The Mystery of the Missing Blog Posts

Mystery of the Missing Blog Posts

I hate going on hiatus so soon after coming back from the last one, however, this one is for an important reason – my dissertation/thesis. This should have been done and dusted a year ago, but my ongoing health issues and eventual (still pending /sigh) diagnosis of ME/CFS meant that I had to continue to struggle along with it at snail’s pace. I’ve now come to the end of the line, time has run out and I need to get this done for my Masters and for my own sanity. The worst part is that I LOVED my Masters, I LOVE my dissertation topic and I am just so beyond frustrated with how slow my progress has been. As a student with two degrees and most of a Masters behind me, I’m no stranger to having written some assignments in the last few days and I know I can belt out 1-2k words in a day without any problems. Thanks to the flu, the following post-viral fatigue and CFS I feel like I am slogging through quicksand even writing this blog post. If you’ve never written a dissertation/thesis, let me tell you, it is NOT easy. It is not just a bigger/longer essay with more words. And I am doing it with such a massive handicap that it feels near impossible.

I refuse to give in though. I have come this far, and while I have to now live my life differently, I am not going to let my health conditions rule my life. I’ve spoken about mindfulness a few times now, and part of it is the idea of living with our bodies, with our pain. I keep seeing things online about people with chronic pain and CFS, and how much control over their lives they have had to surrender. While I love blogging, and want to develop this blog more, I want a career. I want to be a librarian. I don’t want to have to carry around anti-bacterial gel and use it every time I touch anything, worried about every single germ I could catch. I want to be able to go out, visit places, stop for coffee with a friend. And one step in that road is proving to myself that I can do this, that I don’t need further extensions (if I can even get one) on my dissertation. I also need this chapter of my life done, put away and not hanging over me while I continue to recover and adjust to this new life of mine.

It’s taken me several days to even complete this post, and honestly, things aren’t looking bright. I am gradually doubling the amount of work I get done each day and it’s just not fast enough. Hopefully I can still make the final deadline, however, I know this first draft is going to take me a few extra days. So please cross your fingers for me, send energy my way (if you have any to spare!) and hope that I can push through this fatigue to get this done! ((Banner image from Public Domain Pictures.))

Goodbye February

Goodbye February

February was the first month of my new blog content and I did better than I expected, although not as well as intended. I’m struggling right now with an unknown viral illness on top of my normal 6 health issues. It started at the beginning of October and despite numerous blood tests, all the doctors have managed to tell me is ‘it’s a viral illness’. It has all the same symptoms as Mono/Glandular Fever but because the test for that keeps coming up negative the doctor I saw refuses to call it that. So I’m in limbo. I’ve been trying to see my normal doctor, who on other occasions has proven to be caring and straight forward to talk to. Even that hasn’t been simple. I’ve either been too ill to attend appointments, or had to wait for weeks for one because she’s only in 1-2 days a week or has been on holiday. I am hoping to see her on Wednesday, as on top of the other symptoms I’ve either developed new ones or caught an infection in my chest as well. I literally feel like my body is falling to pieces right now.

Amazingly I am actually managing to keep up to date with university, including completing the first assignment of this term and settling on a dissertation topic. Here’s the topic summary:

Dementia is a growing problem in Scotland and around the world because the number of people who have it is increasing so rapidly. Friends and family who care for people with dementia have many demands on their time and energy. As they try to manage their lives and care for their loved one, they naturally have a need for information to help them make decisions about their loved ones and their roles as carers. Little is known about how to better meet their information needs as they change throughout the progression of their loved one’s dementia. This dissertation will look at information needs of these carers and how information agencies can best help them meet these needs.

 

I am really excited and a bit humbled by my dissertation. This is a topic near and dear to me, something I have experienced first hand and as a disabled student the idea that I can actually do something, anything, to help people with chronic illnesses is extremely humbling to me. The more I do of this course, the more I learn about what information and library studies is about… honestly it is mind-blowing. It is very scary, and may lead to something amazing possibilities and opportunities, so I’m trying not to get overwhelmed.

 

It goes without saying that this all comes before my blog. I’m sure it probably seems like a stupid idea to relaunch a blog while this was all happening, however, I needed to do something productive, something to keep me connected with people and it is helping. Taking part in Fandom Five each week in particular has been fantastic, and every comment I get (especially on those entries) makes me smile. However, I have failed to complete two tasks for this month; review and look book. I am currently trying out some new products specifically for reviewing, so there will definitely be a review next month. The look book is a little trickier because I’m having problems finding a way to get decent photographs of the completed look. I think I am going to have to ask my fiancé very nicely to help with that one. But otherwise the first month of new content didn’t go terribly and I look foward to the next month!

