Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fuck it

Here's a lesson in grammar for you, Herebe. (Seriously, if more gramar was taught like this, university undergraduates might finally know their parts of speech.) Fucking brilliant.

almost profound

last night i had a great conversation with barnacle,* on whether or not there existed such a thing as a Universal Morality, that is, a law or set of laws which govern behavior and dictate the right course in every given situation in this universe. (Other universes have their own universal moralities, naturally.) I began the conversation with the notion that barnacle is full of crap, but ended up conceding he may or may not be right; there's just no way to prove it one way or the other. I intended to record some of the highlights of the conversation here for your enjoyment (yeah right) and enlightenment.

But i'm not going to.

Instead, i'm going to bitch about my bicycle some more. I won't go into details because i can't be bothered to type it all out, but the short short short version is that the shop around the corner was supposed to have the parts in last 2 weeks ago, install them last week, and charge me a total of about 25 pounds. Today they were telling me they can't get all the parts in until NEXT week, they'll do the work the week after, and it will cost me upwards of 60 pounds.

I am NOT happy about this.

And before you seriously underestimate my balls and overestimate my gullibility, let me just state right now for the record that i already told them where they can go.

The bike is less than a year old, so i called the company from which i purchased it, told them the problem, they said they could send me the parts at cost (18 pounds). Cool. Then i went to a different bike shop and asked how much they would charge to install the new parts (which will be here in less than 48 hours, shipping included). They said 5, maybe 10. I said "you'e hired."

Unfortunately the soonest they could schedule me in is Wednesday the 12th of april, but i'm leaving for italy next tuesday and won't be back until the 11th anyway, so it doesn't really matter. It just means that barnacle can't use my bike while i'm gone. Just as well; i'd probably never get him off it.

*so known because when he latches on to an idea there's just no shaking him from it

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Slept with the windows open last night for the first time this spring. That's always a big milestone for me, since I come from a climate where it's too cold to open the windows at night about 8 months of the year. I love sleeping in the fresh (downtown Bristol!) air, feeling the currents blowing softly over my face, feeling more connected to the world, more IN the world. It may not have been the round, viburnum-scented, salt air of south-eastern Connecticut, but it was glorious nonetheless. I slept like a babe in arms.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Good times

Last night we cranked up the love tunes, got ourselves good and liquered up, and...


A bit of Percy Sledge, a bit of white wine, a few tubes of icing and a load of chocolate chips. Aww yee-eah, baby!

(The four bakers represented 4 different countries, so we each decorated a cookie in honor of our home turf. Aren't we cute?)

This morning we had nice weather in Bristol for the first time this spring. (It's gone now, of coure, but for a couple hours it was rather enjoyable. Windy as all hell, but warm and sunny.) I took a copy of Piers Plowman up to Brandon Hill Park, found myself a sunny spot on the hillside sheltered from the wind, and laid down with my book, enjoying the smell of the purple hyacinths that surrounded me. That, my friends, is what higer education should be!

Monday, March 27, 2006

To erg is human...

... to row, divine!

(this, by the way, is erging. See how evil it is?)

Hendrix and Patroclus, consider yourselves tagged. (Actually, HC, I seriously considered tagging you anyway because I'm sure you have loads of terrific music to share, but I know how busy at work you are and I didn't want to be a nuissance. I can't wait to read your 20 tracks.)

and now, the Hairy Update:

Spent the weekend with the Hairy Man, and what a lovely weekend it was. Saturday we went to see Transamerica at the Watershed (which is a teriffic film, by the way), and then he took me back to his and fixed us a curry for dinner. Damn that man can cook!

Sunday was the best, thought. He took me out for drive in the Somerset countryside. He wouldn't tell me where we were going, which was fine because I love surprises. First we drove through Cheddar gorge, which was spectacular. The weather was shit and we weren't dressed for hiking, but he promised to bring me back later in the spring and do a day hike. Then becuause, as he put it, "I know you're into all that medieval stuff, so I thought you might enjoy this," he drove me over to Wells to visit the cathedral there. You're darn tootin' I enjoyed it!

