Three Days Left!

It’s finally happened. I’ve packed up, ready to return to college for the start of another semester. I’ve been taking preliminary notes, and packing boxes of fairy lights and duvet covers up. It took nearly seven hours to sort all my clothes and bedding into vacuum bags. It took even longer to establish how many pairs of shoes I ought to take with me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that by the time comes to pack the car, there will be a conversation related to “How many bl***** pairs of shoes do you need? You’ve only got two s******* feet!”. But that is all a part of the joy of moving down.

It’s really weird, because I’ve just got used to living at home again. I got used to being told what to do again, and so now I’m going to go back and be a little bit confused, because I won’t have anyone who can tell me what to do. Freedom hits a person like a brick in the face. You know it’s there because it’s just kind of, well, scary. But I’m sure it’ll only take about ten hours to establish myself independently again. Probably even less. I managed to nearly amputate my foot earlier, by standing on a pair of nail scissors. I’m amazed people actually let me venture into the world, alone and unsupervised.

I’m actually going to have a few days completely alone in my new house. I have to be back, to help out with some student-y type things, and I have errands to run, and jobs to interview for. But this means I’m back a little early, so I’m going to end up having a few days to collect myself, and join gyms, and run, and volunteer for things. I’m doing that thing, where I plan to be a whole, rounded individual, and I really do want to stick to it this time. Because of my dalliances in the kitchen, I’m half convinced I’m kind of like an Italian mother, who’ll cook vast amounts of food for whoever feels brave enough to eat it. Our own perceptions of ourselves are quite interesting, I always think.

So, I have three days left here. There are hair appointments to attend, and last-minute washing to do. I’m going to spend some time with my family, and generally being at home. And then before I even realise it’s happened, I’m gonna be at a Pirate Party, wearing a ridiculous stripe t-shirt, and an eye-patch, with a cardboard parrot on my shoulder.

(:

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Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner

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As I have mentioned before, I got my second year reading list a few weeks ago. And so, with due resignation, I signed on to Amazon, and ordered nearly forty novels, that comprises the entirety of the second year of university. My novels arrived and I was rather pleasantly surprised to find Lolly Willowes on my reading list. Unlike many of the novels for the upcoming year, it is rather short, and in comparatively simple prose. It isn’t overtly dense with meaning, because superficially it seems as though it is just a story about a sheltered woman, living in a tiny village, who becomes a witch.

However, I was asleep one night, and I ended up dreaming about the novel, imagining Lolly as a witch. The novel explores not just the parameters of the family unit, but also looks into ideas about marriage and the stigma of spinsterhood. Spinsterhood remains stigmatised even today, whoever was a much more obvious issue at the time of writing, 1926. The novel also discusses the idea of feminism in a rather oblique fashion. By empowering Lolly to go out into the world, alone, Sylvia Townsend Warner created a novel that supported Woolf’s rather more explicit literature, that also empowered women to go out into the world. The novel is significant in its own right, because of the subliminal message of strength it puts across. However it transcends into a network of early twentieth century literature, becoming a part of a literary network that also included Woolf, Mansfield, and other great female modernist writers.

The novel is not a modernist text in terms of linguistic style. It is written in the form of the Victorian novel, following a traditional structure in terms of time constraints, and character construction. This can be related to the fact that the novel itself is set in the patriarchal society of Victorian England. Lolly’s life, up until her move to Great Mop, is controlled by her brother, who represents the height of patriarchal control within England. Lolly is often considered as being passed around, almost as a package of no consequence. By moving along, and reclaiming herself, she becomes a woman in her own right, outside the control of her brother.

Conversely however, Lolly does fall under the influence of another male persona; Satan himself, disguised as a friend. By her assumption of his control over her, something that is never quite clarified for the reader, we see a necessity of patriarchy that structures all of Lolly’s actions. Whilst she is free, and has come under the influence of Satan somewhat willingly, there is still an echo of patriarchal society underpinning her world view.

The power dynamic that exists between Lolly and Satan is extremely interesting, because he is a kind of optional and yet inevitable patriarchal influence. There is a degree of resignation throughout the last couple of chapters in the novel, resigning Lolly to Satan’s eternal influence. To this extent, we can question the feminist tone that flows throughout the novel, and the extent to which it is effective.

If anything however, Lolly Willowes is very entertaining!

