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It’s the obligatory graduation post! October 6, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Degrees, Graduation, OU, Uncategorized.

So graduation day finally rolled around on Friday after a stressful couple of days preparation – making sure we all had smart clothes to wear, making sure everything was printed out that I’d need on the day, sorting out the train tickets, calling the train station to arrange for the ramp/assistance to get on the train, and generally just having panic attacks about public transport. After all, it was my first trip on a train since being in the wheelchair, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Having said that, I’d do a train journey again. The people at both stations were fabulous, which made my fears about travelling disappear.

Arriving at Bridgewater Hall was so exciting! There were people milling around in their gowns, their proud friends and families strutting like peacocks behind them (Kirst and me graduationor looking like they were going to get up to some mischief). Getting into the hall, we careened through the tide of graduates towards the gowning area. Collecting my gown, I was ushered through to a lady who helped with robing and bobby-pinning the hood to the gown – and my hair! Youch! Mummy and Niamhie graduationBut my little Princi Munchkin was very proud of me, once I was all ceremonially-garbed up. Feeling more and more like a graduate, I realised that I had forgotten to book in at the registration tables. I must’ve pulled the crazy ‘aaaarrrrgggghhh’ face in my desperation to locate the tables, but thankfully I quickly spied where they were and navigated Dad, my designated driver, towards them. Good job too, because it was here I received my seating tickets, introduction card and complimentary drinks tickets.

Then I arrived at the most important part of the day – finally meeting my friend Ali squared graduation 1Nexie, my online study buddy and crazy conversationalist partner for the last five years. I think I nearly ruined my make-up, I got so teary-eyed! I have to say, going across the stage for the degree conferment was amazing, but meeting Nex made my day. Distance learning can be so isolating, so it made it that much more special to have someone there who had shared the experience with you. We both understood how much we had put into our studies, the outside struggles and stresses we had endured throughout the time we were studying, and the good times, devastations, and late-night panic sessions around TMA and results time. I just wish I had been able to see her cross the stage for her presentation, but I was waiting backstage after taking a roller-coaster tour of the building after my own presentation (all the wheelchair accessible ramps are backstage). I did clap as loud I as could, though!

All in all, graduation day was brilliant! I am glad that Nex and my cousin K spent hours talking me into going, and that I was able to share the day with both of them. I was also glad that Princi’s school allowed her the afternoon off school so she could be with me too – despite her antics ruining a lot of photos, as she held leaves or rabbit-ear fingers above my head! crown of leaves graduationleaf face graduation But the biggest, serendipitous giggle happened during the outdoor photographs at the end of the ceremony with the arrival of this van. It was just perfect after being awarded with a First-class Honours degree (please excuse the badly cropped together image!): Smart Alex

That’s the way, aha aha, I like it! July 26, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Degrees, E301, ECA, Holy heck my head's exploding!, hospital, OU.


Yay! I did it! I got the first-class honours! I am so chuffed, the mintball train is positively chugging out the mintballs.

So the results for E301 came in. I was dreading this day, because it meant my OU experience was all but over (I still have my graduation ceremony to come). But I felt no dread staring at the nice red letters declaring I had a pass 2 for E301. It was only relief and jubilation.

How in the world did I manage 90% on the EMA?

How in the world did I manage 90% on the EMA?

Firstly, relief I had passed the EMA (the OES score). Then jubilation that I had somehow written something that was worth 90%. How in hell? Unbelievable! Thirdly, what was the point in applying the substitution when no matter what way you looked at it  – without substitution 79.35%, with substitution 79.45%, rounded down for the actual OCAS 79% – it wasn’t going to affect my result. I don’t know. Pointless maths at its most pointless. But whatever – I HAD PASSED! Joy of joys.

