Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Title :: Silas Marner
Author :: George Eliot
Completed :: Feb 16 2008
Challenges :: 1001 Books
Rating :: 3/5
In the days when the spinning-wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses - and even great ladies, clothed in silk and thread-lace, had their toy spinning-wheels of polished oak - there might be seen, in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race.
I've checked this book out a few times from the library intending to read it but (and I'm ashamed to admit this) I judged a book by it's cover! The cover pictured above was unfortunately not the one I had, mine was an old Penguin Classic cover and it was dingy and the artwork they chose for it was all browns and yellow and well let's face it the book seemed rather drab. Sadly I thought the story would be the same, I should have known better. Silas Marner was as it turns out a rather nice story albeit predictable.
The book is named for the main character, Silas Marner, who is a recluse weaver who settles into a new village when a scandal forces him to leave his previous settlement. This event seems to be the cause for Silas' withdrawal from society. The weaver is interested in nothing else but weaving his goods and collecting payment, large quantities of it that he counts and admires every night. One dark rainy night Silas is robbed of his money and is thus reintegrated into society when he tries to enlist the help of his neighbors to solve the mystery. On another dark night Silas finds a little girl lying on his floor in front of the fire. His weak eyesight makes his heart jolt as he first mistakes the little girl's golden tresses for his long lost gold. Silas becomes rather attached to her and is determined to bring her up. I believe he views her as God's (when he comes around to understanding God that is) reward for the loss of his gold.
Meanwhile, Godfrey, the birth father of Hephzibah - thankfully shortened to Eppie, lives in the same village and watches his daughter grow up under the care of Silas. He was too embarrassed to come forward about her as it would announce that he had been secretly married to her mother, a woman it appears he found despicable. Godfrey has since remarried and is afraid to reveal to his new wife that he in fact has a daughter, something his new wife is unable to provide him with. Silas becomes a full fledged member of the tiny village and is happy in his care for Eppie. She grows into a beauty, of course, and is very fond of her "father". The novel ends with Godfrey revealing the truth and the mystery of the lost gold is also brought to light.
The novel was quaint but not something I would call a classic must read epic. That being said the plot did run smoothly and it was in the end a joy to read but like I mentioned previously it was rather predictable...
Other Thoughts ::
: 1 more chapter
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!
. listening . bulimic . the used . the used .
Labels: book review
posted by Ashleigh @ 22:06, ,
Title :: Giovanni's Room
Author :: James Baldwin
Completed :: Feb 12 2008
Challenges :: 1001 Books
Rating :: 4/5
I stand at the window of the great house in the south of France as night falls, the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life.
I started my literary conquest of the great 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die last year - some books have been challenges but others have been true literary gems, Giovanni's Room is one of those gems. I found it very poetic and quite different from Go Tell it on the Mountain which I had read back in December. So different in fact that I had to double check that the two James Baldwins were in fact the same author. However, both novels deal with the question of identity and the complexity of social pressures brought on by being black or homosexual. I think maybe the writing style is what made me feel that both books were written by two different authors.
Giovanni's Room opens with David waiting for the most terrible morning of his life when his lover, Giovanni will be executed. The novel then looks back at the moments that lead up to the execution. They span all the way back to David's childhood in New York where he had his first homosexual experience, something that afterwards leaves him confused as to who he is and slightly embarrassed by the situation. This embarrassment leads to him bullying the boy in order to establish his manliness. When David is older he moves to France where he falls in love with a woman named Hella, also coincidentally from the United States. When he proposes marriage Hella up and leaves for Spain in order to contemplate marriage with David. David is then left alone until he meets Giovanni an emigrant from Italy. The two becomes lovers but David continues to struggle with his sexual identity and ends up leaving Giovanni when Hella returns from Spain.
Baldwin's novel is definitely an exploration of self identity and the fear of homophobia. To me David seems so afraid to be what he is, he's absolutely suffocated by this fear of how he will be viewed that he can't seem to just let go and be. I think almost everyone can relate to this if they've ever been caught up in how they are viewed by the world that life sometimes becomes an act and you forget to just be who you are. By choosing Hella in the end it seems that David takes the easy way out so that he can fall within "social norms". Giovanni on the other hand appears to be completely comfortable with the relationship and is prepared to prove that two men can have a life together. David's rejection however, leads Giovanni to commit an act that leads to him imminent execution. Overall I think Baldwin succeeded in writing a novel portraying the inner struggle we go through in order to define our identity and having the will to let that identity be visible to the rest of the world. The particular copy of this book that I read, pictured above, is a part of Penguin's Great Loves series : this ones fall in the category, Love is dishonest.
Other Thoughts ::
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!
. listening . limit to your love . feist . the reminder .
Labels: book review
posted by Ashleigh @ 21:45, ,
Well I was just shaken awake about an hour ago by an earthquake! It sort of freaked me out because I wasn't quite asleep but my bed was shaking, I could hear this low rumbling and I could hear the wallpaper on my wall make this unsticking noise. I just sort of rolled over and said out loud "What the hell was that?". I heard my flatmate open her door so I opened mine and she had a look of terror in her eyes and I asked her if she felt that, which of course she had. But there was no reaction outside, nothing on the internet, nothing on TV... was starting to think we were nuts. The building had definitely moved, the books on my bookshelf were all leaning over. Finally while talking to my mom, asking if she heard anything back home, the BBC posted a short story here. Well I guess I should get back to bed now! I hope everyone's safe and sound!
