Term II: Week VII

Tuesday 6 – Friday 9 March 2012

Term II Week VII

So the essay countdown has officially begun (I seem to really enjoy countdowns, this is not healthy, it’s like last year when I made a list every day of everything I needed to do – that ended up making me so anxious that I had to stop for health reasons- oh dear). As of yesterday, two weeks until my three essays are due and though I have done quite a bit for each one I still feel like I’ve done nothing; ugh I feel completely lost. Though in reality I’m in a pretty good stop, I know exactly what I am doing for my Scottish Lit. essay, same for my Scepticism essay (though I found out that practically everyone else in my class is doing the same bloody prompt), the only place where I am really struggling –but have done the most research for- is my Stories for Boys class. I know what texts I’m going to use –Heart of Darkness and King Solomon’s Mines– and I have done lots of research BUT I have no clue what prompt I am going to answer, in fact, I’m so freaked out by this one that I refuse to even look at the prompts for fear that I will not be able to answer any of them.

This is very strange: I am looking out my window at David Hume Tower (bloody place haunts me even at home) and there is blue sky but it is pouring rain….now it is stopping…very odd.

Alright away from the dreaded essays and on to this week’s blog:

Tuesday: Since I returned from London on Monday I keep feeling like I am on the wrong day, so as I was sitting in my Tutorial and my Scepticism class even though I knew I was supposed to be in there I kept feeling like something was off. And same goes for Wednesday; I only have my Scottish lit. lecture but I feel like I am forgetting something important that I am supposed to do.

Today wasn’t super note-worthy, even my Scepticism class was pretty low key –though I didn’t really say anything, I kept thinking of things to say but every time the opportunity passed. In tutorial we discussed John Buchan’s book (the first in a series of five with the character Mr Hannay) The Thirty-Nine Steps, which was an okay book, really short (95 pages), but not exciting enough for me to really add to the conversation; so for the first time this term I was relatively quiet in tutorial.

It has now completely stopped raining and it is a clear blue sky with the sun out, what on earth! Edinburgh has the craziest weather.

After class I asked my tutor if she would write me a letter of recommendation because when I get back to my home institute I will immediately start applying for graduate school and a letter of recommendation from a professor at Edinburgh I think would really put me above other applicants. I then went to the library to get yet more books (I’m just waiting for an indicator to pop up when I am trying to check out a book that says ‘your check-out max has been reached, we are cutting you off’). I seem to be under the strange delusion that if I check out a hundred plus books and read all of them then my essays will just magically appear, that or I’m just trying to avoid the essay writing process. It was actually a really productive day though because in between my tutorial and Scepticism class I did work and then after scepticism I did work, though I feel I could’ve done more- oh how I wish I was the bionic woman with unlimited motivation.

Scepticism was good today (everyone seems to be warming up a bit…or maybe not), we discussed Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, which is actually a really easy play to discuss and since it was so easy and there wasn’t as much delving as all the other texts demanded we got out of class early. Though there was one pretty funny moment; so Dr C was asking a question that pertained to one that my ALG had to address in our report but no one was answering – which is what usually happens, he will ask a question and get silence then he will rephrase the question and get more silence but that is because he sort of trails off then picks up again so you never really feel like you can answer because then you would be interrupting. Since I knew we had discussed this in our ALG I figured that it was our presentation question (though I later remembered that it was the report question) so I looked at our group member who was supposed to do the presentation and both of us just suddenly burst out laughing! It was the funniest thing, complete silence due to the pressure of this question bearing down on all of us and then just a burst of laughter. After this the classroom atmosphere was much lighter for the rest of class. But throughout class I kept thinking of the moment after when I would have to go up to Dr C and see if I could meet with him to discuss the essay, this was a daunting thought because…I wouldn’t say he scares me but he sort of puts me on edge probably because I have really defined lines between professors and students here and the thought of seeing and talking to them one on one is a daunting one. I mean on my way up to class I ran into him on the stairs (he has the same class right before ours and in the ten minutes between the two he always goes over to the business building’s café and gets a cup of –well I suspect- coffee) and to avoid him – or sink into my own oblivion of invisibility- I pinned myself against the wall in fear. When I finally talked with him it wasn’t as bad but it was still a bit … there really isn’t a word for what it was. But if I am that freaked out about asking a professor who is very kind and in respects ‘approachable’ I can’t imagine what it is going to be like when I make an appointment to talk with my Stories for Boys teacher because he actually does scare me and I get a the sense that he…thinks I’m not very smart (that is poor phrasing, basically every time I have said something in that class he either ignores it or says something along the lines of ‘no, don’t put that in your essay’) needless to say I am scared.

