July (Retrospect and Reminiscing #7)

July (Retrospect and Reminiscing #7)

I know, it’s Christmas, and I’m blogging about summer, whatever. I didn’t think I’d get enough into the Christmas thing not to want to write this today, because I wasn’t really feeling it, but hey, I have to rip these new CDs at some point – might as well blog while I’m doing it, right?


Instead of a mugshot, here’s a full-body picture of me taken while in Spain with my orchestra at the end of the month. I’m not hugely keen on hot weather, but can occasionally be induced to don summery clothes and go outside, where I will promptly complain about the sunlight, hiss like Gollum, and seek shade imminently. This is a rare photo of Miriam in the wild – I’m almost smiling!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was playing in the band for a production of Hairspray. The month began with four days of performances, by which point my poor overused wrists were in considerable pain. Even with ibuprofen gel, I barely made it through the first two performances. On the third day of the show, I was at a Cambridge Open Day, so I hadn’t used my hands all day, but they were still agonisingly painful. We knew I couldn’t play the violin that night.

I missed the third night’s performance, but just about managed to get through the last night, with the help of painkillers and a lot of sugar. In fact, I was so hyped up that by the end of it, I decided to go to the afterparty, even though I hadn’t been planning to. I’m not the party type, but given that everyone there was cast, crew or band for the show, I knew all of them at least on sight, so it was a much friendlier atmosphere.

Watching them all getting slowly drunker while I stuck to soft drinks was also pretty entertaining.

My dead hands made me feel miserable (so I made a playlist called “Start A Revolution With Me Please” to cheer myself up), and to make things worse, I was trying to complete Camp NaNoWriMo and the novel I’d begun in June, A Single Soul. I changed my wordcount goal to 30,000, knowing I’d never make it to 50k, and began a slow process of alternating between the Dvorak keyboard layout, which I didn’t know, and Windows Speech Recognition, which hated me.

Because I couldn’t do most of my other relaxation activities (writing, tumblr, blogging etc), I started reading Gesta Asnacorum, the satirical magazine produced by students of the subject I hope to study at university, and came across this:


If there was any doubt in my mind about whether I wanted to study ASNaC (Anglo Saxon Norse and Celtic), I lost it at that point.

I also got obsessed with an Australian show called Dance Academy which, for the first series at least, was the only “happy, cheesy” show I ever watched. You know, because mostly I watched things like Doctor Who and Merlin and Hannibal which ripped my heart out and laughed while they did it, but this wasn’t going to be like that at all, was it?

Right. Right. Oh, I’ve never been so wrong about a show in my life. I cried for four episodes straight at the end of series two, and I’m actually still not over it. Even just relating the plot to mother person made her cry, and she’d never seen it. That show lured me into a false sense of security and then consumed my soul with a side dish of all the cheerfulness I’d ever felt.

I don’t know whether I was trying to outdo it in terms of angst or even if I’d got that far by this point, but I ended up killing five major characters in my novel in a single sentence, and if that’s not some Hugo-esque disregard for their existence, I don’t know what is.

It was a fairly cruel thing to do to my readers, as evidenced by the dedications in my novels:


The fact that I felt the need to apologise when Charley’s novel made me cry in a classroom at school suggests I understood the severity of my actions. Alas, she’s yet to actually read that book, so I don’t know what she thinks of it. I hope it merits the apologies.

July finished with my departure on tour with my orchestra and band, problematic due to my hand problems. I played, though I made sure to take a lot of breaks – it was flute rather than violin (which I’d been playing for Hairspray), but still hurt quite a lot – and that was the last time I’ve played the flute or piccolo since then, unfortunately.

While I was there I read The Catcher In The Rye which I detested in a way I have hated very few books. I couldn’t find a single redeeming feature in it at all. I know all the things I disliked were deliberate and intended to make a point, but I found it the single most depressing novel I’ve read in the past year, and I’ve read some pretty dark ones. I wanted to murder Holden Caulfield after less than ten pages, it had an inconclusive ending that just summed up its utter hopelessness and pessimism, and I generally hated it.

I have no patience with annoying, immature, perpetually adolescent boys. Having to read the thoughts of one of them for some time was almost intolerable.

I spend enough time thinking that nothing can change. I don’t want to read about it as well. Books aren’t meant to just point out the dragons — they’re meant to show us that dragons can be beaten and give us the courage to fight them. Catcher just made me want to give up and end it all. It was horrifically depressing.

I’m not passing judgment on anyone who actually liked it (I kind of am, but you’re entitled to your opinion), but it was something that made me very miserable and the only reason I finished it was because I was reading it for school. Ugh. It sort of combined with a bunch of things to ensure that I spent the first few days of tour feeling incredibly low…

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about that. Let’s not.

As I’ve already mentioned, I barely managed my 30,000 words for Camp NaNo, which allowed me to finish A Single Soul, though I didn’t start anything new. I read through an unfinished novel, Isabel, and discovered how hilarious the narration was, but other than that not a lot of writing happened. I wrote two poems, as well, and two blog posts, one for TCWT and one explaining how finishing Camp NaNo that month was harder than NaNo had ever been for me.

july booksBut, of course, hand trouble didn’t stop me reading, and I read eight books. I continued my Hannibal obsession by reading the source material, Red Dragon, which was at times horrifically disgusting, but generally tolerable and occasionally hilarious. I also read When God Was A Rabbit, which my sister lent me a long time ago, and I remember a few sentences of it really standing out to me, like they were written just to hit me where I needed it. I can’t explain it better than that.

So, that was July. Severe pain in my hands, limited writing, and orchestral happenings.

I’ll discuss August tomorrow, which involves travel (Ireland! Germany!) and features guest appearances from Charley, who’s probably been mentioned in every post so far, but there’ve been no pictures until now. I haven’t consulted her as to whether she’s happy to appear on my blog, but given that she’s off skiing somewhere, she cannot stop me. *evil cackling*

But in the meantime, if you’re celebrating Christmas, I wish you a merry one, and if you’re not, then have a great winter solstice or whatever, and if you’re on the other side of the world and coping with summer heat, then I’m really sorry, because that’s awful.

I’m tempted to share the photo of me wearing a blanket poncho that I took about an hour ago, but I’ll save it for my December post. See you all tomorrow. :)

3 thoughts on “July (Retrospect and Reminiscing #7)

  1. *looms out of her supposed absence with a slightly affronted look* I am very much here, and you are most welcome to include mugshots – provided they are suitably hilarious ones ;)

    In other news – I hated Catcher in the Rye SO MUCH. I swear everyone who reads it does. Still news to me how on earth it’s still lauded as “much loved”, even if it is a classic for good reasons! Holden reminded me of Turin Turambar without the justification and vaguely engaging psychological aspects, I have to say. Thought you’d enjoy the comparison.

    1. Ehehe, when I ranted about it on Facebook a couple of people spoke up in its defence, informing me that it’d clearly gone over my head. (To which a friend responded, “Oh, don’t be pretentious, nobody really likes it.”) It’s a Marmite book. You either love it or you want to shred it.

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