Friday, October 22, 2010

SPL

OK, here is what I came up with for my poem. I had it structured a different way for class, it looked more like a paragraph sort of, but I knew blogger would have a fit if I tried making it look like it did in word, so I made it more narrow. Again, a form I made up. Whatever. The only comment my classmates gave me was to take out the reference to Stephen King, which I might do if this was ever going to see the light of day. But it's not; I'm not using it for anything but this blog, for laughs, so it's staying.


I want the Sandwich Party Life.


I want the Sandwich Party Life.

Each morning Stephen King style: day can't start till word count achieved.

Mug of hot seasonal drink on my desk, a potted plant.

(The kind you can't kill)


I'll have a view for inspiration, watch the world go by.

Walls full of pictures, scraps of paper worth saving, articles and movie ticket stubs.

Framed pictures of where I've been, of sharks landing in roofs,

hobbit holes, flat top mountains, Freddie Mercury striking a pose.

That Cuban cigar.


But onto the sandwiches. You're all invited.

White bread, wheat bread, pumpernickel, rye. Fillings you fancy.

In this life, construction and creative contents count:

In the making lies the fun.


In this life I can have anything.

Fly to Greece tomorrow and be back for tea. Everyday can be Halloween.

I can make it rain, read to the sound of thunder. I'll have a globe, a wardrobe to Narnia.

Blueberries straight from the farm.

In this life I go to Oxford, Wellington, Virginia, London, and back to you.


Winter won't be so cold in this life.

People who want to sing will sing, no one will hesitate. We will all be equals at last.

And even if it doesn't work out, if nothing happens, we'll know it exists.

It will be hard.


This life only has successful parties.

The house will be a mess, but you will help me clean.

Ice cream will be healthy, so we'll have some.

I want the Sandwich Party Life. With you.


The 'I' is me, but the 'you' is fictional. Or is it? The 'you' could be anyone, the 'you' for all you know, is YOU. By that I mean, anyone who wants to come to my Sandwich Parties and help clean up afterward. Because this is a serious future people, this is happening one day. Just you wait. OH, and just to post it to the world, my dad told me on the phone the other day that if I become Harry Potter rich (I mean WHEN), he has pledged to do all my laundry for me. Sort of like an incentive for writing the next big YA title. You know, get rich, never do laundry again. However, he has already found an easy way out. I'm going to set up a computer that stays on a clothing website of my choice and he will just order me new clothes every day so I never have to wear the same outfit twice, then just toss my dirty clothes. Laundry solved. I wish I could have fit this part of the deal into the poem, but that might have gotten a little too weird. Oh well. So in case he forgets, now EVERYONE knows, dad is my future laundry man. Bwhahaha.

Alright, it's far too late for this. Goodnight party people!

~major7th


PS, Blogger is probably the worst place ever to post a poem with any sort of form to it. It was not supposed to look like this, but that's the way Blogger wants it to be, so I'm defeated.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wear Purple


I never usually write about anything in this blog that is too heavy, it's not my style. I like it keep it fairly upbeat. However today I want you to all wear purple, so I'm going to have to take it down a notch to explain.

Today across the country (and world since I'm all the way over here) people are being asked to wear purple in memory of the teenagers who ended their lives for being bullied about their sexual orientation. I'm sure you have all seen Ellen's PSA. Today is Spirit Day, a day to celebrate what makes us all unique and different and to embrace it. Here, this will do a better job, I got it off facebook:

"It's been decided! On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the LGBT youth who have committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes and schools.

PURPLE represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that's exactly what we'd like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality.

RIP
Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Cody J. Barker, Harrison Chase Brown, Caleb Nolt, Billy Lucas, Jeanine Blanchette, and Chantal Dube."

Look at all those names! That is ridiculous. And all because mean kids decided it would be funny to bully them. This has got to stop people, no matter what your belief is on the matter or gay marriage or even on homosexuality in general, I think everyone can agree that this is just plain wrong.

