Yearly Archives: 2014
So i’m off work for the Christmas break AT LAST. I’ve done fuck all so far, and have nothing planned other than the yearly trip Oop North to visit the family for a week or so. Then it’s back home to my space, my rules (or lack of them) and zero family strife to tackle The Essay.
The Essay is the one piece of writing I have to do for the first year (only year if I don’t want to/can’t continue to MA level); in theory it shouldn’t be too intimidating, but having zero clue as to what to write is giving me The Fear. I’ve done research, collected data, read papers and books etc. but I feel I have achieved little, but then perhaps this is the point – “further research needed”. Also, i’ve not written an academic essay in nearly ten years. Yikes.
I know I can write well, and have been given pointers on how I should approach the essay, but where to start – even when it’s been set out for me – is daunting. How to make an argument? What is the point of what i’ve actually been doing? Anyway, I have that to at least get started on – it’s due in towards the end of January, so a week off work seems like a good time to start.
I know what i’m like though. I’m really poorly motivated when it comes to most things, but have found (thanks Reddit!) that making lists of things I need to do and giving myself options – even doing one thing from the list per day – is better than nothing, and does help ease my perma-inaction-anxiety a teeeeny bit. Have to break it down into small sections I think.
Other than that, this is definitely the time of year where I can particularly easily drive myself to tears through reminiscing or pondering upon things, mainly what I perceive as a lack of progress in my life. An active imagination is great to have is all I can say, or at least it’s great when the fantasizing doesn’t result in my wanting to curl up in a ball and perma-meld with my pillow. Yay!
Me and McCy went to see Blade Runner: Final Cut last week when it was re-released nationally for the weekend. Knowing it was a highly-rated, ground-breaking film, years back I watched it on the small screen and was left feeling very underwhelmed; after watching it on the big screen I have changed my opinion – it’s still a film of suffering, endless grind and emotional distance, but there are small flickers of humanity that I hadn’t noticed before – maybe I just didn’t get it before.
As to the musings on the nature of being human-front, i’m not so sure that there’s much of a difference – it’s a wonderfully complex film to look at and contains shots of great beauty and design, but the emotional connection is still mostly absent. Maybe I need to watch it another five times.
Something that struck me as very strange – the love story between Deckard and Rachael, or more specifically the scene where they first get together. I found it quite uncomfortable when he orders her to say that she wants him and manhandles her around his apartment. I loves me some manhandling when I get the opportunity, but the scene didn’t sit right with me. How much is personal autonomy, how much is wanting to please, how much is replicant programming? Perhaps that was the point.
For the first time in, oh, I can’t even remember the last time, I took part in a pub quiz, or to be more specific McCy invited me to a charity quiz in a local bar. There was a good mixture of general knowledge, celebrity, film, literature and “guess the Tube stop” picture rounds and a variety of teams of different sizes, probably thirty or so people in total. Booze was consumed and a very good time was had – it was nice to revel in being nerdy and have my endless knowledge put to some (good?) use.
Naturally we had to come up with a suitably witty, knowing team name, so given the Blade Runner viewing, “Daryl Hannah’s Disembodied Finger” popped into my head and so we were thusly named. Haha.
Anyway, our team of two ended up trouncing the field by nearly fifteen motherfucking points. Oh yes. I couldn’t believe it when the results were announced – I thought we came fourth – as we were a small team up against groups of six and eight. A bottle of rum was won, which I have taken custody of, which will almost certainly live out its days untouched in a kitchen cupboard. Yeah!
I’ve a new book about a subject i’m actually interested in yet I can’t make much headway on it as i’m getting distracted so easily ugghhhh… I am merrily reading away and my concentration starts to wander, so I end up re-reading the same paragraph over-and-over, and nothing goes in.
Then, I start thinking about the essay I need to write for my course and how none of the kids are helping me with my research, how something i’m doing to help me escape work is being sabotaged by work, and how I miss romantic companionship – I concoct imaginary conversations with people that usually go something along the lines of:
“Seeing anyone? Hahahahahaha – You must be joking. Mankind doesn’t give one shit about me. The only expression of interest I get takes the form of some mild sexual assault whilst out clubbing”
then I start feeling sad and then get stuck in a loop exploring my thoughts and feelings instead of focusing on the text. And i’m interested in my topic.
