Thursday, 23 April 2015

It is Shakespeare's Birthday So This Is Relevant

Happy Shakespeare's Birthday everyone!
I'm going to celebrate by writing/editing essays and possibly curling into a ball and rocking and crying, but still, thanks for being born, Shakespeare! (I am actually serious about this, I still love him even though I hate, you know, working and putting effort into things haha).

And I don't know if I'm making a giant leap here, but let's see what I got for MY birthday, shall we? (Betcha thought I was going to write something about a book, or Shakespeare or something, huh? NOPE.) I mean, what I mainly got for my birthday was books, so, you know, it's all good. I essentially bought all my own birthday presents this year (ah, age) which meant I went wild on Amazon and, you know, in every shop ever. I've had a revelation that I don't have time to read full on books at the moment, but comic books? Those I can do. So that's mostly what I got!
And then I took the worst picture in the world. The point is, SO MANY BOOKS, LOOKIT! So I really only got two non-picture books, one of which was a fancy edition of Rebecca that I'm pretty pleased with, the other a Banana Yoshimoto book because there's no way I don't want to read that. There's a couple of recipe books, a couple of Moomin comic strip books and some glorious comic books: V For Vendetta (cause of how I love Alan Moore after Watchmen), Lighter Than My Shadow (which I'm more than halfway through, and it's excellent, and and yeah), The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (cause, Alison Bechdel) and Relish (cause, food. Yes.)

So yeah, it was a pretty great day for books. It was even better than that, though, because in the morning, after my birthday run (I can't even believe I'm the kind of person who does a birthday run now. Let's not talk about it) I opened my cards and presents from the wonderful people of the internet and also real life people and it was so great- I had a little bit of alone time to squeal over books by myself and not have to explain to anyone what they were about. So, presentssssss!
My lovely friend Justine who I love dearly but lives in Bristol sent me Shakespeare for Grown-Ups, which I'm sure will be very useful for life and, you know, Masters reasons, and also some American sweets because this is how we spend our time when we're together (buying American sweets, rather than reading Shakespeare, because come on).
The glorious Ellie sent me Ghost World which I've wanted to read for aaaaages having seen the film and not entirely fully being sure if I like it? Or, rather, if I LOVE it. I've read this already because, you know, I'm me and I was supposed to be writing essays so obviously I was reading this instead, and I'm still not sure that I LOVE it but I think I have more insight into why that's the case now. Review coming soon (she says...)
Lovely lovely Katie sent me The Strange Library and DID YOU SEE THAT IT'S BY MURAKAMI?! Cause it is. Automatically guaranteed to bring me joy. I've forgotten to take photos of my cards, and, let's face it, I'm much too lazy to get up, but Katie sent me a Lego card and it was spectacular (everyone outdid themselves on cards this year, actually. I am way impressed.)
Bex sent me three whole books! Three! She sent a Terry Pratchett because I've never read any of his books (because I'm terrible) and I'm gonna say she sent Equal Rites even though that photo is hella blurry and, once again, I'm too lazy to get up and check. But it seems like it's going to be feminist and awesome and that is all I ask for in life. Carrying on a tradition, she sent me a book about anxieties surrounding food (The Omnivore's Dilemma) and further from that-time-I-asked-if-Watchmen-was-good-and-she-said-yes-and-was-right thing, she got me a comic book too- American Born Chinese, which looks pretty excellent.
Charlotte apparently left my present in a beer garden, but it got to me safely nonetheless and lookit that teeny Shakespeare book- all the plays in one sitting! This seems like it will be useful if I want to refer to a play but don't actually want to read it, plus, you know, I clearly need it. And and and an Emma Donoghue because how do I not need all of her books? I need all of her books.
And then, JUST TODAY, as if it knew it was needed for this blog post, Kayleigh's present arrived! It also arrived just after we discussed it's arrival/lack thereof on twitter, and we therefore suspect the Royal Mail of spying on us. Either way, I'm super glad it's here because OMG how cute is that bunny?! I've been wanting to read Helen Oyeyemi since everyone lost it over Boy, Snow, Bird, so this is the perfect opportunity to do that. AND I took a picture of the card and everything since it was near me, but you can't even see that it's a drawing of Buffy and says 'Buffy Summers: Our Lady of Protection.' So completely awesome.

