April 30, 2010

 ...has become this.
I feel like I should be sleeping without blinds. No control, light in my eyes when I wake up on a mattress on the floor. But I still have blinds and I am taking full advantage.

I don't want to leave this room for reasons of sheer aesthetics, but I also just don't want to leave. Leaving the Krankenhaus so I could move to Germany was hard enough, and then I knew I was coming back to some approximation in a year. I'm excited to have this blank, open, framework-less future to fill, but considering I rarely turn in papers when they're due, I probably won't have a real idea about my life until I'm dead. I guess that's what life is about, right? (I don't think I agree with this statement completely.) As an estimable man* once said, "Being lost is sexy," so that's good for me at least.

Maybe I should use my minute of speaking time at the RC Graduation to discuss this and other such valuable quotations. What, no? Whyever not?

Actually, I agree. But what will I talk about?

*I can cause debates—or full-fledged fights—with this characterization.

I Do Remember This Exists

The current soundtrack for finals is Mamma Mia. The light through my somewhat northwest-facing windows has faded as the sun sets, but I finally documented my beloved bedroom. In Emma's wester-facing room, there are still parallelograms of warm light across her floor and Table Cat.

The point I'm trying to make is that I took some magical photos in her room, but I kept doing so until my battery died, so I can't post them right now. So that's something else for you to look forward to when I finish finals. Right up there with posts about the trip to Montreal back in early March.

Two to three days stand between me and the end of my undergraduate career. It all depends on when I finish this last paper, worth only fifty percent of my Literature of the Turks grade. I was at a translation conference here in Ann Arbor this weekend. That is something else that happened. I want to buy silver sequined high heels. Table Cat is a purebred, the vet told us today.
In case you forgot who Table Cat was, here he is sitting on Caitlin's suitcase, symbolizing our current transitional state—on Saturday, none of us live here anymore. It was taken last night, before his pure blood status was determined by the vet. Table Cat has a misplaced heart, a sure sign of a Russian Blue. (But a perfectly healthy heart, don't worry.) And he is apparently the nicest Russian Blue ever. Excuse me, "unusually nice for his breed." Usually, I guess they're pretty resistant to vets, not like our lovable, compliant Table Cat. Who spends half the day moaning and whining and will only succumb to loving in private, on his own terms. I do not want to meet any other Russian Blues if Table Cat is a nice one. (This is not to say that I don't love Table Cat dearly. He's nice to me most of the time.)

A couple weeks ago, Emma and I added a suffix to Table Cat's name: he is now Table Cat Porphyrogenitos, Table Cat Born-in-the-Purple...that is to say, imperial in the Byzantine sense of the word. That's as imperial as it gets. In light of the recent evidence, I guess we were right about his high standing. Also, his Byzantine identity perhaps explains the frequent battles between Table Cat and Haroun, whose namesake is, after all, Harun al-Rashid, caliph in the golden age of Baghdad. A caliphate, like an empire in the Roman/Byzantine sense of the word, is universal. There is only one caliph, as there is or should only be one emperor (tell that to the Fatimids in Egypt and the Ummayads all the way out in al-Andalus, or the Holy Roman Emperor). Anyway, it causes conflicts to have two universal rulers in one moderately-sized house on Packard. To be fair, though, neither of them know about history.

Emma and I have a Byzantine history exam in two short days. If only this sort of essay would get me an A. I would draw parallels to the cats all day if it would get me an A. I also could have written an essay about the melancholy aspects of Table Cat's life for my German test, but even though I could have connected it to Rilke's poem "Der Panther," which is about a panther who no longer sees the outside world through the bars of his cage and has essentially stopped living, I didn't think that would help my grade. Plus I already wrote a short story about a Table Cat-panther combination for that class.

In summary: finals are horrible, Table Cat has better blood but is also probably healthier than you, and I still exist.

Dear Professor

Dear Professor,
I'm not quite done with my paper yet, and this is the reason why:
I'll turn it in as soon as I can. Thank you for your understanding.

The truth of the matter is that the cats are probably not completely to blame, and my professor is so old he doesn't even use email. But he is understanding and doesn't seem to care at all. The AIM conversation Haroun was having is recorded on Hunting for Ghosts here.

On an unrelated note—well, I guess it's one reason I'm not done yet—the lolcat Waste Land is hilarious.

april hates u, makes lilacs, u no can has. (1)
april in ur memoriez, making ur desire.
spring rain in ur dull rootzes.

earth in ur winter, covered in snow
can has potato. PO-TA-TO.
im in ur hofgarden, drinking ur coffeez.
I like that they kept the German—Hofgarten, z.B.


