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Showing posts from 2016

The Big Smoke: A Little Pilgrimage

Three weeks ago I began an MA in The Contemporary at the University of Kent, in Canterbury. I was somewhat familiar with the place prior to arriving, having applied here at undergraduate level and attended two open days (one of which was where I met one of my closest friends, Jess), and also visited said friend (who I now live with) (weird.) Nevertheless, the new place with new people and new reading lists have kind of kept me bogged down.

Admittedly, I was so scared and shy to begin with. It all felt very alien to me (even my own shyness, since I'm not usually very shy - or if I am, I manage to hide it well) and after my first seminar I felt very, very out of my depth. I had to sit and breathe and think "can I actually do this?"

Turns out this is completely normal. Not only did most other people feel like this, my first seminar was massively hindered by the fact I was so ill with the infamous Freshers' Flu so I didn't feel very alive and with it. And for some fe…

The Mad Panic

Today is one of those days. One of those days where everything feels like its piled fifty billion feet high and you're kind of wedged under it all and can't really breathe and breathe, Claire. Breathe.

I graduate on Wednesday, move to Kent on Thursday. That's plenty of time away, right?

Being in your twenties is troped so much on the internet; we all feel like headless chickens and we all have no clue what the heck we're doing. Which, on a normal, not mad-panic day, is completely fine. But today I'm feeling incredibly stressed and overwhelmed.

That's okay, though. 

The other day, my lovely lovely friend Anna posted this post, hearkening back to her fourteen year old self and giving her some sage advice. Not only did I relate to so much of what she wrote about her teenage worries and fears, but it was so accurate for how I feel now.

In a bittersweet way, I feel very much like Electra Brown from the wonderful Helen Bailey's teen book series. I feel completely …

Graduate Life: A Story of Sleep

Since completing my undergraduate degree, my brain has suffered what I can only describe as a creative slump. I haven't really been able to focus on reading, or writing, or anything other than sleeping. (Honestly, I have slept so much, and still feel like I need to sleep for another year.)

To do lists have been made, jobs have been applied for, forms have been filled out (I'm officially going to be a student at the University of Kent in September, studying The Contemporary!) (yay!), and partying has happened.

I'm now 21 years old, I work at Betty's, and I cannot seem to get through a book anywhere near as fast as I used to. I don't often suffer reading slumps, but when I do, they are The Worst. Don't get me wrong, I've bought plenty of books, but I haven't felt any spark of desire to read them. Which is so unlike me. It could really be to do with the fact that I am currently working 27 hours a week, and proofreading 200-300 page novels every week. Mayb…

A Week of Celebrations

My day has gone as follows: me, waking up in a panic that I'd missed my train (and subsequently the release of my results). Me, eating a bacon sandwich happily with a couple of my flatmates feeling good about life. Me, realising it was half an hour until results were released. Me, nearly throwing up on the train. Me, getting said results.

All of the above have lead me to be sitting on my connection train with a small tipple I bought from Starbucks. Now, I'm not one of randomly deciding to drink at midday but today calls for it. Not only do I turn 21 tomorrow (eek), but I have just found out my uni results (double eek), and can confirm my place at the Uni of Kent (triple eek with cherries on top).

I am so, so proud of myself and my wonderful, brilliant, smart, and incredibly hard working friends. We have spent the large majority of our lives working towards grades and for all of us to have done so well is just fantastic. What's more, I simply could not have done it without…

The Sense of an Ending

It was only apt that I wrote my last ever blog post as an undergraduate English student and titled it with a book title. Tomorrow I sit my final exam of my degree; after this I will be in a perpetually reading/drunken stupor for two weeks before I start working. Life is good.

Remembering back to finishing first and second year, this ending feels weird. Some people I'll never see again in person, and others I will cling to like limpets. Everyone seems to be blindly going forth into their own adventures (be they big or small) and I think that's incredible; we've all grown from these gawky English students to adults (ish) (pretending to be) (we're not adults, noooooooo) who have a voice.

If I think back to myself when I was a meek and mild barely-eighteen year old, I chuckle. I was so blissfully unaware, so clueless, and not all that happy. It's taken me three years but I think I'm finally at a place where I feel relatively less like a headless chicken and more li…

10 books I'm looking forward to reading in Summer 2016

Over the past three years of my undergraduate English degree I have culminated a somewhat small (read: large) collection of unread books. Gathered on my multiple trips to the two Waterstones in Lincoln (1 and 2), Lindum Books, and various charity shop raids, these books have lay relatively dormant on my bookshelves at home and university.

Here are 10 of the masses that I'm most looking forward to delving into this summer:

1) The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss; the sequel to the incredible The Name of The Wind, this hefty tome promises to enchant just as much as it's former friend. I've had this for about a year now, but haven't had the time to delve into it's 600 or so pages. I cannot wait!

2) I am Malala: The Girl who stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai; One of the first books I bought when I started working at Waterstones in 2014, Yousafzai's story is one that I've been meaning to read for such a long time.


Down the rabbit hole...

