May. 15th, 2017 09:24 pm
j4: (kanji)
A dropped stitch will gather dust.

I am left undone.

Alone I can put out my light,
can lighten my darkness. I must.

No matter how many days I wait
nobody will move this stone.

Mine are the only footprints,
every misstep is my own,

it turns out you never carried me
and now you are gone

I am the light

Over, here

May. 15th, 2017 07:19 pm
j4: (Default)
I think I've successfully imported my LiveJournal here. It's all still in boxes and I don't know if everything survived the move and maybe eventually I'll unpack it and put things where they should be, or maybe I'll just leave it where it is and wonder occasionally why I ever thought any of it mattered.

I didn't plan this move. The writing has been on the wall for some time (by which I don't mean everybody moved to Facebook instead), but I hung on far longer than sensible until the Terms & Conditions suddenly became actually untenable. Sometimes it feels as though everything in my life is merely a clumsy metaphor for something else.

I don't have a Plan for doing something Different with this journal. Life won't wait while I sit around trying to think of a way to reinvent myself.

Is anybody even reading this? Does anybody want a recap of the story so far, or at least the latest significant plot points? Or shall we all just keep on keeping on?
j4: (badgers)
Hello! Does anybody still read this?

I am basically declaring LJ bankruptcy: I haven't read my friends feed for so long that there's just no way I can catch up, so I'm not going to try. If enough people are still around here, though, I might start reading & posting again. I miss conversations that aren't just retweets and soundbites and outrage; I miss social media that isn't centred on advertising, news, or 'news'; I miss you guys, individually and collectively.

If you want a very quick update on the state of the j4: I am typing this from underneath a sleeping 8-week-old. The rest of my life is a mess, but she is the Best Baby. <3
j4: (hair)
So I tried to explain this to someone face-to-face, or at least side-by-side, but there are some things you can only say in the small hours of the morning with your head resting on a shoulder and your hand resting on a glass, and other things you can only write down, or at least write around, and maybe this was the other sort of thing after all. I don't really know how to get there, but here it is: I was pushing my big cargo bike up the short sharp stab of hill that I can't quite get the momentum for, and the sun was warm and the wind was cold, and I was rushing and late already in that way where a minute can't make any difference, and a red kite circled lazily overhead and I watched it until it eddied out of sight, and my heart was wishing and waiting to dance, and my head was full of a thousand things, the problems and the possibilities, and I realised: I love this fearsome cacophony of feeling, this messy tangle of compromise, the delight that trips laughing like children through the forest of spinning plates and the hours of anticipation, the needs and the hands and the faces, the unfinishedness of the poems into which I'm madly written, the songs that make me say this, yes this, just this. My fingers are full of a tangle of threads, woven through my body, leading me into the next moment and the next. Even when I'm standing still, part of me is running through the long grass, leaping into space, and silently shattering like sunlight on the river.
j4: (back)
It's been so long since I've posted anything of substance that I've basically forgotten how to do this. HOW DO I EVEN LIVEJOURNAL. So I'm just going to type and see what comes out, and then post it and then feel awful about it for a while and be avoidant about looking at the comments and oh you know how it goes.

Seriously, though, I feel like I literally don't remember how to write anything longer-form than a tweet. A series of tweets, maybe. "(1/3)". Like trying to make a speech while struggling to keep your head above water, shouting it out in gulps of air. It feels like the internet's all broken and polluted now anyway, no air between things; we didn't used to have a word for "content" when it was all content. Not that I was, of course. I guess in some ways I'm more content now, more settled -- or set -- in my ways, less inclined to stand for certain brands of bullshit. Oh god though listen to me, puffing out hot air like a pompous great wheezing walrus, "I am this, I am that", words, words, and do you see what I did there, and besides. Is any one of us not basically just wandering around in the dark? Maybe running our hands over the outlines of something half-perceived, or maybe just petulantly kicking something and hoping it isn't a wasps' nest?

