explorations, pt. 1

I was down at the UA yesterday, ostensibly to grade. When I couldn't face reading through another essay, I decided to go a-wandering. (I do this as often as possible, preferably entirely alone and with a good deal of time available.)

After a few wrong turns, I made my way into UA's Center for Creative Photography. If you've never been, it's worth the trip; it's an archive, but they have a rather large museum-quality gallery downstairs and another upstairs, and they're both free.

Right now they have two exhibitions up: "Face to Face: 150 years of Photographic Portraiture," and "Ansel Adams: Arizona and the West."

Overall, I found the Ansel Adams exhibit lackluster, even though I'm generally a fan of his work. My two favorite prints were Aspens, New Mexico (at the top of the post), which seemed to have a ghostly glow about it in person, and Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico (below), which was equally eerie. Click on it to see the detail of the crosses, though it's better in the gallery than on your screen.

The "Face to Face" exhibit was much more rewarding for me. I was especially pleased that I recognized several of the photographer's names, if not the images themselves (religiously reading The Year in Pictures has paid off!).

I thought the display was much more well-curated than the Adams one; I liked best that in a few cases, they had paired portraits of the same subject by different artists. They took, for example, three portraits of Alfred Steiglitz, a very influential New York gallery owner, and placed them next to each other with a description of how each shot reflected the relationship of that artist to Steiglitz. (Adams' was the only one I could find on Google; below.)

They're experimenting with putting up placards next to the photos that analyze the image and provide background information. I enjoyed the background, but I found that much of the analysis I disagreed with or found more condescending than insightful. I had, for example, learned much more that was valuable on Diane Arbus' Identical Twins, Cathleen (L) and Collen, Members of a Twin Club in New Jersey (below), from a post on The Year in Pictures (which I cannot seem to find, incidentally, or I would link it here).

The analysis on Edward Weston's Charis, Lake Ediza I found particularly lacking--affected, it seemed, by a certain prudery.

Some of my favorite images I didn't write down or can't find online, so you'll have to go see them yourself. I enjoyed particularly one of a woman's father with a solar eclipse reflected onto his open palms, and a family snapshot from one of the first do-it-yourself Kodak cameras.

I also, on this same excursion, wandered into a store on University called Outside of Ordinary. Unlike most of the overpriced boutiques and chain stores that surround it, this place actually seemed to have some class. They also, uncannily, seemed to stock several things that I had seen online and thought I'd have no chance of finding in Tucson:

Butter London
nail lacquers, for which they are the only retailer in Tucson;

Paddywax candles inspired by famous authors;

Modern Alchemy candles, including Ex Libris (smells like old books) and Salem (smells like a huge bonfire); and Commando thongs, which are supposed to be the end-all-be-all of panty-line free dressing (one of my biggest pet peeves). I also finally found a purse, after searching nearly continually since that post I made about it.

They had a ton of other, interesting things, but I'm not going to give them away, since I'm sure I'll be back for gift-purchasing in the future. The shopkeeper was a very polite older gentleman, but I did have to battle my way through at least ten vapid female customers to make my purchase, so go armed against stupidity.


Confessions of an English teacher, vol. 1

Part 1, drafted 3 days ago

The Scarlet Letter
kept getting mentioned recently, for some reason. It's been buzzing around.

I remember hating it in high school. I figured that it wouldn't hurt me to read it now, and that I might actually enjoy it.

Dear lord. I am two CDs in to the audio book, and I am DYING. It's not even to the actual "book" yet--it's still the introduction, called "The Custom House"--and it's the most horrifically boring thing I have ever listened to. No significant action, not a single intriguing character, just meandering, awful, dull prose.

I am completely screwed if I ever have to teach it. When some kid asks, "Miss, what's the significance of that portion of the text?" I'm going to be hard-pressed to come up with any other answer but "hell if I know." It seems to exist merely because Hawthorne enjoyed the sound of his own voice.

Part 2, as of this evening

Shortly after writing the above, I broke through "The Custom House" and into the actual novel (novella? It seems short).

I hate it a bit less, now, but not much. There are, at least, characters worth noticing, and something in the way of action. However, the overwhelming fire/brimstone/devil imagery is SO DAMN OPPRESSIVE. It's his go-to metaphor for nearly everything.

Additionally, anything having to do with Puritanical values is currently rubbing me entirely the wrong way, so I'm mostly in a state of agitation at the narrow-mindedness of the characters as I'm listening to it. (Perhaps it wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't know that these are the types of people our country was founded by, and partially why in contemporary times we have such ridiculous debates about things like gay marriage and death penalties for women getting abortions.)

Anyway. I think this is failed experiment, though if I change my mind about the book once I'm done, I'll be sure to let you know.



à la simply breakfast.

On a make-do with whatever's around morning: maple and brown sugar oatmeal, gluten-free pancakes, fried egg and colby jack on toasted english muffin, and earl grey, hot.


