Mastered!

So you remember that dissertation that was kicking my butt a few months back? Well it turns out it was I who did the butt kicking! Yes, I was delighted to learn a couple of weeks ago that  I earned an “A” on the most important thing I have written to date. The piece was a work of non-fiction which provided a glimpse into the tumultuous time in my life when my newborn son fought valiently for his life and the gamut of emotions during that period. And now, he is 7 years old, an absolute joy, with a cluster of special needs ranging from hemiplegia (a form of cerebral palsy), speech delay, learning delay, and the odd seizure — but he is still here, still my shining star. He defied all the odds and provided the inspiration for me to master this Masters!

As you can imagine, a whole lot of tears and sleepless nights went into this degree and receiving such a great grade certainly made the journey worth it. Two days ago, the university officially awarded me my Master of Arts in Creative and Cultural Industries. I am beyond proud!

Next up, graduation on 18th September — what fun to wear that cap and gown one more time!

And no, I won’t stop here. There is indeed a Ph.D. on the horizon….  🙂

I am not dead…

I have been on holiday. Ok, not really.

As much as I wish I could tell you that I have been on a sandy beach somewhere, soaking up UV rays and sipping on something fruity and very alcoholic, alas, tis not so.

In its final weeks, my MA dissertation soundly kicked my butt. I exerted every last ounce of mental, emotional, and physical energy into writing 20,000 words of the most important story I have ever told. Two bouts of bronchitis, one UTI, and a semi mental breakdown later, and I think (fingers crossed) I am finally on the mend. I have been celebrating by sleeping. Move over Rip van Winkle…

Now it’s time to pick myself back up, dust myself off, and get cracking on bright new things ahead. Coming up in the next few weeks is Zoie’s 2nd birthday and party and I have been busy planning away excitedly. I am also on the hunt for some work experience (better put this MA to some use right?) and I have grand plans for this blog as well!

Fun times ahead! So I’m back, and I really hope I can stay this time. 🙂

Me, mad? Never!

This morning a close friend said to me “you always seem angry” (or unhappy, or something of the sort, I can’t remember verbatim) and I remember feeling completely gobsmacked. A plethora of choice retorts instantly sprang to mind, none of them I can repeat here in this post… (maybe he had a point? Haha) My second reaction was one of defense. Who is at their best at 9am? I sure as hell am not, especially when the only place I want to be is back in my warm bed and not trudging up the hill toward my house, post school run.

My third reaction? Tears.

I felt wounded and, as the upset subsided, I sort of saw his point. I am a little stressed out these days. Ok, A LOT stressed out. Between trying to be supermom (school runs, parent/teacher meetings, morning assemblies, playgroups) and superstudent (yeah, that dissertation isn’t gonna write itself), I seem to have lost myself along the way. And somehow my sadness and stress has painted me as some kind of mad black woman. That isn’t to say I’m not trying. I really am trying to relax and have fun when I can.

These days I’m actually wearing a bit of makeup, buying cute things for my hair, and picking up the odd Glamour magazine. Last week I bought the most fabulous pair of electric blue suede high heels. That would cheer anyone up, hehe.

I think as moms we really can never underestimate the importance of “ME” time. Without it, it’s really easy to slip away into maternal oblivion.  Next on my agenda is a girlie weekend, methinks.

Anything to avoid being “that angry girl”. And if my friend says that again, I might punch him.

Gently. 🙂

Critical theory, political economy, and Marxism, oh my!

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post but it made me laugh when all I want to do is pull my hair out...

 

“What does a ‘political economy’ approach to study of the Creative and Cultural Industries involve?  What are its advantages and disadvantages?”   (word limit: 5,000)

What, I ask you, did I do to deserve such punishment? Political what now? I’m not even sure if I am reading English, though it is far better than one of the alternatives:  “What is cultural hegemony?  Is it ubiquitous and insurmountable?” Huh?

I’ll tell you what is insurmountable — this essay! I am up to my eyeballs in textbooks grappling with the delicate issues of critical theory and analysis in relation to the cultural industries, economies, and all sorts a fancy crap that is going way over my little writer’s head. I write stories. I try to avoid politics and complicated theoretical stuff at all costs. Sigh.

