Perspective

Thank you,
For the perspective
of what it feels like
to have an entire country vote

to hate
discriminate
subjugate

To rally behind vitriol
RT your hate speech

I thought I knew
sexism
fear

I thought I understood
discrimination

I thought I had experienced it
and could empathize.

Thank you
For the perspective
the correction.
For showing me how wrong I was.

I had not yet
had a whole country
chant that I am unwanted
I did not know

that I am less than my beauty
that I am not enough
that I am crooked
That I am not trustworthy
because I bleed.

Too bad Bernie
didn’t run.
He would’ve won.
A man with a plan,
that’s what was needed.

Not a (wo)man who (over)prepared
Wanted it too much
We’re always so desperate.
It’s pathetic, right?

right?

She smiled too much
or not enough?
She was too cold,
corrupt,

But pay no attention to the migrant workers
immigrants
accountants
behind your iron curtain

Pay no attention to the lies
they are #alternativefacts
Disregard my doublespeak
It’s doubleplusgood

Take it in stride
Take it as blind
as real
as truth
as locker-room talk.

I am not a politician,
I can feel hate
and make mistakes
and contradictions
like you

that’s why they voted for you,
you’re their man.

I’m scared; I’m brave

They Said

Fear is for the weak,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Women are too emotional,
Don’t cry,
They said.

Fear is the mind killer,
It leads to hate,
They said.

Take a different path home
Each way,
Each day,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Smile more,
You seem cold, unfeeling
Women are too emotional,
They said.

Check your drink,
Be safe,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

Sticks and stones,
Words can’t hurt you.
Don’t cry,
They said.

It’s your body,
Keep your legs closed,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

It will never happen,
Don’t worry,
Don’t be scared,
They said.

It will be fine,
You’re reading too much into it,
Don’t cry,
They said.

It’s not happening here,
You’re safe here,
Don’t be scared.
They said.

I am scared;
I am brave.
I cry;
I am strong.

She said.

She says.

She will say.

 

Emma: I bite my thumb at you

threepanelbookreview:
“EMMA by Jane Austen.
”

Another intersection between List and MA, can it be? YES IT CAN! I’ve recently finished reading Emma for one of my classes this term. This is my second foray into Austen, and, if I’m being honest, Northanger Abbey was better.

Perhaps that’s only because it was shorter, though…there are a lot of parallels between the two novels — NA could almost be considered Emma junior. In both novels, a young woman is woefully unable to correctly read those around her, and hilarity ensues. Everyone gets married, the end.

In Emma, however, the main title character is awful. I spent a good deal of the first half of the book yelling obscenities at her, and throwing the book against the wall. Okay, I didn’t literally throw the book against the wall (what kind of a monster do you think I am?), but there was fair amount of eye-rolling happening on my part. As the kids say, I was throwing some serious shade.

Emma’s saving grace in the novel is that Austen saw fit to write in a character we would hate more than her heroine – Mr. Frank Freakin’ Churchill. What a useless piece of human flesh he is. Current theory: Frank’s function in the plot is to highlight the ridiculous impotence and lack of agency women have in their lives – by feminizing Frank and placing him in the predicament of many middle-class women of the period, Austen highlights the ridiculousness of the position. She is saying: “See – if this is a man, suddenly it’s not okay, but this is what you are doing to your daughters. Check your double-standards, people!”

Maybe – that’s one theory. The other theory is that she wanted to a have a foil for Mr. Knightley. This theory is just as credible.

Favourite Moment: That time when she was directly responsible for her BFF’s heartbreak TWICE and then when her friend FINALLY moves on, Emma goes “hmmm actually…Imma marry him…can you not come around here anymore? K, thanks, BYEEEEE”

Other observations:

  • Having a carriage was a big deal – but you had to have a carriage at the right time. A carriage too early was an invitation for public scrutiny. Check your carriage before you wreck your carriage.
  • Gypsies will rob you if you’re nice to them.
  • Doctor wars are intense. Pick your side and don’t back down!
  • Bath was the Las Vegas of 19c middle-class England.
  • Never trust your brand new friend if they tell you someone is in love with you – they are wrong and it will ruin your life.
  • If a lover sends you a surprise anonymous piano, he’s probably not good enough for you.
  • If a lover wants to keep your engagement secret, he’s definitely not good enough for you.
  • Always make sure you have enough apples.