(:

(1) http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/covers/2012/3/12/1331563702226/Lolly-Willowes-Virago-Modern.jpg

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This Writer’s Block Shows No Sign Of Letting Up

So things are just a little different at the moment. I seem to be leaving a trail of destruction behind me.  I’m exhausted, because I’ve dived straight back into working long shifts, and I find myself confronted with some rather horrible realisations, especially related to my future, and the path I seem to be following. Or as I like to put it, I haven’t found a path yet; I’m just stood at Clapham junction, waiting for the lights to change. I just haven’t figured it out yet, and it’s starting to affect everything, from my self-esteem, to the ways in which I approach employment, and employability.

So at the moment, I’m bumming around at home, tackling my second year reading list, brushing up on some philosophy, and working every shift I’m allowed to try to save some money up, readying myself for my climb up Kilimanjaro next year. I don’t know what it’s going to be like; I toyed with the idea of dropping out last week. However I received an email that snapped me out of my reverie: my deposit had been processed, and so without any real input from me, the deal was signed and sealed. I’m going to Kenya next June. For sure. I’m sure there’ll be a number of posts about the preparations for the mountain; it’s promising to be a daunting task, and the fundraising itself is going be to a gargantuan challenge; three thousand pounds must be raised.

Another problem I’m facing is that I can’t think of anything to write about. There’s nothing that’s attracting my attention. I seem to have run out of things to write about, because all I can think about, is me. And that’s terribly selfish, and I feel horrendously self-involved. I just don’t know what to say, and I certainly have nothing to say that would be of interest or note to a reader.

I wish I had more to say during this post, but the sad truth is that I don’t. I wish I did. But I don’t seem to be able to think about anything but the above, and I’m hoping I’ll venture back to the blogosphere again soon, hopefully with something better to write about, something a little more positive.

(:

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Last Day In Halls Today!

You can really only live like this for a short amount of time… (1)

So it’s finally arrived. My last ever day in university halls. It’s been an experience and a half. However I think it’s about time that we moved onwards and upwards, into a real live house. A house with a dishwasher, no less. It’s one of those things that don’t appear to be terribly important, however living without one for a year really increases your appreciation of such a magical, practical object.

It’s a little bit strange though, to think I’m moving out of my flat. I mean, I can’t wait. I’m just so excited. The last couple of days have been just, well, perfect, despite the looming presence of my last exam. However, the sun’s been shining, and the weather has been warm, and so the desire to go to the beach simply outweighed any desire to stay at home, reading books. Helpfully, my last exam is my favourite module, and so I think it’s all going to be just lovely.

It’s been strange because its only in the last two or three days that I’ve finally fallen in love with where I am. The climate is lovely (except during the winter), and it’s just beautifully quaint, and fantastic. I haven’t fallen in love with it, all year. In fact, I’ve been wondering if I went to the right place for university; did I make the right decision? Ironically, I only decided that I have, about three days ago. But now first year is over, with the exception of one two-hour exam, and then I’m up, and out, back home, and before I know it, It’ll be moving into a brand new, wonderful, and lovely house. I cannot believe how lucky I feel today.

I’ve finished packing now, up to and including doing all my washing, and cardboard wrapping my external laptop monitor. It’s a very odd feeling to know I’m not ever coming back to this flat again, after tomorrow morning. It’s a feeling of almost being displaced. Because that’s what this whole year has felt like; the moving back and forth has been something of a struggle to me, in places. I think it’s been a learning curve too. The most important element however, has been to never, ever, try to pack more than you can lift onto a train. That is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt this year. Packing light is really the only way to travel, if you’re a cheap skate student, and get the cheapest train tickets, and subsequently have to get four different trains. No one wants to be shifting heavy suitcases up and down train staircases. Nobody.

Anyway, I have to go to the beach again now. It’s just too beautiful to stay indoors, as much as I do love the blogosphere.

(:

(1) http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Education/Pix/pictures/2012/4/16/1334574443353/Filthy-student-kitchen–008.jpg

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A Friendly Face In A Doctor’s Surgery Is As Rare As A Cuddly Great White Shark

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been recently trampled by a pack of wild dogs, whilst being forced to ingest razors. My head was pounding, and my throat was on fire. And I sighed, and resigned myself to the usual amount of pre-exam viral infection, and went about trying to do all those things that make you feel better. One of the worst things about living alone when you are ill however is that there’s no one to look after you, and make cups of tea. And this means that really, if I’d like tea, well, I’ll have to scrape myself off my mattress, and go and make some.

