Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Taking Stock

So a new semester is about to launch itself onto the unsuspecting freshers and I have been laid low with the usual bout of freshers flu.
I have touched base with my Supervisor this week and we have decided on a course of action that if it is approved should prevent me imploding on myself and leaving a nasty body fluid stain on the library books that currently surround me help alleviate some of the desire to run rampage naked throughthe town centre yelling I AM NOT JUST A PHD STUDENT I AM ALSO A HUMAN BEING pressure that has been building over the previous months.

I think it is time for a bit of a shake up and a new approach - so plans are in development.
But for the time being all the balls are up in the air as I do all the necessary paperwork and gubbins that accompany a new year as a researcher.

Because of the flu I haven't really done much the last few days so this is more of a case of saying 'I am still alive' and ' normal service should be resumes soon'!

Thanks for recent comments - I love signing in and seeing some feedback!

I got the tickets in the post for the holiday in TWO WEEKS TODAY! I can't wait - this knackered old body of mine is in dire need of some sunshine!

Off for another dose of paracetamol and a hot toddy! No licking the screen - I just sneezed on it!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Paying it Forward

I like this because the image is from around 1910! 
... I was going to talk about marriage today, as a modern institution that is outdated and perhaps unnecessary. The reason being I may have been banging my gums repeatedly mentioned in the passing, several hundred times once or twice that I am pulling my hair out with  all the crap having a few problems with 'the ex' ... but it's just too depressing  complicated and needs a lot more brain power than I can muster. Also I have several reason why I do not think , at this time, it is a good idea to air my opinion about something that is clearly affecting my life just now:
A. I think it is unseemly to air one's personal dirty laundry publicly,
B. He is on my Facebook and may see it! and
C. I do get his point of view,BUT HE IS WRONG!!!!  I just disagree with it.

I am also not a fan of the one sided argument which blogs, forums and other internet outlets tend to support. Let's face it we all know there are three sides to every argument - his, hers and the truth!

So about marriage let's just say - I am not its biggest fan! I am not an entirely paid up member of the 'let's get divorced club' either ... I am more on the side of let's get rid of these archaic and unworkable institutions all together and stop shitting ourselves that they actually function! Now I have a LOT of thoughts on the pros and cons of marriage and maybe one day I will pluck up the courage to form them into a coherent few paragraphs, but right now I have a feeling it would degenerate into a rant ... which would be sooooo satisfying is never pretty!

Instead I thought would waffle on about the idea of 'pay it forward' because after a very odd and shitty week, a woman and a friend, who I know only virtually, has done something rather sweet and unexpected to cheer me up. When I asked what I could do in return her reply was, 'just pay it forward'. I am not even entirely sure she even knows the week I have had, which makes it even more spontaneous and unexpected.

If you've seen the film starring that boy who sees dead people you will be fully aware of what pay it forward means; basically if someone does you a good turn you do something good for someone else ... and so on and so forth. I like the theory but never experienced it in practice and I have to tell you it fair perked me up! I can't even tell you what it is she is offering because, well, it's a little shady and involves copy dvds! Shhhhhhhh

The lovely thing is I already know a man who I can pay this particular good deed forward to! I have a feeling there may be a few other folk who want to get their mitts on it as well - so form a queue!

So I think I shall declare today send the Pimpernel loads of pressies as pressies cheer her up exponentially day   
Pay It Forward Friday !
A positive note on which to end the week! As Fresher's looms I shall need all the positivity I can get.

As a consequence of this friends thoughtfulness, I have been musing about how many folk I have 'met' through the internet and how rarely I am disappointed when I actually meet them. I have many actual good real life friends now, which is largely down to online forums and facebook etc ... how life has changed. Years ago as a divorced single parent staying at home I would have had little or no opportunity to get out and about and meet new folks (especially after I moved here from England). But by the glory of the internet I have a whole virtual family who in times of need never fails to rally! I consider myself blessed. It never fails to amaze me what a virtual friend will do for you when the chips are down! Or how quickly you can get the feeling you really 'know' them!

