Looking Ahead to April (incredibly boring post for my benefit not yours)

April is deadline city, and after some major and irreversible setbacks in my personal life I am raring to meet them! By breaking down my work into manageable chunks, keeping non-work related tasks on my to-do list and reminding myself that I enjoy what I do, that I am doing well, and that my life in general is in order, I am hoping to be able to motivate myself to put one foot forwards, and then another, and then another. To say that there’s light at the end of the tunnel would be the wrong metaphor – I’m nearing the centre of a maze that has confounded me, but then I found my way.

To Do Before The End of March:

  • Finish at least one blog post (1/2 hr)
  • 500 words a day (2 hrs a day?)
  • Exercise – go to the gym in a morning (50 mins inc shower)
  • Read at least one more for-pleasure book (1/2 day? don’t pick Anna Karenina!)
  • Take dresses to the charity shop (1/2 hr, you can do it on your way to work)
  • Make sure all utilities know you’ve moved out (1 hr max)
  • At least have the bones of Beckett essay (4-5 hrs, can be spread out)
  • Message friends you haven’t messaged back – sorry P 😞 (like 5 mins wtf why is this so hard for me?!)

A Short, Enjoyable and Achievable List of Aims for Once My Work is Done.

  • Finish a long piece of writing
  • Read a long book

This IWD, these are the women who inspire me.

What inspires us can change over time. As our thinking develops and changes we seek new heroes who speak to the things we come to value. Every girl* should have more than one hero: your interests, values and pleasures are formed by your unique experiences, and you should have an idol for every one of them. A style icon; a political hero; a favourite character. Here are just a few of mine – you should definitely follow the links to be inspired.

the activistviola-gregg-liuzzo-370152-1-402
Viola Liuzzo has been a hero of mine since I first read about her. She is the ultimate ally: impassive, helpful, dedicated. As a cis-gender, middle-class white educated woman most fights for injustice are not mine – as a person who lives in the world, though, all injustices are mine. Luizzo used her power in the most effective way to benefit a cause. She didn’t step into the spotlight, she didn’t gain from it as an individual. Her actions taught me the lessons I hope to embody and shown me that the consequences of occupying that space can be profound and worth it.

the researchers200_karen.chapple
I don’t know much about Karen Chapple’s work. I’m not a geographer or a city planner – her academic interests don’t even fall into the same school as mine let alone overlap. But her fascination is fascinating to me, and her self-evaluation as she goes about her business is something I want to embody. Academia is not a high castle in which we can objectively state this and that, and Chapple’s attitude reminds me of this. It also reminds me that sharing your passion widely is more valuable and interesting than keeping it to yourself.

the entrepreneurCaitlin_Doughty_in_red_evergreen_background
Caitlin Doughty is, really, more of an activist or a philosopher than an entrepreneur. I hate entrepreneurs. I hate businesses that build themselves from nothing on the backs of workers just to stick a plaster over some problem they have noticed in the world. Doughty wants nothing more than her own business to fail due to a radical shift in mainstream Western attitudes. By asking profound, scary questions (and giving answers with warmth, humour and no judgement), Doughty gives control to people who never knew they were missing it. Using new medias she has shone a light into the strange (peculiarly interesting) area that is her home territory, and taken us with her.

the fictional characters


Being a girl used to mean liking pink or liking football. I remember that when I was growing up, liking makeup or sports or good grades were, by and large, considered incompatible, and it hadn’t yet dawned on me that hating ‘urban’ music or Kristen Stewart were performative (and unhealthy) cultural behaviours. Since last year’s IWD, though, we’ve had cultural behemoths showcase women with contradictions: girls who are cheeky and intelligent, women who are strong and sensitive. We have seen characters whose contradictions make them unique and dynamic and powerful. The reason I loved Shuri and Diana so much was that showed me the dichotomy within themselves. Real women don’t choose a single aspect of themselves, let us remember that.

the writerRankine_2016_profile-200
Claudia Rankine is, I think, our greatest living poet. Citizen is amazing, and thoroughly deserves all the praise that is heaped on it, but her book that speaks to me at the moment is Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. Like Citizen, it categorises itself as ‘An American Lyric’, and it walks the line between prose and poetry and fiction and truth. It amazes me that these feelings from the beginning of the Obama era are so resonant with me now, but the power of Rankine is that her words depict both specificities and general feelings which can reach out and grab you any time. The creeping sense of dread in her work is something I am just coming to truly understand, and she is helping me come to terms with the world as it is.

*Girls, boys and non-binary children are included in this sentiment, but for IWD I will condense people to girls. These people can be your heroes whoever you are – even if you are a grown up like me.

The Paradise Papers and charity

Many of the people implicated in The Paradise Papers leak are notable for their charitable giving: Bono and Lord Ashcroft seem to think they are above tax but willing to donate both time and large sums of money to their own pet causes.

What the fuck?

