“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.” ~Winnie the Pooh
The first five people to respond to this post will get some form of art, by me. It will be about or tailored to those five lucky "victims." This offer does have some restrictions and limitations: - I make no guarantees that you will agree with what I perceive as art and/or quality. (Nobody said anything about quality, anyway!) - What I create will be just for you. - It'll be done before the year is out. (I'd rather give myself enough time to make something nice.) - You have no clue what it's going to be. It may be fic. It may be poetry. I may draw or paint something. I may bake you something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure! - I reserve the right to do something extremely strange. The catch? Oh, the catch is that you have to put this in your journal as well, if you expect me to do something for you!
So here I am and loving November. I have always preferred winter by a long way in just about every respect: winter food, winter weather, winter fashion, and of course, the approach of Christmas. Not partaking in another November activity, though - NaNoWriMo (good luck to those of you who are, though!) - due to having become increasingly busy this term (see below).
I did not actually realise it had been so long since I'd last written, but it's understandable given the aforementioned work- and non work-related busyness.
Naturally, with 42 students in my homeroom this year for me to manage all on my own (yes, really), this is the most difficult part of my job at present. Especially since I taught half of them last year and did not have a good relationship with them, so said half the class are intent on heckling during the registration period and just generally not letting me get on with the job in peace. Despite my best efforts in terms of both appeasing and disciplining them (seriously, I have been the Duracell bunny of discipline so far this term. Lost count of the number of detentions I've given out), nothing seems to be working and I am really at a loss. Any ideas (apart from changing job!) would be appreciated.
It's a shame about the part in brackets in a way because my other classes are generally going well: they're working, I'm forming good relationships with some of the kids, and I'm keeping them under control. I'm managing my workload well and have also taken on a new IGCSE course this year, Global Perspectives, which is fascinating and terrifying by equal turns (the kids have to produce about 5000 words' worth of coursework each before they even get to the exam).
Less fun was the school trip. This too was a great shame as last year's trip was immense! This year, thanks to one kid ending up in hospital and one in the doctor's surgery, plus general misbehaviour, it was a nightmare of fairly epic proportions. Not helped by this being my first year of actually organising the thing and feeling rubbish about the way I handled things. My fiscal reward? €480 gross for five days of trip. Should just about pay for the therapy I'll need, then.
And so this is the dilemma: do I continue in a job and industry I don't wholly enjoy/feel I can handle, or do I continue pursuing a path in an industry that is far less secure both in terms of immediate financial gain and in terms of a long term future (journalism)? I get more responses from editors these days, but it rarely leads to commissions due to budget problems :(
In terms of Good Stuff That's Happened Recently, I went on a short break to the Loire valley a couple of weekends ago with JM. Included in this weekend was the weirdest wine tasting ever of some of the world's nicest wine (think ancient old lady who insisted we used the spittoon) and one of the best meal experiences ever at this place - think amazing food, high quality wine and top notch views over the vines.
We're also off to England this coming weekend (the 12th) to take advantage of a free hotel room, see my parents, go for fireworks and fish and chips on the beach in Deal, and raid Waitrose's shelves. Novembering indeed :)
FOUR NAMES YOU GO BY: 1. Bianca 2. B 3. Miss Summons 4. Mrs Pellet
THREE THINGS YOU ARE WEARING RIGHT NOW:
1. striped navy and pink Oxford uni rugby shirt 2. short grey skirt 3. dark blue tights with white dots
THREE THINGS YOU WANT VERY BADLY AT THE MOMENT:
1. A pair of red trousers from River Island 2. For River Island customer services to stop being such wankholes 3. Dinner (and it's on its way, in the form of quail)
THREE THINGS YOU DID LAST NIGHT:
1. Watched some Mr Bean 2. Read some Proust 3. Ate tiramisu
THREE PEOPLE YOU LAST RANG UP:
1. Parents 2. The gynaecologist's office 3. River Island customer services
THREE THINGS YOU ARE GOING TO DO TOMORROW:
1. Go to work. 2. Get waxed 3. Practice driving theory
THREE OF YOUR FAVOURITE DRINKS:
1. Sauternes 2. Coffee from our coffee machine that grinds the beans for you 3. Diet Coke (even though I shouldn't, on the advice of the dentist and on the grounds that I am trying to avoid aspartame in all its forms)
THREE THINGS THAT MADE YOU SMILE TODAY:
1. My husband 2. Bill Bailey 3. Hearing the news that one of my friends had her baby at four minutes to seven this morning: welcome to the world, Florence Elizabeth Joly!
