27 December 2011

Accounting Time

It's that time of year again, the end of it.  The beginning of a new one.  Time to reflect on the past 365 days- what was wished for and what was actually achieved.  It's not quite the end of the month yet, but it's close enough for me to start considering my past year.

In many ways I feel oddly disappointed with this past year.  It's not that I haven't achieved things, as I most certainly have, but instead I don't find these things satisfying.  So on the plus side, I have been involved in the publication of 3 substantial reports, 3 business marketing summaries, I've had 2 conference papers accepted, and I've managed to do a small amount of my own work.

On the other hand, at this time last year I was thinking about the work I needed to do to begin my PhD work, mainly, that I needed to do Council research and start developing, and then do, my interviews.  Now, a year later, I find that I need to do Council research and complete my interviews and that nothing much else by way of my own work has been achieved.  On the plus side, because I complained about how much work I was doing for the research program (see the three reports listed above), I have received an additional six months of funding to account for the time lost.  And, the reality is, I still have an entire year and a half to finish my PhD on schedule.  So without distraction, I may actually be able to complete on time regardless, or close to it. And this new year is truly free of most other obligations leaving it free for me to pursue my own work and writing.  So that's good, but you can see how an entire year later, I vaguely feel like I haven't gotten very far at all.

I only had one relationship of note this year, with Mr. English.  That was a useful relationship in many ways as it taught me that I am not the sort of person to settle.  Alternately, I feel strongly that I am willing to compromise in many ways, but there is also something that is 'too much'.  Mr. English was 'too much'.  And I do not have the personality or inclination to give up that much of myself just to have a relationship.  The result of this was not to feel very positive about relationships however, and I find I am in a down turn about the entire subject at the moment.  Forever knowing that I'm not unhappy with my life, but that I would really like to be able to share it with someone, and doubting that it will ever happen.

Friendships this year have been good.  No major bust-ups or issues.  Although I feel that there is growing distance between me and some of my friends as their lives go in other directions or take up significant portions of their attention.  For the first time in a long time, I think most of my friends are in serious relationships and not single.  This relates to the previous paragraph and again makes me feel in many ways like I am 'falling behind' in some way, but that is just how I feel, not particularly indicative of anything.  A lot of friends having babies, or trying to have babies, or trying to and not having babies.  That's also interesting and also makes me feel in many ways left out.  Although it doesn't make me feel desperate for a baby, it honestly just makes me feel left out.  Perhaps not the best incentive for reproduction.

My parents are much the same which is just as well.  As they get older, I worry about them.  And by extension, I worry about me and how I will cope with thins when they are not okay.  I wish I had better relationships with my parents, but I know that I can't make them be people they are not, and that you are pretty much stuck with who they are.  I'm glad that the relationship I do have with them both is better than what other people have with their parents.  I'm thankful that I still have both of my parents when other people do not.  It's impossible to be too upset about family things.  My family is pretty good as far as families go.  And that's what's important.

Anything else important about this year?  I can't think of much.  It seems in many ways unmemorable.  Next year should be a big deal.  At least, there's a shitload of things to take care of, and it looks like it's going to be a busy one.  That's good.  I'm starting the third year of my PhD now, it's time to get this thing finished.  In many ways I'm enjoying this 'break' from the real world and having time to myself, but I miss the structure and accomplishment of having a job and actually getting real things done.  I prefer action over research and while I'm going to be thrilled beyond belief when I actually complete my PhD, I also know I'm very much going to enjoy getting back to 'real' work.  Not to mention a real salary!

Enough catching up for now.  There are more mundane things I could record here and complain about.  But another time I think.

09 November 2011

Intensity

This is what has been on my mind.  It may have pushed me to reaching out to the girl.  It is possible that these thoughts were stirred by her words, because they validate in some ways what I felt, though her experience and way of processing things was and probably is very different to mine.

Although I have beyond zero interest in ever remotely even considering anything further with Mr.Aloof, when I look at old emails, I notice something about myself.  In part, I suppose that I was crazy to put up with the dribbles that he sent me.  But more the intensity that I had when reaching out to him.  The intensity that he, for better or for worse, inspired within me.

It took me a long time to identify it as love.  And then even longer to think that it was something else entirely.

The thing is, although I have dated since Mr.Aloof, and that includes two reasonably timed relationships, one with Heathrow and another with Mr.English, as well as the dalliances with the Git, the Economist, and the Jackrabbit, I have not felt anything close to that intensity for anyone since.  I have also not been in love with anyone since.  I realize these two thoughts are not necessarily linked, but you can see why I might feel inclined to lump them together.

I partner this with a conversation I had recently with some people from my research center where we were talking about our Meyers Briggs and a colleague expressed surprise that I am INTJ.  In particular she thought the 'I' should be an 'E' and I assured here that of all of them, that was probably the most stable and then another colleague piped up that, yes, although you may know me, how much do you really know about me?  Suggesting that although I am social and engaging I am actually somewhat secretive.

Now this is sort of funny because one of the last things I consider myself to be is somewhat secretive.  But I do tend not to blurt out stuff about myself to groups.  Most of my relationships are one to one (hence the 'I') or in smaller intimate groups.  Then I started thinking about this further.  Am I so difficult to get to know?  Am I so unfriendly or uninviting?  And then, because I'm a silly girl, if I'm that hard to get to know, then clearly I'm never going to find a boyfriend.

What was it about Mr.Aloof that encouraged me to open up to him?  Not his reciprocal nature, that's for sure.  I believe in part, it had to do with the total intensity of the brief times we shared together.  When you feel like you really transcend experience with someone and that they are there with you on some other plane of reality, then I suppose it's fairly easy to talk about everything else.  Although, I remember being reticent to tell him how I felt sometimes because I feared it would drive him away.

So even those memories aren't quite right. 

I can't entirely capture what I want to say about this.  Although Mr.Aloof was a complete and utter bastard, we shared something that was incredibly powerful.  It was probably not love, but it was something, and it marked me.  Now, I date new people.  I try to balance not having someone be a total dick to me but still wanting to experience some of those thrills and highs that I had with him.  Primarily founded in my sexual proclivities.  I have not found anyone like this at all.

This young girl by the way, she has.  She took a different path, but then, she's a very different person.  And much younger than me.  I was never like her, even when I was her age.  I think it will be interesting to meet her, and while it will be useful in some ways, it will cause me much to think about introspectively in others.  Because I read her blog, and part of me doesn't believe entirely in what she has anymore.  Not that I don't believe that she has it, but I see what she has, and I don't want that either.

I fear what I want doesn't exist sometimes.  And I fear that I will never -feel- again, and to the depth for another human being that I have now experienced.  I am probably wrong in this.  But until life shows me otherwise, then what have I got?

08 November 2011

Digging and Filling

There is no good way to write this post.  But I need to record it.  The end result is good I think.  Confusing in some ways, but good.

When to start.  In 2006?  Last month?  How about with the basic facts.  I stalk people.  People I used to know.  People I may have never met.  People who crossed my path for some reason at some point and piqued my interest.  At the time, I found them, and then, I find it hard to let them go.  Some people I stalk irregularly, and others more often.  Mostly it depends on how much effort it takes.