This is not what I should be doing right now. I should be reading that book I have in my backpack, the one that I think should be a reasonable introduction to the history of Byzantine Trebizond (a city on the southern Black Sea coast, which means northern Anatolia, it was a big port city) but by the time I look at the table of contents or get to the end of this sentence, I remember that it's a collection of papers and therefore less comprehensive. Or I could be writing a response to Orhan Pamuk's The White Castle. Or translating. Or...the list goes on! April is trying to live up to its position as the cruellest month, but sorry, T.S. Eliot, I stand by my declaration that November is the worst, with February somewhere in the middle. The temperature curve is way better in April.

Anyway, my dear friend Ali had the foresight to graduate a semester early, and so she has found herself with hours of unoccupied time to fill. She may have a job, and not sleep enough at night, and I'll be the first person to tell you that being sleepy all the time is horrible—but I'd love to have time I wanted, but did not have, to fill. Ali recently texted me that she needed a hobby, but couldn't think of one. I couldn't come up with anything not obvious to tell her, besides jump rope, which isn't a hobby for most people and can't really take up that much time. Maybe if you were doing it with the long jump ropes with a person on each end and the patterns of complicated hopping and stuff. That's too hard.

Instead, here's a list of all the things I can't wait to do when my term papers have all crawled into their graves and my MCard has ceased to open doors for me...literally. Maybe later, when I'm done with all my work, I can think constructively for other people.

1. Read.
Most obvious, most important, most exciting. Well, maybe not most exciting, but reading did essentially define my life from age seven to age fifteen. High school was sort of a drain on my time, as was the novel Ali and I spent six months writing. And all that embarrassing poetry I wrote about passing in the hall and shared glances and all that. Writing got in the way of reading, as did geometry, algebra, calculus, biology, chemistry, French, English, not physics because I hated it and read Virginia Woolf and all sorts of things during the wasted "Anyone have any news?" portions of class that took twenty minutes if I was lucky. Anyway. The fact that I developed an appreciation for Virginia Woolf of all people gives away that I did not, in fact, forsake reading entirely. But living in books ceased to be what I wanted, and I had to study. In Germany, I read a couple German novels and devoured Dorothy Dunnett's Niccoló books, especially during breaks. Other than that, though, the intense longing to read had dissipated. Now it's back, and just in time. I'm increasingly aware of how much there is that I haven't read, and there's a complete lack of obligation coming in...three weeks.

2. Knit.
Even if afterwards, I never knit again—which is probably stretching it–I WILL finish the socks I started in May of 2008. I was on the way to finishing them, having received detailed instructions that I understood from Emma when she was in Slovenia with Maraia and me, but the goddamn Irish security at the goddamn Dublin airport took my goddamn metal knitting needles. Even though they've been allowed on planes again for years. On a side note, this exact time last year minus one day, I was probably in the airport or on the plane to Ireland.

3. Learn to throw a pot well.
That might not work. I've been taught twice. I was worse the second time. (Incidentally, the same was true with calc II.) On the plus side, my mom bought my brother a pottery wheel, so I can practice in the comfort of my own home. Or backyard.

4. Go on walks.
Another thing I miss about home and high school is the long walks I would go on with my friends, the dog, or just me. 'Just me' usually included the dog. But he was up for any distance, as long as he couldn't hear gunshots or firecrackers in the distance. Then it was straight home for him. Anyway, I love walking around my neighborhood and critiquing the houses with friends, or singing to myself as darkness falls and no one is around to hear.

5. Bike.
In a similar vein—wait, is that really something people say? it sounds so gross—I am looking forward to bike rides at home. Bike rides for fun and exercise, not because class starts in five minutes and I didn't leave in time and now I have to pedal pedal pedal up that awful little hill and pant pant pant and my gears don't switch anymore and the back brake is broken and please let's walk tomorrow. I have plans to return to the old seven-mile loop, a good portion of which is biking along Lakeshore Drive. I love the lake. I will miss the awful little hill in Ann Arbor, though. Flying down it on the way home is glorious.

6. You know, I can't remember anymore. I'm going to keep taking pictures, and writing blog posts, and watching films in spite of losing my precious access to the Askwith Media Library. I'm going to travel, at least a little. I'm going to look for jobs. I hate looking for jobs. I'm going to organize my house and become my parents' workhorse and manager. I will strip wallpaper. I will wash walls. I will not be allowed to paint because my father is a perfectionist, but although he doesn't know it yet, we are painting those goddamn mint green rooms. And maybe I'll finish inputting the last wave of revisions to Ali's and my novel. It's only, what, five years later? And putting the photos from my entire childhood and before I was born into photo albums. Scanning my parents' slides of Europe, and the renovations of the Victorian house on Alexandrine, and whatever else is in that huge box of slides. Slides. Who does that? We didn't even have a slide projector until my uncle moved to California and got rid of things he owned, and I've never seen these slides.

P.S. This list is very incomplete, but it's 2 a.m., I still have all that work to do and more. And Ali, I'm aware that most of these things cannot be done while you're at work, but I can't think right now.