Monthly Archives: June 2012

Because I haven’t ranted on here in a while…

UK politicians have decided to use xenophobia as their angle for this next election by closing multiple visas, counting students as immigrants (I am an international student studying in the UK), and discussing allowing only wealthy British citizens to be able to live with their non-EU spouses in the UK, all whilst shouting “British jobs for British workers!” Anyone reading this, if you ever say “British jobs for British workers” with any sign of support for the phrase, I will hate you. (I should probably warn everyone reading now, that this will not be a polite rant.)

But you know, politicians do things that depress me all over the world, and normally I would probably have gotten this out of my system by ranting to my friends and family. But I read comment threads on the internet because I am a masochist. Another awful thing is that Cameron wants to take away housing benefit payments from people under 25. Fortunately, a lot of people are upset about this. But of course, people can’t just blame Cameron. No, the comments are full of people blaming those lazy immigrants and international students for coming over and taking all those benefits from British citizens.

So, where are these benefits you’re complaining about me stealing? Because if I’m going to be demonized for it then I’d fucking well like some. I can use NHS while I’m a student. The Post-Study Work visa I was hoping to get after I graduated, but can’t now, because the UKBA ended it, wouldn’t have even let me use that. I’m not exactly sure of what help you can get on other visas, and I think it depends on which it is. But really, there’s a reason you have to prove you have money to support yourself for however long when applying – because it’s hard to get benefits and having a bunch of immigrants starving on the streets doesn’t exactly make the UK look good.

But you know, we really aren’t coming to the UK just to steal all your benefits, we’re coming to steal your jobs, too! Of course! I’ve heard these lines in America too, and couldn’t stand them then, but now that I have actually experienced moving to another country, they are a berserk button for me. Do you honestly believe that this is easy? That this is the undemanding alternative to living for lazy people? Because to all of you assholes who say things like this, I would like to see you try it.

Go on.

Move to another continent far away from your friends and family. But wait, first you have to go through all the paperwork. As a student, you have to apply to universities with different standards of applications than what you’re used to. But make sure it’s a public university because the visa changes are hitting the private ones hard and you might end up stranded. Go through the paperwork to get your visa, which could be denied for small errors which would cause you to have to reapply, paying the full £200-something fee over again. Also note that you can’t apply for the visa more than three months before term starts as it will be automatically denied if you do. Be very aware of how short a time you have to fix things if something does go wrong.

Of course, you also have to afford the plane ticket and the shipping for any stuff you plan to bring, as well as the higher tuition fees for international students. It will be easier to move into halls if you can’t afford to visit before you move, like me. Of course, if you can’t afford to have a family member or friend come to help you do any moving stuff, it’s still going to be hell.

But moving isn’t the hardest part, obviously. At that point, it’s still sort of like a vacation where you way over-packed. No, the months after is where it gets hard. When you run out of money for food because international student loans come in so much later. When you realise you’re straining your friendship with the person you know in the country because you need more help than either of you thought. At some point it hits you that you’ve been so focused on adjusting and keeping your grades up and staying alive that you’ve not made anything more than acquaintances and that if things went really wrong, you’d be shit out of luck.

And then this description is from my experience, and I have it so very easy. I’m a white, cis, American whose parents had good enough credit that I was able to get a loan. I haven’t been required to register with the police and I have the maximum of allowed working hours a week that a student visa allows. I know that the people who say “British jobs for British workers” aren’t picturing me when they complain about immigrants, but all knowing that does is make me feel even worse, for feeling so beaten down by the minimum of difficulties for moving.

The thing is, as ugly as this all is, I love my city and I love living in the UK.  Though I’ve spent a mostly isolated year here, I have begun to make friends and build a life for myself, and it kills me every time I realise that in a few years I will have to leave it all behind and start over. It hurts to get close to people when you’re aware that there’s an end date where you’ll end up having an ocean between you and all of your friends.

And through all of this, in politics and the media and by everyday people, you will hear how immigrants are coming to steal all of the benefits and jobs, and international students are just pretending to come over to study because it’s easier than getting any other kind of visa and they just want to steal benefits and jobs too.

Seriously, fuck you.


My younger self wrote a lot more poetry and fiction than I do

Right, so it looks like Saturdays will be regular post days! But I’m at a barbeque right now so I’m going to steal a thematically appropriate poem from teenage me.

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Picture books
Filled with morbid stories of children who died
This is your dinner menu
Welcome to hell


I never use a pattern when I knit.

When I decided to make this blog active again, I didn’t really have a plan beyond “post regularly.” You may have picked up on this from the shorter, less-focused, more rambly posts recently. I think I’m going to go with two days a week for posting, Tuesdays, and another day. I’ve been thinking Friday or Saturday, but I haven’t settled on one yet. I guess we’ll both find out in a few days which one it is!

But anyways, let’s ramble some more!

As some of you know, I knit quite a lot. I learned when I was very small, and as a child I didn’t exactly have money to buy the amounts of yarn needed for patterns. Family members would usually get me a couple of balls when I asked nicely, and, having no sense of scale, I would follow a pattern ’til I ran out of yarn, and then when I came across another pattern, I would take out what I’d done and start that one. My dad especially would tease me for this.

