The title is a little dramatic but it was such a struggle finding something short and fitting for everything I’m going to mention here, so I blatantly copied Judith’s idea. (Btw, also check out her Six of Crows wallpaper and sort-of-review because as always it’s miles better than anything I could ever do.)
So, hi! It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I last posted and I keep accidentally disappearing from the internet for sizeable stretches of time. Let’s say 60% of that is because of who I am as a person, but it’s also been a high-pressure, lowish-energy, terrible-time-management kind of year. (Case in point: this post was supposed to go up about a month ago, before I left for Munich. More about that in a minute.) I don’t know where I’m currently at in terms of reviewing and book-related posts. I was going to do a Bookish Bingo round-up post in which I quickly reviewed all the books I read for the Summer 2016 prompts, but who knows when that’s going to be posted. (Not me, that’s for sure.) But for the people who are still here for the actual bookish stuff, here are seven of my (relatively) recent favourite reads: The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Serpentine by Cindy Pon, The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli and Hate Is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub. There are more, of course, but we all know this post is already going to be long enough.
All right, now for what’s been going on in my life. I think the last time we did a Month in Review post, I mentioned how I was going to move back home this year, start a new MA, and submit a PhD proposal, and how I had nervous feelings about all those things. Well, moving back home went a lot better than I expected. It was a little weird in the beginning of course, because it’d been five years since I’d lived with my parents full-time, but it ended up being really nice. I have a tendency to get a little too much into my own head when I’m by myself for too long, especially during a year as busy as this past one, and parents are excellent people for checking you on that.
One of the main reasons my year was so busy in the first place is because I started a master in Gender and Diversity Studies. I graduated two months ago and I have mixed feelings about the programme. There’s so much I can say about it but I’ll keep it short. There were organisational issues and it was obvious that this was a two-year course load crammed into a single year because of budget cuts. More importantly, it was also very obvious that this MA was designed and mostly taught by white women, because the focus was very often on gender, with some vague awareness that intersectionality is a thing that exists. I don’t regret studying it, mostly because I met a lot of really great people, but it did confirm to me that when it comes to discussions of diversity and intersectionality, the internet is leagues ahead of academia. On the other hand, in terms of theory and history, there’s a certain background courses like this provide that is sometimes absent from internet discourse, which is why I prefer the combination of both. But yeah, academic circles definitely have room for improvement.
As for the PhD proposal, I didn’t get the funding I applied for. I was trying to be all blasé about it at the time, telling people I hadn’t expected my project to be approved, which was true, but I also realised during a conversation with my cousin that in a way I had counted on it because I hadn’t really thought of what other jobs I’d pursue if the research thing didn’t work out. This is what you get when you have commitment issues about everything and spent the last five years living on a day-by-day basis. Don’t be like me. Cue a few months of me not knowing what the hell I wanted to do with my life, realising I didn’t have any specific ambitions, going through the particularly demotivating hell that is the job search (with the bonus of very ambitious parents whose eternal motto is “aim higher”), and being a dramatic little shit about it all to Sana, Meg, and Judith, a.k.a. the most quality people in my life whose levels of patience are honestly admirable. Meanwhile I was also moving out of my parents’ place to an apartment right across the street (semi-independence, ha), which involved a lot of renovations, since it’s actually an old house being converted into apartments, and a lot of freaking out about the job situation between taking out drop ceilings, ripping off wallpaper, and lugging around billions of bricks. Adulthood. Vair vair fun.
So you can imagine that I was looking forward to visiting Meg in September even more than usual. And what do you know, the minute I’m finally united with the gravina, things start taking a turn. I get invited to two job interviews. One job I ended up getting, and the other made me figure out that if a research/academic career remains a no-go for me, I’d want to go into communication and project management. I’m also thinking of getting my teaching degree because that’s a third career I can see myself in. Then my advisor, who wants me to reapply for a research grant, emails me about a few spaces that have opened up at a research library in Munich and my application gets accepted. So that’s where I am now. I’m staying at the International Youth Library in Munich for six weeks (so two more at this point), working on my project, which is about the presence, nature and development of female relationships in YA fantasy. I still can’t believe this is a real thing I’m allowed to do because oh my god. I’m also using this time to prepare for two guest lectures I get to teach next year, which is slightly overwhelming in the best way possible. The picture above is my workspace, by the way.
