Monthly Archives: October 2009

I Am No Martyr

Yesterday I cleaned the kitchen floor, did all the washing up, mopped down the walls, and tidied things as best I could. It’s made a huge difference. Everyone keeps thanking at me and making jokes about haloes and things, but I really don’t want to think they’re martyring me. I did the cleaning because I personally wanted the kitchen clean, not specifically ‘for’ anyone else bar me. And I would do it all over again. I did it because I wanted to be busy with real physical labour, because I wanted to get to the end of the day and think, ‘well done me, I had a nice time with various friends, I cleaned the kitchen, and I did some significant academic work’. Otherwise I would have spent some time actually procrastinating, doing sudokus or ambling around the internet. I don’t want people to think I’m some kind of martyr or saint because then they’ll feel guilty, and then they’ll feel annoyed with me for making them feel guilty, and that doesn’t seem fair on them or me to be honest. I’m not saying I don’t then want their guilt and my pride in my work to spur us all on to wash things up as we go and so on adn so forth, I just don’t want to make anyone feel bad because honestly, I quite enjoyed yesterday, in the end. Yes, aspects of our kitchen were frankly gruesome. But I kind of enjoy doing things like that, in the same way that, if I’m honest, I’d quite enjoy caving because it would terrify me, and I quite enjoyed going on TM’s zipwire because it was impossibly high and had neither harness nor seat, so I wasn’t convinced I would actually survive the experience without letting go half way down and breaking a leg or something…!

Anyway, there you go. Kitchen cleaned and beautiful. Now, onto my room…! Scrambled egg first, though?

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If I Had To Pick The Most Stressful Occasion I Could Think Of…

…it wouldn’t be a house meeting, at least, not off the top of my head. But then, think about it. You get six cold, tired students, with very little money, and very different ideas about how things should be run, and very definite outcomes they want from a meeting, you throw issues such as bills and housework and internet and contracts at them, add polar bears and environmental conscience so on; consider that these six people are all girls who really genuinely love and admire one another and don’t want to tread on each other’s toes, but are also getting irritated at the poltergeist-like way the kitchen and bathrooms are always, somehow, messy, and the way no-one has any time to do all the things they wish they could do to make the place more homely, but no-one in particular can be blamed because that would be a) difficult to work out and b) would also end up causing Major Ructions, and you have a recipe for serious amounts of stress.

Good resolutions duly made, arguments narrowly avoided, everyone struggles to bear in mind that adjusting to a new house and a new house dynamic is always going to take a while, and hopefully you come out still happy to be where you are. Hey, we’re most of us planning on still living here next year depending on years in industry and the like, so it can’t be too bad. And we’re mostly perfectly happy, I think. Things will get better. But for now, stressful is about the word.Thankfully I think we all feel like that and have come out feeling hopeful and reassured.

And, finally, the heating is turned on. In principle H and I agree that perhaps it shouldn’t be – polar bears and things. But I’m not going to complain when, tomorrow morning, I get out of bed and don’t immediately want to just crawl straight back under the covers, or when I go to bed tonight and I’m not actually frightened of getting naked just in case I die of hypothermia before I can get my PJs on and get under the covers. Last night I was wearing a hilarious get-up consisting of my thickest pyjamas, shirt tucked into bottoms, with long socks wrapped around the outside of the pyjama bottoms, to the knee, and a big jumper, and I was still a little cold despite my two blankets. I need a hot water bottle. We need a new microwave. We all want more money.

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Cold Turkey

Today, for reasons best known to, well, some fairly masochistic part of me, I guess, I decided to go cold turkey on caffeine. I had one cup of tea this morning and that was it. Not for me the usual cafetiere of coffee that I would have whilst showering or getting dressed; not for me the cup of tea the moment I walked in the door, or the casual coffee-shop linger over a Times sudoku and possibly a cookie. No – I may have cut down over the summer, but I was still on at least one cup of real coffee each and every single day without fail, no matter what else I may or may not have been doing or eating. Even when I’ve been ill or lost my appetite or whatever, coffee, every day, with about two exceptions that I can think of, ever, when I’ve felt so rough otherwise that I wouldn’t have noticed the effect of missing out on coffee. I’m still not sure I’m that addicted – I’m still half thinking that perhaps today I just have a bad headache and tomorrow won’t be so bad.

