raven: (misc - we win)
I wrote this yesterday on a fast train out of London Euston that was at first a slow train out of London Euston, with the staff announcing that only one northbound track was open and it was the slow one, but they were going to be allowed to switch tracks soon - and then the train did it, and apparently sped up from thirty to nearly a hundred miles an hour in about half a minute. Mine are small pleasures.

(Ditto small pleasure: spotting my father getting off the train on the next platform just as the one I was on skimmed out. I must remember to ask if he saw me.)

So, I spent Saturday in Oxford, had a lovely unexpected dinner and ice-cream with [personal profile] gavagai and [personal profile] vkbar, and Lashings were on at the East Oxford Community Centre, unplugged and in fine form. This must be the fourth or fifth time I've seen one of their shows, and besides they used to rehearse in the front room of the house I was living in at one time, so on one level they are comfortably familiar to watch, and on another level any material they do that is new to me is especially sharp by contrast. Afterwards, they and their hangers-on staggered to Port Mahon and I got ridiculously drunk on gin. It was a good time.

I have been house-hunting since Sunday. Some observations:

1. It's thirty-five degrees and sunny in Ithaca. In Cambridge it has been ten degrees and horizontal rain; twenty-five degrees and choking humidity; crystalline sunset where you take your jumper off and put it back on four times in half an hour; dry, wet, cold, hot, grim, grey, intense with glare, repeat. I have found this mostly baffling.

2. Letting agencies the world over are vilely awful people. I had this insight in the shower the other day and have since felt the urge to share it with as many people as possible: letting agencies treat tenants rubbishly because tenants are not their clients. Landlords are their clients, tenants are the commodity they serve up, neatly packaged and homogenous. It's like Kelloggs being nice to branflakes, it's a category error.

3. ...and this would be why we got shuffled, rescheduled, and on one occasion entirely forgotten about by at least four different letting agencies. Shim and I kept on explaining, over and over, that no we do not live in the city, we are here from Oxford, we cannot do this time or that time we can do the time we specified a week ago, and still they kept at it. One agency forgot to tell us entirely that they'd let a property until we went there and called them and went, hi, where are you. It was frustrating.

4. Dear Google Maps: Cambridge, England. Not Cambridge, MA. Really. Really really. I guess the fourteen previous times I have made this correction have not stuck. (Especially infuriating when the address is something generic like X, Green Street, Cambridge, and it puts you somewhere near Harvard Yard and refuses to move.) That said, the smartphone has proven its worth on this trip - when the maps were working they worked very well, and so did bus timetables, looking up letting agency details, nearby public toilets when I was fed up, etc., etc. I keep thinking it is just going to store more and more of my preferences and eventually become smarter than me.

5. And after all of that, we did find a place! Fingers crossed it works out: it's pending referencing and whatnot, but the letting agent actually seems both nice and competent. They have been somewhat fazed by the fact I do not have a) a current employer or b) a current address, but progress has been made.

...so. Fingers crossed. It's a wee flat, mostly green, sparsely furnished with plenty of room for bookcases, and I will not jinx it by providing any more detail just yet, but it's a great weight lifted.

6. And Cambridge is beautiful. It really, really is. I keep being upset with it for not being Oxford, I s'pose. But the sun was shining, people were out on the streets wearing summer dresses and carrying parasols, it was all heartbreakingly picturesque. I saw a man, a small boy, and an even smaller dog fishing in the Cam; two friends carrying a straw hat and a chocolate cake; a woman wearing a jacket marked "Police Community Support Officer" and eating an ice lolly. The other night Shim and I crossed the river at Jesus Green after dark and saw fire-spinners on the other side, one with a staff with flames at each end, and the other hula-hooping a ring of torches. It was beautiful, reflecting into the surface of the water, and a little eerie in the evening heat.

So. So, we shall see. Much paperwork, much moving. Much slack-jawed peering at bed linens in John Lewis. But I feel good about it.
raven: (sapphire & steel - newspaper)
I'm in bed, dear flist. I have spent fourteen of the last twenty-four hours in it, and then there was a headache starting - where is the great literature surrounding headaches, answer, nowhere, they are such a profoundly unromantic affliction - and so here I am again, with my coffee and my freshly-painted nails and my determination to do nothing productive ever again.

Notes and queries:

1. It was a nicely low-key homecoming. The fastest Atlantic crossing I have ever made - five and a half hours on the outside, touching down in Shannon in a deserted rainy 6am, and onwards from there. The ground staff were lovely, getting me through immigration and to my connection with a mixture of efficiency and whatever the noun form of "lackadaiscal" is; I even had a few minutes to spare to have a very unenlightening conversation with a nice lady from the Irish Office of National Statistics. ("So, where was your last place of residence?" / "Er, New York, in the United States." / "So you're on an American passport?" / "Er, no, British." / "And how long have you been staying in Ireland?" / "...about twenty minutes.")

Today I have been food shopping. I bought a box of raspberries, a box of local blackberries, a Lancashire-grown cauliflower, two pints of milk, cereal, coffee, brown bread and Wensleydale cheese with bits of apricot in it. I didn't want to cry once. It was refreshing. That said, I look the wrong way when I cross the street. (I also don't hit light switches hard enough, any more. It's a thing, apparently.)

2. I also didn't notice until this morning that there was a thread for me on [personal profile] littlebutfierce's love meme! Thank you, lovely anons and named people! You're very sweet, and you've cheered me up thoroughly.

3. So, I'm lying in bed again, watching Sapphire & Steel and enjoying it rather a lot. (I'd never seen it; only, I've been rewatching Man From U.N.C.L.E a bit recently, and my dad watches NCIS, cue me exclaiming delightedly, "It's the cute Russian! Only he got old!", and thought I'd make up the set.) So, yes, Sapphire & Steel, and it's so delightfully creepy and kind of ridiculous and I really like it. Where is all the fucked-up telepathic Sapphire/Steel on the internet. Where is it. Also, how so creepy on what is clearly a budget of £12.50 per episode. Wow.

4. The other thing I am doing while lying in bed is writing, or trying to write. As predicted, my urge to write continuously did correlate with having no time at all to do it in; now I have time to finish the current story, I've been flumped horizontal watching Sapphire & Steel instead. I'm also going to catch up with Doctor Who today! Very excited about that episode y'all loved a few weeks back that I never saw. First, pirates, then that.

But speaking of writing, my dear [profile] tragic_mathematics is presiding over [community profile] fic_promptly this week and every one of her themes and example prompts so far may as well have been prefixed with "Iona, this one's for you". Today's theme is "quotidian", which I completely love as an idea (I wrote "In Service" a couple of years back entirely for that theme, but there've been lots that touch on it) and yesterday's was "documentation", and how much I love that has been well.... documented, aha, I am so funny, Iona shut up. But, yes, stories made entirely up of, I don't know, coffee shop receipts, notes, messages stuck to the fridge, whatever, I love those. If my brain were not so completely scraped out from the inside I would be writing the hell out of both sets of prompts. I may yet.

5. ...and finally. A quick housekeeping note. For those of you who had my 607 cellphone number - it is now deceased and no more, alas. I have returned to the UK mobile number ending in -8077 that a lot of you already have. Same number, but different phone - with some kicking and screaming, I have joined the brushed-metal revolution and have an iPhone, and so far I rather love it. What apps do I really, really need? (I don't really do games, but am open to persuasion.) So far I've got iBooks, and am slowly putting what feels like most of the AO3 on it; otherwise, I have a Twitter app and that's about it. Recommendations appreciated.

Mmm. Bed.


Feb. 2nd, 2011 06:40 pm
raven: Geoffrey Tennant making sweeping hand gesture; reflected in glass behind him (s&a - blue)

1. I am gloooooomy. I'm not sure why, but it might be all the battening down the hatches for a storm that proved strangely anti-climactic (the university closed from 2.30am to 11.15am, what the hell is that about), or it might be the sudden realisation that this is the longest winter of my entire life and it's only half over, or it might just be that snowstorms make you want to come home to someone. I hate long-distance relationships, I hate that apparently what makes me happy is heteronormative domesticity, blah blah you've heard it.

