Emma is currently...

  • Addicted to: Fruit and nut mix
  • Listening to: Band of Joy - Robert Plant
  • Reading: Naples '44 - Norman Lewis

Friday, 25 September 2009

New Term Resolutions!

Summer is well and truly over now. We never have great summer weather in England, but now the weather really is herald to the autumn: every day is of the kind I love, chill and crisp with blue skies and sunshine. It's cold enough to wrap up in boots and jackets and scarves and go for long walks preceded by hot chocolate, but it's warm if you find a patch of sunlight and huddle in it.

The other exciting thing about autumn is that I start university again. I'm moving into my house the day after tomorrow. I will then spend a week sorting things out for the new term/going to house parties/sleeping until midday, and then lectures start the next week. I have such good intentions for this year, and plan to better myself in many ways. Of course, I know we all think like this, and that after about two weeks all our plans to transform ourselves into lifestyle gurus with superhero-like powers of organisation and infallible work ethics fall down in a pile of cataclysmic smoking ruin - but there's no harm in trying, is there?

Thus I present:

Emma's list of New Term Resolutions
  1. Get a term-time job. Progress: I have managed to force myself to download and look at the application form for waitressing at the on-campus bistro. This was very mentally taxing, which leads me to wonder how I will cope with 10-12 hours a week minimum serving people ciabattas and freshly squeezed orange juice, but all I need do to negate such lazy feelings is to look at the moth-balls and spiderwebs currently gathering in my purse/bank account.
  2. Get German lessons. Yes, I already speak German, but I have forgotten most of it in the past year, and if I went to Germany pretty much the only thing I'd be able to do is wander around panic-stricken accosting strangers with generic phrases such as, "Could you help me please, my camera is broken!" and "Excuse me, where is the youth hostel?" which would not get me very far. Progress: I have discovered that I must go to the Language Centre on a certain date to speak to a tutor about which class to be put in. I also have to pay about £150, thus increasing the necessity of Resolution 1. The biggest task, however, is not being too pathetic and shy to actually turn up at the Language Centre.
  3. Write every day. Even if it's just for half an hour. Even if all I can manage is to write the words "Chapter Seven" and then stare mindlessly at the screen for twenty-nine more minutes. Blogging, Facebook and creating abusive signs to stick on my housemates' doors do not count as 'writing'.
  4. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo. I did in in 2006 so I know it's possible. This is probably the worst year ever to start doing it again, since this year actually counts towards my degree, but I've made an account now and am an 'official participant' so I've already signed my own death warrant, really.
  5. Work harder. Progress: I have got off to a good start because I have read several of my course books over the summer. This year I am going to read all my books, do all my work, actually speak in seminars, spend time in the library, and attend lectures and seminars rather than deciding I have a cold and then going into town to buy cookies and milkshakes.
  6. Be nicer to people. I have been described as an ice queen far too many times in the past few years. This is, in fact, just a front I put on to hide my crippling shyness; I'd rather people think I don't want to talk to them than have them realise I am boring and have nothing to say to them. Well, I do have things to say, as this blog proves, but I assume they won't be interested. This year I am going to be open and friendly to everyone and if they aren't interested it doesn't matter. In particular I will be nicer to random strangers who approach me in bars/clubs. I always assume that if a guy approaches me he must be a sleaze. Well, my housemate O talks to loads of random people when we're out, and though they do sometimes turn out to be not very nice, she has met plenty of perfectly normal people and made some great friends. I must follow her example.
  7. Eat healthy food. No more surviving on a diet of soup, toast, baked beans and cereal, thus giving myself scurvy and rickets. I play to buy loads of interesting fruit and vegetables so I can make myself smoothies and casseroles and be a domestic goddess in general.
  8. Go to the gym regularly. Is three times a week too ambitious? Probably. My friend Pip and I have decided we are going to run a marathon (Is the London Marathon too ambitious? Probably.) which means I need to hit the running machine hard.
I will update you on the progress of these resolutions as term begins. Hopefully lots of interesting things will happen to me and I will be able to update this blog more frequently. I will also have lots of interesting literary things to talk about - since that was the original purpose of this blog I should really include some of it. English is, after all, awesome.

