Thursday, September 30, 2004

how to tell if you need colonic irrigation
I bet you've always wanted to know this haven't you! Well, according to my sources you have to do the following two simple things:
  1. Eat sweetcorn
  2. Monitor your stools

If, after 24 hours, the corn has not reappeared you need to book yourself in for an internal drainpiping. Now, on hearing this my American friend K told me the following... (are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.) She and P were on a long car journey. They stopped off at a Dunkin Donuts or similar to use the facilities. While she was in the cubicle she heard the woman in the cubicle next door say: "Corn? When did I eat corn?"

Do I moan to TA about aspects of my life only I can change?
Do I overeat, binge if you must, when I know that I'll spend the rest of the day thinking about the possibility of being sick?
Do I demand more of others than I do of myself?
Don't I take action to create change or improve situations when I see the opportunity?
Do I force myself to endure inertia?
Aren't I more proactive?
Do I spend money I know I should save?
Is my reaction to stress most often: fuck it!
Do I continue to think that moving will change things, when deep down I understand that moving will only change the scenery, not my personality?
Do I never truly value experiences until they are over?
Do I look to TA for approval when I'm perfectly capable of validating my decisions myself?
Is it that I often repeat the same gripes in meetings rather than saying my piece just once and moving on?
Do I blush?

Just a few questions...
roped in
Work is kicking off again - this time it's all politics and tug of war about what my priorities should be and what my job is (and, more importantly, is not) it's crap and I hate being pulled one way then the other and being asked to do many tasks beyond my skill set. Obviously I can't write about it in detail here, but I can tell you that I would have been happy to spit in certain people's tea today!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

hot pants
I was never one of those coordinated children who are good at sports. If I ran, I ran knock-kneed, if someone threw a ball at me I never caught it or managed to hit it, if there was a box or horse to jump over I invariably fell over it or got stuck half way up it instead. Games lessons were horrible and I did everything I could to avoid them up to and including taking a hammer to my toes in an attempt to break them. Fitting me out with fantastic gym kit was, therefore, never high on my parents' agenda - not to mention another favourite way to avoid games class was to lose my kit. There was a uniform and I had one (netball skirt, gym knickers, dunlops - before they were trendy - and an airtex shirt), that was it. I might have had a pair of tracksuit bottoms at some point, but I can't remember any.
I did flirt with running (on my own) at university and went as far as buying a berli shock absorber bra, but I never went all out and invested in sportswear. Any soft cotton trousers I have owned have been expressly for the purpose of lounging, decadently, while reading. Granted, silk palazzio pants (or whatever they're called) would have been better for this, but I'm a little too buget conscious for that, and besides they need ironing.
Since joining the gym I have cobbled together some kind of gym attire from my stock of summer shorts, tee shirts, my sole pair of trainers and my token sports bra. I have been washing my sports bra everyday. Despite the fact that I'm enjoying the gym and have shelled out money to be kicked around by Frankie, somehow it didn't occur to me to take the final step and buy workout clothes. A rather sad state of affairs don't you think?
This is where TA stepped in. On Sunday we popped in to Lilywhites before going to the cinema. I conservatively thought I could use one pair of tracksuit-type trousers, I ended up with two pairs, I thought an extra sports bra would be useful, TA insisted I buy two and to top it all off I got a hooded top thing too.
If clothes maketh the woman, it's time for Paula Radcliffe to move over.

Monday, September 27, 2004

TA, housemate C, housemate C’s pal and I went to see Hero last night. The film is sumptuously, heartstoppingly beautiful – so beautiful in fact that it was only this morning that I began to think about the message of the film. Hero asks you to think about the definition of heroism: what is bravery, what is sacrifice, how do heroes transcend the ideology of their times.
I’m lucky enough to know a few heroes, perhaps you do too?

I’d like to nominate TA to the pantheon of heroes; for having the courage to face redundancy with dignity, for having the strength of character to get up every single day and apply himself to new tasks, for being humble enough to go back to university and retrain. His ability to be patient is heroic. His generosity and ability to be decadent in the face of ruin are heroic. The way in which he holds true to his values and tries to instil in others a sense of their inner worth and latent capabilities is heroic. TA has the grace and depth of a hero; he thinks deeply, looks on every new thing as an opportunity to learn; and takes pleasure in harmonious detail.