The fallout of three years wasted with Mr.Aloof is that there are a couple of profiles I follow from moments of revelation with him.  This is about the first.  The first one I knew about.  The one who seemed to have the things I wanted.  The one who wrote about things that I had had as if they were hers.  I hated her then.  I confronted him.  He encouraged my feelings by filling in details of her craziness and obsessiveness.  She continued to pursue him while he was pursuing me, and Toy.  I distinctly remember that I practically begged him that he never invite her to any of the activities he planned because I didn't think I would be able to handle meeting her.

How well my own fears and hurts played into his hands.

It's now over four years from then.  I've continued to follow this girl.  She was infrequent, not overly interesting.  And as it was so long ago, and also, as so many awful things happened after her, it didn't really matter.  It was habit.

So it was equally habit when a month ago she started a tumblr blog, I just clicked and started following that too.

It was interesting.  Of course tumblr is mostly for images, and the image she posted are ones I enjoy.  But she also was writing.  Giving me extra glimpses of that time.  Of things that I didn't understand.  One of the perks of stalking.  She has a new partner now and he has a tumblr too.   I followed his as well for good measure, again, don't get me wrong, there's a reasonable overlap of interests, and enough reasons to look at the blogs, even without the extra connections.  But still, the real gold for me was the nuggets I learned.

But then slowly, the things I started to learn upset me.  And some of the images I saw being posted were ones I had sent to Mr.Aloof.  And suddenly, I wanted this girl to know about me.  I wanted her to know some of the things he said about her, because it didn't match what she was posting on her blog.  I wanted her to know some of those photos were mine.  Some of those words were mine.  Those items were mine.  Or rather, mine first.

I have no idea what drove me to do what I did.  I tried to work out a way to contact her anonymously but it didn't really work.  So I made a tumblr.  I used his old emails to me to make a very succinct but clear story to show that I wasn't crazy.  I included a blog I had on IC about the day I found out about her.  Then, I used that tumblr to follow her blog.  I figured there was a small chance she wouldn't check the blog.  Then I saw that she was on IC and I realized that since I'd copied a post, it would be easy to find me directly.  All that effort for nothing.  But, it wasn't for nothing.  I was still torn and unsure.  I needed to make it difficult.  To see if it was really worth it.

And she contacted me almost in a panic.  That it was Mr.Aloof fucking around with her.  I quickly assured her it was not so.  But that I needed to know, and I needed her to know.  I wanted some clarity, and I felt perhaps I could give her some as well.

We've had a frantic 24 hours of message exchange.

I am still a bit in shock about the things I learned.  When Mr.Aloof split with me in May 2006, he'd already been seeing her since January.  The reason he split with me, was not to be alone and because he had no time as he suggested, but because she was moving in to the warehouse.  And then, they moved in to a flat in Croydon together.  When I found out about her, a week after he and I had hooked up, he was actually living with this woman.  And then subsequently telling me she was nothing and not anyone of consequence.  She was in Dorking around the same time I was, albeit only once.  But even in 2007, as I got back with him and with Toy for yet another year of my life, and all of it was so much drama, he was pursuing her.

And the maid.  And others.

She told me of the others.  She asks did I know them?  Did I know of the others?  Jesus, how many were there?  No wonder the man had no time at all.

But the icing on the cake.  Guess what he called her in 2006 and throughout their time together as a way to goad her?  You'll never guess.  He called her... Ms.Aloof.  I shit you not.  I was tempted to send her here, to this blog, to prove I couldn't make this stuff up.

I might meet this girl for a coffee.  We were both a bit overwhelmed by my actions and subsequent revelations. She knows more things that might help fill gaps as do I.  I find with this level of exposure it has the knock on effect of being some kind of relief.  I've known these things for so long, but I didn't really have anyone who understood completely.  She understands because she experienced it.  It's amazing in a way, to validate that I'm not crazy or making this shit up.  Because she understands the lows, but she also understands the highs.  And I don't think almost anyone I know really understands what it's like to be so overcome by someone so masterful in the arenas that I wander.

Fuck.  I have her emails saved.  And she's written it up in her tumblr.  I don't need to record all the detail here, I just needed to record something.  I have more to say on this in another post.  Which is probably related to why I spontaneously decided to reach out to her now.  But that will have to be for another time.  This post is for this.

Mr.Aloof was, and probably still is, a fucking sociopath.  I can't possibly explain what this small bit of revelation has done for me.  The good thing, is that I can see how far I've come.  And, post therapy, and possibly even without, I can guarantee I will never, ever fall for something like that ever again.

31 October 2011

Perspective

I have a short break in my work mania.  I've handed off the draft report to three reviewers for feedback.  I should be getting it back in the next couple of days, and then I will be working like a crazy person again to make all the final changes and get it ready for the big event on November 15th.

But right now, I have a break.  I haven't done much.  I had ideas that I would do things but mostly I sat around my flat in a stupor.  I talked to my mom for a few hours.  I watched television.  I read at least two books on my Kindle.  I did a single load of laundry.  But really, I did not much of anything.  Today I should have gone in to my office space, and I got up and got dressed as if I was going on.  But then I puttered around and somehow it's past noon and I'm clearly not going in.  But I don't really have anything to do there.  So why should I?  Instead I'm meeting T for lunch which should be good, and I need to go to that in about fifteen minutes.

But in the meantime, I'm here.  Thinking about perspective and how people really should try to have it more often.  I guess I should try to have it sometimes.  I was talking to my mom about life things and we were saying that really, when it comes to work and my professional life, I've been very lucky.  Not lucky in the sense that I've made a lot of money (because I haven't) but lucky in that I found a career path that I'm good at and that I enjoy and that makes me happy.  That even when things were up in the air or unsure, I always seem to come out on top when it comes to work.  I know a lot of people who don't enjoy what they do, or haven't had luck at work.  And I can't say that's been me.  I've been very lucky in that regard.

And I've been very lucky in my living spaces.  I live in a city I love.  I've lived in many cities and had lots of great living experiences.  Again, others have not been so lucky in this area.  I can't complain.

The one area I've not been lucky is relationships.  Although I've grown significantly and I think I'm a much happier person in this area, I still don't have that someone special.  My mother told me that my relatives (on her side) think I'm a lesbian.  That was nice.  If I was a lesbian, I'd probably have a frigging relationship.  Also, I would not feel any need to hide this from my family.  But no, no luck with relationships.

But my perspective should be a little bit better than it is sometimes.  Because in two major areas of life, I've got a pretty good thing going.  And even my relationship in terms of the one I've developed with myself, is much better as well.  So in the big big picture, things really aren't all that awful.

This is particularly on my mind at the moment because I have a friend who has pretty much lost the plot and could use some perspective.  I think she's mad at me because I said in a tiny little paragraph something to this effect although I did my best to phrase it in the nicest way possible.  Life isn't fair you know.  So you need to count your blessings where you have them, and not take things that you have for granted because I guarantee out of all the friends I have, if you think "Oh poor me" then I promise you your shit could be a whole lot worse.  I'm not saying anything quite so insensitive as 'get over it' but some perspective would not be amiss.

22 October 2011

Just Hanging On

I don't know what I wrote about last time.  I feel very much adrift at the moment, trying to get this report together.  It's coming together, but it's all haphazard.  And on top of everything else, I have been sick this week- first cold of the season.  So I spent at least two days, but probably more like three, slightly delirious and feverish and I would be hard pressed to tell you everything I did in those days, although I know that part of it included needing to go to Cambridge and having to cycle to Tottenham Hale station because my local station had no trains and all the while as I cycled through London I was thinking, really, this isn't the best idea given that I'm fucking sick!!

