Forum: Arts / Diaries

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re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Tue Mar 01, 2011 06:25 AM
200th reply to my diary! Not necessarily a milestone, just a pretty number.

I just finished cleaning up my 'my documents' and desktop and found it far too thrilling to make new folders, sort documents into them, and arrange them nicely in their parent folders or on my desktop. Yay for things being organized again!

Two more recent signs of my crazy cat lady tendencies: the Valentine's Day card 'from' my cats (complete with individual 'signatures' and doodled paw prints; thanks, Mom) and my maternal glee upon noticing that my new hyacinth friend has already grown two inches since I bought it on Friday evening. (Just £2 at Marks and Spencer!) Each of the three bulbs is already showing blue tinges on the bottoms of the closed blossoms. So far I've taken good care of it, making sure its soil stays moist, putting it on my windowsill during the day and removing it to another table at night so it doesn't get cold. I really need a cat... Anyway, pictures will come at some point if I remember.

Big news is that my mom is visiting me!! I am really excited to see her (and am trying not to be sad that my dad can't come, because I really do miss him), though she'll be here the last week I have to work on the 40% of my degree work that's due in mid-March. Basically, I'm giving myself 3 weeks to finish everything rather than 4. It's doable, but requires not slacking off at all! And what am I doing now? ...oops.

Anyway, I'll spend the next few hours writing down blurbs that will hopefully be turned into a proper essay much later tonight and tomorrow morning. Then I'll head over to visit my very 'own' manuscripts that I'll be working with for my codicology assessment (one is from 1400, the other 1475)-very exciting! I've seen a photograph of a page from the 1400 one, and it is GORGEOUS. (If you're curious, click on this link . . ., then scroll down to MS. e Mus. 43, and click on 'manuscript image.')
After that, I'll go to a roundtable discussion, possibly in French, where I'll almost definitely have to speak with the supervisor I've been avoiding for literally three months, which is not high on my list of Things I Like To Do. Then I go to my former tutor's college to have dinner at High Table with him and Swiss Housemate, who he also knows. Originally I was going to ask him to make my reservation alcohol-free since it's a work night, but then I thought that considering the company and the stress from the aforementioned seminar/supervisor encounter, maybe wine with dinner would be helpful.

And THEN I go home to write an essay and sleep. Bleargh.

Wednesday: Essay, check-in meeting with college advisor, Latin (might skip), seminar, manuscript if I have time to get to the special collections library, option paper research/edits.

Thursday: Skype tutorial at 10, manuscript, attend housemate's seminar presentation, option paper research/edits.

Friday: manuscript, option paper, Latin translation group, shopping for friend's potluck dinner; attend potluck dinner and friend's birthday drinks.

Saturday: manuscript and/or option paper and/or next week's tutorial essay, dress rehearsal for concert, maybe see Q at night.

Sunday: option paper, tutorial essay, maybe Evensong, Formal Hall, skype with parents, Latin homework.

Rinse and repeat for the following week, except also add one extra class on Tuesday, final dress rehearsal, extra meeting, and concert on Wednesday.

At least the week after next I won't have any classes to attend, nor will I have my tutorial (unless she makes me do prep for the final research essay, which is likely, now that I think about it).

And then I put the finishing touches on my manuscript/codicology assessment and on my first option paper, print out three copies of each, and HAND THEM IN (oh god, the thought literally makes me feel sick)... and then MOMMY TIME!!!

Then she leaves and I work like crazy on my dissertation and final research essay, but we won't think about that yet. :)

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this. 1/2 an hour of DDN in the morning, 1/2 an hour at night! Maybe I'll just stick to the diary board and VCDT for the next few weeks.
re: Tea and Toast
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Mar 01, 2011 07:08 AM
Oops, now I'm going to reply and it's going to be an ugly 201--hope you can forgive me ;) I just did an assigment in my university's special collections so I can understand why you're so excited about working with original manuscripts! (Mine was much less pretty, though, and not as old.) And funnily enough, I just did a descriptive bibliography assignment in my OTHER book history & bibliography class so most of that manuscript info actually made sense to me. :)

You can do it! I'm pulling for you!

re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Thu Mar 03, 2011 04:36 AM
Edited by celestia836 (79174) on 2011-03-03 04:40:45
Edited by celestia836 (79174) on 2011-03-03 05:18:40
201 was actually very pretty because it meant someone had replied to my diary. :D Love that our grad school time is overlapping; it's nice to have people like you and Fayet around to get nerdily excited about nerdily exciting things with me. Just out of curiosity, was that the paper that produced your wonderful floral wreath? (As I wrote in the last entry, my most recent essay produced a lovely organized computer desktop, and the essay before that resulted in a sparkling clean desk! Funny how that happens.)

GUYS. I just had an awesome tutorial! I was going to put this as a 'celebrate' in the VCDT, but then I decided it should go in my diary for DDN posterity. Yesterday, with the exception of an encouraging meeting with my college advisor, I felt sick to my stomach with anxiety over this workload. I had an essay due at 5 that I turned in two hours late after alerting my tutor, who was fine with it, and I was convinced that she'd hate the essay. It had turned into a book review more than anything else, and while that is initially what I set out to do, I felt that it had become a rant with a bibliography rather than an essay. My stomach was in knots (it's amazing how this year has really shown my that my poor stomach takes the brunt of my anxiety, followed by my head/neck) before my tutorial this morning, and I tried to distract myself by doing last-minute reading in the hour or so beforehand.

