Monthly Archives: August 2012

Wise Up

“I [need to] stop looking for solutions and look instead at myself. I’d wanted yoga to save me, to make me feel forever what it had made me feel in the beginning. But relationships don’t work like that.”

NYT – Drugs, Sweat and Fear

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Oh. Dear.

Feeding a troll on OKCupid.


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Sad Dog

Sad Boston
“Adult Boston Terrier Not For Breeding”

“friendly boston terrier spayed female 4yrs old.. flea and worming treatments up to date. Friendly girl who is clean indoors, needs rehoming due to change of circumstances.”

reduced from £575


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Images by me

My Granny died today. I’d been to see her on Wednesday and was meant to be going again tomorrow, meeting up with the rest of my family, but the general update I thought I was about to receive from my Mum when she called this afternoon was not what she delivered.

I wasn’t at all close to my Granny, so my feelings of sadness are more with regards my Mum, though of course there’s a sadness at the ending of a life that was long (she was in her nineties).

Granny was a Scot, who went to university and was a teacher until she married and gave up her career. I was saying to one of her carers that it was a shame that an independent, educated woman with a mind of her own had to give that all up, and she replied that it was clear that when her family came around that she lit up, so she achieved in a different way.

When I saw her on Wednesday it was at times tempting to grab a pillow and smother her. They were feeding someone who was incontinent, bedridden, unable to hear nor communicate coherently, emaciated and suffering terribly from bedsores. It seemed ridiculous to continue to provide nourishment to someone that was not going to recover, so I was glad to hear that they put her on the somewhat controversial Liverpool Pathway, acknowledging that she was dying.

My Mum told me that she was becoming agitated so they gave her an injection of something to ease her symptoms; after that her breathing became very shallow, and watching her my Mum realised that she’d stopped breathing. She said she died peacefully and that she was thankful for it.

Here’s to you, Isobel.

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Competitive Sports

Fascinating. Men who watch porn that shows two men and one woman having sex produce ejaculate with a larger number of sperm of better quality. Apparently it’s all about sperm competition, or how the males want to ensure they are the one to win the race to fertilise that egg.

Biology Letters- Image content influences men’s semen quality

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This is an example of the sort of typical exchange I have on a particularly depressing dating site. I thought i’d share to illustrate just what i’m up against.

dating fun


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Off to see my granny today as word has been sent that the end of her life is nigh. She’s kept going through the years when most people thought she’d die, lurching from health crisis to health crisis, keeping going, if “going” means sitting in a chair unable to talk, barely moving.


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Define Me

I am:

“Photography, creativity, sexuality, cultural contexts, personal history and development and tragedy, intelligence and teaching, sharing…”

according to Kennebec. Pretty accurate if you ask me… :)

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“A deep respect for life, that’s underlying everything, our creator gave us life…”

Just seen this really excellent way to frame the anti-choice, “life begins at conception” argument that is hideously popular at the moment in the US:

“1. You’re walking down the street. You turn the corner and see a child starting to run out between cars into the path of a truck. The driver can’t see the child. Your life will be seriously at risk if you try to save the child. Do you take that risk?

2. Similar situation, but instead of a child it’s a container of in-vitro embryos, being taken to a clinic. The container somehow dropped out of the transport vehicle. The oncoming truck will crush the container, killing perhaps hundreds of embryos. Again, your life will be seriously at risk if you try to pull the container out of the road. Do you take that risk?”

3. You’re walking down the street. You see an accident. The driver isn’t conscious. A container of embryos lies by the driver’s door. The car is about to explode. You only have time to save the driver or the container, not both. Do you save the one adult, the hundred embryos, or not take the serious risk to your own life?”

“If you truly believe each life is equally valuable, you will gladly risk your own life and choose:
child, embryos, embryos

Most people I know would choose:
child, themselves (not worth risking their own life), driver

A few people I know would choose:
themselves, themselves, themselves (and blame the parents, clinic personnel, and driver)”

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Meet The New Guy, Same As The Old Guy

It’s not like i’m new to online dating – two motherfucking years and counting, but i’m still amazed by the number of men who share similar photos, similar experiences on their profiles. A typical selection will include images of:

  • Snowboarding.
  • Thailand.
  • A festival.
  • Track day with their motorbike.
  • Sunburned at a bar with their mates.
  • At a wedding where they’ve had to wear a tie.
  • Photos of themselves that are so small as to make them difficult to identify.
  • Group photos where I can’t work out who is the actual guy in the profile.

