Happy Birthday, Sis!

Today is my big sis's birthday. In my recollection, I have never bought her a joint Christmas and birthday present: her birthday is to be celebrated, Christmas is just an "occasion". This seems only right to me.

This year, I fell victim to the vagaries of the Royal Mail: her pressie wasn't delivered to me - and therefore hasn't been sent to her yet, either. Being gallant, she hasn't made a big deal of this and claims that it will mean she can "defer gratification" until later. This is most typical of my sister: she really isn't comfortable tugging at anyone else's guilt strings.

I did manage to send her a card, though. In it I wrote, "You are my inspiration." I mean it, but maybe I should explain what I mean...

When I was a small child, my sister was often given the responsibility of looking after me. Not just the way that older siblings are asked to "look after" younger brothers and sisters, but real responsibility for giving care. I can't remember a single occasion when she complained. No doubt there were times she felt aggrieved, but she didn't express it to me: it wasn't my fault, after all. Not only did I grow up secure in the knowledge that my sister loved and cared about me, but also I learnt not to "pass the blame down" to those who aren't responsible for their situation and to take responsibility for those who are helpless. Not in a saccharine or condescending way, but in a way that is practical, pragmatic and principled.

As she got older, she got more politically aware. She would sent me letters and postcards from college, some just chatter about things she had seen and done, some with leaflets and explanations of issues she was involved in. From this political awakening, it inspired me to join the Anti-Apartheid Movement and CND when I was of an age to have my own opinions and had the passion to want to change things that were unjust. I still have that passion. So does she.

I am enormously proud of the desire my sister has for wanting to change and improve people's lives. Her grassroots work with the Labour Party has definitely changed the lives of the individuals who have met her: she is fearsome when she speaks on behalf of others (and exasperatingly modest about it) and is principled and informed when she does. Her teaching has also affected the lives of many: children, parents and other professionals all have benefited from her passion for education to transform lives, enabling and empowering individuals to fulfil their potential. If I were half the teacher she is, I would be more than satisfied.

More recently, my sister has been a huge emotional support for me. She hasn't just listened and given blind sympathy or meaningless platitudes, she has given me constructive criticism (much needed), a warm and welcome place to seek refuge, practical and rational advice - and however panicked or concerned she has been about my welfare, she has remained calm and level-headed, whatever the crisis. I try to do the same, to be non-judgemental, practical and supportive. I might not always succeed, but I strive.

Don't get me wrong, she hasn't been a saint, she has a "past" and indeed a life, but she has always been there for me, regardless of distance, and she is always there for others, impassioned, informed and empowering.

Happy birthday, sis - I love you and I am proud of you.

And in other news...

OK, another interview, another rejection letter. This time it was a really positive one. Still not a job, though... Ho hum. There's always the new year job splurge, I suppose. I'm no numpty - I'm an employee worth having, I just need a break. And some cash.

Oh yes - and I haven't been paid for the work I did last month, neither has my benefit claim been processed (and won't be until I get a payslip: see the catch 22 there?) so Christmas is going to be frugal. So much so, I've sent my sister an IOU for Christmas. Ho and again hum.

All the same, I'm feeling optimistic, chipper even. I'm looking forward to the new year - all the new experiences, challenges, pains and pleasures to come. Every day is different. Every year is different. New people, new places, new life. From today onwards, the days get longer again, the sun slowly returns. Even if Winter's bleakness is yet to show its full force, Spring really is edging closer and closer.

I don't feel "Christmassy" - and there's no pressure to be so, I suppose. But if you are - or even if you don't - I wish you peace, happiness and comfort in the everyday things that make you smile or think.

(I'm not sure how much I'll be blogging over Christmas- but whatever you are doing, wherever you are and whoever you are with, remember it is just a day, and every day is precious... Although if that makes you feel nauseous- remember every day is there to fuck you over and you have to keep your eyes peeled and your nerves razor sharp - Christmas is no different. Better?)

What Cameron Diaz will be getting for Christmas....

Griping...

I'll get the good bit over first: going to Wales was a good break away; Theo remains lovely *sigh*; my flat is reasonably warm and cosy; I might bake some scones later and will definitely make a chilli for dinner.

Now for the griping...

  • I didn't get the job. My presentation was OK, I interviewed well, I just didn't get the job.

  • I have what could well be the beginnings of a cold (possible cause: getting drenched on Talacre beach in the pissing rain, chucking a fetch-toy for four boisterous collies - fun! - and not really getting warm for a few hours... then meeting "locals" of various types in the spit and sawdust pub where our party got soundly whupped at pool by Manc-lads who may or may not have been diseased - it was hard to tell, their speaking voices were so nasal...)

  • My mobile phone is on the fritz: it works ok for calls, texts etc - but I can't connect to my PC to upload images. I've fiddled with the drivers, re-installed the damn thing from scratch, but it is buggered. Thus no pics of aforementioned collies frisking in the surf.

  • The pressie I ordered from t'internet for my sister's birthday hasn't arrived. I ordered it on the 5th... I now need to report it missing officially in order that it can get re-despatched. It won't arrive in time for my sis's birthday...

  • I'm sick to the tits of all this Christmas family togetherness nonsense. I have my sister and bro-in-law and that's it. I can't afford to fly down to see them - and to be honest I wouldn't fancy Christmas at my sister's in-laws' place: it sounds like organised chaos - and I'm not exactly festive anyway... But if I see another smug, tinsel-tinged, glittery, schmaltzy "how to have a brilliant Christmas and feast on flesh of rare beasts/spend a gazillion on tat/be smugger than Colin and Justin" I might just immolate myself with the nearest lit Yule log... (Theo and I are having an anti-Christmas, incidentally - we might make a concession to the festive feasting and have a mince pie, but that's the extent of it...)

  • Oh, and I'm missing being around Theo. I know she has to go to work (poor wee soul) and that seeing me every day would probably get on her nerves, but I'm missing her all the same...

*sigh*

Hwyl fawr am y tro!


Theo and I are off for a brief break on the cheap (extremely- I'm broke. Christmas is cancelled until my tiny pay cheque arrives!) staying with one of her friends.

A visit to "Rockworld" has been mentioned - as a confirmed folky, this is of course a terrifying prospect... But then again, it could be worse: it could be a jazz club!

I'm looking forward to the time away - mainly to spend more time with Theo, but also in order that I can look forward to returning to Edinburgh. A bit like at Festival time, Edinburgh gets drainingly busy when it puts on its gladrags, and if you are immersed in it it too often becomes somewhat overwhelming. Coming back with a new perspective having cleared out the gaudy festive fug is just what's needed!

Er, the image above has nothing to do with the trip, by the way - I just like Banksy's stuff!

Incidentally, I have prepared a presentation for my interview - part of it based on this BBC News article, like, yeah, but no, but.... whatever! *fiddles with mobile phone* It's an improvement on 10 minutes of silence, anyway.

Presentation Tense...


Oh bugger.

I've got an interview for a job I actually want.
Part of the interview requires a presentation of ten minutes on a subject about which I know.
For some reason I am four slides in and my mind has gone blank. Ironically, the presentation is about "communication".

"
!
?
. ..."

Yes. Quite.

Once, a long time ago in the mists of time long before PowerPoint became de rigeur, I had to assess students oral presentations for English GCSE. Being a trained drama teacher, my colleagues were most happy to "volunteer" me to assess the entire Year 11. Ah happy days... Over 100 students related to me their tales of "An even that changed my life", "Why Sega is Best", "My Sporting Hero" etc...

One presentation stood out from the rest. A red faced, feisty, fists-clenched girl - who most of the time looked like a belligerent ham in a frock- stood up and stomped her way to the front of the classroom. In front of her fellow students she bellowed, " My presentation is about silence and how it is very important. So you can get the best idea of how important silence is I will now remain silent for three minutes."

And she did.

She stared at the class who giggled nervously in front of her. After a while, the giggling stopped. The silence was thicker than fog and more opaque. She didn't so much as twitch or flicker an eye. She remained impassive. Her face nearly purpled with the effort, but she didn't say a word. Three minutes exactly passed before she cleared her throat and said a final, "Thank you." She strode back to her seat leaving a palpable ripple in the still silent classroom.

I would love to say that I passed her - but I didn't. Although she communicated perfectly well her contempt for the task, she didn't fulfil the rigid criteria set down by the exam board. If I could have passed her, I would though. She was by far the most effective communicator of the entire fortnight.

Somehow I don't think her tactic will work with the interview panel either.
But it certainly is tempting.

JobCentre Pus

I knew it would be bad - I just wasn't prepared for how bad.

Don't get me wrong - the "customer service advisers" were politeness itself, even though I'd arrived 10 minutes late due to a school party of infants stampeding onto my bus and the teacher in charge not letting the bus go until he had done a thorough head count. Twice. Even the bouncers on the door (yes, they now have "door supervisors" at the dole office) were polite. Politeness is scoring highly at the new improved JobCentrePlus.