My tutor LIKED my essay, though! She does agree that it would be greatly enhanced by more historical and textual analysis, but she seemed incredibly happy even without that. Instead of doing a new topic for the next tutorial, she's letting me expand upon this essay (and lengthening the word limit, thank goodness) so that I can add the arguments I had to leave out due to word limitations and also, of course, add the aforementioned analyses that it currently lacks. YAY! And best of all, it's due two weeks from now rather than one, though I'll try to finish it by next weekend, I think.

Another awesome thing is that the reason we're having it two weeks from now is that we're going to have the tutorial in one of the university's libraries in order to look at some 15th-century magical handbook manuscripts, as well as one of the first editions of the Malleus Maleficarum. Reason no. 29385 why I love this place!

There's a graduate teaching assistantship at a good UK university that has come up, and my instructors are encouraging me to apply. It would not only let me teach courses that are suited to my research interests (unlike a lot of assistantships, which often lump us medievalists in with anything from Beowulf to the Crusades to Chaucer, assuming we can teach all aspects of an entire millennium equally well), but it is four years of guaranteed teaching and research, unlike the three that is normal for PhDs here (this is to make allowance for the fact that some of my research time will be taken up with teaching duties, which is remarkably nice of them). It would also pay my tuition, fees, and probably all of my accommodation, perhaps even with some left over if I get the cheapest of the cheap. It is even in a half-modern, half-medieval town. (I prefer fully medieval because I'm a spoiled brat thanks to Oxford, but hey! I'll take what I can get.) So why am I hesitating?
It's not one of the UK's top 5-10 humanities universities (all the ones to which I've been planning to apply are), and so I worry that its name won't be as recognized when I apply to American jobs, or that when competing for fellowships/postdocs/grants I'll be automatically pushed aside in favor of someone from Oxbridge, UCL, or York. I don't want my application to be thrown away because they don't know my university, or because they think that my attendance at this university means that I couldn't have gotten in anywhere else.
Additionally, its strengths are also not in my exact fields; they mostly lie in English local history, which truly is fascinating, but ideally I'd like to have a supervisor who has a decent knowledge of the various sources and scholarly theories that I use. I would probably find at least one external supervisor from another university, even if it's in an unofficial capacity, but it's not quite the same.

And I've just realized that I haven't lived in the same place for four years since before undergrad. No wonder the thought of spending four years in a city I might not particularly like was worrying me so much earlier. Hmmm.

Anyway, it's food for thought. The deadline isn't until the end of April, so I've got some time. Well, for that, at least. Now I must get on to some essay edits!


Just remembered two happy moments that my brain will probably forget in its moments of crazy self-doubt:
1) The other night, when I went to dinner with my former tutor, I mentioned that I'd looked at the course catalog he'd designed for the study-abroad program that I did with him in 2008 and 2009, and that I'd noticed a really cool new course. After I said that I wished I could have taken it, he said that I was the one who inspired him to design it and add it to the curriculum! And THEN when I made some joke about coming back someday to teach it, he said "Well, that was sort of the idea." !!!! Wow. Talk about an awesome compliment.

2) At the meeting with my college advisor yesterday, I described one of my tutors as "lovely, but intimidatingly intelligent, like everyone is here." After I went on to talk about how my research ideas, even what I considered to be the more far-fetched ones, were received very well by one of my supervisors, my advisor said "You know how you said we were all intimidatingly intelligent? You really need to add yourself to that category." (I don't think he was trying to say that I was intimidating, just that I needed to give myself a little more credit.) Awwww. My head is trying to remind me that he's never seen my work, with the possible exception of the amateur essay I submitted with my master's application, but I am not going to let this bubble burst!

He also offered to read the option paper essay that's due in a few weeks to assure me that it won't fail. It's not in his research area at all, which is great, because all I want him to do is tell me if it will pass. He is so nice. Love him.

Okay, lunch, reading, silent cheerleading at my housemate's paper presentation, manuscript, and yet-to-be-defined evening work. I gots this.
re: Tea and Toast
By Emmamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Mar 03, 2011 09:47 AM
You do realise you're going to have to let me know the name of the university, or even just the city. Purely for curiousity's sake, unless I know something about it... (Also, have I spelt curiousity right?? My computer doesn't agree!)
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Thu Mar 03, 2011 06:24 PM
^PM sent with its name (am happy to do that for anyone else, too! I'm just being paranoid.)

And 'curiousity' is actually 'curiosity'... and I think I spell it the first way 9 times out of 10, then only realize I need to correct it when the red squiggle comes up. Definitely a curious word!

Okay, am apparently making bad puns, or not even puns.... whatever, obviously it's bedtime before I say anything else ridiculous! :)
re: Tea and Toast
By Fayetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Mar 04, 2011 01:25 AM
Apply! Apply!

Hark the vagrant.. :D

I haven't had the time to read through all your entries, because I'm a bit short on time right now.. just a minor threat (:D): We need to start planing our meeting! I'm so much looking forward to be in Oxford, you can't imagine it.
re: Tea and Toast
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Mar 04, 2011 06:56 AM
I am curious, too :)

re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Tue Mar 15, 2011 07:39 AM
FOCUS, brain! Only a few more days! You can do it!