2. But I find it very cheering that no-one else seems to be very cheerful, either. The Siren is a comforting presence; she keeps telling me about the weather forecast in warmer places and when that fails explaining the plots of Desperate Housewives, also, a brief conversation with her and others the other day: "So, we're driving across campus at night, and it's dark and there's no one else in front or behind, and after a bit Iona says, totally calmly, 'My dear, you're driving on the left side of the road'. NEXT TIME FREAK OUT, OKAY."

I laughed and promised to.

(In further news of Epic Misery: I am reposting this from where I wrote it first because quite frankly it's a parable for our times:

Yesterday I was slightly miserable and I thought I would retreat to bed with a drink and write fanfic. I have two bottles of wine in my apartment, but they're decent wine and I don't want to open them just by myself. Aha, thought I, I will drink some of the Talisker whisky Shim brought with him when he visited. He brought two half-bottles, of which one is left. I pulled out the box, got out the bottle, and prised off the foil. Then I twisted out the stopper.

....it broke off in my hand. I tried to get the piece out of the neck of the bottle. It wouldn't come. I used tweezers. It didn't work. Then a needle. That didn't work either. Then I thought, whisky with bits of cork in it is better than no whisky at all, so I tried to push the cork into the bottle. It wouldn't go. Tweezers and the needle didn't help, either.

So now I have a half-bottle of ten-year-old Talisker whisky, and given how it got to me, it's possibly the most expensive drink per unit I will ever own, and it's sitting on the counter effectively undrinkable. HOW AM I SUCH AN IDIOT.)

3. [personal profile] gavagai is coming to visit me! Soon! Well, in about six weeks. But that is SOON! And I am looking forward to it so much, and we can be silly together and watch First Contact for the fortieth time and I can introduce to her my friends and we can eat at Moosewood and I really can't wait.

4. And after that, I am going to New Orleans! The law school's public service is down there this spring, so I am spending a week in March at the office of the public defender and did I mention, New Orleans. Warm weather! Good restaurants! And, oh, the ocean, the ocean. I am very excited about this, as well.

5. ...and so I feel bad about feeling gloomy. As usual, my life is full of bright things. But I do. I'm sure it will pass. (Downstairs' dog is howling at the moon, which is not really helping my mood. But still.) In the meantime I am eating sweets and watching Star Trek XI, and I have put my name on the love meme (SEE LEIGH I AM CAPABLE OF FOLLOWING BASIC INSTRUCTIONS sometimes), because I am shameless and gloomy and want love.
raven: cartoon image of bleary-looking woman with dark hair (nemi - sleeeeepy)
1. You know when someone does something so utterly kind for you that you're a little lost for words? I mentioned to the South African Siren that I was having trouble in my flat - my upstairs neighbours keep on making noise until three am, work has collided with excessive sleep disorder so the place is a tip but I don't have the time and energy to tidy and it makes me feel anxious just looking at it, etc., etc. She said, I have a spare room, I'll come and pick you up. She has installed me on a comfy bed, enough room for all my things, peace and quiet, wireless internet, and instructions to just do my thing and sleep as late as I want. I am working on next week's conflicts and feeling. Well, at ease. it's a blessing.

2. Today is a day of birthdays! It's [personal profile] brightlywoven's birthday, and I had a kind of melancholy about not being home for it, which lightened somewhat when I got a Skype-window into the party when I was sitting in the library earlier, reading about conflicts for next week. And, you know what, Skype is time-travel - at any rate I was sitting in the shadowed law school, at the top of the atrium with frantic 1Ls running around below murmuring about civil procedure, and it was all muted, seven o'clock in the evening, and in the window there were drunk people waving pink cocktails and playing the ukelele telling me they loved me, because for them it was midnight and they already knew that today ends well.

So I went back into the law school and felt horribly homesick for a little while (there's a reason, I think, why homesickness is an emotion with its own name that isn't just sadness or whatever - it's that way it's this horrible inconsolable grief that is actually also quite, quite trivial, brought on and off by scents and letters and not being able to tell nickels and quarters apart) and worked on conflicts and mostly wished I were at home. And then I went out into the night and had a very nice dinner for [personal profile] thingswithwings' birthday, and drank white wine and made silly jokes, and now it's past midnight and today ends well.

3. Just one week left, now. I have written first drafts of both of my research papers and in so doing, have realised a fundamental truth about myself: I don't do first drafts. All these years I have been mildly worried about other people talking about first drafts, or even rubbish first drafts, and I'm like... well, I always hand in my first drafts, what's wrong with me. It took until yesterday for me to realise I edit as I go along. I write and re-write paragraphs as I go, I occasionally pause and pull what I've got so far into shape. Two papers down, now the two exams. I have so far resisted making this a post about Why I Love Conflicts of Law. Be grateful.

4. Speaking of writing, I have two ficlets up from yesterday - 12/24 (Sports Night, Natalie and Dana, for [livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay) and Grace (Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Mordecai Roberts, for [livejournal.com profile] highfantastical), and am intending to get to the others.

One week, one week.

4. And lastly, the query part. Does anyone reading happen to speak Arabic, enough to translate a couple of sentences for me? I'm not sure I trust Google Translate. It's for a fic, as usual. Many thanks.
raven: Geoffrey Tennant with his head in his hands (s&a - siiiiiiiiigh)
I keep writing scraps of things to post and then not posting them. Notes and queries:

1. It is now about ten days until I go home. I am still two exams and one 5000-word paper short of actually departing the country. I am also (probably) nursing the beginnings of a bad cold which is all my own fault, but, ouch. guess what I can't sleep )

On a slightly lighter note, my psychiatrist's name is Dr. McKenzie. In light of the SG-1 rewatch, I am finding this small fact impossibly entertaining.

(2. Also in light of the SG-1 rewatch, a random thought that occurred to me. You know what the internet needs? The internet needs fic about Claire Ballard. She's the definition of a minor character, yes, but consider the one detail we do know about her: she was a field archaeologist, publishing, working on digs, generally being awesome, with a very young child in tow, in 1965. Why has no one written omg-women-are-awesome fic about her? Why does the whole internet not cater to my whims?)

3. Exams start tomorrow (not for me, thankfully), and the law school is an interestingly fraught place to be at the moment. I thought I was immune thus far, and then I found myself getting obscenly, irrationally furious that one of the precious library carrels was being taken up by someone who wasn't a law student. (The law library is airy and beautiful and technically a public library, so it does get undergrads and people from other schools studying in it. But, you know, law school finals, tomorrow, be fair.)

"How'd you know they weren't a law student taking an outside class?" asked Shim later.

"Because," I said, through gritted teeth, "they were reading an LSAT prep book."

I stomped off downstairs to get some coffee and find somewhere else to study, and when I came out bearing a mug of awful vending machine coffee Tobermory yelled at me, poured it down the sink and got me real coffee from CTB. I think it's people's kindness that keeps me afloat. (Though I'm not doing reverb10, a lot of my friends are and I've been watching the prompts, and today's question asked about what kinds of community you've been part of in 2010. I wouldn't ever have believed it a few months ago, especially given previous experience, but the law school is a community, and one I'm happy to be part of: it's left-leaning, vaguely elitist, far from perfect, but has a quality of shared endeavour.)

4.. That, and birthday cake left over from a party I went to at the weekend (got drunk on pink champagne, I am so cool) and also "Little Wings" by Kris Delmhorst, which I've had on repeat the last couple of days. (artist's free download at link, try it, it's great).

5. It is cold like breaking. Have I mentioned that, recently? It is cold enough that you expect the air to shatter. Over the weekend I piled into a car with [personal profile] thingswithwings, [personal profile] eruthros and [personal profile] livrelibre and we went on a trip around the lake wine-tasting. (Which was fun! There were interesting whites and rieslings, rosés and sparkling wines, but the highlight was definitely a spirit tasting at the north end of the lake, where we were given honey vodka, mead and maple syrup liqueur by a kind chap with a tendency to dreadful puns. Maple syrup liqueur. I didn't buy any because it would be dangerous to have in the house.) My point is by the time we were driving back at the close of the day, I said something about how you could take a picture and caption it "desolation, a study" - the snow flurrying, the frosty intensity in the lake, the landscape just losing all depth, hazing into grey and white and back again. I'd never seen bleakness like it; I'd never seen anywhere with quite so much nowhere to go around. I mean, it has its own beauty, but it's not a simple kind.

