dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
This weekend seems to have been filled up mostly with eating.

My friend [ profile] lucubratae came up to stay with us on Saturday. He's moved from Australia to London to do an MA, and wanted to get out of the city for a day or so for a change of scene. We hung out for a bit in one of the faculty libraries so that he could work on an essay for his coursework, and in the evening we went with Matthias, and several of my medievalist friends to a pub that was having its own Oktoberfest, selling lots of German beers and serving German food instead of its usual menu. The pub was busy and lively, and I almost lost my voice by the end of the night, but a good time was had by all.

Today Matthias and I went to the Cambridge Botanic Gardens for their 'Apple Day'. They had twenty-nine varieties of apples available for tasting and for sale, none of which were varieties I'd ever tried — or even heard of — before. I prefer apples that are really sour, and which have a very crispy texture, and I was able to find a lot that fit these specifications. We bought bags of three different types of apples.

I also came away with a little sampler box of gin — sloe and cherry, lemon, and raspberry — and several jars of chili sauce.

After hearing [personal profile] naye talk about [ profile] GuerrillaKitch, I'd been keen to find an opportunity to try their bao, and I was fortunate enough to discover that they were at the Apple Day. So Matthias and I each had a chicken bao and shared pad thai chips for lunch. A cup of coffee for me and a cup of perry for Matthias and we were set for the afternoon. Thankfully the weather today has been lovely, and it was the perfect day to wander around the Botanic Gardens and walk around in the sunshine.

On a sadder note, I'd like to remind everyone about the fundraiser for Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. It's still going, although the organisers have met the original goal. They are now leaving it open and attempting to reach various stretch goals. As well as helping out a really wonderful human being during a horrible time in her life, donors gain access to a site full of downloadable goodies, including short stories by Aliette de Bodard, printable colouring sheets by [ profile] Likhain, poems by Rose Lemberg and Shveta Thakrar, and a short story by Bogi Takács. Donors also go into a draw to win lots of other rewards. Please spread the news about the fundraiser, and donate if you can.
dolorosa_12: (pagan kidrouk)
One of the first places I ever hung out online was, a fansite for Isobelle Carmody's longrunning Obernewtyn series. The first book was published in 1987 - I was a relatively late starter, and only began reading the series in 1999.

Most of the members of the site are Australian, as the series is not widely known elsewhere. Most of us are also no longer the teenagers we where when we began reading the series, but rather in our late twenties, early thirties, or even older, and many of us no longer actually hang out at Obernet, staying in touch through Facebook, Twitter, email or in real life. Most members live in Australia, although due to the nature of Australian immigration patterns, there's small outpost of us in the UK, almost all Australians who moved here — like me — for education or employment.

And after nearly thirty years, the last book in the series is finally out. I feel a bit ambivalent about the books now, for reasons I've laid out at length on my Wordpress blog. But my feelings about the people I met through those books remain the same: they are wonderful, they are great fun, they are a symbol of the passage of time from adolescence to adulthood.

Isobelle Carmody is well aware of the site, and is on friendly terms with many of its members, and as a sort of reward for keeping the faith during those long years of waiting (a length of time that would put fans of A Song of Ice and Fire to shame, as I never tire of pointing out), she has organised a masked ball in Melbourne for the fans. I was invited, but as I now live on the other side of the world I was resigned to missing out.

That's when some of the UK-based Obernetters popped up and started talking about hosting an alternative event in London. For about an hour I was blissfully, joyfully happy. And then the date of these events finally registered.

On the day when the Australian fans will be donning masks and hanging out with Isobelle Carmody, and when the UK-based people will be sipping cocktails in London, I will be in the air somewhere over Indonesia, en route to Sydney to visit my family. And if that doesn't sum up my immigrant existence — split between two places, belonging to neither — I don't know what does.
dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
I'm taking my turn at that meme that's been doing the rounds, the one where you're assigned an age and answer a few questions which contrast your life then with your life now. [personal profile] naye gave me 18.

Answers behind the cut )

It was really great to do that meme. A lot of the things that caused me great distress at 18 had obvious fixes in retrospect, but I wouldn't have lived any other way. It makes me happy to see how far — literally and metaphorically — I have come.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
Hello to all the new people now following me as a result of the friending meme (and for those of you who haven't seen the meme yet, it's here).