I cannot for the life of me get out the last 300-400 words of this stupid essay. ARGH. Just need some historical context, or something, but it's not working. I am so frustrated.

It doesn't help that it's an absolutely gorgeous day today, and I'm reveling in not feeling like the pile of utter shite I felt like yesterday. My window is open, fresh air is coming in, and my limbs don't feel like they're moving through molasses. I just want to go outside and frolic, but I need to get this essay done! And then I need to finish the other two. Bleaaaargh.

I met Fayet on Sunday! She's awesome, of course, and is giving her lecture very soon, so keep her in your thoughts! We'll spend tomorrow evening together, so that is something that can motivate me to be productive (right, brain??).
re: Tea and Toast
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Mar 15, 2011 08:10 AM
*jumps up and down and waves pom-poms* Go, Celestia, go!

re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Wed Mar 16, 2011 03:46 AM
Edited by celestia836 (79174) on 2011-03-16 03:48:52
^Thanks!! It helped. :D

-Library by 10:15
-Work there until 1:30, until I think I'm going to pass out from hunger, or until I start to turn into a human ice cube thanks to the room's freezing temperature, whichever comes first.
-Lunch, essay fiddling
-Last tutorial EVAH (so sad!), 3:00
-Mini field trip, 4:00
-Fayet funtimes, 5:00-9:00
-Essay worktimes, 9:00-11:30?

Then Fayet breakfast early on Thursday, finish essay draft so roomie can edit it around noon/1 p.m., make changes to it and work on other essay until 10 or so.

Mommy arrives Friday morning, which you all already know but I'm saying it anyway, and hopefully she'll want to go to bed at like 9 p.m. so I can work on my essays while she's here without feeling guilty. She's totally fine with walking around the city on her own, but she's only here for a little while and I want to spend as much time with her as I can.

AND I desperately need to do laundry and buy my mom some bed sheets.

Go go go!!! I hereby give myself free reign to ingest as much caffeine as necessary for the next three days.
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:10 PM
4 a.m. Have just surpassed minimum word count on Big Essay No. 1. Still need conclusion. Have hardly mentioned one of my four sources at all, but I can't figure out how to include it without repeating myself. Maybe repeating myself isn't so bad... hmmm. Would like to add another section so that I'm not so close to the minimum, but that would probably mean I'd have to give up another half-day to writing, and I want to spend time with my mom. Feel terribly guilty, especially as I napped for a few hours today when I should have been working. Urgh. Must make a decision. And revise paper with help of friends/teachers/whoever so that it doesn't sound like paragraphs of poo knitted together.

Smaller Assignment nearly complete, or so I keep telling myself. Hopefully 2-3 hours in the library tomorrow will finish it off. It's 'only' 10% of my degree, and everyone else claims that they have no idea what they're doing. Unfortunately they all work much harder than I do and are much smarter, but I'm hoping for the best.

Mommy caught a stomach virus and spent Saturday night expelling all sorts of horrible bodily fluids. Thankfully she's doing much better now, though I'm still washing my hands a lot and bleaching everything she touches. Cannot afford to get sick right now!

Of course, tummy feels a bit queasy as I write, but that's probably due to it being 4 a.m. and me freaking out about my essays + how to best spend time with mom. Argh.

Anyway, off to bed I go! Looking forward to my coffee tomorrow... I don't think tea is going to cut it this time. Apologies for this entry's blah-ness; I'm absolutely knackered right now! Have adopted that particular UK phrase for the moment as it describes me better than anything else coming to mind, except maybe the term 'zombie-like.' Medieval-French-translating, footnote-inserting, quote-finding, hagiography-scouring zombie. Yes, perhaps 'zombie' is most accurate right now, as bwaaaaaaaiiiins would be so helpful in completing my work!

Right, end ridiculousness. Bedtime!
re: Tea and Toast
By Fayetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Mar 21, 2011 02:55 AM
Oh gosh, poor you! And oh no for your Mom being sick! I can tell you it was in the Oxford air - my whole faculty is lying in bed since they returned to Germany, and I spent Friday and Saturday running around and whining how poor I felt. When I showed up in the office today a guy from our group told me that we were "the last ones standing". So, keep up your fluid intake, have tons of fruit and stay warm - don't get sick! I got my fingers crossed that your Mom is getting better soon.

And here comes the repeated offer.. if you need an opinion for your essay, send it over, and I'll have a look at it.

And no, other people aren't smarter than you. Belive me! Gosh, one of these days I'll paint a "GO CELESTIA" flag, and everytime you're worried I'll stand underneath your window and wave it. ;)

Sleep well, go easy on the coffee - you can do this!!
re: Tea and Toast
By Emmamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Apr 04, 2011 05:54 PM
Happy Burtydya! (Ok, that was a mental typo, I'm keeping it.) anyway, Happy Birthday. I guess I'm a little tired.... Also, I know it's not technically your birthday, but like I said on facebook, it still is where you were born! :P

I miss hearing about your days... How is all going? Or are you too busy to be updataging? Good luck for everything, if it's the latter. x
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Mon Apr 11, 2011 03:37 PM
Edited by celestia836 (79174) on 2011-04-11 15:50:55 Deary me, please excuse all the run-ons.
Okay, Celestia, time to get thee back to thine diary!

In the time that has elapsed since my last diary entry, I spent more time with my mom (including a trip to Canterbury), turned in my essays, was an unproductive bum for several workdays, made a slightly burnt batch of cake batter rice krispy treats, had an encouraging meeting with my wonderful dissertation co-supervisor, turned 23, purchased and used my first Groupon, and bought three ball gowns.

