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 [ 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 [ profile] lazyclaire and [ profile] apotropaios and seeing all kinds of other awesome London people (including hopefully [ profile] carawj , [personal profile] cosmic_llin , [ profile] jenepel , [ profile] ladyvivien , [ profile] mini_hannah , and [ 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: (London)
Life continues apace over in the world of academia. I turned in my MA essay today (I'm not overflowingly proud of it but I do think it's a solid, well-argued, potentially important piece of work), which means I only have three major assignments between now and May 9, and then FREEDOM. Two of those assignments are 18-20 pg seminar papers, both of which will be touching in one way or another on Clarissa, which I have ALSO finished. (In related news, I'm pretty sure I've told everyone I know that I want a t-shirt that says "I survived Clarissa -- not even she could manage that!" except I suspect if I actually got one Richardson would personally return from the dead to haunt me.)

Aside from school, I have had a surprisingly busy social calendar lately? I mean, apparently I have friends in this city?! Crazy talk. So there was that one time when Christina and I stalked Doctor Who filming and saw Matt Smith and Karen Gillan doing a lot of running (and they waved at us!), a birthday party for [personal profile] oliviacirce at which among other things I discovered that I may want a line from Milton's Lycidas tattooed on my foot ("But not the praise"), karaoke with friends at the bar with the TARDIS (and I actually sang in front of strangers!), and lunch plus Clarissa conversation with a fellow survivor today. And tonight there will be post-MA-essay drinks with cohort mates, followed by a birthday dinner tomorrow, and then Jordy is in town on Thursday! 

I'm also starting to realize how soon I'll be headed to London and Norway, and I am SO EXCITED. It's been too long since I traveled somewhere and had adventures (not that adventures cannot be had without travel, but travelling adventures have a different flavor, and it's one that I miss). In case you missed it the last time I listed dates, I'll be in London June 12-19 and Norway June 20-29 (not that anyone in Norway is on my flist, but in case you were curious!). At some future point I will send Londoners a humble plea for couch space, but I gather that there is moving and the like going on at present, and that life is stressful in general, and I would not want to add to that!

One month from today, I will have an MA in English. Two months from today, I will be in London (or you know potentially elsewhere in the United Kingdom if I do day-trippy things! like walking/hiking places!). It's just getting through the intervening time that will require some finessing, but thankfully it's actually all starting to look almost manageable. (There will be a post later about how, in one of my papers, I'm essentially arguing that the "participatory novel culture"--which is my fancy terminology for "fans and fanfic writers"--centered around Richardson's novels in the mid-eighteenth century ought to be read, not as unprofessional fannish effusion, but as a strand of novel theory in its own right which can teach us a great deal about how the novel as an evolving genre was perceived by its readers and its writers. Yes you heard me right. FANDOM. IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. And my professor is excited about me writing this! And rec'd a book about Janeites as potentially relevant to my methodological interests! ACADEMIA: YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT.)

Now I should probably stop procrastinating and tackle the day's most difficult dilemma (which is, of course, what do I make for dinner?).
readingredhead: (Write)
It's that time of year again...novel-writing time! This year's novel -- presently titled Chasing Ghosts, though we all know these things are subject to change -- is managing to combine lots of things I find totally fascinating (18th century London, woman writers, the French Revolution, cross-dressing, modern academia, etc.) and I am actually very excited about it, but because of the novel's structure I sort of need to flesh out at least some of what's going to happen.

The novel alternates between a present and a past timeline, as a modern PhD candidate and an armchair historian-cum-medium (as in “talks to ghosts” medium—yes, it’s that kind of story) work together to discover new information about a (totally made-up) late-eighteenth-century writer and radical intellectual figure, Dorian Bell. He lived in London from ~1780-1790, starting as a publisher’s apprentice but eventually writing essays, poems, and a novel or two, while circulating at the edges of the group that contained Mary Wollstonecraft, William Blake, Thomas Paine, etc. And as it turns out, “he” was also not actually a man, but a woman by the name of Dorothea who ran away from home in north Yorkshire and ended up spending the next ten years of her life cross-dressing in London. But this fact remains unknown to 21st century scholars…until Ellie’s dissertation advisor tells her she has no choice but to consult a medium (Ben) before submitting her finished dissertation and completing her PhD requirements. Together, Ellie and Ben slowly unearth clues to Dorian/Dorothea’s past, culminating with the discovery that she was in fact a woman.

