Saturday, 28 April 2007

anonymity

I've been thinking about anonymity. Why I'm not going by my full name. Why I protect D and my sisters and family. In the sites I used to have, I used my real name, and probably would have had more to lose - I wrote about how little I did in work, I wrote about my friends, I wrote about everything and anything. These days, I distort names. I protect myself. If you know me, you'd probably recognise me very fast (although some of the distortions would probably confuse you), but if you didn't know me, you'd find it hard to track me down.

Of course, it's unlikely that anything would ever happen that would make anyone care enough to work out who I am and out me, but a lot can happen in two weeks, six months, a year. I don't want to take that risk. I know that not that many people out there have been douced, but it's happened. I don't want it to happen to me.

But I'm thinking about it more and more. There are a couple of friends I have that I don't see very often that I've seriously thought about telling. They would obviously know my name, my address, my phone number. One knows where my family lives. Letting your worlds collide like that makes me nervous.

And there's something I really want to talk about on here. Something that my family don't know about. Something only three people in the world know about (and I think two of those have forgotten). It would be a relief to be able to write about it on here. But if my family ever came across this place? If my line manager, my head of team in work did? I don't want them knowing my private business. And I suppose that answers my question, right there.

But I'm curious. For those (few!) of you who are reading, you're mostly out there quite openly. anx has put up pics (or at least one). Loria goes by her real name and puts up photos. What are the pros and cons, to you, of letting people know who you really are?

I'm curious.

And I've just realised that I don't think I've ever put an email address in my profile. I'll add one, just in case anyone out there wants to email me at any point :)

metro

After my Samaritans shift, I walked to the metro station. I usually get the bus home, but I was going to a friend's house, not home. There's a metro station just near where we are based, but that one's not so convenient for where I was going, so I walked to Manors.

I used to use that station all the time. It's never been hugely busy, at least not while I've lived here, but when the Warner's cinema was opposite it used to get more people in and out. But I used to frequent one of the pubs next to it (I even worked there for a short time, and it's where I met D and one of our best friends) so it was familiar.

Now, it was quiet. There was noone else there, at least until the metro arrived and two people got off. There's a huge university building being built on the site that used to be the cinema now; you'd think that that would get more people going through, but in reality, you're so close to Newcastle that it's not worth getting the metro in. It's easier and often quicker to just walk over the flyover.

I don't get the metro very often, as I may have mentioned before; buses are far more convenient for most of the travelling I do. They changed the pricing structure fairly recently so it's now based on how many zones you're travelling through. I pressed the button for one zone and started to put my money in, but then realised that it was two zones from there to home. Pressed cancel and selected two zones.

Just as I put the second coin in and the ticket started to print, I remembered that I wasn't going home. I was going to J's house. One zone.

What a waste of 70p.

*panics*

I got confirmation that I have a charity place for the Great North Run this morning.

13.1miles (and the .1 at the end will be the killer).

What on earth was I thinking?

blasts from the past

In the last week, three people I've not heard from in years have got in touch with me.
One phoned; one through facebook; one emailed an address i've been thinking of getting rid of.

I've been wanting to attract more happiness into my life. i hope that this is the start of it. because i'm really excited to hear from them all.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

the rabbit

There are some small grey rabbits that live on the grass outside the Civic Centre.

It was one of the rabbits that inspired this blog. I was going home on the bus one night and it was sitting there. Not more than ten feet away from a road full of heavy traffic. Just sitting, watching, eating grass. Not seeming to care about the people and cars. I'd been wanting to start up a blog again - it's a long time since I had a blog (well, a pita - hosted at pitas.com - I've just looked and although I can't log in it's still out there. Weird.) I had a livejournal more recently, but I never did like the way they worked. And I'd been looking for a hook. A raison d'etre for my blog. The rabbit just made me remember quite what a unique city Newcastle is, and there was my flash of inspiration.

I saw three rabbits tonight. Two sitting together, eating grass, the third a little way away, seeming to watch my bus go past. Just enjoying the April sunshine, not a care in the world.

There's probably a lesson in there for me somewhere.

intruder

There's an exclamation from the bathroom. I'm tucked up in bed reading already; I consider getting up to investigate, but only for a second. Why would I get out of bed without knowing for sure I need to? He'll call if he needs me.

Unfortunately, a minute later, he does. 'B, I need you...' I sigh, put my book down (highly recommended so far, btw) and grab my dressing gown.