To sum up- I am an extremely lucky human and a very spoiled one, to wit. This post is pretty much in lieu of writing thank you cards, and THANK YOU to one and all, the internet is spectacular, and GOD I love birthdays. As a reward for you looking at all these pictures and being horrified about how spoilt I am, I have a book to give away! I have literally no money, but I accidentally bought an Atwood that I already had (don't I think of you guys so much..?) and, you know, might as well send it to one of you!
So, if you'd like a shiny (not that shiny...) copy of The Robber Bride, then let me know in the comments and one of you can have it, I guess. You're sort of ok people, so it's all good.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sunday Sundries: I Turned 26 and It Was Fine

Guys! That was a longer than anticipated absence, but whatever, I'm here, I'm supposed to be writing essays, so it's all going very well (life, that is). I am now older than my mum was when she got married, but, you know, she had to marry my dad so it's all swings and roundabouts, really!* So my birthday happened, that was cool, and I got A LOT of books that I'm going to share in a separate post that will definitely get written (*shakes head vehemently*) at some point, and since then I've pretty much either been working or procrastinating from writing/editing essays. I make some interesting life choices when I'm supposed to be writing essays, like watching excessive amounts of anime that I can't even have on in the background because it's in fucking Japanese, and spending a ridiculous amount of time on a mission to get to the post office which had shut 14 minutes earlier... FML was all I had to say on Thursday, to be honest.

Excellent things though: I went to Oxford to see Frances on Wednesday which was obviously excellent even though the Bodleian Library tricked us into believing they had a First Folio on display when in fact they did not, or if they did, we couldn't find it (they probably did. We were probably just terrible finders.) But more importantly, there were burgers and milkshakes so everything was amazing
There are no words.
And did I mention that FRANCES was there? Cause she was and she's the best and we never run out of things to talk about and I love her. Plus she paid for my lunch so, you know, THE BEST!

And now. DRUMROLL PLEASE. I've written a 26 before 27 list! I didn't do one of these last year because I was generally too sad, but also because my brain was pretty much going 'I want to do a Masters. I want to do a Masters.' and I figured, hey, that's probably going to take up quite a lot of time, ya know? This year? I'm still doing that pesky Masters, so most of these aren't going to apply until after September, but at the same time... I'm not so good when things that have taken up a lot of my brain space end, and I think it'll be good to have the option of a LIST! of THINGS! That I can totally do! But I also totally don't have to. It's a completely non-pressurey thing, but here are a few things I'd quite like to do in the next year, perhaps.

26 Before 27

1. Get a bloody Masters - Ok, I'm cheating because this one is pretty much a given. BUT I STILL HAVE TO DO IT.

2. Write 15,000 words over the summer without dying - See above. STILL HAVE TO DO IT.

3. Run 500 km - I wrote this list before developing this weird foot thing basically yesterday... My enthusiasm wanes somewhat when I'm having foot pain. But Imma try.

4. Read War and Peace - Because, why not?

5. Get a tattoo - Might actually happen if I keep putting it on this list...

6. Go to London Zoo - You can come with me if you want! I've never been, and it's ridiculous.

7. Go to Bristol Zoo - Since I'm going to BE in Bristol in June and all...

8. Do proper London book shopping - I made Bex and Katie promise we could do this again when I had to leave them stupidly early to go to a Macbeth seminar. BOOKS.

9. Bake at least 26 things - Maybe blog about it. Who knows! Speaking of which

10. Blog at least twice a week - This is something that should be achievable even now, but somehow I still don't do it, and I've already failed at it since turning 26. But still, I shall try.

11. Go somewhere new - Who knows where? Except I do, it'll be somewhere in England. I have a 16-25 railcard that I need to take advantage of before October, so... Sometime before that, I'd imagine. I'm so good at planning shit.

12. Do a Parkrun - I keep running into (literally!) parkruns when I do my own, much less organised and shittier runs on a Saturday. I should probably actually do a parkrun instead of essentially hiding from them/getting up earlier than them to run...

