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: (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: (Mordin wrong)
Yesterday it was book-restacking. Today I came home from visiting the grandparent in hospital and alighted upon the idea of tackling the Pit of Doom. Aka the cupboard under the stairs, which has been an un-cleaned-out repository for boxes, bags, and collections of crap since the turn of the millennium.

No before and after pictures this time. It was too, too shamefully bad. But in the course of clearing out the piles of stuff - into "Attic" "Firewood" "Donate" and "Dump" sets - I discovered that I had kept all my notes from my Leaving Cert classes. That's eight years ago and more now. And I was an annoyingly tidy adolescent: all of my sheets of notes (and I had copious amounts of notes, particularly for Higher Maths) were in individual protective plastic sleeves.

Saving the plastic sleeves added at least an hour to the evening's entertainment.

I also rediscovered a box full of my childhood Lego (attic: one day, perhaps, I will bear to part with it) and a box full of youthful books such as Arthur Ransome and the Silver Brumby books - I remember reading the Silver Brumbies in the bath, and having to dry them with a hair-dryer once when the book fell in - which went in the donate pile. There was an unopened roll of wrapping paper, a box of books from the parent's college course that hadn't been opened since she graduated in 2000, photographs from a Very Long Time Ago, condolence cards from my grandfather's funeral (twenty years ago), hockey sticks, tennis rackets, camping equipment, dead Christmas cards, and Beanos from 1987. A lifejacket, from my adolescent flirtation with sailing, and kumite mitts I'd given up for dead. Two bicycle helmets. A PC, vintage 1996 - I'm keeping the keyboard, but the thing itself goes to electronics recycling.


That was about six point five hours' work? I think I started around 1800, finished at 0100, with a break in the middle for dinner. So I think I have justified my existence for today.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I've been social today with a couple of my favourite people. Read half a book. Am now unaccountably tired.

Many people seem to be doing round-up posts for 2012. This is not one. My energy for personal blogging has diminished with the increase of other demands on my intellectual and emotional energies. And there've been a lot of demands. But overall I'm tentatively pleased by what I've been able to accomplish, even if I do perpetually take on too much, and even if I spent October through December huddling paralysed in a combination of illness-hangover, anxiety and depression. Still, we go onwards. It's all we can do.

I read 278 books, not counting re-reads. Interned in the IIHSA in the spring. Was invited to contribute a regular column to Tor.com. Reviewed a lot of books. Was granted funding for research. Co-guided a study tour in Greece. Had an abstract accepted for a conference. Wrote two chapters of my thesis. Made several false starts on the third, but such is life. Overcame social anxiety enough to send emails to publicists and writers about the column and the reviews.

Overawed by the kindness of friends and strangers alike.

Am still not good about self-worth and self-belief, but I think I'm making strides towards being more comfortable with myself. Slow progress, with much backsliding, but progress. It's amazing, though, how much easier life is with a regular, respectably-sized source of income.

(It's actually not a lot of money, the equivalent of a full-time minimum wage job. But Not a lot of money is still more money than I've ever had in my life - even if I am still living on my overdraft because of mum's sick-pay status.)

Anyway, that was the year that was. Goals for 2013: be a better person. Try to get into a good position on my thesis. Try to be kind to myself.

Happy New Year, friends. Ave!
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
I took the last few days off from the internet. It was good for me. I woke up alive today - and proceeded to spend the whole day cleaning. And when I say the whole day, I mean eight solid hours, during which I managed to clean my room.

You think perhaps I was slacking, but I have been living in filth for months and months and months. It took the full time to get the furballs and fluff and the accumulated... stuff... corralled and conquered.

Also I fixed the dryer vent with electrician's tape and beat out one of the house rugs. And visited the hardware place and the supermarket. So.

Now I am going to go fall over and sleep more.
hawkwing_lb: (anyway)
I traveled to town, with the estuaries thick with fog. Followed up with the bank regarding some paperwork. Made a few rounds for family presents - Carluccio's seems to be the best place for edible presents, although it's a little pricier than I'd wish.

