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Once again, My open letter to the public from a Firefighter.

Bit different from what I normally post but as our firefighters go on strike tomorrow please read and share this.

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Books I've Read...

Book Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

I chose this book because it was number one on Amazon when I decided I needed something to get me through the journey down to London to visit my boyfriend a few weeks ago. That and it was still only £1.80 which seemed like a bargain to me.

Because I know that e-books are kind of a sucky deal for the author/publisher I sometimes feel a bit bad for buying ones that cost an infinitesimal amount, saying that I’m also quite poor and trying to save up to move out and be a grown up so £1.80 seemed like a good compromise.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Cover from Amazon

I’m just going to mention here that there’s a significant aspect to this story which isn’t revealed until someway into the book. If you’ve managed to avoid finding out what that twist is and don’t want to know then maybe go and read the first 100 pages then come back here because I honestly don’t think it’s possible to review this book without giving it away.

 

Protagonist Rosemary’s parents are psychologists who embark on an experiment on their children and a baby chimp by attempting to bring them up alongside each other, treating the Chimp, named Fern, in much the same way they treat their daughter of the same age. At one point towards the beginning of the novel Rosemary’s father tells her to tell a story by starting from the middle and this dictates the way Rosemary tells this story – the plot roams back and forth between the past, the further past and it is only towards the end we get to learn what the present situation is.

 

What strikes me most about this novel is the emphasis on the fragility of memory and the untrustworthyness of stories. Rosemary has clear memories of the time growing up with her ‘twin’ sister, chimp Fern, and the point when she disappeared from her life. Of course if we choose to look back at our own memories of being a five year old (the age when Fern was removed from the family), we would undoubtedly question the reliability of our memories so why should we trust Rosemary’s? Something which she later acknowledges, often retelling stories once she can reflect on the developments which have come from new information provided by the older members of her family.

 

The reader does not learn of Fern’s true identity until well into the novel (page 77). Rosemary explains that this is because she “wanted [us] to see how it really was”, in Rosemary’s mind Fern was simply her sister and she wishes the reader to understand that before acknowledging the essential lack of blood relation between the two of them. She accuses the reader, probably rightly, that “already, you aren’t thinking of her as my sister”. Fern was not a member of the family the way most readers can relate to being deeply fond of their childhood pet, Fern was as much a sister and daughter as Rosemary was and this is the standpoint that the reader must come from if they are to understand the immense and repetitive heartbreak surrounding her family which shaped Rosemary’s entire life.

 

Chimpanzee pondering his life like the Thinker...

Chimpanzee pondering his life like the Thinker, Pan troglodytes

It is easy as the outsider to jump to accusations of abuse by the parents in this scenario. They exposed the family to an extraordinary situation which, based on all previous attempts, was unlikely to be sustainable. They allowed Rosemary to grow up to inevitably be different from her peers, struggling against the nickname ‘Monkey Girl’ despite her pointing out that this was factually incorrect – Fern is a Chimpanzee. And then they removed Fern from the family (for reasons which we don’t learn until nearly the end of the novel) and the slow disintegration of the family which followed was only helped along by the despondency of both mother and father. Despite all that, I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for them. If we are to continue with the assumption that they saw Fern as their own child then the loss of that child was bound to have a lasting effect.

 

We spend much of the time with Rosemary at college, she falls into a wild and frustrating friendship as she tries to escape from her ‘abnormal’ past, there’s a confusion over a missing suitcase which results in finding a puppet which Rosemary becomes strangely attached to, while the regular introduction of alcohol and occasionally drugs to these adventures often leaves the story hazy and confused, something which Rosemary openly admits – again the untrustworthy nature of memory is brought to light.

 

Overall then We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a book about family, about being different and about personal guilt and regret for past memories. Hanging over all of this is the collective guilt surrounding humanity’s treatment of animals, of our confusing relationship with them. Fowler creates characters we can’t help but feel sympathy for, placing them in a completely foreign situation and forcing us to consider the morality surrounding how we choose to behave towards the rest of the world’s creatures.

