Longing for Thomas Moran

I have been yearning for a new Thomas Moran book since 2003. Well, I would be glad to have any news from or about him. It feels like he just dropped off the face of the earth and I worry about my most beloved contemporary American writer. Though I finally have contact info, I am too shy to write to him.

You see, I don’t write fan letters. The closest I have come to it was to write to Canada’s former Foreign Minister, the Hon. Lloyd Axworthy.

It is a funny story that because I also had the pleasure of having to write to him in a professional context back when I used to work for a bank. I will confess that when the client’s name caught my attention, I chose his letter from the pile of correspondence waiting to be answered.

Now that I am sworn to be nonpartisan, I don’t discuss politics, but I will say that when I wrote to him, he had retired from politics, but my quiet admiration was nonetheless quite marked.

So, I am longing for news from Thomas Moran.

As I patiently await his knock on the door, I sit here and weave tales about the tales that he used to weave so beautifully. Indeed, The Blue Nile and Thomas Feiner & Anywhen serenade me while I wait and wait and wait. It is painfully appropriate because these haunting musicians that I cherish are so evocative of Moran’s universe of flawed and ethereal characters that I do not know when one begins and the other ends anymore.

Thanks to the rockin’ yesnohuh for bringing Thomas Feiner to my life (and half of my music collection, for that matter.)

84 Charing Cross Road

Finally, I laid my hands on the film adaptation of Helene Hanff’s epistolary memoir and correspondence with British book antiquarian Frank Doel.

As the most ardent bookworm in my world, to say that I love Hanff’s acerbic wit, forlorn writing, and jaded outlook on life is not saying much. I yearn for her just as I watch the film unravel the past frame by frame. Her book has been a darling of mine since my adolescence. Indeed, I gravitated towards my recent read of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for sundry reasons, but the characters’ war torn struggles reminded me of Hanff’s own connections across the pond. I feel such a visceral connection to 84, Charing Cross Road. Sadly, I was not able to locate the bookshop on my last visit to London since it was based on a long gone bookshop, but the trip down memory lane was a sight to behold.

A is for Anxiety

As I have been commiserating with recent talks of fellow bloggers being anxious, my own issues with anxious episodes have come to light. Last year, I experienced frightening, unprecedented, going out of my mind panic attacks ones that I had not had since my early youth – in Beirut.

Lately though, I have been anxious. In my mind, it is clear that my panic attacks that catapulted to the surface in 2010 were brought on by extreme stress and misaligned circumstances in my life, mostly with emotional draining and dealing with difficult situations daily. Recently, it is physical. I have done some reading and I am becoming more aware of the role nutrition plays in my incremental anxious state or physical manifestations of it.

The more I inform myself, the more I become conscious of a multitude of factors – environmental, chemical, industrial foodways and farming, and sometimes psychological that contribute to anxious minds. In other words, the clothes I wear, the foods I eat, and the risk factors the foods I eat contribute to a heightened state.

Therefore, my priority for 2012 is beyond merely to lose a significant amount of weight in a gradual manner. My more pressing concerns are to draft cooking recipes that do not incorporate nefarious products and chemicals that alter my piece of mind.

You are what you eat.

Life as it Happens

I have been sick since last week-end. In fact, I only went to work on Tuesday, spent Wednesday all day at the clinic (as I mentioned before), and have stayed home since then (and won’t be paid). I have so many to dos on my academic list that I have not even rested as much as I should have… though I am getting better. Since I had my third cold since Christmas, I went to the doctor, but he was a total jerk who prescribed antibiotics et al without taking the time to really assess my situation. Heck, he didn’t even glance at me. Later, I found out that it was his usual style. Still, it rattled me.

So, I have not taken the Penicillin at all. Last time a doctor prescribed Penicillin at that clinic, I duly took it every day but I also had a horrible strep throat/laryngitis going on. I’m nowhere near as bad, just have other aggravated symptoms. As I bitched in my Self-Care post, I wasn’t convinced that antibiotics were the solution to my problem. I’m still not well, but I have improved significantly mostly due to drinking liquids, taking lots of vitamin C thanks to citrus fruits, and resting.

I’m just lacking energy, though.

After my three month leave of absence from work ended, I returned to work content that I had thoroughly enjoyed my five courses, felt intellectually stimulated, new avenues of interests had opened up, I made new friends (more or less), and I also did well in my classes, but my health had suffered significantly.