When I was in high school I loved the sciences. I adored balancing chemical equations and had a perverse affinity for the Periodic Table. I could tell you all about the process of osmosis and enjoyed rolling “deoxyribonucleic acid” off my tongue. Science I can handle. English Literature I can handle. Heck, I’m not even too bad at math…

But this? Ideological hocus pocus? It surpasses me. Just… can’t… get it.

And it isn’t for lack of trying — I keep reading and reading and the more I read, the dumber I feel! Lol. It is truly a cruel joke.

So I’ve emailed the tutor for a desperate sit down session so that I can somehow grasp these utterly foreign concepts. I have a deadline on the 23rd and all I have so far is a stark blank Word document and a splitting headache.

Anyone out there in cyberworld have a clue about any of this?? Honestly, I can’t be the only one mystified by this… can I?

I Write at 2am

My internal clock is out of whack. Since the holidays, the sun has begun to rise and the birds have commenced their incessant chirping before my tired head has even hit the pillow. Even then I only sleep due to sheer exhaustion. In the daytime I rise reluctantly and zombie-like from fitful 4-hour slumbers… I must find a better way.

These past few days my feelings have been flitting between inner turmoil, quiet contentment, resignation, mild despair, acceptance, resentment, confusion, motivation, lack of motivation, excitement, disappointment, and generally feeling like crap. There must be a pill to fix that.

But the main thread of my tumultuous thinking is that I am feeling the squeeze of time. Counting down the days when I have to return to the “real” world and my life as a working mother. There is so much yet that I want to accomplish. So much to do, so little time…

I’ll admit it — I love being a stay at home mom. I relish the chance to spend as much quality time as I can with my kids. But reality has been slowly sinking in that soon I will have to return to the rat race once I finish this MA. There REALLY has to be a better way.

My goal for 2012 is to somehow crack the elusive work-life balance for my family. I have a slew of plans bouncing around in my head — little plots of how to take over the world  combine being a mom and having a career I absolutely love (because life is too short to do something you hate just for the money).

I suppose the next step will be to implement my strategies on how to achieve my goals. So much easier said than done.

In the meantime, I guess I better grab some sleep before the damn birds start up again.

I write, therefore I am?

What began as a perfectly reasonable day ended in me threatening to cry into my borrowed raspberry vodka cocktail.

I can’t quite put my finger on the point where it all began to unravel, but I think it was somewhere between watching Inua Ellams recite his poetry in my Publishing class and mock bidding for art’s festival funding in my Creative Professional Development class.

On the train home the tears sprung up. A seven hour stretch in class will do that to you. I suppose it didn’t help that I was also listening to a bit of Ed Sheeran on the Tube.

I suddenly became rather melancholy and morose. It was one of those uncomfortable moments when you begin swimming in sadness and are not quite sure why.

Fatigue? Frustration? What was it that ailed me? I still don’t know.

I just recall that the weight of the world slammed squarely onto my shoulders whilst I sat in Metro bar with my friends after class. I stirred up the plump raspberries that floated in the fizz of my drink and thought, what exactly am I doing here?

I am lonely and homesick and without two of the most important men in my life – my husband and son. The sacrifices of this MA get bigger every day. It’s been 10 months and 4 days since I last gave my little boy a cuddle or a goodnight kiss.

I push myself onward with blind reassurance – it will be worth it, completely, in the end.

In the meantime I struggle with feelings of guilt and fear and worry all wrapped neatly into a bitter package. I try to convince myself that I’ve done the right thing. For everyone. In the long run.

But it wasn’t just my guilt that made me abandon my drink and my half eaten bag of cheese and onion crisps. It was something else. Something bigger than me, that dragged me down with hooks of despair.

It was the writing.

I have never been so fully immersed in my craft and it is taking on a life of its own, morphing into something I didn’t know it could be. In the midst of tears that threatened to spill as the train zipped me home, I had  a very small epiphany that I think had been there all along; yet I had been ignoring it.  I want to keep writing and not just as a hobby.

How this realisation caused me to arrive at a mini meltdown I can’t understand but maybe it was the gravity of the acceptance. Finally admitting to myself that what I really want to do with my life is the thing I both love and fear the most.

Under the weather

Emilie caught a cold. So she gave it to Zoie. Who then gave it to me. When I taught my kids about sharing, this isn’t what I meant.

