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Having it all - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Having it all
You can't do everything; or so they (the mysterious 'they': hollow men, stuffed with straw) keep telling me. Always contrary, I'm determined to prove them wrong.

On Thursday I headed down to London, where addedentry hustled me through the rain to a Soho cinema to see a Scandinavian film. No, not that sort of film; the other sort, with subtitles and arty film techniques and lots of cigarette smoke. If I sound sneery it's just because I'm self-conscious about my ignorance; I don't see many films, and I fear I don't have the vocabulary to describe Reconstruction as well as it deserves to be described.

The film's four main characters (Alex, the handsome young photographer; Simone, his girlfriend; Aimee, the beautiful but elusive Other Woman; August, her husband) could have been taken from any romantic comedy; but here they appear to have stumbled into a Midwinter Night's dream of dark cafés, closed doors, and empty streets shrouded in cigarette smoke through which they are all chasing shadows.

Alex distractedly leaves Simone's side to pursue the beautiful stranger Aimee (played by the same person); having wooed and won her, he wakes after a passionate one-night stand to find that he has effectively been erased from the world's memory: his girlfriend, his friends, his family no longer recognise him; his flat has disappeared; he no longer exists except in the eyes of Aimee. Torn between trying to regain his former life and trying to win Aimee, he becomes more and more lost in the labyrinth of love and identity, following a silver thread which proves (perhaps...) to be his undoing. Meanwhile, everything that takes place is being written -- recorded, or orchestrated? -- by August, in the novel which he is composing. As events unfold, the plot unravels; the actions of the characters become less realistic, more symbolic, culminating in a quasi-mythical test which Alex must pass in order to win Aimee.

The visual effects shift and change like the allegiances of the characters: from dark and grainy film of rain-soaked streets, to long shots of a sky so bright it hurts the eye, to the sudden intimate focusing on a face so close-up that the pores in the skin can be counted, that the skin becomes an abstract image. If we examine identity too closely, it disappears; but if we stand too far back we risk losing everything. It is a carefully choreographed dance, a game of Find the Lady where the odds are stacked against us, a hall of (smoke and) mirrors where it is only too easy to lose our way, and to only realise this when we stumble out into the harsh light like Orpheus from the underworld and, glancing back, find ourselves alone.

Friday's day off work, though legitimately booked as holiday, felt like a guilty pleasure: a lazy lie-in on a morning when everybody else was trudging to work through the rain. The afternoon's trip to Erotica at the London Olympia should have felt even more guilty, but -- perhaps I'm getting jaded -- it mostly seemed fairly mild and normal to me. As ever, a cornucopia of tat with some gems of good taste buried in it; I bought surprisingly little for myself this time, though I confess I was seduced by an extremely pointy pair of lace-up patent shoes with a four-inch heel.

Getting back to Cambridge in time for a play at 8pm was always going to be something of a race against time, and turned out to involve a hasty pasty dinner on platform 8 and literally running most of the way from the station to the Cambridge Drama Centre (with the timely and much-appreciated aid of directions from local knowledge expert sion_a); in the end we collapsed into the tiny theatre (met with relief by two of O.'s housemates -- a third housemate was acting in the play) with a couple of minutes to spare. The play in question was a new translation of Euripides' Hecuba, performed by the all-female Foursight Theatre Company. I suspect I wasn't in the most receptive mood for Greek tragedy, as the declamations and lamentations fell rather heavily on my weary ears. The musical settings of some of the chorus's speeches (sung a cappella by the actors) were interesting, though -- somewhere between folk music and liturgical singing, eminently appropriate for the stylised presentation of myths and archetypes -- and while there was a slight tendency towards hysteria (appropriate for a woman's theatre company) and melodrama, there were also some good performances from a notably (and, in the programme, notedly) multicultural cast.

There was time afterwards for a couple of pints in the Salisbury Arms, which I should note has a much better selection of cask ales than I remembered (about 6 to choose from) and also sells 4 flavours of biltong. (The ostrich biltong was delicious, and made a pleasant -- if perhaps zoologically inappropriate -- accompaniment to a pint of Tiger.)

