Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my family, friends, lurkers and random passers by.

I can do no better than copy my beloved and direct you to this film about the meaning of Christmas, made by St Helen's Bishopsgate.

That's Christmas (Short Film) HD from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.

May your Christmas be full of love and blessings and the presence of Jesus.

Monday, December 14, 2009

this weekend by the numbers

Christmas present induced panics: 1
Christmas presents bought: 6
Wedding dress related clouds of despair: 1
Baby nieces snuggled: 1
Cats stroked: 3
Curries eaten: 1
Sunday morning related panics: 1
Floods of tears: 1
Hours spent fiddling with invitation design: eleventy million (estimated)
Hot chocolates drunk: 2
Pieces of cake eaten: 2
Fiances kissed: 1
Hugs and kisses received: Too many to count

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

on tears

Thanks for all the lovely comments, thoughts, virtual hugs and prayers. I'm doing OK. The dissertation's going a little better (I actually wrote something yesterday). I'm still feeling a bit mixed up and confused over stuff, but I'm plodding through it.

I've noticed in the last year or so I cry more than I used to. I didn't use to cry much. Maybe once a year, at most, if I got really upset or angry about something. When I was depressed, last year, I couldn't cry for months and months. I wanted to, but the tears wouldn't come. There was one weekend that broke that. I want away with my church for a regional weekend away over the August Bank Holiday. There was one seminar on that weekend (on singleness) which had me bawling by the end and I then spent rather a lot of the worship times of the next few meetings howling with sobs. Somehow lots of dammed up emotions and tears came out that weekend and I felt much better, if exhausted at the end of it. That made some difference to my ability to cry, but not as much it seems, as Rob.

I've noticed since I've been going out with Rob that I'm much more likely to cry when I'm upset than I was before. That's not as negative as it sounds. Yes, I have cried about him a few times, but more often I'm crying on his shoulder rather than at him. The former is because he's so important to me that something going wrong between us makes me very upset and the latter is because I can be vulnerable with him. I feel safe to cry in front of him and know that he'll comfort me. I know he doesn't like it when I cry and he doesn't always understand why I'm crying about something. (Sometimes, neither do I). But he'll always hug me and tell me he loves me and that it's going to be all right, and I feel comforted and safe and loved.

I love you, my Rob. Even, or perhaps especially, through my tears.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

should be happy. Am not.

In so many ways, life is great at the moment. I'm getting ready to marry the man I love. My family are mostly all well and happy, my sisters are newly married, one's just had a lovely baby. But I'm not really happy.

I'm panicking about finishing my MA. I'm not sure I want to do it anymore. My dissertation seems irrelevant and too hard. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. The plan I had of a PhD and research seems impossible now. If I can't do the MA, how can I do anything else? I lost the habit of reading while I was depressed and so far it's not really come back. Reading makes me anxious. I read faster and faster until I get to the point where I can't read any faster and it's too stressful and I give up. For someone who used to read constantly and have several novels on the go at any one time, this is weird and uncharacteristic. It feels like I've lost a large part of my identity.

Identity is probably the biggest thing that's making me feel unsettled. Everything is changing. I'm not sure who I am now, or who I'm going to be. I just turned 30. I'm working part time in a job that pays the bills, but isn't something I want to do long term. What job should I be doing? My potential academic career seems to be over before it started. I'm going to be a wife soon. I want to be a mother. Will that be satisfying? What will I do?

I'm seeing a counsellor again, which is useful in helping me tease some of these things apart, but oh so painful. Everything gets stirred up and I feel so much worse after our sessions. I don't want to confront all this stuff. I just want to curl up in bed with knitting and chocolate and stay warm and safe and away from the scary world. I thought this was just a simple problem of getting over the psychological barrier of panic I get when I try to read. I thought I'd dealt with this stuff in getting over my depression last year. It seems not. There's more to be sorted and more to understand. I know these things take time, I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself and expect everything to get sorted overnight. But oh mouse, I am so tired of swimming in this pool of tears.

I am being looked after. Rob's love and acceptance and hugs are wonderful. I just want to feel sorted and not confused anymore.

Prayers, kind words and hugs much appreciated.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Autumn contrast

Autumn contrast, originally uploaded by the pig wot flies.

I love the colours of autumn.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I am 30!

It's my birthday today! And so far it's lovely. Rob came round and brought me yummy breakfast in bed. In a bit we're heading out to St Ives for the day.

Thank you my darling monster for making me so happy! I'm looking forward to being your wife in 158 days. :)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I am an aunt!

Tiny was born this morning at 3.33am. She weighed 8lb 2 oz. She doesn't have a name yet. Debs and Tiny are both very sleepy and at the moment still in hospital, but my mum thinks they're likely to send her home later today as everything's fine.

Yay! Well done my Debbie-sister! Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

wedding fair

I went to a wedding fair a couple of weeks ago. It was much as I expected - lots of pretty things I couldn't afford (dresses, flowers, hats, cars) and some I wasn't really interested in (chair covers, make-up artists, John Cleese impersonations). I went with some friends: J, who's recently married, E, who's getting married in December and L, my bridesmaid, mostly for the fun of it and to look for ideas we could use. What I didn't expect was to be slightly freaked out by the experience. All the people I spoke to were lovely, very friendly and obviously keen to promote their particular product. That's fine by me, that's what they're there for. It was more the pressure to create a perfect day, but not my idea of perfect - someone else's. It's like there's this identikit wedding template which everyone has to fit into. Expensive dress, perfect flowers, big car, everything covered in bows and flowers and tulle. I felt a bit lost.

