hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Today I'm twenty-nine years old. Another year older and still not dead!

It has been my habit on my birthday, the last couple of years, to send messages to people telling them how much I appreciate their presence in my life. This year, I think, there are too many people to make that entirely practical - and I don't know all their emails. So I'm just going to write here what I want to say.

Dear friends,

It's been a tricky year, since this time in 2014. Without you, I wouldn't be here. Without you, I wouldn't have a PhD all but in hand. Without you, my life would be so much poorer and smaller, and contain so much less joy. I am honoured by your acquaintance, and your friendship, your hospitalities and your support: your presence in my life is a gift and a blessing, and it humbles me.

Thank you. Never stop being awesome.

Dr. Me?

Jun. 24th, 2015 06:15 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I defended my thesis on Monday afternoon. Viva voce. Successfully: I have minor corrections (the examiners' reports are, between them, 20 pages long) and once that is done I can go do new things.

I enjoyed myself, once I forgot to be terrified. And afterwards some people even came out to help me celebrate, which meant a very great deal to me. People! Showing up to mark this milestone in my life! I felt... cared for.

So many people have helped me get this far, with support moral and otherwise. So much encouragement. I have been deeply honoured by it, and I do not forget how very much I owe to so very many.




Yesterday, I went for a walk and for a swim and got myself sunburned. Today all I want to do is sleep. It is somewhat frustrating. Life feels very strange.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Today I have committed bureaucracy, and also gym. Give us this day our daily bread, and deliver us from waiting in ticketed lines, for lo it is a small evil among many small evils.

It was relatively painless, as these things go, except for the part where I have to go back again tomorrow to collect my new ration of paperwork. Adulting. I am doing it? Especially since I also bought socks. Socks without holes in are important. I probably should not have bought socks, because money, but, well. The sock drawer is deeply embarrassing right now.

And gym.

Benchpress: 1x5 @60kg, 3x5 @65kg
Squats: 1x10 @20kg, 1x10 @25kg, 1x10 @27.5kg.
Sundry other weightlifting things, like military press and other things whose names I have forgotten, at embarrassingly small weights.
Cycling, resistance 8, 10km in 28:45.
Rowing, resistance 10, 2km in 11:00.

It is very pleasant to have energy to go forth and do things. Also it is very pleasant that the sun is shining, even though it remains cold. It is thirdly very pleasant that I know many wonderful people who are kind and appear to like me, which I can appreciate all the better now the thesis is submitted, and fourthly it is very pleasant to have LEISURE TIME.

Fifthly: sleeping normal people hours and waking up in mornings? The novelty and wonder, it has not worn off.
hawkwing_lb: (Liara doing)
Now that I've put my thesis on submission and it is someone else's problem for a while, my brain has found a new-old thing to fret about: money, and the fact I don't have any.

(Cake and beer was a grand achievement in the food shopping yesterday. Nearly didn't happen, and if I hadn't got some freelance money today the bank would be dunning me about overdrawing my overdraft.)

I don't even know if I'm eligible to apply for Jobseeker's Allowance in my present in-between state. I need to find out, because without it the lights probably don't get to stay on in April.

Sigh. Life would be so much easier with a working printer. And a light box. And a job, if my brain weren't so broken right now that thinking is hard.

Or maybe patronage.

Talking about money is crass. But good lord, it's frustrating. And anxious-making.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
My thesis is submitted. Until my viva voce examination, it is officially someone else's problem.

Now is the time for sleeping normal people hours again and re-learning how to gym and feel things that aren't stress-feelings.

Today I also got a haircut, went to the gym, and found myself borne out to a coffee shop in good company for celebratory foodstuffs. I am amazed at the amazing people whom I have the privilege of knowing.