Alice Liddell has always had a soft spot in my heart, so when I started this blog I immediately reached for my Alice references, and for a long time "down the rabbit hole" was my tagline. However, I don't think I've truly felt like I was hurtling head-long into a black pit until now.

People mythologise your twenties; for some, it's the epitome of youth - you're free, and life is full of opportunities; for others, it's the slow-sludgy-bit until your real life starts. Since I'm only a year in (I sound young...) I can't quite tell where I'm at (I feel like I'm at a happy medium), but I do know that being this age is a rabbit warren and you don't quite know where you're going to end up next.

We get our dissertation marks back, and it's out last lecture this week on our course, so our undergraduate degree is coming to a fruition. It's been one hell of a journey. I'm just not quite sure whether I want to take the leap down th…

This City is my City

Walking to campus the other day, it hit me that very soon I will be leaving. Lincoln has been my home from home for the last three years, and now my brain decides to fall in love with it? We've had a bit of a love/hate relationship, Lincoln and I. First year, I was too ill to really contemplate how beautiful it was, second year I was too busy hating being here, and third year has been a blur.

But, I can't help but reflect on the fact that this place has shaped me as a person and become a massive part of my identity since moving here in 2013. Lincoln isn't all that big, but it provided me with enough running space to explore, to hide, and to delve into the nooks and crannies to find many a gem. These places will particularly have a soft spot in my heart, and are my haunts, as such:

Thomas2, Broadgate; this cafe has the closest place in my heart. I am pretty sure I am known as 'gluten free bacon sandwich weird lonely book girl' in there, since for the majority of seco…

The Final Push: Part 2

To my fellow third years, I salute you. We are coming to the top of a mountain, from which the views will be amazing. And we will make it.

Right now, I am sitting waiting to pre-drink with my friends because it's been one of our flat mates 21st this week. And boy am I looking forward to dancing; it's been too long. However, I am also flat out panicking (along with everyone else) about my approaching dissertation deadline, the jobs I've applied to, my lack of saving, my ten billion other essays and books I have to approach come tomorrow morning.

The words may seem hard, the nights may seem long, but we can do this. We can.

The Final Push: Part 1

I've been home this weekend because I have a check up up at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesborough on Tuesday, and I've had the enormous pleasure of meeting my first (second?) cousin once (twice?) removed, Olive Rose. She was the tiniest little human, and made me feel all squirmy about how we go from being that to these big gangly things.

Technically, I am meant to be entering the "real world" soon. I've spent half the weekend applying to jobs, the other quarter saying goodbye to my best friend who's moving down to London, and the final quarter feeling bad about not doing as much work as I have done. All that stands between me and my dissertation hand in now is one weekend. ONE. Where has that time gone?

I will say that I honestly have enjoyed writing my dissertation; the topic has really interested me, and has opened up some areas of study that I'd really like to pursue during my Masters. It's only been this past week, doing an Applicant Da…

Orphan Black: Nature vs Nurture

This post will be discussing the Temple Street Productions, BBC America, and Bell Media series Orphan Black, seasons 1-2. If you haven't watched them, and don't want to be spoiled, stop here and go watch them. You won't be disappointed. 

A couple of weeks ago my dear, dear friend Gemma came to visit me for the day at University. We wandered the hallowed halls (i.e. drank coffee in my favourite haunt Coffee Aroma), browsed the charity shops, and discussed all things geek: from DS to Orphan Black to comics. Genuinely, it was such a lovely day (please come back soon, Gem!) and one of the things I promised I would do, is upon departing, I would begin watching Orphan Black. Every now and then this show had popped up on my Netflix screen and I thought "ooh, maybe", but I never clicked the play button (admittedly, largely because I was usually distracted by the pile of 8+ books currently residing on my desk.)

A couple of weeks ago, I finally did click that play button a…

The Curse of the Blank Page

Picture this: you're a student, or professional faced with writing a large piece of writing. You open a blank document and sit. Your brain ticks. You ponder. Your eyes wander. To your left is a pile of unsorted notes. Your eyes flicker back to the screen. Back to the pile. This happens a number of times before your hands lift from the keyboard, betraying your deadline, and fall on the pile. Pile: now, essay: later.

[I started writing this post 20 days ago; a prime example of the Evil Blank Page.]

Some call it writer's block, others call it chronic procrastination, but what it comes down to is sitting down, with these thoughts in your head and figuring out how the heck you're going to translate them to paper.

I helped at an applicant day today and what struck my the most was that three years ago, I was in the exact same position - scared, quiet, and quite honestly a little bit lost! When I wrote those first words of my final year dissertation back in October, it took me a wh…

15 Books of 2015

Every year I list ## number of books that have made an impression on me in 20##. This year I read a total of 114 books, the most I've ever read in a year since I started recording this. That's 35,909 pages that I have consumed, hour after hour, day after day. And, boy, there's been some good'uns.

1. When Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis by Helen Bailey
2. Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
4. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
5. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
6. The Storied Life of A J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
8. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
9. How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
10. The Time Inbetween by Nancy Tucker
11. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
12. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
13. The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
14. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
15. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles