strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-22 23:46

Serial killers

Yesterday evening Andrew came down the stairs to where I watching a movie and said, "One not good thing about having a house is that there are lots more dark rooms that are full of serial killers when there's no Holly around."

Guess who's been watching Hannibal again.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-22 14:24

talking too much about talking too much

This is not my problem, but the the advice-column answer is describing me:
And then there are smart women with lots to say who are also very sensitive and weird and analytical and incredibly talkative, who ALSO listen very closely. These women are often labeled "a little too intense." We think way too much, and slice and dice everything under the sun like a Ginsu knife that's been sharpened one too many times and is now capable of cutting a watermelon in half like it's made of crepe paper.

And while it's true that no one REALLY needs a knife that sharp, there we are, the sharpest fucking knives in the motherfucking drawer...Every now and then, we want to bring up tough, tangled, difficult situations and memories and experiences, and we want to slice and dice that shit up and shine a light on this or that and dig deeper and wonder and ponder and maybe even cry some tears over some dusty old loss or some injury or even something bad that happened to someone else.
This is one of the things I hate most about myself. I can't help but connect unconnected things in my head, and from this comes art and creativity and some people, but in me I swear it only leads to tangents and digressions and killing conversations.

I do not have the problem this letter-writer does because I am loved by good listeners, and I have lots of reassurance from them that my bouts of incessant talking about everything in the world, my excessive enthusiasm and empathy and weird random memories, are completely fine.

But I have all those reassurances because I need them. I need them because the first assurances didn't work, because I still keep pre-emptively apologizing for being rambly and weird. It gets really bad when I apologize for the pre-emptive apology (because I'm so conscious of how dumb and annoying they are...even as I'm also conscious that this can set off a vicious circle of apology that could end the world's energy crisis if only we could find a way to harness it).

I don't know why I do this. But I realized today that assuming it's the usual reason for pre-emptive apology -- getting the criticism in myself before anyone else can do it, so I can to some extent control it -- isn't quite sufficient.

That's probably part of why I offer annoying stupid unnecessary apologies for talking, but part of it also is that the person who hates this isn't my partner like it is for the letter-writer. It's me. I hate this about myself. I will listen to and be charmed by and even crave the intensity of anyone I care long as it isn't me. And since I find myself wearying and I'm neurotypical enough that if I'm not careful I expect others to share my thoughts and beliefs based on no evidence whatsoever, I worry that I must be putting people off. And that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy once the apologies start kicking in, because people who continually apologize for their own existence are hard work.

I think I'd have been pretty bad at this talking thing anyway because I was a weird kid who read a lot -- and indiscriminately -- and didn't have anyone to talk to about most of the things the books put in my head, but moving away made it so much worse.

Because now sometimes I have to feel a bit tired and sad when I think that there's nobody around who gets some of the things about me or how I got to be this way, and that the best they can get is my explanations. The closest I get to an exception to that is people like Andrew who got the explanations long enough ago that I don't remember most of them -- and he's met my family, which helps a lot.

(Just deleted a big paragraph here about something unrelated, sparked off by a mere few words of that last sentence. Proof as if I needed it that I really am as prone to that kind of thing as I say I am here.)

And of course Andrew knows a lot of things about me that I haven't had to tell him, because he's known me for ten years. I'm very "tell, don't show" about myself so I have to remember that "showing" is going on anyway, that people will make up their own minds about me without or even despite what I say about myself.

Talking with a couple of friends last week about someone we all know, one of us said, "And her story of herself is..." and eventually acknowledged that she wouldn't like this story (even though it's one that I bet all of my mutual acquaintances with her would agree on, and no it's not any of you so don't worry, and that's not the point anyway) but that there might be similar unflattering stories that people have about us. I had already been wondering what people's story about me would be, and worried that it was that I am mean and abrasive (I have been feeling especially sarcastic lately, and don't know if this is because I'm encountering more douchebaggery as of late or because ive only just reached a basic level of self-awareness).

It's probably that I talk too much.

