A Day in The Life of an Unschooler

I am sitting on my bed in front of my computer, which is resting on a chest of drawers that doubles as my bedside table. My mother told me yesterday that sitting less than twenty centimeters away from your computer is bad. It can make you especially susceptible to cancer, she said. Something to do with radiation. I will have to look that up. My back is slouched. That is also bad. It is slightly uncomfortable and, apparently, can prevent your spine from setting straight if done excessively in your formative years. I keep telling myself to straighten up, but this takes effort and is also slightly uncomfortable, so I opt for the easier option: slouching. I will sit up straight later on at dinner.

Speaking of which, I am hungry now. I can hear the clashing of pots and pans in the kitchen. I believe that is a signal that dinner is being made. From the sound of it, my father is cooking. I know it’s him because firstly, he slams things and works with a speed and urgency I believe is unnecessary; the dishes sound as if they are being bashed against the counter and the chopping of carrots resounds throughout the house like a series of distant executions. Secondly, my mother’s voice is closer to here than it is to the kitchen, so I know that she cannot be in there cooking. I have a feeling I should be offering to help. I will go to help.

I offered to help and was told to put away my clothes instead.

I put away my clothes. I had some mild and some not-so-mild digs made at me. I had dinner, which was rice noodles fried with vegetables. (I think I forgot to sit up straight!) I re-watched a film with my family called A Long Way Down. It is about four strangers who become acquainted with one another on New Year’s Eve at the top a building they plan to jump off.

This morning I went for a run. It was not a satisfying run because it mostly consisted of short self-conscious stretches of running interspersed with long self-conscious stretches of walking. However, it was a start to an attempt at fitness. It gave me a vague feeling of achievement.

The next thing of relevance that I did was copywork. Now, copywork, for those unacquainted, is a writing exercise where you copy passages from good books to improve your writing. The idea is that the grammar, punctuation and sentence structure get embedded into your brain, and you naturally widen your vocabulary. It is something I actually find quite fun. This is why: I only copy from things that interest me.

After that, I had a phone conversation with my friend. We discussed birthdays, reading and the POSSIBILITY of an upcoming trip to Paris. We both have our birthdays in the next few months. She says, “If you can’t do something exciting on your birthday, then do something vaguely exciting.”

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How The Sun Can Be Depressing

I sometimes find very sunny days depressing. I have mentioned this in passing to friends and been met with incredulous whys. These reactions surprise me because I do not see my response to such weather as strange. I have, however been led to question what exactly it is about sunny days that makes me feel so down.

It is not that I have nothing fun to do. It is not that I have nobody to spend sunny days with. It is not that I am indoors rather than outdoors enjoying the sun.

I do not feel like I am missing out.

Neither do I feel some kind of spiteful displeasure at other people’s happiness.

The reason why is because very sunny days usually happen when the sky is incredibly clear. This means that there is not enough vapour or dust floating around in the atmosphere to sufficiently mute the harsh glare of our star. Neither are there cloud formations to offer the eye some variation. All I see when I look up is a lurid sun and a massive expanse of blue. Just blue, stretching around and up for miles and miles. There is no ceiling, no buffer of clouds, and this makes me scared. When I look up I see a nothingness, and although I know that beyond the blue there are other planets and stars, all I can see is an infinity of empty sky. Infinity scares me.

A more physical reason for my dislike of very sunny days is the dehydration that occurs. Dehydration not only makes me thirsty, but it makes me lethargic.

Such is a mixture of fatigue and fear of infinity that lead me back into my house to dodge the glowering sun.

Immediately my vision is obscured by splodges of fluorescent colour that take longer than they should to dissipate. I sip water from a cool glass. The sluggishness has already set in. I find inside the house that even through the windows the sun has the power to draw out my energy.

Maybe it is human energy that powers the sun.

It is funny how I really like the sun at other times. It is beautiful when it shines through gaps between leaves and trees. When it shines through leaves themselves. When it dyes the clouds at dawn or peeks through the dust at sunset. The sun is the ultimate symbol of passion and power emanating. It is only in isolation, surrounded by empty blueness that it appears to be glowering.

Here’s Why University Isn’t Compulsory

One of the most annoyingly common questions I get asked when I mention I’m home educated is “What about university?” The majority of people I’ve met seem to assume that university is the only option. The truth is that not everybody is obliged to conform to the traditional path of higher education. Living in the modern world means  that there are increasing  and diverse options.

In university you spend about three years pursuing a certain subject. At the end of those three years, you have a qualification, the idea being that you will include it in your CV as proof that you have a certain level of knowledge. Your educational path is regimented.

