strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-16 23:23
Entry tags:

Anniversaries

"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 like...my 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 clich├ęd 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:

Twins

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
and
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:

Peaches

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.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-06 11:44
Entry tags:

Your elegant ligaments

I'm reading a book that's just mentioned Philip Gosse, a Victorian naturalist who coined the word aquarium and popularized the interest in and study of animals with books he wrote.

There's a great quote from him here.
Gosse wrote meticulous descriptions of all the creatures he captured in nets and chiseled from rocks. He measured and catalogued polyps and tentacles, fronds, spines and bristles; he noted their diets and watched their behavior. "Stand still, you beauty!" he exclaimed to the prawn, "and don't shoot round and round the jar in that retrograde fashion, when I want to jot down your elegant ligaments!"
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-06 11:38

Winning here

I got a text this morning from a friend saying "Whilst watching a kids channel this morning, an ad came on for Chessington World Of Adventure, which [his four-year-old] decided he would like to go to some day - but only if Holly can come too."

The four-year-old and I have gotten along pretty well the couple of times we've met -- I was delighted for an excuse to sit on the floor with him and make a Lego spaceship -- but to have made such an impression is an unexpected and charming indication that I am winning at life.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-04 22:10
Entry tags:

Always a good sign when you don't recognize the opening day starting pitcher!

"I don't mind the two-run homer so much, of course," I said to Andrew. "But an infield error in the second inning of the...season?! We don't need that!"

Andrew cheerfully agreed with me, but I imagine it's like when he tries to tell me things about Doctor Who.

Only difference is, it's not nearly as difficult for him to find people who know or care what he's on about (as last week proved, when he, James and Stuart sat around in our living room speaking their own little language).

This is a lonely place to be a Twins fan. Still, I'm so delighted to see baseball again, I'll be okay for a while on my own.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-04 20:22
Entry tags:

goddammit, Manchester

"Wow, you sounded really Manc just then," Mary said to me at dinner yesterday after something I'd said (I forget what exactly). And I'm glad she's such a lovely person, because I think that may be the first time anybody's told me that, so it's good to have the news broken to me so gently.

I hate Manchester accents so much. When I first moved here I told Andrew that if I ever started to sound like one I wanted to move to Yorkshire. I have always thought Yorkshire accents are the best (but I like a lot of Scottish ones, too.) Since that's less likely to happen this week than any previous, I'll just have to make sure to watch lots of Twins games to remind myself how I should be talking.

Anyway, my attempting-to-be-humorous response to being told I sounded Manc was to say, "it's because I was being sarcastic. Manc accents are good for sarcasm."

But actually, thinking about it as I was waiting for the bus to work today, I think a reasonable argument could actually be made for this theory. Both because it's so harsh and awful, and because my dislike of it makes it good for saying things that I don't really mean.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-04-03 08:10

House and family

I feel a bit like a new parent home with a baby: every day is so different from any previous. I find it really hard to believe we haven't even been here a week yet.

Yesterday was the day I put the microwave on top of the fridge to reclaim a bit more of the extremely limited counter space in the kitchen (that the fridge and the microwave are not even in the kitchen should give you some idea of the limitations). And the one where I first hung clothes outside to dry (do not buy clothespins from a pound shop; they are too flimsy to be any good for anything), and thus naturally where I had to run outside in the drizzle collecting them again before they got too wet. It's the one where the internet was connected, finally (though the phone still doesn't work). It's the one where Andrew first saw a mouse, and got the stereo working after saying for months he was definitely going to measure up and order a belt to replace the broken one on the turntable.

It was a day not like any other day, and no other day will be like it. Just like Tuesday, and Monday, and Sunday, and Saturday. And this is why they all seem like they've lasted about a year.

I have been working so bloody hard. Not just to pack, and unpack, which has been so much work for me that I have to remind myself that I still need to think about cooking and laundry and doing the dishes and all this normal stuff, too. I have hardly spared a thought for work in a week, which is really bad. I was hoping that'd improve today now that I've got the internet back, but it turns out the new CRM my boss is making us use because he's heard of it (after having asking me to look around and find what's good and then deciding he didn't like it because it was "weird" and open-source and he hadn't heard of it and it didn't automatically do everything he wanted it to, even though he had only the vaguest idea of what he wanted to do) won't even let me log in, so that'll be a fun conversation with my not-as-techie-as-he-thinks-he-is boss tomorrow.

I really want a holiday. I really really want a holiday. And I don't see how I'll get anything longer than a weekend away here and there -- and I've already had a couple of those this year and now might have to wait until BiCon in August.

