Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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7 Quick Takes about Poeming, Photoshooting, and Bipartite Discussions

Ah, Friday. I remember you from last week. That had been so long and so paltry a time ago. Now, of course, it’s time for this week’s 7 Quick Takes, hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2

#1. It’s funny how time changes, isn’t it? This time last year, I was practically petrified of everything and would never have asked a lecturer for source materials or tips. Today, I struck up a conversation with my Philosophy of Mind lecturer about the psychological problem of hemispatial neglect, which I am currently looking at in my Neuroscience module. Whilst I expected the bipartite degree to overlap, I never expected it to so directly.

#2. Speaking of which, you might have heard that the new term started. Eep. Expect my creativity productivity to decrease. I’ve already gained an essay, and next week is the start of Mini Project number two. It’s only a matter of months now before I start my final year project. Alas, the problems of university!

#3. Sometimes life gets the better of people, though, and one of my friends had to cancel her 21st party planned for tomorrow because she can’t make it up to Reading. Sadly, I’ve not seen her since she deferred her academic year for medical reasons, and, whilst I know she’s been recovering well, it’s still disheartening that I’m not going to be able to celebrate her birthday with her. Pray for her.

#4. In Chamber Choir, we’ve started the ambitious project of the Frank Martin Mass for double choir. I’m in the second choir (as a Soprano, of course), which gives me some of my lowest notes. Bizarrely, I can actually reach that low in my chest voice, but, boy, it’s not comfortable. Nevertheless, the sung Mass work is beautiful and ghostly. A piece of Heaven, one might say. If you want a nosy at the sound, YouTube has some good recordings (though, the whole piece is 27 minutes):

#5. I’ve been doing another over-elaborate photoshoot today with Lady Chronaire, as she gained a proper corset (yes, there are such things as fake corsets) with shiny shiny buttons today, and I spent a good time editing the rubbish auto quality of my laptop camera into photos that bore a little steampunk mystery to them.

AlexB_LadySChronaire_Explore2 AlexB_LadySChronaire_goggles

#6. Editing again this week. I’m making great progress with my January batch of writerly things, whilst also trying to hang out more with other writers on Twitter, Absolute Write, and their own blogs. I did, however, write a spontaneous poem in my own little way to combat the hail I encountered on my way home.

#7.

The day was crisp and low and kind of nice –
I took the scenic road,
Along the lake and
Where the mallards squawk.
Cold breeze engulfed my hands,
And only just numbed fingertips.
I wondered, purposed, beside the trees,
Whilst an ash-grey sky from invisible volcano smoked;
Before long, the plink and plonk
Of slow raindrops
Coated phone and face—
No, it was far too cold for rain.
Hailstones rebelled until
Safety I sought.
Yet, in that unsteady pace,
In that tumultuous sky,
I made my way home.

It’s kind of a love poem in its own little way: an apology for lamenting at the weather, but also one that cares for the nature around me. I had one of those wonderment moments where I just wanted to spend more time with God’s Creation. Not having the time, however, I simply took a different route back.

Don’t forget to catch up with everyone else! I’ll see you next week.


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Quick Takes Friday About A Week of Thankfulness

Didn’t post last week after having to rush about, but now I find myself with so much to say. One of the things I’ve always found difficult about being a Christian is including God in my everyday life, in everything I do.

And then there are weeks, like this gone week, where I wake up and remember how blessed He has made me in life, even if have to put my all into trusting Him.

A lovely way to start quick takes Friday, eh? Even if the dusk has turned almost to night outside my bedroom window.

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~1~

What’s new this week? Well, what isn’t new! I have been so thankful to God this week for the ‘break’ I’ve had to do some much needed catching up. Reading Uni had its ‘enhancement’ week this week, and whilst the Philosophy department took a break from lectures, seminars and tutes, the school of Psychology had planned a Big Science project for us, compulsory. So much for a break, eh? *grin*

~2~

The Lord blessed my good friend, Lillian Woodall and I with similar friendships this week, and a further amusing mirroring in our daily lives. I rather miss her company and her critical eye (and encouragement!) on my work, but our internet conversations keep us merry.

~3~

I wrote two essays in less than four days from pretty much nothing and I read a great load of extra reading in my spare time. I thank God for the mornings, Starbucks winter lattes and that he gives me the inspiration to a) know what I’m going to say, and b) enjoy arguing my points.

~4~

I seem to have made myself a position in the university mass service choir, aptly in the church in which I was confirmed: lead soprano (because I have the loudest female voice and can sight-read to fairly able pitch!). I rather like being on the other side of the table (or, church, as it were in their cross-shaped), though it cuts into my usual dinner time. Oh well. Give and take.

