uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
Em, I am blogging about my research atMore Books Please.
uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
Been a busy month, hence why I'm only catching up with this now.

I'm home for the Easter break. Home in in Northern Ireland. Home is also freezing due in part to the unseasonably cold weather this last few days, and to my mother's rather stingy approach to central heating. As you can see - I can still type, but only just.


I have plenty of work to be getting on with at the moment - the loose ends I attempt to tie up that somehow multiply, essays for my MA course etc.

I'm still on a diet too. I'm really not too sure how that is going to work out with lots of sweet stuff in the house at home which I just stop myself from buying in England. I also don't have my Wii Fit to point and laugh at me everyday (does wonders, honestly). I have lost weight - so much so that I fit into clothes I haven't worn in years and my jeans require a belt to prevent awkward social engagements. But, there is chocolate in the cupboard...

A short one, I know. I remember why I stopped blogging - no time!
uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
Don't worry - by 'issues' I don't mean I've gone mad. I mean that is is March 1st, which means it is the launch of a magazine I work for. There are 3 issues a year, which means 3 times a year I get hundreds of thousands of emails about line spacing, images and FTP-problems. Once I wave both the web issue and the e-newsletter goodbye and send them out into the world wide web I celebrate with one of those energy drinks I'm addicted to again...

One thing that struck me this morning is how normal I find madness. One woman recently emailed to tell me she actually has 2 names (a nom de plume for writing related things and an actual name), so can I start calling her by her pseud, or her initials. So, I email to her pseud, address her by her initials - and today, without even thinking about it, texted her to her real name which remains unchanged in my phone.

Tomorrow I'm heading to London for an interview - not an actual job or anything, just a voluntary governance post in an organization. In preparation I got out my 'adult' clothes, my practically dusty iron and ironing board, and went to bed early last night so my body clock is running on normal people time. All of this has made me even more sure that I would not be suited to a 'real' job. I'll just stay in the grad school bubble, thanks very much.


I'm a site editor for a poetry website, so I've read my fair share of terrible submissions. However, last week in my poetry class we reached new lows with a poem about Old MacDonald (the one who had a farm, e i e i o) having inappropriate relations with the goats. I don't know quite what to make of it all. More wine please.
uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
This is the second installment in the saga I began here.You may remember that Arthur, trusty steed for 3 years was cruelly stolen from his er... stables (some railings). Well, I had just about recovered from my grief and replaced him with the very charming Doolittle. Until, today, Arthur re-entered the picture.

I'm running a little late for a seminar; this doesn't actually happen that often because I have impeccable time keeping. On my way in, a little rushed shall we say, I see a man wheeling a blue bike. Everyone is a potential bike thief now - especially if riding a blue mountain bike. BUT WAIT - this blue bike looked rather like my blue bike.


Yes, this one.

Now, I may be a little mad at times, but this bike I saw was definitely Arthur. Notice the crank (pedal) arm nearest the camera is silver, but the one against the wall is black? I needed a replacement one and the shop only had silver. Also, the seat is a rather nice one not quite in keeping with the rest of the bike - that is because the standard seat fell off and the shop had a nice one on sale for the same price as a new standard. The front fork too is an ever so slightly different colour, and has a different brand sticker on it because I totally messed up the original forks in a collision with - I'm shamed to say - a flowerbed. A brick flowerbed.

Arthur's new 'owner' has added a second rear light and a front right, and removed the rear mudguard. Arthur's new owner is also about 6ft and had a black anorak with a hood up, so I declined not to approach him and instead headed to my seminar in a fury. I'm now stuck with the 'what if' problem - what if I approached the man and asked him where he bought it from? What if I beat him senseless with my postcolonial literary criticism? What if I get Arthur back after all??

After my seminar I checked the stands around where the guy was heading in case he had parked it up there (in which case I would have stomped right on down to university security and demanded they did something violent to loose Arthur from his shackles). No cigar. So, I've left a message with the campus police to tell them - there should at least have been CCTV on the way the man was walking, and I know what time it is at.

Could Arthur really come home? This is turning into more of a quest than I first predicted when I named my bike after a legendary king.

uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
So, one of the things I didn't post about here in the last week or two has been my bicycle situation. This is strange, since I've literally told everyone I've met.

