hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
I ended up having a ludicrously busy week.

Tuesday night was the official formation meeting of Levenshulme WI, wherein the WI advisor from our "federation" (Lancashire) had come along to ask us to formally create the branch. Her expectations of these questions being perfunctory went awry almost immediately over arguments about the name which the committee thought had been sorted but a bunch of the potential members (including yours truly, to be fair) did not think we'd had any input on at all and didn't like the appointed name very much. Then when it was discovered that the year's subscription was payable up-front and there is no mechanism for paying by installments (the first year, at least), no concessionary rate and no ability to eg have a raffle or a fund people could donate to to help people less able to afford the cost, we started asking how to change this and it turns out it'd require the WI constitution to be changed. And we asked how to do that, and the at this point clearly overwhelmed lady who'd dealt with a room full of shouty women for at least half an hour pointed out that we weren't even officially a WI yet and could we do one thing at a time.

I don't know if I've ever been so proud of Levenshulme as I was just then.

The lady from the facebooks who came over to clip Gary the Wonder Dog's toenails for us (no mean feat!) the other week was there, asked how he was doing. At least two conversations were started by the fact that I still had a sticker on my top of a Lego spaceman, since I'd come to the meeting almost straight from looking after Small T that afternoon.

Wednesday was one of Small's performances in the local am-dram's pantomime, and he'd asked me to come along, so I've seen my first panto. He also wanted me to go along when his parents took him to Blackpool for the illuminations before Christmas, so I have this family to thank for a couple of very English experiences I'd otherwise not have had (oh, and I got to see his school nativity too, which...I'm still too American to think school nativity sounds anything other than bizarre). I could see how a lot of the British comedy I love got to be what it is because of having panto as a distant relative.

Friday I slept until two o'clock in the afternoon because of a combination of sinusitis and nasty period/PCOS pain. I had to go lie down for a couple of hours at four. I did most of the housework that needed doing despite this, and even went to the bank and took Gary for his last walk with us before going off on his holidays at the weekend so that we could be away without worrying about him.

We went to Yorkshire. First Hebden Bridge on Saturday afternoon, where I remembered how to get to the Picture House despite having only been there once before and not paying any attention (yes it's not hard to find, but I'm very bad at finding things, and I even remembered we had to cross the road because the pavement is too narrow in one bit). We met Jennie and had time for a quick half at the Old Gate, sitting outside under cover from the freezing rain because it was too busy inside, no doubt due to it being the only pub that was open.

We were there to see The Tingler, a silly Vincent Price movie I'd seen at Stockport Plaza for Halloween a couple of years ago. We got to/had to sit up in the balcony; the ground floor was still flood damaged enough that there were no seats in it at all. This meant we were quite a distance from the screen, but it's not a huge place so I could follow what was happening fine. It was part of a series called Surreal Reels, which meant we got a little survey to fill in about our experience which we made sure to leave glowing remarks about (asked to rate it from one to five, Jennie drew an extra box with a six next to it just so she could tick that) because we want more of this sort of thing. There was even atiny introductory talk, a few minutes from someone Jennie identified as "Paddy from Emmerdale," who apparently likes horrror movies and directs them in his free time. It was like a tiny slice of Fantastic Film Weekend for us, so obviously we were all delighted. We ate sweets and giggled a lot at the film's unintentionally funny moments, of which there were many.

We stayed over in Brighouse and hung around for Games Night on Sunday. But not before a lovely pub lunch at Millers. I actually played some games and didn't have a migraine or anything this month, though I was definitely feeling Out Of Sorts due to the combination of getting over sinusitis and having a really hurty PCOS-y period. Since Andrew had taken this week off work, we didn't have to rush back to Manchester on shitty Sunday evening trains and stayed another night.

The event of this week was going to Newcastle with JT, his train ticket for which I'd gotten him for his Christmas present. His family's from the area and he lived in South Shields when he was young, thus knew all the best pubs to go to (The Bridge Hotel, right by the castle, srsly) and was as excited as I've ever seen anyone about being able to get something called a saveloy dip. He brought one of those insulated shopping bags so he could take back some saveloys and pease pudding, having told the woman in Dickson's that he'd traveled 78 miles to get this stuff. She was going off shift just as we left the shop and caught up with us while hurrying to the Metro station near where we were walking, so she asked us how long we were there and stuff, made small talk before our ways parted. People are so friendly. Going down the escalator at a Metro station is enough like using the Underground that I was shocked when someone sprinting by me (same rules as London: stand on the right, panic and flail on the left) who bumped into me actually turned and said sorry!