~5~

Nevertheless, most of my bouncy bouncy optimism has returned. I thank God for the music that peps me up, the sport I play and the health I feel.

~6~

The weather has been turbulent in a cold way. My room being behind a tree, my light goes on a half 3 nowadays, but I’ve also been forced *gasp* to wrap up, coat, scarp, jumpers.

No wonder I prefer summer, xD.

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~7~

On the other hand, I had to sacrifice writing and editing. My count for thus week is near nothing:

Maybe it was time to give up on ever sharing his life, or that his warm fingers would envelope her cold ones, or a soothing hand would find her knee in an absent-minded caress. She’d never relied on romance films for her heart, but now the concept alone of Laurie-and-Jess (and thank goodness their names failed the shipping tests of ‘CAnais’) kept her wanting and kept her wishing. But it was one element of her life, and if Laurie was happy to shift her into that ‘friendzone’ the internet blathered about, Jess would live with that.

Right?

I wonder if Jess has the same genetic peculiarity that I have of constantly cold extremities. Typing this, I’m currently wearing fingerless-gloves indoors because my hands are uncomfortably chilly.


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We All Have Our Own Journeys

Today’s gospel, the parable of the generous vineyard owner (Matthew 20: 1-16), is a message sure to ring true with a lot of people. How often have we been stuck in a dead-end job whilst those on par with us rise to greater things? How often have we received a lower grade from a teacher than a friend with almost the same answer? How often are we surrounded by couples and babies whilst we linger alone?

It’s easy to feel cheated when someone puts in less effort and receives the goal you’ve worked so hard for, and to say ‘it’s not fair’ when things don’t go our way.

This is especially true in the world of art, or, in my case, the world of literature and writing. Whilst I love reading stories of authors who’ve snagged an agent or a book deal, twinges of envy attack me as I read of another’s success.

Some authors are lucky enough to get both in short time after submitting. Understand this isn’t the norm – but when these stories crop up, it’s hard not to notice the level of success the particular author has had, compared to your supposed lack of achievements.

Too, every author has their own style, and it’s easy to criticise their style and berate them for being so successful with it. Remember how subjective reading (and life) is. And there’s probably a lot more to their success story (including previous losses) than they care to share publically.

But think of this, and take from today’s parable the simple idea: they’ve made their journey, and perhaps it’s not the route that would have suited you. Some authors have to go through self-publishing before they can attract the attention of an agent/publisher; others are ready to let certain books go, whereas you might have a confidence in an unusual book regardless of its place in the market.

In the end, you must judge yourself only by your own levels and not by how other people, whose circumstances can never mirror yours (and circumstance and luck/timing plays a major part in art careers), not thinking of what others are getting, but looking on your own pay as a worthy prize. In terms of writing, this means trying to stay away from comparing yourself with another, ‘successful’ (whatever that word may mean for you) writer, and respecting what you have already done on your own journey to ‘success’. Though many people say this, it’s worth reiterating: if your goal is to finish a book and you do so, that is worth celebrating. It’s a step many writers do not make. If you gain a new goal whilst writing to publish said manuscript, good for you to have such a goal. However, do not disregard how far you have already come; whilst ambition is commendable, it is never equal to achievement of the present.

Try not to fall into the camp of thinking ‘it’s not fair’. When someone’s journey may look as if it were lighter than yours, it may have been full of pitfalls you cannot see. Everyone is unique and their experiences reflect from how they’ve lived their life so far. Everyone has their own journey to take and we must trust that the Lord will guide us there in His own time, not what we think is the best time.

Roll on Palm Sunday...I need a new cross.

 


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Happy Solemnity of Peter and Paul

In the Catholic Church calendar, today celebrates the Saints Peter and Paul, martyrs and evangelists of the faith. These two men are great role models of following God’s call even if it means stepping away from what one has come to know. It should be no surprise, then, that their feast is one I know well. On their day is when I have given my faith the greatest of overviews.

I realise I don’t share much of the hymns to which I listen, but YouTube is pale in comparison with witnessing the melodies first-hand and singing them. However, today’s psalm and gospel acclamation lyrics are too beautiful not to share, even in part:

From all my terrors, the Lord set me free. I will trust the Lord at all times, His praise always on my lips. In the Lord, my soul shall make its boast; the humble shall hear and be glad.