In short: it's very cold. Hi.

6. I have vids stuck in my head. The constructed reality vid, but also apparently the internet hasn't any Sam-Carter-is-awesome vid to satisfy me, and now I keep.... pondering. T'wings assures me that vidding is not as scary as I think it is, but nevertheless, nevertheless I am skeered, because it is not like writing. Writing is... okay, for whatever reason, I don't have any issues about writing. It's something that happens. I feel like If I took up vidding, I would have to.... make things happen.

I am aware this makes no sense.

7. And now it's 1.30am, and I can't sleep and my meds aren't working, so I am putting bluebook citations in my attainder paper and moping. One week and four days until I go home.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
Hi, I had a lovely dinner and evening out, and [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne has great hair, but now I need to WORK.

So this is not a real entry. I note, merely, that spring has sprung. The air has this lovely softness in it, and yesterday I went for a walk around the neighbourhood and saw people in shirt sleeves, people jogging, a woman in a beautifully red niqab taking her small child for an ice-cream. And later, when it rained, it was because the air was thick with humidity and the falling temperature led to condensation, and it all smelled of freshness and good things.

(My first attempt at it was "neighborhood". Perhaps it is a word you mostly see in American contexts.)

God, so sleepy. Links:

-[livejournal.com profile] lgbtfest is open for prompt submission for, I think, their third round. This is one of my favourites of the minor ficathons; in their words, it's a fest for fanfic that focuses on the experience of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Notably, this is not relationship based, it's based on lived experience. On the whole I come to it as an ally, rather than as a queer person, but that doesn't mean I can't wave my pointy stick and say you should all go and submit prompts.

-This is why being a lawyer is a noble profession; or, exactly why the people behind the Digital Economy Bill should go and screw themselves. (Via [livejournal.com profile] auntysarah.)

Yes, only two links, I am going to make some coffee and contemplate why I AM ALWAYS TAKING EXAMS. Three days before it's over, a week until far-flung travel, deep breaths, etc., etc...
raven: Kira wearing a green tunic against a blue background (ds9 - kira in green)
This is going to be a long post. Have some music first. Karine Polwart, whom I discovered recently via [livejournal.com profile] icepixie, has a very lovely voice, and occasionally quite unsettling lyrics: Resolution Road, What Are You Waiting For?.

The good:

-Life continues apace. I am coming up on a strange time; during March, I have no classes Monday to Friday, but exams every Saturday, and a few in the middle - skills-based whatnot, advocacy and other things - which is not at all what I'm used to but perversely I'm sort of looking forward to it. I'm having trouble getting up in the morning these days, so study leave when I can work at 2am if I want to will go down well, and, well, I got my mocks back, most of them, and I'm pleased. They are a scraped commendation (59.5 - civil lit), a proper commendation (business law) and, surprise of all surprises, the exam I didn't prepare for at all - snow and going-to-India conspiring between them - the property exam, I got a highly unexpected high distinction. I feel good about it - like I might do well, not only in my exams, but in practice.

-Property law, yes. I have sudden fears, these days, that I might be a land lawyer when I grow up. I haven't met anyone else who likes it as much as I do, but people must, surely, because there are land lawyers in the world? It's so... I don't know, I don't think any law is tangible but English land law is as close as you can get to it; there's so much history in it, so much tradition, so many things you say, as though reciting chants to hold back your gods - say, "bona fide purchaser for value"[1] twice fast before breakfast; say "freehold interest subject to compulsory first registration", and something happens by magic. But nevertheless it's elegant, internally consistent, intellectually satisfying, and I was worried my liking for land law wouldn't translate to a liking for property practice, but so far so decidedly hoopy.

Anyway. Land law, a good thing in my life. Everyone should have hobbies.

-Deep Space Nine s5 and s6 )

-Something different. There's a man in my class at school, whose initial is not F. Yesterday morning I had a great deal of trouble getting out of bed, and I was cranky when I turned up for criminal litigation, and while I was crankily working through my stack of witness statements, F. was at the next table and he was talking about gay and lesbian people. F. is a devout Christian, which is one thing, and a literalist when it comes to Leviticus, which is quite another; after about ten minutes of listening to him talking about homosexuality being evil, wrong, and a sickness (and, to their credit, the people around him not arguing, but basically trying to shush him), I spoke up and, you know how you have an image of yourself in your head? Someone who is a proud liberal and a proud activist, who says what she thinks and gets her points across with elegant, economical sang-froid?

Yeah, it wasn't like that. I tried not to get upset and told him that I came to my class for purposes of criminal litigation, and there, then, should not have to listen to those things, quite apart from any discussion we might have outside of class. He said he'd got a right to state his opinion, I said not if it upset me in my crim lit class, the tutor returned at that point, case closed for the moment.

Today, I was checking my email during the break when F. came and asked for a word. Okay, I said, warily, what is it.

He said he was sorry. That he'd had no right to speak like that, and he was sorry if what he had said had upset me, and that his views were one thing but he didn't have any right to impose them on me, especially as it was something I found upsetting. He hoped I would forgive him but if not at least I'd know he was sorry.

Bless the man, really.

The bad:

-I am finding it very hard to get up in the mornings, lately. I note this merely for the record at the moment, with the additional note that it's February, I have had two bursts of culture shock in the recent past, and I have exams and academic stress at a greater than normal degree for the time of year. I am going to buy myself a wake-up lamp, and sleep in a little more than I strictly ought.

The ugly indifferent different:

-One of Shim's stranger talents is being able to declaim Kipling to suit all occasions. I have read him, not to the same degree, and while I like his writing, a lot, my thoughts are partly complicated and partly tread the usual aesthetic path of whether I ought to find value in his work, when I know what his views were. The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories aren't, shall we say, entirely representative.

I've started reading him again recently, because I was in India, and it seemed appropriate, and on the whole, I think I would rather read him than not, even if his flashes of racism and his glorification of empire are occasional bad tastes among the good. This is nowhere more evident than in O Beloved Kids, a collection of his letters to his young children, which are full of joys and wordplay and little pen-and-ink drawings and the word "nigger". But I keep reading it, and finding joy in it. I don't know. It was an old moral problem a long time ago, and one of the things I find joy in is how much he loved India, how much that love suffuses every line he wrote about the place, and should you take joy in that, or worry that the India he loved rightfully ceased to exist sixty years ago? I don't know, I don't know. I wish there was at least a starting place with these things - if, for example, the introduction to the letters had not been half-heartedly apologist, but had said outright, Kipling was a racist of his time and a little in his own special way, and this was bad, this was wrong and hurtful, and he was also a Nobel laureate for literature and his writing is full of joy and beauty, and this is good, and the mixture is uneasy but here it is.

I stun myself with my lack of profundity. I shall go and tackle leasehold interests.

[1] Who is also known, in quite formal settings, as "equity's darling", a phrase which delights me unduly.
raven: (misc - winter)
1.[livejournal.com profile] yuletide is OFF TO BETA. About 5000 words, quite different from what I expected, and I had last minute oh-god-this-is-awful angst which was ameliorated a bit by an ending that I quite like, but never mind all of that, it is DONE.

(Flist who are wise, how are the treats working this year? Am I right in thinking I'm too early to pick any up? Where are they going to be posted?)

2. Snow! I am safely in Edinburgh and feeling a lot better about life than I did yesterday, by virtue of my first full night's sleep in weeks, layers of snow on the ground and nowhere I have to be and nothing I have to do. Oh, god, sleep is so great, I'd forgotten what the world through the non-sleep-deprived lens even looks like. And the snow is just stupidly, epically beautiful, reflecting back all the slim daylight so everything looks a little crystalline, a little transcendescent - I saw a Border collie earlier, playing in the snow, and its fur looked positively drab and yellow against all that white - and the hills are blurred out like smeared paint. It's lovely.

3. I am enjoying AO3. I am just now trying to upload my very first (non-yuletide) story to the archive, and have picked, somewhat arbitrarily, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, a Remus/Tonks story from a few years ago that I'm still rather fond of, and so far I like the interface, it makes sense. We shall see what I think of it when I've actually uploaded everything I want up there.

(It made me sad that "Raven", as a username, was taken. That is, however, entirely my own fault for writing under Baby's First, Not At All Mary-Sueish Pseud for at least eight years longer than I ought.)

