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Sorting through the clothes, books and other assorted debris in my room at the Duckarchy
Making decisions relatively easily about what I can part with
Getting out of the house each day
Feeding myself in a kitchen which is no longer familiar
Being away from Ducki - I miss him, but at least I can keep myself occupied, and fewer people and suitcases in the room make sorting a bit easier

A paper that is a joint research/teaching task which didn't involve carrying heavy books
Family interactions

Period - hello, codeine party, just when I'd got through enough sorting and work to justify having some beer
Packing - of course I brought too much stuff, but of course if I'd left any item in that bag at home I would have missed it, and I did leave a notebook at home that had skeleton outlines for a whole lecture series
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1: Exercise. Finished a 30-day challenge for the first time ever, happily quit another, in the final stages of a third well after 30 days is up, and started a bunch of new ones arranged in a way that will minimise disruption from my period. Happy with that.

2: Food. Especially curry. Ducki got massive naan cravings so I've been making meals that fit with that.

3: Job applications. Two in two days without too much angst. I fit the criteria perfectly, so the only issue is who else applies.

4: Marking. Been doing it efficiently enough to get time for other stuff in between.

5: Research. Addressing a revise and resubmit that is kind of getting on my nerves, but pushing through it.

6: Fashion. Turns out shirts from the men's section of the charity shop fit me pretty well, and do actually come in some nice patterns these days. Currently wearing a red gingham one. It covers my midriff and bumcrack and doesn't strangle my biceps.
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One of a highly irreglar series...

Beasted thing the first: maintaining my living environment. We had a party nearly a month ago, which necessitated a big tidy of the living room, and it has not degenerated back into being a mess.

Beasted thing the second: exercise. Been keeping up with 30 day challenges and walking a lot, and going to a fitness class at least once in all but one of the last nine weeks.

Beasted thing the third: Lecture writing. One more to go and I'm making a good start with it.
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I'm having something of a visceral response to radfem critiques of the posters that have been appearing in public bathrooms in (I think) Bristol, to the effect that any given bathroom user knows their gender status better than the rest of us.

It has been read as another example of '"men"* know better than women', a sentiment which in general is all too common in our society, but which I don't think is going on here. And not just because, as far as I can tell, the posters appear in men's toilets as well.

Why can't we just read the posters as 'X knows more *about X* than anyone else, probably including X's closest associates and certainly including someone whose only acquaintance with X is using the next handwash basin.

My response is visceral because I'm still getting over decades of other people invalidating my experience. Periods, for example. That one tends to come from period-having cis women who think that because theirs doesn't hurt that much, doesn't interrupt their life in any real way, that I must be 'faking' or making drama because actually my life *is* sometimes on hold while I swallow enough pain meds and wait for them to kick in. And political or moral views of any sort. Growing up, I was never allowed to hold any views without them getting dismissed as 'trendy'. I am maybe the least trendy person in existence now, and was less so as a teenager. Then came a whole lot of gaslighting from successive partners, housemates and 'friends', after which I quite frankly felt like a character out of Dollhouse and didn't have a lot of idea who I really was. All because people took exception to any sign that I knew myself better than they did.

And the same people who in their view knew more about what was going on in my body and mind than I did probably do think they know more about this particular facet of the person in the next bathroom stall than that person does. But, assuming the person isn't being a nuisance** maybe it's time to focus on dropping a turd or whatever rather than worry about who else is quietly doing their business along the row.

*I don't think trans women are men. I shouldn't have to point that out if you've read any other posts by me on the subject. But many of the aforementioned critics do think that, so I'm trying to accurately reflect what they find problematic about the posters.
**Being the right gender for a given space doesn't, for example, confer the right to behave creepily. And by the way, men who actively try to be a nuisance in womens' toilets don't generally alter their gender presentation to do so.
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X-posted at some other place...

(Content note: depression, exercise talk)

So, the brain crap didn't kill me. I'm not convinced it made me stronger either. (SUCK IT NIETZSCHE)

I managed some of the goals I set this time last year. I didn't manage all of them. I did survive a big eff-off attack of my brain trying to immobilise me at best and kill me at worst, so there's that. I have one more publication than I did then, and another revise and resubmit to address.