I thought I'd introduce myself to all of you. Feel free to ask me questions about anything.

Feel free to skip if you've had me in your circle/flist for a while )
dolorosa_12: (epic internet)
This past weekend was just wonderful, without all that much actually happening. The weather was exactly as I like it, crisp, clear and bright, with the feeling of autumn in the air. While Matthias worked on his MA coursework, I pottered about, cooking, gardening, and making more fruit-infused liqueurs (blackberry-infused gin!).

I had all sorts of grand plans for lots of blogging, but in the end, the siren song of 8tracks was too much to resist. The result was this playlist:

All This Youth Makes Us Old from dolorosa_12 on 8tracks Radio.

(The description: We are only young and naive still. A playlist for the years full of promise, intensity of emotion, fragility and sharpness, when summers lasted forever and the future seemed very distant indeed.)

Speaking of 8tracks (which, honestly, is one of my favourite sites on the internet, because it's filled with people who think of music in the same way I do - as a story), this playlist is simply perfect.

I mentioned Those Who Run With Wolves, a new review website set up by Aliette de Bodard, in a recent linkpost, but what I neglected to say is that I will be contributing. I don't have anything published there as yet, although a review of mine is queued up and ready to go when it's my turn in the posting schedule. The team of reviewers is great, and I'm really happy to be a part of it.

Finally, I was having a great conversation on Twitter with [ profile] rcloenenruiz, [ profile] EPBeaumont and [ profile] tylluan (with brief contributions from others, and sparked by an earlier comment of [ profile] karisperring) about the importance of mentors and institutional and community support. The conversation moved too fast to follow, and I wish I'd been able to archive it somehow (Storify might be a possibility, but it was bouncing off in all sorts of different directions and would probably be hard to follow in that format). Twitter is great for conversations, but awful for keeping easy-to-follow records thereof. In any case, it got me thinking that I need to write something here on the subject, so consider this me keeping myself accountable on that score.

Two memes

Aug. 29th, 2015 03:07 pm
dolorosa_12: (Default)
The first is from [ profile] thesunifollow

Questions and answers )

The second one is from [personal profile] falena

Questions and answers )
dolorosa_12: by ginnystar on lj (robin marian)
Wow, it's been a while since I've posted on LJ/Dreamwidth. Lots has been happening, though, so I have plenty of stuff to update you all about.

My mother essentially spent all of July (and the first week of August) in this part of the world. She's been visiting me annually since I moved to the UK. For this particular visit, she spent the first week in Cambridge. Matthias and I were both working, but Mum knows Cambridge quite well by now, and was able to entertain herself during the day, meeting me each evening at work to walk me home. I walk forty-five minutes to, and forty-five minutes from, work every day, and I normally do it alone, so it was nice to have some company. She even discovered a (much nicer) secret short-cut that I hadn't known existed, so now my daily walk takes me past canals, community gardens, and horses.

The week after that the two of us went on holiday to Norway. This is something we'd been talking about doing for years, but it was always complicated by either my PhD or visa situation. This year we were determined to go. We spent four days in Bergen, which was absolutely wonderful - another town that I fell in love with - and about a day-and-a-half in Oslo. It poured with rain in Bergen, which I gather is normal, but that didn't prevent us from spending one day doing an absolutely breathtaking hike from Mount Ulriken to Mount Fløyen. We're pretty tough hikers, but the terrain was a bit of a challenge, in that we had to scramble up and down mountains, dodging bogs and jumping between stepping stones. We met some great people along the hike, including a young Swiss couple who were going on and on about how expensive Norway was (Switzerland is so cheap, they said, which made us raise our eyebrows a bit), a pair of friendly middle-aged Norwegian sisters who walk the track every year, and a Finnish family whose little daughter gave us her last piece of chocolate at the top of a particularly steep hill.

Apart from more hiking, we spent our time in Bergen eating vast quantities of amazing fresh fish. The Fish Market was pretty much heaven to me.

We had been advised to catch the train between Bergen and Oslo, which was a long journey, but well worth it. The route takes you through lots of little mountain villages, and around stunning clear lakes and waterfalls. There was snow on the mountains, even though it was the middle of the northern summer.