No, the thing that made it bad was that the customer service centre in Dundee had allocated me to the wrong JobCentre. I sat around while a gaggle of advisers debated what to do for something nearing an hour before I was seen by yet another advisor (who looked a little like Shrek's less good-looking sister) who regretted to inform me that they couldn't process my claim in the city centre due to their being too busy. I would have to have another appointment made for me at the JobCentre in Leith. They wouldn't be able to see me today, obviously. I will now have to make a journey to my new JobCentre on Monday. Oh good.

It could have been worse - it could have been on one of the days I will be away - but it could be better too. It's now unlikely that I will receive any money at all until after Christmas - seems they also need my current payslip, which I won't receive until December 20th- and they cannot process the claim until I have handed it over. I'm hoping I get a job before then. Really hoping. You have no idea how much hoping I am doing.

Failing that, on Monday I shall take a book to read while waiting in the endless queue-and will be prepared to be sent to the JobCentre somewhere on Jupiter. Or Linlithgow, whichever is less pleasant, certainly.

Doctors and nurses, dole queues and curses

I hate going to see the doctor. I hate it so much I have postponed changing medical practice for as long as possible, however seeing as I need a new prescription for "happy pills" I thought it was about time I traipsed down to the local surgery to register.

As expected, I needed to see the Practice Nurse for a new patient review. Unexpectedly, it wasn't entirely a horrific experience. Apart from the insecurity felt from having to walk down the street with a vial of urine in my pocket, I wasn't made to feel overly anxious by the experience.

The nurse was warmly professional and listened, weighed, tested and tapped with an appropriate degree of professional interest. She neither quaked nor quailed when I told her I was, indeed, a lesbian (unlike a previous nurse who, when I was asked about my sexual history, raised her eyebrows so high that it looked as though she had visited Joan Rivers' plastic surgeon... ) She complimented me on my weight loss over the past couple of years. She even shrugged off my recent smoking lapses, pointing out I had quit before, I knew how to quit and I could access help to quit whenever I wanted it.

On leaving the surgery I made an appointment to see the doctor - an appointment was available for Monday morning: not in a fortnight's time, but this coming Monday! I'm hopeful that this medical practice will finally be one in which I feel comfortable to be a patient.

Tomorrow however I visit JobCentrePlus (now with added... "Plus!") I've signed-on before - it wasn't fun- so I pretty much know what to expect. Of course there are subtle differences from when I last wrote my name fortnightly for money: now, before attending a "Job Start Review" [incidentally, how can you review something before you've even attended? Just curious...] you have to be interviewed over the phone in order to prepare the greater part of your JobSeeker's Agreement. The phone call lasted 45 minutes.

I was called by a friendly, soothing-voiced Dundonian, based in a call-centre somewhere near the Tay (apparently). She asked the usual plethora of questions - she even ad-libbed a few quips and varied the tone of her voice in order to make the incessant, daft questions seem both more ridiculous and less dull- and the entire process wasn't entirely vile. I hate signing-on with a passion. I recognise it is a social safety-net and I am in economic freefall, but I still resent having to do it. I feel as though I am being judged as a failure in some way, that I should have a "successful" career, be using my qualifications to full effect and not languishing at the expense of the state. Of course, I've paid a fair bit of tax and a whack of National Insurance, so I suppose I'm just dipping into a bank that I've already paid into -but I still feel like shit.

Tomorrow no doubt I shall have to go over the questions again, do a pointless job search (not many colleges recruit through the JobCentre - with or without the "Plus" - neither do schools... nor many not-for-profit organisations... My career choices must be so very left-of centre. Err...) and get that familiar sinking feeling that I am doing something somewhat disappointing.

On the plus side, I might head back to the German Market and treat myself to a pricy German Sausage and Gluhwein lunch. Alternatively, I might just limp back home, scour the jobs pages and treat myself to something ridiculously tasty, artisan baked and yet reasonably priced from The Manna House...

Bowled Over....

Today was a bit shit. Last session with students. I made them scones. Say no more...

The weekend was pretty fab though! As well as going to the pictures (Stranger Than Fiction - recommended) and an evening stroll around the atmospheric German Market on Princes Street,Theo arranged for me to do something I'd never done before: we went bowling.

It might seem odd to some that I have never been bowling. Certainly, I have been to a bowling alley: in Coventry I once supervised a Year Seven outing *shudders at the memory* but due to being very professional (and afraid of being humiliated by a mess of 11 year olds) I refrained from bowling itself. There's even a family history of bowling - my mother was apparently an OK bowler - my sister's dad even had his own personalised bowling ball (there's something vaguely worrying about that, but I can't quite put my finger on it...) but I had never succumbed.

I was, I will admit, quietly excited by going bowling. Part of me felt as though a part of my childhood, or adolescence at the very least, was missing having never been bowling. The hideous cacophony of the bowling alley is strangely atmospheric: loud music, the rumble and clatter of the balls as they hurtle down the alley and crash into the pins, the chatter and buzz of meaningless conversations, the clink of glasses. It might seem commonplace, but it is nonetheless exciting. What made it even more exciting was being taken there as a date!

Luckily, Theo and I aren't competitive with each other - lucky for me certainly, as my bowling was as woeful as one would expect from a first time bowler - which made things even more fun. She tried to assist me with my bowling technique and I contented myself watching the way she shimmied as she let loose her cannoning shots. We also played air hockey and pool - and Theo even won things from the grabby thing (you know, the ones that stroke the toy you want before returning mechanically to their corner to mock one's ridiculous hope). I may have been a little mischievous in snatching the odd kiss here and there - and in front of heterosexuals, too *tut* - but it all added to the "replaying by re-gaying adolescence" experience. Sometimes its good to feel like a teenager!

As a consequence of our bowling trip, we did wonder if perhaps, just perhaps, we should organise a dykey bowling trip - something that might enhance the woeful lesbian scene in Edinburgh (where the choice would appear to be either the usual drinking and dancing, or bookgroups and football/basketball/cricket for a less sceney activity- all of which which are fine, if somewhat lacking in good old-fashioned fun...) - and give us a "grown-up" excuse to go bowling again, of course.

OMG

OMG. It is December.

How the fuck did that happen?

*Meh*

Yesterday was a day of two halves: the good bit was the evening...

The day was... odd.

Saying goodbye to classes you have only just got to know is wrenching. You can see potential, trust, enthusiasm... and you have to walk away.

Sod the money (well, no... I really need the money) I'll miss the people.

Anyhow, I popped my job app for a proper, albeit part-time, job in the college in the post this morning, I've a slew of other applications to fill in for various and nefarious jobs and I have to keep hoping/sign-on next week: I like my flat, I want to stay here longer even if it is a tad more pricy than I can afford to pay right now- and I like my life here...

Meh...

Bloody hell...


My luck just gets better...

I woke up at 6ish this morning with a familiar trickling feeling tickling the back of my throat: ah yes, a nosebleed.

By 8 I was starting to get a bit panicky - it still hadn't stopped. I'd managed to turn my bathroom into something that resembled the aftermath of the Icelandic whaling fleet's trip to SeaWorld and I admitted that I should probably give work a miss today, what with the uncontrollable haemorrhaging and all...

I texted Theo for a some sympathy (well, I'm a big, soft scaredy cat at times...) and she supplied plenty, pointing out it sounded a bit like it could be a stress-related bleed.

Thinking about it, it makes sense. It has been a stressful year - and continues to be so to a lesser extent, but work and money etc., are constant anxieties. Certainly, I have lots of good stuff going on, but the tough stuff is bound to have taken its toll in some way: I've noticed a fair number more grey hairs (including several in my eyebrow and even *looks embarrassed* the first signs of greying pubic hair...) - stressy nosebleeds shouldn't really come as any surprise.

It finally slowed down to the occasional drip at 9:30, half an hour before my "fuck it, I'm going to casualty" deadline and I am now left with something of a fuzzy, dizzy, headachey feeling - but the nose is thankfully un-gory.

I shall immerse myself in the scent of lavender for the rest of the day and maybe beg on hands and knees for a massage later. Relieving stress needs to be a fresh priority - I've only got a finite amount of blood, after all.

Ahhhh....

Oh well. Just as I'm settling in to my new job, I get the elbow.

Not because I've done anything wrong, I might add - merely because the person I was covering for (who the department seemed to think would be away for "quite some time to come") has decided to return to work. As much as I am glad that someone who has been somewhat ill is now returning to health, I am more than a bit disappointed that I haven't been given the opportunity to show what I can do -and the money would have been nice, too... I was starting to get to know my students, even like them - it's never a waste of time to meet new people, and meeting new students is always a good thing - and was making decent alliances with new colleagues. *sigh* Anyhow, it's back to the employment hunting drawing board for me. Bugger.

I was going to write about how if you are over a size 20 it is nearly impossible to get a non-girly-girly warm winter coat, the ridiculousness of bra sizes and the irritation of shopping for necessary items near Christmas - but I'm too bummed-out today to really focus on it. It'll pass, but it's a dark rainy cloud and I feel like curling up on the sofa, hugging myself and drinking tea...

