yiskah: (Default)
[personal profile] yiskah
I have no idea what to post about on LJ at the moment (everything seems to involve too much background and context), and am having a slow Friday (day-off plans foiled by ill couchsurfer, though I may go out shortly to read a book in a cafe or similar), so I am going to do this meme. I always assume that everyone knows everything about me, but maybe you don't.

The problem with LJ: We all think we are so close, but really we know nothing about one another. So I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away. Then post this in your LJ and find out what people don't know about you.

Have at it!

Hm, I will even make this post public, so that you can ASK ANONYMOUSLY if you want. Don't be evil though.

Date: 2009-10-23 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] geekette8.livejournal.com
I'm sure I could find something to ask anonymously, but "this user has disabled anonymous posting." :-(

Date: 2009-10-23 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Oops, I forgot I'd done that! (To combat the Japanese spammer.) WIll edit now in case anyone has some BURNING questions they don't want to put their name to.

Date: 2009-10-23 12:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
...and I can't figure out how to enable anon comments. BAH.

Date: 2009-10-23 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chiller.livejournal.com
PAH! I know everything about you. Well, unless you've got a "stuff I don't tell chillor" filter. ;)

Date: 2009-10-23 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com

*looks shifty*

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Date: 2009-10-23 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jinxremoving.livejournal.com
How's the couchsurfing going for you?

Date: 2009-10-23 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Mostly good! I have hosted four people now - this guy, who is cycling from Nordkapp to Cape Town; an Austrian guy who turned up with an English friend he'd made en route, and right now a half-Austrian half-Norwegian violinist who has WALKED from Austria to here en route to Ethiopia. (It's a kind of pilgrimage - he's a fairly recent convert to Christianity.) Current guy is more of a friend of a friend rather than an official couchsurfer, and I admit that I am getting kind of angsty that he MIGHT NEVER LEAVE. He showed up last Saturday, initially to stay two nights, then on Sunday he asked if he could stay until tomorrow, as he had to get his camera fixed and sort his Ethiopian visa, and as of today he still doesn't have his visa and his camera is not fixed and now he is ill and I am thinking ARGH HOW LONG ARE YOU STAYING? He is perfectly nice and of course being ill is not his fault and I am evil, but my job is stressful and I work long hours and really a week plus is too long and I NEED MY SPACE. If he were well I'd probably be saying "um, dude, can you maybe move on soon?" but obviously under the circumstances that is impossible.

Ha, sorry for small rant. Mostly it is good! I am going to change my CS profile so that it says four nights maximum, though that wouldn't make a difference in this case because he's not on CS. Aside from that, my main worry is that my neighbours keep seeing these sweaty bearded blokes going in and out of my apartment (seriously, three out of the four of them have been practically interchangeable in appearance) and I wonder if they think I have some weird fetish.

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Date: 2009-10-23 12:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] p-dan-tic.livejournal.com
what i want to know about you:

why the hell did you sleep with a tory? :)

(using booze as an excuse isn't allowed)

Date: 2009-10-23 12:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chiller.livejournal.com
Oh come on, even I can answer that one on my own behalf: Tories are WRONGE. This makes them the best lovers. FACT.

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Date: 2009-10-23 12:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Can I plead ignorance? I dunno, it probably speaks volumes of my own prejudices that I tend to assume that anyone working in humanitarian work (which he was at the time) is a big old lefty. I knew he was more right-wing than I am, but that is not very difficult.

Also, I was in the middle of nowhere in South Sudan. Pickings were slim!

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Date: 2009-10-23 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slemslempike.livejournal.com

Have you ever accidentally told a secret?

Date: 2009-10-23 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com

Yeah, I'm sure I have, loads of times. I am quite good at keeping stuff in confidence if it's someone else's secret, but if it involves me I am always like I HAVE TO TELL SOMEONE (OR MULTIPLE SOMEONES) OR I WILL BURST. Which is not always sensible.

I do have some very visceral memories of blurting things out when I REALLY didn't mean to, but I can't think what they could have been. Hopefully nothing too damaging.

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Date: 2009-10-23 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whatsagirlgotta.livejournal.com
I think there's probably a bunch of things I don't know, but I suppose I'd be interested in knowing what kicked off the wanderlust or why you got interested in the PhD and Sudan? I mean I know you are, but I'm wondering what the process was!

Date: 2009-10-24 07:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Advance warning: this is going to get long.