I often fantasize about having a robot precisely for this sort of thing. Doing stuff you can’t quite manage to do yourself, or indeed cannot be bothered to do yourself. I wish I had a robot who could book appointments to the doctors. I promised my mum that I’d go tomorrow, if I wasn’t feeling any better, which isn’t a problem in itself, however in order to actually get an appointment, you have to phone as soon as the radio beeps at eight in the morning, and then you spend some time doing battle with the elderly people and the babies, trying to get a slot that isn’t at an entirely preposterous time of day, like ten past eight, or six twenty.

A Standard Day At the Surgery… (1)

Doing battle with the irritable receptionist is also an exercise in patience; I’m not even offered a ‘good morning’ anymore, but instead I’m barked a time, usually something ridiculously inconvenient, at the precise time that the heavens open and I have to walk there in the rain.

Students, unfortunately, alongside middle-aged adults, are at the bottom of the healthcare food chain; we’re too old to be considered children, and our immune systems are reaching their peak. The elderly always seem to fill up the waiting room, and yet seem perfectly healthy whilst they chat to their friends at high volume, because none of them have their hearing aids switched on. When my friends and I are in attendance, we’re usually bleeding, coughing, or expelling some kind of bodily fluid. One could say that we at least have the decency to look as though we need medical attention.

So now I’m definitely feeling as though exam season is approaching. I’ll probably miraculously recover about twenty minutes after the end of my last exam, but up until then the only exciting thing I shall be doing is taking regular paracetamol, and taking in lots of fluids. I shall probably spend too much time watching Sex and the City and revising from my bed, with a book. I like the circulatory nature of university life; we begin the year with Fresher’s Flu, and end it with something I like to refer to as “exam fever”. Living together is like a breeding ground for viral infection, especially if you’re frequenting the nightclubs and bars on a regular basis too. It’s days like today when I start to think Sheldon Cooper is on to something about avoiding people and infection…

I must dash anyhow. I need to slump and make some more tea. (Or text my flatmate to see if she’ll do it…)

(:

(1) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/jdi/lowres/jdin31l.jpg

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On Excellence

I’ve been busy revising incessantly this week, and so I got to thinking, as I often do at this time of year, about the nature of ignorance, by way of the fact that every time I revise, I realise how little I know about my course. Admittedly, I’m only a lowly fresher, bottom of the higher education food chain, however, it is daunting to realise that you know relatively little. I think it also makes you realise how good your lecturers really are; they’re the best, and to be the best, you have to dedicate your life to your chosen specialty.

I don’t know yet, if I will ever become an expert in the field of English, however I’d like to think I’ll become an expert in my chosen field, whatever that may be. I don’t think it makes you ignorant to not know everything about something. It makes you ignorant if you don’t want to know. And I do want to know, however I’m just not sure if I’m able to dedicate my life completely to academia, at this point. I think I’d love to be working in the city in a few years, perhaps acquiring some more vocational qualifications, ready to make my way in the world as a professional in a field that I have yet to choose. Although, I’m not so worried about choosing yet; I still have two years in which to live in my university bubble. That safe place, where all you have to do is learn, and attend weekly parties.

It’s this revision you see; it makes me all contemplative and strangely perceptive about the world. An unfortunate side effect of exams for me is illness. Stress brings me out in ear infections, viral infections, stomach bugs, anything really. My body seems to decide to hate me on the exact week where a fully functioning ear and clear sinuses would be an added bonus. But I suppose beggars can’t be choosers, and I hope that this year will prove an exception to a time-honoured tradition.

Anyway, I must be off. There’s ecocriticism to revise, and critical theory essays to trawl through…

(:

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I Only Fell Over Once Today

I’m quite pleased with myself at the moment, because I got through an entire dance class this morning without once collapsing and begging to go back to sleep. I only fell over once. This is something I consider to be a huge achievement. When I began I could only tackle about twenty minutes of intensive conditioning, which is something I dare you all to try. It looks effortless, until you try it yourself, and you are transformed to a sweaty, pink, strained version of yourself. A helpful hint is that you shouldn’t look in any kind of reflective device for about thirty minutes after finishing this deceptive workout.

