askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
What a year. What a life. What a world.

I feel the need to tidy away 2011, make room for 2012 but attempts to do so seem doomed to failure as a sense of hopelessness in front of 'fate' overwhelms me each time I try. The irony of course being that I don't believe in fate.

I've been trying to form in my mind the things I want for 2012 in the belief that determination is 90% of the route to realisation. 'Space' is right up at the top - I simply can't live in my parents house, if I want to be alone I have to sit in my bedroom. If I want to cook I have to squeeze in the kitchen in between them being in there and endure endless questions. I really value silence and solitude and time to myself and for the last year and a bit that has been completely absent. The main block on that road is not knowing where I want that space to be and whether I should rush for the short term pay off (very tempting) or play a longer game for savings and a place in September. Much of this is dependent on the current PhD application I have.

The PhD is second on the list; I am struggling to motivate myself to complete the application which has been further frustrated by my laptop killing itself this week so any work must be done in an environment I don't enjoy working in - namely on the family PC in the spare room. I am pushing myself to have the application in by today (which is difficult as yet again I can't get a second referee and have been told in fairly unequivocal terms by my first referee that this is the last reference he will write for me, which whilst fair given it is now 4 years since I started my MA, royally fucks me over for any future plans) and the funding application in by the end of next week. I am basically shooting in the dark though as have nowhere to turn to ask for assistance in writing the application and online guides only tell you how - not if what you've written is any good. I had a dream where the person I have asked to supervise me told me my application was a pile of shite and there was noway I would get a place. Thanks for that one subconscious.

Third and finally on the 2012 wish list is a relationship. This one really complicates the first wish the most - where I choose to live and perhaps buy a house, is going to impact on my potential love life. There do not seem to be any women my age in the area. There are older women (significantly older, I have no problem with 8 years or so difference) and there are teenagers who are just leaving for university or at university. There are no mid-late twenty somethings who have ended up somewhere they never intended to be and would quite like to meet someone and build a life. Buying a house in this area feels like condemning myself to singledom for the foreseeable future and I don't want to make a potential positive of owning my own home into a life sentence to loneliness. Unlike the above two where there are numerous routes and options available to me this 'wish' is the one which seems to pose the most insurmountable obstacle to my own happiness.

I feel more conflicted and lost now than I ever have before and that in and of itself is quite distressing. I'm at an age now where I thought I would have things straightened out and I'm angry at both myself and the world for not delivering on that - I feel I've let myself down. It struck me yesterday, as I walked past my University college graduation photo in the hall, that 2012 will be 6 years since I first graduated and whilst I would not claim for a moment those 6 years have been wasted - I travelled round the world and I lived in a great city and I got a good Masters degree - I still find it hard to understand how 6 years could have passed without me getting a clearer idea of not only where I was going but where I am now. Indeed, in that 6 years I've lost some of the things I thought were a sure thing - like the certainty of marriage and not returning to live with my parents.

I recognise of course that we live in difficult times; the economy is poor and both jobs and funding for educational opportunities are scarce. I am lucky enough to be in a stable, secure job with strong prospects; I regret that I cannot *feel* the meaning of that though, I simply acknowledge it to be true. I came across a Nietzsche quote last night which, whilst I do not know the context of the writing it was taken from, certainly seems to express the reason I cannot settle at this time for 'adequate'; Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?

How true that is - something I feel all the more keenly since the death of my colleague in November.

Life is a thousand times too short to live without fulfilment and joy.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)

Wanted to write an entry about life, love and queer rage but somehow I can only find the word when the computer is turned off and I am reading/watching a film/sewing. It's as though I have to unfocus my mind in order to bring anything to coherent realisation and the moment I try to pin it down it slips away.