Regarding the ball gowns, as my graduation present to myself, I have decided to attend one of the cheaper (i.e. black tie instead of white tie) summer balls, which are one of Oxford's ridiculous-ish old traditions. I wasn't going to go to any since all of the ones that looked appealing cost nearly £200 PER PERSON, but then there was one for £70 at a beautiful old college, and since their entertainment looked good and several people from my medievalist crowd are going, I talked myself (and my housemate, heh heh) into it. I am sure I will regret this once I'm paying back my loans, but hey, I'm going to a summer ball at Oxford! My inner eight-year-old is so excited that she's drowning out the cynical twenty-something me. So here I am, on what is turning out to be a never-ending search for reasonably-priced evening wear, since even though my parents are paying for part of the ticket, I can't go off spending hundreds of pounds on a dress and accessories.

ANYWAY. First I bought a deep blue satin-ish (it wasn't nasty fake satin, it was beautiful, light, and soft) maxi dress. Fayet was with me when I fetched it from my mailbox, and we were both so excited that I opened it right there in the mail-room. It was really beautiful! It had a deep V in the front and back, and silver beaded embellishment along the neckline. I didn't even mind the bow in the back too much, whereas normally I loathe bows and frills and associated ickiness. But when I tried it on, the sleeves were awkwardly poofy, I felt a tad frumpy, the hem was a little too short, the top was too loose (shocker! I am still thrilled that I finally fit into most A-cups now... and how old did I just turn? Yeah....) and the bottom was a little too tight, which is the fate of 80% of dresses I try on. Oh the joys of being undeniably pear-shaped. So even though the dress was only £20 and I was thus willing to put up with a lot of cons, I decided to return it in hopes I'd find something better. (Meant to take a picture for Fayet and you guys, but forgot, sorry! The website doesn't have it up anymore, but their picture didn't do it justice at all.)

The next dress I bought, or attempted to buy, was a black lace maxi dress. This had a bow in back AND in the front--ugh!--but I was willing to look past that because of the gorgeous black lace straps and the square neckline and back. And the price was knocked down from £60 to £30, so that also helped. It finally came back in stock in my size, I placed an order, and then opened my email a few days later to find a message from the store saying that they actually didn't have the dress in stock in my size. Poop. (Dress is the first picture I've attached.)

Dress No. 3 is not as fancy as the other two, it's over twice the price, and it's not normally the sort of dress I'd get. It's pink, for one, and has a floral/rose print. It also has very thin straps, which means I'm going to be doing pushups for the next three months. I don't mind any of those things on this dress, though. The print isn't overpowering at all, and the black piping/accents and chiffon underlay help make the pink less icky-girly-Pepto-Bismol-y. (Don't get me wrong, I like my fair share of girly stuff, just not in the form of frills--usually--, bows, ruffles, or pastels. I do, however, love lace and almost anything shiny. See, I do have that second X chromosome!) And last but not least, I love the fact that I can make this dress formal and casual. For the ball, I plan to have a black lace scarf/wrap, my blingy earrings ( . . ., which I bought for my college's fancy-shmancy Christmas dinner), and wear my hair in a loose but formal updo. Shoes will be figured out once I see the length of the dress, but almost definitely be black and strappy.
The dress: . . .~[209719|208523]&noOfRefinements=1
My biggest concern is that it's going to make me look preggers. Styles like this can do that to the skinniest of people, and as we have already sort of established, I gots me a nice pair of birthin' hips. I'll be moving/dancing a lot, and there are ways to stand in pictures (especially with the lace wrap) that can help minimize preggers-appearance, but obviously I won't know one way or the other until the dress comes. Eeee! I'll report back here, of course.

Ooh ooh ooh! Today my birthday present to myself arrived. It was a ring from one of my favorite little shops here in Oxford, but since they didn't have it in my size and weren't going to get any more for a long time, I ordered it off their website. Pain in the tush, but so worth it! My camera wasn't really cooperating with me when I tried to photograph Birthday Ring just now, but I managed to get one decent picture (see above).

Moving on from clothes and jewelry....

It's been absolutely gorgeous here for the past week or so. Today we had a rainstorm that brought down the temperature by 5-10 degrees, and it'll stay like this for a while, but the warm, sunny weather was beautiful while it lasted! To tell the truth, I'm kind of happy it's taking a little break, because it is even more difficult to get work done than usual when the sun is out, the breeze is blowing, and my instinct is alternately telling me to frolic outside with a popsicle and to take luscious afternoon naps in the sunlight that shines on my bed. Yesterday afternoon was especially amazing--I was sitting on my comfy bed in my comfy little room, with the window open to let in the fresh air, which was nice enough, but my relaxing was accompanied by the live jazz quartet that performs at the restaurant next to my house. The back door of the kitchen opens into my alley, which normally just means that I get to experience all the second-hand smoke and cellphone conversations from employees on their breaks, but yesterday it meant that I could hear the jazz music almost as clearly as if I were sitting at the bar drinking an £8 cocktail. So nice! And it's good jazz music, too, not that crap elevator stuff. Ahhh. I know they have live jazz music every Sunday evening, so I can only hope that they'll open the kitchen door for the rest of the spring and summer!

