Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

..or makes it wander.

In this case, definitely the former.

J picked me up from the airport today. He was partly hiding behind a pillar at Heathrow in a very cute way; I spotted him out of the corner of my eye as he approached me with a boquet of red roses.
A fitted v-neck... A little preppy, but every man should have one!
He was as always a little apprehensive at first.

Apparently it takes him "a few minutes to get used to me again", although at those times he most of all reminds me of a shy 14-year old on a second date, where he's not sure if the girl still likes him.

He'd worn his new jeans for the occasion especially because I like them, and said he had showered and also especially washed his hands (??).

So there he was, all bashful as he opened his present (a V-necked sweater in a deep brownish purple which he admitted to loving, a banana holder so his fruit will never again get squashed in his bag (no puns intended there although I feel one might be hiding somewhere), and five golf balls my dad found when he walked our dog on the local golf course).

But by the time we were sitting across from each other enjoying 1/4 crispy duck and some oyster sauce tofu for lunch, he was saying every 5 seconds how much he liked me and how good it was to have me back.

I could tell he was feeling a little lonely while I was away, but I think he doesn't trust his feelings enough to believe that it is because he misses me.

He seemed very relieved to find that this was indeed the case.

Unfortunately he had to head off quite early for work purposes, and although that was only a few hours ago we've been on the phone twice (for instance I've found out that the sweather fitted approximately, although it might have been a little small and he needs a second opinion).

A bit of distance is good in a relationship; it helped me break up with my boyfriend of 3 years when I realised I'd spent my whole long weekend dreading having to ever see him again.

But with J and I... It's almost as if we've just met, even though I've only been gone for five days. It is so lovely. I just hope that it'll still be like that in ten years time when we've been apart.

The roses are sitting in a vase, awaiting J's return in a few days.

Meanwhile I'll just sit here and enjoy You Are What You Eat (gasp! 43 bars of chocolate in a week!!! HOW?!), over my last bag of crisps before I give them up for Lent... Along with the Playstation. Sob. It'll be a late night.

Cause it ain't Lent until I get up again tomorrow morning!!

Sunday, 26 February 2006

My dad and I

When I was little, my dad and I used to get on brilliantly.

He would carry me on his back, he taught me to ice-skate, taught me all the names of flowers, trees, birds and animals around us, he built me a proper playhouse in the garden and took me swimming or to a museum almost every Saturday.

Although I wasn't exactly a daddy's girl, I am sure I must at some point have been of the opinion that my dad was more fun than my mum.

So what happened along the way?

I've only been home for 48 hrs and he's already getting on my nerves.

Mostly it's because he doesn't engage with me like a proper adult when he adresses me.

He'll usually come over and poke me, or make fun of something I say.

Not in a clever, funny way, but in some kind of obscure way only he finds funny (this is not only a case of me deliberately finding him obscure; for instance he tried his wit on a couple of my lecturers when I graduated from university. They were completely mystified and I was completely mortified).

It is, I guess, nothing more mysterious than the fact that I've grown up and my dad hasn't.

We have very little in common, and if he is to speak to me, it has to be on his terms, about something he is interested in and can lecture me about.

He has never been interested in things I've shown an interest in. For instance, he is partly dyslexic and I read faster than him since I was four (literally speaking).

I grew up to be a very academically adept little girl, but he never understood why studying was important to me, commending me neither when I was Valedictorian at Junior High, nor when I graduated with a first from university.

Instead he berates me for 'having had it easy' in being clever, and I know he secretly wonders why I don't just want to work in a shop for the rest of my life, as it was good enough for him.

I have always had a very analytical mind; I'm not good with detail but like to draw out general conclusions and trends from a wide range of evidence and material.

When he just lectures me, but always without providing a scrap of scientific evidence (example: "So many people in the world smoke. I don't believe this crap about it being bad for you. So many people wouldn't do it if it wasn't good for something." -Then refuses to listen to any facts about people dying of lung cancer and getting emphysema), it drives me up the wall.

Now I realise I should just bite my tongue when I see him, especially since it's so rarely (I just snapped at him a sec ago because he told me for the second time that food is ready, even though I already said I'll be there in a minute), but I just think it's a pity that my father will never see that he actually did quite a good job, that I've grown up to be a relatively functional human being with a decent job and a somehow mad, but very lovely boyfriend.

He just isn't interested in getting to know the person I am now.

I win every argument because I'm better educated and more articulate, and of course he finds that intimidating.

But I can't find it in me to say that global warming isn't happening just because he thinks it isn't.

But I see him getting older between each of my visits, and all I can do is hope that it will improve if or when I have children.

He loves children, because they listen to him and laugh at his jokes and most importantly don't question his lack of logic or scientific rigeur.

I'm going downstairs to have some chicken with him now, fingers crossed. But a little sad.

Saturday, 25 February 2006

Giving up for lent

Re. my fat HNT post recently, it's actually fat Tuesday next week, or Mardi Gras as some people like calling it.

The British call it Pancake Tuesday, but that's because... I don't know. What's fat about pancakes? Well, maybe if you pile them high with smokey back bacon and maple syrup...

And you are no longer wondering why I love my mum

In my family we celebrate with custard filled donuts, almond filled sugar buns and fresh cream and jam filled brioches.

My mum was in action today, and amazingly, with my help, not one of the donuts burst. I can't wait till tomorrow (we celebrate it on the last Sunday before lent, rather than on the last day before, ie the Tuesday).

Now I like to call myself Christian, although I only go to church once a year at Christmas.

I find UK churches a bit preachy, not to mention cold. Ancient churches; nice to visit in the summer, not so nice to worship in in January.

