31 March, 2010

Um, hi. My name is kelsey and I'm working with the blah blah blah campaign?

I am, officially, that annoying, extravagantly spotted young person you avoid at all costs.  I am a PRECINCT WALKER!  One of those earnest twerps who come to the door trying to get you to vote for things you don't care about.  I honestly can't believe it.  And guess what else?  I did phone soliciting for like three hours tonight.  I HATE phone solicitors.  Gaah.  Many people at their now cold dinners are loathing me right now.  It's a funy feeling.
It's one of those bewildering jobs, so confusing and ill-organized that it will make me laugh when I tell my children about it in twenty years. But right now, it just stresses me out and makes my feet hurt.  For nine hours and 45 minutes I worked, and during that time I ate one bag of fruit snacks. And that's all.  And I'm one of those people who buys bags and bags of overpriced airport food to bundle onto planes just because I am so afraid of going hungry for four hours.  Boy oh boy.  If I didn't loose weight today, I am going to be sincerely upset.
How am I, such a committed idler, possibly doing this? I have no idea.  The mercenary side of my nature has reared its greedy head.   To be honest, I am completely broke.  "More than usually hard up" as they say.  It would be nice to have a little cash.
The work is not that bad, just a bit tedious sometimes.  I did enjoy talking with an English lady on my walk.  And, in the evening during the phone calling, when a soon-to-be 86 year old wanted to chat about her family for a while, I didn't stop her.  It made me feel like a human again.
But I feel sorry for the people I'm bothering.  Particularly when they're older.  I try to be as brief as possible, but I still hate making them stand there or listen to me for so long.  Erg.  I CANNOT believe I'm doing this.  Emily and I are supposed to go again on Friday - we'll see what happens.

Completely random, but - I found this through Jane Austen Today, and Helena Bonham Carter reads excellently.  I adore books on tape.  Or, audiobooks, I suppose they ought to be called.  I'm so used to calling them 'tapes'.

I really like Helena Bonham Carter.  And in Alice in Wonderland She wasn't some roaring, gigantic, over-the-top character.  And, strange as it sounds, it was totally believable. "I love a morning execution, don't you?"  Ah! Perfect!

Anyways, I'm exhausted.  If only I had a warm pig belly for my aching feet. 

29 March, 2010

yet again, semi-serious. what's the deal these days?

Davy died in A Severe Mercy today.  Something must be seriously out of whack in my brain.  Hormones or indigestion are the only things I can think of that could reasonably explain this excessive weepiness and generally soppy mood I'm in.   I didn't cry the last time she died - but my eyes totally welled up today.  Where is my Ice Queen persona going?  Am I just super, super tired?  I mean, I even got a bit choked up while watching Catch Me If You Can this afternoon! WHAT?! And I never, EVER cry in movies. I've gone round the bend.
Reading A Severe Mercy in the bath this evening, I came to this bit about time:
"I saw with immense clarity that we had always been harried by time.  All our dreams back there in Glenmerle had come true: the schooner Grey Goose under the wind, the far islands of Hawaii in the dark-blue rolling Pacific, the spires of Oxford.  But all the fulfillments were somehow, it seemed to me, incomplete, temporary, hurried.  We wished to know, to savor, to sink in-into the heart of the experience - to possess it wholly.  But there was never enough time; something still eluded us."
"We shall come back, we said, and find it... But there wasn't enough time to go back, way leading onto way.  And if we had gone back, there wouldn't have been time enough then, either, for ahead there would be a terminus. Always."
"Time is our natural environment.  We live in it as we live in the air we breathe.  And we love the air - who has not taken deep breaths of pure, fresh country air, just for the pleasure of it?  How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments.  Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it."
"C.S. Lewis, in his second letter to me at Oxford, asked how it was that I, as a product of a materialistic universe, was not at home there. 'Do fish complain of the sea for being wet?  Or if they did. would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures?' Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest?"
"... it may appear as a powerful proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home."
Now, sure, this is lovely - and I've always appreciated the logic behind C.S. Lewis' statement.  But, with recent changes in my ideas, this has all taken on a new significance.
My picture of Heaven will always - like everything else in my life, apparently - be tinted by Narnia.  The final chapter of The Last Battle, "Goodbye to Shadowlands" (Oh dear, forgotten how to punctuate chapters. Italics?), gave me chills as a kid.  Still does.  I strongly recommend giving it a read, if you already haven't.  You'll never have so much as a passing thought of harps again.
Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often."
"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you not guessed?"
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
"There was a railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands- dead.  The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
And as he spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
I'm very quote-happy tonight.  But, anyways, I have no problems imagining how lovely Heaven will be. But, as a silly kid, I always imagined that Heaven, the promise of eternal life, meant less to me.  Less in the sense that it wouldn't be the main thing that drew me to God if I weren't a Christian already.  Meaning, knowing there's a reason and explanation for existence, meant more to me.  Heaven was like a very, very nice perk in an already great package. I'm sure half of this was due to simple lack of capacity - the scope of eternity is a bit too much for me to grasp - the temporal concerns of my life on earth are a bit easier to figure out.  But, with all this thinking about idleness and time, the eternal stuff suddenly means more.
The quotes from A Severe Mercy, above, are a very nice (drat, what's the word?  Explanation? No. Something like it though.) picture of unformed, half-recognized ideas I've recently been mulling over.  Even as I imagined my own ideal life, debt-free, in a Wind in the Willows house, or saw future pictures of myself lazily reading in a lovely wooden canoe, or even gliding along in a shining Grey Goose with a "comrade-lover" by my side, I knew somehow, in the back of my mind, that the manifestations of the dreams would never be as good as the dreams.  I can't escape from time.  And, this evening, at this time in my life, the weight of it has never thundered down on me with such force.  I began thinking; all the true idlers i've been reading about - and according to Sheldon Vanauken, many poets, too -  seem desperate to be free, wishing for more time to live. "O for an age so sheltered from annoy/That I may never know the change of the moons"
But, in this world, there will never be enough time.
It's slightly pathetic that I never put this together until now.
Do you see why, suddenly, heaven has a new significance for me?  Talk about timeless!  Never having to run off to this, no going home in a week, no slogging back to workplace drudgery, no ending. The ultimate idlers' paradise, literally!
This is another post I ought to delete, but shan't.

