The Bitch Doctrine

I finished reading The Bitch Doctrine on my commute today. It was harrowing and eye-opening and self affirming all at the same time.

The book is basically a very eloquent rant on all things feminism. It talked about societal stuff that makes me angry and societal stuff that makes me sad. Needless to say, it took me quite a while to get to the end.

I was particularly impressed by Laurie Penny’s ability to condense an incredibly complicated, specific feeling or concept into a humorously concise sentence. Her explanations made me realise just how universal many elements of my experience as a young woman in modern day Britain are, and also helped me to understand and empathise with people in situations completely different to my own. More often than not, there is a systemic reason for why people feel and behave in certain ways.

It’s an ultimately depressing, yet uplifting, realisation. Being aware of a horrible thing can feel unpleasant but if you are aware of it then you can change it and, as more people become aware, they can band together and do something about it.

I say “they” but I should be saying “we” or “us”, because this affects everyone regardless of age or gender. The patriarchy damages all of us in its own special way. Penny phrases it a lot better than I do though, so you should go and read her book if you’re interested in this kind of thing.

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Academic Bearings

I could write about the music-making apps I tried out yesterday, but none of them were what I really wanted and I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing me whine about not being able to music the way I want to (God knows I am) so let’s talk about something else.

I think I might have to make today a recalibration day. I’m back from my grandma’s, I have to head into the city briefly for an Alexander technique lesson, and then I have a little time left at home before university life starts up again.

I’m trying to get my academic bearings but I can’t tell if I’m stuck in burnout mode or am just tired/ill and lazy. If it’s the former then I need to take a break in order to get stuff done at later date, but if it’s the latter, then pushing through the feelings to get work done should do the trick. Being able to tell the difference between these two states of being is kind of important, but I can’t seem to do that at the moment. Recalibration day it is, I guess.

Here’s what I need to do after recalibrating:

  • Start writing the intro for my lyric writing research, do more reading on the topic and write follow up questions to send to participants.
  • Reflect on my ethnoblah major project fieldwork notes and survey data, and do more reading based on my supervisor’s suggestions from our last tutorial.
  • Do more Kunqu practise/reading/essay writing (following up on tutorial suggestions) and get back to my teacher about future lesson dates.
  • Wrap my brother’s birthday present and write his card.
  • Finish writing the Preacher article for volunteering.

There. Plenty of stuff to be getting on with. Maybe I’ll be able to do some of it now?

Making Something

I got back from my Grandma’s birthday celebration today and wrote a song. On my guitar. My right arm is aching but, mentally speaking, I feel pretty great.

I know that I probably shouldn’t have done that, but having to avoid playing my instruments (because arms) makes feel like I’ve had a part of me sheared off. No matter how much I try to play my RSI down or act like it will all be fine in the end, not being able to compose in the present significantly upsets me.

This is where my latest and brightest idea comes in: music making phone apps. The idea is that downloading and playing with an app instead of actually playing an instrument or synthesising something on my laptop will be less strenuous on the arms.

I don’t care about quality of audio; I just want to be able to make something. Anything. Wish me luck.

Musical Enthusiasm

I think it’s safe to say that my taste in music is fairly eclectic. A masters in ethnoblah will do that to you. The songs in my Spotify playlist can be broadly placed in the following (often overlapping) categories:

  • Fusion stuff
  • Pop-punk
  • Pop
  • Weird experimental stuff
  • Soundtracks
  • World music
  • Funny songs
  • Rock

I used to say that I liked music with a good tune but, after doing that weird sound art module last term, I now have a saved song on my playlist which purely consists of rhythmic barcode beeps. I think my definition of what I like in music has changed.

One of the questions on a research survey that I distributed a while ago was “How would you define music?”. I don’t know how to answer that question; I was just curious to see how fellow music-lovers would respond to it. Seeing what comes out of my research is what interests me and, so far, my concert hall survey data is making me smile.

People can be absolutely adorable when they’re talking about something they love. There’s a lot to be said for enthusiasm and I think I might get to say some of it in my thesis (can I call it a thesis? A dissertation is the undergrad thing right?). I’m looking forward to that.

Upsetting Research

For one of my modules I’m researching songwriting. This involves reading a lot of books on how to write lyrics, and the history and practices of folk music and singer-songwriters. Unfortunately, the problem with reading this kind of thing is that it really makes me want to compose. But I can’t. My writing/strumming hand is already swollen for no apparent reason; I dread to think what would happen if I actually tried to do something musical with it.

It’s so frustrating. I have defined myself as a songwriter since, approximately, the age of eight. It’s one of the things I’ve always known I can do and enjoy doing, but now I can’t do it. I have an EP on Spotify and no idea when I’ll be well enough in terms of RSI to follow it up with an album. I have no shortage of songs to record, what if I forget how they sound or how to play them before then? Listening back to my EP often leaves me torn between extreme upset and pride depending on my temperance that day.

I love composing and I love playing my instruments. I also love my undergraduate folk club and the songwriting process enough to try and write this 5000 word piece of research on the two things, but it’s taking forever for me to even do that because, every time I do some reading on the subject, it makes me want to try out new songwriting techniques and I’m painfully reminded that I can’t do that right now.

I don’t know how to get over this. It’s not making me quite as miserable as it used to but it is definitely affecting my ability to get this research done. Thank God I have a deadline extension.

Hobby-ing

Today’s been pretty ozzum. I met up with my guitar teacher and his daughter for a drink and catch up chat, got some academic work done, and did what I like to think of as code-related bonding with dad (AKA he troubleshooted a thing I was trying and failing to do on my portfolio website-in-progress).

It’s a little annoying how closely my well-being is tied to my academic work capability, but it does means that it feels fantastic to finally get something done. Two tasks have dropped off my priority list now!

Like my punk-ish friend said on my last post, balance is key. If I get enough academic work done then I get to feel less guilty about spending time on my other hobbies!

At the moment my hobbies comprise of this:

  • Reading – if it’s fiction then it counts. It’s good because it doesn’t require extensive arm action and I’m never going to get anywhere with writing if I don’t read!
  • Creative writing – I’m currently working on a story where two sidekicks on opposite sides of the superhero-villain continuum become friends. The original idea was to have them fall in love, but, when I tried to write it, the falling in love idea felt boring, overdone, and the characters were giving me more of a friendship vibe than anything else. It probably helps that I’m projecting quite a lot onto the heroine.
  • Coding – I’m slowly progressing with my portfolio website. I could do with a coding mentor though. I want to make the website myself but tips and guidance from someone who knows about doing this kind of thing would be incredibly useful.

These are the things I can do, to some extent, with dictation software. That’s why I haven’t listed anything musical, and it’s also why my volunteer activity doesn’t quite come into the picture. You can’t really use dictation software in the middle of a meeting, but you can use it outside of the office (speaking of volunteering, I have a Preacher adaptation article to write…).

Things are looking up and the weather is gorgeous. Happy Easter everyone!

Am I hungry or just emotional?

I’m in one of those moods where I want to eat something unhealthy even though I’m not hungry, but I’m not letting myself because I know doing that won’t make this feeling go away.

Basically, I’m lying on my bed staring into space. I should be doing work. It might even make me feel better at this point, but I don’t want to move. I don’t really want to do anything.

Yay burnout.

Maybe I should eat something. The stomachache-headache combo could be an indication of hunger instead of stress-related illness. Then again, I’ve eaten a mango, a large chocolate milkshake and a decent sized dinner today so perhaps not. I dunno. I’ll put on some motivating music and see what happens.