who is katie?

26 · cis female (she/her) · neurodiverse · spoonie · queer · relationship anarchist · ally · burned out activist · geek · photographer · knitter · explorer · creator · lover · thinker ·

July 2014

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tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
I've just been looking at the map of today's stage of Le Tour de France Yorkshire (inexplicably starting in England).

The map lists the biggest hills on the route, and despite this section of the route being in England, the names are prefaced "Côte de…"

There's three hills worthy of note on the map
today. The first, Côte de Cray, well, that seems legit. Actually looks like it could even be French. The last one, pushing it a bit: Côte de Grinton Moor. Maybe if it were just Côte de Grinton it might look like the Français prefix belonged there, but c'est la vie.

The middle one, however? The biggest, toughest hill of the day? Of course, it's the one with the slightly cutesy, not even slightly continental name.

Côte de Buttertubs.

Oh, Yorkshire. <3
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
I've been at the Royal College of Nursing Congress in Liverpool this week, and today have a 10am meeting at uni, which necessitated a 06:30am alarm, without the assistance of my sunlight alarm clock to wake me up gradually, so even two hours later I am still a little groggy. Just as I've got myself settled on the train, there is an announcement.
"Please note, due to a line blockage, this train has been re-routed and will no longer be calling at Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington Central or Birchwood. The first stop will be Manchester Oxford Road."

I hop off the train and ask the conductor: "Do you know when the next train to Manchester Victoria is, now?" and he looks at me, a little confused, and says "This one never was going to Victoria… there's only one an hour and you just missed it."

Equally confused, I pull my phone from my pocket and look at the journey information I have saved to my calendar.

Journey Details: Liverpool Lime Street (LIV) to Manchester Oxford Road (MCO), dep 08:22, arr 09:05
Train Company: First Transpennine Express
Mode of Transport: Train

Journey Details: Manchester Oxford Road (MCO) to Salford Crescent (SLD), dep 09:26, arr 09:33
Train Company: Northern Rail
Mode of Transport: Train

"Oh. Don't mind me." I said, blushing furiously, and hurried back onto the train to find my seat again, sitting back down exactly where I'd been before, and thought, well, since I'm on a train that takes twice as long as the one I thought I was on, I might as well see if I can get some shut-eye so that I have a bit more brain power to expend when I get to uni.

A few minutes later, someone taps me on the shoulder. "Miss?"

I open my eyes. It's be conductor, with a complimentary cup of coffee because "you look like you need some help with waking up this morning, and you made me smile".


Who's day?

Jun. 15th, 2014 09:55 am
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
PostSecret: 'Dear Dad. Thank you for being an alcoholic. You've shown me what I never want to be… I wish I could tell you I love you… but you've hurt me too much.'

To the person who donated half my chromosomes: this year, for the first time, I do not feel guilty for not sending you a card on father's day. It's been nearly six months since you ruined Christmas with your drinking and abusive behaviour, and yesterday you proved you still can't see why inviting me round for a barbecue and a few beers is not going to show me how sorry you are for hurting me and letting me down, over and over again.

To Dad: why you? I miss you and I love you, all the time. The tears don't come as often anymore, but you're never far away from my thoughts. At least when you told me you never wanted children, the sentence ended "…but you changed my mind." I wish I could see you again.
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)

I wrote last week about love and loneliness and the fear of a life lived alone without love, and whilst it is all still true, time has healed some of the pain I felt then.

When we were happier, I would fairly regularly tell him the things I loved and liked about him. It’s what I do: I used to have great trouble with the words “I love you”, wanting to use them but at the same time, knowing that the intensity with which I felt the emotion could never quite be encompassed by eight letters. And so I learned to tell people why I love them, so that when I did say “I love you”, I knew they knew what made me want to say it.

I find navigating the boundaries in new social situations difficult. How much it's OK to say to someone. But last Saturday (and those who know me well know how fond I am of my philosophical music moments) I found myself listening to a Spotify playlist which, by chance, featured a break-up song that I’ve always felt to be beautifully touching…

and then you call me and it's not so bad, it's not so bad
and I want to thank you
for giving me the best day of my life.
and oh, just to be with you, is having the best day of my life. 

I began composing an email in my head as I walked, not sure then that I would ever send it, but by that evening, after a few hours of letting my thoughts stew, I knew he would want to know what was running through my mind.

I was in a difficult place at first. I didn't see it coming, and I suddenly and painfully lost not just him, but apparently his family, who had become my chosen family, too. A tweet from his husband has been etched in my mind since it was written almost six months ago: "Of course you're part of the family, liebchen.” - and this loss was made all the more painful when a mutual friend told me that whilst I may have seen them as family, it takes time to develop that sort of relationship, the implication being that I wasn’t family after all, and I began to doubt everything I had known. I still do, in some ways. (I expect they've stopped reading my blogs, by now, or I wouldn't write so candidly.)

Ironically, I had, just the week before, been writing an essay about ambiguous loss, a painful kind of mourning that leaves a person not knowing if someone is gone for good, or even if they’re gone at all, and whilst I knew that they would stay by his side, and that I needed to give not just him space, but them too… they took me by surprise by their continued presence in my life. I didn’t want to be the one to click “unfriend” and “unfollow” because I didn’t want to lose them, and so, whilst they were there, they also weren’t.

