Monthly Archives: February 2010

Lovely Recent Things

I’m going to make another one of those lists of good things. Because it’s a couple of days since I posted, I definitely had a good idea for a post, and I can’t remember what that idea was, so here’s the happiness list in my life at the moment:

  1. Dinner at A’s with friends and whisky and wine. Simple, convivial, my turn next week.
  2. Planning dinner parties. As for the cooking of them, well, we’ll see.
  3. The kind of friends who let you stay over because it’s late and rainy and you don’t feel like waking up alone tomorrow morning and anyway your shoes have holes in and they’d probably say yes, do stay over, anyway, because there’s a double bed and this is who we are and you can wear my Star Wars t-shirt and my boxers and have the sleeping bag as well as half the duvet because you’re weird, Jenny.
  4. Starbucks now they’ve gone fairtrade (who knew?).
  5. Getting involved in Church committees and the Chaplaincy.
  6. Stravinsky (in choir we’re doing an arrangement by him of four Russian folk tunes with really bizarre words, for four female voice parts and four french horns. Odd, but brilliant, trust me. And in the pub the other day we were discussing headbanging to Stravinsky but thanks to the rather good whisky I was drinking (OK, OK, I broke my lent, I fail) I can’t absolutely remember why. We were playing Scrabble though and I still won, so I wasn’t that drunk).
  7. The Archers, if only because I’m having a premature midlife crisis of some kind, according to H.
  8. Hot chocolate in Cocoa. A once-in-a-lifetime treat, I think, consisting literally only of couverture (chocolate scraps) melted with double cream, thick, gloopy, and astonishingly rich. And lapsang souchong to finish. And good company, or books.
  9. Oxfam. I love volunteering there, it’s one of the highlights of my week, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.
  10. It turns out the Easter break starts a week sooner than I thought. This is absurdly pleasing if only because I half-thought I would be going home an awful lot earlier and now it turns out I’m not (this is linked to that good news I mentioned; if you’ve guessed, or I’ve told you, breathe ye not a word).

Some bad things:

  1. It is actually still snowing on occasion. This is just bloody annoying.
  2. Every time I go to work in Oxfam I end up spending money. This is stupid.
  3. Tea and the kettle are downstairs; I am upstairs.
  4. I am so busy right now that I didn’t get to practice my violin or my cello all week, and how I think I’m going to fit singing lessons into this at any point I really don’t know.
  5. I still can’t drive.
  6. Sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice to come home at the end of a long day and climb into bed with Someone, just someone to cuddle, to feel loved by, to feel the same in return. Something simple, reliable, and, oh, lawks, contentment. Apparently Uni Town is devoid of people who meet these ever-so-specific criteria (alright, I lie, I am famously picky), or rather, suddenly the whole world is going out with the whole rest of the world and I don’t actually know any single men! Sad times.

So, you know, on balance, the good wins out. I’m just tired today and perhaps a little hungover and hangovers and me don’t get on so well.

4 Comments

Filed under Friendship, Happenings, Life, Relationships, Society, Thoughts, University, Women

Daffodils and Teapots

I like: cut flowers, tea in a pot (preferably leaf tea), picnics and camping and pretending to do both of the above even though you’re actually on your own sitting room floor. I like pretty pictures and I very much like my good friend M, whose blog this is. Formerly known as the Photolosopher, she has finally got her own blog. And if you like letters, postcards, apple crumble, and can’t quite bring yourself to hate the snow however much you grumble about it, you’ll really like it. I certainly do. So – here’s to a new addition to M.A.P.!

1 Comment

Filed under Beginnings, Blogging, Friendship, Internet, Life

Some Observations, Misc.:

One: It strikes me that it’s quite often the people most lacking in confidence who have the best wardrobes. Who have the pretty tops and the long sweeping maxidresses, the really, really striking clothes, and the cardigans-that-somehow-go-with-everything. This might partly be just because despite their lack of confidence in how they look they possess that innate sense of style that some women have, or it might be because they’re doing all they can to counteract how they feel about their bodies by looking as good as they can, or it might be pure chance, I don’t know. I like shopping and I buy lots of stuff and I have done so for years, and for years I had no confidence either; anyway, just an observation.

Two: I am PMS-ing like nothing else. All crazy and weepy when actually if you look at it I’ve had a great few days, I’ve had some really good news, and things are looking really good right now, but actually I just want to go home and cry and I don’t really know.