Gym log:
Cycling: 7.5km in 21:45.
Rowing: 0.4km in 02:00.
Benchpress: 4x5 reps @60kg
Squats: 1x10 reps @20kg, 2x10 reps @25kg. (Though I'm pretty sure my squat form is terrible.)
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Thanks to Toronto Tourism and INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair, I got to take a trip to Toronto this month. Between Tuesday 11th November and Monday 17th November, I was either in Toronto or in transit between Dublin and Toronto.

I flew with Air Canada via Heathrow. The flight out was one of the more painless long flights of my existence. The aircraft was the very latest in shiny passenger-flying, with actual headroom and windows that could be tinted five different shades of green, and they fed us. Recognisable and tasty food: dinner, a snack, and then a hot wrap thing that actually tasted of its ingredients. Plenty of soft drinks: I had some Canadian ginger ale and discovered I liked it.

I landed to sunset in Toronto, and felt as though I’d stepped onto a film set.

I find the skyline, and the layout, of North American cities surreal, when I see them in person. They are so much a part of English-language television, and so different to the cities I am used to, that visiting them feels rather like stepping out of reality and into a fictional dream where people might be uncommonly handsome and even the tenor of street noise is different. The straightness of the roads and the height of buildings messes with my sense of scale. The sky seems larger.

Surreal, like I said.

Read more... )

Clothes

Aug. 30th, 2014 02:51 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I'm hard on my clothes. (You don't need to know this, but I feel like sharing anyway.) I sweat into my shirts like a packmule in the tropics, no matter what I do and regardless of the weather, and my trousers wear out at the seams with disturbing regularity. Were it not for my lifelong aversion to skirts, solidified by six years under a uniform code, I might consider them a better investment.

So today, after discovering my last pair of trousers required surgery, I hied me into town (after meeting a friend I hadn't seen in ages for elevenses) and discovered that THERE WAS A SALE.

Now I have six pairs of trousers, and am very very broke. But hopefully these trousers will last a while longer.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I have slept for a week.

You may or may not recall that I was traveling to foreign English lands in order to attend Nine Worlds 2014, and LonCon3: the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention. Many were the adventures of your intrepid correspondent! Much did she travel! Far did she wander on untrodden paths...


...Well, maybe not so much with the untrodden.


Nine Worlds 2014


I arrived at Heathrow early on Sunday morning, after about 30-45 minutes' sleep. In between the neighbours' dog shutting up, and my alarm going off, there was not all that much time - so I don't actually recall all that much from Sunday. I had a panel to participate in. I arm-wrestled Geoff Ryman (and won): he is a very clever tall skinny geek. I met the very smart Zen Cho, and blurrily encountered Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry, and Jenni Hill, a lovely editor from Orbit UK. I recall having lunch with Elizabeth Bear and Alex Dally MacFarlane, and meeting Scott Lynch in passing, but I was seriously out of it.


Cambridge


Towards the evening, the amazing writer and historian and all-around lovely person Kari Sperring and her man Phil bore me off to Cambridge, where I got to meet their cats, among them a very affectionate half-grown catling who wanted All The Attention.


The inimitable Telzey.

I am immensely grateful to Kari and Phil for their impeccable and delightful hospitality - and for introducing me to young Michelle Yeoh in Hong Kong action movies. They are truly wonderful people.


Cambridge has pretty architecture.

Some tourism (and bookshop tourism) happened on Monday, when I received a whirlwind tour of Cambridge and environs, including the famous Soup Pub (whose real name I cannot now remember). On Tuesday D. of Intellectus Speculativus and their partner Zoe trained down to Cambridge and I spent the day with them, doing tourist stuff like looking at buildings:


Pretty buildings

And inside museums:


Cambridge has many museums

...where we agreed that it was sometimes nice to be able to look at stuff that had nothing to do with any of our subject areas (all Classicists/ancient historians, us) and just admire it as a collection of pretty objects. (The museum did try to educate us about the objects in the collection, but we were having none of it. Bad historians were bad on Tuesday.)


And repaired to a pub called the Maypole, where many beers were on offer and I sampled only one.


Wednesday contained a lot of wibbling on my part and attempts to convince myself that LonCon3 would not actually be terrifying.