(Did you know that the cathedral at Wells is home to the second oldest working clock in the entire world? It's SO COOL. It's over 600 years old. On the hour a pair of wooden jousting knights come out of the clock and do a little joust, and a wooden jester rings a chime on the hour and clicks his heels on the quarter-hour. It's totally charming!)

It was a drippy, foggy, rainy afternoon, and we spent about 5 hours whizzing around the countryside, enjoying the views and vistas and (most of all) the company. Finally we stopped at the grocery store on the way home (he actually held my hand as we wandered around tesco's) and got fixin's for dinner. He made a pork roast with parsnips and swede and sprouts and apple sauce. De-lish!

(If I didn't know better, I'd think he was seriously trying to court me.)

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I can't row because all the women's boats are in London, making their way to Italy for training camp.

I can't run because my knee is buggered.

I can't cycle because my bicycle is busticated, and the parts should have been in last week but they're still not here.

I can't erg because the battery in my ipod is dead. Ok, technically i can still erg, but if you've ever spent more than 10 minutes on one of those torture devices without music than you understand how mind-numbing/soul-destroying it is.

Havn't had a decent workout in 3 days, and there's no end in sight. I feel fat.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Blog tag: 20 Tracks

No one tagged me with this series of questions. I stole it. From here. I have a very good reason for doing this. But you have to read all 20 items to get to the valid reason at the end. On your mark..., get set..., go!

20 Tracks

1. A track from your early childhood

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel. It was the first non-church song I ever learned. Mom was driving me to school, I was probably about 8 or 9. It was raining, and we were late. We were never allowed to miss school for anything, and being late was a heinous sin, so I was stunned when mom pulled up in front of the school and told me to sit in the car and listen to this song that had just come on the radio. I watched the raindrops hit the windshield and listend to the feather-light voice of Art Garfunkel tell me that I would never be alone. Life for me changed forever that morning.

2. A track that you associate with your first love
"All I Have To Do Is Dream" by the Everly Brothers. I was 12, it was high summer, and he was away for 2 months visiting his mom in another state. I think I listened to that song every single night for those 2 months. Only summer in my entire life when I wished school would hurry up and start again.

The other song that always takes me back is "This Magic Moment," by The Drifters. That was the song that was playing the first time we/I ever slow-danced. We were holding each other as far apart as our arms could reach, and suddenly he pulled me in next to his body, violating the "there must be light visible between you" rule of catholic school dances. To this day I have never felt such exhileration as I did then, and I have never forgotten the way he smelled. (Are you reading this, my dearest? Do you remember that dance? You were so fucking cute that night, with your slicked back hair and leather jacket and rolled up jeans!)

3. A track that reminds you of a holiday trip
"500 Miles" by Peter, Paul, & Mary. We were driving to Alabama to visit my paternal grandfather, whom I hadn't seen in about 10 years. It was our first ever family road trip. It was springtime and we were heading south (on I-75?) through Kentucky. Mom commented how funny it was that that song should come on just then, as we were almost exactly 500 miles from home. I looked out the window at the bright green grass, blooming redbud trees, and horses playing in the pastures.

4. A track that you like but wouldn't want to be associated with in public
"Mmm-bop" by Hansen. The less said the better.

5. A track that accompanied you when you were lovesick
"Ghost," by the Indigo Girls. Best song about unrequited lover EVER. That song got me through a lot of heartache.

6. The track you have listened to most often
According to iTunes it's "Keep the Customer Satisfied" by Simon and Garfunkel. Sounds about right. God, what brass. More rock music should have brass in it.

7. A track that is your favourite instrumental
Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." I could write an entire novel based soley on memories I have that are associated with that piece, from Thanksgiving when I was a kid to my best friend's violin recital my junior year of college. I know every movement by heart and I cannot hear it witout weeping like a willow tree.

8. A track that represents one of your favourite bands
"Rocket" by Def Leppard. Best drumbeat ever.

9. A track which best represents yourself
Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls?" Ha ha, just kidding. More like "Somebody To Love." Fucking story of my life. Oh hold on, here we go: "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?/It Sucks To Be Me," from the musical Avenue Q. Yep, that's the one.

