Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm going to Iceland!!!

My fieldwork travel grant was approved this week and the money should be in my account early next week (of course there would have to be a public holiday on Monday), and then I'll buy my tickets!


I haven't been there for thirty years and to say my Icelandic is rusty would be a massive understatement, so now I'm desperately trying to 'get back into it', because, quite frankly, I would be horribly disappointed in myself if I went over there and spoke English the whole time.

I have to talk to Centrelink. This Federal Government has decided that disability pensioners and students cannot leave Australia for longer than 4 weeks in any 12 month period or they will lose their payments. I guess the theory is that if we government payment types can afford to travel overseas, we shouldn't need money from the Government.

The thing is, I can't afford to travel overseas, the University is paying for me to go, because this fieldwork is essential research for completing my thesis and graduating. Having the four week restriction (keeping in mind I spent 5 days in Wellington in November at a conference, which is also all about my degree), is going to reduce the amount of time I have to do research, and with my vision impairment, everything takes longer. The degree is all about improving my chances of becoming gainfully employed, which would reduce my support from the Government, but hey, let's just slap an arbitrary travel restriction on people with a disability or who are studying.

I worry about how this will impact my future employment. In a world which is becoming ever more global, international travel for work is becoming more and more common. You may be thinking that if I'm on a pension and get work, I'll no longer be on the pension anyway. Well, you see the blind pension is not means tested because our adaptive technologies are so expensive, so it continues even once we are employed to ensure we can continue to purchase adaptive technologies (a braille digital diary costs $5000, for example).

How am I going to work in a field which requires international travel if the Government restricts the amount of time I can travel in a 12 month period?

Frustrating. However...


I'll do it on a shoestring, but I'm still enormously excited!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Audacious Aud and some of my other awesome ancestors...

I've had a big week in my PhD this week. I spent nine hours at uni on Tuesday catching up on work I had not managed to do last week or over the weekend. I'm learning a LOT about historiography, which is something I could not have predicted. Specifically, I'm having to come to grips with Icelandic historiography, which turns out to be quite divergent - now why is that not surprising?

I remember learning history through the family sagas at school, but I couldn't tell you much about what I learned - my Icelandic was very basic and while I got by well enough, I guess the particulars of any one story did not stick with me.

Yesterday, I was researching an ancestor of mine - Aud the Deep-Minded. In the book of Icelanders, online, it is possible to trace an Icelander's family lineage back over a 1000 years and so I can see how I was related to this historical figure through my mother...

This list goes down to my maternal grandmother, so beneath her is my mother, and then me.

Aud was all sorts of amazing. She was living in the Orkney´s after she and her family fled Norway after losing  battle against King Harald Fairhair. When her husband died, she married her daughters off to Scottish kings and noblemen, then captained a ship and sailed to Iceland where she claimed land as matriarch of her family. She´s credited with bringing Christianity to Iceland, as well as bending the gender roles, and setting the tone for matriarchy in Iceland. So, it is kind of awesome to know I´m her descendant!

Another descendant I found out about today was the very first settler in Iceland Ingólfur Arnarson.

I´m a 30th generation descendant of him through my maternal grandfather.

But, let´s not stop there... Prose Edda, heard of the Prose Edda? Well the author, Snorri Sturluson is also an ascestor, going back 23 generations.

Okay, so I have a confession. My eldest´s son´s name is Erik and we´ve always told everyone he is named after my ancestor Erik the Red... Strictly speaking, we're *only* related through marriage. Erik's the Red's wife's grandfather's wife is my direction ancestor through my maternal grandmother...

But he totally counts, anyway. Besides, When Erik the Red was exiled for killing someone, it was Aud who gave him land in Greenland for his family to stay on.

Finding out all this stuff is a fun side-effect of doing this thesis!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Rethinking my life...

I had a dream.

I wanted to be a doctor. Not a doctor of medicine, a doctor of philosophy. I wanted to teach people about writing. I was going to do this PhD and teach people about the flash fiction and all it can offer us as creative, reflective, constructionists of our reality.

I'm not sure about that dream anymore.

I'm not sure I will ever work, let alone as a lecturer or a tutor.

Some probably think I'm giving up too easily, but the fact is, I have been fighting to be able to work all my adult life and it has pretty much led to nothing. Sure, I can work for free, in a voluntary capacity, and that is worthwhile, I admire people who are happy to work as volunteers, they are truly self-less.

But I wanted to work and earn a wage. To see my work compensated with a dollar value. I don't think that will ever happen for me.

I was feeling depressed about it, but I think I'm coming out of that.

I want to get my philtrum pierced. Everyone hates the idea. Even the people who say they don't hate the idea, hate the idea. I don't care. I see my friend Julia facing death square in the face. There is a certainty about her death that most of us don't have, it's incredibly sobering. She has posted about how this knowledge has spurred her on living the life she always wanted. This has affected me deeply.

A family friend died on Sunday, he was 75 and had been living with cancer for six years. Seventy-five is a good age, and he was ready to go, so his death was not a shock. The knowledge of his own mortality softened him a lot in the last few years, according to his family. He started to enjoy his life more, and let go of the rigidity which had built a wall between him and other people.

So, I was told today, in all kindness mind you, that getting a piercing in my face would be the death knell of my academic career. This may well be true, the academy is a rigid, conservative place, even within the creative fields. I thought about it for a while and came to this conclusion. I can forget about getting my philtrum pierced and hope that somehow this will open doors for me into academia and into paid work, even though not having piercings in the past has not seen welcome mats fluttering to my feet...

Or, I can live my life, do the work I love doing, continue to live the life I have been living to this point anyway - no paid work, studying, raising kids, etc. and accept that the odds are well and truly stacked against me anyway, and if people like my work enough, they will not be so shallow as to overlook me because I have a tiny stud in my philtrum.

Also, maybe I just don't want to be an academic after all.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April weight update...

Going to keep this short and sweet (but obviously low sugar)...

In March the Grumpy Old Man shed another 3.4kg, and I shed 4.3kg, so 7.7kg ntween us in total in April. This brings our grand total to 14.5kg for him and 13.5kg for me, which is 28kg between us since the beginning of the year. Got to be happy with that!

Basically, we've lost the equivalent of Bryn in weight!

April will be interesting. This coming weekend is Easter, and next week is Dave's birthday. We decided at the beginning of the year that we'd allow ourselves treats for those two occasions (not before and not after)!

I guess the 1st of May will show us how that went.

Good Job!