Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Don't take your vagina to the supermarket

You might be banned. Or something.

I know this is completely off topic for this blog, but I just had to post a link to this, an article about how US supermarket chain Albertson banned teen magazine Seventeen for having an article in it about vaginas.

For those of you who haven't had the luck to be initiated to Seventeen, suffice to say that it is a magazine which is so clean cut that it was allowed into the library of my school.

And my school was largely populated by fundamentalist Baptists who were pulled out of English Lit class because the books there contained too much sex. It is not on the dirty side of girls' mags by any means.

The two-page article in question, as you can read in the above article by the Guardian, is simply a straightforward article about vaginas, illustrated by an anatomical drawing and two pictures of different-sized labia.

Albertson, the supermarket chain, is a completely normal specimen of its kind. I used to shop there when I lived in the US.

I knew Americans were uptight about their bodies when people had problems saying 'vagina' out loud during a performance of The Vagina Monologues (by the way a pathetically tame play about female genitals which could only cause Western controversy in the US), but this is ridiculous.

One mum is quoted as saying "well, once their innocence is gone, it's gone." Yes, knowing what your own genitals look like is bad. Best hide all hand mirrors from curious teenage girls. Teenage pregnancies and STDs for under-seventeens (who are of course the main target market for the mag) is much better. Or at least the Bush administration appears to think so.

And it is not just tragic for a whole generation of teenagers who are raised to become walking targets for infections and single motherhood, it is tragic for women in general. This whole ordeal clearly signifies that society thinks female genitals are something people should be afraid, and possibly ashamed, of. What does that say about the US view of women in general?

It has only been banned in 12 states. Is this because Albertson's only has supermarkets in 12 states, or because people are only in denial about their daughters' (and own! teens were protesting the article too! arrgh!) vaginas in those states? Who knows. It's sad. Sad, sad and wrong.

I guess it's good that they keep on going in this direction so that the UK won't be all alone up there with it's outrageous teenage pregnancy rates. Which are obviously caused by social deprivation as much as anything else, but surely a little quality sex education wouldn't hurt.

I know I haven't said anything in here that sane people didn't know or think already, but I just had to vent.

Rant over.

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Monday, 28 November 2005

The family saga continues

I went with J to see his mother and as usual she was a weird mixture of civilised and sweet, slightly erratic and downright rude.

I asked J afterwards what he thinks I should say when she is out of line (which is on average once per visit) and he says he thinks that as a son, it is his role to put up with what I think amounts to verbal abuse, whilst I as an outsider am in my full right to stand up for myself and talk back in a constructive manner.

Now I was thinking about that after I got back. I think I disagree. Surely it's the other way around?

I think that if you are family, it means you should all respect each other and if someone is putting you down you have the right and almost obligation to tell them.

If you're someone's partner, however, I don't think you have the same right to talk back.

This of course leaves us in a sticky spot where neither of us really wants the job of standing up to the family bully.

In the end I know it will be up to me. I know this has worked for other partners in the family. I just find it hard to know what is a firm yet not bitchy comeback.

Today when we came to her house, it smelt like an old, lonely person. Only very vaguely, but still. She served preserves that were 'best before jun 2003' and I realised that really she is just a lonely, self-absorbed and probably somewhat bitter old lady.

She might not be around for that much longer. What right do I have to come around to ruin her day by denying her her number one pleasure of bullying other people so she can be the star of the party.

But hard to focus on that next time she says "so, remember last time you were here and you broke some of my crockery [chuckle chuckle]!!"

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Sunday, 27 November 2005

Mothers

It is the day for family Sunday lunches, and so I am taking this opportunity to relay a recent phone conversation between J and his mother:

J: ...and because they can only make this evening, I'll have to come and see you tomorrow morning instead if that's OK.

M: So you won't be staying over tonight then...

J: No, sorry.

M: Oh. Well. I'll just take the clean linnen off the bed then...

Arrrgh! She is such a martyr! She really has guilt-tripping down to a fine art. Maybe she secretly has a PhD in the subject. It wouldn't surprise me.

I know she would prefer it if he were there, but I don't really know why.

It goes with the story that he will now go to see her tomorrow morning instead, which means he'll be staying all day rather than just a couple of hours in the evening, so she'll actually see more of him rather than less.

It should also be said that he's not going tonight because I guilt-tripped him into staying with me. Well, not so much guilt-tripping I like to think, more genuine disappointedness because I hadn't realised he wouldn't be there tonight. Since he's leaving me shortly to move in with Radio4 bloke and Oxford girl, I want to keep him there while I can.

And, I hasten to add, for me there's a point in having him there at night! I need not elaborate, but if I have to sleep alone / go without for too long, I get cranky. And we wouldn't want that. For her, it's just part of the power struggle.

I really have no problem with him spending lots of time with his mother, after all she is almost all alone in the world (really, she is, and quite old too), but I just hate it when I wake in the middle of the night and he's not there.

And I didn't take on the martyr role, I just laid down the facts, as in "well, you've spent one night here for the past week, and we won't really see each other much next week either!".

Does this make me an evil selfish nightmare of a future daughter in law?

Apparently she prefers girlfriends of his to be easily manipulated and docile.

Well, tough luck.

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Saturday, 26 November 2005

The big question

In a few days time, it's my ex boyfriend's birthday (and no, although J's birthday was fairly recent as well, they're not the same starsign).

The question is, should I text him or not?

I haven't heard from him or about him for a whole year. I texted him last year and he got back to me saying he was doing well and to contact him when I moved to London.

I never contacted him, partly because I was busy, and partly because I just don't really have anything to say to him.

That is not to say, however, that I don't care if he's alive or dead. I do. And my mother does too, she used to really like him, and still asks if I've heard anything from him from time to time.

I am in touch with most my other exes, and the only reason I'm not in touch with him is that it still feels me with guilt to think that I dumped someone.

I emailed him after the bombs this summer to see how he was, but got no reply. However he didn't perish, and the email didn't bounce, so he's clearly seen it. He has probably moved on; all I want to know is if he's alive and hopefully well.

My best friend P says I have renounced any right to know anything when I broke up with him, and I realise that, but is it really that bad to send a text? The reason I think it might be bad is that I don't want to meet up with him, I just want to know if he's OK.

Comments from regular readers gratefully received, I know you are bursting with useful advice on this one. But hurry up, the birthday is fast approaching...

