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Oct. 24th, 2014

I booked a trip to Mexico for mid-December. After talking about it for four years (and saving up for four years) I'm finally going to visit my sister. The travel is going to suck (~21h each way!) but I've been assured it'll be worth it.

I spent Monday and Tuesday this week listening to Oingo Boingo non-stop. (I started with the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, late last week, but then decided what I really wanted was Oingo Boingo.)

Aww, look at them, all looking like they're enjoying themselves:

And tonight, I'm dragging a few friends around to my place to watch The Crow. Some of these people have never seen The Crow. Clearly, clearly this must be fixed. I haven't seen it in years, but I'm sure it's still excellent.

(And in other news: it's been over a month, and I still don't have an official report/letter from the Graduate School. Apparently it's still before the Chair. There are things I need to query/clarify off the unofficial report, but have been waiting for the official one, which might have addressed the same issues. I just don't know yet. It's very frustrating. *hands*)

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This past few weeks I've been hiding from campus and/or spending time working in the Arts Centre, because I still don't have the final and official list of corrections for my thesis.

All I can say is: thank goodness I never have to go through a viva ever again.

On the bright side, Sleepy Hollow continues to be amusing (good actors having fun with sill material), Doctor Who is mostly watchable (good actors struggling through questionable material). I look forward to watching all the other stuff I've been meaning to get to.

I did watch all of Adventure Time over the last month, though! \o/

My experience of the Arts Centre is going to be (has already been) odd this term, as I'm working almost a part-time contract (though as non-contract casual staff) because one of the full-time guys got seconded into a promotion. We casuals are picking up his hours. Since I'm still restricted in my hours (student visa!) I'm doing lots of the higher-paid-but-frequently-unpleasant role (Ops), and none of the often-more-pleasant-but-lower-paid stuff (Head Steward).

(We're talking, like, more than double the hours and +£2/hr on pay.)

It works out for the other Heads, because I'm not competing for limited shifts. It works out for my schedule and budgeting, because I've got the whole term's worth of work booked, rather than lining up every two weeks to pick up what I can. However, the hours still suck (shifts are either 7am-4:30pm or 3pm-11:30pm/midnight), and the responsibility and intense multitasking also sucks.

All of my academic motivation has, like, atrophied since June. Hiding from campus might've helped, but we'll see how much typo-hunting I get done this week.

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Tomorrow morning I'm defending my PhD!

I'm sure this is why PhD students are encouraged to give conference papers: to get used to the attack of nerves when faced with explaining/defending one's work to Strangers Who Matter.

Of course, this will be a long discussion with no script, unlike a conference paper's typical 15-20min limit and carefully rehearsed* presentation.

*and not hastily assembled the hour before the panel, no...

In preparation, I've been re-reading my thesis and finding typos. Eight so far, in a document 362 pages long. Not a bad ratio, all things considered, but still: typos.

The three reasonable outcomes are: pass (fix typos, but otherwise a-okay), pass with minor corrections (1-3 months of tweaking), and eeeuuuugh fix those big things and resubmit (up to another year of work). (The unreasonable outcomes are the ones written in to university regulations to account for people going AWOL and handing in a handful of dried leaves* instead of a thesis.)

*Even in biology, I'm sure you need to have at least a bibliography.

My supervisor suggested I think of the viva/defence as a performance, and feign interest in work that I might be bored with. I agreed somewhat, but countered that the bigger challenge will to feign confidence and a belief in the work's value and rigour. Oh self-esteem! Don't fail me now!

I've been re-watching a few of the key vids, and yes: I am still moved by the work, so my emotions and enthusiasm for the form are still present and accounted for.

Tomorrow night, whatever happens, the next screening at Bad Film Club is Dracula 2000 (my nomination!)... awwww yesss.

Next time I post, I might have a doctorate! Or be facing many more months of soul-crushing re-drafting and extra research!

*runs off screaming towards the bus*

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Sep. 1st, 2014

Happy September! I was thinking of taking advantage of this Monday morning by going for a short walk down to the blackberry bushes and seeing what I could bring home, but it's raining. No blackberry picking for me today. :(

August was busy - visiting Ontario and Vividcon took up most of it - and then just as I got back (with a day off for jetlag!) I worked five days in a row at the Arts Centre. I didn't have plans for that holiday Monday, which worked out well because it seems the entire country got terrific rainstorms the whole day.