P.S.  But no way does this mean my idling visions for my little puff of life are a waste of time.  Why not make the best of it?  It may be short, but this life is still important.

28 March, 2010


How cool is that?  Pictures of a launch taken from the space station. Geek alert, no?

think thank thunk

I've been doing some thinking. ("Really?" My dad would say to that, grinning. "You?")  For the umpteenth time, I'm reading A Severe Mercy. I'm trying to figure out why I like it.  The obvious reasons - the beautiful love story, portraits of Oxford life and England, the relationship and correspondence with C.S. Lewis, the writing style itself -  are, well, obvious.  I adore these things - but the aspect I think I relate to the most, is their pre-Christian "pagan" life.  I honestly think that, if I had not become a Christian at a very early age, I would have also worshiped and "adored the mysteries of beauty and love."  Eventually, in the same way, I'm pretty sure I would have ended up a Christian.  No bias at all - I think that's the truth.  (Now that I really think on it - the Narnia books probably would have pulled me in pretty quickly.  I'm not the sort - like the authoress of The Magician's Book - who would have felt betrayed when I learned about the themes behind the Narnia stories. I loved Aslan so much - recognizing the parallels would almost certainly have led me to Christ. I can imagine myself thinking, "well, if that Jesus is anything like Aslan, he's worth looking in to.")
C.S. Lewis talks about feeling the pull of the occult in Surprised By Joy - for me, I think beauty will always have a pull.  When I say beauty, I don't mean physical, human beauty or attractiveness - I mean the pang of joy a line of poetry or a lovely view gives.  Sudden agonizing, splendid stabs of longing.  But, it's just that - an empty longing for something, not the something itself.  It feels like you've just gotten a glimpse, or a half-picture of the real joy, but it's gone, before you can catch it, or even figure out exactly what it is.  If that makes even one drop of sense.
Gee whiz, I sound like a stuffed-up prig.  Erg.  I can't explain it at all without talking like a self-satisfied fool.  Forgive me, dear void, for senseless blogging.
Somewhere in A Severe Mercy, he explains it all a lot better than I ever could - the way, in the end, God was the thing he always longed for - but I can't find the quote.
I'm feeling like the worst walking representation of a wonderful God - and it's terribly convicting. (Though, does anyone ever not feel that way?  I don't know. How could anyone feel any joy if they did?  This is all very messy.)
I shouldn't post this - but I'm going to anyways.  Writing helps me figure things out - and this certainly needs some figuring.