Maybe this is one of the reasons why I like binge watching various TV series, as I can put my brain into neutral and be thoroughly absorbed with no room for dwelling?
Lying awake attempting to sleep but thoughts of work ridiculousness run around my brain, and my heart begins to race.
Thank Christ for the weekend. A week ending with shitty parents and children being accusatory and demanding – but not lifting a fucking finger themselves in terms of personal responsibility or doing actual work of course – and i’m very glad to have zero commitments this weekend, other than another fun ride on the bike to get my M&S San Fransisco-style sourdough fix: £1.90 of happiness that lasts an entire weekend. Yayyyyy!
After the parents’ evening last night (10/11 parents supportive and thankful for “all that you do for my daughter”) I didn’t sleep very well, despite turning in relatively early as I was emotionally wrung out. This morning in that weird limbo when the traffic outside my window is sporadic and the alarm is a couple of hours away I had an unsettling, unpleasant dream about an old person-of-interest getting married; I felt quite distressed and woke up feeling confused and sad. So the rest of Friday was a bit of a mixed bag.
Until the trailer for the new Star Wars popped up online, and then much happy geeking-out did occur – I welled up with excite and happy :) :) :)
Researching international posts and too deep a trawl through r/infp has resulted in bedtime sadness, of the sort where I lie awake feeling a bit small, wishing someone was curled up with me.
Coming from a family where emotional and physical displays of warmth were rare, I take enormous comfort and pleasure in the tactile (when I’ve access to it), and so when I’m feeling sad or tired I often find myself recalling times when my partner was affectionate towards me.
[hugs pillow tighter]
First job application of the academic year, completed in under four hours. Quelle shock! Admittedly it was more of a customising previous letters and CVs situation, but still, it usually takes me a fucking age to craft what I want to put across, and then question myself if what i’m writing is in any way what they’ll be looking for. Sigh. Anyway.
Jobs seem to have been particularly sparse so far this year which is worrying; teaching is seasonal, as most staff have to give half a terms notice, for example resigning by October 31st to start a new job in January. I wish I lived in the world of six weeks’ notice! Usually after the resignation points there are more positions as people move around, but this year the expected bump hasn’t happened in the state or independent sector.
The international school hiring season has commenced, and it’s that time of year where I apply for that school i’ve applied to twice already without success haha. Anyway, this time it’s just a plain old art teacher role, without the usual technology add-on, and i’ve gone to town selling myself on a shorter, more “look what I can offer YOU” focused covering letter. I’m not in possession of much hope, but I give every application my best is all I can say.
So a day after my birthday I actually feel happy, courtesy of new rainbow hair and a takeaway.
Apparently the hole in me can at least be partially filled.
Felt increasingly down as the day progressed today. Escaped work, booked car in for fixing as it’s rattling (FFS), opened cards and presents, called the family, thanked people via text, email and chat. Did washing. Listened to some hiphop and jazz. Pasty and pitta and wine for birthday tea. Had a small weep over a Hamsters eating tiny Thanksgiving video.
Can’t quite work out why I feel fed up – a proper gathering is going to happen in a few weeks, so it’s not like the date will pass unnoticed, and i’m really looking forward to seeing so many friends.
I’m all right most of the time, alone and not lonely, but there are not infrequent occasions where I feel like there’s a hole in me that seems to be very hard to fill.
Maybe i’m just tired. Which I am, but. Probably need to be a bit kinder to myself.
Anyway, haircut and blue and pink hair slices tomorrow wooooooo! And nearer to the weekend hurrah!
It took multiple days to do it, but I finally managed to install my new mudguards without too much grief, in the process saving myself a £10 installation fee and giving myself a sense of achievement. Hurrah!
It took multiple days, in that I had to trim the stays for the guards with a hacksaw so they got anywhere near the attachment points on my bike frame, and so I brought them into work to use the vices we have in the department.
I have a slightly unusual bike in that it folds but is mountain bike size – it’s a Tern Joe D24 – and so finding guards that fit its weird geometry and don’t get in the way has been a process of trial and error – the clip on set I bought did not work at all.
