Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two Weeks of Summer

Since getting off college from exams, I've managed a few things. Obviously, I got drunk after exams. It would be rude not to. I kind of needed it at that stage. But that's aside the point. I did other things.

I'm happy to report, I did some writing. I'm in the middle of a fun project that got interrupted by my desire to read. I'll have more about that project at some stage soon. I did sign someone up to read it, though. It just isn't finished yet.

See, I haven't had a chance to read for a while. College exams and the dreadful workloads that attack us throughout the year sort of make things like that impossible. Too much else to read and to write. I'm surprised I managed to do other things, like Drama and the previous Sooper Sekrit Project. But I did. I just didn't have time to read.

I made up for it over the past week, though. I started off with something light: I Suck At Girls. It was a funny book, an autobiographical piece by Justin Halpern. Less of his dad and the shit he says, but still enjoyable. Following that, Storm Front. I've had it for a long time. I got it in a bargain basket at work. They only happen around Christmas time, and I promise I didn't get last Christmas. Yeah... that long ago. I loved it, I'll review it, etc. You know the drill. After that, I read The Enchantress by Michael Scott. Again, loved it. Even emailed the author to tell him pre-review why I loved it.

I thought, that's it. That's my reading done. Back to writing. Then I picked up a book today about Screenwriting. Well, I read it. All of it. I loved it.

It's something I've been interested in for a long time. I've only ever written one screenplay before now, a twenty minute zombie apocalypse film called Dead Dreams. It was a fun piece, but nothing ever happened with it. Not to worry.

Recently, I've been getting ideas for stories. I say stories, because I see them as both films and novels. I suppose I'll write both. It can't hurt, anyway. Maybe, someday, I'll even get involved in the business. It interests me and terrifies me in equal measure.

Aside from all of this and continuing to work in the bookshop, I've only really done one other thing of note, and that was tea/coffee with my best friend earlier this week. Fun as it was, it's not exactly the most exciting summer so far.

It's relaxing, though, and I suppose I can get by with that. One or two blips along the way, thanks to my college and its requirements for teaching placement, but other than that I can just lay about and read and write all day. Heck, I think I deserve a break! Two weeks of summer has seemed like a long time, though. I need to get busy again, soon, or I'll crack up. Even the couple of hours between finishing the book today and going to vote were driving me insane.

God help me for the rest of the summer...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Freedom and Conquest

The great gift of literature is its examination of the world we never knew. Preserved in time from the moment the words reach the public, we are given a looking glass through which we can see the worlds of freedom and conquest in the history of humankind, from the white woman who 'knows her place' to the black nation that succumbs to an idea by a great Caucasian empire.

I generally love the idea of getting to discover the trials and tribulations of our race through literature. In preparation for my exams, I found myself studying The Awakening and Heart of Darkness, two radically different stories. One tells us of freedom, the other of colonialism, and neither paints a very good picture. What should have been a life of joy and creativity turns to a life of extremism, loneliness and desperation.

It doesn't paint a great picture of an artist, does it? Free from a repressive relationship, genuinely successful enough to live on her own, and still unhappy.

Or how about the Brit that got away? Takes a nation by the horns and ends up dead.

Neither freedom not conquest end well, not in these cases. It poses a question for life: are we better to conquer or to escape? It comes down to the context of our lives, and how we plan on getting by.

Edna flees a life she was never happy with it. She does it boldly and bravely, but with a knowledge that she had a gift she could earn from. Even with company, even with this gift, however, Edna must come to a realisation: in running away from everything she once knew, she has no way of surviving when her last safe-guard falls apart.

Kurtz, on the other hand, rules with an iron fist. And where did that get him? Right... not very far. Just like Edna, he finds himself an early grave in a heat of madness, taken too far from the life he once knew.

Is there a middle ground between freedom and conquest? I imagine there is, but it seems difficult to tell how one might tackle the world without going insane. Alone, separated from the world we know, what chance do we really stand?

While we might take baby-steps online into the great unknown, there are some that take bigger steps and leave altogether. They escape to America, or Canada, or Australia, and they live a new life, working in a new industry or trying to make it alone. Others simply run with no end in sight, trying to be free. The unfortunate nature of freedom, however, is that it has particularly isolating qualities. In the loneliness of the great unknown, be it freedom or conquest, the odds are against us.

Can we simply hide in the books and learn from life that way?

Something tells me that there's more to us than that, to some of us at least, and the great dangers of the ever unknown and the horrors that await can only be found in the action of leaving. But leaving alone? It remains to be seen whether, as a people, we can survive. The social animal in us doesn't know how to breathe loneliness.

