Disruption

So it’s Friday, getting on into the evening here in London, and I don’t have a blog post.  There is a good reason for this, as my internet was out most of the day and I was attempting to fix it, something I have finally achieved my tricking Blue Yonder into thinking my router is in fact my cable modem. This would have been no problem at all for someone who has experience with cable modems, but that I ain’t.

What I’d planned to write today was a hopefully amusing article on newspapers here in the UK, specifically a few operating in London.  I know that sounds about as exciting as a box of twine, or probably less so, but the way in which newspapers unabashedly take political sides in this country fascinates me.  I don’t blog about politics because it’s not a good way to make friends, plus I’m generally apathetic to the whole business, but it’s also interesting for me to see how different sides here view our sides back home; plus, something really hilarious (to me, anyway) popped up in the Evening Standard a few nights ago, so if I get time maybe I’ll do a mid-week update, or just save it for next Friday.  Usually I’d just write it tomorrow, but as it happens I’ll be going to Stratford-upon-Avon to meet up with some people, so blogging then is shot, but HEY, it’s Stratford so who cares.

I suppose I can rattle off a few words about my classes.  I have a history of photography class that, while not a roller coaster ride, keeps me interested because I like tracing the development and evolutions of artforms.  I also have a class on British culture, which seems like a general history/sociology blend and should be pretty easygoing.  By far my least favorite class deals with social welfare issues and their history here in the UK; I don’t dislike the class because I dislike social welfare, but I dislike it because it is run by breaking us up into small groups and having us discuss various problems (eg, multiculturalism) and then bringing the class back together to get some common points.  I’d much prefer a straight lecture-style class because as I see it this discussion is completely useless — for instance, we were most recently told to discuss the perception of the word ‘welfare’ in America.  I don’t know about you, but it’s blatantly obvious where this is going to go: every group will say that welfare has a negative connotation.

Well, they did.  After like half an hour of dicussion.

So then the prof told us — surprise! — that in the UK ‘welfare’ has a different shade of meaning, one encompassing basic public services such as ambulances and education, and is not necessarily as negative as it is in the States.  Woo-hoo.  Basically, as I see it, this class is going to be many, many weeks of us arguing ourselves in circles over problems that are essentially insoluble and end up being a big waste of time.

Of course, there’s also my Shakespeare class.  We’re reading Macbeth, which I am basically tickled pink over, along with Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night.  I’ve never read Measure (aside: abbreviating that M4M might seem like a good idea but it isn’t) but I’m glad to tackle Twelfth Night in a classroom setting since I also happen to enjoy it greatly.  How greatly?  Well, I only really like one of the other comedies, really, so maybe that tells you something.  (Of course, I haven’t read them all — maybe I’ve just read the boring ones first?)

Anyway, a few nights ago we went on a walking tour of “Shakespeare’s London” across the Thames.  Of course, Shakespeare’s London is a bit of a misnomer because when Shakespeare and the Globe and the bear-baiting rings were in operation there, it wasn’t really London, and most of it has fallen apart or burned down by now, so a Shakespeare-centered walking tour of the area basically consists of looking at places where things used to be.  Nevertheless it’s possible to look at the empty lot where the Globe once stood and then convince yourself you’re feeling a pseudoreligious sense of awe because you are literally oh my god really standing where Hamlet was unleashed on the world.

An addendum: last night I went to Piccadilly Circus and saw The 39 Steps at the Criterion, and it’s a wonderful show.  Mel Brooks tried his hand at Hitchcock sendup with High Anxiety, but in my opinion it kind of fell flat; this production, meanwhile successfully manages to parody Hitchcock while being a rather earnest homage to the man and his work.  It doesn’t help that it recasts the original story in sort of the style of a Cary Grant 1940s screwball comedy, which I admittedly have a soft spot for.

My way or the Hemingway

Today is the last day of classes, with next week being finals.  I only have one final, as it turns out — Computer Science, which should be easy enough, except for the mathy bits.  Apart from that I have a writing portfolio I need to get finished up (there’s a play I’m writing that’s really kicking my ass) and an essay on Bret Easton Ellis’s Lunar Park.

