New term, foot on gas

It’s January 2016  and a new term starting. So far, after one term, I have read loads, have a basic understanding of Freudian theory and feel ready to go on to critically reading his work. But first…

I had a team meeting on Thursday about RD1 and guess what? Another rewrite, but only in one section and only because I had put too much detail in. Yes, too much! Make it simpler, I was told, it’s for an academic committee who aren’t unduly interested in your particular research, just in the quality of the proposal. So, although I would rather have got rid of it and moved on, RD1 re-entered the building for a bit more TLC.

I dedicated yesterday to it. I rewrote the relevant section as per advice and tended to my bibliography: a minor reorganisation into primary and secondary texts and ensuring that it fits in with MHRA style guide. This involved inserting place of publication which I had omitted in the original; also replacing subsequent texts by the same author with a ‘double m dash’. Well, I googled how to make a ‘double m dash’ and I got sound advice on making an ‘m dash’ but nothing about a doubler, so if anyone reading this knows how I do that in Word on MacBook, please leave instructions in the comments boxes below.

I read through my revised proposal, wrote the RD9 record of the Thursday meeting then went for lunch. I saved sending the email with attachments until lunch was sorted, read through again, decided on the green light and it has wung (sorry, winged looked too much like a colloquialism for complaining!) its way to the team. Fingers crossed, third time lucky. I was told that two rewrites is not unusual for this job, and I do know that from talking to others who are, like me, on the starting line of their PhD. Still, it would have been nice to be rid of it; the submission date is the end of next week. So let’s hope I am rid of it now. Angelica, the lit-crit expert on the team, assured me she is very happy about the content of my PhD, so that was reassuring.

The rest, as they say, is reading. I have finished reading Freud’s Three Essays On The Theory of Sexuality and thoroughly enjoyed it, which was a bonus. Who knew Freud was such an amusing writer? I don’t agree with everything he says: for instance why does he go on about penis envy so much? More likely, I should think, that the little girl was pissed off with the amount of freedom the little boy was given to climb trees and behave in what Society would have seen as an unseemly fashion for her. Nothing to do with his appendages; except that, of course, it is the penis that is the first evidence of ‘boy’ at birth, and the signifier ‘girl’ is that she is without one. If Freud had been a woman, or had been writing at a different time for society, would boys have suffered vagina envy and longed for castration? Just a thought! I have started a critical reading of the book, taking notes in my own words, which is not easy, because Freud’s words are so good. So I am highlighting relevant passages that will prove most useful to my research.

The rest of the week has been about health issues. On Monday I went to my aerobics class for the first time since I damaged the ligaments in my foot in September. The foot was a bit swollen in the evening and a bit sore the next day, but nothing too worrying. So I decided to go to pilates on Friday. I have felt stiffness in places I didn’t even know I had muscles as a result this weekend. But the foot survived, and the stiffness can only mean those old muscles are toning themselves up, so I’ll be going back for seconds next week.

My partner had a hospital appointment on Tuesday, following up a minor ongoing problem I won’t bore you with. The upshot is he has to have a minor op on Monday. Yes, less than a week after seeing the consultant. Don’t complain to me about NHS. I think it’s wonderful, and if government would back off and give it the praise and support it needs instead of constant criticism and  selling it off in profitable packages to private enterprise it would all be to the good. Another loved one had a six monthly scan to monitor her ongoing treatment for malignant melanoma, so now a tense two week wait for results from that. The scan process involves drinking a cocktail of something iodine based, the taste masked with a choice of fruit cordial. She  calls this the worst cocktail bar in Manchester. I have written a poem about that, and it is at the end of this blog.

So, that’s it for another Sunday. Must go, I have some more Freud to read. Speak again next Sunday.

 

The Worst Cocktail Bar in Manchester

 Waitresses dressed as nurses come to the tables,

greet you cordially, take your cocktail order: Strangled

Gland, Corpse Reviver, Black and Blue, Lacy Legs.

 

You consider Lacy Legs, but settle for Black and Blue.

You knock back two glasses, pull a face, wait 15 minutes,

take a chaser. You look around, see people downing

 

orange cocktails, yellow. One woman sips a white liquid

like breast milk. You pour another glass, retch, hold

your nose, keep it down. Something in it smells

 

like aniseed but not quite. You swear you’ll never drink

Pernod again. You save the last shot for just before the scan.

Really, you say, this is the worst cocktail bar in Manchester.

 

You try not to lick your lips, begin to feel the blood heat

coursing. On the way home you ride with the windows down.

In the back seat I ignore the December freeze, keep my gloves on.

 

Rachel Davies

Dec 2014

 

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