End of transmission. <3

Three years ago today, my life was an exciting thing. God only knew what I would be doing the following September, but I had all my money on a flight to England to start a degree at a university I had found through the internet and had yet to see in person. I was working full time at World Market and hanging out with all of my friends from home – the only friends I had at that time in my life – turning green hearing their stories of how amazing their first year of college had been. I had my chance at UCSB and it had failed miserably under the pressures of homesickness and loneliness, and I was in the middle of convincing everyone that going to England was a completely legitimate solution. Most people cheered me on because let’s be honest: England for uni? Why the hell not? It was Lindsay and I’s shared dream to go to London (which was then, as it is with many Americans, synonymous with England in its entirety), and for me it would provide a completely clean slate. I dreamed up scenarios in which I, the cool Californian foreigner, made legions of very English friends, and proceeded to rock the world of creative writing and have the unquestionable time of my life.

I was still about a month shy of having made this blog, but I blame that on my late loan approval and thus my late finalization of my plans. It would be a bit too cheeky to make a blog about my transatlantic travels before I’d even booked my flight, so I left it till August 21st . That would make this blog just about a month shy of its third birthday. And what a three years it has been.

At this point I cannot count the number of times I have said it: coming here was the best decision I ever made in my life. I not only realized a dream but I discovered so many things about myself and grew and matured so much as a person that I cannot imagine where any other path in life would have taken me. Central to that is the fact that here I met that glorious legion of English friends that I will have until the day I die. Even better, I managed to find love and friendship among a few of the nationalities I left out of my daydreaming – Australians, Lithuanians, and last but never least, opinionated, sassy, and beloved fellow Americans. One of UEA’s many gifts to me over the years: tossing me into literally the most loving, embracing, hilarious, and beautiful flat a girl 5,000 miles from home could ask for.

My love of these fantastic people has spread beyond that flat – that amazing, badly painted, wonderfully staffed flat. Our love and friendship has crossed oceans on numerous occasions, spanned hours and hours of Skype calls, seen us through hardship, and been frozen forever in the overly-captioned photos of Facebook. Never have I been more happy to live in a time where distance has such a relatively little effect on friendship. Feelings and longings and words and smiles that were once relegated to the slow confines of paper mail now zip instantly across wires and through skies. Many people decry this as the sign of a superficial generation, one that does not understand the meaning behind letters – and while I understand where any such person is coming from, I have to disagree. There is still something so amazing about getting a letter in the mail, but I will never pretend I am ungrateful for the technology that lets me stay so close with people I love that are miles and miles from my heart.

Those people saw me through so much, just in that first year alone. We have had more nights out than I can remember, and even more wonderful chats over teas, chocolates, chips, and tears. From the moment I woke up in the morning I was surrounded by the best of friends, and that is a blessing I could not have loved more. All-nighters at the library, picnics on the field, flat dinner after flat dinner after wonderful flat dinner – these people welcomed me both into their hearts and many of them their homes as well, and for that, I could not be more thankful. Your amazing friendship is something I know I will love for a lifetime.

Sometimes, and usually unexpectedly, the appreciation and friendship can grow into so much more, and anyone that knows me can tell you that while there certainly was a hell of a lot of the growing, eventually that happened for me over here as well. There is one particular Lithuanian who without, these three years would have been entirely different. You know who you are, and I hope at this point how much I love you as well.

It would be wrong of me to suggest all of the magic of these past three years had only to do with this side of the Atlantic, so I will say it loud and clear: my family and my friends from home have been the most incredible support system I could possibly have asked for. There was never a moment where I had a concern I could not call home with, never a time I would hesitate to dial a three-digit area code and the short, sweet American phone numbers I appreciate on an entirely new level after three years of eleven-digit monstrosities. California will always be home for me, and to the people hopefully sleeping there as I type this: I hope you know how much you mean to me, how much I love you, and how excited I am to fly back and spend what’s left of this summer doing absolutely nothing with you in the too-hot sunshine.

