Category Archives: Friendship

Billions Of Twins

One of my first male friends shared my birthday, when we were about six; then there was Alex at school who also did (and does still). We had a sort-of joint thing once, by which I mean that I went to her birthday thing and some people gave me presents too and then I didn’t have to do any organising myself. Good work. And then we went to college and met not one, not two, but three people who also shared our birthday. And now I am living, next year, with a guy who also shares that birthday but is, I believe, a year younger than me. So happy birthday to all those concerned!

As you can imagine, if you’re about my age and have facebook, my wall is filled with congratulations on my birthday. Some of those are from people I haven’t spoken to in ages and people I never knew that well in the first place and I wonder if that’s just some kind of reflex reaction – see birthday notifications, send good wishes. I’m sure, however, that it’s all very well-meant. Some of those people I’ve not spoken to in ages are people I’m very glad to have heard from and I would probably do the same, even if the messages themselves are a bit generic, how many different things can you say about a birthday? Happy birthday, have a lovely day, have a good one, have one on me, have you got anything good planned for tonight, then? Then there’s the more old-fashioned Many Happy Returns, and then one friend (who I really haven’t seen in a long while and would really like to, when I’m a bit less busy in a few days, definitely, plan) who has reminded me that I am now old enough to adopt a child and hire a car in a foreign country, possibly even at the same time. Excellent.

Other people, whose congratulations are equally as bland, are indeed very good friends. So thank you to those too. And other people have used my birthday as an excuse to get back in touch and start talking about meeting up, to which, yes, if you’re reading this, absolutely.

So although I was tempted to get all curmudgeonly and bitch about how on your birthday, on facebook, millions of people you barely remember, and don’t mind forgetting, decide to get in touch to say something mindlessly dull about a day that really doesn’t matter that much to me. But actually, most of those greetings have put a smile on my face. I’ve been reminded of friends who are currently in wholly the wrong country, people who have been away or busy, or I’ve been away or busy, and however much we mean to meet up, catch up, it keeps not happening but that doesn’t mean that the thought’s not there.

So what I’m really saying is that, where it’s truly meant well, as an expression of friendship cherished and or memories well-loved, thank you. Really, I do mean that, despite the next paragraph.

I’m not into mindless giving of birthday wishes and this is where I think facebook is a bit weird, this obsessive collecting of ‘friends’, and there are plenty of people I’d not have on my friends list but deleting them is so final, if they found out it would be a rather complicated social slight and basically I can’t be bothered with making waves and upsetting people just because I really don’t remember or care about the last time we spoke but you might. Yes. Curmudgeonly, I told you. And, well, deleting people, even with Dom’s helpful list, is still a bit tedious.

Another thought I’ve just had is this: it’s kind of surprising how quickly one year or two have gone by and suddenly you think, when was the last time I saw X? And then you do, you have lunch, and it’s like you were never away. Or it’s awkward as arse. After all, this ain’t When Harry Met Sally.

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Filed under Friendship, Internet, Life, Society, University

Hypochondria BSc

This is the thing with my degree, see. You study, in massive detail, all the things that can possibly go wrong with the human body.

It’s not the pathogens that bother me, I’m not worried – as yet I’ve never caught anything too serious (apart from a bout of food poisoning this year related to, well, the state of our kitchen *grumble*). I’ve got a pretty tough immune system by and large, and anyway, there’s not much in terms of random illnesses you can contract in the UK. Nothing as bad as the Ebola virus, or E.Coli, or whatever.

I worry a bit about cancer – one in three of us will get it, after all, but equally the chances of an individual cell in your body turning cancerous are miniscule, and there’s nothing I can do about that.

