Category Archives: Relationships

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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Twitterblogging I

I am spending the weekend at A’s. He may be throwing me a barbecue. I anticipate marvellous times. Shame about the weather really. On the other hand: oven-cooked meals, hot showers, and beds, all in the same place? Unheard-of pinnacles of delight, methinks.

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I Really Don't Get Why You All Fancy David Tennant

I’ve just read this article, in the Guardian. It’s all about the trend for skinny skinny skinny male models. And it’s very interesting in that it shows that men’s bodies these days are starting to be public property in the same way that women’s bodies are (no, seriously – as the author of this article quite justifiably points out, addressing, one assumes, all of male humanity: ‘Do you know what it’s like to turn 12 and find your body subject to the scrutiny of the entire world? Do you know what it’s like to be constantly judged by the opposite sex and (perhaps more harshly) by your own? To be conditioned to view your body in such a way that you regularly find yourself in a public space (a park, a train carriage, or walking down a street) rating the legs, or bellies, or upper arms of everyone you pass in terms of the merits and failings of your own? Do you know how self-conscious that makes you, how disarmed, how confused, how dissatisfied, how unbelievably freaking vulnerable?’). Which is obviously terrible, because the human body should not be objectified, judged, dissected and criticised like that the whole time, no matter your gender or size.

But anyway, what I mainly wanted to say was this: I really do not understand the attraction of skinny guys. I just do not get it. I find skinny men utterly weird in the same way that I find completely cleanshaven men slightly creepy. I do not get the attraction so many women seem to have to David Tennant or Matt Smith. I like a man who is bigger than me in all dimensions (I really have no objection to men with bigger boobs than me – if I did have such an objection I’d be right back looking at the skinny men and well just no). I like a man who is stronger than me, and a bit of fat never went amiss. Seriously.

Other than that I’m not particularly fussy about men. Or rather, I guess I am, but I have some slightly unusual ideas of what makes a man good-looking. And to be honest – as, again, the author of this article mentions – women actually don’t care that much about the looks of their man. We would all rather have someone with a good personality, who makes us feel good about ourselves and who makes us happy and who is happy when he is with us. Clever, funny, caring, and frankly it’s a massive turn-on to be wanted by someone. And actually, in the past, I have liked and gone out with and been attracted to skinny guys, because I’m fickle like that. But if you asked me to describe my ideal man in terms of looks he would be taller than me by a few inches, probably, broad-shouldered, strong, but not utterly ripped. And I know a number of girls who really really fancy skinny guys and I simply do not understand it, so having seen this article I wanted to register my confusion with the world.

Now let’s all have a nice long feminist-centred debate about manorexia, male grooming, and the pressure to look a certain way, and whether, after all these years, men possibly deserve it…?!!

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Filed under Fashion, Life, Relationships, Sex, Society, Thoughts, Women

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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Success

I wasn’t sure if it was him, walking towards me. He had the same arrogant lumbering gait, all testosterone and shoulders, and the friend with him also looked familiar, and I was somewhere where I would not have been surprised to see him. For a few seconds all I was aware of was how my heartbeat seemed to be making time slow down, every sound muffled, my mouth drying out. I nearly turned round – wanting to run I would instead have just walked, fast, in that way you do at school because you’re late and you’re not allowed to run in the corridors. But I thought, no, don’t be daft, and I kept on walking, and it wasn’t him, and gradually the rest of the world flooded back into focus.

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