Sunday, 19 July 2009


It is a privilege
To thirst for
That glass of cold milk
Kept in the fridge
Frosted by waiting
Slippery between
My dry summer hands
Marking the whiteness

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Language lost

The word eludes me,
sliding down the bannister surrounded
by phrases grinning
like idioms.

I grasp for it now,
hands encased in rubber gloves, yellow
fingering the black
iron skeleton
left behind.

Monday, 22 June 2009

The Mother

I have written about J's mother more extensively than I'd like to consider, in previous editions of this blog. However, never before have I had to endure her presence in my own house. This is largely because I have never owned my own home before, but also because we try to avoid her as much as possible.

This time, however, there was no mercy. I had snatched J away to a foreign land (as she would soon let me know), ruined his carreer and cruelly left her behind (as she would soon let him know), so we figured the least we could do was invite her over.

She wanted to come for ten days, but we managed to limit it to a week, and I also arranged to go and see my parents for the weekend, which cut back on the time I had to cope with her actually in my own home.

Of course, it was a disaster. For a closer description of J's mum, read either my previous posts on her, or the DSM-IV R diagnostic criteria for histrionic and OC personality disorders in a merry marriage.

When she landed, she was all smiles, saying how she loved my flat, the view from it, etc. etc. The next morning, however, her self-control had been stretched beyond its limits and the poison started seeping out from the crack of her tightly shut lips. Over the next few days she complained about:

The lack of comfort of our sofa bed
The fact that we didn't have a special piece of furniture for her suitcase to rest on
The price of food
The selection of vegetables in the shop
Quality of the town's museums and exhibitions
The fact that I wasted £13 on a wall decoration
That J and I speak English togehter, which impairs his language learning
Quality of the ice cream in the country (which she of course had not actually tasted)
The quality of the antiques displayed in a nearby shop
The bumpiness of the roads in the mountains
How her sightseeing tour was boring
Quality of the guiding on another tour

Before you think this was cancelled out by words of praise re. other things, this was not the case. She liked nothing. She did not want to eat out with us, she did not want to have coffee, and she actually didn't spend a penny on us the whole time she was here, until J pressed her to pay for a ticket to a sight she insisted we take her to see, so she could complain of how overrated it was. I am not saying that parents are money banks, but yes, actually they are.

My parents, in addition to kindly providing me with the funds to allow me to have a mortgage size compatible with full-time study, have also lovingly helped furnish my flat, and they have enjoyed being part of J and I building our home together, because they want us to be together, and this is one way of expressing that.

She brought some chocolate with her, though she probably knows perfectly well that I don't eat chocolate, but nothing for the house. She bought us not as much as a coaster, nor did she at any point express being happy because we are living together (when she arrived, it was the flat she liked, not how we have decorated it).

On top of this of course, she started several blazing rows with J, and I had to calm her down afterward, amid thinly veiled accusations that I have turned J against her. She called her son "a monster" and her young nieces "selfish and manipulative".

Of course, nothing is wrong with her, because, as she says, she did everything in his best interests. Unfortunately, doing one's best as a parent one can still damage a child beyond repair. I am of course hoping that J is at least partly repairable.

Then we travelled to see my parents. She first threatened not to come at all as J was being such a monster (his cardinal sin was to tell her that she was being very negative towards me), but I pointed out to her that my parents had made preparations and would be very sad not to see her (a total lie, but I wanted them to see what she is really like).

She then repeated her complaints there. My mother was gutted, convinced that they had been horrible hosts, as she doesn't have the expertise in dealing with personality disordered guests as I do. She asked me if she was being awful for not inviting J's mum back, as one normally does when a guest leaves. Naturally, I told her not.

So then it took me two weeks to piece J together after having been told he is a worthless monster who dares to oppose his mother. He is currently looking for a psychologist. I am tempted to write to her and ask that she covers the £70 per session bill. What does it help that he demonstrates being a loving partner, a dutiful and capable employee, a supportive friend, when those words ring in his ears every morning when he wakes.

But at least it is over for now, and we won't have to see her again for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The one I'm not

I live by the rules, she lives by her principles. Quite often they overlap, most of the time they don't.

I have gotten a grip of myself, I think.

And then something happens, something small, and I start dreaming of him again. Though the dreams have changed, too. Last night, we were sitting next to each other at a wooden table, his daughter playing on the floor in front of us, showing me things, looking up countries in a Times atlas. He is proud of her. He put two fingers over my hand, casually, and somehow I was contented, but there is still the longing.

Of course there is longing for pleasure, the kind of pleasure that fries your brain and makes you sit in the bushes outside someone's house for five days just to catch a glimpse of them. But that pleasure, I think I'm too old for it. I don't think my body could take it. Even these emaciated flashes of longing I get when I see him now, they stretch my comfort limits.

Longing for what? I know that the person I am longing for is not really him, it is the person he lets me feel that I am. She is beautiful, creative, she speaks in poetry and moves in mysterious ways, disappearing and reappearing like the hallucination of an oasis in the desert.

I am beautiful, and I write my poetry alone, though I sometimes hear his voice in my ear and turn around to see his shadow disappearing around the corner.

But also, when he speaks to me, of me, at me, I know I can do anything. When I'm on my own, I am not so sure. He makes suggestions I don't always follow, but they are suggested with such undying conviction. When he is there, I have to do that for myself, and it's hard.

My parents, of course, also think I could do anything I put my mind to. But they have no idea what I do all day. He does, and he still thinks I can do it. That really means something to me. Should I be able to do that for myself, is that an impossible demand to place on someone?

I long to be that girl again, because she is a girl, she is 19, and likes to spend her evenings curled up on a salvation army couch, reading long-lost old comics and drinking very milky tea with honey, and he whispers to her and looks up from his book and shares a quote, and he says how he loves it when she is enjoying something, because he thinks she has passion.

And that's it, too. I think I lack passion. My life is passionless. I know that I don't feel this intense desire and appreciation for many things in life, but I do feel them about words, words dancing with each other on the page, him the commentator relaying the highlights from the event.

J does not understand words. He counts their letters and remembers their meanings, but he has no appreciation of the way they move on the page, like loves, like the ocean, like fragments of a memory. And therefore, though he loves me more than he has ever loved another woman, he does not see that part of me, that longs to speak poetry and live an enchanted life.

No woman can go through her life being a princess, unless, of course, she is one. And when I look at her, the one I'm not, I know that the only way I can stay that way, kittenish, unflawed, sensual, is for someone who sees me once a month and doesn't see that I never tidy the living room, though I don't think he would much care.

And here's the rub. I want to be that girl, but I don't want the life I would have to lead being with him. I am not like the other woman. I have principles, yes, but intrinsically, I live by the rules and I like it that way. I want to have a nice house by the sea, where I can open the window and feel the sea air rush in, sit in a quiet place drinking iced tea with my top off, writing my poetry, putting toenail polish on my toes. I am not a rebel.

So I have to work even harder to find that 19-year old within myself, to nurse her, quell her insecurities on my own. Every morning, I must tell myself I am beautiful, and poetry will run from my fingertips.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Since the last time...

I have done a lot... Amongst other things, it was my birthday. It has been a long year. Since my surprise party last year, lovingly arranged by J, which was especially significant since he hates both parties and surprises, I feel I have come a long way.

At the moment, I am reading "High Fidelity" to J at bedtime, I like the way he snuggles into his duvet with his eyes closed and sniggers at a dose of good old British self-deprecation. And so, I shall sum up my last year as a list.

Since I turned 30, I have...

