22 January 2010

Assaulted by Vegans

Earlier this week I went to pick up my vegetables. For well over a year now, I have subscribed to an organic vegetable box scheme. One in fact, I would highly recommend. One of their principles is to really limit their carbon footprint. So instead of delivering to many individual houses (as many box schemes do), they deliver to local pick-up points and it's up to you to collect your vegetables from the pick-up point once a week.

Now as it turns out, I only live a block away from one of the pick-up points, which certainly impacts my general like of the scheme I'm sure. The next point of note, is that the particular pick-up point by me is a vegan cafe.

Now, to back the story up slightly, and to connect to my previous post, when I started at my industrial partner, I thought I needed a somewhat nicer jacket than my old stained puffy feather green jacket. The only jacket I really had was a leather jacket with a fur trimmed hood. I figured this was nicer and perhaps better to wear to work than an old stained green jacket. On top of that, it's warmer as well which is good because London has been a bit cold this winter.

I'm sure we can all see where there story is going. But yes, I went to pick up my vegetables, at the vegan cafe, wearing my leather jacket with fur trimmed hood.

Now I'm not an idiot and it did occur to me that maybe this wasn't ideal, but it was the last day for vegetable pick-up and I figured what, maybe I'd get some dirty looks but really I was just going in and out and that would be that.


So I get there and it's busy. And almost immediately as I walk up to the counter to tell them I'm there for my vegetables a little punk ass two-toned hair vegan starts calling over to me and asking if I know the fur on my jacket is real fur.

Yes I say. I know it's real fur. This jacket is also 20 years old at this point, and you know what? I eat meat, and I'm okay with it. Sorry if it offends you.

He then asks me if I would wear an aborted fetus that was 20 years old.

I said I would and turned away from him. This was obviously going to be a pointless exercise. And of course, the staff were busy and no one was coming to the counter and I was stuck. Worse, stringy vegan boy's table is blocking my access to the vegetables so I ask his table-mate to move so I can just get my vegetables and be on my way. She of course doesn't move, then the staff come out.

I apologize, say I really didn't mean to cause trouble, just want my vegetables and am happy to go. I should also point out that the vegan cafe is not the one I pay for the vegetables. They host the pick-up service, possibly even get some money (or vegetables) to offer the pick-up service, but they are not the ones offering a service to me.

Vegan two-tone starts loudly proclaiming that they don't serve people who wear fur and I shouldn't be served. I point out I'm not asking to be served, just want my vegetables. Name off list, and I'll be on my way, and oh, could that girl move please.

I end up having to shove past her and dive over some guy on a computer only to find that there are no small vegetable bags left. So I've been through all this harassment for nothing and just want to leave. Two-tones friend makes like she's going to block me in and then makes a big huff about moving her chair out of the way.

I then have to tell them there are no vegetables so I don't get charged for a bag. All the while I'm just receiving much abuse from little two-tone. I'm generally trying not to engage him. It really wasn't my intention to cause trouble and to be fair, I didn't do or say anything. He really started it and wouldn't drop it. I was highly tempted to point out that my jacket was leather, my purse was leather, my shoes were leather, and my wallet was leather as he only seemed to be fixated on the fur trim for some reason. But I thought maybe that wasn't a good idea, so I just did my best to ignore him. Told them I had no vegetables and made to leave.

And the door was stuck. I tried the lock, it wouldn't open and I had this fear that some creepy vegan had locked the door so they could continue down this vein of harassment. I was really frustrated and just wanted to leave, all the while stringy vegan is now shouting at me that I'm so stupid I don't know how to operate a door, so a woman gets up to help me get the door so two-tone starts yelling at her, then she's telling him off and it's all kinds of fun.

The door was just jammed, she managed to free it in a far firmer jerk than I would have felt comfortable doing. As I went to go, vegan fudnut yells at me that I better not ever come back. I couldn't help but return that I come every week for my vegetables as I went out the door.

