Monday, 14 December 2009

pretty expensive even for wine.

Do you know how many types of verb there are? Too many. Who is ever EVER going to need to know the difference between the complex transitive and the copular forms, or the intransitive and the ditransitive, or whatever the hell else?

I have to go and get ready for the english society cocktail party in a second but so far this evening I have mainly GONE CRACKERS staring at this sodding english coursework (hate hate hate), rattling around my freezing cold bedroom and listening to Fever Ray on repeat, who are er...not a band that encourage calm rationality. Perhaps I'll just watch this video on repeat until I convince myself I'm actually a shaman. twitch twitch.

(This is a bit like the night I sat and read all those pictures for sad children comics in one go - from perhaps the beginning to around here, or further - and felt a bit like maybe we were all doomed. Except I made a really awesome tomato and red onion tart tonight. So you can't say things aren't on the up.)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

as changed itself to past without a word.

First night of my first ever play at university was tonight, which I spent tottering about the place with grey-sprayed hair and faux wrinkles and a big fake limp and oh, it was excellent fun. The Crucible's gone from being something I tentatively enjoyed to something I really rather liked, to something I looked forward to, to finally - after all this time - something I adore and am heartbroken to see the beginning of the end of. I'm going to miss it/the cast so freaking much and feel utterly privileged to have been involved. Touchingly, one of my housemates came along alone this evening (he says he will come again on Friday with everyone else) and met me at the stage door afterwards with a Double Decker, and the show went WELL and ugh, I love doing it so much.

HOWEVER. After all the joys of this afternoon/evening, I came home only to be relaunched into yet more conversations about the great housing debate of '09 - something that has been ambling along for days now. The stress of everyone from our group of friends trying to work out who's living with who is genuinely doing my head in; we're supposed to live in a seven, which I think (and all my non-first year friends have told me) is too many by far and, really, you shouldn't go above five-ish due to the mess, the stress, the attempts to coordinate that many people's wildly divergent wants and needs, you know. Too much. Pretty much everyone in the Prospective Flatmates camp thinks that I am making a fuss over nothing by wanting to split us in two, but I cannot face living with so many people, I genuinely think it'll cause so much fuss and hassle and the house will be ungood and, just, ugh. But I have nobody else to live with. At the moment, it looks like my choice is going to be: live in a house of seven or live in a gosh darned box. Or go into halls again or something, but obviously I wouldn't do THAT if I could avoid it. The whole situation is depressing me so much, when all I want to do is get excited about ~*~theatre~*~ and christmas. CHRISTMAS.

I'm not even that excited about Christmas Actual Holidays, for a whole set of other reasons which I don't really want to detail on here in, you know, public and that, although I am excited about all the friends & plays & comedy I'll be able to see in a week. But, yeah. I just feel like there's all these Issues at home and now all these Issues at university and I really can't be bothered with any of it any more. I just want to sleep forever.


Basically this whole stupid post can be summed up like this:

Dear Life,

Be less up and down for just five minutes, please? Please.

Me xxx

Sunday, 29 November 2009

we don't want perfection, we want knitting.

I accidentally stayed out until 3am on Friday, got rather drunker than I intended (it just sort of hit me; one of those evenings, I suppose, where it inexplicably does) and was in an - let us be delicate and say an interesting state, when my family arrived on Saturday morning. Not awful, not even the worst this week, but I did have a cracking headache - unusual for me, I never get them - and hadn't had even nearly enough sleep. Thank the gods of hats and irn bru, anyway, because I survived, albeit rather narrowly.

It was an odd beast, the prospect of my family visiting; I love them but I don't really suffer from homesickness, for whatever reason, and could probably survive okay on the odd phonecall hither and thither. Some of my flatmates call home almost every day, but I just don't need to: I suppose I've always been allowed a lot of freedom, running off to London all the time from the age of about fifteen and Edinburgh when I was seventeen and Glasgow every new years, etc etc. But unlike a lot of my friends up here, I'm an only child, so my parents are able to come and see me because they sort of may as well, if that makes sense - they've not got a lot else on?