13. Do two 5ks in 2 weeks! - This one's a bit non-negotiable... I have to do these now. They're for charity! It's all good! I'll be fine! (You can totally sponsor me here, or here, or even both if you're secretly a rich person)

14. Go to the British Library - Because come on, how have I not been here yet? Ridiculous.

15. Go to the Globe - Ditto the above. I mean, I've been PAST the Globe, but I haven't actually been in. Stupid.

16. See the Hogwarts Express - I believe I am taking Tika to see the Hogwarts Express when she comes to my land in October. Either way, I'm going to have to give the Studio Tour like £30 again because I need to see the fucking Hogwarts Express. GAH.

17. Make a pop culture embroidery - You know, something like this. Or this. Something excellent, anyway.

18. Do morning yoga on work days - This is a thing I'm trying to do. Putting on a list will definitely make it habit, right?

19. Stop buying crap I don't need - I've gotten quite bad at buying little things just because I want them lately. This isn't really a problem, but when you've got more books than you can read in years, and more pyjamas than any human needs, PLUS no money, it's kind of a problem. BASICALLY I want to do a bit of a spending detox and

20. Save some damn money - Not a lot. But a little bit. I've got a system worked out, it should be good. You know, maybe.

21. Read 10 books before buying a new one - I'm serious about this one. I don't NEED any new books at all, I'm slightly scared of being a crazy woman who dies because she's been crushed by a bookcase and... yeah. This counts kindle books too! I'm seriously considering unsubscribing from Kindle daily deals emails because that shit is evil.

22. Watch all the Studio Ghibli Films on Tivo - You can basically just consider this one done. Film 4 had a Studio Ghibli season and I recorded all the films. This is important as a life goal because culture and shit, innit?

23. Go vegan for a month - I've said I'd do this before, and never have. We shall see if it happens this year.

24. Give up diet coke for a month - I'd really like to be a person who has an occasional coke rather than someone who has to have it daily before she really feels awake. Plus, that shit's expensive. Plus it's terrible for you. I actually genuinely want to do this except I also kind of don't? CONFLICTED.

25. Write more paper letters/notes - Who wants a paper letter from me?! Let's bring back handwriting, kids. I'm planning on starting this one soon cause I have something to send my friend so yeah! Writing!

26. Make Christmas presents for everyone this year - Ultimate money saving tactic. Yeahhhhh!

Aaaaand for my final trick, I'm going to try not talking about myself for like 5 minutes. Maybe I'll even bring some book reviews back to the blog! Or... At least some anime reviews? Yeah, something like that. Two posts a week from now on, guys. Get excited.

*They both read this which I find REALLY ANNOYING, by the way, but hi guys! Only joking, dad! Kind of!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Observations On My Birthday Eve

Tomorrow is my 26th birthday (birthday eves are totally a thing right? I'm pretty much just going to eat pasta and sleep on mine, but it's a thing!) and I've been observing some changes in my general life that can only be a symptom of my impending old age (I wonder how many of you want to smack me right now...) But here are some things I've been noticing that I haven't even been doing on purpose:
  • I am running. A lot. And I fucking love it. Clearly I'm trying to stave off the horrible physical symptoms of aging by exercising and becoming fitter than I've maybe ever been? Yeah, that.
  • I cleanse and moisturise my face every night and every morning as long as I'm not too tired or haven't forgotten. THIS FACE SHALL NOT SAG.
  • I am considering actually going to the dentist and opticians and all those boring adult things because I notice things like my teeth being more sensitive than normal and my fucking eye twitching when I get tired (old lady issues). This is very unlike me considering my cashflow issues.
  • My room has fully been tidy for about 6 weeks now, and I don't even leave clothes on the floor or anything anymore. For the most part. Suspect some kind of impending maturity.
  • I had a glass of white wine the other night and liked it and didn't even feel the need to drink more. White wine is also bullshit, but that's another issue entirely (I drank all the red. All of it.)
  • I have been watching a shitload of anime. I don't know what this says about maturity, but I do know that it's fricking awesome, and ok, so, grown ups do subtitles? Something like that...
  • I have fully bought a dress that covers almost all of my boobs and comes down longer than mid-thigh. On the downside, the dress I wore yesterday was so short that no one could resist telling me how short it was. Also it was shorter than my coat which is never good. Also it had unicorns on it which is amazing.
  • I am making excellent food choices like eating many fruits and vegetables and only having maybe one cadburys creme egg a day which is actually amazing mere days after easter. I'm also actively cutting down on caffeine and drinking more water and IT'S TRUE THAT IT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER, FINE. 
  • My friend bought me a plant for my birthday present, and I didn't find it weirdly grown up. Which would make me WEIRDLY GROWN UP. Fuck. 
  • This will be the very first birthday I wake up in my own bed in my own house without my parents being in the next room. This is maybe the most grown up thing I can think of, and you know what? I don't hate it.
This is all complete bullshit, of course, because I am basically still a child who will also inevitably eat too much sugar and crash at some point tomorrow, and also I am mentally 12 years old. This is also going to be pretty much the last birthday that I'm a student (she says) and I'm pretty sure being a student at this age is kind of the ultimate in regression. Plus, my mum got married like 8 days after her 26th birthday. I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen to me, and when I say pretty sure, I obviously mean there's no fucking way. 