 

That’s all for now
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Top Fives...

My top five things I’ve been doing other than blogging…

Hey guys,

I’ve been trying to blog at least once a week but things have got kinda busy the past few weeks hence my big failure. So thought I’d give a little life update and a top fives all in one…yay!

1) Having a job

Do you guys know how hard it is to get stuff done when you have to go to work everyday? Well obviously you do because you’re a normal person who has to go to work everyday. But it legit takes up a lot of time. I’ve been away the past few weekends so my life is pretty much a list of stuff I haven’t got round to, welcome to adulthood I guess.

2) Driving, driving, driving

The first time I started learning to drive was when I was 18. It was in my gap year after I finished my A levels and I had a really loud and friendly driving instructor who talked non-stop which would have been great if he wasn’t so busy talking that he forgot to tell me where I was supposed to be going and useful things like how to not stall and which pedals to press when. Anyway the winter of my gap year was a snowy one and I was far too scared to drive so that was the end of that. The second time I had driving lessons was in the summer after my first year at university. My new driving instructor was a very small man (honestly, I had to move the seat about a metre back when I got in to drive) who spoke about 5 words per lesson. Turns out feeling incredibly awkward for two hours isn’t a good atmosphere to learn to drive in. I don’t think I made that much progress that summer and then I left to go back to Nottingham and that was the end of that.

Anyways, now I’m on my third try and I actually have a test booked and everything! It’s in a few weeks so I’ve been having driving lessons a few times a week and my dad’s taking me out in our car. If I was able to afford to buy a car or insurance the prospect of having a driving license would probably be more exciting but y’know I’m a poor graduate so this will probably be a useless skill for a little while.

3) Trying to get a grown up job

Now that I’ve graduated I’ve been applying for jobs like a crazy person. I know that everybody knows it kind of sucks to be a graduate at the moment so I don’t really want to whine on about how much I want to find a job and how sucky it feels to get rejections (although maybe I will in another blog post) but yeah I spend most of my free time looking for jobs. I know I’m really lucky to have a job while I’m living at home so that I can afford to live and whatnot and I know that everyone is in the some boat so I shouldn’t complain. Still though I find it pretty depressing that when I get a rejection most people’s response to me telling them is ‘At least they bothered to get back to you’…which is true since most companies don’t even do that but…so sucky.

I’m done complaining now though, as everyone keeps reminding me, I know it’ll work out in the end!

4) Watching Bob’s Burgers

Bob's Burgers

Bob’s Burgers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you watched Bob’s Burgers? I’m completely addicted to it at the moment. I really enjoy the entire Belcher family and the bizarre happenings. Louise is probs my favourite because she’s the sneakiest little thing, I kind of wish I’d had a little sister like her…or just been her. Also they do really amazing puns, legit non stop. The only issue with watching it is that it makes me hungry for burgers like ALL THE TIME.

5) Reading

I love reading but I’m also quite lazy with it. You know those things that you have to make yourself do but when you do it you really enjoy it and can’t stop? Kinda? Well now that I’ve started reading for fun again (rather than reading for my degree) I can’t stop which is nice. So that leads me onto my new plan for ‘My Top Fives’ which is……..book reviews!!!!!

Ok that probably didn’t warrant so many exclamation marks. Anyway next week you’ll be able to read my first ever book review, I’m pretty buzzing. I’m organising my reading by alternating fiction and non-fiction because I love both equally.

So there you have it, as you can see I’ve been very busy doing all useful stuff, I’ll be back really soon though. (Seriously I will, I’m going to write another blog for next week like RIGHT NOW)

That’s all for now

x

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My Future...

A manifesto for life…

As I stand here, on the brink of my ‘adult life’,  it comes to mind that I should make some kind of promises…pledge to be a good kind of person, the kind you’d want to know.

