Jun. 28th, 2011 12:54 am
raven: Daniel Jackson wearing Abydonian robes covering his head, light behind him, text: "Take action if you dare" (sg1 - ascended daniel)
It's been a hell of a week, all things considered. Let's not even get into the part where I got my passport stolen on a Paris Metro station.

(I should add that after about an hour of that particular flavour of anxiety you only get when you have no passport and are four hours away from an international flight you are already checked in for, I had it returned to me by a mysterious stranger, who handed it over with no explanation and disappeared into a subway tunnel. My life, a Cold War spy novel, apparently. I never stop being surprised by how kind people are.)

Otherwise - things are in flux. I was in Oxford and London over the weekend, missed Pride for the nth time (next year! definitely), but managed a quick lunch with [personal profile] gavagai, at least, and, well. Well, I have a sixteen-year-old cousin from Indiana. She's visiting Europe with her girl scout troop. She has never been anywhere other than the States or India. Her mother is very worried about her getting lost/kidnapped. Accordingly, when I was still in Ithaca I promised to take her and her two friends out for dinner in London, not realising at the time that her well-meaning girl-scout-leader-whatever guardians would be interested in, er, vetting me before I disappeared into one of the world's major metropolises with their little darlings in tow.

So Shim and I dressed as respectably as possible, and made soothing noises about how we are totally grown-up and can totally be trusted with teenagers (and, as [personal profile] gavagai insisted on pointing out, not at all the sort of people who stay up the night before reading fanfic till 3am and posting "DEATH TO THE OPPOSITION" to their friends' Facebook walls). The three middle-aged and very serious ladies asked us what we do. "I am a lawyer, and my partner is a librarian," I said, very seriously, and tried not to look like my grown-up shoes were killing me and that I wasn't holding a carrier bag of Star Trek books.

Anyway, success! I took them out, and fed them a nice dinner, and let them have a glass of wine each which endeared me to them forever, and delivered them back to their youth hostel back to their clueless guardians, having been somewhat enraged by the revelation that their troop leader had calculated their food budget by converting it from dollars. I took them to a Tesco Metro, bought them sweets and fruit and crackers and whaever else they wanted, and ruined their entire learning experience no doubt but I refuse to feel bad about it. Shim and I got home to Oxford at 2am with sort-of feelings of a job well done and sort-of mental whiplash.

Speaking of home, and Oxford. Shim and I move to Cambridge in less than a week. Remember how when I left Ithaca, I was having FEELINGS, only one at a time because I am not an emotionally complex person? That.

Anyway! I digress. [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau asked me some interview questions.

America; Diana Wynne Jones, authors like her; advice to fresher-me; my dream legal career; dragging up )



Oct. 12th, 2010 11:35 am
raven: lit tealight against dark background (stock - diya)
So, I am in the Midwest, where it is a good ten degrees warmer than it was in New York, and I am feeling a little at sea; it's interesting that I've lost a lot of my anxieties - I mean, for the first time in weeks I have slept ten hours two nights running - and gained a lot of new old ones, because my relations here are kind and loving and acres more conservative than my own parents. The net result is for me to miss home desperately - not the UK in general, not my boy and my books, but the house I grew up, my parents, our way of doing things, food, religion and culture, which is of course better in every respect. Every.

this is under a cut because it is the silliest, pettiest complaint I have made in a while )

But I make things sound dreadful. They are not. I made it here on Sunday after a long journey but with no delays and no issues about my carry-on baggage, and that was after my lovely weekend stayed entirely lovely; on Saturday night I watched Star Trek and ate popcorn with [personal profile] thingswithwings, [personal profile] livrelibre and [personal profile] eruthros and had lots of fannish fun, which has been sadly lacking in my life recently.

And now I am trying to catch up on a little of my work, and have some rest, and tonight is the fifth night of Navratri. Here they go in for organised religion a great deal, and as the mandir for the area serves a lot of people and traditions, they celebrate every festival with the enthusiasm of the group of Hindus who celebrate it with the most enthusiasm, which is... startling. Garba, a tradition that reminds me irreverently of dancing at the Taruithorn Banquet, is a Gujurati thing - no Gujurati blood in me, but we all set to dancing with a will. I had a lot more fun than I let anyone know, for fear of being made to dance at a later date. Still. Lots of colours, and dancing around in circles, and dandia, a tradition where each person carries two thick sticks, and if you do it right you should bang neatly on your partner's sticks in rhythm, and not, for example, your partner's head, or their very shiny dupatta, or the space of air where the small child was just swiftly removed from.

Also, Diwali is soon and I am vaguely torn. Flying here for it is an option - it's a Friday, so I wouldn't miss class and there is a six am flight out of Ithaca, but for all I'd be able to celebrate it with some of my family I'm sure I would merely miss home horribly. At the same time, if I stayed in Ithaca I might just mope even more, and my parents would be in India, where the ten-hour time difference would probably mean I wouldn't even speak to them on Diwali itself.

(Not to mention the airfare. Er. Um, it might be a justifiable expense for a weekend if the alternative is sitting at home feeling like I am the only Hindu in the world - really, this isn't true - but. Okay, to think about later.)

In ten days Shim will be here! This is exciting. In the meantime I potter on and try and get things done.

Oh, and! I am reading the first of the novels that I got from the booksale. The Left Hand of Darkness is surprising me; while I love Le Guin, mostly Earthsea, Western Shore and the short stories. I'd read "Coming of Age in Karhide", the short story about Gethen, before I read this. And while I keep thinking it's boring - very ground in politics rather than the SF setting, and while the prose has the occasional flash of Le Guin's limpidity of vision, it can be quite (by artifice, I'm sure) workmanlike - and yet I keep picking it up again, and wondering what's going to happen in it in odd moments.

Onwards, as ever.
raven: red tulips in a vase on a balcony, against a background of a city (stock - tulips)
Summer's here. It's twenty-seven degrees in Oxford, I am wearing my favourite light-as-air skirt and my favourite little top, there are no clouds in the sky. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray and I went for a lovely walk down by the Isis, and stopped in a picturesque pub just before Iffley Lock and drank cider, and lemonade with ginger, and watched the pleasure craft and geese pass by on the river. It's days like this when I wonder how I can even begin to be considering leaving this city, where I have been so happy, and where the world drifts to the water in May.

(But Ithaca has Cayuga Lake, and Cambridge, the Cam - so we shall see.)

The forecast is set to stay good, and I have been contemplatively looking at sundresses on eBay. It is worth noting, before I am mocked by Americans and other aliens, that summer in England is not an annual event; that our enjoyment of every hot summer day is plagued with fear that it will be the last beautiful day, not merely of the season but of one's life, and so shedding clothes and grabbing at picnic baskets is the only reasonable response.

