I’m all right, too.

I didn’t make this meme, so you’ll have to put up with the grammatical issues, but other than that, it pretty much sums up the last two weeks for me.

 

Catherine Tate Doctor Who Im Alright

I am going to try and get some reviews done for the coming week, but this past week was mostly taken up by being away getting data for my MSc dissertation, and to be honest, with everything going on in my country recently, I don’t really feel like writing about beauty products or travel (which is a shame as I have some great articles planned for the coming month). I’ll try and write something tomorrow though.

My thoughts are with everyone affected by what has happened in Manchester and London.

And, I’m a bit pissed off with Facebook that they only activate their “mark yourself as ‘safe'” app when London gets hit. It should have been used for Manchester, as well, where it would have been more useful for all the parents trying to find their children. But that pretty much sums up the north/south divide. Sorry, if I seem a little disillusioned and angry it’s because I am. And that’s not a good place to write about travel and beauty. I will try my best to get a new post out before the General Election on Thursday.

I can’t even…

On Monday morning, one of my friends died of cancer. I spent the day crying and wondering what kind of a messed up universe allows people in their mid-twenties to die.

Then Monday night happened.

It’s been a couple of days now since I watched the news coming in on Monday night. I was about ready for bed when reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena at an Ariana Grande concert were suddenly coming up in the news. Manchester is about an hour’s drive, and it’s the main concert venue for the north of England. I’ve been there to concerts many times for my bands bucket list, as it’s almost always the second tour date (beside London) in England.

I slept fitfully through the night. When I awoke on Tuesday, my heart was in my throat. I was scouring the news reports and praying that the people I knew who had gone to the concert were going to be okay.

As the week has rolled on, more deaths have been confirmed. We’re now up to 22. I knew three of those people.

My heart breaks for all the children who have been hurt, the parents whose children haven’t come home, all the parents whose children are in hospital, who don’t know yet if their children are going to make it, and for all the children whose parents have died, who are going home to an empty house. I am devastated, for all the people who can’t find their loved ones, for all the friends and aunts and uncles lost and left behind.

I have my final exam for university tomorrow. It seems so ridiculous, to be even trying to prepare for something as normal as a test when this has happened.

I can’t even. Anything.

Manchester ribbon

New Year’s Resolutions

This year I thought I’d make some New Year’s resolutions, so here they are:

  1. Use perfume more often. I went through a phase in late 2013 and early 2014 of buying perfume. Then I stopped wearing it. So now I have a heap of bottles, containing Avon Perceive, Avon Pur Blanca, Avon Far Away, Avon Romance, Charlie Red and J-Lo Glow (I’m dead classy, natch. Actually I went through a phase of only wearing expensive designer perfumes… it got expensive and most of them aren’t good for day-to-day wear) knocking around, and I never wear any of them. This year, that’s going to change. I need to use them all up before I emigrate.
  2. Read more books. I have SO MANY BOOKS that I haven’t read, and yet I find myself either re-reading old favourites or buying new e-books (they’re guilt free because I don’t have to store them anywhere) and reading them instead! Worse still is the fact that there’s so many books I want to read but haven’t even bought yet because I have such a backlog.
  3. Write more books. This year I’ve published 3 books but I have written 7. One of those is coming out on 6th January, but I go through 3 month periods where I don’t write anything! An example of this is the last 3 months, while I’ve been working hard at my MSc in Obscure Science. I want to get 6 books out in 2017; that’s one every 2 months.
  4. Wear my nicest clothes more often. I have some decent items but I tend to slouch around the house in my dressing gown (robe) or nightie, and when I have to go out, I throw on a pair of black trousers and any old top. Since writing is a work-from-home job, and since I no longer have a car and my unemployed husband doesn’t need driving to work, that means there are entire weeks where I don’t get dressed!!! I want to make more of an effort to dress nicely more of the time, just for myself, because I have so many things that don’t get worn enough.
  5. Wear my nicest shoes more often. I own 9 pairs of shoes (excluding roller skates and ice skates); some of them are truly pieces of art, but I tend to gravitate towards my rainbow-soled sneakers or my one pair of Vivienne Westwood pumps, so my pair of Doc Martens, all the jelly shoes, and my Irregular Choice ones get left in their boxes most of the time. I’m probably going to have to get rid of a lot of them when I emigrate, so I should wear them more now so that I feel less heartbroken. Maybe I should start wearing shoes in the house?? Nope, it’s just too weird, I can’t do that!
  6. Go skating more. Last week, I went ice skating for the first time in 6 years. Aside from my ankles being weaker, I was as good as I was last time I went, mostly because in 2016 I took up roller skating since I don’t live within 30 miles of an ice rink. At one point I was roller skating 6 miles a day. However, the last few months I’ve stopped roller skating too, because my bipolar medication made me exhausted all the time and I lost interest in any kind of physical activity. I plan to go skating (roller or ice) at least once a week next year, let’s see if I can’t do that Biellman spin again.
  7. Eat more new stuff. I have a list of foods I’ve never eaten. I need to get back onto that. I bought a tin of smoked oysters this week, and I’m going to try them tonight, to get 2016 finished with ticking one last thing off my to-experience list.
  8. Drink more alcohol. It’s usually found in social situations, and I shy away from them sometimes, and other times I’m just working too hard (I tend to put in 12-16 hours a day, because I really love what I do; people who know me IRL will remember that I used to ice skate 16 hours a day when I worked as an ice skating instructor; I’m also still trying to achieve a level of financial independence that’s bipolar-proof), so I plan to play harder and that starts with drinking more alcohol. The occasional day off won’t lead to financial ruin (says the girl who is, right now, sitting at home editing a manuscript to send in, rather than going out to any of the 4 New Year’s parties she was invited to, because she wants to get that next book in a better place before 2016 is through).