They’re very give-all lyrics. One must trust that God has set the right path for one to follow, even if the road ahead is not clear of issues and obstructions. Peter and Paul knew this well – and they eventually died rather than renouncing their faith. That’s amazing.

This year’s feast is particularly poignant for me, as it’s my first as a full Catholic consuming the host, since being confirmed at Pentecost after my conversion. We’ve come far, but we’ve still got a lifetime ahead to trust where understanding must fail.

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The Art of letting go

Alexandrina Brant:

We all know that letting go is a painful, cold-hearted kick to the gut. Here, Loretta Andrews considers letting go and God. The first few paragraphs especially rung true for me.

Originally posted on Loretta Andrews:

Is God a nice God?

Is ‘letting go’ a brave act of surrender or merely giving up?

They say the hardest choice you’ll ever face is whether to walk away or try harder, but what if someone else gives up before you.  Do you let them walk away? Or do we grab hold of their leg shamelessly losing all self-respect and let them drag us a long as they try to get away from us? Do we even have a choice?

I’m pretty sure there is an art to letting go.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have it! In fact I’m certain I’m absolutely rubbish at it!  It says a lot about me I guess.  I am fiercely loyal.  Ask any of my friends, they know full well and from experience, you mess with one of them I’d personally rip the face of the perpetrator if they wanted me to…

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A Quarter of the Catechism…

You may remember at about November-time I posted of my desire to attempt to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church from cover-to-cover. (My RCIA leader also prescribed the YouCat, but I’m less keen on the style of writing in that – I feel the actual Catechism explains and touches on the Faith in a much deeper way than the YouCat fundamentally can. Sorry. Not complaining.) This is deemed a huge challenge for me, since I’ve not even read The Bible from cover-to-cover.

Sure, I can recite and explain many of the stories, but I also have giant gaps in my knowledge (called the prophets. I do wish they’d taught us more about the prophets in school, or at least covered a great variety of The Bible. I don’t mind having an acute knowledge of Luke’s Gospel – indeed, it has helped me greatly during my conversion to Catholicism – but I dislike the feeling that I’ve missed parts of this wealthy text that tell me as much and more about God than reading the Gospel over and over does).

Anyway, as you can see, I get distracted. By life. And the blaring sounds my brain. “How,” I asked myself, “am I going to get through a book that is, arguably, longer and more complex, and more directly relevant to modern life, than The Bible?”

The answer came whispered: perseverance.

A few nights ago, I looked at my position through the book as I sometimes do after reading (I hasten to add that this, far from being the sense of ‘how much more do I have to read’, is due to a case of habit when it comes to print books) and was surprised to see that I was no longer at a random slice of the beginning. I’ve managed to read a quarter of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Now, I didn’t set myself specific targets. I didn’t think “quarter way through the year I should be at the quarter mark of the Catechism”, nor did I push myself to complete it before my confirmation – because I know that’s not going to happen. But one ‘bit’ per night. One paragraph, one page, one section. Just something read.

And I’m surprised how well that works.

Although I’m not getting confirmed at the Easter Vigil (and due to where I’m living at the moment, I probably won’t even be able to attend any Easter Vigil, which is fine because my attempt to make any Midnight Mass on 24/12 failed as well…), I’m getting really excited about my confirmation and the union of others into our Church. Events haven’t unfurled the way I expected, but I grit my teeth, I wipe away my worried tears and I continue. Because I must.

I read on.

Roll on Palm Sunday...I need a new cross.

Roll on Palm Sunday…I need a new cross.


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Trust without wavering

Alexandrina Brant:

I’m feeling filled with the spirit, and this quote touched my soul: even when the world is dark, the sky is broken and fallen, there will be a light for all peoples. There will be Jesus.

Originally posted on 1catholicsalmon:

05_40_4Iamthelightoftheworld_web1PSALM 26

From Biblia.com 

A Psalm of David.

1 Vindicate me, O Lord,

for I have walked in my integrity,

and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me;

test my heart and my mind.

3 For thy steadfast love is before my eyes,

and I walk in faithfulness to thee.

4 I do not sit with false men,

nor do I consort with dissemblers;

5 I hate the company of evildoers,

and I will not sit with the wicked.

6 I wash my hands in innocence,

and go about thy altar, O Lord,

7 singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,

and telling all thy wondrous deeds.

8 O Lord, I love the habitation of thy house,

and the place where thy glory dwells.

9 Sweep me not away with sinners,

nor my life with bloodthirsty men,

10 men in whose hands are evil devices,

and whose right hands are full of bribes.

11 But as for me, I…

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