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Monday, 19 January 2004

You do what you can, and you dump what you can't

Today I woke up not wanting to wake up. Ever.

I let the alarm go off at five in the morning, and let it continue to drone itself into exhaustion, emitting another screech every ten minutes till six forty-five.
It wasn't that I was tired - I'd gone to bed at half six the night before, figuring that lying awake staring through the window at the tree branches across the night sky was going to be more fruitful than pretending there was anything to be gained by sitting in the darkened front room listening to the reverberating echo of the neighbour's playstation game.
I just lay there, like ice, wondering if I'd ever get out of bed again. If I was ever going to go to work again. If anything would change if I didn't. Eventually I reasoned that it would be humane to tip a giant bag of cat food out in the kitchen and turn the bath taps on before going to bed and boring myself inescapably with my sheer me-ness, till death released me from the utter tedium of being myself.
I got up in the end, simply because if I stayed there, a social conscience would have forced me to contact a medical professional, for my own well being, and in the end it seemed less fuss just to give in and go along with the pretence that reality is still real. If you know what I mean. That any of the tedious stuff matters.

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel sad, or upset, and I'm not about to do anything stupid. I'm just incapable of doing anything at all. I eat things that I know will make me sick, for something to do. I sleep almost all the time. Really simple things seem beyond me. (I've washed the BNPSEA sweater about four times this week, because I keep failing to hang it up to dry.)
I like my job, and I'm good at it - one of the best. I even got a raise this week, for outstanding performance, for god's sake. But I can't summon up the empathy to care if I'm there or if I'm not.
That's new, because no matter how horrific or over-emotional things got over the last few months, I could always rely on the frantic pace of work to cheer me up and snap me out of it. To take me away from being me, and into a safer territory of being there for other people.

I wondered if it was the time of year - it's notoriously grim, grey and stern looking till March or April, here. Most people seem to have emerged from Christmas with gritted teeth and a spark of fire in their eye, as if it's going to take guts to get through it till Spring.
No doubt having to come face to face with Wickedex every single day, as she removes my things from the steadily emptying flat doesn't help. Each room is gradually being wiped clean of its personality and its resonance, until it stands bare and white, for me to echo in. I know for sure it's been utterly mind blowingly difficult for her, too. But that doesn't explain why I spend my weekend lying prostrated, teeth grinding slightly, refusing to move.
Then I wondered if sleeping all the time is itself a symptom of a depression. It's an easy way to hide. And I've been getting the stupidest most basic things wrong, lately. This morning, I forgot the way to work, got lost and missed the eight fifteen meeting. (The one I've missed every week since October, somehow.) I forgot the way.
I've worked at this place since 1994. If there's one thing I fear deep within my bones I will never ever forget, it's the way to Catford. It's beyond belief that I should look around me and not know where I am on this journey, but that's exactly what happened this dank and steely Monday morning.

So at the third meeting in a row after work, when I stupidly managed to inflict upon myself the worst paper cut in history - blood spurting everywhere, real thick gobbets of it, and all round my mouth too, because without a tissue or a plaster, I kept trying to lick it up - I decided to talk to my newly-minted boss, Peachykeenyboy, about all the extra work projects he's been ladling on me.
I told him about splitting up with my partner of nine year's standing last October, about not sleeping, then sleeping too much, and about having her here daily to sort my chaotic flat out to sell it, and trying to find another. I took care to say that the reason I was telling him this was not for pity but to set a context for my behaviour: catching so many bugs and colds, for being late with reports, and for forgetting things. That he might need to give me more reminders than other people this year. And that if he gave me extra work, on top of any reasonable expectations, he shouldn't be surprised if I didn't do it.
I pointed out that I didn't care if it didn't get done. I didn't care if he thought that was crap. That I thought they were stupid for ladling extra pressure consistently onto someone they knew was having a hard time at the moment. And I pointed out that I don't tend to tell people when things are getting too hard, I just push myself harder till I go under.
I mean, really, has that line ever worked on an employer? The truth line?
He thanked me for being honest, and gave me another job to do. I trudged out, carrying a pile of memos and folders, trying to remember the deadlines for this report, that poster, the other data collection. Dripping thick scarlet blood on his carpet. As I left, he pointed out that his life was difficult too. After all, he had a lot of highlighter stock to count up. Someone had stolen his coloured pens, he was convinced of it.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:25 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 19 January 2004 8:48 PM GMT
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Blog it Sideways

Sorry, but I hate the phrase pay it forward .... crap film, too. I refuse to use it in b i g letters, on principle (the principle being that it's Monday, and Monday's been crappy, so far).
I've gone on endlessly about who my fave bloggers are, so I'm going to pick three blogs that I've become addicted to in the last month or so, that I didn't really follow closely before:


It's not like they're not already well known, or they've just started up - it's just that I learn something when I read them, and I keep on going back again. That's a good blog in my book.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:03 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 19 January 2004 8:06 PM GMT
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Hit Whore Bitchie

I'm not going to even mention that I entered the BlogMadness comp....

The Gorgeous Lovelies of Bitchfest have nommed me up for the Hit Whore Bitchie. I have to agree it's true - I mean, just look at that Link Whore list over there .... can I be any more obvious? In fact have you ever seen a blog without my comments on it?

You can vote for me here!