But I made it through.  Did what I needed to do.  Have been working relatively diligently.  It's coming together but I'm sort of afraid if anyone were to lift up that thin facade, they'd be presented with the total wreck that lies underneath.  I have no confidence that the work I'm doing right now is what it should be.  In fact, I know that it isn't.  What I'm trying to do is write a report that is supposed to be the result of a three year research program.  What research?  There hasn't been any bloody research.  Me and the other PhD, we're pulling all this shit together on a shoestring and by an hourglass.  I think the worst part, is that from the little that I'm scraping together, I can see that actually- actually, there is real potential in this work.  There is actually something interesting and potentially important within it.  But it's never going to be looked at again.  It's not going to be used or investigated properly.

But it doesn't matter.  I just need to get it done.  At least now my cold is receding although I'm terrified that I'm going to be left with the obligatory cough that won't go away.  I have six days to finish off the first draft before it gets sent off to those who will rip it apart.  Then I have just a scant few days to make any changes, get it out again, and have it all ready for the big event.  The big event is scheduled for November 15.  If we can pull this shit together, if we can really do it, then after that date I am free of all of this work for my research program.  Then the only thing that I will have left to do for the next year and a half (plus an additional six month overrun if necessary) is my own fucking work.  I can't tell you what a relief that will be, but I also can't explain how much I have disliked this particular exercise.  Which sort of sucks because it's just like writing a PhD.  So I'm wasting my energy and interest on this bullshit when really I need to save that up for my own big job.  I'm sure it will be fine and after this work is done, I will take a small mental break and then be much much happier about life.  But I'm not there yet, so for now it's all just postulating.

In other news, I've been depressed about the dating situation or lack thereof.  Of course it's not that I have any time for dating.  But still, I'm feeling particularly down about it at the moment.  Maybe I'm just not cut out for long term relationships.  I've never had one.  For some reason as time goes on it just seems less and less likely.  I mean, I know that's not exactly true.  And it's important that I'm not trying to blame myself in this.  It's just fucking depressing is all.  I don't have loads more to say about it that I haven't said before.  I just think that the odds of my ever finding someone who I love and who loves me back is minimal.

Right.  I need to go get my dinner out of the oven.  As I'm going to Cambridge tomorrow, I have nothing in particular to make a good dinner out of, so I've roasted up some sweet potatoes and made some rice to go with it.  Not particularly exciting but at least it's warm and moderately healthy.  Much better than the Doritos and nacho cheese dip that was my second choice.

05 October 2011

Reboot

I'm having one of those days where I just need to recover.  I have one very large and massive thing yet to accomplish which will take the entirety of the rest of this month.  In addition I have two smaller things which are mostly complete but are not actually complete and will probably need some revision yet.  I can just about see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe.

Yesterday I got off to my supervisor my first draft of my conference paper.  I felt like it was probably pretty poor.  I mean, it's not poor, but it's not very well structured.  A bit all over the place.  I have been working on it straight for five days.  That included all weekend where we had some of the best weather ever.  What was I doing?  I was inside working on this fucking paper.

But I got it off.  So that's good.  It's in a format that is at least most of the way there, even if there are major sorts of revisions.  I don't care.  That's easier than writing it to begin with.  So today I should have jumped right in and started on my next massive report.  But I can't find the motivation and it's very hard to just switch your brain around like that.  I try to focus on one topic which means remembering all sorts of references and details about it.  And now I need to switch to an entirely different research topic which means I need to get all into it and re-familiarize myself with all of those references as opposed to the ones that are currently in my head.

So basically today I am not being productive at all and although I'm at my industrial partner's office I'm having a self imposed break in order to give my brain a chance to prepare for the next big task.  To be fair, I will end up with a week more than what I thought I had at this rate anyway, and while I believe that I will absolutely need that entire week, I'm still a little bit ahead of the game, so I think it's okay to take a day off.  

That's what the hare thought too, huh?  Whatever.

Life is otherwise not all that interesting.  I had a first meeting date with a guy off a dating website.  I wasn't sure about him.  Too many differences I think.  Maybe I'm just not in the right sort of place to be dating.  It does seem to come in cycles.  I'm in a very down cycle about the whole thing again.  It's better to not push myself in which case.  I just have too much stuff going on that I have very little patience for things that aren't right or aren't making me happy.

Alternately, I have loads of patience and squeezed in time for people that do make me happy, seeing as how social activities and friendships are probably the only thing that gets me through these fucking tedious days.  Oh and next week, we can also say that chocolate will be helping as well, seeing as it's the chocolate unwrapped thing I went to last year where you could eat your weight in chocolate for all under a tenner.  Good deal.  See, as long as I have things to look forward to, I can handle this.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

26 September 2011

Am I Halfway Yet?

I don't really understand this new blogger format and it's been fucking with my writing and posts.  This type looks too small, but the next size looks too big.  It also keeps putting super sized breaks between lines which is annoying as fuck.  Jesus.  Between blogger and facebook some bunch of engineering idiots need to just leave the shit alone and go do something better with their time.  Like discovering new no carbon energy sources or something.  Maybe what I should do is write everything first and then change the type second.  Anyway, this is all besides the point.

Life has been very busy lately.  Far businer than it has any business being.  It's mostly all good stuff, but it's ridiculous.  I wrote about going camping.  I wrote about September 11th.  So now it's the 26th.  Since my last post I have been to Italy to present a paper at a conference, I have been to Oxford to present a poster at a conference.  I have been back and forth to Cambridge on a single day to meet with three new students that I am Director of Studies for.  I have had my friend S from Africa visiting for a week so have been going out for some very social dinners.  I had another colleague from Cambridge stay over.  I met up with an ex colleague from Baltimore for dinner.  I had two more research interviews which involved my traveling around London.  I think that might be everything.  It probably isn't.

I've been very stressed but managing it reasonably well.  I still have a lot to do however.  This is why I wonder at what point I am in this work-load continuum.  I am chairing a meeting tomorrow at which I am also making a short presentation about my work.  I need to write a first draft of another conference paper hopefully by the end of this week.  I need to follow up with my research interviews that I have not yet had yet and I need to follow up with the ones I just had and said I would follow up with.  I need to chase my industrial partner for their feedback on the latest 'Think Piece'.  I need to chase my fellow PhD A for his contributions to the second research paper so I can do my part of that as well.  There is other stuff to do as well like figure out where the hell I misplaced my ticket and fine receipt for not having my student card on me on the train to Gatwick, write some new blog posts for the other blog which are now stacking up, and also do my taxes for last year.  I should do this one in particular- they owe me money back.

I think I am managing all of this alright because a lot of it is fun mixed up with all the shit I 'have' to do and is therefore less fun.  I am enjoying seeing people and going out and doing things.  But it is tiring.  I figure my current level of effort and energy is going to be required through about mid November.  At which point I'll have about two weeks of rest before I go to the States.  Fucking hell.

Still, I'm not really complaining.  It is mostly good stuff.  There is some petty bullshit going on- particularly surrounding my supervisor.  But this seems to be impacting me slightly less personally at the moment so I'm trying to keep it all that way.

