March

I’m looking forward to next month. Even though I know it’ll be a struggle financially – I’m going to have to get through it on £200. I’m just hoping it will be a month of opportunities.

The good news is that I have a job interview in my old college on Friday. The role is temporary (when is it not?) but I need full-time work. I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up but I’ve applied for a couple of other jobs that are due to interview next week, and I really feel like I could get invited to one of them at least.

I’m doing some administrative support of the Summer Internship scheme over the next couple of months too. It’s likely to be approximately two days a week.

So, my May is looking to be comfortable and secure. I can’t wait.

Inbetween

Last week I stumbled upon the above video. I had been thinking about doing a vlog for quite a while, but it’s just something I keep putting off. When I saw the video I was going to post about the thoughts it stirred in me. But, I don’t know, that never happened. I can kinda relate. I do talk openly in my blog, but there are still some things I’m in the middle of processing. I thought a vlog would be a great opportunity to get them all out (as my mind is moving three times the speed of my typing).

The short of it is that I feel it’s time to move on from where I am at (which I know I touch on here, but what I don’t mention is how all-consuming it feels). I got a phonecall today from a relative, and they had clearly been speaking to another relative I had confided my feelings to. I was not ready to speak to this person. But this person was prying. At one point they asked Is there anything you want to tell me? I didn’t.

I felt awful immediately. I felt the tears building up. I was not lying, I did not hide anything but I felt a fakeness in my answer.

I definitely feel that I’m at a fork in the road. I don’t want to lose anything I have now, I love my little Brighton bubble and the people here, but I feel like I want more. When is it time to make the change? Because whenever I feel it coming, I back away. I feel attached to every little thing – the streets, the people, the buildings, fleeting moments that most would ignore but as I feel my days here are numbered I cling to them.

I guess I’ll just keep on floating along until I feel it’s time.

Undertow

The EdublogsClub prompt today is embedding. I’m happy to see this as I had planned to embed a playlist and talk about music at some point in the future. I did want to do a fancy html embed of loads of mp3s. However, I hurt my hand today and typing is difficult (unless I type with just my middle finger – and that takes ages).

So, anyway, here’s a song that reminds me of moving to Brighton. 2010 was a time full of change and excitement for me. There are so many memories about this year.

Undertow.

Whoosh

I have a dozen blog posts in my head I’d like to write. But right now, I am struggling to organise my thoughts. I think they have been pretty chaotic for the last fortnight or so. Job rejections have hit me hard and I feel like I have no peace.

For some reason I have been reading adoption blogs. I can’t remember what made me start reading them. Something triggered a connection. I started reading Life with Boy and Girl, and from that I discovered 2newgirls (which I binge-read last weekend). I loved reading these blogs.

What I’ve noticed about these blogs is that the parents really acknowledge and try to understand their children’s behaviour/communication. Child development, or rather knowledge about child development, has really advanced in the decades since I was a child. Or maybe it hasn’t and it is just unfortunate people in my life were not able to have these type of discussions when I was growing up. Maybe this type of information and support was only accessible to a select few. I wonder how different my life would be if I had different/more support growing up.

Support was odd in the 1980’s. Social workers just seemed to check that I wasn’t being beaten up and that I was being fed and washed. My primary teachers were useless. I wasn’t performing well at school so I was ignored and left to it. Or I was called lazy. But really I just was afraid to talk to other people. Nobody noticed this, or if they did notice they didn’t see it as something that was a problem. That’s the main difference I am seeing in childcare today – we have now acknowledged that care is more than protecting from harm, it’s giving tools to help thrive. And those tools need to be given to parents and carers as well as the child.

One of the key things I’ve learnt over the past few years is that if something isn’t bad it doesn’t mean it’s good. There is a place in between. This is hard to explain to some of the people in my life. It’s like when I explained to my Dad that he was liable for hitting a stationary car which had stopped outside the drive he was reversing out of. The car was behind a hedge so my Dad couldn’t see it. That was enough for my Dad to think he wasn’t at fault. But in these things, there is more than right and wrong. More than one or the other.

I am still learning about myself. And then feeling sad that it has taken over thirty-five years to understand things about me. I only just realised this weekend how often my sadness presents as anger and vice versa. I got a job rejection that enraged me. I wanted to ask what was wrong with me because I am sure I meet the criteria (in fact, I’m certain because I’m doing the same job in a different university) and then my mind went wandering on to how I hate people telling me how good I am at things because then I feel embarrassed that I can’t get the job, then I wonder if their words are hollow because they pity me. Then I question what’s true and what’s not. I go around in circles until I’m sick.

Shame, guilt and failure seem to be underneath everything I feel. Whenever I try to explore my emotions I find them buried underneath.

I know I am hard to be around. I sabotage good things in my life, because I worry about them ending. I’ve done it three times already this month. I don’t feel safe enough to show my genuine emotions as they happen, whatever I am feeling I am showing a different emotion. Sometimes I layer so many feelings that I confuse myself.