So for those of you scared to commit and sitting on life's sidelines - get online and put yourself out there! There are some good people to get to know! And I reckon I am one of them! ;) ... Usual disclaimer about online safety applies - sometimes people may not be what they seem. He may look good in his picture but in reality, well ... let's just say it might not be quite what you were expecting! Also if he mentions the word 'swing' and 'fascism' in the same sentence I'd advise caution!

So to conclude and before I start making a dent in the weekend's supply of alcoholic beverages  in the words of Edward Everett Hale :

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”

If you do anything today make it a kind something, and look for nothing in return.

Have a good weekend folks!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Biting the Bullet

Bite Me!
So after some prevarication and a lot of procrastination I bit the bullet and emailed the supervisor.

I was honest - not a dissembling sentence in sight. I explained it had been a disruptive summer (what with dealing with my son's exam results and complicated 6th form career path) and that even though I had edited the bulk of my chapter the final portion was giving me some grief, to the point where I had hit a brick wall made up of thousands of tiny little writer's blocks! As a way of negotiating this hurdle I had returned to the books to continue researching in the hope that I would stumble across a huge sledge hammer with which to dismantle said wall.

I also explained that having discovered Bourdieu's theory of 'symbolic violence' I was intent on unravelling its complexities and making it workable with my own ideas about rhetorical violence aka vorticity. I think I made myself sound almost intelligent! Almost!

Then taking a huge gulping deep breath I decided to put forward the possibility that I maybe should take this semester off. I will be entering my 9th consecutive year of study since I began this roller coaster. I am more than a little exhausted and my brain feels wrung out. It's no good, getting older is not making it any easier! Sometimes I sit and literally scrabble around my head to remember what a word means, or to find the right word for a sentence. I am sure this never used to happen. Plus my memory is shocking and entirely of the short term gold fish variety which is not an advantage when you have to write up something over 3-4 years! Taking a break is a scary step - there is always the big risk you won't ever go back to it and I am determined to finish it. Not finishing this does not register with my brain! But then again not a lot does register with my brain just now!

I hit send before I could retract it. I did phrase it as a tentative enquiry, as in 'if one were to consider this how would one go about it' sort of thing.

So I sat for a wee while - then ping a reply! With bated breath I opened the email ( I may be making that sound slightly more tense than it actually was!). It had been rather quick so I wasn't expecting too much. Which was just as well as it was an out of office automated reply.

So in a way I have been offered a reprieve for the weekend! Sort of?

Today has been an exhausting day emotionally. I had to go to the bank and sort out paying for the holiday and closing off some savings that were offering practically no interest (damn recession). All was going well as I bought some snazzy new sun specs and was feeling brighter about life - when I got an email from my ex! Well, let's not go into the gory details here but let's just say it reminded me of why he was my ex! ;)

Off now to enjoy watching my daughter horse riding lesson. Hi ho and Awaaaaa-aaaaaaay!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Expanding Knowledge: The Matt Might Method

Forgive me - today I neither have the time nor the energy to write my usual bullshit an 'original' blog entry that reveals for your delectation my incredible impression of a headless chicken or a fart in a space suit wit, sense of style and unique erudition. You see I am very busy affecting a disguise with which to beguile my supervisor when I eventually pluck up the courage to email her!  So here, in place of the usual pearls before swine (I *think* I may just have just called anyone reading a swine?)  is a bit of humour that is circulating round my school of Ph.D peers just now!  You may have seen it, you may not appreciate it, but today's it's all you getting! 

A Ph.D in Pictures 

Enjoy! Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

In Hiding!

I am truly living up to my name and avoiding the inevitable - which is a reply to an email from my supervisor asking me what I have been up to and how I am progressing.

The problem is I cannot quite find the appropriate language to convey the sentiment that I have basically done fuck all. I am not sure she will be entirely sympathetic, even though I have Charlie Brooker on the defence team - in fact I am thinking of making him lead council for the case of Supervisor versus the Procrastinating Pimpernel!