I suppose the only other thing that I need to try and do is to keep on getting out there on the dating scene.  I had one date as well in the past couple of weeks, but nothing came of it.  No biggie.  Now, back to work!

11 September 2011

Grief

I feel uneasy about memorials.  In particular I feel uneasy when people are swept up with grief that is not their own. When they seem to almost prey on and amplify the true grief of others.  Does it help?  I think sometimes I find it vulgar.  But grief does need to be expressed and shared.  I guess I just think it's important to try and remember your place in it.  Even within overwhelming grief, you still have a place.  It helps to ground you.  Give you strength.  Helps you bear it.

Significantly to me however, if you don't belong in the center of it, you really just shouldn't be there.  I don't belong in the center of any grief or memorials about 9/11.  It was a horrible day which turned into a terrible week which led to a disastrous war and helped to continue to divide a country that was already divided, even when everyone spoke of unity. 

I was far away from anything significant on the day itself.  I was in St. Louis.  I remember waking up to my radio alarm.  I remember distinctly that Molly Ivins had a piece on NPR which was hilarious and poked fun and George W.  I remember thinking that I was going to have to find it online to play for people later.

It wasn't a great day for me to start out with.  I had a flight scheduled for that afternoon.  My design studio was going to fly to London to look at some projects and have various lectures and things.  I was feeling very nervous about the flight- like I always do.  It had been many years since I had done such a long flight.  I had already been to the doctors and gotten sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication.  I was just in the process of having my phobia properly diagnosed and the symptoms treated.  It wasn't a good day for me.

I remember I got a phone call.  It was probably around 8 my time, 9 east coast time.  It was my friend JF.  It was unusual for him to be calling me.  He practically begged me not to turn on the news that day.  I understood his concern instantly as most of my friends are aware of my phobia.  "There's been a plane crash."  I said to him, it wasn't really a question because I knew there was no other reason for the warning on that day.  He admitted there was.  I told him there was no way I would be able not to look at the news.  He told me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Towers.  I didn't understand.  I told him I had to go, I turned on the news.

I hitting the first tower.  How it came at it with speed and seemed to just be absorbed by the building.  First there was a plane, and then there just wasn't.  It didn't seem possible.  And somehow the building was still standing.  No one knew what was going on.  I can't remember if a second plane hit the second tower before I left to go to class.  See, I had a 9am class to get to.  It didn't seem real.  My mom lives in Brooklyn but she works from home.  I figured she was fine.  I went to school.

I got to class.  Most people just rolled out of bed and dragged themselves to class.  Not morning people, most people had not looked at any news.  Cell phones were still 'special' and not as commonly used as they are now.  I know I didn't have one.  Anyway, the phone lines went all funny that day.  It was hard to reach people.  I remember going to class in a daze.  To be honest, I was mostly thinking about my flight later.  About the rising panic I felt.  I got to class and asked some people if they had seen the news.  No one had.  Maybe someone said they thought they heard something.  The professor came.  We had class.

By the time we got out of class the world had changed.  No one thought to stop the class.  No one knew anything until we left the classroom.  The halls were in chaos.  The Associate Dean was standing in the central hall at the crossroads of the entrances to the building and trying to tell people that classes were cancelled, that counseling and assistance were available.  That more information would be available as it was known.  I bypassed this madness and made my way to my friend who was the Associate Dean's PA.  At this point, I was about to have a phobic breakdown about my flight.  I didn't see how it was possible that I could get on a flight later.  I was verging on hysterical.  I heard something about planes crashing in DC- into the Pentagon.  I thought I was going to lose it completely.  I found S.  I was crying.  I was terrified.  She assured me that there was no way our flight was leaving later.  She said all flights were grounded.  She updated me as to what had happened.  Had the towers fallen by then?  There was a television set up.  All of the news stations just kept cycling through the only images they had.  I stayed there with her for a while.  At some point I realized I had to call my parents.  Classes were cancelled.  Flights were cancelled.  I didn't know what to do.  I think I went home.

I managed to call my mother.  She was fine and at home but frightened and manic.  Her type of panic is the kind I don't like.  She takes it all in.  She makes it about her.  I couldn't keep talking to her because it was going to make me angry.  I was happy that she was safe.  I think I called my dad.  Or maybe he called me.  He was also fine.  He doesn't live far from the Pentagon at all.  He heard the plane and possibly the explosion.  He said you could tell something was wrong.  It was too loud, it was too low.  But he was safe.

Like I said, phone lines went funny.  It was hard to get in touch with people.  No one knew what to do.  I think I was at home.  I don't even remember.  Just watching the news.  Waiting for scraps of any new information.  Horrified by all the new images that would come out in a steady trickle.  Feeling impotent and useless, not knowing at all what to do with the scale of the horror presented to me, but knowing that I was safe.  Although at that time, no one was sure that they were safe.  You had no clue if something else big was about to happen.

We all know what happened.  Three weeks later I did fly to London.  That was weird.  But by then everything had changed.  We had learned what had happened.  We were learning how to move on.  Of course being from NYC, I was worried that I might know someone.  Many people I know have stories that are far more graphic and frightening.  But my personal link to the tragedy was not one that I expected.  It turns out that the person I knew who died in the towers was not someone I knew from NY but rather someone I knew from the University of Virginia.  Douglas Ketcham  I don't remember how I found out that he had been a victim of the attacks.  Probably from E.  And then I felt bad because Doug and I had never been close.  I knew him but I didn't.  Part of me wished that I had somehow done more to be a better friend, knowing what would befall him later.  But you can't change the past.

But it's weird.  I remember Doug and Matt joining my portal at Monroe Hill (a residential college we all lived in).  Doug and Matt were a funny pair.  They were friends from before.  Both deeply religious.  I can't say I understood them all that well.  They both ended up pledging at my service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega.  So Doug was my brother.  We must have worked side by side on many a Saturday morning.  We would have attended many meetings together on Wednesday nights and clasped hands and sang of brotherhood.  I remember that they use to play card games down in his and Matt's rooms.  I was down there a few times.  Not many.  The truth is, I didn't know him well.  We never bonded.  I interacted with him probably on a daily basis for one year- or was it two?  But all he ever was to me was an acquaintance, not really a friend.

But he was real and there and I know that he had very good friends amongst my friends.  He was a living breathing person with his whole life ahead of him.  And then he got lost in a national tragedy, with so many others.

So ten years have passed and life moves on.  I've been to visit the WTC site.  It looks so small in some ways.  It's hard to remember the buildings that were once there- how did their enormity fit in such a small space?  I remember eating at Windows on the World with my mother and my aunt.  I remember looking down on the city from the restaurant.  That helicopters flew beneath us.  It reminds me that my aunt died before 9/11 ever happened.  That tragedy- personal tragedy- happens every day in every way to many people.  That the grief of a nation is just the same as the grief of a mother or sister or a niece.  It doesn't negate personal grief or loss.  I don't know how those people feel whose grief has been 'taken' by a nation.  Do they resent it?  Do they struggle to move on?  It's hard enough to move on under normal circumstances.  In a very Jewish way, my grief is much more for those who are left behind.  For those whose lives have been irreversibly altered.  Who have not been able to move forward from this moment.