I understand why they put up such photos, just as why I put up photos: to project an image, show what we like and what we’re like. However, all of these things that I see with such frequency seem so boring. I don’t particularly care where you’ve holidayed. All I see is people spending money on stuff that I cannot empathise with; if the majority of your photos are of you at various music festivals I tend to think that you’re not the most mature person, which then clashes with the profile.

What is an interesting selection of photos? Now that takes more thought…

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Finished the new skin for Patrick and I am dissatisfied with my handiwork. When I hug the new temporarily stuffed Patrick, he doesn’t feel “right” – he’s too thin and doesn’t fill my arms. I think I need to start anew, which means finding new fabric. Grrr.

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Wrestling Recap


So it’s been a week since I went to the Excel Centre and had my day of fun. I was sitting far enough away to make photos on the fuzzy side, so to give more of an impression of my day i’ve used some screencaps of the BBC coverage of what I saw to help.

I spent most of my time being as excited as I get when I visit a zoo or an aquarium; the “games makers” were all super kind, smiley and helpful, with the queue to enter the venue moving quickly, and security fast and without stress. Basically how I wish it could be at an airport.

The arena was almost full when I got there, with the audience a mixture of nationalities, but mostly British. Nearby there were visible US, Turkish, Japanese, Indian, Azerbaijani, Kazakstahni and Iranian supporters; it was interesting (to me at least) that so many of the competitors hailed from countries that had been formerly part of the USSR. I saw fighters from the 66kg and 96kg.

London 2012

Image: Gold medal winner Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu and his awesome singlet

The wrestlers were led into the arena to music that everyone clapped along to, and to my initial confusion they fought with music playing too. It was not just me who was a bit taken aback by this, as the families behind me also expressed similar thoughts. “Oh, is this the warm up? Er… Oh, it looks like they’re proper fighting. No warm up then?”

London 2012

Image: Rustam Iskandari after he lost to eventual bronze medallist Khetag Gazyumov

The anger and occasional tears of anguish from fighters who lost brought home to me that it is the competing that is important, as well as the winning. I felt so sorry for some of them; they looked so dejected as the picked themselves up off the mat. I wanted to rush out and give the sweaty, sad men a big hug.

London 2012

Image: Gazyumov post-victory

This happened. Hugging was not on my mind.

London 2012

Image: Lopez flips Hasanov

In the 66kg bronze medal match, a Cuban was less than fifteen seconds from losing to an Azerbaijani, when he picked the guy up, flipped him and won the match. It was an *amazing* moment, with the Cuban and his coaches clearly overjoyed to have turned the tables. I was sat in block 408, and so the highly excitable topless man wandered right towards me, which was cool.

London 2012

London 2012

Image: Lopez’s singlet was pretty much fucked.

London 2012

An American went on to win, in what was a bit of a disappointing match against a Ukrainian; the Iranian favourite had injured his knee earlier on in the day, and had to be taken out of the arena via wheelchair.

I have nothing bad to say about my experience, other than that I wish I was able to get more tickets.

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Whoa. Inebriated for the first time in a lo-o-o-ng time, courtesy of a bar that had a Prince evening. AWESOMENESS.

Was accompanied with McCy, and together we passed many easy hours of noodles, cider and Red Stripe, at a place i’d not been for years. Oh, it was GOOD, but I have the not-so-sneaking-suspicion that I could have done better over the course of four hours, but I should probably give that a go when i’ve sobered up.

Now it’s a fried egg sandwich that I don’t need nutritionally, but just feels Oh So Right.

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Creep-tastic dream this morning: I was knocked up and in labour, giving birth to a baby boy whose head popped once I got him home.

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Putting Things Away

Been meaning to do it for aages, but today I went into town and bought a box to put all of the things associated with Coppell into it, so I could store them out of sight and, hopefully, out of mind.