posted by Ashleigh @ 01:55, ,
i'm going to the island
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Beach near Lindos - Rhodes, Greece (Photo by: Markus Wichmann)
Agghhhh! I did it I booked my tickets! I'm so excited! From May 14th until June 4th I'll be spending three glorious weeks on the island of Rhodes where I'll be visiting ancient Greek sites and medieval cities, spending long hours on the beach reading and sipping cocktails and rubbing elbows with the greats of Egyptology. I simply could not justify this type of holiday without having an academic excuse - so this is not all about working on my tan. Rhodes is hosting the Xth International Congress of Egyptologists from May 22-29. It should be very interesting and very scholarly! Some of my colleagues are giving papers, I unfortunately am not - it's too soon for me to speak at such a prestigious conference about research I've only just begun. I hope to give a paper at the next conference in 2012 - yes like the Olympics we only meet every 4 years - but at least by then I should be Dr. Ashleigh (inshallah!) and should definitely know what I'm talking about! There are going to be some great keynote speakers I'm especially looking forward to finally hearing Jan Assmann give a paper - I love his theological approaches to Egyptian religion. I love his book The Search for God in Ancient Egypt. I'm super excited and it's such a relief to have plans to go somewhere. I tend to get a bit fidgety and feel trapped if I can't escape wherever I happen to be.
Oi! I've got two months to get my ass in shape! Hmmm... I wonder what books I should pack?
. listening . coconut skins . damien rice . 9 .
posted by Ashleigh @ 19:11, ,
Dear Viral Infection,
This is a notice of eviction. Please pack your bags and leave immediately. The host has put forward a complaint about your disruption to the peace and harmony that she once enjoyed. You came and ruined her Christmas, you stayed and made the journey with her to Egypt, and you returned with her to the UK where you persist in your obnoxious behaviors. It has now been two months, you have grossly overstayed your welcome. You have been given copious amounts of vitamins, orange juice, tea and honey, tissues, soup, tylenol, lozengers and antibiotics (for the nasty sinus infection you caused). It is now time for you to move on. The host seriously objects to spending her birthday next week suffering from the swollen sore throat you force upon her, the painful hacking cough, the snottiness and the general feeling of discontent and sleeplessness you encourage. Consider yourself warned.
- The Management
. listening . bring back the sun . our lady peace . gravity .
posted by Ashleigh @ 00:22, ,
where angels fear to tread
Monday, 25 February 2008
Title :: Where Angels Fear to Tread
Author :: E.M. Forster
Completed :: Feb 09 2008
Challenges :: 888 Challenge : 1001 Books
Rating :: 4/5
They were all at Charing Cross to see Lilia off - Philip, Harriet, Irma, Mrs Herriton herself.
So starts Lilia's journey to Italy with her companion, Caroline. What was meant only to be a year long vacation within a few months becomes a new life for Lilia when she falls in love with the son of a dentist twelve years her junior, much to the chagrin of her first husband's family. Mrs. Herriton is appalled and quickly dispatches her son, Philip in an attempt to end this foolishness and return to England with Laila so that she may take her place in society and raise her daughter. Unfortunately no amount of money will settle the matter, when Philip arrives he learns that Laila and Gino have already been married. Philip then returns to England with Caroline who appears to be quite troubled by the whole situation.
Laila's life begins to fall apart as she becomes bored and dissatisfied with her new husband. Her tragedy ends in her death while giving birth to a son. Once again Mrs. Herriton forces her son Philip and her daughter Harriet to return to Italy in order to bring back Laila's child so that he can be raised properly. Caroline also sets off for Italy hoping that if the Herritons are unable to secure the child, she might. From this point in the book the characters begin to grow, Philip and Caroline especially, upon their return to Italy they learn who they really are and they develop opinions on the subject. Unfortunately Harriet's impatience brings the novel to a tragic end.
The title of the book comes from the line "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread" in an essay titled An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope. It just goes to show that everything can start out with good intent but end in tragedy. Forster's tragedy of errors is not however, the focus of the book. There is more to this novel than the events, it is the effects they have on the characters and in the greater scheme of things Forster's opinion on matters of society. I really enjoyed this book and found it rather shocking.
Other Thoughts ::
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!
. listening . fragile heart . jewel . goodbye alice in wonderland .
Labels: book review
posted by Ashleigh @ 20:01, ,
Title :: Lolita
Author :: Vladimir Nabokov
Completed :: Jan 30 2008
Challenges :: 1001 Books
Rating :: 3/5
This book has been on my to read list for quite a while. It was definitely not what I was expecting. For some reason I had this idea that the story took place in the mid-late 1800s somewhere in Europe and dealt with this deep intense forbidden passion. And I guess I also expected some of the story to be filtered through Lolita's eyes... hmmm... not sure where I got all that from - must not have been paying attention when people talked about it and I definitely have not seen the movie. Have you ever done that, read a book thinking you knew what it was about only to have been completely wrong?
The book is actually narrated solely through Humbert, a man with an affinity for pre-pubescent girls and is somewhat comedic - definitely wasn't expecting that. When Humbert's marriage fails and he tires of the girls in Europe he moves to America where he takes up a room with a woman and her young daughter, Dolores a.k.a. Lolita. Humbert becomes determined to claim her and looks for any excuse to be near her, to touch her. Dolores' mother however, develops feelings for Humbert and when she alerts him of the fact he realizes this is the way to secure his place in the house and thus take care of his little Lolita. The book progresses with the death of Lolita's mother. Humbert now has the opportunity and freedom to do with Lolita as he likes. He picks her up from her summer camp and the two of them begin a roadtrip with various encounters in lodgings across the States. They even had an argument on the corner of Central Ave and 7th Street in Phoenix... only those streets in real life run perpendicular to one another so that unfortunately would have been impossible... minor detail.
