Monthly Archives: March 2009

Me Me Me

Right, here’s the thing: I read a lot of blogs, and those bloggers read me, and we’ve never met in real life, or had a conversation outside of the topic of the blog, so I realised there’s a lot of things I wonder about you that maybe, sometimes, you wonder about me. So here, for you lot, are my ’25 Things’ – random facts, as they come to me, all about me in the real world:

  1. Tea makes me disproportionately happy. As does coffee.
  2. When I’m not on the internet I like reading anything and everything. Currently I’m having a poetry moment, but I’m now moving onto a book of short stories by China Mieville (check them out, he’s a great writer).
  3. I have a sister who’s two years younger than me, and I adore and admire her muchly, but don’t often bother to tell her, because I’m not the most huggy or fluffy of people.
  4. I have a great relationship with my parents, and almost always have. My mother and I laugh like schoolgirls at the silliest things, and my dad is incredibly similar to me in many ways.
  5. I play the cello reasonably well, and the piano unreasonably badly given that I’ve been learning both since I was six and four respectively (I took my grade eight cello and got a distinction aged fourteen, but the same year I nearly failed my grade five piano, which should tell you all you need to know).
  6. My room is almost always a mess, and I am shockingly disorganised and always late, though I honestly try not to be.
  7. I have no objections to getting unreasonably drunk every now and again. I think sometimes you need to, somehow. Although I’m almost always sorry for the consequences.
  8. I’m a Guardian reader, and reasonably left-leaning, though how much of that is due to the political upbringing I mainly got from my father, and how much is due to my own input, I’m still not sure. I think it’s mainly the former, which embarrasses me.
  9. I appear pretty confident, but I’m really not. I’m not comfortable with trying new things and I hate not to appear competent. In the same vein, I hate showing emotion in front of people which has led to a certain amount of sneaking off from parties and such in the past, which, ironically, only seems to get me more attention, which entirely isn’t the intent. Although I do like to be found, so maybe it is, let’s be honest. And I’m learning to laugh at myself.
  10. I’m a little bit in love with most of my closest friends, but then, isn’t everyone?
  11. I don’t tend to suffer fools, at all, bother ‘gladly’. That said I can be very patient and sympathetic, and I’ve been told I’m a ‘good listener’.
  12. I don’t like to bitch about people behind their backs and try to never do it, with one or two exceptions.
  13. As a family we’ve gone camping pretty much every year since I was about five. Somewhere mountainous. And then we walk, every day, and as the years go by I love it more and more. As a rule, I hate hotels. I’m a very outdoors person despite complete malco-ordination which leaves tents in knots around my fists and guy-ropes constantly ripped from the ground as I trip over them.
  14. That same malco-ordination makes me bloody hopeless at pretty much every sport bar running and swimming (and poi, if you can count that).
  15. I’m five foot seven, reasonably solid – not fat, no, but not as skinny as I’d like to be. I’m darkish blonde, I wear glasses most of the time, and like wearing men’s clothes, especially in combination with stupidly floaty dresses. I also have a penchant for bright red lipstick on occasion.
  16. I’m one of those people that carries a bag that would be more appropriately termed a snails shell or something – I carry my life in whatever sack i’m lugging about, especially spare hoodies and jumpers, Just In Case. Of what?
  17. I haven’t bought as many shoes this year as last. I am quite proud of this. But my new shopping vice is vintage jewellery, which is at least cheaper.
  18. I have, according to my mother, a very ‘boy’ taste in films. I put this down to the fact that the greater part of my cinematic education was through Callan’s collection, and that’s influenced what I like ever since, but then, it wouldn’t have been such an influence if I hadn’t fallen in love with a lot of his films. I like films which make you think although there’s always a place in my heart for a good old-fashioned romcom, especially When Harry Met Sally or Four Weddings And A Funeral. I also love Pride and Prejudice.
  19. I doodle all over everything but still claim I can’t draw. In comparison to many people, I can’t, but I still consider myself pretty good at it. Kind of.
  20. I’m always playing ‘What If’, and imagining my future. I always had a good imagination – my flatmate commented that my childhood, playing complex imaginary games with my sister with elaborately constructed whole worlds and political heirarchies, was a bit ‘Bronte-esque’.
  21. I listen to music almost all the time.
  22. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth; I like making cookies and brownies once in a while but I mainly love putting together big hearty meals to share with a few bottles and good company.
  23. I’m introverted: I will happily spend several days on my own, don’t really talk much to my coursemates, and am very independent.
  24. I was born in London, lived there until we went to America for nine months when I was three with Dad’s work, then we went back to London until I was six, when we moved to a small southern market town. I wasn’t ever happy at school, but I worked reasonably hard, got good grades, and loved college, discovering myself, and creating alcohol-fuelled, muddy, messy chaos in the process. Then we moved to another southern city just after my eighteenth birthday, and I’m very slowly building a life there, and meanwhile living it up here, up north, in this university town. I love it here.
  25. I’m still not sure this list is wholly representative of ‘me’.

