Thursday 31 December 2015

2015: The Year That Was

2015 was, quite possibly, the worst/best year of my life. The terrible things that happened outnumbered the excellent things that happened by a ratio that I'm not even comfortable thinking about, but every terrible thing brought lessons of its own and the opportunity for people to prove themselves to be excellent (which they have this year, in droves) and every excellent thing was a reward in itself. Really, the main and truest thing that can be said about 2015 is that it brought so much life with it that it was overwhelming and wonderful and horrible. Sometimes all at once, usually one of those things at a time.

So. Usually at this point of the year I take part in the end of year bookish survey and talk about my life in books over the year (see: hereherehere and here) but my life this year hasn't been about books (kind of ironically considering the MASSIVE GIANT MA I GOT THIS YEAR OMG DID I MENTION THAT YET?) so much as, you know, my actual life that I've been living to the fullest, almost to the point of overflow. I've tried to write this post a few times and it just gets wordy and tearful as if my brain has constantly had just the tiniest bit too much to drink, so in the spirit of brevity I think I'm just going to make a few lists. Please enjoy this life summary:

Greatest Life Moments of 2015

1. MA Graduation: I mean. I just. Talk about life achievement unlocked. I guess I didn't even really post here when I got my results, but they were good and my uni let me graduate and I just... There were times, especially after my nan died and after my grandad died this year when I wondered what the point of even doing a MA was (or the point of anything), but the fact was that Shakespeare got me through both of those things even as I had to try and find a way to get through Shakespeare whilst mourning. I got this tattoo in December:
which was not only to commemorate the end of my MA, but also because the line reference is to this: "The worst is not/So long as we can say 'This is the worst'" which to me kind of means, even when things are terrible, and seem to be the worst they can be, you're still alive and mentally present to be experiencing them so you just have to make the best (of the worst). Which is probably one of the most important things I've learnt over the course of this last year, and Shakespeare already knew. Of course he did.

2. Foreign Visitors!: I mean. I've met many people from the internet at this point and always always always they are excellent people. But this was the first year I had visitors from afar (i.e. America and Australia and Canada) and it was so amazing actually being physically with the people I had only communicated with in words before because hugs! They are a language all of their own. Basically I want everyone to have holidays to London so we can meet and hug and NOT go to Harry Potter Land because I went twice in a month this year and, frankly, that was more than enough.

3. Post-Dissertation Life: I lost the whole summer this year to my dissertation, but in September I had all the days off work, I relaxed, I read, I didn't make too many plans and it was the best possible way to destress. My life since September, in fact, has been pretty relaxed in comparison to the rest of the year, and even though I have to look for a new job and generally sort my life out, it's really great to know I'm probably not going to have a life where I have no days off ever, ever again. She hopes.

4. Friends: This is a general thing, I guess, but in the midst of having the busiest life ever, I somehow managed to strengthen the friendships in my life, make new ones and generally build up an excellent network of humans that I wouldn't be without. I guess I managed to do this partly because I was so tired for 9 months of this year that I didn't have any filters, which is a great way to do friendship in my opinion, and also texting people is an amazing procrastination method. Regardless, I am going into 2016 with amazing people around me, and that's the kind of thing that makes me believe everything might really be ok.

5. Wine: My first, my last, my everything.

Things I Have Learnt About Life This Year

1. It's Ok To Not Be Ok: In the interests of brevity and of not dwelling on badness, I've avoided the worst life moments of 2015, but being a grandparent orphan and that last week before my dissertation was due in are pretty much that. At none of these points was I even remotely ok, but I also didn't try to pretend to myself that I was- I just tried to make it through with as much grace as possible, and really that's all we can do ever, right?

2. Other People Are Awesome: This shouldn't be a revelation at all, and of course I've known awesome people before this year, but I've always had a little bit of trouble accepting, or rather asking for, help from people. This year I've really had to ask for help at times, and it's always been given without complaint or comment and seriously, I've made some really good friends this year, without whom I think I'd be in much worse shape.

3. Hard Work Pays Off: But really. Really really hard work leads to achievement which leads to a pride in self that I haven't had since AT LEAST the last time I got a degree. Even if you're not entirely sure what you're working towards, the working itself is almost always worth it.

4. Not Everything Will Be As Terrible As You're Expecting It To Be: This Christmas was one of firsts and lasts- it was my first with no grandparents, and my last at my nan and grandad's house (which has been sold but not completed, hence why we could have Christmas there). I can't even think about the fact that we won't even go past that front door in a couple of months when it's the setting of so many of my childhood memories, but I was expecting Christmas there to be so hard when in fact it was just... Christmas. I was still with a lot of my favourite people, the food was still great, and whilst I wouldn't say I was full of cheer, I was basically ok. I guess this point could also be called 'you can get through almost anything' and that's true too.

5. I Am Kind of Great: I know this sounds bad. I do. But I am so fucking proud of myself for getting through everything I have this year that even thinking about how fucking proud I am makes me cry a little bit. I have found reserves of strength within me that I didn't know were there, and I've done and gotten through so much that, yeah. I'm pretty proud of me. 

Things I Have Learnt About Death This Year

Death is weird and defies any kind of list of lessons about its impact. I can't even describe how much I have missed all of my grandparents over the course of this year, and I can't tell you how the missing of them never really gets any less but actually increases as you remember exactly how they used to be, alongside the fact that you can't see them anymore. I'm not sure I will ever not miss them, but I will at least carry around the knowledge that I had the best grandparents forever and ever. Here is the one thing I'd like to think I know about death: if there's anything that helps with the grief, it's knowing that you didn't part on bad terms, that you loved each other as well as you could, and did everything you could for each other. To me, that's the only thing that makes any of this even close to ok, really. 

Things I Have Learnt About Boys This Year

1. ...
2. ...
3. ...
4. Ok, so I don't think I understand boys any better than any other year, but I've had more to do with them this year than any other! Mostly they have been terrible and not worth my time, but occasionally it's been slightly more than worth it. 
5. But seriously, if anyone figures boys out, can they please let me know? K thanks bye.

And that was the year. This post became a lot longer than I intended, and I know, TL:DR, but still, it's there for me when I need it, and, you know, for posterity and shit. Having said all of these things, I couldn't be happier that this bloody year, which has not been great for basically anyone I know, is ending, and I really and truly wish everyone all the best for 2016. *raises glass of prosecco, kisses everyone in sight*

Sunday 15 November 2015

Sunday Sundries: Life, Innit

Hands up who thought having every spare moment not taken up by Shakespeare would give me time to do all the stuff I used to do like, you know, actually blog occasionally, read, and just generally have a well balanced life.

*Raises own hand*

Yeah. Not so much. I've definitely got a lot more free time now, it's true! But the second I have a day off work (and I only have one day off, and one morning off in the week now) there are all these THINGS that I suddenly have to do, like seeing friends and family and actually cooking food (as opposed to heatings things up) and a million other tiny things that have gotten neglected over the past year. I would say that I've hardly turned my computer on, but that's not exactly true- I've been re-watching Mad Men whilst undertaking the ridiculously ambitious task of making everyone's Christmas presents this year (which has now become a financial necessity!) but knitting does not leave ones hands free for writing, or even reading, which I've done hardly any of recently.

This is not supposed to be a complaint though! I couldn't be happier to actually have my life back to DO THINGS with it, and it just so happens that these things have involved leaving the house a lot more than they have staying in and typing things on the internet. Which is not to say that I now think that writing about books/my life has no value, but more that my life at the moment involves a lot more living than examining and I'm very much ok with that.

