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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cough, cough, cough....

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur - mywritingshed
Hi everyone!

Plagiarising a very dear friend of mine, Camilinha (if you haven't visited her blog "Ateliê Imaginário" yet, you don't know what you're missing! It's in Portuguese, but it's so sweet!!) , this post is a very delayed "spring clean"! :)

I know, I know... I haven't written for ages... After the blog challenge of May, I totally ran out of ideas. It didn't help that I started to work full-time either, leaving home really early and not getting back before 8pm. To be honest, all I wanted was a shower, food, a good book to read, lovely cwtches from Hubby and disappear to "Lululand".... Zzzzzzz...

I'm home today, with an ear infection. The TWO ears, can you believe that? Hunf! But I'll be back to work tomorrow. Two more days and then it's weekend again. I'll try to stop by with another post.

I have thought loads about writing. I swear! Commuting has its advantages and there's no shortage of funny/interesting/poignant/weird/ridiculous scenes and situations in train stations or in the streets. It drives me nuts sometimes, especially when I'm in a hurry and can't stop to take notes. Sometimes I wish my eyes would work like a camera: click, click, click... and presto! I'd have in my mind all the images to use as writing prompts. But no. My eyes don't work as a camera (I hope nobody else's do, or I'd be really jealous!) and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is wait for my laptop to boot. Sorry, a thousand times sorry.

I'll have to plagiarise Camilinha's post again. I just wanted to let you know what I've been up to since.... let me check... 15th May!!!!! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and here we go...

* I've got a new job! I'm now working at Cardiff Met Uni, as an English Pre-Sessional Teacher... Getting there, getting there. :)
* I've met some very nice and interesting people. Still, I miss the comfort of my old friends from Brasil, and my sisters. 
* I've supported Brasil during the World Cup (obviously!), and was shocked when they lost to Germany. To be honest, I went to bed really embarrassed after the 5th goal. In the final, I was all Germany! :D
* Hubby and I got way too excited with my new job: bought a new bed, ordered carpet for the bedroom and tiled the whole bathroom (with Dad-in-law's help!)! It looks lush! :)
* I had a visit from a dear friend from Brasil. Emilia came to stay for 3 weeks and we had a great time! We visited Bath and Stratford-Upon-Avon. My writer's hands were itchy, but again, no time to write anything down... :(
* Hubby and I discovered a new TV series: Prisoners of War. We got totally hooked! 
* My neighbour got a cocker spaniel puppy, Toby. I'm in love! 
* Our garden is lovely and the flowers are stunning! :)
* Visited Tenby with Hubby for his birthday.
* We've just had a little domestic crisis (a burst pipe in the bathroom), so I have to go now.

Promise I'll be back at the weekend.
Thanks for your patience and for not abandoning me! :)

Dani x

The Potter's Shed

Thursday, 15 May 2014


Writer's block...

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur
                                                                     (cartoon from "The Pajama Diaries")

Oh my... 
Ok, I'm suffering from writer's block. Argh!!! It's just a horrible thing. I'm usually ok with writing and always have loads of ideas. Sometimes the ideas are for my book, sometimes they are just about anything else. But, still, they are there - or here, with me.

I've been quite busy in the last two weeks, and have been a bit absent from the blog. Now that things have gone back to "normal", I've been trying to carry on with writing my book. 

It hasn't been easy. It really hasn't. I need help. Desperately. 

You know when you're writing a story and you have that character that you "don't like"? How do Iyou carry on writing the story when you know that the jerk will be there, messing everything up with the heroine's life, treating her like an object while promising her the world... when he's a total asshole? 

And the worst thing is that the love of her life is just around the corner (literally), but she has to spend time with the bad guy first in order to get to the one who'll save her and sweep her off her feet.... 


Hard, really hard. I'm sure that as soon as I get through with this, the story will just go on so much easier! I've already got bits of the nice part of the story ready, but there is a massive gap in between....  

What do I do? I don't want to just write rubbish, just so I can finish this part quickly...


Any advice, please?

Thanks a million. You're the best! :)