Read more... )
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
And I am now on five panels.



The Changing Face of the Urban Fantastic

Thursday 13:30 - 15:00, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

Urban fantasy is a broad church. To some, it's the genre of "Wizard of the Pigeons" and "War of the Oaks"; to others, it means Sam Vimes patrolling the streets of Ankh Morpork, or Locke Lamora conning his way through Camorr. Most recently, it has become synonymous with werewolves, vampires and hot detectives. What holds together the urban fantastic? Are different strands of the genre in conversation with each other? And how important is the influence of the structures and tone of other genres like crime fiction?

Liz Bourke (M), Paul Cornell, Robin Hobb, Freda Warrington.


Chivalrous Critics of Fannish Dimensions

Saturday 20:00 - 21:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)

What makes a good epic fantasy? Does quality of prose matter, or is insisting on literary rigor killjoy and elitist? Is it possible to 'overthink' your experience of reading epic fantasy - or is it patronising to the sub-genre to suggest it should be given an easier ride than other types of writing? What are some of the primary critiques of epic fantasy and how can they be used to improve the genre moving forward?

Myke Cole (M), Liz Bourke, Nic Clarke, Justin Landon, Mari Ness


What does Ireland have to offer?

Sunday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

Ireland is disticntly different as a nation and its people posses a unique identity. How does this work through the creative fiction of modern times? Has the mighty weight of Irish Mythology that have permeated fantasy had an impact on modern writers in Ireland? Where is the new fiction coming from, and what issues of interest are explored?

Liz Bourke (M), Susan Connolly, Kathryn (Kate) Laity(, Ruth Frances Long, Bob Neilson.

I see I'm moderating this one, so I won't be allowed to go to town on the snark. But seriously. Irish Mythology has a "mighty weight"? OH CELTIC TWILIGHT ROMANTICISTS I STAB YOU.

Seeing the Future, Knowing the Past

Sunday 12:00 - 13:30, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Fantasy's use of prophecy - knowable futures - often parallels the way it treats the past, as something both knowable and stable: details of history known from a thousand years back, kingly bloodlines in direct descent for several hundreds of years, etc. In reality, George I of England was 58th in line for the throne and there is a Jacobean claimant still out there somewhere. No one really knows where France originated. History is messy and mutable. Why is fantasy so keen on the known?

William B. Hafford (M), Sarah Ash, Liz Bourke, Karen Miller, Kari Sperring.


Critical Diversity: Beyond Russ and Delany

Monday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

The popular history of SF criticism might just be, if possible, even more straight, white and male than the popular history of SF -- but things are changing. Online and in journals, diverse voices are starting to reach a critical (if you'll excuse the pun) mass. Which publishers and venues are most welcoming to critics from marginalised groups? What are the strengths and weaknesses of academic and popular discourse, in this area? And most importantly, whose reviews and essays are essential reading?

Andrew M. Butler (M), Liz Bourke, Fabio Fernandes, Erin Horakova, Aishwarya Subramanian.

I don't read a lot of criticism. I'm usually too busy trying to meet deadlines. But I can talk about what I do read, I guess.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
And the people responsible have been so foolish as to put me on panels.

Three of them.



Chivalrous critics of fannish dimensions

Saturday 20:00 - 21:00

What makes a good epic fantasy? Does quality of prose matter, or is insisting on literary rigor killjoy and elitist? Is it possible to 'overthink' your experience of reading epic fantasy - or is it patronising to the sub-genre to suggest it should be given an easier ride than other types of writing? What are some of the primary critiques of epic fantasy and how can they be used to improve the genre moving forward?


Seeing the Future, Knowing the Past

Sunday 12:00 - 13:30

Fantasy's use of prophecy - knowable futures - often parallels the way it treats the past, as something both knowable and stable: details of history known from a thousand years back, kingly bloodlines in direct descent for several hundreds of years, etc. In reality, George I of England was 58th in line for the throne and there is a Jacobean claimant still out there somewhere. No one really knows where France originated. History is messy and mutable. Why is fantasy so keen on the known?