K, of P&K fame
K is luminescent. She has such warmth, such a glow that everyone is drawn to her. She is interested in you, she is patient with you, she is generous and funny and will cook up a storm for you. To spend time with K is to be wrapped in a fleecy blanket and coddled. Of course, K is sweetly addictive and people drain her dry sometimes – unknowingly, but still. If it was me I would withdraw and regroup, but not K. She has this amazing disregard for her own needs – I don’t mean she is one of those do-gooding martyr types – she understands what her availability costs her, but loves others so overwhelmingly that she continues to give (time, love, affection and little tokens that show that she’s been thinking of you) even when she’s at rock bottom herself. Unstinting sacrifice is heroic.

At the risk of sounding trite, let’s all be heroes today.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

why biochemistry?
Many moons ago, when I was but a slip of a thing I was asked to choose what subjects I'd take at A Level*. I pondered, I was pretty good at all the subjects at 15-16, and found everything pretty easy. My first thought was: physics, chemistry, biology and perhaps a maths AS (half an A Level) to help with the physics. I'd always loved science lessons and had always got top grades. However, since up until that point, we had combined science lessons I ws a little hazy on how the three subjects differed.
My English teacher took me to one side. 'Little badger,' he said 'I think that you'd really enjoy English A Level, there's none of that English Language nonsense, just pure and unadulterated reading of books.' So, now I added English to my list of subjects and since maths had always always been a weak spot, maths and physics went out of the window.
My later teenage years were not easy - whose are? - and school work was often at the bottom of my priority list as I was too busy rowing with my parents and moving in with my boyfriend, consequently, I didn't do well in any of my exams. By the time I needed to choose a degree subject I followed the path of least resistence and picked English (I later stuck history in there too). I had fleetingly looked at the course descriptions for the science courses, but was told that I couldn't apply for both - besides the curriculum for biochemistry used lots of words I didn't know, English courses just listed books I had yet to read.
I loved my course and later, when I was feeling understimulated, went back to college for an MA in postmodernism. However, I have never given any academic pursuit the time or dedication it warrents (blame rebellion, falling in love, breaking up, partying and then - for the MA- getting married), and that's why I've never graduated with the top grade. I'm really angry about this and feel as though I've still got something to prove - to myself, to the world.
So, my interest in biochemistry has always been there, it was just latent for a few years. Then, I started editing medical titles and I kept thinking, if only I'd kept up with my sciences I'd be able to understand so much more of this. The final straw came though when I started looking for a new job - all the good, well-paid editing jobs required a BSc. So, I applied and was accepted and I start in two weeks. I know this is going to be tough, tough, tough. This time I'm going to feel proud when I graduate rather than ashamed no matter what my grade.

*US readers: we take A Levels at 18, after two years of study. When I did them (things have changed a bit since then) you chose three or four subjects. A Levels were hard, I found them more difficult than anything I've ever done except perhaps finishing the dissertation for the MA. A Levels, because of the narrow range of subjects studied, tend to cover things at greater depth than the US system does at the same age.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

having it all?
I'm really struggling with balance since returning from the US. The first - and most important - reason for this is that work has suddenly gone full-on mental. I'm currently doing ten-hour days as a matter of course and, because of the way this job is panning out, that's ten hours of people calling, instant messaging and e-mailing me asking me where their work is. The constant interruptions make everything so stressful.
My stress levels mean that making time for the gym is a high priority. I never thought I'd feel like this, but exercising really helps me to put the stress into perspective and relax. If I've been running or to Pilates before work I feel much more able to cope with the onslaught. Also, of course, I still have weight to lose and need to shape up. So, must make time for the gym.
Thinking ahead, it is vitally important that I fully commit to my biochemistry degree course. I'm currently reading and revising to get ready for it, but come 4 October - when term starts- I will be in classes two nights a week and will need to spend considerably more time working on it at weekends. The course lasts four years - eek - and will hopefully open up entire new career vistas for me. Sciences don't come as easily to me as Arts subjects so I'm preparing for a huge effort.
Blogging remains one of my favourite hobbies and, before my trip, I used to spend at least an hour a day reading others' blogs and writing here. It's great to keep in touch with how other people are doing. Carroll, who sometimes comments here, once wrote that reading blogs allowed her to share in lives she'd never be able to live. And isn't that a wonderful thing? I love looking out of other people's windows on the world - it makes the world seem infintely richer. I have found that writing here also helps me reconnect with my sanity - when I've been upset, depressed or anxious the comments box has been such a great help. So, I must make time for blogging.
Friends and family are my support system and without TA's love and my friends I don't know where I'd be. Of course I need to ensure that I have time to nurture my relationships - and have fun too!
So - how on earth am I going to fit it all in?

