Thursday, 24 June 2010

Dental horrors and budget stress

One thing I hate, or should I say am terrified of is Dentists. I have a severe dental phobia which arose after one bad session with my last dentist. Due to this I've avoided them like the plague (given one of my friends habits of bringing home her microbiology specimens by accident, I probably avoid dentists MORE than the plague). With this in mind, imagine the lovely time I'm having right now; a chunk of something (probably tartar) fell from behind my lower front teeth yesterday. I'm not in any real pain, just keep poking my tongue in the hole and making a vacuum which is causing gum tenderness. Can I stop it? No, I was even doing it in my sleep. Hence me knowing I need to bite the bullet and go get a check-up with a scale and polish. Not being registered I found a local dentist willing to take me on (reliant on NHS dentistry due to no jobs bearing fruit).

So, now I know I have a dental appointment do I feel happier? No. The terror, which started last night as I became aware that I should go have a check up, is now raging like a stormy sea pummelling the shores and making all sane creatures hide. By the time I get to the appointment I may be a gibbering wreck. Even going into a dentists today to ask if they took NHS patients was enough to bring on a panic attack. Oh fun. Looks like a good few days till the end of the appointment on Monday. Hopefully I will manage to stay in control enough to get the thing over with. Fingers crossed and all that.

Along with the horrors of Dentistry, the entirety of Britain sat and waited for the emergency 'mass buggering', sorry 'budget' to be anounced this week. So how screwed am I? Well, as I now have no job and have to rely on benefits while writing job applications for my new profession, I'm not too screwed so far. However, getting a job is probably going to be tougher as research councils and universities feel the squeeze. This means the time reliant on benefits is likely to be extended, possibly to the point where the new 10% reductions come into force. It's not scary yet, but there are really big clouds on the horizon and the future is far from sunny.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Living with a long haired Charlie Brooker

Last night I heard frantic typing while I was trying to sleep. My partner was writing me a letter.

This morning I said I'd wondered if he'd started blogging - his response, 'No, I don't know what I'd write. I have nothing to say.' This coming from a long haired angry man was gob smacking. I suggested pick something from the news and let loose on it. I know he makes me laugh (side splittingly so) when he's on his 24 hour daily rant fest and figured others would like it too. We used to have friends over who'd spend most of the Sunday dinner trying no to splutter roast potatoes across the room as he went into full throttle sarcasm and bile. Basically I live with Charlie Brooker's twin, and that's the problem. My partner doesn't want to be seen as copying Charlie, even though he's been Mr comment, rant and bile since before Charlie became famous. Hence me being puzzled and exasperated and wanting to rant. WHY, would someone so intelligent and outspoken shut up because he's worried he'll be copying someone else. My partner is the equivalent of Charlie and Victor Meldrew blended together and brewed for 30+ years. If he let loose on a public forum it would be wonderful to watch, all our friends want to see him let rip and keep threatening to tape our dinners and post them on the net. Others beg him to go on stage, daily mail in hand, and wait for the eruption, 30 seconds isn't too long to wait while he reads the headlines is it?Why can a man with a natural talent like this take back seat. He has a go at his sister (an award winning young film maker who's uber lazy) for squandering her talents and he's doing the same because he doesn't want people thinking he's copying someone. ARGH. See, now he's got me ranting.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Job interviews just like buses

Anyone who has spent some time job hunting will know that job interviews are like buses, there are none for ages, then 3 arrive at once. Of course, the hard thing is when the job you want most is the first interview, then you have to act as positive about the others while you have every finger and toe crossed hoping you managed not too come over too bad on the one you want. This finger and toe crossing usually effects your performance at the other interviews (gives you a funny walk and makes it hard to shake hands for starters) meaning you are probably not going to get the other jobs so in reality having 'not cocked up' the 1st interview becomes even more important.

This interview juggling scenario is also effected by the urge to check your emails or wait by the door in case the letter arrives to say you have (or have not) got the job you want most. If the important email arrives as your waiting for the next interview it could lead to an interesting conundrum. Do you say I have just got a job which I'm taking so can we cancel the interview; do you stay quiet, do the interview and have them offer you the job 2 days later at which point you say sorry I have to decline; or do you stay quiet and try to increase your offers by playing they two offers against each other slightly. I say slightly as this last scenario could lead to you loosing both offers which would not be good.

Oh, Job interviews, you fickle beasts where people decide your worth on a few high pressure questions and possibly end up making the wrong choice and leave the right person sitting at a laptop looking for more places to practise their hand shakes.

