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28 · genderqueer (they/them) · neurodiverse · spoonie · queer · relationship anarchist · ally · burned out activist · geek · photographer · cyclist · knitter · explorer · creator · lover · thinker ·
tajasel: Katie, wearing a helmet and bike glasses. (bike bike bike)
Today, I did the August Strava Gran Fondo of 150km, and also established that my upper limit for a day of cycling is probably about 145km.

Had I not been very conscious that:
a) it takes a very long time to cycle 150km
b) I had set off 2 hours late anyway
c) my mobile battery is terrible and if I'm out of the house for 12 hours without access to electricity it basically needs to stay in airplane mode all the time.

…then I probably would have tweeted sentiments approximating the following (and a few other things that I have since forgotten):

  • You know you're in deepest darkest Cheshire when the only business you've seen for miles is hydrotherapy for horses.
  • "I can do 150km easily enough in Cheshire, it's quite flat" is probably true when you don't forget that Alderley Edge is built on an actual cliff.
  • Motorists who use unlit country roads at night, see white light coming towards them and don't dim their bloody high beams are THE WORST KIND OF MOTORISTS. Off-road cycling whilst temporarily blinded and unable to see the edge of the road was not on my agenda and I'm a bit grumpy about that, er, emergency motion?
  • 1km from home, 11pm, drunkards yelled "Tour de France is over luv!" at me and - I'm quite proud of this one, because I'm not very witty very often, and never spontaneously - I replied: "I'm on the Vuelta mate, which way's Spain from here?"


Places I stopped:
  1. Sandbach Waitrose - tasty, had treacle tarts and excellent bike parking. Had been intending to go to café opposite but menu was not gluten-free friendly (for my lunch companion), nor was it budget-friendly, and I'm not sure my Lycra would have quite fit in with the rest of the clientele's attire…
  2. Co-operative Food, Audlem - had meant to go to Priest's House Café, following excellent reviews from other cyclists, but arrived 5 minutes after they closed. Had roadside picnic instead. It was alright - potato wedges, orange juice and Jaffa Cakes. Who needs nutritional value anyway.
  3. Hazel Pear, Acton Bridge - tasty and very cheap food, cold drinks, handed me water without me needing to ask when I just stared glassy-eyed at the menu unable to think. Later on, not only let me charge my phone behind the bar but also went to find a charger to do so, since I didn't have mine. Highly highly highly recommended.


That will have to suffice for a ride report because I didn't take any photos, and I'm really really tired…
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
(CN: obesity, body negativity)

Someone on a friend's repost of this journo request posted to [twitter.com profile] getinthesea claimed: "obesity is not a disability, it's a life choice".

My reply was to tell them they were wrong, followed up with:

"What about people who have to take medications known to cause obesity in order to control other health problems? Look up: chlorpromazine, clozapine, amitryptyline, aripriprazole, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone.

What about people with diabetes? Did you know the insulin that some diabetics need to stay alive causes obesity?

What about people who are paralysed and CAN'T be active, who instead have muscle wastage that turns to fat that they can't easily get rid of? For that matter, what about people with degenerative muscle-wasting diseases?

What about people with hypothyroidism, the very definition of which is not having the hormones required to maintain a good metabolism and burn off calories well?

What about people who became obese as a result of a disability rendering them bed-ridden and unable to live their life, now unable to function "normally" because of the obesity they've ended up with through no CHOICE of their own?

What about people living on or even below the poverty line, unable to afford "good food" that keeps them healthy?

No, not all of these things cause obesity in all people - but there is peer-reviewed evidence backing up everything I've just said showing that your statement "obesity is not a disability, it's a life choice" is nothing more than bigoted rubbish. But then I should have expected as much from someone who openly admits to agreeing with Katie Hopkins and thinks women's magazines do no harm whatsoever to the mental health and self-esteem of women who see glossy magazines staring down at them instructing them to be skinny in order to be a good person.

Some people have become obese through overeating and inactivity, yes. And they may be quite happy about that, or not. The important thing is that that's their choice and unless they invite it, nobody else's business."


He also complained that said friend using sarcasm in response to the suggestion that women's magazine journalism is unimportant was patronising; I *may* have said it's no wonder some people feel the need to post such comments.

…why do I always get into arguments like this at bedtime?!

tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Here ensues at least two months of trying to remember how old I am.

It has been a hell of a year. But comparing this time last year to right now, I wouldn't change how and who I am now.

