What the Heckie I’ve Been Up To

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As you may or may not have noticed, I missed two posting days last week, Wednesday and Friday. Quite frankly, I was really overwhelmed the week before break and I’m overwhelmed now, the week after. All I had was seven(ish) days to, well, chill. Everyone needs to chill every now and again. I had yet to return to Maine, so everyone was trying to get a piece of my time and I was constantly busy. And then I got burnt out as introverts often do.

And then. Finals. Projects. Papers. Holy moly I’ve barely had time to think let alone write. This week I have three presentations three days in a row, two papers due this weekend, then finals the week after that. But hey, that’s college I guess.

My bus ride home from Boston Saturday night/Sunday morning was so crowded they had two buses completely full, and being on the aisle, I probably got two hours of restless sleep total. A bus from Boston to Philadelphia is six hours. Thankfully, I’m flying for Christmas. But then again, my flight is a day after I’m supposed to be out of the dorms, so it looks like I’ll be Airbnb-ing it for a night.

Basically: my life is a bit of a mess right now, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to come up with creative posts or even coherent sentences. I’ll try to do better for the rest of the week, with some study tips and motivational posts, and then next week I’m going on a bit of an adventure so stay tuned for that. I’ll try (really really hard!) not to miss another post from now on.

At least maintenance fixed my drafty window so I don’t have to wear gloves inside.


As always, if you liked this post, please like and comment. Cheers!

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Saturday, November 21st

Saturday, November 21st. Southern Maine. 11:11am


 

I woke up this morning in my bed, at 8:30, like every other day I’ve slept in my bed. 8:30, to silence, to light, to the gentle floating of dust illuminated by the morning light.

My sister’s cat has taken up residence in my closet.

It is 11:11 in the afternoon and it is very quiet. My dad, who gets up early every day, is napping. My cat, who reacted in no way to my returned presence, snoozes on a pile of blankets. The only noise in the occasional whining of the dog, who has an ear infection, and the hum of the water pump. The washing machine is on– I didn’t wash the sheets before I left.

Only by leaving and returning do I understand how quiet things are here. How dark the night is. How the air smells and feels a certain way, like the air is not just cold but clean as well.

When I first woke up I went to take pictures outside in my jacket and bare feet. The air nipped and dug into the flesh of my sole.

Today I am Thinking of 9/11

Today I am thinking of 9/11.

Today I am thinking of 2,996 lives lost in 2001, of 127 lives in Paris, of more in Lebanon, and more and more and more.

Today, one week from the tragic events of November 13, I am leaving Philadelphia and going back to Maine for a week.

I am thinking of the over one billion Muslim peoples in this world who will face a harder tomorrow because of what a sliver of radicals have done. I am thinkings of the thousands upon thousands of people killed in the Middle East because of war raged in justice’s name, people who were just trying to live their lives in a harsh place. I am thinking of the people who will have more war brought to their land.

I am thinking of the people of Syria, forced to leave their homes and perhaps their families only to be rebuffed from safety, though they share a common enemy.

I am thinking of when I was four years old in 2001, and how my sister, six, rode home on the school bus and everyone knew something was wrong. I’m thinking of how you cannot hide these things from children.

Today I am thinking about war and surveillance, of how we can never escape this cycle of violence and unrest. Arm the rebels, wage war with the rebels. Fund more rebels and here we are again. Who will it be this time, I wonder?

I am thinking about how to be tactful and polite when all I can be is angry. I am thinking about how I made a tasteless joke to a boy who was five during 9/11, who became angry when I dishonored people who he lost but he didn’t really know. I am thinking about how all I know is an America post-9/11, how I could not have helped but feel happy and relief when Osama bin Laden was killed.

I am thinking how we cannot hold onto revenge.

I am thinking, selfishly, stupidly, that I am glad not be by flying home this week.

Seacoast Eats

white-heron-tea-coffeeThanksgiving is coming right around the corner, which means I get to go back home! If you ever find yourself in the Seacoast area, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a short list of good places to get some food (there are many good places, but these are my favorites).

  1. Lexie’s Joint Islington Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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That’s right, this little hole in the wall, with six or so tables and a bar, located down on Islington in Portsmouth NH. It’s, in my opinion, the best burger place around, beating out the fancy Brgr Bar with its sixteen dollar fairs. Burgers here run on average six dollars each, more for a double. The fries are extra, but man are they worth it. They also give you little cookies with your check. For a long time I avoided telling people about this place because I didn’t want it to be so crowded, but the word as gotten out. But don’t worry, if the line is too long you can always order take-out and have it delivered to you by the Take-Out Guys.