  1. Cycled 1327 km on my bike - yes really! Ten a day adds up in the end, it seems. This I can tell because a kind friend gave me a speedometer for my previous birthday. I recommend everyone get one, the calorie counter is totally inaccurate, but still motivates me.
  2. Bought my own place.
  3. Partly due to 2, I have almost fallen out with most of my family and probably am acting like a spoilt brat. Do I care. OK, I do care, just not right now.
  4. Become a student again.
  5. Made at least one new female friend, which I find hard, so pats on the back for that.
  6. Made J move countries. Now he is looking for a job, and though we bicker, I think we will pull through.
  7. Visited Normandie for the first time ever.
  8. Knitted. A lot.
  9. Blogged, then stopped, then started again, then...
  10. Subtitled the DVD release of a major US TV show (I am still working on this... eurrgh. If only it was a good one I actually could enjoy watching repeatedly).
  11. Rounded 1.4m neopoints. And counting.
  12. Began doing yoga and pilates at least once per week.
I really think that amounts to a year of major achievements.

The greatest achievement of this year is still to come. J is picking up his mother from the airport. If you don't hear anything from me for a while again, it's cause I'm recovering.

Friday, 27 March 2009

New flat, and fabulous too!

It is always nice to return home to blogland! Especially when such pleasant surprises await. The lovely Ribbon over at Mindscene awarded this to me.

Her blog, like her, is thoughtful and always makes me smile, do give her a click! And I am very grateful for the award! Thanks lots!

I would have loved to pass it on straight away, but I just don't have the capacity to make that kind of difficult decision at the moment, I am surrounded by cardboard boxes, unable to locate any food, and I have to build a bed from IKEA before I can get any sleep!

Watch this space, though..

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Opening Skinner's box

This is probably the book that made me realise I wanted to become a psychologist. I haven't had the heart to get rid of it, despite numerous house moves since then..
I have been slightly on the absent side of things lately. Life has been so busy that not even I have been able to squeeze in any private time for blogging.

Today I packed my last boxes (there are 15 of them, most of them dragged across the North Sea by J, which is a rather admirable amount of manual labour for a man like him) and tomorrow... I move into my new flat.

I will be living on my own until J arrives next week, and we will be together again. I am really looking forward to it, not in a nervous and giddy way, because I know we will argue, but also that we can handle those arguments.

I look forward to it in the sense that I will feel like my life is falling into place.

It will be fantastic to paint the walls any colour I like, but it would not be right unless J was there.

We have now spent the best part of eight months apart. It doesn't seem that long, with all the Skyping and visits every few weeks. But it is not the same as living together, being able to bicker over who reads what part first out of the weekend papers, and coming home to dinner hot on the table after a long day.

Even so, I am also looking forward to the few days I will spend on my own before then. I have never lived on my own before.

Meanwhile, I have also passed all the mini-courses at university for this semester. Only the main exam left, in a couple of months. So I hope to find some more time to write, sing, bake and knit.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Should I worry? Well, I do..

I'm slightly worried about an old friend of mine.

No, actually, strike that. I am at least moderately concerned.

Last Saturday, I went to his house along with a bunch of other people. He loves having visitors, partly because he is too lazy to visit anyone. But he is a good host, so people always gather round his place.

When I arrived after dinner, he was already drunk. This in itself is I guess not worrying, as many young men like to spend most of Saturday evening in varying degrees of stupour. His girlfriend, also well into her nth beer, said something about him warning all earlier on that the evening looked like a slippery slope.

Now the thing is, by no means was he the only drunk person there.

What worries me happened as I was leaving, and saying goodbye to him, some time after midnight.

He walked me, or that should be stumbled me, to the door, out of sight from his girlfriend. Then he took my hand and said extremely sincerely, almost soberly: "Take care. You are such a beautiful person."

Which is exactly what his mother used to say when she got really drunk.

Which was like, every evening.

Yes, his mother was an alcoholic. I remember when we first knew each other, and she was in her late 30s, it was not so bad, she drank what I would call too much, but limited it to weekends and when she was off shift.

I couldn't pinpoint an exact point where it tipped into an unsustainable lifestyle, but at some point it did.

She started being very, very drunk. Very, very often.

Sometimes she would stumble into his room in the middle of the night, not realising the time, and start ranting away.

And always, she would grab your hand and tell you how beautiful you were.

This scares me.

As a psychologist, I know that having an alcoholic mother seems to predispose you to alcoholism.

I know my friend's life is pretty stressful. He has her to contend with, as well as a sister who is a drug abuser. And he has a very emotionally demanding job.

I don't know why his girlfriend doesn't intervene. Though she has not known him as long as I have, she most likely knows his mother better than I do at this stage.

I know that I am pretty uptight about drinking habits, but surely something isn't good when you are over 25 and still feel the urge to get very drunk as soon as the work week is over?

He drinks more when his mother drinks more. He worries for his life. It's all a bit absurd.

I am unsure what to do. I feel that it is none of my business, and as far as I can see, the drinking doesn't interfere with his ability to go to work, take care of his kid or socialise with us or his partner.

Yet I feel uncomfortable. I am worried that I will look back, years from now, and wonder why I said nothing.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Broken tracks of music for my dear Guardianista

I thought of you this morning when I was wrapping my lunch in clingfilm before heading over to school.

Your voice came in the kitchen window, from the pissing rain hitting the window.

It said, "Cling film? Have I taught you nothing?" and was accompanied with a very raised eyebrow.

And I thought of you yesterday when I was reading this article on education in the Guardian.

In the very heated comments section, someone used the word "Guardianista" as a term of abuse, in the same way that "socialist" is used as a term of abuse by certain sections of society in the US.

As if wanting equality over the right to prep your kid from age 4 for entry to an Oxbridge education is something really, really bad that only evil people do. But I digress.

I thought of you. A Guardianista. That's what you are.

When you were younger, you lived in a commune, had long hair and played the guitar.

Now, after the mother of your child tragically passed away from cancer, you live on your own with your teenage baby, who is of course no longer a baby, though you still ring her from work every morning to check that she's got up in time.

You are all middle-class with a doctorate, and you hold a respectable job in a respectable company (all Guardianistas must be respectable).

You bake your own bread. You have a pottery wheel in your garage. You recycle as if it were a religion, and hardly ever drive. You make slightly lame but very endearing art for people's wedding presents, though you sniff at the thought of marriage, saying you and your partner lived happily ever after without such a "borgeouis" institution to bind you in its shackles.

You still play the guitar, and you sing. Beautifully*. Of course, you have a radio voice. I love radio voices.

Once, you tried to learn how to knit. I think it failed disatrously, though you still have some of my size 8 knitting needles, if I remember correctly.

You would rather cut off a hand than vote Tory, though if it were on your daughter's life, you'd probably just about manage.

In short, you are a lovely, ex-hippie middle class, middle age, extremely handsome male specimen.

When I started out as a journalist, you were my mentor. I was terrified of you. In fact, everyone was terrified of you. You would snap at everyone, at all times, for no good reason. You had no patience for mediocrity. But you have mellowed over the five years we have known each other. At least a little..

You already had grey hair when we met, although you were not yet 50, and I think this gave you an extra scary air of authority. Not to mention you were just about the only person there with some actual broadcasting experience. You could write, you were uncompromising. I bet you have 50 unfinished novels in your bedroom drawer.

As we learned to know each other, we made the mentor thing into our private little joke. Every time something significant happened in my life, when I told you, you would exclaim: "But how could you not tell me this immediately? I'm your mentor, for God's sake!" Though clearly, being a good former hippie, you don't believe in one.

You thought I was talented. I believed you.