I didn’t expect to find it upsetting, as bits and bobs had been lying around my room in plain sight, but as I gathered pieces together and put stuff out for recycling I started to weep as the gifts, seat tickets, receipts and handwritten notes triggered off memories. It’s taken me an hour to get to the point where i’m just feeling sad and not leaking from my tear ducts.

This piece on recovery from the end of a relationship seems a good one (though of course i’m just liking what seems to make sense to me); it talks about things coming in waves:

“There is a phenomenon that most people find disconcerting for many months. You may feel that you’re doing better, you’re beginning to smile, and you may even have started feeling good enough to date again. Then, out of nowhere, you are hit with a flood of emotions! You think to yourself ‘I thought I was doing better than this, what’s wrong with me?'”

THIS times a million.

I shouldn’t beat myself up about being upset, nor worry too much about taking “too long” to recover; I know i’ve made progress and I know I continue to do so with time. Of course, that’s the hard part: no matter what I read, who I meet up with, how work is going, ultimately time is the only thing that is going to help. Which I have no control over, so I should try and focus on the things I can control.


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The Wrestling

On Sunday I went to the thing I have been looking forward to for over a year: The freestyle wrestling at London 2012.

I had a *great* time.

Here are a few images of my day taken by me from from far, faaar away, so apologies for the blurriness. More of an impression of my day to follow.

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

Excel, London 2012

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2012 Flag

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“It’ll go on like this forever, because people will never change, but technology will only get faster. Well, we might change, in that technology is turning us into ever-stupider, ever-strunger-outer attention anorexics with a thirst for nothing but meme gristle and Internet lists.”

Gawker – It’s OK to Be a Hater Because Everything Is Bad

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Option B

Tasty burgers at Byron on Charing Cross road with Grande Homme Brum followed by a couple of hours at Club France in Old Billingsgate Market, the French hospitality and media HQ for London 2012. La Rousse is a journalist for French radio, so she put us down on the press guest list and we got in for free. Hurrah. I got a lanyard *and everything*.

The place was packed, with hundreds of tricolor-bedecked supporters cheering on the handball team to victory before singing the Marseillaise during the post-match interviews. I got to see where the post-medal press conferences are held and saw a radio call-in programme in progress. It was cool, in a “I am not so secretly a teenager and I am excite!!” sort of way, but the fiver for a pint of cider was not so much.

Anyway, it was great to be around so many passionate people having fun. Also, what is that preppy thing that some French men do? Because it’s alarmingly appealing.

So, not to bed early by any means, but not crying for fifteen minutes like I did just before I left for Lahndahn. I actually feel tired, too, so hopefully this means that I can sleep without the upset i’ve been feeling at the intrusive, repetitive thoughts i’ve been having.

One more day until the wrestling! WOOOOO! :)

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A or B

Have I reached the point where I need to seek some professional help, (A)


do I need to eat some chocolate, drink a glass of something alcoholic, meet up with friends and get a good night’s sleep? (B)

This evening, i’m going to try (B).

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Insomnia Spiral

Jesus, i’m finding it really hard to sleep this week. When I turn the light off, all I do is lie there for two or three hours thinking. Then I start getting angry with myself for still being awake, still thinking about the same old shit and of course getting to sleep is not made easier by the emotions coursing through me.

I think of things that I didn’t used to do with such frequency; when I was at work I was distracted, and exhausted, and so even though I was stressed and very unhappy, when my head touched the pillow it was pretty much lights out.

  • I think of Coppell, as he’s going to be leaving the country soon, and think about the good times but also of my anger towards him
  • I think about relationships in general, how lacking in good things my life feels
  • I think of Meathead, remembering the pure joy she brought and imagine having my own Boston Terrier
  • I think about holidays, escape and dropping off the radar for a few weeks, things I cannot do
  • I think of work, the classes that i’m going to have, shit i’m going to have to deal with, stuff that went wrong last academic year
  • I think of finding a new job, what I need to do to get out of my current one

So, not that much then.

I’m not getting quality sleep, so wake feeling seriously tired with my brain all dumb. Conversation is hard when out and about, and the hot weather doesn’t help much either. Ugh.

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“He also urged more teachers to give up their free time to teach sport as well as their main teaching subject. ‘The problem has been too many schools not willing to have competitive sport and some teachers not willing to join in and play their part.'”