For a short while the two take up residence in a small town posing as father and daughter. Humbert becomes jealous of Lolita's interactions with children her own age and they are soon back on the road where he increasingly becomes paranoid believing that they are being followed by a spy. Things escalate and then come crashing down.
The end of their roadtrip was a bit disappointing - for me anyway - I guess because I would like to have known what was going on in Lolita's head and how she really felt about the whole situation. In Humbert's eyes she seems to have what I would call a "whatever" attitude. I guess I was also hoping for a real triumph for Lolita, but it seems she ends up in another situation where the reader is left wondering if she's happy.
So basically I wasn't overly impressed but I do think the author was successful in showing what can happen when we are consumed by a passion, an obsession and how irrational we can become and how it can hurt others.
Other Thoughts ::
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!
. listening . it ends tonight . the all-american rejects . move along .
Labels: book review
posted by Ashleigh @ 14:03, ,
hungry for books
Sunday, 24 February 2008
Holy cow I'm a reading machine! I finished 2 books Friday, although they were small tomes (156 pgs - 54 pgs read the previous day + 225 pgs = 327 pgs). But then I couldn't sleep, the pharmacist warned me that my decongestants might keep me up. I was up until 3 am catching up on my Dickens. I'm one of those people that mark out so many pages/chapters to be read a day/week - not on every book but to meet a goal or break up what could be monotonous reading. Nerd! Trust me - I know - I got weird looks last year everytime I pulled out my tabbed copy of War and Peace at work or on the bus. Well A Tale of Two Cities is due back to the library on Wednesday and as of last week I hadn't picked it up yet. Someone wished me good luck and said that they found it kind of difficult to get into so I thought I'd better tab this baby and get it done. Feb 19-26 about 48 pgs a day - no problem. Well Wed & Thurs night of this week I was out late after seminars and didn't get to it so I was behind. So I guess I just decided to tuck in and catch up. I read Wed, Thurs and Fri's tabs and since technically it was Sat I decided to read that bit as well. I don't think it's a difficult read I'm rather enjoying it. Let's see it's 1 am now - not tired - I think I'll go ahead and read Sun's bit. Oh finished People of the Book - it was good. I know, I know, I need to post reviews... I will, I swear! When I wake up later I'm going to try to finish The Yacoubian Building.
. listening . split screen sadness . john mayer . heavier things .
posted by Ashleigh @ 01:12, ,
the dark volume
Friday, 22 February 2008
Yay! Miss Temple, Cardinal Chang and Dr. Swenson are back! The author of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (see my review here) will be publishing a sequel this May! I'm so excited - I can't wait! Below is the synopisis offered by amazon.com (click to go to the book's page).
With old loyalties tested by new and unlikely alliances, Miss Temple, Doctor Svenson, and Cardinal Chang must call on every reserve of courage to face a new and desperate struggle - after all, the integrity of their very minds is at risk. From palace intrigue and a city in turmoil to wolf-haunted mountains, underground tunnels and a suspicious hidden factory, they must overcome war and heartache to battle old enemies and a host of new villains, all hoping to seize for themselves the power of the blue glass books. Now one glass book in particular drives them all, its deadly contents the key to controlling the secrets of the blue glass, or destroying it forever.
It sounds very intriguing! So glad I stumbed upon it while I was window shopping online. This weekend I hope to get quite a bit of reading done. I especially can't wait to crack open People of the Book, everyone's been giving it great reviews. Happy Friday!
. listening . standing still . jewel . this way .
posted by Ashleigh @ 11:14, ,
Thursday, 21 February 2008
I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on what pursuing a research degree does to someone's mental and physical health. I swear this acadamic year has been nothing but up and down - mostly down. Yesterday was another one of those days. I received another email from my soon to be ex-supervisor demanding that we meet immediately and he copied in the department head. I was so frustrated. I ended up sending a rather long email to the school head telling him everything that I've been through since last semester and all the steps I've taken to resolve the situation in order to get a new supervisor. I just said that I needed to know that someone in the department was on my side and that I needed the supervisor change to be made asap. I also emailed the ex-supervisor to say that I'm in the process of getting a switch (a.k.a. bugger off). When I'm stressed my eczema goes nuts, yesterday it began appearing around my lips, eyelids and my arm - it's not very attractive. I met with the school head this morning and was promised that everything would be taken care of within a week and to not think anymore about it. He could tell that this whole situation has been getting me down and he was very sympathetic and wants me now to rise above it and move on. And so I will!
In happier news I was able to snag a copy of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. It was checked in early and I rushed down to the library and got it before someone else did. It was sitting on the trolly waiting to be reshelved. I was looking for a bluish/black book since that's the cover I've seen but the UK cover is gold and the book was a lot thinner than I thought it would be. I look forward to devouring it this weekend! Lord knows I deserve a good read!
. listening . the first of me . hoobastank . every man for himself .
posted by Ashleigh @ 15:15, ,
money in my pocket
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
How nice it is to have clean laundry, peanut butter, honey and dark chocolate! A kind soul sent some money my way because she was appalled that I couldn't afford to buy peanut butter! Thank You!
But all is well, my money was finally deposited today after a 23 day wait! I received an email this morning from a new financial aid officer saying to forgive her for the delay, she's new to the post and she'll be processing the checks sometime this week... WHAT!!! I knew those bastards were lying to me. My last set of checks were deposited within 3 days of signing them - this round they told me would take 2-4 weeks - nobody could explain to me why. I went into the office on several occasions stressing the fact that I was on the verge of starving and really had nobody I could borrow money from. I knew the checks were sitting in someone's inbox!!! I emailed her right back and said that the checks needed to be processed today because I've waited long enough! I can't believe some people - don't they realize that most students who have student loans have them because that is the only way they can live while trying to get a degree?