Cheers to Yidaho for the heads up - and if I win, I promise to cry like Gwyneth. Into my beer.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:50 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 19 January 2004 8:42 PM GMT
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Sunday, 18 January 2004

There are things I should know by now, but don't, no matter how often I 'learn':
1. Putting the hot chocolate in the microwave will make it explode.
2. Agreeing to go out for a drink with four dykes is less scary than when it suddenly explodes into fifty, and I will suddenly not feel like going.
3. Doing huge favours for the boss will not be redeemed by any favours I should require.
4. Eating two pints of seafood will always make me throw up.
5. The persistent sound of my neighbour's nintendo and bad Scandinavian eighties pop can induce homicidal rage.
6. The neighbours don't like it when I take photos of them.
7. Just because I've driven to JatB's house a zillion times over the last five years doesn't mean I won't get ridiculously lost in Kilburn.
8. Saturday night, half past eleven; most of the other drivers are drunk. In fact that one's drunk and getting head. I should calm down and stop cutting them up.
9. Most people have pretty boring lives. It's only that we use Hollywood to pretend we don't.
10. There's never going to be a movie where Judi Dench has an impossible affair with Josh Hartnett, that gets wonderful reviews and doesn't merit a single solitary comment on the fact that old trouts don't pull fresh meat like that.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:05 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 18 January 2004 6:08 PM GMT
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Saturday, 17 January 2004


I volunteered to judge the first panel of Bloggies (don't worry, they don't send you any in the categories that you nominated or could be nominated, nor am I about to say who's on the list), and it's taking forever.
The deadline is late today (very very late today, in GMT terms). So far, all I can tell you is that Asian blogs are fantastically well written, beautifully crafted things, whereas the vast majority of European blogs suck. Suck!
Don't you Europeans do anything? Get a hobby, for goodness sakes. Tell us about your difficult to stomach food preferences. The dodgy old woman who lives across the way. Tell us about your hangnail. What freakish fantasies you have about the vicar. Why you hate us lot when we come over as tourists and shout loudly in restaurants. Anything. Just go out and do something.
Right, then, time for a break. I'm off out to do something. :)

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Vanessa/Female/31-35. Lives in United Kingdom/London/East London/Bow, speaks English and German. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection. And likes Literature / Movies/Food / Eating / Drinking.
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This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:18 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 23 January 2004 7:10 PM GMT
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Friday, 16 January 2004

Ye Redeem What is Wanting in Beauty by Pulchritude of Soul

Now Playing: Vanemega's Mixtape

I'm not that cool with the social graces. I'm fairly confident, yeah, but somehow, small talk and tipping the hair dresser defeats me every time.
I mean, what's with the tipping? Do men tip their barbers? Do you tip your hairdresser? The person who washes your hair? The receptionist who's holding your jacket to ransom? There's a social contract I really am not equal to. I'm comfortable with tipping waiters, taxi drivers, and a trip to America did eventually get me used to tipping bar staff, though it grated on my Ebeneezer soul. But tipping hairdressers? And - worse - the shampoo monkey? Nah, I can't cope with that.
I pay by plastic, so I never have denominations of tippable coins and notes, much less differing amounts to recognise each of the girlie wankers' differing level of input in making me look like an over primped badger. It's all I can do to get my lazy arse anywhere within thirty minutes of an appointed time - any appointed time - there's not a noodle's chance I'd achieve the self organisation required to accrue cash in correct denominations, too.
And when do you do it? When do you hand over the filthy lucre? Before you crouch at excruciating angles before their porcelain altar of pain and scalp-scalding ? While still blinded from the chemicals they squirted over half your face while chatting up the bloke next to you? After the snippage? (Jesus, I can't remember what shampoo monkey looked like by then - I was staring at the ceiling cobweb in a frozen rictus trying not to acknowledge the shooting pain in my neck, not eyeballing the menial staff so I'd recognise them later when they aren't upside down or shooting things at my head.)
I suppose I could tip the receptionist, when I pay - but hell, they didn't do anything. There's the moment at the end of the blow dry, when lipgloss starlet abstractedly flashes a smeared and hairy mirror at speed behind you so you can inspect the now visible boil on your nape. Well,I'm too busy wondering how many brain cells it took them to forget I wear specs and can see fuck all of their meisterwerk, and counting the seconds till I can get round the corner from the salon and ruffle it.
To compensate for not tipping, ever, I have to rotate my custom amongst three different hair stylists (interspersed with the inevitable attacks of self loathing with the nail scissors), in the hopes that no-one recognises me enough to hold my stingy trade against me, or worse, to ask me questions about my day job.
Today, I narrowly escaped having to 'chat' about why in hell I stayed in alone on New Year's Eve to the shampoo monkey giving me an otherwise near orgasmically relaxing shampoo (hey, lighten up, it's been a while). At the last minute, I remembered to panickily deflect using the askpointlessquestions technique, and was able to manage a burst of abruptly spaced interrogations in order to dodge further intrusion as to my plans for Friday night.
I'm the silent, thunderous looking bugger in the hair salon - listen, it's bad enough that you wet my head, draped me in a flatteringly vomit coloured cape then sat me for ninety minutes in front of a full length mirror surrounded by thousand watt searchlights while you wriggle your twenty something permatanned belly piercing about and throw ridiculously affected and time consuming shapes with scissors. Expecting me to be unscathed by the experience to the extent that I will tell you, a total stranger, about the fucking holiday I didn't have last year, or the one I'm not fucking planning for next year - that's just cruel.

