Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Ema is flawed. If you want to help kids AND ensure the money is actually spent on educational maintenance, ie travel to college, textbooks, food etc, then scrap the system and implement my much clever system; use the money you'd normally give straight to student who then fritter it away on whatever, to subsidise bus fare even more to give kids free transport to college - if some of the £30 per week was to be spent on that anyway, it goes to the same place. Set up a college account at Waterstones or with Amazon, and the kids show proof of being at that college and a book list and they get their textbooks paid for that way. Work together with local businesses to provide HEALTHY meals for students - give them vouchers for meals in shops, the cost of which you subsidise.
It's pretty obvious that ema is hugely flawed.
Judging how much a kid gets based on their parents earning is ridiculous; for someone who's parents earn say £1000 over the means testing threshold, the system effectively assumes that all of that £1000 will be spent on that child's two years at college, regardless of other familial overheads and bills etc that the parents (whose income you test after all) have to pay for. Even though whose parents are further over the threshold have those things to think about! Having parents who earn above the means testing threshold does NOT assure that money goes to the child's education.
And extolling ema as an incentive to get kids to go to college? Rubbish. Give a kid £30 a week and tell him "you must spend this on books and paper etc, but we've got no way of checking whether that's what you're actually using it for, or if the tax payer's are giving you a night out, so have fun" and what do you expect to happen? There are plenty of people out there who see high school as a chore, and as soon as they hit 16 want to get out of the system, so why drag them back in with a hand out? So they can sit on classrooms, if they ever turn up, an distract those of us who want to work hard, who want that education? So they can be the 'problem' kids? Give them something more worthwhile to do! Don't give them 'something for nothing' to the detriment of others who actually want to remain in the education system.
I truly believe there is merit in a meritocratic system, and to be honest, the abolition of ema is a first step to that - it's harsh but it's true. Some people aren't built for college, and academia. But that's not to say they aren't 'worth as much' or 'less human' or any of this other foundational equality mirth - those not cut out for academia have other skills that society should by now have learnt how to utilise, for our sake and theirs.
I'm all for equality of opportunity, which is why I believe any ema-like system should not judge just on monetary grounds but on some degree of academic ability: every one has had the same opportunity at high school, so those that can show they actually want to continue with education should obviously have that chance.
So in essence, I agree with the scrappage of ema. It was an unfair system anyway, implemented poorly.
How did people manage to get through college before ema? Ask my brother and sister. Ask me. Or get a job. Thrift. Save and don't spend. Don't assume you 'deserve' a handout - life is hard and everyone has to to work at what they want. But as I say, removing ema should theoretically mean that the money previously used for it should be used in some other educationally beneficial manner, most importantly, for those most willing to learn and apply themselves.

God I sound like a Tory :P

And another thing: the British public really piss me off.
You vote for someone that isn't Labour because you blame them for every problem under the sun, voting for 'change', then you moan like a banshee when anything actually is changed!
Most of the people up in arms about all the reforms being made are those that don't understand them.
I do not for one moment proclaim to be an expert on any such reforms, which is why I'm keeping my mouth shut. I have initial opinions based on the little knowledge I do have, but I'm not going to push that down anyone's throat til I actually have all the facts and know more what I'm talking about.
Sure, if after consideration and possession of the facts I don't like it, then I'll say so, as everyone is so very entitled to do. But what bothers me most about a lot of the British public (vast generalisation I know) is how fickle and ignorant they are.
"We don't understand this, so we'll disagree and shout about it."
You wanted change? You got it. At least find out what that change is before you go running around with your juvenile name calling and partisan bullshit.
One thing the British do well is turn on what we have created.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Years 'Resolutions"

