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[Comments] (1) : It snowed. A lot.

[Comments] (2) Ugh: Sorry to make my first real entry in months complainy, but I am sooo frustrated right now. I have been trying to book my trip to the states for two weeks now, and it seems like every time I look ticket prices have gone up. I don't want to book my tickets until I have Tonks' travel sorted out, and it is turning out to be sooo much more complicated than I ever expected it would be. It's not like I went into this with my eyes shut; I did a lot of research and asked a lot of people who had done it, but now it is turning out that no airline will fly pets into London as baggage, they all have to be cargo, which is much more expensive and pain-in-the-ass-y. The only airline I was actually able to talk to was Virgin and they wanted to charge something like $600 or $700. one way! Now I'm waiting to hear back from United and British airways after spending virtually all day on hold. I guess one possibility is that on cargo I think he can fly unaccompanied, so maybe I can scratch the trip to CA off my bday wishlist and use the money for him instead. This is just getting so ridiculous and out of hand. To make matter worse I'm sick, and everyone had the winter blahs and is in a bad mood. (Including me.)

[Comments] (1) A little bit late: But worth the wait?

Here's my bday wishlist for this year:
Tonks
UK wishlist
US wishlist

[Comments] (1) I've still got my health: 2009 has been a great year so far, but I seem to cursed when it comes to HSBC and my money. It started off with me waiting patiently for my loan refund for this term, increasingly less patiently, until finally towards the end of January I got an email from the powers that be at BBK saying my loan check, which I had endorsed 6 weeks previously, had gotten lost in the mail and they would let me know when new ones were reissued (taking months, no doubt, plus the addition 4-6 weeks to clear). In the meantime, how was I supposed to eat? Not their concern, apparently. With the history department on my side, checks were rushed through but when they (surprisingly, haha) failed to arrive in the promised time, the department made me a loan. However, thanks to the glories of the UK banking system, by the time that check had cleared, I had my money (suspiciously less than it should have been. As it turns out BBK was hording the money and now, during the last term I have twice as much as I received for the previous one. Makes sense? Good).

So, into February and I've been surviving on the kindness of friends and especially flatmates. But I have my money now so all should be well, right? Well, my card was supposed to expire at the end of Feburary, but halfway through the month it stopped working. I patiently waited for my replacement card. It never came. I went to HSBC to find they had sent it to CALIFORNIA. because it does me so much good there. They ordered a new one. I waited patiently. It never came. Went in again. The second one had also been sent to CA. Of course. Finally a card ordered to the branch in King's X which I went to pick up on Tuesday.

Money! Hallejuah!! Yesterday I was at Waterstones to pick up a guidebook for Barcelona. I stick my card into the chip reader and entered my PIN since they said it would stay the same. Incorrect PIN. Try again. Nope. FABULOUS. So now I've ordered a PIN reminder which should be sent to me in 7 days. Hopefully. We'll see. Thanks to everyone for being so patient with me!!

[Comments] (1) Hmm: Being on the receiving end of conference paper proposals for once, I am SHOCKED by how many are coming in BEFORE the deadline. I always sent mine at the very last minute.

“For myself, I think the Balkans suit me well this year anyway.”: I'm back at my old haunt, the Imperial War Museum. It's an epic journey from East Finchley to Waterloo or Elephant and Castle, but at least it's a straight shot, so I can sit and pretend I'm elsewhere. They're working on the front on the building, so you have to walk around to the schools entrance. There always seem to be at least 500 kids running around the various guns and planes and tanks. This week, most of them are French. Oh, eurostar, how I love you, how I hate you.

I can hear the clanging of the construction very clearly from the reading room, but it's easy enough to ignore when I get lucky and hit a collection of letters that's easy to read: interesting and well written in legible handwriting. The best are those written by someone with a passionate reason for journalling, or someone very attached to his family. Here's one, "poor Private Haines," who works as a dental assistant and tells his parents in every letter not to worry about him. He also sends them money and tells them to “GET A BOTTLE OF WINE [underlined 4 times] out of my next installment.” In a way they remind me of my own letters home, always starting with excuses of how busy I've been and begging for forgiveness for not writing sooner, and ending with requests for care packages including cheetos soap, jam, and film.