Rob and I are semi-side-stepping the wedding industry. We chose our venues (our respective church buildings) without doing the trawling round halls and houses some of my friends have done. I was going to make my own dress, but actually have bought one from eBay, along with my bridesmaids' dresses. I intended to go dress shopping anyway, but having been to a wedding fair, I don't think I want to do that. I'm quite happy with the dress I've got and don't want to spend any more time being told what I ought to be wearing. I suspect we will end up with a wedding that fits most of the cliches and conventions of people of our age and class and that's OK. I just want to be in control of the cliches, rather than having them control me.

I suppose I'm probably falling for my own set of cliches. The wedding ideas I love have mostly come from US-based wedding blogs - OffBeatBride, Wedding Bee. Some of the things I want have come directly from things I've seen on blogs. There are very few new ideas in weddings! Still, finding an idea on a blog and turning it into reality ourselves seems far more fun than paying for someone else to package it up for us.

Friday, September 18, 2009

can I have some sleep please?

I've not slept very well this week. I'm not entirely sure why. OK, a little of it might be to do with late night eBay hunting for bridesmaid dresses, but I also keep waking up far too early. I also seem to be unable to sleep in, or at least sleep as long as I want and be relaxed. If I try to stay asleep as long as I can, I sleep lightly with vivid dreams which take a long while for me to break out of. This means I wake up disoriented and not very rested. I blame fluoxetine. I've reduced the dose I'm on, but still get vivid dreams sometimes, especially in the morning.

The solution is probably to go to bed earlier and not spend any time online when I'm winding down to go to sleep. Trouble is, I don't like this solution! I see Rob most evenings and want to make the most of our time together, so I'm often not home til gone 10. Maybe I should make a point of trying to get home by 9.30 for a while and see if it makes a difference.

Oh dear. I don't like having to go to bed early. What happened to the teenager who used to be the last to bed, got up at 6.30 for school and caught up by sleeping in on Saturdays? Or the student who often missed Book at Bedtime and was regularly lulled to sleep by Sailing By and the 12.30am shipping forecast? :( Sometimes, I don't like growing up.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Days until I become an aunt: ~35*

Days until I turn 30: 42

Days until Christmas: 115

Days until Rob turns 30: 199

Days until I marry Rob: 200

*Debs' due date is 6th October, but you never can tell with babies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

my engagement ring

my engagement ring, originally uploaded by the pig wot flies.

Here is my beautiful engagement ring. It's made of palladium, with a swirling engraved line all the way round. The stones are white and pink diamonds and blue sapphires, three of each. We went ring shopping in Birmingham a few weeks before we got engaged. I had some idea of what I wanted (palladium, engraving, small stones) but I would never have thought of this on my own. We saw this design in white gold, a little thicker (6mm, rather than 4mm) with 9 coloured diamonds - white, pink, a turquoise blue, yellows. I loved the line, but wanted a different metal and no yellow stones, so we had this one made.

I've never really been a fan of traditional one big rock engagement rings. This is much more my style. It's beautiful, and even more so because it was given to me by the man I love as a symbol of love and commitment.

Monday, August 03, 2009

happy Bekki

Hello there! I'm not dead, just busy. I do have things I want to post - like pictures of my engagement ring, happy pictures of fun things I've done, soon, I hope, wedding planning. At the moment, HP's wedding is coming up fast, so I've not really started planning ours. Though we have booked the church and reception venue and a photographer and our honeymoon! I'm sure I'm going to become a wedding bore - but I am very excited! I'm not sure how much to post though. I want to make lots of wedding things (invitations, decorations, bridesmaids' dresses, my dress) though I'm not sure how much is actually practical and how much to blog about beforehand. I expect some wedding crafting will appear on pigwotknits.

Rob and I celebrated our 6 month anniversary (half anniversary?) this weekend with good food, flowers, chocolates and anime. We are happy!

This week, I have bridesmaids' dresses to finish for HP's wedding on the 15th and we're going to another wedding on the 8th (my cousin Pete). It is definitely wedding season.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I have news - Rob and I are engaged! :-) I haven't stopped grinning since Saturday morning when he asked me. We've spent a lot of the last few days cleaning Rob's flat as he's just moved out. On Friday night, we were cleaning until very late and I was pretty exhausted; I even curled up to sleep on the bathroom floor. So Rob suggested I sleep in on Saturday morning and he'd pick me up at lunch time and take me for a walk.

On Saturday, he turned up at my house at 10.30, when I was just awake and dressed and insisted that we had to go for a walk now, as it was going to pour with rain later. I rushed out, half awake, but happy when he suggested going to Beechwoods, my favourite spot. We wandered around the woods, holding hands, enjoying the peacefulness (and spotting dogs) and Rob began telling me how much he loved me and lots of other wonderful things. As we kissed, he complained that I'd smooshed up his glasses (as usually happens) and pulled his glasses cleaning cloth out of his pocket. As he did, out fell a ring! He went down on one knee and asked if I would marry him. Delighted, I said "Yes!"

We stood in the woods and hugged and kissed and then got jumped at by an over enthusiastic Labrador, which made me laugh out loud. Who knows what the dog walkers thought.

Rob's proposal was a surprise in the timing, though not completely unexpected. We've been talking about marriage for a while. We went to the jewellery quarter in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago and chose an engagement ring, which was being made for us. I thought it wasn't yet ready, but it was, and Rob drove to Birmingham early on Friday morning to collect it. He was even more tired than I was, so after going out for lunch, we spent most of the rest of the day sleeping and generally lounging about. Sunday was divided between church (and many congratulations) and more cleaning and packing. Somehow, that seemed appropriate - a weekend of romance and hard work, being lovey-dovey and being a team, working together. I hope it's a good sign for the years to come.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Summer!