The suffocating madness doesn't seem worth it, and I suppose that's why I keep my friends close when I write. While I may be at home, while I may be safe, there's still that loneliness that likes to creep up. The simple thought that there are people somehow involved in the process before it begins somehow makes it less terrifying to embark on a journey into the unknown. That's just my way of reconciling my dream with the reality, before I face the horror (the horror).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Exam Conclusion

It's the weekend before the last exams. I've got four to go, which seems like way too many to be true. Alas, with an exam in each of the areas I study (Theology, English, Education and Philosophy) in my course, I'm going to be busy. For each of the exams, I need to cover quite a bit of material, none of it linking up.

However, I'm trying to look on the bright side. In preparation for Monday's exam, I can reuse a lot of the material I covered while teaching in January. We've got World Religions, allowing me to study Judaism and Islam as part of it. There are others I could do, but I think I'll stick with them. As well as that, I can reuse the material I studied for another exam on Inter-religious Dialogue for this one. The only thing that's being looked at for the first time since we studied it is the Phenomenon of Religion. So, that's fine.

Tuesday, I've got Nineteenth Century Fiction. I'm normally okay with English exams, though I don't know if I'm familiar enough with the texts yet. I suppose we'll see, when I attempt to answer on The Awakening and Oliver Twist.

Wednesday, I have no exams. It's likely I'll head to the comic book shop before studying for my last exams. You know, because Wednesday is New Comic Book Day and I'm fairly sure there's a new issue of Avengers Vs X-Men out. It would be rude not to read it.

Thursday, I face the "fun" that is The Language and Logic of Religious Education. Or something like that. I'm wary of that one. Education exams have never been my strong point. I make up for it with teaching in the classroom, but when it comes to answering on things like this... I don't know, I choke? No, more likely I just don't write the way they want me to.

Then, on Friday, I've got Sociology of Religion. Okay, I think the module has a different name, but that's the exam, essentially. It should be okay. It's in the afternoon. It was an interesting subject to study. It'll be grand.

Also, I plan on getting a little bit drunk. But that's after the exams.

After that, it's the summer and I have to get down to work. I've got some big plans for the three months I've got off. Some really big plans. I don't think it'll be easy to get it all done, but I'll have to see what happens. Whether or not it's easy, I know I'll enjoy it. I'll be mixing study for my research paper with lots of creative writing. And I mean lots.

There'll be more on that in the future. Probably lots more.

Mostly, I'm just looking forward to getting these exams out of the way so I can focus on something that isn't college!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Affliction of Study

There comes a time in every student's life when they must sit exams. At least, I hope so! I'm three exams into a series of ten, and I can't say it's the best thing ever. Far from it.

I've posted about exams before, mainly about how I avoid study. One of my favourites was being part of a syndicate of people on We were mostly innocent, except in our abuse of strangers who were using their time to use the site as pornography. Know how many girls we saw there? Maybe four. And one of them was with us. The others were fully clothed. So I have no idea what the guys were doing "downstairs", only that they were extremely disappointed when the "girl" they saw in a bra on our end turned out to be a guy.

Yes, we're evil, but that's the point.

Exams are so horrendous, that it is necessary for us to get away from the experiences, and to purge ourselves of the evil that has infected our system.

I may be exaggerating, but the point still applies that studying is much less than fun and I wouldn't encourage it in anyone. While it may be of some benefit regarding results, that very system is cruel and unusual. So unusual, everyone's doing it. The whole world of academia is just that weird.

Then again, maybe it's just me.

With an exam tomorrow morning - that's how lucky I am - and a bit of sickness to get me through the day, I've been studying. The topic for today was sexual ethics, and the oh-so-fun topics of homosexuality and contraception. I think at some point I died of boredom, and only for the people on Google+ and the blog post I saw with a cat trained to fetch did I come back. Not in a 3-days-later-like-Jesus kind of way, but more, you know, Irish.

Yes, I made tea and got on with it.

The study bug has bitten. And I think it was carrying traces of the common cold. Only it's been a bit nastier than just the sniffles, and I really don't like it. Not when it's coupled with having to look over study notes and suffer through the material all over again, but without the guidance of a qualified professional. And distracted by the Internet. You know, because it's shiny.

I've been dying to write this post. In the Irish way, whereby all my organs still function properly. Or, at least as properly as usual. It took what willpower I had left after the beating I received from reading notes about sex but not getting any all day, just to stop myself writing it when I shouldn't have been. Do you know how hard that is? Writing's an addiction (I'm sure they could test me for that...) and I didn't get my fix all day.

But I did get tea, and that helped, since I'm probably also addicted to that. Possibly alcohol, but I've been good about that. (And just in case you can't tell, that was a joke. I think. I hope. I don't even drink that often.)

After tomorrow, I'm done to six exams. But with Milton out of the way, I'm no long sure where hell lies. It would be rude to say with the Muslims (World Religions exam), but I think that'll be the next big challenge to prepare for. Sorry everything religion that isn't Christianity, I think for the next couple of weeks I might hate you. It's not you, it's me. Actually, it's not even me, it's the Dreaded Exam.

I told you they were evil.