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Mortgage & babies

J has found somewhere to live! I haven't seen it yet, but it's on a really nice road very near me, in that weird London way where a nicer neighbourhood is always right around the corner.

I am of course mortally disappointed that even staying with me for a whole month hasn't convinced him he wants to move in with me.

He told me yesterday that he knows he would really enjoy living with me, but he still doesn't want to. He openly admits to being commitment phobic. Which I think he actually kind of likes. He says in his other relationships he's been dysfunctional in completely abnormal ways, so being commitment phobic feels comfortingly normal to him.

And I think it is. I think he sort of thinks we get on really well and being with me is great, he just doesn't equate this to having a mortgage and a baby. I remember feeling like that about people, while I was still at university. You kind of think in your head that this is really wonderful, and it will always be like this, I'll always meet people for whom I feel this way. But you don't.

When I was still in high school and in love with the man who's broken my heart more times than anyone else (he still could if he tried, I think), one of my teachers told me I should tell him how I felt and stick to him. I eventually did, but not until it was too late.

I think the way I thought about him is the way J thinks about me; I loved him with every fibre in my body, I just didn't understand how rare that was. I thought that was simply what it was like to be in love with someone. But it wasn't just being in love, I've been in love many times since and it's never been like that again, until I met J.

J probably thinks of me the way I thought of my teacher; I thought, what an incredibly depressive and negative way to view the world.

Should I hang around and wait for him to change his mind? It took me almost ten years. And I think it maybe wouldn't have happened at all without the emotional experience I acquired over that decade. I don't know if it is possible to arrive at that stage while you're with someone, because being with someone you just don't move in the same way. I am ready to stand still now, he's not, and I can't force him.

Then again maybe he should just get his act together and take a chance. At least one of us knows this is as good as it gets.

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Thursday, 24 November 2005

Laundry day

Living with J now has given us some excellent opportunities to try out our coupley fighting techniques. Yesterday, it was about laundry.

The night before, J realised he had forgotten to put on his laundry. He asked if I had any to be done and I (thought I) said yes, but that I wanted to sort it into piles myself, as he bungs everything in and puts it on 40 degrees and high spin. Aarrrgh for my silk clothes. I offered to do it, but he said he didn't want me to do it all on my own.

Then, as we were cooking dinner yesterday, he suddenly disappears, comes back with a huge pile of (his) dirty clothes and pile them into the machine. Hey, what about my washing? I say. I though you were doing that for yourself, he says.

When I explain that I was waiting for him to dig out his stuff and that I am now a little annoyed that he's just doing his washing without even having asked me if I have anything to put in, he gets really pissed off and stomps out like a three-year old. I find it fit to say something relatively unrelated yet quite painful.

And then we both apologise. I love his ability to apologise, something which has been sorely missed in at least one of my ex-partners. He will apologise even if he kind of knows it isn't his fault, in the good old female guilt-sharing fashion.

It was my fault, I say, because I shouldn't be pissed off just because you thought I was doing my own laundry separately. No, no, he says, I shouldn't have been so stressed about it, I'm just stressed, you're right, put your laundry in as well. I'm sorry I was so mean, I say.

And then he says, well if you're sorry too, why don't you come here, let's have a nice kiss. And we have lots. He smells lovely as always and is wearing a really soft cotton sweather.

He is the best kisser I have ever known. My knees still buckle, even with little comforting butterfly kisses. One of the greatest things in a relationship; being comforted.

I hung up the second machine of laundry this morning (I refuse to wash white t-shirts with dark socks!!). I accidentally did it on 60 degrees with high spin... It was only underwear and socks for me, but some of his jerseys had somehow got in there. Watch this space for domestic spat update.

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How to annoy your girlfriend

Before I start, let me point out that J is by no means guilty of all of these; they're a carefully selected spread from a variety of exes.

Also, they are only guaranteed to work if I am the 'girlfriend', although I suspect many of them would annoy others as well if tested on them.

  • Swear you'll be on time, then be late. Not just a little late, but a lot (20min+). In fact, in general, promise to do stuff, then fail to do it
  • Refuse to let go of the macho image which prevents you from enjoying things like romantic comedies, shopping and spa treatments
  • Keep leaving the toilet seat up in the middle of the night. This causes girlfriend to sit down on cold and filthy porcelain bit of toilet when she comes to the bathroom half asleep
  • Pretend you're listening to her while watching sports on TV, then reveal later that you didn't hear a word of what was said
  • Drive like a pig, swear at other drivers and get defensive if criticised
  • Refuse to see any dirt, dishes needing washed, mail which needs taken in or bins that need emptied until reminded at least five times
  • Get aggressive when you feel 'disrespected' in public, instead of taking the non-violent path
  • Feel 'disrespected' in public every time someone looks in your direction
  • Have bad personal hygiene and refuse to rectify when it's pointed out
  • Insist on watching every sports bulletin known to man and panic if someone else reaches for the remote control

It's funny how all those ten are complete clichees. I used to think when I was little that I could never get annoyed at someone for squeezing the middle of the toothpaste tube (rather than the end, which we all know is the proper way). Strangely, though, it does get annoying. Just like the toilet seat.

Hoping for a more uplifting post later on today.

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Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Phone angst

Long weekends are lovely. I had almost forgotten how lovely. I can't remember the last time I had one, but it must have been back in July or something.

I have actually had a very nice weekend. I went to the cinema and saw Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang which despite the lame title is by the way highly recommended (Woody Allen meets David Lynch on medication), did some shopping, saw friends, overordered in a restaurant. All as it should be.

Sadly, however, J was as earlier mentioned was away. We kept in touch by text as he hadn't brought his mobile charger and only switched his phone on twice a day to check it. I didn't mind this as he was leaving, but it started annoying me after a few days.

We deeply disagree on mobile phones. I am surgically attached to mine, and never switch it off except if I'm in the cinema or a job interview. I sleep with it on my pillow and use it as an alarm in the morning. It reminds me to take my contraceptive pill every day and of people's birthdays.

I don't always answer it, but if I hear it I usually do, even if I'm busy, just for a quick "I'm busy, but I'll call you back as soon as I can". I always check my messages.

J claims this is an age thing. Because I'm five years younger, I've grown up with phones. I've had one at my disposal since about 1993. That's a long time. My friends are all the same. I'm used to knowing I can get a hold of people at any time.

He is the opposite. He used to switch his phone off all the time, or have it on silent and check it about once a day. In my opinion this defies the whole point of a mobile phone. It drives me nuts.

