The Leader Said The Snow Is Black

I did the necessary thing when it's a snow day and had pink grapefruit for breakfast. It was delicious. I did make the slight mistake of adding the juice to the cup I'd used for my coffee, forgetting there was a little bit left in there, though. The mixture tasted a little like liquorice, but not in a good way. Oh well.

All fruited up, I then embarked on a snow expedition. A snowpedition. With my trusty camera in hand, I ventured forth into the white. I was tempted to head straight for campus, but instead I went the opposite direction and entered the large cemetary, where the snow was still largely undisturbed. I got some good photos there, although a raven in a tree caused a fair amount of snow to fall onto my hat. I then went further up to the village green which was now the village white, full of people playing. There were some students, but it was mostly families. I then trudged all the way back and wandered about campus, taking plenty more photographs until I felt snowed out, and retreated to Cafe Jules for hot coffee and solace.

All my lectures have been cancelled. History are operating on skeleton staff, with those staff who managed to get here despite the road chaos and lack of trains still running their lectures and seminars, albeit without a number of the students. Dr Muhs is staying in London. The opposite happened with Modern Languages. Anja made it in despite the weather, only for the departmental head to cancel all lecturers based on a combination of lack of staff and lack of students. Even the office staff were off home at midday, telling me they 'had nothing to do'!

It's chaos, but I always like a good dose of chaos to spice up the world. Oh gosh, it's started again...very light snow this time mind. Not the medium snow that kept landing in my eyes an hour and a half ago...

Music appropriate. It's stuck in my head anyhow. May it win Bundesvision, if any of you know what that is...
  • Current Music
    Polarkreis 18 - The Color of Snow


This is...surreal. I said we never get this much snow, but we NEVER get THIS MUCH snow. Outside is resembling the forests of places much further North and East, and it's very quiet. Hardly anyone is driving along the roads, and even the planes coming into Heathrow have disappeared since the airport is closed for a short while. I've read the trains coming into Egham have been halved in service with the remainder experiencing heavy delays. London is covered, making familiar sights look new, and chillingly beautiful. No wonder that the wonderful Amanda Palmer, who flew in yesterday afternoon for her concert on Wednesday, twittered that she was wandering the snowclad streets of London in a disbelieving daze.

I want to laugh and dance. I love the cold and Winter in its beauty, and England, especially Southern England, usually misses out on this, preferring its Winters to be overcast and drizzly. I can't honestly remember a time when I saw so much snow in this country. That it has effected London too, one of Europe's largest urban heat islands, proves just how special this is.

...and if the country struggles with a dusting of snow, this is something entirely different. Dr Muhs has cancelled his afternoon seminar, since he doesn't relish the thought of heading over here when getting from Islington to Kings Cross last night was such a nightmare. We're awaiting to know if Anja will do the same with her morning grammar's a snow day. And this country hasn't had snow days for a very long time. The last time we had so much snow in the South East was in 1991...and even then, things didn't grind to such a halt.

I'm planning to head out, wrapped up warmly, and take as many photos as I can, to capture this magical world before it turns to the most impressive slush pile for 18 years. I do feel sorry for Holly though, she has a really bad headache.


The Palestinian Ambassador was giving a talk on Gaza here at RHUL this evening. I feel bad for not going, but I really do have too much to do...that said, I haven't exactly been productive since GDR Literature, since I've had a slight headache. Hopefully, the meal that's cooking now ought to make that go away. I'm also missing out on the event held in the Stumble this evening to 'celebrate' the Unscene festival, co-hosted by the Writers' Circle and Drama Soc. In fact, though, the Drama Soc hold all the cards, and I feel almost as if the Circle are being sold out a little. In any case, it's a fairly standard night with boring music I'd imagine. I've never been that impressed at any such event on campus.

After all the chaos with dissertation titles, I had one forced upon me. I must have been correct when I thought the deadline was Monday, because even though the department deadline is Thursday, Dr. Muhs forced the forms on us in our Monday seminar, and in a mandatory panic, I wrote down one of the several ideas that had been bouncing around my head. It's a little clunky, but: 'Frauenschicksale': The Role of East Berlin in GDR Womens' Lives as represented in DEFA Cinema...yeah. I'm doomed. There is wiggle room, but issue-wise, I am now committed. I hope there is light at the end of this pothole I have fallen into.