Three: I should be somewhere else and I am late.

5 Comments

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

Starbucks Shocker

I’ve talked about this a bit before but I’ve had a few more thoughts on the issue so now I’m going to put them all in blog form on the off-chance that some of those thoughts are worth the reading. Basically: my ovaries. Hello, you. See, it was quite funny for a while – in some ways it still is. Oh, haha, Jenny’s just seen a small child and she’s gone all crazy and gushing about it. To be honest it was quite amusing to me because obviously I’m not likely to have children of my own for at least another five years or so. There’s part of me that somehow believes I never will get married and have kids, just because I’ll never find someone who I love as much as they love me, or vice versa, I just believe it’s somehow never going to work out for me. I don’t know why I should think that but there you have it.

Anyway. I was in Starbucks the other day with some friends, M and H, who are a couple, P, a bachelor of 64 who was on the same MA as M and is now a good friend of his; and A, who I’m always talking about, who was, incidentally, suited and booted for the funeral later that day of his friend’s grandmother, may she rest in peace. We’re all in Starbucks with our coffees and mochas and hot chocolates, M soothing his hangover with fruit salad and water, me pigging out on crisps, sandwiches, syrup waffles and an apple fritter doughnut (it was just one of those days, I don’t know). And into the cafe arrive: five mothers, about seven children between the ages of about eighteen months and four-ish, buggies and bags and toys and coats and a lot of noise.

We carry on talking and actually at first H and I are OK. The group is directly behind H so she can’t really see them without turning round; I can see them over her head but currently I’m more interested in eating and a fairly absorbing discussion of something pretty surreal (yeah, you’d be scared if you spent any time with us as a group, things get a bit mental).

And then one of those children, small, curly headed, blond, just under two years, at a guess, starts crying. It’s probably partly the fact that I am twenty years old and a girl but hear a child crying and there is nothing you can do about your response, it’s completely preconscious, and it was all I could do not to get out of my seat and run to him and pick him up and try and make it all better. Just a completely emotional, hormonal lurch. H felt it too, I could see, and we were transfixed from then on in. She was constantly turning around and neither of us were particularly participating in the conversation any more as we literally just stared.

I wasn’t particularly thinking, ‘aww, that’s cute’ as two of them clumsily hugged one another, or marvelling at the way they play and how you can literally see the learning process going on, which is amazing really – oh! if I pull this cord the lamp switches on! and off again! And if I do it again…? it switches on! and off! and on!… – I was thinking all of these things, yes, but what I was mainly feeling is this irrepressible gut instinct about just how much I pray I have children myself one day. I’m not mad – obviously I don’t mean now (though jokingly I did ask A if he would be the sperm donor for my children) – but it’s not as if I have got any rational mental choice in the matter. Hormonally I am absolutely and completely cut out to be a mother, because that is my evolutionary role – to have children, and to teach and protect them until they can look after themselves.

Sometimes it amazes me that we think we’re all so clever – we build buildings higher than we can really imagine, we fly planes, we invent computers, the internet, solve the enigma code, know how to blow up our own planet, drive cars, play chess, write great literature, record history, the Bible, produce the most heartstoppingly beautiful music and paintings and sculptures, have conversation, complicated humour and wit, brew ale, set fire to things, cook food, ferment things to create whisky or wine or whatever. We have clothes, watches, make-up, houses, streets, a money economy where most of the money these days is in the form of imaginary numbers that get shifted about from computer to computer, transactions going on that sort of don’t really exist (you can see just how much I know about the economy…)  – and underneath all of this, all this intelligence and thought and beauty and might and power – we are just animals. We’ve just designed a hugely complicated system for satisfying basic animal needs for food, warmth, companionship, sex, having offspring. We are only a bunch of hairless apes with bad posture and 20/20 hindsight, and we only want these same basic things, on some level. We cannot escape the fact of our nature and in some ways why would we want to?

Think about it. You invite all your friends out for a sophisticated-sounding dinner party, when what you’re really saying is, come to my place where it is warm, look potentially sexually attractive, eat too much food and we’ll probably have lots of humorous but slightly coarse conversations and jokes all evening before finally going home and falling asleep. You go out to dance somewhere and it’s all just about the display. We may as well have bright green shimmering feathery tails like peacocks, we just happen to be a bit less elegant and (perhaps?) a bit less weird about sexual display but that’s all it is, posturing.

