askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
...I skip an NHS waiting list and compress 3 months of work into 3 weeks.

I've unexpectedly got a date for my shoulder surgery before the end of the year. In fact, it's due before the end of the month.  Surgery scheduled for Thursday 26th of November and then my bff B is going to pick me up and I will stay at hers overnight - although she's apparently come out in sympathy for me and has a frozen shoulder so she may not be able to drive and pick me up if that hasn't resolved and it might be a pick up by her husband instead.  Then it's home to rattle around my flat alone and home I'm able to function/rely on the kindness of friends if I can't cook. My parents will have to drive and pick me up in the car for Christmas as I won't be able to manage luggage on the train as usual which is sad, as I always enjoy the Christmas-train home, the atmosphere is always lovely. The one advantage is if I am struggling alone, they can come and collect me earlier than I planned to go back, although that would mean I miss Burning the Clocks/Brighton's Winter Solstice celebration which I had intended to make a lantern for this year.

I think I've explained before, but the surgery is to relieve ACJ impingement, as here, and may also involve repair a bicep tear, as here.

I was injured 6 years ago when a twat knocked me off my bike at traffic lights - I was in the cycle lane, he was in left lane turning left and didn't check his mirrors. Smashed into me, waited for me to jump up, drag my bike from under his car, and then he drove off.  After being told to rest it after a visit to A&E (and my first ever x-ray) it stopped hurting and I thought that was that. 2 years later I took up swimming again and it emerged my shoulder was basically in the wrong place with massive muscular weakness around that shoulder.  So I had another x-ray, then referred to shoulder clinic. Shoulder clinic offered me steroid injection or physio.  Concluding physio would treat cause and not symptoms, I chose physio. 3 years of physio, 3 steroid injections, 2 ultrasounds, 2 further x-rays, and an MRI and it's still fucked - and not for any particularly clear reasons.  All the x-rays, ultrasounds and MRI could say was "maybe" my bicep tendon has torn, maybe the joint has some growth impinging it, and maybe the joint it out of alignment. Maybe.  So surgery it is.

I'm quite anxious - after a consultation in October I was told the waiting list was in excess of 3 months so I settled in for a long wait.  I think the sudden date has contributed to my anxiety as I just wasn't ready for it. I'm also a little anxious about having a general anaesthetic - I've had that twice before at the dentist but the last time I was about 12 and came round from the anaesthetic crying my eyes out on my Dad's chest so I'm embarrassed by that, and also a little worried about semi-conscious me having nobody there to cry upon. 

Mostly I'm worried about the pain.  They won't know whether they need to reattach the bicep until they look inside the shoulder, if they do it's significantly longer recovery and more immobility which inevitably means more pain. 

And I'm anxious about putting my PhD on hold for at least a month, and possibly longer.  And I'm stressed right now because I'm working flat out to get all my teaching responsibilities fulfilled before I have to hand over (3 classes of marking, rescheduling two seminars) and lots of admin/PhD stuff (writing 2 abstracts now because there'll be no time later, presenting at a research in progress event in order to promote my work across the university/in a newly established research group, contacting wished-for external examiner to ask if they will examine me in the summer, scheduling completion with supervisors) and just generally compressing the next 3 months of stuff into 3 weeks.

It's all sort of petrifying.  Although it has just occurred to me that once this is done, it'll be a clear run from January to the end of my PhD.  Which is sort of exhilarating.

If I don't die under anaesthetic, which I've convinced myself I will. Drama queen.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
I was nothing,” said Nutt.
“How can you say you were nothing?” said Glenda.
“I was nothing,” said Nutt. “I knew nothing, I understood nothing, I had no understanding, I had no skill-“
“But that doesn’t mean someone is worthless,” said Glenda firmly
“It does,” said Nutt. “But it does not mean they are bad. I was worthless.”
Glenda had a feeling they were working from two different dictionaries, “What does worth mean , Mister Nutt?”
“It means that you leave the world better than when you found it,” said Nutt.