Our Oslo time was a bit of a whirlwind tour, taking in the centre of town, a hipstery-student area, the upmarket redeveloped former docks (doesn't every harbour town have an upmarket redeveloped former dock area?), the Viking Ship Museum, and a park in the embassy area of town.

After Oslo, Mum headed back to the UK for a week working from a base in Cambridge (she's a radio journalist and always puts together at least one programme when she visits me, interviewing Cambridge- and London-based academics) and a bit of hiking in Suffolk. I flew into Germany for a weekend visit with Matthias' family and then a holiday with him in Hamburg.

Hamburg reminded me a bit of Oslo (although without the insane Norwegian food prices), in that every neighbourhood within it had a very different feel. (It also had the ubiquitous trendy upmarket redeveloped former dock area, although for some reason the Hamburg version of this was filled with shop after shop selling Persian carpets.) We managed to do a bit of everything in Hamburg, from a harbour tour to a museum exhibition on the curating and sharing of memories from the earliest days of photography until now. My highlight was probably the tour of the spectacularly over the top Rathaus, which was well worth the 4-euro price. Our tour was in German, but they also do tours in English and French, and I would highly recommend it if you're ever in Hamburg.

After Hamburg I joined Mum for a weekend in London, where we walked two stages of the Capital Ring Walk (we did Wimbledon to Richmond and Richmond to Osterley Lock - you can do them as two separate walks, but we combined them as together it was only something like 13 miles). Then it was back to Cambridge, and work. Mum stuck around for another week, and flew back to Australia last Saturday. It's been weird walking to work without her.

In extremely good news, I got my new visa, which I had applied for in March and then spent a stressful four months waiting for. It's for five years, and is a great relief to finally have in my hand, as not having a visa puts you in a kind of weird limbo. The category of visa for which I applied allows you to request your identity documents back (which is how I was able to travel to Norway and Germany), but I was extremely worried that I would have trouble at the UK border when I tried to reenter with only proof of application. In any event, it went fine, and the application was approved and sent some days later, but I'm glad to put this particular application behind me. What with gathering documents for evidence and then waiting, the whole process really took about seven months, which is long enough! When Matthias called me to say the visa had been delivered, I danced around my office!

I've been reading some truly wonderful books, and I really must do a bit of a roundup at some point, but for now, I'll leave it.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
This was initially going to be a comment on [personal profile] dhampyresa's blog, but it occurred to me that I spend way too much time bouncing around the internet, trying to convince people to read the Romanitas trilogy, and it would be nice to have one post about it that I can refer back to on later occasions. So consider this a rather flaily, incoherent primer.

It helps, I think, if you understand something about my tastes in stories. I will read or watch just about any iteration of story that engages with ideas of power, privilege and dispossession: who has power, and why, and who is dispossessed by that power, and why. But I need the stories to do something more: they need to place the blame for inequality and dispossession where it truly lies, on an institutional level, and on individuals within such institutions. The stories need to centre the dispossessed, although it's an added bonus if they consider the various ways in which power, empire and privilege corrupt and dehumanise those who benefit from them. And they need to show that the strength of the dispossessed lies in them finding common ground, making common cause, dismantling the systems that oppress them, supporting one another, carving out spaces in which they are able to safely assert their humanity.

It's for this reason that I keep returning to the Pagan Chronicles by Catherine Jinks, the works of John Marsden, Galax Arena by Gillian Rubinstein and the other powerful, formative books of my childhood. It's for this reason that shows like Pretty Little Liars, Orphan Black, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Orange Is The New Black have resonated so strongly with me. In various ways, they explore these vital ideas. Their characters are the dispossessed, whether they be Christian Arab squires thrown into exile by the Third Crusade (or the Cathar heretic daughter of said squires, traumatised by the politics of thirteenth-century Languedoc), teenage resistance fighters, children stolen off the streets to artificially extend the lives of the super-rich, bullied teenage girls, clones whose creators view them as patented scientific material, or the inhabitants of a women's prison. Over and over again such stories show their dispossessed central characters banding together, supporting one another, and insisting on their own autonomy and humanity in the face of those who refuse to acknowledge it.

