29 · non-binary (they/them) · neurodiverse · spoonie · queer femme · NSO & trainee zebra · polyamorous · burned-out activist · geek.

♥ coffee ♥ roller derby ♥ photography ♥ knitting ♥ exploring ♥ creating ♥

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, wearing a helmet and bike glasses. (bike bike bike)
Cycling in the dark, alone, is a unique experience. I've done overnight before, with [personal profile] damerell on the London to Brighton night ride, but going it alone is a whole different kettle of fish. I've also ridden in the city at night - well, 10pm or so - but that again is different to the countryside.

Riding alone, there's nobody to talk to, and I felt so infinitesimal. Every sound was magnified, from the wind rippling past my jacket to the owls hooting in the trees. I saw bats, and rabbits, and foxes, but no humans - none at all, for 35 minutes zipping through the night.

In the country, all the roads look the same. Single track, lined with hedges; they go on for miles and miles. None of the landmarks I had doing the route in daylight earlier in the day (twice) existed once the sun set; the cottages and the passing places and the funny looking trees all blended into the darkness.

Even with a headlight chosen specifically for this kind of cycling, I could only see 20 feet ahead of me, and I was riding in the centre of the road to get the best possible vantage of the tarmac ahead. Signposts appeared, sticking out of the the hedgerow, for less than a second, gone before I could read the lettering.

The adrenaline coursing through my veins right now is intense.
May. 22nd, 2011 03:53 pm


tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
May. 13th, 2011 03:04 pm


tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
If a bullet should enter my brain, let it destroy every closet door.

I ask for the movement to continue because it's not about personal gain, and it's not about ego and it's not about power.

It's about the "us's" out there.

Not just the gays but the blacks and the Asians and the seniors and the disabled. The "us's."

Without hope, the "us's" give up. And I know you can't live on hope alone. But without hope, life is not worth living. So you, and you, and you, you got to give them hope. You got to give them hope.

From Milk.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
"I realize this may be a shock but I can change the world and I refuse to believe that I am part of a lost generation."

Apr. 7th, 2011 07:13 am


tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I read A Softer World. Today's was brilliant.

After reading the comic, I caught a glimpse of the first line of text on the blog written by the author: "Hello, there should be more advice about dealing with depression..."

And I carried on reading.

"Today's assignment is simple. Just go out and get on the bus.

It doesn't matter which bus. Whichever bus comes next. Get on, and just go. You could ride that bus to the very end, thank the driver, and then walk into the woods and just die. Just lay down right there and wait and wait until you were dead. Who is going to miss you?

Really, think about it. If you went out to the middle of nowhere and just sat down in a ditch and cried by yourself until you were dead, who would be the first person to wonder where you'd gone?

Call them up! Maybe they want to get ice cream?"

And now I'm sitting on a bench in Greenwich town centre watching the world go by and smiling, because I know there's not a great number of you, but those of you who I'm thinking of - you'll know who you are, and I just want you to know, you are wonderful.

Thank you.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I don't know if the novelty of coming home, or waking up, to freshly baked bread will ever wear off... but I damn hope it doesn't.

tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Saturday just gone I saw Frank Turner, James and Belle & Sebastian at Latitude.

Tonight, I will be seeing Seth Lakeman and the Levellers at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich (outdoors, with blankets and cushions and a picnic!)

Tomorrow, I will be riding pillion on the back of a motorbike up to Cambridge, where I'll be seeing Regina Spektor at the Corn Exchange.

This week is most definitely Awesome Music Week ♥
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Wheeeee! I went to my first music festival this weekend - Latitude.

We arrived shortly after nine and pitched [personal profile] mattp's tent on the day camper's field, and then wandered off to the festival area itself. We explored the woods, saw the Lyric Hammersmith perform a brilliant version of Midsummer Night's Dream, and then after some wandering around and spotting things like interesting coloured sheep

and an artist painting in what looked like a toilet but he assured us wasn't

we went to lie in the sun by the Obelisk arena and half-heartedly listened to Corinne Bailey Rae's set, and then caught Frank Turner, whose music I have now gone from liking to loving, particularly Photosynthesis ("I won't sit down, I won't shut up, and most of all I will not grow up..." ♥) and then immediately afterwards, one of the highlights of the weekend, James.

I have wanted to see James live for years, and I was already tempted to go to Latitude before I found out that they would be performing as I knew that Belle & Sebastian were playing (another group I have longed to see for years) — but finding out that James were playing sealed the deal. Having slowly made our way to the front of the crowd during the soundcheck, we were only a few rows back by the time James came on stage and able to see and hear everything perfectly. It was amazing.

[livejournal.com profile] mattp took down the setlist, and I've located YouTube videos and put together a Spotify playlist:
  1. Bubbles
  2. Ring the Bells
  3. Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
  4. Tomorrow
  5. I Wanna Go Home
  6. Out to Get You
  7. Stutter
  8. Sit Down
  9. Sound
  10. Sometimes
  11. Laid

I loved hearing the new ones (to me), and they played all the ones I was really hoping for as well: Sit Down and Sometimes (who can't love those songs?!) and Ring the Bells.

