Tuesday, 31 January 2006

How it all began I

I've never really described how the relationship between J and I started.

I would love to say started in a really dramatic, foot-sweeping unconventional but romantic way, but unfortunately that's not the case.

A coat stand and a faulty railway started it all
I used to work in an office which has lots of medium sized open office spaces centered around a corridor.

All rooms have windows facing the corridor, and my desk just so happened to be near the open area at the end where people hang their coats in the morning.

There was a severe lack of hot men in that office; I went to the gym one day with a colleague and she decided to ask me the schoolgirl question of 'if you had to kiss one guy from the office, who would it be'. I can honestly say I didn't know, but when pressed on the issue, and to shut her up as I didn't have the breath to maintain a conversation while we were both on a treadmill, I named J.

He had started in a neighbouring department about six months earlier. In the beginning I thought he was a temp, as they often use temps there rather than hiring permanent staff, so I ignored him for as long as I could, and only introduced myself to him when I realised he was actually there for good and I'd been quite rude so far.

He was ridiculously boringly dressed (which he still is largely) so I wouldn't have noticed him at all if it weren't for the fact that he always put his coat up in the area by my desk. But when he was wearing his calf-length black coat (wool and cashmere as I later found out) he actually looked quite swanky when swanning past on the other side of the window.

So that's why I named him.

"Do you think he has a girlfriend?" my colleague asked.

I didn't know because I hadn't bothered finding out, but looking back I realise I had already been scoping him out for months.

About a week after my colleague's shrewd interrogation (she admitted later that she was convinced I had a crush on J but was in denial) Railtrack threw a joker in my direction by scheduling engineering just on the weekend when I was going away on a mini-break.

It turned out J was going to the same place, and he was driving, and the words just fell out of my mouth as I asked him if he could give me a lift. He said yes.

When he picked me up in the morning, he seemed a little nervous, but we got on really well, chatted in the car and I was wondering how I could establish whether or not he was single (I failed on this and many other occasions).

I accused him of being middle class and spoilt (the car being a gift from his mum), he accused me of being rude (having asked someone I barely knew to drive me half way across the country).

He dropped me off a lot further out of his way than he would have had to, and at night as I found myself naked with someone else (the casual main reason for the weekend break), I realised I did have a crush on J.

A serious one.

To the extent where sex with my weekend break date meant nothing.

I would love to say that the rest is history, but this was merely the beginning. To be continued...

Monday, 30 January 2006

My top 5 least sexy moments ever

I am not talking the mildly embarrassing and sometimes off-putting stuff that always happens during sex; fanny farts, wet spots you have to sleep in and occasional whiffs of body odour from various body parts.

Nor am I talking about ill-advised things people do, such as take off their boxer shorts before their white tennis socks. Mind you, that one is almost up there. Definitely top ten at least. I don't know what it is about men in only their socks. It's just wrong.

I am talking the kind of experience that leaves you mentally scarred for years, to the extent that each time you think of them you find yourself unable to contemplate sex for at least a couple of hours afterwards.

So, in order of ascending awfulness:

My least sexy experiences ever...

5. The first time a boy came in my mouth.
I loved him, I loved sucking on him, but oh dear, how unprepared I was for that enormous shot of phlegm-like, funny tasting substance being thrusted deep into my throat.

I've since learned to live with it, and positively like it, but that first time... I lay still until he passed out (which fortunately didn't take long), then went to the bathroom and washed my mouth out like a good Catholic girl would. I imagine.

Nuff said.

4. Watching George Galloway pretending to be a cat on CBB
I don't watch the programme itself, but now he's been ejected, I've been treated to the clip repeatedly on the news.

News24. Please. Just. Don't. Watching Kennedy resign was bad enough.

If this keeps happening, I think I'll just opt for that programme about UK club girls showing their spaniel-ear boobs on Men and Motors, please. It's just that much more sexy.

3. My middle aged, overweight, smelly overbearing boss feeling my leg up
...and then claiming he'd done nothing wrong. Even the mention of his name makes me feel ill even though this was years ago.

2. The nude photoshoot I did with an ex boyfriend
Not having received an 'E' at A-level art to deter him, Ex thought he was somewhat of a photographing artiste [said with French accent]. I think he sensed our relationship wouldn't last, and thinking I was the woman of his dreams, he wanted to take some pictures.

I didn't see any reason to deny him as I've never been ashamed of my body, and I knew he was after 'aesthetically pleasing nudity' rather than hardcore stuff.

So I showed up in the freezing cold studio, helped rig the lights and spread the props he'd told me to bring on a blanket. Nothing onerous, just some scarves and items of clothing.

And then he wanted me to pose. "Well, you'll have to tell me what to do," I said, never having gotten the chance to model (why, you ask? Well so do I).

"Whatever makes you feel comfortable," he said.

Right. I'm not a model or an actress; I can't fake sensuality if I don't feel any. And looking at him there, a mediocre artist oblivious to his mediocrity, acting like he was all big-time, was just the biggest turn-off ever.

I look at the photos now, and I look beautiful, but there is no warmth in them, no sensuality or eroticism. I'm like a nude plastic sculpture or doll.

It got worse. He himself seemed to find this quite arousing and talked me into sex on the floor, which was uncomfortable, freezing cold and so on. I don't know why I agreed to it, although calling it 'barely consensual sex' would be wrong, because I didn't mind at all. I just didn't see / feel the point.

As revenge for this completely unarousing episode, I talked him into letting me take some photos of him as well. He was so insecure about his body he made me blow him first so he would look bigger.

Never again. He was and probably is an absolutely lovely guy who was just wrong for me, and if ever there was an episode which should have made me realise this earlier than I did, this one is pretty high on the list.

1. The time I tried to unsuccessfully bring off a guy by hand that I really didn't want to be naked with in the first place
None beyond, none anywhere near touching the sheer awfulness of this one.

Well, being decent teenagers we weren't properly naked to begin with, I still was wearing underpants, and we'd been snogging for a while before I worked my way to his nether regions.

He was average sized but very hard and there was nothing spectacular; he'd been ogling me for ages and I felt I'd let him on, and never wanting to be a tease figured I could get away with just a hand job.

I kept at it for ages, and looking back I realise shamefully that my technique might have left something to be wanted. Add to this his nervousness; he really liked me, the poor guy. I could tell he was straining to cum, groaning with pleasure but also with pain cause it was taking so long.

After what seemed ages, he panted in my ear, "you've almost got it now..." Those words still ring in my ear now. The feeling of humiliation, of failure, shame, was so immense.

This basically kept me from distributing hand jobs, more than the absolute minimum required in foreplay without seeming like a complete blowjob slut, for years until I was trained by gay ex (who of course also had things to say about handling cum in your mouth. Gay ex, men around the world are unknowingly indebted to you).

"Almost got it". Eurrrghh... If only J knew just how upsetting I found this, he would never need to claim having a headache again, he could just say those words.

Yes, I know, it's a wonder I'm not mentally scarred for life. I'm a fighter, me.

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Decision time :: HNT 2

Arriving for the Half-Nekkid action? Click here to skip the yada-yada...

I woke really early this morning and felt wide awake. I called J, who told me to go back to sleep not to freak out about any pending decision making until I had talked to the TV station manager about The Job Offer.

And of course I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't. Then I realised that due to time zone differences etc. it was completely acceptable to call him at stupid o'clock British time. So I went for the phone.

It was funny, as soon as he answered and I said who I was, I could tell he remembered me, even though we only met once about three years ago.

"The key question is," he said, "how soon could you get out of the job you're doing now?"

And clearly even if I were to resign from my present job, we'd be talking at least weeks before I'd be available. He needed someone sooner than that.

I was off the hook. For now.

So we agreed I should be in touch again before the summer; maybe I could save up some holiday and go to stay with my parents to work for him then for a short period to try it out.

I was so relieved. I realised there and then that I don't really want to go back, not even for a superb job. If I went back, it would be becaues it seemed like the sensible thing to do; I wouldn't be following my heart.

So I slipped back under the covers (having managed to make this potentially life-changing call without actually ever leaving bed) and slept like a baby for another three and a half hours.

And then I locked myself out of my flat, and J had to come rescue me with my flatmate's keys. But that's a whole other story.

