The Prodigal Blogger Returns!

As far as: page 256

Yes, fair readers (okay, my views have been at a steady 0 for like the past week), I have returned.  I didn’t want to post without getting really far in Twilight.  In all honesty, I expected to be done with the entire series by now, through the movies, even onto parodies and a deeper excursion of Stephenie Meyer’s website.  But I’m not.  I haven’t been getting far at all–I’ve been working and/or watching Dexter.  So I’m just over halfway through the first book.  It’s time to get back into the posting mindset, since my schedule will start busying up in just one short day.  A part of me knew that as soon as I had stopped talking about this project and started doing it…I would sort of stop doing it.  But enough about me!  Onto the most important thing: EDWARD CULLEN.

I haven’t been taking as many notes on thought-provoking passages because in case you hadn’t noticed, “thought-provoking” is cutesy ironic code for “makes me laugh and say wtf at the same time.”  And now that Edward’s dark secret is out (or is it?  I thought Bella took the news surprisingly well) and now that he and Bella are spending a lot of time together, I frankly have lost count of the number of “thought-provoking” passages.

I stayed in Port Angeles once about five years ago when my family took the ferry to Victoria.  It was a quaint little town.  I may have even gotten my first taste of cioppino at the “little Italian restaurant on the boardwalk,” or La Bella Italia (155).   It’s like I lived the book but I didn’t even know it!  Everything in town closed at five.  I was bored silly unless I was stuffing my face with delicious seafood, but it was very pretty and very nice.  I thought it was pretty quiet, too, but I could be mistaken.  My cousin and her husband went sea-kayaking up there recently, and to her shock and horror the town had been overrun by Twi-Tweens (Tweenlights?  I’ll need to work on that one) running around in Team Edward and Team Jacob shirts, visiting Dazzled by Twilight.  Ugh.  And I thought seeing Seattle Grace scrubs in Seattle tourist shops was bad enough.  Oh, but I’m missing the most important part about Port Angeles: it’s where Bella finds out that Tyler-who-almost-killed-her-with-a-van likes her, TOO, where Edward saves Bella from certain gang-rape, and where BELLA AND EDWARD GO ON THEIR FIRST DATE OMGZZZZZ.  At La Bella Italia WHERE I HAVE BEEN BEFORE IN PERSON OMGZZZZZZZZZZZZ.  Not enough Z’s in the world.  Seriously.

I also discovered that the store Dazzled by Twilight gets its name from actual book events.  Bella keeps telling Edward that he has a knack for “dazzling” people (209).  And that Bella is “frequently” dazzled by Edward.  I was dazzled.  If by “dazzled” you mean “throwing up in my mouth a little bit.”  I really am not sure if anyone under age 30 has un-ironically used the word “dazzle” in conversation since Don Draper’s era–unless they are discussing the Crayola Crayon color Razzle Dazzle Rose.

The overuse of the word “dazzle” exemplifies perfectly why the popularity of this franchise baffles me–it is just not to be believed.  Are vampires to be believed?  Hell no.  But that’s not what I’m talking about.  The X-Files episode “Bad Blood” is believable (and absolutely hilarious).  True Blood is believable.  Buffy is not my favorite but totally believable.  Why?  Different reasons.  “Bad Blood” and True Blood, kind of funk-ify (for lack of a more academic word) the classic vampire myths.  In “Bad Blood,” for example, Mulder goes on long explanations describing all the different types of vampires from around the world, but he still doesn’t expect the town pizza boy–who has fake fangs, goes out in daylight, and drugs his tourist victims with his pizza–to be anything more sinister than a ginger kid.  Also, vampires living in trailer parks?  Hilarious.

In True Blood, the vampires are part of a world I recognize–one with complex politics surrounding vampires “coming out of the coffin.”  Some of my favorite examples are: how vampire blood is a powerful hallucinogenic drug; how vampires can be affected by the blood-born pathogen Hepatitis D; how living with other vampires in a nest can mess up their lingering human psychology; how they have the choice to drink synthetic blood engineered by the Japanese; and, most of all, how they have  perpetuated many of the old myths about their aversion to mirrors, garlic, and crosses themselves to keep a low profile.  Also, vampires playing Wii is pretty much the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. 