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Favorite Order: It used to be the Bistro burger, but that has since been removed from the menu. I now go for the Green Munster, Aioli fries, and either the coffee frappe or cucumber mint lemonade.

  1. Black Birch Wallingford Square, Kittery, Maine

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In my opinion, this is the nicest gastro-pub around (don’t worry, under 21’s are still allowed in the door). It’s a little on the pricer side, but that’s to be expected. Many of the places around are either casual or very fancy, and this place strikes a nice balance between the two. It’s also impossible to find. The facade of this building looks like a bank and when I worked in Wallingford Square I probably spent more time giving directions to Black Birch than I did serving customers. My mom also really likes this place.

This is what it looks like from the outside. I promise it’s nicer inside.

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Favorite Order: They change their menu quite frequently. Last time I went I got the mac and cheese and it was delicious. My mom said she likes the Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale.

  1. Ceres Bakery Penhallow Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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This is admittedly totally biased but I worked here when I was in high school. Very important: there’s in a Ceres Street in Portsmouth but it is not there. It’s on Penhallow, this weird one way side street. That doesn’t change how good this place is. It’s a bakery in the sense they sell baked goods (all of which are yummy), but it’s also one of the cheapest lunch places around. And fresh bread everyday (if you know of Colby’s, they buy their bread from Ceres). There’s soup, a lunch special, and sandwiches made to order. I really encourage people to try the specials because a lot of work goes into them and I haven’t eaten one I didn’t like. If you’re genuinely looking for a small-town vibe, where everyone is having a good time and there are regulars with signature orders, look no further.

Favorite Order: Lemon Chicken Orzo. End of story. The Ceres brew tea is also yummy.

  1. White Heron Islington Street, Portsmouth New Hampshire

White Heron is everyone’s favorite tea supplier. If you order a chai tea latte at any cafe, chances are pretty good that they’re using White Heron’s stuff. You can also buy numerous other teas from them, loose leaf or bagged, in their location way down Islington, past Lexie’s by a whole lot. They sell adorable tea related items and tea shirts as well as delicious food and drinks. Plus free wifi and parking (if you can find a spot).

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Favorite Order: The Chai Tea latte (always); I’m always partial towards egg sandwiches of any sort but the tofu rice bowl is also really good.

  1. Loco Coco’s Route 1, Kittery Maine

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Taking a stand on the burrito battle here. There are two main places to get burritos– Loco Coco’s in Kittery and Dos Amigos in Portsmouth. People get pretty feisty about which one is better. The parking at Loco Coco’s is so much better, and so are their chips (made in house). I also think their burritos are warmer? But that might just be me.

Favorite Order: I’ve literally never gotten anything else on the menu besides a burrito. My favorite is the chicken but the California one has french fries.

  1. La Festa Central Ave, Dover New Hampshire

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The only place on the list located in Dover, which may be a little out of the way for tourists. It is, however, the best pizza place. Like burritos, pizza has a line drawn. There’s also Flatbreads in Portsmouth, but if you want traditional pizza La Festa is the place. They sell these cinnamon and garlic knots that are so cinnamony and garlicy they’re amazing.

Favorite Order: BUFFALO CHICKEN

  1. Seafood

This is potentially a very controversial topic, and there’s just no one option. Bob’s Clam Hut is the total tourist option, but it’s very expensive and I worked there once and absolutely hated it so I cannot in good faith recommend it. A higher end place would be any of the wharf ones on Bow Street, one of which is Surf, where my sister worked in the summer as a line cook. It’s very good and they have a raw bar, if you’re into that. Personally, my favorite seafood place is only open during the summer. It’s the Lobster in the Rough, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Weathervane Corporate headquarters on Badger Island. It’s very unassuming, there’s probably twenty seats total and even less items on the menu. It’s definitely a local place and where the Weathervane sends all of its favorite employees. Sure, I may see everyone I ever went to high school with when I go, but it’s worth it.


As always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and comment. Cheers!