I for one try to be an open minded person. Usually I can see both sides of things; even if I don't agree with the opposite side I can still see where people are coming from. However this is one issue I cannot in any way see the other side of. I cannot wrap my brain around someone telling someone else that they cannot marry the person they love because of their sexual orientation. I cannot see how anyone can say that love is wrong, ever. I mean, why the hell does it matter? Why is it wrong for gay couples to adopt and raise a child? Oh no, then that kid will have TWO people who love them and support them, heaven forbid. I just cannot understand it. And now, because of children who have been raised to think there is something funny about being gay, who think it's a good idea to bully their peers, because of this act 11 young people killed themselves. Whywhywhywhywhy??

I'll respect your opinions about anything else you believe in, but if you think that to be gay is to be wrong, I don't want to be friends.

SO, wear purple people!

~major7th


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drip

SO, for my class this week, I have to write a poem. It was assigned last week, a poem that mimics anything about these four poems we had to read for class, but besides that it can be about anything. Just to let you all know, I don't write poetry. The closest thing I come to writing poetry is an occasional haiku about how I hate poetry. I know, I don't really hate it, but I sure don't enjoy writing it. I wrote one the other day, and I'll share it with you all so you can have a good laugh. Because if this blog is good for anything, it might as well make you laugh everyone now and then.


I want to live here.

The silence is only

disrupted by faint

tap tap taps

of keyboards and

worn pages turning.


The dust I could live with.

The quiet would not bother me.

I sit in a place where others have sat

and will continue to sit

for decades,

for lifetimes and more.


The English weather does not touch me here,

but I can see it.

Vaulted windows show the outside world,

the spires of the colleges,

the domes and stone walls I

formerly only dream about.


And I did dream.

I dreamed.

I've been dreaming.


Red leaves blow outside.

Tourists tirade in throngs.

But not in here.

Here I'm surrounded by all my friends,

old and new.

I'm safe, I'm happy.


A tiny bell rings, time to go.

The corridors empty.

I'll be back tomorrow.


LAME LAME LAME LAME. It's so cheery and predictable! Poems are supposed to have depth, to be seen all sorts of ways and affect people. THIS crap is clearly about a library (actually, I'm not even sure if that's clear or not) and not anything else. LAME. On top of all that, it does not in any way mimic things done in the poems we had to read. SO I can't even use it as a backup in case I don't think of anything better. And what's with the stanzas? 6, 6, 6, 3, 6, 3 lines in each? What kind of structure is that? A MADE UP ONE THAT'S WHAT. Sappy, lame, made up, that's how I write poetry.

On top of this, my house is dripping. Dripping with wet clothes. I will never again in my life EVER take for granted having a washer AND a dryer. We have no dryer, and right now the washer is sort of broken so when it gets to the end of the cycle where it spins most of the water out of your clothes, it spins super fast and hard and shakes the whole house and moves the washer out of the wall and you have to turn it off or it will surly eat someone. Man eating washer. This used to happen sometimes in Morgantown, but I feel like all we had to do was restart it or something and it was cool. Well, this is certainly not cool, and I can't get to any sort of restart button or even the plug. So, sopping wet clothes are hanging off of everything that you can hang cloths off of because I waited ages to do cloths, including bed sheets on doors and jeans on the banister.

Happy Tuesday everyone. Despite my drippy existence at the moment and inability to write poetry, it's a good day. A friend of mine told me a while ago that I'm in a good-day time in my life, so even when things are not going well, it's still a good day. I'm going to this one women show tonight where she is going to read her poetry accompanied by a jazz band or something like that, not too sure. Should be weird and awesome. Hopefully hearing poetry will inspire me to write poetry, but as Phillip Pullman said, I need to learn how to write even when I'm not inspired. Working on it.

I'm out!

~major7th

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Step One: Dramatic Pudding.


"You're a damned good man, sister."

