An Ending

I'm sorry to announce that I will no longer post on this weblog.

With my travels over, and my updates rare, I feel that it has run its course.

If you'd like to read more current writing, I contribute to the feminist/pop culture blog Fishnet Bluestockings. I post on Mondays under the name Arcadian.

Thank you for reading!


This is What Contentment Looks Like

Today is Valentine's Day. I really don't want to be the sort of person who writes about Valentine's Day, on Valentine's Day, for any reason. There are loads of people who do that. There are newspaper articles about romantic restaurants, and romantic movies, and which books are secretly lovers. There are feminist rants about how Valentine's Day is a sick joke. There are all the advertisements about flowers and candy that helped spark the feminist rants in the first place. There are reviews of the movie Valentine's Day, which is universally hailed as horrible. Everything to be say has already been said.

Except that I haven't found any articles about treating Valentine's Day like just a normal day, and I've found only one article about loving yourself on Valentine's Day. And those are the two things that led to this year's epiphany.

Oh, I've been a good feminist for years and I know I'm supposed to love myself and also be angry about how the world wants me to pair up all the time. But I've been single long enough that I'm pretty used to all that stuff as an everyday thing, not a once-a-year thing. And it's true that some days I feel lonely, and some days I feel frustrated, and some days I feel angry. Some days I feel so damn relieved to be single it isn't even funny. But what I didn't articulate to myself until just now is that loving myself and valuing myself as a single entity doesn't mean I have to be angry about that stuff. I know it seems obvious, but sometimes things like that are, and sometimes they aren't. And I just got back from London, finally slept in my own bed, among my own books and music and keepsakes, and just did not have the energy to whip myself into a polemic. So I loved myself peacefully instead.

Certain days of the year (notably my birthday) I designate as love-me days, which means I get to do whatever I want, and am not allowed to guilt-trip myself for a full twenty-four hours. And because I am single (but I think I am going to continue this tradition next year regardless) Valentine's Day is now another day like that. Except a quieter, and in a way more relaxing one, because the one thing I do sort of force myself to do on my birthday is treat myself to something, and today, I didn't even bother to do that.

Today, I started the day by doing warm-up staging exercises. Then I brushed my teeth and went to the library. I got five books that basically have nothing in common with one another. I dipped a bit into the fantasy, and read some of the angry feminist polemic (the latter means I fit the stereotype of a man-hating forever-lonely feminist bitch). Then I read a romance story (which means I fit the stereotype of the overly-romantic wishful lonely girl). I had a bowl of soup and took a nap (the stereotype of a couldn't-care-less feminist free spirit hippie?), and managed to watch six episodes of Criminal Minds on DVD (I have no idea what that makes me). I called two female friends and told them that I love them (chick flick best friend stereotype) but I would have talked to both of them anyway, given the option. I cooked pasta for one (lonely, pathetic and weepy, except I wasn't) and drank some juice because I'm off booze at the moment.

And all day I didn't feel guilty about any of those things. What I mostly felt was slightly bemused by all the single-girl stereotypes I was fulfilling, without actually having any of the feelings associated with those stereotypes. The romance story makes me feel happy and imaginative, and the angry feminist polemic appeals to my intellect and said some really fascinating things. The only sacrifice I can really think of to the holiday (besides the aforementioned guilt-free-ness) is that I got a book I wanted to read from the library instead of from my friend Poppasmart, who would have loaned it to me, because I wanted to give her time with her boy. But I probably would have done that anyway, since they haven't seen each other for a couple weeks and I've been sharing a room with her in London.

I like this way of celebrating. So often if I take an extra guilt-free day, I just feel stagnant, because I use the time to nap. But crap on that - I'm going to have one me-day a month, and sooner or later I will train myself not to nap them all away. Anyway, I did nice things today besides nap, so I have decided it's all right.

And now no more personal life ramblings; I keep meaning to write a post about why I refuse to go see Avatar.


