raven: Daniel Jackson wearing Abydonian robes covering his head, light behind him, text: "Take action if you dare" (sg1 - ascended daniel)
This week, I have:

-had a quick but joyful lunch with [personal profile] gavagai at King's Cross (we talked mostly about food and Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, and how it's impossible to make pointed satirical jokes about this government, because a couple of weeks later it becomes, as she put it, gentle observational comedy - this after she said that I'm lucky I began my job before the concept of a professional training contract becomes an unpaid internship; I pointed out that the SRA has just abolished our minimum salary);

-spent several hours on Thursday at the annual property networking event (surreal in the extreme - when skipping out of the building at 3pm to get a lift out to the village, the other trainee, J., and I were stopped by the managing partner and asked where we were going; we gave him a sweet chorus of "Comm prop pétanque!" and his expression will stay with me)

-finally used my free ticket for the British Library's Writing Britain exhibition (I liked it, as Shim predicted - the exhibition is about literature and Britain but it's also about land, layers tangible and metaphorical, indiscriminately laid over each other all the way down to bedrock);

-signed the paperwork for the civil registrar. We're really getting married. It turns out now we sent it to the wrong person, but I hope that bodes well for a long married life of confounding officialdom. Also, you get married in Scotland on Form AP1. You register land in England on Form AP1. I sometimes believe my job is taking over my life; all the rest of the time I know it's true.

(I wrote a fic once where a lawyer falls in love with her assigned land registrar. I have not fallen in love with mine, even though I spend more time on the phone with her than with my partner, my best friend and my parents combined. I think that's an achievement. )

On Friday I forgot to note some easements on a leasehold title. The easements were in the lease. The registration requirements were in the lease. The lease itself is non-registrable. I just... forgot. Possibly related, something of a mental health blip. I don't know why these things always happen together: autumn, the first cold, long hours and long days and work taking over my mind, and anxiety uncurling. Actually, when I put it like that it doesn't sound so inexplicable. I guess if you want something other than fandom and land registration.... come back in the spring? I am not really capable of profundity at the moment.

In the meantime, the Bujold ficathon has wrapped up and there are some lovely stories; the various holiday exchanges are starting up; I still don't know what I want for Yuletide other than Code Name Verity. Onward as ever.
raven: white text on green and yellow background: "ten points from Gryffindor for destroying my soul" (sbp - destroying my soul)
I am running a severe sleep deficit. Some brief notes before I flump into bed:

1. My parents had been making pointed remarks about the last time I was home; I indignantly said it wasn't THAT long ago and then realised it was for [personal profile] hathycol's hen party. She has now been married for six months. Er. Yeah. Work was a little difficult today - we're doing a large freehold transfer somewhere in Northumberland.

("Where in Northumberland?" I asked.

"Er... we're not sure? Perhaps you could SIM..."

"SIM" stands for search of index map. It's a very clever trick wherein you mark up your plan in red ink, scan it in, email it attached to a form and you get a reply two days later telling you what registered land is within the marked-up area. (It helps to have a steady hand. I once accidentally marked up a sewage works.) Any day where someone tries to make you SIM the entirety of a ceremonial county is a bad day. I also was asked to look into an issue of mineral rights vesting extra-freehold - found nothing, but got roadblocked in in precise echo of the person who looked into it before me, which was bleakly reassuring.)

And after the bad day was over I had to drive 210 miles mostly in the dark, and I ended up listening to a lot of podfic, but I did make it. I have too short an attention span to listen to podfic usually, but while driving it's perfect, and I don't suppose I've had anyone read me a story for many, many years. It was a bright spot in my otherwise quite-difficult day.

2. I left a very silly prompt (one of many) on the Bujold ficathon on the AO3; [personal profile] hedda62 has been writing a response which, she says, was growing in length and theme out of all proportion from the original prompt. And that is absolutely true, but nonetheless:

L'oiseau qui vole, by [archiveofourown.org profile] hedda62.
Aral, in a fit of wickedness, assigns someone to follow Simon everywhere and keep notes, to see how he likes it.

The summary was my prompt - but this is actually not silly at all. It's a love story, kinky and dark and multiply complex, that leaves me done in with the rightness of it. 'ware warnings. But lovely, lovely.

3. Speaking of silly, [personal profile] forthwritten, [personal profile] happydork and I are writing epic repressed homophobic romance in middle America. I just wanted to tell you all that. It's the best. Like [personal profile] happydork, if I were still living in America I couldn't have written it. (While we both still were, we used to ring each other up to hear each other's accents. And complain about - well, everything. It was also the best.)

4. I am running a sleep deficit because, well, this was my first week at a new job; I also have been running out in the evenings to do various things, such as going to the farewells of the cohort in the year above mine (today, September 7th, means I am now less than a year from qualification, ARGH); and also because I have spent the last week and a half using time I don't really have to write Vorkosigan fic with MELODRAMATIC ESPIONAGE. It is long and very MELODRAMATIC. It's my version of the Simon-and-Aral story, really, and I'm rather discouraged about it at the moment. That might be the sleep-deprivation, but, blaaaah. Cannot write. Cannot think about writing. Head stuffed full of plans and leases.