Today I was very productive, and I am quite proud of myself. I don't even feel exhausted (yet), so hopefully it won't be too painful to keep up the good work for the rest of the week! Lord knows I need to. When I break up my work into two-hour chunks, suddenly it's not so draining.

Don't really feel like putting any deep thoughts in this entry. Or going into detail about work stuff. I'm leaving that in my mental office for now.

Maybe, just maybe, if I get lots done this week, I can do some pleasure-reading sometime! Fayet brought me the most wonderful book, and I flew through the first few pages nearly as soon as I opened it. It's big and fat and delicious and I am itching to read the rest! (It's called "The City of Dreaming Books", if anyone is interested.) By the way, if any of you get a chance to meet Fayet, drop everything and do it. I had a great time with her, and I dearly hope I can visit her in Germany sometime soon!

Oooh, speaking of DDN meetups, I'm meeting Louise (I think/hope!), Euphoria, and Poko at the end of the month. Very exciting! Look at me, being all sociable and stuff. Now if only I could import all you other awesome DDNers over here!

Oh, yes. The last two pictures I've attached above are screen-shots from a couple of tumblrs I read recently. The author of the first was being sarcastic, but I'm not (not 100%, at least)--you'll know why--and the second one describes me about 75% of the time.

Ahhh, it's nice to be back. I have a terrible feeling I've written a monster of an entry, but such is life. Hopefully a few mundane, possibly picture-including posts are to come in the next week or so.
re: Tea and Toast
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Apr 11, 2011 04:01 PM
Psh, manuscript books will never replace SCROLLS! Codex is so hard to read, yo! :P

Good for you for doing something a little indulgent. It's not like you can have the same experience somewhere else--and I promise you that £70 won't make or break your life.

re: Tea and Toast
By Fayetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:54 AM
Woha,you're alive! Awesome.. ;) I've been wondering what's going on over there. You need to tell us more about your birthday, yes? (Oh, please tell that the card did not get lost in the mail, pretty please..? I'd feel bad if it looked like I forgot your birthday, because I didn't!)

Sooo.. dress! No! Can't belive the beautiful gown didn't fit. That's so mean.. it was so pretty, and I really loved the fabric. And the colour! Shame. (There is an Oasis store in Oxford, btw, right next to westgate shopping center.. somehow I forgot to tell you). Second dress would have been lovely, too. Dress three is cute! Don't worry, you'll look awesome. Just enjoy yourself and then it doesn't matter what you're wearing - attitude is everything! (Says me who went in a Target skirt to a black tie event at Duke once.. being surrounded by Gucci dresses wasn't nice at first - but then the night turned out to be really totally awesome.) You're going to have a blast! We need a very detailed account of everything, yes?

I think it's great you're going to the summer ball. It's a once in a lifetime chance, and I'm sure you'd be sad if you missed out on it. You're so responsible in everything you do, and since you'd never throw out money just like that I think you should cut yourself some slack here. Don't be so harsh on yourself!

Same for academics, btw. I'm still in awe about the quality of your essay I had the pleasure to proof-read.. I can't wait for the next one that might come my way! You're good, girl, stop denying it. ;)
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Wed Apr 13, 2011 07:03 AM
Edited by celestia836 (79174) on 2011-04-13 08:36:12 Later addition
Aw, thanks for the support, you guys. My dress is on its way here--I can't wait to try it on! (Oh, and I did think that there was an Oasis store somewhere, and I finally happened upon it on the way home from the grocery this weekend! Woohoo!)

I am having a bit of a panic. It started yesterday when I sat down to start drafting bits of the 5000-7000 word essay due in 2 1/2 weeks, and I realized that my whole topic didn't really reflect what we'd discussed in the course. I sent off an email to my tutor explaining my worries, and she wrote back this morning saying that she understood why I was nervous, but that she thinks I'll be able to continue with the topic anyway with some tweaking/clarifications. Not so bad, right? But this is what has been happening since I read it:
Teacher says: "I see where your anxieties are coming from, but it's going to be difficult to change your topic completely at this stage. You'll have enough to discuss if you make sure to clarify X and take Y sources into consideration."
I hear: "Wow, you really are off the mark, and I don't really know what to tell you other than to pull things out of your bum for 15 pages. It's probably not going to turn out well, but it's better than not submitting the essay at all!"

Uggggh. I KNOW I am blowing what she said out of proportion, and reading my own fears into her words. I have been reminding myself of that ever since I read the email and started feeling panicky. But I am still panicking, there's a knot in my stomach, my thoughts are going a mile a minute, and argh! I just need to calm down. It will probably be solved by diving into my work so that I don't feel so clueless, but that is also seeming very intimidating at the moment. It's less horrible than spending the rest of the day freaking out and then freaking out tomorrow even more since I would have wasted all of today, so I'll crack on soon.

Breeeeathe, Megan. Any words of encouragement would be great. I keep reading that sentence Fayet wrote in her last reply. It's so hard for me to believe people when they compliment me, but so easy when I receive negative criticism! Why?? It's such a self-destructive pattern. At least I'm aware of it, though. I wish that being aware of it was enough to make it go away immediately...

The weather has become cooler now and the sun is hidden by clouds. Perfect atmosphere in which to drink lots of tea, read lots of books, and scribble lots of words. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.