This weekend, my thinking went as such: 50% of his text messages were asking if I was OK. If he really wanted to know, why didn't he call me?

Secondly, when I'm away, he calls me every day, at least once a day. I always answer my phone, even when I'm abroad and it costs a fortune.

I think I normally wouldn't mind the phone thing so much, but because I feel insecure in our relationship, and more so if he's not around, I need it as a reassuring lifeline.

I decided to confront him about the two points above as soon as he got home, unless he returned with an engagement ring in which case I thought it would be a little thankless.

He returned with artichokes in olive oil, which was also nice. And of course I didn't say the things I'd been thinking (no phone => no love etc. etc.). It was all Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, really.

The weather was really great as well; after having Technorati tags:


Still loving Starbucks

So I went back to the Starbucks to pay for my Gingerbread flavoured syrup. It turned out, as I checked the shelf, that it was a measly £3.99.

I put a bottle on the counter and said, "I know you'll think I'm a complete mentalist for doing this, but I inadvertedly stole one of these last week and I'd like to pay for it now."

Cue staff member number one gathering all present colleagues (there were three of them) around to hear the ridiculous backstory. Then he refused to let me pay for the bottle, saying I should have it for free for my honesty. I said my mum said I had to pay for it (true).

The girl colleague said it was incredibly unusual for people to come back with goods they hadn't paid for; "most people would just be glad to get away with it, innit" (she seemed to be of that rare breed of native British coffee shop workers).

They then offered to give me a coffee for the money I was giving them, but since the girl last time around had already given me free coffee I felt this a little ridiculous. Also I didn't really have time to sit down or carry a cup around.

In the end they gave me a voucher for a drink. I have photographic evidence of this:

Now you wouldn't get that in any kind of coffee place, would you.

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Friday, 18 November 2005

A really nice pizza

Don't know where this is coming from, but maybe it's from the domestic me.

Everyone should know how to make a great pizza from scratch. If you have a wood-fired stone oven that helps, but if not, you can still do it! It's Friday so here's how.

J's Girlfriend's Lovely Homemade Pizza

Yes, you could be eating something like this in a very short while... Well, in about 1hr 15 min, anyway

Dough
500g flour
1.5 cups of bath temperature water and semi-skimmed milk
Fresh yeast if you can get it
1/4 cups of olive oil
Good sprinkle of salt

Tomato Sauce
1 tin tomatoes
Squirt of tomato puree
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Good sprinkle of sugar
Small handfull fresh basil or 1 tbs dried
1 tbs dried oregano
2 medium wedges fresh garlic, finely chopped or crushed
Squirt of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Suggested toppings
Mexican:
Beef strips rubbed in crushed coriander, cumin seed, oregano and fresh chili
'Provence': Chicken breast strips rubbed in dried green herbs
Vegetarian: Sun dried tomatoes, parmesan shaves and rocket

And some veg; sweetcorn, red and yellow onions, peppers, mushrooms, artichokes...
And cheese. I like 1/3 grated swiss cheese and 2/3 mozzarella.


To make:
Mix dry ingredients of dough with oil in a bowl. Dig a hole in the middle.
Mix yeast in milk and pour in hole. Stir with wooden spoon or the like until it all binds together.
Knead with hands for at least ten min. This is important as it makes sure you get crispy, nicely textured pizza. Imagining the dough is someone you don't like, or someone you do like who wants a massage, helps.

Cover dough and put in sheltered, warm place for at 30-45 min until twice its size. If you are using dried yeast, follow instructions on pack.

Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a cup, and chop the toppings. Generally you want larger chunks rather than bolognesey tiny cubes. Different shapes of veg makes the pizza look nicer.

Grate and chop the cheese.

When dough is done, knead for another five min. Smear a baking sheet with olive oil, put the dough on it, and with your oily fingers flatten it to the edge. If you like stuffed crust, roll some cheese into the edges and firm down with water. The base should be about 3-5 mm thick.

Smear sauce on base, you might not need all of it. Then sprinkle cheese on and finish with other toppings.

Bake in oven on approx 200 degrees until golden and crispy. Stick a knife into the middle to check base is baked through.

Enjoy!



When I was little, home-made pizza was a treat. My mum used to make it on Saturdays, and we'd all gather in the living room around 2000 and watch 'Allo 'Allo. It was great. There was only one TV channel in our house so never any arguments.

Pizza was also one of the final things we learned to make in school when we were 11. It was, if I can say so, one of the nicer ones, up there with some kind of baked pastry that I still regret not keeping the recipe of. That was when life was about who you were going to dance with at the next party, and not about mortgages and parents getting older and siblings having drug problems.

The first time I ever invited J over to my then house, I made pizza. He was over an hour late as he'd visited at least three shops to find the exact flavour of ice cream I'd said I liked best (and although he brought three different kinds he'd failed to find the one I wanted, and brought some other gross vegan stuff that sat in our freezer for ages; even my overweight flatmate wouldn't touch it). He had the pizza cold, but still claimed to love it.

So you see, pizza leads to good things. Get thee home to bake. Personally I'll have a takeaway...

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The pleasures of alone-time

I am home alone.

J has jetted off to continental Europe for the weekend, and my flatmate is out all evening.

It is a sign that I am feeling better about my life that I actually relish this opportunity to sit on my arse, eat lots of unhealthy food (I think I'm getting fat but can't bring myself to worry) and watch DVDs. Or maybe play Playstation.

Alonetime is so lovely. Reading in bed when you're alone is better, because you always get to finish your chapter and don't need to worry about keeping someone else awake.

You can empty the hot water tank into the bath tub, stay there for hours without getting disturbed and crank the heating up to full because noone will know that you're disregarding their energy-saving schemes. And it's only for one evening.

In addition to this you can make a complete mess in the living room and kitchen, and leave the dishes till the next morning (I am assuming that Flatmate will be sufficiently inebriated on her return late at night to not notice so I can do them tomorrow morning).

It's not that I mind flat-sharing, it's just that I like having a tidy flat and a considerate flatmate, and one can't demand that without making a personal effort as payback.

Being alone, though, is only nice if you feel like it's self-enforced.

It is such a sinking feeling when you realise that you're alone in your house and there is absolutely nobody in the world who would be happy to spend time with you if you called them there and then.

It is only comfortable when you sort of know that there is stuff you could be out doing, you just choose not to.