'What is it?' I call as I walk through.

'A slug' comes his reply.

My face twists involuntarily. I was hoping for a spider. I don't like spiders, but I'm better at dealing with them than D. All I need is a glass and I can put them outside. Slugs? Far more complicated, not least because although I'm the better at dealing with them, I hate and detest the things. They creep me out. And although we get less of them since we had our bathroom done, our ground floor bathroom means we'll always get them occasionally.

When I see it, I almost panic. It's huge. And it's heading towards the corner of the wall. How on earth am I going to pick it up? I usually use half a roll of kitchen roll, pick it off the wall so I can't feel it under there, and stick it out the window. I don't want them in my garden, but I can't bear to kill them. I poured salt over one in my kitchen once when I was a student and pretty tipsy, and I was horrified by what happened. I cried. I'd rather let them take their chances with my neighbour's slug pellets than do anything to them myself. After considering for a minute, I fetch the dustpan and brush from the kitchen.

D, standing helpfully in the corner, knows I like snails. I know it's basically the same creature and so highly illogical, but for whatever reason, snails are cute. Slugs are horrible. So he suggests 'why not think of it as a homeless snail?'

I'm about to snap at him, before I realise he could be onto something. This is a huge slug, and I'm going to need something to help me deal with it. I hate the idea of even holding something that's holding a slug, but maybe I can get round it that way. 'OK', I say.

I hold out the dustpan, trying to work out what angle I need to hold it at to knock the slug snail onto the dustpan. It shivers away, but then starts to move towards the dustpan. 'That makes life easier' I comment.

'Henry the homeless snail' D says encouragingly. 'He was evicted from his last shell because he lost his job and didn't have any money to pay the rent.'

'Poor thing,' I murmur. I'm still hating this, but suddenly I'm calmer. I wait til Henry is mostly onto the dustpan, then I move over to the window and fling him out into the darkness.

It's ridiculous, but it's true. Thinking of a slug as a homeless snail makes them easier for me to deal with. I am so sad.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

random

OK, back to Nine Inch Nails, but just for a second, I swear. There are frickin' morse code messages hidden in the music to point to websites. I thought it sounded like morse code and knowing Trent I'm not surprised, but still. Oh My God. Too much spare time on your hands now you're not getting wasted every minute of the day.

Also, Trent. Facade (please imagine the cedilla under the c, OK, i don't know how to find it)? DOES NOT rhyme with God. I don't care what you say. I'm also not convinced by control & full, or, dear god, by Guatemala & and-a. WTF?

However, you know what is cool? The CD changes from being black to being white when it heats up (ie when you play it). Woohoo. Of course, I'm too busy listening to it to have actually seen it yet, but that's not the point, eh?

Anyway. Dropping that topic again.

The oilseed rape is out. Looking out of our office window it's like someone spilled bright yellow paint in patches on the horizon. It surprises me every time.

Someone in a big car, a merc or something, pulled out in front of my bus this morning. The driver had to brake sharply to avoid going into the back of the car. That was all very well, but then the bus driver accelerated towards the car again and breaked even more sharply, throwing everyone forward, then drove bumper-to-bumper with the car in the slow-moving traffic until we reached
a standstill at the traffic lights. Then we heard shouting. I still don't even know whether it was the driver of the bus or the car in front shouting. And in our best English way, everyone on the bus looked around, shocked, and then did nothing. One woman sitting right at the front looked like she was going to investigate, but she just peered around at the driver and then sat down again.

The thing that got me most? Nearly everyone getting off the bus said thank you. I usually say thank you to my bus drivers, but this one scared the bejesus out of me; I didn't.

insomnia

I'm rather tired. D can't sleep either; he's tossing and turning and I thought at least one of us should have a chance at being able to sleep and I knew my being awake was disturbing him too. when i couldn't distract my mind from starting to write this post in my mind i knew it was me who'd have to get up.

I finally listened to my new Nine Inch Nails cd today. I'm loving the music, but I have a nagging feeling that it's going to be one of those cds I just can't listen to, because it disturbs me too much. I used to have Antichrist Superstar by Marilyn Manson, and I loved it, but it did my head in and in the end I just couldn't deal with having it in my living space and I gave it away. Year Zero might be the same for me. There is just so much going on that I can't deal.

