Tuesday, 29 June 2010

What's the smile for...

I got a provisional job offer today, they have to check my references and that I'm not a criminal (ah, the CRB check, what joy!) and then I start next week. I find out what hours I get (annoyingly it's only part time) and then a spot of training and I'm good to go. I had the interview yesterday, some people move fast.
It's not really a job I want, it's not in the arts, there's not going to be a stepping stone to working in a theatre. But it's a job, a real, paid, position, and it's mine. At last.
It's been an uphill struggle. I've been brought really low by all this. I'm going to keep applying for things that appeal to me more, that I think are more relevant. But for now, I'm working (fingers crossed for glowing references) and I can finally buy things without stressing about how much everything costs (ok, it's a recession, and I'm not a millionaire, but it'll be my money, and I'm no longer a burden on the taxpayer).
So yay!! Today's a good day.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Summer in the city...

...and it's more than just hot, it's really sticky!! Despite a damp start, summer has definitely arrived in my corner of the UK, and it's shaping up to be a long, hot one. Which is bad news, as I may have mentioned before, for my pale skin. My mum likes to make fun of my collection of recessive genes (blue eyes, blonde hair, lefthandedness) that mark me out as different from the rest of my family, even my blue-eyed dad is darker skinned than me. He says it's from a life spent working outdoors (which is not true). My mum has mediterreanean blood, and copes better with this oppressive heat and stupid amounts of sunshine. It's Britain, famously cold and damp!! I don't particularly like rain, but a break in the weather would be good. Please and thank you, Universe. Glastonbury is taking place this weekend, and it looks like it'll be nice weather, my friend is volunteering there with Oxfam, so I hope it stays nice for her sake, but that's all the way in Somerset, so a splash of rain here would have little effect there. My dad's stocked up for a barbecue this weekend, and presumably he intends to watch the boring ol' World Cup. It's also Wimbledon fortnight, but tennis holds no interest for me. I guess I'll be spending the weekend reading and watching Glasto highlights, and maybe a film or two. What are your plans for the weekend? Anyone doing something fun and a little bit different?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Daddy Cool

I've never been a Daddy's Girl (that's my sister's role) but I do love my dad. We jokingly refer to him as Papa Bear, he can be gruff and grumpy, but he's got a good heart. Around the house his role is Mr Fix-it, he's a trained engineer and electrician and is probably sick of whiny voices asking him to fix everything that gets broken. Today he's sitting watching the World Cup, England isn't playing, but he is a man! Later he'll finish reading the paper, maybe start one of the books I gave him this morning (he likes thrillers) or watch a film. I'm too big to sit on his lap and watch TV like I did as a kid, and I may tease him a lot (he's the family joker, so this particular habit is all his fault!) but there's no one quite like my dear old dad. Happy Father's Day!

My dad, looking very suave

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Lessons I Have Learnt (1)

  • Never go in the ball pool. They may look like great fun. But they're not. I used to work as a weekend receptionist at a kids play centre. I know how rarely those balls are cleaned. I've seen the stuff that somehow ends up in there. I have absolutely no desire to ever encounter a ball pit again.
  • Never cut your own hair. My sister did this once. Admittedly it wasn't all her hair. She chopped a hairbraid out of it (one of those ones where they wrap coloured thread round the hair). She was left with a weird bit of hair that stuck up in the air. We called her 'spike' til it grew out. It took ages.
  • Always take a chance. This I learned the hard way. I'm Little Miss Cautious. I never take risks, it could be boring, I usually say it's the safer option. But from watching other people take a chance and succeed or fail, make something happen, I wish I was braver. Of course there are some things you should never risk (your health, life or other people's), I just need to learn to take the chance more often.
  • No is not a bad word. I used to be one of those people who wanted to please everyone. Maybe it's because I get quite shy around strangers, or that I find it hard to make new friends, but I'd always say yes to whatever boring task I was being asked to do. Too eager to please. I've found it doesn't really get you anywhere. Saying no won't get you into trouble, standing up for yourself is a good thing.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