But, of course, all of this living has to be documented, especially when it has relevance to my online life. This past month has seen my online life jump off the screen and into reality and it's been completely amazing, and tiring, and expensive! So, firstly. The extremely wonderful Tika came to London, ostensibly to see Hamlet with Benglebert Cumbleburn and to, you know, have an epic London holiday, during which we spent two excellent days together and were very touristy. We first went to Hampton Court Palace, which, potential overseas visitors, is a mere bus ride from my house, and learnt many historical facts, didn't get lost in the maze, and gaped at the decoration of the damn palace, after which we went back to Tika's beautiful beautiful airbnb Notting Hill flat that gave me serious lifestyle envy. There was much talking and soul sharing and staying up too late, and THEN we went to Harry Potter Land and everything was Harry Potter-y and excellent and I finally got a Hufflepuff scarf so everything was the best.
 Our faces, especially, were excellent.

Tika left and I was sad, but then on Halloween I met up with Bex and Katie to, as we are prone to do, book shop around London. I bought 4 books which was absolutely too many books considering the number I still have to read, BUT it is impossible to book shop with bloggers and not buy books. It just is. I think it would be fair to say that it was (only very slightly) less exciting to see them than my overseas guests, BUT we're kind of at a meeting up stage now where we can just talk about everything and anything that's happening in our lives and then nerd out about books and ok yeah I'm basically just describing the things that friends do, huh? So, yeah, we're friends. It's excellent. Anyway. An excellent day was had by all, and it was especially good because I had to work the Sunday after AND THEN EVERY DAY AFTER THAT or so it has seemed, because I've also been busy in the sense that I've had to be in charge at work and it has been exhausting and stressful but I have kind of risen to the challenge? And also I need a new job. Seriously.

BUT ANYWAY. After all the in charging, I got to have a blissful 3 days off this week that I didn't know how much I needed until I was in the middle of them, and they were completely non-negotiable (cause, really, they could have used me at work) because I absolutely had to hang out with Kayleigh on the first leg of her travels around Europe. This was a BIG ONE, you guys. Kayleigh is one of the first bloggers I can remember having a proper huge connection with and over probably 4 years of intense internet friendship we've sent countless emails, I've shouted her name on twitter so much that my phone still autocorrects to KAYLEIGH and, I mean, what can I say? She's just the best. SO we met with our faces and it was wonderful and we went to all the places in London (I'm not exaggerating) and learnt about cosmonauts and ALSO went to Harry Potter Land (seriously. This is why I'm so poor now) and just generally had a grand old time.
Also, we fucking killed it at looking awesome. 

I'm always in awe about how not-weird it feels to be hanging out with people from the internet in real life, and with both Kayleigh and Tika it didn't feel like they'd travelled a bazillion miles to be here so we could be sitting and drinking milkshakes (or wine...) and talking, it just felt completely natural and like the way things should always be. I guess at this point we know each other so well that it isn't weird to be hanging out in person, it's weirder that we don't always get to. As a concessionary statement to this, I'd like to propose that everyone I know on the internet comes and sees me, but maybe not quite so close together because oh my god, I am financially crippled. Take it in turns, we'll sort it out.

So. Life. I have been living it. Please now expect a resumption of living through the internet until at least the end of the year, because I can't afford to do anything indulgent (like eat) until at least 2016. Yessssss for December reading, right?!

Monday 19 October 2015

RIP Book I: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Counting Brave New World for the RIP challenge is a bit of a joke because I started reading it in... June/July/August/a summer month where everything got a bit mushy because I was dissertating. As is my current pace of reading, I actually finished it last week, and oh man. It's so good.

So. A mini-tale. After my first meeting with my dissertation supervisor, I left past all the other English department offices and from one of them I heard this little exchange: 'So what do you want to write your dissertation on?' 'dystopian novels'. At this point, I don't think I'd even had time to finish any kind of novel since February (this was May) but this one remark set my soul on fire and made me want to go 'ME TOO!' Shakespeare be damned, and holy shit why did I even do an entire Masters on Shakespeare when my area of speciality is the 20th Century Novel?


Anyway. The point is that I was reminded how much I love a dystopia, and since the title Brave New World comes from The Tempest AND I had already read it, I figured I was allowed to read it as 'Shakespeare research' and not feel too naughty about it. And I think I must have forgotten how good it is because, I mean, it's pretty amazing. Brave New World is set in a world where Henry Ford is considered the supreme being, his production line method being the ultimate example for all facets of life in the dystopia. Babies are no longer born but created in test tubes, each foetus being given various chemicals and vitamins to determine if they will be a Delta, used for menial tasks, all the way up to alphas, who have a greater level of intelligence, but are as subject to the system as the Deltas.

Everything in this society is built to be consumed and thrown away, casual sex is hugely encouraged but parenthood is forbidden (prevented by the mass consumption of birth control), meaning that any close or non-shallow relationships between people is widely discouraged. It's a world where 'everyone belongs to everyone' and where everything is disposable and in many ways it's frighteningly close to today's society, just as all good dystopias should be. The way the past world, our world is seen in Brave New World is, in a sense, in taking things too seriously, that,

"Their world didn't allow them to take things easily, didn't allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy. What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, what with the temptations and the lonely remorses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with all the uncertainties and the poverty-they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly (and strongly, what was more, in solitude, in hopelessly individual isolation), how could they be stable?"
Brave New World attacks these problems in modern life by ensuring that no one is alone, that no one feels anything too strongly, and if they do, there's a handy little pill called soma (which, to be fair, sounds amazing, and which is, quite upsettingly, the brand name of a muscle relaxant) that allows you to take a holiday from day-to-day life, which has already been sanitised so much as to not have any meaning anymore.

Brave New World is more than just world building, and its narrative is centred around one man's struggle to accept and fit into the world he has found himself in, as all good dystopias should be. What is especially interesting about Bernard, the sort-of hero of Brave New World, however, is that his dislike for the system is fairly soon revealed to be more of a general dislike for not fitting in, and when he is accepted more into people's lives, his hatred for his society fades almost completely. Compelling as this narrative is, however, it fades in relation to the terrifying and all too real society the novel takes place in, and as a result of this, Huxley seems completely comfortable letting Bernard's narrative fall to the side in many cases, and focusing in on the details of this society that are especially and completely fucked.

So. Although I am predisposed to like a good dystopia, I do really think that Brave New World is an exceptional one. More so than even 1984, the warnings it carries are completely relevant to today, and sometimes too close for comfort in terms of what are considered good ways to act and live. It's one of my very favourite dystopias, but more than that, I think it might be another one of those books that silently helped to form some of my deepest held ideas, about things like consumerism, drugs and just generally about the importance of maybe not being happy all the time, about letting the things that affect you ACTUALLY affect you rather than just ignoring them. The new world in Huxley's novel is practically the opposite of brave, but the living the way we do, with feelings? That might just be the bravest thing we can do.

Thursday 15 October 2015

The Monkalong, Part Three: "Pusillanimity" and Other Words I Should Probably Know...

Apparently we're still monking (auto-correct just changed that to mocking, to which I say... Well, ok then) along and I wouldn't say I'm losing the will to live because of this book, but it didn't help my desire for living when combined with the raging tonsillitis I'm dealing with this week (woo, autumn! Damn everything.) HOWEVER, it would be churlish to be too mean about this week's section since no one went on about things that were wholly irrelevant to the plot for 10,000 pages so technically things are looking up!