QUESTION: In a contest between Mrs. Elton, Miss Bates, and Anne of Green Gables – who speaks for the longest without pause?

Austen comic source: http://once4511.tumblr.com/

It *Finally* Happened

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For the first time in my graduate career, my class reading and The List have aligned and I can cross another book off The List! *cheering* *the crowd goes wild*

Thank you, Professor Awesome, for including Anne of Green Gables on your syllabus this term. It was hilarious and has gotten me one step closer to my goal.

That’s 65 down, 80 to go!

I Read All the Books: My Reading List from My MA Fall Term

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Some 6,923 pages and 30,584 words later, the first term of my English MA has come to a close (nailed it).

I thought, in case any of you were interested, I might provide a list, for your perusal, of the books and short stories I read for my classes.*

Below is the list, in the approximate order in which I read them.

  1. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
  2. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (selections)
  3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  4. Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? by Anita Rau Badami
  5. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  6. Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
  7. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  8. No New Land by M.J. Vassanji
  9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  10. Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
  11. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  12. Black by Thomas Dekker (selections)
  13. Epic by John Eldredge (selections)
  14. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler (selections)
  15. All Inclusive by Farzana Doctor
  16. The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin (small excerpt)
  17. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  18. Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (selections)
  19. The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai
  20. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
  21. Tell: Poems for a Girlhood by Soraya Peerbaye
  22. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  23. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

And now for the short stories:

  1. “The Demon Lover” by Elizabeth Bowen
  2. “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe
  3. “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  4. “The Sandman” by E.T.A. Hoffmann
  5. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  6. “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James
  7. “The Signalman” by Charles Dickens
  8. “The Dead” by James Joyce
  9. “The String Quartet” by Virginia Woolf
  10. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  11. “The Conscience of the Court” by Zora Neale Hurston
  12. “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
  13. “When Mr. Pirzada Comes to Dine” by Jhumpa Lahiri

*Not included are the books I read for research; their name is Legion for they are many.

Apparently, M. Paul supposedly dies.

Being a grad student also means that you read books alongside others who are (a) literarily-inclined (it’s my blog, I get to make up words here), (b) intensely smart, and (c) who are PhD’s.

This means that when you discuss Villette as a group and someone casually mentions M. Paul’s death, and nobody else seems confused by this statement, and you say “Wait, what? M. Paul dies? When did that happen?!” Everyone else looks at you with their smug, accusatory “you obviously didn’t finish the book” faces. Like this:

Image result for j'accuse! meme

And then you go in to objection/defence mode and start raving: “No, seriously, I thought he came back and they got married. IT SAYS HE COMES BACK AND THEY GET MARRIED! It was all arranged. Look, right here, on page 545, it says ‘Mr. Emmanuel’s return is fixed.’ SEE! IT WAS FIXED!”

But everyone is still looking at you like

Image result for you tryna tell me blank

And they try to plead with you “but the storm, Catherine,” “He couldn’t have survived, Catherine,” “it was implied, Catherine.” And now YOU start looking at THEM like

Image result for you tryna tell me blank

And you remind them that it says “Let them picture union and a happy succeeding life” at the end of the book, and that is exactly what you’re doing!

That, my friends, is how you become the dreamer, the optimist, the desperate hopeless romantic in a room full of intellectuals.

I’m going to sit in a corner with John Lennon and we’re going to talk about how Paul made it through the storm.

Plus, the book does not definitively  say that M. Paul dies. Ambiguity was Bronte’s thing. It was her calling card. It was what she did, people! This whole book is a giant ambiguous mess! That was literally the point! But, oh, the only thing that apparently was not ambiguous is the death of M. Paul? Nope. Nope. I’m nope-ing all over that.