It definitely is. I haven't worn socks for days, the sun is shining, HP and I got very hot traipsing round London doing wedding shopping yesterday. Her wedding is less than 2 months away now and there's plenty to do. I've now got fabric so I can start on the bridesmaids' dresses (four of them). And we need to make lots of pom poms.

I'm moving house in 10 days time. Rob's moving house today. He's moving into Cambridge, so we'll be living much closer together, which will be lovely.

I'm getting little bits of dissertation reading done. It's slow, but I'm beginning to regain my enthusiasm for writing the thing. And next week, I'm going to an event at the Corn Exchange with Ian McEwan in conversation talking about the influence of Darwin on his work. Perfect dissertation research!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

sunshine and rain

It's sunny again this morning. Which makes me happy, but will probably make Rob pray for rain. He doesn't like sunshine, though as he's very fair and burns easily, that's understandable.

Over the bank holiday weekend, we went walking in the Lake District. We had sunshine and rain. I like wandering in the hills, Rob doesn't like outside. Poor Rob. I don't think we'll be doing any more hill walking together.

Rob likes rain and I like rain too, especially being inside and warm and listening to a thunderstorm outside, though I'm mostly sunshine powered. Rob survives sunshine, armed with a big hat and 50+ SPF. We'll weather the weather together.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Tonight is Debs' annual birthday celebration and Eurovision party. Since her birthday is on 18 May, she almost always organises a party to coincide with watching the Eurovision song contest. I haven't been able to make it for years for one reason or another, but this year, I'll be there.

Everyone who's coming gets a country to represent by wearing a costume and bringing food to represent their country. My country is Israel, so I'm taking falafels and hummous and wearing a tea-towel headdress and carrying a sheep (think nativity play shepherds). Should be fun. I'm sure there will be photos.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

baby steps

I went to the library and it was OK. I haven't done any proper studying in ages. I've been meaning to ease myself back into it for ages but this was the first time I've actually managed it.

Today I set myself three goals:

To spend at least an hour in the library doing useful things (i.e. not facebook, email etc)

To read through the last pieces of work I did (dissertation proposal and a critical review essay), including my tutor's comments (I handed them last September and even when I got them back I didn't have the courage to look at anything beyond the numerical marks).

To find two articles or books to read which would be helpful.

I managed all three. My dissertation proposal actually made some sense to me, which was comforting, although it was different from the way I've been describing my dissertation to people for the last year or so. The project I've outlined looks do-able and is less focused on Dawkins and his ilk than I'd remembered. (This was one of the things I was dreading about getting back to it). My tutor had made some useful suggestions for things to read, so I came home with Bahktin's The Dialogic Imagination (which looks pretty dense, but I should have a go) and a Foucault Reader, including his essay What is an Author?, which is relatively short and I think I may have read it before.

It may not sound like much, but it was an achievement to get to the library at all, let alone read things. I felt a bit panicky before I went and I'm still a bit tense now, but I feel like I've made the first, very tiny, step towards completing my dissertation. I am setting myself the goal for the rest of May of doing an hour's work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, either in the library or reading at home. This afternoon I'm going to make the wall planner I promised in my last post, so I can tick off the days and see how I'm progressing.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Plodding is what I aspire to at the moment. I seem to be rushing rather than plodding much of the time. Today, I have some unexpected extra time thanks to my usual Thursday afternoon activity being cancelled. I think I shall do what I've been meaning to do for a while and go to the library and do some lit searching for my dissertation research.

I should also make myself a wall planner so I can see the upcoming weeks and months and make plans for them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Me and my Rob, originally uploaded by the pig wot flies.

Me and my Rob in the sunshine.

Monday, April 20, 2009

surrounded by weddings

Here comes another one. Debs' wedding is barely passed and I'm getting ready for another one. My landlord, Ben, is getting married on Saturday and the house is a whirl of activity and packing. His parents have arrived to stay for the week, there are wedding cakes to be iced and all sorts of things to be done. I'm not complaining. It's fun. I'm going to at least two more weddings this summer, but not until August.

I've got a dress to finish if I'm going to wear it on Saturday. It's mostly done, just the (time-consuming) hand-sewing bits to be done.

HP was here over the weekend. I think she had a good time, mostly. We did a little bit of wedding planning and made plans for what we should do with all the pom poms we've been creating. Many more needed!

I am tired again. (Is that news? Maybe you just take it as read.) I'm gradually cutting down on the fluoxetine I'm taking since I'm feeling much better and I'm fed up with the sleep disturbance and vivid dreams I'm having. So far, there's been little discernible effect on either my mood or sleep. I'm hoping for slow but steady change.

Friday, April 17, 2009

catching my breath

Life's been a little hectic recently. There was New Word Alive, there was a wedding, there was Spring Harvest. This week, well the last three days (after getting back from SH on Tuesday afternoon) has felt like a breathing space. Before what, I wonder? HP's coming to visit for a few days tomorrow, I'm going to another wedding next weekend, going camping the weekend after that.

One of the things I thought I'd learnt last year was how to do less and be more. Reflecting on the last few months, I seem to have forgotten that lesson. I'm as busy as ever, and failing to find time for things that I want to do but find scary, like thinking about my future and preparing myself to go back to my dissertation.

