Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Congratulations Class of 2013

It's all been quiet on the blog of late. Regular readers will notice a blogging lull at this time of the year, an may or may not remember that this is busiest time of the year for me at work. As part of the Events Team at the University of Dundee, our biggest event of the year is always Graduation - a whole week of events which focus on the culmination of the students' four years at the university, ending with being officially conferred as graduates of the university and a big ol' party. It's the raison d'etre of our office, and in some ways of the university in general.

I know I'm biased, being both a current member of staff and an alumna from the university, but I think you'd struggle to find another university in Scotland who does Graduation quite as well as we do. I'm also allowed to say that because most of the mechanisms and range of events were derived and put in place long before I started in the job, so it's not really down to me. I'm just part of the team that helps smooth things along on.

So, that's the reason for the tumbleweeds blowing across Barbie Ruined My Life for the past couple of months. I can't really think of a much better reason to neglect the blog (except maybe a little holiday for me...) but normal service will resume shortly. you can expect posts on Dundee, Uni, writing, current affairs and the other bits and pieces that catch my eye in the future. 

For now though, here's to the Class of 2013 graduates from the University of Dundee. Congratulations guys, and best of luck for the future.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

What's Your Dundee?

We Dundee
 I've blogged before about the city I live in, and how it had a completely undeserved reputation as being...well a bit rubbish.

Things have been changing in people's attitudes both in and outside of Dundee and I'm so pleased that this is being recognised with Dundee's bid to be the 2017 UK City of Culture.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Love is a Verb

Please forgive the cliché in the title, I'm struggling with titles at the moment and there's not really much of a better way to out this. I'm 6 months into that supposedly tricky first year of marriage, and I've been thinking about love quite a bit of late. Partly because I've recently taken to using 'love' as a term of endearment and because of all of the life/relationship upheavals that I hinted at here. In that blog I mostly talked my way around the things that were on my mind, primarily because I'm no longer an even semi-anonymous blogger and I now need to take into account that my words have further reaching consequences than me ranting into the void.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Waking up alone again

It's late at night, or early in the morning...I can't quite tell because it doesn't feel like either. It's appropriate because I feel like I'm in limbo. It's FridaySaturday and in a few days I'll be back in this bed, but my husband won't be with me. I'll be leaving him behind in England and coming back home without him. I'll go back to waking up alone again. I've delayed the inevitable by taking time off work and forking out for the train fair back up north. It won't feel strange then, because I've travelled on my own on trains so often. Its familiar and routine and mundane and I think it will help.

Not that long ago I still lived on my own, and this wouldn't have seemed like a big deal. Up until very recently, on the occasions when we'd share our bed with the other, in the other ones flat, I'd wake up in the middle of the night and, dreary with sleep, wonder who this strange man in my bed was. At some point, after we moved in together, I stopped feeling like that. I even got so used to him here that I stopped waking up in the night. I'm wondering how ill learn to sleep, without him. More - how will I get up without him.

I've been talking a good game. Telling him and who ever else will listen that I can't wait to get my space back. That I'll finally have the space I need to write again, and that I've been stifled. The truth is, I haven't been stifled, I've been closeted and loved and held. I've felt safe and comfortable. It's contentment that has slowed me down, not suppression. I want to turn the clock back, tell my past-self that I won't miss my space, but that I will feel the empty hole that he leaves when he's gone. To enjoy it, because its all to fleeting.

I knew it would happen. We both did. We chose this life when we decided that this is what we want to do with our lives. It was inevitable. And yet I can't be rational or reasonable right now, knowing that this is almost over for who knows how long.

I joked about getting to watch BBC Four programmes at night again when he was gone. But I know that, even without him, I'll put on the rain noise app that he loves to fall asleep to. That I bought, just for him. Because I love him, and love changes you.
I hope that this change doesn't hurt as much as I fear.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Read the Books You Have

It might be the product of following so many book blogs, or perhaps the perceived challenge of a new as yet unfilled book case. It might even be the propensity to wander book stores when left unsupervised, or Amazon's 'recommended for you' section designed to separate you from your hard earned cash.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Making Good Art and the Fear of the Fraud Police

From this...
I have a growing and slightly inappropriate obsession with a married couple. I knew him first, and met her through him before I knew that they were properly serious. I follow her on twitter, him on facebook. For some reason I feel the need to keep these separate. Thanks to them, and a few other people in my life I'm thinking and doing more about my writing. I'm writing more often and I'm taking what I do much more seriously. There's a couple of pretty good videos from them at the bottom of the post.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful: A Blog in Two Parts

Cross-posted from my academic blog.

