A problem shared

I like to talk about my problems. To give voice to them. To allow them to exist. To own them. To be honest about them. It lets me feel free. It reminds me that I expand far beyond the bounds of my problems.

I use this as a place to talk about my problems quite a lot because talking about them in conversation with others tends to lead to unwanted consequences. Like bad, unsolicited advice. Or worse, misplaced sympathy. Misplaced sympathy makes me feel physically sick. Don’t feel sorry for me just because I have more self-awareness than you, motherfucker.

I am not complaining about my problems. I am holding space for them. I am honouring them. I love them. They are so interesting, and they teach me so much. I am positively captivated by them, and they are literally my reason for being. Don’t rain on my problem parade.

I love it when other people talk about their problems, too. When they stand and bear witness to their own struggles, without seeking to be shored up or consoled. Just wanting to be heard. I fucking love it. It helps me feel less alone. Less fucked up. More seen. More acceptable.

Maybe, whilst I amuse myself taking stock of my problems here, my words will reach some people who enjoy how they land.

Sounded goaty

I’ve been awake since 3:33am, after waking inexplicably from a dream about my ex where he required my reassurance that being attracted to a person who may not identify as a traditional gender wasn’t ‘weird’. Which is interesting, considering neither of us are particularly gender conforming individuals, but during our relationship we somehow got sucked into playing out really toxic, extreme traditional gender roles. Lots to think about, lots to think about.

But the closing scene of the dream was where the object of my ex’s befuddled affection was saying goodbye to him, and no-one was sure whether they were gonna go in for the kiss. I, as the sole onlooker, was both curious and uncomfortable, and thus unsure where to direct my gaze. Out of the corner of my eye I saw they were, in fact, going in for the kiss, and quite assertively at that. Somewhat taken aback, my ex seemed to lean away uncertainly and then, as the kiss continued, he let out a bizarre comedic noise that seemed to be an involuntary release of tension. Then the person left, and after a few seconds my ex said “sounded goaty”, and the person, who we both thought was well out of earshot, said “yeah. It did.”

And every time I think about it now I burst out laughing.


I got my master’s thesis grade this week.

I’m normally pretty accurate at ‘marking’ my own work – I can often predict within a few percentage points what my mark will be, and I can usually guess what the feedback will be too.

In this case though, I have legitimately spent four weeks thinking I might in fact FAIL. I’ve done a lot of self-talk around how, if I do fail, it won’t make me a bad person; it won’t doom me to eternal failure; in the grand scheme of things it’s not that important; life will still go on. I’ve done quite a few calculations of various grade scenarios to prepare myself for what the lowest grade would be that would let me retain my distinction, what would permit a merit, and what would happen to my average if I just barely scraped a pass on my thesis. In my most optimistic moments I chanted ‘seventy-three, seventy-three, seventy-three’, because 73%, for some reason, is my comfort benchmark.

I have never in my life been so fucking neurotic about grades. I’ve never had to be. I’ve always trusted myself to deliver academically. I’ve always known that my half-arsed, last-minute, crash-my-bike-and-hitch-hike-to-the-submission-box efforts outpace most people’s very best work. I have always had the luxury of being very arrogant about my academic prowess. I’ve always known that, even though I’ve fucked myself over getting to this point, I haven’t fucked myself over enough that anyone else is going to notice.

But, this time, my brain broke a few months before the project was due.

Usually, if my brain’s going to break, it breaks after the deadline. After three consecutive all-nighters with sustenance derived primarily from energy drinks and pre-cooked quinoa eaten out of the packet. Surrounded by piles of debris, financial peril, and myriad evidence of how all other areas of my life were forsaken in favour of completing my assignment. I break when it’s over. Because I’m good in a crisis.

But this time, there’d been multiple crises dragging on for at least two years already. I’d wanted to quit my master’s back when lockdown first hit because I knew I didn’t have the reserves to see it through in my usual style and would instead have to resort to flogging myself across a scorched, barren landscape to make it to freedom. But I couldn’t bring myself to quit, so flogging it was.

In the last few months, there was a thick layer of transparent sludge between me and my project. Like that jelly they put on you for ultrasounds, but about twenty inches thick. I had to reach through to work on it but I couldn’t really see what I was doing and my arms started aching very quickly. The quality of the end product was anyone’s guess. But it probably wasn’t good.

Now I have been rewarded for the flogged muddling with 85%. Despite months of sleepless nights with a three year old pushing me out of bed. Despite my supervisor leaving two months before the hand in and having to renegotiate my report for new eyes. Despite needing to complete another module left over from last year alongside. Despite all the reasons that it only made sense that my grade should suffer, I got 85%. The first adjective used in my supervisor’s feedback was ‘exceptional’.

This wasn’t what the story was supposed to be. This was supposed to be a cautionary tale. That pushing myself past breaking point could not yield success. That sacrificing myself for the grade would not only lead to misery, but also underachievement. That I had to find a better way.

