I have been lied to. I was supposed to have Internet on the train for the six hours it took me to come south, but did I? Alas, I did not. But, no bother. I spent the time writing finishing Chapter 10 of Bede and reading articles for my dissertation. In the month of July I wrote two chapters of my dissertation and a chapter of a novel to a grand total of at least 12,000 words. Hooray!

I also sat with an American couple from New Mexico. They were both retired and were on vacation. As expected, they asked what I was studying. “I’m a PhD student in medieval literature.” (blank stare) “So what will that prepare you for?” “Well I’ll have a PhD” “So you’re going to teach?” (A little part of me died inside.) “Yes,” I answered.

Then, before the woman would let me alone to continue working on Bede, she asked, “Do you know the capital of Indonesia?” She was working on a crossword puzzle. “Jakarta.”

Later on she asked, “Are you from Edinburgh? Or London?” She was surprised to hear I’m from Texas. I don’t think my accent has changed that much. Practically the entire School of English is American. My neighbors are all Chinese. You get the picture.

She later told her husband that Rick Steves said to be very careful of pickpockets in London—“wear your fanny pack”—I’ve never really thought about London being dangerous. I guess perhaps on the Tube. But if you don’t make yourself stand out, if you stay aware of your surroundings, you should be fine. Tourists who stand out as tourists are the most at risk. I must admit, I derived some pleasure today out of going from Kings Cross station to Paddington station via the Underground without giving it much second thought. However, I did not like that when I bought a sandwich, the clerk waved my Scottish note at her manager in confusion and then smiled at me, “You’re from Scotland?” Yes, and I’m tired of my money being suspect whenever I come south, thankyouverymuch.

I do not intend to sound critical of my train companions, they merely baffled me. They reminded me of how friendly Americans can be, even if somewhat exasperating. In the woman’s favor, however, she did ask about the details of what I was studying, and I was able to spread knowledge about medieval cycle dramas. When she asked me what Doomsday was, I answered “Judgement Day. It’s when Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead”—and immediately realized that I answered with the Creed. Oh well.

(Also, Harry Potter’s birthday is today. Happy 29th!)

After being on the move for literally ten hours, I finally sat down in Christ Church meadow to be still while at least three clocktowers tolled 6 o’clock. Tomorrow I shall dive back into the books and articles and revise in earnest, but for now, I have paid for my Internet with a pot of peppermint tea, and now I’m going to enjoy it.

Progress Report

Chapter One: 100% completed
Chapter Two: 75% completed
Total Status: ~50% complete

I had my Second Meeting with the supervisor today, during which I apprised him of my progress and he gave feedback about the excerpt I gave him last week. His enthusiasm for my very clear writing style has me slightly baffled, as my opinion of the excerpt was that it was very much a draft, but perhaps the sheer amount of writing I do is actually paying off. My writing this week has slowed down due to a double ear infection (it’s more the itching than anything else), so if I seem slightly spastic it’s because my. darn. ears. won’t. stop. itching. But otherwise, progressing happily along. Apparently I am self-disciplined after all. Among others, my Old Testament and New Testament* playlists have been quite helpful.

In celebration of a good meeting I shall spend this evening working on Bede. I need to prepare for the battle, but first I need to nurse my character back to health as Kelly left her half-dead at the end of the last chapter.


* Same drill: 1. Download and unzip; 2. Drag songs into iTunes; 3. File -> Library -> Import Playlist, and select the appropriate .txt file.

Oh, synchronizers!

The more ADD I get the more I think in parentheses. No really. Or with excessive amounts of commas. It is probably, no doubt, partially related to the quantities of caffeine consumed this week, not aided in the least by the gift of Dove Dark Chocolates (behavioural conditioning! a piece of chocolate for a chapter read! for 500 400 300 200 100 words written!) included in the package from my mother. It is, however, more likely my brain’s method of informing me, quite obstinately, that twenty-four (24) hours was not enough, thankyouverymuch, to take off between the compositions of the First Chapter and the Second. These two facts compounded with the fact that the dissertation is being disobedient — a consequence I should have foreseen, considering the subject matter, similar to how God should have foreseen that forgetting to change the locks to Paradise after expelling Satan was a bad idea, and then they ate the apples he was saving for pie, and Cain misunderstood the term ‘sibling rivalry’, but I digress — have led to me being slightly behind schedule. (No, I am not being sacrilegious. If one cannot approach one’s subject with some degree of levity, one might very well go mad.)