Whenever I go to print stuff out at this one place in town, the same guy always helps me. He had long hair, always wears baggy shorts and fun colored socks poking out of his Vans. Today they were hot pink. The first time I went in, he printed my stuff and told me as I was paying that usually he has to charge an extra fee for printing things off a flash drive, but that he had done it a lot that day and didn't feel like doing it again. HA. Score. Then every time after that he came up with some other reason not to charge me. Like, 'oh well I did not charge you last time so I won't today', or 'oops, forgot to charge you'. Today I went in and he rung me up and I handed him my money. It was £1.30 and I handed him exact change. He took it, opened the register, and then handed me my 30p back. I think I've made a new friend.

I have a bank account, a bank card, checks, a library card with my picture on it, a valid student ID, a Blackwells rewards card, two Oyster cards (from when Nicole was here, so now I can take friends to London), Top off card for my phone, UK Starbucks card for the internet, YHA membership card, house keys, growing book collection, solid handful of friends, junk all over my bedroom walls, a growing pile of laundry to do, a plastic champagne cup full of pennies, homework and Student Representative responsibilities within my course. I SO live here now.

Alisha.

The other day Rose made bread. The house smelled amazing and warm. I was up in my room working and she knocked on my door and without a word brought me a slice, buttered and everything. So sweet.

Homemade bread and American junk food for my housemates from Grandma and Grampa.

We made sushi the other night. It was the first time I've ever enjoyed sushi, like really liked it. I have liked it before, but too much of it always left me feeling a little funny. I guess because I saw this being made and I rolled some of it myself. I don't want any mystery rolled up in my sushi.

I went to London on Monday to see Les Misérables for the first time. I don't think I need to tell you that it was amazing. On My Own gave me chills from start to finish. However, before the show, since I must have incredible good luck, we happened to end up at the London premier of Despicable Me. AND saw Steve Carell, Russell Brand and Miranda Cosgrove. Whoa.

I decided that I want to be Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween. Random, I know, but it should be pretty easy. Red cloak, white dress, basket, sorted.

Remember when I almost went to film school? I still want to do that. I got this idea in my head that I want to make a short film with Catfish Productions sometime, but I have no clue what about or anything. As if I don't have enough projects to work on at the moment. What I really need is to get Nicole to come back here so we can shoot it in Oxford. That would be amazing. Any ideas?

karaoke in London. One of these days I'll sing something besides Beyond the Sea.

I bought a backpack today. Don't worry, it was cheap. I know it might be a little silly to buy a backpack when I have so many at home, but there is no point in getting yet another thing from home sent here when I could just get one for as little money as I did today. I was really getting fed up with not having one. It's still small, but it will fit all my things for class and my books and even my computer. And like I said, it cost me very little, so I can always leave it here at the end of the year or something. It's the first backpack I've ever owned that has not been green (it's brown).

Another thing I want to buy, a bookshelf. I found a little one today, but even it might be a little too big. I think it will fit in my room perfectly actually, and it's only £10, but I'm so indecisive. But you see my window ledge right? It's getting out of hand.

I obviously have no point today. Just felt like blogging. That's code for Maria has tons of laundry and reading to do but decided to write a pointless blog instead.

Our vacuum, Henry. Funny because that is one of my all time favorite boy names'

"Now, sir, we'll talk if you like. And I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who likes talking to a man that likes to talk."

~major7th

Monday, October 11, 2010

Windy windy windy Monday.

The topic of this blog was stolen from Nicole, which she stole from an elementary school's writing prompt. Funny. If you want to read Nicole's 10 exciting things, click HERE.

Ten exciting things, in no particular order:

1. Making things: I love to make things. When I was little I was the queen of making things, mostly things to play with. I made my own toys, mainly pipe cleaner people, and places for them to inhabit, mainly space ships made of cardboard boxes. Now I still like making things, making stories, crocheting scarves, wall art for my bedroom, scrapbooks, photoshoping pictures (totally counts), French braid, anything really. It's exciting to me to make something and have it turn out just how you wanted it to, know that YOU made that out of nothing, that it exists because of you. In this vein I have always wished I could paint, draw or sculpt. Maybe one day.