I got pretty good at knitting by doing this, but I never really liked the patterns I worked on (this could have contributed to not asking for more of the same yarn when I ran out). So sometime when I was still young, I stopped knitting, and I didn’t go back to it until my first year at uni. Pretty much, the internet saved my love of knitting/dragged me back into addiction. All of the patterns I saw when I was little were baggy sweaters and other dull things. But on the internet I found patterns for Space Invaders socks, fitted tops, squid-shaped hats, and all manner of decidedly not-boring things.

Then disaster struck. Every time I tried to knit from a pattern, the result was huge on me. I did everything I could to fix this – going down several needle sizes, using lighter-weight yarn than was called for – but nothing worked. The gauge swatch would be the right size, but the finished result wouldn’t be. Sometimes I would attempt to calculate fewer stitches for projects, but quickly got tired of the work to make the patterns fit and gave up on them.

So I started designing my own patterns for myself, sizing them to my body as I go. This has worked pretty well for me, and I’ve made dresses, fingerless gloves, skirts, and sweaters since. I usually don’t plan what I’m going to make, I just start knitting and see what happens, usually writing the pattern as I go. I’ve tried using a couple of patterns over the last year, and weirdly enough my problem getting the correct size is gone. This opens up more possibilities for me, but I kind of love not knowing what I’m going to end up with.

This is obviously a scarf, and was always going to be a scarf, so it’s not completely thematic for this post, but I knit it! And my kitty is in the background, so you’re not allowed to complain.


I win!

So pretty much I have the best dad. Argue all you like, but I’m going to win. This is the first story I remember him reading to me. My sister has already shared his cookie jar poem here. If those alone aren’t cool enough for you, he plays lots of instruments, writes screenplays and music, and has done science for longer than I have been alive.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!


This was actually probably the most normal thing to happen to me at high school

So as proof that I do actually intend to update this blog, we have a post today! As proof of my laziness, it consists of something I wrote when I was 13. What follows is the first essay I was assigned in high school. I was supposed to write about my first week of school. I wrote about a sleeping bag instead.

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My biggest challenge during my first week at school was figuring out what to do with the sleeping bag in my locker. For the first four days of school, I had no time to find my locker, and would carry my cello around to all of my classes. On Friday, I sacrificed the first fifteen minutes of my lunch period to find it. It was one of the music lockers, big enough to fit my cello as well as my backpack. Once I got the locker opened, I was mildly surprised to see a green sleeping bag in it. I could not help wondering whether there are beds in the bigger lockers around the corner.

What was this sleeping bag’s use? Who put it here? Did the previous owner climb into the large locker during lunch and go to sleep? Or maybe he had a well-behaved cat that he liked to bring to school. Or did he bring it to class on cold days?

What could this sleeping bag signify? It could be there to remind anyone who happened to catch a glimpse of it that there is such a thing as sleep. The fact that it’s green seems strange to me. Most of the sleeping bags that I have seen are either red, blue, or have pictures of cartoon characters on them. The color green often symbolizes life, but here that feels contradictory, as sleep has so often been compared to death in books and movies. The common phrase, “you’re looking a little green”, suggests that green symbolizes feeling sick. I don’t even want to think about that.

The sleeping bag could be in my locker to create a hideaway, a place to go when the owner couldn’t handle going to class. The teachers must have gotten extremely frustrated when a student who had been present in earlier classes disappeared without a trace, but then showed up later in the day when there was free food at the art gallery. Maybe the previous owner would stay late after school in his locker, doing homework and reading in there.

The sleeping bag was neatly wrapped up. Maybe the previous owner left it on purpose for the next owner of the locker, me. Maybe the sleeping bag is the tradition of locker #131, handed down through generations of students.
Of course, that left me with the decision of what to do with it. I could take it home, never mind the fact that my bed already has most of the blankets in my house on it. There is no such thing as ‘too many blankets’. Or I could put it in the locker next to mine when the owner of that locker wasn’t looking. But it is always possible that that person already has a sleeping bag in her locker, too. My teachers and parents would probably say I should turn it in to lost-and-found, but if the previous owner has graduated, it would just sit there, just as it would if I left it in my locker and continued the tradition of locker #131.

As I stared at the sleeping bag, I realized I was starving. Maybe I would let the next person who gets locker #131 deal with it. Meanwhile, I guess I will always have a place to catch up on some sleep. I just have to find somewhere to put my backpack and cello.


This blog is active again…Let’s see if I can keep it up this time!

I have never been good about posting here regularly. I get into it for a while every few months or so, and then abandon it right before telling you all about Stephen Citron’s complete failure to teach music theory. I’m sorry.

I’ve been thinking about this blog for a while, and whether I should get it active again. I decided early on that if I did, I would have to do regular posts in an attempt to avoid leaving it again (I just love coursework-like things so much). Weekly seems good to start out with, but I may go for bi-weekly at some point if I’m feeling ambitious. This also means that the content will probably stop being just my rants. I will probably start to inflict old writing on you too.

Anyways, that’s been the plan, and I’ve asked some people this past week if I should get back on this. I’ve gotten a unanimous “yes” so far, but I only asked people who like me as a person, so if you disagree, this is your last chance to let me know!