Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm tired and grumpy

So I have a fantastic serious of posts planned out about my thoughts on organic farming, but right now I'm really tired. You're used to me rapturing all over the place about sunrises and fresh vegetables, but let me give you another look at my life: I shoveled four backhoe loads of compost into a 60 x 60 garden, repaired a fence, pruned and tied up 150' of tomato plants, and harvested 15lb of cucumbers today--because of which my wrists are all scratched up and itchy. Last week, I went to the Good Will in Christiansburg with some friends and bought a pearl bracelet. I tried it on and suddenly had this horrifying realization that my hands look like those of a seasoned mechanic. The bracelet seemed like this mockery of womanhood, like heels on a drag queen. My clothes also all smell like sweat because my washer sort of swills things around, burps a couple of times, takes a nap, and then sort of wrings them out. My tap water smells like frogs because a scum of tree pollen floats on the surface of my cistern. I love farm work, but my shoulders ache and I'm sunburned six shades of rose and bronze. If the average human being says 7,000 words during a day, I say 500. 

Until, therefore, the organic-farm muse strikes again, here's a little cheer-up from the wonderful world of the internet and also Britain. Happy Friday. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

UFO Sightings

Betsy often laughs at me. Most notably, she laughed at me as I limped in late to our Dante lecture, bleeding heavily from my knee, hands, and foot after a mysterious shift in the balance of the universe caused me to fall up some stairs on my way to class.

More benignly and less friendship-threatening-ly, she finds hilarious my passing interest in conspiracy theories, cryptozoology, and ufo-ology. Incidentally, I did not make up inter-demensional string beings. Also, if you are a kindred spirit, you can sign a petition to various and sundry governments to protect Sasquatch.  Protect our wildlife. 

I'll admit it, I don't actually believe in bigfoot or aliens, but I wish I did. I am cursed with non-belief. Lo, I have been a reluctant skeptic from my mother's womb and a doubter of mystery. Sometimes I psych myself out a little bit just so I can imagine what it would be like to actually be a kook who hunts Sasquatch. Sometimes when I walk out in the woods, I try to imagine that behind every odd crack and crunch crouches an undiscovered 200lb primate. Sometimes I've amused myself with bogies of at least six impossible beasties before breakfast. This is easy when you actually live in a cabin like I do. (Last night I woke up at 4am with what sounded like an explosion of all my pots and pans in the kitchen. A raccoon? Impossible. The Flatwoods monster has probably moved East.)

Some nights, however, I don't have to make things up. 

My third night on the farm, the crescendo of what sounded like a John-Cage-orchestrated rip in the Earth's atmosphere took several years off my life. Now, I wander around in the misty woods when I pop awake in the early morning before dawn without a thought. When I first got here, I confess that I huddled on my narrow cot as a terrifying plague of June bugs pinged against my window screens in a hellish rain, little limbs outstretched like angels of death. I tried to take my mind of the rustle of moth wings against the glass by madly flipping pages of Maximus the Confessor (note to past self: Eastern theology does not make good escapist literature). Things would walk past my cabin, sniffing, and my heart would go into heart-attack-inducing palpitations. 

That third night, however, I heard something different, like the wind rending and screaming overhead, and so shrill I could feel it rip through me as well. 

I was pretty damn sure I was going to be abducted by aliens and some confused state trooper with a heavy Appalachian accent would find me wandering along the high way fifty miles from Floyd in a week, a wreck of a woman with mad wide eyes and several organs missing. Hollywood would make a movie about it.

Turns out that it is a government conspiracy--a conspiracy to prevent the residents of Floyd County from sleeping. The Air Force sends trainees right over our heads at all hours of the day and night. Well, they're not supposed to fly after dark, but they fly so low at 11am sometimes that you'd swear you lived in a war zone. 

I'll admit I love watching them fly in the daytime: they move so impossibly fast. Just think, when you get in your car and zip down the highway to the grocery store, you're going faster than anyone had ever gone before (unless perhaps they fell off a cliff), say, 70 years ago. Ever. Now watch the jet go overhead and let your jaw drop a little. I once watched a video taken from the cockpit of the first man to break the speed of sound. He died. The memory of that spinning camera and the silence of the cockpit I still find chilling. Just the other week one of those Air Force planes went down in fire a few miles from here. 

Whenever their scream startles me at night now I like to distract myself from my irrational sweaty-palmed fear with the thought that they're shepherding an alien ambassador to the secret interplanetary embassy here in southwestern, VA. It's almost as good as being abducted myself--except without the movie story rights.

(Also literally seconds ago I heard a very loud and mysterious explosion. This happens about once every two weeks. Explanations?)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fast Facts About New York (Pt. 1 of a series)

You will never kill all the mice in your house. You will try everything, everything will work, and they still will never all be dead. Unless you don't have any in the first place, in which case, find some wood and go knock on it real fast. Or just sit tight, because they're coming, especially if you live in Harlem, where everyone is out of mouse traps (this is not a joke; this is a fact).

You know how Feivel never dies? Real mice don't ever die either. They just come back as other mice. 

My Life in Books Right Now

Oh hey, this is the part of the blog where I list the books I'm reading and try to tread the fine line between pretentiousness and asininery (and hey, sometimes you fail in the first sentence -- lawl, as the kids say these days) without boring both of you to death. Let's see how it goes, shall we?

Anyways. Books. Here's what I'm reading:

-The Seven Storey Mountain -- I'm supposed to be reading this with friends from school and I so totally am, but I don't know where my copy is right this second, so that's all I have to say about that.

-The Power and the Glory -- I can't even explain how good this book is. I don't want to write about it because I'm worried I'll jinx it, but it's too good not to talk about. I read it as a senior in high school and was absolutely stunned, and I'm happy (but not surprised) to say it stands up to re-reading (unlike some other books I read in high school.) Greene writes beautiful sentences, his story gets under your skin, his characters -- from the half-caste to the pious woman in the prison to the atheist 13-year-old to the whisky priest himself -- throb right off the page, and he's heavy-handed enough that you can't escape what he's saying (like that hate is a failure of imagination, or that tiny sins can be deadlier than huge ones, or that you can't outrun the devastating speed of the mercy of God) but so artful you can't get it out of your head.

-1Q84 -- I'm kind of on the fence about this one, but I can't stop reading it because it's insanely immersive; I can't remember the last time I got this wrapped up in a story, so Murakami must be doing something right. It's in translation, so some of the sentences are kind of clunky (I might start a feature called Ugly Sentences in Murakami, time will tell), but I've almost missed my stop on the subway multiple times because I've been so lost in it. Reading it is, honestly, therapeutic -- it makes me completely forget I'm in New York, which is impressive. And it's probably even worth the shoulder problems I'm getting from carrying it everywhere.

-The Sportswriter -- I started reading this because I left 1Q84 at the office over the weekend and needed something to read and couldn't find Power and the Glory. I'd almost forgotten how good Richard Ford is, which is a scary thought. He takes the boring life of a middle-aged divorcee living in a made-up town in New Jersey and makes it the most absorbing thing you can think of. He's crazy. Plus anyone with a head as big as his has to pump out good stuff.

And I'm always kind of perusing St. Bernard of Clairveaux's sermons on the Song of Songs because they are beautiful and I love them.

You know, this is kind of frustrating. I feel like I'm great at explaining why I hate books, but as soon as I find one I like, I turn into some sort of cotton-mouthed fangirl. Whatever, make of it what you will. I'll be reading Greene until I die, and you should too.