Quagmire Rules

That horrible season is already upon us, again. There are three weeks left in the semester proper, and nothing looks pretty--not me, not our apartment, not Edmonton, not our treacherous sidewalks. The late March blizzard  breaks me every year. After two weeks of sun (you forget that a ray of sun can feel warm) and rivulets, we have wind and over a foot of new snow.

It occurred to me last week that while my ordinary-time eating habits are actually quite good, the quality and quantity of food I consume during days or weeks of extraordinary stress is probably enough to account for at least half of the weight I would like to permanently lose. Also, no matter what I tell myself to the contrary in the woe and frenzy of the moment, drinking powdered hot chocolate and eating toast and cereal every two hours does nothing for my research essays. These end-of-the-semester bouts of emotional eating must stop. 

Here, then, are some Quagmire Rules. 

1. 1 L cold water first thing in the morning (before coffee, before breakfast) 
2. Black tea with milk and sugar = reviving treat, not default liquid
3. If not hungry for proper meal (vegetables, protein, nicely prepared), not hungry
4. Three meals + afternoon tea, not eaten in bed or at desk
5. Powdered hot chocolate will never taste like it did fifteen years ago (save the calories to make real cocoa)
6. General feeling-gross and depression better solved by shower or nap than sugar 
7. Eat off of a plate, drink out of a nice cup
8. Time does actually exist to cook supper and exercise
9. Save sweet things (ahem, banana muffins) for afternoon tea (not breakfast, not out of the pan)
10. Eating right before bed or to stay awake = not fun
11. Vitamins

ETA: I turned 22 last week. On my birthday morning, I was in the middle of a plank when I looked up and saw myself in the mirror. I looked strong. I looked attractive. I looked fine. I am reminded that I've come a long way since I spent my sixteenth birthday making myself vomit in the shower. I'm also reminded that some of the things I'm still dealing with are the residual effects of having had an eating disorder, and that I need to keep addressing these issues (at first I wrote 'working through this shit')--gently, but conscientiously. 


December 13, 2012

I am here at my desk eating homemade pea soup. I am here to tell you that the quagmire has been waded.

Monday, I woke up at 5 am. I showered, and by 6 am I was writing the first section of an 8-page final paper, due at 3pm. At 3:30 pm, I walked into class with the 8 pages clutched in my hand, summarized the paper for my class, and was in the campus bar with everyone else by 4 pm. At 4:15, I left. I came home, put on a pot of soup, washed all the dishes, and started assembling and writing commentary for my poetry portfolio, due Tuesday. At 11 pm, I finished. Up at 5 am on Tuesday, I spent the morning catching up on the 100 pages of my rhetoric textbook which I had yet to read. A few minutes before noon, I left for school. I handed in the portfolio, wrote my exam, came home, watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, and fell asleep. Wednesday, I worked at the cafe all day. This morning, I was up at 5 am once again, at school by 7 am, and writing my last exam by 9 am. At 11:30, I was done. I walked 40 minutes across my beloved river valley blasting La Roux through my headphones to meet Tim for espresso, Italian hot chocolate, and fennel biscotti. I'm done.

I cannot tell you how luxurious it feels to be alternating knitting a sweater sleeve with cleaning the apartment. No papers! No tyrannical to-do list! No JSTOR tabs open in my browser! I plan to read unassigned novels and math, bake pfefferkuchenplatzen, knit, work out, decorate the fig tree, practice programming, perhaps construct a paper chain.

(There is a part of me that cuts her hair, pierces various body parts, plans tattoos, swears, wants to be as tough as Lisbeth Salander. There is another part of me that spends her evenings curled up with double-pointed knitting needles and silk-wool blend yarn, bakes gingerbread squirrels, and feels a great affinity with Laura Ingalls.)

quagmire mittens

I've entered the quagmire of the semester--I hope to emerge alive in two weeks' time. Today I wrote an imitation of JFK's inaugural address for rhetoric class. Around the 500 word mark it came to me that I would like to start running again, and paint my nails. I feel lethargic and dowdy already, and I fear it is only going to get worse. I have plenty to say on the subject of why it is ridiculous to base 50% of a student's GPA on work accomplished mid-panic attack and on three hours of sleep, and how no one in their right mind could call my generation lazy (though they often do).

I've been procrastinating by finishing these mittens.




The wool is from a Canadian company called Briggs and Little. It's wiry and sheepy, and apparently will last forever. 

I had to do surgery on the cuff of the first mitt I knit. I had to unpick two rows after the second cuff turned out to be shorter. Did you realize that knitting only unravels one way? I feel that I am learning a lot on this knitting-front lately. 