In one of his previous CDs, there was a section that went:
i wanna do everything
i wanna be everywhere
i wanna f*ck everyone in the world
i wanna do something that matters

starting out as a murmur and repeating, louder and louder, until the frustration leaps out and beats you over the head. and i can relate to that feeling. It's past midnight so it's wednesday now. tomorrow will be thursday. and that's going to repeat, ad nauseam, until i'm dead and way, way beyond. and that can be a source of strength, i get that; no day, no matter how bad, can last forever. there is always something new to do. but sometimes, i wish something different would happen. the days would fall in a different order; january would follow october and be superceded by july. i love the seasons, each in their own different way, but by the end of each i'm bored. how much more would i love them if i never knew what to expect. *insert comment about the unpredictability of english weather here*

so i can understand that Trent wants to rip this world apart and start again, to make something different happen. But I don't get on well with such dystopian predictions of the future. it does my head in. and the amount of deconstruction, of searching for meaning, that is going on out there in nin forums (and the thought that there is almost certainly more to come, and more that is out there that hasn't been discovered).... i can't cope. the amount of time and money and effort that is being spent to sell an album? even if trent would argue that it's not to sell the album, it is the album, that is time and effort and money that could have been used to make a difference.

it's almost enough to make me wish he would go back on the drugs. but i wouldn't wish that on anyone.

i want something to change. i want to be out of debt, already. i want to rip the guts out of this place and start over from scratch. i want to keep d and my family (in which i include one of my best friends, just to be clear), but make over every other part of my life.

i have so little to do in work that i could cry. and, like the last time i was in this situation, i'm rapidly loosing faith in my skills and my capacity for hard work, and sinking into misery. (that last bit is probably a little bit of an exaggeration, but if you can't exaggerate when you can't sleep, then when can you?) and yet there are very few jobs out there that i can apply for, that would let me earn enough money to keep paying off the damned debts and stay on track for hopefully thinking about children next year. and i also know all the arguments about 'there's never a good time to have kids' but there are bad times and worse times, and right now would be a worse time. i could do a qualification; but i don't want to work hard for something i have no interest in when i don't see what i'm doing right now as a long term career. i could do something for the love of it; but that won't help me get out of that damned office right now. i'm moving towards 'for the love of it', but it's going to be hard.

i could move. but this is home, in a way nowhere has ever really been before. it is for d too; i doubt i could persuade him to move, even if i wanted to. especially if he knew i didn't really want to.

depression and addictions run in my family. mostly well contained and dealt with successfully, but the tendency is there. it scares me on nights like this. but i pray, and i don't even know who i pray to, that the fact i'm aware of it can mean that i can fight it off in myself.

so now i'll go and do my washing up and my ironing, because i can't stand the thought that they will be there when i wake up. when i've finished i'll make myself a hot drink and try to relax. And hopefully soon i'll be able to go to sleep. because i have to be able to smile in the morning, or i will not be able to make myself go to work.

i'm sorry about the incoherence and possibly slightly disturbing nature of this post. usual functions will return soon. i promise to try and keep any mention of trent reznor and nin to a minimum in future.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

bus stop

There's a lady at the bus stop who always reminds me of the Queen.

It's nothing physical; it's hard to put my finger on why. I think it's something to do with the way she's always smiling, always calm. I've never seen her look anything else. She always arrives at the bus stop at the same time (not like me; flexitime is both a blessing and a curse) and seems to know all the regulars (again, not something I do). She wears a red coat and always gets off at the same stop. I smile and say hi if I reach the stop and she's looking, but I kind of feel intimidated to say any more than that.

I recognise some of the people who use my bus stop, but not everyone. There's the long haired guy who always wears a suit and listens to his stereo; not many people on the bus wear suits, and not many of the men have long hair, so he always stands out. There's the woman with long dark hair and bright red lipstick, the one who's blond and always looks kinda stressed.

I don't really know why some of my fellow passengers stick in my head and some don't - some of the ones who I remember are distinctive, but some aren't. It's not even that I remember the ones who are friendly. I think it's that some of them stir my curiosity. The juxtaposition of the suit and the long hair; the fact she is always smiling; the fact she is never smiling. (Maybe that last one is just not a morning person. God knows I can relate.)

But I think the thing that gets me most is that I rarely, if ever, see any of these people coming home. No matter how early or late I leave Newcastle, I've only seen two of them on the return journey; one of them three times, one of them twice.

And one of the things I wonder? If I'm one of the ones that stick, or one of the ones that are instantly forgettable. Someone who people notice, or someone who can blend in.

