All posts tagged “geeking out”

Catastrophes, disasters, and the fate of the console radio

via pinterest

Maybe your grandparents had one, too: a console radio, with its infinite hidden mysteries. As a small girl, I was fascinated with the vertical sliding doors, the dozen dusty plugs in the back, the slow automatic arm on the turntable, the programmable switches so unlike  modern push-button radio dials. The fabric on the speakers was a thick, fraying brocade, and the only record that remained of my grandparents collection was a random Simon and Garfunkel album. I used to do headstands in the room referred to (still) as “the parlor” while listening to Irish AM radio. Sometimes the strangest dusty memories are the happiest.

As I mentioned last week, the Brimfield Fair opened Monday– and this is what Adam and I are looking for this year. We have this grand plan to find a vintage radio (not necessarily in working condition– that part is negotiable as long as the aesthetic fits) and refurbish it with more modern electronics. I’ve been searching for the bookmark (which is probably on my dead laptop, womp womp) of a similar project that I’m pretty sure I found on Design*Sponge a year or so back. The couple who completed the project recovered the speakers in some lively Amy Butler fabric and yanked the non-working radio parts, replacing them with an internal computer. They then hung their TV over it, and connected the TV to the computer to create a modern media center with a vintage shell. Is that not awesome?!

Here are some examples of radios we like, in terms of look– I’m up early, stealing Adam’s MacBook Air, so please excuse the lack of actual pictures– I can’t figure out how to use the pinterest widget in this thing, since there’s no boomarks bar. Zentith console with angled panels and Sears Silvertone console stereo.

(Speaking of widgets, I fixed the comment issue– Captcha wasn’t allowing ANY comments through! I can tell it’s fixed because I am getting spammed again. Yay! Now leave me some love, folks. I’ve missed ya.)


Poor, poor Michael Dukakis.

When you’re the first hit on Google for failed presidential candidates (not a list, not an essay, your OWN WIKI PROFILE) you know you’re a failure. My dad had a bumper-sticker that said “Dump the Duke” years and years ago, in the mid-80s, while he was Governor.

That is all. Adam and I had a giant LOL (no other description fits) over this last night. Had to share.

Mikey’s song (to the tune of Skee-Lo’s ‘I Wish’)

I wish I was a little bit smaatah
Wish I didn’t got to Haahvad
Wish I hadn’t run up against
Numbah 43′s faathah.

I Wish

In which I sum up how I feel about J.D. Salinger using someone else’s words, because I am clever.

the dirty pretties

J.D. Salinger was a strange, looming figure in my life before I recognized his many-varied significances in American literary culture. My grandfather John was the first to claim his genius, one afternoon in the living room where I eventually grew up. He had a leather recliner, which smelled vaguely of tobacco, and was the same shade of brown. His feet half-up, the slanted afternoon sun casting his side of the room in a slight shadow, I wanted to know why his book had no pictures,  and could we please read How the Grinch Stole Christmas now?

And he told me that sometimes grown-ups read chapter books, which were far superior to picture books because you could make the pictures in your mind. I believed everything he said, so I then asked him what was happening in his book. He was reading Franny & Zooey.

He told me that Franny was feeling very sad, and described her state in a way that made me picture her as a ghost, as though she’d left the world for despair. I was afraid of feeling like Franny, and wondered why someone would write a story about such a sad girl. (I don’t know how old I was when this memory takes place. Best guess is 4-5, because John died when I was 6, and I had moved on from the Grinch to the New Kids on the Block by first grade.) By 6th grade, I bought Tails because it had a WBRU screamer of the week single (Do You Sleep?) and a Salinger reference in the band’s name. I was working on the “big geek” thing early, clearly. Despite having never read a word of his writing, ghostly Franny (who had morphed into a Courtney Love-esque character, how wrong was I?!) still came to me from time to time.