Anyway I'm relieved that I can live more comfortably. I can be released from my prison of pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (well I'll still eat these cause I love them! - but now I don't have to)! I can pay my bills (and all those wonderful late fees). I look forward to making a trip to the grocery store and buying fruits and vegetables, meat, kleenex and a decongestant. I saw the doctor again today because my throat is totally sore, I'm still blowing nastiness from my nose, I'm coughing and I just plain feel run down. He's says it's a viral infection and I've just got to let it run its course - oi! - it's been running since Christmas I tell him. He said I just have to take it easy, get lots of rest, drink lots of fluids and get an over the counter decongestant. I guess I just haven't been giving my body a chance to recover, I'm sure a poor diet hasn't been very helpful. The doc said that everytime I feel better and go out and do something I'm taking two steps back and need to wait a few days before attempting to be active.
So here's to having money in my pocket and to getting better really soon! Now I'm off to crack open Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.
. listening . doin' fine . jewel . 0304 .
posted by Ashleigh @ 20:17, ,
Title :: The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
Author :: G.W. Dahlquist
Completed :: Nov 05 2007
Rating :: 5/5
Wilkie Collins on acid... - New Statesman
Bodice-ripping... - Elle
Reading this book - and it is a page-turner - you become immersed, befogged, as if you had been looking at one of the glass books... a rollicking ride, as stupendous as it is stupefying... - The Guardian
Wow! The first chapter is a beautifully designed trap - so beware you are likely to get sucked in - an innocent maiden with a broken engagement spies on her ex-finace, ends up at masked party where she's thought to be a whore, forced to undress and wear inappropriate silk clothing, escapes, witnesses bizarre experiments, is caught, questioned, handed over to two brutes, she's taken away by carriage, man-handled and then gets Uma Thurman on their ass (a la Kill Bill). While she may not have had a beautifully handcrafted Hattori Hanzo katana sword, Miss Temple silenced her attacker with a very sharp wooden pencil! I loved it - whores, experiments, assassins, mysteries, scandal and dead bodies everywhere! When you've finished that first chapter I'm sure like me you'll be asking yourself "What the hell just happened?". Quite the perfect hook I'd say.
Right so we have 3 main goodies : Miss Temple, a 25 year old wealthy recently disengaged woman; Cardinal Chang, a hired hit-man called Cardinal for his red jacket and Chang for his squinty eyes caused by a disfiguring scar; and Dr. Svenson, a physician/court spy in charge of a philandering gambling drunk prince. Then of course there are the baddies - many of them in fact all acting as major secondary characters. I won't go into detail as to who they are as I wouldn't want to give too much away.
The intrigue starts when Miss Temple, the Cardinal and the Doctor attend the same strange masked ball unbeknownst to each other and two of them unbeknownst to the host. Miss Temple follows her ex-fiance in hopes of discovering why her engagement was broken off and ends up at a masked ball. It's not long before she learns that this masked ball is definitely not normal when she is invited behind the scenes and witnesses a very strange experiment. Cardinal Chang arrives at the ball following the trail of his quarry only to discover that someone had already disposed of him. Dr. Svenson's prince is to marry the daughter of an extremely wealthy man, the host of the ball, which is being held in celebration of the soon to be newleyweds - but Dr. Svenson loses track of his prince's wereabouts and ends up discovering a body on the lawn. From there Temple, Cardinal and Svenson flee the baddies and begin their escapades all while attempting to try to put the pieces of a puzzle together - a puzzle that appears to be without a solution.
Lots of scandal and intrigue and every page offers the reader a chance to collect information in an attempt to solve the mystery. There's quite a bit of detail and information to keep track of but I like that in a novel as it keeps you thinking. While sometimes it can be a bit too much this author provided the right amount. I quite liked this interesting unusual adventure - it was nice to read something different for a change. Apparently Mr. Dahlquist wrote the book in segments and it was originally published that way as a 10 volume serialized subscription. What an excellent way to read this book! But I think I would have been seriously impatient for the next volume. I can just imagine the reader would have been desperate to know what happens next. At least they would have had the time to go back and re-read previous volumes in an attempt to analyze what was going on. Reading it all in one go is fun too! There's a nice interview here that may be of interest also you may want to visit the book's website. You can even play an online adventure game as Miss Temple or Cardinal Chang. You know if done well and with the right people I'd kind of like to see this made into a movie - it would be very curious. I want to read it again! Seriously need my own copy of this book! If you've read this book I'd like to know what you thought of it.
Labels: book review
posted by Ashleigh @ 19:11, ,
a trip to the library
Monday, 18 February 2008
Liverpool Central Library
Oh the joys of going to the library! I prepared my list of possibilities last night checked the online catalogue and headed out this afternoon on a mission to bring home some treasures. That's what I love about the library, you can go in there and bring out a collection of books completely free of charge, sure you have to bring them back but that's just so you can get more! Sadly I do have a small late fee due to a book that couldn't be renewed online while I was in Egypt - but there's never a demand to pay it!
At my library back home you could check out a maximum of 35 books! And I usually had this many piled on the floor of my room. I was working as a Circulation Attendant at the library so I couldn't help it! I was constantly in the stacks pulling holds for people and finding a few for myself. Or I would be checking in books and decided I wanted to read that book too. While taping new paperbacks or stamping new hardbacks I was lured by the fresh clean pages of each new book. I don't think I ever left a shift without bringing something home! It was great and I miss being surrounded by all those lovely books - and having the time to read them too! Now reading is a huge guilty pleasure especially when I realize I should probably have been reading those stacks of excavation reports or German articles piled up on the bookshelf. Hey I love Egyptology - obviously - don't think I'd be doing a PhD if I didn't - but there's just somethign about escaping between the pages of fiction - I love it!