27 March, 2010

live list: a golden afternoon, indeed

So, this morning, I intended to wander around on the hill behind our house and pick some flowers - check something off my live list.  I put on my adventure boots (or, ugly brown horse boots as mummy calls them), pulled on the first clothes I could find, and convinced my sister to come with me.  I did pick a few flowers, but after a while we just wandered and sat. I wanted to do a charming themed post, but I'm too lazy. It's a lazy, lovely day.

Cee is in love with this blog.

We stuck flowers in her hair. We wished there were daisies  to make a daisy chain out of. We wished we knew how to make daisy chains.

In spite of the road just below, and the houses surrounding, and the power lines in the background, it was rather perfect. 
I think I can check off the flower-picking from my list.  We got the essence of what I wanted, even without taking the flowers home. If that makes sense.

Just a bit of silliness, really. 

"When we emerged onto the busy High with the traffic streaming past, we shook hands, and he said: 'I Shan't say good-bye. We'll meet again.' Then he plunged into the traffic. I stood on the other side, watching him.  When he reached the pavement on the other side, he turned round as though he knew somehow that I would still be standing there  in front of the Eastgate.  Then he raised his voice in a great roar that easily overcame the noise of the cars and buses.  Heads turned and at least one car swerved. 'Besides,' he bellowed with a great grin, 'Christians NEVER say good-bye!'" - A Severe Mercy, on parting with C.S. Lewis.

"Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania."

Angela Barret's beautiful illustrations for the Random House Book of Shakespeare Stories.  Poured over them endlessly at age ten - and now I adore Shakespeare at twenty.  I think there's a definite cause and effect there! 

26 March, 2010

Three cheers for spring

Clearly, I am not a particularly skilled photographer.

But - Brinks and I,

we're very happy right now.
Hooray for spring break! And Easter. And everything. 

25 March, 2010

goodnight, my someone

99.9 percent of the time, I am happy to be young-ish; in fact, I dread turning twenty.  ("But your twenties are supposed to be the best years!" My friend Emily argues. "You get married and finish college and get a cool job in your twenties.  You're independent!" "Yeah," I say grumpily, "It's also the years of tax forms by yourself! And insurance forms! And yucky decisions!") But, every so often, I feel a tiny desire to be older and married.  When I read books like A Severe Mercy, I can't help wishing I had such a deep friendship with someone.  To be "two star-crossed lovers".  Minus dying.   I'm sort of in one of those moments right now.
Jeez Louise, I'm just soppy about everything these days! What is going on, Kelsey?  Hormones?  Too much chai tea caffeine late at night? What? This recent excess of sentimentality is worrying me.  I am not normally like this - at ALL.  Next thing I know, I'll be watching the Love Comes Softly movies while clutching tissues and a box of oreos.  Well, actually, I will never sink that low.  I made a pact with the above-mentioned Emily - if I ever so much as think "the Love Comes Softly movies are good" she has promised to shoot me.

24 March, 2010


"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

"By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break in and steal.  It is a fool's life, as they will find out when they get to the end of it, if not before."
Henry David Thoreau

The Rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up his forepaw as the Mole stepped gingerly down. 'Lean on that!' he said. 'Now then, step lively!' and the Mole to his surprise and rapture found himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.
'This has been a wonderful day!' said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. 'Do you know, I've never been in a boat before in all my life.'
'What?' cried the Rat, open-mouthed: 'Never been in a—you never—well I—what have you been doing, then?'
'Is it so nice as all that?' asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.
'Nice? It's the ONLY thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. 'Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: 'messing—about—in—boats; messing——'
'Look ahead, Rat!' cried the Mole suddenly.
It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

'—about in boats—or WITH boats,' the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. 'In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not. Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?'
The Mole waggled his toes from sheer happiness, spread his chest with a sigh of full contentment, and leaned back blissfully into the soft cushions. 'WHAT a day I'm having!' he said. 'Let us start at once!'
Inspired by this fantastic blog (and I mean inspired.  This is the most inspiring blog I have ever run across.  And I've done some blog stalking in my time, let me tell you.), I am writing a live list.  I always say things like, "oh, I have to do that before I die" - now it's officially time to write all those things down. Or at least all the ones I can remember.