They don’t seem to interfere with my bike fold and look pretty good in their shiny blackness. If anyone else needs the info, I ordered the following from Wiggle:
MTB Mudguard Set Black
26×1.0-1.5 – Trekkin
Once the stays were trimmed it took me a couple of hours to install and adjust the fuckers so they didn’t rub against the tyres – this is the part that took the longest ugggh. I will admit I need to get a cable tie to attach the rear to the bottom of the seat stay bit, as for the life of me I can’t manage to get the required bolt through – it’s such a fiddly job. Other than that – success. Or at least it looks that way in the kitchen… test ride comes tomorrow whoop.
Hmmm… I think I need to give my bike a name – something more personal than Joe. I seem to bestow feminine names on plants and masculine names on mechanical objects; Monty is what pops into my head but I probably need to sleep on it.
The weekend brings a most welcome trip to Bath and a visit with M; i’m greatly looking forward to whiling away many an hour talking about the same old shit we happily witter on about.
Sign of a great friend: you can always pick up the conversation where you left off, no matter how long it’s been.
Bike update: I have discovered hills. And I do not like them. ALSO: The mudguards didn’t fit, so I ordered fancier ones (hooray for payday) but they seem to be adrift in the post, or at work, as they haven’t appeared in the office yet. Hmmph. Anyway, if it isn’t too wet I hope to go for another spin on my lovely grey chariot woooooo.
Other than that, trying to be a snug bug as economically as possible.
Why is human hibernation not a thing?
Image: Work stuff I was doing – Kids are looking at microscopic worlds, so I got them to draw cells on themselves with eyeliner. As I do.
Off to Cowfield’s for an afternoon of being Not Me; my bag is full of stuff that in a different context would be perfect for a dirty weekend – wig, stripper shoes, constrictive underwear, makeup bag stuffed to the seams… It’s quite the surreal experience, and I’ve not even got there yet.
I’m looking forward to it, including the discomfort stemming from going orange and having my photo repeatedly taken. Good times!
Collected my bike and managed to ride it home without
A. Falling off (there were some moments however)
B. Getting knocked off.
I was slow and wobbly and found it hard to stay upright when bumping off curbs (there were some I didn’t even try, choosing to stop and manhandle the bike) as well as when slowing down. Gears… oh gears are weird. I need to work on those too haha. I went quite a way, hilariously quickly compared to walking (this was genuinely amazing to me), and I really enjoyed my ride home. No mudguards or lock yet as I am budgeting and storing the bike in the flat, but at least I have lights and a helmet.
I went through town and meandered around the university after dark on a mixture of roads and pavements; quite a lot of the ride was accompanied by a goofy grin of enjoyment, with the occasional laugh at myself as I wobbled to a stop or nearly lost my balance. Oh dear. Simple pleasures and all that.
“A VIEW of the FIRE-WORKES and ILLUMINATIONS at his GRACE the Duke of RICHMOND’S at WHITEHALL and on the River Thames on Monday 15 May 1749.” Wikipedia
Gosh darn you (i’m guessing) ovaries… You’re making my back and innards very sore with your micro-explosioning. A backrub would be appreciated, so it’s Hot Water Bottle City instead. Bizarre how something so small can have such an effect.
Wikipedia – Mittelschmerz
So. The bike I was all excited about? Didn’t exist apparently, despite me ordering and paying for it.
So that got cancelled, but I watched the website and ended up ordering a larger folding bike the next day (full-size hybrid), when I noticed what I think must have been a fuckup by the seller, as they don’t entirely seem to know what they’re doing with their online presence.
Got the dude on the phone to knock the price down fifty quid by pointing out the contradicting prices on the page wooop. Mind you, if I actually get a bike I paid for this time it will be a novelty.
Despite the bird lice and the twelve days without hot water without compensation, my landlords have seen fit to let me know they want to raise my rent by nearly ten percent if I renew my contract in December; so far I have negotiated down to seven and a two-year freeze, but i’m pissed off that they’ve heard from someone that they could get more and are trying to take the piss, because if I don’t pay for such a hike, then I can leave and some other fool will.
