dolorosa_12: (travis)
When I was doing the 2010 meme, it struck me that some of my answers could probably be expanded. In particular, I felt that I wanted to write a bit more about the things that keep me sane. It goes without saying that #btts is the single greatest contributor to my wellbeing, but I don't really feel like writing about #btts right now. There are three other things that keep me sane, though, and I want to write about them.

First and foremost are my housemates. Words cannot describe how happy they make me. I don't think it's quite possible to understand how essential good living circumstances are until you find yourself living in less than ideal conditions. That was me, last academic year: I was living in a fifteen-person, grad student house owned by my college. I didn't choose any of my housemates, and although most of them were nice people, I considered them acquaintances at best, even after a year of living with them. I ate every meal in my room at my desk, and spent all the time I wasn't cooking or showering in my bedroom, alone.

But now I live in a house with four of my friends (one of them is my boyfriend, although we weren't dating when I moved in). We have a kitchen and a living room with a TV in it, we have take-away places and pubs and supermarkets and off-licenses within a five-minute walking distance (the only thing that's missing is a decent cafe). I'm never in my room. I talk to people in the kitchen, watch TV or films at night with my friends or simply sit around reading in the common areas. It's a home, not just a house.

Then there is my favourite cafe. The quality of the coffee is changeable, but the food is always good. The baristas and waitstaff are friendly but not obsequious. We talk to each other about our lives, about Cambridge gossip, about news and current affairs. The music is good (in fact, it was this cafe that introduced me to The Knife). It has free newspapers.

Most importantly, it is, in a sense, mine. It is the only place in Cambridge that I discovered for myself. Literally every other place in which I hang out - four or five other cafes, the ten pubs that my friends and I frequent, the two cocktail bars, the restaurants - was introduced to me by other people. I stumbled upon this cafe on the second day I was in Cambridge as I was wandering around the city in a daze, and it was a wonderfully serendipitous discovery. For the most part, I go there alone, and drink coffee, eat bagels and read the newspaper, and I feel a wonderful, cozy sense of belonging.

Finally, there is running. I've been running since mid-2008, and I try to run every day. I began running for two reasons: to keep my weight at a level with which I'm satisfied while enabling me to eat and drink at a level with which I'm satisfied, and for general fitness. But it had another, unexpected benefit: it improved my psychological wellbeing too. There is something incredibly relaxing to the mind about jogging smoothly along beside the river, while dance music blasts into your ears, your feet keeping time with the bass. I have never thought better and more clearly than when I run. I write book reviews, blog posts, thesis chapters or journal articles in my head and then transfer them to page and screen when I get home.

But it's more than that. When I run, I feel washed clean. I feel calm and peaceful. I feel strong.

Obviously my three sane-makers won't work for everyone, but they work for me. They give me a place to call home, a home away from home, and a zen-like sense of peace. I am so grateful to have them.
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I've just got back from my favourite cafe. I had been planning to sit there drinking coffee and editing my literature review, but it didn't really go to plan. I should've remembered not to go into central Cambridge during the weekend. Tourists! *shakes fists angrily*

Ranting within )
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
So, I've been having one of my periodic bouts of misplaced nostalgia, and for some reason this got me thinking about the various cliques within the Arts Faculty at Sydney Uni when I was a student there. You'll know the ones I mean.

Rose-tinted glasses ahoy! )

There is nothing that will replace those things. I am here, and they are there, and for the most part, I can distract myself with my thesis and my friends and my books. But every so often, when I have too much time to think, I think about home, and I think about homesickness, and I'm reminded of all the little things which I cannot live without. And yet I do, and I will, and I must.

*Yes, this doesn't quite fit the context, but those who went to Sydney will get why I'm using that particular piece of Latin, and the rest of you can Google and work it out.
dolorosa_12: (matilda)
Reasons why [livejournal.com profile] losseniaiel is awesome:

1. She made me this icon to use in [livejournal.com profile] romanitas_fans:
una,icons,romanitas

2. She gave me this book for my birthday.

3. She rocked up to the pub today with a bottle of port for me for a Christmas present.

4. She inspires me to keep trying with my fiction writing, just by listening to me babbling on about my ideas and by telling me about her own rather excellent ideas for stories.

I miss having her around in Cambridge so very much.

Le weekend

Jan. 18th, 2010 07:31 pm
dolorosa_12: (travis)
I have had an absolutely fantastic weekend. It kicked off with graduate dinner in Hall on Saturday. This was the menu )

The next day, I caught a bus out with [livejournal.com profile] losseniaiel, who was in Cambridge for a couple of days, and several other friends, to Reach, which is a small village nearby. We were celebrating the birthday of one of my friends, and it was a really excellent way to do so. We had a fantastic Sunday lunch in the pub there, which was delicious. It was a bit of a trek from the bus stop to the pub (and back again), which was excellent, as the food was fabulous, and served in large quantities. We rounded off the day with trips to several other Cambridge pubs, only tottering home around 11pm after closing time.