The Left Hand of Darkness // Review

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin; Published 1969 by Ace Books. 304 pages

The Left Hand of Darkness has been described as a feminist masterpiece. I choose not to think of it that way, as I believe all readers should. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything quite like this novel– perhaps Lord of the Rings comes closest. Nevertheless, I found it to be absolutely brilliant, the only book I’ve been assigned through class that I’ve chosen to review.

Undeniably, this is a science fiction novel. However, those features, though fascinating, are periphery. The core of this novel is the human struggle of human duality: “Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one. A shadow on snow.”

The novel follows a human envoy, Genly Ai, to the planet of Winter, representing a nation of worlds (think of it as the United Nations for planets). Winter, as you can imagine, is still in an ice age and the climate in particularly inhospitable. Everything there is conducted thoroughly and slowly, wrapped around the all importance of prestige, or as it is called in the novel, shifgrethor. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense off the bat– even now I’m not sure I entirely understand it. But curious of all, the people of Winter are androgynous– they only have sex organs (which are randomly male or female) during a period called kemmer.

This is the point where many people may get turned off, but don’t. Though these concepts seem very strange, the are strange to Genly, and thus the novel works very hard to develop a deep and profound understanding of these concepts. You will not be left behind, as it is in some science fiction. It’s all part of the reading experience. And after you complete it, do yourself a favor a reread the first chapter. Everything comes together so well.

Le Guin is a beautiful author. Her prose is beautiful but not perfumed, simple where it needs to be and profound where appropriate. Though there are tedious events, they are not made boring because of how well they’re written.

The Left Hand of Darkness is about humanity. Our struggle with ourselves, our perceptions, and others with theirs. It approaches difficult topics with ease and grace. It’s soft, like the falling snow.


As always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and comment. Cheers!

A Postmodern Analysis of Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book // Flashback Friday

My final paper for AP Lit, where we had to write 1000 words on anything we wanted a present it to the class. That might have been a mistake.


Class, Gender, and Sexuality;
A Postmodern Analysis of Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book

The darkest and most honest truths of mankind are hidden within the most simplistic forums. In the case of the children’s author Dr. Seuss, scathing critiques on every aspect of 21st century life, from gender roles to capitalism, are at home amongst strange, cartoon figures, bright, garish colors, and childish rhymes. Oftentimes parents themselves do not see the truth in the author’s words– only children, with their honest view of the world– can. With the widespread fanbase of the author’s work, generations of children are introduced to the false concepts society pushes at an early age, in order to prevent them from becoming brainwashed by the effects of mass marketing. In one of Seuss’ finest works, The Foot Book, he examines the relationship individuals have with the typical roles of class, gender, and sexuality through the metaphor of feet.

Lives and people are divided into categories; lines drawn by societal structures to segregate at an early age. Skills, gender, and socio-economic position are just some. The Foot Book bases its entire foundation upon these categories– left and right feet, wet and dry feet. Most clearly is denotation of class between left and right feet. Those who are left-hand dominant make up about 10% of the total population and are thus a lower class of people, paralleling the left side with inferiority and poverty. The passage on page three reads “Left foot, left foot, left foot, right.” In addition, each cartoon figure has their right foot striding forward, showing how the rich are the driving force of politics and the economy, while those at an intrinsic disadvantage– the left foot– are left to be dragged alone without the assistance they desperately need. The three left feet and one right foot also suggests how the minority– the 1%– of the population control all the wealth.

Pages four and five contain more symbols of class, depicting “wet foot, dry foot” and “high foot, low foot.” The lower class are the wet feet– those who struggle valiantly every day just to survive while the wealthy, the dry feet, relax in comfort. The high feet are so high only half of the body is visible, but the low feet appear in full and with an expression of contentment. In the world of capitalism we are told upward mobility is possible but this is false; in reality those in charge want the lower classes to be content with how things are and their meager life position. Finally, the long, monstrous creature on pages six and seven– “front feet, back feet”– is the machine of capitalism and class. The long body is representative of the distance in power and influence between the higher and lower class.

Gender role normativity is also represented in the book. In everyday life it is unnoticable, but when the clear roles of males and females are stated to be examined and studied, the disturbing pattern of the strict roles emerge. “Red feet, black feet” is one example. Red is for females, as it is typically the color of love while black is in fact the absence of color. This is a clear indication of how from a young age girls are taught to be kind and loving, while boys are taught to be stoic pillars of masculinity. How these two conflicting values are meant to interact is not clear, however, only that they are supposed to remain separate. “Slow feet, quick feet” is again telling of gender roles. The nurturing, “slow” female cannot be “quick” like her male counterpart because that does not fit the motherly model. No, it is the male who is the fast, athletic, strong figure in the relationship. “Small feet, big feet” communicates the message found in popular culture and stereotypes– that to be found beautiful women must look a certain way– small and slight. Similarly, to be respected, a man must be large.

