...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Three short stories about being Jessica

1. When I stopped by Powell's this afternoon before bell choir at church, I noticed that The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath is on sale. I'm almost positive that I'll end up buying the book on Sunday when I go downtown again, but I'm a tiny bit worried that it's going to make me more depressed. I've been feeling a little melancholy lately, and I'm not sure if reading the journals of someone who, on the outside, was very like me is going to be helpful or not. When I am depressed, I tend to seek out sad books, or books that I know will make me cry--the endings ofThe Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden (Steinbeck sure knows how to make a girl cry), The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the journals of Etty Hillesum. I've read The Bell Jar, by Plath, twice in its entirety, and I don't recall crying either time. The week before I turned twenty, I had this crazy urge to quickly reread it, since the protagonist Esther Greenwood is nineteen when the action of the novel takes place, and there are all of these wonderful passages that I connected with deeply about how she saw the world and the relationships between people when she was ninteen. I felt as though, as soon as I turned twenty, I would lose those connections--connections with a fictional character, I know. As it turned out, I didn't reread the book, since if you recall I was already feeling pretty down that week because of Valentine's Day, and also I had to quickly read five hundred pages of Middlesex for my book group.

2. I have a baby-sitting job off-campus on the evening of Monday the fourteenth, and I'm inordinately excited. It's part the thrill of getting off-campus and getting to spend time in someone's house, where I'm not cram-jammed cheek-to-jowel with forty other people, part the fact that I've baby-sat for these particular little girls twice before and they're precocious and adorable, and part this self-congratulatory thing about setting down roots in the community. My book group with DeAnn, the bell choir I direct downtown, the fact that two members of the bell choir asked me if I'd be able to house-sit for them at some hypothetical date in the future, baby-sitting off-campus--all of these things make me feel as though I actually live in Portland, instead of just going to school here. That's important to me.

3. Every Tuesday and Thursday when I go to my Religion in Early America seminar, I'm reminded of why I'm a Religious Studies major. I love that class! I love the vigor of intellectual debate and discussion that goes on among the five of us (six, counting the professor), and the fact that everyone does the reading, and that everyone else is a Religious Studies major also, so we can draw on this shared knowledge of theological points of view and Biblical origins and methodology. There was one point during the seminar today when we were talking about the Protestantization of the study of religion, and I don't remember how exactly, but the idea of multivalence of texts came up. Will--and Aimee was about to make the same point, I think--started talking about the ambiguity intentionally constructed into the texts in some of the Hebrew Bible, and because we've all taken Old Testament, we all knew exactly what scriptural passages he was talking about, like the ending of the Book of Job where the wording is intentionally ambiguous with regard to Job's relationship to God. Since there's only five of us in the class, there's a sense of cohesion, of community; there's a lot of laughter and good-natured teasing during our class sessions and I enjoy it more each day.