All in all, an excellent weekend.
dolorosa_12: (drink heavily)
Last night I went out to the pub with a bunch of ASNaCs. We had all been at a talk given by one of the postdocs in the department. There were so many of us that we didn't fit at one table. Somehow it worked out that I was in the first group, which was all Germanicists, while the second group, which included the speech-giving postdoc and my supervisor, was all Celticists.

All of a sudden, one of my Germanicist friends noticed this odd segregation - and the fact that I was the sole Celticist hanging out with the Germanicists. After some consultation, they decided that I was one of the kidnapped Irish people mentioned in the Icelandic sagas (not being a Germanicist, I have no idea of the name of this kidnapped Irish person), a Celtic exile.

This amused us greatly.

I love the ASNaCs.
dolorosa_12: (captain haddock)
When I was a high school student, I was incredibly busy, to put it mildly.

It's frightening how much I did in one normal week )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
I've been writing epically recently, not only online, but also for my PhD. I'm now sitting on about 2000 words, which pleases me immensely. But today I'd like to show you some of my less academic writing.

First, here's my (supposedly) weekly Longvision post. It's about Christian symbolism and the character of Sulien, and it's the sort of thing I wish I could spend more time pondering.

I've got two posts on Geata Póeg na Déanainn. The first is just a general post about life in Cambridge this term - my regular update that sums up the Cambridge experience in a more formal way than I do on this blog. The second post is a review of Kate Elliott's Crossroads series. It might be slightly spoilery for the first two books. The focus is on Elliott's positive depiction of middle-class characters in a medieval world, which is something of a rarity in fantasy literature.

I've got a couple more links for you. First up, something I stumbled upon through [livejournal.com profile] metafandom. It's a rather interesting post pondering the appeal of the Twilight series, which, as you know, is something I ponder myself from time to time. I think you'll be interested in the conclusions the blogger reaches.

If you're not reading The Intern, a fantastically snarky look at the publishing world, you should be. Her recent post on author websites had me wondering whether to laugh or cry. As someone who has struggled recently trying to track down authors' publicity representatives in order to get review copies of books sent to me, let me reiterate The Intern's complaints: Authors! Fix your websites! Most importantly, include a link to your representatives at each of your publishing companies, with contact details! You would make this reviewer very grateful.

Check out John Scalzi's remarks on Fox 'News' and Obama. He's spot on as usual.

I discovered, via Justine Larbalestier's blog, the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] sarahtales (author Sarah Rees Brennan). She's got some very interesting things to say on the double standards readers tend to hold in relation to female characters. It's good food for thought.

That's probably enough for you to be going on with for now!
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
But first, a couple of links: a post on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. It's a bit spoilerish if you haven't read the whole series. Here's a new character study on my Longvision blog. It's about Dama, and is also spoilery.

The last of my new housemates have trickled this week. It's an interesting mix of people - four fourth-year undergrads, quite a few first-, second- and third-year PhD students (including yours truly) and about five new MPhils. It's a very different dynamic to last year, which makes me realise how much the composition of housemates determines a house's character.

A bit of nostalgia follows )
dolorosa_12: (daria)
And the prize for the most wanky blog post title goes to...

Most of you will know about this already, but I felt it needed a blog post in order to really convince me that it happened (yeah, my logic is not really logical, I know).

Yesterday, as I walked down the street to get coffee, I was thinking, 'This is it. I'm not going to be able to continue at Cambridge. I don't have funding. I'm not going to get funding. I'll be back in Australia in a month.' I started making my back up plans.

I didn't check my email until 8pm. But when I did, I found not one, but TWO emails offering me funding. Put together, it's enough for me to do my PhD here! I was, as you can imagine, ecstatic.

It's funny what starts happening once you give up. I should give up more often...
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I bring you not one, but two new posts on my various other blogs: this one, on Longvision is about the community of escaped slaves at Holzarta, while there's a post on Geata Póeg na Déannain about life, graduation and all that.

ETA a great post on Tiger Beatdown about the film Gingersnaps, being a teenage girl, and feminism. I haven't seen the movie, but the post makes me want to, if only to write a post locating it in the general Buffy-related landscape...