Anyway, the long and short of it is that we had a lovely time, a nice meal and I showed them (it was my mother and grandparents, by the by, interested parties) around a little. Most adorably of all, they brought me an utterly unexpected sort of "care package" - a big cardboard box filled with a few foods and useful things, some nice shower gel, lots of exciting tea and canned gin & tonics. How sweet is that?!

So currently, it is a Sunday night and I'm putting off doing my washing because it means going on the biggest walk ever to find change for the machines and it is FAR too jolly cold. Instead, I'm listening to The Smiths, writing one of these new-fangled blog things and drinking green tea with "a hint of lemon". Rather more than a hint if you ask me. It's like I'm entering some kind of competition to be the tweest person ever - today, my flatmate and I went for lunch in a cute little cafe and then to a day of knitting at the Bluecoat, sort of our local arts centre. It was a collaboration between the Festival of Nordic Art and Culture (NICE) and a local knitting shop called Purlesque; I can already knit with needles, or at the very least hold my own with a simple straight or purl, though I've not attempted anything particularly interesting yet. Still, I learned to finger-knit and my flatmate, a newcomer, received an interesting introduction to something I adore. They run a knitting circle at a local tea shop on tuesday nights & I think I might go: university is a very intense experience, and wonderful of course, but it can't help to meet and socialise with people who are slightly outside of it.

picture from here.

The highlight for me, anyway, was meeting this fellow and adding a few lines to the terribly interesting piece of knitting art on the left there, which he told me he's been working on for about two years. Anyone and everyone could just roll up, add to it a bit and move on - a really beautiful piece of collaborative art. Made me wish I'd discovered the Bluecoat earlier than last week: so much seems to be happening there all the time, it's a really lovely place. Flatmate and I just spent a cheerful hour or so there, listening to them play charming music - Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, I was very happy - having a bit of a chat, meeting people and learning. An excellent afternoon. I'm considering writing about it/him for the English Soc magazine, if I ever get around to writing anything at all for them; my friend said that I could, that they need writers rather desperately, but I'm so dreadfully unfocused.

Must be quiet now and get on with things, but before I do, the reasons for making this post are twofold:
1) my previous one was too depressing to leave up there. I didn't feel down when I wrote it or anything, but it reads incredibly bleakly and I don't want wandering passers-by to think I have given up on all of it and ended myself.
2) I mustn't get too caught up in all the fun of university - because it really is fun, it is, so much, especially now that I'm getting to know & love my excellent cast better and better all the time - and forget just how much there is to DO in a city. Lots of things! I don't want to look back on these three years with any regrets. Or at least...with as few as I can manage, I suppose.


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

now say hello.

Well, I have an insane amount of work to do, so of course, of COURSE I have remembered this blog! As I type, I am sat in my no-frills single-berth room in my University halls (although the walls are plastered with photos, leaflets, flyers and I can't keep an inch of it clean to save my life; it could, at the very least, never be called "impersonal"), listening to two of my flatmates play-fighting in the next room & supposedly doing my history reading.

I took that subsidiary after all.

It's two months this Thursday since I moved to Liverpool and in that time I have not been home since, though I have visited M. once and been to London a couple of times, so I'm not sure what the reasoning behing that is. At the beginning, I felt like it would be simply too strange to see my childhood bedroom and all those old familiar sights, and then return to my new friends and home and life - I still think that it will be strange, but now it feels like a decision motivated more by Let's Just See If I Can than anything else. Anyway, it doesn't seriously count because my family have visited once (for my birthday, of which more later) and are doing so again in a couple of weeks.

