Sunday, 23 May 2010

Several tangents bundled together and passed off as a post.

There is nothing particularly entertaining here, just psychoanalysing myself. Felt the need to blog it because it's nice to vent to the ether when you don't have a psychologist handy. Feel free not to humour me, or to skip to less egocentric posts :) I mind not.
On Friday we learnt about systems for assessing the stage of cancer- they have different names- Duke's, TNM, Ann Arbor, etc, according to which type of cancer it is.When our tutor said, 'So what's Ann Arbor?' I had to physically swallow to restrain myself from calling out, 'It's where you park a boat.'
Yes. Black humour meets the worst pun in the world. This is what uni does to you. I've never made a pun in my life, but my brain decides to switch on the Punchline Centre when it comes to cancer. 
It's an interesting point, though- doesn't everyone get the irrepressible urge to laugh at the most sober moments? I heard somewhere it's a defence mechanism. I know if someone starts to tell me a really depressing story, and they're looking right at me, I can't stop myself smiling. And coming across as the most crass human being on the planet. I then feel the need to assure them that I do appreciate the shit-ness of the situation by exclaiming, 'That's horrible!', whilst still grinning. Fail. And yet I'm one of these overly-emotional, empathise-with-everyone, would-buy-a-big-issue-from-every-vendor-in-Leicester people. Just very, very bad at showing it.
It tends to be people I know that I'm worse with. I don't seem to have a problem expressing sympathy to patients. The other day, one of my friends was utterly distraught, having heard some bad news from back home. She told me, half in tears, and instead of the obvious comforting response, I went into mechanical-mode and did what was practical- helped her with her work, because she wasn't thinking straight.
I also did it when my mum was ill about 2 years ago- most of the family was either crying or panicking. I totally shut down, and went a bit robot, and just did what was practical, no reactions whatsoever. Every situation where there's been panic in the family, I've just shut off all expression and come across as cold/detached. The feeling holds off until it's all over, and then I'm overwhelmed by it when I'm finally by myself. And then the thought of it haunts me indefinitely.
Is that a type A personality thing? The same as bottling up stress? I'm sure it's healthier to let out how you're feeling at the time ¬_¬
I've mixed up the idea of finding humour in depressing situations, and just turning into a robot in depressing situations. Both seem a little dysfunctional, if I'm honest. Basically, this sums up as: I am a prime candidate for coronary artery disease, based on being Asian, with the fitness level of a brick, and an internal stress gauge that needs routine replacement due to overheating and smashing. I'm really going to have to put an end to these modifiable risk factors- can't help being brown, but I'm sure if I get over the social anxiety of entering a gym, and put away this half-finished Pepsi....
Well, baby steps. Nothing too drastic. I'll start with the gym. But I do hate it when you walk in and everyone looks at you :| You can feel the judgement, as they size you up, assess whether to put you in the category of 'Bitch. Too thin to be in a gym, only here to rub my face in it' or 'Beached whale. Stay, so I can feel better about myself.'
Women have an uncanny ability to assess your dress size within seconds, add it to a list of your flaws, and then cross match it with their own. It is only then that they will make the decision of whether to be friendly, or go frost-maiden on you.
Maybe that was a bit cynical. It's why I don't go to gyms, anyway ¬_¬ And why I'm always intimidated in groups of girls.
As for life at the moment: well, it does not exist. I am a machine, existing only to revise, eat, and sleep.  And the Sun is evil, and messes with my head. Which is why I am spewing bizarre posts like this.  So I'd better be off :)
By the way, Gorillaz sang this on Jonathon Ross, and I thought it sounded rather pretty and dreamlike.


Once more unto the breach, etc.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Where are YOU sleeping tonight?

 (Sorry for bad quality, didnt get any pictures myself, this is stolen)
I write this perched in a half-on-half-off-my-seat position, due to the pain of sitting properly, having spent the night on a freezing cold floor. Good times. Black and blue, but good times. This post will  be an account of the Homed Sponsored Sleepout, which for those of you that don't know, was an event where about 90 Leicester students slept rough in Leicester City Centre for one night ,to raise awareness about those homeless people who have to sleep rough every night, and what they face. Any sponsor money raised went to Action Homeless, a charity whch tries to get homeless people back into housing, and give them some independence.