The problem is, since Ellie and Ben will be finding out about Dorian/Dorothea’s life out of order, I need to know the entire progression of her story before I start writing if I’m going to appropriately pace the clues! I have a basic outline of what happens to her, but I haven’t made a lot of decisions yet as to background motivation or reasoning.

Now here's where you come in: some questions for my dear readers )

It's a long post so I won't make it any longer, except to mention that this is cross-posted on the NaNo forums in case you wanted to reply there instead, and to say thanks in advance for ANYTHING you have to suggest!
readingredhead: (Write)
Maybe I'm an idiot for thinking that my first semester in one of the world's most competitive English PhD programs is not the time to be trying to write 50,000 words...but then I guess I'm an idiot because I have done this for SIX YEARS STRAIGHT now, and I'm not going to let this be the year that gets in the way.

I am also really, REALLY excited about the story I want to write. Even though I know basically nothing about how it's going to play out...! In my head, it is sort of like A. S. Byatt's Possession but with 18th-century writers, meets Neverwhere but with ghosts, meets Leviathan but substitute "being a part of London's radical literary culture" for "flying."

The story is set primarily in London, but oscillates between present-day and the mid- to late-18th century (that's 1770s-90s to those of you who don't think in centuries). In the modern day storyline, the main character is a female scholar working on her PhD dissertation about a second-tier 18th-century writer who's more notable for the breadth of his literary endeavors than for his impact or success in any of them. He was a poet, an essayist, a novelist, a reviewer, and a small-scale publisher -- and while his own work isn't respected particularly highly, he was certainly part of radical London literary-political circles in the 1780s and 90s (he knew William Blake, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, etc.).

The twist is that in this scholar's modern London, technologies have been developed that allow researchers to actually see (albeit briefly and indistinctly) into the past. These technologies only work in places like London, that have a "deep history" of human habitation, though no one's quite sure why this is. Theorists suspect that history -- the pressure of so many humans in one space -- somehow deforms spacetime in a way that makes it more susceptible to further deformation, so that impressions are tied to a specific place and stratified by the time when they were deposited. But this is not important to our scholarly main character. In fact, it's something of a nuisance -- because the English department is beginning to catch on to the potential "real world relevance" that this kind of "ghost research" could lend the academy, and our main character is forced to go looking for any information she might be able to find out about the literary figure she's chosen to study, when really she's not a fan of new historicism and would like to be left to her close-readings, thank you very much.

Thus, she runs into a secondary main character -- a man around her age (mid-twenties) who's lived in London all his life, which (for reasons that theorists still aren't clear about) makes him particularly susceptible to the impressions left by the past in the present. More importantly, our lady scholar can actually afford his rates on her miserable grant money (because people who can use the technology to sense out these "ghosts" have quickly turned the whole thing into a business). He's something of an armchair historian, and she resents his sense that he "gets" history just as much as she resents the fact that she's having to pay him for his services. But she stops hating him entirely as the two of them work together to unravel the history of this 18th-century figure, who as it turns out, has more secrets than either of them had bargained for...last but not least being that "he" was actually a woman, living as a man so that she could live by her pen without bringing disgrace upon her family, who she ran away from when she was sixteen. (This last bit will be very slowly teased out over the course of the novel; the reader won't discover that "he" is a "she" until at least two thirds of the way through.)