Monday, September 20, 2004

not waving
I wanted to write about 1/making a new friend, 2/adverts on American television, 3/housemate C's trip to Ireland and homecoming, 4/how difficult it is to get on the property ladder, 5/ how Frankie hurt my bottom (again)...and many other fascinating things. However, unfortunately, I'm up to my eyes in work and haven't time to write anything. Perhaps tomorrow will be better?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

curry and craft
Top-secret craft project has taken up a like of its own, which is brilliant and scary both at the same time. I hope I can do it justice. TA is by turns perturbed, pleased and parental in response to my sudden passion for creation.
Today for an hour or so he took matters into his own hands - helping, but taking over too. Whenever he does this I am reminded that our aesthetics really are very different. He's all about perfection and polish - I like the things I make/paint/create to have a roughness, a raw and bleeding edge. So when I think something is looking just about right he comes along and wants to fix it for me.
TA and I went to the gym today and then out for coffee. I cooked lunch and TA talked to his brother on the phone. This afternoon I cleaned the flat, while TA played a computer game. This evening I cooked dinner, while TA played a computer game.
After dinner I went into the kitchen and started cleaning up. TA followed me in and deposited his plate but then disappeared. I started cleaning up - I take a Jackson Pollock approach to cookery - thinking: any minute now he'll be back to help me clean up. I unloaded the dishwasher - any minute now. I loaded it with dirty crocks - any minute. I wiped down the surfaces - he'll come and help me soon. I wiped down the oven. I was finished, in TA came. "Do you want a hand?" he innocently enquired. I left him in the kitchen and went into the living room to answer e-mail. Any minute now he'll bring me a cup of tea, I thought. In he came...wait for it...with a chocolate milkshake. One chocolate milkshake. For him. Now he's watching Back to the Future - and I'm still waiting. Some days I wonder what goes on in his head!

Friday, September 17, 2004

it's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye
Today has been all systems go. I went to the gym extra early so that I could get into the office by 8.30am. Then it was barely controlled chaos: first Microsoft wanted to send a statement of support to the wire; then they didn't; I had five documents to format and anglicise; someone wanted to convert a pdf to a word file, but it had security settings and no one had the password; then I was asked to make another round of changes to a PowerPoint presentation.....on and on it went...until at 7pm - halfway through printing and binding said PowerPoint presentation - the colour printer gave up the ghost and I had to make an emergency call to Kinko's. Luckily they could oblige us. Then I spent an hour binding.
Top-secret craft project will have to wait another night. If you want pics of the work in progress drop me a line at the usual address.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

something strange
Is happening to the UB - when I look at it at work my latest posts don't show odd.
So the top-secret craft project isn't the quilt, it's a present for a new friend I made (more on which in another post). I dreamed up the idea while on the plane flying home, inspired by my visit to the Portland Art Museum Especially this bit of it. Woo - scary!
TA picked me up at the airport on Saturday and escorted me home. It was strange - for me at least - three weeks apart had made him seem just a little bit unknown. I was nervous around him for the first few hours! TA said several times - we need to buy a new chair. I was a little freaked out by this, but since our dining room chairs are a little wobbly noy unduly surprised. I asked TA which chair had been broken, but he wouldn't tell me. When we got home all the chairs were in working order. Odd. I unpacked in the kitchen (I had a rucksack full of wine) so it was several minutes before I went into the bedroom. When I did I discovered that TA had built me a desk! He'd lined up my biochemistry books and bought a beautiful orchid - perfect.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

all apologies
Sorry it's been so long - I've got enough material for at least ten posts, the trouble is that the clamour in my head means that I can't seem to concentrate on getting even one post written. I'm still suffering from jet lag and tomorrow morning Frankie is going to kick my butt like it's never been kicked before. Oh dear...
Anyway, now that I've defrosted the fridge and half completed a top-secret craft project I should be able to devote some time to blogging tonight. It'll be great to catch up with everyone!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

just a quickie
holiday was great and training is going well. Living it up in the hotel by watching trashy cable and staying up late. I left a magazine out with a note to the chambermaid saying help yourself. In return I got a note saying I am a different cleaner but will pass the mag on to Evelyn. She tells me you don't like spiders so I have hunted for them. Puzzled and amused, today I wrote a note saying help yourself to bananas. I hope that these exchanges will continue to increase in strangeness.