10. A track which reminds you of a special person
"Get 'em In Again" by the illustrious Mr. H. Monsters, because he wrote and performed it. (By the way, what's the actual title of that song? That's how I've got listed on my 'puter, but I have no idea what you named it.)

11. A track to which you can relax
"A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum. Great tune, and makes an allusion to the Canterbury Tales. Wierdly, I fell in love with that tune years before I'd ever heard of the CTs, let alone read it. Call it fate.

12. A track that stands for a really good time in your life
Promise not to laugh? "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve. Springtime in Connecticut, 2nd year of uni. Everything was perfect that spring. Surrounded by caring friends, challenging profs, and blue skies. Did all my work that semester lying in the grass below my dorm room window. Every afternoon someone would put their speakers in their window and serenade the quad. Inevitably, Bittersweet Symphony was on the playlist. The whole campus smelled like viburnum.

13. A track that is currently your favourite
"Hard Love" by June Tabor. Also Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujia." Another case of discovering a teriffic artist after he's died. Jesus that's frustrating.

14. A track that you'd dedicate to your best friend
"Power of Two" by the Indigo Girls.

15. A track that you like especially for its lyrics
That's pretty much everything. I don't listen to music if I think the lyrics are shit, but I can zing a few of my favs at you. Lesse here, "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are" by Meat Loaf springs to mind, along with pretty much anyting Paul Simon ever wrote, and "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" by John Denver is always good for a giggle. "The Waters of March" by Art Garfunkel is also really cool, and you can't beat Tom Lerher for rhyming genius, as exemplified by "We Will All Go Together When We Go."

16. A track that no one likes but you
"I Try" by Macie Gray. For some reason whenever that tune comes on the radio everyone wants to change the station except me. I love her husky voice and the undulating beat of the song. But someone else out there must like it or they wouldn't play it on the radio so often, right?

17. A track that you like that's neither English nor German
"Volare'" by the Gypsy Kings. Anything by the Gypsy Kings, really. Awesome ensemble.

18. The track that best lets you release tension
"Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. No matter how foul or festering my mood all I have to do is get in the car, put the windows down and the volume up and sing at the top of my lungs. I am instantly transformed from snivelling, insecure, weepy woman to invincible, wonderwoman extraordinare. Works every time.

19. A track you want to be played at your funeral
I honestly can't think of one. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

20. A track that you'd nominate for the "Best Track of All Time" category.
Oh, sure, no problem. I'll just name one song out of the billions that have been written and sung and declare it the best, shall i? Fuck. Fine, here goes:
"Unchained Melody," by the Righteous Brothers. Classic. Cannot be improved upon.

Ok, so why did I have the cheek to rip this list off Tim Footman when he didn't tag me? Because Here Be Monsters hasn't posted anything in ages, and so I'm tagging HIM. (I figured if I could get him to write about anything, it would be a list of his favourite tunes. I'm sneaky that way.) So there you go, Herebe; consider youself tagged.

Calling all bible-banging Jesus-krispies!!!

I just can't keep quiet on this one.

A dude in Afganistan is on trial -- for converting from Islam to Christianity. He most likely will be executed.

Reading this article on the BBC News website, I had several reactions.

"The Prophet Muhammad has said several times that those who convert from Islam should be killed if they refuse to come back," says Ansarullah Mawlafizada, the trial judge. "Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, kindness and integrity. That is why we have told him if he regrets what he did, than we will forgive him," he told the BBC News website.

Are you even listening to yourself?! Webster's New English Dictionary defines "tolerance" as "a value or state of mind in which you refrain from killing or beating on people's asses who disagree with your views." overwhelming number of ordinary Afghans appear to believe Mr Rahman has erred and deserves to be executed.

"We will not let anyone interfere with our religious practices," declared cleric Inayatullah at Kabul's Pulakasthy mosque, one of the city's largest.

Um, he's not. He just wants to go about his business and pray to the god of jesus (which, by the way, is the god of abraham, which just also happens to be the god of muhammed, which just happens to be allah. same rose, different name). Do you honestly not see that you're the ones interfering with his religious practices?

"What is wrong with Islam that he should want to convert?" asks an agitated Abdul Zahid Payman.