I had a voice in here somewhere.

Memory goes, but not memories. I can't always remember the name of the thing any more. (It was all there, only the names were not.) Things I thought I had stored in my head turn out to be broken links, digital husks; but the fingertips of past relationships come reaching out of the mist, too too solid (oh, for goodness' sake, stop that, you are not Lord Hamlet (no, stop that, too)), and the old music gets louder, the needle returns to the -- no, don't force it, you can hear it if you just listen.

The bits that make sense are decoupling like a slow-motion explosion. Blow the bloody doors off and see all the people.

The things in my life I want to write about have too much backstory, they're compromised by context, they're anchored to things I can't say. They're shot through with the threads of other people's secrets, and untangling my own loose weave will mean unravelling other people's hidden seams. Everything is tied to someone else; sometimes it feels like every thing in the world is a place where something, a thing I was doing when. The smell of his aftershave, 10 years later, still makes me turn my head. The arms of his jumper around my shoulders. Hooks in my flesh.

Maybe if I stack up enough half-sentences they'll start becoming.
j4: (kanji)
So there's a thing in my brain that I want to write about but it's so huge and many-tentacled that I can't possibly wrestle it out of my head in one go, and I know that if I try to pull it out one limb at a time you'll all say "but that's not a genuine many-tentacled thing" or it'll keep crawling back in faster than I can drag it out. I'm not even sure if it is a many-tentacled thing or if it's actually something more like a mist or a colour that's seeped into my pores. Maybe it's a disease, or a new skin that I'm growing. I can't tell. Maybe it's a hopeless metaphor for a formless malaise.

I also don't know who's reading this any more. I'm terrible at keeping up with reading LJ myself, so I feel I can't really ask other people to read/comment on what I write; and while I sit there chewing my fingernails in that particular dark cave of fail, lots of beautiful friendships melt away. Who's reading this? Who's out there? Have you all gone to Dreamwidth? Should I follow you, or are we all just slowly dispersing into adulthood or beyond?

I don't know where I am. Or rather, I know where I am, but I don't know where anything else is. Either way, it's a bit cloud-tangled and mapless in here. Perhaps if someone shouts or shines a torch I'll be able to figure out where the voice or light is coming from.

It's a wrap

Jul. 3rd, 2014 10:34 pm
j4: (shopping)
I am moving my plastic-free July posts to my shopping blog (first posts there in about a year...) because that seems like a more sensible place for them. I won't delete the versions here, but subsequent plastic-free July posts will be over there instead. I've massively cut the first day's post to take out most of the rambling emo; the second is more or less unchanged, and today's is ALL NEW. Sorry to all those who've already commented on the first two here, no obligation to go and comment again!
j4: (shopping)
Day 2 of plastic-free July involved a trip to the Co-op to buy potatoes for dinner and anything else from the shopping list that I could find in the 3 minutes or so before Img got tired/bored. This was never going to go well, because the Co-op (despite its supposed commitment to the environment) wraps pretty much everything in plastic, to the extent that I'm always slightly surprised to find myself not plastic-covered when I leave. So here's my shop:

Yes, literally everything I bought is plastic-wrapped. :-( But hey, I only said I was going to try this, not succeed.

Yoghurt and cream are, as far as I can tell, basically impossible to buy plastic-free. I bought the biggest pot I could get, i.e. the best yoghurt-to-plastic ratio. (Img particularly asked for the little Peppa Pig yoghurts.)

Potatoes: now this one was annoying. I specifically wanted big potatoes for doing jacket potatoes, and normally I don't need a plastic bag for those: I only buy 3 at a time (one for each of us), they're not squishy or wet or falling-apart-ish, there doesn't seem any reason to pack them. The Co-op had some loose potatoes, but these were the only baking potatoes in the shop. I could have just bought something different, but I was relying on getting these for dinner! (Although in fact in the end we had the quiche which I'd forgotten we still had in, and that came in a cardboard box, so the potatoes were not only unnecessary plastic but the cause of an unnecessary shopping trip. FAIL.)