You were my office crush. In the way every schoolgirl has a crush on their father, and later a teacher, I had a crush on you, you were everything my own father wasn't, intelligent, well-read, understanding, fiercely idealist even as you approached 50. And, of course, you read the Guardian. I could tell you everything, and you would always know what to do.

You also mentored J. When J and I first got to know each other, and had hardly anything in common, you were an object of common affection, and you still are.

In fact, if it weren't for you, J and I might not be together. When our relationship was struggling through its breech birth, you sat me down and told me not to give up. "You are so young, you think it will never be too late, that you can make that move again, another time, that you want to wait. But it's not like that. It's now or never." I remember it clearly, and so I jumped, and I haven't regretted it since.

When I left the workplace, you wrote me a song, which can only be described as a love song, and you sang it on stage in front of all the people at my leaving do. It was a rewrite of a Dylan song, I think, and the lyrics said something about the light being taken away from you.

You held a speech too, thanking me for bringing light into the office. And I hope, your life. It was a weird and wonderful feeling, because I felt that you could see me, as I really am, stripped, even as I was sitting in front of that crowd unwrapping my leaving gifts and helplessly listening to your music.

Soon, your child will be out of school, and you will no longer be shackled to that meaningless job which I know grinds you down a little bit each year.

I hope you grow your hair and travel around the world with your guitar, writing songs that make women feel like a bright star shining against a very dark sky.

*If you want to imagine what this singing might sound like, think Giles in Buffy singing at that coffee place. In fact, I might have headlined this post "my dear Watcher".

Thursday, 5 March 2009

I feel a bit fat

Oh my god, I am turning into a girl blogger. Right now I just have this massive urge to write a whole blog post about how ashamed I feel about my eating patterns.

As I was leaving school today after a whole fun day of data entry (I will never be able to get the questions from that questionnaire out of my head), my colleague student asked me jokingly where I was having dinner today.

The thing is, you see, I haven't had dinner at home for like, two weeks. It's shameful. I'm a poor student, meant to live off pot noodles. Yet there I am, having my hot meals at GBP10 or so a piece. Shameful. There's no other word for it.

So as I was walking home today, I started planning my dinner in my head.

I would make a curry. Yes, a proper tomato based chicken curry, from scratch. This would simultaneously be relatively healthy, and also help empty cupboards ahead of my pending house move (I allow myself a small self-celebratory "YAY!" here).

And so I did. I have made a lovely chicken thigh thing with peas, which I love, and that luxury garam masala powder I got for Christmas. I defrosted some home made tarka daal from the freezer and microwaved some properly rinsed and soaked Basmati rice.


As we all know, curries have to sit around for a while and simmer and do their thang.

That's when I spotted the large bag of crisps I'd carelessly left on the table earlier.

I was going to have just a few while waiting for dinner and surfing some blogs.

Unfortunately those particular crisps have a lot of MSG on them and are totally un-quittable once one has started.

So now I have a lovely curry on the cooker, and 100g of crisps in my tummy (that is an estimate, but that is like 5 portion bags of crisps..) and I am not at all hungry. Agggh!! How could I be so stupid!! That is like 500 calories, which is the same as cycling to school and back at least 3 times. And now I have to wait for about an hour before I have the curry and my eating patterns will be all messed up.

I wasn't going to give anything up for lent this year, but now it's clear. I am giving up crisps. After I finish the rest of the pack, obviously.

Couldn't just let them go to waste...

Oh, and while you're here, my curry recipe is as follows:

1 tin tomatoes
2 onions, finely sliced
Brown mustard seeds
Garam massala
Bay leaf
Tabasco (ran out of chillies)
1 tin dried peas (for some reason I prefer these to fresh, weird, I know)
Black pepper, ground
Dash of possibly off cream I found in the fridge
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Extra cumin seeds

It seems to have turned out quite well. Should have had some ginger in it, but I think I'm out of that too. At least the cupboard emptying project is working. And I can always take some curry for lunch tomorrow in school.. Sigh again.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Cute cuff!

Life before an exam for me is basically eating... knitting... reading... sleeping... repeat. Obviously I try to do most of the eating in company so that I don't completely lose the few social skills I actually have.

Now I can use these to alleviate the pain from the RSI which I acquired knitting them..
This weekend I went to my friend's birthday party, a quiet affair with lots of cake, coffee and later, erm, beer.

At any rate, I felt inspired by the coffee and cake to finally finish my wrist warmers, and so I have knitted my first ever pair with no pattern! Aren't they cute..

I had to redo half of the last one as apparently the exam stress had made me knit it waay more tightly than the first one, which was a bit d'oh, but otherwise I am quite pleased.

The weather here today is grey, and it was yesterday as well. I spent an hour in front of the daylight lamp when I got up, but still feel a bit groggy.

I'm especially pleased with the shaping around the thumb
My plan for the day is to look over my notes a couple of times, as well as flick through the book we're being tested on.

This is not something I usually do, as I always find something I don't know which makes me panic, but for some reason I feel the urge today.

So I will head out of the house after I've showered.

And tidied my room.

And baked some bread.

And maybe started another knitting project... Hmm...

I think being deprived of pink during childhood has had an adverse effect on my taste in wool..
But at any rate: Here is the pattern for the wristwarmers, should anyone want to copy!

Woolly Wrist Warmers

You need:
One ball of Rowan 4-ply soft, or any other similar. Double-ended needles to match, I used 3mm.

Beware that I have really little hands and arms, and even for me, 40s for the cuff is a snug fit.

You might want to add another 4 s to the whole recipe if you aren't as petite as I am :op

Cast on 40 stitches.

K2, p2 around and around until you have a 13 cm long cuff (I did that weird thing where you knit the k stitches through the back loop for extra elasticity, but I don't think you'd have to).

Shape space for hand:

1st row: Make up one at the beginning of the row, and knit to end.

2nd row: Knit to end.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 a further 5 times, until you have a total of 46s.

Shape opening for thumb:

1st row: Cast off 4. Slip one knitwise, knit one, pull slipped stitch over (or k2 together if you're not fussed). Knit to 2 last stitches. Knit 2 together. Total of 40s.

Change to straight needles (I used the same ones, I just stopped knitting in a ring).

2nd row: Purl to end (the point where you cast off 4s).

3rd row: Slip one knitwise, k 1, pull slipped stitch over (or k2 together if you're not fussed). K to 2 last stitches. Knit 2 together. Total of 38s.

4th row: Purl to end

5th row: K to end.

Change to double-ended needles.

6th row: Continue from end of 5th row into 1st stitch of next row to close the thumb opening. Cast on 2 at the beginning of the row. Total of 40s.

Shape top: Rows 1-5: Knit to end.

Rows 6-10: K2, p2.

Cast off.

Weave in tails. The end!

And this can, as I have scientifically tested in a party lab, be done while drinking. Just not too much..

To make up the other one, reverse shapings when you shape the hand and thumb opening.

Hurrah, warm wrists for the rest of the winter.. Although technically speaking it is now spring, they look so cute in their pinkness I think I'll be wearing them anyway.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

My boyfriend, my bookchair

Earth Hour 2008
Originally uploaded by Baranka
For the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me.. A book chair!

OK, so I'm quickly turning into Ciao! here, but I was just doing some studying at the same time as really missing J, and looking at my book chair and thinking how much I appreciate them both.

One of the few things J and I both like doing, is reading out loud to me. J likes reading out loud, and I like listening.

I love the sound of his voice. I have always been seduced by people with good voices, maybe it is a byproduct of working in the media, where you are always judging people as to whether they'd sound good on Radio4.