One person that I know is not sleeping, and that I cannot help but mention, is my mom. She is undoubtedly one of the most amazing people I know, and I could not possibly be more thankful to have such a wonderful woman in my life. She is, plainly, the reason I am here. Were it not for her unabashed love of England, her unending fascination with all things Anglo-Medieval, her wonderful friendship with our friends here in Norwich, I would not be here. She raised me right with a cup of tea every morning and while she didn’t know it, that slow, gradually indoctrinated English love became a part of who I am. Not only that, but my mom believed in me from the start. The second I called her up to my room one day in January, made her promise not to think I was crazy, and told her I’d applied to UEA in secret, her face broke into a smile and she hugged me with an encouragement that has yet to flag three years on. Just over a week from now she’ll be sitting next to my dad watching me graduate, and I know that encouragement – which, contagious as it was, did eventually spread to my dad as well –  will be shining bright in her eyes just as strong.

I am a lucky, lucky girl. I am so remarkably blessed that at times it astounds me. Today, writing this, is one of those times. After so many memories and so many smiles have been recorded on here to share with my friends both here and abroad, I could hardly let it dwindle and dry up with a literary rant as its final contribution to the never-ending internet. So I find myself here, trying to put together a semblance of a giant thank you – one that will touch on those memories just enough to be happy and not too much to cry – so that this silly website stands as a fitting tribute for what I experienced here. I really hope I’ve done it justice.

 

Thank you so much, readers both dedicated and dwindling, for checking back every once and a while. I love each and every one of you as well. July 22nd I leave home for home, and begin the next chapter in my life. Maybe, if you all are lucky enough, that’ll mean the start of the next blog as well.

Love and miss,

 

Kathy

xxx

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A rant – I’m officially one of the masses.

(I should note, here, that this rant is somewhat fuelled by an on-going struggle I have with the “intelligent” reading and writing community’s constant aversion to fantasy. Be warned.)

I love George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Some of you know that, some of you don’t, but regardless, that’s the case. Last night, the first episode of Game of Thrones (HBO’s television adaptation of the series) premièred.  Three days earlier, Ginia Bellafante over at the New York Times decided to write a review about it, and like every geeked out girl on the internet, I’m freaking the fuck out over what she wrote. Why? In short, because her review is ludicrous. Ludicrously BAD.

I am not going to even attempt paraphrasing. Even with a mouthful of sarcasm I can’t capture the mind-blowingly irritating words from this review:

In a sense the series, which will span 10 episodes, ought to come with a warning like, “If you can’t count cards, please return to reruns of ‘Sex and the City.’

…The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

…When the network ventures away from its instincts for real-world sociology, as it has with the vampire saga “True Blood,” things start to feel cheap, and we feel as though we have been placed in the hands of cheaters. “Game of Thrones” serves up a lot of confusion in the name of no larger or really relevant idea beyond sketchily fleshed-out notions that war is ugly, families are insidious and power is hot. If you are not averse to the Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic, the series might be worth the effort. If you are nearly anyone else, you will hunger for HBO to get back to the business of languages for which we already have a dictionary.

Can you see? Can you see why I’m not even sure where to begin here? How about Bellafante’s complete ignorance regarding the female fantasy fan-base. I know I’m a creative writer, and that coming up with intelligent responses is the one thing I am supposed to be good for, but honestly, all I feel like responding with is: What the hell, Ginia?  Because I have tits, my reading selection is limited to Candace Bushnell novels and romance? I enjoy chick lit. I’m not about to lie about that. It’s great for when you just need something easy, something fun, to escape from the trials and annoyances and bill paying of the real world. I read those books for the escapism, not for the sex.

Bellafante’s assumption that GRRM’s books (and to follow, the television series) are too heavy to interest women, and that it is only some tossed in “illicitness” that would make any woman want to read them, is not only ridiculous, it’s insulting. Just because Game of Thrones requires a bit of thought to follow the characters and the intrigue doesn’t mean I’m going to get bored until I see some fucking on the screen. In fact, if we’re going with overtired clichés, I thought it was men that needed the sex factor?