So there you go. Comments, questions, and additions very much appreciate.

And meanwhile – who are you? Go on…

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Take Control Of Me

Or rather, please don’t.

I just got back from Church. Actually, I just ran away from Church, because I was absolutely terrified by something I saw there. A friend of mine, AK, was praying on the Weekend Away (which I couldn’t attend) for God to take control of her, and he supposedly answered in the most extreme way. In cell the following tuesday (again, I wasn’t there) she was taken over by shaking and twitching and random limb spasming which she could not control, and which meant, though she could talk and sing and so on, she could barely stand.

She got into this state again at Church today, and it completely freaked me out, becuase to my way of seeing it she has something wrong with her brain if she’s reacting like that. It could be something perfectly explicable and psychosomatic and fine – a bit like how I sometimes end up getting very cold and shaking uncontrollably in reaction to extremes of feeling and emotion and sensation – but to my untutored eye it looked almost like a fit, although she was fully conscious of the whole thing and was singing and talking and sitting and standing with everyone else as if shaking and twitching were a perfectly normal thing to do. And the people around weren’t concerned in the least – they were her friends who had seen her do this before, and were fine with it. The thing is, I know she isn’t the type to put this kind of thing on for attention, because she just hates people who do pull that kind of stunt. Therefore her Thing, whatever it was, was genuine. But I can’t understand it from a scientific point of view, and I can’t understand it from a theological point of view, and it terrified me. I ran out of the church in tears, into the lobby, and went and hid in the loos sobbing like a little girl until R came out to look for me, and tried to explain it as she saw it, from a perfectly accepting religious viewpoint. Her words of comfort to me were that since it scared me so much there’s no way God would ever manifest himself in me like that. I can’t remember her exact words, but they were something like that. She said I shouldn’t be worried by it and she was pretty freaked out the first time she ever saw someone Speak In Tongues, but she learnt to accept that.

Other things I hear in my church seem so rational. The guys who lead the services and give sermons speak so eloquently and rationally about all kinds of relevant, reasonable things, bits of theology, and so on. Do they know they’re sitting on a hotbed of hysterical students fitting out and garbling nonsense Tongues all over the place? Doesn’t it worry them? I don’t know how I feel about my Church now; I’m going to consider a new one if I’m still completely freaked out by the next service…

A Church which sees this Thing as a miraculous example of the power of God, and as a symbol that AK’s prayers have been answered, is a Church I cannot understand. Congregation members I’ve spoken to talk all the time of ‘miraculous’ things like Speaking In Tongues, Healing, Prophesy, and other such things, and I don’t get it. I really don’t get it at all – from a biological stand point, how do things like Speaking in Tongues even happen? Why did AK react like she did? What the hell do they mean by Prophesy? As I see it AK has got something wrong with her, with her brain, or some kind of psychological Issue, and I can’t stand that no-one else sees it like that.

I may have to find a new Church.

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How Things Change.

When I came here I was the kind of girl who was happiest in jeans and a man’s jumper, whose absolute limit on make-up was concealer, mascara and lipgloss (or possibly some black shadow if it was a *really* big-deal event) and who hated dress’n’heels type events; who hoped to find friends at uni with whom she could go to pubs and sit around casually chatting in hoodies and jeans rather than going to clubs in dresses, heels and *gasp* false eyelashes.