Now that we're at the new house, too, my parents' visit is looming over me. I can't help but worry what they'll think about everything. Or say. I'm trying to decide if what they'll say will be worse, because it will negatively impact me right away, or if what they'll think is worse because the ramifications of their silent judgment might not come out for years -- like when my mom told me she hated to think of me drying trousers on radiators, years after she'd have last seen that.

When Andrew's family turned up with furniture for us on Sunday, the very first thing his dad said when he walked into the house was "You'll have to replace the carpet!" He kept at it, "You have to get new carpet, Holly," as matter-of-factly as if he was saying "You have to breathe oxygen to stay alive." It really irritated me. I hadn't noticed anything wrong with the carpet, not compared to the squillion things that do need sorting out -- damp, roof, mice, radiators, curtains, shelves, furniture... -- and what the hell kind of way is that to greet someone's new bloody house? Not least because, having owned the house all of a week, it's hardly set up to our liking (as the wallpapper in our bedroom will attest!) and it's not as if we're perfectly happy with everything. I actually had to ask Andrew and James later that day, after everyone else left, whether I was going mad or just being too blind or something and there was really something awful wrong with the carpet. They said it was a bit dingy, but no, there was nothing really wrong with it.

I'm sure I was overreacting because of the immense mental, emotional and physical stress I'd been under (and I ended up with a migraine that day, too, which never helps) but I can still remember how enraged I was at this harping on about the damn carpets. And I'm really worried at this happening one million times while my parents are here. Because at least this house fits the basic idea of what houses are like, for his parents -- it's a perfectly okay mid-terrace two-bedroom house -- but to my parents it will be tiny, and too close to the other houses, and weird, and...a house that I know they'd never put up with. And I worry they'll feel sorry for me because of that, but conversely that they won't be able to keep from pointing out how weird it is and how they couldn't live like this. The fridge is next to the kitchen rather than in the kitchen! There are hardly any plug sockets! The backyard is so tiny! And right next to other people's! And these are just the ones I can anticipate... The ones I can't, like the carpet or like drying clothes on radiators, are always the worst.

It reminded me of something my friend Jon told me the other day, about when he bought his first house and his mother came around and started trying to nitpick things, and he said, "mum, look, I value your opinion but when you're here you're in my home and I will do things my own way." At the time I nodded along politely, but already on our first day here I found myself really feeling it. Lying side by side in our new bed that first night, Andrew and I were chatting about new-house things, and he said I should tell his dad that we're replacing the carpet with laminate which is more expensive so it'll take us a while to get it. I wrinkled up my face and told Andrew I didn't really want to do that -- I wasn't sure it was true, for one thing and for another, I thought this is none of your damn business, do I tell you how to fix up your house? should suffice (albeit in politer words, like "We've got a lot of things to think about sorting out in the new house," something vague that can be repeated, unchanged, until he finally stops talking because that's my only real goal here, to make this stop). I know he means well; I know he thinks that since we've never had a house before we don't know anything, and in many ways that could not be more true. But also: this is not helping, and it can fuck off.

I've been a bit surprised at how adamant my reaction has been, actually. I'm still not feeling happy or excited about this new-house lark, but I am feeling something about it: maybe protective of it, and starting to identify with it, to the extent that unhelpful criticism like that gets my hackles up. And I think buying a house marks a change in parent/adult-child relationships, too; anything that puts us on a more equal footing with them makes their unsolicited advice and opinions, however well-meaning, chafe a little bit more. It must be weird for the parents, to have this person that you started out doing everything for, to ensure their health, survival and comfort, one day turn around and snap at you for your innocent comment about the carpet (or the girlfriend, job, car, choice of college, friends, drinking habits, etc.). It must be weird to go from dictating a small person's life to remembering there are limits to your power and influence eventually.

And of course my parents and I have always been so crap at that parent/adult-child dynamic anyway, that no wonder I'm kinda dreading their visit.

Though if Andrew's dad has anything to say about it, they won't be seeing much of our house anyway! He rang me yesterday and asked what I thought of his new plan, which was no longer to rent a narrowboat in Middlewich (where they live) but to go to Llangollen and rent a narrowboat there for the day. I love Llangollen (which, I kept telling him though it didn't stop him dadsplaining to me at all, I have been to, a couple of times, including on a narrowboat all the way from Middlewich!) but I was aware that he was talking about doing this on the Monday, having already monopolized the weekend my parents first get here, and for some reason he wants to take us/them to the Welsh Mountain Zoo too, and there's this mad London idea of my parents' to fit in somewhere...

