Monday, 30 June 2008

Running for life


racists
Originally uploaded by t. magnum
I did my first 5k run today. J was doing 10k, but I know my limitations and didn't go for that one. I have to say I felt it was a very wise decision as I waved at him doing the second lap of the course, having already finished. I took about 30 min and overtook at least four kids while running. An expensive jog, some might say, but it went to a very worthwhile charity so I felt good both on the inside and the outside afterwards.

I like doing things with J. We so rarely get the chance to do something together (although I realise that due to my lack of fitness we didn't actually run together..). After the race we went home, had some lunch and then went out to take photos. J is quite mystified by the settings on my camera, I have thought about it and might start him off on fully automatic settings next time.

He is asleep next to me at the moment, having given and received a back and legs massage to help recovery after the exertions earlier on. He really is the cutest, especially when, as now, he turns over on his back and splays his fingers out in front of him for no apparent reason. Maybe my typing actually disturbs him slightly.

I have been fighting today to stay positive. But I really do feel a lot more at peace, I have a feeling that things will turn out OK in the end. We went to see Prince Caspian in the cinema yesterday, and cheesy though it was, it served as a helpful reminder that maybe I fail to find peace because I have turned my back on God, or spirituality, or what you like to call it. It is difficult to live without faith. If only one believes, things usually fall into place, one way or another. So I shall go to sleep tonight and try to be at peace with myself, but not until I've said my prayers for something to happen to make it all OK.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Something to look forward to


Messy Bed B&W
Originally uploaded by fostere3
I get to have a lie-in tomorrow. Even better, I get to have a lie-in with J! We are both going to give blood sort of mid-morning, he has taken the morning off and will work through the evening instead, as I will be at work then at any rate.

It will be my first time. I'm a bit apprehensive. Historically I have never been afraid of needles or injections, but I've had some bad experiences over the past few years; Hep B immunisations which really stung, the cancer scare and subsequent hospitalisation two years ago, and I had bloods taken at work for screening a few days ago, I still have a bruise and it really hurt. Call me a wimp, I am not looking forward to it.

Still, I really do feel I should give blood. Everyone should. It costs nothing and it could save a life. I don't know what my blood type is, if it is rare or common, but I will do my bit if I can, though I guess I am secretly hoping they'll say I'm aenemic or something so I can't do it.

I look forward to it at the same time. J will be there, and I know he will support me and be proud of me. I really like the idea of him being proud of me, probably psychologically to do with how I felt like my father has never been proud of me for any of my achievements. Coincidentally I think my father will also feel proud when I tell him, though he might not express it very well. And afterwards we can have a sugary drink together (which will probably totally ruin the healthy eating drive I am on) and maybe even a quick cuddle before I head off to work. It is lovely to have a boyfriend, sometimes.

Waiting for the train to come...

People do strange things when waiting for the train. Some take the opportunity to do work, but most people appear to see it as some kind of little pocket of time in which they're entitled to stare into space, take account of their life and do absolutely nothing. In today's busy society I guess that is quite rare.

And because they have this little private break available, they do private things, like adjust their "very special but very private" (quote Technorati) parts, pick their ears, examine their iPods for ridiculously long periods of time, pick at invisible scabs on arms or hands, draw abstract art in the dust with their feet and so on. I love watching that, imagining what might be going on in their heads. If anything.

I was waiting for the train tonight after work, straddling my bike, helmet balancing on one handle and fiddling with my iPod in my pocket on the opposite side. The sun was just setting and the light was turning blue. A car pulled up on the car park behind me, casting my shadow across the empty tracks, throwing my life into relief; a woman behind a barbed wire fence, waiting for her train to come, waiting for something to happen.

A young black man pulled up on his bike behind me, I could tell there would be that tacit jostling for who would get to put their bike in the one bike space there always is on that particular train. I got there first and should in theory have first dips, or so the unwritten cyclist code states, I think. However some people will still try it on. He looked tired, was wearing a blue jacket and quite formal trousers, I was thinking maybe he too was coming from work.