Unseen Academicals - Terry Pratchett
 

I keep going over this extract in my mind. I think because it hits on something very key in how I think and how I look at the world.

As with a lot of characterisation in Pratchett, Mister Nutt's preoccupation with gaining worth is initially approached with humour and gradually becomes key to the understanding we have of him as a character and, as in this case, leaves you with a shadow of that character in your mind that cannot be shaken off. I think it is also important to note that Mister Nutt is an orc - a violent murderous uncivilised beast with claws and the ability to bend the rules of the world around him - except through concerted effort and a deep seated desire to accumulate worth he suppresses these 'innate' instincts; he tries, in short, to be better than is expected of him and to be the best he can be, however hard that might be to achieve. Dealt with by anyone but Pratchett in any context than the discworld such a characterisation and motivation would be sickeningly saccharine, but I think it manages to be much more astute than that.

But this wasn't meant to be a book review.

I am still jolly unhappy (I enjoy the English language which made that construction possible). And I am still taking things to heart that other people might say I shouldn't - but I am and I feel justified in beating myself up over them. With this in mind, it strikes me that in order to succeed in this rejuvenation of the self and my life I must focus, like Mister Nutt, on the most effective way to accumulate worth.

I have been discussing with a colleague the possibility of us going travelling somewhere exciting this year - at the moment we're looking at a trip through Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia - Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.  There are lots of buts - right now I don't have a valid passport and the trip is costly.  We also don't know if we'd get along after 2 weeks travelling and not enough sleep.  But the prospect of travelling does throw up some questions, whilst I feel fulfilled after a trip, it is largely because I feel I have participated in the world and made strides toward educating myself in the diversity and variation of life on earth and met people - mostly other travellers - far outside the normal run of things.  But travel is categorically not about me making the world a better place or accumulating worth.

What to do then? I know I don't have it in me to make the big gestures, do the great deeds, save the world.  As an example, my friend who got kidnapped last year spent, after his release and subsequent repatriation, all his waking hours getting a new passport so he could fly straight back out to rejoin the convoy.  I could not do that - and that's ok, if we could all do that the world would be a very different place and the blockade of Gaza would have crumbled under sheer weight of numbers some time ago.  But how does one make a notable, measurable difference in the world when you can't make noticeable, measurable gestures?

I try always to treat everyone I come into contact with with respect and kindness, but I'm also a person and in a bad mood sometimes and paranoid sometimes and worn down by some people not subscribing to that philosophy, so that's never going to be a perfect score.  I try to be mindful of my actions and my choices in the world, to ensure the employment I undertake is not morally reprehensible by association or otherwise.  I eat ethically - choosing local produce whenever I can and abiding by a strict vegetarian diet.  These are all things people list and take comfort in - I've heard them do it - but in my attempt to overhaul my life and myself I keep coming back to the notion of worth and the sense of my own failure in that respect as the core of the thing I want to change.

I think there is something to be said for being in love and being romantically loved that allays ones fears of worthlessness; an absolute certainty that for one person at least your existence is of worth and value.  Which, I suppose, brings me neatly back round to my last post and the words of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo, namely, that we cannot act without a sense of our own value and we cannot achieve a sense of our own value without acting.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Share your father's advice.

You can't always call a spade a spade.

I used to get mighty pissed off at school when I would tell my female friends they were being...well, teenage girls.  I've always been quite straightforward and never particularly interested in gossiping about boys/hair/make-up/other friends, I had a tendency to try and resolve situations by being unrelentingly logical and practical - it rarely went down well.

This also applied to people who said stupid stuff, I tend to like to tell them it's stupid.  Not for being malicious just for...stating what the situation is.

Over the years biting my lip has become a hard acquired skill.  I think it's worth it, on the whole; fewer arguments.  More frustration perhaps, in the short term at least. 