In other discoveries, "in town" seems to be universal Britspeak for London, even if they live elsewhere. or in outer London. Here it is in 1916, and my own friends use it today, asking "are you going in town?" to mean central London.

Breathe in: I went to the basic Pilates class at the gym, and I was the youngest person there by 30 years at least. maybe because it's in the middle of the morning on a Friday? Theoretically I should wait till tomorrow to see if there are any unpredicted effects, but I think next time I'll aim for the intermediate class.

[Comments] (1) Save it for a rainy day: One good thing about all the crappy weather we get here (especially recently) is that once it does get sunny, you really appreciate it. Of course, that just makes it harder to be inside hard at work on a sunny day.

PhD notes: There is another R Richardson who uses the rare books & music reading room at the BL. And they're working on microbiology.

the more I read, the more I find it difficult to imagine that the balkan front was anything like the western front — it was simply too much fun. here’s the thing — I guess, my research on western front is not really extensive enough for me to do some kind of comparison. there is a vast, vast divide between rank and file men who had to be out in the “trenches” and mountains, who had very little comfort and hard work to do in intemperate weather. Fighting was at least a relief from the boredom of macedonia, but an infrequent one. Soldiers were frustrated by the lack of work — the lack of fighting work — in Macedonian. The reputation that the Macedonian front had simply made matters much worse for them.

One the other hand: relief workers, hospital staff, and officers had plenty of their own work to do. Unlike soldiers, who were expecting to and were expected to fight, they were doing what they had signed up to do. The importance and value of work comes into play here — as do gender and class notions behind what is proper work for certain types of people to do. Whether they were upholding this or breaking down these boundaries…

Also, the reputation that the Macedonian front had, is not altogether untrue. it’s possible that the western front has just as many diversions for troops behind the front line — I don’t know, but no one was really complaining about it were they? it’s only because these men were having a “picnic” of a time not fighting that they should not have been allowed to have these distractions, public felt. Totally unfair, but there you have it.

This ‘picnic’ atmosphere however, created a unique social consortium of the British and their Allies on that front. The ways in which they attempted to and failed to re-create a home-like society is revealing of their priorities. But what significance, then, is the fact that most of the average soldiers, the lower classes of men, were stuck in the front lines, and participated in this society, if at all, as transient members, or simply as observers?

things I need to look at then: more rank and file men. public opinion — newspaper library. urgh.

Overheard at the IWM:
Little old lady: "Listen to those air raid sirens. That takes me right back to my childhood. It used to make your blood run cold."

[Comments] (4) Stickies: Lately I've been alternating between the British Library (organizing my research and reading secondary material, hoping desperately to be struck with inspiration for my own analysis) and the Imperial War Museum (plowing ahead with my research, now trying to find the perspective of the rank and file), so I spend 2-3 days a week at each (I spend a day at home sometimes, if the weather or my mood is bad, but find I get next to nothing done.)

The IWM is of course, a working museum, and a small archive, so one can hardly blame them for being somewhat inefficient in this sense -- but I do anyway if I'm feeling like it. The reading room is in an atmospheric (when they aren't hammering away on the outside) upper dome of the building, but it means you have to trek through the inner workings of the museum to get there, which means you have to check in at reception and wait for a messenger to escort you every time you want to go up, which is at least twice a day unless you skip lunch. No popping out for tea breaks every few hours until your thermos tea starts to taste more of thermos than of tea...

You also have to wear a little name badge while you're behind the scenes, which I used to see as a badge of honor but I now see as a waste of our planet's finite resources... Usually when I'm done for the day I stick it on my BL clear plastic bag (which I also use at the IWM) because I feel this gives me some street cred as a Serious Research Student Who Goes to the IWM A Lot. Also I think it may lend the plastic bag more durability. The other day at the BL I noticed someone else who has done this! Aha. (Not someone I recognize from the hours spend slaving over bad handwriting in the aforementioned dome, but I usually don't pay much attention to the live humans in there anyway. Maybe I should start.) Then today as I was shoving my stuff into safekeeping I noticed someone who had put their IWM sticker inside of the BL locker. From 2002! A historical artifact! Also, someone who has visited the IWM and the BL in the same day, which means they are either overambitious or being chased by a crazed assassin, like the character in my novel. The BL does have an advantage over the IWM in that it's open till 8 Mon-Thur and I've sometimes pondered the hypothetical idea of coming to the BL after the IWM chucks us out at 5 to do more work -- but I think I'll save such desperate measures for next year.