I also love being read to. I think it comes from distant childhood memories of nesting in the sofa next to my mum, while she read me the works of Astrid Lindgren and Maria Gripe.

My father would also occasionally try to read to me, but he is mildly dyslexic and by the time I was four I could read faster than him, and typically for a child showed no mercy in correcting him whenever he would falter or read anything wrong. It hurts me now to think of. Nobody told me that he had a reading and writing disability. Only as an adult I've realised this was the case, which also explains a lot of his other cognitive oddities. But I digress.

There is something incredibly intimate and seductive about lying naked next to someone, smelling their skin and feeling their voice caressing its way into you. I won't say it's better than sex, but it certainly beats watching TV.

J is an amazing reader. I think they practised that kind of stuff at his posh school when he was little, or something. He does accents and voices, and his own voice has a deep, velvety feeling to it. Oh joy.

Whenever I am tired or depressed, I ask him to read something to me; poetry, novels, articles from the Guardian or the New Statesman, whatever. He could probably read me the phone book and it would still be enthralling. It calms me down within minutes.

When J is depressed, he likes talking about himself. Lots. I guess that comes with years of therapy as well as being a slight ruminator by nature. When I have a lot on my mind, I am like Scarlet O'Hara. I don't want to think. Not until tomorrow.

So when J gave me the book chair, it really meant something to me. It is like he is there, holding up the words for me, even in his absence.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Light and placebo effects

It looks sorta glamorous in a plasticky way
Yesterday morning while I was having my breakfast, I switched on Mr Vain's Energylight.

Mr Vain suffers from a lot of imaginary defects etc. For instance, he thinks he has a chronic sinus infection, that he is too skinny and must work out lots and that he needs to take lots of protein supplements and other expensive things like ginseng and various seal oils.

One of his imaginary defects is that he can't sleep at night, which is probably because he goes to bed at like 2130 every day.

Mr Vain himself, however, thinks it is due to the lack of daylight which we suffer here up north.

So he has bought himself a Philips Energylight, which sits on our breakfast table, in front of which he positions himself in a little halo of white light every morning over his espresso.

Yesterday, when I had breakfast, I switched it on because I was too lazy to walk across the floor to the proper lamp. Hurts the eyes a bit, gives a reflection in my laptop, but all in all a functional if not cosy morning light.

And last night, you know what happened?

I felt sleepy. Really sleepy. At 2200 in the evening. So I managed to get to bed by 2300 and slept like a log until this morning. This never happens. My cortisol levels are waaay up there at the moment and usually I'm up till 0100 or so cause I just don't feel that tired.

But, I am now waiting for my eggs to boil again (when only one end floats, that means they're OK, right..?). It is foggy outside today, so foggy that the ocean below seems but some irregular flickering variation in a bucket of gray paint, and the sun is nowhere to be seen although it is already past 0900 in the morning. The lamp is on. Placebo effect or no, I'll take it.

I know of course that light therapy has been clinically proven to help people with SAD and delayed sleep phase disorders, but I have never really thought it had an effecdt on just "regular" people. I take myself as a clinical case study that it apparently does.

And no, Philips are not paying me for this post! Don't knock it till you've tried it..

Monday, 23 February 2009

Arranged marriage? How about some arranged divorce..

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

A quickie on a Monday morning before class.. Exams are but a week away and I'm in a slight panic. No more blogging this week from me.. Yeah right.

At any rate. As you probably know, CA voted last November to limit the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples, thereby outlawing gay marriages.

According to the Californian constitution, all these kinds of decisions are implemented immediately, and one can no longer get married there unless one has the right mix of genitals in the couple. There is also danger that the conservative wing will press to have gay marriages annulled which were started while they were still allowed.

I have lived in S. CA and seen how incredibly conservative they are there compared to further north in the states (like, say SF), but I was still negatively surprised by this outcome.

According to Wikipedia, the campaign for and against Proposition 8, the amendment in question, gathered $39.9m and $43.3million respectively, making them the most expensive campaign of the election apart from those of the actual presidential candidates.

I won't go into the arguments of either side, as I'm sure you can imagine for yourself.

Of course, being in the US, people have not just shrugged and allowed themselves to be forcibly divorced. The courts are working on three pleas to have Proposition 8 anulled, though they refused to postpone its implementation. The hearings will take place on 5 March.

Which is after my exam. Eeeek!!!

Meanwhile, cross your fingers for me and the gay couples, watch this video and be touched. And of course, if you are in the US, sign the petition at Courage Campaign.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Sunday people

Jenny said the other day that spring has sprung over in the UK, and I was very jealous for a day or two. Especially cause she gets to grow tomatoes.

But now, I think spring has sprung here too! I went to a friend's house this morning for a lovely fry-up (I talked her into eating beans in tomato sauce with it, which she hadn't had since university, it was thus a big day for me culinarily speaking) and afterwards we went for a walk.

It's a really misty day here today. When I look out of the window, I can't even see the mountains on the other side of the fjord.

The ocean can just about be made out below, it is nearing in on dusk and the light is turning blue.

It is beautiful, especially since I can admire it all from the inside and don't have to contend with 4 degrees celsius drizzle penetrating every nook and cranny. A bit like an episode of the X Files, but with no aliens. X Files was much better when there were no aliens.

When we went for our walk earlier to admire houses and plan the interior design of my new flat (it has an original 50s kitchen, which is quite exciting but challenging), my friend suddenly stopped and pointed, it turned out the first snowdrops of the year were blossoming alongside the road. It was a photo op, and I felt so uplifted afterwards.

Every spring it is incredible to me how life just bounces back into nature, and I had almost forgotten how it is even more warmly welcomed up here where it comes so hesitantly and usually so late. But global warming is doing it's thing, and I have to admit that sometimes I enjoy the earlier sight of spring.

We came back to my house, dried off, had lunch and tea and played board games with Mr Vain and another friend who dropped by. What better Sunday could one ask for.

Turning point

Write about how you noticably changed after a particular turning point in your life.

I've decided to follow a blog called The One-Minute Writer, which gives a daily writing prompt that you have 60 seconds to answer to. Today's promt was called Turning point.

Good thing I can do 90+ wpm!


My gay ex broke me.

Not in the way you break a vase, and then you put it together again.

More like you smash a window, and after that the house is always a bit drafty.

Sometimes, these days, I doubt myself. I doubt other people's intentions, thoughts.

I used to never doubt.

He broke me, he broke me in, he loved me.

I thank him for that still.

Friday, 20 February 2009

I have a home!!!

Of my very own! For the first time ever!

It all happened so fast I haven't quite realised it yet, and in a daze I've now spent the best part of 4 hours (!!!) surfing the internet and redesigning my blog instead of studying. I am really happy with it (the blog) though, so it wasn't a complete waste.

My new flat-to-be is not a dream property, I had visions of period details and high ceilings, but I think it will be very cosy once both J and I are in place. It has one bedroom and a separate kitchen, and even a little balcony which catches the morning sun and boasts a sliver of a sea view. Not bad for a first time buyer!

J spotted an ad for this apartment on an online property site about a week ago when he came to visit me. I was not completely hot on it, but agreed to go along to look at it, despite the fact that it's very near the red light district in town, to the extent that a town this small can have one.

Flat buying is not like in the UK where you get personal treatment by the agent. Oh no. Everyone is invited to a communal viewing at a set time, and the buyers get to eye each other up and aggressively knock on walls and squint at windowstills, usually attempting to expert each other out.

Then you will put in your bid, and if there are several interested people, there is always a bidding war.

