strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

Litany April 30, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:30 pm

(because it’s the last day of National Poetry Month)

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine…-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

Billy Collins

So I gave my presentation on my senior thesis yesterday. I talked about how the controversy over the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 influenced the characterization of the women in Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds, which was written during the same period. And would you believe it, They want me to publish the damn thing. In a scholarly journal and everything.

As my mama says, hol-ee shit.

I don’t really know what to think about it. Yes, my thesis is damn good, and the speech was good, but the paper itself is crap, and needs to be re-written just for my course, never mind publication. It’s exciting and validating and terribly flattering, all the same. A ridiculously brilliant (and beautiful, incidentally) grad student (she got her master’s and PhD in five years) said she was really impressed by my work, and made recommendations and gave advice. She’s a Victorianist, so this is right up her alley. Talk about an ego boost.

But I also feel like publication, gratifying as it would be, would push me in a direction I’m not sure I want. Grad school, academia, that whole circus. When, at the moment, I feel exactly like I’ve been put through a meat grinder.

In any case, I went out with friends last night and got pleasantly numb. And today C. and I hit up a new used bookstore in town. I walked away with Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lover (it’s got volcanoes, Lord Nelson, and Emma Hamilton! good times ahead), a fairy tale collection edited by Terri Windling, and I make it a rule to read anything with her name attached; Patricia A. McKillip’s Son for the Basilisk, mainly because of the nifty cover; Titus Groan, so I can finally finally start the Gormenghast trilogy.

And, lest you think all this unexpected academic success has gone to my head, I’m going to confess my dirtiest of secrets: They had a “buy four get the fifth free” deal, so I got Mary Balogh’s More than a Mistress.

Yes. That’s right. I read trashy Regency romances full of cliched hetero sex.

Her blue eyes were the sort a man could drown in–were it no for her impudence. She questioned his every move, breached his secrets, touched his soul. When he offered to set her up in his London town house, love was the last thing on his mind…

It’s so, so awful. I love it.

But I’ll redeem myself tonight by seeing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie, which will hopefully only sort of suck. And tomorrow night is more Miss Marple! She’s my new idol. When I enter Cranky Old Fart-dom, I want to be just like Jane Marple, knitting away, reading Raymond Chandler novels, and telling the police how to do their jobs.


That’s "Your Holiness Andygrrl I" to you! April 26, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:20 am

You know, with all my belly-aching over Nazi Pope B16 (I am so refering to him as that now. Makes him sound like a vitamin, or a chemical additive), I totally forgot that, shit, I’m a pope too!

Drawing Down the Moon (my entry into paganism) has a picture of the Discordian pope card that I photocopied and promptly lost (how fitting). I’ve been a pope (popess? or La Papess, like the tarot card) all this time and didn’t know it.

I’ve accepted the fact that as a pagan most people are going to regard me as a wierd, flaky, New-Agey crunchy hippie freak, and I’m okay with that; good luck finding another spiritual movement that has an entire sect devoted to complete nonsense:

III – A Discordian is Required during his early Illumination to Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog on a Friday; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day: of Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Buddhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns).
IV – A Discordian shall Partake of No Hot Dog Buns, for Such was the Solace of Our Goddess when She was Confronted with The Original Snub.
V – A Discordian is Prohibited of Believing what he reads.

(from the Discordian Five Commandments)

I heart Discordians majorly.

In other news, I have a cold and feel like shit, have nearly finished my senior thesis which I’m presenting on Friday, and am totally thrilled with the new Miss Marple series on PBS.


in which I put way, way too much thought and effort into yet another meme April 20, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:24 pm

via Greener Pastures

Name four books on your bookshelf:
Son of the Shadows, Juliet Marillier
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence
Fairy Tales, the Brothers Grimm

none of which I’ve actually read yet.

Name four DVDs in your collection:
Charlotte Gray
Sense and Sensibility
Much Ado About Nothing

and…wait for it…you’ll never guess….Tipping the Velvet (shocker!)

Name four things on your walls:
two Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban posters, one in French (Les tenebres se rapprochent! “Darkness is coming,” more or less). My Anne Taintor calendar (April’s caption reads “I plead insanity.” Rather apt, I think. My favorite says “Maybe I want to look cheap.”) I also have a “Smart Women in Sensible Shoes” poster, but I don’t actually have room for it on the wall.

Name four things in your wardrobe:
A white knee-length cotton skirt, red undershirt with faded “California” text (both of which I’m wearing now), a Macbeth t-shirt from a Shakespeare festival (that’s just gotta be bad luck, now that I think of it), and my FMLA “Smash Patriarchy” shirt.

