Textual Analysis – Drag Queen edition.

In this particular blog post I shall be dissecting part of the lyrics of RuPaul’s infamous Mash-Up from All Star’s 2 – Read U Wrote U. Regarding the lyrics as a form of beat poetry, the 3rd stanza – written by Brian McCook – will be the focus of our study. Why? Because why the fuck not?

The stanza is book-ended with the author’s pseudonym Yekaterina (Petrovna) Zamolodchikova. This reminds the reader that this is a biographical piece.

Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova
But your dad just calls me Katya

In previous works, McCook mentions Olympic gymnast [Elena} Zamolodchikova as one of his inspirations. One could look on this as transferred epithet of both the fluidity of the body, expressed in both McCook and Zamolodchikova, as well as the fluidity of gender demonstrated in his performance of the piece. Loosely translated, Petrovna means ‘rock.’ McCook’s intentions behind this name are not clear, however one could translate it has having a strong foundation, possibly by Anastasia Beverly Hills… “Yekaterina” is a Russian name with Greek origins, meaning “pure” or “wholesome.” The use of irony is clear here, as it is directly juxtaposed with the implications that Katya has slept with the readers’ fathers. The whore.

Before analysing the lyrics of the song, it is important to look at the structure of the poem. The verse follows a strict AAB CCB DDB EEB… pattern. This pattern is most commonly seen in a ballad. Ballads are a great way to tell stories, and are often used to convey a deeply meaningful event in life. We are introduced the character of Katya in the first line of the verse with a physical description.

I’m the bright red scare with the long blonde hair
Always keep ’em coming back for more

Here, McCook addresses the reader indirectly with the use of “’em” – which the reader feels to be part of. This is a common technique used in ballads as the reader can insert themselves into the story immediately, and can relate to it more easily. We also see the mention of her “long blonde hair” – a nod to Katya’s Russian heritage and femininity. The term “bright red scare” has connotations beyond the red clothes Katya typically wears. In the West “red scare” was a term synonymous with the fear of communism. That being said, the colour red has had a positive association long before it’s correlation to Communism. The words ‘red’ and ‘beautiful’ are similar in Russian, yet another reminder of the physicality of the author.

You’re a basic ass hoe and it’s your time to go
So bitch let me show you the door

Here, the context of the piece becomes evident. The author is reading the reader for filth, and placing the piece directly in a competition setting. Her intentions and implications are clear – Katya believes that she is superior to the reader, yet is humble enough to escort a bitch out. It shows a level of class that Katya possesses…

Cause it’s me whose getting laid and I’m always getting paid;
The only high class Russian whore
I’m a scorching hot mess in a skin tight dress
That’s a rash, not a herpes sore

The following lines of the stanza immediately re-enforce the marrying of Katya and class. However, the cognitive dissonance is evident to the reader, with the juxtaposition of ‘high class,’ ‘whore,’ and ‘mess.’ Again, the threat of communism is there  multiple times. Once, with the mention of ‘scorching’ – giving connotations of the redness associated with it. The second time we are introduced to the concept in a more graphic way, whereby the reader is reminded on communism through the redness of herpes a rash.

Lenin in the streets, Dostoyevsky in the sheets
Baby, are you ready for this Cold War?

Lenin stated that the new Soviet Union was surrounded by a “hostile capitalist encirclement”, and he viewed diplomacy as a weapon to keep Soviet enemies divided. The struggle between communism and capitalism is real child, highlighting the issues within drag race itself, a show built on building a community for massive gain. Are we ready for that? Yes gawd. Dostoyevsky himself wrote many erotic letters to his lover long after they were married, showing himself to be the original sexter, and therefore someone you want in the sheets. He believed that the world was hungry for sex, and while he may not have approved, he was right.

In conclusion, Russian through this we see an autobiographical journey of a competition, sprinkled with some history and linguistics. UNNnnhhh.

A day in the life of a grad student.

08:00 – I am awake. My alarm will not snooze any more and I have 15 minutes to shower, get dressed, eat something healthy, do some squats, mentally prepare for the day ahead and then meet my friend to walk into uni.