I am glad I am not in America today.  I would struggle with the overwhelming packaged grief that will be foisted on every person in the country.  But I am sad that I am not in America today.  Because I am an American and my countries mourning, is also my own.  So I will mourn in my own private way.  It's impossible to ever forget such a day or such a thing.  And that is just for me- someone who was far away, and who was barely touched personally.  It's still terrible.  Senseless.  Horrifying.  I don't need video replay to remind me.  I don't need all the moments of silence or the names being read out.  How can anyone possibly forget such a thing?  But I do think it's important to remember who your grief is for.  And your place in it.

Or at any rate, that's my way of dealing with it.

29 August 2011

Oops There Goes Gravity

So I'm back from my holiday. What a glorious holiday it was. Who knew that the North Norfolk coast was that fucking beautiful? I mean seriously? Miles of sandy beaches. Shallow and cool but not freezing water. Seals. Seafood. Charming vernacular architecture. Beautiful stately homes. The biggest hat shop I think I've ever seen.

That photo is from my first day. R and I cycled from our campsite to the beach. This is what we found. It was about a 5 mile cycle. Not too difficult, but enough to make you feel like you worked for it. The following day I did an off-road cycle to a different part of the beach with H and her horse. That was more challenging, but mostly because I was proper off roading, and being followed by a horse.

The weather was mostly good the entire time. Only on the last couple of days did we get rain. Luckily there was still plenty to do- like eat at Cookie's crab shack and go visit Sandringham and visit the national lavender collection. This is a part of the country I would happily go back and visit. In fact, I'd work to get my drivers license just so I could go on my own and not be reliant on anyone else. Really wonderful.

Of course now I'm back. And in Cambridge. I had about 24 hours at home before I had to get all my things in order and head out the door. It's not so bad now that I'm here, but I wasn't thrilled to spend so little time at home. Luckily I think I managed to do most of my laundry. I have a huge list of things that must be accomplished this week. I have vaguely managed to accomplish one big one today- one that I was supposed to do before I left and before all the shit with A kicked off. The meeting surrounding that bullshit is tomorrow morning at 10am. This means I need to send an email out in the hopes that I can pass off one of the other things I absolutely must take care of tomorrow. Unfortunately it involves a poster that is currently located at my industrial partner's office in London and somehow getting it in the post to Oxford. If I can't get someone there to help me, it means I'll have to pay to reprint it here and find a place to send it from. I really hope I can pass this off to someone in London. But tricky as I'll be in meetings all morning so how can I know if it's being done or not? Ugh.

I am incredibly cranky about (school)work stuff at the moment. I'm particularly annoyed at my supervisor but recognize that I can't really go off on one to her as she needs to continue to be my supervisor into the future but at this point I am really disappointed in her. I think she has overly slacked on some of her responsibilities and I'm just beyond done with being asked to pick any of them up. We'll see how tomorrow goes. Wish I had a tranquilizer of some sort I could take in advance. I think I'm going to be so tightly wound that any little thing will make me snap. Not a good position to be in.

In the meantime the only other bad thing that happened is that while I was away my email box filled up so I have no idea what was sent to me that I missed. And I am missing some very important things. So I've sent some chasing emails after some of that, but it's frustrating. Who the hell has email limits these days anyway? Especially for email you pay for. Ridiculous. I have bigger storage with my free email, it's just a massive pain to change everything over at this point- I've had the same primary email address for well over 15 years now.

I feel like my brain is working in overtime. I've been concentrating very well today in general which means I'm not concentrating now at all. A million different thoughts all flying past at a mile a minute.

Have I mentioned the new Hackney Picturehouse opening up? I am so excited to have a 4 screen cinema which is basically going to be less than a 10 minute walk from my house. I signed up to become a founding member which got me some free tickets and discounts on tickets and food for the first 15 months. Supposed to be opening in just a few months- I can see that I'll be making a lot fewer trips to Islington. As long as they take the orange Wednesday discount. T and I have our every other week date of course!

Right. Enough rambling. I need to whiz out an email and then get to a grocery store. Although I had an all you could eat dim sum lunch for twelve quid that was awesome. I really can't envision dinner at this moment and it's already 5pm.

19 August 2011

Chain of Command

Today has not been a good day. My birthday on Tuesday, was fabulous. Really, it might have been the best birthday I ever had. I had over 20 people come and celebrate with me. I felt loved and special and happy. This week has also been pretty good. My cousin was visiting me from Chicago. He's 18 and just about to start college. We went around doing tourist type things and got to know each other better as adults. I also let him in on a few family secrets. Not on purpose- it just didn't occur to me that he didn't know these things. Oops. But it was lovely. Lovely and fun.

Today however, has been awful. I got into a heated debate with A, the other PhD student. Occasionally he and I end up in these arguments that are really awful. We haven't had one for a while. It may have even been better that it was by email instead of in person. In person these things have had the tendency to drag on for hours of circuitous repetition. Email was more sharp, but also more to the point. The last time we had one of these arguments I came to the conclusion that the only reason we have them is because we are trying to decide something that is not our job to decide. This time was no different.

See, A and I are the only people working with our industrial partner under AC. AC is the Research Manager. That is her job. She took over this job from the previous research manager who didn't do all that good a job at building a dialogue with the client. He did an excellent job on the research however. AC has been very much the opposite. She's spent all her energy networking but really is not very involved in the actual research. The project really needs someone who is more balanced.

So today the argument fell into the pattern of all the past arguments. A and I did not agree. He tries to convince me he's right, I try to convince him I'm right. And then... the argument just grows circular. We both tend to dig in. There isn't going to be a resolution when you really don't agree with the other person. And, although I think that I'm right, I can see that in the wacky world of research and academia, we could both be right, it really just depends on the research direction. And, critically, on the Research Managers decision. Which we never have. Because AC is never around or available and even when she is, she's very much 'hand's off' the research. And in times like these, it is particularly unhelpful.

So today has been a shitty day. I got angry and said some snippy things. I didn't use profanity but I was aggressive. I also note that if I was a guy, it wouldn't be nearly so heinous to be aggressive, but because I'm a woman- oh no. Can't do that. Aggressive just means bitchy. So I'm doubly angry. Angry about the whole argument, and angry that I'm probably going to come out looking bad. Fuck it. I was never meant to be a politician. I do know that this level of tact is beyond me. I just get too angry, too frustrated, and too wound up. I'm not interested in sitting back while someone continues to attack me. I'm perfectly fine standing up for myself, even though I realize this often backfires in outward appearance.

So now I'm just incredibly stressed. This argument means that work on the research paper that is due in early November has ground to a halt. I can't possibly even think about working on it until mid October. It's unclear if A is going to work on it any more at all. This will now necessitate further meetings with the entire team in order to talk about what we are going to do. Part of this will require us to bring AC up to speed- if she can even be bothered to get that involved, because we will be unable to make a decision without her. All of this takes time I don't fucking have right now. I'm stressed enough as it is.

I'm about to go on holiday tomorrow for a week. I can barely stand the thought- because I know that things will be going on this week and I need to be available. And I am not going to be available. I've checked with H that I can use her phone in order to check my email once a day. It was that or go buy an internet dongle and bring my computer with me. I'd like to avoid that. I'd like a week without my computer. But I have so much work to do.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and do some of it. The stuff that I intended to do today except that I ended up spending hours arguing with A over email instead. I thought I was getting on top of everything I needed to do and now I feel very much behind. So fucking stressed. I really hope I can relax at least a little bit next week. I really need it.