Now, it would sound like I totally know what I'm talking about, but really I made most of that up in the last ten minutes. And while I have the big-picture outlines of the story, there are lots of smaller details that I need to figure out...not the least of which being names for all of these people...and you know maybe a title or something. (I just had a thought that it would be cool if the title of MC's dissertation were also the title of this book, but what she would call the dissertation, I have no idea.) So, comments and suggestions more than welcome! I kind of want it to have some variation on/synonym for "ghost" in the title but at present this is all I know.
readingredhead: (London) articulated in a medieval manuscript fragment of Tristran and Isolt:

"London is a very noble city; there is none better in Christendom or of any higher worth, of greater renown, or better furnished with well-to-do people. For they much love honour and munificence and bear themselves very gaily. London is the mainstay of England -- there is no need to seek beyond it. At the foot of its wall there flows the Thames, by which merchandise comes from every land where Christian merchants go. Its men are very clever."

I'm willing to support about 90% of this as incontrovertible fact.
readingredhead: (London)

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I'm not sure this is even a question. 

I had typed up a lovely and angst-ridden couple of paragraphs about London and the United Kingdom and how I miss them (inspired by a re-watch of Series Four of Doctor Who, which just culminated with "Journey's End," which will ALWAYS make me sob like a frightened child separated from her mum), but then LJ ate those, so I'll take it as a sign to stop my whinging, be pleased -- in fact, delighted -- with the world that spreads itself out before me, and shove all the "far away can bite me" angst back into that little tiny corner of my brain (or is it heart?) that it has colonized and will not return.

(But seriously. I should never watch "Journey's End." Ever.)
readingredhead: (London)
Applications to Masters programs at Queen Mary and Sussex University officially submitted. I'll find out about acceptances to those in a month or so, but I'm not too worried about that end -- my former professor from Queen Mary basically told me I'd get in, and he's part of the teaching staff for the MA I'm applying to. No, the only real worry (if that's the right word, which I mostly think it isn't) is about Fulbright, which I might not hear back about until graduation anyway. Because getting into QMUL or Sussex doesn't matter if I don't also get the Fulbright.

On another related note, apparently I'll start hearing back about PhD acceptances in the end of February instead of the end of March as I'd originally assumed. On the one hand, this is good, because it means I'll know whether I'm accepted when I go to visit schools on the east coast in March. On the other hand, GAH. The end of February is so soon. And now I can't stop thinking about it.

But at least it's all over now -- all of the applying at any rate -- and I get to just sit back and wait on the results.
readingredhead: (Reading)
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As usual, this is a question that demands multiple answers, because it's me we're talking about, and I rarely read one good book per year. But this past year, I've done a lot of re-reading (both in school and out), so my new books intake has severely dropped. Thankfully, that's what next year is for...?

I feel that in order to appropriately answer this question, I have to give three answers. Maybe four. So stick with me.

When I first saw this question, the answer that immediately sprang to mind was Possession by A. S. Byatt, in which two modern academics discover the lost letters of two (fictional) Victorian poets, and follow the literary clues therein on a detective hunt through Great Britain and parts of France. Oh, and did I mention that they may or may not have something like a love story of their own throughout? I purchased Possession from a small used-and-new independent bookstore down the street from the hotel my grandmother stayed at in London this spring (right by the British Museum, where one of the characters actually works). I began reading it on the Eurostar train from London to Paris, and finished it in a small hotel room overlooking a tiny street between the Louvre and the Opera Garnier; I read with the kind of energy that a book hadn't evoked from me in far too long. Possession felt a little bit like the story of my life-as-it-could-be told back to me as a fiction: a collection of various texts (the novel includes third-person omniscient narration, snippets of poetry and academic prose, the discovered love letters, and various other ephemera) meandering over a wider ground than entirely necessary (it's been compared to a Victorian novel), questioning and testing but ultimately affirming the relationship between literature and love.

The other important books of this year (for very different reasons!) are ones I've talked about elsewhere: Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane.