Saturday, 10 May 2014

"Early retirement"... :P

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur

      I haven't been here for a while... I've been exhausted with my "secondary school teaching job", and most of the days I would just come home around 5pm (had left to catch the train at 6am!), have some food, a shower and go straight to bed.
      First, about this cartoon... I used this cartoon a looooong time ago for a Classroom Management workshop in Brasil. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I found it again today on this website. I wish I'd come across it sooner though, and remembered that things in the classroom can actually be like that.
      Well, I have to tell you that I've "retired" from being a high school teacher. I know, I know... I was so excited on my first day (read here) and I really thought I'd enjoy it forever. I couldn't be more wrong. 
      We had a bank holiday last Monday, so my week was one day shorter. I was so glad for that. I was dreading seeing some classes for a second week... (not a very good thing for a teacher to say, right?). After  the encounters with my first, second and third periods again this week (years 10, 9 and 11), I've concluded that I must keep on getting "Young Tough Teachers" on demand and look for "Educating Essex" (which has an option for setting up a "parent control PIN"!?) on YouTube. 
      The school I've been going to is one of the best ones in the area, so I thought I'd be in Heaven with very well behaved pupils. I've always thought/experienced that boys often tend to be more disruptive and naughty than girls; but gosh, when girls decide to play up... Boys will mostly chat loudly and hit each other playfully (hopefully), being more immature than girls. 
      However, girls have an infinity of gadgets to keep them distracted. During the last two weeks, these are some examples of what they "entertained themselves" with in the classroom:
      - a nail file;
      - "thousands" of coloured pens;
      - mirrors, all sizes and types;
      - hair brushes (same variety as above);
     - mobile phones (of course, because taking pictures of one's eye is soooo educational and appropriate for an English lesson... I have to admit that the result is quite cool, though...);
      - Fifty Shades of Grey (yep, a 14-year-old girl! Shocking.);
      - super long and pointy fake nails;
      - a bag of sliced strawberries;
      - sending my direction: rolling eyes, nasty looks, sighs, mumbles and swear words which they thought I couldn't hear/understand.
       Effects these two weeks in class had on me:
      - many times I felt my face red and burning at the end of the lesson, so angry and frustrated I was;
      - have I mentioned that I was drained of my energy, and that I was going to bed before 8pm?
      - one day, right at the end of a stressful lesson with a year 11 class, I just walked to one boy, who was "doing yoga" (or whatever stupid thing he was doing stretched on the classroom floor) and say: "Now, are you taking the piss?"
       I don't need to tell you all about the commotion that it caused... "Miss, you said a swear word!"; "Miss, you are not allowed to swear in class, do you know that?"; "Miss, can I use this word in my essay?"... Aaaaarrrgggghhhhh....
Daniela Pesconi-Arhur
                                                                                (picture from Wikipedia)
       After two whole weeks I had enough. My so desired secondary school teaching career ended two weeks after it started. Luckily, my private student is coming back. I really missed her. An adult, super nice woman to teach and to talk to. I won't be teaching her any literature or any punctuation rules. I'll be teaching her my mother tongue, Portuguese. And the best thing: from the comfort of my home!  And THAT will be cool.... ;)

Monday, 5 May 2014

One more day

                                                                           (Photo by Hans Von Rittern)

      "One more day..." 
     You know that type of thing, right? It's the perfect phrase to start an excuse. An excuse for anything; for everything.
     One more day....
     ... of stuffing my face and then tomorrow I'll start the diet (for the hundredth time)
     ... of slouching on the settee all day and then tomorrow I'll start working out
     ... of putting off the spring clean
     ... and I'll call (insert the name of the person here) my dad/sisters/friend(s) 
     ... and I'll tell (again, insert the name of the person here) my dad/sisters/husband that I love them
     ... and I'll book to have my hair done/nails done/a waxing

     Well, you know what? Let me tell you something... One day, all you'll want will be one more day. And guess what... you won't have it. Your body may just give up; you may never be able to walk again; your clothes will be smelly and eaten by moths; (insert the name of the person here) your dad, sisters/friend(s)/husband won't be around anymore for you to call them or tell them you love them; there will be no point in booking a hair/nail/waxing appointment because you've already missed the party/the weather has gone horrible again.

      I've used the one more day phrase so many times in my life. And still do. And more often than not it is too late. 
      Mother, I wish you were still here. Emoji
       Dani. x


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Bye bye, Facebook app

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur

      Drastic? Yeah, you can say that. Why? Well, let's say I want to avoid all the Mother's Day messages and poems and posts, just so I don't hurt more. It's the second Mother's Day without my mum (Letter's to my mother). Well, at least a Brazilian Mother's Day, cause if you also count the ones in the UK, then that will be the 4th for me. No, thank you very much.
      I'll be using Facebook from my laptop only now, and just to post my blog(s) updates. I'll do my best to keep up with birthdays as well, and I already apologise if I miss yours. I really didn't mean to.
      I won't disappear entirely, though. You can always come and visit the Potter's Shed anytime and leave me messages here. You can also contact me on Twitter. It's just Facebook that I'm "running away" from. I will continue to express my opinion about loads of stuff, and will continue to share stories, bits of life and and love (as my dear friend Fran wrote to me, about reading my blog! Thanks, Fran!). I found out that I express my opinions much better in writing long texts or articles, and not participating in "conversations" over Facebook posts and comments. 
      Aos meus amigos que nao falam ingles, deixei ao lado um widget "Translate this page". Ate que funciona legal pra traduzir do ingles pro portugues. E voces podem ler qualquer texto em portugues. Olhem soh:

I hope you like it and keep on visiting.
Thanks a million!