I can only check out 12 books here! Boo! And although the library here in Liverpool is beautiful (pictured above) I find its collection rather small and lacking. I can't find a lot of books that I've been dying to get my hands on, sometimes they're at other branches but unlike home the library here charges a fee to have books brought from another branch. I really wanted to pick up The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks before everybody else in the world has read it but they only have 1 copy and it's checked out until the 26th. Bugger! I also wanted to check out The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (before seeing the movie) and a few books I saw reviewed over at A Work in Progress : The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians edited by Michael Cart (in honor of it being Library Lovers Month) but no, no and no.
I did get :
So I've got a fair bit of reading to do. Hopefully I can snag that copy of The People of the Book next Tues!
. listening . si l'on marchait jusqu'a demain . louise attaque . a plus tard crocodile .
posted by Ashleigh @ 17:22, ,
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Hmmmm... obsessed with challenges... perhaps... but I did participate in the Chunkster Challenge last year and I want to do it again only this time I'm totally crossing-over because a lot of the books I'm reading for the 888 Challenge are considered "chunky" (450+ pages). So here's my list:
finished books are in red
By 04.01.08 : Middlemarch . George Eliot (review)
By 06.01.08 : Les Misérables . Victor Hugo
By 09.01.08 : The Brothers Karamazov . Fyodor Dostoevsky
By 12.20.08 : Remembrance of Things Past . Marcel Proust
. listening . silent all these years . tori amos . tales of a librarian .
posted by Ashleigh @ 14:28, ,
Saturday, 16 February 2008
One of my goals this year is to actually take the time to write book reviews for the books I read... well I owe you guys 5 reviews. I'm working on it so stay tuned! :)
posted by Ashleigh @ 17:47, ,
patience is a virtue...
Friday, 15 February 2008
Another Valentine's Day spent alone... and I really mean alone because I didn't leave my house and didn't see any of my flatmates all day... sigh... at least it's over.
The university is really trying my patience. Can you believe they have yet to deposit my loan checks?!? I signed those suckers on Jan. 28 almost 3 weeks ago. Everytime I go to the Foundation Building to get some answers they just assure me that it can take 2-4 weeks and they'll have someone to call me to explain why - but no one ever calls. One girl finally said it can take as long as 10 business days - alright folks we're on business day #15!! I just want to know why it's taking so long to deposit a check - a good check - these aren't personal checks they're from SallieMae. All they have to do is deposit the checks into their account take a portion of my tuition and room and board out and then deposit the remainder into my account. Seriously people I'm tired of eating peanut butter and jelly (although I can't anymore since I'm now out of peanut butter and can't afford another jar) and pasta. I really hate asking for financial help but if I really need to there are people who will help me out. But the credit card people aren't happy and they needed to be paid a long time ago - oh dear!
The supervisor situation hasn't been completely sorted out either. The department head's father passed away so he's been out. Seems like that's happening a lot around here. I wasn't able to meet with the faculty head earlier because his father passed away. And my poor friend has been watching and waiting for her father to pass since just before the new year, he passed on Wednesday. The poor thing!
At least it's been a bit warmer here, in the 50s. It's been nice and sunny too, well partly cloudy anyway. A single daffodil bloomed outside in the flower box last week and he's still going strong. His little yellow head really sticks out amongst the green. I'm hoping it's a little banner saying spring will be here soon. Now I've just got to make birthday plans - 3 more weeks and I start the hopefullly slow descent into my 30s! I'd like to spend the weekend in London with a few friends, see Wicked, see the Tut exhibition, do some shopping (if that money is ever deposited), eat, drink and dance.
. listening . damn . matchbox twenty . yourself or someone like you .
posted by Ashleigh @ 11:40, ,
Thursday, 14 February 2008
01 : read a minimum of 8 books published in 2008 (library books are acceptable!)
02 : no children/ya titles allowed since we're at the "pub"
03 : at least 4 titles must be fiction
04 : crossovers with other challenges are allowed
05 : titles may be changed at any time
sign up here
my list (finished books in red) ::
01 : People of the Book . Geraldine Brooks (review)
02 : Dead Over Heels . MaryJanice Davidson
03 : Christ the Lord : The Road to Cana . Anne Rice
04 : The Woman Who Wouldn't . Gene Wilder
05 : The Enchantress of Florence . Salman Rushdie
06 : The Miracle at Speedy Motors . Alexander McCall Smith (review)
07 : Sundays at Tiffany's . James Patterson
08 : Sea of Poppies . Amitav Ghosh
09 : The Dark Volume . G.W. Dahlquist
10 : The Host . Stephenie Meyer
11 : Blood Noir . Laurell K. Hamilton
12 : The Monster of Florence . Douglas Preston
13 : The Laughter of Dead Kings . Elizabeth Peters
I'm happy with these choices - I picked some new authors (Brooks, Patterson), books by some of my favorite authors and sequels to some of my favorite series. I look forward to reading Meyer's adult debut, The Host - should be good. The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters is unfortunately not part of the Amelia Peabody series that I was so hoping it would be but is in fact part of the Vicky Bliss series - it does involve Egyptian antiquities though and a trip or two to Egypt. I've actually never read any of the Vicky Bliss books - I should give them a go because I bet they're really good. I'm sure I'll add more as the year goes on. I just saw that Christopher Paolini's new book, Brisingr, the third in the Inheritence Trilogy will be published later this year. I can't wait! But I can't add it to the above list cause it is considered a YA title... oooo and let's not forget Stephenie Meyer's 4th vampire novel, Breaking Dawn out this fall, but alas another YA title.
