Posts Tagged ‘classics’

I got my exam results a few weeks ago and I tweeted, IM’d, FaceTimed, emailed and FaceBook’d – hell I even went on LinkedIn! But what I haven’t done so far is blog or had a full on celebratory meal as there is a bit too much going on at the moment and I’m on a restricted diet.

I did really well in my May exams, and I am graduating with an upper second honors degree in Classical Studies. This means dyslexic Cinderella can apply for graduate school in the future – not right now obviously.  I am really really happy. It’s been a hard slog (six years and five of them working full time) but I got there in the end, and it’s worth saying a few thank yous as I would never have got here without some amazing support.

Thank you Alex for supporting me on this crazy journey. For allowing me to ignore you for significant chunks of the year, for high jacking our vacations and forcing you to look at Roman ruins or dragging you around museums or for the infamous hike up Vesuvius in 100F weather. But at least you have a good grasp of Greek and Roman history and art now; and just as an aside thank you for not balking when I announced that I was planning on learning Latin and teaching it to the Cylons.

Thank you Mum for encouraging (if not enabling) my love of all things classical over the years. For looking after me when I would rock up to London every May to sit my exams and took over your spare room. For bringing me endless cups of decaf tea and snacks. For driving miles for me to pick up a flat white (possibly the greatest coffee ever). For going to study days at the British Museum, and hit or miss productions of Greek tragedy and comedy (more hit than miss) all over the UK. And thank you for offering to learn Latin so that I could practice by emailing you.

Thank you Stephen for being a great friend as we both persevered through the uncharted territories of the Virtual Learning Environment and experienced a wide range of tutor support (the good, the bad and the one who was based in the middle of nowheresville China with no access to the internet). Distance learning can be lonely but knowing someone made it much more fun, and now we can both graduate and wear tweed with pride!

Thank you to the amazing tutors that I had over the years. Those like Dr. Joanne Berry, Dr. James Tuck and Dr. Sharon Shellock who went beyond the parameters that were laid out for online tutors.

Thank you to my Dad for always being willing to meet me for a post-exam coffee at The British Museum, and to Beverly at the Adult Education College in Bexley who way back in early 2003/4 accommodated me as an external student in sitting A-levels so I could test the water for going back to school.

Thank you one and all!

My Twitter feed is chock full of tweets about the Virgin London Marathon that is happening today in.. duh.. London, and it reminded me that this time last year I was there. It wasn’t the weekend of the marathon but it was the weekend of the volcanic ash cloud craziness. The Icelandic volcano kicked off on the Thursday and it  grounded flights right, left and center. I’d been in London that week for a series of meetings with my (now ex-) company and our entire global team was stranded there. It was a very odd time. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I made the decision to stay in London since I was due to fly back over at the end of April and given that I could stay with family so I wasn’t running up a hotel bill and I got a refund on my personal flight so it was a win-win for me. As it turned out everyone flew out within a week or so of the volcanoes initial explosion but it was an odd situation to be in. I think it was the uncertainty that flummoxed everyone.

April is always a fraught month for me, volcano or no volcano, as it signifies the lead up to my exams. The juggling of day job and studying comes to a head and leaves me with stress dreams, an uncontrollable blinking eye and a heart that feels like it is going to burst out of my chest at any moment. Things are a little different this April as I am minus the day job but with three final exams to prep for I feel like I have too much stuff going on in  my head. Thankfully there is some cross over between Greek Drama, Women in Antiquity, and Nero to Hadrian. Yesterday I managed to wade through The Aeneid (one of my many bete noirs) and I am actually feeling excited about re-tackling Lucan’s Civil War on Monday. Imperial epics are probably the toughest thing I’ve had to study as they purposefully set out to be disjointed and fucked-up texts. Going forward I’ve decided to think of them as Klingon epics as they might be easier to make sense of with a couple of glasses of blood wine.

Where oh where has the week gone? Suddenly it is Saturday afternoon and I find myself in a Malaysian restaurant in Hoboken. My first proper trip out in a week, and there were shrimp dumplings and tofu to celebrate. I’ve been under virtual house arrest studying all week so every day ran into each other. No lunches in the city, trips to the grocery store or sessions at the gym to break things up. It was my most pathetic foursquare week ever. Even Alex working from home on Friday because of the snow didn’t disrupt. We both sat in front of our laptops typing away, ignoring each other as we are dedicated to our respective causes.

That being said, I got a lot of studying done, and feel like I am starting to climb the mountain that is my humongous to-do list. I am somewhere around base camp at the moment but I’ve got my crampons and a rucksack full of Kendal mint cake so I am good to go. I’ve been reading Pliny the Younger’s letters – specifically the ones about his houses. Back in the day he didn’t have the benefit of MTV Cribs in order to show-off his properties, and since they were some distance from Rome he had to rely on correspondence to spread the word about his snazzy dining room with a pool in it so food could float towards his guests. It would appear that Romans are as lazy as New Yorkers when it comes to going anywhere above 59th Street (I am sorry the Upper what?). All this reading about lush villas and neglecting my foursquare account got me thinking about Romans and social media. Given how much Roman life relied on (and relished) self-promotion I think they’d have enjoyed Twitter and FaceBook but I reckon that foursquare would have been pretty dangerous.

