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Stuff that's been happening this week.
Our new flatmate moved in at 7am this morning. Her name is Elaine. I know absolutely nothing about her, except she is female and pay rent. I did once know things, but in the course of desperately seeking someone to move in we showed over thirty people round our flat. Worst week ever. In the desperation all I know is I once put a smiley face next to her name.
I won a pub quiz this week! first time ever! I was exceptionally proud. I knew we did very well in the first half, but I thought we totally blew it on the Make Up A Romance Novel cover round, because we went completely off the point and down a rabbithole of avian credit crunch romance covers. But actually it seems drawing an amazing cover of a man with giant wings and an open shirt in an office, the gherkin building in the background and an affronted businesswoman in the foreground was exactly what was needed. I think it helped that we made a synopsis for the back and everything.
It was called Carrion Romancin' tagline - "He came to take her company, instead he took her heart."
Our back synopsis was
"When lonely executive felicity Doright's shoulderpad company went bankrupt, she was forced to work with the cold venture capitalist, Lance Vulture.
Little did she know her greatest enemy would grow to be her closest ally . . . and lover.
But Lance's dark secret was bigger than both of them, and Felicity was forced to wait in the wings ...
[Lance's dark secret was that he actually is a vulture. But only at night. Probably having a massive winged man on the front cover is a bit of a giveaway.]
So we won a whole bunch of stuff!
Yesterday I had a horrendous time purchasing trousers, because all high street chains hate me. In the coming week, an article I have written will be published. I will post the link here.
PS why is there so much kurt/blaine fic where blaine self-harms? Why do I find this slightly amusing?
It's nearly my birthday (I'm turning 24!) and I don't know how many of you were inclined to celebrate it in any way. But if you were, or if me saying something about it now makes you want to, I would like to take the liberty of requesting something special.
My kids desperately, desperately need a projector. My handwriting is terrible, and a projector would allow me to not write on the board, but either do powerpoint or type up preprepared transparencies. It would also allow me to use the DVDs that are meant to go hand-in-hand with the Read180 textbooks as a pre-reading for each unit's reading passages. There's lots and lots of research to back up the benefits of building background knowledge through film clips before even starting on a reading passage - how it increases comprehension and encourages fluency by building student confidence (not to mention student interest). It would also let me stretch the 20 total Read180 books we have (for 32 students!) a little farther by letting me project the book onto the whiteboard, so the students could see what I'm looking at. Yay, technology!
The issue that I have is that my school's technology budget is literally $0. I'm fighting to get so many other things I need to do the program that the projector I'm after is way, way out of the picture. Our school has a grand total of one, which our principal scavenged from the school that used to occupy our building, and because I was hired so late I'm at the very end of the line to check it out.
So what I've done is create a project on DonorsChoose.org, the fantastic charity site that lets anyone interested in donating money choose a project that a teacher in a public school is fundraising for and give to that.
My project page is up HERE: that's at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/prop
Every single child in every single one of my classes failed the English section of the state standardized test last year. But here's the thing. They are smart. They are capable of learning. They are capable of doing what they need to do to pass and go on to high school and college and lead wonderful, productive lives. They've got ambition: Courtney wants to be a veterinarian. Areail wants to be a doctor. Chirail wants to be a teacher. Malik wants to be a lawyer.
I will do every fucking thing I can for these children, up to and including begging everyone I know and some people I don't for loose change. So that's what I'm doing.
DO IT FOR THE CHILLUNS.
Now don't we all feel better about our feckless, wasteful lives?
But really, you should donate, Donors Choose is an excellent website.
In non-charitable events, I am on a course this week. Other students include woman who is scared of trains, women who knows nothing and makes jokes about it, and woman who snores. There is also the men who sit together and say nothing, for they are in a room ful of women.
(in the same place. not joining in with the discussion.)
ETA: My sister's full response on being told: "Get you."
I finished my course two days ago and booked time off work because I've still got a few days to take off before April (it seems my plan to make up all the time i've missed before April has fallen by the wayside, mostly because I don't care). My initial idea of doing things with friends seems to have not occurred, somehow. So instead I've purchased a good many things.
Some are justified. I bought myself some new shoes for work, which will hopefully fit me. My previous set of new shoes, a very sensible pair of black leather flats from Clarks, of all places, completely shredded my feet, leading to bleeding, blisters and rubbing. Never before have I described a pair of shoes as crippling and meant it, but these truly were. My ankles were aching because I was changing the way I walked to minimize the pain. I hope to never wear them again.
I also bought my mum a very nice mother's day present; a bag of compost maker and a selection of seeds. This simple purchase required a ridiculous amount of planning, for the simple fact that there are very few gardening shops in London. Googling led me only to shops in very southwest London, or ones on A roads that required car access. I have no idea what the many allotment holders in London do for supplies. Eventually I tracked down a Homebase in Finchley Road and made quite the trip across London to get there. As the announcers read out the long list of delays and suspensions my mood decreased. Sometimes I really dislike the tube. Thankfully Finchley Road also has an excellent Sainsburys, which made me nostalgic for the one in Nottingham. The Tesco Express round here just doesn't cut it. They didn't even have digestives today, something urgently needed for the Mother's Day cheesecake I'm making tomorrow.
Other purchases are not so justified. Like the theatre tickets I bought for Waiting For Godot. Which cost me £90 in total. In my defence, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are starring. But I was hoping for something less wince-inducing. Or the packet of highlighters which seemed like an excellent plan at the time.
