Now, then! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?!
What a difference four months make. When I left you, at the start of 2018, I was about to abandon all social media and social life to keep my head down and finish and submit my thesis. Much to my own surprise at times, I not only managed to submit my thesis without an extension, but I submitted something of which I really am proud. Something I believe in (there were definitely times over the last few years I didn’t ever think I’d feel like that). You may recall I suspended my studies for six months back in 2016: apart from that break, I’ve been working on this (to varying degrees of success) since I registered back in October 2012. Five years studying on a single body of work, alongside my full-time day job. Yeesh.
Needless to say, I’ve already found the odd typo and formatting error. I’ve stopped looking. I’m still waiting to hear about my viva date, but I will be posting a series of blog posts about my research in the run-up to my viva. My final submitted thesis title was: “Digital Ethnography and a Virtual Orkney: The Role of Folklore in Creating an Online Orkney Place”. I have to say, as worrying (but not in the least unexpected) as they are, the Cambridge Analytica developments, which started hitting the press the week before I submitted, have had me punching the air at times, grabbing strangers by the shoulders, and enthusiastically proclaiming, “And this is why it’s important!”
Since I submitted, I have started clawing back my life. Or, rather, inventing my new life. When I started studying I was a Graduate School Manager living in Essex. Now I’m managing the undergraduate medicine programme in Edinburgh, but living in the Highlands and travelling home to spend my weekends with my husband – my husband! – and the world’s weirdest and most adorable dog. Pre-Thesis Lydia would not recognise my life now.
It has been truly marvellous catching up with family and friends these last four weeks. We have been visited, we have visited. We have cruised Loch Ness, monster-hunting with two of the best kids ever; we’ve visited The Fairy Glen in Rosemarkie; we’ve been on a bespoke treasure hunt adventure round Berkhamsted, and; we’ve discovered the Aviation Museum in Inverness, only just down the road. We have eaten, we have drank, and we have been merry.
Needless to say, this last month has been a reflective time, but in the best possible way.
When I left Essex nearly five years ago, I decided that the phrase for the next phase of my life was going to be “mischief and adventure”. I chose three quotes to accompany that phrase:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (attr. Mark Twain)
“All things are so very uncertain, and that’s exactly what makes me feel reassured.” (Tove Jansson)
“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.” (Neil Gaiman)
Later this year, I’ll be shaking things up again. For now, though, it’s full steam ahead to summer. Plans are afoot, and life is good.