No idea where the wanderlust comes from, but as long as I can remember I have always wanted to travel. My dad was in the merchant navy and then had filmed in various exciting locations so maybe my desire to travel came from him. Most of my holidays as a kid were shuttling back and forth between the UK and Australia, or going to wherever my dad was doing a play at the time, but my 10th birthday present from my parents was going on a Trafalgar tour of Western Europe (we moved to Sydney a few days after my 10th birthday, so I guess they thought it would be my last chance to see Europe for a while). We went through Amsterdam, Koln, Munchen, Salzburg, Venice, Luzern and Paris (I think that's it) in about ten days, and I absolutely loved it - my parents' attitude was that it was a taster to give me an idea of where I wanted to go back to later. As I got older my ideas branched out from Western Europe - I went to Egypt and Thailand with my parents, and to Indonesia and Singapore with my choir. I also got the idea that it would be pretty cool to live in different countries, and did a three-month exchange to Germany when I was fifteen (I was big into languages at school and thought I would study them at university, which all stemmed from that Trafalgar tour, where I idolised the tour guide and wanted to grow up to do her job and she said I'd have to learn languages), and around the same time I started to get really interested (in a pretty naive way) in the developing world and had fantasies of going and Helping Africa.

So then I moved back to the UK on my own when I was 17, and went backpacking for the first time (six weeks around Western Europe, small potatoes) and then went to university, switched from philosophy to anthropology, which just intensified the wanderlust, and then realised that I had all these long holidays and I couldn't afford to go back to Sydney every time, and so it was in my interests to figure out cheap travel opportunities. So I went to Israel in my first Easter break, spent a month on kibbutz and then 10 days travelling around Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and in the summer I worked in a pub in Scotland for two months and then spent a month backpacking around Eastern Europe on the proceeds, and then I spent one xmas back in Sydney and then the summer holidays between my second and third years I spent a month living with a local family and teaching English in Kyrgyzstan, and then ten weeks backpacking around Southern Africa (blowing all the money I was supposed to be living off in my final year, oops), and it was EPIC and amazing. I loved Central Asia but I really fell in love with Africa.

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From: [identity profile] whatsagirlgotta.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-10-26 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand

part 2!

Date: 2009-10-24 07:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Anyway, I had always been fascinated by conflict and the results of conflict, and had a vague sense that I was interested in refugees, and then when I was in South Africa I ended up staying for a week or so in Mpumalanga, near the Mozambican border, with a friend of a friend who was working on a repatriation project with Mozambican refugees, and I guess something clicked, and I was suddenly fascinated with forced migration and post-conflict reconstruction because, I guess, I believe it's something that has to be managed incredibly well to stop a continuous cycle of conflict and migration, and I don't think it really is managed that well as it currently stands. So I went back to university for my third year and didn't really know what I wanted to do and had plans to go to Canada for a year and have a think and figure things out but then Mark and I got together and that scuppered those plans. I started applying for Masters' in development, but had left it too late to start next academic year, so I had a year in hand, and decided that, given that I was so interested in post-conflict reconstruction and forced migration it might be a good idea for me to go and live in a country that was dealing with those issues to get a better understanding. So I got a TEFL qualification so that I would be employable, and narrowed down my geographical interest to the Caucasus, as I didn't want (and couldn't afford) to go to far away from Europe, and I joined a mailing list and sent out my CV to see if anyone wanted to hire me. I was offered a job teaching at a university in Azerbaijan, and so I went off to teach there for a semester, and in my spare time I volunteered with an NGO that was working with refugees and it was great.

So then I came back and I did my Masters' (and wrote my dissertation on internally displaced people in Azerbaijan) and applied for the fast stream because I was hoping to get into DfID, but ended up in the Home Office instead, and over the next few years I did quite a bit of travel to the US and Europe but nowhere further afield. Then I moved to Nottingham and wrote my first novel and failed to sell it for ages, and then realised I was quite miserable in Nottingham and had been thinking for years about doing a PhD in forced migration and so I decided that before I did the PhD I should get some move overseas experience. I'd always wanted to go back to Africa since I'd first been there as a student, and then I found out about the Sudan Volunteer Project in a guide to taking a year out, and did some research and found out that Sudan is basically mecca for people interested in forced migration, especially internal migration, and so I applied to the programme and got accepted and came out here. In the meantime I'd stuck in PhD applications with a fairly vague 'um, it's about refugees...in Sudan'-type research proposal, and when I got here I started trying to firm up my ideas. Initially I thought it would be about internally displaced southern Sudanese in the Khartoum, but then I moved to the south myself and decided that actually it was going to be about refugee returns to south Sudan in the context of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

So then I came back and started the PhD and then didn't have the time or the money to continue it, and now here we are. I would LOVE to finish it one day but realistically I don't think it's going to happen; I'm unlikely to get funding and even if I do, the further I get into my 30s the less appealing it is to think about taking three years plus out of earning for something that's unlikely to end up being a career (as I've never seen myself as an academic). Still, I do think I may well do a PhD (likely part-time) in something, someday, so we will see.

Sorry for the MASSIVE LENGTH of this comment!