2. Socks without holes in the toes: All my socks here have holes in the toes and it's really irking me. On top of that, I can't find the tiny sewing kit my mom so lovingly put together for me to take here, so I can't even fix the problem. So, if anyone wants to send me anything, please send me socks, because I'm far too cheap to buy my own. But, I guess I will. It's starting to get colder and holey socks will soon be an even bigger problem.

3. Finishing things: I have a bad habit of not finishing projects. BAD BAD. I have a bunch of unfinished writing projects, lots of half backed ideas floating in my head and two gigantic books I have yet to finish reading. I hate not finishing things, and yet it keeps happening. I think one of my new year's resolutions for this year was to finish things, like, all things. I believe it read, 'finish books,' which could mean books I've written or books I've started to read. This year I have finished some things, lots of read books and my magic paper story, but even that is not finished. The second draft needs to happen, and soon, because Nanowrimo is right around the corner and I have a whole other idea for that. So anyway, when I do finish things, lately when I finish a book or writing assignment, it excites me.

4. Re-reading things the next day: I tend to do this thing where I'll write something one day and hate it right away, yet when I read it in the morning it's sounds a million times better. I don't know why this is, but with anything I write I need to let it sit at least overnight if not a few hours before I look at it again. Reading things the next day is always like reading something that some other Maria wrote, someone way better than yesterday's Maria. Not to say that things are perfect the next day, that is never the case, they are just better and far less discouraging.

5. Going to the movies: I think I've written about this at length before, so I'll keep this short. I love going to the movies. If I'm planning on going to see a movie later in the day, I spend the whole day excited about it. Something about actually going to a theater, getting bad popcorn and sitting in the dark with your feet sticking to the floor really appeals to me. One day I'll have a home theater, and not one of the wimpy little ones. I mean full sized screen, just like in the movie theaters. Yes you are invited, and yes you can bring your friends, if they're cool. Because you know me, I'm just the queen of cool. I can't even type that with a straight face.

6. Being told I'm doing something right: I am rarely right. Most of the time when I enter an argument, I lose (unless it has to do with the color of the One Ring from LOTR, MOTHER. I'm clinging to that win forever). It happens so often that I usually just give up before I start, or should anyway (yes Nicole, I'm thinking of the whole 'forks' 'fox' debacle. That still upsets me). So anyway, when I'm actually right, I get really excited. Also when someone tells me I'm actually doing something right. When I first started to spin back in high school, anytime someone told me I was doing the move correctly or said 'good job!' I would get SO excited. This happened the other day actually. I went to a tap dancing class on campus full of mostly girls who have already done tap in the past. So scary. I struggled, obviously, tap is really hard. I have no idea how they can get their feet to move that fast, it seems borderline impossible. However, when the head girl was helping me with this one thing, she told me my side step was perfect. PERFECT. She said it more than once too; I was not just hearing things. To all you teachers out there, or anyone who has to show someone how to do something, make sure you take the time to tell your pupil what they are doing right as well as what they are doing wrong. It makes all the difference. I clung to that 'perfect' for the whole day, and although I sucked at every single other thing we did, that 'perfect' is the reason I'll go back next week.

7. Traveling: I've also talked about this at length in the past. I love to travel, that's all there is to it. I love new places and new foods and new languages in my ears. I love planning trips, real ones and imaginary, and everything that goes into traveling. There is not much more exciting to me than getting ready to go someplace new, even if it is just a day trip to DC or a drive to Morgantown or Harpers Ferry. I love to travel.