Personally I have a list of emergency friends with whom I have a tacit agreement that we only call each other very occasionally when we have nothing better to do. With most of them it's not the case that I don't like them, but you can only have so many very close friends. And for me that number is quite low.

It's kind of like having fuckfriends that you only use for booty-calls when you're single.

Being an emergency friend to someone however means that you can't be too proud about it; you have to be sufficiently secure in yourself to not wonder why they only call you every three months (i.e. realising that this is not because you're not worthy, but because they only need you every three months).

I think this is where my flatmate fails. She will only contact people when they contact her back on a very regular basis. I think she is too insecure to realise this might not be a reflection on how much they like her, but that you simply can't be best friends with everyone.

It takes me a long time to get attached to people; because I've moved around so much I have a core of very close friends and keep most other people at a distance.

It's an energy-saving measure; getting to know someone properly from scratch takes a lot of effort and is rarely worth it unless you really click or are going to stay somewhere for a while.

I also get bored easily but have problems saying no to people, which means that if someone really likes me and I don't really like them, I'm a bit screwed.

So I've lined up lots of nice and sociable things for myself for the rest of the evening (not with emergency friends but with people I just see way too rarely), and tonight I will just go home and enjoy spending a whole glorious Friday evening in the middle of my very soft and welcoming sofa. Have a good weekend everyone!

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Thursday, 17 November 2005

I love Starbucks

I do. I am not ashamed to admit this. You bitter and joyless (and yes, idealistic) people who support lame websites like "I hate Starbucks" (no link as I don't want to encourage you), please look away now to spare yourself the pain.

Firstly, they gave me two coffees and four delicious mince pies for £2.30 yesterday. They also gave me a bottle of gingerbread flavour syrup for free... although that was an accident really. AKA stealing. I will explain.

My friend and I had been shopping and escaped to one of the lesser-known Starbucks'es in central London to sit down as everywhere else was completely cramped. She had left her switch card at home and had no cash, so the economic responsibility of keeping the multinational going rested solely on my shoulders.

As the girl rung me up (coffe, cake, crisps and above mentioned syrup) she said, "oh, and by the way, our card machine is out of order." Bugger. I admit I was a little annoyed at first that she didn't tell me upfront. She suggested I go to the cash machine next door. I relented.

Turned out however that the power of the banking Gods were conspiring against me. For various reasons I had already reached my daily withdrawal limit on my main debit card, despite having money in my account (hence trying to pay with it). My second debit card wasn't working, claiming it had been demagnetised. I could not for the life of me remember the pin code of the only credit card I was carrying. Finding cashback in the area was impossible. You need an M&S (I also like M&S). Where are then when you need them?!

So I went back to Starbucks and explained the situation. The girl behind the counter conceeded fault for not having told me upfront that they couldn't take cards, and decided to give me the food and coffee for a random £2.30. She said she unfortunately couldn't give me the syrup, and I thought that fair.

Also today, I checked my bank account, and realised that last week when I visited another Starbucks I was charged only £0.90 for a Chai latte and a cookie. Again, bargain!

Mostly though, I like Starbucks because they generally seem to have very contented and service-minded staff. Obviously there are exceptions, but I've never had comments like the ones we experienced in an independent coffe shop prior to the above-mentioned no-cash Starbucks one.

My friend and I walk in, and my friend (young, polite, inoffensive very pretty girl) asks the woman behind the counter: "Do you do flavoured coffees?"

Woman snaps back: "No, we just do fantastic coffee." Not with an inviting smile, but with a very stern face. What she really meant to say was: "You're insulting my establishment, fuck off and go to Starbucks". So we did.

Also they always refill paper in the toilets when you ask, they are non-smoking and collect books for children and have fairtrade coffee which you can always have brewed for you to order.

I know they are an evil multinational, but I like to think that on a scale of evilness, they are a step below companies that knowingly use sweatshops. I know that's only in my head, but they have good service which is hard to come by in London. People smile in there. I like it.

J of course deeply disapproves of Starbucks on economic and ethical grounds. But he will only buy Nike trainers so I don't feel he has much of a case.



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Parents

I don't think J's mum likes me much.

The first time she ever met me, she served grilled pork chops.

Which would have been fine, except she had got it in her head before our visit that I was Muslim. Which I'm not, but still. Nice.

Apparently she used to like his previous girlfriend, who could best be described as a remarkably inoffensive English Rose. I guess hearing about me must have been quite a shock, being 'Muslim' and all that.

It's not that I don't get on with his mum. It would be hard to not get on with her in the sense having arguments, because she dominates every conversation to the extent where it is impossible to get an argumentative word in. J has of course managed to overcome this obstacle, but he does have thirty-odd years of experience and practise.

She isn't the kind of mother who tries to make her son side with her in front of the girlfriend (that kind truly is the worst), it's more that she is so self-absorbed that it's hard for her to take an interest in anyone who doesn't agree with her 100% on everything.

The problem with J's mother is mainly that it's impossible to please her. This goes not only for partners of offspring but for the offspring themselves. J has constantly been told what a bad son he is. He's got a job, but it's not the job she'd like him to have. And now a girlfriend, of whom she is as I said also on some level disapproving (maybe she didn't realise Muslims generally don't go with pork, but I doubt it, she's very clever).

Sometimes I think she just is still in shock to find that her children grew up beyond 12 and out of her sphere of influence. It must be tough.

I don't see why parents have to be so difficult. My mother, to her credit, has tried hard to like all the people I've brought home, and has probably had her heart broken more times than myself when they just disappeared off her radar after the relationship ended. But most parents aren't like that.

Are parents difficult because they don't trust their children to make their own choices, or is it just a jealousy thing? Is this something I'll only know if I ever have children of my own?

The best potential in-laws I've ever had was when I was about 15. They were more supportive of my career choices than my own parents ever were, and still want me to "come home and marry their son" (this I know because my dad ran into one of them recently, and was told so in no uncertain terms).

I actually suspect they didn't want me to marry him as much as they just wanted to swap me for him altogether. My temperament and interests just suited them better. This might be worrying for my then boyfriend, but it worked for me. I loved them.

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Wednesday, 16 November 2005

How to get laid

According to me, that is. The mean-spirited, simplistic-minded teenager in me just returned with a vengeance.

I just came across this blog which was complaining about not getting laid. So here it goes. It's mean-spirited and completely disregards the suffering of those who genuinely can't get laid, but it's late and my crisps just got stuck in the vending machine.

