Thursday, July 10, 2008

What's the Worst that Could Happen?

July 2
Inexplicably tired today. Will have to try and get to bed early.
Mary Morrissy’s story, “Gracefully, Not Too Fast,” choked me up. First, when Ruth, the main character, is outshined by Bridget, and again when Ruth learns that Bridget can’t read and decides not to help her, causing Bridget to run away from her singing lessons, possibly giving up her natural talent for singing forever. Now I’m really excited to have Morrissy as my instructor. Her writing is powerful, but it seems so effortless.
Aiden Mathews – Dr. Haplin had him as a student in early 1970s. Look for his anthology of short stories circa 1990. “Barber-Surgeons” was pretty intense.
Almost 11am – will have lunch at noon with Janice Perkins. She’s here today, and it’s her first time in Ireland. She’s looking around and watching us pick apart Morrissy’s story without any facial expression. I wonder what she’s thinking.
Everyone in class seems to be sick. More tea and sandwiches for me! I do have a little bit of a scratchy throat, but it’s probably because I slept with my window open last night and it got cold – plus, I had some whiskey last night before I went to bed, and whiskey always makes me want to smoke a lot. Monday and Tuesday were both very stressful. No one’s come to fix our washing machine. I’m down to my last two pairs of socks and underwear. It’s been more than a week since we reported it.
Elizabeth Bowen’s rules for dialogue: Brief, add to present knowldge, eliminate the routine in conversation (the ordinary, boring stuff, but sometimes things can seem ordinary while they’re really important to characterization – not sure I agree with all of this), convey the spontaneous, keep the story moving forward, reveal the nature of the character, show relationships between people.
Haplin told us that, prior to 1990, when filmmakers wanted to film in an area reminiscent of London post-blitz, they came to Dublin to film those scenes. “The Commitments” – Filmed in 1980s; Gabriel Byrne shoed it to his students and they asked him if there’s been a war going on then. That poor bastard’s jaw must have dropped to the floor. I hope these weren’t college kids. They probably were. It’s stopped shocking me when college kids say things that stupify Madeleine.
July 3
FUCK. Headache, sore throat, slight fever, cough.
At the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar. Churches are supposed to be quiet places, but they never are. There’s always someone talking or wearing clunky shoes or people refilling the candle boxes as if they’re working in a quarry. They dump the candles in like they’re dumping stones into a cart.
A man came in with his toddler to light a candle in front of St. Anthony, who is the Saint of miracles. Or so the plaque told me. Cute kid. I wondered what miracle they were asking for. The kid seemed happy enough, and his babbling echoed through the whole place.
I figured that as long as I was here I should light candles for Jo and Sue, since they were both Catholics, and even though this is a Carmelite church, I’m pretty sure they have something to do with the Catholics, so it’s close enough. I wasn’t sure which Saint to go to for dead people, so I just lit them in front of baby Jesus. Apparently, the child Jesus and adult Jesus are two different people. I guess that makes sense, though.
St. Anne – Mary’s mother. She’s standing over child Mary with her hands on Mary’s shoulders, like a protective mother. St. Albert – not sure what his deal is. Google! Ditto for Our Lady of Fatima. She looks an awful lot like the Virgin Mary.
The stained glass in this place is gorgeous. Wish I would have brought my camera so Jayne could see these windows. I’ll have to ask her how they can be so detailed.
Ten minutes of silence for class assignment.

Peter’s Pub is out of soup. I am sad. Stuck with sandwiches and tea. My blood sugar is so low I th ink I might pass out. Thank you, China, for the wonders of tea.
Tomorrow I’ll stop by Waterstones and see if my books are in. Then I have to go price tattoos. I’ll have to ask Fintan again what the name of that studio was. I wonder if would be overpriced around Grafton or if this is the best place for it. I haven’t quite figured out yet if Grafton is a tourist area or not. I suppose I could ask someone, but I would feel kind of silly. It’s certainly not as touristy as Temple Bar, at least.
The bar tenders at Peter’s are sweet. I think they can tell I’m sick because they keep asking me if I need anything else and if I’m doing all right. The regulars keep stopping down at this end of the bar to talk with them. The younger one says he just got back from Prague and was also in Berlin. Sounds like he had a wild time. Prague is definitely on my list of places to go before I die. I’ve been talking to some of the kids who are taking weekend trips to other European cities, but I’ve decided that I’d rather absorb as much of Ireland as possible. If I’m going to be in Amsterdam or Prague or Zurich, I’m going to want to spend a lot of time there, not just a weekend. I’m already wishing I could spend more time here. If I were in one of the flats closer to the city centre, or at least somewhere other than out in Yuppie Central, I don’t think I would ever want to leave.
As soon as I get home, I’m going to get into my pajamas and stay in them for twenty hours.
I think I’m going to write about Our Lady of Fatima. It’s definitely the coolest story. Three Portuguese kids supposedly saw the Virgin Mary out in a field somewhere, and the Virgin told them three secrets that they weren’t supposed to reveal until much later (this all happened in 1917). At one point, they were jailed and city officials threatened them with violence if they wouldn’t tell the secrets – one of them even said that he would boil the children alive one by one if they didn’t tell him the secrets, but the kids never said a word. That’s pretty fucking hardcore.
I stopped at the chemist and stocked up on cold medicine. I got aspirin, throat spray, and some cough syrup with codeine phosphate – just like that stuff my doctor always used to prescribe when I got respiratory infections. It even tastes the same. Also, I made a sad face and the lady behind the counter gave me a lollypop. Drugs and candy – best sick day ever!