08:11 – My shower is Katy Perry. Hot and then cold. It is not pleasant.

08:12 – My flatmate fills the kettle to make tea, scorching me to within an inch of my life in the room next door and forcing me out the shower.

08:12 – Shit I’m going to be so late.

08:16 – I am one minute late but I am dressed. I have not eaten yet, I have a large tea bouncing in my hand and my hair is still wet with last nights make up dripping down my face. Am I hungover? I recall the three beers I had last night and consider that I’m maybe just tired.

08:18 – My friend slept in so I head off. I am grumpy and slightly damp. I remember I haven’t put deodorant on. The last time I put it on may have been days ago.

08:25 – I also didn’t do my squats. I walk a little faster to maybe make up for it but I know it won’t make a difference. I dream of cheese twists and Twix’s.

08:45 – I arrive at the library and find a computer with the optimum position. I’m right at the wall. There is no one around. I beam triumphantly and then I remember that it’s Saturday and of course no one is in. I consider doing squats in the toilet whist I put on deodorant.

09:00 – The cafe opens. I have budgeted £2 for tea today. Fortunately this isn’t my first all day library session as a marketing post grad, so I know how to stretch this money. The last time I was home my mother gave be portable shot glasses. I repurposed them into tea carriers.

teaOh, you think I’m joking? By taking tea bags and milk like this I can get 8 cups of tea out of my £2. That’s right. Eight times more tea than if I hadn’t bothered. I am pleased with myself. I am so thrifty. I hate Starbucks.

10:30 – I turn off my phone in an attempt to focus on my dissertation proposal. I’m not one for facebook but I find myself on the weird part of youtube, not concentrating.

11:00 – I check instagram for the 400th time in the past 2 hours and find that I have a new follower. I stalk them, tastefully liking at least two of their recent photos before deciding that it’s ok if they follow me but I probably won’t return the favour. I feel smug. And powerful. I’m winning at a game that no one else is playing.

12:30 – I realise that I have been staring out of the window for over seven minutes. I think of the game seven minutes in heaven and remember 13 going on 30, the movie with Jennifer Garner. I think of Juno, which Jennifer Garner was also in. I remember that song by Barry Louise Porter, All I want is you. I think about I think of other songs that have the lyric If I were…

13:00 –  I’m contemplating how sweet it is that all that Tevye would want is to have a seat by the Eastern wall, if he was a rich man. I’d want a lot more than that. Like a flat in Park Circus that has a mezzanine.

13:01 – I wonder who Yente would choose for me….

13:03 – I search for musicals on Spotify.

13:14 – I get paranoid that people are staring at me sometimes. I know that I’m wearing a men’s XXL shirt and leggings but there is a girl in here wearing jodhpurs and a flower crown. I am not the weirdest one here.

13:16 – I can’t get over how catchy Rocky Horror’s Time warp is! I can’t stop seat dancing.

13:16 – I realise why people are staring.

14:00 – My stomach growls loudly enough for the girl next time me to shift her eyes over to me without moving her head from it’s resting position on her hand. I have written 1600 words of my proposal. My eyes are sore.

14:05 – I settle down to lunch. It is a disappointing cold fish cake left over from last nights vigorous and spontaneous desire to cook something with substance. I choke down a spoonful of chia seeds in a feeble attempt to trick my body into thinking it’s full. For some reason I think they are good for me so I keep shovelling them in. They are tasteless, and lack substance. Much like my proposal…

15:30 – I finally remove the chia seeds from my teeth. My tongue hurts. I should visit the dentist next time I’m home.

16:00 – It’s hour seven. I see people just coming into the library and I scoff. Amateurs. The libary madness is setting in. They are at the beginning. I am the end.

16:01 – Isn’t that a bible passage? I am the first and the last, the first and the beginning, the alpha and the omega.

16:02 – It is. Corinthians 22:13.

16:02 – So is the love is patient love is kind thing… I thought that was from sex and the city.

16:04 – I feel guilty for not knowing that…. I feel the Catholic guilt.

16:05 – I remember the time I lied to my parents when I was three and a half and feel guilty.