Three years is a relatively long time to study something – a time in which you may change your mind about what you want to do. The idea of university is based on a very set view that your life must be completed in steps.

When people have finished studying, many end up with a conventional 9-5 job, which is another example of unnecessary discipline. Actually, that’s what they hope all this studying will lead do, and many end up without a job having spent all their time preparing for it. It is all fine if a conventional job is what they really love doing, but 1) do they really?; and 2) and if they don’t love it, or end up with no job, is it still better to have given 3 years of their lives following a path that someone else has designed?

That just doesn’t sound particularly fun to me. I am confident that if I did want to attend university I would be able to; I have both the intelligence (thank you) and the logistical capability (I’d sign up to take the entrance exam at a local school or exam centre) yet I can think of more worthwhile enjoyable things to do with my life. You do NOT need qualifications to have a job (you need skills and motivation), and working freelance in areas you choose gives you more flexibility.

Another university-related question I frequently get asked is, “What about GCSEs?” (In the UK, GCSEs are exams for 14-16 year olds, and doing 5 of them would be equivalent to getting the American High School Diploma). Because I am fifteen, this is a particularly relentless question; almost everybody asks it. It really frustrates me and it’s become such a boring and irrelevant question. Why should I have to explain the answer on command? Everything people ask relating to home education is boring and annoying for me to have to answer, actually. The reason being that people all have the same set of questions and I’m suddenly obliged, not only to explain my choices, but to justify them as well. The concept of home education is alien to most people.

The GCSE question in particular annoys me, because people that ask assume that exams are compulsory. When I wasn’t planning on doing GCSEs, I had to explain that I didn’t need them because I wasn’t planning on going to university, and then I had to explain that you don’t need to go to university, and then I had to explain why you don’t need to go to university, and then I had to explain what I was planning on doing with my life. I also felt incredibly alone in my choices because ALL of my friends were doing GCSEs, and ALL of them were planning to go to university. I did not meet anyone my age with the same plans as me until about two months ago. When they told me they were not doing GCSEs, I could not believe it. Suddenly I felt a lot less alone.

Most people who go to school take about 11 GCSEs, while a lot of my home educated friends take 5, as that’s the minimum you need to get into most colleges. I have taken 2. I do not plan to take any more. There were two reasons why I did these exams: a) I was interested in the subjects and felt that doing an exam would help to motivate me, and b) I wanted to see what GCSEs were like because all my friends were doing them.

The two subjects I chose were English language and Psychology. English language was the more difficult (and less enjoyable) subject, but it gave me more techniques and motivated me. Psychology was very interesting. It did get boring towards the end because I had to keep re-reading the textbook, and it got stressful because I had to memorise details, but I enjoyed it more than English. These GCSEs are part of the reason why I have not blogged in a long time. But the interesting thing is that it took only a few weeks to prepare for them. Yes, I put in the hours, but it was so do-able, so what is the big deal? We all can learn anything when we want to (and we also learn what we don’t want to learn because we learn all the time, even when we are not conscious of it).

Now that I have done these two exams, I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my shoulders. I no longer have to spend every minute of my day trying to study. I do not have to plan my life around exams. I can communicate with my friends. Hell, I can see my friends. I can actually have a life.

I have found that this experience of doing GCSEs has made conversations easier because I can avoid telling people that I am not going to go to university. When I say I am doing exams people just assume that I will go to university, so I don’t have to explain to them why I am not: the question doesn’t even come up!

Perhaps doing GCSEs has also made conversations easier for me psychologically. I have tried out exams so I can be more confident when telling people they are not for me. More than that, I understand what my friends were up to and no longer feel left out from this idea of doing something “necessary.”

You do not necessarily need to go to university if you do not want to. The whole point of it is to accumulate qualifications, and you may not need those if you’re working freelance, or you don’t want a traditional office job. People look for knowledge and experience, not just a certificate. You know, I’d have a profession that I actually enjoyed. Like being a musician. I’m quite keen on writing as well. I might publish a couple of books. This might sound flakey to people, but I  was not thinking of selling a couple of poems at a bar in exchange for a drink (I will accept that too though!). I meant that my aspiration is to do what I love doing and earn money from it. That will be my “job.”

What do I plan to do next?

