Tell me the truth about livejournal

Go on, indulge me:

Poll #1942764 Is there anybody out there?

Hello j4!

I read this!

I read your livejournal...

only when someone else points me at it

I read it because

I want to find out what you're doing
I like your writing
I hate your writing, but I'm a masochist
I'm bored
I haven't got round to taking you off my friends list yet
The voices tell me to
Something else which I will explain in the comments

I like it when you post about...

I don't like it when you post about...



I would also like to say...

Not intending to fish for compliments, not promising to change what I post in response to popular opinion, just curious as to who's reading and why.

Llama attack

I've decided to make the last few posts (but not this one obviously) friends-only, because they're largely about Img and nursery and stuff and I suspect I probably should be a bit more circumspect about who reads them (though obviously the NSA is still reading them anyway, and Google is probably projecting them on to the moon as we speak). To be honest I should probably make this whole journal friends-only since I have other public blogs for stuff I actively want to make public (as opposed to stuff I'm not too worried about people seeing). It used to be a point of principle that my LJ was entirely public except for very occasional admin posts about change of address, but I'm not really sure what that principle is any more, and I suspect it doesn't apply when I'm posting about someone who doesn't get a say in it. I also suspect that having points of principle about LJ is like having strong opinions about daguerrotypes or something.

(Is there a way to make only posts after a certain date friends-only? Or only posts with a certain tag? There are a few posts I want to keep public. Maybe I should just put them somewhere else. And then I think oh really who cares, only 12 people read this anyway. 12 people and Google and the NSA.)

It's been fun to watch people unfriending me as I post stuff though (I'm guessing it's not so much the content as "oh I forgot she was on my friends list but now she's started posting again, can't remember who she is anyway"). Ah, the drama llamas of yesteryear. To be honest the friendslist angst all seems pretty trivial now compared with the real feeling that my actual friends (some of whom are also my LJ friends, of course) are slipping further and further away from me in time and place and connectedness and it's not some kind of big drama, it's just that people sort of softly and suddenly vanish away. I am very bad at taking people off 'friends lists' but it's starting to feel like the people-I-sorta-like-but-basically-never-see-or-talk-to are diluting the actual friendships (though this is more of a problem on Facebook where I'm 'friends' with loads of people I haven't seen or significantly thought about for a quarter of a century. Need to do something about that.) Maybe that's silly and maybe it doesn't make any difference and maybe the real problem is that I'm a dreadful correspondent or that the people I want to stay friends with just aren't that into me. Not fishing for compliments here, just musing on the way friendships change and the way everything seems to get stretched thinner as I get older.

So tired.

I me mine

In the very short time since my last post, Img has started using the first person pronouns a lot more, so I think we're at some kind of tipping point. This morning she padded into our bedroom and told me "I'm a bit grubby" (a safe bet for a toddler, though she didn't seem to be any more so than usual); when I picked her up from nursery she ran to me and said "MY mummy!"; when a dog barked loudly as I was pushing her home in the buggy she said "That noise is waking me up" (ironic given how hard she was resisting going to sleep at the time) — and there have been lots of other examples. We definitely get more "mine" than "me" or "I", but then defining the boundaries of "mine" is a big thing in her life at the moment. (Rule of thumb: if she can see it, it's hers.)

Yesterday we also learned a new word, "argycue", as in:

Img: "Imi and Iris had an argycue."
Me [trying not to laugh]: "Oh dear, what were you arguing about?"
Img: "Smatching."

I like the idea of it being a cross between an argument and a barbecue, I guess where one of the participants gets roasted.

All the things she said

I was going to do a quick general update on the State of the Img, but it's turned into a long update on her talking. (Those of you who follow me on twitter will have heard lots of the things she says already, but this post is as much for my record as anybody else's.) Updates on other aspects of her life may follow if I get round to writing them...

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Don't underestimate the things that I will do

So over the last couple of days I've been thinking about "having it all".

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The thing is... I've pretty much always lived like this. The only difference is that now there's a child in the mix as well. I have always ended up cycling frantically to and from home, work, meetings, pubs, the station, choir rehearsals/concerts, orchestra rehearsals/concerts, whatever. It's always been an endless game of fox/goose/grain with different modes of transport and assorted instruments/laptops/luggage/shoes/clothes/partners. I had to slow down a bit when I was off on maternity leave (I took a long time to get usefully mobile/functional again, I couldn't cycle with Img, and I wasn't going to work), but otherwise basically I've been "trying to have it all" for the last 20 years or so. Even more so when I was going out with Owen and he still lived in London, so we were trying to live together 90 miles apart and go to every gig/concert/film/party available and each hold down a full-time job. Why is "having it all" only used to apply to a woman trying to look after a child and does a not-working-from-home job? Why not anybody who has, say, a job and a time-consuming hobby and a long-distance partner and a garden to look after and... you know, all the kinds of things that people do whether or not they have children? And yes, I know the answer to that "why not" is "because patriarchy", and because if you're looking after children you're supposed to (or at least supposed to want to) do that 24/7 and never do anything else except [vague handwave] child things ... but, well, it's still silly. So let's stop saying it. PROBLEM SOLVED!

