Let's see then, shall me? My last real update wasn't since last week around this time - long time to consider with my ickle Kiwi brain. I'll try to be sensible with my organisation.
i. Monday: Printing in the library never worked, which is probably just as well, for it it had worked properly I may have had a heart attack before my presentation and that would have been no good. I spend hours printing out what I needed to print and stapled the backs of my handouts together so it was as if they were one sheet despite that I couldn't print them front-and-back. The ecologist hollers 'POOT' here, or at least this ecologist, because she hasn't actually heard any other ecologist say 'poot'... Katie didn't want to do her presentation last and Rita didn't want to go first, so even though I had my mem stick in the computer I switched it up, let Katie go and didn't go until the second half. I was glad they felt more at ease. Katie's was brilliant and interactive; mine ran more like a lecture. I had to sit since I was in hip pain (both sides), but I got through it alright and that's what matters. Irene asked if my Powerpoint would be sent to Blackboard. Halfway through the presentation Jess wrote something on Irene's paper and Irene nodded. I never knew the feeling until I was up there, and even though I knew I was probably personalising an issue that had nothing to do with me, it was petrifying; I felt belittled. Lesson learned: no writing notes during lectures if I appreciate the lecturer. (Turns out Jess was just telling Irene to show up at a meeting alter that night--yes, I politely asked, because I'm neurotic.) Hugged Jo when she was on break in another lecture and walked home. Read through the articles my supervisor gave me and felt sane about my project for the first time in weeks.
ii. Tuesday: Walked to campus a new way with Batgirl and arrived early before my dissertation meeting. Nick saw me in the waiting area and invited me in, expressing surprise over my early arrival; I told him it was a new route. He sat me down and I told him how I was doing - hadn't made it far and had had difficulty started, but had read his articles and felt comforted. We discussed the project. He kept checking in with me ("Oh, please don't look so overwhelmed!" "You look so alarmed!" "Are you alright?" in his soft concerned voice) and trying to encourage me ("I really think you're on to something." "You really seem quite capable." "You're doing a good job." wide eyes, not sure what to do with this neurotic student before him). At last I admitted that my first real goal this year is to get through it without a panic attack. I came out as a student with a panic disorder. He nodded, as if he understood more, and explained that he hadn't known that and it was good for him to know so he could help - no blame, just understanding. He asked about it and I explained my history in Windsor hall, getting caught by the cleaning maids having an attack and was watched by the head of house. I described the process that would occur if something DID happen, but that I very much hoped nothing would - and if I ever came in with less done than I should have, it was for trying to avoid panic. At the end I confessed that as ridiculous as it was, my aversion to a look of disappointment on a teacher's face was a major driving factor in my academic life "because teachers just seem to do it so well." He chuckled endlessly at that and we ended on a good note, although he seemed a bit bewildered at how someone with as much 'potential' as I could be so very unsure of herself. It's a gift, I tell you. I spent most of my time in the library finding sources and writing. At home, Mark and I stayed up far too late. I took a shower at 2.30 in the morning and went to sleep at three.
iii. Wednesday: Demolition day in London. Woke up at 7, got ready and left with Mark to get food at the co-op and head to campus. We 'registered' and there was lots of waiting around. Ben came to chat me up, got me riled with women's rights within a moment of speaking to me and left to get food. I kicked the ground. He's a pest. Met a new friend, Adam, on my way to the coach and we sat together. Music and smiling during the long ride into London. I didn't know anyone I was with on the march, which didn't particularly bother me. I kept my headphones under my hat and walked slowly along, picked up a sign handle from the ground to use as a walking stick. I took everything in and joined in with the chanting occasionally. So many witty signs. It was lovely to see lecturers out marching with students, all of us forming a united front when so often we only see each other on the unequal platforms of Student and Teacher; I saw one couple of professors (I presume, and I seem to have a teacher-radar) laughing at all the signs and at some of the students getting stoned as we walked. ("Can you smell that?" "Yes, well, seems a good place to be stoned...") When we reached near the end I saw a gathering of people screaming in a courtyard and stewards trying to keep people from entering the area. I leaned against the lamp post on the pavement and watched. First just yelling, stewards pointing people in directions. Then the stewards gave up and removed their bright yellow safety vests; I followed and stuffed mine in my bag, kept leaning against my pole and frowning over the history that was unfurling. Then more people, more yelling and a great big 'boom': one of the big windows of the Tory Headquarters broken. Then loud music down the street, bass tearing away at my heart, and a huge group of people in this spontaneous dance party with writhing bodies and impassioned voices that would have been beautiful if they hadn't been in support of this violence and hurtful outlet. Then the music turning into the courtyard and the people following where there was no resistance from the stewards, who had been pushed and bowled over enough and had disappeared altogether. Then big bright red light and I feared they'd set the building on fire, but they were just flares. I got in touch with Eve and eventually left with her to find the coach. We chatted, I left on a different coach and headed home. Hours of traffic and no loo on the coach, hadn't been to one since I left the house; I thought I might explode. I didn't and made it to the library. Wrote, worked, watched the Internet to learn about people setting things on fire and breaking and entering and throwing fire extinguishers, and I sighed. Took the safety bus home, hung around and slept.
iv. Thursday: Rain. Walked into campus. Terribly boring lecture with Jo. Wrote. Headed to the library. Worked and wrote. Safety bus home.