But this isn’t just a bad headache. My face is shaking. I swear I’m gurning. My hands feel all loose and disconnected from the rest of me. And my head is absolutely killing me. I want to lie down and sleep until it all goes away because I feel so damn terrible, but the thing is, why lie about feeling sorry for myself when I brought this upon myself, and when I know that pretty much anyone I really admire would, however they got a headache, self-inflicted or no, just keep on going and pretend it wasn’t happening rather than wimping about and popping random painkillers, which would be my preferred approach, curled up under the duvet moaning faintly and trying not to cry.

How on earth did I get to this point, where I was so addicted that I couldn’t cope without at least one cup of coffee each and every day (and to be honest, thinking about it, more like three or four at the least?). How did I convince myself that I wasn’t addicted, how did I not notice the pounds mounting up in the coffee shops, the feverish devotion to the hot water urn after church, the hostly gestures of tea and coffee positively pounced upon after any long journey or dry spell? And more importantly, if this is how today is going to be, please tell me it gets easier soon!

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Exciting Past Times

Bellowhead was absolutely awesome, it really was. Starting from the second LP and PS arrived at mine, bundled my stuff into the car, and drove off at speed to the sounds of the new Muse album (which made me very, very happy and on my part has sadly yet to be purchased) through the most stunningly beautiful day – beautiful enough to make all those vast tracts of motorway look actually quite beautiful themselves, with hints of stunning views and rolling hills and trees and such. One of those day which is really cloudy but the sun shines through the clouds or under them so that colours are really intense and warm and washy.

And then we arrived, and tea was drunk (thank goodness) and then we gathered ourselves together and got ready and went out for a lovely meal (expensive for me, but justifiably so, and I had spent all of the morning copy-editing for my supper!). Then finally on to the gig itself. Bellowhead are amazing, and how anyone could possibly stand still whilst listening to them is beyond me. We tried to get to the front and centre to dance, but of course the place was mainly full of an audience mere decades shy of their first knee replacements and probably already within the realms of heart attacks and divorce and empty-nest syndrome, and they, basically, hated us, for being sober and young and wanting to dance and possibly, just possibly, needing them to shuffle a foot out of place so that we could get to the front. It clearly wasn’t going to happen (how is it possible to be so sour and bitchy at an evening which was otherwise just so much fun?) so in the end we got into a corner at the side where there was enough room for us to get really into dancing – I swear my lungs were about to collapse by the time we left, it was exhausting! – but just so much fun. And you’ll be glad to know that the boots held up.

Whisky was contemplatively drunk, water glugged a lot, and then off to a bar, after the gig, for cocktails (or in my case, whisky again. Cocktails are far too sweet, I find). A long and interesting walk home which doesn’t really have its place here, but know that it was fraught and less than fun and tea was definitely needed when we got home to go some way towards repairing the situation. A few miserable hours spent sitting up with the others, not wanting to be alone but not really able to join in either, then bed (after a lightbulb had been found for me by P which was wonderful of him), and then, three hours later, I woke up, at six in the morning. Lots of coffee, some dry toast, lots of water and tea, and four or five hours later, after a long conversation with one of B’s housemates, and a million sudokus, everyone else started to get up. And after more long and interesting conversations (which again have no place here) there was town, and there was lunch, and cookies, and Up – you have to see it if you haven’t already – and, tentatively, let’s just say that the weekend ended up on a (tentative) high point.

And now I am back in Uni Town and contemplating the tip that is my room and wondering if it’s justifiably time for lunch yet… .