On Saturday morning I almost failed to wake up in time to do my shift (or rather semi-shift) at Oxfam Books; got there only slightly late in the end and passed a typically unproductive morning shuffling books around and serving customers. I'm probably at my most useful when I'm "on the till" as this leaves the managers free to do whatever it is they do; unfortunately the till is also the most boring task if, like me, you want to mess about with books. Met up with O. in town for lunch (finding a seat in Tatties on a Saturday lunchtime was little short of miraculous!) and shopping (in which we learned that we have already bought all the books that we would ever think of buying one another so there's No Point Even Trying).

Saturday evening was lnr's birthday party, which was impressively well attended by folk from out of town as well as most of the usual suspects. Sweet to see so many small children (okay, actually only three) enjoying themselves as enthusiastically as the adults. rejs has taken some incriminating photos, including evidence of two people blatantly contravening the "no smirking" rule.

Are you all still reading? Christ. Don't you have anything better to do?

Sunday began with breakfast lunch at the Carlton Arms with the Cambridge Concert Orchestra before our afternoon's concert at the Arbury Community Centre. The aim of the concert was to raise money for the refurbishment of the Centre after it was trashed; given that, it was slightly disappointing to see that most of the audience were friends and family of orchestra members, dutifully coming to offer support, rather than Arbury residents. Not that I can really blame anybody for not wanting to hear us. Still, addedentry and sion_a at least did a passable impression of enjoying the mixture of light classics, show tunes, medleys and novelty items; and the orchestra certainly enjoyed playing the music from Pirates of the Caribbean. Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter" went down fairly well, though the bit of business with everybody tuning to the typewriter's 'A' was probably wasted on 80% of the audience and scorned by 50% of the orchestra. Ah well, it made me laugh.

Sunday night was going to feature some exciting Thai cookery on my part, but the Nasreen Dar turned out not to be open on Sunday nights (as I'd have known if I'd known about their website, natch), and really, there's nowhere else to buy kaffir lime leaves or fresh lemongrass in Arbury. Fortunately we've all been students recently enough that an improvised pseudo-curry was an acceptable substitute. Dinner-related distraction combined with mobile phone incompetence on my part nearly scuppered our chances of meeting up with bopeepsheep, whom I'd barely seen at the party; but contact was eventually made, resulting in a relaxing evening in the pub with addedentry, sion_a, bopeepsheep, imc, smallclanger, lnr, mpinna, and an extremely funny-shaped damerell.

Monday was fox-goose-grain-ishly stressful, waking up at 06:50 to get O. to the station for 07:43, car failing to start, having to borrow sion_a's car, dropping the car off back home, walking into town to collect my bike (left in town after Oxfam on Saturday) and then cycling to work; cycling back from work to home, driving from home (having succeeded in starting the car after about 400 spluttery attempts) to karate, and driving back after a frustrating lesson which has convinced me that really, I shouldn't be grading on Sunday because I just haven't practised enough to make it worthwhile.

I had plans to get all sorts of useful stuff done on Monday night after getting back from karate but ended up just vegetating. I did, however, manage to finish Frederick Forsyth's The Phantom of Manhattan (another Phantom of the Opera spinoff -- supposedly a sequel to Leroux) which read like a creative writing class's end-of-semester exercise. A Year 9 creative writing class. It's worth reading only for the hilarious rant about truth and fiction in the introduction, and for an embarrassingly dreadful chapter which features a dialogue with God. Next I need to read something good... or possibly, having seen the superb efforts by verlaine and venta, work on an evilly difficult lyrics quiz.
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Comments
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: November 23rd, 2004 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Don't you have anything better to do?

Only work. [grin]

Yay, do a lyrics quiz!
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 23rd, 2004 06:48 am (UTC) (Link)
No. It would be a waste of my time & the grading committee's. I'm going to do some practice, and grade next time.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 23rd, 2004 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah, it just means I can do a different subset of "it all" this weekend. :)
hairyears From: hairyears Date: November 23rd, 2004 10:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Also means enjoying the grading, when it comes 'round and when you're ready for it.
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: November 23rd, 2004 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Damn, venta's one is closed now.
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: November 23rd, 2004 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I was vaguely considering visiting Erotica until I saw the ticket prices...