IN FACT, it was conceded that there is a reading which supports M. Paul surviving the storm and coming home (read: my reading) AND THAT Bronte admitted to her publisher that there were two possible readings of her ending (HA!). HOWEVER the general consensus, and the author’s intention is that M. Paul dies.

Apparently the way Bronte originally wrote it, M. Paul does die. 100%. None of this “there was a big storm that probably killed him but I’m not going to say that it definitely happened, only hint to it and let my readers draw their own conclusions” bullshit. As the story goes, Bronte’s dad didn’t like this ending, he thought it was too sad, and so Bronte changed it to leave the door open for the possibility of M. Paul surviving the storm.

Image result for so you're saying there's a chance gif

I’m just saying, is all. Hasn’t anyone seen the ending of Dexter? Even if M. Paul doesn’t make it back to Lucy (which, let’s be honest, is not the worst thing, the man is kind of a jerk), it’s still entirely possible that he survived the storm and is off being a logger somewhere.

dexter

J’accuse Pikachu: https://cdn.meme.am/cache/instances/folder616/49397616.jpg
You tryna tell me kid: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BvBEVInCcAAYa1k.jpg
Dumb and Dumber: http://i.memecaptain.com/gend_images/cg_TpQ.jpg
original Dexter image (unedited): http://uproxx.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dexter-finale-death.jpg?quality=90&w=650&h=356

6 years ago today…Oh, Facebook, it’s so sweet of you to remember…

It turns out that six years ago today I posted the Facebook chain-quiz (note? post? thingy? what do you even call those things) that started this all. Little did I know at the time that six years later, I would not only still be working on that list, but I would have a blog dedicated to the effort, and I would be upgrading my English minor to a Master’s in English.

Life is pretty awesome, I’m a pretty fortunate person.

reading-challenge

SIX YEARS! And I haven’t given up yet. I’m coming for you, List.

 

Consolation Post: I’m still here, just busy being a grad student…

I haven’t posted in a while — as it turns out, being a grad student is a lot of work. Who knew?

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As a result, updating my blog hasn’t been my top priority (sorry!) even though I’ve been reading a lot of amazing books and thinking amazing things about them. I’ve also read some not-so-amazing things and thought not-so-amazing things about them. It’s a mixed bag, really.

I’ve just finished my last novel for this term. It was Villette by Charlotte Bronte and I did not like it. I found the novel’s ambiguity frustrating, and the plot lacked…well..many things.  Lucy ends up marrying  the man who scolded her for looking at Cleopatra and for wearing pink (the audacity!). At least I’m pretty sure they get married — like I said, this book is ambiguous AF. Why does she marry this guy? Because she loves him. Why does she love him? Because…umm…well he rented a school house for her, which she seemed to like. He also…umm…bought her books?

Okay, who am I kidding? The man filled her desk with books – nobody can say no to that.

Image result for books are the way to my heart

#truth

Speaking of books, I still have some course readings to get through, but otherwise I am DONE (reading novels) for this term (for my classes). Highlights have included Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, TellTale of Two Cities  and (surprisingly) Bleak House

A quick note on Tell – this is a book of poetry by Soraya Peerbaye about the murder of Reena Virk. Reena, a young teen in BC, was murdered by her classmates, a bunch of inhuman, vicious, violent people with hearts and heads filled with hate and prejudice. This book is absolutely chilling and sheds light on a devastating and dark mark in Canadian history. There’s been a lot of talk recently about how wonderful Canadians are, and it is true, Canadians rock and I love being one, but it is important to remember that ugliness exists here too, and we need to fight it at home just as much as we do abroad.

On that little reflective note, I’m off to continue my path towards super-smarted-ness. NEW WORD! COINED IT!

Only 3 presentations, 1 proposal, 3 papers, and a stack of exam marking to go!

