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


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.