8. Getting mail or packages: I LOVE mail! My grandma sent me a Halloween package the other day with two awesome Halloween shirts, Lucky Charms and Twinkies for my housemates (they love American junk food you can't get here), candy and a cute little handmade card. Thanks Grandma! And thanks to everyone else out there who has sent me various things in the mail, post cards, peanut butter, books, cloths, letters, you all know who you are. I love love love love love all of it.

9. Fall colors: The trees have been changing colors for a while, but I've just recently noticed. It's gorgeous. And you know what fall colors mean? Fall leads to winter, winter leads to Christmas, and on Christmas I'll be home with the family, and after that off to see all my friends I miss so much. I would not say I'm homesick at all, but I'm definitely friend-and-family-sick. I can't wait to see everyone.

10. Halloween: Alright, so half this blog is just me listing things I always talk about. Sorry, I think I get a C for originality. C+ just to be annoying. I love Halloween, and its right around the corner. I need to figure out what I'm doing, who will dress up with me and where we are going. I have dressed up for Halloween every single year, probably of my life, and I'm not planning on stopping now. Halloween is exciting because I'm a little kid at heart and I love to play dress up, if you haven't noticed.

SO those are my ten things. What are you ten things? I'll tell you what is not on my ten things list, reading poetry for class. Guess what I should have been doing instead of writing a ten things blog? I guess I better get back to that, I guess I guess I guess.

Happy Monday!

~major7th

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I talk about when I talk about pictures (and writing).



I love my camera. I feel naked when I leave the house without one tucked into my bag, just in case something out of the ordinary crops up that I just have to document. I never thought of my obsession with taking pictures as a hobby until recently. It's weird that I can so easily admit to being obsessive about something, but not as easily claim it as a hobby. I've never once pretended to be normal.

Just to make one thing clear, I enjoy taking pictures, not photography. I don't know the first thing about photography, about lenses and proper light settings and aperture or how to develop film. I've never been able to get my mind around which way to turn the dial if you need more light or less or what shutter speed I should be using. All the pictures I took with my mom's old 35mm camera turned out dark and fuzzy which was either because of my lack of skills or the oldness of the film (I like to think the later). In the end it comes down to this; I don't know anything about photography, I just like taking pictures.

The way I feel about taking pictures is very similar to the way I feel about writing. Not to say that I know nothing about the craft of writing like I do photography, not at all. They are both things I love obsessively, (there's that word again) that I do for similar reasons. I have this thing, and I know it's bad but I can't help it. Whenever I go somewhere, be it on a trip or out with friends or even exploring new places on my own, if I don't take at least a few pictures, I get this feeling like it didn't count. Like my experience did not happen if I don't have a picture to prove it. (I know this is a problem and I'm working on fixing it, don't worry.) In a lot of ways I feel this way about writing also, but with writing it's actually true. If I have an idea and I don't write it down somewhere, I'll lose it. It will be as if the idea never came across my head, like it never existed. Because of this you will never find me without a camera in my purse and a notebook in my pocket.

I don't know where this came from, what spurred this need to document my life so closely. I have this fear of forgetting, of growing old and having forgotten my entire life. I need my stories and pictures and e-mails to friends to go back to so I can remember that smile from a boy I liked in high school that made me happy for a week or to see again just how high we climbed that mountain in New Zealand. You always think you'll never forget the most important moment of your life, yet when you are asked to go back and write them down, to list the moments in your life that shaped you the most, it's always a challenge. And who's to say your memories of an event are accurate? Time changes many things. Not even your memory is safe from the great bully that is time. Many times I'll bring up something to my friends I've had since elementary school that I remember as clearly as if it had just happened and am met with blank stares. "I wasn't even there," one friend will say, or, "I don't remember it that way at all." This gets discouraging. Sometimes I feel like I've made up most of my childhood memories. Maybe that's why I think it was so great, because it wasn't real. I don't think that's the case, but you never know.

