abigailnicole: (Default)



raining here in New Orleans; I could be doing homework but am instead choosing to sit around being surly and looking at mixtes on the internet. Just got back from a long-car-trip Thanksgiving (~12 hours in a car each way NOLA to KY) and thus am craving bike rides. Since it’s raining and blah outside this means not so much riding my bike (after all, the aforementioned homework) as reading bike blogs. 

I had my last med school interview while I was at home, at the University of Kentucky, in the rain. It’s a good school with a huge brand-new hospital. Classes only last from eight to noon your first two years so you have afternoons to study. The girl next to me was wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit and had a Bumpits in her hair. When we left the girl I walked out with said: “I can’t wait go to home and put on sweatpants.” I stood on S. Limestone in the rain in my black pencil skirt and black blazer with a rainbow umbrella and put my heels on a pink X that was spray-painted on the sidewalk. A house on the street had thick leaves all over their yard, and for some reason the red, orange, and brown against the green looked extra saturated in the lack of other colors, the asphalt, the sidewalk. 

I felt disappointed. 

My boyfriend’s second-choice school is going back home to Oregon, to have to live in Portland and go to Portland State. You know, a city, where everyone rides bicycles, and there are cute things everywhere and all kinds of mid-twenties hipsters doing whatever makes their little artsy hearts happy. There are good and bad sides to this, of course, but I am tired of trying to be objective about this: living in a rural area is pretty terrible. I know. I did it for eighteen years. You’re isolated, you don’t have a lot of friends and none that live close to you, you entertain yourself, you shop at department stores in suburbs you have to drive an hour to get to and you feel dazzled by the selection when you get there. Eating at Red Lobster is exotic because it’s expensive and seafood and you don’t live anywhere near the ocean and for that matter, you don’t live anywhere near the Red Lobster, either.  Maybe once a month you go to the movies. You go to work and come home every night and watch television, because there’s nothing else going on anyway. The center of your social life is your church, or work if you’re lucky to be working with other people you like/get along with. 

It’s not what I want anymore. I’m tired of being okay with it.  I am jealous of my friends—what, that ridiculous 70% of that Tulane population, and 99% of my friends—that went to private school. I didn’t. I didn’t get special attention; there was none to be had. I did the best with what I could. I am jealous of my friends who were from big cities, who had drama departments and art departments at their schools, who had neighbors they could go visit, and small theatres and local bakeries and restaurants and parties and bicycles and new bookstores and used bookstores and record stores and art galleries and coffeeshops. We don’t. I never did. 

I’ve been struggling all through college not to be bitter about it, but I am. I dated someone who made fun of how uncultured I was, who looked down on me and was embarrassed to go to nice restaurants with me because I couldn’t pronounce the names of food. I AM UNCULTURED. Everything I know about culture I had to learn myself from the internet. I didn’t have it growing up. I still can’t eat rice with chopsticks and feel stupid and embarrassed when I inevitably drop it all over myself trying. I don’t know how to order sushi, I never ate sushi until I came to college. I don’t know what wines go with what foods because they aren’t even legally allowed to sell alcohol where I live. I’ve never seen a Shakespeare play performed, where would I have? I’ve never seen a ballet, or an opera. My written vocabulary is much, much greater than my spoken vocabulary and I pronounce words wrong. I’ve only read them, after all.

Which is what I did have, really. I read everything. I still read everything someone hands me, everything I get my hands on, I read indiscriminately and don’t buy books unless I’ve already read them. And that was fine for eighteen years (probably more like sixteen). But it’s not fine anymore, and I don’t want to go back, and I don’t want to get used to it again, and I want to do things with my life. 

It is disappointing. Kentucky loves to dress down. If you can wear sweatpants and a tshirt you do. In high school I wore jeans everyday; I sometimes wanted to wear a skirt, but felt embarrassed when I did, like I stuck out in the hallways because no one else was. They still don’t. It’s like daily life isn’t worth getting dressed up for, isn’t really worth putting in a lot of effort. And in the rain and grey of Lexington, waiting on the side of the road in uncomfortable shoes, watching all the people in their cars and no one smiling, it seemed all more depressing than I could stand.  
abigailnicole: (Default)

the equinox
me, taken by my boyfriend, september equinox 2011
(I like very few pictures taken of myself and this one I like a lot.) 

 

hi. 

today the weather is cold (cold, so cold, it was 58 when I awoke and is all the way up to 64 now) and wonderful and instead of enjoying it I am inside completing secondary apps for medical school.