A lot of the Africans I work with cannot for their lives understand why I want to cycle when I have a car available to drive (I hasten to add that this is not my car but J's which I am free to drive whenever I want; thus I can still virtuously say "I have never owned a car"). For some reason they just don't see the point. For them cycling and trains are modes of transport you use until you can afford to get a license and buy a BMW (most of them drive very flash cars considering their salaries). It's a matter of status, I think.

But I guess I feel the same about commuting as I do about life in general. It is so much nicer to get to work knowing you have spared the environment, toned your thighs, produced the vitamin D you need for the day and had time to relax and read the paper. Who wants to be stuck on the motorway if they don't have to?! The cycle to work if I don't get the train is just over an hour and I only do it for special occasions, but the train / bike combo is perfect.

And after a stressful shift nothing is better than freewheeling down the hill with the wind in my hair. Or at least the few tufts that stick out behind my helmet.

When I fulfill my dream of having a baby with J, I shall probably be driving more, at least for a few years. But until then, I see no reason to stop waiting for the train and start waiting for red lights to change.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Dance me to the end of love


Table Dancers Project
Originally uploaded by Jameel K
J was away all of last weekend on a stag do which was essentially a lap dancing club crawl through Prague, only punctuated by some heavy drinking and bruise inducing paintballing.

It was J's virgin time at any kind of nude sex worker venue, and quite intriguing for him I think. He said he found it arousing to begin with, but that it grew a bit old after a while. Or in the words of one of my colleagues, "I'm sorry, but the sex workers in Prague just aren't that attractive." Do I believe him?

The bride to be of course knows nothing about this. I find it quite satisfying that I always end up knowing these things about stag dos etc. that the other girls don't. I don't know why they find it so upsetting. If a man is gonna stray, he will, and there's not much you can do about it. OK and there's the feminist argument but I can't do with entering into that at the moment.

It's not that late but it is a little. J is already asleep next to me, eyemask on and earplugs in. It's a necessity when one a) lives near a heavily trafficked road (where the hell are all these people going who drive around really fast at, like, 0330 in the morning on a Sunday) and b) one is flat sharing with people who decidedly don't have party bladders. Also, when we cuddle in the morning, I put my eye mask on my forehead to protect me from his stubbly chin. Very useful, I tell you. He is very cute right now, and his feet are occasionally twitching in that adorable way which occasionally keeps me awake and probably means he's dreaming about football.

For me, the lap dancing extravaganza (to the tune of about GBP500 I believe; all the other participants are bankers in the city) worked to remind me that first of all, J can find other people attractive. He's both very unobservant and also very polite so never looks at other women when we are in public. I'm telling you he's the one. Secondly, I was reminded that other people could find him attractive.. He was telling me about this dancer being all over him, and although it is her job, it was a useful hint that, you know, he is a lot more attractive than the average British male, not to mention than the average sleaze bar customer. OK so they're not all hideous but from my personal visits to such venues I have been less than impressed.

Which, all in all, made me quite jealous, actually. Of course this lead to me being ridiculously horny for days on end, but poor thing, I forced him to intercourse when he returned having slept about four hours all weekend, and this evening he just begged to be let off the hook.

He is fast asleep now, his leg periodically twitching and his thumb stroking the duvet cover (it's my white sateen one, which he particularly likes), probably thinking it's either slinky underwear on a stripper or my tummy, which he often gives a very similar treatment. It's nice to be jealous sometimes, it reminds me that I should never take him for granted.

Oh, and of course he claims he didn't have any private dances.. Yeah, what ever.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Swimming

Life always seems better after a good swim. Today I am going back to work for the first time in about three weeks, I have been off on holiday with J and also went home to see my parents for a very rushed long weekend.