I don't really make New Year resolutions these days. So much can change in a year that trying to plan that far ahead is pointless. I don't know where I'll be living or working by this time in 2016, for example. But I do like the idea of January as a time to reboot the good stuff and think of ways to curb the bad stuff.

I know, for example, that I need to be more proactive on the work front. Apply for more jobs, send CVs out, get more of a push on with trying to publish articles. (I can't predict how any specific one will be received, but I can write them more efficiently) When inspiration hits, I need to get something written up. If no inspiration hits, I need to kick my arse to resurrect older projects that may still have potential.

And fitness, well, even in the depths of a brain crap invasion I'm still a bit happier if I am out and exercising, so I need to do as much of that as I have time and spoons for. I have established favourites at this point, but there are so many other things I want to try. I'm signed up for an aerial yoga class next week. There are zumba classes local to me (for the time being) and various things at the university sports centre. (Many of these were members only last year, but there seems to be a payg option now and everything is free during exams) I want to make it to more stretch and flex classes, because lack of bendiness is a major problem for the other things I do. I want to make one class a week the default and two or three something I do when I have more time (as opposed to zero as default and one as something I do when I have time). I'm aiming to go to a few over the next couple of weeks to help me not lose my shit while marking.

On the food front, I have a decent healthy eating plan for the first few weeks of the year. Even if we don't stick to it, at least we'll get the benefits during that time.

Unfuckening is one thing I managed a fair bit of with depression, so there's a limit to how fuckened anywhere has become. Short term, I need to sort out the area by the side of my bed and the food prep surface in the kitchen. Medium term, efforts will need to be (once again) focused on getting ready to move house. It will be less stressful than the Great Move of 2014, and hopefully I can be in a better place mentally than I was when approaching the Phoney Move of 2014.

Random #?!?

Nov. 6th, 2015 08:32 pm
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Depression is like the chocolate levels on Candy Crush. You break one bit of the sticky stuff miring your life and it looks like progress then you go away and do neutral stuff for a bit and two more squares have formed around bits of your world that were previously ok.

Mostly I'm just busy and pressured and trying to chase off an overwhelming sense of doom because it's ridiculously counterproductive to Doing Stuff. And Stuff needs to be Done in the next few days.

I know it's controversial as all get-out, but St John's Wort is quite possibly keeping me from complete loss of shit right now. Which shouldn't be a surprise, I guess, since the cheap little teabags you could get then helped me out a lot as a teenager with no access to any resources but herbs and fresh air for managing all the crap that was going on. I was worried there might be some mutual fuckery when adding this into a regime that also includes nightly 5HTP, but so far there hasn't been a problem.

I need more exercise, but time and energy are in short supply.
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Much as I left it. Brutalist architecture with improbably arranged coloured tiles and one or two shiny bits bolted on. One of the shiny bits opened in my last year there. I always found it a bit cold and creepy, but that could be down to the proximity of finals. It was still a bit that way yesterday though. Friend's wedding went well, but I don't feel that's my business to blog about.

My brain
Functioning but tired. Random anxiety.

Dialling it back because I'd been skiving so much. Long-term fitness is more important than completing a 30-day challenge, and the long game requires building things up much more slowly than those challenges do.

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I've started trying to get my body in better shape again, largely in the hope that it'll help my brain along a bit, either through endorphins or through getting some sort of routine going. My attempts to go back to acro are stymied by planned outdoor meets and surprise rain, and pole involves a lot of logisitical stuff these days that I don't always have the mental capacity for, so I have to do what I can at home.

Cut for the benefit of anyone who is bothered by reading about exercise. )

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Started, kind of, on Sunday evening - a day or two late due to food poisoning. (Logging that so I can check back next month and get a rough timeline of when I'm due again) Pain, weakness etc. - that's why I haven't blogged, beasted, or anything else much.

Reading tastes - veering between light relief (Wendy Holden, Sue Townsend's Queen books) and darker, more disturbing stuff (Julia Crouch's Cuckoo being the book I had the strongest compulsion for). Currently reading a couple of later Cherub stories I picked up in a charity shop. File under escapism. :P

Premenstrual mental crap - off the frigging dial.

Premenstrual pain - quite a lot, spread over longer than usual, hard to tell at times because of food poisoning symptoms mixed in.