Now my house is filled with a chorus of coughs. A symphony of sniffles. A frenzy of fevers.

The past two nights I’ve spent lying in bed with a hot, stuffy, sticky toddler on my chest. Dead weight crushing my lungs, pinching my bladder. The slightest movement on my part setting off ear-splitting screeches as she protested my right to breathe, swallow, think. I had a wedgie I couldn’t resolve for 3 hours. This, is the definition of self-sacrifice.

And  in between these fretful nights, I sat in class. My longest was a 6 hour stretch. Slumped in my seat. Straining my brain to focus on contemporary art, the film industry, Italo Calvino, huh? I subsisted solely on vending machine fare scavenged from the uni cafeteria during 15 minute breaks. Paprika flavored corn crisps, blueberry fruit bites, and frosty cold Dr. Pepper.  Wholesome delicacies.

Dinner came in the form of a tub of chicken yakisoba, slurped greedily on the 21.43 Southwest train service to Alton. Heartburn was par for the course. And when I lumbered into the house minutes shy of 23.00, my real work began. Shrugging off my coat and scarf, hurriedly taking a minute to pee. There were medicines to be administered, little people to soothe. The shower, she is a luxury.

And to ice the cake, is my own sore throat. A bitter, grating, I’ve-swallowed-razor-blades type sensation. Thankfully it has eased somewhat. Somewhat.

At the insistence of my mother (what would we do without them?) I took Emilie to the GP today to investigate the contagion cough. I sat on a squeaky plastic chair and prattled off a list of symptoms to a slightly flustered lady doctor with a flame orange bob and a pronounced mole on her chin.  She’ll never need to dress up on Halloween, I thought. One of those thoughts you have in a split second before filing it away to the back of your mind with the rest of the Thoughts You Can’t Believe You Had — like when you wondered what it would be like to make-out with one of the Hanson brothers…

So the doctor did the ear thing, the throat thing, the temperature thing, the take deep breaths thing. Asked about allergies and aversions. Thought for a moment. Consulted a book. Consulted her computer screen. Had another go with the deep breaths, removed stethoscope, inclined her head and concluded “chest infection” in a decidedly triumphant tone. She returned to her computer and tapped at the keys noisily.

“One spoonful, 3 times a day. And 2 puffs if she’s wheezing.”

That’s all well and good — spoons and puffs. But a little honey and lime and sunshine never killed anyone. The drab weather is the culprit, I’m sure of it. Me and the kids need to be on a beach somewhere. Soaking up some UV love. Could she use that fancy pad of hers to prescribe us some plane tickets home? We are island girls after all.

“It’s going around,” says the doc.

Doesn’t it always?

I gave a wan smile and thanked her. Downstairs I gathered up my sniffling, snotty offspring and we set off toward the high street pharmacy dreaming of palm trees, parrots, and pina coladas.

Hopes, dreams, and what?

I'm the gal on the right.

Last week’s assignment for Creative Development was to write 500 words on the  “hopes, aspirations, and goals for your career.”

Hmmm.

This would be an easy task provided I actually knew what they were.

Hopes? I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because I have a mountain of laundry to hang outside.

Aspirations? I aspire to make it through the next week on a minimal grocery budget.

Goals? My goal is to go through life with my sanity intact.

But seriously, (or perhaps I was being serious?) I’ve never really sat down and thought about it. I mean really thought about it. In the context of, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Because 28 is hardly grown up. Trust me.

What I really want out of a career is lots of money fulfillment. I want to do something that I enjoy. Something that I am good at. Something flexible. Something fun. And of course it goes without saying that the pay should be better than decent. But. I just don’t know what that is. Yet.

I set out to do this MA as a way to discover myself. Nevermind that I have been discovering myself since my first day of university 11 years ago! Who starts out studying Pre-Med and then switches to Creative Writing? It seems I have been indecisive since day 1, no?

Well what is it that I’m good at? Let’s make a list. Lists are fun.

  1. Writing stuff, all kinds of stuff
  2. Planning parties
  3. Decorating
  4. Editing other people’s writing
  5. Crafty things
  6. Procrastinating (honestly, that pic at the top sums up my life)

Anyone know of a career that combines some or all of the above? Drop me a line if you do.

My life assignment depends on it…