Otherwise, life continues to be filled with pleasant surprises; Theo and I continue to get to know each other better (yesterday's baking effort: a chocolate cake...) and are making plans to visit one of her friends in December; Scotmid has a 2 for a fiver special offer on washing liquid; my piercing is healing pleasingly painlessly... even my shower is behaving itself. Present inconveniences aside, life is good - and I need to keep remembering that.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes

I like tea, I do.

I like it with biscuits, with a scone, on its own.
I like it so much I have an entire cupboard full of the stuff: herbal, infusions, black, green, white - I like tea (I also like coffee, but it's not the same...)

Since starting work yesterday, I have developed a raging thirst for tea. I think in part it is because I am too scared to use the kettle and the strange water-container arrangement in my new staff base- and thus risk the wrath of the middle aged ladies who are my new colleagues should I upset the incomprehensible system - and so, apart from sipping water from a bottle I keep in my bag, I go thirsty for much of the working day. When I get home, the closeted tea-jenny in me comes out and the kettle is kept almost constantly warm due to afternoons and evenings filled with the brewing and consuming of tea.

Teaching is a thirsty business. Dusty rooms, talking into the void (or to students... mainly the void if the blank/quizzical expressions worn by the students are anything to go by...) and fear all make for a dry mouth. Teachers and lecturers generally seem to suffer from hellish halitosis as a consequence of this. Either that or people with halitosis are attracted to teaching and lecturing, I'm not sure which. Having a painfully fragile periodontal disposition myself, I am a keen slurper of sugar-free mints to maintain my oral freshness. Would that my new colleagues were as considerate...

Anyhow, in short, all is going well so far: I haven't got lost, said anything contradictory or inaccurate, insulted senior staff or cried in front of a class yet. Still, it's early days... but I am toasting my new employment status with tea(well, until I can get to the pub, anyhow): slainte!

Blob

Bleurgh. More information than you need, but I am having another one of those "periods from hell." This time, more than simply cramp, I have awful backache and total body lassitude (-mind you, that could also be due to still digesting the mahoosive "celebratory" meal from Vittoria's Theo and I had last night- Panzerotti dello Chef: fab, Lasagne alla Mamma: delish, Cheesecake rating: 6.5/10: nicely vanillaed, but soggy bottom...totally camp cream, ice-cream, ickle teeny weenyScottish and Italian flags and green glass plates though! There is nothing like indulging my foodie nature to make me feel better... and going out to dinner is definitely an indulgence...)

Back to the menstrual moaning, the timing could have been worse I suppose: nothing like starting a new job with a scowl, scarfing down painkillers as though they were Skittles and strapping a hot water bottle to your back... Very inspiring, very energetic. Hmmmph.

Anyhow, speaking of which, I also went to the college yesterday to meet my new colleagues, pick up teaching materials and schedules, and to get my bearings around the building. At present, the place is something of a building site, with corridors leading to closed-off bits of building, portakabins as classrooms and stairways to nowhere: seeing as I've had a chaotic summer (now thankfully somewhat more level and fun, but I digress...) I may very well fit right in...

Distraction

It might be getting a bit boring to read, but Theo and I had a great weekend. One of the ways in which we entertained ourselves was for Theo to teach me how to make scones. (I'm not going to mention any of the other ways we entertained ourselves... apart from the lasagne we made, maybe... or the jaunt to the pub... or... No. Actually, I'll just leave it at that... *grin*)

I am not a born baker - my pastry is either so short it crumbles before you have raised it to your lips or so hard your teeth rock in their sockets. Theo, on the other hand, has a natural knack having been born to a family for whom home baking is an art. As you can see (above) we practised quite a bit. The miserable efforts to the right were mine, the rest hers. It would appear my dough-handling technique could do with some tweaking.

I look forward to the swirly things with lemon curd/jam she's promised to bake and I in turn will teach" Pasta Sauces 101" - things to do with tomato and basil, as well as "Mince: More Than Just Talk". All matters culinary are a passion for me - watching Theo handle dough was virtually pornographic, it's something to do with the fleshy pliability of the mixture and the sensual patting and kneading, I think... *whimpers*. As far as I'm concerned, cooking is the new Rock 'n' Roll and I intend to die of a chocolate and pastry overdose in a plush hotel somewhere, stripped naked and with lick marks all over my body...

Anyhow, all this has been a great distraction. Theo has been very understanding of my twitchiness - I'm never entirely focused when I'm broke, unemployed and with an interview looming... Speaking of which, I got the job! I'm back to being a college lecturer again (albeit of uncertain tenure and very part-time...) It's certainly better than nothing and it's something I know how to do (fingers crossed, anyway...). I start Monday and will hit the ground running. I can't say that I'm entirely lacking apprehension, but it will certainly be a good sort of apprehension, rather than the kind I've been getting every time I check my bank balance...

Oh! Oh! I forgot!

yes! my actual ear!
... I also had the outer rim of my ear pierced! I've been wanting it done for ages and while I was in a spontaneous mood I thought " ahhhh, fuck it" and just went and got it done.
I didn't flinch or anything. No, really. Not a flicker or wince.

Pretty bloody typical that it is now so frigging cold, eh? (Apologies for the blurriness of the shot- but have you ever deliberately tried to photograph your own ear?)

Avoiding Lesbania

Bogtastic"Theo" (see previous post... although she sort-of objects to the name: reminded her of The Cosby Show. *sigh* Fair point, well made, so it may very well change... To be fair, it doesn't entirely suit her... but I can hardly use any of the names I actually call her, can I? *blush*) and I had planned to go to the Lothian Gay and Lesbian Switchboard "Halloween Ball," but due to a range of things (including lack of arsedness) we decided not to go. Instead, we gave-in to a spontaneous streak and took off for the weekend to York -originally to attend the York Lesbian Arts Festival, but (due to another lack of arsedness) we decided not to bother spending the money on rubbing shoulders with the "cliterati" and around 3000 others - preferring to do our own thing and explore the city together.

The drive down was long... we arrived at the B&B rather late and just wanted to get to our room and crash. Of course, our intentions were also subject to spontaneous change, particularly when Theo saw the above: I was summoned to the bathroom where I too fell into knackeredly hysterical fits of the giggles. My English teacher-ness appreciated the utter bollocks and pomposity of the non-existent word "sanified", the rest of me just found the idea of sticking a sash over a toilet bowl to proclaim its cleanliness delightfully surreal...

We had a great time. We wandered, bimbled and idled our way through the city, ambled through The Shambles and minced around the Minster (see below), that sort of thing... Our only encounter with Lesbania (apart from receiving the occasional "nod") was when we wandered to the Marketplace to be met with a sea of dykes gathered around a group of wailing choir-type singers. For once we were in the majority in a public place. It was a pleasant change, but as Theo and I discussed at the time, we did wonder if the locals thought the same thing as some of "us" Edinbuggers do at Festival time: "Oh shit, it's going to be mobbed" and therefore avoid the city. (-Except we pretty much have all of August - and hordes of leafleters, performers, tourists and the like to plough through across the entire city - and the Yorkies have one weekend in October to think "Oh bugger, Mavis - no going to Betty's Tea Room today, the city is riddled with drinkers from the furry cup...")

York Minster
Anyhow... we also encountered the world's dullest tour guide, drank in Yorke's oldeste Pubbe, considered doing the Tour Bus thing, but decided to drink cocktails instead and generally chilled out and got to know each other much better. As I said, we had a great weekend.

Now back to reality. I have an interview on Monday - only a part time job, but it's a start. *sigh* Where did I put that iron?...

The Heuchter-Teuchter Happening


So, the wedding.

I was sweating a bit, long before the arriving at the venue (and yes, I know it wasn't my wedding) - there is a sort of pressure attached to being The Token Lesbian Couple (TM) at a straight (and a wee bit Catholic-filled) wedding: how much eye-contact/hand-holding/supportive gesturing is appropriate and won't send the teuchters running wide-eyed back to the hills? I'm not usually that bothered- indeed I see it as a challenge- but when the bride is the best mate of your date it wouldn't be good form to trample over other people's feelings, otherwise the sharpened elbow and the rapid dumping might ensue...

I needn't have bothered being so well behaved: as soon as a kilted groom and picture-perfect bride appear, even dry-humping, leather-clad, whip-wielding lesbians would be ignored in a sea of "awwwww"... Which is, of course, perfectly right. [Not that we were any of those things, I might add - I was somewhat soberly wearing a suit and crumpled hastily-chosen shirt and my date was wearing a suit and, well... my ironed well-chosen shirt: I'd arrived at her flat to find her wide-eyed in panic having had a bit of a fashion faux-pas and offered the shirt off my back- which did rather suit her, I must admit - in order that she might feel a tad more comfortable. It wasn't just her best friend's wedding, but the first wedding she had ever attended. Lucky... In fact, hereafter I may well refer to her as The Happy Enviable One or "Theo" for short: you shall see why in a paragraph or so... ]

The ceremony itself was brief and flawless, carried out overlooking the magnificent Princes Street and the sternly domineering EdinburghCastle and all went well. The table we were sat on for the wedding breakfast had a pleasant mix of friends and well-behaved children... as well as the token amusing drunk. Apparently one of the first things she said to The Happy Enviable One was, "I like your name. I've got a criminal record..." There really is no answer to that...