[Comments] (1) British Warm... what?: I finally caved and googled to find out what this is. Oh. A COAT.

[Comments] (3) Streetcycle: While theoretically I'm an advocate of freecycle, the utility of trekking about London to get something that may or may not be what you actually want is questionable, as evidence by the time I walked half an hour to get what I thought was a yoga mat but was actually, fairly enough, some other type of "exercise mat." The chances of someone near you having what you want to spare -- and of them being on freecycle -- are greatly reduced when "near you" is limited to walking and public transportation. Sad. Well in London something else has popped up to fill in the gaps left by freecycle: street cycle. It's amazing how many times I've walked past just what I needed discarded to the street for anyone to take. Wooden fruit boxes for organizing. An organiser file. The other week it was a pair of uggs! They were filthy and a midge too small, but I threw them in the washer, thinking I don't have much to lose and since the main thing I wanted them for was evening trips to budgens, it hardly matters. Free! That's the way I like it. Of course, there are disadvantages. It's probably not legal. Extremities of weather might damage the item before you get to it. The uncertainty of whether a suitable new owner will come along before the trash collection does. But as far as convenience and serendipity goes, it can't be beat!

Calling the kettle: Why does the pot get its own tea?

Touch and go: I have a bad habit of losing my oyster card. This is a pain because of a number of reasons: you have to call and get a replacement card, which costs £5, and you're stuck without a pass till you get your new one. (They're usually pretty quick about it if it's not the beginning of the school year, though.) You can get your pay as you go refunded pretty quick, but for travel passes you have to wait for them to mail you a check. Last time I lost it I had just bought a monthly pass a few days before, so that's £80 that I have to wait 6 weeks for it to come and then clear in my bank account. Except a 2 months later, I'm still waiting. I called up to see what the haps was (half an hour down the drain) and found out the person dealing with my refund forgot to close the case so my refund was never processed. Niiice. Way to go, TFL.

[Comments] (3) Immigrant/expat, what's the difference?: The big news is the BNP, a crazy rightwing party, has managed to swing two seats in the recent european parliamentary election. I picked up a BNP pamphlet the other day when I got off the overground at Kew, because I was so surprised to see someone had stuck it in with a lot of TFL brochures, and I was curious to see what it says. Then I began to fear what people would think of me if they saw me reading it. The irony is I'm actually an immigrant myself -- could I ever oppose immigration? A lot of it is not so bad -- protecting the environment, etc. Then there is the "We're not racist, but..." yes, actually, you are.

Labour is at an all time low, and while it's very upsetting to think of the idea of a conservative government, especially as they'll likely end up changing immigration laws, part of me feels they should give up the ghost. I don't know who I'd vote for, but the possibilities of a multi-party system (unlike what we have in the US) are appealing and I quite like the idea of more leftist parties, such as the Greens or the Lib Dems, coming into power even if it's part of a coalition with Labour. But then again it doesn't matter how I'd vote -- I'm just an immigrant.

[Comments] (1) Work-a-day London: You may have heard that we are having a tube strike. You might think of me as the type to be in sympathy with strikers, but I say bring it on! Tube drivers already make way more than the average person and they want a 5% raise during a recession when most people consider themselves lucky to find a job. Well, apparently most drivers themselves don't agree, because as I discovered this morning the Northern Line is running with minor delays, so all my careful plans to situate myself in a location where I could walk to the BL were for nought. Also actually walking was quite an enjoyable experience, or at least it would have been if it hadn't been for the rain and complete chaos surrounding king's cross.

