Archive for the ‘Chaucer’ Category

Up until last night, apparently I was just so completely exhausted that I don’t remember dreaming at all.  I don’t mind that.

Yesterday afternoon, when Joe got back to our hotel room, he brought a file box full of things he’d found in our guest room in the closet. Obviously I missed it when I was trying to get all of the personal papers out of there.  So I went through it last night and had a shredder party. One of the things in the box was a paper I’d written about Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, and it was a fine paper, too, I might add. (Pride compels me to admit that if I were writing that paper today, it would be much better.)

So in my dreams I was back at university, and there was a fire. No one believed me when I was trying to get people out of the building, and the exterior of the building looked just fine. Nonetheless, there was a fire.  And it destroyed a lot of things.

As I recount the dream, it sounds so, I don’t know, banal? But the dreaming was terrifying. Not fun. Not fun one little bit.


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It does appear as though the direction we’re taking is rebuilding the house. Joe was there yesterday evening with the adjusters and mooring company, and they’re going to be gutting the house either tomorrow or Monday. And instead of it taking 2-3 months, as they originally estimated, it’s now looking more like 4-5 months. In other words, we’ll be lucky to be home by Christmas.

Joe got my wedding ring out for me, as it had been left in my jewelry armoire that will have to be replaced. And he got SGB’s manuscript off my brand new dresser that will have to be replaced. Are you sensing a theme here? Yes, the furniture is going to have to go. Even the brand new stuff that we got last Saturday. Less than a week ago, it was, and yet it seems a lifetime.

On the positive side: the hotel is just 10 minutes from my office. I can only hope the apartment they put us into next will be as close. Another perk of being in the hotel: free breakfast. Someone else doing the linens and making the beds. Clean towels every day. That’s good, right? And we get to have the dogs with us. (Poor babies–they’re so discombobulated they don’t know what to make of things. And how do you explain it to them? I’ve tried, but you know, they’re dogs, probably not understanding anything I say.)

Other positives: I get to go buy new clothes. And shoes. And at least one more handbag. My house on the inside will be all new. I get to buy new furniture. Yes, I’ve already started looking. (Hey! Stop laughing! Yeah, it may be 4 or 5 months until I get to go buy that new furniture, but if I start looking now, I’ll have a good idea what I want and where to find it when the time comes.) And new makeup. Sephora, here I come! And a new piano.

It’s just that when you try to sit down and think of everything that you’ve lost, it can be very overwhelming. I was making lists yesterday, and they only covered the bare minimum of what was in any given room. All my junk jewelry–cheaper to replace than to try to clean. The 3 or 4 fascinators I never got to wear–will the smoke smell ever come out of them? A basketful of scarves. My books. Notes from my Shakespeare & Chaucer classes (just in case I ever decide to teach English). Journals. Blank books. Note cards, stationery, books where I’ve scribbled down favourite recipes. Cookbooks. Beautiful leather-bound very expensive books about the Crusades and various medieval writers. All my numerous copies of The Canterbury Tales. Notes from my Dante class. My grandmother’s journals (which I devoutly hope are in our storage unit but I’m afraid they might not be). Photographs. Holiday decorations. Mostly things that others would attach no value to, but to me are priceless. The clothes that I was planning to pass along to the incomparable Izzybella or Sarah-bear. The clothes I’ve been saving as I’m on my journey to smaller sizes.  All my beautiful shoes–the cream brocade grannie boots, the black lace guess do-me heels, my bitch boots, all the wedges and heels I’ve been purchasing over the last 6 months or so. And my handbags–most of them comparatively inexpensive, but still hard to replace.

Heck, even my bathroom scale! I don’t know how I’m doing weight-wise, because I haven’t been able to weigh myself since last Sunday morning! I know I’ve been doing some stress eating, but compared to what it would have been pre-banding, it’s absolutely nothing. But I like seeing the numbers on the scale every day. It keeps me focused.

The ugliest bridesmaid dress ever, that I was going to take to the cleaners and then sell on e-bay. Now I guess I’ll just stomp on it and let it be thrown away. The most beautiful formal that Izzybella got some years ago, and that I swore I would someday wear. The baby christening gown and blanket made by my grandmother years ago, that I was planning to pass down to my niece when she’s old enough to have children, that my stepsister’s daughter was blessed in, that Izzybella was blessed in. That I won’t throw away, of course. I will make every effort to have it restored because that, too, is priceless.