It’s intense and I’m slightly overworking myself (I read 66 books in October when normally it’d be a struggle to even get to 15) but I’m so glad I got this chance. I’m going to do a separate post on my stay here because it’s a pretty good institution/fellowship programme for people who are interested or involved in scholarship on fairy tales and/or children’s lit (and also because I want to share some of my Munich adventures), but in the meantime, you can check out their site here. I linked the English page but you can of course read it in German as well. They also have a video with some of the researchers that were staying there in 2014.
But let’s get on to my personal highlight of the year, which is that after two years I was finally reunited with some of my favourite people in the entire world. And I met Dani (!!), who is so fun and easy to talk to, gives great hugs, and has excellent priorities (a.k.a. she brought ice cream), except for one, which is her lack of appreciation for pineapple on pizza. Meg shares this character flaw. Meg and I were the laziest people on earth that week, so that day we all just hung out on her patio, talking about romance novels and eating popcorn ice cream. These were actual good times. Again, there’s so much I can say about that week, but for the sake of (already failed) brevity, let me do that with the help of my CLE playlist, which is ordered more or less chronologically to my stay:
I do wish there was a prettier way to incorporate these. Anyhoo, judge away, these songs have sentimental value to me now anyway.
Most of these are just the result of us driving places and Meg playing her music and me being like “oh hey I like this song I should write down the details so I can look it up later”. Well, Hold Up wasn’t actually played because Meg’s heretic of a husband SKIPPED the song after the first few notes, which caused me to abruptly lean over in the middle of a conversation about P.S. I Like You and The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You I was having with Meg’s sister in the backseat and ask him if he’d just actually forwarded a Beyoncé song. Meg was just as offended (or so I’d like to think) and Starships was her marital revenge for that. The Celine Dion songs were part of the Team Mellis soundtrack during the cooking competition (which we totally won). Sure, this particular music choice was a strategy to keep the other team out of the kitchen but it’s also a throwback to our early friendship days when we decided to buddy read Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son, me in a 24-hour period without sleep, which led to me losing it over nr. 14 on this list and its connection to one-and-a-half-night-stands (it was a strange time in my life okay), and of course Meg was all too happy to jump in on this party of emotional destruction AND decided to add to it almost three years later by proposing we dedicate each of the songs to a particular Marchetta OTP while trying not to cry in the food we were preparing. Friendship. Tubthumping wasn’t technically played during my time in Cleveland, but it’s an honorary playlist addition because of reasons that have to do with the crackfest that is the Fever series and the origin story of the five Megs. (We have a very stable relationship.)
Things that did happen and are worth mentioning: exploring nature (for which I was 100% wearing the wrong shoes), enlightening Meg’s husband on the existence of fanfic and reading him a few My Immortal scenes to illustrate (greatly appreciated, I’m sure), me vocally judging Meg for displaying the candy I’ve sent her over the years on her bookshelves instead of eating it (which means some of it has actually EXPIRED now), Meg trying to fix my abysmal track record with movies by showing me some of her favourites and me being the worst and falling asleep during almost all of them (the couch was just VERY comfortable okay), me helping Meg with her Dutch pronunciation by going through Dutch for Dummies, Meg’s cat reluctantly accepting my presence (which in Monkey language apparently means she loves me), me announcing how much I love their house at least five times a day, the daily anti-Apple rant that I’m sort of missing now, a lot of sitting outside, talking and enjoying the gravina, and just the general fact that I could wake up, walk outside or into the living room and Meg would be right there (mush mush). I should have taken her up on her offer to stay the entire month but alas, life. At least I didn’t cry so hard while saying goodbye this time that her husband and sister actually had to turn their backs and face the wall because it was all so embarrassingly emotional. Nope, I held it together and blinked away most of my tears while intently staring at the sky, only to then lose control over about 60% of them during the group hugs. Ah, progress.
So that’s more of less what’s been going on with me. Like I said, I have two more weeks in Munich and then I’ll be starting my job. And I know it’s not like I’m moving across the country or anything but I’m still incredibly pumped to be moving into my own apartment soon. If you’ve made it this far: you’re the best and I’ll try to post something bookish soon. Hopefully.