30 October 2016

0 why does autumn always make me restless?

the other caroline is sitting on the toilet and i am sitting on the bed and we are having a conversation like normal about how restless we are.

in this instant, i realize (1) how incredibly small my flat is and (2) that this is the second time i have watched her pee in less than a week.

on thursday, we went out to virginia water. a place which sounded exotic and which we believed to be more than five miles from heathrow. neither of which exactly turned out to be true, but we got away and we frolicked in the fresh air and, for a couple of hours, we each of us felt a little less stuck than we've been feeling as of late.

as we walked out of a little spot of woods, she said, how many people do you think have had sex in there? 

to which i replied, and how many people do you think think we just had sex in there? 

because we had, in fact, peed in the forest, because the other caroline actually had to go while i just thought it would be interesting to pee on british soil. and so we emerged from the wood triumphant, with grins on our faces which may well have made it looked like we got laid rather than just emptied our bladders.

little things, small adventures. we take them as they come.

25 October 2016

0 the fatal buffet

on sunday morning, i dropped an earring. a banal enough occurrence which led to the discovery of a mouse graveyard in the space between the shower and the unfinished floor.

a strong, independent woman, i- of course- attempted to take care of this myself.

an idiot, this- of course- only led to the puncturing of the mouse closest to fresh air.

for days i had smelled something and assumed various berries in the fridge had gone off. the smell unloosed by this puncturing was one which would never ever be mistaken for rotting fruit.

there were at least three of them visible. a total of five, i would later learn.

all evidence pointed to their having feasted on the mouse poison with wild abandon, emptying the tray of it. then, sated, sauntering a few steps before expiring.

no number of lit candles could cancel out the fragrance wrought of their demise.

the handyman came with haste.

by the time i returned from teaching on monday, the whole lot had been cleared out. my earring sat atop a pot of pond's cream. the tray of mouse poison was heaped high anew.

winter is coming. in winter, the mice come in. at least now i'm unlikely to mistake between dead mice for rotting fruit.

24 October 2016

23 October 2016

0 :)

17 October 2016

0 i stand corrected

waaaaaaaaaaaay back in january (when we were all younger, naïver, healthier, and i was less theoretically grounded)-  two days into the new year, on what was, happenstantially, the third anniversary of my moving here- i sallied about town and got my dissertation bound, in advance of handing in my dissertation two days later.

(for proof of how reading proust has corrupted my sentence constructions, see above)

and that night, after celebratory drinks with the irish one, i called garebear and debo up on skype.

as you may or may not know, i've a TREMENDOUS sense of occasion as regards general everyday life accomplishments, much less actual accomplishments.

a TREMENDOUS sense of occasion which is repeatedly undermined/derailed by the total lack of sense of occasion of my family.

so there were debo and garebear on the screen and, lo, there was i with freshly washed hair and coy grin and my TREMENDOUS sense of occasion ready to bask with them in the glow of my accomplishment and the beautiful bound volume for whose production i'd just forked over a rather galling £100.

upon establishing that our connection was clear enough that they could behold in full, unpixillated glory what i was about to show them, i reached into the plastic wrapping and, like santa pulling treasures from his bag, revealed my ginormo bound book: my dissertation.

maybe the sexiest thing i've ever done.

well, until i do it again and it's a dissertation that will actually pass.

but, definitely, at that time, the sexiest (so hard not to write sexist) thing i had ever done.

A photo posted by Ohlighn (@ohlighn) on

i held it aloft before them, so distracted by its glamour that it was awhile before i actually looked at them looking at it and realized that they were not looking at it but that they were looking at me and my mother was picking her teeth.

you guys, huge big deal, i said.

we know, we're so proud, garebear informed me, sticking his own fingers deep into his molars.

have you no sense of occasion?! i inquired, indignant.

well, of course, bearoline. we just had occasion to eat some popcorn and now we're sensing corn kernels in our teeth, garebear exclaimed gleefully, as debo nodded sagely beside him, her left pointer finger thrusting for a stray kernel lodged between a canine and incisor.

this was not the memory i wanted, i told them. sitting here on a couch in england, holding my dissertation up to a computer screen before people picking their teeth. that, i swore, was not a memory i would treasure.

it would seem that is something about which i was wrong.

tonight, i sent off the corrections to the examiner...