The fact that a bigger, furnished one-bed flat in the same building recently went for the same amount that they want to try and rent my much smaller, unfurnished studio for, seems not to matter, as they live in the world where they can charge whatever the fuck they want. Fuck this fucking bullshit.
What else. Oh, finally felt some sort of motivation with regards going through my photos of the holiday at this point I feel I never went on. I have around three-hundred of Arches NP alone, so I figure i’m not doing too badly in having edited Pagosa Springs, Durango, Boulder, Denver, Mounts Evans and Princeton and Rocky Mountain NP. Just Arches, Fruita, Colorado National Monument, Mesa Verde and Indian Peaks to go. Woot.
Having to do my review for my performance management is not helping how I feel about my job, as I think back to the lack of progress, or even backwards progress I “achieved” over the past year. Above all, it reinforces how much I want to leave. I’ve never felt so fed up, so early in the school year. Bodes well.
And, whoop-di-fuckin’-doo, it’s just about that time of year where I am unhappily reminded just how little mankind gives a shit about me in romantic terms. At least, I suppose, I managed to achieve my seemingly mandatory two shitty first dates a year. Oh yes, I am a WINNER.
Is there any area of my life I find enjoyment? Well, there’s my ceramics class I guess. So that would be two hours out of 168 each week. Yay?
OH YOU CAN JUST BITE ME WORLD. GO ON. ALSO. GO FUCK YOURSELF.
What else. Ordered a bike. Have a helmet. Will hopefully be able to pick it up in a week or so. Will need to ride it around the park to improve my balance, as when I last cycled (Boulder over the Summer – for the first time in around fifteen years) I was distinctly wobbly.
It’s quarter past midnight on a Monday morning. Is this week over yet??
Image taken from:
Committee to Project Journalists – Journalist beheadings in Syria reignite debate over risk and safety for freelancers – “Once you are kidnapped in Syria it’s a completely black hole you’re never going to come out of,”
Guardian – Freelances like James Foley are all we have to face the horror – “With major news organisations in financial retreat, dangerous international reporting is being left to the young and unprotected”
Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues – “We train and equip freelance journalists in all media to treat life-threatening injuries on the battlefield. Freelancers comprise the vast majority of those who cover wars, and consequently make up the vast majority of deaths and injuries…” “It is our hope to make first aid training the industry norm – like having a flak jacket or sat phone – and to prevent unnecessary deaths in a job that is so vital to human dignity and human rights.”
Frontline Club – “…exists to promote freedom of expression and support journalists, cameramen and photographers who risk their lives in the course of their work.”
John Cantlie / Getty Images from NBC – Patrols in Afghanistan proceed as pullout begins
“After 1st Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines make a routine patrol in the upper Gereshk Valley, a Marine’s helmet has a picture of his daughter, Angelina, inside on June 26 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.”
So, I could be living through the last couple of days of the Union. If Scotland decides to separate, i’ll be shocked, and how things will go in the future I am very unsure; Salmond has been very unconvincing in his appeals – the naked nationalism makes me feel quite uncomfortable – and if Gordon Brown is making a good argument, you know you’re in trouble.
I’m a Scot who can’t vote as I don’t live there, and I also get no say as a member of the United Kingdom of which Scotland is a member. This pisses me off – the land of my birth wants to fuck off and I get no say in it? WTF.
Personally, I don’t think “they” should vote Yes, as much as I understand the sentiment; I think that much of the reasoning to leave rests upon the idea that Westminster/the English/The Fucking Tories are to blame for all Scotland’s ills, and that to leave is therefore reactionary – leaving rather than trying to stay and make a difference, or looking at it the other way, jumping rather than deciding to be proactive to make a more just society.
A bit of research I heard about on Radio 4 said that although Scots see themselves as more left-leaning and more interested in social justice, they are in fact very similarly aligned with the rest of the UK in their beliefs. Devo Max i’d vote for, but I see the independence vote as a symptom of a greater problem, that of the political system being broken.
We vote them in, we get the politicians we deserve. Which is a tiiiiny bit of a downer.
I’m not convinced independence is the answer.
But I will apply for a passport if they’re offered.