"Why does everyone keep mentioning apples?"*

For the last couple of months I've been heading out on the last Wednesday evening to the Science Museum, here in London, for their awesome, fun, series of events called Lates. Each one has a different theme (I've been to Genius, The Science of Beauty, Extraordinary Earth), and it's free! Aimed at bringing adult visitors into the museum for a child-free evening full of learning and being a bit silly! There are bars on each floor serving wine and beer (and soft drinks), the great shop is open, as is the restaurant. Perfect if you miss playing with the science-based toys in the Launchpad.
At each event, there have been actors dressed as famous figures from scientific history. Last time I got my photo taken with Isaac Newton! There's also silent disco, a pub quiz, live music, dance performances, a comedy show, and various themed activities. At the Science of Beauty, there were also freebies, I made off with some day cream, a make-up bag, bronzer, lipgloss and more (the event was sponsored by L'Oreal, so these were not cheapy products).
I'm planning to go to the next one (entitled The Science of You), in a couple of weeks, with some friends, and have more fun, watching the bubble show, pretending to learn while actually being a bit silly, and reverting to being a child, just for one night!

*Sir Isaac asked us that!

I Don't Want to be a Princess

Over at Diamonds and Toads (a really interesting fairy tale blog, check it out!) there's an article called Princessitude, in which the author looks at the reasons why wanting to be a princess is not necessarily a good thing and what the real fairy tales have to say about it. We live in a Disney-fied world, where all the unpleasant things in life are often tidied out of the way. The original fairy tales, as collected by the Brothers Grimm (so apt) end badly. In Snow White, the Wicked Queen is made to dance in shoes of red hot iron at the wedding. Prince Charming definitely isn't. He offers to buy the dead SW from the dwarves, so at the worst he's a necrophiliac. Sleeping Beauty isn't as lovely either.
I never wanted to be a princess. Yes I watched the films as a kid, I still have a few. But as a lit geek, I did read them all as well. All the gory bits. The conclusion I drew was that being a princess was boring, you have to sit around waiting to be rescued. I'd rather have magic powers. The only witch that ever scared me was the Baba Yaga, she's a Russian witch, and she's creepy stuff.
There are very few stories I can think of where the heroine rescues herself, or the prince. I know there are some rewritten versions with a feminist slant, and the heroine is strong and nobody's princess.
One author I've loved for years, is Tamora Pierce. When I was about 11, I read her Song of the Lioness quartet, which features a wonderful heroine, Alanna, who disguises herself as a boy in order to become a knight. Now that's my kind of girl! All of Pierce's books feature strong girls and women, doing the rescuing, fighting alongside the men, and some of them are princesses. I have pretty much everything she's written and I haven't grown out of her yet. And that's the thing. Brave, feisty heroines. They're important.
I was a huge Buffy fan as a kid (still am). She was another girl who slayed the monsters herself, and didn't need to be rescued all the time.
It's important to realise that yes, fairy tales are important to storytelling history, they show where we came from, but we shouldn't use them as life models. Stand on your own two feet, be your own hero/ine and fight your own battles.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Job Hunting is no fun whatsoever...

My dream job would be something that involved sitting around reading and not a lot else! Alas, this has so far proved elusive. I've been applying for jobs like a maniac recently, being unemployed is boring and if I don't get out of the house soon, I'm going to go crazy!! I'm a victim of the recession, there were budget cuts where I used to work and I was one of the unlucky ones for whom there's no work anymore.
I'll admit I was lazy, when I graduated I had work, so I didn't rush to find anything, I figured when I needed it, there would be a job for me. Unlike those in finance and the government I had no idea there was this monstrous recession coming, I grew up in the booming Nineties, also I'm rubbish with money. I have no head for maths, I'm an English grad, bring me words, that's something I can handle. So that brings us to now.
The job market has collapsed, I know I'm not the only one left without a job or a plan. I've had student part-time slightly rubbish jobs since I was 18, so I have some experience, I'm ridiculously over qualified for some of the things I've been applying for, but still no luck.
I've been a waitress (very briefly), a receptionist, a shop assistant (voluntary), and looked after other people's kids (I never want to do that again, ever.) and apparently this means I'm completely useless. I've had one interview. One. And I didn't get the job. That's my life. I never get a break. It's driving me nuts. The longer I go without work, the harder it'll be to find it, when, if ever, the job market picks up again and people start hiring. It's exasperating. It really is.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Losing my Best Friend

