Monday, 26 February 2007

Language and letters

Ha, when i saw this 'Happy Monday' meme, I just knew that I had to do it. The idea is that every Monday a theme is posted, and bloggers have to post something funny on tht theme - a picture, video, story or whatever. Today's theme is letters.

Here is mine:

This occurred last summer when my boyfriend and I were unexpectedly invited out to dinner with his parents, so he left a note to David (my brother) to explain that we'd left, as David had just gone out. No idea why he thought this was informative, but there you go. We arrived home later on to discover David's contribution. The exchange amused me so much that I kept the bit of paper.

Yes, I am probably more easily amused then the average blog reader/writer, but there you go.

Anyway, my random thought of the day is that I read a lot of stuff on language and gender today, and the book got me wondering. It paraphrases many of the ideas of a woman called Robin Lakoff - who started off the language and gender debate years and years ago - which include assumptions like 'women use many more tentative linguistic forms than men' and 'men swear more' and 'women force conversations more, and use linguistic forms that force a response in the other speaker'. The book I'm reading focuses on research that's been conducted since Lakoff's claims, which were merely based on her 'intuitions' as a native English speaker. The conclusion is basically that she was talking rubbish, because the evidence often contradicts her. But the evidence also contradicts itself a lot, too. So really...we just don't know what patterns there are in male and female use of language.

What got me though is that I'd agree with a lot of Lakoff's assumptions. Certainly, they're probably not all true, and definitely not for all women. But I reckon that there is still the idea hanging around that women don't, and shouldn't, swear too much. And they get a certain label if they do. And they shouldn't be too forceful in their opinion, and should use plenty of qualifiers to show that they're not praising themselves too much, or making other people out in a bad light.

The question is why is this? I'm not so sure that it's purely because of our apparently patriarchal society. Partly I think it's probably just differences that have evolved, and there's nothing too wrong in that. But you know what? All that business with women qualifying what they're saying is pretty much because of what women do to women. You use qualifiers in your language if you're a woman because you'll be frowned upon for having a decent level of self-esteem, and you also do it because you'll be called a bitch if you attribute negative qualities to another woman.

Sometimes I think it's great being a woman. Sometimes I think we all got a bit confused along the way.

I tend to think I'm pretty cool and I'm not having anyone tell me I should act otherwise. Smug, much? :)

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Listening to: The Life You Always Wanted - The Bittersweets
Thinking: I need to take my contact lenses eyes hurt
Funniest moment today: My flatmate and I sprawled out on chairs in our kitchen, making conversation across the room at the eye level of the table

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Lazy Sunday

Well it's after 6pm and I'm still in my pyjamas, so I don't feel any need to get dressed now! I've had a nice weekend and have made up for my lack of work in the last few days by doing my language and gender reading in bed. Ah, there are definite advantages to being a student - not getting dressed all day is totally cool with everyone else. I had to laugh at myself just now when I was texting a friend and he said something about everything kicking off in Cardiff tonight, and checked whether I was going out. I had no idea...upon checking the news I have discovered that not only did I have no idea it was the Carling Cup final, but I also missed 3 red cards, John Terry being kicked in the face, and apparently a 'brawl' on the pitch as well. Blimey. Not that my pyjamas would really suit the city centre anyway but I'm definitely not going out anywhere tonight! It seems such a shame that the final was so violent, even if the Terry thing was an accident.

* * * * *

Stories that amused me when I was reading news headlines:

This story in the Guardian, about a teacher in Kentucky who somehow sent a text about marijuana to a police officer, instead of to her dealer. The officer set up a meeting and then arrested the woman. Bit intrigued as to how she made such a mistake - surely that's one phone number you'd triple check before sending??

A BBC story about 3 armed muggers in Costa Rica who held up a bus of American senior citizens. One of the tourists was a retired member of the military, and accidentally (I think) killed one of the muggers while trying to restrain him in a headlock. I'm not applauding the fact that the bloke got killed, obviously, but I felt some satisfaction in the fact that the senior citizens won the fight.