So there has been capering in the sun today, and now it's evening and still bright and the air has a half-baked quality, as though it's been trapped within the walls all day; which, I suppose, it has - my benchmark for heat is India, and while India is a great deal hotter (forty-seven degrees, today!), the buildings are made so heat reflects briefly in and then firmly out, and there are ceiling fans, and air-conditioning units, and occasionally fridges that I wish to live in. (And power cuts. Fridges stay cool a surprisingly long time even after the power has failed.) But in India you don't get quite this much airlessness, because the heat here is being held in by double-glazing and beds with thick covers.

But I still love it. Forty-seven degrees makes me into the proverbial wilting flower, but heat like this, gentle, with appreciative breezes, with brand new red sandals and brand new red toenail polish, with that kind of deep ease in it, it's lightening. It makes me feel very comfortable in skin. And speaking of India. In July 2007, I went on yatra (pilgrimage, sort of) to Vaishno Devi, which is some distance from Jammu, and it was an experience. At the actual point of pilgrimage, at Bhawan, there were crowds and crowds of people and we were hustled quickly through - it was the peak season - and my mother has said, ever since, that she missed it. I've tried to argue that it was about the journey - the 15 km up and then down again - and not so much the destination, which she does concede to some extent, but I think she feels that the moment passed her by. And put that way I understand it; doing a yatra isn't procedural, it is about faith, and you can't speak for someone else about that. If she feels she missed it, she missed it.

So we're planning to do it again. This time, though, a lot of things will be different. A smaller party - we numbered in the low millions last time - and in December, rather than the baking heat and monsoon, we'll have snow. And also, [livejournal.com profile] shimgray is coming with us, which my mother suggested; which for me brings a quiet measure of a calm, a quiet reassurance that things are ticking over as they ought. (I've never known if my parents think my relationship is not a problem, or not a problem yet; it's a mystery to them as well, I suspect. Don't I blaze trails, on my quiet way through life.) And I am looking forward to this so, so much - this is supposed to be a year of change, a year balanced on the cusp of newness - and that it ends in a place I've been before, in a new skin, is something that feels right to me.


Dec. 29th, 2009 01:11 am
raven: (hp - remus at the window)
Had dinner tonight with a couple of very old friends indeed. It was sort of supposed to be an evening of new things - they're brothers, whom I'll call V and P (which aren't actually their initials, because I'm crafty like that), and their mum has just moved to a pretty new apartment by the water. So off we went this evening, with a box of chocolates and a poinsettia, and oohed and aahed at the new place, which has, among other things, a coffee grinder, a kitchen floor with actual, honest-to-god sparkles (it made me want to dance; my kitchen floor doesn't make me want to dance!), a large tank of tropical fish and a wee tortoiseshell kitty, who is very shy and lives in a cupboard.

But my point was, we got to reminiscing about long ago and far away, which reminded me of all sorts of things I'd forgotten about living in hospitals. I mostly did until I was twelve-going-on-thirteen, and V and P and I used to spent quite a bit of our time - basically, all of our time - running around getting in trouble. See, this was the late nineties when most of the small infirmaries became big district generals, and ours was no exception - it moved out of town to an enormous greenfield site complete with duckpond, and left behind eyes, gynae and geriatric psychiatry, to the amusement of all. And in the mess of the move no one really paid attention to the kids running around the place, and no one was exactly supervising - the logic was, doctors' children in hospitals are sort of supervised by osmosis, and besides if they break a leg, accident and emergency is right there - but even so, until V reminded me tonight, I'd forgotten we built a go-kart out of scrap wood and raced it around the hospital car park.

Seriously. Out of a three-legged table, some wheels taken off a trolley the porters had thrown out, some string and some enthusiastic pushers, including my dog, a fairly excitable Alsatian. Funny how you can forget brushes with certain death. We also built a treehouse at one point, and tried to spend the night in it; I think we lit a fire in a dustbin before giving up because it was cold. And went trick-or-treating through the hospital wards at Hallowe'en, and got songs played on the radio station, and walked out to the beach and tried to push toboggans down the dunes. It was all a bit Swallows and Amazons, only with less water and more sharps bins.

It makes me a little sad that now the infirmary really is closed, the buildings are going to be turned into flats, and the whole place is going to be different. The funny thing was, there were a lot of kids running around at the time, and I've forgotten most of them - but many years later I was at a party in Oxford when a girl came up to me and said, "The old infirmary...?" - and it sort of came flooding back.

Anyway, a lovely evening, surprisingly. In other news entirely, the week's [livejournal.com profile] lunatunes theme is "top five at the moment":

1. Florence and the Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) (with thanks to [livejournal.com profile] musesfool; she said she'd had it on repeat for a few days, and I nabbed it off her and now I've had it on repeat for days, too - it's so great, so full of energy);

2. Sarah Brightman - Nessun Dorma (so lovely, this, and usually thematically appropriate);

3. Amy Ray - Laramie (for Matthew Shephard, and I like it a lot, especially the first couple of lines: we hit snow on the road to Laramie / we all heard about that mess)

4. Regina Spektor - Eet ([livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong pointed me at this, and I don't understand it at all but it's really gorgeous)

5. Melissa Etheridge - Bring Me Some Water (I am not at all a fan of hers, but I really do like this song).

...tell me if you like 'em. Alas and alack, I return to writing my statement of purpose for Cornell.


Jan. 27th, 2009 10:37 pm
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
You know what tempts me, above all other things, to just give in and go for being a corporate lawyer? It's not the money, although I must say, I do fantasise these days of that arcane concept of receiving wages for services rendered. No, the money is not the thing. It is the ease of it. The way I could just sit down for a day and do a stack of applications and answer truthfully and in heartfelt fashion about what a wonderful corporate lawyer I would make, and I could send them off and if I got a job I'd get it and if I didn't I wouldn't and it would be, at least, simple. Instead, I realise more and more that there are no public lawyers, there are no criminal lawyers, those that there are don't want to employ a twenty-two-year-old non-law graduate and those that might have been persuaded into it have been credit crunched.

This rant brought to you by the nagging fear I will never get a training contract ever, which was brought to me by the realisation that I have been applying for these things for two years now, which has been a contributory factor to general crankiness. Other reasons: I have lurgy and rampant claustrophobia, also my cousin had a baby two days ago, a baby with lots of hair and very large dark eyes and the sweetest little face, and because I am a sodding NRI halfway through a sodding law degree, I will probably not meet him until he graduates from college. They haven't named him yet, and probably they will have his janampatri done and name him something incredibly old-fashioned and formal, but I imagine that for several years yet he will answer to "Baaaaaaby!"

(Someone asked me recently if Indian babies look like Winston Churchill. I can confirm that no, no they don't.)

