ATP: In the Summertime…

Occasionally even England blesses a poor overworked graduate student with good weather. And when that season finally rolls around, there’s a whole host of new Cambridge traditions and British activities to explore…

Punting

One of the most Cambridge things to do in Cambridge is to go out on the river for a little punting. If you’re not familiar, it’s an activity which involves standing on the back of a little boat and pushing it down the river with a big pole. It’s lots of fun (though quite the ab workout), and a nice way to see the college backs if you’re a tourist. Just keep in mind that 90% of the stuff they tell you on the guided tour is made up. Continue reading

Across the Pond: Flying the Flag

I’ve reproduced below an email received fairly recently from the bursar of my college. I think it stands on its own as a shining example of the oddness that is Cambridge…

Dear College,

I am writing at the request of the Buildings Committee concerning the flying of flags above the Porters Lodge. Early in January the College was approached by the Junior Parlour and asked if we would consider joining other Colleges in flying the Rainbow Flag of Diversity to mark the start of LGBT History Month on 1 Feb (tomorrow). Continue reading

It’s Okay to be Sad

I recently watched the film Inside Out for the second time. I’ll refrain from turning this into a review, though you should all go watch it if you haven’t – it’s a lovely film which is perfectly geared toward its target audience (children) while having enough complexity to interest adults, and in classic Pixar fashion manages to both make you laugh and make you cry.

But I want to talk a little bit about the “message” of the film, the takeaway:

It’s okay to be sad. Continue reading

Housekeeping, and Announcements

No Friday Fiction today — instead, some announcements.

The Hiatus

That last long hiatus? Was because of exams. Somehow, despite this semester appearing to be fairly light, I ended up with ridiculous amounts of work at the end of the term. (Seriously: FOUR TERM PAPERS, plus a final exam paper, three final exams, a stats project, and the 15-page summary of an 800 page textbook).

And now I’m done. Continue reading

Writing Rhythmn

I’ve gotten a pretty good rhythm going over this Winter Break of mine. I’ve got a lot of momentum going. I’ve struck of good balance of creative work (rewarding, but drains the energies) and recharging (unproductive, but necessary).

But.

Tomorrow, I go back to school.

And suddenly it’s a whole new ballgame – I have to juggle classes with schoolwork with writing with reading if I have the time (haha, no) and you can forget about television or movies or lazing about.

How? How do I find that balance?

I’m not sure that I really expect an answer, since this is something, as far as I can tell, that everyone struggles with. But it’s a pain to think about.

On the bright side, I’m taking a lot of fun classes this semester (my LAST SEMESTER HOLY CRAP WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE) so at least I should enjoy myself as my writing schedule goes down the toilet…

The Glorious Creature That Moved Me To Tears

This is a Coquerel’s sifaka (pronounced shi-fahk or shi-fah-ka depending on who you ask), once considered to be a subspecies of Verreaux’s sifaka but since elevated to its own species. Its scientific name is Propithecus coquereli.

Last semester, I took a class called Explorations in Primate Anatomy. The overarching assignment of the semester was to select a “chosen species” and investigate, in detail, its distribution/habitat/behavior, cranial morphology, dental morphology, and postcranial morphology.

I spent three months immersed in this animal. (Well, sometimes I was looking at P. verreaxi bones but that’s just because we didn’t have the Coquerel, and besides they are extremely closely related and primatologists are notorious splitters anyway…)

Two weeks ago I went to the Bronx Zoo with my mammalogy class. We happily went around looking at geladas and giraffes and sea lions and brown bears and polar bears and tigers and then we walked into the Madagascar building and this is the FIRST THING I SEE.

I teared up. Not joking.

I was SO EXCITED AND SO HAPPY to see this little guy and I can hardly tell you why – I just spent so long with his species that I feel this very close affinity and to see one in person – the real, living creature to which the skulls I spent so much time with belonged – was just incredibly moving. And then he looked right at me and I pretty much did cry, looking at his adorable little face.

It’s a good thing that I’m not likely to ever run into a living Neandertal. I think if I ever met a Neandertal in person I’d expire on the spot.

Because I am Made of Insanity

I am Ridiculously Busy. No, I mean it.

These are the things that I do:

  • Go to school. Take 7 classes.
  • Attempt to not fail those 7 classes.
  • Participate in extracurriculars. I am the chair of a club and an editor for a journal.
  • Nutcracker! That’s 5+ hours of rehearsal every week. Plus additional time dealing with planning the schedule/writing emails/other assorted tasks.
  • Volunteer at a hospital. Incredibly interesting, incredibly rewarding, incredibly time consuming.
  • Teach ballet to little ones. Also rewarding, also time consuming. Plus involves getting up quite early in the morning.
  • Sometimes do other fun things, like take ballet class. Or go to the zoo for my Natural History of the Mammals course (coming soon: a post on the animal that made me cry).

 So those are a lot of things.

Now, I’m not listing them out like this to complain, or even to boast. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who do this much and more. And if I was really feeling overwhelmed I could drop a few of these things. My intention here is to give you an understanding of how nice and full my schedule is right now, so you can fully appreciate the insanity that is about to happen.