Buffy, on the other hand, has vampires flying (so to speak) more or less under the radar as they do in “Bad Blood.”  The case is different, of course, because Mulder and Scully have to investigate Big Foot, giant bugs, body snatchers, evil twins, aliens, etc., while Buffy is stuck in a high school that’s built on a Hell-Mouth.  In Buffy the characters are complex and realistic, and they inhabit a world only slightly different from my own.  There’s a lot more tension when Buffy gets bad grades because she’s busy saving the world from destruction yet again, and the most pervading tension in the series comes from her trying to have a typical teenage existence in spite of her rather atypical one.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s face it: the fact that Buffy can get bad grades at already puts her waaaaaay out of Twilight‘s league.

The point I’m getting to is that while reading the last 120 or so pages of this book, every single instance of Bella talking about how clumsy she is became more and more infuriating.  It’s as though Stephenie Meyer decided to re-think (and I’ve said this before) her Mary Sue exactly once in the process of finalizing the Bella character.  Bella is clumsy and that is it, that is her only flaw.  She is too clumsy to be believable at all, especially the more Stephenie Meyer keeps flogging the dead horse that is this trait.  Bella can’t go to the dance?  She can’t go hiking?  And she’s never had a potential inner-ear problem checked out?  And furthermore, being clumsy is an extremely weak character flaw.  A good character flaw is Sherlock Holmes being unable to function without a puzzle to solve (and if you’ve read any Sherlock Holmes, he is almost superhuman).  Sookie Stackhouse’s penchant for jumping into situations without thinking is good a character flaw–and it gets her into trouble quite a bit.  Elizabeth Bennet judges people too quickly.  Harry Potter has a bad temper.  And the list goes on and on and on.  But the fact that Bella’s seemingly sole flaw is that she trips over her own feet to a ludicrous degree is a case of unforgivably vapid writing.

Also, WHEN DO I GET TO THE SPARKLING?  SERIOUSLY.  It’s like the 500 Days of Edward, but he sparkles for less than half of them.  I WANT ME SOME GLITTER, DAMNIT!

Thought-provoking passages:

“Stupid, unreliable vampire, I thought to myself” (156).  Damn those creatures of the night!

“He parallel-parked against the curb in a space I would have thought much too small for the Volvo, but he slid in effortlessly in one try” (165).  Okay.  Read that out loud in your sexiest voice.  Also, I have to say, I feel like Edward’s driving a Volvo has to do with him being old.  As Bill Compton says of the name of the vampire bar “Fangtasia”: “You have to remember that most vampires are very old.  Puns used to be the highest form of humor.”  My family has owned a 1990 Volvo since 1994 and it’s still going strong.  I knew someone four years ago who still drove a ’72 Volvo, and my former best friend drove an ’87.  In other words, Edward is actually an old man who needs the only vehicle that may actually outlast HIM.

“But outside the door to our Spanish class, leaning against the wall — looking more like a Greek god than anyone had a right to — Edward was waiting for me” (206).  Wait–is Edward handsome?  I must have missed that earlier.


The Plot Coagulates

As far as: page 139.

Haven’t written in a while.  I’m sure both of my dedicated readers are immensely glad that I’m back on the scene.  In the meantime, I’ve been doing a little extra vampire research by watching The Lost Boys—a Joel Schumacher movie from the eighties that I would only think was a disaster if I hadn’t seen St. Elmo’s Fire beforehand.  The Lost Boys was like The Craft only with vampire boys instead of witch girls.  They had similar elements of unintentional comedy.  The Lost Boys was far funnier than The Craft.  I can imagine Good Ol’ Joel being like, “This is a great one-liner…it doesn’t make any sense?  Who cares!  Charge ahead!”  Also, if you manage to get your hands on the special edition DVD of The Lost Boys, you can see the special feature that has little teaching blurbs about vampires from around the world.  Some of these even appear in Twilight, as Bella Googles “vampire,” which implies that part of Stephenie Meyer’s research involved Haimster and Feldog.

Edward and Bella are becoming fast friends, after he chivalrously saves her from biology class.  Bella faints at the sight of blood—actually, the smell of blood, which Edward says she shouldn’t be able to smell.  But Bella is special.  She’s also special enough to make everyone at her high school hate her omgz.  Mike loves her, Jacob is obvs interested, she gets to eat lunch with Sullen Cullen, which must be the backwards, Forks, WA version of the Cool Kids Table (compared to God’s Paradise—I mean, Phoenix).  The beginning stages of their relationship up to page 140 feel like a ham-fisted dumbing-down of the vampire’s legendary erotic power.  And of course there’s the dream sequence, where Bella is pulled in three different directions by Mike, Jacob, and Edward.  Thanks, Stephenie Meyer, for unveiling Bella’s already completely obvious feelings by cramming them into a dream sequence, a totally original writing tool.

