1. I'm trying to cut down on f-lock. It's a bad habit.

2. Needed a repeat prescription for one of my migraine medicines, and since I was there anyway I asked the GP to refer me to the genetics testing people, which is something the consultant of a few weeks back suggested and I said I wanted some time to think about. I've thought, and now I'm thinking I would like to discuss the pros and cons of this with the people in charge of that sort of thing (for it is my understanding that they do not so much seize blood on the first meeting as make sure you understand what such testing involves and what the consequences are for you). So, that's in motion. And I'm in a weird compound state of being suddenly freaked out by the reminder that why yes I do indeed have a rare condition that can be tested for and might mean bad things, and being irrationally grumpy because [Big City]'s miles away, damn it.

3. There may be a new boyfriend-type-figure soon. Not right now, but soon. Possibly. Online dating site, been talking for ages, get on really well, trying to meet up and we'll see how it goes. He's not currently looking for anything serious or long-term, which suits my current situation fine. (Dr Recurring Headache is currently off angsting at a mountain or something.)

4. I love teaching first-years. I really do. I get a bit grumpy when I don't get to teach anyone else ever, but mostly, I love it absolutely to pieces. Anybody wanting to donate first-years can leave them in my office pigeonhole and I will teach them too.


Saturday, 9 August 2008 12:06
One of my friends has been badgering me to sign up to the online dating site she uses for a while. It's free to create a profile, so I put one up last night. You need to actually pay money if you want to contact anyone or arrange to meet them; I haven't done that yet, although it seems like a fitting way to spend ex-boyfriend alimony* if I do. Also, two interesting-sounding people have already added me to their favourites and one of them has sent me a message. Instant ego boost!

Anyone have any experience with these things (or with the Guardian Soulmates one in particular)? I am so very much not looking for marriage and babies and long walks on the beach etc etc right now, but I could do with a hobby.

* Not exactly what it sounds like. Long story.
My friend Dr K's advice for how to deal with ex-boyfriends giving talks on Healthy Relationships:

1. Attend in disguise.
2. Stay quiet until near the end.
3. When the ex asks if there are any questions, immediately raise your hand and shout 'Yeah. Where's my guitar?"

I wub my friends.

Meanwhile, still internet- and phone-less at home, still stuck in the middle of pay grumbliness at work, still dealing with ongoing soul-gnawing graduation issues in my department. I've finally got the thesis together in a single pdf and sent it to the binders, though (and wouldn't you think that would be simple? wouldn't you THINK? but you would be OH SO WRONG) so it will at least be submitted to the demon spawn of Registry in time to graduate.

Also, despite having neither the time nor the money, I have decided to get my hair cut on Monday because it is bugging me. A multitude of other stuff is bugging me, too, but at least the hair I can fix.

ETA: Okay, the hair question. Right: At the moment, I have a dyed streak near the front of my hair, which was red and is now a sad shade of orangey. (Orangey - like orange, and yet not quite.) I wish something done with this when I get my hair done on Monday. People who do more adventurous hair stuff than me, what do you suggest as options? I've got 'dying it to match the rest of my hair' and 'dying it back to sparky red', and then I am stuck. Could I put another colour in here? Should I? I would like it to grow out, eventually... Or should I just go wild and get all sorts of highlights put in my hair?)
A question, especially for those of you of the female persuasion:[Poll #1137469](If it makes a difference, imagine the comparison was made in the context of a conversation on how great film noir was as a genre, by a man who was curled up with his head on your shoulder at the time.)

I ask out of curiosity, not uncertainty; I take it 100% as a compliment. Just curious about whether I'm alone in that.
(Party #2 sucked. I know, I know, you warned me and then I went anyway. But mostly it sucked because I was exhausted rather than because of the people, and the hosts are lovely people who gave me good food, so it was not a terrible night.)

I think my worst habit is impatience. It manifests itself in a lot of tiny ways: I don't watch many films because I hate the idea of sitting still for two hours; I can't play that "guess who I met today? No, seriously, guess!" game for more than eight seconds without going crazy ("Who? Who? Just TELL ME!"); I still can't sit through a lecture without wanting to inch my way out of the room. And I can't deal with ambiguity, not at all. I like things being certain, and definite, and sure.