I don't know which I'd rather be.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Dizzy

Dizzy. Hoping that doesn't mean I'm about to be ill. Please keep your fingers crossed for me eh?

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Snapshots of today

Out for a run this morning. Hard work at first but eventually I settle into a rhythm, telling myself 'that's a quarter of the way', 'that's a third', 'that's a half'. I run my whole route without stopping, and return home hot and exhausted but happy.

D teaches me to change a tyre. I've been shown but I've never done it myself before. I think it's something everyone should be able to do, so I'm proud of myself.

Bus ride home tonight. The bus is quiet. Two couples get off the bus at the stop before me. I wonder where they've been, all dressed up, to be coming home so early. There's a couple a few seats in front of me; he's a bit big, looks like a charver. The girl is very big, her hair scraped back in an untidy ponytail. She's only half on the seat and I wonder why she doesn't sit on the seat in front as there are plenty empty.

Walking up the road from the bus stop there's a smell of smoke in the air and I wonder if someone's had a bonfire. The air is silent. I always love the walk back from the bus after a late-night Samaritans shift. I become aware of the quiet murmur of voices; there's a couple peering under the bonnet of a car as I walk past, discussing the clunking noise that it makes and trying to work out what's wrong by torchlight.

D watching a film and eating beans on toast as I get in, pausing the DVD to give me a kiss.

It's been a good day.

Friday, 20 April 2007

I've just posted about a million photos on facebook. I have had too much wine and it's gone to my head. D is watching Jaws 2. I really should go to bed now.

Is anyone else on facebook? Am I the only one that's loving it? The people I know on there seem to be having fun, but most of them have joined because I invited them. I don't get how you would make 'friends' with people you didn't already know. If anyone I didn't know requested to be my friend, I would wonder if they were a crazy stalker person. But maybe I'm mad too.

I really should get to bed now before I fall off my chair. I am such a lightweight.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Clouds

Wow, I miss four days posting due to a sudden burst of social activity (friends staying, friends visiting, trips to the coast, etc) and loose all my readers. I'll make sure I don't do that again....

I looked up in work today and jumped. Where earlier there had been light cloud and pale blue sky, suddenly there were dark rain clouds. I hadn't looked up for a while and the change really unnerved me. I could see the edge of the cloud in the sky and watched as the blackness moved over the city, edging out the daylight. The rain fell heavily, blurring the view of the hill on the opposite bank, washing away the memories of the sun and warmth of the last few days.

But as I looked more closely, I could see the breaks in the cloud, the blueness above. Through the afternoon, the cloud faded and broke, and while the sun didn't come back out, the sky was brighter.

Nothing lasts forever.


It feels like Friday today. I'm going to be devastated in the morning when I realise it's not Saturday. Bedtime for B, I think.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

It was a beautiful evening. I went for a run after work; I had to force myself to go out as I was rather tired, but I really enjoyed it. Really tired myself out though.

Running up the main road I could smell a barbeque. It smelled delicious, and made me long for the long hot evenings of summer - it was sunny, but cool by the time I went out. Sitting round with friends, drinking cold beers, eating home-made kebabs and veggie sausages, enjoying the warmth of the sun til it's dark outside.

Of course, you never remember the problems getting the bloody thing to start, the rain that pours down even though the weather forecast swore it would be dry for the next fortnight, the flies, the people who get drunk and throw up (or just won't go home no matter how much you hint).

This week is strange. I feel like I keep stopping and starting and never really get anything done. Maybe I'll be able to make some progress at the weekend.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

late night journey

Written in my diary Sunday night and transcribed Tuesday night. Sorry about the delay and the lack of posts over the weekend. I had a friend staying, a party, an overnight. It kept me well away from the PC.

The air is cool and still as I step out of the door, tired from the heat of the day. Sound should carry a long way in the stillness, but it doesn't. A car goes past the end of the road; it seems to explode out of nowhere and is past in just an instant. The world seems silent and empty as I walk down the road.

On the grass behind the bus stop some kids are playing football in the dark. I wonder idly whether my uppermost thought is to be pleased to see teenagers taking voluntary physical exercise so late, or moral indignation that they are out at this time on their own. Some of them look like they should have been tucked up in bed long ago and are far too young to be out unsupervised so late on a school night. I wonder if their parents know where they are. A few of them aren't playing; they sit nestled in the daffodils between the pitch and the road, sitting close together and trying to keep their voices down.

