Me: “Hello, what’s all this in aid of?”
Cold, sheepish-looking folks behind huge table of cupcakes: “We’re um Christian Union, we’re um giving out cake.”
“Ooh! So the cake is FREE?”
“Yes, Christian Union. Did you see our tent on campus?”
“I did. Hard to miss. Free cake?”
“We’re doing things like this all over campus, to talk to students.”
“So you’re handing out free cakes to benighted heathens?”
“Well-”
(NOM)
“I wouldn’t put it in QUITE those words-”
(NOM)
“But yes,”
(NOM)
“free cake.”
“Must dash, cheers for the cake! Big ups to God, yo.”

the melancholy, long, withdrawing roar

I’m mostly using my Tumblr for bloggery now, as it seems more suited to the rather bitty multimedia-y crossposting shit which is increasingly my online output; anyone with a Tumblr (you know, out of the three of you still reading this) feel free to link up or whatever it is people do there. I don’t know if I’ll keep posting the heavier university letter things here (now that I’ve applied for law school, there’s definitely a season’s worth of lifeposts to come in September) or abandon this blog and name entirely. I do feel vaguely attached to the old LJ, having maintained it for more than five years now. (Wow, I feel old.)

Disappointingly, I didn’t get to spend that much time with the family over Easter; between having the first week in London, the last in Brum and lots of skating around England in between, there wasn’t much time, though we had a good ol’ family hill-climbing holiday in Shropshire. As a sidetrack on the way up to Brum I went to the 413 meet in Manchester, which was pretty cool daddio, and met airmyst for the first time in meatspace after an on-and-off internet acquaintance that we’ve shared for about… eight years. (Wow, I feel really old.)

She gave me a delicious cake, I gave her one of my old dumbphones to replace the hideously broken dud she was somehow using, and following this highly amiable Material Exchange we’re now plotting post-exam Cultural Exchanges between Leeds (feat. Royal Armouries) and Birmingham (feat. Cadbury World… yes, this “exchange” is pretty much guns for chocolate.)

Exams are kicking off very soon, and despite the grotesque amount of my degree these four papers represent (a shade under 50%, diss and second year both counting for a quarter) I’m not hugely worried. For the first time in my life quite a while I’m actually revising seriously; fortunately I have a capable and highly amusing studybuddy in the form of Louis, by far the most… committed (intentionally loaded statement) student in War Studies. We’ve had so much fun revising the Peninsular War (ie, getting ourselves the thorough understanding which doesn’t seem to have really emerged from the actual module) that we’re putting the resulting notes onlineĀ for the amusement and hopefully educational reinforcement of our class. And huge thanks to Toby McLeod for his folder of Peninsular War tricks, which I sadly must get back to him asap.

As well as Bill giving me a huge pile of his old Nintendo crap to sell on ebay (which has been an interesting learning experience in itself), I’ve scored a very brief research job in Brum; interesting stuff on an old paper company. It’s looking to be similar to the sort of homework I did on my diss, so all fun, and hey, something to keep me in baconburgers now the dissertation proofreading gigs have mostly dried up.

Despite the utterly confused weather, it feels like summer is here already. I am relaxed and confident, happy with how the days are going by.

never let them know you’re scared

>Implying Demsale: why did no one tell me about hark a vagrant before
Brosencrantz: what? I thought you knew D:
>Implying Demsale: NO ONE TOLD ME
Brosencrantz: jesus christ
Brosencrantz: ok
Brosencrantz: tell me everything else you don’t know about and should
Brosencrantz: so I can tell you
>Implying Demsale: i uh
>Implying Demsale: hmm
>Implying Demsale: tell me about history
>Implying Demsale: all of it
Brosencrantz: oh god, must I?
Brosencrantz: it's kind of a long story

  • This is one of my very favourite Firewater songs
  • which wasn’t on Youtube or anywhere else easily accessible, which led to lots of file-sending irritation whenever I tried to get it to someone,
  • and what the hell, I wanted to get acquainted with the latest version of Movie Maker and may as well kill two birds with one piece of terrible junk software (fuck the Ribbon UI).

Minimal as anything, but that’s rather the point.

the glass is half full, but the bottle’s half empty

I had my last lecture three weeks ago. Taught uni is effectively over, as the third term is nothing but exams (1x take-home essay for Tragedy and Farce, 3x bog standard exams for Rum, Sodomy & The Lash and Yah Boo Frenchy.) I don’t feel particularly well prepared – gobbet prep in particular has been so fucking shambolic and contradictory that I gave up entirely in a fit of despondence and am resolved to teach myself the entire Peninsular War and wing it from past papers. But I didn’t exactly feel prepared for the last set of exams, either, and they went just fine; I reckon letting my reading follow my interests and getting a good feel for the underlying themes beats any amount of structured revision and grinding out flashcards.

The adrenaline burn from diss is gone; so, too, is the weirdly horrible post-partum depression that comes from having something so central to my life suddenly vanish (probably exacerbated by the comedown from a week of almost zero sleep and criminal quantities of caffeine.) Replacing both has come the realisation that uni is essentially over; the last term is just a long, drawn-out goodbye.

They say you get out what you put in, and I’ve put my life into uni. Brum has been good to me. I have made dozens of friends, most of whom I’m not day-to-day with but who I know I’ll be able to turn to for the rest of our lives, and I’ve met a couple of people whose graves I’ll cheerfully piss on if the opportunity comes. I have written a novel (ish; won’t feel fully comfortable saying that til Ten Ways is done) and discovered a career. I’ve gone from being a semi-closeted firebrand on various aspects of religion and politics to being utterly apathetic about both. I’ve discovered that I am genuinely talented and intelligent in a few specialised fields, which has been a heartwarming surprise, and become so good at the motions of self-confidence that even I can’t tell if I’m faking it most days. I have had enough vague romantic failures and missteps for six seasons of a tacky comedy show and two straight-to-DVD features. I have turned from someone who’s far too easily emotionally involved to someone who’s far too detached and distant, but as a useful side effect of the process I really don’t find that worth fretting about. I have been desperately miserable and cloud-high happy in peaks and troughs like a sound-wave graph of a battleship duel. I’m not going to close with a “most importantly”, not because it’s desperately twee but because there’s no most importantly.

I have had a hell of a time, in all the best ways, and I’d trade the entire miserable litany of shit that was my childhood for just another month of it all. But I’m also more than ready for it to be over.

In my “consultation” shit-talk a year ago, I wasn’t exactly kind to the department. Here and elsewhere, I’ve said worse; the often-laughably-bad administration, the essentially arbitrary marks, the gagging discrepancy between how much a humanities student pays and how little they get. But that’s just my constant negativity: it really, really wasn’t all bad. And if that last little paragraph of furious bravado turns out to be true, if you are actually some net-literate creeper researching War Studies at the University of Birmingham, let me say, here and now, I highly recommend it. The tutors are bros, the course is fascinating, the uni itself is wonderful. The organisation is frequently a hideous mess, and a thousand and one things will go wrong, but hell, things always do.

I’m not who I was when I signed up for this, but if I could go back and have a second stab at it all, I wouldn’t change a single thing. (OK, some poor module choices and the cascade-failure clusterfuck of my second year house; but nothing important.) It’s been a good three years.

Now onward, and upward.