ooooooh SHINY!

at 22:03

Friday, 25 April 2008

I was going to save this for my 100th post (fast approaching, I've decided to go the incredibly self indulgent route and resurrect the old "100 things about me" meme so please feel free to skip it and I promise I won't pull a similar stunt for my 200th post) but the coding bug caught me this evening. I know, Friday night in at my computer tinkering around with HTML code: hedonistic, right? At least I have a bottle of wine by my side. Anyways, it's something I haven't done in years and I must say I rather enjoyed the graphic making/random trial and error testing that it involved.

I hope you like it! If anything is hideously hard to read/glaringly ugly/bothering you immensely leave me a note in the comments and I'll see about getting it fixed because I'm accomodating like that.

Anyway tell me what you think. Validate me and comment.

as per your requests

at 19:03

This is the photo from my latest session (and yes, there is a session missing - it's the stuff below my waist and I'm avoiding posting photos of my ass online, I will put up full sized finished photos though promise), not really much new stuff but you can see that the direction has changed somewhat. We're going for a art deco/comic book hybrid feel (especially with the new outlining) - there were much more sketchy lines adorning me but Kamil decided that he couldn't risk losing what we had done so far so I got some unexpected tattoo work done. But my shoulders are finally covered - so hurrah for that. Anyways, here's the picture:


I go in next towards the end of July so I'll be walking around looking like an unfinished canvas for a good few months. Again. So yeah, comment away.

this actually makes me tear up...

at 19:55

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Something to placate you while I prepare my upcoming photo post and also just cause I really want it on my blog.

Even if you've seen it before please enjoy. I cannot explain how much I love this song the video that goes with it is self explanatory really.

interview redux (very long and incredibly boring)

at 10:40

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

So, the interview.

After days of freaking out re: lack of school experience, my presentation not being written until the morning before (finishing acetates ten minutes before leaving the house - great plan!) and feeling horrendously under prepared I actually managed to feel incredibly calm on the morning of the interview. This calmness was not affected by the unbelievably creepy guy at the bus stop who struck up a conversation with me about my book and then proceeded to s-l-o-w-l-y unbutton his jacket while looking me directly in the eye. It was fucking creepy and had the bus not arrived at that particular moment I'm about 80% sure my day would have started with a flasher. Excellent. I had to run to work before my actual interview so that I could sneak into the printing room and make copies of all my documents (literally every piece of ID available to me as well as qualifications, past pay slips, tax records etc, I'll give them points for being thorough) I managed to only get spotted by one of my managers in work, on my day off, wearing a suit. Wonder if she suspected anything?

Typically I arrived about twenty minutes early so I sat at the bus stop reading my flasher-magnet book and checking my watch every three seconds, when that became too much for me I wandered down to have a look at the scary religious folks handing out free food. The area around the college itself is seriously pretty - there's a big green park (Russel Square, where this show is set) and a ton of other colleges so there are always massive gaggles of students wandering around. All in all a lovely atmosphere. It was then that my Mother chose to call me and start the following conversation:

"Hello darling, I just wanted to wish you luck and to say that even if you don't get a place, which you will, I'm just so proud of you for getting an interview on the course. I know you don't like things to be so competitive but I know you'll do fine."

"What are you talking about, Mother?"

"Your course. The league tables.... Young lady, did you apply to college to train for your future career without even looking at the league tables?"


Yeah. She had a look through the league tables for PGCE (post graduate certificate in education - that's the course I applied for) courses and apparently I applied to the best course in London. I didn't know this. I chose providers pretty much at random based on geographical location to make sure that my school placements would be within the Greater London area. I was not prepared to hear this. Calm mood shattered. I had prepared for an "average course" interview, not a "top course" interview. There was no way in hell I'd done enough preparation to be up against people who actually knew what they were talking about. But! No time to worry on with the interview.

I met a girl waiting for the lift who looked decidedly uncomfortable in a suit, a sure sign of an interview candidate. What I should have done, if I had any kind of killer instinct whatsoever, was size her up and attempt to psyche her out. What I actually did was lean over and ask the following:

"On a scale of one-to-utter meltdown how freaked out are you right about now?"