On the upside, I am mostly happy. There are the odd blue days, like Thursday when I woke up from confusing dreams and felt grumpy and befuddled all morning. But I do know ways to cope now - like taking myself out for a bike ride to Beechwoods and talking to people. And there's Rob: just the thought of him makes me smile. :o)

I'd like to slow down and enjoy the ride a little more. Lots of lovely things are happening in my life and the lives of those around me and I want to spend time enjoying life and thanking God for all the good stuff. My resolution for 2009 was to have more fun, and so far, I'm keeping to that! I just need to make sure I take time out to breathe, reflect and be thankful.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Debs and Menard

It's been a lovely day. Here are Debs and Menard in their first dance. Ah!

Must sleep now!

wedding bells!

No not mine! My sister Debs is getting married today and I'm being a bridesmaid. Actually, bells are unlikely, as she's getting married in a cinema, where her church, Jubilee Church, Lee Valley, meet every Sunday. Debs and Menard and getting married as part of the Sunday morning service. It's going to be fun!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday, saturday, what shall I do today?

Morning world! It's Saturday morning. It's raining. Rob's coming round soon. I need to go food shopping, Rob probably needs to go suit shopping. We're off to New World Alive on Monday. I need to make cake by then (probably chocolate brownies).

This has been a long week. I was ill-ish at the beginning of the week - a cold, probably caught off Rob, but it made me feel awful and very tired. Still, I managed to go home to London to do useful things like buy bridesmaids' dresses for Debs' wedding on 5th April.

I feel in need of a break. I hope Word Alive will be that, though I suspect it will be very tempting to go to lots of meetings and get no sleep. Not a brilliant idea, really. I shall have to make sure I get enough sleep. Still, I'm looking forward to spending lots of time with Rob and learning from God together.

I'm trying to think of some aspect of my life that isn't connected with Rob, but apparently I can't. I didn't want to become one of those girls who gets a boyfriend and suddenly has no time for anything else, but it seems I may have done. I'm sorry, my lovely friends! I do still love you and once I'm back from Word Alive and Debs' wedding is out of the way, oh and maybe Spring Harvest too, I shall try to plan in more time with friends. :o)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday again?

Hello there! It's Wednesday again and I haven't posted for a week. Life is going by in a bit of a blur at the moment and will probably continue to do so, what with a part time job, a boyfriend, two sisters' weddings to help organise, an MA dissertation to think about (if not actually start on yet), post viral fatigue still making itself a nuisance and umpteen other things to do. I need to practise saying no to stuff!

Still, I like having things to do, even if I get tired. I'm having fun. (And I am getting to bed at reasonable times, mostly.)

Spring has arrived! Hooray! And the clocks change soon. The time change will probably throw me out for a while, it usually does at the best of times, but I know that and can prepare by getting plenty of sleep.

On with the day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Rob!

me and my Rob

Blogging has been a little quiet of late, and this man is the reason why.

This is Rob. We 'met' when he left a very long comment on my post about dating. We exchanged many many long emails, I found and read his blog and liked what I read. We met IRL for the first time at the City Church Ceilidh on Saturday 30th 31st January and got on very well! So well, that we started going out the very next day.

So far, it's lovely! I met Rob's family the weekend before last and they like me. Rob met a lot of my family all at once this last weekend and not only survived that ordeal, but enjoyed seeing HP in Yeoman of the Guard. My family like Rob too.

We are in love and very happy! :o)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Is this thing on?

My blog seems not to be showing anything on the front page. If this appears, it's working.

ETA: Now all is well again. Weird. Oh well, it proves I'm not dead.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday things

Today I had a meeting with someone who pronounces innovative in-NOH-vat-ive. Weird.

Today I ate peanut lasagne for the first time. It was pretty good, though Ben thought it would taste even better without chickpeas in.

Today, I didn't get to bed very early. Not that I exactly tried very hard.

Tomorrow, I am meeting some people on whom I would to make a good impression. Possibly I should therefore have made more of an effort to get good sleep.

Today, I am happy. Tomorrow I expect to be happy, if a little nervous.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

lazy sheep

lazy sheep, originally uploaded by the pig wot flies.

I had a lovely Valentine's Day. I saw sheep and pigs and donkeys and rabbits and cows.

It was a good day.

Monday, February 09, 2009

sometimes life trumps blogging

This is one of those times. I am happy. Lots of lovely things have happened in the last week and a bit. Maybe I'll tell the blog about them, maybe I won't.

Today has been a cold sort of Monday. Cold and damp. I spent the afternoon tucked up in the warm reading Permutation City which, so far, is interesting. Tonight was Rev in a freezing cold Trinity chapel. Singing is always fun, but we were all fairly chilly by the end of the evening.

Tomorrow is a day off, which will probably get filled up with useful things like washing, with a fun evening to look forward to. Yay for friends!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

the weather continues fine

Actually it doesn't, we've had snow and cold and nastiness. But yesterday was sunny and gorgeous and full of lovely things.

Today I saw a fox on the way home from work. I went the back way from the station, over the cycle bridge and then down the alley ways parallel to Mill Road. The fox was ahead of me in the last alley way. I thought it was a cat at first, but then I saw the ears and the white-tipped brush tail. I think it's the first fox I've seen in Cambridge. I used to see (mangy and unhealthy looking) foxes around the streets of Walthamstow (like the one Debs saw) but this one was rather more glossy and alert. Cambridge is obviously a nicer place to be a fox!

Where is this week going? It's flying past! I'm looking forward to lots of fun things this weekend and, I hope, in the days to come. Right now, life is good!

