Sunday 23 November 2014

Sunday Sundries: Procrastinaaaaaation (Part Three)

Hi kids! Me again.
I am of course in the middle of writing an essay because that is what I do with my weekends now and also because I am a bad planner of things. Here's the deal: Each term (of which there are two) for each unit (of which there are also two) we have to do a seminar paper on whatever the topic is for that week. We chose these at the start of term, and the two I picked were in consecutive weeks. That'll be fine! I thought like the madwoman I am. I'll get ahead of myself and get them done really early and it won't be a problem that they're in consecutive weeks!
There are a few things I didn't realise. Like, Masters are actually really hard work and I don't even remember how to study anyway so basically all my spare time has been keeping on top of the next week's reading. Like, I have never gotten ahead of myself in my life. Like, I'm super lazy and wasted my whole reading week going shopping and eating and going to work, you know, shit like that. The point, anyway, is that I've learnt my lesson and next term will have these seminar papers spread very very far apart, because two weekends in a row where I don't have at least a little bit of a weekend? That is not working out so well for me. In that I now look like this:
Only with worse hair, and less happy. 
Anyway. I would say I'm on the home stretch now, which is kind of true only it's also worrying because I don't actually have an essay. That I have to read out loud. On Wednesday. I think the important thing to note is that I will have one, and it might not be very good, but still I will not be left mute in a room of very smart people. Which is totally a good thing.

So anyway. This is my life at the moment. I'm going round my Grandad's in a bit to celebrate my cousin's birthday, which was on Wednesday, and for a few hours I'm going to try and not think ESSAY ESSAY ESSAY. Because that's not healthy thinking, it has to be said. The weather here has been atrocious, so that's great for my mood, and also this Thursday coming would have been my nan's birthday- it's so weird that I don't have to think about getting her a card or anything, and I don't want to think about the fact that I don't have to think about it. I know for a fact that from now till Christmas I'm pretty much going to want to cry all the time, but I'm going to try not to do that because boo. But still. 

I've been pretty miserable in this post, huh? Rest assured that when I've had some rest and a not-essay writing weekend (Or, ok, Saturday, since I have to work next Sunday because I had a sick day this month which I couldn't really afford) I'll be a lot cheerier- or that is the hope. I hope you've all had fabulous weeks and months and everything, I'm just looking forward to a break!

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Shakespeare: Three Histories

Look, I told you I'd talk about Shakespeare again! Look at us being all smart! (I'm still procrastinating from that essay I told you about on Sunday. It's pretty bad. Still, I used to write essays on the weekend before they were due in on the Monday, and this one is for Thursday so it'll be fine! Right..?)

Anyway... Before this whole Shakespeare Masters thing, I hadn't read a Shakespeare History. This is a lie, because I had in fact read Richard III, but I consider that more of a Tragedy than a History, possibly because I studied Richard III in actual history, and... Shakespeare is full of shit. I mean, I remember my History teacher basically saying that in not so many words, so I consider Richard III preeeetty much fiction.

However! (Watch out, there's some learning coming!) It seems that basically all of the histories are like this- they're essentially a specific version of history that was popular in Elizabethan times, with some added details that serve the narrative well, and some theatrical flourishes that are just for the lucky viewers. Shakespeare essentially wrote two sets (or tetralogies, if you want to be all smart about it) of history plays, where he already mixed up history: Henry VI Parts One, Two and Three and Richard III were written first although historically later, and Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two, and Henry V were written later. We studied the second tetralogy, mainly, I think, because why would we study the one I had actually read a play from? That would just be crazy! (Seriously, for the first 6 weeks, we studied 7 plays and I'd read 1. DIFFICULT TIMES)

But anyway, here's some stuff I think about those plays. I still don't exactly love the Histories, but I'm more intrigued by them and think some of the issues surrounding them are interesting. But the plays themselves? Well...

Richard II
I actually really liked Richard II, and if you like reading Shakespeare just for the pretty pretty sounds his words make in your head (Um... that's not me? I totally have more reasons for studying him?) then you'll pretty much love this because it's written entirely in verse. I feel like that sounds like it sucks, but actually it's just like... *sigh* so pretty. I might just be making shit up here, but I feel like this has an important function, in that Richard II is the last 'rightful' king in this tetralogy, so it's almost like he gets all the kingly language before everything turns to shit. That's a technical term, btdubs. The verseyness also makes it all very DRAMATIC (Richard II is a pretty dramatic king. And by dramatic, I mean he seems kind of gay. He probably was at least bi because kings. They can do what they want) which is appropriate because it's all about rebellion and deposing and Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) being kind of an asshole after Richard II was kind of an asshole to him. 