Am at the library right now and feeling a bit better. Have a skype date set up with tutor for tomorrow morning; have emailed the department and found out that the entire process of changing my essay title (which I had to submit two months ago, so it definitely needs tweaking now, but has to be done by Friday/Monday) requires an email to the department secretary rather than paperwork and signatures from my tutor who's on maternity leave; and, in reading 'the' book for medieval magic, have found a few good queries to discuss in my essay.

I haven't eaten anything since breakfast because while my tummy is hungry, the thought of food is remarkably unappealing right now. That's one of the side effects of anxiety I don't particularly mind, I must confess... but I'll make sure to eat a decent dinner. The pub next door to this library makes the most fantastic apple, feta, and mixed greens salad topped with a vinaigrette and warm toasted almonds--now THAT would be palatable, to say the least! Too bad it's £8.

Argh, how do I only have 50 minutes of battery left? Time to quit Safari and dim the monitor.
re: Tea and Toast
By Fayetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:30 PM
Fayet to the rescue!

First of all, go get some food. In Germany we say "an empty stomach can't study well", (ein leerer Bauch studiert nicht gern), and it's simply true. Go get that salad, it sounds soooo good..

Secondly, about the essay. Calm down. I think what your advisor wrote was just fine, and not in any way how you interpreted it (I so do that too every time I get an email from my Ph.D. supervisor.. funny). It simply means that you need to give your essay a little tweak and push, and things will be fine. Granted, changing the direction into which you're writing is difficult - but not overly so. And while editing careful chosen words hurts every time (yelp!), sometimes it's just necessary. Hey, at least you realized that things were going into the wrong direction - that's pretty awesome! I saw things handed in by students where the student had not noticed things were going wrong.. and boy, were they going wrong in some cases. Although these students weren't as good as you, obviously.

And third, here's that sentence again, just for you. Because it's true!

You will rock this thing. I belive in you!

And now I'll go and get my PomPoms out to cheer you on the proper way..
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Thu Apr 14, 2011 01:45 PM
Edited by celestia836 (79174) on 2011-04-14 14:10:35
Heehee, Fayet, you really did make me smile when I read the bit about the pom-poms. You make the best cheerleader!

I am feeling better today! Skyped with my tutor and we talked over my ideas for the paper. It was really good to talk to her about it, and to be able to hear the tone of her voice so that I couldn't 'make' it for her, if that makes any sense at all... you know how in an email or on the internet you might read the wrong tone? We can all guess how I read things like this, of course--i.e. not in the way Sally Sunshine might read them. Anyway, the really really nice bit is that at the end of our conversation, she said that she was really excited to read my essay, because she thought it was going to be a very interesting one! Yay! :D

So after we hung up, I took a shower, got dressed, had lunch, then went over to the library for about four hours. I don't think my back liked sitting in that chair for four hours straight, because now I feel rather like a seventy-year-old woman. Normally I take a break at the two or three hour mark, but for some reason I didn't this time... hmm.

Anyway, library time was nice and productive, and I left when I did because I sensed that my attention was beginning to wane and the two pairs of friends on either side of me kept whispering and giggling, which was super annoying. Ran some errands, fetched my ball gown from the mail room, and came home to try it on! I think the next size down would have fit much better, but hey, I'd rather something be too big than too small (the dress is out of stock now, sad face). I might look into getting the hem shortened since it's way too long and I'm not sure I can stand to wear super high heels for such a long time. Top will need to be sewn/pinned, of course, but I would have been surprised if it didn't. It's really really pretty, though! And a darker rose color than it is on the Topshop website.

I am so exhausted, ugh. I slept for six hours last night, so maybe that's why. I should work for another hour or two before I call it a night, but ugh... I am so tempted to go to bed by 10! I'll just read for a little while and maybe watch some TV online to wind down.

On a completely random note, I saw my favorite lemon-filled muffins at Tesco today and cannot stop thinking about them. They're so good with tea. I might just have to cave and buy some.
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Fri Apr 15, 2011 09:36 AM
Sitting in my favorite window seat at a bookshop cafe with a semi-consumed latte in front of me. It's warm in here, but the window is open letting in the cool outside air (which is about ten degrees cooler than it was last week). It's very nice, and I'm writing this entry to distract myself from one of those momentary panics that grip me when I think I forgot to say/do something in the two essays I've already submitted. They're submitted, it's done, it's most likely fine, and if I did forget to put the word count on my smaller assignment, it probably won't be penalized too heavily. And it's the smaller assignment, anyway--I definitely remembered it on the one worth 20% of my degree. Yep, it's fine.

My housekeepers have been coming around 9 every morning, which is earlier than normal, but I don't mind. I do try to stay out of their way and not shower until they've done their thing, though, because if I'm in the shower when they arrive, they can't get in to refill the toilet tissue or empty the trash (so annoying that we can't just do it ourselves--there's a key to the tissue dispenser and we don't have access to dumpsters, only recycling bins). But they didn't come until 11 today, which was slightly irritating because it meant I was just sort of mucking around until then, but it's my own fault that I wasn't reading during that time.