Monday, February 02, 2009

sleepy Monday

I've had a lovely weekend. Though I could do with a little more sleep. The ceilidh I went to on Saturday night has left my legs achy and stiff. I'm clearly not as fit as I could be!

Still, aches and sleepiness aside, I am very happy. :o)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

paint box

Today I discovered that I prefer painting in watercolours to painting in acrylics. I like the subtlety and delicacy of watercolours to the brashness of acrylics. With watercolours, you can lay down washes and build up colour slowly, or let colours seep into one another. You don't have to be definite, if you don't want to, and you can easily wash one colour off your brush and pick up a new one.

I used to paint a lot in watercolours, usually drawing an outline in pencil and then colouring it in with paint. Today, that seems too definite. I'd rather start with the brush and a pale colour and see what happens. I can always make it darker, or wash it into even paler, or even wait until it's dry and paint over the top.

I am wondering what this says about me. Perhaps that I like subtlety. That I like starting small and getting bigger. That I like to be sure of the direction before I move, rather than jumping in with both feet. Hmm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I feel like I'm drifting along through life at the moment. I'm not planning anything, it's just happening. I'm not sure that's a good thing. I'm drifting through work. It's OK, but I don't want to do it forever. I don't know what I do what to do though and I'm not particularly doing anything to work it out.

My course is drifting. It is officially on hold, but if I want to finish it, I need to get back into the habit of studying, starting by teaching myself how to read properly again. And if I'm going to finish my dissertation, ever, I probably need a plan of how that's going to happen.

My weight's drifting upwards, gradually, but inexorably and I don't seem to be able to muster the will power to do anything about it for more than half a day at a time.

I don't feel able to plan. I'm living week to week, financially, never quite sure how much work I'm going to do and therefore how much money I'll earn. I'm just about OK, but it's easy to imagine sudden emergencies for which there's no slack.

There's no end goal, no time line. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm fighting wars on several fronts at once, trying to deal with stuff the last year has brought to the surface. It feels like there are too many things for one person to deal with all at once. Plus there are plenty of other people around who need looking after.

Oh dear, I seem to have made myself sad. :o( What on earth am I doing in this mess and how do I find my way out of it?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday morning strikes again

Ben loves Mondays. He's always happy and excited about getting back to work.

Poppy loves Mondays. She has a day off since she works on Sunday.

Bekki does not love Mondays quite so much. She has to get up and go to work. It is, however, only a morning (10-2) at work. And there's Rev to look forward to in the evening.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

on dating (or the lack of it)

So, I'm single. (You don't have to read this blog for very long to find that out). And I'm thinking I'd quite like to do something about that. And I haven't got a clue what to do. In yesterday's Guardian, there was a guide to dating (which, cynically viewed, is an extended advert for their Soulmates site) which made some interesting reading. I've never done 'dating'. Well, I've never really had a love life which existed outside my head. No, that's a bit harsh. But there's been a lot of unrequited longing and the occasional attempt to do something about it, all of which ended in disappointment of one sort or another.

I tried speed dating in October 2007. It was an experience. Not necessarily one I wanted to repeat. I'm glad I did it, but it's not exactly fun, trying to make a decision on a bloke in 3 minutes and knowing he's doing exactly the same with you. It probably didn't help that I was among the youngest there and most of the guys were a good 10 years older than me. Not that's necessarily a problem. I just didn't hit it off with any of the guys I met.

Last year, I wasn't terribly sociable. Being single was one of the many things that bothered me, but I knew I wasn't really in a fit state to do anything about it. Now, I'm feeling better. Mostly. A bit more confident on a good day, at least, and wanting to do something. Yes, the fact that both of my sisters are attached probably has something to do with that. And the fact that I'm not terribly good at waiting and want to make things happen. But, what can I do?

I feel like I have no idea. It's the eternal cry of the single Christian woman that there are no single Christian men, but I don't think that's entirely true. My main problem is not so much finding a man, but what to do if and when I do find someone I'm interested in. I have no idea how to go from being friendly and smiley to making it clear I'm interested in seeing if there's something more between us. I suppose I could say it in English with words, but I'm so expectant of rejection that that feels too scary. (Yes, I know that attitude's wrong, I'm working on it with God's help.) I can do friendships with guys (mostly. Occasionally there's had to be some negotiation of the boundaries. Mostly when I'm interested and they're not. (I can't think of a single successful friendship where it's been the other way round. I can, though, think of some guys I wasn't interested in who I put down pretty ungraciously. If any of them are reading, I apologise. Hmm, I think I've got a lot to learn from some of my lovely Christian brothers)). Anyway, you can't survive as a female physicist without learning to be friends with men. But I don't know how to go from friend to potential girlfriend. I think the idea of being attractive scares me.

So, right, where does that leave me? With no idea of what to do. Any suggestions? Any single male Christian friends you can set me up with? (Preferably local, rather than say, across the Atlantic). Anyone out there want to say hello?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

learning to read

I don't remember learning how to read. I just did. I remember reading Spot books to myself before I went to school and I remember coming home from school with my first reading book ("The big red lorry went up the hill..."). I've always been a book worm, always the one tucked away in a corner, lost in a book. I read voraciously, anything and everything, had the usual phase of finding a book I loved and then seeking out everything by the same author. I think when I went to secondary school, my first method of assessing the school library was to find out how many P G Wodehouse books they had that I hadn't already read.

I carried on reading. I didn't plan to take English Literature A-Level, but when I picked it up a month into sixth form, I discovered I'd read more over the summer than people who had planned to take it, which made me wonder why I hadn't thought of it in the first place. I loved English and the lessons kept me sane through my A-levels. They were discursive and thought-provoking in a way that Maths, Physics and Chemistry just weren't.