I mean, apart from the fact that a deal has been made with the devil (literally, the devil) so that a Monk can rape a teenager who may or may not be his sister. That's possibly not such a good aspect of this book. And may be one of the worst things I've heard. Like ever. In life.

UGH, what even happened in this section? Ok, so Ambrosio like really likes sex. Like really really really he has found his favourite thing in the whole world, and that favourite thing is sex.
Obviously, he's already getting bored of Matilda because men are inconstant whilst women are clingy, but that doesn't stop more of the sexing, "The luxurious and unbounded excesses of the former night were renewed, and they separated not until the bell rang for matins." because obviously he's going to do it all night now that he understands the difference between men and women's bodies. Obviously.

Especially creepy (and creepiness is kind of the hallmark of their relationship) between Matilda and Ambrosio is the way in which she so easily offers to get him Antonia, as if getting him the woman he desires is the way to keep him. HAVE SOME SELF-RESPECT, MATILDA (but also, like, don't arrange another lady's rape, mmmmkay?) Obviously Matilda is a devil-worshipper (or, more accurately, someone who is IN CHARGE of the devil) because as a strong and intelligent woman, she obviously has the power of hell behind her because why wouldn't she? Of course, Ambrosio doesn't find her intelligence sexually attractive, cause YAWN: "Every moment convinced him of the astonishing powers of her mind; but what she gained in the opinion of the man, she lost with interest in the affection of the lover" and even makes a sweeping generalisation about all women that doesn't make me want to stab things at all: "Pity is a sentiment so natural, so appropriate to the female character, that it is scarcely a merit for a woman to possess it, but to be without it is a previous crime."
I meaaaan... Generalise much, Lewis? Goddamn 18th Century with its 18th Century ideas about women and class and goddamn everything.

Let's see, what else... Well, Leonella! She got married! To which all I can say is, you go girl! I guess. I mean, it's not exactly the MOST romantic union since she kind of bought the guy and all, but since this book has taught us nothing if not that sex is the most important thing, then at least Leonella isn't an old lady virgin anymore. And Agnes probably isn't dead! You know, yet. I can't tell if this book is about to have a fairytale ending where the REALLY bad guys (the monk and the devil-monk-lady) go to hell and Agnes and whatshisname and Antonia and thatguy get to go off and get married, or if, essentially, like a Shakespearean tragedy, everyone's going to die in the end. I honestly don't know, isn't it exciting?! (no).

Of course, the bloody nun ghost could just as easily come back and kill them all through lack of sleep, WHO CAN SAY?! No one. Except us in a couple of weeks, I guess.

Saturday 10 October 2015

The Monkalong, Part Two: "though all are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to judge them."

Heyyyyy, did I miss the party?
Literally what our parties would look like if you added laptops

My deepest apologies for the late readalong post, I had an issue where, immediately after reading last weeks chapters I REALLY wanted to read the next but thought it was too early, and then found I didn't have time to read them to actually make the post happen on Thursday so... The moral of the story is, read when you bloody feel like it, I guess.

NOW. It may just have been me, but this week's chapters made me want to die a little bit. I mean... Don Raymond, Marquis De Las Cisternas. You may have managed to seduce Agnes, but did the woman ever hear you tell a story? Because, damn. "Hi, I'm Ray and I'm going to tell you how I seduced Agnes but FIRST let me tell you FOR A WHOLE CHAPTER how I came to meet her by telling you this whole other story and" oh my god dude, literally no one cares. Like, no one. At all.
I mean, ok I get it. I do. Matthew Lewis is doing his whole sensational thing, and what's more sensational than a murdery robbery plot? (that's what was going on there, right?) Nothing like a massive narrative deviation to make you not give a shit about a book, that's what I say! But anyway. We got back to Agnes and Ray and I'm starting to think that Lewis had this whole life issue where older women were kiiiiind of into him
Maggie Smith MUST be into him, she's only human

Not only does he have Leonella ready to give up her old lady virginity for... that guy (honestly, I'm paying a lot of attention to this!), he also has Agnes's aunt ready to jump Ray's bones because of the super genius plan of his to pay her loads of attention because he wants to marry her niece. Of course, Donna Rodolpha is clearly insane, and it's this emotional women's shit (how much emotional women's shit IS there in this book, exactly?!) that finishes her off: "Five months had already elapsed since, in an excess of passion, she broke a blood vessel and expired in the course of a few hours."

SHE GOT SO UPSET SHE BROKE A BLOOD VESSEL, is that even a real thing?! Like, come on dude! 

Anyway. Agnes is reportedly dead, and I'm all like, 'well, IS she though?' but my scepticism is kind of broken by the fact that surely, SURELY a nun can't ignore a direct order from the pope. There are probably all kinds of things being revealed in the poems but I obviously can't read them because why the hell should I, and oh my god can we please just get back to the Monk and his descent into sin please? Thank you, Matthew. Cheers. 

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Comic Books I Have Devoured in the Last Year, For Posterity

I feel like all I've done this year is read comics, but a close examination of my reading diary (awww yeah nerdy as hell) tells me that, Shakespeare offshoots and volumes of The Sandman (AND Watchmen, which I loved so much I actually managed to properly review!) aside , I've actually only read three. Which is way more than I would have read most other years, so there you go. I had this theory for my birthday that I should ask for a lot of comic books because 1) I never buy them for myself cause they're too expensive, and 2) Even though I had no time to read, I would have time to read comics because they take like an hour (well, some of them do). That didn't really happen because, I mean, dissertations take up a lot of time, you know? But that basically just means that I now have a load of comic books to read, and in no world is that a bad thing.

Here are some feels about the ones I have read:

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
I have a weird relationship with the movie Ghost World because I'm never quite sure if I like it or not, and the same kind of went for the comic. I'm just realising as I write this that my main problem might be that I want Enid to basically be Daria, and... She is not Daria. Anyway. The comic book is quite different from the film in ways I can't entirely remember now, but I do remember thinking the comparison was interesting and I wanted to make some, so... That's very helpful (I'm so sorry, this is a fucking train wreck). ANYWAY. I think the thing I have mostly learnt about Ghost World is that I'm never quite going to relate to its characters, not only because I'm just not quite that mean, but also because I'm not a teenager anymore. If I had been, I'm sure it would have been very inspirational, but as it is... Not so much. Still, I always enjoy Ghost World in its various forms, so it's worth a read.

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green
I genuinely have no recollection of first hearing about Lighter Than My Shadow, but I have always thought the title is excellent and it fulfils so many things I want from a book. This is a graphic novel memoir (FAVOURITE) about eating disorders (PSYCHOLOGY: FAVOURITE) and the drawings are everything that I want and it's just so bloody brilliant. At over 500 pages, I think it's the biggest comic I've ever read, and don't get me wrong, it's difficult to hold; but it's well worth the arm strain. Green is very insightful into her own experiences, and, I can only assume, very honest, and it all makes for a very interesting, and sometimes heartbreaking, read.

Relish by Lucy Knisley
If I liked the other two comics here, then I loooooved Relish. I can't think of a single thing I didn't like about this book, and there is so much in it to love. Relish is another graphic novel memoir, but it's more of a retelling of important moments in Knisley's life centring around food. The drawings are perfect (for the kind of drawings that I want to see, anyway) and there are even recipes at the end of each chapter so you can actually try the food that Knisley is talking about, as if you couldn't practically taste it already from her descriptions. Writing about it is actually making me want to read it again quite badly, and I don't think it'll be long before I'm flicking through it again, and maybe even making some of the recipes, who knows! But seriously, if you like comics, and if you like food, then it's pretty important that you read this book.