Basically, I really liked it, and I now idealise it in my brain because the Henrys... Well, you'll see.

Henry IV, Part One
There's this soliloquy at the end of Act 1 Scene 2 given by the future Henry V that reminded me why I love Shakespeare, why I was spending my Saturday trying to read both parts of Henry IV (I know, right?) and why I continue living. It's pretty awesome and I kind of cheered at it whilst reading so there's that. As for the rest of Henry IV, Part One... Well. It's weird because if I consider it alongside second part, I love this one and haaaate that one, but even just this one... well, it's sort of all downhill after 1.2.

Ok, that's mean. It's not that bad! There's another rebellion trying to go down, Henry V (who is really the star of all three of the last plays in the tetralogy) is being all scoundrelly and, at least when he's Tom Hiddleston, very attractive, and there's a whole battle at the end and blah blah blah drama. Here's the thing though. I hate Falstaff. I fucking hate him so much. I don't find him even the tiniest bit funny, I'm weirdly annoyed with him for being a bad influence on little Henry V, even though Henry V reaaaally has the upper hand in that relationship and oh my GOD I just want him to shut up. I just... he's not a nice guy, and it kind of upsets me that people would think 'oh he's so funny LOL!' when actually he's just this massive asshole who should never have nice things happen to him. I just cannot with him. 

But still. Henry IV, Part One, is fine.

Henry IV, Part Two
I hate Henry IV, Part Two. There, I said it. It doesn't help that I really did read it straight after part one (well, part of it... I finished it on the Sunday) when I'd pretty much had my fill of Shakespeare for that one weekend and oh wow, the cruelty of having to read two plays in one week. Just, no. However. Henry IV, Part Two really does have its own issues that I can't deal with at all. There is SO MUCH Falstaff, SO MANY PUNS (of course Falstaff relies on puns for his comedy. Of course he does. Asshole) and there's less Henry IV to hang out with Falstaff and actually make his scenes relevant? This is all just me and my petty hatred, and I'm sure there are people who think Falstaff is the tits, but for me... Just no. 

It's also just... generally crapper than part one? Like, there's kind of a rebellion but it doesn't really happen, it's not as funny, it's just... It's kind of like the Grease 2 of Shakespeare, if you know what I mean. It sucks, is what I'm saying. It does get better towards the end, so there's that, and I want to like it more, but I just... don't. So there.

Henry V
I read Henry V (obviously). I half watched The Hollow Crown version whilst making notes for my essay. I still can't really tell you much about Henry V. I... There are speeches? And a fight? I mean, I could probably tell you more if I had actually made it to the seminar about it, but unfortunately, traffic, traffic, blah blah blah what can I say, I missed it. I thought I was going to like Henry V because of how much I liked the character in Henry IV, but it turns out that things change when you're king and you start talking about how you're going to rape all the women and put the babies' heads on pikes. And then there's fighting and killing and blah blah blah. I mean, it was still better than Henry IV, Part Two, but that's not really saying, well, anything. Aaaand so the histories might not be for me.

And finally, a note on women (of course). There are incredibly few women in these plays, and the ones that are there don't always speak English. As a result, women don't really have a voice in these plays, which seems about right because women don't really have a voice in history, I guess. It's interesting that, under a female monarch, Shakespeare decided not to include even a few more women (Henry V's mother, for example, is never seen... Although have I looked up if she would still have been alive? I have not.) It can be kind of frustrating to read, at least for me, because I always want to know 'what are the women doing?' and the answer in these plays is basically nothing, OR we don't even know... But they're not a part of the action! Goddammit.

Anyway. I'm glad I've now read some histories and I'm glad that part of the course is over. Bring on those tragedies and comedies, oh yeahhhhhh.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Sunday Sundries: Procrastinaaaaaaation (Part Two)

Hey kids! I'm doing really well at this talking about myself, and not so well at that talking about books thing, huh? Such is my life right now... And I'm in the middle of writing an essay, so that ain't good!
This week has been weird. I've been all over the place emotionally- winter does weird weird things to me, so when I haven't been feeling numb I've pretty much been crying, and if not crying then getting really angry and holy shit please just get me some damn sunshine. Today is the first day I've felt pretty ok, which is probably because I'm actually doing some of the work I've been putting off and getting progressively more scared of, and guess what? It's not that bad! Because of course it isn't.

Also, it's probably all the caffeine. Caffeine is magic.