Quick Rec

Sometimes I have time and inclination to ponder deep thoughts in writing. This is not one of those times.

This is just to let you know that this blog:


will creep you the hell out if you were born between 1980 and 1995. I don't remember every single thing they post about, but I remember more than enough to shake my head in bemusement and shame.

Check it out.


There's Got to be a Way

Does anyone know how to read multiple books at the same time? Or to read and knit simultaneously? Or to read (properly, not listen) while washing dishes? Or how to motivate myself to do any of these things more individually?

You know, I just read an article about the "Quarterlife Crisis" about how people my age have so much potential and they've been told they can do whatever they want and then they all feel like failures when they just go to an office job every day and they're paralyzed with indecision about whether to travel or have babies or buy a house or jump off a cliff. And in the larger sense that the article is talking about, my basic response is like, "cry me a river, you whiny bitches," because you do the best you can at a given time and if it sucks you do something else that sucks less, etc., etc. Not to say I don't know what they're talking about, but if you want to do something like travel, do it, don't dither about it, because once you're actually travelling, dithering gets you precisely nowhere.

But in the smaller things I admit I kinda see their point. I have four or five books I'm reading right now, and I can think of at least four or five more that I've been meaning to start (or in some cases finish) since forever ago. It's the feeling I used to get on Christmas morning when I was a kid when I couldn't decide which toy to play with first. (Actually, even when I was a kid, it was quite often which book I would read first.) So right now, I want to be reading all these books, and I also want to watch the movie I got from the library, and a movie I got for Christmas that I haven't seen yet, and I'm working on a new knitting project that's very exciting (if you're really bored or really addicted to yarn) and what I ought to be doing is washing my damn dishes so I can cook some dinner, but on the other hand it's raining outside and nothing makes me happy like hearing rain outside when I'm cuddled up in bed, but will I enjoy it as much with my room the mess that it is, and also I've got some good music playing, so where does that fit in?

I know, I know. Cry me a river.

The article mentioned that back in the day, when career options were more fixed (housewivery or secretary school for girls, professions determined on aptitude, class, and parental background for boys), twentysomethings didn't have this problem, blah blah blah. Then maybe people got midlife crises when they realized they weren't doing what they wanted to be doing. I don't know about the mid-life crisis part of the analogy, but I'll tell you when I never have trouble deciding what to read or watch or listen to: when I've got a paper due.

I read a quotation in high school that struck me as brilliant. I had to do a search for who said it (that part clearly didn't stick with me: it's attributed to Mary Wilson Little), but I reproduce it for you now:

"There is no fun in having nothing to do. The fun is in having lots to do and not doing it."


Words Dribbling out my Ears...

So, you know, some of them might as well end up on my blog.

Today I had an essay due. It was a pretty big one, 5000 words (14 pages, approximately) and a solid part of my grade in one of my modules from last term.

Last night, I started it.

Okay, check it, don't tell my mom this. (My mom herself does not read this blog; she says it's to protect my privacy. Because sharing my rambling thoughts with various family members, friends, and complete strangers is fine, but if my mom reads them, well, that crosses a line.) I wrote that whole thing in about six hours, maybe six and a half. Seriously, I went from scratch to 5,040 words in six hours counting an hour and a half to two hours break time.

Now, I know this is not actually ideal, but I gotta say, I'm pretty impressed with myself. It wasn't a half bad paper, either. I mean, not up for the Pulitzer or anything, but a couple of valid insights, some analysis, some jokes, lots of British spelling. It was certainly hand-in-able. (Facebook reveals that while I may have been the last person to start, I was certainly not the last person to finish this particular essay.) Jet lag may actually have helped; I ate much less than my usual amount of caffeine and sugar.

Anyway, that is what's been on my mind lately; it was the second paper due within only two days, so my life since I got back has passed in a jet-lag-and-paper-induced daze. I am glad to report that the snow left on the ground melted following an onslaught of pelting rain and sleet last night. I like snow okay and all, but coming from California seeing it just made me want to cry. And curl up. And get under the covers and sip hot cocoa.