I’m actually not sure what to do with eighty-fucking-five. Don’t get me wrong; I did fucking earn it, more than I’ve probably earned any other grade. And, yeah, I’m probably capable of ninety-five with a gentle tailwind, so I can still be dissatisfied with my performance if I want. But what exactly is the lesson here?

Learn to take a win, Yve?


An inconsequential thing happened today that my mind refuses to let go of.

My son and I went to a National Trust estate for the day, and along one of the boundaries was a field full of horses. Before heading home, we went and sat overlooking them to have a drink and a snack. There was a huge ditch on the horse’s side, so we were resigned to the fact that the horses wouldn’t come over, even though we both not-so-secretly still hoped they would.

We sat and ate and drank and talked about horses and which ones had penises, and while we weren’t paying attention, one snuck up on us. A horse. With a penis. The ditch meant we couldn’t really stroke him, but, rather excited, I reached out and gave him a tiny piece of apple. I have a degree in equine science. I would never advocate feeding strangers’ horses, and I am also aware that apples are sugary and thus, despite what we’ve been told, not the best treat for horses. However, there is a small horse-crazed child still living inside me, and she was sitting next to another small child who, himself, is quite partial to a horse. And we wanted to be friends. And maybe, frankly, I think I’m above the law because I’ve studied equine nutrition at degree level.

Then a lady ran toward us shouting “please don’t feed them!”, and I said “oh, okay, sorry!”, and she said it again and I said it again, and my son asked why we couldn’t feed them and I explained that she must be the horse’s owner and she was in charge of looking after them, so if she didn’t want us to feed them then we had to respect that. And she came over and asked what I fed him, and I wryly said “a little piece of apple” feeling like I might as well have said “a big mac” and she shook her head and said “no. The sugar in the apple gives them laminitis.” And I nodded blandly and said “okay, sorry”, while repressing the urge to suggest she was stretching the truth just a little bit if she was saying a 1.5 inch chunk of apple was going to cause laminitis, and wondering if I should explain that I did know a bit about horses and, while I totally understood why she didn’t want me to feed her horse and I shouldn’t have done it, it really was just a tiny bit and I wouldn’t have given him the whole thing even, let alone like a bagful. And then, dissatisfied with my limp response, she said some other things that I can’t remember now as she ineffectually tried to shoo the horse away. And then she told my son that giving horses apples makes them poorly, and he looked at her in quiet, sad horror, so I said that a tiny bit wouldn’t do them any harm, but if they had too mu- “No, a tiny bit DOES do harm!! I’ve lost horses because of apples!” to which I passively did a sort of slow nod and waited for her to go away.

My son is not well-acquainted with death euphemisms because we just say things are dead, so he simply thought she was a bit silly and had misplaced some large animals, perhaps by confusing them for fruit. But, after she went off to eye us from a safe distance, I clarified anyway that, while it was probably not a good idea for us to feed the horse without permission, that lady seemed to be a bit extra worried because she’d had horses get poorly from too many apples before, and the amount we had given the horse was not going to have any adverse effects. But, no, we couldn’t just get on them and ride them away. And we sat and finished our drinks and our snacks, and the lady walked around in the field casting suspicious glances our way once in a while.

And now I can’t stop thinking about the fact that, to her, I probably looked like I wasn’t taking her at all seriously and was instead lurking in wait to spring upon her horses with sugary treats the moment her back was turned.

Stationary Direct

I handed in my thesis report just before my birthday last month, as my derailed subway car skidded through the station with a deafening screeching, and sparks flew all around.

Then it was a case of waiting for the thing to come to a stop so I could disembark. Up to that point I’d thought the deadline was the destination, but I should have known a runaway train with that much momentum was going to overshoot the mark by some considerable margin. I think I’ve ground to a halt now but my body still has the sensation of moving, so I’m yet to clamber free.

I don’t know what comes next. My house is still a mess and I have no onward plans. I am back in the nebula, waiting for something to form. It’s hard not to wonder if this whole thing was just a £10,000 diversion. Okay, more like £14,000. I guess we’ll see in time.

White knuckles

I wrote this on the 27th April and then rode the subway car on into the abyss without a backward glance.

Lately, life has been feeling like riding on a rickety subway car, with no seats and no glass in the windows, along an old derelict tunnel. I’m sort of white knuckling the handrail as I’m shaken incessantly, really quite unsure whether the whole thing is about to crash into a barrier, fall through the floor or maybe just derail and skid along this subterranean passage for a while until it grinds to a slightly mangled, overheated halt. But on it trundles, at an impressive, somewhat alarming speed. Relentlessly. Constantly. Somehow still not there yet.

I don’t totally know why.

I’m in the last leg of my masters, and I’m certainly contending with the fact that I’ve allocated my time poorly up to this point and thus have given myself more of a slog to overcome than would be ideal. But I’ve lived through far more catastrophic levels of procrastination relatively unphased in the past.

Perhaps the pandemic has just frayed my nerves a little too much to cope with self-orchestrated academic crises.