Re: part 2!

From: [identity profile] whatsagirlgotta.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-10-26 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2009-10-23 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zoje-george.livejournal.com
Do you know where your glasses/phone/handbag/meds/shoes/sunglasses/headscarf/keys are?

Date: 2009-10-24 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com

Glasses: on face (spare pair by bed)
Phone: on desk in front of me
Wallet: in bag (I think. Yeah, have just checked and it is definitely there.
Handbag: under desk
Meds: by bed (though admittedly I forgot to take them this morning)
Shoes: under desk
Sunglasses: on the sink next to the shower. Oops
Headscarf: around my shoulders
Keys: with my couchsurfer (I hope)


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Date: 2009-10-23 03:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-lady-lily.livejournal.com

I have totally lost track of your novels! Is it the third you are now trying to work out, or are you still doing the second, or have I gone into a timewarp and you're actually working on the fifteenth?

Date: 2009-10-24 06:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Ha, you are right - the second was published in July, and I am currently wrangling the third.

Date: 2009-10-23 07:50 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (Default)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
When you stop teaching in Sudan, WHAT NEXT? (Yes, I am mean.)

Date: 2009-10-24 08:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Yes INDEED you are mean, especially when I note that you have not in fact answered my question to you, outsourcing it to your lady does not count. PAH. But because I am lovely I will answer anyway, even though it is SUPPOSED TO BE A SECRET.

In short, the current plan (while always subject to change) is to come back next year around September, and (if they'll have me) either enrol on this or this. It may seem like a bit of a decision out of left-field, but it's actually a career that's been in the back of my mind since I was at school, and the main reason I've never pursued it is because of my rampant and unattractive ego, which has sought out higher-status roles. Over the past year or so I've come to realise that it's a career that ticks more and more of my requirements, in that:

- it's a job that I (think I) would really enjoy, find challenging and rewarding, and I could work with a group (refugees and asylum seekers) that I reallyreally want to work with;
- I can do it in Glasgow, be with Tom, put down roots, actually settle in one city for the foreseeable future (I <3 Glasgow SO MUCH);
- there are (or seem to be) opportunities for short-term (2 - 4 month) overseas postings, which would be fantastic;
- it's a job that can be combined pretty well with being a semi-successful writer (i.e. successful enough that I want to work at it, but not sufficiently successful that I can earn a living from it), in that it'd be possible to work part-time, and/or dip out of it for a year or so if required without ballsing everything up completely;
- and it would be A Profession, and moreover, a profession that is always in demand - there are always ads for locums, who earn £20 - £30 an hour, and YES PLEASE. I admit that I am a bit scarred from my 2008-09 stint of unemployment during an economic crash, the absolute horror of looking through job ad after job ad and finding nothing I was even close to being qualified for, knowing that when those elusive jobs DID pop up they would be vastly oversubscribed and I'd be lucky even to be shortlisted (I think this may be a feeling you can empathise with - though of course you have been BRILLIANTLY SUCCESSFUL despite it all) - and I really really do not want to go back to that, ever.

So that is my plan! Of course it may well not happen; the courses may not take me, as they require an amount of practical experience which I only have in a non-UK context (they say that they will accept my experience, but I imagine if I am up against a strong field with a lot of UK experience I may get bumped), or they may not give me a bursary (without which I couldn't do the course), or some amazing job may come up out here that could be translated into a UK-based job, or I might sell my third novel for SQUILLIONS OF POUNDS and never have to work again. So we will see!

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Date: 2009-10-24 01:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angiv.livejournal.com
Now that you are teaching, is it as bad as you thought it was going to be, or do you enjoy it more than you expected? I seem to have the feeling that it's the latter, but wonder if that's wishful thinking.

Date: 2009-10-24 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Good question! I was talking about this with a friend last night (who taught in Japan for two years and then in Sudan for about three months, before going off to do far swankier jobs), and we agreed that we both find teaching surprisingly enjoyable when we're actually doing it, but somehow there is a persistent dread of it the rest of the time. I don't know why, and it doesn't make sense, but there you go.

To elaborate a bit, I am currently working two jobs - my university day job, and three evenings a week at a private language school. The teaching at the university really varies - some of my classes are great but all of them have some trouble-makers (or just slackers) and if they're in the mood to play up I end up having to do discipline and shouting and ARGH I absolutely hate that, especially because it's a university, not a school, and I'd rather not have to teach people who clearly would rather not be here. However in my evening job I genuinely enjoy my classes, as they are full of people who have paid out of pocket to be there (as opposed to the university, which is full of spoiled rich kids whose parents have paid out of pocket) and really really want to learn, and we have a great time. So yeah, I guess in conclusion I would say that I really enjoy the bits of teaching that are about teaching, and I really really hate the crowd-control aspects.