I’m pulling in Tiny Potato to help motivate me to get through the rest of the term! 🙂

Image result for i believe in you

Thanks, Tiny Potato. You always have my back.

image credit:
Pheobe: http://www.reactiongifs.com/r/2013/12/friends004.gif
Buying me books: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/a2/1b/e1/a21be1d68486d66723846739861478a4.jpg
Tiny Potato: http://www.lovethispic.com/uploaded_images/156255-I-Am-A-Tiny-Potato-And-I-Believe-In-You-You-Can-Do-The-Thing.jpg

 

Feelings are for suckers.

31168Shirley was an interesting read. From the introduction to this book, you would expect the book to be about nothing — like the Seinfeld of Victorian England literature, but without the comedy. Although, I must admit, there are some moments of humour, when it seems Bronte can’t hold herself back and the narrative is so thick with sarcasm and satire that it’s impossible to ignore.

The introduction to this edition, written by Lucasta Miller, a Bronte scholar, informs the reader (i.e. me) that Bronte took a particularly ‘masculine’ approach to the narrative voice in this text…whatever that means. You see, apparently people had begun to suspect that Currer Bell (Bronte’s pseudonym) was a woman. Suddenly, in light of this new information, Jane Eyre went from being praised as original and intense to being “an affront to femininity,” “morally suspect,” and “politically subversive” (xii). So you know, normal Victorian gender biased bullshit. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Jane Eyre was not all of those things — I haven’t read it (yet), but if it’s anything like Shirley, it probably was guilty on all charges. In Bronte’s defence, the definition of femininity at the time was crap, morals were a bastardisation of Christian values loosely applied to men and used a tool to control women, and politics can always use a little subversion, can they not? So, there’s that.

The first half of this book is kind of boring…but on purpose, so Bronte gets a pass. Apparently she was trying to appear more masculine and throw off the sent of her femininity (good luck, doesn’t she know our smell is so strong it attracts bears?). According to Miller, ‘more masculine’ means writing frivolously about womanly things like feelings and romance. What is funny, though, is that this book does involve a romance. Two key romances, actually…so nice try, Bronte. But, the men are the ones who have all the feelings and need help controlling their emotions, so that’s pretty funny.

Anyways – I’m off to read Bleak House and try to wrap my head around Jameson’s theories on cognitive mapping.

Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, Northanger Abbey, and My Reflections on Balance

I was speaking to a PhD student in my program yesterday and the topic of balance came up. I mentioned I was going home to finish a short story about a screw, to which she commented that it was good I was setting time aside from my studies for creative pursuits, taking some time for myself, so to speak (d’awww).

SIDE BAR: Seriously – the universe has been sending me a veritable army of angels of encouragement and support. I am stunned at how lucky I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people who are taking my imposter syndrome, or whatever it is, and helping me tell it to kindly STFU. This is my life right now, except that for me this applies to friends of all genders, and instead of ugly, I feel like I’m not smart enough to be in my MA program (this opinion is largely due to the fact that I’m literally surrounded by geniuses):

 

Image result for sarah's scribbles friends compliments

Once again, Sarah Andersen perfectly expresses my sentiments. She’s inside my head, people.

 

Back to what I was saying. Short story. Right.

Sadly, I am not engaging in any such pursuits – sorry to disappoint, people, but you will see no short stories published by me any time soon. If you’re really itching for some short story action, check out Alice Munro or something. The short story I was referring to is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which I’m reading for my class on fantasy and the social imaginary (YUP! That’s a class and I’m taking it BECAUSE THIS IS MY LIFE NOW AND ITS AWESOME…sorry was that out loud? #sorrynotsorry). I cleared up my miscommunication, but it did bring up the topic of balance.

It was an interesting question for me, because after a brief reflection I said that I don’t really have any balance in my life right now; essentially all of my time is dedicated to being a graduate student. But (ha! this is my blog, I can start a sentence with the word “but” if I want to!) But, I don’t need balance, I don’t need “me time” or “down time” or any such thing, because for me, this entire degree is my “me time.” Leaving behind a full-time, permanent position and throwing myself fully into a masters degree in English is pretty much one of the most selfish things I have ever done (if not the most selfish). This entire degree is a self-indulgence for me, and though it is challenging and demanding, it is a wondrous, exhilarating kind of exhaustion that I feel at the end of the day.