This week has also been weird because oh my GOD the travel issues. I'm not kidding when I say that practically every day there's been something- Monday I got on the wrong train because it arrived at the same time as my train and I didn't check the board and I'm a dumbass. Thursday I was on a bus for two hours, one and a half hours of which was on the same roundabout and I missed uni (but I had wine instead, so that was fine) then Friday I had the double fun of getting absolutely soaked on my way into work, and then ridiculously delayed trains that meant I actually had to call in reinforcements (my mum) to get home. It's been kiiiiind of bullshit, and yet- things can only get better, right? RIGHT?!
My sad winter brain says no, but my deep down optimism says I really hope so. If not, I suppose there'll always be more wine so whatever, it's all good.

So how is reading stuff going, guys? I super miss just, you know, picking up a book and then reading it and going 'huh, cool!' maybe writing a bit of a gushing review about it and then moving on. I say this like I don't like Shakespeare anymore, and that is OBViously not true, but there's something to be said for recreational reading that I don't really have time for at the moment. I'm not despairing though- after the next couple of weeks, I've got two weeks of talking about films and The Sonnets (the sonnets are bullshit. Sorry) and then four weeks off (essay writing, Laura. But to all intents and purposes, yes, off) so it's kind of my refrain at the moment that I just get through the next two weeks and then I can ease off juuuust a little bit. I can at least aim not to spend my entire weekends reading articles and stuff, soooooo... Exciting!
So, to sum up: I'm mostly ok. I'm pretty tired. I need to finish this damn essay and stop looking at the damn internet, and try to remember how my brain works. Oh, and running and yoga are my ultimate saviours. Never underestimate those damn amazing endorphins, you guys. Also tell me about your liiiiiives because I read all your blogs on Friday night and probably didn't comment and don't remember who was who, but... Tell me all!

Sunday 9 November 2014

Sunday Sundries: Girls and Boys and Whatnot

Look at this guys! Another post that isn't reaaaally about books, but is still totally a life update that proves I haven't died! Winning..?

Either way, here are some sentences about my life. Last Sunday I was sick for no apparent reason, and having not eaten all day I thought it prudent to have a day off work on Monday which was both restful AND stressful because I totally don't get paid for sick days which is not at all cool. The rest of the week continued as normal, except it was also reading week which meant no seminars to go to at Uni. This was great on Wednesday, when I went shopping with a friend from work, and then had dinner with my sister at my house, for literally the first time ever; but less great on Thursday when I had to be at uni for 10am to sit and be told how to do a bibliography and shit like that. I KNOW HOW TO DO A FUCKING BIBLIOGRAPHY, OK?!

Sorry. That wasn't for you. That's just me.

So that was my week. It was ok, some parts were great, I just could have done without the illness at the start of it that felt like it lingered for the rest of it, maybe because I'm kiiiiind of rundown from working and learning and working and learning and not doing much else for, well, all of October. I was going to say I was burnt out, but I think that burnout is a long way away- or I hope so, at least!
But now for the matter at hand- boys and girls and whatnot. I've been living only with boys since August now, and I've been thinking about how much I really don't even think about it. This surprises me because, for essentially all my life, I've only been around girls. Obviously boys are basically unavoidable, but consider this: My childhood was spent with my sister, my two girl cousins, my mum, my auntie, my nan. All my best friends ever have been girls, basically all my friends have been girls, I've only ever lived with girls before, except for the first year of uni when there were 5 girls and 3 boys BUT we never saw the boys. All in all, it's been a pretty female-centric life.

Even now, if I'm being honest, I still see girls a lot more than I see boys. I work in an office that is majority female (there are literally two dudes we ever see), and, doing a Masters in English means that there are not a lot of penises in the room (three, out of about 16 people). My family is still majority women, and yet. The babies are boys. The people I see daily are boys. The person at work who gives me a lift to the station is a boy. I've probably had more conversations with boys this last year than I have in my life, and you know what? They're pretty ok!

That's right, apparently the conclusion I have for this post is that boys are ok. GROUNDBREAKING, I know. I think really what I'm trying to say is this: Boys are a lot easier to deal with than girls. Boys, or at least the boys I know, carry around a lot less drama and bitchiness and unsaid frustration than girls, and this is honestly the most relaxing thing in the world. I noticed this when I was hanging out with some girls from work outside of work, and was just kind of like... There isn't really anything for me here. Why don't I know how to talk to these people? What's going on here?
This isn't really to do with boys, of course, but to do with the kind of girls I was hanging out with. I had this major revelation earlier this year, when my housemate at the time and still my very excellent friend Becci said that there were two kinds of girl*. There's the kind of girl who does thrive on drama, who doesn't have that much to talk about apart from how they look and who they hate and all that kind of awful stuff, and then there's the kind of girl who's more like a fully rounded person, who has interests and ideas and doesn't really thrive on drama because she's too busy being awesome. And I just... That was IT! That was why I have a lot of trouble getting on with certain kinds of girls, or finding anything to say to them that they're likely to give a shit about. We're just basically different species.