Today I was in Brighouse then, mostly getting James food and drinks and painkillers because he couldn't move, but having a nice day apart from that. Mat got a new kitchen toy that means I could take his old food processor home with me, and considering how many recipes I'd otherwise be interested in require or at least benefit from one, I am very excited. I might have to make salsa tomorrow. If I can figure out how it works! There's a fearsome amount of attachments and whatnot.

I feel like I've already figured out enough new things for this week because this morning I set up the new dehumidifier to replace the one that stopped working in our basement a few days ago. It's untolerably damp there without it, and much as I resented how much the damn things cost I had to admit it was needed. It seems to be worth the price though because it is very swish: it has like a thermostat for humidity (humidostat?) so you can set it at whatever level you want, and it also has the possibility of draining through a tube so I don't have to faff around emptying the water tank or worrying about the moisture collecting when for whatever reason I haven't been able to do so. Between this and the handrail on the basement stairs, finally installed by the council after an Adult Social Services referral to sort that and some grab rails for the bathtub (that only took nine months, but never mind, it was done for free!), I feel like it might not always be such a grim and uninviting place. It's still pretty grim and uninviting, mind. But less so!

Day off

Jan. 29th, 2016 09:51 am
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
After a week of being very busy, and being pretty ill for half of it as well, I'm looking forward to doing Nothing At All today.

Well, except the dishes really need doing.

And a couple of loads of laundry.

And that reminds me, I need to order a new dehumidifier, because ours is broken.

And I need to send at least two e-mails sorting out volunteering stuff.

And apply for two jobs.

And if I'm not too ill, I want to go to the discussion about Bisexuality: Identities, Politics, and Theories this evening...

But that still seems like a day of doing nothing!
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
So it turns out 70s TV The Incredible Hulk is a thing.

James and I are watching it and he says "I love how he turns into the Hulk when he gets 'angry or outraged.' "

"Good thing they didn't have Twitter then," I said.

"I was gonna say: 'Damn, someone's been misgendered!...oh shit. I really liked that shirt...' "

I then imagined a comic or something about Hulk spending his evenings mending shirts, thinking to himself "this is the one where [twitter.com profile] DHLinton got called 'a fucking feminatzi' and they thought there was a t in the middle of the word 'nazi'...this was the one I was wearing when I learned that Chibnall got the Doctor Who job, this one is where England lost three wickets in the time it took me to eat breakfast..."

The possibilities are endless.

Ten years

Jan. 22nd, 2016 08:40 am
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Here's what Andrew posted yesterday.

Ten years ago today, give or take a time zone or six, I got married. (Coincidentally, so did Holly.)

I’m not very good at talking about my feelings, so I won’t talk about how much I love her, or how lucky I am, or any of that. And the wedding day itself is not one we particularly look back on with any great pleasure — it was less than two months after Holly’s brother died, and she was moving to another continent away from her family, which among many other things made the dynamics of the whole “not losing a daughter but gaining a son” thing rather different, and not in a good way.

But our wedding *was* the occasion of the one actual romantic gesture I’ve ever made, so I can at least mention that.

Holly and I both enjoy the work of the songwriter Stew. I’m a bigger fan, but we both knew and loved albums like Guest Host and The Naked Dutch Painter. These days Stew is a Tony Award-winning writer of musicals, but back then he and his band The Negro Problem didn’t have even the small level of celebrity he does now.

And because of that lack of celebrity, Stew offered an occasional service where he would write and record songs on commission. So — with the financial help of several friends who helped me pay for it as their wedding gift to us — I managed to scrape together enough money to pay for a song about Holly, for our wedding. (This was a major effort. At the time I was working three jobs just to pay off enough debts to get into a position where I could meet the financial requirements for her getting a spouse visa).

Here it is. https://olsenbloom.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/nows-eternity.mp3

To help make sense of some of the less obvious bits of lyric, my wife’s name is Holly, she comes from Minnesota (“the land of ten thousand lakes”), we’d met over the Internet originally (this was back when that was a relatively rare thing), and she was moving from the US to the UK.

