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: (Cuppa)
I don't think I have words to explain the kind of "busy" that I've been feeling for the last few weeks. I think part of it stems from the fact that school requires so much more structured, scheduled time out of me here than it did in London and I'm readjusting to that fact. I had 8 hours of class per week in London, and only spent maybe 30 mins per week in office hours. Here, I have 14 hours of class per week and spend at least an hour, usually more like an hour and a half, in office hours every week because it's the best way for me to really engage with the material (and because my professors are kickass).

Also, I'm taking three upper division Berkeley English classes at once -- which is apparently lots harder than taking four second-and-third-year Queen Mary English classes at once. And that's not even mentioning the fact that I'm also taking French here, which is just a constant time drain (though by the end of this all I know it'll be worth it).

I think the hardest part is that some people (not pointing fingers!) don't understand what I mean when I say I don't have free time. They expect me to be there to hang out with them, and honestly, I can't always. In addition to 14 hours of class time per week, I spend 8 hours tutoring or attending tutor-related meetings and 6 hours interning at the Office of Letters and Light (which, if you add in transportation time, probably is actually more like 7-8 hours). And this isn't even including my homework or my sleep! Or, god forbid, time for me to do reading independent of my schoolwork!

I always knew that this semester was going to be hard. I just didn't think that the hard part would be explaining to friends and family why I don't have the time to be with them. But although this semester is hard, it's also utterly necessary to my eventual goals -- and that isn't going to change. So I guess ultimately I just have to get better at saying, "Actually, sorry, I really am up to my ears in work between now and December 31, can we reschedule for next year?"

I suppose the last thing to mention is that, despite how hectic this all sounds, I really do enjoy what I'm doing! My classes are amazing and challenging and nonsensical (that's what happens when you study too much literary theory) and brilliant and I love every minute of (some of) them. Likewise, I'm really excited about the work I do as a tutor and as an OLL intern, and I'm looking forward to once again being an East Bay Municipal Liaison. And I'm also looking forward to reinstating/renovating what was once the Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story Workshop class and is now a club that will still workshop sci-fi and fantasy stories but can be far more flexible than a class since I don't have to determine a syllabus in advance.

How mean am I being if I tell people that I'm only really going to have time for them if I see them through school/work/interning already? (Probably pretty mean. But I'm an English major. I won't say it in those words...at least, not until mid-November when I'm starting to get really fed up.)

In the meantime, tea will solve all my problems. That is all.
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 going...my 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: (Talk)
Well, I suppose I cheated: I bought a new computer. His name is Touchstone, after a main character in Garth Nix's Sabriel, which I fell back in love with recently after listening to the audiobook. It's a really great fantasy read and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Touchstone, in case you care, is an HP Pavilion dm3t, and sort of looks like the mixed-race offspring of a silver macbook and HP's current line of larger laptops. He is slightly larger than I had intended him to be (13.3" display), but still much more portable than Fitzwilliam. He is thinner and lighter, partly because he does not have an internal optical drive; I got a deal on an external CD/DVD RW which works just fine. He runs Windows 7 and although I've only been toying with the interface for two days, I think I like it well enough. Also he's supposed to get very good battery life but I haven't really tested these claims yet. I'm just hoping that he'll last me as long as Fitzwilliam. Fitz is technically still alive, if ailing, and now that I've wiped him bare of all unnecessary everythings (including all my documents, pictures, music, etc.), he'll go to my dad.

I haven't really been doing much, except complaining about the fact that I have to read Bleak House and occasionally actually doing some of the reading. Corinne gave me a Dickens action figure for Christmas and I'm considering bringing him back with me to London so I can put him on my desk and glare at him whenever I am frustrated. Ideally, I should also read Aphra Behn's Oroonoko and Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year before I return to Queen Mary, not to mention that I have a paper to write still. Not looking forward to that part.

On the bright side, functioning computer + reliable internet = finally posting pictures from the last two months! Expect notifications to flood your facebook.

Now, I am torn between attempting a return to Bleak House (unlikely) and wasting an hour or so on the internet...yay for Christmas break?
readingredhead: (Default)
Sentence that did not make it into e-mail to professor, considering that I've only known her since September and wouldn't want to offend:

"I do love reading literary criticism (and I say this with a complete lack of sarcasm) but I also like feeling that my writing represents my ideas about the text without mediation by a third party (I would have made a terrible Catholic)."

Seriously??

Dec. 8th, 2009 04:53 am
readingredhead: (Default)
So I'm getting over an illness (just started antibiotics yesterday), need my sleep, but had trouble falling asleep because of a cappuccino from earlier in the day (reminding me why I hate caffeine). I finally fell asleep around 1AM after an hour of lying in bed. Around 2:15AM I am awoken by my flatmates and many of their friends returning drunk from the one pound drinks night at the local bar. I have to yell at them THREE TIMES to keep it down. I fall asleep for literally fifteen-minute intervals between each of these times, only to be woken up again. The non-flatmates finally leave and I fall asleep, annoyed that I have to be up at 7:30AM and fully resolved to bitch them all out in the morning.