All right, I'm bored with this, I'm going for a Twix.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-22 10:54

What we have here is a failure to adult

Argh. I know I just finished a four-day weekend full of tea and chatting and watching movies and ignoring chores and work and everything. But I'm so tired and worried I'm getting another sinus infection and it's raining and I'm too sleepy even to read.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-21 19:58
Entry tags:

What's in a name

The cognitive dissonance of hearing him called a different name mostly wore off pretty quickly. Christopher's a nice name, and of course I know plenty of Chrises.

This wasn't even the first time I was visiting the parents of someone dear to me who call their son by a different name than the one I'm used to (which was funny to me because these parents already reminded me a bit of those parents even before this).

The only thing that really threw me was hearing our names paired together, as they occasionally were when his parents were talking to each other. It's just been a while since I heard anybody say "Holly and Chris" in an ordinary sentence. These days it's only my parents who I expect to say that, and always carefully. It's never just about making us toast for breakfast, or whatever other things I heard this weekend.

It was, eventually, kind of a nice thing to hear. Better to have nice associations with collections of noises than bad ones. Still, it never stopped being weird to me, and I'm kind of glad it doesn't happen that often (though I suppose if it did I might not think it weird any more...but there's enough different-people-with-the-same-name in my life already anyway, so for that reason if no other I'm glad he prefers James).
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-21 18:08
Entry tags:


Of course everybody wanted to know what I thought of Martin Freeman's Minnesota accent. But they all talked way too much and too fast for me to think they sounded Minnesotan!

Ironic for a weekend when I was worried I was talking too much. (My brain felt so Full Of Things by the time I went to bed last night I thought I wouldn't be able to sleep.)

He was doing the accent as well as he could've been coached to do. Clearly there were a few things they'd all been told to concentrate on -- and it wasn't the actors' fault how unbelievable most of the dialogue was!

I enjoyed the first episode a lot and can't wait for the next one, and it's been a long time since I said that about anything on TV!
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-19 09:36

Sleepy morning

I think Andrew must have an itch somewhere.

But since he's asleep and his hand is resting on my hip, he's scratching my hip instead.

Very gently. It's sort of cute. I can't help thinking it feels like he's trying to look after me, even though I know it's just coincidence.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-18 22:01

That's also the only 2048 version I can understand, much less be interested in!

"And then there was...that guy..." [ profile] haggis said, snapping her fingers to indicate it was on the tip of her tongue. We were watching a BBC documentary about chemistry.

"Lavoisier?" I said.

"Yes!" she said.

We chattered on about the topic under discussion on the TV -- Joseph Priestley (I'm so glad [ profile] diffrentcolours said he confuses him with J.B. Priestley, too, because I always worry it's just me who does that...) and his "dephlogisticated air" -- for a few seconds.

Until Jim Al-Khalili said, "...Antoine Lavoisier..." on the TV, and [ profile] diffrentcolours said "Yeah, Lavoisier, you guys just said that. You keep saying everything they say, like ten seconds before they do."

I thought that was a very nice compliment.

(Especially after I'd forgotten a few of the stages in how increasingly-heavier elements are made at the cores of stars, thanks to [ profile] diffrentcolours telling me about this awesome version of the 2048 game. Gordy, my college astronomy teacher, would've been most disappointed in me for forgetting about deuterium, and the different isotopes of beryllium.)
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-18 02:36
Entry tags:

This post brought to you by something much more boring than this crypticness makes it sound

Not for the first time, I find myself wishing the world could ever be run as efficiently and effectively as the conspiracy theorists believe it to already be.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-17 14:46

That'll be that protestant work ethic I've heard so much about, then?

I went right from "Phew, I finally finished that work task that's been hanging over my head too long and making me anxious!" to "...I don't have enough work to do, and that makes me anxious."

Not a second's satisfaction or feeling accomplished. Straight to another misery, even though this one is directly opposite the first. My brain really amazes me sometimes.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-17 10:49
Entry tags:

Anniversaries part 2

The other day I think of when I think of James's and my anniversary would be a week after it.

I was not having a good day, to put it mildly.

We were a couple of days into what ended up being The Month Without Internet. And the kitchen sink was blocked despite all the usual means of attacking it.