Oh, and it's HNT today... I realise it's early, but here's my contribution.

Can you believe I received an 'E' in A-level art? Me neither
It's a 'body landscape', or at least I like to call it that because it sounds artsy.

It's also significant for today because it's taken in said bed where important phone calls were made earlier on.

It's funny; I actually get quite aroused taking pictures of myself naked. In fact sufficiently aroused enough to have a solo orgasm this morning for lack boyfriend present.

I never thought I'd feel that way about seeing myself naked in pictures; I did a nude photo session with an ex once, and it was possibly the least sexy thing I've ever experienced.

Although we also experimented with a film camera which was a lot more fun. Probably because it made me feel I wasn't really in on the sex act, only watching it.

In fact, this is all so interesting that you should all come back for my next post, which will be about the least sexy things I've ever experienced. Cringgge. Any heat and moistness from my solo HNT session hereby gone just by thinking of that.

You know you don't want to miss it. Hit that blogrolling button before it's too late.

And then I'll give J a polaroid camera for Valentines so the fun can really start.

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Job offer

I've been offered a job. As a TV news reporter. Yes, really.

A few years back, I visited the local station where I come from, mostly for fun and just to see what the people there were like.

And now, a few days ago, I received an email, offering me a temporary job as a reporter. Just like that. I did get on really well with the editor, but to be honest I'd forgotten all about it ages ago.

What to do?

"...and Mrs. Smith's cat just had a record 11 kittens!"

I had planned to finish my contract where I work now, and then start training as a psychologist. Partly because I have been thinking I can't really feel satisfied in a job where I'm not directly helping people, partly because this gives me the freedom to settle where ever I want in the future.

I always used to think I wanted to get into broadcasting, but lately that dream has slipped away, like I guess dreams often do when you've been out of university for a while and you realise you'd actually quite like to be able to buy a house someday.

For a while now I've felt like something had to happen to help me decide what I want to do with my life. This could be it.

You might think I should just take the job. But it's not straightforward.

First of all, there's the contract I'm in. I feel a sense of obligation; I know my department is quite short-staffed, and I've given my word that I'll be here for a number of months yet, although I could always resign despite this. They've treated me well, and I know if I wanted to take the reporter job I'd have to resign as soon as possible.

Then there's job security. The reporter job is only for a few months, and who knows if there is a chance of staying on afterwards.

And of course, lastly, but also most importantly, there's J.

If I took this job I'd have to move, far away, too far to travel to each week, or even each month. I am reluctant to admit it, but the first thing I thought of when I received the email was J.

We're not the kind of couple that could work away from each other if we didn't know when or if we could be together again.

I would never ask him to give up his job, which he loves, to come with me somewhere where he's very unlikely to find anything remotely as interesting to do.

As soon as I could after getting the job offer, I mentioned it to J. We were in the kitchen, I was cooking dinner and he arrived at my house straight from work. He still smelt of the outdoors, bike oil on his jeans, as he strode into the kitchen and asked me how my day had been at work.

"I've been offered a TV reporter job," I said.

"But that's..." He was obviously as surprised as I had been. "Do you mind if I ask how?"

I explained the circumstances, and he thought about it for a litte while, then said "you should do whatever is best for you".

He didn't ask me to stay with him, to not move to another country, to think about us.

Part of me wanted him to throw his arms around me and beg me not to go.

But another part of me knows that if he did that, he would only make the decision harder for me.

I'd like to think that if I knew for sure that he loves me and that we're forever, I would instantly know what was the right thing to do. But that is not the case.

I've never thought of myself as the kind of woman who would unquestioningly give up her carreer to be with a man, even if he is the love of my life.

Maybe this shows that I'm spoilt with affection and naive, but I don't think I could keep myself from resenting someone who had kept me from pursuing my personal goals, even if it was my own choice to stay with them.

Yet I am asking myself why J didn't seem in the least upset that I might be moving. Maybe he's in denial. That was three days ago, and he hasn't mentioned it again.

I am calling the editor who sent me the email tomorrow afternoon, to see how long the contract is for, and what my opportunities are.

Most of me is convinced I can't take it, but a small part of me is crying because it thinks I'm turning down a really good opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do.

Watch this space.

No pun intended.

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Just say hi

Why do people ignore cleaners?

It's not that they're necessarily outright rude to them, but they sort of look right through the cleaners as if they're not there. And they never say thanks or smile at them.

Read the Guardian article here

The cleaners where I work, without exception immigrants with quite poor English (I hear this when they ask me if I want them to clean my desk while I'm there, or come back later), I don't know what company they're with, but I bet they don't get paid much.

There's especially one girl, she's probably around 19 or 20, looks South American, possible Brazilian.

She's always really friendly, always smiles and says hi, does her job thoroughly and swiftly, and you can just tell that she's most likely way to clever to be a cleaner, but for whatever reason she's stuck doing it.

It really bothers me when I see her struggling to get a bin underneath someone's desk, and they can't even be arsed to move out of the way or say thanks. Is this a product of the class society in Britain? Or of sheer laziness; being polite to the cleaner doesn't bring any tangible benefits so people can't be bothered?

I've been a cleaner, a chamber maid, a dishwasher, and I know that these are unforgiving and tough jobs.

So why don't people seem to see them? I never hear anyone else saying thanks when they get their bin emptied or their desk dusted. Yes, these people are only doing their job, but so are bus drivers and taxi drivers, and you always say thanks to them.

Maybe people are ashamed that they have other people doing these things for them. At least that's how I feel. I hope I never end up having a nanny, I don't know how I'd live with myself.

Or do they just think cleaners are beneath them in some way? In a way I think every office worker should be assigned to cleaning for about two hours a week, just to remind them it is a job they should appreciate is being done for them.

This is of course partly why I love J. He also finds these things uncomfortable, like most people do when they're 17, but then they forget as soon as they're out of university.

A few days ago, he showed me this article from the Guardian about how the company who does admin for Westminster Council suddenly has announced that they are moving 400 support staff to somewhere very remote in Scotland.

Now I have nothing against Scotland, but think about it. Moving from London to a town that has about 5,000 inhabitants, uprooting your children from their schools against their will, just so that the company can make even more money off your back (because of course offices are a tad bit cheaper up there).

J saw this in the paper and actually saved it so he could show it to me. "I just find that so disgusting," he says. And I just think it's lovely that someone over 30 can still afford to be sincerely upset about things like that.

I know it's not much, I feel powerless that this is all I can come up with, but I'll do my very small bit by smiling at the young cleaner when she comes past with the hoover later on.

10 great things about working nights

  1. Sleeping in as late as you want without needing to make excuses
  2. Having the house all to yourself all day
  3. Never having to pay peak fares on the tube
  4. Bringing in Chinese takeaway early dinner deals for lunch
  5. Sneakily watching crap overnight TV at work
  6. Seeing the cleaning staff at work, and getting a chance to say thanks for them keeping the place in order
  7. Driving home at 0545 in the morning and trying to hit seagulls who think they are safe eating scraps of food off the road
  8. Looking into houses on your way home and seeing people get up and ready to face the scrum on the tube, when your bus was almost empty and only took 10 minutes
  9. Making a lovely breakfast for your boyfriend before he wakes and having it on the balcony as the sun is coming up
  10. Sleeping diagonally across the whole double bedbecause your partner's already gone to work

Monday, 23 January 2006

Love me a little

I think J has actually been thinking about how it feels to say I love you whilst not having a hard-on.

We've not seen each other today as we were both busy; it's the first day this year that we haven't actually seen each other at all.

The way to a woman's heart is via small pieces of potato
It is strange how J seems to doubt his feelings when we don't see each other.

He does in general tend to pathologically overanalyse things, and has told me that he for instance thinks that the fact that he doesn't constantly (and I mean constantly) think about me when we're apart, probably means he doesn't love me.

"When you love someone, I always imagined they should be with you constantly", he says.

And the romantic part of me agrees; if you really love some one, in a sense they are always with you.

But the practical part of me knows that this is not really how it is. Sometimes, and especially if you, like J, are a person who feels like he always has too much on his plate as it is, there just isn't time for constant contemplation on the peachy softness of your loved one's skin and so on.

And he asks me how I can be so categorical about loving him. "It seems always that people just 'know'. How can they just know?"

