Category Archives: Self


I have made myself a book. More correctly, a journal.

"I desire to press into my arms a loveliness that has not yet come into this world."

On the cover, my current favorite quote. I got the typewriter in my hall to work long enough to, literally, bang it out.  “I desire to press into my arms a loveliness that has not yet come into this world.”  How beautiful is that?  It stops me every time I read it.  In the last few days of the term, I re-read and re-read the final scene from Portrait. So much of that feel like my life right now.

Stephen’s fears, his desires, all feel so familiar.  Well, his fears about God and his desire to write.  He tells Cranly “what he does not fear.”  — That is exactly what I fear.  Being alone.  More than that, I fear mistakes.

I’ve written about this before, and recently, but it’s just what’s been on my mind.  Portrait and Persuasion.  Granted, these are the two books I have been reading/referencing most frequently.  But they feel particularly apt.  In six years, I will be Anne’s age.  Though I am  past Stephen’s, I feel I am right in his mental space.  I always wonder how and why books worm their way into my life.  These two most certainly. have.

I have been thinking a lot about this quote from Persuasion:

…there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.

How sad, to be perpetually estranged.  And yet, how much I feel it, even in — actually, especially in — my own home.  I feel like I am a stranger to those around me, and even to myself.  Strange to those who once knew me intimately, who I trusted beyond belief, who I let know me.  Now, I’m not even sure I know me.  I feel so far away from acquaintance, so far away from most things formerly familiar, that I don’t even know what to do with myself.



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Filed under Jane Austen, Joyce, Persuasion, Portrait of the Artist, Self, Stephen Dedalus

A Dog’s Thoughts on Persuasion

Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up. The belief of being prudent, and self-denying, principally for his advantage, was her chief consolation, under the misery of a parting, a final parting; and every consolation was required, for she had to encounter all the additional pain of opinions, on his side, totally unconvinced and unbending, and of his feeling himself ill used by so forced a relinquishment. He had left the country in consequence.

Persuasion, Chapter 4
Jane Austen

This evening, my dog and I started listening to Persuasion.  He seemed to like it — he fell asleep on the bed.  I sat and listened and cross-stitched to my heart’s content.  I forgot both how much I love this book, and how much I enjoy this craft.

First — Anne Elliot, I think life will be ok if my life (at 27) somehow reconciles itself as yours does.  It’s been a few years since I read Persuasion, so I forgot how absent Anne is from the first three chapters (indicative of her family’s treatment of her) and how subtly Wentworth is introduced.  Perhaps books like this shouldn’t give me an odd kind of hope, but they do.  Strangely enough, I’ve realized that somewhere I both internalized and rejected the idea that if you aren’t betrothed by nineteen, you’re an old maid.

A stitch in time

Second — I’ve never completed a perfect cross-stitch.  I mess something up, inevitably.  I miscount. I skip a stitch. I get so impatient that I can’t finish.  Now, I’ve got 5 kits lying around my room, waiting to be completed and sewn into a pillowcase.  I’m having a need to make pillowcases.  Pillowcases and quilts.  I wouldn’t begin to have enough beds for the pillowcases and quilts I want to make.

Anyways, I paused at chapter 4 to get a drink, and because I was struck by Anne’s recollection of Wentworth.  So simple. So straightforward.  So much like how I’ve felt so often in my life.  Before I started chapter 5, I realized my dog had wandered off.  I called him: “Bungee! Come back! We have more of Persuasion to listen to!”  In he trotted and waited to be lifted onto the bed.  Once he got settled, paws tucked underneath him, we began.

(The recording I’m listening to can be found here. It’s extremely enjoyable.)

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Filed under Crafts, cross-stitching, Jane Austen, Persuasion, Self

More Cranly, More Stephen, Introducing Georgie

“I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too.”

Stephen says this to Cranly, after saying that he fears both that the Eucharist may actually be the body and the blood, just as he also fears that it might not be. This list is what he does not fear.

I want to be this fearless. I wish my fears did not revolve around being left, abandoned, being alone. Around being forgotten or disregarded. If I were to write a surrogate character for myself, which I have tried many times to create using the model of Stephan, she would not be able to make any statement such as this. Georgie would say

I do not fear the capacity of my own heart, to love and to care, and to break so often that it swells with scars.  I am not afraid to feel from now until the end of time.  However I do fear that these feelings might kill me.

How did he create Stephen so successfully? I want to have my own Stephen, because I feel like these things seem less trite coming from her mouth.  Or at least, I am unafraid of expressing such things if the name of the speaker is not my own.

I want to write a play in which James Joyce is a character, a sort of mentoring figment of the main character’s imagination.  She’s having a crisis of faith.  Because all I write about is Catholicism, James Joyce, and Japanese Internment Camps.  That last one doesn’t haven’t have a place in this play.  Of course, all I can think about is writing other things, rather than the actual assignments I need to complete.  Stephan Dedalus, why are you only a literary character?  I feel like we would be rather good friends…


Filed under Joyce, Self, Stephen Dedalus, Writing