 

they say things like

"Give an example of personal feedback in the last few years that was difficult to receive. How did you respond?"

 and 

"The most meaningful achievements are often non-academic in nature. Describe the personal non-academic accomplishment that makes you most proud. Why is this important to you?"

 and 

"Describe a problem in your life.  Include how you dealt with it and how it influenced your growth."

 

which are of course the kind of things on secondary applications. It is just exhausting to answer more than fifteen "DESCRIBE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE FROM THEN UNTIL NOW AND YOUR FUTURE PLANS AND WHY" questions at a time. I don't want to talk about timelines (please don't mention/ask) and goals and the various medschool "what? why do I wanna do this? WHAT IF I DON'T" freakouts I've had over the past few months, especially summer. There is no past and no future and there is only the purity of color and the way the wind sometimes feels like fabric against your skin, and the way the ends of your hair split into such fine pieces that you can only see them as golden lines in the light. 

Since reading Gravity's Rainbow it is harder for me to worry about little things. I think this is a good thing. I have a sense of perspective which certainly makes my mental state better: there is no bomb going to be dropped on me. How can you worry about wordcounts and deadlines when a.) there is no V2 rocket hanging over your head and b.) you know something beautiful and meaningful exists in the world? I cannot. I am calmly giving this my best shot, telling them what they want to know, and leaving it at that. Sometimes I need to stop and make tea and bake a cake and go to lunch or ride my bike around in this lovely weather and that is just how it is. I will work on it and get it done on time. 

I need this equanimity now. Last night I dreamed both my thesis readers came to me and said: "we need to read your thesis RIGHT NOW" and awoke relieved that I had a solid 50 pages to give them, with specific spots marked that I was working on and writing for. I saw one of my thesis readers last night, on Magazine Street. It was Art for Art's Sake, which is an event where the dozens of art galleries on Magazine street have open houses and each one has free wine and food. I walked up and down Magazine for three hours and lost track of how much wine and how many tiny sandwiches and tiny desserts I ate. My professor was walking into a little gallery near Napoleon and I said hello, asked him how he was enjoying the art. "I just got here," he replied, to which I said: "Well, you better start on the refreshments!"  My mother has raised me to be a charming, hospitable person who is capable of making small talk, and she is a wonderful perfect lady. 

Our favorite exhibit (mine and my boyfriend's) was at a little art school near Jefferson, which I've walked past many times but never entered. One room had 3D paintings--sculptures that hung on the walls and came out from them, unpainted clay that came out from the wall. Many of them were distorted, like photos taken with a wide-angle lens. One had death walking through the streets, second-line style, in a suit with an umbrella. Another had a nude woman standing in front of a mirror: on the other side of the mirror was another sculpture of a woman, standing in the same position, in a room full of 3D objects. I wanted it to be lit from within. The woman was connected to the sculpture only by the slightest connection at her elbow: she hung there, torso suspended in air, held in place only by her reflection. 


Yesterday I wanted ginger ale and so came home and made my own ginger soda: this is very easy. You boil equal parts sugar and water and however much you feel of sliced ginger, then add seltzer water. When I opened the seltzer water it spewed all over my clothes (the first long-sleeved shirt of the season) and I was upset for all of five minutes. When I checked the ingredients on seltzer water it said the following: "CARBONATED WATER." The CO2 diffused and the water evaporated. I took a nap on the square of sunshine on my bed and my shirt dried. Are all my problems so small? 
 
abigailnicole: (books)
The first lull of the semester? Call it that? After the tests and papers and projects and presentations and I’ve finished my test and read up to chapter six and finished Gravity’s Raibnow again (more on that in a minute) and have thirteen copies of my scene and thirteen copies of an essay and read “Consider the Lobster” and finished my statistics homework and have one whole hour between my classes when I don’t have to work. Tonight I have to write a syllabus, read some. No. I have to take the night off is what I have to do.

Sunday I got stung by a wasp on both my ankles, climbing an observation tower on the levee with B’s professor and Will Sampson. We all got stung. I rode my fixed gear on the ~20 miles we did, up Jeff Davis for work, down through the Quarter, the Marigny, the 9th, out to the Chalmette battlefield to roll eyes at the phallic monument jutting up into the sky. Something happened here. Height will commemorate it.