Suffice to say then, I feel hopeless and trapped but endeavour, every day, to try and lift that feeling through action. As the core reality of my situation never changes though, that is ultimately futile. Right now, on a Saturday night, I am worrying about work and my self-perceived feelings of failure in my role. I am single handedly responsible for administering the payroll for more than 200 people. That means deducting 9 kinds of pension payments, 8 kinds of union payments, childcare, student loans, National Insurance, PAYE and health insurance from people's pay - some of it is automatically calculated, some of it isn't, and the bits where it goes wrong, or I inherit it as being wrong from other payroll providers is all down to me to manually figure out. All that responsibility, a terrible wage and hundreds more small but 'vital' jobs to do? Add that to no formal training WHATSOEVER in the role I have been 'succesfully' fulfilling for the last year and you get a pissed off, overwhelmed and worn down Lizzie.

Whatever.

I got a cat, I called him Vincent. After Vincent Van Gogh who is my most recent love affair. He's proving to be, like all cats, very much his own person and we have moments of oneness and moments of exasperation. I hope to let him out of the house for the first time tomorrow and will be trying the age old tactic of buttering his paws so he comes home.

I'll leave you with photos. Because I've nothing else to give tonight, much as I strain to find it.

   

He has black paw pads - I've never known a cat with all black paws so this makes me think he's pretty special.

Failure.

Jun. 24th, 2011 09:36 pm
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 I didn't win the scholarship.  So my offer letter for Hull to study for my PhD there is not worth the paper it's written on.  My PhD on the establishment of the queer family and the stress it places on heteronormative society will not be written.

After feeling numb for an hour or two, I cried.  Then I felt numb again.  Numb and sad.  So sad, in fact, that everyone at work was concerned I was too stressed.  I took today off, called in sick, and evidently it all kicked off - two of my colleagues went, separately, to our boss to tell her I was over worked and had a workload which was unreasonable for one person.  In fairness, I am doing my job and the job of another person who is on long term sick and that is stressful, but it is good stress - the sort you can manage, and the sort I leave at the door when I go home.  I am absolutely mortified that people said that to the boss, who then went to see my Mum, who also works there, to ask how I was.  My Mum said that more than anything she wanted to explain that I was off because I was so sad about missing out on the PhD scholarship - but of course neither she nor I can tell my boss that I am super sad because I won't be quitting in September - or that I was ever considering doing that.

I really, truly do not know what to do with myself now.  I know I need to move out of my parents - where is the big question.  I desperately want to go back to Brighton but I'm not doing that without a guaranteed job down there paying at least £17k. So do I move out for the short term here and keep looking for Brighton, burning a hole in the small amount I have saved up since living with my parents, or do I stay put and hope that I can save even more for the costly return to Brighton in the near future?

I've had a look and I can't find shit in Brighton job wise.  Also, this feels a lot like the decisive end to PhD dreams.  It's too long and too much of a long shot every time for funding.  I can't risk paying for my first year and hoping to get funding for years 2 and 3 because there is just no guarantee I will get it and then I will be worse off than if I hadn't done a year at all.

I feel like there is just a big gaping void for me stretching out from August.  I simply do not know what to do.

Giving up and drinking myself to death feels like a cracking idea though...
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Tomorrow, at 3:30, it is The Holidays.  School breaks up for an unfathomably luxurious 2 and a half weeks and I don't intend to go in for a single days work (my contract requires me to work two floating weeks during school holidays, I pick when). In preparation for this vast expanse of time I have been ordering books! Books!

Today the first one arrived (Ray Bradbury's The October Country) and I pressed my nose into its pages to inhale the heady scent of a book as old as me (this copy even being published in the same year as me!) and made my way to my book shelf.  Not with any clear design on what I was looking for I started thumbing through books at random. Flicking yellowed pages open and reading snatches of hundred of different stories which all have unique and specific connections to different times and places in my life.

I called to my Mum to read to her from The Wrestling Princess, a staple of my youth being a story about a girl like me - who didn't want to wear dresses or do what the other [girls] Princesses did.  In the end she marries a tiny little man who likes extreme sports, and she drives herself to her wedding in her forklift truck.  I call that 'the Masterplan'.