I'm also not used to giving things up for lent (you can tell I'm a lapsed Protestant, can't you), but I'm thinking maybe this year I should.

I was asking one of my favourite colleagues, who suggested crisps. I have about a bag a day.

But I don't know. Crisps are just food.

As a Christian I feel that giving something up for lent should be about giving up something which gives you more time or space to think about God or at least something spiritual.

This is one of the reasons I find Ramadan a bit odd; it's like lent and Christmas rolled into one; abstinence in the day time and gorging at night. Any Muslim readers please feel free to tell me how wrong I am.

Above-mentioned colleague is not religious, but likes to give something up for lent because it gives mental space.

I am thinking I should give up either TV or Playstation. TV would probably be a bit difficult as I sometimes need to watch TV for work purposes, but Playstation should be a doodle. I think.

Not to say that it won't be a sacrifice. I am expecting serious withdrawal within the next month or so. I mean, what else would I fill those late night hours with? Especially when J is not there...

Yes, I think that's it. I'll give up Playstation for 40 days, except for if it's required of me socially (such as at the Singstar party my friend is having next weekend).

I will not sit up late at night and play, instead I shall go to the library, borrow a book about Islam and inform myself for the next month.

But before then, I am going to prepare for an even fatter HNT next week by having lots of those donuts at the party tomorrow...

And if anyone has any better suggestions for lent, bring 'em on. And I'm still open to general post suggestions as well.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Having a fat HNT (VI)?

Yes, it's that time of the week agian. HNT, yes, but also Fat Time.

I go through a stage every week where I start feeling a little guilty about not exercising more (three evenings in a row in front of a TV do that to me).

And although I wake up in the morning feeling reasonably slim, my stomach, due to lack of tone, soon starts bulging, regardless of what I eat.

Honestly, this is what it looks like from my point of view
I am not fat. I probably weigh around 52 kilos (OK, maybe 53, and before you ask, I've no idea what that is in pounds) and I can feel muscle when I poke my bum cheek.

According to my grandmother, I've had a baby belly ever since I was actually a baby. As a child, I used to be thin as a stick, but with an inflated tummy.

There is not much fat there, it actually feels quite taut when you poke it.

Without going into gross detail (you can plead for more as a comment on the previous post if you really want to know) I guess a slightly dysfunctional digestive system hasn't really helped.

Sometimes I stay off dairy and wheat for a few weeks and it kind of helps, but it's impossible for me to sacrifice cheese and yoghurt for an extended period. Wouldn't want osteoperosis, anyway.

In addition I have a very curvy lower back, which helps my bum look great from every angle, but obviously makes the offending tummy stick out even more.

People have asked me if I'm pregnant, and I seriously wonder what it would look like if I was. I'd definitely be one of those women whose belly preceeeds them around corners by week 15.

Other girls want to be thin (already am), have bigger boobs (just in the way), blonde hair (too stigmatising), longer eyelashes (that's what mascara is for) and so on.

All I ever wanted was a flat stomach.

Yet when J looks at it, he doesn't see the above nightmare image, he just sees... a cute tummy.

Is it true love, or is it just that it looks worse from above than it does from the front?

Although at least I'm not one of those women who look like a muffin from the side.

A happy HNT to you all!

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Will link for suggestions

So because I'm so open to editorial intervention, I am asking you, my dear readers, what you would like for me to write about.

And of course, each accepted suggestion will be pre-ambled by a link to your blog or site of choice and a shameless plug of your own writing.
"A gift for detail and narrative", you say? Dear Bloggyaward reviewers, please go on...
What, you as, has brought on this sudden wind of change? Well, I've been reviewed by Bloggyawards!

They say that I could be a novelist... Well, if I was to ever become a novelist (which would be nice!), I suspect I'd be a bit of a review-whore.

No Bloggyaward for me, though... They say my scope is too narrow.

And I guess I could agree; I think I'm nearing the point where I've said all I need to say about J, at least until the next time he almost has a nervous breakdown.

In addition, it's almost springtime, though you wouldn't think it from looking outside; my ears almost fell off walking into work this morning. But disregarding the weather, it's time for spring and that means new input and ideas, innit?

In fact, when I get enough decent suggestions (decent as in "high quality", not necessarily as in "not colourful"), I shall devote a whole week to request posts. What say you?

Always wanted to know what I think of George Bush, or Snickers bars, or the latest bombings of Shia shrines in Samarra, or spring fashion, or Desperate Housewives?

Well if so, I'm all yours. Bring it on. I'll be going on a little holiday this weekend and will have plenty of time to think of something.

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Bin bags and a chai

No news yet about yesterday's stalker story, but in this case I really think no news is good news.

To focus on the fact that not all people are freaks and that someactually have good sides too; let's think about something else. For instance Starbucks.
Feeling hungry? Or just guilty...

I love Starbucks. But that's not the point of this story as that neither makes me a good person nor proves that I'm not a freak.

So, last Friday. I was frequenting the rather poshly located Starbucks near where J lives, and was sitting in one of the comfy seats near the window.

He was only about 10 minutes away as I arrived at the tube station, so normally I would have just waited outside, but it was really one of those bitterly cold February evenings where you see no stray dogs in the streets because even animals realise it's too awful outside to want to run away.

The area thinks itself rather too posh to allow companies to rent waste containers, so Starbucks had just heaped their blue waste bags on the pavement to await their removal, most likely by some underpaid foreigner in the dead of night.

I had my chai, I had the Private Eye, I was about to see J, and was generally thinking life ain't so bad after all.

Until I saw Her.

An old woman, dressed in a long skirt and shawl, with her show white hair sticking out from under it, hunched over said binbags, apparently looking for food.