Then we have the final quote.

This massive misconception (or preconception, really) that people like Bellafante have regarding fantasy drives me insane. Fantasy is not dumbed down. It is not useless and it is not unintelligent. It may not be your genre of choice, but that does not mean it is without the numerous qualities any well-written fiction has in supply. I have read few books that have the character development, the plot intricacy, and most importantly, the constant thrill of GRRM’s books. Westeros may not be a real place, but it confronts the reader with real, interesting problems – and honestly, I don’t care that they may not entirely be relevant to me (really, even in the realism world, how many realist books have you ever read that truly applied to you?). Suggesting that it is impossible for a fantasy world to tackle “real-world sociology” as Bellafante does is absurd. Metaphor, allegory, symbolism – there’s an entire range of literary techniques dedicated to the practice of saying something without actually coming out and saying it. Look at as broad an example as Shakespeare. I had an entire lecture in my second year on Shakespeare’s use of the historical genre to make valid points regarding the politics of the time without getting himself into any libellous trouble, and every word the man has written is now worshipped as a classic.

Okay, so I’ve digressed. I’m not trying to suggest that every fantasy novel ever written has a hidden metaphorical agenda, or that it should in order to be important. Equally, fantasy can be without all of the above. It can be pure escapism, and there is NOTHING wrong with that. And in that sense, that is the part of the review that really gets me. There are countless aspects of Bellafante’s review that irritate me, but what I take beef with the most is her suggestion that a book (and the television series) need have some goal, some ultimate lesson, in order for it to be valid or distinguished. This is the problem I have with cannonical literature in its entirety. This vague idea of importance is what so many intellectuals use to completely write fantasy off. I took a contemporary fiction class and in the first seminar, we were asked for our names and favorite authors. God forbid you utter Tolkein, GRRM, or Rowling – fantasy fed to masses is apparently a “guilty” pleasure in the literature world. Wanting to write it? Even worse. When I read Bellafante’s review, which clearly had this fantasty-is-sub-literature point of view, it rekindled every frustration I’ve had with reading and writing and my course over the past three years – hence the overblown, 1100 word reaction.

Anyway. This rant isn’t the most well-written (there are certainly better out there – just Google the review and you’ll find plenty), but I honestly could not stop myself from at least attempting a go after reading that NY Times review. I’ll end with this: give Game of Thrones a shot. It’s amazing. I love it, and I’m a woman. And while apparently according to Ginia Bellafante that makes me a pretty fucking rare individual, I think you’ll find most viewers agree with me.

Before & After

We have suffered through an unfairly cold winter – snow, rain, the monotony of endless overcast skies – but after a day like this one, you remember why it’s worth it.

Today was phenomenal. I spent over an hour in the Square soaking up the sunshine and blue sky in a flowery sundress and flip-flops, with no room on either side of me because so many students had the same lazy agenda. If you couldn’t tell from the blue sky, the sudden surplus of empty Coronas in the trash would have given it away, and since nearly last August I broke a sweat just from sitting in the sun. It was glorious, and I’ve got the photos to prove it (including one of me, looking slightly nekkid and big-nosed, and one of my delicious smoothie and the flowers I was seated next to):

Great weather makes everything better. My MA application (both, in fact) may be stuck in academic reference purgatory for the fifth week running, but I wore sandals and sunglasses today so it doesn’t really matter. I essentially have no clue what the next year holds, but this moment is so perfect I don’t really care. Maybe my nonchalance will be my undoing, but as far as I’m considered, at least I’ll go down happy, and can you really ask for more than that?

I’m currently on a Lenten diet, and having indulged in a bit of trifle last night that narrowly elluded my rule list (no cookies, cakes, candy, chocolate, fried food, takeaway, or meat), I’m feeling pretty good about it. Meat is on the list not for ethical reasons, but rather as a personal exercise in both curiosity and control (also, I got  sick off nasty bacon just as Lent started and it pretty effectively put me off the stuff so I figured what the hell? let’s be vegetarian!). So far so good, though I certainly have been consuming more Quorn and yogurt than usual. Yogurt is possibly my favorite food on the planet at the moment. I swear I consumer nearly a quart of the stuff a day.

