Monthly Archives: June 2009

Cold-Reading The Lyrics

I’ve got into this funny habit, over the years, of making playlists containing all the music that such and such a friend of mine has given me or recommended to me. Some of them aren’t entirely accurate – I’m lazy about making them, so sometimes everything I have by a particular artist will end up in a playlist when the person who puts their name to that particular playlist only actually gave me one song by that person, or whatever. Which is a bit of problem because a lot of people seem to have given me Pink Floyd at some point, so not only does their entire oeuvre appear multiple times in my library, the whole lot has made it into a number of playlists, and they’re a good band, I see why they’re so famous, I’m just not a massive fan. They’re growing on me, still. Anyway, that’s a tangent, back to my point… *drifts*….

Oh, yes. The reason why I still do this so obsessively (when the original intent was to have all of one person’s music in one place so that I could make the effort to listen to it all pretty soon after recieving it, so I could report back and enthuse about this or that artist with them) is because  I find it fascinating how you can tell apart peoples’ tastes – some peoples bequests to me all fall under one genre – commercial hiphop, say, or indie, indie, and more indie. That’s easy enough. And then other people have tastes ranging across a whole host of genres, from classical and jazz to metal and rock, to eighties pop, nineties ballads, dance, trance, you name it, but quite often you realise that all the songs they like have some kind of a feeling, a mood, in common, which I can’t put my finger on it. K’s tastes are by and large for happy, comfort-listening songs. C’s are, well, there isn’t a word for it, but I’d go with songs which feel somehow grey. A misty kind of a grey. Which is roughly the mood I’m in now, so guess whose playlist I’m playing? A goes for manically upbeat, B’s songs all sound a bit stoned, D just listens to indie, V is an unusual mixture of very, very happy songs, and very very sad songs. And so on.

This is not to say I am some kind of friend’s-music-leeching pirate. I am trying, slowly, to buy all the music I listen to, unless it genuinely was a gift to me, and get rid of the rest. With a library like mine it’s rather difficult. But I’ll get there. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting. I wonder if I was given a blind listening-test of some stuff these people listen to that I don’t have, whether I would be able to guess who owns what… . Oddly enough I think I might. Do I win the music if I guess right? Pretty please?

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Filed under Consumer, Friendship, Music, Thoughts

Devils and Deep Blue Seas and Such

A recent blog post of Callan’s got me thinking a while back about this whole issue. I would like to come back to what he said with this: I have been in the same situation now for pretty much all of my life. And I used to ride the rollercoaster, get hopeful, get battered and bruised and dejected, and climb straight back on, fall for the next sucker, keep moving. And more recently I have lost the ability to care enough about people I meet to even consider going to the effort of liking them and having my hopes crushed again, and so I don’t do it, and in fact, for months, I haven’t really liked anyone new, haven’t struck out on my own and although I’ve been on dates and for drinks with people and so on, it’s all been going through the motions, really; and it got to the terrifying point, quite recently, where I realised I was completely emotionally uninvolved in the actions I was going through, and I wondered, when does this stop – when does this numb resignation and acceptance go away, or will it just swallow me whole and that’s it, I never break through this shell again, and I never fall for anyone ever again or really care in the least bit?

I won’t give you more recent installments in this story – that would be gossiping. They prove the point I’ve already made, no more than that. But I do merely want to say this – I don’t think continually getting your hopes up and getting them dashed is as bad as losing the ability to get those hopes up in the first place and turning into a confirmed spinster at the grand old age of 20, and I can easily, horrifyingly see how I could turn into any one of my mother’s friends, with hobbies and jobs and great lives but never anyone significant for long, because the connections that hold you and whatever man there happens to be are just too loose because you don’t know how to feel any different.

I’m not saying I want to be horribly rejected, I just don’t want to end up building barriers around my solitude and keeping things that way. I like being single – and that’s what makes being single such a risk, that I could just stay that way forever. It’s bad enough that I am just muddling along now without making any real effort to change things – and I hope I serve as a warning to, well, any and all of you. Quite seriously. Don’t resign from the game, because it’s bloody difficult to make yourself jump back into it.

Meanwhile, I’m writing this now because, well, there may be a change in the wind. That is all you may know for now, dear Reader. We’ll see how it goes.