16:10 – I am shame spiralling big time. I’m remembering every stupid thing I have ever done ever. I am so stupid.

16:11 – I thought that the Falkland Islands were where Orkney was.

16:12 – Like, how did I not know that. What have I been doing with my life. Why am I even here.

16:30 – I stare blankly at the screen, the mouse pulsating at the last place I stopped typing. How did I even get into this post grad. I am a fully fledged idiot. I thought that Carrie Bradshaw made up the most prolific love quotation of all time…

16:40 – I snap out of it. I have written 2000 words today. Good job that this thing isn’t due in for another 2 days because normally I’m way further behind. That’s the spirit.

17:00 – I’m an adult, I whisper, as I order 7 crackle candles from eBay.

17:30 – I wish there was eBay Prime, so I could get my crackley candles tomorrow. I simply cannot wait. I am a millennial. What is waiting…?

18:45 – I’m somehow 1/3rd of the way through Waiting for Godot.

18:46 – I’m Waiting for God-almighty is that the time? It’s nearly hour 9. NINE Hours in the libary.

19:00 – To quote Beckett “The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.” For each one who begins to enter the library, somewhere else another leaves. I.e. SEE YA BITCHES, I’M OUT.

19:09 – I wish I’d pee’d before my long walk home. 8 large Starbucks teas really take a toll on you.

19:28 – God I’m so healthy. All this walking and good eating. I’m part of the elite.

19:30 – I arrive home and my flatmate is trying to order Dumpling Monkey but her boyfriend isn’t up for it…

19:31 – It’s actually rude to NOT help her out actually. I’m just being a supportive friend. I’m a saint, really.

20:20 – Dumpling overload. I am queen dumpling. DumpKing. Ok… maybe not.

20:31 – Time for Netflix and beer.

20:32 – Ha! You thought I was gonna say Netflix and Chill. The only thing that’s chilling here is my god damn PBR.

22:00 – Ok, this is a reasonable bed time. I’ll start to get ready for be- HOLY SHIT DID I SAVE MY PROPOSAL.

23:50 – Just a few tweaks added to it. It’s almost perfect now.

00:00 – Too late for a beer? Nah

00:04 – Wow did I really only write 2000 words today? I should get some rest and get up early to work on it tomorrow.

00:30 – Beer break

00:58 – Beer break

01:00 – Beer break

01:30 – There. 1000 extra words of pish make up for it. Tomorrow I can call it editing and it’ll seem like I’m doing someth-hick……………

 

How not to Christmas Party

Since graduation in November 2015 I have working the real hustle. I’ve started my own business, which may well the smallest business in Scotland. I’m a dog walker, with about 4 regular clients. Alongside this I took a job as a waitress in a 4 star hotel with  big brand name, which I will not go into details about. Except in the work that I do there…

I started at the very end of November, which incidentally is the start of Christmas party season. I have put together a small guide of how to behave at such events, from the point of view of the people working there. Please, feel free to share this around the office when Christmas time rolls around again. Or spread it around passive aggressively after the fact. I will even put the headline in Christmas song format, so they will be easy to remember.

He sees you when you’re sneaking,
Booze out of your bag.
(Santa Clause is Coming to Town.)

So here’s the thing. We’re all adults (apart from the KPs who are generally under 18) and we know that adults will imbibe fermented fruit in alter to temporarily alter their brain chemistry. And it’s Christmas, so rock on. But don’t think for a second we won’t see you sneaking your guilty bottle in to avoid drink prices. Most hotels will allow you to bring in your own alcohol, providing you don’t mean a corkage charge. And there’s a reason. Your company will probably pay around £15/$30 per head for a Christmas meal. When you consider how that money is split between the cost of the food, the labour hours involved in prepping it, the chef’s wages to cook it and the waiting staff’s wages to serve it, £15/£30 doesn’t go very far. It’s no secret that hotels will make the most money from the bar, and that’s why we have to charge corkage to bring your own booze in.

I’ll be frank, if we see someone sneaking booze in we don’t think “Oooh, how edgy and system-breaking.” Instead we will roll our eyes and think you’re tacky AF. Sorry about it.

