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Dear friends,

One of the marvels of the yearly calendar (a two semester system with summer school divided into three time frames) is that each year spring semester does not begin until the 3rd week of January. How the administration pulls this off I've never quite been able to figure out.  For we are often finished the first week of May (like most other colleges). And then even if I'm teaching summer school (I usually  chose the second or B time framework) I have a full month off and don't begin until the first week of June.

Blissful time. Maybe the reward of enduring all the phony talk about Christmas is when the "height" of this ritual is on (the days we are not supposed to post to the Net or post about anything but "the holiday" "happy" time) is that when December 27th comes along, many people quietly take off a week from work.  They get precious time to themselves.

I haven't been talking about Aspergers lately.  Well, I don't want to go on about it.  Readers of this blog may remember that I wrote about how a number of the salient traits of my character belongs to the Aspergers paradigm, how much this explains about my present situation and past to me and I talked of my family as well as listserv community groups:  one very disappointing, Women with Aspergers, and the other Aspergers Adults of DC, a group whose whole mission is to be more like neurotypicals, do the things NTs do, assimilate, integrate, and do a good deal of defending of NT social life, Now I'll add I've noticed that the Aspergers and autistic blogs are more truthful than most when it comes to the experience of these holidays. And they have been a help getting through. See Aspergers Diary, Letter to the Lonely. An intelligent member of my WomenWriters through the Ages group (at Yahoo) sent this poem in too:

The Bad Thing
John Wain

Sometimes just being alone seems the bad thing
Solitude can swell until it blocks the sun,
It hurts so much, even fear, even worrying
Over the past and future, get stifled. It has won,
You think; this is the bad thing, it is here.
Then sense comes; you go to sleep, or have
Some food, write a letter or work, get something clear.
Solitude shrinks; you are not at all its slave.

He wrote a profound biography of Samuel Johnson's life, perhaps still one of the best.

So, the weeks of December and January are part of my times off each year, and all is good with us just now. Yvette doing well at her job; she likes it and she is gathering all these cards she needs to open and close doors, to get into her computer, to get on the bus.  She has begun a bunch of learning courses. (We learn at work what we need to know to apply our so-called trained skills and credentials.)  She went to lunch with her supervisor; she looks so pretty going out, sometimes Jane Eyrish, other times a lovely librarian looking person (in teak blues). 


Here she is Christmas eve. She is sitting at her desk, listening to music and watching ice-skating. You can jus make out Clary our cat's head by her head.

The admiral has been shopping, going to the gym, online, playing with kittens. I see Caroline knitting, watching TV, visiting or visited by a couple of friends and Rob's family, writing her blogs.  Alas no photos. Maybe next year.

Me I'm doing reading towards reviews and papers. Walking, gym, pool, movies at night when I can and I've started or found a new love: Anne Grant's Letters from the Mountain (which Jane Austen also loved)..  Evening good dinners and talk; then NPR music, and then sleep mostly for Yvette and the Admiral and I watch DemocracyNow.org and episodes of costume dramas from PBS and better channels.

I had told myself I would dedicate this blog to life-writing, autobiography, seasonal reveries, but (as I knew to be true) I find that much of my life is spent reading, studying, writing, and nowadays watching films too, the matter of this blog. It was to be distinguished from my two other blogs, one of which, Reveries under the Sign of Austen, Two, would be dedicated to Austen, her era and followers (which means really much women's literature) and the other, Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, Two, everything else: this though by habit also is my blog for conferences, and that means the 18th century mostly.  Further, as my impulse in study is rooted in my personal vocation and life, it does not seem to me I can distinguish them as I hoped. I keep bringing self in in the other two blogs.

For example, yesterday and today, I spent much of the day reading the last 3/4s of The Mysteries of Udolpho and I really did like it once again (this must be the fourth time through, not counting once trying to compare it to the French translation by Madame de Chastenay).  Last night we listened to NPR and I read Julia Kavanagh's redaction of Radcliffe's books -- wonderful (in her English Woman of Letters). Meanwhile, the Admiral downloaded itunes onto my computer and put the first songs on to my new ipod and showed me what he did and I tried to listen to music on my ipod and succeeded.

