Monday, December 23, 2002

I got all my information today about where I’d be staying in London. I’m excited now . . . it’s all starting to feel real! It’s a little more expensive than I thought it’d be, but it sounds pretty close to the university, so that’s probably why. I’m not looking forward to the initial jet-lag, however, I will tell you that!

I have oodles and scads of paperwork to send out over the big blue pond, including one so they’ll meet me at the airport. The thought of me lost in London is just . . . scary. London might never recover.

I also got my lists of classes . . . v. odd, they only meet for one or two hours a week, and yet they’re worth 4 credit hours. Wow. Funky. Maybe you have to do a lot of stuff outside of class . . . yeeps . . . wouldn’t want that, would we??

In other news, it’s as near to Christmas as makes no difference. Whichever holiday you celebrate (and there are a lot out there), have a happy one, and try not to kill your families! Keep telling yourself, “Wait ‘til next Christmas . . . hahahahaha . . .”

Book for today: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley. This is a re-working of the Sleeping Beauty story, with the most unlikely princess you ever met in your life. Of course, just about anything by Robin McKinley is great stuff . . . she’s written at least two versions of Beauty and the Beast, and her other books are award-winners. Highly recommended.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Just a quick post to see if my comments program is working . . . so quick I don't even have a Book for Today. Wow.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Well, I’m all done with my last classes at my American university. Exams are all written, for better or for worse (I have the sneaking suspicion that, given my general attitude of “oh, whatever” for the last couple of weeks of the term, it’ll be “for worse”) and grades will be coming in a couple of weeks. Whimper.

I’ve also packed myself up and moved back home on Saturday. Sigh. I’m really going to miss my apartment--in addition to great roommates (and you know who you are), independence, and constant internet access, it had the added advantage of distance . . . from my mother. *snicker* Kidding, mostly.

So anyway . . . now I have about six weeks to hang around at home until I leave for London at the end of January. In that time, I need to get my greedy little hands on some money, not only for Christmas shopping, but also for living on in London, which is apparently rather expensive . . . Anyone know of a job that’ll earn me mucho moola and allow me to sit around and read or write all the livelong day?


I didn’t think so.

Book for today: The Thief by Meghan Whalen Turner. This is a Newbery Honor book from about five years ago, meaning don’t look for it in adult fantasy. Maybe young adult. Anyway, it’s set in a quasi-ancient-Greece fantasy world, which was why I first picked it up. But don’t read it for that--read it for the main character, Gen the thief, who is the kind of kid that everyone wants to slap upside the head, but yet manages to make you root for him. What a trick! And it’s not the only one he pulls off . . . watch out for the ending. Bwaha.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

It's final exam time, kiddies. Have you had your nervous breakdown yet?

No, really, finals aren't that bad for me. The week before finals, now . . . presentation paper paper study review . . . argh! But that's over, and now there's only three finals to be got through for me. Oh, and also turn in my independent study, but that's practically done anyway. Feel free to throw all the tomatoes you want. I have an umbrella.

It's been a strange week for me. In my head, I know I'm going to be leaving this university forever in just a few days, and also leaving people who have become very dear to me. I'll keep in touch, of course, but it won't be the same. Yesterday, I participated in the graduation ceremony for Fall semester, even though I won't technically graduate until April. It was a nice, short little ceremony. I didn't see my family until the very end of it, when I was walking out. My parents and brothers attended, as well as my grandmother, my grandfather on the other side, and his fiancee, plus my aunt and her family, not to mention my roommates. Wow! What a cheering section I had! It was a nice feeling. I still didn't feel like I graduated, especially since I got just a diploma case and not the diploma itself.

I went to church on-campus today, and I nearly lost it during Mass. I've been attending this Mass for 3 and a half years, minus summer breaks, and it hit me like a brick to the head that I'd never worship there again. Isn't it strange what kinds of things set you off?

I tell you, this growing-up stuff sucks like a fleet of Hoovers.

In other news, I might not get the classes thing ironed out by the time I get on the plane--which really really worries me, because I need them done if I want to graduate on time. The international office is a mess right now, but the woman who's handling my stuff has told me she will try to get to it as soon as possible. I believe her, but I'm still itchy and worried. Grumble.

Good luck on finals, everyone who has them! And everyone else, happy holidays!

Books for today: Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. This is a truly exceptional romance novel, I'm telling you. The hero has a stroke close to the beginning of it, and since this takes place in the early nineteenth century, he is thought to be mad and put into an insane asylum. The heroine is the only one who believes that there's still a human being somewhere in there. Laura's descriptions of the insane asylum are truly horrifying, all the more so since the characters consider it an advanced place of treatment. SHUDDER! Also, Laura writes the scenes that are from the hero's POV as if you are in his head, with things not connecting the way a stroke victim would think and feel. Read it for a GREAT love story. Insert mooshy sighs here.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Got my acceptance packet proper from the UK university the other day. Woohooo! It’s official--I’m goin’ to London, baybee! I leave at the end of January and classes start the first week of February. Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t waaaaaaaaaaaaaait!!