* * * * *

Last laughed at: My twin brother, who was demonstrating his Happy Meal toy in our hallway when I walked out of my room earlier
Last felt smug because: I raided the huge Celebrations tin in our kitchen and there were some Mars chocolates left
Last felt insignificant because: I hugged someone I was out with and I only just came up to his shoulder

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Book lovin'

Now this meme I can really relate to! It's all about books, and I love them. I don't always get around to reading much for relaxation purposes because I spend so much time sitting around doing reading for my course that by the time I'm done I don't really fancy more reading. But it's one of my biggest passions, I suppose. So this is a good basis to talk about something I like...

1. Favorite Book You've Read?: This is difficult as I have many favourites. The book that's had the biggest impact on me in recent times is The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It's nothing like anything I've ever read. I never cry at books and films and stuff, but bits of that book almost got me. It's very clever, and definitely worth reading.
2. Favorite Book Character?: I'm gonna cheat here and say someone that's actually real. Tom Reynolds wrote the book Blood, Sweat & Tea, which is based on his Random Acts of Reality blog and is an interesting and insightful account of his life in the London Ambulance Service. He's funny but not in a disrespectful way, and seems like a really nice guy. I certainly couldn't do his job but he seems good at it!
3. Favorite Book Genre?: Erm, fairly mainstream fiction I suppose. Anything that engages me and takes longer than an hour to read. I don't really do chick lit unless I'm very tired...
4. Hardcover or Paper Back?: Paperback, all the way. Fits in your bag easily and doesn't make your arms ache if you're reading in bed.

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That's all for now - I really need to get on with some reading today, though I could do with going to get food so I can have some lunch. My body clock is pretty confused as I ended up going to bed at 6am, so I think a bacon sandwich may be in order. Yum.

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Listening to: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys
Reading: Women, Men and Language - Jennifer Coates
Number of cups of tea drunk so far today: 3

Friday, 23 February 2007

Lenten ponderings


Well we are having a fine Welsh day of clouds and rain today, so I figured I'd blog rather than doing what I should be i.e. walking to Tesco to get important goods such as bread and crackers. Oh, and marmite. I am most definitely a lover, not a hater, on that point.

I've been having a think about Lent in the last few days. I confess that I had actually forgotten until Wednesday, when a friend asked if I was giving anything up. His helpfull suggestion was 'sarcasm' but he tried that one last year and I'm still not buying the idea! The thing is that I don't belong to a christian denomination that enforces the idea of Lent, and nor do I feel that it is something that christians are *required* to do. Indeed, these days it is generally a time when women try to give up chocolate, and that's about it.

Last year was the first year of the thirst for life campaign, which you can find a link to in the top corner of this page. Another insightful look at Lent from a religious perspective can be found here. Last year was also the first year that I gave up something for Lent - alcohol. The idea behind the campaign is that it's a positive thing whereby people give up alcohol for 40 days to promote thought about the use of alcohol. And I think they've got a point. Granted, many people have a sociable drink or two a week, and that seems pretty harmless. But as I'm sure you'd agree, there's always plenty of stuff in the news about alcohol-induced abuse and drink-driving deaths etc. Which really isn't very nice. And as a student, I can certainly relate to the campaign's suggestion that alcohol is pretty much associated with everything we do these days. You have a glass of wine with your roast dinner, a bottle of wine as an accompaniment to a movie, alcohol before you go out at night, alcohol when you're out...the list goes on. Now I consider myself a responsible drinker, but a problem here is that the government define a binge drinking session as 6 units of alcohol and above for women. And you have to bear in mind that that assumes that a measure of spirits is 25ml, whereas the standard in clubs is often 35ml these days. So as someone who can hold alcohol fairly well - and I'm not labelling myself as such in a particularly proud way! - I sometimes 'binge drink' without even realising. Yes, Mr Blair, I am officially *irresponsible*.

