Monthly Archives: February 2009

Mock.

I’ve finally made it to the ranks of the Nearly There. Next week I have my first mock driving test – a sort of ‘mini mock’ mainly to see Just How Much I Screw Up In One Hour. Then we’ll spend the next lesson or so going over said screw-ups, then I’ll have a two hour full mock, and then, hopefully, I can take my test. This probably takes us to just after Easter – I was hoping I’d be driving by Easter proper but I didn’t really believe that it would actually happen – although I may take my test just before Easter, it depends how long the waiting list is, for one thing. However I should almost certainly be driving by summer, which is still beyond belief. I am a happy bunny, it has to be said.

And some other fantastic news from the Home Front – I went running earlier this afternoon and fully tripled my previous distance, if not quadrupled it. To be fair, I wasn’t really making any effort before, but today I just about got round two and a half miles. This, for me, is a lot. I’ve just got to keep doing it now and I’ll be well on the way to doing the Race for Life.

It’s all coming together. Good times indeed, and long may they roll. Now, let me at that Neuro textbook!

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Filed under Happenings, Life, Uncategorized, University, World

Outside of Cosmo…

…isn’t this just the most patronising and backward article you have read? I think it may be. I mean, seriously. I can probably do all the things on the list bar walking in heels and cooking for a dinner party, and I make a fair stab at those anyway. This article just panders to all these silly, frilly stereotypes which are frankly unfair. I can’t imagine that there are women out there who have any need of an article like this. Very annoyed now.

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Results

I got mine a week before everyone else. I am that special. Actually it was mainly because I was told them when I went to go and give in my Special Circumstances form to my head of year. He told me the Exam Board meeting was today, that he’d explained my case and that I’d gone down as Not Assessed for every examined module – which means that I failed, but I had good grounds for doing so (if you don’t know, go and read Cloudlife, that’s the whole story, of the last few months at least).

This means that I have to take resits in August, but that I don’t have to pay for them, and crucially, no-one will ever know how badly I failed, merely that I had a reason for not being assessed, and that I’m OK now. 

Oh, and if you want to know, I had three exams, and my results were something like 31%, 32% and 33%. Shocking, but I’d have no respect for any exam which I managed to pass after a semester like that. I’ve never done this badly on anything. It’s an interesting feeling. I don’t hugely mind, actually – as long as I really get the chance to prove myself in August.

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Fresher.

I don’t know how many of my readers are younger than me enough for this to be relevant, but never mind. Someone might find this at just the right time.

When you’re getting ready to go to university, everyone always talks about how amazing their university days where. They really discovered themselves there, they’re still friends with the people they met at university, and so on and so forth. So you go into first year expecting to immediately and easily just ‘come across’ the people who are going to mean  more to you than the friends you left behind. You expect to be happy, confident, accepted for who you are. And so on. You expect to be happier than ever before. You expect to just fit.

It doesn’t happen. 

Not for most people, anyway. It’s not that I’m unhappy here, far from it. But that it’s taking me ages to find my feet. And that I know from talking to all sorts of people that I’m not the only one by any means. So here are the things no-one ever tells you about being a fresher.