Thursday 1 October 2015

The Monkalong, Part One: "Her manner evidently showed that she knew not what she was about"

I have a troubled history with the 18th Century Novel, in that I once had to do a module on them for my BA (I honestly love having to distinguish between my BA and MA now, you're gonna have to tell me if it gets annoying...) and they are the WORST. As in, the actual worst novels I've ever read. They're worse than you can even imagine, unless you've read Pamela too, and then you will understand the huge desire to die that the novel encourages in people.

But anyway. The point is that because of my crippling fear and hatred of the 18th century novel, I was not thaaaat excited to read The Monk, much as I was excited to be Monkingalong, because FIRST READALONG IN A YEAR, AW YEAHHHHHH! I started reading The Monk on the way to Canterbury, and was apparently very much not in the mood for it cause when I re-read those, like, 5 pages last night, I remembered none of the things that had happened, and then I kept reading and SHIT GOT REAL! 
Only I was MORE excited than Jesse

So. I mean. This book is ridiculous, right? Like, any number of mythical beings could show up and I wouldn't be at all surprised, except that I'd actually be hugely surprised because I ALREADY HAVE BEEN LIKE 3 TIMES. I think I already need to get more coherent because I am getting overwhelmed with the ridiculous of everything. HANG ON. 

Ok, I'm good. So. The excellence of the first chapter of The Monk clearly lies with the aunt who apparently has no ability to read social situations, has a firm belief in her ability to charm men, and does that annoying thing of 'why don't you say anything girl?' 'but Aunt, I-' 'DON'T INTERRUPT ME!' Obviously, I'm kind of in love with her. Antonia seems like a dull dull heroine like Laura from The Woman in White, but we're probably not far enough into the book to say that yet... The blonde pretty ones ARE always dull though. The fact that Lewis seems to admire her silence kind of says it all too, "she was wise enough to hold her tongue. As this is the only instance known of a woman's ever having done so, it was judged worthy to be recorded here." I MEAN, REALLY?! RUDE.

The second chapter is really where it's all at though. A pregnant nun! A naughty Monk! CROSS-DRESSING!!! Ambrosio is kind of a douche, am I right? I mean, "he is reported to be so strict an observer of chastity that he knows not what consists the difference between men and women"
However. I am almost inclined to believe it since the sight of ONE MERE BOOB was enough to start all of his sexual motors and to almost turn the end of chapter two into a Mills and Boon style bodice ripper. Imagine if she'd shown him two boobs? He'd probably have died. Anyway. His righteousness over making sure Agnes is punished becomes hypocrisy when he gets to have the sex, only of course he's a man so won't be punished for it, and Matilda is dying so can't get pregnant, so everybody wins! Except feminism. Feminism does not win.

To conclude: Shakespeare. Have we noticed some Shakespeare happening, people? I'm sure the Shakespearean quote that the novel starts with means something but I have no idea what, and Lewis definitely stole the cross-dressing device from him/theatre in general, but I REALLY LIKE how it was used here because I am so used to characters explaining that they are going to dress like a man* that I was genuinely surprised at Matilda's confession. Like honestly, I just thought Rosario (was that her man name? I can't be bothered to find the book...) was going to tell Ambrosio he was gay for him because I got THAT vibe, at least, but then BOOM- Surprise, I'm a man! Amazing shit.

So anyway. Aside from the songs/poems that I definitely skipped, I am INTO this whole Monk thing. ONWARDS.

*Although not always WHY and that intrigued me so much that I wrote a whole essay on it BOOM applicable Shakespeare

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Books I Have Devoured Over The Last Year, For Posterity

As you've probably noticed by the extreme amounts of tumbleweed blowing around this blog (wouldn't it be cool if neglected blogs actually started blowing tumbleweed around..? *drafts email to blogspot*) studying Shakespeare and working 3 days a week did not leave me much time for reading, and basically no time at all for reviewing, books. It was a strange because I was literally reading ALL THE TIME, but basically none of it was for me, and whilst I didn't mind that because- in case you haven't noticed- Shakespeare is kind of my guy, I did quite hugely miss just reading whatever, whenever. 

Of course, now I have the time to do that I'm doing all sorts of other things instead, but THAT'S NOT THE POINT. 

Anyway. I did read some- the first three and a half Harry Potter books being a notable example- and this post is an attempt to just suuuper briefly examine some feels about those books, get everything up to date (because I feel weird not logging like every single book I read here) so I can give proper actual blogging a real go again. Yay hobbies! So. *puts on glasses that are always on, examines reading diary* Let's begin!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I got Yes Please for Christmas last year, started reading it basically as soon as I got it, and it still took me until the end of February to finish it. This is not supposed to indicate the quality of the book, which is great, but to illustrate the severe lack of time I've had to read things EVEN WRITTEN BY MY FAVOURITE PEOPLE. Dammit, William... Anyway. This was good! There are parts of it that are excellent, parts of it that were maybe slightly less exciting, but I enjoyed it, it was a joy to read and if you like Amy Poehler at all then you're probably going to want to read it/have already done so!

Gosh, these are going to be so insightful, huh..?

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
I'm not saying I had to wikipedia the entire plot of this novel, but I did have to do exactly that. This isn't entirely because this novel was maybe a little bit forgettable (although... Sorry, Haruki!) but more because I think I read it over the course of a few train journeys, so I probably didn't even take it in properly as I was reading it. This is a mini-Murakami, more of a novella than a big ole novel, and although there are obviously a few elements of strangeness, it's a remarkably 'straight' Murakami novel. It's kind of about deep attachments to people that never really go away, about compromising on a life that you may have hoped had gone differently, and about wanting things that you can't, or shouldn't, really have. And, it's Murakami so I liked it quite a lot, in spite of the weird sex descriptions and seriously dude, can you cut that out please?

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
I read Blue Nights not long after South of the Border, West of the Sun; and I'm just remembering that this little burst of reading came in between the time when my nan died and the time when my grandad died, when I felt capable of reading again and was coming to the end of the taught part of my MA and realising I perhaps didn't need to do as much reading for that as I'd thought I did... (excellent student right here, wut wut!) But anyway. Blue Nights is almost a companion piece to The Year of Magical Thinking, which Didion wrote after her husband's death, only this was written after the death of her daughter less than two years later. I wasn't unmoved by it, but rather than a memoir of Didion's coping with grief, this is much more of a celebration of her daughter's life rather than a memoir of Didion's grief, which, we can assume, is beyond words anyway. I actually had a few issues with this book, namely Didion's denial of her daughter's massive privilege in the world (like, seriously. White rich people. There's always privilege) but it's difficult to be mad at it when the topic is so sad, and when the writing is so beautiful. I didn't exactly *love* this, but it didn't stop me from wanting to read all the Didion in the world, essentially.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami
After Dark was good! It's another little Murakami book (novellas have been my friends this last year) and is set over the course of the evening. There's a sense of danger running throughout the whole book, maybe because of the nighttime setting or maybe just because of the prostitute who nearly gets beaten to death, but the entire book fills you with a sense of unease, as well as displaying the kind of friendships that fall together for one night only and then fall apart again as soon as the sun comes up. I can't entirely remember what happened at the end of this one, again because I am TERRIBLE, but that doesn't mean it's not worth you reading and telling me what happens at the end...