The point I'm getting at is even though I drink responsibly, I am perfectly capable of supposedly 'binge drinking' without even feeling it. I'd get up the next morning, albeit a little tired if it was a 4am bedtime, and think 'well that was a good night and I enjoyed myself in a sensible way'. But the fact is that us students do have a tendency to fit the image that the media gives us. Many students drink responsibly but there are also plenty that go out to get drunk, for whatever reason. So I guess I can agree with the campaign that maybe we need to reconsider just how much we assume alcohol to be a natural and (for some) everyday part of our lives.

From this train of thought, I'm going to give up drinking alcohol when I go out, for the duration of Lent. I'm being upfront about the fact that I'm not abstaining from all alcohol at home. I drink half a bottle of wine a week in my flat, at the very most. And that's usually over 2 evenings. It means a lot to me, sharing a bottle of wine with a friend, and I personally do not feel that I need to challenge this for Lent. Having thought about it a lot, my challenge this Lent is to go without alcohol when I go out - to challenge the presupposition that you have to drink to have fun, to find people interesting, to dance, and to loosen up. I hate going out with a large group and, if I feel slightly socially uncomfortable, thinking 'it's ok, we'll all loosen up after a few drinks'.

And, of course, I do benefit from this. For one, alcohol costs more than normal soft drinks, which saves me money. And also, I'm pretty sure that my body will enjoy being alcohol-free. Apart from the obvious burden on my liver and skin, you'd be amazed at the calories you consume while out drinking. The other day I looked up how many calories there are in basics such as a glass of lemonade and a shot of vodka. And I might not be totally accurate but the maths showed that the night before I had consumed in the region of 700 calories, just from drinking. And that was only about 4 drinks. To be honest, my waistline would appreciate not having to deal with that, even if it only happens once a week.

I see Lent as a chance to challenge something in my life - I've explained that already - and also a chance to try to be good to myself and have a look at what I'm doing both to my mind (buying into the idea that I'll have a better time with alcohol) and to my body (liver, skin, weight).

So there you go - my thoughts on Lent. It may have been a bit rambling...I've had a bit of a cold and stuff for a few days, and my brain isn't in top working order. But as it's a topical thing, I wanted to post it soon. Maybe I'll try and edit later.

* * * * *

On a different note, I wanted to mention the quote that made me laugh today. It's from this BBC article about a study that showed how much bacteria can be found in people's desks, and how women's desks are much worse than men's. The lead researcher, a Professor Charles Gerba, discovered that 75% of female staff kept food in their work area. He helpfully adds "I was really surprised how much food there was in a woman's desk. If there's ever a famine, that's the first place I'll look for food."

Now don't you all follow his lead or there'll be no food left...

This made me laugh all the more because one of my little brother's gerbils is called Gerba, too.

* * * * *

(a meme from Friday 5)

1. What do you try to stay away from? Steep drops

2. Are you clumsy or graceful? I attempt gracefulness but if I'm hormonal it's 100% clumsy for me!

3. What is it too late for? Me getting much work done today - I'm going out later :)

4. What/who was your first love? Phoebe the Russian dwarf hamster <3

5. Friday fill in: I believe that ____ will _____ I believe that I will not drink alcohol at the jazz club tonight

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Listening to: How to Save a Life - The Fray
Eating: A banana
Feeling: Slightly cold

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Congrats on the eating disorder progress?

Well, look what we have's the new range of Journeys cards by Hallmark. I came across them after reading a blog about them over at the f-word. Prices on there are in dollars, so I'm not sure whether these cards are available in the UK.

I can't decide what I feel about them. The website claims that the cards can apply to happenings in life such as divorce, eating disorders, leaving a bad situation, quitting a bad habit, post-partum depression, thanking a hospice worker, losing hair from treatments, and many more. I am totally with Hallmark on the fact that there are a lot of challenges people face today, and we need to support these people. I even think a well-placed 'Thinking of You' card can be very thoughtful and can really help. After a friend's brother died I know I agonised over whether to send a card, what card to send, what to write in it etc. But I'm really not sure about all this business where there's big inspirational paragraphs on and inside cards. I have to admit that I've never really been in a situation where I've personally been sent cards for anything on the Hallmark list. But if I was, I would much rather receive a card in which the sender had simply written a few words themself. Even if it was just "How can I help?" it would mean a lot more to see it in their own ink and their own handwriting than to get a card with that printed in it.