4. I am very definitely on holiday now, at least for the next couple of days, so I hold out some hope for getting them done this time: if you want a quick ficlet, comment with fandom and characters and some sort of prompt. (Drabbles and five-things-that-never-happened a speciality. Reasonable rates.)

5. And finally, one last bit of Christmas music that I uploaded for [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma: Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24). I really like it - and if you've seen "Noel", that episode of The West Wing, it's that bit of music.

And that is all.
raven: image of white Macbook computer with raven perching on it (misc - raven writes)
Mostly, today has been Novemberish. Notes and queries:

1. It's November 5th, and I am slightly wistful on this account; I am very tempted to buy sparklers and run around writing rude words in the air, but possibly this would like slightly silly just on my own. I do have a proper bonfire and fireworks to go to at the weekend, but waaah, don't want to sit in on my own tonight, want fireworks. Also a pony and a job, shut up self. I really ought to get down to work in a moment.

2. Signing up for [livejournal.com profile] yuletide from SCHOOL! That was a genius idea. And then I could sign up in Firefox 3.5 and not break all my add-ons.

Of course, it would have been more of a genius idea had I not a) not thought of it, and broken all my add-ons; and b) buggered up my sign-up twice running anyway. It's not like I'm offering thirty fandoms or something, I'm offering five and this year they come with handy tickboxes. Sigh.

(One thing that always makes me surprisingly happy is that according to the participants list, I am the only person in these parts of fandom writing under "Raven" or a variant, despite ff.net having appended "25" to mine when they outlawed non-unique usernames. It sounds silly, but I have written approximately 300,000 words of fanfiction over eight years under that name, and it's important to me now.)[1]

3. Sitting up on Headington Hill while drafting Baby's First Deed of Transfer, I had a very good view of the sunset. I reckon it was too dark to read outside by 4.10pm. Am I the only person who forgets, every year, that this happens? That it's not something you read about in books, it actually is only going to be light for six hours and you're going to spend all of those in school. It was a depressing realisation when there is still almost six months of winter to go. To be fair there are things about winter I love - sharp cold, woodsmoke, the sense of things coming - there is still an aura of decrepit Novemberishness about the place today.

4. On a slightly sillier note, Google have discovered a town that isn't there. On the whole, I think towns that aren't there are very interesting. Pripyiat is a town in Ukraine that isn't there, and Centralia is a town in Pennsylvania that isn't. They are both fascinating places.

However, [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col and I have driven through that field. Mostly, we have driven through it at seventy miles an hour singing. The not-thereness of the place can hardly be over-emphasised. I am vaguely impresed.

5. Other interesting thing from today's news: increasing numbers of people who aren't vegetarian, but eat very little meat. The article isn't very profound, but I have always wondered why this is never talked about - talk about vegetarianism in the media always seems to be framed by this odd (possibly Western?) model that people who eat meat are carnivores and people who don't are vegetarians, and there is no continuum between the two, and no complex reasons for why people eat what they eat, or anything.

There is no number six. I need coffee, and I need sleep, but I only get to have one of those. Into the breach again, I s'pose.

[1] Admittedly I do exclude the possibility that the name is not used because I have taken it.
raven: black and white; Tenth Doctor on a bed, looking up at Martha (doctor who - in bed together)
Having got me successfully through everything it had to get me through, my body has given up on walking around and now I just want to lie down and flop. Forever. With two bags of sweets within reach, and maybe also the complete works of Lois McMaster Bujold. Some assorted notes and queries:

1. Firstly, and most importantly, Professor Jerry Cohen is dead. My reaction to this has mostly been "but but but he was IMMORTAL but". While I wasn't lucky enough to be taught by him, I have read most of what he's written - and I recommend his writing to everyone, actually, not just students of political philosophy. The title of one of his best-known works is If You're An Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?, which says it all in just its title, doesn't it? He writes - well, he wrote - about difficult things, about orthodox Marxism, about his particular brand of egalitarianism, and makes a significant critique of Rawls' theory of justice (one which, it is worth noting, is easily used as the base for an explicitly feminist critique), but he does it incredibly well - clearly, engagingly, the sort of way I wish everyone who writes about difficult things would write.

And even though I was never taught by him, I did... er... encounter him on occasion. Wherever he is now, I'm sure he's raising orthodox Marxist hell.

2. In other news entirely, I wish to make a point about Rachel McAdams. [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong showed me the trailer for Sherlock Holmes - which, is, oh god, looks terrible, crash-bang-wallop homoeroticism I cannot wait - but, I could not help noticing, has Rachel McAdams in it playing Irene Adler. She - McAdams, I mean - is also in The Time Traveler's Wife, which, like the other, is a film that people will have heard of. (I have no idea what it will be like, probably bad, but I suspect I will have to see it anyway.)

Anyway. Yes. Rachel McAdams is in films that are released all over the world that people have heard of, and stuff. Isn't she supposed to be a minor character in that Canadian indie thing only my friends and I watch...? Yeah. I just wanted this down for the record.

3. Yes, these points aren't supposed to be related in any way. Flist, speak to me of Diana Gabaldon. I know some of you have read/are reading her - [livejournal.com profile] nos4a2no9, [livejournal.com profile] thistlerose? - and I'm interested to know what you think. After spending a week in London without a lot to do in the evenings, I have read two and a half of her Lord John books, which are, sort of, historical detective-thriller-adventure things set in the 1750s. Which do, yes, sound like the sort of thing I'd hate (they exist in the same universe as the author's "real" series, a series of historical romances with time-travel and Jacobite rebellions and whatnot, none of which I have been able to get into). But they are witty, engaging, and just likeable, and also the protagonist, Lord John Grey, is that rarest of beasts, a fictional character who is gay, perfectly happy about being gay, and who pursues adventures with gentlemen in and around solving the mystery of the moment. I'm not explaining these very well, but they're good. Very, very good, in this delightfully light and loopy way. The books are: Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and Lord John and the Hand of Devils (short story collection; don't start with this one). Consider this a rec.

(If they were fanfiction, though, I'd warn for: this )

4. Meme! Nabbed from [livejournal.com profile] emerald_embers most recently, but from all of you.

Ask me my fannish Top Five [Whatevers]. Any top fives. Doesn't matter what, really! And I will answer them all in a new post. Possibly with pictures. Ask multiple questions. I'll do it.

That's it. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray is plotting a Wikipedia article that he has been threatening to write for some time ("Elephants in Scotland"), and I am curled in a chair and attempting not to fall asleep. It's quiet, and it's nice, and it's very good to be together again.
raven: TOS McCoy and Kirk frowning, text: "Well that's just maddeningly unhelpful" (st - MADDENINGLY UNHELPFUL)
Today's notes and queries. First of all, I have lost my phone, because I am an idiot. I lost it somewhere on Friday afternoon, panicked, panicked some more, realised, that, well, you know what don't exist any more? Pay phones. If I hadn't unexpectedly run straight into [livejournal.com profile] shimgray in Balliol lodge, I might have cried on the porters; as it was, I was very stoic (really), and ran around the city like a crazy person, and finally gave it up in time for a small baby dinner party that we were supposed to be having, and did have, complete with nine bottles of whisky and a vat of greenstuff risotto (recipe courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt; it was very nice indeed). [livejournal.com profile] luminometrice arrived fresh from her Kobayashi Maru[1] noting that she was supposed to have examined a man in a brest suit, and she was mentally prepared for a man in a breast suit, and talking to a headless torso with breasts had been very disconcerting.

(I was admitted to medical school, you know. There is a well-respected medical school in England who actually thought that I would have made a not entirely-awful doctor. Looking back, I am more astonished than ever.)

[livejournal.com profile] magic_doors also came to drink whisky, and [livejournal.com profile] dr_biscuit, and it was a very lovely evening, full of drink. I had wine, mostly, and fell asleep in a heap on top of Shim at some unrespectable hour. It was kind of marvellous; I forget what we talked about, but I'm sure Star Trek was involved.

My phone has now turned up again, thank goodness - I rang up the Brookes lost and found, who were delightfully... dizzy. To be absolutely sure it was mine, I suggested, maybe they should look to see what number was listed under "Home". "That's a good idea," said the woman, "but I've never used a mobile phone."