Critical Diversity: Beyond Russ and Delany

Monday 11:00 - 12:00

The popular history of SF criticism might just be, if possible, even more straight, white and male than the popular history of SF -- but things are changing. Online and in journals, diverse voices are starting to reach a critical (if you'll excuse the pun) mass. Which publishers and venues are most welcoming to critics from marginalised groups? What are the strengths and weaknesses of academic and popular discourse, in this area? And most importantly, whose reviews and essays are essential reading?




I'm not sure if the panel participants have been finalised yet.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I didn't miss the windows rattling while fighter jets buzzed the city, though. Even though I couldn't see them.

It being a national holiday, I stuck close to home until mid-afternoon, since all the archaeological sites and libraries would be closed anyway. But eventually I went down to Plaka, and had a kebab and some frozen yoghurt, and walked up around the Roman agora and back down to the square at Monastiraki, where an African drum band of some description was playing. Recorded drum music never quite captures the bass tremor, the reverberation of beat in one's diaphragm. The guys playing were so obviously having fun, and I wanted to dance really badly - but no one else was dancing.

So I came home and went out for a run - I lie, it was more of a shuffle - for the count of one hundred in the park. My wind is so gone. But if I try to do that every couple of days, it'll get easier.

Now, I suppose, I should work on this review. Since I'm supposed to be dedicating the rest of the week to research...
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Is now here, and complete, at 13 entries and something on the order of 10,000 words.

I may talk about my half-day holiday in Liverpool on Tuesday soon. I have Opinions on museums who bombard people with audiovis.

But not right now.

To-do list for this week:

THESIS THESIS THESIS
Turn up funding claim for my one-sixth of expenses.
Read two books.
Review said books.
Write up books read to date this year.
Attempt to write SH column on conference.
hawkwing_lb: (Aveline is not amused)
Writing up of the conference continues over at the wordpress blog.

I got up before nine today, to go to the gym and get home before full tide. The weather is stunning at the moment: sun, blue skies, light breeze, 20-22 degrees Celsius.

So, gymming! Benchpress 30kg + bar, 1x8 reps, 2x6 reps, with a lovely spot of spotting from one of the gym staff. Deadlift, 20kg + bar, 3x10. Chest fly, 4kg/arm 3x10. Shoulder fly, 4kg/arm 3x10. Standing shoulder press, 4kg/arm, 3x10. Bicep curl, 6kg/arm, 2x10. Supported bicep curl, 12kg, 1x5.

Then exercise bike, 10km inside 27:30. No running today. Had to get the train home to be in time to catch the tide.




I met my mother on the beach. We spent half an hour mucking about in the water. The tide was high and full, and floating somewhere out beyond the harbour mouth was the front bumper of a car (detail reported by lifeguard in kayak). The water was murkier and a little choppier than it was yesterday, but still blue-green. A little scattered about with surface collections of weed. The cold freshwater current met the warm water - in short, it was glorious.

I'm trying to improve my swimming capacities, which means I swim for a count of thirty and then muck about some more. (I am not a good swimmer, although it seems that the lifting has improved my upper body strength to the point where I'm better than I was.)




After beach, lunch of soup and a toasted sandwich, and shopping in the supermarket. No sooner did I get home, I realised I needed to nap.

Nap like a napping thing.
hawkwing_lb: (DA 2 scaring the piss)
Today's glamorous exercise: cleaning the kitchen. Look upon the shining glamour of the procrastinator at work! Tremble before the smell of bleach! Fear the fact the labourer has no cleaning gloves and CLEANS REGARDLESS!

...Yeah. I don't know what came over me. Except that the kitchen floor was sticky. And now it is less sticky.
hawkwing_lb: (In Vain)
Everything is exhausting and productive of anxiety right now. This is natural, and would be natural with a thesis alone. With a thesis and family medical crises... Well. Fun times!

