The Bucket List – Three Things I’ve Achieved

I’m a bit late coming onto the August Blog A Day Challenge, but I’ve been wanting to join in. So, here’s my first contribution about the three things I’ve achieved.

1) Becoming a historian. Ever since I was about nine, and was handed my first David Starkey book, about Henry VIII’s Six Wives, I knew I wanted to be a historian. When I was a little girl, I was guilty of

Always reading! Here I am in the 80s.

Always reading! Here I am in the 80s.

romanticising the past, but now I love it, warts, smells, lice, and all. One of the best institutions I attended for education was Brevard Community College, because they had this amazing library by a lake, and I used to go here for about four hours every day between my classes and I would read everything – Cicero, Livy, Plutarch, Ovid, Boccaccio, Danton, Paine, etc. I was in hyper-learning mode, and I loved it. It was definitely one of the most productive periods of my life until this year. I have to be honest, the best education I received came through my own self-education, not through any college or university. I learned more on my own than in a lecture hall.

Me in High School in 2001.

Me in High School in 2001.

It took a while for me to find the historical period that suited me best, but once I found that I could fit almost everything I loved into one hundred year period – the 17th-century – my decision was made. Whilst I specialise in the Stuarts, I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable calling myself an “expert” because, frankly, I think there is far, far too much information to know, that it would be foolish to call myself that. I really cannot understand anyone who calls themselves an expert in, say, the History of Europe from Roman Times to Modern Day. That is FAR too vast an amount of history for a person to be an expert in, in my opinion. I’m always finding gaps in my knowledge that I try to plug in every day. Knowledge of history is sometimes like the game Minesweeper, you press one (read one book) and loads more pop up and you realise there are fifty more things to research. It’s a never-ending process, but I love it, and I only hope my very poor eyesight will be able to keep up with me. I enrolled in two online courses, one at Princeton, History of the World Since 1300, and one at the Curtis Institute of Music, “From the Repertoire: Western Music History through Performance.” I’m taking them for free via Coursera.

2) Moving to England. Growing up first in Pennsylvania, then Florida, I always felt drawn to England. In 2007, I met the man who would be my husband, and he happened to be English, and immigration to the UK was far easier than immigration to the USA, so we waited until I graduated from university and I ended up moving to London in 2009. This was not easy at all. I experienced huge emotional ramifications because of this as I am very close to my family, particularly my mother, and if it weren’t for Facebook, Skype video chats, I simply would not have been able to go through with it.

Greenwich, 2009.

Greenwich, 2009.

There have been good things and bad things that I’ve encountered since moving over. I have experienced quite nasty discrimination because of my standard American accent, so I’ve had to adopt an RP accent when speaking in public (usually from self-proclaimed “open-minded” people who then launch into a vitriolic lecture about American foreign policy. Yep, that’s all my fault. Right). With only my husband and chats to my family in America, I felt quite lonely and uprooted when I first moved over, and I’ve struggled with times of depression, self-doubt, and weight gain, coughing fits, and really painful migraines. The good bit is that I am able to indulge my great passion for the historical sites in this country, though anyone who has the notion that it’s all Mr. Darcy’s and politeness and decorum are in for a fright. Modern-day Britain is one of casual swearing, apathy about their heritage, and an almost religious love of football! But there still are those of us who like traditional Britain, and that’s the Britain I love – I love the rich history, the pageantry, the customs of tea, the monarchy, the huge wealth of historical artefacts and libraries full of old primary sources. Paradise!

3) Publishing my first book. 2013 marks ten years since I graduated from high school, and I was coming upon this anniversary with a bit of anxiety. I had achieved a good deal since I was seventeen, but I didn’t quite feel like I had much to show for it. You can imagine how thrilled I was when a publishing company asked me to write a novella for them! Andrea with BookIt was unbelievable. I hadn’t sent a manuscript out to anyone, but my tweets and the articles on the website took care of that, and they liked how I wrote. I was floored. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good a writer as my favourite, A.S. Byatt, but I did the best I could, and continue to do the best I can with my work. That’s all you can do. Work very, very hard, and some people will hate it, some people will love it, some people will think it’s ok, but want to read more. I’m working on The Stuart Vampire now, which is coming along nicely for an October release, and every time I sit down to write it, I am thankful that I am lucky enough to be in this position. My husband is so supportive of my career endeavours, and without his help, I couldn’t be devoting all of my time to history and writing. I’m very grateful, and hopeful that I will become a better writer in the years to come.

