...wrapping can be an art!

Thursday, December 30

I spent most of Christmas Eve wrapping these: tipp-ex, brown paper, string, and ribbon. I’m not much of a ‘crafty’ person, but I like making presents look pretty. Probably silly to spend so much time on something that will only get looked at for a few seconds before it is torn off, but it was fun to make them. It was just a pity they had to be opened! The presents underneath weren't quite as exciting.

an interesting sentence.

Thursday, December 30

Picture from: here.

'If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. ‘Dark’ would be a word without meaning.’
~ C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, 1952).

I read this on the way to buy Christmas presents last week. An interesting idea. I probably think along the same lines. It seems strange to think there is no meaning when humans are so preoccupied with finding meaning in everything they do. Health professionals, philosophers, psychologists, artists: they all recognise this. Human instincts seem to be there for a reason. Hunger signals that we need food. Loneliness reminds us that it is not good for us to be alone, that we are better, stronger, when we're together. Emptiness, the longing for something more, for answers... surely this desire, this niggling feeling that something is missing whispers that there is something more to be found... that life is a quest.

shooting stars.

Tuesday, December 14

We wrapped up warm in vests, long sleeved t-shirts, wooly jumpers, a pair of woolly tights, thick pairs of socks, boots, a skirt, a pair of pyjama bottoms, a duffel coat, and two scarves (and that was just me) ...and with heads thrown back, we let our eyes look. Looking without trying to understand. (It is interesting how, the longer I look at the night sky, the more stars I can see. It's quite amazing, and makes me feel at once tiny and insignificant, and peaceful and filled with awe. I must have seen over 30 of them. Small, fast, speeding across the sky. They are still behind my eyes: beautiful.

Shooting stars are like Pringles (only less fattening): they make you greedy. 

'I'll go inside after one more -- oh! Did you see that! -- Lovely! ---Okay, well just one more (please let me see one more...)'

(The astronomical show: the Geminid meteor shower.
The picture: here.)

'I know that I know nothing.'

Saturday, December 11

Today, this caught my attention. I found it in the middle of a chapter about Shakespeare and Renaissance print culture:
‘Much of the recent resistance to editing has been a result of the rhetoric of certainty that many editors adopt. For most of them ... “certainly” is good, “probably” is bad, and “possibly” is worst of all. If everyone accepted that most of what they do is grounded on a measure of probability about which rational agents could reasonably disagree, most arguments in editing (and in the world) would end.’
~ Colin Burrow in ‘Editing the Sonnets’ from A Companion to Shakespeare’s Sonnets

love that quiets the world (♥)

Friday, December 10

Snow gets people talking.

Most people, it seems, 'used to love it' but now they 'hate it'. They start grumbling conversations with fellow commuters, shoppers, and waiting-to-cross-the-road...ers. (‘Achh, this snow...’ A shake of the head and a furrowed brow. ‘Oh I know, I know.’ A mutual display of wet feet and dirt-splattered trousers. ‘It’s just getting beyond a joke now.’ A moment of connection between strangers, and then a parting of ways.)
When it started snowing at the end of November I was saddened to recognise that my attitude was similarly negative. I shook my fist at it, and glowered. (‘Eugh! Snow!’) And then I was shocked at myself; I was thinking like a Grown Up. 

When I was younger, most of my favourite characters – William Brown, the Little Prince, Peter Pan – hated the Grown Ups (those grumpy, sullen-faced individuals that take things too seriously, are always thinking about money, and have become used to the stars). I remember resolving to never become one. 
I hope my grump at the snow isn’t the first steps on the slippery slope. Getting older is inevitable, but becoming one of the Grown Ups is optional.

Yes! Snow is a nuisance: it sneaks under scarves and assaults necks with tiny cold hands. Yes! Snow is hazardous: it renders the motorway useless and causes pensioners to slip and fall. But look! Look at how it makes an ugly town beautiful. Look! Look how it transforms children into artists. And listen! Can you hear that? Hold your breath for a moment, and listen: it is whispering as it falls.