I caught myself, in the end, just caressing the books.  Running my hands along broken spines and dog eared corners.  Softened covers and torn dust covers.  The [first of the three volumes of The] Chronicles of Narnia lost its spine many years ago.  Frankenstein is held together with good will and possibly the amount of ink which adorns the margins and bottoms of pages. Roald Dahl's are pressed together in a space just a fraction too small for them, Shakespeare and the Romantics luxuriate on a bottom shelf - the higher ones being too prone to bending to hold such weighty tomes.  Lee Edelman sits contentiously against Tess Coslett's collaborative Women, Power and Resistance.

Eventually I tore myself away - although not unburdened - carrying an armful of books to deposit on the bedroom floor I scuttled back across the landing.  Alas, the bedroom floor is already covered in books, zines and cds so the books are now joyfully strewn across the bed....I anticipate I will simply wriggle between them to sleep and awake coughing up bits of Hardy.

As much as I dread the inevitable destruction of society as we know it and living in a failed-utopia/dystopian nightmare I also can't wait for the day I wander into wasteland outside the government approved settlement to find the 'book people' and be asked "what have you to offer [Montag]?"


* Fahrenheit 451

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 One way or another our parents shape our music taste; whether that is because we are busily fleeing anything that sounds like what we were subjected to or because it sounds like home.  I'm also of the opinion that, whatever response you have to your parents music taste on the above spectrum, there is always a single band carried on a generation.  For me, it is the Beatles.  

My Mum - as I have mentioned before - taught me to sing Yellow Submarine as the first song I ever learnt.  The Beatles were - and are - to her the single most important music moment in her life and whilst she saw some awesome bands live in the 60s the only story I ever hear about live music in her youth is the one that got away; her Mum went to buy Beatles tickets for her and her brother but by the time she got to the front of the queue they had sold out, so she bought tickets for the Rolling Stones instead ("I don't think she understood there was a difference", is how my Mum consoles herself on that one).

The band I want to gift to the next generation/my children? The Manics of course.  Not least of all because they will tie very nicely in with all the books I want to gift to my -as-yet-nonexistent- offspring.  What band do you want to pass on?  What music could you not, in good conscience, neglect to force on a new generation of listeners?

I think the most interesting and important aspect of this musical inheritance is the way it enables us to bridge the gap in culture, experience and age.  I could explain - without ever having to lay it out - to my kid that when I was young I felt alienated and desperate to believe that I wasn't living in an Orwellian nightmare - despite the way my peers might behave.  And in listening to the Beatles I learnt about the energy and optimism of my Mum's youth giving way to political upheaval and uncertainty.  In listening to the bands she didn't like; David Bowie, the Beach Boys, I learnt about the things she feared and found unsettling.   And by having my own responses and connections to albums like Pet Sounds, Ziggy Stardust and Rubber Soul, my Mum had a measure of what kind of person I was that comes through much clearer than any heart to heart could be; you can't fake an emotional connection to music. 

My Mum was (and kind of still is - you can't say a bad word about him in our house without her WRATH coming down on you-) a die hard Paul McCartney fan; she was always vaguely dismissive and negative when telling me anything about John Lennon.  Bear that in mind as I tell you that tonight came what I think is the clearest reflection of our relationship as mediated through music;

I stuck Rubber Soul on whilst I played with the rats, my Mum was in the bath in the adjacent room and shouted through the door "I still know every word to these!".  "Of course you do!" I replied.  Shortly after she came out of the bathroom, she pauses for a moment before going into her room and turns to me, saying; "I think you'd have been a John Lennon-er." I smile "yup, I think I would have been."

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 I was going to write about how conflicted I am over what to do about mortgage stuff having been to see a mortgage advisor today and being told it's within my grasp.

I was also going to write about how unrewarding, stressful and frustrating my job is.  How I can't sleep for stress dreams and how tired I am at feeling stupid because I don't have a head for figures and doing payroll - dealing with pensions, tax and factored payments makes me want to smash my head against the desk.