I really don't feel like going to work. I sense that I'll have a nervous breakdown if I don't succeed in finding a new job soon. I went as far as to turn to religion, while we were on holiday I went into one of the many magnificent cathedrals we visited and prayed sincerely for some direction. I put my fate in the hands of God, and said that I trusted that the path I am on is leading somewhere with meaning, that I am walking down this road full of clinically irritating psychopaths and megalomaniac managers for a reason. And I do kind of trust that life doesn't throw something at you that you can't handle. I felt better afterwards. Not like I saw the light or anything, but God or no God, I guess it is a way of cognitively rationalising life to oneself.

And I know that once I'm at work it will probably be so busy that I won't have time to think of how I'm wasting my talents walking around with a bunch of keys letting what is essentially spoilt brats into the laundry room and the patients property store every five minutes.

It is a lovely day today, nice and cool, a bit of sun, the water was very warm at one end of the pool, so I'm guessing the morning sun came in that way through one of the large windows. There are kids everywhere, I guess universities and colleges must have closed up shop for the summer, though the elementary school nearby is still going strong, I can hear kids playing through an open back door, and if I close my eyes I can almost imagine that they are on a beach, that the distant hum of traffic is the ocean.

So will God show me the meaning of all this? I am not sure. But I am waiting.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

So if I felt more sorry for myself I'd get published...

Juno. See, good. Not miserable.
J and I were discussing last week the merit of suffering in art.

We were watching the football (always fertile ground for discussions, especially since J, wishing to pay attention to the screen, tries to be as brief as possible in his debate, rather than going by his usual mantra "why use one word when ten will do"). Russia were winning which of course forced me to go on at length about what it is about the Russian people that makes them put up with God knows what amount of human rights abuses, corruption and an extremely badly dressed former KGB president.

Not to mention why they are intent on having their own facebook, their own blog platforms etc. etc.

Having exhausted these usual areas of exasperation, I went on to say that they seem to have some kind of suffering fetish as well. According to J's mum, Russians are so used to pain that it has become a way of life for them. OK, so the Soviet Union was quite harsh with Gulags, the aforementioned KGB etc. etc., but now they supposedly have a democracy and they are all just squandering it away by allowing the Duma's powers to be ever reduced and allowing the country's considerable natural resources line the pockets of the ridiculously rich whilst many still struggle to feed themselves and put a roof over their heads. The solution? Pander to racist nationalism and take it out on the "foreigners" whom were up until recently not foreign at all, but fellow Soviets, voluntarily or otherwise. Why do people put up with it? Are they scared, or do they simply not care?

Anyway, the discussion, punctured by Sweden's abysmal performance on the pitch, wound onto J arguing that at least Russia has punched above its weight in terms of science (yes, they did go to space..) and the arts (the Bolshoi are very good, I have to admit, they brought a tear to my eye several times and I don't even know anything about ballet whatsoever), maybe partly because of the pain.

"But would you argue that you can describe the complete spectrum of the human condition if you haven't ever been completely miserable," J asked.

I'm sorry. Oh purrlease. Suffering makes good art, you say? That's completely ridiculous.

Firstly, the "greatest", by which I mean most publicly reveered high art and literature, rarely comes from those whom I assume suffer the most, ie. those living under extremely deprived conditions, the underprivileged and undereducated.

No, it comes mostly from well educated self-indulgent people who sit around on their arse and have time to feel extremely sorry for themselves. It is so easy to create "art" from suffering.

Pain is an easy feeling to describe and to evoke in the recipient of the art piece. Just look around the internet, every second blog is written by someone who is a self-professed and most likely self-diagnosed depressive, or someone very angry, or just downright world hating. You hardly ever see any happy blogs.

Writing on the subject of happiness is seen as the domain of the self-help manual and dodgy self-improvement literature. But it's not. These books don't describe happines, they make a stab (usually in the dark) at describing how to attain it. And why? Because happiness is "boring". But how can we argue that happiness is boring? If it is, why do we all crave it?

I love nothing more than watching a good film which leaves me feeling uplifted and have faith in life. So why don't people create happy art more often? Because it's fucking hard, that's why. It is easy to depress your readers, it is nigh on impossible to lift their spirits (partly because they're miserable old buggers but that's a different matter).