D and I have been friends since we were 11 and best friends since we were 17. I'm 23, and it feels like we've known each other for a lot longer. Once we even bought each other the exact same thing for Christmas. When I lived on campus and had no Internet we wrote each other actual letters and sent silly things through the post, I still have everything she ever sent me. We used to go on ridiculous drives in her car, which usually involved us getting lost or stuck on the ring road, going round and round. We shopped, we lunched, we Starbucks'd, we ate our body weight in Nandos, we watched movies, we got drunk, we ate an absurd amount of ice cream, we wandered round town centres, we went to the cinema, we went to the theatre and almost froze to death (we were not adequately dressed for December). Endless private jokes, that sound like nonsense to everyone else. There are thousands of memories rattling around in my brain. Then, last year it all changed.
D met her boyfriend and started her new job, it changed her, took her over. She came to see me after I had my wisdom teeth out and was whacked out on painkillers. All she talked about was her trip to Dubai, with the boyfriend (I've never met him) and showed me literally dozens of photos on her phone. I barely remember it because of the interesting selection of meds I was on (everything was fuzzy).
My birthday rolled around, we hadn't spoken as much as we used to, but I figured that was normal, we were busy people. I threw a party, my parents were out of the country and my sister is highly bribable. A bunch of friends came, she was too busy seeing the boyfriend.
I have to point out, I wasn't jealous, and I don't resent her happiness, not one bit. But it was my birthday. One day of the whole frigging year.
She turned up about an hour after it started, he sat outside in the car, would have been nice if he'd come in and said hello. She couldn't stay, they were just passing through, to give me a card from both of them (bearing in mind, I have never met him and he didn't come in) and a box of chocolates that hadn't even been wrapped. (We are both big present givers, in the past the gifts have always been perfect).
Then she was gone.
I sent her a text to invite her to Sunday lunch a week later, she was busy with her boyfriend.
November: I was on a teaching course (learning how to teach English as a foreign language), she was also doing training for her job. I wrote her a quick facebook wall post, just to check in.
The response was unexpected to say the least. She private messaged me to tell me to never mention what she does for a living on her wall, anybody could read it. I sent back a message pointing out that all she had to do was change her privacy settings (her job isn't illegal or dodgy, the opposite really).
That was pretty much the last time we communicated.
Til this week. I was at another close friend's birthday party and I mentioned her. This friend asked me why I had referred to her as my best friend. It's an automatic response. D is someone I love and care about, an extension of my family, the person I trust the most.
So I thought, I'd reach out, see if our relationship was salvageable. I couldn't find her on facebook. I assumed she'd left it or something. No. Through her sister (who I am still in contact with) I discover she's still on facebook, we still have a bunch of friends in common. However she's disconnected from me.
I sent a friend request. I'm not crossing my fingers. I have no idea what has brought this about. It's breaking my heart. I'm pondering emailing her and asking what's going on.
I know she doesn't read this. Very few people do. Maybe the virtually psychic link we've had all these years is still working and she'll somehow know I miss her. That it's horrid. That I'm sorry if I didn't try hard enough to keep our friendship going. That I'd just like to know how she is.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


I'm still trying to sort my life out, and so I've been a little absent on the blogging front. I have a list of stuff I want to write about, but just no drive to actually put fingers to keyboard. Bear with me, and soon there'll be something that's possibly worth reading.

My dad is back home, and on a whole new bunch of medication, he might still need an operation, and at worst, a pace-maker, it depends on how well these meds work. Thank you to those who sent their best, it was massively appreciated. 

I'm still posting book reviews over on ABADBW I don't need to feel inspired to write them, it's not particularly creative. But if you're looking for something to read, go there!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

My dad is in the hospital. He wasn't feeling well yesterday, his heart was beating arrhythmically, and he went to the doctor, who sent him to be admitted at the hospital where I was born. He's having surgery tomorrow to get his heart back into rhythm. I'm a little worried, but I know he's in the right place and is getting treatment. My mum's gone to visit him this evening and take some things he asked for. It's weird, my dad is a big strong man, when he gets sick he usually keeps working unless he's really ill, this is the worst he's ever been. His heart has been troubling him for a while, but he was on medication which seemed to help, then the doctors took him off it, and now he's in the cardiac ward. Hopefully he'll be home tomorrow evening. It's very quiet at home without him.