|(The real van is white, with far fewer windows)|
The second reason that I have failed to blog during bus rides is that I have discovered that I get carsick when I try to read while in a moving vehicle--well, this is not really a new discovery, as I always used to get carsick when I was a child, but I had thought I might have grown out of it. So, rather than blogging, I have been listening to audiobooks to pass the time, which I find quite delightful, as I get to take in the beautiful countryside while also reading something. I always sit on the top of the double decker bus, and because I get on at the station in the morning and at one of the first stops in the evening, I can always claim the very front seat, so I have an enormous picture window through which to gaze as we rumble along, through Oxford, into Woodstock, past Blenheim palace, through some rolling fields, past some thatched-roofed cottages, and into Chipping Norton. My books of choice at the moment are the Harry Potter series, mainly because my flatmate Jackie had them in her computer and passed them on to me, but also because I have not seen the final three films, and have no idea what everyone is buzzing about lately since the last installment came out. My audiobook collection is rather small, but I am on the lookout for more. If anyone has any interesting ones, please send them over!
In addition to rowing, I was still singing with the Oxford University Student Chorus. We were having the concert much earlier this term, during Fifth Week (which, incidentally, was also the week of Summer Eights), so we had a much smaller repertoire and worked much more quickly to learn it. We were also auditioning new choir directors, as Theo was stepping down after completing his year. This was a fun process, as we got to observe many different styles and learned a bit more about what effects different leaders could have on a choir's sound. We were performing Five Negro Spirituals, A Serenade to Music, and a song called Sleep, which was originally composed for Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening," but had to be changed when the rights couldn't be secured. The concert was much smaller in scope, held in a church instead of a theatre, and the proceeds were going to charity, so there was less pressure on this one, but it was still fun to perform, and I was complimented by the conductor yet again and encouraged to pursue singing in some capacity in the future.
Though Oxford is generally a well-insulated bubble, and I tend to move through life contentedly oblivious to the happenings in the rest of the world, I did learn in early May that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I had mixed feelings about it, as I was glad of the fact, but nervous about retaliation. I was disgusted by the many comment-thread arguments ignited on Facebook, and refrained from joining any of them. I also chose not to make any public declarations about it, as I didn't think I or the event merited comment. I did, however, wear my American flag bandana while rowing that week.
I did a lot of baking in early May, largely as a result of having bought too much milk and needing to use it up. I made cheese muffins, peanut butter cookies, and sour milk biscuits, to name a few. I also had some fun experimenting with a mini chocolate biscuit cake, thanks to Prince William, and with some savouries like asparagus soup and homemade parsnip-potato gnocchi. I remembered to send my Mum a gardenia for Mother's Day, and I remembered to send my advisor a very rough outline of a thesis by our agreed deadline. She really liked the idea, which was good, as it was the first one I had liked, too, and it was about time I had settled on something! I had said I would be taking a look at Donne's own idea of his literary fame, and whether it was important to him or not. This is an ongoing debate, so I didn't purport to have an answer, but I thought that by looking closely at some of his writings I could demonstrate a sort of recurring strain that suggested his own feelings. That's about as far as I had gotten at that point, but it was a direction, and it gave a focus to my research.
In the meantime, I had also received word from the Relaxing Stories people that I had been selected as one of the finalists in their short story competition, which was being judged by Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass. I was featured on their Facebook page, and my story was later released in their iPhone app. I was not the ultimate winner, but I was pleased to be recognised in that way.
I guess I will stop there for now, as I am considering taking my new bike (FreeCycle, I love you!) up to the Wolvercote Farmer's Market, where I hear there is a cycle workshop where I can get a cheap tune-up. Hope everyone is having a lovely day, and hopefully you'll hear more from me soon!