Now I have a soft spot for homeless people anyway, maybe because they're the ultimate underdog in a way, or maybe because I like to think I'm middle class and with that I think must come some kind of social conscience.

But she wasn't just any old drunk; she managed to look quite dignified while going through the bags, she was dressed in worn but clean-looking clothes and was not visibly dirty or drugged.

My heart sank, and I started thinking of what better things I could have done with the £5 I'd just spent on a drink and a magazine.

But as people tend to do in these situations, I did nothing. I was sort of frozen in my seat, feeling ridiculously bad for her, wondering if I should buy her some food, but not actually doing it.

Suddenly, someone behind me said very loudly and in a heavily foreign accent: "I can't look at this any longer." One of the staff members at Starbucks came to my rescue.

She bagged a muffin from the counter and went outside, and through the window I could see a strange pantomime of the woman refusing the bag and the Starbucks girl imploring her to take it. Which in the end, she did.

The girl came back inside, and the woman calmly kept searching the rest of the bags, kindly tying each one back up as she was done, and putting a few bits and bobs in a crumpled Sainsbury's plastic bag she was carrying.

I kept staring at her, I couldn't help it, and we exchanged smiles.

Now judging by the area where this happened, it is fully possible that the woman is not actually poor or starving, but some filthy rich but stingy and eccentric person living nearby, who refuses to wash up (paper cups seemed to be the main target of her search).

But this isn't the point. The point is that so many people were sitting in Starbucks where I was sitting, their SUVs and Jaguars parked outside, with a front row view and not doing anything about the old woman who was out in the cold.

Except the member of staff, who probably earns £6.50 an hour if she's lucky and shares a lower ground flat in Elephant and Castle with at least four other people from Poland (she seemed to be Eastern European).

Before I left, I thanked her and said how bad I'd felt at not doing anything. "I couldn't just watch," she said.

There is no deep moral to this story, except "I wish more people were like her".

Monday, 20 February 2006

News and stalkers

J and I managed to squeeze in 'Good night and good luck' before he had to go to work yesterday morning. It was a lovely little film, and I agree with the Guardian that it achieved what small goals it had set for itself.
When men were men and newscasters chain smoked
At least if those goals were to make you exit the cinema thinking "omg, I'll never not pay my license fee again, ever".

Anyway. J's flatmate has a stalker! We all agree that being in love with someone drives you a little crazy, but we also agree that it's the responsibility of every sensible adult to try and curb the madness as much as possible. Especially if the person doesn't feel the same way...

The flatmate, who is a tender 20, found herself in a bit of a pickle when she agreed to meet up with a single male friend on Valentine's day for 'a bit to eat', and he took her for Italian food below the Eros, followed by ice skating and ice cream on Leicester Square, complemented with a massive flower bouquet and an attempt to kiss her, which she only avoided by the fortunate arrival of her train home.

So this weekend he'd invited her out again, and she was wondering how to tell him that she's not interested.

We decided that the best way forward was to be honest; that is to pull out all the stops with clichees such as "it's not you it's me", "I'm not ready for a relationship right now" and "I just don't want to settle with someone as I'm leaving the country shortly".

So far, so good.

But the guy doesn't get it. I am starting to think he's a freak.

Things which indicate he might be a mentalist:
  1. "My friend Kevin tried to tell me that I should give up because you don't like me, and I got really angry with him, he just doesn't understand the special bond that you and I share!"
  2. "You know that deep inside you do like me, you just need time to realise it."
  3. Still tried to forcibly kiss her after she'd explained she wasn't interested
  4. "But how are we going to cope with being away from each other when I go away for two weeks?" (He's under the delusion that they have to speak every day, which means he phones her every day)
  5. "My parents really want to meet you, they think you sound like such a nice girl"
  6. When looking at pictures in his digital camera, she realised they were all of her.
Alert! I am wondering if he's secretly got a shrine devoted to her in a broom cupboard in his flat.

Worst of all, months ago before she realised the situation (she was also going out with someone else at the time), they arranged a trip to the Middle East together.

As they were the only ones who could afford it, it will be just the two of them, sharing rooms and beds, for two weeks... I honestly think it might not be safe for her as he doesn't seem to respect her boundaries whatsoever.

Meanwhile, she's actually lying about where she lives to avoid him showing up at her doorstep every single day.

What to do? I said to ignore his phone calls for the couple of weeks he'll be away and see if it helps. I feel sorry for the poor guy, but honestly, he's starting to freak me out a bit.

Any advice I can pass on to the flatmate, anyone??

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Belated Valentine's :: HNT V

Yesterday, J and I had our first proper Valentine's day together.

To ignore the riveting story of how it went, and skip right to the nekkidness, click here.

Last year, J was too traumatised by the idea of actually being in a relationship to do anything at all.

The way to a woman's heart... Food always works
This year, as you will know, he had originally, in a brilliant display of man genius, arranged to see Liverpool play Arsenal, which only fell through because the guy he was seeing it with had to go on a date with his pregnant wife. Can't argue with that, really.

Last year I gave him a Molton Brown body wash which he's promptly put at the back of his cupboard and refused to use except for special occasions. I'm sure you can see a trend of bad gifts here.

The only time it got used was when we attended his best friend's wedding (coincidentally the fellow Liverpool fan mentioned earlier); the best friend had forgotten to bring any soap (surely an essential to be clean if you're getting married, you'd think, but apparently not) so the body wash came in very handy.

I also gave him a compilation tape, which to his defense he actually has listened to. Unfortunately it's so full of heartbreaking lovesongs that I can't bear to listen to it myself for more than two songs in a row.