So I went to see the flat in question yesterday. It was in the evening and quite dark, but near the building I spotted a viewing sign, of the kind that is put outside for viewers to guide them in.

I ran into another guy who asked me if I was there for the viewing too, and when I said yes we got the lift togehter. There were several other people in the flat we came into, but strangely I could see no agent. Sometimes, however, the seller will do the viewing themselves to save money.

I did think it was a bit strange that the flat looked so different than in the photos, but I've looked at a lot of flats lately and assumed I got two mixed up.

It was only when I realised that the girl who greeted me was actually the tenant, that it dawned on me that I was in the wrong flat! This was a neighbouring viewing for a flat which was for rent, not for sale! D'oh...

By the time I got to the flat which was actually for sale, the viewing was over.

Feeling quite bad about this, especially since J liked the looks of this flat so much, I rang the agent first time this morning. She told me someone had already bid about 90 per cent of the asking price the evening before, but agreed to show me around this evening.

When you put in a bid it is good for 24 hrs. In other words, if I wanted to bid, I had to do it straight away, before the other person's bid expired.

And when I came into the flat, it grew on me. Spacious bedroom with built-in wardrobes, lots of light in the living room, spanking new bathroom... I decided to go for it. A third person joined in the bidding last minute (people have learned from their eBay experience, you can tell), but in the end I prevailed and got the flat below the asking price with fridge and cooker thrown in.

I feel almost deflated. I've really just had so much stress with this house buying thing, from my parents, J and the bank, that I am mostly just relieved that it's over.

I haven't quite started fantasizing about what I can do with the flat, but I can feel a ridiculous IKEA trip coming on... My parents have promised to drive over, bringing my stuff and any old furniture from their house that I might want.

And of course, I can't wait to tell Mr Vain that I'm leaving him behind. Moving in looks to be at the end of March, just when J gets here.

So I am finally growing up. Just hold on a minute while I get a paper bag to hyperventilate in.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

150 things to do in life... An update

While going through my archive re. the anniversary of J and I, I found the following list from October 2006.

Basically, bold the bits you've done and pass it on.. For the update, I've highlighted the stuff I've done since last time in red. I think I've made fair progress, even though it has only been a couple of years.

Oh, and use the rich text editor to do this.. Took me a while to figure that one. Six years of University education and still. Nice one. So come on, you know you want to.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game - it was even an American Football one!
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger - No, but I've been asked out by one... Does that count?
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had/Have amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip - in California. It was great!
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight - Well. I played WoW in 2008. A lot.
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the snake river
82. Been on television a news programme as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in a Rocky Horror Picture Show
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived - almost bled to death on holiday
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds - Money, not weight.
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a TV game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school - highly recommended!
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read “The Iliad”
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Empty Classroom

Empty Classroom
Originally uploaded by Max Klingensmith
I am sitting here with my empty classroom and feeling a bit lonely.

The kids of today, eh? It turns out that they don't actually have to be present for classes. At all. As long as they turn in their assignments and pass their exams, they still, er, pass.

So today the task for them was to make a TV news report. First they complained a little because they've done that "tons of times" already.

I pointed out that this is a little like saying you've already written an essay this year. Each story is something new, each time you're meant to apply what you've learned meanwhile.

Since they went out to do their thang, hauling their tripods and expensive cameras I hope not into the rain I can hear hitting the skylight, I've been in here on my own.

One group chose to go home instead of doing the work, saying they will do it Tuesday morning instead. I feel a bit nervous. I can't hold them here, but I am not looking forward to having to give them a big telling off next week if they haven't done any filming.

And the vain part of me feels rejected (she says dramatically, as the rain on the skylight crescendoes to match) when they leave instead of doing the work I've assigned for them.

I don't think I have the guts to be a teacher.

I guess being a student myself I remember too well what it's like to be 17 and sick of everything to do with school, and to not have the experience to understand that these may well be the best days of your life, when food grows in the fridge and you get a half price bus card and can go almost anywhere.

My ego is too fragile.

Oh, here is the one group which has dutifully and, dare I say it, enthusiastically, carried out most of the task they were meant to. The weather means that they can't really take their camera equipment outside, but at least they did what they could in-house.

Should I take this lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the class as a personal slight, or is that just the youth of today?? All I want is for the class to adore me and enjoy every second they get to spend in my company... But I see how that can be a bit much to ask.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

My lecturer was so boring I started another knitting project

Yesterday I went to this lecture which was so boring I decided to start a new knitting project especially for the occasion.

The lecture was of the kind where the lecturer is really condescending towards the students at the same time as reeling off direct quotes from his powerpoint slides, which he clearly hasn't updated in years. And the powerpoint slides? Taken directly from the support web site of the main course text. Like we couldn't have read that for ourselves.. He totally discourages debate in class and cuts short any answers he doesn't like with a "that's wrong!". How ironic that he should be lecturing in psychology..

This morning, only about a third of my class showed up. This is really unusual. It is difficult to get into my course, and the people who do get in are really conscientious and usually always attend.

The lecturer actually remarked on it, saying "so, there aren't very many of you. Is anyone expecting anyone else?"

Nobody said anything, but I really wanted to raise my hand and say that actually, people couldn't be arsed going out in the crappy weather because your lectures are shit and you treat the students with complete disrespect.

Of course I said nothing, but instead protested by knitting through most of the class in plain view. It was really satisfying, though I also dutifully took notes so didn't get that much done as you can see.

I am trying this new technique where you knit the knit stitches "backwards" to create an extra loop on them. Apparently this makes the ribbing more elastic? I have no idea, but I like this wool.

The story of the wool is that I spotted a lady knitting it, label-less, on a train to London just before I left England. I had to ask her what she was knitting, and then I made J go on an excursion to buy me some before one of his visits.

J went to his fave store, John Lewis, and picked out three lovely aubergine and pink colors. So I guess I should knit him something for his troubles, but I don't see him wearing pink, so might as well knit something nice for myself!

Tomorrow I am boycotting the lecturer completely and doing some data entry instead. And probably some knitting..

Tuesday, 17 February 2009



I have managed to get the Commentluv widget to work on my blog! I think... I saw it on this other Wordpress blog I randomly came across, and discovered there is a hack to use it on poor old Blogger as well.

For those of you new to it, Commentluv is a fancy-schmansy comment gadget, which means comments display the commenter's profile picture, and also a link to their most recent blog post.

I love surfing from other people's blog comments, especially when the linked-to post is on something related. It really gives a feel for the way blogging discourse is constructed (you can tell I'm in the middle of a philosophy of science course, can't you).

For other bloggers who want to try to install this hack from the Commentluv page for Blogger users, the page itself has really detailed and clear instructions on how to do it. Here are some extra tips from me on troubleshooting, based on my own experience trying to do this:

  1. Don't give up if it's difficult to export your comments to JS-Kit. If it crashes, clear your cache and try again, and make sure you fully allow javascript and cookies for the JS-Kit page. It took me aaages before it worked as all my 671 comments had to be exported to Commentluv first, which made something crash tons of times, but in the end it worked.
  2. Make sure you really do what it says on the Commentluv page in your JS-Kit settings.
  3. Don't accidentally delete the widget with the Commentluv identification tag in it while changing your template. This seems to mess up the process.
  4. Make sure javascript is fully allowed for your own page when you are checking if it works!
I love it when it turns out that Blogger's free service can be enhanced with bells and whistles which makes a paid-for blogging service redundant.

Though I am sure it is only a question of time before Google either buys Commentluv or develops their own equivalent code, making Commentluv redundant for Blogger and probably sending them bust in the process. The evilness of large corporations, I know..