Well, that would be "because they don't pathologically question every single twitch in their chest".

And because they weren't subjected to a mentalist mother who was all double messagey in an emotionally bullying way.

But mostly the former.

But I don't often have the heart to tell him this, because he looks at me with those big brown eyes and I can tell that it is really hurting him that he doesn't think he feels what he thinks he should feel.

We've had a lot of conversations about what love is. Personally I still stick to the onion theory. If you keep thinking that 'this feels good, but this isn't what love really is', you'll end up with two empty hands and a lot of tears. Love isn't something at the core of your day-to-day feelings, it is the sum of all of them, and hopefully a sum which is greater than its parts.

Yesterday morning, I woke as he slipped back under the covers after an early visit to the toilet. He pulled me in for a cuddle, and all I knew was that it was really warm and comfortable, that I belong next to him, under the covers.

And I said, "I love you. Lots. And you love me a little."

And he said, "yes, I do think that's the case."

Sunday, 22 January 2006

All we have is Brokeback Mountain

In the song 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', the singer finds consolation in the fact that he and his girlfriend both kind of liked the same film.

Well, I can now say the same! After dragging J to numerous films which I thought were great, and he thought were awful (I've already briefly gone over which ones here), we finally went to see Brokeback Mountain.

Nothing like a sham marriage to brighten up the day
In case you haven't already had the pleasure of this all else than gay romp, not to worry as there aren't any real spoilers coming up.

In the way of the capital, or urban Britain in general, we enjoyed the film in a completely characterless multiplex cinema in North London.

It is coincidentally one of my favourite places for cinema hopping (where you pay for one film and then rush to another theatre at random at the end of the first show and watch at least two films in a row for the price of the first).

And it was indeed a lovely film. My grandfather emigrated to the US and lived there for over 20 years, in landscapes such as those portrayed by Ang Lee. I like horses. I like Jake Gyllenthaal. What's not to like.

As I observed J in the theatre towards the end of the film, he looked very stern. This usually means he's really tired and struggling to stay awake, so I snuggled up to his arm and didn't say anything.

As the credits rolled, I got up, gathered my belongings and was about to leave when I saw that my love was still seated firmly in his chair.

"Are you OK," I asked, as I saw he looked a little pale when the lights came on.

"Did you not think that was really sad," he said.

Well, yes, it was sad, but come on.

"I had to really concentrate not to sob out loud for at least the last third," J said.

We continued the trend started by the multiplex by getting a cheap meal at a nearby Weatherspoon's, and it took him about half an hour before he could actually string together a proper sentence not consisting of the words "but it's so unfair!".

"But that was in the 60s that they met, right," he then said to comfort himself.

I felt I couldn't not mention "Boys Don't Cry" and the fact that they still appear to enjoy killing gay people for fun in some parts of the US.

J is a man who worries that his feelings are 'less' than those of other people, an idea which is no doubt a product of his mother's relentless indoctrination over the years.

He is, lest we forget, an awful son, who has no sentiment for people other than himself. And whatever feelings he would express would always be "wrong", "bad" or "selfish" in his mother's eyes.

She does, in all seriousness, still put his perceived lack of emotional responsiveness down to his lack of interest in the great romantic novels of Dostojevskiy and the like.

So obviously a very perceptive and psychologically aware woman.

Yet he cries at the end of Woody Allen's Manhattan.

No, not just at the first watch, but every time he watches it.

And at the end of every other soppy drama. Now including Brokeback Mountain.

If we don't get a wonderful life together, at least we'll have Brokeback Mountain.

Sorry, J's mum, but I think Hollywood and I clearly win this one.

Friday, 20 January 2006

Nice day for a white wedding

J and I are going to a wedding tomorrow.

I love weddings. All kinds of weddings. I used to work in catering so I've probably been to more than most.

Having that said, there are two kinds of weddings.

The kind that makes you really want to have the whole shebang; both families, church, ridiculous dress, all the relatives and all your friends who can walk or crawl to the reception.

And the kind who makes you think that the best way is probably to sneak to Vegas and come back married, or possibly not marry at all.

J's flatmate remarked the other day that no wedding is complete without a fight. I've known of weddings where the bride got punched, and one where the bride's father attacked the groom and had to be taken away by police.

She is stuck in an impossible situation where her family is deeply religious and her fiancee is as deeply atheist.

Her mother, who sees this as her own last chance for the huge church wedding she never got herself, swears she'll disown her daughter if she gets married outside the church.

By 'disown' I suspect she means 'withdraw the offer to put in a deposit for a flat'.

I can't even begin to say how glad I am that it's not me. How do you choose between your family and the family you're hoping to start yourself?

Part of me thinks both parties are being ludicrous; if you really believe in God, then surely you know He will forgive your daughter for getting married in a heathen way, as God alone is the judge of sinners. And the atheist; if you don't believe in God, why do you care if you're being blasphemic?

But on the other hand, I think that if I were getting married to someone non-Christian, I wouldn't be able to bring myself to denounce my faith on my wedding day.

And a devout atheist feels as strongly about his views as those adhering to more traditional ideas of religion.

Flatmate's fiancee simply says he doesn't want to lie on his wedding day by swearing to bring up his children in the Catholic faith (which he certainly isn't intending to do).

Fortunately, for tomorrow's wedding, the respective families are suitably matched for piety.

I am hoping for good food and drink, a good party and a reminder for J that relationships do last, even between very different people.

And if not, I'm sure there'll be at least one good fist fight.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Say it anyway

It's early. Really early.

The time of day when you're never really awake unless you have very young children. And even then I suspect you would feel a bit like I do now, zombified and a little hungry for no apparent reason.

It's been hard to sleep lately. Last weekend, I lay awake for ages before drifting off. J fell asleep before me as he often does, legs twitching as he dreams about football, breath strangely short.

I was thinking about things. I would probably have blogged about it sooner, but the fire and everything kind of got in the way.

I was afraid I am getting tired of all this; tired of someone claiming not to love me although they act as if they do, tired of having to be the one who hopes and believes, tired of being scared it might all end at any time.

And strangely, although this kind of anxiety usually only comes over me when I'm naked in bed and ready to sleep, it has crept up on me while I'm sitting here in front of the screen; possibly because my brain is half asleep anyway; I bet if you scanned it there wouldn't be much beta activity.

The morning after I woke up tired, and I couldn't find it in myself to get out of bed. I just wanted to rub my nose on J's smooth upper arm, play with his chest hair while he kissed my head so I didn't have to think that he doesn't love me.

Because he says he doesn't, but he acts as if he does. That's what makes it so difficult. If I thought he really didn't love me, I'd be out the door in a second.

But I think he does. I don't think you can hold someone and kiss them like that if you don't love them.

And he treats me like a princess, he laughs at my jokes, is unable to concentrate on things I say because he finds me so cute, he lavishes attention on my every body part, even the ones I hate myself.

And he looks at me in that way, that way you only look at someone if you love them, where your eyes go wide because it almost hurts to look them in the eyes.

"Should we get up?" he said, "I'll make us some breakfast."

And suddenly all my thoughts from overnight came back like a flashflood.

"I'm not getting out of bed until you decide to stay with me for good," I said.

And then I started crying. I couldn't stop. J just held me and comforted me and kissed my eyes and begged me not to cry anymore. But I still did.

I said I was scared. Scared that I'll start giving up and doing the sensible thing, which would be to cut off my own feelings for the sake of emotional protection.

"Say you love me," I said, "even if you don't mean it. I want to see what it sounds like."

"I love you," he said, and he looked straight at me.

Strangely, I felt nothing at that very moment.

"How did it feel," I said.

"I'll have to think about it when I don't have a semi-erection," he said.

Fighting still makes you horny...

Or in other words, the thinking about it, that'll be 'never'.

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Late night phone calls

J just called me to say goodnight. We won't be seeing each other as I'm at work still and he's getting up really early.

He was very sweet, telling me about football results and saying he just wanted to hear my voice before going to bed.

The early part of the relationship between J and I was based on late-night phone calls.

Because we started living in different cities almost as soon as we (that is, I) started thinking about becoming an item, we've probably spent almost as long together on the phone as in person.

It's strange, having phone conversations with someone you love.