Last night I woke up at 2:30am, dragging my ankles along the roughness of my sheets to scratch, scratch, scratch, pulling my toenails along my ankles and reaching down with my fingernails, trying not to go too deep but the itch, the maddening 2:30am and pacing around the tile floor in a red sweatshirt with ankles on fire. At work yesterday my right ankle was so swollen I limped home, B went to the library without me. Instead I laid in bed and finished (for the second time) Gravity’s Rainbow.

It has lost no power. The texture of the words across the page becomes a tangible thing, a force. Gravity’s Rainbow is a process, not a book, it is an experience and you, You, YOU are in it, there are Pointsman’s dreams and they are written in second person, you are dreaming of white flowers in the black city of London. You are on a train where people are stealing your bread, where you are screaming state secrets out the window hoping the Schwarzkommando will hear. You are appalled by the absurdity. You are lying in bed under a sheet and your feet are throbbing and itching and you feel your tongue pressing against the inside of your lips with the words.

“There were men called “army chaplains.” They preached inside some of these buildings. There were actually soldiers, dead now, who sat or stood, and listened. Holding onto what they could. Then they went out, and some died before they got back inside a garrison-church again. Clergymen, working for the army, stood up and talked to the men who were going to die about God, death, nothingness, redemption, salvation. It really happened. It was quite common.



In one of the streets, in the morning fog, plastered over two slippery cobblestones, is a scrap of newspaper headline, with a wirephoto of a giant white cock, dangling in the sky straight downward out of a white public bush. The letters

MB DRO
ROSHI

appear above with the logo of some occupation newspaper, a grinning glamour girl riding astraddle the cannon of a tank, steel penis with slotted serpent head, 3rd Armored treads ‘n’ triangle on a sweater rippling across her tits. The white image has the same coherence, the hey-lookit-me smugness, as the Cross does. It is not only a sudden white genital onset in the sky—it is also, perhaps, a Tree…” (693-694)


This is, after all, the last time you are inside Slothrop’s head. You leave him there and that is all you see of this man who was your main character, your protagonist, your hero, for so long. “He doesn’t remember sitting on the curb for so long staring at the picture. But he did.” And so did you.

There is a quality inherent in trying to write about a book and analyzing a book that, for me, must fall off. It is what I have come to associate in my mind with the House of Leaves quality: the moment when you stop analyzing the narrative and the narrative starts ensnaring you. When does a story take control of its reader? Gravity’s Rainbow is a book about paranoids. Paranoids. It contains Proverbs for Paranoids, Songs of Paranoids (657), even Katje as an anthropomorphic version of Paranoia herself, “(a grand old dame, a little wacky but pure heart).” With a story that absolutely forces you to believe in Them, to acknowledge the existence and power of a They, you are implicit. The narrative has you. You do not have it. And when you read

MB DRO
ROSHI


Then something happens.

Last week I went with Angie to get her tattoo colored in, drove her to Frenchman street and sat in Electric Ladyland, with the trim all in red and the walls covered with sketches of pinup-girl-style-tattoos, read her bits aloud. The Anubis part, for instance. At the end of July I sat in Erik’s living room, further down Frenchman, and read him the story of Byron the Bulb. Then it was storming and B had left town for weeks and I was feeling at the end of my rope and when I finished the book, that same day, in the living room with the rain and Erik truing his wheel, I was finished. At Electric Ladyland I kept running into these small segments, the flak, the detritus, the shrapnel of plot bits as the Rocket fell. Last night I was lying in bed, holding the book very tightly, stopping to text

“They were taking off clothes, tearing checks out of checkbooks, ripping off pieces of each others’ newspaper, just so they could soak up some of John Dillinger’s blood.” (741)

Blicero: “His future card, the card of what will come, is The World.”

“THE LAST GREEN AND MAGENTA

The Heath grows green and magenta in all directions, earth and heather, coming of age—

No. It was spring.” (749)

“ ‘I don’t think that’s a police siren.’ Your guts in a spasm, you reach for the knob of the AM radio. ‘I don’t think—’ ” (757)


It makes perfect sense and I lose coherence. I cannot write a paper on this.

