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Somehow I have not posted since February. Things have alternated between not being interesting enough to write about and being SO BUSY I can't bring myself to type up every little thing.

So if anyone's still reading this, let me explain - no, there is too much. Let me sum up:

- I spent most of the last few months seeking out volunteering opportunities at museums and seizing them with both hands. I became dead certain that this was the career I wanted to go into, so I started looking out for jobs and applying. Thing is, it's super competitive, even when we're not in a recession with 20% youth unemployment. A lot of volunteering and job rejections later, I decided an MA in Museum Studies was probably my best option for the next year (definitely beat living at home, at least) and managed to get a last minute place at Newcastle. I gave up hope of finding a job and accepted the place at the beginning of July... and almost immediately afterwards, heard about a job at the National Media Museum in Bradford which I sounded qualified for. Decided 'what the hell' and applied. Got an interview. Had the interview yesterday - and was phoned about an hour later to be told HOLY SHIT I GOT THE JOB. I GOT A JOB!!! A JOB I REALLY WANTED!!

- So in September, I will be moving to the general area of Leeds and starting AN AMAZING JOB. I'm going to be an Explainer. Have you ever been to a museum, where there's been a show or something that runs about twice a day and has a really enthusiastic person presenting it and doing awesome things and MAKING LEARNING FUN? Bitches, that's going to be ME. One of these shows is about CINEMA SPECIAL EFFECTS and I am praying to be allowed to blow stuff up. Also, I get to help them come up with new shows and activities. I AM BEING PAID TO DO ALL THIS. It's a part time job, 28 hours a week, and I'm getting paid over £12000 a year. If I find myself another part time job working in a bar in the evenings or something, I am GOLDEN.

- I'm still with Alistair, we've been going out for over a year and a half now! It's still a bit up in the air about what's happening come September - he'll be working in Gloucestershire and travelling about quite a lot, I'll be in Bradford, and I'm not sure he's keen on long distance - but I guess I'll just have to see what happens. I haven't always been as cool and zen about this as I am now - I was actually pretty damn upset about it a couple of weeks ago - but like I said, doing better now. Que sera sera, and all that.

- I've also done a lot of travelling over the past few months. I went to New Zealand and Hong Kong with my parents - in NZ, I did paragliding, white water rafting, sea kayaking and BUNGEE JUMPING ohgodneveragain - and Ireland to visit my sister, and Paris with some friends for general sightseeing and tombs research (my friend is doing an interesting PhD). I have failed to make it back out to America to visit reasonablycrazy again, just because things kept HAPPENING, but once my job starts and I know about how much holiday I have, PLANS WILL BE BEING MADE.

- I organised and ran the Treasure Trap 3YGB 'Midsummer'. It was freaking wicked.

So, a new chapter in my life begins. New city, new job, new people. Will I be posting on here in a couple of months complaining about screaming schoolchildren and how impossibly lonely I am? Who knows. But for now, I know I'm going to see BATMAN LIVE tomorrow, and I can worry about the rest of the future after that.

It's like a circus where the clowns are SUPPOSED to be scary, and Batman FIGHTS THEM. I cannot wait.


Does being more affected by tragedies that have impacted people you know make you a bad person?

I got a phonecall at 5am yesterday morning and, as anyone should know, phonecalls at 5am are rarely good news. Either something bad has happened, or you have a friend with no knowledge of boundaries. This call was from my parents, currently on holiday in New Zealand, letting me know that there'd been an earthquake in Christchurch, and that they were fine, but they were still trying to get in contact with my cousin and her husband and kids.

Over the course of the day, I found out they were all fine, and my sister found out that her boyfriend from last year who'd had to go back there was fine, but - there were still a whole lot of people who weren't. My cousin is a doctor, and she's apparently having a very traumatic time at work, she's not used to dealing with things like this. Her husband spent all yesterday digging people out of buildings. Their house is covered in cracks.

Just. Your brain goes crazy with possibilities. What if they'd been out for the day as a family? What if my parents had gone to Christchurch a few days early? Part of the cathedral collapsed, and they're apparently not expecting to pull anyone alive from in there. They'd have definitely gone to visit there, there's a plaque to one of my ancestors in there (the dude who actually FOUNDED Christchurch). He took quite a bit of his family out there when he went and explored and founded and suchlike - tiny bit of me wonders, how many distant relations might have died that I don't even know about?

OK, this entry is veering into angst territory, but I guess what I'm trying to say is, I feel like I have a personal connection to Christchurch on several levels. I'm actually still travelling out there on Friday, but I get the idea it's going to be quite a different trip now.

