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02 March 2010 @ 03:17 am
 Up again. It's almost three in the morning here in Scotland and I am awake again. I guess the wine was a mistake. 

I have a lot of stresses, debts, worries about Felix (just normal mom worries), concerns about my health and weight, self-loathing for my lack of direction and drive. I've been working on a fantasy story (mediocre, but it pleases me), but it's not really filling the hole.

Still, all of these concerns are old. The feeling I've had lately is one of constant tension. I feel blank inside and then I get really irritated. I put the irritation down to tiredness but now I'm not so sure. 

I probably shouldn't be on the computer. I find the computer and the TV give me a buzz that keeps me up, no matter how banal the content I view or read. I'm listening to a radio adaptation of a Poirot mystery at the moment. I can never keep the character's names straight, and there are always so many.

The main thing on my mind these days, besides what I've listed above, is the next move I am going to make. I have three options actually.

The first and most practical is to do teacher training for a year. It requires a small student loan (the rates here are better than those for student loans in the US) but I do have a guaranteed job for the first year after I qualify. After that I have to apply for jobs, but at least I would have a solid marketable skill.

The second, and more desirable, is to do my PhD. While funding for the teacher training is in little doubt, to do my PhD would require me to get AHRC funding. They would pay my tuition as well as a maintenance fee... for three years. What a dream that would be! But I did not get a first for my Masters (an A) and I do not have any other stellar academics under my belt. Of course, if my topic was sexy enough I might get funded anyway, but that is a complete crap shoot. 

Of course, you are thinking I should just apply for both and cross my fingers. Unfortunately, once I apply for the AHRC funding at one university (in this case Aberdeen), I cannot apply for the funding through that university again. This year they have one grant in my area, next year there are two. If I wait I have time to get some publications and make myself a more appealing choice.

That brings me to my third option which is to do nothing this year. I can just get by on the dole and with what Ewen manages to earn over the summer. I might get one of the many office jobs for which I continuously apply. Felix starts nursery in August so I would have time to work on some projects, for a couple of hours each day anyway.

The application for Aberdeen University has to be in by mid April to have a chance at the funding (no idea when I would actually find out whether I got it or not). The teacher training is slightly more flexible but I should have it all in by May to make sure I get a place.

Of course, if I do teacher training it really just postpones my PhD for a while. I could save up some money and Ewen will be earning in a few years as well so we could manage to pay for it ourselves. I think I would probably enjoy teaching - aspects of it anyway - but it would take much more time and energy than an office job and would be a great emotional commitment for the first few years at least, exactly at the time when Ewen is working odd hours and studying hard. I worry that I would end up feeling even more alone.
Listening To: Poirot - I'm totally lost
01 March 2010 @ 06:57 pm
Just had the best dinner ever with my daughter. Instead of stressing out about getting her to finish her food (I was done, E had long ago headed off to the bedroom to do his work) I put on some music and did my geeky mom dancing and horrible singing. She joined in as best she could (and even tried to keep up with Letterbox by TMBG!) and copied all of my dance moves and clapping. 

Pure joy.

Other than that the last five days have been filled with ****anxiety**** and a slight illness which kept me up for hours every night. No matter how tired I was, when I laid down to sleep I felt wide awake. I am used to dealing with my stresses and bouts of depression, that feeling that I am underwater, but this was new and very distressing. 

I think I've sorted the problem out, though, thanks to deep breathing and cutting down on the caffeine. The last two nights I managed a decent sleep. I am rewarding myself with a glass of wine tonight, I think.

The Pogues are helping me sort out my head at the moment - and later I will put on the Star Trek and try some art, then off to bed for a few minutes of Wallace Stevens:

Disillusionment of Ten O'clock
The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.
Listening To: Rain Street - the pogues
11 August 2009 @ 07:03 am
15 December 2008 @ 03:45 pm

Remember that giant squid they found and were slowly thawing out? Of course you do. It is now on exhibit in Te Papa, NZ. Since most of us cannot make it down there they have set up a great website. You can see pictures of the thawing process and of the great jiggling mass of squid, as well as build your own squid. (I built a squid and its name is Milton). 
It's a comprehensive site with detailed information on the body of the squid as well as some scientific speculation about how it all works.
15 December 2008 @ 03:08 pm
The financial reports are bad (though sometimes amusing) and here in Scotland the days are getting much shorter (sunrise today was at 8.38 and sunset will be at 15.33) - so it's nice to escape for a while to the Mekong...