How I am also frustrated, tired and upset by how poorly I grasp mortgage calculations and budgeting for a mortgage - and how I will know if I can afford it when I see the bills.  I have no abstract sense of numbers, interest, percentages....nothing.  I nod and I smile and go "oh I see!" when I am no better informed than I was a moment ago.

And I was going to write about the Manics again, and how simple everything seems when I am in front of them, surrounded by them, immersed.  Which is why I have spent every evening since Saturday watching Manics DVDs and listening to albums, to the exclusion of everything else.

But I'm tired.  And I've summarised. And I want to watch more Manics now.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Share your father's advice.

You can't always call a spade a spade.

I used to get mighty pissed off at school when I would tell my female friends they were being...well, teenage girls.  I've always been quite straightforward and never particularly interested in gossiping about boys/hair/make-up/other friends, I had a tendency to try and resolve situations by being unrelentingly logical and practical - it rarely went down well.

This also applied to people who said stupid stuff, I tend to like to tell them it's stupid.  Not for being malicious just for...stating what the situation is.

Over the years biting my lip has become a hard acquired skill.  I think it's worth it, on the whole; fewer arguments.  More frustration perhaps, in the short term at least. 


Went to look at a new build house today, it was available on shared ownership so I would only have had to have a mortgage for 25% of the value (25% = £27,500) and pay rent on the rest - £191 a month - which I could afford on top of mortgage repayments.  I found it on a property site a week ago.  Mentally, I'd already moved in. I so want to unpack the boxes which currently rest in the attic.  I want to do my food shopping (I pay my parents board on top of rent, they shop early on Saturday morning, I eat the food that turns up in the cupboards), plan a weeks meals and live at the pace I choose - rather than existing next to the unrelenting routine of my parents.  I want to own a house. I want to paint the walls in the holidays from work.  I want to buy bits and pieces from Ikea to furnish it.  I want to adopt two cats (April and Socks from Lincoln Cat Care) and I want to live my life as I wish - that's not here.

Unfortunately, the 4 available shared ownership houses, I was told upon arrival, have already gone, and I can submit an application and be on the waiting list but it was implied that I wouldn't be the top of the waiting list - it'd take a lot of people's applications to fall through before I'd get one.  I still looked around - it was everything I hoped it would be from the photos I'd seen online - completely perfect.  I can see myself living there.  Which is fatal, really.

A week's reprise from how I felt when I wrote this entry, but I feel myself plummeting back there.  I have already looked at other shared ownership properties and not only is 25% a rarity, they are also almost universally flats and without the spacious rooms that this house had.



Friend S, with the brain injury from the car crash, is still recovering.  Spoke to him on the phone for an hour or so tonight and he tried to tell me two separate things he told me last time I saw him - something he never used to do, he's always had an excellent memory.  He also wrote a reply to my facebook status which, whilst I understood and saw the joke he was trying to make, was in no way expressed with his usual verbal dexterity and flair.  Keep encouraging him to be patient as he's very frustrated by getting tired doing normal day-to-day things and everyone telling him to go slowly.  But I'm actually getting impatient for him to be back to normal.  Terrified he will have lost some of his easy intellect and confidence of expression.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 Why am I here?

I mean here, at this point in my life.

I left Brighton because I was stuck; stuck in a flat I didn't like and which vaguely disgusted me.  Stuck in a job I definitely didn't like and paid me a pittance for working really hard and getting dumped on.  And stuck getting gradually deeper and deeper into debt - a little more every month (I had nearly £500 on credit cards to pay off when I moved back to East Mids, which may not sound like much to you, but it was/is a fortune to me - more than half of my monthly salary)

So I made what I thought to be the right decision; after a little over a year of applying for other jobs (a minimum of 2 professional jobs a month, more than that if you count 'unskilled' jobs)  I decided to change my situation, move to the East Midlands and take the financial pressure off myself by living with my parents while I got a new, better job.

2 weeks after moving back, my parents encourage me to take the only job I have applied for in the area; one that offers me less than the £13,000 p/a of my previous job but involves no travel costs.  I take it with the intention of finding another job; except there aren't any other jobs.  And I don't even know what words to search for on job sites.

