Saturday, 9 August 2014

She returns!

So I’ve been doing a few things since my last update, including but not limited to:
  • Enjoying the return to form in the new Legend of Korra show, which has finally hit its stride on characterisation and dynamics between characters, and set up an interesting and morally ambiguous storyline where we actually can get wholeheartedly behind the protagonist for once. Also every location has been amazing, early-20th-century-sci-fi-aesthetic metal flower cities are the greatest thing ever I will fight you.
  • Buying rattan furniture, and other furniture, and a washing machine, and then putting the furnitures and appliances into an awesome new flat. For a while I was living in a different flat that already had someone else’s furniture in, but that someone else turned out to be The Worst. New furniture and new place, on the other hand, is great!
  • Going dancing at clubs in flip flops and then having women in heels step on my feet, then wondering if the strange hard lump on the top of my foot that this incident created is literally going to be there for the rest of my life.
  •  Playing Bastion. Playing Transistor. Thinking about super beautiful apocalyptic indie games for a while. Then downloading DOSBox so I can play a super old shareware Capture the Flag game forever. (A lot of FTL and King of Dragon Pass have also happened.)
  • Listening to Development Drums, a podcast which I discovered through a recommendation that read “why would anyone pay for a development degree when they could just listen to this podcast instead?” After listening to 4 episodes I am sympathetic to this statement – though luckily I never paid for a development degree, so that is something.
  • Haircut!
  • Walking a lot and eating much less processed sugary crap and consequently losing over twelve kilograms. Now I have very few items of clothing that fit me properly, whoops! But hurrah for healthy life choices regardless of their incidental consequences.
  • Supporting losing teams in the World Cup, then failing to follow the Commonwealth Games.
  • Oh yeah and also moving to Myanmar to intern for the EU delegation. Possibly should have put that one first.

As you may have noticed, one of the things I have not been doing is writing. Or rather, I have been writing, but the writing has been thousands of words of political analysis which is sent away to highly important people (probably) with someone else’s name at the bottom. I have not been writing for me, or for you: an unforeseen and disappointing consequence of a job which has otherwise been one of the best things I have ever done in my life.*

Since March, I have learned many important things. Some of these things have been about this country, which is beautiful and overwhelming and difficult and vastly different to engage with compared to the inscrutable and ridiculous happenings of China.** I have had the opportunity to learn about many fascinating political processes and events, and talk to some equally fascinating people about said political processes and events. On a no less extraordinary note, I have discovered many things about what happens when it rains literally every day for three months and counting. Did you know that unopened packets of spaghetti can develop black mould inside and disintegrate within weeks? I did not know this, but now that I do it will probably influence my pasta buying decisions for the rest of my life. Other things that happen in endless rain include flooded roads, constant grime, wooden doors which inexplicably no longer want to close, having one’s covered balcony turn into a refuge for half the neighbourhood’s pigeon population, and a growing sense of emotional discontent and misery. Luckily, the rains cannot last forever… I hope.

Besides, the ins and outs of monsoon weather (and also political transition and conflict resolution, let’s not forget those), I’ve also been learning a few more things about myself – silly, trivial things about priorities and relationships and affirming my own self-worth and discovering what I want to do with the rest of my life, stuff like that. I will never regret the time I spent in China, or the things I got up to while I was there, but at the same time I’m aware that in many ways those were years of stasis – I studied some fascinating stuff and made some lifelong friends, but I didn’t really grow in the same way that I have here. This new growth is exciting and terrifying, and it’s also made me a little unsure of where the “new” me (oh dear, how pretentious) stands in relation to my old stances and interests. I’m no longer the “gender expert” in a classroom full of interested peers, nor am I in the UK trying to figure out where I fit into the domestic feminist movement. I’m in Myanmar, as feminist as ever but focusing on a very different set of issues in my regular work. Where does that leave AAF?

The short answer is, I don’t know. But I’m also aware that if I don’t reclaim my space for personal writing soon, it will only become harder in future. So I am coming back, and I am writing weekly again (although I know I have said this before and it has not happened, so we’ll see), but I am making absolutely no guarantees about subject matter for a little while. I still have tons of thoughts on media and British politics and China and gender in development, but these are also competing for space with a lot of new thoughts on life and politics in Myanmar and on the complexities of being a 25-year-old intern finding out what her career might have in store. I have no idea what is to come of this, but there is only one way to find out. Adrienne’s blog is back!

*I was also not writing for a little while before then, because being unemployed for many months with no end in sight was not very good for my mental wellbeing or upkeep of hobbies. Let’s not dwell on that too much though.

**This is not to say that things here are never strange or inscrutable, but in terms of second-guessing motives for political decisions, trying to figure out what is going on in the minds of the Chinese government is a very special kind of futile.