  • The blindingly obvious: you are not at home any more. This means that when you get home after a long day of lectures, not only do you find you have to cook, you also find that all you have in your possession is a couple of teabags, a slightly brown lettuce, some pasta and a bag of sugar. So either you’re going to have to head back out and do some shopping, or you’re going to have to beg some pesto or something from someone, or you’re going to spend an extortionate 80p on SuperNoodles from the vending machine downstairs. Either that or you remember on your way home that you have no food, and go shopping on your way, and find yourself attempting to drag your food for a week, lab coat, textbooks, paper, empty lunchbox and the rest back from the Somerfields. And don’t forget, you’re a student, you can’t afford the cab fare.
  • And of course, you get home, your day has been hard, what you want is just to sit down with a cup of tea and your mother/sister and have a good chat, but no, you come home and find your entire flat is dancing along to Grease or Mamma Mia, or headbutting beer cans until they burst.
  • You will miss your pets and your family and silly family rituals like porridge on a Sunday morning or knitting along to the news, however annoying you may have found all those things when you were back home.
  • There is a whole host of women: cleaners, supervisors, adminny types, who are incredibly menopausal and a right stickler for rules. They will contrive to make your life hell, blaming broken ceiling tiles outside a flat four floors down on you and demanding the sum of your deposit; and then, when that fails, trying to claim your deposit instead because you’ve taken the sensible decision to dry your washing in the odd extra room at the end of your corridor because it’s somehow a ‘fire hazard’. I swear the job spec given to these women says something like, ‘Person Specification: a tendency to the pedantic, and a huge megalomaniac streak will make you perfect for this job’ whilst the job specification itself says ‘extort money in every way you can think of whenever you’re not gossiping with the other women on the desk and completely blanking the poor kid in the corner who’s locked himself out again‘.
  • Everybody in your halls will decide to go out on the night before every single one of your 9am lectures. They will then come back at 5am singing nursery rhymes you thought you’d forgotten, but hilariously, they will change the words so they’re all about sex. For god’s sake bring earplugs and an eye-mask to university. However eccentric you may feel, no-one will see you wearing these things. And you will stay sane and not sleep deprived.
  • Fresher’s Flu is not a myth. You will be ill for weeks. You will still go to PopTarts for every single one of these weeks. Never think for a minute that the amount of time you spend being ill has anything to do with the amount of time you’ve spent in PopTarts.
  • You will either lose a lot of weight, or gain it. This depends on whatever you’re trying to do: if you’re trying to gain, you will lose, and vice versa.
  • Oh yes, that’s a good point. You will feel incredibly ugly and uninteresting for the first several weeks. You will feel incompetent, you will feel like you’re fourteen years old again. Every girl you meet will be ten times more beautiful and well-dressed than you are, and there probably will be nights when you don’t go out because you just feel far too fat and horrible, and can’t see the point: what man will ever be interested in you when he could be interested in any of the other girls you know instead? You will try to remedy this by spending all your money on dresses, thigh-slimming tights in thickest black, and safe, fat-woman black cardigans. I can’t promise that it will work.
  • So, you were the most intelligent in your classes back at school, were you? No longer. You’ll meet so much competition. And the annoying, ‘well, I should have got into medicine/Oxbridge/Harvard but then…’ types, who always have some stupid excuse. I know, I’m one of them. And we need to get over ourselves. 
  • Your coursemates will suddenly seem to best friends with one another and not you. Your flatmates will suddenly seem to be best friends with one another and not you. Your friends from hockey, church, KnitSoc, whatever your particular thing is, they will suddenly seem to be best friends with one another and not you. It’s not true – or maybe it is. I have no way of knowing. And it’s horribly destructive to feel like this, and yes, it will make you want to cry. 
  • All of this contributes to feeling just absolutely exhausted the whole damn time. That and the fact taht you’re going out far more than your body is happy with. You keep going, and you keep going, and you keep going, and every now and then you sit down and you think, my god, I’m exhausted. 

Apparently it picks up hugely in the second year. That’s another thing: be brave about houses. If you want to live with someone, ask them. Chances are they’re thinking the same about you. And don’t talk to people about living with them just because you feel sorry for them. You’ll regret it.

Anyway, I just wanted to bitch about that for a while, because it’s all stuff I’ve wanted to say for a while. I’m pretty happy now. I don’t feel very close to a lot of people, but I have got over that first term paranoia where you’re worried people don’t like you or don’t remember who you are, and things are getting better.

First year is not fun. It’s bloody difficult. But if you can get through that I gather it’s worth it in the end.

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One Of Those Dippy Born-Again Types, Are We?

It would seem so.

I was at my church cell* group today, and we were discussing the sermon from Sunday’s evening service, which was all about light – ‘you are the light of the world’, and all of that. We were taking apart exactly what it means, that we are all the light of the world, and began to see more and more that we are out there like candles in the hope of bringing light in the darkness to others, and setting light to other peoples’ candles. Anyway, we then went and started trying to write down exactly what this meant for us, and I realised more and more that this religion I’ve somehow gained touches on every part of my life, from what I want to do with my degree, to how I relate to the people I live with and the people I love, and everything else I do. I genuinely have started to feel that I have a purpose on this planet; that we all do – and that I owe it to everyone, God, whatever, to do my best to achieve that.