Actual period pain - pretty bad at times but probably moderated by the amount of ibuprofen lysine in my system. Have had to resort to codeine a few times. Mini-TENS thingy does a good job of pain control when it works, but it sometimes refuses. I'm particularly frustrated by the fact that an item marketed to help with period pain has trouble sticking properly to a body with curves. Still getting cramps on Thursday, which is incredibly annoying.

Gore control - going pretty well. Pleasantly surprised by the Feminine Wear nighttime pad in particular. (I still dislike the name - femininity is not a criteria for perioding) Here be gore, but also discussion of reusable pads that work. )
Disposables: none used as of Thursday.

Reusables: more difficulty than usual with the Mooncup. Pads are working out well for the time being. Not sure how well I'll be able to dry them when the weather isn't either hot enough to dry things naturally or cold enough to have radiators on. That's the trouble with things designed to absorb liquid efficiently! I'm tempted to buy more, but then again I need to work my way through my hoard of disposables so my winter tights have a proper home when I get them out again.

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-Getting up at 7
-Having a mass pre-wash disinfecting session for various t-shirts that had developed a whiffy armpit problem.
-Running the dishwasher so it was finished by 830. Ok, I decided not to go out this morning, but I could have done if I'd wanted.
-Cleaning the kitchen.
-Putting outdoor-ready clothing on.
-Making a brunch of rice, peas and tofu, with a second helping for proper lunchtime. (Breakfast was a protein bar at around 8am which is normally before I get up, so I was hungry by 1030)
-Recovering sufficiently from Jehovahgate to do anything at all further today
-Putting the rubbish out, including collecting everything from upstairs.
-Completing this UfYH mini-challenge in the process.
-Disinfecting and washing the rug from the bathroom with the intention of putting it next to the shower in the other room when it's dry. (I don't have baths so much in the summer, because I need to wash more often and there's less water around and it's warm enough to be starkers without immersing in near-boiling water, so the shower is the only point at which anyone really drips on the floor these days.)

Don't get me wrong, I still feel anxious and a bit dead from overwhelm because everything I've done today involves Remembering Stages Of Things to a greater extent than I'd like. But I'm functioning and more.

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The normal 'things I've beasted' is postponed until later because although I have beasted a lot this morning I am raw and anxious and tbh religion has something to do with that and I just had to answer the door to the jehovahs because we're expecting a delivery so I can't ignore it. Annoying.
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The conjunction of trashing human rights all over the place while bringing back fox hunting is this government in a nutshell. You can't have fair treatment at work, or the means to survival, your freedoms are being gradually eroded - but oh look, here's the opportunity to kill a fox. And not just to kill a fox, which the current law doesn't prohibit, but to do so in a poncier and more overblown way. And not just to do that, which half the time hunts get away with anyway because rural police tend to believe you if you say you're following a drag scent (a dead animal or a guy pulling a piss-stained item of clothing, not Lily Savage's perfume), but to do it out in the open with no need to lie convincingly to the cops. It will be easier to kill a fox in a poncy and overblown way than to walk down a city street looking vaguely foreign or to claim any sort of disability allowance if ATOS determine that you can lift the little finger on your left hand far enough to press a button. Of course the Tories are the party of human rights, if you have a very messed up idea of what that means.
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Ok, not 'impossible' so much as 'things my premenstrual brain and subsequently painy body really want me not to do', but still. I have achieved something, even if I crash for the rest of the day.

-Exercise. Can't crank out as many sit-ups and crunches as I once could, but it's the best I've done in a while so that'll have to do.

-Sainsbury's. Going to Sainsbury's is currently on my top five things that may induce panic. And it was raining, so leaving the house was less appealing. But I managed to get there as soon as it opened and get most of my stuff before it got crowded, so not as bad as usual. Then I was heading straight for a checkout with a basket I could only just carry with both hands and things threatening to fall out of it* when an operative directed me towards a basket-only till. Fair enough, they want people with baskets to use those so people with trolleys have a clearer run, but a) this basket was heavy, b) and the store wasn't that crowded, and c) the people behind me in the basket line were very pissed off indeed that they went to the special basket till and had to queue behind someone who had most of a week's worth of groceries. Still, not as bad as it could have been!

-Job application. I finished writing my statement yesterday, but had to do a lot of fiddly stuff today. Managed it while lunch was cooking.