(I have a separate rant about the phrase "work/life balance" and the implied idea that your work is not ACTUALLY PART OF YOUR LIFE, but that will have to wait for another time.)

Hair anxiety

I have a kind of ongoing conversation with myself about shaving my legs. (Yes, that's the kind of boring thing I talk about, even when I'm talking to myself.) It's hard to transcribe the voices in my head because observing them tends to change them, but I've eavesdropped on this one often enough that I reckon I can capture at least some of it faithfully:

"Those legs are getting pretty hairy."
"So? That's fine."
"Well it doesn't look too good."
"Actually you know what I really don't like the way it looks."
"Oh well then you're a slave to the beauty myth. Call yourself a feminist etc etc."
"OK so I'm not allowed to prefer smooth legs?"
"Well in theory you're allowed to, in an ideal world you'd be allowed to, but as things stand you can't have that thought without it being caused by oppressive heteronormative gender stereotyping."
"Right, so I'm not allowed to like what the patriarchy likes? Isn't that just a different sort of lack of freedom of choice?"
"Um... no! It's different. Because you get to choose the better option, not the one that makes women do painful stuff in the name of beauty."
"But shaving my legs isn't painful."
"No but that's not the point. It's mutilating your body just for the sake of -"
"It isn't 'mutilating' anything, any more than cutting my fingernails is. It grows back, you know."
"- and anyway by not shaving your legs you're supporting other women."
"It shows women that they're allowed to have hairy legs."
"So I have to do things I don't like to show other women that they're allowed to resist doing things they don't like?"
"Yeah! ... No, wait, no! Gah, the point is you're not supposed to like smooth legs. Hair is natural, yada yada."
"OK shitting in the woods is natural but you know what I really prefer using an actual toilet and not having to use leaves to wipe and so do you, you hypocrite."
"That's different."
"Is not."
"Is too."
"Ahahaha I see what you did there. Bet nobody else will pick up on it though."
"This is getting a bit meta, isn't it?"
"Always a risk when talking to oneself."
"Was that the fourth wall?"
"I wasn't counting."
"OK, so ... back to the conversation. Hairy legs look scruffy at work. Shaving your legs when you're going to be showing them off at work is just like wearing a tie or something. Hairy legs look scruffy on men too, but men don't tend to wear shorts when they're trying to look smart."
"You're trying to change the subject."
"You're trying to evade my point."
"Ah but anyway you shouldn't be trying to conform by wearing skirts. Especially not short skirts. What are you trying to cash in on your 'erotic capital' or some such bullshit?"
"No, it's just, you know, it's AUGUST."
"Even in August, you shouldn't be focusing on trying to conform. If you were really serious about staying cool you'd wear like a kaftan or something but I don't see you trying that."
"OK, so maybe I'm conforming, but look, I have to conform to some social norms to be taken seriously in my job."
"Which means you're PART OF THE PROBLEM! You shouldn't cave in to that sort of pressure!"
"But I like my job and I like being able to help pay the mortgage and feed my family. Also I actually think it's totally reasonable to expect people to look tidy at work: it's about avoiding foregrounding the clothes so you can get on with concentrating on the important stuff."
"That's unreasonable! People should be able to see past all that surface stuff to the real person underneath."
"Yeah well people should be able to see past fonts and pictures to basic functionality when looking at prototype websites but actually they generally can't. So we work with what we've got and what they can do."
"You mean you're an enabler for being wrong and stupid?"
"No! I mean I'm conservative in what I generate & liberal in what I accept."
"Oh hark at you. Anyway your job should be the same. If it won't accept you with scruffy clothes and hairy legs, then it's a bad job and it's CRUSHING YOUR SOUL."
"I don't have a soul. Aren't you supposed to be an atheist too?"
"Figure of speech. Anyway. BAD JOB. Crushing your something-or-other-that-atheists-have. Get a better one."
"But I like this job. And I don't mind having to wear normal clothes and look like a normal person."
"Well you should! You are SELLING OUT and facilitating oppression!"
"Also I want to wear skirts occasionally. OK usually when all my nice trousers are in the wash, but still. Some skirts are nice."
"You don't really want to wear skirts, you're just - "
"Hang on, you can't play 'false consciousness' twice in the same argument. Penalty card."
"But that's the patriarchy."
"No buts. Anyway it's not only work, I like to look smarter for parties and things as well."
"THAT IS ALSO THE PATRIARCHY! You are trying to conform to what men will like!"
"I am totally not. Firstly nobody has ever turned me down for being too hairy (and nor have I turned anybody else down for being too hairy even though all other things being equal I prefer non-hairy to hairy, but all other things never are equal). Secondly - "
"Are you nearly done?"
"- No. Secondly: I am married, so I already succeeded in attracting someone if that was what I was trying to do, and anyway I am currently too exhausted to be interested in trying to attract anybody, and besides if I was thinking about trying to attract people I'd be thinking about what women would like too - "
"Which is the same, because blah blah male gaze - "
"- shush. Anyway, I am not doing what you say I am doing."
"Look anyway if you must wear a skirt then just wear it with hairy legs."
"But it looks scruffy. I don't like the way it looks."
"Nobody will notice!"
"I'll notice. They're my legs. I am closer to them than anybody else."
"But you shouldn't care if - "
"I hope you're not trying to do that again."
"No! No."
"I will feel scruffy. And then I will feel less confident in what I'm doing. Maybe that's stupid but there it is. Think of it as a placebo."
"[silent eye-roll]"
"So anyway I am totally going to shave my legs because I am a free person."
"[outraged expression]"
"But... not right now. Right now I will just cover them up with these trousers that probably should have gone in the wash yesterday. Because that's what I feel like wearing. Not because I now feel even more guilty and conflicted about shaving my legs."
"Right on, sister!"