Sometimes, when off taking pictures, I'll get a gem. That is, sometimes I get lucky and take a picture that makes it look as if I know a thing or two about photography. I assure you I don't, so anytime this happens is purely accidental. Last summer I was in the Kilmainham Gaol (prison) in Dublin, wandering around in the courtyard and not paying attention to the tour guide. We were in an area where prisoners used to be hung or shot by firing squad. I wandered away from the group and noticed that a small girl, probably 9 or 10 years old, had wandered off as well. I had been watching her out of the corner of my eye the entire tour, wondering why her parents thought she might enjoy a tour of a famous prison and wondering even more if she was getting anything out of it. Would she remember? I'm surprised I even remember and I was 22.

There was a black wooden cross sticking out of the ground as a memorial to all those who had died on that spot. The little girl was walking in the shadow of the gray stone wall to the right while the cross was just to her left in the full on sunlight. I took a picture, just for kicks. It was only later that I noticed what I had captured. The little girl looks almost ghost-like since you can't see her face. If you just glance at the picture, sometimes you can't even see her. However the cross, the place filled with the memories of the dead, shines in the light. 100% accident, 100% haunting.

This happens to me a lot when I'm writing as well. Every so often, when I'm not trying or just playing around, I'll come up with something I can be proud of. I was in a creative non-fiction class one time back in college, sitting with my friend Jeremy and talking when we should have been paying attention. We hated that class, the teacher had no idea what she was talking about, lost our assignments and proved each and every class that she did not know my name. It was not a big class. Anyway, Jeremy and I were looking outside at the bright and sunny day and I was expressing my wish that we were out there and not in our current situation. Jeremy at that point had long black hair to his shoulders, always wore dark clothes or a band t-shirt. His skin was extremely white, as if he had never stepped outside in his entire life. Just as I was thinking this, he confirmed my suspicions. "I hate sunny days," he said, "give me rain or snow any day. I hate the sun." I remember thinking to myself that is really depressing. I wrote down in the corner of my notebook, once upon a time there lived the saddest boy in the world…

I could not get the saddest boy in the world out of my head for weeks. I transferred the little line about him into the journal I keep just for little tidbits like this. I even named him. Dorian, the saddest boy in the world. I could not stop thinking about why he was so sad, about what could possibly make someone the saddest boy in the whole world. He would not leave me alone. The next semester it was time for my senior Capstone project, pretty much 40 pages of whatever we wanted to write about. Short stories and poetry collections were preferred. I wrote 70 pages about Dorian. I never told Jeremy that he was the inspiration for the saddest boy in the world (he did read parts of the story and liked it) and I've always wondered what he would think about that.

I write in the same way I take pictures, all over the place and with no end result in sight. Sometimes I take pictures without even looking through the view finder. Sometimes I'll write something in my moleskin like 'sawdust = dad' and then look at it later and wonder what I was talking about. Like I said, all over the place. Before I came to England, I decided that it was time I upgraded to a nicer camera. I have always used the tiny Cannon PowerShots that can fit in your pocket. I did some research (and by that I mean my mom did some research. I would have just gone to the store and picked up the one I thought was the prettiest) and once more bought a Canon PowerShot, but this time a bigger one. It's a PowerShot SX20 IS with 12.1 mega pixels, a view finder and a screen that can flip out and turn around for easier stalker shots. This camera is love. I reasoned that for my year abroad, I deserved a nice camera. In the same vein, I've been looking for a nice journal. I have so many at home half filled or forgotten; I just can't help myself sometimes. I bought a little paperback journal a few weeks ago that I've been using, but it's clear to me now that in England's rain and with my less than water proof bags, it will not do at all. So I'm on the lookout for the prefect journal for this year, something sturdy and, well, pretty, like my new camera. All the better to record. All the better to remember.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm busting up my brains for the words.


These are my housemates at Jazz night last week. From left to right, Shobha, Gavin, Paddy, Rose and ME. And Tesco Metro is a grocery story. We could totally be an add for Tesco. "Shop at Tesco and you can be as happy as this lot!"