This is the backdrop against which my love for the Romanitas trilogy should be understood.

Cut for non-detailed discussion of slavery, empire and colonialism )

I hope that helps at least in laying out the reasons why this series works for me. I love it. I hope that other people love it too.
dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
Birth: Stop wrapping your arm around your neck. You're hurting your mother.

0: Yes, your parents are at present a rock music journalist and a foreign correspondent flitting all over North and South America. Don't worry. They won't expect you to ever be that cool.

1: Don't worry. The vacuum cleaner can't hurt you. Neither can the blender. Neither can the food processor.

2: Don't worry. The cracks in the ceiling and in the tiles of the bath aren't ants. Neither are the black lines painted on the floor of the swimming pool. They can't hurt you. The cicadas make a really loud noise, but they're tiny little insects, not one giant animal 'as big as a bear'. It's not your fault your mother didn't explain that in a way you understood. The cicadas can't hurt you.

Your aunts are going to allow you to walk around them in circles, talking at them. They will draw pictures of the stories you tell them. They will transform the couches on your front patio into two horses that take you on adventures. Your grandfather will build you a bedhead and swim with you in the ocean, and your grandmother will tell you stories. Your other grandfather will build you a bookcase, and your other grandmother will sew clothes for your dolls. You will be surrounded by cousins. This will be more precious to you than gold.

3: Stop being jealous of your newborn sister. She is amazing, and you will love her very much.

4: Don't worry that you hate preschool. There is a boy there who hates it even more, so much that he will spend every lunchtime attempting to climb over the fence and escape. One day he will succeed. Your mothers will bond over their children's reluctance to be at preschool. Years later, his mother will be your mentor in your first 'grown-up' job.

5: Don't worry. You will learn to read. It will happen suddenly, and it will feel like a thunderbolt resounding in your head, and you will be astonished, and it will lead you into a thousand other worlds.

6: 'Just ignore them and they'll stop doing it' is the worst piece of advice you will ever be given.

7: The way they treat you is not okay.

8: The way they treat you is not okay.

9: The way they treat you is not okay.

10: This new friendship group is great, but it will not survive one of its members returning to East Timor. Sorry about that.

11: The way they treat you is not okay.

12: You've cut your hair and pierced your ears and changed your name. That's a good start. These new friends you've made in high school seem pretty great. You might want to hang onto them.

It's okay that you love Hanson. You don't need to be embarrassed.

13: The way she treats you is not okay.

14: The way they treat you is not okay.

15: He's not a mind-reader. Tell him how you feel about him.

16: He's not a mind-reader. Tell (this different) him how you feel about him.

17: You're right. You have found your tribe. Hold on to this feeling. You will feel it again, but not for a very long time.

18: You're right. Leaving Canberra does feel like cutting your heart out. You are going to take six years to get over this, but I promise you that eventually you will feel that same sense of place in Sydney.

19: Your mother is amazing, but you don't need to take all her advice.

20: How you're feeling is not your friends' fault.

21: You are making really good academic choices.

How you're feeling is not your friends' fault.

22: I wish I could say 'don't move back to Canberra', but if you didn't, you'd never meet the sraffies, and you'd never go to Cambridge, so you're going to have to grin and bear it.

23: You have made the best and bravest decision of your life.

Remember what I said about finding your tribe? Yeah, you've found them.

24: What he did to you was not okay.

25: You will never feel such extremes of emotion again.

He saved you, but don't make it mean more than it should.

One day, you will be grateful to him for walking away when you couldn't.

(Late 25 and) 26: Hold onto this one. He is what home feels like.

27: Don't move to Heidelberg.

28: Applying for JRFs is a waste of your time and limited emotional energy.

29: See! You were capable of getting a PhD.

30: I'll get back to you in December.
dolorosa_12: (ship)
My partner's parents visited us in Cambridge over the Easter long weekend (and will be here for the next week or so). We mostly stayed close to home, although we ventured out to the Scott Polar Research Museum on Saturday. On Sunday I cooked a rather over the top lunch, and yesterday we went on a bit of a seaside adventure to Hunstanton.