I used to really be sullen as fuck at the hairdresser's - it's one of the ancestral trades learnt at my granny's knee, so I'm familiar enough with the mystical delights of beer shampoo and a vented blow drier not to respect what's being done to my head, because, given enough mirrors, and probably an extra limb extruding from my spine, I can do it myself. My customary hairdresser banter tended to run a varied line ranging wildly from "it's just shit, innit", through "that's not short enough, do it again", to an eloquent "no."
At least, until my first East End haircut. Tower Hamlets being somewhat rough, the salon round the corner generally holds obvious signs of anything from a recent scuffle to a violent brawl. On one particular occasion, I sat in my winching chair, and noticed that several of the sinks had recently been ripped forcefully from the walls and one of the mirrors was cracked just below head height. Regardless, I wittily quipped "no" at camp hairdresser, as he proceeded to dye a lump of my fringe bright yellow.
A frizzyhaired frowsy looking woman came in forty minutes early for her cut, and asked if she could be seen earlier. Camp 'stylist' politely explained to 'Modom' that this would not be possible. Frizzyhair woman pulled an annoyed face, then bumbled off to do some shopping till she could be seen.
As she exited the 'salon', camp stylist's face metamorphosed so rapidly he could well have been possessed by the evil spirit of Bob Monkhouse.
"Bitch!" he hissed, swooping right down to my ear - "she's going to get a shit haircut now."
With that he minced off to find another pint of hairspray. This one line was all it took to get me chittering like a squirrel denied its nuts. By the time I paid up, not only did I know about his last three holidays in Ibiza, I'd cooed and burbled like a retard over photos of his entire extended family, in a paroxysm of socially discomfited horror about what he might do to my head. (At the minimum, I was experiencing unprompted mental visions of myself wearing a Chelsea smile.)

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:04 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 16 January 2004 8:41 PM GMT
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Thursday, 15 January 2004

Fools Seldom Differ

Gullible Twat: I'd like to arrange a bulky rubbish collection, please.
Council Tinpot Dictator: Could I have your postcode please?
GT: E3.
CTD: And your house number?
GT: 13.
CTD: I'm sorry, we have no record of you living there.
GT: Erm, I do. I pay my council tax and everything.
CTD: I'm afraid we have no record of you living there.
GT: It's a block of flats - perhaps you're looking at just one flat. There are different flats all at the same number.
CTD: What number is your flat?
GT: It doesn't have a number.
CTD: Is it flat one, two or three?
GT: It doesn't have a number. It's just the 'top flat'.
CTD: I beg your pardon?
GT: The one at the top.
CTD: You don't appear to live in any of the flats at number 13.
GT: But I do.
CTD: Do you live in flat number 3?
GT: I - ye - I don't know. There isn't a number. Flat number something. The top one.
CTD: Madam, we have no way of knowing from an address on the system if flat number three is top or bottom.
GT: But it doesn't have a number. It might be flat number 1, if you count down.
CTD: Could it be 'second floor' flat?
GT: Yes - that's it, it's the second floor.
CTD: How are we expected to know that the second floor is the top floor?
GT: But it says 'top flat' on my council tax bill.
CTD: We don't have any record of you here on the council computer. How long have you lived there?
GT: Five years.
CTD: I really wish you'd told me the flat number right at the start.
GT: But - you didn't -
CTD: What items do you want removed?
GT: A settee and a cat tree.
CTD: A what?
GT: A .. er .. a climbing frame.
CTD: Madam, I have no knowledge of what an item like that might be. A climbing frame? What is that?
GT: It's ... er .. a frame. For climbing on. It's tall.
CTD: A climbing frame? Spelt C L I M B I N G?
GT: Um, yesssss, spelt like that.
CTD: And a sofa?
GT: A Settee.
CTD: A sofa. Fine. We'll collect them next Tuesday. Leave them on the pavement.
GT: Is that Tuesday next week?
CTD: Next Tuesday is Tuesday next week madam. Is there anything else I can help you with?
GT: No. Yes. What time will you be here?
CTD: Please leave the items on the pavement the night before madam.
GT: So what time will that be? Roughly?
CTD: Madam, we will arrive sometime between seven thirty am and five pm.
GT: Oh.
CTD: Which is why we ask you to leave it outside. Goodbye Madam.

I can't decide who was the more stupid, him or me.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:09 PM GMT
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Second Law of Thermodynamics

Tuesday: Cat's happyfarts smell of salami. Six times. She doesn't eat salami.

Wednesday: My farts smell of stir fried beef. So that's all right then.

Thursday: Cat's happyfarts smell of cabbage. She doesn't eat cabbage.

Who the hell is feeding the cat this stuff?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:10 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 14 January 2004


Dear Vanessa

You have decided that I am your prisoner. I never ever go out. Except for those few times I got between Wickedex's legs, dashed down the stairs straight into a fight between some monstrous rabid cats.
Still, some sights are arresting. Some days I manage a glimpse of what life might be like if I didn't have a fucker like you locking the door.

Yours, The Cat

Dear Vanessa

I live on the wall at the end of your street. I try to explain why half your street is Georgian terrace, but every now and then is a modern building, looking out of place. Why there's a sign by the tube memorialising all the dead.
I do my level best to remind you that there are worse things than selling your poncey yuppie flat at a vast profit and moving on. But do you fucking notice? Look up more, woman.

With regards, The Sign.

Dear Vanessa

You're a Londoner so I irritate you. I've heard you slagging me off and saying you've seen me eat sick. Flying rat, you called me. And you voted for that bastard mayor who banned pigeon feed.
But I have other issues. I can't swim, see. I have to stand at the side and watch the world get their bread. Maybe it's not so great in there. Maybe the bigger birds peck at you, or nick all the good stuff. Maybe it's icy cold, and you have to fight the others to get to your crumbs.
I know there's nothing I can do about it, but some days you have to dream.