And the most treasured things of all are the memories. Memories of Molly, when we first brought her home, with her adorable afro, lying on the floor doing the Molly Flop. Stan gnawing my shoe that was bigger than he was. Molly burying full bags of Joe’s Christmas candy in the back yard. Chase putting on Joe’s heavy gloves and heading for the fireplace, startled when he was stopped, and explained, “I Joe!” Chase seeing me pour out the dregs of a milk carton for his brother, and started bellowing, “Milk! Milk!” and not calming down until he saw me take a full milk carton out of the refrigerator. Alannah and Kyle climbing the tree in our back yard. Chase wandering around nakey after his baby pool-soaked diaper fell off. Christmas Eves with Ben & Janine and their kids. Clover coming to give me a shot in the butt when I was doing IVF trying to have kids. Danny and I, staying up all night after watching Blair Witch Project because we were too spooked to turn the lights off. Crying my heart out in the long days after the IVF failed. Molly peeing on an area rug right after we told Joe’s friends from Australia that she was a good dog and never tinkled in the house. Christmas after Christmas after Christmas. Joe making huge pots of mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner. Joe making huge pots of mashed potatoes for the two of us, and danged if we didn’t manage to eat every bite. Molly being incensed at Mom’s being allowed in the then-yellow room, when she wasn’t, and defiantly going in there to tinkle the day Mom left. The bathroom door constantly coming out of its hinges. That Christmas morning when I sent Molly in to wake up Izzybella, and she enthusiastically complied, jumping onto Izzy’s stomach and kissing her face. The day I drop-kicked a multi-pack of Wolf chili because I was in a snit, and dang near broke my toe. Joe playing guitar so loudly that I could hear it from the inside of my car as I pulled into the driveway. MoMeNTuM meetings. Jehara bringing me my beautiful awesome wonderful zen box that’s now smoked out. Dancing in the living room with Joe. Dancing in the living room with Molly. Having Molly join me when I was practicing yoga in the living room. Spending three months sleeping on the recliner in the living room after having had knee replacement surgery. Laughter, tears, arguments, hugs, kisses, joy, sorrow–the soon-to-be-torn-down walls of our home are replete with the emotions and events from the past 13 years. Those things can’t be replaced. But the new walls will be erected, and in 13 years, we’ll have 13 years worth of memories to look back on.

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Did you ever wonder what a literary work would be like if it had been written by another author? For example, suppose that Margaret Mitchell had written Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Perhaps it might read something like this:

The small round man, his whiskers quivering around his pointed ratlike nose, whimpered, “My lord, I don’t know nothin’ ’bout killin’ no more people.”

Voldemort slapped Wormtail hard across his face. “You worthless servant!” he hissed angrily.

Okay, so that’s a pretty lame example. But if you knew how zombified I am this morning after last night’s first dose of the new meds, you’d be pretty impressed, trust me.  The point of this is that a group of amazingly creative people asked themselves the same question. No, not what GOF would be like had Margaret Mitchell written it! Silly! They wondered what Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy would be like if someone else had written it.

Frankly, I think it might have been a lot more readable had someone else written it, seeing as how I haven’t managed yet to wade through the whole book. Of course, it could have been much worse. I mean, what if Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins had written it!  But I digress.

As I was reading the thread, and laughing so hard I snorted a few times, I came across the following gem. I immediately e-mailed the author requesting permission to post it here, and he graciously consented. So with no further ado, here is LOTR a la Geoffrey Chaucer, courtesy of rjk:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
Old Hobbiton hath perced to the roote,
And Frodo drinken down in swich licour
Of which vertu he passeth happy hour;
Whan Gandalphus eek with his wise voice
Inspired hath in Frodo’s heart a choice,
(so priketh him nature in his corages);
To join odd folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And travel far to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from this homely shire’s ende
To Mordor, evil’s keep, to wende
To cast into the fire this One great Ring

— Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Ring

Feeling creative? Leave a comment with your version of LOTR (or any other book) in the voice of another author. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Doo’n Doo-doo Feelin’ Puny

Hello, computer, whatcha knowin’?
Can you see my sore throat glowin’?
Got a ragin’ earache today
Doo-n Doo-doo,
Feelin’ Puny

Okay, okay, I’ll quit. But it’s true. I’m feelin’ puny today. That’s what my Monster calls it. Feelin’ puny. I was feelin’ puny yesterday, but I feel punier today. The earache, see. It started last night, and the sore throat’s a little worse today. I’m a whiny brat today. Aren’t you glad you’re not here? But whenever someone wanders in my office and says, “Faith! How ya doin’?” I perk right up and say, “Great! How you doin’?” all nice-like. I’m only a whiny brat with my friends and family. Don’t you feel privileged?

So I’m going to the doctor to get it checked out. I’m prone to upper respiratory infections, and I really don’t have time to be sick. But if I’m going to be sick, I need to get it out of the way before February 19th. Hence the doctor visit. When I called this morning, he had exactly one appointment left. 10:45. That works. I’m hoping that he’ll tell me that I need to go straight home and get in bed and get plenty of rest and liquids. Of course, that never happens when I want it to. It only happens when I’m so sick that it’s patently obvious that I need to be in bed getting plenty of rest and liquids. Never when I just want to be lazy and read a lot.

