Posted in Late Nights, Writing

Day of Edits

It’s getting late and I’m nowhere near done yet.

Listening to The Fratelli’s new album – it’s fantastic, go listen!

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Posted in Education, Goals, Late Nights, life, Musings, rant, University

Smart and Imperfect

There are many misconceptions about what being smart is. The idea that the grades you earn in school or even university; that they can somehow define your potential, your essence is absurd. You may not have paid attention in school, uninspired and left behind. You may have scraped by and gone on to a University or College into whichever course seemed like a good idea to 17 year old you and you may have graduated/passed with average grades from an average, uninspired performance. You might only have discovered your true passions from a chance encounter well into your 20s or by a passing comment from a teacher on graduation day when it was ‘too late’ to do anything about it.

But what will you be judged by by future employers and puppet masters? Those grades that merely state what you obtained from one day’s exam performance. How well you understood/didn’t understand the course work in a twelve week semester, with a shitty essay that you tried hard on but the teacher was never going to be gentle with her marking.

And doesn’t it seem ridiculous in the end?

I didn’t manage too well in high school. I performed fairly well for most subjects in standard grade and intermediates for fifth year, but in sixth year I was suffocated, desperate to escape the petty associations of high school while my life was falling apart outside of school. Did it matter to the teachers? Nope. It bothered them more that I wasn’t walking around with a smile plastered to my face. They saw my average grades for the prelims and accused me of sabotaging my future by not working ‘to my potential’. They blanked me when and if I tried to explain how I felt. They shamed me for wanting to go to a Further Education College after school instead of University. I was told I would never achieve anything in my life if I didn’t go straight to uni.

Ahem.

So I’ve attended a lot of colleges, I’ve been to Uni in several capacities, including abroad, and while I am not a perfect student or have ever had PERFECT GRADES. I’m still smart.

I’m smart because I’m passionate. Most people have things that interest them, and we’ve all had to study and learn things that bored or frustrated us, but I can talk endlessly for hours, days even, on the things that truly spark me. Is that stuff quantifiable? No. Sure, you can give me an Italian grammar test, or tell me that my ability to speak Spanish is shite, but does that take away my abilities to manage or enjoy these languages? NOPE. If my Spanish is so awful, how then did I manage to survive living in Spain for a year in a town that refused to speak English? I still got my coffee and tomato toast every morning and managed to argue with the cashiers in Mercadona that my Post Office Travel Money card is mine and linked to my passport but doesn’t have my name printed on it because it just bloody doesn’t.

I did the PLIDA exam at B2 in Granada, and I passed 3 of the 4 elements with flying colours to the surprise of my lecturer, but then because of a random, sudden change in the format of the speaking exam I was TWO points shy of passing the oral segment and thus failed the whole exam. Inside it destroyed me. I had worked relentlessly for weeks, to the point I was sick with the stress… and for a part of an exam that lasted about twenty minutes, they basically told me I wasn’t good enough. My Italian wasn’t good enough. My effort wasn’t good enough. Had they heard the whole half an hour I spent speaking in Italian to my speaking partner before the exam? No. Did they know that I had made friends with an Italian in Granada and I asked the others in my Italian class to speak with me in Italian and not Spanish because it was suddenly like someone had turned down the static on a fuzzy radio. It took me a long time to get over the pain of the set back, but then I finished my year abroad with 88% in the C1 Italian language class which took into account my whole ability, for the whole term… and my passion.