Okay. Tomorrow. SPY STORY YAY. Those fic commentaries I have owed for, like, ever. And maybe whole hours at a time not thinking about land transactions.

edited to add: yuletide brainstorming! Already! My only thought for this year so far is Code Name Verity. What do y'all want? I have no idea right now.
raven: black and white photograph of young Hillary Clinton (politics - look who we can grow up to be)
Today after work I went home to change and grab some food, and then headed out to Jesus Green to play a game of rounders with my colleagues (vs. a worthy team of local chartered surveyors), in the twenty-five degree sunlight on the grass, and when I was up to bat I got one rounder and when I was fielding I caught one batsman out (and it turns out playing rounders when you're not at school in PE kit not only an enjoyable experience but positively fun). And afterwards we drifted across Midsummer Common to the Fort St George and drank wine on expenses by the river Cam. The pub has no road access, which is deliciously peaceful, and means you wander across the common in the sunshine to get home.

And, sometimes I miss the US. Swedish Fish! Half and half! I have to walk all the way to the postbox to return my Netflix discs, oh my god my life. And then sometimes I really, really don't. Such a blissful evening. What a wonderful place to live.

In other news, the Supreme Court has not done a stupid thing today; I've read the abbreviated judgement and, as usual, am less than impressed by the reasoning. Which isn't quite accurate - the reasoning is fine, but it seems as though my fundamental ambivalence regarding a constitutional court persists, which means its tortured readings and re-readings, its invocations of the Framers and what they wanted, etc, just don't impress me. I find it hard to internally understand codified constitutions and sovereignty outside the legislature. (On another note, my supervisor and I have been quiet recently and I've spent the last couple of days drinking coffee and reading Fifoot's Law of Contract. After reading a gentle few chapters on mediaeval assumpsit, civil-law considerations and the economic effects on the law of contracts as a result of globalisation before I even got to phenomenal of agreement, offers, acceptance, invitation to treat, all the basic stuff, I decided again that the British way of teaching law is so much more gentle and thoughtful than the American one. It's less ritualised, less pivoted on oral confrontation, and more in the style of the trainee, the apprentice, clerk, whatever, being articled into a noble tradition with care. And I have all the issues with English law and liberal legal systems in general that any person who's familiar with radical political thought would have - it's inherently racist and very inherently sexist, it constitutes itself as rational and neutral when it's as fallible as the rest of us, blah blah you've heard it. It's just I also believe you can't critique the law before you know the law. And here in England and Wales it's a kinder, sweeter way of knowing what you are when you're a lawyer.)

All of which is obiter anyway, because who cares how they got there when they got there. I suspect it will be a long, long time before the US federal government is responsible for healthcare reform that brings the American healthcare system out of a system of total barbarism, but this is a first step.

In other other news I have been feeling very sad recently, but the evening in the sunlight has revived me somewhat; I have only a couple of months left in my current job; in a week I am going to Germany; I have just finished watching Quatermass and the Pit, which I enjoyed much too much for something made in 1958 (not only is it creepy as all-get-out, it also seems to employ a far more liberal hand in its politics than many things fifty years younger); and we crossed the solstice, so eighteen hours of daylight is now getting shorter each day rather than longer, but that's all right.

And we go on. I am much, much too drunk for someone who has to go to work tomorrow before it's the weekend. Tonight the Caped Crusader told me, over his Peroni over our very wobbly table, "When you caught that guy out, I turned to [another trainee] and said, 'I told you she was Indian!' And now I feel bad. Was that bad?"

I told him, fondly and drunkenly, that it was terribly bad of him, but somehow I can never think badly of him when everything he says to me is laced with the most uncomplicatedly joyful affection. I went home feeling like the sunshine was inside me.
raven: Sherlock looking off to one side, deep in thought (sherlock - now I'm home)
So ages ago I meant to rec the Damn, Fandom Is Good At What You Do fest, because I love that: one of my biggest narrative kinks is competence (and, now that I mention it, probably something that attracts me to people, as well). People just getting on with things that are difficult and vital because they love them and were born to do them - yes.

The thing is, I have tried to write my own version, and just cannot. What I do - and what, it becomes increasingly and embarrassingly obvious, I was meant to do - is too awful even for fanfic. It just is. I had a work experience kid following me around today (and I try not to be dismissive in that way, I try not to say "kid" and "girl" of grown women, but seriously) and I tried and tried to explain what I do - and just couldn't. It all turned into "my office is full of lollipops and I know a lot about sewers", in other words things that are true but not exactly helpful. I don't think I could have the Doctor and May or Charles and Erik or Hermione and Luna do what I do. (Wait, maybe Hermione and Luna. But not the others.)

So. Lollipops. Design infringement. Land registration. Life, as ever, goes on.

(My supervisor, today, sounding totally outraged: "I spoke to the woman on the other side of the lollipops thing, and she's YOUNGER THAN YOU!"

I said, "My work experience girl is ten years younger than I am."

We left each other disturbed.)

In other news there is no other news. The weather is godawful. Some of you may have noticed peripherally that I watched the second series of Sherlock and fell hard for it; the fandom is one of the massive ridiculous kink-memes-get-filled ones I haven't been in a while and I'm having a lovely time. I'm also, weirdly, enjoying having a teenage crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. Because the thing is I never did have harmless crushes on famous people when I was a teenager, except when I did and it was awful. If he'd been a famous person in a very popular show when I was, say, fourteen, I'd have had a crush on him secretly and guiltily and then worried and worried and worried: about his eyelashes and high cheekbones and longish hair and fabulously femme way of sweeping out of a room. About being, as we say, one of them.

