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Mar. 1st, 2012 11:52 pm
taelle: (Default)
I don't usually follow USA election coverage, but isn't this kind of demented? Also kind of insulting to just about everyone - Pinterest users, scrapbook keepers, people who can read novels about experiences not quite related to their own...

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Jan. 28th, 2012 03:24 am
taelle: (Leningrad)
I was reading a blog of a fannish not-quite-acquaintance and, looking at the blogger herself and her commenters, realized suddenly that there's a lot of people who buy fannish stuff online on impulse and then when it comes, they're not so enthusiastic and don't know what to do with it - and still do it next time, just for the thrill of "want => have". ... now, I suspect there's people who do this not only in fandom circles and with fandom stuff, but I feel like fannish shopping is more relevant to my life (also, I don't buy stuff like clothes and makeup etc online). Especially with Takarazuka as my new hobby, as it's rather shopping-heavy. But still... this is a sin I do not commit - I am the reverse, I plan a lot, and I get my thrills by buying after a long time of planning. Double thrills: (a) I have this cool stuff, and (b) my plans were realized.

Otherwise, a slow day at home, mostly working. I am still kind of cold, and have my period, and a lot of work. And between work I am still watching the Takarazuka Anna Karenina bit by bit. I spent some time wondering why they cast such a young actress as Karenin, and then I stopped seeing her as book-Karenin and decided to view her character as a rather young man, who found himself in a high position and tries to compensate for his youth for being extra serious. ... this way it was far more sensible. Also, I enjoy a lot how they do emotional scenes through dancing, very lovely - and the race scene is a dance too. Fun; though I am not up to finishing it now, I still have half an hour of the show left.

Also, today - well, yesterday, the 27th - was 65th anniversary of the end of Blockade. I did not go to the Piskarevka memorial - I don't do it every year, and it's _cold_ - but it's not as if I can forget. Not as if anyone can forget these graves, marked with the year only. My great-great-grandfather is there somewhere... maybe. He was an old man already, so he did not survive the winter of 1941/42. And I still cry every time I read things about Blockade.

The past is still here, hidden under the present of the city.







... the first photo is very close to where I live. It was a heavily bombed area. The second is Nevsky Prospect, the main street.

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Jan. 27th, 2012 07:08 am
taelle: (books)
I am picky about weather, some people might say: I don't like having above-zero temperatures in winter, it's bad for the nature and makes me suspect spring will be late; and at the same time -14, as it was this morning, is too cold for me. Too cold is when you have to dress for warmth specifically and not for nice clothes. And especially when it's too cold for skirts.

And even without being cold, this was a complicated and not too productive day: I've been staying up late to work and then sleeping late, but this morning I had to meet a friend's train and then spent half of the day with her - after which I fell down to sleep, since I had less than two hours of sleep at night. Which, naturally, led to staying up late again. And trying to do two jobs at once.

Not reading much, mostly watching Takarazuka shows bit by bit in pauses between work. Now I am watching Anna Karenina, and Takarazuka adaptations of Russian classics tend to amuse me (but also I like this Anna - she's more believable to me than many Annas in the ordinary films). I think I should reread Anna Karenina - but I probably should finish War and Peace first.

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Nov. 5th, 2011 05:40 am
taelle: (books)
I finished the first volume of War and Peace - that famous Austerlitz scene. I don't know - I do get Andrey's fixation on the sky and feeling distanced from everything, I mean, he's in shock, isn't he? But if he's in shock and feeling that everything 'worldly' is too far away, then why would he ponder on the insignificance of Napoleon, battle etc.? These should be too distant and too difficult to concentrate on... I think Tolstoy here had a bit too much hammering us with his message.

... I think I need a break to read something more cheerful. If I only knew what.

Also, did write a couple of pages. Possibly heading into wrong direction (I just see how this conversation would be a mess leading nowhere if I RPed it with someone), but I don't see any other direction for now.

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Oct. 17th, 2011 07:50 pm
taelle: (books)
I finally finished the job and earned a day off. ... I hate that state at the end of a big/difficult job, when you are often neither resting nor working at full strength, and feel you could finish it sooner if only you pushed harder... which you can't.