Photos behind the cut )

I love the sea, and I really miss it. In Sydney I was a five-minute walk from water, and had a clear view of Sydney Harbour from the roof of my apartment building. I grew up swimming in the ocean. I miss having it as part of my regular landscape.
dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
Those of you who are friends with me on other social media will know this already, but I wanted to let the LJ/Dreamwidth crowd know my good news as well.

Just over two weeks ago, I interviewed for pretty much my dream job: a full-time senior library assistant post with responsibility for the library's teaching and training programme. You may recall that my work situation was rather complicated: I had three part-time jobs in three different libraries, and, while I didn't talk about it much, the main job of those three was extremely unsatisfying. It was chronicly short-staffed, chaotically managed (as a result of the understaffing), and I was paid two grades lower than my responsibilities would have suggested. I appreciated it as it came along just as my PhD funding stopped, and my coworkers were well-meaning people, but I had been looking for a way out for some time.

In any case, to cut a long story short, I was short-listed for this new job, gave what I thought was a very good interview (and, more than that was just really impressed by the people running this new library, who seemed extremely energetic and competent, which is what I want from colleagues) and then spent a fretful twenty-four hours waiting to hear back.

In case it isn't fairly obvious by now, I got the job!

I'm utterly over the moon about this. I feel rejuvenated and re-inspired about library work (which had been wearing me down and making me feel like I was gradually becoming a very angry person whose empathy was being eroded), I feel enthusiastic about the thought of going to work, and I just feel as if I'm finally going to be able to use my academic teaching experience in a productive way. I got into library work to help people learn, and I care a lot about information literacy, so this job is going to be perfect. I'm thrilled, as you can imagine.

Due to a series of administrative screw ups, I ended up being owed a huge amount of time in lieu, as well as holidays left over from the last academic year, and as a result I'm not going to have to work in my current Main Library Job again. My other two jobs are term-time only, and so from 6pm today onwards, I'm on holiday. It's quite nice to have essentially an entire month off.

2014 has (mostly) been a very kind year to me.
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
Day Four: A female character you relate to

Aria Montgomery from Pretty Little Liars (TV series, not books). Spoilers for the entire series so far.

This may appear to be a slightly left-field choice, so let me explain. No, I'm not and have never been in a relationship with my English teacher, and I'm certainly not being stalked and abused by a shadowy network of enemies who always have excellent wifi service, a great sense of timing and a penchant for arranging creepy dolls in dark, abandoned buildings. However, her family dynamic is really similar to my own, almost to the letter (my parents are journalists, not academics and teachers, and I have sisters, not a brother, but other than that, they're basically the same) and I identify really strongly with her on that level.

Also, teenage me was very like Aria, in that I kind of viewed my life through the lens of literary references and used literature as a sort of guide for my emotional response to any given situation. Aria's life is measured out in the twentieth century literary canon and classic films, while I preferred fantasy literature, folk tales, fairy tales and mythology, but the result is the same. Your life becomes a series of episodes with deep mythic resonance, your relationships are reincarnations of epic literary love affairs, and you have a quote to make sense of every occasion. It's a coping mechanism, and a way to give yourself more power than you perhaps feel in reality. For this reason, I'm frustrated when fans of Pretty Little Liars talk of Aria's pretentiousness, emotional remoteness and detachment. She feels things really deeply! She's just talking about them and dealing with them in a language that makes them easier for her to understand!

For the same reason, I feel very defensive in the face of the general fannish rhetoric about Aria. She's often perceived as being very distant from the main storyline of Pretty Little Liars, and there's talk that the danger experienced by Aria is less than that experienced by the other three Liars. It's as if the fandom forgets she was nailed into a coffin with a corpse and almost thrown off a train. Or that her father's girlfriend drugged her, then locked her in a cellar and tried to kill her. And so on. If there's distance between Aria and the A plot of any given episode, this was because for a long time her storylines were tied to her relationship with Ezra, which for some reason was kept cordoned off from the ongoing threat to the four girls. Now that Ezra seems to be in the loop about the threat posed by A to the girls, let's hope that detachment will disappear completely.

The other days )

Ynys Môn

Aug. 25th, 2014 03:03 pm
dolorosa_12: (ship)
I've just got back from a pretty fabulous few days in North Wales (mainly Anglesey). My friends B and M were getting married there, and Matthias and I decided to go for a few extra days so that we could have a holiday and visit our other friends in that part of the world, K ([ profile] gwehyddarbyd) and P, who had a one-year-old baby boy whom we hadn't met yet.