And now I'm off to hobble up some stairs, sort out my eye twitches and generally do things that people do for the last day they're 25. So... Sleeping and eating is that thing, right? Good.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Devouring Books: The Tempest by William Shakespeare

"Remember first to possess his books; for without them he's but a sot, as I am."

For this term of Shakespeare, alongside reading 10 plays that were mostly tragedies, I spent ten weeks studying The Tempest and associated texts. Whilst I still can't even talk about King Lear (which I also studied for 10 weeks) in any coherent way because TOO MANY THOUGHTS, I think I'm ok to talk about The Tempest because of reasons that will become clear.

Plus, you know, I'm supposed to be writing an actual essay about it right now, so this is obviously the next best thing/excellent procrastination.

You've probably read The Tempest, and if you haven't then you probably at least know a couple of speeches from it- Prospero's 'our little lives are rounded with a sleep' speech, and Caliban's 'Be not afeard, this isle is full of noises'. They're beautiful, just as the whole play is kind of beautiful, but the problem with studying this play for 10 weeks is that it kind of kills the magic. You talk about post-colonial readings, you talk about circular structures, you talk about all kinds of smart things that are really interesting, but at the same time, I think The Tempest fulfils its function of enchantment and loveliness the less you think about it. But thems the breaks of an English student.

Let's talk about some things anyway. In case you don't know, The Tempest centres around Prospero, the ex-Duke of Milan who's also kind of magical, and has been exiled to an island where he can practice his magic and control his daughter*. The play begins with a tempest (aha!), raised by Prospero's airy spirit Ariel at his command, which fortuitously brings to the island the men who exiled him as well as a potential husband for his daughter Miranda. Thus forms two of the story threads of The Tempest, the third involving Caliban, 'a monster of the isle' and two drunk servants which we can basically ignore whilst also not ignoring Caliban because he's pretty important, and REALLY important in basically all criticism of The Tempest.

This is actually way harder to write about in a normal way than I thought it was going to be! Let's just talk about some likes and dislikes, shall we? I really kind of hate Prospero- his need to control everything can get really frustrating, and the way he treats both Ariel and Caliban, who are essentially both his servants, is kind of terrible. Ariel I definitely can't talk about coherently because I am fully exploring his character in my big scary essay and I have many thoughts that actually probably don't make any sense at the moment. Caliban, though, is genuinely interesting and post-colonial discussions of him are dull but completely understandable. Caliban is the de facto ruler of the island, as its native inhabitant, but Prospero's arrival means that this is taken away from him, that his home becomes the property of someone else, and it's all fucked up, basically.

Goddamn white people.

But I think the main thing I want to say about The Tempest is this: reading it by myself, before studying it, I was enchanted. It pretty much did exactly what it attempts to- you're drawn into the magic of the isle, you don't really question any of the magic, you just let it happen and it's a total experience. I would never ever say that studying literature is a bad idea (OBVIOUSLY), and there are so many things I've gained from class discussion and whatnot that I would never have thought about regarding The Tempest, but at the same time... It's kind of killed it for me. It's killed the magic, and I'm actually pretty relieved that I don't have to study it anymore (as soon as this essay is done...) 

What I'm saying is: YOU should definitely read The Tempest. just absolutely don't overthink it because you're going to kill it. Don't be me, guys. Don't be me. 

*I kind of have issues with Prospero. It's a thing. Don't worry about it.