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ok, so i've been lax about posting here. i apologise. there are reasons. i don't know if they'ree good reasons, but they include:

  • i've had a lot of work to do, which is nice because i'm a freelancer and things tend to slow down in the summer, so the more work i get now, the less i have to worry about later [in theory].
  • i started watching the handmaid's tale. i was a little hesitant because i didn't actually like the novel very much; i found it heavy-handed and predictable. the series relies on the novel for about 80% of its first season plot but i nevertheless find it spellbinding. where i felt that the novel beat readers with its politics, the series does a better job of connecting with the humanity in the midst of politics. i'm dithering on starting season two because i am a serial binger and once i know damn well that starting the second season will soon consign me to the horrors of having to wait a week between episodes. i don't know if i can handle that.
  • i've been cooking more. i'm always the person who takes care of food preparation in the house, but lately, i've been making a particular effort to cook from scratch and to cook more complicated things from scratch. because isn't it always better to know every ingredient that goes into your face? also, this blog's longest standing tradition means that i'm going to have to start thinking about cooking a lot more in the very near future.
  • i've been moping over the fact that swansea city got relegated. many thanks to those who sent me messages of support. 
  • i got hooked on a word-finding game that gives dom and i hours of amusement, if only as we uncover its puritanical linguistic judgments: it will accept neologisms like "tech" or "alt" but will reject words like "slut" or "cunt". slightly less offensive terms like "tit" or "poo" or "pee" are acceptable, but it will count them as extra words, never seen within the crossword you're given to solve. 
  • i've been reading more. that's right, i've been cheating on y'all with books. i don't get as much time as i'd like to just unwind with a good book, but i've been making a point to take what time i've been able to in the last few weeks because in order to keep smart, interesting stuff coming out of me, i have to make sure that there's an adequate supply of smart, interesting stuff going into me. i'm currently in the final chapters of robert kaplan's balkan ghosts. as a person who's fascinated by cultural crucibles like the balkans, it's a little ridiculous that i'm only getting around to reading this now. but i'm lazy as a general rule and i'm also someone who will waver senselessly over purchasing a specific book now or later. so many thanks to the friend who bought me the book [as well as eastward to tartary, which is next on the reading list] and thus pushing me from "i definitely need to read this at some point" to "read the fucking book already, kate". 

but amidst all of that, i've still been making time for my daily language learning activities. indeed, i'm currently riding a streak of well more than five hundred days on duolingo [which is just the amount that i've wracked up since losing a streak of 275 days a couple of years back. damn me straight to hell.] duo remains my primary hub of linguistic knowledge. my only one, really, since i've not responded well to the systems of other sites. duolingo has implemented an astonishing number of changes lately and it's difficult to say how well they've been received. the most shocking/ interesting component of the changes is that they've abanadoned the spaced repetition learning system that made them both famous and credible. without getting into a lot of detail, i've found that the new system has driven me to do more work each day, but i can't say if it's making me learn more.

but the most important thing that i've noticed, which is what relates to the title of this post even though i've forced you to read through all my blah-blah to get here is this: i've recently started dreaming in multiple languages. i can't swear that this is the first time this kind of thing has happened, but i do know that it's something that's happened a lot more lately. in the last few weeks, i've found myself in dreamland, stuck in situations where i have to speak, or at least understand, different languages. most recently, i dreamt of having to interpret the words of someone speaking russian. numerous times, i've found myself muddling through spanish as a listener and speaker. however the language that appears to me most frequently when i've headed off to dreamland is italian. i have no idea why that is. interestingly, although i initially found some of the grammar complicated compared to french or spanish, i've noticed that i've retained more of italian than i have of other languages. my brain is able to access its italian knowledge farmore easily than it can any of the other languages i've attempted. i'm not exposed to it more than others. i haven't worked harder at it. but my brain has clearly bonded with italian. it is a lovely language after all.

and therefore, my brain has repeatedly chosen to dream short passages in italian. in fact, the dreams that i've had have relied on my ability to understand and speak the language and when i've awoken, i've been able to recall both what was said to me and how i [properly] responded. i've no idea why it's italian that my brain has chosen, but there you are.

as amazing as it is to experience dreaming in these other languages, there is one thing that completely mystifies me: despite more than a dozen years of french instruction in school and despite living in a french-speaking city for more than fifteen years, i have never once had a dream [or even part of a dream] in french. what the hell is my mind even doing?

so that's what's been happening with me.

i'll be communicating more frequently, i swear. 


as long as you're here, why not read more?

white trash

yes, my lovelies, i have returned from the dead, at least for the time it takes me to write this post. this is not just another piece of observational drivel about how i haven't been taking care of the blog lately, although i clearly haven't. on that front, though, the principal cause of my absence has actually been due to me trying to get another, somewhat related project, off the ground. unfortunately, that project has met with some frustrating delays which means that anyone who follows this blog [perhaps there are still a few of you who haven't entirely given up] would understandably be left with the impression that i'd simply forsaken more like space to marvel at the complexity of my own belly button lint. [it's possible you had that impression even before i disappeared.]

ok, enough with that. i have a subject i wanted to discuss with you, in the sense that i will want and encourage you to respond with questions, concerns and criticism in the comments or by em…

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about a hundred years ago, i remember having a partner who told me that, rather than writing the sort of ambiance-oriented crap [he didn't say crap, i'm saying it] that i was naturally driven to write, i should just compose something like the harry potter books. this wasn't out of any sense of challenging me to do new things but because of the desperate hope that my love of writing could be parlayed into something profitable.

my reaction at the time was "i just can't". and that was honestly how i felt because i didn't believe that that kind of story was in me. for the record, i still don't think that anything like the potter-hogwarts universe is in me. i'm not a fan of fantasy literature generally speaking and i feel like there's a richer experience to be examined in looking at our experience as regular humans being part of the rational, limited, everyday world and at the same time being able to feel connected to something that, for lack of a…

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…