Procreation? Not so much. Footnotes? Absolutely.

at 16:26

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Two articles caught my attention today the first, over at Jezebel is a truly horrifying report of a woman in Sweden whose boyfriend fed her RU-486 without her knowledge in a bid to abort the foetus she was carrying. Even more frightening is the fact that he's not the first guy to have this stellar idea. The Jezebel article highlights some of the comments left on the original news story, which I'll reproduce here:

I find it interesting that he gets sentenced to 18 months in prison for trying to get rid of the fetus and she can legally get rid of the fetus by having an abortion.

Most of the responses to this are completely in tune with my personal reaction of "The FUCK? He drugged her, that's assault you fucking moron" which is always heartening to see. It's nice to know that rampant stupidity doesn't permeate to every last corner of the internet. As far as refuting the moronic arguments like the once above goes: it all comes back (like so many things) to the "my body, my choice" philosophy. I've been reading a lot on this subject recently and I have realised something very important. This is an ideal which I will fight to the death to defend. I will also say this, melodramatic as it sounds: if abortion or emergency contraception were ever made to be completely illegal I would have myself sterilised. For real. I don't care how painful, expensive or irreversible the procedure would be there would be no way in hell I would take that chance.* I'd rather never have children at all than have them before I'm ready for them. As for abstinence? Fuck off. I mean, you have met me right?

This brings me neatly onto the second article, via Feministing, which happily put me in a much better mood. Shockingly enough some women genuinely don't want children. Why? Because they just don't. I cannot tell you how happy this and the associated comments made me feel. The second I say something such as the statement I made above I immediately get jumped on with the "oh you'll change your mind soon enough"s or the "it'll be different when it happens to you"s and I am sick to the back teeth of it**. It's part absolute fury at being told what I will and will not feel at some undetermined point in the future (which I do not like) and part repulsion at the idea that I obviously will never be able to be a complete and rounded person until I have popped out a sprog. I've stopped saying that I don't want children now, not because I suddenly and magically do but because I can't take arguing with people over it any more. It appears that the answer of "because I just don't really feel I want them" isn't good enough and I utterly despise myself when I catch me starting up with the "I can barely look after myself, what would I do with a baby? I'd probably lose it. I even kill my houseplants HA HA HA" schtick which seems to be the only verging on acceptable response. Anyway, it's not as simple as that I'm not saying I'll never have kids just that I don't want them but people can't seem to understand this distinction. It is very, very simple: if I meet someone who desperately wants a family then, yeah: I would consider it. However, I also think that if I never got around to reproducing it wouln't be any great loss - my life would be just as fulfilling and I'd be just as happy either way. Is this a wildly radical notion? Does the logic of this not compute somewhere? It's another case of people assuming that just because they get something out of a particular situation (and yes, so do billions of other people) then everyone else must do too.

Although I will say this, having gotten older and making friends with women who actually are mothers some in real life (some in a life that just feels real) my perception of motherhood has changed. Realising that parents are real people (who can get irritated with their offspring, or find them unintentionally hilarious, or have any number of any other utterly rational human responses to a completely autonomous living entity) rather than the Stepford-bot mega-mommy 3000s I grew up around (seriously, private school girls have issues 90% of them parentally induced) my horror of having spawn has been downgraded from "I'd rather jump off a bridge, oh God. Why would you even say something like that to me? What the fuck, man." to "well maybe, if I had the money and the support and someone else who promised to feed them and clean out their cages... meh, what's on TV?". So there's always that.

* This is not to say that I am anti-children (obviously, or my future career plans would be kind of stupid), or anti-anyone having children ever. I am however anti-me having children. I am also anti-bringing a child into the world into a home situation that either doesn't want it or isn't ready for it.

** This particular rant may or may not have been brought on by the fact that my baby cousin, who ok is only 9 months younger than me, moved in with her boyfriend this week highlighting the fact that in my family's terms I am officially an old maid. Seriously, being 22 and not having met/married someone yet is positively deviant - especially as my Mother was living in London when she was exactly my age and yet she still had time to find herself a husband.

girls on film?

at 14:43

Friday, 22 February 2008

Just a quick hit posting (I'm absolutely blitzed at work at the moment which is awesome) to draw your attention to the following AlterNet article on the imbalance between male and female characters in kids TV programming.