I've made and lost friends along the way, of course, and I'm more OK with what I have left than I thought I would be. My health is better in most ways, my fitness is better and I'm noticably physically stronger. My financial situation is still dire, but slowly improving and less stressful. I have new interests, and renewed love for old ones. I'm happier and calmer, busier, and happy about it.

Special thoughts tonight to people who have made space in their lives for me this year, whether for quick chats or longer escapes, distraction or talking, games and laughter or... well, more games and laughter, I think.

I will definitely be going to bed with a smile on my face tonight. Bring on the next 365 days.
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tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Yesterday I rode my first Audax sans-[personal profile] damerell, and have now officially failed to finish more Audaxes than I have successfully completed, which is not quite the achievement I was hoping for.

It was meant to be a very hilly ride - starting in Marple, up into Glossop and Hadfield, past the reservoirs and over Holme Moss (one of the categorised climbs from the Tour de France's Grand Depart in Yorkshire last summer), then down into Langsett and Midhopestones and Strines, and then back into the Peak District through Edale, Chinley, New Mills and finishing again in Marple.

Well, it was a very hilly ride, and I did make it up to the summit of Holme Moss, with a bicycle, using only the power of my legs.

At the summit of Holme Moss


I also enjoyed descending the hills, and spotting road paintings leftover from when the TdF came past last summer.

Ey Up! / Go Yates Go! Allez Allez Jens!
Shut Up Legs Vive Le Tour!


However, I did come undone a little on a hairy descent out of Midhopestones - taking a corner much wider than I should have and probably somewhat faster too - I know that I was going for 66kph on the approach to the corner; I was braking heavily so probably didn't hit the ground at that speed, but still a little too fast. Unfortunately, on a 25% reverse-incline with a tailwind, there's a lot of factors against you...

So that goes some way to explaining why my front wheel was the wrong shape when I dropped the bike off at my local bike shop this morning, and also why I've got a small-ish rugby-ball shaped lump on my elbow, and why I had the help of Northern Rail to avoid the final big climb of the day (Mam Nick) - which is why I officially didn't finish the ride.

On arrival at the ride rendezvous point, the ride organiser (an old family friend) offered to take me and my bike home and deliver me to the A&E department up the road, where I hung about for three hours or so, had a number of X-rays, and eventually got sent home with painkillers and the good news that nothing was chipped, fractured or otherwise broken.

I have acute neck/shoulder pain today, leaving me wondering if I did bang my head after all (I knew that I hadn't lost consciousness, but didn't know if I'd hit my head or not) - but I'm at work until Saturday morning so unless it gets any worse I'm just going to assume whiplash.

Incidentally, how to make a hospital receptionist really struggle not to laugh at you:
"What's the problem?"
"I came off my bike and my elbow is the wrong shape."
"Was it an RTC?"
"No, just stupidity."


Think I'll stay away from hills for a little while.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Written end of July 2015, post-dated to the day of the ride for some kind of historical accuracy.

The website I use to log my cycle rides, Strava, has monthly challenges one can enter, which include km-per-month (starting at 250km and increasing in increments of same up to 1250km) and also a "Gran Fondo" - usually 100km in a single ride, but during the summer months, they encourage you to get out on your bike more by progressively increasing the distance to 115km in June, 130km in July and 150km in August. In June, I hit the first one by adding the extra distance onto the end of the Great Manchester Cycle, but for July, I invented my own ride: getting myself from home, across the Pennines and to a lovely cycling café I discovered in York last year.

Fisheye photo of Katie, standing with their bike ahead of their big ride to York


I set off at about 9am, and immediately my GPS began to worry me, telling me that Strava's estimated ride time of 5.5 hours was out by an hour and that I should have left at around 8am instead in order to get there at the same time as the Yorkshire-based friends I'd planned to meet. Indeed, a quick bit of mental arithmetic as I made my way to the main road, and I began to realise the GPS was probably right; I usually ride at about 20kph, so I was looking at 5 hours just for the first century, never mind the final 33km after it.

I figured, nothing I could do for it except update the friends and say I'd just let them know when I was about an hour out of York, so they could make their respective ways to the cafe.

About an hour later, I realised things had gone slightly wrong again: as I passed a sign labelled "Woodhead", I realised that I wasn't on the right road. I mean, I was, in that my GPS was telling me that I was going in the right direction - but my grand plan for crossing the Pennines was to use the utterly beautiful Snake Pass, not the HGV-filled Woodhead Pass.