That said, although I do enjoy it, I don't find it particularly intellectually stimulating or challenging (English language teaching, anyway - there are almost certainly other subjects that I would find far more interesting to teach) and would hate to have to do it for the rest of my life.

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Date: 2009-10-24 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alchemi.livejournal.com
Of what are you most proud? Most ashamed?

Date: 2009-10-24 08:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Most proud: my positive attitude, enthusiasm and resilience. Perhaps you were wanting to know what achievement I'm most proud of, but everything I've achieved has been down to those qualities, and they're not always easy to maintain and they take work, and so yes, I am proud.

Ashamed: any of the times I have been a bad friend. There's nothing particularly major or disastrous, but those are the little things that I angst over in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.
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Date: 2009-10-24 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Good question. Actually the deadlines in my contract are so broad and flexible that I don't really feel them as a burden (according to my contract I was supposed to deliver Novel #3 by the end of last year, which obviously didn't happen, and it's kind of laughable as Novel #2 wasn't even close to being published at that point), but there is a difference in writing a novel you know is going to be published compared to writing one about which you're unsure. It hasn't altered my enjoyment of writing, but it has made me more conscious of wanting to progress in my writing, make each novel a step forward from the last one (perhaps I would have felt this anyway if I hadn't been published; who knows?). A big part of my angst in the run-up to the publication of the second book was feeling that I hadn't moved forward from the first one - in hindsight I think I have; it was perhaps not as big a step as I wanted to make (and actually, had I not had a book contract I may not have written the second novel that I did), but it was still progress.

Sorry, this is perhaps a very vague answer and not what you were really getting at! On the specific issue of deadlines, I work much better to deadlines and tend to create them for myself if they're not imposed upon me, so perhaps I would write better if my publishers were breathing down my neck!


Date: 2009-10-26 08:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shermarama.livejournal.com
Now, I may be remembering this wrong, but I recall you being someone who owns a lot of shoes. So assuming I've got that bit right, what shoes have you taken with you to Sudan?

Re: Shoes

Date: 2009-10-26 09:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Ha! Funnily enough I was just thinking about this the other day. Yes, I am an owner of multiple shoes, but Sudan is hard on clothes and shoes, what with the sand and the dust and the lack of pavements and sealed roads, and the preponderance of random pools of water and piles of rubbish everywhere, and so I only brought with me shoes that I can afford to destroy. So with me I have: black one-strap Birkenstock sandals; a pair of silver leather ballet flats; a pair of pink patent mary-janes; and one blue and one green pair of fake leather ballet flats from Peacocks. The Birks were £20, and I don't think I paid more than a fiver for any of the others. I wear the Birks and the silver flats the most; the green and blue ones are already on their way out, and I don't expect them, or the silver ones, to make it back to the UK with me.

Re: Shoes

From: [identity profile] shermarama.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-10-26 11:22 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Shoes

From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-10-26 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2009-10-27 11:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] congogirl.livejournal.com
There's lots I don't know about you! I want to know what you think about development for real, and whether you get cynical and what you do about it, or if you don't, what prevents that?

Date: 2009-10-28 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Oh my lord, yes, I get cynical as hell, despite never having really worked in development for a prolonged period of time. As for what I do about it - I accept that I am doing what I'm doing for personal reasons, because it's what I want to do (for the time being) rather than because I am trying to be all self-sacrifical and noble and Help Others. Just accepting that seems to help quite a lot.

Um don't know you at all

Date: 2009-11-11 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-llusive.livejournal.com
Kneejerk reaction is to ask where you got your fabulous Attenborough icon and whether it's one that's OK to use or there's some copyright issue.

Otherwise, it might be interesting (not having seen any of your previous posts) to let readers know, for example, what pleases you and irks you most regularly (encountered on a daily basis).

Re: Um don't know you at all

Date: 2009-11-15 09:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yiskah.livejournal.com
Hello there! The Attenborough icon was made for me by [livejournal.com profile] chiller, and I'm afraid I would prefer other people not use it, as I have a bit of a Thing about unique icons. Sorry!

As for your other question,

Things that please me: learning new things, tasty food, exciting colour combinations, a cool breeze, managing to string together a sentence in Arabic, all sorts of other things. Also, the work 'irk', which is excellent, and which I should use more.

Things that irk me: the irritating Sudanese habit of talking at you and not listening to anything you say in response. The stupid rules of my workplace.

Date: 2009-12-21 08:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inspired.livejournal.com
Hi! I hope you don't mind me commenting here but I have been following your posts about the Sudanese boy in TLL.

I was just wondering how you were finding the job aside from that problem? I have been thinking of taking a TEFL course with the aims of working there but I've never come across anyone who actually works there to ask what it's really like.
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