I still think it’s a truly great song, and I’m pretty sure I’d think that even if it wasn’t about a truly great person.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
From our U.S. correspondent, Holly:

"For years I mocked the Americans mercilessly for telling me my accent was so sophisticated," said some lady named Fiona, "and that was certainly something I never got back home in Liverpool! I kept telling that joke about us being two countries separated by a common language. After I was asked what 'bum' and 'chips' mean, I got a lecture about the dangers of linguistic prescriptivism and a demand to pack my bags."

"My test just consisted of listening to an earnest white Midwesterner say 'fanny pack' without giggling," a bloke called Kevin said, "and I failed. Of course! It's disrespecting my heritage to expect anything else!"

"Sure," said Alex, "it's funny to tell the Americans they're not speaking proper English. But if they start using our own rules against us and decide we have to say 'bathroom' when we mean 'toilet,' just so we can stay here in the land of the free refills and the home of the fuckoff big cars, that's taking things too far! You can't even use 'fuck' as punctuation here," he said, clearly on the edge of breaking down. "People get all upset. But...but the petrol's so cheap!"

Then he loses his battle against the sobs. "Gas," he says sadly. "I mean 'gas'! Not petrol! Don't make me go back to Milton Keynes!"
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
I feel like I did nothing yesterday even though that's patently untrue.

I did a load of laundry, changed the bedding, cleaned everything in the kitchen, went to the gym, went to Asda and dragged home a lot more stuff than I intended to so now the house is full of food, even my knitting-and-Netflix time was spent taking notes on the thing I'm re-watching because I'd like to submit something for an anthology on David Bowie about about how Life on Mars helped me figure out how to like his music.

Normally I'd feel amazing about doing all that in one tired, mentally and physically subpar day. But I guess I'm struggling enough that I don't even get the proper feedback for the things I have done, and feel just like I would if I hadn't gotten dressed or left the house or done anything to speak of.

But I guess you sometimes have to do the things just because you're a grown-up, and not because your brain's gonna give you that chemical cookie to make you feel good about it.

That's it

Jan. 18th, 2016 08:19 am
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
I've given up hoping this will ever change and am now resigned to the fact.

I will never be done reassuring my parents that I am always going to be a U.S. citizen.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
It's been a busy, sometimes weird, but I think mostly-good week.

Saturday I spent six hours in the car, keeping Stuart company on a road trip to pick up something drum-related. I love riding shotgun for things like this. We listened to a CD of Squeeze's greatest hits and shouted at the satnav and generally had a fun, if tiring time. When we got back I bought us takeaway and we watched a splendidly horrible 50s-style B-movie, one of those about radioactive monsters.

Sunday Andrew and I went to the cinema, I already told you about The Good Dinosaur.

Monday I seemed to spend all on buses. Andrew needed a replacement bit of his CPAP mask, which had broken on Friday night so we'd had a few nights of terrible sleep before the Sleep Service at Wythenshawe hospital was open again. The hospital's a pain to get to by public transport from here, though: you can avoid the frustration of getting unfamiliar buses and it taking two or three to get there by getting a bus that's pretty direct but only goes once an hour. I didn't mind the length of the journey there -- it winds through the part of West Didsbury we first lived in after we got married, and since I never have reason to go back there now it's strange to see things that remind me of a not-terribly-happy time in my life, when I was broke and lonely and really mental most of the time. But by the way back, after a 40-minute wait for the return bus, I was lulled by the tedium and the nights of poor sleep into dozing off and waking up at the end of the route -- which luckily is close to my friend JT's house, so I stopped in for a cup of tea and helping his six-year-old with his homework before coming back home.

Tuesday morning I was on the radio! I also had a nasty panic attack, though, and ended up being on the phone with my friend K most of the time that I was on the radio, so while I heard snippets of it (enough to be weirded out by what my accent apparently sounds like now!), I wouldn't properly listen for a couple days (I have an edited-down recording of just the bisexuality bits of the show, if anybody wants it let me know). I went to Brighouse that afternoon, where [personal profile] magister was happy to help me feel better with cuddles and food and beer. We watched documentaries about David Bowie that James had recorded the evening before. I told James thinking about Bowie had been making me want to watch Life on Mars again, because that show really helped me learn to like some of his music, and just when I was thinking this was a weird reaction James said probably a lot of people could say the same, which was nice because I felt a little less weird.