12 October 2016

A photo posted by Sky (@sky_the_ragdoll) on


A video posted by John Stamos (@johnstamos) on

11 October 2016

0 the very important conversation regarding the things that need to be done to facilitate my transfer to a different type of visa


O: hi, mummybee.

D: hi, bearoline.

O: are you ready for the very important conversation regarding the things that need to be done to facilitate my transfer to a different type of visa?

D: of course.

O: so, first

D: wait. should i put you on speaker? your father will want to hear this. i'll put you on speaker. [an aside] gary, you'll want to hear this. i'm putting her on speaker.

G [in the background]: why don't we skype?

D: can we skype? he wants to skype.

O: we can skype. but the internet connection is not great here you know.

G: let's skype.

O: also, you've not seen me in a few months and i've not washed my hair since friday and i stayed up all night to watch the debate but please don't take my appearance today as an indicator that my life has fallen apart.

D: we're going to to skype. ok, bye.

O: bye.

[skype ringing noise]

D:  YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL.

G: what's happening to your hair?

O: guys, please.

G: ok, tell us what you got.

O: so, what i need is my birth certificate and

D: i don't have that. do you have that?

G: i don't have that. she should have that.

O: i don't think i have that.

G: let me go look in my box of treasures.

O: if i had that it would be in my box of treasures.

G and D: WHAT?!

G: you're frozen.

D: we can't hear you.

G: where are you?

D: she was right there. you saw her, she was right there.

G: of course i saw her, i'm right here.

D: where did she go?

O: HELLO. i went nowhere.

D: oh, THERE you are. what did you say?

O: i said if it's anywhere here, then it's in my box of treasures.

G: it won't be in mine.

D: go look in your box of treasures.

G: she's frozen again.

O: i'm going to turn off the video and then maybe the sound will work for us. i'm turning off the video.

D: WHERE did she go?!??!

O: guys, focus. i've turned off the video and am going to look in my box of treasures to see if my birth certificate is there.

D and G: ok. [whispering to one another]

GIANT LOUD NOISE

D: what happened to her?? is she ok?? what's going on? i can't see anything??

G: doesn't she know that she's supposed to say i'm alllllllllllll right so we'll know she's ok?

D: she should know that. IS SHE OK?

G: how would i know? i'm here with you.

O: i'm fine, i'm fine. the pile of books on top of my treasure box fell off. i'm fine. lookit that, i own nine oyster cards!

D: were you expecting the brady bunch?

O: no, and no it's not in my box of treasures, though your document of final intent is.

D: your father's got his treasure box here. he's opening it up. he's looking inside.

O: you know i can see you guys right, even though you can't see me? your video is on. so, mummy, you really don't need to narrate.

D: oh. i did not know that. but i do love to narrate.

O: oh, i know.

G: oooooooooh, look here it is!

D and O: yay!

G: that script from that one time i played the person in the gold lamé pajama pants petitioning pilate to kill christ!

D and O: that's not it!

D: he still hasn't found what he's looking for.

G: oh wait, here 'tis! right by the document of final intent.

O: geez, when you die we'll just be surrounded by wills.

D: you can throw yours out. it's probably wrong. you know how often we update.

O: so we've got it?

G: got what?

D: the new will?

O: nooooooo, the birth certificate that precipitated this whole conversation? good grief, what is that thing in the hallway?!

D: what thing?

O: is that fez?! guys, i seriously thought it was a small dog.

D: you can see him??

O: of course i can see him. the video is on.

G: he is not fat! how dare you!

O: i'm just saying he casts a broad shadow.

G: WHOA. WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?

D: THERE YOU ARE!

O: um... i turned my video back on about ten minutes ago.

D: and aren't you beautiful.

G: but you scared us to death.

O: ok, so we've got it.

G: got what?

O: the birth certificate.

D: no, this is a copy.

G: but it's a certified copy.

D: so it's the real thing.

O: so it's the real thing in spite of being a copy?

D: of course.

G: absolutely.

O: that doesn't make sense.

D: oh, but it does.

G: daughter, this is the way the world works.