Free time? So because teaching is not something you need a qualification in and we’re all just babysitters really, what harm can come of us giving something “a go” without pay…? Hmmm…?

Guardian – David Cameron defends move to scrap compulsory targets for school sport

Guardian – School playing fields: 21 sell-offs have been approved by coalition “Michael Gove agreed sales despite pledge to protect pitches”

Stopping the Building School for the Future scheme, preventing the improvement of facilities across the curriculum is not something the coalition did is it? Oh…

Okay, so I am loving London 2012, however there is something to be said for questioning whether spending approximately £10 MILLION per medal is appropriate when schoolchildren are being educated in “temporary” classrooms, Sure Start centres are being closed, unemployment figures seem to be getting worse, NHS waiting times are going up and the care of the elderly is so poor.

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Toy Death & Other Tragedies

Another sex toy bites the dust well before its time. Wonderfully, NSFW Lovehoney give refunds and exchanges – yes, even on used items – up to a year after purchase. So, hopefully, after I post them my dead toy, i’ll get my money back to spend on a new one. I have of course already purchased its replacement :)

Hormonal shenanigans this week as my body attempts to get its act together; i’m off the medication I was taking in an attempt to get my cycles regular, so now it’s back to the usual ridiculous waiting game. Pre-period symptoms dragged out for ages, repetitive thoughts about relationships and more intense feelings about Coppell, along with the usual soreness, random cramping, spots and predilection to weep when the wind changes direction. The breast I had the lump removed from gets extra goshdarned sore too :(

I’ve realised this week that OKCupid is not a positive thing to have in my everyday life. Checking it repetitively and answering the match questions on it to no real end is not helpful to my well-being. I need to check it once a day – or less – only, so I don’t get sucked in. I mean, how many times do I need to be confronted with the great Fuck All available to me?

I’ve found a Firefox add-on (here’s one for Chrome) that should hopefully discourage me: Leechblock. It can limit the sites you visit, and when you visit them, so as to “encourage” you to stop procrastinating. Which I could really fucking do with.

I also need to get back on track with the whole getting up in the AM thing, as i’m lurching dangerously close to turning my body clock the wrong way up. Finding ways to turn my brain off is the challenge even when I do get to bed early. I’m going to try experimenting with music and soundscapes to try and ease me off; Freesound has a marvellous selection of weird and wonderful noises.

Pilates and my weekly shop tomorrow. Or should I say, today.


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This week’s nails: Acid wash

Acid Wash

Loads of tutorials on this one, but it’s super easy, and i’m very pleased with the result.

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Renovating Patrick

For quite a few years now, my beloved Patrick has existed in a rather sorry state of affairs; oozing stuffing from being hugged too much, wrapped in bandages and a tea-towel to protect his innards and stop the horrifying scenario of waking up in amongst bits of stuffing. Shiver.

On my list of things to keep me occupied this Summer, doing something about Patrick’s slow destruction was a priority.

I bought new pink material off eBay, going for canvas rather than felt so that he’ll last longer, even if he’s not quite so soft, and I gave much consideration as to what I should so with holey Patrick.

Should I squish him inside the new skin, Buffalo Bill-style? Tear him into shreds and use him as stuffing? Put him in a cupboard and start anew? Bury him?

I decided on trying to squish him into the new skin, and so after unswaddling him I drew round his body, pinned the fabric and i’m now sewing whilst listening to Monica.

I don’t know whether my plan is going to work, but i’m going to give it my best. I am rather creeped out at the idea of taking his eyes, mouth and belly-button off and transplanting them onto his new body. Ahem.

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Believe My Hype

I’ve thought about what exactly it is I cannot comprehend with regards men raising hopes only to crush them, and i’ve figured out what it is that is that pisses me off: It’s all about managing expectations. Specifically, how a fair few men seem not to have to do it.

I’ve heard this term used a lot recently with regards the performance of Team GB at London 2012, where people say, “Give them a break!” when they only come third or fail to move through a heat. The media says, “Let’s not raise expectations now, as these athletes have done wonderfully jut to get here” whilst at the same time artificially inflating their chances.