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
I bought this when it was a Kindle Daily Deal purely because I think the title is so excellent and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is a book of short stories and I don't feel like too much of a douche when I describe them as remarkable. The experience I had reading these stories was one where I felt completely and totally understood by another person, where, even if I didn't directly relate to the experiences of the characters, I still knew exactly how they felt. July writes about loneliness, about feeling out of place and out of step with the world, about things you didn't know you felt until they were written down in front of you and you had to stop for a bit because suddenly someone was writing about you and it creeped you out a bit.

Um. Yeah. I really really incredibly enthusiastically recommend this book, except that I feel a little bit breathless doing so because they sort of are me and I don't want you to not like them. But even if you don't, I guess I still will, so everything is fine.

Here endeth the first round of summarising posts, didn't we all have fun?! Now that I've done this and it was easier than I was expecting, I have grand plans- for a 'comic books I have read' post, a few Shakespeare posts (obvs) and I think a Shakespeare offshoots, and Shakespeare comic books post. THIS IS SO EXCITING, I'M BACK YOU GUYS!

Sunday 27 September 2015

Sunday Sundries: Whoops?

*Waves vigorously at the internet*

Hi internet, it's me! Did you miss me? I'm sure you did.

So, yeah. At this point there's not much use in bothering to explain/apologise for my absence from these here pages, except this time I shall say that I am still in recovery from my Shakespeare OD, I have just had 14 days off in the last 16 and have spent approximately 6 of them basically in bed, and reading and writing have kiiiind of been beyond me. But I know you'd like a list of the things I've been doing instead, so here it comes!

  • I have created an entirely new books database of all the books I own (digital and physical) which has led to the slightly overwhelming conclusion that I own 348 books that I haven't read, but will hopefully avoid the unnecessary expense of buying books I already own. Or at all, because NEARLY THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BOOKS TO READ WHAT EVEN AM I?!
  • The books database was part of a wider attempt to sort my room out after a year of just putting things wherever and hoping for the best. This sorting has been both successful and unsuccessful- my bookshelves look amazing, I've turned my Shakespeare table back into my sewing table, and I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff already. However. My cupboard full of crap is still a cupboard full of crap, and my bedroom floor is kind of filled with stuff that doesn't really have a home yet. This is all to say that I'm not really done yet, much as I wanted to be for the resumption of normal life tomorrow.
  • Outings! I have had some. So I've been to garden centres with my cousin, to London with Frances, shopping with my mum, and Canterbury to see Bex and Christine, my friend from uni who also lives in Kent, making visits there a handy two-for-one kind of deal now! I'm actually pretty proud of myself for having managed to go places without actually bankrupting myself (I have basically no money) and still having fun- who knew one could have fun without money?! (Me. I knew that.)
  • I was about to write that I've been sleeping a lot, but that's actually not quite true, I've just been tired for the large majority of the time. A lot of this is obviously Shakespeare hangover because oh my god my brain does so know what to do with itself half the time now, but, as identified when I actually did go to work for a couple of days, I hadn't actually been moving or keeping hydrated or eating as well as I generally try to. SO these past 5 days I've been walking everywhere (I walked about 5 miles on Wednesday, try not to be too impressed) and I have definitely felt less tired so goddammit I guess I have to admit my boss is right about some stuff. Poop.
  • In spite of this, however, there has just generally been quite a lot of resting. Much time in and around bed, watching anime or reading the internet, and just generally taking a bit of time to not-think for a change. I haven't been actively not-reading, but I also haven't been reading very much (with the exception of comic books which I am just gulping down at the moment) and I really don't feel bad about that because... Yeah. Damn. Remember when I had to read a Shakespeare a week? That was insane.
  • Probably most importantly, today we found my sister's old gameboy and my two games (Pokemon blue and yellow, bitches) and I basically spent the afternoon getting through these caves I'd been stuck in on both games with the help of a youtube tutorial, and FINALLY BEATING THE ELITE FOUR AND FINISHING BLUE. Like seriously. I can't even tell you my pride in myself. It's immense.
So, yeah. I've just generally been doing life, not thinking too much about anything (including the fact that I have a poor little neglected blog out in the world, bless it!) and kind of trying to enjoy myself juuuust a little bit before I think about job hunting and whatnot (GULP) (but like seriously, MASSIVE GULP). The constant reinforcement of people asking me when I'm going to blog again has led to this post, but it's not that it's something I've been putting off because I don't want to do it, I just haven't thought about it that much at all. I'm not sure which is worse, but to be honest, I don't want my writing brain muscles to atrophy anyway, and (AND!) The Monk Readalong starts on Thursday, and frankly if I am not ready to blog in a readalong, then I do not even deserve to still have a blog. 

I'm not entirely sure that sentence made sense, but remain there it shall (this ended up being my dissertation motto...) The point: I have been a terrible blogger for a year. I think I might actually be back now. Or at least I want to try to be. Now I just need to remember how to write about the things I've read...

Monday 7 September 2015

Re-re-re-re-readathon time!

So, I guess today was kind of a big day...
I only went and handed in my dissertation, meaning my MA is OVER. I have basically mastered Shakespeare now, so let's see what I can master next!*

Because I am possibly the coolest person in the world, I celebrated this miraculous day by trying to find Game of Thrones books in charity shops (no luck), doing my food shopping, washing up, cooking, having a nap and then tidying my room for the first time since... It would be uncouth of me to say when. Not exactly wild parties, but I think we all know me by now and yeah. Not going to happen really, is it?

I DID have two ciders while I was cleaning though, so no one can say I don't live life on the edge.** 

ANYWAY. The point is, I guess I'm kind of back! And the real actual point is, Bex's re-readathon started today, and let's face it, it's totally an event for meeeeeeee and that's all that matters hahaha. It runs from today until Sunday 20th, and whilst this week I am working 3 days and going to London to celebrate myself on Wednesday, I am off work next week (which is MY FIRST WEEK OFF IN A YEAR***) and I am maybe doing something one of those days so far? So yes. Reading will be done.

I have even made a little book stack! *wipes away a tear* I hadn't really thought about what I wanted to read, so while I was tidying I looked at my shelves, and I figured, I should basically just read the books that I read before blogging that essentially made me want to START blogging? That is, the books that I read, but no one else had, that I wanted to discuss with people but couldn't really? So yeah. That's pretty much my logic behind my book choices.

And here they are!
Omitted from this pile is Brave New World, which I have been in the middle of for quite a long time now, but still counts, right? I'm also somewhere near the beginning of Song of Susannah, the Stephen King I am in the middle of for my long neglected reading-all-the-Stephen King challenge, so let's pretend that's on the pile too. But basically, yeah. I'll just realllly briefly go through them and my reasons...

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry- I read this very very very close to starting my blog, and even though I can't really remember it now, I remember needing to talk about it. This gets extra points for being a children's book and therefore shouldn't hurt my brain too much.

Fight Club- I mean, it's Fight Club. But I can't talk about it because of the first two rules of Fight Club, so sorry!

Catch 22- Actually not one I read near to blog starting, I remember being too young to read this as I read it, in that I didn't actually get it. I might still not get it now, but it's worth a re-read if you ask me.

Ready Player One- Ok, this is just for fun. IT'S READY PLAYER ONE, COME ON!

About A Boy- This is a book I've definitely toyed with getting rid of, but I can't quite do it because there's that girl who loves Nirvana and Nirvana are everything and and and... So it gets one last read at least.