So I am in essence in agreement with the many people who say that if there's something in your life, or something about yourself that you want to change, why should you wait until some 'special' year preordained by society for such a move?
But at the same time, I don't see the harm. New Years is just another day, yes, but at the same time for many people its more than that. It is a new start. A line in the sand under all the rubbish that may have happened in the previous 365/6 days. A chance to turn over a new leaf.
Yes of course, if there are big things that need changing then that should be true on any day of the year, but its a marker, a big loud shouty marker saying "Look, you've been saying you want to do X, change Y, become more Z for god knows how long now? Just do it you utter bozo. Use me! I'm a day that gets lit on fire so it's not as though you can miss me! Start from now, go on!" and I don't see the harm in that.
I know that for myself, New Years is a strange time of year. When I was younger I would spend it with my parents one year, and then the next year they'd spend it with friends and I'd stay round my nans house, so obviously as nan is no longer with us, the night has a lot of memories in that sense.
And obviously, it carries a lot of other unpleasant memories for me. Although actually, to be quite honest its New Years day rather than eve thats more of a struggle. I say is, it's only been two years, and last year I spent the period in a cottage in Cornwall with my parents so I escaped from the city that would have been too much and so it didn't really touch me. My parents and I went out into the snow at about 2340 with a glass of wine each and went and stood so we could see the fireworks and look out over the countryside and the sea, and just had a quiet moment, because it was a big moment for all three of us really. It really did feel palpable that time, that shift from one year to the next. I felt momentarily like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, the weight of 2009 pressing down on me had become too much, too many memories. Obviously I know memories never go away, I've been living with them ever since, but you know what I mean. That that change of the year from 09-10 felt more real in a way.
And then there was the 10-11 change just now obviously. Yes, a big part of me 6 months ago would have said that I'd hope to be out celebrating with people for 2011, to feel ready for that, but most of me knows that was just wishful thinking. I still freak out in crowds a little, and more so at night. I'm better than I was a year ago, but it still shits me because I always used to love the night time and still do, but I'm not 'scared of the dark' now, but I'm definitely more wary and edgy in the dark than I used to be. I used to go for walks at night just for the hell of it, but now if I have to walk anywhere at night my eyes are darting everywhere and my skin prickles at every shift in the wind, and every noise is louder in my ears. But like I say, I was ever worse a while back. Now I can cope at night. But crowds are another thing.
So the fact I wasn't up to going out this year, ignoring the fact I have no friends to have gone anywhere with :'D I suppose I shouldn't let get me down. Better to wait til I'm ready and have people around me I trust than rush out and freak out right?
Anyway, I digress. Standard.
My point is that I know some people get angry about the whole fuss made over New years, and on the whole I do too, but the difference is I understand what it can mean to people and how people make it a big deal for their own reasons, and if they don't hurt anyone else whats the harm.
So this year, I have sort of made some New Years Resolutions. Yes, they are things I've wanted to change for a while, some are ones that have been 'in progress' for a while, but why not take the opportunity to give myself a kick up the backside? Sometime being in a herd of sheep can be a good thing; you've always got the farmer to get you moving right?

So, my new years resolutions, if anyones bothered. Actually, sod that, even if you're not at least by writing them here someone else will have seen them so I'm not just going to have myself to answer to.

Do well in my A Levels. Says it all. I want to get out of Exeter now, too many memories in this place. I'll be scared of uni, and I'll struggle so hard come exams, but I want to do as well as I possibly can.

Be more organised. Obviously related to the latter, but just in general too.

Improve my timekeeping. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows how atrocious I am at being on time for anything, so I need to work on that :')

Keep writing more. Simples. Been neglecting it again and that makes me sad. I think its because I've been getting exasperated more at the inability to express myself fully, but I dont want writers block again so I need to power through.

Start up my creative outlets again. I want to pick up my guitar again and get writing songs again. I'd gotten to the point where I was so nearly ready to perform, but then my confidence was stolen. Sometimes I dont think I've got the worst singing voice in the world, but so far if I'm singing in my room and I hear the front door open I clam up, my stage fright for singing is that bad. I also want to get back into art again. Sketching, painting, drawing, whatever, I want to get it going again. I've just ordered some new ProMarkers and another Moleskine to get doing some stuff there, so hopefully I can crack the back of that.