I lost a lot of my interest in Spanish because of uni. Because every piece of Spanish work came back covered in red pen and bad marks. Because my oral work was criticised because of nerves or a lack of confidence… and in the end a lack of fucks given. But I got through it, I have that damn degree, and slowly over the last year I’ve allowed myself to remember the good points about it. Every extra Hispanohablante is one more person pissing off Trump. I enjoy Spanish music, I love my Italian singers who also perform and release their stuff in Spanish. I love my original passion for languages, once I realised I could… I couldn’t stop at just one or two, it’s still my goal to dabble in as many languages as possible. I’ve even told a few people that the Netflix show One Day at a Time is helping me enjoy Spanish again… because it’s about the thrill, the education for enjoyment’s sake and not about using the fucking subjunctive perfectly! (I seriously don’t think anyone can!) Plus, Despacito ūüėČ

Another whole pathetic example is my undergraduate dissertation. Now to point out, I was trying to hard to still¬†care¬†about Hispanic Studies at all and so I started researching things I was already interested (Ancient History/Italy) in to see if I could tie it all together. Thus it became about the Roman Conquest of Hispania which by the way took 200 years to happen. Who knew?! It’s a thrilling part of history that not many are fully aware of. Sure, most people have heard about Hannibal crossing the Alps, but do they know why? Or that it was during the second of three Punic Wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian Empire??? I’ve probably lost you now but this thrills me. Gives me actual goosebumps. I daydream about what would have happened if Carthage had won.

The whole project was about 11 months of work, research, planning, and writing because it could only be a measly 10,000 words. So I had to be as economical as possible. Ultimately I handed in something I was immensely proud of, worked ridiculously hard at, missed shifts at work, turned my day into night, didn’t see my flatmates properly for weeks, and despite all the passion and inspiration, what happened? I got a shit mark. Not a D but still, after everything… And the feedback? Well the first paragraph could go on my gravestone and make you think I was a saint, but then the negativity came. Nothing about my actual work was faulted. It was all about what the tutor thought should have been put in (but I’d filled the whole word count), a few stupid comments about using ‘this’ alone, and other daft things that would have taken the research in a whole other direction. Pathetic. Considering two factors; the tutor had NO knowledge of Ancient Roman History, nor the narrative I was following; and had no idea that Carthage had a base in Hispania which was one of the precipitating factors of the damn Punic Wars and the whole freaking conquest! -_- Also while describing Scipio’s week-long surround-and-starve tactics on northern natives, my writing was apparently ‘too dramatic’.

But!

I’m still passionate about all my interests and hope to expand on my dissertation (because I can) and without the fear of some lecturer and their red pen trying to tell me I’m not good enough.

And please, dear readers, don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t measure up. That your smarts and abilities aren’t good enough because you don’t have a degree certificate or some other numbered sticker that is meant to tell the world which box you fit into for the rest of your life. Before I started uni, I had people who were astounded (and told me to my face) that I could form an intelligent opinion about something I literally can’t remember now… the difference was that we were the same age but she was attending uni and I was only a lowly college student. HA!

If anything, attending FE colleges helped me develop myself and my life skills more than university ever did. I had more fun nights out at college, had more fun mucking about the photography studio, and spent more time learning about languages, again, than I did at uni. Uni is like a treadmill set on a ridiculously fast pace, and the goal is just to hang on, eventually you stop trying to run at that speed and you find your own way of clinging on for dear life, until someone calls the race to an end and you graduate with whichever number they’ve deigned to put on that yellow piece of paper.

Remember you are more than that bit of paper.

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Bring passion, bring willpower, and forget the fuck about ever being perfect.

e x

Posted in Books, Education, Fitness, Health, Late Nights, life, Musings, Shonda Rhimes, Travel, University, work, Writing

Battling the sleepies

I’m drained. Zonked. Gone.

I’ve had a few days off work just with how the scheduling goes, and had all these wild plans for what I’d do with all that free time. And yet, it’s been cold, stormy, wet, and blah. They probably sound like excuses and maybe they are but I’m so tired. I’ve caught up with some work in short bursts of effort, usually around 1am when I should be succumbing to the tiredness, but when my creativity works best. The rest of the time I just feel like a sleepy zombie.

I’ve been setting an alarm, but when it goes off in the morning, because I know there’s nothing I NEED to get up for, it’s more of an annoying noise that I flip over and end up snoozing for two more hours. It’s a bad habit… probably, but I think I’m suffering with ‘what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-itis’ and for me, hypersomnia is how I deal with it.