An exerpt from the article:

"Studying 4,000 female film characters, females (from animated girl puppies to grown human women) were more than 5 times more likely than males to be shown as adornment or sexually enticing and three times more likely to be dressed in sexually alluring clothing.
Most dramatically, females of all ages were 3 times more likely (10.6% vs. 3.4%) to have unrealistically "perfect" bodies, introducing the skinny ideal at an early age to the minds of young boys and girls."

Something else to take away from the piece: Geena Davis absolutely rules.


at 14:00

I've just seen the post-it note I wrote myself a couple of days ago and then proceeded to leave in the middle of my lab desk. It says the following:

April 30th - give 30 days' notice!

I have made no secret of the fact that I will be leaving at some point before October... the only thing is the note actually refers to my phone contract.


almost lifelike

at 11:56

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Have I mentioned recently how much I love The Onion?

Because I really, really do.

mumbo jumbo for thursday

at 12:35

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Wow. Just wow.

Slate online posted the peer review guidelines for a Creationist journal as its hot document today. And I've got to say that the concept of Creationist peer reviews fucking terrifies me. Why? It means that these nutjobs take themselves seriously. I currently work in academia and peer review is a massive part of getting any scientific paper published. It acts as an internal system to prevent wildly speculative, falsified or just plain wrong data from being published as scientific fact. The reviewers are accredited scientists, at the top of their field. They do not, however, agree with the viewpoint of the paper's author by default. Peer reviewing is an arduous (and often insanely political) process that is the bane of most serious scientists' lives.

I immediately forwarded the link to co-worker M who finds this stuff as horrendous as I do. His response was to spend the rest of the morning reading the journal and forwarding me links.

Taking a random example: Dinosaur Nests Reinterpreted

Highlights include: overusage of quotation marks around the word "nest", scientific figures drawn representing how the authour imagines how the eggs dinosaur nests were arranged, several sections citing academic(ish) evidence for stress conditions followed by the section headed "Evidence of Stress Conditions from Scripture", the entirety of the "Acknowledgements" section (including praising the Lord, classy move guy) and the entire thing being written in a style that would have gotten me kicked out of my undergraduate degree course.

Read and enjoy.

a very special day

at 10:45

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Tomorrow is February 14th, a magical day where all is right with the world. It's a holiday that celebrates all that's good in life, a day for you spend basking in that warm and radiant glow, where your head spins and you are dizzy with joy and elation. It's a day when you speak kindly to strangers and embrace the world for all the wonderful things it offers. Above all that it's a day to share with that special someone:

That's right kids it's Tequilamas: because Jose loves you, even if nobody else does.

A Festival Is Born: The Origins Of Tequilamas

Tequilamas is a traditional celebration that stretches back for well over three hundred and fifty days. In the early days it began as a festival of togetherness, celebrating the bonds formed under the watchful and benevolent eyes of the god Olmeca. Sacrifices of limes were made and scantily clad maidens took turns at sculpting figures from salt to encourage the new year to be rung in free of hangovers.

Unfortunately this feeling of unity could not last for long, in the fifth cycle of celebrations a freak hurricane swept through the carnival arena devastating all that lay in its path. When searching for the cause of this hurricane the people discovered a strange shrine to the god Hallmark made of a sacrifice of red wine, rose petals and an insipid looking stuffed bear that had obviously been purchased on clearance at the very last minute. It was seen as a terrible omen, one that threatened the sanctity of Tequilamas. From that day forth it was decreed that those who worshipped the heathen god of Hallmark or who partook in the rituals he overlooked were forbidden from partaking in the Tequilamas festivities, lest they bring misfortune down on the heads of the faithful.

Changing Rituals: Tequilamas Through The Ages

The methods of celebrating the festival of Tequilamas have evolved over the years. In the early days, when tequila was an integral part of the people's everyday lives, the spirit drunk at the festival was of the purest form, blessed by the high priest J Cuervo (he would later go on to be canonised as Saint Cuervo, and would inspire Jose's Prayer; a hymn synonymous with the modern celebrations of Tequilamas), and coloured gold. As time went by and people forgot the old ways the spirit used for the festival decreased in quality - eventually leading to the dark ages when revelers would partake in £1 per shot off-label tequila. These were dark days, the gods objected and, when their prayers to the deity AlkaSeltzer fell on deaf ears, the people knew the old ways must once again be taken up.

Tequilamas celebrations are also subject to regional variations and there has been fierce debate between factions as to the correct way to properly honour the gods (for further background information please refer to The Great Citrus Wars and the schism between the factions of White and Gold), a conflict which in fundamental spheres still rages today.