She gave a perfect reply ("eight and a half, nine by the time we reach the sixth floor") and I decided that breaking the cardinal rule of "don't talk to other candidates lest you freak yourself out" was probably a good idea. A neuroscientist like me, applying to teach Biology, she'd started preparing two days previously and hadn't spent the last three years volunteering in schools. At least there was going to be one person like me. We arrived on the right floor bang on time and met the other candidates. Lots of awkward smiles and questions as to which subject everyone was specialising in (2 physicists, 3 chemists, one half physicist-half chemist, one half chemist-half biologist (moi) and five biologists). We were shepherded into the meeting room and left to our own devices while our interviewers "prepared" (ominous much?).

I think silence reigned for about six seconds before three of us started talking at once. In a room full of people who were willingly going to stand up in front of a class of eighteen year olds in an attempt to convince them that the inner workings of the human ear is the most fascinating thing they'll ever study (it isn't) there were bound to be some talkative people. We immediately started comparing notes, discussing presentation topics, lamenting (or celebrating) the fact that presentations were going to be one on one, finding out who'd been working where and just generally talking ourselves down from a state of supreme nervousness. In fact it took our primary interviewer a few tries to get us to shut up.

From then on the atmosphere was absolutely lovely, (helped by the first point of the interviewers' presentation which informed us that this was not a competitive process and that they could feasibly take everyone in the room if they liked us enough and we meet their specifications) whenever someone left the room to present or interview there was a chorus of "good luck"s and whenever someone returned they either spent five minutes reassuring the room how nice the interviewer was or running through every question they'd been asked. I don't know when it happened but at some point the day became fun.

The interview had a few different sections: first up a mini ice breaker (standard "tell us your name and something about yourself" fare) followed by a presentation from the college explaining things like term times, how placements functioned and were assigned, the structure of the course etc. Next we had a group discussion which was based on some basic science questions we'd been sent in our interview pack - stuff like "where do stars come from?", "A tree is made of air and water - is this correct?" and "Why is mercury a liquid when all the other metals are solids at room temperature?". I remember those three because those were the three we were asked. I think I spoke at least once for every question while some people in the room only piped up once they were called on. There was one guy, a physicist who was quite a bit older and had been working as a technician in a school for years, who kept going off onto huge rambling and very technical explanations that unfortunately had obviously been memorised. I had to bite my lip a few times to stop myself from butting in, especially when it was to defend myself (we were encouraged to point out flaws in the previous speakers' answers) but I managed OK and didn't make myself look like too much of an idiot.

Next we were given a writing task with questions to answer based on a specific situation we'd already been given. An individual writing task. I think we all turned in identical essays. One of the guys suggested a group answer a la Breakfast Club signed with vague descriptions of ourselves. He was ace. But then I tend to think that about anyone who complains that they now have to cut the jokes out of their presentations. Anyway, the writing task was ongoing whilst we were called out to either give our presentations or to be interviewed formally.

My presentation was first. I was a little nervous about giving a presentation to just one person as I generally perform best to a crowd. My worries were completely unfounded though as I nailed it. To. The. Wall. I think my concluding remark was something along the lines of "and that's why stem cells are so awesome"... I'm guessing I got points for enthusiasm. And, as it's my pet topic I was able to answer all the questions I got asked so I'm really glad I didn't just write up a topic from the A-level course.

After the presentation came the interview, which was the section I was really dreading. The way the course is run you have to be capable of teaching all three core sciences (including some geology and astronomy thrown in for good measure) up to GCSE level (which is age 16) you then get to teach your specialist subject at A-level. I utterly sucked at the physics questions and froze up on a question about global warming which is a massive deal as the course is so intensive that they really don't have time to go over any subject knowledge at all - you're expected to know it going in. Which I didn't. The other issue was my lack of school time. The interviewer happened to know my secondary school which means she knew exactly how small the class sizes and how well behaved all the students were - she warned me that it would be a massive culture shock going in to an inner city comprehensive (a fact that I am acutely aware of, believe me) and stressed how incredibly important it is for me to get class experience as soon as possible regardless of how the interview went. The last subject we discussed was my flexibility at A-level. As I'm a biochemist I'm qualified to specialise in both Chemistry and Biology, and Chemistry is a major shortage subject. I explained that I'd be willing to take extra classes to qualify in Chemistry as well if they needed me to as I understand the importance of having competent and enthusiastic teachers in the harder science subjects but that I'd still want to at least audit the Biology specific modules.