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Filed under Friendship, Happenings, Introspection, Life, Relationships, Sex, Society, Thoughts

Another Good Day, Or, How I’m Doing It

I don’t really know, is the answer. The question being, of course, how am I still alright? It is hard work, or rather, it isn’t hard work as such – being content should never be hard work otherwise is it really contentment? But I have to be aware of certain things and I have to avoid some things and take care to do others. So here it all is, how I’m doing it, the things I know and the things I don’t know about recovery. Partly to prove to you all that I’m not just drifting and hoping, partly to set it all down for myself, because I know there are rules, and I know what the rules are, but it makes me feel nicely organised if they’re down here in real list form.

I know I can’t get away with not getting enough rest or sleep. This is partly why I was teetering on the edge over exams – the stress and the fact that I really wasn’t sleeping well all combined to threaten to send me round the twist. Now I am sleeping better, which is good. I don’t know if it’s really the amount of sleep that counts, it’s the being conscious in the depths of the night, when no-one else is around, and it’s dark, and time becomes this surreal, slow, viscous thing, which doesn’t move at a constant speed, and everything suddenly looms so much larger and more luridly, and because it’s not a time at which one is meant to be awake, you’re not quite sure what you should be really doing with yourself at 3am, or whatever time it happens to be.

Things are just that much stranger and scarier, and you’re that much more alone, so it’s just you and your mind and of course it gets to you and conspires to unlock and unblock those aspects of you which you’re working so hard to put to rest for good. So if you’re not going to get enough sleep, you have to do it in a structured way: it’s OK to be sleepless if you’re lying in bed retelling yourself the collected works of Jane Austen in your own words, or counting sheep, or trying to work out exactly how you would go about making the perfect dress in your mind, mentally cutting out pattern pieces, or designing your perfect wedding, or rescoring orchestral works for string quartet, or counting breaths in and out (in…2…3…out…2…3…4….) – these are all things I’ve done. It’s a case of making your mind stick on ‘safe’ subjects. Better still, of course, get some decent sleep.

And again, you can miss out on sleep if you’re with friends and having a good time and genuinely have a bloody good reason to be awake in the middle of the night (be that gin and tonic, or sex, or a film marathon, or a great night out, or a great night in, or a night outside with a decent fire and good company, or Eurovision, or drink-along-with Film X(we have so many plans for drinkalongs this summer – Withnail & I, TorchwoodAssorted Films I Should Really Have Heard Of, Casino Royale… though whether we’ll actually get around to doing any of them I really don’t know), whatever floats your boat). It’s a case of keeping your mind occupied.

Stress is another big one, of course. And I have to be aware of the things that get me stressed. I hadn’t realised it but I do suffer from exam stress. Not to the same degree that other people do, but still, it’s a problem. And I got around it by being very careful to get up at the same time each day, stick to a routine (admittedly a routine which meant starting each day with obscene amounts of coffee and cigarettes) but it was structured, it was the same each day, and I had a revision method which I stuck to and which worked, by and large, and I made damn sure to do my best not to let work overwhelm me by taking good breaks and never working late and reminding myself that although they might be a big deal these exams – all exams – are not the be-all and end-all.

As another recent entry of mine will have pointed out, I get stressed about organising things. Last year I became in many ways one of the chief organisers of our group holiday to the New Forest, partly because I owned one of the two big tents we took with us and because I was one of only about two or three people in the whole group that had gone camping on a regular basis and knew how to camp on a campsite in the long term (if you’re only going to be in a place for two or three nights and there aren’t showers and such becuase you’re in the middle of nowhere on DofE then it’s all a totally different experience from living in the tent and being able to relax and enjoy it because that’s the whole point of being there, after all). So therefore I allowed the whole experience and peoples’ enjoyment of it to become my responsibility and that wore me down and wore me out and sent me round the bend in ways I don’t like to think about. However it was a fairly public temporary loss of sanity and so I think although people will be worried about taking me away this year, they’re doing it anyway, and I think they’ll probably be looking over my shoulder for the whole time, especially M and J, and though that might annoy me, I know it’s for the best. And I know now that if I can’t cope with taking that role, and find myself doing so anyway, I can and should ask for help, cast off that mantle, and let the whole thing go hang. Better for everyone in the end by far.

Likewise I’ve realised I literally can’t currently cope with organising big social things. Last night I hosted a fire evening for a number of mine and my sister’s friends. As it happens it went off fine despite my slightly middle-aged outburst at some interlopers, but I think it was about as much stress as I could reasonably cope with without losing the plot entirely – as it was I was pretty distracted from one moment to the next, always trying to keep an eye on everybody, and we’re talking a group of about ten. I got a bit snippy with some people but I think we all got off lightly there. I don’t think I could cope with organising something involving any greater numbers than that right now, which seems ridiculous, but I just have to accept that I’m honestly just not capable of it.

That’s the thing – I have to realise my own limitations. I can’t go out in the evenings two nights in a row, not if they’re late nights. I can’t drink too much because if I don’t get horribly low whilst drunk, it’s sure to hit me along with the hangover the next day. I have to get enough sleep. I have to eat sensibly. I can’t take recreational drugs and get away with it.

I have to keep my mind occupied, I can’t just drift for a few days and chill out totally – I have to have little projects. Tidy my room, read this book or practice that piece on the piano, learn some more poi or wield the staff I found in the garage (by which I think I probably mean an old broom handle, but it seems to work), go and run errands in town or go for a walk or a run, knit. Hobbies were invented for a reason, and now they’re coming in handy. That and I should be working.

I can’t let myself get too stressed, so I have to be invited to things rather than organising things to which I can invite others. If I’m going to do anything like that it requires a lot of planning because being the hostess and the organiser is one of my Big Fears. I have to keep my own life organised – keep a diary to tell me where and when I have to be, keep a journal to understand where, when and how I was.

The hardest bit is this, and it’s an odd one: I can’t get too happy. I can’t have a great evening, where everything makes me laugh and smile and lots of good things happen without paying for it later that night or the following day. Sometimes I can get away with it; and having a really good time and forming all those brilliant memories of a really stand-out-perfect day or few hours is worth the price of one or two bad days, but it’s a shame it has to be like that.

It’s not hard work, it doesn’t mean massive lifestyle changes, it’s just a case of remembering that right now (and maybe never) I can’t match the people around me hour-for-hour, drink-for-drink or achievement-for-achievement. I used to think I could have it all – a wild social life with lots of drinking, a certain amount of recreational substance abuse if I wanted it (which as it happened I never really have, but it was always an option), good grades, outside interests like orchestra and poi and climbing and reading and cinema and such, enough sleep to just about get by, and a real enjoyment of my university course, a stellar medical career, a solid group of friends. I can have a slice of each of those things if I’m organised and tough with myself. I can be the high achiever if I cut back on the social life and only go out once every couple of weeks and never on week nights; I can go out all the time if I’m prepared to sleep during the day a lot and do nothing else; it’s like my own personal version of the 21st-century-woman’s have-it-all dilemma – be the perfect mother, all apple cheeks and smiles and home-made cakes and massive, inventive projects building tree-houses and painting murals at the weekends; or have the high-flying career, and is it possible to have both? No. But you can find compromises if you’re organised and responsible. And that’s what I am doing at the moment – and that is why I am still OK.

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Filed under Beliefs, Cloudlife, Family, Friendship, Happenings, Introspection, Knitting, Life, Nightlife, Relationships, Society, Thoughts, University, World

I’ll Tell You Another Odd Thing

My father was procrastinating at work earlier (now he definitely can’t talk when I’m prevaricating myself) and googled my blog, and found me. A) I’ve googled myself in the past and not found this blog, no matter what I put into google, and B) I don’t know how I feel about him finding this blog. It’s not like I say anything on it that I don’t want him to see, but but I want to be able to write things up here which I don’t have to think about too much. I don’t want to be too self-censoring. At the  moment the only restrictions on what I write are basically that I don’t let slip where I live or the names of people I mention, and I don’t say anything about other people that they might not want to read up here, if I think there’s any chance they will read this blog, and if I genuinely care about their opinion and don’t want to hurt them. No strict rules as such, just basic tact and the vague hope of remaining reasonably anonymous. But if I were to try drugs or get hideously drunk or take up smoking again or otherwise go in for a bit of good old old-fashioned teenage rebellion (I’ve only got about seven weeks to do the teenage rebellion thing before I stop being a teenager, so watch this space…!) and I felt it was blogworthy, I’d put it up here. Meanwhile I wouldn’t want my father to read all the grisly details of the stupid things I do merely because there are certain things you don’t want to imagine your daughter doing, which is fair enough.