We’ve done my favorite part of the preview for the Twilight movie: “‘What if I’m not a superhero?  What if I’m the bad guy?’”  (92).  At which I almost LOL’d for realisies.  And had to change my panties because bad boys are so hotttttt.

Jacob Black has also come onto the scene by this point.  Jacob is from the Quileute tribe, which, as he tells Bella quite plainly, can turn into wolves, which are the SWORN ENEMY OF VAMPIRES OF COURSE/ Just like in Underworld.  And maybe Van Helsing?  I blocked out Van Helsing, I can’t remember (except for the exploding vampire babies). AND SHIT GUYS THE CULLENS ARE VAMPIRES BECAUSE ‘COLD ONES’ IS JUST A METAPHOR FOR ‘VAMPIRE.’  Oh, is it because they’re dead?  Maybe upon re-reading this nigh-impenetrable text I will finally piece together this complex metaphor.

Does anyone know what’s the deal with vampires being the enemy of werewolves?  Is it just convenient?  Couldn’t they form a symbiotic relationship dealio?  (Vampires drain, werewolves scavenge.)  Sharing is caring, y’all.

I have a hard time with Jacob’s story because while I don’t know the entire history of the Mormon church, let alone its specific relationship to Native Americans, I know that that relationship is not a very pretty one.  It wouldn’t be fair to define Stephenie Meyer only by her Mormon-ness (Mormon-osity?).  Also, I have to say, I was under the impression that during the Mountain Meadows Massacre the Mormons dressed up like the Paiute to blame them later, but it sounds like they at least worked together…but probably so the Mormons could try to blame the Paiute later.  But it’s always weird to me when a white person tries to write from a minority perspective, especially if that writing is pretty awful and employs the phrase “pale-faces.” But then again she didn’t fall too far into the “mystical minority” trap. I don’t know…it just seems…weird, still.

Okay, okay.  I’m not exactly being fair.  I promised I would try not to dump on Twilight and keep an open mind.  Better luck next time.

Thought-provoking passages:

“‘I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly…I think your friends are angry with me for stealing you’” (87).  What an egotistical jerk!  God…I feel like Anne Brontë.  It doesn’t help that I recently got a picture-text from a friend with a cover of Wuthering Heights that includes a sticker, which reads: “Bella and Edward’s favorite book.”  BARF.

“‘I don’t like double standards’” (90).  Uh, excuse me?  You don’t like double standards, Bella?  As in, Bella “Can’t Be Smarter Than a Boy” Swan?

“I was gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered that alternative.  My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on to the next option” (139).  This may be the most poorly constructed paragraph I’ve ever seen in published fiction.  For context’s sake, Bella is gripped in a sudden agony of despair as she considers being forced to leave Edward alone.  They’ve interacted for like twenty consecutive minutes at this point—that is, they’ve had an interchange beyond just glaring.

“I was already in too deep.  Now that I knew – if – I knew, I could do nothing about my frightening secret.  Because when I thought of him, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now.  Even if…but I couldn’t think it” (139).  HELLO?  Isn’t ANYBODY’S Dear-Abby-o-meter going off right now?

The Spawkwing Diamond…

As far as: Page 84

You know what’s hard?  Trying to hide what you’re reading in a very public place (i.e., an airport).  Will I ever see these people again?  Doubtful.  Do I want their only impression of me to be me reading Twilight?  Well…frankly, no.  But my hair is a mess and I forgot to put on my deodorant this morning, so frankly, I’m not going to make a good impression on anybody.  But I take pride in what books I’m reading at the airport.  I often pull out my prized Norton critical editions.  This time I was SO pretentious I packed L’Étranger–THAT’S RIGHT.  The Stranger in the ORIGINAL FRENCH.  Beat that.

OH MY GOD.  I literally JUST heard an announcement over the intercom: “Mr. So-and-So, you left your book at your seat, The Adventures of Huck Finn.  Please come and get it.”  The horror, the horror… “Esther Summerson, you left your book Twilight in your seat.  Please come and collect your vampires.”  If only they could see the pretentious Cave of Wonders that is my carry-on…but alas.

