Dear October (12)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

12th October

Oh October, I tried and failed to do a single bit of reading today. Between being distracted by booktube videos to obligatory-but-necessary adult tasks such as laundry, I realise I just did not want to read. So that ol’ pinball in my mind was bouncing around again and I didn’t get a single thing done. If that pinball machine could settle down – or even power down to be honest – before my reading list gets even longer, that would be really great, October.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (11)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

11th October

Today, October, I powered through as much of The Faerie Queene as I could manage before my mind started wandering towards the BBC’s Merlin and then I knew I was done with thinking anything vaguely thought-provoking or academic for the day. So I watched Catching Fire because there is quite clearly a correlation between these things. You see, October, once I am distracted I bounce about, reminiscent of a pinball in a pinball machine I’m sure, bumping off all the possible means of distraction and fittily not being able to settle in one place or on one activity. So when I logged into Netflix and saw the sequel to the Hunger Games was up for streaming, it would have been rude to say no.

And wow this film got a lot darker than the first. I know it seems obvious to say it, and maybe even a little silly given that 12 people trapped in an arena and forced to fight to the death is probably fairly dark already, but this one seemed a lot more ruthless – and relentless. And I loved it. I’m not quite sure what that says about me but I don’t care to find out.

What I do know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that I would not last in The Hunger Games arena. I’m 100% certain I would be one the first, if not the first, to die. I have  no transferable skills of that description and somehow I doubt being able to recite Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 would be a skill valued in a fight to the death. I could be wrong – and boy would I love to be proved wrong – but I highly doubt that is the case. No, the odds are never in my favour.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (10)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

10th October

Today I held a book that was 400 years old. Okay it might have actually been 392 or 416 years old but the point is, I held a very old book. And yes that’s incredibly geeky to be so fascinated by it but, October, it was okay because I was in a class full of people that felt the same. It’s amazing how much less embarrassed of your geekiness you can feel once the person sitting next to you has the exact same look of ‘ooo old books’ on their face as is on yours.

I didn’t know that the library had archives. That sounds so silly but it turns out, yes, the library does stock old books. And yes you have to make an appointment and request the book be brought into a room so just you can look at it but you can look at it, and touch it, and read it. What surprised me most was that they didn’t tell us to be careful (well, yes, that’s a given but still) or not to breathe too much near it. We didn’t even have to wear gloves.

And it’s a weird unsettling feeling to touch something that was made in the 17th century. The oldest book I held before today was from the early 1900s and I got an odd geeky thrill from that. So you can only imagine what it was like when we passed around a copy of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. So today, October, I decided maybe it’s okay to be so thrilled by the prospect of a really old book because, it turns out, there are people exactly the same as you close by. In fact, they came back to university to continue studying English. Funny that, isn’t it?

(Previous day?)

Dear October (9)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

9th October

October, I feel much better today, thank you for listening to my pleas.

Today was a day which included work, a lot of rain, and a new friend. Not an actual human friend because no, that would be too ridiculous. There was a house-plant sale in Alex Square and obviously, on my way back from the stall where I bought the best flapjacks I have ever tasted, I spied a little cactus that I thought – you, I am taking you home. Because we all like to personalise our rooms and it would be rude not to share mine with a little plant. So cactus it is.

So everyone say hello to Cal. I’m fairly certain he’s a he, I hate to impose gender roles on him but I think he’s okay with it. He’s a little dramatic and a touch flamboyant but I wouldn’t have him any other way. We’ll see if we’re still friends come the end of term, or even just the end of October.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (8)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

8th October

October, I feel ill. Not in the kind of I have an illness way, more in the I-messed-up-my-sleeping-pattern-and-didn’t-keep-hydrated-enough-and-now-I-feel-simultaneously-sick-and-hungry. So it’s my own stupid fault.

Anyone who knows me knows I have a real dislike for vomiting. Not that anyone particularly likes it but just that stomach-clenching feeling, that realisation that you are going to be sick, brings me to tears quickly. Because I know it’s inevitable. And yet a nap did nothing to help, forcing myself to eat plain things did not help, drinking water did not help. I don’t know what it is October but wow I hate feeling like this and not being able to fix it somehow.

Wednesday 8th October, you kind of suck. Fix it tomorrow, please.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (7)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

7th October

October, I had my very first seminar of my MA course about Posthumanism. I don’t quite know what I expected from the first seminar but it was wonderful. It’s safe to say – and I am relieved to say! – that it’s never going to be a class in which an awkward silence will linger.

Do you remember those, October? Fresh-faced but timid first year undergraduates sat in an at-that-point unfamiliar seminar room, an intimidating PhD student sat at the front of the class asking a relatively simple question but no one wanting to be the one to speak up and answer. It wasn’t a case of worrying about being teacher’s pet, that wasn’t it at all, long gone were the days of secondary school where that judgement was more likely to happen.