Went to look at a new build house today, it was available on shared ownership so I would only have had to have a mortgage for 25% of the value (25% = £27,500) and pay rent on the rest - £191 a month - which I could afford on top of mortgage repayments.  I found it on a property site a week ago.  Mentally, I'd already moved in. I so want to unpack the boxes which currently rest in the attic.  I want to do my food shopping (I pay my parents board on top of rent, they shop early on Saturday morning, I eat the food that turns up in the cupboards), plan a weeks meals and live at the pace I choose - rather than existing next to the unrelenting routine of my parents.  I want to own a house. I want to paint the walls in the holidays from work.  I want to buy bits and pieces from Ikea to furnish it.  I want to adopt two cats (April and Socks from Lincoln Cat Care) and I want to live my life as I wish - that's not here.

Unfortunately, the 4 available shared ownership houses, I was told upon arrival, have already gone, and I can submit an application and be on the waiting list but it was implied that I wouldn't be the top of the waiting list - it'd take a lot of people's applications to fall through before I'd get one.  I still looked around - it was everything I hoped it would be from the photos I'd seen online - completely perfect.  I can see myself living there.  Which is fatal, really.

A week's reprise from how I felt when I wrote this entry, but I feel myself plummeting back there.  I have already looked at other shared ownership properties and not only is 25% a rarity, they are also almost universally flats and without the spacious rooms that this house had.



Friend S, with the brain injury from the car crash, is still recovering.  Spoke to him on the phone for an hour or so tonight and he tried to tell me two separate things he told me last time I saw him - something he never used to do, he's always had an excellent memory.  He also wrote a reply to my facebook status which, whilst I understood and saw the joke he was trying to make, was in no way expressed with his usual verbal dexterity and flair.  Keep encouraging him to be patient as he's very frustrated by getting tired doing normal day-to-day things and everyone telling him to go slowly.  But I'm actually getting impatient for him to be back to normal.  Terrified he will have lost some of his easy intellect and confidence of expression.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (November the 8th)

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before? Read more... )

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Crappy camera phone photo from immediately after it was done.


It took 2 and a half hours. And turns out, the warnings I received from the tattoist were correct: getting a tattoo on your ribs REALLY. FUCKING. HURTS. Although my tattoist was a sweetie and told one of the other tattoists that I was a 'trooper' and that she wished all her clients were like me.  I think this is largely a contrast thing as yesterday she apparently had a girl who screamed, wriggled and eventually nearly passed out - somewhere out there is a girl with half of a very expensive tattoo.  Lolz.

Anyway.  Off to wash, dab dry, apply bepanthen and cling film before bed. Hurray!
 
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
I've literally just got in from an ArtFor meeting (although, obviously, I'm English, so I got in and made a cup of tea, and then I sat down and turned on my laptop) and man alive! I am so motivated to get some paintings done.

The last painting I did was this one which was like...a month ago? so I do really need to get back on the horse...or a back on a metaphorical device more appropriate to the creative process.

The meeting today was basically to say hi to the new artists who have joined us for ArtFor Pride. Becky put a call for artists in the local paper and sent a press release to Pride proper who, within 24 hours, made sure it was in all the LGBT publications in the South East. This resulted in us having more artists wanting to join ArtFor than we had space for in the forthcoming exhibition.  As it is we have 10 visual artists and 1 sculptor and everyone has paid £20 to cover the (significantly reduced because we're a charity) fee of hiring the gallery space and is guaranteed a 3 foot square exhibition space.

It was great to meet the new artists and talk about the exhibition as though we know what the hell we're doing.  For those of you picking up the story now, in February we had an ArtFor Haiti exhibition and got 200 people through the door paying £3 entrance fee but sold very little work. This time we have a bigger, more central venue, media partners, sponsorship and the phenomenal publicity machine that is Brighton Pride behind us; on paper it certainly looks like we know what we're doing!