Easy, right? Go, on, try it. I dare you. (1)

It’s similar to Pilates, in that you scoff at people who do it, thinking that they don’t actually partake in ‘real’ exercise. I think they just work hard, knowing that they’re building muscles we didn’t know existed. Who knew about this ‘work zone’? I think it’s been a fantastically well-kept secret. Or perhaps I’m simply ignorant to such things.

As the day wore on, I felt the need to revise a multitude of English related things, whilst all the time cursing the existence of exams, and wishing we only had to do coursework to fulfill the terms of the degree. I think this is a rather faraway fantasy at the moment, however. The problem with being proficient in exam taking is that the higher education institution you attend makes you continue to take them. There are institutions across the country that increasingly use alternative methods of assessment. I, alas, do not belong to any of them.

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So I’ve been in my bedroom throughout a beautifully sunny day, on the basis that I have an entire syllabus to trawl my way through before my exam week begins. I am a little offended by the four exams that have been crammed into one working week, however it seems there’s very little I can do about it, and unfortunately moaning doesn’t seem to have any impact. I suspect that if moaning could cancel an unpleasant event, I’d have escaped many unfortunate occurrences in my lifetime.

However, I do find ways of revising that some people find incredibly boring. I write everything down, in a beautiful project book. I like to colour things in, and therefore I find it necessary to purchase a shiny new notebook, and try to make a new start when I try to revise. I also buy and write out numerous packets of beautiful key cards, that I can’t bring myself to throw away when my exams are finished because they’re just so beautiful. I find that using old text books, and so on, only serves to remind the poor student of the pain they experienced the first time they tried to learn the material. At least with new pages and new books, we can feel as though we’re starting again, instead of just going back to something that mentally feels, well, a bit dark and oppressive.

I want to wish everyone else taking exams on every level good luck, for this upcoming exam period! I’m sure you’ll all do fantastically.

(:

(1) http://bellevuewachiropractic.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Pilates.jpg

(2) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/rma/lowres/rman10110l.jpg

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On the Publishing Industry

As far as the publishing industry goes, I know very little about it. I know that I would like to be involved in it. And I know that it is incredibly difficult to get into the big publishing companies, purely because they’re just so competitive. The problem is less about your own aptitude for something, as opposed to finding a position that will allow you to pursue the career of your choice. Because in the corporate world, your dreams are just the same as another applicant, and you both want everything in the position.

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The problem is acquiring experience and having enough initiative to search for the highly competitive internships that do exist out there. I think being aware of them is part of the challenge, and then finding out where to go from there is naturally difficult, but not completely impossible. I personally felt better about the whole prospect of searching for a job after attending some employability events, and realising that networking as opposed to simply qualifications, is the way forwards.

However, a note on talent; I feel that everyone has one, and it just takes longer to come out in some people. It’s always there, and I do honestly believe, even though I am known for being a tad cynical, that everyone has something. It’s hard to compete with people who have a huge amount of talent, all the time, but I think that’s just a part of the world we inhabit today. Once upon a time, people found a career and worked in it until they retired, however today, we’ll all have a number of different careers, and we’ll be wanting to move on, and upwards in the world, until we retire. There’s more of a hunger to be rich and famous today than there ever was; we all want to be something, or someone, or at the very least, we want to be rich and famous.

I don’t really know how I will go about being somebody, however I think my business which has started well, and I hope it continues to go well, will help with this. It’s not always easy, phoning and emailing everyone you know to tell them about it, but eventually you have to be accepted somewhere; it’s a law of averages. Eventually, someone has to say “Yes!”. Eventually however, is not a specified time frame, and everyone I’ve spoken to says that perseverance is key. Networking is also key. Talking and communication is key. It’s almost comparable to the Deathly Hallows, really; the three ingredients to worldwide domination.

So there we are. I love the idea of belonging to this industry, no matter which bit of it. I’d like to be involved in PR, and maybe even consultancy, but it’s so difficult to really define what it is I’d like to do. Which is natural, and it’s why people of my generation tend to have a multitude of careers, and areas of expertise. The agony of choice; that’s what’s made our lives both more delightful, and more difficult, all at the same time.