Are you all still reading? Christ. Don't you have anything better to do?

Nope:-)

Sweet to see so many small children (okay, actually only three) enjoying themselves as enthusiastically as the adults.

This makes me feel very old - I'm now old enough to have online friends who have kids and for whom social events have to cater for kids as well as adults. I wasn't expecting to reach this stage for another few years.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 23rd, 2004 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
online friends who have kids and for whom social events have to cater for kids as well as adults

Well, they don't have to cater for kids. There aren't any kids at most of the social events I go to, which is why I thought it was worthy of comment this time.

And as for "old enough to have online friends who have kids" -- well, yes, you're an adult, you have adult friends. (My flist spans ages from 14 to 40something, possibly older... is a 14-year-old friend of mine old because she's "old enough to have online friends who have kids"? Or is it just that she's mature enough to talk to kindred spirits and not get hung up about what age they are?)

Some adults have kids, some don't. At what age do you think people 'should' have kids? At 26 I've been biologically old enough to have kids for 12 years or so now; if I'd married at 21 as I was planning to at the time I'd've probably dutifully had my first litter of Christians about 9 months later; my mum was only a year older than I am now when she had me. On the other hand, I have friends who've waited until nearer 40 to have kids. It should be about personal choice (within obvious biological constraints) rather than social pressure.

Anyway, you can't be old; you're the same age as my little sister...
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: November 23rd, 2004 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, they don't have to cater for kids. There aren't any kids at most of the social events I go to, which is why I thought it was worthy of comment this time.

Ah OK *nods*.

And as for "old enough to have online friends who have kids" -- well, yes, you're an adult, you have adult friends. (My flist spans ages from 14 to 40something, possibly older... is a 14-year-old friend of mine old because she's "old enough to have online friends who have kids"? Or is it just that she's mature enough to talk to kindred spirits and not get hung up about what age they are?)

True - I was approaching it from a kind of general (rather stereotypical) viewpoint eg. as you go through life you inter alia, go from having lots of people your age who are single/establishing careers, then there come lots of marriages/relationships becoming established/committed, then lots of people have kids and as you go through each of those stages the kinds of socialising you do change. I still think of myself as being at the 'post-uni establish careers' stage. It was meant in that general way, and wasn't particularly well thought out.

Hmm - I don't know what age range my friends' list spans - there are a few teenagers and then a few people a fair bit older than me, but I tend to think of it, wrongly, as being a group of people at about my stage in life, since that's where a lot of people are.

Age gets in the way when I expect people older than me to be, by definition, more mature and they're often not (general comment, not aimed at anyone). One of the silliest things I've been known to do is to fall into a pattern of seeing people who are older than me as figures of authority - I stop arguing with them, I stop questioning them and accept what they say as fact. I know now that I shouldn't do this, but it's sometimes very hard to actually stop myself from reacting in that way.

Some adults have kids, some don't. At what age do you think people 'should' have kids? At 26 I've been biologically old enough to have kids for 12 years or so now; if I'd married at 21 as I was planning to at the time I'd've probably dutifully had my first litter of Christians about 9 months later; my mum was only a year older than I am now when she had me. On the other hand, I have friends who've waited until nearer 40 to have kids. It should be about personal choice (within obvious biological constraints) rather than social pressure.

Umm - tricky one this; my opinion isn't really relevant, people should have kids when they feel ready for them, however, I don't think having kids before you're 18 is a particularly good idea. My mother was younger than I am now when she had me - I'm not sure having me at 22 was very good for her. Then again, I'm not sure marrying at 20 was very good for her either.... Personally, I don't want kids till my late 20s/30s. I don't feel that I've got enough life experience yet to be an effective parent and I want to be in a rather more secure financial state (ie. have paid off my loan for LPC fees + be making large dents into my student loan debt + to have bought a house) before I have children. Then again by not starting a family until much later I'm depriving my kids of a nice big age gap - I like having nine years between me and my sister and I think she does too. A gap that big avoids a lot of the sibling rivalry you get when the gap's smaller.