R, my closest friend and co-leader of our cell, was complimentary in the extreme about the way I’ve gone from staunch atheist to real Christian so quickly, and how I share that with anyone who wants to know – the fact that even though I still don’t feel that I know what I’m talking about, and don’t feel that I have any right to say the things I’m saying, and though I still feel that I’m a bad Christian because I smoke and drink too much, roll out of bed at whatever time suits me on a Sunday, never had any intention of saving myself for marriage, and don’t give much back; despite all this I want to do better, and I want everyone to know what my faith has given me.

I know you’re all, in the main, atheist, rational people, and you have no way of relating to what I’ve just said, and will probably come away thinking I’ve gone mad – but I have come back from cell today feeling renewed, given purpose, ready to take on the world and win, make a difference, do well, be a better person and be happier and share all that with those people who most want and need to know. And as we all know, charity starts at home. My big contribution to this new purpose? I finally put away most of the washing I put up on my airer a week ago. Good work…

*My church has a number of ‘clusters’ you can join, which are smaller groups made up of members of the congregation who fit together because, say, they’re all students, or they’re young married couples, or the youth, and so on and so forth, or just because they feel that they have the same mission or calling within the church. There are several different student clusters, each of which has a different mission, or focus – mine is called Inside Out, and concentrates on bringing the word to other students and inhabitants of Sheffield. Each cluster is about twenty or thirty strong, and they subdivide into cells of about ten which meet once a week at a members house, for prayer, sung worship, and a discussion of that week’s sermon and what it means to us as individuals. We meet as a cluster once a month for notices and to organise what we’re going to do as a cluster over the following weeks. Sorry it took me so long to explain, but people are always getting confused and asking me what I mean by ‘cell’, so there it is.

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Coming Even Cleaner.

I have another blog. I have been cheating on you, my lovely readers, and only a few of you have realised, that I know of.

Anyway, this other blog is called Cloudlife and is my record of my experiences with depression; it’s where I talk about and analyse how I feel about myself and the world around me. Some people in a similar state have said it helps them, and it helps me to talk about these things, but I didn’t write those things here – partly, at first, to be able to talk about all of this unhindered and anonymous, and partly so that I could continue to blog here about things that were not to do with the chaos that gradually took over my mind in one way or another for the last few years, and most seriously over the last few months. As for the anonymity thing, well, I knew I’d be discovered after a while, and I don’t mind, I really don’t. But just be warned: because of the origins of that blog, and because of the brief by which I write it, I will be honest about how I feel. You may realise I’m writing about you, and in a less-than-pleasant way. You’re reading some of my deepest thoughts in a pretty raw form, so, well, if you get upset it’s your business, not mine.

Currently, in case you’re wondering, I’m OK, so in many ways there isn’t much difference between Cloudlife entries and entries here, but if you look back through Cloudlife you’ll, well, you’ll see. I don’t know how long I’ll carry on being OK, but I feel better now than I have in years, so here’s hoping.

Anyway. Read it if you want to, now you know about it, and I hope it is at least interesting.

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Skins

So, the third series.

As we all know the first two series were, in my opinion at least, brilliant. Mixing some seriously serious themes with some of the stupidest parties and hardest drugs, making something that was like most of our teenagerhoods but several times as vivid. But the third series? Well, the writing team has changed a bit: the first two series were mainly written by a guy about my age with no real previous experience, and I think he did a brilliant job, and now the team is made up of the people who helped him clean it up, and some random other person.

And the slant they’ve gone for this time round is to make everything more vivid still. So it’s more of the mad parties and odd characters, and the storylines have got even more explosive and catastrophic; and what they’ve ended up with is a bunch of drugged-up caricatures. They’ve lost the humanity of them, their flaws, them as real people. Pandora is honestly like a circus clown, her mother like a fairy godmother, straight from the books, with a secret life next door, having sex with her neighbour and videotaping it in his boudoir. Which is frankly mad, if you ask me – why does she have to be made up of two extremes like that? There’s little psychological sense to this new series.