Between Becky and me we know a lot of people; she has friends doing our website and graphics design for free. We know people who are in a band who are going to play an acoustic set at our press/preview evening on the Friday. And through various connections we have contacts at various publications in and around Brighton, charities who benefit from Pride money who can help us advertise and my most recent ex, a.k.a. The Girl who is working on getting us sponsorship from a brewery so our press preview can offer free booze! It is most certainly all coming together.  I just need to PAINT.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)

Now that the snow and ice has finally melted I can actually bring myself to look at the pictures I took. Really there's only one good one, and that's why I'm posting it. Colours are true to life, it was that weird morning light where things are a little pink. It was probably the only time during the snow-of-death I actually looked at the snow and thought it beautiful (as opposed to OH MY GOD WHY WON'T IT MELT, I WANT MY LIFE AND TRANSPORT BACK!)

In other news, life isn't too shabby right now and although I'm still not enjoying my job things are shaping up nicely in other areas. This includes the blossoming relationship I am forging with the rats. Nico is emerging as the brave explorer whilst Reux patiently waits for Nico to return to their hiding spot and tell him what exists beyond the confines of the cage. I took them both downstairs the other day where they had a proper introduction to my flatmate. Some of my friends have already asked to be top of the rat-sitting list when I go on holiday, in fact two friends are so keen to look after them they suggested I go on holiday next week.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Prompted by a recent post by someone on my livejournal friendslist I have decided I want to write a post which could most accurately be categorised as autobiography. I intend this to be an overview of one aspect of my life this past year. I'm hoping it bookends things for me just by forcing it into a narrative form. I need it to be public, which is why I'm posting it, but I am also aware it has limited appeal, which is why it's below a cut.

Read more... )
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (November the 18th)
Man I'm tired.

Second day back at work after my epic week's holiday and I'm done in.

NaBloPoMo is beginning to feel like hard work. I simply haven't found time to think about the what I want to put out into the world

I will, therefore, be brief. It's harder to make friends than find someone to fuck, or even to date. Indeed it's so much harder that for the majority of new people I have met in the last year, I have had to work backwards from that position; with an even spread of it being me or them who is left feeling vaguely little disappointed.

It seems to me that we are all so desperate to be loved, so desperate to be indispensable to someone else's life that we assess every new person we meet in those terms: are they my next conquest? Could I fall in love with them? Would they make me the centre of their world? As a result we end up viewing friendship as a poor second place.

One of the hardest things about coming out of a long term relationship and back into the world is that you have to rebuild your identity, social life and home around the notion of being single.  And the only way you can do that is with friends.  Yet we do not search for friends, we search for a replacement for what we have lost, we look to leap back in and absolve our pain by assuring ourselves we are not just worthy of love, but entitled to it.

Whilst this seems instinctive, I suspect it is more self protective, because the road through heartbreak is a damn site harder to navigate when you do it alone, waylaid by lovely but completely ill-matched prospective partners whom you must sort through to find the one night stands, the life long friends and hopefully, finally, the new beau.

Then again, I've had quite a lot of schnapps and I might be talking out of my arse.  Who knows.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (November the 8th)
When you have a shit day, when someone craps on your endeavour, when you are too tired to think straight, when your very last nerve has been agitated into oblivion, where do you go?

There's that point, growing up, where you realise you don't need to go to your parents for that reassurance any more.  You begin crafting a way, or multiple ways, to deal with what life is throwing at you.  You learn to do it alone.  You learn to manage that rage/fear/confusion/exhaustion/frustration.

I always believed that shift would be something which remained in flux, it would continue to develop and by my mid twenties I would have an entirely new place to crawl on days like this.

Weirdly, as I sat on the bus, impatient to be home, I could only think of one thing - a cup of tea and sitting with my laptop listening to dark indie music.  I might even, I mused, have a crafty cigarette out of my bedroom window and save myself the chilling experience which is going outside and dragging down a cig whilst standing on the front steps.

Then it struck me - I have been combatting bad days in exactly the same way since I was 15 or 16.  Have I simply found the world's greatest way to unwind or am I hopelessly trapped in teenage introspection?

Is run even the right word in this context? Should I be fleeing the world in order to cleanse myself of the day or should I be confronting it?