Anyway, you can't be old; you're the same age as my little sister...

Fair enough:-)
(Deleted comment)
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: November 24th, 2004 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Yep:-)

Though for me the more difficult part about growing up was the learning to let people laugh at me without getting upset part.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 23rd, 2004 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)

[part I]

[...] go from having lots of people your age who are single/establishing careers, then there come lots of marriages/relationships becoming established/committed [etc.]

Except, of course, for the people who have kids early and only later have 'careers' (or indeed what I suspect you'd describe as a 'social life'); the people who never have kids or a partner (for whatever reason); the people who bring up kids as single parents; the people who don't seem to allow any of their life-changes to change the socialising that they do, either because they didn't do anything wild in the first place or because they've got babysitters/relatives/other partners to look after the kids while they go pubbing/clubbing/etc. ...

I mean, I can see the general pattern you're thinking of, but it is (as you know) a generalisation; there's no reason to assume that any given individual will fit it, and there's no reason why you should have to follow it yourself unless you want to.

Age gets in the way when I expect people older than me to be, by definition, more mature and they're often not (general comment, not aimed at anyone). [...]

One of the great things I've found about online interaction is that we often don't actually know how old people are unless we explicitly ask or make an effort to find out -- so rather than starting from preconceptions about people based on how old they are or what they look like or what colour their skin is or whether they wear glasses or even what accent they speak with, it's possible to judge people on how they actually interact with other people. Of course, it's not only online interactions where age needn't be an issue; I've no idea how old the three other people on my team are (two are married, one with kids; the other is single) though they've all had enough previous jobs that unless they were real child prodigies they're almost certainly all over 30.

I think it's experience, rather than merely age, that confers wisdom (though I still think we have to choose to learn from our experience -- it doesn't just happen automatically), and while there's a correlation between age and experience it doesn't have to work both ways. So while admittedly it's unlikely that you'll have a huge amount of experience at 14, it's not a given that you'll have much more useful experience (whatever is 'useful' in the context) at 24, or even 34. All of which is to say that there's no reason why somebody older than you should know any more than you about, well, anything, really.

[when people 'should' have kids]
Umm - tricky one this; my opinion isn't really relevant

It was a rhetorical question. :) I don't think there's any 'should' about it really, though there are things it's probably useful to bear in mind when making the decision.

I don't feel that I've got enough life experience yet to be an effective parent and I want to be in a rather more secure financial state

Both sound like pretty sensible reasons to wait, but it's none of my business either way! I don't think anybody ever has "enough" life experience for anything, really, we just muddle through; plenty of people become parents with very little experience yet still make a good job of it, and plenty of people have lots of varied life experience and still find parenting difficult.

[continued in next comment -- curse the character limit!]
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: November 24th, 2004 07:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: [part I]

Except, of course, for the people who have kids early and only later have 'careers' (or indeed what I suspect you'd describe as a 'social life'

*nods* - though I'm intrigued, what do you think I'd describe as a social life?

I mean, I can see the general pattern you're thinking of, but it is (as you know) a generalisation; there's no reason to assume that any given individual will fit it, and there's no reason why you should have to follow it yourself unless you want to.

Yeah, though I feel I 'should' follow it/am expected to do so by my family; and there are at least some bits out of it I'd like at some point - like a partner/kids/early retirement/grandkids. I'm irrationally scared that if I don't stick to it *at all* I'll end up being very lonely. I'm very happy now being single and living alone, but what if, in ten years time all the people I know are married and have drifted away from me/start socialising at the kind of events where one is expected to take a partner? Or indeed, what if I never meet anyone, never have kids and grow old alone?

One of the great things I've found about online interaction is that we often don't actually know how old people are unless we explicitly ask or make an effort to find out -- so rather than starting from preconceptions about people ... it's possible to judge people on how they actually interact with other people.

