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And we’re off – in a strange dream time machine… August 29, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Dreams, MA.
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booksI have finally started the reading for the MA – well, when I say finally, I have been doing dribs and drabs for the past couple of weeks, reading books like Eva by Peter Dickinson (very interesting, and though not a Carnegie winner, it made me think about similar themes in recent winners by Neil Gaiman and Siobhan Dowd) and The Mouse and his Child by Russell Hoban. However, over the last couple of days I’ve cracked open the theory books. In particular, that one just up there, Beginning Theory. This has meant that I have re-entered the crash zone for theories such as human liberalism (needs a re-read) and structuralism (which I’m surprised at how much I’ve already covered and sort of understand). It has also resulted in my brain trying to find a way to sift through this information and therefore providing me with some very strange dreams… *Scooby Doo wavy cut screen*

I was house-hunting with my family when we stumbled across this new ‘community’ housing project, where the houses were all built one on top of the other, like some strange house of cards deal (or like this). We find one on the very top level that seems perfect, so we buy it there and then. Now, in this house there’s this strange storeroom that has windows on all four sides, something that made me dream-think ‘That’s a bit crap, security-wise.’ Anyway, there’s four bedrooms on the upper level – something else that I thought was impractical, as I wouldn’t be able to get the wheelchair up there (despite the fact that I was happily walking around this house!) – and the bedroom that I would have has this super-skinny doorway that even Princi would have struggled to get through. I finally squeeze through into a bedroom which is strangely huge but tiny at the same time. It’s all fully furnished, but I’m saying to my Dad that it’d be no good for us, because the wheelchair would never fit through the doorway, and besides, there’s a weird camber to the room making it completely wonky. Then I see this blue wardrobe, which suddenly falls over. I realise it’s not a wardrobe, but a life-size TARDIS. It’s also not made of wood, but from ceramic, as it cracks across the top when it hits the opposite wall. I get flashes of Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor when I touch it, then notice this props label stuck beneath the Police Public Call Box sign. It has a name (which I can’t remember) and the number 1701-I next to it. This makes me geekle (cross between geek and giggle) because of the obvious Star Trek connection and making me wonder since when did the TARDIS become the I incarnation of the Enterprise, but I’m still thinking that even with the TARDIS, we couldn’t really live there – and I couldn’t even sneak it out because of the stupid skinny doorway, and I hadn’t noticed a window…

And that was that. So brain, thank you for your weirdness in incorporating the Structuralist paradigmatic chain of space ships and time-travelling boxes into my dreams. And thank you for making me dream about houses after learning about paradigmatic chains through the word hut, and placing the dream-me into a strange structural and architectural nightmare! And thank you for giving me something to think about all day today, therefore making me not study at all!

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.
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Woohoo!

Woohoo!

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.
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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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*Sob*

 

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.

 

 

Building hats. March 20, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Creativity, Easter, Easter bonnet, The Principessa Files.
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After the misery of constructing last year’s Easter bonnet, what with me being ill and only having two days to make it, I decided to get a head start on it this year.

Paraphernalia.

Paraphernalia.

Auntie K and I sat down and started brainstorming how we were going to sort out the first step. We had a long piece of cardboard that we were planning on making a top hat with. Guesstimating the size of Princi’s head, we drew around some plates to make the top hat brim, then used the rest when we had decided on how tall we wanted it to be. Then the wrestling match with the remnants of the box ensued as we fought to manipulate the cardboard into some semblance of a cylinder.

Eat your heart out, Mad Hatter!

Eat your heart out, Mad Hatter!

As you can see, it didn’t end up perfect. But hey ho! On we went, painting and a-sticking, and generally just hamming – or should that be chicking? – it up. Thankfully, Princi had made the chick a few weeks ago.

Hides some of the imperfections ;)

Hides some of the imperfections 😉

The evil chick-tator on high!

The evil chick-tator on high!

But we weren’t finished yet. Oh no! With Princi home from school, we set about sticking glittery rabbits all over the hat, making hanging Easter baskets with little boxes and pipe cleaners, and creating foam daffodils….

It’s a good job the bloody thing was correctly guesstimated and was a perfect fit for Princi’s head.

The completed top hat.

The completed top hat (Easter bonnet).

It’s World Book Day today, and oh! What a day! But the fights you will have about what to dress up as today… March 7, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Costumes, Creativity, Parenting, Pirate Penguin, The Principessa Files, World Book Day.
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And so the Hell that is the World Book Day dressing up party rained down…

The letter came home on Monday.

Your child can come into school dressed up as their favourite character from a book.

I dread these words every year. What is she going to choose this year? Please make it simple. But no. Gone are the days where she wanted to dress up as Lola from Charlie and Lola. She flat out refused to go in as Solstice from The Raven Mysteries. “How about Edgar the Raven instead?” But she’d done that one already and lost the beak from last year’s costume. Matilda was mentioned, but quickly binned. No. There was only one clear winner. Only one character that would cut the mustard.

Pirate Penguin.

The search was initiated for Princi’s pirate costume. The hat was a no-go: wrong shape, wrong colour. The hook-hand was broken. The cutlass was lost. Fab. All we had was the jacket and pants. Yarg! Scurvy seadogs!

I tried again to convince her to go in as someone else. Maybe Stephanie from Skulduggery Pleasant? No, if anyone, Princi wanted to go in as Skulduggery. Therein lay a whole new set of problems – skull mask, suit, tie. But still, Pirate Penguin was who she wanted to be. *SOB*

Thankfully, my very arty cousin visited last night, so we spent a couple of hours working out how to transform a Princi into a Pirate Penguin.

It turns out that red card, copious post-it notes, glue, and selotape all safety-pinned onto a baseball cap makes a good pirate hat. Tin-foil, cardboard, yellow plastic wrapping, and white paint make a fabulous cutlass. Tin-foil, cardboard, selotape and elastic perform well as a hook hand. Cardboard, elastic, purple tissue paper and selotape transform into a fabulous eye-patch. And elastic, torn-up paper and orange tissue paper make a wonderful beak. We had done it! A makeshift costume for a makeshift day…

Princi Pirate Penguin!

Princi Pirate Penguin! Yarg, me hearties!

And herein begins the charge… February 26, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Damn you evil inner critic I will soon show you my mettle.
1 comment so far

Well, I’ve done it. I finally grabbed that scared monkey and swung it by its tail and made it type an email to Roehampton Uni about the distance learning Children’s Literature MA. Eeks! Or, in the words of the monkey – ooo oooo aaaa aaaa! And not only that, but I’ve booked a place on the virtual open day that’s happening on Thursday. And so begins my assault on the evil attack of imposter syndrome. Because really, I don’t feel like I’m good enough to get a place on the course at all, so I was planning on not actually applying despite all my gung-ho-ness in this blog about doing the MA. I am absolutely petrified of taking this step in case I am found out to be dumber than a bag of rubber hammers. *sigh*

 

That is all.

 

It’s been ages… February 20, 2013

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

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!

Studying.

Studying.

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!