. listening . the noose . a perfect circle . thirteenth step .
posted by Ashleigh @ 11:00, ,
this research has led me to the pub
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Things have been moving slow in the land of research. I'm attempting to work without the oomph to do so. Plus I haven't been going into the office as I'm trying to avoid my soon to be ex-supervisor. He's been on my tail lately - wanting to meet - but I don't ever want to have to sit down with him again! Some of you know that I have had a rather rough start in the grand adventure that is the PhD. My supervisor in as little as 2.5 months whittled me down until I was a self-loathing blubbering idiot who seriously considered packing it up and catching the next flight home. He has no interest in me as a person, my future or my project as is evident from questions and remarks such as: "What are you doing again?" or "Remind me what it is you're doing". He has terrible people skills and I swear gets off on putting students down. I have never been so demoralized in my life! Fortunately I'm not the only one he treats like this but unfortunately unlike others my skin is not as thick and I absolutely refuse to go on like this. I'll get nothing done and fail miserably. But that should all change soon inshallah. I met with the faculty head and laid it all out on the table and received an apology and an agreement to change supervisors. I've decided not to submit a formal complaint cause you never know if these sorts of things can come back and bite you in the ass. So we've decided to stick to the story that since my project has changed (because the jerk pretty much said I was too stupid to do what I wanted to do - but that's fine cause I like my new project) and no longer falls under my current supervisor's area of interest it would be beneficial (and absolutely necessary) to change supervisors.
My goal this week is to work out a schedule and a plan of action to get cracking - something I really should have done on day 1 but I had no direction. It wasn't until recently that I was even sure of what I wanted to do - but now I know and now I've got to collect data and work my way through it all.
The Hathor Chapel at Deir el-Bahri: The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
What am I doing? Well since I'm currently working with the UAEE on the mortuary temple of Tausert and have been given permission from the director to use data from our excavation (a rare treat) I've decided to look at the development of the mortuary temple on the west bank of Thebes. These would be the temples built from the beginning of the 18th Dynasty starting with Ahmose to the end of the 20th Dynasty ending with Ramses XI - that's a lot of temples to look at! But luckily not all of the pharaohs in that time frame built on the west bank and not all those who did have any material remaining other than the random stamped mud brick. Quite a few of the mortuary temples - like the one I work on - are poorly preserved and all that remains are their foundations. I want to understand how the mortuary temple evolved from the pyramid temples and valley temples of the Old and Middle Kingdoms as well as studying their development over 400+ years on the west bank. Why were certain rooms and suites expanded, what are their functions, who used them, etc. This requires studying the architecture and decoration of the temples that remain standing as well as the archaeological material (stelae, statues, pottery, etc.). In the case of the temple of Tausert and other temples whose foundations are all that remains I have the opportunity of studying the architectural and archaeological clues that lie beneath the temple walls which may help to indicate the use and purpose of certain rooms. So there is definitely lots to do and lots of excavation reports to dig through - unfortunately quite a bit of these were published in German which takes me ever so long to translate.
The second court at Medinet Habu: The Mortuary Temple of Ramses III
I'm slowly getting back into the habit of reading (for pleasure). I can't believe I've read so few books so far this year! It is so unlike me! We're almost half way through February and I've only read 3 books this year!!! I finished reading Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster over the weekend. I really enjoyed it - it was scandalous but a simple tragedy that caused two of the characters to grow, albeit a quick growth since the book is only 135 pgs. That's one checked off the 888 Challenge. Looking back over the books I read in 2007 I realized that not many of them were recent publications due mostly to my obsession to tackle the 1001 books.... So I've decided to jump on The Pub bandwagon. 8 adult books (after all, we are in The Pub) published in 2008. Now I need to make my choices...
I had a good weekend. Still trying to tackle this sinus infection but I went out Friday night with a group to celebrate one of our friend's who just submitted his thesis. Glad to know that it is possible to finish! We went to The Fly in the Loaf a nice pub that used to be a bakery but now serves specialty beers. I'm not a big beer person but I sure do love the cherry beer I'm able to get here. Saturday night went over to another friend's house to celebrate a belated Burns Night - an ode to a famous Scottish bard. It was a great night full of kilts, reciting Burns, whiskey, and having my very first taste of haggis - it was really good but I have to try desperately not to think about what it's made of...
Anyway hope everyone has a nice week! Now I'm off to read!
. listening . freak on a leash . korn . follow the leader .
posted by Ashleigh @ 20:14, ,
recovering with the giants
Monday, 4 February 2008
I feel like I accomplished nothing this weekend but I am feeling a lot better and I did finally blog and post pictures of Egypt (see the post below)! :) I had hoped to finish reading On Beauty but I can't seem to get into reading lately. Shocking I know! But I think I overdid it before the new year trying to squeeze in so many last minute books. I've also been longing to crochet but for awhile there I couldn't seem to work anything out. I received some lovely wool from a friend and I'd love to whip it up either into a hat or some fingerless mitts but I haven't found a pattern that excites me just yet. I did start a scarf last night with some plain purply yarn I had. I was looking for textured patterns and found a really neat site: my picot (I love the collar and edging section!). I liked the simple and textured pattern #0013 but ended up doing it all wrong - but I like what I came up with instead - it's got a lot of texture and it's going to be a nice thick scarf.
