To avoid the “2014 in Review” mess I got into last year, I’ve decided to make a post at the end of each month with a photo of all the books I’ve read. Sadly though, January hasn’t been the best month for me. I’ve been dealing with health problems that have made focusing relatively difficult, and I’ve spent far more time writing than reading (I keep thinking I haven’t done anything all month, but I’ve written almost thirty thousand words… which doesn’t exactly make for an intellectual slump.) Consequently, I’ve read parts of several books, but I’ve only managed to complete Carolyne Larrington’s King Arthur’s Enchantresses (which isn’t pictured because I had to give it back to the library) as well as my rereads of Mrs Dalloway, Brideshead Revisited (which I started in December), and Vile Bodies.
I reread parts of To the Lighthouse that were relevant to a paper I was writing. I started rereading The Hobbit, but I couldn’t focus and went straight to The Fellowship of the Ring (which I’ve also started, but which I’m reading in eBook format so that I can read it at night.) I read "Roman Fever" from Edith Wharton’sThe World Over collection. I read a lot of fanfiction (which I’m done being apologetic about because damn it it can be good and sometimes you really need to read a hilarious crack fic to laugh), lots of JSTOR articles, and I had fun going through Downton Tabby (which messingaboutinboats gave me when she visited early this month! <3) and Medieval Cats, which are both more on the picture book level of things, but were memorable. I’ve also been reading Judith Butler today and going through Bright Young Things again for a project.
So, not the best intellectual month, but not the worst either. I always hate January and feel like I don’t get anything done because I historically suffer when I’m away from academic environments for more than two or three weeks tops, even if I have stuff to work on in the meantime.
All in all, I think Mrs Dalloway, King Arthur’s Enchantresses, and "Roman Fever" will most stick out to me when looking back on this month. Mrs Dalloway because the paper I wrote on it and To the Lighthouse was possibly the essay I’m proudest of to date. King Arthur’s Enchantresses because it was fascinating and gave me loads of new insights that I’m still mulling over (especially re: Morgan le Fey and what that means for her Morgana rewrite onMerlin). “Roman Fever” because it’s an amazing short story and reading even a little bit of Wharton again after a few months of not being able to felt like breathing again.
Originally posted on my tumblr, here.
Christmas trips to Paris have become a tradition over the past few years as one of my closest friends has been living there for the past few years and the easiest way for me to see my best friend seems to be to catch her as she’s passing through the city on one of her many trips around the world.
My first day in the city was a bit of a whirlwind, this time around. (Though who am I kidding? My every trip to Paris is a whirlwind as I always try to fit as many things into as short of an amount of time as possible.) I took the train early in the morning, spent the entire voyage reading Brideshead Revisited (and texting debourbon to cry about it) and messaging royalrory and abigailstoybox about French trains. My best friend then met me at the station, and took me to a charming bistro her mum had recommended near the Gare de Lyon to catch up before deciding to walk by the Seine to my hotel in the first.
Walking started as a “we could always walk” joke because of my hatred of the metro that we then decided to test out, but turned out to be a great decision and a good way to see parts of the city I tend to zoom through in taxis. We were exhausted by the time we got to my hotel though and ended up leisurely making our way to Galignani for our traditional visit. I didn’t pick up as many books as I usually do (I have separate post queued about that), but I did manage to find some favorites and it turned out to be as fun as it always is.
For some awful reason, we always seem to end up at the Carrousel du Louvre Apple store whenever I’m in town. It started because my best friend was having laptop problems during one of my trips a few years ago and continued when she broke her keyboard last year. I was determined not to go in there this trip, but of course, I forgot my iPhone cable at home, so we had to make our usual visit before meeting with our other friend (who used to have a tumblr that seems to have disappeared?)
Flipper, who I used to mention way back when he was doing his exchange year with me, is notoriously late everywhere he goes, so we ended up collapsing at a nearby Starbucks (because I live in Europe and being able to get multiple shots of espresso and nonfat milk is all I give a damn about at this point) … which is becoming tradition in itself. We were exhausted, so the wait was a welcome one, until he ended up being so late that my best friend had to leave to pick her mum up from the airport.
Once Flipper finally arrived, we embarked on our traditional walk through the city after dark to loop around all of our favorite spots and look at Christmas displays and lights while being complete idiots. As I’ve mentioned, Flipper spent his exchange year with me and we somehow ended up unofficially adopting him. He’s the brother I never had, and our Christmas walks are one of my favorite things about the holidays.
We eventually stopped to have sushi, and the evening took a turn for the slightly strange as our sense of humor came out and he started going on about post-structuralist conformism in relation to shrimp and sushi trains (he’s pursuing a graduate degree in finance, so… it was funny) and I started playing the “Where’s Arthur?” game I have going with tothelibrary, royalrory, and raquellereyes. (Last year was all about candelabras, Cumberbatch, and Hemingdouche rants, so…)
We then went back to Vendôme so I could mourn the horrid state of the square and snap a photo to send to debourbon, lemaldusiecle, and labelleotero before heading towards the opera and the department store windows. It was all in all a fun evening, and one that I hope we’ll be able to repeat again next year.
My second day in Paris was a bit quieter but just as memorable. For whatever reason, one of my favorite things about traveling is breakfast (probably because breakfast is just one of my overall favorite things in life), so I took my time breakfasting in bed and trying to decide what to read. I eventually settled on P.G. Wodehouse, but then realized the time and got ready to meet up with chambaron.
I’ve known Clara through tumblr for ages now and suffice to say that finally meeting with her was one of the highlights of my trip. I set the morning and early afternoon aside to spend with her, and we walked through the Tuileries before sitting by one of the fountains and going to a tea/coffeeshop she knew on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré…
After tea/coffee, chambaron and I went to lunch at a soufflé restaurant I picked out on my first trip to Paris as a child and have been visiting once a trip ever since. (I’m a creature of habit, what can I say?) We then visited a lovely shop that Clara recommended that I’m sure I’ll visit again in the future and then went back to Galignani to say hello to our favorite books and shake our heads at Hemingdouche and Stovens.
After parting with Clara, I went to meet my best friend outside of the Louvre and we walked across the Tuileries to the Orangerie as it started to rain (& my favorite little umbrella died right after I took this photo.) I had somehow never been to see the Nymphées before, so I decided I wanted it to be my museum stop of the trip.
After, we decided to try to take the most cliché selfie ever and though we succeeded, it started to pour moments later and we got absolutely drenched by the time we made it back to my hotel where we sat in the lobby and chatted until it was time to take a taxi back to the train station.
The morning/afternoon went by far too quickly, but it made for one of my favorite days of the year.
A little short of five years ago, I left Chicago behind in order to fulfill my childhood dreams of attending university in Europe. Shortly after that, I started a tumblr blog to document my journey, to post photos and thoughts and engage with others over books and television series. I love tumblr and everything it's done to enrich my life and have no intention of leaving it behind, but being a little older and having the need to micromanage every aspect of my life, I feel like the time has come for me to create a side space to post my musings and my photos.
So if you're here via tumblr, welcome! I'm going to continue using tumblr in the same way I always have and keep it as an interactive, inspirational place, but I'm going to move some of my writing and my photos over here over the next few weeks (meaning there will be some overlap).
If you're new, then let me quickly introduce myself. I'm Olivia, a twenty-four year old grad student who studies English literature. I'm interested in many different areas of literature, but I specialize in the Modern and Contemporary periods and hope to dabble in television studies in order to consider the ways in which female characters are treated in new media. I grew up in the States but never quite felt at home and swapped continents a few months after graduating high school. I've been abroad ever since and hope to remain so indefinitely.
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I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.