Grrr. I want a job and some free time and maybe some plane tickets. Universe, get on that, please.


Dec. 25th, 2008 05:51 pm
raven: Tenth Doctor and Martha hugging (doctor who - hug)
I am in Edinburgh! It is not very cold; yesterday I woke up at six am and listened to the birds sing for a while; [livejournal.com profile] shimgray claims that the whole Ethnic Festival aspect is his dastardly revenge for my taking him to my family reunion in October, but somehow this doesn't quite work; people being unfailingly sweet to you and then feeding you to excess does not, in my mind, constitute revenge.

It has been an intersting couple of days, certainly. I almost missed my train north, and would have done had I not been stopped by a little old lady with a car full of greenery, who said she was going to decorate the local church and if I would help load hundreds of pots of green things, she'd give me a lift to the station; then, once I had arrived, and been met, and gone off to catch a bus, I nearly had my suitcase stolen. I would have done, had Shim not both a) been paying attention and b) had the wherewithal to jump up and hare down the street after the guy, who was more confused than criminal and seemed under the impression he was carrying two large plastic crates of vegetables and crisps rather than a small suitcase filled with women's clothes. (That said, there was a little old lady also on the warpath. While I peered out to see what was going on, she told me to stay on the bus, because that was a bad man. "Not your man!" she amended. "The other man.")

I have also been fed more food than I've pretty much been fed ever, been batted in the head by a remote-controlled helicopter and replaced a fully-bedecked Christmas tree with another, taller, not-so-fully bedecked Christmas tree at five o'clock in the morning. It has been very nice indeed.

(My father reports that two of the Christmas babies he's delivered have been named after me. Oh god. Also, my mother is not talking to me, again. After nearly throwing an entirely arbitrary fit that I was giving my boyfriend a girls' scarf for Christmas, and then having the sheer temerity to not call her until nine o'clock in the evening on a day on which I had been travelling for six hours, clearly things could only get worse. Bitter, me, etc. She's driving me mad.)

And now, Doctor Who. Until then, [livejournal.com profile] yuletide! It is great, and there are recs to follow. In the meantime, usual rules apply! If anyone guesses one of my stories correctly, a ficlet or drabble shall be forthcoming! (And as a tip: there are six stories of mine in the archive, five full length and one drabblet.)

Hope everyone's having a nice day.
raven: image of India on a globe (politics - india)
[livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong linked me to this: Ten Annoying Relatives You Will Have To Deal With This Christmas.

And it occurred to me that there ought to be an Indian equivalent. For one thing, the NRI equivalent to mad-Christmas-preparation is probably mad-going-to-India preparation, and it happens, this year they fall at around the same time. (My parents are spending most of January in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.) And so, the first thing to deal with is lists. What relatives over there want to bring: jumpers, chocolate, BRAS. (For explanation, this explains it far better than I could; I've linked to it before, I think.) Also, numerous small things - socks, chocolate chips (apparently in hamara Bharat, you cannot get chocolate chips to bake with for love nor money), salad dressing (ditto),

How one does this with a 20kg luggage allowance when India's weather in January ranges from tropical to sub-zero is the next problem. And then, my list (Vatika coconut; ear studs; several law textbooks; mithai from the Bengali Market pleeeeeeease).

And that's before we get onto the real problems, where they decide which relatives they're going to vist and in what order (this is very important). Firstly, there is the Senior Uncle, whose job it is to puff on a pipe (or merely look like it, if he doesn't have one) and Pontificate. On the state of India today, how it's almost developed, really, and do they feed you anything over there in the West you don't eat.

Then Aunts ("Eat something, beta! Why do you not eat! See, I cooked it so nicely for you! Coffee? No sugar? Arré!) and Further Aunts ("Study, study, study all the time, these children, when are they going to get married?") and Yet Further Aunts ("Come, we are going to Shankar Market. Yes you need a sari! You can wear it for functions!").

Then Younger Cousins ("Can I borrow your lipgloss? Oh, thank you!" / Me, resignedly: "Keep it.") and Elder Males, who are... ponderous. "I understand Oxford is a very good university." / "It has been said, yes."

I am being uncharitable - over the last few years, I've got in the habit of remembering what it is they like in the way of lipgloss and buying a lot of it before I go. As has often been noted, the West is wasted on me. ("This child, all she does is read! You're home now! Why you don't go get yourself done?")


And, finally, my sweet and very calming grandfather. "How are your studies? Good. How are your friends? Good. Let's go for some ice-cream tonight."

And we go to India Gate after dark, and eat ice-cream in the park and watch the glowstick sellers doing tricks with their wares. Dear me, I love Delhi in January. I almost wish I were going, now.

But, in the meantime. Am still here, but just for today. Running away with my boyfriend to a quaint ethnic festival, back soon.
raven: (misc - marwood)
I remember, when LJ was still running out of a back room in San Francisco and I had a free account and it would go down for hours just as I'd done my homework for the night and I'd sit and fume that I couldn't pour my fourteen-year-old angst into it.

...I tell this story as evidence of how much things change, really. I have spent the evening not doing my homework; I failed to do contract; then I failed to examine the insanity defence for murder; then my mother phoned and talked at me solidly for an hour; then I failed at offences against the person. I shall shortly give up and go to bed, I think.

Anyway! I am Doing Things for my Mental Health. This gets long, and somewhat self-obsessive, so it shall be duly cut. depression! echolocation! menstruation! Gratutious Capitalisation! etc )

And, lastly - pick a topic for my baby-dissertation! (It's not a dissertation, they say; it's just... a long research project. Uh-huh. Yeah. Not at all the same thing.) I was telling my father about it this evening, and he said, thoughtfully, "Well, it was to be expected. Baby's first step, baby's first word, baby's first thesis."

...yeah. And now to bed.
raven: red tulips in a vase on a balcony, against a background of a city (stock - tulips)
Today, I have achieved precisely nothing at all, having meant to go to a meeting on LexisNexis (I was asleep), a meeting on Amicus (I was asleep) and a meeting for Innocence (I was... er, yeah). I, um, don't win. While today wasn't what you would call the best mental health day ever - lots of sleeping and hiding - in general, I'm on a bit of an upswing. Certainly, I have been getting more stuff done. And I have been trying to, well, revamp my life in other ways. (Step one: throw out clothes. Really. More on this anon.)

But generally speaking, life is, if not good, quite a bit better. I am snowed under with work and it is raining twenty-four hours a day, but I have a bowl of raspberries by my bed and a cat asleep with her tail on my knee. Today is [livejournal.com profile] shimgray's birthday (he has just looked up from his book to ask, "Are you writing about me?", and I have just admitted, yes, yes, I may possibly be writing about him) and he is, one may remember, the most difficult person in the world to buy for. (I remember bemoaning once to [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong, "I'd get him a book, but he has them all.")