It essentially takes half a day to get to Bangor (the nearest train station) from Cambridge, so we arrived late on Wednesday afternoon. We were staying in the hotel that would be the wedding reception venue. This is something we've started doing recently, and it make a huge difference, as it means we're able to stumble on up to bed without worrying about taxis or leaving at a specific time with whoever is giving us a lift. The hotel itself was amazing, and a bit more expensive than we'd normally like, but since this was basically going to be our only holiday this year, we decided it would be okay.

On the night before the wedding, we met up with some other Cambridge friends, P and R, for drinks in a couple of the (excellent) pubs, and had what was honestly the best (British) Indian meal of my life at this restaurant. Seriously, if you are ever in Beaumaris, go there. It's amazing. I almost can't go back to any other Indian restaurant after this meal, such was its quality.

The wedding itself was on the Thursday afternoon, so Matthias and I spent the morning wandering around the town. It was fairly typical Welsh weather (i.e. it eventually began pouring with rain), but we managed to take a few photos. It's a very beautiful landscape.

Photos behind the cut )

The wedding was in a small chapel in Anglesey, and the service was performed by B's dad, who is a minister. The ceremony was bilingual (with the odd bit of English) - B is a native Welsh speaker, and M is Polish - in Welsh and Polish, with the vows being said in both languages. I speak neither language (though I can understand bits and pieces of Welsh), but the obvious happiness of everyone involved was enough to move me.

This was followed by the reception, which had some of the most fabulously cheesy music to which I have ever had the pleasure of dancing. We stayed up until about 1.30 or 2am, which wasn't super late, although I regretted it in the morning.

The next morning, K picked us up from the hotel and we moved in to stay with them for a couple of days. As she and P have a small baby, we mostly had to stay at home, but since I adore small children (and their son is particularly lovely), that was no hardship. We ate lots of delicious food, played a bunch of board games, watched a bit of TV, and mostly basked in the adorableness of the baby. We also went out to Conwy for an afternoon.

I'd been feeling a bit out of sorts, but a few days away, in such a beautiful landscape, and with such wonderful people, was enough to raise my spirits. It's hard to be unhappy when a small baby dressed in a panda suit is flailing around at you, smiling ecstatically.
dolorosa_12: (sleepy hollow)
It's not every day you get a PhD. It's not every day you get a new sister. I was lucky and got both on the one day. 19th July is certainly going to be this year's most memorable day!

My dad had been making vague noises all year about coming to Cambridge for my graduation, but I knew that his and my stepmother's new baby was due on 29th July and it was probably not a good idea for him to be on the other side of the world. In any case, I was proved right - I was woken up by a text from my dad at about 1am on Saturday, informing me that the baby had been born early. Her name is Maud, and she is the youngest of five sisters, joining me, Miriam (who has the same mother and father as me), Kitty and Nell (who have a different mother to me and Miriam). People were joking on Facebook that my father is like a modern-day Mr Bennet (from Pride and Prejudice) or Tevye. I'm just glad his economic future doesn't depend on marrying us all off! There is a range of twenty-nine years in our ages, and we're all at such different stages of life: I've just finished a PhD, Miriam finished an MA last year and is working for the public service, Kitty is going into high school next year, Nell is in the early stages of primary school and Maud is a newborn baby.

Anyway, I managed to get back to sleep after being woken by Dad's text, I woke up and it was my graduation day. My mother and Miriam had come to the UK specially to be here for this, and they and Matthias were my guests. Graduation in Cambridge is a rather strange affair: students all have to wear black and white clothing (suits, black skirts and white blouses, or black dresses)* and a combination of hood and gown which varies depending on the degree they are to receive, any Cambridge degrees they already hold, and their age. As I already held a Cambridge MPhil, I had to wear an MPhil gown and hood. Graduating students have to process from their colleges to the Senate House through the centre of town. I'm lucky - my college is a two-minute walk from the Senate House - but it was a swelteringly hot day, and also kept threatening to rain. The woman next to me in the procession was someone I knew vaguely - she was also an Australian, and we'd both been wheeled out at the same event a while back to talk to a bunch of Indigenous people who were interested in coming to Cambridge (neither of us are Indigenous, but they just wanted Australians to give their impressions).