I was wearing my grubbiest clothes, spattered with bleach, alternating between calling up our phone and internet providers, sure this kafkaesque situation couldn't be as bad as it seemed yet continually discovering it was even worse, and trying to get the u-bend off the sink drain to see if that was where it was blocked.

Nothing was working. All my stress and effort on both fronts was getting me absolutely nowhere. I was not happy.

So when James texted me to ask me how my day was going, I don't remember what I said but it must have sounded pretty miserable. I remember reading the reply from him, "wish I could help" or somesuch while I was sitting on the floor in the kitchen, head tilted back against the wall, having again failed to do more than hurt my hands trying to pry the u-bend loose. "I wish you could too," I said. I wished anybody could. I clearly wasn't good enough on my own.

Eventually he volunteered come over, if I wanted. It was, after all, his day off. My mind boggled at this. Why would anybody want to come in to such a situation like this? I'd have loved to get away from it!

I gratefully accepted his offer. I really wanted to see him. I did fleetingly think that it was a shame I only got one go at "I'm wearing my favorite skirt and am able to carry on a conversation" before he'd see me frazzled, frustrated, fragrant of strong chemicals. But then I thought well hell, I know I can't consistently pretend to be happy and competent and well put-together for any length of time. I'd like things to work out with this guy, but if they're going to, he's going to see me crazed and unlovely sooner or later -- and probably often -- so to hell with it. We'll start that already, trial by fire.

The conceit for us to start chatting was another quote I put in my blog:
frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone—spending the first few weeks chatting in their psychological entryway, with each subsequent conversation like entering a different anteroom, each a little closer to the center of the house—wishing instead that you could start there and work your way out, exchanging your deepest secrets first, before easing into casualness, until you’ve built up enough mystery over the years to ask them where they’re from, and what they do for a living.
I'm so bad at small talk that this really appealed to me. "So, do you want to exchange dark secrets?" James said in a comment, and we started telling each other about ourselves, but this felt like a darker secret to me than any of the silly stories I'd told him so far. I don't like who I am when I'm having a bad day, when I'm self-absorbed and self-pitying. I don't like being seen then. Especially by someone I like and want to like me.

By the end of the day, we were no closer to having internet or being able to use the kitchen sink (or the washing machine, annoyingly, it needing the blocked pipe in order to drain). But I'd taken James to my beloved local pub, delighted that he liked it too, and we went out for dinner before he had to get a train home.

That morning, I had written I really want something good to happen to me today with no real expectation or idea of what it might even be, but I got it anyway. I felt so lucky.

And, far from scaring him away, he's since seen me through much worse, especially recently, being there for me after a work meeting so stressful that I'd had a week of panic attacks and self-harm before it, and of course being immeasurably helpful in moving house, from spotting patches of damp at house-viewings to carrying furniture into our new house to figuring out how to get into the loft, and letting me whine and complain at him as much as I wanted about every stressful, expensive, intimidating or frustrating thing in the house-buying process.

I described our relationship yesterday, only to get a laugh (and it did), as "relentlessly unromantic" but that's not really true. One of the iconic features of our relationship seems to be saying goodbye at train stations in a way that charms passersby (but not train conductors), my favorite still being the woman with a baby on my train from Brighouse who saw me standing in the train doorway kissing James standing on the platform (this handily makes us about the same height!) and turned to her baby and said "your daddy doesn't kiss me like that any more." I told her that I know I am very lucky.

But really, being the kind of people who believe that relationships are based on sarcasm and mutual condescension, and I know I at least have had a challenging year, we've had a lot of pragmatic conversations and a lot of days when neither of us is at our best. And each of us worries when we're the miserable one, like I worried here, but we always reassure the other person that it's fine and they're not as difficult to be around as they think, and then we have naps or drink beer or talk about cricket, or whatever, and it all seems to go very well.

I think this day also started the tradition of us expecting to see each other on Thursdays. The first "date" was on a Thursday just because that was the one day I wasn't working that week, this was a Thursday because, it being James's day off, he could actually offer to see me, and after that we just kind of assumed that if it was Thursday one of us would probably get on a train.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-16 23:23
Entry tags:


"I think it was April 18th," James said to me. "Which will be next Friday. I won't see you Friday, but I will see you Saturday."