So whilst I have achieved three of the things I have most wanted in life, it has not been easy. There is still a long road to go for me with my career and in terms of my physical well-being, but half the trouble is knowing what’s wrong and having a plan to improve things. Everyone has struggles in life, some more than others, so we have to keep going!

Thanks for reading!
Andrea, the Seventeenth Century Lady x

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Hear ye! 13 thoughts — so far — on “The Bucket List – Three Things I’ve Achieved”:

  1. Peter Jones

    You’re right. We Brits don’t appreciate all the wonderful history all around us. You point things out that I haven’t even realised where there.
    I for one am proud tha you chose to live in England.

    Reply
  2. Charlotte Frost

    Truly sorry and ashamed that you’ve experienced such horrid behaviour – an all-too-common British reaction to anyone successful and accomplished.

    BTW, your garden tour looks fab.

    Reply
  3. Dale C. Rice

    Hello, since I will be in London on Sept 8-11 and don’t know a thing about it, I wonder if you can tell me the General Direction of ESSEX ? I need to see a birth record housed there from the Stanstead Church of St. John….my 8th ggrandfather was born nearby and the baptismal record from 1623-24 is supposed to be there….Further: Have you come across the Name Jane Mercer in your wanderings of Historical People? She’s a Daughter of Jane Grey? It is my hope that she is conected to Margaret Mercer, a 10th Great Grandmother by Thomas ap Rice 1570….This will prove a most interesting link to the Tudor’s…..Kind Regards Dale C. RICE 1948 Nebraska Rices

    Reply
    1. Richard Endsor

      Having lived and worked on Long Island I too noticed the difference in the social graces. Americans are more polite, swear less, and apologetic when you bump into them in the street, for example. There is a reason, a Brit can afford to express himself in stronger terms as there is very little or no chance a gun will be pulled on him and he will be murdered. Give it time dear Lady and you too will be as course as the rest of us and use good old ancient Anglo-Saxon words.

      Reply
      1. Andrea Zuvich (The 17th Century Lady) Post author

        Hello. I think everyone should be decent and kind to people, especially good people who’ve not done anyone any harm (like me). I never, ever, use profanity, it’s not in my nature and the one time I did use a bad word, I washed my own mouth out with soap and water and never did it again. 🙂

        As for your comment about guns, I’m a pretty good shot, both with a gun and a bow and arrow! 😉 I should learn how to use flintlock and matchlock muskets, though!

        Reply
  4. Andrea Zuvich (The 17th Century Lady) Post author

    Hi Dale. There are some Tube stations in Essex, which is to the North-East of London. I’d recommend using the TFL Journey Planner to help you get to your destination: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/default.aspx Also, might be wise to get an Oyster card. Good luck with researching your family tree. I’m afraid I have not come across any information about your ancestors, but there are plenty of places you can find more info from! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Dale C. Rice

      Many Thanks to you, I don’t know what an OYSTER CARD is but Im sure It will make sense once I arrive….Your very kind response is greatly appreciated…DCRICE 1948 Nebraska Rices

      Reply
  5. Richard Endsor

    You sound far too nice and decent a lady to have anything to do with those raucous, aggressive and very forthright women I have found during research for my next book, The Women of Pepys’s Dockyard.

    Reply
  6. Eileen O'Leary

    I went on my first trip to Britain when I was ten, and I purchased the “Kings and Queens of England book 1” A Ladybird Book for children, and 44 years later, I still have that book!
    In the 1980’s, I was discussing the political situation in Britain with a British guy, and he said “I’ve always thought americans were stupid, but you’re not”. So, nothing has changed over there.

    Reply
  7. Eileen O'Leary

    Yes indeed, people are all unique individuals, and how much poorer our life would be if we refused to get to know someone because of how they look or what nationality, religion they are!

    Reply

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