(Hello, my name is raven and I'm queer, who knew. Strictly speaking I'm pansexual, a term I avoid on the grounds I am not exclusively sexually attracted to goat-tailed demigods playing the pipes. I don't think I articulated it until I was in my twenties, but my type is femme: femme women and men and genderqueer people. God, it's so hard, isn't it? You all know. I'll stop talking. I noticed the other day that I am absolutely incapable of understanding the world as though I were straight or gay; I mean, I can't even write a tight-third gay-or-straight POV, which is odd when you consider I can write white guys. Okay, now I'll stop talking.)

So now I have a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock on my desktop, and I quite like looking at it, and that's okay, self. [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma and [personal profile] petra told me to listen to Cabin Pressure on Radio 4, and I'm doing that, and cackling. It's adorable and ridiculous and has that Radio 4 thing of not being funny in the slightest bit except it's TOTALLY HILARIOUS. It's a half-hour comedy show about a one-aircraft airline, and it has Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephanie Cole in it. It's lovely.

(Speaking of queerness, today is almost the last day to respond to the equal marriage consultation setting out the Home Office plans for for civil marriage and civil partnerships. It's very much worth doing. I speak as someone who finally got around to it today.)

In other other news the weather really is awful. I seem to spend all day at work with rainwater in my ears. I no longer have terrible migraines, thanks to the new meds, but have bizarre side-effect of being eerily calm about everything. Tomorrow I have a pub quiz in which the Caped Crusader and I have been split up by executive decree. The world spins madly on.
raven: (stock - rock 'n' roll)
This has been a strange week, in which we have learned a) I am not very good at being ill and b) I am not one of life's born litigators.

I didn't go to work on Monday, and went in on Tuesday promising friends and relations I would take it easy, and ending up coming home at seven because stuff needed doing; then I went to work on Wednesday morning to do some urgently early-morning work and be ready for a morning meeting with a man who sells bolts. I did the research, which my supervisor asked several incisive questions about, before conceding that I'd found the case he wanted me to find, then he told me that the meeting with Bolt Man had been cancelled, and then he told me to go home.

He's my supervisor, I have to do what he tells me. I came home. Shim got me soup and sushi and told me not to do anything, and to emphasise, if I had to do anything, to lie on the sofa and read fanfic. I did manage to do this! Sort of. I might have cleaned the house a little.

So then I said, well, I'll go to work on Thursday and take it easy. This went so brilliantly well I got home at quarter to ten. I'm told City lawyers do this all the time, but luckily I'm not in such vaunted company. Eleven straight hours of redacting documents does funny things to your brain, though. (By hour eleven we were throwing paper aeroplanes at each other and scaring the cleaning staff.) I was particularly proud of the letter that had everything redacted except "Dear", "and", "the" and "Yours sincerely". It was a work of art. We got through twenty-one files, five reams of paper, five whiteboard markers and six packets of post-its. I hand-delivered the disclosure this morning at the crack of dawn, and now I have four days off and don't know what to do with myself, so this evening I took a nap for three hours and watched 3 Idiots again for another three.

3 Idiots! Let's talk about that. I watched it vaguely in India over Christmas on a four-hour bus journey from Chandigarh to Delhi (and, alarmingly, Shim watched it happily despite not knowing the language) and then [personal profile] such_heights kindly me got a copy with decent subtitles, so now apparently it's a film I watch when skies are grey.

3 Idiots is the highest-grossing Hindi language film of all time. It has Aamir Khan in it, whom I have been somewhat starry-eyed over for the last decade, and it is three hours long, kinda melodramatic and bits of it have clearly been commissioned by the tourist board of India. So far so samey, but I adore it. It's based, very loosely, on Chetan Bhagat's Five Point Someone, and is on its face an anecdotal film about three friends at IIT Delhi the entirely fictional Imperial College of Engineering. But unlike the novel, which I liked but didn't love, it's full of heart and clarity and ideas, and it's... well, it's remarkable. It opens ten years on, with two of them driving from Delhi to Shimla to find the missing member of the trio, and they tell the story in flashback on the way. (Shim found the depiction of the Delhi-Shimla highway very aggravating. "Where are the crazily-overtaking lorries and the herds of cattles crossing the road?" Artistic licence, dear.)

So, okay, some of the stereotypes about Indians are true. (Okay, maybe a lot of them are.) Middle-class Indians in particular have this Thing about education, about good grades, about getting 100% in everything. (My family, too: while not as bad as some, they're bad enough. When I was at school, they used to alarm my teachers by never being at all impressed by my grades. A's across the board isn't something to be excited about, they explained; it's just how things are supposed to be. I mostly chose to see this as heartening rather than demoralising as sin.)

And, of course, middle-class Indians are very much known for setting out their offspring's lives for them at birth. Those of you who've been around a while will remember my three-year-long epic battle with my parents about how they wanted me to be a doctor, and I wanted to do PPE at Oxford. (Spoilers: I won.)

So, says Farhan, the narrator of the film: I was born at 5.15pm on a sunny day in 1978. At 5.16pm, my father said: "My son will be an engineer."

Cut to him rolling up on his first day of classes. The class are ready to do battle: for good grades, to be first, for perfection. His brand-new roommate, rejoicing in the name of Ranchodas Shamaldas Chanchad, suggests to him that he might be here to learn. He doesn't take this very well. The third roommate, Raju, is too busy doing puja to get good grades to even pay attention to this. Over the next four years they get drunk a lot, Rancho gets them in a lot of trouble, they end up on very firmly on the wrong side of Virus, the belligerent dean. Rancho falls for his daughter, Pia-the-very-magnificent, and that causes more trouble, and with time it becomes evident that there is something about Rancho that he's not told his two friends.