In the back of my mind the plan was that I would live with my parents for a short while and then, with the earnings of my fabulous new job, get a modest 1 bed, or, if I was working in Nottingham, a flat share there, and live for a year or 2 saving for the PhD.  As it is, I cannot save for the PhD now (I still haven't paid off my overdraft) I have met exactly 0 new people and have seen my old friends from the area twice since I've moved back.

Now I'm not only screwed financially, I'm screwed socially.

I'm also constantly ill.  This stomach thing means I'm losing weight, which presumably means my body isn't processing the things I put in it, so I'm not getting the nutrients I need, so my skin looks like shit, my hair is horrible and my immune system is non existent.  I am constantly tired and am currently suffering through my third major cold in 8 weeks.

I want a new job, but I haven't got the faintest inclination of where to look anymore and I am beyond uninspired: I truly believe I am qualified for nothing because I simply cannot break out of jobs unrelated to my field.  Every now and again inspiration strikes and I seek out entry level jobs in fields I am interested in or full on passionate about; they don't exist.  Or, if they do, they are tailored for candidates who have not been to university, after all those guys need an extra hand up because we graduates live in the land of milk and honey already.


I just need someone to tell me what my skills are and where I should or could look for work.  But they don't do careers advisory services for 26 year old graduates with a job.

I feel like I keep trying to make the right decisions; keep moving, keep reassessing, keep planning.  But none of them work out.  It is no coincidence that yesterday marks the 2 year anniversary of things going to shit.  In a few more weeks it will be 2 years since I graduated from my Masters course.  A few weeks after that will be the 2 year anniversary of my starting a full time job on a £13,000 salary; the job that would 'last just a few months' before I got the £20k one I was 'destined' to have.

I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO FIX THIS.  And there is seemingly nowhere to find out.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
In Nottingham, there is a spectacular building. For reasons I can't fathom, I never knew it was there. [personal profile] harleyrose and I visited Nottingham last month and, as we sat eating curry in Wagamama, became transfixed (or at least I did, I can't speak for [personal profile] harleyrose ) by a building opposite us.

After some googling (and google street view-ing) I discovered the building is called the Newton Building and has recently been restored after multi million pound investment by it's owners, Nottingham Trent University. It is a grade II listed building, those of you who understand architecture speak can click on that link. The rest of you can look at this photo (google images 'Newton Building Nottingham' for more) to begin to appreciate (perhaps) why I had such a strong reaction to this building;

The architect who created the Newton Building did so in 1956, (which shocked me; it seemed like classic 1930s architecture to this dabbling afficinado) was Thomas Cecil Howitt. When I looked him up (on wikipedia, naturally) I discovered he was a Nottingham boy; which pleased me. I have an immutable belief that the very best (for a value of 'best' I doubt is widely shared) architecture comes from local people; there is something perfectly organic about glorious buildings being designed for a city by those the city itself has produced; a self sustaining, self creating metropolis.

More googling. And I discover that the majority of Thomas Cecil Howitt's buildings were designed and built in the 1930's. Was this stunning building out dated and unfashionable when it was built? I've found so little about him and his buildings as yet I simply don't know.

A look at some of his cinemas (a personal favourite of mine, T.C. Howitt is fast becoming one of my favourite architects!) suggest how committed he was to this distinctive, art deco style;
Odeon Cinema, Bristol - with some fabulous history including a murder!
Odeon Cinema, Bridgwater, Somerset - included in this recent(ish) article about lost cinemas.
Odeon Cinema, Western-super-Mare - Described in that link as 'arguably one of the finest buildings constructed for the Odeon cinema chain'

According to Wikipedia, he retired to a house he designed in Orston, which is all of 5 minutes away from my village so I might have to go for saunter.  Finally found something in my surroundings to appreciate that you can't get in Brighton.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
It strikes me it has been some time since I've posted a 'proper' entry.  Perhaps it is time to remedy that.