I remain, The Pigeon

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:07 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2004 6:15 PM GMT
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Portrait under Lock and Key

Well, that's my PMS done with for another month. Now I can delete the post slagging off my friends, regain a normal relationship with caffeine, stop loudly proclaiming my abhorrence of deodorants, pretend I didn't do that last irrelevant post at all, blink as I realise I did an enormopost that started and ended with manky tits, and get back to the swearing and cussing as usual.

In the last few days, almost everything I own has disappeared from my flat, spirited away by the engine that is Wickedex; the walls have changed colour, and I can see out of (some) of the windows for the first time in three years. My kitchen is now blue, my hallway is brown, and I possess no music, nail varnish, perfume, tights, dvds or nasty messy videos.
Suddenly, I only have a few books, and they're only one row deep on the suddenly visible shelves. There isn't a small dark hole that opens directly into the attic and makes weird windy rustles any more. My bathroom tiles look like they could be white and not grey. I only have four hair products, and they're kept in a silver box - there's no space in my cabinets for five year old Nurofen or half used shampoo. There's bits of rubble, plaster and boxes over many many floor surfaces, but my cupboards are all empty, or colour coded and regimented.
My back yard contains the smashed remains of a three seater sofa, a cupboard, and a six foot high furry cat tree. Somewhere in the depths of Big Yellow Hell is a cabinet containing carboard box after box after box after box of my mistakes, but for now, it's padlocked, alarmed, and I don't have to open it again till I've spent a hundred and seventy five thousand pounds more.
Sounds like a deal to me.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:46 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2004 5:49 PM GMT
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Now Playing: nothing

It struck me between the eyes when Friendly Stranger wrote:
I haven't felt anything intensely in a long time. That realization is kind of shocking. Joy? Elation? Where's the pain? Hate? Anger? Lust?
A person does feel those, yeah? They do feel those types of emotions on a regular basis, right? I don't know when the last time I felt those was. It's different from the numb drone of day to day. The slow deadening of self that comes from the Singular Routine.

Yesterday I deleted seven and a half thousand emails. Then I threw away all the music I'd collected in my teens and twenties. Every bit. After that, I listened to an orchestral piece that was left in my car, that I can't stop listening to again and again.

Currently, my day is all pain, hate, anger, upheaval, loss, separation, denial - all extreme emotions, and it's the most wearing thing. I spend every minute of my day trying to numb and deaden everything back into that droning routine, because too much drama is exhausting to the emotions, the spirit and the self. It has the same effect. I blog to get away from it.

Sorry, that's completely irrelevant, I know, it just struck me that we were both feeling emotionally anaesthetised, but for the most separate of reasons.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:06 AM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2004 8:07 AM GMT
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Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Written on the Body