Now am unable to concentrate on all the notes I should be taking. And so on.
hawkwing_lb: (Helen Mirren Tempest)
...got up and left before I was quite ready for it. Consequently I came home earlier than planned, rather than staying for the interestingly-titled evening lecture, and staggered up the road from the train station. In the dark. In the rain. With fallen leaves scuttling on the pavement.

I tried too hard to do too much today, and I'm paying for it. Sigh.
hawkwing_lb: (Helps if they think you're crazy)
Today I made it in to town, courtesy of a lift from my long-suffering and incredibly generous mother. (No, she's not reading over my shoulder as I type this, but if she ever reads this blog: thanks, Mum. You're the best.) There I was supposed to give a paper to some fellow-postgrads, and this I succeeded in doing.

I don't know how well I succeeded, because I'm out of my head still, and there were fewer questions than I'd expected - only one or two from a dozen people. So probably did not go so well. But as a reward for getting my arse into town in the first place, I went to the bookshop before I got on the train home.

I always love going into Hodges Figgis. There is no other bookshop for me - never really has been, since a good long while, even when Waterstones was still in business just across the road. So it has ever been the bookshop. Often when I've had no money I've gone in and just browsed, and chatted with one or two of the staff - one of whom, a wonderful woman, always has something good to recommend to me in the young adult or space opera or urban fantasy line, and for whom I'm often able to return the favour.

Today, for example, she recommended Benedict Jacka and Jaye Wells - Jacka with such fervancy that I succumbed, and picked up Fated, despite my resolution to come home with no more than three new books. (Chris Wooding's The Fade, Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren, and Colin Cotterill's Anarchy and Old Dogs.) I retaliated by recommending Cotterill's The Coroner's Lunch and Pierre Pevel's The Cardinal's Blades.

Never met anyone like that in Easons, or Waterstones, or the other bookshops. Never met people who knew their shit at all in any other bookshop in Ireland. (Where by people, I mean employed people.) It makes me very happy to be able to talk books in a bookshop, however briefly.

Possibly today I was especially very happy because I'd succeeded in leaving the house and doing something other than lying around being sick. But I confess that bookshops and (old, full, not-noisy) libraries are like temples to me: places to go and commune with the magnificence, and the foolishness, and the mediocre middle ground - but mostly the magnificence - of the written word.

Anyway, I'm weird in the head right now, bleary and exhausted. So I'm not going to try doing anything else tonight.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
1. The Centre for Gender and Womens' Studies (of which I was not heretofore much aware) is having a visiting lecture next Wednesday. "Sons of Belial: contaminated/contaminating Victorian male bodies," by a certain Dr. Hall of the Wellcome Library. With a title like that, how can one not want to go?

2. I am still sick, tho' slightly less so than yesterday: I begin to hold out hopes for a reasonably complete recovery by Monday. (Although, seriously, this has been one hell of a vicious bug, so my hopes are leavened with fear.)

3. I am not impressed with the slowness with which Sony Europe is arranging for my new laptop to be delivered. It's been a fortnight, lads. I expected rather better.

4. The paper that I have to give for the postgrad seminar on Monday continues not to write itself, but I hold out hopes it will not be so bad I have to commit seppuku thereafter.

5. Being sick means falling even further behind where I'd like to be with my thesis. On the other hand, I've managed to catch up on some relatively undemanding nonfiction reading (albeit not for research), so I suppose it hasn't been a complete loss.
hawkwing_lb: (In Vain)
So, turns out when I go to the gym in the mornings, running first thing is contra-indicated. I need to warm up first before I try going flat out. I'll remember that for next time.

Still. Some messy running to start with. 12km in 32:40 on the exercise bike. Benchpress: 1x5 @50kg, 1x5 @65kg, 3x5 @60kg. Seated row: 3x12 @40kg. Bicep curl: 3x12 @16kg (8kg per arm). Back extensions: 3x10. Lateral raise: 3x12 @10kg (5kg per arm). 0.5 miles in 5:00, treadmill.