The Handmaid's Tale- DEFINITELY one that I wanted to discuss but never could, and one of my most favourite books of all time. I only realised that I have a thing for dystopian novels when, having just met with my own dissertation supervisor, I heard a conversation between another student and a lecturer that went: "what do you want to write your dissertation on?" "dystopian novels" and felt an UNBEARABLE LONGING in my heart. Although that could have just been because I missed novels in general, to be fair...

I'm the King of the Castle- I remember being really really disturbed by this but not so much what it's completely about. So that'll be exciting and stuff. 

Notes on a Scandal- I think Alice read this a couple of years ago and I was REALLY EXCITED that someone else had read it so I could talk about it, then I realised I had mostly forgotten it. BUT STILL. I know it's pretty nasty, but also pretty great.

Rebecca- I mean. I've read this A LOT, but I got a pretty Virago (Virago? I'm not even sure now...) copy for my birthday and it is SO. GOOD. It also gets extra points because when I review it I can seek out the Mitchell and Webb sketch because it's the funniest thing in the whole world. PLUS it counts as a RIP book, so all is well.

SO! That's pretty much what I'll be reading for the next couple of weeks, unless I get bored/change my mind/just don't read anything ever again because oh god my poor brain... I may or may not post a pile of RIP books at some point, but they might sneak in too... The possibilities for my reading are just limitless now!

So you'll excuse me if I just spend the rest of the evening watching Sailor Moon... It's nothing personal, books, it's just... Anime...

*I am totally bullshitting. No one can master Shakespeare. Shakespeare is infinite. Shakespeare is life. 
**Everyone can say that. Tell all your friends. Laura lives life right in the middle.
***Off of uni AND work. I totally haven't been to work since last Tuesday hahaha.

Monday 31 August 2015

Just Taking A Tiny Break From Obscurity...

... To talk about some THINGS that are happening in the world of Le Blogging that I'm pretty excited about, or at least I will be in a week.

Oh yeah, by the way, HI it's me, I just have a week before I have to hand my dissertation in and this doesn't scare me at all, it's all fine!

Firstly, Bex is hosting her second re-readathon, starting next Monday. I missed out on the first one because Shakespeare, and I don't want to suggest that she's literally hosting it for me, but... It's literally all for meeeeeeeeeee (Ok, it's not. But it does start on Dissertation hand-in day so I can enjoy it in all its glory!). The point of this is, if you want to re-read some books and generally get involved then go and sign up.

Secondly, since September has crept up disgustingly fast, it is OF COURSE time for, let's face it, my most favourite online reading event, RIP! RIP!!!! RIP!!!!!!! This year is its 10th anniversary, the Estella Society are hosting and, like, who doesn't want to spend two months reading creepy books? (No one. The answer is no one). Last year my RIP enjoyment was cut slightly short because (of course) Shakespeare, and yet I still managed to read 4 scary books in a month because, I mean, did I mention about this being my favourite event?!

Anyway. That is what I will be doing after next week (if my dissertation hasn't finished me off) and I'm pretty excited about it. Now I'm off to make some book piles- I mean finish my dissertation... Obviously...

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Books I'm In The Middle Of Right Now

This post might just as easily be called 'blog posts I'm in the middle of right now' because holy shit, can I not finish an extended piece of writing lately (hey, good luck with that dissertation, me!) I have been reading, just a little bit, things that aren't related to Shakespeare, and since at this moment I don't want to write anything about Shakespeare, let's talk about some of the books that I've started this year and haven't even come anywhere close to finishing (inspired by Alice's sometimes posts), because that's always fun and hasn't led to the hugest pile of books next to my bed ever.

Please note: There is nothing wrong with these books! I like them plenty! I just have no time and mostly I've forgotten I'm even reading a book so just start a new one and oh god I just need my life back...
Anyway, BOOKS!

Look At Me by Jennifer Egan: I have been reading this for an uncomfortably long time. I might have even started it before I started my MA... As always with Jennifer Egan books, it struggles with not being A Visit from the Goon Squad, but I'm halfway through it and it's fine and weird and I'm not entirely sure where she's going with it so I'm going to have to finish it at some point, I guess...
Chances of finishing come September: 5/10 (I've come too far not to)

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel: I thought I could get away with reading this without guilt because a travelling acting troupe performing Shakespeare in the wake of a planet-devastating epidemic! That's relevant, right?! I've read hardly any of this, but it ticks all of my boxes (Shakespeare, dystopia, weird cults formed out of disaster...) and it's all getting a bit creepy so, yes.
Chances of finishing come September: 9/10 (I'll read it unless I'm wiped out by epidemic)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling: So I had an excellent plan this year to re-read Harry Potter as a de-stressing exercise, which was an excellent plan until the loss of the Prisoner of Azkaban made me want to murder my housemate (I'm pretty sure he stole it) which was quite a stressful way to feel! Nonetheless, the acquisition of the kindle copy of that led me onto The Goblet of Fire, which I now haven't read for so long I've pretty much forgotten where I'm at, except I know that they haven't done any challenges yet. God, I miss reading...
Chances of finishing come September: 7/10 (once I can read whatever I want again, the re-reads may be abandoned...)

Song of Susannah by Stephen King: Obviously I'm always in the middle of a Stephen King. Less obviously, I've literally only read one of his books this (school) year! I may have replaced King with Shakespeare for a year, but that doesn't make it less sad that I haven't read any of my guyyyy all year. How will I ever get onto his newest books?!
Chances of finishing come September: 10/10 (I'll never be done King-ing... Until I'm literally done)

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill: From father to son... I have actually only recently started this book (like a week and a half ago...) and I'm doing better with it than I've done with Stephen King all year. But this is a ghost story, and it's so creepy and delicious and every time I read it (which is literally only when I don't have a book with me and have to read on my iPad) I just want to speed through it to the end. Which, considering the amount of time in my week I spend waiting for/on trains, may well happen. The point is, it's very good stuff and I can happily recommend it already.
Chances of finishing come September: 10/10 (or maybe even before! Optimism!)

Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa: I think I've read about 30 pages of this or something. It's all a bit sinister and could easily turn upsetting because that's what Ogawa books tend to do, but I'm pretty excited to finish it at some point. Since I've only read 30 pages, though, that's probably an indication I'm not obsessed with it...
Chances of finishing come September: 4/10 (because, meh)

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee: Ok, I've only been reading this for a day as of right now, and yet it is all I want to do with my life and yet I cannot. The internal conflict happening in me at the moment is unbelievable, and yet, I'm being so good and reading dissertation relevant things and being a good girl. Ish. *hand creeps towards book* *pulls hand away* *sighs, makes more notes about adaptation and appropriation*
Chances of finishing come September: 55/10 (come on, I'm going to snap before the end of the day and read the whole. Damn. Thing.)

If you want to get technical, I'm also in the middle of at least 6 more books (not including whatever I've started on my iPad), but these are the major started-yet-abandoned-s. Because I know myself pretty well, I'm positive that when I'm allowed to read freely and irrepressibly again, I won't want to at all, but at least I know where I need to start... By finishing.

To conclude: Please don't listen to anything I've tried to say about not having time to read, because it's all bullshit- I've had time to get awesomely drunk (fell right on my butt, oh yeah), watch almost all of Game of Thrones, spend basically every weekend in June with friends (and one day with Orange Is The New Black), and a myriad of other things I really shouldn't have been doing, so... POOR BOOKS, HOW I HAVE NEGLECTED YOU. This winter though... Watch this space.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Go Set A Watchman: Go Set My Excitement to 5,000,000 Then

As you may have noticed since you're probably a fairly literate person (you're reading a book blog, hello!), Harper Lee's sequel-that-was-actually-written-before To Kill A Mockingbird is due to be released next week. My feelings about this have swung grandly from OH MY GOD to ohhhh crap old lady exploitation, but since it was first announced, I really haven't thought about it too much. I can't really pick a favourite book because OH GOD THE STRESS, but if absolutely forced to, I'd probably pick To Kill A Mockingbird, so both my expectations, and my readiness to be disappointed are kind of high for this book.