As you can probably tell, I had an interview for a really good job, which I want, yesterday, I'm now using every zen thing I can not to sit on the door mat with my laptop email updating every 20 seconds and my eyes propped open with match sticks so I don't miss the you have (have not) got it moment.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Changing face of Britishness

I remember when I was little, people used to joke the reason we British used to talk so much about the weather was because it was a safe subject - non offensive and we have a lot of weather. Subjects which were unsafe included Religion and Politics as they were seen as having the potential to offend. Fast forward 20-30 years and now religion and politics are seen as THE things to be talking about. What are your views? Are you an Atheist? Do you accept other peoples views or beliefs even if they clash with your own? What about your political views? Who are you going to vote for? ....... The questions and answers keep coming. Most of my work colleagues (see people in the uni I still work round, contacts and friends made from work etc.) and most of my friends and family know my views and oddly enough without even trying to screen people by these views they agree with me. We are mostly Atheist Liberals (Voting Lib Dem in the next election). It's odd how some of these people I've known for years, yet it's only now that it's safe to talk about the untalkable that these very British people have started to discuss and admit to the things we have in common.

May you live in interesting times - supposedly a Chinese curse - I think I like interesting if it means we stop being worried about offending and instead get to know people better.

I'm Severia, I'm Atheist and Liberal. Nice to meet you.

Doing what makes you happy.

I recently had to make on of those brave decisions which could have big consequences for my foreseeable future (no I'm not talking about making the choice of who to vote for, that choice was made a long time ago) I'm talking about leaving a job which I'd got as a way to free up some time for thesis writing as I would no longer be worried about where the rent was coming from, and instead able to use job hunting time as thesis writing time. To a lot of people this may seem a minor decision, or even a stupid one. I got the job to ease stress from financial areas, although as it was a stopgap job it still meant I'd be scraping by on the underside of skint. However, instead of easing the financial worries I felt panicked. The job was sold to me as something you could do as you needed, that there would always be the hours you wanted and that the bonus was obtainable making your meager hourly wage something not too bad. Instead, the reality hit within the first two days. The contract stated they did not guarantee hours. In fact on the second day once the training was over one of my start up cohort was asked to go home as they had someone turn up who was not supposed to be working yet was allowed to stay therefore meaning the newbie was unable to do the important transition to full worker at the end of the training until the next day. Add this to the fact the company only let on they had only got half the computer stations they needed for work to be at full capacity and I got really panicked. I spent the next two days in a state of panic and worry knowing that on the Monday I was going to be working (possibly - if no-one else nicked my space) for a company I had lost faith in. This meant my thesis writing time at the weekend was demolished. NOT GOOD. On the Sunday I had enough, I phoned up and handed in my resignation.

I'm not scared of stress, what I don't like is companies who omit vital facts, or who lie. Having the two separate trainers contradict each other in blatant policy difference ways was also a bad move.

Sometimes no job is a better than a job, and this was one of those times.
Be brave and do something today which will make you happy.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Spartacus : Blood and sand - (a naughty enjoyment)

On Charlie Brooker's 'You have been watching' this week many people caught their first glance at 'Spartacus: Blood and sand'; a raw and primal romp though roman civilisation made specifically to appeal to our naughty selves. Having watched the first series all the way through I can definitely say, if you allow prudishness to push you away from Spartacus, you will miss one of the best slowly developing train crash going to happen style of drama's available. It was wonderful and gripping. The slow build up of deception, back stabbing and the continuous growing feeling that however things work out, it would not be with a whimper, but with a glorious BANG was wonderfully written and managed to balance the sex, gore and nudity which so many others have highlighted as a reason not to watch. To me Spartacus was better than any rom-com (deemed socially respectable), just as guilty a pleasure, but with more substance both physical and dramatic. It was a great piece of drama and should win awards for the writers and actors, there have already been some nominations, but more should come.

On a side note, best wishes for a successful treatment and speedy recovery to Andy (Spartacus) Whitfield who has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A wee story - Cheryl Bainbridge

Cheryl Bainbridge sat at her kitchen table the remains of her breakfast pushed to one side. She closed her eyes taking a deep breath before opening them, picking up the handgun which had been placed on the table when she came down this morning. The weapon felt heavy and cold in her hand as she rose putting it into her waistband. Shaking her head to clear it more she turned and walked out of her house.

Four hours latter a call went through on the police radios, "Officer down, 17 Rose street west, back alley. I repeat: Officer down, 17 Rose street west, back alley. All available officers to attend."

