I have a confession.
My dissertation reading thus far has consisted of my reading of one poem. One single sonnet. I spent more time thinking up a witty hashtag for my Instagram memorialisation of my dissertation commencement than I did actually reading any John Donne.
Despite appearing perpetual busy and annoying my Facebook friend list with the amount of braggy ‘look at me I’m in Thailand’ photos I post, I actually have an abundance of free time on my hands. I’m only timetabled to teach 15 hours a week but am required to be in school Monday – Friday, 8-5, so the majority of my time is sat at my desk. Similarly, every evening after dinner with Somsri is my own, in my apartment by myself in the middle of nowhere. Before I came to Thailand, I envisaged what a productive summer I would have starting my dissertation, reading all my autumn term texts, watching insightful documentaries etc, but in reality none of that is happening.
Reading is my favourite past time. I love reading so much so that I chose a degree in English literature just so I could get a qualification out of doing what I love best. Approaching my 7th week of being in Thailand, it’s pitiful to admit that I’ve only read one novel since being here, having given up after a hundred pages or so of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.
The book I read within my first five days of arriving was Tampa by Alissa Nutting. Dubbed ‘the female version of Lolita‘, Nutting’s debut novel first caught my attention when I was working in Waterstones last summer. Disappointingly yet unsurprisingly, the only comparisons to be made between Tampa and my favourite novel is thematically in their paedophile protagonists. In hindsight, had anyone of authority seen me reading Tampa, I would most likely have been deported as Celeste, the lead character, is a young female teacher who sexually grooms her students. The plot is over bearingly smutty and repulsively grimacing in parts, boasting nothing of the poetically alluring discourse of Lolita.
I have a vastly rich, vibrant and extensive reading list for the next academic year, but there’s something about being told whatI have to read that I absolutely detest. One of my third year modules is wonderfully named ‘Sex and Sensibility’, partly which I chose for it’s inclusion of my similarly titled favourite Jane Austen novel. Despite having read it numerous times already, with Sense and Sensibility being on my academic reading list, I just can’t bear to bring myself to pick it up again. Similarly, Donne has long since been my favourite poet, and as I have not yet been able to study him at university, choosing him as my dissertation focus seemed the perfect choice. Every time I settle down to read his collected works however, like ‘3rd year modules’, the dreaded D word is all I can think about and I’ll do anything to put it off.
I haven’t just been sitting staring blankly at the four walls of my apartment though. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood happened, and I’ve been sucked right in. It’s 9pm on a Sunday evening, and before I clamber into bed I could read The Heart of Darkness that I vowed to finish today or some poetry; but there’s John Donne and then there’s Willow Pape. In a state of delusion, I concluded that the Songs and Sonnets aren’t going to change in the next half an hour, but my celebrity status could. If I fail my degree, I’ll live in the knowledge that at least I made it in a virtual celebrity world.