I’ll start with the big stuff…

I promise to try and be the kind of person who can let go of the past. I tend to hang on to grudges and regrets and disappointments. But I’ll try and stop because I want a mind that’s open to new opportunities, not preoccupied by the past.

I promise to be kinder to myself, physically and emotionally. To eat healthily(ish) and make time to move a bit more, make some good habits. And to stop beating myself up. To try and ‘learn to love myself’ like everyone’s always saying you should do.

I promise to be kind to you. Whoever you are. If you’re just stopping by I hope that you get some good vibes and if you know me then please expect it from me and call me out if it doesn’t happen.

I promise not to give up. Whatever challenges I’ll have to face, whether or not I feel strong enough to persevere, I’ll try to do it anyway. The seemingly simplest of things, getting a job, is already proving a challenge and the rejections are really no fun but I’ll keep trying.

I promise to be excited about the future more than I’m scared of it. To always try and find things to look forward to and embrace the unknown. And not to feel too sad about getting older.

I promise to go back to my natural hair colour at least once in my life.

I promise to always use my right to vote and make the effort to make an informed decision.

I promise to save money sensibly most of the time and spend recklessly a little bit of the time.

I promise to always remember how gross smoking is and to never start.

I promise to get everyone dancing to Take That at my wedding.

I promise not to take people for granted. To always be polite and to make people feel valued.

I promise to limit the amount of days I spend in pyjamas doing nothing productive. But I promise I’ll do it occasionally.

I promise that I will never, ever send anyone invites to any Facebook game…ever.

I promise to try and have as much fun as possible even when I’m doing things that don’t immediately scream ‘fun’ at you.

I promise to name my future cats after Jim and Pam from The Office.

I promise to stop being so addicted to Facebook and to stop using it to compare my life to other people’s. And to never be someone who cares so much about it that I feel the need to complain when the layout changes.

I promise to take more photos so I don’t forget anything.

I promise to never care even a little bit about what the Kardashians or anyone from TOWIE/MIC are up to.

I promise to travel.

I promise to back up my computer regularly.

I promise to become a grandmother with stories worth telling.

I promise to always bring cake.

That’s all for now

x

Written for the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge.

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Politics...

An unjust war…

A few weeks ago, I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t know anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’d heard of it, I had the impression it was to do with religion and land occupation, but that was about it.

Now I know a few more things about it.

I know that people are dying, that children are dying. I know that it’s something which divides people across the world. I know that there’s no easy answers and I know that it’s complicated beyond words.

Every time I read something about it I change my mind and then change it again. I look for a side to support because I thought there was always a right and a wrong. But not this time, maybe not every war is fought for a just cause.

I hear which governments are supporting which side and realise it’s got to be much more to do with power and money than justice and peace. It doesn’t help me come to any conclusions.

What can we do? What can be done? Demands to stop selling Israel weapons and to publicly condemn them are made and are being ‘considered’ by the people who matter.

I get used to hearing the new death count on the radio far too quickly. It’s starting to become just a number, it’s too many to comprehend.

A ‘die-in’ takes place in my local town to protest the lack of action against Israel and people play dead in the middle of Sainsbury’s until they have to close their doors. Radio 4 talk about one anti-Israel protest in Berlin, Hitler’s name is chanted and it chills me to my bones.

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Politics...

In defence of Dawkins (kind of)…

There’s been a bit of hooha over the past day or two about some comments that Richard Dawkins made on twitter. Essentially these comments provoked a lot of extreme reactions from people because they centred around the issues of sexual assault and rape. And I’m torn because in all honesty I agree with Dawkins’ basic argument it’s just such a shame that he can’t get out of his own way and present things in a manner that doesn’t piss so many people off.