Monday, 16 February 2009

Fourth anniversary musings

This blog used to be entitled "J's Girlfriend". Now, four years on, the blog has been redesigned a dozen times, and moved on a few occasions, but I am still J's Girlfriend. Lucky me. The question is, as Ribbon recently asked, who is this J and how did we get together?

It is difficult to write our story in a way which doesn't make both of us come off as complete nutcases, but I tried. It is also difficult to condense into a readable length.. but we managed to do a 20 minute Hamlet in school, so I should be able to manage.

Then I looked in my archive and saw that I have actually written this all before, here, for our first anniversary three years ago. That account is better written, and funnier, and longer, than what I came up with today. I won him over with my blow jobs, I swear.

J has never read this blog, nor do I ever hope that he will. In fact, noone that knows me in person has ever read it. I feel safer in the ability to be honest about everything when I don't have to think what my clients and patients would think if they saw that sometimes I miss the vibrator I chucked out at the last house move. But to the point. Instead of telling the messy story of our beginning, which I actually realised I can barely remember now, I decided to pick out some highlights from our four years together, instead.

Sep 2005: J agrees to live with me (temporarily, of course..)
Jul 2006: J helps save my life on holiday
Aug 2006: We break up (for 5 minutes)
Nov 2006: I think I've had it (again)
Feb 2007: I need therapy
Feb 2007: ...and we go on a romantic city break
Mar 2007: I stop nagging J
Sep 2008: We do long distance

Now that I read this, I almost feel sad because I didn't blog more for the last few years when our relationship has mellowed out, we have lived togehter properly and been on some really fantastic holidays together where I didn't almost bleed to death.

I also feel incredibly grateful for all the bloggers who have counselled me through the rough patches, on a different level from what my friends have. Quite often around my friends I don't want to tell it exactly like it is, because I don't want to expose J in front of people he knows. I don't think they need to know that he didn't wank till he was out of his teens, for instance. But for me and our story that is an important fact. So thank you, bloggers, past and present, for all your support. Most of the people who saw the traumatic birth of what was to become J and me, are no longer around. But if you happen upon this, know that I haven't forgotten you.

And I guess that what J and I have today, is testimony to the fact that it was worth it all in the end. To illustrate, I include our most recent Skype conversation.

[00:27:18] JGF: I am reading the archive of my blog, and I just have to say, we have done really well to still be together. And our relationship really is a lot better than it was in the beginning

[00:28:16] J: Indeed it is - I feel a bit guilty I haven't done any jobsearching today but I have done some language learning and I am looking at property

[00:28:31] JGF: Aaaw. But you should go to bed (and so should I)

[00:29:07] J: I will soon - night night baby

[00:29:13] JGF: Hearts!

[00:29:19] J: Hearts back

[00:29:41] JGF: (inlove) emoticon

[00:29:58] J: (blush) emoticon

[00:30:12] JGF: YOU'RE SO CUTE IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!!!!!!!!!!!

[00:30:14] JGF: Ahem

I know, sickening, isn't it. But to the both of us, congrats for sticking it out and coming out on the other side, different but still together. Happy anniversary, my love.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

I'm in love!

Valentine's Duck
Originally uploaded by EltonHarding
Yes, really!

And the best kind of love to be in is with one's boyfriend. Please do not read this post if you are offended by nauseating displays of long-term affection.

J arrived at 0330 on Thursday evening, at which point I had already been dozing in bed for over an hour because I had to get up early for class the next day.

He was really knackered because he was still quite ill, and because of the three hour delay at Gatwick it had taken him ages to get to my house from the airport.

Poor thing. Hauling his ass all the way from the cesspit that is where we used to live together in England, and up north, where the winds are cold and the streets are like a slush puppie, no fun for a man with two suitcases containing 40kg of mostly my luggage.

Yet he does it. At least every three weeks, if not more often. Just to see me. As his manager so tastefully put it, "that's a long way to travel for a shag."

Of Valentine's day, see separate post. I think the verdict is that it was great. The whole weekend was great. This afternoon we went to have the best pizza in town and read the papers before he had to be off. The pizza was great.

As we came full stride down the slippery street to the bus stop, the airport bus had already pulled out into the road. I started waving both arms and jumping up and down, splattering passing old ladies with sleet and puddle backsplash, and to my amazement the airport bus driver was won over by this display of desperation and pulled over. Gotta love the Scandinavians sometimes.

So J kissed me on the lips, jumped in the front of the bus and then he was off, just like that.

The engineering works on his way home were for once not too bad, he had to change trains but no buses.

Which meant that he had time to call me just now to say that he likes me more than he ever has before and that he was quite glum on the bus because our goodbye was so abrupt and that he already misses me.

Although we have our differences, I realise that I have a boyfriend who tells me he loves me at least three times a day, who has just the right lips, warm, firm but soft, always available, who is intelligent, funny, hard-working and just a little neurotic to keep the fun going.

People get divorced, they cheat, they lie, they are generally arseholes. But on days like today, I think I would rather risk all that than having done the wise thing four years ago and run when I had the chance.

I know I said that I don't think I'll get lucky with that house, but right now I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, so never say never.

And to Ribbon, whom understandably was wondering who the heck this J is; I have decided to tell the story of us in one post, for our 4th anniversary which is coming up, I always forget the date but I shall write it and publish it when J says it's happy anniversary.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentine's Day 2009

On Friday evening, J and I had one of our usual arguments which went something like the following:

[Couple sitting in sofa in front of laptop between two episodes of The Wire]

J: Should we go to the cinema tomorrow maybe?
J'S GIRLFRIEND: That's a good idea. What do you want to see?
J: Hm... Dunno. Let's see what's on.
JGF [ opens relevant page on Firefox]: Foreign language... no... Desperaux... no... Angelina Jolie... Definitely no... Hm.. Brad Pitt... Hey, how about The Wrestler?
J: How about Frost Nixon?
JGF: Oh no... It's just gonna be men intellectually masturbating in front of each other in between backslapping and walking and talking. In other words, The West Wing on film*. And you know how I feel about the West Wing. And it'll be totally unromantic!
J [raises eyebrow a fraction]: What, like The Wrestler is anything like romantic! It has Mickey Rourke in it for fuck's sake. I don't think I can cope.
JGF: Yeah well.. At least he falls in love with a stripper, or something. That's romantic! Or would you rather go to see the Duchess?
J [raises voice a fraction]: You know I hated Diana. I don't think I could cope. Plus that Knightley girl, she pouts constantly and it's really annoying.
JGF: OK... how about this zombie film?
J: ...
JGF: Right, that's right, you don't like horror films. So I guess that rules out Friday 13th as well. Which I would really like to see.
J: Well, you do get to pick our films at least 60 per cent of the time, and that's me being generous.
JGF: But that's because you're so fucking picky! You don't like horror. Or animations. We can't watch any foreign films cause they're not dubbed. You don't like action unless it's James Bond. You don't like anything with music (though in all fairness you did come to see Mama Mia, which may I point out that you ended up quite liking). The only things you like are political thrillers and love stories!! And Woody Allen. You made me pay to see Match Point. Oh the shame.
J: OK, we'll go to see the Wrestler.
JGF: No, it's fine, let's go and see Frost Nixon. That's like the only film in the whole list you actually want to see!
J [pouts]: Yeah, actually it is. But you get to decide, and you want to see the Wrestler. But next time it's my turn and we will see what I want to see.
JGF [crosses arms and leans towards other end of sofa]: It's really just such a shame that our tastes in film completely don't overlap, since we don't have that many interests in common and at least we both like going to the cinema.
J [sulky voice]: I agree. It's a shame.