And even as I type this, almost three weeks have passed, and I am acutely aware that I've exchanged little more than a favourited tweet here and there, a Facebook comment or two - and I wonder when, or if, I will have the nerve to talk to either of them properly again. The more time passes, the more awkward I feel, the bigger the elephant in the room, and yet… I cannot find the words to use. I still don’t unfriend or unfollow, although several times the dialog box has said “Are you sure?” … and I click cancel, because I'm not sure. I'm not sure I want to do the hard work of breaking contact on their behalf, when I don't even know if that's what they want. But I also don't know how to ask them.

So I found myself thanking him for saying that he wanted to stay friends, for telling me how much space he needed, and for talking to me again when that time had passed, and I explained that since he told me his reasons, and since we talked a few days after that, that I had overcome the worst of my pain, and whilst I could not be happy that our relationship had ended, I could now see the sense in it, I could see why we had to. I was grateful that we were able to be friends, instead of quarrelling lovers, who would inevitably break up with animosity and a great deal more sadness.

And I apologised that I had made it difficult for him to let me go. I had been so sure that we could still make our relationship work that I broke all my usual rules, clinging on, because whilst I could see that he was special, I couldn’t see then what I see now: that with time for us each to heal, for me to become stronger, the future isn't necessarily bleak and lonely. It holds, at the very least, friendship, and the special kind of love we reserve for those who we have shared our innermost selves with - and it may, if he and I can trust each other again, and his partners can trust me - it may involve the love we had once more.

Books may end, but so do chapters, and maybe this was just a chapter. To be continued.

A couple of weeks ago, I said I wouldn’t try to date again whilst juggling this degree. It wasn’t what I intended to come out with; I’d opened my mouth to say I wasn’t going to date again whilst I felt any kind of stress or anxiety, whilst I was struggling in any way, but without entirely realising it, I guess my subconscious knew that that would guarantee me the life of solitude I so fear. Since then, I've realised that even a two-year relationship embargo is probably quite drastic; a six month break seems eminently more sensible.

Someone said to me last week that they thought it was brave of us to even try to be friends, that the bad memories would surely come back each time we talked. But for me, the bad memories pale to the happier ones, and whilst sadly the same cannot be said for him right now, I am hopeful that as friends we can make new, happy memories (because it turns out, forgiveness may actually lead to forgetting).

So I thanked him, too, for the happy memories we do have, and for opening my mind to new things: a sport I find exciting to watch, to comics, even though I’ve always hated superheroes. Even, surprisingly, to a comic about a superhero.

But more than anything, I thanked him for wanting to stay friends despite the pain we both have felt, because friendship brings hope, hope that we can recover, but that even if we don’t, I still get to have him in my life.

I added "even if it won't ever be quite the same as it was”, and as I typed that, I realised: actually, it won't ever be the same, even if we do someday want to make another go of it, even if somehow his other loves find a way to give me their blessing once more.

But different doesn't have to mean bad. Different can be positive, different can be loving, different can be just giving each other the right amount of support, enough that we can feel useful and loving without becoming drained or hurt.

I am loathe to say we are "just friends”. I hate the term for many, many reasons, the most important being that it makes it sound like we're making do with friendship, but there is no making do here.

As I sit back and examine what we have saved, what could have happened had he acquiesced and stayed despite the struggle we faced, when I see the pain it could have ended in, I know we have something beautiful, a friendship that I hope can become a relationship stronger, more independent, and yet also more loving than the one we had - or at least, a friendship that we both agree is for the best.

Because the thing is… without hope, what is there?

But you stood apart in my calloused heart,
and you taught me, and here's what I learned:
That love is about all the changes you make
and not just three small words.

tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
I just thought to myself, "I might go out on my bike tomorrow if the weather's better, it's been a really long time..."

And then I remembered!
  1. I'm gonna be riding 52 miles around Manchester in less than a month's time, which I haven't trained for at all as yet (GO TEAM PREPARATION!) and;
  2. I'm doing it to raise money for Stockport Mind, who do awesome stuff in my local area to support people with mental health issues, only I keep forgetting to tell anyone that I'm doing it… which means I've raised a whopping 10% of the amount I had hoped to raise.
Now, in case regular readers hadn't noticed, I kinda think helping people with mental health issues is a bit important! (My choice of degree might be a bit of a giveaway.) So if you who can afford to sponsor me, and by some miracle I reach my target, I'll pose for another one of these daft photos waving my bike in the air :D bribery, it works, right?

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Yes, I have ridden in excess of 52 miles in one go on several occasions before now; this wouldn't be too trivial, except the route is on closed roads, so I miiiight have ticked a box agreeing to ride at about 1.5x my usual average speed for a ride of this distance... :D and I think it starts at about 8am... and I'm not the greatest fan of early mornings... or mornings in general really. I might be going "oh crap" a little right now :)
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
On learning of a recent breakup (hello forgotten blog: yes, another relationship that I never got around to writing about has ended, the story of my life) - a friend said:

"You will find someone x"

(And the following is not written in search of sympathy, dear internet, and so comments are disabled; I simply need some space in which to write, to vent, to help me cope with this. It helps simply to not have it all trapped inside my head, and to know someone, somewhere, might be reading, and might understand.)