Thankfully, I struck lucky with the traffic - I guess that's the perk of riding on a Saturday morning:

Another lone cyclist, on the Woodhead Pass


In the end, I think I probably made the right call route-planning over Woodhead; it was actually remarkably not-very-steep at all, more of a windy and slow ascent, and quite pleasant on a quiet morning.

There weren't many photos for the rest of the ride; I was conscious of time creeping along, so my only records between then and the café were a video of some roadside chemistry in the form of sachets of electrolyte drink and 1500mls of water, with the recording stopped rapidly, as I realised I was shaking my bottle too hard and it was going to explode - and a celebratory snapshot of the sign welcoming me to the County of North Yorkshire.

I texted shortly after, from Selby, giving the one hour warning to friends and my mum, who had decided when I was somewhere near Barnsley to hop on a train and see if she could beat me there - she did, although I think TransPennine Express gave her quite the unfair advantage! - and almost exactly an hour later, I pulled to a stop outside the café, and looked down at my GPS/clock just in time to hear Kieran say "And what time do you call this?!" - to which I happily replied: "5 hours and 11 minutes of moving time since I left home, so about 20 minutes earlier than expected!"

(OK, so I was also about an hour later than planned; I blame the Yorkshire hills and my faulty lungs for that. The "moving time" is the important figure to me!)

So then there was all the food, fruit juice, delicious cake, and a celebratory photo at York station before getting the train home:

Celebrations with the bike in York


Next adventure: Dark Peak Grimpeur, a 106km randonneur with many many hills - my first Audax not on the back of [personal profile] damerell's tandem. Hoping to take the camcorder out that I received last Christmas with the intent of video-blogging my time in Finland, and doing an on-the-move ride report...
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Written July 2015, post-dated to the day of the ride for some kind of historical accuracy.

Last month I did the Great Manchester Cycle for the second time; the 52 mile distance again, but the difference this time being that I started cycle-commuting earlier this year, and whilst I only started riding real distances... well, on the day of the GMC, it's definitely helped with my fitness levels to be on my bike almost every day for the best part of six months!

The day was plagued from the beginning, with a puncture before I even started; thankfully, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op were on hand to give me a new tube and get me to the start line with minutes to spare...

Bicycle being fixed by a mechanic At the start line of GMC 2015


I was riding with a colleague, at least up until mile 10, where she overtook a few slower cyclists ahead of us, and I wasn't able to catch her straightaway, and since she has a faster pace than I do, she was long gone by the time I'd passed the slow bunch in front of me. We exchanged a few texts along the route, but in the end we didn't see each other again til the finish line.

About a third of the way into the second lap of the 13 mile route, I heard a familiar hissing from my back tyre and realised I had another puncture - upon inspection, there was a stone pushing its way through the rim of the tyre itself, one that looked remarkably like those on the towpath between my friend's flat and the start of the ride... I concluded that whilst my puncture from the beginning of the day had been fixed, the stone that I could see had been the cause, and having not been removed, had done double duty. Fortunately, it was a slow puncture, so I hopped back on the bike and thrashed my way along one more mile to the feed station, where other mechanics from EBC were hanging out ready to help people, and so my bike ended up in surgery again:

Bike being fixed... again!


I also took a moment to natter with the St John Ambulance volunteers (unfortunately, since it turned out that unlike in 2014, entering the feed stations didn't stop your ride timer...) and had a bit of a stretch.

The final two-and-a-half laps continued without event (or photos) - I beat my way around the course and finished, unofficially/according to Strava in ten minutes less time than in 2014. I got stuck behind a slower rider again as I went for the finish line so couldn't do a sprint finish - but there's always next year!

After the ride, I then rode up to Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op's shop to pay for the gear that I got off them, since their stands on the ride were cash-only; whilst there, I decided to buy a front tyre so that I had matching tyres (as the replacement given to me during the ride was a skinnier, slicker tyre than my previous ones, and I wanted front and back to match - plus it generally being a good idea to know how much wear your tyres have had. I then rode back to the stadium where the ride started and finished, as of course, having paid for the second tyre, there were none in the shop as they were all made available for the ride ;)

In the trip back up to the stadium, I ended up puncturing again, though thankfully the front tyre this time - and EBC, to their credit, replaced the tube for me for free when I got there - I ended up buying one tube and two tyres, and getting two free ones - the first because they caused my second puncture in not removing the stone from my tyre, and the second just because I'd already been out of my way to the shop once that day and they felt sorry for me ;)