The fish cakes were super-cheap (67p!) because they're nearly at their best-before date (I'll stash them in the freezer). I buy a lot of stuff that's nearly at the end of its shelf life because a) it's cheap, and b) I feel as though I'm saving it from getting thrown away. This is probably a bit irrational. (The strawberries were also reduced.)

Naan bread always comes plastic-wrapped. Even in our local shop which sells about 20 different varieties of naan, they're all wrapped in plastic so they last longer.

Now for the things I didn't buy. I had a long list of fruit and veg to buy but just couldn't bear to buy it all plastic-wrapped since I didn't need it right then; I'll try to go to the market tomorrow on the way home from work or at lunchtime. I was going to buy some bread but the Co-op only sells plastic-wrapped bread (and most of it is a bit plastic-tasting too, to be honest) so again I decided to wait. They didn't have any Coke in cardboard boxes, or any Shloer (glass bottles and bonus 80s nostalgia!), or in fact any non-alcoholic drinks I could see anywhere in the shop that weren't in plastic bottles or tetrapaks (apart from a few individual cans).

So what are the answers?

  • don't buy any dairy products
  • don't buy naan bread
  • be more organised about planning meals
  • don't give in to pestering (and/or don't take Img to the shops)

I guess nobody said it was going to be easy...
j4: (shopping)
I have a big backlog of things I want to post about, but I'm going to grit my teeth and pretend it's not there so I can get on and post about Plastic-Free July.

Last year I thought "oh yes, that sounds like a good idea, I'll try to do that," and then July caught me a bit by surprise, and on the first day I bought a packet of crisps (having apparently completely forgotten that the PLASTIC BAG counted as plastic) and was so fed up with my inability to remember a) what month it was or b) what things were made of that I gave up. To be honest I think that says more about my sticking power than about the all-pervasiveness of plastic.

This year July still caught me by surprise; I guess I've only had 36 years to figure out what comes after June. However I was working from home today so I was in a slightly better position to avoid accidentally buying plastic-wrapped food; in fact I managed not to buy anything plastic today because I didn't buy anything.

Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't use any plastic... far from it. Since I didn't buy anything, I tried just to keep an eye on everything I used, and make a note of it all here.

Very very long rambling account of all the plastic )

I think the take-home lesson here is "don't buy anything, ever; but even then you will be full of fail in some other way". But that's a rather depressing conclusion.

Also, now I've written all this it's probably too late at night for me to have a bath. My shampoo, of course, is in a plastic bottle. :-/
j4: (fruithat)
Happy new year! And a very belated merry Christmas, since I never posted anything for that either.

I think this is the last day I can legitimately get away with using my fruithat icon, even though ACTUALLY twelfth night is INTERESTINGLY not today but last night and we are already courting BAD LUCK by having taken the decorations down tonight. Anyway. It's 2014! There are a lot of 'review of the year' things going round but I already can't remember anything that happened last year. I spent the last 3 months of it with a hideous cough and the previous 3 months feeling faily about work and before that I have no idea, though I definitely read some books somewhere along the line.

I didn't really make any new year's resolutions this year either, which doesn't mean that I don't feel the need to improve anything in my life, but is more an indication of my current level of confidence in actually achieving anything, viz.: approximately zero. I made vague resolutions to go running more often and to have more fun, but have no idea how to go about achieving the latter and feel too apathetic to do the former (also at the moment it would be more like swimming anyway). In the meantime I guess I will read some more books and try to stop Img falling off anything particularly high.
j4: (badgers)

I have had enough of today and I have had enough of this cough and I am totally devoid of inspiration for anything to blog about so instead in a brief nod to Clovember here's an awkward & badly-lit selfie of me in a badger hat:

If even a badger hat WITH SEQUINS doesn't help then something is definitely Not Right.

ETA: image now resized, sorry about that, blame the iPhone LJ app!


