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i've been thinking a lot about my sophomore year of college lately, mostly because i've found myself, over the last eight months or so, deliciously backsliding into fandom, a pleasure i first really experienced at that time. i rapidly realized i'd been a fangirl all my life, but it was only at age twenty that i found a community and could give my enthusiasms a name. it was like a homecoming. fast-forward ten years and i've loved arthur conan doyle and his puckish sherlock holmes for a long time now, but sherlock (bbc) has given me a new venue for thinking about how and why fandom is such a crucial and fascinating cultural phenomenon, especially for young women.

in college i was a lotr fangirl, with some harry potter thrown in for good measure. i imagine myself back in that tiny dorm room outside of philadelphia, an old stone building full of women, giggling with my other fannish friends. one in particular, c, was the companion with whom i would frantically refresh the library of moria website, waiting for updates. late at night we'd push slapdash missives on scraps of notepaper under each others doors -- "why haven't they updated yet?! its 12:02!" we had a game we played, c and i, along with one other friend, m. we each had our crushes on some celebrity or other and would sit around and talk about them as if they were our boyfriends -- "i told him not to call me when i'm revising for an exam! i wouldn't call him in the middle of principal photography would i?!" -- it was a joke, a way to pass the time, and we called it "the lie," a space where anything could be true and safe. over the course of a year, it became a part of how we interacted with each other: writing postcards from each other's love interests, professions of adoration that included veiled fandom references and things only others like us could understand. we stayed up until the early hours watching our boys appear on snl and late-night talk shows. we shared fanfic links over AIM in the days before facebook, before gmail, before archive of our own. we tacitly admitted the private purposes to which we put our bookmarked stories; we talked about sex.

it sounds ridiculous, creepy even, but i can promise you it wasn't. we weren't belieber-style rabid fans who cried hateful tears when the object of our affections held hands with another human being in public, got a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, had a child. we weren't in love with these men or even the characters they portrayed. what we loved was the world we created for ourselves. what we loved was the acceptance, the freedom. what we loved was each other. 
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i hate the dog days of summer. all of it. the sticky, the humid, the sweat-running-down-the-back-of-my-legs-ness of it; that feeling of never being truly dry or clean, the smudginess of summer. the bananas on our kitchen table ripen with a shocking alacrity, faster than we can eat them.

in west philadelphia, though, there's a deeply pleasurable time-travel element to the hot hazy smush of july: we live beneath a prehistoric canopy it seems, full of gently creaking trees and singing insects, crammed with shiny-backed beetles and tiny ecosystems churning away in each drop of rainwater on the sidewalk. it is for me the only real joy of summer, that one morning when we all wake up to a world become aggressively green, the oaks and the elms, the magnolias and dogwoods having quadrupled in size overnight, pressing huge veiny leaves the size of dinner plates against our windowpanes. they want in. the thick air, practically erotic in its dampness, coaxes the grasses and ferns to sprout and grow and thrive in every crevice, every pavement crack, every patch of earth and we as a community, as a little village in a big city, we don't appear to want to stop it or manicure the summer into baskets or pots or even into hedgerows, really. we give ourselves over to the thickness of it all. three houses over, the wisteria clambers up the porch columns searching for higher ground while below the roses and hydrangeas and dahlias and foxgloves grow swollen in the damp air, their heads bobbing downward like an old woman or a tired child, tangled up with each other. two blocks down, sunflowers glare at us from 7, 8, 10 feet in the air. after the heat of the day, when we're all huddled with our fans and our sweating glasses of fresh mint tea with its useless ice cubes, i like to watch the devil's trumpet unfurl itself across the street, huge and white in the gloaming -- a performance so slow that you can't see it, but over in a moment if you look away.

