Books TBR

In 2016 I am determined to get back into reading for pleasure. I read so much stuff for uni, but it’s seldom I settle down and just read a book to relax. These are some of the books I want to read in the coming months. I will cross them off as I finish them as well as adding more on.

  • And then there were none – Agatha Christie
  • The second sex – Simone de Beauvoir
  • Chavs – Owen Jones
  • Asking for it – Louise O’Neill
  • Go set a watchman – Harper Lee
  • The shock of the fall – Nathan Filer
  • Where rainbows end – Cecelia Ahern
  • The American lover – Rose Tremaine
  • The Vagenda – Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
  • The diary of Anne Frank
  • Sophia – Anita Anand
  • The Auschwitz Violin – Maria Angels Anglada
  • Night – Elie Wiesel
  • The Assination of Margaret Thatcher – Hilary Mantel

Resolutions

I like New Year’s Revolutions. I like having a focus, though it does usually last only around a month, and always seems to include the generic ‘eat healthier’ and ‘do more exercise’ and do again this year. Anyway, without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2016 (how the fuck is it 2016 already???)

1. Read 25 non uni books during the year, at least three non fiction and no more than four I’ve read before. (I will make a TBR list later on)

2. Drink more water – at least two glasses a day

3. Eat pesto pasta only once a week (its becoming a go to dinner and it’s not exactly the most nutritous thing ever). When I do eat it always make sure I have some vegetables with it

4. Only buy biscuits/ice cream/cake once a week. Now farmfoods near my halls is closing down it might make this on easier.

5. Do my french online grammar exercises week by week and do not leave them all to the last minute.

6. Less alcohol.

7. Go to Labour Students and MUN every week, and go to the femsoc meetings too. Stop being so scared of people!

8. Stay in contact with my friends from home. Text them once a week, ask how they are.

There, I think eight is a good number. I was going to add ‘do more exercise’ but that is never going to happen and there’s no point in kidding myself. I walk 20 minutes to and from uni everyday – that counts as exercise right?

I wrote a poem

This is actually based on a poem I wrote a long time ago. The original one was very bad and was born basically from talking to James about poetry and wishing I could write poems and then him saying – just write about what you know, what you’re passionate about. So I did. I tried to make it funny but I don’t think it is… I think it’s just moany and annoying. I did put in a reference to David Cameron’s ‘calm down dear’ which I thought was clever. Anyway here is the new updated edited (and hopefully better) version:

When they ask me: ‘why are you a feminist?’

When I stand up, hands on hips, ready to retort, call out, condemn their sexism,

And, they say to me Calm down, dear! then decide: ‘It’s cos she’s on her period’.

Yes well done, you got me – I’m only angry because I’m bleeding!

I tell myself, they obviously don’t understand what it’s like

To bleed into their knickers every month, feel their insides being pulled from within them,

Simply because they have no cock, nicely taxed as a luxury at 5%.

 

I remember when I was 11, and they first told us about Sex

significance put on pain, protection, scary diseases we could never pronounce

It will hurt, they said with a knowing look, just don’t do it, girls, and you’ll be okay.

Our sexuality, our pleasure was shunned, put in a box, never mentioned.

I remember when I was 16. Teachers reminding me:

Make sure your skirt is below your knees. Or else the boys will be distracted

Because of course, their education matters more than mine.

I remember when I was 17, alone in Paris, on top of the world

The Métro, rush hour, gare du nord. A man’s hand squeezes my bum,

I turn around and he grins then winks at me.

He has more right to my body than I do.

Now I’m 18, in a club with my friends,

sweaty guys surround us, feeding us drinks

pushing themselves into us, their hands everywhere

and we leave, because of course it’s our fault

for dressing up, short skirts and heels, they can’t help themselves

Boys will be boys, after all.

 

Next time they ask me why are you a feminist?

I will stand up, hands on hips,

Caitlin Moran in one hand, Germaine Greer in the other

And say to them:

The real question is: why are you not?

Why can’t I revise properly anymore?

I am the girl who has never got less than an A in any exam she’s ever done, the girl who got 60/60 in her Higher Modern Studies exam and was then a bit disapointed with 84/90 for advanced higher. I am the girl who actually did so much revision she made herself ill last October.

And yet, here I am on a Sunday night, lying on my bed, listening to christmas music after barely four hours of revision all day. What’s wrong with me? I have no idea. I really don’t know. I just have no motivation for this exam on Thursday. Absolutely none. I mean, I’ve gone over all my notes, written out colourful revision notes for all the topics, practised some essay plans… and I just can’t tell if it’s enough. And now a week and a half later I’ve just all lost all motivation. I have two potential reasons for this weird lack of enthusiasm and motivation.