Don't get me wrong: sometimes I think that having poems and stuff printed on cards is nice. I've received sweet birthday cards like that, and I know my granny likes a classic and cheesy Mothering Sunday card. But the idea of sending someone a card with "One year free of the Big Bad C" on the front just makes me wince. As does sending one with "Why me?" on the front. Yes, the message inside is a thoughtful one (along the lines of 'you must have a million questions right now, but I have one too - how can I help?'). But really, do you need that card on your windowsill, or whatever, proudly displaying "Why me?" to you every time you walk past?

Well, it's just a thought. I genuinely hope that these Hallmark cards will be a great resource for the niche of people for whom they are appropriate. I don't doubt that many people will still be comforted and strengthened by them. From me, though, anyone in distress is more likely to receive an art group photo card with a few, simple words included in my own handwriting...

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Speaking of eating - but not of the disordered kind - check out carved into an apple which is on the Innocent blog (as in the smoothie). I'm proud to say that the photo is the work of a friend of mine.

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Listening to: Infinity on High - Fall Out Boy
About to: Make a fruit salad of grapes, melon, and banana
Thinking: That I should really do some course reading now

Sunday, 18 February 2007

More memes...

I suppose the first one explains why. And on a side note, I'm not sure if it's etiquette to use memes from different places in the same blog, so hope no blogging feathers are ruffled there.

I'm feeling very happy and content as my parents and younger brother are visiting my twin brother and I - we're both here at the same uni - and it's always great to see them. I am lucky enough to not only have a very supportive and loving family but also one where we share quite a lot as far as outlook on life and sense of humour are concerned. Come to think of it, I suppose the supportiveness and similarities probably both lead to the other. There's a thought. Though I was glad I returned to my flat when I did tonight: I knocked for my flatmate when I got in and it turned out that she was cleaning her bathroom and hadn't realised quite how strong the stench of bleach was. So I was able to save her from asphyxiation and, as a result, also got to learn how that word is spelt. So yeah, things are good and I'm looking forward to a peaceful and imminent night of sleep!

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(this one's from blogger seeds)

How do you decide what to blog about?
I am very new to blogging so at the moment I'm using memes to get me writing. I'll get onto other stuff in due course, I think. It'll often be stuff that makes me laugh or makes me think during the day - I have a tendency to be amused by random facts or things I see, and I love to share. Even if this often gets me bemused looks. And, of course, I will probably end up including stuff that interests me on my course. Sometimes it can be a bit boring (the language stuff in particular) but a lot of the time I love it and want to think about it more.

Any inhibitions?
I'm perfectly happy to be myself and be open about my personality and what I'm like as a person, but I don't want to get too into specifics about things that happen in my relationships. I want to be totally accountable and therefore don't, y'know, want someone I know discovering my blog and being all "on that one day you moaned about me not doing the washing up" or "you wrote about my boyfriend problems when I told you in confidence" or whatever. For instance, I admire the honesty of Girl with a one-track mind who is well known for her 'sex fiend' blog, but I'm at a stage in my life when I want to be quite innocent in what I write, as I have so many years left yet for it to catch up with me!

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(from Daydreaming on Paper)

Who gave you your name and how did they choose it?
My parents jointly decided on my name. I don't know that there was a very specific reason, though of course I will ask now! My middle name is the same as my auntie's first name, so I guess there's probably an influence there. Interestingly, 'Lucy' comes from the Latin for 'light' and is generally taken to mean 'bringer of light' or similar. When I was baptised 5 years ago I was given the verse 2 Corinthians 3:18 and I've always liked the way that it contains an image of light.