Wednesday James and I mooched around Bradford for a bit, got lunch from lovely Czerwiks with [personal profile] miss_s_b, and just as I was thinking about falling asleep for the evening, Jennie asked if anyone wanted to go to the pub quiz with her and her parents, so James and I did. It was a lovely pub, cozy and full of dogs, or at least it seemed so in the corner where we were, with Jennie's parents two lovely dogs who I'm glad I finally got to meet. We did really well at the quiz (including knowing Phil Collins was the answer to the question about two seconds after Jennie and James had mentioned him in conversation; their predictive powers didn't work so well after that, which is okay because we didn't nee them) and won some free beer, which was handy as I hadn't brought the cash I thought I had.

Thursday I came back to Manchester with James, who was on his way to see his parents. Since I got into town at just about [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours's lunchtime, we went to Koffee Pot together, and had breakfast and coffee to warm up on the bright but freezing day.

And today I've woken up to tiny patches of snow, where the sun hasn't burned them away yet, for the weather is similar. I'm waiting for a bus to take me to a friend's house: he's cooking lunch and we're going to play games, possibly even including the ones I'm bringing for [twitter.com profile] SurvivorKatie because I haven't seen her since I got her Christmas present (and even then the dog tried to chew the cellophane off so they look a bit...well-loved already, but I'm sure she'll understand!).
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
"Urrrrgh," I moaned resignedly.

James asked me what's up.

[twitter.com profile] bisexualindex tweeted about something called the British LGBT Awards that currently open for nominations. As usual with these things, I thought I'd try to shock them by mentioning some bisexuals.

"But to nominate anyone you have to click on the category you're nominating for and after looking at the first few I think I've lost the will to live," I told James. "It starts Corporate Rising Star, Corporate Straight Ally...and it's not even like it's alphabetical or anything, because next is LGBT Network Group and then Diversity Champion..." I shuddered. So much wrong here.

"Are there any categories for just someone who's bisexual or gay or something?" James asked.

"Well, there are the vague ones, like Inspirational Role Model and Global Icon, which could mean just about anything," I said. James agreed they're so vague some celebrity will probably still win. Even though, as well as LGBT Celebrity, celebrities also have their own Rising Star and Straight Ally* categories. Because of course they do.

"And there's LGBT Event or Venue," I said. And...Destination? So probably more places will win awards than bisexual people."

"Yeah: 'We didn't give awards to any bisexuals, but we did give one to Brighton!' " James said. " 'And the Costa del Sol because maybe we'll get a free trip there!' "

"Media Moment" gets an award, whatever the fuck that means. Fucking "Brand/Marketing Campaign" gets an award. The logo-splattered name-dropping website says "WE REACH MORE PEOPLE THAN ANY OTHER LGBT EVENT IN THE UK," which just makes me wish I could do better. (If I were going to have an LGBT awards event, I'd start out with four awards for each of the letters, so that at least one goddam lesbian, gay man, bisexual and trans person was recognized. Then probably the same for organizations -- so Stonewall could win the gay man's award and then have to sit and watch while other things were talked about, heh. And then a bunch of awards for marginalized groups that intersect with queerness: people of color, disabled people, older people, people who have been and have done something for poverty, homelessness, abuse, etc as they relate to LGBT people...)

There was one category that actually seemed to have anything to do with what I wanted to nominate: Charity or Community Initiative (for which I nominated Bi's of Colour because so little is acknowledged/researched/understood about this intersection, and [twitter.com profile] applewriter is doing amazing work with little money or other resources...

Seriously, please consider throwing a few pennies to their gofundme; there's no money at all in anything to do with bisexuality in the UK so everything's done by volunteers and, being bisexual, we face higher rates of mental illness, homelessness, abuse, and so on, so we've got a lot of shit going on that keeps a lot of us from holding down high-paying jobs!.

You know, the kinds of jobs that would make us anyone's Corporate Rising Star.