Bizarrely enough, my Lenten fare has induced a certain amount of nostalgia, for two reasons. In my time at uni, I have never been a particularly great grocery shopper. What I don’t eat at work I pick up from either the co-op down the road, the artisan bakery a few doors over, or the chippy across the street. Being a temporary vegetarian and a pseudo-health nut has required a certain amount of planning, however, and planning inevitably means grocery shopping. Wandering the aisles of Sainsburys I couldn’t help remembering when I was younger and, fresh from a day in school, would leap bright-eyed at the opportunity to go grocery shopping with my mom.

When you’re a kid, a grocery store is a beautiful thing, full of fruitsnacks, cookies, and all sorts of lunchables that can be easily snuck into the cart. I would have the greatest time perusing the aisles of Raleys with my mom, helping her pick out dinner and – if I was lucky – grabbing a box-kit for my FAVORITE (and unfairly delicious) Oreo cake dessert. I’d get to chat about my day and my mom would let me pick a treat for my lunches, and she’d ask my opinions on certain foods to see which me and my sisters would like more. My adult self looks back and wishes I’d taken notes on how to actually buy necessities and shop for a full week, but then my nostalgia takes over again and I just wish I was ten.

The other unexpected memory conjured up by my Lent diet revolves around Grape Nuts – possibly THE most underrated breakfast cereal in the world. Besides a marketing campaign nearly entirely based around the crunchiness of the cereal, most people have probably never given it a second thought. I, however, was exposed to the glory of Grape Nuts at a young age.

Throughout my life I’ve been close with both sets of grandparents, but at a young age, I was closest with my maternal grandmother. Her husband, my Grandpa P, was a bit hard of hearing and slightly more involved with watching baseball on the television than taking me and my sisters to Adventureland. This isn’t to say in any way he was less loving – just, shall we say, a little less expressive. Despite this, I have this incredibly vivid memory of sitting with him at the kitchen table at their condo, surrounded by beige and that very particular smell their condo had, watching him eat breakfast. I couldn’t have been very old when I watched him, but I will never forget that he would have Grape Nuts with sliced bananas and that I thought it was the strangest cereal in the world. Little did I know, at age six-ish, that Grape Nuts was God’s cereal-form gift to man and that my Grandpa P was a genius for putting bananas in it. Now, at age twenty-two, I can fully appreciate his wisdom, and I think of him every time I pour a bowlful.

At this point I think it’s fair to note that I wrote the above portion of this post earlier in the day. Now, with some just wonderful fresh news at hand, I’m going to make my “maybe my nonchalance will be my undoing” spiel a little too close to the mark for comfort. Essentially, the UK government has decided to scrap the post-study work visa I was planning on applying for directly after my graduation as of April 2012. This wouldn’t be such a big deal, except for two things: one, I’ve been seriously considering and am now quite sure I’d like to go for my masters next year rather than join the workforce, and two, even if I still wanted the post-study work visa right now, I don’t have the new, nearly £600 fee required upon application. So basically, if I get my MA here, it’s a guaranteed extra year, but then I am quite possibly going to be forced to leave the UK after I graduate if I’m unable to find a professional sponsor to hire me. Or I can ditch the idea of getting my masters (which upsets me at this point, because I’ve decided I really want one) and just join the workforce (after coming up with £600, that is).

When I found all of this out a few hours ago, I couldn’t help but think of the notebook in my bag, the above blog post sitting freshly written and blithely naive regarding my entire future, which has now been slightly shot to shambles. I sat down twenty minutes ago to type it up and wasn’t sure if I should even bother; a black mood and pajamas have replaced the cheer and sundress of this afternoon, so it did seem a bit inappropriate. I have, however, decided to take it all with a salty grain of karma – maybe I saw this coming, and before it all set in, fortuitously had a moment of clarity in which I could say: fuck the system, the world is beautiful, I am not going to let my problems get to me. And frankly, I think that’s a fantastic idea to run with.