Now that I’m pondering it, there’s an element of SAD involved. It happens every winter, except this is the first time in a zillion years where I haven’t been compelled by full-time education to get my arse out of the house. I’ve ordered a sunlight alarm clock that will arrive in about two months -_- there’s no way I can afford a SAD lamp, plus electricity freaks me out.

In between passing out asleep and trying to wake up with strong coffee and Italian rap music, I’ve been reading Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes book. It’s amazing! I don’t often read autobiographies/self-help stuff, but her words are so¬†relatable¬†particularly about working hard and living/breathing/eating your own work as a writer. Even the parts about not having everything as a parent/writer/woman, it’s finally a relief to hear someone admitting that they don’t have everything sorted out, that they aren’t superwoman and, don’t have all the answers. She needs help to manage her life, she gets it; she needs help to look after her kids while she works, she gets it. Why should anyone be a martyr to a lost cause without asking for help? I’m hopefully never going to go down that merry road of motherhood but I can understand how certain parts of your life aren’t going to be perfect or even balanced while focusing on another part of your life.

I know it’s bad for your health to be stationary all the time, but as a writer, much of what I do requires that I sit writing drivel onto a screen or into a notebook for ages at a time. And in order to work as I need to on that, I can’t always breakaway to go to the gym and I nearly broke my back on the times I went to the gym and carried all my writing stuff and laptop with me… I’ve seen those girls at Uni, they’ll need traction by 25. I’m too old to put up with these pains though, and thus things slide. Plus, sitting/lying/being still is one of my favourite pastimes. I could pass as a statue.

Alas, alak, we’re nearly in February, still a month I hate but I’m hoping the nicer weather will make an appearance and my mood will feel less funky. I’m planning on doing blog posts on my previous trips abroad. I’ve got so many stories to tell, might as well tell you them. Just need to find all my old photographs as well. First trip to Italy was in 2008 and I can’t even begin to think how many different computers I’ve had since then!

A tarde!

e x

Posted in job hunting, Late Nights, life, work

A funny thing happened a few weeks ago…

I barely slept the night before Thursday 14th December as I knew I had an interview at 10am that morning. I had prepared, and had had ten days to prepare my presentation for it, but still I was unsettled about my impending performance and how it would be judged.

I dragged myself up, buzzed and nauseous at the same time and left early to get my bus. Despite the rumours of snow and bad weather I made it to my destination in plenty of time and without much hassle.

I cut my presentation into chunks stuck to large index cards to make it all look a bit more professional and after finding the right building and climbing a million stairs, I arrived about ten minutes ahead of time and was instructed to wait in the small dining area.

My interview started quite a bit after ten as they all seemed fairly casual about timing, then I stumbled into the small double-doored office but repeatedly informed that this wasn’t where interviews normally were conducted. I put any nerves aside and focused on the potential opportunity in front of me. I know things here in Glasgow are much different from what I was used to in Aberdeen, actually getting an interview is a much bigger deal here; the competition being infinitely more fierce.

It lasted all of fifty minutes with the two interviewers doing most of the talking. I believe I did do my best, but felt that their constant ‘sympathy’ of the horror of doing a presentation in front of two people kind of took my edge off. I’ve done hundreds of presentations like this, hundreds of times where I’ve put myself out of my comfort zone and had to think on my feet or speak while only pretending to feel confident, and yet… Something ultimately wasn’t enough, I didn’t get the job and received the rejection email six hours after the fact. I could over analyse and try to interpret where I went wrong, but without actual confirmation from them it really could have come down to an arbitrary point. However, the stats they sent me said 300 people applied for the job and I was one of 30 to be interviewed but only 12 were selected to be hired. There’s some consolation in that.

Anyway, the day was far from over.

I was starving and bolted to Wetherspoons straight after the interview and got the small breakfast and an avocado bagel… it was wonderful, considering I hadn’t eaten anything before it. The lack of sleep was wearing on me and I made for the bus to go home and sleep instead of a coffee refill. Thankfully, a bus appeared just as I got to the bus stop but suddenly my phone blasted the opening riff of ‘Sugar we’re goin’ down’ (my ringtone) and I awkwardly presented my bus ticket while trying to hear the person on the other end of the line.