Ah, I'm beginning to understand your logic. If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for everyone, is that it? Whoo-hoo homogeneity!

"This is a Muslim country. The state is Muslim, people are Muslim 99%," says Judge Ansarullah.

Oh, even better! There's nothing like a healthy dose of circuar logic to brighten up one's existence in the bleakest fucking landscape in the world. It's a Muslim state, so we are justified in executing non-Muslims, so it remains a Muslim state. Clever, that.

Now, we all know I can't stand fundamentalists of any religion, be it Christianity, Islam, or what have you. But I gotta wonder, where is the religious Right in America on this? Where's the outrage?!?! They should be up in fucking arms over this! (And for the first and probably last time ever, I would agree with them.) They're so fucking worried about the "gay agenda" (which doesn't even exist) that they are completely ignoring the Islamic agenda, which does.

The people in Afganistan who are calling for the death of the Christian convert are the very same Muslims who protested the Danish cartoons depticting the prophet. These people demand that people the world over respect and tolerate their beliefs, threatening to publicly murder cartoonists for a demonstration of disrepsect. They demand tolerance of their beliefs, but show none whatsoever to anyone else.

Where are the protests from Bible-bangers? In my hometown when a cinema tried to show the Rocky Horror Picture Show the Christians turned up in spades to picket and protest. Where are they now? Where are the demonstrations around American and the world, the angry Jesus-freaks screaming for mercy and tolerance because one of their own is about to be fucking martyred?!? The message is clear: movies are more evil than murder; it's a greater crime for me to take the pill than it is for a dude to be stoned in the streets because of the way he prays.

I honestly don't know which disgusts me more: hypocritical muslims who are killing a dude because he converted to another religion, or hypocritical christians who don't give a shit.

Stop the planet; i'm getting off.

Thou art God

Thank you thank you thank you. Every now and again when I need a dose of perspective, someone comes along and slaps me with it. ("Thank you sir, may I have another?" No, that's just greedy.) If you've been stressed or whining about insignificants lately, put the kettle on, make some toast, and spread it with the love of First Nations, who has brought us The Truth (sponsored by the letter K and number 4). Thou art God, brother.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"You're not in pain..."

Today I started physical therapy for my buggered knee. It hurt, but I'm glad to finally be doing something about the problem.

The problem isn't serious, but as you know I compete at a fairly high level of sport, and I don't want it to become a serious problem, both for the sake of my rowing and my everyday life. Because of my arthritis, when I suddenly develop a problem in a joint which had heretofore* been problem free, I tend to take it pretty seriously.

Here's the problem: About a month ago, rather out of the blue, my left knee started popping, just like you can do to your knuckles, only about a hundred times a day, and I couldn't stop it. By the end of the day, the knee was sore and achy. I decided this was a problem for 3 reasons: 1, it caused me pain, 2, it never used to do this, and 3, the right knee does not do it.

These seemed like fairly sound arguements in favor of the conclusion that there is something wrong with my knee. No less than 2 doctors disagreed with me, however. I got to have the following conversation not once, but twice!

There's something wrong with my knee.
I can't find anything wrong.
But I'm in pain.
I can't find a cause.
Then refer me to a rheumatologist.
I can't refer you to a specialist if there's nothing wrong you.
There is something wrong with me: i'm in pain.
But I can't find a cause.
That's why I need a referal; you can't find the problem.
I can't be sure there is a problem.
Are you telling me I'm not actually in pain?!?
I'm telling you I can't find anything wrong with you...

And around and around we go. Finally she suggested that I see a physio at the University Health and Fitness Centre.

So I saw the physio on Monday. It took him 5 minutes to figure out that because of a slight misalignment in my lumbar spine, my patela was not tracking straight along the line of my femur but instead being pulled slightly to one side. My knee was popping because the patela kept trying to realign itself and pop itself back into place. The resulting friction was the cause of the pain. Another symptom of which I had been unaware, but which His Majesty the Physio demonstrated, was that I had also lost about 20% of the strenght in certain muscle groups in my upper leg and left buttock.