Cleaned my room, made my bed, showered, etc., then went to my old study abroad institution to drop off some gifts for them. The administrator and senior tutor both wanted to chat, so I ended up staying much longer than I intended. Oops! I don't mind too much, though, as it was good to see them and they're the reason I'm here now, after all. Left around 1, had a falafel and hummus panini at a shop nearby, and headed to the library, where I worked for about 2-2.5 hours. I'll go to another library for another few hours, then head to Q's house for dinner. So excited to have a proper dinner--and one that doesn't involve pasta! :)

I'd never seen the Indiana Jones movies before, so the other night he showed me two of them. Oh my goodness, what a cheese fest! Especially the Temple of Doom... wow. And my archaeology-loving self didn't appreciate the supposed archaeologists' focus on the artifacts--which were of course all valuable by modern standards, being jewel/gold-encrusted and such--rather than on what artifacts can tell us about history. But it's a movie, I know I know, and I had fun watching it. Sometimes wish I could turn off my brain a little more easily, though.

I'm eavesdropping on the men in front of me who are speaking in French. Sometimes I worry that I have lost nearly all my listening and speaking skills, but eavesdropping reminds me that it's actually not so difficult to understand what native speakers say. It might even be slang/field-specific vocabulary that trips me up more than speed at this point! I should watch some French TV shows now and then, or listen to podcasts. And speaking... ehhhhh. I sometimes converse with myself in French (in my head, not aloud!) to practice putting sentences together on the spot, but it's not the same as talking with someone, I know.

Ok, so maybe none of you except a certain medievalist will find this amusing, but I read this in an article by the academically-sainted Peter Brown today:

“Like any weak lord, the relic could be rebuked by its vassals if it failed to give protection. When St. Benedict allowed his shrine to be robbed, the custodian at St. Benoit-sur-Loire beat the shrine with a stick, shouting 'You sleepy head! If you don't care enough to protect your own bracelets, I won't care if people come in and steal the trousers off you next time.'”

I can just see that poor frustrated eleventh-century monk shouting at the saint! It gives me a giggle. I love it when historical figures suddenly appear human.

Latvian Housemate returned this morning (I haven't seen her yet; she texted me), woohoo! It'll be nice having her back. And Swiss Housemate is leaving for a week on Monday! I get a whole week's respite from hearing vivid conversations she makes with herself while peeing/pooing/showering/whatevering in the bathroom. Last week she was even laughing at things she said and replied to... it was so, so weird. I wonder if I should be concerned.

Well, it's half past four, and I have about two hours left in which to work. Time to library it up!
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:38 AM
Oh mah gawd. I think I have just fallen in love with my work all over again. Seriously, I feel incredibly giddy after reading just 20 pages of this awesome book, and I don't think it's from the caffeine in this afternoon's latte (not mostly, anyway). asldjadghag I can't even begin to express how excited I am!

Marie de France, I heart you. Hagiographers, as ridiculous as you were, I heart you, too. I just want to take this book home and cuddle with it! The only copy in the university library system is this one, though, and it's reference-only. Poop. At least this means that I am super-duper excited to get to the library tomorrow morning and spend a good five hours reading it! Whee!
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Mon Apr 18, 2011 02:28 PM
Worked 4ish hours each Saturday and Sunday--a little more would have been better, but that's pretty good for a weekend, and a million times better than how I've spent many of my weekends this year.

Today I spent 6 hours total working in the libraries, which is definitely good. I've just spent a few hours relaxing, making/eating dinner, and exercising, and now I think I'll read for a little while before ending for the evening.

This morning American Housemate (I guess we'll just go by nationality now) knocked on my door about 15 minutes before I was going to leave for the library, and wanted to know if we could set up 'mutual support system' where we meet up every evening. I love American Housemate, and we're doing the same course so it's great to have her around, but I found myself slightly irritated with this request for scheduled attention time (and definitely irritated with the fact that she was interrupting my morning time, which sounds SO witchy of me but god I cannot deal with people in the morning, no matter how much I love them... but then I realized she was upset about something, so it was fine).
She has been leaning on me a lot over the past several months, which is understandable because I am literally closest to her and she's been going through a bit of a rough time, but I think it's starting to wear on me, and I feel terrible about it. While on the one hand, I know she keeps some of her problems to herself because I hear her crying in her room fairly frequently (I give her her space, but check on her later); on the other, she does bring a lot of of her problems to me, either on purpose or accidentally, like when she'll ask if I want to join her for tea, then burst into tears when I say that she's looking sad. I guess she wears her heart on her sleeve, and I am much more guarded about things, so sometimes her displays of emotion are rather bewildering to me. I'm trying to take them in stride, though, and to remember that different people deal with stress in different ways.

Anyway, I agreed to hang out with her tonight--I really do like spending time with her; she's my best friend here besides Q!--but I shied away from agreeing to meet every night. I don't want hanging out with her to be a chore, and I can almost guarantee that I'm not going to want to have chatty time every single evening. Yes, I spend most of the days by myself, doing my work, but that's work time--I like to have me-time when I'm relaxing, too, because hanging out with other people isn't that relaxing for me, even though it's fun most of the time. With an essay, a seminar presentation, and a palaeography test to be completed in two weeks or less, this is a super busy time for me, and blocking out an hour to talk about our fears/problems every single night just doesn't sound fun. She says that she didn't mean for it to be emotional baggage unloading time, but I know that when she's upset, she can't hide it. I've suggested that she see a counselor, but she hasn't made any arrangements so far.

What a bundle of emotions! Frustration, guilt, confusion... sigh. But hopefully things will start to look up for her soon, and I'll be there for her as much as I can.