There are some feet that are viewed not as normal, but unusual and perhaps grotesque. “Clown feet” are paraded about, a visual representation of queer baiting and exploitation used in media. The drag queen persona so often misunderstood is reduced to nothing more than a freak dressed up in a silly costume opposed to a form of release and self expression. The clown motif is also representative of how out of place and unwelcome the LGBT community feels in the modern world. After all, the clown is often shown to be the symbol of people’s deepest and darkest fears. The clown feet is not how the queer population sees themselves but instead a reflection of how they are forced by society to make the best of an unfavorable situation.

However, the book contains notes of optimism. “How many, many feet you meet” reads a line, showing how the ultimate message of the novel is one of acceptance of the individual identity forged by man. This is reliant not upon the lessons of history or by the brain washings of cell phones and social media but through the person struggle everyone must eventually triumph over. Everything from class to gender to sexuality must be explored in the intimate landscape of the inner-consciousness without draining outside effects, and in the outcome of such a journey, the conclusion that each living person is different would be the natural conclusion. It is testament to the genius of Dr. Seuss that his profound and intricate message is hidden carefully within the meager pages of a children’s storybook. Indeed, the masterpiece of the English language that is The Foot Book accomplishes more in it’s 30-some pages that Joyce did in 800– with enough grace and simplicity that even a child could comprehend.

Author Profile: Willa Cather

New segment! New segments are always fun, aren’t they? (Is a segment even the right thing to call this? Is that just for TV? Anyways–) It’s called Author Profile, where I talk about authors that I’ve read multiple texts from. This is the first one, and it’s on Willa Cather.

Who: Willa Cather
Where: America
When: December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947
What: My Antonia and “Paul’s Case”

Last year I read two things by Willa Cather, a novel and a short story. She’s most well known for her novels on life in the midwest (of which My Antonia is one), but she’s written some truly amazing short stories. My English teacher liked to describe her as the anti-F. Scott Fitzgerald. While that is certainly true when referencing My Antonia, “Paul’s Case” fits the early 20th century bill.

“Paul’s Case” was published in 1905. In simple terms, it’s an examination of isolation and superficiality in the 20th century. Everything in Paul’s life in gilded, and Cather, who is the queen of atmosphere, creates an environment where his despair is a slow moving fog over the entire story. Is that a strange description? Too much metaphor? Yeah, probably, but the best way to describe this short story is foggy.

My Antonia, on the other hand, is completely different. Completely. It wasn’t until I was going through my things for Flashback Friday (another one coming this Friday, by the way) that I even realized that they were written by the same author. Antonia is a short little novel that follows the life of one midwestern boy through the course of his life. There is, of course, Antonia, who although is not in the entire thing, is a haunting figure in the main character’s life. Not, necessarily, in a bad way.

Part of the reason I love My Antonia is because of how different it is. It’s a break from the usual doom and gloom of serious literature. Thomas Wolfe said “you can’t go home again” and essentially, Cather’s novel is a relentless assault on that. Yeah, you can.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for beautiful prose and an even more beautiful, neatly packaged story, look no further than Willa Cather.


As always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and comment down below. Cheers!

My Dirty Reading Secrets

No two readers a made alike, but spend enough time reading literature blogs and you’ll find some similarities. I feel as though I do not fit into them.

This post may insult some people. Sorry– not my intent, but a girl’s gotta vent sometime.


I hate classics. Ok, that’s not entirely true. But Brit-lit? Hell no. I’ve read Wilde, Woolf, Dickens and I just cannot get into it. It’s the language, the subjects. Anything that is more exhausting to read than enjoyable just isn’t for me. Dickens in particular makes my brain melt Shakespeare gets a pass, I do love some Shakespeare. Which leads to into…

I’ve never read a Jane Austen book. I KNOW. This blog is called Austen Almighty, which would make one think that I’m a huge Austen fan. However, two years ago I stage-managed a production of Pride and Prejudice, a script so wordy that I feel like I’ve read the novel. I had to read the script over twenty times in itself. While I’m at it, I might as well admit that I’ve never read a Bronte novel either. I know– this is not the intense reader we’re led to believe exists in movie and books themselves.