To the new term!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


I haven't had time to post in a while because I have been insanely busy. I haven't been doing anything that important; just lots of mundane little things, which I will now relate to you, because I'm in that kind of mood.

I went to see We Will Rock You for the third time with my parents and aunt. We saw it in Birmingham because it's easier for my aunt to get there. Birmingham has almost become a home-from-home city for me, what with it being so easy to get to from university. It was nice to go back there and reminisce about university times: shopping trips, eating cake in Druckers, haggling with a very insistent man in the market over the sale of eight umbrellas (don't ask). It was nice to see my aunt, whom I haven't seen in years. We're very different: she lives in the country, where she has no car, computer, satellite TV or even a shower, while I'm a suburbs girl a stone's throw from London. So we don't have a lot in common, and I was worried it would be awkward, but it wasn't. She was lovely and she bought me a top with a big shiny gold owl on it I have been coveting for ages. Score. WWRY was good as always.

What else? I went to see a dance show in London with a friend. I also hung out with my friend who's just come back from travelling in Asia, and we chatted for ages. She had some pretty scary experiences, including being bitten by a venomous spider about the size of my head (I am still traumatized from the photos).

We also drew up The Oath. We both want to get fit before we go back to university, so we decided that for three weeks and three days we're going to do exercise every day and only eat healthy food. It's pretty strict: forbidden items include alcohol, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, sweets, crisps, white bread, cheese, coffee, potatoes, pasta, rice and any snacks between meals. If we eat any of these we have to do double the exercise. When I tell people about it I always hear cries of, "What? But you're so skinny!", but it's not about losing weight. It's just about being healthy. When I stuff my face with cake and drink about four cups of tea a day, as I usually do, I always feel tired and sluggish. It's been five days and I'm already feeling more alive.

I did have a nasty run-in with a bar of chocolate at my friend's house on day three, though. It literally shoved itself in my mouth. I don't know how that happened! Anyway, I did the forfeit, so it's fine.

My friend from university came to stay the next day and I showed her the joys of my village. We went to the park and had a picnic on one of the piers overlooking the lake. The weather was beautiful and the geese didn't try to kill us for our food. Then we watched an entire series of Peep Show and two movies. It was a lovely day! On Sunday I had a very successful shopping trip with my mum. We got a load of CDs, including a Rachmaninov CD for me, which made me very happy. Then I got some boots that I am so pleased with. I have been looking for some good quality leather black ankle boots, as well as some brown mid-calf ones with buckles, for ages, and then they both came along at once. They are gorgeous, and they were both bargains! The black ankle boots were £15 down from £100. I am actually in love with the brown boots. They are Kurt Geiger, originally £230, down to £71! It was still a lot of money but considering what good quality they are I am really pleased. Especially since I can never find shoes to fit my ridiculously small feet.

That probably bored the life out of you, didn't it?

Amongst doing all this stuff, I have just realised how much I need to do before returning to university, and it's making me panic a bit. I have a pile of at least fifteen books on my shelf, all of which need to be read at some point in the next three weeks. I just finished Anita and Me by Meera Syal (very good), The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe (unremarkable), and have managed to plough most of the way through Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Next up is Scarlet and Black by Stendhal, which looks like the most unexciting read ever. I really don't think I'm going to get through all these books.

On top of that I'm trying to write two stories, and my friends keep phoning me and asking me to do things in the little free time I have left. I know it's terrible, but sometimes I feel almost resentful when people snap up all of my free time. I should be grateful that I have wonderful friends who want to spend time with me, and I love spending time with them, but often all I want to do is turn off my phone and curl up in bed with a book. I get really stressed. It's a weird metaphor, but this is how I feel when there are too many things demanding my time and attention: I feel like the centrepiece of a Sunday roast. I'm sitting there in the middle of the table, trying to mind my own business, but people keep on tearing strips off me until I'm just a pile of bones.

Is that too melancholy?

Ah well, I'm off to Portugal with some friends from university in two weeks. Three girls, three guys and one undoubtedly very messy apartment. Most importantly, a beach and a swimming pool. There will be plenty of time to relax there!