Posted in Education, life, Musings, University, work, Writing

MIA

So work, real life, and laziness has prevented me from updating in a while. I have a bunch of great ideas for new blog posts that I need to at some point write and schedule… but I’ve been holding myself back. Why? Who knows!

I’ve started the 15-minute-method, like Pomodoro but shorter, for commitment-phobes like myself. Anyway, I’ve managed several days of blocking out 15 minutes to work on stuff I complain I never have time for… and lo and behold, it actually works. But I’ll get back to that later, in another post, which I will write asap.

In other news, I’ve pulled a muscle in my back and it hurts like HELL. It’s making me realise I don’t know enough swear words in enough languages! The last couple of days haven’t been great at work doing repetitive movements, plus going shopping today and carrying the heavy stuff upstairs has taken its toll. I’ve been using a hot-water bottle when I can to try and sooth it, but google informed me it’s just one of those things that has to heal itself. Pity.

In less than two weeks my next assessment for my course is due and while I’ve written a chunk and actually tried to properly craft my commentary, I’m still having major doubts whether what I have is sufficient. This chapter is much slower than the last one, as a bit criticism on my previous work is that I’ve tried to include too many elements into just a few thousand words of a chapter. I just hope that my slowing down hasn’t slowed down the interest in it. I’m hoping to get a draft completed asap and I’ll post it on the forum to get some feedback.

Beyond that, I’m just thrilled that a Costa Coffee has opened near my house, so I finally have somewhere decent close by to study in! And coffee!

I’ll post again soon, let me know if you have any remedies for back/muscle pain!

e x

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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 Musings, Writing

Swamped

Hello dear readers,

It’s been a crazy busy month. I feel like I’ve barely just gotten my last assessment out of the way and already the next one is due in a couple of weeks. There’s so much to prepare for it, not just the text itself, but the idea and knowing that I will have to do several edits (I hate editing) while trying to bring in concepts that we’ve studied over this block and maintaining an organic development to the chapter. There’s also the commentary where I explain how the idea germinated and developed, what I’ve learned and included from this block into the work and additional readings I’ve been inspired by to help this work.¬† There is also marks allocated to feedback I’ve given on other people’s work, so that’s what’s been taking up my time just now. The Workshop is a great idea in principle, but I’m concerned that for my one piece of writing I submit for feedback I have to give feedback on three other pieces of work. I’ve still plenty of time to get it in, but I’ve already been on it for a few days. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing for it now, but it’s intense giving such serious critique of someone else’s work.

Aside from that I’ve been working pretty much non-stop (yay!) and I’m now a permanent staff member so loads of pressure has been taken off, don’t need to go back to job hunting again. I’m in a good routine with work, I know what I’m doing, the staff seem to like me well enough and I’ve taken on extra hours and shifts where I could.

It’s all working out well for me now, I’m finding a balance but trying to improve everyday to carve out more time for reading, extra reading, and writing for more than just my course. I have a busy day ahead tomorrow with studying, hoping to catch up on everything tomorrow and get a draft of the TMA done as well. I’m trying to get back to blogging more regularly as well, the last few weeks have honestly just flown by in a flash I can’t believe it’s the middle of March already!

Anyway, back to work!

e x

Posted in Books, Education, Goals, Health, life, Musings, rant, Shonda Rhimes, University, work, Writing

Confession: I’m a terrible decision maker

I really am. I am either two ways about something: I love making plans to do something then fret and spend time wondering how I can get out of it; or, I loathe making plans and end up making a stupid choice in the end because I was too indecisive and shouldn’t be allowed to make rash decisions.

Story of my life.