Today, dear friends, I acquired a new haircut. I believe this is my first haircut since summer, but I could be wrong. It could just be since October. It feels fluffy, and I no longer have bowl head, so it's good by me. (Although the gender discrimination in prices in the hairdressing industry, my word...)





On the way to the haircut, though, I stopped off in the bookshop. I wanted to get a copy of Patrick Leigh Fermor's Mani: Travels in Southern Greece, but there wasn't one. But in the travel literature section was a big table with paperback copies of travel writing out of Eland Publishing, and among them was an absolute gem of a find: An Ottoman Travller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi, edited and translated by Robert Dankoff and Sooyong Kim. I believe possibly I'd vaguely heard of Evlija Çelebi before, maybe? But this was the first time properly, and it is his first time in English translation. Extracts from the work of a 17th-centur Ottoman travel-writer! How brilliant!

...Of course it came home with me. Of course.

My mother also bought for me today the first dressing-gown I've owned in fifteen years or more. It is purple toweling. Robe! I like robes. Something very pre-modern about them. Also, warm.

I am presently feeling guilty about the review copies on my shelf that I haven't read yet. I do not have a timeframe for reading them either. When there are slightly fewer demands on my emotional attention?





I also get to feel guilty about how I have deprioritised the gym in my life in the last fortnight. Other things have to come first. Thesis, and work, and emotions, and stuff. Like training myself off the copious amounts of Coca-cola I was drinking. No more than one can a day henceforth... (Besides, building shelves was exercise, right?)

Guilt! Frustration! Guilt! Exhaustion! Fun, life is...
hawkwing_lb: (Mordin wrong)


See the shelves in that picture? I built them. From scratch. I cut the planks to length – for only the third time in my life using a saw – measured the heights, nailed them in place, put some more nails in when the first nails looked like they weren’t quite doing the job, bashed my thumb with the hammer, and stuck wood glue down the worst of the gaps.

It’s not perfect. It wobbles a little, a couple of the shelves are slightly slanted, and I need to put one more plank in place tomorrow (I’m too tired tonight to finish) and finish the edges with sandpaper. (Maybe, in the summer, I will varnish it. Probably not, though). But it does the job, or will – probably – and it cost, including tools like the saw, which I had to purchase last weekend, less than an equivalent set of shelves from Ikea, and at least a third less than pre-built cabinetry. (Okay, so the cabinetry has somewhat better structural integrity and shiny pretty finish. But still.)

No one ever taught me how to do this. I decided I want to try. And that meant learning by doing. With all the terror and flaws and potential horrible failure modes that implies. (My mother helped when I needed a second pair of hands, but she didn’t believe I could do it. In fact, her first reaction on learning of my planned attempt: “You can’t do it! You’ll never be able to do it! No!”)

(One would think I was seven, and not coming up on twenty-seven.) (Also, hell, am I really coming up twenty-seven? When I was seven I thought I’d be queen of the universe by twenty.)

The success of this project hasn’t been proved out yet – the proof will come tomorrow, when I hammer in the last shelf-plank and test the others with the weight of books – but it doesn’t seem fragile. There is tensile strength in inch-thick pine and two-inch nails…

Anyway. I don’t want to say that it’s gendered, learning how to build things. But I think my mother’s mental resistance to the idea of my building-competence is at least partly gendered, and I think my lack of experience with banging shit together is also partly gendered: female persons are subtly culturally discouraged from learning to do stuff like Hang Shelves or Build Shelves – not only in formal lessons, but informally. That could just be my impression, though.

In conclusion: I built shelves!
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Last night I dreamed strange dreams. A story-dream, actually, about a girl being sent out from some fancy school to face a giant because she'd discovered something the Board of Management didn't approve of. I begin to suspect that the sleeping tablets (which have been a major help in actually getting to sleep: last night it still took me about two hours to drop off, but I guarantee it would've been two hours more without them) are responsible for the consistently more-vivid-than-is-usually-the-case dreams the last few nights.

