I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of studying. Tomorrow is my final presentation for my business course, and Weds is my final presentation for my Uni course. I’ve enjoyed it, to some degree, but I’m really looking forward to it being over, too.
I hardly left the house today, so I decided to spontaneously pick a pic from my stash.
This one makes me smile:
Tomorrow is the first day of May. On the Pagan calendar, the holiday Beltane is coming up fast, on May 5th.
May is spring. It’s springing from your seed, ready to bloom into the world. It’s movement, rebirth, growth. It’s putting into action all the stuff you spent the long dark winter planning. May is sexual awakening too (the rights of Beltane were often celebrated with folks going off into the woods together to spend a night doing the dirty).
Perhaps paradoxically, my spring has started off with me growing in a new way–learning to say no to things and prioritizing what I need to do. If you know me, if you’ve been reading for a while, you know this is HUGE for me. I turned down a conference I really wanted to go to because I knew I’d be spreading myself too thin on the day. I only booked a teaching day in Leicester because I knew other scheduled things weren’t happening that week.
And on the other hand, I’m learning to network. To chat, discuss, politely laugh, send emails, and generally get folks to remember me. This seems to have led to another teaching opportunity in London…we’ll see.
Coming up on my to-do list:
Poster presentation for my Uni work (think third grade science fair, with judges coming around to ask questions. Yes, really. No, I don’t know why), business presentation for the end of my business course to business owners in the community (think Dragon’s Den, with no money in it), blood tests/clinic visit, teaching marginalized kids, writing lecture at the BBC, Women of Troy at the theater, workshops for phd cred, editing, editing, editing. Writing, writing, writing.
And then the first weekend of June brings the Bold Strokes Book Festival in Nottingham, which is coming up fast. I REALLY hope you’ll be there.
So, because I’ve got some time in my schedule May, I’m going to participate in Be Love Live’s next month long photo challenge, Who Am I? I’m hoping it will get me to think about who I am in relation to the budding world around me, even as I throw stuff on my calendar like splattering mud on a window. Some sticks, some smears.
What are your plans for May? Are you coming to the event in June in Nottingham?
Song: Somebody that I used to know by Gotye
Book: The Dragon Tree Legacy by Ali Vali
Attending University is about many things. It’s about an education, learning stuff you didn’t know. It’s about leaving home, meeting other students, exchanging ideas, expanding your horizons.
And it’s about confidence.
Outwardly I’ve always seemed confident. I talk openly with people, volunteer for things, etc.
But inwardly I’m a heapful of insecurity. I’m often convinced I’m deeply unlikable stupid, charmless and a fake.
These feelings rise to my mottled surface particularly when I’m exasperatingly busy. Like the last two weeks, for instance.
I do not like public speaking. I turn strawberry red, I shake, I feel sick to my stomach. This is made worse if I’m not confident about whatever it is I’m presenting. But even if I know what I’m talking about inside and out, if there’s no one in the room more expert than me, I’m still convinced I’m going to sound like a chimp giving instructions to fish.
And if, god forbid, someone should challenge me?
I think of a million things I could have said when I’m in bed at two in the morning. But when I need them, words fail me. I instantly go on the defensive and figure the other person must have knowledge I lack. And it kills my confidence. This morning on a train in the dark at 6:00, I’m convinced I’m worthy of daytime television and not much more.
This is something I need to work on. Conflict and disagreement are part of life. Academic discussion will mean people disagreeing with me. I need to learn others aren’t always right just because they vocalize their thoughts.
I need a backbone.
(Last week I presented a paper in Belfast, yesterday I presented one in London. The next one isn’t until June. Plenty of time to find a spine.)
Today’s conference was excellent. Not only did I not have to present, but I made some great contacts and got a wealth of information. I’ve ended the day on a positive.
Happy weekend all.
There was more to Belfast than the travel.
It’s a lovely city. Loads of hotels, places to eat, museums and tours. And I don’t think I’ve ever come across a nicer, more polite, generous people. Really, every single person we spoke to was surpassingly nice.
