Hole on Ross, we watch this video.

And things are rather rough here, as today's conversation about menfolk found me telling a roommate, "well, my pointiest #7 knitting needle is in the knitting basket next to the futon." Plans: Double Pointed Needle in the Spleen. Yes, yes.

I have a complaint to make. This:

Is not a bagel.

What else is up, Chez Hobbit? Knitting:

Misremembering the Pattern, (Oh Pain and Suffering):

Ripping-out and Reknitting:

Knitting Something Else:

... and 45 pages (two papers) due the 21st.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sometimes, the Letter Home Says it All

Dear Mama,

I hope your class goes well tomorrow and that they appreciate all your preparation. I'm absolutely swamped with Spanish History and have begun referring to Yitzakh Baer (with whose "History of the Jews in Christian Spain, Vol. 2" I have spent an inordinate amount of time this weekend) as "Yitz" in my head. Note to self: must remember not to do this when presenting tomorrow a.m.

Kelly and I went to Lettuce Knit so that I could buy needles. Bought: one set of #2 sock needles, and one 5' long circular for a scarf pattern I am designing somewhat in my head (knit lengthwise, hence the 5'). The kitten was not there, which was probably good, otherwise Kelly would never have wanted to leave and I would have been tempted to buy more yarn. Then we saw a life-size anamatronic dancing Santa Claus whose 'moves' bore a rather disturbing resemblance to those of Peter, Kelly's beau. Not in the yarn shop, out on Spadina. Sorry for the incoherence; it's been a long weekend.

Weather is miserable. Snow (yay!), and then an ice storm that, as Kelly said, forgot to freeze. I got lost on the way to the 4:30 mass at St. Basils (right across the Street from both PIMS and Urbana... i.e, where I go EVERY DAY) because I tried a new route to avoid the slush, but couldn't read the street signs with rain on my glasses. Went to Evensong with Tristan instead and when we got back to my apartment (he was afraid I'd get lost if he didn't chaperone) we were both properly soaked.

Plans are afoot (betwixt me and Kelly) to spend an evening this week avoiding papers by making latkes and having a dramatic reading of "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins". If I'm really together I'll go to Zimmerman's and look for chocolate, too.

WHICH REMINDS ME, speaking of chocolate shaped like money, that the feast of St. Nicholas is arriving and I must needs acquire: 1) a teddy bear, 2) a hair brush, 3) a name tag that says, "Hello, my name is Aloysius" in order to torment our favorite Russian Orthodox Sebastian.

Due to my distressing habit of forgetting that I need food and then bingeing on junk, I have just received an e-mail from my boy reminding me to eat something; "coffee cake does not a dinner make." Leftover yellow curry: preventing scurvy in your northern-clime-dwelling daughter since Fall, 2007.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Define "Productivity"

What I have done in the past 26 hours:

* Made Vegetable Thai Curry and Granola (the Granola came out rather bland... I think it has a distaste for Canadian ingredients)
* Balled 2 skeins of yarn.
* Made a nice dent in my pile of e-mails and messages that required responses.
* Knit 12 rows on the current pair of gloves
* Started my online Yale application
* Cast on 120 out of 144 stitches for a headband before running out of yarn for the long-tail cast on
* Did four loads of laundry, plus the hand-washing
* Bought wrapping paper, and wrapped birthday presents for Anne and Vee.
* Bought my plane tickets to the Twin Cites, and from the Twin Cities to Toronto, for the New Year.

Note: None of this (aside from the application, and the food) is on the list of the truly necessary things I should be doing, such as Latin, research for either of my 20-page papers (both due Dec. 21st), my personal statements for Grad Schools, or reading Vol II of Ytzak Baer's History of the Jews in Christian Spain, on which I am supposed to lead discussion on Monday.