Now please don't misunderstand me, like Mr Brooker  I spend hours of the day 'researching' typing reading etc., etc., blah, blah, blah, - the problem is not with input but output! The distractions on offer are innumerable and delicious! Between my addiction to Blip , other bloggers and facebook, there are the delights of browsing the internet for resources. I have thousands of them at my fingertips - but once found they are bookmarked and promptly forgotten!

Tomorrow's resolution - to fucking well get on with it! And then perhaps, maybe, eventually I shall pluck up the courage to reply to my supervisor and .... well tell her the truth tell her that things are once more in motion and just hope that my nose doesn't grow!

Just in case you were wondering - I am not old, male and grey haired - neither am clad in a bikini and a party hat, nor a dinosaur! ;)

VW by Roger Fry
Alert for Woolf Scholars Woolf Seminar, a new website which generously shares the insights of Dr Kay. Well worth a browse when one is otherwise free from internet distractions like Frontierville! I particularly liked the section which listed her favourite Woolf quotes. Plenty there to see and enjoy for any of you who can't resist a Bloomsbury adventure when one presents itself.

Friday, 10 September 2010

You spin me right round baby, right round!

... So it appears there is a rather good reason as to why I have been feeling out of sorts. I have - it's a gobful so be warned - benign paroxysmal positional vertigo!!! Oh yes! None of your run o'the mill dizzy spells for me ... I get BPPV! It should be easy enough to get rid of, as I have to do some exercises! These exercises involve lying on the bed on one side then the other ... that I can do! What I do find difficult though is lying on one of those medical couches and being asked to 'flip over' onto my other side ... that could not have looked pretty from behind!

So I haven't been terribly productive as regards my Ph.D. I spent sometime discovering the world of Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher who has developed a theory of symbolic violence which will hopefully provide a sufficiently sturdy framework from which to hang my thesis.

Symbolic violence in a nutshell is linguistic violence, language that in some way uses cultural norms or idioms to oppress and dominate. This is a perfect theory to expand several of my key ideas regarding the militaristic rhetoric of suffrage literature and the rhetorical violence exhibited by Vorticists and West. I've read a few snatches of the books I bought and so far he hasn't resorted to dense incomprehensible twaddle that many philosophers think is the bedrock of philosophical thought. Thank F8ck for Amazon!  Even though I am a little rusty on my Saussure and Chomsky, I still vaguely remember the basics which should help me out negotiating these new ideas. Ironically I discovered Bourdieu (you have to read this with an atrociously bad nasal French accent - it's the only way I can seem to say it - read it even!) reading a book that doesn't really relate to what I am writing about - but her introduction has given me so many pointers for my own work. It was only released in June, and surprisingly it was in the library (which is just as well as it is £48 on Amazon!) so that was a lucky find! Maybe this little piece of the jigsaw will help! It's like finding all the edge pieces and making the frame - the middle bit seems to naturally follow.

From The Literary Gift Company.
I had a despairing email from a colleague of mine, who has declared the state of his writer's block has reached unprecedented levels and for some reason this proved reassuring! So I am not alone  - the cosmos is not conspiring against me!

Thanks for the comments of support. The words of 'virtual' friends can be deeply reassuring when you are sat staring at a blank screen and a blinking cursor wondering where the hell your next sentence is going to come from! 

have a good weekend and hope to see you all bright and early on Monday! 

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


St Andrews Sept 6th 2010 .
It has rained and rained and rained ... then it rained some more. It lashed it down, hesitated for a nanosecond and then lashed it down some more. I was scared to venture out, as everyone knows I may well melt in the rain! (spot the intertextual TWOO reference there ... these may crop up from time to time because as I get older I look to my childhood reading for assurance) 

But the sound of it was lovely ... there is nothing to compare to the sound of pounding rain on a window, when you are tucked up cosy indoors. Or the guttural spluttering as a drain overflows and the excess water splashes jubilantly down the gutter.  It threatened to thunder and lightening just now and then it petered out ... disappointingly. There is nothing like a good storm to clear the air and make you feel newer, fresher.