And now I'm turning to my Christmas present, the complete Prime Suspect, all seven or eight seasons, with my favorite Helen Mirren. I loved Season 4 because I was much taken with Jane Tennison's love affair and companionship with Stuart Wilson as Dr Patrick Schofield. But I've been writing about Prime Suspect on Ellen and Jim, Two, because I do films there.  But here I'll say I have just bonded with Mirren as Jane Tennison totally as I once bonded with Radcliffe's Emily and Adeline, still bond with Austen's Elinor, and am now beginning to bond with Anne Grant. Who's see (see Foremother poet, Anne Grant).



So immediately I've discovered there was an episode between Lost Child (where Mirren as Tennison met Wilson as Schofield) and full-blown love affair in Scent of Darkness: Inner Circle. And then another story between that and the penultimate story when Schofield and Tennison break up. The woman detectives have developing consistent narratives for their lives (the men often do not).

*********************
12/28:

Well I just loved Prime Suspect, Inner Circle and will re-watch and write a blog. For now here's a passage from Anne Grant who I read early this morning -- before dawn.

To her congenial friend, Harriet, then living in Glasgow, May 1, 1773:

   "I arrived here last night [Oban, Highlands, Scotland], but dreadfully tired;­ tired of rain; tired of riding; tired of long moors, but, above all, of long descriptions. See my letter to Isa­bella,· where you will find how I came through the Mona Lia. Oh! never was moor so long and so soli­tary.

You will say my active imagination might people the brown desert; so it did, but it was with fleeting spectres, and half-seen visions, melting into grey mist. Apropos to our ducklings, you cannot think how my spirit was refreshed by a flock of wild ones, that took flight from a small lake in that same dreary moor. I saw, or thought I saw, two or three deer through the mist, and that did me a great deal of good. Still more, I was supported by a benevolent
project for the refor­mation of some of our friends; I mean such of them as do, or say, no great harm, but who so bewilder their brains and waste their time among endless mazes of ribands and lace, and tattle and tales, and "pribbles and prabbles," as honest Parson Evans calls them, that, I am convinced some solitary pilgrimages over the brown desert might wean them from this endless trifl­ing, and teach them first to think, and then "on reason build resolve," which might be found " a column of true dignity," even in woman. But I will no longer bewilder you among my meditations. The general result, however, was, that we should be oftener alone. I am sure I have little merit to claim from superior recllection or culture. Could I have indulged myself in the society of others of my age, I should, most probably have done as they did. Had I been educated like"other people, I should not have felt the necessity of educating myself.

If, therefore, my thinking and reading have been of advantage, they are merely the result of certain and discouraging privations. If others were like me, or exiled, as I am about to be, from was wont to please, they would be forced to seek resources within themselves. This, too, might be a cure for vanity. I can easily suppose recluses proud, but it is among frivolous society that people grow vain. We are roud of what we certainly possess; but vanity only seeks credit for seeming, and is just as well satisfied to be admired for rouge as for native bloom. It lives in the breath of others, and dies when it is no longer seen."

Well that's enough. It's in such passages that I originally was able to see myself and circumstances later enabled or led me (exclusion deprivation, what you want to call it is part of it) to stay with this literary era and its genres for life."

12/28/11 at 8:00. I spent the day reading Nussbaum's Rival Queens, interpersed with articles that followed up on her assertions, epilogues for actresses to recite on stage and 18th century biographies and memoirs of actresses (skimming); also some essays on the subject of theater; I interrupted myself by looking at pictures alluded to by Nussbaum and occasionally reading postings and messages online (at listservs, facebook, twitter). Then I turned to the Cambridge Edition of the Later Ms's of Austen and read two poems attributed to Austen I'd never read before.  Todd and Bree's introduction was interesting; new material I've never seen before. Transcriptions of Austen's ms's are ahead of me. It was enormous fun and more to come!


Lovely cover

12/30 at 1:50 am: sometimes I am so very very sad I don't know how I manage to endure life.
Life-writing,
Sylvia

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