I read less during my Physics degree. There just wasn't time in term, but I did still read lots in the holidays. I wrote some poems then too, even got elected JCR Poet Laureate for a year.

Jump forward a few years, and I started studying with the Open University while working. At first, just for fun, but as I started to find my feet and get into the course, studying literature become something I loved doing and was good at, something I wanted to pursue more seriously.

But something changed as I studied. By my third year of OU, a sort of panic was beginning to set in whenever I had to read for study, especially text books. I'd look at a page and find myself speeding up, getting faster and faster and more panicky, wondering how much I much I was taking in. I rarely read anything that wasn't for my course, and when I did, I felt guilty about it. I dismissed the panic as pressure of time. After all, I was also working full time and studying had to get squeezed in between working and the rest of life. I'd work in short bursts, often relying on the pressure of an approaching deadline to get myself motivated to write.

When I left work to start my MA, I initially enjoyed the freedom to read. My course texts were varied and interesting, especially the 20th century ones. I tried reading Ulysses in one day (didn't make it, but got quite a good way through), read in the library, at home, in bed, at work while waiting for videos to process. It was fun. But the panic was still there, especially when I sat down to write an essay. I sailed closer and closer to the wind with my deadlines, producing things at the very last minute, and always conscious that they weren't as good as I wanted them to be.

By the time I got really ill, books just weren't working anymore. Although I did read (and love) Bleak House during a week in bed, that was probably the last time I managed to read something complex. A few weeks after that, I couldn't read, couldn't think coherently, couldn't do anything much. Somehow, over the summer, I managed to read and write enough to produce an essay on The Water Babies, a review and a dissertation proposal. I'm not entirely sure how. As my ability to concentrate came back, I read a bit - mostly detective stories, old favourites, the odd bit of fantasy fiction and not too taxing comic fiction. I'm not sure how I'd define it. Not quite chick lit. The sort of novels with tragi-comic families and adolescent heroines. Lots of Kate Atkinson. I didn't feel up to tackling anything big, say, Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, which I've wanted to complete reading since I studied The Ghost Road in my OU course, or Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day, which has been sat on my to-read pile since I found it second-hand, or Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell which I've been halfway through for over a year. There are lots of books I've started and failed to finish - Nights at the Circus, Lud-in-the-Mist, A Confederacy of Dunces, all of which sat by my bed for months, waiting for me to feel up to reading them again.

I still don't. There are signs of hope. I read Coraline in one go on a train journey at the beginning of January. I'm slowly working my way through Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, when I'm not feeling too sad to read it. But I haven't yet approached anything relevant to my MA, or even re-read my dissertation proposal, or properly read the marker's comments. I'm scared. Scared that I'll never re-capture my love of reading. Scared that some part of my identity is gone forever. Scared of pushing myself too hard and becoming ill again. I know I need to retrain my brain to concentrate and that I can't go straight back to tackling big serious books again, but I don't quite know where to start. I'm also not very motivated to get back to my dissertation. The topic is too close to my heart. There are too many aspects of it that are important to me, that I want to get right and say something worth saying and thought-provoking about, and yet I'm also sick of it because I've been living with those same issues for the past three years and I'd really rather do something else, that mattered less. I don't know whether to give it up; pick another dissertation topic (if I can) or just plough on through the difficulties. I feel like I could do with a reading coach. My supervisor, I suppose, might fulfill that role, but I'm scared of her. And I'm not good at asking for help.

I don't really know what to do. Pray, and live and try to do what I can. And ask God to help me conquer my fears.

Friday, January 23, 2009

mellow Friday night

It's been a funny week. I was in a pretty bad mood for most of it. Sad and not really sure why, if not actually bad tempered. Today I'm fine, happy even, despite a pretty long day of taking minutes for meetings. No idea what made the difference. Which probably proves just how subjective feelings are and how little relationship they can have to reality.

I was going to go out to see some contemporary dance this evening, but I'm not really awake enough. Instead, I shall stay in and relax.

Nothing very profound to say.

I love the sound of a guitarist's fingers squeaking on frets.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

29 going on 30? 17? 22? 5?

I've been watching 13 Going on 30, which is very silly, but got me thinking about what it means to be grown up. It was rather comforting to be watching something where 30 is the ultimate age of sophistication and grown-up-ness. I'm going to be 30 in October, and it's scaring me a little.

There's all those things you expect to have done by the time you're 30. Got married (nope), bought a house (er, no and not likely to, judging by current house prices), had a child or two (see above), launched oneself into a glittering career (not really. Unless by career you mean headlong out of control rush with no clear direction). In the film Jenna Rink wishes to be "thirty, flirty and thriving!" And she gets what she wishes for. Of course, one of the points of the story is that the person she's become to get exactly what she wants isn't someone she recognises or even likes. She's dumped her best friend for the in-crowd and built a career out of back-stabbing and bitching. All that apparently good stuff came at a price she comes to realise wasn't worth it.

So where does that leave me? What did I wish for aged 13? I honestly don't think I ever thought beyond going to university, meeting my husband and starting a family. I thought there'd be a job somewhere in there, probably in physics (aged 13, I think I wanted to be a quantum physicist) but I wasn't really bothered about what it was, or whether it paid well or not. Sometimes I feel like I've failed on all fronts. I didn't meet the man of my dreams at university (not the first time, or the second time or the third time). I didn't get a job in physics and right now I'm a temp, with no clue where she's going next.

