Gutenberg Museum

For my master’s program, we were supposed to do some sort of presentation about our theses at the end of May. The presentation, in a way, was designed to help us better understand our topic by explaining it to others, and it probably would have been beneficial. On some level.

Everyone was kind of freaking out about the presentations, including me, because 1) I’m in Germany right now, which makes it kind of hard to do a presentation in Ireland, 2) I hate public speaking, and 3) I am still really confused about the focus of my thesis.

Honestly, what I had planned to do was play on the print culture angle and present my research from the Gutenberg Museum… essentially, making my classmates watch a slide show of my vacation photos.

You know what I found when I got to Mainz? There is no photography allowed in the museum. None, flash or otherwise. And there are some very stern-looking German museum guards dedicated to making sure no sassy-pants Texan grad students decide to bend the rules, even if it is in the name of research.

Luckily, the presentations proved logistically impossible and were cancelled, so I don’t have to provide any insight into my Gutenberg pilgrimage after all. I still don’t know where I am going with this thesis idea, but here’s my Trip to Mainz photo gallery, just for kicks.


ROPES profile photo by Mom!

ROPES profile photo by Mom!

Hi, are you here because of my ROPES profile? Happy to have you. We’ve all been working very hard on #ROPES2013, and our efforts are about to pay off!

The book should arrive from the printer any day now, and we’ll be doing online pre-sales over at our WordPress blog, ROPESgalway2013. If you’re in Galway, we’ll be having a launch during Cúirt International Festival of Literature, at 5pm on Friday, April 26. And, of course, you can always find us on Twitter and Facebook, if you haven’t already.

ROPES is a literary journal produced by the MA in Literature and Publishing at NUIGalway. In honor of our 21st birthday, the theme is “Coming of Age” and all proceeds will go to Jigsaw Galway. The book will be sold at all fine bookshops in Galway following the launch.

Head, meet Wall.

There are times when I wonder if this is the right path for me. On Friday, I visited Hodges Figgis for the first time, and I started wondering what it would be like to not “be in the industry.” Like, if I were a doctor or lawyer or an office girl and had just decided to browse the bookstore on my lunch break – I wouldn’t be watching the bookstore staff arranging display tables or selecting my titles with quite the same amount of “professional interest.” And, in this alternate universe of mine, I would have had more money because I would have chosen a career in a better-paying industry.

It does occur to me that I don’t truly appreciate literature. Sometimes I think that reading was my self-education, and as high school got dumbed down, I clung to that as my escape route. It’s not that I loved literature, it’s that I had to read or die. I am so bogged down at school right now that reading, even when it’s a book that genuinely interests me, has become a slog. Listening to people talk about books all the time is kind of annoying. I’m in two literature classes right now: in one, I can’t find a toehold in the conversation or gain any traction with the underlying theory, and in the other, I am just flat out wrong in my understanding of the reading. This has been going on every week since January.

So sometimes, yes, I think of jumping ship, or at least getting a book-agnostic job that pays well and frees up time for creative pursuits in a leisurely, non-tortured fashion. I think I would have made a decent accountant. This is part and parcel with the whole “majoring in the humanities at a liberal arts school” strategy – what the hell was I thinking? And at the back of my head, a whispered answer: that someone else was going to pay my way through life.

In a way, grad school at 30 is sort of a last chance, although I know nothing in life is final and I’m obviously too stupid to give up, no matter what the signs are telling me. So I decide not to worry about getting ahead on my essays and instead sit down to read that book for class that had interested me but I didn’t think I could finish before Wednesday (and, in reality, probably won’t), and it’s good and within three pages I’m crying about the old man who has a stroke and sits at the window making chirping noises so the birds come to have conversations with him, and it gets better. Slowly, it gets better.

No more all-nighters.

I have both of my “read a book every week” classes tomorrow, so this is usually the night – at least, for the past two weeks – when I don’t get to sleep.