From Prague to Masters

From Prague to Masters

It has been a crazy September and even now it’s almost at an end so much is just beginning! I spent 10 days in Prague, Czech Republic for our World of Warcraft Guild meet 2015 and for a celebratory holiday for graduating/my 30th birthday in a few weeks. It was fantastic to see our friends again as we’ve not been on a guild meet for a few years, and Prague was a gorgeous city. We went to a few specific places but most of the time we just picked a direction and walked. It is literally one of those cities where you feel like you are walking through a living breathing art gallery. The people were so friendly as well, and the food was amazing. Massive portions of gorgeous dishes. It’s taken Chris over a week to stop saying ‘I miss Czech food :(‘. Munich was at the top of my list of places I’ve visited but I think Prague has either taken over or is resting in joint first place. We only saw a part of the city, staying in the Old Town, and there was so much more to see. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere to visit.

 

We came back from Prague and I jumped straight into my Masters degree at the University of Strathclyde; Information and Library Studies. The weirdest part of this is suddenly finding myself a computer science student. I have always been an Arts student. I’ve only had one week of classes, and half the classes were cancelled due to it being week 1, so next week is my first full week. I am in Tuesday and Wednesday all day, which is a long time but there are two bonuses to this; 1) I have no 3+ hour breaks in which to get bored or feel ill in, and 2) all my classes are in a nice neat block and not across the campus from one another. I’ve already found the places to eat, drink and rest in those buildings and in the next few weeks I’ll start exploring the rest of the campus bit by bit.

 

I’m hesitant to say the next bit, because I’m aware I’ve said it before in regards to teaching… but… I really feel settled already. I feel like this is the right thing for me. I enjoyed teaching, but as my placement went on there were parts of it that began to wear away on me; the politics, the two-facedness of some people, the endless critiques and the huge amount of work. A lot of the teachers were welcoming, but some were not. However, everyone I’ve met so far in relation to my course – teachers, students, library staff at the Mitchel Library (placement) – have all been really nice, friendly and enthusiastic. And more importantly, I don’t feel overly geeky. I am a self admitted geek, it is who I am, and I’ve noticed teachers come in all flavours, often not geeky, sometimes looking down on geeky. However, when you’re sitting in your first lecture and the lecturer says ‘I think we’re all geeks here’ in response to a student apologising for being geeky.. I think I’ll be ok 😉 I also like looking around the class and seeing marvel t-shirts, harry potter necklaces and so forth. I need to break out the Star Wars and World of Warcraft t-shirts 😛 I just don’t feel judged and everyone I met at the Mitchel Library, which is the base of our placements (1 day a week in both semesters) they all welcomed us with open arms. Like, this is the next generation of librarians and we want to help them become a part of this amazing tradition and profession.

 

One thing that has been really important to me is that among the jargon and technical stuff, the point of what a library is, what it should/can be and it’s impact on the whole community (whether it be local, academic and so forth). It is important. It can and will change lives. That was why I looked at teaching; I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives, I wanted to help those who were ill or bullied and show them that they can do it. However, teaching only covers one subject and one aspect of people’s lives – being a part of a library means helping everyone and not being limited to one subject area. One of our assignments is to do research in 3 subjects, one arts, one sciences, and one engineering, to prepare us for working outside our comfort zone because we could be asked to research/find information of any topic at any time.

 

My placement really excites me because it feels like a continuation of my time in a school and a combination of all those thoughts. I’ll be working in the schools in Glasgow, and in simple terms, evaluating the current system the library is running in the schools. Basically the librarian is a part of Glasgow Libraries and then visits the school so many days a week. This means a lot of travelling around, and I’ll be splitting the huge list with my placement partner and doing it over both semesters. I’m going to be talking to the students, teachers and library staff to find out what they need and want. The most important part of this is it isn’t just an assignment, it is actual work. Everything I do in this placement matters and will be used by my supervisor to actually evaluate the system. So when I go in to a school and talk to the kids, I could be making a huge difference on their lives. But also I’ll be helping the teachers too. It is something that fits me and my desires/ideas/etc. for contributing perfectly.

 

I am also now a member of two libraries; Glasgow and my home council. Yes, that means exactly what it sounds like. MORE BOOKS. I now have access to a huge range of resources for my Masters, but we are actively encouraged to use the library for pleasure reading because that is what libraries are for! So I went through my massive to read list and now have two lists on goodreads:

There were some cross overs, and local library is still easier as it’s literally at the end of my road, but I will definitely be grabbing some from Glasgow libraries. I’ve already ordered two I have been dying to read and hopefully will be able to pick them up when I’m there on Thursday.