Vividcon was, as always, excellent. This year's premieres were hard to watch (because of content), and it's almost enough to make me want to learn to vid to counteract the grimdark excesses. But other than that, it was a nice and relaxed con; it seems this year it was about hanging out with friends rather than awkwarding myself into conversations with strangers. Hooray! Also, our MCU Regency AU cosplay kicked ass for Club Vivid. (My first fanwork = three dresses!)

Unlike previous trips back to Ontario, I didn't try to catch up with Toronto people. And I still came home exhausted. I also came back with a new laptop (abandoning my old netbook to the wilds), which is nice. I'm still working out Windows 8 - though things might run smoother after these 32 updates install - and I haven't even tried customizing those tile things. I found the option to display the desktop at start-up, so I've been going with that.

I also-also came back with three lengths of fabric to make into dresses (woo hoo sale shopping!). I've made two of this pattern (Washi Dress), but there's something about the shape that reminds me too much of a school uniform. (I don't regret them, and the pattern was useful in hacking my way through designing the VVC cosplay dresses - several hours with rulers and tracing paper later, I emerged with bodices.)

So I'm going to try a different indie designer pattern, the knee-length version of the By Hand London Anna Dress. I'm even doing this properly: last night I cut out the dress bodice using leftover fabric, because I know it's not going to fit as drafted. I didn't exactly cut it out as drafted, either; I followed a width from one size, height from another, and shifted the armholes slightly. I'm pretty sure I'll have way too much fabric in the bust, and there are probably better ways to alter the fit, but I've started! Much better than staring at a pile of fabric, thinking about sewing. (And then, I'll save up for fabric to make a na na na na na na na na Bat Dress.

Tomorrow I'm going to Portugal for a few days. Woo!

(And then: my viva is on the 18th, my birthday is on the 28th, and then it'll be October. Yikes.)

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Jul. 26th, 2014

Graduation week wasn't nearly as bad as previous years.

The guests were far more calm and well-behaved than any of us expected. It could've been the ridiculously nice weather, or the result of all the minor changes to the day itself (i.e.: not forcing grads to queue and register before taking their seats; location of alumni/careers stands; opening doors to guests only 30min before we want everyone sat down; adding an extra ceremony and reducing the average number of grads). Plus, the stewards working tended to be more experienced, were mostly working the whole week, and therefore the team worked really well together.

(I also have to wonder about the effect of putting male stewards on the first two points of contact, and having them explain the we-seat-you, all-parties-must-enter-together, etc., policies of the day. By the time guests got to us - the seating team was men and women - there were very few arguments about seats.)

Graduation week ate up six-and-a-half days, the next week has been a lazy combination of sewing up some cosplay for next month, punctuated by a few films (Maleficent, Batman and Robin), and trying very hard not to think about academic writing or unemployment.

I don't have much recent experience with sewing, or much previous experience in doing anything complex. This current project (as I said on Twitter, pics if/when it turns out okay) is taking up most of my attention. It's nice to be so preoccupied (academic writing! unemployment!).

Next week I'm off to North America! For 20 days! There's VividCon, and a family (incl brother's girlfriend! yay!) trip to see a few Stratford shows, and a family thing the day after I land that I'm apparently not to worry about because I'll be jetlagged anyway. Woo!

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Still here, still alive.

June was terrifyingly packed, and July so far has been uncomfortably busy, too.

VidUKon was excellent, and I enjoyed every minute (my panel went really well!), but it also came in the middle of a very busy time (emotionally, and in terms of tasks).

Career/job stuffCollapse )

I'm still horrendously behind on TV I want to watch - seriously, the list is beyond tragic - but I did take the time to watch s1 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. The costumes are definitely great, and the guy who plays Jack has a great voice, but I wasn't too impressed by the writing. I have a feeling I should watch Orphan Black before VVC, so that'll be next. When I get a chance.

Next week is Graduation Week, my fourth, and I'm not looking forward to it. Long days, unpleasant people (most guests are lovely, but enough really aren't), and tedium. 12 ceremonies this year, 12 times through the same welcome speech, etc.