I hate to admit it, but I will. I loved starting uni, and the beginning of each term when I could go full on Rory Gilmore and have a ‘legitimate’ excuse for spending ¬£40 on stationary (not that I don’t already have a house teeming with unused pens and notepads). However, as the term progressed and either my insomnia or hypersomnia got the better of me, I found it harder and harder to stick to my class schedule. In my final year I was between 6-8 hours of classes a week AND I STILL MANAGED TO SKIP TWO OF EACH over a 12 week semester of course. Now I know looking back I wonder why I couldn’t just have forced myself to go, I probably did lose some marks here and there for non-attendance but the thrill I got from turning over in bed and going back to sleep was ridiculous. Then I remember the tiredness. It’s not an excuse, but the overwhelming, mind-numbing, soul-draining tiredness that made me fall asleep sitting up at various desks and start to dream while believing that I was still awake, is still such a problem for me that it’s now hard to imagine taking full time classes, constant homework, a part time job, and tutoring as well. I’m actually quite proud then of how I did survive it.

It does bother me, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it now, and it’s why I am¬†the¬†Coffee Queen. And when I go into super sleep mode at night and have wild and fantastical dreams it soothes the creative side of me and gives me such a boost that no caffeinated product on earth has yet managed to achieve. As such, it is mostly an issue on my days off from work, I’ve not been working a lot of hours the last few weeks so realistically I should be managing to get plenty of work done given that I’ve had plenty of off time. NOPE.

I set my alarm early, so I can get up and¬†carpe diem but when it goes off, I have no idea what planet I’m on and flip my phone onto snooze and this routine can last for a couple of hours…. YES, A COUPLE OF HOURS! So that when I do finally remember I had a reason for getting up early, I’m groggy, my eyes are stinging with broken sleep, my head hurts and I feel blah. Plus it’s hours past the time I wanted to get up and I shuffle about like a zombie, caffeine having no effect on me at all.

It becomes a vicious circle, tired and sleepy –> lethargic –> the desire to crawl back into bed –> no creative energy to write or work/no urge to start –> feeling guilty that another day has passed with nothing done when this is my DREAM, DAMMIT!

I know this was something I mentioned in my goals list that I wanted to work on for this year but I’m trying to create a kind of Cheat Sheet of inspiration, things that no matter how tired or blah I am I’ll be sparked into action by reading them. Something that definitely helped recently was reading Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes, that I spoke briefly about in the last post, I just finished it last night and it has had such a profound effect on me. I know I need to start living more YES and hiding away less. Blogging has helped a lot as well. I’ve had blogs before but then really lacked the focus of what I was trying to do with them or I was too nervous about certain people reading certain things, whereas now, I cleaned up my facebook so everyone still there can read or not read my posts but I have nothing to hide. I changed how I approach blog posts, not just travel, languages, writing, but everything all of me, all that is me. I can’t split myself off the way others can, no one interest really takes the lead over the others, they are all important to me and in different ways, at different times.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to say this blogging exercise has got my creative juices flowing again, I think it’s more the venti caramel coffee soya frappuccino next to me that’s done the trick. I’ll implore you once again to read Shonda Rhimes book (99p on kindle) and I’ll get back to writing my script that I’ve been procrastinating on for too long.

Luego

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 Fitness, Food, Goals, Health, life, Musings

Resolutions 2018

So in the last post I touched on the idea of those pesky New Year’s Resolutions we start the year with, often without enough determination to see us past the middle of January. Or when we mess up, we throw them out altogether, as unattainable and pointless. But here I’ve compiled my list of things I want to constantly work on and improve forever, not just in the new year and not just until I have a bad day and ‘mess up’.