So, I did not get him a book. I got him a hat. He has asked, however, that I tell the story of how I got him this hat, having been somewhat (and unjustifiedly, I say) horrified by it. You see, he left his hat on a bus. He was very upset about this. I was quite upset by this. It was a rather fantastic hat. It was large and leather - I once complained about his having led a procession into a field of belligerent cows while wearing it; they were understandably upset - and waterproof and just a Very Good Hat. Finding a replacement for it was the first hard part. (The original came from Ecuador, not a place I can easily get to.) But that was managed. (I ended up on the phone to a very nice man in Wales, who apparently runs a small hat business all on his own and was desperately upset that I, presumably his only customer that day or week, had happened to buy a hat off him during the five minutes that the website was between servers and thus given up in disgust.) "I'll send it to you!" he said. "You don't have to pay postage! Please say you still want it!"

I thought I would probably be going to hell if I didn't buy said hat, after that. However, how does one ask someone tactfully for their hat size? This took thought. (I rejected the thought of measuring around his head in his sleep on the grounds of there's dedication and there's Basic Instinct.) In the end, I had [livejournal.com profile] lizzip, through a Machiavellian plot of her own, very cleverly get Shim to measure round his head with a piece of string (when he was at work, no less), and relay an answer. In the meantime, [livejournal.com profile] sir_rosealot had kindly agreed to tell him that the kind of hat he was looking for was hopelessly difficult to obtain in this country and if she were him she'd just give up now. It was marvellously dispiriting.

I was feeling very pleased with myself, and then the hat didn't come. I waited, I waited, I waited some more, then emailed the man grumpily - and was surprised at eight o'clock the next morning to be woken by a cheerful Welsh voice on the phone. "It's about your hat!"


"Is the person you want it for there with you?"


"I'll send you another one!"

And he did, indeed, send me another one. It hid in plain view in my room for two weeks, was not noticed at all, I managed to misdirect him by the simple expedient of outrageous lying - he did not believe I was getting him a diver's helmet, or a solar panel, or a baby tiger, though seemed briefly unsure on a Wheat Thin the size of Lake Tahoe - and today, gave him his large brown kangaroo-leather hat, two bags of glacier mints and a Michael Chabon novel. I think I feel good about it. Happy birthday, dear.

Tomorrow, I shall go to class! And to lectures! And do some work, omg, and do my criminal coursework, omg, and generally Be Productive, and possibly sit down and tell the internet all about my astonishing throwing-out-clothes plan. But, hey, okay days, and I'm still here.
raven: lit tealight against dark background (stock - diya)
I'm still alive. People may be surprised to know this. But I am. I survived. By Saturday morning, I was hitting a sort of awful plateau - where my brain was splitting at the seams, my family had gone out, I considered staying in bed and didn't, considered living in the bath and didn't, and after a great deal of mental kicking-of-self, went out. I went to News From Nowhere, and then I went up the hill in the rain and then I went to the university Catholic chaplaincy to help - well, not so much help as sit around and wail - [livejournal.com profile] forthwritten make a Lancashire hotpot the size of Merseyside. It contained more potatoes than I have ever seen in one place, and was a suitably surreal interlude in my day; they were, she said, in aid of a Lancashire cultural evening, and when I departed, she came with me in search of Fisherman's Friends, which are apparently emblematic of Lancashire culture.

(No, I don't know, either. I have lived on the Lancashire border for a decade. I really don't know.)

So, I wailed at [livejournal.com profile] forthwritten. I wailed about how I chose to have a minor nervous breakdown the same week as my family amass, I wailed about how the family reunin was going to be awful, I wailed about having a broken brain, she was very soothing and made me coffee and walked me back into the city. At which point I fetched [livejournal.com profile] shimgray and took him home with me and began my own moral degeneration.

...I exaggerate. Actually, the whole thing went enormously better than expected, and my brain didn't break, for three separate reasons. First of all, the relatives were behaving themselves, for given values, and two of my cousins, plus Mani (whom I have written about before as my oldest friend, who kills goldfish and makes me watch America's Next Top Model), were calmly, aggressively sane, and mixed drinks, made me laugh, and were nice to (and approving of) [livejournal.com profile] shimgray. Whose presence was, of course, reason number three I didn't have any freak-outs. He, too, appears to have been treated well by my army of relatives: my grandmother cheerfully addressed him in Hindi (and asked why I didn't give him milk in his coffee, had I been a bad girl and forgotten; he smiled and nodded quizzically), and everyone else was either askance and thus polite or cheerfully accepting. At about eleven one of Mani's friends came by to pick her up, came in for cake and other food (god, so much food; a story for another time, the sheer quantity of food) and we were introduced. It amused me that this was the only occasion in the entire evening when he wasn't introduced as "Iona's... friend."

(My favourite incident was one of my cousins happily asking, "Who's the white person in the living room?" Pause, while she catches sight of Shim. "I meant... the other white person. I mean, I didn't - oh, god, that was racist about white people, wasn't it? I didn't mean to be racist about white people!")

(And one of the small children present, upon being asked if she'd travelled anywhere in the world, answered, "Boring places with no toilet paper.")

At three in the morning, it was over, we did it. I did not do the terribly scandalous thing of falling asleep fully clothed on my own bed on top of the covers with my similarly sleepy, on-top-of-covers fully-clothed boyfriend; I got up after an hour, like a good Indian girl, and went and shared with one of the cousins. I guess... that's compromise? Anyway. In the morning there was beautiful sunshine, and my family were sweet and gave us breakfast. (Also, apparently, my mother informed Shim, "You should learn Hindi."

...I just. I mean. Yes. Oh dear.)

In short: 'tis done, and 'twere well it was done quickly.

As for my brain... no, going home was not the best idea I've ever had. It was a good idea for other reasons; it was nice to see people, and it was nice to be in the north. I am still quite seriously depressed, and I don't think the trip home has really alleviated that, although this whole thing being over is a good thing. I need a serious sort of sit-down and think about this, but not right now. One step at a time, as always.
raven: sign, flower drawing and text: "war is not healthy for children and other living things" (politics - war is not healthy)
Family reunion! So far an aunt has broken the kettle - coffee, guys, I need coffee, I really need coffee - and the boiler has gone, softly, kaboom, and the man from British Gas is doing ritual blood sacrifices beneath it, and said aunts are apparently lost on a train in from Manchester, my mother has decided she doesn't like what I'm doing with my hair these days, and I have read all of about four pages of land law since eight o'clock this morning, and Best Friend From Childhood is coming up this afternoon with an unidentified individual who was apparently at school with me (and described me as "very eccentric and political" - omg, someone who knew me at SCHOOL, halp) also have already had my quivering-in-shower going "omg, omg, NO ONE LOVES ME, BECAUSE I AM MADE OF FAIL" moment, or long sequence of moments. O hai, I was having a nervous breakdown, and for some reason I thought the bosom of my family would be soothing. I NEED MORE PILLS otherwise I will TALK IN CAPS UNTIL THE END OF TIME.