In other geeky news I have been playing Guild Wars 2 again. I will be popping back into World of Warcraft for bits and pieces, such as holidays like Brewfest, but otherwise my motivation has just ceased up and died. I went in to do the 5 pvp pet battles for pet battle weekend and just ended up going ‘meh’ and logging out again. I go through phases with everything, gaming is no exception. I will probably post more on GW2 and gaming in general soon.

It’s a 2.2!

Degree

Yesterday I got my degree classification for my English Literature MA (hons) and it was a 2.2! In my previous entry I wrote about how bad I expected the result to be and honestly, I was not expecting a 2nd at all. I stared at the screen for several minutes before the hyper hysterical reality hit me and I have been on a high ever since. I am just so happy. I am extremely proud of my fellow students for getting their 2.1’s, I know how hard they worked for them – but I’m not jealous. A 2.2 is beyond my wildest dreams for four years that have been emotionally and physically difficult. I almost gave up this year, considering the idea of resitting my final year and I’m really glad I didn’t now. I’m still waiting for my individual module marks, but it is most likely my creative writing dissertation which boosted my final mark. I seriously doubt my exam results were that good.

 

They say you can do anything if you believe in it, if you put the work in and I finally feel like that is true. I had health problems during my first degree, however, they were mostly in the final part of my final year. I had to get an extension for my dissertation and that probably cost me a 1st. I was and still am overjoyed with the 2.1 I got, just as I am with this result. There are always going to be ‘what ifs’ and sometimes, especially when it’s due to health reasons beyond my control, it is easy to get lost in them. What if I hadn’t been so ill? What if I’d not missed so many classes? At the end of the day I am very lucky that it doesn’t matter. I’m already accepted into a Masters so the result didn’t matter – wait no, that is incorrect; it didn’t matter to my career, to my future. To me personally it matters. I would have been satisfied with a worse result, yet I would have felt terrible. Like a failure. Everyone around me would have told me not to be so silly, that even just completing a second degree with my health issues is a marvellous achievement – and they would have been right. I still would have felt bad. I still feel bad about my A-level results all those years ago despite holding two undergraduate degrees now.

 

Last time I got my degree classification I had just come out of a bad relationship, and while I was proud of myself, my future was completely up in the air. I had this awesome degree, loads of knowledge and experience in my mind and no idea what to do with it. No confidence to do anything with it. That was 8 years ago, and several months later I would make a choice to return to a game I still play today, the MMORPG World of Warcraft, after a chance meeting at my cousin’s wedding. There I met Chris, the amazing and loving man who has helped me through this degree and built my confidence up one bit at a time. I still have bad days, they will never go away, but I have hope and I have love. This time I am surrounded by love and support, people cheering me on and wanting me to do well – for myself.

The future is bright; Post Graduate

Postgrad

I’ve been trying to get my brain to function well enough to write this since my exams ended two weeks ago, but thanks to a raging sinus infection it has been delayed. Usually the post-exam entry is me panicking about my exam results, especially as these are my final exams. I’ll admit I am a bit, but not nearly as much as I should be. BECAUSE I’VE ALREADY been accepted to study a post graduate course at  University of Strathclyde in Information and Library studies! I was literally jumping for joy when I was accepted, and since I already have a 2.1 degree classification I was accepted straight away. I’m also the first one in my family to get to Post graduate, and it has been a very hard won victory for me personally. So yes, I am feeling very proud of myself. I’ll feel even more so when I’ve actually done it of course, and I’m excited to enter into a new realm of career possibilities! The course itself is a mixture of information, law, computer labs, individual and group coursework and exams. I’m sure there will still be some essays in there, but it will be nice to be doing some lab work as well. The law side of things is different, however, I’m hoping my background in sociology helps with that.

 

It meant that I could go through my exams with a certain reassurance in regards to my future. I didn’t flunk my exams, but knowing that if they did go tits up it wasn’t the end of the world was very freeing. The exams went ok, with the exception of the last one – my body finally screamed ‘I’ve had enough!’ and flung a tantrum. So the end of the second question ended up a rambling mess and I had to leave early due to a pounding migraine. Our results usually come out in a few weeks, and I’ve heard rumours of the 12th June being ‘the big day’. Honestly, I’m not expecting a great classification. This year has been insanely difficult and the year before wasn’t exactly a peach either. I wouldn’t have gotten through it all without an amazing amount of love and support from friends and family, that’s for sure. Honestly, I am most looking forward to finding out my dissertation result, because it was my first original short story work that has been looked at critically. AKA a big deal.

 

I have more to write about (such as summer plans) but it will need to wait for another entry, my sinuses are making my brain go mushy again. I will finish on this note though; since my last exam I have successfully stuck to a strict diet! Now just need to add in the exercising 🙂