On failure and other misfortunes

(Warning: contains a small amount of blood and a great deal of frustration)

***

On Sunday I admitted failure. 

I had failed to finish the book in time to send it to the printers before leaving to catch the plane, despite staying up all night to work on it.

I was quite miffed (ok, a lot miffed)..

There’s not a lot of point being miffed if you aren’t in a position to change anything. I decided to look up instead.

On Monday I was so busy looking up, that I didn’t notice the small piece of volcano sticking up in the middle of the otherwise even path.

..and that dear readers, is why looking down isn’t always a bad thing…

Luckily I was equipped with water and tissues and DB had a plaster with him.

Onwards and upwards!

That evening, on the way to get dinner, I missed the step onto the pavement and stubbed the same toe, removing the plaster and the flap of skin I’d created earlier.

Back to the apartment for a new plaster.

I don’t particularly appreciate losing skin, so I gave up on looking up, and decided to look down, and watch what my feet are doing instead. 

That worked well for a day or so – until I went to the toilet while the window was open. And even that was fine until I stood up…

An almighty yell and a lump on my head later, and I was convinced that looking down doesn’t help much either.

***

I think I’m going to keep my feet up and my head down, and get on with my revision. Maybe I should even look forward to the exams?!

On not talking about Christmas

It’s the 25th of November.

That makes it exactly a month until Christmas.

I am ignoring that, and all other Christmas related things.

Between now and then, I have:

4 exams to revise for

a book to finish compiling and find pictures for and format and send off in time for printing

3 aquariums to look after, including water changes, getting rid of the duckweed and reinstalling a pump/filter

a 10 day holiday which DB wants to cancel because I’m planning on revising through it and he thinks staying here and working is more efficient…

I think I might not acknowledge that Christmas is even a thing until the 23rd when I will already be on the way home, and passed caring too much.

On writing my fingers to the boneskin

I have “Daumenknochenhautentzündung”.

“Thumb bone skin inflammation” sounds pretty impressive, but German is a whole lot cooler :). I think the Latin is periostitis but I may well be wrong.

I didn’t know that was even a thing until yesterday, I just knew my thumb hurt.

Apparently, all bones are covered with a very thin, very delicate layer of “skin” responsible for connecting them to the ligaments and nerves and blood supply and who knows what (ask someone medical). If you repeatedly bash a part of your body where the bone is close to the surface (like your shin, or your fingers) there’s not enough flesh to cushion the impact, and you run the risk of damaging the aforementioned boneskin (which presumeably has a fancy Latin name like periost).

According to the internet, this kind of damage is generally caused by running in the wrong shoes.

According to my doctor, it can also be caused by writing too much. The repeated pressure of holding a pen, when you aren’t used to it, is enough to disturb the boneskin. Seems there was a reason behind my year 2 teacher’s constant critisism of how tightly I held (and still hold) “writing implements”.

My thumb, the one that hurt when I wrote all those revision cards, is suffering from accute Daumenknochenhautentzündung. That basically means it really hurts and I shouldn’t use it for a week or so.

Be warned.

🙂

 

On eyesight and hindsight

My brother says hindsight is a wonderful thing. I think eyesight is better. Which doesn’t at all negate the wonderfulness of hindsight..

I am currently in the joyous position of having both.

The hole in my eye has healed itself (with help from the drops and gel), and I have survived the exams. Both of which are Good Things, even if the waiting, both for the check up and the results was and is (respectively) a nuisance.

In future, I will aim (as I routinely promise myself after almost every exam) to start revising earlier, and to actually learn the parts I want to (and unfortunately usually do) flip past, dismissing as, “not exam-worthy”.

I will also orientate myself around the questions we work on in class. I don’t appreciate rote learning, but it seems thats what’s expected here. When in Rome and all that…
Here’s to 4 schoolfree weeks! 🙂

On “re: vision”

I have an exam on Saturday.

Actually. That’s not true.

I have 2 exams* on Saturday.

The date’s been set for several months, but somehow I managed to ignore how fast time slips away when you’re not looking properly.

A month ago I made a list of topics we’d covered, and topics we still needed to cover in class.

A couple of weeks ago I started going over my notes and flicking through the text books.

At some point last week I realised I hadn’t really got a clue about any of the things that were going to come up in the exam. A mild panic later, and I made up my mind to get down to revising “properly”.

I revise best when people ask me to tell them about whatever I’m learning. People ask better questions (and can check if I’m talking rubbish) when they can read them off revision cards. As a bonus, writing things down helps me remember them too.