On the other hand, I'm still me. I think my 13 year old self would recognise me and like me. Maybe she'd be surprised at my confidence (on a good day) and some of the things I'd done. Maybe she'd be sad that I'm still single. I don't know.

I do know that jobs and possessions and husbands aren't the measure of maturity. That's a pretty hard thing to hold onto when rather a lot of the world around you is telling you that they are. I'm not always sure what is. What do I mean by mature? Do I mean being taken seriously as an adult person? Yes, probably. Sometimes I feel about 15. Or 21, newly graduated and applying for my first job. Or 7. (Especially when choosing clothes. I think I have the dress sense of a small child. When I'm relaxed and happy that's a good thing: when I'm trying to look professional for work, less so). I don't quite expect people to think of me as an adult, when an adult in my mind is probably someone with a proper job, a spouse, a house, a car. But actually, lots of 'proper grown-ups' I know don't have all or any of those things. They do have the ability to take on responsibility for themselves and for others and confidence in who they are.

I'm reading Hebrews at the moment and this morning I got to this: "But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (Hebrews 5:14, ESV). That's a totally different definition of maturity. Not about stuff, not even about how old you are, but about how tuned in you are to what is good and of God and what is not. Am I mature in that sense, the one that counts? Like everyone, I'm a work in progress. Am I more mature than I was? Yes, I think so. But I've still got a long way to go.

So, how grown up am I? Sometimes, not very. At my most vulnerable, hardly more than a kid. When I'm relaxed and happy, a giggly teenager. Sometimes, on a very good day, a sophisticated 20-something, soon to be 30-something. Mostly, I don't know. But I'm still growing and still learning to love being me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

time for new music?

I have not bought any new music in over a year*. My CD player broke in January 2006 and somehow I never got round to buying a new one. And there wasn't much point buying CDs with nothing to play them on. Then I got a laptop, but little tinny speakers aren't the same as big ones. And then I got ill and depressed and wasn't interested in much. But now I'm feeling better and I have a CD player again (courtesy of the previous inhabitant of my current room) and the hi-fi system in the living room has a handy audio cable to connect up laptops to. So, I'm thinking it's time to buy music again. (Not that I have any money, but we'll let that go).

So what should I listen to? Any recommendations?

Things I like:
Belle and Sebastian (I'm a sucker for stories and vignettes and I love the way their arrangements are sweet without being twee.)
The Divine Comedy (I could listen to Neil Hannon sing anything.)
Interesting 20th century classical music. I had a bit of a Kurt Weil phase.
Ella Fitzgerald (I'd love to sing like her)
Blur (and most things involving Damon Albarn)
Ben Folds (more vignettes and wit and piano amazingness)
Bjork (bonkers but brilliant. Medulla is spine tinglingly beautiful)

Things I don't like:
Twee female singer/songwriters - Joanna Newsome, Feist, anything involving skipping and fluffiness and fragile blondeness. (Not quite sure why. I think it just sets my teeth on edge like too much sugar)
Dance/trance/all those sorts of music that sound computer generated and moronic but I can't keep track of their names anymore. Maybe to dance to in the right setting, but not to listen to. Not that I'm opposed to electronica, more that I don't like the sort of things that get called 'club anthems' and boom out all summer from boy racers' cars.

Things I thought I liked, but got sick of:
Sufjan Stevens (I bought and initially like Seven Swans, but after a while got completely sick of it)
Guitar bands. Maybe I'm growing out of them. I have in my collection and sometimes still listen to Athlete, the Bluetones, Space, Franz Ferdinand. (Though FF probably should be in the top list).

Things I think I like, but don't know much about:
Northern soul
Jazz - the sorts of things that involve tunes. Not trad, not dixieland, occasionally big band and swing, anything singable, I can just about recognise a Miles Davis track on a good day. Jazz is like poetry, in that I'm intrigued, but a bit intimidated by it.

Random CDs I have in my collection but am not sure if I like or not:
Tom Waits - Alice (I listened to it once, it scared me, then my CD player broke)
The Fall - 50000 Fall fans can't be wrong (Bought under the influence of watching The Manchester Passion)
Aimee Mann - Lost in Space (I can't remember why. After watching Magnolia probably)
Tori Amos - To Venus and Back (Bought for Cornflake Girl, but very rarely listened to)

*Almost true. Actually I bought a Guillemots album on iPlayer just before Christmas. And a few random songs I was learning for a gig in October. And Tchiakovsky's Liturgy of St Chrysostom in about May.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Might have spoken too soon about the back. It's hurting again. But something was happening when I was being prayed for.

Work's OK, though I often feel like I'm bluffing my way through. Still, it's going well. Someone told me today they were bit a scared because they'd heard I was very efficient. So I must be doing something right. The people thinking I'm efficient bit, not the people being scared of me bit. I'd rather people weren't scared of me.

I do need more sleep. Is it too early to sleep yet? Maybe I'll curl up in bed with a book. Or a radio play. Or a DVD. Or some knitting.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

good things

Thursday's depression lifted after a great prayer meeting and lots of prayer and hugs. Friday was a bit fraught in the morning, but got better once I'd got through work, rushed around packing and got on a train to Oxford.

I went to Oxford for a Gaudy and had a lovely time. It was odd to be back in college; I haven't really been back since I left, well apart from my two graduations (Yes, Oxford's weird. That's why we love it.) But all the other people were familiar faces and the whole evening was about catching up with what everyone's been doing for the past few years and being nostalgic for our student days. In some ways I felt just the same, but in others I knew I'd changed. I felt more confident and more sure of who I am. I didn't really mind what people what of what I was doing now, it just good to see them again. (And I was wearing a gorgeous dress, which is always a confidence booster!)