There are a few other images available on the BBC web page.

14 December 2008 @ 09:28 am
From: ShamWow
Subject: You'll say WOW every time with ShamWow
Feeling: awakeawake
As I get older, and realize that I will probably not live forever despite my strict adherence to a wine and cheese diet, I appreciate more the importance of good health care.

When I lived in Kentucky I worked a decent job that provided some health care. This covered, wonderfully enough, my dental needs but not my need for old-lady prescription glasses and contact lenses. I never had a hospital experience there so I can't really comment on that, but I know I would have had to pay a certain amount for each visit.

Since coming to the UK I am consistently amazed at the 'free at point of care' concept. Now I have no insurance but, because we are on a low-income, I get free dental care (which is also offered to every woman for the first year after she gives birth). I just enjoyed having my wisdom teeth out for free - joy.
For the general population, if you can find an NHS dentist over here (good luck, they are out there) then you get a portion of your basic dental care covered.

Everyone gets free eye tests and a discount on glasses.

I especially appreciated the health system when I got pregnant. Not only did I receive free care and advice, I had a midwife who visited my house and talked me through everything. There were lots of options from which I could choose, in terms of the type of hospital stay and birthing plan (including access to a birthing pool). Of course, some of this was determined by my location. In the end, a hospital birth made the most sense because I did not want to be in screaming agony (epidurals are not generally offered at birthing centers) - but to each their own.

The follow-up care is also pretty comprehensive. You get a health visitor who, well, visits. Trust me, this is very valuable when you have just had a baby, haven't showered in weeks, are still bleeding/scarred, and when you've not been through it all before.

All in all I have a pretty positive view of the NHS. Granted, I read about MRSA and I've waited for hours in waiting rooms, but I prefer this broken-down system to the broken-down system in the US no question.

The trick is, however, to find a balance between the 'advanced and innovative' health care in the US (advanced and innovative being code words for expensive) and the 'free and egalitarian' health care of the UK (free and egalitarian being a code words for inefficient).

One of the differences between the two systems (outside of the structural, bureaucratic differences) is the focus in the US on the individual paying for their own health care needs. That is, if you have private insurance, or even employer-based insurance, you are paying now for some circumstances that might occur in the future to yourself. Even then, of course, there is no guarantee that you will be covered for everything.

The same might generally be said of the UK except that, because the NHS is a national behemoth, the cost of healthcare comes out of your paycheck in taxes and is poured into the NHS system. Your money might be paying for some little child's cancer treatment (as long as it's not new or experimental) or some junkie's methadone dose.

I know this isn't actually how it works - certainly not on the US side where your money paid to a private insurer covers them just in case one of their other clients gets dreadfully ill and they actually decide to pay out - but there is a fundamental difference in ethos that I think is important. It is the reason why people like Michael Moore look over the pond and think "If only...", ignoring the many problems with the NHS.

The NHS is not a solution for the US. But neither is allowing health insurers to dictate policy.

One of the main benefits of paying into a system that is free at the point of care is that it encourages people to visit the doctor. You see that chunk of money come out of your paycheck and you feel entitled to have a doctor or nurse look at your mole or listen to your phlegmy throat. This means that illnesses are often dealt with at an earlier stage, saving costs in the long run.

The prenatal care women receive is also important for their mental health and the health of their child. My older brother, a pediatrician in New York, was impressed at the prenatal care I received and despaired that more comprehensive care was not offered to people in the US.

A recent Reuters article called the American system of health care 'costly and inefficient'. This epithet is also often applied to the NHS, despite its attempts to keep costs low by only paying for the cheapest drugs for any particular illness.

I hope there is a middle ground somewhere, between what seems like a lack of accountability of the health insurance companies, which puts consumers on uncertain footing, and the political accountability of the NHS, which means they can't be seen to be 'wasting' money on costly treatments.

In both cases many of the people paying into the system don't seem to be getting what they want or need. However, at least in the UK you can get decent treatment (equal treatment) even if you are not paying into the system at the time of medical need.
01 September 2008 @ 09:59 am
The weekend was disappointing to say the least.

