readingredhead: (Earth)
Back when I still thought I was going to be moving out of current apartment, my mom and aunt (her sister) planned a trip to New York to help with that move; since I ended up staying here, their trip was spent mostly (finally) transforming this apartment into a home. LOTS of cleaning, organizing, and buying of things has somehow done just that. They left this morning and left me feeling like I'm living in an entirely new apartment. It probably doesn't hurt that the roommate is gone until mid-August and the girl she's sub-letting to is very kind and also very clean! At some point later I may actually finally post pictures of my room because it actually finally looks like a place I'm planning on living in for a while...something it never really managed to do during most of the past nine months.

It was great to have Mom and my aunt here to visit -- I love them to pieces and they're two of the most kind and caring people I know, and I really do miss them now that they're gone -- but it was also good to spend most of today being incredibly lazy and watching cartoons on my new TV. (Yes, that's right, I now have a TV! No cable, but really, who needs that when you have the internet and can connect your laptop to the TV?) I'm justifying the laziness because for no reason I can discern, my voice has almost vanished. My throat doesn't hurt or anything, I just can't produce speech that sounds even vaguely human. I suspect it's from all the dust and cleaning chemicals kicked up around here over the past few days (it started two days ago) but whatever the cause, it's starting to bug me, even though I don't even have anyone around now to talk to!

That last bit will be changing tomorrow afternoon, though, when [livejournal.com profile] octavius_x and her awesome friend show up! They're crashing here for a few nights on their way elsewhere and I'm looking forward to gallivanting about the city with them and eating and drinking and SHOPPING. I am just hoping that my voice returns before they arrive because I plan on doing a great deal of talking and it would be a shame if my body got in the way of that.

Then as soon as they leave, pre-travel packing and panicking will commence! I leave New York for London June 11, I leave London for Norway June 20, and I leave Norway to come back home on June 29. Summer school French will commence almost immediately thereafter (July 2 or thereabouts) and I will actually start looking over that scholarly list of "things to do this summer" which I've basically been neglecting in my current academic detox. 

BUT before all that happens I will be back in London -- for the first time in two years! -- where I will be staying with [livejournal.com profile] lazyclaire and [livejournal.com profile] apotropaios and seeing all kinds of other awesome London people (including hopefully [livejournal.com profile] carawj , [personal profile] cosmic_llin , [livejournal.com profile] jenepel , [livejournal.com profile] ladyvivien , [livejournal.com profile] mini_hannah , and [livejournal.com profile] silly_cleo -- if any of you are reading this you should tell me your work schedules so I can figure out when we can hang out!), with special guest appearance by non-Londoner but equally awesome [personal profile] oliviacirce ! I am dreadfully afraid already about having to leave this place I haven't even gotten back to yet, but I'm trying not to let that do me in. And it's probably good for me that I won't be going straight home from London, but rather onward to Norway, where I'll be reuniting with friends I made in Berkeley and haven't seen in over a year (one of whom is actually Norwegian and with whom I'll be staying, the other of whom is also American and just visiting), and where I'll get to fall in love with a new set of places and leave my heart behind me all over again. This is the curse and the privilege of travel, you can't have one without the other, and despite the pain it's always worth it.

And to be fair -- although I'll always long for those places I'm not, New York isn't exactly a shabby spot to be coming home to! I realize more and more every day how much I love this city, and how deeply I care for some of the people I've met here, and how excited I am at the prospect of all of the people I'll get to meet, and all the exploring I'll get to do, and even just those lazy summer days I'll get to spend reading in the park in the shade or having impassioned conversations about young adult fantasy novels, because I have found people to do these things with! I mean. I spent two consecutive days last week doing almost nothing but encountering awesome fictions (ranging from The Avengers to Young Wizards) and then talking about them with wonderful people, shoving aside that niggling feeling that there was something more "productive" I ought to have been doing, because this is summer and there is sun outside and grass was made for lying in.

So here's to summer and to travel and to coming home again (and maybe coming home at last). 
readingredhead: (Fear for Courage)
Can't tell if I am prematurely freaking out about the amount of work I have to do in the next six weeks, or if I really ought to be terrified of the MA essay, two seminar papers, short paper, and final exam I have to write between now and my birthday. Probably a little terror is healthy at this point.

It's good because I've given myself some time to relax, both over spring break and over this past week. I went to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games last night with a group of awesome friends, and it was so nice to chill and to talk about books with people who are not going to ask where your argument situates you within the critical tradition. (Though because we were near the front of the line for our 12:07 showing, and the earlier showing's lines were all inside, we actually got asked fairly intelligent questions by a Good Morning America camerawoman and I may have gone off on a bit of a spiel about dystopian fiction and the politics of visibility in an age where mass media /advertising is predominantly visual...and may also have mentioned the relevance of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon to the construction of the Hunger Games arena. Though that was in a different conversation.)