The mole on my breast that started out to the left of my nipple when I was ten, and slowly grew and moved, so that it's a way above, now, and sits just above the line of lace on my bra. It raised itself, it split into three plump sections, but it didn't react badly when as a misguided teenager, I tried to slice it. I wonder if one day my breasts will be so old and pendulous that this one will count as a neck mole.
The serrated pale grey roundel on my right knee's instep, with dark blue incision marks, and one black line to the left that reminds me of how cycling at speed in a circle is a stupid idea if you cycle so fast that your bike goes into skid. It reminds me that I took every bit of skin off my left hand, earning no such scar, and surprises me every time that although I skidded on my left side along the gravel, I had the wit to leap sideways from the bike as I did so, and somehow scar the 'wrong' side of my arm and leg. It also reminds me of how I held grudges against my family for angry years as a child - two days after the accident, we were scheduled to take a series of buses to Lancashire to visit my grandmother. We could have stayed home, but we didn't, and although each time I bent my knee the whole graze opened up again, my mum insisted on travelling on the top deck of each of the buses. No doubt with the grizzling, vengeful fuming eight year old that was me in tow. The scar also reminds me that I swore an oath to that revenge.
There's a shadow of a line on my left shin, that recalls the first holiday I took without my family - a primary school trip, aged ten, to the Isle of Wight. I was slightly surprised that guest house furniture wasn't as strong as ours at home, so when the wardrobe I'd clambered onto in order to hurtle onto my bed, repeatedly, collapsed over me, I was more perplexed than actually hurt.
Beneath my chin is a tiny white smile, a map of my oldest scar, and the only time I ever scaled the summit of the playground climbing frame, only to plummet head first onto the nineteen seventies rock hard playground tarmac. As my gran used to say, 'you're lucky you have a tongue left'.
On my left upper elbow is a small white indentation, a memento of a mosquito bite from Cairo when I was seventeen (one of a hundred and twenty seven on my arms, as a long, itching, scabby night testified). I picked it and picked it, tearing the bloody scales from it daily; its scar was a fair exchange for the hundred and twenty six raging prickling rawnesses that I didn't touch.
In my right palm is embedded a small blue solid, five millimetres below the surface - a solid leaden lump serving as a nonfunctional reminder of a crazy golf pencil sharpened to a blade. Notable mostly for the memory of having to explain to my teacher the reason I'd stabbed a sharp pencil directly into my palm was to see if I could. It dates from nineteen eighty, and over the years it's waxed from black to into blue, and slowly dissipated into my flesh.
There's a scar that isn't visible, on my central nervous system - I was a weird, freakish looking, sickly child ('like Robert Stevenson was', I always used to say, hopefully), and contracted poxes and scarlet fevers right up until my twenties. One month of shingles lacerated the connection in the tree of nerve endings that spreads across my back forever, and there's a spot just at the highest point of my right shoulder blade, where if you scratch it, the nervous reflex perceives the sensation as a touch on my lower arm. It always makes me shiver, so I do it often, for fun.
Both my thumbs, twice a month, dry and peel just alongside the nail, so I tear and gouge out bits of flesh with my teeth till they're bleeding, peeled red wounds. I assumed it signified nervousness, or perhaps a hormonal fluctuation, till once, in my twenties, I glanced at my father's thumbs, and saw he had the exact same hands. It's a spooky heredity that makes you tear at your own flesh. I wonder if people who self-harm or mutilate have a genetic predisposition of which they know nothing? I bite my thumb at you, sir.
My left big toe doesn't appear to be different, but since dislocation in a school sports game (I ran only three times throughout my entire adolescence - because just look what happens when you run) it's become clairvoyant. My toe, strangely sentient, aches dully whenever it's about to rain really heavily for days. Which isn't that much of a meteorological surprise in Britain, where we submits to perennial grey drizzle from January until late April. So, thanks, to my lesbian sports teacher, who yelled at me that I was a useless, sodding lump, and made me go to Geography with a grossly swollen foot dangling (then tried to chat me up when I hit seventeen), you left me with a prince among toes, a psychic toe-route to another dimension. Also, my mum wouldn't pay for a taxi to the hospital, so it marks another spot where I swore, one day, vengeance would be mine. I never quite worked out if other kids called upon the heavens to witness their vow of vengeance owed on an annual basis as I did. Puh. Their loss.
As a pimply, whining adolescent I had the most atrocious acne. I have a scar to the side of my left nostril that looks a little like a nose piercing healed over many years ago. I like these scars. They developed after many many hours of poring over a sweaty mirror at thirteen. They provided much needed relief at school - it's so much easier to be called 'pizza face' than 'lesbian' amongst the ignorant wilds of rural pubescence. If it weren't for the acne, I'd never have discovered the glories of William Blake's verse. And it reminds me of the agonies of a two hour home piercing my sister attempted with a dirty needle on her own nose, on her first night at university. I prefer mine. Mine didn't hurt, and I got to squeeze, as a bonus.
A writer's lump on the second index finger of my right hand. I was proud to develop this at age seven. And a texter's rough patch just above the ball of my right thumb, which I was horrified to develop at age thirty two.
Above my left eye is a prolonged snaking fissure, following the arch of my brow, but just below. It marks an important lesson I learnt, about not gorging amphetamines for any extended period of time, because they lead you into fights with people who are demonstrably tougher than you; it reflects a night in Brixton when I decided to rescue someone from being mugged for five pounds and achieved fruition when a cricle of glass was pounded and ground into my face by a gang of five meaty men. I was partially blinded for a year, which I never found less than fascinating. However, the irregular seam left above my eye bothered me - it stemmed directly from my stupidity and my lack of social agility and nous. I deserve this scar. It is a disfigurement in the oldest sense - a dishonour. A blemish of the character as well as my face. So therefore I always assumed it was the first thing people saw. Over the decade since I won this reminder, I've learnt that most observers can't see it even when pointed out - it's only in my mind that they see the disfigurement, then see me.
Finally, the cicatrices in corkscrew whorls about my nipples recall the times I became embroiled in a world I wasn't ready for, in a vain attempt to mutilate myself in order not to be the same, physically not ever the same, as the person whom she'd rejected. I got mixed up in a world where others maintain ulterior motives for causing pain, ones I was not aware of, and have four small white worm obliques spiralling from my aureoles to remind myself not to trust. And these fissures worked, too - I'm not the person she rejected. Not at all.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:30 AM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 January 2004 10:58 AM GMT
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Monday, 12 January 2004


Despite all those meaningless, mindless blogs below, I've been busy as a one-armed paper hanger today.
Good things that happened today:

Yidaho pushed me out of prevaricating blindly, and into getting a flight to Belfast to visit Tess next month. I shall be spreading alarm and despondency in Norn Iron for a change. Hurrah!

JatB came over with a tube of Jaffa cakes for me, and told me I look and sound terrible, which makes it alright for me not to go into work tomorrow, either.

Wickedex and Melons decided not to come over and pile everything into their van today, so I got to sleep all day, while they twisted slowly slowly in the wind.

I heard from my Schwester Snowflake, sur le telephoneo. That's yer actual French, that is.

I got email that set the Thames on fire from loads of people - a friend in Spain, Tess, Dee, Nik, Yidaho, Martin, Looby, Miss London, SarahSpace, ooh, loads of people.

I cuddled my schnuffalicious cats.

You betcha sweet bippy that I nominated all of these people for the Bloggies, and you're all too late to get me back, ha ha ha ha ha ha, so put a sock in it:
Web Frog, Looby, A Trip Down the Shops, I'll Talk to Myself, Blah blah blah, Eurotrash, Not You The Other One, Creepy Lesbo, Countin Flowers, Empty Fridge Light, Belle de Jour, Friendly Stranger's Beer, Too Much Too Little, Lactose Incompetent, Scorpio Girl, Smitten, The Purple Pen, Boyhowdy, Peeling Wallpaper, and Uffish Thoughts.

And can I be bothered to type out URLs for anything in this post? Bugger off, my Jaffa cake high has just run down, and I couldn't run a whelk stall this moment. I'm going to bed.

