Monday, November 15, 2010

I remember a classmate once arguing that "English" was a misnomer for what we do. She suggested that "Literature" would be a much better term, since literary students will find themselves faced with other languages and translations all the time. Heck, the most epic literary works we know were written in Greek and we deal with translations (except the semester I spent translating Book 6 of the Aeneid for advanced Latin, and also all my coursework in Anglo Saxon). But if "English" is a term fraught with peril, I'd say "Literature" is equally bad if not worse. What about the linguistic side of our studies? Surely that deserves some recognition.

Granted, many people I know assume that English is all about reading books. And honestly, you really don't always need a primary source (in the traditional sense of the word) (also, I love ITED). My MA research has no primary literary text, strictly speaking. But that's where "English" becomes a hazy label that I can't easily explain to civilians. The best I can do is to say that it's one of many angles that Humanities scholars can take, though I think I'll always have trouble explaining what literary theory is, and why. Perhaps the boundaries between the different departments are dissipating as time goes on, particularly with shifts in media.

On the other hand, for many years I've just taken it for granted that Academia accepted that we all "read" our environments, media, etc. every day of our lives. Trying to explain what my master's essay was about to anyone is truly painful, yet people unfortunately find it necessary to keep probing after I say "well it would be totally meaningless/uninteresting to you."

At any rate, it's all officially done now:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another Year Older

Looking back on yesteryear's birthday post, it seems that I've accomplished one of my birthday resolutions. I am officially Magister Artium. The essay itself shaped up into something pretty interesting, but I'm happy to be done with it. The defense seemed to be much less of a big deal than it's built up to be, but for all that it was plenty nerve-wracking.

Speaking of birthday posts, I guess this would be it. Despite being an excessively stressful week, this year's birthday was the best in many years: we went to see the ducks at the pond; perused the plant shop; and went for a surprise birthday dinner at a fine French restaurant. A bit of a shame much of the day was wasted at the office (alone, on a Saturday, which I'm becoming thoroughly sick of) and being inwardly gnawed by anxiety about my looming MA defense. Earlier this summer, I spent a couple weeks back home in Saskatchewan reuniting with family and camping with friends. Epic thunderstorms.

Now with school out of the way, I will be working nearly-full-time. Same old job, but more of it. I wish someone would pay me to draw cartoons or grow zucchini or something, the way they're so eager to pay people to play hockey.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Salty Sunday Morning

Victoria was host to the International Fleet Review this weekend, in celebration of the Canadian navy's 100th anniversary. One area of town seems to have taken up the opportunity to invent an awesome new annual celebration called Buccaneer Days. We went searching for boats at the harbour, but didn't see any (except for a model ship gathering that we passed). The optimal ship-viewing time would have been yesterday (during the actual fleet review), but Sunday morning is really the only available adventure time I can manage on weekends.

We walked along the Ogden Point breakwater, though, which I hadn't been to before.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Workynge week-ends ys a thynge of muche wo

I don't know why I hadn't come across Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog before now, seeing as I spent several years as a dedicated medievalist. It's all kinds of awesome. Having just read a wealth of Margery Kempe for a recent course, and having attended a 'helpful' seminar on what to expect and how to attend/prepare for the MLA (which I have no intention of ever doing), I especially loved this entry. Middle English is so great. In other academic news, Cary Wolfe—one of the bigger names in my field—recently came to the island and gave some talks, which was pretty exciting. Weekend work schedule means I wasn't able to tag along to the Massive Attack concert on the mainland this weekend. To add insult to injury, all day today the building is throbbing with drums, dancing, bare feet, dreadlocks, wailing-cheering, and vinegar. The organ in the performance hall at work is finally being restored after 10 years of disuse. The console has been sitting in the lobby for years, and intrigues me with its dark wood paneling, four manuals, and dozens of stops. The restored organ will be controlled digitally, and thus the console will be replaced to reflect that, which is a little disappointing. Pipe organs are something of a mystery to me, but as it happens I will have to learn how to compose for organ—and thus how they work—in order to enter a specific composition competition this winter. The first year I entered I made it to semi-finals, then last year I made it past quarter-finals, so if it weren't for the organ requirement this year I'd have a pretty good feeling.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

No more classes

As of last week, I'm totally done classes for my program (and that's a wonderful feeling after 7 years of post-secondary schooling!). This just leaves my final essay, which is roughly half finished and which I'll be defending in August. It's exciting stuff, but my motivation has been lacking of late. One thing I will say for university is that it provides a wealth of drawings ideas, and as soon as I can forage another battery for my camera I'll be back in business. (Actually, there are a lot of great things about university.)