Dani. x


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

It's Monday, 5.43 am.

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur

Monday, 5.43 am.

           'Great! Fucking great!'
            I look at myself in the mirror, my eyes barely open, but I can still see it. The massive, yellow, disgusting, painful beast. A spot, right below my left nostril.
            I can't believe it. It has to be there, as an affront; an alien to my face, just to tease me, knowing how panicky I already am; how insecure I can bel how my self-esteem lives permanently in a swing, and that it can go down as quick as a wink...
            I has to be there on my first day at school... What's worse... High school! As if the bad belly isn't enough; as if last night's dreams of getting it all wrong haven't scared me enough.
            I don't want to go. I don't want to go. Please, can I just disappear? 
            No, I can't. I'm the substitute English teacher.


          I'm starting at this new school today. My first time as a "proper" high school English teacher. At least I'm going to the same school all week, with the possibility of being there until July. Fingers crossed.
             I've been a teacher for about 15 years. I did most of my teaching in Brazil, in language schools. I still keep in touch with some students from over 10 years ago. It's just brilliant! Especially when I see how much they've grown and what they're doing now (uni, living abroad, married with children). I've taught high school, university, young (very young) children and older people too. 

             Still, the first class with a group is always nerve-racking, but this is the first time I'm doing it in the UK. Yep, a Brazilian teaching English to high school students in the UK. Cheeky? Mmmm... I'd say brave. I've been in the classroom with 46 fourteen-year-olds once. Some of them were really well behaved; most of them weren't. 
             I get to school, sign in and wait to be given directions. About 15 minutes later, I am also given my timetable for the day and a supply teacher manual! Yay! And that's all I'm given. No worries. I can do this, I say to myself. I wanted so much to be here, that I won't let anything upset or stress me. 
              First thing is registration. I'm so happy to see that I'm suddenly surrounded by about 30 tiny people from Year 7. They are so cute, and I'm glad that I'll be seeing them first thing in the morning for the rest of the week... I love being called "Miss"...   :-)
                 Ok, I won't make this too long. What have I got to say after the first day:

              1) Students/teenagers will always be teenagers, no matter what country they live in.
                2) Most of my students so far are very well-behaved. (phew)
                3) In period 3 (the 3rd class) I saw myself in the Hall with 32 noisy teenagers for Drama class (What? Did I sign up for that???) and I didn't know what to do. So, I "improvised" (after all, it's a Drama class) and ended up with groups of students performing a car crashe, a zombie apocalypse, another car crash, a zombie attack to a bus (I guess someone has been watching too much "Walking Dead") and the last group had a girl in crutches who whacked a thief on the head. And then the bell rang to announce break time. I survived.
            4) There was also a student who shouts in the classroom, without warning, making me jump every time.
            5) I also had a teacher assistant in my class for the first time.

            In the end, I guess I just loved all of it... Masoquist? I wouldn't say that. It's hard, especially at the beginning, when you don't know your students and what they need. Actually, they're no even my students! I'm just a supply teacher. But one that's hoping to stay. :)

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur


Monday, 28 April 2014

Just One More Shot - Guest post by Ruby Holmes

Daniela Pesconi-Arthur

Hi there! I hope you are all well! Today's post is another guest post. It was written by a fellow writer and Creative Writing (TWICE!) classmate, Ruby Holmes (click her name to follow her on Twitter), and it touched me deeply. Having taken Creative Writing classes together, I'd listened to a few of her writing, and always adored the way she uses the words... I hope you like it too...


Just One More Shot

I woke up in clean pyjamas, the bed still made around me. I sat up and stretched and marvelled that I felt positive and energised. I peed then went into my unusually tidy living room. No pizza boxes stamped on the carpet, no broken wine glasses, no over-spilling ashtrays and, as I’d peed, I’d noted that there were no remnants of vomit on the porcelain. I had drunk at least two bottles of wine a night for the last ten years, often more but until now never less.

I flipped the kettle on and readied my mug. Steaming coffee in my hand I sat at the table and began to journal, as has been my compulsion for years. But there was an A4 sheet of paper, typed, with my signature at the bottom. I sipped my coffee and read. ‘Ruby June Holmes Is hereby banned from the premises of Asda, Walmart and all its conglomerates’.

Er, um, what?, er…sips more coffee…what in the hell?

The rest of the piece of paper was full of legal jargon and at the bottom the number of my local store. I picked up the phone and dialled.

‘Hi, I seem to have a form here that says I’m banned from your stores, er, what?

‘Is this Ruby?’ came the reply.