  1. The 'Poor Me' trick. Involves sitting alone in a posh bar, staring into a half-full drink with puppy-dog eyes. It helps if you have brown eyes and are reasonably looking but slightly dishevelled. Initiate conversation with woman. She will ask you why you feel down. Bingo. You're more or less there.
  2. Always stay in touch with and on good terms with exes. If you were any good, chances are one of them will always be available when you are.
  3. Be intelligent, and think that the person you're coming on to is intelligent. Even if they're not. Woman will think you think she's clever but that you're not threatened by this, which says all manner of nice things about you. You're in.
  4. Be clean and stay fit. Easier than it sounds.
  5. Be confident.
  6. Don't ever, ever moan to potential sex partners about not getting any. They will, perhaps subconsciously, but still; automatically think there's a reason for this and cross you off the list. You will never get back on it.
  7. Make her feel special. Don't talk about yourself. This has been repeated often, but somehow some men don't get it. They are the same ones who don't get any, by the way.
  8. Numbers. Propose enough people and someone will say yes.
  9. Don't stare at her with puppy-dog eyes. Especially don't stare at her breasts with puppy-dog eyes. Stare at the beer. See point 1 for further instructions.
  10. Try to sleep with them when you have a girlfriend. The fact that you find them irresistible even when having a partner is flattering and means they're more likely to help you out during a dry spell later. I realise this requires having a partner, but if you've already done all the above things, you should by now.

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Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Auroratime

Or at least it would be if I was anywhere which wasn't completely light polluted. And too far south.

Celebrated J's recent birthday with a small get-together last night. It turned out to be even smaller than originally planned when one of his supposedly better friends cancelled via SMS(!) about ten minutes after he was actually meant to be there.

What's with people? I am convinced this is a British thing. People are too 'polite' to just say 'well, I might make it if I can be bothered, but then again I might not' to your face, so they wait till the last second and then cancel. I just think it's rude.

Not to worry really though, it didn't spoil the evening. There was food and drink and cake and singing just like God intended for birthdays (or so I imagine; at least He doesn't seem to have punished anyone for adopting those heathen rituals for his son's geburtsdag). A lovely evening which even a mini-therapy session with Flatmate at the end didn't ruin.

But it is Auroratime. That time of the year when people start feeling the SAD creeping in and you drive into the sunset on the motorway even at three in the afternoon. When you start questioning if you actually have any friends (which is why the SMS cancelling is even more inconsiderate this time of year) and really wish you were five years old again so it would only mean more hot chocolate in the evenings and getting lifts to school cause it's too cold to walk.

I kind of like winter. It smells nice. I used to think November was the most pointless of months, but now I see it as a good time to buy all your Christmas presents and general self-indulgence in the form of pampering and excessive eating.

But I miss my friends. One of them was asking on our blog, what are you waiting for, meaning why aren't you moving home.

And of course we all know that I'm waiting for J. But even if he decides he does love me afterall (let's face it, he'd be stupid not to), I can't expect him to decamp home.

It's a tough choice, my home or him. Too tough to be taken at Auroratime. I think I'll leave that to another post.

Perfect Hot Chocolate for One

1 Cup full-fat milk
1 Tbs Green & Black's cocoa
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbs Sugar
4 Tbs water

Heat water, sugar and cocoa over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves.
Add milk and vanilla extract.
Heat to desired temperature (at least 70 degrees celsius), but do not boil.
Pour in mug.

Best enjoyed wearing scarf and slippers in front of open fireplace.

Enjoy!

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Monday, 14 November 2005

Depression II

My flatmate is depressed. We were chatting this morning, and she was saying things like "if I tell people I'm not OK it will bring everyone down" (overinflated sense of how her state of mind effects others) and "I just don't have anything to say to anyone" and "my life is crap". Charming.

It is really depressing to live with someone who is depressed. In fact it can make you depressed. I am debating whether or not I have the right to feel irritated because she's so self-pitying, or if I should just straight down pity her because she is obivously having a very hard time. She is waiting for CBT, but obviously there's quite a long wait.

Her circumstances haven't been the easiest, but then again no worse than for a lot of other people in London; not much money, boring job, hard to meet people, not much social life because everyone is so busy.

There are aspects of her personality which I think make her feel worse. She is quite insecure, which is obviously the biggest culprit. But also she is quite proud and doesn't like accepting help or advice from people.

In addition she is quite rigid in her ways and will often decline offers of activities etc. saying it's just not her, or she probably won't like them. I think this makes it harder for her to break out of negative behavioural patterns, but of course I couldn't tell her this without causing a nervous breakdown.

Am I turning into the flatmate from hell? Right now I just want J to change his mind and want to live with me so I can get out. Hearing someone slam the door to cry in the shower every single day becomes quite wearing.

A happier note to brighten up this post; it was recently J's birthday, and I stayed up until midnight on the night before to give him his present.

On one hand he is really difficult with gifts because he doesn't like people doing things for him, which in his head includes people buying him stuff.

On the other hand though, he is just like a kid. It is obvious that despite himself, he loves getting nice gifts. I mean, who doesn't. Unless they're a blase, spoilt brat, that is.

He unwrapped his gifts and was blissfully happy for at least five minutes. One of them I'd sourced for free, and he was especially pleased with that one as he could cherish it without feeling guilty about me buying him something. It seems to have had quite a lasting effect on his mood which is really nice.

So at least I have one relatively happy bunny to come home to later.

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Sunday, 13 November 2005

Nightswimming

J and I went for a swim yesterday in our local pool, which was really very lovely. London suffers from a lack of public pools, and it was really just lucky that I ended up living relatively near one.

I was completely knackered from sleep deprivation, and really had to struggle with myself to drag my ass down the street, but once I was there it was great. I did 50 laps easily. It is probably the only sport in the world where I can to some extent outperform J (playstation doesn't count here) but that's not really why I like it.



Since he is less efficient than I am, I would end up doing a lap, and on coming back to the shallow end he would be standing there waiting for a little kiss.

Kissing is good. People don't do it enough. Although the guard woman disagreed, and waggled her finger at us, despite there being absolutely no tongue involved.

That is what life should be like. Being able to swim to the deep end, making an inelegant u-turn and coming back to safe ground to someone who can't wait to kiss you.

I still remember the first time J and I kissed. We'd spent a lot of time together already, and I was just dying to kiss him, but I didn't want to make the first move. Not because I'm that kind of girl, but because we'd talked the talk and he told me he didn't want a relationship, so I was just trying to be polite.