I wish I had an outlet for my anger growing up. Rather than burying it, or turning it inward. Whenever it started making it’s way to the surface I was then chastised. My anger was always made to feel like my fault. In a similar way, my sadness was always turned into a thing that pained others – so I ended up doing the caring, rather than be cared for. I had to console people for my sadness because it hurt them too much. Maybe that’s why I swapped anger and sadness around, or merged them.

I never wanted to show any happiness. I remember the few times I did I felt like a spectacle. My joy was always pounced upon, not to diminish but to bask in. Because it was such a treat for my loved ones to see me looking carefree. Sometimes I remember their smiles and I thought that they were gloating, sometimes I thought that they looked relieved but I am sure that they were just happy. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just wasn’t what I needed. However, it was a natural response – we feel please when we see our loved ones happy.

How can a person, especially a child, navigate these experiences? What can you do when people’s reactions (which are well-meaning, kind and full of love) hurt you? It feels horrible to point this out but just as bad to carry the pain.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

There was an unpublished post in my drafts folder for quite a while. I decided not to post it because I knew some people could take it personally. And perhaps I’d be accused of not understanding the meaning of solidarity.

My friend bought a copy of Giant Days last month. He said I should read it because it is about a student union, and I might find it interesting or funny. I kept saying yeah yeah but today I finally read it. Quite a few of the frames resonated with me.

It’s voting week and the candidates are canvasing votes. There’s a buzz in the Student Union office where I work. It’s mostly positive but occasionally the same old frustrations that put me off standing rear their heads. I didn’t quite know how to address these issues. Or where/who to address them to. These frustrations are not exclusive to student unions. I’ve been in activist communities for quite a while and these are some of the thoughts I’ve had surrounding addressing these issues.

Defensiveness
Yeah, I totally get it. When someone criticises you it’s hard to not take personally. But they shouldn’t be criticising you as a person – they are criticising the way you’ve fulfilled your role. Accept that it’s pretty difficult to please everyone all the time. Accept that some people are angry at you. Accept that some people are indifferent to you. Accept that you’ve ballsed up, if you have. Do not turn it around onto the person. I have often heard you need to work with us rather than against us. Do not be a person who says that. Find out why they don’t want to work with you in the first place. The fact that they felt they couldn’t work with you is a reflection on you and/or your organisation. Learn from it. If possible, facilitate it.

Engagement
Kinda following on from the above. Don’t disrespect the people you’re working with by only turning up when you need their support (or votes). Make a plan to find the disengaged people. Give them a platform – even if that involves you stepping off the platform and listening for a while. Remind people that they are part of what you do and they shape what you do. It’s hard to make people care when they think that you don’t, that’s why you should care. If you cannot engage people then at least try. If you walk in with a nobody cares attitude you annoy the ones who do care and damage whatever goodwill the rest have.

Privilege
If you’re got it, check it. If you not sure if you have it, still check it (there’s no harm in checking). The I’m just like you approach only works when it’s true. The rest of the time it’s unbearable.

Cliques
Urgh. Firstly, it’s off-putting to people who want to get more involved but are unsure for whatever reason. We expected to leave that BS back at secondary school. Actually, there’s nothing much to say after that because the first point is worrying enough. Which brings me on to…

Transparency
Report back. Show us what you are working on. I appreciate that bureaucracy stalks us all but don’t use it as a mask to do nothing. Information is great – give us some. The good kind and the bad kind. All the information you have. I’m not asking for the moon on a stick, or confidential notes, or anything that will endanger others; I just want to know if you’re trustworthy. Let us know about your vested interests, let us know how we can complain about or oust you.

Support
This should be an obvious one. Think about what support really means. Are you supporting, without ambition or judgement? Are you empowering, without expecting anything in return?

Do you think about our relationship/comradeship? Is it:
→power-balanced? →consensual? →safe?
→defined? →regulated? →transitional? →well-informed?

Is it time to check in and discuss these issues?

Onwards

I had gone a bit quiet for a couple of weeks. The only things happening in my life were upsetting and/or boring so I didn’t feel ready to share. But I did miss blogging.

This week has thrown up three exciting things. Three things that have got my brain moving. And, yes, I needed that. I always forget how restless I become when I’m not overworked and stressed.

More work. Due to a bi-annual data upload, I have a few days more work this month. I am so happy, so grateful and so relieved.

MRes. I went to an MRes open day. Like most things in academia, I didn’t feel like research was something I could do. But I found out about MRes Arts and Culture and was heartened to see that it is structured to academically prepare students for PhD research. I had so little knowledge about postgraduate education before this year – and I am still learning so much. I thought about pursuing education but I didn’t think I’d ever get past graduate level (even with luck, and on a good day).

The older I get, the more I realise that education doesn’t have a set pathway. I never thought I would be considering an MRes, just because I never thought I could do a PhD in an art-related subject without a solid academic background.

I am trying not to get swept up with my emotions. The open day was really exciting. It was pretty much what I expected university to feel like – a free reign to explore my interests with the support of two academics. I’m sure there’s more to it than that. I know nothing turns out the way you imagine. So, I’ve had to take a step back and think hard. Right now, I need to think about other pressing day-to-day things. But I’ve filed this experience away for another day.