Person: Hi, this is X from X at X, I was wondering if you’d be available for an interview today?

Me: Uh, sure. What time at?

Person: How about 2pm?

Me: Uh [checks watch to see suggested time is only an hour and a half from now] sure, I’ll see you then.

I came off the phone in shock and realised the ramifications of the spontaneity of the interview. I was in the middle of town, heading home and this place was the other end of the city, and I still had my job centre appointment at 4pm. So I did what had to be done and called in the support team.

The long and short of it is that by the time I got home there wasn’t much time to get a bus so I had to get a taxi to the shop and made it for a bit before two. I approached a staff member, was ushered into the back of the shop and met the boss. I didn’t even get to sit down when she asked to see ID, if I have full availability and can I start today. HA! Finally!

Of course I said yes, but would need to come back after the JC appointment. I headed straight there after my thirty second interview and my adviser and the person who questions people why they’re in the job centre were both thrilled for me and amazed that I had gotten something so quickly.

Then it was straight home to change and out to hunt for some food before getting to the place for half five to actually start… until 11:30pm.

So it’s been pretty much non stop since then, I’ve so far only had three days off but still have the next three days off to catch up on real-life stuff including uni work, this blog, and other writing stuff. I’m physically zonked from the constant standing around and bashing into things behind the counter, but I’m not emotionally drained which is the most important part for me. Still don’t miss the last job!

I hope everyone has had a really good holiday season and I’m sure we’re all looking to 2018 to be a much better year all round.

Hasta luego,

e x

 

 

 

 

Posted in ASMR, Health, Late Nights, Musings

Do you ASMR?

ASMR has grown in popularity rapidly over the last couple of years, but so have its detractors. It’s a contentious subject if you look at it with too sceptical an eye.

So, it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which basically means you get tingles on the back of your head, sometimes down your arms, back, legs; even all over tingles.

We’ve all got experiences of it, my earliest memories are of being in primary school and sitting on the floor in front of the teacher and one of the girls behind me playing with my hair! (I had ridiculously long hair back then, it was impossible not to touch.) Maybe you’ve had a similar experience; at a hairdressers, getting a massage, eye test… the list goes on.

Essentially it seems to be brought on by personal attention, which is something that many of us are lacking in our hectic lives nowadays, so it can be a real treat to have someone take care of you. But really, how many of us can afford either the time or the money to get a facial everyday? Hardly any of us. That’s where the magic of YouTube comes in. There are quite literally thousands of ASMRtists on YT who in my entirely biased opinion are divine creatures spending their time trying to make little old ME feel better when I can’t sleep or I’m stressing out.

This brings us to the divisive part… these are real people who are talking softly to a video camera as if it were a real person. It goes further if you look for the spa treatments, Cranial Nerve Examinations, dental visits, and best friend sleep aids. They all use a variety of microphones which are binaural so it replicates your own ears, and while wearing headphones you really feel they are speaking directly into your ear. It’s this close, personal attention that helps to bring on the tingles – you genuinely feel you are in the same room as them.

Now, I would ask everyone who is unconvinced, please suspend your disbelief, buy into it just for a 40 minute session (with really good quality and comfortable headphones) and use your imagination a little… you’ll see a difference.

Maybe, maybe not. Some people have their minds firmly made up. Some people aren’t able to experience ASMR at all but I’ll use this moment to bring my point back to why I got into these videos in the first place.

CHRONIC INSOMNIA

I’ve been an insomniac for almost all of my adult life, from about 16 onward everything was a struggle related to sleep. I’d be unable to get up in the morning, be late for school despite living a 10 minute walk away, and generally feel crappy and crabby all day long. Then at night, instead of feeling tired enough to go to bed early after a whole long day of feeling tired, I couldn’t sleep. Thus began my routine of staying up late until I felt tired enough to go to sleep. This continued for many, many years.