Admittedly, part of the jaunt down to the shop was to pick up extra mileage for a Strava challenge, and so during the day I ended up riding just over 115km, or 75 miles - in about 4.5 hours. I was very impressed with myself - and very, very tired. (Also grateful to have apparently found a post-exercise protein shake that doesn't taste like death - the High5 banana/vanilla flavour, when mixed with milk, is actually quite palatable, and I had pleasingly DOMS-free legs the days afterwards, hopefully not a coincidence as I then went and bought another 12 sachets of the stuff for future rides!)

Exhausted post-ride, but happy!

Said [twitter.com profile] benjimmin of the above photo: "You are the most dignified person that exists."
Feb. 5th, 2015 07:47 pm

Dreams

tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Today I feel like I have small people trying to escape from inside my skull by battering their way out via my sinus cavities. Enforced night off with comfort food and Netflix, so I feel human enough to do first aid at elbow tomorrow night, cos, y'know, elbow. However, I occasionally have weird dreams when I'm sick, and last night was no exception.

I had a lucid dream that I'd overslept, despite my friend Josie (whose sofa I was crashing on) agreeing to wake me before she went to work; dream!Katie realised that she wouldn't do that because she's too excellent… and then I woke up anyway. At 04:30. Thanks, brain.

Then, after Josie had woken me at the more appropriate time of 6am, I dozed on the sofa whilst she ate her breakfast, and dreamed that I was trying to revive the expired parrot from Monty Python with cough syrup, and John Cleese was looking at me like I was crazy.

Ugh. Fingers crossed for feeling better before goodbye celebrations occur this weekend: 9 days to Finland!
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Find the nearest book to you, turn to page 45, and read the first sentence: this describes your sex life in 2015.
Then the billion voices ceased, instantly, as if the train had plunged in a fire storm off the earth.


*blinks*

Meep.
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tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Has 2014 been a good year for you?
The first six months were a bit terrible; the second six months were up and down and all over tthe place. I'm glad the year is over, but I'm also glad that I experienced it.

What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
I watched roller derby (on TV). I cosplayed (Delirium, from The Sandman, for a "favourite fictional character" themed party. I went Extreme Geocaching ("requires a boat", attempted without a boat - and failed, but made a plan for trying again - still without a boat!) - oh, and I climbed scaffolding.

What goals do you have for 2015?
To find a way to see the Northern Lights.

…and the rest. )
Dec. 2nd, 2014 06:30 pm

Bunny!

tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Last night, at about 11:30pm, I was walking down the main road for my bus home, when suddenly a large white fluffy thing appeared from under a car.

"That cat has really short legs," I thought. "No, wait…"

Just as I'm thinking it, my friend says, out loud, "That's a rabbit."



So we stop walking, and the rabbit's freaking out because OH GOD HUMANS, and starts running towards the main road, so I scooped it up in my arms and tried to pacify it, because I could see it ending up under the wheels of a bus or something. I realised it was soaking wet, cold and terrified, and my friend points out that since he lives a few doors away we should take it indoors to warm up whilst we call the RSPCA. So we did.

I wrapped him up in a towel and gave him a cuddle until he stopped panicking…



…and my friend phoned the local RSPCA, whose answering machine informed him that they don't rescue animals.

So he phoned the local council, whose answering machine informed him that they don't rescue animals, and he should call the local RSPCA.

I called the national RSPCA, and handed him the phone when I realised that I didn't know his address. He told them we found a domestic rabbit at the side of the road, and they asked him to keep it overnight and take it to a local vet the next morning.

He agreed, and went a rummage in the cellar, before re-appearing with an enormous pan to put the rabbit in.



I went home and fell asleep, figuring that would be the end of the story.

When I woke up this morning I remembered the whole thing, and texted my friend to ask if it had all been a dream. It hadn't.



The rabbit got taken to the vet, who said that they wouldn't taken in an uninjured animal. They suggested that my friend knock on all the nearby houses to find the owner. He decided not to, took the rabbit home, and watched stand-up comedy with it. The rabbit fell asleep.



I began texting my next-door neighbour, who runs an animal sanctuary, to ask if she knew anyone who would take in rabbits. She said she knew someone who could, in a pinch, but my mum said we could look after the rabbit (now named Burton, after the snowboarding equipment company) for a few days, as long as I posted on a Facebook lost/found pets group, to see if anyone would claim him.