Also, if the phone rings one more time I am going to smash it into tiny wee pieces and throw it into the sea.

(At that point the phone rang again. I answered it. It was my father, wanting to know my email address, because somehow in the last eight years he has failed to commit it to memory. He has had an email from a friend of his, he says, who is a barrister and can give me a mini-pupillage.

...I don't know. Life, she is strange and amazing.)

I have a feeling that when this nervous breakdown is over I shall have to have another one, to get over it.

ANYWAY. I am going softly, quietly, insane. Please, all of you, make soothing noises at me, or at least be distracting in my general direction. I need amusement of the sort that will not cause me to have a nervous breakdown.

eta: an uncle has just told me that I haven't really thought through being a lawyer, because it's a lot of hard work. Is it? Is it really? I HAD NO FUCKING IDEA.

son of eta: the internet BROKE. Then I burst into tears. Then it came back. I am sorry, internets. I did not mean to emotionally blackmail you oh god never leave me again.
raven: (xf - give that girl a gun)
As a number of people have asked: I'm all right, really. The night before last it wasn't so much that I couldn't sleep as I couldn't sit still; I wandered around the house feeling really rather insane, and then, at five o'clock in the morning, thought clearly, hell with this, and when it got light, started making arrangements to make the journey north.

As dramatic gestures go, it wasn't bad - I got out of Oxford all right, and somewhere near Leamington Spa, rang my father to tell him that, er, possibly, maybe, I might have adjusted my tickets and might, possibly, be home in a few hours. He was concerned. And then because he is secretly five, carefully didn't tell anyone about it. So at half past four, when I stepped softly through the front door, my mother shrieked, "My baby!" and jumped on me. Which was worth it, really. Within about five minutes she'd made me some coffee whilst simultaneously telling me I drink too much of it, and when did I last eat, do I ever, why didn't I tell anyone I was coming, etc. It was good to be back.

I am actually not entirely sure this was the best idea in the world - there are so many relatives visiting that I'm having to really fight for peace and quiet, and of all the assembled masses, only my father knows why I'm really here, in the sense that he knows I'm quite depressed, not that I've been diagnosed as such. My mother merely thinks that I meant to do this all along as a surprise, and I think telling anyone the truth would lead to a major family meltdown, so. So this isn't actually relaxing as such; I'm having to hide my pills and such. I tell everyone I have a lot of work to do, which is certainly no lie, so can hide behind textbooks when needed.

But there are compensations. The weather in this part of the world is doing something it often does at this time of year, and getting hectically, fiercely beautiful. I went out briefly earlier - before remembering that in small country villages, post offices close on Wednesday lunchtimes - and watched the seagulls wheeling up against powder blue. It's lovely. The family situation is one thing, but what isn't claustrophobic is of course the landscape, which never changes. It's worth this, at least, being here.

Also, it is worth being here for some of my relatives. My cousin Sunny, who is an easy-going Australian medic, is here for four weeks to do his elective and is making my life calmer by his mere presence. He is cool, calm, collected, and predictable in what makes him happy. "Today," he announced this morning, "I am going on pilgrimage."

"Anfield?" I asked, ever-so-slightly amused.

"Yes," he said dreamily, and I wrote down the bus routes for him, because, seriously, who am I to stand in the way of other people's religious experiences. Off he went, happily, at about lunchtime, leaving me to the soft afternoon and the study of the criminal law.

So, yeah. I'm... not okay, but I'm still here. Some things - the small, everyday happy things, like my mother buying me a cupcake, or [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong ringing me up to be appalling, or being in the vicinity when a life-long Liverpool FC supporter is asked by a well-meaning relative if it's Goodison Park he's going to today, and has to be led to a chair and given a glass of water - are making me smile, and feel good, or at least okay, and then it reverts, and I'd rather go and hide and shiver in a bath. But, well. There is a bath, at least, to hide in.

Tomorrow, if I feel up to it, I am going in to Liverpool to find the post office, get my Macbook fixed and possibly have lunch with [livejournal.com profile] forthwritten; at the weekend, [livejournal.com profile] shimgray is coming up, which will be very good for my mental health and catastrophically bad for his. And on Sunday, I return. I will go and get my head looked at by the medical profession on Monday.

So... yes. Still here.


Sep. 30th, 2008 06:23 pm
raven: (misc - mortimer)
One of my favourite episodes of Sports Night is "Intellectual Property", mostly because it combines the a) incredibly sweet (Dan! Sings Happy Birthday to Casey live on air! It's vaguely gay!) and b) incredibly geeky (It's against the law to be vaguely gay sing Happy Birthday on air!* It's still in copyright!) but also because of what Dana says to Natalie, later. "What's the last good idea you had?"

Quoth Natalie, "When I woke up this morning, I decided not to stick my hand in the blender."

It's been that sort of a day.

Things achieved today:

-Not throwing myself into traffic at any point, by the simple expedients of hiding in libraries and toilet cubicles and other such places where this would be a) messy and b) inconvenient.

(This is a judgement on me, I feel. Yesterday I went to see my sweet, reassuring and competent GP, who said he was glad that the citalopram was working for me, it was good to hear I was feeling better, asked about my past history with depression and then, contemplatively, what my degree and post-grad are in. "PPE, then law," he said, still contemplatively. "Well, you're not very stupid, are you?"

It pleased me. Anyway, of course I start acting like an overwrought lunatic the day after I assure a doctor I'm quite sane, thank you.)

-Losing my house keys, by the similarly simple expedient of being a fucking idiot. I have lost a single key off a ring. I have not lost my bike key (for which there is a spare), my house key for up north (for which my parents have spares), or my room key (which I never use) or the remote access control on the ring (of which there are several). It is my fucking house key, for which the spare is missing.

-I had a bath. This actually wasn't an achievement. I mention it because I managed it without major disaster.

-I saw a car with an Obama bumper sticker! This was exciting.

-And, finally, went down to our letting agency with my housemates, and met the obstructive, rude and obnoxious woman responsible for sorting out our new contract. It was a horrible experience, especially coming after a day of ick, but at least she was unambiguously awful and wrong. We don't understand, she said, we don't understand the difficulty in drawing up a contract. We don't understand.

At which point I could have, but didn't, pull Poole's 667-page Textbook of Contract Law out of my bag. But I didn't. Scratch everything, that was my big achievement for the day.

In other news, my mother had, when she was about seventeen, an enormous crush on a Hindi film star called Dev Anand. She saw all his films, she cut pictures of him out of magazines, the whole shebang.