Basically, I was the victim of a crime. A horrible, low, dirty crime. I live up more stairs than it is polite to invite visitors up, so I chained my mountain bike up to some pretty solid railings not far from my house, on my way to university. Perhaps it was inevitable, but one day I went to pick up my trusty steed and it was no longer there. The police don't seem terribly troubled, and I know she wasn't exactly worth much, but I still felt violated and pedestrianized.

RIP Arthur, wherever you are.

In my attempt to find a replacement bike, I checked out all the usual spots for second hand wheels - Gumtree, Freecycle, eBay. I feel in love with a vintage Dawes Kingpin, but the bidding went beyond what i was prepared to pay. I then decided that if I couldn't find a second hand bike I'd have to fork out for a new one - but one that could live in the flat - a folding bike. There are some at around £80, but I've been warned they are mighty heavy. I found one sold 'as new' on eBay, not too far from me - RRP £225, sold for £89. The scrooge in my was totally chuffed.

Apparently the man bought it for his wife who used it once to ride around the park and then put it in the garage. Doolittle, as I call her (after the American poet, not the Dr.), has some stickers on her mudguards which read 'I heart my bike'. The irony of this is not lost on me. I love her though.

The old King is dead. Long live Doolittle.


Once I had returned her to my flat I went into super-bike-girl mode and pumped up the tyres, put on new lights, oiled the hinges and tightened some wobbly bits (eg. that front reflector!) - and for this purpose I cracked on some Queen. The next day we went for our first ride to university, and other than some nervousness about leaving her unattended at the bike stands, I was pleased.

Last night she took her first train ride as I went to visit [personal profile] forthwritten for dinner. This is the first time I've ever brought a bike on a train, and being able to hop off and pedal away is quite liberating. I'm not sure about peak times and packed carriages though, and it does mean you have to sit in the pongy toilet bit.

I suspect Doolittle was excited about riding the train. Or maybe that was just me.

I didn't really expect to love a folder since I've always been a mountain bike girl, but I think Doolittle will change the way I cycle - for the better. That isn't to say that my legs aren't pretty badly bruised from shifting her up stairs. My mother assures me that getting a new pram is like this too - it feels cumbersome and heavy for the first week or two.
uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
I've had a rather hectic week; on top of my MA study I gave a poetry reading and was at a weekend residential on creativity with my old funders. The weekend was strange because we haven't had an event like it since 2005, but it was really fantastic to see the people I met then again and hear what they have been doing, and meet some new faces too. I feel kind of proud that I do have something so show for the time since the first residential. Highlights included a walk along a misty Rutland Water with some cameras, and building a machine to pop a balloon with components including a scalpel, sharp sticks, an A frame and a billiard ball. I don't get to see the countryside much, so it was quite refreshing. There was no mobile signal though - which was a shock to the system.

(A photo I took on the walk. The mist marred most shots, but I think adds to this)

Tonight I had an old friend round for dinner and was distressed to find we haven't actually seen each other face to face since December. I cooked a proper 3 course meal (even if the pudding was Carte Dior...), so I feel rotund and have plenty of leftovers to hoover up. A new supermarket has opened near me (from a horrible corporate chain beginning with T), and I must say, the convenience is seductive. Particular grocery high points include skimmed milk - corner shops NEVER have this - and fresh salad.

I've also had a rather odd evening of emailing. I suggested a book to a magazine I'm doing 2 reviews for, 1 editor said he didn't much like it but then another said he loved it and wanted me to write a longer review for another publication. This was followed by an email from editor 1 saying that actually he had changed his mind and did want it... Confused? I was. I've decided to do the longer review for the second publication, and approach the first place with other ideas. I know this is more work, which is the last thing I need, but I just can't say no.

uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
I guess this is a bit of round up since I've been quieter in the last few days than I intended.

I met my essay deadline on Monday, which it would seem was a wise move since I spent Tuesday and Wednesday very ill with a kind of vertigo sickness. I've heard a few people complain of a similar thing, so it may be some kind of bug. That I succumbed immediately after essay season is fairly typical of me; I'm so pent up that the moment I relax I collapse.

So, other than wobbling around insanely, I propped myself by my laptop and played with some new software (spurred on my recent Evernote glee). I've been meaning to set up a proper email client since I got my MacBook Pro in September, and I settled on Thunderbird this week. So far, so good. I especially like the reminder that appears when I type the word 'attached' - because there must have been 100s of times I've forgotten that little nugget. My second new toy is Typinator that allows you shortcuts for commonly used statement - like my website url and my informal email signature. Both terribly useful.