The relationship version of managing expectations goes like this:

– I make it clear what i’m seeking.
– Suitor is made very aware of my expectations though emails and discussions.
– Suitor communicates understanding.
– I continue to keep on keeping on, not wanting to really commit to anything.
– Suitor makes suggestions that meet my set requirements.
– I bat these away, not wishing to appear “needy” and altogether waaay too old for shenanigans.
– Suitor continues to express willingness. Talks about the things i’ve requested.
– I start to get excited, because as i’ve already clearly communicated what i’m after, they must be fully committed to their plan of action, otherwise why would they be bringing it up.
– I communicate the ramifications of what they’ve suggested, in the full spirit of sharing and communication.
– Suitor gets cold feet.
– I am left disappointed, hurt and angry.

Some men really do not understand what managing expectation means. If you’re not after a relationship, why say you are? If I’ve said i’m not into casual sex, why invite me to visit, when all they want is something casual?


I wonder whether managing expectations is something that women are more au fait with; we’re generally raised to be compliant, not be an “easy lay”, experience more judgement from society when we don’t live up to gender norms or are sexually empowered, have more to risk from possible pregnancy, we earn less and are seen as easy targets when it comes to costcutting…

What I think i’m getting at is that we *have* to manage expectation, both personally and professionally, lest we be judged. Women who are assertive are judged, whereas it is usually expected that men will be upandattem. We have to curtail. It has been frequently said that a man will look at a job advertisement and see only a couple of things they can do on the list of requirements but go for it anyway, but when a woman looks at the same advert and can do all except one they won’t apply.

I think it’s a combination of things. All I know is that for some men, they don’t have to give one fuck about any of these things. They believe their own hype, and are keen for others to believe it, and don’t seem to care a whole lot when they can’t deliver.

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Got a little trigger happy in Summer cleaning the files on the server. All is well now… :)

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Late to bed, early to rise…

Started waking early and being unable to get back to sleep again, this morning at 6am. Ug.

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Jenny Saville - Stare 2004-05
Detail from Stare (2004-05)

“(Flesh) is all things. Ugly, beautiful, repulsive, compelling, anxious, neurotic, dead, alive.” – Jenny Saville

Today I went with a colleague to Modern Art Oxford and the Jenny Saville exhibition. It was *marvellous*. I left feeling inspired to go out and create those painterly masterworks in that studio I do not own… Ahem.

The work was much fresher and more complex than I thought from seeing images in books and online; i’d seen her earlier works in galleries before, but not the more recent, portrait-style pieces on show. There were ginormous canvases with gorgeous expanses of livid colour that were multi-layered, and highly textural in nature with splashes of paint dropped onto the canvas, sprayed about, and smooshed around.

I have no idea how she works on the canvases, as close up they were like vast landscapes, so getting perspective on what you’re doing close up much be very hard. I don’t know whether she has mirrors or uses video or something to help her? Some works were clearly drawn from life, whereas others were taken from photos in medical textbooks and forensic imagery.

The work in the above image is not one of violence, as the girl in the piece (taken from a newspaper clipping) has a birthmark. The works had a sparse flatness that was sort of fractured, that then contrasted with gloopy puddles and thick, ridged brush-strokes.

Some pieces included strips of masking tape that were painted over, with some strips pulled off to reveal the paint underneath. It was really lovely stuff, and not Freud-like at all. It reminded me more of Rauschenberg’s work, or Twombly, Bacon or Richter; the luscious qualities of the paint were definitely explored. Paint at its sexiest.

“I have to really work at the tension between getting the paint to have the sensory quality that I want and be constructive in terms of building the form of a stomach, for example, or creating the inner crevice of a thigh. The more I do it, the more the space between abstraction and figuration becomes interesting. I want a painting realism. I try to consider the pace of a painting, of active and quiet areas. Listening to music helps a lot, especially music where there’s a hard sound and then soft breathable passages. In my earlier work my marks were less varied. I think of each mark or area as having the possibility of carrying a sensation.” – Saville

Excellent article on her work here: Guardian – Under the skin – “Jenny Saville’s paintings are known for the mountains of flesh they reveal, but it is the neuroses bursting through that interest her”

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