The thing is, though, thinking about it, this blog is pretty parent-safe, in fact it’s pretty safe for pretty much anyone to read apart from my tendency to swear unnecessarily, so why this has got me in a bit of a pickle I honestly don’t know. Perhaps this is just one of those days where everything’s a bit of a pickle. My body has taken me entirely by surprise (feel free to guess, I merely promise that I am neither ill nor pregnant); my room is out to confuse, upset and murder me, and possibly drive me to tears along the way; I am jobless and being messed about no end by the people who were going to employ me (a screw-up for which I blame my previous employers, and probably the subject of a later rant); I’ve spent the last goodness-knows-how-long trying to organise my friends into picking dates for our group holiday which mean that I can also go on holiday with my parents and that’s been driving me slowly mad but seems to finally have worked itself out, although there are a number of people to whom the less charitable half of me would like to do various incomprehensibly painful things; and I’ve been trying to organise various other social occasions and just wishing I could somehow invent some kind of social-organiser-type-intention-craft, such that I merely have to think, ‘it would be nice if on such a day, this set of people all spontaneously decided to show up in the same place for a few drinks and some food’, and lo and behold, abracadabra, there you go, none of this shilly-shallying and excuses and giving out directions for all and sundry and panicking about who can and cannot come and is this or that person going to feel awkward or get bored and so on; so yes, perhaps it’s just me, but life at the moment seems a bit chaotic, I can’t keep track of anyone and anything else, and yet somehow I’m the one that seems to have to do so.

Anyway, I know it’s only 4pm, but I would quite like a bit of a doze, so that is what I am going to do now.

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That’s Very Odd

During the revision period I got about twice as many hits on this blog each day as I usually do, and now exams are over and I’m free for the summer, I’m getting a bit less. Not right back down to ‘normal’ viewing figures, but about half way in between the two. It’s very confusing. Is it because I’m posting less often, or is it because everyone’s finally free and is therefore outside drinking Pimm’s and cider and relaxing as well they should be?

I’m only stuck indoors because I’m unpacking, and I’m starting to get a little stuck on a few issues – where certain things should be stored in my room, and such. It’s silly because my room is huge, I should have no problems. It’s more of an issue with categorising stuff – random electric wires and useful bits of paper and bits of Useful Thing that don’t really have an obvious home.

I think I’ll think about this over the keyboard of the piano instead… .

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Filed under Internet, Life, Society, Thoughts

Sorry About The Hiatus

In that time I have packed up, stayed at R’s for a few days, and come home.

To unpack that statement a bit (oh, ha-ha, a packing pun… I must be tired; either that or being back home around my family, and my father especially, has affected my mind. Either way, profuse apologies) – to unpack that statement a bit, what I mean is, I spent a few nights with R, watching films, playing MarioKart, drinking Pimm’s and ogling Daniel Craig, going to the cinema, trying (and failing) not to spend money (new dress! new dress! new dress!), and in the daytimes I would come back to my flat while she worked and attempt to pack up my stuff, panicking a little bit more each day until on my last night in halls, I spent the night in my room with A telling me, do this, do that, now put that there, do you really need that at home, do you really need to do that right this minute, is that crucial, now throw those things away, you’ll never get anywhere if you sit there panicking all night, and overall, being incredibly useful and a total pain in the arse. And calming me down a lot. A lot of calming was needed. Not a lot of packing was done because I ran out of boxes and didn’t have the gumption to think up a solution to this problem, and my decision-making skills essentially collapsed, and in fact, we were very close to a full-out breakdown, but it’s probably an achievement that I made it to morning, sanity intact, if not utterly packed.

Then my parents showed up the following day to – they thought – put some stuff in the car, take it to R’s, put the rest of my stuff in the car, and take it home. Not so. I wasn’t even half home. So me and my parents and my sister and A spent the day putting possessions in bin-bags and boxes and taping them up and packing them up and it all took a darn sight longer than it should have done, which is entirely my fault. I had the second most inconvenient migraine of my entire life so far, we ate horrible freezer-dregs (cheap chips J had left, hash browns, peas, and lots of ketchup), and consumed a lot of tea. Finally it was all over. There was a lot of panic involving the loss of the various keys I’d acquired over the year (I think over the last week, about three were found in my room, and I swear I don’t owe any money for them, but Student Services swears otherwise), and one set has now been located back at home, so I’ve got to post that back at some point, but somehow we all ended up in the car heading into town to get to a restaurant where A and his sister had dinner with me and my family and everything was somehow lovely again, and then we drove to my aunt’s, a useful half way point, and finally, on Saturday, made it home.