After thinking for a few minutes, an approximation of the following conversation took place:

"Honestly, I don't really care if I'm alone for the rest of my life or if have someone who loves me to share it with. I am a whole person, with or without a relationship.

But it doesn't stop it hurting. Because I don't just want someone; I want(ed) him.

He was special. I realised afterwards that he's possibly the only person I've ever dated who not only showed me he loved me, but didn't… I don't know, I'm just so used to people who have a very sarcastic sense of humour, who mock people they love, not in a cruel way but in a way that isn't always terribly wanted, without necessarily having the social awareness to tell when it will be taken in the spirit it's intended, and when it will hurt.

That's not what I'm attracted to in a person, it's other things, it's just that that always seemed to come as part of the package, until I met him. He was never like that, not once, never said anything to hurt me."

Like him, when I told him that, she told me: "there are other types of people, you just haven't found them yet."

When he said it to me, when he told he's not that rare, that there's plenty of others like him, I didn't know what to say - but having had time to think, I knew the answer this time. I said:

"I'm sure there are, but I think the rare thing is the combination - someone who doesn't mock and jibe the people they love as a way of showing affection, who has other qualities I want, and, importantly, who would love me. Even when my life gets a bit stressful, even if my anxiety bubbles up again. Because I'm never not going to be busy; this is who I am. I thrive on it.

And whilst I say I don't care if I'm alone forever… it would be more accurate to say I'm OK with it, but it's not what I want. Loneliness, it isn't much fun, it's not my ideal. I'd rather have someone than not, if I'm given the choice. Especially in this culture where being alone is seen as some kind of failure.

Sure, society is wrong about a lot of things, but it's hard to feel like you're a loveable, wantable person when nobody does love or want you. When the people you thought were family stop talking to you (albeit because the other person is their priority, for a while - or at least that's what you have to tell yourself if you want to cope with losing them, too.) I can only hope that, as he's forgiven me (even if he didn't know what to forgive me for, until I gave him a list of suggestions) that they can find forgiveness, too, in time.

When nobody wants me… it just feels all a bit… when it all ends in heartbreak, what's the point in even hoping, anymore?"
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Everyone is home this weekend for a change, so we are all sitting down for a roast "like a family". It's my job to acquire the chicken. I was told to go out early before butcher ran out; I knew this wouldn't go well because I didn't sleep til 1am having taken Ritalin at 8pm.

But I didn't realise how little my brain would function.

Me: "I'm looking for a chicken."
Butcher: "What kind?"
Me: "…a dead one?"
Butcher: *falls apart laughing* "Medium or large?"

I need coffee.
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
I am visiting a friend in Cambridge, who is doing a super stressful course and needed some cheering up. I got started before I even arrived;

Kieran: (Texting me around the time that my delayed train is due.) Are you here?
Me: No, I'm here.
Kieran: Where? I'm outside.
Me: On a train.

(I've wanted to use that line for years.)

Once my train finally arrived, we had to cycle to his flat around 2 miles south-west of the train station. This was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that Cambridge has been experiencing north-easterly gale force winds for the last two weeks or so (which we, of course, had to cycle directly into).

Upon seeing the lovely smooth and flat cycle path however, I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking it would make life a lot easier. And that was probably my mistake.

Around 1.5 miles into the journey, in something resembling a comedy sketch, an extremely strong sidewind joined forces with the headwind we were fighting, and took my bike right out from under me. Fortunately, the wind buffeted my fall, but did mean that I had one of those "I'm going to fall off my bike now" sense of doom moments before actually hitting the ground.

I decided I was fine, dusted myself off, pushed the bike upright, and began to use it to help me stand up.

But of course, the gale that we've been riding into is still smashing into us, and no sooner had I raised my centre of gravity even a foot from the ground, I was back on my arse again, this time with the bike on top of me.

Meanwhile, Kieran (who had been merrily cycling off into the distance) suddenly realises that I've stopped talking/yelling, and turns round to see me lying on the floor under my bike, flailing like an upside-down insect, and starts laughing at me.

(We followed all of this up with going to see the Lego Movie, by car because it seemed rather more sensible, and that has had us spontaneously cracking up ever since leaving the SPACESHIP! cinema.

I wonder what hijinks tomorrow and Monday morning will bring.
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
I've just arrived home to find a parcel from Glasses Direct on our kitchen table, containing the two new pairs of glasses I ordered last week. So excited was I by this, that before even removing my hat, coat and scarf, I opened the parcel and tried on the new eyewear.

I then sat down grabbed my laptop, opened it up, and... squinted at the screen. I reorientated the laptop so that it wasn't reflecting sunlight from the window behind me... and still could not see.

I tapped the brightness increase button on my keyboard, only to find that the screen was already at maximum brightness.

And then I remembered that I was still wearing my new sunglasses.

Error 404: Coffee not found.
tajasel: photo of me lay in the grass, warm light. (summer)
So never date a girl who travels unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don’t you dare keep her. Let her go.

No. Just… no.

I have wanderlust. I dream of travelling and of exploring new places, and I will again, someday. New places: Prague, Berlin, Australia, Portland, Japan, Auschwitz, Sweden. Places I've been before and have to see again: the Alps, NYC, Amsterdam, Orlando, Paris (yes, really), San Francisco.