Sniffle. Pass me the Nurofen.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:25 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2004 9:31 PM GMT
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De Odour Rant

What my mum always told me about deodorants is true!
BBC: Chemicals from underarm deodorants and other cosmetics can build up inside the body, according to a study.
British researchers have found traces of chemicals called parabens in tissue taken from women with breast cancer.
While there is no evidence they cause cancer, the scientists have called for the use of parabens to be reviewed.
I always felt filthy-dirty (say it in an irish accent, please) for not using deodorants. It seems to be a modern disease to feel unclean unless you've shoved a stick of wet carcinogenic soap substitute into your pits to mask that you haven't actually washed enough.
I haven't used a deodorant for at least five years. (And yes, okay, while at secondary school, I did indeed smell slightly of broiled onions, that was before I abandoned the deodorant. I've learnt basic hygiene since then.)
Actually, when I'm in horrendous lust with someone, there's nothing nicer than tasting and smelling their skin. Their natural skin smell, I mean. We seem obsessed with making ourselves smell like a hospital dispensary these days, though, no matter what a daily dosage of chemical irritant on our freshly shaven lymph glands does to us in the long run.
I do wash, though. But I think that all you weirdos with big chemical stinky white streaks under your pits are ... well ... ewwwwwwww.
So there.

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Vanessa/Female/31-35. Lives in United Kingdom/London/East London/Bow, speaks English and German. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection. And likes Literature / Movies/Food / Eating / Drinking.
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This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:05 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2004 9:27 PM GMT
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I am actually addicted to caffeine. I tried giving it up a few years back. I only really drink it in the mornings (well okay, till four in the afternoon), and decided that on a long journey with Harvardboy to recover his stuff from a break up with Kinky, that I'd try going cold turkey. I was stood in Harvardboy's bathroom, ten minutes after waking, trying to sort my head out for a five hour drive, enduring a banging headache from the caffeine withdrawal, and staring in the mirror, thinking "ifheasksifyouwantacoffeesaynoifheasksifyouwantacoffeesaynoifheasksifyouwantacoffeesayno".
Harvardboy called through the door: "coffee?"
"Yes please."
Five minutes. During which I gripped a sink till my knuckles bleached white and talked to myself in the mirror like a loon. That's as much withdrawal from caffeine as I've ever been able to take.
I've learnt not to drink real coffee at work, though, as I go into irrational rages and end up getting official cautions for my irascible and imflammatory attitude. If I'm in a bad mood anyway, coffee exaggerates all of the things in the world that disappoint or annoy me. When you have PMT, it's annoyance at yourself that sends you into rages, essentially. Pure coffee created rage is totally externalised.
A bad morning recently, (another where I woke up at three) resulted in my actually writing angry emails to the newsreader on my local radio station. He'd twice in an hour taken the piss out of Tom Cruise, by wondering loudly what on earth a 'haiku' is. I fired off my best Victor Meldrew rage encrusted sarcasm, pointing out that most eleven year olds know the meaning of the word, and demanding that they only use words in their bulletins that they knew the meaning of.
Presumable they do know the meaning of 'ridiculously overinflated sense of own importance'. It's merely I who had to wait for the coffee rage to stop kicking to realise it.
They did drop the pisstake from the next bulletin, but every day since then, the DJ interrogates the poor newsreader as to the meaning of a word in his bulletin. So all of London gets ribbed because I'd drunk my coffee too quickly.
Two of my favourite bloggers, Friendly Stranger and Lactose Incompetent, have been blogging about caffeine addictions lately. The Rev at Friendly Stranger suggests having mediocre coffee that's not so strong for weekdays, and rich, full, gorgeous coffee beans ready for the weekend. Boy, do I like that suggestion. Although I'm not sure I'm that organised.
Whereas Edward Ocean at Lactose Incompetent is giving up caffeine. Merely the idea of someone else doing it is enough to give me the willies, metaphorically speaking. He says caffeine contributes to depression and makes you fat. I sure had never heard of that before. I can imagine that, like any stimulant, sugar included, there's a come down from an easily bought high. But fat? Is it the rich tea biscuits?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:04 PM GMT
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And in contrast to the friends ... the family

Something that struck me over Christmas, that I haven't blogged about: my parents. They were great. And have been great ever since I split up with Wickedex (who seemed to be the first partner they ever liked).
My dad lost his job the Friday before Christmas (great timing there from the bossman), but at no point was anything stinted. At no point was there any suggestion that the whole family and friends and in-laws shouldn't turn up and expect four course meals. That they should do, in fact, anything for themselves other than consume horrendous amounts of the food that frequently appeared in front of them. That we shouldn't spend half of our time on the phone or on the internet. No hint that we should pay our way as the thirty something grown adults we are.
Added to this, guess what my mum got me for Christmas?
A voodoo dolly of the Wickedex, and a set of pins.
What a great family.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:04 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2004 2:09 PM GMT
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Panachetta's Meme

Created here, in an effort to prove that bloggers whinge on and on about being untidy, but actually, they're really really anal.