The rest of the texts I'm going to mention are very, very literary. But they're also very important. I think that Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion all belong on this list because the time I've spent with them, starting this summer with my SURF research, has really launched me into the thesis of a lifetime. Although Northanger Abbey is the only one out of these that I actually read for the first time this year, I've become increasingly close with the others, to the point where I have a bordering-on-brilliant fifteen-page Pride and Prejudice paper ready to be sent out to various graduate schools as we speak. My experience as a reader of Austen has changed so much since I was a freshman in high school disdainful of Emma, and I couldn't be happier about it. More and more, I feel like I've chosen (or been chosen by) the topic and the time period that are just right for me.
readingredhead: (London Calling)
Oh god, just got hit with the travel bug, and BAD. May have to forbid myself from looking at the photos [ profile] jayintheclouds is posting of his round-the-world trip, at least for a while -- just looking at some shots of Marseilles and knowing that someone I know is there and that I'm not only not there but also not even close to there is really depressing. I want to have a trip to plan for but the next place I'm going (aside from hopefully hopefully hopefully London to do my MA) will be Ireland with my family and we don't actually have a set YEAR for that, yet. Probably it will be after my sister graduates from college, at this rate. But that means that it's three years I have to wait through.

Of course, if I manage to get the scholarship funding I need to study in London, I could conceivably do more traveling, but both of the scholarships I'm applying for stress the fact that these scholarship programs are meant to foster US-UK communication and are not just a chance for awardees to run around Europe. At least one of them (probably both of them) restricts travel for participants, but even if it weren't in the rules that I can't spend more than a weekend out of country per month, I feel like the level of academic work I'll be engaging in will be enough to keep me primarily London-bound.

And of course this isn't a bad thing, because I have so many friends there and there are so many things to see and to do there that I haven't yet; and of course there are so many things I want to see in the United Kingdom and there are no travel restrictions on that and I would definitely be doing some serious exploring (Wales! Scotland! the west Yorkshire moors!).

But dammit if I don't just want to be on some far-off seashore, with my feet in the sand and the wind in my hair and my gaze turned to the horizon and the setting sun, listening to the way that the passersby talk in foreign tongues and the sounds slip away beneath the pulsing of the waves.
readingredhead: (Rain)
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I have a French final in an hour, so of course I'm answering this question instead of studying.

At first I looked at it and thought it would be impossible to answer -- there are so many places I love -- but then I realized that if I have to narrow it down to a single specific place, one that sticks in my memory and one that I want to return to no matter where I am in the world or how awesome my life might be at any given moment, it's probably the table by the edge of the second floor seating area at Berkeley's Cafe Milano. Between write-ins and study sessions and essay writing I probably visited at least one day a week for all of last school year, and when I think about what I miss most about Berkeley after having been in London for so long, apart from the people and the intellectual energy, this cafe is what first comes to mind. I love that it has a second story, so I can sit and sip whatever I'm drinking and look down on the people entering, distracting myself with people-watching. I love that it has a skylight, so that I can feel like I'm right in the midst of the (wonderful) Berkeley weather, be it rain or sunshine. I love that, on sunny days, they open the roof and there is nothing between me and the sky. It's so close to campus but emphatically part of a community larger than just the campus. And it makes sandwiches on some of the world's best focaccia bread. All in all, life is complete.

There are other places in the world that are more immense, more fantastical, more awe-inspiring -- Santorini's black sand beaches, the British Museum, Doe Library -- but they're not really mine the way Cafe Milano is. When I get back to Berkeley, after a full year spent away, things will be hectic at first, but eventually I'll find time to make it back to that cafe and sit with my research on the second story and bask in the warmth of the California summer sun.
readingredhead: (Professor)
This post serves three rather scanty purposes:

1. To exude glee over my finally having figured out what I'm going to write about for the first of my final essays (which is due in a week), and on top of that having figured out that it is something I am actually really interested in.

2. To make legitimate use of the (rather amazing) Doctor Who quote that titles it, because yes, I feel that smart today.

3. To make (somewhat) legitimate use of my new icon, which, while it is technically also a quote from Doctor Who (though not from the Doctor), is also a decent expression of my attitude toward life as a whole, and could probably be used retroactively as an icon for many of my past posts to great effect.

4. I lied, there is a fourth purpose: procrastination! (And to tell you that now I feel the need to possess an icon with a Dalek saying "Procrastinaaaaaate!" Oh, the unnecessary things I would do with unlimited icons...)