True - though I tend to assume people are of around my age until I get evidence to the contrary eg. chickenfeet2003 is old enough to actually remember things like the Berlin Wall coming down properly (I've got memories of it, but they're not particularly clear - just of an overwheming sense of happiness but not really understanding why).

Of course, it's not only online interactions where age needn't be an issue; I've no idea how old the three other people on my team are (two are married, one with kids; the other is single) though they've all had enough previous jobs that unless they were real child prodigies they're almost certainly all over 30.

I think it's experience, rather than merely age, that confers wisdom ... All of which is to say that there's no reason why somebody older than you should know any more than you about, well, anything, really.


My entire LPC class is older than me and it initially surprised me how well I more than hold my own with them. True re experience confering wisdom. I just then compare my own experience/knowledge level with my Coffee in Borders attendees and realise that they all know a lot more about a lot of things than I do....and not in the sense of knowledge specific to their jobs/hobbies - they just in general know a lot of things I feel I ought to know and don't, and I've been excusing my own lack of knowledge on being the youngest. (The sensible thing to do would be to learn more about the things I don't know much about, but that requires time which just isn't available at the moment).

Then there are situations in which I feel very lost and incompetent (on the grounds that I think I ought to be able to handle them at my age) - all connected with men (never had a woman do any of these things) eg. how do I get rid of this sleasy guy? or 'Jesus, he's looking at me with an expression that clearly says 'I want you'' how on earth do I deal with this?

I don't think anybody ever has "enough" life experience for anything, really, we just muddle through

Very true; there's certainly something to be said for recognising your own limitations and realising that you've still got things to learn.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 24th, 2004 09:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: [part I]

I'm intrigued, what do you think I'd describe as a social life?

Well, clearly something with no children involved; probably something that involves going out rather than sitting around talking at home while the kids are asleep upstairs... The sort of things (yes, I'm generalising now) that 20somethings usually count as 'a social life'.

am expected to do so by my family

Bad reason to do anything unless it's what you want as well, IMHO!

a partner/kids/early retirement/grandkids

Early retirement -- crikey. I know there's no hope of that for me, but good luck to you if you're in the sort of career where it's possible. Grandkids -- not your choice, any more than it's your parents' choice whether you have kids.

I'm very happy now being single and living alone, but what if, in ten years time all the people I know are married and have drifted away from me/start socialising at the kind of events where one is expected to take a partner?

Then you start socialising elsewhere, meet other people, do other things! Same as usually happens when you start to grow away from one circle of friends. I'm not in touch now with all the people I knew at school, or all the people I knew at university, and I've grown fairly distant from some of the people I was good friends with when I first moved to Cambridge. Marriage doesn't immediately render people too boring to stay friends with, either; your married friends may well introduce new people into the social circle when the friends of their partners start becoming their friends as well. It all shifts and changes.

Not sure what you mean by the sort of events where one is expected to take a partner (unless you just mean that it can be a bit lonely going as a single person when everybody else is in couples -- certainly agree with that), but in general I'd like to think that my friends like to spend time with me because of who I am rather than because I come with a Boyfriend Accessory.

chickenfeet2003 is old enough to actually remember things like the Berlin Wall coming down properly

Goodness, that's old. :-P (I was 11 when the Berlin Wall came down, and I remember it clearly!)

they just in general know a lot of things I feel I ought to know and don't, and I've been excusing my own lack of knowledge on being the youngest

If they're all older than you, and they're the sort of people who acquire experience and knowledge, then they probably will have more than you. It doesn't have to be about "excuses" -- there will always, always be people who know more and have done more than you. And there will be people who know less, and have done less, and not all of them will be younger than you. You know as much as you know, you've done as much as you've done; nobody can ask you for more, just accept what you've done so far and carry on growing and learning!

time which just isn't available at the moment

There's never enough time to do everything. We just learn what we can as we go along.

Then there are situations in which I feel very lost and incompetent (on the grounds that I think I ought to be able to handle them at my age)

There's no 'ought' about it -- and everybody has situations where they feel lost and incompetent. I was 19 when I travelled on a train on my own for the first time; I just hadn't had occasion to do it before then, so how could I have known what to do? I've travelled a lot more since, and learned how to find my way around.