I have been not myself. Who have I been? Braden got his wisdom teeth removed and I made him mashed sweet potatoes and a smoothie, trying to help and failing, feeling my own inadequacy, thinking food I need to make some food and my mind coming up with nothing, standing in the kitchen looking at pots and pans as if meals will just come out of them. That week I lost the battle with entropy, dishes piled up and my shower got pushed back another day, two more days. I am trying to regain control. Today I wore teal, with black and white stripes. On the way to class the trees outside Cudd Hall were losing pink blossoms in the wind. My car sits under one of these trees and becomes littered, here at the end of summer, with pink, decaying flowers. I do not appreciate them; instead I find a lot to complain about. My ankle is swollen, it hurts to walk, I have too much reading to do, I am hungry and I am afraid now of hunger and what it will do to me, I need to call my parents, I need to clean my house, my room, the kitchen, my car, myself, to sew the rip in these pants. “Entropy,” I said on the bike ride, yelling over the wind. “It used to be a god and now it is scientific fact. We are fighting entropy daily,” speaking to Will Sampson, going down the back road near the blue Florida bridge. My neck, shoulders, and arms got sunburned. On the final ride back down Freret street I was just so tired, I went on alone to go home and put my face in the bathroom sink, feel the water running across my cheeks. In class I find my gaze drifting out the windows. I do not really want to listen to my classmates describe their interpretation of PMS and the military, or my teacher say, once again, “Physical Chemsitry was the Organic Chemistry of my day,” even though I like her and she means well. It is hard to worry about paying your electricity bill when you are reading Gravity’s Rainbow.

On page 672:
“Thanatz was really asking: when mortal faces go by, sure, self-consistent and never seeing me, are they real? Are they souls, really? Or only attractive sculpture, the sunlit faces of clouds?

And: ‘How can I love them?’”
abigailnicole: (Default)
600
Yesterday I finished my new handlebar bag/purse after 10+ hours of sewing. Made it on our bike ride to Winn Dixie with light bulb + 1lb bttr + tin foil, and then Zotz with camera + notebook + wallet + cell phone + ipod (purse essentials) and Mason & Dixon besides (which is quite impressive). It needs some structural support to keep it from sagging and some reinforcement on the D rings but overall I am really pleased and proud.

Have some pictures--

Purses are really detail oriented and this one is no exception. It's got a plastic inside liner sewn into the bottom and a removable one at the back to give it support, as well as one in the flap. The outside is black vinyl and the inside is red cotton canvas, with two pockets on the front inside as well as the pocket for the removable back liner. Front flap has a snap, which is cute on a purse but as a handlebar bag it really needs a strap from the flap to the back to stop it from sagging forward. (I have since this picture trimmed the plastic and pinned it in place.)
600

You can also attach a strap to the D-rings on the side. They were out of strap material and hooks at Hancock Fabrics so currently I'm using a strap from a different purse. Eventually I'll update to a matching strap of the same fabric. Right now the D rings just have a 3inch strip of fabric sewing them to the purse and I'm really afraid it's not enough support, so will probably update it later.

I've been planning this for a while and looking at various handlebar bags. My favorite was this one from Acorn, but it's still more handlebar bag-ey and not very pursey, so ultimately I just made a purse with two big straps on the back. My directions for sewing a handlebar bag: get a purse that will hold its shape well and has a removable shoulder strap, and sew two big pieces of webbing with velcro on them to the back to go over your handlebars.

This is a purse-replacement that conveniently goes on my handlebars, not a touring bag. It won't hold a U-lock, doesn't have a map pocket or back pockets or any outside pockets. That being said, it is the right size to fit perfectly on my new drop bars and hangs down just enough to fit stuff and not hit a tire, and I am not using a decaleur. It is something I wanted to make and after two long days of work I have made it! It is not quite done yet but it is still a useful & pretty thing I have made with my hands and I am really pleased.

Also you may note my new drop bars (unwrapped), as well as my new pedals and straps, which are from Plan B ($5), MKS Stream Platform Pedals (~$25), and PowerGrips respectively. The dude, who is sweet and nice and amazing, ordered some cloth tape from Rivendell for our handlebars which will come in this week and also be nice for not gripping metal as I've been doing all week. I've been going much slower than usual--last Thursday I got and installed drop bars and took out my back brake, and Friday put on new pedals with foot retention, and this week it's been like learning to ride a bike all over again. One brake! Weird handlebars! My feet are somehow stuck to the pedals! I almost got hit by a taxi (the cyclists' worst enemy) in the French Quarter but other than that it's only been slow fall-overs.

The only problem is that my bike setup now includes an unfortunate amount of toe overlap. Like, a lot, like making a slow left turn (not even a U-turn) makes my feet hit the pedals. This is very frustrating and I have already crashed once because of it. Between pedal strike and toe overlap I can really only ride in a straight line. I guess if I wanted to go back to freewheel I could get rid of the pedal strike but no matter what I am stuck with the toe overlap. Okay bicycle, I get it, you only want to go in straight lines forever.

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Nicole

March 2013

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