So suffering makes great art? What-evvah. People write based on suffering because it's so hard to make happines materialise on the page or on canvas. And because it is so easy to make one self miserable, but so difficult to attain happiness. If it was easy, wouldn't we all just put art theory into practise and make ourselves happy?

Saturday, 21 June 2008

What a night can change

Photo by Losiek
It is raining outside today. Water droplets are lined up along the clothes wire outside like a pearl necklace on the blue nylon string. I was up until 0330 last night, doing nothing in particular, just enjoying being home alone and downloading sentimental crap from Limewire. At the very same time, unbenknownst to myself, my brother's girlfriend's waters broke.

He sent me a picture from his phone and called me at around 530 this morning. Everything went well, apparently. She started having strong contractions around 1900 last night, and they put some towels on the bed underneath her at home around 0230 in the morning, and then her waters broke a little later. They dashed off to hospital, only about a 10 minute drive from our house, in his brand new second hand estate car which he has bought for the occasion.

He said he had stayed with her almost the whole time, but that during the last pushing phase he had to step outside for a moment to gather himself. "There is just absolutely nothing you can do," he said on the phone, almost at a loss still. "And of course, to know that it is partly your fault that she is in so much pain." But needless to say, it was all worth it in the end. She was very brave and their baby girl and mother alike are both doing well and healthy. I will be calling my parents shortly. For the first time in weeks I felt very happy as I drifted back into sleep this morning, I felt strongly that I love my brother and as an extension of wanting to protect him, I also want to care for and protect his baby girl. It is a lovely feeling.

Friday, 20 June 2008

I was lying in the bath today, the bath curtains rustling out of the open window like a lover turning over in bed, still asleep, next to me. J is away on a stag do, which originally was meant to involve paintballing and lap dancing, but now has been cut down to only the paintballing, as apparently some of the guests complained about the costs.. Nothing to do with their partners complaining about the lap dancing, I'm sure.

I am alone in the house for once. Neurotic Flatmate II is off on holiday with her beloved mother, whilst her boyfriend (unofficial fourth flatmate of the house) is in the city of the university where he is purporting to be finishing off his PhD. He actually rang me today. A lovely chap he is, though unfortunately completely unattractive. So we are the four of us, J and Neurotic Flatmate II who are both linguists, and PhD and I who are both slaving away in very low paid jobs. The difference being, of course, that he has a bright future ahead of him in the oil industry, whilst I have a bright future ahead of me somewhere, though people fail to specify when I put them on the spot about it.

But back to the juicy lap dancers. Personally I wouldn't have minded J going. OK, so the thought of J fondling or kissing someone else drives me mad with jealousy, but to be honest, what I don't know can't hurt me. I would be hypocritical if I said that the thought of kissing someone else than him has never crossed my mind. I did tell him strictly no sex with Eastern European prostitutes, though. He said that was OK, and somehow I believe him. We are talking here of a man who has never been to a strip club. Even the one other time when he was offered a visit (another stag do, you will not be surprised to hear), he opted not to go and went to watch the rugby in a nearby bar instead. I am not making this up. Sometimes I really think my boyfriend might be gay. But of course he is not, or I would have known. I think.

It is hard to define exactly how I feel at the moment. I have been trying to listen to myself more, maybe the reason I find myself miserable so much of the time is that I never really stop to pay attention to what is actually going on in the present. I have always lived half with an eye on the horizon. But every time I stop to take stock, I find that I don't really know what I feel, except for anxious and this seething kind of impatience. I can't explain it, it feels like being hungry, though the feeling is not dampened by eating, which I've tried in the past but am now no longer trying, as I have decided I need to stop the excessive cheese eating which started during a recent holiday to France, and start eating... well, something else.

I have not blogged for a long time. I have not had the time nor energy. But maybe I should take the time to do so. I think it's good for me. Now where were those chocolate bisquits again...

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