It's been an eventful month or so, or at least it certainly feels like it's been a busy one.
I was marking for Edexcel for the first part of the month, and I have now been paid for that work, even though I now need to write a snotty letter to the Inland Revenue to claim back the tax. It was an interesting experience, although maybe not one that I would wish to repeat (at least with Edexcel). Suffice it to say that it confirmed many of my suspicions.
Secondly, I went to England with JM for what was essentially our honeymoon, during possibly the rainiest week/month on record. It even pissed it down on our boat party/UK wedding reception day, which was a slight bummer, but at least if the French adage of a rainy wedding equalling a happy marriage is true, that means double happiness is coming our way. The party itself was good, though, although with hindsight I may have changed a few of the guests round for others who mean more to me. It didn't feel like four hours at all and just flew by. The cake was epically nice, the speeches were well-received, and I got to talk to everyone, which is probably about all you can wish for.
Our week started in Kent, though - we got the ferry from Calais and stayed in Dover for a couple of nights, using it as a base to explore Canterbury (which I had never been to, but enjoyed and would return to), Margate (my mum and dad's old honeymoon haunt - the hotel where they stayed back in 1979 is now spectacularly wacky), and Deal (where my grandparents used to live, and which subsequently has a load of fab memories attached). We also went to The Marquis At Alkham for an evening of gastronomic delight - would recommend!
JM then motored us to Maidenhead for the boat party, and after staying there for 2 nights with the inlaws, they went to Windsor for the day with my mother before heading back to France, while we headed to London for more fine dining and just generally pottering around. On Monday after lunch we headed to Exeter, although a massive crash on the M5 prevented us from getting there until about 6. Visiting campus the following day was a strange experience; the place is virtually unnavigable and unrecognisable thanks to the £225m efforts to turn the place into some sort of space age metropolis. I'm sure the facilities etc will be great once it's done, but it didn't feel wholly like my university anymore.
We also used Devon as a base to go to Darts Farm to pick up delicious local produce, wander around Exeter town centre, visit Teignmouth (would have been nicer sans rain) and see Torquay (MISTAKE. Have a feeling it's not what it was in Basil Fawlty's day). On Wednesday we went to Bath for the afternoon on the strength of an English breakfast before filling up on afternoon tea (literally the full works, with dinky sandwiches, Bath buns etc) at the Royal Crescent Hotel. OMG TEH NOMZ.
Thennnnn back to Maidenhead and then the following day back to Dover for the boat. JM did all the driving (I still have no licence...oh the shame) and he did spectacularly - especially considering it was his first time on UK roads.
To be honest, throughout this time I have been so busy looking forward to my trip (and then subsequently enjoying it) that I can't find I really care much about the phone hacking scandal, even though I know I probably should. My reaction was stronger to the Norway attacks yesterday and to Amy Winehouse's death today (I don't like her music, but feel sad for her that she wasn't better looked after by the music industry).
Since coming back from the UK we've mostly been cleaning and tidying as well as relaxing and catching up on past Top Gear episodes. Forget spring cleaning - the 8-week summer holiday is where it's at for me. Cue tidying the spice rack and cleaning out under the bed. FUNFUN.
I always swore I wouldn't become one of those annoying countdowny people who'd start counting days until their wedding...but I did :p The excitement of the thing is really just underestimable until it's yours, I suppose.
I wasn't at all nervous on the day - just happy and excited. JM felt the same. I was, in fact, too excited to even eat properly (no breakfast, and didn't finish any of the four courses of the wedding breakfast), which anyone who knows me knows is just about unheard of.
I'm assured there comes a time where you stop thinking about your wedding day every single day. I've now been married for about a month and it hasn't stopped yet. Of course in reality little has changed given that we had already lived together for two and a half years prior to the marriage...but I do find it pretty cool and satisfying to be able to say "my husband" rather than "my boyfriend" (where's the "boy"? He's nearly 30...! Although saying that, we are young by French standards to be marrying.) or "my partner" (blech. just blech).
Changing the name is a little bit of an administrative nightmare but is still moving about as quickly as I would have expected it to (i.e., not very). I've had more fuss made over me for this wedding than I ever could have expected in my entire life and have been overwhelmed by everyone's good wishes and happy thoughts - and the UK leg of the celebration has not even taken place yet (at which the much-anticipated wedding cake will finally be wheeled out).
The weather was grey and a little bit rainy but I think we got away with it; a few things went wrong, but they were tiny and we were able to laugh at them, rather than going into Bridezillas-style meltdown. In short, we loved every moment, and hope to continue loving each (or at least most) of the moments of our married life together.