Yesterday, The Guardian published the first chapter of Go Set A Watchman, and GO AND READ IT NOW because we are going to discuss this thing. Intently. You good? Good. SO. (And, this should really go without saying but SPOILERS APPROACHING) my initial reaction to anything in this chapter was OMG WTF JEM IS DEAAAAAAAAD! I honestly and truly, upon reading that sentence, felt like someone had killed one of my really good friends. It's almost unbearable to think that, as Lee was writing To Kill A Mockingbird, and making Jem awesome, that she knew he was going to die young. That he had already, in fact, died young. Atticus is old and frail, Scout is a grown up and kisses boys... It's a lot to take in!

Above all else, I think what this one chapter has made me realise is that everything from To Kill A Mockingbird- the characters, the setting, the general fricking amazingness- has been internalised into my entire being so that the death of a fictional character (a death that happened before his childhood was even written) could actually come as a great shock. I settled into chapter one of Go Set A Watchman so easily because these are my people, and I love them, and regardless of what might happen to them, I just want to know what that might be. They've travelled so far beyond the page in my mind that they've become almost like real people, and as long as they act consistently and comprehensibly, I want to see how that unfolds.

Immediately after reading chapter one, I preordered the book. My ambivalence and unease about reading it has been replaced with the desire to JUST KNOW what happens to these people (characters... Whatever...), and I'm really excited to neglect my dissertation once again to read it. Just this morning, I've kind of swung back the other way since I read this fuller idea of the plot (Atticus, whyyyyy?) but I reserve the right to filter out of my mind any undesirable things that might happen. There is a reason, after all, that this is not the version of these characters we were really meant to see, and whilst I'm excited to read it, I will do so with a protective layer of bubble wrap around my mental concept of these characters and their 'real' story.

To summarise: my excitement is now high, and my potential for heartbreak is through the roof. And yet, this is why we read, amiright? I know I'm right.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

I am dissertation procrastinating, so let's talk about my dissertation!

Heyyyyy guys, it's me! I know, I know, you've given me up for dead and you're all really sad but that's the way life is. BUT WAIT! It's a Wednesday night and I am in front of my computer, and even though we all know I should be doing work, I think we also know how unlikely that is, and so I'm going to write a stream of consciousness that will probably not really go anywhere but which totally counts as a contribution to the world and... Stuff. 

SO. The way my Masters has worked (apart from taking up every moment of my spare time, thank you very much Shakespeare, it's a good job I like you) is that we submitted two essays after Christmas, two after Easter, and then have about three and a half months to write our dissertations. About a month and a week of that time has gone, and I'm not panicking... At all... Really... 
Well. I'm not really panicking, but I am totally aware that I need to do a lot more than I've done. June has been a total write off, essentially- not only have I been operating under griefhaze (TM) but I had already over-scheduled myself to the point of having all my weekends taken up, and quite a few of the weekdays I have off too. Because I'm a dumbass. Anyway, the moral of this story is, July and August I'm going to have to be ON IT, otherwise when am I even going to write a dissertation?! Exactly.

But anyway. This is really just me complaining when ACTUALLY I want to describe my dissertation to you because I'm pretty pleased with what I'm getting away with in regard to it. Basically, I'm writing my dissertation on Shakespeare in cartoons. What this has so far meant is that I've spent a pretty huge amount of time watching anime, South Park, and reading The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman (There are two comics which relate to Shakespeare, but OBVIOUSLY I have to read the whole thing so that I can catch the other references to him too!) Just today, I've started Kill Shakespeare, which is another comic book series starring many Shakespearean characters, and it is EXCELLENT and I'm pretty much enjoying all these fun parts.

To get more specific: I'm looking at three plays (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet) and then cartoons that relate to them (Titus Andronicus has the LEAST cartoons about it, BUT the South Park episode I want to talk about is basically Titus so that clearly has to be one of the plays I talk about!) and then kind of discussing the aspects of the plays that the cartoons bring out that may not be readily apparent just on a simple reading of the plays. I think. Kind of. Because, and I think most of you probably know this because we seem to be a very educated bunch, when you start writing such a giant piece of work, things are subject to change and you can be taken in different directions than initially anticipated. But, I'm pretty excited about my research so far (such as it is) and I'm really excited to read more comics. 
So. This is kind of what I'm going to be up to from now until 7th September! I'm writing this not only as procrastination but because I remembered the other day that I'd written a 26 before 27 list, on which I said I was going to blog twice a week aaaand that hasn't happened. But I want it to! And it's fully achievable! So this is happening and GOD will I need a break from all the cartooning. Mwahahaha I still feel like I'm getting away with something here... 

Wednesday 17 June 2015


The day I wrote my last post was the day my Grandad died. The two and a half weeks since then have been pretty hard, but, as I am wont to do, I have been getting through things with varying degrees of success (read: I can get through work fine, but my dissertation may as well not even exist). In one sense, I haven't even let it hit me yet, because Sundays were always Grandad days, but I have been busy the last couple of Sundays (and will be for the next one) so it's like nothing has changed yet even though everything has.

I know everyone thinks their Grandad was the best Grandad, but mine actually was. My dad's dad died when I was 8, and even though I loved him (he was really funny and lovely) the relationship you can have with someone when you're 8 is not the relationship you can have with someone when you're 26, and so my mum's dad has been most of my Grandad experience. And he was not only the best Grandad, but literally one of the best people ever. All the sympathy cards my mum and auntie have gotten have described him as lovely, and gentle, and never having a bad word to say about anyone, and it's all so true. Until we lost him, I never really thought about why I loved him, but all of those are excellent reasons. He was the kindest, the loveliest, the bestest. And I really really miss him.

After my nan died at the end of 2013, I didn't know how we were going to make it through, but one thing that helped was going to see my Grandad with my mum and hearing all of his stories, helping him get to bed, just appreciating his being there and being alive. When my other nan died at the start of this year, I didn't know how we were going to make it through, but again, having my Grandad there to love and cherish and be excellent really helped. This time, (and, after having lost all three remaining grandparents in 17 months, I really need to talk to whoever is in charge because this shit is clearly unfair) I don't really know how I'm going to make it through, just that I will because I have before and because, well. I have all of them with me and god, I couldn't have asked for better people to have provided a foundation for my personality. My dad wasn't wrong when he said the other week that I couldn't have found better grandparents, and even though that makes it a thousand times harder to lose them, it makes me a thousand times luckier to have had them in the first place.

There are some things I can't even think about right now (my Grandad's house is going to have to be sold and with it my entire childhood, really) and there are some things I don't even want to do (I'm going to view his body later today, and the funeral is tomorrow) but, as always, I am turning to things that are most likely to comfort me. I comfort read Attachments the other week, I'm watching a ton of TV (I've been watching Game of Thrones for about two weeks and I'm already on season 3! It's not very comforting but it sure as hell is distracting) and, as always, I've turned to Harry Potter for some real comfort. Because, you know, this:
" 'You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?' "
Of course we do. I am about 80% the product of my grandparents, and about 5000% of me is filled with love for them right now. I will never be anyone's granddaughter again, but really, I always will be. I freaking love and miss those guys so much, and, at the moment, my Grandad most of all.