Nothing daunted, she flagged down a passing undergraduate ("You! Whatever your name is! Get over here!") and got him to read out my own phone number to me. So I am still incommunicado until the weekend, but will eventually be back in the land of the communicable. In the meantime email is best.

2. [livejournal.com profile] remixredux09 assignments have gone out. I'm not doing a letter to my remixer, because to be honest, I don't really understand them - the fic my remixer writes (hi, if you're reading) isn't for me, it's for her. It's not a gift exchange, after all.

(That said, my remixee is a much better writer than me. Ouch. Also, all her stories are horribly taut and self-contained and right and good are they are. I despair of myself.)

3. Another heads-up - Trek Novel Fest of Awesome over on Dreamwidth. I just ordered Spock's World off Amazon yesterday, I am sold. Seriously, though, it looks great; I love the TOS novels because they're so... well, good. Gentle, and nuances, and full of love for the characters. There's lots that could be done with them in the reboot universe.

4. [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong sent me Vulcan ears! More than that, ethnically appropriate Vulcan ears! But being a bit fail, I cannot get them on my own ears. When I have solved this problem there may be pictures. Possibly I am just not logical enough.

5. The Scotty 'n' McCoy Travellin' Show is at 6000 words. Oh, dear.

[1] Differing only from the real Kobayashi Maru in that she passed it.


Mar. 30th, 2009 02:57 pm
raven: (misc - liberal)
It's really nice to be home. I didn't have the quietest of weekends, really; I was at Amicus training again on Saturday, and that was kind of sort of exhausting. Practical, not theory, so lots of running around with my hands in my pockets trying to make myself as good an investigator as possible, i.e., not very good. The funny thing is, I find, is that the other side of the law - the private sector side, the type of law done by the large impressive firms with the large impressive training contracts - is so... sleek, so glossy, so very talkative. You have to get in the habit of talking and dressing sharply. It's wearing. Whereas, for this sort of thing, you dress, talk and think forgettable. Clean jeans and brushed hair, a notepad any colour but yellow, and you sit and you listen. Your client is on trial for his life, but... well, right now he's not going anywhere. I really enjoyed the change. That said, I don't know if I could really do this work: do it for real with real people and be all things to them, a good lawyer, but a good listener and someone who can get people to tell me, not the right things, but the real things.

That bothers me about law as I see it, here - it's all telling you what you want to hear. I tell interviewers what they want to hear, they tell me what they think I should hear, and none of it bears any resemblance to reality. That might be a problem endemic in the law itself - it's interesting, of course, that the Law, this great amorphous thing I spend every waking hour on these days, isn't a thing about how things are, but it's something that people do. We've written about it so much that we've made it exist. And there's no doubt that electric chairs do exist. That's a real sense you get, actually: that the judicial system induces this twilight state, so people taken away to spend forty years in prison are still thinking, where am I, what's going on, there's been some mistake, this isn't real.

The saddest part was the bit on Atkins v Virginia, a 2002 case where the Supreme Court established that it is unconstitutional to execute someone with "mental retardation", undefined. I find it horrifying that this is actually a point at issue, but there you are. Lots of people have been executed who have had the mental age of nine-year-olds. And it's still perfectly possible to execute someone with the mental age of an eleven-year-old, or a nine-year-old on a good day. It puts investigators in the awful position of going to see the person's community, their their teachers and their elderly mother, and ask things like, was he a bit slow? Was he incapable of washing himself, and will you talk about it on a stand in front of hundreds of strangers?

Yeah. It's not good for your view on humanity, this sort of thing. On Saturday night I went out gloomily and was cheered by a nice dinner in Soho with [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne and [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong and [livejournal.com profile] deathbyshinies and [livejournal.com profile] liminreid, which was cheering but, as I said, I couldn't go dancing afterwards because the Sunday the clocks go forward was the one Sunday in the year I had to be up at seven am. And go to another day of lectures and workshops and try interviewing people myself, which I have to say I did spectacularly not well at all, and then run across the city to get a train up north, which was eerily quiet, and lacking in announcements and indeed people, and didn't stop, and gave me this muted feeling that I might be on the Caldonian Sleeper or the first train into the Twilight Zone.

That said, I did wake up at seven this morning, have a momentary panic as to where I was, realise that a) it was my own bed and b) the alarm clock belonged to someone else, and roll over and go back to sleep. I shall have to be careful. I am NOT ON HOLIDAY. This cannot be emphasised enough. Not on holiday. Yes.

...and here I am, feeling a little like an unspoken sentence. Notes and queries:

-[livejournal.com profile] deathbyshinies has started a Secret Histories Project. As she puts it, it is a blog devoted to "little random tidbits of historical fact that make you sit up and go 'BLOODY HELL, WHY DID NOBODY EVER TELL ME ABOUT THAT!'" (Examples already mentioned: Alan Turing's homosexuality; the fact there were South Asian people living in Britain before 1700 (I was never told this at school); Helen Keller's socialist and feminist activism.) Definitely worth looking at.

-A brief unrelated rant, also. Why is there a sudden resurgence, recently, of the "it's only natural" argument? I keep seeing this: polamory is natural, wanting to have children is natural. I really thought that the blogosphere had finally got over this one, but apparently not. Okay, internets. Saying something is "natural" is an argumentative faux-pas of the worst order. Because, to begin with, you're implying that polyamory or childbearing or whatever are worthy of respect only because they are some inalienable feature about how people are. You're devaluaing people's choices pertaining to either of those things. Sure, childbearing is natural. So is living in trees, so is killing people who don't agree with you. Natural does not equate to good, and for good reason. People choose to have kids - it's the choice that's worthy of preservation and respect, not the entirely fallacious biological imperative behind the choice.

And as for polyamory being "natural" - maybe it is natural for people to want multiple relationships, I don't know, and maybe monogamy is a stifling yoke upon the natural impetus of society blah blah whatever (I remain to be convinced of that last one, I must say). But it's worthy of respect, surely, whatever its provenance? It's worthy of respect if it's the way people have always lived or if it was invented out of whole cloth by L. Ron Hubbard in 1971. I'm just boggled that people still think this is a smart tack to take. I suppose it's the gay-gene for the twenty-first century. My god it's hard to be a liberal.

Okay, I'm going to stop yelling now. To finish: the clocks went forward and I was very upset. There is now more light in the evenings, and I am less upset. Thus, I leave you with the Spring Arrangements Bill. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray can recite it on command. This fills me with joy.
raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
I just had a long and decadent bath, but now I can't stand up. Life, she is hard.

Some notes and queries, before I drag myself to bed:

1. Life lesson for the day. When you decide to use up about-to-go-off milk by making it into custard, using a measuring jug for the purpose, you know what you should do? You should wash out the measuring jug very thoroughly first. You should especially do this when the last thing the jug was used for was making vegetable stock. Mmm, delicately spiced custard.

2. Also, when you have less-than-stellar mental health, you should fill up every weekend so you're busy every calendar day for two months. Actually, yes, you should do this. I am currently too busy to draw breath, but, well, that's not so bad, I think. I need to get more sleep, though, or at least ride out the current bout of insomnia. One of these days I really must make a proper post about Life As An Insomniac, It Sucks, because, well, it does, and it continues to irritate me how people who do not have chronic sleep disorders seem to often think that Glasses of Warm Milk and A Regular Routine and, most nauseating, Maintaining Good Sleep Hygiene is all us deviants need before we're snoring in the rank and file.

(I mean, seriously. I've been sleeping badly for in excess of two decades now. If one of those things was going to work, it would've have worked by now. But I digress.)

3. [livejournal.com profile] lgbtfest is asking for prompts again! This time, I plan to participate. You guys should too, it's kind of awesome.

4. Regina Spektor - Braille. I can't stop listening to this right now.

5. And finally, and the real point of this post: tomorrow, [livejournal.com profile] shimgray and I skip off to London and trespass on [livejournal.com profile] apotropaios' hospitality, and on Saturday morning, bright and early, we're going to Paris! For adventure and excitement and really wild things! Or maybe sitting in cafés drinking good coffee and watching the world drift by. It is cool. To all a good weekend, shall be around on the flipside.
raven: image of white Macbook computer with raven perching on it (misc - raven writes)
1. The definition of a valuable consideration, from Curie v Misa (1875), is: "either a right, interest, benefit or profit accruing to one party; or a forebearance, detriment, loss or responsibiity given, suffered or undertaken by the other."