Changing subject now.

Yesterday I was reading Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog (linky goodness to the right). From there you can find more linky goodness to all kinds of cool tee-shirts and stuff. I found a tee-shirt that I would buy if I could get it in black. Well, okay, I could get it in black, but then no one could read the words, because the words are black, so what would be the damn point, right? So I stole the idea, and made myself a sign that is now hanging on the wall in my office. It says, with a picture of Chaucer astride a gallant steed, “Chaucer is more awesome than pirates, ninjas, and zombies combined.” It’s true, too!

I mean, have you ever read the Miller’s Tale? I was telling it to my husband one day. He’s never read Chaucer, but he highly respects my passion for Chaucer. So I told him all about the carpenter who is asleep in a tub hanging from the attic rafters as he piously and patiently awaits the second flood that his boarder Nicholas had convinced him was on its way. Meanwhile Nicholas and the carpenter’s much younger wife Alisoun had snuck down to the bedroom and were getting it on. Then along comes Absolon, Alisoun’s would-be paramour, who stands outside the window and begs for a kiss. For a prank, Alisoun sticks her arse out the window and he kisses her nether lips, stopping only when he realizes that no woman has a beard. And she and Nicholas laugh about it before they get jiggy with it some more. Absolon’s love turns instantly to deep hatred. He goes and gets a red-hot poker, vowing revenge. He comes back, asking sweetly for one more kiss. Nicholas had gotten up to piss, so this time he sticks his arse out the window and farts so loudly in Absolon’s face that he nearly blinds the poor guy. Absolon brands his arse with the red-hot poker; Nicholas screams loudly for water; the carpenter, hearing the cries of water, thinks the flood has come and cuts his tub loose, falls down from the rafters, breaking his arm, and all is chaos and panic in the carpenter’s house. It’s a disgusting fart joke combined with the cuckolding of an innocent pious respectable man by his much younger wife and their wily boarder. (I personally find this one hilarious, given my love of a good fart joke, but that’s just me.)

There’s one tale even more disgusting than that one, the carpenter’s tale, as he’s trying to get back at the miller. But they’re not all vile. The Wife of Bath’s tale is great. The Clerk’s tale is as annoying as hell. The Pardoner’s tale is decent, but his prologue is far more revealing than his tale. The Prioress’s Tale is a frightfully anti-Semitic tale that would make you want to barf.

What I love about Chaucer is that through the general prologue and through the prologues to the separate tales he made these people real. You can believe the tales they tell because the people who tell them are believable. He created great characters to tell time-worn tales. The tales themselves aren’t the story of the Canterbury Tales. It is, rather, the characters who tell them. They are the story.

It is the snowy shepherd in the form of the parson, and his brother, the poor humble but pure ploughman who fascinate me. It is the vile pardoner and the equally despicable summoner who make me want to vomit even as I want to know them better. Geoffrey Chaucer, in a few short lines, sketched them so well that I would know them wherever I saw them. I could write about them myself, for I know them.

Chaucer. More awesome than pirates, ninjas, and zombies combined. Amen, brudda, amen!

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Me and My Muse

My muse has a wicked sense of humor. As I write this, I’m sure she is perched on my shoulder, laughing hysterically.

I was sitting here, mindlessly doing my work, and she whispered the BEST idea for a book into my ear. I froze, feeling my mind race with possibilities. I swore, because I’m really busy today and will have no time whatsoever to do any writing. And then I have a dentist appointment where I will get two temporary crowns. I’m not sure if I’ll feel like doing any writing this evening or not. Depends a lot on how sore my jaw is. So I very carefully wrote three words on my calendar, hoping it will be enough to keep the idea fresh in my mind, and kept pulling credit bureau reports.

She laughed wickedly.

I typed into the computer. A few details came to mind. I can’t lose them. I scribbled seven more words onto my calendar.

I pulled a few more credit bureau reports, while my muse rubbed her hands together with glee. More ideas came. I scribbled 16 more words onto my calendar, and told my muse to shut up. I’ve got a lot of work to do today, and while I’m incredibly grateful for her gifts, her timing sucks to hell and back.

Okay, so the fall is a really busy time for my business, and we had major queue changes this month. But things should start slowing down for me at work, and I should really start having time to write. So I’m going to start writing on this at home, and hope like mad that I get time to start writing at work again. Because, really, that’s the only reason I took this job.

Oh, and I’m not going to talk much about my new idea, other than to tell you that it’s brilliant. Because the more I talk about the ideas, the less I write them. I will tell you only that it relates to my passion, my obsession. Chaucer. And it’s brilliant, and it will become a best-seller, and I will make lots of nice, wonderful money, and I won’t have to slave as a poor administrative assistant.

Hey! Stop sniggering! I can dream if I want to!

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