The ceremony itself is always very brief. Students are led forward four at a time by their college's Praelector, presented to the Vice Chancellor in Latin, and kneel down one by one before him (when I received my MPhil, the Vice Chancellor was a woman, but she has since retired). He mumbles a bit more Latin over the student, and that's it. I was concentrating so much on not tripping over my gown when I stood up that the whole thing was a bit of a blur, but Matthias said he felt a bit weepy.

Then we milled around outside the Senate House for ages, and took photos. I only have one so far, but once my mum's emailed me hers, I will upload them too.

 photo 10520086_10100955798768770_7477471729212381438_n_zps44805d5a.jpg

Graduation was followed by a buffet lunch in my college's formal hall. We were lucky to be seated next to a really nice Irish family, who became extremely chatty when they discovered what I had studied. I've never met an unfriendly Irish person, nor one who was uncomfortable talking to complete strangers. I'm sure they exist, but I've never met them.

After lunch, we met up with some friends for drinks in a nearby pub. People came and went, but the group included Former Housemate H, Former Sort-of Housemate J2, V, P, R, Matthias, Miriam, Mum and me.

So all in all, a wonderful day, filled with celebrations. I'm very relieved to be closing a door on the PhD side of my life. The PhD years were good years, growing years, learning years, changing years, but also very challenging years. I'm grateful to have been able to learn what I learnt about medieval Irish literature. The stories I studied were beautiful and will stay with me forever. And there really are no people like a really enthusiastic bunch of medievalists to have as friends. But once was enough! And a PhD is as far as I'd like to go in terms of academia (although I'm not ruling out some kind of taught MA at some point in the future).

I am Dr Dolorosa, and that's enough for now.
*Those in the military are allowed to wear military uniform, and students are also allowed to wear 'national dress', although this is very vaguely defined. I've seen some women graduate in saris or kimono, and that's about it.
dolorosa_12: (una)
This time five years ago, I was getting ready to go to my department's annual garden party, over the moon because I had submitted my MPhil and was confident of passing, and of being accepted for a PhD place at Cambridge. Today, I'm getting ready for the garden party, happy in the knowledge that my PhD corrections have been approved and that (after I've paid an extortionate amount for binding and submitted a hardbound copy to the Board of Graduate Studies) I will be graduating in July as Dr Dolorosa!

These past five years have been a mixed bag. Some parts of being a PhD student were filled with joy, while others threw me into despair, self-doubt and fury. I am glad to have written it, and to have learnt what I learnt - about medieval Irish literature, and about myself. I am so grateful that it allowed me to meet a truly wonderful bunch of people, and to become part of several amazing international groups of friends. I met my partner because of my PhD. As a result of my PhD, I had the good fortune to meet several awe-inspiring older women who have acted as mentors for me in all sorts of ways. I can speak and read a good many more languages than I could five years ago!

My PhD gave so much. It took a lot from me, though. I don't talk a lot about that very often, because ultimately I feel that I made the right decision. If nothing else, doing a PhD at Cambridge got me to where I wanted and needed to be, with the right people around me, and the opportunity to meet others who, although not much a part of my life right now, connected with me at the right time to help me become myself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my PhD allowed me to live. And while I never want to live through those years again (some of them were just packed with so much living and so many emotions that they were exhausting), I am privileged and grateful to carry them with me.
dolorosa_12: (doctor horrible)
When I was 12, in 1997, our English class studied Harp In The South, Ruth Park's classic story of a poor family living in the slums of Surry Hills in Sydney. (This is hilarious on multiple levels, because Surry Hills is now one of the most expensive, posh parts of the city. What a different fifty years makes.) I loved the book, but the important point is that it had a character in it called Dolour Darcy. I'd never heard of the word 'Dolour' before, and I looked it up, loved its meaning, and promptly adopted it for myself as a kind of pen-name in my paper diaries. You have to remember that I was a very emo teenager, and a word that meant 'sorrow' appealed to me. At some point, I started sticking 'Inviolate' at the end (because unbreakable sorrow was clearly better than just sorrow), and at least one of my email addresses still has that as the name of the account. I joined a couple of online forums around 1999 with the username 'Dolour', but I drifted away.