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Exciting Future Times

Tomorrow I am going to a gig with P and some of our friends to see Bellowhead. Currently I am in Home Town so I am being picked up by LP and PS and we’ll road trip up together, before spending an afternoon and early supper/drinks with everyone else and going on to see Bellowhead (Spotify them, go ooooon) and then we are sleeping in various places that have now been sensibly ordained after a few days of fuming and fighting and people screaming at other people across phone lines and tears and bitching and stress. And guess what? I held my own, and I think P and I got the outcome we were hoping for, and everyone has said sorry and misunderstood and now understands everyone else fine, and it’s all wonderful. I had an argument and the world didn’t end! And now the air is clear and I am simply looking forward to what should be a really good weekend, assuming no-one is too tired and grumpy (naming no names) and that my new shoes don’t suddenly turn out to be in need of a lot more breaking in than I thought (so far they’ve been epically comfortable, but several hours spent jumping up and down to Bellowhead is likely to test anyone’s new shoes, definition of comfortable, and calf muscles). Currently however I am copy-editing and my head is just about ready to sit down and cry. Can’t remember the last time I spent concentrating for this long! Cups of tea are most definitely required, I feel.

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Lashings of Apologies

I may be newly sane and sorted (and hung over but I think that’s a story for another day, and another place, and things. Last night was lovely – I have discovered that one of our union bars does various local ales, which is very exciting, and I have found a fellow real ale drinker, which is even more exciting, and I spent a lot of time with what seemed at times like half the music department, after orchestra, moving from one Union bar, which threw us out at eleven, to the other Union bar which doesn’t shut until 2am, and from there (before it left) back home, for more beer (I have also discovered the joys of our local bottleshop, which has a really good assortment of really decent drinking at reasonable prices), and I talked a lot and listened a lot but nothing really happened that I can spin into a hilarious look-at-me-and-all-the-inspiredly-stupid-things-I-do-when-I’m-drunk story – I didn’t cut my hair, I didn’t do karaoke, I didn’t try to switch off a light with my chin and somehow land up on the floor covered in beer, in fact all I did was talk loudly until my housemates quite justifiably complained, at which point the night was duly judged to be over).

Where were we? oh, yes – I may be newly sane and sorted, and hungover, yes, but I am also still as forgetful as ever, and this isn’t a sign that I don’t love or adore you all – but this is a shout-out to anyone on the MAP (and any other regular readers who feel like chipping in and pointing out things, because pointing out other peoples’ mistakes is always fun) – if you used to be in my blogroll, and now find that you aren’t, chances are that it’s purely by accident. Putting together a blogroll seems to take bloody ages if you do it in one fell swoop, so I do a few, get bored, and go away again. I do that again a few days later, and then the next time I think about it, MAP seems pretty lengthy already so I believe it complete and move on without reading it properly for absences and gaps. So if you’re missing and that makes you sad, comment here, or email me – jenny.mohan@gmail.com. If you’re a lurker but you do have a blog, I would also love to read that so again, comment so that I can find you, or email me – come out of the shadows and into the sunshine, it’s kind of pretty and I want to know who you are. There are a lot of you! I love comments, even if you’re just dropping by to say, hello, you write the stupidest waffle, Jenny.

Oh, yeah, and hello Dad! (Yes, my father reads my blog). I promise I’ve been doing my work and I’ve emailed the project manager for this book I’m working on, and the author, so that’s all done, and now I’m going for lunch with a friend and then I-promise-I-promise-I-promise I’m going to get on with the actual copy-editing!!! See you on Thursday, and send my love to Mum!

This by way of saying that I have accepted that my Dad reads my blog. He usually says something like ‘loved the entry on blah Jenny, but shouldn’t you have been doing something more constructive?’, and my answer is usually, ‘…yes?’.

Oh and if it wasn’t obvious I am now back in Uni Town and having a grand old time. Albeit, yes, hung over.