* I really hope straight trans people win the Straight Ally awards. Because they don't say you have to be straight and cis! The use of "straight" for "the opposite of LGBT" seems to me the sign of someone who's done a mental find-and-replace of "gay" for "LGBT," but who hasn't thought through the implications of what that change should actually involve. Not only is it showing a disgusting lack of understanding of gender identity being different from sexual identity that has frustrated trans folk forever...but also "straight" is hardly the opposite of bisexual, either! Bisexuality always complicates this us-and-them straight-and-gay shit (which I think is part of the reason some LG people are so biphobic).

Having awards for "allies" is not a great idea anyway, because it's such a problematic and easily-misunderstood concept if it is to mean anything at all -- I tend to assume it means "person who donated enough money that they can feel good about their privilege", in this kind of glitzy-award context? -- but if you must have such things can't you just call them "non-LGBT allies"? Or not even "allies," then, just "non-LGBT people who..." who've done whatever it is you get a Straight Ally award for, I don't even know.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Turn on Woman's Hour today to hear me (& others!) talk about bisexuality!
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Like my friend Chris said on Facebook, I have to say "I won't lie, it took me years to get my head round Bowie." The two biggest points of contention, musically, between Andrew and I have long been Neil Young & David Bowie. Neil Young I could still quite happily never hear again (I'm not saying he's not good! just that he's not my cup of tea) but Bowie I've finally figured out how to enjoy.

Again Chris has it spot on: "slowly and surely i've got it. and weirdly, because the appeal has never been instant, it's meant that every album i've heard i've really had to explore properly. and yeah. that's helped me realise how brilliant he really was. he'll never be one of my heroes, but dear gosh i feel as if something brilliant and constantly inventive has just gone out."

Indeed. And then there's how he taught so many of my friends that it's okay to be weird, that bisexuality is a thing, that you can change your appearance and your whole identity as much as you want to, as often as you want to. Even if I never liked his music, I'd have to love him for the effect he's had on many of the people I'm most delighted to call friends.

Here's the first Bowie song that made me have to stop saying I didn't like Bowie. It's still my favorite of his.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Having been less than impressed with Pixar's last movie (I'm apparently the only person who didn't like Inside Out that much? it seemed a movie about a little girl's depression and the only thing that really stands out about it to me was the girl's mother saying something like "we want our happy little girl back" which freaked me out; being happy for your parents' sake is no way to live), and not knowing much from the impressionistic trailer for this one, I was still happy to give something called The Good Dinosaur a try.

I love dinosaurs, and good ones are the best kind! The following is possibly mildly spoilery (though I don't think it's a story that's spoiled by knowing what happens).

I especially love the idea that the dinosaur-killing meteor was deflected enough that they carried on and became farmers. The eponymous dinosaur and his family are green sauropod-ish dinosaurs, the gentle herbivorous type that I've thought were friendly since I first watched The Land Before Time when I was small. The rest of their ecosystem is recognizably the one we have today, though; apparently the dinosaurs' agricultural revolution converged with ours, because the corn they farm looks very familiar, there are deciduous trees, fireflies, bison (kind of?), and so on.

The protagonist, Arlo, hatches from an egg twice the size of his siblings', but is himself tiny, and this sets up the themes of his upbringing. While his brother and sister excel at the chores they're given to do, Arlo struggles to feed the chicken-esque theropods the family keep on their farm, and in general is afraid of everything.

So far so kids-movie, but when Arlo's fear of killing a "critter" he's been asked to trap means he lets the little thing escape, his warm and gentle father gets angry and says they're going to track the vermin. They get caught in a storm and, after getting Arlo to safety, his father is swept away and killed before his little son's eyes.

Seeing the little critter again later, Arlo rages at it because he blames it for his father dying, and in chasing the tiny brown hairy thing around he gets knocked unconscious and swept down the river and is lost. So he has more kids-movie adventures trying to get home, finding both friends and foes along the way, most importantly the "vermin" (which ends up looking like a human child but also barks and howls and sniffs like a dog, and does not speak), who saves Arlo from starving when he wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings and panics.

I like how grown-up the movie is, for all its cuddly characters and simple story. Arlo has PTSD-like reactions to future storms, with flashbacks to his father telling him to run that leave him fleeing blindly from Spot, his little human-dog friend. The nonverbal Spot and Arlo communicate to each other the families they've come from: Spot very deliberately knocking over the two big twigs that apparently represent his parents and gently covering them with dirt, has probably left me closer to tears than any wordy explanation of his orphanhood would've. A big allosurus-like-thing tells Arlo "if you aren't scared of a crocodile trying to bite your face, you aren't alive." This shift from the kids-movie theme of "banish your fear" to the slightly more subtle "you can't wait until you're not scared to start doing things" was most welcome to me.