But in all sobriety, the dissertation is actually skipping along quite well, especially when one considers that several MLitts I know of haven’t even begun writing. ‘Slightly’, in this case, means… a day. Perhaps a day and a  half, but nothing a Saturday can’t solve. (Astonishingly apt considering that Saturn is the god of ‘human time’.) However, I haven’t the slightest clue when I will write my penultimate chapter of Bede. I would work on it tonight, but in my present state of mind, this is probably not a good idea. (Fear not, Eliot, if all else fails I shall write it on the train.) Anyhow, as I have gotten ahead of schedule with reading The Name of the Rose, I shall spend this evening watching ST:TOS, and hopefully none of the episodes will have traces of medievalism.

In Noctem

This morning I was listening to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Spotify (it’s like iTunes but online; you can’t keep any of the music but you can listen online for free. No, it does not work in the U.S.). While it seems I’m one of the only people to like this soundtrack by Nicholas Hooper, I think we can all agree that “In Noctem” is simply stunning. I’ve been listening to it on repeat while I track down the lyrics from a spattering of online forums. This is the best I can get:

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That Time

A year ago today Kelly and I were driving down Route 66, listening to Regina Spektor. We stopped at the Red Barn and a watermelon patch, ignoring a sign warning ‘BRIDGE OUT’ because there wasn’t any bridge to begin with, and were laughing too hard about the shaking of the corn to stop at the Blue Whale. Has it really only been a year?

Yesterday, in one fell swoop, my mother increased my library here by 16%. I shall be occupied for quite some time. They’re good books too. Thank you. It’s been raining nonstop since the afternoon and I have much enjoyed putting my new rain boots to good use. I can walk in the rain and through puddles and my feet stay dry and warm. It’s amazing. How did I manage to live in Scotland for ten months without rain boots? I guess I just had wet feet.

The cinema in Dundee is a real cinema. Meaning it has more than three screens. There was even an escalator and previews before the movie began. It is, however, apparently a UK thing to leave the lights on, ever so dimly, during the film. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was definitely worth waking up at 6:30 am to go see. We are going to see it again on Sunday. I am still incredulous that Brittn saw the film two hours before I did even though she is in the Pacific NW.

A certain boy wizard

Dear Blog,

I regret to inform you that there are NO cinemas in Scotland giving a midnight showing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceNone. The earliest I can see it is 10:00 AM tomorrow and that’s even going to another town. Now, I have done the maths and have realized that every American fortunate enough to go to a midnight showing of HP6 will see the movie before any of us in Scotland get to. Yes. Even those of you on the west coast. (Midnight in California is 8:00 AM here. Seriously.)

So it is my request that if you do see it at midnight, please keep your Scottish brethren in mind if you are going to post about it immediately upon returning home. Please do not write me about it until after 6:00 AM Central Standard Time. I know, I’ve read the book several times, but it’s actually been a while since I’ve been in the Harry Potter universe and I don’t want anything to be spoiled. Thanks!

All best,

The Author

Crazy talk

Bullet points, because I haven’t used them in a while:

  • I actually started writing my dissertation this week. I’ve discovered that this time around it helps to write it out drafty thoughts in green ink in my Moleskine—a good thing, because I have only (only!) used 60 pages of the 240 thus far. Anyhow, I have approximately 13,000 words left to write, if we are to follow the 10-percent rule.
  • I’ve spent way too much time editing my Amazon wishlists. This evening I culled and prioritized the Non-Fiction list. Yes, the top items deal with science and political philosophy. I want to read them now and it is an effort of will to wait until 2010 when I can officially begin Orion research. Well, not too much effort: I have so much else to read before then.
  • I probably spend more time thinking about fiction than my thesis. This may be to my detriment. I hope it isn’t. I’m already planning for NaNoWriMo, trying to decide if I can write a short story before then, and, of course, trying to calm the overexcited children that are the Orion characters. Boy are they starved for attention. “No, Anna, I can’t read saints’ lives yet, I have to get the government down first,” “No Peter, I really don’t think I need to read about rocket engines,” “No, Andrew, I’m not going to invent your entire language.” Geez! Don’t even get me started on Jenai. You guys only think I’m being an overachiever perfectionist crazy renaissance woman, but really I’m just trying to keep the crew of Artemis at bay. Seriously. Because that’s not crazy talk at all.
    • Listening to the TGN soundtrack does not help. Especially not “The General” by Dispatch.

And that’s it really. Images dance into my head and I write them down and eventually it’ll be something worth looking at.