5. To comment on how adorable it is that British people end texts/messages with x's on a regular basis -- even if they are your lecturers. xx
readingredhead: (Default)
Really really quickpost to say I am home (well, London home), alive, now in possession of keys, and with only 26 more pages of script to write today! (Yes, I said "only." Considering how little writing I did during my trip I'm actually surprised at this.) Laundry will be done shortly and I will then also possess clean clothes! I still lack food because all I did last night was get back, make dinner (noodles are the only things still left), and catch up on Doctor Who and Glee because it was painful to go two weeks without Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. Today is going to be devoted to getting back into the swing of things around here, finishing script, and celebrating with TV if I actually get script done before midnight. Then work starts tomorrow! French exam May 4, first paper (and hardest paper, dear god why) due May 11, and then OH DEAR GOD I TURN 21 ON MAY 17. And some other crazy stuff happens in between. Still no idea what I'm doing for my birthday because I have papers due May 18, 19, and 20, but probably leaving to stay with a friend in Cheltenham for a week starting the 22nd-ish, and definitely going to be at the Hay Festival of Books on May 30 to hear Jeanette Winterson talk about Oranges are Not the Only Fruit and an awesome scholarly person talking about the juvenile works of Jane Austen. So, life goes on. Now, to laundry!
readingredhead: (Doctor What)
New Doctor Who. As I've only seen one episode it's totally possible that I will have to revoke this sentiment but something makes me doubt that, so here goes: Matt Smith has what it takes to make it. He's not David Tennant but he knows it and he's not trying to be. He's just being his own kind of Doctor and obviously having good fun with it. EDIT: Just watched second ep and while it doesn't make me like Matt Smith any more or less than I previously liked him, it does make me like Karen Gillan lots and lotses. I like that she's feisty and that it seems like, unlike previous companions, she's going to actually challenge the Doctor and argue with him and stuff. Not just sit there with puppy eyes when he's about to destroy the world and tell him to stop. I read an interview where Karen said Matt was like her annoying older brother, and I think that sort of shows in this ep, in a good way. Why do I have to be out of the country for the next one??

Torchwood. I have heard it is not on par with Doctor Who but seriously, John Barrowman. Need I say more? Also, awesome Welsh accents. I am seriously in love with the breadth and variety of British accents, and not just with that singular concept of "the British accent" (which almost always means the Oxford accent to Americans, including me before I lived here).

Changes by Jim Butcher. The most recent Dresden Files book, which just appeared in my mailbox and promises to be completely game-changing. I'm almost afraid to read it because I know I'll breeze through it in six hours and then be left waiting another year for the next one.

A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane. The most recent Young Wizards book, which also just appeared in my mailbox in the same shipment from Amazon and is only the book I have been waiting for ALL MY LIFE. Seriously. It's been FIVE YEARS since the last YW release and I've waited oh so patiently. This is worse than waiting for Harry Potter because a) there are no movies and b) the fandom is much smaller, so there are fewer people to understand your pain (however, the small-but-dedicated fandom is generally one of the things I love about YW, so I shouldn't complain). I'm definitely afraid to read this one because I have no idea how long it'll be until the next one appears, and I do not know what I will do with myself in the meantime and with the waiting. This isn't like Jim Butcher where I know he'll pop out a book a year, no sweat (which allows me to read them so quickly when they come out). Diane Duane is meant to be savored, in slow but intense portions. I would almost say it has to be read casually, except there's nothing casual about it. In fact, I don't even remember what it's like to read one of her books for the first time anymore. The last time I had that experience, I had only just gotten a livejournal and certainly didn't blog about it. I just emphatically don't want it to be gone.

Preparation for spring break trip will probably take more time/effort/energy than I give it credit for. I mean, I'm gone for 16 days which I'm spending in 5 cities in 4 countries in 2 time zones (though only one continent this time). By the end of the month I'll have seen where the Thirty Years' War started, the Cold War (symbolically) ended, the great temple to Athena was built to command an entire city, a man named Freud revolutionized our perception of selfhood, and the small Greek island immortalized courtesy of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It will be AMAZING. But try packing enough stuff for all of that in a small suitcase and you run into some issues (or at least I will...when I finally start packing the night before I leave).