And it's clever and very witty - Raju's home life, Farhan notes, is like something out of a 1950s black and white movie, and the camera accordingly switches to black and white whenever we see anything of it; there's an adorable running joke about engineers not being allowed to name things, e.g. the three campus puppies, Gigabyte, Megabyte and Kilobyte - and the dialogue is hilarious. (Raju complains at one point, paraphrased, "I am the only man in history to drive from Delhi to Shimla with nopants.") But more than that, it really has something to say which I didn't think Indians were saying: that memorising rote facts is not learning, and A's in everything are not necessarily education; that doing what we love matters, sometimes, more than family; that we're worth more. It leaves me with a great deal of warmth and joy. And it ends on top of the world, in Leh-Ladakh, in a landscape only of sky, and it just has such breadth and wonder at what we can be. I love it.

(Also it has lines like this: "Until yesterday I was a law-abiding citizen of India. In the last twenty-four hours I have grounded an aircraft, threatened to flush a man's ashes down the toilet and now I've kidnapped a bride from her wedding.")

Okay, now I'm going to bed.


Feb. 27th, 2012 07:05 pm
raven: quadrangle of Christ Church, Oxford, under snow (stock - oxford)
Things. Well. I am moving departments in a week. I would say it's gone quickly, if it were not for the fact it has taken several eternities. I am finally, a week from finishing, getting to grips with things. (I have rather a big project of my own to undertake - which, if you shaded it on a map of the UK, would show up at all reasonable scales, which freaks me out rather - which for various reasons must be done and dusted in the next couple of weeks. "We have to be on top of things," my supervisor told me one morning before I'd taken my boots off.

"Don't worry, we're on top of things," I said.

"No," she said, darkly, "you're on top of things" - which cheered me up rather.)

On Friday night we had a pub quiz for Macmillan (a thoroughly fabulous idea, incidentally - enormous fun and we made more than £200) which the Caped Crusader and I won, resoundingly. Unfortunately the prize was a round of drinks and my planned sensible evening went the way of all flesh. By the end of it I was staring through the bottle where the white wine used to be, and one of chaps I work with gave me a kiss on the cheek and lovingly informed me that the entire department is as scared of my supervisor as I am. "Why couldn't you have told me that SIX MONTHS AGO!" I shrieked, and was poured gently into the good night.

While I will not miss the stress, disorganisation and general bone-deep anxiety of my current job, I will miss the people. I work with the sort of people who bring me coffee without asking and leave sweets on my keyboard. And threaten to SIM the moon, which is the sort of thing that's very funny if you're me and you've been doing my job for six months.

On Monday I move to contentious intellectual property, just in time for me to start volunteering for OTW legal. I am very interested in, but almost entirely ignorant about, the DMCA. The thing is, I'm bound to be - and although the team do claim they need non-US lawyers, I am, myself, doubtful. Nevertheless, I've volunteered. I doubt I'll be of any use, but I've volunteered. The thing is, I am such a useless lawyer - my academic interests are in philosophy and jurisprudence, my net experience thus far is of obscure ways of holding land - that I almost wish I weren't one, where these things are concerned. People hear "lawyer" and think, well, not of me. We'll see, I guess.

On Saturday morning bright and early, Shim and [personal profile] elb and I went to Oxford for the Taruithorn Banquet, which this year was sparkling as all years, full of good company and wine and origami birds. I met many old friends, spent lots of time giggling with [personal profile] brightlywoven, danced and served plates and ate a lot of food and had a lovely time. As usual, we went there for two in the afternoon and didn't leave until midnight. We left the car a few streets away and as Shim and I were walking down to the community centre, [livejournal.com profile] cealdis waved at us out of a car window and shouted, "We're going to buy blowtorches!"

"Ah," Shim said, "We're home."

And we were, too. I miss Oxford, I really do, just because it will always be home to me in some way. Yesterday the sky was blue and the sunlight was sparkling and it's really the loveliest place on earth, when it wants to be.

This week I have to work late a lot and not sleep much, I suspect. (My supervisor again, at nine o'clock this morning: "I am demented enough without your assistance!") I am still keeping on, and feeling better than I did a month ago, though. Sort-of-excited sort-of-scared about new things, which is how things ought to be, and looking forward to the spring. There will be weddings, and sunshine, new people, and also new Fringe. Hurrah.
raven: (misc - thine own self)
I am on holiday. On Wednesday afternoon, at 4pm, I had an email from my supervisor detailing, with usual lack of clarity, a task they had for me, finishing with urgent. I did it till five and then did it till I was late for my dinner plans, and then it was getting on for seven and I left the building, and since then I have been on holiday. On Thursday I slept without dreaming until ten, and went out through the crystal cold day and wrote the novel in a cafe and went around the shops and watched a bit of TV and took a long bath, and it was all a little misanthropic but very reviving; today I took a French class, went to London and met [personal profile] roga, who is visiting from Israel, and we went to Camden Lock and to the Wellcome Collection, both of which were great fun in different ways, and we walked around in the cold talking and drinking hot apple juice. For dinner we met [personal profile] gavagai, who is carrying a lot of luggage, these days, while wearing Docs with silver sequins on; for some reason she thinks it very hilarious that I described her a glam rock polar explorer.

