Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

I have finished my exams, and am in the Drakensberg. It is so great to be on holiday. I will, however, be offline for a while.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Last exam

I write my last exam at Wits University this afternoon. It is Literary theory, and deals with aspects of gender theory, postcolonial studies and materialism. Unlike the last lit theory exam I wrote, I am not in a complete panic, but as the day progresses, I am beginning to wonder whether that is a good thing. Have I studied enough? do I know enough about these subjects to produce two coherent essays? what if.... I don't know what, but something. Is it just an inherent thing with me and exams that I will always panic at the last minute? And just to add to it all, my geyser began leaking this morning. I turned it off, and turned the water off, but there is water all over the laundry floor, and the washing I was planning to see to this morning is wet, but unwashable.
Better news, though, is that I have collected my framed degree certificate and my graduation photographs, and they look lovely. And I'm going to the Drakensberg tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: Ligeti I was so sad to read about the death of the great Georgi Ligeti yesterday. He was the mentor of a truly great South African composer, and yet another of my mentors, Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph. It was through her that I encountered his music, including his Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes which was performed at wits a couple of years ago under her guidance. Really a fascinating experience, that

Monday, June 12, 2006

highveld winter

Tonight is a real Highveld winter night. It’s impossible to know what I mean if you have never lived on the Highveld. Everything looks clean and sparkling. The sky is clear and navy blue, fading to a crisp blue-grey on the eastern horizon. The stars are bright and high, and the moon is full and low on the horizon. I am tempted to take my peppermint tea and laptop out into the garden to work tonight to enjoy the clarity of it all. I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world being as lovely as this, right now.
And just for the fun of it, here is a photo taken at Varsity on Friday. It is the middle of winter, and the peach trees are in blossom.

more work. I'm starting to like this

I have yet another really nice job. This one is from a lecturer from my undergraduate degree, and once again is very different from anything I have ever been paid to do before (though I have done something very similar in relation to my research). It involves lots of online and library work for the next three days, and promises to be a blast! I love earning good money for something I enjoy. And this even has the potential to produce a joint publication at the end that would look very good on my CV. So the next few days, like most of my life, look busy, but I kind of like it like this, when there is no emotional unpleasantness doing the rounds. It is good to feel needed and good to do something useful.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Going to New York

I know I am really going to miss my family when I am in the USA. I spent today with my grandmother hearing stories about my missionary great-grandparents, and South Africa during WWII, and it was really special. I will miss that. And I will miss my father's good advice, and my mother's always wanting to stand up for me, no matter what the situation. At the same time, though, I am really excited about having them visit me in New York. My father has been there before for work, before I was born, but neither my mother nor grandmother have ever been to the USA. I look forward to getting aquainted with the city almost as much so that I can introduce them to it, as for my own sake. I guess that is part of the value of this type of experience. It isn't only about me experiencing another country, but about all the other people back home who will experience it too, because I am there. And it's not just the city. Everything I will learn I will bring back with me, and that will have an impact on all my future students, and my collegues, and everyone else I work with or interact with.
I really am looking forward to this.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mushroom Risotto

I have never been a very enthusiastic cook, mainly because I can always think of other things I would rather be spending my time on. Tonight, however, as part of my bid to relax and focus on the important things, I decided to take some time to cook myself a real dinner. The result was a mushroom risotto. Mmm. Comfort food. And good fun to prepare, too.


I slept for twelve hours last night! something tells me I really need to catch up. So I am. Today I am relaxing, watching television, picking up the crochet work I haven't looked at in over a year, searching for a fathers' day gift and birthday gift for my dad (we share a birthday in July), and doing yoga. Tomorrow I'm taking my grandmother to the botanical gardens for tea, and possibly hiring a DVD for in the evening. Work can start again on Monday.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I just spent and hour and a half running the files and settings transfer wizard on one of the computers in the lab I manage, only to have the machine crash on me near the end. So I'm starting all over again, and that means I will be leaving late! Ah well, at least I have lunch with a collegue and dinner and a film with a friend to look forward to.

It's 16:51, and I am still sitting in this lab waiting for files and settings transfer wizard to do its thing. I don't get paid enough to do this! I was only supposed to work from 09:00 to 11:00. Two hours have stretched to eight. And I had to skip lunch. Grumble grumble moan. At least it's money coming in, I guess. I am so looking forward to my holiday! this time next week, I'll be there.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

good news all round

I submitted a really fun exam I have been working on all week, this evening. It was great fun to do, when I could get out of my head the panic that exams tend to induce. Even so, it's good to have it out of the way, and to have one evening to relax before the next lot of work begins.
And some exciting news, I have had a proposal accepted for the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) conference in Hawaii in November. And I got offered a really interesting job today. I don't yet know whether I will be able to accept it or not, but it is something completely different from anything I have ever done before, and I hope I will be able to do it just for that reason. Not to mention the fact that the confidence of the person who has offered it to me means a lot. She is a really great role-model in all sorts of ways, and I appreciate her belief in me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

photograph. Just for the heck of it

I so enjoyed having those Mapungubwe pictures up at the top of my blog that I think I'm going to post pictures more often. This one I took from the top of the hill above my parent's house in Champagne valley in December. I love this place. So tranquil. It was a dream come true for my parents, and is a haven for me. I'm going there again on the 16th of this month. Can't wait! It was snowing there a couple of weeks ago.

exam blues

I have been really silly this semester. I signed up for three courses and a workshop, none of which I need to take, I accepted two jobs, in addition to my choir, and all that while I'm preparing to move countries! It was plain daft. I have discovered that despite all my determination to make all this work, it simply isn't humanly possible. I am about to fail two out of my three subjects. And for someone who graduated with distinction, and, well, is just not used to failing at anything, this is a big deal. It's not that I've had it easy. I like studying, and I love what I do, but it has taken hard work. Still, I have always been able to find that little extra something that gets me through it. But this time, I seem to have run out of - what? I don't know what it would take to make this happen. I have literally been working flat out all year, and the past couple of months have been the worst. And now my brain has shut down. No matter how much I try to read, nothing seems to make sense. I can't absorb anything. So I'm taking a little break, and reminding myself that really, all this stuff doesn't matter. These marks will be on my transcripts, but they no longer matter. I am going to graduate school, no matter what, and I have a cum laude degree that can't be taken from me. I just have to keep remembering that I really have done all that I need to. And after all, I got an enormous amount out of these courses. I really did learn and read and think a whole lot, and after all, that is the important part. Writing these exams is a formality. Wish me lots of luck. I really need it!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Visiting Mapungubwe

Two weeks ago, I went to Mapungubwe as part of a course I am taking this semester. This week, I am writing an exam on it. I won't post too much detail now, because of the exam. But it was a superb trip, really exciting, and engaging, and deeply emotional, and I thought I'd post a few pictures to give you a sense of it.
The Limpopo River, as seen from our digs for the weekend. That's Botswana on the other side. On the last morning, just as we were finishing breakfast, a whole herd of elephants crossed the river just down stream from us. It was an amazing sight!
This is K2, an older habitation site than Mapungubwe, within the same reserve.
The confluence of the Limpopo and Shashi rivers. To the left, Botswana. To the right, Zimbabwe. And in the middle, a disputed island so small it's barely habitable.

Mapungubwe: the hill, on the left, and a view from the summit. The weather turned as we climed, and it really looked like it might rain. Then, as we climbed down, it cleared almost as quickly as it had come over. We suspect the ancestors were not happy with us.