I just read this sentence...

Wednesday, April 25

...in a book about writing essays:
"...when writing essay-style answers under exam conditions, you will not have a lengthy period to respond to the set task, and will be expected to perform under time pressure, without aids like dictionaries and thesauri and with very limited scope to review, edit and..."
Hold on a minute! Rewind! "...thesauri?!"

(here's an unrelated picture of
the back of my head to break up the text...)
Whenever I’ve been referring to multiple copies of books of the synonym providing variety (which, as you can imagine, is like every other day) ...I’ve always said ‘thesauruses’. (It turns out that’s also a word... but obviously not the proper one if a real and actual book which got published says ‘thesauri’.)


Anyway... on another note, here's a great bargain I found in Morrisons over the weekend. Don't all be rushing at once now!

(Sentence is from p.229 of How to Write Essays and Assignments by Kathleen McMillan and Jonathan Weyers, 2009)


Tuesday, April 24

Hello! The next few weeks I'm going to be studying for my 20th Century Literature exam, but I will endeavour to keep updating on here! So... I thought I'd put up another one of my columns from the Strathclyde Telegraph.  

Something I've Noticed: What's in a Name? 
(from the Strathclyde Telegraph. Issue 2. November 2011)

   There's a queue of about twenty people snaking around the shop. They are all waiting for the self-service checkouts. ‘Insert cash or press: Pay with Card.’ ‘Unexpected item in bagging area.’ ‘Notes are dispensed below the scanner.’ A chorus of the same voice grows louder the closer I get to the machines. I abandon this queue and opt for the real-person checkout.

    ‘Do y’need a hand to pack?’ the assistant asks. I shake my head and she scans the items. While I’m rummaging for my purse, she continues her conversation with the assistant at the next till.
    'Oh I know how you feel, Happiness,’ she is saying. ‘Tell me about it.’
    I look over at the other lady. She has tired brown eyes and lets out a long weary-filled sigh. I glance at her nametag and (yes, I heard that right) her name is Happiness. It’s almost ironic as, today at least, she looks positively UN-happy.
    'We’re just too tired, love,’ my assistant tells me, handing over my change. ‘Been working too hard.’ Happiness nods. ‘Receipt okay in the bag?’
    On the bus home, I find that ‘Happiness’ is still floating around my head. It’s an unusual name, but a lovely one. No hidden meanings, it gets straight to the point. It’s almost fairytale-like, like a wish her parents whispered over her when she was sleeping: ‘May happiness follow you all the days of your life.’ I wonder, though, if she finds her name difficult to live up to. I’m sure that she, like everyone else, has bad days – days where she wishes she hadn’t got out of bed, or when people have said words that cast clouds over her eyes; days when the idea of ‘happiness’ couldn’t seem further away. And yet, there it is: it’s her name and a part of who she is.
    The bus rumbles along the motorway. My ears pop as someone shuts a window. I’m remembering one night when I helped to choose a name. My mum was pregnant with my little brother, and my sister and I were sitting with her on the sofa, feet dangling off the end.
   'Luke.' 'Christopher.' 'Ben.'
   We spoke out all the names we liked best. We were trying to imagine a little boy in our house called one of them.
   'Lewis.' 'Matthew.' 'Tom.'
   I wanted to call him Mowgli, mostly because I was just three-and-a-half and I thought it would be hilarious. It wasn’t until he was born, though, that my mum knew his real name. She looked at him and she knew he wasn’t a Michael or a Winnie the Pooh (another of my suggestions). He was Evan. Nothing else would fit.
    Beneath the hum of the engine, I catch muffled sounds: a murmur of conversation, the rustle as someone opens a crisp packet. I’m trying to imagine a world without names. It is a cold world: impersonal. I wonder if when people stop thinking about each other in terms of their names, they stop thinking about them as individuals. I read a story once where this happened. It was written by lady who lived through a World War II concentration camp. She described how the camp’s prisoners were stripped bare – stripped not only of their hair and clothes, but also of their names. Names were replaced with numbers, and in the process identities were lost.
    As the bus slows down at my stop, I hop off and start walking towards home. I’m remembering how Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favourite writers, thought that ‘Naming’ was an act connected to loving. Giving someone, or something, a name shows that you think they’re worth something – worth your notice, worth your time, worth your love.
    Our names, I think, are more than simply a collection of symbols and sounds. They have meaning. They are chosen. They are gifts.
(Pictures are from various summer birthdays in my family.)

food and fresh air.