And I am writing this because that thing up there, about not dating girls who travel? The point the author was trying to make, the intention behind it, it makes a lump come up in my throat, and tears prickle at my eyes.

See, I am the kind of girl who would rather go rock climbing than hear about your new car. But that’s not because I’m a girl who travels; it’s because I like climbing and I’m wholly unfussed about cars.

I don't want to work my ass off for someone else's dream - but that's why I'm following my own dream. And I will also follow creative pursuits, but that’s not because I’m a girl who travels, it’s because I’m creative.

Yes, I have switched careers entirely, several times, and my photography degree probably isn’t worth very much at all really - but what I learned about myself whilst I was working for it was far more significant than anything I took out my student loans for.

And I don’t regret a moment of it.

No, I don't know where I will be living in five years, but that's OK, because I know that wherever it is, I know that in getting there, I will have made the most of my life.

Yes, I speak my mind, and I won’t try to impress anyone, but that’s because I know that those worthy of my love, respect, kindness and friendship will love and like me for who I am, and if/when I mess up, they may point it out, they may criticise, but they won’t leave my side, because friends worth having, they try to understand. They may not forget but they will hopefully forgive, because they know that I will try to learn from my mistakes, and my true friends, they will not leave my side.

Yes, I enjoy cooking, and I do it well. But I want to share my food with you, and all my other experiences, too.

Yes, I am independent, and although travelling alone does have a certain freedom to it, there is an incredible value to exploring and seeing new places with somebody who will share those memories with me in seventy years. And I might talk to strangers now and again, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want, or won’t remember, to talk to you.

You are not boring: you are different. And that’s why you are wonderful.

My wanderlust, my travels of the past and my dreams for the future - they are only a part of me.

I do need you. I need you, because for all that I travel, I am not an island.

Don’t let me go.


ETA: it seems that Don't Date A Girl Who Travels is in fact a parody of Date A Girl Who Travels, and the author sadly did not see fit to credit their inspiration. I like the original much more;

"What you are is enough."
"She knows that oftentimes, the journey is more important than the destination."
"Don't lose her with your insecurities and doubts. Because when she says she loves you, she really does. After all, she's seen so many things, met so many people..."
"If she says she loves you, she must have seen something in you, something that can always call her back from her travels..."

And that ending. Oh, that ending.

"Date a girl who travels. Make her feel safe, warm, and secure. Make her believe that no matter where she goes, and however long she's gone, you'll always be there for her, the one that she can call home. Find a girl who travels. Date her, love her, and marry her, and your world will never be the same again."

That ending is just fucking beautiful.
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Find the nearest book to you, turn to page 45, and read the first sentence: this describes your sex life in 2014.
And all over the world, they began to wake up.

Strangely related to last year's result (and depending how you read it, already quite accurate!). Long may this continue ;)

(The title of this post is the final line of p44, and although it doesn't do much for context, it really works for this post!)
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
When I moved from London to Manchester in 2011, I asked a friend to help me with a project I was beginning, and as time passed, I found myself growing closer and closer to him. At the time, the idea of he and I dating was impossible, though we did become very good friends, and when a destructive relationship came to an end in late 2012, he was the one who came to rescue me, sit with me, hold me and let me cry.

In a way, it seemed quite ironic that at the same time as my world was being outraged by the concept of Mr Nice Guy, I began to develop feelings for him: he'd been on the periphery of my social circles, just generally being an outstanding person, for about two or three years, and then when I needed someone to look after me, he appeared and supported me, but of course, he wasn't the trope Nice Guy: he asked for nothing more than friendship in return.

He gave me some rolls of film and we went shooting together. He reminded me how to develop my own films, and helped me find my passion again. He bought me coffee and gave me hugs and listened whilst I talked, and he didn't offer advice or try to fix me; he was just there. He took me to a goth night on New Year's Eve, to take photos and dance the year away, and when he asked for a kiss at midnight, I remember feeling like nothing that had been bad was important anymore.

We talked the next day; I confessed that I had feelings for him, but that I didn't think he liked me in that way, but of course he already knew, and he did, and the kiss was his way of letting me know. But he reminded me that I needed time to heal, and said that right there and then, he wanted to be my friend first and foremost, to help me through the shitty time I was going through, and we agreed that we shouldn't rush anything. Over the next few weeks, he became one of my best friends, and somewhere along the line, we fell in love.

As the months passed, he inspired me to take more photographs. He pushed me to join the ranks of the Apocalypse Girls photographers, and helped me arrange my first shoots. He passed the role of ArA's photographer onto me. He looked into my eyes and without any words at all, he made me feel like one of the most important people in his world. He helped me learn, and grow, and change. He encouraged me to find love with others. He taught me to make an incredible curry, and made me laugh until my sides ached.

When he told me on November 1st that he wasn't in love with me anymore, I stared into my lap and tried my hardest not to cry, as my heart split into hundreds of tiny pieces. He sat next to me with his arms around me, and I knew he was being completely truthful as he told me that he did still love me and didn't want us to break up, but all was not as it had been. I somehow managed to keep my composure as I said that maybe, if both of us wanted to be together, we should keep trying to make it work. He agreed, but as the days passed, I came to accept that the disparity in our feelings for each other was too great, that trying to force a relationship would be too painful, and a week later, we agreed to go back to being "just friends".