A little later, Theo decided to chance her arm and -armed with a bucket load of charm - asked if we could maybe take some pictures from the roof terrace. The waiter looked puzzled and went to fetch the manager, who in turn looked puzzled and went to fetch a member of staff to escort us up.

It would seem that "Roof Terrace" is something of an exaggeration. Roof would be more accurate. After climbing for what seemed like ages, we arrived at a very dodgy moss-and-dead-pigeon-covered area of slender walkways and Victorian railings. The final dropping iron ladder proved a little too much for me (I turned white and thought of the word "plummet" - I couldn't help myself) so the intrepid Theo took my camera to take some shots- see above. Well worth it, apparently - even if it did mean we missed the cutting of the cake. Oops.

The evening ceilidh was all a ceilidh should be - filled with dram-quaffing kilties and much haphazard dancing in evidence. We did pop out for a "romantic" walk through Edinburgh on a mercy mission to buy fags for the bride and detoured via a pub for a private pint away from the masses, but it was all far more fun than I had expected. It may even have helped dispel a little of my longstanding dissatifaction with the whole wedding mallarkey. Well, maybe...

In other news I am still doing battle with the GTCS (CUNTS!!!!) and am plugging away at job applications. Not to put too fine a point on it, I am running out of money. All donations gratefully received.

Speaking of which, I must give special mention to Freecycle. Friday evening, in the pissing rain Theo and I collected a rather fab TV stand for free, gratis and nothing. It was a struggle and fight (not helped by the fact we were hurting ourselves laughing at our crappy removal skills and bloody awful luck to be not only caught in the pissing rain, but also having to negotiate a broken bloody lift to my flat!) but well worth it: I've got £70 worth of non-shoogly tv stand to support my electricals and I didn't have to pay a penny.

I wonder if people freecycle food/rent/council tax too?

A Mixed Bag...

Hmmm. This blogpost title could describe myself, fair enough. However...
  1. The General Bastard Teaching Bloody Council of Scotland

    Not to put too fine a point on it, they are a bunch of cunts. And not in a nice way. They are mendacious, inefficient and excessively bureaucratic cunts who once again have placed me on the register of teachers as a probationer - despite having completed registration in England and having taught in FE in Scotland for two years (alongside that wee matter of having taught in schools in Scotland too...) - Oh yes, and despite having had a long conversation with several staff outlining my situation and being reassured that I would "certainly" be allowed full registration. (And! And -without full reg, you can't get a permanent job... Thanks GTCS. Cunts.)

  2. Washing Machine Woes

    I've been playing at being Mrs Tiggywinkle and taking in washing for m'dear friend whose machine has bust. I actually quite like washing and drying stuff although I haven't gone as far as ironing - I'm not entirely mental - but I can be a mate in a time of need and not just a selfish and emotionally overbearing arsehole.

    Unfortunately, yesterday my washing machine became poorly - it couldn't pump-out water and left clothes panicking, trapped inside. I panicked a little too - until I tried an experiment and checked the filter trap - where lurked a semi-digested sock. My flat suffered somewhat from my method of fixing it - once the sock was freed, the machine relieved itself all over the floor, flooding the flat. Nnnnnnnnggggg...


  3. Weddings, Parties, Anything...

    I've started -tentatively- to "date" someone I sort-of dated before (when things were beyond complicated and all went somewhat explosively tits up). Friends are not entirely approving to put it mildly (having said that, m'dear friend does accept that I will do what I do anyway and hopes -against hope, perhaps- that things will work out this time now that other complications are settled...M'dear friend has made clear her reservations and I appreciate both the tact and honesty she expressed ) and "time will tell..." It's early days...

    Anyhow, to get back to the point, this weekend we are going to a wedding together - her best friend's wedding. The last wedding I went to was my own...

    Oh.

Too bloody true...

Pessimism for Beginners (by Sophie Hannah)

When you’re waiting for someone to e-mail,
When you’re waiting for someone to call –
Young or old, gay or straight, male or female –
Don’t assume that they’re busy, that’s all.

Don’t conclude that their letter went missing
Or they must be away for a while;
Think instead that they’re cursing and hissing –
They’ve decided you’re venal and vile,

That your eyes should be pecked by an eagle.
Oh, to bash in your head with a stone!
But since this is unfairly illegal
They’ve no choice but to leave you alone.

Be they friend, parent, sibling or lover
Or your most stalwart colleague at work,
Don’t pursue them. You’ll only discover
That your once-irresistible quirk

Is no longer appealing. Far from it.
Everything that you are and you do
Makes them spatter their basin with vomit.
They loathe Hitler and Herpes and you.

Once you take this on board, life gets better.
You give no-one your hopes to destroy.
The most cursory phone call or letter
Makes you pickle your heart in pure joy.

It’s so different from what you expected!
They do not want to gouge out your eyes!
You feel neither abused nor rejected –
What a stunning and perfect surprise.

This approach I’m endorsing will net you
A small portion of boundless delight.
Keep believing the world’s out to get you.
Now and then you might not be proved right.

Baaaaa...


Sheep can be stubborn creatures.

As I watched the road blur by, the hills loom closer then shrink away, I observed the woolly inhabitants of the Borders as they got about their business of eating and wandering.

One sheep in particular drew my attention: I saw it's grey-white head straining out from between the wires of the thin fence. It had been left to graze a field that had previously held a crop of something already harvested - maybe cabbages by the stalky green remnants there- something nutritious and easy to eat for a sheep. This sheep, far from being a follower and taking the easy meal was searching for fresh grass on the just-out-of-reach verge. It kept pushing and stretching, ignoring the ready treats behind it.

I felt for that sheep. I was that sheep. I kept pushing and reaching for things just out of reach even when there were good things all around me, things I could have without having to try so hard.

Sometimes its good to strive. It's good to have a goal, an ambition, a plan, something to work for. Sometimes though, you need to take what is around you and be thankful - enjoy it for what it is and enjoy the plenty that it offered. I am a stubborn creature, but enough sometimes really is enough.

I have been a mess. I am mess, in some ways. I have been striving and reaching for something I cannot have and ignoring the plenty -the exceptional, generous plenty - that is all around me. In different ways (and each time with love and compassion) I have been told by different people more or less to pull my woolly socks up, I'm fleecing myself if I don't do things for myself and appreciate all the postive things I am and that are around me. Still I strain stubbornly at the fence of my own making and get strangled in the process.

I am not, however much I sympathise, that sheep: I can find a gate and get whatever grass I want and need. I just need to pull my head in and look, bit by bit, I am taking my head out of that fence.

I watched the road for a while. Saw more sheep, saw cows, bullocks, horses gathered around a manger, then saw the familiar site of Arthur's Seat squatting solemnly, watching over Edinburgh. As I drew closer to home, and the suburban sprawl of Edinburgh started to litter the landscape, the things that hit closest to home seemed to tighten like a fist inside me and batter at my heart- I strained and strained against different fences. Maybe I pushed too hard - I started to hurt and later I let it out in a wild-eyed bleat.

Today I think about sheep and how I do not want to be one.

Shameless Plug....

Colours are Brighter - Buy Now

Not something I do much, promote stuff, however the album "Colours Are Brighter" - created by some tip-top bands to raise funds for Save the Children is something I feel should be brought to a wider audience. Not only is it a great cause, but I defy anyone to listen to Belle & Sebastian's "The Monkeys are Breaking Out the Zoo" without at least smiling... (I jumped around like an idiot and added my own monkey noises... but that's me for you) and Franz Ferdinand do some impressive mental arithmetic, too.

All funds raised go towards the Rewrite the Future campaign: with 43 million children out of education in war-zones across the world, it's a vital campaign that can give children a real chance to change their lives and the world.

-Far better than just adopting one child and dancing like a patronising twat, eh Madonna?

(-having said that, at least she is giving some small change to support orphans in Malawi, albeit so she can indoctrinate them in the ways of Kabbalah- but seriously? Another celeb "buys" a fashionably "ethnic" child- and not even an orphan, but one who has a family who simply can't afford to keep him... I can't be the only person who just thinks, "what the fuck?" can I? I mean, seriously?....)

Heid!


*sigh*

As ever, my head is foggy. I've been given rather a lot to think about recently (you know, emotional stuff: nothing practical or simple to fix of course) and, me being me, I've avoided thinking about things in close, specific detail for as long as humanly possible. Sometimes things just come to a natural resolution (or so I hope) sometimes they just fade away. Most times, however, they hang around and glower, then jump on me with steel-segged clogs and kick the shite out of me when I'm least prepared. I cry very easily - and trust me, the tears and snot I have had steaming from my face would put Juliet Stevenson truly, madly, deeply to shame...