This year I gave him a Liverpool wall calendar, discounted from Walmart, and a CD holder for the car, which went down a blast. You can't say I never learn.

He gave me two pairs of quite cute dangly earrings and a card that said "I'd give up my footie season ticket for one kiss from your sweet lips", and then on the inside, "Yeah Right!". In reference to the football match issue, obviously. I found it quite endearing.

Below the "Yeah Right!" he'd written "but a cuddle would do the trick." Aaaw.

He also gave me a pack of luxury fig and pecan cookies, which were delicious; he likes to back up any present with a food component, because if I don't like the actual gift, the food bit always goes down a blast.

Then he took me to a very posh Chinese restaurant; he refused to take me to the restaurant we usually go to for special occasions as he said we needed a change of scene.

I wore my new earrings and a skirt he likes, he wore a fleece because he came straight from work and finds it impossible to cycle wearing a long coat.

I managed to avoid crispy duck for a starter, and we had a creative and I must say very yummy selection of dishes, which might even have been slightly authentic judging by the ethnicity of our fellow diners. The restaurant was of course almost empty as every one else in the world had been out the night before.

J drank a glass of wine on an empty stomach as we waited between prawn crackers and starters, and promptly got a little tipsy.

At the end of a meal we did an emotional stock take, and we seem to be doing quite well.

Then we went home, played a round of board game and then had very satisfying sex before going to sleep -satisfying for us, that is; probably a lot less so for my flatmates who most likely had to listen to it. Best not to think about that too much.
J saw more than this last night, but still, happy HNT to you all!
All in all a lovely belated Valentine's day.

Now how do I get him to move in with me?

For some reason it doesn't seem as urgent as it did a while ago, partly because I feel more secure in the relationship so feel the need for reassurance less severely, and partly because I'm now rid of Depressed Flatmate and quite happy in my present flat.

Still, a man like that, I can't let him get away without buying me a house.

Meanwhile I'll eat my cookies and wait.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Vaginas and Valentine's

When I spent Valentine's day in the US, two things shocked me:

a) The average US girl's obsession with what she's getting on V-day (present wise)

b) The fact that the average US girl thinks it's embarrassing to say VAGINA.

OK, so despite my piss-taking V-day is actually a good thing, campaigning against abuse of women. Click here or on pic for more

As you might or might not know, advocates of the play "The Vagina Monologues" tout 14 February as Vagina Day. Boys, themselves lacking a vagina, can wear t-shirts reading "I support your vagina" by way of compensation.
Fair enough; better than discriminating against the world's singles for a whole six weeks of brainwash marketing from every high street shop, crowned with a whole day of naming and shaming of singles as inferior.

And of course, female circumsition is awful, although male circumcision isn't that great either, and there's still no Foreskin Day on the calendar as far as I know, despite the campaigning of 'grow a new foreskin' groups. Perhaps an idea for next year?

But honestly. The people I lived with in the US were all raving on about how 'empowering' it was to shout VAGINA out loud along with the rest of the audience (part of the play, kind of like singing along to the Rocky Horror Picture Show). Purrrlease.

Call me callous, but I really don't think that shouting the clinical name for your genitals is in any way embarrassing, or for that matter, empowering.

If you want to be respected as a sexual being, and as a woman, you need to deal with the first issue I mentioned above, ie. stop expecting your boyfriend to buy you things, open your doors, protect you and give you chocolates once a year.

What's with this ridiculous pressure on guys to buy girls ever more expensive presents? To the extent that one day can at all make up for taking someone completely for granted on the remaining 364 days a year, I don't see why guys should get away with it simply by lining up in Godiva's at 1745 on V-day.

Also, it should be mutual. Why do girls go on about wanting amazing gestures from their men, only to go out and buy them a pair of M&S boxers in return for the fifth year in a row? OK, maybe not that bad, but you get my point.

And then to go out and have a meal surrounded by other couples forced into a romantic mood, where you never get a proper menu because inevitably they only do set meals due to great demand.

No thanks.

6 Things I'd like for Valentine's Day
(not expensive either for the most part)

  • A bunch of roses with a card saying "I've changed my mind, I want to move in with you" (as handed to my best friend from her boyfriend two years ago; they just bought a house. Too bad I won't be getting one of those this year)
  • Coming home to a nicely cooked candle-lit dinner, or preparing one for my boyfriend if I get out of work first
  • A text at 2 minutes past midnight saying "Happy V-day baby and we can now think we're seeing each other 'tomorrow'" (as received from J last night)
  • The text messages from my family saying they love me and miss me
  • A mixing tape of music I like put together by my partner (I've done this for J and he loved it; I realise tapes are bit passee, but his car is very old!)
  • Sex. And lots of it.

See, almost free. You can't run around and demand respect for your vagina one minute and then wanting to be treated like a kept woman the next. Not even for one day each year. Get your degree, be your own boss and be respected for that; not for looking pretty and being homecoming queen.

Although I have to admit that when my ex (who was in fact from the US) gave me flowers on 13 February "because it was a lot cheaper than getting them on the 14th" I had one of those "Oh my god this relationship is SO over" moments.

Yet I think I respect my vagina, usually.

Monday, 13 February 2006

Dysfunctional arguments

After a long period of largely good days, J is not having a very pleasant time with himself at the moment. Which means we aren't having a very pleasant time together. Happy V-day everyone...
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V-Day Wishlist: a magic tin opener to see what's inside J's head

Yesterday, for instance, he got really upset when I said I thought it was a bit weird that his household doesn't own a tin opener.

The lack of tin opener is partly related to the recent brush with death in the form of a fire in their kitchen, but that was as you can see a number of weeks ago now. Plenty of time to get a new tin opener.