I'm not going to ask people to go and donate to their relief or anything because, well, it's a developed country and they're way better off than the people in Haiti or Pakistan or similar were, and I'd feel like a huge hypocrite asking on behalf of Christchurch if I didn't then ask for every other disaster which came our way (which, incidentally, is it just me or do there seem to be more things like this happening this year?). But, well, I'll be keeping them in my thoughts because I apparently can't NOT, so if you have a moment to spare, it'd be nice if you could as well.

Sunday afternoon well spent

So, zed_pm posted on her LJ the idea of posting ten pictures of very very pretty lovely people for Valentines Day, and because I need minimal excuse to spend my Sunday afternoon googling pretty people, here they are!

I appear to have a type.Collapse )

I am totally busy, honest

I am feeling good about things so I figured it was time I posted what I was up to at the moment!

* I've been working with the Sunderland Museum for the past couple of weeks. Basically, they're hosting an exhibit from the National Portrait Gallery called 'Writers of Influence', with portraits of famous writers, including THE Shakespeare portrait and a rather awesome 3D one of JK Rowling. Basically, we're researching certain writers in groups and have had a few training sessions (one hosted by a writer, one by the Newcastle improv lot the Suggestibles) about presenting it in an interesting way to the public, and we go to the opening night to talk to the public. I also got to go see the gallery when it was only half set up and still behind metal shutters and everything and got told all about how things like that come together and how much work goes into them. It has helped me figure out I WANT TO WORK IN MUSEUMS.

* The other thing requiring the most of my time at the moment is, shock horror, THE GYM. I got a membership back in November and god knows it was expensive enough that I'm going to get my money's worth. Currently the pattern goes 1. Work out till you're about to die, 2. Stagger around in pain for the next couple of days, 3. Recover, 4. Go back to the gym and work HARDER. But I'm starting to feel fitter, more awake, and definitely more virtuous (walking home is glorious, head held high going all I JUST WENT TO THE GYM, BITCHES, except when my legs don't work). So even if I'm not actually losing any weight, at least I'm not gaining more as I would inevitably do if I spent this year sat around on my ass.

* Things are great with Alistair. Now he's the one working himself to exhaustion with a Masters and I'm the one looking after him. We're still not sure what's going to happen next year, when we both leave Durham to seek our fortune elsewhere, and I try not to think about it too much because it causes me untold frequently told anxiety.

* I am utterly failing to write anything. THIS SUCKS. I know writer's block is a frequent excuse for people who just can't be assed, but... I think I might actually have it. As in, whenever I try to sit down to force myself to write something, anything I do manage to get down on paper is strained, painful, and reads back as horrifically awful. I'm so used to my own style of writing that I see anything I write in it as cliched now. Given that there's currently an opportunity to submit sitcom scripts for the BBC, THIS IS REALLY BAD TIMING.

* 3YGB forms are out! Now I just get to sit back till February and scheme things as people's requests roll in. Of course, then I'll have to start writing briefs and everything, so the block had better have lifted by then.

* Alistair has challenged me to choose a recipe out of this monster of a cookbook I got for Christmas and cook it this evening. I am currently flicking through it and feeling vaguely daunted. THERE ARE QUAILS AND JUS IN HERE.

The Sunderland Museum thing ends in February, and then I have New Zealand and Hong Kong, and I'm trying to get volunteering experience at the Oriental Museum for when I get back. Then I actually have to figure out what to do NEXT. To say that's somewhat daunting would be a typically British stoic understatement. But I also have lots of new music at the moment to get me through it - including the Tangled soundtrack, which I haven't even seen the film of yet, but I STILL already love.

I'd better go choose a recipe already. So far jambalaya looks easiest, which is worrying in of itself.

PS: Just remembered, I made this list of things I wanted to do on my gap year. I'm just going to look through it and see how many I've done!Collapse )

Rounding off 2010

It's that time of year again! By which I mean the time when I'm eating leftovers all day as my mother tries to clear the fridge, and the time I get all reflective on my livejournal.

This year has been... busy. Oh so busy. The latter half of my MA was very very intense and I had previously unknown levels of stress. I was trying to figure out this whole relationship malarkey but, given that it's still going on, I guess I'm doing an all right job.