Beginnings.

I know I look ridiculous, I know you can hardly seen him, but below in his be-stickered glory is Konsuke, my old laptop:

Now if you know anything about me you know I have a penchant for naming important electronic objects in my life. My phones have ranged from Horatio to Joben, my old ipod I fondly called Jimmy, and my briefly previous laptop was named Charlemagne. Never, though, have any of these come close in status to Konsuke, my Sony Vaio that carried me gloriously from my freshman year of high school through to Thanksgiving of 2009. Konsuke was the first electronic thing I ever named and he will always stand out as the best.

I have never not had a computer. First I shared the family computer back in the early 90’s when we had a Gateway as tall as I was, and in the later 90’s I got my own PC, a monstrously slow but cheap Compaq that forever doomed my faith in the brand. In 2000 I got a Vaio PC, and in 2003 my childhood dream was fulfilled and I became the first of my friends to own a laptop. I’ll never forget the experience: hopping in the car with my dad for the special trip down to Fry’s, spending ages walking up and down the aisles of laptops scrutinizing each one because for the first time, I would actually get to take one home. I couldn’t count the number of times I’d enviously wandered down the aisles typing on the keyboards, just dorkily savoring the smooth clicks of the flat buttons. After hours of talking and speculating we settled on a silver K Series Sony Vaio. My dad paid $2200 for that laptop – admittedly, I was a lucky, spoiled kid. But of all of the gifts I received in my childhood, never did I appreciate one more.

Right now I’m looking into getting a new laptop. I’m not quite sure which I’ll be getting, but I know two things: it’ll be a Sony Vaio, and it will be more than fours times as capable as Konsuke, but cost less than a third of the price. That technology can advance that much astounds me. I was considering the other day that had you handed me my current HTC Hero when I was a ten year-old obsessed with Harriet the Spy and told me in twelve years it would be my phone, I would have told you you were crazy. Imagining where the next twelve years will go is almost something I’d rather not think about. Regardless – new times, new technology, and right now, that means a new laptop.

For me, this is a huge deal. It’s where all of my writing will happen. I’m not going to pretend I do much important writing; 90% of the time it will never see the light of day. But recently I’ve been talking with some course friends about writing and it’s brought a lot to my mind about what I write. The creative writing course I’ve taken at UEA has its roots firmly planted in the grounds of realism – if you want to veer into anything vaguely fantasy and retain a semblance of importance, then you better be writing something dystopian. Genre fiction, though? If you listened to them, they’d tell you realism is where it’s at. Maybe that’s true for some writers, but that’s not how I break it down. There’s a time and a place, and the Booker prize can keep its gloomy, monotonous, over-critiqued contenders. I’ll take Tamora Pierce, Kristen Britain, and George R. R. Martin any day.

In a way it feels like a massively frustrating cycle: I came to UEA loving fantasy and wanting to write fantasy, I spent two and a half years trying to break successfully into realism, and now with less than half a term left, I realize I’m back where I started in my love affair with fantasy. I’ve gone through so many phases here, imagining myself fitting all sorts of authorial stereotypes. I had my many piercings which I fancied made me edgy. I chopped all of my hair off to be different (though to be fair, it did look horrendous when it was long and the pixie cut is an inarguable improvement). I dressed how I thought English people imagined Californians dressed, then I bought leggings and high-waisted skirts because I wanted to seem English. Don’t get me wrong – I loved doing every single one of those things. I’ve never seen the problem with wanting to dress like a bit of a cliché; honestly, I think it’s what lots of people are trying to do and they just never admit it. It’s fun and that’s what I wanted. But more than that, I thought it all somehow had an effect on the sort of writer I had to be, as if I couldn’t write fantasy if I didn’t look the part, or the same for Booker-prize wannabe realism. I realize now though, happily, that it simply doesn’t matter how I look. I could dress like Carrie Bradshaw and it wouldn’t make me any less of a fantasy writer.