However, it's crapness was mitigated by the fact that Ewen and I were staying in the same hotel as Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, including (though I didn't realize this at the time) Janet Weiss - previously a member of Sleater Kinney!

They ate breakfast at the table next to us and talked about music. It sounded like they were slagging off Queens of the Stone Age and the Killers.

Ewen wanted to go grab the camera but it didn't seem appropriate to interrupt their breakfast.

Back up in the room we saw Malkmus go for a walk and we thought we'd missed our chance, but when we went out to get a newspaper we bumped into him. He was totally sound. We talked about the festival and how we missed his set Friday night (one of the reasons the weekend was crap). Then he commented on the fact that we had Felix Rose with us and we talked about kids at festivals.

We didn't go into music - we didn't even manage to say that we liked his stuff! Ewen felt a bit tongue-tied and I was chasing after Felix - but the chat went rather well, considering.

I met Stephen Malkmus on my birthday. It was a good weekend.
29 May 2008 @ 11:53 am
I recently got an email from my friend who lives in France. She wants to do an online magazine project with me. It'll probably be a slow starter, but at least we'll both know there's at least one person reading our stuff. After we get it set up and figure out what exactly we want it to look like I'm sure we'd be happy to have other contributors - so, watch this space and, if any of you are interested, I'll keep you updated.
22 May 2008 @ 09:29 am
Determined not to feel like a total mess and wallow in self-pity I am increasing my efforts in self-improvement (not just self-aggrandizement).

Today I have my community outreach Sociology class. It's not bad, if a bit superficial. I want to sink my teeth into some more theory!

Still, it keeps the brain cells working, working, working.

Yesterday (and this morning, and all last week) my brain was mush. I find I can write articulately but holding a conversation, or speaking in an interview, is beyond me.

I'm living too much in my own head these days, and not even making good use of it!
21 May 2008 @ 10:34 am
The skies have been a little bleak lately - and I'm not just talking about the weather. I recently had a job interview (HR Assistant) that completely devastated the slim skeleton of my self-confidence and I'm now clawing my way back to...

.. some kind of hopeful existence, I guess.

I have been thinking a lot about writing, which, of course, is not the same thing as actually writing but at least I'm working on something in my head.

Felix is good. She's a big girl. She can stack blocks really well and loves her 'moonies' (movies), especially anything with a bear or a dog in it. I just got her Potty Time with Bear in the Big Blue House - jumping the gun? Probably. She's not even 17 months yet but I figure a video won't scare her away and might plant that seed of curiosity.

Back to the interview thing. I sucked. I had actually prepared for this interview, thought about what questions they might ask and considered my answers. But I lost all confidence. I was so nervous and I forgot to feel good and proud about who I am and what I've accomplished.

I've thought of ways to rectify this in future, of course, besides the ongoing process of bucking myself up. Still, I would have been great at this job and I've not seen anything else out there that really comes close to it in terms of a good career opportunity - not in Aberdeen and certainly not in Dundee.

I know, I know, it could always be worse. I just feel that I've let myself down.

PS. Once again, anyone who's interested should go visit my political blog http://unevenground.blogspot.com - more topical whining.
30 April 2008 @ 09:55 am
A couple of feminist blogs for this fine Wednesday morning:

Majikthise discusses forced ultrasounds for those considering abortions.

BitchPhD, with guest writer Sybil Vane, discusses feminism and the trend away from collective organization.

Oh yeah, and I've been blogging again as well.

Not to forget I Blame the Patriarchy and Pandagon.
Listening To: This Year's Kisses - nina simone
11 February 2008 @ 08:17 pm
Sender: Desperado_February102008@BearTrapping.com

Subject: Gruff Hairy Men
Feeling: gigglygiggly
11 February 2008 @ 11:14 am
Your results:
You are Superman
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

08 February 2008 @ 09:49 am
Big day today, though I'm trying not to get my expectations too high.

Ewen and I are going on a date! Mare's coming over to watch the little stinker (who is growing up by leaps and bounds, btw) and the husband and I are going to see Broken Records at the Doghouse.

It will be so nice to get out, just the two of us. Speaking of which, I need to go grab a shower before Felix Rose wakes up from her nap.