Mass: 101.6-102kg.

Afterwards, I was starving. I'm still hungry, in fact, despite a giant bowl of soup. But I should do a small bit of work before my Plato class - and before class I can have a snack.

Also, have an interesting link about Cesare Borgia and Machiavelli.
hawkwing_lb: (Mordin wrong)
I've been assigned a swanky study carrel in the swankiest building on campus, the Long Room Hub. The building itself's only two years old: there's wood panelling everywhere and fabulous views of Front and Fellows Square out great big windows; skylights; a central atrium; a "Conversation Space" with comfy chairs; a kitchen that has a dishwasher; and a shower in the basement. My own desk. My own desk-locker. Shelves. An actual office chair - padded, with swivel.

I'm so excited about this, I'm having a hard time settling in to work. The chair swivels! I can look out the windows! Walls and ceiling are all panelled in lovely rich wood.

I feel like up till now, I've been travelling coach. And out of the blue someone upgraded me to first class. It doesn't get much better than this - funding, a fancy study carrel, undeserved respect. Now to live up to expectations, finish my Greek, and take some more notes.
hawkwing_lb: (Helps if they think you're crazy)
Plato Greek, review for Tor.com, Callimachus Greek, cannibalising of old presentation for instant!progress on the thesis, gym.

1.38 miles in 15:00, treadmill. 11km in 30:00, exercise bike. Benchpress 1x8 at 35kg, 3x5 at 40kg (both including bar), bicep curl 2x5 at 24kg, 1x5 at 16kg. Some other mucking about with free weights. Very short cool-down row.

Mass: between 101.2 and 102kg.

Perhaps I am fit enough to contemplate climbing again without much terror. We shall see. (Starting maybe Sunday week, I think. I will have a desk on campus by then.)
hawkwing_lb: (Bear CM beyond limit the of their bond a)
Arose 0645hrs, in the rainy dark before dawn.

Wrote some few words of fiction on the train this morning. Finished a short column post. Went to Greek class and made the horrifying discovery that we're going to be looking at Hellenistic poetry. Wrote 500 words on the thesis.

Went to the gym. Gym crowded by undergraduates, curse them. Mile in 10:40, treadmill, intervals. 33km in 35:00, exercise bike resistance 8. Benchpress: 2x6reps @30kg (+bar), 1x5reps @25kg (+bar), 1x5reps @20kg (+bar). Bicep curl: 3x8reps @20kg (10kg/hand). Other free weight stuff. Rowing, 5:00. Cool-down run, 0.6 miles in 7:00, intervals.

Wrote c. 1/3rd review on train home, in the post-twilight rainy dark. I shall attempt to work on it some more in the next hour, before exhaustion crashes me.

Mass according to gym scales: between 102 and 103kg.
hawkwing_lb: (DA2 isabela facepalm)
Still behind on everything. So doomed. So stressed. So avoiding exercise even when it would probably make things better.

Diet is a big factor, and for a number of reasons including but not limited to brokeness, it has not been good lately. Sigh.

Books 2012: 168-169

168. David Weber and Jane Lindskold, Fire Season. Baen, 2012.

Read for review for Tor.com. I roped [livejournal.com profile] jennygadget into helping. I fear we rather tore it apart: it is not a good book, especially not for a book aimed at a YA or younger audience.

169. Kameron Hurley, Infidel. Night Shade Books, 2011.

Excellent science fiction that pulls no punches and comes complete with truly squicky worldbuilding nightmare fuel and really gripping, tense, fast pace. Even better than God's War.

Today I accomplished: one walk, of three miles approximately. Finished a review. Read a book. Asked an interview question. Spent a lot of time feeling like shit.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Justine Larbalestier, Please, Please, Please, Give Your Protag Friends, a Sibling, Parents:

One of things that attracted me to YA as a genre is that so much of it is about friendship and family relationships. It’s why every time I read a YA book that doesn’t feature those strong relationships I’m deeply disappointed. To me, it’s like the author failed to understand the genre.