'Jesus, he's looking at me with an expression that clearly says 'I want you'' how on earth do I deal with this?

Can't really offer general advice on this sort of thing, but generally working out what you want is a good starting point; until you know what you want, you can't easily work towards getting it.

realising that you've still got things to learn

EVERYBODY still has things to learn. If we weren't still learning, we'd be dead!
j4 From: j4 Date: November 23rd, 2004 09:50 am (UTC) (Link)

[Part II]

Then again by not starting a family until much later I'm depriving my kids of a nice big age gap

If you had your first at 30 and your second at 39 there'd still be a big age gap. More and more people are waiting longer to have children.

On the other hand... I have no idea what it would have been like to have a big age gap between me and my sister, any more than I know what it would have been like to have a brother, or to be an only child, or to be the younger child, or to grow up in a single-parent family, or with lesbian/gay parents, or to live in a different country, or, or, or... You can't give your hypothetical kids all these experiences, and there are pros and cons to any of them, and different children may react differently (differently from each other, and differently from you-as-a-child) to any of them.

A gap that big avoids a lot of the sibling rivalry

I'll have to take your word for that -- OTOH a smaller gap means you have somebody closer to your own age to play with when you're young, an older sibling in the same school as you for longer (if that's a good thing -- it can have its benefits, though I think in my sister's case it wasn't so welcome), handmedowns that will still be in fashion by the time you grow into them (though again this didn't work in our case because she's taller and thinner than me!) ... and so on.

Anyway. Just trying to say that there's so many different options, and while I have ideas about which I'd prefer, I'd rather make the best of what happens than fret about not being able to make the "ideal" option happen. But then, that's just my take on it, so ... okay, I'm rambling now.
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: November 24th, 2004 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: [Part II]

Yeah, there are benefits to a smaller gap. I know I wouldn't want two under five or so to avoid the jealousy the older child can feel if they're very young when a younger sibling is born.

an older sibling in the same school as you for longer (if that's a good thing -- it can have its benefits, though I think in my sister's case it wasn't so welcome),

My sister hates having teachers at school who remember me - there aren't many of them any more, but she certainly complained about them expecting her to be like me. Helen isn't a minature Karen. She's just as intelligent (if not more so), but there are huge personality differences.

handmedowns that will still be in fashion by the time you grow into them

My handmedowns went to my cousin who is a year and a half older than Helen and then we often found them coming back again for her later on.

Anyway. Just trying to say that there's so many different options, and while I have ideas about which I'd prefer, I'd rather make the best of what happens than fret about not being able to make the "ideal" option happen.

*nods* - I'll certainly make the best of what happens, but that doesn't stop me aiming for something - if I don't get it, I've not really lost much beyond the effort involved in trying to get there.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 24th, 2004 09:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: [Part II]

I know I wouldn't want two under five or so to avoid the jealousy the older child can feel if they're very young when a younger sibling is born.

Hm, I don't think I ever really felt that -- the real jealousy from my side came much later, when as soon as I got permission to do something I'd waited years to be allowed to do, my sis was allowed to do it at the same time. Which never seemed fair. I'm over it now, though. :)

My sister hates having teachers at school who remember me

My sister likewise, when she was still at school; teachers would say to her "Why can't you be more like Janet?" -- bloody idiots! They wanted her to be as academic as I was, and she wasn't at the time. Ironically, she's the one doing a PhD now while I'm faffing about doing graduate jobs that aren't particularly academic or related to my degree. :)

OTOH, some of my friends loved having an older sister in the school -- somebody who could show them around when they were new, and let them see (gasp!) the mysterious Sixth Form Common Room, and go into town with them at lunchtimes when they were still too young to be allowed into town on their own... It all depends on the individuals involved.

