cringe, cringe, cringe

So, I was thinking about starting off this blog post with an entry from one of my old diaries.

But then I skimmed through one, from my first year of university, and a teeny bit of bile rose in my throat. My stomach folded in on itself, I was cringing so hard. I literally could not find a single entry I would not be embarrassed to have read by strangers, let alone my parents.

It is so embarrassing to realize that for an entire year, when I was supposed to be thinking about learning and big ideas and all that stuff, I was thinking pretty much non-stop about boys. Sigh. So glad I owe so much money in student loans.

See, I'm back from Europe, which accounts for my hiatus. Plus, I've been reading a book I can barely stand, so I've not really been moved to post anything at all....

But then, I saw this article in Saturday's edition of the Edmonton Journal -- specifically, in the youth-geared ed section.

The year was 1987, the boy's name was Rob, and 13-year-old Ingrid Wiese had some pressing concerns.
"He kisses weird," she wrote in her diary. "I just hope it doesn't stick and I don't end up kissing like that forever."
Twenty years later, Wiese hauled the diary out of storage and read it to a bar full of strangers just for laughs.
"Cringe readings," these exercises are called, and they are growing in popularity....
(Samantha Gross, The Associated Press)

Always eager to share my embarrassing stories -- the guy at a high school dance who mysteriously blew in my ear, the university fellow I kissed after he showed me he could drink from two bottles of beer at once, my former roommate's ex-boyfriend who used to sneak around our apartment, peeking around corners instead of entering rooms -- you'd think this sort of a reading would be my thing.

And absolutely, if one's happening in Edmonton, I'll be there.

But I'm not setting foot on that stage. It's too much. Sure, funny for others. However, I still feel those waves of insecurity that could sweep through my life at 16 and hold me hostage. Everyone does. The difference is you learn to handle it.... but I'm not sure I'm ready for others to laugh at it yet. Mostly I really do want to reach back and hug the girl I was, and the girls she hung out with -- a sentiment echoed, in Gross's article, by Wiese.

By the way, the book I'm trying to get through?

Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

In the edition I'm reading, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, it took 61 pages to meet Anna Karenina. Who, apparently, can extinguish her eyes.

I find the prose painful at times, and I can't decide if that's because I'm not reading it in Russian. And, of course, the book is just very long. I can't seem to care about any of the characters, especially Anna and Vronsky, the (I assume) ill-fated illicit lovers. They're both so bloody self-centred, completely uncaring of anyone around them.

One of my best friends, who just finished reading the classic this spring, promises this:

I found that Anna herself was one of the least developed characters in the book, and so really the best part is Levin. The title is misleading, because he's the real hero of the book. Trust me, it gets good. Also, because it's so long, by the time it finishes you don't really want it to end, like a TV series or something (although you do because you want to get back to real life).

Hmph. He's probably right. Must finish the book.

Besides, is there any better post-coitus description than this?

That which for almost a year had constituted the one exclusive desire of Vronsky's life, replacing all former desires; that which for Anna had been an impossible, horrible, but all the more enchanting dream of happiness -- this desire had been satisfied. Pale, his lower jaw trembling, he stood over her and pleaded with her to be calm, himself not knowing why or how.
"Anna! Anna!" he kept saying in a trembling voice. "Anna, for God's sake!..."
But the louder he spoke, the lower she bent her once proud, gay, but now shame-stricken head, and she became all limp, falling from the divan where she had been sitting to the floor at his feet; she would have fallen on the carpet if he had not held her.
"My God! Forgive me!" she said, sobbing, pressing his hands to her breast.

Wow. How romantic.

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