It's a funny thing. No really... It's funny because some of the more profound and to-the-point conversations I've had recently have been while eating. I love eating. I hate anything to get between me and some good eating (mmmm-hmmmm *pats protruding tummy and drools lightly*) and so while I'm still digesting some of the great big chewy thoughts I've been given to mull over I am also lightly rueful that some seriously pleasant food has been sidelined in order to think about, well, "stuff". I wonder if perhaps my priorities are somehow out of whack? Or maybe my subconscious is telling me to be a cook?...

Anyhow, in other, less introspective mind-bleh news, I have been cosying and comfying my flat to a point whereby it is getting close to being like walking into a physical representation of a hug: I have (thanks to m'marvellous matey) a rug, and to accompany this I have acquired a fluffy cushion- which I have named Chewbacca due to its close resemblance to Wookie fur- a lava lamp, coasters, wax tarts for creating a positive pong, a vibrant throw for the less than vibrant sofa... I am becoming *gasp* houseproud. This is a bizarre concept for me. I have always thought of myself as something of a slattern, yet I'm becoming a regular cushion plumper and crumb sweeper. I'm not sure if this is part of the whole new me, or if I am perhaps possessed by the presence of a previous inhabitant of my flat...

Time - or maybe Derek Acorah - will tell...

"No Pasaran"


My roots, such as they are, are somewhere in the docks of the Eastend. My family, god help them, really were pretty much born within the sound of Bow Bells. Politics - in its essential, grass roots form- has been part and parcel of my family history: my great grandmother was a Suffragette by accident, she was in service to a Suffragette and participated in Suffragist actions; one of my uncles was a communist activist and helped galvanise union actions on the Docks; another uncle was a T&GWU steward at Ford's vast - and now shut- Dagenham factory, getting lifts to meetings with Ron Todd; my mother was a voluntary International Officer for Unison; my sister an active Labour Party member; even I joined CND, protested against Clause 28, Student Loans, Apartheid, fascism, the BNP... you know the sort of thing.

Seeing as it is political party conference season - and the Cameron Tories are trying to distance themselves from the Old Right wingers (nice blog David - shame about the content) - I am reminded that not every encroaching move to the right is inevitable. I hear so much anti-arab, anti-muslim, anti-immigration cant, that it almost seems mainstream to accept this knee-jerk prejudice. We seem to accept so much without question and look to the "big" parties to guide us, but instead of guiding, they add to the spin.

Reading this story in the Guardian reminds me that direct action doesn't have to be some organised and sanitized affair, but can come as a spontaneous reaction to events. It teaches us that sometimes we shouldn't listen to the "organised" voices, but should go with our gut instinct and common humanity.

I don't know that I had any relatives at Cable Street, but I'd like to think I did - maybe Uncle Jim's dad or even my Great Grandmother - but the upcoming 70th anniversary of this iconic event serves to remind me to question and challenge more. No pasaran, indeed.

the day the nazi died
chumbawamba


we're taught that after the war
the nazis vanished without a trace
but batallions of fascists
still dream of a master race
the history books they tell of their defeat in 45
why did they all come out of the woodwork
on the day the nazi died

they say the prisoner of spandau
was a symbol of defeat
whilst hess remained imprisoned
then the fascists they were beat
so the promise of an aryan world would never materialise
so why did they all come out of the woodwork
on the day the nazi died

the world is ridden by maggots
the maggots are getting fat
they're making a tasty meal
of all the bosses and bureacrats
they're taking over the board rooms
and they're fat and full of pride
and they all came out of the woodwork
on the day the nazi died

so if you meet with these historians
i'll tell you what to say
tell them that the nazis never really went away
they're out there burning houses down
and they're peddling racist lies
and we'll never rest again
until every nazi dies

I dunno, does this just about sum-up how I feel right now?

Laugh when he jokes, slap him when he chokes...

... it's time to give up the smokes. *

And it is. I quit for two years, then in a moment of, "ahh fuck it all" I started again. I was living alone, after all - I could do what I damn well liked - I would go through all my old bad habits one by one just for the sheer hell of it and there would be no consequences.

Up to a point.

My most delightful dinner companion looked me up and down yesterday and, after a moment's deliberation, declared that I should start using moisturiser otherwise in ten years time I would have a face like a knackered handbag and she wouldn't be seen in daylight with me (or words to that effect). It gave me a moment or two's pause for thought. I'm really not sure if it was a joke or not...

It's no shock to learn that apart from cancerousness et al, long term smoking kippers your skin and makes you look like a shrivelled apple at a time when you really want to clutch on to the last of your vanity. So, apart from poverty, an inability to walk at any great pace without wheezing like a clapped out accordion, smelling like an ashtray and gaining a grey pallor and yellow teeth, I now have to contend with fast encroaching wrinkliness and a lonely old age....Someone get me to Jenners' beauty counter, quick

- and along with that portent of doom, I quit smoking again yesterday. My bestest boy buddy pointed out in a well-timed email that I am the only person he has ever met who can smoke with application and seriousness and then quit on a whim without batting an eyelid, so I'm reasonably confident I'll stick with it. *sigh* Procrastination- and eating junk, naturally -would appear to be the last truly bad habit left (unless others could tell me differently). Ah well. Welcome to the Cheap Seats indeed.


* And ohh when he cries don't wipe his eyes,
take the wine from the swine,
and remind him of his crimes.
Ohh in another world............
yeah he could wear a dress.
Imagine his surprise when he opened his eyes,
and I'd run the lawnmower over his thighs.
Imagine the disturbance,
at the time of the occurrence,
when his life became a burden,
and we laughed at his cries.
Welcome to the cheap seats,
where your life's seen through cracked spectacles.

The Wonderstuff, "Welcome to the Cheapseats" . Ahh.... nostalgia!

Comfortably numb...

I saw my dentist today (I see my dentist so regularly I wouldn't be surprised if people in the surgery were beginning to talk... *raises eyebrow* ) Often we exchange shopping for Doc Martens tips, share a nostalgic sigh over English beer and its scarcity in Scotland, reminisce over childrens' TV programmes de temps perdu - basically, she treats me like a person, not just a set of stained enamels and amalgam filings with periodontitis. This is good in a dentist, I find. Good in anybody indeed.

Today however, she did something above and beyond the usual dental duties: having heard my tale of dental woe from the last time I was at the dental hospital (I'm adrenaline sensitive and can't have regular anaesthesia... the drug I need is no longer manufactured in the UK and the US version isn't licensed...the "next best" anaesthetic wore off before procedure finished... sutures duly sewn without pain relief... agony beyond compare...yada yada yada...) she hastened to her drug cupboard and handed me four vials of anaesthetic to take with me when I next go for surgery. I left the surgery feeling like a drug courier and a lot more optimistic that I won't have to suffer in quite the same way again. What a gal!...

In other news, I had a chat about a possible PhD yesterday. Like all "informal chats" I treated it like a slightly conversational interview and attempted to dazzle and shine. I don't think I achieved shininess, but my nodding, grinning and expostulating (accompanied by appropriate gesticulation) must have shown enough enthusiasm to be taken seriously: my interviewer has lent me a book ("...so you have to come back") and is arranging for me to meet some other dcotoral candidates in similar fields in order to help me prepare a proposal...

I haven't been this hungry for studying since... well, ever! I have to keep telling myself, "Don't fuck this up" - fingers crossed, eh?

Making a spectacle of myself

Today I shall be collecting my new glasses (if they are ready, of course....). I dilly dallied with contact lenses for a bit but something of the optical luddite in me actually prefers specs. One of the things I like about them is that when you take them off the world goes fuzzy and soft and you don't have to touch your eye to do it. Another is that they are "acceptable" jewellery in many respects: even the most non-adorned dyke can get away with face furniture on the grounds that it is necessary (having said that, I'm just about to paint my nails and am pondering which necklace to wear with my shirt... so perhaps I am less unadorned than I think I am...)

Choosing specs has always been a bone of contention and, funnily enough, I'd never chosen a pair entirely on my own before - I had always gone with parent, friend or partner. My first choices have always been dismissed as horrific/unsuitable, so I am curious as to how folk will react to my new bins... Have I made another horrific choice or were my instincts as to what would suit me been spot on, and I merely too easily swayed? Time will tell... At least I will be able to see myself clearly in the mirror to judge for myself!

+*update*+ Of course the bloody things weren't ready. Be too much to ask that they would be ready on the day and time they specified, eh? They did ask if I could wait for two hours so they could prepare them: I wondered what they'd been doing with them all day... trying them on maybe? Oh well... The "did I make a good choice or not" conundrum will have to wait for another day: tomorrow to be more accurate. Bah... and hurrah! New specs tomorrow! Something to look forward to!

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman...

yes it is a knitted womb from www.knitty.com pattern fans
Grrr...