The whole thing just left me a bit shaken up and jittery. I really do despise confrontation.

On top of which, I was thinking today earlier that I really need to give up the vegetable scheme as I'm not around much to make use of it and will soon be around even less as I split my time between Cambridge and London.

Is it wrong that the wanky vegan twat experience actually made me consider changing my mind and instead wearing fur there every week? Like I said, I really don't take well to being attacked. It only makes me want to get even.

21 January 2010

Settling In

I'll find a picture later to go along with this. I'm writing from my industrial partner's office where I have a desk. This is my second week here, and my second week of being a full time student, whatever that currently means. Not to belabor a point, but communication with Cambridge has been poor to abysmal. Go figure.

My industrial partner is much better. They expected me, they got me a desk and a phone and an email and an access card. I get invited to meetings and had a number of 'Meet and Greets' arranged for me by the group administrator.

Still, I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing here other than learning and absorbing knowledge and information about their business and holdings that will hopefully all condense down into the fundamentals of my PhD thesis.

Still, it's like I have entered another world and this in itself takes some getting used to.

For starters, all of the men here wear suits. Every day. They tend to take their jackets off while sitting at their desks but every last man is suited. The women are a more diverse breed. Some wear suits and some don't. I have a feeling that the more senior female staff members tend to wear suits, but this doesn't always seem to be the case in either direction.

I only have one suit, and I can't wear it every day so I've been doing my best to 'dress up' though I feel like I'm not doing a very good job. I just don't have the wardrobe for it. And now that I'm a student, I don't have much of a budget to fix it either. Oh well.

Here's another thing. Most of the women are thin. Maybe I'm too used to spending my time in East London, but these fragile waifs wandering about in their suits (or not suits) make me feel slightly ill at east. Oh, and most people are white as well, though I have met the occasional minority, they are most certainly a minority here.

And of course there is just the waft of money in the air. I'm sure everyone here is on a very good salary by my standards and probably by industry standards. I bet some of them are on incredibly good salaries. More than I would ever have hoped to achieve. It's not that anyone does anything to throw this in your face, it's just this overwhelming sense of it. That's a bit strange to get used to as well.

These are the things that vaguely startle me. On the positive side, this office is incredibly friendly. For as 'business' as everyone is, they really are quite warm and welcoming which is nice. And the company seems to provide nice perks. Nothing outrageous, but enough small things to just generally make a pleasing working environment.

Oh, and the office chairs are like super top end. I spent a good portion of today messing with the 20 chair adjustments I could make. Although I need a footrest thing because my legs are short, my chair is so so so comfortable. Now if only I could take one of these puppies home.

Because things haven't really taken off yet, I feel more like I'm slowly easing into my new position rather than being thrown in head first. This is probably something I should be happy about, but it makes me nervous as I keep wondering just when the shit is going to hit the fan and things are going to be expected of me. Like I'm going to get caught with my pants down or something. I prefer to be prepared and to know what's coming. Just now, I feel like I don't know very much- so that makes me uneasy.

I do know though, that the canteen has a lovely sushi pack for £3.50 every day. For now, that will have to appease.

09 January 2010

Ice and Babes

Well, I can't make up my mind which topic I'd rather talk about just now so I think I'll talk about both. Pressingly, it's rather icy outside. This is what happens when no one shovels. Even though there was only a small amount of snow (really) in London, compressing it by stepping on it, letting it warm just enough in the sun to liquefy and then ice up again in the night turns certain streets and sidewalks into sheets of ice. Including the one just outside my house. It can't be even an inch in thickness, but it's enough to take your life into your own hands by walking on it. Luckily, the street is more clear so if you can cross the ice sheet to walk on the street instead, you are okay.