So, after having coffee with a friend, I went round and picked the rabbit up, and took him home on the bus.



The cat is pretty perturbed.



Burton is now chilling out in an open-top run in my brother's bedroom (which has underfloor heating) happily munching carrots and some of the guinea pigs' hay.

Mum has pointed out that pets often get abandoned just before Christmas, so it's possible one of my friend or I just gained a rabbit.

What is my life.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
This week:
  • Arranged flights.
  • Wrangled the first bit of travel insurance. (Still to do: pay extra premium for having mildly faulty lungs.)
  • Applied for accommodation, got three offers, accepted one. (Chose the option that was neither eye-wateringly expensive, nor due to be demolished halfway through my trip. Think I made the right choice.)
  • Set up a GoFundMe to try and help fix the shortfall between my grant and necessary expenditure. If you like postcards and/or videos, and have some cash to spare, there are 'rewards' relevant to your interests :D
  • Started figuring out things I need to buy before I leave. (Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments.)

Plus 18 hours of lectures and homework, and 14hrs on my assignment. Word count around a third of what I was hoping it would be by now. This may be a long weekend.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Quote to sum up my most fun conversation today: "He only died once!"

(As much as I would love it if my stepdad had come back to life since 2008, it's just not scientifically possible. You'd think seeing the death certificate once would be enough though…)

PS, hello neglected blog friends, I'm going to Finland, and trying to get free money out of organisations to do so is exactly as difficult as you might expect.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I briefly mentioned about six weeks ago that I'd successfully applied to go and study in the Netherlands next year. Two weeks ago, I learned that the university I was meant to be going to hadn't signed their agreement and that people were "looking into alternatives". I got talking to a lecturer about this, who told me that she'd been working with the school of nursing at a different university elsewhere in the Netherlands; I mentally filed the information, and decided not to worry about it until I had opportunity to tell the international exchange lead lecturer (who conveniently happens to be my personal tutor) when I saw her earlier this week, and she said she would investigate.

This morning, I went into university for a meeting with her and the other international exchange students, and the other students all said things like "I feel like I haven't done enough preparation; all I've done is x, y, and z".
Of course, I have done precisely none of the things they've done, since I can't even complete the first step that is applying to my university for the travel grant, since they want to know where I'll be going… and I have no idea!

When the international lead reached me, she asked where else I might like to go, and I misunderstood, waffled a bit about the other university I'd mentioned earlier in the week (Maastricht) - and she did say that she would look into it, but since there isn't an existing agreement between the two universities for students to travel, as far as we can tell at the moment, that could take… a long time. Enough time that the small window in which train tickets are the cheapest they possibly can be may well have passed before it gets sorted out.

And then she re-phrased the question:

"We're talking worst case scenarios. Are there any other places on the list you'd consider?"

…by which she meant going to a different country altogether.

So now I am at home, where I have narrowed down the list of options to "Northern European countries" (because Spain and Cyprus = hot, and I do not like hot) that are funded by the Erasmus scheme (Slovakia was on the list, but is self-funded) and so I am poring over the options that are left:
  • Västerås, Eskilstuna and Linköping in Sweden
  • Fulda in Germany
  • Tampere in Finland

When I first did this, I kept going "Hmmm, Germany looks interesting… but the Netherlands!" and "Oooh, I think I'd really enjoy living in Finland… but the Netherlands!" and "Sweden is beautiful… but the Netherlands!" … so, well, I applied to go to the Netherlands. But now that that may be out of the picture, I'm more seriously considering them as realistic options, and… I just want to go to all of them.

If I stick with my "somewhere I can get to by Eurostar" plan that I uttered in the meeting this morning, then Germany is the only sensible choice. But it's still 8 hours on a train, and I'm not sure I would actually prefer to go to Germany compared to Finland or Sweden. I mean, I can't get to either of them on a train, realistically, and I don't really like the idea of flying short distances… but when travelling by train involves more than 6 changes and a journey time spanning multiple days… I'm not sure it counts as "short distance" anymore!

(Another concern is being visitable by a few important people from home, and whilst that is important to me, and to my mental health… all the places on offer are reasonably easy to travel to (or they wouldn't be offered) and that's got to be secondary to things like whether I want to live there for three months, and if they offer the sort of placement experience I'm after.)