I did lots of Improv things and Guards! Guards! and got good reviews for both, earning the nicknames 'Sexy Wonse' and 'Clamps'. I travelled to Glasgow, America, Edinburgh and Ireland (bit too busy to go further), not to mention various visits to various people dotted all over the country. I wussed out of doing anything serious with my life for another year and seriously considered attending a ninja academy (unfortunately it doesn't look like I'm going to have time this year). I volunteered at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and met many awesome people and got involved with the Sunderland Museum and an upcoming portrait exhibition. I didn't write anything major, which is a bit rubbish of me. My granddad died and his funeral made me smile rather than cry. I fell down Painswick Beacon, rode on the back of a racecar, nearly gave my mum a heart attack at the Giant's Causeway, visited a Necropolis and proved my skills as a Jedi Master, learned to cook (a bit), learned to draw (a bit), saw a ballet and joined a gym. I dated one Gentleman Adventurer and helped send him to Venezuela, and then acted as another Gentleman Adventurer's flag officer while he was gone. Finally, awesomely, I achieved the rank of Master Magi by slaying a dragon.

But the main thing I'll probably always remember this year before is definitely the relationship malarkey. Goddamn, a whole year. HURRAY!

Next year? I've got the aforementioned Sunderland Museum thing, and then I'm travelling to New Zealand and Hong Kong. Major 3YGB writings will take place in the Spring, and I'm hopefully planning the ultimate Improv Social to Amsterdam in April, which will be epic and never spoken of again. I'd love to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a volunteer in August, and of course I want to go to America to visit my One True Lesbian Love Jackie again. I'd also love to go to Canada or somewhere. THERE ARE STILL PLANS TO BE MADE.

I now need to run off to catch my train to Stroud and I can't think of any nice way to finish this entry off. Er. Have a good new year!

Freedom = too much free time

Sooooo I'm kinda getting another crazy idea. I've always wanted to see the Northern Lights. Apparently they're most visible between September and March. HEY - I'm free in January and early February! It can't hurt to LOOK, right?

Now I'm finding package deals which take you on cruises in Norway with flights included for NOT TOO MUCH MONEY (ahem) or in Iceland with other winter holiday activities and aaargh they are TEMPTING.

Aaand then there's one where you can stay in THE ICE HOTEL. I need to examine how much money I have and just how crazy I'm feeling.

To be sure to be sure to be sure

So, I've just got back from Ireland! As part of my plan to Travel Travel Travel during my gap year, I accompanied my mum out to visit my sister in Belfast, and we also travelled to county Donegal, where my grandma came from, and went to Dublin on a day-trip.

County Donegal was absolutely GORGEOUS. Just, every mental image you might have of Ireland was to be found here (except, well, "the troubles", that was mostly in Belfast) - rolling green hills, crashing sea on rocky crags, ruined castles just hanging out on cliffsides all "Hey, guys, I'm a ruined castle, no big deal, go about your day". I saw my grandma's old house (now a ruin) and her old school (freshly painted with an octopus on the wall of the playground) and generally wandered about alongside rivers and lakes and wondered whether she'd been there too.

Also gorgeous? The Giants Causeway. I went climbing out on the strange hexagonal pillar rocks amongst the waves and nearly gave my mum a stroke. But, like she said, I had to do it, because they were just so AWESOME and it was all so PRETTY and standing out on the rocks amongst the waves looking at the giant bay and the sun just shining over the top of it and looking at everything just slightly swathed in mist, so it all looked like it was straight out of a legend, such that I thought that weirdly-dressed guy with the beard who was hanging around by some rocks for ages might really be a wizard - utterly magic.

Dublin was a very pretty city, but it was freaking cold that day so we didn't do as much sight-seeing as we might have done, instead regularly retreating to pubs and cafes for hot drinks. A text to Alistair from a top of a bus mentioning how cold we were led to him recommending the Temple Bar, which we were very close to, so we hopped off and got IRISH COFFEE which is surely a gift of a drink from the gods themselves.

I wasn't a huge fan of Belfast, though. It's a very industrial city, and I wasn't a huge fan of being greeted by my sister with a list of places I probably shouldn't go, and being told I probably shouldn't wear my poppy for Remembrance Day because it was connected to the British army. It also didn't help much that, two of the main days we were there, it was chucking it down with rain. We got lovely weather all the rest of the time, just those two days were appalling, and my trainers leaked so I ended up with wet socks.

