who is katie?

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

December 2014

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Bunny!

Dec. 2nd, 2014 06:30 pm
tajasel: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf 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: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf 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: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf 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: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf 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: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf 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: photo of me with a rainbow hat and big scarf 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: 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

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)
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.

Please.



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?"
"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.

Books

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...

OH HELP WHERE DID THE LAST 40 MINUTES GO?!

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.

CAAAAAKE.


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.

Also, FLYINSKIRRUL!



[twitter.com profile] maznu is now talking about us doing a bungee jump over Salford Quays :)