Finally, it's sunny outside. Why in the world would I want to get things done when I could sit outside in the sunshine and just revel in the world being such a beautiful place?
readingredhead: (Library)
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5. Procrastination/angst at procrastination. As in, "Jeez Candace, you're already stressed out about that presentation you have to give tomorrow, but instead of getting your ass in gear you're posting a stupid LJ entry? Not cool, self. Not cool."

4. My future. This is a broad heading, including career, place of residence, love life, economic standing, graduate school applications, ability to become a published writer, etc.

3. Writing. Technically this is part of both #4 and #1 but I think it deserves its own category since it's something I do so frequently.

2. My friends and family. I spend a lot of time hanging out with them, talking to them, worrying for them, hearing their drama, etc. and so they're a pretty loud and rowdy set of voice in my head.

1. Books. I suppose this counts as cheating because I'm including both books as read for school and books as read for fun under one heading, but considering that I spend most of my time (free or otherwise) with stories, it makes sense that they'd be high up there on the list.
readingredhead: (In the Book)
So my sister is coming to visit (yay yay yay!) in almost exactly two weeks and it is going to be absolutely the most epic and awesome week of our collective young lives. There will be theatre. There will be walks in parks. There will probably be bad weather for at least four days but that's a small price to pay for living in London. There will be lots of walking, lots of use of public transportation, lots of hanging out with large groups of friendly people, and of course, there will be dancing.

However, this means that my goal is to have finished with ALL schoolwork for the remainder of March before she arrives, seeing as how I do not intend to do anything while she is here other than gallivant around London (and perhaps even further afield -- I love you, National Rail) being awesome.

Of course, this also means that the only things I actually want to do are:

1) Watch Doctor Who. How have I been obsessed with most things British and lived in London for upwards of five months without seeing this show? I have heard so much about it that even without having watched it I was capable of picking up on references and jokes made by British people about the show. This is how culturally pervasive it is. (Also, how did I not go out and watch it immediately after I discovered that the strange man who saves Dairine in the Crossings during High Wizardry is actually meant to be the Doctor? Srsly, self, keep up!)

2) Return to Epic Novel of my Past. After getting back from reading week trip I had this sudden urge to reacquaint myself with the epic fantasy trilogy that I started writing way back when I was in fifth grade and haven't actively worked on since ninth grade. I looked back at it and liked a lot of what I saw and had about a week-long burst of energy in which I realized that I need more of Azuria in my life.

3) Write my first legitimately crossover fanfic? Oh dear god yes. I place blame upon a discussion over at [ profile] myriadwords about crossovers, and more specifically upon [ profile] araine and [ profile] odette_river for having linked me to fic that is, I kid you not, Artemis Fowl/Young Wizards. More specifically said fics involve shipping of two characters who are so obviously well matched that I am being drawn into severe violations of canon, something which I usually abhor in fic and ficcing. (Let's not even talk about the part where I rarely write fic anymore and never write anything over 1000 words or that takes more than one sitting to complete. Because apparently now I do?)

I think we'll just say that my next two weeks are going to be...quite interesting...and leave it at that.
readingredhead: (Talk)
I love the sociability of the British and their tea. It's not about the whole high tea time sort of thing -- oh no -- not about going to some posh tea house in Westminster. It's about taking a break from your essay at the same time as your flatmates and all sitting in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, talking while the tea brews, sharing the milk (because when you say "tea" it means English Breakfast or Earl Gray, but is always just called "tea" with no added signifier) and talking around the kitchen table. It's about sharing your mismatched mugs with a friend who's come over for a cuppa. It's about going over to see someone to ask a small question and getting asked in for a cuppa and then not going back to your flat for a few hours because once you've been asked in for tea it becomes a chat and it's always so hard to go.

It's about the tea but not really about the tea. It's about the people you drink it with, British and otherwise. It's about being distracted from your work for five hours on a day when you didn't wake up until noon and had things you maybe should have done but it doesn't matter because you've had a cup of tea with a friend and chatted for hours and something really meaningful has happened in the process. Yes, there is something to be said for a pint at a pub with all your friends, too, but I think I'll always prefer -- even crave -- the intimacy of a shared cup of tea.