In the spirit of my course (which is currently looking at AIDS narratives in literature) I'm currently reading Hollinghurst's The Swimming Pool Library. I absolutely loved The Line of Beauty, and Swimming Pool doesn't seem quite as good - but as a first novel (published the year I was born) it is rather excellent. Today I've also been reading Thom Gunn's The Man With the Night Sweats, which is different in its sparse complexity compared to Hollinghurst's luxurious detail.

i have an insanely busy week ahead. So busy that looking at my calender makes me wince and want to crawl back under my duvet. I had a lie in this morning though. I just hope I have enough food in the flat to save me going shopping. I've pledged not to buy anything more for the freezer until I've used up most of what is in there because since Christmas I've barely looked near the ice box. I mean, it isn't big anyway - but why buy when you have stuff already?

In other news - I am super looking forward to watching Mo on C4 tonight at 9. I actually met Mowlam as a child, and she is certainly one of the most important figures in late 20th century N.I. politics.

That is your lot.

uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
I'm a little bit embarrassed to be writing this at 11.30am when I have an essay deadline coming up. Yes, I'm just out of bed. I couldn't sleep last night and there are a few possible factors a.) My flat is super warm b.) There were birds tweeting (although not on twitter) at 2.30am c.) I'd had more than a weeks allowance of caffeine in energy drinks and tea yesterday. d.) Stress - I'd don't do nerves in any way, shape or form, but I get really stressed and sometimes don't even realize it.

In essay season I become a veritable hermit. I'm more than a little cranky, the flat is an absolute tip (think 'oh, there is carpet under there?) and hyped up totally on a combination of tea and cheap energy drinks.

One thing that has cheered me up immensely is Evernote. I mentioned this before, but my goodness does this application meet my needs. The GUI is nicely designed, and so far I've had no glitches in running it at all. When I see something interesting that I like I either take a snapshot of it, drag the text or save the whole page. Once in there I save it in various notebooks - some work related, some study related, some interest related and one for 'funny things my friends have said'. I tag them and search them, etc.

However, the best feature I've found yet is the ability to search for text within images. As part of my course we often get scans of chapters from books or journal articles as pdf files. I annotate these in Preview with boxes because I can't highlight the text in them. I experimented last night and dragged an article in, waited for it to sync it to the server (where it must scan the images for text), waited another minute for it to sync back from their server, and voila - a searchable .pdf where I can copy and paste the text therein! (For an example, see here)

Back to the books now.
uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
This week has been super busy for me because I'm putting in an application for graduate programme, and I have 2 essays due for next week. The application has just been submitted, and I feel fairly on track with the essays, thankfully.

I saw my friend who headbutted a jukebox in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I am pleased to note that with a little makeup and sweeping hair styling she doesn't look like she has been in any fights with heavy stationary bar furniture. I went for coffee followed by a pint with a friend who lives in London but studies at my university, and we talked poetics and criticism for a while. While I have the shadow of my uncompleted essays hanging over me, I definitely needed that time out.

Tonight I'm going to watch a film that is on my course next week, the screening of which I'll miss due to some work commitments elsewhere (I'm running poetry workshops for approximately 60 primary school children). It is 'Longtime Companion', which deals with 'Gay-Related-Immune-Disorder'(yes, that disorder that came to be known as AIDs).

I've started using Evernote for all my note-taking needs, and I love it. Even if it sort of makes Dropbox a bit defunct.

I would like to let [personal profile] forthwritten know I am sulking, and wave to my no. 1 blog stalker, SC!
uhhuhlex: Me posing by my isight with new glasses. (Default)
Hello! This is my first 'personal' blog post in about 4 years. Since I signed off on my old blogspot I have missed my followers, and kept meaning to set up a new space to continue my musing.

However, I've not exactly been complacent in that 4 years. I've done various bits and bobs by way of work (political and creative) on movable type, blogger and wordpress. I've also spent many an hour responding to posts. So I'm not a total virgin.

At the moment I should be writing a plan for an essay on transvestism in literature. I know it is in there, just needs coaxing out once I stop procrastinating. I didn't exactly get much done on it for the larger parts of this weekend for various reasons (including a concussed and drunk friend passing out in my bed after a few too many glasses of wine). When they say students calm down in their later years, they obviously hadn't met my friends.
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