We are still animals, underneath it all. It doesn’t make the art or the philosophy or the science or the architecture or the other millions of amazing things we’ve done pointless, of course not, they add to our experience and appreciation of the world and they are great achievements, but we shouldn’t forget that we are basically apes who just happen to walk on their hind legs. That’s what I tell myself anyway, because otherwise there is no rational explanation for the complete hold small children have on me (no paedophilia jokes in the comments please, I might just cry…).

15 Comments

Filed under Family, Food, Friendship, Happenings, Introspection, Life, Sex, Society, Thoughts, Women, World

Weekend Away

With the church, to Edale Youth Hostel. Beautiful scenery, good company, great food, a weekend of prayer and contemplation and some good thoughts and speeches from Mark Russell, CEO of Church Army.

As usual with my church at times it got pretty intense, lots of prophesying, group prayer and laying on of hands. I think prophesy is very often more like cold-reading, you say something relevant and it sounds like a prophesy, although I certainly believe in prophesy as a concept (I mean, look at the Bible, it’s full of people in the Old Testament predicting things that happen in the New) and I don’t see why there shouldn’t be prophets in this day and age but I don’t think everyone has the gift of prophesy, unlike my church, and in fact I think if anything at all it’s extremely rare and not akin at all to what my church does and calls prophesy. Fair enough. It’s reasonably harmless. I don’t like group prayer either, or rather, it depends who I’m praying with, because I tend to prefer prayer to be personal and contemplative and it doesn’t help me having a youth worker or part of the Ministry Team – i.e. someone who is at best only an acquaintance – praying with me for things which are relevant to my life only and which they don’t really understand, however well they might mean what they say. So I tend to prefer praying on my own or with close friends who understand what I’m praying about a bit better. To be honest I’m terribly British and find the whole thing very awkward because my relationship with God is private and personal and given that I’m not necessarily particularly huggy or tactile as a person, if I wouldn’t normally lay my hands on a person or hug them spontaneously then it feels odd to be touching them or them to be touching me when I’m praying.

Worship got pretty intense, too, but I think I learnt a lot this weekend about how far I’ve come as a Christian and where I want to go and where God wants me to go next. So I’m still worried and still stressed but things are starting to look a little better than they were.

And meanwhile I got out on a beautiful walk with some friends. Photos are up on Facebook, or will be soon, but don’t be too excited, they’re only iPhone quality, however beautiful the scenery… and I can’t be bothered to put them up here…!

So, hello, folks. My, that was an exciting post for you. Now. Food and fiddle practice and I have a decision to make – do I want or need to go to church tonight or would it be better to stay home and relax, preferably with A, H, and a PFW?

2 Comments

Filed under Beginnings, Happenings, Introspection, Life, Religion, Society, Thoughts, University

Counterbalance

You do something you shouldn’t have done, and perhaps you could wallow, so you do for a bit, and it doesn’t make you feel any better, so instead the next day you get up and you go to yoga at some stupid time in the morning and you push yourself and you tie yourself in knots and the instructor comes up and tells you that you’re really flexible and you should watch out and hold yourself together better in some poses so that you don’t do some damage by mistake and so you do, you feel all strong inside, and then you leave, bang on time, out of the room before most people have rolled up their mats and you go to your 9am lecture via Starbucks for a fairtrade mocha (forgetting, bother, to ask for decaf), and the Union shop for a new pen, bang on time, concentrating, the perfect set of notes, not just a transcription of the slide show like it’s so easy to slip into doing, and you stride out of your lecture at ten to ten and get to the gym in good time for an hour’s swim and a decent (hot) shower (we don’t seem to have those at home) before your next lecture – you might even get time to drop your shoes at the cobblers if you’re lucky – but you get to the gym and there’s a big sign saying that the pool is closed due to ‘unsafe chlorine levels’, so you go home instead and pray the shower will be hot and you’re going to do some violin practice instead because there isn’t time to go to the library and you don’t own the textbook you need (yet).

And then you go to Oxfam, and then you come home for an actual meal, not necessarily sitting down, but never mind, and then you’re going out for drinks with your possible new housemates, except that you’ve given up alcohol for lent so like last night you’re going to feel all clean and clear-headed when you set out home at eleven (it’s odd how even one drink makes the difference, and it’s so nice being completely and utterly stone-cold sober, even if you would seem no less sober after one half to any observer, that you start thinking about going teetotal altogether, not just for lent, but it’s early days yet and it’s just a shame that some drinks taste so delicious and could you really miss out and also it’s sort of socially awkward being a non-drinker, people get the wrong impression about you).