As time has passed the numbers of those celebrating the festival have dwindled, they are often outcasts from their peers who have inexplicably turned to he heathen gods for comfort. At first this threatened the existence of the celebrations but the faithful came together and discovered that their status as virtual strangers fostered the original spirit of Tequilamas and the bonds formed during the festivities were the envy of the non-believers. Recently there has been a trend towards people who are not loyal to the god Olmeca wishing to experience Tequilamas themselves - debate has raged long and hard on this issue and opinion is still divided although, in the spirit of Tequilamas restrictions have begun to be lifted.

A Day Of Festivities: Celebrating Tequilamas

Modern day Tequilamas is a relaxed affair in most circles, lacking in many of the prescribed rituals passed down through the ages. The discriminatory view of the followers of Hallmark has remained although the ban has been unofficially lifted (Hallmarkians can attend the festivities if vouched for by a member of the organising committee and they are able to prove their dissatisfaction, bitterness, unhappiness or status as "alone" on the allotted date - they will however, be subject to a fine). In some circles you will even find revelers partaking in mixed drinks (with very little derision from Tequilamas veterans). While you are welcome to imbibe Margaritas and Sunrises if you wish you will find that the full Tequilamas experience really comes from getting into it. The "spirit of things", if you will.

Tequilamas traditional costumes have varied over the years (although the forbidden colour pink can still not be worn there has been a recent movement to reclaim the colour red - revelers wear it on their feet to symbolise the crushing of the heathen god's ideals) one element has remained: Nametags. Throughout the ages those celebrating Tequilamas have come to understand the beauty of such an item. Often groups celebrating on the festival day are virtual strangers having been outcast by worshippers of Hallmark, nametags are useful in this situation. Especially if hand decorated.

All Tequilamas celebrations begin with the three toasts: One to the god Olmeca, one to Saint Cuervo and the third to the fellow revelers. Each toast is accompanied by a shot of the sacred liquid.

Following the three toasts comes the fining of the non-believers: If Hallmarkians are allowed to attend the festivities they must stand before the room and renounce their god for the evening, taking instead the god Olmeca (loyalty is demonstrated by performing the hallowed ritual of "Shot Race" with other non believers). Any indulging in activities sanctioned by the god Hallmark (or his demons) will lead to immediate expulsion, there can be no exceptions.

Music and games follow, such classic family entertainments as "One Shot Confessions", "I Have Never", "Body Shots" and "What Other Alcohol Can I Mix With Tequila? Rum? Yeah, That'll Work. Tequila, Rum and Orange Is Bound To Taste Great. What? We Don't Have Any Orange? I Dunno, Just Use Iron Bru Or Something" are undertaken and songs, including "Jose's Prayer" and "Ode to the Scorpion" are lifted high into the rafters.

Now that you know the history and practices of this ancient and hallowed festival I charge you to go forth into the world and take the spirit of Tequilamas with you.

In the name Olmeca, Jose and The Scorpion I bid you good health and a merry Tequilamas.

breaking news: intelligent and thoughtful news article on dieting, nation keels over in shock

at 09:46

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

There's a fantastic article in today's G2 called "Losing It". It's an introduction to Kia Cochrane who will be starting a column on weight loss without any diet or exercise tips. Normally I shudder at the thought of any of this "one woman's journey in search of the perfect body" bollocks, and I had my sneering muscles warmed up and at the ready (especially considering the cover proclaims "The Feminist Dieter!" in response to the story) but then I actually started reading the piece. Cochrane is both funny and intensely likable - she's also incredibly honest. She tells how she had always been fairly happy with her weight but then, through a regime of eating "what felt normal, without thinking about it" she managed to put on a lot of weight in a short time.

What normally would follow would be tales of self loathing, a strict work-out regime and a diet of carrots and celery (that helpfully would be provided in a separate supplement decorated with images of a newly svelte Cochrane grinning a glazed and slightly manic "See? You can do this too!" smile) instead the author says the following:

"And you know what? I didn't mind. In fact, as I started to escape the fug I had been in, looked down and noticed my belly, I realised that being fat was kind of cool."

She goes on to explain how being properly "fat" immediately excluded her from the constant comparisons and competitions concerning body weight and dress size that most "normally sized" women are subjected to on a daily basis, conversations that are both understandable in today's society and yet incredibly depressing all at the same time:
"I no longer had to take, or fake, an interest in any of my friends' new diet plans. They simply didn't tell me about them. I was no longer part of that culture that counts calories, compares dress sizes and says, "No carbs after sundown!" as though this is a fabulous motto to live by."