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

All quiet on the home front

Sorry I’ve been a little quiet lately. My life has been literally falling apart around my ears and I’m trying very hard to fight a lot of fires but they’re just everywhere by now.

I don’t really want to go into great detail but I’m looking forward to my first Christmas on my own in about 6 years (but not alone — my friends wouldn’t let that happen).

I don’t want to go into long details because it’s just my unerring ability to ruin my own life, and I’m actually feeling happier than I have in years, but I promise I’ll get some product reviews up starting later this week, including Shu Uemura eyelash curlers, Too Faced Naturals Pallette, Laura Mercier Primer, Benefit Porefessional and so many more things too!

Vegan £5 notes and internet snooping laws: bait and switch and switch again.

vegan money £5 scandal meme petitionSo there is a petition going around the UK right now, where vegans and vegetarians are complaining that the new £5 have tallow in them. They want them to be withdrawn. Of course, destroying lots of notes containing unwanted animal slaughter byproducts at the cost to the UK of millions of pounds:

a) will ensure those animals really did die in vain

and

b) is utterly trivial.

If people don’t want their £5 notes, if they’re too much of a special snowflake to touch common people’s money, because they’ve got animal slaughter byproducts in them, they should stop driving cars or using LCD screens immediately, too. I wonder how many vegans would throw out their iPhone or MacBook on the basis that its LCD screen is probably also made from dead animals (source here)? They could, of course, just pass on any £5 notes to the poor people who are all suffering from disability cuts in this country, but that would be an act of genuine altruism that might actually benefit a living organism.

I have always been supportive of vegans and I have been vegan myself, and I have plenty of vegan recipes on this site, but there are limits, and really, this shit about the £5 note is the epitome of trivial bollox. Additionally, the black ink in all the other denominations means £10, £20 and £50 notes are also potentially not vegan.

I wonder what laws the British government are going to sneak past us while everyone’s distracted with this ridiculous news story? They’ve already gotten the new digital snooping bill past us under the guise of an anti-porn law (that’s the previous version but is mostly the same as the one that’s being passed, which is totally different to last year’s proposal that all the newspapers are quoting from; the newest version has mysteriously disappeared off the Internet since it was published last week, and it ran to 170 pages). They’ve totally rewritten that law since the big protests in 2015, and nobody is even protesting it any more, and it is a completely different law to the super-concerning investigatory powers bill which is being passed almost concurrently (which people are also protesting), in a double bait and switch effort (so the governments must REALLY want to spy on and control our Internets). So every educated and conscientious person who might have something to say to stop these surveillance and anti-free-speech laws are all being distracted with whether £5 notes have more tallow than the average candle. Great job, everyone!

All adverts below this line are nothing to do with me, I found out today that WordPress displays them and seems uncomfortable to be as honest as they might be in their “about these ads” page. I am ineligible to make money from WordPress adverts because I swear too much.

To PhD, or not to PhD? That is the question.

Dear The Internet,

My birthday was a lovely day, but I had to still work over some of it, as well as the day before/after, so my actual birthday time didn’t last as long as I wanted it to. I am now officially a grown-up. Mostly.

Wow so it turns out I’m doing pretty good on my essay marks. Like… if I’d had these sort of grades on undergrad, I never would have worried about whether I was smart enough to do an MSc. The difference bipolar meds have made to my ability to achieve and learn things has been profound. I think the fact that my PTSD has receded a lot (compared to even last year) has made a big difference, too. There was a 21 gun salute going on for over 10 minutes beside the department, timed right in the middle of my Evolution class today, and I did not dive under a table. I wanted to… but I didn’t. I definitely got stressed and stopped concentrating, but I didn’t even need to stick my fingers in my ears or show any outward signs of how I felt. And that’s fucking progress.