Somehow over the last few months, though, I’ve gained confidence. Now, not only will I gladly put on a dress to go out in, I’ll match it with tights in a stupid colour or pattern, mess my hair up good and proper and add a dash of alarmingly red lipstick. I’ve worn a pair of pink feather false eyelashes, and would do so again. I own a pair of gigantic gold heels. Once we all went out in gigantic white shirts covered in paint, with paintbrushes and berets, stereotypical-artist style, and looked bloody awesome (despite a photo in which I look like a pregnant alcoholic…). Daywear is quite acceptably one of many slightly odd dresses and an old cardigan of my father’s, and I’m about to go out shopping in the sunshine wearing a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses (Edit: On this trip I purchased two bikinis and about a billion new bras, all of which a billion times better and more flattering than previous bras I’ve owned, and one of which is even strapless. The expedition didn’t even drive me to tears, which bra-shopping as a full afternoon’s activity usually does! Progress!)

I still don’t consider myself pretty or good-looking in any way, but I’ve gained the confidence to enjoy dressing up and to find things which I genuinely think look good on me, in a completely mad and clashing way, in a ‘go on, look at me’ way, and not just in a ‘well, this dress somehow hides my stomache and minimises my thighs; therefore I look nice’ sort of a way. Don’t know why that should be but it is. I’ve gone just a bit girly, and I love it.

That said I do still own, love, and wear those men’s jumpers everywhere…

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Sunshine

The weather here is stunning. Sunny, warm. I went outside today to eat my lunch and send a few texts flying around the city, wearing only a dress, vest top and shoes. No tights! In March! What?? Hopefully we’re going outside later for a picnic; right now, I’m trying to find the motivation to get out of this beautiful dress and into my shorts and a t-shirt and go out running over the streets accompanied by my music. Down the road, out into the park, veering back out of the park half a mile later just before it turns into a path to the Peaks (one day, I tell myself, one day – I will run out along that park and break free of the city at speed. As yet I haven’t so much as been for a walk out in that beautiful countryside, despite a large number of potential walking partners.

In the park today it seemed that the place was populated entirely by couples: students licking ice-creams, in pairs, laughing and lying under the sky on the grass; elderly men and women walking companionably down past the fountain to the bit of the park where the real horticulture starts; young couples introducing small babies to the world, all their eyes full of wonder as if they’re all seeing it all for the first time. And me? I was alone. I’d even forgotten my book (currently Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters, which is beautiful), so I was just watching the world go by. I was happy, yes, but I couldn’t help but conjure up the Someone who didn’t turn up on Valentine’s day (he still doesn’t exist, I’m not imagining a real person really, so much as an amalgamation of assorted wonderful people in my life). Slipping my hand into his as if it’s always fit there, buying ice-creams together (he would laugh at me, because I’d be bound to spill ice-cream all down my chin and probably onto my dress as well), craving a cigarette, at which point he’d kiss me just to shut me up. And I’d stop him because, for crying out loud, everyone can see! I hate people who are overly demonstrative in public.

It’s silly – finally, for the first time in years, I feel complete enough as a person that I could fit someone else into my life without relying on them too much or pushing them away, and there’s no-one around to fill that gap. When I wasn’t OK, there were people alright, but I had nothing to give them, I didn’t know how. It doesn’t matter – like I say, most of the time I’m pretty happy in my own skin, and I’m realising more and more how lucky I am to have the friends I have, and the life I lead.

Basically I am happy, no complaints. So if Someone were to meet me now, perhaps he’d be captivated by that. Perhaps not. It doesn’t matter. If I never meet him, never mind.

Meanwhile, out for that run. Assuming no-one’s around to go and picnic with me instead…

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Naively…

…I somehow thought that we were better than this. Corrective rape? Really? And the government and the police do almost nothing about it.

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Skins Mark II

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to people you know in this blog is essentially accidental: I’m not talking about anyone specific here, just thinking about a general trend. 

Talking to people from the county in which I grew up, people who I didn’t know whilst I actually was growing up, and talking to people who I didn’t know whilst I grew up and who grew up elsewhere in different counties and regions, it would seem that the place I call ‘home’ is decidedly odd.