And then at 4AM the fire alarm goes off. It's almost 5AM now and we only just got back inside. Picture standing outside in the middle of the night in London in December. "Cold" just isn't an adequate term.

Seriously? FML.
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: (Talk)
I went and saw the university where I'll be spending the greater part of this school year, and I think I might be falling in love. Seriously, it's everything I could ask for -- but then again, so is most of this country!

a few of the many many pictures )
readingredhead: (Default)
Not much update time, but I have to say -- I never really liked A Midsummer Night's Dream, and then I saw the Globe's traveling company perform it at the Globe last night and it kinda blew my mind. Can we say 1920s theme? A cast of 8 people portraying all 20+ characters through some pretty fantastic costume changes? Aforementioned actors singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments in addition to acting some of the best Shakespeare performances I have ever seen? SO AWESOME.

Also, I ate lunch at a restaurant looking out directly across the Thames at Tower Bridge. We ate on the south bank before crossing the bridge (in an intermittent thunderstorm) and getting on with our day, but it was nice to just sit for an hour, rest our already-tired feet, and look at what I would argue is the awesomest bridge in London. The Millennium Bridge may be stylish, but Tower Bridge...I don't even know why I like it so much. It just rocks.

Today I am heading into East London for my first look at the school where I will be spending most of next year! And tomorrow I finally get to see the British Library.

Addendum: I have the WORST INTERNET ACCESS EVAR right now. And it kinda makes me want to die. Might have something to do with being on the top floor of a building with wireless coverage that's poor to begin with -- on the bottom floor a few rooms away from the router I only get three bars. BUT STILL. It is making things like paying a deposit for housing at Queen Mary incredibly difficult, and if there's one thing I hate, it's technology that I spend money on and rely heavily upon not working in the way that it should. I hate that this is enough to make me angry on any given day, but it really is.
readingredhead: (Default)
Today, I have slept in, talked with my sister about the new Star Trek movie in great detail, discovered that there are two different projects going on right now to try to make Paradise Lost into a movie (Milton would die if he weren't dead already), watched an old Star Trek episode while eating breakfast and folding laundry, e-mailed Queen Mary's study abroad people about housing information, looked up books about Milton, and sidetracked my attempt at studying for my Romantics final by instead looking up course descriptions for graduate English classes at Berkeley.

Finals? What finals? You mean it's not already summer?
readingredhead: (Burning)
Thanks to some conversations with Katherine Fosso and Natalie, the Satan story is starting to iron itself out. It probably won't be under 15 pages like it's supposed to be for this class, but seeing as how other people have ignored that requirement and I haven't yet, I think I'm okay as long as I don't go over 20. Granted, that might be a problem, but we'll see. I'm working on this a week in advance for a reason -- the critical idea-mass has finally been reached in my mind, and I'm making things work.

Also, I'm trying something that I've never done before, switching between two timelines rather consistently, and I'm kind of excited for how that might work out. I usually write very linear stories so playing with time is something new for me, but something I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm just happy that I finally found a story that lends itself to some temporal fun.

In other news, yesterday marked the first day of Script Frenzy, the Office of Letters and Light's other creative writing adventure, in which participants write 100 pages worth of a script for a movie, TV show(s), radio play(s), stage play, or comic book. I am engaged in writing an adaptation of my first completed NaNoWriMo novel, The Printer's Tale (formerly called The Printer's Daughter), WITHOUT actually looking back at the text of the novel I wrote! I'm looking forward to seeing what my dialogue looks like in this new version, how it changes, and to see if I can get any really good lines out of it or new insights into character or scenes.

Also for Script Frenzy, Corinne wants me to write her a telenovela -- a Spanish soap opera -- for her friends to film. They've been watching awesome telenovelas in their Spanish class and want to make their own for extra credit. She hasn't given me details yet, but it will likely include long-lost twins, sordid love affairs, people awaking from comas, death threats, people accused of crimes they did not commit, a court scene, a deathbed scene, family drama, and much more! It will be an amusing respite from my more serious projects.

On another note, I've been officially accepted to study abroad at Queen Mary University of London! I am so ridiculously excited and looking forward to this grand adventure. It's funny, the only real work that I want to be doing now is prepping for this! Paperwork? Busywork? Appointments? I don't care, it's all for London!

Finally: today is sunny and not as warm as yesterday, but I'm wearing a new shirt and some old boots and I feel good. It's strange how sometimes the right outfit can just make a day.

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