I’ve finally met the cold-blooded Cullen himself.  Edward is a powerful creature, but his allure up until at least about page seventy is simply that he’s a huge jerk.  He saves Bella from getting killed and when she asks him why he did so, he says he doesn’t know why.  Classy.  And by “classy,” I mean “quasi-abusive.”  Seriously.  I read a lot of advice columns as a child, and my Dear Abby sense is tingling: “Dear Abby, My boyfriend regularly hits me and says I don’t deserve to live, but then he apologizes and says he loves me.  But then he hits me again the next time he gets mad.”  I swear as soon as Edward sparkles onto the scene, our Bella becomes a lot more self-deprecating.  Also, knowing what I know about Twilight, Edward is hella old—there’s no way he doesn’t realize that his coldness is like catnip to the emotionally vulnerable.  Hard to get is the oldest game around—and he’s one of the oldest teenagers around, so he should know.

As awful as I found Bella’s bizarre bragging at the beginning, this shift to her calling herself “pitiful” and “pathetic” is really tiring—and in fact, takes all the fun out of thinking these things about her myself.  Trust me, as a young woman I have had more than my fair share of self-esteem issues, many of which I have pretended to solve by tearing other people down.  Actually, I used to use self-deprecation to neutralize personal attacks made upon me, so I can sort of understand what Bella is doing, but at this point in my life I recognize it as incredibly unhealthy.  “Dear Diary, Today I thought about Edward all the time even though I’m stupid and my thoughts are stupid and my feelings are stupid, too, and I don’t deserve him.”

It is really hard to see (note I didn’t write “experience”–someone needs to take a creative writing class)  this character doing damage to herself—and so innocuously with a flippant “I know it’s stupid”—over a someone who treats her so poorly.  Does he always treat her poorly?  For many of their initial interactions, yes; in the future, presumably not as much.  (First impressions are important—remember Pride & Prejudice?)  I guess I will always compare their future together to this frigid introduction, painting Edward thus far as someone not to be trusted, someone for whom goodness occurs on a whim.  And frankly, I think her self-deprecation will make it much harder for me to buy this apparent “true love” business I keep hearing about between Bella and Edward.  I will totes rethink this assessment if he apologizes for being such a dick.

….Okay, like two pages after I wrote that, I got something like an apology.  “I’m sorry for being rude—but stay away from me.  I’m dangerous.  You should stay away.  Let’s go on a road-trip date.”  Catnip.

But I have to say, since he is perfect and intelligent, Bella’s conversation with him actually reveals her sense of sarcasm and some degree of intelligence, I guess.  She can banter with Ed-wizzle, or hold her own against his super-intelligence, although their banter reads like some sort of middle schooler’s short story.  (On a side note, is his intelligence any different from hers?  In other words, if you’ve been a junior in high school for decades, how much did you really learn vs. how much you just keep repeating?)

Additional note:  It took me more than one reading to figure out what exactly happened when the van nearly killed Bella—poor writing or poor visualization skills?

Thought-provoking passages:

“‘[The bio lab] was awful,’ [Mike] groaned.  ‘They all looked exactly the same.  You’re lucky you had Cullen for a partner.’ […] ‘I didn’t have any trouble with it,’ I said, stung by his  assumption.  I regretted the snub instantly.  ‘I’ve done the lab before, though,’ I added before he could get his feelings hurt” (51).  Smarter than a BOY?!  You were right to redact it!  Oh, wait…this just means you have a good memory, not that you’re good at science.  Dodged a bullet there!  Wouldn’t want to be smarter than a boy.

“I should be avoiding [Edward Cullen] entirely after my brainless and embarrassing babbling yesterday.  And I was suspicious of him; why should he lie about his eyes?  I was still frightened of the hostility I sometimes felt emanating from his perfect face.  I was well aware that my league and his league were spheres that did not touch.  So I shouldn’t be at all anxious to see him today” (53).  Reach for the stars, Bella!  Let’s see…He makes you (in this order) feel bad about yourself, he makes you distrust him, he frightens you, he makes you feel like you’re a second class human being…and YOU STILL WANT TO CLIMB INTO THE BACKSEAT OF THAT VOLVO DON’T YOU FEEL REALLY BAD NOW IT IS A FOREIGN CAR LIKE JERKS DRIVE.

Cue Crappy Mermaid Music

I may be the only person above a fifth-grade reading level who can’t manage to burn through Twilight in a day.  I am pretty busy, I guess, but mainly I’m pretty bored with the book so far.  Call me an exposition junkie, but what is the deal with Bella moving to Forks in the first place?  By page 45 or so, it’s just faintly implied that she doesn’t get along with her stepfather, but you’d think after talking so much about how she belongs in Phoenix and how afraid she is of her dad being awkward you’d think she’d mention what could allow her to overcome such strong disgust.