  1. I think because I’ve only got one exam this term it means I’ve just got bored of the content I’ve learned. There isn’t all that much of it really, content wise… and a lot of it I knew already. I mean there’s only so many times you can learn why First Past the Post is a shitty voting system. I think I’ve just got bored of this one module. When you’ve been doing politics-type stuff for three years already, trying to revise the basics of democracy and why people vote isn’t all that interesting.
  1. The second reason is more complicated. At school, you had a direct relationship with your teachers, you saw them every day, they were the ones who taught you the basics and the ones who then marked your essays. Uni isn’t like that. There are dozens of different staff members, and your tutor, who you only see once a week, is a completely different person from the three main lecturers you’ve had, who have nothing to do with your essays. So what I think is this: the reason for my lack of motivation is to do with the fact there’s no one to do well for. At school, doing well for my teachers was just as, if not more, important than doing well because I myself wanted to do well. I mean when I was opening my exam results in August it wasn’t myself I was worried about letting down, it was Miss Stuart of course. And so, the reason I feel like I can’t be bothered with this exam is because I just don’t care enough, because there’s no one who’s really all that invested in me doing well, and what I’m learning isn’t interesting enough for me to want to do well just for myself. I am actually starting to regret not having a year out. I think if I’d taken a year out of education, and done something completely different for a year I would have been completely reignited by the time I got to Edinburgh, and utterly enthusiastic about my degree. I mean, I’m not going to drop out or anything like that…it’s not that drastic. I just do think I’d be more passionate about this if I’d waited a while before starting it.

This has been quite a ramble. My brain isn’t really functioning properly at the moment, and functioning clear coherent thoughts is a bit of a struggle. Sorry.

Uni is hard

So university is hard. Obviously university is hard. It seems impossible to do all the work, and when I do manage it still isn’t enough. I think I’m in a bit of a slump because I got two lots of essay results back today and they were just so annoyingly average that it made me sad. For French I got 58% and politics 60%, to follow on from my dreadful history mark of 56%. I mean, at least I’m passing. But I’m just not used to being average and it’s frustrating. I also don’t really know what to do to make it better because the feedback they give us is so minimal and I’m too scared and socially awkward to go and speak to my tutors.

 
I’m so ready for Christmas. I can’t wait to get this exam out of the way and go home and relax for three weeks. Talking of the exam – argh! I think I’ve forgotten how to revise! I’m trying so hard, but it just doens’t seem to be going in my head. I also still don’t really understand what they want from us, answer wise. I mean, I am kind of used to just spewing the information I know in some kind of coherent structure, but in uni exams I’m pretty sure it’s trickier than that.

 
I’m just really frustrated and worried about it all. People keep saying don’t worry it’s the first term it’ll get better, you’ll improve – but I don’t know if I can!

 
Sorry for this incoherent jumble of thoughts, I just needed to get stuff off my chest somehow. It’s weird how typing something out and posting it on some virtual forum helps to clarify and sort out what’s in my head.

Edinburgh – a confession

So I haven’t written in a long time. It’s cos I’ve been busy understandably with uni stuff and this new life I’m living etc etc. I have a confession to make. 

I don’t really know how to say this. Uni is great. My flat mates are lovely, my course is interesting. The work is hard and challenging. Edinburgh is beautiful. But I just don’t feel happy. I’m having a good time but because I feel obliged to be having a good time. I feel very very daunted and small and out of place. I don’t feel like I belong here yet. I’m very homesick, or not even homesick just family sick. I even miss school! I miss the routine of knowing you’re at school from nine to four every day. I miss having that human contact with the people teaching me. I miss being able to go and ask questions without being too scared. I don’t really know what’s going on in my head at the moment. I kind of think all the crappy feelings that were arising in Febuary and March that I just pushed and suppressed away are kind of coming back. I don’t feel in a good place at all. And the worst thing is I should be having the time of my life! This is what I’ve always dreamed about. This is what all that hard work and all those As were for. And now it’s finally happened I’m not having the time of my life I thought I would be having. The worst thing is I’m too scared to speak to people. I sit in lectures on my own and don’t talk because it seems like everyone else is already friends and I’m too scared to interrupt and introduce myself. Also, with the few people I have met, mostly in my flat and the flats around me, I still haven’t been able to shrug off the image of the naive, studious, works too hard girl. I think I probably am all of those things, but I don’t want that to be my image anymore. I don’t want to be known for that. What’s worse is that I feel like I’m letting people down. This is like everything my life has been building to and now all I want to do is go home. 

And yes, I know I’m still settling in. I know I’ve only been here three and a half weeks. But, by now I should be feeling more positive. I shouldn’t feel overworked already, I shouldn’t feel this lonely in a city full of people. I’m sad, I’m tired and I don’t know if I can do this. 

Here are some pictures of stuff I’ve done so far:  

    
   

The Internet did a wonderful thing

Today the internet did an amazing thing. The YA author Patrick Ness, having got fed up of the government’s continuing failure to address the refugee crisis, set up a fund for Save the Children and pledged to match £10,000 if the public donated £10,000 as well. The target was reached in two hours, and by that time the great John Green had pledged to match the next £10,000, followed by the same from Derek Landy, Jojo Moyes and Hank Green as well as a couple of hugely generous anonymous donations and a group of US YA authors also joining to together to match the next £10,000. As I write this a total of £107,268.53 has been raised for Save the Children, not including the pledges from the above authors, and by the time I publish it, I’m sure it will be even more. As I write this, Rainbow Rowell is promising to Sort (as in Hogwarts) her various characters into their designated houses as the fund hits the next milestone. This is truly awe inspiring. One man, using his own relatively significant online presence, to raise awareness and a huge amount of money for people in need.

