Here is a quick recap of last week’s events. Things are moving along with lots of choices and things to do, and, meanwhile, spring has sprung!
I found out yesterday that I’ve been accepted to George Mason for the masters in history. This poses an interesting dilemma, but I’m kind of having fun trying to figure it out. I’ve already accepted UNCG’s offer, but George Mason, to me, has the more appealing program. GMU is in Fairfax, Virginia which means renting my house and relocating, but they offer research fellowships at the freakin’ Library of Congress which houses my great-grandfather’s papers. He was Washington architect and a great subject for a research project. On the other hand UNCG is an excellent program with a strong tie to their English department which has an amazing creative-writing degree (I’m thinking hard about another cross-disciplinary scholastic experience) and it’s practically in my back-yard. No moving, I keep my jobs, I keep playing music with the guys, and I continue to nurture new and old friendships alike. Hmmm… a tough one. I’ve given myself a week to think it over.
I broke two necessary household appliances in a matter of two hours. First was the washing machine. I loaded an extremely large comforter (seriously, this thing is too large for a king-sized bed—do they make emperor-sized beds?) into the ancient old Maytag that I inherited when I moved into the house fourteen years ago, and after a while I smelled a burning electrical odor. I had toasted the washing-machine’s motor. I gave it a day to cool down and tried it again, but to no avail. The worst part is it burned out when it was full of water. So now I have a soaking wet giant comforter to deal with and I’ll have to bail out the washing machine. I figure I can wash cloths by hand for a while—the dryer still works—until I can get the washer fixed or afford a new one. I’m trying to fit this into the ecochallenge somehow, using less electricity for the sake of the environment.
The second appliance I destroyed was a borrowed lawn-mower. I had just started it, but I couldn’t figure out how to lower the blade. I turned it off and investigated the under-side and then tried to start it up again. But it wouldn’t start! I tried several times and finally gave the pull cord one enthusiastic yank which caused the cord to break off. No lawn-mowing for me. It distressed me because my friend Ryoko was coming over and I wanted to impress her with a kempt yard. She didn’t seem to mind though. If the lawn mower was mine I would get it fixed, but now I just have to pay to get it fixed and return it to the owner. But I’ll work this into the ecochallenge as well. I’ve always wanted one of those rotary mowers without the motor, and now I have an excuse to buy one. No gas, and no noise pollution.
I read two very powerful graphic novels/comics this week. The first two volumes of the Barefoot Gen series by Keiji Nakazawa. The works are Nakazawa's autobiographical story of the bombing of Hiroshima. His life was spared because he was standing with his back to a concrete wall, but his brother, sister and father were all killed. These books are some of the most disturbing I’ve ever read, even more so because of their form. The Manga-like caricatures of life in Japan during the war do little to prepare the reader for the descriptive images of the atomic bomb’s aftermath. I found supreme irony in the fact that the cartoons borrow heavily from early Disney drawings—especially the eyes. I’ve been thinking long and hard about my county’s choice to use the bomb on Japan and am finding little to nothing to justify it in my mind. All those innocent citizens!
I continue to transcribe letters to the Meetings for Sufferings of the Society of Friends. The letters tell of the plans for removal of African Americans to Haiti and Liberia in the 1820’s. I really enjoy this assignment; it’s giving me a broad concept of the efforts toward colonization by Quakers. I try to withhold judgment from my safe-haven in the 21st century, but the whole colonization movement seems more-and-more like forced exile under the guise of freedom. Much to think about.
The library job is going well so far. Librarians are amazingly committed. They’re also really nice. So different from the kitchen world.
In keeping with the theme of war and atrocity in comic form, I bought both volumes of Maus by Art Spiegelman. It was a gift for myself for getting an offer from GMU. I probably don’t have to describe this one, but most know that this was the 1992 Pulitzer Prize winning story of the Holocaust. Another moving and distressing graphic work which doesn’t give one much confidence in the benevolent nature of man. This story should never be forgotten.
Ryoko turned me on to Edward Said. I’ve been curious about the literary theory of Orientalism; we didn’t get into it in my English courses. She gave me Representations of the Intellectual and signed my name using Chinese characters on the first page. A cherished gift.
Well, I think that’s about it. I just heard thunder, and if we get a storm I want to be out on the porch reading Maus.
Sunday, April 27, 2008