I've been harbouring thoughts, recently (again), about going into Pharmacy like I had considered several years ago, but if it seemed grievous to embark on a 5-year degree at that time, it's an even bigger problem now with 3 more years of schooling under my belt.

The bad thing about working on weekends (actually, there are a lot of bad things about working on weekends) is that I'll almost certainly miss out on this year's Oak Bay Tea Party, among other things. Summer in Victoria is fantastic, but it would be nice if our schedules were more coordinated so we have more than Sunday mornings to enjoy it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cherry blossoms

It's cherry tree season. Some people get jazzed about rhododendron season, but streets lined with cottony blossoming trees in varying hues of pinkness and paved with snow-like drifts of petals are far more glorious. The sky has been absolutely clear and blue for days now, for the first time since last fall.

I've found the perfect walking route: it takes me past numerous blossoming trees; past that decaying cafe that remains untouched inside, like Miss Havisham's cafe if she ever chose to open one; past a house where a cat lives and sometimes perches near the sidewalk (sigh... how I wish I had a cat); past a yard with a few well-mannered and silent chickens; past an enormous abandoned house, surrounded by rusting and rotting things, that reminds me of an old farmhouse on some of Dad's land that we used to explore as kids, and I was always terrified of being attacked by raccoons in the upper storeys; past a huge blackberry patch grown out of control; down a silent residential street where the heavy traffic and ambulance sirens of the main road are strangely absent; up a wide street without sidewalks, but it's a dead-end anyway so you just walk along the middle of the road while people languidly stroll from house to house, chatting with other people leaning on fenceposts just enjoying the day. It feels like a small town with hints of a ghost town.

My schedule lends itself to a strange illusion of depopulation, for lack of a better way to describe it in a word. On Saturdays the morning sidewalks are still quiet, though as the year wears on they will fill; the same handful of people (my Saturday friends and nemeses) come by, with the occasional external event appearing unexpectedly (and predictably) early. On Sundays, almost no traffic goes by on the main road, the noon bus is virtually empty, the sunny sidewalks are also largely empty, and the day at work might pass with no more than a few familiar faces dropping by. On weekdays, much of the world seems to be at work or out of sight, and since I alternate between researching/writing at home and strolling around the neighborhood, I have little reason to go to more populous areas of town. Occasionally I'll wander around the grocery store, shoot the breeze with the affable cashier at till #4 (we have a bit of a rapport), wander on homeward through the silent hospital parking lot (where you rarely see people hanging out). Then on Thursdays when I go to my morning class, there are so many people jammed into the bus that it soon gives up and blazes right by the bus-stops while the waiting students look on forlornly and resentfully, and are obliged to wait for the next bus, or the next.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Christmas and everything after

I had intended to say a few words for Christmas, but apparently haven't gotten around to it (and now it seems rather late). In a word, it was wonderful. The only bad thing about going home for Christmas is coming back to people who say things like "How was your holiday? Cold?" Yeah cold, that describes it perfectly, I don't think anything else could quite capture the essence of Christmas holidays. (I have learned, via my current class, that I ought to type "/sarcasm" at this juncture.)

I'm now partway through my very last class for my M.A. It is very different from every other class I've taken in this program, and very interesting, but all the same I won't be sorry to have coursework completely behind me. I've also been working on my M.A. essay in a more focused way, and finally have a good idea what the terms I'm defining mean... somewhat.

Weekends are still spent working at the Conservatory, and what with Ryan working full-time during the week I've started to realize that weekend work really, really sucks—not to mention the regular suckiness that most work entails. We rarely get to hang out together in daylight anymore, which is entirely maddening.

It's about the time of year when I should be starting to work in earnest on a choral composition—third time just could be the charm. I really don't have any ideas, though, so we'll see what happens.