There’s also nothing I can do about the bit that does bother me: genetics. Except, kind of, there is. Because I won’t know until it happens that I’ve got cancer, or diptheria, or tetanus. There is nothing I can do to prevent those things from happening except do my bit to prevent those things happening like take a reasonable amount of exercise, not smoke, and read the Daily Mail obsessively, of course. But it’s not me that I’m worried about in terms of genetics – it’s what am I going to pass on that I don’t know about yet? What currently silent heterozygote mistake do I carry – one gene fine, the other containing a terrible deletion or insertion or repeat, which, when I was put together, could be safely ignored because the other gene for whatever-it-is was fine, and won out? What if I just happen to fall in love with someone who also happens to have that error, and there it is? I want someone to sequence my whole genome and just tell me the worst, tell me that I carry genes which will give this child short sight and loose tendons (duh) and probably a mild scoliosis and/or spina bifida (but not the really bad kind) – all that I know I definitely or probably carry on my genome and that’s fine, that’s not caused any big problems for anyone in my family. It’s also possible, but quite a slim chance, that I carry something else which has had terrible consequences within my family; and this frightens me in the dead of night sometimes or when I’m not expecting it to frighten me, and it’s difficult to remember that it’s a very rare thing to carry and I will hopefully not have the bad luck to ever have children with a fellow carrier. And then there’s all the things I don’t carry as such but who knows what will happen, what instability and fragility there is in my genetic code, which, completely unpredictably, will cause all kinds of problems for a child of mine?

And yes, I say I’m not worried about the illnesses I may or may not have, but honestly, I’m terrible, I’ve had headaches and started to worry about tumours; there’s an odd lump on my elbow I keep meaning to get checked out and it’s almost certainly nothing but I’m sure it’s grown; I spent a good proportion of the last year wondering – academically – if I had MS, although why is, well, a story for another time. Let’s not go there…! I wasn’t actually frightened about it, more just drawing parallels and spotting symptoms and adding things up and it came to a fairly reasonable ‘what if’ which concerned rather than frightened me, but I don’t want to go to the doctor’s about it because it’s just too much like hard work to schedule an appointment and register at a surgery (that’s right, I’m not currently registered anywhere. Well, no, I am at Uni Town, but… well, that’s a rant for another day. The UHS is the Fort Knox of bureaucracy). And then you start spotting random symptoms which are almost certainly just nothing but could be Something Fairly Serious… if combined with a whole bunch of symptoms you don’t have. I know too much not to think about it all; and not enough to know for certain that I’m being seriously daft.

And then I think about the level of hypochondria in intelligent friends who do completely unconnected degrees – English, Engineering, Maths, Philosophy, Chemistry – and I realise that actually, I could be so much more concerned about so many more illnesses. I must have some reasonable level of knowledge after all. And at least I don’t know enough about helicopters to convince myself that they’re suddenly going to remember that according to Physics they have no good reason to stay in the air, and just land on my head.

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Filed under Friendship, Happenings, Life, Relationships, Sex, Society, Thoughts, Uncategorized, University

Dreaming…

I want to go on holiday somewhere hot and beautiful. I want a villa with a pool and cocktails and friends, I want a village with fresh bread and tomatoes so ripe they make the rest of the world seem as if it’s so far been lacking some crucial dimension. I want little ancient churches, intriguing markets, historic castles, secluded bays, beautiful long walks. I want to cook with fish I practically saw being pulled out of the sea and I want stars and crickets and lizards and sunshine and the kind of tan people will admire and envy vocally for weeks. Still. I had a lovely weekend, coming away with tales of foxes and insanity and shoes, of which more later. And I’m perfectly happy. But it could be sunnier.

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What I Like About The Future

I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have no idea, either, what I’m going to want, and whether what I want this time next year is going to be the same as what I want now or somehow entirely different. And so it doesn’t matter that I don’t know what’s going to happen, because I also don’t know how I’m going to feel about it, so I basically have to assume that whatever it is it’ll be fine; because even if you could tell me what’s going to happen, how I feel about it now and how I will actually feel about it could well be two entirely different things.

So actually, yes, it’s all OK. Even though sometimes I would like someone to drop out of the sky and whisper in my ear, tell me about my future, promise me it contains Nobel prizes and a real-life Daniel Craig/Mr Darcy hybrid and a car that drives like an Aston and runs on solar power or the breath of fairies or something. It’s not going to happen (the sky person thing, I mean, not the Aston thing, that’s a definite). I don’t know what’s around the corner and, if I’m honest, I’d rather not find out too soon. It’s like reading the last page of the novel when you’re still only just getting up to the dramatic bit. You really don’t want to spoil the ending or know about twists in the tail, they’ll surprise you soon enough.