What the media are calling the “migrant crisis” is basically the huge numbers of refugees attempting to seek asylum in the countries of Europe after having fled war torn countries in the Middle East, most notably Syria and the problems arising from that. The UK government are coming under increasing pressure to accept more refugees into Britain and more and more innocent, frightened people are dying every day in their desperate attempt to flee to safety. Yesterday, pictures of a tiny three year old boy washed up drowned on a beach spread all over the internet. He was Aylan Kurdi and he was one of 12 Syrians who drowned in Turkey as they tried to reach the EU. He was three years old!

Aylan Kurdi being carried off the beach (source BBC news)

Aylan Kurdi being carried off the beach (source BBC news)

In 2014, 184,655 refugees were offered asylum by EU countries, while more than 570,000 applied for asylum (BBC News). The UK is consistently at the bottom of graphs and statistics of how many refugees each EU country has accepted. On Wednesday Cameron said that “taking more and more people was not the answer to the current migrant crisis” (BBC News). Cameron seems to have another way to provide these desperate people with a home.

No one should live in fear of their life. In the UK, most of us are lucky enough to live in relative comfort. We have a democracy (of sorts, more on that later) and we’re not living in the middle of a civil war. Some people aren’t as lucky as that. And instead of using the privileges we have to help, and protect those who need our protection, our government, with the support of many people in the country, condemn them, refusing to talk about it, refusing to welcome people into Britain. We’re all humans on this planet, we should all be in this together, but instead of helping those in desperate need, we push them away and refuse to make the difference we are all capable of making. It makes me so so sad and disapointed in this country and the people in it. But Patrick Ness, and all the other people donating money to Save the Children, with every little pound counting, warms my heart. I just checked the webpage, and it’s now at £116,306.48. Go and donate if you can: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=PatrickNess

Is politics the right choice?

I’m going to the University of Edinburgh to study politics in less than two weeks. This is a subject I am hugely passionate about and something I do know a huge amount about, but recently I have been having my doubts as to whether it is actually the right thing to study.

IMG_3660

At school I studied Modern Studies rather than politics. Modern Studies is like a mixture between politics and sociology with some economics and social policy type stuff thrown in as well. I had a fabulous modern studies teacher who now is one of my very good friends as well as an ex teacher. Sometimes I wonder if my passion for the subject came completely from the fact that she was so inspiring when teaching it. We had so many debates and discussions about current issues and what was going on in the world and the Tories’ latest screw up (in our opinion) or the most recent, sneaky thing the SNP were trying to do. So, having not been in her class for more than three months now, and having completely neglected keeping up to date with the news, I’ve started to wonder if politics is actually the right thing for me to go and study. I used to discuss politics and current events so often and in so much depth that as soon as I heard about them my opinions and my thoughts on issues were forming and solidifying straight away but now that just doesn’t happen. And it’s made me think that I’m either losing interest in something that used to fascinate me so much or that I’m simply becoming too lazy to be good enough to study it. I’m conflicted! It could be a good thing I’m having a break from all things political because then when I get to Edinburgh on the 14th my fascination will be reignited and I’ll throw myself into it and have a fabulous time. I just don’t know. And it’s making me nervous.

And I just wrote the word politics too many times and now it just sounds funny.

Two weeks today

It’s two weeks today that I go to uni and I am absolutely counting down the days. I’ve spent all summer trapped in this house, in this town doing nothing and I cannot wait for the rest of the my life to start. How pretentious and obvious does that sound?? I know, I apologise. These last two weeks at home will fly by, I’m sure, and there’s enough organising-type things to do to keep me busy but I can’t help feeling trapped in the middle of a beginning and an end. I kind of wish I’d started blogging at the beginning of the summer, kept a record of the things I’d done, this last summer of childhood.

That being said, I had a huge list of cool things I was going to do this summer and I’ve done none of them, except maybe turn 18 and go to the pub without being ID’d, but does that really count? I’m not sure. I was going to pass my driving test, go on cool road trips to the beach and the Highlands, have a big party, go to lots of parties, even spontaneously do some travelling. In reality I’ve spent the summer either in bed rewatching old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or doing shifts in the tearoom where I work.

It didn’t start badly, the summer I mean. It started with finishing school, which was of course a positive. Then there was Oliver! the school play which was the best fun I’ve had in such a long time and will probably become my best memory of school which is ironic since it happened after I’d already left. After Oliver! it all started going down hill. There was the summer ball – basically prom, but my school likes to pretend its too good to have a prom so calls it the summer ball instead – in which I got spectacularly drunk and ended the night crying on my modern studies teacher’s shoulder and subsequently being invited out for coffee by her at some later date. Then I went to London for two weeks which was actually fab and then I was home spending the days lounging about doing nothing which just made me miserable.

But now it’s all changing! It’s the beginning of the end of the summer, some of my friends have already left to go to uni, more are going in a weeks time and this is it and I am so so so ready for it.