14 August 2011

Foursome?

Recently, I had an opportunity to see the other couple. They have been married now about two years, and are about a month away from having a baby. We haven't messed around for a while. Let me think. Last time we messed around they were just at 8 weeks pregnant, and I really only messed around with him. I remember this because I was over there and I asked if they were pregnant and they said 'no' and then a couple days later they called to tell me they were, in fact, pregnant but didn't want to say until after the scan.

At any rate, I saw them recently. For the baby shower. Which is one month before their due date. I feel somewhat guilty about this because it happens to be the same weekend I broke up with Mr English. I fear this makes me a bad person, but then, there are any number of things wrong with how it all played out. For starters, I never ever told Mr English about my more colorful past- or rather, I alluded to some of it and he never asked. So it wasn't something I talked to him about. Had I not been on the verge of splitting with him, I would never have done what I did. I don't think. No, I wouldn't have. I think the fact that I stuck around, that what happened, happened, was symptomatic of what I already knew. And I think I would not have done it unless I was absolutely going to end things with him immediately. But I feel the need to say up front that it doesn't make me feel overly splendid about myself. Anyway. That's not the part I want to focus on.

So I hung around after the baby shower. We talked about life and things in general. I talked with them about Mr English and how I felt about it. And about relationships in general and how I didn't really want casual messing about any more. So I suppose it's only funny how I ended up in bed with them. It all started as we were talking about the pregnancy and about perineal massage. She is a fairly petite girl and at 8 months is already huge, only expecting to get huger. And she's afraid, I think, as any sane woman would be, of the experience of giving birth. And of tearing. So this perineal massage is supposed to help prepare your delicate areas for the stretching they are about to undergo. We were discussing this and then they asked if I wanted to watch/help and I, fascinated, agreed.

I have to admit to something of a pregnancy fetish. I mean, not a fetish per se because I don't really find myself overly attracted to women, and not pregnant women. But I am fascinated by pregnancy. Particularly in humans. Maybe because it's something I've not experienced, and may never experience. I don't know why- it just grabs my attention completely and I'm completely intrigued by how it all 'fits in there' and works. And I'm particularly intrigued about how a woman's body changes to accommodate this intrusion. So I was very interested to see how her body had changed during the pregnancy- how her shape and posture changed to make room for this bump.

In preparation for the perineal massage, we watched the video above, but then we were looking at other videos and found one of a hippie lady talking about it as a sexual experience. I asked them if they'd tried the hippie approach and they said no. Then we cleaned up and got down to business. From behind it's almost impossible to see that she is pregnant. They showed me the massage technique and let me have a go. While I had a go, he went about seeing if he could get her off at the same time. And he did, twice.

Then everyone shifted around. Did they have sex for a while as she and I kissed and she played with my breasts? Sounds right. And I know we ended up in a position where he was fucking her and getting me off, and she and I were kissing. It was all very well orchestrated actually. So I had sex. With a pregnant couple who were not just a little bit pregnant but very pregnant. And it was cool and fun and fascinating.

I still don't really think in general that it's what I want to be doing however. I want to find someone just for me- someone I can talk to about my past and my openness about things. And yet I don't want an open relationship interestingly enough. Not really. Fuck. I guess I'm just really complex and it's time like this that I'm not at all confused why I haven't been able to find the right person.

It's not that I think there's anything wrong with me, or what I've gotten up to. But how on earth am I going to find someone who is cool enough to be comfortable with it all? I know my lifestyle choices can hardly be considered mainstream. Dammit.

As a happy side note to this however, I also want to say that I have the greatest respect for the other couple. That they are a good example to me of people who don't see their sexuality as 'a phase'. That they embrace and are comfortable with who they are- at the different stages of their lives that they are undertaking together. They are sexually intimate and compatible, and they have excellent communication. They are, in fact, extremely well suited for each other and a truly lovely and loving couple. I suppose as a contrast to my fear above, they are a good example, that these things are indeed possible. So there.

07 August 2011

Stressed and Sad

I just got off the phone with Mr English. I broke up with him. I feel awful about it. I mean, really awful about it. I'm crying and everything. I'm not really sure why I'm crying- maybe just the built up tension in preparing myself to have the conversation and then finally having it. Or perhaps a true sense of loss for what almost was but wasn't.

It wasn't an easy conversation to initiate. We fell into an easy pattern of just regular chatting which was nice and comforting and pleasant. And so it fell on me to bring it up. Somehow I managed. Somehow I got out what I needed to say. And he wasn't surprised or even in disagreement. It's hard when you really do honestly like someone but you know they just aren't going to be the right ones for each other.

Although part of me feels like this is some degree of progress. Not to be having drawn out horrible and ugly break ups with people where you act like irrational emotional idiots, but to have mature adult and difficult conversations about where you are and what you want in life and not to place blame on anyone or anything. I home that Mr English and I can be friends. We'll see. I do honestly hope that he finds the right person for him to make him happy. And I don't have any ill will towards him whatsoever. This has to be some degree of progress in the relationship continuum. Doesn't it?

In the meantime I'm incredibly stressed about work. Deadlines. Things that need doing. I don't feel like writing it all down here as I've verbally dumped it on more than one person at this point. Suffice to say I'm going to have a very full, busy, and challenging 2 months. It will be filled with highs and lows- with thrills and drudgery. It's going to test me. I think I am not going to be the most pleasant person to be around. I need to get through it. Take what enjoyment I can from the good things, and do as best as I can for the tasks and deadlines.

It's possible that my already stressed state enabled me to add to my unhappiness. That does happen with me- when things are down and bad, I somehow manage to make them worse. Or even, I want to make them worse. I want things to just be the worse they can be and be over with it all.

But this has been weighing on my mind. It wasn't spontaneous. It wasn't unconsidered. It was absolutely the right thing to do, but I still just feel like complete shit. I know this feeling will pass. I honestly for the life of me cannot work out exactly why I feel so completely awful about it but I really do. Some sort of self blame thing going on or other self abuse. Somehow feeling that something is my fault although I would not be able to tell you what I think is my fault, or what is wrong. Just that feelings have been hurt and that is a bad thing. And if a bad thing has happened, there must be someone to blame. I feel like a bad person, even though I know I'm not. And I know that both of us aren't even that hurt.

Or rather, the truth is hurtful, but we both completely accept that it's the truth. We want different things and we aren't right for each other. We enjoy each others company a lot, but that's not enough to make a future together, which is what we both want with a partner, so it doesn't make sense to take up all this time with something we know will not work out. That isn't bad. But I suppose it is sad. It's not like you start down these paths wanting these sorts of outcomes. You hope for the best of course, and what you get you simply have to deal with.

I have other things to talk about that are not appropriate for this post. Right now I just need to be sad. Other stories and anecdotes will have to be for another time.

01 August 2011

Life Shape

In between all of my mad rushing around and doing things, I've had time to sit around and ponder my existence. Like I do. I think at the moment this has been particularly brought about by my assessment of why me and Mr English are not going to work out. It brings me back to a place that I spent most of my life, primarily trying to understand what my role in the outcome is. Or, to use the old terminology, how is this my fault?