I stayed up really late last night to catch the Super Bowl. BBC2 was airing it live on their website but it didn't start until 11:30 pm here! But I had to watch it because it was being played in my hometown - only 5 miles from my house! So I got to see a bit of desert. I was talking to my mom earlier in the day and she said a lot of visitors were complaining about the weather because they expected Phoenix to be in the 70s or 80s but yesterday it only reached a high of 60 and it was overcast and rainy - this Friday it's suppose to get up to 77. Go figure! Before the game to kill time I watched Jerry Maguire to get into the mood - Show Me The Money! - but I thought it was funny that Maguire sings the song Free Fallin' when he thinks he's got his big client back and then Tom Petty ended up being the half time entertainment - what a coincidence! I must admit I was starting to fall asleep during the half time show - hey it was 1:30 am or so - and I missed the entire 3rd Quarter. But wow what an amazing 4th Quarter and I'm so glad the Giants won. :)
. listening . believe . the chemical brothers . push the button .
posted by Ashleigh @ 12:19, ,
egypt 2008 : pharaoh's curse or pharaoh's gold
Saturday, 2 February 2008
The title alludes to the fact that I'm not sure if this season was cursed or blessed or perhaps both. So before I delve into this season's adventures I've decided to get all the complaining out of the way. So if you want to skip all that just scroll down. Here is a list of the things that sucked this season:
1 : Being sick - practically the entire time, nose like a faucet, sore throat, coughing (major hacking), can you bruise your trachea? well it felt like it - it was so swollen and painful to the slightest touch, headaches, muscle aches. Frankly it was a miracle I lived through it all.
2 - 5 : EDITED (because I'm just a big complainer... but people seriously get on my nerves sometimes...)
6 : Missing the opportunity to have cocktails with eminent Egyptologist, Kent Weeks and his wife Susan. Kent came out to our site and I did get to shake his hand and chatted a bit. It was a dream come true I've wanted to meet this man for like 10 years now. We arranged to have cocktails at The Winter Palace the following Tuesday and when I arrived the reception desk wouldn't let me in because I was wearing jeans. Other than my dig pants all I had were jeans. They were very clean, it was the first time I was wearing them there and I had a very nice blouse on but they wouldn't give. I've never heard of a place in Egypt where you can't wear jeans. My flatmate suggested I wear her black pants so I walked back to the flat but the only black pants I could find were wet and hanging to dry. I was crushed! I think I cried for like an hour - hey this was a dream people! I was so upset because we could have moved our little cocktail party to the Nile Terrace of the hotel where jeans are allowed. But Wilkinson assures me that I have only delayed the inevitable. The Weeks' will be in town when we return and they have invited us to have dinner on their dahabeeyah (houseboat on the Nile). Sigh.
Basically a big ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!
Ok on to the good stuff! :)
Our workmen add buckets of excess dirt to our ever growing pile.
Now I can't give away too much here but once the final report has been published I can share all. (Reports from our previous seasons can be found on our website : University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition.) Our goal this year was to locate the back of the temple so that we could determine how many seasons we will need to finish the project. So the far south and far north trenches (TA1 and TA14 respectively) were pushed back. By the end of the season we may have reached the back of the temple in TA1 but have yet to reach the end in TA14 this is because many good things were being uncovered in this trench. MANY GOOD THINGS!!! One of the center trenches was also excavated.
Once the many good things started being unearthed I realized that I'm a bit bored of running the total station. It was a job that I took over in 2005 because I knew that it would make me a necessary team member and gave me the guarantee that I would be invited back each year. Don't get me wrong I love doing the mapping but archaeology is my true love and I so desperately wanted to get down into the trench and oversee and remove certain things. I was given the opportunity to do so a couple of times and this confirmed that in the trench was where I needed to be. So I discussed this with Wilkinson as he's always been very good about making sure I'm given opportunities to do and learn whatever I want. So next year another student will be brought out to run the total station but as I am the Director of Mapping I will basically be instructing them while running a trench. And I will still be responsible for doing the Auto CAD from the data collected. This makes me very happy!
I also received a promotion! As of next season I am now an Associate Director instead of an Assistant Director. What does this mean? Well I'm right below Wilkinson and there are only 4 Associate Directors (myself included) and we are all in that position because we are advanced students who are in the process of completing or have completed their PhDs (save for one who is a unique case). This makes me even happier! *edited Apr 11 2008 to say: since I have decided to finish my degree back at the UofA or effectively 'start over' the promotion will have to be delayed until I am a year or two into the program since it is only for students who are finished or are nearly finished with their PhDs. Zut! But I'm still Assistant Director!
Looking northeast across the site - these units were uncovered last season and show some of the foundation stones we found in situ.
I also got around to discussing my future career with Wilkinson. We talked about publication and speaking at conferences - two things that I'm working on. I definitely plan on giving a paper at least two conferences next year and have outlined some ideas for articles. But Wilkinson tells me that what looks better than submitting work to be published is being asked to write something. So... Wilkinson has asked me to contribute a chapter to the book he will be publishing on Tausert!!!! Holy cow!!!! I was so totally floored by this! He's also asked me to help in the production of a CLASSIFIED PROJECT. This makes me the happiest person alive!
Our expedition is also growing in prestige as we continue to recruit experts from the field. We now how have R.J. Demarée from Leiden University working for us as our official hieraticist. He's been helping us in the translations of any hieratic material we've found. And just recently it has been announced that Elena Pischikova from the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be joining forces with us. Elena has been working across the way from us in the hills of Southern Assasif in the tombs of Irtieru (TT390), Karabasken (TT391) and Karakhamun (TT223). These tombs date to the Late Period around the 25th Dynasty. Elena and her team have done a lot the recovery and restoration of these tombs - it is simply magnificent. Being teamed up with Elena means that we (being the students) will have the opportunity to work with Elena in these tombs where she has generously offered to teach us field conservation techniques. This is the icing on the cake!
So petty people, illness and the damn Winter Palace aside it was a great season!