Watch a sunrise from a field (preferably a field in England)
Mess about in a boat
Walk through a cool wood.
Embrace my inner nerd and go to a renaissance faire
Paint a watercolor and give it to my mum 
Find a becoming hat that will fit my giant head - Victory! After literally cramming every semi-attractive hat within reach onto my melon of a head, I finally found one that fits at forever 21 in the men's section! You have no idea how triumphant I feel.
See some Shakespeare - Hamlet at the rep and Twelfth Night at the Old Globe.  Both incredible.
Fly a kite (possibly a homemade one?)
go to the beach - without the fuss.  No lugging stuff,stuff, stuff
wear perfume every day
plant a garden
teach the dog to stay
Sew something
learn to like tea
pick a wildflower bouquet
wear a dress to school. 
Send a letter
learn to knit
learn a language
learn to comfortably use the metric system and European shoe sizing. (I am a 40)
train myself to stand up straight, like Audrey Hepburn
learn to pick a lock

23 March, 2010

a lot of yammering about, basically, nothing.

Tonight, while walking as quickly as I could without technically running to the car (I don't care that it gets to minus 40,000 in Iowa, it was cold!) I saw one of my very favorite teachers - from whom I took two theatre classes last semester - walking across campus.  It was one of those funny moments, the sort that, though the little incident may not be hugely significant, makes you think about bigger things for hours afterward.  Mr.  McKinley was one of the most exceptional teachers I've ever learned from; certainly the best at this school.  I always came home from his classes talking a mile a minute, dying to tell this funny story, or with an interesting piece of information to relay, or simply a wispy grin leftover on my face from 4 hours of interesting lecture and good jokes.  He is well-read, intelligent, funny and fair.  He doesn't swear, gives impeccably organized lectures, thinks textbooks are overpriced, and returns papers within two weeks.  He's a great teacher. Thanks to Mr. McKinley, I saw my first-ever Shakespeare at the Old Globe.  I read, with more depth than I've ever read anything - even in lit classes - Death of a Salesman. It was a great semester. So why, you may ask, didn't I wave or say hello? Because, (cough) I was signed up for another of his classes this semester and dropped it at the last moment.  For some wacko reason, over Christmas break I suddenly decided that an English major would, after all, be the best choice for me. Why I even pretend I've got the whole major question figured out, I don't know.  It's RIDICULOUS how often I change my mind.
So, I dropped all my fun theatre classes lined up for spring.  But, really, this isn't why I didn't wave.  I have this weird feeling that I owe him more than some paltry excuse, not just for dropping his class (which would have been excellent, stupidhead me), but for being where I am.  Or maybe I feel I need to make excuses to myself.  I had such great dreams and fantastic hopes last semester, looking towards the future.  Visions of a more daring, seize-the-day me.  If I didn't necessarily do great things myself, I was going to worm my way into a world where beautiful things, things I believe in and understand, happen.
Somehow, I feel like I owe my future to this teacher.  That if I don't do something worhtwhile, even a small something, I will be letting him down.
And you know what's ironic?  He probably wouldn't even remember me; I was one kid in 15-year sea of faces. Funny, you know?

21 March, 2010

I'm planning my life.  How ridiculous that sounds.
I never thought I would ever find myself so carefully sketching my dream house and making lists of the essentials I would need to furnish it, but I am.
With the possibility of a house, custom-built for not too much money in view, I can see a sort of Wind in the Willows life for myself, with a hint of Walden; armchairs, fireplaces, a light, airy house on the bank of some slow-moving river or lake, a dock, a boat tied to the end of it, a neat vegetable plot occupying a corner of the garden.  Five years ago, this vision would have seemed nice or picturesque, but I wouldn't have wanted it.  Now, I can think of nothing better.

Essentially, this will be my house:

This will be my boat:

 And this will be my library:

What a silly girl I am.  But dreaming and sketching is rather fun.


15 March, 2010

"One of the wonderful books of the world" - The Wind in The Willows

Chapter One
The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!' and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gaveled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, 'Up we go! Up we go!' till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.
'This is fine!' he said to himself. 'This is better than whitewashing!' The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow...
Pen and watercolor is too lovely.

14 March, 2010

WARNING: long rant. avoid at all costs.

I officially despise college searching.  How can people enjoy this nightmarish activity?  Ugh.  Went and visited a very large Christian university in Virginia a few weeks ago, the name of which I will not mention but which boasts - and when I say boasts I mean boasts - tanning beds, year-round skiing, foyers measuring "fowa hundrud an fifty feet bye fifty feet" and "spowts an music fuh too attract thu yhung people."
Oh, yeah, tanning beds are definitely a big selling point for me.   For sure.
Hm. Not.
I've never heard anything so ridiculous in my life.  Let's just say that the "attractions" the school has to offer do not attract me and leave it at that. Moving on.