I know – “exhilarating kind of exhaustion”? Come on – don’t I know what “exhaustion” even means? But (ha! did it again!) But I’m being serious. Whenever I start to feel anything even remotely close to spent, or burn out, from late nights reading, or hours of research, or prepping for tutorials, all I have to do is remind myself that I’m feeling tired because I’ve been spending all of my time reading and writing and/or thinking about reading and writing and/or talking about reading and writing and then – BOOM – I’m exhilarated.

I was speaking to another friend recently and I said that whenever I start to complain, I realize that all of my complaints are actually things that make me really happy, so my complaints turn in to just proclamations of how awesome my life is right now. For example:

Concerned Friend: You look tired, what’s wrong?

Me: I stayed up until 2am reading last night.

Concerned Friend: oh, that sounds awful.

Me: wait, that’s not awful – THAT’S AWESOME!!!!

See what I mean? That book that kept me up until 2am? It was Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? and if you don’t follow me on Twitter (which you should, I’m awesome and witty), then take my advice now and GO. READ. THIS. BOOK. It was ah-mah-zing.

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That’s right. I’m bringing Casey Williams back (you may remember her from such posts as my one on The Count of Monte Cristo) because that’s how good this book was. It gave me all of the feels, you guys. I was in a glass case of emotion. I couldn’t even handle it. I was up at 2am reading a book bawling my eyes out and I couldn’t put it down.

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CYHtNC tells the story of the diasporic journey of three women who emigrate from India to Vancouver during the mid-20th century. The novel begins around the time of Partition (1947) in India, when Punjab was hacked and sawed apart by the Border Commission to be split between India and Pakistan. It ends with the Air India bombing (1985) which had its 30-year anniversary last year. I was familiar with a *little* bit of this part of India’s history from reading Midnight’s Children and I think I first heard of the Kamagata Maru incident (1914) on an episode of the podcast Stuff You Missed In History Class but otherwise I was exposed to a lot of new history. In the instances where I was familiar with the historical events, I got a new perspective, as well as a pointed (and fair) reminder that many of these events are as much part of Canadian history as they are Indian/Punjabi/Pakistani history. I cannot stress this enough, go out there and READ THIS BOOK!

Over the last couple of weeks I also read Northanger Abbey for the first time. Although Jane Austen appears a number of times on The List, I haven’t made my way to any of her books yet, so this was my introduction to Austenian literature. Full disclosure: one of the reasons I hadn’t read Austen yet was because I was HELLA avoiding it. I thought that shit was going to suckkkkkkkkk. As it turns out, Austen is hilarious! I see the same sarcastic, satirical tone in her writing that I loved in George Eliot. This is basically me the whole time I’m reading Jane Austen:

Image result for jurassic park clever girl

N.B. This happened a lot during Mary Barton too. I have a feeling this gif is going to come up a lot in my MA…fair warning…seriously, you should see the number of times I scribbled “clever girl” in the margins.

I’m so glad I was introduced to Austen this way – Northanger Abbey is short, sweet, funny, sarcastic, and has me now looking forward to reading her novels which are on The List (which is basically all of them, except Northanger Abbey, because of course).

Note: I haven’t read this post over, but I have to go be a grad student now, so apologies for any typos, etc.

CORRECTION: I searched the Stuff You Missed in History Class website and did not find the Kamagata Maru on there, so maybe that’s not where I heard about it. I did hear about it, though…just not sure where…I feel like it was on the radio…

Image Sources
Sarah’s Scribbles: http://sarahcandersen.com/
My Heart Can’t Handle It gif: http://img.pandawhale.com/38353-the-feels-gif-Vvyf.gif
Jurassic Park gif: https://lovelace-media.imgix.net/uploads/36/3722fa90-f5bc-0132-f117-0ed54733f8f5.gif?