Off to see Amanda Palmer in Camden next Wednesday. We're also supposedly going to have a meal in Windsor on Thursday after our podcast recording, so there are plenty of incentives to get all this work done. Nevertheless, apathy is a powerful force. Especially when it comes to these horrid little 700-word essays we have to do for German on forced topics such as cloning, advertising and so on. It's like A-level work, only longer, with far higher expectations, and with a whole extra dose of tedium.

I need to really start seriously planning for next year...but it's all so I shall focus on the present for the present.
  • Current Music
    Tracy Chapman - Subcity
Shattered Sunset


I remain so snowed under, I half-wonder if I am in Antarctica. Despite having seen SOLO SUNNY and Spur der Steine over the weekend, I am still floundering for a more precise topic. Wednesday afternoon will be the decision time for that. I'm too busy beforehand: a 700-word essay on cloning for German Language for Wednesday morning, two long translations for the same date, and this essay about Catholics in the Third Reich. On that last point, I've finished reading the book the essay question and exam question is based on, and feel as if I have the concordat coming out of my ears enough for the Gestapo to arrest me without warning. That essay was meant to be done for today, but I was too tired last night to do it properly, and so I'm hoping that I can delay until tomorrow at least. I'm in enough trouble as it is, but as it's not a formal essay (that is, part of my course mark), I have a chance.

In other news, I have my new passport. It came this morning. I'd been worrying about the fact it was due to be delivered by courier, but he had my number, so I collected it bright and early, and it's so much better than my old one in many different ways. This evening also marks the two weeks anniversary. Elsewhere, although I've now given up on getting the awesome part-time job, I have recieved news from the DAAD relating to I get to pick the time of my internship apparently, which means I can try ensuring it doesn't clash with graduation this Summer.

I'm having bad dreams of failing my dissertation, or not being able to keep up with workloads. It's distressing because I had (and have) my sights set on a First, and I'm now scared my dissertation topic will mean I won't be able to get that. I might be being silly, but I'm really worried at the moment, and I do feel that I'm having trouble keeping up. I shall need to move into a box free of distractions, and maybe then I'll have more of a chance. At least the marks are still primarily from exams, meaning that it'll come down to revision after this maelstrom of assignments is finally over. This really is the Toughest Term.
  • Current Music
    Nalin & Kane - Beachball

Das Leben der Kaninchen

Rain outside in the darkness. Wind against the window frame.

I just watched the last 20 minutes of Das Leben der Anderen ("The Lives of Others"), the academy-award winning film about the GDR and the infamous Stasi. I'd seen all but that before, however my DVD (new from Amazon) was corrupt and wouldn't get past a certain scene. I had it on my list of films to watch in preperation for my dissertation, where it was to share a place with Goodbye Lenin!, Das Versprechen (The Promise) and Sonnenallee as post-GDR films about East Berlin. Having seen the film, I can definitely reccommend it, even if it is slightly in accurate about the Stasi's methods (because a secret service that reknowned wouldn't have let what happens happen). It's moving, and the acting is superb, especially the protagonist, Wiesler. The main theme has also stuck in my head, being that kind of sad, empty, reflective music that I love.

I'm in trouble, though. I have this essay on Catholics and Nazis to do, and whilst I've read a lot, I've still got a lot to read, because this will be an exam question, and the more I know...but I know Dr Muhs will want it for Monday's lesson. Okay, that's doable. However, to focus on it, I need to take my eye off the other projects. I can do that with German, for the time being, just, but not with my dissertation. I'm supposed to submit a solid title for the work on Monday, and as things stand now, I don't have a specific theme, let alone a title. I have a few possible themes, but not enough time to watch the films and read the articles to judge which will be most rewarding.

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Sacraments against Swastikas

Dr. Muhs tutted at me and looked a little disappointed.

I went to his office after German today to tell him why the essay wouldn't be in today. I didn't want to leave it until the lesson, after all. Thing is, it might actually work out better for me in the long run this way.