So yeah, that was pretty much the scope of it.

Hmmmmm... I feel like I'm missing out a detail... now what was it? Something about the internet... maybe a letter...?

Oh yes! I remember:

I got in. To do Biology. Come September I'll be well on my way. Now the real work begins. I have to spend my summer re learning everything I've ever forgotten about Physics and really brushing up on my Chemistry. I also need to go shopping for some dark, long sleeved, collared shirts to hide the tattoo (which got ever so slightly bigger on Monday with plans to extend it even further) and some smart-ish sensible trousers. Because evidently the subject matter and class control aren't the issues here. Nope, it's how I'll look that's really important.

I confuse and scare myself sometimes.

interlude: overheard on the night bus

at 15:17

Friday, 18 April 2008

3am, the night bus from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill.

"D'you reckon you could cook a smurf?"
"Nah, not enough meat on a smurf. Wouldn't be worth it."
"I dunno. You could poach it... like a quail. Might taste a bit gamey though."
"Too much effort, mate."
"But you wouldn't cook Papa Smurf"
"You could do."
"Of course you wouldn't. That would be fucking insane. Papa Smurf has all the medicines. What if your mum got really ill and you'd gone and cooked Papa Smurf, you'd look like right a fucking idiot then, wouldn't you?"
"Fair point."

preparation, the (semi) live blog

at 21:49

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

17:00 - Right. Left work early so I could come home and work. Spent the last hour reading Perdido Street Station. Hmmm maybe I can justify it as an exploration into the morality of genetic engineering. I should really start planning

17:30 - Plan for the next six hours done. Easy money. Will just phone my mother for moral support.

18:00 - Bollocks. Plan no longer applicable. Never mind, will do research on the internet.

18:03 - Ooooh YouTube wants to work for me today!

19:48 - Phonecall from Doug wondering if he needs to pick up dinner or if I'll cook for him. Tell him to check with the people who will actually leave their rooms this evening.

20:15 - Actually, where the fuck are my housemates? They're blatantly in a bar having fun. Wish I was in a bar having fun.

20:39 - WooHoo! Three minutes of presentation done. And it only took me fifteen minutes to write. Wonder if it's factually accurate...

20:40 - I'll just check my facts.

20:45 - Bollocks.

20:47 - Hmmm maybe I'll just spend a few minutes checking through my reader...

21:55 - Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks. Done fucking nothing. Shit, shit, shit. I'm going to be making acetates at three in the morning half crazed from lack of sleep. I have the strangest feeling that I was aware of this fact weeks ago.

21:56 - Oooh! Keys in the door! Doug's back. I should go and entertain him. It's rude to leave guests unattended and foraging for food.

22:43 - Well at least my shirt is ironed for tomorrow now. That's a good thing, right?

22:44 - Maybe I should just re-time what I have so far...

22:47 - What I have so far is crap. I should start again.

23:09 - Second draft looks exactly like the first draft. Begin on third draft.

23:37 - I really shouldn't be capable of writing a presentation this quickly at this time of night. Slightly concerned that other people will have spent weeks on theirs. Justifying it to myself in that this is an example of teaching capability and will not have three weeks to prepare and memorise before each and every lesson. This is far more realistic. Yes.

23:42 - Five and a half minutes. REALLY basic. Like, really REALLY basic. Maybe I should be focusing on one thing? All seems a little rushed. Fuck it. Don't care. It's almost midnight. Need to make acetates.

23:50 - Flatmates home. Need coffee. Rearranging seems to be a good idea. How does rearranging make something shorter? That's insane.

00:04 - Mmmmm. Coffee.

00:10 - Hmmm if I combine this section with that section then it might be easier to follow... then I can link it to that bit and I can spend longer on my examples. Ahahaha! I am a genius!

00:23 - A genius who is more interested in reading forums than finishing her presentation, evidently.

00:42 - Seriously.

00:52 - I'm out. Going to bed. I have a presentation without a point, no acetates and a headache. Will get up at seven tomorrow and continue the whole hideous process.

panic stations

at 22:10

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

I am. Freaking. The Fuck. Out.

