νοστος

I have, unfortunately, been neglecting this blog. I found nothing that I wanted to write about save for self-flagellating diatribes on how much I hated being away from my friends, or being sat behind a computer for 7 hours a day, or having to do the bloody London commuter life. I tried to forget about uni: I left every Exeter Facebook group and unfollowed every Classics-related Twitter account. I tried to embrace my new life, thinking that if I focussed on my career I’d miss uni less, and be happy. But truthfully, nothing has made me happier nor more excited than reading about PhD scholarships for next year. I don’t just miss uni, I miss Greek. I miss my department and my studying and my books. So… I’m not saying I’ll definitely do a PhD, but I decided that I need to get back to ancient Greek regardless. 

In my Masters year I won the ‘Creative Corner’ award in the departmental journal for my translation of Death Cab For Cutie’s song Pity and Fear, citing Aristotle as reason enough for this strange-sounding venture. I hugely enjoyed writing the prose composition, and found that it forced me to review my grammar skills in a way I hadn’t done since school. So I want to use this blog to rewrite a series of Classics-related songs into ancient Greek. For my own amusement, basically. Yes, I am a laugh.

So to start us off, here’s the piece I wrote for the journal least year.

Ἐλεος και φοβος are the principles which Aristotle regards as central to the success of a tragedy. Therefore I decided that Death Cab For Cutie’s song, ‘Pity and Fear’ would be a good fit for a prose composition.

‘Ἐλεος Και Φοβος’ – Θανατος Ἁρμα Τῳ Καλῳ

ἐγω τοσος οὑτῳ ξενῳ κοιμαμενῳ ἐγγυς μου φθονω

ὁς νυκτῳ ἐγειρεν και ἐν φαῳ της ἑως φευγεν

ἀφωνος, λαθρα, οὐτε ἐπινευσας οὐτε ταραξας

ἁμαρτιαν θ’ἁμαρτιαν ἁμαρτιαν παντοις αἰτιαται.

και μεν οὐδεν δακρυα ἐστιν

μονος δ’ἐλεος και φοβος

και μεγας χαραδρα

ἐν ἀκριβει μεσῳ

χειμοντος ἐπι τῳ ποντῳ ὀντος πρῳρα ἐσχισε και ἐγω ἀνετρεπον

και κατεδυσα που οὐδεποτε ἰεναι ὠμοσα.

εἰ οὐκ οἱος τ’ εἰ κατα χωραν μενειν, οὐκ οἱος τ’ εἰ το ἀποχωρειν πυνθανεσθαι.

των περιοντων, των μενοντων, των μενοντων, των μενοντων.

και μεν οὐδεν δακρυα ἐστιν

μονος δ’ἐλεος και φοβος

και μεγας χαραδρα

ἐν ἀκριβει μεσῳ

διοτι οὐδεν δακρυα ἐστιν

μονος δ’ἐλεος και φοβος

μεμηνμαι

και του ὠθισμου μαλλον ἠ πτωματος,

και του ὠθισμου μαλλον ἠ πτωματος.

And here are the lyrics in English for comparison:

Pity and Fear – Death Cab For Cutie

I have such envy for this stranger lying next to me

Who awakes in the night and slips out into the pre-dawn light

With no words, a clean escape, no promises or messes made

And chalks it all up to mistake, mistake, mistake

And there are no tears

Just pity and fear

And a vast ravine

Right in between

A storm at sea the bow cracked and I was capsizing

And I sunk below where I swore I would never go

If you can’t stand in place you can’t tell there’s walking away

From who remains, who stays, who stays, who stays

And there are no tears

Just pity and fear

And a vast ravine

Right in between

Cause there are no tears

Just pity and fear

And I recall

The push more than the fall

The push more than the fall

 

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Zero Days of Happiness

Hello blog. Long time no see.

I didn’t manage to keep up 100 Days of Happiness. In my last post I spoke about how I would rather see it through to the end by posting photos a week at a time than stop half-way through. But I stopped, and I won’t be restarting.

I wanted to do 100 Days of Happiness because I wanted to remember that, no matter how overall bad a day was, I could always find at least one snapshot of something that made me smile. But life isn’t like that. Some days are just shit. And some days the things that make you happy aren’t the things you take photos of.