We were sitting in the sofa at my house, chatting. We'd spent the whole evening together, we'd gone for a walk huddled up together underneath a huge golf umbrella, the weather was awful, but it just registered, I didn't really notice properly. He smelt fantastic, he always does; not in a perfumey way, just of... him.

Although I had firmly told myself I would not kiss him, there was something he said that made me laugh, I leaned over to play-punch him, and suddenly we were kissing.

It was that kind of kiss that makes your knees buckle and your heart shoot up, that's a clicee I know but it's for a reason. If I hadn't been sitting down already, I would probably have sustained fall injuries.

Later that evening he said "I really wanted to kiss you, I just couldn't figure out how it was going to happen". Kissing is one of his favourite things, and he is really good at it. When we kiss, it is as if he's another, more confident person who has no doubts as to what he wants or how he is going to get it.

That was almost a year ago now. He was quite upset afterwards, said he knew it would lead to no good and that I would end up getting hurt.

I said wait and see, next Christmas we'll be spending together for real, and not in painful phone conversations.

And it looks like I was right. But maybe I need to kiss him when we meet up this afternoon just to check.

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Saturday, 12 November 2005

More tears

After my glorious four hours of sleep yesterday, I was not really in any fit state for emotional conversation.

Then on the other hand, nor was I in a fit state to control my urge to shake J and go "make up your mind you commitment phobic twat" properly.

I managed to strike a golden middle way between a proper aggressive outburst and tactful silence. I merely put it to J that I need to know when he's planning to make up his mind as to whether he wants us to stay together, that waiting around keeps me up at night.

And as usual, I've ended up thinking he really doesn't know. He is just a bit tumbleweed of confusion. Which is reassuring for me, because I can tell myself he really does love me, he just doesn't know it and even if he did, he wouldn't know how to handle it.

"I am not just here waiting for someone to come around that I know that I love," he says. "I'm here waiting to find out that I love you the way I think I should."

Can't really argue with that.

We had some dinner, and I was just switching the Playstation on while he was sitting in the sofa mentally preparing to do the dishes.

"I'm sorry I'm so awful to you," he suddenly said, and I realised he was crying, in his own almost tearless, very quiet way.

In a way it's heartbreaking, but then again being with him is heartbreaking in itself sometimes, and just then it didn't make that much difference. I just wanted to comfort him.

It is difficult; every time I think I can't take it anymore we have one of these strangely reassuring conversations and I think I can go on for a little longer.

I fear that one day it really will be enough, that I really am not patient enough for this. I hope that day is far away.

If nothing else; after some make-up happenings in bed, at least I slept like a log last night.

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Friday, 11 November 2005

The value of sleep

I didn't sleep very much last night. J was happily away last night for work purposes, so it wasn't his fault, directly.

Loss of sleep was cause by a variety of factors, listed below in order of importance.

I went to bed really early, but because I also got up quite late yesterday it took me a while to go to sleep.

About three hours later, I woke because I needed to go to the toilet. In itself not that unusual as I seem to have a ridiculously small bladder. When I came out of the bathroom I couldn't find anything to dry my freshly laundered hands on as I washed all the towels yesterday. Slightly annoying and woke me up more than usual.

Then, just as I got back to bed, I heard something like a very large overhead lawnmower outside my house. Yep, a police chopper. It came in and out of vision for about 40 min before settling happily right above my house. It stayed there for the best part of half an hour.

I heard this morning there'd been a lot of police vans rushing to my nextdoor drug riddled neighbourhood (the people in my street stick to weed which doesn't warrant that kind of operation, it seems). Police chopper, hover above that area, please!!

So obviously by the time the chopper actually left, I'd finished several chapters of a book and was so annoyed I couldn't go back to sleep.

Eventually I would probably normally have passed out, but I started thinking about J and I. I generally haven't been sleeping very well lately, even when he's there, which I usually find reassuring.

So I got to thinking, which I in my sleep deprived state now think might have been right, that my bad sleep is due to high stress levels from my relationship with J.

I was thinking I've had it. He's coming home with me for Christmas. His birthday present just arrived from my mum. She is already prepared to unconditionally love him as much as I do (albeit in a different way). I don't want to do this to her, to let her get to know this really lovely person who is then never to be seen again. She still misses my other boyfriends, in most cases more than I do.

I was imagining the conversation in my head, how I'd give him an ultimatum, tell him that he'll have to make up his mind.

It's of course not just for my mother's sake, I don't think I personally can take it anymore. I know that in his own imperfect way he does love me. I am starting to think he just isn't ready for this, for anything resembling a proper relationship. And that's what I want.

I don't think I'll go through with the ultimatum. Of course, now that I've slept another hour and had my honeynut cheerios, I feel slightly better. But I will have to say something. There might be tears.

I just hope that for once the answer can be what I want it to be.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Living together

I am now officially, if temporarily, living with J. I don't know if anyone reading this blog has been awaiting this especially eagerly, but I certainly have!

His clothes are in my closets, his washing is drying in my lounge and most importantly he is at the moment safely snuggled up in my bed, I'd like to say waiting for me, but he's most likely reading the Guardian.



What is it about living together that makes it so attractive?

Partly with him I think it is insecurity; I see a 12 month contract and a big deposit as a commitment, it means he wouldn't be able to get away for that whole period. From personal experience I can say that you think it over a couple of more times before leaving a live-in relationship.

But more than that, I just like it when he's around. I like it when I wake up in the middle of the night after a bad dream and he's there. I like to always have someone to come home to, cook for, watch crap TV with.

I like to have someone who asks if I have any washing to be done, or if the toilet needs cleaned. There's nothing like the feeling you get when you've felt bad about not scrubbing the bathtub for weeks, and without having said anything you just come home one day and it's sparkly clean.

I like to have someone who offers to go out and get me chocolate when I've had a bad day at work.

And someone who sleeps for an extra ten minutes while I make a fried breakfast. Or just bring some cereal back to bed along with the paper.

Someone who really likes to start with the sports section so I can read both the broadsheet and the G2 without receiving resentful looks.

And of course, I like being around someone who disagrees with me, that I can argue with and then make up with, someone who challenges me as a person and genuinely disagrees with me and therefore offers me an alternative perspective on dishwashing, international politics, hoovering frequency, financial planning and folding of socks.

In short, I just really like living together. But not just with anyone, I like living with J. Surely this must be a good sign? I've realised for the past week or so that I'm still as much in love with him now as I was before we started going out properly. That must mean something. I can only hope that it means something for him too.

