It’s been… a while since my last post (to put it mildly).  I’ve been busy, and at the moment I’m sitting in a room at St. Hugh’s College in Oxford University the night before the Romance in Medieval Britain Conference.  I’m eager to detail the first time I taught, the last conference I went to called “Medievalists and Classicists in Conversation: Epic”, my forthcoming visit to Gustavus to talk to the undergraduates twice, and to talk about what I’ve done in my research thus far.  All that will be done!  However, until I have a bit of spare time this will have to do: a guest blog post I wrote for my friend, Emma.  The main page of her blog, The Fox Charmer, can be found here and her travel blog, Tiptoe through the Tulips here.  We share common interests (museums, Skype dates, Skins and Doctor Who), loves (travelling, Italian art, Latin), backgrounds (Gustavus classicists from the southern US) and goals (postgraduate degrees not in classics but classics-adjacent).

As a side note, you may notice a shift in my spelling.  I’ve been asked to write my thesis using the British spellings instead of the American, so you can usually find me each day wearing my jewellery reading about past civilisations, and occasionally looking up words in an online encyclopaedia.


Dear You,

You know who you are.  You’re the person I fell in love with as a friend last year.  We share the same love of certain sci-fi television shows, study old Roman things, and have the same birthday.  We were friends immediately, and I trusted you to protect that relationship.  I knew very quickly that you liked me as more than a friend.  You asked me for coffee but didn’t ask our other female friends.  You asked me what I was looking for in a boyfriend, and all I could think of to reply with was “glasses” (a true statement an a subtle attempt to edge you away from me as a potential partner).  I loved you as a friend, but knew that a relationship wouldn’t work for me–in the same way I know I will never be romantically involved with my best guy friends from college.  In many ways you remind me of the first guy whom I fell in love with as a partner and whose eccentricities doomed our relationship.  He treated me badly in the end, and I couldn’t let that happen to us.

However.  You asked me out right before Easter break.  Because I love you as a friend, I said “yes” with the caveat that I didn’t feel the same way.  Easter came and went with me in the States, and I returned to England.  You never brought up the date again, but we spent time together like nothing had been said.

Then things began to unravel.  You came into my room without knocking.  In a serious manner you ordered me not to say something–not a request or a joke.  I can’t hide my feelings, and as you quickly gleaned that situation caused me to smolder with anger.  You order me?  Since when am I yours to command?  Since when do you have the permission to enter my room without knocking?  The situation bothered a college tutor so that I had to request action against you not be taken.

Then the end came.  You went to visit friends out of town and returned with a mind to avoid me.  Well, not just avoid.  Loathe.  After watching television together at our last meeting, you suddenly won’t speak to me in person and shoot seething, glaring stares in my direction.  I offered nothing but the open arms of a friend (and some select nerdy media) and you couldn’t even tell me in person that you wanted nothing to do with me.

My worst fears had been realized.  My life at the house became almost intolerable.  It was a good thing my dissertation was looming, as I could safely hide away in my room to avoid the tangible anger wafting towards me if we were in the same room.  I suppose you never told me you hated me, but the Looks of Doom and cruel avoidance or ignoring of any kindness on my part told me this was the case.  I’m not sure what exactly changed or what I did.  As a friend, I wouldn’t allow myself to lie to you and feign interest in a relationship.  I thought you deserved the truth.  I didn’t reject you outright, and you shouldn’t blame me if you never had the nerve to set a day for the date.

I’ve cried much too much over this, and despite you not speaking to me for over six months, I still am torn over it.  You hurt me almost more than that boy in college did.  At least he had the courage to tell me his looming graduation made him unfit for a relationship.  You couldn’t even let me know you had some issue with me.

I hate myself when I’m around you because all I can think of is rushing to anyone around you (especially women) and screaming, “Wait!  He’s not worthy of your attention!  He’s a terrible friend who will only be there when it suits him!  He knowingly hurts people and seems to revel in it!”  I hate thinking terrible thoughts, and despite this I would welcome a reconciliation.  Would I ever trust you again?  No.  Would I give almost anything to take our joint friends out of the position of mediators?  You bet.

I still think of the living hell you put me through those last months at Durham.  I felt guilty for coming into your building to use the kitchen.  I blamed myself for your drinking binges beginning before noon.  I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

I still don’t understand what happened, and you’ll probably never tell me.  I’m scared–well, utterly frightened–to see you the day I graduate.  You don’t graduate that day, so much of my being is barely being restrained from telling you to steer clear from graduation because it’s not a day belonging to you.  Part of me really hopes that college tutor or my father punch you in your face for all you’ve done.

Nothing will come out of this letter, but at least I can get out my frustration in one place.  It’s time for me to move on, and I’m desperately trying to despite the frequent Facebook statuses or comments mentioning or written by you.  At least there’s no more pretense of being friends.  You stopped being my friend the first time you shot me a nasty look and refused to speak to me.