And the next day it’s Friday and it’s the church weekend away and that’s good, lots of prayer and perhaps you’ll try to take some work or something to do in your free time, there has to be some free time and you have to do something useful with it, so you do. And the next week there’s orchestra and choir and things all over again and you just keep moving and being the best person you can and you’re madly polite to everyone and you smile a lot and you’re a good Christian and this time you actually go to homeless outreach like you said you would and you put daft amounts of money into the collection plate at Church because you really ought to get into titheing even if you are still a bit overdrawn and you try to do everything you know how to do that could make you in any way a better person than you’re starting to think you are because the only way to be a better person is to go out and do things that mean you can respect yourself. And so it goes on.

19 Comments

Filed under Beginnings, Endings, Happenings, Introspection, Life, Relationships, Religion, Society, Thoughts, University, Women, World

The Golden Compass

Possibly the most annoying title ever thought of for a film when the book was called Northern Lights, at least in the UK. How very annoying.

Anyway. Actually I want to talk about moral compasses. Hello. I’ve just recieved some news about a friend who has done something so completely off my moral chart that my mind is just boggling; it feels like my brain is a waterbed upon which a really fat person has just landed really heavily and my brain is just rebounding, heavily, in that waterbeddy way.

Erhm, yes. What this friend has done is not in the usual early-twenties love triangle/cheating lying shit/selfishness line of things – that, well, I don’t know. It is about selfishness and about emotions we can’t control and although I don’t approve of cheating, lying and all the rest of it in terms of relationships, I do understand why it happens, how you end up in those kinds of situations.

I’m not here to talk about what this friend has done. What I am here to say is, morally, there are some things which are just completely off the map, utterly wrong. I don’t believe in moral absolutes – or rather, yes, I do, I believe in notions of Good, Bad, Right and Wrong, but I don’t believe that everyone exactly shares my views and I suppose in that sense I believe in the platonic forms of those things – that there is an objective morality and we aim wildly at it. Obviously as a Christian I also believe that those things are inspired by and ordained completely by God – but as a reasonably liberal Christian I don’t necessarily agree that it’s all in the Bible exactly as written, otherwise I’d believe in stoning adulterers to death and so on.

Objective morality or no, I believe that as a culture, day to day, we all believe roughly the same things. That although plenty of us sit on a spectrum, morally – just how ‘sacred’ should sex be, how much should the State provide for the needy, and so on – we would all agree that the state should provide some assistance and that sex is in some way a Big Deal. Broadly, we all share similar values, most of the time – and sometimes someone crosses a line and does something which is truly shocking because it doesn’t fit anywhere within a moral spectrum of which we can concieve – something which displays none of the values that we tend to assume that everyone shares to some extent, something which seems utterly wrong because we have no way of explaining it or justifying it to ourselves and therefore cannot imagine ever doing such a thing ourselves.

And then you start to wonder if there really is any kind of shared moral compass. Whether everyone in a given society, say, broadly, Western culture, really has that much in common when they make moral decisions from day to day. Whether we do all share the same motivations and desires and whether they influence our behaviour in the same way. Really, can we assume anything at all about why people do the things they do?

5 Comments

Filed under Film, Friendship, Happenings, Introspection, Life, Relationships, Religion, Sex, Society, University, World

I Love You THIS Much

If you’re stuck for where to get your cards in the next few months, and anyway you walk into a card shop and you’re just bewildered by all that choice, on this beautiful site you can get free cards, if you print them out yourself, to show someone just how much you care.

I think, incidentally, this is in about as poor taste as you can get, which is probably why it’s the most hilarious of the lot. Although it would be hysterically funny in cases of minor disaster.

Brightened up my day anyway. And, y’know, one in the eye for Tesco, right?

13 Comments

Filed under Friendship, Happenings, Internet, Life, Relationships, Sex, Society

Who's That Girl We All Adore?

This is a song my dad made up when I was a baby:

Who’s that baby in the mirror?

Who’s that girl we all adore?