Full House: Kristen and Michelle are visiting right now, and Anne is arriving tonight. Michelle has been here for 6 weeks or so, and she met Kristen in Paris over the weekend. Now they are both staying with me. We had a fun day yesterday, a pub lunch followed by a bus tour: the no 11 from Liverpool St which takes in most of London’s main sights. Then we came home and chatted and soaked our ‘feetsies’ in the tub, and I coerced Michelle into giving me a footrub. She gives the best foot rubs! I can’t believe she has been here for 6 weeks and I haven’t made her give me one yet. We are all looking forward to Anne’s arrival and the potential of pedicures. It was so fun just hanging out with them. Being over here I guess I forget what it’s like to be around people who know my family and all the goss, and who have known me for longer than 2 years.

[Comments] (2) T plus: 3 days till T time!

[Comments] (1) T update: Tonks seems to be adjusting really well. He spent the first night in Jenn’s closet but last night he slept with us for the first bit and spent the rest of the night prowling or who knows what. How do you tell if a cat is jet lagged? My friend who brought her dog over said he got jet lagged, but cats have such sporadic sleeping hours anyway I wonder if it makes a difference.

He is getting along well with all the inhabitants of the house who seem to have taken a liking to him as well, except perhaps Nimbus who regards him with some caution. I’m sure the idolising stage will come in a bit! As nimbus has always adored having other cats around.

So far he has been busy exploring our house and has not shown any desire to go outside. His new favourite hiding place is behind the couch – although Seb said he had to move it out a bit so he doesn’t get stuck!

[Comments] (1) How do you tell if a cat has jet lag?: When he wakes you up in the middle of the night demanding dinner, he has jet lag.

on bed: I just love hanging out with my kitty. he is so sweet!

[Comments] (1) Consolidation: Getting rid of books is harder for me than getting rid of anything else. Clothes, for example, don't look pretty on a shelf.

[Comments] (2) Consolidation and Wealth: I'm moving. Therefore I'm trying to get rid of stuff. In an effort at streamlining, I went through my wardrobe and took out everything that I don't wear or don't like to wear because it doesn't quite fit or I don't really like it or whatever. I thought I might take them to one of those clothing exchanges, but I don't really have time for that, so I thought of the brilliant idea of selling them on ebay. (I realise now this is illogical) Then I might make some of my investment back! Well this morning I started the process of sorting and listing and after nearly an hour, no where near done, I realised how stupid I was being. I was using the precious time taken off paid work specifically for academic work, to do something that would make me less money than if I was actually working and that was much less enjoyable. So I crammed it all into bags for the charity shop and started on my paper proposals.

Maybe it's the fact that I'd already gotten rid of it in my head that makes it easier to let go, but I know that once they're gone, I won't miss those clothes or books (yes, books!) With very few exceptions, I've never missed anything I've gotten rid of. There are a few things I wish I could have kept, but that's different, a choice made when knowing that keeping is impractical. There's no point in cluttering my wardrobe with and forcing myself to wear clothes I don't really like just because they're "nice" and/or I spent some money on them last year or 5 years ago. I already get remarkable utility on the stuff I have and do use; time to give the rest a chance with someone else.

[Comments] (2) Notes in the column of a chapter of my story:

i'd much rather have the final death scene at the BL but i think logistically that document has to be at the national archives.

before they leave, they recieve a message from

this needs serious work

john goddard macclesfield counciller
"I nearly stole a child on the tube but then I remembered... it was illegal."

cut the anti serbian, anti east london crap

Dear brain:
The novel I wrote 5 years ago is not actually a source I can use in my PhD, even if it does perfectly exhibit the changing standards of propriety during war time.

Sincerely,
me

Where: early modern England (map): Sometimes the automatic features of Google Calendar crack me up. For instance this Wednesday I am supposedly attending a seminar in "Auschwitz and Israel".

[Comments] (2) : Well, they've started showing christmas ad(verts) so I guess it's time for this.

More fun with google: Did you mean:greece macedonia border near London, UK

no actually I didn't

[Comments] (1) Wishlist update: here is the UK edition (duh)

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