Especially since there is still no cooker in the flat and the most obvious form of nutrition is ready-meals or tinned food reheated in an ad-hoc microwave balancing precariously on a side table in the living room, placed there by the landlord.

And I admit that there was a tinge of criticism in my voice when I mentioned it, because sometimes J's lack of practical nouse just gets to me.

But I was in no way having a go and indicating that my way of doing things is always better, other than the fact that I think having a tin opener is superior to wrestling tins open with a table knife (thank god I spent years in Scouts).

I am not saying that the fault is all his, but if he is feeling depressed he becomes the touchiest person in the world (in strong competition with my depressed ex-flatmate and probably every other clinically depressed person alive).

So what should have been a quick "how come you don't have a tin opener" "oh really, well I'll get one when I go shopping next" turned into a whole malarky of pointless discussion.

This morning he woke really early and got up to watch the West Wing because he couldn't go back to sleep, which is always a sign that he's not feeling well.

I think he's feeling down partly because of work and partly because his routine has been upset by the fire and everything else, this makes him feel unsettled and then he gets snappy.

It's obviously way worse for him because he has to go around feeling shit all day, but it's clearly not nice for me either. I feel sorry for him, yet there's nothing I can do. I almost started crying this morning.

I took him out for a reconciliatory lunch which was really nice, and he actually said that sometimes it's good that we argue so that he can feel bad about that in particular, rather than just feeling bad and not knowing why or how to stop it.

He's possibly just saying that to make me feel better, or maybe he starts the arguments deliberately on some level, just like I do, but for different reasons.

J's reasons: When he feels tense and depressed, he takes it out on me because that's an easy form of release, and he gets a chance to make himself feel better in general afterwards by apologising.

My reasons: Because he says he doesn't love me, I make myself difficult so that I can tell myself that it is my behaviour that keeps him from loving me, rather than me simply being an unloveable person.

Nice and constructive.

But I still love him the same, and I bet I'm getting a really fat present for Valentine's Day...

Saturday, 11 February 2006

Working woman

Sometimes it's nice to work in the same office as your boyfriend.

When I was going out with gay ex, we took a crappy student job at Sainsbury's, handing out Nectar cards.

"Would you like to be signed up for mailings from all the third parties we can possibly sell you on to?"
The Sainsbury's was, weirdly when considering their middle class core market, right next to a massive council estate, and we kept getting people who didn't know their own post code or what county their address fell in under.

Whenever any of them were rude, we'd sign them up for random things like 'yes, please, send me lots of useless information about the Sainsbury's Pet Club.

That's probably illegal.

Because we were quite poor (if not we probably wouldn't have taken that job…), we'd also follow the reduced to clear staff around and then pounce on the reduced shelf as soon as we finished our shift, which worked out nicely as the bulk of reductions were done at 1800, an hour before we finished.

It would have been an absolutely intolerable job, standing in a freezing cold supermarket wearing an oversized orange fleece jacket (NOBODY looks good in that colour except maybe some Asians) all day ticking boxes on a sheet for people who didn't know their post code.

Gay ex had impeccable middle class manners and was often commended on them by elderly customers. If only they'd known what he spent his spare time doing (included internet and boys).

But him being there made it bearable. Kind of like having your friends at school made German classes bearable because you could leer at the teacher behind his back, thereby creating a comfy sense of community which made the useless verb drills worth it.

As adults, we rarely have this pleasure of working with a whole group of close friends, and maybe it would drive me crazy anyway as I quite like to separate work friends from spare time friends for the sake of variety.

But tonight, J and I are at work together; my department is planning to order some Chinese for us poor souls who slave away here on a Saturday evening (OK, clearly not slaving that hard since I'm writing this, but I'm sure you could all think of more fun activities for the occasion), and J will come over from his office and eat with us. I'm quite looking forward to it.

Simply having a crush at someone at work makes the day pass so much faster.

And to all you who are wondering if you should pursue your crush on that cute girl in finance, let me tell you, having a partner at work is even better as long as you don't break up with them.

If you get bored, there's a plethora of broom cupboards in any decent office building.

Not to mention the photocopiers.

Friday, 10 February 2006

Blue sky minded

I long for summer. It's been a ridiculously long winter where I've not seen any daylight due to work on way too many days. I'm not claiming to have SAD or anything, but not seeing the sun for weeks on end can't possibly be at all healthy.

It really is a glorious day here today ("glorious day" being one of J's favourite expressions; often used in conjunction with driving to weekend break locations when the weather is particularily nice).

Spring is probably not far off, not that you'd think it in this cold. Apparently it's the same cold spell as passed Moscow a few weeks ago, leading to them doing extremist things like feeding Zoo elephants water laced with vodka to keep them warm. I mean, anything that makes the Russians part with their vodka has to be relatively severe.

I was having lunch today by the window, and the sun actually warmed me sufficiently to warrant the removal of a layer of clothing.

That 20 min burst of sunlight, even through a window, seems to have put me in a very summery mood.

I can't wait for it to get warm enough to allow for the wearing of ridiculously small skirts without running the risk of leg hypothermia, to lie in the grass in the back garden and stare at the growing courgettes (no visual pun intended!).

I'm feeling strangely complacent today, nothing seems to be annoying me and I'm not even that eager for the working day to end, despite it being Friday. This could, I suspect, be related to a mind-blowing (and just "blowing") session yesterday afternoon, although that would present an afterglow duration record.

I'll just have to pester J for a top-up when he gets back from work tonight.

You guys all have a lovely weekend too!

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Relationship pet peeves :: HNT IV

How do you keep a relationship alive after the first frantic madness is over?

