Thursday, December 18, 2008

Notes and Nigella

Okay, so this isn't the promise paean to JFW (as I'm now calling her, because we're clearly on a initial basis). Winter has visited its fury upon the Pacific Northwest and after a few days of cabin fevery, a frustrating day at work, and a two hour bus ride home, I'm a little too worn to do the task justice.

So how does a budding librarian shake off the cares and worries of the workaday world? By organizing her Documents folder and by reading Nigella Lawson cookbooks, of course!

My virtual and actual desktop both look rather similar at the end of a quarter/semester - covered with random copies of documents in various states of completion or usefulness and other detritus (for the actual desktop, this includes about 4 tea mugs and several empty gum packets). There's something soothing about tidying away your materials at the end of a project. You're replete with the smugness of completion and the knowledge that, should you choose, you never have to look at any of this ever again in your entire life. The hardest part of this program was realizing that my classmates would actually be looking at my work. My style as an undergrad was one of last minute flair and very little editing, so you can understand my apprehension. I gave myself plenty of time this quarter and while it all wasn't perfect, it was pretty damn good and I probably won't burst into tears when I take this all out again in three years for my portfolio.

I must admit that I am taken, every so often, to look back on old papers or assignments - I did this lately in order to show a friend what I thought an art history research paper looked like. I do this sort of archeological dig with my paper and online journals. It's a check to see how I'm growing and developing as a writer and as a human. While I appreciate my enthusiasm for the portraiture of John Singer Sargent in my Junior year, I wonder why it took three paragraphs to get to a thesis statement. The less said about my first research paper on Owen and Sassoon, the better (thought Craiglockhart is still one of my favorite words to say). My paper on L.E.L. and Felicia Hemans still sounds rather tight (even my bitchier sections on Greer and Armstrong still sound convincing). Will I feel this way about my discussion of context in IB? I've never really been concerened with readibility (at least for posterity - if it sounded okay when I was printing it and waiting to run it across campus, I went with it), so it's satisfying to see my prose coming together into something better. I have edited our more needless words (per Strunk and White) for LIS 510 than I have in my two previous degrees. Concision and clarity usually took a back seat to turns of phrase and enthusiasm. Yet, I'm still not sure if this is where I want my voice to go. We'll see.

How this ties back to Nigella Lawson? I could sit and read her cookbooks all day. Her prose is amusing, original, and frankly the next best thing to sitting down and eating something warm and freshly baked is reading about warm and freshly baked things (also, easier on the thighs). Her previous Christmas Specials (provided by an anonymous hero on Google Video) have provided background noise to a number of projects in the past few weeks. I love this woman. She's smart, she eats, she reads late at night with a snack at hand and seems rather happy, thank you. I was a little annoyed the other night (while reading in bed with a snack at hand) to see this rather dissapointing view of Nigella as a role model for women. Okay, she comes from the top of the Tories (this was a Torygraph poll afterall), her brother got her a sweet job, and she's married to an eccentric millionaire. She's not perfect and I don't think she really gives off that vibe - it's all quick because she's clumsy and lazy and would rather be off writing or reading a novel. She's suffered more loss than is fair and still manages to remain a powerful brand name. Stop hating.

And with that, I will retire with this cup of Lady Grey.

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