The Finishing Project--Day 7 (that is, 9)

Indian Summer

Forget your gift of an Indian Summer.
We do not want it;
We run on towards Winter.

This pulpy haze seems kinder,
But we gnaw the pit,
And your gift of an Indian Summer

Deflects our dive for the center.
Like the whitening rabbit
We run on towards Winter. 

We crones won't stand the meander--
Our short time is split.
Take your gift of an Indian Summer,

Give way to the year's inevitable splinter,
Let us begin the fit;
Forget your gift of an Indian Summer.
From here we will run on towards Winter.


































An imperfect villanelle, to finish off. Yes, this one's for school too.



The Finishing Project--Day 2

Plates, pitchforks, knives, dishes
And extra bought
All we have for the loaves and fishes
All panicked, caught

Crumbs, soupbowls, bones and cups
And broken plates
All the dishes wash them up
All we will wait

Another ENGL 294 assignment--surprise! A nursery rhyme. I'm not bothered, using school writing for this project, so no one else needs to be bothered either. It's a small miracle that in September I'm writing anything but smarmy essays. 

ETA syllables

9 to 1

Come September:

English 205 - Traditions in English Rhetoric
English 240 - The Bible in Literature
English 294 - Introduction to Writing Poetry (I may regret this)
English 496 - Intersections: Theory/Culture (Prosody)
History 205 - Medieval Europe

Come January:

English 242 - Augustan Prose and Poetry
English 296 - Reading Creative Nonfiction
English 322 - Medieval Drama
English 365 - Early 20th Century British Novels
English 401 - Studies in Genres

December 1

I handed in my final paper last night, went to my last class and bought myself a bottle of oatmeal stout to celebrate. I walked the 70 minutes home slightly off-kilter (if you didn't know, I am the lightweight of lightweights--still, I like a manly beer). Tim and I played Nintendo. We gorged on raisin soda bread and hot chocolate from a mix.

Now it's three in the morning. The house is a post-major-paper mess, and I have a hangover (I'm saying that it's more from the simple sugar than the alcohol). I can't wait to get started on Christmas vacation. I'm going to hop in the bath in a minute, and then, quietly, by myself, begin nudging our apartment back to rights, and preparing for an Advent season of books and music and hopefully much good work.

I have a list of things to do today that includes painting my fingernails, baking cornbread, walking in the snow, and starting A Brief History of Time. (Sometimes life is so, so sweet.)

when I am finished this paper I am going to

- clean the dirty pan in the oven
- paint my fingernails coral
- cut my bangs
- go for a run
- buy fabric and knitting needles (for a pillowcover and a sweater)
- write notes to my two favorite professors, because plans have changed for next fall, and I will be entering a venerable giant of a university
- make gnocchi with mushrooms
- make banana bread with chocolate chips
- go out for coffee to a new place, sit alone and write in my journal
- wash the sheets
- reply to letters
- post the first colour blog (blue), following Emily's charming example

But for now, to work.

translations

3.Cum hi decem viri ex moenibus semel discessissent, alia occasio pacis numquam oblata est.

When these ten men has once departed out of the city walls, another opportunity for peace was never offered.

11. Nescio utrum tres coniurati maneant an in exsilium contenderint.

I do not know whether the three conspirators remain or whether they have struggled into exile.

12. Nos conferamus ad cenam, mei amici, bibamus multum vini, consumamus noctem, atque omnes curas nostras minuamus!

Let us go to dinner, my friends, drink much wine, use up the night, and diminish our cares!

To Do

- fold up, stitch, and package an Etsy order (someone lovely in Japan claimed a copy of the how-to book!) CHECK
- stretch CHECK
- compose letters to Glynis, Robyn, and Emily CHECK
- run CHECK
- go to the post office CHECK
- drink a couple litres of water CHECK
- clean the bathroom CHECK
- put some laundry in CHECK
- finish The Hobbit CHECK
- read Lacan on Poe's The Purloined Letter
- make pizza CHECK
- write
- read whatever is supposed to be read for English two-oh!-seven CHECK
- download The Wind That Shakes the Barley CHECK
- clean the floors CHECK
- make some tea CHECK

required reading

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
Anne of Green Gables
Arcadia
Black Swan Green
A Clockwork Orange
Cloud 9
The Coral Island
The Driver's Seat
From Russia With Love
The Great Gilly Hopkins
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
The Hobbit
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Lonely Londoners
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Poor Things
Twelve Dancing Princesses and other fairy tales
Waterland
The Wind in the Willows
Doing Grammar
Critical Tradition

This is going to be one sweet year.