Ironically, after I said all that "oh who even meets people through their accommodation" stuff, all my closest friends up here are people from my accommodation who I met in the first few weeks. Unfortunately, this has made it easier for me to not socialise with other people than to socialise and my neighbour-friends are, in many ways, my only friends up here. I know a couple of people on my course enough to chat to, and am beginning to get to know my castmates better (hindered by the incredible discomfort and sense of being on the back foot that I always experience when I first meet drama people, because I am not confident enough to make my voice heard and feel, for at least the initial few weeks, like the most horrendous and unfunny person who has ever lived), but still. It's not quite the social whirl I imagined? Like, I thought I'd instantly know THOUSANDS of people and be forever going to, you know, to beat poetry readings and underground bars and tiny theatres and so on, and wouldn't be able to sleep for all the hot jazz playing on a loop in the room downstairs.

Okay, of course that isn't exactly true; I have enough older friends to know that you get out of university only what you put in, that people have wildly different experiences and that almost everyone is disappointed. But then one of my closest friends up here said today, she's considering dropping out: not because she hates her course or isn't having fun, but because she cannot shake the sensation that she is merely drifting. She wants to go travelling and take photographs and I am jealous because even if the decision maddens her, even if it drives her out of her skull, at least there is something she wants to be doing.

If I dropped out of university, I would have no idea, no clue at all, what I wanted to be doing or how I should go about achieving it. By staying, all I am doing is ignoring this fact: I have exactly as little reason to want to leave as I have to want to stay.

The problem is what the problem has always been, basically - that I am not good enough at anything, not a single thing, to deserve a) payment in return for doing it and b) to continue it on for any real amount of time. I like writing and acting and music, and I am not particularly terrible at these things but neither am I very good at any of them, basically. Well, I'm pretty awful at the last one and the first two depend on the night, but no matter. I said all this to a friend the other day, only casually, but really rather upset myself - as I always do when I get onto this subject - because I realised that it is so incredibly true.

Remember when you were a kid and you said, I want to be an actress/a spy/an astronaut/a whatever? And your parents said to you, well dear, that's lovely, but don't forget that lots of people want to do these things and only a few people can, so most of them just grow up to be tax accountants and office workers and that is okay. You shrugged it off, because yes, of course - most people did grow up to do these things instead of the thing that you wanted to do, but obviously none of them wanted it as much as you did. Otherwise they'd have done it. And it was that simple, because you were young, and then you grew up and realised that you are not special either. When I had to learn that, it was, it really was okay.

The only really hard thing is that, nowadays, I don't want anything very much.

My flatmates got me a commonplace book for my birthday because they know I like to write, and they stuck photographs and messages into the first couple of pages, and it was one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received. Why do I have to care so much about being good at everything? Isn't it enough to just do things because you like them? I would tell anyone else that it is, because it is, and I'm nineteen now, I must at least attempt to recognise that ridiculous double-standard of mine for what it is.

CHRIST. I only opened this window to say that I was sorry I abandoned my (incredibly well-intentioned) university blog as soon as I actually made it to the fucking place. What's wrong with me! It's definitely time to go and read about the first crusade.

Sorry, lovely blog. I will try to find something to do with you soon.

p.s. the money worries got sorted out fine. Sorry I called you a pack of dicks so many times, student finance?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

student finance FAIL.

I'm so fucking angry I can barely type.

I applied for funding from student finance on April 2nd, so desperate was I to make sure that I wouldn't end up in the situation I'm in now. However, when my mum's boyfriend moved out on May 26th, it drastically changed the situation I was in financially - it meant that I am now Properly Low Income (fer reals). In spite of the crazy crazy turmoil of that whole kettle of shite, I was literally on the phone to student finance by May 27th, sat outside the door of an A-level revision class, in the hallway, knees to my chest, to make sure I wouldn't end up in the situation I'm in now.

They seem to have lost or misplaced or fucking BURNED about half the information I sent them. When I spoke to an advisor on the phone today, she said they haven't yet received any proof that my mother and I are a single-parent family, when she sent it in JUNE. They're still listing her ex-boyfriend as one of my sponsors! Every time, in the past, that I've phoned them up to deal with this, I've been told that it was fine and sorted and really just a glitch, but no, it appears they actually really have lost a whole bunch of my details. Nice.