A car turns in from the junction at the end of the road, the driver taking a long hard drag on his cigarette. The cherry glows brightly as he indicates and turns into a side road. As I turn to watch, I notice two cyclists cycling towards me. They approach on almost silent wheels and communicate through silent looks and glances, not saying a word, before swerving off in another direction.

A man walks past with a dog on a lead as a cat crosses a road ahead. I wonder at how calm both the animals are, but then I realise that they can't have seen each other as the man suddenly starts running, dragged on by the dog. The cat easily gets away, unlumbered by a human and a leather lead.

I see my bus before I can hear it, reflected in the shop window opposite. It rounds the corner with its windows blazing. I put out my arm to stop it and get on.


As I leave the next morning and head back to catch the bus home to bed, the cherry blossom petals are like discarded confetti in the gutter.

looking back and forward again

I just got back in touch with an old friend through facebook. I know that it's got so cool that it's stopped being cool, but I use it to keep in touch with my cousins. And then I found out that a friend who I hadn't seen for years, who I'd started to worry about (was he OK?), was on there. Alive and kicking and having moved away from the last place I'd known him at.

I requested to list him as a friend about a month ago now in a haze of relief that he was OK. He's the kind who is a genius in his field but isn't very good at everyday life, and who doesn't keep up with people very well. I sent him a message after a couple of weeks, knowing that that would email him again, wondering if the first email had gone astray. This morning I got messages that he and his girlfriend had added me as friends.

I suppose I should mention that although we're friends now, we used to go out. For two years. Quite seriously. I dumped him just after we'd moved into a flat together.

I know. I have the shittiest timing in the WORLD. I realise now how cruel it was. I kind of realised at the time, but all the other options I had seemed just as cruel.

Anyway.

I am so excited to be back in touch with him. He is one of my favourite people in the whole world. He was a nightmare to live with in some ways, but great fun (I remember coming home one day to find he'd made carrot cake for me on a whim) and a genuine nice guy. After the breakup, we lived in that flat for 18 months. It was probably a bad idea, and it was really hard at first, but it made us learn to be friends again. He came to our wedding with his girlfriend, but I've hardly seen or heard from him since then.

But I'm aware that he's not so excited about it. Partly because he doesn't get so excited about these things; partly because it's been a long time now and what does it really mean, that we've added each other on facebook? Sure, we have family that lives near him and we'll try and get down to meet up for a coffee. But I'm never going to be close friends with him again. I know his girlfriend never trusted me; fair enough, he was a bit of a mess when they got together because I'd treated him so badly. I can't blame her for not liking me. I don't like the me that treated him so badly.

I tend not to regret things. It's bad for the soul, and it doesn't do any good. And yet I wish so badly I'd never gone out with him. I value him so highly as a friend, and yet... he's never going to be a close friend again.

We live and learn, I guess. But I wish I could have skipped that one.

Monday, 16 April 2007

finger paralysis

i haven't been on a computer in just over 48 hours, and my fingers seem to have seized up. i can't type properly.

i've had a friend staying over the weekend, and an overnight last night. will post again later, when my brain is working again.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

ten years on from twenty one

Well, loria may not have mentioned my actual age, but it's not hard for anyone who has clicked the 'about me' link on the right to work out.

I was remembering my 21st birthday through the day yesterday; thinking of what I had been doing at certain points during the day. It's strange to think of the me that I was then; the things I've learned, the mistakes I've made, the strides I've made. The people I've lost touch with; the ones I've met. Because birthdays are a time for looking back, and forward.

So here are the lessons I've learned, the things I've accepted about life and myself.