Working in the winter was a lot nicer than the summer - the weather was perfect! We even got to experience a bizarre storm - it sprinkled on and off for a couple of days and then poured for an entire day. Apparently this only happens every 10 years or so. The only downfall of a winter season is that the kids are in school so I didn't get to see as much of them as I usually do. Plus last summer we spent a lot of time at the pool but it's too cold for swimming in the winter. We did get to celebrate Amira's birthday though and that was fun - Amira is the oldest daughter of our Reis (reis means chief or in the case of archaeology chief foreman), Ali. Next year I'll just have to make sure I get over to their house more often or get Amira out so we can hang out together. We love getting together to give each other manicures!
A beautifully inscribed and graffitied wall out in the Wadi Hammamat.
We only took one side trip this year and we decided to trek out into the eastern desert to Wadi Hammamat. This was the location of an ancient quarry used throughout Egyptian history, from predynastic (roughly 3100 BC) as is seen from the "primitive" rock art and images of predynastic boats to Roman times as evidenced by the remains of Roman forts at the tops of hills. We explored a lot of the area hunting for hieroglyphic texts as well as vivid scenes. It was truely magical and extraordinary. We even came across sarcophagai that were being manufactured but they were abandoned due to damage. A lot of the ancient inscriptions are unique because the people working these quarries probably had more freedom to say what they wanted to say without retribution from the throne. Although quite a few of them are nice inscriptions where an individual is shown giving praise to various gods, pharaoh or even the cartouches of the pharaoh; some of the inscriptions show individuals writing their own names in cartouches! The graffiti is amazing too and is written in hieroglyphs, hieratic, Coptic, Greek, Arabic (one I found dating to 1946) and English (dating to the late 1800s). I'd like to visit this site again sometime in the future because there is so much more to see.
Hatshepsut (Maatkare Khnumt-Amun Hatshepsut : Truth is the Ka of Re Joined with Amun Foremost of Noble Ladies) prepares an offering table in her Red Chapel at Karnak.
I also visited the usual : Luxor Temple (this time at night), Karnak Temple (check out the photos for behind the scenes shots of the Roman Baths currently being excavated), Hatshepsut's Temple at Deir el-Bahri - then hiked up and over and down into the Valley of the Kings where I got to enter Tutankhamun's tomb (again for free!) but this time it was extra special because his mummy is now on display. Wow he looks great! Well really the mummification job isn't the best and his remains were poorly treated when he was originally removed by Carter's team - in fact they hacked him into pieces! But he is now nicely displayed in an air controlled box and he is covered by a linen sheet and only his face and feet are visible. It was amazing to see his face in person, a face that I've been looking at in books and magazines since I was a small child. I also got to visit the pyramids at Giza - I hadn't been out to see them since my first year in Egypt. It was neat we went in the late afternoon so we got to watch the sun start to set behind the pyramids. And of course I visited the Cairo Museum.
Well that's Season 4 in Egypt in a nutshell - good times and bad times but I survived and I have a really good feeling that next year is going to be the best! Inshallah! Now follow this link to check out the 150 photos I uploaded. Click on the album Egypt 2008 so you can view the photos in order. I took the time to add a description to each one so I hope you enjoy!
The Pyramid of Menkaure at sunset.
posted by Ashleigh @ 15:14, ,
Friday, 1 February 2008
So just an update. I'm still feeling like crap, here I was hoping to return to the UK, instantly get better and hit the books. But I've gotten worse. I've got a mean sinus infection, a nasty painful cough, a clogged ear, a burning throat and I've pulled muscles in my rib cage from all the coughing making it painful to breathe. But I have hope! I was able to get another small loan from mom so I could go get my prescription, some cough medicine and some soft tissues (I've been using the cheap toilet paper here and as a result my face is all chapped and I've got a nasty cut just inside my nostril - don't I sound attractive...). Everyone's been really nice though. My friend Julie popped over with some soups, a loaf of bread and some vapor rub. One of my flatmate's made me some good spicy Chinese food last night that allowed me to breathe for a bit. And everyone's else been offering to fetch me things.
I've been having some financial problems due to the fact that the checks for my second loan installment arrived here in the UK after I left for Egypt, so I've been having to borrow money left and right. I went Monday morning first thing to sign the darn checks over to the university so they could take their money and deposit the rest into my account but they told me this could take 2-4 weeks! What???!!! I asked them kindly to put a rush on it cause I needed the money yesterday and at the time I only had 6 pence to my name! As of today the money still hasn't been deposited so I went to see them to once again explain my situation. You see my parents can't afford to help me out more than they already have done and besides with the exchange rate their loan is cut in half once I pull it out of my account here. I need money for food people! I was able to pick up a few essentials with what my mom was able to give me and a nice lady from the financial office said they can arrange to loan me £50 next Monday if my loan hasn't been deposited. I can make £50 last if I have to so I feel a bit relieved on that end. Now if I can only feel better. Inshallah the drugs will take effect soon!
Today I spent hours - yes hours - selecting, uploading, titling, tagging and describing 150 of the 811 photos I took this season. It's a lot of hard work posting pics but I wanted them all to have detailed descriptions. So I hope once I post the link someone will take the time to enjoy them all. I realized I don't have a lot of people pics, what can I say the monuments demand more attention. But next year I think I'll concentrate on taking more pics around town. I'd especially like to photograph some of the markets we visit to buy veggies and what we thought was a chicken but turned out to be a duck. I'm not able to post a lot of the photos cause they were taken on site and show things that are classified, only those who have been screened and have passed through maximum security will be allowed to view these (a.k.a. my folks and closest friends). Now I just need to work on the accompanying tale and move on to other projects!
. listening . your star . evanescence . the open door .
posted by Ashleigh @ 17:54, ,