We did the open top bus tour (the open top was full, so we were downstairs). While it was interesting, it was also very warm, and the guide’s voice was monotone. I kept drifting off to sleep…
But when I was awake, I saw the many murals that cover the city. Each details some aspect of the ‘troubles’ they have there (the word everyone used was ‘troubles’ which seems quite tame when considering what’s actually happened there). I took several pictures, and put a few on FB. S nearly had a heart attack when she saw them, and I took them off right away. In my mind, I was sharing what I was seeing while traveling. But she reminded me we have many Irish friends who might be extremely offended by those murals. If you are one of those Irish friends, and I insulted you, I’m really sorry. I find it fascinating as an outsider, but realize now that you may have utterly different feelings on the matter…
We took an all day bus tour as well. I’ve wanted to see the Giant’s Causeway pretty much all my life, and it’s a definite bucket list thing. That was the last stop on a great day of castles, ocean scenery, the Bushmill’s Whisky factory and the amazing rope bridge at Carrick-A-Rede. I wasn’t sure if S would make it across, as she gets vertigo, but she grabbed hold of the ropes and set off, on a mission. If any old ladies or children had been in her way, she probably would have just gone right over them.
When my turn came I have to admit I got a bit waffly in my tummy. There’s a hundred foot drop below you, and the thing bounces like crazy. But it was well worth it. The views from the other side were really beautiful.
The Giant’s Causeway was just as surreal and exquisite as I had hoped it would be. To think something so exact was created through the chaos of a volcanic eruption. The weather was beautiful and as crowds go, it was pretty empty. (We managed to get lots of pics with no one in the background, which is probably impossible in high season).
The conference went really well. I realized after I could probably add a bit of bookish stuff to it to make it sound a bit more academic, but there was some really good conversation after, and I met some really nice people.
S and I finished off the night at a great place called McCracken’s, which we found down a little side alley. The service was good, the music lovely, the food perfect.
So, that was the last four days. The weather was extremely cold, but blue skies stayed with us. (I had on three layers under a thick sweater covered by a ski jacket. That kind of cold).
Today, I’ve put together the PowerPoint for the conference I’m presenting at in London on Thursday. Tomorrow I’ve got a business meeting in the morning and physio in the afternoon. Tues is my business course all day and theater in the evening (Pygmalion). Weds is my PhD course, all day. Thursday is the conference in London. Friday is the conference in Cambridge.
My question for you, readers:
Have you been somewhere where you felt like a true outsider, and didn’t really understand the undercurrents native to the culture? How did you deal with it?
Song: Take it off by Kesha
Book: Writing without teachers by Peter Elbow
The most basic definition is that the body you inhabit ceases to function in every way.
Beyond that, worlds of ideology have a say on what death means. What comes after, where you go, what the state of your body has to be in order for your soul to be at peace in the whatever-happens-next.
Philosophers wax lyrical about death and the human psyche and how it affects our behavior. Psychologists blame our fear of it for the baggage we carry around. Doctors fight it. Some people cause it, willfully or negligently.
Here are my questions for you, because I’m genuinely interested in what the fine, fine readers of this blog believe:
1. Are you afraid of death? Of dying? Of what comes ‘after’?
2. In your opinion, what comes after? (And if you believe in an afterlife, what do you picture it being?)
Book: Cassandra by Christa Wolf
Song: Good Girl by Carrie Underwood
We were discussing this in context of the technological revolution. The advent of the personal computer, satellites, cell phones, televisions in every home, etc etc.
The issue of unplugging came up. While there may be places where reception is shoddy, it’s rare you actually go far enough into nowhere to lose it altogether. Which means you have to consciously turn it off. Walk away. Go incommunicado.
I can’t remember the last time I did so. I found wifi on a Greek island so I could make sure I didn’t miss any work stuff. Pretty much every day. We got bolts on our phones so we could check our email from the Canaries. I uploaded pics to FB, I captured moments with my phone camera, we watched telly at night and football in the pubs.
When we go on walks deep in Sherwood Forest, I have an app on my phone that tracks how far we walk via GPS.
I write on my laptop. I edit on my PC. I travel with my tablet/kindle/ipod. I wear a watch and use headphones.
I don’t unplug. Even on an island off the coast of Africa.
Here’s my question for you: 1. Do you unplug? 2. If you don’t, like me, do you think that might be a bad thing? That just maybe you’re missing something because you’re never out of touch? Does the fact that we are in touch with the entire planet at any given moment mean we’ve lost an element of our individuality and inner peace? Or, alternatively does that constant connection mean we’re never alone and therefore more in touch with humanity? Does it mean you create and share moments in an instant? Or does it…cheapen them somehow?