Wednesday, April 18

I've been (creative) writing today. And walking (admiring the blue sky, the cherry blossom trees, other people's red houses). And eating a boiled egg (breakfast), a cheese and tomato roll (lunch), and chickpea, potato, mushroom and spinach curry (dinner). And drinking up the sun and lots of tea. And listening to this (related to the writing).


Wednesday, April 18

I've had an essay to write. And an article. And a short story. And I've got an exam coming up. So I've mostly just been 'noticing' papery things - lined paper, books on 'time and modernism', the novel Mrs. Dalloway (beautiful book), the changing shape of my handwriting throughout the day (at the start: neat, by the end of the day: not so).

Other than that here are three small noticings: (one) the boy on my train picking an eyelash off his girlfriend's cheek, (two) the light hitting my glass of water, making it look like it was glowing, (three) the funny/wonderful spelling of the word 'vacuum' (two 'U's in a row!! How have I never noticed this before?!).

And... I've recently come across the drawings of Gemma Correll (you should take a look at her website, if y'like. Brilliant). I thought I'd share a couple of them on here because they made me smile:

mindmaps are wonderful (essays are not).

Monday, April 9

I may have overdone it slightly with the mindmaps... I'm currently trying to coax all of this (and more) into an essay structure. Difficult when your mind doesn't really work in a linear fashion...

forgotten words.

Monday, April 2

Many things gave me completeness
They did not only touch me
My hand did not merely touch them
but rather
they befriended
     my existence.

~ from ‘Ode to Things’ by Pablo Neruda (cited in ‘Lost in Wonder’ by Esther de Wall)

I stumbled across these words again last week. I keep copying them out into various journals or on the back of envelopes ...and then forget about them, only to find my breath taken away a little when I reread them. In this poem, Neruda is writing about how he loves ordinary things (like cups and coins and spoons and fabric). ‘I love all things...’ he writes.

...not only the grand,
but also the infinite

I’d like to try and read more poetry over the summer. Poets often have a way of saying things that I’ve always felt deeply, but have never quite known how to say. These words - ‘they befriended my existence’ - when I read them, I feel like I am filled with little bursts of light.

(picture from: Cake with Giants)

I should invest in a compact mirror.

Sunday, April 1

While sorting through the pictures on my phone, I noticed that I have about four hundred and eleven* photos of the back of my head.

'But why?’ I (don’t actually but will imagine for the purposes of this post that I) hear you ask.

It’s not because I particularly like to look at the back of my head (although, you know, I am glad it’s there). It’s more because I’m trying to check for unruly hairs in order to flatten them. I tend to attack my hair with millions of kirbie grips to keep it up and in the process, little strands of hair tend to stick straight up ...which (to the UFO-fearing-eye) can make it look like I have antennae coming out my head.

To answer your question then (yes, I know you didn’t actually ask it, but play along with me here), I take these pictures to try and reassure the people walking behind me that I am, in fact, human. I take them to avoid having to overhear whispered conversations like this:

‘Is - is that an alien walking on front of us, Fred?’
‘I’m not sure, Mabel. It doesn't appear to be. It’s got arms and legs like us, and I can’t see any green skin.’
‘I know that Fred. But the antennae? What about the antennae, Fred? They look quite extra-terrestrial-ish to me.’
Fear not humans. I am one of you! 
(*note: possibly a slightly exaggerated number. Anyway... I should actually be writing an essay just now so cheerio!)
by mlekoshi