Basically this: if, in ___shire, you weren’t depressed/disabled/a drug user/an orphan/anorexic/bulimic/an alcoholic/a rape victim/survivor of other Skins-esque trauma, or if you hadn’t gone out with someone who was, or if you weren’t pregnant/ a parent, you were decidedly an anomaly. More so if you’d grown up in a house with two loving parents and a dog, and made it through, happy, balanced, and still achieving good grades. Not that everyone in ___shire actually has been and done one, any or all of the things on that list, no, I just think we’re a bunch of drama queens. Some people genuinely did have a lot of things to deal with, fair enough, but I think living in the countryside, reasonably well-off and with nothing else to do, gossip spiralled and spiralled until we were all living out this heightened straight-from-TV existence where everyone was troubled, damaged, and ‘so brave’.

But it doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Why did we feel the need to feed the drama and feed off it? Why do other people I know here have no experience of watching someone they know spiral downwards, someone they know and like and wish they could help? How can they in that respect still be so young; and in other respects old enough to never have felt the need to believe that someone they knew was on the long and adventurous road to hell and only they could rescue them from it? And it wasn’t just the people I was friends with: M, a friend I met here who grew up in a town barely an hour away, had the same experience with a whole different set of people who variously included supposed drug addicts, alcoholics, anorexics and a serious depressive. More than that it’s not as if it was all an act: plenty of the people I know did have serious problems, which most of the people I know here have absolutely no handle on, no way to relate to in any way.

So, why ___shire? Where else? What is the ‘normal’ person’s experience of sixth-form, anyway? And if it is a regional thing, what is it about ___shire? Is it just that we’re all rich, bored country kids with too much time and money on our hands and not enough to occupy us but our own heads and our own dramas, and is that enough to drive seemingly half of us over some invisible edge, or were we acting all along, or what?

And, whilst we’re talking about sixth-form kids, drama, and drugs, let’s actually talk about Skins: the last couple of episodes (possibly even the last three) have been genuinely good. Actually, really good – emotionally involving, not too over the top, demonstrating some serious character development, and worth ploughing through the first few episodes just to get to. I’m honestly really looking forwards to the next episode. And the actual last episode, JJ’s episode, was truly excellent. I’m very glad I stuck with it.

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Knitter’s Block

Like Writer’s Block, but worse. I am knitting a man’s scarf in dark red wool on 6mm needles. I was going to do it in 2/2 rib but I don’t have enough wool to do that. I was going to do a cable knit but I decided I didn’t like how it was working out. I don’t know what to do now – if anyone has any ideas at all please, please comment! It is, in case you know him, for A, whose birthday was last month… 

So, if you have a nice scarf, describe it, take a photo, anything. If you can imagine the perfect knitted men’s scarf, describe it to me. I don’t mind if you nothing about knitting – neither do I. If you have patterns you can send me, please do – I seriously need help!

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Metaphors & Similes

For some reason I’ve been trawling through my old blog today – (anything beats tidying my room) – and discovered a link to this strip from Sam & Fuzzy, that I personally find hilarious. If your sense of humour is anything like as madly off the wall as mine you’ll be crying with laughter.

 

 

 

…Just me, then, yeah?

Meanwhile, I did literally scan through the entirety of the archives. It’s odd seeing my sixteen-year-old self through my nineteen-year-old eyes. Yes, I’m not exactly grown up now, but the person who wrote those entries from 2005-6 seems so much younger than me now, and even more recent entries have a certain angry naivety to them. But I seem so much more happy-go-lucky as a fifteen-year-old than I do later on in the blog, or in this blog, even. I don’t know if I was actually happier, or just a lot less aware of the consequences of things I did. Either way, I had a lot of growing up to do, and I did it. But it’s interesting to be able to go back and see what I was like then – and what the people who commented on my blog were like back in those days. We’ve all changed. It’s odd looking back – the way I remember things, I don’t feel that I was any younger back in college than I am now, but then you look at the things I thought and the arena and way in which I chose to express those thoughts and you realise I was a lot younger; still, in so many ways, a child. 

The past is the past. Every second you are someone slightly different, and that builds up and builds up over time until you can barely recognise the selves who have gone before. But sometimes we need to be reminded of that. Things change, we change, change is the driving force behind everything and we’re always moving on. What’s gone is gone, and that’s good. Honestly. However much we might miss the past, it isn’t quite what we thought it was.