So many things.

Thing one: I think Moonage Daydream is one of my favorite Bowie songs. I did name this blog after its lyrics. I don't quote lyrics lightly. Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything, I just thought about it today. Sometimes you listen to a song over and over but never really listen to the lyrics. Bowie should always be really listened to.

Thing two: Monday I went to a Society of Young Publishers talk. I know, I'm not a publishing student, but no one knew that. The talk was by David Fickling, the publisher who was putting on the book release party at Blackwells on my first day in Oxford. Aka, my all-time favorite publisher. He was just as charismatic and engaging to hear talk as the last time, cockeyed red bow tie and all. He is primarily a children's and young adult publisher (!!!) but at the talk he talked about publishing in general and about something very disturbing, the death of the book. This is something I don't like to think about, something that makes me want to take all the books in my room into my arms and cry, as if I could protect their future just by loving them. However it is important to think about, about the future of books as we know them and what they will evolve into in the coming years. I'll never go Kindle, but unfortunately, many will.

Luckily, the story will never die. David Fickling loves stories more than anyone I've ever heard speak on the matter. He practically begged the young publishers in the room to really care about what they published. "Care about what you're making," he said, "care about the book." He spoke of huge publishing companies as evil doers whose only objective is to make money, not to produce a story they are proud of. "Publishing is changing," he said in a serious voice that gave me goosebumps, "I feel like I'm strapped to the front of a steam engine racing through the black midnight." He spoke about the paperback and how different it is from any sort of electronic book. The paperback is just itself. It gives you no options, no choices about what you can do. It says, "Just read me," and nothing more. He spoke of Neil Gaiman and how he is a wonderful man because he works with small publishing companies. He said, "We want him, and we will get him one day."

I love this man. I want him to publish my book SO BADLY. One day. In the same way he wants Neil Gaiman, I want David Fickling. He loves the books he publishes, loves the authors, and loves books. On the death of the book he continued by saying, "I want to say the book is dead so that you all, in one voice, rise and say 'No it isn't!'" I want him to want me. I've got a lot of work to do.

Thing three: I get to use the Bodleian Library. This is THE library of Oxford University, and one of the oldest in the world. It consists of five buildings and is entitled to one copy of every book published in the UK and Ireland (11 million volumes, says Wikipedia). It includes the Radcliffe Camera, that building I keep gushing on and on about as being my favorite building in the city, and now, once I get my library card, I'll be able to get in. I went on Wednesday to turn in my form that I had to get signed by someone in the English Department at Brookes and a Brookes librarian to prove that I'm a real live Brookes Masters student. Only third years, research students and Masters Students at Brookes are allowed to use the Bodleian.

Before November, Brookes students are only allowed to go to the Bodleian to turn in forms and get registered on certain Wednesdays at very specific times. From reading the form we had to get filled out and all the rules, we thought we were going to go in and be yelled at. It's all very strict. So we went, my new friend Alisha and I, on a rainy Wednesday, the first Wednesday Brookes students were allowed to go. It was the type of day you would generally not leave the house, rainy, gloomy and muggy. But we just couldn't wait. We didn't get to see much of the library that day, but we did get to sit in this huge, parliament looking room with high ceilings and dark wooden benches that looked 100 years old (which It may well have been, the library was established in 1602).

In order to be granted access to the library, besides needing to be a Brookes student and have the proper documentation (passports, Brookes ID, paperwork), we had to verbally recite an oath. Not even all together as a group, each of us individually in our native languages. Here is what we had to recite:

"I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library."

One girl said it in Finnish, but the rest of us were plain old English speakers. Back in the day you had to read it in Latin, but then they realized that no one really knew what they were pledging to do so they changed it. I've never had to give an oath to get a library card before. This place is so cool.