However, I’m caught up on my reading tonight, so I’m forcing myself to go to bed, even though there are plenty of things I could be working on right now, calling my name…

To that end, I took some of the herbal sleeping remedy recommended by the girl at the health foods store, followed by a cuppa Pukka-brand Night Time tea, and now I’m ready for beddy-bye.

I have also, within the past hour, hit upon a new idea for my thesis, the proposal for which is due on Friday. I have had my topic picked for months, but this new idea is imaginative and collaborative and boldly experiential.

It’s possible I might have taken too much hippie potion. We’ll see if this idea stands up in the morning light.

Confession Time

On top of neglecting my blog and drinking more Starbucks than I should, I did something very bad this past week.

For the first time since I’ve been in grad school… I slept through a class.

Right now, my 20-year-old self is howling with laughter: “What, one class? All year? Try almost failing your Tuesday/Thursday Women’s Studies course because you never showed up on Tuesdays.”

But I feel horrible. It ties in with the whole “making sure I get my money’s worth” out of this programme. One of my fellow students calculated that each class meeting is worth €200.

To be fair, I overslept because I was up late reading. I’m still struggling to pin down a routine with this two-books-a-week course load. Plus, there is so much extracurricular reading I want to do right now. (Thanks, Mom!)

Books Books Books

Last semester, I had one textbook. I remembered textbook costs being astronomical when I was an undergrad, so I was pleasantly surprised that I only had to drop €30 on one book.

This semester is more complicated. In two of my courses we are reading a book each week, and in a third course the professor is e-mailing PDFs that he is scanning from the out-of-print book he wants to use for the course. It is so much more complicated than it needs to be.

I’m trying to get into a routine and – most importantly – stay on top of the reading, but right now, things are weird. I have this web stretching from the college library to the city library to my Kindle to my iPhone to Charlie Byrne’s to the campus bookstore to the college library’s website and back again.

For today’s reading, one professor said he would make copies of the excerpts he wanted us to read, but the copier broke so he couldn’t make enough copies. I found the books he was using in the campus library and the city library, but I didn’t know which passages he had assigned so I just started reading the complete books. I read much more than I needed to, and it was tough to bring my thoughts back to the specific passages we were discussing in class.

It is nice that half of the books are in the public domain, but in order to get the free Kindle version, I have to pay the international delivery charge because my Kindle is registered in the States. The charge is usually about $3 and for some reason Amazon always sends a nasty message to my Kindle reminding me that I have a monthly limit on download charges. I can get the same public domain books free on my iPhone, but I haven’t tried reading on that yet.

I go to Charlie Byrne’s every couple of days and squirrel away a few of the books on the syllabi. I’ll go in at some point and make a big credit card purchase. I guess the rest will come from the campus bookstore.

It’s a pain. Today, for example, I finally got confirmation that I get to take the class that was giving me so much trouble last week. Our book for next week is Kim by Rudyard Kipling, which I actually read as an undergrad but I also drank a lot as an undergrad so I should probably reread it. A group of us went to the college library after class and all the copies were already checked out. Charlie Byrne’s doesn’t have it, so I downloaded it on my iPhone for free. Still, I wanted a hard copy, so I decided to check the city library when I went there for an event tonight. Mistakenly, I sat through my whole event and then approached the lady at the circulation desk, who told me their only copy had just been checked out tonight.

Face. Palm.

False Start

Today I was supposed to have my first class of the new semester at 10am. I arrived five minutes early – no one there. Room was locked.

I waited five minutes, frantically checking my iPhone to make sure I had the right room. One other dude shows up. He’s a History MA, so the course must be cross-listed. He checks his phone, and the History MAs have posted to their Facebook group that the class doesn’t start until next week. At this point I’m thinking I’m the only Publishing MA registered for this course.

Throughout the rest of the day, it transpires that there are seven of us in the course, but we arrived at the classroom in shifts all the way through half ten. No one knew anything about the class not starting until next week. We get an email later in the day saying the course is run by a different department and to direct our queries that way. Also, it doesn’t start until next week and, oh yeah, it’s going to be on Wednesday afternoons now.

So it turns out I have four-day weekends this semester. Which is awesome, except I really need a job.