No, shut up, I do not care that you thought that was boring, because I have spent the last two days of my life committing it to memory. It and a whole lot of other things, of course, but it remains the most impressive thing that I actually know.

The whole galaxy of things, however, that I do not know, remains a major source of gravity. As I keep telling people at great and aggrieved length, I took Oxford Finals six months ago, there is something deeply unfair in a universe that has me doing exams again six months later. And yes, I know these are not the same, but Finals remain a sterling example of the principle that you can work your body and mind into half-insanity for three months and still fuck it up. Which inclines me to the new and equally general principle that whatever you do, academic life sucks, and in its yet more general formulation, woman is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.

(Seriously, why am I doing postgrad? I'm congenitally lazy (c.f a life-long passion for baths, and writing stories about other people's characters so I never have to do my own worldbuilding) and intellectually sharp as a rubber band. I love law, but I'm continuously wondering, these days, why I persist in the unnatural delusion that "love" and "am any good at" are somehow co-referential.)

Part of this mood of sweetness and light is perhaps brought on by the fact I am right in the middle of 2009's first bout of insomnia. I'm not sure why, either. I just sort of levitate over a pillow and hate the night. I think I ought to use the time to try and sit and remember cases - for example, Pinnel's Case [1602] - in which one may not suggest to one's creditor that one will pay less than owed unless one offers something to support the promise, be it a "horse, a hawk or a robe" - but thinking about cases leads to thinking about writing about cases which leads to thinking about writing cases in exams which leads to difficulty breathing through one's nose.

It isn't even the productive kind of insomnia, either; not the kind where I beaver away cheerfully and wait for the dawn. This is more the stalking-the-Serengeti type, prowling around the house irritably looking for lions, or something, anyway, all wound up with nervous energy until it snaps into unconsciousness at some unearthly hour of the morning. At which point I dream, about death, usually, and wake up in a bright and obnoxious mood in the middle of the afternoon. I also wonder, at this stage, if my whatever-it-is sleep disorder could actually be diagnosed (after twenty-two years, it may be time to convince my mother than no, I'm not going to grow out of it): I mean, it consists of occasional insomnia, occasional hypersomnia, bruxism, very infrequent sleepwalking, violent nightmares and once asleep, being almost impossible to wake. In short, I never quite got the whole sleeping-through-the-night thing that most people have nailed by the age of six months or so. I have no conclusion to draw, really. Maybe I should enlist a loved one with a frying pan.

...there was supposed to be a second point, wasn't there? Here it is.

2. I have decided, therefore, that I now wish to write romance novels for a living. So there.
raven: panel from PhD comics, woman with speech bubble: "Wait a minute... I'm the only female in this class!" (misc - ppe)
So, internets, what have I done today? Mostly... failed. Yeah, failed. But I'm surprisingly cheery for someone who's been ridin' the failroad all the live-long day. Stuff and things:

-Woolworths has gone into administration. I mean... seriously. Woolies. I appreciate I live in one of the few English cities without one, but there is at least one in Temple Cowley. Where do I get my pick 'n' mix now? I am a grown-up! I demand sweeties!

...yeah. Although it pleases me to learn that the one I remember from early childhood, where, one might say, a lifelong passion was formed, was in fact the first Woolworths in this country, having opened in 1909.

-The cat has exploding diarrhoea. Hurrah. Well, she doesn't any more, but the last couple of days have been... traumatic. "Poo on the walls!" wailed [livejournal.com profile] chiasmata, who is a saint. I fully intend to bathe the horrible creature tomorrow; she smells, and has got into the habit of stuffing her little face into my bowls of chocolate cake/breakfast cereal/unripe mango.

(We are currently consoling ourselves, every time the cat does something horrific, with the thought that her tiny furry testicles will be chopped off soon. Some of the men of our acquaintance have expressed concern at the sheer amount of glee to be found inherent in this fact.)

(Also, the end is nigh: the cat has learned to use a computer. At any rate, I left my open laptop in my room, only to return to find [livejournal.com profile] shimgray maintaining a conversation with her over Google Talk. Well, I say conversation; his side of it was "HELLO CAT", and hers, "09?"\'olpp--------------".)

-I own a corset. I'm not sure exactly why this is. It is purple and velvety black, laces up at the front, has lace and trimmings, and I totally don't have the breasts for it, and I love it. I mean... yeah. I don't know why, but I've been in the sort of mood to get dressed up and go dancing. I may have to wait until the next Intrusion (for the initiated, this is Oxford's monthly goth night - because goths only need to socialise once a month) before I can deck self up in corset and glitter and ludicrous amounts of eyeliner, but still.

-I am trying to write some notes about duress and necessity defences in the criminal law, but I keep finding myself looking at the open window of, er, Merlin fic. (Fic! I am writing fic! Should I be happy or incredibly embarrassed!)

-My awful essay on EU preliminary rulings has come back and is, predictably, awful. This is mitigated somewhat by my tutor's style of softening the blow; he is apparently of the opinion that exclamation points make everything better. So: "Not a bad essay! Satisfactory citation! More case law required! Presentation needs improvement!"

...and so on. I am actually very fond of the man. The last class I went to was on free movement of people within the European Union, which in retrospect was a very bad idea. Naturally, this eventually fell into some white-privileged arse standing up and saying, "Those immigrants! They come here, steal our women, take our jobs!"

I paraphrase, but I'm sure you all know the type. So, he said that, and then there was a long pause, while everyon in the class tried very pointedly not to look at me, sitting there quietly being brown, and then tried very pointedly not to look at the Amazing Greek Dude tutor, who is, er... Greek.

And then everyone looked very embarrassed. I had schadenfreude. It was good.

-My braaaaain! Is still a bit of a bugger, really. I've had some serious dips in my mental health this week, and also am beginning to quantify the side-effects of the citalopram. It makes me ridiculously, continuously sleepy, is an appetite-suppressant (which is why I have spent the last two weeks of my life living off fruit and breakfast cereal), and, annoyingly, makes me stupider. At any rate, it gives me issues with my short-term memory, which leads to lots of wandering into rooms and wondering what I went into them for.

(That said, I had a nice moment of affirmation last Friday; having mostly spent the day failing, I had got sick of my lovely lovely land law lecturer looking at me with big sad disappointed eyes and said, "I'm not really fail! I love your subject! It's just that I'm a crazy person!"

Maybe not quite like that. But, anyway, her response was, "You poor old soul," in a very motherly tone of voice, and yeah, I kind of heart her. Anyway, I went to her lecture at the end of the day, and said, "I have a question." (It was not a very interesting question. If anyone really wants to know, it was: if a mortgage of transfer is no longer legitimate in English law as of LPA 1925, and as such the deads of title are held by the mortgagor, how may the mortgagee possess and sell in law and not in equity?)

She got a really horrified look on her face and said, "Oh god, I didn't tell you all that? Everyone, stop it, you can't go yet, thank you so much for asking that."

I don't know why it made me so happy, but it did. Something about oh hi, I'm still sometimes smart.)

-And that's it. Hopefully, no more fail. Or at least, just a little bit of fail, because it's nearly Christmas. Maybe back to duress. Or fanfic. But probably duress.
raven: stock shot of a wall with "I love you" graffiti (stock - love)
the boring brain bit first )

2. If I were in my sane mind, my [livejournal.com profile] yuletide request would fill me with glee. As it is, I am pleased, and fully intend to write it well and enjoy it before the deadline. So there.

3. Speaking of stupid things happening at improbably early hours of the morning, a couple of nights ago I was being mildly crazy and sitting in bed watching Mulan when the most abysmal noise started up outside my door. I sat still for a minute, then ran outside on the landing down the stairs yelling, "What the fuck is that?" only to run right into New Housemate running up the stairs yelling, "What the fuck is that?"

A pause, as we both figure out: smoke alarm, and the landing smelled of smoke. "Shit," I said, and we went into New Housemate's room and found nothing and went into my room and found nothing and then went back out, had the exact same horrible thought at the same time and launched ourselves bodily at [livejournal.com profile] chiasmata's door yelling, "WAKE UP!"