It seems revision in general, and writing cards in particular, is something that needs practising. 😛

I’ve written masses of notes in class without any problems, but writing revision cards seems to be a different kind of stress. My hands ache. My wrists are sore. My fingers are tired. My thumb’s so tired it’s almost gone to sleep completely (I hope it wakes up soon – I need them both!).

Today is the umpteenth day of staring at the heap of ex-forest on my desk (and ignoring the heaps invading the surrounding vicinity, and the dining room table, and the sofa ….). I am thoroughly bored of writing revision cards. I can’t stop though, because I have no time. I don’t remember ever starting to revise this late before, and I can’t remember it taking so much time up, but I think that’s just selective memory loss ;).

***

I was originally planning to write a post about how it must be a sign you’ve done too much revison when getting-up-to-clean-the-toilet-because-the-cleaner’s-been-on-for-10-minutes becomes a highlight of the afternoon. Then I thought about writing about how tragic it is to run out of whichever coloured cards you were using for Topic A and have to use Topic B’s colour, just when you were starting to think you were actually the slightest little bit organised. Then I thought about how dangerous coffee is, and how fizzy you get when you drink the first full cups ever, and how I am going to have to stop as soon as the exams are over before I can’t imagine a life without it.

I say “planning”, but I really mean the ideas were swirling around the back of my head because I wasn’t going to give myself time away from the revision cards to write any of them down.

This is what you’re getting instead.

***

This morning I got up with DB, prepared to sit at my desk and inflict more pain on my writing-thumb.

And then I had to go to the doctor’s.

Nothing like a good adrenalin kick first thing in the morning.

***

I am a glassblower. I am trained to look at reflections in shiny objects. Especially round shiny objects. You can tell a lot about how round things are when you look at the patterns the reflections make.

This morning, once DB had roared off on his motorbike (leaving me in a bleary sleepy haze, to have a bath and get dressed and write lots) I innocently looked in the mirror.

I shall have to make a mental note not to do that anymore. It’s dangerous.

You know why?

I don’t either.

***

My eye had a dent in it.

<insert silent swearing here>

After blinking and looking again didn’t make it go away, I put eyedrops in and phoned my optician. She said I was welcome to come in and see her, but that she’d rather I went to see a doctor.

So I did.

I sat in the overcroweded waiting rooom and wrote revision cards in front of shuffly old people and loud, wriggly, small children. It’s got to be good for me though – Kate says one should learn in as many places as possible….

***

It seems there’s a hole in my <insert germanised latin name for front-of-eye here>.

Apparently it’s not visible unless you dye the surface yellow and shine very bright lights at it.

Maybe eyedoctors should do glassblowing training before going to doctor-school? 😉

Anyway. I don’t know how it got there, and neither does the doctor, but at least when you know it’s there you can do something about it. I have a new sort of eyedrops and a gel. WHOO!

***

And now, after a very pleasant interlude I’m going to get back to those revision cards – I have an exam to learn for afterall!

 

*on the content of 4 Textbooks

On Perfect days

(Anyone who read my earlier posts – or spoke to me during May – knows I was invited to spend a week “messing about on a river” (and connecting lakes). This post should have been posted directly after getting back (mid June) but somehow wasn’t. I’m going to post it now anyway)

________________________________________________________________________________

Some days are just so perfect nothing could make them better. They’re even perfect in the moment you’re living them, not just in your memory afterwards.

They’re pretty few-and-far-between, but they do exist.

The first Saturday of the boat trip was one of them. The rest of the boat trip was fantastic too, but there’s something about doing things for the first time that makes them special.

This post won’t do it justice, but I’m going to write about it anyway in the hope I can convey a fraction of the amazingness to screen-paper.

______________________________________________________________________________

I arrived on Friday, was picked up from the station, fed, watered and sent to bed.

I woke to the promise of warm breadbuns for breakfast. By the time I was up and dressed the promise was reallife and waiting for me on the table.

We packed the car and after a brief detour to the workshop to do some last-minute finishing off, we found ourselves parked in a playground on the banks of a huge lake on the outskirts of the city looking at a row of motor and sailing boats, one of which was to be our home for the next week-and-a-bit.

We unloaded the contents of the car into a heap on the pier and I misused a kid’s trampoline while R parked the car where it wouldn’t disturb anyone. I love trampolining, even if the sign forbids anyone over 14 the pleasure of bouncing. Luckily the trampoline police were on duty elsewhere and I got off with being laughed at by R as he came back to start loading the boat.