A while back, I blogged the results of a random personality test, where you plugged in your blog’s url and it spit out a personality type for you. (Mine was ESFP, I think–Performer).
While doing some work on character archetypes, personality types and writing today, I came across a website where you can take the actual test, something I haven’t done in years.
Although there were certainly aspects of the last one that were true, I don’t actually like being in the limelight–I’ll do it, but it stresses me out.
So I took the new one by actually answering my questions rather than using the blog thing, and it makes a hell of a lot more sense. If you’d like to take the real thing too, check out the Keirsey Temperament link. (Use the pull down menu under About, and click on Take the KTS II. Note you can get a free mini report, available at the bottom of the ones with prices listed).
My results (and my writing-reasons for this kind of research below the results):
Now, I want to explain something with regard to characters and why I went that direction:
When you are building your characters, you need to know them. Really know them. Yeah, we all sometimes build aspects of them as we go. But if we have a definite idea of who they are on a deeper level, right from the beginning, we have a better understanding of what is going to drive them through the novel. Why do they react the way they do? Would they really react the way I have them reacting? Or am I off base? The better you know them, the better you understand not only how they would react, but why. And the better you understand them, the better your readers will understand them.
Archetypes and personality types are a good way to help you define your characters. Answer the personality tests as the character, and see what it comes up with. Does it suit the image you have of the character? If not, where is the gap? When you’re creating characters, you need to aim for ultimate veracity: the deepest truth of your character and the way they work their way through the obstacles you’ve put in front of them. Deciding whether they’re a natural performer and Crusader type, or a loner, Librarian type, can be immensely helpful when figuring out who your characters are and how they act at the core of their being.
Book: Stigmata by Helene Cixous (so utterly, insanely, beautifully written)
Song: Beautiful People by Chris Brown
As many of you readers know, I’m interested in the gender spectrum.
Gender: performing our notion of masculine/feminine roles (how we dress, how we move through society, how we take up space, how we cross our legs, etc, etc, etc).
Sex: the chromosomes we’re born with.
Those are my ultra-simplistic definitions. Which leads me to why I’m talking about them.
I self identify as femme, and S self identifies as butch (to some extent. More metrosexual masculine than butch, per se. S’s feeling is that butch as it was used when I was growing up in the lesbian community is reserved for the ‘serious’ butches I grew up with-the motorcycle riding, intensely masculine, ‘old school’ butches. She’s trendy, hates motorcycles, and is more likely to break something than fix it, thanks to her patience levels.)
We were discussing the nature of age gap and butch representation yesterday.
We’ve lived in the UK for nearly six years now, and I feel like I can safely say that in this culture, we see very little ‘traditional’ butch representation among young people. I see a fair amount within my own age group and older (35 and up), but when I look around in various settings, whether that be club, bar, pub, or book event, I see lots and lots of fantastically gendered spectrum, but no one I would look at and think, “I bet they ID butch.” (Yes, I’m basing this almost entirely on stereotype: short hair, men’s clothes, swagger. This comes from my own experience of the butch ID, and is in no way all there is to being butch, or even a way that butch ‘has to be’. Allow me my generalizations for a moment, if you will.)
S and I came to the conclusion that perhaps the definition/performance of butch is less stringent than it was when we were coming out. Maybe butch no longer means wearing men’s clothes, but rather simply wearing whatever suits you at the moment and the way you feel inside. Maybe butch itself is an outdated classification? Is the butch ID going the way of the Dodo bird?
Or, is it cultural? While we may not be seeing young butches in England, perhaps you’re seeing them in your culture? Or perhaps we, as butch-femme folks, are, as we’ve often been, at the ends of the spectrum and therefore are simply less visible, because not a lot of us ID that way?
So, readers, here is my question:
What are you seeing in your culture and area? Are there, in fact, fewer young butches about? If so, why do you think that is? Do you think butch is still, for the under 30 crowd, a desired and/or personal label? Young readers–how do you, and your friends, self ID?
*I’m aware many of my readers don’t like labels, etc. This is directed more at those of us who do ID within that particular niche, or those who may not label that way, but ‘get’ the desire to do so.*