Nov. 11th, 2013 10:34 pm
j4: (dodecahedron)
Today's post is over there, on one of my other blogs, and it's about a silly computer game. Or perhaps it's about my life.
j4: (livejournal)
Go on, indulge me:

[Poll #1942764]

Not intending to fish for compliments, not promising to change what I post in response to popular opinion, just curious as to who's reading and why.
j4: (livejournal)
I've decided to make the last few posts (but not this one obviously) friends-only, because they're largely about Img and nursery and stuff and I suspect I probably should be a bit more circumspect about who reads them (though obviously the NSA is still reading them anyway, and Google is probably projecting them on to the moon as we speak). To be honest I should probably make this whole journal friends-only since I have other public blogs for stuff I actively want to make public (as opposed to stuff I'm not too worried about people seeing). It used to be a point of principle that my LJ was entirely public except for very occasional admin posts about change of address, but I'm not really sure what that principle is any more, and I suspect it doesn't apply when I'm posting about someone who doesn't get a say in it. I also suspect that having points of principle about LJ is like having strong opinions about daguerrotypes or something.

(Is there a way to make only posts after a certain date friends-only? Or only posts with a certain tag? There are a few posts I want to keep public. Maybe I should just put them somewhere else. And then I think oh really who cares, only 12 people read this anyway. 12 people and Google and the NSA.)

It's been fun to watch people unfriending me as I post stuff though (I'm guessing it's not so much the content as "oh I forgot she was on my friends list but now she's started posting again, can't remember who she is anyway"). Ah, the drama llamas of yesteryear. To be honest the friendslist angst all seems pretty trivial now compared with the real feeling that my actual friends (some of whom are also my LJ friends, of course) are slipping further and further away from me in time and place and connectedness and it's not some kind of big drama, it's just that people sort of softly and suddenly vanish away. I am very bad at taking people off 'friends lists' but it's starting to feel like the people-I-sorta-like-but-basically-never-see-or-talk-to are diluting the actual friendships (though this is more of a problem on Facebook where I'm 'friends' with loads of people I haven't seen or significantly thought about for a quarter of a century. Need to do something about that.) Maybe that's silly and maybe it doesn't make any difference and maybe the real problem is that I'm a dreadful correspondent or that the people I want to stay friends with just aren't that into me. Not fishing for compliments here, just musing on the way friendships change and the way everything seems to get stretched thinner as I get older.

So tired.

I me mine

Oct. 24th, 2013 10:38 pm
j4: (toddler)
In the very short time since my last post, Img has started using the first person pronouns a lot more, so I think we're at some kind of tipping point. This morning she padded into our bedroom and told me "I'm a bit grubby" (a safe bet for a toddler, though she didn't seem to be any more so than usual); when I picked her up from nursery she ran to me and said "MY mummy!"; when a dog barked loudly as I was pushing her home in the buggy she said "That noise is waking me up" (ironic given how hard she was resisting going to sleep at the time) — and there have been lots of other examples. We definitely get more "mine" than "me" or "I", but then defining the boundaries of "mine" is a big thing in her life at the moment. (Rule of thumb: if she can see it, it's hers.)

Yesterday we also learned a new word, "argycue", as in:

Img: "Imi and Iris had an argycue."
Me [trying not to laugh]: "Oh dear, what were you arguing about?"
Img: "Smatching."