Went back today to begin treatment. His Majesty the Physio bent me into a pretzel, twisted me around a bit, put some pressure in certain spots which resulted in some "minor discomfort,"** and then did the relative strenght tests again. In just 30 minutes I actually managed to regain quite a bit of strength in the leg! It was fucking amazing! The problem isn't that the muscles can't do the work, it's that they are inhibited from doing the work by all the shit that's just slightly out of alignment, and no amount of straining on my part can change that.

So he gave me some stretches and moves to keep my lumbar spine in tip-top shape and some stretches and excercises for the weakend muscle groups, and sent me on my merry way.


(Now I just need to figure out how to pay for it. Since it's done by the Uni and not the NHS, it ain't free. 26 quid for today, another 19 for my follow-up session on monday. Lordy.)

Oh, and check out this photo of me and the gang on the ARA website (2nd from left, in lime green fleece vest).

*heretofore: world's coolest preposition
**that's "minor discomfort" in the medical sense of SERIOUSLY FUCKING PAINFUL.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I'm really glad i didn't write the bitchy post that i almost wrote, because it would have been insultingly inaccurate. Phew! *wipes forhead*

For the last week I've been checking out the blogs of all my lovely, lovely, supportive readers, and I was getting annoyed as piss than none of you fuckwads were posting anything. Every time I opened "Sex, Money, & HTML" it showed the "Snowed In" post. And "Paul" appeared to have written nothing since "Agitatos and Girlbogs." And I came THIS CLOSE (*pinches thumb and forefinger together*) to writing a post bitching about how you all were letting me down and how I was going mad with nothing to read with my tea in the morning.

Thank god I figured out before I did that that the problem was with my browser. Grrr.

So that's why I havn't been leaving any comments for the past week. I wasn't ignoring you, really.

The upshot of all this is that it's going to take me at least 3 cups of tea to read up on all the back material. Yay! Look out, my bitches, here I come!!!

Monday, March 20, 2006

How to make Monday not suck*: a 12-step program

As with so many things, the key to a perfect Monday is preparation. One must begin with an exceptional Sunday evening. For my tastes, I like to begin any memorable experience with memorable food. Thus, having someone cook you an AMAZING dinner is a suitable way to commence your preparatory Sunday evening. I recommend a "cuzza," or curry meal, including homemade** popadums and mango chutney, pilau rice, chicken in some kind of yummy, korma-esqe sauce, and chickpea battered and fried chicken. It is advisable at this point to consume large quantities of very nice wine which you didn't have to purchase.

Step 2: Following your meal (served to you and which you do not have to clean up, despite your sincere offers of service), crash out in front of the telly and watch stunning nature programmes on BBC. Relax while the evening's chef gently massages your head and neck for an entire hour during said nature programme. Periodically emit soft moans of pleasure. This has the dual function of a) encouraging the masseur to continue his activities, and b) inspiring the masseur's flatmate to flee the room and leave you two the hell alone.

Step 3: When the programme ends, state that everything else on telly is rubbish and it's too late to start a movie so you might as well go to bed. Yawn for effect. Trot cheerfully after masseuse, who was in the bedroom before you reached the end of the previous sentence. Discretely brush teeth with own toothbrush smuggled carefully in handbag. One mustn't give the impression that one fully expected to spend the night, no matter how fully one expected to spend the night. (It looks cheap.)

Step 4: Strip casually but seductively down to lacy, periwinkle blue nickers in front of audience of one. Turn off light.

Step 5: (------------------------ edited for graphic content --------------------------------)

Step 6: Enquire with bemeusement and mild embarassment, "Do you think Flamate heard that?" Blush appropriately at response, "I think a few Tibetan gurus heard that. You've definately confused the hell out of some seismologists in California."

Have a pee and a drink of water. Do NOT step in juicy condoms (yes plural) on floor before getting back in bed. Snuggle up and sleep the sleep of the innocent.

Congratulations! You've now completed your preparatory Sunday evening to set the stage for the perfect monday morning.


Step 7: Wake up feeling warm and drowsy. Make note of breath of man on your neck. Wiggle bum in appreciation. Make note of male bum-wiggle response. Decide that man is awake; roll over and greet. Note that despite vigorous Sunday preparatory activites, man has awakened in traditional male state of, erm, readiness.