If I was a more reasonable person, I'd probably be quite happy now. There's this boy, and consequently there's this situation, and it might turn into something, and it might not. Either way is fine with me (although if I get to pick, I'm picking the first); I don't have much invested in this one. The reasonable thing to do would be to wait until I see him again, which should be fairly soon, and see how it goes. The reasonable thing to do would be to accept that currently, this is in a state of pleasant, let's-not-rush-things, all-the-time-in-the-world uncertainty. But as it is, I deal with any kind of uncertainty like I deal with nails on a blackboard.

And the best thing? The reason it is in a state of uncertainty, rather than a state of Definitive Absolute Answers, is because I suggested that we leave it there on a good note and see how we felt the next time we met. Truly, I am my own worst enemy.

Blame the rain.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007 13:36
Things are currently a little bleak here at Casa del Cat. Nothing new's happened (which is sort of the point, really). Thing is, the Where I Am With My Life situation right now, re: employment, finance, friends moving away, etc., is not in a good place, not in a good place at all. My default state is to be fairly cheery and optimistic and find the silver lining (sure, I have no money, but look at all the free time!), and so for about 90% of the time, I'm in a good mood anyway. The other 10% of the time sort of seeps in at moments like this. Doesn't help that the weather's so bad.

Just to break down the current angst!woe!pain (about which I'm sure I'll feel better fairly soon, but in the meantime, why not itemise it?)
- Friends moving away: J (my former flatmate), other J (my excellent witty and sparkling office-mate), D (my dear and wonderful friend on whom I have something of a platonic crush), and A (the not-boyfriend) have left. This sucks.
- Academic job market: HA.
- Current employment/finance situation: basically, I am crossing my fingers and praying for a hefty teaching load next semester, otherwise I will be utterly, utterly screwed. The teaching-free summer is going to HURT, regardless. Credit card debt, here I come.
- Timing: Even if I get an academic job this year, which is a big 'if' at this utterly sucky point in the university funding cycle, it won't start until next autumn anyway. See above, re: finances.
- I have to mark these pain-inducing essays in a very, very short turnaround. Our turnarounds are tight anyway, and usually involve the early hours of the morning. This is going to be close to impossible.
- It is RAINING.
- My non-academic friends and family keep making jokes about "joining the real world" and why I don't have a job yet given that I handed in the PhD in September. Yeah, that's going to be fun to keep hearing.
- The only other one of my friends or colleagues in the same position as me right now is A, the not-boyfriend, who is currently a) very dismal and b) trying to find a job and make a life for himself many hundreds of miles away. (So I'm guessing it's 'off for the indefinite future', at any rate.) All of which sucks.

Like I said, I'll doubtless cheer up very soon, but right now I just want to stop and chat with the bleakness for a little while.

Life/work balance

Thursday, 12 April 2007 15:12
Like a magic eight-ball, in a way. (Sentence selected at random through flip-through of nearest book on desk.) 

Hey, Derrida: do friendly e-mails imply a) friendliness or b) wish to retain one's distance?

"Once again, here as elsewhere, wherever deconstruction is at stake, it would be a matter of linking an affirmation (in particular a political one), if there is any, to the experience of the impossible, which can only be a radical experience of the perhaps."

Radical experience of the perhaps? Oh, well, since you put it so nicely...
I grumble about relationship stuff sometimes, because grumbling is cathartic and because the stuff is there to grumble about. And I'm not unhappy - I don't spend long nights weeping softly into a pillow, and the conversations are less "I will never find love!' and more "You know, in the future we should just print Dorothy Parker poems on Valentine's cards and save ourselves the angst" - but I've dealt with a few too many men who've a) been attracted to me and b) responded to the fact of a) with some variety of conflicted, panicky horror, and that's the kind of thing that'll start making dents in your self-esteem if you don't work it through with arm-waving grumbles every now and again. I mean, I know that I'm a long way from perfect, but it's not like I have two heads or sell babies on eBay or vote Tory or anything. Sheesh.

But right now - however annoying it can get, however much of an idiot any of the men in question were, however much I could write long and bitter spiels about certain academics who shall go unnamed - I'm considering myself lucky. Because you need more than one person to grumble, and some of my friends are having a bad time.

