askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
It's getting to the point in my PhD now where I'm just circling - revising and editing everything. The only 'fresh' content I have left to write is the introduction and conclusion and, by definition, there is not much new I'll be putting into that, just summing up and contextualising.  It's getting harder and harder to write my thesis because of this.  The creative, blank page stage is in some ways very intimidating, but it's also quite freeing - there's no wrong place to start, just start throwing stuff at the page, deal with what sticks later.  Now is about focus, detail, concentration.  Honing my argument, tightening up holes, reading 20 books to generate 5 solid references to support one framing sentence.  It's peddling faster than ever to move slower and slower.

This is, in some ways, good. I'm firmly moving into the final stage of writing and the end is in sight.  Within 6 months I could have a full draft with a reasonable expectation I'll only have minor corrections to make before having a manuscript suitable for submission.  In other ways, it's never been harder than right now.

I'm exhausted; intellectually, emotionally, mentally.  And physically I'm in bad shape; my shoulder injury (displaced/separated ACJ) is at its worst, constant pain with the only variation being how much pain I am in each day.  I have an MRI on Thursday and a consultation with a surgeon in October.  I have done *everything* I could to fix this without surgery - 2 years of physio (over 3 years) where I did every exercise at home between sessions I was directed too, I've had 3 steroid injections into the joint, 3 x-rays and 2 ultra sounds.  And still I am in pain.  Still.

There is, in some respects, light at the end of the tunnel - it's reasonable to hope surgery will resolve the problem but, if it doesn't, nothing will.  That's terrifying.  Also terrifying is the prospect of more pain - that's guaranteed immediately after the operation for a minimum of 2 weeks followed by pain as I get muscles back up to strength.  And, perhaps most gut-wrenchingly, is the uncertainty of finances during re-cooperation after the operation.  

I don't get sick pay from my job teaching at the university because I'm on a zero hours contract and it's looking like I'm going to be having operation at end of year or early next year and thus unable to commit to taking on teaching during the spring term so I could potentially lose out on 4 months of money.  

I have carefully, excruciatingly carefully, saved up during the last 5 years and have precisely enough money to live on, pay rent, etc, for the next 12 months.  Every week and month I am out of action for as I recover from operation is time I am basically wasting money - as I won't be able to work on publications or thesis revisions, or teach, or apply for jobs.  The big fat gaping hole that faces me as I draw closer to the end of my PhD is made exponentially worse when I consider facing financial insecurity again.

I am fortunate in that my parent will not allow me to go hungry or homeless.  But they also don't have the resources to pay my rent; their help whilst appreciated and fortunate, would take the form of me moving in with them. Again. 200 miles from Brighton.  At the age of 32.

Everything is very uncertain. Everything is gradually getting harder and harder, more and more intense, and with every step forward I am more and more committed to this path which has absolutely nothing at the end of it unless I can generate opportunity, financial security, a career etc.  And god damn it, my shoulder hurts so much.  Chronic pain is fucking horrible.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
In response to some persistent themes being expressed on various platforms of late, or, the 'feminist' return of body fascism;
I shave my legs because I want to.  I like the way skin feels against skin. I like the way clothes feel against skin. I do not like the way hair feels against skin or clothes.  I shave my arm pits because as clean as you are, you'll never find an anti perspirant that works as well when it is applied to hair covered skin.  All the hair removal and trimming I do is because I like it.  Society has not compelled me to do it.  My bare legs are not representative of my subjugation to pervasive beauty narratives.  My clean shaven armpits are indicative only of what I find to be aesthetically pleasing and what gives me confidence regarding my personal hygene.  Do not assume differently without asking me, or any of the other women you are battering with your rhetoric.  Thank you.

On queer liberation;
It is no doubt the proliferation of mediocre to poor dramas on tv of late centring on both fictional and real life gay men and their lives and loves, but increasingly I recognise and understand why lesbians wished to campaign for gay lib separately than gay men.  I also feel the strong tug of obscurity as the voices of queer women throughout history go largely unrecorded and so the obsessive bio-pic making so recently in vogue has no material from which to draw.  I sense also that - in the programming directors minds - the 'edginess' of making a film about men having sex and putting it on at 9pm on BBC2 would be lost were it instead about two women.  Female sexuality is, after all, neither urgent nor insistent nor selfish.  Women do not fuck but make love.  Or so social norms would have us believe, and to counter those ideas is to shoot too often over the head of the viewers,  How to explain that urgent sexuality and sexual satisfaction is not an exception to femininity or characteristic only of lesbianism?  On the occasions strong representations of female centred sexuality occur it is, more often than not, presented cheaply and sordidly - the atrocious scripts and production values on both the Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet serve as excellent examples.