*I have to use a basket, not a trolley, to measure how much stuff I can carry home. If I can just about lift it with both hands and walk slowly, I can spread the contents between a rucksack and two bags and get home without staggering or needing a break.
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Here be period talk, not too graphic by my standards though )
-Running and unloading the dishwasher as soon as it got full.
-Having chocolate in the house and not eating it all instantly despite being premenstrual and having to write self-promotional stuff for a job application.
-Remembering to wear a weight bracelet on my once-injured now pretty puny left arm while around the house.
-Exercising this morning. Not for long, and in a style of dress only Plato would approve of, but still.

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Over the last few years I've resigned myself to summer being one long Bad Brain Time. I'm never at my most on the ball, I'm more forgetful, and random attacks of wanting to die are more likely - often because there's less to distract me. I guess I just have to be happy about every small triumph, but some of them are very small.
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I packed some books today. That isn't the main point of this story, but it's the starting point. I decided to pack the books that I had out, so I could get other ones out and sort through them. I have a lot of books. Hence, I ran out of plastic boxes of the right size. (part of the reason I'm ok with repacking some is that they are in massive boxes I have trouble lifting) I had my soft toys in a plastic box of the right size. They were in such a box because the estate agent in Stirling said they should be packed away early on for viewings, so they needed to be in something stackable. They don't need to be in a small plastic box for this move, so I unpacked them. Here's where it gets nasty.

Our spare bedroom in Stirling used to be prone to infestations of small brown insects, of the 'oh thank f*ck they're not mouse turds' variety. I never saw a live one, but every time I cleaned that room over the summer I'd be sweeping up dead ones. I have no idea where the live ones lived. I'm not sure I want to know.

So, I lifted the lid of the plastic box, and noticed that the topmost duck had a few insects on. Yuck, and how did I not notice when packing them? Probably because I did it in a hurry before the next viewing. Then I noticed more insects. Every plush critter in that box needed a few insects brushing off. Thankfully none of them were damaged, but I was getting a bit phased. Then I came to the fluffy yellow duck with a (thankfully detachable, you'll see why in a minute) lavender scented heat pack in a pouch. I brushed the insects off. I remembered the pouch. I realised, urgh urgh urgh, that the heat pack was the likely source of the insects. The heat pack is in the bin. The duck has been annointed with citrus oil. My hands have been washed a whole lot. The plastic box has been splashed with cleaning spray and squirted with the shower. I had to talk to an estate agent on the phone in the middle of this. By 'talk' I mean stutter out my less-grossed-out-due-to-distance-from-scene partner's mobile number.

I guess 'I binned the heat pack' is probably quite a mild ending as horror films go, but the moment of discovery was pretty grim.
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I had a look at the free sample of Marie Kondo's book, 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (Up)'. (The up is in brackets as it doesn't appear on some editions - I'm happy to leave it out, since while 'tidying' raises my hackles a little, 'tidying *up*' induces mild to moderate panic for various reasons.)

The background for this is that, to a great extent, I am intrinsically somewhat untidy. Firstly because 'tidying' is a massive category, containing hundreds of thousands of possible millions of subcategories and the way my brain functions (or doesn't) means I am bound to miss one or two of those, and the best I can do is live with this and not get ALL THE ANXIETY about it. Which means that for a long time I was less anxious about living in a complete tip where I could only move across the small parts of the room where I'd cleared a path than about trying to tackle the mess. (Suffice to say, in no instance has this made moving house more fun) It's only in the last few years that tiplike living conditions have started to make me sad. Secondly, because (with the exceptions of the smelly or dangerous sort) leaving messes untidied bothers me considerably less than leaving certain other tasks undone. Thirdly, I have hoarder-like tendencies that reached their peak a couple of years ago when I finally decided to reverse the trend. I no longer have class registers from three jobs ago or notes from my least favourite undergraduate modules in my possession. Books I don't enjoy reading get released back into the wild so someone with different tastes from me can find them. Shower gel gets finished, unless it is truly grim and then it gets binned. I buy one batch of my favourite usually-expensive thing on special offer, not ten. But, and this is a big enough BUT to impress Sir Mix-A-Lot, minimalism will never work for me and I have given up trying to force myself into that nearly-empty box.