Sure it would have been fun at first. Everyone checking into the Senate, temples or their patron’s house. Vying to become mayor. The excitement of a shiny new toy to highlight how important and cool you are by where you have been, and badges to collect! There so would have been a ‘Crossed the Rubicon’, ‘Britannia 4 Life’ and ‘I’m on a boat & not coming back because I’ve been sold into slavery!’. But, things would get bloody. There would be generals invading Gaul just to get the ‘Marauders’ badge. Suddenly foursquare rewards would rival a triumph or war loot. Imagine a prominent politician not being the mayor of his own home. Some underling who visited his house regularly stealing it. Oh the shame.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Pliny didn’t have access to modern social media tools as he would have been an oversharer, and I’d have even more things to read.

1. Study hard & aim to get firsts in final exams: Greek Drama, Nero to Hadrian & Women in Antiquity
2. Start to learn “dead” languages: Latin & Greek
3. Start to learn a “live” language: German, French or Italian
4. Look for a part-time job in May to pay for language courses & perhaps a MacBook Air
5. Volunteer somewhere that will help with getting into grad school & the next stage of my “career”
6. Take self-defense & first aid courses
7. Bake my own bread
8. Become a Jedi master in icing Star Wars cookies
9. Visit Hadrian’s Wall
10. Write more
11. Use Evernotes & other helpful techie tools (if only to keep Alex quiet)
12. Read thirty-four books
13.  Learn how to butcher a chicken
14. Figure out some topics to do weekly blog posts about
15. Become a Netflix ninja & get through more DVDs
16. Cook at least one new recipe every week
17. Learn to love Roman writers
18. Plan a trip to utilize my new language skills (see 3)
19. Attend the Williamstown Theater Festival (dependent on productions – please no ‘Our Town’ in 2011)
20. See the US Air Force Thunderbirds
21. Plan day trips to explore the tri-state
22. Send a care package(s) to the troops
23. Read some poetry (other than my old dead poets, & beloved W.H. Auden)
24. Learn how to bake French macaroons
25. Start knitting for Christmas 2011
26. Comment on more blogs
27. Learn to use Alex’s old manual camera
28. Get inked
29. Darn my socks
30. Clear out my closet & don’t live in yoga pants
31. Apply for citizenship
32. Eat at WD-50, Daniel, Craft & Annisa
33. Floss!
34. Join a book group

I am in limbo at the moment. September is that kind of month. Fluctuating temperatures have me flip flopping between switching over wardrobes or hanging on for that Indian summer (that is always promised). Those pumpkin spice lattes that I desire right up until my first sip when I remember why I only have one per year. A DVR that is empty because the summer shows have ended and the new seasons have yet to begin. And of course, waiting on my school materials to arrive and quietly freaking out that this is my final year.

FINAL YEAR, bitches!

I can’t quite believe that I have almost got through this BA. Five years of juggling work and school, and ignoring Alex for most of the year. Just three courses (‘Greek Drama’, ‘Women in Classical Antiquity’ and ‘From Nero to Hadrian: literature & society’) are standing between me and graduate school. Oh that and learning some languages and GMATs. Fun times ahead, but at least I am a hell of a lot closer to my goal than when I started in 2005.

Dumb dumbs

Posted: 10/26/2009 in Navel gazing
Tags: , ,

Today was a good day. The right level of busy that allowed me to answer shed loads of emails AND update Twitter.  I was able to take a killer aerobics class after work AND manage to stay awake long enough to plow through Suppliants (again) whilst breaking it down by its dramatic structure.

I am all about dramatic structure.

I spent the weekend getting my head around Freytag and his 5 acts (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution), and the Greek’s rinse and repeat of stasimon-episode-stasimon. The basics can be found in any procedural crime drama. Law & Order even gives the climax it’s own sound effect (in case you hadn’t figured out that the twist comes in around the 34 minute mark). I like the consistency of being able to break plays down in this fashion, and hopfully it will pay off come exam time.

Not quite as exciting as Battlestar Galactica: The Plan which is released in a little under a month (yippee) but I am going to make libations to the gods for a productive weekend. The weekend kicked off with sushi at Blue Ribbon and then finishing the latest Alexander McCall Smith novel ‘The Lost Art of Gratitude” so that must mean that I’ll get through my back log of school work. Though how I can have a back log before the seminar time table is published is beyond me but there you go.

So my plan for the weekend:

  • Read chapter 9 in my Pompeii source book on excavation reports
  • Prep for Pompeii seminar on modern excavations at Pompeii & Herculaneum
  • Re-read, and make notes on The Persians and The Suppliants
  • One-pager on The Persians, and Suppliants

On top of this I have other errands to run like buying belly of pork so I can make a stew, tidying the apartment so I can think straight and going shoe shopping with Alex. Because a new project means new shoes. Okay it doesn’t mean that but his old ones are leaking and the rainy season is upon us.