Now, I'm not exactly in the same place. At least not in the sense that I am looking to assign blame in a critical or judgmental fashion. I don't think that I'm defective, or ugly, or not thin enough or not anything enough. In fact now, I sort of think the opposite. My life, at almost 37 (birthday post in just a few weeks time!) is very developed and complete. I have explored and developed many facets of myself. In general I like who I am (always wishing for thinner and prettier of course, but at least not brow beating myself over it). But now I see that it is the very fact that I have matured and developed that may in fact, keep me from finding the right partner.

My life is complicated at the moment. I spend half of it in London, half of it in Cambridge, and often I screw up the schedule because something pressing must be accommodated. I have people to see and places to go. I don't have a car, and at the moment being a student again, I'm also a bit tight on cash. I manage my life well, in that, I get to the places I need to go, I see the people I need and want to see. But there isn't too much flexibility in there for adding extra. I need a partner who can, at least at the moment, conform to my life and my schedule.

But it's even more than that. When thinking about the two main stumbling blocks between me and Mr English- the country/city divide and the living-in-other-parts-of-the-world problem. I see that it's not just Mr English who might struggle with these things. Most people can't up and leave their job to go live in another city for a year. I am hoping that is exactly what I will get the chance to do after the PhD is complete, but how on earth does that fit with someone else's life plan?

And after a week in the countryside I am more determined than ever that I never, ever want to live anyplace other than in a city. Even when I have children. I want to have all the food and culture and playgrounds and museums and things on my doorstep. I do not want to be a slave to cars and gardens.
I hate it. I mean, I really hate it.

Even when it comes to sexuality I see a problem with me and future mates. Most of my 30's has been dedicated to coming to grips with me as a sexual person. This has meant exploring some of my desires, particularly my bdsm related desires. It is not fulfilling to be with someone who doesn't even want to talk or learn or explore it. Now I'm not even saying that someone needs to be as fully versed as I am, or even that they need to be as interested as I am, but I'd really prefer if they were at least GGG as coined by Dan Savage. So that we can at least find a way for us both to be fulfilled. I think I'm pretty GGG actually when it comes to most things, but I don't want to be with someone who doesn't even want to know what interests me or turns me on, let alone not be willing to at least explore a little bit of it to make me happy!

So now I just feel old and curmudgeonly. It's not that I don't like myself or think I have great qualities, I just think that the likelihood of my finding anyone who can put up with it on a permanent basis seems less and less and less. Sort of an inverse paradox about finally finding myself, but then that being the main reason I can't find anyone else. That's a little bit ridiculous and also counter to that lovely adage that no one will love you until you learn to love yourself. It's taken me almost 37 years and I think I'm really no closer than I was before, and if anything, I'm worse off (in respect to finding that other person obviously, not in respect to how I feel about myself which has been a tremendous improvement). Ridiculous.

27 July 2011

When You Know You Know

So I thought that Mr English was coming around tonight and we'd go get some dinner and fool around before he went home. Except I haven't heard from him. In fact I haven't heard from him at all since he left here on Sunday. I just sent him a text to see if I was mistaken- maybe he thought we were meeting tomorrow. But I know we said Wednesday. So it's Wednesday and he's not here and he's being all quiet.

I'm annoyed and this is why I know that things are not right between us. Actually I suppose there are many indications. Lets start with the fact that we haven't communicated at all since he left here. That's not really good is it? I mean, when you're dating someone, especially early on, should you not want to talk to them and be in touch with them? It's not that I had anything pressing to say to him that I didn't. I just had nothing to say to him so I didn't. And I sort of assume that's the same in reverse. Actually I don't feel good or bad about this, it's more just fact. It doesn't upset me that I haven't had anything to say to him, or him me, but objectively, I think it's not a promising sign.

And ultimately I'm still plagued by the thinking that we aren't long term lifestyle compatible. He wants a quiet country life and I want an urban one. He would be happy to stay in the Cambridge area forever, and I want to live in other countries again and may want to live in the States again at some point. He likes outdoor activities like serious hiking and I just don't. When he was here on Sunday I asked him why he hadn't dated one of his flatmates- a good friend of his who goes on these epic hiking trips and seems to share many lifestyle patterns. He said they did have a period of mad shagging but ultimately she didn't want kids so now they're just friends. So I do want kids and would love to be in a settled relationship, but all the rest of our stuff doesn't match up. It's like what would be best for him is my best qualities and her best qualities combined, but maybe neither one of us is quite right.

And of course I'm deflecting from my own reflection by thinking of him. What he wants. What would be best for him. I'm sort of avoiding being direct about myself. But it's sort of the same. I am intrigued that I have met a guy who really is ready to settle and commit but I can also see that it's not quite right. I want to live in a city. My career may mean that I move around until I'm really ready to settle. I don't want to be dependent on a car. I don't want to have a garden (at least, not a very big one). I can also see that if I was madly in love with someone, I would start to give up these things. I know I would. For someone I was head over heels for I would let myself and my desires start to dissolve. Not that it's a good thing- but it also shows me that while I very much like Mr English, I know I'm not in love with him. And I don't think he's in love with me. It's been over 4 months now really, if it were going to happen, I think it would have.

So I know. I know that I know. But I feel awful about it. Because in many ways I'm incredibly fond of Mr English. I don't really want this to be the case- that it's 'not right'. Yet it seems so very clear that it's so. I don't know how to have the conversation with him because when I see him we have a good time and it's fun and nice so it seems contrary to just bring up something unpleasant.

I'm sure that this is going to resolve itself. There isn't any reason for me to stress and worry and angst over it. But I do. It's just how I am I guess.

As yet another objective side note, in the whole time I've been working on this post, he's still not texted back. That's very odd, isn't it? Sometimes I think I should avoid relationships all together. They're too much bloody hassle.

26 July 2011

Unnecessary Proof

This week I am house and dog sitting for my supervisor. Her family lives in a listed cottage on the outskirts of Fulbourn by Cambridge. I arrived Friday afternoon and it is only Tuesday. I'm here until Sunday. So far I have learned a lesson I already knew, and have added something new. First, I am not meant to live in the countryside. It's awful. It's boring. It's too quiet. It's car dependent. It's far away. Honestly. I don't understand why anyone would aspire to this lifestyle. It probably doesn't help that I'm not very outdoorsy. So Just sit in this cottage thankfully with Internet and a large plasma screen and leave 3x a day to walk the dog.

That's the other thing I've learned. Maybe I don't ever want to own a dog. What a nuisance. I suppose if you could let your dog out to poop in a yard, then that would be different. And I believe that this family does actually let their dog out to poop in the yard- they don't walk it 3 times a day. But they've asked me to walk it three times a day and oh yes, not to leave it alone for anything more than four hours. I feel trapped.

Even though it's only less than 5 miles from Cambridge the bus takes 40 minutes. I could cycle of course, although that would probably take 30 minutes and then I'd be sweaty and have helmet hair. No, it's better than I just stay out here. Sitting in the house. Peering out the window. Occasionally walking the dog.

Mr English continues to be a diversion, although one I should think about ending. I was in fact thinking about ending it before he came over to visit me here on Sunday. But then we ended up fooling around and it was fun and all thoughts of breaking with him drifted. But I know it's coming close. Although there are certain things we both want- there are important things where we disagree about future goals and desires. Mainly that he thinks this cottage is the ideal place to live and I think it's hell. I don't see how this can be reconciled. I think I would be willing to make huge sacrifices for someone I was madly in love with. But although I am incredibly fond of Mr English, I am not in love with him. And I don't think I'm going to fall in love with him at this rate. This means I am extremely unwilling to consider much compromise in terms of what I want out of my future and life. Primarily this is living in a big city and also that my professional career might mean I get to move around a bit (and actually that sounds appealing to me, so it's not like a hardship in any way). I hate having to split with people though. It makes me feel bad.