I mean, I can’t not be happy with the grades I got today… I can’t actually get a higher grade at this point, so going for essay feedback was a strange experience, especially since the university is a lot more diverse now and 90% of the faculty aren’t former Oxbridge dons any more (the dons have mostly retired). So from not having gotten a poor mark, and not having the same type of staff, today (essay marks/feedback day) didn’t go as expected. I didn’t spend all afternoon sitting in various offices around the department being questioned as to why I bothered coming to university if I was going to hand in such complete shit. It was refreshing, but it also wrong-footed me, because I’m so used to getting everything wrong. Since when did the university get so touchy feely?

The thing is, the only thing that’s changed in the 7 years between undergrad and now is everything. Okay, that was a terrible hyperbole and also possibly a bit inaccurate, but y’all know how much I hate deleting sentences once I started them. I’m not sure I can quantify the changes. The university is more relaxed, that’s for sure, and there’s more friendly staff instead of grumpy ones. But their standards are inescapably higher than when I last attended. I don’t think they would let someone on to their undergraduate degree with my high school grades any more. There’s just too much competition for places (and only 1 in 30 got a place the year I applied), so it’s a bit surreal being on a course with people with 1st class degrees and high 2:1s, knowing I’m probably the very least qualified person out of the 140 master’s students in the department. And I’m still getting A-plus grades. Sorry, I’m not trying to gloat, but I know some of you were rooting for me to do this MSc and I wanted to, but I wasn’t so sure it was a great idea (and others of you were convinced it was only going to end in smoking ruins where the university used to be). So I thought it was worth an update.

I am pretty sure the reason I’m a better academic writer these days is down to having worked as a teacher, followed by my recent experiences in academic publishing. I read a lot of articles and I get to fix them and make sure they’re at their best when they get published. That makes a person better at spotting mistakes in their own work. I can’t deny that writing my romance novels definitely improved my overall quality of written work, as well. It’s easier to improve when someone points out specifically what you need to do to fix something, than when someone just yells at you for doing it wrong again, or ignores you.

So anyway, I went to a lecture this morning where one of the department’s more research-focused members of staff explained the procedure for applying for a PhD. And now I’m considering it. Is that such a bad thing? Yay women in science and all that jazz… Except… well… we were planning to move to Canada (or maybe New Zealand) next September, and if I’m doing a PhD for the next few years, that’s going to cause problems. Unless I do one in Canada. But their funding is idiosyncratic – some of the deadlines were in August which is probably fine if you’re on a two-year master’s degree but we cram them into one year over here. Anyway, trying to do my branch of obscure science in Canada makes finding a PhD all a bit more difficult because my subject is defined as something totally different in North America, and I don’t think the stuff I’m currently doing really exists over there, because whatever you think I do, it’s probably not what I do (except one of you. One reader knows what my research interests are, because we hang out sometimes IRL). Case in point: for my master’s thesis, I’m studying a supercomputer.

So the decision over whether to stay and get a PhD or emigrate and get a happier life is currently proving difficult. Britain is really shit right now for those of us with a foreign name, and I don’t see it maturing like a good bottle of wine any time soon, but if I want to do a funded PhD I would need to stay put a while longer. So I’m probably not going to get a PhD, which is a shame because there’s a past version of me who is yelling at me from the entire 90’s, because she’s very disappointed that I didn’t choose education/career over love. Actually, I’m pretty happy with my career and prospects at the moment, so she can shut the Hell up. My publishing placement’s going great and my writing’s mostly where I want it to be; I just wish I had more time for it but that was always the trade-off this year. I guess the PhD would have been utterly gratuitous. My husband’s probably right; I’d get bored in 6 months, and then I’d get distracted by writing again.

Good Luck America!

Just a little picture I made for all my American readers today:

Good luck America go vote!

What are you waiting for? Thanksgiving?

Is it me or was the last election way more exciting? I stayed up through the night listening to live radio broadcasts of the vote counting and I cried a bit when Obama won because I knew he was the right guy for the job, but there’s so much institutional racism in America that I honestly didn’t expect him to get anywhere.

Also if you happen to stick a sticker on Susan B Anthony’s grave* I’m pretty sure you get 1000 points to Gryffindor and a pair of odd socks.**

*Pretty sure that would be some sort of crime in my country, and that you’d find angry people yelling at Matt Le Blanc about it.

**Or double, if you get this reference.***

***Potter for President!