Then there's a point where Arlo is again knocked out after some baddies have stolen Spot away, his dad comes to him, doesn't speak but rescues him from the vines he's gotten tangled in, and starts to lead him away, in the opposite direction from Spot. Arlo is overwhelmed at seeing his father walking around again, but also is insistent they need to go back because he has to save Spot. He's learned the lesson about doing things even though they're scary just in time, because he's scared of the baddies that have Spot but he also says "I love him."

The moment where it seems like Arlo has to choose between his little companion and his beloved father back from the dead is actually heart-wrenching. Arlo notices his father isn't leaving footprints in the mud like he is so realizes that he father isn't really there. When Arlo says he's going to help Spot, his ghost-father turns around and gives Arlo a few warm words and a smile before disappearing into dust, and Arlo wakes up still tangled in the vines but now determined.

After Arlo has found Spot and is just about home, telling Spot excitedly about how great their lives will be and how it'll be Spot's farm too, Arlo and Spot's delighted howls attract a group of human-looking things making similar howls. There seem to be a male-female couple, and male and female children, all of whom Spot is smaller than, making this dynamic exactly like Arlo's own family. Arlo and Spot both have to make a difficult choice; Arlo nudges Spot toward his fellow humans a few times, who cuddle and coo over him, but more than once Spot comes back to Arlo again, and more than once Arlo nudged him back to the humans. I was surprised at how much I got swept up in this, and as Spot was nudged inside and then ran back outside the circle Arlo had drawn around this family, I briefly couldn't be sure whether the story would fork down the "people must be with their own kind" leg of the Trousers of Time, or whether it would be the "friendship transcends" leg. I ended up wanting Spot to just stay on the little circular trench Arlo had dug, but I think I may have been projecting a little bit there.

When Arlo finally returns to his family's farm, the shots are all parallels with the beginning of the movie, when it was his dad we saw going outside to his work. Arlo's mother is working in the fields and even whispers "Henry?" as she sees Arlo striding over to her, but then realizes it's her missing son, who may not be the only one to imagine that Henry is not dead after all.

I worry what was sweet and affecting in the movie sounds dull and clichéd here, but it had the unblinking intensity, heart and charm of the good Pixar movies, and a much more accurate and helpful portrayal of what it's like to lose someone you're so close to and how difficult it is to get past disappointing yourself and everyone else than I am used to seeing in movies, kids' or otherwise.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
...the more we give honest answers to "How was Christmas?" the more people say "Why don't you just get your parents to come to the UK for Christmas instead?"

And it's starting to remind me of that time we had no internet or phone service for a month because of multilayered cock-ups between two or three different telcoms, and days and weeks into this whenever Andrew or I offered any kind of update or gripe about this, someone always said "You should tweet them about it, that really helped me/my friend/my uncle/my niece's monkey when they had a problem..." And I was just like, "We are so far past that now..."

Thanks for wanting to help but really. We know. We've thought of this, and if it was going to work it already would have.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
When I was taking Gary the Wonder Dog for his walk this morning, I realized it was still taking longer than usual. Any slight deviation from our usual path to somewhere we haven't been since before Christmas means he still has to stop and sniff everything and/or wee on it.

Today, watching him lift his leg at a nondescript (to me at least) patch of brick wall, I suddenly thought actually, this is just like Ingress.

I've never played Ingress but I've spent time with friends who do, where every pub, bus ride and café you visit with them is a battleground invisible to me. Walking a dog is pretty much the same.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
Yesterday [personal profile] haggis told me that instead of having specific New Year's resolutions this year, she was just thinking "make the easy things hard, and make the hard things easy." I've been thinking about that a lot since then, and the more I do the more I like it. Make the easy things -- spodding on the internet, procrastinating, etc.etc. -- hard, make the hard things -- sorting out house, doing errands, etc. -- easy. I'm not doing a great job of it so far, but since it's a general approach to things and not a hard-and-fast resolution, I don't need to feel bad about every time I fail to make the hard things easier or give in to the things that are already too easy. Even when I'm "getting it wrong" (like when I added to the clothes all over my bedroom floor rather than tidying them up, which is what reminded me I wanted to write about this idea), I'm finding the idea calming and helpful, and not something I'm berating myself for not living up to immediately and perfectly, not something I see as a chore or a difficult task.