Eventually though the restrictions her weight had put on her, coupled with a family history of heart disease, convinced her to lose some weight; for the health benefits. And, contrary to the majority of articles citing this as a motivator to slim down, Cochrane never talks about herself in the self loathing way that we've come to expect of women embarking on diets or fitness regimes. Throughout the entire piece the reader is given a sense of a self assured (if a little neurotic) woman who is happy with the person that she is. As opposed to the legions of women who state "I'm going to get fit, if I lose weight it'll be a nice bonus" (and I hold up my hand, I was certainly one of them, in fact I may still be guilty of this) she manages to sound sincere in her stance that she admires those who are overweight and obese but still keep fit, and there's no hint of envy in her statement that they are healthier than their "skinny-but-unfit peers".

I recommend that you go and read the article, I'll be keeping up with the columns every other week, I'm hoping that she doesn't disappoint me.

If you don't read the piece the last two paragraphs sum it up perfectly:
"Anyway, hatred of physical jerks or not, hatred of the diet industry or not, hatred of conversations about low-calorie alternatives to cheese or not, by the start of this year I knew that I had to do something about my weight. I knew that this would be difficult for a lot of reasons: said problem with sport; an inability to be told what to do; my psychological association of being thin with being depressed. But I also knew that I was not alone. Though being fat often feels alienating, the reality is that the majority of UK adults are now overweight. This means that there are a lot of people out there like me. People who feel that they should lose weight, but have done so before and seen it all go back on, and then some. People who feel that the diet industry is a vast conspiracy, predicated on failure - after all, if any diet actually worked the whole billion-dollar baby would go bust. People who feel sick at the thought of buying into anything that Gillian McKeith or the countless other preaching, screeching diet "gurus" have to say. A lot of people, then, who know that they have to lose weight, but approach the project with ambivalence.

In writing about my experiences, I won't be including updates on lost kilos (I don't weigh myself). I won't be providing fabulous tips for reducing the size of your behind (what do I know? I just plan to eat less and exercise more). I won't be declaring that Rosemary Conley was right when she said, "Nothing tastes as good as being slim feels!" (Clearly impossible, as ice cream exists.) I won't be providing endless portions of self-loathing, as I don't hate myself - or anyone else - for being fat. I know that many people consider being fat a crime akin to murder. I do not. I shall simply be charting some months in the life of a person who is, at best, reluctant about diets, and, at worst, disgusted by the very notion, but who knows, unfortunately, that something must be done. I warn you: there will be grumpiness."

Absolutely superb. And I can relate: for the first time ever I have given something up for lent. Two things actually, first up: chocolate (I have replaced my daily rations with all manner of other, non cocoa based producs, natch. I'm currently addicted to individual carrot cake bars). Secondly I've given up my scales and I must say that not obsessively weighing myself has done fucking wonders for my psyche.

I'm still exercising, which is some kind of a record as I'm now in my *counts* fifth week of doing it. My super-fit rugby playing flatmate G is very impressed with me and the fact that I seem inclined to keep pushing myself further (I decided yesterday that I need to add weights into one section of my cardio routine to make it more challenging) - he's even using RPG analogies to keep me motivated, apparently continually pushing myself to get fitter is akin to levelling up for the sheer joy of being more badass than everything in the surrounding area. He also reminded me that I'd promised to join a club when I got fitter - level 50 according to him (I really need to stop talking to that boy about my video games). After a club (where I will meet exciting new people and be motivated to go by default) I have to find a sport (if dancing doesn't count I'm screwed) and then apparently I have to get competitive.

Yeah, we'll see how that goes.

Frankly, the fact that I'm still getting my ass off the sofa three plus times per week and actually working out is nothing short of a miracle. We'll see how I feel in another month.

happy weekend!

at 16:38

Friday, 8 February 2008

Huzzah hurrah and hooray! The weekend is here!

I'm going off to get dolled up in the horendous fluorescent lighting of the ladies room at work (it's a horrifying experience at the time but you look fantastic all night), slipping into my hot red shoes and something strapless and then heading out to get thai food with B. We're going to talk about boys, flirt with barmen and get trashed on overpriced cocktails. Despite living together we don't go out as a pair that often (read: once in the last six months) so I'm incredibly excited.