While you're talking to them, you seem to miss them less, but as soon as they're gone, you miss them even more than you did before you spoke.

I remember being on the phone to another boyfriend, a smoker; he always used to smoke while he was on the phone, I could hear him inhale while I was speaking, but never exhale. And I could see his hands in my head, the way they always held the cigarette, the way his lips would purse around it.

J doesn't smoke, he used to go outside his house when we were talking, for privacy. And I honestly think he used to tell me things he wouldn't have told me had we been face to face.

I could always hear cars passing in the street, I could tell from his voice what he was wearing (comfortable => lambswool sweather; shivering voice => washed-out white T-shirt).

And of course, we'd both get ridiculously horny on the phone, despite never actually discussing sex as such.

J used to say at the end of conversations that he didn't know how to say goodbye, that conversations like that have to be ended with a cuddle, and everything else is inadequate.

It's true. Yet I'm thinking that long period of being forced to talk rather than shag to get to know each other has helped make our relationship what it is.

I'm just hoping that us moving apart again won't have the opposite effect.

Monday, 16 January 2006

Today's brush with death

Ever heard the one about "always have a fire extinguisher to hand?" Well, that saying is for a reason.

I woke at 0700 this morning as J's flatmates were getting ready for work, J woke too and went to the bathroom. As we were about to drift back to sleep, I smelt smoke. A very plasticky kind of smell, like melting binbags or something.

The balcony after the drama was over

"What's that smell?" I said.

"It's probably just burnt toast," J said.

I knew it wasn't, but I was also really tired, so just went back to sleep.

At 0820, I was brutally awoken again by a very loud noise (ie. fire alarm) and a very hysterical flatmate who said "there's a fire in the kitchen, we have to get out".

We ran down the stairs, me dressed flatteringly in J's dressing gown (who says I only give useless presents) and wrapped in a blanket.

There were sirens. The flatmate had gone from light hysteria to silent shock. Fire engines came. They even extended the ladder on one of them. There were more firefighters than I've ever seen at once in real life.

It turned out the fire wasn't very big, and they put it out in about five minutes.

The fire had been started by other flatmate who was having a ciggie on the balcony, next to building materials left from a recent refurbishment. Apparently something had caught fire, they'd poured a bucket of water over it and thought it was out, but clearly not.

Coincidentally it was his birthday today. His girlfriend (once recovered from the shock) suggested he celebrate by giving up smoking.

The drama. J took me out for lunch to make up for us having missed out on morning cuddles, and then I spent the rest of the morning playing playstation while we waited for their landlord to come and assess the damage.

We were in hindsight lucky. Hysterical Flatmate could have gone to work earlier, and who knows if we would have woken when we did if she had. They live on the top floor, so there was no other balcony above theirs to catch fire. The kitchen, which is now very sooty, was the only room in the flat not to be done over in the past few weeks.

This doesn't hide the fact that it could have gone really badly. The flat has no fire extinguisher, no fire escape. Jumping down a handful of floors to land on concrete doesn't sound a very tempting idea.

And I urge all my dear readers to
a) give up smoking
b) get a fire extinguisher
c) not store flammables where they have their cigarette breaks

I am of course hoping this brush with death will make J realise that he has to get a move on and make up his mind, because suddenly it could be too late.

Especially since he immediately set to clean up the mess when the firefighters had left, as opposed to the firestarting birthday boy who spent the morning playing Pro Evolution Soccer 5. Husband material, I'm telling you.

Friday, 13 January 2006

The first cut is the deepest

I was just chatting to my German friend (the sensible one) who is debating what to do about this guy she has a crush on but only sees twice a year when she visits her brother.

J and I are getting along so well at the moment that there's no obsessing to do.

So I will digress slightly and share the story of the first man who took so long to decide I was right for him, that when he did, I was no longer available.

He wasn't the first man I slept with, but he was the first one I slept with that I loved.

I'll try to make it short. However, knowing me it probably won't be, so I've made it into a mini-novel for the sake of readability. Click the headings to read.

Conveniently, the headings also sum the story up if you can't be bothered but kind of would like to know.

My first love

Chapter 1 - Just friends (Yes, I really thought that was possible, even with a man who made my legs buckle just by sitting across from me at a chess board -I was 17 and a virgin for God's sake)

Chapter 2 - You can run, but you can't really (We never got it together. I said once that I'd come back for him when I was 27, but I haven't.)

It is strange how the 'firsts' make such a deep impact.

My first crush

The first boy I was ever in love with coincidentally had the same name as the guy in the mini-novel above. I was six, he was ten.

We met on holiday. He carried me around on his back for a whole week; I think as an eldest child I just relished the attention. I cried my eyes out when we had to leave.

Our parents exchanged addresses, but both parties lost the note in the mess that is travel. When I was 14, we met them again by coincidence, it was the first year my crush had stayed at home instead of coming along. But his kid brother had grown up to be a hottie! Sometimes I still wonder what he's like now.

My first boyfriend

The first boyfriend I had was a rebound from the above-mentioned. We met in pre-school, and by a stroke of luck also ended up in the same group in primary school.

We were together for a whopping six months at the age of ten, although the union consisted of hanging out playing board games (they had the same carpet in their house as we did I remember) and occasionally holding hands.

After the summer he dumped me for a 14 (!!) year old girl. Who was I to compete? Women loved him, they always have.

When I was 14, the same boy gave me my first proper kiss.

Always when we run into each other, we buy each other drinks (this is inevitably in a bar in our home town), and he still looks very handsome, although I haven't seen him for a few years now.

When I was 15 I started going out with a boy who is still one of my best friends; his parents are still hoping we'll get married. It wouldn't be a bad option; he's got what it takes but I think being with him is too challenging as he can go for days on end without speaking.

And then I met the first man I ever loved. Nobody between him and J really made an impact. Although I did love some of them, even most of them (Gay Ex always used to say I loved too many people too much), they never felt like home.

Gay Ex, for instance, I was mad about him and he read my mind, but we both knew it was temporary for obvious reasons.

And without the illusion of forever, I don't think a relationship can ever last, or a love feel like home.

Sometimes, although a lot less often than I used to, I still wonder what my life would be like if I was with the first man who made me feel incomplete without him.

Maybe I'd just be bored with him, because clearly someone stays a lot more interesting if you never really have to live with them.

But a small part of me still lives in that parallell universe where I'm his girlfriend and his son is my child.

Chapter 1 | Just Friends

The first time we met was probably at school. I can't remember it. He was very quiet, shy and didn't know very many people.

I was 15, he wasn't cool. Nor was I, but I had friends who were.

He never spoke, although he was the cleverest of them all. He dressed badly and listened to Bob Dylan and hated Metallica.

Those things mattered more than I was willing to admit at the time.

Those things might have been the downfall of the us that never really was.

Now there's a lesson I'll be teaching my female children, whilst they refuse to listen, of course.

Then one day, he strode across the waxed linoleum with the most bizarre haircut I'd ever seen; a result of his best friend being bored the night before. It involved shaved patches.

His slightly more extroverted friend took to my friend M, not in a sexual way, but I think they both saw each other as the lesser of evils in an especially dire class.

One day, Extroverted Friend and The Boy With the Ridiculous Hair showed up at M's house and we hung out.

I sat next to The Boy as we watched TV, and just sitting there, his brown eyes falling into mine, made me feel like I was cheating in my 15-year-old way on my much better dressed, better looking boyfriend.

We all became friends. Strangely, no relationship ever ensued from that group of hormone-addled, undersexed people, us extroverted, socially proliferous girls and a bunch of spotty, geeky boys.

With a somewhat disintegrating family and parents who were rarely there, The Boy's house swiftly became our main hangout.

I didn't want to admit I was in love with him, but I know now that I was from that first day in front of the TV. He wasn't right and didn't fit into my life.

But he had something special, everyone noticed. He had the eyes of a 70-year old in his 16-year old face below the lopsided hair (he shunned hairdressers so it bore traces of his friend's creativity for months afterwards). The other boys would always agree with him, although he never bossed anyone around.

Everyone wanted to be his favourite, but he never favoured anyone. As he was introduced to the school's social scene through us, girls started appearing and falling for him left right and centre. Even if I'd wanted to compete, I might have lost out. Maybe I was scared of losing.