So far, I’m not really into Bella either.  I get being bored by your surroundings.  I get hanging out with people just to fit in.  But Bella Swan reads like a Mary Sue who is bored to be in her own fanfiction.  She’s so beautiful and pale (and didn’t think she’d fit in, despite having been to Forks before and presumably seeing how pasty people are in the Northwest).  She already knows everything she’s being taught in school.  She knows where the school is just by guessing.  She’s a good cook and picks up her father’s slack.  All the boys just flock around her but she doesn’t really like them.  I automatically distrust characters who describe their own physical appearance at least a little, and my distrust grows exponentially with every favorable self-description.  Maybe that’s a personal issue.

To be fair, Bella is clumsy—or at least she says she’s clumsy.  There’s not a lot of proof for all that Bella says she is, to be honest.  It’s a classic tell-not-show situation.  She’s clumsy enough that one volleyball game has everyone in gym class avoiding passing to her.  She’s clumsy enough that she needs to drive a tank just to stay alive.  But all I have as a reader is her word.  Does she ever swerve?  Does she ever run a stop sign?  She just understands everything in school, but displays very little actual intelligence, which makes her very hard to read.  When she casually remarks that her mother is part albino and then references it later, I couldn’t tell if she was joking.  She says she’s sarcastic all the time, but she’s really…um…not.

I have to say, as someone who dislikes to be disliked, I am surprisingly un-skeptical of Bella’s avoidance of that broody, handsome boy with the death glare.  Sometimes her dwelling on it seems a little weird—like expecting someone besides her father to be in the house—but I can actually relate to being put off by eye-daggers.

And can I just say, I think it’s kind of funny that Bella is so proud of her old Chevy.  I kind of expected her to think something like, “America!  FUCK YEAH!”  Notice how those rich kids and those vampires drive those foreign cars…

Well we’ll see how things go.  I’m just getting to the Edward bits, where perhaps I will be bowled over by the AWESOME POWER OF HIS SPARKLY BEAUTY.

Thought-provoking passages:

“The next day was better…and worse” (29).  DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!

“Or maybe Forks was making me crazy in the literal sense of the word” (46).  As opposed to…what?  The metaphorical sense of the word?  Is the distinction necessary?

The Late Afternoon: Or, My Time Before Twilight

Okay, I started to read the Julie/Julia Project and saw the movie, but other than that I have no experience with “stunt blogs” other than wanting to do one.  My thing is going to be reading Twilight.  Why?  Because I’ve avoided the actual books (and films) so far.  However, I have read summaries of it, criticism of it, I have discussed its “abstinence porn” quality and how it is “like crack.” I have friends who genuinely like it.  I have friends who have become addicted to it and they don’t know why.  I have friends whose philosophy rejects the “creepy” and “sexist” underpinnings of the saga but still admit its addictive property.  I am a little skeptical of Twilight, but I want to feel like I can really back my shit up.  And I want to be honest about my experience: maybe I will secretly swoon for Edward Cullen.  So, hello stunt blog.  Hello world fame?  Uh…yeah, no.

Not to mention I come from Colorado, which borders Utah, which means that I—more than many people across the country—have come into contact with a fair amount of Mormons: ex-Mormons, Jack Mormons, even a couple pretty devout Mormons.  Additionally, I have a lot of friends from Utah and I’ve read Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer and I’ve seen the South Park episode (but not Big Love), so frankly I know quite a bit about and talk about Mormons a lot.  Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon.  I have read Stoney321’s LiveJournal rundown of Twilight’s hidden Mormon messages and am interested to judge for myself.  For the record, I have never had a problem with individual Mormons.  As for the church, it depends, but I take issues with most churches anyway.

My relationship with vampires has always bordered on dislike.  I have never read Dracula; I hear it’s terrible.  I have read the Eyewitness Classics version as a kid (and was more interested in factoids about Roma culture and vampire folklore), and I have seen the terrible movie with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder.  I read a little Anne Rice in middle school.  I remember a friend of mine explaining how Interview with a Vampire was essentially Anne Rice’s child, and I appreciated that while I was reading it but frankly don’t remember any of the book.  The Vampire Lestat officially made the investment in the box set of the first four Vampire Chronicle books a waste of my parents’ money.  Fifty pages in I was completely bored, and watching the Queen of the Damned was actually anti-motivation to continue with the franchise.  I’ve had no desire to read Laurel K. Hamilton ever.