I used to be a big fan of Richard Dawkins when I was a teenager and was in my angry atheist years. Now that I’m a little older I guess I’m slightly less sure. Not about the atheist part, I’m still pretty convinced of that, but of the best way to present those arguments to the world. Something that seems pretty obvious is that offending people and calling them stupid doesn’t work.

Anyways, back to what he said the other day. You can find the info here and Dawkins’ defence of it here (it’s pretty long so I’m kindly summing it up for you below in case you can’t be bothered to read it).

Dawkins makes the point, if in a somewhat unnecessarily harsh and blunt manner, that there are some types of sexual crimes that are worse than others.Which in an abstract sense seems to me  to be a statement of fact.

What we’re asking judges to do when they make rulings on sexual assault and paedophilia cases is to quantify the severity of these offences. The point of the legal system is to make rational and logical decisions about the appropriate punishment for a crime. An issue which is so fraught with emotional responses such as this means that it’s extremely vulnerable to being influenced by these responses.

If you ask a mother, father, sibling or the victim of sexual assault themselves what the punishment for the perpetrator of the crime should be, of course they would wish all sorts of pain and suffering on them. Most people would, which is why we aren’t the ones making the decisions.

Those people that make the decisions need to feel free to make these choices in as fair a way as they see possible. Often they’re unimaginable choices but they have to be made by somebody. We all want to live in a world where this isn’t an issue but for now locking up anyone who has committed a sexual offence for the rest of their lives isn’t a viable solution. Everyone makes mistakes.

I hope I’m not coming across as dismissive of those people who have gone through an experience of sexual abuse, I’m so sorry if that’s you and I have so much sympathy with you. All I want to say is that if we’re going to have a scale for the severity of crimes which has to exist in order to help us to decide on their punishment then that needs to exist for sexual crimes as much as it does for killing or stealing or harming another person.

When we hear about rape we immediately have an emotional response which is often more extreme than for other crimes because the resulting damage can be so awful, to allow that to cloud judgement of a situation, however, is wrong. I believe that was what Dawkins was trying to say, I just wish he’d said it without insulting so many people. When he makes the point that this issue is one which provokes a lot of extreme emotions, then it seems he should have considered that when he made those statements, there was definitely a better way to make the point he was trying to make.

I doubt he’ll change, he’s a man in his seventies who believes in logic above anything else and has made a career out of being divisive, but it’s a shame because he does sometimes makes a good point. Hopefully this time he’s at least learned that 140 characters is nowhere enough to talk about rape.

That’s all for now

x

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Top Fives..., Uni Life...

A few thoughts on graduating…

I graduated last week. It was a great day shared with great people and most significantly I didn’t fall over when I walked across the stage. I cannot tell you how many times I had nightmares about falling in front of hundreds of people, I need to get a grip!

Anyways, I’m taking to my blog today to help me process some of the thoughts I’ve had about this whole graduating thing. For the sake of tradition I’ll put them in a nice numbered list although there may or may not be five, we’ll have to wait and see.

1) First off it seems appropriate to say how astoundingly grateful I am to the people who helped me get through four years at university. The Vice-Chancellor of my university asked us, the graduates, all to stand up and applaud our friends and families before we left the ceremony last week and this couldn’t have been more of an appropriate way to end my university career. Particularly in my final year my parents and boyfriend read every single piece of work I handed in. They corrected it, gave advice and generally made me feel like I had a shot at doing ok…which I needed….a lot.

And even if they hadn’t done all that, my parents made it financially possible for me to go and live in America for a year, something I’d been dreaming of for as long as I can remember, and my boyfriend put up with a long distance relationship so that I could go and live that dream. So to them and everyone else who helped out and gave support, thanks guys-you’re the best.

2) My second observation about being a graduate…it’s not actually as scary as I thought. In fact, maybe it’s even a teeny tiny bit exciting. I thought I was the kind of person that needed to know exactly what my next step was because I guess that’s all any of us have ever known until we leave full-time education, but it turns out that I’m kind of ok with not being certain.