The take-home point here is that I tidy better if I can avoid anxiety about it. I really wanted to look at Kondo's book and see the 'magic' she purports to work, find some inspiration - and, let's face it, make the next house move as un-ordeal-like as possible because things are already sorted before they need to be packed.

The first two pages, where she details her routine on coming home from work, made me suspect that we may not be compatible. She unpacks her handbag every day and puts everything away in its proper place. I unpack my handbag once a month or so, cull the receipts and vouchers and bus/train tickets and put the necessary stuff back. I thought for a bit about trying her routine, and realised that it would make my morning routine longer and open all sorts of windows for forgetting to take something vital out with me. On the other hand, my bag has a proper place - the bottom of the stairs - where I put it carefully on returning home. So I figured there was scope for adapting her method.

There is something strangely compelling about every item in your home having a place. Certainly I can see the appeal of an alternative to forcing as much storage into a place as possible and as much stuff into each storage unit. But, and I like big buts and I cannot lie, it starts to get mildly apocalyptic at this point. Because EVERYTHING COMES UNDONE the minute an OBJECT WITH NO PLACE takes up residence in a previously uncluttered place. This sounds rather like the attitude I grew up with and had to shake off for my own sanity. The idea that a, for example, hairband on the coffee table is a big deal and more of a threat to family harmony than making a fuss about the hairband being on the table because one's teenager forgot about having left it there. I can't deal with the kind of thinking that implies one out of place object is the end of the world.

Suffice to say, I didn't buy the book after reading the eighteen pages that are available on Kondo's website. If you've read beyond that, I'd be interested to hear what you think. In particular, if it gets less or more apocalyptic in tone after the first chapter.
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It isn't the main point of this story, but it kind of became that way in the comments. The original post highlights how, because a library has 'gender neutral' bathrooms, sanitary bins - you know, closed disposal bins to get rid of stuff that is covered in blood - aren't allowed. Seriously? That isn't 'neutral'. That's heavily biased towards people who don't have periods, and against people - women, trans men, non-binary folk - who have periods. Because, what, cis guys would die of shock if they saw evidence of the proper disposal of things that someone else has bled in? Do they also get offended by the contents of the first aid box? And some of these fragile flowers are likely to be heterosexual or bisexual, and we can extrapolate from this that a fair few will have partners who have periods. And guess what, it doesn't seem like the policy is working out - if the aim was to stop people perioding, that's come back to bite everyone in the bum.


May. 31st, 2015 06:21 pm
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I came back here with the intention of posting a whole lot more often than I've managed. Because depression, then period, then cold that turned into something that knocked me out for a week, and back to fighting depression that was hiding in the background during other stuff. Not a helpful combination of factors, if by 'helpful' you mean 'not sabotaging my whole life', which I guess most people would. Doing Stuff in any form has been difficult lately. It's frustrating, because I was just starting to rally after the last bad patch, and that's always the way. Plus, yesterday's unfucking took more out of me than I thought it would while it was in process - too much emotion around a few papers.

After I posted last night I found some animal rights newsletters that I'd put together in the late 90s. They were pretty good. If they were written by someone else I'd have no problem saying 'this person has a good turn of phrase'. Obviously there's a fair bit of identikit AR-talk in there, but it's decent compared to some of the material I've mucked out of my study recently. (which is literate compared to a lot of what I see on facebook!) It was a thankless task at the time - I took over the newsletter a year or so after the previous editor had been kicked out of the group for embezzling, so 'newsletter editor might be embezzling' was ingrained on everyone's minds and my evil dickhead ex did everything he could to play on this so I had to bear a lot of financial costs of putting the thing out, people complained on the occasions a newsletter didn't happen but also complained at any imperfections when one was put together in a hurry, and about so much else. But it was a useful learning curve in many ways.

Today I gave the unfucking of physical space a bit of a break and focused on unfucking my life in general, specifically by applying for a couple of jobs that I thought were worth a shot. Amazingly this wasn't too horrible a process this time, so the motivation-killing part of my depression must be lifting a bit. I did finally crack open my Easter egg and had to bribe myself with a new teen girl dystopia e-book, both of which sap my big girl pants points a bit, but remember this was for TWO job applications in the space of an afternoon. Then I dragged my deskbound arse out for a twenty-minute walk to remind myself that sitting around at home isn't the default.
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