Thing four: X-Men 4! SO, Alisha and I had just finished reciting our library oath and managed to find our way out of the room (we couldn't remember which way we came in, a problem we seem to have no matter what building we are in) and back outside into the rain and gloom. We were stumbling around and fidgeting with our umbrellas when we noticed we were surrounded by a bunch of perfect people in 60's garb. It was sort of creepy until we saw the camera crews. We were walking straight through a scene from a movie they were shooting in front of the Sheldonian Theater. We walked through the middle of it because no one told us not to, and because they were between us and Blackwells where we were going. When we finally got out of it and were standing in the street with the other onlookers we asked a woman what was going on and she said, calmly as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world, "it's X-men." X-MEN! I could not believe it. So if you see two confused looking girls with umbrellas and rain boots in the next X-men movie, that was us. Who knew that Professor X went to Oxford? Well, probably a lot of people, but I was not one of them.

Thing five: my first day of classes. Yesterday was my first day of real classes. I only have two classes per semester, one day a week. Sounds like not much work right? That's what I thought, but not anymore. For next Thursday I have to fill out a character sketch outline, write 500 words about the character based on what I learn about him from the outline, write 300 words based on a theme in Heart of Darkness which we read for yesterday's class, write an unspecified word count about a hobby I have and pertain it to writing, read Dubliners, finish another book I'm halfway through and read 4 or 5 packets of pages photocopied out of a book that is no longer in print that were passed out. And the books are only getting longer. I had three packages in front of my bedroom door when I got home last night. Some of the books we are going to have to read are LONG. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining in the least bit. I'm excited. And I know 300 and 500 words don't sounds like much (after doing 50,000 a few times, that sounds like cake), but these are things I'll most likely have to share in front of the class, so they need to be something I'm at least a little happy with. AND the character I want to write about is almost a complete stranger to me, so that should take some time.

Overall, yesterday was the best day ever. Our first class, Narrative, consisted of 8 people plus the teacher in a tiny classroom that looked like the room where you stash things that don't go anywhere, or are broken, or you just want out of your sight. There were computers and random other pieces of junk all over the place. I think I'm going to pretend from now on that room is The Room of Requirement from Harry Potter, and that I'll only be able to get in when I really need it, which will be every Thursday at 12:15. Have I mentioned that right now is the closest I'm probably ever going to get to going to Hogwarts? I mean I live in England, I'm going to school, and writing to me is like magic, so I'm practically there. I was devastated at age 11 when I did not get my Hogwarts letter by owl post, but it looks like they have a Masters Program, so it's all good.

In Narrative we talked about Heart of Darkness and then did a few writing exercises which we had to read in front of everyone. SCARY. This is exactly the sort of thing I was afraid would happen on this course. However, once I read my first little thing, got a few laughs and one of Jim's gigantic smiles, the fear vanished completely. I have never felt that comfortable reading my own stuff in front of people before, it was great. And, something else happened that I've never encountered before in a creative writing class; everyone is good. Like, really good. NO offense to everyone I was in classes with at WVU, bbbuuuttt there were always a few kids in those classes who's comments on my work were practically useless, either because they did not even bother to try or did not know what they were talking about. Here, everyone knows what they are talking about. I could not believe what beautiful little stories were coming out of my classmates heads when we were put on the spot and told to write. All I've got is humor so far, that's the only thing that kept me afloat in that class, and they were not even that funny, just a little chuckle worthy.

After Narrative we had a break, then a talk/workshop by one of our Fellows, Bernardine Evaristo. She read to us from her book, Lara (which is awesome and I really want to buy now), a fictionalized history of her family in verse, and talked to us about her own process for writing. She had us do an exercise on character, and I did chicken out when it came to reading out loud. I'll get over it eventually, but there are way more people in that class so it's a lot more intimidating, and again, everyone is REALLY good. After that we had another lecture class with Rob and Jane, talked about all sorts of other things, then we were done. Long day, but probably my best first day of class ever.

So, I have a lot of work to do. Better get crackin.

~major7th