And that was just the topping on the cake of joy, which I had gratefully been chomping since yesterday. The first slice of joy appeared in the form of an email. This email contained my holy grail: a conditional offer of acceptance into the Children’s Literature MA at Roehampton University. *Snoopy dance* Now I have the first-class honours, this is a done deal. Can you see that super bright beam of light? No, it’s not a light sabre, that’s me in my happy. Yay! However, my happy also contains elements of gut-wrenching fear after seeing the reading lists for the modules. Yikes! Here’s hoping I can actually do this. I am so worried I am going to botch it all up.

The second slice of joy came at a hospital appointment. I had gone to meet with a surgeon about an operation to remove my gall bladder. Over the last few years I have been suffering with crippling, painful gallstone attacks. But thanks to Niamhie forcing our Lent promise, I have managed to change my diet quite drastically, meaning I haven’t had an attack since April. Once I had told the surgeon this he proposed that if I continued for the next couple of months without another attack then the operation could be deferred. Yay! I was petrified of this operation, as the meeting with the anaesthetist raised fears of being on a ventilator for the rest of my life due to the affects the muscle relaxant would have in combination with the muscular dystrophy. Now the possibility of not needing the operation is there, it’s made me more determined to keep up with the improved diet and not fall back into bad eating habits. Woohoo!

So there is my happy slice of cakey life as of today. I was aiming for 2:1 degree, but I think I overshot a little *squeeee*. Here, have some mintballs!

Doin’ a l’il dance… May 30, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Degrees, E301, EMA, Essay written, OU, The end of E301.

I have done it! Done, done, done it! I have completed and submitted the last 3,000 word essay for my degree. I’ve probably put on a stone in chocolate, but hell yeah! I’ve done it!

So, the stupidity thing didn’t go well. I was stupid to think it could work. 1,500 words into the demon essay, and the evil cur Writer’s Block attacked. I sank into linguistic despair. The more I struggled to write, the more the quicksand sucked me down. So I ditched the dead weight, and began writing an analysis on my second choice texts: a Facebook conversation written in the pseudo-voice of William Wordsworth and ‘The Tyger’ by William Blake. The quicksand spat me out quick-sharpish.


It has still taken almost a week to write the bugger, but once I made the switch I could breathe again. It was hard going for a while, but the last 1,000-1,500 words seemed to fly by. Okay, it was more than that as I had to go back and cut stuff out because I went over the word count. But today I finally reached the ‘yippee ki yay’ status of the essay. Yippee ki yay!


So that is my degree completed. Five and a half long years of toil. *Fingers crossed* that I pass the course now. The only problem now is, I feel like I’m dangling over the edge of an abyss, wondering where I am going next…

Deep in the realm of stupidity… May 16, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in E301, ECA, OU, Stupidity, The end of E301, writing.
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At the moment, I’m not sure if that stupidity is mine or if it’s simply the subject of my essay. Yes, I’m in the throes of panic as I prepare this final essay. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going or stuck in a Limbo of my own making, but holy heck! My brain is numb. So this is a good a time as ever to share my stages of essay writing. It’s a tried and tested method, with a pretty much spectacular success rate. Let’s hope it holds true for the stupid one.


Stages in the process of writing an essay.

  1.  Easy peasy. Hakuna matata.
  2. Hmm, this is starting to look a bit tricksy.
  3. Okay, this may just be impossible.
  4. Nothing’s impossible, I can do this.
  5. Argh! I’m in Dante’s nine circles of hell!
  6. Holy crap! When did they add this extra circle?
  7. There’s a light (over at the Frankenstein place).
  8. Okay, maybe this is doable.
  9. They got the mustard out! Yippee ki yay motherf****r!


And on that note, I best get back to it. Only another 2,810 words to go…

And it all comes down to this… May 9, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Degrees, E301, EMA, OU, Tempus fujit stupidus, The end of E301, TMA06.
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So. Today, I sent in my final ever TMA. ‘Reading is a creative act, just as writing is. Discuss.’


Well. Discuss, I am sure, I did not! It was honestly the worst essay I have ever written. I actually cringed when I pressed the submit button. Because submit is exactly what I did. I gave up. I could not mentally organise the reading to work out what I was trying to say. I didn’t argue, I simply burnt out and went fully with the opinion that reading is a creative act. I offered absolutely no counter argument, like I know I should have.