As we got older, we started going into town at the weekends, to go to bars and clubs. The Boy didn't really like going out, although he drank plenty at home.

So I used to go over to his house after the bars closed, knock on his window and stay over in his bed, resting my head between his shoulder blades in my sleep. We used to kiss, cling onto each other, waiting for something to happen, and it never did.

Even when he had other girlfriends, he would look at me in that certain way, and I would wonder why he didn't want me. "I don't want to be the first", he said. Why, I still don't know.

One night, in a bar, he licked the Irish cream off my upper lip and I pushed him away. "I'm not your girlfriend," I said. He said nothing and just kissed me. I can't imagine he kissed his girlfriend like that.

In our platonic group of friends, this was our secret. Boys thought I was an ice queen. In reality I was offering myself to The Boy on a plate, and accepted, but neither of us knew how to handle it from there. We didn't fit into each other's daytime lives in a way.

We saw each other every day, went to see crap matinees, ate in cheap restaurants, stayed up all night discussing literature.

One time he stayed with me for days on end when my parents were away, but nobody knew. On the last evening, another of our friends made a comment as to how nobody ever seemed to be good enough for me.

"I just don't want to belong to anyone," I said, and I thought I meant it.

The Boy looked at me. "Not even me?" he said so everyone could hear it. As our eyes met, I knew I would lie to him, but I didn't think it mattered.

A split second passed, we were the only ones to notice, and I wanted it to be that way.

"Not even you," I said. And our other friend laughed at his own joke and said "how could you even think a girl like that would want someone like you."

The Boy met my eyes behind his back and I knew I'd deliberately broken his heart. But I was scared of what I was feeling.

When I was 19, I'd had it with my home town, with staying at home, with everything. I was so bored. So I left the country.

He wrote me. Long, meandering letters about his boring job, his dysfunctional family, never saying he missed me, although I think maybe he did a little.

And I got rid of my virginity and came home after six months and he made love to me, it was New Year's Eve or very early on New Year's Day, and waking that morning I knew he mattered. But I said nothing. And my flight left the next morning.

Maybe that was what opened my eyes up. I thought, even with my very limited experience, that the earth doesn't move like that with just anyone. I realised why I never bothered to look twice at anyone else, why I hadn't for years.

So I came home and told him I'd decided I was in love with him. But it was too late.

I went to university, brought home a new boyfriend, and in the early morning hours while my boyfriend was asleep in my bed across the room, The Boy and I were sitting next to each other on the sofa, and he leaned in and whispered in my ear, begging me for one more kiss.

But I couldn't. From now on, it's all or nothing, I said.

And nothing is what I got.

Chapter 2 | Payback time

Three years passed. The Boy He finally realised he wasn't responsible for keeping his family together, so left town to go to university.

One summer I came home and he was no longer a boy, more of a Man.

Although he had always had those very old eyes, so it wasn't relly a shock; more like his body trying to catch up with his mind.

He apologised for breaking my heart. I said it was OK. I thought I was over him.

I moved to a different country for my studies, and met a man there that I didn't love. Not at all. When I opened my eyes in the morning, I would see The Man's face on the next pillow, between me and my boyfriend.

But it was tempting to have sex on tap, and the knowledge that I would be leaving the country was enough to keep me in the relationship for the sake of convenience. And my boyfriend loved me. Having always been the one who loved more, I relished it.

I was slowly being eroded away by keeping my true feelings secret, never telling my friends I didn't love my boyfriend or why.

But I broke up with him before I left, and felt so light. As the cold summer was turning to fall, I returned home, and after nine months I knew that it was time, that I had to tell him again, that maybe things had changed.

And they had. I came home, went out to meet my friends, and he wasn't there. When I asked, they told me he had met a girl, another casual partner. The day before my arrival, she had told him she was pregnant.

Being a devout Christian as well as nearing in on 30, she refused to have an abortion. So he did the honorable thing and moved in with her.

Everyone kept telling me how adorable they were, how much in love, and indeed they did have a beautiful son.

But he was still looking at me. I knew he didn't love her. But he had spent most of his life keeping his family together, and felt the same obligation towards this perfectly nice girl.

And for a while it looked like it was working.

Dazed and heartbroken, I yielded to my foreign ex's pleas to take him back, to allow him to move to where I lived and be with me.

When I came home next time and he was there, I told him, "I still think of you".

"I think of you too," he said. "Often."

To my boyfriend he said to take good care of me.

And there were moments of happiness, moments where I didn't remember, I expanded them to days, weeks. I closed my heart.

Two years later, I brought foreign ex with me home in the summer, and was told that The Man and the mother of his son had amicably parted, to the best of both of them.

A friend told me hushedly and in amazement that apparently he'd never really loved her.

As if I didn't know.

We met at a party. He was drunk, I was slightly more sober.

We talked; I'd forgotten what it was like to talk to someone who just instinctively understands you, living at the time with a man who was forever asking "what do you mean by that".

"When will I ever get to do what I want?" he asked.

He held my hand and looked me straight in the eye, and was that 16 year old boy I had first met, but at the same time looking older than ever.

"Do you ever think we'll end up together?"

"Yes," I said. "I do. But it won't be until later. Hopefully not too late."

"I still think of you," he said.

"It was always you."

"I think of you too," I said. "But you don't just have yourself to think about. And neither do I."

And I realised that really was it, it was too late, and maybe I had been lying when I said we'd eventually get to be together.

I was so upset I had to go and shag my boyfriend in the bathroom to take the edge off the guilt, the sense of loss that I felt.

It only worked for the duration of the sex, in a brightly lit, white-tiled toilet.

I had waited for almost ten years to hear him say those words. But all it did for me that evening was hammer home the painful difference between love and sex.

We were young and stupid and thought that feelings like that grow on trees, we looked for them everywhere, and when we didn't find them, we kept looking instead of returning to each other.

He's with a girl now that he's known for almost as long as he's known me, and I think he loves her.

And I certainly love J.

But the pieces of my heart I allowed to be cut out by the boy with the old eyes are still out there somewhere.

Thursday, 12 January 2006

The smell of victory - HNT1

I know that my calling is normally to introduce my boyfriends to carefree, high quality blow jobs, but on this one occasion I feel it is also to help him break free from oversized sweathers and shapeless corduroys (yuk!).

This morning, after cuddles and a quickie* in bed, J and I went shopping to catch the tail end of the sales.

Jeans; every man should have them
When we first met, he did all the grocery shopping for a pre-Christmas party I was throwing (mainly to lure him to my house, and it worked!) and in return, all he asked was that I accompany him on a shopping trip.

It has taken over a year for him to get his act together and actually go shopping. A rare thanks to his usually horrible mum who donated the cash to tip him over the edge.

He hasn't bought any new clothes apart from underwear, socks and white t-shirts since I've known him, so this was I guess an occasion of which I failed to fully appreciate the importance until I was in the middle of it.

About two years ago now he also lost a lot of weight (funny how that seems to happen when men come out of relationships), so all his clothes are too big.

He hasn't bought a pair of jeans for ten years.

TEN YEARS! And he is only in his early thirties.

I steered him stealthily towards the jeans section in H&M, and although I still can't believe it, he actually bought a pair. As they were quite cheap, not the most superb pair I've seen, but they make his arse and legs look amazing. I'm so pleased with the progress.

Personally, I think it's important to dress well to feel good; if you dress in oversized clothes you'll feel slobby and it will impact your confidence. Say what you want about What Not to Wear, but I think Trinny & Suzannah have a point, just look at the men's faces when they get their wives back at the end of each show.

All fingers crossed he'll get lots of compliments when he strides into work looking a dream, to encourage him to go shopping more. I haven't had that much fun in a clothes shop for ages. Funny how they'll always allow women into the men's dressing rooms but not the other way around...

Oh, and the therapist? He left her a message and she hasn't called back yet.

But at any rate, I think that when you're allowed a say on what your man wears, it means you're pretty much in there.

I've told him over lunch that we have to find a flat for May at the latest, as my parents are coming to visit and I'd like them to stay with us.

He just said "OK then".

So is the cheque in the mail? Not quite, but I think it's being written out as we speak.

I am celebrating this by joining the cult of HNT, mostly inspired by my favourite J's Girlfriend Cheerleader WKDY.