Returned to War and Peace, and Andrei at war. I still don't like him - and feel him slightly ridiculous in his inner musings. Probably all of us have momentary flashes of 'hey, I did such a great job, they're going to give me a medal', but it feels a bit childish to me to be offended at not being taken to see the emperor immediately with his depeche; and I'm not even talking about his "I need to go back to save our army" - not "do my bit", but to save everyone. Then again, he's a fan of Napoleon at that stage. Maybe Tolstoy really meant to show him as idiotic, I dunno. Tolstoy as a writer has such a lack of mercy towards people.

Also finished 'A Madness of Angels' by Kate Griffin, a fantasy novel abou urban magicians in London (thanks, [profile] calanthe_b). I did not love any of the characters here, but I loved the idea, the description of urban sorcery, and London seen through the eyes of someone for whom it's a source of magic. And also it was interesting to puzzle out what actually happened to Matthew.

* * *

Oct. 10th, 2011 03:36 am
taelle: (diary)
So, an impromptu holiday was a good idea: I swear I did more today than on Friday, and in less time. Self, when will you learn?

And the autumn is truly golden and beautiful - and I took photos of some pretty cabbage-type things on a street flowerbed; they're unexpected but look good. Now I hope I'll find time to deal with photos - I think the mushroom-picking ones are still in my camera. Of course I might be delaying the process because I am still afraid of Photoshop (I can distinguish bad photos in need of work - now, choosing the processes for making them good is more complicated).

I think I'm pausing on Tolstoy because I was reading him too thoughtfully and got tired or frightened that I can't keep up with myself. I do tend to do that - one of the reasons I work myself into a writing block. BTW, haven't written today - but started planning and thinking about untangling that half-written LBB story. Like, almost literally untangling. Go me. Though some training-writing still needs to be happening.

Meanwhile I am reading about George Eliot - and also listening to Patrick Allitt's lectures on Victorian Britain. Fascinating, even though the lectures are a bit too surface stuff in places - then again, my knowledge on Victorian Britain is too unsystematic. But it's such an interesting time in terms of social change. Seeing the seeds of the present in the past (though the history of medicine keeps being scary despite being interesting). And with George Eliot bio I love most of all seeing the network of people working at intellectual pursuit, overlapping circles of friends and acquaintances involved in literature and science and stuff (that's why I also like Camden and the rest of the antiquarian gang - that sense of interconnectedness).

And in the kitchen my mother keeps watching Columbo. I come and go and see bits of it and it creates a curious impression of the continuing world in which Columbo moves with that simplicity of his, both artificial and real, but even his artifice looks more real than everyone else.

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Oct. 8th, 2011 02:56 am
taelle: (Default)
Will this job ever end? ... at the speed I am working now, it probably won't. I'm not sure whether I'm writing today, though I have another silly drabble idea.

BTW, Yuletide time soon. Maybe it'll be saner not to participate. It'd be sad - I participated in each one since the first one, and I do love me some personal tradition, but. I don't even know what I want (except for Takarazuka, and no one's writing that). Oh hell, maybe I should offer War and Peace, if I finish it by then... Do _I_ want a War and Peace fic? I think I want a Fforde crossover, and the things people do write for Russian classics for Yuletide tend to be slash.  No, seriously, I googled War and Peace fanfics and found some slash. Which is awesome - I love other people's squee and I love that someone's excited enough to write fic for that - but that particular pairing leaves me cold.

I am so confused. And tired.

* * *

Oct. 7th, 2011 04:53 am
taelle: (Default)
I think I am all out of one-shot drabble ideas. Time to plan - it feels like something longer than a page needs planning. Also it feels like I forgot how to plan stories. At all. Too tired from work, I guess - and work goes too slowly because I am tired.

In an attempt to feel productive I decided to start on the shawl I long ago bookmarked for knitting. Or, well, tried to. Perhaps I am not sensible in trying this -  I am not a good knitter, and I never knitted anything by pattern before. Especially an English-language pattern. Though the problem here is not with translation as such - it's just that I suspect I was taught the basic knit and purl in a manner which is not quite the accepted one, so videos and too detailed pictures give me headaches and I can't really connect them with what I'm doing. Describing the idea of what I have to do works much better.

Anyway, I redid the very beginning two times but the sixth row still doesn't work. I figured out the idea of SSK even if I'm not yet sure I adapted it correctly, but I can't even find a description of a double YO, and what I'm doing clearly isn't working. ... I'm still doing that shawl, so there. Though I might provide all the dolls with scarves on the side just for the sake of completing something.