I've just woken up with eeeevil period pain. To be fair I haven't exactly "just" woken up - I more or less woke up at 1ish and now can't get back to bastarding sleep. It feels as though I have an anvil crushing my innards and some mad leprechaun things knocking seven shades of shite out of my lumbar regions. I'm not going to mention any other effects in order not to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities...

& I say "get back to... sleep", but really I've been drowsing, tossing and turning for a couple of hours - fun, fun, fun- and my bed now looks like a heap of discarded rags. Most relaxing and appealing. No position I lie in is helping - and the smallest crumb of comfort is that at least I'm not waking anybody up and thus making myself feel guilty. Having said that, having someone to moan to, cling on to and treat as a human hot water bottle would be nice... but that's just selfish.

Recently, I've not been finding it easy to get to sleep anyway - the not having a job thing has been weighing on my mind. It's not just the lack of money, but the total lack of routine that is getting to me. I also have a fear that I'm unemployable and the more I worry about it, the less I sleep and the more my semblance of a routine falls apart. The past few weeks have been chaotic enough without my body being in rebellion too. Bah. Bloodyfannyingbastardshittingfuckfacebollockypisswankinghell.

*sigh*

I don't even have a hot water bottle or heat pad (not that that would do any good: I don't have a microwave to heat it in either) and ibuprofen don't even touch the sides of the "discomfort" (I am refusing to really call it pain - I've had dental surgery where the anaesthetic has worn off before the procedure was finished: that was pain...feeling every last suture and not being able to do a damn thing about it but count from one to ten over and over again *shudder* Happy memories. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to watch Marathon Man again. Not that I'd want to, but I'm sure you get the point). Camomile tea and lounging about until it subsides seem to be the only options open to me...

Grrr...

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman? No shit, Sherlock. I'm almost looking forward to menopause. No, really...

Running to stand still

I try too hard, sometimes. I try too hard at the wrong things and when it all goes wrong- or not even wrong, just not as I envisaged it- I turn inwards and brood, or outwards to slash and attack. You can call it Quixotic if you want to be Romantic, but really it's just plain misguided. Don't get me wrong, it isn't in trying to compete or being influenced by someone else: I do it to myself, no-one else, nothing else but my own unrealistic expectations and a sense that I should do or be something that I'm not.

Oddly enough, I want to have an slow-paced life, to be able to observe the simple things: to climb a mountain at my own pace, to watch things grow, to grow myself and to watch others grow. I like the idea of allotments, novels, the Slow Food movement, watching children grow up, oil paintings, stalagtites and stalagmites, the lighting of an open fire then watching the coals slowly glow and burn, sitting on a beach and watching the tides, seeing dawn creep over the horizon. How often do I really take time out to look and do and be?

Sometimes I rush at life like it was something you could actually catch: I feel myself becoming a volatile mass of volition, kinetic energy rushing, crashing and breaking like a wave and taking all with me in a mass of destruction. (Remorse comes later, of course... always remorse) I don't see the end result, I don't even take notice of the moments I am living in, I just rush and push.

Other times, I feel the world rush by as I become impassive and rocklike, being ground down by every gentle lapping movement. Again, I do not see outside myself. I don't think about the effect on others I just remain stubbornly rigid, getting worn away bit by bit.

I won't get worn away, of course, I won't let myself. In my moments of clarity-increasingly longer moments, bit by bit- I see the effect it has on me and those I love. But I can feel that unless I either stop running and rushing or stop standing stonily still the gradual grinding will wear me thinner and smaller, or the crashing and wracking will break me apart - if I let it.

And I won't let it. I have too much to lose. I want to see the slow things grow. I want to grow slowly now.

older

...but no wiser. Maybe a bit wiser -wise enough to know I'm not that wise, anyway.

Yesterday, I pivoted my thirties. 35 years old. Mid way through the three score and ten. Horribly grown-up sounding - for someone quite obviously not that grown up: no mortgage, no job, no kids, no lasting legacy...

Birthdays are funny. Peculiar, more than laughable, obviously. I woke up oddly contemplative (and in hideous post-dental surgery pain...) at three in the morning. Every birthday since my mum died it has felt as though I've been a phone call and a card short. At three am I felt as though I needed to phone home. I didn't of course. That would have been entirely redundant, but the ache was there. Iwiped my eyes, returned to bed and woke again at a more sensible time, the pain -in both senses- having passed.

I spent my day in the best company I could want -gloriously no pressure on me to do or be anything but myself - and so sofa-snoozing and the watching of DVDs, along with the preparation and consumption of toad in the hole, onion gravy and garlic mash, suited me well. It probably sounds dull as a Barrett flat to most, but there is something to be said for quiet, understated contentment.

I am starting out on my 36th year with something of a purpose: I will be looking into the possibility of a PhD; I will refresh my teaching career, maybe take it more seriously; I will take my health more seriously (and myself far less seriously) and I will love my friends, my family and those closest to my heart like the world is ending - I've seen the news, you know: it very well might be ending, it really jolly bloody very well might...

Pause

I had a lovely holiday, ta. Great company, Garlic Festival, much cake, a Chumbawamba gig and time spent looking at the ocean, walking on sand and feeling the warm wind whip my skin.

It has made me more than a little reflective though - only in a very private, personal and selfish way. As such, I have decided to maybe cut down my blogging- it's not an addiction, but it is a distraction at the moment and I have things I need to do.

Anyhow, if I've gone quiet, I haven't disappeared or come to some tragic end - I'm just doing stuff, thinking stuff and being stuff.

The Wight Stuff

As from tomorrow - at some ungodly hour of the day - I shall be taking a brief vacation to see my sis and bro-in-law in the Isle of Wight. I love my sis and wish that everyone had someone like her in his or her life. She manages to be supportive, non-judgemental, impassioned and interesting without ever seeming egotistical or overbearing. She can be a little intense at times (and please don't get her talking about education, it can trigger apoplexy... having said that, we often do- but then again, it is something we have in common...) but that would appear to be a family trait.

Now, I'm a big fan of the Isle of Wight and I make no excuses for it: great cake, pleasant climate, delightfully quirky, slow-paced, red squirrel-only zone surrounded by sea. Sure, it's old-fashioned, certainly, it isn't trendy or a "must see" destination - indeed many folk mock when I say I like it- but it is a very relaxing, comfortable and indescribably English place to go.

I've been missing England. I can't quite put my finger on it - I love Scotland, midgies, fuck-awful weather and all - but there is an embarrassed shrug of Englishness, a hoppy bitter-beeriness, an inbuilt cringe of England of which I need to get a fix from time to time. Even having been in Scotland for over seven years, apart from the odd "aye", "ken" and "get tae fuck" I still sound and speak like a very English Englishwoman. I could probably live here the rest of my life and still sound as though I have somewhat strangled estuary English with nary a trace of a Scots accent to be heard. Englishness is written through me like a stick of rock and every now and then I need to be taken out of my wrapper and sucked for a while in order that it can be more clearly seen: England sucks - but it makes me easier to read...

Anyhow, changing the subject, I still don't know how my Highers students got on with their exams. Rumour is that one of mine-maybe even two- actually got an A. If so, I am chuffed as a chuffy chaffinch - and can happily stick two veryEnglish fingers up at my former employers for not recognising that I am actually an idiosyncratic, unruly, unorthodox yet effective bloody lecturer who really would have done the college a lot of credit. Bollocks to them for not giving me the job. Their loss.

*ahem* I'll be back after this brief break...

"out of the strong came forth sweetness"

(for explanation see this...)

We can never know what is around the corner. No matter how sure we think the route, there are surprises and epiphanies and revelations. Even the most familiar street can be made new. I am seeing new streets, maps and journeys everywhere I turn.

My life is in revolution. I am doing, being, feeling things that I haven't felt in a long time: unexpected joy, positive anxiety, sheer out-and-out joy, edge-of-the-seat thrill of the unknown -and curiosity, tenderness, grinning longing, smiling silent contentment in the moment...

I have had an emotional week - I have cried harder and snottier than in a long time. I have felt regret and remorse, reprieve and renewal. A line from The Winter's Tale keeps singing to me: "It is required/You do awake your faith."(Act V, Scene III) And I do, Paulina, I so do!

Tactfully, I'll leave things open, indistinct and free to all interpretation. As day follows night, you will doubtless find out more soon. For now, I'll keep it selfishly to myself.

I love my chaos - I'm a mad muppet that way!

Indulge me...

(Sonnet CXVI)
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

*ping*

I snapped yesterday. It was over something trivial but sore, I'm not even sure I remember what, but I picked up my coat, stomped out and strode purposefully through the door - only to collapse in tears and slump on the kerb for a moment before struggling my way back home.

I felt foolish before I had even got to my own front door: why couldn't I just block out the negative voices in my head? Why did I have to be so immature, so melodramatic? Why couldn't I say, "look, I'm feeling as though my thick skin has been scraped away by sandpaper and you have just suggested a dip in the North Sea" or even "I just want a hug and to be told it'll all be all right, even if I don't know that I believe it." A simple "just let me be quiet until this feeling passes" would have been better that walking out and making myself look like a petulant fool.