Part One: Oz, Disney and Authenticity
Tonight I am going to (finally) see Oz the Great and Powerful. Having heard two excellent papers on Disney’s previous attempt at an ‘official’ Oz film, Return to Oz, at the Returning to Oz: The Afterlife of Dorothy conference in February, I was in no doubt that OTGAP would be a box office smash.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Everyday Sexism and Pet Names

Yesterday a male colleague ended a phone conversation with me by saying "good girl" before the more usual "bye". Before I could think about it for too long, I tweeted the experience to @everydaysexism. Afterwards, I felt pretty awkward, both from the encounter and the instantaneous tweet. Although very few people in my department use twitter, it's fairly obvious that I'm me, as it were. I'm identified by name, but also by job and location on twitter so anyone viewing it from my organisation is likely to be see the connection. I'd worried, after when I'd had time to think, that the gentleman would be able to tell that this apparently obscure tweet was about him. He would quite rightly wonder why I hadn't raised any objection on the phone, or what was so heinous as to deserve this. I also worried that, since I knew he was senior to me, there would be repercussions. And that's just for starters. I worried, as I have done the past two times I've responded to the Everyday Sexism project, that it's all just a storm in a teacup. That now that I have somewhere that it's ok to talk about these things, I'm looking for them and seeing things as an issue that I wouldn't have not too long ago.

Friday, 8 March 2013

I'm not doing a post about International Women's Day...

Today's Google Doodle
...mainly because I'm doing a lot of reading other people articles and I'm in the office today, instead of working from home. I'm thinking about it a lot and I've been thinking about a post on the dreaded 'Women's Issues' for a while, so a post today would just be a bit of a garbled mess. There's a lot of stuff out there, so instead of reading me ramble incoherently, here a round up of some of the stuff I've read today by following the links from International Women's Day articles.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

New Marla Mason Novel

Marla from Bone Shop (C) Daniel Dos Santos and T. A. Pratt
Marla Mason, sorceress of considerable reputation, queen of snark and all-round badass is back.

I first met Marla around 2007 when Blood Engines was available as a free e-book from Random House in scribd. Since then I've been totally hooked, and when the series by T. A Pratt was dropped by the publisher in 2009. Due to the response from readers wanting to find out more about the character, and read the resolution to the cliffhanger at the end of Spell Games Pratt set up a readers funded sequel, whoch I'm proud to say I backed.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Farewell CatMan

A Tribute to a Beloved Moggy 

When I think of J, I have the impression of her always having had cats around. Thinking a little deeper about this, I realise that this impression is false. J had cats when she was growing up, before I knew her (I'm tempted to say before I was born, but she'll kill me). I remember fondly the stories of her cat that followed her to school that she used to shoo away with manic limb waving, which almost never worked. The fact that her neighbours couldn't see the cat she was waving at behind the short garden walls of the houses in her area only added to her general aura of weirdness for them. It's about as perfect and all encompassing characterisation of her as I can imagine. 

When I first met her and even when we first started being friends, she didn't have any cats. It wasn't until life moved on a little, as its wont to do, and she lived in a different flat that she got cats. That was many years and several moves ago now and the last of her furry feline companions had to say goodbye recently. That over there is Cat, or Mr. Cat, CatMan or  CatManDoo. That last name was given to him by Husband, whom all animals adore, but CatMan especially loved.

Monday, 4 February 2013

THRESHOLDS 2013 Feature Writing Competition

I received this by email from the Folklore mailing list I'm registered on. It coincided with me reading Kate Bernheimer's wonderful introduction to My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, an anthology of fairy tales from both established and new writers. You can read an extract from it here. In it she mentions the controversy that her suggestion of engaging with fairy tales caused at a writers conference and how, despite the obvious popularity and quality of such writing, 'collections and/or retellings of folk-tales, myths, and fairy-tales are not eligible' for the National Book Awards. If fact, she started a petition to change this, which you can read about here and here. And you can find out if it worked here

Anyway, my point is that there is a new writing competition open, and all the details are below. So, what are you waiting for? Go write some fairy tales...

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A decade on...

Do you remember what you were doing in Winter 2002? How old were you, were did you work or go to school? What were your plans for the impending new year? What about the world in 2002...what was it like? How did we communicated then in the time before smartphones, Facebook and Twitter? Had most of us even heard of blogging, or were we keeping old fashioned, written on paper diaries?

I was 16 in 2002, I was in my final year of high school and I met the boy who would some day be the Husband. And what's more, I knew by the end of 2002 that I would marry him someday.

Monday, 28 January 2013


That's Harvey and Rabbit. It's unbelievably cute, and reminds me of something my Mum used to say when I moaned about my sister's best friend growing up (of whom I did not approve). In not so many words my Mum taught me that you can't choose who you love, and that our family and friends have to accept things about us that they don't necessarily understand, like why you stay friends with someone who is an arrogant, self-centred, unpleasant little twat. Oops. Sorry. I got a tiny bit carried away...