Harry asked me a while ago what it's going to be like when I go home and I said, Well, probably I'll cry a lot on both ends of it because I'll be happy to go home but sad to be leaving home. Home? he said. The people here are home now, I said, and smiled at him. He's part of it. They're all part of it. And I don't know what I'll do without them and their cups of tea, so the obvious answer is that I'll just have to keep coming back.
readingredhead: (Default)
Not much to say, other than that I've returned to my third home (first being Mission Viejo, second being Berkeley) and class starts up tomorrow. I've actually got a Monday class this semester (last semester made me lazy without them) but still nothing on Fridays, so still weekend travel! I'm looking forward to resuming my two year-long classes and starting up my two new courses for this semester, but I wish that I had just a few more days before everything got jet lag is worse than it usually is and I've been procrastinating for a while on a paper that's due on Thursday. I know that it will get done, I just can't bring myself to focus on it. Also, everyone is now back in my flat, which is great because I love hanging out with them, but also not so great because aforementioned hanging out takes up a lot of my free time, which is inconvenient when I have aforementioned essay to complete. I'm probably just going to go to sleep now (assuming this is possible, over the noise of my flatmates) and most likely wake up too early again in the morning to get to work on some of this stuff before my 10AM class.
readingredhead: (Rain)
It snowed today.

I was in my Dickens class, listening to the prof lecture about A Tale of Two Cities, when suddenly I looked out the window and big white snowflakes were just falling. I didn't pay attention for the rest of the lecture, just kept looking outside and watching it fall.

I have two more things I need to do before my semester is officially over and I can frolic in snow (sadly it appears to be slowing down now) without impunity: take French exams, and do reading for Representing London course. My French exams commence in two hours. I have a decent vocabulary but don't really know how to conjugate verbs.

I don't care.

I went ice skating the other day, and was supposed to go again tonight but the tickets for the rink by the Tower of London sold out before I could get one. I've walked up and down Oxford Circus and Regent Street and Bond Street with their Christmas lights, seen the tree in Trafalgar Square (pretty wimpy, but still a Christmas tree), had warm soup and hot chocolate, been to a 'Christmas dinner' with my flat at the local pub, and gone to a German Christmas carnival where I drank mulled wine.

This is what the holidays are supposed to be about. How in the world did I live with (relatively) warm Christmases for twenty years? Without markets and lights and seeing your breath in the morning and rain boots and twelve layers of clothing?

How did I live without London? How will I live without London? The easy answer is also the hardest: I won't. I am too in love with this place, these people, to give it up for good. I will live here again -- not just travel here, live here. I don't know how, or when, but I know that I will, that I have to. And not just because this is the most beautiful lead-up to Christmas that I've ever seen. Because this feels right, all of it, and that's not something you let yourself walk away from.
readingredhead: (Pants)
If my Representing London walking journal (also known as my mock-mock-Georgic, written entirely in heroic couplets) could contain all of the things that I have discovered while getting pleasantly lost on Wikipedia and related sites, it would have to include:

--Norse mythology, particularly the "World Serpent"
--popular art created in response to the London Underground map
--discussion of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's book Good Omens
--discussion of Neil Gaiman's book Neverwhere
--G. K. Chesterton
--the ouroborous
--Mornington Crescent
--Circle Line parties
--chocolate-covered almonds from Trader Joe's (I'm eating one right now!)
--the dangers of copyright infringement

And that's before I throw in the French theorists who are actually relevant to what I'm writing about! (Note to self: Try understanding French critical theory next time I have been drinking. Perhaps it will make more sense.)

In the meantime, I still don't have 1000 words done out of the 2000 words that I need, AND I HAVE SPENT ALL DAY ON THIS, with only slight diversions for shopping for (and consuming) foodstuffs, and watching the newest episode of Bones. And writing about this project self-reflexively on this journal.

I just need to get this done now.