People think that I am "coping" really well, that I am taking to my new life with seamless ease. Fact is, I have some days that I do feel positive and hopeful, that the future is mine for the taking, I rush through those days with with my head down and charge, knocking people flying. Others feel as though I am so trapped and confined by my past that I will never escape, never be entirely myself. I am overwhelmed by some of the new people I am meeting, intimidated by others: I have no idea why they would want to have anything to do with someone so obviously emotionally volatile and self-absorbed. There are times I feel I have nothing to give, that all I am doing is taking - and taking too much and too freely. I get drowned by a feeling of entropy and inertia- and have no real space to get my bearings, not really. Everything is still too strange.

I lurked in my flat for half and hour or so -balling my fists into my eyes and telling myself that it will pass, it will- before slinking back to a place where I received a needless apology, wordless comfort, a cup of tea with a saucer no less, and no reproach. When I returned home again ("home" -I have to keep telling myself that this flat is home, I will believe it soon, I hope) I stroked my fridge goodnight and collapsed into bed.

Some days I just go "ping", others I seem to stretch endlessly. I can't explain it, I can only wish it would stop.

venal pleasures vs spiritual wholeness (part 3)

I have hugged my fridge freezer today. I hugged it yesterday too. I might hug it tomorrow - its silvery doors lead to a world of edible opportunities for me. It stands tall and proud in my kitchen. I need to give it a name - it is my new flatmate and companion. The happy gurglings and hummings remind me of a contented alpaca. Only rectangular. And a fridge. And brand spanking new.

I already have some crumble mix (made myself last night) and ice-cubes sheltering in the freezer compartment. The fridge itself is a little less spartan - inside I have lovingly placed my opened jars, my vegetables and whatever precious ingredients I considered would benefit from being chilled - but I hope to remedy the emptiness soon. I dream of ingredients and my mouth waters, my hands make unconscious chopping and stirring motions... I long to cook properly again.

Blinking at me to my left is an object of strangely crass beauty. Badged with the Ferrari logo, and glinting black and red is my new laptop, made from carbon fibre and very slick. It made me gasp to see its compact technological beauty. It holds the suggestion of speed and power. I'm slightly in awe of it and wonder if my slow fingers are worthy of it. I'm almost afraid to switch it on.

Of course, my drooling over new objects of desire comes at a price. The fridge freezer (oh, I can tell we are going to be friends!) is a "divorce" item - it is bittersweet and, for all the joy it will bring me, still has a hint of sadness. The new laptop is due to an accident with my much loved older one which now cowers in its case, incapable of powering up.

It doesn't sit well with me that these objects, these things, these mere possessions make me so happy. I struggle to accept that I am as swayed by simple goods and chattels as everybody else. I try to kid myself that they are means for me to become more creative: a resource for devloping new epicurean delights; a tool for writing and expressing. Who am I trying to kid? They are simply lovely, lovely things! Ooh! Things! Stuff! Possessions! My possessions... It would seem that the "new" me has a more than a touch of the acquisitional. Probably the old me did too, I just didn't notice.

Until I have overcome my slight distaste at my own materialism, you will find me hugging my fridge and planning meals for friends. And occasionally stroking my new laptop and wondering where my Ferrari will take me...

Vroooooooom! *belch* Oh, the adventures we are going to have...

The Great British Workman

Being able to look at something, suck your teeth and scratch an intimate part of your anatomy before delivering the verdict, "Well, it isn't working properly" is a skill taught to all tradesmen when faced with the blindingly obvious. (When was the last time you called a tradesman in just to look at something fully functioning and admire its successful operation, by the way?) Along with all workmen's tea/coffee requiring two sugars or more, teeth-sucking, scratching and stating the obvious are clichés concerning workmen that are disconcertingly true...

6'4" of lanky, aging hippy, complete with Grateful Dead bandana, arrived this morning to fix my shower door. Since I arrived at my new abode, every joyous ablution has been sullied by a pool of water making its egress from the bottom of the shower, to form a slippery pool that spreads across the bathroom floor. Oddly, he removed his shoes before entering the flat - I'm fairly sure it has never been a temple or mosque at any time so I was curious as to why, but decided it was probably best not to mention it...

After a good few minutes of looking at the shower door - no actual touching of it (perhaps they hadn't been formally introduced, or it maybe seemed shy?) he sprang into action, "I'll go get my gun..." He left me standing by the door feeling more than a little perplexed and alarmed.

Some strange images flitted through my head: are lanky hippies licensed to bear arms? Doesn't it go against some great karmic code to inflict harm? Would threatening the shower door make it
behave itself better? My mind - and not for the first time - boggled. I was of course relieved to see him return with nothing more threatening than a tube of silicone - with which he set-to in a fashion best described as an enthusiastic bodge.

For more than fifteen minutes he prodded, poked and squeezed at my shower door while sitting cross-legged on my damp floor. Without so much as a trickle of water to test it, he sprang from the ground in one smooth motion and declared it fixed. Stopping only to slip his feet into his shoes, he left with unnerving rapidity.

As yet, I am unable to tell whether or not the shower door is now fully functioning and admirable - the silicone needs at least another hour to set before I can risk running water over it. Thankfully the weather is now less oppressively hot and so my simple lust to be washed clean isn't as urgent as it might have been were it warmer. Nevertheless, I am still keen to discover if the holistic diagnosis of the fault and it's enthusiastic siliconing as remedy has worked.

However interestingly presented, the aging hippy was indeed still very much a British tradesman - as such, my faith in his ability to successfully administer a repair is therefore subject to some skepticism. It certainly made for an interesting morning. Well, interesting-ish. You'd certainly find it interesting if it were your shower door, I'm sure...

Umm.

I think I need to get out more...

Night turns into morning eventually

I have things running through my mind.
I can't sleep.
It is now nearly five in the morning and the sky is already light.
I have- not to put to fine a point on it- cooked, fretted, fussed, snapped, paced, drunk and smoked in order to try to dull the ache of... conscience? Hmmm. Maybe that's the word I am looking for. No, I think it's integrity. My integrity is aching - I have a dilemma, maybe more than one.

I am making no sense - but I'll try to write it out.

I am appetite and hunger: physical longing - specific and precise, buoyed by emotion and a newly won sense of myself. I am not just a mind trapped in a body, I am an integral whole. But I am still appetite and hunger - it is there, it is a part.

I am spirit and soul: heartfelt yearning - expansive and expressive, steadied by a corporeal reality and an image of myself. I am not just a body governed by the mind, I am complete. Even so, I am spirit and soul - and meaningless without the physical form.

I want to be impulsive and spontaneous - and yet I fight my impulses, I try to conform, to not offend, to be safe and tame. I want to be emotionally open, free and brave - but I keep coming across barriers of fear and convention that I am wary to cross, some physical, some spiritual and emotional.

I have stopped living a life in my head and now live it in my body. This is new for me. I look at the back of my hands for comfort. I have seen them countless times, I would recognise my hands were they photographed and their picture laid out before me amongst thousands - and yet I cannot describe them, I can't even picture them should I close my eyes. So many things I take for granted - I should look closer, I should remark more, question more, seek more.

But where is the line drawn? What barrier is it that halts me in my tracks, that gives me pause, that makes me reflective and scuttle back to my safe interior world? I need to test out boundaries, to not be afraid of travelling too far that I cannot come back.

-And there is the fear.

I can't simply not be afraid- fear is an emotion and I need to be open to emotion - but I can battle my fears. I can take them on. I can overcome fears - I already have faced so many. But what if by facing my fears I lose something of myself - the self that I have fought so hard to regain and keep? Can I be simply physical and lose nothing of my soul? Can I be merely spiritual and not neglect my physical wants? Should I even try?

I have friends who have faith that I can do and be whatever I want. That I can do and be hard things, things that threaten my body and my soul, and come out stronger, better, more. I'm not sure I share their faith.

This is the abstracted truth a sleepless night brings me: more questions that I can only answer by testing and trying. -More questions to which only I can find my answer...

Of sutures and seething...

I woke up this morning.

No, not a blues song, just a sign that I actually slept. The pain in my jaw that made me wake up every time I turned over in my sleep and placed the right hand side of my face on the pillow has subsided enough to allow me not to wake up every couple of hours or so. Even better, the dissolving sutures holding my gums together are finally beginning to soften and break down. Soon I might even be able to clean my teeth properly, rather than relying on industrial strength mouthwash, delicious dreamy codeine and very ginger brushing of my butchered gingiva.

This is the good news.

The bad news is that I received my final pay cheque from the college. I looked at my online bank statement in disbelief. The sum was paltry. I'm not sure what sort of redundancy settlement they think it is, but pathetic and insulting spring to mind. Were I relying on it to pay my rent this month I would be fucked over a barrel with a very long pole indeed. As it is, I am merely seething that for all the effort and dedication I showed I am remunerated with something that looks like the tip a group of lecturers out on the piss would leave for the impoverished waiting staff. I've probably given more to charity over the past year.