I don’t read YA. It’s not that there’s not good YA books out there, because there are. Part of this reason is because I skipped right over YA in terms of reading level. I actually greatly prefer middle-grade books. Another reason I don’t read it is because…

I hate dystopias. STOP WRITING CLICHE DYSTOPIAN NOVELS (see: YA Dystopian Novel twitter account). There are good dystopian novels– The Giver, Station Eleven, The Dog Stars to name a few. But many of the YA dystopian novel series are just tired, recycled concepts. Disclaimer: I have not read the Legend or Divergent series. I read the first two Hunger Games, but stopped because I didn’t like the second one. I read the first chapter of the Matched series. However, I don’t read them because I know I’ll hate them. While we’re at it:

No series. YA or adult. I don’t know what it is, but I can never finish series. I did (finally) finish Lord of the Rings last year, but my sister read a lot of it out loud to me. I always get bored after the first one and want to go read something else.


Well, those were my reading confession– what are yours?

Prufrock Poems // Flashback Fridays

Today we’re trying a new segment where I have no time to write anything new, so I post my mediocre writings from high school. Most of these will not be great and most of them will not make sense because they’re response to prompts. Either way, maybe it will be interesting.

For AP Literature and Composition, after reading T.S. Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” we were told to write our own poem in the style of the original but based off our own personal struggles. Mine was purpose.

Girl, Continuous

holy the unknown
buggered and suffering beggars
holy the hideous human angels
Allen Ginsberg, “Footnote to Howl”

Let us go then, you and I,
When the morning is still fresh and dew yet dry.
Like flowers plucked from their soil,
Let us go, while the petals are still in color;
Through hallways where some fair scholar
May hide their flaws behind Grade A tests
Oh, do not ask, “What are you doing?”
Do not taint the June renewing.

In the room adults talk real low
Praises for a girl I just don’t know. 

And indeed there will be time
To ponder the annual youth migration,
There will be time, there will be time
For co-signing loans with damnation.
There will be time to fail and succeed
And time for nights that never end.
Time for me and time for you,
Suffering for figures dressed in tweed.

In the room adults talk real low
Praises for a girl I just don’t know. 

And indeed there will be time
To wonder “Do I dare?” and “Do I dare?”
Time to pitch myself off the stair,
Grown and polished with perfect hair
(They will say: How much of an adult she’s always been!”)
Manicured nails on trembling fingers,
A tinted smile that never lingers.
(They will say: How bright she’s always been!”)
Do I dare
Walk that path? 

 And I have known the thoughts already, known them all–
What is good and what is expected,
What makes it seem like I am the one disconnected.
I’ve measured my life in letters and books,
Have seen lives beyond what I’ve thought to look.
How shall I go on?

I should have been a hardened shell
Shut off from light and morning’s glare.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Once I’ve followed history to a tee
Happy, perhaps, but riddled with anxiety.
To have the mortgage pressing in
To say, “I am St. Francis of Assisi!
Live a life of poverty and be free!”
That is not what I want at all.
That is not it, at all.

I am Prince Hamlet, pacing to and fro
Where do I go? Where do I go?
Who can I be if not me?
Someone dutifully tending orchids
Or floating off into outer orbit.

I grow old… I grow old…
Who can I be if not bold?

What I’ve Been Reading

I don’t think I’ve plugged my Goodreads here yet (there’s always time for that!) but I guess I’ve been pretty tight-lipped about what I’ve been reading lately. Not anymore!

College is busy. So busy, that my reading is split into two distinct categories: school and recreational. Usually I am not the type to read more than one book at once, but I’ve got quite to TBR and reading only for school gets boring after a while. Not that the books I’m reading are even bad.

For class this semester I’ve read the Epic of Gilgamesh, Oedipus, Antigone, the Trials of Socrates, Candide, and soon, the Left Hand of Darkness and the Daojing. All good stuff.

The books I’ve read recreationally I’ve documented here. But currently I’m about two hundred pages into Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, which is just– no words. Eventually I’m going to have to review this novel but I have no idea how that’s going to happen. It’s spectacular.

Well, back to the piles of assignments I have to do. Whatever post comes on Friday will be a surprise for everyone.


As always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and comment. Cheers!