3) So here’s something of note. I assume it’s down to the fact that you automatically become a proper adult when you put that gown on and manage not to fall over while crossing a stage wearing heels but I actually do seem to be sorting my life out.

Since leaving Nottingham I’ve applied for several jobs doing really cool things that I actually really want to do. I’ve started selling all my worldly possessions on Amazon (this is a big deal for me, I normally vehemently resist getting rid of anything). I’m reading more and trying to use what limited spare time I do have now that I’m working full-time to do useful, grown up  things like read the news and make my CV look cool. I guess I got used to having a clearly defined goal last year…get that 2.1. Now that I’ve left I need loads of little goals, sitting around watching TV all evening just doesn’t cut it.

4) That kind of brings me onto this blog. I’ve been writing about it in my CV and covering letter but I sometimes imagine potential employers reading it and I wonder what they’d make of it. I guess it’s kind of lost its direction. I’m torn over how I should continue with it but I know that I don’t want to give up on it. My final year at uni confirmed how much I like writing and now that I don’t have essays to write I know that I’ll be craving an outlet every now and then.

I guess the thing I’m unsure about is what I’m trying to make of myself through this blog. On my CV I describe it as a place where I talk about my experiences on my year abroad and what it was like coming back to the UK. Well that just isn’t really the case any more is it? Do I need a clear thesis? Does the top fives thing confuse things? Does it need to be a blog about something other than my life? I’m not sure so I guess the next few months will involve me trying to work out the answers to those questions.

5) Wahoo I made it to number 5. My final thought on my experience since leaving uni is that the pain has most definitely been eased by the discovery that I’m going to be an aunt next January. I suppose if you don’t know me you won’t realise how much of a big deal that is for me. But trust me, I’ve been waiting for this a long time and I couldn’t be happier. That baby is going to be loved so much and I really can’t wait to meet him/her. (I’ve had a fairly convincing dream about it being a boy so I reckon I’m having a nephew).

So there we have it. For now, from the graduate…

My family

My family

 

My American Studies Buddies

My American Studies Buddies

 

And Me!

And Me!

That’s all for now

x

 

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Uni Life...

Hi again…

I’ve been reading blogs on and off for a long time. The thing I always find most disconcerting about them is when they stop. You’ve been reading along with someone’s life, learning about what they do and who they are, then suddenly the posts get farther and farther apart. Then they stop altogether.

You keep checking back and scrolling through the last few posts trying to figure out what might have happened. What stopped this person from wanting to share their journey with you. Of course it’s not just with you, it’s with the whole internet, but it feels like it’s just with you. As if you’ve learnt so much about their lives that you start to feel as though you’re part of it, as though they’re a friend you’re looking out for. Part of me wants to email them and ask them where they went but I realise that they don’t know me, they don’t feel like I’m their friend, I’m a stranger.

To me it always feels like something a little sinister even though I know that in reality whoever it is got busy just like I did. Their life was suddenly too much to get down on a website at the end of the day. Or maybe they ran out of inspiration and couldn’t find the words to make anything sound interesting. But I guess to the reader it just feels like a story left unfinished.

And I am living proof of that, I just got so distracted. I can’t believe it’s been six months since I last wrote anything, it does not feel like six months.

When I say wrote anything, I obviously mean wrote anything on here because I’ve actually written several essays and a twelve and a half thousand word dissertation since then. Now it’s all done and we’re in the painful process of waiting for results.

2 weeks tomorrow.

In the meantime I’m going to be turning 23 and having major freak outs about where my life is headed now that I don’t have the safety net of further education to catch me.

I have big plans for sorting my life out this summer which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks. If you’re a long time reader of this blog and have managed to stick around for this 6 month dry spell then you’ll know I’m pretty much always trying to sort my life out. I guess that’s just how it goes, my life is a work in progress.

Sorry for being so quiet for so long, I’m glad to be back, it feels good to write again.