There's a bear over there

There are Gromits in Bristol at the moment. There are also gorillas in Norwich, giraffes in Colchester, bears in Congleton, and toads in Hull.

I first saw this phenomenon in Switzerland, with cows, and Wikipedia confirms that it was the originally-Swiss (now international) Cow Parade that started this trend off. It seems to be getting a bit silly, but I guess it's a fairly harmless silly. The idea of 'collecting' (photographing/visiting) the whole set of $animal in $town appeals to my nerdy side, though realistically I'm not likely to do it while it would involve dragging a recalcitrant toddler around with me. Perhaps I should just 'collect' similar projects and add them to the list in the Wikipedia article, because I can do that after bedtime without leaving the house.

Sadly nowhere yet seems to have filled its streets with giant fibreglass badgers.

Checking up

Img had her 2(ish)-year health visitor checkup on Monday, to make sure that her walking/talking/thinking etc is all basically on the right track for her age. I'd tried to explain what we were doing on the way there ("we're going to see some nurses who want to check if you can walk and talk and run around and kick a ball and things like that"), so when the health visitor started explaining to me that they wanted to check if she could walk, talk etc, Img chipped in with "and kick a ball!" which made it look rather as though I'd been coaching her for the test... On the other hand, it did usefully prove to them that she can do the requisite "put two words together" (I was hoping she'd say "Imi put two words together!" but as it was she just chattered away in her normal delightful manner, pointing out everything she could see on the toys and posters ("a cuckoo clock! a tulip and a butterfly! a book about I Want My Potty!") and narrating everything she was doing ("Imi running about! Imi running to her mummy again!") so they quickly got the idea that yes, tick, talking is just fine. (The form we had to fill in actually said "My child talks like other children of the same age" [yes/no] and I wanted to say "No, my child talks much better than most other children of the same age", but I knew that wasn't what they meant because NONE OF THE DAMN QUESTIONS SAY WHAT THEY MEAN so you have to fill it in as if you're a normal person who doesn't realise that words mean things.)

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Grow, grow, grow

Happy New Year! One of my New Year's Resolutions (about which more in a later post) was to post here more often, so here I am. As I said in my LJ Christmas card, the reason I haven't posted more often is that Img is taking up most of my 'spare' time; so it's probably time I did an update on how she's getting on...

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On the whole, she's adorable but exhausting (she basically never stops moving or talking while she's awake, and often doesn't stop either while she's asleep). Of course it's impossible to tell what she'll be like when she's older, but early indications suggest that she's going to be small, stubborn, opinionated, and good with words -- no real surprises there given her parents. ;-)

Anyway, there's lots more I could say about Img, but I've probably already written twice as much as anybody except me is interested in reading! I haven't included photos here, to save your friends-list from baby-photo-spam, but there are loads of pics on Flickr if you want to see what she looks like. (My favourites include an unusually contemplative pose and a photo of her trying ice-cream for the first time.)