Then on Saturday night I went to Stonehenge with H and S and S’s boyfriend C. These are new friends and I met them through a Scrabble game at Easter, so I’m surprised and flattered that we’ve all stayed in touch. I had a brilliant time, although I am still tired. Stonehenge at the Solstice allows everyone to get right up to the stones and touch them and get inside the circle and watch the sun rise. It’s messy, there are a lot of drunk people and drums and drugs and dogs and so on, but it was quite an experience. A bit cloudy, but very atmospheric. And it’s always good to meet new people. For someone who is actually quite shy it’s surprising that I so enjoy meeting new people – at least when we click. And S is having a barbecue this weekend so I’m very much looking forward to that. I am, apparently, Pimm’s God for the night. Which could be interesting. Panicked questions are going through my head constantly – what kind of lemonade – cloudy, clear, or should we be original and use tonic water which I prefer but some people really don’t? What kind of fruit? How much fruit? Should I soak the fruit beforehand, and if so, in my fridge before I leave, or will it get mushy if I leave it too long, would it be better to take it with me and soak it there? And do I soak it in Pimm’s or some other kind of spirit and if so what? Yes, I panic a lot. Panicking seems to be the theme of this entry. And most others, thinking about it, actually. Anyway, ideas?

That’s about it from me, I think, meanwhile – as here, it’s Telly O’Clock. How oddly tragic that for me, at home, nine in the evening means one thing, and one thing only: telly. Oh, how I have missed this: a good portion of nice, cosy crime drama, followed by a palate-cleansing dessert of BBC News. Good to be back.

Although that said I miss university, I think. More, I miss what it could and should be, next year, I already miss the new house I don’t yet live in. Which is good, I think.

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Filed under Family, Friendship, Happenings, Life, Relationships, Thoughts, TV, University

I Cannot Get Over This Man

Yes, it’s George Monbiot time again. I am always astounded by his incisiveness; but this is something else… .

In his latest article he theorises that the reason we’re all getting our knickers in a twist about the expenses scandal and demanding major political reform here and now is because of the credit crunch (of course) and that the credit crunch is going to hugely affect us because over the last three hundred years we have profited as a country on the backs of those we colonised, and furthermore, completely rode roughshod over, importing the food those countries so sorely needed to fend off famine in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain; and that even after we gave up all the colonies we still made treaties with them to keep having the same advantages we’d enjoyed for the past three hundred years.

We’re a major world power with no right to that power because we cannot support ourselves except by essentially stealing from other countries, and now, it seems, we can no longer do that, and as reality hits home, we hit out at our government. Or something like that. The full article is excellent and you should read it, here.

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Filed under Beliefs, Politics, World

Birthdays, Presents And Surprises

OK, here’s the thing. I don’t like birthdays, and I don’t like surprises. Probably because I’m too much of a control freak, which for someone as messy and disorganised and otherwise happy-go-lucky as I am is probably a bit odd.

Let’s start off with the easy one to explain: surprises. I don’t like them because what if I don’t like whatever it is that someone has prepared as a surprise for me? How am I meant to react? The whole thing terrifies me. I mentioned an incident on Cloudlife once when S ducked back inside a shop we’d just been into and I knew he was buying something for me, and I had no idea what – what if he spent lots of money on it? What if I didn’t like it? What if there was no way I could ever reciprocate? I know that isn’t the point. For all the time he was in the shop I was quaking with fear – and yes, it was a bad day, but even on a good day I’d have been pretty jumpy. He came out with a bag of chocolate raisins. I like chocolate raisins. It was thoughtful of him and a lovely gesture but I just wasn’t in a chocolate-raisin/eating anything kind of a mood, and in the end I gave most of them away. But the whole incident terrified me. There have been a very few surprises in my life and all of them have turned out well, because they were in a very strict remit: things I had already said I really wanted to have or to do that I’d been told, for whatever reason, I couldn’t have. Presents I’d seen in the toy shop in the High Street that I really wanted but were too expensive, or silly, that then, oh what miracle, turned up on my birthday. Like the time I got my ears pierced. Everyone, it seemed, had pierced ears, and I really wanted my ears pierced, but I’d been told by my mother that it would be a special thing and that I could get my ears pierced on my thirteenth birthday or when my period started (as it happened, my thirteenth birthday pipped my period to the post by millenia, but that’s by the bye). So when we were shopping for birthday presents for my twelfth birthday, I really wasn’t expecting to be led upstairs to the hair salon over the pharmacy and to get my ears pierced, and it was a wonderful surprise. To this day I have probably more earrings than any other kind of jewellery and usually will wear earrings when I want to look in the least bit well put-together.