If you're here for nekkidness, skip the dross by clicking here

Every relationship at some point turns into something akin to being friends who can have sex frequently without it being an issue.

Suddenly you wake up and realise that there are things about your hitherto perfect partner which are actually quite annoying.

For instance, five annoying things about J (with redeeming factors so I don't feel guilty blackballing him):

  1. He takes ages to get ready for bed. He'll be saying "I think it's time to go to bed." I play playstation for another 40 min, take my time cleansing, toning, brushing my teeth, flossing etc. etc. and I STILL manage to come to bed before him. It's not that he sits around watching TV interim, he just seems to... take ages. Redeeming personality factor: He never gets mad if I'm running late.
  2. He is not very practical. The other day, the pole inside my wardrobe fell down (NOT, I hasten to clarify, due to any excessive shopping sprees on my behalf) and my friend P who happened to be around, just climbed into the wardrobe with a hammer and nails and instantly fixed it. J could never have done this, he would have panicked about breaking the wardrobe completely. Now it's not that I couldn't have fixed it myself; being smaller I would in fact have fit into the wardrobe more easily. No, the point is, sometimes it's just nice to have practical things sorted out for you. Redeeming personality factor: He always carries my groceries for me.
  3. He takes ages making any kind of decision. Obviously best demonstrated by the fact that he still doesn't know (after a YEAR!) if he wants to commit to us or not. However other entertaining examples arise if he's trying to pick a card for someone's birthday, or even worse, is playing chess. Redeeming personality factor: Hm... can't think of any here. He is however quite patient when I get impatient.
  4. He dresses very conservatively. Men should wear more pink shirts. Period. Redeeming personality factor: He did agree to buy a pair of jeans, and has even been wearing them on a regular basis. I see hope.
  5. He defends his mum even though she's completely horrible. I realise this is even worse for him than it is for me, as she guilt trips him expertly every time they meet, but it's still annoying when he takes her side when I know I'm right. Redeeming personality factor: He openly admits that it's wrong of him to side with her, he just can't help it.

I seem to notice these things more when we see each other less, which is bizarre, because you'd think that it'd be more annoying if I had the pleasure of experiencing them on a more regular basis.

I have come to think I find them annoying because we have less chance to experience the closeness that makes the annoying things less irritating.

I hate it, J loves it

Last night, for instance, we talked properly for the first time in ages. J has been very distant lately, and I knew it was because he's not enjoying work at the moment as he has a new and seemingly quite horrible and incompetent boss.

So he told me all about how he feels inadequate, and how he feels he is doing his best but it isn't good enough. As is most often the case with J it's actually good enough for everyone else, it's just not good enough for him.

To me it's obvious he should focus less on his boss' often insensitive criticism and more on the positive feedback he gets from other people, and the things he actually knows he's done well, but to him seems that if one thing goes wrong it means he is generally bad at his job.

We had a good chat and a cuddle, and he said afterwards he felt better. I hope he meant it. I feel closer to him when I feel like I'm of some use, and I think he feels the same way, which is why I think he gets so upset sometimes when he thinks there is nothing he could do for me that I couldn't do for myself.

Anyway, I woke this morning and he was just ultra-cute and not at all annoying.

And a happy HNT to all!

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Excuses, excuses

In the grand theme of apologies, J has come up with a solution to the Valentines blunder.

He called me last night and asked "if we could maybe do something Valentine's-like on the 15th". He suggested taking me out for dinner, which of course I'm not going to refuse.

I'll in fact even offer to pay my own way.

Call me a softie, but there was real remorse in his voice and I could tell he saw this as the only way to both enjoying Gerrard's legs on Tuesday as well as being able to live with his conscience come the end of next week.

What's a gal to do? Should I have put my foot down and said "no you bastard, if you want to watch footie that's it; I'm leaving you and my farewell present will be a Sky Sports subscription"?

I feel that would be the wrong route to take. I find I'd rather be doormat girlfriend than bitchy girlfriend. Hopefully this reflects well on my nature rather than being an indication of my upbringing to always be nice and make people like me at any cost.

Plus, if I took the bitchy route I'd miss out on what might very possibly become a very nice dinner in the restaurant we usually go to for special occasions (it's so special I'm not even going to tell you which one it is).

The only other option would be to do the martyr thing of going along to dinner, moping all evening, making him pay and then witholding sex for an indefinite period of time, but as I'm sure you all know I'd never manage moping when faced with delicious food, never mind the sex withdrawal.

So that's that, then.

Also, I've bought a new version of Singstar, so I'm fully planning to force J to sing with me all evening which he'll agree on since he'll be in a permanent state of bad conscience until the meal deal next Wednesday is actually over and done with.

I like to think I'm not a complete pushover.

Monday, 6 February 2006

Pre-Valentine's showdown

It's that time of the year again. The only time of the year where one starts to wonder if John Gray, revered author of 'Men are from Mars, women are from Venus' might have had a point after all.

I'm working on Valentine's day, and already know I'll be staying late. J and I had a quick chat about it; we'd kind of agreed not to make a big deal of it. Note, 'not a big deal' as opposed to 'no deal at all'.

So yesterday when I asked him what he wanted to do for this lovely day of ill-fitting underwear and overpriced chocolate (which obviously makes the underwear even less fitting in the long run), I was quite surprised when his face assumed a rather sheepish expression and he took his diary out with a blush.

"I agreed to meet K," he said. "Liverpool are playing Arsenal in the evening. You said you didn't want to make a big deal of it!"

Now. Lesson: Women only say that, they never really mean it.

Of course you shouldn't need a day dedicated to being a couple, and of course you could treat it like any other day of the year, but you could say that about birthdays too. And anniversaries. And Christmas. And there's no way I'm giving up Christmas! As you will know if you've been reading this blog for a while, I love Christmas!!