Tax is not something you can opt out of and decide how to use your money and status better. You don’t get to choose who or what is worth your expenditure. You don’t get to ‘solve’ famine in Africa and not contribute to Government aid to a hurricane, or donate an entire wing of the IWM and not contribute to the arts, sports and museum grants that keep countless doors open. You especially don’t get to be an active political commentator, whether that’s organising protest concerts or forming part of the government, when your actions converge so wildly from those demanded by the system of government you operate in.

If you want to be a rich twat, then do. Lewis Hamilton has never pretended to be a benevolent force for good and he takes endorsement deals for anything – we know he wants to be rich, and under capitalism and the current legal system (whatever my own view on the morality of it is) that’s OK. But how the fuck do you think you can tell people that you’re doing good and valuable work to support them – whatever country they are in – if you cannot support the work that voters chose? How can you show off all the good you do when all the money you deny has actively caused crippling austerity? We the taxpayer don’t want your dirty charity money. It’s the nation’s equivalent of and off-list wedding gift: sure, that’s a nice bottle of champers, but we don’t have plates to eat off. Schools don’t want a book you chose for them, they want adequate funding. Can’t you see that? Can’t you see that everything you give as charity pushes your agenda and image above whatever moral value it is supposed to bestow? Can’t you see us scrabbling for money to pay nurses as you ‘forget’ you bought a shopping centre for over £5m?

You, the individual, do not get to chose what is of value to our nation. If we are in a situation where we require rich men’s charity bestowed upon us to fill holes in our society, it does not take a rocket scientist to work out where those gaps came from.

Just pay your fucking taxes. Everything else is extra.

Happy World Mental Health Day

Very common, specific things give me crippling anxiety: someone rattling the toilet door whilst I’m in there, making me unsure if I should say ‘sorry, I’m in here!’ ir ignore and wait for them to go away (which they will – they want to see me pee about as much as I want them to see it). The idea of being underdressed anywhere. 

Very vague things give me anxiety: existential dread and christmas celebrations and the children I teach having to apply for jobs, and be rejected, ten years from now.

I know very clearly the difference between a phobia and a fear: I’m scared of bugs and they make me jump, but I’m so afraid of spiders that tropical plants make my chest constrict because jungles are their natural habitat, so phobic that thinking or talking or typing about spiders makes me put my feet on the chair and have to stop it before I cry.

I know how it feels to be plagued by depression: to see yourself laugh at a joke as if you’re looking at your own body do things you don’t recognise, or to be physically incapable of getting out of bed despite needing to go to work or eat something or do things that you love and want to. 

I know how difficult it is to break an tick: to make yourself step on an uneven slab, eat in a less gross and specific way, take the deep breaths that will stop you clicking and flailing. 

But I’m in a good place. I’m doing things I love, surrounded by people who push me out of my comfort zone, working in the future I want for myself. I go to events and do things I don’t want to and am learning not to give a fuck about things with no consequence.

I am empathetic and strong and enthusiastic. I have put myself in a position where there are minimal things in my life that set me off, and I recognise how good my life is right now. 

Sometimes, still, my motivation goes. I ignore things I don’t have the spoons to deal with and don’t pick them up later. I have difficulty explaining why I shouldn’t do things – from looking at the pavement when I walk to drinking at certain events – when they deserve to know the truth. I am erratic. And the things I have made and the people I care about are still here.

Happy world mental health day. 

Looking Ahead to August

I’m away this weekend, which means I have very little time to cement my (somewhat meagre) July achievements. By breaking down the chores I’ve been avoiding all month into short tasks I can be sure I have enough time to actually do the shit I need/want to get done. By thinking of it as a want I can motivate myself to actually do it – after all, the only person I’m cheating is myself!

To Do Before The End of July:

  • Finish at least one blog post (1/2 hour)
  • Read/annotate two more poems for dissertation (1/2 hour plus each)
  • Put the documentary I watched on Lied singing into my dissertation bullet journal (10 mins?) and update the whole of July (1/2 hour to an hour)
  • Sort my new railcard (omg like 1 hour but such faff)
  • Go for a swim (1/2 hour swim but it will take like 1 hour to walk there, change etc)
  • Read at least one more for-pleasure book (1/2 day? don’t pick Anna Karenina)
  • Take the giant thingy of old fabrics in my room to H&M/Marks & Sparks for recycling (about an hour? Maybe less)

To Do During August:

  • Begin Booktubing – queue up a whole series (can probs film them in a day and edit over a week)
  • Post an instagram every day and save up at least 10 draft instagrams (maybe spend a day wandering around, taking pics? it’ll be fun)
  • Finish Der Romantisch Schule w/ annotations.
  • Swim once a week. Not on Fridays, Fridays are already exhausting.
  • Finish I Love Dick.
  • Finish 1x practise GRE.
  • Practise German every day. Schedule actual lessons.
  • Start seeing therapist again – schedule appointments.
  • Do not forget that Becky is staying last weekend of August.