Lavie Tidhar, Your literature, not mine:

I feel somewhat alienated from this view of literature, I must confess. Is it me who is ignorant, for failing to see, for instance, Chabon’s Specialness? Or to be stupid for expecting an international book festival to focus its attentions on something other than a privileged American writer bemoaning the fact he feels he can’t write about the Muslim veil?

Kari Sperring, Harrassment:

Sexual harassment is never acceptable. By anyone, of anyone. That is, for me, the bottom line. I've been on the receiving end of it on and off for most of my life.

Ursula Vernon, Not Dead Yet:

Chartres cathedral is about a thousand years old and looks it. Apparently there is a point in my head at which stuff merely becomes Really Damn Old, because I was not noticeably more wowed by the 4th century crypt in the basement. Yup. That's old, all right. (I don't think I have any real ability to comprehend a thousand years. Anything over about four hundred all occurs simultaneously in my brain. Petroglyphs, Anasazi ruins, Chartres, Romans, Visigoths, Mayans, Erik the Red, Columbus, Pyramids, Beowulf, Caesar...I think on some level I may believe Jesus was stabbed in the side with a Clovis point by Vikings.)

I'd have something to say about this post, but I don't time to do more than roll my eyes and sigh.
hawkwing_lb: (dreamed and are dead)
I translated some Greek. I finished one column and read a book for review. I have not yet wrote the review. I went for a walk. I found a new comment on a review I wrote last January that made me giggle.

I am curious what the reviewer's "broad experience" entails. I, for one, have probably only read a few hundred books in my life (I wouldn't hope to compete with a scholar in Classics), but I have certainly read a great many that are much worse than Theft of Swords.

Of course, it all depends on how we define "worse" and "better," but I found Mr. Sullivan's story fun and thoroughly entertaining, and I would easily rank it as one of my better reading experiences of the past several years.

I laugh because a) last January and b) my qualifications to make a judgement of taste, someone is still calling them into question? I am shocked! Shocked!

Actually, I'm not shocked - though nine months after the fact, I am a little puzzled.
hawkwing_lb: (DA2 isabela facepalm)
Today I read a novel. Wrote half of a review (500 words) for it. Wrapped up and formatted an interview. Wrote 200 words of my thesis, a process which took over three painful hours. Okayed books to review for Ideo's winter issue. Queried more reviews. Took a painkiller because my head felt fuzzy.

And yet, my brain is convinced I did not do much at all today.

(Yes, that would be why I am blogging my "accomplishments.")
hawkwing_lb: (Helps if they think you're crazy)
I read and reviewed a book. I asked three interview questions. I sent one interview query. I got my supervisor's blessing to write an abstract for this conference. (I'm still not sure what I'm writing the abstract on, but details! Details!) I exchanged actual spoken words with other humans, including my supervisor. I wrote 150 words on my thesis, and feel I may possibly be beginning to reacquire momentum. I ran 0.5 miles and exercise biked 5.5km. I bench-pressed 3x12 18kg. I bicep curled 3x5 20kg. I queried the status of poems on submission.

I drank too much diet Coke and ate too much chocolate. Working on healthier habits = hard.

So I didn't really do all that much today.
hawkwing_lb: (Helps if they think you're crazy)
I am making soup. It is vegetable soup with the scraps leftover from a boiled ham, and will be very protein-heavy soup, because I emptied two tins of different kinds of beans into it.

I am surprisingly happy. I slept well and woke happy. There is rain between showers of sunlight, and I breakfasted upon black grapes and Greek yoghurt drizzled in maple syrup. The words in the reader's report on the submitted chapter of my thesis have not changed during the night: the criticism is still mild and constructive, and the sentence The candidate demonstrates impressive mastery of the archaeological data, writes with elegance and precision, and begins to formulate highly promising theoretical grounds from which to embark upon the kind of cultural phenomenology of healing which the thesis sets out to produce hasn't mysteriously disappeared.

I am still hugging that sentence. I want to frame it.