On the plus side, I only have to choose between three countries… I can attempt to choose between the Swedish cities if I need to later… but I am really not good at decisions.

Also on my to-do list for today: bake cookies.

Hmm. Coooookies.

Update: made experimental gluten-free peanut butter cookies. They TAAAASTY.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)

Ze Frank - Why Trust Is Worth It
Words by Ze Frank, emphasis my own.
We talk about trust as something you build. As if it's a structure or a thing. But in that building there seems to be something about letting go. And what it affords us is a luxury that allows us to stop thinking, to stop worrying that someone won't catch us if we fall, to stop constantly scanning for inconsistencies, to stop wondering how people act when they're not in our presence. It allows us to relax a part of our minds so that we can focus on what's in front of us.

And that's why it's such a tragedy when it's broken.

A betrayal can make you think about all the other betrayals that are waiting for you, and things that you haven't thought of, and people you rely on. And you can feel yourself tightening up, bracing. And in the worst cases, you might resolve to trust no one.

But, that doesn't really work. Trust is your relationship to the unknown. What you can't control, and you can't control everything. And it's not all or none. It's a slow and steady practice of learning about the capacity of the world. And it's worth it, to keep trying, and it's not easy.

[…]

I almost imagine trust as these invisible hands that we stretch out into the world, looking for someone to hold on to, as we walk into the unknown future. […]

So who do you trust, and how can you grow it?


Well, that was a punch in the feels.
"You might resolve trust no one."

Yeah, and someone on the internet says that that doesn't really work, except what if it does? What if that's how some people have to stay safe?

We can't choose who we love, and we can't choose who falls in love with us. People tell me they're different, that they won't smash my heart into pieces like the last person, or the person before that. What if I'm tired of hearing promises, promises held with as little regard as my emotions? What if I don't want to trust anyone with my heart anymore? What if I've grown weary of seeing how people treat each other in this world, and I don't believe that trust offers the payback people say it does?

I just told a friend who's experiencing some similar thoughts that he's not alone, that he has friends who care, and that that's the important thing. That one day maybe he'll be happy with someone, maybe I will be too. That the two of us will probably never find happiness together, but I'm OK with that, as long as we're still friends as long as it feels right for us to be that way.

I said that there's no point in pining for relationships that have gone wrong, that instead we should try to learn from break-ups and bad relationships, and know that we won't always find the answers we're looking for, but unless we stop staring bleakly into the past, berating ourselves for being terrible people and unloveable monsters… unless we stop focusing on past failures, we won't ever find happiness, in ourselves or others.

I told him that he shouldn't beat himself up for loving people who didn't love him back, or for not loving those who loved him. That we can't choose who we love, and we can't choose who'll reciprocate.

I told him that all we can do is to look forwards and be the best people we can be. That if we focus on being as happy as we can within ourselves, then one day, people might come along and tell us they love us, and we might want to love them back. That if love doesn't follow the happiness, then it doesn't matter, because we will be happy in ourselves.

I pointed out that some people die alone, that I probably will, and I may never be OK with that, but I can at least try and be happy with who I am, and what I have, even if it's not everything I'd choose, if I had the choice.

Deep down, I believe everything I said just now, or I wouldn't have said a word of it. But who for?

I know that I'm happier recently than I've been for the best part of this year, and yet, there are these thoughts niggling at the back of my mind. What happens when my body gets old, and I have to slow down? Will there be anyone there to look back on years of adventures with, or will I sit alone, flicking through online photo albums at photos of people who have been and gone? What happens if I never again hear the words "I love you" from someone who I want to repeat them back to, from someone I want to grow old and decrepit with?

I get reminded that other people are worse off than me. I have no doubt about that, and I'm grateful for what I do have. But this world, our society, it isn't set up for people to be alone. We're supposed to trust, to be trusted. To fall in love, to be loved.

I get told that I'm still young, that I've got time, and maybe that's true, but by now, I'm far more used to saying "I love you" and hearing an affirmation that later turns out to be false: maybe they never meant it, maybe they did but realised they were wrong. It doesn't matter, because what it comes down to is that they never loved me, never could, never will.

They love other people, often people I know, but I was not loveable enough for them, I am not loveable enough now, and I may never be loveable enough anytime in the future. The only way I can find out if I can be loved is to trust… but what if that has already hurt me too much? What if I can't? What if trust is too tied up in heartbreak already?