Today when I saw [twitter.com profile] SurvivorKatie, she said that instead of typical resolutions about going to the gym or losing weight, she determined this year was going to be about self-care. And it was great to see that in action during our time together, as she was starting to buy clothes for the size she is rather than waiting to have things until she's the size she wants to be.

I've never liked the idea of New Year's resolutions much -- they've never worked for me, being so arbitrary and showing up in the middle of winter when my instincts are just to curl up and wait for spring. But this year I'm loving seeing my friends' ambitions, knowing that they have the skills and wherewithal to do great things in their lives, and for all of us to support each other in that.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
So this:
If you feel uncomfortable about your body, you have two choices. There is no right answer to this, so read carefully: you can choose to change something about yourself OR you can learn to love who you are. Either of these two options will be the right one depending on what will give you the most happiness.
If you do choose to lose weight, DO NOT PUT DOWN THE BODIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE NOT. Do not use phrases such as “OMG look at how fat I was!!1!” Or “I’m so glad I’m not fat anymore!” Because you weren’t a bad person when you were fat. You were no less of a person than you are now, no less worthy of self love, no less beautiful, smart, funny, caring… Being fat is not a negative.
Some of the people I love best do this. They work hard and diet and exercise and then if they regain an ounce they bemoan how fat they are again. And they still weigh less than I do. (Even the guys, sometimes.) Sometimes I laugh bitterly to myself or just do a facial expression that I'm not sure if it's a wince or a smile. But sometimes it really stings.

And it always makes me feel sad for the person saying it, too. Because of course my hard-won patched-together fragile self-worth is not the only one under attack from talk like this: they'll be convincing themselves too that they used to be, and if they gain the weight back they will again be ugly or lazy or useless.

Because I know my friends don't think I'm all of those things, and I'm fatter than almost all of you.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
My dad is fixated on telling me, when I'm in Minnesota, what time it is in the UK at any given point. Only he doesn't say it like that, he says: "For you, it's..."

If I yawn at 8:30pm, I know "For you it's two-thirty in the morning" will follow (even though I yawn at 8:30 in the evening here, too!). If I look bored in the afternoon, he'll say "For you, it's bedtime!"

I don't think he has any conception of how crazy this drives me.

I can't convince him to stop, that I don't find this interesting or helpful because I just really don't feel like it's the time he's telling me it is for me. If he just said "In Manchester it's [whatever] right now," I don't think I'd care. But being told what I think about something, even if it's something so impersonal as what time it is, sends me absolutely bonkers.

I usually do okay at coping with the time zone change: I tend to fly local-early-morning and get there around local-evening-meal-time, which after some food and a bit of unpacking and winding down, means I go to bed at an acceptable-if-early local-bedtime. If I can do that, and have a longish sleep, I wake up around the same time as my parents, and then I'm probably all right.

Last night I went to bed to read at about 7:30. I couldn't stay awake past 8:30. I woke up, as I knew I would for going to sleep so early, at 1:30 in the morning. So far so normal, but this time I was completely unable to get to sleep after that.

Going by the xkcd time zone sleep descriptions, I'm even further from Minnesota than I am from Manchester. Somewhere around Russia, probably.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
[personal profile] haggis and I went out for lunch. (Yay! It was so nice to see her again.)

When the waitress brought our food, she asked if I wanted any sauces for my salad. "Salad cream?" she suggested.

I politely declined, but when she left muttered "Salad cream! Bah. Stupid Britain."

[personal profile] haggis laughed. "It's not just the Queen, huh?" We had just been talking about the odious [twitter.com profile] cleanforqueen campaign (my take: if the Queen wants my scruffy bit of Manchester to be clean, she can give some of her millions of pounds to pay more council street cleaners).

I fear I could make quite a long list: it is indeed Not Just The Queen.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
This is something I wrote a while ago and never posted, for reasons I no longer remember. It's not a resolution, but it seems as good a manifesto to start off this new year as any.