At least I don't believe nobody's ever going to love me.
At least I don't have a manipulative little toad of an ex-boyfriend living in my house, who's successfully whittled my confidence down to such a tiny sliver that I won't kick him out.
At least nobody I love, post-painful breakup, has ever let me know "out of courtesy" that they're seeing somebody else, via text message.

All things considered, I'll stick to the conflicted attraction. At least there's some level on which I can understand that.
Ways In Which Former Partners, Paramours and Pseudo-Boy/Girlfriends Of Myself And Friends Were Not Reading From The Same Book As We Were, As Established In Several Sequential Conversations Over Late Shifts And Coffee. [Ideal situation would be 'Was reading from the same book throughout relationship.']

1. Was reading from entirely different book (which just happened, due to vaguely similar cover design, to resemble reading partner's).

2. Was reading similar book in different genre, a confusion which lasted a while due to similarity of plot and key characters. (See: 'Shining'.)

3. Owned valued first-edition copy of book, kept safely and lovingly in a low-humidity, fixed-temperature environment, in a glass case, supported by foam pads and not to be touched with human hands. Spent a long time soliloquising about how much book was adored, but forgot to actually read it.

4. Was reading same book, different edition. Page numbers different throughout; characters may come to drastically different fates; all conversations that require reference points doomed to confusing failure.

5. Was reading same book until friends started saying how sweet it was that both parties had made it to page 125; dropped book, ran for hills.

Your contributions? Suggestions? Ideal happily-ever-after situations don't count, since all happy families are alike, etc. etc. (And in the interests of honesty, I should point out that I'm the guilty party in at least one of the above.)


Sunday, 11 June 2006 23:42
I am a bad, bad PhD student who will never finish her thesis. Give me a whole lifetime, and there'll be a blank Word document and a blinking cursor where there should be a Chapter 2. Kingdom can come and find me still at my desk, muttering "I'll be there in a second, I'm six months past deadline!"

There are three reasons for this:

1) I have three part-time jobs at the moment. This makes for a less hectic timetable than the one I used to have, but somehow, there's always something to do that's more important than my thesis. And anything's more important than my thesis. Really. Anything.

2) PhD theses are eighty thousand words long, and that's a lot of words. A book's worth. I mean, who'd consider signing up to write that kind of thing? You'd have to be some kind of self-hating maniac.

3) "Of course, you could go back to the library - or you could come to the beach." In June. In the sunshine. When the implied rest of the sentence is "and eat ice-cream while arguing over substitutionary atonement, and then go out for dinner to the kind of restaurant we can just about afford, where there will be water and sunshine and tourists and where the staff will assume we're both rich and a couple and call us 'sir' and 'madam', and then find a pub where they sell expensive gin very cheaply and stay out until the early hours of the morning arguing over the exact temperature of the freezing rain that day four years ago when you somehow talked me into going to the zoo." Yeah, that's a difficult decision.

I'll be here forever. But it's summer, and I don't care.

grr. argh.

Sunday, 7 May 2006 18:10
eye_of_a_cat: (restart/resume?)

And annoying and manipulative and exhausting to have any form of contact with at all, even if it's just e-mail, but mostly: an idiot.

It is my ex's considered opinion that, since we share a lot of the same friends, it would be less awkward for everyone if we could be friends again too. Which is difficult to argue with, but only in the same way that "I don't have enough time, so it would be convenient if I could buy some sort of time-travel device" is difficult to argue with. Both have the same likelihood of happening.

Besides, I don't think our mutual friends are in agonies of awkwardness anyway. (I'd ask if the question ever came up, but seriously, would you interrupt Object Of Crush reciting John Donne to you* just to say "Hey, let's talk about my ex for a while"?) We're adults. They can cope. And, truly, I can think of few things more likely to ruin any time I spend with them than having the man I nearly married when I was crazy lurking in the background.

* Yes, he really does this.

Go Ask Alice

Tuesday, 21 February 2006 00:19
My house is owned by my housemate's parents. Sometimes they come here to visit their daughter, and sometimes they come here to do landlordy stuff. These things do not go well together.