Lose weight. I know its one that SO many people make year after year, and that I've said it before, but there you have it. My lifelong struggle with weight will fucking well end this year. I nearly ended it once, in year 11 I lost like, 4 stone in 6 months I think? and was at my thinnest and happiest. Then the depression train hit, which apparently in my case comprises of a bed, a sofa, and every other carriage is a free all you can eat buffet :') and I fucking ballooned. Seriously. I don't want to say how heavy I was at my biggest ie not that long ago (6 months ish?), maybe when I've lost more I will, but right now I still feel like I'm too close to that weight to admit it. Even though I know I'm not; thanks to the dieting in the first half of last year I am actually still roughly 4 stone lighter than my heaviest, not the same as I was in year 11 and lost 4 stone - way more than that - but still, having lost that 4 stone I am now roughly at what I was in year 11 I think. I'm speaking roughly here because I haven't got the figures in front of me.
But yes. I am sick and tired of being this fat. I'm 18 ffs and I hate everything I see in the mirror, and it isn't healthy. And I mean that in every respect. So I will get rid of it. Lets just say that every time I've dieted my ideal ideal weight has always been 10-12 stone, with 10 being like my ideal image in my head and 12 being probably more realistic, ish. So this year I am determined to at least, firstly, get back down to what I managed in year 11 which if I'm brutally honest was just one last push away from the ideal goal, and then hopefully get down to it. No, not hopefully. I will.
I've tried so many diets so many times, and I know that essentially it is easy; eat less and do more. But unfortunately I am a big food lover and apparently have the metabolism of a fucking elephant, or a sloth, or something with a really slow metabolism, so I've always been a bigger kid. But I hate it. So I will change it.

Find more confidence. Be happy. Smile more. Obviously all of what I want isn't going to come simply, or easily, or magically, and as I said yesterday I know this road to recovery or whatever you want to call it is by no means easy or short, but this year I want to make real strides along it. Going back to college was a big step. Meeting twitter people at the tweet up was a big step. I made some baby steps this year, and some bigger ones, when I think back I guess overall I should be proud of how far I've come this last year. I've gone from being more or less a total recluse, to having some mild semblance of a life. As hard as it is to believe sometimes, I'm not all bad. I have good intentions and a good heart. I don't like hurting people and I like making people laugh. I want to have parts of that girl I was back, when I found more confidence after losing that weight, and I will. I'll get those parts back, and I'll make the overall package even better. I can be what I want to be, cant I? Yes. I have to believe that I can. And hey, if worst comes to worst and I really struggle at losing the weight and what have you, then i will seriously consider using that money for plastic surgery :'D (she says like she hasn't seriously thought about it already).

If I'm honest, all of this that I want to change about myself, it isn't just for me. Sure, becoming who I want to be will make me happier, but thats only part of it. There are people in my life now, and people I hope to have in my life more in the future, that I want to be better for. Better in every sense - you know the whole "no one will love you until you can love yourself" thing? Well I guess its not entirely true because people love different things, but the element that I get from it is this; you can't let anyone love you, and really believe they love you, unless you even like yourself and believe you're worth it. That's the boat I'm in I guess, and I want to jump ship. I want to get on a bigger boat, with room for two of us and not just me in my neurosis, because really, there's more than enough room in my heart because I just love everyone, friends, family, whatever. At the minute it seems the only person I don't have room for in there, is myself, and I guess that has to change.
I have a lot to give, and I want to feel able to give it without constantly thinking about myself and how scared I am, and without freaking out and over analysing etc.
So my reasons for wanting to change, to better myself, are not entirely selfish because a happier me benefits other people right?

Anyway, its gone 1am now and I was supposed to be getting an early night tonight. Good one.
As usual I still have so much I want to say, but I'll just end up talking round in circles and blathering on about nothing and everything as I get gradually tireder, so I'll leave it there.

This is a new year, though the months and days have the same names and nothing changes there, I will.