I have one saving grace in this mess of an essay. No matter what mark it receives, it’s not going to affect the overall grade of the module so far. The only thing that could bugger up the pass 2 I am on course for is the result for the EMA. Another 3,000 words of stress, set to begin next Monday. I just feel as though I have sold myself short by not producing something worthwhile for this last essay. Stupid, stupid me.


And talking of stupid, that is the subject for the EMA. I’ve had to choose two texts to analyse – one an ‘every day’ text, the other a ‘literary’ text. For the every day text I am using a Facebook conversation that plays on the word stupid in a few different ways. For the literary, I have chosen excerpts from a philosophical treatise, A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity, by Walter B. Pitkin. I am quite looking forward to writing this one, because both the texts make me laugh. And that is always a good thing.


3,000 words and one month stands between me and freedom. Passing this module stands between me and a First Class Honours degree. Five and a half long years of study have come down to this. And I can hardly believe I am nearly at the finishing line.


So time to get writing. Tempus fujit, stupidus!

Plodding on. March 31, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in E301, Give up but don't give up, Holy heck my head's exploding!, OU, The Principessa Files, TMA05.
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Urgh! TMA05 kicked my bum! That was one evil essay, being almost double the length and double-weighted in terms of how it affects the overall course result. I reckon I’ve botched it, but don’t I always? But this time, I truly believe it. Only time (and cliches) will tell…


So the last few months have been about sticking with things, for Princi and for me. Princi insisted that we give something up for Lent, so we agreed that crisps and fast food would be it. There were a few tantrums from Princi when she moaned about wanting to quit, but she stuck with it, making yesterday’s crisps and fast food day worth it for her – and Tazcat, who happily shared a packet of salt and vinegar crisps with her. For me, the whole experience was about breaking out of a habit. I was forever falling for the quick option and eating far too many crisps and the once a week fast food habit was doing me no good. My moment of yay-ness appeared on Tuesday night when I stood on the scales for the first time in six weeks and discovered I’d lost a stone. Woohoo! I’ve sworn off the crisps and fast food for good now that the habit is broken. Next habit to conquer – chocolate!


Princi has also had to deal with finishing a term of after-school gymnastics. She got to the point where she wanted to quit that too, but I’ve told her that once she makes a decision to do something, she must stick with it until it’s completed. It’s advice I’ve had to take, as I so have wanted to quit this damned OU course. It doesn’t seem to make much sense to me, but I’m struggling on with it as it’s my last course to complete the degree. I’m quite proud of my stubbornness not to quit, to tell the truth. And just to prove I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve started filling out the application for the children’s lit MA. I might as well take a running jump at it. *Fingers crossed* I will get onto the course and spend another three years panicking about essay results!


And that is that. I’m off to give the dog a cuddle before Princi gets back from her trip with Uncle Gaz. They’ve gone to the museum to see the animatronic dinosaurs and to have lunch at Yo! Sushi, as Princi has decided that avocado sushi is her new favourite food.



It’s been ages… February 20, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in E301, General rubbish, OU, reading, Reading with Principessa, The Principessa Files, TMA05.

Neglectful of the blog? Moi? Yes, I admit it. The evidence stands up for itself, really. But, you know. Life.

Traversing the wall.

Traversing the wall.

The last month has been doctor’s visits followed by hospital appointments, followed by unrelated hospital appointments and joining a gym, only for the gym to be neglected due to being knackered from all the hospital appointments. And then interwoven through this is the constant read/write routine for the OU studies, the read/write with Princi for her reading diary, and the read/write of permission slips for school clubs and activities. I’m kind of thankful that it’s half term right now, and thankful for Uncle Gaz and Grandand, as they have been taking Princi rock climbing and swimming (she had her first ever taste of swimming today).

Engrossed... Or maybe just sleeping.