I fucking hate that phrase. There is no just about our friendship, and there never will be.

Last night, I went dancing again, and we wrapped our arms around each other as the midnight bells tolled and people sang Auld Lang Syne, before he ran away to his decks to play the perfect track to open a new year, and I followed to dance with all the energy I had.

And then it hit me, like a punch in the stomach, the bittersweetness of the moment winded me. From a kiss full of hope, to a hug with an air of finality. I slipped off the dancefloor and into the little room at the side of the church, knowing my absence would be noticed eventually, but that I needed a little quiet time to myself first. A few people dropped in, chatted, and left again.

At the end of his set, he came and sat next to me, and when he told me he'd noticed me slip away, I explained through my tears what was going on in my head. That I was mourning for what we'd had, yes, but that I felt so lucky to have been his partner at all. How our relationship had helped me to grow and become a better person, strengthened our friendship, and helped me rekindle my passion for photography. He told me he was proud of me for finding my way in life again, and it took everything I had not to fall apart. I thanked him, and told him I couldn't have done it without him, and he hugged me tighter.

With impeccable timing, the PA boomed out the opening bars of a tune I knew, and I looked into his eyes.

"Let's dance."
"Yeah, let's dance."

So we did. I closed my eyes, and I danced, and when someone cursed at me for dancing too wildly, I laughed, because this time last year, I stood awkwardly at the side of the room admiring those who had the confidence to let themselves move so freely. When VNV Nation seamlessly transitioned into Bad Romance, I cheered and sang along and danced more. After I'd been dancing a while, my feet began to object to the weight of my boots, and noticing people milling around where I'd been taking photos, I returned to my camera to snap and chat. The Cure came on, and he danced with me again. We ran into the side room again to deconstruct the mini studio I had set up, and we finished just in time for the final song.

He shouted "CONGA LINE!", and Kolyn grabbed hold of him, and I grabbed hold of Kolyn, and Laura grabbed hold of me, and we went snaking around the revellers, collecting more dancers as we went, laughing at a group of vampires who stood at the door mocking us even as our line grew, and then when the lights went up and the music faded, I stood in the middle of the dancefloor, clinging onto him with one hand and the stitch in my waist with the other, and I laughed and laughed.

We loaded up the car with the photography gear, I called shotgun because my poor feet were aching from the dancing, and Laura hopped in the back, then we all chatted together about love and relationships and how we're all slaves, to feline creatures and deadlines, and we each resolved to take on a new project for the coming year (mine: Project 365). When he pulled up outside my house, he turned to me and wrapped his arms around me again.

"You did great. Do 2014 even better."
"I will. You too. Together?"

He kissed me goodbye, and it felt different this time. I'm not in love anymore, either.

I let myself into the house, where I remembered that I am alone for the next several days, and I cried for three hours, until the birds outside began to sing, and I had nothing left.
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
1. Was 2013 a good year for you?
YES! I mean, I've had a bad few days here and there of course, but for the first time in a very long time, I actually think it's an been overwhelmingly positive year.

2. What are some of the things you did in 2013, that you'd never done before?
Scored over 80% in an academic assessment (and not just once, but three times - out of three!)
Worked on a mental health impatient ward, as both a nursing assistant and student nurse.
Gave someone an injection.
Went indoor skydiving.
Co-organised a BiCon, which was attended by manylots of peopel (more than any other non-international BiCon, as I understand it)
Knitted an ENTIRE (baby) BLANKET. Out of double-knit yarn. Took foreverrrr. (But reminded me how much I love knitting, so yay!)

3. What was your favourite moment of the year?
I think when I rolled over the morning of January 28th, and did the first bleary-eyed scan of my overnight mobile notifications, to find that I had an offer for my first choice university. This trumps just about everything (although brilliant assignment marks and placement experiences come very close.)

More more more!. )
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Good bit of having a seen exam: I get to see questions in advance.
Bad bit of having a seen exam: the questions.

(Well, not the questions, because I know what I want my answers to be - it's just remembering those answers...)

The questions were released at 10am on Friday, I got to see them at 11am. By 11:35, I was on a train to the library to acquire books.

At 12:10, as I walked up to the library, I realised that because I am a total ADHD-brained spoon, my wallet, containing the student card that gains me access to the library, and permission to remove books from the building, was at home on the kitchen table.
By 12:30, my distinctive rainbow coloured hat had gained me access to the building, and agreement that I could leave any books I wanted in a locker for a few hours, whilst I went home again to get my card.

After a few hours of revision, at 15:30, I went to put the books in a locker and discovered I needed a £1 coin to do so. I had a £1 coin... in my wallet. On the kitchen table at home.

I managed to persuade a friendly librarian to leave the books behind the counter for me to pick up:
Librarian: "But you're asking to hide books from other students so that they can't borrow them. I can't let you do that."
Me:"If I had my library card with me, I'd be hiding them IN MY HOUSE and they wouldn't be able to borrow them then."
Librarian:"Oh, I suppose you're right..."