By which I mean to say, I think I needed, really needed these two days: a day to be misanthropic, and a day to see people and do things. I still think, incidentally, that my job is sucking all life out of me. But I shall be doing it for eighteen months more only - I will not be one of those people who does something they hate for forty years. So I told my French teacher, when she asked, in shaky and ungrammatical French, that I shall keep doing these lessons with her, infrequently but not stopping, and after eighteen months are over I shall do something sensible like go and spend a solid chunk of time in a French-speaking area and learn more that way. I shall go to India and learn to read Hindi newspapers.

And I bought red boots - Docs, but not glam rock - the other day, when my parents said to buy something nice to mark my birthday. They're lovely, rich ruby red, not at all practical, not at all something sensible grown-ups wear to work. But I have this gorgeous black frock coat from Topshop, that I'm wearing all the time now; I bought it full-price the December before last, then didn't take it to Ithaca because it wasn't thick or sturdy enough for the climate. It lived in a cupboard for a year until I pulled it out this winter, and I love it just as much as ever. In the same way my red boots will live in the cupboard for eighteen months, which is not that very long. More than eighteen months ago, I was accepted by Cornell, and that was recent, as major life things go. So I go on and I go on, and I will do these eighteen months and qualify, and then I will take the New York bar exam, and then, at the age of twenty-seven years and one month, I will be done with grown-up life forever. I have been told, by people who mean well and people who don't, that I'll grow up and know better than the life I foolishly think I want to lead. A life where I don't make very much money; an itinerant life, a life that contributes to GDP not a whit and my pension plan hardly at all; a life as a researcher, a scholar, a public servant, a fan, a writer, a citizen. A life like both my parents have led, like both my grandfathers led.

Well, I'll be able to say then, I am grown-up. I am a lawyer in two jurisdictions, I have worked in private practice. I make the choice not to be unhappy; I make the choice to aspire to other things. I make the choice to wear red boots and to be a fangirl. You can't rescue me from myself. And then when I think about it like that: that I can dispense with that life in a year and a half, that I can say to myself, self, you made a choice, you took responsibility for your own happiness, you made a choice to live by your beliefs, then I think it's all worthwhile, after all.
raven: Sabrina Hurley as Natalie with dubious expression and overlay text: "she could no longer pretend he wasn't an idiot" (sports night - natalie)
(When all else fails, list format. For the unfortunate alpha readers wondering where this week's novel installment is - it's somewhere. It's somewhere. Maybe it'll crystallise next week when I have a day off. I hope so.)

1. I am having a bad day am having a bad month am having a bad year. Lord, but I hate the day job. To top it all off, today I was honked by the driver behind me - because I stopped to avoid running a girl over. Driving in Cambridge really hurts my head. As for the job, I went downstairs today (I work on the third floor, in a windowless office under a tinhat roof) to fetch coffee and one of the other trainees' secretaries said, "Hey, you have something stuck to you. Oh, it's... part of a title plan."

Other people get toilet paper stuck to their shoes. I... don't.

2. It was my birthday! And now it is not my birthday. But it was not nearly as bad a birthday as I'd feared; quite the reverse, in fact. Even though I did spend the day marking up title plans, my department signed a card for me, and the other trainees went to dinner with me, and bought me cake and bath stuff and a £20 Amazon voucher which I still haven't spent. (Not sure what to get! Oh life, so hard.) And my parents sent roses, as they're away. And now I am twenty-five, and have been for nearly a week, and... well. Still here.

Today is Republic Day, though. Happy birthday, India. We love you.

3. I am caught up with Fringe! I am still head over heels for it: smart, character-driven, full-of-heart plots, and witty, sharp writing. What gets me about it, though, is okay, the shows of my heart from the nineties, SG-1 and Voyager and whatnot, they had great characters almost despite themselves. Because of the format, because of the need for the reset button, they had great characters, whom stories happened around. What I love about Fringe is that it is a story about Peter, Walter and Olivia. (I wish it were more of a story about Astrid and Broyles too! But that's something for another time.)

So yes. I adore it, and I am especially enamoured of [personal profile] musesfool's spot-on analysis: Olivia is the superhero, with the superhero backstory (she's a former Marine and she can save the world) and Peter is the fairy princess, with the fairy princess(spoilery) backstory ).

So... as, the novel is not happening with the writing so much, and to be honest neither is anything that doesn't involve work or crying about work, does anyone want a Fringe ficlet? Prompt me if you would. I'm trying to coax the ol' brain into writing again, which so far slim success.

4. There is no number four. I am writing this in the bath, okay. There is only so much cope with which to cope.
raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
Life. It continues. Itemised:

1. Last night, after five, I was tidying my desk and flipping through Farmers' Weekly (really, by god), and the Caped Crusader rushed by, came to a sudden stop, rushed back and said, "Iona, can you witness a stat dec?"

"Yes," I said, a little doubtfully, read the document, watched him read the document, watched him sign the document, and then wrote my name, address, occupation, and signed to say that the above-named individual had signed in my presence in accordance with the 1835 Act, etc., and then thought to ask, "Why are you making a statutory declaration to say you read over someone's will?"

"Blind testatrix," he said. The funny thing is, I thought later, that the testatrix in question is a young woman. If she lives her allotted span, that document will be pulled from its envelope along with the will a half-century from now. If it becomes part of the root of title for something, well, I have a will in my files that was signed in the presence of witnesses in this year of our Lord seventeen hundred and forty-seven. That scrap of paper with my writing on it will outlive me by centuries.