Wednesday: Ugh I broke my lent! Which I just remembered I haven’t mentioned so let me take a step back for a minute and explain. So two weeks ago I decided to join Paula and Ghaz and give up something for lent, I decided that I would give up Facebook (except for my two ALG groups on there since that is the only way for me to stay in contact with them) and only check my email three times a week. I’m not religious but decided that this would be a good reason for me to take control of my constant Facebook and email checking, so far it has gone really well; except for Wednesday night! Story of failure: I went on to post on my Scepticism ALG and ask when we are going to meet because the upcoming week we don’t have class since it is essay completion week (oh dear just barely over a week to do my three essays, heaven help me!), while I was on I noticed that a friend of mine from my home uni was on – he is rarely on- and so I decided that I would message him. One thing led to another and an hour later I had not only Facebook stalked a few individuals but I had also read every post on my wall and made two new ones! Oh the disgrace! But everyone has a slip and that was mine, no more! It wasn’t even worth it though because my friend didn’t really even talk to me, broken lent for nothing!

Besides that failure it was a good day. In class the professor who coordinated the lectures during the LGBT history month, lectured on George Douglas Brown’s novel The House with the Green Shutters which I was supposed to read for my tutorial but got a page in and said: ‘No’ and put it down. I really would enjoy that class more if all the books we read weren’t so depressing; in fact, this goes for all of my classes. In an attempt to get more reading done I have started to read course novels before bed instead of a ‘free read’ book but this just depresses me because none of the books are cheery but are, instead, dark and depressing(take Thursday night for instance –yes I am writing this portion of the blog on Friday morning- I read Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor before going to bed because I am planning to write my Scottish lit essay on it and need to get further than a third through to be able to know what I’m talking about, and I ended up having the most terrifying nightmare that involved me not being able to see, the electricity in my room continually going out, and a very sinister dog suddenly appearing – I’ve a bit of a dog phobia so this terrified me beyond explanation).The lecture was pretty good though, the professor knows how to give a good lecture with interesting and descriptive slides while talking in a clear and orderly manner so that she was very easy to follow.

After class I came home and argued with myself about going to the gym. I finally convinced myself to go only because I needed to go to the store really badly (unless I wanted to have canned soup for dinner which really didn’t sound particularly appetizing) and I figured if I was going out I might as well just go work-out first. And as usually happens I had a fantastic workout! Figures when I actually want to go when I get there I have a terrible workout but when I don’t want to go I have a really good workout. Though there was this one guy at the gym and –as guys do- he was trying to lift more weight than he really could so while he was lifting he made a face that very nearly resembled that of something like a demon’s, it was actually quite scary I was afraid he was going to come over and try to steal my soul with some airy promises of eternal youth or magic disappearance of my excess nutella and chocolate weight. After half an hour I exited the gym feeling oodles better and headed to the store where I ran into a boy from my Stories for Boys course (and stealthily avoided after we were forced to part by the cashiers- I don’t like seeing people out of their atmospheres of class).

For the rest of the evening (minus my Facebook fumble) I was very productive and finished my notes for my Stories for Boys essay (now all I need to do is read and weed out the important bit from the 12 pages).

Thursday: Busiest Thursday ever! I reluctantly catapulted myself out of bed at eight, threw on some clothes, grabbed my laundry and headed down to the seedy basement dungeon home of the monstrous washing machines. Within two hours I had washed all my laundry, hung it up in my room and the drying closet and was sitting down to do some work before my half twelve meeting with Dr C with regards to the essay. At about half eleven I had a list of secondary texts that I wanted to pick up at the library for my Scottish lit essay and decided to just set off then so that I had a good deal of time to wander the library for books before meeting my professor and then going to my Stories for Boys ALG to discuss the unfinished Conrad novel Lord Jim. But the library only took about half an hour so by noon I had nothing to do and decided to run back to my flat to drop off the six or so books on the Gothic I had gotten (I am writing my essay on Margaret Oliphant’s short story ‘The Library Window’ and, as mentioned above, Scott’s novel The Bride of Lammermoor in response to the question about different author’s approaches to the supernatural). I then ran back to the David Hume tower and climbed the seven flights of stairs to the seventh floor to still arrive ten minutes early! But Dr C ended up showing up right as I approached his door so we started the meeting early.