[dah-da dah-da dah-da da, … …]

Anyway. That’s beside the point. I’d just learnt to recognise myself in mirrors. Hello, me. My point is, sometimes it really bothers me, you know? I see myself in several ways: confident, a bit feminist, gutsy, opinionated and independent (none or few of those are particularly true, but I can dream); whiny, girly, lacking in confidence, motivation or style, melodramatic, pathetic, over-reliant on others; somewhere in between. I hope I’m nearer the former than the latter.

Then, in real life, the truth is slightly different. I don’t know how other people truly see me. I know A finds me hilarious, and I must assume I am also a good friend to him in some capacity – good advice, good company, I don’t know what it is. I’m completely amnesiac so I feel bad that every time he wants to come and complain about something that’s bothering him he has to give me the backstory again each and every time. R finds me amusing too, that I know. I know that I am valued by a lot of people but other than the obvious – when people laugh it’s because you’re being funny either because you just did something really stupid or because you’re actually genuinely witty, and to be honest I don’t mind which of the above is true and hopefully I find both of those things quite funny anyway.

What I’m not saying here is, ‘why do people like me? please like me? I’m such a terrible person and I have no self-esteem and I’m not really worth a second of your time, sorry sorry sorry’. I am liked. I get it. What I want to know and what is impossible to really tell is how people percieve me, whether they like me or not. What is my character according to others?

And then there’s another side: how does how I seem in the real world compare to the self I present here on this blog, online, in front of you lot? How do I get judged?

I know I have my faults, but I think they’re different faults depending on how you interact with me. I think where online I can be bolshy, argumentative, opinionated and even sometimes completely out of order, in the real world I go almost the opposite way. I find it difficult to hold and espouse an opinion. I find it difficult to express my opinions in the first place although I am a lot better at that than I used to be; and when people I know, like and admire come along and say very definitely, ‘I, Joe Bloggs, see things like this. The world is This Way’, that sort of dogmatic viewpoint will hugely sway me such that I suddenly find that I don’t disagree. And then half an hour later when I’ve stopped talking to Joe Bloggs and am now in fact on my own on my way home I suddenly realise that I don’t actually entirely agree with Joe Bloggs and I’ve somehow fooled myself into thinking that way because, oh, I like Joe Bloggs and he’s clever so he must be right. I don’t do that on the internet. I go almost the other way. I read an opinion and I’m more likely to start deconstructing it and thinking of counterarguments and ripostes and even put-downs. So is it that I am more confident behind the protection of the screen? There’s an XKCD to that effect, I’m sure of it.

In real life I am much more of a pushover, I think I am probably sweeter, whinier, more effeminate, and to be honest if I am to be thought of as in any way annoying I would rather be thought bolshy and tough than girly and weak.

I don’t know, it’s odd. I don’t know how I come across on the internet or in real life, I don’t know how they differ, and then you have the me in my head, constantly going ‘but you said completely the opposite the other day’ or ‘you’ve really backed yourself into a corner there, haven’t you?’. Tied into all of this is the question of readership. I don’t worry too much – I know, given the fraction of my friends that actively know about my blog and the size of my readership here that actually not that many people I know read this blog and that most of the readership is probably actually strangers (weird thought), so that’s OK. Hello lurkers. But I don’t know – I wonder if it’s odd, being a lurker who I know in real life, and thinking, this isn’t quite the Jenny I know. And I find it odd that there are people who do read the blog and who do know me well in real life and does this blog make sense to them given how well they do or do not know me? And does it seem to fit with me more coherently to those people who know me better, or is there not really a correlation there?

It’s impossible to see yourself from the outside. I’m starting to feel a bit insane. Next I’ll be having an out of body experience and waving disconcertedly at my own ears, so instead I shall… watch Lark Rise?

It’s probably bed time. I think the point I was originally trying to make may have got lost in the post.

6 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Friendship, Internet, Life, Relationships, Society, Thoughts

The Creation Story

There’s a reason it’s called a myth. I still believe in evolution, you know, but I don’t believe that the real purpose behind Genesis is to say, here, look, the world was created in six days three thousand years ago – no, it’s all about saying look, here is this one God, who at the time was completely different from the gods of other religions, multiple very human gods skipping about turning women into trees and fighting over each other’s wives and sisters. Here is this one God who is completely different, and so much bigger than you can possibly comprehend.

Anyway, currently, when I am not doing anything else I am watching The Bible: A History, which you can find here on 4od, and it’s very interesting.

10 Comments

Filed under Beginnings, Endings, Internet, Life, Religion, Society, Thoughts