2. Still quite depressed. Ahaha, I say "quite". Went to see new GP yesterday, which I hadn't done since arriving in Cambridge. He turned out to be very kind and very nice, and alarmed me somewhat by turning to his computer screen and saying, "Right. I think I should sign you off work for a week and put you on something."

I persuaded him not to do this - it's ten days till Christmas - but he told me to come back in January and rethink. (Actually, he was really nice; he said I had a sensible approach to things.) And I think he was right about January being different - I always find January and February harder than December. Usually I look forward to my birthday, but for some reason I don't want to be twenty-five. I feel like twenty-five ought to be, to have done, to have become something... and me, I read Farmers' Weekly. You get it.

3. Speaking of Christmas. This year as most years, I am out of the country. (Once, on Christmas Eve, I spent eight hours on a departure gate floor, listening to "I'll Be Home For Christmas" on repeat over tinny airport speakers. It was hell.) Today at work, I went to see one of the partners to get something signed, and not only is she a lovely person, she has an endearing relationship with the two departmental trainees (me and the Caped Crusader): she's new, and she doesn't want to annoy her secretaries or make her colleagues think she's dim, so when she wants to know how the photocopier works and where the spare envelopes are and what idiotic thing her computer has done now, she asks us and thus feels she owes us a favour.

So she signed my letters, and asked, "Are you going home for Christmas? Where's home for you?"

And, and, I have this issue with home and going home and homelands. Y'all know. Since coming back from the States it's only got worse. Every day I track people and plans and landscapes - I call Land Registry, I register interests, I use documents and time to map people onto the water, rocks and earth they call their land - and I get more worried, theoretically speaking, about what any of it even means and if it means anything. Me, I own no land. (To get technical about it, I do hold an interest in land, but whatever.) But I sometimes worry I own no land metaphorically: that I grew up in one place and spent all my adult life in another, that I've lived in three countries and left bits of myself in all of them, that I never sit still, that I never go home.

All very melodramatic and banal, as per; I guess I have a homeland in my body, all five feet and seventy-percent water of it, and the spaces I pass through.

All of which is a ridiculous prelude to the answer to the question, which is: India. I am going to India on the evening of December 23rd, for the first time in two years, and the real first: Shim is coming with me. I think it will be strange, but good.

4. Possibly related to 2, writing is not going so well. [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, it is a hollow laughter. I have written, oh, 300 words, and I have a perfectly serviceable plot which for some reason I do not write down, why, self, why. The novel is going a bit better, but I'm stuck in chapter nine. I don't know why. Nothing very exciting happens in chapter nine. Some people talk to other people. (Actually, that describes my entire novel. Absolutely nothing happens, and then characters talk to each other about it. It reads rather a lot like the sophomore effort of a woman who has spent the last decade writing fanfic. (Be glad you weren't around for the freshman effort.)

And so on, and so on. Still flying, still breathing.
raven: (stock - scotland)
I got my [livejournal.com profile] yuletide assignment. As is the way of these things, I had a brilliant idea on seeing it, wrote three hundred words and then nothing more. I'm still cautiously optimistic I might make progress soonish. I think I shall have to rewatch re-read replay re-consume the canon and hope for the best.

Here are some things that make a post.

1. Work continues difficult and anxiety-provoking. (What a surprise.) Had a meeting this morning in which there was much discussion of single farm payments, solar energy and renewables generally, inter alia; my supervisor said, sternly to all present, that we should pay attention to such things; we should keep apprised of what's happening in our world. It's a world composed mainly of anxiety and grit, from my perspective. Grit that comes off deeds, grit that accumulates in my ears and nose after a day of deeds, grit from site visits, grit under nails, grit that shit grows in. At least it's about growing things, says the part of me that would quite like to go on site visits to windswept moors in the middle of nowhere. My supervisor gets in beautiful full-colour periodicals of blue-sky pictures so we can sometimes see what the land we handle looks like to stand on.

(We have reached the turn of the year where sunset is at three thirty. I am... feeling it.)

On the brighter side, on my way to work is a Buddhist retreat and education centre. They are having a charity bake sale. The Dharma Buns. FOR SERIOUS.

2. Shim and I have spent some evenings this week listening to Warhorses of Letters, and finished today to a joint chorus of NO THEY CAN'T LEAVE IT THERE. Please tell me you are listening to this, flist. Please tell me. It is a four-part Radio 4 fifteen-minute comedy that details for us the correspondence between two star-crossed lovers, Marengo and Copenhagen. Both of whom are known to history for being close friends of Napoleon and Wellington respectively, oh, and being horses. But, as their collected correspondence tells us, terribly gay for each other, though prone to jealousy and ah, needing rolls in wet grass to compose themselves. "It's not easy," as Copenhagen puts it, "being a gay horse."

KISS KISS HOOFPRINT. I have hearts. It's nominated for [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, which makes them sparkly hearts.