So, my real introduction to Salinger came in Ms. Weston’s last period English class, in 9th grade. And then, I met Holden Caulfield. His cynicism, sarcasm, and anxiety mirrored my own, just as it did most people in the class. After that, I dug out Bup’s first-edition (!!!) Franny and Zooey, sans paper jacket, unfortunately. Franny made more sense to me in 1999; 9 Stories followed, and I pieced together bit by bit the Glasses and the Caulfields and the grand loveliness of their imperfections. Some of those stories influenced me politically before I fully understood the real-life implications within them. At 15, you’re invincible and impenetrable–the heroes of Salinger’s writing were anything but those things, and thus infinitely less egoist. As an egoist teenager, it is impossible to bond with characters whose defining characteristics are reflective of perceived flaws within.  Holden had flaws and embraced them rather than capitulating to some peevish, conservative neck-vein. My inner badass rejoiced, while my outer badass dyed my hair purple.

So, when it showed up in my google reader during lunch last week that Salinger passed, the sense of surreality ran strong around me. Yeah, he hadn’t published in 40 years, but who cares? I immediately turned to my favorite poem of all time, Billy Collins’ Marginalia:

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
“Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!” -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote “Don’t be a ninny”
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls “Metaphor” next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of “Irony”
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
“Absolutely,” they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
“Yes.” “Bull’s-eye.” “My man!”
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil–
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”

So, that’s it, really. I’m sad. But I have a first edition Franny to console me.

Identity crisis (or, the hardest button to button)

un-common grackle by prairie hill

So I’ve been sporting a ‘new’ design since the year anniversary of starting writing a blog again. But then I decided I didn’t like it as much as I thought, and have been diligently working (or, directing photoshopping & tentatively experimenting with code) for a while now.  I can barely decide which shampoo or toothpaste to buy, and art has been impossible lately. Adam is verrrry patient and nice to help me again so soon.

The new design will be a throwback to the livejournal days, when Adam painstakingly collaged me my own galaxy. I’m consistently drawn to that motif, so why deny it? Side note–at the Eric Carle Museum gift shop there is a book, Sigmund Freud, by Ralph Steadman, that depicts some of my favorite Freud-isms, logical & pervy alike. I wonder what Freud would say about my desire for my own galaxy…?

Happy Valentine’s Day, dears. If you’re reading this, I love you (& probably miss you). Be well!

LiteraryLadies #10: Emma Bovary

Emma Bovary is one of the most influential female characters in literature, behind Moll Flanders, Edna Pontellier & Anna Karenina . While I don’t love Emma, her pathetic attempts at a magical life make her tangibly pitiable; I end up rooting for her every time I read it. For a role like Emma Bovary, an actress with some flexibility is necessary, because the novel begins when she is a teenager and ends when she is about middle-aged. I thought Elizabeth Banks would be good for the role:

I chose Banks for a few reasons– one, she’s beautiful, and I always imagined Emma’s beauty as too big for the tiny market town she resides in. Two, she has that classic, ageless loveliness that has the ability to look young and naive or mature and vampy with a change of neckline and some extra rouge. Third, her versatility as an actress is important for a role like Emma Bovary: she must simultaneously portray a woman who is utterly unhappy, swamped in guilt for that unhappiness, “ripe for seduction” (as her later lover called her), and flagrantly apathetic about the consequences her behavior has on anyone but herself.

Emma is a dreamer & a romantic, having read a great many novels during her time in the convent school. With more education than many women of her time, her proclivity to dissatisfaction is organic: she can see past the provincial delights of the stultifying market town in which she resides, past her bumbling husband’s mediocre attempts at love, and past the practically-written-in-stone mores of mid-19th century France. When even motherhood’s veiled secrets escape her, she is left listless and depressed, falling to affairs and insurmountable debts.

Emma Bovary

If Madame Bovary were set in today’s society, there would have to be some superficial changes to the plot. For example, I feel like Emma must be more of a “kept woman” than she is in the original story. In the novel Emma’s husband Charles Bovary has a second-rate medical license; since things are more regulated now, he could simply be a nurse, or a physician’s assistant– something that doesn’t require the same amount of school as an MD.