(love song, with two goldfish)

(He's a drifter, always
floating around her, has
nowhere else to go. He wishes
she would sing, not much, just the scales;
or take some notice,
give him the fish eye.)

(Bounded by round walls
she makes fish eyes
and kissy lips at him, darts
behind pebbles, swallows
his charms hook, line and sinker)

(He's bowled over. He would
take her to the ocean, they could
count the waves. There,
in the submarine silence, they would share
their deepest secrets. Dive for pearls
like stars.)

(But her love's since
gone belly-up. His heart sinks
like a fish. He drinks
like a stone. Drowns those sorrows,
stares emptily through glass.)

(the reason, she said
she wanted)
(and he could not give)
a life
beyond the
- Grace Chua


fluff & other nonsense

I figure a post on something as frivolous as makeup is much better than posting about how exhausted I've been this week.

I am, I confess, a bit of an impulse shopper. This is aggravated by Costco, with its tantalizingly low prices and the assurance that something you're considering will probably not be there the next time you stop by.

The Stila "Blockbuster Palette" at Costco was $20. Just for comparison purposes, the "Camera Ready Blockbuster Palette," with far fewer products, is $42 at Ulta.

It comes with 30 shadows, 12 lip colors (the three columns on the right), three blushes (it says one's a highlighter, but don't believe them) two bronzers, a nude lipliner and a black eyeliner.

Absurd, for that price. Of course, the applicators suck, but since I'm decked out with good brushes, it's not an issue. But all of the colors are wearable (at least on me) and very pigmented; additionally, seeing the colors near each other has somehow made me more creative in my application. The quality of the materials is quite good, much better than one normally gets in this sort of palette.

The biggest issue is that the thing is huge, and completely ridiculous to lug around; this means that there's no reapplication of lip color after you leave the house. Also, if you're not careful, bits of the powder get stuck in the lipstick (a clear design flaw).

It is, however, perfect for stage makeup.

There were still several of these available when I stopped by to check on Monday, if you're interested. It's definitely worth it for the price.

In the spirit of nosiness, thought I'd give you a peek into my makeup drawer. Admittedly, most of this is usually scattered across my side of the sink and not neatly put away--but the point is, it can be. This is just the stuff I use on a regular basis; there's a three drawer container underneath that holds things I rarely use (mostly stage makeup).

The heart-patterned blush at the top right is from the Happiness line Physician's Formula just released, and which I strongly recommend. Nice and bright and cheery.

The knee-high hose tucked at the bottom of the makeup bin is for removing stupid deodorant rubs, which I am forever getting on my clothes. It's much quicker and more effective than trying to erase them with water.

The clear bottle is the generic Frizz Ease I use on my hair. Yay cheap!

Additionally, Colin finally let me organize his closet. It's actually still mostly intact, too, even though these were taken a week or so ago.

Ahh, sweet frivolity.


tall. decaf. cappuccino.

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."



Forever Taking Leave

Lose something every day,
before one of us has accidental babies.
—Happiness never,
like a rootless tree.
Out, out, brief candle!
Put out the light, and then—
fly to others we know not of.

Flights of angels sing to thee
as one who lies down to pleasant dreams.
So it goes.
We’ll know better next time.

chains and things

This is the top of my jewelry chest. I thought it sort of poetic-looking, and it was entirely unintentional--I didn't specifically position any of it.

I'm a naturally nosy person, and I assume most people are too, if they're being honest with themselves. I especially enjoy poking through other people's jewelry and hearing the history behind pieces, so I thought I might explain the stories behind these.

The picture is a couple in an Argentine tango pose. I bought it in Flagstaff, long before I really learned anything about the dance.

I don't remember what wine we were having that night, but it's in a Ridel crystal goblet that Colin got as a present from a friend. Now that we have them, and have discovered that the wine really does taste better out of them, I don't want to bother with our glass goblets.

A better shot of the surface.

The chest itself was a present from my friend BreeAnna. She claimed she really didn't want it (although really--how could anyone not want a giant jewelry chest to fill?). Now I need to either purge some of my jewelry or get a bigger one.

I'll move clockwise from the top right. The box was a gift from my father when he went to Saudi Arabia for three months on business. For a long time, he had a tradition of bringing us something little home whenever he went away. I was in high school, and used to him traveling quite often, but three months was the longest I had ever gone without seeing him. Because the trip was so long (and, perhaps, because it was so exotic a locale), he brought us quite a few things.

The pink rose pendant was also a gift from my father, this time from when he went to London. It came in a green box that said Herrods on it, and he told us it was a famous department store in England. I made sure to go when I finally made it over there. My sister got a pansy, but I haven't seen it in years.

The starfish was from Target for ten bucks. I bought it because I had been trolling the Tiffany's website and fell in love with the Elsa Perretti starfish, and since $150 for sterling was something far beyond my college-student budget, I jumped on the knock-off. It's bigger than the Perretti versions, but I've decided I actually like that better. That said, though, if anyone wants to get me the diamond version, I wouldn't mind in the least.