I'm not too worried about anniversaries, as previously noted. It's nice to think we've been at this a whole year now, though. Yesterday, after lunch and with nothing good on at the cinema, and not wanting to bother Andrew while he was working from home, we spent the afternoon lying in the grass in a park, soaking up the sunshine. Oh yeah, I remember this, I thought. We used to do this! And now we can again, so it must be a new year.

As we all learned from Spaced, anniversaries are about whatever you mark as important, and while Friday makes sense -- it was a day that ended with the world seeming drastically different than it had at the beginning -- there are two others that stick in my mind.

The first one would've been a year ago yesterday, I see (because it handily involved a timestamped comment). Yesterday I might have been lying next to him in the park, but a year ago yesterday I remember almost as well. I had a long day -- week -- of work ahead of me.

I saw that I had an e-mail just as I was leaving the house that morning, so absentmindedly opened it on my phone in case it was work-related, and saw it was a reply to a rather vague comment I'd left: I'd found a quote from a Terry Pratchett book that seemed to describe my melancholy rather well, and in the first comment James added another good metaphor from Hitch-Hikers about flying being a matter of aiming at the ground and missing because you got distracted, and about failing to get distracted. When I said that I too felt like I'd been hitting the ground from a great height...thats when I got this reply that actually stopped me in my tracks as I was just about to unlock the front door and go to work.

"If you give me a shout, I'll try to catch you," he said.

I didn't stop theatrically, I had no audience. But it was a perfect external expression of my internal state. I had to stop because something in this sentence made me have to rearrange my thoughts about this person. James and I had been chatting in e-mail for a week or two by this point, mostly just about how our days were going or whatever. It was nice and had helped me through some tedious times, but I hadn't ascribed too much meaning to it. But now...what was this? What kind of way is this to talk? Should I be making anything of it at all? Maybe he's just being nice. But, looking back on it now I can realize that it didn't feel like that. And that I didn't want him to be just being nice.

The world looked different already by the time I finally opened the door to go to work.

Later that day I stood in front of a room of people, asking them questions, posed to write their answers on a flipchart next to me, grinning more than the external situation warranted because I was still thinking Someone wants to catch me if I need it. And I'd had no idea until now. I marveled at a world that had such wonders in it.

I was going to talk about the other day from a year ago that I'm thinking of, but it's taken me all day to do this, and the anniversary of that isn't for a few more days, I'll leave it for now.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-15 11:26
Entry tags:

Spot the Minnesotan

Everyone else on this bus has a coat or a jumper on, and I'm in a sleeveless dress and sandals.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-12 22:41

Onion rings

The takeaway Andrew ordered tonight came with onion rings, which he doesn't like, so I ate them.

But I fear all onion rings will be disappointing after the ones I had with my lunch on Thursday in that pub [personal profile] magister took me to in Leeds.

They were made from possibly the biggest onions I'd ever seen ("If Jennie were here, she'd say that's because they were Yorkshire onions," he said), the batter was perfectly crispy and tasty, and they were mere seconds out of the fryer. James said I'd clearly made the right choice in those onion rings (he'd gotten chips) and I told him to have a couple because even though there were only about six onion rings they were more than I could eat. Some of them were as big as my hand!
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-12 10:39

Now I just need to stop being the kind of person who constantly loses earrings...!

I was really excited to get some gorgeous jewellery from [personal profile] purplerabbits today.

I got this freshwater pearl choker

And the earrings on the left and right of this picture

And the ones on the left here

And the ones in the middle here

I am so excited by them all I'm just disappointed I can't wear them all at once.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-11 14:48

People You May Know

Man. The problem with adding Minnesota friends to my Facebook is that then it goes around suggesting that I know people first boyfriend.