It never ceases to surprise me how much of who I am now is directly influenced by who I became as a teenager.  The distinction between adult and teen is perhaps much less well defined than it is generally believed to be.  The question which rears its head at the end of these reflections is this; should I go the whole hog and start drinking cider in the park again?.....!

Not everything means something.
askygoneonfire: My white rat (November the 5th)

I've decided to blog everyday for a month in celebration of my paid account time here on Dreamwidth.  Given how prolific I have been over the years on LiveJournal and various other sites it seems absurd that I am sitting here, on [my] day 1, completely without inspiration.  Perhaps this is just the reason I need to begin blogging regularly - writing and creating is something that must be done daily lest the intellectual muscles required begin to atrophy.  The fact that sentence took me 15 minutes to write and I'm still not happy with it should serve as evidence enough.

Right now the biggest thing in my life is my rats.  It's hard to imagine a sentence that would make me sound more like a lesbian spinster. Nonetheless, it's the truth.  I've had them since they were 6 weeks old when both of them fit in the palm of my hand - or they would have done if they'd stay still for long enough.  We named them after two male rats from Terry Pratchett's Maurice and His Educated Rodents, a few months later we discovered they were girls but the names fit far better than we could have hoped - Hampork was, like her namesake, fond of running headlong into situations without much thought beforehand which were likely to result in injury .  Dangerous Beans is much more considered, sitting back and planning before acting, fully capable of puzzling out the most complex of barriers between her and chocolate.

These two little rats have been constants in my life her in Brighton through the most life changing of events.  They provide focus and motivation for me even in my blackest depressions and celebrate the energy of my manias with me; running around the flat and playing endless wrestling games.  They are there every day and every night, they welcome me home and sulk when I leave.  They love unconditionally.

For these reasons, and many more which should be obvious to anyone who has ever loved a pet, I spent more than my monthly salary on Hampork's veterinary treatment over the course of 9 weeks or so.  Sadly the infection she had was antibiotic resistant and despite attacking it with a plethora of antibiotics, nothing worked and on Saturday night I had to take her to the emergency vet where we - the vet and I - concluded her suffering had become unbearable and that it was time to euthanise her.  In flood of tears I said goodbye and took a taxi home where I sobbed into Dangerous' fur and told her the news.

What it comes down to is this; these little girls, my little rats - they are my family.  I'm nearly 200 miles away from any blood relatives and after the dissolution of my 5 year romantic relationship last year I am a singleton.  We make families wherever we make our home - I'm never sure of cause and effect in that binary, perhaps we make home wherever we find a family.  Whichever it is, I made one in Brighton - family or home or both - and whilst friends inevitably compose a large part of the connection I have to this city, it is the rats - or, as it stands now, rat - which give me both the responsibility and consistency in my daily life.

It is the minutiae of life which seem to shape us the most - the capacity to keep up with the numerous small but essential requirements, the way we respond to challenges to those well trodden ways, the ability to prioritise essential over every other demand life places at our door. 

Dangerous and I remain a family.  And I remain here for her even if I can't stay for me, or you or anyone else.  It's about more than just owning a rat.

askygoneonfire: 'Love' painted on to four fingers of a hand (love hand)
I went along to White Night tonight, the first one I have attended despite living in Brighton for the last two.

My friend and I wondered the streets soaking up the atmosphere, we stopped to watch musicians taking on various genres; dropped into the library to dip briefly into an author reading from her book; paused to watch a broadcast from the future, tried and failed (on account of it being massively popular and there being a two and half hour wait) to go to a life drawing event, stopped off at a bar on the seafront which was running a casino for the night and eventually found a gallery with a fascinating installation.

It featured several screens suspended from the ceiling with short films of one person (per screen) simply staring at you, these short films were on a loop with the joining shot being the person with their eyes clothes. Some of the faces were relatively stationary, others went through a myriad of emotions in a few seconds. On the floor were pieces of paper of various sizes and scattered about the room were pieces of dowling about a metre long with pieces of charcoal attached to the end. Those people viewing the faces were implicitly invited to sketch the faces staring at them. Being forced to produce these sketches with the handicap of what was essentially a metre long pencil produced some interesting results.