And that's MY DAMN GERANIUM. )

Otherwise, I'm exhausted from a lack of sleep and a lot of walking, and aching in muscles I didn't know I had from playing dodgeball and stick-in-the-mud with a bunch of five-year-olds. But it was a good, happy weekend. I've been worrying a lot about deadlines and teaching recently, feeling completely incapable of balancing all the things I'm supposed to do, and really I should have cancelled going to Saturday's party and spent the time working. Or at least, gone and then left early. Or at least, gone and stayed over and then left first thing the next morning.

At least, that would have been sensible. But I couldn't stand going back to all the things I'm worried about, and the friend who's already met the geranium very good, very calming person to be near, so I spent the rest of the weekend with him: playing games with little kids, kneeling on stone, being introduced to people who like me before they've met me because of whatever description they've heard. I did no work at all, forgot to worry about it, and then both made my chapter deadline and taught two wonderfully successful classes this morning. Apart from the geranium, I'm on top of the world.

I'll be away...

Monday, 4 July 2005 01:01
...for the next week or so, visiting family back in England. Assuming 225,000 protestors aren't leaving on the same day, anyway. (I'm still sulking because I didn't get to go to the march in Edinburgh.) I have a bunch of work to do while I'm there, too - I had great plans to get lots of chapter written today, but it was not to be, and my supervisor won't be staying on sabbatical forever. Oh, well, at least all the people who keep asking just what it is I do every day will now get to read it over my shoulder.

What I've done instead of work is to tidy my computer, deleting all the stuff I don't need and organising the stuff I do. (Deleting your ex's old university essays must be the same kind of therapeutic as throwing all his clothes out onto the lawn, only with more emphasis on Shia and Sunni disagreements.) This meant that I rediscovered Escape Velocity, a Mac space-strategy-arcade-type-of-game which is like heroin in pixel form. I might not have a revised version of my newest thesis chapter, but I have got a really cool spaceship with a bunch of defensive technology upgrades and a stack of radar missiles, and that has to count for something, doesn't it? Er, maybe?

(And happy whatever it is that you colonial types celebrate today. Some kind of argument over tea, right? ;)
When life becomes stressful, buy a teach-yourself-origami book. Mine is called "Practical Origami", which resulted in a lot of amusement for housemate and friends over how practical origami could possibly be ("fold yourself a filing cabinet!") and what theoretical origami would be like. So far, I've made a hen, a flower, the dove-that-wasn't, and a stork which looks very like a pterodactyl. Pterodactyls are far more interesting than storks.

Other stuff )
First: I am not trying to generalise about all women here. I don't intend to claim/imply that a small bunch of people I know are a representative sample, and I'm not even going to start this with 'is it just me?' because I'm pretty damn sure it's not. But it seems to be coming up so often lately that I need to think it through in writing.

Okay. Trying to keep this as calm and - fair, I suppose - as it's possible to, because it's not that I'm angry, it's just that I don't get it.

Also, starting in a roundabout way to avoid any angry ranting. So.

'But don't you want a man to look after you?' )
(introspective angst and turmoil etc. of interest to very few. you've been warned.)

On the less-bright side, this. )


Tuesday, 16 November 2004 01:01
A friend was visiting the other day, and neither of us had seen a film for ages, and we wanted to eat overpriced and foul-tasting sweets in a old cinema that smells of dust and popcorn rather than see anything in particular, and the choice (small cinema) was between Resident Evil 2 and Bridget Jones 2. Bridget Jones won.

I'm not one of those feminist types, but...

No, forget it. I am one of those feminist types. And I'm young and female, so I think I'm supposed to identify with Bridget Jones and Ally McBeal and the gang of four on Sex and the City, which is where my problem starts. This isn't about wanting a role model - if I want a role model from TV, I know better than to look at anything marketed at women, anyway - and it's not about wanting female characters to be perfect. It's not about wanting them to be interesting, either, although maybe it's closer to that. I don't have a problem with Ally and Bridget and Carrie and co. being a collection of stereotypes and problems and insecurities. I have a problem with Ally and Bridget and Carrie and co. being a collection of stereotypes and problems and insecurites when the insecurities are supposed to be my insecurities, and the problems are supposed to be my problems, and the stereotypes are all supposed to apply to me.

