askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
It strikes me it has been some time since I've posted a 'proper' entry.  Perhaps it is time to remedy that.

I have been in my new job for a month now and whilst it does not fulfil me it is a relatively low stress environment and my manager - the school bursar - seems to think I'm a good egg and has made many efforts to stress she wants to help me develop my career in school administration which, whilst it is obviously not my career of choice, is certainly positive - in this financial climate, a manager who has a long term professional development plan for their newest employee after 4 weeks is a rare thing.  In short, my response to  the dilemma I expressed in my previous post, is to try and wait it out. My timescale for a review of where I am is set at the beginning of January, after that? We'll see.

The usual idiosyncrasies of a new work place have begun to reveal themselves to me; half the office hate the manager because she expects them to do work during the day. Instead they sit about, bitching about staff, parents and kids and gossiping with anyone who stops by.  The other half of the office work part time and do three times the work of the full time bitches.  Such is life.  I am, unless you haven't guessed, firmly in the second camp, except I have to be there full time.

And I do mean bitches.  I've never worked anywhere where the majority of the people full on don't like me, or just plain ignore me.  And that really is what happens.  As usual I find I'm getting on better with men in the school than the women and were it not for the guys in premises who pop in from time to time and always have a smile and always enjoy a brief chat and a giggle with me, I think I'd be tearing my hair out.  It has to be said that after a particularly frustrating day today were a couple of my contributions to an office wide conversation were not just ignored, but overruled/immediately restated by someone else, I came home and cried. Le sigh.

I'm finding living back at my parents house not nearly as bad as I anticipated.  In particular, I feel relieved to be back in the countryside.  In the mornings, as I am smoking my cigarette, I watch a family of squirrels play in the same tree.  Yesterday one snuck up on another and pounced....oh his tail.  Then they chased back and forth, tumbling and grabbing each others tails.  It reminded me of this scene in the Sword in the Stone.  

The other day I clambered down the river bank next to my house, as I have so many times before, and watched a vole and, later, a water rat, scramble about on the bank.  Every day my parents garden is filled with birds - just as it has always been, but you forget how much you enjoy seeing these things until all you see for 3 years is seagulls and pigeons.  We have pigeons here too, of course, but they are the beautifully purple wood pigeon.  And those guys mate for life, unlike the promiscuous city birds.  

The last two lunchtimes - partly out of frustration at the office situation, partly because the weather was so enticingly mild - I have left work and done a speedy circuit of the village on my bike in my lunch half-hour.  It's been nice.

It's not all good though. I'm aware - acutely aware - for the first time just how oppressive queer invisibility is.  There is a teacher at the school who I knew was a dyke the first time I met her.  This week a PGCE student started in her department and she is also, clearly, a dyke.  The urge to just seek them out one lunch time and exclaim "gay! you guys are gay! so am I! Can we talk about gay please?! do you know any gay bars? Can you take me to some?!"

...Which is absurd of course, and unimaginably embarrassing were I wrong (although I'm sure I'm not) and I'd be pissed as hell if someone said that to me BUT. I miss teh gays!  I miss a gay on every corner, as provided by Brighton, and I miss people asking after your "partner" instead of your "boyfriend" before they know for sure.  And I miss people not doing that surprised face/quick hide it look when you casually correct their "did your boyfriend" in your answer (e.g. "no, she.....") And I miss wearing whatever clothes I want, instead opting for clothes that won't get me heckled in on the streets of Grantham.

How I hate Grantham.

All that said? I guess I'm comfortable. Actually, I might go as far as happier. But not content.  More factors need to be present in my life before I can claim content.  And less bursting into tears because everyone at work is mean.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Most people have probably heard of/seen the Slow Loris thanks to a rash of YouTube videos. What you may not know is the terribly sad story behind these beautiful creatures.

Their natural habit is being rapidly destroyed and two of the nine species (I have been unable as yet to determine the official number of Slow Loris species, some sources say 3, some 5 and other 9. The IUCN lists only 5 species and only records one of those as being 'endangered') of Slow Loris are classified as endangered. Their natural instinct to stay completely still when threatened means they are ridiculously easy to capture and keep as pets - and, as is apparently fashionable, carry them around in a handbag. As is often the case in these situations, their survival instinct is the thing that is killing them.

