Term II Week VI

Monday 27 February – Friday 2 March 2012

Term II Week VI

Monday: Launch countdown!…number two of this term, hope it doesn’t turn out like last time; a month late being finished, ugh. Oh well, either way: 4 days until I leave for London, woo!!! Though this isn’t as exciting as Paris with my lovely friend Liz, it is still a ‘woo’ occasion because hey I can go to London on my weekends! Can’t do that in Colorado.

Okay away from London. So today was my first day back, after my super lazy innovative learning week last week during which I changed from my pyjamas into street clothes a total of three times in seven days, and it was, well school. Woke up before my eight am alarm but still felt unbearably exhausted, I would’ve just gone back to sleep if I didn’t have to meet my Literature and Scepticism ALG at 10am. So I got up and used a ridiculous amount of energy getting ready and was in front of Teviot a minute past 10, I was the only one. Two of the members didn’t show because their travels plans (they went home for last week) had changed and they weren’t in Edinburgh and the other two were about 20 minutes late because one had to submit an essay and the other forgot that we had it. When we all finally joined together in our private room we realized that like so many –ahem, all- of our scepticism discussions not only did we have no clue what we were talking about but we couldn’t even BS anything. So as usual we cut the meeting short leaving the two (one who was doing the write up and the other who was going to present) elected to present and write-up to suffer through Bacon alone, and separated. Ugh I really don’t know what it is about that class but we don’t seem to learn anything, one of the girls from my ALG agrees with me. We have these essays due on 19 March and the questions are ones that we should have a general knowledge about and be able to attach to different texts but instead we are just left, wriggling like fish on a hook, trying to figure out what to do. Though I will admit that I feel better about the scepticism essay than I do about my Stories for Boys essay, oh how I miss my classes last term.

After the ALG I went to the library for an hour before my Scottish literature lecture and found a total of, wait for it…THREE books! An hour running around the 3rd floor of the library and all I have to show for it is three books (and possibly a few burned calories). Three is better than none though, especially now because all of the juniors are discovering that they need to start their essays earlier than the week before and the needed sources are getting harder and harder to find (possibly because I have about 90% of them, oops). My Scottish lit. Lecture was interesting though I should probably look at what the professor is talking about before class just in case they don’t have a power point or anything so that I don’t spend the first half of the lecture trying to figure out what they are actually lecturing about. Turns out it was about some Scottish female author that I’ve never heard of (shocker) from the nineteenth century and the lecturer discussed this author’s ghost story ‘The Library Window’, it was actually a very exciting lecture and the lecturer was very stimulating so I didn’t fall asleep (though I really wanted to, if only she would’ve been boring I could’ve gotten a few minutes of sleep, just kidding).

I was going to go to the gym today but it really just wasn’t happening (it was a bloody gloomy and gusty day, did not want to go outside for anything), but I finally talked myself into going for a walk around Holyrood park mostly because I was really irritable and everything it bothering me, almost bit Ghaz’s head off for chewing (it wasn’t her it was me…and the lettuce, joking it was 100% me). I was really happy when I got out to Hollyrood because it is just so breathe taking, I will miss it terribly when I go home, the plains of Colorado are ugly without being compared to Scotland.

Tuesday: 3 days until London!! Though I am excited I keep forgetting that it is this coming weekend so I am completely unprepared; I woke up last night in a panic convinced that I was going to forget my train tickets so I immediately got them out and threw them onto my desk.

I really have lost all hope in ever writing up my Paris, Week IV, and Week V blogs; I tried for near two hours last night and finally got so annoyed and frustrated that I just turned off the computer and read Bridget Jones’s Diary. Ugh, though I am sure that once I stop getting distracted and just force myself to sit down and spend the four plus hours that I know it will take me to write them up, it will end up being a breeze (though possibly a bitter breeze).