[Cue icy atmosphere lasting till bedtime]

But here comes the good thing about being with a man who has had seven years of therapy and has had guilt breastfed to him by his mentalist mother: In the morning, J wakes, gives me a cuddle and says, of course we'll go to see The Wrestler. Kerr-ching! I win.

He also brought me Harrods hot chocolate powder and two mini charms for my mobile phone as a present. I have to admit I didn't give him anything but made up for it by giving him head... which I would have done anyway but at least I am justifying it to myself that way. And maybe I'll get him an anniversary present. No, you're right, I'm a crap girlfriend, a bit.

But the film. I have to say, that my desire to see Micky Rourke do his thang was greater than my sense of shame in having more or less manipulated my loved one into doing what I wanted to do for Valentine's.

So we started the romantic day with an art exhibition, then had lunch with my only married friend couple for inspiration, then two viewings, one of which I'll be bidding on, yay!!!, though I doubt I will get it, it would just be too good to be true.

After the viewings it was pretty much dinner time, but instead we dropped into one of my friends' house. It turned out he was having major relationship drama and J decided to treat all three of us to a Chinese takeout in order to prevent him from slashing his wrists all on his own on this worst day of the year for the ones who have to live without their loved ones for one reason or another.

Hence our romantic dinner was spent mostly listening to our friend pour his heart out about this girl he is "meant to be with" etc. etc. I also fixed the sound card on his laptop and J read half of his foreign-language newspaper he had carried around all day, so it was not all in vain.

Then we went to see the Wrestler. Which is, I must warn you, a very depressing experience, like anything Arnovsky tends to produce. But it was beautiful, and I clung to J for the whole hour and a half. He didn't fall asleep either (which to my annoyance he often does if it's not a political thriller), and agreed after that the film had been "OK".

When we got home, we kicked off Season 2 of The Wire, and then went to bed where we both went into a heavy coma due to all the walking and fresh air we got during the day. Very wholesome. But it was a nice Valentine's.

* My friend the Lit Anal PhD has since told me this was a spookily accurate ad-hoc assessment of this particular film

Friday, 13 February 2009


Exam session morning
Originally uploaded by Scartist
Exam over for now. I feel almost cheated, it was so easy. I'm not being smug, my classmates largely appeared to feel the same way.

So I celebrated this evening by going to the cinema to see Slumdog Millionaire, which I guess won so many Baftas chances are everyone will have seen it already, but for those of you that haven't, I do recommend it.

The opening scene is all Trainspotting, and Boyle demonstrates his ability to expose the underbelly of a city in transformation. He captures the zeitgeist of a developing India beautifully, and indeed the triangle of the three main characters can be seen as circumscribing this in a metaphorical way.

The film is feelgood and has solid, cheesy Bollywood moments where there might be sex scenes in a Hollywood equivalent.. What's not to like. And I love that guy from Skins who plays the lead. And there is dancing. Yay!

Now I'm in bed waiting for J to arrive. His flight got seriously delayed due to snow and bad weather conditions, and he was meant to have been here over two hours ago, poor thing. On top of all that I think he has like 40 kg of luggage since he is moving here soon, as well as a hefty cold. Aaaw... I've done my bit by warming up the bed for him.

We have three viewing this weekend which hopefully will end the house buying nightmare. I am buying a house, not getting pregnant, ie. it is reversible and I should just get with it. Even got a friendly noise from the bank today so all should be set. Watch this space...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Lessons leaned from Valentines past :: Warning - some adult content..

Originally uploaded by C.Mariani
It's almost that time of the year again... Love it or loathe it, Hallmark Cards will be rammed down your throat at the supermarket and Ann Summers will sell way too much black and red and unflattering underwear. Again. So to celebrate Valentine's Day, V-Day or Singles Awareness Day (delete as appropriate), I've started the warm-up today.

What I've done for the past 10 Valentine's Days

1995: I discovered Valentine's Day by way of starting school surrounded mostly by Texans. Received exactly two greetings. All the other girls got tons.

1996: Might have been the one where I gave Junior High Sweetheart a BJ outside the house of the one that got away, just cause I was pissed off with him.

1997: Received exactly two greetings. All the other girls got tons.

1998: Spent it alone drinking tequila flavoured beer and Irish Coffe in north-eastern France.

1999: Did a student radio show with my gay ex. We played "All by myself" by Celine Dion and "The winner takes it all" by Agnetha Faltskog. My best gag all evening was "My co-DJ just nipped outside with a fag."

2000: Probably something else to do with gay ex. Probably something lovely. I wish I could remember.

2001: Went to se Vagina Monologues. Still nursing broken heart after dumping gay ex. Received tulips from US ex. Had a small panic that he would do something really big but he didn't.

2002: Deleted from memory. Probably involved slightly routine, yet hot sex with US ex.

2003: Also deleted from memory. Might have involved romantic restaurant in London with US ex.

2004: Celebrated having dumped US ex about a month earlier. I think I might have gone to see Team America with Depressive Flatmate. Oh how I miss her when Mr Vain is aiming for me with his air rifle.

2005: Made mix tape (on tape, since J has no mp3 player and only got a CD player in the car after I took him to Halfords) for J hoping to win his affections. It contained "I'm like a bird" by Nelly Furtado, "Lover, you should have come over" by Jeff Buckley and "Murder on the dancefloor" by Sophie Ellis Bextor. It worked a treat.

2006: I worked. It sucked. J gave me a black silk dressing gown from La Senza. I shrunk it in the wash.

2007: I worked. It sucked. Went out for late night Nepalese curry with J and had way too much to eat. It was great.

2008: Went to romantic restaurant in Henley, celebrating how despite being dumped there by J on 31 January 2005, we are still together. That is, I was celebrating, he was just ashamed that it took him so long to realise what a one-off he had on his hands.

2009: J will be visiting me here in The Cold North. I much look forward to it.

What can a girl learn from this?

  1. When you want a man, never give up. If he isn't gay or completely stupid (in which case he would be a poor choice for a long-term partner) he will eventually give in and realise what a catch you are.
  2. Don't ever work on Valentine's. It sucks, especially when other people leave early and you see a flash of their new sexy underwear as they disappear through the door.
  3. Be a serial monogamist. Nothing gets you over the previous one like the next one.
  4. There is no point in not celebrating Valentine's just because you think you should cherish each other every day, and not just when dictated to do so by the market powers that be.
  5. Don't ever drink Tequila flavoured beer. It's really nauseating.
  6. Have a gay boyfriend. They're the best, and you'll forever after be "the girl who gives amazing blow jobs".
  7. Make people mix tapes. It's really therapeutic and we don't do it enough anymore.
  8. Don't waste your time building a relationship with someone you don't truly, truly love.
  9. Don't care that you get no greetings in High School. Unless you are a lesbian, in which case not having the ability to charm other women could turn out to be a bit sucky later in life.
  10. The best love songs ever, in no particular order, are:
  1. "Lover, You Should Have Come Over" - Jeff Buckley
  2. "One" - U2
  3. "Goodbye to Love" - The Carpenters
  4. "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" - Don Henley / Patty Smyth
  5. "Patience" - Guns'n'Roses
  6. "I'll Stand by You" - The Pretenders
  7. "Stay" - Lisa Loeb
  8. "It Must Have Been Love" - Roxette
  9. "Without You" - Mariah Carey
  10. "My Favourite Mistake" - Sheryl Crow
Tag. You're it.