Engrossed… Or maybe just sleeping.

The studying. Princi is doing fabulously. I finally made some snarky remark in Princi’s reading diary about the rubbish books that she was being forced to read, books that were at the level she was reading three years ago, and the teacher finally gave her a book that was more her level. It’s driving me up the wall, this school lark. Princi is so bored because they keep repeating the same things over and over – I mean, she’s still being sent home with maths homework that asks her to add and subtract in twos. When she gets given something new and challenging to do while in school she thrives, yet this seems to piddle off the teacher no end because she can’t keep up with Princi, as Princi forces the teacher to have to provide her with harder and harder questions because she rattles off the work so fast. Two years ago I wouldn’t have needed to complain, as the teacher she had then was so happy to have a kid who wanted to learn that she wanted to challenge her. The teacher that she has now doesn’t really want to be bothered. It really irks me something chronic. So during the half term Princi and I have been working on her comprehension and times tables. And just as an example, Princi started rattling off the twelve times table the other night out of nowhere, something I nor the school (who now only teach up to the ten times table) have not gone through with her, as she’s finally understood how to work the patterns. She really does make me proud every day!



As for me… Well. I think I may need some rubber wall paper soon. I am just not getting this course at all! Don’t get me wrong, my essay results have been good – not distinctly good, just good – but I don’t feel like I’m retaining or even understanding anything! Despite my fascination with words it seems that linguistics is not for me. I would definitely rather play with them than study them. Still. Only three more essays to write, at the grand total of 8,500 words, and my studying with the OU is complete. I can hardly believe that I’m almost done. I really am going to miss it. But as it is, I should be getting back to the reading for TMA05. I just have to choose an excerpt of narrative fiction now so that I can fully prepare for the essay. I’m currently deciding between an excerpt from Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, or The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. If only I could find my copy of Spares by Michael Marshall Smith, I think my decision might have been made already!

Pheweee! November 6, 2012

Posted by phoenixaeon in Animals, Dogs, E301, Kaya, OU, Proud Mummy, The Principessa Files, TMA01.
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Yay! My result has been returned for the E301 essay I submitted the other week and I am pleased to say I am chuffed with it. I would have been chuffed with 40%, simply because I don’t think I understand the course yet, but I cashed in the bonus. I tumbled my way to 78%! Well happy with that! And even more happy that I have also been given some good feedback to bumble my way into the next essay. Yay! But one thing that pleases me more than that – I am so glad I have a tutor for E301 who doesn’t take two weeks to mark assignments. The last few courses have been horrible for extending the torture of self-doubt and the unknown. So I am doing a little dance for the one week turnaround for this essay.

And I am not the only one pleased with my achievements this week. Princi was awarded a merit ribbon and the coveted class silver cushion on Monday.

Merit Girl! She’s totally awesome!

She was awarded the merit ribbon for, in her words, ‘a fascinating explanation of hieroglyphics in Ancient Egypt. And for using the word ballistic.’ I am a very, very proud Mummy this week.

Kaya is also going to school – she started puppy training two weeks ago. However, while she is doing well there, she isn’t here. She still won’t do her business outside and she has a horrible habit of jumping and nipping at Princi. I am hoping we can work that behaviour out of her soon, as she is getting very big now. She no longer looks like a puppy, she’s all legs, nose and ears. And teeth and claws. And destructo-monster-dog! I am hoping the giant ham-bone she has been given will keep her from destroying plates, toilet rolls, pillows and whatever else she can get her teeth into for at least three days. Fingers crossed!

How she’s changed: Kaya from the first week she was here to now. She is twice as big as she was when she first arrived.

And with that picture, it’s time for me to toddle off and get back to reading and studying. Oh, the joy!

Flibble, flibble, flibble. October 24, 2012

Posted by phoenixaeon in E301, OU, Principessa, TMA01.

That is the state of my brain right now. Flibbling. Like a flibbly thing. As you might guess, I’m not handling the new course very well. It is, for want of a better word, a headwreck. I really was not expecting it to be so painstakingly difficult.