(:

(1) http://www.consumercareinc.com/grey_business_group.jpg

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Indecision, Haircuts, and Farmers

It’s the eve of my nineteenth birthday, and all I can think about is a profoundly adolescent, female specific problem. Namely, my hair. It’s always sort of hung there, being curly. However now I’m approaching advanced age, I’m thinking of changing it. The colour has to change (I recently experimented with red, and despise it), and I shall need to go back to something vaguely honey and copper toned, I think. I shall leave this in the hands of my hairdresser.

Unfortunately however, I cannot simply give her free rein with the scissors; I need some direction, especially because I have particularly curly hair, which, if cut badly, will never look quite the same again. It will mean hats will be essential for the succeeding six weeks, and the experience is not really one I care to repeat.

(1) Standard haircut protocol...

This kind of conundrum does make me wonder about the superficial expectations of society and the opposite sex as a whole, however it mainly makes me question my own ability to like myself; it would seem my appearance is more important to me than anyone else, and the only person who really worries about my hair’s current colour and style is me. I put a disproportionate amount of time into worrying about my weight, and a conversely small amount of time into worrying about whether my hair looks nice. It rarely looks nice, especially during term time. I lose the ability to maintain grooming habits every time I set foot in my flat. Eyebrows are just sort of painted on, and I start to be less concerned with wearing make up.

It’s very strange to consider how appearance is directly proportional to exposure to modernity; farmers do not worry about their complexions or weight particularly (I’m sure there are exceptions), and country women typically are less concerned about heal heights and skirt lengths. Whenever I’m back in the city, heels become appropriate again, and clothing becomes much sharper. When I’m in the country, anything but jeans can be considered as an example of being overdressed, and knitted jumpers are perfectly acceptable evening attire. In the city, nothing short of a LBD will be worn on a night out. In the country, shorts and a t-shirt with flip-flops are essential. We rarely dress up, unless there’s a space themed party and some tinfoil involved.

Anyway, back to my current conundrum. I want a fringe, possibly, however I’m very worried that this will accentuate my slightly round face. I often look in the mirror and wonder what I was doing on the day they handed out the well-defined cheekbones. I need a new hair colour, and I want something new, however over the last six months I’ve pretty much covered the entire colour spectrum, from platinum blonde, to deep mahogany. I shall be satisfied with lots of highlights and lowlights, I think. In something vaguely honeyed. As long as I’m not ashy blonde anymore, I think I shall leave happy. This still doesn’t tackle the question of the cut though.

Oh, isn’t life hard?

(:

(1) http://www.everydaypeoplecartoons.com/cartoons/327—September-30-October-6,-2007,-sense-of-self-haircut.gif

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A Blogging Hiatus

Dear Reader,

I return to my little blog today, feeling somewhat repentant, for being so completely neglectful of you lately. Unfortunately, I’ve suffered two main impediments to recent blogging. The first one being searching for a house, in which to reside next year.Working out the demands of both rent and bills are fundamental, and unfortunately, I’m not mathematically or financially blessed as yet. My job search has been as productive as using Dairy Milk as a fireplace, and the demands of adulthood seem to have overridden my aspirations within my life as a student. But no matter; we have resolved the crisis now, and hopefully, someone will one day employ me. At this juncture however, jokes about the employability of English Literature graduates can be made, but that’s another post…

My second impediment however was more serious, at least in my eyes, because, I lost my inspiration to a chronic case of writer’s block that seems to have lasted at least two weeks. It’s rare for me to be completely unable to write for this long; usually a day, maybe three; not usually weeks. I couldn’t even seem to manage a small poem, not even something crude, adolescent and unsophisticated.

I stood in the mirror one morning and said “I have nothing in my head to say. About anything at all.” This was strange, because we studied The Tempest last week, and I adore Shakespeare. We also studied James Joyce, a man I have a love-hate relationship with. Usually, I could have written a lengthy explanation for this feeling of repulsion and adoration that follows Joyce, but this week, I couldn’t do it. It seemed too hard to put fingertips to keypad, and make something coherent, even amusing. But today, it seems much easier, and I think I shall be tackling Joyce, Robert Louis Stevenson, and finishing my T.S Eliot series at least sometime in the near future.

So, dear Reader, I apologise for my lengthy absence; but I promise, I shall be back tomorrow, writing about literary type things, instead of rambling on about why I couldn’t write about them at all.

(:

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