July 4
Sick on the fourth. No hotdogs and beer for me. Sad.

July 8
It’s so very odd – I thought that people in the U.S. were supposed to be the most image-conscious, but since I’ve been here – I don’t remember the last time I’ve been so emotionally exhausted, trying like hell to maintain my self-esteem. What the hell is wrong with people? Last night, a guy at Doyle’s actually asked me if I was jealous of my friends, if I wish I was prettier. Then all of his friends started to laugh at me and make fun of me. I haven’t had anyone gang up on me like that since middle school. It was very weird. And it’s always the guys who don’t have anything to be proud of in the looks department. I think they pick on me because they’re miserable, pathetic creatures who will go through life missing the point completely, and then they’ll die miserable, pathetic creatures.
I never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss the guys in Iowa City. Compared to the men in Dublin, they’re sweet as pie. Maybe the Dubs are extra mean to me because I’m icky AND from the US. People do seem to think that people in the US are all pretty because of the pop culture we export – television and movies – and they seem to be offended when we don’t live up to that standard of beauty – resentful, even. As if I’m refusing to be attractive on purpose just to spite them. Ha! That’s actually a really funny idea – can’t stop giggling. People are looking at me.

July 9
I sent Dan Savage an email last night about how this shit is all piling up and I’m starting to lose my cool, and he sent me a nice one back reminding me how stupid and insecure men are in their 20s. They do tend to behave like 13-year-old girls. It made me feel a lot better.
Mom sent me a picture of the girls holding up pictures that said, “Hi, Mel!” Olivia says now that the best way to clear one’s mind and get new ideas is to hang up-side-down while sucking on a wedge of lemon.

Eight Answers to Eight Questions:
Marriage is obsolete. Love is real. I don’t know if I believe in God, but I definitely believe in nature. Homosexuality is one of nature’s methods of population control, so it benefits mankind and every other lifeform on earth. Men are okay – they don’t grow up fast enough for my taste. Women are okay, too – they’re probably just as retarded as men, but it’s not as noticeable because they’re not as loud and obnoxious – it seems like fewer of them insist that everyone hear their opinion about everything (Anne Coulter doesn’t count because she’s so rigid that her vagina has collapsed and fused shut). Children are great – it’s their parents who are unbearable. Free will is all we really have.

Stone archways down the line
In rows, touching each other
over running water with
tiny, tiny fish that are made up of
Less than 100 cells, palm trees, and fireworks.
They lay eggs and we eat them.
We wish we could eat the archways.
We wish we would drink the river
Until there is nothing left but mud.

When I’m this tired, it’s like I’m on drugs. But I can’t sleep when my stomach is cramping so, so bad. I can feel it in my knees and in my calves and the joints of my toes. I’m bloated – even my fingers feel fat. I’m going to make a bad first impression for Mary’s class.
I think Gary and Kevin are heterosexual life mates now.
I want to write a poem about bacon.
Cormac McCarthy – sounds familiar. The Road. Blood Meridian is about the Western United States.

Cill Aodain: As translated by someone who doesn’t read Gaelic

A nose taught an errand boy and lag the dull dog moon,
A star is not frail bridal ardor me mine shall,
Or cheer me in cream not stop far my choice,

Go seafaring my sons in large Chianti mouths.

I glare Chlorine mung bees and chad ocre
Is my dance to be three tusks me age old;

Go, Colette, munch radishes, go dead cuisinart mesa Anne

I bogus did hail Beatles and the moor.

O, Fagin, the hatchet to go – error in my crochet

Sea errors and ghost no seascapes in ice,

Nor swimming or cheers not in galling to those

Are scathing a mile nor fingers munch.

Still Android and dance go barter hatch bread,

To Samara’s and measles gouache sort,

My dad been see him shave I cart my daisy

The meadow and eyes dim have been in good.

I miss this kid, too:

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