The Ramblings of the Excited 2nd Year

 

So, in light of my rather terrible installation troubles, i.e. no internet for the foreseeable future, posts will be even more limited than they are at the moment. Of course, I will do my best to abuse the uni WiFi, and will squeeze as many insightful and interesting thoughts out of my head as I feel I can. A new term of new books and new lecturers will surely provide me with ample material for posts. I started this blog as an outlet for this material, and so it will be nice to return to the original stuff, even though I’m sure you find my culinary updates just terribly exciting.

Now, I can’t sit still. That’s the main problem. Because I’m just so very excited. Sitting in the car tomorrow for the six-hour drive will just about push my patience to the limit I think, because I’m already itching to unpack everything, clean cupboards, and get really, really organised. I’ve even roped my little sister into staying with me for the first night; she’s really good at cleaning things and so I guessed she’d be a useful pair of hands for the evening. I will have to concern myself with trying to cram tonnes of clothes into my wardrobe, and negotiating homes for my ever-expanding shoe collection.

It’s the waiting that I hate the most about moving from place to place. I love the excitement of finding somewhere new to live, and I like having a clean slate; you can make it look as lovely as you’d want to, and I have a fantastic collection of fairy lights that somehow make any given room far more inviting than a simple ceiling light. I have shelves, and I couldn’t have asked for a better house. I even have a garden with a greenhouse; not that I’ve ever gardened, but I like to entertain a fantasy that I could.

I’ve also managed to create a collection of comfortable and yet attractive clothing this summer, thus dispelling the need for baggy track suit bottoms around the house. Instead, I’m going to head down the ‘jegging’ route, and whilst I hate the word, and used to despise the idea, I’ve come to realise that they are in fact quite comfortable, but look marginally more presentable than tracksuits. I also spent a vast amount of money on an original Rolling Stones tour sweater, but I’ve decided it was just completely, and utterly worth it.

Anyway, I have to try to sleep tonight, because tomorrow is going to be long and exhausting. So for now, I’ll leave you to stare at the screen in a nonplussed sort of way, trying to work out what I spent the last four hundred words talking about. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to come back, but I’ll do my best to make it soon!

(:

©

 

Advertisements

Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner

(1)

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

©

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.

(:

©

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

©

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…

(:

©

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.

(1)

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

©

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

©

On Time

Time is fundamental to people. We use time to measure when we should sleep, how long for, and how our entire lives should function. We measure our days in terms of hours and minutes; appointments are scheduled in hours, or half hours. Nine am is the accepted beginning of the work day; this presumption emerges from the natural trend of sunlight and sunset, and broadly, sunlight is present, in the UK at least, from nine until five, for most of the year. There are some black winter days when it is dark by four pm, and not light until nine am, but that is a construct of the seasons.

I’m having a brilliant week, because of an abundance of time. I’m essentially finished for this year, and before exams and revision kick off, I am to enjoy a brief respite from university work. The weather is beautiful, and I have little to do except lie around, reading books, and going to the beach. Waking up in the morning with nothing to do is a fantastic feeling, if it is a rare one. It means you can spend an extra twenty minutes in the gym, and then go home, and conduct your day as you so wish.

Dali+Persistence+of+Time.jpg

Certainly one of the creepiest portrayals of time I've ever seen. (1)

Without any spare time, household, administrative type things cease to happen; the dust on the carpet reaches levels of visibility, the washing basket overflows, and the purse starts to expel receipts. You get too tired to care about doing menial things, and in my opinion at least, this is depressing. I like to have a day, every so often, dedicated to doing boring administrative tasks. Dusting, and laundry, and so forth. I can’t abide not having enough time.

I also have an extremely irritating tendency to develop viral, throat based complaints whenever I’m incredibly tired. If I work a number of extremely busy days at work, with only five hours sleep between the end of one shift, and the beginning of another, I get some form of cold, flu, or sore throat. This has been alleviated somewhat by a tonsillectomy, however I still get twinges of sore throat, and stabbing pain in my ears. I wish I could be one of those people who can function on only four hours sleep every day, but I’m not sure I could- I get very grumpy, past a certain point of exhaustion. To the point where even I don’t recognize the snarling, irritable, pale creature staring out of the mirror.

Anyway, so back to my point; I like having time. We all base everything we do on time constraints, balancing our lives between commitments. In the modern world especially, we’re busier than we’ve ever been. I suppose it’s important to recognise however, that we should always, always, make time to do the washing. Because everyone needs clean pants.