Oof, I feel a headache coming on. Maybe some tea and an early bedtime are in the cards for tonight rather than another hour or two of reading.
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Fri Apr 22, 2011 07:54 AM
American Housemate seems to be doing better, yay! And so am I. This week I've been more besieged than usual with panics about failing one or more parts of my degree. I try to remind myself that I wouldn't be here if they didn't feel that I would do well in the programme, and that they really don't want me (or anybody else) to fail, but there have been times when reminding myself of that hardly had any effect at all. Today, though, it's going better, probably because I'm gradually cranking out this last essay, and I don't hate what I have so far. I'm actually kind of excited about it, because it's a history essay that knits together several topics/discussions/fields, and as I'm almost finished writing about them separately in the context/theory part of the essay, I'm not feeling completely unconfident about my ability to knit all of them together when I apply the theories to my subject. My fingers are crossed, at least! :)

I wrote a blog entry last night (on my 'real' blog--PM me if you want the link) for the first time in two months, which means that I should have written some stories relating to Oxford, England, and all things medieval/British since I write it for stateside friends and family. What did most of the entry end up discussing? Food. Quelle surprise! But to be fair, I was still very excited about the tostadas I had successfully made on Wednesday, and about having fresh tomatoes for the first time in ages. The ingredients for the tostadas cost a whopping £17, which underscores my habit of not ever buying fresh meat since the stupid chicken was £5, but I have 6 leftover corn tortillas, lots of limes, 3 red onions, half a large lemon, almost a whole head of garlic, a head of lettuce, and lots of tomatoes left over, so it's not all bad. I'm bribing myself to crank out this essay with the prize of getting to try out a new recipe I've invented. If it goes well, I'll let you know what I did!

I've also been bribing myself with reading a story and its associated commentary from The Tales of Beedle the Bard every time I start to lose focus on my essay. It is turning out to be an excellent break, as not only do I get to indulge in reading Dumbledore's hilarious endnotes, but it also is closely connected to what I'm writing about in my own essay (magic and the supernatural in the Lais of Marie de France). I am SUCH a dork, but whatever, it's awesome. The Tales have been sitting on my shelf for a year or so now, so I'm glad I'm finally getting around to reading them.

Argh, my wrist hurts. I've had to break down and get a wrap for it, so I really shouldn't be typing with the computer on my lap like I'm doing right now. Guess I'll end this entry, rest my wrist for a little while, and get back to work!
re: Tea and Toast
By Emmamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Apr 22, 2011 01:34 PM
My dad laughed at me for re-reading all of harry potter (and then re-watching all the films) in preparation for the film this July.

I may just buy those two supplementary books if I can find them. (There's only two, isn't there?)

To re-write the post a different way: You are not a dork, you are, in fact, awesome.
re: Tea and Toast
By celestia836
On Sat Apr 23, 2011 02:03 PM
Edited by celestia836 (79174) on 2011-04-23 14:07:30 Cup of tea must wait until proofreading happens. So there.
^Definitely read Tales of Beedle the Bard! I'm loving it so far. I don't remember what the other book is... Care and Keeping of Magical Creatures, maybe? Or something with magical creatures. Hmm. Anyway, reading all 7 is a great idea! I've reread a few of them pretty recently, but eh, they never get old. :)

I've just started reading The City of Dreaming Books, which Fayet gave me, and it is a MUST for all bibliophiles. It reminds me a lot of Harry Potter in some ways, mostly due to the whimsical language.


So I think it's about high time I started keeping a list of random things I hear in the street where I live.

Just a few minutes ago, a tearful young male voice: "I returned to you... and you ripped off my wings. Why?!?"

Last night, around 9:30 p.m., female: "FINE! Just leave me in the street to die, then! Take a knife and stab me! Why are you walking away from me? Fine, just go!!"

A few weeks ago, around 2 a.m., female: "Miiiichael! Miiiiichael! Michael Michael Michael! *knocks loudly on the door of the house two down from me* Miiiichael, honey! It's your giiiiirlfriend! *knock knock knock* Michael! Honeeeeey!"
[I was trying to go to bed when this was going on, and was ready to throttle the stupid girl.]

Apparently my street is the Street of Teh Luuuurrrrve Dramaz. Sometimes they're amusing. Sometimes I really, really wish I lived on a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood, like where my parents live. The most I have to complain about there (noise-wise, at least) is the neighbors who love to blare country music when working on their yards or cars. Blech.

I just had korma from Marks & Spencer and it was not very nice. Nothing has measured up to the korma Q makes, probably because he uses a whole jar of paste for every 2-3 chicken breasts. Flavor is good!

Ugh, okay, I need to work on my essay. Not 'ugh' as in "I hate it"... I am actually enjoying myself sometimes. It's just a bit tedious, having to figure out how to summarize each story as briefly as possible so I stay within the word count, and weave in all of my evidence points and their associated footnotes while, again, staying within the word count. I'd rather have too much than too little, of course, so it's not all bad. I'd just like to take a night (or a week) off to just chill. Chill here, maybe escape somewhere for a few days, maybe press the 'pause' button on life for a year or two... oh wait, I can't do that.

I am really excited about my ball dress, guys! It's sitting on a chair in my room and I keep looking at it and wishing I could wear it, like, now. I could. But part of me wants to save it for the ball, then wear it wherever I want after that. It's looking like I'm going to need a new sundress or two, so maybe I'll find a more casual maxi dress somewhere.

Okeydokes, time to make a cup of tea and get working.
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