I was such a terrible girlfriend for this poor guy. There was nothing wrong with him, but there was so obviously no reason for us to go out except that he hadn't had a girlfriend in four years and I'd never had a boyfriend. It lasted way too long. It's one of only two relationships I've been in that I've been the one to end, and it was scary and difficult but it was one of the first grown-up things I'd done (I soon found out he'd been about to ask me to marry him but that, and the horrible and clichéd way he was thinking of asking, both just reassured me that I'd done the right thing in breaking up with him).

I learned a lot from that relationship, but unfortunately none of it very flattering to this guy I was in it with: I learned to be careful of my tendency to do things to please other people, I learned that "can't complain" isn't the same as "actually happy", I learned how bad I was at being normal and that normalcy wasn't going to be satisfying for me.

He deserves better, but I'm sure he's found that in the intervening ten years.

It's funny though. I'm so used to being around people I haven't known that long, who don't share a lot of experiences with me, and here first thing I see on my morbidly-curious glance at his Facebook page is a picture of his mom, who I still immediately recognized, who started a trend of me being confidently able to say that my boyfriends' parents always seem to really like me, a fact borne out by me going with James to stay at his parents' next weekend.

Sometimes I do miss being around people who know what I was like more than handful of years ago, but why dwell on the stings of the past when the present is so delicious?
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-10 09:44
Entry tags:

Maybe the pinstripes fooled him

It's times like this, when the ticket-checking guy says "thank you, sir" to me when I'm wearing a skirt and a pretty feminine coat, with longish hair and a handbag, that I really feel for the people whose health and happiness is so adversely affected by being misgendered. I really wish there wasn't so much riding on the observational powers of morons.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-10 07:14
Entry tags:


My cousin's wife just had twins.

They're called Isabelle Mavis [Mavis being my grandma's name, which will be very odd for the poor baby as it was odd even when my grandma was given it] and Elizabeth Kate [Kate is their mother's name, so fair enough there, and it might be a name with similar history on her side of the family as Mavis is to my cousin's].

I do hope my cousin and his wife don't mind when everybody immediately calls them Izzy and Lizzy. Because it can't just be me who thought that, right?
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-09 00:04
Entry tags:

Here is my new favorite thing

Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you're tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They'll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren't alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren't alone. Go to sleep.

Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

"The Sciences Sing a Lullabye," by Albert Goldbarth (thanks [personal profile] liv for calling this to my attention!)
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-07 20:53
Entry tags:


In some ways, it must be awful for a family to have to mourn the sudden loss of a young loved one in public. ("What is your reaction to the death of Peaches Geldof?," the BBC asks. Send us your comments." Ugh. That someone has to read all those comments is unimaginable horror to me.)

But in some other ways it might be a comfort, to know that so many feel some small echo of what you do. Otherwise, grief can be so lonely. If a not-famous person dies, the reaction seems unfairly small.

I remember when Chris died, I almost wanted everybody to hurt, because I didn't want it just to be us. I wanted strangers to cry, I wanted a psychic disturbance, I wanted everyone to acknowledge the loss as if they felt it as deeply as I did. My mom resented having to do such prosaic things as eat, as if even metabolism should have stopped bothering her for a respectful interval, and I hated seeing anyone do anything normal; put on hats, drive cars, listen to the radio. So having the internet full of what I was thinking about could have been comforting to me in some strange way, I think.

"So young," people say, and of course it is but also, we are lucky to think this is remarkable: these things happen every day. They happen to strangers, ordinary people, so we just don't know it. Anyway, we can't know. Our minds and hearts couldn't take it, because there are actually quite a lot of these ordinary people, and the effect of this happening to me just once was enough to knock my life off-kilter for years (and, in some ways, forever).

But still I can't help being aware that while it might not always be as commented-upon, it's always just as much a tragedy.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-06 21:30
Entry tags:

I can't imagine what my mom will do without spider solitaire

What a week for my parents. Everything from serious illness in close relatives to feeling like old friendships aren't withstanding the hardships in their friends' lives to having to upgrade their computer to Windows 8 (my mom doesn't like the new printer they had to get, my dad resents Quicken 2014 for not being like Quicken 2005, there's no spider solitaire...).

I just want to give them hugs and fix their computer and be a good daughter.