Also, this post on the RiotACT makes me sad. As far as I understand it, the Chaser guys were making a point that clambering all over Uluru is as offensive to the indigenous community as clambering over a church in climbing gear might be to some Christians. That seems a valid point to me. But some of the comments make me despair. The thing that irritates me the most is some commenters' inability to call Uluru by its proper name. It hasn't been called 'Ayers Rock' for 20 years, and continually, pointedly doing so is just increasing the level of offensiveness in each comment.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Well, that viva was fun, if by 'fun' you mean 'travelling around with St Brendan, existing on a diet of lentils, while Dr Thunderous Laughter quizzes you about Middle Irish linguistic features'. In other words, I have no idea how I went. The questions seemed difficult, the examiners seemed determined to play devil's advocate, and I left feeling demoralised, but that may have more to do with my natural inclination towards pessimism than any actual problems with my viva. All the PhD students claimed that their vivas were easy (L. even claimed he was hungover while he did his). That didn't feel easy to me!

Then [livejournal.com profile] losseniaiel and I went out and drank cheap Australian wine and commiserated.

I feel like I should be more upset than I actually am, but I can't make myself feel worried. If this is all there is, if MPhil is as far as I get academically, it won't be the end of the world. I don't feel like I'm owed anything by Cambridge, and if all I get out of this year is a fantastic group of friends and a sense of belonging somewhere, in some time and some place, it really, really will be enough. I can't emphasise this enough. My MPhil year was the making of me, and if I now lapse back into mediocrity, I know that for 2008-09 I became better, tried harder, thought more, and was who I was supposed to be at that time. And that is enough.

May Week!

Jun. 18th, 2009 09:59 pm
dolorosa_12: (drink heavily)
This past week has been May Week in Cambridge (no, don't ask me why May Week is in June, it just is). It's basically a week of insane (and I mean insane) hedonism between exams and exam results being posted. I only went to three events (St John's College May Ball, ASNaC garden party and Wine Soc garden party) but they were certainly the events to go to. I took a few photos, but since I am an atrocious photographer, especially when it gets dark, they're not really representative. But there are lots of photos floating around on Facebook if you feel that you haven't got enough of the May Week insanity.

May Ball was odd. I had a moment, when the fireworks (better than Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks, and set to music) were going off, when I felt an absolute disgust at the amount of money being poured into the whole event. Someone had told me it cost £10 million. That's right, £10 million. The closet socialist in me suddenly started getting very upset that £10 million was being spent on fireworks and merry-go-rounds and five entertainment stages filled with performers (including Calvin Harris and the Puppini Sisters) from 9pm to 5am and so much food and drink that it could feed a small country. So I danced until I was delirious and tried not to think about it too much.

The thing is, I love dancing, but I'm not a huge fan of clubbing. As I've said on many occasions, I'd rather dance in ugly pants in the comfort of a lounge room in suburbia. But I adore dancing at events like balls and formals and so I was in my element. Calvin Harris was amazing (as were the Puppini Sisters, whom I'd never heard of), but the dag in me liked the silent disco the most. One hour of dancing to the kind of playlist of the house parties of my undergrad years (Breathe by the Prodigy, Hey Ya by OutKast, Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet, etc) was absolutely amazing. Everyone was singing and it was just wonderful.

ASNaC garden party (in Newnham College) was great. I slurped down cup after cup of Pimm's and sat on the grass in a rather dazed state (it was the day after May Ball) chatting to my friends and trying not to feel as if it was the end of an era.

I'll be so sorry for this year to end.

You knew you couldn't escape without a bit of camwhoring )
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I wrote this in my 'paper' diary this morning, but looking at it, I think I'd like to put it out in the semi-public domain of this blog. I was thinking about yesterday's meme, with the question 'what's the best way of telling someone that s/he means something to you?' and for me, this is a way I can let certain people know how much they mean to me. It's slightly edited.

This is going to get very, very wordy )

I suspect this will be very tl;dr to most of you, but I want the ASNaCs and other Cambridge friends of mine who read this blog to know that they mean so much to me. It's very hard for me to say these things directly to you, but that doesn't mean I don't feel these things.
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I got back several hours ago from going to Strawberry Fair with three of my friends. It was loads of fun. We followed the dreadlocked, brightly-dressed, percussion-beating, stilt-walking throng as they paraded through central Cambridge to Midsummer Common (taking a slight detour and getting lost...). I felt a momentary twinge of regret that I was not one of the drumming multitude. Sometimes I miss my days of doing street theatre for Amnesty. I miss being one of the weirdos that everyone looks at.

Anyway, the fair was great. I actually ate decent food (a felafel roll that actually tasted like it was freshly made, from a vegetarian shop, a crepe with lemon and sugar, and home-made lemonade). We mostly spent our time people-watching. It was as if there was a whole different Cambridge, and it only came out once a year. Dreadlocked hippies. Goths in black lace and scary-looking platform boots. Girls dressed in day-glo leggings, ballet skirts and fairy wings. Emo kids in asymmetric haircuts and 'Team Edward' jumpers. Where have these people been the past eight months? Hanging out in attics on Mill Road? THESE are my people.