I'm feeling a bit grouchy.  I don't want to whinge here, but grrrr.

I herby put out a disclaimer.
I've been toting How to be Idle around with me over the last week or so, and I've been asked by friends, quite a few times, what I'm reading.  But I feel a bit hesitant, after I flash the title to 'em, when they ask me whether it's good or not.  (I sort of think, well, why would I be more than halfway through the book if it wasn't good? but never say it)  It is good, mainly.   But did I cringe when one of my mom's very conservative co-workers took note of the title and author on a little pad?  Yes.  I really worry that, if anyone actually does go out and pick the book up, they will be appalled by some of the ideas and, erm, language - and think I'm totally okay with it all.  I often disagree with Mr. Hodgkinson. Christians are entirely responsible for the messed-up work ethic we've got today?  I have a hard time believing that.  Life is pointless?  Sorry, I don't buy it.
For example, a couple of the chapters in How to be Idle are exclusively about drinking, smoking, and hangovers, etc. I don't have problems with responsible drinking. When people say it's 100%, no question about it, absolutely wrong for good Christians to drink, period, I can't help thinking of C.S. Lewis. I mean, anyone can do some reading and find out that he enjoyed a pint at the pub now and then.  It's one of those things you can't generalize about.  For some people, going to the movies is wrong - but just because you object, it isn't automatically wrong for all Christians to go to the movies.  Drinking is one of those things.  My parents don't drink, some of my friends' parents do - and we are all fine with it.
I do, however, have problems with drunkenness.   As far as I've seen, nothing good has ever come out of getting drunk.  My mom and dad have both spent huge portions of their lives in fire/paramedic/EMT jobs, and I've heard who knows how many stories of people getting themselves killed or smashed up - or, even worse in my opinion, hurting an innocent bystander - while in a drunken stupor.  My family has a history of alcoholism, and I've seen enough - if you know what I mean.  Tom Hodgkinson seems to think getting drunk on a regular basis is a normal, okay thing.  I disagree.  I don't object to getting drunk because it interferes with people getting work done, as Mr. Hodgkinson says the objectors do.   I just don't see the appeal in barfing, stumbling around with impaired judgement, and waking up with a splitting headache.  But then, I am a bit biased.
Things like that whole rant above are the issues I have... issues with.  I just disagree - but, to me, the book is still extremely valuable.  A lot of the people I've shrinkingly shared the book with are the sort that, if they don't agree with every word the author says, won't see any of the good bits.  And there are good bits in Tom Hodgkinson's philosophy, I swear!  I mean, gosh, how inspired is the idea that, in a family, both parents could work part-time on swapping schedules - and thereby spend three or four days at home with their kids? I'd never, ever though of that before!  So much of what I'm learning feels like something I've always known, but could never put words to.  The way wandering in the woods or messing about in boats or reading about "the horns of elfland" hurts in the pit of my stomach.  I've always liked the idea of victory gardens and walking and being free from stuff stuff stuff.  Somehow, it's just right.

Didn't mean to get all boring on you, blog. But there it is.  I'm just trying to figure things out.  Blah blah blah.  Who do I think I am, anyways?  Oh well.  Blogs are the place to be opinionated, right?

05 March, 2010

idle ill

I woke up at 4 this morning, flailed about in the dark trying to find my cup, took a drink of water and thought, "Hm.  I'm going to have a cold tomorrow." And guess what? I hab a cold.
I always enjoy bouts of mild illness. Bring on headaches and runny noses - to me, it's worth it.  During my elementary years, sick days meant a blessed reprieve from the agony of school - but any kid knows this. I always, always watched Honey I Shrunk the Kids, ate meals on trays decorated with flowers in little bud vases and, all in all, had a keen time.  And even as a homeschooler (my sainted mother schooled me from sixth grade on through high school and I adored nearly every minute of it - the minute I did not enjoy being the one in which we dissected a silkworm), waking with a stuffed-up head still had its perks.  I looked forward to getting my wisdom teeth yanked out in December - envisioning days of contented slumber, Jamba Juice and DVD rentals.  (To be honest, it really wasn't very fun.  I barfed a lot. But after that I had a swell time.)
Imagine my delight this morning when I came upon a chapter in How to Be Idle entitled, "On Being Ill."  How perfect is that?  Possibly even more suitable than reading Death in the Clouds during a plane flight the other day. 
It turns out, I am not the only adult who appreciates a good cold now and then.   I remembered reading somewhere that C.S. Lewis enjoyed, "to be always convalescent from some small illness and always seated in a window that overlooked the sea, there to read... eight hours of each happy day."