I plan to behave extremely well for the next month so he'll realise his life would be a lot more well fed and nicely cuddled if he lived with me permanently.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Sad, sad people

And for once I'm not referring to J here.

I went for a jog in the park, and as I was stretching afterwards (no inappropriate bending over, just unattractively red-faced and sweaty leaning on brick walls) the following conversation took place.

SCENE1 - Park / Exterior / Daytime

ALEX (Early 20s, dark hair, kitted out in full football gear including ball, heavy southern European accent. Not entirely unattractive): (Casually, in passing) Do you know what time it is?

J'S GF (Wearing black jazzpants and very sweaty washed out top, stretching left hamstring): Don't know, but there's a clock on top of that building over there.

ALEX: (Smiles and nods, making no attempt to look at said building)

(A beat)

ALEX: So, how old are you?

J's GF (Stretching right hamstring): 27. Bet that's older than you thought.

(A beat)

ALEX: So, how long have you lived in London?

J's GF: Over three years now.

(A beat)

ALEX: I'm Alex. What's your name?

J's GF (stretching right calf): It's J's GF.

(A beat)

ALEX: Can I have your phone number?

J's GF: I don't think my boyfriend would appreciate it if I gave out my number to completely random men.
(Gets ready to leave, starts walking away)
Then again, it's always worth asking, I guess... Keep up the good work!

ALEX: Bye!

END SCENE

OMG! What's with people? Do men really get that desperate? I'm not a headturner at best, but honestly, after a 4k run especially not.

So I lied to Alex; J wouldn't really give a toss who I gave my number to, especially since we both know I would never dream of calling anyone with chat-up lines that poor. "What time is it?" Err, do you come here often? Arrgh!

Also, the reason he didn't reply when I said it's always worth a try was clearly (judging from his facial expression) that he didn't understand what I was saying. I am thinking he was trying to chat someone up having completed lesson 2 in English as a 2nd language 101.

What makes certain men think that you're really so interested that you'd give them your nummber if you haven't made any attempt to find out anything about them? Why did Alex, for instance, fail to notice that I didn't return any of his questions?

Now you could argue that I led him on by answering his questions. But I'm quite open and polite and I don't want to become one of those people in London who refuse to acknowledge strangers even if they appear to be bleeding to death because one of their limbs have just been cut off. I thought at first that he genuinely wondered what time it was. I was wearing a long-sleeved top and could have been wearing a watch.

It's just sad. I just keep thinking that people like that will never manage to get laid. And then when they do, they won't use a condom because they don't know how to pronounce it, and then their partner will get pregnant and produce more people who think that "so, how long have you been in London" constitutes intelligent chat.

The men who hang out outside my local Muslim centre, on the other hand. When I walk past, they nod at me, I smile back and then they say "how are you today", entirely without staring at my chest.

I don't know if the nice Muslim men ever work since they always hang out there when I am going to work, but most importantly they're polite. After a few weeks of friendly "how are you"'s, I might be ripe for a "pity about the weather today". Or maybe even a subtle "excuse me, do you have the time?".

Anyway.

I am reassured by the following quiz that I'm not completely inhumane.


You scored as Utilitarianism. Your life is guided by the principles of Utilitarianism: You seek the greatest good for the greatest number.


"The said truth is that it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong."

--Jeremy Bentham


?Whenever the general disposition of the people is such, that each individual regards those only of his interests which are selfish, and does not dwell on, or concern himself for, his share of the general interest, in such a state of things, good government is impossible.?

--John Stuart Mill


Utilitarianism

80%

Existentialism

60%

Justice (Fairness)

55%

Hedonism

50%

Divine Command

40%

Apathy

40%

Kantianism

25%

Strong Egoism

10%

Nihilism

0%

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with QuizFarm.com


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Monday, 7 November 2005

Multiple personalities

A nice weekend afterall.

But first, let me do some girlie complaining. Because I felt in a good mood today, I decided to wear a skirt to work rather than the usual 'jeans frilled at the bottom/trainers no longer fit for running in' ensemble.

I paired a tweed skirt with a white t-shirt. Then I put a coat on and a black pashmina. D'oh! I now look like a sad woman who rubs up against her cats a lot before going into work. Not really the effect I was looking for!

Spent y'day at the V&A which was really lovely. They have these interactive learning stations for each time period, and my friend and I got quite hooked on the interactive quizzes, trying to get 10 out of 10.

Speeking of geekdom displayed to the public. The machines are probably mostly meant for kids and all. But now we know that Palladianism only lasted for about 30 years in the UK and that Rococo items often are asymmetrical. How we have hitherto lived without knowing this I don't know.

Anyway. So S and I had a really good time.

Even though S and I don't see each other that often, she is really one of my favourite people in London. She's outgoing, straightforward, intelligent and funny. When she's not with her boyfriend that is.

When S's boyfriend is around, she really is a whole different person. She becomes a girlfriend with a capital G. Now I know that she in general wouldn't mind being a lunching lady with lots of kids and a really tidy house, but when he's not there, this doesn't keep her from being fun.

When he's there, it's as if she acts the way she thinks maximises her chances of achieving the above.

This means never making any lewd jokes, constantly saying things like "well, we think that [fill in random coupledom here], don't we" while looking at her boyfriend, and never contradicting any of the often ridiculous things he says, but nodding supportingly.

I do think they are good together and they truly love each other, which is more than I can say for my own relationship. However, I don't see how you can live with another person if you have to hide something that's quite a big part of your personality all the time.

S is not the only person I know who is like this. Other friends of mine, including several guys, suffer from the same syndrome. I like to think I don't.

Although I make an effort not to offend J or his friends as I'm quite outspoken, I think he'll just have to live with the parts of me he doesn't agree with.

You could maybe argue that S is fun when her boyfriend isn't there precisely because she saves all her 'best' bits for her girlfriends. But let me tell you that before they lived together she was always that much fun.

She used to be quite a wild girl, which of course he has no idea about. I don't want her to be a wild girl as I realise we're no longer 21, but I wish she wouldn't let him tell her not to eat big portions of food cause it's not womanly and she could get fat.

Do people compartmentalise their lives and personality deliberately, or is it one of these things where you wake up and you've done it and then you don't know how to undo it? And if so, could any of my true friends out there please kick my shin very hard if I ever utter the "we..., don't we" thing in public.