By 2001, the word 'dolour' itself had lost some of its appeal. I didn't like how it sounded the same as 'dollar'. But then I realised that the Latin form of the word, Dolorosa, was even more beautiful and appropriate. It sounded lovely, it meant the same thing, and it had even more histrionic allusions contained within it. I joined the Republic of Heaven with the username 'Aletheia Dolorosa' (the 'Aletheia' is an allusion to the alethiometer in His Dark Materials) in 2003. I joined Livejournal as [personal profile] dolorosa_12 the same year. As I spent more time online, the number of Dolorosae increased. 'dolorosa' on Obernet. @ronnidolorosa on Twitter. RonniDolorosa on IRC. And so on.

The point I want to make is that I've been using some form of the name 'Dolorosa' since the mid-90s, and using it online for over ten years. Where I could, such as on Tumblr and Ao3 and forums, I used the name in its pure form. When another Dolorosa had got there first, I modified it with numbers or my first name. And this didn't bother me very much. The issue is, the word, in whatever form it takes, has become something of an identity.

I know people online who shed names like skins, slipping between identities when the old one stops having any meaning. But I have never wanted to be anything other than Dolorosa. If I could be bothered, I sometimes think I would make it a middle name, although in actual fact I associate it only with online life. But even though almost everyone online calls me by my real name, Ronni, and I certainly don't hide it, I feel so strongly Dolorosa, and love my online moniker so much. I couldn't contemplate changing it.

Dolorosa, most specifically, designates the part of me that is articulate, whose words are listened to and understood. I struggle so much in real life to give my words meaning and purpose and clarity, and I fail dismally a lot of the time, and I fear above all things not being listened to, not being understood or not being believed, that it matters so much to me that here is one place, one identity, where that's never a problem. For whatever reason, I express myself best in written (and, most specifically, blogging) format - in words attached to the name Dolorosa.

All this is by way of preamble to an encounter I had this morning. I woke up to find a message in my Tumblr inbox from another user, who said they'd 'been monitoring your Tumblr for three months', and asked if I would exchange URLs as I'd not posted. I politely told the user an abbreviated and less emotional version of what I've just said to all of you, and that seems to have been the end of it - but this isn't the first time that I've been contacted with this particular request.

I can understand the user's frustration, especially since I suspect they want Dolorosa for its Homestruck allusions (am I correct in assuming there's something in Homestruck called 'the Dolorosa'?) and I don't appear to have chosen my username for any particular purpose, but as you can see, I am someone who puts a great deal of weight on names, identity and the intersection thereof. Whenever I encounter a name online, I assume it's been chosen with as much thought, emotion and deliberation as mine (which makes usernames like 'ilovetoast' even more hilarious). I wouldn't dream of asking a random stranger to change their username because they don't seem to be doing much with it - that name is the identity they have chosen for themselves. And, as has happened many times to me, if someone has got to my preferred username first, I have just shrugged my shoulders and modified it with underscores, numbers or additional words. That's the internet I grew up with. It seems so entitled to behave otherwise.

On a lighter, but related note, one of my friends at Cambridge has become known as 'Eugene, Lord of the Stallions'. Eugene is the anglicised version of his (Irish) name, and Lord of the Stallions is a somewhat inaccurate translation of his surname.
dolorosa_12: (travis)
I've been meaning to write this post for ages, but I lacked inspiration to do so until today. What are Ronni Tropes, you ask? Well, in the spirit of that black hole of the internet, TV Tropes, I've put together a list of the stories, themes and, yes, tropes that will never fail to grip me. Normally I'd do so with a huge amount of introspection, wondering why said trope speaks to me, but I'll leave that up to the rest of you if you are so inclined.

All my stories )

I think that's enough to be going on with. What are your favourite storytelling tropes, the things that will hook you in no matter what the media, no matter how uninteresting you find all other aspects of the text? And what are your least-favourite tropes?

*It seems the Romanitas trilogy ticks pretty much every single one of my boxes. No wonder I'm always praising it so much.


dolorosa_12: (Default)
rushes into my heart and my skull

September 2017



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