1) In the last 3 years how long (Alaskan trekking expeditions excepted) have you gone without washing your hair?
One day. My hair mings if I don't wash it every day.
2) How long past its sell-by is the oldest item in your fridge?
There's an aubergine that's three weeks old. I couldn't swear to the parmesan, either.
3) How many items are there on your bedroom floor that shouldn?t be there?
Do we count cats? More than a thousand. My house is being 'spring cleaned' by my Wickedex, which in effect means if she has a temporary fit of rage at me or any memory of me, things get thrown at my bed. Yesterday: every coat I ever owned. The day before: curtains.
4) How long do you go before cleaning behind the U-bend?
Three months, and that's me trying.
5) The patter of tiny feet tell you the mice are back. How long till you can be bothered to put down traps / poison?
One day. I shriek like a wally - a real girlie high-pitched shriek and jump high if I see a mouse. Back when I first came out, and was trying to be butch, this was highly embarassing. Now I've accepted that I'm irrefutably a girlie girl, where are the mice? Exactly.
6) The cast of Will & Grace are coming over for supper. How long will you take to clean beforehand? How long should you take?
My friend Harvardboy pretty much is the cast of Will and Grace, blended. I got into a habit of only ever tidying up if he was coming round, because he doesn't do tact, and names and shames loudly. So I know for a fact that it takes four hours. When he emigrated, I had to grow up and occasionally clean for myself.
7) There?s a dead computer monitor in the corner of the bathroom. How long will it take you to have it disposed of?
Nine months. It might prove useful. I could collect toenail clippings on it. Actually, I have two dead computers at the moment. I think Wickedex threw one out this week that had been out of action for two years. Oh dear.
8) How long do you go before cleaning the kitchen floor?
Twelve months. It's not that dirty! I sweep it occasionally. But clean it? I've only done that once.
9) Carrying the laundry through a pair of worn socks falls off in the hall. How long can they stay there without feeling an urge to pick them up?
Two minutes. Ugh. Socks are dooooorrrrrrrty.
10) How long can a saucepan of vegetable soup remain covered and undisturbed on top of the stove?
One day. And then I feel rank. I hate bad hygiene when it comes to food. Vegetarians are the worst - their fridges are health hazards. Yeeeuch.
11) You see a cockroach. How long till you?re on the phone to the bug man?
A millisecond. I can't stand them. Ugh. Shivering at the thought.
I once lived above a chip shop in Wood Green (the greek one on Turnpike Lane, if you're wondering) that was utterly infested with cockroaches. Arabic flatmate would leave stews out all night, and they'd go into a feeding frenzy. I had to switch lights on and stamp feet at the doorway before entering the kitchen, to encourage them to hide. Unfortunately insect brains are small, so they'd hide their heads behind a bit of lettuce, leaving the other two inches in full view. Hideous.
A few years ago, I dreamt there was a roach in my kitchen here, and freaked - everything I eat comes out of sealed tupperware containers, now.
12) Do you have dirt under your fingernails right now?
I ate too many clementines, and my left thumbnail has turned slightly orange. It's minging.

So ... what? Am I a lazy slut, or an honorary gay man?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:46 AM GMT
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Sunday, 11 January 2004

Conscience Twinge

I'm not speaking to one of my best friends. She doesn't read this blog (because she "doesn't want to encourage me"), but her friends do, so I'm not even gonna use her usual pseudonym. She's a heart-on-her-sleeve, high maintenance, manic type who takes a lot of energy to deal with usually, but who would go to the ends of the earth for you if you say just one word.
But she's on the 'up' part of the manic cycle right now, and I'm clutching at defences to cope with her when she over-medicates and rings me on Christmas Day to shout "where's my PRESENT", or on New Year's Eve to yell "donkey!" (Christ only knows why), or to point out that all-my-friends-are-out-with-my-ex that night, and doesn't-that-feel-weird-for-me?
Last time I saw her, she cooked me a beautiful Christmas dinner, but then invited someone she knows I loathe to share it with us, and they spent all day chatting about how wonderful all their relationships had always been. One minute she was cooking in the kitchen, the next she was nowhere to be found - she'd run out of the house to 'do something' without thinking to tell us.
The time before that, we had a sugar products and videos evening (like you do); I spent #15 on Belgian choccies to take round. I left in a hurry for some reason - she rang me to tell me that I'd left the chocolates and she didn't want to get fat, so she'd thrown them in the bin.
She's caught up in a relationship triangle, too, that's hard work, because one of the guys she's seeing - the geriatric millionaire - is a homophobe, and doesn't like to think of me or her other gay friends being in her house, because it makes him feel unclean. Her other partner, a builder in his twenties, is lovely, but a bit hopeless, but she keeps ridiculing him to everyone: in his presence, on the phone, mid sentence, then calling him possessive. I did use to point out my objections, but I think it hurt her badly, and now I find that hard to bite my tongue about.
The medication she's on makes her belligerent and prone to exaggeration; largely because she drinks heavily on it, while asserting that she lives an ascetic lifestyle, and is avoiding the usual outre lawlessness of our previous social lives while trying for a baby. So when she tells me that she spent most of the holiday alone in bed being depressed, I'm not sure if she means a day, or a week.
I feel dreadful guilty about it, but she's too much for me to take right now. Dreadful guilty, because I know that she's the only person in the world who doesn't get bored when you ring in tears at three in the morning night after night after night. And because the only reason I didn't lose my mind entirely last autumn was because she let Wickedex move out of here to stay with her rent free. She's a thick and thin type of friend who's always always there for you. But with the other stuff that's going on right now, I just can't deal.
I know that long term friendships with people necessarily go through highs and lows, and points where you don't talk at all, then forgive each other for. But still, the man-triangle thing and the medication thing mean she needs support right now. Also, we had intended to go to South Africa together this summer - dunno what'll happen to that now. I was talking to JatB about this, and she pointed out that it's ten years to the day since the last time this friend got too much to deal with and I stopped speaking to her for six months.
I dunno. As a teenager, one of my friends was sectioned, and I couldn't deal with it. She developed a fixation with hating me because of that, sent me all sorts of weird stuff in the mail - copies of greek tragedies with all the lines that referred to killing people underlined in purple (she seemed to think purple represented me for some weird reason), and all the other pages scrawled with words like 'hate'. All my friends at the time (who weren't as close to her) thought I was a shit of the highest order for cutting her off at her lowest point - just one, much older friend, said that how we deal with mental illness is our prerogative, that others couldn't judge us for saying no. I never regretted making that decision, (despite her knocking me unconscious in the street three years later) - but I'm not sure if this, here, now, is a similar case. Or if brooding on my own problems is simply making me become more and more insular, and encourages me to make less and less effort with my friends.
Anyway, I'm not speaking to her. On the grapevine I found that neither are several of her other friends who've had a bit of an overdose of her mania of late. I might be right, I might be wrong.
I hope I'm not too wrong.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:52 AM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2004 6:17 PM GMT
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Saturday, 10 January 2004

