Getting cocky

Published March 21, 2013 by crazyinpink

After my last post about wearing jeans, I got a little bit too cocky with my rediscovered denim abilities.

I spent Saturday morning at a dorky history thing (which was actually pretty interesting) and topped and tailed it with a bit of retail therapy and lunch with a friend.  I wore jeans all day.

By the time I got home, in the snow I might add, I was feeling the pressure. I immediately had to change into pyjama bottoms as soon as I got into the house. I then spent about an hour curled up on the sofa watching some Barbra Streisand movie about two professors who get married for companionship, then she falls for him but he isn’t attracted to her.  I have no idea what the movie was called or how it ended cause I had to force myself upstairs to make a fancy dress costume.

My friend had a Middle Earth themed birthday party. As someone who has never read or even watched the Hobbit or any Lord of the Rings, I was pretty clueless. I decided to go with Legolas so I googled a picture, borrowed a bow and arrow from a friend and tried to recreate Orlando Bloom.  It didn’t actually go too badly, I put in more effort than some people.  It was definitely fun traipsing down to my friend’s house in the snow holding a bow and arrow!

Having just walked with nothing but my phone and keys (and bow and arrow) I didn’t have my pills on me and thought I could do without them.  It had slipped my mind that I’d thought the exact same thing the night before.

On Sunday morning, my body was not amused. The jeans and the no drugs brought back pain I hadn’t felt in weeks. I spend Sunday and Monday in bed, unable to do much.

I’ve learnt my lesson and have been diligently taking all my drugs at the right time. I haven’t gone back into jeans, I’ll leave them for shorter outings and not try to wear them all day for a while. I don’t want to jeopardise recovery by being stupid and getting cocky…

Wardrobes and wearing jeans

Published March 15, 2013 by crazyinpink

I’m writing this while wearing jeans that actually fit me!  In the grand scheme of things, I know that it isn’t such a big deal, people wear jeans all the time.  But I haven’t worn jeans in four years. Jeans that actually fit me and aren’t my old ‘fat’ jeans which are two sizes too big and just hang around my hips. Every time I walk past the mirror, I stop to look at myself. I’m nothing special to look at but wearing clothes that fit me properly makes me look totally different from my usual wardrobe of loose, comfortable skirts and dresses. I can’t help but smile.

I ventured into a clothes shop the other day after picking up a mouth guard from the dentist at a ridiculously early time (turns out I’m a teeth grinder, who knew?).  Not surprisingly, there are few people in shops at 9.15am. I didn’t go in for anything in particular, I just figured that I’d got up and dressed so early, I may as well do something else before going home again. Immediately I found myself looking at long, floaty dresses, automatically testing the fabric to see how giving it was.

Then I stopped myself. Maybe I didn’t need to continue to buy the same kind of clothes. I’m not in as much pain now after the op, I even wore jeans for eight hours straight last week. I ventured into a section of the shop I don’t think I’d ever visited before. Shirts, tops, even *gasp* trousers!! Having lived with pelvic and abdominal pain for so long, I had forgotten that these clothes were an option. Most of my wardrobe, about 90%, consists of dresses of varying styles and fabrics which I wear with ever-forgiving leggings. Last week when I decided to give the jeans a whirl, jeans which I bought in a mad bought of optimism before last July’s operation, I realised how few tops I own. I have t-shirts, mostly novelty ones I wear around the house or with the afore-mentioned ‘fat’ jeans. I had two nice tops which come out about twice a year or so for special occasions.

Don’t get me wrong, my wardrobe is far from boring.  It might be restrictive compared to normal people but I still use clothes to express myself. I wear impossibly bright colours and quirky prints.  I accessorize like Gok Wan and have a shoe collection that would rival Carrie Bradshaw’s. But walking around that shop the other day, I felt a little thrill I haven’t felt in a long time. I could buy clothes based on how they looked on me, I didn’t need to obsess as much about how clingy the fabric was, how loose it would be around my tummy, whether it would be comfortable enough for long days working in libraries. It was oddly freeing. And terrifying. Would I be tempting fate if I bought myself a new, healthy wardrobe instead of the chronic one I’ve been sporting for years?

In the end, I compromised. I bought a dress which had a 1920s vibe with a gorgeous flowing skirt and a pink and orange check fitted shirt. I can’t wait for the weather to get a little warmer so I can wear it with my jeans and shock everyone with clothes that actually show my shape!