Unfortunately it's a little unadventurous despite me being in a really good mood, but hey people, I'm at work!!

* I am thinking this might have been what set us up for such good shopping

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

My therapist said

Well, my therapist said nothing, because I don't have one.

J is calling his therapist today, although they haven't formally seen each other for almost a year, to ask if she thinks it's a good idea that we move in together.

Seeing it as her last known words were "hang onto this relationship at all cost", I have always been of the impression that her and I are on the same team, so to speak.

It's a little sad, of course. When I want to justify my actions, I call a handfull of friends, carefully picked for the kind of response I want (down-to-earth careful advice: K in Germany; happy-go-lucky you can do it advice: M from home) and then do exactly as I'm told as I already knew what they'd say before I called them.

Sometimes, or probably most times, I think we only ever ask advice to confirm what we have already in our mind decided.

It could be just me, but I don't think it's a coincidence that my male friends always ask me if I think they should dump their girlfriends, which I invariably do, as they present competition for their time and in most cases hate me.

But sometimes there are situations where I genuinely don't know what to do. Before breaking up with my previous boyfriend, which I concede I did want to, I consulted about a thousand people who all said different things.

In the end, it was my friend H who was the make it or break it (as it were). She said to remember that relationships are always really hard work, and that I had to decide if I was going through a discontented phase or if this was genuinely how I felt.

And that was exactly the distinction I needed to make in my mind to be able to make the move that was right for me.

Additionally, my masseur said that which ever choice you make becomes the only option once it's chosen. Bless him.

And I am thinking how incredibly hard it must be for J to decide what it is he wants without the access to an emotional sounding board. I am his sounding board, but clearly I'm going to be slightly biased in issues pertaining to our relationship.

He has friends, but they are people he plays football with, not people he dissects personal traumas with.

I know this is the case for many men who lack female friends, but I think especially for him, as he's very shy.

So I really don't mind if he asks his therapist.

Because I'm sure she'll agree with me...

Coincidentally, if you want to read some quite amusing poetry by Hal Sirowitz, who wrote the poetry collection after which this post is named (I should use the word 'eponymous' I think but am unsure of which preposition to apply), click here.

Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Match Point

Yesterday afternoon we went to see the new Woody Allen film.

J is a massive Woody Allen fan (he cries every time he watches Manhattan), and after forcing him through horrors like 'the Grudge' (it had SMG in it!) and 'Serenity' (it had Whedon's name on it!) I think it's only fair that I subject myself to some complete unfunny celluloid neuroticism every once in a while.
I need to stop snogging married men in the rain / in random English countryside locations

And the cinema visit paid off! Even J thought the film was crap. In fact, I gave it more credit than he did.

Click here to jump safely past it.

The film is as you might know about a sort of love triangle / quadrangle, and about how luck pays a large part in how our lives turn out.

It was one of these films where it's so much like life that it becomes completely trivial. People cheat on their wives. Their lovers get pregnant. That's just how it is. There is, as I see it, no reason to record this fact on film if you're not going to add anything to it.

Scarlett Johanson plays Nola, a young but failing US actress who has moved to London, where she becomes engaged to upperclass playboy Tom. Tom's sister falls in love with Joaquin Phoenix's tennis trainer Chris, who again falls in love with Nola.

In short, Chris marries the sister Chloe, Tom dumps Nola, Nola gets pregnant and starts making a fuss. Although Chris loves neither her nor his wife, he doesn't want to lose his upper-crust lifestyle, so shoots Nola and gets away with it through a string of increasingly unlikely circumstances, illustrated by Britain's finest comedy actors, falling over each other to be in a Woody Allen film.

So far, so boring. There are a couple of scenes with great potential, but the film essensially falls down on the points I always think Allen's films fail at; don't worry, they're too many to list here.

What I wanted to get at was the character of Nola. Nola describes herself as "sexy" as opposed to her sister, who is "classically beautiful".

She says she's the kind of woman that men think has a certain something. When she is asked if she does, she says "noone asked for their money back yet."

Although in the beginning she, like Chris, is only preoccupied with the money and high-life of the family she hopes to marry into, once she gets pregnant she wants to build a life with Chris, who comes to realise he is only in lust with her.

Then she gets shot.

It's melodramatic and ridiculous, but I think I'm like Nola. Men always seem to think I've got a certain something. I think it's because I make them feel good about themselves.

Then they feel kind of threatened, and go off to marry someone extremely boring and unchallenging.

Interestingly, J remarked after the film that he was ashamed to say so, but Chloe (nice but dull wife of Chris) really reminded him of his upper-middle-class ex.

So the question is, how can Nola hang on to what she has? She is a dreamer, who refuses to give up what she is passionate about for what would be sensible. She's the film's only smoker, which probably is meant to mean something.

She oozes sensuality in a fashion men find addictive, yet when they have her, they don't really know what to do with her.

While in no way claiming to have Scarlett Johanson's lips, I know what this is like. I started out in life as someone's lover, and I've never really considered that this is significantly different than being someone's girlfriend.

Maybe all I need in my relationship is a bit of luck.

I need the tennis ball to hit the top of the net and wobble over to the other side in a sure-fire point-scoring way.

And Overactiveimagination's Dawn is right in her comments yesterday; I should stop thinking of myself as Nola, because I don't want to be her anymore.

Although she does dress like a goddamn goddess.

Sunday, 8 January 2006

Fall for the underdog

When I got out of bed this morning, J was still asleep.

When I came from the shower he started calling my name in half-sleep, wanting a cuddle, which I had time for at the expense of breakfast.

Chin up, Gerrard...
At least I've dismissed the theory that Liverpool never score when I watch
Last night when he put me to bed, he suddenly said with surprise in his voice that it was lovely to come home to me, that with me everything was easy.

I'm almost worried things are going too well.

I think I have an underdog fetish.

J got back from football yesterday afternoon. Despite the opponents apparently shouting "watch that one [J, ed. note]; he's their matchmaker" in Cockney, the whole team sucked ass and would probably be unable to "score in a brothel" as one ex-flatmate of mine would have put it.

They'd lost 7-0, but this was swiftly forgotten as Liverpool pummelled Luton 4-3 in the last half of the FA cup game which we watched over the dinner he'd sacrificed the first half to make (the sweetie -and he says he doesn't love me!).

The strange thing was, I really wanted Luton to win.

Not just a little, a lot. Much more than I usually care in a given match.

Now you might think I'm somehow projecting some gripe against J onto the pitch by rooting for his team's opponent, but that's not it.

I wanted Luton to win because they're the underdog. They have to play in a league called 'the Championship', for God's sake. The name wouldn't be so bad if it actually was the top league, but since it's not, kudos to the marketeers who came up with it and shame on the audience that puts up with this stupidity.

We checked the result in the middle of the first half, and Liverpool were up one. As I switched over for the second half, I could hear someone was scoring, and was utterly surprised to see that not only was it a Luton player, he was the second one to do so.

I watched, transfixed, (J watched in pain) as Luton increased their lead to 3-1.

There was a passion and hunger in their play which was completely absent in Liverpool's overpaid and overcelebrated side.

I obviously had to keep this new team afiliation to myself as to not appear the worst girlfriend in the world, but when the tide turned and someone (probably Gerrard) settled the score for Liverpool, I was genuinely disappointed.

Now this would be OK if it applied to sports only. But this reflects how I live my life. I always fall for the underdog.

A frighteningly large proportion of my exes (if not all of them) have either had mental health problems, drinking issues and/or difficult family backgrounds.

I think this is due to a strange insecurity in me; although I know I'm a capable and loyal partner, I'm not sure if others see it so.

So I go for people who clearly need me, where I can contribute something tangible to their life. I have had several people tell me they wouldn't be here today if I hadn't pulled them out of the hole they were in.

Also it might be boredom. Everything else in my life has come so easily (except, sadly, money) that I seem to challenge myself on the relationship front just to have something to do.

And then, when their life is better and self esteem higher, they leave and find someone who's stupider than them and prettier than me.

Or I just get fed up with the mothering role and leave them behind.

J easily fits into this pattern; he's clearly a very confused man from a ridiculously dysfunctional family.

But his life has improved so much over the past year that I'm getting a little worried it might come to an end all of a sudden.

