The interesting things going on in my life seem either too important to write about quickly, or too informative regarding some sensitive thing or another. This is perhaps exacerbated by my lack of a serious boyfriend: if I don’t have to regularly turn whatever is happening in my head into a communicable narrative, the plot arcs in my life seem to get stranger. Or perhaps I just don’t remember the less communicable plot arcs from earlier, or perhaps one always becomes stranger over time. Anyway, here are a few mundane and inoffensive things that happened lately in my life:
- I went to a party. I It was a relief when it ended because my face hurt from smiling for so long. I don’t know if I was happy. I liked it when a guy performed his favorite poem for me.
- I read A Grief Observed. For some reason I have always felt like C.S.Lewis was presumably my friend, or my fellow traveler or peer somehow, though I suppose I hadn’t read any of his writing except Narnia as a child. I was not disappointed. Which is strange, though it feels expected. I’m not sure what I particularly wanted, but something like a sensibility that is sincere and steady yet contends with the magic and wonder of the world, whatever those are. (Do most serious people seem less trustworthy and respectable in a way, because they set aside for respectability a swathe of what seems important and in need of contending with? Maybe.) I especially liked the idea in the book of appreciating the bracing resistance one meets when one’s imaginary world contacts reality, perhaps in meeting the real version of a person one often imagines, or in finding that one’s ideas of God or love do not match the real thing. It went well among my own thoughts lately about what one’s mental relationship with reality is or should be.
- C.S.Lewis apparently insisted on writing with a dip pen forever, in spite of fountain pens and typewriters being common in his lifetime. He said not to use typewriters, because ‘…the noise will destroy your sense of rhythm, which still needs years of training’. I was curious enough to try this, given my esteem for his writing. I can almost write with a dip pen now, and it is a decently different experience. If it turns out to be good, one explanation would be that it is slow, yet physically aesthetically pleasing, which means that I’m not bored but have time to think through each word several times over before I actually write it. (I’m reminded of the line “…and I want life in every word, to the extent that it’s absurd” and general associated aesthetic) He also apparently whispered the words out loud as he was writing, which I have also tried to do some. The jury is out.
- I’ve been trying to find a house to rent with a group of friends. I’m surprised how much our views about the relative merits of different houses and house components swing without much new information. We were fairly excited about a big, expensive, epic house with lovely living spaces and a tree house and all that a couple of days ago, and now are all much more excited for a place that is small and half the price per person. I’m not sure what about this feels confusing to me, but it reminds me of trying to understand people. Maybe some things—like people or houses—are sufficiently complicated that you can’t really keep all the characteristics in your head at once, so you have to have some kind of abstraction about them, and you can have quite different abstractions for the same underlying bunch of details, especially if the underlying details aren’t fundamentally thematic (e.g. if one place is just like another place except every aspect of it is exactly twice as expensive, that is easier to understand than if everything is just different in different ways, and many are more expensive but not all, and they matter different amounts). So changing abstractions can cause huge swings in evaluation.
- There is a Christmas party outside my door, so I’m going to go to that now. My house has lots of Australians and other folk who for whatever reason don’t go home at Christmas, but we have made quite a go of celebrating it with each other. We have had hot chocolate, holiday anagrams, stockings, a photo, a tree, a white elephant, Christmas dresses and cricket, and soon there will be Chinese food. Hopefully it is good to celebrate Christmas.