ETA: Jormungandr (aforementioned World-Serpent) has been footnoted! Gaiman and Pratchett to follow. :)
readingredhead: (Rain)

I spent three nights and two full days of this weekend in Rome. I was there for a week or so during July, and this was my fourth trip there in total (the first being six years ago, when I was just fourteen), but every time I visit, the city has something new to give me. This time, I met up with my friend Andy, who’s studying at Trinity College in Dublin for this school year and who had always wanted to go to Rome but had never even been to Europe until his trip to Dublin. With my more-than-average knowledge of the history, myth, legend, geography, and even language of Rome, I led us on a two-day whirlwind tour of all of the major sights and experiences, including:

the Vatican Museum + Sistine Chapel;

St. Peter’s Basilica + climb to the ‘cupola’ (the pinnacle atop the dome);

Piazza Navona;

the Pantheon;

Piazza di Spagna/Spanish Steps;

Trevi Fountain;

Piazza del Popolo and Via del Corso;

Borghese gardens;

Victor Emmanuel Monument;

Roman Forum;

Colosseum (properly known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, in case you were curious).

In fact, the best question is probably what we didn’t see. We didn’t cross the river and hang out in Trastevere, we didn’t go into the museum at the Villa Borghese, we didn’t rent Vespas…and really that’s about all that we didn’t manage that I have at some point done or wanted to do.

My favorite part was being in the Forum at sunset; I took more pictures in that one hour than I did at any other site we visited, I’m almost sure of it. There’s something beautiful about Rome at sunset, but the Forum at sunset in mid-October was totally breathtaking; I’ve never seen anything like it, in Italy or elsewhere (though Florence, near the Arno River, during a summer sunset comes to mind). I also really liked climbing to the top of the ‘Vittoriano,’ as the Victor Emmanuel Monument is called in Italian, and seeing the city from there, something my family and I had never done. The days were long, and there was a lot of walking, but I had a fantastic time — mostly because I’m slowly becoming more and more familiar with the city and its culture. I’m even getting confident enough in basic Italian to ask for directions, order a meal, and always say my pleases and thank-yous (not to mention read street signs and purchase train and metro tickets). Actually, it wasn’t until after I’d gone through the whole process in Italian that I realized the self-service metro ticket machines could be made to display their instructions in English.

This upcoming weekend will be spent reading Nicholas Nickleby and writing the first essay of the semester (a close textual analysis of a passage from Jane Eyre) because the weekend after that, I will be making my first ever trip to Paris! Then I have one more week of instruction before I get a whole week off for ‘Reading Week,’ in which technically you’re supposed to study and catch up with reading, but when I and my friends will be spending two and a half days in Barcelona followed by three and a half days in Marrakesh. I’m really excited to be doing so much traveling and experiencing so many different places while I’m here, but I’m equally excited to be able to call London ‘home.’

I had a few hours of crazy stress yesterday because the way that you turn in assignments here is so different, and teachers in general seem less concerned about reminding you when your assignments are due. In this case, I was pretty sure that an assignment for my Dickens class was due today by 4:30pm, but when I logged onto the VLE (think blackboard or bspace) it said that it was due yesterday (today at the time) by 4:30pm. It was 1pm when I read this and I had class starting at 3 that I couldn't miss. I ran around finishing up my assignment (thank god it was mostly done already) and then filling out the requisite coversheets (both in print and online) and submitting both a virtual copy via the VLE and a hard copy in person to the English Department office. This makes me miss Berkeley.

Also, my Representing London: the Eighteenth Century class was talking about coffeehouses today and the different kinds of sociability one finds there, and it made me miss my favorite cafe in Berkeley. Oh, Milano, how I pine for thee. There's good coffee here but the pub is the social locale du jour, so I'm stuck with convenient but uninspiring cafes. Still, I can't complain, because they're in London. Every so often I'll be doing something — whether it be reading Jane Eyre, or listening to a Beatles song, or just walking outside and breathing in the beautiful grass-and-wet-cement smell of early mornings post-rain — and then I'll realize that I'm not just reading this novel, or listening to this music, or capturing this moment. I'm doing it in a place that made it, in a sense. London is the genesis of so many things that are important to me. Maybe that's why coming here feels in its own way less like going away and more like coming home.


readingredhead: (Default)

March 2013

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