When graduation comes in four months, God only knows what I’ll be up to. I’ll have a place on the Norfolk and Norwich Festival Publicity Team under my belt, plus the nearly-three years I’ve accumulated at the Pasty Cafe, but beyond that,  my professional future is hazy. If I’m lucky I’ll have secured a place in the Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures Masters program I’ve applied to at UEA, and also somehow be lucky enough to have secured the required funding. But I’ve been waiting to keep writing and now that I’ve figured out what’s been stopping me lately, I’m ready to start again. And honestly, I feel like a new laptop – almost as if to help see me through this next part of life – is a huge part of that. Konsuke saw me through an immeasurable amount of change. Hell,  seeing me through high school alone would have been daunting enough (especially considering the pathetic lifespan of laptops these days…a topic for another day). The importance of getting a new computer may sound very vain, very dorky, or perhaps the epitome of how many older people see my generation, tied almost pathetically to the technology we’ve watched evolve faster than we’ve grown up. But I don’t care.

I’m ready for the new bits, and after having borrowed laptops and hand-me-downs ever since Thanksgiving in 2009, I am really ready for a new computer. After all, it essentially is my life. I write on it, I keep in touch with my friends on it, I keep in touch with the world on it. It’ll be like getting a new take on life, and seeing as a lot of change will be happening pretty soon here, now seems as good a time as any. I’ve got my writing sorted out, so bring it on.

And here we go!

I’m sitting cross-legged in cozy pajamas watching Sharaz play a ridiculous motorcycle and fire-pit filled game called Trials HD and I’ve decided that while I meant to write a post yesterday, now is as good a time as any. I’m going to pretend that I haven’t ignored this blog for the past year and just throw you into my life at the moment.

Lots of things are going on so I feel thrown in about a million places at once. For one, this time last week my mom was visiting from California; she arrived on Monday and stayed until Sunday morning, and it was beyond the word amazing to be able to see her. If she hadn’t been able to make the trip out, by the time I see my parents at graduation it would have been nearly a full year since I’d seen them, and that idea (which still stands for both my dad and my sisters) blows my mind. Missing someone becomes normal after a while, and you begin to forget you miss them – not in an impolite or unloving way, but in the way you get used to anything that nags you, like a small cut or a bug bite. It’s not until somebody points it out that you realize how painful it is, and now that my mom’s left, that’s how I feel. Two weeks ago I missed her inactively but now everytime I have chips or walk to Chapelfield mall I think of her. All the same, though, it was wonderful seeing her, and I wouldn’t trade her visit for the world!

That fact may or may not also have to do with the many fantastic trips we took. We spent an entire day wandering Norwich (the weather did a rather half-assed job of cooperating, but we had coats and as such survived): going through the Lanes, touring the cathedral, stopping for lunch in Tombland, & other Norwich activities. For my actual birthday, our family friends from Norwich were nice enough to drive us all out thirty minutes away to Blickling Hall, where Anne Boleyn was born. I may not have been posting on here very often, but I promise you, you have missed little-to-no travelling on my part, so that makes Blickling Hall one of the first English National Trust buildings I’ve seen, and it was fantastic! Again, the weather left a bit to be desired, but I must admit it gave the grounds a thoroughly English backdrop (mist, a bit of rain, ludicrously green fields, all against red brick and leaded glass). I shall show you a picture for effect!

Last Thursday we spent all day in Cambridge and luckily enough the sun finally pulled its thumb out and gave us a bit of blue sky and sunshine. We literally must have walked over five miles, wandering from the train station upon arrival to Kings College, across the street from our breakfast cafe, and then down to St. John’s (where we later had tea and scones!) and eventually the River Cam for a good old bit of punting.