Their life together should be comfortable, but not luxurious. Modern-day Emma would constantly be looking at catalogues and browsing the internet for things lovelier and more decadent than they can afford. She is prim and childlike in the beginning of their marriage– and her daughter does nothing to alleviate the boredom and sadness that has seeped into her life– in fact, motherhood seems to make Emma’s dissatisfaction even greater. The novelty of having a child wears off quickly for her, and she begins to torture herself with the first of two ill-fated affairs.

The second affair, however, proves to be her undoing. Emma is enamored of and ensnared by the rakish Rodolphe Boulanger– in my version, he is a more successful version of Charles Bovary– perhaps a plastic surgeon or something equally superficial– and a womanizer, of course– a la Christian Troy in Nip/Tuck. When he abandons her on the eve of their elopement by leaving a cursory apology at the bottom of a basket of apricots, Emma falls apart. She is ill and unmanageable, even briefly turning to religion before discovering her true love: Shopping.

The collage above is meant to show Emma’s decadent tastes– while she is beautiful and loves luxurious things, I never pictured her to have a very sophisticated palate. Her clothes would be expensive but over-the-top, her closet overflowing with things your mother might have worn clubbing in 1987. The debts pile up quickly, and before she knows what has happened to her, she is begging money off of the men she’s used and who have used her, including Rodolphe. Without a penny and with no man to save her, Emma attempts to take her own life with arsenic, but ends up dying slowly, painfully, and without the dignity of anyone thinking it was an accident. A fitting– if messy– end for a woman whose disregard for those around her brings down her entire family.

Wherein I admit that I like seeing my stats be higher than normal

senseandsensibility via flickr

I am a competitive person. So competitive, in fact, that if I’m not sure I’ll win, I often won’t even play. That’s also called “Being a Giant Brat”, but that’s a post for another time. I’ve noticed that the posts that get the most hits–either search engine hits or pageviews–are my Literary Ladies posts. Those also happen to be the least frequently posted of all my rambling. (You can see some old Literary Ladies posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The very very first is here.)

But, back to my brattiness competitive edge: because I like reading my stats, and because they are fun to write, I am going to make the LLs a bigger part of the writing I do for this website. I’ve learned that the only way to do something right it to do it better, more frequently, and geekier than the rest. Geekier I can certainly manage, no question.

Now, it’s your turn: Who do you want to see here? Which actresses are you interested in seeing reprise your favorite leading role? Check out the last poll for some inspiration, and please leave a comment if you have any ideas.
That said, I’m glad to be back to blogging with a bit more regularity! I know it’s not perfect, but things are slowly improving on the stress front, for various reasons.

What’s making Monday less manic for you, today?

The Wedding Post (Finally!)

Saturday, September 12th was not a sunny day. Nay, it was, in fact, pouring.

Even though the weather didn’t cooperate, everything came off beautifully & we couldn’t have asked for a more lovely day.  Our wedding was small, with only 60 guests, the great majority of whom were family. Adam and I had decided when we first got engaged that we wanted a small reception & family-only bridal party, to rely on local vendors & talented acquaintances and family for the wedding must-haves, and to be as eco-conscious as we could. It was a lot to consider, but all in all, we met our goals and then some.

Awhile back, I posted some of the decorations we wanted to make for the reception. Yes, I said make, and although many members of my family thought I was nuts (a new job, and a HANDMADE wedding? Oookay, Catherine) everyone was super-supportive and helpful. My mom is awesome, but she’s not in the least crafty– one of my favorite things about my handmade wedding was getting to share my love of making things with my mom. Even if she’s not a crafter, she’s always encouraged me to do my own thing– and she’s worn every puffy-paint t-shirt and ziti necklace I’ve ever made her like it was Chanel and Tiffany. (Love you, Mama!) Anyyyway, here are the results:

Our take on the fresh flower & bird garland, via OnceWed.

Antique books as centerpieces, again from OnceWed.