I cannot think of a single film which concerns a lesbian relationship as it's primary focus which is either beautiful or moving.  I can think of plenty which are trite and poorly executed and a hundred more which have only sold because queer women are so desperate for filmic representation they will buy and watch any old crap - I count myself among that desperate majority.

I have lost interest in stories about gay men struggling in historically-hostile times; they speak to me no more than a mediocre romantic storyline in a heterosexual drama does.  I always felt that LGBT history was a shared discovery, that hearing from one group can tell us about another/our own, but I see now that was naive.  I want to know about the lives of the women who have brought the world to the point it is at now for me - as a queer woman.  My social ancestors are silent - or at the very least silenced - in the current trend for period dramas about minority groups.  

On the ignorance of youth
I was in STA Travel today with a friend from work; we are probably going on holiday for a fortnight in July/August.  The travel agent was suggesting modifications/changes to the route I had in mind, after she mentioned Prague and I rejected it as I have already been there and she went back to furiously tapping away on her computer I turned to my friend, pointed to a photo from the old square in Prague and showed him the hotel I had stayed at for 2 nights.  I commented, in telling the story of how we ended up there and not in the hostel we had booked, that 'and they were also lovely there; they didn't bat an eyelid at the fact we were gay and sharing a double room".  He replied, shocked "is that something that happens then - is that a problem?".  "Yes," I said "indeed, in Paris we were initially refused the key to the double room we had booked (at a major hotel chain no less) until another member of staff intervened".  I watched the information processing on his face; I'm not sure he really believes the world is like that, even now.  Maybe another day I'll tell him about my friends who got beaten up by some thugs in a gay bar, for being gay, whilst the bar staff looked passively on.

On what my life is like of late;
I wake up every morning before my alarm goes off.  I trudge to the bathroom to shower.  I cry as I wash, dress and eat before leaving the house.  I pass through my days like a zombie and I am ready to go back to bed and to sleep at 3pm. I force myself to stay up until 10pm.  I cannot sleep.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
I was 15 the first time I experienced a bout of depression.  In its course, it cost me my friends and my confidence.  Every bout since has, one way or another, cost me something too.

I 'realised' when I was 15 there was no point in anything, so I stopped talking and doing much of anything.  It all just felt....pointless.  My friends begged to know what was wrong, then they bargained with me to reveal my secret, then they got angry at me.  When I 'came out' of it, as it were, they asked again.  'Nothing to tell', I said - I felt like my realisation was too awful to share, too absolutely true (like in the Radiohead video!) so I kept it to myself.   This made my friends more angry.  And then, one day, they cornered me, all 4 of them.  And they yelled at me; said I was paranoid and selfish and annoying and worthless and demanded I apologised to them for being those things and upsetting them.  I refused, cried, shook and just asked for them to accept the absent answer.  But they couldn't, or wouldn't accept that, so they stopped being my friends and for a while I had no friends at all.  And that was kind of crap. 

I feel like every conflict which has ever arisen between me and those around me as a result of my lurching in and out of depressive periods in the 11 years since then has merely been a more subtle, refined version of that argument.  In essence, it's always about the same things; my inability to answer, my being awful to be around during those times, their frustration, and our mutual miscommunication.


These days manic periods provide me with the feeling I am managing to make connections, build bridges and improve my lot.  Frequently, in the cold light of day/non-mania, I realise I am just as socially ineffective during these periods and surely more annoying as I dominate conversations and babble away, laughing at my own jokes and interrupting everyone who tries to make a comment.  Predictably, this recognition of who I have been over the past few days/weeks brings with it renewed despair and depression.


This Sunday gone I felt it all falling away from me again, just like it did that very first lonely, disorientating time when I was 15, and in fear and panic I deleted my livejournal (for the first time in it's 7 year history, I might add) and my facebook account.  It may not have been the best way forward - socially - and these may not be permanent changes, but in the frantic anxiety of the moment it was, and remains, the right decision.  A couple of people have passed on messages that some people were worried about my sudden disappearance which, thoughtlessly, I didn't consider or anticipate and for causing that concern I apologise.  Right now, I need to run a little.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

June 2017

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