See, the topic I switched to is not one I'm especially comfortable with. The Catholic Church in Berlin and the Nazis. Yes, I do have a religious background, and aye, I did go to Catholic school, so unlike some people on campus think, just because I'm not a church person now doesn't mean I don't know my sacraments. The reason I picked this is twofold, with those reasons being themselves related. We spent a lot of time (about 90 minutes) covering this in class, and it's definitely going to be on the exam. This is because no-one really knew much about it when we covered it in the seminar, and no-one has read the key book. That key book was released back into the library sometime last week, so now I have it, and am making my through way through it, with the intent of soon writing an essay that will definitely solve part of my future exam for me. Huzzah! Although there's a lot of sources out there, and there is a lot to digest, so this may take me longer than I had hoped. I am also getting fed up with the Nazis, especially when I need to focusing on Germany's 'other authoritarian state of the 20th century'.

In other news...people. I'm irritated at them. Or some of them at least. The guy in the computer centre who on both days of the weekend spent his whole time on Skype speaking loudly in Hindi to someone, for hours. However, moreso, the French guy next to me, who had a load of friends round on Friday night, who apart from being loud, left the kitchen in a mess with a small pile of ash on the table. Actually on the table. When smoking isn't even allowed in here. The number one target of my ire is the Chinese guy on the ground floor who must have forgotten to take his card with him, and thus rang the doorbell twice at 60-second intervals. The loud doorbell that sends a cascade of buzzing down the corridors. At 5:50am. I was woken up, then woken up some more so I couldn't go back to sleep, and at 6:10am, I eventually grouchily ran downstairs to fling the door open and let him in, because no-one else had done it. Grrr.

In contrast, I met richardiii on Friday, which was great. He's a wonderful chap, and inspiring in more ways than one. I was going to take him to Mango Chuntney, the cheap and cheerful local Indian restaurant, but they closed early, so I took him to the Happy Man instead, a pub I last visited some time ago. He's awesome.

I'm aware that I must sound fairly boring at the moment. On the contrary, I don't feel I'm doing enough work! Essays always bring out the stressful side of things, though, so I feel that'll change in the next week. Hopefully, my updates won't all be full of deadlines...
  • Current Music
    Polarkreis 18 - The Colour of Snow

Return to Crisis

...well, I messed that up.

I had intended to spend this weekend rushing out an essay for Dr Muhs which apparently should have been in before. On Wednesday, I told him I was about to reach the writing stage and that I'd have it in for Monday. I knew that would give me little time, but...

The title I selected, because it seemed the most interesting to write, is not a good essay title, in that there are almost no materials on it! Support for the Nazis. That's a tough one to begin with, because most books talk about Resistance, and whilst there is a good deal of information out there, it's scattered. That would be managable, and indeed, that's what I had figured I'd be dealing with this weekend, except after sitting between library bookshelves with a small mountain of relevant-looking books, and pages of JSTOR articles, I've found that it's not practical, especially since the essay is meant to have a Berlin focus. I could ask Dr Muhs for help, only it's the weekend...and on Monday, he'll be expecting it in. I can't even blag in this case, because I've not got the sources to support the blagging.

So I'm going to have to pick a different title and start again, but this close to the deadline, I won't get it done in time. I might just have to explain to him my difficulties and get the thing in as soon as possible, hopefully Wednesday, but even if he doesn't penalise me, he won't be happy. He already seemed disappointed last week, when along with the essay, he told me I'm not far enough with my dissertation.

...and I'm not. That's another problem. I know my subject area, but I need to build a question out of it, and that's a little tricky right now. Dr Muhs wanted me to get the essay done so I could focus on the dissertation...and I need to know my question very soon because that's the question deadline.

All the stress is causing me to panic more, and I'm getting to the point where I'll spend an hour aimlessly on Wikipedia because I don't have to confront this. If I had carte blanche, I could hammer a question out of my dissertation, but carte blanche does not include hurried essays, much less aborted ones.

At least I've got everything else academically under control, for the moment. I only hope that with the essay out of the way, and with a few days to watch films, read articles, and come to a question (and my indecisiveness really doesn't help there), things will fit back into place. But right now, I'm scared.