They have incredibly sensitive hands and feet, they are transported in wire cages which, as a result of their unique blood vessel network, cut into their hands and feet causing them untold pain and suffering. Before being sold and transported further the traders take pliers to the mouths of the Slow Loris and pull out their sharp teeth as they have a toxic component in their saliva which can cause anaphylactic shock. This is done without any sort of anaesthetic and often, coupled with their being captured from the wild and transported in a tiny cage, causes the Slow Loris to go into shock and die. There is a 30-90% mortality rate in the transport of Slow Loris.

Finally, there is very little known about the Slow Loris - even things as basic as diet are unknown meaning that those Slow Loris who survive often die in capitivity from poor diet. This also means that breeding them in captivity is almost impossible, so those Slow Loris owners who claim their pets came from a captive breeder are either lying, or have been lied to.  In short, there are no positive aspects in the Slow Loris trade.  The small amount of information available about the Slow Loris also means that it doesn't actually have a reliable conservation status (see: Data Deficient) which undoubtedly complicates any conservation drives; the detail of this is included in the content for each of the 5 species listed on the IUCN Red List

Information on the Slow Loris is difficult to come across and often contradictory, and it requires some pretty specific searching to discover the legal status of pet trade and the reasons why so many people on youtube not just own a Slow Loris, but flaunt it on YouTube.  I only found out about CITES (see below) after emailing WSPA, and I only emailed WSPA because I'd been looking around on the internet for a couple of evenings trying to find international organisations who were working for the conservation of Slow Loris without any luck.

In 2007, at the request of Cambodia, CITES changed the Slow Lorises classification from Appendix II to Appendix I meaning that all trade in that animal was banned. The loophole, if you can call it that, is that the Slow Loris is native to South East Asia, and as you will all probably know, animal welfare and local and international laws pertaining to animal trade are roundly ignored in that area.

Organisations such as TRAFFIC seem to be doing a good job with limited resources but it really shocks me that such a cute animal is being widely championed by well known, BIG conservation organisations.

There are a couple of very good articles I have come across in my couple of weeks of digging around.
Too cute for comfort: This BBC article gives a pithy overview of the facts although it is now a little out of date.
YouTube videos may be imperiling cuddly primate: This is a comprehensive article examining various issues threatening the Slow Loris and the complex case of actually managing to make legislation mean something.
The loris: Another primate at risk from traditional Asian medicine: This recent article uses a recently published study to examine what is possibly a bigger issue than the pet trade in Slow Lorises, their use in traditional 'medicine'. People who are going to gut these animals to use in potions are unlikely to care about 90% mortality rate of transporting these creatures.

I'm continuing to research this stuff in the hope of finding some sort of organisation I can support.  In the meantime, awareness is always good, which is why you're seeing this post.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
So, odd day. Started off, as every other Tuesday does, with therapy.

Suddenly realised something about me, and how I manage - or don't manage - my moods.

My Mum's most common refrain, if I, or my brothers, is playing a certain kind of music - such as Radiohead, the Manics (GATS, THB, JFPL only) etc etc is "why are you listening to that suicide music?" She even said it once when I was listening to Josh Ritter's Hello Starling (my response? "it's not suicide music, it's about the return of hope" her response "pff!")

It's an infuriating little quirk and no amount of explanation of what a song is about, or what a certain genre of music is doing will change her. However, it reveals a little about how my Mum deals with extreme feelings: WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THEM.

I've always been rather British about this and concluded that not speaking about dramatic emotions is good and right. But over the years, and through the diagnoses that attitude has begun to change. I am thinking about how this attitude affects me because if I do move back in September, I'm going to be living under the same roof as it again

My main fear is that if things do go a bit pear shaped emotionally/mentally for me again I am going to be under enormous strain trying to keep it hidden - as I did as a teenager - which, of course, compounds the problem. I've spent the last 7/8 years expressing most of what I feel as it happens to my friends and partners, and being allowed the space to simply express it, with no repercussions, no being told not to think/feel those things, no being told to push it away, ignore it, no being told it's "not as bad as you think" or "you always take on so, don't" or simply "you'll feel better tomorrow".