However, he is also funny, intelligent, generous, handsome and as ridiculously sexy as his family is dysfunctional.

How often do you get that in one package?

I have to hang on to this one.

Even when he's not the underdog anymore.

Saturday, 7 January 2006

Flatmates from hell

I think I'm getting to old to live with people I'm not shagging.

A couple of years ago, my friend Thomas observed that anyone you live with but you're not sexually involved with, will become annoying in less than a year.

How incredibly true. Especially wise since it was spoken by a man who's lived with his girlfriend since he was 20 (they are now married and give me hope for the existence of harmonious and everlasting love. I don't think it's a coincidence that they're also among my most intelligent friends).

Because if you, like most people, fail to stick it out with your first live-in parner, these are the kinds of things that might befall you... I'm not saying that your sex partner is by default not a mentalist, but chances are you will at least be spared living with someone you don't know at all who then turns out to be a mentalist.

5 True stories of "The Flatmate From Hell"
(as experienced by me and friends)
  1. A is living in shared student accommodation. Within a year, one person has attempted suicide and another breaks down with psychosis in the kitchen.

  2. One of my ex flatmates used to never tidy or clean, then throw tantrums at me if she one day decided she wanted a tidy flat. She also attempted to sleep with (my) US ex. Although having that said, she did lend me her car a lot.

  3. Another good one from A: His flatmate has a visitor who looks in the freezer, decides she doesn't like the look of A's food so leaves it to defrost on the floor in front of the door of his room.

  4. I live in a shared house. One girl is heavily involved with the social services, and is constantly having very aggressive cocaine-addled fights with her boyfriend on the steps to the house. One day we realise we haven't seen her for a while. Landlord breaks down door to find she's fled the scene without paying rent, leaving us to pay her share of the bills for the past few months.

  5. S is living in shared student accomodation. One guy out of the six is acting a bit strange.

    One morning. a turd shows up next to the toilet bowl. Everyone thinks it's gross, but people put it down to a wild party the night before.

    The next day, the same happens again. They start wondering a bit. In fact, the whole flat seems to smell strange.

    Half a week later, they realise nobody's seen the Weird Guy for a while. Simultaneously they trace the awful smell to his door.

    They knock, with no response. In the end they call the landlord, who breaks down the door to find Weird Guy + room smeared in faeces.

    Weird Guy is taken away and never seen again.

Needless to say, this is nothing but an argument for J to move in with me.

Depressed Flatmate is back, and lo and behold I think she might have got some last night! I saw a pair of male trainers when I left for work this morning.

She appears to be doing a little better after the Christmas break, but still, living with her is not ideal.

I'm constantly tiptoing around her, and every time she's due to come home I get tense and nervous that she might be in a complete state.

It's not just about her spesific issues though. It's about privacy in general.

Last night after going out for a lovely meal, J and I huddled onto my bed (in anticipation of Depressed Flatmate's date which appears to have gone quite well) playing board games and chatting.

Which was cosy in a way, but I'm tired of having to defect to my room. It feels like living with my parents again or something, where your house isn't really yours to do what you want, when you want to.

I know that J feels the same way about this.

He's so far spent a total of three nights in his new flat. The fact that the bed is crap and the door to his room has been taken off the hinges due to refurbishment might have something to do with it, but I think he's also realised that it's nicer to stay with me.

Yesterday he asked what I want for Valentine's day. You can't say the man doesn't plan ahead.

And I said, I want a bunch of roses with a card attached that says "I've changed my mind, I want to move in with you".

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        Friday, 6 January 2006

        Need encoding help

        I accidentally cocked up my old template and had to replace it with this one, which actually looks quite nice. However I'd like to modify it to have three columns in total, but seem unable to do this! Can anyone help?

        Update 6.1.05 -

        Crisis over for now. The template not looking perfect, but certainly a lot better than what I was stuck with yesterday.

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        Thursday, 5 January 2006


        I am not a superstitious person (*goes on to contradict that in next sentence*) but sometimes I really do think strong emotions of people you're close to can rub off in this way, even if you're miles away.

        You might remember how good I said I was feeling on Tuesday for no good reason.

        Just after posting that day, I went to look at another blog I maintain with childhood friends. My best friend had posted early that morning to say that she'd been successful in her application for a very good job she interviewed for before Christmas. Naturally she was ecstatic.

        H and I have known each other since we were 5 and have been best friends since we were 10. We've never had an argument, mainly because we're so different that being in the frame of mind for arguments would mean arguing about everything all the time, especially since we're both quite stubborn.

        We used to do that thing all the time where you pick up the receiver and the person you're about to call is already at the other end. Naturally since we used to call each other every day the statistical chances for this to happen were probably quite high, but it never happened to me with anyone else.

        I naturally rushed to the phone as soon as I saw the news and gave her a ring, she told me that although this means she'll probably be staying in the town where she presently lives, of which she is not awfully fond, for another handful of years, she's very happy and will celebrate by buying a flat with her boyfriend.

        And it struck us both that we're growning up. I am obviously somewhat hampered by my commitment phobic boyfriend, but still. Two years ago we were all single and moving to countries all over the place. Now people are buying houses.

        J also came home with good news on Tuesday evening; his best friend is pregnant (or at least his wife is). I'm quite excited. I am excited about someone being pregnant! This is completely abnormal.

        I was never one of the babysitting girls when I was little, and I don't have a scrapbook with wedding dresses and house interiors in it.

        I'm sure all people get to a stage where they suddenly have an urge to get married and have children, but I think most of them are more prepared for feeling this way than I am.

        I can't help feeling I've had a bit of a personality transplant.

        Now I'm just waiting for H to call me to tell me she's got engaged. She firmly believes it's 'men's work' to propose (I told you we were different), and now that her boyfriend's best friend is getting hitched this summer, I think it's only a question of time.

        Well, at least that'll give me another day of feeling really good.

        J, get your arse in gear.

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        Tuesday, 3 January 2006

        Manic Tuesday

        I am genuinely feeling very good today! Why this is I can't tell. The weather here in London is decidedly lousy, I'm almost broke although it's only the 3rd of the month and J is busy tonight seeing his friend.

        I haven't felt this good for ages. It's like my brain is suddenly working again. I should have known something good was to come yesterday when I managed to complete the whole of the Guardian quick crossword without J's help.

        10 theories for this hitherto inexplicable burst of happiness:

        1. I might be inches away from finishing Final Fantasy X, which I've been working on since 2005
        2. I've been reminded over Christmas that no matter how far away I am, my family and friends love me and I love them back
        3. I've decided I'll definitely change careers, even if it'll cost me unknown amounts of everything. I know I want to spend the rest of my life, so I have to
        4. I am quite optimistic that J and I will actually last. The last psychoanalysis of the issue is in retrospect quite convincing in that respect
        5. I can spend all day home alone reading books and eating Pringles
        6. My cold is better
        7. I decided in Church at Christmas that God probably doesn't care that much that I never go there
        8. My body has inexplicably and all of a sudden come to terms with the moodswing-inducing chemicals of the estrogen-only pill after almost a year
        9. I had a fantastic orgasm whilst masturbating in the bath this morning
        10. Happiness is actually a state of mind, and not down to circumstance
          Suddenly, I have energy. I have forgiven all of yesterday's gripes, want to learn three differnt new foreign languages at once and have finally unpacked my suitcase after Christmas.

        10 things which suddenly don't seem annoying anymore

        1. J's commitment issues
        2. Depressive Flatmate
        3. Imminent lack of job security / potentially having to move flats very soon
        4. J's potentially sociopathic mother, who btw forgot to unpeel the Harrods sale label from the Christmas present she got me because I got her something, then pretended she had it lying around all along and just 'forgot' to hand it over before Christmas
        5. All the fundamentalist or just downright boring blogs on Blogexplosion
        6. My dad, who normally drives me up the wall by treating me like I'm still 12 and refusing to admit that smoking has been scientifically proven to be bad for you
        7. The flab I imagine I've accumulated around my waist over Christmas
        8. Being bored in a job I'm clearly overqualified for
        9. Missing my friends and family more each day
        10. Not having anyone to hang out with today because all normal human beings are at work

          Has anyone else noticed anything suspicious which might indicate massive doses of Prozac in the London drinking water lately? All the grumpiness from yesterday seems just a distant memory. And I haven't even got laid.