-Tant pis, as the French might put it - it's no use fretting over it now - better it is in my account than elsewhere I suppose, but a five minute peevish seethe has helped me realise that I really do need to do something that rewards me better. Not just in terms of hard cash, but something that makes me feel as though I am doing something that is recognised and rewarded in a way that makes me feel as though I am doing some good and can feel good about myself. (Not that I don't feel good about myself, but you know what I mean...)

In other news, I have added to my collection of bruises. Over the past fortnight, my legs - my shins in particular - have looked as though I have been hacked down by marauding shinty players... Bruises have variously been described as resembling a map of Leeds, Manchester and London (particularly around the Isle of Dogs, now located five inches below my knee...) have taken on the colours of Norwich City FC and West Ham, and even been compared to the spotted coats of giraffes. My newest bruise is not on my legs, however. It sits, barely discernable, in my scalp from where I cracked my head somewhat stiffly on a hand basin. Worse still, I was sober as a Mormon. I did get to see tweety birds and stars and sat dazedly watching Big Brother thinking it fine entertainment... so it wasn't all bad.

Needing a storm....

When I come through the door of my new flat I feel an immediate sense of calm. This is space that I control, that I influence and change. From the smell of the air to the placing of furniture my space reflects me and supports me. I think other people find it calm too. Maybe I am a calm person, underneath the angst and turmoil? I'll find out, I suppose.

I have needed my space and calm - the past few days or so have been challenging, to say the least. You read this blog, so you know that I fell in love with my very dear, very inspiring, very much cherished friend - and I've been struggling with that, along with everything else. We have been trying to sort things out - to recognise, acknowledge and accept some of the blurriness that has occurred between us- to explain and listen and give ourselves some way to refine and redefine who and what we are, to ourselves and each other.

It always comes back to the same thing: we are friends. I would-and will- defend her blindly (and still be gently frank enough to tell her privately, to her face, if I think she is doing something wrong) and I have absolute faith that she would (and has, and will) do the same for me; I would - and will - continue to tell her of all the amazing, fantastic, enviable, unique qualities and gifts she has and of the potential - and actual - greatness (of soul, strength, character, creativity, compassion, love, integrity, loyalty, empathy, energy, vision, expression, passion...) she possesses. She has inspired me to be more than I am or seem, to be braver than I think I can be, to be confident that I have something to offer and that I should not be afraid of success -nor should I listen to the mocking voices of ghosts from the past. I admire her dedication to doing the right thing, rather than the easy one- even when I see it ties her in knots and feel her agony in trying. I respect her morality, values and philosophy. I accept her flaws as she accepts mine: I love my friend.

Selfishly, I mourn that we cannot be lovers and yet I can still celebrate that we have a friendship built on love: this is not some weak consolation prize - this is a unique prize in itself.

We have said a lot to each other - things I will keep close to my heart and not share here or anywhere- and much of it I will probably think and reflect upon for a long time to come. This sullen heat the summer has brought seems like an apt pathetic fallacy. I tend to overdramatize, I know - but the weather is turning the world I am in into some kind of crucible, burning and combining and making something new. All that is needed is a storm to clear the air, to temper what has been formed - I think we've had our own personal storm, but a meteorological one would seem fitting.

"I'm gonna make you an offer you cannot refuse..."

Yesterday I had some nasty periodontal surgery. (I will spare you the details - but it was nastier than I had anticipated. The bits of blood and gum hoovered up by the aspirator blocked the pipe and caused the engine to whine like spoilt brat and eventually pack up...Nice...) Today I have woken up and the right side of my face looks like Marlon Brando in The Godfather, or maybe as though I have a single mump, possibly I have hamster ancestry, Pete Doherty's fatter twin sister... You get the picture...

One of the things that makes it bearable is the liberal use of codeine as a painkiller. The precioussssss caplets were given to me liberally at the dental hospital as I was advised that "post-operative pain is 100% likely" - I do love a dentist that doesn't mince his words: not " a wee bit of discomfort" nor, "a bit of an ache" but "pain.. 100% likely." Anyhow, the codeine makes the world floaty-light and I slept for over 9 hours last night, which is a miracle in itself. I'd even had a very lovely snooze earlier in the evening...*sigh* Very lovely indeed.

My next surgery is in August - I look forward to it (only because I can't look back on it....) and hope that the codeine lasts....

Boxed Up

Well, I'm down to the last three or so boxes to unpack - and thanks to the most delightful dyke to ever wield an allen key, even my books are displayed on reasonably sturdy shelves and my voluminous underwear safely hidden in a chest of drawers.

Oh yes, and I am back online. Which is a relief...

I will blog more, more comprehensively and more reflectively once I have had time to reflect: as much as the flat looks relatively settled and homely, I am still in a state of "Woooooooooaaaaaaaaaaah!" (-to be said in the best Keanu-in-Bill-and-Ted voice). I can't really express it any more clearly than that.

Today brings the joy of oral surgery: two hours with my mouth open while a dental surgeon does something unspeakable with my gums... to be repeated a further three times later in the year. What fun! no, really! I've never had it before: it's a new experience!


So, in short - I am well, I am settling in and down, my head is clearer. I am optimistic, hopeful, eager to seek new challenges, meet new people, be a new person, just "be" - and I am boxed up, tidy, safe, sorted.

Ah - and next year I am going to be climbing Ben Nevis. Bring it on!

Change

I won't be blogging much in the next week or so.

Right now I am packing my life into boxes and figuring out how to "be". (Not who to be - I'm not going to be on Stars In Their Eyes - but simply how.)

How to be single
How to be happy
How to be a friend
How to be independent
How to be open
How to be restrained
How to be responsible
How to be able to make mistakes
How to be able grieve
How to be able to repair myself
How to be able to forgive
How to be able to forgive myself
How to be hopeful
How to be me.

I'm sure there are more things that I need to figure out how, but these will do for starters.

I'll blog when I've moved/when I feel like it.

Hair today...

In a fit of madness, I've had my hair cut. I say madness, but actually I was just maddened by my sweaty mop falling into my eyes and my looking as though a dishevelled Yorkshire Terrier was sitting atop my head. The recent muggy weather has been playing hell, trichologically speaking - and along with an anti-depressant induced tendency to sweat at the mildest exertion, my hair has been a wild indicator of my physical and mental state.

I have a curious relationship with hairdressers: once, I wanted to be one (but school wouldn't supply me with a reference - they insisted I sit my A-levels. Bastards...) now I shy away from them, fearful of what their mighty scissors might do. When I was a young teen I was visited by a young dykey hairdresser, who would cut my hair in the lounge while gossiping to me about the exploits of her gardener girlfriend. (I didn't stand a chance of heterosexuality, did I?) My hair has never been cut better. Alas, she disappeared one day - after her girlfriend had been discovered to have been doing more than simply trimming a neighbour's bush - and was last heard of in Brighton...

In the past, hairdressers have done some fairly dreadful things to me- the "very nearly a mullet, but not quite" , the "Princess Diana (after she died)", the "football player manqué"... and then there's just the, "too short, too bloody short". Luckily, my current hairdresser - a Scots-Italian socialist whose small talk was today mainly focused on the World Cup - errs just on the right side of sensible when he wields the scissors. I don't have much to complain about - and I haven't been asked about my holidays once - I have been grilled on what I thought about eco-tourism, but it's not the same thing.

Today's 'do is a little on the short side, but not hat-wearingly so. Give it a couple of weeks and it will be fine-I have to keep telling myself that: it's my post- haircut mantra to deal with the rising panic every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror.

-Bet the weather changes, now I'm prepared for the heat...

Huntin'

There is an art to flathunting in Edinburgh. It is an art I would appear to lack...
I have been stood-up by one particular letting agency twice, arrived at another place only to find it was never to let in the first place (don't ask...) and been given excuse after excuse as to why a broom cupboard is actually a really sensible place to put a shower and why an airing cupboard makes a great toilet. (Actually, I had a flatmate who thought the same thing: trouble was there was no plumbing in the particular airing cupboard he favoured... dirty, pissed bastard).

Any large-ish space that can have a stud-wall partition -to separate normal rooms into teensy weensy ickle rooms -can be considered a "one bedroom flat" and therefore cost an arm and at least the lower half of a leg per month to rent. Seriously, if you have money to invest, some plasterboard and no morals at all you could do worse than invest in the property letting market in Edinburgh. Indeed, you could probably turn an ordinary one bedroom flat into a dwelling for at least three or four people, given a creative flair with "cabin beds" and a total disregard of health and safety legistlation.

Thankfully-references and non-bouncy cheques notwithstanding - I won't have to participate in this particular pastime any longer: I've hunted myself a flat! It's a bit crummy, the bathroom is scarily bleak, but I've been promised (ha!) a new shower at the very least and a fresh coat of paint, even some new furniture. It even has a newish kitchen and double glazing (which seeing as it's on a main road should prove handy...) I should be moved-in by the end of the month.

Now, if only I could sort out the job thing... Hmmm...