Mostly, though, it was the politics. I am truly terrible at talking about Irish politics (hence the uneasy air quotes used around the troubles above, because that seriously is how England keeps referring to it, like it was a patch of bad weather which cleared up eventually) whereas it is the centre of my sister's artwork, played a big role in my family's past, and pretty much affects and has affected many people I know and everyone who lives in Ireland today. When my sister showed me the murals of Bloody Sunday in Derry, all I could say was, "They're nice." And they were! They were very striking pieces of artwork. Could I give an opinion as to their message? Hardly. I'd be far too scared.

In fact, I can't really say more than that. Belfast is full of murals and barricades and buildings with bullet holes in and places I shouldn't go and I couldn't really think what I thought about it all, other than it sucked (because violence always sucks. Man, I'm deep). So now I'm walking away from that topic, still thoroughly embarrassed that I'm too nervous to have opinions. But honestly, it's because I know I'm ignorant about it. Maybe I'll try to become less ignorant about it, but I don't have time to do that before I go to bed, so it'll have to wait till this entry is posted.

So now I'm home! And I'm going back to Durham on Friday. And I've just found out I can't go to Banquet, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, because I'll be in New Zealand - which, as far as prior commitments go, is not bad at all, but still, I wish I could do both :(

Here be photo of me at the Giants Causeway!Collapse )

Year of Awesome!

So! My dissertation is done and dusted and shunted from my life, I have recovered and drunk copiously, and tomorrow I'm off to volunteer at the Cheltenham Literature Festival for two weeks! I'll mostly be shepherding the public all over the place, but I'm really hoping I'll get to see some of the talks going on. Simon Pegg! Michael Caine! Lindsey Davis! Guillermo del Toro! Stephen Fry! SO MANY AWESOME PEOPLE! I must have the time to stalk at least ONE of them.

Still planning the rest of the Year of Awesome, but I'm going to Ireland in November to visit my sister, and Mega Trip One has been scheduled - I'm going to New Zealand in February! My parents were already going out there for their silver wedding anniversary, and now I'm going out to join them for the tail-end of their trip, and the stopover in Hong Kong on the way home. I bought the tickets today and felt the money going out of my bank account as a physical pain.

August, I'm hoping to work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I'm going to have to write the Treasure Trap 3YGB at some point, but I'm hoping to travel a bit more in either April or July. Right now, trying to decide between Canada or a wander around Europe, and figure out whether I can do both for less money.

This year would have been a lot less extravagant, but with my inheritance from my granddad, I'm a bit more financially liberated than I would have been. I was all for putting it all in savings, but my parents were like "No! Tour the world!" I tried to point out that they were supposed to be my voices of reason, but to no avail.

Anyway, yes, LIFE IS AWESOME.

Just daydreaming

Things I really, really want to do in my gap year:

1. Teach myself to draw
2. Teach myself to cook more things (bolognaise, stir-fry and coq au vin are all very well and good, but I'd like a repertoire)
3. Go white-water rafting
4. Read lots
5. Finish writing either two first-draft novels, or one and actually edit it
6. Finish one of my big-ass cross-stitches (not actually depicting big asses)
7. Learn to drive
8. Get part-time jobs and internships in various places
9. Visit Jackie in Americaland
10. Go somewhere abroad on my own for an adventure (current candidates: 3-week adventure holiday in Canada, culture tour of Italy, working in New Zealand, kung-fu academy in China)
11. Join a gym, keep going to the gym
12. Get good at painting my nails
13. Go through all the stuff in my room and get rid of a lot of it

Any other recommendations? If you had a few months to spare, what would you do with them?

Technical things, memoriam things

So, I've got an extension on my dissertation deadline till the 27th. That's an extra 17 days, that'll give me time to go home for the funeral whenever it may be and to get over the urges to just sit and stare ahead and do nothing. My tutors were very helpful and very sympathetic. They also recommended I apply for mitigating circumstances, though they did admit that since I've got an extension, they will consider the situation already somewhat 'mitigated'. I took that to mean that if I got, say, a 69 on my dissertation (unlikely anyway) they might tip it over into a 70, but otherwise would probably just leave it be.

I hate applying for extensions. It feels like taking advantage, somehow. I mean, I might not even end up using all of this extension, I mainly applied for it for peace of mind - I honestly don't know how I'm going to react to this, it's been a long time since my last family death, and it's reassuring to know that, if I end up with my brain going blank again as it did so epically last night, I have the extra time to allow it to happen.

But still. My brain is strict, apparently.

ReminiscingCollapse )

Of course, even though I've got an extension, I can't think of much to do with my time other than work. And I definitely want to keep my mind off things. So I guess I'll get back to dissertationing.