Um die Ecke

Term has started again. Campus had a few more people on it than usual at the weekend, and then Monday erupted, and suddenly, everything is back to usual. Students everywhere, schedules, the sense of electricity flowing through the wires once more. In some respects, it's glorious. In others, it reminds me of what I did and did not achieve over the holiday. The weekend itself was to a good extent spent reading up on the DEFA and their films for my dissertation, and realising I wouldn't be able to watch them yet because my DVD player, bought in Eutin, required a plug converter.

I was actually going to do this update last night, but I was feeling irked, so I didn't. I'd gone into the International Building to watch the DVD Berlin Schoenhauser Corner as part of my dissertation research (finally getting onto watching the films). However, I got kicked out at 1am by a security guard, who figured me wrong. That left me in an irritated mood, but I don't have many reasons to be that way.

Lessons so far have gone okay. I got the results back for my GDR Lit essay, which I ended up having to madrush, and somehow got a very good mark out of it (a solid first), so that perked me up a little. My Wannsee essay is still to return, however. It's oddly nice having Anja back to teach grammar to us, because she did in First Year, back when we all much worse at German. We have a new lecturer for GDR Lit, and she seems really nice so far. My 'big' course, Berlin, was a bit tedious on Monday because we spent a good deal of time talking about the final days of World War 2 in regards to the population of Berlin and their morale, and while I know a fair amount and can make strong educated guesses, I did want to move onto another theme. I think I'm more in tune with post-war German History, but that's a hard claim to sustain given some of my 'specialist' areas.

Dr Muhs wants to see me on Wednesday, giving me the choice between 9:45am and 1pm. I went for the early one, because I've been having serious difficulties getting up in the mornings lately, and having a set appointment will make sure I do. It's going to be a review of dissertation progress, and I am scared, because I'm not as far as I am sure I ought to be. The more cupboards I open, the more shelves I find, when it comes to my chosen topic. DEFA films about East Berlin are plenty enough, but there are 'Rubble' films filmed by DEFA before East Germany existed, West German films on East Berlin, and post-war films. I could probably make a shortlist of 100. Clearly, I'm going to need to sift this down a good deal, but quite how will be clearer when I've seen at least 10 films!

I did get to watch 'Schoenhauser Corner' today, though, on my corectly-plugged DVD player, which has set off a few avenues of theory in my mind. It's not a bad film, either, although it's nothing like the films of today. I also watched Dee's DVD Tribute to the Schlessis, and realised how terribly distant the Year Abroad is beginning to seem, despite the images still popping up as my screensaver. I may actually have a really good job lined up partly based on my experience last year, but I won't say any more until I know for certain, lest I jinx it.

Dr Muhs may also ask me for the essay that got indefinitely extended at the end of last term. If so, that will be my Thursday-Sunday pretty much gone. I know I need to avoid the trap I fell into last term, but with my dissertation also now fully in the running, I'm already feeling a little confused. I just have to remember to keep doing things, I suppose. Now that term's begun, after all.
  • Current Music
    Final Fantasy XII - A Moment's Rest

Doctor Doctor

Matt Smith, then. I find that rather strange, since I had a good friend in Infant School with the same name, and I still check up on him on Facebook. Obviously, it's not the same Matt Smith as the Doctor Apparent. I was pleasantly surprised by how he came across, but I'm witholding judgement until I see him in action, and it will be a third of the 2010 series before we can properly judge his Doctor, so there's little point jumping onto drama llamas now. I can well recall the mass hatred of David Tennant when Chris left, and that has on the whole fully changed.

On the subject of fandoms, congratulations Sir Terry, since I didn't mention it at New Years.

Unfortunately, I've been feeling a little under the weather these past two days. Yesterday it was a sore throat turning into a headache, today it's more just the headache. I also had a brief burst of paranoia when I read up on what getting ears pieced at Claire's entails (generally, it's not a good idea). I'm also a little stressed because I need to clean my room for a room inspection coming soon, and I need to work on my dissertation, without things like headaches getting in the way.

Thankyou radicaldestiny for your present, by the way! :)