Punting, for those that don’t know, is the Cambridge version of gondola-ing (not a verb, I know). It’s apparently a tourist must when visiting Cambridge, and seeing as we’d magically avoided the rain-showers and overcast skies of every other day that week, we shelled out the required £15 for the forty-five minute tour. Though the day got chillier as it progressed, it was all in all a wonderful day, and was especially appreciated once we saw the weather for our day of wandering in London.

London, I am quite sure at this point, hates me. I have NEVER been to London when it hasn’t rained. Every. Single. Time. Gray skies and rain. Sadly, besides a beautiful sunny ride home on the train Sunday morning, AFTER having dropped my mom at Heathrow, the weather was rainy. It rained on and off for the majority of the day, but my mom and I were fantastically determined to not let this affect our touristy agenda, and after girding ourselves with hot coffee and Krispy Kremes (which I insisted on getting as they, and any other decent semblance of a donut, are unavailable in Norwich) we hopped on the first round of our double-decker bus sight-seeing tour. After one stop of standing on the over-crowd, overly-humid first floor, we snagged a pair of seats in the coveted covered portion of the second floor and enjoyed the next hour and a half seeing all of the things you’re meant to see in London: Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, & etc. It sounds boring, but in my (rain-soaked) previous travels to London I’d never been able to see much of any of the above, so I had an amazing time. Besides, I was sitting next to my mom (who is one of the most amazing people on the planet) the entire time, so there was no way it was going to be a bad time!

We listened to the crisply-accented tour-guide for just over an hour and a half before getting off at Green Park, ready to make our way to Harrod’s for a bit of walking and copious amounts of window-shopping. We eventually made our way there (though not before being told by a French-accented man at the Ritz that we couldn’t take a peak at the famous tea room because I was wearing jeans) and quickly found ourselves lost among runway fashions, an endless gourmet food department, and the massive Egyptian Escalator (because even escalators get the fancy treatment at a place like Harrod’s). My mom and I decided most of the restaurants were a bit ridiculous in the price department, but we found a middle-ground cafe that suited perfectly and had lunch there. My mom had an iced coffee that, I swear, tasted of absolute roasted perfection. I would give my left hand to wake up to one of those iced coffees every morning.

After lunch we did a bit more Harrod’s-ing (you could literally spent a week in Harrod’s and still not know your way around) and then left off for Picadilly Circus so we could find the Comedy Theatre, where we had tickets booked to see The Children’s Hour. This particular play, which is by no means light-hearted, I picked for its cast: Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Moss, and Tobias Menzies (Brutus in Rome!!). If I’d been thinking at all I’d have picked something much happier for my mom’s last night in town, but alas, I was a bit starstruck and booked The Children’s Hour anyway. The play itself was amazing, though there was a young girl starring in it that acted a bit like a psychopath (so much so that by the end you certainly wanted her to get what she deserved, so I guess she did a good job!). I would definitely recommend it, as long as you don’t have plans the next morning to drop your mom off at the airport and then spend the next four hours alone on a journey home reading Never Let Me Go, yet another hardly uplifting story. But I highly doubt any of you would find yourself in such circumstances.

Weather, lack of sleep, and over-spending included, it was such an amazing six days that I can’t believe it’s already over and that now I have to wait another four months before I can see my mom again. But! It made me realize not for the first time how lucky I am to both have such an amazing, happy, generous, and loving mother and that she is not only all of those things, but also so in love with England that somehow it resulted in me living here!

On the note of living here, you might be wondering how much longer that’ll be going on for. Well, unless the government says no, I plan on living here for at least another year. I might be getting an MA at UEA (either in Creative Writing or Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures – I won’t be hearing back for another month or so probably), or I might be working – who knows. Either way, I think it’s fair to say that my near future is definitely Norwich-bound!

Sharaz has at this point moved on to Black Ops, so I think I might head off to bed. But I do feel that much better about myself having thrown 1300 words out into the ‘net, so I hope you enjoy!

Get ready.

Once a week. Starting Now. (But really in about half an hour).

Get ready.