* * * * *

(from Sunday Spur for Scrapbookers)

Four jobs I have had in my life: delivering Lidl leaflets, shop assistant in gift/card type shop, library assistant, data entry
Four everyday things I couldn't live without: tea, laptop, academic diary, keys
Four movies I could watch over and over: Amelie, Dirty Dancing, The Cat's Meow, The Italian Job (new version)
Four places I have lived: Southampton, Cardiff...that's it!
Four places I like to shop: Tesco, H&M, Primark, Accessorize
Four TV shows I love to watch: The OC, Friends, ER, The Mighty Boosh
Four places I have been on vacation: Dartmoor, Inverness, France, Italy
Four websites I visit daily: Googlemail, Random Acts of Reality, Reuters, MySpace
Four of my favorite foods: pasta, chicken, melon, toast
Four things I want to do/see in my lifetime: pay off my student debt, go to Venice, get a house with a huge bed and a really suave coffee maker, get married

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Listening to: How to Save a Life - The Fray
Drinking: Lukewarm tea
Feeling: Very full (but satisfied) because I've eaten a LOT today

Friday, 16 February 2007

Five on Friday

(from here)

1. Name one thing you do every day.
Think 'oh, do I have to get up yet?'

2. Name two things you wish you could learn.
Fluent French

3. Name three things that remind you of your childhood.
White tights
Nintendo 64

4. Name four things you love to eat but rarely do.
Ben & Jerry's ice cream
Yorkshire Puddings

5. Name five things that make you feel good.
Getting unexpected emails
Buying a newspaper and finding a high percentage of it interesting
Innocent smoothies
Hugs from someone I love

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Hello world!

I like...Staying up til 2am. Late mornings. Toast. Tea. Swedish ginger holiday hearts. Ikea. Beer tents. Fitting all my shopping in my cupboard. Lecturers who play Dolly Parton songs in lectures. Hamsters. Post-it notes. Train journeys. Emails. Hugs. Church communities. Being sent sweet & sour chicken. Pink lamps. Unconditional love. Communication. Dancing in the rain. Pillow talk. 10 mph signs. New CDs. Pink wrapping paper. Shoeboxes. Jaffa cakes. Power showers. Organic red wine. Digital cameras. Beads. Photographs. Tesco Value. Rubber ducks. Magazine subscriptions arriving.

I don't like...Bread going mouldy. Running out of milk. Being laughed at in shoe shops. Not affording more boots. Towels that leave fluff everywhere. People being insecure. Female hockey players using the astro-turf in front of my window. Stuffy academic writers. Gigs selling out. Bands only playing in America and London. University launderettes. Forgetting people's names. Dilemmas. Festival shower facilities. People who 'hate' marmite. Small fridges. Slow postal systems. Forgetting birthdays. Living off someone else's money. Computer cables. Never having a camera at the right moment. Writing bad poetry.

* * * * *

I think of myself as a quirky young woman who has a lot to say about life, the universe, and pretty much everything. Not because I want to shove my opinion in anyone's face, but because I'm intelligent and I like to learn about stuff and think about it. I want this to be an outlet for me to write about whatever I want. I enjoy life - things constantly amuse me and interest me, and I love it. I reckon that everyone's got something to say and I resent it when people imply that somehow you can't have insight into *real life* unless you've been rebellious, got yourself into trouble, all that. Being hardened to life doesn't make you an expert on it.

I've recently become interested in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which purports to show an individual's personal preferences as far as how they think, feel and act is concerned. I'd take a look if you get a chance - I've found it really interesting. I am a mix of the INTJ and the INFJ types. I am the 'Mastermind' and the 'Counselor' - the 'Rational' person and the 'Idealist'. I have a scientific side that appreciates the need for logic and intellect and establishing facts and pattens. But I can also empathise, and don't believe in compromising my ideals, which can lead to some stubbornness.

And you know what? I like myself this way.

That's all for now. Hopefully my stream of random thoughts will start appearing here soon.

* * * * *

The "What's Your Personality Type?" quiz tells me:

You Are An INFJ
The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.
Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.
You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.
You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.

You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

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Listening to: Come What(Ever) May - Stone Sour
Drinking: Clipper Green Tea with Lemon
Feeling: Stiff from going to the gym 3 times this week