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  • Shanley McConnell

Michaelmas in Recap

Updated: Jan 4

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The Best of 2019 Michaelmas & the Festive Season



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Scrolling Back


Can you believe its been months since my last week-in-recap update? Goodness! And how lovely it is to be back on the blog, sitting at the airport waiting for Gate Info EZY to open. There's about four people talking into their phones in different language, an elderly couple reading the newspaper together, and a Starbucks hub of people in last moments before heading to their terminal.


I wonder how many of us can easily recall the last five months. In my mind, August to December flew by, and I fear that I'd be memory-lost without my calendar. It's become an archive, and I think (while I wait), I'll read back and share some of my Michaelmas/Festive Season highlights. Please feel free to jump around to various headings, especially if you're in them!


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According to August


I spent a lot of time meeting with friends for coffee, tea, brunch, lunch and/or dinner. It was a calmer month because the coursework was carrying over from the summer. I painted a lot. Watercolours. Visited museums, on occasion, and kept in best touch with friends from States. I started investing in met new church a little bit more, and found Summer Thesis to be a highlight of the term-time. Also, picnics and sunshine and time for outdoor-walks (Port Meadow) and reading-under-the-tree (Wellington Square) afternoons.


Ok, skipping to September


Discovered an adorable Vegan Brunch space at Hogacre Farms, located on the other side of Christ Church Meadows. There's a community garden, and an old-fashioned building with a little clock-tower at the top. It's a well-kept secret, but deserves all the recognition!


My friend Becca came to visit from the U.S. for about half a week, and it was wonderful spending time her. We cafe-hopped and spent the time catching-up on summer holidays. She introduced me to Banana Tree and some new TV.


I worked the Keble Telethon for nearly a month before 0 week arrived with all its fresher-y events.


October, and Canadians don't pour maple syrup on mashed potatoes, apparently.


On the 14th of October we celebrated the Canadian's Thanksgiving. My friends and I all gathered for a potluck dinner.


Internship @OUP


Also on the 14th of October: I began my first day at Oxford University Press. It was a brilliant experience-----the AcTrade team were wonderful to work alongside and most the projects were quite engaging. Even the ones that might not have seemed so were worthwhile to learn. Cafeteria, the cafeteria at OUP is stellar, and my lunches were punctuated with guest-friends coming to visit for the break. Sometimes a walk around the grounds was in order too.


Ilya Kaminsky  


Acclaimed poet Ilya Kaminsky visited Teddy Hall on the 29th of October. This was one of the best surprises for me because I'd previously chosen to write an essay on his collection, Deaf Republic. To hear him read his poetry aloud and share with the room a bit about his engagement with the piece was a highlight for me.


November arrives in Canterbury


On November 2nd, a friend and I travelled to Canterbury for a Reading associated with the Canterbury Literary Festival 2019. A poem I'd submitted to the SaveAs International Poetry Competition had been shortlisted, and I'd been invited to read. This trip. Let me tell you. Was one of the most comedic skits of the term. I don't even know if I can try to recount it here for you because it was one of those days that began and ended in gorgeous opera style, and you kinda needed to be there on the edge of the multi-lane in the rain in the dark in the uncomfortable position that is a broken shoe and a train station away------walking past the quiet eeriness of what could have been the set of an old, untold western.


But the reading was encouraging; I was so nervous, but the attendees made me feel right at ease and all the readers were highly talented. It was nice to celebrate with them.  


Alice Oswald


Similar to above, I had the privilege of hearing Alice Oswald speak twice. Once, at her Inaugural Lecture "The Art of Erosion" and a week later, for her performative piece "As Colours Steal." What was so fascinating about these experiences was learning how they related to one another----the critical and the creative----as well as thinking about the way they might correlate to the essay I was writing on her poem Dart.


Troubadour Theatre and 22


I turned 22 this year, and my mama flew down to Oxford to help me celebrate over the weekend. We spent time in London's Wembley for War Horse, performed at the Troubadour Theatre. One word: gorgeous. The puppets and music and environment around this experience was this. It's such a devastating play, but the performance was powerful in its execution.


Also, spending time with my mama was so treasured because I hadn't seen her since summertime.


Chicken Lababdar


Both last year (and this year), my friends gathered to celebrate my birthday evening with Indian food at 4500 Miles From Delhi. The kitchen makes one of my favorite meals, and the atmosphere felt festive with lights and crackers. It was so nice to have the girls' gathering and realize how many of them were connected in some way or another, be it through activities, church and/or the writing course.


Anthropometamorphosis and the Mask


One of my friends from the Global Leadership Initiative of last year won the Mansfield-Ruddock Art Prize. Her work was installed in the Mansfield Gallery and a performative piece arranged for the 29th of November. At a Franco Manca dinner mid-way through the term, she'd mentioned the project and asked if I'd be interested in collaborating with her on the violin. I felt so incredibly honoured------her work stemmed from a desire to support and connect Evenkia voices with their representation in the UK, specifically Oxford museums.  


Her sculptures were beautiful, and the intentionality behind them evidenced by both her performance and craft. In the Anthropometamorphosis performance, Anya wore a red wolf mask during her dance and created such powerful divide between what is both wild and precious. I'd love to invite her on the blog to share more about her experience building relationships with Mansfield, the Ruskin Art School, the people living in Evenkia and all those who attended her discussions.


November was also for other birthday parties


It seems that almost half of our Creative Writing cohort have their birthdays in November, and we hosted a couple gatherings in honor of this.


Christmas goodbyes begin December


Most of early December was saved for goodbyes------cafe meets, last-minute meetings, brunches and course-work catch-ups. Christmas shopping, too! I'll take a quick moment to talk about the Keble Christmas Dinner. Never have I sung 12 days of Christmas to such hype in my life! Also, the whole evening was stunning; from dining-hall to decorations to choir and conversation.


Supervisor Meeting 


I met with my supervisor last week to discuss my critical assignment, and I feel so encouraged by her advice and kind words. Although I'd like to keep the momentum strong, I think a Christmas rest is in order.


Thank you, thank you for the safe-flight, best-wishes, friends


Now I'm home in Scotland. I'm at the airport waiting for family to come collect me, and I'm so so so so happy to see them. I also feel extremely knackered (way too exhausted for the one hour flight). It's nearly six, and I have been traveling since nine this morning. Silly how these distances go hand in hand.


Are you traveling home for the holidays? Any board/card game suggestions for the festive days? I'd be curious to hear more about your travel-tips (for returning to Oxford in the New Year) and other ideas on how best to celebrate the season.


Oh, and especially Christmas movies! White Christmas and It's A Wonderful Life are classics (I'll always recommend, hehe), but I'm keen to try a few new films this year.


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As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for the another update coming soon!



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