The finished sketches were displayed on the walls around the gallery and scattered where they were made, across the floor.

There were some truly phenomenal pieces of art produced in response to the installation.

The thing which I enjoyed the most was the way in which people were invited to respond to the art they had come to view - the only way it was practically possible to keep the paper in place whilst sketching with the most inelegant of tools was to place one's foot upon the paper - effectively defiling one's own creation.  Furthermore, everyone is invited to contribute to the installation by discarding what they produce - the gallery is more waste paper bin than it is sacred display of creativity.  Most strikingly, in one corner papers which had been drawn on on both sides were piled up - every single piece of paper had been drawn on on both sides and reflected a vast range of talents and styles.

One of the things I most enjoy about both galleries and installations is watching how people move through the space - in this case there was an even wider range of ways than usual - some people drew and some did not.  Of those who drew a picture in response some took it very seriously and looked reverently at what they were trying to commit to paper whilst others joked and laughed and drew with their friends on the piece of paper.  Some rejected the mode of drawing presented to them and sat on the floor with a piece of charcoal liberated from the end of a piece of dowling and drew in the typical way.  Some interpreted the images before them literally, others abstracted them.

Of those who simply moved through the gallery observing and not drawing some interacted exclusively with the video screens; squaring up to them and scrutinising the full loop of the film, some peered over the shoulders of those drawing and compared them to the image their sketch was taken from, some gravitiated immediately to the sketches stuck to the walls walking over and ignoring completely those sketches which remained on the floor - not yet rescued by the custodians of the installation, some sorted through the confettied sketches on the floor as though they and they alone had discovered these works.

It was both a confrontational and simultaneously nurturing installation and I was absolutely taken by the whole experience.

Well done Brighton.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
So, for various reasons, I've been considering what my relationship future holds.

Soon after Ali and I split up I was at the home of a lesbian couple I know. We ended up talking about my pansexuality and one half of the couple asked "so, you could end up with a man, and a marriage, and a heterosexual future?" With some hesitation and a little surprise at the model of life that conjured in my head, I replied "yup".

You see, I spent 5 years building my image of the future around Ali. When that ended I was ready to consider there was a different person in that fantasy of the future, but I never entertained the idea it wasn't a woman. I spent years reminding people I wasn't only a lesbian, I liked men to. That evening I considered it more. Could I re-jig my vision of my future to omit Ali? Yes. Could I include a man in that vision? No.

I began to wonder if I was really pansexual, if in fact I was a lesbian and the pansexual definition was a throwback to being 18. Not only was I single, I was re-examining my sexuality. At 24. After building an academic future and a social life around my sexuality? That was a big deal.

But then men happened. Four of them. And my vision of my future began to shift.

I can see my life being with a man as clearly as I can see it with a woman. There remain problems: I love my queer identity, I love what it means and what social avenues it opens to me. This much I knew. I didn't expect to enjoy heterosexuality quite so much. I didn't expect to feel relief at not being ready to fight everyone and anyone if they expressed disgust or disapproval at my choice of life partner. Expecting the world to be happy that you are happy in a relationship makes the world of difference to expecting to fight the world to be happy for your happiness.

The part where all this is hard? My queer friends view me just the same for sleeping exclusively with men. My straight friends are practically wearing t-shirts which say "did you know she's a failed homo?!". They keep saying I'm straight, my counter argument is that I'm no more straight than I was gay. Apparently that doesn't permeate their consciousness. My queer friends are happy for me to straddle categories, my straight friends want to put me in a box and close the door with mockery and disdain.

I never expected bi-phobia from that quarter. I never expected to feel relieved by engaging in heterosexuality - I didn't realise I'd been fighting. I didn't realise it was habit and not preference which made me say I prefered women. I didn't realise I was this...open but simultaneously...complicated by those around me.

My life is changing faster than I can track.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
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