With Tolstoy, I am at the war already. I just remembered that we're not actually supposed to like Andrei. I think. I mean, Tolstoy tells us straight ahead that he's only nice and approachable to people who think him special and expect great things from him etc. ... I found the Bolkonsky family life rather interesting, btw - so Andrei loves his sister and his father. How nice. Me, I don't like his sister - her saintliness feels a bit too much, and I feel like she's as haughty as her father and her brother, in her own way.

... and it's funny to compare the 'war' bits to Heyer's Infamous Army - the hero was an aide-de-camp too, after all. Though less special than Andrei.

I think I started noticing how Tolstoy is doing what he's doing - seems like defamiliarization is his favourite trick: describing something with no kind of shorthand, like he - and us with him - sees an action  (he's mostly using it for actions and facial expressions, I think) for the first time ever. Possibly for the first time in history. It works - I think that's why everyone and everything is so alive, like we're really seeing everything; but at the same time I feel like it leads to a kind of estrangement, at least for me - we look at those people with such lack of familiarity that they keep being a bit alien, and there's little chance to feel sympathy with their everyday lives.

(I do read my other books too, but slowly. George Eliot's still writing Adam Bede, so I have ways to go with her bio).
taelle: (sad)
I feel too tired to do a proper workload, and this troubles me greatly. Perhaps I should go back to taking vitamins - I can never quite believe in their effectiveness, but I must do _something_. ... but I did manage the minimum work I had to do today. Oh well.

I have this habit of making work pauses to read Internet discussions, since they're much less engrossing than any other type of break I might take (the downside is, of course, that I don't rest properly - I'm still at the computer).Today (and yesterday) I was entertaining myself with people arguing whether it was ethical and/or legal to do print-on-demand editions of fanfics. I can't quite imagine why it would be less legal than posting fanfiction online, since the fanficcer still gets no profit, but apparently a lot of people feel that an actual book done by an actual publisher makes all the difference (I suppose they feel the fanficcer in this case puts herself on an equal footing with the author of canon. Or something). Oh well, you learn something every day.

Had to mail some documents, so I walked to the 20-minutes-from-us post office, instead of the one on our street - like I started doing recently. I still marvel at how two post offices can be so different. No queues, a nice walk and  postal employees who do not feel sending mail or packages a panic-inducing task - so very refreshing. Though our post office was also surprisingly nice today - for some reason they delivered a package to our apartment instead of bringing a notice for me to go get it. I can't figure out their rules. ... also, the walk to the farther p.o. is through one of my favourite places in the city, especially now, with golden autumn practically at its best. I do love it here.

I continue reading Tolstoy for secondary characters, but I can't help wondering about Pierre. He's so childish... I had an argument with my mother today, about how peculiarly he was brought up, neither as a man of society nor as someone who'd have to work for a living. If his father planned to legitimize him and presumably have him as a heir, why did he leave Pierre so poorly socialized?

... also I suddenly thought that in a way Sonya is Fanny Price, only without a lucky ending - refusing the suitor she did not want and not getting neither the one she wanted nor any respect.


Also, I felt too tired to write but I know myself and I went and wrote a tiny sketch of a Preposterous AU Crossover (another one) - however, this one requires planning before writing anything sensible. Am I up to planning? There's a lot of writing stuff that I should be planning, from this AU to my LBB fic, but I am terribly bad at this. Oh well, guess I'll have to learn.
taelle: (tea)
I am inattentive: I did finish the first chapter of War and Peace, and many others - I just confused first chapter with first part, which I have yet to finish. And as at 16 or wherever I last read it, I still feel sorry for Vera. Oh yes, I do identify with her a bit, but still. An older daughter in a large family - probably the oldest child, as far as I can see - and an obviously unloved one, a younger - four years younger - sister preferred. It looks to me as if Vera seeks to be approved, noticed and praised for a thing she's temperamentally suited to - for being responsible, correct and polite. Which, of course, doesn't work. And she's a bit nasty to Sonya, of course, but also correct - the nice and kind Rostov family _would_ put an end to Sonya's love for Nikolai; Vera's just the only one who says so at once. (I feel sorry for Sonya too - I have this strange urge to either marry her to Denisov or to make her a Jurisfiction agent)

This, of course, is what I identify with - being a calm and reserved and quiet person with not much of a... social intuition in a family of charming and expansive and temperamental people. Also, it looks to me like Tolstoy does not trust calm and polite people. And keeps comparing women to animals. He's a great writer, but not a very pleasant person.