Totes Meer (Dead Sea)
Very enjoyable Friday evening with McCy in Lahndahn tahn for Cowfields open studios at the Bermondsey Project. SO awesome to wander about an entire building filled with artists – three floors’ worth – 160 or thereabouts. I love looking at how people organise their spaces, what stuff they use, so, aside from seeing some great work, it was very satisfying to wander about being nosy and chat with artists in their studios.
I wish I had a space nearby where I could do art proper. It’s a very common problem where I live – no where that’s appropriate or affordable; I have The Art Table which is usually covered in ceramics junk, but it would be lovely to be able to make work that was larger in scale, where I didn’t have to worry about making a mess.
Anyway, got pretty drunk on plastic tumblers full of the cheapest red wine I could find in the local shop (actually tasty) as I had a chocolate bar for dinner prior to heading out. Balanced! Ended the night at around 4.30am after an evening of burritos, more wine, aciiiiiid techno, kittens, and drug taking avoidance. I’ll stick with what I know is pure thanks – alcohol it is then. I am square in some odd ways.
Today – Get home from work early as I try to make the most of the light workload (before it hits next week), still no enrolment stuff for my course (it’s been three fucking weeks now) which means I can’t access the library to read the articles I need to for my upcoming project. WTF.
Decide to cook a giant batch of pasta sauce to freeze later (thanks Leia Ewok Village for the cost-cutting reminder), eat dinner to Doctor Who (FINALLY a Doctor I actually like – Ecclestone was the last), watch a bit of the wonderful Andrew Graham-Dixon on War Art – Paul Nash – accompanied by a mug of hot chocolate (I seem to be having a thing for it of late) before admitting defeat at around eight motherfucking thirty.
Sort of pass out in front of Graham-Dixon, come to, pack my shit up head into bed. EXHAUSTED.
Can I get to sleep? NO. Of course not.
Yeah, I know, still not posted any photos or description of my experiences in Colorado. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, give me a break.
Finished my last day on my course for the mo, got the car fixed (it finally passed its MOT hurrah!) returned to work, did some yoga (more on that later sometime this decade), had a recycling blitz and actually tidied.
I met with Flambé for coffee, DIY foiled my washed-out hair blue and pink, binge-watched The West Wing and The Knick (this is recommended – I like that it makes you follow closely and doesn’t telegraph plot) and drove 45mins to pick up a little Chromebook – I thought I could do with something cheap-ish that’s actually portable and reliable for my course (as opposed to my laptop that randomly switches off all the goddamned time and doesn’t work if it’s not plugged in). The Chromebook is grand, although i’ve just this minute noticed that its got a slight screen flicker. Oh.
Super concise summary of my time Stateside: A holiday of two unequal halves. Some wonderful experiences combined with stressful ones, a smattering of deep sadness and a lot of time spent sat alone in my room at my Aunts. So fabulous, and reeeaally notsomuch. Yay?
awake at half midnight when I was exhausted at half nine?
Ugh. First day on the course was decidedly unsatisfying. Felt forced into doing tasks that I did not feel were particularly relevant to me, LOTS of art bullshitting that was laughable. Didn’t come away feeling energised in any way. Voice wavering on the phone to the parentals.
On the positive side, I came up with lots of ideas to explore further from exploring the collections and from talking to my coursemates, who seem to be a friendly, sensible bunch. I’m not the only one that is having difficulty with what we’re doing, so that’s some small comfort.
Every doubt I have all I can think of is the cost of the course, the cost per hour of teaching… :/
I’m exhausted and fed up. Bed.
Off to the first day of my new course, a return to formal learning for the first time since 2006, what seems like half a lifetime – and a different me – ago.
Jetlag is still taking the piss despite my efforts, so off I go with two hours sleep under my belt. Going to be on top intellectual form today monky aren’t you :o
…considerably poorer but much richer in experience, and with a new perspective on a few things. New neighbours downstairs (Oh God) but pleasingly all my plants survived hurrah!
Soooo… Ten hours after I was due to depart, I’ve not actually left the UK yet.
A problem with the hydraulics/fuel pump meant that the crew apparently used up the time they are allotted in terms of legality whilst we sat on the tarmac for two-and-a-half hours. So, the flight was cancelled, and the whole fucking plane was bussed to a nearby hotel.
