Thursday, 11 August 2016

MA-Ness Week 18 - Endings and Beginnings, Slogging Through Fog, 41 Hours To Go, Treats and Heartfelt Thanks

This weeks post it notes - including one with the fancy fountain pen I've just treated myself to for getting to the end of the course, a copy of a book I've just bought as I have become seriously addicted to Elizabeth Gaskell, a postcard of the painting Hard Times from 1885 by Sir Hubert von Herkomer chosen because a) I think it's a wonderful evocative painting and b) because I feel like the little boy sitting on the ground next to his mother ie dead tired... I hope the family portrayed in it went on to have less hard times but I suspect in reality the workhouse would have beckoned....

It's taken me a while to get round to writing this - partly because I have been concentrating upon getting my portfolio together ready to hand it in tomorrow. This is the big and final module - this is the 60 credits on its own module so I've been totally concentrating on it and its contents for the last few weeks so I can make it as good as possible. I want a distinction parly for my own satisfaction at successfully jumping that kind of academic hoop but also because I am hoping to do a Phd and if I get a distinction that should make that goal a little bit easier to accomplish.

I've followed the same template as I used when I handed it in this time last year and got a distinction for it but I have (hopefully) improved it further by being a little more discerning about what I've put in it as well adding little overviews for each of the projects I've worked on. I also wrote a general overview of my work over the last couple of years complete with proper harvard referenced footnotes and sub headings. I started work on that document about a month - six weeks ago and a lovely chum of mine helped me out on Monday night by helping me put the final touches to it in terms of inserting said footnotes and referencing them using the Harvard Reference system...which I think I've now more or less got a grip on how to do properly.  I know I used them for my dissertation but I was in such a state of brain fog at the time that I wasn't sure if I was doing them properly or not.

Anyway with that done I spent most of Tuesday at college printing it out along with the final images I wanted to include. I thought I had got myself all organised and sorted image-wise for printing but I hadn't - I had taken the images off the camera memory card that I had taken of my burial shroud size piece blowing in the wind at St George's Field on Sunday but I had only transferred them to the laptop - I hadn't put them on my memory stick or on google drive. ARGH - nor had I taken a picture of it on my phone. DOH!! I had put a picture of it on my Facebook page but social media sites are kept behind a firewall during lecture hours at college so you can't access them unless you have a smartphone - which I don't. Cue husband coming to my rescue again by downloading the image off Facebook and emailing it to me - it's not the best resolution but it's good enough to see the piece of work so PHEW I didn't have to come home and go back in again....

I have still one or two final final touches to make on my portfolio - namely printing out the submission lables and putting in some file dividers but I had otherwise finished putting it together by 7pm last night. I felt such a huge sense of relief that such a massive job was done, and with plently of time to spare before the deadline of 3pm on 12.8.16. I hate rushing round like a headless chicken at the last minute and finishing it last night meant I had 41 hours left in which to tinker with it, put in anything I realised I had forgotten and also be able to take a massive breath and so finally after what feels like a very long time indeed of feeling stressed about it relax a bit.  If I'm completely honest I may also have teared up a bit.

Part of me still just still can't quite believe what I've achieved and been able to do over the last couple of years, especially with the additional challenges of dealing with multiple bereavement and health problems over the last couple of years....but I got through it, in part due to my own determination and the course being an excellent focus to distract myself from the sad things going on but it is also thanks to supportive tutors and college staff, supportive and encouraging friends and last but by no means least thanks to my ever supportive and lovely husband who has been so supportive and encouraging, not just on an emotional level but also on a practical and financial level too. I don't think I'll ever be able to thank him enough really. Thanks must also go to Mapp who has listened (albeit not very closely and with no feedback) to every presentation or paper I've done but most importantly has let me fuss her when I've been feeling rubbish which frankly has been often.

A lot of the time thanks to non course related events it has felt like I've been wading uphill through treacle with a very heavy backpack, but it has also been the most brain stretching, challenging, thought provoking and rewarding time. I've been able to poke about in all sorts of archives, read all sorts of fantastic books, potter about in the darkroom, learn lots of new techniques and got to print burial plot size pieces of work - so what's not to love?  And I must remind myself of the overall joy of the process and what it brings to me when I'm sat in front of the computer cursing the fact that it has frozen yet again and all I can say is 'oh for fucks sake, just fucking work!!!' and all I want to do at that moment is sack the whole thing off and go and watch rubbish telly.

There has been some fantastic stuff on the radio recently - there was an excellent programme about leeches with Sir Christopher Frayling, an Infinite Monkey Cage about Frankenstein that was also very good (though I have otherwise somewhat gone off that programme and I can no longer take Professor Brian Cox seriously since my husband pointed out he has the same vocal phrasing as Philomena Cunk) and I have been taking time out from slogging away at course related stuff to go the pictures - seen some wonderful films like South Riding (1936) and the truly mind boggling Author: The JT Leroy Story (2016) -  though if I'm honest one of the most boggling things is how anyone could have believed Laura Alberts alter ego Speedy was british as that was one of the worst british impressions I've ever heard. I must write up my proper reviews of them whilst they are still reasonably fresh in my memory. Going to see films at the Hyde Park is one of my very favourite things to do - plus I love the fact that if you go to see a film at the cinema rather than watch one at home then you are less distracted as your only job is to watch the film and you don't have to answer the phone/check email/catch sight of the pile of ironing still undone.

One resolution I have made is should my phd plans/hopes come to fruition is that I will write my bibliography as I go along, something which I hadn't done this term and it was a right slog and pain in the arse to write it up earlier this week. A task which should have been easy but which became somewhat pained and led to a lot of procrastination and social media checking whilst writing it (I can thoroughly recommend Hacker T Dog on Twitter  as he or rather his handler who I suspect is a man called Phil Fletcher is hilarious) and I don't want to have to do that all in one go again. It's been made harder though because of the really noisy and invasive roadworks going on outside too - from 7am til 7pm there has been the sound of drilling, or the noise and vibrations of rollers making the tarmac flat and it's been going on for the last two weeks and is scheduled to continue for at least another two...

Another resolution would be to make meals in advance and freeze them as I've put weight on as I've been eating less than sensibly and reaching for easy comfort food as opposed to making healthier food from scratch.

One thing that did happen though this week or rather last Sunday was the first time I've felt unnerved in St George's Field. Along with taking images of my burial plot sized print, I also took pictures with my new pinhole lens and I wanted to take some amidst the clump of graves and trees in the corner nearest the transport studies department which is being refurbished.  It was quite a windy day and as I set up the camera on the tripod at the edge of the clump the branches above began groaning and squeaking as they rubbed against one another in a really alarming 'I'm about to break and come crashing down' kind of way so I moved to another spot sharpish. It really felt scarey and a bit threatening at the time though now I'm thinking oh for goodness sake it was just wind on the branches.

It didn't stop me going and getting a pizza from La Besi though for lunch and taking it back there to eat. Though we sat nowhere near the offending branches. Eating pizza there after taking pictures on a weekend has become a bit of a habit for me and my husband and it's one I'd like to continue. Though I will need to up the amount of exercise I'm doing in order to offset them....

I'm not sure if I'll keep up the habit of writing this once a week when I no longer need to for college purposes but even if I don't write so frequently I think I'll make a point of writing it at least once a month as although I'll no longer be at college as much I still have lots of academic and arty stuff on and I'll need to record what I'm up to somewhere, plus if all goes to plan potential phd-wise then I'll be no doubt writing about that.

Fingers crossed........

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