I am so rarely this happy. This reassured that I am not a waste of space and time, that I am doing what I am meant to do, and doing it well. It is impossible to own my own abilities without anxiety, without fear of overweening pride and self-deception - always I must qualify the sentence. Always, I disbelieve. Always, I am insufficient.

But today I am less insufficient, and can make soup and play videogames and go for a walk and be kind to myself, because today, for a short time, I am happy and full of charity and love towards the world.
hawkwing_lb: (Bear CM beyond limit the of their bond a)
There are things that don't translate.

I was thinking about that today. I walked into the bookshop on Dawson St. after my interview ended and before I managed to miss my train. (The sky pallid blue between the buildings and the clouds, lanced through with occasional points of light: I'm still noticing the difference in small things. Other things are not so different: Game has closed up shop across the road, and there's still a To Let sign where Waterstones used to be. That's going on a year now.)

So I walked into the bookshop. Past the bestsellers rack to the left of the entrance is a little ramp. Up the little ramp, in the middle of the floor, is a double-sided breast-height bookshelf labelled "Irish Interest/Irish Language." There aren't an awful lot of Irish language books - and most of them are course books and dictionaries, unless you go around the little bookshelf to the clothbound hardcovers with the expensive academic editions of medieval and early modern Irish texts. But today, on the tail end of the "Irish Language" bookshelf, I saw a book with an attractive cover: An Litir, by Liam Mac Cóil. A basket-hilted rapier had pride of place on the cover, and the back copy had things to say about 1600s Galway and family troubles and war.

One of the things that won't translate is how it took me aback to see an Irish novel that looked like something someone would actually read: not a problem novel, with a title like "Addiction" or "The Debt," stuck somewhere in an unrecognisable Ireland of the 1950s or 60s or 70s; not poetry, not a play. An actual historical novel that looked like something I would be persuaded to read, sitting there in that pathetic bookshop selection of maybe forty books composed in Irish in the last century.

I wanted to take it home with me. But I'm broke, and I'd need to get a good dictionary to help matters along, too. So it stayed on its shelf, and I left without it.

But it took me aback, still. Evidence that the language isn't dead, despite it all. Despite everything. For a moment, there, I felt positively nationalistic. It's a peculiar thing, but the stories we learned in school? The seven centuries of "Irish dead," blood soil and the bitter fruit of making myths out of accommodation, disenfranchisement and famine and bloody defeat?

It sticks. It's down there in the bone, and no matter what civilised narrative of complicated cohabitation I layer it over with, the fact remains that 19th century British imperialism did its best to drive the Irish language out of common use.

And succeeded.

I come back to dwell on that at irregular intervals. I've been poking at my own relationship with the Irish experience of English hegemony since a Fourth Class history lesson in which we were introduced to the Plantation of Ireland, and I started to understand that Irish class wasn't this strange form of torture invented by teachers out of a sadistic desire to make us all suffer.

That's the bit of history you never get away from. Not living beside it. The part where it's personal.

The part where it hurts.

My life is easier in many ways because English is my native tongue. But that doesn't change the fact that my lack of fluency in Irish is a barrier between me and the literature of Ireland's past. Perhaps - it has been said, and sometimes I even agree - that in matters of national pride it is a mistake to dwell too closely upon the past. That the past is far less important than the future. It has been said - and sometimes I even agree - that it's just as well, really, we had us some British rule.

They were pretty good at bridges and railways.

On the other hand, it's hard to get past the forced resettlements of "to hell or to Connacht" after the English Civil Wars, or the sectarian cruelty that lasted entirely too damn long in the 20th century and has roots deep enough to still put out shoots every so often today, whenever someone waters it with the bile of hateful rhetoric.

And it's hard to get past the romanticisation of Ireland, sometimes, including by people who should know better. We become part of our own commodification. Culture changes - even in the cause of preservation, stasis is death - and we change as individuals, and in aggregate.

It's a complicated thing in my head and under my feet. So.

This is what I think about when I miss my train.


hawkwing_lb: (Default)

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