3. Speaking of [livejournal.com profile] yuletide and historical fiction, which I totally was, I am re-reading the Lord John Grey novels and rather enjoying the experience. I am still very far from being Diana Gabaldon's biggest fan - I cannot, no matter how hard I try, get into her Outlander books, which are just too doorstoppish and full of deathless! romantic! hero! tropes for me. It baffles me somewhat that she can also have written Lord John Grey: Lord John, who is a terribly romantic hero, in so many ways, being as he is charming, aristocratic, classically-educated, an expert swordsman, and indefinably attractive to women. But then, he also has a sense of humour. And he's queer. And, you know, I love that, I do: I love that Lord John is queer in a way that makes sense for the world he lives in (which is eighteenth-century Scotland, and London; he was born in 1729) but also just makes sense. He's proud of it in his own quiet way; regretful that he can't ever tell his adored brother and mother; and when asked if he thinks it's a sin, his answer is that he was made in the image of God. And I love his romances, doomed as they all are by exigencies of plot; I love that they happen in and around adventure-mystery fare; and I love that he's a soldier, and it's a part of his identity with his queerness, that they both characterise him.

this is my usual spoilery trigger warning when recommending the Lord John books )

So, anyway, I forgot to nominate, offer or request Lord John fic for [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, but luckily other people did not. I am reading them cheerfully, and feeling a little better about life now I have lived through another week.
raven: cartoon image of bleary-looking woman with dark hair (nemi - sleepy)
I have sleeping pills which say "take twenty minutes before sleeping". I think this is a very presumptuous instruction on the part of the people who make the pills, especially as they do sell them in a box that nowhere says "hey you YES YOU these are ALSO the pills labeled 'anti-hay fever; may cause drowsiness" only we're charging you £1 more. But I've taken them. Here I am.

Here is the bad news. Still going to work every day. Still Not Very Good at my job. (Today I sent a whole stack of papers to entirely the wrong government department. Hellfire, brimstone, etc.) I have my midseat review next week, in which my patient and scrupulous supervisor will no doubt scrupulously and patiently tell me everything that's wrong with me. Urgh.

Here is the good news. I am not going to work tomorrow. I took it off, for no reason at all, and I'm going to read, write the novel and take a French class. (Also, is this weird? My colleagues think this is weird. I am not ill, on holiday, or anything else; I am taking a day off in the middle of the week because I damn well feel like it and also, I hate November with a passion and need something to get me through the murk. My colleagues seem to have decided amongst themselves that I'm going to be the weird one. I am weird, I s'pose. They're not bad people at all, my colleagues; I work for the hardest department for a trainee to work for, so they also call me the clever one. I try to tell them, if I were clever I would be wandering through the crisp fall, now, thinking about my thesis, rather than spending hours of my youth on the phone to the Environment Agency, discussing septic tanks.

What else, what else? I have read Snuff. I am still rewatching M*A*S*H. One of my colleagues, I shall call him the Caped Crusader because that is, in fact, his name, spends plenty of time waiting for his photocopying, standing by my desk, probing the limits of my knowledge. By the time he discovered I can quote from Plan 9 From Outer Space, I know just what it was that John Barrowman said straight-faced in Shark Attack 3 and I like Deep Space Nine best but also "The Best of Both Worlds", I think we were friends. We were talking about The West Wing, and I remember saying that I can't deal with Alan Alda not in M*A*S*H and especially not as a Republican, oh, dear, and he said, yes, I've seen that! I remember one I saw just the other day, when Hawkeye can't stop sneezing....

I carefully didn't jump up and down going, omg, omg, and said, merely, "I said to Shim the other day, only that show can take a classic sitcom plot like 'Hawkeye can't stop sneezing' and turn it into TRAUMA."

Today he wandered across my desk and said, so, you're kinda inspiring, can I borrow the DVDs?

I said yes, if he would take one of my deeds of covenant and aim it at the right people tomorrow while I am lying in bed writing my novel. He agreed this was a fair trade. It's always nice, when you find a similar sort of spirit to yours in unexpected places. The Crusader himself said, no one else understands me when I talk about these things. I strongly suspect we are friends.

It hasn't been twenty minutes yet. Er, a meme. meme )

I sleep now! Hopefully.
raven: (mash - last goodbye)
I've never been a big fan of October. It always seems like a halfway month that's not on the way to anywhere.

work )


IN OTHER NEWS ENTIRELY. I am keeping myself cheerful at the moment by watching M*A*S*H and it is very lovely. It is, and I'd forgotten, rather - I am watching the early episodes, with the laugh track mercifully removed on the DVDs, and a couple of nights ago I watched "Sometimes You Hear The Bullet" and it made me clutch at my heart rather. I love M*A*S*H in some of the same ways I love Star Trek - because it can be so unsubtle, so in-your-face in what it wants you to believe, but at the same time I believe those things. I can't help myself. I am not cool. I am especially not hipster cool. I heart my lovely khaki-green show with Hawkeye's anger turned sideways and Radar's quiet clairvoyance and Henry who launched a thousand indecisions and Trapper, and BJ, and Sidney Freedman ("Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice...") and my heart will always hurt a little when Hawkeye says, "So I think too fast and I'm afraid of children, that's not so terrible."

(Before anyone asks, I have not dared touch my old fic. I have, however, re-read the remixes, which I recommend: Missing Hawk (the Anger Turned Sideways Remix), by [personal profile] eponymous_rose; The Acme Judgement Company (Uncloseted Remix), by [livejournal.com profile] iamsab.

ALSO. Here is another reason why I love Hawkeye Pierce, why he's one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. He's queer. He's almost definitely bisexual. How do we know this? Because he says so. He says so all the damn time.

don't believe me? )

Stepping back, I think you could only watch this show in a heterosexist society - a society where your unspoken assumptions code how you hear dialogue - and then come away from it believing Hawkeye isn't queer. (And, here's another thing: queer, bisexual, maybe fluid, not as simple as "gay". I heart Hawkeye, I really do.)