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Filed under Beginnings, Endings, Family, Friendship, Happenings, Introspection, Life, Relationships, Religion, Society, Thoughts, World

Twitterblogging III

Two people for whom I have more respect than I know how to put into words (really, I don’t) are getting married. In some ways I barely know either of them but, well, we follow one another’s fortunes and misfortunes and I can honestly say that their news has made me a very happy woman.

Now I’m going to go and swim in a millpond. A very good day, I think.

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Filed under Beginnings, Blogging, Family, Friendship, Happenings, Life, Relationships, Religion, Society, Thoughts

Twitterblogging II

Barbecue, postcards, sunshine, friends. Trying to work out how A came to be, having got to know his family a little better. Still stumped on some aspects of that one…but then I met his friends. Depends to what extent ones’ friends can be considered to be a formative influence, I suppose. Am now inconveniently re-addicted to nutella. Then work – chaotic but good fun and almost as steep a learning curve as my first shift. Next shift is Thursday so I hope and assume that this will give me less time to forget everything I know. Now. Bed.

There’s a fly stuck in my room.

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Filed under Blogging, Drink, Friendship, Happenings, Life

Herding Cats

Having friends is a bit like herding cats. You’re all busy, there’s lots going on, so you can’t communicate as much as you’d like and anyway you don’t really know if you’re even in the country next Tuesday, and there are things you all want to meet up and do, it’s just a question of when, and what is the critical mass of people – the fewest number of attendees you need before this stops being fun. So surely everyone hates organising stuff just as much as I do because it’s actually more akin to playing chess in your head but you don’t know for certain how many pieces are on the board or how big the board is. And then most of the time it actually all works out – enough people coincide in place and time in the right clothes and the right frame of mind and it’s all dandy. But goodness it’s hard work getting to that point.

You’re all my friends on the Internet *creepy smile* so we never have this problem, do we *even creepier smile*?

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Eternal Sunshine

If you haven’t seen this film and want to, look away now. It’s not really about the film as such so much as the concept. But what I’m going to say in this post will almost certainly tell you everything you really didn’t want to go in to watching the film for the first time knowing.

Right, you’ve had your warning. Basically it’s about memory, and about a service which removes peoples’ memories of a certain person or event. So of course it is primarily used by distressed ex-lovers trying to get their beloved ex-girlfriend or -boyfriend out of their head in order to move on with their lives. And as you know, I hope, two characters erase one another and then one way or another discover that they have erased one another, discover where all their old memories are, and fall in love again. I can’t remember whether they actually regain their old memories of each other, or merely discover that they had them – it wasn’t made clear, and I wasn’t concentrating. Anyway, there you go. I was watching this recently whilst doing some boring room-sorty thing, and it made me think a bit. One obvious question: if there’s a reason why you broke up, surely if you can’t remember anything about your entire previous relationship history is basically doomed to repeat itself and you’ll end up going through the same break-up and then probably discovering this memory-wiping service again… and so it goes on.

But the other thing that really troubled me was this: every time I’ve really fallen for someone, they’ve usually had a big influence on my life, as a friend or a partner, whatever. I’ve learnt a lot from those people and experiences about myself, and I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and changed a lot as a result of those relationships. Anyone you’re close to like that, be they a best friend or a boyfriend, will change you in some way, not necessarily in a bad way, just in that everyone we meet affects the course of our lives and the way we think about stuff in one way or another. We learn valuable lessons from the people we encounter all the time. So if you wipe the memories of that person, who or what do you become? If, as a result of your relationship with a person, you’ve become more confident and trusting, say, do you carry on being more confident and trusting – or, with no known reason to have those characteristics, do you lose them because they no longer tie in with your personal narrative, do you forget those lessons because you no longer have the memories of having learnt them and therefore to all intents and purposes never did learn those things? To be honest, I think the latter is more likely, though I couldn’t say why.