Equally, presents. What if I already have whatever-it-is that I get? What if I don’t really like it? What if it’s so amazing that I then feel pressured to do something equally amazing for that person’s birthday when it next rolls round, or if it’s Christmas and I know that whatever I’ve got simply doesn’t match up? I hate buying presents for people, it makes me so ridiculously nervous. I worry about getting presents from people, I worry that they’ll notice if I don’t happen to wear or use whatever they’ve given me, even if I do regularly enjoy the possession of that object. Some things only come into their own when I’ve had them for a while, and that worries me too – why didn’t I realise what a perfect gift this was earlier, do I think they’ll notice? I would far rather just make a pact with anyone and everyone, here and now, to stop with the presents thing – but then I would feel churlish, so I muddle along somehow, pick out a nice card, plump for flowers or a bottle or money if I really don’t know what else to do or because, frankly, I really, really like flowers, and so should everyone. I got flowers from a friend on my nineteenth and they made me so happy. But picking out flowers is stressful – they’re expensive, if you want to get a good bunch of them, and then there’s the whole issue of does this go with that, how should I arrange it, do they have a vase to put them in, are they the kind of people that would just put them in a measuring jug or something and not mind, because hey, they’re flowers, they’d look nice in anything? Every so often – very rarely – I’ll spot something that’s perfect for someone and buy it straight off, save it for their birthday or send it as a belated gift, but so many friends miss out on getting presents from me at all for ages before I go all out on the perfect thing, or perhaps they never do get that perfect thing. And then stepping out of the borders from standard lovely gifts into something really individual that will make that person laugh – hell. Joke presents are the absolute worst. Everyone has a couple of friends whose favourite thing about getting presents is whether they make them laugh or not, and picking out ‘funny’ presents is impossible because I just don’t really have that kind of sense of humour. And then some people are lifesavingly easy to buy for – they have a hobby which always needs this or that bit of kit which, thank heavens, I know how to buy, and that makes a good present – sheet music, say, or poi, or something.

As for birthdays, well, for years I’ve been on holiday for my birthday – it’s in August – so I’ve had a lovely day with my family, we open the presents in bed with my parents or round the table in the tent or over breakfast, I get to choose what we do that day, which if we’re in the right sort of area is usually a cave – I love stalagmites and stalagtites and all those formations, and the weird strata in the rocks from years and years of debris compressing together and forming all kinds of fascinating kinds of rocks, perhaps there are fireflies or a boat ride, and if I get the chance to hang back and turn my flashlight off I love the fear of being all alone in the pitch black. That said I hate the idea of proper caving – I’m far too claustrophobic to go swimming about in tiny little tunnels which I’m not sure I’ll be able to get out of and where I’m not sure there’s any air above my head to breathe if I’m underwater, and the whole thing sounds too terrifying. There’s nothing else I’m scared of, really – just small dark spaces and drowning miles under the ground. Heights are fine by me, swinging about on the end of a rope with nothing between me and instant death but that rope, the harness, and my own (scant) ability to haul myself up; or the idea of skydiving or bungee jumping or canoeing down some rapids or a waterfall or something, yes please – these are all things I want to try some day. Just not caving, or potholing, whatever the difference may be. Anyway, I’m tangenting. Which is clearly a word, shut up.

So yes, for years I didn’t celebrate my birthday with my friends. And now I feel I ought, and I’m going to be at home on my birthday, so I can. Last year I was at home too and that time I invited some of my closest friends round for dinner and we went to a lovely restaurant and everyone as far as I can remember had a wonderful time. It was a chinese restaurant, and there was a cello/guitar two-piece band playing covers of hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, and we all sang along, and did a conga round the room, and it was hilarious and happy and everyone rallied around and then we had hungover fried eggs and I got chocolates and flowers and things and it was wonderful. I could do that again with the same group of people but when I’ve tried to organise similar things at Christmas it hasn’t worked out, it’s too far for people to come, or something. And circumstances have changed. Back then I was just recovering from a big dip, and a fairly public dip at that, so I wonder whether everyone felt they should come because it would be the nice thing to do; T was already away in Germany, so all her usual protests about coming all the way to my city (oh, come on, it’s a 40 minute drive and you don’t even have to drive it if you don’t want to) didn’t apply (that’s a massive problem, incidentally, T’s massive reluctance to go out of her way on any specific point. Which is probably the real reason why we always socialise at her place and nowhere else – things are on her terms and in her patch and she doesn’t need to make any extraordinary effort; and everyone follows her lead, which is fine, I certainly don’t want to take on that role, but at the same time, she could be less subconsciously autocratic, and try and see things from our perspectives some of the time). There was one group I was especially close to, and I’d more or less lost contact, if only temporarily, with everyone else, so there was only one group I could feasibly invite – and of that group, several people weren’t on good terms with me, which cut it down to a nice neat number – and most of us had all just been away on holiday together so we were a tight-knit, easy circle, by and large.