In other news, my semester is heating up. I have papers due each week from now until the end of the semester. That’s right, paperS. Multiple. Tell me again why I opted for an English major?? Oy. There might not be another update for quite awhile, folks--it was all I could do to wrest out time to do this one.

Slowly going insane . . .

Book for today: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. What do you mean you haven’t read this? It’s truly disturbing and thought-provoking, whether or not you’re a feminist. Go read it.

Monday, October 28, 2002

So I had an orientation session for studying overseas on Saturday. (Yeah, I know I said it wasn't until November. What the heck, it's practically November! Anyway, it was all sorts of stuff about understanding that we're in a different culture and have to remember that, blah, blah, blah. Believe me, I'm not expecting to find Hamburger Helper on the shelf, although it would be nice. Part of the experience of living in another country is--hello!--living in another country. I guess they've had students who haven't quite cottoned on to that yet. Loath as I am to say "Dumb Americans", I have to say it . . . "Dumb Americans!"

They were talking about health insurance and that kind of thing, and saying, "Well, if you get critically ill you'll be Medevac'ed back to the US," and I went "Critically ill??" And then they started talking about "repatriation of remains", which quite frankly I was afraid to think about any further.

I'm still looking forward to it, of course, but now I'm going eep! for a little bit.

Books for today: More Than a Mistress by Mary Balogh. I'll warn you right away that this is a romance novel, and will admit freely that I read 'em like mad. But this one is very different than you'd expect from the back of the book. Mary Balogh has always had the guts to step out of the rut of "traditional" Regencies in acknowledging the darker side of that world. Try it out.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Hey, I inspired someone! What a great feeling.

So here's the story. I was talking to a classmate and mentioned this England trip. She said, "Wow, I'd love to do that, but I'm married and I have a job and it would just be too hard to do it for so long."

I replied, "Well, ya know, there's little summer sessions for a few weeks here and there . . . you don't have to do the whole year or even the whole semester." (Most colleges have short winter break or summer international studies, in addition to whole-year and full-semester programs. Just something to think about.)

She said, "Hmm, okay."

Well, she came up to me yesterday and said, "Mo, you inspired me! I'm goin' to Italy for five weeks this summer!" Woohooo! Lucky dawg, she's going to Rome.

Wow, I have a major case of the warm fuzzies now. I feel so good! Although that could be the DayQuil. I've had a putrid cold for the last few days.

Book for today: Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. This is Book Four of the Dresden Files, which are about the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. I'm in awe of Jim Butcher. He's just way too cool. The story is constructed with an eye toward pagan traditions, mythology, and other sorts of really neat and interesting stuff, and at the same time, there's a goofy irreverence about the main character that I have to just LOVE. Give it a try.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Again, not much news (are you seeing a pattern here?) I have an orientation meeting, but it's not until November. Hello??? Don't understand the logic here, I really don't. I'm going to just email the director and ask her about registering for classes, because I want to get it ironed out before I get on the plane.

Also, at Meijer tonight, I found this incredibly cool pair of pajamas. The top is a tank top with the Union Jack on it, and the bottoms have little stars, little Union Jacks, and the Queen's head on them. And--how neat is this? They were on clearance for 75% off! I was with my friend Beth, who interned in London over the summer, and I screamed, "MINE!" the minute I saw 'em. Muahahahhaha. She looked all over for another pair, but mine was the only one. Double muahahahhahaha.

Book for today: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Not reading this right at the moment, but I got to talking about it with my roommate, and remembered how wonderful it was. Go read it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

No new news re: England for today, chicos and chicas. I was just feeling rather pensive, for obvious reasons, and decided to put this together.

After the attack, there were innumerable artistic tributes. Things like “Empty Sky” and the Ground Zero project have already been documented, but what about the more easily overlooked elements of pop culture? One of them is comic strips.

I’m no artist and have never pretended to be, but comic strips are one of my great pleasures. Their reactions and tributes didn’t make it to us until around the 24th of September, and probably seemed like too little, too late. However, comic strip artists work on a lag time of about two weeks from their drawing board to your eyes. So the strips that we read and put into the recycling bin were the gut reactions of these often disregarded artists. I’ve managed to ressurrect a few of these from the archives, but most of the ones I’ve linked to here are the one-year memoriam tributes.

My tastes are wide-ranging, and so is the spread you see here. Some are satirical, some are patriotic, and some just express the grief and shock that we still feel, over a year later.

Big Top

The Boondocks



Grand Avenue

Heart of the City


Over the Hedge



Raising Duncan

Rudy Park

Sally Forth

Note: These last three aren’t exactly traditional comic strips, but they were tributes/meditations that meant something to me, so I included them.