  • 6pm- Myself and Sarah got down to the city centre, where most of the group were already sat around the clock tower, with lots of cardboard laid out. We set up with Tamsen and Emma, my flatmates who I'd roped into it :)  Everyone who took part got a Homed 'Where are you sleeping tonight?' T-shirt, as you can see in the photo. Team Orange! :D We got loads of press people, and attention from passers-by, which was the aim really, and a lot of people donated which was very cool.
  • 8pm ish- it started to get dark and a little bit cold. The Salvation Army donated blankets, which was awesome! I felt it was time to layer up, so added my purple hoody ( :D :D), a pair of gloves, and my blanket to the four layers I had on already. Ahem. Toasty warm. Roundabout this time a homeless man and his dog stopped by and sat down with us. The dog was appropriately fitted out with a Homed t-shirt. This was adorable. 
  • 9pm- Salvation Army people said we could come to the centre in groups of ten, and they'd prepared hot soup, shepherd's pie, and sandwiches for us! This was lovely of them. My hands were frozen by this point, and I've never appreciated tomato soup until last night. Damn. Another man who was homeless, and uses Action Homeless services befriended us (particularly Emma, ahem). He told us that the night before, he'd slept rough, and had been moved on by police 11 times in one night :| That was depressing. He also told us we were in for a shock, and he'd woken up the other night to find a layer of frost on his mattress. It's a horrible thought, that people usually have to face this alone.
  • 10pm- Dark, and the chill was setting in. People started laying out sleeping bags to keep warm. The man we'd met settled down to stay with us for the night, and another man, who was about sixty, stopped to talk to us, and said he was homeless too. Some of the committee offered him food, and sat him down to talk to him. It was quite sad to see how grateful he was- it's not as though we did anything particularly special for him, but Emma said it makes you wonder how he's treated normally, if he gets emotional when people offer him some company, and something to eat. Both men slept with our group for the night- it was the one time they could do so without being moved on, because we were there for a valid reason.
  • Half 11- Rain scare! It started raining quite heavily, so naturally, everyone panicked, picked up anything they could grab and ran for cover under the shelters of the shops. We weren't allowed to set up outside a certain perimeter by the council, though, so it was either don't-get-comfy or come-back-into-the-rain ¬_¬ Damn that council. It stopped raining 5 minutes later, thank God, but the drizzle was on and off the whole night. 
  • 12am- Officially halfway through the sleepout! The last few people were walking through the city centre, but we were still attracting some interest. I'd got huddled up in my sleeping bag by this point, because I was frozen, despite all my layers. There was a horrible cold wind that got inside the bag and froze my face numb- serious ouch. One of my legs was reeeally hurting because I'd had it tensed for ages without realising. However, despite this, my bag made an alright, albeit rock hard pillow, and I was kind of okay. I managed to sleep for about half an hour, but spent the rest of the time awake, just for the sake of it. I was surprised by the number of people who were asleep- quite a few were snoring like they'd never left their beds.
  • 2pm- At this point, it was really quite dead, and I was sat up, shivering with my teeth chattering, all huddled up in a blanket. Sarah couldn't sleep due to people incessantly talking next to her, Tamsen had dropped off quite nicely, and Emma was wide awake. Malcolm, the older homeless man, decided he didn't get on with the younger guy, so moved over to Sarah's side to sit with her. They were fast friends by the end of the night- this was rather cute. 
  • 3pm- Random people who had finished their work shift at this time came over and donated loads of money and told us we were doing a great job :D Woo! Me and Emma talked to a guy who used to be homeless, but now works for Action Homeless and tries to get more people off the streets. He was really passionate about it, because he'd been there, and he stayed awake the entire night, just watching over us and generally making us feel safe. Legend. 
  • 5pm- People started getting up and shuffling around, and operation clean-up got under way. It was fairly light, and I believe at that point everyone had a bright red nose from that damn cold wind. Suddenly, without warning, it started CHUCKING it down with rain. The slow waking became a mass panic once more, as people tried to roll up sopping wet sleeping bags. Malcolm, bless him, was still fast asleep in the middle of all the chaos. We woke him up, and he thanked everyone again for being so friendly to him. We just bundled as many Salvation Army blankets as we could into his bag. I was sad to see him go- it's horrible to think that someone that frail faces something that we found so hard, by himself. And this was May, what about winter? :|  
  • Laurel, who set up HOMED, insisted on group photos in the pouring rain, so, below you can observe the extent of our bedraggled-ness.

  After- chucking it down.

So yeah, I got back to halls at 6am, shattered and bleary-eyed, peeled off my soaked hoody, put my bag, which was in a bad way, by the radiator, and crawled into bed. I have never appreciated my mattress so much in my life, and the cold which had set in overnight didn't wear off for a good few hours. I slept for 6 straight hours. Going into uni later, I could feel bruises on my back, and my leg still hurts. I seriously think it was worth it though, because all I've been thinking about today is how people have to face this kind of thing every night, without the luxury of a sleeping bag, extra blankets, company, or the knowledge that they have a warm bed and a hot shower to go to in the morning. And if the 90 people who took part think like that, and tell other people the same thing, maybe something will get done about it. People that vulnerable shouldn't get forgotten about, and at least HOMED means that we're definitely not going to let them just sink into the background.
Oh! We made the newspaper! Second page of Leicester Mercury, and the online article's here.
Yup. I believe that's about it. Hopefully it'll be an annual event! :D