Although today I managed to emerge into full consciousness (well, almost full consciousness) by 1045. Signs that sleep hygiene practice is beginning to work?

This morning I discovered menstruation arrived overnight. At last! (But couldn't it have held off another day? Cramps and shelf-building are going to be funsies.) Laundry is on. Plates have been cupboarded. Knives have been dragged through the sharpener. Breakfast was a carton of fruit juice. Anthro book has been read. Now all I have do is read another one and get more wood.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2013: 30-31


30. Deborah Coates, Deep Down. Tor, 2013. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Coates marries the chill of a proper ghost story to vivid characterisation and deeply-felt landscape. Contemporary fantasy, sequel to Wide Open. Great voice. Although Wide Open was very good, this is better. I strongly recommend both of them.

(Longer review on submission elseweb.)


31. Karen Healey, When We Wake. Little, Brown & Co., 2013. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Excellent YA meets brilliant science fiction. I am inarticulate in its regard: I am trying, still, to disentangle the things that I admire about it now, as a work of literature that appeals to me as an adult, from the things that should make it work for its target audience, and I think it comes down to voice. Healey really nails voice: her own authorial voice, and the voice of When We Wake's protagonist, Tegan.




It appears that the good folks at Galactic Suburbia like the work I've been doing in the Tor.com column. Since I appear on the shortlist for their Galactic Suburbia award. (Around minute 30.)

This is baffling, and weird, and altogether marvelously validating.
hawkwing_lb: (Mordin wrong)
Or something.

Today I bought a saw. And wood glue. And planks. And set out to make a small removable extension to the top of my standing bookcases.

Note, dear friends. I had never used a saw before. Or wood glue. So this was something of an experiment in Mad Science, and as a consequence I don't have pictures of stage one (learning to saw; discovering that the planks come out not quite as even as I'd like) or stage two (applying wood glue to wood without sticking it all over the floor; bracing the supports to allow the glue to set).

I do have a picture of stage three of prototype one: almost complete (bar dry glue):




Uneven wobbliness aside, I think it'll work.




And I have learned lessons to apply to the construction of prototype two.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Rod Rees' The Shadow Wars (The Demi-Monde: Spring in the UK) arrived in ARC form a little while ago. Well, I started reading it for review, and tweeted a few egregiously awful quotes, and the (in)famous Requires Hate got in on the act...

The Storify of the Untethered Breasts:

"Odette gave a wiggle and was pleased to see that her untethered breast jiggled in a quite charming fashion."


Someone passed on a link to the cover of the latest Kindle magazine: Rape In Wonderland.


WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?

Ronan Wills discusses Hounded by Kevin Hearne, and his view on the banality of urban fantasy.

Nerds of A Feather discusses grim/dark iterations in fantasy:


[W]hat's the purpose of all the violence and cruelty in the art we consume, and specifically in fantasy fiction? When is it acceptable and when is it not?


A certain author turns up in the comments to defend his precious, as is becoming tediously de rigueur in his case, and diametrically opposed to the response of Joe Abercrombie to criticism as quoted in the post. (I have Important Thoughts, natch, on violence and fantasy, but they'll keep.)

(No, really, they'll have to keep. I've reached my procrastination limit for today.)


And! If you've made it this far, you deserve some reward. Stylist Turns Ancient Hair Debate On Its Head:


By day, Janet Stephens is a hairdresser at a Baltimore salon, trimming bobs and wispy bangs. By night she dwells in a different world. At home in her basement, with a mannequin head, she meticulously re-creates the hairstyles of ancient Rome and Greece.

Ms. Stephens is a hairdo archaeologist.

Her amateur scholarship is sticking a pin in the long-held assumptions among historians about the complicated, gravity-defying styles of ancient times. Basically, she has set out to prove that the ancients probably weren't wearing wigs after all.


And a Dutch television show enlists two men to undergo simulated labour contractions.

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