I like the idea of it being a cross between an argument and a barbecue, I guess where one of the participants gets roasted.
j4: (toddler)
I was going to do a quick general update on the State of the Img, but it's turned into a long update on her talking. (Those of you who follow me on twitter will have heard lots of the things she says already, but this post is as much for my record as anybody else's.) Updates on other aspects of her life may follow if I get round to writing them...

happy talking, talking happy talk )
j4: (orange)
So over the last couple of days I've been thinking about "having it all".

a busy few days, recounted at tedious length )

The thing is... I've pretty much always lived like this. The only difference is that now there's a child in the mix as well. I have always ended up cycling frantically to and from home, work, meetings, pubs, the station, choir rehearsals/concerts, orchestra rehearsals/concerts, whatever. It's always been an endless game of fox/goose/grain with different modes of transport and assorted instruments/laptops/luggage/shoes/clothes/partners. I had to slow down a bit when I was off on maternity leave (I took a long time to get usefully mobile/functional again, I couldn't cycle with Img, and I wasn't going to work), but otherwise basically I've been "trying to have it all" for the last 20 years or so. Even more so when I was going out with Owen and he still lived in London, so we were trying to live together 90 miles apart and go to every gig/concert/film/party available and each hold down a full-time job. Why is "having it all" only used to apply to a woman trying to look after a child and does a not-working-from-home job? Why not anybody who has, say, a job and a time-consuming hobby and a long-distance partner and a garden to look after and... you know, all the kinds of things that people do whether or not they have children? And yes, I know the answer to that "why not" is "because patriarchy", and because if you're looking after children you're supposed to (or at least supposed to want to) do that 24/7 and never do anything else except [vague handwave] child things ... but, well, it's still silly. So let's stop saying it. PROBLEM SOLVED!

(I have a separate rant about the phrase "work/life balance" and the implied idea that your work is not ACTUALLY PART OF YOUR LIFE, but that will have to wait for another time.)
j4: (hair)
I have a kind of ongoing conversation with myself about shaving my legs. (Yes, that's the kind of boring thing I talk about, even when I'm talking to myself.) It's hard to transcribe the voices in my head because observing them tends to change them, but I've eavesdropped on this one often enough that I reckon I can capture at least some of it faithfully:

"Those legs are getting pretty hairy."
"So? That's fine."
"Well it doesn't look too good."
"Actually you know what I really don't like the way it looks."
"Oh well then you're a slave to the beauty myth. Call yourself a feminist etc etc."
"OK so I'm not allowed to prefer smooth legs?"
"Well in theory you're allowed to, in an ideal world you'd be allowed to, but as things stand you can't have that thought without it being caused by oppressive heteronormative gender stereotyping."
"Right, so I'm not allowed to like what the patriarchy likes? Isn't that just a different sort of lack of freedom of choice?"
"Um... no! It's different. Because you get to choose the better option, not the one that makes women do painful stuff in the name of beauty."
"But shaving my legs isn't painful."
"No but that's not the point. It's mutilating your body just for the sake of -"
"It isn't 'mutilating' anything, any more than cutting my fingernails is. It grows back, you know."
"- and anyway by not shaving your legs you're supporting other women."
"It shows women that they're allowed to have hairy legs."
"So I have to do things I don't like to show other women that they're allowed to resist doing things they don't like?"
"Yeah! ... No, wait, no! Gah, the point is you're not supposed to like smooth legs. Hair is natural, yada yada."
"OK shitting in the woods is natural but you know what I really prefer using an actual toilet and not having to use leaves to wipe and so do you, you hypocrite."
"That's different."
"Is not."
"Is too."
"Ahahaha I see what you did there. Bet nobody else will pick up on it though."
"This is getting a bit meta, isn't it?"
"Always a risk when talking to oneself."
"Was that the fourth wall?"
"I wasn't counting."
"OK, so ... back to the conversation. Hairy legs look scruffy at work. Shaving your legs when you're going to be showing them off at work is just like wearing a tie or something. Hairy legs look scruffy on men too, but men don't tend to wear shorts when they're trying to look smart."
"You're trying to change the subject."
"You're trying to evade my point."
"Ah but anyway you shouldn't be trying to conform by wearing skirts. Especially not short skirts. What are you trying to cash in on your 'erotic capital' or some such bullshit?"
"No, it's just, you know, it's AUGUST."
"Even in August, you shouldn't be focusing on trying to conform. If you were really serious about staying cool you'd wear like a kaftan or something but I don't see you trying that."
"OK, so maybe I'm conforming, but look, I have to conform to some social norms to be taken seriously in my job."
"Which means you're PART OF THE PROBLEM! You shouldn't cave in to that sort of pressure!"
"But I like my job and I like being able to help pay the mortgage and feed my family. Also I actually think it's totally reasonable to expect people to look tidy at work: it's about avoiding foregrounding the clothes so you can get on with concentrating on the important stuff."
"That's unreasonable! People should be able to see past all that surface stuff to the real person underneath."
"Yeah well people should be able to see past fonts and pictures to basic functionality when looking at prototype websites but actually they generally can't. So we work with what we've got and what they can do."
"You mean you're an enabler for being wrong and stupid?"
"No! I mean I'm conservative in what I generate & liberal in what I accept."
"Oh hark at you. Anyway your job should be the same. If it won't accept you with scruffy clothes and hairy legs, then it's a bad job and it's CRUSHING YOUR SOUL."
"I don't have a soul. Aren't you supposed to be an atheist too?"
"Figure of speech. Anyway. BAD JOB. Crushing your something-or-other-that-atheists-have. Get a better one."
"But I like this job. And I don't mind having to wear normal clothes and look like a normal person."
"Well you should! You are SELLING OUT and facilitating oppression!"
"Also I want to wear skirts occasionally. OK usually when all my nice trousers are in the wash, but still. Some skirts are nice."
"You don't really want to wear skirts, you're just - "
"Hang on, you can't play 'false consciousness' twice in the same argument. Penalty card."
"But that's the patriarchy."
"No buts. Anyway it's not only work, I like to look smarter for parties and things as well."
"THAT IS ALSO THE PATRIARCHY! You are trying to conform to what men will like!"
"I am totally not. Firstly nobody has ever turned me down for being too hairy (and nor have I turned anybody else down for being too hairy even though all other things being equal I prefer non-hairy to hairy, but all other things never are equal). Secondly - "
"Are you nearly done?"
"- No. Secondly: I am married, so I already succeeded in attracting someone if that was what I was trying to do, and anyway I am currently too exhausted to be interested in trying to attract anybody, and besides if I was thinking about trying to attract people I'd be thinking about what women would like too - "
"Which is the same, because blah blah male gaze - "
"- shush. Anyway, I am not doing what you say I am doing."
"Look anyway if you must wear a skirt then just wear it with hairy legs."
"But it looks scruffy. I don't like the way it looks."
"Nobody will notice!"
"I'll notice. They're my legs. I am closer to them than anybody else."
"But you shouldn't care if - "
"I hope you're not trying to do that again."
"No! No."
"I will feel scruffy. And then I will feel less confident in what I'm doing. Maybe that's stupid but there it is. Think of it as a placebo."
"[silent eye-roll]"
"So anyway I am totally going to shave my legs because I am a free person."
"[outraged expression]"
"But... not right now. Right now I will just cover them up with these trousers that probably should have gone in the wash yesterday. Because that's what I feel like wearing. Not because I now feel even more guilty and conflicted about shaving my legs."
"Right on, sister!"
j4: (badgers)
There are Gromits in Bristol at the moment. There are also gorillas in Norwich, giraffes in Colchester, bears in Congleton, and toads in Hull.

I first saw this phenomenon in Switzerland, with cows, and Wikipedia confirms that it was the originally-Swiss (now international) Cow Parade that started this trend off. It seems to be getting a bit silly, but I guess it's a fairly harmless silly. The idea of 'collecting' (photographing/visiting) the whole set of $animal in $town appeals to my nerdy side, though realistically I'm not likely to do it while it would involve dragging a recalcitrant toddler around with me. Perhaps I should just 'collect' similar projects and add them to the list in the Wikipedia article, because I can do that after bedtime without leaving the house.

Sadly nowhere yet seems to have filled its streets with giant fibreglass badgers.

May 2017

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