A note on how much of a nerd I am: I write all my papers a week before they’re due, or I try to.  This gives me time to proof throughout the week and basically refine the paper.  Most of the time I manage it, but this Lunar Park essay is the single instance this semester of me not meeting my self-imposed deadlines.  This is not because I don’t want to write the paper — I really do, in fact, and I’m very excited about it, because if you thought I was giving Ellis too much credit for American Psycho then just wait until I find the time/excuse to write up a blog entry about Lunar Park.*  Things just keep getting in the way — a lot of other, shorter papers for the same class or other classes, and me making the decision to drink a lot of wine before trying to write some of these papers and then spending far too much time revising because while writing intoxicated I end up with lines like “His middle-class Marxism they are very important to the social context of the pickle factory.”

So Hemingway I ain’t.

On other fronts, the journey to Mother England draws ever closer.  I’ve finally received information about my host family and they seem like Good People.  We also got our class schedules and, unlike every other jerk from my school who is taking Contemporary Theater, I took the way cooler route and got myself a class titled Shakespeare and Elizabethan Literature.  The naming is important to me because it means, hopefully, we’ll have the chance to look at some other Elizabethan writers I’m not as familiar with as I think I should be — specifically Marlowe, since somehow I’m more conversant in Spenser and Sidney than him, and more Jonson would be super, too.

[*This probably won’t happen if my essay turns out well, though.  If I pull it off then I’ll probably make it into a writing sample for grad school applications, and since it will encompass almost everything I find absolutely goddamned fascinating about the novel I don’t want to get into some weird self-plagiarism cock-up if someone decides to Google my essay.]

I’m Burning for You

I just finished my last final, which was for an Intro to US History class and ugh whatever it’s over.  Time for summer.

I haven’t been blogging about my DAILY LIFE because honestly I’ve been so fucking busy it’s not worth it.  However, that doesn’t mean interesting things didn’t happen to me.  For instance, about a week and a half ago I went to wash my hands in the dorm bathroom and the water came out boiling hot, so I spent the night in the emergency room because you would not believe that pain goddamn.  Apparently there had been a problem with the pipes the day before and campus maintenance thought they’d fixed it.  Anyway, I got all the blisters popped and even though it was only second degree burns I had to visit a plastic surgeon to make sure the healing process wasn’t going to do something weird, since my fingers were burned and I guess finger burns like to heal by webbing your digits together.

But things are fine in that regard now, I’m off the bandages and the dead skin on my hand is falling off in horrendous sheets like some disgusting snowstorm.  I’d post pictures but that would be totally gross!

In other news, I’ve hit 22 rejections, almost all of which gave responses that were generally unhelpful.  Here is something I will outline that frustrates me about the speculative fiction market at the moment: There are form rejection slips (which I understand completely) but they do nothing in the way of telling you why something was rejected.  I do not feel like counting the number of form rejections I’ve received that run along the lines of “Thanks for the manuscript, it was really great, but no.  Also, please submit again in the future!”

What the hell do you want from me, people?  Of course, I’ve received a few personal rejections that also ran along these lines, but that was less infuriating.  That was at least some human contact.  A form rejection implies my story wasn’t good enough for special attention — okay, I get that — but why.  I have no idea where I should be taking my writing if I want to sell based on these responses alone.  The only assumption I can operate on is that my fiction is bone-crushingly fantastic in every way, but I’m not submitting the right stories to the right markets.

The few responses I’ve received with actual critcism (even if it was a few words, like “Fails to hold interest”) have been the most helpful.  Of course, criticism can sometimes be inscrutable — an sf story I wrote was called a Bat Durston rather pejoratively, for instance, but weirdly enough that was what I wanted.  That was why I wrote the story, because Bat Durstons are hilarious!  And I submitted it to a venue specializing in comedic sf!  But, well, you win some and you lose some.

Incidentally, I also had something of an acceptance recently.  My campus literary journal, Crucible, accepted a piece of flash fiction I wrote entitled “A Measure of Weekend Minutes for a Penny,” making a total of three pieces of mine to appear in its hallowed pages. Well, three pieces I know of. (The other two were in my freshman year.) I didn’t even know this was accepted so I didn’t attend the release party, I found out from a friend later, and I think that’s pretty hilarious. Anyway, here’s the story.

Continue reading I’m Burning for You

hmm uh what

my lord the power went out at 9:00 last night and people nearly rioted around the dorms, shouting and setting off fireworks and being jackasses until about two or three in the morning like it was a goddamned party and I wanted to shout

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE, DOES THE POWER NOT GO OUT WHERE YOU’RE FROM

WHEN YOU GET YOUR PEACE AND GLOBAL STUDIES DEGREE ARE YOU GOING TO DO THIS EVERY TIME YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY YOUR ELECTRIC BILL

and I am so near death right now

This is my life I think that is how normal people use blogs