Oh, don't get me wrong, Cambridge does quirky, but it's a different kind of quirky. The kind that involves tweed, monocles and mispronounced Latin mumbled in thanksgiving before sitting down to dinner in Hall.

We spent the last hour or so at the fair listening to music and passively smoking way too much of the pot that the group behind us was smoking. That might explain why we came up with the brilliant idea of Pimp My Punt. We were talking about Pimms, and somehow my friend misheard it as 'pimp' and somehow this led to the idea of punts fitted out with subwoofers, lurid paint and bling. It made sense at the time.

Anyway, then I came home and reread Sunshine by Robin McKinley. My God. It's been a while since a book has possessed me like this one. I bought it yesterday and have already read it four times. I've been listening to Nightwish nonstop, which with me is always a sign that something epic is going on. When I came home from Watchmen, I switched on Nightwish and blasted my room. Same when I read the 'The Sound of Her Wings' Sandman comic.

Entitlement? )
dolorosa_12: (Cirque)
I've got a few links for you. First up, a post about Easter Term (so far) at Cambridge. I've also got the next of my character studies up at Longvision. It's slightly spoilery.

[livejournal.com profile] cherith posted a link to some rather fabulous electronic music last week. Apologies to the sraffies, who have already seen these, but I thought the music was too cool to deprive the rest of my f-list.

trippyness lurks here )
dolorosa_12: (pagan)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] steamboatsnorri for letting me steal his photos.

Conforming to ASNaC stereotypes? Do you even need to ask? )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I've had a fabulous 24 hours.
Photobucket
Last night (it was after midnight, so it counts as today), I watched the Super Bowl with American, British and Indian housemates. It was full of stellar commentary ('points are going to be really important in this game'), but the highlight was half time, when we went outside and had a snowball fight.

Then I went to sleep and woke up to this amazing, silent, beautiful snow-covered morning. I am nearly beside myself with hysterical joy about it, because I come from a country where stuff doesn't fall out of the sky. In Melbourne, it is currently 45 degrees Celsius and the train tracks are buckling.

I went off to class, and then had a snowball fight with my friend. Then I went home and did Latin homework, and came back to the department in time for the Monday lunch that we have every week. We started to hear a lot of interesting noises outside, and went onto the balcony and saw a large group of British-Chinese students waving flags and playing drums. It was apparently a counter-protest to protect the Chinese Premier (who was visiting) from a group of pro-Tibet protesters.

We watched them for a while, noted the snipers who had taken up positions on the Linguistics side of the English faculty building (we were on the library/ASNaC side) and then proceeded to have a snowball fight and build a snow Loch Ness monster and Viking ship. We were having a great time until the snipers noticed us, and sent university security people over to get us off the balcony. Apparently we were in a good position to assassinate the Chinese Premier. Not only were we forced off the balcony (which was locked), they yelled at the departmental secretary and banned us from sitting in the common room for an hour. I had Irish class, so I didn't mind, but everyone was pretty annoyed. The security guys also stepped on our Viking ship, which irritated us all immensely.

Anyway, I will have to edit this when people put up the snow Viking ship photos, but until then, enjoy my camera-happy snow photos.

Now I understand why everyone teased me about my excitement at the few spots of snow that fell a month or so ago )

Whew. I've now put those photos up on the 'Pub, Facebook and LJ. Each required copy-pasting code or lots of labelling. At least I didn't have to write the code myself...

I was planning to do that '25 random things' meme. [livejournal.com profile] soapyhermit and [livejournal.com profile] stefeny have both tagged me, but I'll have to do it tomorrow, I think. My hands (and shoulders and neck) have had enough.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
...and it's the same, the same philosophy. (I'm alluding to this song, of course.)

Anyway, here are my thoughts on Lent Term so far. Enjoy!

Snow!

Jan. 5th, 2009 01:53 pm
dolorosa_12: (daria)
When I woke up this morning, it was snowing. Because I come from a country where it barely rains, let alone snows, I was inordinately excited. Up until moving to Cambridge, I think I'd seen real snow four times in my life: one freezing winter when we were driving from Canberra to Sydney and it began to snow just before Goulburn, the time in Canberra that everyone my age talks about ('I've seen snow once. You know, that one time it snowed, the year we were all three/four'), and maybe twice on my four ski trips to Thredbo or Perisher. So seeing snow falling softly in my back yard was quite a big deal. So I went a little crazy with the camera.

Snowy photos here )

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rushes into my heart and my skull

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