The only way onto the boat was a thin wooden plank leading off the wooden pier and across the water.

The plank wobbled.

Also the boat rocked if you touched it. I don’t balance better when holding onto something unstable.

I’m not particularly scared of walking on curbstones, and the plank was considerably wider than a curbstone. However. Something in the knowledge that the plank was at least a metre above the water, whereas the curbstone is a maximum of maybe 10cm above the road, made walking along it that much more nervewracking.

Having made it to the boat carrying considerably less than I could carry along a curbstone, R wisely decided I ought to stay inside the boat. He fetched the rest of our stuff while I stowed it somewhere it’d be out-of-the-way yet accessible for the rest of the week.

As soon as the pier was empty we were off 🙂

R’s friend A and A’s nephew D were already onboard A’s boat and waiting for us to get our butts in gear and catch them up.

The first port-of-call was the filling-station.

Filling a boat is very strange. For starters you have to pull up alongside the fuel pump in your boat and then tie it up before you can fill it. I don’t drive, but I’ve never seen anyone tie their car up, and I don’t remember ever tying my motorbike up. I clambered out of the boat and stood on the ‘bank’ out of the way.

When the tanks were full, we untied the boats, moved 50yards up the river and ‘parked’ (involving more tying up) so we could go shopping. We didn’t want to leave the boats unattended, so A and D went shopping first, then it was our turn. The shop was a good 5 minute walk from the river so they brought the shopping trolley back with them. We laughed, took photos 🙂 and walked the empty trolley back to the shop. R refused to walk the trolley back after we’d shopped, so we left it in its trolley shed and carried our shopping back to the boat.

We now had food for the boat and food for us. We needed water. We stopped at a very small port, where a man threw the end of a hosepipe at us and wished us a good day when we threw it back to him.

All things being sorted, we were finally ready to go.

 

It didn’t take long before R suggested I drive. Drive? Steer? Whatever one does to boats to make them go where you want them to go.

As I said above, I don’t drive, but I was curious and 8km/h is a speed even I can handle, so I agreed and he set about telling me how it works. I slid onto his side of the ‘sofa’ and took the wheel. A drove in front of us setting both the speed and the direction, so I just had to follow him without ramming him, the banks of the river, the other boats, or anything else really. There’s also a guage to tell you how deep the water is. Running aground does you no favours.

It seems I am surprisingly good at steering a boat :).

Having discovered this, R relaxed and lay back in the sun. I can’t watch people being lazy if I’m not 😉 and I was supposed to be revising for my upcoming Glass-Theory-Exam, so I dug my 400 painstakingly written 13×7 cards out and handed them to R with the request to go through and ask me the questions. The rest of the day was spent with me behind the wheel and R behind the cards.

Turns out R is dyslexic and, apparently, my handwriting is appalling. Reading is something that came pretty naturally to me, so I don’t really understand how it must feel not to be able to, even if I can understand not making out other peoples’ handwriting. He stumbled through the question while I tried to work out what I might have written, then I answered and he tried to work out what I might have written and whether it coincided with what I answered.

R knows loads – often more than the teacher – and can [usually] explain it in a way that makes me want to listen, so each card became the starting point for a mini-lesson.

 

After a while we arrived at the lake. A threw the anchors out and R and D attached our boat to theirs and we all went swimming (very cold, but okay once you were in).

I lay on deck “to dry” ;). R brought me a Thermarest which meant I lay there a lot longer than strictly necessary.. 🙂

A started washing his boat, I can’t watch people being lazy when I can’t, but I can’t watch people being quite so active while I’m laying around doing nothing (actively watching them be busy doesn’t count) so I washed ‘our’ windows. I’d been irritated by all the dead flies and gunk on the windscreen while driving but hadn’t wanted to say anything… This was a fantastic opportunity to do something about it – and prove my year of washing school windows was good for something.

R sunbathed – apparently watching people clean stuff helps him sleep ;).

As soon as everything on A’s boat and the windows on ours gleamed and glistened (wonderful words :)) we settled down for a BBQ and an evening in. Our boats were joined together so that we were practically all in one ‘room’. The BBQ was on theirs, so we were able to relax (even more) and wait to be served :).