Shoes akimbo,
I bump and grind in front of my boss, a lot…
(Santa Baby.)

Remember, you will be the talk of the staff room not only at your own place of work, but mine too. I know a lot of office romances blossom at the old Christmas do, but you have to face these people again. If you’re the one crying at 10:30 because your boss capped the bar tab at £400/$800, please rethink your life choices. By all means, get lairy, get messy! It’s Christmas so fuck it. But just know when a good night out with work turns into a Gincident that marks you as a wild card at work.

And taking off your shoes and all is fine, but don’t wander about my hotel in and out of the bathroom in your ratchet tights, ladies. It’s not cute. Bring flats in your bag, like a lady. Alternatively, make sure you can walk in your heels. Watching you teeter ever so slowly across the lobby with your large Pinot Grigio and a Cosmo in either hand is frankly embarrassing.

We’ve pulled out all the tricks ba-rum-ba-pum-pum
Weeee deserve some tips ba-rum-ba-pum-puum
(Little Drummer Boy)

I know, it’s not something that is customary in a lot of places. Your company has paid their £15/£30 a head for the 3 course meal, put a £500/$1000* tab behind the bar, what more do you want! The thing is, at the end of your tab, when all the money has been drunk, your staff tend to get a bit boisterous, and ore often than not, sassy AF. I’m sorry we’re all out of Cointreau, but Lisa has tanned our last bottle since she’s ordered 15 of them. If we have to smile and grit our teeth when you insist on leering over my shoulder to make sure I’m getting your 8th round of drinks right (females) or leering down my shirt when I’m trying to clear your table of thousands of beer bottles (men) I think it’s not whitin the realms of common decency to leave a small tip. I mean what’s £20/$40 on top of an enormous bar bill? One can only dream.

*Yes, that’s a thing that happened…

And finally a note for those you have to work at these types of events. These people are actually paying  a lot of money to have a night out away from the stresses of work and to have a good time. Show them one. It’s hard to grin and bear it, but at the end of the day, it’s one (or two, or 9) evenings out of your whole year, and you never have to see these people again. And think, One night it will be YOU having one of these nights out, don’t inflict your worst customer self on other wait staff.

And wait until AFTER the beat has dropped to take your full tray of empty glasses back to the kitchen. Take it from the more experienced, it’s comical, but terrifying, to make your way across the dance floor at the pinnacle of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Have a safe and happy holiday season everyone!

 

 

(Not so) Monthly Favourites.

We’re still in the Post-Grad editions folks. I swear this will be over soon.

  1. Spotify App. I honestly love this. It’s worth paying £4.00 for, seeing as my mp3 player is actually about 7 years old.
  2. My student card. I’m really gonna miss all my discounts (see above…)
  3. Creations aromatic. As mentioned in a previous post, humans are the only animals to alter the smell of their environment. I do it with Creations. They are supposed to last around 10 hours but mine have all lasted way longer. I like the blueberry one.
  4. LUSH Shampoo bars. This year I have only spent £11.50 on shampoo. Here’s the thing. £5.75 is a lot for a bar of shampoo, I’ll admit. But it lasts about 5 or 6 times longer than regular bottles. And my hair is loooong. It needs a lot of shampoo. I’m just a huge fan. It’s so worth it. I like the one that smells like honey.
  5. Mindfulness colouring books. Colouring books for adults. I’m in the middle of my dissertation and they are so therapeutic and relaxing. I think their perfect for anyone with a stressful lifestyle. It’s a great way to just switch off and not think about anything for 10 minutes.
  6. Kale chips. I know, I’m vile. I have baked leaf as a snack. But trust me. Get a baking sheet and line it grease proof paper. Put loads of kale on it, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then go nuts. I like vinegar, salt and pepper, but you can try lemon or chipotle or whatever. Bake them at 180oC for about ten minutes until they’re about to turn brownish and eat. Delicious.
  7. Dogs. I am a dog walker. Try Holidogs to do a similar things. Earn money to walk cute pooches. Win win!
  8. Snyders Pretzel pieces. Hot buffalo wing flavour will rock your world. You can thank me later.
  9. Moleskin journals. I’ve spent most of my adult life wanting one and now I finally have a glorious red one. I love it.
  10. Planning. I’m finally going on the trip of my dreams and doing the Pacific Coast Highway in a caravan! Anyone who has been following this blog since I first started posting will know what a big deal this is to me, and I’m hugely excited to head off.