Today, nearly forty years on, she met him. She saw he was doing a book signing on a poster, and went and was first in line to buy tickets and sat at the front and asked him a question and was breathlessly, flailingly excited. She just rang me up and shrieked, "I met Dev Anand!"

I think, all in all, she had a successful day.

* This is not actually true.
raven: lit tealight against dark background (stock - diya)
Earlier, a perfect moment: skimming down Donnington Bridge after nightfall, with dark sky above and dark water below, humming abstractly to the Indigo Girls' Galileo, which doesn't stop being wonderful with the passage of time. I was given the album as a gift on my eighteenth birthday, which was also the day George W. Bush took office for the second time. I mention this merely because I spent intervals throughout the day having impassioned conversations with my father about Sarah Palin and her moose-eating credentials. (It's nice, sometimes, that nothing changes; that my life has rolled onwards and around, but I like dark nights and politics and Amy Ray, and my father is still a quietly ageing former hippie, a little more aged.)

Anyway. I am not eighteen. I am not twelve, four-and-a-half, or any other age that involves your relatives patting you on your head and remarking on how much you've grown and does she still not eat aloo gobi for breakfast like a good Indian girl, and we always knew she was going to turn out strange, etc., etc., and all the other things I have been subjected to today by my well-meaning relatives, here for the first time from India and making my life somewhat more difficult than it usually is. I say this with some, limited, affection; they try to be nice, they really do, and sometimes they really are, it's just, yes. Difficult. They have views. Indian families have Views. In a couple of weeks, they will be having a family reunion, in which a vast corpus of various relatives will appear, and my mother has been not-so-subtly persuading me to come home for it for quite a while now. This, of course, I have no objection to. It might be nice to be home for a couple of days, Mum will need lots of help I'm sure, and there are lots of my relatives (and two in particular) whom I'm very fond of and do want to see.

The problem is, well, my mother said, in a burst of enthusiasm, "Why don't you bring [[livejournal.com profile] shimgray]?"

To which my immediate response was, did my mother just acknowledge I'm an adult human being who might want to introduce her partner to her family? Quite apart from whether I could in good conscience subject a fellow human being to my family, this is, I think, the sort of liberal modern Western thinking that ought to be encouraged. My parents, in other words, are not the problem. But when you add conservative aunts and uncles into the mixture, it gets difficult. I'm a good Indian girl, I've got to be good and chaste and pure. And the double standard is just horrific; one of my cousins is getting married this summer (they've "found him a girl", I was informed, simperingly), and another has just acquired a girlfriend (something I found out, in a truly horrific turn of events, from Facebook), but I.... well, I am a category error. I don't do That Sort of Thing. It's like an enormous blind spot they have about me; I'm not enough of a person. It makes me rather angry. Because I'm female, I don't have agency, is the continual subtext beneath all of this. "Time to get you married," they tell me, but note syntax; I can't do anything for myself.

And the worst part of it is, the day I do get married, if I do, I will become a person! Not my life experience, not my degree, not my life plans, not my being an adult and philosopher and lawyer and human being, but the fact of being married will transform me into an autonomous being in the eyes of my extended family. That really makes me angry; more than anything else, I think. It's eternally symptomatic of the wider problem, in that in the culture I belong to, I'm not worth particularly much; I'm a liability and a problem to be solved, rather than the wee princes who strut about being my male cousins, and the fact that I'm the only daughter of my side of the family makes it all that little bit worse. I'm nicely insulated from it by virtue of distance (both cultural and geographical; it's the fact of their being rather liberal people that made my parents emigrate in the first place, to some extent), but it comes out at times like this. Part of me wonders if it's something to do with the fact I've finished my degree - the last thing I ought to do before getting married.

My mother, I suspect, has a Machiavellian plan going on behind the scenes - I think she wants me to bring home my underdone pale white boyfriend (shock! horror! etc.!) in an attempt at a beautifully visual fuck-you in the direction of the worse of my relatives. (Who will cluck and tsk and say they always knew it would come to this, they always knew that girl was doomed to bring dishonour, and so on.) My mother on my side is a dangerous thing. And if there are people on my side, and besides in a few weeks all the relatives will have returned to whence they came and this whole period of angst will have come to a blissful end, I might suggest that it's not all that important, not in the longer scheme of things where I continue living here and baby-lawyering and, well, being me, but it does matter. It matters a whole lot, when you don't matter.

And as such, I shall spend the rest of the week steadfastly not answering my phone, I think. And I will go home for the family reunion and be sweetness and light, but it will continue to rankle that I spent this morning clearing my room of condoms and antidepressants, because. So there. I have no point to make here beyond the standard, classic, it's not fair, it's NOT FAIR, it wasn't fair when I was small and brown and lost, and it's not fair now.
raven: cartoon image of bleary-looking woman with dark hair (nemi - sleeeeepy)
I have now had a stabbing headache for eight days, eleven hours and counting. Alongside it, I have dizziness, insomnia and strange, transient dysphasia. Last night my parents were trying to convince me not to go to Edinburgh, but rather just go to London for a job interview on Monday and come straight back. Which is all very well - it's sensible, when you have stabbing pains in your head, not to do, you know, stuff - but I was pretty much just... no. No, I do not want to do that. So I woke up this morning, stumbled around looking for codeine, found it, went back to bed, got out of it again and rang up my GP, and my parents, who by dint of being themselves, got me referred to neurology. So I dragged myself out of bed for the third time and I went. It's a little disconcerting, going into a hospital you've lived in for years as an actual outpatient.

My mother said, last night, "It's a ninety-five percent chance you don't have a brain tumour..."

...which was very handy to know, yes indeed. The neurologist was very nice, though. Did not talk too loudly, which endeared him to me. He flashed lights in my eyes whilst asking about the fog in San Francisco - I've given up asking how people know the things they know - and then wanted to know what my degree is in. "I ought to check it's not in medicine or physiology," he said. "I wouldn't want to talk down to you."

I found this, also, endearing. After a while he sat back and said, "I'm pleased to tell you that you don't have a brain tumour."

Hurrah. Also, I do not have migraines, sinustis, hormone imbalances or space-occupying lesions of the brain. The only other serious thing it could be is, apparently, renal failure, so I had several quarts of blood removed for the purpose of discovering this. It's unlikely, I am told. So were all the other things. But apparently I have just the right symptoms for a lot of unpleasant conditions, so I didn't complain at the pricking.