In my naivete, I had thought time off from work would help me get cracking in school, but it was still too much and my sleep regimen and diet suffered. I’m still recovering because I’m still not sleeping well or enough or regularly. I think some of the manifestations of that was cold symptoms. Since it was the third time in as many weeks, I was worried. As it is, my immune system is low, I am overweight, I’m not getting much exercise, I’m hibernating, I’m stressed – all factors that contribute negatively to the well functioning of my body and mind.

In early January, I quickly dropped some classes and stuck with three courses and that is no more than I can handle and work every day. So, tonight, I could have started to write my journal reflections in my European theories class – which I’m behind on. Although the journal is due at the end of the semester, I do not want it to pile up like last semester.

So what do I do? I write on my blog – twice. Anything but study. It’s not even a lack of interest or willingness, but a matter of lethargy, I think. At least, I broke the ice and started to write. You, dear readers, are guinea pigs for my procrastination problem. I’m breaking the ice and the best way to do that is to ruminate on what I’m not doing.

There is lots on my mind: news headlines that shock, dismay, worry or make me laugh, worry about losing my job (depends on the budget for 2012-2013, but rampant cuts are happening left and right in the public sector), some personal concerns, and realizing that the quality of my work-life balance is definitely skewed.

In all this hoopla, I got into Honours, Anthropology!

I’m thrilled though the department almost coerced me to apply. I was perfectly happy in my Joint Specialization in Anthropology and Sociology – I just wanted permission to take the Honours Seminar or an independent/directed reading course. Anyway, it means I’ll finish my degree in a year, one semester later than I had bargained for (Honours Seminars are year long) – but convocation is at the same time in June 2013, so why worry?

In addition, I had sent an abstract to the QPIRG (Quebec Public Interest Research Group) Concordia Study in Action conference.

As an introvert, participating in a conference is the last thing on my mind, but I decided to run against type and risk my ambivalence and the butterflies in my stomach. The conference purports to enable undergraduate students to present research (usually reserved for grad students) in conjunction with community activism. Therefore, my fieldwork on The University of the Streets Cafe at Concordia University was selected. Despite my apprehension and panic, I was thrilled.

I have a few presentations this semester and I am finally starting to welcome the prospect of improving my public speaking skills. In my advanced/senior seminar on International Indigenism, each student is supposed to present and critically analyse readings and lead the class in dicussing them, plus I also need to present readings in my European theories course – with my Armo prof from last semester who insists I was very enthusiastic and in control of last semester’s presentation.

Perhaps, in time, I will stop hyperventilating.

So there is a lot on my plate until Easter. I am seriously considering taking the week before Easter as vacation from work in order to concentrate on a myriad of research papers, fieldwork paper, and presentations. I just hate to waste my vacation like that knowing that I have done that in the past.

Unlike most people I know, I haven’t really had a vacation properly where I have relaxed and disconnected from everything. Plus, A. (who also needs to learn the meaning of vacation) will be in Bordeaux for a week for work in late June. I would love to go there after he wraps up work to spend some time together in Europe – and to celebrate his 40th birthday.

But first, work, work, work and the drudgery of winter.

Nostalgic Reads

Who needs the internet when one is surrounded by books? Thanks to my faulty WiFi connection, I am on my fourth book in days. Since my semester ended, I have been back to my voracious reading habits. I have read three books since last week and I’m moving on to Joan Didion’s Blue Nights today.

As I reflect on my reading, I notice that they all represent early 20th century Britain through no deliberation on my part. Indeed, Agatha Christie’s N or M? features the ever delightful, devoted, and adventurous Tommy and Tuppence as they fight Nazi infestation of a sleepy town in war torn England. As an ardent Agatha Christie reader (read: obsessed), I have been pleasantly surprised by the once precocious duo. Although I’m forever loyal to Poirot and somewhat to Miss Marple, it is lovely to make the acquaintance of different characters – no less dear to my heart. As you know, the other book that represents war town Britain is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and though I didn’t do it on purpose, both books go together so marvelously, albeit in a nostalgic fashion. I also read The Floating Admiral, the 1931 book penned by The Detection Club which included, among others, G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, and my new darling of the Golden Age of Crime, Dorothy L. Sayers.

Next up is Didion’s memoir about her reflections on parenting and losing Quintana, her daughter. For those of us who revel in mournful memoirs, celebrating the harried fumblings between life and death, this book promises to continue in the tradition of The Year of Magical Thinking. I don’t mean to celebrate death, but explore what happens betwixt and between. As I barely handled my own grief, years ago, Didion’s words were of such comfort.