Oh, what a gooood question!

It is freezing, it is no longer snowing, it is nearly 2 AM, and it is not bedtime yet. Nope, I have another hour or two – at best. Either that, or I play a bit of hookey in the morning and dedicate my time to my dissertation instead of my seminar. I wouldn’t really mind doing that, except that those three hours every Thursday morning are the only in-class time I have every week this term…so effectively, I’d be ditching the whole week. Feels a bit like I’m disappointing the system – or, at least, my amazing seminar teacher. Which makes me feel incredibly guilty. Aaaanyway. In an effort to not be a complete liar, I’m going to bore the lot of you (hello tiny readership!) with a brief introduction to my dissertation, as promised in my last life-changing post.

As a creative writing student, I have the massive perk of being able to look at the research-paper dissertation option for my major and go, “fuuuuuuuck that!”. I then promptly get to turn around and write a story. Or a collection of poems. Or a screenplay. Or an abstract doodley-bob about the little people that live on the toes of a frog. Essentially, as long as you shoot out 6000 words and a bonus 2000 of critical self-commentary, it counts. Such is the power of creativity. I myself, though highly attracted to the idea of writing a lengthy abstract doodley-bob, decided to write a short story of the history fiction variety. Subject matter: Aphra Behn, kickass Restoration playwright who, aside from being besties with Nell Gwyn (part-time actress, part-time Charlie II’s ho) and a contemporary of some of the most epic libertines ever (orgy tree anyone?), was also a spy. And funny. And the first female to make a living out of writing. Essentially, if you’re not at this point in the description going HELL YES, this woman sounds awesome, you’re crayzeh.

What I have decided to try and do is write a short story that spans two eras, creates a fictional background for one of Behn’s poems, captures a bit of Behn’s pre-polished spirit, and says a bit about how important/unimportant (or, as my advisor would say, “reductive”) autobiographical readings of literature are. All in 6000 words! I am, in phases, excited, paralyzed in fear, intrigued, motivated, and confused about the entire venture. I currently have one month and fifteen days to finish it, which sounds like a long time. However, anyone who has ever had to flirt with a deadline before knows that no matter what I do, January 15th will basically be here tomorrow. That thought, my friends, is a scary one.

On a slightly less scary note, I will not be coming home for Christmas this year. I shall be going to Lithuania! My goal is to, by the time Sharaz and I leave, be able to say a handful of things pretty accurately in Lithuanian. Otherwise, I’ll basically just spend all ten days talking to him. It’s not that that’s a bad thing, but you know, I figure that the more Lithuanian I try to speak, the more chance I have of failing, and what better for Kathy’s story-telling than foreign failings?

One thing that definitely is not fail, though, is the company of Maggie McBride, especially when combined (for one night, and one night only!) with the presence of Laura Wells. Needless to say, though I was basically the most fail travel partner ever for dearest Maggie, the last ten days have been a whirlwind of crazyawesome.

Today I had the fun experience of attending my third photoshoot at UEA. My first one was a year ago this month, when I first posed for my photo as the American student ambassador for the UEA website (click the ambassador tab!). The second would be a slightly artsy-er promotional photoshoot which included costumes changes and posing! (It was quite fun. And I got paid!) Today’s photoshoot was basically the same as last year’s, only now I’ll have a shiny new photo for the website, hopefully sometime soon complete with a new typo-less testimonial! (For the record, I did not have typos in the testimonial I submitted. Those are the errors of the paper-to-web typist. Fail!) You should all check out the current one and laugh, then look at it again in a week or so and hopefully BAM! It will be all fresh and so clean, clean.

This has been a bit of a sporadic post, I admit. Unfortunately, I can do no better at what is now 2.20 in the morning, when really I should be adding another 1500 words to my dissertation.

Crapfully crapfully,

Transatlantic Kathy.

PS. Since there definitely were not enough comma’s in this post, have another handful: , , , , , , , , , ,


trans-tweets

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photo cred to myself and Maggie J. Moxie