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My Roots Don’t Tie Me Down

I was wandering around facebook, as I so often do, today, and I noticed the number of people I went to school with who are settling down in the town where we grew up, for whom even living in the city half way down the road is quite a long way to move. Not just the girls who went to college and no further, qualified in hairdressing or childcare and then settled down to have children, look other other peoples’, and cut other peoples’ hair, but also some of those who went to university and studied art and graphic design and things and who are now settling back down in the town in which they grew up after two or three years in London or wherever.

It strikes me as odd, just because I never expected to settle down in that town once I left home.  Nothing against that town and that kind of family life – it’s something I dream of some day, but in a town that happens almost by chance depending on where and how I end up working, rather than in the town where I grew up because that’s where all my roots are. I’m seeing where my life is going to take me, I’m not planning it out to be cosy and safe, I’ll  move to where the work is. The work I want to do, that is. I’d move back when I was in my late thirties or early forties, perhaps, or I’d find another similar town and settle there instead.

But there are so many things I’d like to do first, so many places I’d like to live. I’d like to live outside of England for a while, see the world, live in a big city, dream big, have a career and not just a job. It’s just a whole different way to thinking about life: my education as a springboard for so many other things, rather than just something I have to do to allow me to have a reasonable salary and a cosy life with a husband, a dog, two kids and an estate car. My education as a ticket to the rest of the world, rather than something to be endured before I settle for what I’ve got. My roots don’t tie me down. I’ve a hideous feeling that this is partly a class thing, and that surprises my Guardian-reading middle-class conscience. Given that last sentence, it shouldn’t, really. And that makes me feel like the worst kind of snob, which wasn’t really what I was going for with this post.

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A Number of Observations…

…all totally unconnected to one another, pretty much.

  1. On my way down to the BMS lecture theatres you can go past either the Children’s Hospital and the W__ Park Hospital, or the Children’s Hospital and the H___shire Hospital, or just one of the three. And I’ve noticed something. A) There are more cigarette butts outside any of the hospitals than there are along any other parts of my route – fair enough, people working there nip out for a fag and they have a larger number of staff, or maybe you’re visiting someone and you sneak out for a quick one just before you bite the bullet and go in. Hospitals are stressful places, we all know that. and B), there are quite probably about ten times as many cigarette butts outside the Children’s Hospital than there are outside either of the other two hospitals. Dog-ends which are a record of hours of worry and anticipation of news of births or deaths or operations survived, hours of grief and shock, relief, elation; all of which are things which are, according to a crude count of fag-ends, of a far higher impact when its your child that is suffering. I mean, no surprise really, but it’s a surprisingly physical and real manifestation of all of those things. And I don’t know, I always feel there’s something a bit ironic about watching people smoke outside a hospital.
  2. Facebook-stalking my cousin by means of her photos, I have discovered that, eight years older than me, and she seems no older than me in anyway. Her photos are still endless rounds of people getting drunk, going out and wearing silly clothes, or pulling silly faces when they’re wearing nice clothes because they don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re meant to look elegant. Going on group holidays as I do – or would like to – with my friends, and getting drunk there instead. Young, free and single, apparently, with no real wish to settle down. Will I be like that in eight years time? I imagine dinner parties, a nice flat, the odd really drunken night perhaps, but probably whilst having a steady boyfriend. If not, I’ll be going out to dinner and wearing beautiful dresses, demure but not too demure, eating perfectly cooked lobster or something and discussing things that really interest me, waiting for someone who will leave the dating game with me for good. I’ll have a job I love, I’ll live in a place I’m really interested in, be that London or somewhere in Africa or India or something, I’ll be living my life and not just drinking my way through it. I just don’t like the idea that in eight years time my life won’t have fundamentally changed at all, that I’ll be doing work during the day just to pay the bills, and then going out at night and trying to forget my own name in clubs I can barely distinguish from the clubs I go to now.
  3. Oats do actually work if stirred into a chilli, if you’re so poor that you’re looking for cheap ways to bulk food out and get more carbohydrate into your diet. I’m about to go and buy a massive value bag of rice. Hopefully, frozen, this chilli will take me about ten days to get through…

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