Happy new year you beautiful people.

Thinking ahead and out.

Note; as per usual, this started as one thing and then sorta... developed a life of its own? I know I haven't written anything on here for a while, but that might change this year, who knows! Anyway, yeah, this is more or less a stream of consciousness.

I'm the kind of person who thinks so far ahead. Too far ahead maybe.

I want to be in a relationship with someone by the time I go back to Australia, and I want them to come with me. While I was there, I'd go off on little walks on my own every now and again, at dusk or at dawn, or even in the middle of the day, and I'd find these little spots and be like… "wow. I want to share this with someone." The path down the spine of Palm Beach/Summer Bay approaching dusk, when the light swam and glittered through the leaves of the trees and danced on the colder sand in the shadows, that led to a little sandy clearing on the edge of Barranjoey Head, nestling into the cliff and sloping down towards the gorgeous stretch of Palm Beach, where I could see one couple silhouetted in the distance walking along holding hands. Uluru at sunset, naturally. That little boat house by the river in Perth, that I drove or walked past nearly every day; I want to walk down the little jetty and sit in there, dangling our feet in the water while we have a picnic, then when the sun gets high you can fall asleep on me in the corner or we'll cross the road and doze under the huge trees, draped across roots as thick as my legs. Busselton - the winding streets and the parks, and the jetty, jeez that jetty at sunset. And all these other little places just dotted along the Great Ocean Road that so obviously could be romantic, and would have been… if I wasn't with my parents :') like Apollo Bay, to wake up and just open the door right onto that beach. And oh god, how could I forget Monkey Mia? The views, the beach, the sea, and the dolphins. (Everything there just seemed so… full, and happy. Naturally I'm sitting here getting mega nostalgic for Australia now and totally wanting to be back there, and not just for the romantic bits!)

It's like I look into a version of my future, more like a wish, a dream or whatever, and I can see so clearly how I want things to be with 'my girl', but everything else is blurry. My face is blurry, and my body is barely there; obviously this is reflective of my desire to look different, to lose weight and transform my body but my lack of confidence at my ability to ever do so. Age is indeterminate, neither of us are any age at all, it could be tomorrow I'm seeing, or 5 years away from now; maybe because I've never actually been in a relationship, only 'nearly' ones or whatever, and because I've never had anyone in my life as more than a friend really, because of all this I am so ready to be in a relationship - all of this probably affects this 'dream' in so far as I could happily do all this stuff now (in theory) but know its not likely to happen for years aka ever.

And you never have a face. Now this is fairly obvious, because I can't possibly know who you are. Every now and again when I literally do dream anything like this ie actually at night, if I've been thinking about any one person in particular their face will usually be there, but only sort of, like a half face that I can kind of recognise but isn't entirely who its supposed to be. But you've all had dreams, you know how I mean with people's faces and stuff. But by and large, you're there, but not physically there. Well, you cant be really can you, because you don't exist there. But you know what I mean.

In those dreams, and whenever I think about things like that, or whenever I'm somewhere and I think "I don't want to see this place again unless I have someone to share this with", or whenever I see couples in town and wish I could just twine my fingers with someones, you just don't have a face. I can see you, I can look right at you though. I can look right into your eyes that aren't there and drown in them. I can run my fingers over the lips that are never there and smile and the softness. I can kiss the nose that isn't there, everything. Its strange.