Step 8: repeat step 5.

Step 9: Catch breath. Suggest shower is required. Agree that water shortage is serious conservation issue world-wide, and make shower a group effort (strictly for environmental purposes of course). (---------------------------------- edited for graphic content -------------------------------) Towel each other off, still giggling hysterically.

Step 10: Get dressed, smile coyly over tea and toast. Grudgingly admit that it is time for work, and peel yourselves off one another. Take no note of suddenly wrinkled and mussed clothing.

Step 11: Walk home, looking (and feeling) obnoxiously smug.

Step 12: Read text on mobile from man which states: "Words fail me." Write obnoxious, tell-all blog.

*note ironic word choice

**all culinary items listed are completely homemade but it would be annoying and redundant to repeat the employ of the adjective in the description of each one


Is it possible that there are some things which are better off kept to one's self? And by better off I mean could the value, the quality, the clarity, intimacy of a memory be somehow violated by sharing it, even with one's friends? Would this morning be less special, less touching if I told you about it?

I realize that by doing this I'm effectively prancing about singing, "I've got a secret! I've got a secret!" which of course is only inviting you to pump me for details. Yes, i'm fully aware that's exactly what i'm doing. I want to tell you, hell, i want to tell everyone, but at the same time I don't (wierdly). It seems too smug, it seems like boasting.

But of course we all love boasting a little bit.

So I'll leave it up to you. Do you want the formula for starting the perfect Monday morning, guaranteed to make you bounce through the rest of the day wearing an obnoxious, shit-eating grin on your face? Or would you rather I just shut the fuck up and go away? (Seriously, if it's the latter just say so; i won't be hurt.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Monkey nuts*

Bitter, bitter cold morning. Hard outing in scull. Froze.

I'm warm now, so i'm going to do the only sensible thing and get back in bed. Goodbye.

*refers to old Midwestern saying, "It's colder than the balls on a brass monkey out there!"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Shakespeare virgin

Went out with the man last night; took him to see Titus Andronicus at the Tobacco Factory. I had heard good things about it, but I was really nervous. I wanted it to be spectacular for Hairy's sake -- he'd never been to a Shakespeare play before! (How utterly unEnglish) I guess you could say that I got to pop his cultural cherry. (Actually, I did say that. He thought it was hilarious.)

The play was pretty good. The theatre is a blackbox in the round, so there was no set or staging of any kind. The costuming was done in American late 18th c dress, which i took to be an attempt at some kind of comment on American imperialism, but because there was no context other than the costumes to make the point, it was a bit goofy. By and large the acting was excellent, except for the dude who played Lucius who clearly got the part because he was hot, and the guy who played Titus, who was the director filling in for the lead because he (the lead) was in hospital having emergency surgery. Also, there wasn't nearly enough blood. They didn't use any fake squirty blood AT ALL for all the stabbings, which i thought was really boring. This was the 17th c equivalent of a Stephen Segal movie; people went to cheer at the blood and guts. Take that away and you've lost half the entertainment value of the movie. (And if you try to argue with me on this point i will dismiss you as a stuffed-shirt shakespeare upper-class cultural purist who has no idea what 17th c theatre was actually like.) TA without blood flying everywhere is like a Die Hard flick without massive explosions, or an episode of the Dukes of Hazard without a really good car chase -- it's just. not. done.

That said, it was a good show overall, and we had a good time. I hope it wasn't too painful for him.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Down from the clouds

The winning streak had to end sometime. I found out this morning that my rowing for the rest of the season is F.U.C.K.E.D. We were down to 4 senior women. One of them just quit. We can no longer fill the quad. We don't have a raceable crew for the regatta season now. And the club only owns 1 scull, and it is a shit scull. So us remaining 3 can't all use it. It also means that we can't go on training camp. No point. can't fill the fucking boat. And we just bought that brand new quad, too! It's only been used a dozen times! ARGH!!!!!

And just to add insult to injury, the bitch who quit is on a fucking ROWING SCHOLARSHIP. They're paying her to row!!! I'm going to try and broker a deal with my coach this afternoon to get the rest of the money that she would have received for the summer season.