Today I went to the tombstone setting of the most unique and amazing person I ever met. It’s now a year and three months after her death, but it still hurts, and I still find myself thinking of her almost every day. I think of her when I walk to the station in the morning – I live near Arsenal, which she would have fucking hated as she was a massive Chelsea fan. I think of her when I walk past the synagogue near me – I’ve only ever been in one twice in my life, once for her funeral, and once today. I thought of her when the Manchester attacks happened – that Ariana Grande concert was exactly the kind of one she would have gone to, a massive stadium gig where she’d turn up five hours early to get to the front. I think of her all the time.

So today wasn’t really a day of happiness. It was a day of grief and mourning and remembrance. I cried and my friends cried and I felt so weak and shaky that I couldn’t sit still. I mourned for the life cut short, for the fact that she didn’t make it to 23 years old – her favourite number, and for the inevitable never-ending grief of her mum and dad and sister. I wish they didn’t have to go through it.

But, today was also a celebration of a hilarious, incredible, kind, clever girl who we all loved so deeply. She was a teacher and a clown and the best friend you’ll ever have, and quirky and funny and mad, and she was my Kels and I was her Kwis, and I will treasure the memories I have of her.

Today also gave me the opportunity to see friends I haven’t seen in years, and people I should catch up with more often. It also gave me the chance to laugh and reminisce, despite all the sadness. So I guess I did find a glimmer of happiness in a sad day.

The point is, taking photos of random parts of my day just to pretend that there was some shining light of joy which made it all okay seems ridiculous. Or at least unrealistic. But I knew I had to write again and end the 100 Days of Happiness for a reason. I’ll write when I want to write, not when I feel that I have to post a picture for the sake of a hashtag. And today, I wanted to write.

I miss you Kels. I hope you know how loved you were and are.

All my woofs,

Lil’ Kwis

100 Days of Happiness: Day 9

14th March 2017

It’s double photo day! But only because I didn’t actually take a photo for my Happy today, which was Mae Martin’s excellent gig at the already legendary Bill Murray pub in Angel. The other photo is just yet another sunset image because I love dusk and I felt bad about the shitty screenshot being my ninth day of happiness.

100 Days Of Happiness: Day 3

20170308_174521.jpg8th March 2017

Today I attended the Institute of Fundraising Cultural Sector Network Conference and it was great! Met a lot of interesting people from the sector and thought a lot about my career. And I went to drinks at a very posh hotel, which is where this photo came from.

But my Happy for today is that it’s my boyfriend’s birthday. I am tipsy and soppy but he is the best person in the universe. Case in point: he asked me to donate to a woman’s charity instead of getting him a birthday present, because it’s International Women’s Day. Love you Charles de Gaulle.

StopSober

Well, it’s 1st November, and I’ve done a month sober.*

To be honest, it wasn’t too hard. I was mostly moving house and applying for jobs rather than going out and partying three times a week, like I may have been at uni. But it was rewarding. Saving money, never waking up with a massive hangover (and I get BAD hangovers), and not having to worry about the calories from all those pints were all pretty damn good reasons to do it. And it made me think about choosing not to drink on nights out in future.

14305353_10154419713578847_8403076404928017241_o
A visual representation of how much of an idiot I am when drunk

But I realised something about myself and my habits: I am definitely more persuaded to go out if I can drink. Sure, it will definitely be fine when I get there, and I would be able to have great conversations and actually remember them in the morning. But I was invited to the pub or to a party a couple of times during the month, and my first thought was “ugh, I’m just gonna be boring if I can’t drink.” How sad is that?! My friends wouldn’t force me to drink, and I knew about all those positive aspects of sobriety that I mentioned earlier. But drinking is so enforced in our psyches, so entrenched in the British way of going out, that I couldn’t imagine meeting up with my friends in an evening and not having a pint or a glass off wine to get me off to a good start.

To anyone thinking of doing a month sober, I heartily recommend it. It makes you rethink your motivations for going out, and helps you stay healthy – and if you can raise some money for charity, that’s not bad.

Donations are still open, so if anyone else wants to dig into their pockets to help support cancer sufferers, go ahead and click here. And finally, thank you to everyone who has helped me reach my fundraising goal so far!

 

 

* Apart from when my mum bought me a Golden Ticket so that I could have a glass of champagne to celebrate moving house… But we’ll forget about that for now.