(Title from: here.
Pictures from: here.)

while thinking about poetry...

Tuesday, December 7

(...before the pyjamas go on) I just remembered this poem by P.B. Shelley. I found it first inside A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge (beautiful story, not very nice last name). The last four lines are my favourite. Haunting. At the moment it feels like the words are fluttering inside my throat. They are whispery. And wistful.

One word is too often profaned
For me to profane it;
One feeling too falsely disdained
For thee to disdain it;
One hope is too like despair
For prudence to smother;
And pity from thee more dear
Than that from another.

I can give not what men call love;
But wilt thou accept not
The worship the heart lifts above
And the heavens reject not, --
The desire of the moth for the star,
Of the night for the morrow,
The devotion to something afar
From the sphere of our sorrow?

~ P.B. Shelley

(Picture from: here.)

I've noticed...

Monday, December 6

...that I haven't updated in about two weeks. And I am not happy about it. I will start writing again now I have a bit more time. November has bustled past, leaving in its wake a bin full of essay drafts, a garden covered in snow, hair that has reached pony-tail length, and a heart that is learning to love poems more, even the long ones. (I have always wanted to love poetry, so this is a welcome development.) 

Just now though, I'm going to put my pyjamas on and read my book.

(Picture from: here.)


Tuesday, November 23

I was looking in my journal from last May and came across this quote. It is from Stephen Fry’s book on poetry (The Ode Less Travelled). I had copied it out while I was studying for my first-year English exam. (...He is writing about poetic structure, metre, rhythm, rhyme etc.):
‘Indeed it is one of the paradoxes of art that structure, form and convention liberate the artist, whereas openness and complete freedom can be seen as a kind of tyranny. Mankind can live free in a society hemmed in by laws, but we have yet to find a historical example of mankind living free in lawless anarchy.’
~ Stephen Fry in The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within (2005).

An interesting idea. And one that applies to so much more than art.

simply irrational weather.

Thursday, November 18

Just now: it is cold and dark and raining. And I have a lot of work to do. It's on days like this when I wish I was six again. It would be nice to lie flat on my stomach - resting my face in my hands, wiggling my toes, carefree - and watch a Disney film (or 'I Dream of Jeannie') in my pink pyjamas.

But no! Back to reading about the Renaissance notion of woman I go.

(Picture from: here)

moments. loves. dreams. laughs.

Tuesday, November 16

It has been a busy week (or so). Working on assignments, reading Spenser's 'Faerie Queen' (), studying till (ridiculously) early hours of the morning. 

HOWEVER! I have been keeping an eye out, and this week I have noticed:

...a wall of flowers (spotted on the bus). I wonder what happened. Flowers often signal that something is wrong: a fight, an illness, a death. It's a shame. When I find the Lovely Boy (who does exist somewhere, I'm sure of it), I hope that he will buy me flowers (daisies or tulips or sunflowers wrapped in crinkly paper) at least once...just because.

...and this poster (spotted in the bus station).


...and a rainbow (spotted at the bus stop. Sensing a pattern here?) I was feeling rather tired and melancholy when it started to rain. I thought I was going to cry. But then! The sun tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, 'Look.' And I looked. And I saw it. And it cheered me up a little bit. ('Thank-you.')

...and this poster (spotted in university). They are looking for candidates. Evan and I have become avid fans of University Challenge. It would be fun to (be clever enough to) be in it.

...and bunting (spotted in a church hall).

...and a flower in my shopping basket (spotted in Tesco while I was buying tea and tomatoes). It wasn't signalling anything. It had just sneaked out of a bunch. I just looked down and there it was. ('Hello!')

on the subject of milk...