Today my 11am Scottish lit. Tutorial was moved to tomorrow so I didn’t have class until 4pm, I decided that instead of getting up early and forcing myself to go to the gym I would just let myself sleep, like I did during innovative learning week. So naturally I woke up about nine and was at the gym by ten (this was completely unplanned, I kept repeating to myself that I didn’t have to go to the gym, I could do homework or write my blogs instead). I had one of the best work-outs of this year! It was fantastic, I was there for near an hour and did my cardio –while reading my free read book (luckily I’m almost finished with it)-, lifted both upper and lower body, got some good stretching in and organized my route home perfectly so not only did I get to stop and grab a Starbucks but I also got to hike up one of the hills in Holyrood to enjoy the warm (you read that right it was warm!) sunlight on my naked arms. I then got back to my flat, took a shower and had an hour or so to do homework; though I was so exhausted that I spent my two hours before class chugging coffee so I wouldn’t fall asleep in class (though I usually do anyway so I suppose it would be bad form to give the lecturer hope) and reading a secondary source on Shakespeare’s Scepticism.

Sadly though my Scepticism class
didn’t coordinate well with the first part of my day and I left feeling drained of life and fed up with my foolishness that makes its appearance in that class. So to start the class I foolishly chose the seat that was directly across from where my lecturer was sitting, which meant that he could just watch me the whole class –I kept my head down petrified of making eye contact and seeing the disappointment. I just realized that my current feeling towards my professor needs a bit of explanation. As I have mentioned I have a terrible tendency of, well, not exactly falling asleep in class but being so tired and uninterested that I zone out, so in a sense I’m sort of sleeping with my eyes open. On top of that, two Fridays ago (17 February) I attended a lecture on Shakespeare in Scotland –which I was really excited about and it ended up being on something completely different than what I thought, total disappointment. It lasted for about an hour and a half and was indescribably dull, add that I was drop dead tired and you get me falling asleep (not just zoning out but actual head bobbing forward, eyes closed, the works). The part that my lecturer (Dr C) comes in on this whole thing is that he was the one who had set up the lecture and I know he noticed that I fell asleep and was doodling at the end (to try and prevent the unfortunate situation of someone coming up to me when the lecture was done to wake me up). This show of my being a poor student was than accompanied by a more noticeable embarrassing event. For innovative learning week the literature department hosted a few lectures, I only went to one; ‘The Regius Chair and its Incumbents’ which was about the Regius Chair of Rhetoric and Belle Lettres which is what I wrote my entry essay for Edinburgh on. This lecture, like the Shakespeare one, was not what I had expected and was terribly boring (ugh it was just two old men talking about nothing, seriously they kept saying that they were going to discuss something but they never did), at the beginning of the lecture –or rather talk/discussion-I remembered that I hadn’t taken my salmon out of the freezer to defrost, so I sneakily took my cell phone from my bag and texted Lindsay asking her to take it out. I then placed the phone in my lap so that when it lit up (because it was on silent) with her response I would know. My phone was not on silent, I was just stupidly under the impression that it was, rather it was on loud, so when I got a reply it was obvious, to the whole bloody room including Dr C! Okay so now that we are caught up on why I am convinced that he thinks I’m a terrible student, I have another addition to the equation. During class there is an oppressive silence that always seems disturbed when someone speaks, today when I spoke it shattered with my unintelligent words, and the pieces of it lashed back cutting and slicing into my flesh like shards of shattered glass. Regardless of my wounds from my first comment (which involved me trying to lighten the mood by commenting that Michel De Montaigne was more self-obsessed than Bacon –we were discussing Francis Bacon’s essays) I decided to try again, this moment being worse than the last. I started to say something but in mid-sentence realized that I had no clue what I was talking about or even going to say, so I looked down at my book to avoid making contact with the ruthless judging glares of my classmates and to beg it for answers –naturally it just stared blankly back at me saying: ‘you’re on your own, I’ve told you what I can and you didn’t listen’. I ended up just realizing that I couldn’t even wing the end of my sentence so instead I whispered ‘never mind’ and like a beaten dog, slithered back into silenced mortified by my idiocy. Ugh by this point I wanted to throw myself out of the second story window, but the rational portion of my brain dissuaded me from this ridiculousness and encouraged me to try one last time. My third and final attempt at speaking intelligently during this class started out well; I explained how Bacon’s essay ‘Of Truth’ was organized with the scientific method in mind: started with a question –‘What is truth?’- and arguing his point with logical reasoning, the end is where I screwed up. To finish I explained how Bacon ended his essay with his chosen, I meant to say conclusion but as fate would have it I forgot the word and instead chose, truth. This in itself wasn’t bad, what was mortifying was my response: being the immature individual that I am I giggled at the fact that I had chosen truth and we were discussing his essay ‘Of Truth’, it would be fine if I had done this in my head but no, I giggled and sad ‘ha truth’ out loud!! Oh it is all over for me in that class, I can feel my ALG getting irritated with me and the pressure and disgust of my other classmates just weighing down on me. Oh and to make things worse; near the end of class, due to continual embarrassment and mortification I was closely examining my paper when I heard Dr C as one of the girls if she was okay, she said something and everyone started to laugh while Dr C mentioned something about God showing his wrath. I looked around like a bloom’n fool convinced I had missed something really noticeable and that everyone would not only think I was an imbecile but they would also think I was thicker than cement. I finally weeded out what had happened and was shocked that everyone had freaked out at such a small and ridiculous thing. So it turns out that the table had started to shake and since we were on the second floor there was no way to explain why and everyone was a bit worried as to what was going on, I on the other hand –because I had had a class in that same room the term before (this also explains why I didn’t notice it) – knew exactly what it was: it was a bloody car driving by and the vibration from the cobblestones sometimes makes the floor shake!!!I realize that my teacher probably doesn’t think I’m a bad student and am near positive that all my classmates are too far in there coma of boredom from the class that they barely register my stupid comments but intelligence is very important to me and it frustrates me to no end that I cannot seem to speak intelligently about texts that I not only understand but enjoy!