Sober October

So, with my thesis finished and anxiety about jobs under way, I’ve decided to set myself a challenge. I’m doing a sober month to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Now, I’m not a massive drinker, and since leaving uni I’ve barely had more than the couple of glasses of red wine I had on holiday. But if I go out, I will drink, and I don’t want that to be the norm anymore. I want to be able to go to a gig and just drink a coke, without looking longingly at the beers behind the bar. But that’s not the main reason that I’m going sober.

Two years ago, I accompanied my mum to get scan results at the local hospital, thinking that we’d leave after her appointment much the same as we went in. Maybe she needed some antibiotics, or maybe the scan was clear and there was nothing to worry about. But when I saw mum talking to a nurse with a Macmillan badge on, I knew that our worst fears had been realised. Thankfully, the cancer had not spread from her kidney and it could be fixed with just one (scary) operation – it could have been a lot worse. But Macmillan were wonderful, and there are plenty of others who need their support for longer than my mum did. They do a great job, not only in their nursing, but in their innovative fundraising campaigns, and that’s why I’ve signed up for Go Sober.

So please give anything you can to help me reach my goal of £100, and to support this wonderful cause.

https://www.gosober.org.uk/users/kirsty-harrod

Who Run Netflix? Girls

You may (read: should) have heard about the new four-part series of Gilmore Girls, coming out on Netflix on the 25th November, and may even (read: should definitely) be excited about its release. Gilmore Girls won the hearts of the world in its autumnal charm, set in the picturesque nowhere-land of Stars Hollow, with lovable characters and easygoing story lines. But what viewers loved more was the razor-sharp wit and ridiculously quick chatterings of Lorelai and Rory. Here was a comedy-drama series led by two different but intelligent women, with a supporting cast of even more different and intelligent women: Sookie, Lane, Emily, Paris… The list goes on. Whilst the show did pander to some stereotypes – for example, Mrs Kim, the strict Asian parent – but it often explored these stereotypes, and gave the characters a voice. Mrs Kim is far from one-dimensional.

In the nine years since its last episode in 2007, the number of female-led TV comedies and films have grown, and I’m here to celebrate the best of them.

 

Broad City

Broad City is about as far from Gilmore Girls as you could get. Set in bustling NYC, two best friends struggle through modern life, making mistakes as they go and clinging on to what little money they have. Whilst its wacky comedy and many embarrassing scenes will have you cracking up in no time, what’s truly lovely about the show is the portrayal of female friendships. They don’t compete with each other, nor do they just talk about boys. They hang out, complain, and tell each other everything. And that’s what we need to see on TV. Just two gals having a great time together. Add to that the representation of bisexuality, and you have yourself a pretty much perfect show.

 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Truth be told, I haven’t even finished the first series, but I feel like I have to include this show. Whilst the title and first ep seem somewhat misogynistic (girl goes ‘crazy’ and moves to a tiny town in pursuit of some guy she dated at age 16), the show breaks down these ideas and shows how sexist they are. Rebecca is determined not to feel the often-portrayed hatred of her ex’s new girlfriend, and her sexuality is shown in a bare-all, comedic light. She is neither stick-thin nor coy and shy. She is unashamedly wacky, and the show even breaks down the use of terms such as ‘crazy’ to refer to genuine mental illnesses. Brb while I go watch the rest of the series.

 

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Rec is nowhere near a new show, and has broadcast its last episode (wahhhh). But if you never got round to watching it, I urge you, GO. NOW. The main character, Leslie Knope, is a go-getter in her career, a boss, who will do anything to do her very best work for her community. April is as different to Donna and Ann as any two males in any other cast, and each has their own character development over the seven series. It is a joy to watch a show in which you are rooting for the characters, rather than laughing at their stupidity. It’s just the best, okay?

 

Of course, there are others: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Absolutely Fabulous (an oldie but a goodie), and OITNB to name a few. But right now I’m too excited about Gilmore Girls to think anymore. Go watch, and enjoy comedy done right, without one-dimensional female stereotypes, and with genuinely funny writing.