This year I just don’t know. I’d like to do the dinner thing again but I have real doubts that it would work. There are far more people I could invite, and far more people I’d like to invite, and they don’t all know each other, and they don’t all get on with one another, and then there’s my friends up at university, do I invite them or not? Then back home there’s a whole new group, if not two, to be considered, who I feel very close to already and who I want to include, and if I invited everyone I want to celebrate my birthday we’re really looking at more like houseparty numbers, but houseparties terrify me, because then there’s fewer criteria for who to invite, the bar is lowered, and then you’ve got the whole group politics thing to consider. Different groups party in different ways and I don’t want to scare people and make them think my friends are all completely debauched, and houseparties almost always seem to involve some kind of major situation with someone flying off the handle or getting hideously depressed, a couple or ex-couple having some kind of Big Conversation and taking over a whole room and the atmosphere with it, and I have to flit from group to group being all things to all people, all the while stressing about whether anything has broken yet and have we got enough to drink or eat and is anyone bored and has someone honestly just set fire to the shed and what if there are gate-crashers or if specific people who I really don’t want to see take it upon themselves to show up?

The situation I’m in this year with friends is that there are far more people I could technically invite. But there are major tensions between a lot of people. Shyness, and resentment, the ex-factor, it’s all seemingly insurmountable. There are other issues too: if I invite one person from a given group, should I invite other people from that group, the whole group, even if I don’t feel so close to them, or none of them; and if I do that will the person I originally invited have anyone to talk to? If I do invite all these people will enough of them show up to make the party go well anyway? If I go for something smaller I risk offending people by being oddly selective with my guest list because if it was a dinner of just my closest friends very few of them would know or like each other, so I’m better off just going for inviting one specific group and then risk offending everyone else who I am close to but not close enough to let that kind of thing slip by.

Birthdays and parties are politically impossible minefields to me, and perhaps I’m getting myself worked up about this. I love the idea of celebrating my birthday with all my favourite people, but not the reality of it. I’d half love it if someone took it upon themselves to book a venue, pick a number of my friends, and surprise me with a party – but again, we’re onto the surprises thing. It would have to be organised by someone who knows me as well as I know myself, and who knows my friends, and who knows what they’re doing and isn’t afraid to badger guests and arrangements until it’s all perfect. It would have to be one of my favourite places to be – a picnic somewhere, or one of my favourite restaurants, or something, and it would have to be a careful selection of my friends who would all get along just fine, and to be honest, the idea of a surprise party scares me becuase I don’t want anything to be got wrong, so really I’d have to be consulted to make every detail perfect, but then you’ve got the major issues outlined above rearing their ugly heads all over again.

It’s going to take a lot of persuading to get me to celebrate my birthday this year with anyone except my parents and my sister. And no, please God no, this isn’t by way of a very extended hint about surprise parties. Perish the thought.

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Who Would They Keep IN America, Then?

Given that I don’t think American National Socialism is ever going to get anywhere, one can only laugh at this particular gem (don’t even ask how I unearthed it) for still living in the 1930s. Unreconstructed Nazi Fascism – laughable and a little bit terrifying. I’m always surprised that there are people out there who still believe this kind of thing, and I’m half of the mind that it’s a spoof. Let’s hope so, anyway!

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Chop Chop!

Half of you haven’t come up with your mouse tags yet. COME ON. You have eight words now, thanks to Callan pushing the limit on his rather…

And also, if you know I read you, and you read me, shout out, give me a mouse tag to go with it if you think of one, and I’ll put you into M.A.P. because I like these things done properly. If you’d rather not, don’t worry 🙂

Basically, yes, come on people. Get it together!!

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Filed under Internet, Life, Thoughts