So, I think this is why I can talk easier to boys than I can to certain kinds of girls. We meet on a different kind of footing, and we don't have to bitch about people we both know just to make conversation. I also think, though, that I'm really lucky to have found girls who are on my wavelength- we understand each other and can relate to each other completely because, you know, we're that awesome kind of girl previously discussed. And, of course, even though I was trying to talk about boys, I ended up talking about girls anyway. Eh, we're pretty great.

I don't know if any of that was at all interesting, or if it was just something I should have written in my diary and then shut up about. Either way, you've read it now. So TELL ME: Boys and girls. Who do you get on with better? You've probably all got brothers so maybe this is a non-issue and you've already known this shit. TELL ME THINGS.

*I know, this is totally simplistic, and there are as many 'kinds' of girl as there are girls. Grouping people into categories like this reallllly isn't helpful, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Sunday Sundries: Procrastination Will Be The Death Of Me

Hey kids! It's Sunday again, and I actually have things to say to you! Just like I did last week! Killing this weekend blogging thing, even if I'm not doing anything in between... What can I say, it is what it is. Since this week is Reading Week (i.e. a week off) from University, I have a teeny bit of time for updating you on what is, obviously, my extremely exciting and eventful life that isn't killing me really slowly.

SO. I realised on Wednesday that it was still October. I say this because I started my MA on the first of October, and my last seminar before Reading Week was the 30th October. This isn't a complaint so much as a complete disbelief on my part that I've only been doing this a month and I'm already so tired and have read so very much. Honestly, I don't really know how I've done it, except that this last week quite a bit of vodka has gone missing from my bottle and so it's been pretty great.

Anyway. Let's talk about procrastination! (Not vodka. Even though it's the best.) I am the absolute worst for procrastination. When I have to do something, I automatically don't want to do it- you could probably ask me to go to a moomin festival or something, and because I was required to go, I just wouldn't want to. It's the most ridiculous, self-defeating way to live ones life, and I know that, but seriously you guys, I CAN'T HELP IT.
I basically need this, daily.

So anyway. Here's what I'm procrastinating from at the moment: I have to write two seminar papers, which are basically thousand word essays (that I have to READ OUT. IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I'm trying to ignore that part completely) on obviously Shakespearey things, and I basically have less than three weeks to write one, and less than four weeks to write the other (I'm the genius who picked these weeks, too. Bad times.) It's not like I can't write a thousand words in super fast time- I'm pretty sure I've written reviews here that were longer than that, sorry guys- and it's not like I'm incapable of picking topics, reading about them, and then writing about them. 

I'm actually being quite incredibly hard on myself right now, because pretty much the reason I haven't done them is because I've been trying to get all the reading done for each week of learning, whilst simultaneously doing the exact same amount of paid work as I was doing before I started reading a Shakespeare play a week, plus countless articles about him. Really I'm just telling myself off because it's Saturday (as in, my first day off of actually everything for a month) and I haven't started working on these essays yet. CUT ME SOME SLACK, ME!

So, I'm glad we worked out these issues together. Good talk, everyone. More things that are going on: My dad is home from hospital at last! It kind of hasn't sunk in for me because I haven't really had time to see him more than I was before, but it is comforting to know that he's home, and it was really nice on Thursday because my mum came round to drop some stuff off and actually stayed for a coffee, which she really wouldn't have been able to do if he was still in hospital because she's been running around like a headless chicken for basically four months. 

What else... Well, I've been watching The Hollow Crown, which is this BBC series of films of Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two, and Henry V; which is totally the best of both worlds because I feel like I'm doing useful work when really (really) I'm kind of just watching the TV. Yesterday afternoon I watched Richard II, and I did watch the first part of Henry IV on Wednesday but kind of... fell asleep. So I'm probably going to watch that again, is what I'm saying. BUT it has given me a crush on Tom Hiddleston so there's that. I've also become disturbingly obsessed with Samuel Beckett because I read Endgame and it was kind of everything to me, so yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount on his complete works in Waterstones (BUT... £10 off with my loyalty card so YESSSS. The fact that I've spent £100 in Waterstones... Less yes). I can't even process how I like Beckett, but I feel like if you've read The Outsider by Camus and liked it, then you'll kind of be into Beckett? They're connected in my brain at the moment, anyway. 

So. This has been my life, yes. I'm going to try and stop being hard on myself whilst simultaneously actually doing the work that I've been moaning about not doing. I just need to talk myself out of basically reading this blog post as one of the presentations... YOU HAVE SAID FUCK TOO MANY TIMES, LAURA, JUST NO. 

And how are you all?