I plan to follow my interests. I will keep playing guitar and keep writing. (Remember, I’m gonna be in a band and I also have to write a book). I can take my mixed-media art journals so much further; I am going to write more blog posts about how I did each page and what they mean to me. I have two camping trips planned for the next two weeks (I’ve actually just got back from Berlin and before then I was at an unschooling camp, so that’s a lot of trips I’ll have gone on in a short amount of time!) Yesterday we had two sets of family friends over, and the day after tomorrow we are having some home-ed friends over, so lots of socializing! I’ll be trying to get my Spanish and French up as well. Learning is a process that happens naturally from life. You cannot stop yourself from learning because the brain wants to pick up new information and utilize it. Whatever is inspiring and enriching in university, I am able to have at a greater rate, and I have already started. There is also something exciting on the cards: I am going to start a business selling dreadlock-style hair extensions!

I now have more time to blog as well. I have to say something to you: Thank you for reading my posts. I hope the people who follow my blog understand how much it means to me that they read what I write. Thank you for being here and showing an interest, and for sticking with me. Some of you comment a lot (you know who you are) and I really appreciate that. I enjoy reading your blogs as well and I intend to read them more now that I have more time!

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you very much to Georgina  for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award. I like that this one focuses on something particular, rather than just being a general blogs-I-like award! It’s pretty cool to know that someone recognises a certain trait in your blog, and in this case, that’s versatility. So thank you, Georgina!

The-Versatile-Blogger-Award

 

The rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and a link to their blog
  • Nominate at least 15 bloggers
  • Link your nominees and let them know
  • Share 7 facts about yourself

My nominees:

http://geengeenie.com/

https://maraeastern.com/

https://georgiegrl.wordpress.com/

http://idoandadieu.com/

http://loiselden.com/

http://gracelesscurran.com/

https://travelcopy.wordpress.com/

https://aishwaryasivakumar.wordpress.com/

https://projecthay.wordpress.com/

https://dominiqueben.wordpress.com/

Ten so far! I’ll nominate another five at a later date.

7 facts about me:

  • Whenever I walk past a lamppost or pole I have to glance at the top of it and blink at least three times.
  • I never ever purposefully remove my eyeliner.
  • I’m writing a sci-fi novel about parallel universes.
  • I always leave the teabag in my mug of tea while I’m drinking it. I didn’t realise this was unusual until people started pointing it out. They seem to think of it as sloppy, but really I just like my tea strong.
  • I want to help work towards gender equality.
  • When I’m in a room I have to have the door closed, cupboards closed and drawers closed, otherwise I feel uneasy.
  • I’m going to start a metal band some day.

Thank you for reading. Do say hi! 🙂

Falling Asleep on Public Transport

I like being in cars. It is the fact that I’m going somewhere and there is something ahead waiting to be experienced. It’s the thrill of passing through places I do not know, seeing houses rush past. Sometimes I imagine people in those houses. Are they families, or are they young people living alone? What kind of lives do they lead? Do they listen to the same music that I listen to?

Other times I do not imagine people in those houses. I pass by in the car with a kind of self-centered detachment, fantasizing about my own future or, somewhat smugly, reliving moments that make me proud.

I like the fact that I’m in a limbo of sorts, an in-between space where I don’t have to worry about using my time wisely. I can become fully absorbed in a book – and enjoy the nausea that comes with that – or be lost in self-indulgent thoughts, and conversations that only exist withing the confines of my mind.

I’m safely inside a little moving box, protected from the elements by metal and glass. Spreading guilty carbon footprints that I will make up for one day, I promise. (I PROMISE I will make up for them)

Night is the most exciting time to travel by car. All the ugliness of the city is hidden by darkness. It keeps you guessing. Bright lights from lamp posts lead the way, but without fully illuminating the years of dirty chewing gum flattened into the pavement.

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Traveling Through a Charcoal London (By me…)

When I first listened to Siouxsie And The Banshees, I re-played their cover of The Passenger constantly because it was the only song I’d heard that reminded me of the thrill and chill of driving through a London lit by streetlamps. That is what the song meant to me. I’ve heard that the original singer, Iggy Pop, wrote it while riding the S-Bahn in Berlin, though. It’s wonderful that we can give songs our own meaning.

I suppose this is as much about loving the night as it is about being in cars.

I realise now that this love stems from a need for escapism. The absence of daylight hides everything that I associate with mundane, everyday life. Houses, bins, litter, concrete slabs… people. It seems to hold an endless array of possibilities. There is the illusion of time stopping for a while because I can’t see the light changing like I can in the day.

I like to travel in trains as well. There’s the same feeling of being headed somewhere, and not needing to do anything about it. You can sit back and think, free of the feeling that you are wasting time.