I'm submitting an abstract for another conference paper. One that will hopefully motivate me to jump start my own academic research for my PhD. I work better with deadlines, which was sort of a known thing. So this conference sounds perfect. Submit the abstract by the end of the week, and if it's accepted (which I really hope it is) then the full paper will be due in October which gives me from now until then to get my fucking work done. It really wouldn't be an issue at all if there wasn't additional work for my research group vaguely hanging over my head. If that was completely gone, then I'd feel okay. But knowing that's lurking there is unsettling. It's still going to be a hard slog of work to make this deadline, but I figure it's the kick in the ass that I seriously need at this point.

Last, while the rest of the world suffers under a heat wave, I'm sorry to say that it's cold and dreary here in England. This means the one benefit to being out in this cottage- that they have a seasonal above ground pool, is completely useless so far. Figures.

02 July 2011

Knackered Knee and Other Things

Yesterday I did something awful to my knee. I wasn't doing anything special or unusual- I was squatting to look into my oven while I was roasting and baking things. I went to stand up and my knee felt completely wrong and out of joint and bordering on extremely painful. Then it all seemed to click back into place but only with some discomfort. Today it feels weak and stiff at the same time. Almost like it needs to crack or something, but it's not doing it. I had wanted to go to the gym this morning but that might not be a good idea. Maybe I'll see when the pool is open for adult swimming instead, that could be good.

I've had a very busy and stressful week. I spent a lot of it running all over the place and doing things. This is alright in some ways because I enjoy most of the things I run around to do, but it is tiring. Thursday saw me rushing from a meeting in London to Kings Cross to get on a train to Cambridge for a meeting there. As I was up there, I decided to see Mr English which was alright but just one more thing and also I don't sleep as well on his bed. So yesterday when I finally got home, I ended up napping for a few hours. I think lack of sleep the night before and the general business of my week just caught up with me.

It's Saturday now and tomorrow I am up to Cambridge for the week. As usual I don't really want to go. This week it's particularly acute because I was just there. But it doesn't matter how I feel about it because I'm just going to go on and get on with things.

In other news I had my first paper accepted to a conference. This means that I am published. It also means I get a little holiday to Bologna in September. This is exciting. Attending the conference should be fun. Being published is cool. But I need to get on top of finalizing all the details and registration asap. Just something else to add to the list.

My friend S and his boyfriend are leaving the country for a long time in just a few days. I'm trying not to be sad about this. Part of me feels like my friend circle is shrinking and closing in. Or more that my immediate friend circle is doing so- I'm not actually losing these friends, they're just less accessible in a day to day way. I am meeting new people in my life, but it does take time for acquaintances to become friends. I have many acquaintances at the moment, but maybe I feel I'm losing the closeness of good friends. Even the ones remaining seem to have plans to go away. I know that things move on, and I know that I am also happy with many aspects of my life, but it doesn't make me less sad to see these people go.

22 June 2011

Synchronized Swimming

So out of 8 events and over 600 pounds worth of ticket applications, it turns out that I have only got 2 tickets to see the synchronized swimming at the 2012 Olympics. An event that, I might add, has not even sold out and will be available to buy tickets for starting tomorrow. So aside from me picking what is clearly an unpopular event, I really didn't get much. Don't get me wrong- I'm excited to go to an event, and I was always keen on synchronized swimming. It's sort of like cirque du soleil- how can that be bad? On the other hand, it's an event that didn't sell out. So while I got tickets because I clearly picked an unpopular event, I was also sort of guaranteed these tickets. Anything else I applied for that was actually competitive, I didn't get.

Well fine. Whatever. I'll be excited about my one event. I think it's being held at the aquatic center which means it will be at the main Olympic park which is close to my house and that means I'll have an excuse to go experience it. I've never been to an Olympics before, so it's impossible not to be excited about it, even if I wish I could have seen more and think that there was clearly something very wrong with the ticketing process.

I know people who got all the tickets they applied for, and I know people who got no tickets they applied for. I heard some statistic that if you didn't account for the price banding, based on how many people applied and how many tickets were available, everyone should have gotten 3 tickets. So it seems really poor that some people got all the tickets and something like over a million people got no tickets. I can't believe that this was the best possible system or that there wasn't an alternative that would have been more fair.

We'll see what happens over the course of the next year. My guess is these will be the only tickets I have and the only event I go to see. But you never know who has tickets and might be offering one to friends, etc etc. I think I can be happy because I'm going to get to see something- even if it's something no one else seems to have wanted to see. If I hadn't gotten any tickets at all, I think I would have been pretty pissed off.

19 June 2011

The Current Schedule

Today I must pack my bags and head up to Cambridge for the week. This is the new schedule. Like Mr. Miyagi I am week-on, week-off. This is better than the old schedule which was half-week, half-week. With that schedule I felt perpetually lost and it really took it's toll. Instead of feeling as though I were half in London and half in Cambridge I felt as though I were neither in London nor in Cambridge. This new schedule is much better.

And yet it's always awful to leave my home. I like my home. I like London. I like my life here. It's true, there is another life with other people waiting for me just north of here. A life I also enjoy and yet it does not feel as complete as the one here. Probably because of my house and my things. I am on a visitor there, but my base is here.

And I hate leaving it. Every time I have to contemplate packing my panniers and getting on the train I just feel the weight of it dragging my feet down. I haven't done enough this week. I didn't do enough laundry. I didn't run enough errands. I still have food that will go off in the fridge but I can't easily take with me. It's all excuses, I know. This schedule is so much better than before.

Still, today is a travel day and the ennui is already setting in even though I'm supposed to go up early in order to go to a barbecue at my supervisor's house along with a number of other friends up there. It should be good fun, and once I am there I will be happy, it's just all the more running around and not feeling settled. And leaving my life here behind, for the week.

Over the next couple of months it gets a bit messy. I'm house sitting for my supervisor for a week which is the wrong week, ie, a London week. So that throws things out. My cousin is coming to visit during a Cambridge week and so I will need to be in London so that throws things out. Then I'm going camping for a week in August for my birthday during a London week, so that throws things out as well. By September it should settle back into something normal perhaps. Although I'm considering trying to take on some supervisions for the next academic year. I need to discuss this with my supervisor because I don't think she'll agree to it at the moment although it's what I really need to do for my longer term goals. It's just that I've fallen so far behind this year already, I know she'll balk at my taking on extra work.

And if I were to do so, I would also be committing myself to going up to Cambridge once a week during my London weeks just to see students. I could do this, and the extra money from the teaching would certainly cover the extra ticket, but it's all time and extra. I don't know. I need to speak with her about this. I need to get going on my own work so that it seems less of an issue. I don't know if there's any time to balance these things out. I think probably not.

Well, I have two years to go, so I suppose there is always the year after. But I would prefer to start sooner. That is, assuming they even accept me to do it which is not at all a guarantee. I would love to be able to get my schedule under control and be more manageable but it seems like it's just not going to happen. At least the current schedule is ostensibly better than the old schedule. For now.