The important thing to understand is just how hard it is to get hold of student finance. They've inexplicably 'locked' my account, meaning I can't access any of my information online, and have to spend forty-five minutes or so listening to hold music every time I want a little reassurance. Not that you get it. I have been endlessly fobbed off and lied to and passed over, all because the people on the other end of the phone are too overworked or too fucking lazy to really check anything, until I reached the girl I spoke to today.

But then, why should I believe her over everyone else? Maybe everything's actually fine and she's the one who's incompetent - I wouldn't know. They're just voices on the other end of the phone to me.

Earlier this week, I spent about three days trying to get through to them and finally spoke to Lady One on Tuesday. Lady One told me that:
- they'd registered Liverpool as my new uni just fine
- I was showing up as eligible for the full grant
- all my information had been received a-okay
-I would receive a letter in the post over the next few days, confirming this.

Well, I got the letter this morning. It said nothing whatsoever about a maintenance grant, it said I would only be getting loans - a tuition loan and a standard loan - and that I was apparently going to my old university. In despair, I spent another cheerful half hour holding, listening to some fuckwit computer tell me that "it would be easier to go online at www..." which, no, it fucking wouldn't, because you WON'T LET ME LOG IN. Anyway. Eventually, I was told that:
- actually they know nothing about my new uni. Lady One told me it was fine for literally no visible reason and I need to send in a massive form AGAIN
- they know nothing about what the hell kind of grant I'm eligible for
- they're still listing my ex-stepfather - who left, I repeat, in FUCKING MAY - as one of my sponsors
- even though we sent the forms in months ago
- this deserves several bullet points because it is so fucking stupid
- they haven't received half the information I was told had arrived.

At my wits' end, frankly. She took my contact number and has told me somebody from the "processing department" will call me in a couple of days to confirm what is or isn't missing. I'm not holding out much hope that this will really happen.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms.

I spent the tail-end of the bank holiday weekend circling things in red pen and writing down masses of phone numbers and so on, keying myself up for all the ringing around I was going to do on Tuesday morning, in an attempt to sort out some goddamn private accommodation already, goddamn it. Luckily, I decided to check my emails on Tuesday morning before I launched, head-first, into the cut and thrust of the thing. This is what I found there:
"Dear [lozopus]

Re: Room Offer

We are pleased to offer you a room in University Halls of Residence at Liverpool.  For security reasons we are not able to give you details about the offer in this email. To view and respond to the offer please login to the University Student Portal..."

Oh dear, I thought, how terrifying. I'd already made up my mind to turn it down if it was another catered offer, not reapply through the university and utilise all the scouting around I'd done over the weekend. Luckily, I didn't have to bother - in just over two weeks I shall be moving into some self-catered, uni-owned halls which are, to boot, the ones I wanted all along; the ones that are close to campus and right in the heart of the city.

Frankly, I'm so excited now that it's unreal. In all my life, I've never lived in a city, only in (fairly horrible) towns - I know that seems a silly thing to matter to a person, but the thought of not having to get on a fucking train to see good comedy or music or theatre is just a little overwhelming. I'd been reluctant but resigned to spending my first year of city-life two miles out of the bustle, a bus ride away from everything, but now I am within actual walking distance of everything cool - within WALKING DISTANCE. Bearing in mind that I am willing to walk quite a long way for things and not, er, expecting it to be ten minutes across either way or something.

I saw a group of friends during the week who asked if the accommodation thing had sorted itself out; I replied in the affirmative and received a very lovely cheer in the middle of the street. What a good bunch. Then we went to the London Tombs and nearly had a coronary, which would have been a shame, after all that fuss.