Unhappily, we did this just as she was opening it from the other side, and there was a moment of argh wake up please don't be dead mixed up with further what the fuck is that? and then, suddenly, we realised it was above us that was the problem. The lightbulb was black. Further investigation revealed that it had set fire to the lampshade, which I could not get off. Cue my fetching a pair of scissors from my room. New Housemate seemed doubtful. "It's house property, guys, I don't endorse this..."

"It's really ugly," I said, feeling very decisive all of a sudden. "It is three o'clock in the morning and we have been woken up by a smoke alarm and it is the ugliest lampshade in the world. Also, dude, it's on fire."

For some reason, all three of us took the opportunity to look at the lampshade anew and notice, all at once, how ugly is is - seriously, it is; it's a globular paper lantern of horror, it looks like an adipose cell blown up a million times actual size - and stood there laughing hysterically while I carefully cut the thing to pieces. It didn't come off. It hung there like some sort of eviscerated piñata, and then the lightbulb melted in my hand. I kind of just stood on a chair and laughed until I cried.

So, on the bright side, we didn't all die by fire. And are unlikely to, considering the smoke alarm works. And also, I feel that if we ever do have a fire or other night-time disaster, someone should be sure to drag [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne physically out of bed. She didn't stir at all.

4. Mulan is really great. It actually is. A couple of years ago my flatmates and I tried rewatching some of the Disney films and realised, much to my unsurprise, that The Little Mermaid is really anti-feminist. I mean, Disney princesses in general are not awesome, but I was really shocked by it. But, Mulan is awesome - it's about a woman (whose parents are both still alive, and are not evil!) who gets up one morning, thinks, fuck this, and goes out to fix things. And, and, she does not do it for a man. Rather, the man chases after her. Ineptly. And needs a cup of tea and a sit down when he finally finds her. And the music and the visuals are all really pretty. I like it. Actually, I like it so much I redid my [livejournal.com profile] yuletide sign-up with four minutes to spare.

(I am not sure, though, what it's like in terms of race and ethnicity, simply because of my ignorance of Chinese history and culture - I don't know what to watch out for in terms of its being problematic. But the tone of it, I like - it doesn't do the "look at the funny ethnics" thing, which is always a start.)

5. Contract law. Not that I have anything in particular to say about it, just I ought to go and do it. I am so behind with my work, it's not funny. (And this weekend I really ought to do some criminal law coursework, and considering it's supposed to be my favourite one, I really am being spectactularly fail in its general direction.) Yes. Work now.

[1] Number one on the list: my [livejournal.com profile] yuletide recipient wouldn't get a story.

(Number two: I wouldn't get a chance to try out my new purple glitter eyeliner. Look, I never said I was cool.)
raven: Paul Gross as Geoffrey Tennant holding up his hand against a blue background (s&a - feeling a little crazy)
For some reason best known to itself, iTunes wants me to listen to Christmas music. I don't understand. Also, I hate Christmas. (That said, the Sarah McLachlan version of "The First Noel" is actually lovely; full of rising piano notes that do, indeed, remind me very much of last December.)

Anyway. I have finished making all the training contract applications I'm ever going to make and just in time, my industrial-strength painkillers are running out - I finished the last lot off at five o'clock this morning, having been woken up by a spike inside my head - and so, I return to matters fannish after a long time away. A lot of the time that I was in San Francisco, [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2 and I watched fannish television, because, for the first ever, we could. And naturally, this involved a lot of Slings & Arrows, because she introduced me to it in the first place, and well, it's... itself. The problem with it, as I keep saying, is that it ruins you for television. Just... all television. It's not perfect by any means - we were talking about how the last season leaves lots of hanging threads; how the ingenues and their boyfriends can get samey; how it's a little too heteronormative for a show set in a theatre - but... so close. And the first six episodes, as a self-contained unit, are perfect. The writing, the characters, the nutty black humour, the way it's critical and wry in its treatment of madness and redemption, but it lifts you up with it.

(It also, specifically, ruins you for Due South. You try and watch it, and you end up sitting there going, "But he's so clean! Why is he so well-scrubbed? Why does he not look like a HOMELESS PERSON?" And it is not as if Due South is not the most bizarre thing that has ever been on television, honestly. Quite apart from the fact it's a show set in America made by British people and Canadians, it's, welll... yeah. There's a bit in it, in the episode with the pirate ship, where they have to create a diversion. It's a cop buddy show. If I were writing a cop buddy show, how would I write in a diversion? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have Paul Gross decide apropos of nothing to launch into several choruses of "Barrett's Privateers".

And, later! Later, there are the episodes featuring the show's very own metaphysics. I explained to someone once, "That tunnel there? That represents the phase space between life and death."

Phase space between life and death. It's a show about people who fight crime. I say again, bizarre.)

(We also tried to watch Chasing Rainbows, which is an eighties mini-series featuring a very young Paul Gross hamming it up horribly and trying to put on an American accent and the acting is terrible and the script is terrible and the pacing is terrible and the music is terrible and everyone looks blue. And it is, as a consequence, ridiculously funny. We were sitting there giggling occasionally until there's a bit where he's asked where he's from and he tells the Prince of Wales, "Montreal. Which is in Quebec."

It's in Quebec, guys. Montreal is in Quebec. I have never before been reduced to hysteria by this fact.)

Anyway! Enough parenthesis. I promised recs.

Better A Fallen Rocket, Slings & Arrows, by [livejournal.com profile] likethesun2.
I betaed this one, in between spending a week on the author's sofa, so I am a little biased. But not much. This is a long, hypnotic, frightening story about Geoffrey Tennant going mad, and it's also a story about Oliver, and a story about the crawlspace beneath a stage, and about the layers and unravelling of madness, and about what's left of God's purpose when you take away God. I am actually not quite able to do justice to it in a one-paragraph rec. Go and read it, and take in the enormous scope and sweep of what she does with these characters and themes, and then go and cry because you'll never write anything as good.

Pawn Their Experience and a A Foolish Wit, Slings & Arrows, by [livejournal.com profile] petronelle.
[livejournal.com profile] petronelle is a one-woman fic-writing machine, and all of her stuff is good, but these two are my favourites. "Pawn Their Experience" is about Geoffrey and Oliver, picking up the thing in canon where there is a big gay backstory that we never got to see, and doing it with poignance and setting out the characters' cluelessness very well. "A Foolish Wit" is a story about Sloan. The guy with the motorbike, yes. He has his own ghost. He says "fuck" a lot. I love it far too much.

untitled wee ficlet by [livejournal.com profile] rillarilla, still S&A.
An old one that I never got around to reccing. Claire's gone away to better things. It's short and packs a hell of a well-written punch.

Other things, let me see. The first trailer for Half-Blood Prince, which looks - gasp - good. cut for spoilers, such as they are )

And, lastly, one from [livejournal.com profile] rs_games, which is ridiculously good fun.

Horoscopes and How They Caused The Plague of Frogs [currently anonymous]
Remus gets a job as astrologer for the Quibbler. Lunacy (and sex) ensue. Not immaculately written, but I can forgive it much; it's long and silly and full of very funny touches.

Back to my very exciting day of eating coconut cake and moaning about the spike in my head. And, hopefully, editing 10,000 words of fic of my own, what is wrong with me, etc.
raven: (xf - give that girl a gun)
I have a banging monster of a tension headache that has so far not been alleviated by painkillers, enormous glasses of water and therapeutic shouting. I have to be up to get my laundry out. I may sit in the bath until then, having spent the last five or six hours being hugely, grossly productive. (Seriously. I got up. I went to work. I came back from work. I got rained on. I proof-read and got five training contract applications ready to submit. Packed a suitcase. Found tickets, insurance, passport and American dollars. Started work on application to the GLS. Did not cry. Put laundry in. Am now eating ice-cream and waiting for laundry to re-emerge.)

(Pause, as mum wanders in, demands of world in general where all her saris are, she knows she owns them, lots of them, in fact, have I seen them, no I haven't, do I still have that bottle of silver glitter, please can she borrow it, goes off to find it without waiting for answer, cue my father, he didn't know there was ice-cream, where is said ice-cream ("In the freezer, possibly?"), I didn't offer him any ice-cream, do I have any concern at all for my fellow man, clearly not, I will grow up to be the sort of person who reads the Daily Mail. Honestly, I do adore my parents.)