Counselling. I also went to a counselling interview this week. Art therapy is a subject that comes up a lot as my interests are art and wellbeing. In my art practice, reflection is often something that happens. So I thought improving my listening/helping skills would be a good idea. I enjoyed the interview very much and I think the course would also benefit my mental health in addition to being another skill I can use in my art practice and work. I’ll make time to enrol later in the month (I’m taking a couple of weeks to think about it).

Feedback

The EdublogsClub prompt this week is feedback. As someone who regularly gives and receives feedback, I have to admit I can get a bit blasé with it. I usually work with marginalised people and/or supportive folk (carers, support staff…) – and we often end up just focusing on the positives. It’s a hard habit to get out of.

Last year I remember speaking to a classmate about a presentation. She was hugely supportive of my ideas and I left our study groups feeling elated. However, a few weeks later we had a tutorial and another person in the room was quite critical of my idea. I actually agreed with everything he said. I found it really difficult to understand the assignment aims – it’s something I continuously struggle with (even with guidelines). After a couple of weeks of study groups I felt confident that I had understood what was being asked of me because everyone around me was nodding, smiling and telling me my theme was interesting.

The deflation, after feeling like I had overcome a challenge, was really too much to cope with. I then rewrote my presentation in a week. But the short amount of time, on top of my anxiety, made me feel too ill to do the presentation.

I fully understand how difficult it is to give feedback. But whenever I am about to give feedback I remember that experience from last year. The feeling of false security I had because people were kind to me. I think about what sort of feedback would help me.

There are a few things that have helped me ask for and/or give feedback. Just add ICE.

Incorporate your/their interests – I love digital technology so if you want some good feedback from me collect it in a way that I will find fun. Surveys are OK, but I’m done them before. Try something different – like an eportfolio I have to upload something to or an app. Obviously, not everyone will want to give feedback in this way but I would.

Communicate – If the feedback you’ve collected is not useful then be honest about it. After receiving some vague feedback I started a discussion with a group of classmates explaining that I would appreciate their honest thoughts on my workshop. They understood as they had been in the same position previously. I’ve found most people want to be helpful, so if you communicate your needs they can give you more information. It’s also a great time to ask people how they like to give feedback and what you can do in the future to make them want to give more meaningful information.

Experiment – as an art student I like to be creative. When my tutors collected feedback there was no right or wrong way to communicate. And our feedback forms reflected this. We wrote, we drew, we collaged, we shouted, we used different materials (hint: using tracing paper is very fun and we ended up layering our feedback), we used physical movement to express our thoughts. Mix it up. If it doesn’t work, try something different next time.

Poster for the movie "Cool as Ice"

Poster for the movie “Cool as Ice”

Pop

I was really happy to see the EdublogsClub prompt this week was pop culture.

I think pop culture is an interesting part of our lives. Whatever your political/social view of pop culture, it’s hard to deny it’s pretty engaging. Even I, as someone who looks at everything with a unhealthy dose of scepticism, have been known to get a bit carried away with memes.

I don’t know what makes them so appealing but I guess it’s probably similar to Christmas cracker jokes – it has to work on multiple levels. Writing this line just inspired me to Google and I found this article Memes as Genre: A Structurational Analysis of the Memescape.

When I’m giving a presentation I always throw a meme in. Why?

  • Because they are visually pleasing; they explore a point I am making.
  • The content can be relatable; inspiring others to share/analyse.
  • And sometimes it just feels nice to see something you enjoy out of the classroom in the classroom – to remind you that you don’t learn in a vacuum.

Some memes are kinda obscure. I try to avoid those because they can potentially alienate other folk. But they are also very funny when you meet a like-minded person who understands the origins/significance. In my Masters eportfolio I illustrate this idea (folio.brighton.ac.uk/user/nd151/masters). If you know the meme you probably groaned when you clicked on that link. If you don’t know it, it was probably a bit odd. I can never resist a rickroll opportunity.

Marina

I’ve been looking at flats to rent in Brighton. I shouldn’t really be doing this, but I’m hoping I will secure a job in the next few months. So I wanted to see what I can realistically afford (answer: not much). However, I did see a cheap studio to rent and it was in excellent condition. I don’t mind the size of a property as long as it is comfortable. In Brighton you see really awful property. I wish I kept a record because you might not believe some of the things. I do remember seeing a medium sized room that was a kitchenette/lounge and thinking where is the bedroom? Then, I noticed a ladder attached to a partition wall. The bed was above the kitchenette – the owner had put in a structure so the room was like a cabin bed. There was probably a couple of feet between the bedmattress and original ceiling.

The studio I saw was in Brighton Marina, Western Concourse. I did a search and found lots of property there listed for sale as a leasehold. Some are really cheap but will only accept a cash payment. I don’t know much about leaseholds but they seem OK for someone in my position. In the long run they’d be cheaper than half of the flats I looked at.

I wouldn’t be in a position to think about this for at least two years (that’s providing I can get a permanent job with my desired salary). However, it’s a nice fantasy to get me through those glum moments.



source: watersideproperties.com/full-details?profileID=100324003455