Terrarium party favors, from Design*Sponge. We loved the idea of giving a growing favor at our wedding.

And, of course, obligatory glamourshots, because this was honestly and truly the best day of our lives.

let's hear it for the boys! (L-R: Matt, Zach, Adam, Sean, Sam)

My best girl (& our Justice for the Day) Meggie & me

bird's nest cupcakes

our rings

our beautiful handmade arch (which is now going to be the entrance to our garden)

Flowers! My favorite part.

When the photographer is a friend, you end up with the best & most personal pictures imaginable. Thank you, Steph!

Now, go on over to Steph’s website and book her for your wedding, too!

No promises, but… I'm back.

I need to make time for this blog, because I enjoy it & also because I need an outlet for my geekery. The thing is, my new job is a lot of work. A lot. Like, I’ve never worked this much in my life a lot. And that’s good in many ways, we all love a good challenge. But it also means I’ve got to do some major restructuring of my time, which is proving difficult. We shall see. For now, I’ll let it lie, and try to take advantage of the changes in the most positive way I can.

The day has come

photo by stephanie stevens

photo by stephanie stevens

Adam and I are getting married today.  Not really feeling sleep coming on anytime soon, so I thought I’d update for the first time in forever. Hi. I’m getting married in a few hours. :)

Things I Love Thursday

(In case you’re not familiar with the concept of things I love Thursday, please do let me refresh you. TiLT was started by the inimitable (though I am a fangirl, not going to lie) Miss Gala Darling. TiLT is a love-list, a list of things that made you smile, what you’re grateful for, what you need reminding that you’re grateful for.)

Worcester State Hospital, by Kate Broderick Photo

Worcester State Hospital, by Kate Broderick Photo

This week has been much crazier than I am used to– it’s amazing how a summer of wedding planning and running here and there seems like so long ago after only two weeks of lesson plans & decorations. I’m so excited to meet the kids & their families tonight! This week, I love…

My classroom & bulletin board: Oh, my goodness. I don’t think I’ve talked about it yet, I’m sort of afraid of being Dooced if I talk about work online too much, but what. The. Awesome. My classroom is huge, full of light, and air conditioned. Whaaaat? I spent a good chunk of yesterday cleaning/decorating/unwrapping the new desks (!!), and the result was stunning. We were given $125 to a teacher supply store in Westfield, which was slightly disappointing in that most of the stuff was geared toward younger kids. BUT! I got peacock feather bulletin board border, and at the dollar store I got some schizophrenic looking wallpaper to cover it in. The result? Pretty amusing. I guess English teachers have some leeway with wackiness:
bulletin board

Radar the cat: Who isn’t stinky anymore! He usually sleeps either between A and I, or stretched all the way out along my leg, so when he was stinkified I was a sad panda. He’s also been very… ehrm, vocal, since the Incident of Smelliness, and is constantly mewling and moaning and talking to us. Pretty funny.

Meggie!: She had a rough week last week, and I am shouting out because I EFFING LOVE HER and can’t wait till she hitches me & the boy. (Yes, you read correctly, my best friend is marrying us. Thanks, Deval!) BFFs, as the kids say these days.

something monumental via flickr

something monumental via flickr

Lisa’s blog, Craft My Bride: If I were she, I’d throw some (tasteful, artsy) ads on that shiz and start making bank, because this girl has a talent for blogging. I like the craft trials best, but if we’re being honest I’ve had an art crush on her since high school, so I’m biased. Also, she’s awesome & funny, so you should go look.

Honorable mentions this week…: Bueno, again; having a functioning AC in the house; eating yogurt & fruit & wheat germ for lunch every day again– it’s amazing how good I feel eating better, I should just do it all the time; remembering my vitamins; challenges that will make me a better person/teacher; MY JOB, hello; planning evil funness for the wedding; sorting playlists with the violinist (classyyyyy); our gorgeous cupcakes; stretching and moving; setting my intentions (and working it into the curriculum); & love, love, love, all over the place.