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New Hair

So, I got my hair cut today. For years I’ve had roughly the same hair cut – sideways (ish) sweeping fringe (or sometimes a full fringe until it starts growing too long, at which point sideways it goes unless it gets so long I have to part it), and lots of layers ranging from pretty short to pretty long so that it’s always had a messy-circa-2005 style because it’s so thick that the layers thin it out a bit. Recently it’s got down to below the back strap of my bra, which is hte longest it’s been in a while (though I’ve pretty much always had pretty long hair, and that’s how I want it to stay), but the layers are still round my face because I trim them (read, hack drunkenly with nail scissors at them when they really annoy me) every few months, ditto my fringe, because when they get too long they just look wrong, and I don’t have the patience to wait long enough for them to be long enough to look right again.

So it hadn’t been properly cut in a very long while, and it looked it, and now I want to do away with the layers and have it all roughly the same length, and I had a million split ends, and my fringe was incredibly wonky (honestly, some people go for drunk-dialling; I go for drunk…styling?!! Terrible pun, but seriously, what is the temptation there? I’ve also been known to go out practically dressed like a clown on occasions when I’ve done the pre-drinking prior to the showering and dressing aspect of a night out, lipstick brashly slashed across my face, colours thrown together with all the enthusiasm of a three-year-old would-be American Indian Princess or something. Anyway) – and it needed seriously sorting out.

So today I went down to the university hairdressers because it’s significantly cheaper than the Toni & Guy salon I last visited (this before university, of course, or at least before I became overdrawn i.e. definitely before Christmas last year (yes, I haven’t been in the black for nearly a year, but let’s gloss over that for now, shall we? I’m getting there, learning to budget, getting money for copyediting and watching Battlestar Galactica in order to be able to do so – does anyone have a box set of the series that they could lend me?)) and finally had my hair professionally cut. Personally I’d compare the process more to tree surgery than a restyle – not to put down my stylist, because frankly, given the state of my head, I think she did a brilliant job. But it’s definitely a work in progress. I’ve now simply got to leave the scissors well alone and let the layers grow out properly, and then I’ll probably have to come back at Christmas to sort it out once and for all. Right now I think I look a bit prim and proper because this is the sort of ‘daring’ do sported by those who still think skinny jeans are a bit too fashion-forward, but that’s only because I don’t have the balls for a full bob, I want longer hair eventually, and in order to get there I have to have this inbetween-y kind of style which suits me and looks fine, but just isn’t yet quite what I want.

In other words, I am learning such life skills as how to actually feel and express anger (but mainly feel it and then deal with it) and how not to panic at seven in the morning when you’re suddenly convinced that if you don’t take action now your whole world will cave in, as well as expanding my knowledge of the Le Creuset Concept school of cooking (locate the Le Creuset casserole in the fridge, place on hob, add a tin of tomatoes to whatever was eaten last night, or if it looks too tomatoey already add a tin of beans or tuna or kidney beans or sweetcorn instead, and voila! it’s suddenly an entirely different meal. Especially if you do potatoes tonight instead of pasta). I like being at home – mainly because there simply isn’t room for an entire casserole dish anywhere in our university fridge!

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A Good Day

B and I had a lovely afternoon – walked into town, got lunch – very nice jacket potatoes for very little money – and picked up cinema snacks, all the while talking and talking and talking about his relationships and mine and everything else under the sun and how to be happy and settled and how friendship groups change and evolve and how to feel settled and content and our expectations and wishes out of life and everything else basically. And then we went to see Up and it was beautiful, really, it was. We first of all see a fairly fast rush through a man’s life from him watching a black and white film about the explorer he idolises, to then meeting his tomboy wife-to-be, when they’re both children, and then a sequence of scenes from their marriage (possibly the sweetest thing Disney Pixar have ever produced – it brought a tear to probably most eyes in the house except the children, to whom it was probably mainly just funny), and then him as an old man, alone, and the reasons that lead him to tie a bunch of balloons to his house and take off for Paradise Falls, only to find an eight-year-old boy scout on board, desperate for his Assisting The Elderly badge. Then their adventures with a rare bird and a large number of dogs whose collars mean they can talk, and their eventual journey home. All about love and family and parts of it were just too lovely for words; but then parts of it were laugh out loud funny, and we had ice-cream and brownies and licorice allsorts and it was in 3d (amazing) and we had chocolate cornflake cakes and bread and a really, really good time, and walked home, still talking, and I felt a lot better.