v. Friday: Jo drove me onto campus. I was exhausted still from Wednesday's march. Joked with the professor when he came in early to practice his slides. When lecture came, I managed to pay reasonable attention but not the strict attention I was able to in previous years. Too many YouTube videos and clips of him talking too close to the mic, so I could hear him breathe and swallow and could hear his nerves swimming around my head. He finished with a clip of him speaking and two YouTube videos; I couldn't help dozing against my hand as they were projected on the screen. When the class ended, he headed to my table and concluded, "And we should stop this now, before we lose this young lady to sleep. She's clearly been on the road too long." He picked up my laptop with forefinger and thumb to stare at the screen, which had gone black. His voice wasn't kind. I thought in an instant 'this is my worst possible nightmare, this is going to suck' and it didn't. Because I authentically didn't care any more. My apathy had grown to that point. Once upon a time, I had nightmares of falling asleep in class - now I get caught, and all I end up with is a jolt of anger for someone who isn't me handling my laptop without care. We discussed the group presentations and left. Pip, Emma, Jo and I all had breakfast together at Mondial; it was pleasant to have all four of us together again, we so seldom see each other. We all headed back to agriculture and hung out for a while, until Jo and Emma had to leave. Pip and I headed up for Biological Control, at this point the only lecture I can stand. Instead of Barbara, the man who drones on and on was speaking about...ah, yes, the biological control Green Muscle (a fungus) on desert locusts, which I learned about in Exploiters and Exploited first year. When lecture was over and Pip was speaking with him, I spoke with a boy who is in my year and is trying to go for a PhD next year - all the luck to him. I expressed my hopelessness at recognising that this apathy seems to be here to stay and is not leaving with my illness. He told me he knew exactly how I felt. I suppose I'm in senioritis v. 2.0 now. Back to the library for work and writing, no safety bus so I walked home. Hung with the housemates and got pizza. Dressed up and went out for pre-drinks at the Hobgoblin (or something) and the Hope Tap (or something) with Mark and Rob and a few new friends. I didn't drink anything. Then off to Facebar, a goth/alternative bar/nightclub. First I wrote a letter to Clover, then read some Terry Pratchett by torchlight (I needed to get some solitary time in and I love doing solitary things out in public) and then socialising and dancing with my friends. We had a great time. Tanya convinced me to get a rum and coke but other than that I didn't touch much. Mark and John N, however, were very much inebriated. During the taxi ride home Mark was ranting about all the things that are 'shit' (from his ex to politics) and John N was singing. We also brought Adam, my coach-friend, home. Then we all passed out.
vi. Saturday: Simple, quiet day: exactly what I needed. I spent the day in writing and relaxing. I wrote 11,000 words on my novel and felt sane again for the first time all week. I posted some of it on Casey's wall, but mainly am keeping to myself because even though I have borrowed real-life people for my novel, I am not writing it for them or for quality or even for quantity, really; I'm writing it to stay sane in a time that could easily drive me over the edge. I'm filling in the gaps of what I am missing right now, putting myself in those situations and including myself in them in a year's time when I am home again. Amanda Palmer, Rocky Horror, Rowe reunions, sister times, even drama. Saturday was beautiful.
vii. Sunday: Today. Simple day, for the most part. I woke up and tweeted with Kimya Dawson a little. She linked to a music video she was a part of, in which she was a pair of cute little pink scissors singing a love song with some blue scissors. I drew a face on my pair and uploaded a picture. Went on Furcadia. Organised a list of my tasks and deadlines and put them in order. Did my abstract for Biodiversity & Conservation, which is a ridiculous module run in an absurd way. At least it was one thing to knock off the list. Shaved my armpits for the first time in two or three years (or something like that), just to save on having to buy new deodorant because the one I currently have is crap, and somehow it gave me the courage to actually say out loud that I don't (generally) shave. I tend to just hint at it, despite that when I walk around in daily life it's something reasonably easy to see. I went a little crazy on twitter but not for reasons a lot of people expected, I guess. Anyway, I was met with a lot of support. This isn't some big identity-changing thing, or a permanent thing, or something I want my brain to attach to in any real way. I like having it, I like not having it; if I feel shaving it will make a part of my life easier (and not for anyone else - just for me), I will shave it, but if not I won't. I just remembered these things people had said only a few weeks ago at Sister Activist in London, women in a room telling me they admired me for stepping out of the gender binary in a way they wanted to but didn't feel they could. I understand and I thank them for it, and while I may be doing that, it isn't my conscious intention. Once upon a time in a little place called Rowe in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts, where some of my heart will always be, I was in the shower with these beautiful powerful women and I noticed they didn't shave. I asked them why. They shrugged and told me, well, they didn't have to. I blinked. They didn't have to. I didn't have to. It was as simple as that - I didn't have to, so if I wanted to I could, and if I didn't want to I could not. I stopped that day and never looked back (or at least, not seriously). I had been forced into shaving years before by people I wanted to keep as my friends. Suddenly I was surrounded by people who didn't require me to deny my mammalian self to be their friend, and I realised I could create that kind of community around me any time I wanted by being who I wanted to be at that moment. All those thoughts were running around my head today but I'm okay with it all. I haven't changed who I am or what I stand for. I still stand for choice, and that isn't going to change.
I also realised that I have the best friends a person could ever ask for, and I am so very very blessed in this life of mine. Somehow this little insignificant collection of carbon-based atoms that I am in this universe came to meet these other brilliant carbon-based life forms and they willingly chose to stay in my life. I am endlessly grateful.
What a chunky monkey livejournal post. :Þ ALSO I WATCHED 'RADICAL HARMONIES', A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT WOMEN'S MUSIC THROUGH HISTORY, AND IT WAS AMAZING. Watch it if you like women's music and female empowerment! I learned quite a bit, and I've never been so excited for summer folk festivals!
WE CAN DO IT!