(:

(1) http://www.ideachampions.com/weblogs/Dali%2BPersistence%2Bof%2BTime.jpg

©

University Life Collides With Reality

Monday morning has arrived again, with the same reluctant manner as usual; a busy week, dominated by revision, essay hand ins, and lectures. However it is the last morning of term, which does provide a modicum of relief. The next Monday will be spent shopping, and the Monday after that will be spent at work; a return to the working world, to my job, back at home. Home and work feels remarkably different to university life; a person goes through a whole adjustment phase, every time they move back to the place they came from. It’s a constant movement, and a person is constantly in flux, preparing to move.

This form of nomadic lifestyle is at best, confusing; by the time one has adapted to living on campus properly, it is time to start looking for a house for the second year; this is done working on presumptions such as your friends will remain the same as they were last year, and you will pass the year, in order to progress onto the next one. Location is central to where a person wants to live. Near campus, or in town; in a village, or in a nearby city. Transport costs have to be taken into account; are lectures within walking distance of the house, or will you have to take the bus in? This is all fundamental to choosing a nice house, and when you’ve found a house that is acceptable, whether you can put the deposit down before anybody else gets to it first. (1)

Anyway, I’m preparing for my next trip home; I’m incredibly excited, because I simply cannot wait to see my Mum and Dad again; three months pass by, where I have to do my own washing and cook my own food; the magnitude of this is unrecognisable, until you have to actually do it, yourself. I have a flatmate who had never used a washing machine before, and to the day, we haven’t seen him cook. Life skills are learnt in a crash course of university life, ironically in the same week as Freshers. During Freshers, we have one priority: meet people, make friends, form bonds. The second priority is how many parties can be crammed into one week, or in our case, into two. It’s possibly one of the most turbulent periods of anyone’s life; all routine is poured down the drain in favour of partying.

Once you get over this particular period however, you can start to recognise opportunities; employability courses, endless societies, cheap gym membership. University offers far more than a bar full of cheap liquor, and offers access to people from all walks of life, people whose research is quite literally at the forefront of their fields. That is an extremely unique opportunity to have. Those who remain as drunkards on campus for a year tend to fall behind, at some point, whilst the rest of us sit in our rooms, at our desks, and ponder what on earth will happen, when we have to leave the safety, of the bubble. I mean, we might have to get a job, and everything.

(:

(1) http://thebackpew.com/backpew/images/lordsaveme.jpg (Credit to Jeff Larson)

©

On Waiting, and Trying Again

The problem with being a potential candidate for something, is that there are also other, potential candidates. They all want the same thing; you all have the same goal. They probably all want it just as much as you do. They probably worked just as hard on their articles as you did. They probably researched just as thoroughly, as you did too. So how can you possibly play the guessing game? You can’t, is the reality of it. Sure, you can add up the possibilities; you can endlessly rake over your work, look at things you could have done better; you can reread, as much as you like, but the reality is that you can’t change the article you’ve already submitted.

Latest photo of myself... (1)

The same sort of thing happens at job interviews, and in the case of being a student, the question is not whether you are good at your job or not, or how much experience you may have; it’s about your ability to be able to work consistently, throughout the year. And in the course of being a student, I live on the other side of the country to home. Which means that I would not be able to work during the holidays, because I have a job at home to go back to, and a family, that I like to see at least every three months. However, employers aren’t satisfied with having you for nine months of the year; if they want to hire you, they want it to be on a consistent basis. This is currently one of the challenges I am facing, in finding a job down at university; even pubs seem to be looking for permanent, and not absentee-for-three-months-a-year staff. This, coupled with the present state of the job market, makes part-time employment increasingly more difficult to obtain.

This tirade, you might say, was somewhat unprovoked; however in my little (exhausted) mind, it all made perfect sense, because I’ve been submitting applications left, right and centre. It sounds petty, and it sounds pathetic to be so cross, about this, but it’s a journey that seems futile. Having recently read Mr. Palomar as well, things are certainly feeling a bit futile; the man’s constant existentialist crisis makes me want to shout at him, and ask, (almost) politely, whether he has a real problem. A debt collector, or an illegitimate child, perhaps. Anything that would motivate him, to actually do something. And this is entirely the problem; even when you do everything, all the time, it doesn’t always work out perfectly.

But nevertheless, even though I’m not feeling optimistic today, due to a combination of being tired, my muscles hurting, and being buried under a pile of work, it will “all come to he who waits”, as my mother often says. A phrase that has annoyed me since I was about twelve years old. I hope she continues to be right; it would be beautiful timing to end the trend of “Mum is always right” now. Anyway, chin up, chuck.

(:

(1) http://www.routerfreak.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/frustration.jpg

©