So Many Things! Let’s Add Another

The reaction of any sane person to the above would be to stop adding more things. Of course, I am not a sane person. So what did I go and do? Add bullet point number 8:

  • Write 50,000 words in a month.

Yes, I’m doing NaNo. Or rather, I’m pretending to do Nano.

My Insanity Has Its Limits

Yes, I am crazy. I think we’ve pretty well established that. But I’m not that crazy.

I fully recognize the fact that I am not going to be able to devote as much time and attention to each of these as they need. Unless I never sleep, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day! And unfortunately while I would like to write half a novel in a month, the 60+ pages of essays I have to produce must take priority. (As an aside, if anyone has a great interest in the Neandertal cranium or bone histology or reproductive strategies of Marsupials, let me know).

If you go peek at my NaNo profile, you’ll see that in half a month I’ve written one day’s worth of words (really it’s a little more, as I haven’t counted handwritten pages). I’m not going to get to 50,000. But if I write a little every day, even if it’s just a sentence scribbled in my notebook during the fifteen minutes between classes, I’ll call it a win.

Who’s With Me in the Nuthouse?

We’ve all got our own special brand of crazy. Mine is apparently trying to do EVERY SINGLE THING all at once. What’s yours?

Rabbit Rabbit

You may have noticed a lack of posts last week. I decided to take a week’s vacation, to spend my last days of summer with my family. Now I’m all moved in to my dorm and the school year is looking shiny and bright! It’s a feeling that will last all of two weeks, and then I’ll be desperate for summer again.

Considering the inordinate amount of things I will be doing with my time during the fall (1. School 2. Nutcracker 3. Heading up a club 4. MCATS 5. Writing 6… Put me out of my misery, already!) blogging will be reduced to once a week. Posts will go up on Fridays. When I have Princess news to share, I’ll post updates on Mondays. Hopefully that will be every week or almost every week, but realistically it will likely be less often.

And yes, I’ll update the sidebars…eventually.

EDITED to add: There will be one more post before I start with the new schedule – I was given an ARC in exchange for a review and I want to post it right away. So that will go up later.

Romance Woes

I’ve been reading more romance lately – it’s not my first choice of genre, but I find that more and more of the urban fantasy I read these days is edging farther into paranormal romance. And I’ve been picking up more kindle freebies lately, and most of them are heavy on the romance.

My conclusions: I’m starting to get a little more into the whole romance thing. I’ve always been sort of a late bloomer, and I spent the first 13 years of my school-age life at an all girl’s school and dancing ballet. There aren’t a lot of boys in ballet. So let’s just say that I wasn’t really interested in relationships for a long time.

But now, maybe I am? I don’t know.

The problem is that I’m not very extroverted. I don’t drink or go to parties (because I don’t like parties. They tire me out and stress me out and are really just not at all fun for me). If I ever complain about not meeting anyone, the advice is 90% of the time “you need to go to parties or you’ll never meet anyone”.

I don’t think I should have to change my personality in order to meet someone; anyone I meet that way wouldn’t have the same interests anyway. It would be a friendship, or a relationship, predicated on a lie and it just wouldn’t go well.

My struggles are well known in my family – it’s to the point where by future boyfriend has become a figure of legend, known as “nerd-boy”.

Anyway, enough about my romantic troubles. I’ll meet my nerd-boy in med school, and he will like to read and enjoy going to the ballet (or at least find it pleasantly tolerable and be willing to take me), and be romantic and handsome and smart. (Nope, not setting my sights high at all…)

Dangnabbit, Bria!

I’ve been away for a while, and it’s for two reasons, primarily.

1. I’ve been furiously outlining the novel.

Yes, outlining! Postit flags! Scribbles! Rearrangements! Reworkings of plot! It’s super exciting.

2. I’ve been furiously studying for midterms.

This one is not as fun. But unfortunately necessary in order to not fail at life.

So while outlining, I’ve discovered a couple of things. The most significant is that I have a whole bunch of characters who are in the first quarter of the book and the last quarter of the book and completely disappear in the middle.

Also, while there’s a lot that has to happen in Kel’s journey, there still is not enough to carry the entire center of the book on its own. There are two many slower-paced plot points, lots of internal conflict. and it would be good to have something a bit more actiony to contrast it. Also, I think if I show the effects of separation on the sisters from both sides it will make the [spoiler alert] eventual reunion more impactful. The readers will care about Bria just as much as they care about Kel…hopefully. Especially because eventually there will be a second book and Bria will have a much bigger part.

[I’m going to interrupt this blog post to make a note to myself because I just realized something – if I continue as planned I will have the girls apart for two books…I should probably then keep them together during the third book, maybe even a good chunk of the second. Ooh, and then I can show how all that time apart, especially for Bria, has changed them and they can fight and grow apart and have to repair their relationship…oh this is excellent]

Showing more of the Hound means we lose the shock of the “twist”, but he’s an interesting, complex character and I think the trade off is worth it.

Also Bria is quite insistent that she wants a bigger role. She’s a very vivacious little girl and refuses to disappear for half a book. I might add that originally she was supposed to have an even smaller role than she does not. She’s gone from very much a peripheral character to a viewpoint character!