I returned home, with books, at 18:00, had dinner, and revised for another couple of hours before going to bed. At 05:30, I was up again, so that I could be on the 06:35 train to uni and get into the library. Strangely enough, a university campus is like the zombie apocalypse at 7am on Saturday morning. I had the entire three floors of the library to myself, except for the snoozing security guard.

Got home again at 08:45, did another couple of hours revision at home, had brunch at 11, went to work at 12, got home at 20:50, reheated Friday night's leftovers for dinner, did more revision.

...woke up drooling into a textbook at 09:30 this morning, because the cat was trying to eat my foot.

No, really.

Fed the cat actual cat food, did more revision. Still feel like I'm remembering nothing.

I should probably take a break sometime soon. Lunch might be a good idea.


Sep. 23rd, 2013 10:05 am
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
You know that thing where you get off a bus and there's 55 minutes until your train and there's a bookshop right there? And the train station's only about a 10 minute walk, so having a look can't do any harm, right?

So you wander in and kneel in front of the shelves holding the books on the reading list for your next module and...


I am on my train, thank expletive. Not awake enough for this, this morning.
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Today, the free paper Metro handed out to commuters who are too tired to say "no thanks" published an interview with Star Trek actress Eve Alice, which included the following two gems of questions:

Did you consider yourself a geek before you landed Star Trek?
This has become a bugbear of mine: the difference between geek and nerd. The derivation of geek from the ancient Greek is people who would do weird things to their faces. It’s sort of an external expression of internal angst. A nerd is something really not good. Simon Pegg told me the etymology the other day. It’s basically someone who’s specific in their knowledge and knows a lot about that particular thing. So I am a nerd, not a geek.

What are you a nerd about?
Clothes, shoes, nails and jewellery. That’s the female version of nerdy, isn’t it? Our depth of investigation into the minutiae of nothing is Sex And The City.

Potted summary: geeks just do weird things to their faces, nerds are "really not good" and, despite that, she considers herself a "female nerd" because she really likes clothes, shoes, nails and jewellery.

I mean, what.

Didn't the nerd vs geek war die already? I thought xkcd successfully summed the whole damn thing up in no. 747?

Alt:The definitions I grew up with were that a geek is someone unusually into something (so you could have computer geeks, baseball geeks, theater geeks, etc) and nerds are (often awkward) science, math, or computer geeks. But definitions vary.

And "female version of nerdy"? What is she trying to achieve here, making the "fake geek girl" accusation seem socially acceptable? I mean, OK, one can be a geek/nerd about those things but the only pre-requisites to being a female geek/nerd are identifying as female and being interested/passionate about something, whether it be photography (hi!), gaming, or indeed fashion.

I thought, as a society, we had moved on from this stuff? I mean, honestly, I give up.
tajasel: photo of me lay in the grass, warm light. (summer)
I appear to have successfully circumnavigated an entire sun 26 times. Go me!

A small but wonderful collection of friends came round yesterday to celebrate by way of a barbecue, and we basically just chatted and played board games until midnight, a very chilled and wonderful party.

I also made a truly marvellous raspberry and mint cheesecake, which lasted all of about 10 minutes from cutting to the last slice being enjoyed.


I'm not generally in the habit of gift-bragging, but I was most pleased by the books about photography, a set of neutral density grad filters, trips to Alton Towers and photopit access at a VNV Nation gig (in September and November respectively), and new headphones.

Leftover barbecue notmeat was enjoyed for breakfast, and then [twitter.com profile] maznu and I did some CSS hackery for my soon-to-be-relaunched photography website, finally finishing the structure and layout, leaving me with photoshoots to get published (for Apocalypse Girls) and some street photography to do at Manchester Pride in a couple of weeks. (For this, I have acquired some super-saturated colour film from the land of eBay, made in Fuji's factory by Fuji but sold with a different label on it for half Fuji's price - success!)

James and I then went climbing, because our usual indoor wall allows people to climb for free on their birthday, and [twitter.com profile] maznu observed and took photos (with some hilarious results that will of course make it onto the internet in the next few days). Then we came home, did more website hackery, ate more leftover notmeats, cuddled and watched TV, and then he went home and left me to make soup to take on placement with me the rest of this week.

In short, a happy weekend, hooray :)
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
I've been thinking this week, about being a Londoner.

I wasn’t born there, and I no longer live there, but I experienced a weird feeling of being home when I stepped off my coach at Victoria on Saturday. I first declared that city my second home half a decade ago, and it feels like nothing and everything has changed.

I was so engrossed in my book that I hadn't noticed our pace slow as we left the motorway, and I looked up and out of the window somewhere near Finsbury Park, and seeing a familiar red bus, and roundels everywhere, and I felt this sense of happiness and calm.

And when I think about what people say "makes" a Londoner, it's the daft things like knowing where to stand on the Tube platform, so that when you get off the train again you can make your escape quickly, and instinctively knowing where your Oyster is at all times. It's knowing that if you want to change from the Victoria to Northern line, you should avoid Euston at all costs and go for Warren Street instead. It's looking at the lights lining the Thames after the sun has set, and loving them like you would stars in the country. It's having a favourite indie coffee shop. It's being defensive about which side of the river is better - south, in case you hadn't realised. It's the comforting rumble of the Tube trains you profess to hate (and your Twitter app remembering the hashtag #TfaiL, for ease of making your friends in other cities cringe and sigh...)