Furthermore, my country is going to SHIT. I know it's just a symbolic gesture with no legal standing, but I'm concerned about the prescedent it sets. Right now it's just a gesture, but this could well be the snowflake that starts the avalanche. Jesus I hate Christians. These evangelical fuckwads preach hate and intolerance, wrap it up in a few selective quotes from a 2 thousand year old piece of LITERATURE, and use it to justify their ignorance and bigotry. I read this headline at the onion this morning, and I just couldn't laugh at it. It's just too close to the truth.

But wait, there's more! Those pesky "christians" have their fingers in loads of pies, including mine, apparently. I guess I no longer have a right to decide what goes on in my own uterus. (Sure, you say, you're not allowed to terminate an undesired pregnanacy. But surely you can avoid the whole fiasco with birth control? Nope, not actually.)

Fucking hell. As goddess is my witness, I am NEVER moving back to that god-awful country.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The lightness! I can't stop laughing!

Right now I'm listening to "Edge of a Broken Heart*," and it made me realize something: I'm not miserable!

It's been so long, I had completely forgotten what it feels like to NOT be depressed.

I'm not miserable.

I'm not suffering.

I'm not pining away. Or crying every day, or whining to everyone i see; or worse, hiding from everyone because i can't face the world.

So this is how the rest of the world lives? This is what it's like to be normal? Huh. Wow. I could get used to this.

*I don't care if you (Mr. H. Monsters) think Bon Jovi is shit. I like cheezy 80s rock anthems. So there.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Inevitable Update

You want photos.

Oh I know you do; don't tell me you don't.

Oh alright then. But first, you have to look at photos of the race on saturday.

That's me, cleverly disguised by the sunglasses. Just look at that reach! Do I have water or what? Aw yeah, 5 is where it's at. Fucking awesome.

Thanks for indulging me in my rowing obsession. Well done. For those of you presently living vicariously, here is your reward:

The man himself. (See what I mean about the Kenny G hair?)

Dinner last night was lovely. Had a great time. He roasted a chicken with carrots, sprouts, parsnips and (because he's English, he just can't help it poor lad)... potatoes. They were good. (For potatoes.)

Then we just lounged around, snuggled on the couch in front of the telly and watched nature programs on BBC4.

Later that night we,



let's just say I lost count and leave it at that, shall we?

and I still have no idea what became of my knickers.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Interlude: HORR

I hate the tideway. Not as much as I hate the Trent, but it's still a sucky piece of water. I hold this opinion because I havn't been on it very many times, but every time I have it's been an awful fucking race in awful fucking conditions.

So when O Captain My Captian announced this week that we were doing Women's HORR on the tideway with a scratch crew filled jointly by Bristol and Mortlake, you can imagine my thrill.

Let me lay out the scenario for you:
Crap water
Unfamilar boat
Getting up at stoopid o'clock to be in London for a 2:30 pm race
I have not sweep rowed in several months, and I havn't been in an 8 in, um, over 2 years.
One woman in the crew just got back from a year off and hadn't been in a boat at all in over 7 months.
One woman had done some light training, but hadn't RACED since her first kid was born. 4 years ago.
The Bristol and Mortlake women had never rowed together before.

This one had success written all over it.

Rowing is a psychological sport. 90% of winning is how well you deal with the voices in your head telling you to quit because the pain isn't worth it. It's a very short hop from "Why the fuck am I doing this?" to "I don't want to do this." And the instant you make that hop, the very instant you think "I don't want to do this," you've lost. That's it.

Never mind the physical agony of a 4.5 MILE race. I was thinking "I don't want to do this" before I even set foot in the boat. And so was everyone else.

Flashback: I've been having a hard time keeping motivated lately. I go to training, I slog back and forth on the river for 90 minutes, i go home. Usually in a single scull, which I don't really give a toss about. No coaching. (Our coach keeps getting snatched to fill out the men's second 8, as their members have been dropping like flies lately.) No attention. It feels like if I stopped showing up no one would notice and no one would give a shit. It's very hard to keep going under those conditions. I talked with Big G (sage man who knows the score and whose advice I trust) about it, and he said it was mid-winter doldrums, and just keep on keepin' on. "It will get better," he promised. "You've come a long way this year already. Trust me." I trust him. So I keep on. (Don't you love how i did the flashback in sepia tones, just like in the movies? i'm clever like that.)

