The week in numbers (because I can, on occasion, count).
(2) reviews of Broken Body Fragile Heart
I love getting reviews. My favourites are the kind where people say which poems were their favourites — I like speculating on what it is people like, as well as seeing how differently people perceive my work. Quite often, people’s favourites are the ones I was least certain were any good, or was afraid of including. So it can be very comforting. You can read reviews people have written here, and if you’ve got something to add, I’d love to hear it!
(3) crying fits
None of these happened before my fourth day in Cambridge, which I thought was super impressive. But on Wednesday, I got overwhelmed by physical pain (library tours involving a lot of walking and standing made my back play up, as well as giving me cramp in my calf muscles and severe ankle pain), the number of things I needed to do, and the weight of expectations that go along with being at one of the world’s best universities. Beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake, I completely ruined my makeup while sitting on the floor eating cookies and convincing myself I was going to fail everything and drop out halfway through my first year.
The other two were far less major, one when I was just very tired and thought I’d missed the ballet class I’d been looking forward to, and one when I was fighting with internet banking. That also involved cursing my computer. I hate internet banking.
(1) mini essay of (500) words on a topic that I’ve never studied before, using (2) primary sources and (2) secondary ones
We had to write a mini essay which we then discussed for twenty minutes to half an hour with a supervisor. Cambridge has this teaching style called supervisions where you’re given an essay title and a reading list, you go off and research it and write the essay, and then you have an hour of one-on-one discussion with your supervisor about the topic and your essay and all of that stuff. This was a practice for that. I had to fit it into the space of 90 minutes, including all the reading, because life happened.
(5) library books
After my mini supervision I got my first actual essay title, so I went to the college library and tried looking for some things on the list. But at first I couldn’t make the machine work to find out the library numbers, so I figured I’d just go to the “approximate section” to look. Never do this. You will be lost, and at quarter past five you will realise you were meant to go to ASNaC pub, and now you’ve missed being shepherded there. You try to get directions. You get lost. You have to be rescued by a friendly second year. IT’S NOT WORTH IT. LOOK UP THE NUMBERS OF THE BOOKS.
I was filming all week, but not until Friday did I get a chance to edit much of my material. There are now four episodes of Insider Cam (my uni diaries) in the playlist I made for it, so if you haven’t seen those, check them out.
(0) words of fiction or even planning
Which is completely understandable. However, once our timetable settles down into something semi-regular (instead of the all-day induction lectures we’ve had), I want to figure out a time of day to take half an hour to an hour just to work on something creative. Even if I’m just working on my second draft planning. I need to use my brain like that.
(1) spider freak-out
It was under the table that’s right next to my bed. I think it’s still there. I’m scared.
(90) minutes of ballet
Twice as long as my usual classes, and harder too. But while I was out of my comfort zone, I don’t think I was out of my depth, so I’ll keep going to that class. Hopefully I’ll get better as a result of the challenge, and won’t just fail. We’ll see.
(70) folk musicians
I went to the first ceilidh band rehearsal on Thursday. Wow, it was packed. It’s the first time I’ve played that much fiddle since I hurt my hands last June, so it was tiring, but fun.
(2) trips to the pub
ASNaC pub and ceilidh band pub: socialising in the vicinity of alcohol may not be my thing, but everyone was content to let me be with my glass of lemonade, and I managed to have a reasonably good time. However, since ASNaC pub is the other side of town and I have to leave early to get to ballet on time, I don’t think I’ll be going very often.
(1) beautiful garden surrounded by a college I can’t believe I live in
If you follow me on Tumblr, you’ll have seen me occasionally posting pictures of Newnham and expressing my wonder that I actually live in such a beautiful place. Walking through the grounds, stepping on the crunchy autumn leaves, hearing the birds singing in an almost-silent garden… it’s incredible.
(2000) pounds spent on a term of accommodation and the inevitability of student debt
Oh man. So much money. That’s not tuition. That doesn’t include food. Somebody buy my poetry and fund me, please.
(innumerable) new people
I’ve learned some names. I’ve forgotten almost all of them. I’ve been introduced to people who now say hi to me in the corridor and I have no idea who they are, so feel bad about it. And I’ve also made some good friends, and met people I’d like to be friends with in the future but wouldn’t exactly call friends yet. I’ve taken selfies with people in gowns. I’ve realised how short I am compared to other freshers. I’ve met lecturers and librarians and I’m on first-name terms with the guy who fixed my door.
There’s a term ahead of me. That’s terrifying. But it’s also exciting.