In our supermarket dash it seems R and I had stumbled across the best lamb ever. I wouldn’t recognise the packaging if I was looking for it, and I don’t even remember what the shop was called, which is a bummer, but maybe its bestness wasn’t entirely due to the sheep…

 

D is clumsier than I am 🙂 He was our dinner-entertainment, dropping and spilling things to the amusement of all (and he laughed with the rest of us, so either he’s a fantastic actor or he really didn’t care).

A washed up, R lit the oil lamps and anti-fly-candles and I sat with a Baileys-and-milk listening to the Irish country band giving a concert on the far side of the lake (even if I didn’t believe R had booked them especially) and watching the stars come out.

 

I don’t think anything could have added to the “idylle” (idyllic-ness).

On writing Revision Cards

I have decided to be super organised.

Not as organised as I said I would be in October, but still a good sight better than I sometimes am.

I have exams in the last week of July.

My last ‘block’ (46-50 hours of lessons) is the first week of July.

Usually I would finish the last block, realise I’m 2 weeks away from the exams and panic – locking myself away from the world and living on frozen (and baked) pizza.

This time I have decided to revise all the things I’ve learned in the last 3 blocks, so that I know ‘everything’ 😉 by the end of June. That way I only have to revise the new stuff in the 2 middle July-weeks (thus locking myself away from the world for 2 months instead of 2 weeks ;)).

Having done a lot of exams to get this far, I know I revise best when I get to talk lots ;).

I’m not such a fan of talking to myself so I need people to help me.

I need people to find their way into a subject they most likely have less than no idea about.

I need people to ask me relevant questions and be patient with me while I squirm about on my seat working out what they want to know.

I need people who are willing to try and work out what I mean when I finally have an answer, and to decide if it fits the question.

Because most of my questioning-victims aren’t so well versed in Glass-Theory, and because my school-notes are a huge mess of brightly coloured scribbles and arrows, I’m going through them and writing the most important things onto A7 cards. I’m even making it easier for them by writing a question on one side and the condensed answer on the back.

Now they just have to be able to convert my squiggles into writing and add the correct grammar.. 😛

That’s the plan anyway.

The practice looks a little different.

I can’t concentrate enough to actually write the stoopid things..

Even knowing I have to finish writing by Tuesday doesn’t help me much.

It’s Sunday. That gives me the rest of today and 2 more days.

2 more evenings really, because I work until 5pm.

I have such a short deadline because I don’t actually want to lock myself away for 2 months. I want to continue to do all the things I love doing and be able to read the cards in the gaps. There aren’t many gaps as it is, but I want to be able to use the ones life throws at me, even if they’re short ones. It’s amazing how many A7 cards you can read in 5 minutes.

It’s also amazing how few you can WRITE in the same timeframe.

It’s practically the end of May already. Here are [some of] the things I want to get done round my revision:

A work colleague (a nice one) and I are going to visit a super-glassblower for a couple of days and be shown how to do clever things with glass. I want to bring him and his family a cake to thank him for his time and for organising the whole thing.

I’m going to spend 8-9 days on a boat with another glassblower. I will hopefully not only learn to drive a motorboat, get through [canal]locks, and sleep while bobbing about on the water, but also find time to learn the stuff I’ve written on the cards. I do have the added bonus of a questioner-with-background-knowledge though :).

2 lovely ladies from school are coming to see me and my town. I really want to have loads of time for them and show them all my favourite places and introduce them to my favourite people so I don’t want to be revising then.

My mum, my gran, my [parents’] house and my [parents’] garden are celebrating assorted birthdays and anniversaries so I’m going home to celebrate them. None of them speak German so the cards would be useless even if I found willing victims.

And then it’s the beginning of July and I’m back in school.

I’d better get back to the books/cards I guess…

OH YEAH!!

On motivation.. (or lack of)

< something I wrote yesterday >

"I work in a motivation vacuum. Any motivation I ever had, even what was stored in reserve, is sucked out of my being as soon as I walk through the doors. No matter how inspiring the weekend, how urgent the task at hand, the nagging and stropping of my colleague, the shinyness of my sink, none of it helps. Occasionally I can hide it until midday, but it's always found and sucked away. I don't want to end up some kind of wreck. I actually like what I do, naja, at least when it works. I want to make amazing things, but somehow I have no energy, no strength, no oomph. I don't actually know what the problem is.. If I did it might be easier to do something about it. I've tried changing places, washing the windows, decorating the wall. I have a [marginally] later start time. I still don't make it to work earlier than absolutely necessary, and often come too late. My exam is in less than 6 months and I can't bring myself to find the bother to care or revise or practise."