Name four artists in your music collection:
David Gray, Cesaria Evora, Loretta Lynn, Loreena McKennitt

Name four real life stores you shop at regularly:
Borders, Barnes and Nobles, and Target when I’m home, and Hyvee grocery store here at school.

Name four things in your bag:
A zine I picked up from my friendly neighborhood anarchists: Jane, Documents from Chicago’s Clandestine Abortion Service 1968-1973, photocopies of miscellaneous scholarly articles on Anthony Trollope, ticket stub from Versailles palace (which, I gotta say, was kinda over-rated. But I have this wierd thing about keeping ticket stubs), and a tampon, a bit superfluous now that I’ve switched to cloth pads (which are FANTASTIC), but couldn’t hurt to have a back up I guess.


If you don’t want to read a long and serious post, just skip this one and come back next week. April 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 6:25 pm

I don’t talk much about religion here. Books being my favorite subject, but also because spirituality has always been an intensley personal and private part of my life. My relationship with Roman Catholicism is conflicted, to say the least, and increasingly convoluted. I’ll bitch about the political actions of religious groups, and readily mock the fundies on campus. But I don’t talk about what I believe or what I feel about religion with anyone, really. But right now I have the need to put in my two cents.

I haven’t voluntarily darkened the door of a Catholic church in six years (mandatory Mass attendence in high school and family baptisms don’t count). I became an agnostic when I was 15, and within the last two years I’ve been studying paganism and Wicca (and yet another closet door makes that pleasant wooshing sound as it slams open! woohoo!). I gave up on Christianity.

When JPII died I found myself briefly overcome with a wave of nostalgia for the Church. I used to play in a Catholic orchestra when I was a teenager, and we performed for the Pope when he came to my city in 1999. I was on stage with him. I didn’t actually meet him; I just saw the back of his head mostly. A stadium full of Catholic teens chanted “JPII! WE LOVE YOU!” I remember being underwhelmed. I’d been up since four in the morning, and frankly, it was anticlimatic. He just looked like somebody’s grandfather, not the representative of Christ on earth. He looked like he needed a nap. I never really cared one way or the other about him. I didn’t like his policies, of course, but that was to be expected. When I watched all the news footage of praying Catholics, with the incense and the rosary beads and the candles and the beautiful stained glass, I suddenly found myself missing a world that was familiar, if nothing else. It’s the culture I was raised in, a very tight and close-knit community in this area. But the feeling passed. I knew I was missing the certainties of my childhood more than anything else.

I didn’t pay anymore attention to the Pope-athon. But something wierd and unexpected happened today. When they announced that Ratzinger had been elected pontiff, I cried. Just sat down on the floor and wept. Which surprised me more than anything else. Partly due to relentless stress, of course. But I guess there must have been a part of me, at the back of my mind, that thought maybe the Church might actually try to be the moral guide I once thought it was. I owe my passion for social justice to the nuns that educated me, after all. But the election of Ratzinger burns whatever bridges were left in my heart for the Church. I guess it just hit me that I can never, ever go back again. Exile, is what it feels like. With paganism I’m happier than I’ve ever been; it’s difficult, but it’s also exhilarating and joyous. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started coming out and exploring paganism at the same time. But my family’s over there, with their saints and angels, and I’m over here, with my goddesses and mountains and trees, and even though we’re still close, it just’s further estrangement inside.

I despise Ratzinger with a fierce and active loathing, and I usually don’t waste that much of my energy on someone (no, not even on Bush and Co.) The feeling’s mutual, of course; he thinks I’m intrinsically evil. My only consolation is that he’ll probably die within a few years.


Well, it’s a good thing I decided not to go to China next year, I guess April 16, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:20 am

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.

You have the best of everything – at least, *you* think so.

French Guard
I’m French! Why do think I have this outrageous
accent, you silly king-a?!

What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


open mouth, insert foot April 14, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:38 am

Once again using poets to speak for me, because every time I open my mouth I fuck things up. I should just stick to writing English papers; at least that way the only thing I can fuck up is my GPA.


It was your lightness that drew me,
the lightness of your talk and your laughter,
the lightness of your cheek in my hands,
your sweet gentle modest lightness;
and it is the lightness of your kiss
that is starving my mouth,
and the lightness of your embrace
that will let me go adrift.

Meg Bateman


universally acknowledged truths April 11, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:03 pm

There are some works that can only be read at a certain time of the year. The Brontes, for instance, are best read in early November. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as well as The Dark is Rising, should only be read at Christmas. And it is impossible to concieve of reading Persuasion in any other month than September. Of course it doesn’t hold true for everything; Northanger Abbey can be read at any time. But for me, e.e. cummings is a spring poet.

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis