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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What Harry Potter means to me

My mum likes to pull out pages from the newspaper that she thinks I’ll be interested in. She usually sends a sort of blurry photo over Whatsapp where I can kind of make out a dog wearing sunglasses or something to do with Doctor Who. This time however it was a Harry Potter quiz with extremely obscure questions since the 20th anniversary of the publication of Philosopher’s Stone was a few days ago. (21 points could be won – I got 16 5/6ths.)

To the intern who put this together’s credit, the questions were pretty challenging and I couldn’t for the life of me remember Nearly Headless Nick’s full name. Whilst answering these questions it occurred to me how much useless detail about this book series I had gathered and stored away in a filing cabinet in my brain somewhere. How often for example am I going to be using the answer to the first question, who was Harry Potter’s babysitter, and for the bonus point, what is a squib? Arabella Figg and her inability to use magic despite being wizard-born seems lovely but she’s hardly going to help me on my CV.

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Alone in my room. Obviously.

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Doctor Who: i’m enjoying it and that’s nice.

No one is more surprised to see this post than I am, believe me. I have been outspoken about my opinion of Doctor Who, and what I saw as its gentle decline from a show I was thoroughly engaged with online and offline into a show that I no longer enjoyed. I made gifsets and read conspiracy theories about Moffat’s intense story arcs. I remember the frustration over the inexplicable extra floor of Amy’s house. I even watched a countdown timer for the entirety of that Saturday leading up to the series 6 finale. But gradually my interest has lessened and I’ve become increasingly disconnected with the show.

This won’t be an academic essay nor an unbiased review. This is just a run down of my relationship with the show over the seasons, and a lot of that does depend on my headspace at the time as well. Besides I got to hand in my dissertation last week (!!!!!) so I’ve been having some time off. Not really feeling like doing more formal analysis just now. So strap in for an incredibly informal look back at Doctor Who from my perspective.

bill

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interlude: make-up

This morning I woke up, sat in front of my small mirror and felt distinctly unlike myself. I looked in the mirror and saw a face I didn’t really recognise. Eventually it came back to me that I was me but I still thought that the “I” in the mirror looked a bit puffy, a bit tired. Had I had an allergic reaction in the middle of the night? Was I just this ugly all the time?

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Get Out: the fantasy of justice

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

I’m late to the party, and yes, this is another post about something people have already raved about. But I finally saw it on Sunday and had to talk about it. Get Out is a tense horror grounded in the real world but managing to balance realism with hypnotism, brain transplantation and ‘the sunken place’.

Art by Jermaine Rogers (jermainerogers.com)

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Nasty Women: publishing as history making

I finished Nasty Women on the train to meet my family for a day out and on the way back, my sister complained about always being bored on trains. I handed her Nasty Women and told her to read it. She read the first four essays on the train and asked me what intersectional feminism was so I count that as a supreme success.

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Students, finance and mental health: why we should talk about money.

We are not honest about money.

Sure, in almost every conversation I have with fellow students, at least one of us will make an offhand reference to the dire financial situation we are in or joke about our overdrafts. We might talk about SAAS, saving us every month on the 7th, and how we can’t really do much, pay bills or buy food until then, probably accompanied by an awkward laugh and a desire to move the conversation on.

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One of the coffees I felt guilty for buying. (Not pictured: my electricity and gas bills because I thought that was a bit much.)

Continue reading “Students, finance and mental health: why we should talk about money.”

tips 4 ur dissertation

  • it will not be what you started with and that is ok
  • but also if you do research and find yourself knee deep in books you’re bored with, maybe take a minute and think why you started writing on this topic
  • chances are, you loved what you started with
  • if not, there was something you enjoyed about it
  • going through this process means i refuse to believe anyone would choose to make it worse and write about something they absolutely hated for months on end

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Things that have helped my brain lately

I went AWOL for a bit and that’s because life kind of caught up and dissertation took over.

This month’s been kind of trying for me, mental health-wise. In the past, I’ve suffered from both depression and anxiety and, in its current form, a combination of both. Faced with overwhelming change like a looming cloud threatening to burst overhead, my brain has decided to turn on itself. Right now, it kind of feels like I’m scrabbling at the bottom of a pit, trying to dig my way out. Every morning is now a struggle to motivate myself to get out of bed.

This is not because anything bad has happened to me, necessarily. If anything, I am incredibly lucky to have the life I do. The guilt from this privilege however seems to force me down further into the pit so whilst I acknowledge the supportive people around me and the roof over my head, I also need to allow myself the space to feel what I am feeling. I guess, in a way, it helps to remember that I’m not going through anything that others haven’t gone through before. And it helps to remember that people are complex and deal with things differently, and that just because they seem to be succeeding, this doesn’t mean they haven’t seen the bottom of the pit too.

I am getting better at counselling myself, at knowing when I’m catastrophising or filtering or any of the other terms I learned during my university counselling sessions or my visits to the doctor’s. I am slowly but surely finding what helps my brain to renegotiate with itself, usually around 2 in the afternoon that actually, I am capable, I can work today, I am not an awful human being with no talent and no charisma.

This could be a list of self care tips, if you wanted it to be. Currently I prefer to think of them as my ‘ok, stop, you need to calm the fuck down, now go do this for a bit and then come back’ breaks. Very handy for when you’ve altered your dissertation topic for the fifth time that week. Disclaimer: This is not an all-inclusive list.

1) Yoga With Adriene

Yes, I am starting this list with yoga. IF YOU WANT TO CALL IT SELF-CARE, CALL IT SELF-CARE. Anyway,this saved my life a few days ago, when I had some of the worst PMS I’d ever had and was trying to do work in bed. It didn’t really pan out the way I wanted to, resulting in me berating myself for being lazy, never accomplishing anything. My mood dropped and I managed to notice, immediately knowing I needed some kind of exercise. This was a perfect option: I was moving, stretching, but still comforted (by the sheer amount of pillows used in this routine) and finished feeling clear-headed and in less utter pain. I’ve only done a few of Adriene’s videos but no other fitness videos on YouTube make me as keen to do the next one as her. Aside from maybe:

2) Blogilates

Some days I need yoga, some days I just need to move and dance around. As Cassey says in the video, this is the equivalent of turning up music really loud in your room and dancing like nobody’s watching. It’s fun, gets your blood pumping but doesn’t kill you, and I managed to fit it in between class and a skype call with a friend, making me feel even more productive.

3) Chef’s Table France

If I really can’t be bothered moving, then I need to accept that I won’t be, stop beating myself up for that, and do something else. Taking a break to watch a few episodes of something can risk an accidental marathon but watching documentaries has been an alternative for me at the moment (I’ve already written a “Currently” post about 13th). Watching Chef’s Table is such a good way to feel inspired by people who love what they do enough to put blood, sweat and tears into their craft. Watching the France series has kept my brain working as a way to try and improve my French as well as introduce me to new areas of France I’d never seen before and allow me to return to street corners of my beloved Paris (more posts coming soon). It’s a new perspective on the world, showing me something other than dissertation and job applications – sometimes it’s a grilled carrot that changes everything.

4) Baking/Cooking

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In the likely event that I will be influenced by the cooking happening in Chef’s Table, I take to the kitchen. Although I will turn to tubes of Pringles in my time of need, I try to remember how much better I feel making something. Whether it’s noodles or pasta, at least I’ve made it. I’m no chef – in fact I’m very Amy Santiago when it comes to cooking – but I’m trying. So a few new recipes I’ve been making lately include:

  • Frankie Celenza’s EXCELLENT macaroni cheese recipe which has been my go-to for when I need something carby and quick. (Side note: any of the Frankie’s World series has a profound brain-calming-down effect, I highly recommend the one about pretzels. Speaking of which..)
  • Pretzels. I’m currently in the process of adapting a recipe from the Great British Bake Off book, adding to it and changing times etc. It feels good to be able to know how one ingredient can alter an entire pretzel.
  • Soups. My mum always tries to feed me when she visits and last time she brought down three of the biggest sweet potatoes I have ever seen in my life. I’ve been working my way through them, making a variety of soups and again experimenting with flavours. Sweet Potato, Tomato and Basil or Sweet Potato and Carrot are all staples – can’t go wrong.
  • Ruby Tandoh’s lemon wedges from her book Flavour which I highly recommend and from which I need to cook more. I also love the Banana Tea Loaf and other recipes which have slipped my mind for now. The Harry Styles Dutch Baby is happening soon and I’m excited for it.
  • Maverick Baking’s firecracker sausage rolls. Beaut.

5) And finally, if all else fails, rewatch specific episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that I’ve seen about twelve times already, if not more. Something about this show never fails to help me in some way, even a little bit, out of the pit.

Series 1, Episode 5 – The Vulture: a personal fave. The whole squad works together against a superior (the eponymous Vulture) who keeps trying to steal their cases, they’re a bit tipsy, they take the bus to the scene of a crime and solve the case. Plenty of Jake and Amy banter, even a scene where she calls him a butthead. Rosa basically comes out as bi whilst also finding said superior attractive in a humorously detached way. Meanwhile Terry, Holt and Gina go to a gun range. What more could you want?

So that’s it! I mean, I could go on for longer but I feel as though that would officially get into ‘ok, stop procrastinating, let’s get back to work mode now’. Hope you enjoyed this insight into my brain right now. I’ll be back soon.

Molly.

Currently: 13th

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(via Netflix)

I say currently, I watched this last week, but it’s obviously still with me now.

13th, directed by Ava DuVernay (of Selma-directing brilliance) is a powerful, intense and emotional documentary that manages to get you angry and move you to action without draining you. The information is presented in simple terms, explained by experts and eyewitnesses whilst the numbers slowly tick by, in blacks, reds and greys, setting the tone for the film: one of complexity and violence. The film is named after the 13th amendment to the US Constitution that declares the end of slavery unless a crime has been committed. This loophole leads to the high, high numbers of incarceration of black people and the perpetuating of a narrative that regards black men as violent and dangerous criminals. Racism is entrenched in the US’s political system and this film makes a clear case for that whilst also avoiding too much hopelessness.

My explanation is nowhere near as well done as DuVernay’s so I recommend you just stop reading and watch it now if you haven’t done so already. And as soon as I finished, I watched the featurette with DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey which only made me appreciate the film even more. At this time in politics, and in particular the precarious relationships between US politics and media and race, this film is a strong statement, quietly presenting facts and statistics and opinions from both sides in an unbiased way. As a white Scottish woman, I cannot understand what it means to be black in the US but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t learn about it.

The film and the featurette with Oprah are both on Netflix so easily accessible! Also you should follow DuVernay, she’s great! I mean, look at her twitter handle, that’s how you know someone’s good.

Molly.