Seriously people, this is an epic level freak out happening right now. I'm on about a level 4 on the "Alex is melting down I'm serious about this run for the hills do not stop to retrieve children or valuables well maybe that one vase as it could actually be worth something some day" scale. I'm screwed. Utterly screwed. Nobody is ever going to let me teach. Anywhere. Ever. I'm certainly not going to get on to my first choice course, the interview for which is on Thursday.

Why you ask? Well! I'll tell you.

I haven't spent the last nine years volunteering with sick children and teaching them to read. I haven't taken every day of annual leave I've had in the last two years and spent it mentoring underprivileged youths (although I wish I had). I have not spent the last six weeks rehearsing my presentation for my interview, in fact I haven't even started it. That last part? Utterly not hyperbole.



I haven't spent a day in a school.

This is not my fault. It's the weirdest Easter ever right now. The schools aren't back yet. They don't answer emails. I have one possibility but I have to contact them after the school comes back in to session. On Monday. Four days after my interview. Useful. I fully intend on spending time in a school (because not to = fucking insane) I just haven't managed to yet.

This is entirely my fault. I should have started sooner. I applied too late. I'm not dedicated enough.

I made the mistake of reading message boards dedicated to applications for teaching. This was a bad idea. It made me freak out. I'm freaking out right now. Can you tell? Because, honestly? The people who visit websites dedicated to stuff are nerds and weirdos. I should know. I am one. Except I read scathing movie reviews, random sci-fi stuff, articles about sex and the evils of magazines, blogs on feminist issues and lots and lots and lots (and lots) of webcomics. I spend all day online working out exactly how many X-Men continuities I'm currently reading (three), daydreaming about my next tattoo and shoe shopping.

This does not make me a bad person. Really, it doesn't. At least I don't think it does. Shit.

And normally I wouldn't care. Because I never care. I haven't prepared for an interview in my life. I am su-freaking-perb at interviews. I kick ass at presentations (speaking of: I really should get on with that, I have about 36 hours in which to complete it - 20 of those will be spent at work and/or sleeping, hmmmmm I wonder if I can do both simultaneously), I am confident and well spoken and look fierce in a suit. But I'm freaking out. Massively. Because for once in my life I actually want something. I want this so badly. Not just because I don't handle rejection well. Not just because I want to be a student next year. Not just because I hate my current job so much it makes me want to leap out of my third floor window.

But because more and more I realise just how important it is (yes, that's my question).

I want to teach my subject. I want to be an authority figure that is always sympathetic. I want to be one of the few adults who offers a completely safe space. I want to be a role model to young women who are conditioned against science, against speaking up, against acting out. I want to explain inheritance theory and the process of natural selection. I want to see the maniacal spark in the pacifist veggie kid's eyes as she cuts into her first rat and decides on a career in pathology (hello, me at thirteen). I want this. The only other thing I've wanted this much was my place at University. I got that. I want this.

I know that I want this because I'm planning for my rejection. This doesn't happen in Alex Land. In Alex Land when you get rejected for something it takes under thirty seconds to have yourself and everyone around you convinced that you didn't want it anyways. Let thirty more seconds pass and you've already moved on to your Next Big Scheme. That doesn't happen here. I'm planning for my rejection. If I get rejected my application goes on to the next place. And then the next. And then it's June and I'm in clearing. And then the process is closed, the slots are filled. Come October I'm temping, taking a TEFL qualification in the evenings. January comes around and it's goodbye London, hello Tokyo. My application for the next year has already been sent. Interviews begin again.

And I calm down a little.

But still, there's the little voice whispering at the back of my head. They need science teachers, they are under fucking subscribed. You haven't prepared because you don't need to, why do you think they pay you ten grand tax free to train? They should be begging you to apply. You are a natural. And it's that little voice that's fucking me over because for a few minutes I believe it and start feeling confident. Then I start feeling blase. Then I start feeling cocky.

And the swing from "cocky" to "gibbering ball of panic and stress" is so steep and so terrifyingly far that it makes my stomach churn.

Bollocksing buggering bastarding fuck.

I'm going to read comics and worry myself to sleep. An activity only marginally less productive than spending half an hour ranting about my unpreparedness. Half an hour I could have been using to prepare.