Oh, Grandad. I love ya, I miss ya, and please mind how you go.

Saturday 30 May 2015

Saturday Sundries: Just... Nope

I have really good reasons for not being here for the last two weeks, except actually they're really bad reasons, and I figure that, while I actually have a few minutes of breathing space (thank god for weekends. Except actually it's Saturday at the moment and I'm working for part of tomorrow [or today... writing things in advance is confusing- actually fuck it, I'm just making this Saturday Sundries] so... Not really a weekend at all) I'll give you all the life update I know you're desperate to have.*

So anyway. Last Wednesday (which also happened to be my Dad's birthday, happy birthday dad!) my grandad had a pretty major stroke, and since then my life has become an endless cycle of worry and hospital visits and stress and badness. We don't know if he's going to make it, but it's not looking good, and basically it takes up about 125% of my brain space, at all times. I can do everything I have to do (work, a little bit of dissertation work that I had to do) but anything beyond that is kind of beyond me at the moment. Blogging, OBViously, isn't my main priority, which is fine, but I still wanted to check in and kind of announce why I haven't been here, and also what'll be happening if I am not here again (crying, mainly, I think).

ALSO, quite shamelessly, I want your money. I'm doing the Race for Life next weekend, which is some truly appalling timing, but that's how life is. I'm raising money for cancer research (cause that's what the Race for Life is for...), which, as you probably know if you've been here for any prolonged period of time, is a cause that is pretty close to my heart because cancer! Why you keep attacking my family, huh? Anyway, no pressure, but my sponsorship page is here if you've got a couple of quid (or, indeed, dollars!) going spare and want to f cancer in the a, if you will.**

So that is what's going on at the moment. It's pretty grim, but it is life. This entire post has kind of depressed me, so now I'm going for some cheering gifs regarding penises. THIS IS HAPPENING
Kristen Wiig being a penis is one of my favourite parts of Bridesmaids, but it is horribly under-giffed!
And, not about penises, but still always welcome:
Oh Zapp. You're the best.

*loljk I know my life is probably not crazy interesting to you? And yet, I'm writing this so siddown and shuddup.

**Just as an aside, if someone could remind me that I have to run it next week that would be great, because I literally keep forgetting... It's not the best. 

Saturday 16 May 2015

MINITHON: At Which I Have Kind Of Already Failed

Hello! Hello! Wonderful ladies and... ok, let's face it, we have no gentlemen. But lookit- is everyone ready to READ?! I am not. I suck, I am terrible, I never have plans AND YET on the days of minithons, many things always seem to come up. Today it is my very heavily pregnant friend's birthday, and so my presence is required at a BBQ where, if anyone makes any comments about the vegetarian at the BBQ, I am LEAVING haughtily and coming home to read (nice plan, huh?)

Anyway! So yes, that is where I shall be for the next few hours. However! Small children will be at this event, and my belief is that small children go to bed early, and ALSO I have washing out on the line that really needs to be brought in before dark. Ipso facto (is that even a thing? Am I even using it right?) there will be a bit of reading when I get home, although its sobriety is questionable (there will be wine. Even though my friend is all pregnant. I'm a pretty terrible human.)

THINGS I SHALL BE READING IF I EVER GET THE CHANCE TO READ: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, cause I finally stopped waiting for my paper copy to come back to me and just bought the kindle version already (mini because: children's book!) and if I get bored of/finish that (both of which are unlikely) I have Song of Susannah which is a Dark Tower book (mini because: it's the second smallest book in that series of giant books. And it still has over 200 pages. Mannnn.)

I have no mini-snacks because I am the worst, but I am mini-participating which I think is fully in the spirit of the event. If I get the chance I will tweet some words at you guys, but if not, have fun reading, I'll be back somewhere towards the late-middle/early-end.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Walt Whitman's Disturbing Sex Poetry

When I was writing the essays that would never just be DONE already last week, I spent a lot of time Facebook messaging my lovely friend Christine from my course, sharing woes and Harry Potterness and all that good stuff (seriously, she's like meeting a person from the internet in real life, THAT'S HOW GOOD). One of our many discussions started with my complete fatigue with Sylvia Plath (I can't talk anymore about how you shouldn't use biography as a method of criticism in poetry, you guys, I just CAN'T) and how I kind of hate poetry, but then I remembered I liked much of the sexy poetry in this Book Riot post.

And then Christine told me that Walt Whitman wrote sexy (the various meanings of which we will discuss in a minute...) and I was super interested because I read some Whitman as an undergrad (19th Century American Lit ftw) and if I'm going to say I like a poet, he's probably up there, and also because this:
I can't.
So, I dug out my old copy of Leaves of Grass and read some Whitman sex poetry, and Oh. My. God. You guys. It's so incredibly unsexy that I could hardly bear to read it, but I also couldn't look away from it. It was like an incredibly unerotic car crash that was trying to be erotic and I don't really know where I'm going with this sentence.

But anyway. Please observe:

I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable, but I love you,
I do not hurt any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for these states, I press with slow rude muscle
I brace myself effectually, I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated within me

I DARE NOT WITHDRAW TILL I DEPOSIT WHAT HAS SO LONG ACCUMULATED WITHIN ME?! That sentence has to be among the top 10 sentences that you don't want to hear anyone say, ever. Probably the number one response to that would be 'actually, you're withdrawing RIGHT NOW, you freak' because, ew. 

It got better though. This is an entire poem about hymens.

O Hymen! O hymenee! Why do you tantalise me thus?
O why sting me for a swift moment only? 
Why can you not continue? O why do you now cease?
Is it because if you continued beyond the swift moment you would soon certainly kill me?
I texted Frances throughout this entire revelatory episode (because, obviously), and her only response to this poem was 'WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?' I mean, answers in the comments, obviously you guys, but seriously... Has anyone ever been killed by a hymen? Is there something they're not telling us about their murderousness. And sure, I know, it's a metaphor. But WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

And that's not all. In my important Whitman investigations (I read his disgusting sex poems so you don't have to!), I encountered the following words, phrases and lines that made me shudder:

"phallic thumb of love"

"the full-grown lady-flower"

"love-flesh tremulous aching" (love-flesh may be the worst thing I've ever read)

"Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delicious juice" (NO)

"This poem, drooping shy and unseen that I always carry, that all men carry." (A MILLION TRILLION NOES)

There is a point to this, apart from sharing with you some truly horrifying lines of poetry (I think basically the section 'Children of Adam' in Leaves of Grass is all the sex stuff, if you want to cringe some more) and that point is this. There's a difference between sexy, and just sex. Whitman's poems are about sex, but that doesn't make them... Pleasing in any way. It's similar to the difference between watching actual hardcore porn (sex) and having sex generously implied but not necessarily seen (sexy). Now, far be it from me to tell you what you find sexy, and if you find that porn and these poems (God help you) really ring your bell, so to speak, then you go with that and godspeed. But, I think I need a little more sexy implications, and a little less 'quivering jelly of love' and 'love flesh' from my poetry, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

Shakespeare? He can write some good sexy poetry. The sonnets aren't really amazing for it, but there's this bit in Romeo and Juliet where Juliet is waiting for night so Romeo can come and bone her, and just...

Come, gentle night, come, loving black-browed night.
Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night.

I mean, right? I'm not alone in this, right? Shakespeare is totally hot, let's just deal with that fact together. And then, also, this:
 Unspeakably. Amazingly. Erotic.