A Short and Achievable List of Aims for the Coming Year.

  • Write an excellent dissertation. 
  • Get onto MA.
  • Make my hobby more rewarding.
  • Have more therapy – stop being quite so hypercritical (I understand that this won’t go away but I can work on it)
  • Take a holiday.
  • Finish a long piece of writing.
  • Get fit to look amazing for graduation.
  • Fix or throw away all the clothes in my wardrobe.
  • Learn to cook new and exciting foods.
  • Exercise to look and feel better.
  • Relax to feel better and remind myself I actually enjoy everything I’m doing.
  • Work hard to attain the best that I can: reading, ‘riting, and a touch of ‘rithmetic.
  • Get a damn job! (non-negotiable; does not have to be enjoyable)

Boots and the Morning After Pill

Today there has been a call to boycott high-street store Boots for their extortionate pricing of the morning after pill. With Tesco and Superdrug (as well as local chemists) selling it much cheaper, people have demanded a justification for Boot’s high prices, and their answer has chilled women everywhere. “We would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product”, says the chain.

This is a feminist issue, a class issue, a social order issue. The Boots response to their pricing plan is outdated and devalues the autonomy of the woman and her male partner (after all, gay women do not require contraceptives, only barriers to prevent STDs) and infers that with the ability to pay comes responsibility. But you can read about this in all of the papers.

More disturbingly for me is Boots’ relationship with the NHS. Whilst the conglomerate dictates to us how we should be viewing women who take Emergency Contraception, it rakes in millions of pounds a year from prescriptions and pharmacy products. As it refuses to lower its price, we begin to understand how prescription services would work without the flat £8.60 per item (or free for children, pensioners, ex-soldiers, inpatients and the registered disabled) the NHS gives us – and we should be appalled by this potential vision of the future. We see that Boots views us – not just women, but all of us – as customers before people, and not even as valued customers but as possible cash cows. Until now they have been protected by market pricing and lack of public knowledge, but as the media net closes in over them the company’s actions are in for widespread condemnation. Probably even more widespread and vocal than the complaints they anticipated in their statement.

I’ve been boycotting Boots for over a year now, for their relationship with tax, and I can tell you it’s much easier than I thought it would be: I’ve gone from someone who bought makeup, toiletries, snacks, medication and accessories ranging from travel plugs to tights in there, who popped in there to conveniently exchange their goods for a bit of my dollar nearly every day and who was doggedly loyal to their Advantage Card scheme, to somebody who hasn’t set foot in a Boots for over a year. Once in that time it has become an issue: I was elsewhere in the UK and needed makeup remover because I had forgotten mine, but an ordinary (albeit larger than local) supermarket came to my rescue. That is why I believe that a customer boycott will be an effective pressure on this particular high-street retailer. Not only is there a direct competitor whose reasonably-priced alternatives can easily replace Boots’ wares, but also because ordinary supermarkets charge similar or lower prices for the same things. If we stop going to Boots, we will not become deodorant-shunning, Goop-reading snowflakes. We can keep all the conveniences we’re used to at the prices we’re used to whilst we bypass this high-street parasite.

If public opinion really is the problem, Boots will lower the price of Emergency Contraception, but it has gone beyond that now. We should be boycotting Boots because of their attitudes to not only women but all sexually active people, all people in need of healthcare (which, after all, is everyone at some point or another) and all people who need financial aid to access services. This is all of us, and we are all far more instrumental in creating a harmonious and dynamic society than one company that behaves like shit.

To-do list I

To to this weekend:

  • Update my bullet journal for July. It is now the 7th and I haven’t touched it once.
  • Annotate a sufficient number of Heinrich Heine poems to show Supervisor next week – two or three should be sufficient for an initial meeting and developing a focus.
  • Finish reading + annotating Der Romantisch Schule (it is not long and it is quite funny).
  • Apply for the job I just found in case this week’s interviews went less well from the other side’s perspective.
  • Find my mum some sources for her William Blake (aka find resources for and plan some sixth form work).
  • Keep up with all usual chores – eat healthily, practise Duolingo, wash up.

I reckon four or five of those can be done in just one sitting at the library, and none of it sounds like something I don’t want to do.

An equal number of achievements from this week to balance my list and prove to myself I am competent:

  • Ran the vacuum round my house without it being a major task. Emptied the bins without being reminded (inc. food bin twice).
  • Saw Daisey – was civilised and cultivated friendship. Managed to talk about things other than our school days because we are dynamic and growing humans.
  • Went to Caroline’s birthday – was sociable and had an excellent time, but was sensible and went home before burning out. Proved I can have just one drink!
  • Put my best face forward at job interviews.
  • Have cooked consistently healthy meals. Have healthy leftovers to go home to tonight.
  • Have done good work at my actual job and been praised by my LM. Have effectively prioritised and engaged with pupils well.