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Sunday, 6 November 2005

Sunday mornings

Sunday mornings are, I think, one of the main reasons to be in a relationship.

I used to quite like going to church when I was a kid, but since I moved to the UK, I've not been. There's too much talking about how being gay is a sin, and there's no female bishops. It's a bit much.

So Sundays these days are all free to lounge in the park and celebrate each other, which is surely what believing in God is mostly about anyway; loving each other I mean. Some days, when the weather is nice, I like to think He prefers us being out in the nature he created, rather than in churches we've built ourselves.

Anyway, though, God or not, Sundays are better with a boyfriend.

The other morning, J was staying over and for once neither of us were in a rush for anything.

He brought me honey cheerios and apple pie in bed, and we did the Guardian crossword. He likes to be secretary as I'm too impulsive which always leads to crossing out of a lot of words. Plus, he can tell without counting that "counterbalance" has 14 letters.

Handy, cause it gives me two hands to eat with.

And the day is usually yours on a Sunday. You can watch five episodes of 24, or go for a walk, or ride the bus all day.

And all those time-wasting things are better with a partner. If it's a Partner with a capital P, chances are you wake up with them for a cuddle, and there's no need to trek to the nearest tube station, or spend time on the phone arranging around 'planned engineering works'.

Sometimes, of course, it's nice to spend the Sunday curled up alone in a chair while reading a book, not talking to anyone.

But even that is actually better if you're getting a foot rub at the same time.

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Saturday, 5 November 2005

Walking the plank

Sometimes with J I feel like I'm walking along a very narrow plank surrounded by X-Files style fog.

I don't know whether the plank is a bridge, or the kind that pirates used to make prisoners jump off of.



Obviously I'm hoping for the bridge option, but it's hard to tell.

Especially since now when I turn around to look back, I can't really tell where I came from. Was it a ship? Was it dry land? Obviously if it was the bank of a river I'd have a better shot than if it turned out to be a ship.

It's funny how being in a relationship can be so all-consuming. I didn't think I'd ever be that kind of girl, but yesterday I was sitting all alone at home and feeling really lonely because both J and my flatmate are away this weekend.

Then, when I checked my email today, there was a message from my friend S from a few days ago, asking if I wanted to hang out this weekend.

The reason I didn't call her was that she only ever wants to spend time with me if her boyfriend is busy doing other stuff. I suspect she didn't call me either for the same reason. Cringe! I'm the kind of girl who only calls her friends when her boyfriend is away. What's wrong with me? OK, so I've seen three other friends on separate occasions this week, but that was also when J was busy.

S and I are both making up for our stupidity by going to one of London's fabulous galleries tomorrow, probably eating cake and discussing our boyfriends a lot less than you'd think in the process.

Have I turned into that kind of girl? I partly have I guess since I didn't even call her, despite J being away. Everyone else has slipped away a little on my radar.

Maybe it will help now that J is moving closer to me. He is looking at a house literally ten minutes from mine; having him there would be great. Although I would ideally live with him, of course.

Oh my god. Get me on the IKEA mailing list and burn my University diploma now.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Going away

J is going away this weekend with his group of friends. They go away every year for a weekend of fun, and this year they're venturing abroad for the first time.

Can I just say that I actually don't feel apprehensive about this at all. I'd love to think this reflects well on me for being such a non-possessive girlfriend, but in fact I think it reflects well on him.

I don't think I've ever met such a trustworthy person. You could argue that it is because he's to insecure to come on to another woman or to proceed should someone jump on him, but in reality he is just a really sound guy. I really don't think he would cheat on me.

Here I go again! I've never thought that about anyone before. Indeed I've been with guys where it was mutually agreed we'd both be free to do our things on the side and that was fine.

Am I putting my head in a guillotine by trusting someone? Or is it just one of those things that are required for a relationship to move forwards?

Since I can safely and anonymously beat my own drum in this blog I would however like to add that I'm not a very jealous person to begin with. With cheating I kind of figure that if it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and being completely paranoid about it won't really make a difference sadly.

When I say make a difference I mean to the actuall act happening as well as to the pain afterwards.

Finding out that someone you're intimate with has been with someone else is incredibly painful. Personally I get angry, but the anger is for the most part overshadowed by excruciating sheer pain. I just want to curl up into a little ball and die.

But back to J. I hope he has a wonderful weekend. But he better remember to call me.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Life footprints

Why is it that even after several years, my ex boyfriend's name comes into my head on a regular basis? It has fortunately stopped doing so during sex (for a few years I was reduced to only moaning 'baby' and similar silly things for fear of uttering the wrong name to a new partner) but keeps cropping up in other uncomfortable ways.

For instance, if I want to ask J to take out the trash, U's name is sometimes this close to rolling off my tongue.

J did at some point accidentally call me by his ex's name so I have the moral upper hand should it ever happen for real, but for obvious reasons I hope it won't.

I have been thinking about this lately. I didn't even ever love U, I stayed with him for complicated reasons, a major one of which was guilt. How do you tell someone who's a perfectly nice guy and even quite good in bed that you just don't love them?

Maybe I just wasn't ready to settle down, but when I look back at it, I know we just weren't right for each other. He saw what he wanted to see, and although it was perhaps partly my own fault for not spelling out my personality more clearly and more often, I think it's fair to say that he would never have known me very well.

In fact, one of the final straws for me eventually mustering up the courage to dump him was my realisation that after several years of cohabitation I barely knew what he was really like. Or maybe he was just shallow.

Anyway, despite that I'm now in a loving (from my side) relationship with someone who understands me better than U ever could, his shadow falls over my relationship.

I keep thinking of him and feeling pain, a vague sense of failure and guilt. Not pain by way of craving, wanting him back, but just a deep seated wish that none of what happened between us should really have taken place.

Except for maybe the first few months of frantic, new-partner sex.

How can I rid myself of this? I still remember other people I've been with, but maybe because we haven't parted in such a painful way, I remember them fondly, even the ones who dumped me.

Or maybe it's because I'm no longer in touch with U, despite him being my most recent ex before J. I just feel I have nothing to say to him. I always felt that, and when we finally broke up it was just a relief not to have to scramble for things to say anymore.

Now I'm left wondering what it must be like for people who get divorced after decades with a partner they didn't really love, after sticking it out for the kids or the money.

It's like U has left a footprint on me that I can't get rid of, like one of those musty smells in a damp house that you just can't air out.

If anyone has developed an effective detergent for a similar ailment through personal experience, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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