I started on LJ with a very annoying style, that of the cute precocious kid who was too old for that twee stuff now but hadn't yet learned what to replace the too-clever, artfully structured, neatly-tied-up-with-a-moral-at-the-end kind of writing that'd made my high school English teachers love me.

I like to think I've improved a bit since then, but I do still tend to write only when I've got something that will amuse or interest what I imagine my readership to be. So vehemently did I resist the everyday updateishness kind of journaling that my LJ wasn't a very good way to find out what was going on in my life: I'd happily write all about having Chipotle for breakfast but never mentioned that I had a girlfriend, or failed a class, or moved, or the kind of basic stuff that people usually tell each other when they catch up after some time apart.

It's a bit hypocritical of me, because I love to read that kind of thing from other people: I love reading about your dreams and how you got caught in the rain on your way to the bus stop and what you're making for dinner and what you drank last night and how work went and everything. Absolutely love it. But I've never been very good at telling that stuff for its own sake myself.

So it was kind of interesting for me to read this article on how writing about the ordinary experiences of your life can be even more cheering to you when you go back and read them as the extraordinary ones.

It turns out, people are bad at predicting how much they'll enjoy reading back what they've wrriten about their lives.

Which, actually, doesn't surprise me because I had to read Our Town in high school and it fucked up my brain, it appears, permanently. It's a play about ordinary boring small-town early-20th-C. Americans who do ordinary things like be born and deliver the milk and get married and all that.

The part that's always stuck with me is Emily, at the end. She's a young wife who's died in childbirth, and we see her among the dead, people she recognizes from her little town where nothing ever changes much. Those who've been dead any length of time don't feel any great connection to the living world or the things that mattered to them while they were in it, but Emily is new and still attached to what she loves. She wants to re-live her life. The old dead folks tell her that it's possible but advise her against it. She insists, though, and sees her twelfth birthday: her mother is up early nagging the children to get ready for school, her father comes home with a present for her. Small talk is made about the cold.

Emily starts out very excited -- "Oh,that's the town I knew as a little girl. And, look, there's the old white fence that used to be around our house. Oh, I'd forgotten that! Oh, I love it so!" "Oh! how young Mama looks! I didn't know Mama was ever that young" -- but as she watches the conversation unfold, she starts to get agitated: "I can't bear it. They're so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Mama, I'm here. I'm grown up. I love you all, everything. I can't look at everything hard enough."

Finally she says, "I can't. I can't go on....I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed."

Well, ever since then, I've fucking noticed. Reading that play made me cry, not in class but after, and I think quite a few of my tears since have been shed thanks to this, in some way. Because I too grew up in a small town where nothing ever seems to change much, and while of course I didn't die I did move away, and that has had a similar effect to me: I'm still here, I can see it all in my memory, but they can't see me and they don't know how much I treasure these images, these people, their ordinary lives.

So I'm trying to practice writing about the everyday stuff that I have so long been so bad at. Let's see if it gets me anywhere.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
January: I've got a splitting headache -- still sinuses, but the amount of red wine I imbibed can't be helping -- but I wanted to say something about what a nice evening I had.

February: This is an article about how badly prejudiced our society is against autistic people.

March: Of course I'm fond of the one I grew up‎ with, but that's no reason to leave it that way forever!

April: Lady and small child carefully examining this train which has just pulled into the station.

May: My dad didn't just get a gold watch when he retired. He got a gold hard hat.

June: Exemplary text from Andrew yesterday:
Waiting for man chest hair train semicolon expected time gets one minute later every minute
July: A song came on the radio while we were eating breakfast and all of a sudden my dad said, "Who's this singing, is it Katy Perry?"

August: Today I met new people off of LiveJournal!

September: There's an xkcd survey. It's just full of random questions, like a poll from the good old days on LJ.

October: This is a good point, but its use of "blind" to mean "doesn't know/doesn't care" about something did made me laugh.

November: Ten.


December: My habit of throwing things like clothes up the stairs, even though I know they won't go all the way I know they'll be in my way the next time I do go up the stairs and I can put them wherever they need to be (or throw them again, this time from the landing over the staircase to our bedroom), combined with my habit of wandering around the house without my glasses on, meant I just thought I'd encountered a monster on the stairs.


hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty

February 2016

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