On a semi-related note, my dad visited Liverpool this week - he had booked his train tickets back before we knew I'd missed my grades for my first choice uni, so it was just a coincidence really - and spent a happy day wandering about on his own, geeking out. My dad's a huge Beatles fan, and his obsession made a weekend in Liverpool one of the first holidays I ever had, certainly the first I can really remember, when I was eight or nine years old. The entire reason I chose to apply to Liverpool was that I'd fallen in love with the city during visits past, so him calling me up to go, "er, is it John Moores you're going to?" (no) had a pleasantly cyclical feel to it. He made me love the city, and now I am going to live there, and the fact his only child is going to live there has, I suppose, made him look at the place in a different way.

He found my future campus (verdict: "massive") and took a photo of the map they supplied, which he sent me in a text. A rather touching gesture, all told, particularly in light of the fact that I had been not a little concerned in the past about how he viewed my going away; he's made no secret of being happy that I didn't get into my first choice, though - further away geographically and with a year in a different country - so I suppose it's really all worked out for the best in that regard.

Oh, look at that. It just turned midnight. Exactly two weeks to go, now.

For all the time, all the years I've spent looking forward to this and preparing, it really has rather snuck up on me. But these things have a way of doing that, don't they?

Friday, 28 August 2009

it's just not cricket.

With each passing day, it looks less and less likely that I will receive another offer of accommodation from my university. This is understandable: I received one last week, very soon after our A-level results were released, and I turned it down. I do get the impression that this isn't really the done thing. University accommodation is a scramble at the best of times and I expect the fact that I'm going to my insurance choice, to compound matters, rather put me at the back of the queue; it really does seem a situation where you're expected to just lump it.

And ordinarily I would have done. Perhaps I should have done. I like to think I'm not an especially picky person - I just genuinely couldn't face spending a year in catered accommodation.

The accommodation at Liverpool University works thus: as far as I can puzzle out, there are about 1983 rooms in catered blocks and 1564 self-catered rooms. Speaking just in terms of probability, I was always going to get offered a catered room and I should have been prepared for this eventuality, which I wasn't, because I am a silly goose. Nonetheless, I refused an offer of a room in the abundantly leafy (and three-miles-from-campus) Salisbury Court, for the following reasons:
  • I just DON'T want to live in catered accommodation. Partly because I'm a vegetarian and meat-free canteen food tends to be deeply unpleasant, partly because I enjoy cooking, partly because being able to budget and cook for yourself is an important skill to learn and partly because of the lack of freedom. Set meal times and the like really just don't appeal. When I have friends like E. and M. to stay, I want us to be able to have a cooking adventure together, as we would now - which we certainly couldn't do in the small and perfunctory kitchen they give you in catered. This all sounds prissy, but it's a massive point for me; I really enjoy food and cooking, and there's nothing when to stave off the occasional bouts of homesickness like being able to whip up a favourite stew or whatever.
  • When I attended my subject open day back in December (I think?), the halls we were taken to see were these, or at least some part Carnatic Halls, a long-ish bus ride away from the university campus and catered. I went with a friend who was already in her first year at Leeds University and oh my god we absolutely hated them. HATED them. They were dark, oppressive, they felt like they were from the 1970s, they - it was just bleak, okay. I imagine that when you're actually in them, they're not so bad, and you all rub along together, and I've stayed in some deeply unpleasant Halls in the past without dying of typhoid, but still. On the day I visited this prospective home of mine, it really put me off.
  • I'm not going to my first choice university. I've already said this, but it's worth saying again: having been rejected by those heartlessly picky south-western types whose name we shall not speak, in spite of having the same grades a friend got into Cambridge with (AAB), I was feeling pretty down in the mouth. At the time I got the offer, I just couldn't face a year studying at my second choice AND living in the horrible accommodation that had made me feel down in the mouth a half-year previously. Perhaps it was rash to reject the offer, but there we are. I was having a pretty wobbly day, all told.
  • I didn't realise at the time, or had forgotten, how likely I would be to simply not receive another offer. I thought that rejecting one was a perfectly valid thing to do and something else would turn up. I may not have been entirely wrong in this, it remains to be seen, but what I can be certain of is that the longer I wait for something to "oh just sort of fall in my lap", the longer the better private sector options drift off into space.