Vive la weekend!

See you all on Monday, hopefully without any horror stories to share.

ducks should rule the world, logically.

at 16:28

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Today just so happens to be the birthday of this fabulous specimen of humanity:

And I just so happened to be lucky enough to catch him live last Sunday evening.

I've had a bit of an Eddie Izzard obsession since I was allowed to stay up late to watch Unrepeatable (still my favourite show) one Friday evening, I was hooked and since that day I've been simply desperate to catch him live. Luckily for me I subscribe to the Londonist and managed to snag tickets for one of the three (now extended to six - the last one plays tomorrow evening but unsurprisingly is a sell out) late night, non-publicised Work In Progress gigs that he was playing.

The show playing at 11pm on a Sunday night meant that the theatre's bar was absolutely packed for at least an hour beforehand, unless you want to pay the extortionate prices charged by the few Leicester Square clubs that stay open past 10pm on a Sunday evening it was pretty much the only option - clearly many people had decided to take it. The crowd was nicely buzzing pre-show and from the conversations I overheard as edged around the crowd there was a nice mix between Eddie aficionados, people with a passing interest and some folks who’d just come along for an evening of cheap comedy. Eventually the bar became so packed that movement was nigh on impossible – luckily the staff began seating at this point. The overall atmosphere remained incredibly friendly with spontaneous conversations breaking out between strangers, even giving those watching alone like myself the impression that they were among friends.

The London Arts Theatre is a fantastic venue, it's absolutely tiny for a start and even in the worst seats in the house (I was seated in the circle slips) I had a perfect view of the stage, a rare occurrence for someone who barely skims 5'2". The small size of the room gave the show an intimate feel, often when you see comedy performed to a large crowd it can begin to feel detached and almost clinical. This show had none of that, it was closer in feeling to a lecture – where the speaker takes his cues from the audience and adapts accordingly, something that’s impossible to achieve naturally in front of a stadium sized crowd.

Also: no hecklers. Absolute bliss! I hate fucking hecklers.

The show itself was superb, Izzard was in full on “boy mode” and unlike his other shows the material didn’t touch once on his transvestitism. It didn’t suffer for it though; instead the focus ran from weighty topics such as religion, slavery and the evolution of language right through to the horror of spiders with wings and the problems with Wikipedia the quick turnover of subjects kept the show from feeling stale while the central themes kept it somewhat grounded. The stances he took in this show were more controversial than in previous material (in so far as a radical moderate can be considered controversial at any rate) but the over all themes remained the same. The material was fresh and although there were a few rough points, references that clearly sailed over the audience’s heads, the show never began to drag. Although old topics were repeated (Latin descriptions of elephants featuring also in The Definite Article and the problems of bees and wasps from Unrepeatable among others) they were developed upon and given a new spin, rather than just repeated verbatim (Bill Bailey is a particular offender when it comes to this, as is Dylan Moran) which can jar and drag you from the flow of the show, especially if you are familiar with the material. Familiarity in this case wasn’t a disadvantage – in fact the inclusion of a few throwaway lines that harked back to previous shows was a very nice touch.

As for the standard of the material: it goes without saying that the show was superb. Izzard was on fine form and the over an hour’s worth of material he performed didn’t seem nearly long enough. The comedy flew off into the territory of the surreal – as expected – and managed to touch on topics that a few years ago Izzard probably would have shied away from. All in all a fantastic way to spend a Sunday evening (even if I did get accosted by three separate crazies on the journey home) and worth catching live on a full tour or the cost of a DVD purchase.

a quick news round up

at 11:09

Christina Ricci manages to simultaneously misunderstand the term "positive female role model" and make my soul cry when talking about her new film, impressive to say the least.

Yesterday was the 90th anniversary of British women over the age of thirty getting the right to vote. The Guardian had an interview with the director of the Fawcett Society on how far we've come and the progress that still has to be made. It's well worth a read.

Guess what? Tattoos, in addition to being awesome, may actually have a medical benefit. BBC news reports that tattooing may be an ideal method of vaccine delivery as the process is excellent for promoting an immune response (anyone who has suffered tattoo flu can attest to this). Looks like it would be too painful to use on children but hey, there's always livestock.

Today marks the start of the Year of the Rat. There are a ton of fun things going on in my fair city and, if timing allows, I'm planning on heading out to soak in some culture and enjoy the fireworks this weekend. I suggest you go out and do the same (or at least get some dim sum).