The faux pearls are opera-length, and supposedly from the 1930's. I got them at a vintage store in Sedona the last time we went up. Again, childhood tradition dictates that one buys oneself a souvenir on vacations. I actually walked out of the store without buying these, but went back at the last second to purchase them (which I am very glad of). They're quite heavy.

The silver flower necklace was a bridesmaid's present from Leeann, whose wedding was about a year and a half ago. It's one of two pieces I have from Tiffany's (the other also from Leeann, come to think of it. She spoils me).

The glass mouse and the fish were also presents my dad brought home from the Saudi trip.

I paid ten dollars for a strand of lapis lazuli at the gem and mineral show and made that necklace. The gold-tone beads between the lapis were from a necklace my mother owned in the eighties that I dismantled. Again, very heavy, but I love the stones.


I hate Valentine's Day. Colin does too.

. . . but apparently I'm making a Valentine's Day post anyway.

Was going back through an old blog of mine to find an entry I made about a Damien Rice concert I went to. Found lots of other amusing things instead, including this:

Oct 17, 2007 - 10:12 PM jonas

I am starting, slowly, to fall for a friend of mine (or just slowly noticing that I'm falling?) who is entirely wrong for me.

Here are the things that are entirely wrong about falling for him:
  • He doesn't generally like children, and doesn't really want any of his own.
  • He doesn't ever plan on marriage.
  • He lives two hours away at the moment, and soon will probably be living 5 hours away.
  • He doesn't eat fish. (Sushi is pretty much my favorite food.)

Here are the things that are making me fall for him anyway:
  • His mind works, creatively, on a level that I connect to. And am in awe of.
  • His intelligence is considerable.
  • He understands and sees more of me than almost anyone else.
  • The sexual tension between us is almost literally palpable.

There's nothing to be done about it, though. Most likely it will resolve itself into a regrettable nothing-to-speak-of.

Currently Playing: sounds like jonah, of the whale

All still true (except living five hours away, obvi), and yet here we are, very much together nearly three and a half years later.

Wrong never felt so right*.

*and other applicable Valentine's clichés


memorial, pt 2: the safeway

I ended up going by the Safeway where the shooting took place for the first time 9 days ago. It's funny: I saw pictures of the one at UMC all the time, but nothing of the Safeway. I was a little anxious--afraid I was going to see bloodstains on the pavement, or something--but it looked just like it always did, except for the memorial.

They put these metal gates up on the street side, so that people could look at it with less risk of getting swiped by a car, but these ladies seemed to think it was a barrier.

There were two of these, draped in streamers with what looked like prayers written on them.

A bumper sticker; no idea if it was printed before or after the shooting.

Lennon's "Imagine" lyrics printed on a slab of rock. Took this picture just for Kate.

Some of those metal gates had been incorporated into the memorial. Not sure what purpose they originally served. This one had been wrapped in ribbon.

Water. As an offering? A humane gesture for those who came to visit?

Balloons, everywhere. Almost merry, especially blowing in the breeze.

There was a note that said that the employees of Safeway would routinely come out to collect items to keep safe for the family members. There was a table with a petition for more reasonable, rational political discourse. Someone had made a binder full of people's reminiscences of one of the victims. I saw several letters and cards, many from people who appeared to have personally known those who died.

There's another small collection of candles and things on the corner of the intersection, with a large "God Bless Tucson" sign presiding over it. It's been there since long before the tape was removed.


giving trees

It started rather slowly. I shared Ender's Game, and then Ender's Shadow, with a small, quiet student who sketched while I lectured and learned better when he did. I could tell by the way he drew the illustrations of the books for his presentation that they'd stuck with him. His Ender, blond with head bowed while they took the monitor off his neck, looked like him.

And then I loaned Pride and Prejudice to one of my seniors so that she would understand the allusion when I said a mutual acquaintance reminded me of Mr. Collins.

It began to build. When one of my juniors was going through a rough time at home, I lent her my copy of Matilda (a testament to how much I trust her). And I handed her Hunger Games and Catching Fire yesterday, promised that I'd give her the third before she was ready for it. She started reading Slaughterhouse on her own, on Google books, because of my tattoo, and was complaining about it cutting off after the first fifty pages. Once she pays off her library fines, she's checking it out from the school library.

I realized yesterday too that my Chinese student, still not proficient in the written form of English, might benefit from reading fun things at a slightly lower difficulty level. I tried to pawn off my extra copy of Diary of a Part-time Indian on him, but he vetoed it; I was able to get him to check out Ender's Game instead. This feels like a success, or will be if he likes it.

I already know the next student, a sophomore, that I'm handing the Hunger Games series to. I'm planning out without meaning to the next few titles I'm going to loan my junior, the one who reminds me so strongly of my far-away sister.

And it occurred to me: I don't have to only share with them the literature that they often get bored of and quit reading simply because it's homework. I have to do that too, but I can share with them my private shelves as well, sneak them the books that impacted me and wound their way into my psyche long before some of them were even born.