I will always be a Northern lass, as I put it over the weekend, a Mancunian even. ([twitter.com profile] tomscott remarked, somehow surprised: "your accent has got so much more Manchester while you've been gone!", as if I'd only really left for a holiday...)

...but I reckon I'm still a Londoner too, in a small way.

Even if I do make eye contact with people on the bus now and again.

tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Nursing degrees don't quite work like normal degrees. Instead of studying for most of the year (bar a couple of weeks mid-winter) and then getting almost three months off over the summer, the academic year runs March to March (for my cohort) and I'm allotted 7 weeks annual leave per year (a generous 3 extra weeks on top of AL given to newly qualified nurses working for the NHS). So when I found out when my weeks off for the year were, I planned this trip to Oxford, having promised myself a weekend off from the rest of life when I last visited back in December. (At the time I made myself that promise, I didn't know I'd be studying already, or even at all, which has made the weekend away even more valuable.)

So it's been great! We kickstarted the weekend with a return to George & Danver, because what trip to Oxford is complete without G&Ds ice cream? I had a coffee waffle sundae topped with nuts and hot chocolate fudge sauce, to celebrate my exam results (85% hellyeah!) and reaching my goal weight (mmm, delicious irony).

It was incredibly tasty, and even bigger than it looks in the photo. I struggled to finish it. I may have to go back to brownie next time...

On Saturday, Dan and I went geocaching, intending to cycle down the road to the cyclepath along the river and grabbing part of a new series that have popped up called "On yer bike". After the first cache, Dan said "before we go, it looks like there's another one not too far from here..." and that turned into another one, which was a multicache that we had to abandon our bikes to retrieve because... well, off-piste wouldn't do that particular adventure justice, and then we finally got "On yer bike 1" ... on foot.


Somewhere in the middle of it all, we found a caterpillar whose face bore a slight resemblance to that of a badger.

So then we had to explore the woods again, to find our bikes. By this point, all that was on either of our minds was a delicious cold drink, so we headed home for dinner. I made curry for everyone, and we played Charades, Articulate! and Cards Against Humanity.

Today, we had a lazy morning and I asked Dan to be my good conscience and stop me buying my red dress. His attempts to do this could be summed up as: "when I'm looking at sale items, if I know I can afford it soon, I'll buy them whilst they're cheap" and at the point at which I realised I'd already worked the hours I needed to to pay for about 75% of not just a beautiful red glitzy dress but a bright purple petticoat to wear underneath it as well... all that stood between me and my debit card was checking with the store which size I should probably be wearing. And they were very helpful...

I then went out geocaching again, solo this time, and picked up another four (bringing my total, both this year and for the weekend, to nine) and remembered how much I really enjoy it, and that I should do it again. I got to explore some more of Radley, and hoover up the others within a sensible circular route of Earth, as my hosts are buying a house on the other side of Oxford at the moment, which means I almost certainly won't return here again. At one point, my GPS literally led me into a tree, and when I looked up upon emerging (having found the geocache buried in its bowels) I felt bizarrely like I'd come out in rural USA rather than Oxfordshire:

Anyway, I am back on Earth now, and thinking about packing my rucksack up again ready for the train home, as the weekend appears to have passed far too quickly again, but also about all the other exciting things happening soon:
  • Several photoshoots this week, both as photographer and model
  • London next weekend! (Pembury, 6pm, Saturday, be there!)
  • Two parties the weekend after - one for Stockport Beer Festival volunteers, and one for Simon's birthday
  • Edinburgh the following weekend
  • Shooting with Apocalypse Girls in Nottingham at the end of July
  • The day after that, I go out on placement again, for two months this time... fortunately Monday-Friday 9-5!
  • First weekend of August: my birthday BBQ, and climbing at Awesome Walls on the day itself
  • Then Alison's wedding party
  • St John Ambulance training weekend (which is probably unexciting in and of itself, but it does mean I will be able to go on duty again soon, which I haven't done for many many months!
  • After that it's Pride weekend, and photography opportunities galore...
  • And then James turns 17, and we're having a birthday BBQ for him too

...which takes us to my next free weekend, the 7th/8th September (which may find me in Oxford for a housewarming...)

I like to keep busy :)
tajasel: photo of me lay in the grass, warm light. (summer)
OK, confession time.

Weight-loss discussion and photos )

I'm still very much in favour of the Health at Every Size and fat+ movements, only now I've discovered that I wasn't as healthy as I thought when I was bigger, and now that I am healthier, fitter and leaner, I feel wonderful.

I've achieved a hell of a lot for myself and my health, and I wanted to finally share it. So to those who have known what I've been up to and have supported me, thank you. I couldn't have done this without you <3

Wearing a corset in Maz's kitchen studio today Studio portrait from today's after shoot
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Yesterday, I arrived home from my night out at 5am, slept for five hours curled up in the armchair downstairs, and then went out cycling with my mum. MADNESS.