In other news, got back to getting massages, which I stopped when I fell ill. That was nice, though my back feels sort of surprised.  Tried to catch up with work in view of approaching deadline. Since I am not yet up to speed with work, I can't properly make plans for the weekend, which annoys me. I guess I'd better think that I'll be working till Monday - this way the only surprises I'm getting will be pleasant ones.

Wrote again, another silly drabble - crossover and possibly AU and most certainly not for posting, but yay me for writing three days straight and for not being afraid to write silly random ideas.

* * *

Oct. 4th, 2011 03:28 am
taelle: (reading)
Both circumstances and someone's blogpost kept me thinking today about what do you do if someone dear to you has problems. How can you help, if you're not at the same city at the moment, for example. If you can't give practical help and they are not in the mood to be distracted/entertained with random fun/pretty things. If you can only sort of give vague 'I'm here for you' signs. Because, am I here? What am I here for? Very likely those questions don't have answers, but I still feel like a failure.

Among other things, it's related to my eternal worry that there are correct emotional reactions and I don't know them. I know where this is coming from - I am temperamentally very different from the rest of my family, - but when you remember from the age of five that good girls don't react to presents like that (saying "oh, that's cool, thanks" instead of jumping with joy and hugging the giver like you're supposed to), don't greet family members like that, etc., it's rather difficult to keep remembering that there's no One True Way. I mean, what if there _is_ one?

In less introspective/cheerier news, I went to the library today, a month late. In the end I only took out one new book and renewed one book I already had - because the foreign language department had a book sale. And they're going to have more sales because they're clearing up space and clearly I have to go there more often because books! Cheap and unexpected books! I was good and only bought seven books, from P.D.James to Richard Hakluyt, and still I have aching shoulders from carrying all this home. I like biographies, and biographies are heavy... And I need to reorganize my bookshelves. And I don't know when I'm going to read all this. But: BOOKSES!

And I am still at the first chapter of War and Peace, thinking mostly about how I don't like Andrei. And feel sorry for his wife. And for Pierre, somehow.

Also, wrote a ficlet today. Liked it more than the stuff I wrote yesterday. But I circled around my notebook for maybe an hour, spamming Tumblr instead. Oh well, I can do it. I can get through the fear of writing if I keep writing. I know this.

* * *

Oct. 2nd, 2011 03:31 am
taelle: (reading)
Today was itchy and unsettled. Maybe because I awoke to a friend's phone call about her family problems, and kept worrying about it - and checking up with her - all day. And then, maybe not only that - it feels like a transition time. Last year's October was really physically difficult - I had no strength and felt like sleeping all the time; now I only can't get rid of my cough and have a bit too much hair left on my comb each morning. Oh well, time for vitamin shopping, perhaps.

I should get myself together and concentrate more on work - deadline's looming somewhere nearby.

I continue having a complicated relationship with my sewing machine. I was told once that in order to learn and to progress I need to learn to do things badly first, and I swear this particular piece of equipment plans to teach me just that. Oh well, I'll have to figure it out by myself - I'm really bad at taking instruction (I hide when I am planning to try something new, because people _will_ explain and show me how to do things simply and easily).

Also, I've been planning for two years to reread War and Peace, and today I thought - all right, self, the TBR pile will _never_ clear up, and so I climbed onto the piano and took the first volume out of the shelf. ... my, but Tolstoy really does dislike women. Or, to be more precise, the only thing he seems to like women for is animal-type beauty - healthy youth. Then again, I don't know if he really likes _anybody_. But I am slow, I only came to Andrei's arrival - so we'll see (I read this first time at six, and last time... dunno, maybe 17?)

And I bought a tea strainer. I actually wanted to buy a smallish teapot, because I like tea mixes which nobody else in the family likes, so I wanted to be able to prepare them separately. But I could not find the perfect teapot, so I bought the strainer. And a tea mix I once liked in a giftbox and couldn't find by itself for a long time. And I wanted to buy some silly book for distraction but couldn't find any - but I found interesting postcards, a series with the portraits of Russian empresses, and another one combining an old photo and a new photo of various places in Saint Petersburg.

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taelle: (Default)
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