The first car to respond to the call was on the scene minutes later. An undercover van was parked close to the alley entry where it met with rose street. The police car pulled to one side as a suited man approached, his badge visible in his hand. " We are looking for a white van, license plate Charlie zero five, Alpha Sierra Foxtrot. Three suspects - 2 white males, 160lb's and 190lb's, dark brown hair; 1 asian male, 160lb's. Tattoo's visible. Oh and one of the guys was shot. " The description was interrupted by the arrival of the ambulance which slid past the patrol car into the alley.
As the suited officer went to return to his parter the officer who'd been writting the description down called over, "Who got shot?"
Turning back to the police car the suited officer replied " Cheryl Bainbridge. Odd thing was, she said she felt like something was going to go wrong today. She took out one of the perp's and clipped one of the others though. " Turning back to watch as the ambulance was being loaded the suited officer paused, under his breath he spoke so quietly the others almost didn't hear "I told her she'd be fine". The officers in the patrol car picked up the radio and called in the description and update. "187"

Monday, 8 March 2010

Job security - a myth

It's been a while since I turned my back on the possibility of working as an actor. The lack of job security is a problem when you are the sole source of income for your family. It's not going to be helpful, when the rents due, to be stuck going from audition to audition and not being in fashion right now as you've saturated the adverts or extras slots already. My logical brain said it's not worth the risks - do something else you are good at and enjoy with more likelyhood of keeping the wolf from the door. Hence, my years spent becoming the scientist I am today.

Now the reality of research science, you spend hours sending out your CV, hunting for elusive roles in areas you have skills, applying for agency jobs and trying to come over as great and not needy, while juggling writing papers and trying to source funding in your own right so you have some presence which shows you are worth employing or create your own job.

Once you get a job it's subject to funding continuing, or on small bitty contracts (I've known a 8 years postdoc Senior Research fellow stuck on 1 month contracts for 4 months) which means you never stop job hunting.

There is the same job security in the acting trade as in the sciences - only as an actor you may get enough money to see you through the dry times and while you are in a role you get to focus somewhat on the job at hand.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Hello there my old friend, Mr Doubt

A lot of scientists and writers suffer from the same problem - self doubt. It's most severe form seems to hit high achievers in the form of Imposter's syndrome. How long is it going to be before someone spots I'm a fraud syndrome. As someone who spans both the scientific and creative writing realms I'm not immune, in fact I seem to be more of a sufferer than most of my friends and colleagues. I know I'm a ruddy good writer, know I'm a good scientist, yet somehow when things get tough I get doubting.

So where does it all come from. As I mentioned above, Imposter's syndrome usually hits high achievers. The people who are usually high enough in their training/education or careers that they lack any real guides to tell them they are doing well. (Who's there to tell a professor they are doing well, or to tell them when things are going wrong? ) Of course, some high achievers are able to fly without any looking down. They are the ones who are possibly the real victims. Unable to look at themselves and their work critcally they may oneday come crashing down with a bang.
Maybe the best place to be is in the middle - not crippled by the self doubts but able to acknowledge you are not necessarily the professional person you portray.

One thing which should help all Imposters out there keep that balance is using PDP and goal/acheievment reviews. Take a good look at yourself, be honest and see how well you are doing, or what you have managed. If you are a high flyer, have a serious look at what you could have done better. Hopefully by doing this both high flyers and nervous imposters will be able to obtain the balance which is the best of both worlds.

Advice given, now if only I can take my own advice.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Sometimes the need to be creative burns so bright it hurts.

I'm always finding myself in the same dilemma. I love science, yet find being a scientist sometimes unfulfilling. I wonder what would have happened if I'd followed my dreams and stayed on the performing arts course. I wonder what would happen if I had the time I spend trawling through data and used it to write fiction or scripts instead. Could I earn enough to live off from a creative career? Is there any real job security in the sciences? I'm getting to the point where I'm fighting to keep a job I'm good at, but are wondering if being good and loving science is enough.
Recently I've been on one month contracts or a whopper of a 3 month contract. It's ridiculous that after 9 years of study and research I have less security than if I'd jumped at being an extra and commercials actor. If I'd gone down the acting or freelance writing route there is a chance I'd have earned more and still had the same chances of future security.

At present I have 1 book, and 4 papers to write. Instead I want to be writing the 2 scripts I have notes for and working on developing the novel I've had rattling round for years. Right now, the need to be creative is burning so bright it hurts.

Maybe I can use this blog as a way to keep me sane and get some creativity off my chest, at least until the book and papers have been killed.