It got to breaking point when I started university and had a full class load, noisy flatmates, and working 25 hours a week. Despite going back and forth to doctors, they insisted there was little they could do to help and tried some ‘strong antihistamines’ but gave me barely enough to really see if they worked. I tried Kalms, I tried herbal teas, I tried sorting my ‘sleep hygiene’ which I think is crap, presumptuous, and certainly of little use while living in a dorm or student accommodation (the bedroom is only for sleeping – no my bedroom is my everything). There is still a wide nonacceptance of listening to people with insomnia, my phrase was always “I’ve lost my sleepy”, I could feel like shit all day long from exhaustion, but still not be able to sleep AT ALL, not even a nap!

Second year at uni didn’t improve my sleeping habits much as my bedroom was on a main road and I’d sometimes stay up until it was quiet enough to sleep, but invariably there’d be just enough passing traffic to keep waking me up. It was around this time that I turned to YT for chill out videos, guided meditations, relaxing music which worked a bit for a time. However, lack of sleep leads to so many issues including for me, ear, nose, and throat issues so it stopped being as prudent to sleep with headphones in.

Fast forward a year and a bit, I was living in Spain in student accommodation again, and I swear Spaniards don’t sleep! All the apartments had metal staircases which were noisier than you’d believe and all the beds were squeaky metal frames. There was always some noise from somewhere.

That’s when I discovered ASMR.

I’ll even show you the exact video I first watched:¬†My First ASMR

It’s by an ASMRtist called Olivia Kissper. She had only just uploaded maybe a couple of days before I stumbled across the video and it changed everything for me. Two and a half years later and I still listen to an ASMR video every night to help me sleep! (It’s also why I crack up if I don’t have a WIFI signal where I’m staying!)

I will eventually do a top list of my favourite ASMRtists and some videos which have helped me, I just wanted to post about WHY I enjoy ASMR and how I feel it has helped me.

I’ve listened to videos even while studying, writing, or working just to help me chill and focus on what I’m doing… they’ve even helped get rid of tension headaches too.

I understand that not everyone will be convinced, and that’s perfectly fine too, I just ask that you respect other people’s enjoyment of ASMR. I haven’t been asked to write this post and I’m not sponsored by anyone in the ASMR community, I’m just a long-time listener who wanted to share this with others who might be feeling the strain of insomnia too.

Ciao for now,

Eliza ūüôā

Posted in Late Nights, Musings

The Frustrations Part Deux

I spoke yesterday about the ‘invisible’ influences and pressures for people to get into relationships, have kids… essentially¬†grow up¬†I thought more about the times for me where the messages haven’t been so invisible.

Recently: I was at a funeral a few months ago for someone who meant a lot to me. I accepted that by going to the service I’d have to see people whose company I don’t particularly enjoy. In the car park after it, while most of us were swamped with emotion, I was informed that now university is over, I need to find myself a nice husband. Shock doesn’t quite describe how I felt, but despite my protestations that this was not something I wanted, the person repeatedly insisted the same thing again and again.

Is that something that one puts on a to-do list?

Then the other questions appear,¬†‘Is she dating?’, ‘Does she have a boyfriend?’ ‘Is she um… y’know…?’, ‘Doesn’t she want children?’, ‘Don’t you want to fall in love?’

Ugh, spare me! Aside from the gooey-smoochy gag that I can’t deal with, you want to know the truth? I literally cannot afford any of these things, not right now and unless I hit a miraculous windfall in the next while, it won’t be anytime soon. And I’m not compromising to ‘settle’ for someone just so my bills will be halved and we’ll be financially stuck together. Nope, not fair on anyone.

We’re supposed to be living in a time of awareness that it’s not that people don’t fit the boxes but that the boxes aren’t meant to fit people in them! Strides are being made for marriage equality, gender equality, recognition of more than archaic traditionalist ideals… so why isn’t choosing to be unmarried and child-free? Why is it still seen as something a person can be coaxed into doing, reality and finances be damned?

e x