In absence of further investigation, I have an unspecified neuralgia. I have, thus, been prescribed more codeine, beta-blockers and diclofenac. (Most of these are in my parents' medicine cupboard already.) And I can go away next week without any trouble as long as I keep taking the pills, so all is well, save the part where I still have a headache. And the mild dysphasia, which I'm not sure whether to actually give that name to - it is mentioned as a symptom of migraine-related conditions, so it came up - but it might just be a result of having been in a lot of pain for a week. It's weird, but I can't spell. I couldn't spell "appropriate" or "maintenance" yesterday; I had to look up "diclofenac" a moment ago; I keep falling over words. I don't know. I imagine it will pass. (But yes, that is a just brilliant symptom to have just before a job interview, well done that universe.)

In other news. I am very tired of living at home. and why that is, etc )

In short: I do not have a brain tumour, hurrah, I am still leaving soon, hurrah, 48mg of codeine per day, hurrah.
raven: (xf - give that girl a gun)
I have a banging monster of a tension headache that has so far not been alleviated by painkillers, enormous glasses of water and therapeutic shouting. I have to be up to get my laundry out. I may sit in the bath until then, having spent the last five or six hours being hugely, grossly productive. (Seriously. I got up. I went to work. I came back from work. I got rained on. I proof-read and got five training contract applications ready to submit. Packed a suitcase. Found tickets, insurance, passport and American dollars. Started work on application to the GLS. Did not cry. Put laundry in. Am now eating ice-cream and waiting for laundry to re-emerge.)

(Pause, as mum wanders in, demands of world in general where all her saris are, she knows she owns them, lots of them, in fact, have I seen them, no I haven't, do I still have that bottle of silver glitter, please can she borrow it, goes off to find it without waiting for answer, cue my father, he didn't know there was ice-cream, where is said ice-cream ("In the freezer, possibly?"), I didn't offer him any ice-cream, do I have any concern at all for my fellow man, clearly not, I will grow up to be the sort of person who reads the Daily Mail. Honestly, I do adore my parents.)

Anyway! Things that are of note, numbered as usual:

1. We can has cat! The landlord said yes. Therefore, [livejournal.com profile] chiasmata, [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne and I are free to become crazy cat ladies as and when we would like. I am quite, quite ridiculously excited about this.

2. Also, we can has... well. I feel that it needs recording that yesterday, due to a sequence of highly improbable circumstances, [livejournal.com profile] shimgray became the vaguely surprised owner of a thirteen-foot kayak. (With no paddles. We are literally up a creek... yeah.) Consequently, I shall be spending part of my Saturday tying it up with blankets and perambulating it home.


3. I met Anne Fine today! I was a big fan of hers when I was small - I have clear memories of reading Flour Babies and Goggle Eyes as they first came out - and she's apparently written about fifty books for children since. Anyway, she was a delight. I did a couple of hours' work in the shop in the afternoon - well, I say work; there were no customers whatsoever - and then toddled along two doors down to set up for the signing, met Book-Monkey-in-Chief carrying two boxes of books, took them off him and went to see what chaos I could bring order to, whilst the poor actual author followed us all down with some bemusement.

But, eventually she sat down, the kids queued up, it was all great. First of all, she can't talk to children. Well, she can't talk to children the way teachers and parents talk to children - she kept on getting halfway through words she possibly ought not to say, and then stopping, and then finally giving up altogether and talking about the bloody publishers at will. And it was more than stopping not to swear - she said to one small child, who had been standing there in front of my box of books for about half an hour, "You are pathologically indecisive." The small child clearly didn't understand but enjoyed the word "pathologically".

And in the breaks between signings, she talked to me, and apparently Book-Monkey-in-Chief had been telling tales, because she asked me about how Oxford had changed in the last twenty years - since her son was a Balliol PPEist. I told her a bit about how I'd found it, especially philosophy, and she fixed me with a gimlet stare and said, "Never forget. You have had an incomparable education."

I said I wouldn't. "No," she went on, thoughtfully, "They teach you how to think, don't they?"

That's the idea, I said. My degree results come out this week, I said.

She laughed and said, "What would you like me to write, darling?" to the front of the queue, and wrote with love to the most indecisive child in the world.

The signing actually went rather well. A lot of young children who had just read The Diary of the Killer Cat, and slightly older ones who had just read Goggle Eyes, and a surprising amount who wanted to read one called The Road of Bones. Now, I remember Goggle Eyes very well; I re-read it as an adult not long ago and realised anew how very, very good it is. (It is the story of Kitty, who does not like her mother's new boyfriend; this very simple plot is interspersed with clever allusions, acerbic wit and, my favourite, a marvellous set-piece involving the late-eighties CND.) This other one was new to me, having been written much more recently, and it was being gripped tightly by a solemn-faced boy named Joseph. "Sweetheart," she said, "you're ten, you don't want to read about Stalinist Russia" - but she ended up signing it To Joseph, who stood his ground.

As we were packing up, I asked her to sign something for me. A poster for The Tulip Touch (which is a horrifying - and horrifyingly good - young adult book based in part on the murder of James Bulger, so quite evocative for me, reading it) that claims it's Whitbread book of the year - which means it's been at the back of one of [livejournal.com profile] triptogenetica's cupboards for twelve years. She was very startled to see it, but signed it happily to James.

In fact, she was very good company. It's weird, but I've been here two weeks and not really seen any of my friends and done nothing but go to work in the morning and come back in the evening, and I've missed good company, which for me is usually defined as people who light up the room with how bright they are. One of the local newspapers was interviewing her, asked how much input she had into the film version of Mrs. Doubtfire (the book was called Madame Doubtfire, if I remember rightly), and if she had any regrets - and she said, not seeing the Beatles in Northampton in 1961.

And that was that. We finished packing, I picked up my wages from the shop, and she disappeared, but not before wishing me good luck for my results and telling me, "Give my very best regards to James, and congratulate him on his fine taste and discretion."

Not bad, I think, for an afternoon's work.

Anyway, I need to go to bed and kill this headache somehow. Tomorrow, I depart from Up North and return to Oxford. At least, for a while. I will be around and about until Wednesday night, at which point I depart for San Francisco. But in the meantime. Argh, my head. Bedtime.
raven: black and white photograph of Asian woman smiling and clasping her hands (misc - me)
My father was in London a few days ago, doing exciting things for his college, and came up to Oxford on his way home to visit me. He said he wouldn't come if it would distract me. I said I wanted distracting, by this stage. So he came, and wandered into the city with me, and he came up to my room briefly, noted that if this was what it looked like when I tidied up then he didn't want to know what it looked like before, and then fed me a very nice lunch, and we walked down along the Isis for a bit. I told him the various things I have been reading about/doing to stay sane, and pointed out the prettier bits of the Parks, he told me about the stuff he's doing for the college in India, we paused to take in a few civilised overs as various of the University's cricket teams were playing under the trees. It was very calm, and pleasant, and sane-making.