The film was also really good. I can't tell yet if it was good as a film in its own right (though I suspect it is), but it is without a doubt one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen. I suspect part of this has to do with the fact that my attachment to the book is more to do with concept than execution -- I have some stylistic issues with Suzanne Collins' writing -- but the things that irked me (ex. the way she handled point of view, big info-dump at the beginning of the first novel, occasionally clunky exposition in general) are things that movies can actually do better than print. Or if not better than at least easier. 

My younger sister and her friend are going to be in town on their spring break and staying with me for the next four days -- their flight lands at 5:30am tomorrow! -- so although they can get along without me, I miss my sister and might not get to see her again until August so I want to spend as much time with her as I can, certainly to the detriment of my homework. And then right after she leaves, [livejournal.com profile] alexandria_skye is going to be in town and we are going to celebrate our mutual geekery with a night out at The Way Station! (For non-NY geeks, that's the steampunk bar with the TARDIS.) So I'm looking forward to all of this but also wary of how quickly my work will pile up and attempt to eat me. 

Speaking of which, I should probably get back to that whole "reading old books" thing, since it's plausible that I can make my way through more of Clarissa and also some early modern scientific writing before I go to sleep.
readingredhead: (Fear for Courage)
Now, I'm no political analyst and I don't read the papers as often as I should, nor have I actually been down to Wall Street because dear god school is killing me, but I live here (where "here" is both the United States in general and New York City specifically) and I figure I might as well throw my two cents in.

A lot of people don't understand what these protests are about. They talk about how untenable it is to be united against something instead of fighting for something. But the thing that strikes me the most about this style of protest is that it opens up a dialogue -- not just a dialogue in the media, but a dialogue between and among protesters. It gets all the people most involved and puts them physically in the same place as one another. The great thing about the "Arab Spring" occupy movements was the way in which the tent cities that sprang up allowed for protesters to have discussions with fellow protesters, who may have had very different reasons for being there and very different priorities when it came to reconstruction.

People talk about "grassroots political movements" but mostly what they mean is that some politician with his team of political advisors has created a plan that he will then do his best to turn into a popular slogan. The plan is disseminated by the people, among the people, but it is not ultimately a plan that has been built by the people. When representative democracy in the capitols and in city halls fails, those citizens who care will find democracy on the streets. They will build their own plans from the ground up, and they will work to implement them. And they will work all the harder because these are plans that they have created, based on what they want, not on what someone else thinks they want.

And yes, this is untenable because not everyone wants the same things. At some point there will have to be compromise. But this way, that compromise can be thought through literally "on the ground" rather than by politicians, who have different criteria for compromise than the average person. Even if the proposals generated by the Occupy movement are not taken up, they are important, because they have been produced and consolidated in a truly unique way. To me, this is a significant factor that can't be overlooked.

I will now end with a relevant (though out of context) Mario Savio quote:

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."
readingredhead: (Reading)
Prepare reading material: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel in paperback (200 pages in, I have just met Jonathan Strange) and Gail Carriger's Changeless on my iPad, courtesy of New York Public Library's ebook rental system.

Download incredibly relevant fanfiction to iPad: two long-ish Young Wizards fics, one in which our favorite wizards deal with an earthquake, another in which they tackle a hurricane. (For the curious, the hurricane story is also a Regency AU and thus required reading.)

Download "A Good Man Goes to War." Watch in preparation for "Let's Kill Hitler." Cross fingers that power will be up and running long enough to download "Let's Kill Hitler" once it's aired. Consider livestreaming.

Put finishing touches to reading nook, which did not exist this time yesterday but now consists of rug, lamp, comfy chair, and pillow. Place flashlight, candles, and lighter nearby, just in case.

Turn AC on lower than usual so that in case of power outage my death from excessive heat and humidity will be postponed. Close all windows.

Fill most cup-like things with water. Refrain from filling up bathtub in hopes of being allowed one last shower before water is in danger of being shut off. But fill mixing bowls just in case.

Go out and spend $20 on a seriously massive brunch, as it may be the last delicious food to be had in a while. (For those interested, it included challah bread french toast with citrus butter, bacon, and homefries.) Take home half of it because it was too big to eat in one sitting, even while reading leisurely.

Look forward to the possibility of cooking with gas stove during a blackout. Be content to have saved some of the dessert crepe batter that was prepared last night. Nothing says "safe and sound" like sugar crepes in a blackout...especially if chocolate and peanut butter are also involved. Which they very well could be.

