July 26, 2009
I am having one of those summers. I am just so fickle, I can't decide what to do with myself.
I'm on page 552 on Infinite Jest. I can't tell you how much I am loving this book. The problem with it is that it makes time disappear. Entire hours evaporate. It's amazing.
I am completely obsessed with two things right now. Well, three, but we've already talked about IJ.
I've been listening compulsively to CBC's Radio 3, indie music from Canada that's online and on Sirius. It totally is rocking my world, and it's sent me to the record store twice in the last 5 days. Of course, I haven't just bought Canadian artists, but that's been a focus: Metric, A. C. Newman, Apostle of Hustle, Immaculate Machine, and a Crash Test Dummies greatest hits which doesn't include God Shuffled his Feet, which had sent me running to the record store in the first place. Oh well. More Crash Test Dummies in my future, obviously.
I love that I can listen to radio 3 online, I love that I can add songs to my own playlist, but the Flash interface that makes it so hipster also means you can't link to something. And I always forget that if I want to look at an artist's profile, I have to look under New Music Canada. So part of me has thought I need to do a canadian bands I like site with OCD links to all and every bit of press, etc. (But VJ, that already exists... they call it Wikipedia)
I'm also obsessed with naturescaping my backyard. The big focus there is removing invasive species, like the Travelers Joy Clematis that is fighting with the Tibetan Blackberry for control of the non-wooded part of the lot, and planting native species.
For those of you who haven't been by lately, my backyard is about 2/3 wooded and 1/3 sunny. I have 7 trees in the backyard. I loves my trees.
This started innocently enough: I read about someone who had pursued Audubon certification for having a backyard wildlife habitat, and then I found myself spending more time than is healthy reading about it online and in books. I'm sold.
In this last year, I've had more birds and more butterflies than ever before. And I don't feed the birds, either. It's not like I've gone out of my way to plant, well, much of anything, but suddenly this year, I've seen hummingbirds in both the front and back yards (first for either).
So today, while I was avoiding doing chores, I decided to go to the neighborhood plant store and see if they had any books on naturescaping. They did have a book that I've decided is essential, but it's also $50, which felt like a big commitment for what might end up being another of my infatuations. So I decided to wander around the nursery.
And that's when I saw them -- two flying mice. I refocused my eyes, and realized that they were fluffy little hummingbirds, with their blurs for wings, drinking from a somewhat homely looking native fuschia. They didn't seem to mind at all that two humans were gawking at them, just a few feet away. The light was defused so that they looks like little fuzzy brown birds -- but it was clear they were hummingbirds.
So. I'm smitten. Ruined.
I'm also sorta planning out a vacation to go up to Vancouver Island and see my pal Chrissie. She's moved up to the most beautiful place in the world, and so I have to visit. And spend a lot of time on boats. It sounds so good...
Also on the obsession list is making plans to visit the various ferries in the area (who knew there were ferry near Portland, not me). And this morning, someone in my scooter club had the brilliant idea of inviting all us to breakfast at the Deck. It was supposed to get to 100 degrees today, so the idea of scootering over to the Columbia river, and sitting on the deck of a houseboat-restaurant at 9am sounded like the best thing possible. And it was. It was almost chilly, and gorgeous.
That's not to say that everything is sunny -- I'm still not out of the woods, emotionally, and I am still no closer to being happy that I'm single, but the obsessions seem positive at the very least.
July 5, 2009
Infinite SummerI'm participating in Infinite Summer.
Join endurance bibliophiles from around the world in reading Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week. No sweat.
I'm a big DFW non-fiction fan and have been for a long time, but I hadn't read his fiction.
It's not just because that Infinite Jest is huge, being the DFW novel, and at 1079 pages a big commitment (though he has several written several, less prominent pieces of fiction).
I tend to not read a whole lot of fiction in general, and I want fiction to have the same sorts of affect that I get from nonfiction: I want to learn something from it.
It goes without saying that I am behind, but not as badly as I might have thought. I need to be at p. 168 tomorrow -- I'm currently at p. 124. (This means I'm at 12.6%, which is definitely behind) This long weekend has been good to hole up and read, and also to look at the various other David Foster Wallace reading aids and videos, and IS blogs, etc., and try to make connections.
Last night, I watched Another Random Bit: the perspective of David Foster Wallace, which features parts from his Harpers pieces, A Trip to the Fair, and A supposeably fun thing, which were republished in A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again : essays and arguments. I've loved both the essays, and read them repeatedly, and yet there is something so poetic in hearing his read them before an audience.
But reading Infinite Jest is hard. It's huge, it's vast, and especially at the beginning, it has too many characters, too many stories. It's so complex-- Infinite Jest is one of those things, I fear, that required repeated readings.
Given that I haven't read a physical book in awhile, this has been both daunting, and enjoyable. I've started charting things out, since they aren't presented in a linear sense; the subsidized years, the characters, the connections.
And I did feel like I was wandering in the wilderness until I came to footnote 24, a 9 page filmography of James Incandenza. And then, I started seeing the connections, and feeling like this might make a very interesting map.
I'm reading a library copy but I'm not guessing that I'll be able to keep it so I can finish it, so I have a copy on order with my favorite local bookstore... which I hope will get it soon, because I'm beginning to panic... just a little.
There is also just way too much here that reveals (in retrospect) the pain that DFW knew. The chapter on Kate Gompert, a suicide in a mental ward, is really painful. I've been there (the emotional part, not the physically locked up part), and knowing that DFW was too... I mean, of course he was there. Which doesn't lessen the sting of his being gone.
In another universe, I'm loving Lynda Barry's later works. What It Is is a revelation, the power of reading, of drawing, and the stories that we tell ourselves in doing these things. She writes the Editor's foreword for Best American Comics, 2008 exploring these topics as well.
A couple resources for other Infinite Summerarians:
- A supposably fun blog
- Infinite Zombies
- Human Complex, an addict's (and tennis fan's) guide to IJ
- Livejournal IS group
- IS Progress tracker