Back to the Books

Published March 12, 2013 by crazyinpink

I’ve strayed somewhat from my true purpose in life lately.  I now feel awkward when people ask me what I do and I tell them about my PhD, a PhD I’ve barely thought about in recent weeks.  True, I did take a month off for my surgery. When I came back, I had the emotional rollercoaster that was organising a national conference. Like a bottle of fizzy lemonade, that weekend was the final shake to produce the explosion of carbonated thoughts and feelings that had been building in my head for way too long.

But now *sigh* I really have to get back to work, back to what I’m being paid to do.  As much as I enjoy mooning around and over-analysing the tangled mess that is my love life/complicated friendship (sarcasm), I really need to get back to the books.

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So, I had my supervisory meeting to discuss my plans for the next few months. The major thing on the horizon is differentiation.  Differentiation is the process you have to go through after your first stage as a PhD student.  Technically, you can’t be a proper PhD student until you are ‘differentiated’. It usually takes place about 9 months into your research and involves an oral presentation as well as the first written chapter of your thesis.  You send your chapter to your supervisor who circulates it around your chosen examination panel, they all read it and a week or two later you meet with them. You give a presentation on your research, what you’ve done, what you plan to do and outline what you think your finished thesis will look like. They then grill you on everything from methodology to historiography and everything in between. Then they go through the chapter you’ve written and judge whether or not you’re actually good enough to complete the PhD.

It is kind of a big deal. Having coached Best Friend through his last year, I know quite a lot about just how stressful it can be.  If you don’t pass, you do get a second chance to go through it again or you can decide that the PhD just isn’t for you.  That’s not really an option for me. I really want this PhD and while I’m not entirely sure I could cut it in the grown-up world of academia proper, I want to give it my best shot.

Because of my rather turbulent first months, my differentiation won’t be until end of August/beginning of September. Which is a good clear goal for me to work towards. In the meantime, while finishing off a literature review and starting on the research for my first chapter, I’m also engaging in some public history with my project team and, for some ridiculous reason, have decided to submit a paper to a conference in Scotland in May. I must actually be crazy to voluntarily do these things to myself.

But, hey, less time to brood on things…

My Thoughts in Disney Songs

Published March 7, 2013 by crazyinpink

As I always do in tricky situations, I’ve been seeking refuge in my many Disney albums.  And, in that self-obsessed kind of way, a lot of them I found extremely relevant to the thoughts in my head.

Firstly…

 

There may be something there that wasn’t there before.

 

I’ve been silently thinking these things for weeks, maybe even months. Not allowing them to form more than a dream-like ‘what if?’ and never letting myself voice what was going through my head.  Things might have been clearer if I had some Muses singing Gospel songs to me.

Then again, if I could get any Disney character to miraculously appear for a little musical advice, I think I’d want Sebastian.  He could just hide in my office until the next ‘moment’ presents itself and then subliminally guide us…

 

Everything has changed

Published March 5, 2013 by crazyinpink

There’s normally a longer gap between posts but there’s just so much going on in my head at the mo, I need to get it all out. 

My last post covered what happened at the conference. This one will cover what happened between me and Best Friend.

I’ve already talked about our odd kind of friendship and the weird tension that came up about a year ago. With sharing an office and planning the conference, we became even closer.  We spoke every day, spent long days in each other’s company and began to function as one person.

In the run up to the conference, our nerves were frayed. Best Friend became distracted and agitated, he wasn’t eating well and his behaviour was quite manic. I looked after him.  The same way he tries to take care of me when I’m not well. 

In the confines of our tiny little office, Best Friend was touchy feely, often giving me hugs and putting his arm around me. Around others, we didn’t physically touch but there was a constant closeness, in our instinctively doing something together or in our bickering like an old, married couple.  When I came back from sick leave, he kissed me on the cheek. Something which has never happened before. 

I admit that I loved these little signs of affection. I’ve often felt like our friendship meant more to me than to him. He would never say I’m his best friend but everyone knows that I am. The fact that he instigated the little hugs and holding hands, while weird given how socially awkward he is, made my day that he was trying to show me how much he cares. 

And so we get to the weekend.

On Friday, he kept disappearing and returning to the office to give me a cuddle. At one point, we were sitting in our chairs and he went to pat my arm, missed and got my boob instead. To my utter bemusement, he then made a joke about it.  A few hours later, I had changed into a dress for the wine reception and was worried about how big my chest seemed in it. I kept trying to smooth it down while he talked to me. In the end, I asked him if my bra was visible, which really just gave him an excuse to stare at my chest for a while. Voicing my concerns that I looked trampy, he said ‘the trampier the better’…

I didn’t see him much on Saturday and ended up at the opposite end of the dinner.  He had dressed up in a suit and made his speech of thank yous.  I already suspected I might cry, it just seemed to be the mood I was in. After his speech, the tears started to prickle. I made it through the keynote address, sniffing silently at the table. When that was over, I noticed BF make his way to my table. I fled.