much moreso than spring, with its politely peeking crocuses, this is the time of year when i feel the plentitude of the world, and we can fully expect that this day is all days, that an apatosaurus, casually risen from the banks of the schuylkill, will appear at my window to peel away a wet star-shaped leaf and move on to the next house.
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it's been a long time. a long time. but i think i may need this space again. or better yet, i want to reclaim it. i've been thinking a lot about time. about time and growing up, and friendship, and fandom, and the things that change us. i'm a completely different woman than i was when i last posted here, but i'm ready to put it out into the beautiful void again. this may take awhile. 
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joanna newsom at BAM two fridays ago. the concert was in two halves: incredibly invention renditions of her older songs (an appalachian "writ" blew my mind) were preceded by an hour with the brooklyn philharmonic - mostly strings and horns - playing an orchestrated version of "ys"...sitting there with her web of strings (that huge instrument!) in front of the jerking unisoned bows of the violinists, she looked like a beautiful shiny-backed insect coaxing a legion of singing grasshoppers closer and closer with her music.
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so, i am now (unofficially until march) a master of arts in medieval studies. feels...i was going to say it feels no different but thats a lie, it feels really fucking good. i put in a lot of work, got good marks, won an award, and wrote a (hopefully!) fairly good dissertation on genealogy and descent as a literary trope in anglo-norman "historical" romance.

home in dc now living with the parents until i figure out my next move. possibly phd next fall if i can get my act together, otherwise playing around and working - maybe here, maybe back in the uk - for 18 months and then a phd program. either option is intimidating.

but for now, having been back in the states for 12 days and home for 10, im still at that stage where all of york - the city and everything that happened there - seems like a lovely dream ive just awakened from on a sunday morning early, in the privileged position of being able to sink back into it and try to conjure up the strange chemical reaction that brought it forth in the first place. today, actually, i took the first step toward making it real: i bought picture frames. on the table in the corner of my room is a large carved wooden frame with a picture i took on the isle of lewis in the hebrides last christmas. the standing stones there, older by far than stonehenge, with the swirl of hebridean sky reeling overhead. next to my bed, a shot of myself with the boy i am or was dating over there - we're weening ourselves, slowly: hes coming to visit for thanksgiving in november and though i wont fool myself as to what will happen when we're together here, i suppose that will be another end and another beginning for our friendship - and next to us a view of york from high up: the market, the minster, and the wordsworthian puffs of english tobacco-smoke cloud. by putting memories in frames, i always feel i give them stability and hence valid purpose. this moment happened and i want its papery record here with me, standing of its own accord.
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in the damp, fountains abbey today. heavy stone on water, the footprint of cistercian simplicity in yorkshire and a monument to the solidity of the 12th century architectural mind. the trees on the surrounding hills were incredible. not particularly large or thick, but singularly human, looking like the thinned out bodies of elderly men and women, tucked gently into a blanket of dirt up to the shoulder. the bulbous roundels of branches naked heads with ancient skin slipping down their straining trunkish necks to sit in still-sanguiferous folds and wrinkles at the base where they join with the crocusing earth.
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my dad, suggesting a dissertation topic:

no, marie. listen to me. everything on robin hood has not been done! because - and let me tell you this - they met on a bridge! a classic freudian image. they had battle with their staffs! - because robin hood and little john were homosexual lovers. i mean, come on. and the sheriff of nottingham? he was fucking titillated by it! they fought and everything, but it was just to throw everyone off the scent. he was part of their little triad. oh, and their little things, their little green - mantles? kirtils? - their what-the-hell-evers. those are feminine. theyre like little skirts. i saw the movie, man. basil rathbone.

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the sun is level with your eyes by 2 pm these days, 6 o'clock dark at 3, midnight black by 5 which is, if nothing else, a little disconcerting, a little end-of-days.

other things: the man who plays the wooden piano on the street was here again, rocking slowly in the way that reminds me of ilan in the half-light of thomas; the trees outside my window have arranged their naked pen-and-ink arms almost perfectly in the same kind of natural abstraction as church bells; last week, with jess in coffee-yard, i drank smooth and expensive espresso with a tawny skin on top like agate while i rested my feet high above the floor on the bar of the chair beside me.

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on this historic day in which the mysteries of the interweb were bestowed upon constantine, most glorious of emperors.

fucking finally.

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lacking internet at constantine house just yet. a few more weeks...

classes are entering the second week...medieval studies core course, early art history: "scrolls and serpents - the arts of the early insular world 600-900 ad", plus skills in palaeography, old norse, and latin. i miss doing lit this term, but everything seems to be informing everything else, hence the very intent of a studies program.

im living in a whole community of medievalists. in a 19th-century brick house. in a nearly 2000-year-old city.  

beat that.

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