Oh and did I mention that I went to see this guy over the weekend? Well I did and he was sufreakingperb. A mini-review of the show should be going up some time this afternoon.


at 21:47

Monday, 4 February 2008

Because I feel like the place needs brightening up a little, how about some colour?


Is it wrong to be completely entranced by something on your own skin?

This was taken when the work was freshly done - it looks a ton better now that it's pretty much healed, my next session isn't for another month I'm giving my poor back a chance to heal itself.

This is also posted over at Inked Oddity.

thank you

at 09:40

To everyone who commented, to everyone who shared their experiences and gave their advice: thank you.

I'm going to sound like a complete sap when I admit that I was genuinely moved, almost to tears actually, by the responses I got (especially a certain epic email). Reading through all of your advice helped me massively and, over the course of the weekend, I came to my descision.

I started to write my Masters application for the millionth time, I started and I stopped, I got out my calculator and figured out my finances, I looked at possible job options, I deleted everything that I'd just written, I stared at the screen feeling like an utter failure. The words wouldn't come - the abstract ideas, the late night speeches that I gave so many times, the ideals and the plans I'd used to have everyone else convinced - they just wouldn't stay on the page. Slippery and elusive I couldn't hold on to them for long enough to pin them down. I got up, I wandered, I scribbled in the leatherbound book where my snippets of fiction reside, I wrote some dialogue about a cat with no ears, I poured myself a glass of wine.

The itches wouldn't go away and by now it was dark, the house was empty, nobody was answering their phone. I was too worked up to sleep, too antsy to read - my eyes kept skipping words and lines, splicing sentences together and muddling the prose. So I did something that a couple of months ago would have been hell: I worked out. I pushed myself and lost myself. I really thought, for the first time in a good while about what I wanted. I weighed up my options and saw myself in five years, I heard the future me speak, I saw her light up and beam with pride when she explained to a stranger what it was that she did with her days.

And so I showered off, quickly, not wanting to lose the thread of insight, scared to shatter the fragile and perfect plan. I sat down at my computer and the words flowed. For two hours I typed. I explained what I wanted to get out of my life and what I wanted to give. I gave the reasons that I would not only enjoy my work but also that I would excel at it. In two hours it was done. The entire thing. There was no hesitation, no doubt or uncertainty just the sweet feeling of purpose and the sensation of weight lifting from my chest and the final inhalation of breath.

I'm going to teach.

More than that: I'm going to get my Masters.

More than that: I'm going to write fiction.

I realised that I can do everything that I want to do, I don't have to sacrifice a single part of it. When it really came down to it the reason I wanted to do the Masters was not to get a job at the end of it. I love to write but I love it too much to sterilise it. I love the creation of characters and the weaving of worlds not writing a piece pushing a drug. The reason I wanted to take the masters was beacuse I wanted the knowledge and the skills, I wanted to read the material and write the essays. And so I don't have to do it full time, I don't have to do it in a college and I don't have to take it now. The Open University offers the course and I have the next fourty summers to work on it. I have the next fourty summers to rent a cottage in the highlands and hole up with my laptop and a wireless internet connection. I have the next fourty summers to tell the stories that swirl in my mind.

When I thought about not teaching it frightened me. Already it felt like opportunity lost and I'm too young to start regretting things. So many of you said that I have all the time in the world, that I don't have to decide what to do with the rest of my life right now, so I'm not going to. I'm going to do what feels right to me now and if, in the future, something else feels more right then I'll do that instead.

Once I'd made my decision and sent my application into the ether to be judged and (oh my god please) accepted I, of course, rang my Mother. When I told her there was an audible rush of breath - I could see her closing her eyes at the other end of the phone and slowly unfurrowing her brow.

"Oh, thank God."

She'd been waiting for me to come to the decision on my own. Standing by and relentlessly firing pros and cons at me. Telling me not to worry about the money, telling me not to worry about the lack of jobs, telling me how much hard work teaching would be, telling me what I good writer I am, what a good teacher I would be. She'd kept quiet while I theorised about finances, working hours, what I'd get out of it, whether the sacrifices were worth it. When I finally told her what I'd decided - and my reasons for it - she said that she'd never been prouder, that she knew I'd come to the right path on my own, that she was so happy I'd finally stopped listening to other people and decided on what was truly best for me.

I feel good today. I feel light and bright and frighteningly happy. I feel like a weight has lifted.

Now I just need to get on to a course.