Now I’m sat in what is supposed to be a four star hotel, that has a gurgling aircon unit that has made a wet patch on the floor as it drips from the ceiling. That I trod in. At least it’s free and it’s got free wifi…
Instead of spending the night in Boulder, before, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed going to collect the hire car the following morning, I now need to land, then bus directly to the rental place before driving for five hours after a thirteen hour flight.
In a metal tuuuube.
Apparently there is a problem with the fuel pump on the plane (!), so I’m glad that my stopover in Washington is four hours, as we still haven’t left Heathrow. Been sat on the tarmac for over two hours :/
… I have to be up in two hours :/
I’ve been passing my holiday time by amongst other things binge-watching The West Wing; I do love the non-dumbing down that the series is so keen upon. I’m on series four at the mo, and have watched so many episodes that this morning I had a very explicit sex dream involving myself and Martin Sheen.
Lets just say that we both enjoyed ourselves – this was no Lewinsky-esque one-way deal haha.
Oh God. A WordPress plugin went bad and took out the entirety of nopoke as the system keeled over under the processes that would not die. Flailed around for a few hours backing up, deleting and restoring before admitting defeat and emailing support. All sorted within fifteen minutes. I love United Hosting!
Around a week until I head Stateside; it doesn’t seem entirely believable at the mo, or at least there are other things that are taking priority, for example shelling out to get the car fixed – it failed its MOT :( – and getting my hair cut AND HAVING RAINBOW SLICES PUT IN. Yes.
My usual hairdresser left where I used to go, so i’m going somewhere only five minutes down the road – lazy bonus – which is a tiny independent salon – supporting local business bonus. Also, big discount for my first visit to the place :D
We’ll see how things go; what i’m more concerned about is getting the cut right; much as I am EXCITE about my first professional dye job – i’m hoping for raspberry pink, green and blue – i’m slightly concerned that it could end up a case of too cheap to be good. Hairdresser was great during my pre-dye consultation and seemed to have a good grasp of what I want so i’m hopeful things will go well!
Hmm other than that i’ve not done much trip prep yet. I’ve made a lot of progress on strewing stuff about the flat (just for a change, like) but until other things are sorted I feel like I can’t really start to get excited.
I’m spending just shy of three weeks in the US, with a week of road tripping followed by two weeks staying with Favourite Aunt and my cousins in Boulder, where i’ll hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, visit Denver and My Beloved Texan and generally potter about. The road trip is almost completely planned out, but I have one more day to work out where the hell I want to go and where I will stay.
So far I am suuuuuper excited to be staying at a spa resort with vast hot springs, Air BnB-ing at a family home in a gold rush town, visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site, staying in a TIPI on the edge of the Utah desert (!), visiting multiple National Parks – including one i’ve always wanted to visit – or at least since I saw it in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade :D – and staying in what is pretty much a shed in the middle of the desert before moving through the ski resorts to a fancy hostel where they serve cider and have a hot tub on the deck. Fabulousness.
Living in a smaller than i’d like flat, no partner or kids, not bothering to save for a house or a better car, never going away anywhere other than during the Summer break = Having money to spend on one big holiday. Woo!
Even when not out doing much, sitting on my Aunt’s sun deck out back is lovely enough… there’s a creek that runs through the back garden and deer and hummingbirds aplenty. Hummingbirds… man how I fucking love them! It boggles my mind to know that some of them migrate to-and-from Mexico – such tiny, energy hungry creatures. Nature is awesome.
The neighbourhood where my Aunt’s house is is pretty nice too – a lovely supermarket (that sells excellent ice cream), hiking trails and open space all within five minutes walk. Something i’m really looking forward to? American salads. Yes, I know, in the land of chronic obesity. I can’t really explain it… They just do them really well, with a broader variety of leaves and protein than you get in the UK, and way more affordable.
Yes, of course, something that i’ll be thinking about as I travail about: Petrichor. I miss him. Looking back on the week we spent glued together i’d say it was the best, happiest week i’ve ever spent with a person of interest. He’s the best i’ve found in nearly fifteen years of looking. Sigh.
Aside from this, DESERTS!