It was actually quite relaxing - apart from the new traffic system in Poynton, where a motorist took pedestrians, cyclists and cars having shared priority to mean "if I have to wait, then you have to wait too" and suddenly pulled over as mum tried to (entirely legally) filter past his stationary car - causing her to stop just as suddenly, and me (having just clipped into my step-in pedals) to fall over sideways... he then drove away the moment the traffic cleared, leaving me lying in the road trapped under my bike as my leg spasmed with cramp, and mum and a kind stranger trying to unclip my foot from the pedal.

I love motorists, I really do.

Other than that, though, it was all lovely - we got to Pott Shrigley with no further bruises or bashes, and I made it up the hill to Green Close chapel without stopping, which has always defeated me before now.

We met Dan there, had coffee and a baked potato each (well, coffee cake in the case of mum) and then shared a mahoosive bowl of fresh juicy strawberries.

Then, I said to mum, "why don't we take a different route home?" - so she fished out her A-Z and said, "well, there's always the old brickworks..." and Dan said "isn't that Kettleshulme way? It'll be a bit lumpy..." but I said "that's fine!" figuring I fancied testing myself.

So we turned the other way out of the Coffee Tavern car park, and headed for the brickworks, and mum began to tell me about how it was a popular training ride amongst Manchester cyclists, and one which she had avoided for around 20 years. I began to feel full of confidence (and a hint of sarcasm).

The route completely redefined "a bit lumpy" with one climb alone gaining us over 1000 feet - and yet I managed to do all the climbs without stopping to walk once. (We won't talk about how many times I hopped off at summits to sit down and wait for poor old mum.)

It was hard, hard work, but so worth it, for the view as much as getting to the top and looking behind me and seeing what I'd achieved. Fitness: I has it!

On the way back down from the summit, there was a hill that I was zipping down at 36mph (with brakes on!) and then I saw the climb back out of the valley on the other side and began to pedal... and there was no friction. My chain had slipped off, and I'm still going at 30mumble miles an hour thinking "oh shit oh shit oh shit" ... I managed to freewheel up about three-quarters of the other side before I had to unclip to avoid a second tumble. (OK, so that was one hill I walked up part of.)

By the time we got home, we'd covered 22 miles and 3008.5 feet of ascent. (The extra six inches is vital when you're talking these kind of numbers, evidently.) We're both a little sore today - surprisingly my arms and back the most, presumably down to standing on some of the climbs to power up them faster. In fact, I was going to go swimming this morning, but have decided that perhaps I should nip into the pool on the way home from my work induction tomorrow instead... :)

tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Cynical brain: so that's how Yahoo are financing Tumblr - by screwing over photographers.

Rational brain: so before, I paid $25/year for unlimited space with no advertising. Now (because my pro account lapsed without warning) I get to pay double for less space, and as an added bonus, the pleasure of providing Yahoo with an advertising platform. Forgive me if I don't understand which bit I'm meant to be impressed by?

I guess the time has come for me to finally redevelop thisiskatie.co.uk as a portfolio website rather than a photoblog. (In the copious spare time I have between exam revision, doing a full-time work placement, helping to run a conference and getting enough sleep, of course.)
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
In October last year, a skydiver called Felix Baumgartner leapt out of a helium ballon and did a 4 minute 20 second freefall through space, before parachuting to Earth. In a genius marketing ploy, indoor skydiving company Airkix offered the equivalent amount of time in one of their windtunnels for £42. (I don't recall seeing a reference to the life, the universe and everything in the publicity - either I missed it, or they missed a trick. Anyway.)

Yesterday, I finally got round to cashing in my voucher for some flight time, and it was truly amazing :D they broke my voucher down into two lots of 1'15" and one super long 1'50" flight (the third one being almost the equivalent to a tandem skydive) - and on the last one, I was given the chance to spiral to the top of the tunnel with the instructor, and then freefall to the bottom again. It was AMAZING.


[twitter.com profile] maznu is now talking about us doing a bungee jump over Salford Quays :)
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Favourite moment of university so far is my anatomy lecturer's scathing criticism of vampires seen on a TV documentary:
"These self-described vampires, they use anti-clotting agents when they phlebotomise their mates, so that they don't end up like flat-cap wearing Lancashire blokes chowing down on a black pudding... the mix of intelligence and sheer stupidity is astounding."

Student life continues to be excellent. The workload is intense but manageable, I'm maintaining a social life both in and out of uni, and I'm utterly knackered but still very excited.

Tomorrow I find out where my first placement will be, which means that although I'm on a self-directed study day, I will probably be awake at an ungodly hour so that I can type up last week's lecture notes continuously hit refresh on the Blackboard site.

tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf on (Default)
Last night, I was cooking something, and suddenly, it caught my attention that a bunsen burner over the stove had set fire to a salt pot on the shelf above.

I calmly commented to my mum that a pepper pot was on fire, and she said "no it isn't", to which I replied "no, you're right, it's the salt pot", and then I started trying to blow the salt pot fire out. Of course, as soon as I extinguished the salt pot, the bunsen burner beneath it started the fire once again. I'm not sure why, looking back, I didn't think to remove the fuel source from the bunsen burner - instead, I just kept blowing. And blowing. And blowing.

Unfortunately for poor [twitter.com profile] maznu, it was the early hours of the morning, and moments earlier he had been sleeping peacefully next to me, but in my unconscious state, I thought his face was the fire, and he was brutally woken by the full force of my lung capacity.