Charge extra computer battery. Charge phone and iPad. Calculate how much online time can be achieved without power between these three devices, provided the phone lines aren't down. Determine that 20 hours between laptop & iPad should be more than enough for stormbound entertainment, not to mention the 600 pages of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel which have yet to be read.

Call parents and grandmother. Assure them that yes, I will live, no, I won't go outside, and yes, I will call them whenever possible, but no, they should not worry if I don't, because New Yorkers are silly and crashed the phone lines over the (totally minor) earthquake last week, so this hurricane might take them down for a while.

Keep calm and carry on.

(This might be the point to say, I am seriously not fazed by this, and though I would possibly prefer not to be spending the next two days alone, I don't actually know anyone in this city who I would particularly want to spend them with, and do not mind a chance to catch up on my reading.)
readingredhead: (Adventure)

I'm sitting in an airport Starbucks, looking like a hipster with my coffee and my iPad and my plaid flannel shirt, and pondering the fact that in a couple of hours I'll be getting on a plane and I'll wake up in New York City.

The summer went by fast, except for the parts that went by slow. I did a lot with my time -- almost as much as I hoped, perhaps more than I expected. I wrote and rewrote more of my novel-in-progress, The Printer's Daughter. I discovered exactly how exhausting it is to work something like full time on a novel project, especially in the revision stage, and a lot of the work I did was reworking and making note of the things I need to add or change, but in the end I know this is all valuable information, and I am dedicated to the process...I just know that it may take a while, and I accept that. It surprises me that my not-entirely-conscious realization that pursuing a career as a professor is more important to me than pursuing a career as a writer has actually made me more keen on (eventually) getting this novel written.

In addition to working on original fiction, I somehow got a weird fanfiction boost and wrote more fic over the past summer than I think I have in the past few years. I also made a semi-conscious decision not to be ashamed about fandom. I'm not even one of the crazier elements of it, and it seems silly to be ashamed of something that makes me happy. I've never been deeply enough involved in fandom for it to frustrate or anger me; I've never been caught up in fandom wank. It probably helps that my main fandom generally believes that being angry with people speeds up the heat death of the universe! (Young Wizards fandom, I love you, never change.)

I didn't read all the books on my list -- I didn't even read a significant portion of them -- but I did read a lot, and a lot of what I read was good. I especially loved stuff by Holly Black and Scott Westerfeld, suggesting that a) Twilight notwithstanding, YA is far from dead and b) I should probably read it more often...at least, the bits of it that Rebecca recommends!

Surprisingly (for me at least), I really got into yoga. My younger sister had taken a few classes and encouraged me to go with her, and I while it certainly isn't a replacement for other more intense forms of exercise, I really appreciate the way it focuses on linking your mind and your movements, so that you're more thoughtful about your workout. Even doing relatively intense yoga leaves me feeling refreshed and relaxed when I'm done, and i think some of the things I learned on the mat have an important place in the rest of my life. Yoga is about letting go of whatever isn't serving you, about honoring your body and its limitations. It's about coming from where you are, instead of where you wish you were or where you think you ought to be. When I get to New York, finding a place to do yoga is high on my list of things to do -- right after I get my New York Public Library card!

I set out with the intention of feeling an academic detox this summer, and it worked. I've done a lot of being lazy and I'm ready for what's next.

I oscillate between being overcome with the amount of work I know I have to do in the next weeks -- move into apartment, buy supplies, sign lease, etc. -- and being delighted by the idea of finally taking that next step in my career/life plan. For a girl who still believes that the world is so big and she is so small, I'm surprisingly ready to have a place to call "home" for the next six years. I don't know if anywhere other than New York would make me feel this way. I only hope that I'm right about the city that so many people dream about...especially since, until about March, it wasn't a place that I specifically dreamed about. But I feel, right now, like these hopes will be met and exceeded. I feel like I'm going somewhere new, but also somewhere that will one day be home.

So, while I'd rather be traveling by TARDIS, I suppose I'll make do with a plane, as long as it gets me there.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

readingredhead: (Grin)
When I've responded to all of the prompts I've been given in the (fan)fiction drabble meme I posted, I'll put up a post with links to all of my responses, but for now I just wanted to tell you all that you should read the lovely and thoughtful Doctor/River fic that [livejournal.com profile] alexandria_skye wrote for me in response to the same meme!

(Also, the obligatory parenthetical about how I leave for New York in three days and oh my god oh my god oh my god. More angsting to follow.)
readingredhead: (Muse)
I got into Columbia!!!

(more to be added once I come down from the clouds)

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