Other purchases are just confused; I walked into the acoustic folk instrument shop opposite Foyles hoping to have a look around and was completely taken aback to find it was one room. The rather nice shop assistant asked me if I wanted anything and I garbled something about soft guitar strings. Which I now have. Except I wanted a TUNER, a guitar TUNER. But I'm pretty sure I saw a lute in there.
Of course, I haven't been entirely shopping for the past few days. I've also had my laptop on all day, attempting to download Rough Trade at the BBC from iplayer. About ten hours after it first started, it has three MBs left to go. This is why people resort to piracy.
I've also been listening to a lot of radio programmes, when iplayer hasn't packed itself in for no particular reason. Of interest to people reading this may be Ursula LeGuin at 80, and a series called You'll Never Be Sixteen Again, on 6Music's Play It Again slot. It's a (so far) six part series on teenagers and youth culture. I've gotten up to hippies, although I've yet to start. I think so far I preferred the Mod programmes; I particularly liked the interesting detail that the reason Merseyside bands did so well was because Liverpool was a port, and so one of the few places where American guitars and imported albums were available.
Also Call Yourself A Feminist? is decent, and I'm quite looking forward to a two-part documentary on Yiddish. Oh, my crazy life.
This evening I'm home alone, as I will be for most of the weekend, as my two flatmates have gone to visit their families. My neighbours are playing music especially loudly. I'm reading about Saints and waiting for rough trade to download.
At first nothing was happening, so there seemed to be no point in updating, and then everything happened at once.
So a list! Who doesn't love a list? All the perks of prose broken down into an easy-to-read format.
1) I moved out. I'm now further in east london, in a lovely flat with a couple of friends and a big bed that is never infiltrated by a cat trying to be let out of the window. It's much closer to work, I can cook what I like and it is generally good. I've been here for nearly two weeks now.
2) I had guitar lessons for all of three weeks. A nice young man named Tom who consisted almost entirely of knitted cap, slogan t-shirt and cigarette smoke came to my house and helped me out a lot. Sadly he was not willing to follow me further east, and I just don't want to go back to Romford after work. But it was really useful - I learnt a lot about guitar playing and reconsidered the way I think about music. He has an amazing and infuriating ability to be able to hear something and just play it. I'm not sure I'll be able to do that, but I definitely need to be able to play by ear. The fallibility of tabs on the internet alone shows it is important.
3) Which is why it makes no sense whatsoever for me to start learning music theory again because so much of it is related to reading music. Yes, learning about perfect 4ths and so forth is excellent for guitar, but I need to HEAR what they SOUND LIKE. Not just look at a stave and understand that those two notes have an interval of however many.
4) I've been learning to play eels and british sea power, mostly because I know the songs well enough to feel ok about obsessively practising chord changes in the songs, because that is my main shameful weakness.
5) I had a very nice birthday which involved getting drunk and eating thai food and getting some rather good presents.
6) I've been on a course on and off for work. I have mixed feelings about this - on the one hand I know a lot of the stuff anyway, because it is designed to be on in the first few weeks of work, and I've been there six months. On the other hand we leave at four, I get my travel paid and it's far more tolerable than many other things. My class consists almost entirely of Asian middle-aged ladies, all of whom are very nice. They think of me as the smart one, which is a role I am more than happy to fill. The getting home early also made it possible for me to finish the grade three theory workbook in a week.
7) Tedious bureaucratic stuff - I have to make up about eleven hours by the end of March. This is at a time when I have to go on a week and a half course, meaning I have nine working days to do this. not going to happen. I have to have an informal interview because I've had five sick days in six months. And they've made the wages department redundant and outsourced it to Southhampton, which I'm sure won't go badly at all.
Well hello there 2009!
Last night was quiet but mostly ok. I got to leave work at 2 (my manager may be crappy at coming in on time and doing work, but she is great at giving unofficial time off), I helped my sister make rib marinade, and my brother's Christmas present for me finally arrived. It was a guitar!
I've completely forgotten if I've mentioned this here or not, but around March I bought a guitar from Oxfam for £4, and since then I've been trying to play it with varying levels of success. And my brother bought me a far superior guitar without me even asking him!
It's already way better than my previous guitar just becuase it has a strap holder, meaning I can actually pick it up and play standing up. It has a much slimmer fretboard too, which is great because I have relatively small hands. So many things are much easier to play - now I'm making mistakes because I'm used to stretching my fingers out more. So once that passes, things should improve dramatically. It has a much nicer tone than my old guitar too.
Later in the evening was a little more boring - I ended up watching BBC Three's Most Annoying People of the year (strangely the people who contribute to such shows never feature) and then Jools Holland. I need to revise my viewing schedule. Then at midnight we set off so many party poppers the cat hid under the bookcase. It's a tough time of year for him.
Overall, 2008 was a much better year than 2007 (I mean the second half). Last year I was still mourning the loss of university, working crappy temp jobs that I didn’t care about and was generally deeply angry. Now I’m more resigned, have a decent yet dull job and more of a social life. That’s a better change, I swear.
My new year’s resolution last year was to floss every day. I did that every day, bar two, until some time in April. Around the time I got fired, I think. Obviously that isn’t a year, but that is four months and I’m pretty proud of it. This year I really want to work on my guitar playing. I’ve improved greatly (from knowing nothing to knowing something) but I still feel really uncertain about guitars generally. I have to admit, my practicing was getting a little lapsed, but NEW GUITAR!!! Means I have both the urge, and the ability to actually do better. I swear, that thinner fretboard is going to change everything.
The turkey is crackling, and so are my lungs!