Regardless of my frustrating class it was a good day, though I did spend the rest of my night that I had planned to do homework and blogs, in the kitchen talking with Laura (my new flatmate whom I spend A LOT of time talking to), Lindsay, and Ghaz. Oh well best enjoy these times now because they are limited *tear*.

Wednesday: 2 days until LONDON!! I have just had an epiphany, I can’t stand writing these blogs because they take so long and I write way too much, for heaven’s sake Tuesday’s blog is like a page and a quarter and the majority of it is about my Scepticism lecturer and class, I do not pay that much attention to my Stories for Boys or even my Scottish Literature, what is it about Scepticism? Anyway.

Girls, if you have a boyfriend that just isn’t proposing than today is your day! Every four years there is what is known as a ‘leap year’: a year containing one additional day to keep the calendar year synchronized with the seasonal year. On these special years in Ireland and Britain it is tradition that women may propose on this day – 29 February- and only this day, every other day and year only men can propose (though times have changed, but still it just seems right that the guy should propose, I mean the woman has to do everything else: cook, clean, and worst of all grow the parasitic offspring in their bodies suffering from the calcium being sucked from their bones and the aches and pains from the extra weight, than at the end of all that horror having to go through the indescribable pain of birth. Men better get down on one knee and propose to the woman! I’m just say’n).

Today was not as exciting as yesterday (probably because I didn’t spend half of it contemplating my scepticism class), though I did get a chance to try out the leap year thing but I have a feeling that the guy isn’t interested and am fairly certain that he is taken (no I am not a man stealer nor am I being rejected, he is gay just a small joke to get the ball rolling before it fully deflates). Onwards with my day, usually I get up for my noon class at eight so that I have time to wake up, get ready, eat, ect (I know this seems really early but it takes me about two hours to be able to even tolerate people let alone want to be around them), but last night I decided that I would set my alarm for half eight and get thirty extra minutes. Naturally I woke up at eight convinced that I had slept through my alarms and due to this fear I was wide awake when I realized that I had woken up early, so I just got up. Though getting up this early ended up being a bit of a good thing because since I get ready so fast I had about an hour and a half to do essay prep, yes I really did do it.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, my tutorial was moved to today, so I had my Scottish lit. Lecture and then an hour later I had my tutorial. Today in the lecture my Stories for Boys professor was the lecturer and he talked about Empire, Realism, and Romanticism (basically everything we are talking about in Stories for Boys), it was really quite enjoyable, especially because it helped me better understand a few concepts we have been talking about in Stories for Boys. After the lecture I popped over to the library to get a book on Bacon (I decided to change my scepticism essay from looking at Shakespeare’s Othello and some other text –we have to talk about two texts- to looking at Francis Bacon and Michel De Montaigne), which took forever because the library has all these folios and stuff on Bacon that are in the “special collection” so I had to weed through all that to get to the just general collection of his essays. Afterwards I ran home for a quick lunch and chat with Laura before running over to Buccleuch Place for my tutorial.