As always tag me in your monthly favourites because I love reading them! Peace xx

Bar 104

For once, the bar is empty. I stroll up to the front and casually order two large beers, because a litre is only one euro and fifty cents in this particular bar, if I remember correctly. The swarthy man behind the counter balks at the sight of me, and pours my Superbocks whilst staring.
“It’s been a while since you’ve been here – maybe 2 years?”
As my hands instinctively go to my mouth out of embarrassment I’m suddenly transported back in time to the first night alone in Lisbon.
I am 21 years old, and for the second time I’ve moved country to try and figure out what I want to do in life. I had just been given my spot in a 14 bed room in a hostel, which would be home for the next 5 months.  I have hung up towels and flags to block my bed from the view of strangers. Strangers who know Lisbon better than I do at this point.
Although it’s February there is a mildness to the evening breeze. It carries me out the door and up to Barrio Alto. It’s still too early for the night crawlers to start prowling the streets, but the day shift are certainly wavering. A few lonely stag dos wander the streets, separated from the rest of the pack. It’s a sight I’ll become used to; tipsy British men roaming the white cobbled hills, but right now I just need to find my love of the city.
Along Rua da Atalaia I see an old, run down, blue and white building. It’s so unimpressive that I would have walked right past it had I been in a rush to do anything with my night. I go in and buy a litre of beer for one euro fifty. There are no seats inside, so I carefully carry it out and along to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alacantara. The beer is ice cold, hurting my hand, and the warmth has left the city to be replaced by a bruise coloured sunset. As I sat with my giant cup near the railings of the lookout point I watched the sky blossom from teal to yellow and green, and then finally to the navy stillness marking the start of my first night there.
I would return to that spot many more times over the next few months, with many different people, ritualistic in my ice cold beers from Bar 104, and my love of the night sky. And it seemed that old habits would die hard. The passing years had no effect on my vigil appreciation of the city, and fortunately, very little had seemed to change. Including the price of a litre of Superbock.

Skye in 5

Last August I visited the Isles of Skye and Mull in a Ford van turned caravan. I took hundreds of photos but these are the ones I liked best so I thought I’d share them here.

sky2

This was the sunrise on our first morning of camping. We picked berries from the roadside and then headed off on the ferry to Mull from Loch Aline. You have to be up pretty early to see sunrise in Scotland in Autumn.

sky3

This is the view up Ben More, one of the steepest munroes in Scotland. It starts on the shore of a sea loch in Mull. We went up and down in 5 hours, including a half hour nap at the top in the fog and a play in the crystal clear waters on the way down.

sky4

This so me looking into the fog from the summit. Vertigo inducing stuff.

sky

This is one of the fairy pools on Skye at Glen Brittle. I loved this part of Skye, the waters were so clear and the colours were ethereal. We climbed down a pretty steep cliff to get to this photo but it was worth it.

sky1

Finally the Old Man of Storr (not Stoor) Everywhere we went around this part of Skye was adorned with these cairns and I got a bit obsessed with them. I just thought they were so pretty.

So go to Skye and Mull in Autumn/Fall. The weather was amazing, the views were incredible and the food, especially at the Crab Shack and the Three Chimneys, was delicious.

Lisbon in 3

I took three snaps on my last trip to Lisbon which constantly remind me of how much I love the place. To check out things to do I wrote a post about a year ago that you should check out.

Praca do comercio at sunset

I stayed here for a good hour watching the sun go down. There’s such a great atmosphere there at golden hour, people play music, they blow giant bubbles and it’s generally just a lovely place to spend an evening.

libs

The view from the Museu da cerveja.

lisb

Padrao de Descobrimentos

lizb

Belem is a cultural hub. Spend an afternoon here soaking up the culture and eating multiple pasteis de nata in a beautiful park.