Before he disappeared, he left me with a bag of stuff: my mum's iPod, which she said she was lending me if I was nice to it; an enormous bag of very very nice jellybeans; the wedge of forms required to reapply for a photocard driving licence; the red Pucca wallet I used when I was fourteen, as I am currently without one. Giving me that last thing, he said, "Don't just put that in a drawer, there's some money in it. Your mum insisted."

I thanked him, and he went off to get his train. Putting the things away, I noted that there was indeed some money in it: £33.50, to be exact.

Which was, I thought, a strangely specific figure, and strangely familiar. It has just now dawned on me - now, at 2.14am when I am awake for no reason and unconsciously grinding my teeth - that it's the exact amount required for a single ticket from Oxford to Liverpool Lime Street.

In other words, my parents would still love me if I packed it in right now and went home without taking my Finals.

I have no intention of doing this, and it's not as if I actually doubted it, but. It is a very nice realisation to have had at 2.14am when I can't sleep and the awful things are five days away and I'm beginning to panic and... yeah.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
Urrgh. I have lurgy and am thoroughly incapable of doing anything beyond lurking and making "urrrgh" noises. I watched Bob the Builder dubbed into Hindi. It was not edifying. It is frightening, exactly how much I resemble this icon at the moment.

I posted a meme a couple of days ago in which you all told me things I should blog about, which I don't.

[livejournal.com profile] apotropaios asked: Actually, I don't think I know much about your opinions on art. Who's your favourite artist? Do you have a favourite painting?

Hopper and subway signs )

[livejournal.com profile] slasheuse asked: I want to know about your only-child-ness! Do you mind? Was it deliberate on your parents' parts? As an only child myself I like to know what others think.

tragically I was an only twin )

[livejournal.com profile] clubhopper15 wrote: Something mundane and less intellectual..like your list of hottest celebrities :P

She says, as though I post interestingly and intellectually all the rest of the time. I will merely smile enigmatically and point you at the wonder that is Paul Gross and the very different wonder that is Katee Sackhoff.

And [livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay asked: I'd actually like to hear MORE about your love of philosphy, because hearing people talk about the abstract intellectual things they love makes me happy. Like, who's your favorite philosopher? Who was the first one you ever read, and was it immediately clear to you that you wanted to Do Philosophy when you got the chance? Do you ever get those annoying questions from practical people about what you're going to "do with" philosophy, or what "use" it is? How do you respond? That kind of thing.

and she probably now wishes she hadn't asked )

Okay, enough! Another attempt at work now, I think.


Jul. 16th, 2007 01:06 pm
raven: Paul Gross as Geoffrey Tennant holding up his hand against a blue background (s&a - feeling a little crazy)
Conversations With My Father, Take #894758:

"D'you know, in the last three days we've watched fourteen episodes of The West Wing."


"And one of Slings And Arrows."



"It's midnight."


"In eight hours I have to do a Caesarean."

"Right. 'Noel'?"


Other than this very productive use of my time - it is productive, it's my degree subject, and that's my story and I'm sticking to it - I have spent today thinking up creative levels of my very own hell. How it happened I don't know, but because I am great and marvellous, I somehow arranged it so my passport, driving theory certificate and Young Person's Railcard all expired in the same week. I have spent my afternoon on the phone to three separate government organisations and my evening primal screaming.

Which intensified somewhat upon the discovery that someone, in the last two days, had left the freezer door open. We now have four drawers full of an appealing, aromatic frozen-pea-vanilla-soup. Ick. And to put the crowning touch on a wonderful day, I am finding it impossible to apply to American universities for post-grad without accidentally labelling myself as a high-school dropout. (Also, as I realised this afternoon, the reason I can never write about my "activities and achievements" on application forms is that I've had one consistent hobby since I was thirteen and it is profoundly socially unacceptable. If I'd spent all that time learning a musical instrument or volunteering at the RSPCA or doing t'ai chi, I'd have something to write about.) I win at life.

Hence all the watching of television. I finally finished Slings & Arrows yesterday after a few days of trying my best to stretch it out, but alas, there are only eighteen episodes and now I am bereft. I wanted to sit down and write lots about it, but I can't. I'm trying to put my finger down on what it is I love about this show - it's the writing, it's the passion for the subject matter, it's Geoffrey Tennant - but I can't do that either.

I guess, first of all it's a black comedy that actually works as a black comedy. You get to a point where you're watching spoilers for s3 ), and you sit back and ask yourself, why the hell am I laughing? And you are, and you continue to laugh at ghosts and drama queens and Bolivian counter-revolutionaries and lesbian pot-smoking stage managers. And you laugh at madness, because it is, in a dark way, very funny. Geoffrey's mental illness is played for laughs, usually, and that works, because he is a drama queen, and because the very few times it isn't done that way, it becomes automatically much scarier. spoilers again, for s2 this time )

What is it about me, narrative, and mental states, I wonder? I certainly have a thing about the topic in general: the only piece of non-fiction I've read this vacation is, bizarrely, about Freud, and I loved philosophy of mind. I love philosophy in general, of course, but mind particularly, because it's that old philosophical trope of questioning our fundamental principles taken to the next level, questioning how we can question, what we question with, reducing us to first principles to how we think about how we think. And it's all about dry science of cognition, except it isn't: it's the quiet question of why is there a whole universe of outside and a space inside that's just mine, why do I have my own dark behind my eyes?

How can you not love that? Quoting directly from the exam papers here, what would it be for a Martian to be a person, or an angel? What is a mind? Are you reading this question? How do you know it's you?

And it's probably something about this fascination of mine that makes me like Asimov's Robot stories (and not the Foundation - I much prefer Susan Calvin, Baley and Daneel) and Ian M. Banks' Culture (which I really need to read the whole of one of these days, rather than just re-reading and re-re-reading Look To Windward). But it doesn't extend so far as explaining why altered mental states are just my bulletproof narrative kink. With Geoffrey, the appeal is that he, too, seems to enjoy the philosophy of it - you can't quite discern, sometimes, which is real mental illness and which is his refusal to let his mental processes be any way influenced by society's expectations.

I remember some time ago [livejournal.com profile] absinthe_shadow and I discussed doing an altered-mental-states ficathon, having made a list of examples in fandom: Remus and the wolf in his head, Josh Lyman and his PTSD in "Noel" (and, arguably, the Ninth Doctor in "Dalek", and Ten's god complex ever after, and John Smith), Daniel Jackson forever being committed, Buffy in "Normal Again", Hawkeye in M*A*S*H, and, of course, Geoffrey should be added. I still want to do a multifandom ficathon of this sort, with the subversion of sanity as the main theme, if a) there was sufficient interest and b) I figured out the logistics.

I have some recs to post, as I turn the internet upside down and hope the Slings & Arrows fic falls out, but not now. Sleeeep.

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