I'll certainly make the best of what happens, but that doesn't stop me aiming for something

Fair enough! :)
nja From: nja Date: November 23rd, 2004 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)
(the mysterious 'they': hollow men, stuffed with straw)

Every now and then someone says "ooh, you can't ask for black coffee any more, you have to say 'coffee with no milk', they banned 'black coffee'", or "they won't even let teachers defend themselves when kids are stabbing them". And when I ask who "they" are, nobody knows. It's a shadowy conspiracy, I tell you.
hairyears From: hairyears Date: November 23rd, 2004 10:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Every now and then I say, in a careful and level tone of voice: "Black coffee is traditionally served without milk". It's necessary about one in five times I order black coffee.
fanf From: fanf Date: November 23rd, 2004 09:37 am (UTC) (Link)
There are two Tatties now, one on King St and one on Trinity St (to replace the old greasy spoon).
hairyears From: hairyears Date: November 23rd, 2004 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Friday's day off work, though legitimately booked as holiday, felt like a guilty pleasure

Yay! I love that 'bunking off school' feeling you get when you've got a day off during the week and everyone else in town is working.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 23rd, 2004 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Nice

to see you smiling. Really truly. Yay, you! Photos with you in them and not JUST the dress!
j4 From: j4 Date: November 23rd, 2004 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nice

Thank you... Photos with me in them happen quite a lot, but I'm rarely over-fond of them. I don't think I look like me on any of them, but that's just normal; all it proves is that I haven't got a clue what I look like.

I confess, though, I'm really confused as to how you can genuinely be happy to see a grown woman smiling over shallow and sinful things like parties and plays, when closer to home you can see a preschool Child quite easily managing to have far nobler ideals, give more love to the people around Him, and be a better example to His peers and even his elders than I'll ever be in my lifetime. :-(

Maybe the purpose of my life is to be the other sort of example to others...
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 24th, 2004 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nice

Parties and plays are in general Good Things; you have been unhappy at times in the recent past, deeply so, and as I like you and think your writing is a treasure-trove, I am genuinely happy to see you looking the way you look in those pictures. Happiness is a Good Thing.

Child has his life fairly securely structured at the moment; it's easier for him to have noble ideals and much love than it is for grownups, who have a harder and more complex job. And he isn't always noble :-), believe you me.

However, he is a good example of why we are abjured to be as little children.

Would you like me to stop commenting on your LJ? I won't take offense if that's the case!
j4 From: j4 Date: November 24th, 2004 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nice

you have been unhappy at times in the recent past

Surely from your POV that would be entirely my own fault for Not Being In A Big Warm Snuggly Relationship With God?

as I like you

How can you like me? You barely know me, and I'm diametrically opposed to you in all your morals and ideals; as far as I can tell I stand for everything that you are bringing your Child up to renounce.

he is a good example of why we are abjured to be as little children

"Good Child provides example of why God wants us to be Good."

I mean, obviously the church is keen for us to remain infantilised for ever so that we can't think too hard about all that nasty "unhelpful" intellectual stuff, but I can't see why a hypothetical god would have given people the capacity to become mature human beings if he'd wanted them to remain like toddlers all their lives -- even saintly toddlers like yours. If we're not supposed to learn anything from our time on this planet but rather remain in a state of arrested development, gurgling happily in some kind of sacred sandpit for the rest of our lives, then what's the point of living at all?

Would you like me to stop commenting on your LJ?

I have a world-readable and world-commentable journal. It's entirely up to you whether you comment or not.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 25th, 2004 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nice

Jan, unhappiness is part of human existence and a relationship with a god or God doesn't magically "make people happy". Nor do I think your unhappiness is "your fault" except insofar as we ALL make bad decisions sometimes. I don't think there's a "warm snuggly relationship with God" which is possible, for adults; I can't help it if your own experiences with Christian theology were mediated by St. Aldate's and a bunch of very young Christians rather than by people equipped to deal with your standard of intellectual rigour.

Your characterisations about "my" POV don't apply.

Do I want my kid to be creative, interested in life, able to read widely and retain what he reads? Yes. Would I like him to have the ability you have to engage with being reasonably fit and able? Yes. Insofar as you have those values, we are not diametrically opposed.