The Problem with Millenials

Okay, I’ll admit it. This is a deliberately click-bait-y title. I obviously don’t think there is a major society-destroying problem with so-called ‘Millenials’. Unsurprisingly, I and all of my friends fit under this category of young people (roughly those born after 1980) who are often demonised by older generations (particularly ‘Generation Y’) for being lazy, work-shy, and phone addicts. I do, however, think that Millenials have a problem with themselves. We are a generation of anxious, depressed, scared people just trying to do our best.

The problem we have is that there is an overwhelming pressure to be doing something. We constantly see our friends and acquaintances plastering photos of their holidays, volunteering experiences, and days out all over social media, and we think to ourselves “why am not doing that?” We read articles about work-shy attitude of our generation, whilst tapping out the fifth job application this week, and lamenting that we’re not good enough to earn above minimum wage. We think that if we’re not doing anything ‘productive’, we’ve wasted our day. We don’t see the millions of other young people doing the same as us, sitting on our beds at the end of a day of school or lectures, watching TV and wishing they were doing something more exciting.

The drive to be productive is one of the burdens of capitalism. We are not free to simply live and to enjoy our surroundings, but instead feel the need to be contributing to the economy. Our generation is beginning to realise this, and rebel against it. We feel that no-one deserves to be in poverty simply because they do not have a particular number in a bank account. To be alive is good enough. When we think in this way, we see that the idea of paying everyone a base amount per month and scrapping benefits isn’t so crazy. Admittedly, paying a millionaire more money just for being alive seems odd, but if everyone has at least some money to live on, we can concentrate on other things.

But we can’t enact our ideas without being branded unintelligent by the older generations. We will be ridiculed for our wishes until we prove them wrong. We have to try.

Pulling the trigger on Classics

Salvete!

I am berating myself for not writing anything for a while, but life’s been busy and messy, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

My topic today today was inspired by a twitter debate between the fantastic Mary Beard and ‘@stavvers’, a user who was protesting for trigger warnings in Classics. Whilst I am clearly biased towards the former (any feminist classicists are automatically among my favourite people), I am well versed in so-called ‘SJW’ arguments, and generally agree with trigger warnings. My basic feeling is that it’s easy to tag something with ‘tw’, it makes very little difference to my life, and it prevents unnecessary harm for other internet users. Why wouldn’t you take ten seconds out of your day to do it?

The problem is, Classics is utterly laden with potentially triggering stories. You can’t study any part of the classical world without encountering sexual violence, gore, incest, torture, and countless other features which may cause mental harm for the reader. In the twitter discussion, one user suggested that these matters should be mentioned in the prospectus for the course, perhaps some small print suggesting that those who are likely to be triggered may not apply. But, realistically, no university is going to print anything that makes their courses seem less than perfect.

Ideally, a potential classics student should know that they should not take courses such as ‘sexuality and gender in the ancient world’ if they know they will be triggered by discussions of rape, nor ‘women in antiquity’, nor even ‘Greek drama’. The reality is that the ancient world was not a very nice place for a woman to be: the Athenian girl was under the power of her father until she was married off at around fifteen to a man twice her age, potentially without being consulted on her marriage. And that’s if she was born a free woman – slaves got it so much worse. The Roman woman could inherit property and own some personal wealth, yet were still considered a much less important part of society than men. Classical literature is choc-a-bloc with rape narratives, from rape constituting the plot of Menandrian comedy, to an entire group of Sabine women being taken by soldiers to sire the Roman race.

However, potential Classics students don’t, in fact, always know about these potential triggers. They study Cicero and Homer and architecture, and may never even think of the position of women in such a patriarchal society. This is why we need feminist scholarship, for Classicists to challenge the misogynistic ideas of the ancient societies, as well as knowing the etymology of the word. We need theses and books on why women were absent from the study of Classics for so long, and why we should consider them now. The erasure of women is not an option.

The lack of trigger warnings in Classics is a feminist issue, in that no student should go into the field without being fully aware of the literary misogyny that they must tackle in their degree.  To be a Classicist who ignores any discussion on women is not sufficient. So hats off to Mary Beard for sticking by her guns and arguing for the lack of trigger warnings (pun intended). And for any potential Classics student: know what you’re getting into, and know what you are comfortable with. But more importantly, have fun. Classics is the most rewarding and interesting field of study there is.

 

 

EDIT: P.S. I apologise for the binary language – the concept of gender fluidity in the ancient world is a whole different issue…