Still, this perplexes me because it would have been very simple to avoid all of this ice if people would just shovel. My theory, for London at least, is this - you know those guys who pick up trash in the wheelie bins? Why not, for the days that it is snowing, take away their wheelie bins and give them a shovel? As long as you make a clear path, it will actually stay clear even if it doesn't get warm enough to get rid of all the snow. This is obvious around London when you go places where people walk a lot, and can see that as long as the snow was gone from the start, it generally stays clear.

But seriously. Come up with a strategy. I just did. It's not that hard. And it would save a lot of falls!

Now, to completely change subjects.

I have a couple of friends who are trying to get pregnant and one friend who is at least halfway through cooking her bun in the oven. Not to mention those friends of mine who already have kids.

In fact, it's a somewhat unfortunate side effect of Facebook- to see people I have met at various stages throughout my life who were, when we met let's say 'at the same point' as me. Some of them, like, people I went to high school with, are just having their first children now. So on the one hand I don't feel that behind, but on the other hand if you consider that before you get a kid you probably have relationship for a while, and then a marriage for a bit, and then you might try for a kid and it still takes nine months for one to mature, I guess I'm more behind then I thought.

On the other hand, my two closest friends from high school do not have children, and I believe there are a fair few others as well. So I'm not the only one- but when it's on your mind, I guess it's how you look at it.

Now my two friends trying to get pregnant are a study in contrasts. Both are concerned that they may not get pregnant, but both are approaching it entirely different. Friend one (who went off the pill first) is worried that it might not happen. Has occasionally checked her hormone levels to see if she is ovulating. Her and her husband have decided however, if they don't get pregnant, it's just not meant to be. They wont' do IVF. They'll get pets.

Then there is my other friend. She went off the pill a few months ago and is not pregnant yet. For various other reasons, this event has become the only thing of importance to her life. In fact, in some ways she is hanging her whole value as a person on whether or not she can get pregnant. She's been to the doctor to get tested and checked. She's sending her husband to get checked. She says after 6 months they must start hormone therapy. She says because she isn't pregnant yet she feels as though she is broken, and that she has left it all too long.

To which I am utterly puzzled. What does 'left it too long' mean really? Because she, like many of my female friends, always assumed we would grow up to have a husband and probably a family and for many of us, this did not happen in the way that we expected when we were children.

She hasn't gotten pregnant yet because the opportunity really wasn't there. If she were to look at the course of her life, I suppose she could have gotten pregnant 'by mistake' at some point. But had that happened, she would have probably had an abortion. She was never in the relationship she wanted or needed to be in to raise a child. So I don't really see how she can be so critical of herself now- that she left it too long. If it was going to happen earlier, it would have happened earlier.

And then to say this to me, who only has one ovary now, who does not have the husband, or even the relationship that might be a husband and so am at least a few years off of the possibility of having children (at least how I currently think of it) I find slightly mental (or at least, inconsiderate).

I know there are other significant reasons that have to do with who she is as a person and her current life choices and resulting situation for why this particular life event has taken on such immeasurable significance. But still. It's sometimes difficult to listen to.

And it does make me think about things I don't think about all that often- mainly, about whether or not I want children and how there is a time window that gets smaller and smaller every year for that to happen. It is fair enough to say that I am well past the half way point of my ability to have a child. And although there are many likely years ahead of me, it's well on the downward slope now. Not to mention that, as I say, without a relationship with any sort of potential, some of that time is just eaten up anyway and the window gets smaller and smaller.

Will I be sad if I never have children? I think so. It is something that I always thought I wanted. But I only wanted it within the context of a relationship and family. I have never been overly keen on babies or fantasized a lot about being a mother. But it is something, within the general outline of my life that I thought I would like to have or be.

And that may not happen. I suppose I could always adopt. I could always find someone with children already. There are other ways to 'have children'. But I mean having my own. I understand that this may not happen. Yes, this makes me sad. But I also understand that as sad as it may make me, there was no opportunity along the way where it would have been a good idea for me to have a child either.