Nothing beats falling asleep on public transport. When I’m in a seat by the doors, I lean against the glass panel, and close my eyes. If I’m tired, I fall asleep quickly. It’s pretty cool because it usually takes me a while to fall asleep at home. But on the tube it’s instantaneous. Something about the noisiness and the motion and the lack of light in the tunnel. I think it’s a subconscious reminder of being in the womb?

Planes too. I like it when planes take off. I like speeding along the runway. And that moment the plane lifts into the air. Finally, we’re on our way. It’s much more exciting at night when I can look out of the window and see the lights of houses, and of traffic snaking far below. I think it’s that mixture of feeling connected and watching from a distance at the same time.

Being on any kind of transport is like being in a personal, moving, mental Temporary Autonomous Zone.

I cannot believe it is the last day of January already. I had meant to blog more, but I was ill in bed for a couple of days, and not well enough to write for a while after that. I’ve also been on holiday in Prague! Now, with regards to that, I have a confession to make. Right… So, do you remember I was doing Veganuary? That’s being vegan for the whole of January. Well, you need to know that Prague – well, the whole of the Czech Republic, really, is famous for beef goulash. It also happens to be famous for fried cheese in breadcrumbs. And a lot of other non-vegan foods. So I figured, fuck it. I wasn’t going to be in Prague again any time soon. I’d never tried Czech food before. This was my only chance. You’ll have to forgive me, but I had the most delicious goulash of my entire life. It came with Czech dumplings. Which were splendid dipped in the sauce. I also had fried cheese, a burger with sausage, and some beefy noodles. Oh yeah, and also cheese. And Kit Kat. I’m going to make it up by extending my veganism into February.

In other, more redeeming news, I’ve been doing yoga every day? It wasn’t a resolution. I just had a bad back one day so looked up a yoga video on Youtube, and somehow I’ve carried on doing it, every day, since then.

To adventure, to car rides, and to reluctant carnivorism!

Have a great evening!

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS

Thank you ever so much to the wonderful Nícia from Designing Dreams, for nominating me for the Champions Award!

champions-awards

These are the terms of acceptance:

  • Post the award logo on your blog with the hashtag #CHAMPIONSAWARDS
  • Acknowledge the sponsor of the award
  • Nominate no less than 5 nominees and notify them of the award
  • Keep it simple, no need for explanations of the award, we know how great these bloggers are
  • You are free to give out this award as often as you’d like.

My nominees are:

https://concentrationmoon.wordpress.com/

https://cupcakes0adventures.wordpress.com/

https://thejadezone.wordpress.com/

https://itsgoodtobecrazysometimes.wordpress.com/

https://theambivert123.wordpress.com/

https://gabriel360live.wordpress.com/

https://justelm.wordpress.com/

I understand that not all bloggers do blog awards, so there is no obligation at all.  This is essentially a shout-out to spread the word about our pretty awesome blogs.

Love to you all!

10 Things I Dislike About Airports

1. The stress of having to remove the contents of my pockets, my cardigan and jacket, my choker and my boots and bundle them into multiple trays on a conveyor belt, while people wait impatiently behind me.

2. Walking through the security scanner and knowing it might beep. (No, I’m not a criminal. But I do wear hairclips.)

3. Having to put my boots back on afterwards. They have bloody laces. And I always have to find a clear space on the floor where I can put them on without being in everyone’s way.

4. Having to put my choker back on. Without a mirror.

5. The risk of being “searched” i.e.. patted down. God, this is arguably the worst one. The possibility that I will be picked for searching after I walk through the scanner looms over me as I remove my personal possessions. Please not me. I do not relish the idea of a total stranger patting my body. Even if they’re authorized airport security. It is probably a fetish for some, but I’ll gladly stay away. At least the member of staff that pats you down is always someone of your own gender. Even so, can you think of anything more awkward?

6. Actually being patted down. Not just the possibility of it. I had my flipping hair searched in Morocco. Furthermore, there was the risk that anything embarrassing could happen, like my clothing could come loose or a button could pop off, and having a stranger’s hands on my body would not increase the ease with which I dealt with that.

7. Having to stand in a full body-body scanner. I take back being patted as the worst item on the list. Having a machine seeing under your clothes beats that hands-down. Literally hands-down. It gets worse. Because there’s actually someone looking at the scan.

8. When the people who work there are rude, impatient or lacking in understanding.

9. When your mother is forced to go and stand in a different queue to you and the rest of your family even though you guys have already reached the end of the line – because her passport isn’t the same as yours.

10. When the security staff take away your expensive lipstick and face powder even though they have no reason to, simply because they like the look of it and they want to keep it for themselves.