ECE 385-01 Documents

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Reading Refuge

I’m not really as into this book as I was with The Liars’ Club, but I think it’s better for me than Running in the Family. I’ve been talking a lot lately about the use of explicit detail, or unique writing structure in our readings, but today I’ll respond to a little quote by Williams that cought me up:

The starlings gorge themselves, bumping into each other like drunks. They are not discretionary. They’ll eat anything, just like us. Three starlings picked a turkey carcass clean. Afterward, they crawled inside and wore it as a helmet. A carcass with six legs walking around-you have to be sharp counting birds at the dump. (2001, p. 55)

I think I may have actually laughed out loud reading this… Her personification of the birds, and the way she said “wore it as a helmet” instead of something like “it looked like a helmet on them.” I just love that quote “…you have to be sharp counting birds at the dump.” It brought in humor and sarcasm that lifted the mood off her mom’s cancer and the descriptions of the nasty landfill.

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Eng251 Post… Sorry I’m late yall

It’s not an easy task to get your turnout gear on in under a minute. We had to do this to pass our SSO (Scene Support Operations) class, and I knew I would either finish before all the guys, or come in dead last. You are fighting to get all your safety apparel on in a small amount of time, so if you mess up you have to redo it before you get anywhere near a fire, and have wasted time getting to the fire, or you risk being unprepared and getting injured anyway.
First you have to make sure your boots have been put in your pants so that the pants are rolled down and you can pick up all three pieces by the top handles of the boots. When the time starts, you step into the boots, and then pull the pants up your legs and the suspenders over your shoulders (you better hope nobody wore those bunker pants before you, because it was probably a really fat guy and the suspenders are near-impossible to tighten). All three buttons up the crotch have to be closed, and then a flap gets hooked across your waste – don’t even think about skipping this step because if you have a good instructor he’ll life up your jacket to check the flap on your pants. Next you get your hood on, it covers your head, ears, and neck, and anything else your helmet misses in that general vicinity. You have to put your jacket on before your gloves, because there’s about ten buttons down the inside and ten hook clasps down the outside that you need your fingers to do right- and don’t you think he won’t push that flap aside to make sure the buttons are all snapped.
You’re almost done when you put your helmet on. After you hook that strap and flip down your secondary eye shield, all you need is to slide on your gloves and you’re finished. Well that’s where my problem comes in. I might have everything on up until the helmet, and everyone else is still buttoning his pants, but this helmet is going to give me hell. You have to understand that this gear was built for a man: there are six inches between the tip of my toes and the end of the boots, the suspenders have been tightened as small as they go and they still slide down my right shoulder, the jacket goes down to my knees and the sleeves hang well past my hands. All the guys in SSO have short hair, even the one girl from Old Kill has a caeser, but I include her as one of the guys because she has no features that distinguish her from them, right down to her deep voice. Well if you know me, you may have noticed my hair is about four feet long. In the summer, when we took SSO, it was hot enough that I had to wear my hair up every day. No matter how hard I tried, there was no way to get that helmet on over my hair. Our mean instructor Carl said I’d have to cut it off if I was gonna do this seriously. I laughed in his face. I knew there would be a way to get around this – just like there was a way to get around me lifting the dead weight of a 6’1” man off the ground by myself a week earlier. So, I started coming to class every night with my hair in braids. By doing this my head was pretty much flat all around, and I could put the hood over them and hide them completely. It worked great until my cousin pointed out that there was no way to do this for real fire calls, since as a volunteer they can be at any time of the day or week – but my instructor didn’t hear that.
I’ve never had to put on turnout gear since I finished SSO. I’ve only responded to two scenes, and as a probie they didn’t buy anything that fits me, so I just directed traffic at one, and straightened out hoses at the other. It’s clear though, that no matter how out of shape or incompetent the old men I volunteer with are, I’ll always be singled out for my faults because I’m the girl.

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Oh my g-d, I came back to my apartment from being away for the weekend to an infestation of big black ants. They are showing up everywhere in my white and khaki apartment. If anyone knows me, you know that nothing scares me more than worms and certain bodily secretions/sounds… and ants are right up there with worms (and all other insects, etc.).
Let me shed some light on this for you people that don’t know me so well. When I went to Ithaca, they had beautiful gardens and lawns lining every cement sidewalk. Well when it rained, somehow the worms were flooded from the ground and would cover every sidewalk like a plague. If you know western New York, you know it rains like Ireland. When it rained I could not go to class, because the thought of stepping on a single one of those worms actually made me cower in my apartment and/or gag.
At least I have grown past cowering, now I can kill bugs without being hysterical in fear. But let me tell you, these little fuckers are fast- and they even climb the ceilings. I am going to go to Price Chopper first thing in the morning to buy the most expensive traps and pesticides that exist: all you naturalists can shove it because I am going to use every chemical possible to get rid of these things… I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight knowing these things are lerking in the dark.

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Almost forgot…

Sorry classmates, I almost forgot a Running in The Family reading blog post! (Maybe it’s because Ondaatje’s writing is so wierd to me…)

Anyway, I wanted to draw some of your attention to an excerpt from page 122.

Property was there to be taken or given away… All her life she had given away everything she owned to whoever wanted it and so now felt free to take whatever she wanted. She was a lyrical socialist. (Ondaatje, 1982)

This stuck with me like nothing else in the book, in that I could almost recite it back to you from memory. I think this was mostly because of the way Lalla reminds me of my grandma Betty, and the way my boyfriend Matt says “socialism is perfect on paper”. This statement just grabs me, and I can’t get past it. It’s universal and deep, yet sarcastic in a way that makes you want to laugh.
I also am drawn to the way Ondaatje describes people with little anecdotes that are almost unappropriate, but eye-opening, and they sure as hell stick with you.

I want to go see what the rest of you 251-ers had to say, so I’ll come back to this.

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Running in The Family

I’m really not sure how I feel about this book yet. Granted, I will take full advantage of the option to read a book that on page 43 you’ve only read about 12 pages of text, but I honestly can say I have no idea what happened.
This guy is telling his story right? But I wasn’t really sure what he was saying at times, when it all really happened, if it was a dream or really did happen. I think I’ll have to go over it again, sorry all who found it as profound as the reviews claim.
Some parts that jumped out at me.. hmm… go to page 26. “In the heart of this 250-year-old fort we will trade anecdotes… In this way history is organized.” I loved that whole passage. This guy does Karr justce in his use of descriptive scenes, but here he just is honest and straighforward, but poetic and sortof.. soft? Maybe this little bit caught my eye because I understood exactly what he meant.
I will come back to this later when I have a clearer mind, but for now I’m going to go see what the rest of you ENG251-ers thought.

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My big day off

Today was my first day off from class/work/fieldwork/tutoring/volunteering/g-dknowswhat, and I didn’t even get to do anything special. It snowed all day, and the worst of it is yet to come.
I spent most of the day on the couch watching Law & Order while the snow came down past the picture window behind the TV like I would imagine glitter floating through a snowglobe. Eventually we went to out for mexican, and now I am back… with 3 inches of wet on the bottom of my pants, as usual. I wanted to take pictures of the snow, but my camera battery is dead, in fact I can’t even get it to charge anymore.
I know I sound like an ambulance chaser, but I almost hope there will be a fire call tonight because I can tell it would be crazy. But, I really don’t wanna go back out in this blizzard.
Ok, well Matt/icecream is calling, so I’ll write more later!

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