Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Lady of Shallot

I have to be honest. I'm not a huge fan of poetry. Never have been. Sometimes, it just seems like too much work for the benefits. And I feel stupid reading poetry. Words that don't make any sense....why wasn't my time?

Then I read Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shallot...and everything changed. Since The Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge started, I thought this would be a good time to talk about it. I mean, this is a Fantasy poem about Camelot, Sir Lancelot, and an evil curse?? Sounds like it fits the OUaT bill to a tee!

Originally written in 1833, The Lady of Shallot has been depicted in many paintings (a few pictures I've added here), song, and verse. It is an incredibly beautiful poem, and if you haven't read it, DO IT. Take the word of someone that really dislikes poetry. It's worth the time. Fair maiden cursed forever to never be able to see the world, except through a mirror, spends her time weaving a magical web. Until she sees the beautiful knight, Sir Lancelot....and risks the curse to glance at him. Unfortunately for her, she can't escape the curse, even for Lancelot. It's actually incredibly sad to think that she risked everything for love....a love that was never returned. In fact, Lancelot never even had a chance to meet the Lady of Shallot.

"There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with color gay
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay to look down on Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath, she
The Lady of Shallot."

Then she sees Lancelot:

"His broad clear bow in sunlight glowed;
On burnished hooves his war horse trode,
From underneath his helmet flowed
His coal-black curls as on he rode, as he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror
"Tirra Lirra", by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left her web, she left the loom,
She made Three paces through the room,
She saw the water lily bloom
She saw the helmet and the plume, She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide,
The mirror cracked from side to side,
"The Curse is come upon me," cried, The Lady of Shallot."

Arthurian literature has always been something that has intrigued me. And after reading this wonderful poem, I know that I have to read more. This lovely poem made me cry the first time I read it. It brought on deep emotions, and I can see how it has stirred many an artist. The last picture, I found on the internet is a Steam-punk Version/rendition of The Lady of Shallot. So Cool. And if you have a few minutes, please listen to the Lorenna McKinnet video I posted at the end. She adapted this poem to music, and it is truly beautiful. It makes my heart ache.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Once Upon a Time....Again

Every once in a while you stumble across something out there in the great big blogosphere that changes you. Sometimes this something is little, like a new book that will take your breath away. Sometimes, it's less tangible, like a feeling that you get when you read a post that fires up your sensibilities. And sometimes, it's meeting a new person that you have so much in common with, it's like you've known them all your life. For me, when I stumbled across The First Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge, all of these things happened. This challenge literally changed my life. I had just begun blogging, and Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings hosted the first challenge. The month before I had read American Gods by Neil Gaiman....a book that literally did take my breath away. A few people had commented on my review, Carl being one of them. He told me about this challenge and suggested some more books that I might like. In that moment, one little comment literally changed the way I read forever. A relatively new reader of fantasy, I had little experience with authors in the genre. Hell, I had little experience with the genre as a whole. But once I joined the challenge, I found a whole new world out there. And in that world were people that definitely knew their way around. Those people acted as guides to me, showing me books and authors that I would grow to love. Short stories that excited me. And graphic novels that would rock my world. For this I am forever in your debt. Carl, Chris, Nymeth, Debi, and guys have led me down a path that has taken me to worlds and places I will never forget. And for that I thank all of you!! Your friendship and reading guideance has meant the world to me.

So....with my blogging "break" (if you can call it that) officially over, I find it incredibly ironic that it coincides with the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge V! There is NO WAY I would miss this challenge, even though I will be finishing up my first semester back! I can't guarantee that I will be able to complete the challenge. But that doesn't matter to me. What matters is that I do read some books, write some reviews, and follow along with everyone else. I definitely plan on trying to do the Short Story Challenge. And the movie Challenge. When the dust clears and the challenge is over, we will just see how far I make this year. I'm just happy to be back and be able to add my name to the little Mr. Linky....and hopefully transport myself to a few new worlds this year.

I don't have an exact list. And since money is EXTREMELY tight, I probably won't be able to buy anything new. But I have some books on my shelf that will definitely fit the bill....and maybe I'll even take a few out of the library to fill in the gaps. My reading list, while not complete, may include a few of the following:

  • Stories: All New Tales Edited by Neil Gaiman
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  • A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
  • Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
  • The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson Book 3) by Rick Riordan
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Matched by Ally Condie
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
  • The Eternal Ones by Kristin Miller
  • Graveminder by Melissa Marr
  • Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  • His Magesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  • Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint
  • From a Whisper to a Scream by Charles de Lint

And these are just the books I have on my shelves. I will do my best to pick a few good ones. Any suggestions??

