Bay Area: reading, writing, moving, celebrating

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The in­ter­est­ing things go­ing on in my life seem ei­ther too im­por­tant to write about quickly, or too in­for­ma­tive re­gard­ing some sen­si­tive thing or an­other. This is per­haps ex­ac­er­bated by my lack of a se­ri­ous boyfriend: if I don’t have to reg­u­larly turn what­ever is hap­pen­ing in my head into a com­mu­ni­ca­ble nar­ra­tive, the plot arcs in my life seem to get stranger. Or per­haps I just don’t re­mem­ber the less com­mu­ni­ca­ble plot arcs from ear­lier, or per­haps one always be­comes stranger over time. Any­way, here are a few mun­dane and in­offen­sive things that hap­pened lately in my life:

  • I went to a party. I It was a re­lief when it ended be­cause my face hurt from smil­ing for so long. I don’t know if I was happy. I liked it when a guy performed his fa­vorite poem for me.

  • I read A Grief Ob­served. For some rea­son I have always felt like C.S.Lewis was pre­sum­ably my friend, or my fel­low trav­eler or peer some­how, though I sup­pose I hadn’t read any of his writ­ing ex­cept Nar­nia as a child. I was not dis­ap­pointed. Which is strange, though it feels ex­pected. I’m not sure what I par­tic­u­larly wanted, but some­thing like a sen­si­bil­ity that is sincere and steady yet con­tends with the magic and won­der of the world, what­ever those are. (Do most se­ri­ous peo­ple seem less trust­wor­thy and re­spectable in a way, be­cause they set aside for re­spectabil­ity a swathe of what seems im­por­tant and in need of con­tend­ing with? Maybe.) I es­pe­cially liked the idea in the book of ap­pre­ci­at­ing the brac­ing re­sis­tance one meets when one’s imag­i­nary world con­tacts re­al­ity, per­haps in meet­ing the real ver­sion of a per­son one of­ten imag­ines, or in find­ing that one’s ideas of God or love do not match the real thing. It went well among my own thoughts lately about what one’s men­tal re­la­tion­ship with re­al­ity is or should be.

  • C.S.Lewis ap­par­ently in­sisted on writ­ing with a dip pen for­ever, in spite of foun­tain pens and type­writ­ers be­ing com­mon in his life­time. He said not to use type­writ­ers, be­cause ‘…the noise will de­stroy your sense of rhythm, which still needs years of train­ing’. I was cu­ri­ous enough to try this, given my es­teem for his writ­ing. I can al­most write with a dip pen now, and it is a de­cently differ­ent ex­pe­rience. If it turns out to be good, one ex­pla­na­tion would be that it is slow, yet phys­i­cally aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, which means that I’m not bored but have time to think through each word sev­eral times over be­fore I ac­tu­ally write it. (I’m re­minded of the line “…and I want life in ev­ery word, to the ex­tent that it’s ab­surd” and gen­eral as­so­ci­ated aes­thetic) He also ap­par­ently whispered the words out loud as he was writ­ing, which I have also tried to do some. The jury is out.

  • I’ve been try­ing to find a house to rent with a group of friends. I’m sur­prised how much our views about the rel­a­tive mer­its of differ­ent houses and house com­po­nents swing with­out much new in­for­ma­tion. We were fairly ex­cited about a big, ex­pen­sive, epic house with lovely liv­ing spaces and a tree house and all that a cou­ple of days ago, and now are all much more ex­cited for a place that is small and half the price per per­son. I’m not sure what about this feels con­fus­ing to me, but it re­minds me of try­ing to un­der­stand peo­ple. Maybe some things—like peo­ple or houses—are suffi­ciently com­pli­cated that you can’t re­ally keep all the char­ac­ter­is­tics in your head at once, so you have to have some kind of ab­strac­tion about them, and you can have quite differ­ent ab­strac­tions for the same un­der­ly­ing bunch of de­tails, es­pe­cially if the un­der­ly­ing de­tails aren’t fun­da­men­tally the­matic (e.g. if one place is just like an­other place ex­cept ev­ery as­pect of it is ex­actly twice as ex­pen­sive, that is eas­ier to un­der­stand than if ev­ery­thing is just differ­ent in differ­ent ways, and many are more ex­pen­sive but not all, and they mat­ter differ­ent amounts). So chang­ing ab­strac­tions can cause huge swings in eval­u­a­tion.

  • There is a Christ­mas party out­side my door, so I’m go­ing to go to that now. My house has lots of Aus­trali­ans and other folk who for what­ever rea­son don’t go home at Christ­mas, but we have made quite a go of cel­e­brat­ing it with each other. We have had hot choco­late, holi­day ana­grams, stock­ings, a photo, a tree, a white elephant, Christ­mas dresses and cricket, and soon there will be Chi­nese food. Hope­fully it is good to cel­e­brate Christ­mas.

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