O: this is why everything takes us so long. that was the first item on a list of five.

D: whew. should we pause and have a snack?

07 October 2016

0 :)


0 i am babbling

a favorite KBGism. and i always interrupt to say, no, no, you are just talking. it counts. i care. it's not babbling. 

the corrections are nearly done. never mind the 20th. i'll probably submit them to the examiners next week, if only to get them off my desk and further from my heart.

and i find myself getting DEEPLY nostalgic. not even for the phd. it's more localized than that. i am nostalgic for the corrections.

i remember fondly the days back in late june working at n.muh's apartment when i wanted to bang my head on her kitchen table because the words were like pulling teeth though my nose.

i reflect with laughter upon how only 175 words from my original attempt at this were preserved.

already, before it is even actually done, it feels like less of a chore- or, let's be real, AN ORDEAL- than it was.

24,166 words. since may. pretty much all in place by end of july.

and already i can hear garebear's voice, telling me not to get the big head. warning me not to get cocky.

which isn't to say that it is good. only that it'll get the job done.

i'm pretty nearly certain this will get me, with minimal further work, a phd. (though i have been egregiously wrong before.)

today, for the first time in seven months, i looked at the project introduction that i wrote for the phd i defended. because it'll need to be modified for the phd i'm ultimately going to send in to the awards and examinations office at whatever point that happens.

two things strike me.

1. that this really, really was not rigorous work.

and 2. it's all there.

the paragraph where i talk about how i don't want to talk about popular biography seems, so clearly in retrospect, to be protesting too much. for something not worth discussing, i go on about it for far too long.

also there, many of the things they flagged up in the viva that i thought were simply their willful misunderstandings. actually, turns out, they were mine.

it's frightening, the discrepancy between what we think we're saying and what people get out of that.

last week, AV read the corrections and one of her responses was particularly vexing. on one particular point, she said i absolutely must talk about mrs. dalloway. looking at the section to which she was responding, i saw absolutely nothing that had any connection to mrs. dalloway. 

later, with considerable alarm, i figured it out. i'd quoted something that referenced events occurring in the course of a day and, in subsequent sentences, talked about how i was doing something new. by this, i meant something entirely other than events occurring over the course of a day.

in maph, our writing instructor banged on and on about getting your words to do the work you want them to do. valuable advice. but so so difficult in practice. probably impossible in the end.

because there's what i want my words to do, what you think my words are doing, and a whole world of confusion in between. more that that, there's a whole world of confusion between what i set out thinking, what i wind up thinking, the torrent of words i fling onto the page to get to that point and the 24,166 i eventually wind up with.

maybe my nostalgia for the ordeal is actually a way of intellectually pressing pause. because there is always this forward momentum. there are at least ten things i've still to write this month. so many more words to produce.

after being so stressful, so pressurized, the corrections feel leisurely now.

i've often said that we writers write for that moment when we read our own writing and it feels like it was written by someone else. but perhaps we write for this other moment too. the moment when, for however briefly, you feel you've actually done something and done it well.

it is not a feeling that lasts. but there's a sweetness to it, like on sunday afternoon: when you know you've got school the next day but there's still a few weekend hours at hand in which you've the room to do nothing for a little while longer.

04 October 2016

0 24 drafts later


the corrections are due on the 21st. this morning i sent the latest draft to my supervisor for her sign-off. if i've any understanding of the way i work, this is presumably the next to the next to the last draft. 

i'm telling N that we will have to get martinis on the 21st and she looks at me, calculating. 

you're going to submit it on the 20th aren't you? she asks. just to beat yourself... 

well, yeah. 

i've a suspicion that this is how i let go. by being done with these things before i am required to be done with them. it eases the withdrawal. 

this morning i wrote something new. it is shit as is nearly every new thing at the outset. but i found there was a certain loveliness about that. 

perhaps this the legacy of my corrections. having spent two whole months wallowing in a process i believed had little value and during which i produced giant quantities of truly atrocious text, i find myself at ease in the wallowing now, confident in the uncertainty of the thing yet to be written but which must be written. 

it's an awful tension not without its pleasures: the space between finish and begin.



03 October 2016

0 confusions