Hey, hot cocoa! That's a brilliant idea!


I haven't posted in FOREVER

Because I am a failure and a terrible person. But I'm back on the wagon, folks. I have thoughts, and soon you'll get to hear them more regularly.

I don't usually post any pictures on this blog, particularly of anything personal or identifiable. But I'm going to bite the bullet and post this one, because it commemorated a truly amazing experience.


Because, awesome.

More about the workshop, the experience, life in Britain, and, of course, Shakespeare and other literature, coming soon.


Ketchup and Mustard

Not really any mustard. Mostly ketchup, because like a failure I haven't written all summer.

So, in no particular order:

My mum visited! It was lovely. We saw shows, bought clothes and books, and got tattoos. You know, all the usual stuff.

I wrote my portfolio. Not, I'm sorry to say, my best work. Between various vacations and so forth, I left it quite late, and had a lot of trouble approaching the assignment. Still, it's in, it's done, and I am basking in my weeks of nothing-to-do until it's time to move to my fall dorm.

I visited Char, Ella, and their gorgeous new baby, whom I will call Topsy. So cute, my friends! It seems bizarre that people my age are parents, but they are, and Char and Ella are quite good ones. We saw Hadrian's Wall and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

And Sharkytart came to visit! Sharkytart and I went to high school together ages and ages ago, and have been living in different countries (or at least different states) pretty much ever since. But we stay in really good touch now, and she came out for nearly a month. We did London, and Amsterdam (there is a hilarious story there about our inability to get stoned therein), and came back so I could do my Troilus Redux. And then we stayed with Poppasmart for a few days and went to a castle and wandered around all day wearing Robin Hood hats. You see why these people are my friends.

All in all, a wonderfully relaxing and supportive summer. I got to spend a lot of time with friends, something I haven't done enough since I moved to this side of the pond. I went to fun places and saw many good shows (the Globe's Troilus and As You Like It were both marvelous this year). And through it all I of course read a great many books and watched a fair bit of TV. For TV, I must recommend Castle to all those who haven't seen it; it cracks me up on a regular basis. As for books, I've been on quite the mystery kick (thanks, MOM) and made it through the Sebastian St. Cyr books, the Lady Julia Grey books, the first two Roderick Alleyn books, and today I finished the first Dame Frevisse book. Also the Earthsea quartet, and The Time Traveler's Wife, and a couple more Peter Wimseys. And some other stuff that I don't remember. Quick reviews: Sebastian St. Cyr (by C.S. Harris) gets an A for plot and a C for writing, averaging to a B; Lady Julia Gray (Deanna Raybourn), also a B; Roderick Alleyn (Ngaio Marsh) C+; Dame Frevisse (Margaret Frazer) A-; Earthsea (Ursula Le Guin) B+; Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffeneger) the same; Peter Wimsey (Dorothy Sayers) A-. The movie of Time Traveler's Wife gets a C-, though; that was not nearly as good as the book.

And that is what I did this summer. On the whole, delightfully refreshing, even if England couldn't work up a good day of sun since the end of May.


It's Re-lightful, It's Re-licious, It's Re-lovely

I have re-cast some of my Troilus.

Since we are taking it on the road and up to Student Area of Prestigious Theatre, and two of our actors couldn't make it, some shuffling had to take place. I have actually managed to round up three actors for two slots, which is fairly exciting, as less cast overlapping means a less confused audience. Slightly, anyway. That's the hope.

I haven't really done this before, that is, had a bonus performance. Or rather, I have, but not with a changed cast, completely changed locale, and a two month break. In one way, it's rather wonderful, as it's a second chance to fix some of the elements that I felt didn't really gel. I don't consider this project the be my best work, and I'm anxious to work on it until I can be more proud of the result.