You know, there is a lot to be said about having a little bit of prior interest in something to stoke the spark. I had it with the kidlit course; the first essay could be about Harry Potter/Northern Lights or fairy tales. Nice, familiar territory. That eased me into the course whilst allowing me to get to grips with new terminology and critical readings. Big thumbs up. I had it with the mythology course; the first essay was on a single character from Greek mythology. Eased into the course with a narrow focus, allowing me to get to grips with a new way of studying and essay writing conventions. Big thumbs up. But with this course? An English language course – a language I speak without thinking (most of the time, anyway) everyday?



It’s like a bloody alien language! And creativity? In English? If it’s been done before then this means it’s creative? Seems back to front to me. I seriously need a playdough brain, just to remould everything I ever knew. I now know that my brain is no longer owl-shaped, rather a flibbling mass of empty nothingness. All I know is that I don’t know nothing. In fact, the level of disorganisation in my head is tantamount to the disorganisation of stuff under Princi’s bed, and considering that her bed is a futon and this is only half of the stuff…

She has taken the art of TARDIS to new levels!


So, this is why it’s taken me two weeks of crying, and reading, and crying, and typing just to write the first essay. It has been the hardest essay I’ve ever had to write. And I know that I go into panic mode at essay time, but all the other times I had at least an inkling that I was understanding what I was reading. No such luck here. I may have encountered some familiar theorists along the way, but for the sheer density of the information being tattooed on my mind in water-soluble crayons, even this little bit of familiarity didn’t help. And this is why I will be happy just to pass this first essay. 40%. That is all I ask. Because I still haven’t got to grips with what was being asked in the essay. I am just hoping that the course clicks for me before the next essay, as I really don’t want to go through this brain-ache again!


Oh, and on the subject of crayons, I really want to write a story with a character called Crayola Jones after misreading the name Carolyn the other day. I have no idea why it morphed into Crayola, but I quite like it! And one last thing, a thing to raise a giggle, it’s interesting to see what ends up on my phone when Princi uses it to keep herself occupied:

The eyes have it!

A shot rang out. September 23, 2012

Posted by phoenixaeon in Birthdays, E301, Kaya, OU, Poetry, The Principessa Files, Titian poem.
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Not really. Although it’s almost like a shot, as I’ve not posted in ages. I suppose I should try to post more often, but that ‘what should I post?’ demon has appeared again. Sigh.

Well, nowt much has been going on since my ‘distinction, yay!’ post. And oh. My. God. How crap is this entry reading so far? I might as well do a shopping list of what’s happened…

  • Writing. Not really done much, despite the fire being stoked after reading Dadwhowrites‘ novel (which I loved and I can’t wait to read the sequel[s?]). But here are the two Twitter poems I tapped out for the National Gallery‘s #titianpoem competition.

Poem based on the Diana and Actaeon painting. Retracted due to using ‘bollocks’!

Second poem based on the Diana and Callisto painting. Heavy on alliteration and (at the time) unintended end rhymes. Submitted as competition entry.

  • Beginning of E301. Yep, my final Open Uni course is on the go. I am petrified! It’s a level 3 English language course – and me being me didn’t do the level 2, so there is a ton of new terminology, and a smattering of stuff I stumbled across whilst doing the literature and mythology courses. Fingers crossed I don’t hurt my noggin too much, as I can see a crash course in sociolinguistics upsiding me across the back of the head!

The next nine months of my life… Apt, considering writing these essays is almost as painful as giving birth!

  • My little Munchkin turned 8!

Blowing out the candles (and making the modern art version of a Storm Trooper helmet with sausages and napkins).

  • Kaya. We added a new member to the family. She would be the bitey, snappy, poop machine member! But, when she is good she is very, very good, and also so very cute that she might be evil!

The woofer.

And that’s that, my boring update post. I shall now go and bury my head in the granular multiverse of sand and the whispering silence of lost lexicology.