saturday evening

I slept until 12:30pm in the afternoon. I didn’t get dressed until 3:30pm. It’s now 7pm. I’m sat now at the kitchen table, smelling banana bread baking and seeing the school outside my window gleam gold in the dying sun. Scott is sat opposite me, resting his chin on his hand –

and I got distracted and his laptop needs to charge so now he’s sat further away from me on the sofa under the window, lit by the screen he frowns at. The guy next door or in the flat below aggressively strums his guitar, like he’s practising for his Mumford and Sons concert next week.

This is the setting for tonight’s anxiety. I slept through the morning, woke up with no energy to stay awake, kept falling back asleep. I flitted between listening to Flight of the Conchords to watching a film I didn’t enjoy to debating re-downloading social media apps to my phone. I accomplished very little indeed. So now banana bread is baking in the oven.

This is a period of big life change. Yes, again. I was writing very similar things this time last year. I’m finding a place to live, reducing my hours at the full time job I’d become comfortable in and, probably most excitingly, starting a masters degree in a subject I really care about. These are challenges that I need to solve which this time last year caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety. And I’m definitely not going to sit and here and type out how much better I am at handling change than last year or how much my life has improved – that would be false and also a little bit patronising.

Life doesn’t seem to work like that. It’s not a line drawn endlessly upwards, only ever improving. It’s far more cyclical. Back in May and June, I was feeling noticeably settled. A few months later and everything’s up in the air. The good thing is, however, that this time around, I kind of know that things will be okay. Things will actually sort themselves out and that’s not just a phrase my mum uses to calm me down. This period is daunting but it will be fine and it will end and stability will come again.

The sun’s disappeared, leaving behind a pale blue sky. Night draws in again.

 

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Putting the me in Medusa.

When I was nine, a boy called me Medusa.

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We were learning about Greek myths for the day, the only time that topic came up in our curriculum, ever.

Medusa had snakes for hair. She was the monster so grotesque that looking at her turned you to stone. She had three heads and lost one, died when Perseus defeated her.

The boy looked at Medusa and looked at me and decided my curls were serpents.

If I had been Medusa, he could not have looked me in the eye and called out in class. He wouldn’t have dared.

I knew little of the myth to which I was compared. I googled her that night, found out a little of who she was: a human turned ugly as punishment, her hair replaced with snakes. In other versions, born monstrous, a gorgon. Sometimes one head, sometimes three sisters but always grotesque and always to be killed. To be feared. Her gaze was lethal.

I’ve liked her ever since.

Perseus rode around with Medusa’s head, wielding her as a shield against his enemies. Athena, famously born of Zeus alone, wears Medusa’s head on her breastplate. She is cut up and killed, her power to be used by others.

Feminists have attempted to reclaim her as an image of female fury and power. In a short manifesto, Mary Beard describes succinctly how the classical world has and continues to have a heavy influence on our perceptions of power and who has the right to wield it. Once again, I found myself reading about my monster.

We were young. And we didn’t know what we were learning. Greek myths were fun stories about monsters and victors, gods and, you know, other old stuff. That’s all they were, surely: just stories. That was one lesson on one day in primary school, a tiny insignificant hour of my life, a comment which the boy has surely forgotten now.

But as Mary Beard points out, it is these things we take for granted that form the building blocks of our understanding of the world.Today female politicians are often compared to Medusa in an effort to ‘decapitate’ them, photoshopped on to an image of a screaming feminised monster. ‘Male mastery over female power’.

I take it as a point of pride that I’ve held on to that memory for so long. Because of him I feel an affinity with Medusa, in every form of the myth, born monstrous or punished unfairly. I understand the antagonist; I was painted as one. I will never root for Perseus.

 

Procrastination versus compartmentalisation

(This post could also be called “Something other people seemed to have already learned but it didn’t click with me for like 22 years”.)

Unrelated photo of flowers I definitely bought to procrastinate dissertation.

I procrastinate. We all procrastinate. At some point in their lives, even the most productive of people will have stopped doing whatever it is they’re meant to be doing to watch videos of puppies for an hour and a half. It’s just a fact of life: dogs are too cute to NOT drop everything to watch them play with doors.

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Working in a charity bookshop: the customers.

The man stormed out of the shop leaving myself and Bruce looking at each other in disbelief. Having been told in a very kind manner that, although we appreciated his donation of an old rounders bat that was falling to pieces and three tennis balls, we were in fact a bookshop, currently full to the brim with donations, and therefore it would be great if he could take it to one of our other shops five minutes away, the man became angry. He tried to get us to keep the donation, clearly not wanting to take it home but, in the end, told us we were ungrateful and left.

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LP corner, Oxfam Bookshop (Aberdeen)

For some reason, this man’s attitude towards us stays with me. For context, for three years during my degree I worked at the Oxfam Bookshop in Aberdeen. During my time there I learned that there are plenty of misconceptions floating around about charity shops – the idea that they’re rubbish tips, that volunteers have it easy and just pile up whatever donations they get, no matter the quality, and sell everything for 50p.

Continue reading “Working in a charity bookshop: the customers.”

Gradually letting go of Aberdeen

Moment of silence this morning as I scrolled Instagram. Please allow me this sentimental post as I come to terms with the fact that I’m really not going back to uni this September.

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This weekend is move-in weekend for eager-eyed, bushy-tailed freshers and the start of begrudged returns for everyone else to the University of Aberdeen. I thought I had already come to terms with my undergraduate degree being over but apparently there was still some ties left. Seeing pictures of the beach and Broadhill and knowing I won’t be going back there at all, walking past the football stadium, up to King Street, down Spital and following that hill winding down to campus is making me sad today.

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22 things

It was my birthday yesterday. I’m not a big one for my own birthday to be honest, maybe intensified by the pressure to have this amazing day with balloons and cake and big parties. My day yesterday had none of those things but was strangely almost exactly what I wanted. A chill day, food, talking, sorting stuff out. It could have been any other day, really, but I was nicer to myself than usual.

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Honesty

Sometimes plans change.

Sometimes you need a step back, a complete transformation of everything you knew. A change of place, the once-all-you-knew becoming some of what you know now. It’s made me question everything. I’ve lost a lot of a routine whilst creating a new one out of ashes of one I had thought long gone. Sticking them together slowly with sellotape rather than glue – a temporary measure for now.

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