So when I said "let's not make a big deal of it" I meant "let's stay in and you can cook me dinner, and let's not spend more than £10 on presents." I did *NOT* mean "you can go to the pub with your best mate and watch the footie, never mind asking me what I'd like to do first".

Although I have to say the fact that he opted for Liverpool over an hour with me before bedtime doesn't help, I'm mostly upset because he didn't think to even ask me first.

He realised his mistake when I didn't talk for about 15 min in the car following the revelation of his plans, and then started begging me to be allowed to come over after the game (which would probably coincide with me being done at work).

I said no, as he's obviously only doing that to make himself feel better; surely if he wanted to see me he would have asked me ahead of arranging to see the football.

It is clear to me though, that when women say "oh no don't buy me anything" and that kind of thing, they never really mean it. It's not just that they're being coy and meek in what I see as a gross misunderstanding of attractive femininity, it's that women are often raised not to ask for things and not to make demands.

What I was really hoping for, I now realise, was that J would say "so, you have to work late, but that's OK, because I'll come over and cook us a nice dinner for when you get back. And then I'll make all your wildest sexual dreams come true."

See, I'm not even asking for roses and a card.

And before you start saying that I should have got out of working that evening if it really was that important to me, can I just counter that with saying that I actually think staying in my job is slightly more important than seeing Gerrard in action.

It's not like J's in the doghouse or anything at the present stage (he partly made up for his sins by taking me out to dinner last night), but he's stupidly given me a lot of ammo to use in future fights which might well be about things much more important than Valentine's day.

Friday, 3 February 2006

Of Bacon and Buffy

OK, so in principle I'm against tagging, but since this is the first time I've actually been tagged, I feel it would be silly not to go with the flow.

Buffy; inoffensive at best, but you gotta love her
Plus, it's Friday and we should all be grateful that we've not been on any Egyptian ferries or published any drawings of Muhammed lately.

People demonstrating in London, where the drawings haven't even been published; I bet half of them haven't even seen them... Don't you people have jobs, or something?! It's in the middle of a weekday afternoon!

And remember, if you boycott Denmark you'll be using ugly coffe mugs and eating 2nd rate bacon for the duration of the campaign. And who'd want that...

Anyway, so here we go, as prompted by Overactive Imagination...

4 jobs I've had in my life

Substitute teacher
Psychiatric hospital night watch assistant
French hotel maid (yes, really)
Secretary for a handmade guns company

4 movies I can watch over and over

Leon (that's "the Assassin" to you Americans)
And that's it. I don't like watching films more than a few times over, if that. With so many new films to watch, who has the time?!

4 places I have lived

California, US
London, UK
Scotland, UK

4 places I have been on vacation


4 TV shows I like to watch

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
What Not to Wear
Programmes with David Attenborough in them

4 website's I visit daily

The blog I maintain with my friends
The BBC News website
My statcounter page
My gmail account

4 favorite foods

Quality crisps (I like paprika flavour especially)
Roast pork
Chinese crispy duck w/pancakes etc.
Home made caramel pudding

4 places I would like to be right now

In an asst. psychologist job
At J's place playing playstation on his bed while he reads the paper and bombards me with pointless news bites
At home with my friends and my parentsIn my living room which I rearranged last night, but haven't yet had the chance to enjoy

4 people I'm tagging with this meme

Right. I'm not tagging anyone.

Because I'm old and boring.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday, 2 February 2006

How it all began III :: HNT III (clever, eh?)

Did you not catch the budding stages of our romance? In which case, see here forhow it all began...

If you're here for nekkidness, skip the dross by clicking here

And if you're actually here to read the post, prepare to have your screen-reading attention span severely challenged...

Clearly, as winter moved along, the level of tension between J an me was starting to rival that of the Middle East conflict on a bad day.

Christmas was nearing, and on the last evening before I was leaving to visit my parents, he came over to hang out.

I guess somewhere inside I'd already decided to make the plunge, as the break would give me time to recover from any rejection and embarrassment that might ensue. Naturally I was in complete denial about this.

My flatmate, "Tim nice but dim", kept sitting in the living room and making inane comments about not knowing what to give his parents for Christmas. He wouldn't go away, in that annoying way which I think is ultimately the most common last drop in making people opt for morgages over freedom.

So we decided to go for a walk. We walked quite far, arms linked, all the way down to the bank of the Thames, it was freezing and just as we reached the river, it started to rain. Not heavy warm summer rain, but an icy drizzle that made its way into every fibre of your overcoat and made it ridiculously heavy.

Still, I hardly felt the cold, I kept sneaking looks at J's face, the water drizzling down his forehead and dripping from his dark eyebrows, across his (I imagined) incredibly soft lips, the upper one protruding ever so slightly further out than the lower one, giving his mouth an almost girly but in fact just downright sexy look.

We got back to the house, dried off a little and saw that to my (and I'm imagining our combined) relief my flatmate had finally retired to his bedroom.

We were sitting on the sofa, talking about music. J has a rather conservative taste in music, whilst I like to think I prefer indie rock. However I have a very large soft spot for pop music as well, and when I said I identified with Nelly Furtado's I'm like a bird, he started laughing out loud at me.

I leaned over to punch him, but being that close to his face I was simply sucked in by my own feelings and kissed him.

I still think of "I'm like a bird" as our song, even though it wasn't actually playing at the time.

It was one of those kisses that just seal the deal completely. I could feel my knees buckle even as I was half way stretched out on the sofa, and it really could have gone on forever with me starving to death in the process, and I would have thought it was worth it.