As many of you know I am just a little bit obsessed with the internet and so have been a member of many online fora over the years (sorry, I just can't say forums...).
This hobby (if you will) has had MANY positive side effects, including but not limited to: - getting a chance to talk about things that you may never have thought of before - being able to indulge in extreme silliness - getting a chance to make friends with people you might not necessarily have thought of talking to before - seeing how the internet can be used for good instead of evil; making you believe in the kindness of total strangers
And, in the friends category, I must not forget to include my fiancé: I never would have met him without xnet and I'm sure my life today would be very different if I had not.
However, my interaction in these online fora has become increasingly negative over the years due to my beliefs conflicting with those of others. It always seems to be when I am trying hardest not to offend someone (I know that sometimes my opinions can be a little hardline) that I seem to really piss them off the most, and it seems to happen more and more these days, even when I have moved on from fora that are no longer relevant to me (e.g. The Student Room) to those that may carry greater relevance (e.g. TES, MoneySavingExpert).
On the one hand this is understandable; as mentioned, I know that I have been raised within a set of fairly old-fashioned and Conservative values (which I still happen to agree with, for the most part, but which can sometimes seem shocking, alien or unacceptable to others), and know that I am therefore quite likely to come into conflict with others as a result. However, it makes me wonder why people bother to participate in such fora when they get themselves into such a tizzy over disagreeing with someone. If everyone agreed it wouldn't be much of a forum!
The difficulty comes in deciding what to do about this. In the context of an individual discussion: respond to others' criticisms of your beliefs, knowing that they will likely still shoot you down no matter what you say, or just walk away from it knowing that they will have had the last word (but that you will also probably feel better for not wasting your time over what are ultimately just words on a screen, even if they are angry ones)? In a more general context part of me thinks I just ought to stop using online fora altogether; it is surprising how often and to such an extent perfect strangers can get you riled up and the reality is that I am probably/possibly past the time of my life where making new friends online that I am actually likely to be able to meet up with/that are potentially real life friends is now past.
So...views? Do you feel that these places carry more positives than negatives, or that they cause more problems than they solve?
The book I'm currently reading: Proust's In Search of Lost Time (now on volume 4). In terms of 'lighter' reading I've just finished Falling Man (Don DeLillo) and A Kestrel For A Knave (Barry Hines).
The book I'm currently writing: None at the moment, though I edited my third novel (which is as yet untitled), which was written as part of NaNoWriMo, during some February train journeys. It's about multiple characters and their journey as or alongside the character of Ariel in The Tempest; any suggestions for a title would be gratefully received.
The book I love most: Gone With The Wind, possibly. It is just so rich in imagery and character and plot that I don't think I will ever tire of it.
The last book I received as a gift: I received several books for Christmas, but the one to first come to mind is Eoin Colfer's And Another Thing, which is a most satisfying sixth instalment of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series. Worth reading not only for its plot but also for its faithfulness to the series' original style.
The last book I gave as a gift: I gave two, actually, to JM at the same time, just because I was feeling nice - one is called A Pike In The Basement, by Simon Loftus, and is a food and travel book, and the other is called White Wines of Burgundy, and is by Jasper Morris. These purchases were fairly recent (within the past couple of weeks).
The nearest book on my desk: actually the two mentioned above, as I am doing this downstairs and all of my books are upstairs. The books upstairs by my bed are Le Spleen de Paris, by Charles Baudelaire, and The Rest is Noise, by Alex Ross.
CENSUS MEME: 2011: I actually feel a bit left out now that all my friends are filling in census forms and I have moved country and so don't have one to fill in, hehe. 2001: I was nearly fifteen years old and living at home with my parents and sister in Maidenhead. Attended Newlands Girls' School; was taking GCSEs in the standard subjects plus French, History, Food Tech, and Drama. Some fun times and some not so fun times there. 1991: At nearly five years old I suppose I would have been on the cusp of starting at Oldfield Primary School, just around the corner from my house in Maidenhead (same one as mentioned above), with parents and baby sister. I was a compulsive reader and not a lot else.
Programmes like The Big Fat Truth About Low Fat Foods really annoy me because they are so flawed. Surely it should be obvious that going onto a "low fat" diet of diet ready-meals and snacks is going to make you feel worse than going onto a proper low-fat diet with lots of fruit and veg? And surely if you ever read the news you would know that Special K and Vitamin Water are actually quite high in sugar and have been rapped on the knuckles on several occasions for misrepresenting the health potential of their foods (and therefore you should avoid them like the plague)?! Grrr. Don't even know why I am still watching it, hehe.