That’s all for now

x

 

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Uni Life...

Time to get serious…

I’m backkkkk

Hey guys,

I’m finally getting round to doing some blogging. The past few weeks have been horribly hectic and once I’d let it go a week or two without blogging it seemed like the easiest thing to put off you know? But I promise I am now back on it once again and I’m hopefully gonna do a bit of a blog redesign in the coming week, new year-new blog layout and all that.

I’m putting my serious face on now because I’ve decided it’s time for me to take this blogging thing seriously again. The past few months have not been my finest, I’ve been too distracted and now when I read back over the blogs I was writing they all seem kind of half-hearted and boring. Sorry about that.

I might not be able to do more than one a week but we’re looking for quality not quantity righttt? Right.

I had my one and only January exam on Tuesday which, for me, signalled the official start to ‘my new year’. Meaning that before that I was too focused on essays and revision to do anything good for me or anyone else.

I have a really good feeling about this year, I just know that it’s gonna be a year that holds a lot of cool and exciting things for me and the people I know. Maybe it’s just because I’m at an age where big life events are actually starting to happen, people are graduating and getting jobs and moving in together and going travelling…it feels like whenever I see someone I haven’t seen in a while they’ve got an exciting piece of news to tell me. This year is 2014 – Year of Positivity.

Since I’m yet to say it, HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR to you, I hope it’s being exciting and positive for you too!

Right now I’m off to do a bit of reading on sexism towards First Ladies…don’t pretend you’re not jealous (I’m kidding, it’s actually really interesting).

See, even Eric's enjoying it

See, even Eric‘s enjoying it

That’s all for now

x

 

 

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Uni Life...

My top five ways I deal with stress…

1) Cry

2) Have a lie down

3) Denial

4) Drink unholy amounts of tea

5) Complain to anyone who’ll listen

Hey friends,

Just checking in.

I’m on the home stretch with two essay which are in next week so my life has been pretty boring. I can’t get over how quickly the time has gone, how is it nearly Christmas?!

I hate that all this work has got in the way of blogging. It’s not even just that I’ve been too busy. I guess it’s mainly that after spending all my time reading and writing for uni I don’t really feel like doing more of it when I could be sleeping/watching TV etc.

The other annoying thing about having all this work to do? It makes me eat about 10 meals a day simply because that’s an excuse to have a break.

Anyways, I’m finally taking my work seriously. First year didn’t count for me so I never had to do much work. I always did fine and besides it was first year – you were supposed to be having fun. Then second year started and I was having a bit of a rough time and spent most of term time going out and drinking too much. I did the minimum amount of work necessary to get through and that was reflected in my distinctly average grades. Last year was America and once again I had not a care in the world.

And now here I am and I haven’t felt good about anything I’ve done academically in years. Not since I somehow aced my A levels, which, given the lack of anything else to back them up, I’m beginning to think might have been a fluke.

Suffice to say I’m beginning to feel the pressure, hence all the work I’ve been doing.

I just keep thinking that my excuse about not having done any work in second year is really a big lie, maybe I didn’t do very well in second year because I’m not good enough. Then I think maybe if my A levels were a fluke then I shouldn’t have even got in to a university like Nottingham in the first place. Then I think that maybe however much work I do I’m never going to do as well as I want to. Then I think that I’m going to let myself/everyone else down. Then I think I’m never going to get a good job. Then I have to have a lie down because I’m getting all freaked out.

So yeah, safe to say final year’s already driving me a little insane. Looking forward to round two when I have this PLUS a twelve thousand word dissertation to write…WAHOO!

That’s all for now

x

P.s Yeah, you know that thing I said about complaining? Well it’s the internet world’s turn to listen to my whining, I applaud you if you made it this far.

P.p.s I feel like I should mention that despite being quite stressed, I’m actually finding my essays quite interesting, maybe I’ll write about that once they’re both finished!

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