  1. Work more effectively – This is a big one for me, I’m a terrible procrastinator and will find 127309274930 other things to do instead of just getting on with the one piece of work that I need to get done urgently. But it’s more than not procrastinating, it’s making proper use of actual working time. I’ll need to get the Forest App or use the Pomodoro technique to help me focus again. Otherwise I can spend five hours attempting to do something while really spending most of that time being distracted.
  2. Be more mindful¬†– Ooh, that’s a buzzword. It’s not a cliche, but I need to spend more time being in the moment when I’m doing something. This goes back to me becoming too distracted with things. Like when I studied Photography all I wanted to do was French, and when I was back doing French I had all these ideas for things I could have done with the resources I had in my Photography course. Not being in the moment can definitely lead to problems of regret and getting one’s ass kicked by hindsight later on.
  3. Stop living in the past¬†– It’s a bad habit but I’m not alone and now that I have admitted it to myself I know it’s something to be worked on. Instead of ‘I should have done this when X happened’, I need to admit that all that has happened has happened the way I let it happened and the only thing I can control now is now and the future. It’s important to learn lessons from the past and apply them to our current/future situations but not to dwell on them as if we can change them.
  4. Do more of what I enjoy¬†– This is a no brainer, but how often do you go to bed at night and are bombarded with thoughts about all the things you meant to do today or wished you’d made time to do… or feel guilty for not having done it? Well, it happens to me quite a lot. And I’m not talking out there wild stuff like flying off to Belgium every weekend (oh, if only!) but simple things like spending some time crocheting my lovely blanket that I’ve not touched in months, or going back to refresh some Italian grammar, writing a new blog post, trying out a new recipe. Simple, but often overlooked, especially in the madness of the working week, it is as important as meditation and self-care, you need to do a little soul feeding as well.
  5. Stop biting my finger nails¬†– Yeah, I know, ick! I used to do it when I was a nervous little kid, then in high school I started growing some of my nails (weak nails though) and fell out of the habit… Then I moved to Spain and with the shitstorm of nerves and anxiety that that brought, I found myself suddenly back to biting. I can’t stop and I need to, but still my nails break really easily and then we’re back to square one. I bought really nice nail polishes from Avon so I would stop, only thing is I hate painting my nails (shaky hands).
  6. Be more careful with diet/alcohol consumption and exercise¬†– This one has pretty much dealt with itself since the new year began. I wrote before how I keep getting ill, so my diet has been stripped back so much. I haven’t felt much like drinking any alcohol, just had a couple of small, low alcohol beers and stopped before any pain could appear. I haven’t been to the gym… much or at all in 2018 but working retail has kept me moving and on my feet, but I am determined to get back in asap before I lose the benefits of my retail induced weight loss. In regards to exercise, I’m back at full fitness since my accident last April, my knees dead on are still very tender but everything else seems to be working smoothly (fingers crossed) and it’s just a matter of getting started back at it and KEEPING MOVING! Being still is one of my favourite hobbies and I know it’s not a good thing.
  7. Being more assertive and not listening to others’ opinions –¬†I’ve spoke about this before, but my life is my own and I’m in charge of what I do, will do, should do. My opinions are valid and my choices are mine to make… I need to believe more in myself, my choices and accepting that they might differ greatly from what other people think. You can’t be a people pleaser.

Well, that’s a fairly comprehensive list of all that I want to work/focus on in the coming year. But believe me, it’s by no means an exhaustive list. I may add to it as the months go by, and might even give it its own page too to serve me as a reminder of what I want 2018 to be.

Who else has made plans, goals, or wants to see change in 2018? Let me know in the comments below.

Baci

e x

 

 

 

Posted in Books, Films, Musings, Outings

Chill Time

Went into town yesterday to run a few errands and hit Starbucks because I wanted my free, extra stars they offered¬†bribed me with. Cover photo is of my yummy soya latte and I started reading Robin Lane Fox’s book on Alexander the Great (which provided the context and inspiration of the Alexander film by Oliver Stone). I’m loving the book thus far and I have loved the movie for years, despite the naysayers. Ultimately, Alexander lived so long ago but left little primary sources behind and much of what we have to read about him was written by people centuries after him and cannot be held as wholly accurate. But neither can all the stories be dismissed, something had to be true. So in this book Fox is giving his own understandings of how things might have gone down, including all the sordid stuff.

Obviously every time I read about Alexander the Great I picture Colin Farrell. Not a bad thing at all.

Starbucks was really warm, which was a welcome respite from the freezing, icy, winter weather which seems to be staying. Couldn’t help overhearing the loud conversation next to me, most of which was boring and inaccurate, but it’s not proper to jump into someone’s conversation to correct them. Most painful part was when one girl gave her friend a bunch of presents (late birthday, I assume?) and then proceeded to ‘giftsplain’ every single present as she unwrapped it while the other girl had to feign interest. Eek!

Hasta luego!

P.S. I got a brand new copy of Robert Graves The Greek Myths for a fiver! From WHSmith in the sale section. So jazzed!

e x