  • That once you've been unfaithful to two different people with the same person, you have to stop and wonder if that one person is the one you should really be with.
  • That I'm not the unfit kid I used to be any more. My body is strong and amazing and can run for miles. Quite literally.
  • That I can choose how confident I am. I don't have to let people make me feel bad.
  • That whether or not your website is popular doesn't really matter, if you enjoy writing it.
  • That even though the above fact is true, and the internet can be a wonderful tool that lets me connect with wonderful people... sometimes it's just a new way of making me feel like the least popular kid in school.
  • That it only matters that I didn't get a degree if I let it matter. And noone cares enough to think less of me because of it.
  • That debt is bad, and tends to be a vicious circle. It's better all round if you don't spend money you don't have.
  • That loving bad 80s music doesn't mean I lose my rock cred. But that if I just listen to pop music, sooner or later my brain will need to binge on good music. That I love metal and rock and goth and that if I don't listen to them, things just don't seem right in my world.
  • That I'm a binger. I'm OK with not eating chocolate until I crack and have some, and then I have to have all the chocolate. I can go without listening to an album for months, but then I'd listen to it five or ten times in a row if it wasn't for D looking like his brain was about to explode from it. That because I am aware of that tendency, I can make sure I don't let it develop anything bad
  • That it's better if I don't drink for a while after bad things happen (breakups, deaths, that kind of thing), else I'll end up addicted. (It's always good to know in advance that addictive tendencies run in your family so that you know to watch out for them.)
  • That it's best for me to keep drinking to excess to once every ten years, because when I do, I tend to throw up on someone's doorstep.
  • That life is much too short to stay in a bad job.
  • That sometimes people turn out to be bastards, and that all you can do is let go of them without bitterness. (I'm working on the without bitterness thing.)
  • That if it's important, you can make anything work. But it might be more effort than it's worth. It's my own call.
  • That if your bathroom is cold, a heated floor feels like luxury.
  • That wet rot in your bathroom really, really sucks.
  • That some friends will stay friends for ever, even if you rarely see them; you can always just pick up where you've left off.
  • That I can survive without a car, but I'd rather not.
  • That I love writing, and I'm happier when I act on that.
  • That I have an amazing family, and it's worth making the effort to stay close, even if geographically we're far apart.
  • That sometimes I feel like I missed out on the childhood lesson on how to make and keep friends.
  • That making a relationship work is hard, but more rewarding that I could have imagined.
  • That it doesn't matter if I'm not cool.
  • That your weight really doesn't matter; it's how fit you are that counts.
  • That you can choose whether or not to wear makeup. That in environmental terms, it's pretty pointless. That I'm still me, still as beautiful as I am, with or without it.
  • That feminism is important. That if we don't fight for the things that matter, we can't rely on someone else to do it for us.
  • That it really doesn't matter if you don't shave your legs or under your arms. That if someone loves you, they won't complain if they understand your reasons.
  • That it does matter what you spend your money on. You can make a difference over a lifetime in choosing where your cash goes.
  • That writing letters or emails or making a phone call sometimes makes a real difference to the world.
  • That sex is important, and you should make time for it. No matter how busy you are.
  • That it's good to have friends or family just down the road that you know will help you and that you will help. And that you need to make time for them.
31 things. Profound and shallow; hard learned and easy; big and small.

I wonder what the next ten years will have in store.

at the bus stop

how the confrontation at the bus stop actually went
(b is standing at the bus stop under the sign. she sees the bus start to turn the corner to get to the stop, moves round to stand ready to board the bus, and sticks her arm out clearly. the people round about move towards the bus stop, ready to board after b)
(a woman who was standing near the bus stop stalks up, stands directly in front of b and sticks her arm out, her every motion screaming of her annoyance. b looks at her with a mixture of curiosity and amusement as the bus rounds the corner.)
b: i do have my arm out...
the woman, very angry and incoherent, so i may have misheard but the sentiment was clear: you were standing there like a lemon!
b: (looks out to make sure her arm really is where she thought it was, before pulling it in before the bus drives into it. boards the bus first and sits down at the back, steaming mad)

how i wish the confrontation had actually gone
(looks out to make sure her arm really is where she thought it was, before pulling it in before the bus drives into it. boards the bus first and sits down at the back, steaming mad)
b: i guess you've stood here on a cold dark wet night too and had the bus drive straight past
the woman: yes, it's so frustrating when you're stood at the back of the queue without realising everyone else is waiting for the other bus
b: yes, i could have cried when it happened to me. no harm done, eh?
(b and the woman smile at each other as the bus pulls up and board together)

we can choose how we deal with these situations. what's the point in choosing the worst possible way to see the situation?

a lesson for myself for next time, i think.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Recipe for a great birthday

Sunshine
Plus a great run
With a friend to take you to the coast and buy you fish and chips
A nap in the afternoon
A friend you rarely see promising to come and visit at the weekend
Texts, emails and cards from nearly everyone you know
And being OK about your age

I wasn't going to mention my birthday, but Loria went ahead and wished me happy birthday anyway :) so yes, it's my birthday. I've had a lovely day. It's been lovely weather and I spent time with loved ones. And I have people coming round at the weekend. What more could anyone ask for.

I hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Geordie curios

I have no idea if you get Weigh Houses in other cities in the UK. I've never seen one anywhere else before. And I'd never ventured in before today. It was just a part of the Grainger Market that I'd never explored.

I went in today. We don't own a pair of scales; I don't believe that the numbers you see on scales (or for that matter your BMI) have much, if anything, to do with your health. Some people who subsist on diet coke and cigarettes can think they are healthy; some athletes would be told they were obese because of their sheer muscle bulk. And if I own scales I tend to obsess about them and weigh myself constantly, beating myself up with numbers, even though I know that the daily fluctuations mean next to nothing.

But I got curious today. I wanted to see what was in there if nothing else. It's basically just an office; it looks quite bare when you walk in. There's a high desk, in front of which is a black slab for you to stand on. Behind the desk sits a woman, collecting ten pence pieces and handing out tickets stamped with the date and with your weight written on in stone, pounds and ounces in return. (I have no idea why your weight is somehow exempt from the metric system, but I'm sure that if it wasn't, they would have been prosecuted by now.)

On the wall opposite are leaflets about your health for the curious to pick up, take home and inwardly digest. I wonder how many people actually do; presumably some people must or they wouldn't bother to put them out, but it doesn't seem like the best way to promote a healthy lifestyle.

It struck me how friendly and cheerful the place is; people come in, take their shoes off and get weighed, but everyone seemed cheerful, no matter what the numbers said.

I don't plan on going back often, but I'm curious to see how my weight changes as I join a running club and start eating to fuel my runs. Paying 10p a time should stop me from obsessing too much.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

easter achievements

I ran the North Tyneside 10k earlier today. I knocked over five minutes off my personal best, or PB. It's still not the best time in the world, but I'm proud.

Roll on the next one.

I'm exhausted now though. Could sleep for a week.
Just as an addendum to my last post, I'd like to point out that I do realise that some people might not want to live in the north east (shock, horror, etc). anxious had some good points in the comments, and
there's always the very good point of 'it just won't suit some people'.

I used to live in Yorkshire. Now, the place I lived was perfectly nice, and I had a nice flat (a lovely flat actually that I still miss to this day). I had friends and I should have been happy.

But I wasn't.

I never settled there. I was never really happy all the time I lived there, and it took me years to realise that it just wasn't home for me. No criticism of the place or me, I just didn't belong there. Contrast that with when I moved here. The first time I visited, I got off the train and it just felt like home. When I arrived here, fresh faced with all my belongings fitting in the back of my parents' car, there were no nerves at all (not like my poor parents!) - I couldn't wait to see what the city had in store for me.

I realise that to some people, Newcastle and surrounding area will be like Yorkshire was for me. And that just because Newcastle is my home, that doesn't mean that everyone will feel that way. It has problems too - our health is shockingly bad, our crime rate isn't great, it's colder than the south, it's far away if your family is down south, public transport (while cheaper than running a car) isn't cheap... I could go on but I'm feeling uninspired this morning.

Newcastle isn't perfect. But for me, the benefits outweigh its problems. It's still home.

Friday, 6 April 2007

There's a Londoner working in the corner shop.

It's rather unnerving, for two reasons. One, that not many Londoners ever seem to move to Newcastle. There's one in work, but that's the only one I've ever met. Talking to her, I'm not sure why more southerners don't make the move up here - property prices are much better up here (although they're getting more expensive, it's going to be a long time before they even start to catch up with prices down south), the crime rate is lower, it's pretty much the only place in England with just as many health problems but we have better healthcare, it's more laid back here, the arts scene has started to rival the capital, everyone knows our reputation as a party city - why the whole country doesn't move up here post haste I'm not sure.

Anyway.

The other reason is that although we do get plenty of people coming here, the ones that do don't normally end up working in shops. I've no idea why, but you rarely hear anything but Geordie accents (or Durham or other accents from within the region) in shops. I'd love to know why.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

sunshine

It's a beautiful day today. Sunny and warm. I have the afternoon off work. My application form was (hand) delivered before the deadline. Our cleaning products are temporarily misplaced (it's a long story*), so I can't make a start on the spring cleaning I planned to do this afternoon. One of the magazines I subscribe to turned up a couple of days ago; the other turned up today. I've got some washing to do, but other than that, I think I might just sit outside and read my magazines.

It's a good day.