On the upside, I've done this enough that I'm pretty unflappable. Whole party didn't enter together? No need to argue with them, just seat the next whole group. Insisting other seats will be better seats? Fine, sit over there; don't be surprised when you have to keep standing so we can seat people around you. Loudly insisting that you need a better view because it's your kid graduating (oh is that why we're all here...)? My 'impassive and unimpressed' face has years of practice.

I've been whining about needing a break. I've still got 22 days left to go before I hit Ontario. I would like a guilt-free day off before then, but if not... 22 days. (I think I'll get a hotel room at the airport for the night before I fly, just to have a few unbroken hours of no people.)

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Jun. 23rd, 2014

Friday's shift was the most terrible shift. As it's workplace stuff, the details are long and boring to outsiders. I'd be happy to rant in person, but it's not exciting enough to be interesting.

It can sound defensive/dismissive to say "It's not my job to fix that thing you're mad about". But it's also true to think "Your bad decisions got you here; I don't have the magic/psychic powers to fix this, even if it was my job to help".

It was so bad that yesterday my line manager apologised to me, for having been put in both situations (both! argh!), saying neither should never have happened. He also said he would've understood if I'd called in sick for Saturday and Sunday's shifts (thankfully, both were shorter and therefore infinitely more pleasant).

It's been a fascinating (and sometimes fun) job, and I've been happy for the wages, but I'm reluctant to take on more shifts. I'm in again tomorrow, which should be another busy day; knowing I've got savings enough to support myself for the next few months (without an unpleasant few-times-a-month casual job) makes it easier to stomach.

There are four Major Things in the next ten days (three academic, one fannish VidUKon YAY!). One academic thing is unexpected/terrifying/exciting and landed in the middle of Friday.

What I'm saying is, I'm quite tired today.

I was supposed to attend a research + snacks thing at noon, and then meet my supervisor at 1pm. But meeting my supervisor is all I can do today, people-wise.

I'm thinking some TV time is due.

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Adventures in dressmaking

I haven't touched a sewing machine in about ten years, and never made a dress even when I did.

Obviously the answer to "what do you do on a Monday when waiting for your viva?" is "make a dress".

I made a Washi Dress, because a friend has made, like, ten (nine?) in the last six months and really seems to like them. Plus there aren't oodles of pattern pieces and all the back shaping is accomplished through shirring.* WIN.

*I.e., not too complicated.

So I found fabric online: Cue the phone pics!Collapse )

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Jun. 9th, 2014

After glorying in the idea of sitting around all day on Wednesday, I looked at my week and realized that I'm actually invigilating that day. Boo.

OTOH last night I did unlock the last hidden level of Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and played it through (twice, once on free play). I was about to go for the last five minikits when - gasp, shock, and not for the first time - the game froze. SIGH. I've given up on the race side-quests, because they stress me out; I've stopped muttering "Shut up, Coulson" at his 'helpful tips' (yes, I need someone with magnetic powers which is why Magneto is right here). On the whole, I've enjoyed it. Got a good six months of casual entertainment out of it, which is nice.

But, you know, Wednesday. :'( (Thursday, though. Thursday I don't have anywhere to be.)

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In the past week I submitted my PhD, applied for a post-doc fellowship, had a celebration dinner during which I got answers to gossip re: department politics and possible available teaching next year*, and watched 150+ women (and, like, one man) decorate tiny plant pots at an Etsy Craft Party (I dubbed myself Chief Plant Minder because I was supposed to make sure they planted only one teeny sedum in their tiny plant pot).

*Answer: there might be! Possibly! And as I write this, I got a text from my supervisor that complicates things! Argh! OTOH my supervisor will text me on a Saturday morning, so that's a definite anti-argh.

I also invigilated an exam (during which I read 3/4 of Persuasion) and tidied my half of the office (sorting papers! filing drafts! taking down all the schedules and plans and post-its from my wall!). And got to 78% completion on Lego Marvel Super Heroes. And finished a pair of socks I've been knitting for the last month. And bought fabric to make a dress, because why the heck not.

Which means today - back at the Ops desk for another morning - I'm feeling rather lazy about things. It's taken a few days for me to settle down, but I think I'm ready to take a few days to do nothing and watch TV.

(The problem is that I'm invigilating another exam this afternoon, meeting a friend from undergrad for lunch tomorrow in B'ham, and am on morning Ops Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, though. Wednesday.)

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