Maybe trust is worth it… for other people.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I realised recently that Oxford has become my haven over the last few years, the place I escape to when I want some space - whether a break from routine, a little distraction, or a change in direction for some part of my life.

Lately, I've really needed this: with 2014 having been difficult in a few different ways, I decided that my birthday on Monday just gone would more than just metaphorically represent a new year in my life; it would be an opportunity to put unresolved problems behind me and move on. I wanted a distraction, to help me get through the final hurdle, new happy things to think about with which to bump sad memories out of my mind, and somewhere safe that I could create a conscious space of change from which to move forwards, all whilst getting hugs and spending time with friends. So, Oxford.

I arrived just before 9am yesterday, having embraced the cheap but obscenely early 05:11 train from Manchester (combined with a night out the night before, meaning I was already in Manchester city centre at 2am) - Ruth, JTA and Dan had test-drives booked in a selection of new cars for shortly after that, so I fixed myself breakfast, showered and napped until they returned, and Dan woke me around 1pm so that I could be sociable.

The afternoon melted into evening - time flies when you're having fun, etc. - and there were sofa-snuggles with Dan, chatting and catching up on one another's lives (including the many things I've forgotten to blog about here, including how I've accidentally become an academic, working on a legit research project and speaking at a conference in September, plus that I'll be living in the Netherlands for three months next year, and that I'm going on holiday to Seattle in October… I really ought to blog more, I guess?)
I worked on my knitting whilst we chatted, and then there was the obligatory board game (Guillotine, another addition to my Amazon wishlist) before pizza and the most hilariously terrible/terribly hilarious film, Orgasmo, about a Mormon-missionary-turned-accidental-pornstar. (It's better than it sounds. So much better.)

Ruth also baked me a birthday cake with so much ginger that it was almost orgasmic - even including a birthday candle. (I will never be too old for birthday candles. Never.)

More snuggles with Dan this morning as we waited for the rest of the house to rise, and a particularly wonderful moment as we talked about dating and relationships, and I quite bluntly friend-zoned him - it's not the first time that one of us has said to the other that us dating wouldn't work out, so I had no hesitation or fear in saying it, but this time was the first either of us has outright said it whilst face-to-face, and so the kindness and compassion with which he agreed that our dynamic was too good to screw about with still managed to take me by surprise, whilst also reminding me once again why my friendship with him is one of the most precious things in my life. It's a quite platonic love we have for one another, but each time I think that our friendship can't mean any more to me, that he can't make me feel more special and loved (in this special kind of way that's like nothing I have or have ever had with anybody else) - he finds a way to prove me wrong.

We spent this afternoon before my train home exploring woods and planting his next geocache together, taking in fresh air and talking, still learning new things about each other even after 7 years. (7 years! It feels like the hillside midnight cuddle party in Wales in 2007 happened yesterday, watching shooting stars and cuddling.)
Then, as he parked up near the station, almost ready to drop me off for my train, he suddenly remembered the proximity of a particularly difficult geocache he'd found and blogged about, as his retrieval of it was rather superhero-like - he rightly knew I'd want to attempt it, and took me down to where it was. I had a go, with his encouragement and advice, but all too quickly, adrenaline began to soar through me and as I began to shake, I knew not falling into the river would be impossible. I wanted to keep trying but I knew I wasn't safe and despite that, I didn't want to give up - I was close to frustrated tears and annoyance at myself as I admitted that I was quitting - but his gentle encouragement turned to reassurance that he'd not done it first time either, and my annoyance and fear of looking weak and stupid in front of someone important to me melted away. (Next time I visit, I'm taking my climbing harness, metalwork and ropes…)

We made our way to the train station again, got some food and shared another cuddle or two before I had to get on my train, by which point I was fighting back tears, a small part of me sad because I never want to leave, moreso this weekend than I have before, but also happiness and security, knowing that distance changes nothing for us.

I had no idea, seven years ago, what this connection would bring me. Back then, I wanted something different to what we've got now, something that didn't work and in fact, nearly destroyed our friendship - but I can't even find sadness in the year we barely talked following that: having nearly thrown it all away once, what we've got now feels all the more wonderful.

Six weeks' of placement, two weeks' of theory, three weeks' annual leave, four weeks' theory, and then December, and hopefully, my next visit. May it pass quickly.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig 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
Jun. 15th, 2014 09:55 am

Who's day?

tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig 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: Katie, with a purple wig 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.
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tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig 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.

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