I need to go and read for an exam on financial regulation. It's really not 2002. I checked.
raven: (stock - rock 'n' roll)
So, my staggeringly hard-working, morally upstanding, principled Hindu parents told me yesterday to make sure I don't allow my job to take over my life. That's what's happened. That is how bad it's got, okay. (Four months ago I left New York in a rush of glorious spring. The world has constricted somewhat since then.)

So, anyway, not letting my job take over my life is why I'm on a train back from London, writing this on my phone through something of a haze. I made my apologies to my supervisor, changed my top in the ladies and flew to the station, and by seven Shim and I had got to Union Chapel, which is both a working non-conformist church and a venue for live music, to see the Civil Wars. They're a duo from the American South, and they were totally delicious. I mean, the venue, the venue, a church with all that stained glass and echoes dissipating in grandeur, but also fab red and yellow cheesy boudoir lighting, that was something, but the band. They are just gorgeous: they do their own songs, which are haunting little things for the most part, all harmonies and hanging notes, and also these playful covers that make heartbroken mood music out of "You Are My Sunshine". Of their own songs, I like "20 Years" and "Poison and Wine" and "My Father's Father", but the one that came to life particularly was "Barton Hollow". They made it sumptuous and treacly and can't no preacher man save my soul in the church. It was fabulous.

(This is where I would usually upload samples, but a) on my phone and b) you can get a whole live album of theirs here, also Barton Hollow, don't say I never do anything nice for you.)

I'd say it was totally worth it, except I don't know yet. I have to go in early tomorrow and make nice for leaving early today, and I'm not at all sure you can stop my job from taking over my life. I mean, it would not be nice, to be a person who works and sleeps and doesn't read or write or cook or learn languages or go and see live music like the person I am supposed to be does, but perhaps it is unavoidable. About ten years ago the government agency responsible for maintaining them totally switched over to an automated system - otherwise I would seriously be considering applying to be a lighthouse keeper.

(thank you all who are reading the cake shop AU, by the way. Your thoughts and comments have been very sustaining.)
raven: (stock - rock 'n' roll)
Hello, all. So, I am aware I have been a bad friend and quiet fannish citizen for around two or three weeks now, and I want to apologise for that.

Here's the bad news. I am likely to continue being both of those things until March, and I apologise for that.

Here's what's going on in my life:

work )

For the most part, though, I'm happy living in Cambridge, and living with Shim is working out well. I miss the States, but I always will and it's nice here. It's just work that's making me miserable at the moment. I'm told it gets better; I hope it will.

2. Possibly unwisely, I have tickets for The Civil Wars in a couple of weeks. I haven't seen live music for years, I'm very excited.

3. So, a few weeks back [personal profile] gavagai made me watch X-Men, and I really enjoyed it; then I watched some of the other films, finishing with X-Men: First Class. I think y'all knew this. I think some of you also knew I had got fed up with trying to fix the movie to suit me, and decided to write Charles/Erik in a cake shop AU instead.

Well, 17,500 words later I have finally got that story out to beta. ([personal profile] happydork is to blame - it was going to be a story about, y'know, cake. And maybe some kissing. Then she said, "Shouldn't it be a kosher bakery?" - and the rest is a great deal of history.)

The problem, y'see, that work has taken away all of my critical faculties. (And everything else, too: I went out for dinner with some of my colleagues on Thursday night, and we'd gone to a Nando's which, I believe, has the sort of menu where you pick things from column A, B, C, etc. The problem is that schedules of deeds are also in columns marked A, B and C. I couldn't order. Someone had to do it for me.) So while I had all sorts of issues with XMFC - and still do - I ship Charles/Erik. I really do. I ship them like I'm twelve and it's Sirius/Remus.

(I mean. Sirius/Remus. I only stopped shipping them when I had done all the shipping - when you didn't need to ship them, they had been shipped.)

So here are some recs of what I've been reading, in lieu of anything approaching original content:

Call Me By His Name, by [archiveofourown.org profile] sinuous_curve
Charles wakes from the absence of noise. Charles and Erik, afterwards. It's beautiful, this, and thoughtful, and just, very very good.

The Emperor's New Clothes, by [archiveofourown.org profile] ignipes
Ignipes used to write fantastic HP fic, I remember; this one has a lot of what I loved about that, it's subtle and clever and also really hilarious. Emma and Mystique try to stop Magneto wearing rubbish outfits! It's awesome. [via [personal profile] gavagai]

all the fears you left behind by [livejournal.com profile] londondrowning
He angles the gun [...] and suddenly there is nothing funny here, nothing at all. This is totally fascinating in that it really gets inside Erik's head - what it's like to be him. I thought it was very well-done.

Not So Much the Teacup by [archiveofourown.org profile] thehoyden
IT'S A WEDDING PLANNER AU. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED. She also wrote What Not To Expect When You're Not Expecting It, hilarious and adorable well-written mpreg. (I know, I know. See above re: twelve. Via [livejournal.com profile] wildestranger.)

The Winter of Banked Fires, by [livejournal.com profile] yahtzee63.
My favourite, here. I'm fond of all Yahtzee's writing - her way of seeing characters and relationships is a lot like mine - and this one's no exception. It's basically a gigantic fix-it that's sort of set after the first trilogy of films, and it's lovely, novel-length and just what I wanted to read. Logan and Rogue get together, gently, realistically, in a way that I totally didn't expect to find interesting and then did; and Charles and Erik fight, make up, put to rest fifty years of demons and make fun of disco. It is just lovely.


okay, you carry on with your day.]

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