And yes, you are a coward and a bastard.  In other awkward situations I’ve had the bravery to tell people how I feel and how I want the situation to proceed from my end.  You lack honor, and to me that’s the biggest reason we could never have a romantic relationship.  So, you see, my instincts we right.



My last post was quite a while ago, and I wrote it just after finishing my dissertation.  Since then my life has changed drastically: new city, new home, new program, new school, new routine, new focus, and new friends.

For me, the secret to success has been getting out of the house to do work and also mixing serious focus with social engagements with friends.  Calling home a lot helps, too.  It would seem that my hard work at Durham has paid off, as last Tuesday I found out that I reached the goal I had set for myself academically:

I have officially been awarded my masters degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies with a distinction!


What does this mean?  It means that I got the highest award classification.  It also means that despite me feeling out of my depth a good part of the time, I actually am capable of understanding and analyzing the medieval literature with which I had little experience before last year.  It means that even though I’ve had an emotionally draining year filled with people whose friendship proved false, with drama at home, and with hard decisions, I can cope in this environment.

Even though I have a huge doctoral project now in front of me, I have proved that I belong here, and I need to remind myself of that.

Success has never meant so much!


Works cited:

In a few months, bar any unforeseen complications, I will have my Master of Arts degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Durham University.  In a way, I feel as though I haven’t done enough work to warrant a degree even though I know I have.  This year has gone by so quickly.  All told (not including bibliographies), I’ve written roughly 32,601 words in five modules.  My dissertation alone was 14,615 words (roughly 43 A4-sized pages) and six pages of bibliography!  I’ve written and rewritten my PhD research proposal about 5 times and edited it for two separate institutions.  I’ve been on the train for roughly an entire day, spent around three days in airplanes (including the Christmas delay at Heathrow which kept us at the gate for an extra 5 or so hours).  I’ve watched countless hours of iPlayer, spent too many pounds to count on library fees and fines (damn recall!), and drunk at least an Olympic-sized pool’s volume of tea.  I’ve cried out of frustration and sadness, missed several weddings, and seemingly broke two hearts.

Works cited:

It’s been an eventful year, and at the end I’m so incredibly grateful for the degree that will result from my work and the friends I’ve gained.  They’ve made the journey worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears.

At first I was like:

Works Cited: gradnessmadness


But now I’m all:

Works Cited: happygrimace


I’ll update on Monday!

“Our work is never over.”  Was Daft Punk formed during a master’s program?

Work it.
Make it.
Do it.
Makes us
More than
Work is

Work it harder, make it better,
Do it faster, makes us stronger.
More than ever hour after
Our work is never over.


Works cited: Gradness Madness

P.S.  I follow Gradness Madness on Twitter.  You can find the Gradness Madness Tumblr page here.  It’s awesome.

Someone recently asked me what I miss about living away from the United States.  I couldn’t come up with much besides being closer to family and friends and certain shops and food items.  (Imagine: no canned pumpkin, and therefore, no pumpkin pie, cookies, soups…  It’s the stuff autumn is made of!)  However, since that conversation I’ve reflected on what I really do love about being abroad, besides the new experiences and the medieval-y atmosphere.  The people I meet when I travel tend to bring out the best in me.

Even in college in Minnesota, the good friends I met there centered me and helped me to figure out what I wanted out of life.  I was less angry and frustrated, probably due to the fact I was no longer boxed into an environment without variety.  Here in Oklahoma (where I am currently spending my spring break), I went to school with mostly white, middle class, conservative, straight Christians.  I never really had to consider the LGBT community or the views of people from different religions and nations.  I was naive, most certainly.  College helped to change that, and the new, exciting people helped me to understand myself.  In addition, this inner revelation let the real me shine through.  I was happy, eager to learn, passionate about my study, more outgoing, and laughed more than I had ever done before.

In England, and even during the brief trips to Italy, the same is true.  Going abroad alone forces me to talk with people and to make “single-serving” friends*, and, as in England, probable lifetime friends.  The most interesting of these “single-serving” friends tend to be very different from me, as in the case of the much older Londoner and his Asian trophy wife or the Brazilian airline worker and American history teacher partner.  I sat next to each couple one night when I was in Florence and had amazing evenings.  When talking with people I know next-to-nothing about, I tend to reflect on my happiest memories, and that brings out the true me, and the best me.  At Durham, the friends I am closest to share my intellectual curiosity and are there for me when I’m homesick, upset, or going through some kind of drama.  I feel free to be me.

My advice to any travelers or potential travelers, whether it be to the next town or to another country, is to meet people and talk about what makes you you.  It’s done wonders for me, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the insight travel has given me.

* “Single-serving” friends are from the film Fight Club.  If you haven’t seen it, you should.  It’s mind-blowing in the best possible way.