* I know I said 10, but I do tend to go on a bit once I get started.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Things look nicer with snow on

I went to a Yoga class this afternoon which was a bit of a mistake, as it turned out not at all to be the relaxing kind of Yoga that we know and love, but the hardcore sweat-inducing kind which did nothing to soothe the monster period cramps I've had all day.

Oddly, though, I do feel better after it. Must be the endorfins from the pain of one too many warrior poses, methinks.

While I was toiling away trying to put my knees down next to my ears and such, about 15 more cm of snow fell outside. I really feel like a child at Chrismas, I think I have acquired that British feeling of wonder, as if snow is not something that happens every year, several times a year. I had a huge urge to make an angel on our balcony, but managed to restrain myself, as that would mean cold and more cramps.

So I decided sod the exam later this week, I only need to pass and I think I'll be able to do that already, as the syllabus is quite small and I did A-level maths, so it's not as hard for me as it is for most other people who don't know what an independent variable is.

I've decided to finish off my latest knitting project over some hot chocolate. My new favourite recipe is very much helped by Hotel Chocolat's Aztec Liquid Chocolate, which has a hint of chili to it, perfect for cold evenings. My twist is to add a good spoonful of good-quality honey to it to give it that childish sweetness for which I'm sure Hotel Chocolate meant for their dark flakes to be an antidote.
I make it with soya milk as I'm on a no dairy drive. Nobody told my parents that dairy and Asians don't mix, but I'm doing what I can to patch that slightly unfortunate issue up at the moment.

The hot chocolate still tastes as good with soy as it does with skim milk, but of course the poor bean can't compete with full fat moo moo. That's just too much to expect from a poor plant.

And, I just had to post a snow picture to end this entry.. People constantly stare at me as if I'm some kind of misplaced tourist who got the cruise ship seasons all wrong, as I have been photographing everything from recycling bins to street signs that looked "nicer with snow on".

This photo, I actually really like. A very Bergman-esque street I came across when the snow arrived last week. Isn't it romantic? If only I was guaranteed this kind of weather all winter, I would push J until he agreed to a winter wedding.

So, now for the knitting!

Another month, another man flu

Poor J has come down with a cold, again.

We spent most of Christmas tucked up in bed with a fever and cough in various exotic hotels, and it appears he is at it again over in Blighty.

As I might have mentioned at some point, J has asthma and I think that makes him more subsceptible to colds. As soon as one is going around he picks it up like a three year-old spotting a half-eaten sweet on the ground. And they last for ages, usually with a nasty cough in their tail.

I feel quite bad that I'm not there to nurse him, but I have to admit that I also feel quite relieved that he's not here as that means I might not have to be infected for once. Snogging someone with a cold, which I inevitably end up doing, is of course like an intravenous cold virus injection.

Nothing is worse than being ill on your own though, so I have taken some ibuprofen this morning in sympathy with him.. and also to stave off the period pain from hell. I am currently sitting really still with fifty layers of wool on, as I know that if I get up before the ibu kicks in, or if I get at all cold in the midriff area, it will be back to bed for the rest of the afternoon. No fun at all, and I have a revision class in 45 min.

But at least I'm not coughing.

See, I am managing the whole "thinking positively" thing this week!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

To be grateful

I admit that lately I've been one ungrateful witch. J timed me during our Skype date this evening, and it took 43 minutes before I stopped whingeing about my house buying (though that should be our house buying) and asked him how he was doing.

Shame on me.

But this stuff is really stressing me out. I think one of the reasons I am finding this so tough is that I have always kind of assumed that my parents helped my brother out more simply because I was geographically further away and they couldn't buy me washing machines and the like.

I realise now that actually it was not geography that separated us, but simply the fact that my brother has the same level of education as them and does a job they can understand and has done things they approve of, such as to breed. Their common frame of reference with him is actually existent. Between me and the rest of the family, it is sadly not so.

I am the only one of my family to go into higher education. Although my mother is a very clever woman, she simply has never been educated to think outside the box and to think "scientifically". My brother, although he finished high school, did so on a vocational course. Both my siblings hated school, my sister also had social problems, and my mother spent most of her free time tending to their needs. I was always left to my own devices because I could be and still performed well.

This hurts me. I know they are proud on me on an almost abstract level, because I've always got top grades and been no trouble and earned my keep since I was 15. But on a more concrete level, they have no idea what I do all day. I got a First on my initial BA. They asked me if I was satisfied with that. I got into a really competitive clinical psychology course. They didn't really congratulate me. I got an A on my first essay. My dad nodded and said "oh, OK". It isn't that they don't care, it is that they have no idea that any of these things might mean anything to anyone.

Like a child, I really just want to be seen, appreciated, engaged with. There is still a little girl inside me that wants my parents to see that I love them and to be proud of me.

When I question courses of action that they take as irrational and uneconomical, they, and especially my father, feel as if I am attacking them, personally, although this genuinely is not my intention. Tonight, again, I had a lengthy conversation with my mother which I think will have ended in her crying in front of a rerun Heartbeat afterwards. Of course I feel really bad about it.

J says this situation of experiencing a chasm between me and them is quite common, that I should actually be grateful for the support I am receiving from my family and that lots of people have it worse, which is very true. My self-absorbedness in this issue reaches the dimensions of someone severely clinically depressed, it really does.

Sometimes I wonder if when I left home, I just pushed all these late adolescent issues ahead of me, and I never had to deal with them because I was home so rarely that seeing me in itself was a treat for my parents and differences were forgotten about. But of course, these things, they don't go away.

And meanwhile I've of course lived in other places, done other things that they have no concept of. My father has literally speaking lived in one house his whole life. He has had the same job, with promotions, in the same shop. He inherited that house from his parents, he has never had to fend for himself in any way. And of course, crucially, he lacks the intellectual framework it would take for him to realise that things might be different from other people.

I don't really see a solution to this. I just want this house buying business to be overwith so we can go back to pretending that everything is OK.

Meanwhile, I did some positive thinking on the way home today. I should be, and am, grateful because:
  1. My friend spent years in therapy to come to the conclusion that she simply can't expect her parents to understand or appreciate or be interested in what actually goes on in her life. Now they talk about gardening instead, which she hates but her parents love, and everything is OK. In other words, she learned that as an adult, you have to be the adult and come to them on their terms, like they did when you were a kid. Hopefully I can learn this from her as I can't afford the therapy.
  2. My other friend told me he is very impressed with my knitting. I liked that. He is the kind of person who genuinely can give someone else 100 per cent of his attention even if it is something he is not remotely interested in, and it makes me feel seen and special.
  3. I have made an effort to like a third acquaintance of me that I fell out with when we were 18 (I told you sleeping dogs just stay, er, asleep, while one lives abroad... though it is a bit pathetic, I know), and it appears to be going quite well, even when he is at his most pretentious.
  4. J is being really supportive and didn't even complain about the 43 min thing I mentioned earlier. In fact, in general I have a very loving boyfriend that I care about and whom is coming to see me next week.
  5. It is snowy outside, and though I am loath to admit it, I kinda like it.
  6. I think I know everything I need to pass my exam next week.
  7. My teacher friend helped me put together an efficient but easy to teach class for me to give in the substitute teacher job I will be doing after the exam when I could probably better be put to use as a floor rag than as a teacher. So that's that off the to-do list.
  8. I got on really well with my friend that stayed with me this weekend, that I haven't gelled with very well for the last year or so.
  9. I have almost finished the baby bolero I am knitting.
  10. I got my first comment on my non-anonymous blog today. From another blogger I both like and respect! Yay!
So in other words, lots to be happy for. And tomorrow is Mother's Day. I shall ring my mum, say I love her and mention not a word about housing nor money. Scouts honours.

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