Category: reverb10

New Name

So, I fell behind on Reverb10, and I honestly don’t have much intention of catching up on most of them, but this one caught my eye:

December 23 – New Name Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

I’m not going to address the prompt, per se, but the subject of having a new name. I love having so many different things people call me by, be it nicknames or endearments. My mom’s always called me Bunny, I’m known as Hez to lots of people and Hezza or Dud to a few. I’m even “wife” to someone, though our marriage is only Facebook official.

This year I got a new nickname: Heather Mae.

Heather Mae is my honorary Southern name. I met a lot of Southern Americans this year (well, more than I’d met before and more than I expected to meet in England!), but this name was bestowed on me by my hilarious friend Alycia.

Alycia and I at Housesteads

Alycia Jo (not actually her name, but her Southern name as well) is from Georgia. When she and I are together, we’re sort of like a whirlwind. We never stop talking and laughing. I have so much fun with her. We spent a lot of time together in the second semester, because we were taking all the same classes. We spent even more time together in August, ranting about our dissertations and going out to dinner to make sure we fed ourselves at least once a day.

This kind of picture is pretty typical for us...

One particular weekend we did a high ropes course in the Lake District, with our friends J Lo and Becky Sue (also her Southern name… J Lo can’t have a Southern name because she’s Jenny from the Block). We also spent the entire night watching Disney movies. In my mind, that night sums up my friendship with Alycia. We laughed so hard it hurt and it was the best break I could imagine from writing a dissertation.

At the high ropes course!

When I went back to Newcastle for my graduation, I spent most of my week with Alycia and her mom. They were nice enough to let me sleep on their floor for the duration, and it was so great to see Alycia again. It was like we’d never left, I think our conversation pretty much picked off where August 26th had left off.

Me and Alycia at grad.

When I think of Alycia, I think of laughter and having fun and taking silly pictures. Also, of Mulan. Because even though she won’t do it in front of people anymore, we do a great duet to I’ll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan.

Alycia gave me one of my favourite Christmas presents this year:

Merry Christmas y'all

Heather Mae, my new name in 2010.


December 18 – Try What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

When it comes down to it, I think all anyone can ever do is try.

Really, we have very little control over our lives and all we can do is try to handle what comes at us. Try to succeed. Try to make the best of it. Try to keep going. Try to get through it. Try to enjoy it. Try to find joy in it. Try.

Life is about trying, about effort and not, necessarily, success.

So, in 2011, I will just… keep trying.

Lesson learned

December 17 – Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

Hard work pays off, but not as much as it should sometimes.

I’ve developed a philosophy when it comes to school work that I am hoping I can apply to life in general, when I someday find a career. It’s probable that lots of people will disagree with this, but it definitely works for me.

Sometimes, hard work and stress are important and worth it. These are the times that you really need to take things seriously and put your all into it. Like my Theseus.

Other times, it’s just not worth the stress and it’s better for everyone if you just do what you can and focus on the things that are important. Like, my museum studies class. That I got a merit in for a total of 4 hours of work.

Basically, sometimes no amount of hard work is going to get you any further than a medium effort.

It’s about balance. It’s about knowing when to slack off and when to get your ass in gear.

It’s not fail proof, by any means, and occasionally (aka often) leads to last minute assignments. But I think I’ve refined the system over the years and usually end up spending enough time on the things that matter.

On reflection, I’m not entirely sure this was a great lesson to learn… remind me not to reference this philosophy in a job interview.


December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

I’m going to start sounding like a broken record here. My friends are pretty amazing, and all for different reasons.

I don’t like people much in general, so the ones I eventually choose as friends tend to be quite awesome.

It’s a hard question because all of my friends have changed me and are constantly changing me. But since this is supposed to be about this year specifically, I’m going to dedicate it to one of my newest friends.

I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us must to grow, if we let them and we help them in return.

Chandra is the most optimistic, enthusiastic person I’ve ever met. Her love of life is contagious, and it was exactly what I needed this year to learn how to love life myself.

Chandra and I at the Parthenon

She taught me so many things: to bounce, to run, to eat dessert. Her infallible belief in me, her constant belief that I was a great person, let me believe in myself for the first time in a long time.

I believe that we meet people in our lives at the time that we need them most. And I needed Chandra this year, so that I could see everything as a good story. Every misadventure as an adventure.

Chandra and I made a pact to spend our year seeing new things and new places. We used to go somewhere new every weekend, whether it was somewhere nearby or a whole new city. Because of this we saw so much and learned so much, together. She was my partner in crime and we were, quite literally, joined at the head for the year.

Chandra and I in London

I love Chandra most for her hugs and smiles and her ability to turn almost anything into a positive. I love her for giving life to the optimist in me.

Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

Chandra and I in Delphi

Five minutes

December 15 – 5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

The moment I held my Theseus, bound and looking like a real book, in my hands and knew that I’d actually accomplished something in my life, something no one could take away.

The first glimpse of the Acropolis from the cab window.

The day I spent in Alnwick in October, in an adorable cafe with great soup and a good book.

The best brownie from the street vendor near King’s Cross in London.

The feeling I had while walking around the Christmas market in Manchester with Chandra - the anticipation of going home coupled with the excitement of a new place.

The smell of salt water and the crashing of waves. At the North Sea. In Crete. In Ocean City.

My best friend’s laughter, and how right it felt to see her every day.

The way the mountains looked at Delphi.

The best food I’ve ever had at a small restaurant in Rome.

Sunsets. Over bridges, mountains, hills, tall buildings, landmarks.

The sunrise over the Nile from a hot air balloon.