Sometimes you portray yourself as a semi-reasoning animal guided entirely by short-term physical satisfactions which you 'know' are 'empty' [more shoes than you know what to do with? ;-) ] and would I want my child to follow that path? Well, no, but you don't even want it for yourself.

Do I want him to be a sometimes selective reader who allows his prejudices to overcome the evidence before his eyes? Well, can he avoid it?
He ISN'T a saint, after all.

Do I know you? Yes and no; mostly no, but it's curious to have read some of your communications since you were an undergraduate, so I have a long-term, if shallow, view of you.

Can I like what I think I see about you? Well, sometimes I don't, but often I do.

The only thing about a small person which I would recommend to anyone is that they tend to cut through a lot of adult self-delusion and sh1te, and they don't bear grudges. It is that which we are recommended to emulate. Your snarky comments about a sandpit will stay there.

Yes, I know it's up to me if I comment on your LJ. I was asking you what *you* wanted and bizarrely enough wanted a straightforward, adult answer.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 25th, 2004 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
would I want my child to follow that path? Well, no, but you don't even want it for yourself

I like owning pretty things. I like eating good food, and I like eating bad food as well, and I don't think it does me any long-term harm, mentally or physically. I want to be able to enjoy the world I live in, because I'm fairly sure it's the only one there is. Yes, I want to enjoy the sunsets and the dappled things and the smiles of children and all the things that it's okay even for Nice People to enjoy; but also the chocolate and the shoes and the sex and the things of which Nice People disapprove. I don't think they're bad things in and of themselves. I don't think happiness -- not just spiritual bliss but worldly and material happiness, physical pleasure, sensual delights, and so on -- is a bad thing to aim for in this life, provided one does it without harming other people (insofar as one can do anything without harming other people) or scaring the horses.

The only thing about a small person which I would recommend to anyone is that they tend to cut through a lot of adult self-delusion and shite, and they don't bear grudges.

I can usually think of more interesting things to do with my energy than bearing grudges.

However, I suspect you mean the "grudge" which I bear against the church. Yes, I am still hurt and angry that people in positions of power and influence did so much to damage me in god's name, and that they continued to be respected for their pastoral work with students after doing me so much harm; that they made no attempt to apologise, or even gave any indication that they realised anything was wrong; that after all their mooing about the importance of 'community' they made no attempt to 'follow up' after I left the church, apart from sending me standard newsletters about the great work they were all doing.

I still bear scars, both mental and physical. In bad weather, they hurt more, and I'm reminded of them more strongly. But I have reclaimed and accepted and assimilated the aspects of myself that the church told me were wrong, and I am happy with that choice because I don't believe those things are wrong in themselves. I am more angry with the institution than the individuals, because I know how hard it is even for someone who is used to independent thought to break away from brainwashing. On the other hand, I think I am a stronger person as a result; I've tried to make the most of a bad situation.

No, toddlers don't bear grudges for things that happened 5 years ago. There's a facetiously obvious reason for this, but also possibly a more sensible aspect to it; at the age of 2 or 3 we don't have structured memory, we don't reason very reliably from cause to effect. I'm not sure the very young have the apparatus in place to bear a grudge even if they wanted to. Maybe it would be nice for adults to be able to go back to a state of mind where they had no structured recollection of time past, no conception of time future beyond the immediate, no bigger picture, and only minimal reasoning ability. I suspect most of us would like to be able to switch our brains off, sometimes. But hopefully we can also do good (whatever we, personally, consider to be 'good') with our scary grudge-bearing adult minds. (You can't do much harm with a lump of jelly, but you can't do much useful with it either; whereas if you have a screwdriver, you have not only the wherewithal to put bookcases up for your friends but also the wherewithal to assemble bombs -- or even simply to stab people with the screwdriver itself.)
From: kaet Date: November 23rd, 2004 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I nearly posted a link to the Naz website about a week ago, but didn't because "Shop has Website" didn't seem like much of an entry, :(. D'oh.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 24th, 2004 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
No worries! I'm just amazed by how uncluttered the website is -- I'd've expected it to be more like the shop. :)
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