Books, mornings, and priorities.

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The other night, as my film scanner hummed, showing me what the chemical baths had done while they danced with my film, a good friend was over and we were chatting about what mattered. Books, travel, good friends, good wine, being kind, and loving, loving, loving. She left here with two books to borrow, and I will borrow a few from her. I’ve been loaning books out more, because they do no good just sitting on our shelves.

I loaned her The City of Fallen Angels, a book by John Berendt, about a mysterious fire in a famous opera house in Venice. In one or more ways, there are characters who are connected, be they corrupt Italian businessmen, old Venetian glass-making families, writers who had boxes there, etc. and he weaves together a tale of an old, eccentric, rapidly-changing but still very traditional city. It was one book that I bought this year and have re-read twice.

I loaned my mother the new book The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. Kate, who is not a historian, nonetheless went headfirst into doing amazing research to reveal the true stories of the thousands of women who were employed in radium dial painting factories in the first half of the 20th century, and who often got sick and/or died due to ingesting and working with the radioactive substance. Government ignorance, corporate greed, a poorly-working legal system, and the fact that these women were often working class meant that many died before their stories could be properly heard, and many didn’t even know what was causing them to have brittle, broken bones or cancers that suddenly appeared on their youthful bodies. It made me send out many thankful, grateful thoughts to those brave women, and our worker safety systems and legal system are now much more comprehensive because of what these women did. It was one of the books i devoured in Hawai’i, as pictured above.

It’s been snowing relentlessly here, and I’ve been in a more combative mood being inside and working as much as I have been, with little to no sunlight for me to enjoy. However, one of the best parts of my days have been waking up early, getting dressed, packing a book (right now I’m reading Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll by Peter Bebergal) and walking in the snow, which camouflages my footsteps, and making my way in the quiet morning before most people are up, and walking the mile or so to a coffee house to read and hold a hot cup of caffeine in my hands for a few minutes before going to work. Mornings are sacred to me, in that they are quiet, private, and much more likely to be not interrupted by the same going-ons that happen at night. Drunken men unaware of personal space, loud trucks zooming about, groups of people huddled like penguins slowly making their way to a bar or a restaurant. None of that is there in the mornings, and I love the purposefulness of them. Nobody tries to make the world too aware of themselves before the sun is up, and I dearly love it.

Something else I love and miss is traveling. The friend that stayed with us talked about going to France with her fiance this summer, because they both have kept their heads down and have been working so hard for so long, they feel they need to look up, look around, and go do something. I told her she needs to not question it, find a flight, and book it before she can say no to herself. Americans love to suffer, to struggle, and to glorify the two. We take pride being the last sucker at work or the first one in the office. She knows this, and both of us feel shame at wanting to go and spend money on trips and on good food, but I feel that my quality of life is so much better when there is something planned, something to look forward to. Keeping ones head down and just working with your eyes forward means you never get to see as much, and I think that even though we have horrible wage stagnation, most of us have lots of student debt, and most of us will never dream of owning real estate or new cars, that we can still do and live and breathe and thrive. We can thriftily plan a trip across the sea so we can give hugs to loved ones not seen in ages, or buy a nice block of expensive cheese here are there. Denying oneself constantly is foolish, and while last year was a huge exercise in no to such Epicurean joys due to my unemployment, now that I am gainfully employed I feel so much better about going to a nice dinner with my boyfriend, about dressing up or spending a little money on something that matters to me, like saving for my trip to Brazil to see Logan at the end of the year or booking a cabin somewhere quiet.

This post has been longer than I planned, but once I am inside my mind darts back and forth like an excited bird in a cage. I have written about how one has much time to think during the long, dark winters here in Montana, and mine is not immune to that. I’ve been quietly trying to write more and be more generous with my writing, especially here.

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Read & consume: A list.

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Lusting after this WWII-era lingerie set that men stationed overseas would send to their sweethearts.

Reading The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt and falling in love with his descriptions of Rome and Florence in the 14th century. If you’re interested in humanism, how The Renaissance may have happened, or are a book lover, the main protagonist, Poggio Bracciolini is compelling as a great angle to dissect this amazing wave of art, creativity, and flourishing discovery that emerged from Florence at some point in the late 14th/early 15th century.

Quietly pining for the funds to have a house covered in this Cardiac wallpaper from the Morbid Anatomy Museum. I’ve slowly accepted that if there is a point where funds are available, I will make any abode I have into an ode to all things Gothic and mildly creepy.

