I DID IT! I turned in my dissertation. I’m almost as excited about this as when I finished NaNoWriMo. No, I’m kidding, I’m more excited about this. But my dissertation was 15,000 words and NaNoWriMo was 50,000. But I actually edited my dissertation and made it good writing and stuff…unlike this blog post!
In any case THIS is what my dissertation looks like:
And THIS was how I celebrated turning it in:
For the record, the Grill House in St Andrews makes delicious strawberry margaritas. Even if it is 2 in the afternoon on a Thursday. A glorious, glorious Thursday.
And now that my dissertation is in and completed, all I have to do now is find a job! That’s easy, right? If anybody has any publishing jobs anywhere in the UK they want to just hand me, let me know! I also need to finish the novel….and maybe then get it published. So my goals for the coming weeks are to get a job and finish my novel. As of right now I’m staying in St Andrews but will be (probably) heading down to London in about three weeks. There to also get a job and work on the novel. The UK adventures just won’t quit!
If people have any tips for where to stay in London, what to do there for fun, and other general tips, let me know! Also, if you’re in St Andrews and want a delicious margarita, call me up and let’s go.
OH YEAH LET ME NERD OUT FOR A SECOND: SEASON PREMIERE OF DOCTOR WHO IS THIS SATURDAY!
One of the things I like most about studying in an old university in Scotland is there’s so much history. Specifically crazy history, which leads to crazy traditions. Here at St Andrews there is a time honored tradition called Raisin Weekend, which involves many complicated things. Essentially, first-year students have academic parents (third-years or fourth-years) who are supposed to guide these youngins throughout the years. Being a master’s student, I apparently count as a type of first-year, so I found myself a mother who in turn found me a father. I have seven siblings, all first-years, and yesterday (Raisin Sunday) we attended a Mad Hatter tea party, aka started imbibing at 3 in the afternoon. We were sent on a scavenger hunt with our legs taped to our partner’s and tasks such as bring back a stranger’s sock and kiss a policeman. The evening wore on in a generally debaucherous way and we were instructed to return the next morning for our Raisin outfits. Traditionally, your mother dresses you and your father gives you a Raisin Receipt. You then take this Raisin Receipt to the shaving-foam fight.
Yep. Shaving-foam fight.
Mummy dressed us as playing cards (re: Alice in Wonderland) and Daddy gave us two heavy rocks apiece to carry (he’s a geologist). We then trotted off in the chilly drizzle and foamed each other. In one of the oldest quads at an academic institution. Ever.
Imagine hundreds of people dressed up in silly costumes with lots of shaving foam being pushed into a large grassy area and instructed to foam each other. This is what happens:
It was so much fun. Funner than I thought it would be, and I thought it was going to be pretty great. While I am technically older than my mother, I don’t think it really made a difference. I think your academic family is an opportunity to make friends in a bizarre, wonderful way. And to have a university-sanctioned foam fight.
All in all, I had a fantastic time. And one of the best parts was the post-foam shower.
I like to think that my Halloween outing yesterday was literary. I’ve always wanted to go as a literary character, cause I’m pretentious like that. And this year I finally achieved my goal! I was a character from one of my favorite series of books ever.
I mean, sort of a literary character. The golden snitch is IN the Harry Potter books and I think it’s got plenty of personality. Ta dah! I cut and sewed gold material to a black tank top and stuffed it full of pillows. I attached gauzy material for wings and had enough leftover gold material to make a snazzy headband. It’s kind of my favorite Halloween costume ever.
I was surrounded by many vampires last night (and one sexy Saturn) because I went to a black tie Vampire party. Makes sense, right? And the pumpkin beer I referred to earlier was delicious but tasted like apples more than pumpkin. My friend Richard brewed it and said they’d tried to make a beer that really imbued the essence of pumpkin. So they didn’t use any kind of spices. Which apparently makes it taste like apples. I’m a cider girl myself, so I was really okay with it. And I think that’s my costume for next year decided–Cider Girl! Maybe a can of Strongbow? After making such a fabulous costume this year, I think anything is possible.
I’ve been playing with Scrivener a lot and it is SO GREAT. Character sketches and research files and different compiling formats for eBooks or paperback novels or manuscript form–I’m in love. I’m getting super pumped for NaNoWriMo! November gonna be CRAZY, folks!
This past Saturday was full of adventure. There was new beer to be tasted, new music to be heard and vehicular adventures galore. But before I get to that, I want to bring your attention to this:
This is an Oreo brownie that I made last night and it is the first time EVER that I’ve made brownies that have actually stayed together. By which I mean it wasn’t too gooey to come out of the pan and didn’t fall into pieces. It looks like a brownie! And it was SCRUMPTIOUS, if I do say so myself. The recipe is another My Baking Addiction masterpiece.
Okay. Self-trumpeting over. On to last Saturday.
A troupe of friends and I wandered into Edinburgh to see a Bon Iver concert. I say wandered because we had to get a bus from St Andrews to Leuchars, which is the closest town with a train station. We were to then take the train straight to Edinburgh, but because of some bus-rail replacement nonsense, we got a train to Dalgety Bay (which my friend Trevor heard as “Dog Eighty Bee” when announced in a Scottish accent) and then had to take a bus from there to Edinburgh. A journey that usually takes one hour became two.