Today could’ve possibly been the best tutorial ever! We were discussing J.M. Barrie’s play and novel Peter Pan and it was not only really interesting dissecting this children’s story about the boy who would never grow up but also we just were all in a good mood and enjoyed some nice laughs. Though there was one girl who was being really annoying. To explain: so yesterday the essay prompt for this final essay that is due on 19 March (like all the other literature essays) were put up online, I haven’t yet looked at them but I should so that I get my hands on some secondary sources. This girl at the beginning of class asked my tutor if she could talk to her after class because she needed some guidance for the essay and wanted to start it today. Unfortunately (for this girl) my tutor was really busy and couldn’t meet with her, but when she tried to schedule another time the girl ‘freaked out’ and kept repeating that she had three essays she needed to do and HAD to start the essay today, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to hit her over the head and yell at her that she was not the only one who had three bloody essays due on the same day (there are about three of us in the class who do). I understand that she wanted to be ahead of the game but honestly she was being ridiculous and causing a bit of a scene (she did it again at the end of class). But away from the annoying girl and back to the interesting and enjoyableness that was Peter Pan. During the hour we discussed the interchange of adult/child, child/adult that is going on in the play and how the men act childlike. We then discussed how the play is significantly different when read than when seen because a lot of the stage directions can’t be translated into performance and are lost. A lot of this involved the danger of Peter himself. In modern day videos and representations Peter Pan is a very whimsical and magical character associated with fun and magic but when the play is read Peter’s character becomes much darker and more dangerous. We ended class with by quickly touching on the Cottingly Fairies, which were photographs taken by the two young cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths in 1917 (they are disturbingly convincing, if you Google image them you can see them). The photographs drew the attention of Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who visited Cottingly, near Bradford in England, with Houdini. Doyle was convinced that the photographs were proof of the existence of fairy folk and seems to have spent much of his time investigating the photographs. It is Odd that a man who spent his life writing stories about the adventures of a logical thinking detective was so ecstatic and accepting of the existence of fairies.

After this fascinating and fun tutorial I walked back to my flat, but not alone, off in my own little world that I’ve created in my mind specifically for lone walks; rather I walked back with one of the boys in my tutorial who is from the states and lives in my building. Honestly it was nice not walking by myself for a change, back at my home university I always used to walk to class with people and here I’m usually alone. I forgot how exhausting and demanding it is to walk with people who you don’t know though, I was drained by the time I closed my door from the effort of not letting the conversation die (near the end I was grasping for something to discuss so I chose the repulsive pink colour of the walls, ugh!).

Thursday: End of countdown! In less than 24 hours I will be four hours (by train) south in the metropolitan kingdom of London. But I must finish this blog and my essay research before I can board that train.

The tides are changing! Or, rather the world is turning! I am now waking up to morning light streaming in through my windows and get to enjoy the final rays of day on my walk back from my 4 to 6pm class. The plague of darkness is coming to an end and Edinburgh is rejoicing with splinters of sunlight and blue sky, the cool warmth that signifies the coming of spring, and the blossoming of flowers in every green area. Oh how the spirits lift from the mere sight of white and purple tulips spreading out their multitude of petals in the park in front of the library! And the indescribable pleasure of wearing a short sleeved shirt outside and not feeling your blood freeze inside your veins but rather feeling the sun warming your skin and the cool breeze blowing away the bitterness of winter.

