Friday, March 26, 2010

Annotations

Hello, Internet! How've you been? I've been distracted. There's just not enough time in the world.

I've been busy, kinda. And sick, some. Mostly I'm just tired.

I had this other little project on for a while — Bookdrum. Have you heard about Bookdrum? It's a depository of multimedia annotations on hundreds of novels. Bookdrum's set up to integrate images, music, maps, video, etc, so it can provide a richer experience than straight-up text summaries. I was invited to participate, and it seemed like a good idea and one novel immediately came to mind, so I jumped on the opportunity to mark it up. Has anyone contributed to this project?

I don't get why it's a drum. Perhaps definition 5d of Merriam-Webster comes closest: "a disk-shaped magazine for an automatic weapon." Nothing else much seems to fit as well as this, although its hard to attribute a shape to web-space.

Anyway, I worked on annotating (for lack of a better way to describe it) The Razor's Edge, by W Somerset Maugham, a book that I feel peculiarly bonded to. And a marvelous experience it was.

I realize how much I accept as given, when I read, being too lazy to understand it. For example, vocabulary. One component of the book profile is a glossary. This made me consider, as I read, whether I fully knew what was being stated. So much of my comprehension depends on context, and it's quite humbling to identify all that you don't know with certainty. But now I can tell you all about the dresses Isabel wore, and where Elliott got his shirts, and how Larry's interest in the mystics is foreshadowed in his reading William James's Principles of Psychology, and what paintings Louisa had on her walls. And the scenes are richer for it, and the characters loaded with meaning. Maugham is a bloody genius, and so underrated. Though I suppose I might say this of any author I put to a similar degree of scrutiny.

(I notice that no one took on High Fidelity, and I think it would be a blast to work on all those musical references!)

Well, right; I knew of this project before Christmas, but then there was Christmas, what with the shopping and drinking and travelling, and then catching up on work, and then I had to go to Cuba. Fortunately, the Bookdrum people extended their deadline, because then I was sick for a whole weekend, and I had something else to do. But then I worked really, really hard on it for about a week and a half. And I was pretty proud of it. Only I'm still not done! And I haven't bothered to do much about it this last month. Where does the time go?

Another crunch at work. And this vicious cold that won't go away (how can so much mucus even fit inside my head?).

J-F was away for over a week, so that meant not being able to say would you mind picking up the kid tonight cuz I'm running a bit late at work, or do you think you could walk the kid to school this morning cuz I really need to just sit here and drink my coffee for a few more minutes. And for some reason, I don't quite understand why, it meant undertaking projects that involved a deeper level of involvement, like finally opening that kit she got for her birthday and making sand drawings, or shopping for vegetables and prepping them and chop, chop, chopping them to make potato salad like mom's, which may not sound like a big deal, but with a 7-year-old it's a day long feat to boil the carrots, and chop the radishes and the pickles and the this and the that and finally to have a meal of it. Plus the need to revisit some Doctor Who episodes. All of which meant quiet was a scarce commodity, so when it came, I wrapped it up and took it to bed with me.

Ah, to curl up in bed with a book instead of the laptop. And in this way I devoured that Fred Vargas book and then The Girl Who Played with Fire. And then I found much-needed stillness in The Winter Vault, about which I have a whole lot to say yet.

Did you follow Canada Reads? Some years are better than others, and this was a good year. I actually hadn't read any of this years's contenders, but was rooting for Nikolski based on what little knew of it, and Yay! it won! Thanks to the fine folks at CBC, and for whatever contest it was that I entered, I know have a full set of this year's featured books. I've already started Nikolski, and lo and behold! it's the name of a place, not a person!

Helena's doing great, by the way. She had a read-a-thon at school today, which entailed the wearing of pyjamas and the bringing of slippers and pillows and bears and the building of forts. And some reading too. I left for work feeling very jealous. I've been a bit negligent, I realize, in guiding her reading. She's much more comfortable in French than in English, but she's steeped in English books at home. So I don't want to force the English, and I'd like to encourage the French, but I'm ill-equipped to do so. I spent half an hour at lunch looking at French primary readers and didn't do so well at understanding them. If you have any suggestions for French books suitable for first or second graders, let me know. (Apart for Roch Carrier's Le Chandail.)

The other evening Helena told me she thought we ought to be listening to music. Rock and roll, she suggested. So I put on The Clash, and we danced. Then The Clash brought out their horn section, and Helena brought out her air trombone, and I thought, rock 'n' roll, baby!

Something made her cry tonight. I don't remember what it was — nothing serious, which is why I chided her gently for crying at all, and she said the most interesting thing. "But it's not me that's crying; the crying happens all be itself."

I should go to bed. I haven't been sleeping well. Last night I dreamed I was taking care of my sister's cat at her place across town, although in reality she has no cat and lives miles further away than across town. I kinda stayed at her place for a few days, and forgot all about my own cat at my own home, and when I remembered, I felt awfully guilty, and then I carried Rosie around with me everywhere, even to work, only she kept shrinking. Someone offered me a ride home, and we made a couple stops, but then I freaked out because it was 6:30 and I'd totally forgotten I was supposed to pick the kid up at school.

Are everyone's dreams like this? I mean, banal yet stressful. I don't generally remember my dreams, so when I do, I spend way to much time thinking about the phenomenon.

OK, that's it, I'm really going to bed now. Maybe I'll manage to read a couple pages before my eyes fall shut.

G'night, Internet. I'll write more soon.
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