Oh well, no big deal. We got into Edinburgh not far from BrewDog, a fabulous Scottish brewery that makes beer I actually enjoy drinking. Specifically Trashy Blonde. You thought I meant a loose female with yellow hair? Ha HA. It’s actually a super tasty beer. It smells kind of funny, but once you get past that it’s got a nice, light, fruity-ish flavor. Their bar in Edinburgh is relatively small but full of snarky remarks and ridiculous names for their drinks. My favorite name is Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a beer with a 31% alcohol content and that costs £5 per nip. Their strongest beer is called Sink the Bismarck! and has a 42% abv. Oh yes. BrewDog is all about Equity for Punks. And ridiculously high alcohol content in their beers.
Post BrewDog pizza and beer (I would’ve felt like I was back in the States except that the beer was delicious and the pizza had pesto and chorizo on it) the lot of us headed off to Usher Hall for the Bon Iver concert. This was the second time I’d seen Bon Iver and they didn’t disappoint. I took a couple videos which I’ll link here once I’ve uploaded them to YouTube–one of Skinny Love and one of Stacks. Despite the fact that the five of us were crammed into tiny seats (especially tiny for my friend Richard, who’s 6’5. I think his knees were hanging over the seat in front of him the whole time.) and we were in the UPPER balcony (not the first balcony–the one above that), it was an absolutely phenomenal show. Seeing “Skinny Love” live will always be a near-spiritual experience.
It is solely because I’d had such a fabulous day, both at BrewDog and Bon Iver, that made getting back to St Andrews bearable. We were supposed to get a bus to get a train to get a taxi (it being too late at this point for the bus to be running from Leuchars to St Andrews). However, the bus we were supposed to get was full of people, so the bus driver said there’d be another bus right behind him to take us to the train. By right behind him he meant a bus that would get there in about 20 minutes and would have to be flagged down as it went roaring past us. This bus of course didn’t get us to the train station on time. The next bus that would have taken us from Dalgety Bay to Leuchars had broken down, so the bus driver of the bus we were currently on graciously offered to drive that route. Being completely unfamiliar with the area he was now driving in, he proceeded to make several wrong turns, at one point getting stuck with the bus facing a harbor. He had to make a 30-point turn which took about ten minutes of starting and stopping and slowly, SLOWLY turning.
Before, we were upset that it took two hours to get to Edinburgh when it would usually take one. Getting back from Edinburgh to St Andrews ended up taking around three and a half hours. We didn’t get back until 2:30am. Needless to say, I got pretty slap happy along the way, so I started making up songs. My favorite was entitled “I’m a Penguin.” I’ll be sending it to Bon Iver to see what they think.
I still define wine as the movie Grease taught me to–“It says right here, it’s a dessert wine.” While I don’t usually eat twinkies with it, I won’t lie and say that I’m not currently drinking a Riesling while munching on Cadbury caramel chocolate. I’m also feeling a bit like a grownup, since I just submitted the first part of my story (rough ROUGH draft) to my masters program. I’m sitting here, sipping my wine, while my Scotsman reads next to me. Wine, chocolate, blog and boy. (He is reading this over my shoulder and complaining that I’ve called him “boy.” I say he can get his own blog.) Yep. I feel sophisticated.
I select my wines in one of two ways. It used to be that I went for the cheap wines with pretty labels. For me, there was a direct correlation between prettiness of label and tastiness of vintage. However, my mother and I went on a “Wine and Waterfall” tour last May in the greater Seattle area and my world of wine opened up. I now often pick a wine by pretending I know a lot about different ones, and say things like “actually, it depends on where the grapes are grown and if they’re allowed to freeze on the vine and the length of fermentation that dictates a wine’s sweetness” and then, inevitably, hone in on the Riesling. Because that’s the only thing I really learned on my wine tour. I like Riesling. And that’s pretty much it. Maybe a rosé occasionally, but give me a Riesling every time and I’d be a happy camper. Though I guess you don’t usually think of campers getting drunk on German wines.
I have discovered that the only Riesling in my local grocery store–to note, I say local, but I really mean the closest and ergo laziest one–is one called “simply Riesling.” I don’t know if Riesling is a particularly unpopular wine in Scotland or if the clientele at Tesco has never clamored for it. It’s not the worst wine I’ve ever tasted but I think next time I might splurge and go to the bottle shop. Which is literally two doors down from me, so an even lazier enterprise than a trek to Tesco.
Simply Riesling also only has a 10.6% alcohol rate, and that’s just not cutting it. Let’s be honest–if it’s anything below 12%, why bother? You can yell at me all you want to about “oh, you can taste the oakiness of the barrel” and “but don’t you just love the sweet honey undertone” and every time I will tell you I can just taste the alcohol. I like Rieslings because there’s a sweet veneer over the alcohol-y bits. I like it more than beer and it’s usually less expensive than those silly cocktails. Plus, I don’t know if you knew this, but white wines are dessert wines.