The moon on Saturday night was surrounded by a beautiful rainbow halo.

I had lunch in G&Ds on Saturday. I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend (V), but the thing about G&Ds is that there are now three of them. (There was only one in my day, the second opened up just after I left and the third about a year ago). I suggested one, but we hadn't finalised it. So I went to the first (and oldest) one. No V. So I sat inside and had a hot chocolate to warm up, but after half an hour, still nothing. So I walked down to other end of town, reasoning that maybe if she'd gone there and realised I wasn't there she might have started off towards where I was and we'd meet up on the way. But I got all the way there and still no V. I have idea what happened (and now her facebook account seems to have disappeared, so I'm puzzled. V, where are you?). So I decided to give up and have lunch alone. And then I noticed that sitting next to my table was someone I'd met once and had been sort of trying to arrange to meet. So I introduced myself and we chatted and it was fun. So I dunno what that's about, but coincidences are a lovely thing.

I went to Emmanuel this morning, which was great - really friendly and just felt like home. (And several people seemed to know who I was before I introduced myself, which I suspect is a direct result of telling the legend that is Bryan McGill that I was planning to visit). And I got prayed for and I think God might have healed my back! Wow! I'll see what it's like over the next few days.

C and I went for a walk in the grounds of Blenheim Palace on Saturday afternoon. Everything was covered in frost, every blade of grass, every twig of every tree. It was magical. Too beautiful to photograph. In fact I failed to take any photos this weekend. Sometimes it feels like fishing around for a camera would spoil the moment and I'd rather look around carefully and remember. There were lots of moments like that this weekend.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

today's things

I wish I listened to myself more.

It's easy to feel better for a few days, decide I'm fine, do lots of things and then find myself back to collapsing in a heap again.

Which is what happened. I did a whole day at work yesterday, which wore me out and I've been tired and low all day as a result.

I am feeling very single today and not in a good way. It didn't help that I was all alone last night AND there was a power cut and I got to eat my dinner by candle light. All alone. :-( I didn't even have a friendly housemate to share the fun with. And I read more of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which made me want to cry*. And it would have been lovely to have someone to give me a hug and make it better. I did have a chat on facebook with an old friend, which was a good thing too. Not as good as a hug, but friendly.

I am not doing at all well on the eating front. Not really trying. It's not like I haven't got a pretty good reason to lose weight (HP's wedding in August) I just can't get myself convinced I can do it. I need to kick comfort eating for a start. I know this. I've got a strategy for doing it. I need to convince myself I can do it, with God's help. And that I want to.

Am I stopping myself finding a man? What's wrong with me? I'm still trying to deal with one of the strategies I think I've been using to keep myself safe from the prospect of a relationship. (The pig and her hook. I'm not going to explain more than that.) I want to be in a relationship, but I seem to be too scared or too afraid of hard work or too something, (I don't know what, on a bad day too weird and ugly, on a good day I know that's not true) to actually make that a reality. I say there are no men. Is that really true? Do I need to look harder? Be less picky? Chill out and stop scaring them away? Arrrgh!

Today, insects seem to be waking up. There was a fly buzzing round the room this afternoon, which was pretty annoying. When I got home, there was a small winged thing crawling around on my computer. I think it might actually have crawled inside the keyboard. Grr.

It's been a bad day. I hope tomorrow is better. I'm doing another long day at work, but I need to leave in time to get home and then get to the station to catch a train to Oxford. I'm off to a Gaudy (college reunion) and catching up with some old friends. I'm planning to go to Emmanuel Church on Sunday morning. Look out for me if you're there!

*Which is, I suppose, progress in a way. I used to be a little proud of never crying at films or books, but after having had several months of being unable to cry, broken by a weekend of howling, I'm beginning to think I was actually very cut off from my emotions and that I'm now able to be touched by other people's sadness, even fictional sadness, is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

bored = getting better?

Well. I got bored yesterday. I didn't know what to do with myself in the afternoon, after a morning at work. I ended up doing some tidying and watching stuff on iPlayer. Which was a short term solution, but perhaps I need to find some better solutions.

My work hours are going to be fairly regular for the next few months, so I should be able to get until a routine and do some useful things as well as work. Like getting some exercise and maybe even doing some reading. (I read a book in bed last night! 15 pages or so of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.) I'm trying to get myself back into the habit of reading. I'd like to start doing some dissertation relevant reading, though the idea scares me a bit at the moment. I don't quite know where to start. But there's no hurry and if I can do a little bit now and then, all the little bits will add up.

I feel a lot better than I was a few months ago, though I still seem to need lots of sleep. (Though I'm probably still catching up from the weekend). I need to be careful though and not try to do too much. It's easy to feel better for a few days, decide I'm fine, do lots of things and then find myself back to collapsing in a heap again.

I suspect January doesn't help. It's so cold! The biting wind doesn't make one inclined to get out of the house. Must wrap up warm and brave the weather. And look forward to spring.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

goodbye 2008, hello 2009

Bye 2008. You were interesting. Pretty horrible in bits, too much depression and sadness and serious introspection. On the other hand, I did learn a lot about myself and about God. And there were good bits too - friends and holidays and fun and laughter.

2009 - I'm looking forward to good things in you. This year, I would like to have lots of fun and laughter!

Happy New Year everyone! May your 2009 be filled with wonderful and awesome people, events and experiences!