‘Er, yes’

‘What is it you want? ‘ the gruff man said impatiently.

In my finest English accent that betrays my upbringing in poverty I said ‘Well, Sir, I’d like to know why I have it.’

‘You came into the store last night’ He said.

‘Are you sure? What time?’ I enquired.

‘Round about 3am, you were stuffing things in your bag.’

‘What? I’ve never stolen in my life! What did I say?’

‘We couldn’t determine if you spoke English’ he chuckled as he said this. ‘We called the police after you’d paid for some stuff then tried to leave with the rest.’

Ok, I have never committed a crime in all my life. I wouldn’t even add a penny sweet to the bag in the village newsagent in case they counted, thought I’d tried to add one extra and sent me to Holloway Prison for fifty years.

‘Ok what can I do? I asked, still in my most educated sounding accent that I can put on when waitressing or getting refunds from Vodafone.

‘Love there’s nothing you can do’ and he hung up.

I had a cigarette and put the butt in the bin. Upon doing so I saw a clue as to how this had all come about. Two empty bottles of wine and an empty bottle of vodka. I’d remembered driving to Nash Point Lighthouse in the day and until now thought the sea air had helped me sleep so well. I had no recollection of drinking any of it, going to Asda or coming home. To this day I have no idea how I did the three mile trip. And then, by the front door was a bag for life with a pole sticking out of it. They had let me keep what I had actually paid for. What I intended to do with, and how I got home with, three bottles of mouthwash, femfresh and a mop remains a ridiculous mystery.

I live in fear that one day I’ll settle down with a cup of tea, watch Worlds Dumbest Criminals and see me wondering the aisles in my fully addled state. I would say it wasn’t my finest moment but you know, it may well have been.

I had long since ceased to function in day to day life. Dysfunction had become my Dystopia. But I had never stopped dreaming of what my Utopia would feel and look like.

My name is Ruby and for twelve years I was a writer and a hopeless alcoholic.

I wanted to be great, and all the greats drink or drank right? Well, seeing as I was already a pathetic drunk I was halfway to success. My idea of my future, as I said I still dreamed of one, was full of reading and writing. The former sober and the latter whilst spectacularly pissed. Alone I drink and alone I write! I am a cliché and I’m embracing it! I relied on the drink (usually cheap wine) to ‘unlock’ my mind, tickle my imagination and call forth a manic rush of inspiration. I’d write on my laptop (if it wasn’t being repaired after another wine-on-the-keyboard incident) and more often in notebooks. The fancy type with patterns of butterflies, birds and flowers guarding the genius that had poured forth as the wine did the same.

And so it went by. Twelve years of being fecked every night and so many full journals and computer files that lay as evidence that I was indeed a writer.

Then I started to die. Physically and mentally I had one binge left. My friends were tired of my announcements, every other day that ‘TODAY IS THE DAY I QUIT ALCOHOL’, the frequent suicide attempts and the FaceBook statuses hollering out my thoughts on the Human Condition and song lyrics that were fit for a funeral.

So it was on June 25th 2011 I gently washed up my glass and tipped away the remainder of the bottle into the sink. Eight weeks later I phoned my dearest friend and told her I had two months sober. I was adored. I got off the phone picked up a notebook and did something I thought only alcohol gave me the permission to do: I started to write. By giving up the shots I was given one more shot.

This June it will be the three year anniversary of the end of my drinking career, and three years anniversary of the start of my writing career. For shits and giggles I’m beginning to read over some of the work I have done sober. It is in no way ground breaking but there’s a definite improvement in content, style and, well, coherence. I’ve also begun to revisit the pages of ‘work’ I produced when drinking and thought that I sounded quite profound, sometimes a literary genius, an example of which I give below.

I had believed that alcohol and writing, for me, were intimately entwined, one a parasitic twin to the other. If volume was the aim then my alcoholism worked. But who wants diarrhoea when you can have a perfect shaped and relieving poop?

I’m a lesbian, obsessed with lighthouses and talking about poo. Freud is leaping up out of his grave and dashing to get his white coat.

My reality now is that I am sober and I write and I have something to write about now that I am living instead of just existing. I meet people and actively engage with them without worrying that I am drinking faster than them. I listen to people and read their faces instead of them being human shaped wine bottles dancing in front of me. I do what I hadn’t done in twelve years: I learn. And I write. I write therefore I am. And I write because I am lucid.

Example of my ‘genius’ (No spelling, grammar or punctuation has been changed from the original piece.)

To live in the old house. To throw grenades on stately lawns in their nascent green.

The bus driver, for whom we had a whip at the ferris wheel. I need to deny myself so that I lose weight but its bigger every day and the sound of ducks annoy me. And you, five hundred years old and young as the lawn.