And then I did an orchestra concert with my mother’s orchestra in a school in the town where I used to go to college way back when, playing the bass parts on my sister’s boyfriend’s cello which I never convinced to stay in tune, or never got into tune in the first place, so was constantly adjusting. That and the fact that bass parts are written one octave up from the register in which they’d come out on a bass, so if you’re playing them on the cello you’re constantly trying to transpose down an octave but there’s only so low a cello can go, so you hop around the octaves, and then sometimes being a cellist pretending to be a bassist is simply no bloody use so you have to switch over to the cello parts instead mid-piece, mid-phrase, mid-bar sometimes, and all in all you think you’re making a bit of a mess of things but apparently it actually all sounds pretty good by the end. And I’d not been to a rehearsal for this one either so it was, well, all good fun, as they say.

And meanwhile I got chatting to another cellist, T, who I admire and adore so much. In her seventies, she and her husband have travelled with his job a lot (he was in the Forces, a pilot) and they have lived everywhere. Tales and anecdotes from every continent, millions of snippets of sage advice and comforting philosophies and the sense, all the time, that you should sieze every opportunity you’re given and just really, really live. If what you’re doing isn’t right for you, then change it, do something else. And it’s never too late, and if you really want something then you just have to do your bloody best to get it. And at the end of the day ‘you just get through, somehow, don’t you?’ because even for the most carpe-diem of us it’s not always sunshine and cider. But make the best of everything, and live, and always know that if you died tomorrow you’d not feel like there was anything you hugely missed out upon.

I was also glad to hear from her that she’s been having lessons with my beloved former cello teacher, and that they get on like a house on fire. And tomorrow (eek!) I’m having my hair cut. We’ll see how that one goes, but I think it might be time for a change. Not that many of you even have a clue how my hair looks.

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And Another Theory…

…is that instead of being CBT’d out of my ‘issues’ I need to talk about them, at length, until I piece together every last clue, take apart my childhood and adolescence, stare at the shittiest and worst bits, that show me some pretty bad things about me (I do now feel like a total bitch but actually I don’t think I was ever that bad) and some pretty bad experiences that would have seriously affected me, and stare at them and stare at them and hope that they will therefore somehow just…evaporate? I’m not sure I’d enjoy psychodynamic therapy in the least, but it’s an idea. Whether it would actually help, I don’t know. I think it might just make me cry lots and regret my youth even more. Hell.

So I think I’ll stick with Rob’s safe CBT-based going-into-the-future-not-the-past organised approach. I think. I am so fucking confused and upset and worried now. Sorry to swear.

Now, however, I am going to go and have lunch and go to the cinema with the lovely B, a friend of P’s who accidentally got adopted into P’s old school friends this summer and who happens to live not a million streets away from me. Should be just what the doctor ordered.

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An Update

So I went to see my new counsellor today and I think he’s the man for the job. Six weeks, he says, and he says he’ll make me work hard and handed out ‘homework’ to complete about how I feel hour-by-hour and so on. We identified strict objectives, and he says his approach is quite integrative – combining elements of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with more traditional talking therapy to build up a good relationship and work through what’s troubling me. I think this might work. I’m almost excited. Thankfully (since he’s at home) I can see him on a Friday which does also mean I pretty much have to go home (if I’m not there already) every week. Which might be expensive but is also to my mind a good thing. Home is nice. I feel all resilient now – and I fancy going out for a drink or something. Hmm.

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