I don't know. Im 18 years old, overweight, unfit, socially struggling (although no longer practically a recluse like last year), and lonely. I'm so bored of my own company. And in the nicest way possible, I'm really bored of my family's company too. They literally still are the only people I see. Obviously its been different these last few months as I've physically been in college and so see people in the day, but I come straight home after college all the time. I don't socialise. Over this Christmas holiday I've seen Hannah once as she's back from Uni for Christmas, and that was when her and her parents came round for christmas nibbles and what not. I may have plenty of people to talk to on twitter, but I don't have any other physical people in my life. I knew it'd take time once I went back to college for the social side of things to happen, and overall its gone well, in that I half expected at this point to still be a nervous wreck if I had to so much look at anyone in college, but some days I feel almost like I used to again, like I'm emerging from my feet thick shell. But its still a little galling that I don't have any 'friends' as such. I find myself comparing it to when I started college the first time and getting sad, but I know thats stupid because its completely different. Then it was the first year of college, AS, and so we spent like the first 3 days of college just having like tutor group induction so by the end of the first week we'd all gone for lunch and what have you together already, plus I already knew a few girls in my tutor group. Also it was a drama tutor group, and somehow they're always a bit more immediately social and what have you. So yeah, the only physical human beings I see most days are my family, and even thats gonna change soon when my sister goes back to Australia :(

It really is the holidays that do it to be honest. Like I say, the last few months I haven't thought of any of this so much because in the day I am seeing other people, but being off of college and having no one to see feels way too much like how I spent the majority of last academic year, so its throwing my off kilter I guess.

I just feel ready for life again in the most basic sense. Ready to have friends again, ready to smile, ready to laugh, ready to do nothing but with someone, ready to talk, ready to live, and ready for love. But then obviously, at the same time I'm still so not ready, and running scared. But then I think; who's really ever 'ready' for life? No one chooses to be born, and once you're alive you don't exactly have much of a say in it do you? Who's ever really 'ready' for anything life throws at them? Yes, of course I have an 'excuse' etc in that I've been through the mill these last two years, been through more than most people my age blah blah, but still. Every time I say I'm scared of something or annoyed at myself and my life, someone always says that; "you've been through this blah blah" and its like, while it may be true, it doesn't help. Its like… I don't know… its like if you've broken your arm and its in a cast and a sling, and you're trying to reach something and you cant so you get really frustrated because it feels like you're not you, and someone asks whats up, you tell them, and then they say "well you have got a broken arm." "Oh really? I hadn't noticed. Tell me, how does telling me that help me reach that jar of biscuits at all? Exactly." You see what I'm saying? While some days I feel so sorry for myself about everything and want to scream to the world "Pity me! Love me! Buy me things!" etc (which is utterly ridiculous and only lasts a second or two, but you know what I mean), for the most part its just so frustrating that I still feel so held back. I know that I'm the only one holding me back now, that its my insecurities and paranoias and stuff that is all thats stopping me from doing the things I want to do, being the person I want to me… but like the broken arm, knowing that doesn't change anything, not really.

I don't know. I think far too much, I know that. You know that! I cant switch off ever and I hate it. I overthink, overanalyse, overwatch, overreadinto, whatever you name it i do it. I know I'm the only one that can do anything about any of the things that get me down, and I know everything is still a gradual process, and I know its still, in the grand scheme of things in this 'recovery' process (which I apparently am still in) that its still early days. I've seen cases of other people who have had similar experiences to me taking tens of years to 'recover', if they do, if they don't become a shadow of their former self and never really get back to 'normal'. But sometimes a shadow isn't a bad thing, its just a new thing. Sometimes a shadow can fit where we cant. So I guess what I'm saying is that while I accept theres no way I'll ever get back to the me I was before all this, I don't have to see that as a bad thing. Even though I'm now in this limbo state where I feel like I don't know who I am, what I am, when where and why I am, I have to remind myself that its ok to feel that, daily. I can see the last two years as wasted, ruined, soiled and marred, (which I always will in part) or I can see them as transition. Transition into this new me, whoever the hell she is! The transition is still going on, and maybe it will for another good few years, and maybe one day I'll wake up and realise 'I'm there' - happy. Maybe one day I'll wake up beside someone, and realise I've been happy for months, I've found the me I was always looking for inside myself, and I finally like myself. And love the one beside me.

Or maybe I'll wake up and push one of many cats off the end of my bed and begin yet another day as a lonely cat lady. Only time will tell. Time that I am so bored of waiting on, but what can you do? Push on, power through, soldier on, breathe in, breathe out, rinse, lather and repeat.