That said, there were glimpses in the fourth episode – which I just watched – which suggest it is improving. Effy cried. We get the sense that she’s actually falling for Freddie, rather than just stringing him along. Pandora ended up in tears too, confronting Effy about their friendship and what little it means to Effy who merely sees her as a figure of fun. JJ’s Asperger’s or autism, whichever it is that he’s got, was played upon – subtly, though, and Freddie comes out on some kind of moral high ground here too. I think it’s getting there, but the scenarios in which these things play out are extreme and completely random. Oh, and Thomas came back.

I’m doing nothing else today, so I’m going to watch the fifth episode, but I still remain to be convinced. And if you haven’t seen the first two series, well they’re on 4od and rapidshare and things. Watch them – they at least are worth it. So far this almost feels like a totally different show.

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Filed under Film, Happenings, Internet, Life, Sex, Society, TV

Oh WordPress, I Do Love Thee…

WordPress has just suggested to me that for $15  a year I buy up this domain, so that the address of this blog becomes just standingonthebrink.com.

For some reason, this is really, really tempting. I would love love love for this blog to be all my very own, as it were, which it doesn’t quite feel whilst it still says ‘wordpress’ in it. And I have upwards of 50, perhaps a hundred regular readers, if not more, so it’s not as if it’s a vanity thing, it’s an actually genuinely useful thing (of course, yes, that makes so much sense, Jenny…).

Does anyone love me enough to do this for me as some kind of friendsy Valentine’s present? No? Not even if I cry?

Bother.

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Bear With Me.

I had a friend who, when she didn’t get in to Oxbridge, was heartbroken. A few months after that fateful January day when her fate was sealed as being a very good redbrick, she was still heartbroken and so, to try and get over this and say goodbye, she went on a day trip to the university she’d so wished to be a part of. She came back with a throbbing headache and a blotchy face, having wandered around the city alone and in floods of tears for an entire day, and, of course, is now not really as happy as she could be at the university she is at.

Meanwhile I am here, and I am OK, most of the time. But the other day I arranged to meet up with a group of coursemates to work on our group project – in the Medical School Library, which is inside the huge hospital, down endless corridors in that unique hospital environment. Not on the surface the least bit enticing, but as I walked out of the hospital to go back home I cried as I haven’t cried in ages. I do wonder if I should have taken another year out sometimes, had another crack at all of this, done something really worthwhile with my year out. But that was then and this is now, and the girl I was last year would have been unable to make anything of her year out and would not have impressed anyone at interview even for, I don’t know, Waitrose. (as it turned out I failed taht interview too, back in the summer. Never mind…), let alone a medical school.

I’m only saying this because I can’t actually talk to anyone about the crushing envy I feel for medics, with their daft quantities of work and the experiences they have day to day and the fact taht at the end of the day they’ll come out and be getting jobs that I would literally die for. I can’t cope with what feels like actual, literal grief at losing out on this one, and I have no-one to talk to about this, because there’s only a few times you can mention it before you get given The Face (which roughly translates into English as ‘Jenny get over it, you didn’t get in and that’s that. Move on and shut up, you freaking emo’); and since all of you are looking at your screens as you read this rather than actually my face, you have no power over me. (this is probably where I should laugh evilly).

Never mind. I didn’t get in. I will, just you wait.

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More Than Just Words

It’s odd. Words in the right context can have the most frightening power. I mean, you say ‘goodbye’ probably several times a day, but then written down like that, on the screen, it makes your heart stop and before you know where you are your keys are in your hand and your boots on your feet and you’re running, running because you don’t know what else to do (a terrifying beginning to an evening that ended well). ‘I love you’ is something I say to my family reasonably often, my friends whenever they offer me a cup of tea, and seriously never; but the moment it is said seriously it’s enough to reduce you to tears, it really is – assuming this is a hollywood movie and this is something you’ve been waiting for for the previous two hours; in reality I can’t pretend to know, really. And I remember wanting to cry when I heard my young cousin M say his first word – ‘bowl’. Who’d have thought it. It only makes you realise that the words which make up the things we say to each other are the smallest fraction of what we’re actually saying; and it also makes you realise just how powerful they can be because of that.

Sticks and stones, eh?

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