Oh for fuck's sake.

a realisation

at 11:27

Monday, 14 April 2008

I make my ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo.

I listen to Less Than Jake and Bad Religion. I can name the make and model of most mid-priced hatchbacks. I can kick anyone's ass at Tiger Woods Golf despite never having owned a copy. I can go to work on under three hour of sleep. I'm a beer snob. I understand the political events that led up to the Second World War. I drink Kopparberg Pear Cider. I know the rules of cricket. I make mean chicken fajitas. I got my lip pierced. I can find my way around Brighton. I know what the clutch pedal is for. I can mix mojitos. I know that the trick to curing a hangover headache is to get up for a couple of hours and then go back to bed. I can cook scrambled eggs. I understand why people willingly go to war. I passed my degree. I have the name I always wanted.

I make my ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo.

I don't give them enough credit, the men who've had an effect on me. I took at least something away from every single one even if they don't know it. The ex Mr. TheOdd more than any of them, he makes up most of that list, and yet I never say it. I find myself not allowed.

I have friends who in their fierce protection of me won't hear a good word said about him. They're the ones who never really knew him, anyone who did nods along with my mantra of "awesome guy, great friend, rubbish boyfriend" because it's true. They loved him, spent years hanging out with us, they were the ones awake with us at 3am laughing and debating. They attended classes with him, knew us as friends and still ask me how he is. Because we were so close it's unimaginable to those who knew us that we would no longer speak.

It's true; I've been angry with him. I was angry about the way he treated me and anyone could see that part of that anger was really for me. Anger at being a doormat, anger at turning into the girl I said I wouldn't, anger at cowing down, being meek, willingly losing myself. That anger's gone now, I have myself back, and all I really want is to celebrate the woman I am today, giving credit where it's due to those who have influenced me. But some of those closest to me won't even allow me to say his name, they demand that I refer to him as "the ex" or "the weasel" or they go off into hyperbolic ranting that I know is only meant to make me laugh but still leaves me feeling uneasy. I can't tell them to stop, they're only showing they love me and, if I'm honest, when I try I either get reprimanded for going soft and giving in to him (because evidently he is aware of how I refer to him in conversation) or corrected, made to feel guilty for having good feeling towards him at all. Even when I explain. They are angry with him, still, so that I don't have to be and I love them for that.

Even so, there is something to be said and so I'll say it here because I am able to. Because nobody is going to stop me.

Thank you, Adam. For everything. I honestly believe I'm a better person because of you.

not a good day

at 10:15

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Life isn't fair.

People make me sick.

I want to go back to bed.


at 09:45

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Taking a leaf out of Websters Is My Bitch's book (then photocopying it and then claiming the resulting blurry mess is my own work) may I present to you:

Main Entry: Geekgasmic
Pronunciation: \ˈgēk,ˈgaz-mik\
Function: adjective
Etymology: a contraction formed from the commonly used words "geek" and "orgasmic"
Date: 2008

1: descriptor of a typically "uncool" experience which brings extreme joy eg. "The final episode of Bionic Woman was geekgasmic. And also: bad." "Kristin Bell looks positively geekgasmic in her Princess Leia outfit."

2: The only possible way to describe the following video clip

Yep. It's an Eva. What's that? It appears to be doing the Napoleon Dynamite dance? Why yes, yes it does. [Via Kotaku]

a retrospective

at 17:18

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

I don't understand about complementary colors
And what they say
Side by side they both get bright
Together they both get gray

But he's been pretty much yellow
And I've been kinda blue
But all I can see is
Red, red, red, red, red now
What am I gonna do

I don't understand about
Diamonds and why men buy them
What's so impressive about a diamond
Except the mining

And it's dangerous work
Trying to get to you too
And I think if I didn't have to
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill myself doing it
Maybe I wouldn't think so much of you

I've been watching all the time
And I still can't find the tack
And I wanna know is it okay
Is it just fine
Or is it my fault
Is it my lack

I don't understand about
The weather outside
Or the harmony in a tune
Or why somebody lied

There's solace a bit for submitting
To the fitfully cryptically true
What's happened has happened
What's coming is already on its way
With a role for me to play

I don't understand
I'll never understand
But I'll try to understand
There's nothing else I can do

~Fiona Apple Red, Red, Red