I don’t know what it was but uncomfortable silences seemed to reign in first year. Someone would eventually snap of course and break the silence – I often did so, with a cautionary, ‘I don’t know if it’s what you’re meaning but I think-‘ to absolve me from any potential off-topic answer. Because I couldn’t stand the silence, October.

In silences I have time to second-guess myself, to mull over whether what I’m thinking even answers the question, if what I’m thinking is even ‘good enough’ to voice aloud or whether it’s so painfully obvious that that is why no one has volunteered it as an answer to the question the kindly PhD student just put to us all. And, believe me October, I don’t need any more help second-guessing myself.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (6)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

6th October

Ah Mondays, October you were the first Monday of not only a brand new term, not only a brand new academic year, but also the first Monday of a brand new degree. Specifically my MA. And true to form of the Arts student with very little contact hours, I did not spend today in any form of academic arena. No, instead I was at work, discovering that as the term had started up, so had appointments for all manner of things – disability, funding, welfare and well-being, visa applications… the list goes on and on.

And being confronted with that list at work made me realise, October, how incredibly easy I have it. I, as a UK student, chose to study in the country of my birth and education. Therefore I did not need to worry about complex visa applications. I did not need to worry about funding (at least not for my undergraduate degree!), I was incredibly fortunate in that my road to university throughout was incredibly clear of obstacles. October, today I realised how fortunate I am.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (5)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

5th October

5th October you were a day when the typical autumn weather reared its ugly, but familiar, head. Woken by rain and wind pounding against the window and yep, then I knew where I was immediately. And I knew I needed milk. The trek of all of five minutes to the on-campus shop seems all the more treacherous when you have driving wind and rain trying to soak every last exposed piece of skin. But Lancaster, I wouldn’t have you any other way. Well, maybe I’d have more snow days than we ever get, but now I’m just being greedy.

I ventured into the library today too (after my first expedition in search of milk) and discovered the lower ground section that has been opened up because of the refurbishment going on. To say the shelving system down there is scary is an understatement. Rows and rows of shelves operated by turning levers to open up space to walk between them – I can already see an inevitable accident occurring. Still, October, I returned unscathed and with books in hand. On opening them, snuggled back up in my room, I discovered phrases such as ‘constitutive dehiscence’ and made the executive decision that maybe this was reading material for another day when I wasn’t yawning into my sixth cup of tea. October, with you, you bring the return of the familiar.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (4)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

4th October

October the fourth, you were a day of laziness, as all Saturdays should be – a day of pre-rest so you can really enjoy the day of rest that is Sunday.

You were a day in which a quick trip to the on-campus Post Office and pop into Spar for milk were really the furthest I would exert myself. You started off gloomy and drizzly and I didn’t expect the day to get any better from there on in. So I holed up in my room, October, and finally got down to organising myself ready for the start of the term/year on Monday. I always feel better once I have a diary and a colour coding system, with the obligatory neon post-it markers highlighting important deadlines that only seem pressing when they are right on top of you.

And nothing seems particularly on top of me right now – despite the reading lists I ought to have tackled over summer – so that feeling is probably more to do with a wilful and blissful ignorance of what is to come. An oddly relaxed bubble which will inevitably pop once seminars begin, even if I might be a little grateful for the proverbial kick up the backside which they ought to be. Because 4th October, you were a day when it took me 4 hours to read some 80 pages, a dismal reading rate by all standards, because I just got too distracted by singing along to the Les Misérables soundtrack. This is not the first time this has happened!

So yes, you were a day of solitude, of holing myself up in my room with a cup of coffee and a book as I tried to figure out what my reading space would be in my new room, but I think I have it sorted now which is quite enough productivity for one pre-rest day.

(Previous day?)

Dear October (3)

Inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s Letters to July series, along with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s re-jigging of the concept for her own Letters to Autumn seriously, I thought I would write a little snippet each day to the lovely month that is October. So here goes nothing…

3rd October

Oh October, October, October, I finally understand the TGIF feeling, because this afternoon dragged, October, it really did. Freshers’ Week is winding down so there is less of the simple requests to know where tuition fees can be paid or where people can get Purple cards.

Our boss bought us cupcakes today.  She’s definitely trying to bribe us! And it’s working… unsurprisingly. I spoke to her today about being keen to continue on, if possible, and she was really lovely about it. She understood about the Learning Zone commitment elsewhere and basically said I could work as little/as much as I wanted to (and legally could!) at the Base but they’d like to keep people on. It was lovely to hear someone want to work around you because they were keen to keep you as part of the team. She says to try keep Mondays free, I think I could do that and enjoy it, committing to 5 hours would be manageable I think.

We’ll see in time, of that I have no doubt.

In the meantime, there are seminars starting up next week and I can’t wait to be back in that academic environment properly. October, I love that for the past few years of my life your advent has meant education and classrooms and new school books and things to learn. It might sound silly, but I think all of us who have been through primary and secondary education consider September/October to be the beginning of the year. Adjusting to the actual calendar of January being the start of things is often difficult once full-time education happens. Hopefully I won’t need to consider that eventuality at all in the foreseeable future.

(Previous day?)