Sleeping Patterns

Mood:  lazy
Now Playing:

My sleeping patterns are fucked.

I know I go on about how much I sleep ad nauseum these days, but it?s really controlling my life right now. It?s so fucked.

Of course I?ve been getting more sleep lately, too much, often, although I reason that I have a massive sleep deficit to compensate for, so over sleeping regularly isn?t something I should worry unduly about.

I wonder if my increase in time spent in the land of Nod actually compensates for the years of going without, yet?

I don?t work all year round, but have to get up at six in the morning when I do, so a sleep diary for a typical year would be:

Most of the past six years

Slept from 1am till 6am

5 hours a night

6 and a half months of the year

Ditto, but during the holidays

Sleep from 6am till 7pm

13 hours a day

3 months of the year

Ditto, but on weekends

Sleep from 2am till 11am

9 hours a night

2 and a half months of the year

Average zzz's per night = 7 hours 50 minutes

Things started to go a bit haywire last Autumn, though, and I embarked upon a sleep regulating routine that involves Pavlovian conditioning via herb teas, baths, no alcohol, a ban on sugar after eight o?clock, on caffeine after four, and an alarm clock that goes off at ten o?clock in the evening, giving me notice that I must sleep, now, like it or not:

October, just after splitting up with ex

Slept from 3am till 5am

2 hours a night

1 month

During the holidays

Sleep from 6am till 7pm

13 hours a day

3 months of the year

On the weekends

Sleep from 10pm till 11am

13 hours a night

2 and a half months of the year

Using sleeping pills since October

Sleep from 11pm till 6am

7 hours a night

Just three months, so far

Average zzz's per night = 9 hours 56 minutes 50 seconds

I upset the balance a little last week, by going to see a four hour epic play, Mourning Becomes Electra, with JatB, midweek. On a work night (pious gasps of horror all round). I knew I?d have problems staying awake for it, not least having taken my daily soma before setting off at five o?clock. I drank copious quantities of coffee to help keep my eyes open, at first, but when I realised that front row seats mean you can only exit and enter for pee breaks inbetween scenes, the coffee routine was disrupted. So I tried sugar, my second choice stimulant. After, I calculated I?d stuffed seven cakes down my willing pie hole, over the course of four acts. That, and the added advantage of it being a brilliant play mostly worked. Although there were obvious signs of impaired mental faculties ? took me an entire act to recall who wrote the play (one of my favourite dramatists), and another two to remember it was based on a Greek tragedy. But, hurrah, I only fell asleep twice! Both times in the second, plot-padding scenes of an Act. Yay me. I?m like an old dear on a bingo trip.

This week's sudden increase in sleep debt, plus a stinking dirty head cold, means that since the theatre, I?ve been going to bed at around 4-6pm, and getting up about 3am. This morning, I rationalised that there?s nothing fruitful to do at such an hour, and made it back to sleep by seven. I woke up again at ten, but thought it was one. I?m completely, utterly disoriented, having drifted from someone who had years of nowhere near enough sleep a night, to someone inundated with sleep, who gets way way too much.

[Of course, if I get home and immediately sleep, it does mean that I don?t have to speak for more than five minutes to Wickedex, yeah I did get that benevolent coincidence. (Damn, I hate when the books you?re reading infect the way you write; I?m starting to write like Aldous Huxley. And not in a good way.)]

During the holidays

Sleep from 6am till 7pm

13 hours a day

3 months of the year

On the weekends

Sleep from 10pm till 11am

13 hours a night

2 and a half months of the year

The last two days

Slept from 4pm till 3am

11 hours a night

If it continues, I suppose that?s the rest of the year. Zoinks!

Average zzz's per night = 11 hours 55 minutes

So now, I?m having a mild panic, a panicquette if you will, about whether this will be a permanent state of affairs. Will I forever be dropping off just before teatime and waking up an hour and a half before dawn? I had assumed this was normal for a pensioner, but it?s thirty years too early for me to be able to get away with it. Im not even incontinent yet.

I know I should work out the averages, now, see if I?ve paid off my six year sleep debt. See whether I can afford a few late nights, now and then. Believe me, I?ve tried to work it out. But I?m an English, not a Maths, and it?s 3am as I?m writing this ? I?ve nigh on forgotten how to add up at all.
Correction: Martin has just worked it out for me, and the averages seem to show that over each year, I always got enough sleep. I just get it at rilly rilly weird times of day, me.

My sleeping patterns are so fucked.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 11:28 AM GMT
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2004 2:18 PM GMT
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Friday, 9 January 2004

Christ on a FUCKING bike

God fucking DAMMIT!

I hate it when you write a huge fucking post, leave it up for a few hours, edit it, adapt it, add to it. Spellcheck it. Make sure it's ready to go out.

Then accidentally delete it.


This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:28 AM GMT
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