I stayed in the toilets for fifteen minutes until Caroline came looking for me. Sobbing onto her shoulder, everything came pouring out. I heard myself blurt out the words I didn’t want to say ‘I think I have feelings for him.’

By the time dessert was over, I had pulled myself together and was mingling like a pro. It would’ve been bad if I had ignored BF so I made sure I spoke to him, even posing for photographs. His arm instantly went around me, the first time he’d showed any sign of affection in public. Later on, he walked Caroline and I back to my car and it was my turn to surprise him with a peck on the cheek.

I dreaded coming into the office on Monday. Would things go back to the way they were before? Would the little cuddles disappear now that we had nothing to stress over? How would I act around him? 

He demanded we talk about Saturday. He, it transpired, was hurt that I didn’t come and sit beside him at the dinner. Both of us expecting the other to be a mind-reader. In that way he has of thinking everything is his fault, he was convinced he had done something to upset me but couldn’t work out what it was. I tried my best to avoid talking about it, not trusting myself. Eventually, I had to tell him that I had been a little hurt by his generalisation of what I did. It was immediately obvious that he had no idea it would come across that way, he thought he was being nice. 

After processing for a while in silence, he took my hand and looked me straight in the eye. He told me that he would never do anything to hurt me, he never wanted to hurt me. We’d never spoken like this before, holding each other’s gazes in the most intense few seconds of my life. Like last year, I briefly wondered if we would kiss. Unlike last year, the thought didn’t terrify me and I didn’t do anything to stop what might happen. We could easily have kissed at that moment. But we didn’t. He put his arm around me, pulling me into him, pushing my head onto his chest. He used his other arm to wrap mine across his stomach and then he just held me there, his head on top of mine, my ear listening to his heartbeat.

Everything has changed.

Conference Craziness

Published March 4, 2013 by crazyinpink

Regular readers will know that I’ve had a lot of stress planning a conference lately.  The conference is now over (Hallelujah) and now, in the post-apocalyptic world left behind, I’d like to tell you about it.

A lot has happened, particularly between Best Friend and me, so I think I’ll spread it out a bit. This post will cover the conference and my next will tell the story of me and BF…

Months of planning and organising culminated in possibly the most stressful weekend of my life.  Friday kicked things off with a welcome wine reception. We had around 80 delegates, most doing a fair bit of travelling to get here. I had mentioned to BF that I would quite like to do the opening speech. It sounds selfish and awful but, of the two of us, I am the better public speaker and I thought I’d probably be the better choice to welcome since I am the friendly, outgoing one.

Everything went well, aside from the fact that BF kept going awol and disappearing for forty minutes. There was a minor issue with security that I had to sort out and generally keep things moving and make sure everything was going well. The speech was only about two minutes to kick everything off. After the special guests had made their speeches, I invited everyone to continue to drink up the wine and eat the cheese and felt free to go chat to my friend Caroline.

BF pulled me aside and criticised my speech for not mentioning everyone on the committee. The only names I had mentioned were mine and BF’s as we had been sending all the emails and were meant to be the two organisers so everyone had already heard our names. After I walked away from him with a feeling that I would never be able to win, he dragged me outside to chat. I refused to apologise and he in turn saw how stressed I was and gave me a quick cuddle until someone appeared in the stairway.

Saturday was the main event – a full day of papers with coffee breaks, lunch, a workshop and then the conference dinner. I had made up a comprehensive rota of everything that needed to be done and had handed it out at our last committee meeting. Everyone left them sitting on the table and ignored my careful plans. I had a clipboard (decorated with pink flower stickers) with all the signs and info needed throughout the day. I left it down for two minutes and the committee witch had stolen it. I got it back and left her with the registration lists…boy, was that a mistake.

Everything went smoothly until after lunch. Everything that needed done had been done, mostly by me while the others sat around looking important. I made time to pop into papers relevant to my research and had my own phone as well as BF’s for emergency calls. At lunch, I was looking forward to a break and a wee chat with Caroline but, on venturing to my handbag for pills, discovered the registration desk was unmanned with our float left sitting open, so ended up minding it. After lunch, I went to a panel only to be called out by BF. Committee Witch had decided that my numbers for the conference dinner were incorrect.  I had only been working on the registration lists and payments for weeks, she’d first seen a version of them that morning, so obviously she knew more than me about it all. Convinced we needed to order more dinners, they started going through why I was wrong and they were right. No matter what I tried to say, they did not want to hear it. I took the lists and shut myself in a room with a computer to work at the spreadsheets. After going through everything twice, I arrived at the exact number I had given them earlier. I tried to calmly explain it to them but, once more, they refused to accept my word for it and needed BF to confirm. He knew absolutely nothing about them but came and stood beside me while I restated my case yet again. After listening to me, they decided they were right anyway. Satisfied that a decision had been reached, BF disappeared once more. I went to the toilets and cried. Caroline was in a panel listening to papers, I couldn’t go in and listen myself while so emotional nor could I loiter in the foyer with the rest of the committee.