There is only one sound I love more than the deluge of rain and that is the crashing of a turbulent sea - and St Andrews Bay was just that yesterday. I popped down to take some pics when I finished at Uni and the wind near stole my breathe away, and whipped my hair round my face. It was invigorating to stand out on the outcrop of rocks and take pictures of the spray.The act of being there did me the power of good. I could taste the salt spray on my fingers, and the rich metallic tang of the sea was all around in the air.

I do feel more positive today. I do feel more like 'me'... feisty, belligerent and up to the job! Maybe writing it all out here is like therapy - with the Internet as the therapist?  It was touching to know a few people had taken the time to read the drivel and get to the end of it and still have enough energy to comment!

I took the time yesterday to visit the library and before I could swither (Scots word for change my mind) I handed in my forms for my returning student and my web page ... only trouble is my portrait is rubbish and I don't really have a decent one to submit! I look like a shell shocked consumptive in the school one!

My desk - the pile of papers in the centre are my drafts of this section!
So all that remains now is for me to plough through the papers on my desk and get writing... Oh Joy!
Early to bed me thinks... and long may the rain continue to keep me indoors and at my keyboard!

Update - I have been inaugurated into British Mummy Bloggers ... all that awaits me now is my first secret mission - which is to find out what the hell I am supposed to do with it now I have joined! I've also joined Judith's Room - ditto! No idea why ... just seemed the thing to do!

Me - playing Shadow puppets on a Slow Research Day!

**TWOO is The Wizard of Oz. I sometimes feel, as a parent, I am cast as the much maligned and misunderstood WWotW! ;)**

Monday, 6 September 2010

Self - Esteem or lack there of.

**Self-indulgent whinge and pit of sorrow alert**

Instructions for reading this blog are as follows:
1. Fetch sick bucket
2. Don big boots for the arse kicking that may be required
3. Acquire a wet kipper, effective for cheek slapping when you are done reading
4. Adopt a sympathetic counsellor's sideways head tilt and non-commital facial expression - self pitying rants always look better from this angle!

I am having doubts. Bit fat hairy insidious creeping doubts that tell me I can't do this. I can't write, think or even read adequately enough to complete a Ph.D. I mean who do I think I am?

These doubts manifest themselves as an overwhelming panicky sensation- you know the sort of feeling you get when you dream you are in front of your entire old school naked and there they are, jeering at you. You feel all sweaty and flushed and your hands are a blur trying to cover bits that should never legitimately be out on public display. And all the time you think 'this is never going to end is it' ... and then with a bit of luck, before your sense of failure and shame can reach its nadir, you wake up flooded with relief.

Well what do you do with that feeling when you are awake, and it is a reality that makes you feel so exposed, so vulnerable, so flawed? What 'wakes you up' so to speak? What stops you spiralling uncontrollably down into a pit of despair?

Half of the problem is I am one of those women who was married to one of those men! You know the sort, on the surface and to all the external world they are Dr Jekyll, decent, law abiding, a good provider, a considerate and patient father, quite good looking, to all intents and purposes he would be considered ' a catch'. But behind closed doors they are Mr Hyde treating you like an imbecile, making you feel inadequate as  a mother, a wife, a women and sometimes even as a person. You know that sort of man. The sort who, after you've taken an hour to get ready for a night out, looks you up and down and says, 'Are you wearing that?' in a slightly contemptuous tone? Who walks in from work and hoovers before taking their coat off because they way you have done it doesn't come up to scratch! Or looks at you like you disdainfully when you suggest having a joint bank account because he thinks you just want to spend all his money?
It leaves its mark.
 I am sad to say after years of marriage (and even after years of being divorced) that sense of never being quite good enough has stayed with me. I don't hold my ex responsible for the way I am now, but he didn't help.