I really think Andrew's parents should just take my parents on vacation and leave me out of it, but of course as they'll say a million times they're here to see me. But they're only here for a week, and it sounds like Andrew's dad's trying to fill it with Cheshire and Wales, neither of which I have any problem with, but I simultaneously don't want them to feel cheated out of their time in London...and don't want to spend any more time in London than absolutely necessary, because being a tourist in London seems nothing but miserable and expensive. Their visits here just get more difficult for me and Andrew -- we still speak of Cornwall like it's an evil curse word -- and I'm sure this won't be any exception. Apart from his dad taking over the whole week with his moronic plans, I'm also quite committed to going to London on the Monday because Andrew couldn't get the Monday off, and I see no reason to subject him to the misery of the sightseeing buses and the London Eye -- he hates London at least as much as I do, and if he's there I'll end up having to create more than usual of a buffer between him and the autistic-unfriendly world, as well as having to field a million questions from my parents (past examples including "does that pub you've never been to sell food?" and "why didn't we go to Whitehall and Trafalgar Square when we were in London?" when they have pictures that could only have been taken in those places).

In looking back at what I wrote about my parents' previous visits, I just realized that the one about the naked cyclists (which is a story all my friends seem to love; I'm amazed how many still remember it) contains possibly the most Garrison-Keillor like thing I have ever written:
My dad, as usual, was much quieter. "That's something you won't see in Minnesota," he commented mildly. I didn't want to argue; it'd mean admitting to knowing about things that go on in Minneapolis that they just wouldn't like me to know about.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-03-28 22:13
Entry tags:

Last night in our old flat!

I am looking forward to having my clothes and teabags and chairs and stuff all in one place again.

I'm trying to think what I'll miss. The sounds of the trains, especially at night, and the station announcements through the kitchen windows when I can have them open. Being able to see a bus pulling into the stop as I leave my front door, and getting there in time to catch it. The drums in the parking lot not far from my bedroom window every weekend in the summer, as wedding banquets are held in that Indian restaurant. But not a lot, really. I'm gaining more than I'm losing.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-03-27 10:40
Entry tags:

What ARE birds? We just don't know

Heard some marvelously crazy-sounding birds outside my house this morning.

I wish I knew enough to identify bird calls. I'm the world's worst birdwatcher (as proved when we had to go out and write down the names of all the birds we saw in my tenth grade biology class; I had a lot of conversations with my clueless teacher that went "look, see that one there?" "nope" "there, in that tree!" "nope, sorry" "but how can you not, look, it's right--!?" "nope!") but I'd like to learn what they sound like.

There must be a CD you can get to practice identifying the bird calls of Britain, like the ones I got from the OU to learn other languages, that repeat the noise a couple of times, give you a chance to shout out your guess, and then tell you it was a bluetit or whatever.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-03-26 12:01

Who you callin' miss?

Yesterday we got our first piece of mail to the new house! It's from the solicitor, and when I saw it I did remember her saying something about sending us the final details of everything.

But before I put it down I noticed they're still calling me "Miss." Despite having been corrected on this immediately (and, since it was Andrew doing it, somewhat forcefully). I hadn't noticed since then, it doesn't really matter, but it did disappoint and frustrate me enough that I was surprised by the strength of my reaction.

And it isn't just the usual frustration that I have when people spell my name "Hollie": the can't-be-bothered-to-pay-attention kind. It's that and how stupid titles are in the first place (I'd prefer none, really, but don't put enough time or energy into enforcing this) and how much more stupid it is that mine is supposed to indicate my marital status.

But also, I was surprisingly annoyed at "Miss," because it of course implies that I'm not married, and I didn't like that at all. I guess since I went to such a lot of effort and expense and heartache to get married, I want it acknowledged!

I think this is one of the implications of not changing my name that I don't usually think about. Though if I had changed my name I'd be "Mrs." all the time instead, of course, which is just as stupid and unfair a title but at least wouldn't be inaccurate.
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-03-25 23:43
Entry tags:

And I still got "$" anyway!

I changed my phone's language from English (US) to English (UK) so that the currency key would give me a pound sign instead of a dollar sign, and so it'd suggest more useful words (though I'm a bit bemused that I'm more likely to want Wycombe now than Wyoming...).

But then I noticed that my phone told me I had a "Torch" instead of a "Flashlight," and this made me so sad I switched it back to English (US). It's funny what matters to us, isn't it?
strangecharm: (Default)
2014-03-25 15:17

My hand is tired, my heart aches

Today I have reached some kind of critical mass of petulance, grumpiness and exhaustion with the moving-house process, and have gotten next to nothing done. And the only reason I have done anything is I'm increasingly worried it won't all get packed up in time. Fear is a pretty poor motivator, especially as it also adds to the exhaustion.