*not technically true, but it is a boring story.
Why can't I concentrate? I suppose it's lack of practise, but that's not that reassuring at quarter to one in the morning, when if I just got my head down and finished this form off I could be in bed by 1am. But if I keep faffing like this it will be 2am or 3am before I'm sleeping.

Come on B. One last effort and you can do it. Switch off that internet and it'll help.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

the kindness of strangers

A woman thought I didn't have enough money to pay my bus fare this morning and offered to give me some.

I'd never seen her before in my life (I was at a different bus stop to normal) and could have been anyone. The thing that bugged me was that by the time I'd really realised what a kind gesture she'd made, I was off that bus and stopping the next (which was run by the company I normally use and a lot cheaper). So I didn't really say thank you. I wish I had. I hope my seeming lack of generosity doesn't put her off doing such a kind thing again.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

How the hell do I think I can ever do an OU degree when I can't even make myself sit down and finish an application form for a job I really, really want?

I'm driving myself crazy, I really am. I come up with all these great plans, strokes of sodding genius. I get all excited, I tell people about them, and then they come to nothing. Either because I can't seem to interview well for toffee, or because even when I do interview well I don't get the job offers, or because I don't have the mental strength to make myself follow these things through. I'm so pathetically scared of failure that I won't even let myself try. Because then I retain some modicum of control over the whole process, even if that's only to mean that it's my own choice that I fail. Rather than someone else's choice.

And then people ask 'did anything ever come of that?' and I hang my head as I say no.

Seriously, I'd skip this post if I was you. There are exciting posts about football!! and scenery!! and running!! and all sorts below. They're far better.

the beautiful game

I've alluded to football before (yesterday and earlier), but I feel I should clarify my allegiances before we get any further.

I'm a Liverpool fan by genetics. Born on Merseyside and most of my formative years were spent there, at least as far as football loyalties lie. My family are all Liverpool fans (apart from one of my sisters, who somehow ended up a Man U fan. We've considered disowning her, but just don't have the heart). There was never really any doubt who I would end up supporting.

(I should admit that I did have a short flirtation with supporting Everton, but that had more to do with pity for the underdog than anything else. Everyone in my class when Liverpool played Everton for the FA cup in 1986 supported Liverpool. I supported Everton, because I felt sorry for them.
)

But living in Newcastle with a Newcastle fan means that I'm far more aware of what's going on here with Newcastle than I am of what's going on down in Merseyside. I suppose I could keep up easily on the internet, even listen to the games on local radio over the internet, but I have to admit that in some ways, I don't want to. I'll never be a Geordie; to some here I'll never even be a northerner. (D is adamant that Merseyside is in the South, and that therefore I am a southerner. I know it's south of here, but that's not quite hitting the nail on the head. Anyway.)

But talking about Newcastle, I can interact. I can feel that I belong. I can bond over complaining about the dismal performances. I can talk about the latest acquisitions and rumours. I can forget for days, sometimes, that I'm not actually a Newcastle fan. It's sometimes quite unnerving to remember that I'm not.

I never cared about football all that much before I moved here. This place gets into your blood. It's the only explanation I can find.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Scenery

We have a great view from our office. We're on quite high ground where we are, and I work on one of the top floors. (It's one of those bad reasons for staying in a job.)

Looking out of the window I can see the Tyne Bridge*. The Sage. Monument (or Grey's Monument, to give it its Sunday name).
All the iconic symbols of Newcastle (or, technically, NewcastleGateshead as the tourist people would have us believe these days). You can even see St James' Park. (Which is great for the Newcastle fans in the office, but slightly distressing for the Sunderland ones.)

Looking out at all that there is out there, it feels like you're at the hub of everything that goes on in the city. I could look out all day. On days when the sun shines, it's beautiful out there. The days when the fog covers the Tyne are rare but amazing. It looks like the world ends at the river banks. I've seen some amazing rainbows. Even on the grey days there's something to see.

I've always wished I could take my camera up to the roof and take photos. I've tried from the window, but my camera isn't good enough to filter out the reflections in the glass.

If we ever leave the building, whoever owns it could make money by putting in a viewing station for the tourists. Get the tour bus to stop there and charge to go up. They'd make a fortune.


Hell, if you look right round to one side, you can even see the Byker Wall. But that just makes you appreciate the beautiful things all the more, eh?

*Incidentally, what crazy genuis came up with that idea? Put a webcam on each tower of the bridge. Broadcast the pics live on the internet. I love it, but I can't explain why. Simple. Effective. Have a gold star.