And I bet wearing a dressing gown as magnificent as this one couldn't have been unpleasant either
Or Jerome K. Jerome, in "On Being Idle", upon being "ordered to Buxton for a month":

"I pictured to myself a glorious time--a four weeks' dolce far niente with a dash of illness in it. Not too much illness, but just illness enough--just sufficient to give it the flavor of suffering and make it poetical. I should get up late, sip chocolate, and have my breakfast in slippers and a dressing-gown. I should lie out in the garden in a hammock and read sentimental novels with a melancholy ending, until the books should fall from my listless hand, and I should recline there, dreamily gazing into the deep blue of the firmament, watching the fleecy clouds floating like white-sailed ships across its depths, and listening to the joyous song of the birds and the low rustling of the trees. Or, on becoming too weak to go out of doors, I should sit propped up with pillows at the open window of the ground-floor front, and look wasted and interesting, so that all the pretty girls would sigh as they passed by."

Maybe minus the pretty girls for me personally, but precisely the right idea. 

Although, in How to Be Idle, Tom Hodgkinson brings up a good point which I myself have often sadly shaken my head over: "What happened, I wonder, to the doctors of the turn of the century, who used to recommend long periods of inactivity on the South Coast for minor ailments?  These days doctors just sell you pills, but there used to be a wonderful medical prescription known as the "rest cure' - in other words the only way we can cure this is for you to do as little as possible for as long as possible."

People are always going abroad or having rest cures or "convalescing" when they're sick or worn out in Agatha Christie books.   I've always envied the girls of Ballet Shoes, who, when afflicted with whooping cough, whatever that is, get to leave London and stay in a lovely cottage "in the middle of a common in Kent." And how Petrova gets to blow her influenza nose in Mr. Simpson's new, clean handkerchief with "beautiful initials embroidered on it." 
People really knew how to be ill back then.

I am constantly appalled by ads for cold medicine or Claritin where, in the first scene, a person is miserably blowing their nose and, in the next, happily off to work or riding their bike or something equally ghastly, smiling so hard my face hurts in sympathy.   While chatting with a friend after Christmas, I tried my best not to look horrified as she told me about a bought of sickness she just powered through - only staying home on Christmas day, and then trotting off to work the next day.  What fun is that?  None! That's gross.  Miserable.  Unimaginably wretched.  I mean, I would hate having her job to being with - but having to work a mostly unpleasant job while sick?  Ugh.  Gives me the shivers.  That poor, poor girl.
It's very sad, the way people are guilted into working or doing things when they're unwell.  I mean, if you don't give your body some time to recoup, it stands to reason that your cold or flu or whatever will take longer to go away. I am a firm believer in staying home and sleeping.  Plus, if you stay at home, your germs stay at home with you.  No one else has to suffer.  Unless, of course, they too are pining for a few days of restful loafing.  Then feel free to hack all over people.

I will never understand "working through it".  But, let us toast - with toast, the traditional fare of the unwell - the hard workers who labor on, come headache or high fever.  Please, idle ailing ones, lift your slice. Slaving, sniffling hordes, we do not envy you, but we salute you.

01 March, 2010

well, if I must...

I've been reading a lot of books on idling or works by great idlers lately, trying to get material to write a speech for my little sister (it's a long story).  It's sort of wonderful, actually.  I have to read books like How to be Idle and Keats' "Ode to Indolence".  I feel a bit sneaky.  It's like having a job as a food sampler or being paid to watch movies.

Every time I read a quote by some great writer or artist who firmly advocates idling, I do a fist pump and shout, "Amen, baby!"   I'm collecting ammo.  When people try to shame me and my late-rising tendencies by telling my how early they get up ("Five o'clock at the latest.  How can you feel right sleeping in till eleven?"), I'm going to pull out my little notebook (where I am collecting said ammo) and say, "Oh, really?  Ever heard of G.K. Chesterton?  Because he wrote an essay called 'On Lying in Bed' where he says, 'The tone now commonly taken towards the practice of lying in bed is hypocritical and unhealthy. Instead of being regarded, as it ought to be, as a matter of convenience and adjustment, it has come to be regarded by many as if it were a part of essential morals to get up early in the morning.' So ha ha on you, meanie head!"