Wednesday, November 10

For my Journalism and Creative Writing class I have to write a restaurant review (I'm in the midst of writing it just now) and A.A. Gill's book 'Table Talk' was on the recommended reading list. It is brilliant. Parts of it have actually had me in tears and it's even caused me to guffaw on the bus (slightly embarrassing). I read this last night and it made me laugh (...just to set up the quote, the writer is giving advice on how to picnic 'the right way' - pretty much: travel light and don’t bring anything that is a palaver to eat):
‘And so to drink. Drink from the bottle. Everyone should have their own, all that fussing with plastic cups or glasses that spend most of their time spilling is a bore. Take black coffee in a Thermos, and sugar lumps in a pocket. If anyone is tasteless enough to want milk, use the sugar lumps to attract a cow.’
~ From ‘Picnics’ in A.A. Gill's 'Table Talk: Sweet and Sour, Salt and Bitter' (2007)

(Picture from deviantart.com)

An unlikely passenger

Tuesday, November 9

On the bus today, I ended up sitting beside... a carton of milk. Just a small one. A small carton of ‘whole’ milk (with a blue lid). As far as fellow-passengers go it was quite good to sit beside. It didn’t eat smelly crisps; it didn’t look over my shoulder, ‘subtly’ trying to see what I was reading; and it didn’t swear down the phone to its friend, Sammy Skimmed (ho ho).

I wonder where it was going...

Putting aside all the times when I’ve been caught in the rain waiting for one that is late (wet toes wiggling in wet shoes), and the times when I’ve had to sit beside nose-pickers because all the good seats have been taken, buses actually are quite brilliant: a constant source of entertainment.
Here’s to buses!
*raises (the white with blue forget-me-nots) teacup*
(ps. Yes. I did draw a face on the milk carton. It's called Procrastination, my friend. I'll go do my work now.)

'Start a blog!'

Sunday, November 7

Let's ignore the last two posts. I am going to introduce this blog right here, right now. Only... how to begin, I wonder. Introductions are always tricky.

I think the first thing is to introduce myself. But what should I tell you first? My name (Melissa), age (19), and occupation (part-time waitress, full-time student)? Somehow that sounds a bit like I’m filling in an application form. It’s a bit vague, and a bit impersonal. Well then, how about what I’m studying: English literature, journalism and creative writing? That tells you a bit more. I’m at university learning how to read and write. And it’s fantastic (if a little stressful).
Maybe I should I start throwing random facts about myself at you? Things like:
 I have lots of jars in my room (with the jam, curry or pickle washed out). Inside them are crayons, buttons, pencils, pennies, and words I’ve cut out from magazines.
 Most of my liquid intake comes from drinking (earl grey) tea.
 I find it difficult to climb stairs one-at-a-time. This comes in handy when I need to be somewhere fast. It becomes more of a problem when I’m wearing a skirt.
 from the ages of six to seventeen I was taught at home (with my brother and sister; by my mum). I loved it. But most people don’t quite understand what ‘home-schooling’ means. I don’t quite know how to describe it, only: it doesn’t mean doing schoolwork in your pyjamas.
Does that help at all? Or should I tell you some of the labels that are attached to me? Imagine me standing with my arms out, the words hanging off, quivering in the wind: girl, Scot, daughter, sister, friend, INFP, middle child, Christian, bookworm, employee, student, writer, human (and so on). I’m not sure. Is that enough?
What are my hopes for this blog? In between note-taking in lectures, discussing in tutorials, eating dinner, reading long Renaissance poems, serving customers, eavesdropping on buses, writing, and sleeping ...I hope to write a blog full of ‘noticings.’ I’m not a great authority on any particular subject. I like books, I like words, I like people and their quirks. So I’m thinking that this blog can be like one of the jars in my room, filled with little things I’ve thought were interesting throughout the week. Hopefully you (whoever you are) will find them interesting too.
♥ -
In terms of introductions that was a bit waffley. Maybe I’ll just rewind and I start the way I normally would. I’d take a deep breath, remember how to smile, catch your eye, take a step forward, and then:

beauty in unexpected places.

Thursday, October 7

This was spied in a university 'ladies room'. Maybe one day I’ll be starry-eyed enough to indulge in some minor vandalising.
(I hope so.)

live with eyes wide open.

Wednesday, September 29

tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
(mary oliver)
by mlekoshi