Waiting to be home so Logan and I can attempt to make this Nutella and mascarpone torte. (The recipe is in Italian but Google Translate is very handy!)

Loving these flirtatious and forward acquaintance cards from the 1870’s and 1880’s. Young men and women could hand out these business card like pieces of paper which offer to walk women home, introduce men as “kissing rogues”, and serve as ways to circumvent some of the formalities of Victorian norms.

Been wanting to watch this wonderful film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, for some time! Hopefully I’ll find time in a few weeks.

I may or may not have splurged and gotten myself this incredible Opening Ceremony x Kodak hat because everything else in the collection was way too pricey. My love for Kodak and film will never, ever die.

Laughing out loud at the marvelous James Kerr (aka Scorpion Dagger) and his German Renaissance-based short videos, .gifs, and other creations which he cleverly pairs with 1960’s and 70’s rock/punk/garage band tunes (and from whom I have now widely expanded my musical repetoire). This clever dude also got to do some of the animation for the new The Stooges film Gimme Danger (which I very much want to see).

Mario Badescu’s glycolic foaming cleanser has been helping me keep my skin happy with the transition to colder, dryer winter.

Also finished The Medici Conspiracy, a fantastic book about the complex world of stealing, buying, and selling ancient Roman and Greek antiquities. The authors weave a “whodunit” web of tombaroli (local men who “excavate” tombs) to secretive buyers with Swiss lockers full of stolen goods to curators at some of the world’s most renowned museums, who all work quietly together to make it so that much of the world’s ancient antiquities are gotten by ill, destructive, and horrible means.

All the gilded things

 

I’m not religious, but there is something about the various jeweled illuminated manuscripts that, although they are not secular, are simply gorgeous. The craftsmanship to create one of these is staggering, and the beauty that they exude cannot be matched.

Oh yeah, and they’re gaudy. They’re very gaudy.

I just got done completing my GRE- oh, what a joy it was! I am being sarcastic to the extreme, but it does feel satisfying to see the light at the end of the undergraduate tunnel at last. It’s still far away but closer than it has ever been.

Books as follows:

1. Lindau Gospels, c. 860 CE

2. Codex Aureus of St. Emmarum, c. 870 CE, possibly from same workshop as Lindau Gospel

3. Book of Gospels, Northern France, c. 860 CE

Pingu in Serbian

Alright, so this is incomprehensible, unless you DO happen to speak Serbian or Croatian. I’m about 90% sure this is Serbian- my friend picked it up whilst bungling around in Eastern Europe before heading to India for the summer.

Anyway, Pingu is my FAVORITE stop-motion claymation creature! He’s Swiss, he spouts gibberish, and he’s so adorable!

I must say, though, that without being able to read the text the pictures are hilarious. Hil. Ar. Ious. Pingu’s face? I mean, I giggled as I scanned these in my school library-  nobody understood what that weird girl with the children’s book was laughing at.

Books, Libros, Libri.

Normally I devour books ceaselessly, with an enthusiasm I can only compare to when I am in a museum I love, but this last year I’ve taken to re-reading old favorites and lazily reading un-challenging historical biographies (One exception: I was enthralled by a biography of Ernest Shackleton, who is now my Favorite Historical Badass- formerly Piet Mondrian occupied that title.) Feeling like a literate failure, it is time to start actually reading, dammit!  Thusly, I have begun a list of books that I need to somehow get my hands on and read! Or, I want to read more by selected authors, such as Jules Verne, the original sci-fi master.

Here goes.

Berlin Poplars – Anne B. Ragde

Siddharta – Herman Hesse ( I mean, hell, I lived only a short ways away from his house in Montagnola!)

The Extraordinary Voyages – Jules Verne

Moby Dick – Herman Melville (read it once when I was far too young to comphrehend anything other than how awesome it would be to see a white whale)

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men – David Foster Wallace

Lipstick Traces- Greil Marcus

A recent book by Slavoj Žižek (I can’t remember the title!) a Slovenian author that I find intruguing- his book had an exceptional review by The New Yorker this summer.

Dracula – Bram Stoker

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

Right now I’m reading Harpo Speaks by Harpo Marx, and Chuck Klosterman’s Downtown Owl- one for a History class and another for pleasure. I’ve also been making my way through Hemingway’s short stories, which have been captivating and timeless. Klosterman has been making small town life seem wonderful- all the simmering, waiting, and watching, while Harpo is all doing, living, breathing.

So many books! So little time! This list is paltry, but I hope it grows. (If you have any literary suggestions, I would more than appreciate it!)