Okay I am going to stop with the spiel on the coming summer and breaking winter and focus on today’s events. Today was a very busy Thursday, since I am leaving tomorrow my Scepticism ALG had to meet today at 11am, though I once again woke up before my 8am alarm afraid that I had slept through it. Of the five or so ALG’s we have had this term this one on Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist seemed the most productive, even though none of us had actually read the play (one girl had read it a few years ago, another had Wikipediad it, and I have actually seen it performed –for those who don’t know it is a play). We talked for the whole hour and left feeling confident about our answers. I then went to hang at the library for the hour before my Stories for Boys ALG, and in that time I wrote up the report for The Alchemist (each group is given two questions to answer, one which will be answered and written up in a report and the other which is to be answered in a presentation in front of the class, I chose the report this week because as Tuesday’s blog shows, I hate talking in that class). I also printed out and read the questions for the final Scottish Literature essay which, like my other essays, is due 19 March and even started research for it. I was on such a productive roll that I really didn’t want to leave and go to my Stories for Boys ALG, but reluctantly I finally got up and meandered over to our meeting place. Like the ALG two hours before, this one was really productive; but only three of our five members showed up and one of the members hadn’t even read the novel (we read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Kipling’s short story ‘Thrown Away). I love Heart of Darkness, I had to read it in high school and was ecstatic to read it again for this class (and I actually did read it, no skimming). Like all of our ALGs though we only talked for a half-hour before getting completely distracted by another topic (this time it was the Lady in Black) and finally deciding that we should just break so that whoever hadn’t finished reading could finish. It was funny though when we were separating because one of the members said that she was going to go read, I said I was going to get some coffee and the male member said that he was off to do both. I really like this ALG, minus the one individual that never shows up except once and when he did he didn’t even talk even though he was the only one of the group who had read the text. Since I had finished both texts, I returned to my flat for some lunch and coffee before class and ended up getting some essay research done also! (It really has been a bizarrely productive day).

Class was interesting –it usually is, discussing imperialism with regards to texts primarily intended for young boys is always interesting- but it was repetitive which is the engrained danger with taking a class that is so focused. I really do love that class though; I think I mostly enjoy it because of the classroom (but the texts we read are fantastic as well, who doesn’t want to sit around reading boy’s adventure stories). The class is held in a large rectangular room on the sixth floor of David Hume Tower, which is a thirteen floor building that is basically the English major headquarters. Like all English buildings, DHT is really ugly both inside and out but it has huge windows in every room and in the stairwell that give better views of Edinburgh than Arthur’s seat (mostly because you can see Arthur’s seat), and my Stories for Boys classroom has four huge windows, two on each side, that gives amazing views of the Meadows and beyond on one side and Arthur’s seat and the Firth of Forth on the other. It is quite literally breath-taking and during class I love looking out beyond my professor at the Firth of Forth and watching the change as the sun descends. Along with the amazing views the classroom is incredibly quiet because every room surrounding and below it are offices and since we are so high up the sound of the cars driving over the cobblestones (and cars in general) and the life below are all lost in the wind and atmosphere, so it is like we are in our own glorious bubble. DHT really is my favourite place in Edinburgh. I’m thrilled that I am in the 4pm class because if I was in the 9am on Fridays I wouldn’t be able to watch the beautiful change that occurs with the setting of the sun.

I really seem to be in the fantastical nature mood today, Edinburgh is really quite lovely though. Okay so the class itself was good, though we were talking about Heart of Darkness so of course it was going to be good. Though as the two hours ticked by I began to notice that everyone except me had said something, so as the time decreased I feverously tried to come up with something to say and finally near the end of class when we were talking about the relationship that Marlow has with Kurtz I commented that Kurtz is like Africa for Marlow because he is a fantastical idea that keeps getting elaborated on but when actually discovered is not a disappointment but not exactly what Marlow expected. This comment was acknowledged by the professor but no more than that. Ugh why do I even bother talking in class; probably because I am stubborn and can’t go two hours in a room full of people without having attention on me, even if it is negative or passive attention, though I will keep working and soon my time will come.

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