I have been in my new job for a month now and whilst it does not fulfil me it is a relatively low stress environment and my manager - the school bursar - seems to think I'm a good egg and has made many efforts to stress she wants to help me develop my career in school administration which, whilst it is obviously not my career of choice, is certainly positive - in this financial climate, a manager who has a long term professional development plan for their newest employee after 4 weeks is a rare thing.  In short, my response to  the dilemma I expressed in my previous post, is to try and wait it out. My timescale for a review of where I am is set at the beginning of January, after that? We'll see.

The usual idiosyncrasies of a new work place have begun to reveal themselves to me; half the office hate the manager because she expects them to do work during the day. Instead they sit about, bitching about staff, parents and kids and gossiping with anyone who stops by.  The other half of the office work part time and do three times the work of the full time bitches.  Such is life.  I am, unless you haven't guessed, firmly in the second camp, except I have to be there full time.

And I do mean bitches.  I've never worked anywhere where the majority of the people full on don't like me, or just plain ignore me.  And that really is what happens.  As usual I find I'm getting on better with men in the school than the women and were it not for the guys in premises who pop in from time to time and always have a smile and always enjoy a brief chat and a giggle with me, I think I'd be tearing my hair out.  It has to be said that after a particularly frustrating day today were a couple of my contributions to an office wide conversation were not just ignored, but overruled/immediately restated by someone else, I came home and cried. Le sigh.

I'm finding living back at my parents house not nearly as bad as I anticipated.  In particular, I feel relieved to be back in the countryside.  In the mornings, as I am smoking my cigarette, I watch a family of squirrels play in the same tree.  Yesterday one snuck up on another and pounced....oh his tail.  Then they chased back and forth, tumbling and grabbing each others tails.  It reminded me of this scene in the Sword in the Stone.  

The other day I clambered down the river bank next to my house, as I have so many times before, and watched a vole and, later, a water rat, scramble about on the bank.  Every day my parents garden is filled with birds - just as it has always been, but you forget how much you enjoy seeing these things until all you see for 3 years is seagulls and pigeons.  We have pigeons here too, of course, but they are the beautifully purple wood pigeon.  And those guys mate for life, unlike the promiscuous city birds.  

The last two lunchtimes - partly out of frustration at the office situation, partly because the weather was so enticingly mild - I have left work and done a speedy circuit of the village on my bike in my lunch half-hour.  It's been nice.

It's not all good though. I'm aware - acutely aware - for the first time just how oppressive queer invisibility is.  There is a teacher at the school who I knew was a dyke the first time I met her.  This week a PGCE student started in her department and she is also, clearly, a dyke.  The urge to just seek them out one lunch time and exclaim "gay! you guys are gay! so am I! Can we talk about gay please?! do you know any gay bars? Can you take me to some?!"

...Which is absurd of course, and unimaginably embarrassing were I wrong (although I'm sure I'm not) and I'd be pissed as hell if someone said that to me BUT. I miss teh gays!  I miss a gay on every corner, as provided by Brighton, and I miss people asking after your "partner" instead of your "boyfriend" before they know for sure.  And I miss people not doing that surprised face/quick hide it look when you casually correct their "did your boyfriend" in your answer (e.g. "no, she.....") And I miss wearing whatever clothes I want, instead opting for clothes that won't get me heckled in on the streets of Grantham.

How I hate Grantham.

All that said? I guess I'm comfortable. Actually, I might go as far as happier. But not content.  More factors need to be present in my life before I can claim content.  And less bursting into tears because everyone at work is mean.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 David Tennant returns to all screens showing the BBC next month in 'Single Father'  As a David Tennant fan, I am jolly excited about this.

I turn to my Mum and announce to her the screening date (Sunday 10th October according to the David Tennant page on twitter) and she asks what it is about...

"I don't know...a single father, I suspect"
"Oh......but he's not a single father is he? He doesn't even have kids"
"No, but he wasn't a Time Lord either"
".....Yes he was!"

Hmmm.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
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