Archive for October, 2006

daunting

October 30, 2006

That’s what chapter two is feeling like lately. Daunting. I’m not so enamored of the feeling that comes with the word, but I do appreciate the suitability of the word itself. For me, “daunting” brings to mind something bent—-a person weighed down with possibility perhaps, or someone brought down by the enormity of a task.

As evidenced by earlier posts, I’m a dork, so it should not surprise anyone that I went to the American Heritage Dictionary to investigate the etymology of the word after I finished the above statement. Like all word snobs, I do prefer the heft of the OED for purely aesthetic look-ups, but the AHD has the Indo-European root words listed in the back, and there’s nothing more satisfying than following a word back to its source. (My peers in dorkitude may especially enjoy terms “yard,” “angst,” or “epiphany,” all of which offer interesting connections through their IE root.)

Anyway, when I looked up “daunt,” I came up with this:
daunt (dônt, dänt)
To abate the courage of; discourage. See synonyms at dismay.

And it’s etymology:
Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin domitre, frequentative of domre, to tame. See dem- in Appendix I.

Of course, I went straight to Appendix I, where I found

dem-
DEFINITION: To constrain, force, especially to break in (horses). Oldest form *dem2-. 1. Suffixed o-grade form *dom()-o-. tame, from Old English tam, domesticated, from Germanic *tamaz. 2. O-grade form *dom-. daunt; indomitable, from Latin domre, to tame, subdue. 3. Zero-grade form *d-. adamant, diamond, from Greek damn, to tame (> adams, unconquerable, from *-d-nt-). (Pokorny (dem-) 199.)

Interesting, eh? I mean, I certainly did not know the “break in (horses)” or “tame, subdue” origin of the word, so how I did I come up with my feelings of “bent” or “brought down by”? I’m not arguing that my understanding of the word was right on, but when I thought of “bent,” I was definitely trying to articulate the idea of a person hunched over under a weight. Without sounding overly profound, it’s pretty amazing that a word can still (kind of, sort of) carry its original meaning. Language is coooooooool.

Okay, enough philosophizing for today. How about a visual to accompany the term “daunting”?

Here you go…

daunting

money and a room of one’s own notwithstanding

October 23, 2006

A good view makes all the difference in the world.

Today I’m feeling a little blue. I don’t feel like writing. I also don’t feel like reading anything related to my dissertation. One can only read so many essays and books on involuntary sterilization without starting to feel a little, um, disenchanted with the human race.

However, it feels a little irresponsible to wallow in self-pity when one has not one but two places to write with such beautiful views. The pictures can’t do justice to the autumn leaves and the bustling street below, but they do hint at the “treehouse” feel of our apartment. We’re on the second floor: in the trees, but not so high that moving will be a chore.

This first shot shows the view out my office window. As I face my computer, the window is at my left, about a foot and a half away. The bottom of the window sill is shoulder-high, so I can look out, but the folks on the ground can’t see much more of me than the top of my head (perfect for early morning writing in a robe and slippers). We live on a corner one block from the main street in Clifton. There is lots of foot traffic here as people walk up to Ludlow.

looking out

The second shot looks up from my seat at our “dining room” table. We took the screens off the windows to improve the view. It means more moths (which I’m constantly ushering out of the apartment so that they don’t get into my wool) but I think it’s worth it to have the old windows fully visible. Even when the ash outside doesn’t have leaves, the view is still gorgeous. I love tree branches against a winter sky.

looking up

So, with that, I’ll head back to work. I wonder if Virginia Woolf would have felt better had she left the stuffy library and found a room with a view instead.

Is an apology in order?

October 19, 2006

I read two blogs religiously: the Yarn Harlot’s blog about knitting and Heather Armstrong’s blog dooce.com. I check in on several others, but not with the same frequency. It is these two writers upon whom I depend for my inspirational “fix”. If a day goes by without a post, I find myself feeling a little, well, irritated. I wouldn’t go so far as to compare these blogs to my need for coffee, but I will say that when there’s nothing new to read, I feel a corresponding dissatisfaction and disappointment.

To compare my own blog to either of these two blogs would be ludicrous, and I understand that completely. However, I have been wondering if there’s a person or two out there who has visited my blog lately and been disappointed that I haven’t posted for a (long) while. Ever since my friend Kell linked me to her own blog, I’ve been feeling guilty about my utter lack of output in the blog department.

There are several reasons for this lack (had a conference paper to write, recent struggle with “writer’s block” leaves me a little insecure about posting, Ch. 2 of my dissertation is due in two weeks) but I think one reason in particular has been especially prohibitive: my self-imposed range of topics.

I originally chose the limits of knitting and writing to avoid the kind of emo-blogging that serves no purpose to the reader. I mean, yeah, some of my posts about writing are a little personal and introspective, but I want to believe that someone out there might have the same hurdles and, in reading my post, would think, “So, I’m not the only one who can’t write because I’ve been reading too much. How refreshing!” I thought having a couple of fairly “light” topics would give me some boundaries.

What I hadn’t considered was the problem of timeliness; that is, lately, my knitting seems redundant (more freakin’ baby hats!) and my writing feels equally dull. The topics that do enter my mind might be considered outside the lines, so to speak. Couple that with a recent discovery that “googling” my own name brings my blog up first, and I’m now feeling like I can only allude to issues of writing that might be worth thinking/writing through. (A recent job search meeting prompted me to determine what might be “out there” in cyberspace—what might be public to potential employers—and how that might reflect on me as a job candidate. I mean, sure, I’m vain enough to google myself for no reason at all, but this time it had a purpose.) As a result, posts like my most recent that allude to issues of jealousy and writing and competition and “how far along are you on your dissertation?” and other graduate student insecurities can only exist in the margins. Right?

Maybe not. I’m not sure. I tell myself that any university hiring team who would read my blog and not hire me because of something I wrote would not be the sort of people I’d want to work with anyway. But don’t we all tell ourselves that? Even as I wrote that line, I felt that I might be lying a little. If, say, the University of Cool Midwestern City cut me from their list for this blog, I’d cry. And then I’d hate myself. And then I’d cry some more.

So, still working through those issues, I guess… But in the meantime, I’ll try to post with more regularity and I’ll continue to (try to) be up front about the personal and political of blogging as I encounter it.