Lalo Alcaraz - a political cartoonist

Megatokyo - a webcomic, only available on the Internet

The Onion - a satirical newspaper. I’ve linked the one article that I remember most clearly, but the rest of the issue is well worth reading
God Angrily Clarifies “Don’t Kill” Rule

I have a day-to-day calender of Shakespeare quotes, and I'll close with the one that was printed for today, September 11th, 2002: "Honor's thought reigns solely in the breast of every man." Henry V

We are ultimately all responsible for our own actions, and it's when we forget that honor that things like the attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the American psyche happen.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Well, after my big "Nothing yet, folks, and probably not for two weeks", I got a thick packet from the International Center here on campus. Actually, they sent it across the state to my parents' house first, then my dad had to send it back to me. Efficient, huh?? Sheesh. Anyway, they said they'd gotten my application (wow, and it only took them five months to figure it out! A round of applause for the highly efficient International Office, if you please) and I was APPROVED FOR THE PROGRAM!!!! WOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Having now used up my entire supply of exclamation points for the next month, I'll tell you about the caveat--apparently, they're sending my application on to the London university for them to review it. What does this mean? As far as I know, jack, because they sent me all sorts of class lists and registration forms and withdrawal slips (puh--like that's going to happen) and it sure looks like I'm going.

Now for the real headaches to start. First off, I only have one semester left if I take all the right classes. This means making sure I take the right classes to transfer from London to my university in the States. Still with me? It gets better. Most things look okay, but the Shakespeare class, which is Required with a capital R underscore exclamation point for English majors, is apparently only offered in the fall semester. I didn't take it here this semester because I had hoped to take that in the spring. I mean, seriously! Shakespeare in Britain! But apparently not . . . I'm going to check with the International Center to see if I'm reading it correctly. And what'll I do if I can't take it? Wait around for another semester and take it NEXT fall here, putting my graduation off by several months?? Nuh-uh. I have plans. There are some possibilities for substitution, but . . . but . . . I wanna take a Shakespeare class! *snif*

Luckily, the classes that I can take in the spring look reaaaaaaaaaaaally reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally cool. 18th and 19th century novels? Sign me UP, baby! (Okay, yes, I'm a little odd. But that's why I'm an English major.)

Until further notice, boys and girls, I'm going to LONDON!!

Books for today: Troubling a Star by Madeleine L'Engle. Sequel to A Ring of Endless Light, not as good, but hey, it's still Madeleine L'Engle.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Just a quick entry to tell everyone that nothing's happened just yet. The actual deadline is two weeks from yesterday, and they haven't even looked at the applications yet. When I went into the office to ask if they had my app yet (they should; I turned it in last April) the receptionist had no idea. She told me that if I hadn't heard anything within a month of the deadline, to come back. This is highly encouraging.

In other news, my roommate and I are having a M*A*S*H-a-thon over the holiday weekend. We're almost through the second season. Over and out.

Books for today: A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle. Highly recommended. Don't watch the Disney movie--they slaughtered it.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Ok, I'll be really upfront and admit that I'm not in London yet. I'm not even accepted to the exchange program through my university yet. Which means I'll look pretty damn silly if I get rejected. On the other hand, all you readers (ha, yes, all three of you; hi Mom) will get to follow me through the whole mess of getting there, and then when I am there, your faith will be rewarded. Probably.

A little information about me (but not too much; this is after all a public weblog). I am a senior at a public Michigan university (you have about fifteen to pick from, folks--bet you never knew that) majoring in English and hoping to be a published author sometime in my future. My semester in London will hopefully be my very last of my undergraduate education. My minor is Classics, but I'll have that done before I go across the big blue pond. I'd love to take Classics courses in London, but they confine you to your major only. Pooey. I love Classics. Ask me anything about the Roman Empire. Go on. I dare you.


I'm a complete and utter Anglophile, which is why this opportunity to go to London so thrills me. My favorite novelists are Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, and J.K. Rowling, I love Shakespeare, Monty Python and most British comedies . . . shall I go on? I can even do a fair-to-middling British accent, although I'm sure actual Brits would throw scones at my head and dunk me in the Channel if I even tried. Something about a country that has barns older than the country I was born in just attracts me. What can I say? I already have a long list of places to visit and Internet buddies to see while I'm over there. I'm assuming a lot, aren't I?

The new semester at my American school starts on Monday. I have the incredible good luck to have no Friday classes, and I wangled it so I don't work that day either. Isn't that incredible? I'm looking forward to this semester, believe me. But I'm looking forward to the next one too.

I have a small, rather uninteresting life--I write and I read and I attend class. I'm hoping it will shortly get a little bigger, but until then, you'll have to deal with small, rather uninteresting posts.

Until next time!

Books for today: Frederica by Georgette Heyer