A friend happened to text to see how it was going and I spilled it all to her. Within twenty minutes, she had arrived at the university to give me a hug and hold my hand. We waited til Caroline got out and I did my last round of room checks, putting up signs, etc and we escaped. I had said from the beginning that I wouldn’t be around all day and I would need a break in the afternoon. Of course, no one had listened. BF was texting to find out where I was… I was in a cafe with my two friends and a lovely girl we had picked up at the wine reception. Asking for the largest hot chocolate they had with whatever crap they offered with a hot chocolate. the waiter asked if I’d had a bad day. When I said yes, he returned with the most massive hot chocolate known to mankind with double flakes, marshmallows and a mountain of whipped cream.  It was pretty awesome.

I felt oodles better after that. Went along to the AGM to support BF and then had a little rest in the office with BF and Caroline before heading out for the dinner.  Right from the moment we entered the room the dinner was in, I felt close to tears.  I don’t know why, I was just incredibly emotional.  I sat with Caroline, the rest of the committee sat at a table on the other side of the room.  I waited for BF to invite me over but he never did.  He did the thank you speech.  He did really well but by the end, the tears had spilled. In his list of thanks, he kept the committee to the end and me to the very last. He thanked me for doing a little bit of everything and writing everything down in my notebook to keep him right.

I know that he meant well and what he said was true but it didn’t do justice to all the time and energy I had spent on everything.  Everything caught up on me, the exhaustion, the pain, the hormones, my feelings, everything.

The conference is over now and it all went smoothly.  There were no major crises and we were commended by everyone for our organising.  But now, afterwards, I feel like something has changed.  I feel like things might never go back to the way they were.

Birthdays and Sad Times

Published February 24, 2013 by crazyinpink

My re-launch into the world has not gone exactly to plan.  The infection I mentioned in my last post is ugly and the two strong antibiotics I’m on have been messing me about with all kinds of side effects.

Thursday was my birthday and I spent it conference organising and then dining with a bunch of academics.  Then Friday was taken up with a workshop all day and a cinema trip with two of my girlfriends.  I arrived home after midnight to find my mum still awake in the living room.

I instantly knew something was wrong. My mum is always in bed by 11pm at the latest.

I unlocked the front door nervously, fear building up behind my eyes and nose. Tears were already threatening to escape. Seeing the look on my face, she immediately assured me that my grandparents were fine. I am very close to my granny and granddad. She then sat me down to tell me that Gus, our guinea-pig, was gone.

We got Gus, or Gustav, five years ago. I was in my first year of university, my brother was finding it rough being a teenager minus a father. He wanted a pet and my mum agreed that he could have a small one. And so came Gus.

I didn’t really take to him for a while. I’m not a big animal person but his wee personality won me over. He loved music and would squeak and leap about to songs he liked. Anything with a heavy bass beat, however, drove him to burrow into his hay. He became my companion as I am the one at home the most. I would chat away to him, practice my presentations to him, even turning my laptop towards his cage so he could see my powerpoint.

Because we’ve never had a pet before, we didn’t expect it to be so sad when he was gone. He was getting old and we had given him a life full of love and spoilt him rotten. 

He was put own early on Friday morning and, stuck in a workshop, I had no knowledge of him even being sick. Mum considered contacting Best Friend and telling him to look after me but then decided against it. She wanted me to enjoy my time with the girls that night.

Then came the sad news that our past minister’s wife had also passed away. While we aren’t particularly fond of our last minister, seeing how he ignored us after my dad walked out and turned the church against us when divorce was mentioned, his wife was a big part of my teenage years. She taught me how to knit, how to sew, how to do things like make trifle for hundreds of people and arrange flowers as centrepieces. She was practical and motherly in that country farmyard kind of way.

My heart feels full.  My lack of sleep since on the medication isn’t helping matters. I just feel so sad and helpless. Best Friend is continuing to amaze me with his support, understanding why I’m foregoing tomorrow’s meeting to go to the funeral.  With so much happening this week in the run up to our big conference, I’ll be kept busy at least. In the meantime, I’m just clinging on to my faith.