Once again, I just want to thank Carl. You might not realize how important you are to the blogging community. But you are. And I, for one, appreciate all the effort you put into your challenges. You are a good friend and I just want to say thank you!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break

Well, I knew going back to school was going to be hard. I just didn't realize HOW hard!! When I had classes before, I found the time to squeeze in a social life as well as studies. But now I have 3 kids, a husband, a part-time job and a household to run. It might have been a bit naive to think that I could handle 15 hours of class as well. BUT, I can honestly say I have never been happier! I may be sleep deprived and a bit mentally unstable some days, but I am doing well. Midterm grades are in and I'm carry 3 A's and 2 B's. I spent 13 years at Cat, locked in a cubicle and working for "the man". I loathed going to work. Especially the last 7 years. That is way too long to hate what you are doing. The Red Cross started out well. I liked the idea of working for an organization that helped people. Problem was, said organization was even more political than Cat. Who would have thought? And when push came to shove, being smarter and more educated than your supervisor is NOT a good thing. Some people just can't get over it. I know that sounds kind of arrogant. Not something I would generally say. But it was true, and when I tried to put in for a job that was a higher salary grade than my manager (even though it was in a different division), it was made pretty clear that I should learn my place. Unfortunately, that kind of thing doesn't fly with me....and I'm pretty sure it was the main reason for untimely layoff. Of course, it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it gave me a chance to reevaluate where I was heading. It got me back to school. In a place where I am most comfortable. In higher learning. Sitting in a room with others, learning new concepts and ideas....discussing literature and history. Learning teaching techniques and child psychology. THIS is where I was meant to be. Even though the market for teachers is horrible right now (and Mike thinks I'm making a huge mistake), this is where I need to be. I'm happy. I enjoy getting out of bed in the morning and going off to class. I figure if I can't stay a student all my life, then I can become a teacher and spend the rest of my days in a classroom. Hopefully, it will all work out.

A few of the drawbacks include a lot of travel time (with gas prices going up this sucks) and a severe tightening of the budget. My lack of full-time income is going to be a tough one for awhile. I'm still working part time, but as anyone in retail or restaurants know, business is SLOW. It's been really hard trying to make ends meet, and it doesn't look like it's going to get better any time soon. I am going to do my best to finish as quickly as I can, but if push comes to shove and I have to get a full-time job again, I'm still going to finish. I have to do this for me. I'm going to do one more semester at the JC, before I transfer to ISU. It's closer and cheaper. I even have my classes picked out for next semester.....including Intro to Special Ed, Humanities, Sociology, Educational Psych, and Sexism in History. Once finished, I will transfer to ISU to get a degree in Secondary Education (I will have at least an endorsement in English, if not a degree....although lately, I have been contemplating History as well). One day at a time......

I have done a lot of reading lately, although mostly for class. In the last couple of months, I have finished Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, tons of short stories, Beautiful Creatures, Wither, Infinite Days, Nightshade, The Sea of Monsters, a re-read of The Hunger Games, and Full Dark, No Stars. I just got some books from William Morrow that look amazing....and I'm going to start dropping some reviews. It's time I got back into the reason I started blogging in the first place. Don't give up on me yet. I'll find the time.

Spring Break has come and almost gone. I have spent most of it cleaning. My house was a disaster, and although not completely done, it's starting to look like a home again. And, drum roll please....I have lost almost 30 lbs! I'd love to say it's healthy eating and exercise. But it started out as stress and a general loss of appetite. A lot of it was due to the pain from my back, neck, hips and joints. The pain meds took away a lot of my desire for food. But once I realized how much better I felt, I really kicked it up a notch. Now, I'm down 3 pant sizes and I am starting to feel great, pain aside. I'm working through most of it with some therapy and starting next week, acupuncture. Still taking way too many pain meds, but I'm hoping to start decreasing those soon. Included a picture of me and my babies (aren't they getting big?? sob!)

So...I guess this is just one big post about how life is tough and a struggle and painful....and yet, I'm happier than I have been in years. Book reviews to start POURING out this week. Come back and see me!! Love you all!