On the other hand, I don't think its gelling problems necessarily came from casting, and I'm not sure they are solvable under the circumstances. Especially given that I have three days to introduce my new actors to the play, including the cast that is already set, and then three days to polish it up till it's fit for public consumption, and those two three-day sets are seven weeks apart.

I am not necessarily learning what I expected to learn in grad school, but I'm definitely learning things.


Thoughts After Watching The Wire

I started watching The Wire again this week, after thinking about watching it for the last six months and rejecting it as too intellectual when I'm trying to do school as well. Now I'm not doing school for the moment (except for that one paper) and I nabbed it from the library while the nabbing was good. I watched season 1 about a year ago, and had planned on watching it again before going to season 2, but it was checked out, and season 2 wasn't, so there you go. And now, I have thoughts.

1. Ziggy, you are too stupid to live. I'm sorry! But you are! You are a moron, and you are too much of a moron to realize that messing around with illegal shit is a stupid thing for a moron to do! You are going to get murdered, and it will not be my fault. I have tried to warn you repeatedly, and so has your friend who is probably also going to die but who I will miss because he is not a moron.

2. If I keep living in Britain and watching American TV, I am never, ever going to figure out where the driver's seat in the car goes. Ever.

3. I finally know what a stevedore is. (I had only heard it in... um... the wrong context, before.)

4. YAY! Freamon! And Daniels! Yay! Love them so, so much. Also Omar. Yay, Omar!

5. One of the best lines on TV, ever:
Stringer Bell: I need you to be subtle with this shit. You know what subtle means?
Random Dealer Guy: When you all laid-back and shit.
It was the delivery. The delivery was awesome.

6. I remembered how intellectual the show is, and how it doesn't hand-hold and expects you to keep up. But I forgot that it's also often funny and always interesting, and that if you do pay attention it rewards you a lot. In short, I remembered that it was "good," but forgot why I thought so. Nothing will ever take the place of Doctor Who in my affections, but damn, The Wire is some good shit.

7. Also, I swear a lot more when I'm watching it. Clearly. Sorry, Grammy.


I HAD to share this...

I couldn't help it. This link is my own personal brand of heroin.


Les Anglaises

Once again, I must apologize for real life getting in the way of the much more important realm of blogging. I had a major deadline for a project last week, and as such spent most of my waking minutes trying to make my project not suck. (It didn't, but I still felt I could have done better - making my thesis for my portfolio on said project basically write itself.)

Another of the side effects of said project was to immerse me in British culture in a way that 6 months living here couldn't match. Since 88% of my course is made up of either American or Canadian students, and our professors, though British, make allowances for that, and since my life outside the university is primarily restricted to business transactions, several sides of British life have become clear to me only in the last couple weeks.

Such as... what the hell is up with British schools and youth and whatnot? I'm not complaining about the curricula, of which I know very little; nor do I want the damn kids to get off my lawn. I'm just completely flabbergasted by the pastimes of British youth. For background, please remember that although I was a fairly straight-edged kid, I did go to school in Berkeley, where clouds of pot smoke would hang over the park where we gathered for lunch -- the park that was across the street not only from the high school but also the police station and City Hall. So it's not like I think teenagers are angels.

But when I was young, we did not set people on fire in order to wake them up. Nor was it cool to trick someone into drinking your urine. There may have been one knife fight at my school that I remember, but racial slurs shouted in the halls really weren't tolerated, and the authorities were not shy about expelling students who threatened death and dire bodily harm on other students. Or who wrecked school buildings. In the UK, however, these things were apparently a matter of course. But they're less violent than the states, because they carry knives instead of guns. I guess. I... I don't know. Don't look at me, I just live here.

I read The Anglo Files before I got out here, and it's tremendous, and I recommend it to everyone. But I really am waiting for the author to write a sequel covering violence in schools, pantos, the appeal of getting drunk at ten in the morning, why the British complain about having to pay for their prescriptions, and why they can't share the effing sidewalk.