I suppose I could have done it alone. Been a single parent. But then my life wouldn't be at all what it is now. My entire life would have been about being a single parent for a good long time. I would maybe never have moved to England, possibly never become an architect. Of course this depends when it might have happened. Having a child on your own is hard. And expensive. So while it could have happened, maybe, I don't really regret that I didn't have an accident or mistake. And that's what it would have been. I have never been in a place where I was actively wanting a child with someone. That just hasn't happened yet and it may not happen ever.

But I don't really see that I'm to blame or that I've done something wrong. Or even that I'm broken. Life is what it is you know? No one gets everything that they want, and you have to learn how to cope with disappointment. Even for things that you might really really want. Hopefully, there are other things in your life that make you happy and content. Children really shouldn't be the end all be all of your existence. I mean, what does that then say about you as a person? That you are nothing without a child? Then you are basically saying that you are nothing now.

Frankly, I find that much more sad.

04 January 2010


I don't really have a particular topic to write about just now. This is more free form. Probably because I am procrastinating a bit. There are many things I should be doing, and blogging is certainly not one of them.

I managed to make some dinner. That was good. I brought lunch to work today but went out with T instead so I will eat it tomorrow. I need to get well and truly back on budget. I'm worried about how this year will go. I just need to be really strict. I think I can do that, but it will take some adjusting.

Getting back in touch with people and life slowly spins back to normal - whatever normal is.

Huh. In looking up an image to use for this post, I just learned how to make awesome swirly things in Illustrator. Score! I like learning things like that. Very exciting.

Ho hum. I wish I had something more to say. Something interesting to talk about. Maybe a list of all the things I'm not doing in the meantime instead.

- Starting my lecture that I need to give on the 26th.
- Writing to S
- Writing to M
- Writing to JF
- Calling my mother (I might just do this when I finish this post)
- Doing dishes
- Putting away clothes
- Putting away last bits of stuff from trip (ie, not clothes)
- Throwing away random shit that has accumulated around my house
- Practice guitar
- Knit
- Reading something
- Re-tying my new ropes into usable bundles
- Whip cracking practice

Man. My life is so very unexciting.

02 January 2010

Another New Year

Well, it is isn't it? I don't know why I can't get that excited about this particular change over. Usually I'm rather charmed by things like significant changing numbers (2009-->10 for example). But this year I just can't connect to it. Maybe because I already have so much change going on in my life that it seems insignificant. Who can say?

My trip home to the States was good, albeit short and busy. There was only one day where I sort of sat at home for a while. Every other day I was out doing something. Which is fun, but tiring. I got back just in time for New Years and went to a friend's for that. Now it's the weekend- just a weekend, and then work on Monday and back to the grind. I sort of wonder where my vacation went or if I even had one at all. I'd really just like to sit at home for a week. But that isn't going to happen any time soon, or at least in the next few months.

One week and one day left at my current job and I'm straight full time into the PhD. I actually try not to think about it to much because it's really intimidating and a big deal. Like looking at an impossibly high mountain from the valley floor, you can't imagine how you're going to reach the top or that it's going to take so long. You just have this vague belief that you will get there eventually, but it's scary.

I feel like I want to try and write more, but then I tend to always feel like that. There are always so many things I think I should be doing, want to be doing, would like to be doing- but finding the motivation and energy to actually do them seems impossible frequently. This is truly an underlying theme to my existence, one I don't particularly like, but accept. I will do what I will do and be what I will be but I will always think that I could have done or been more.

All I can do is try you know? Try to be better, do better, and most of all to be happy. No matter what life throws at me, if I can stay true to myself, if I can find happiness in what I manage to create around me, then I am content. Of course I want more- but I refuse to spend a lifetime in longing. Healthy desire is one thing, but constant dissatisfaction is entirely another and one I am not willing to accept. I think overall I've been very good at achieving this balance in my life. I do believe that although I do not have everything I want, that I am not everything I desire, that I am overall content.

Hopefully this year will bring more of the same.