          Well, as long as I'm not pregnant I'm going to flutter away from here and celebrate my last day home alone by playing Final Fantasy all evening.

          Have a lovely Tuesday everyone!

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        Monday, 2 January 2006

        Who? Me?

        Someone has asked me my name.

        As much as I try to resist digressing and blogging about blogging, I feel unable to resist on this one occasion.

        A rose by any other name...It happened a few days ago, in my last post of 2005, see comments at the bottom.

        The editor of citizen news site Wanabehuman asked me if I have a name.

        Of course I have a name!

        However, I think it's bordering on rude to ask it.

        If I wanted everyone to know my name, the title of this blog would probably be 'Jason's girlfriend Catriona' or someting. But it's not.

        He is not the first to ask.

        But in the past, people have at least had the courtesy to email me to build up a personal relationship before asking (I've still said no, but at least I can see why they thought it fit to ask).

        The most discreet ones will build up email conversations and then casually drop their own name into the signature. When I don't respond with mine, they always get the hint.

        But no such pleasantries from this guy; he's just asked me outright in a comment, none of which indicates he's even read my blog.

        Why does it matter? In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't. There is nothing on this blog that incriminates me, no animal sex, pedophilia or ridiculous political standpoints.

        At length I've said something slightly bitchy about someone you could possibly identify if you knew who I was.

        The fact of the matter is, I just don't want people to know who I am. I thought that was obvious; there is nothing on my blog which directly identifies me, and that's because I want to be anonymous.

        It bothers me when people ask because I don't see why they'd be interested in knowing exactly who I am. I am sharing my writing with them, and am for the most part not interested in sharing my non-virtual self. I clearly have a boyfriend so neither am I really a potential partner.

        Also, due to J's somewhat fragile psychological state, I think anonymity is best for him. He would really hate it if someone came up and said "I read on your girlfriend's blog that [fill in personal detail here]". Even if it was just whether or not we share toothbrushes (which we don't, as a rule).

        I could of course tell the bloke who asked what my name is, it's a very common name and is highly unlikely to help him identify me.

        But I don't want to and I'm not going to.

        I don't see why the guy wants to know. He's like one of these people who reads gossip mags because they want to know every last detail about someone they will most likely never meet in real life, as if it helps them get closer to them.

        So much for leaving encouraging comments on ramdom people's blogs.

        To read about how important personal freedom is and other quite well-written leftist rants, visit Wanabehuman's blog, but be prepared to have your privacy probed in return.

        And to Wanabehuman's editor, should he come back to see this, I am sorry that you were the straw to break the camel's back on this occasion. I hope no offense is taken.

        But hey, it might lead more people to read your blog...

        And that's what we all want, isn't it.

        Not personal fame.

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        Sunday, 1 January 2006

        Arguments: Making you horny?

        Now let me start off by saying first of all that J and I never really have proper fights. We just have heated discussions.

        And I don't mean that in an ironic way; we both hate confrontation and it never escalates into saying deliberately hurtful things although it can be just as painful sometimes.

        The point being however that it appears that the heated discussions make us both horny.

        Several times I've caught J with a hard-on during one of our 'where is our relationship going'-conversations.

        Maybe not a raging huge one, but definitely a noticeable trouser hill.

        Why is this? I'm a bit mystified.

        I hope he doesn't have some kind of emotional trauma fetish which leads him to torture me in the way he does by saying he doesn't love me etc. etc.

        Although I have to admit that I've noticed a certain degree of wetness in myself as well in the middle of a traumatic exchange.

        Is this my body saying 'oh my god, hold on to this man at all cost, and remember, the best way to do this is by providing a warm and supple, tight... embrace*'?

        Or am I the one with the emotional trauma fetish? After all I do seem to seek it out; I refer here to the brilliant examples of gay and US ex respectively.

        Yes, Rhett, carry me away for some make-up sex

        Although I didn't really have proper fights with either of them so can't provide any statistically significant evidence of argument hard-ons from those relationships, unfortunately.

        And of course, as soon as J and I are done with the usual few hours of me saying I want commitment (God, how I never thought I'd find myself in that situation) and him saying he'd love to live with me but feels it'd be wrong (needs therapy!!), we fall into bed.

        The kissing is unusually frantic, we tear each other's clothes off if we're not already naked (we often have 'where is our relationship going' arguments in the buff) and because we're both ready to rock the sex is always completely explosive.

        Which I guess is exactly how you develop a fetish; by learning to associate sexual gratification with something inherently asexual.

        I know obviously that having an argument with your partner gets all kind of adrenalin and other hormones raging in your veins, warranting a fight-or-flight reaction.

        Sex provides both; physical response and emotional flight.

        Still though, there is something worrying about lecturing your boyfriend about commitment, just to find he has a hard penis poking at you in the middle of your monologue.

        The other bizarre thing of course is that no sex also makes you cranky. So no sex is bad, but then leads to arguments which then leads to sex. I hope I never have to try to be celibate, it would all get very confusing, even in a neurotic and overanalysed relationship like mine.

        We didn't fall into bed last night simply because we were both sick so neither of us could shoulder doing all the work.

        Having that said, my sore throat is really itchy and could do with some scratching when I get home. Now where do I find something long enough to reach the back of it?

        *That's a Buffy quote for you uninitiated people

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        Happy new year!

        As 2005 dragged its rickety body towards a timely grave, J told me that when I say I love him, he often wants to say it back. But he doesn't because he isn't sure he really does love me.

        A love message from Sydney's greeting of 2006, courtesy of Channel 9The old year had quite a cathartic ending for us.

        We went for an afternoon walk in the park; the weather end-of-year tired, not cold, but not warm, no rain, air quite fresh in London terms, in anticipation of a fresh start.

        An elderly couple, wearing walking shoes rather than trainers, jogged past, followed by an overweight woman and her similarly sized partner pushing a pram with an incredulously small baby in it.

        So I started talking about what the new year will bring for our relationship.

        It's been about a year since I spent all night on the phone to J, trying to convince him that we were a good idea (in the end his therapist agreed with me, which apparently sealed the deal).

        A year is a long time. I guess I felt at that moment yesterday when we were sitting on a bench in the park that unless it's going to last, one year is enough.

        I don't need you to make up your mind now, I said, I just need something to hold on to. Something to give me a reason to hang on.

        J didn't say anything for a long time, and then he started crying, sitting on a bench wathcing the kids play football on the other side of the fence.

        We talked for ages. He cried some more. Strangely I didn't for once; I guess I just felt some kind of end-of-year resolve.

        He ended up explaining better than he ever has what me means when he says he doesn't think he feels deeply enough for me.

        "When you say you love someone," he asked, "you say they're with you all the time. But whenever you're not around, I just think of all the things I should get on with, all the stuff that needs done. I don't think of you. Doesn't that mean I don't love you properly?"

        If that was the case, and we thought constantly about the person we loved for anything more than the three first months of mad crush, nothing would probably get done in the world apart from by people who have a completely loveless existence.

        And those people are probably mostly institutionalised with depression and not working anyway.

        It's just that when you do think about someone you love, there's always that extra weight on your chest.

        There's an imprint they've made on you that means that even when you are really busy and thinking of everything else, you'd drop all of it in a second and rush to the side of your loved one should they call your name and ask for help.

        I explained this to J. By this time we'd made it back to my flat.

        Then I went to take a nap while he prepared a lovely dinner.

        He woke me up and told me it hadn't come out the way he wanted it to, but I thought it was delicious anyway.

        We watched London count down to the new year on BBC1 snuggled up on the sofa, both with a sore throat and a lump in it as well.

        Happy new year, he said as Big Ben struck the first hour of 2006.

        Although it was my first New Year's Eve spent in a sofa with my boyfriend, clad in sweatpants and an old sweather rather than at a party in my gladrags, I knew there was nowhere else I'd have been happier.

        When I told him this, he said "ditto".

        Will that still be the case one year from now, I asked.

        I hope so, he said.

        They say that whatever you hold in your hand as you see the new moon of the new year, you won't be missing for the rest of that year.

        So one day at a time, until J finds the courage to believe what his heart is telling him.

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