I could tell he felt the same way. There was a rawness and a hunger to it, I hadn't had sex for months, and neither had he, which probably contributed, but sometimes you just have good chemistry with someone. He pushed me over, pulled his shirt off and started undressing me.

To make a very long story short, leaving the details to your imagination, I blew him to the best orgasm he had ever had (I've obviously topped that many, many times since though...) and then we had sex in the morning.

And, some time late that evening, he told me again that he wasn't interested in a relationship, just a "fling". Part of me somewhere was hurt by that, but the vast majority of my brain was in denial, so I just went along with it.

Over the break we spoke on the phone for at least two hours each day. He would randomly call me and say he just had to hear my voice.

And I could tell he had doubts. "I feel so guilty," he would say. "I don't think I'm capable of feeling what you feel, you shouldn't be with me." Yet he kept phoning.

When I returned he picked me up at the airport. "How long will our fling be?" I asked. "Until the end of January," he said. "And even that is taking up too much of your time."

At the end of January we really did resolve not to speak for a while so he could make up his mind. It lasted about two weeks before I called him to talk. We spoke on the phone for about half an hour, and later on that day he called me back and said he wanted to come over to see me.

More legs... J likes them. But promise more fun bits next week

He decided to spend the night as he lost the last tube home by the time we'd finished talking (not reaching any conclusions of course), and I let him sleep on a mattress on the floor. He reached out his hand to touch me, and I was thinking how incredibly wrong it was not to be with him. He was holding my hand tightly, and eventually he sat up, leaned over and kissed me. I couldn't not kiss him back even though I sort of knew it would lead down a very long and winding road.

When his therapist told him two weeks later that he had to hang onto me at any cost, he decided to go for it and become my boyfriend.

And that, as they say, is how I became J's girlfriend.

A fitting post for our impending first anniversary...

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

How it all began II :: Fate intervenes (several times)

If you've not caught the story of the first stumbling steps of my acquaintance with J, you can read about them here.

After having managed to get his attention, quite a long period passed consisting of longing looks.

It's weird having a crush on someone in the office. For a while I actually thought I might have invented it just to get through my ridiculously boring job.

Top 10 Signs You Have a Crush on Someone In Your Office

  1. When you receive emails from them, you always read them immediately, even when the subject line reads 'Office fridge needs cleaning - any volunteers'
  2. You start thinking really carefully about what you wear to work every single day
  3. When you don't get to say goodbye to them on the Friday, it can ruin a whole bank holiday weekend
  4. You invent excuses to pass their desk
  5. You're spending disproportionate amounts of time hovering around the office common area in the off chance they might come along
  6. You attend office nights out with people you normally can't stand just in case your love comes along
  7. You start conversations about work with friends just so you can mention them
  8. You deliberately linger around the coffee machine to eavesdrop if anyone else mentions their name
  9. Going to work on a Monday morning doesn't seem so bad. Neither does the faulty air conditioning in the office or your hopeless manager
  10. You're in complete denial of all of the above

I didn't want to let on that I liked him unless I knew he was single, especially since we worked in the same office, but then on the other hand he was a very private person, so I couldn't figure out how to ask him if he was single without letting on that I was (really) interested.

But there was that kind of tension, where you just know something will happen between you and the other person, clichees would best describe it as 'electricity in the air' or 'magnetism'. We'd run into each other in the stationary room and the air would be so sizzling with tension that it's a wonder the ink cartridges there didn't catch fire and explode. Sounds ridiculous, but it's true.

Again, fate came to my rescue. One day I came into work and he wasn't there. Thinking he might have taken a long weekend, I didn't think much of it, although I was already at the stage where I was counting the days till next time.

The next day he wasn't in either. When I ran into his manager in the bathroom, she told me he was in hospital. I was quite worried, and wondering if I should phone him to see if he was OK, having cunningly managed to get his number when he was giving me the lift, but thought it would be a bit overly concerned.

The third day on, he was back at work, I ran into him and asked him what had happened. Basically he'd been at a friend's dinner party, where they'd tried to fix him up with a girl. He'd gotten quite nervous as she wasn't his type at all (yay!), and had inhaled a piece of food which had gotten completely stuck in his throat.

And so he'd spent three days in hospital on a drip because he couldn't eat or drink anything, before they finally managed to fish the bit of food out.

Poor J.

Although most importantly I had established that he was single.

So a week later I invited him over for dinner; we watched a silly film with my flatmates and sat up and chatted until four in the morning. I sat in a chair, he was in the sofa. He talked so much, and when I said he seemed very chatty he said it was very unusual for him. Which made sense as I'd never seen him actually having a watercooler conversation with anyone in the office.

Unusually for me, I was determined not to make the first move. I guess I sensed it might scare him off. I could tell he was dying to touch me, but not why he didn't go ahead and do it. In other words, the epitome of our relationship.

We started going jogging together, went to the cinema (where I was ridiculously horny the whole way through a crap film), he walked me home from office nights out but never kissed me.

Despite my best intentions to not make the first move, after months of this nonsense I'd reached the limit. I knew I might physically burst unless he either kissed me or explained why he didn't want to.

So one day when we were sitting in my living room, I asked him if he would ever be having sex with me. And he said no.

I was gutted. I couldn't understand it. I'm of the (not so modest) opinion that anyone who turns me down is either gay or an idiot. I'd established he was neither, so I really didn't get it. We got along like a house on fire, there was enough sexual tension to heat Birmingham through a cold winter and he couldn't take his eyes off me.

"But why," I said. "Don't you find me attractive?"

"Of course I do," he said. "I'm just not going to act on it."

But of course he wanted to be friends.

I got my way in the end though. Installment three of the saga will tell you how...

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