Anyway! Things that are of note, numbered as usual:

1. We can has cat! The landlord said yes. Therefore, [livejournal.com profile] chiasmata, [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne and I are free to become crazy cat ladies as and when we would like. I am quite, quite ridiculously excited about this.

2. Also, we can has... well. I feel that it needs recording that yesterday, due to a sequence of highly improbable circumstances, [livejournal.com profile] shimgray became the vaguely surprised owner of a thirteen-foot kayak. (With no paddles. We are literally up a creek... yeah.) Consequently, I shall be spending part of my Saturday tying it up with blankets and perambulating it home.


3. I met Anne Fine today! I was a big fan of hers when I was small - I have clear memories of reading Flour Babies and Goggle Eyes as they first came out - and she's apparently written about fifty books for children since. Anyway, she was a delight. I did a couple of hours' work in the shop in the afternoon - well, I say work; there were no customers whatsoever - and then toddled along two doors down to set up for the signing, met Book-Monkey-in-Chief carrying two boxes of books, took them off him and went to see what chaos I could bring order to, whilst the poor actual author followed us all down with some bemusement.

But, eventually she sat down, the kids queued up, it was all great. First of all, she can't talk to children. Well, she can't talk to children the way teachers and parents talk to children - she kept on getting halfway through words she possibly ought not to say, and then stopping, and then finally giving up altogether and talking about the bloody publishers at will. And it was more than stopping not to swear - she said to one small child, who had been standing there in front of my box of books for about half an hour, "You are pathologically indecisive." The small child clearly didn't understand but enjoyed the word "pathologically".

And in the breaks between signings, she talked to me, and apparently Book-Monkey-in-Chief had been telling tales, because she asked me about how Oxford had changed in the last twenty years - since her son was a Balliol PPEist. I told her a bit about how I'd found it, especially philosophy, and she fixed me with a gimlet stare and said, "Never forget. You have had an incomparable education."

I said I wouldn't. "No," she went on, thoughtfully, "They teach you how to think, don't they?"

That's the idea, I said. My degree results come out this week, I said.

She laughed and said, "What would you like me to write, darling?" to the front of the queue, and wrote with love to the most indecisive child in the world.

The signing actually went rather well. A lot of young children who had just read The Diary of the Killer Cat, and slightly older ones who had just read Goggle Eyes, and a surprising amount who wanted to read one called The Road of Bones. Now, I remember Goggle Eyes very well; I re-read it as an adult not long ago and realised anew how very, very good it is. (It is the story of Kitty, who does not like her mother's new boyfriend; this very simple plot is interspersed with clever allusions, acerbic wit and, my favourite, a marvellous set-piece involving the late-eighties CND.) This other one was new to me, having been written much more recently, and it was being gripped tightly by a solemn-faced boy named Joseph. "Sweetheart," she said, "you're ten, you don't want to read about Stalinist Russia" - but she ended up signing it To Joseph, who stood his ground.

As we were packing up, I asked her to sign something for me. A poster for The Tulip Touch (which is a horrifying - and horrifyingly good - young adult book based in part on the murder of James Bulger, so quite evocative for me, reading it) that claims it's Whitbread book of the year - which means it's been at the back of one of [livejournal.com profile] triptogenetica's cupboards for twelve years. She was very startled to see it, but signed it happily to James.

In fact, she was very good company. It's weird, but I've been here two weeks and not really seen any of my friends and done nothing but go to work in the morning and come back in the evening, and I've missed good company, which for me is usually defined as people who light up the room with how bright they are. One of the local newspapers was interviewing her, asked how much input she had into the film version of Mrs. Doubtfire (the book was called Madame Doubtfire, if I remember rightly), and if she had any regrets - and she said, not seeing the Beatles in Northampton in 1961.

And that was that. We finished packing, I picked up my wages from the shop, and she disappeared, but not before wishing me good luck for my results and telling me, "Give my very best regards to James, and congratulate him on his fine taste and discretion."

Not bad, I think, for an afternoon's work.

Anyway, I need to go to bed and kill this headache somehow. Tomorrow, I depart from Up North and return to Oxford. At least, for a while. I will be around and about until Wednesday night, at which point I depart for San Francisco. But in the meantime. Argh, my head. Bedtime.
raven: Alyson Hannigan as vampire Willow with her fangs out, face shadowed  (buffy - vamp willow)
Yesterday, mid-afternoon:

the world outside in focus, it is SYMBOLIC )

Thursday afternoon: Final Honours School of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, paper 0103, Ethics, question 18: "Would your death be good for you?"

Thursday evening, 10.13pm:

I fall over a lot )

Over the course of the last few days:

Tori Amos - Taxi Ride (x51)
Indigo Girls - Let Me Go Easy (x36)
Vienna Teng - Recessional (x179, ohGOD)
The Indelicates - ...If Jeff Buckley Had Lived (x68)

Tomorrow: Theory of Politics, Saturday, History of Philosophy From Descartes to Kant, (Bank Holiday) Monday, Politics of South Asia. Tuesday, Wednesday, also.
raven: (doctor who - welcome to hell)
The first thing I remembered when waking up this morning: we're out of coffee. In retrospect, I should've known it might not shape up to be a good day.

...sigh. Anyway. That sort of day, so this sort of post. Things that are indeed good about life:

1. The fact that the Wednesday market stall that sells the industrial quantities of sugar is back, and the drawer next to my bed is actually, literally overflowing with sugar. Mmm, liquorice. Mmm, dark chocolate. Mmm, biscuts. Mmm, regression to primary school. You get the picture.

2. Nobody has actually ever had "Final Honours School" written in the appropriate box on a death certificate. (Also, I have never accidentally certified my own death. This is not the case for her, my mum reports.)

3. Philosophy is, indeed, an entirely useless degree. However, in my case it is masked by the wonderful, wonderful degree title of "Philosophy, Politics and Economics", despite my having done twelve weeks of economics in my first year and thrown a textbook down the attic stairs.

4. Very few graduates actually starve.

(However, am going to echo [livejournal.com profile] slasheuse in saying hi, my name is Raven, and the only way I could know less about my degree subject is if I were actually dead.)

5. Oxford is a stunningly beautiful city, and springtime cloaks it in blossoms and fluffy clouds and sunshine. Also enormous gaggles of American tourists and random bagpipers on Cornmarket, but you can't have everything in life.

6. For reasons I am not sure I can satisfactorily explain, everything in our freezer tastes of cider. I don't think this is a good or bad thing, exactly, but it certainly adds an interesting note to a stir-fry.

7. The now well-commented-on and well-documented Open-Source Boob Project, otherwise known as skeeviness-onna-stick. It's not a good thing, of course, but the comments and discussion have kept me amused for a couple of days, and I had a very nice chat with [livejournal.com profile] emily_shore today, in which I got all my ranting out of my system.

(I hadn't written about it here because, well, my life is becoming this xkcd at the moment. Seriously. It actually happened word-for-word a couple of days ago. I leave it as an exercise to the gentle reader to guess which side of the exchange I was on.)

(Yes more parenthesis what of it. Um. Why has there been such an outbreak of stupidity on the internet lately, anyway? Seems everywhere I go, someone is saying something grossly offensive about women, about queer people, or about us filthy ethnics. After many, many years - literally - I may, after Finals, finally bring myself to make a post about my experience, yes, me, me-as-person, not me-as-PPEist, of White Privilege and How I Don't Have It. This is entirely far too long a digression, but what the hell. I always resist this sort of post, because I'm a strong disbeliever in anecdotal evidence - citation needed, oh my god, and "it happened to me once" is not a reliable third-party source - but it seems the level of stupidity on the issue is reaching critical mass, at least for me. For fuck's sake, world. Stop being racist. It's Not Good.)

8. If all goes well, it's actually only about a month until I see [livejournal.com profile] the_acrobat again. I have had to sort of push back how excited I am about this to the back of my head, but, er. Much, much excitement.

9. I have awesome feminist friends.

10. I have lots of work to do.

No, that isn't a good thing. I am going to do it now watch me go yes.

October 2017

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