I watched a little bit of Buffy throughout my teen years, and saw the first three seasons on Hulu this summer.  I didn’t love Buffy.  I do love Firefly, but Buffy actually turned my neutrality on vampires into kind of a dislike, and I was never sure why (though I do find the giant vampire prosthetic foreheads particularly cheesy).  I’m not sure what compelled me to watch all that Buffy, because I had a hard time forging a real emotional connection with it, the way I did with the crew of Serenity.  All the characters felt kind of dead to me.  Like the Gilmore Girls.

But then there was True Blood.

I don’t know what it was, but over Halloween weekend this past fall I started watching True Blood on Thursday night and by Sunday afternoon I was finished with the whole series.  I even re-watched most of it later.  It wasn’t necessarily the vampire bits, but I liked the political spin on vampires (which I have been told is what Laurel K. Hamilton does as well, so perhaps I judge without reason) and I really bought into the Southern Gothic hoodoo-y thing.  It’s like catnip to me. It really is.  Also the word “Sookeh.”  I got completely wrapped up in the series.  I cried at the death of a character, I got genuinely upset at varying events that occurred, I was frustrated when mysteries stayed unsolved.  And despite all this, I knew it was cheesy, I knew the acting could be subpar, I knew that a lot of the dialogue was just plain silly.

But True Blood got me thinking about Twilight, the worldwide phenomenon I had been trying to ignore for—what, like two years?  I either get really wrapped up in something that defies my cultural snob tendencies (True Blood, The Tudors, Desperate Housewives), or I’ll see it through just to decide it really is dumb (Buffy).  I want to see what will happen now that I’ve finally managed to borrow the books in “The Saga” after making endless fun of the “Team Edward” T-shirt.

So that’s my history of vampires.  I don’t think they’re that sexy.  In fact, I get a weird necrophilia vibe from it—even just slightly—and I wonder about how sanitary blood exchange can be when one party is dead and thrives off the blood of random strangers.  I guess we’ll find out.

Esther’s Fisher Price First Narrative

First off, an explanation of this blog’s title:

This past semester in college, I spent six weeks (out of fourteen) reading, discussing, thinking about, and writing a decently long paper about Charles Dickens’s Bleak HouseBleak House is one of those great-sprawling-monster novels—clocking in at about 900 pages—and it is also one of Dickens’s social critiques.  This time the target is the legal system, especially how obscure and ruinous it can be.  To properly demonstrate the opacity of London’s legal system, Dickens employs the device of two narrators: one being some sort of ominous-nigh-omniscient-implied-Dickens voice, and little Esther Summerson, whose main occupation is SHINING BEACON OF GOODNESS, and secondarily a housekeeper.

For example, a sample from implied-Chuck, the very opening passage of the novel*:

“London.  Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall.  Implacable November weather.  As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn-hill.  Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.  Dogs, undistinguishable in the mire.  Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers.  Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas, in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest” (11).

Bleak indeed, yeah?  And here is a typical tidbit of Esther’s experience:

“The letter gave me only five days’ notice of my removal.  When every minute added to the proofs of love and kindness that were given me in those five days; and when at last the morning came, and when they took me through all the rooms that I might see them for the last time; and when some cried, ‘Esther, dear, say good-bye to me here, at my bedside, where you first spoke so kindly to me!’ and when others asked me only to write their names, ‘With Esther’s love;’ and when they all surrounded me with their parting presents and clung to me weeping, and cried, ‘What shall we do when dear, dear Esther’s gone!’ and when I tried to tell them how forebearing, and how good they had all been to me, and how I blessed, and thanked them every one; what a heart I had!” (36)

In addition to this overwhelming sweetness—with special emphasis on how much others trumpet her remarkable virtues—comes a strange mixture of keen observation and emotional denial.  Many of the chapters in which Esther is the narrative are appropriately titled: “Esther’s Narrative.”  And here comes the adorable irony of the blog title: it will not be sweet, it will not be withholding, and it will hopefully not be emotionally weird.

So, yeah, basically, like all other blogs, I have thoughts, too!  Lots of them!  About things!  Is it Salon?  No.  Is it New York Times?  No.  Am I a genius?  No.  But whatevs.  I have a computer, and so I exercise my God-given right to blog (or is it “write” to blog?–ooh, sorry about that).

Seriously.  I’ve thought about this for months.  “Esther’s Narrative” is all I got.

*Note: From the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Bleak House.