The thing is, all of these bits of 'advice' from my Mum come with the best possible intentions. Deep, deep down she truly believes that if she doesn't acknowledge any of the things I say are happening to me/I'm feeling then they won't be feeling. My two eldest brothers had complete mental breakdowns - full on break with reality - and she very nearly managed to pretend that things weren't as bad as they were/happening for the reasons they were. In short, my Mum makes denial a world class sport.

The effect of all of this is that somewhere in my head is the hard-wired idea that both expressing and experiencing extreme emotions of any kind is wrong. It's reductive and not a little absurd to suggest that all my problems come from this deny/suppress environment, but I think it's fair to say it doesn't help.

Interestingly, my Dad has a very practical approach to all this, he's brilliant at coaching and counselling my brothers and has the gift of being able to provide practical perspectives and solutions to emotional hardship. However, I'm his only daughter, and I'm the youngest.  I feel like being number 4 of 4 kids with some sort of mental health failings means that I am the failure, I am the disappointment and if I told him I'd either disappoint or worry him - most likely both.  I don't want to do that.  

Of course, social factors aside, most of the things that mentally shit me over are probably genetic.  Genetic like the ligaments and joints that comprise my knees.

After I finished with therapy and had lunch I headed along to the Doctor's Surgery to talk about my knee pain.  My burning, flaming knee pain that happens whether I stand up for 8 hours at work or not and I was told that.....I have arthritis!

Joy.  Bought glucosamine, despite my massive scepticism of alternative remedies and went away with instructions to keep my knees straight when sitting - i.e. not sitting with my legs splayed apart with the knee joint turned outwards and to never cross my legs.  Or do the breast stroke when swimming - although I used to swim competitively and was taught to swim racing breast stroke which has a much straighter extend rather than kicking to the side so I might ignore that one.  Finally I was told to work on building up my quads - continue cycling to work and do some weird toe curling exercise when sitting.  Le sigh.

My seagulls remain in ruddy health and are growing like weeds.  Managed to capture two not-very-good occasions of them feeding, in each case I got my camera to the window after the main feeding was over.  Turns out nature is difficult to film, who knew!


Jun. 7th, 2010 03:51 am
askygoneonfire: 'Love' painted on to four fingers of a hand (love hand)
One of my most cherished facts about the UK is that no matter where you are, town or country, you can hear the dawn chorus. Every single morning. Yes, in the country it's deafening in a way it's hard to imagine in the city, but it's still there.

The first time I ever heard it was when I was about 10 and my Dad had woken me in the middle of the night to tell me to dress quickly because we had to take my Mum to hospital. We were in a&e with her for a couple of hours and when she was transfered to a ward we went home. We stood outside the back door as my Dad fumbled for his keys and, it seemed suddenly, the air around us began to vibrate with the very essence of bird song. It was a moment of perfect beauty in a night of fear and worry. I fell asleep quite quickly, thinking only of the wonder of the dawn chorus.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
The NaBloPoMo prompt isn't up for today yet and I want to blog now, so I've decided to just go for a simple one and post my most recent painting. I based it on a Matisse sketch and started off with a Hopper colour palette but of course things developed and it ended up looking more like a piece by Alexej von Jawlensky that I have on my wardrobe (click if you want to see what my wardrobe looks like, art-erific! I buy one postcard per gallery visit.). As a result - because it took such a journey from conception to completion - I don't really like it. However, this isn't a popular opinion, Bex, my flatmate and my Dad all like it - and my flatmate rarely likes my paintings. So I'm posting it in a speculative way. Unless my output explodes between now and the ArtFor Pride exhibition it will probably be for sale then, so one way or another, I'm going to have to get behind it.

Oh, and this afternoon I got squawked at by a seagull when I looked out of my bedroom window - nothing unusual in that, they nest on the flat roof over my attic conversion every spring/summer. However, later when I looked out the window I realised why I was squawked at so emphatically - one of their babies had fallen out of the nest;

I checked several times over the next few hours and he was still there all on his own but I just checked again and he's gone so the parents must have put him back in the nest, thank fuck. I teared up the other day when I saw a dead starling chick on the pavement. ETA; seriously though, he was SO CUTE. All fluffy and spotty and kept stretching out his disproportionately long legs and feet and fluffing himself up with a little flutter of his tiny wings, and then stalking about on the flat roof, he so completely had the attitude of a fully grown seagull.  I was a little bit in love with him and half imagining having to hand rear him if his parents didn't return.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

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