The meeting went really well and was really informal which was nice because usually it is really unnerving to talk to some professors, especially one on one when there is no hope of some other student swooping in an saving you. But he was really chill and started the conversation as if we were just having a nice little chat about nothing in particular. We talked about my other classes, Colorado, my other essays before finally getting onto the Scepticism essay. He wasn’t much help with my primary problem of not knowing what either Montaigne nor Bacon are saying in their essays about death because he said that that is the point of my essay, to figure out what they are saying; though he did show a worrying amount of confidence in my ability to write this essay well, I just responded that we should wait and see. Even though it was a nice conversation that made me overall feel better about how he feels about me as a student I still had the problem of wanting to fall asleep! What is the deal! I fall asleep in his class, during his lecture to my Scottish lit class AND when I am talking one on one with him. I blame his accent; it is just too soothing and lulls one to sleep.

As we wrapped our meeting up there were a serious of angry knocks at the door which officially brought our conversation to an end. I then headed over to Appleton tower to meet with my Stories ALG. Since I was early I decided to grab a table and try to get further than 40 pages into the book, I got about ten more pages in before people started to arrive. It was a rather grim meeting; two hadn’t even started the book and I plus another had only gotten a few pages in and all of us were confused. Despite our lack of information we tried to weed the answer to our questions out and when we separated we had at least a weak backbone of an answer. To try and add a bit of bulk to our questions I returned to my flat to read the spark notes version of the text before class (it was so long I didn’t even finish that before class!).

Though I didn’t really enjoy the book or finish reading it for that matter, the class was one of the more enjoyable and I even spoke intelligently in it! We primarily discussed the character of Jim and how the book’s different narrators (omniscient in the beginning and Marlow for the rest) represent him. We also compared it to Heart of Darkness and discussed the sense of imperialism in the text (primarily personal). It seemed a rather odd text to choose for this class because more than an imperialist romance it is an exploration into the dilemmas of conscience, moral isolation, loyalty and betrayal confronting a sensitive individual whose romantic quest for an honourable ideal are tested to the limit (so explains the synopsis of the book on the back cover, that is the clearest part of the entire book). The book was primarily a difficult text to read because it jumps from the past to the future to the past and it’s really hard to follow.

Friday: Missing Teacher! So today when in my 1:05 Scottish Literature class the professor didn’t show up. It took all of us about fifteen minutes to realize that there was no lecturer and though we kept discussing getting up and leaving none of us actually did (we are in the prime of our lives and are still afraid to leave a class when the lecturer is twenty minutes late). Finally someone ran up to the first floor of David Hume Tower and within five minutes he returned with a woman behind him who informed us that they can’t find our professor so class was cancelled. Rather bizarre set of circumstances really. But instead of doing what I should’ve done and gone to the gym I did what I shouldn’t be allowed to do and headed down to Cowgate to my favourite used bookstore and spent ten pounds on five books (Bridget Jones’s Diary The Edge of Reason,  The Turn of the Screw, Allan Quatermain –sequel to King Solomon’s Mines-, and an old version of King Solomon’s Mines based on the original text – I LOVE old books, the oldest one I have is from the 1920s, I hope to someday have an original Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edinburgh is not the right place to look for such a book).

I then came home and have since been completely unproductive! Though I did start an application at the Study Abroad office at my home institute, it would be so awesome if I got that job! Hmmm, how unfortunate today has proven to be rather dull, minus the missing professor. The weather has been lovely with spots of sunshiny warmth which was then blown away by the cold wind which brought with it dark cold clouds; typical Edinburgh weather.

Ugh, so in the last week I have probably tripped five or more times on the cobblestone and uneven pavement. There really should be a warning ‘Danger foot may get caught in cobblestone gap or uneven pavement causing you to trip and fall on your face, fool’. Though perhaps if I took my nose out of the air and watched where I was going then I probably wouldn’t trip so much.

So my plan for this weekend is to get an outline done for my Stories for Boys essay so that when I hopefully meet with my professor on Tuesday I can make sure I am on the right track and then come back and just write the darn thing. Though I really feel like there just isn’t enough time, too bad I can’t give up sleep.

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