And yes, they are. The grumbling about these characters isn't the sound of angry feminists grinding an axe against a manufactured cause. These are characters who are always projecting anything they do and think on to everybody else, from Bridget dividing the world up into 'singletons' and 'smug marrieds' to Carrie writing about what 'we' want and how 'we' mess it up to Ally - well, okay, I mostly just remember her dancing around with a CGI baby, but anybody who didn't see that baby as the boogieing incarnation of everything we've ever heard about 'career women' and 'biological clocks' was kidding themselves. And that's not to mention the way they're sold to us, in every interview and trailer and promotion that tells us these characters have revolutionised female friendship or let women laugh at themselves or said anything at all about what it's 'really like' to be female today.

The only reason we don't think this is weird is because, from this kind of thing, we expect it. But it is weird. Imagine M*A*S*H narrated by Radar O'Reilly, who spends the entire time comparing the Korean war to the eternal battle of the sexes and talking fashion with Klinger. Imagine a Quantum Leap where Sam leaps into men's lives so he can fix their relationships, then delivers a five-minute speech about men and women and sex and love at the end of each episode over a montage of couples together. (Although I don't know who that would be in QL. Ziggy/Lothos OTP! (And if anyone got that, could you please tell me what the last episode was about?)) Or an NYPD Blue with five minutes of police work and forty of detectives meeting for lunch to complain about their girlfriends. And imagine that these evil AU versions were shown at primetime and marketed always, always, as something for men to laugh and cry and identify with.

See? Now it's weird.

And who, exactly, are we supposed to identify with? Women who talk about nothing but men and shoes and shoes and men. Women who spend half their time telling each other they don't need men in their lives, then the other half asking each other how to get a man and crying that they'll die single. Women with all the depth of a halibut. (And the last time I saw a character whose wardrobe played as big a role as Carrie Bradshaw's, she was marrying Legolas.) I wouldn't want to spend an afternoon with these people, let alone be them. And yet they're supposed to be exaggerated versions of me.

Maybe that's why fantasy and sci-fi and anything given a half-past-midnight timeslot and labelled 'cult' has a bigger female audience than non-watchers usually think. Okay, nobody's going to claim Kirk's Love Interest #637 is three-dimensional and interesting, and there's still usually more male characters than female, and so on. But when they do have female characters that the scriptwriters pay attention to, they're usually characters first and female second. We aren't really supposed to identify with them, necessarily, any more than we identify with the men. Which means they can actually be interesting once in a while.

Helen Fielding, the creator of Bridget Jones, said in an interview about the new film (and specifically, in this question, about whether Bridget should 'change in order to reflect the feminist agenda' - gah), that 'if we can't laugh at ourselves without having a panic attack about what it says about women, we haven't got very far with our equality'. Which would be fine. Except, well, weren't we supposed to be laughing at Bridget?


Sunday, 3 October 2004 01:40
Housewarming party for new guy in the department. Vodka + flu = quite an interesting combination. Mmm, dizzy.

New Guy's girlfriend's mother was, I swear, the blonde Catholic identical separated-at-birth-but-evidently-not-mentally twin of my ex's mother. I spent half the party avoiding her and not being quite sure why - "Hey, why has she not demanded I come shopping with her and rolled her eyes at me for not doing her son's ironing in the same sentence?" - before realisation dawned. Looks, hairstyle, clothes, everything, identical. It was weird. (Ex's mother went from hating me for not being Ex's last girlfriend, to pretending to like me in a very artificial way, to being all tearful and upset because "My boy's too young to get married especially to you!", to being all "Yay let's go shopping for wedding dresses together and I'll do one of the readings at your wedding and I still hate you!". I said she could read the "Intreat me not to leave thee..." passage from Ruth, which for some reason Ex did not find as funny as I did.)

Party was good, though. It's oddly liberating to be around lecturers in your department who are drunker than you could ever manage to be. Especially when they gather in the kitchen to exchange horror stories about a former member of department well-known for hitting on undergraduates and sticking his tongue down the throat of conference speakers. Ewww - and since I've seen him, double ewww - but, well, interesting conversation. Oh yes.



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