Yes, so that's what I was advised by the very nice, very calm Uni accommodation lady, when I called their helpline some twenty-four hours later in a muddle. I was told to investigate living in the private sector. She gave me a telephone number and an email address for Liverpool Student Housing. I was dubious. When I phoned them up, another very nice and very calm lady gave me a website address for them.

I'd been terribly concerned about not being able to afford private sector living, but it seems to be - not hugely more expensive? About a tenner more, on average, which is enough that you'd notice it but not enough that it would ruin your life, as I'd been imagining. Moreover, my low household income means I should be getting some kind of wonderful bursary as part of Liverpool's intense bursaries/scholarship schemes, so hopefully it won't buckle me completely into the world of Not Being Able to Afford Food. I'd also been worried about having to go and live in a house with a bunch of people who already knew each other, rent the room of a drop-out in a flat full of strangers, I don't know, I'm not sure I really understood what the private sector entailed. But they own and run other sets of Halls, and Liverpool is a city rammed with students, and they are all, as the LSH lady promised me on the phone, much of a muchness.

I'd also been concerned about the social aspect of not living with other University of Liverpool students, but you know what? Not one of my good friends who's currently at uni socialises with or opted to live with the people they met in their Halls. Not one. Certainly not to my knowledge, anyway; all the ones I can think of met people on their course, through societies, through evenings out.

So - basically, this has been a very boring post, but I think it was a roundabout way of saying that I don't think the sky's going to come crashing down if I go through the private sector. I just have to be content with going about things a little differently to the norm, with a little more paperwork and confusion and suchlike. And that's okay.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

begin the beguine.

Being a 21st century lady and an all-round modern sort of cat, I got my first blog at the tender age of thirteen, a livejournal, in defiance of a friend who laughed in my face when I told him I was considering it. He said (and I know this, for I have my very first blog entry tabbed as I type; oh, the internet), "What interesting things have you got to say?"

I'm still not sure that I do have anything much to say for myself. But I was never serious about it, and over the years I dabbled, and continually told myself that one day, as an adult, as a real person, I would begin the process in earnest.

That same year, when I was thirteen, I was taken to Normandy on the only residential school trip I ever braved. For the most part I had a slightly miserable time, but we did spend a pleasant morning visiting a rather beautiful and secluded little orchard, the like of which is no doubt very common in northern France. While we were there, we were all given free samples of the orchard's apple juice, which I thought was - beautiful. Was just about the nicest thing I'd ever tasted. I bought a bottle with several of my scrunched up and carefully rationed-out euros, and I brought it home with me.

So enamoured was I with this drink that, in a fit of deferred gratification, I desperately saved it for a special occasion: I wouldn't let myself have any until I was ready, until I had earned it, and by the time that day arrived, I opened the bottle to discover that it had congealed and gone off. It had to be thrown away. My thirteen-year-old self was distraught.

I suppose the moral of the story is that if I put things off forever, eventually they...go...rotten. Rotten, like my soul.

Oh dear, no, that wasn't it at all. And I was sure I had a genuine point to make.

Okay, well, so, anyway. After a long and confusing and fairly drawn-out process, I learned today that I will definitely be spending the next three years in Liverpool, studying English (and some subsidiaries; I think I'll take history?) at the University of Liverpool. I want this blog to be, I don't know, a sort of chronicle of that embarkation; of the trials and the struggles and the excitements that a first generation university student, going up at the beginning of a big old recession, will really encounter. To be some kind of record.

Perhaps somebody will one day find it useful - or, more likely, perhaps I will rediscover it five years from now and laugh and laugh at all the silly things I thought and said. After all, there's no better place to keep a record than the internet. The shallow, eternally-logged thoughts of my thirteen-year-old self, drifiting about forever in cyberspace, are proof of that if they are proof of nothing else. And they really are proof of nothing else. Except perhaps that I spent altogether too much time thinking about chocolate.