We then headed off to find some food and sat around talking a while before going to watch Crystal Castles doing... I don't even know. The singer appeared to be smashed out of her face, though, so it was an amusing watch, even if the "music" was only just tolerable. Epic lulz when the audience stole her microphone and shoes when she tried crowd-surfing.

After that, Belle & Sebastian! Before they started playing, [livejournal.com profile] mattp pointed out a young kid standing in front of us and whispered "do you think he was even born when they formed?" - I said no, and we joked for a few minutes about it before talking about tracks we wanted to hear, at which point the little kid turned round and demonstrated a better working knowledge of the discography than Matt and I put together. Oops!
Anyway, the setlist was fab, and the performance great as ever:
  1. I'm a Cuckoo
  2. Step Into My Office Baby
  3. The State I Am In
  4. I'm Not Living In The Real World (from the forthcoming album)
  5. If You're Feeling Sinister
  6. Sukie in the Graveyard
  7. Fox in the Snow
  8. Jumping Jack Flash - this is the very performance I saw!
  9. Funny Little Frog
  10. Boy with the Arab Strap
  11. If You Find Yourself Caught In Love
  12. Judy and the Dream of Horses
  13. Sleep the Clock Around
  14. Encore: Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying
  15. Encore: Legal Man
The set could only have been better if they'd played Piazza, New York Catcher, The Blues Are Still Blue or It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career.

Sit Down was still running through my head even after the B&S set as we were going to bed; if I absolutely had to choose between the two as the highlight of the day, I think it would be James.

We grabbed some more food after the set, then wandered off to the tent again. We both struggled to sleep, me from cold and discomfort1 and [livejournal.com profile] mattp just from the hard ground, though we managed to get a few hours in the end, and I slept on the bus and train back to London in the morning. We came back to Greenwich to dump bags and play some games, and then headed off to [twitter.com profile] kittystryker's housecooling party before she returns to the US.

1: lesson learnt for next year: a sleeping bag alone will not protect you from stoney ground. Especially not a thin one. I was so glad to make it back to bed again last night!
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
You purchased 5 tickets to:

The Levellers / Seth Lakeman
Old Royal Naval College, London,
Wed 21 Jul 2010, 18:00

Mar. 29th, 2010 02:07 am


tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Today, I climbed part of Mam Tor with Alison, her partner and her kids. It was a really amazingly beautiful day.

We had a picnic, with sushi, crisps, stringy cheese and chocolate, but not all at once.

Then we walked a bit further and we flew kites.

When the littlest one got tired, we went back to Alison's to cuddle guinea pigs and play silly games on the Wii, and then Alison dropped me off at home again. I fixed the ready-to-roll icing disaster on the birthday cake Elizabeth made for mum whilst I was out, and then we sat down with pizza and watched TV.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:45 am


tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books, and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art. Write, or draw, or build, or sing, or live, as only you can.

May your coming year be a wonderful thing, in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously. I hope you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it; that you will be loved, and you will be liked; and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now, I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

~ Neil Gaiman
Jan. 1st, 2010 03:57 pm

2010 go!

tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
If it's true that the way you spend NYE sets the tone for the year to come, then I expect 2010 to mostly involve geeking about free software, playing games and worrying whether or not someone likes me - no change there, then ;-)
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Last night was the best night ever. I was right near the front, in the centre, close enough to see the beads of sweat on James Dean Bradfield's forehead.

They played two brilliant sets — first, the new album, Journal for Plague Lovers, in its entirety, and then a bunch of old favourites, kicking off with Motorcycle Emptiness, and then
  • Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
  • No Surface All Feeling
  • You Love Us
  • Tsunami
  • La Tristesse Durera
  • Faster
  • If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  • Little Baby Nothing
  • Australia
  • You Stole The Sun From My Heart
  • Sorrow 16
  • Motown Junk
  • Everything Must Go
...and then they finished by playing A Design For Life, with JDB holding out his mic to get the audience to sing. Of course, most of the audience, myself included, had sung along to every single song from both sets anyway, but this one, it was just us singing.

After the gig ended, I headed back towards London Bridge (via Marine Ices, of course) to catch the last train, where I bumped into Topper (of the bolognaise/lasagne dilemma fame) and just as he was telling me about his personal game, Friday Night at London Bridge Bingo, involving many varieties of drunken people, we saw a zombie — not on his list of Things To Spot, apparently. Once on the train, I have vague recollections of hearing someone cry "fucking Muggles!" at other passengers, but I have no idea why.

Now on the coach home, feeling fantastic but knackered; I had a bit of a rush to get from [personal profile] nanaya and [personal profile] alextiefling's place in SE7 to Victoria in a little over an hour this morning. I made it, just, and collapsed into my seat with 2 minutes until departure. Now speeding along the motorway somewhere near Watford with air con blasting in my face, yay. Praying fervently for a stop at a services somewhere, as otherwise, it's a nonstop journey to Stockport, and I'm dying for a drink of water.

...k, passing out now.