 Low self esteem is like a worm, that eats its way from the inside out. Slowly devouring all of your securities and assurances and shitting them out as insecurities and doubts. A bad marriage is fodder for the worm. But even once you rid yourself of the bad marriage, you still have a fat well fed arthropod to deal with. You can try starving it out, but it takes a long time before it shrivels sufficiently to disappear, if it ever does.
Even though  I found a man who adores me and makes me feel as though I am capable of conquering the world (I think he just fantasises about thigh high leather boots and being dominated!) I still carry this sense that I just don't cut it.

In fact I am getting worse. Despite having a reasonably successful career (so far) as a scholar I still feel as though one day soon, someone is going to whip back the curtain, a la the Wizard of Oz, and find out I am a sham, a fraud. The proud and glittering edifice will crumble leaving me exposed, naked and once more at the mercy of those jeering taunts.

I read prolifically in order to get the ideas to write, and every time I open the covers of yet another scholarly tome I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into my pit of self-doubt. How do they find the words to express themselves so clearly, so succinctly, so perfectly??? Where does this inspiration come from, and why, in comparison, does my prose squelch like a stale cow-pat under a sandal?

Now this swirling vortex of emotion has been triggered by the simple task of filling in my forms to return to University this October. Two little forms saying 'yes I am signing up' and 'yes I am doing my Ph.D' - it has set me off! Friends of mine, who have been through this journey with me, will read it and nod, thinking 'Uh-huh, it's that time of year again - here she goes'. Normally I am quite self- confident, out-going and assured. I genuinely believe I am more than capable of tackling most things that life throws at me and have done so in the past - so why does this happen every year??

Answers on a postcard please.

In two days time this post will embarrass me. I will sit and re-read it and wonder what the fuck possessed me to put myself out there, to basically strip off my own outer clothing/shell and sit naked and vulnerable in front of the eternal gaze of the interweb ... I may even delete it (unlikely as I hate deleting anything) so for blackmailing purposes I suggest you c&p it now whilst you still can! 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Blair Witch-Hunt Project ...

... is about to get a little more interesting as Tony Blair's memoir hits the bookstands today!


Reading the Guardian earlier (yes it's official I am middle class/aged/brow) I actually found myself thinking that it would make a great read.  I am not a fan of political memoirs normally, because despite being vaguely interested in politics as they pertain to me, I find politicians quite narcissistic and self serving and their memoirs usual revolve around scoring some petty argument of about which no one really cares!

However I respected Blair as a prime minister (and I think the history books will show his premiership as some of the best years this country saw this century) and unusually I would quite like to hear his point of view.

Since he left office three years ago there has been no end to the carping about his private successes, his accumulating wealth, his position as a global force in negotiating an interfaith 'truce' in the Middle East. He rarely gets a fair deal from the press - what do they expect him to do - put on his carpet slippers, throw away his political experience and stay home and play with the baby?  The recent furore over his £4 million book advance is a case in point. Before he made the statement about what his intentions were (FOR HIS OWN MONEY!) the press were harping on about his greedy money grabbing ways. Now he has announced he is to donate ALL OF It to an armed forces charity they are bleating about him showcasing his philanthropy!! Surely even if you loathe the man and everything he stands for this one incident shows he will never get a fair deal from the media!

I don't normally 'talk politics' but for some reason the launch of this memoir has stimulated my political juices!

Mind you having read all the reviews and watched the Andrew Marr interview I am now feeling there isn't an awful lot left to read ...
The cartoon on the left amused me ... mainly because I am critiquing these sort of images for my thesis - so I just thought given my rantette about the Blair witch hunt project it would add a little light relief and some humour!

On the Ph.D front - little was achieved today as I was otherwise engaged!!! Now the students are beginning to return in their droves to Dundee I was faced with the unenviable task of reuniting my young cousin with his belongings (stored for the summer in the garage) ... as it turns out one car load was sufficient!