I wouldn’t change a second of my life, really. I’ve made some stupid choices and I’ve met people who have hurt me a lot and whom I have allowed to hurt me. I’ve had bad days and good days, bad years and good years, I have regrets, we all do – but in a world where all of those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So, given the choice, I’d keep those memories. What do you think?

P.S. I’m getting confirmed today. So that’s the subject of my next post, when I get the time… .

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

Motorbike

Say what you like – about people who ride motorbikes, about how dangerous it is, about the clothes and the culture and all the rest of it – you’re basically almost entirely wrong. I’ll admit that if you ahve an accident on a bike you’re more likely to end up horribly injured (I would have thought) or perhaps it’s just that you’re more likely to be involved in an accident because of all that leaning and wheeling about you do on corners.

So let’s forget all our preconceptions for a few minutes. The other day I rode on a motorbike for the first time. A friend (confusingly, A – although a different A from the A I’ve usually mentioned before under that initial) came over with cookies and strawberries and prosciutto and bread rolls, and I provided some leaves (well, salad, actually), and we headed over to the park and had a picnic in the sunshine (why have I never done this before? it was beautiful). We spent the afternoon there, my face burnt, there was an adorable baby in view for several hours although that said I also realised how much hard work is involved in even having a pleasant family day out for four when two of you are still less than two foot high – you can’t just relax around the barbecue, there’s constant chasing and cleaning and entertaining and feeding and soothing to be done and it didn’t look like either parent got much time just to sit and stare. So maybe I won’t have children just yet… .

So we had a beautiful afternoon, and then I had somewhere else to be going, and we had arranged that A would take me to the pub which was where I was going, but if needs be I could take the train and be picked up by another friend if I wimped out on the bike front. I didn’t wimp out. We did a little test drive – out on the main road to the edge of the city and along to the next small village, mainly sticking to quite slow speeds, a route that took in a few experimental roundabouts so I could get used to cornering, which is quite hard – if you’re riding pillion, don’t move your head, it’s the heaviest bit of you. Sit on the back of the bike like a sack of potatoes, don’t lean one way or the other but just follow exactly what the person you’re hugging is doing – basically, deliberately, don’t do anything. Ignore everything your instincts try to tell you about Physics – they’re wrong.

The scariest bit, actually, was the helmet, just because I’m a touch claustrophobic. As I put it on I kept thinking, oh god, what if I want to take it off? what if I need to take it off? despite not having any good reason to wish to do so. I don’t like pulling things over my head that are so tight that I have to take my glasses off to get them on.

But then once on the bike, in the sunshine, speeding along, engine thrumming seemingly all around me, children gawping, adults glancing out of their traffic stopped cars in obvious envy, wild and fast and, well, wow. So we ate some more of our picnic, had a few cups of tea, got a bit more sunburned, and set off.

Faster, further, the sun setting and the scenery stunning, more envious, amazed children, and the fantastic revelation that you can get TomTom on your iphone and listen to the directions through earphones, which was pretty cool. For A, I mean, not me, and obviously it was kind of standard to him, but there we go.

And finally, having got a little lost, we pulled into the pub, a bit late, and there was everyone else in the pub garden, and me waving from the back of a motorbike, and the complete amazement of at least some of my friends because who would have guessed in a million years that secretly Jenny Mohan had kind of always wanted to ride on a motorbike, and now she had, and perhaps her hair was flattened but her grin most certainly was not.

Sadly given the way I live and the things I do it makes a lot more sense for me to have a car than a bike. But I’m definitely up for riding pillion again, at least.

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Filed under Beginnings, Friendship, Happenings, Life, Relationships, Society

Today…

…I swam in a river, went to a spectacular pub I was not old enough to appreciate when I was there last, watched the football, did some useful work, and fell asleep unobtrusively in corners. The Budget featured lots in the news and I’m still making up my mind about what I think about it. Reactionary leftie self objects, sensible middle-of-road self approves cautiously, Tory incubus is grinning in a dark corner somewhere. I need to know more, first.

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Filed under Blogging, Family, Friendship, Happenings, Life