Sunday, 3 July 2011

A life in limbo

September is going to be a watershed month for me as my youngest daughter Molly starts school full time. Whenever I mention this to anyone I always get asked the same question, 'What are you going to do with yourself?". And that all rather depends on the outcome of the next 2 months.....

I've been running my own business from home for the past 3 years, and I'd always envisaged that, when both the girls were at school, this would free me up to work during much more traditional hours - i.e. between 9am and 3pm whilst they are school - as opposed to snatching odd moments here and there and largely working in the evenings and at weekends.

However, last month, I took the unexpected decision to apply to do a PhD. It's 20 years since I graduated from Kent University, where I studied Comparative Literary Studies & English, and I can honestly say that in all those 20 years it had never crossed my mind to go back to university. However, a chance remark from a friend who had seen this particular research studentship advertised at my local university sparked my interest, and when I read the advert it seemed like it was made for me - it was almost too good to be true.

I contacted the supervising Professor and gave her a summary of my academic background and subsequent career and asked if it was worth me making an application. Her reply was positive and she gave me lots of advice as to what I should include in my application and research proposal.

The position is within the Research Institute for Media Art & Design, and the area of study is Cross Media - books that have crossed over into digital media, i.e. film, TV, ebooks, games etc. The whole subject area got me ridiculously excited and for weeks my mind was bubbling over with great books that have been adapted into films or TV series. I revisted old favourites, I rented DVDs to watch and I made lists of book/film combinations I would love to study. Quite frankly I was spoilt for choice but in the end I decided to mix the old with the new and apply some of the newer skills in social media that I have aquired over the past few years with my marketing background and I came up with the following area of research:

What can be learned from the phenomenon of Twilight and its main characters Bella & Edward, which could be used to ‘rebrand’ Emily Bronte’s Cathy & Heathcliff for young readers in 2011?

I have no idea if this is any good or what the Faculty might be looking for. I feel completely out of touch with the world of academia and I'm aware I may be way out of my depth compared to some of the other candidates.

But what it has done is allow me to dream a little. What if I do get accepted? I would get to spend the next 3 years steeped in books and learning and research - things I absolutely love and never thought would be part of my life again. My 3 years at university, between the ages of 18 and 21, were happy and life changing in so many ways, but the academic element was almost incidental. 20 years on I would appreciate the opportunity and the experience of student life in such a different way. I almost don't dare allow myself to dream that it might actually all come to pass.

The closing date for applications was 30th June so I am currently watching my post box and Inbox with fear and trepidation to see if I get selected for interview.
But everything about it just feels right. The timing, the subject, the location all couldn't be more perfect.

So, when someone asks me what I'm going to do with all my free time, come September, I just cross everything and dream a little dream.....

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Supreme Bad Hair Day (and How To Fix a DIY Hair Dye that Goes Wrong)

The other week I coloured my hair. It was 4 days before Cybermummy and I made the really stupid decision to abandon my normal, perfectly acceptable colour and go for a darker shade - just four days before a really big event where I was going to be meeting hundreds of people. I mean, what was I thinking?!

And of course, it went wrong. It went way too dark. It had that bluey, black hue that is all the rage with Goths, but that's not such a great look on a middle-aged mum. Plus it made my skin look a funny colour. And I only had 4 days to put it right.

The next day, on the school run, I had a couple of people say "Oh you've dyed your hair, it looks nice," (they were lying), one person who say "Did you know someone has attacked your hair?!" (hurtful but more honest) and most tellingly, the majority of my actual friends who said absolutely nothing at all (which was the final nail in the coffin).

So on returning home, I fired up the laptop, and consulted the oracle (aka Google). I typed "hair dye too dark" and was presented with a vast array of options, the first of which were quite condescending - "you shouldn't dye your own hair, you should always have it coloured by a professional". Yep thanks for that.

Then, by chance, I stumbled across a site where someone had posted a question almost identical to mine, after which someone had posted a reply. There then followed a hundred or so comments from people saying thanks for the tip, it had saved their hair. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought and I gave it a go - and it worked!

So for anyone else who suffers a hair-dye that goes wrong (it works for too dark or for grey/green highlights apparently), here's what you need to do:

* Mix 1 part conditioner with 3 parts lemon juice
* Saturate hair with mix and leave to work its magic (the first time I left it for 30 mins, the 2nd time for 1 hour, just to be sure!)
* Dry hair with a hairdryer (with mixture still in) until it's crispy
* Wash with shampoo & rinse (you will probably see dye coming out as you rinse)
* Dry and style as normal and marvel at how your hair has been restored!

I had exactly the same type of hair disaster about 6 years ago, the result being I had to go to the hairdressers, have all my hair bleached and then dyed mid brown, which is obviously not a great thing to do to your hair. This time I had neither the time nor the finances to fund such a rescue mission. And the biggest bonus - apart from the disappearance of the blue black tinge - was the fact my hair was so silky soft, having been bathed in conditioner. Yay!

I honestly can't tell you how relieved I was. And it certainly spared my blushes at Cybermummy and prevented anyone from thinking I was Siouxie Sioux! So this blog post is a chance for me to pay it forward and pass on this DIY fix. And my opportunity to publicly thank God for Google and lemons!