But shit I've had no motivation. This did not help my motivation yesterday morning.

Finally the moment came and we launched the boat, shivering in the wind in our mismatched kit. The wind was against the tide, so the water was "bouncy," as Coach sweetly put it. We queued, tapping it on by 2s and 4s up to the start. I gave a shout to the lasses in purple in gold from Manchester as they went past. "This sucks," i thought. "I don't want to be here."

And then something peculiar happened...

We raced.

It was strong.

It was light.

It was swift.

It was fucking GLORIOUS!

As our bow approached the Chiswick Bridge we took it on the legs for five, building up our speed. The cox called 10 for fast hands, and we spun the rating up. We crossed the start comfortably at 34 with an easy ratio. (Coach said later that he was watching us from the bridge, and when he saw us he thought to himself, 'They're rating way too low. They can't do this race at 24! For fuck's sake pick it up!') We did the first minute at 34 spm, called a stride, and settled well at 31 without losing power.

And then we waltzed the next 4 miles at 31. No one came near us. I was told the race breaks down like this:

"When you get to Hammersmith bridge, you've got about 1700 m left. That's where all the action happens. It's a sprint from Hammersmith to Putney. When you pass Hammersmith, you're in a regatta. The first half is a race to Hammersmith. Think of it this way: the sooner you get to Hammersmith, the sooner you can start the regatta. So get there as fast as you can, and then race."


We were the first crew in our division to set out. When we got to Hammersmith, we went through the last crew of the previous division. And then we flew for home.

My god!


We emptied the tanks. We brought the rate back up to 34, all on the legs. The boat lifted out of the water; it sang through the river. We flew! I can't describe the adrenaline, the glory, the pain, the joy, the ecstacy. I wish I could explain it to you. I wish I could help you to understand the feeling of every muscle in your body screaming in pain, your throat feels like you've swallowed hydrochloric acid, there are spots in your vision, and your heart is leaping for joy. If you had the water to spare you'd be weeping, but you need every drop of hydration you've got left to cross the line.

Christ I needed that.

It was the rowing I had been missing. Days like that are the reason I do this, they're the reason I get up at 6 am 4 days a week to train, the reason I do 15K ergos in the gym several times a week, the reason i cycle 22 miles round trip to the boathouse, the reason I don't go to the pub with my mates, party, or take time to do much of anything that isn't work or training. Days like that justify everything. They're the reason this is my religion, my soulfood.

I got my groove back. I found the joy I had lost. The results of the race don't even matter.

Friday, March 10, 2006

the obligatory details

They say a lady doesn't kiss and tell.

Well they ain't no ladies at this here blog.

There appear to be some misconceptions floating about the interwub regarding the other party involved in the romantic encounter that took place two nights hence. I don't have any stuffed-shirt moral objections to a one-night stand or a random shag; they're just not for me. No, Crazy Hairy and I have been seeing each other casually for a few weeks. I have mentioned him before but, as i just realized this morning, not by (nick)name. He's the fittie with the Kenny G hair I met through Ye Olde Dating Service a few weeks back. I really didn't think he was terribly keen on me, and when he didn't get in touch after our first date my suspicions were confirmed. Of course, i didn't realize at the time that my mobile phone was missing, and in fact he called me three times before he gave up, natually assuming that I wasn't interested. A week later I found my phone and saw the missed calls, and we went for dinner.

It's funny, I don't have any romantic feelings toward him, i'm not twitterpated or dizzy or any of those those things. I don't think there's any real chemistry between us, and I'm certainly not in love with him. But I do like him. He's pleasant, easy-going, and good for a giggle. He's got a great outlook on life (pretty much laughs at absolutely everything, every human foible, failing, and fuckup), and is very courteous and respectful.

In short, he's fun.

And I trust him. I wouldn't have invited him over to mine for dinner on Wed evening othewise. I didn't expect him to stay for dessert, but i definately didn't object.

We lounged around on my bed/sofa, listening to simon and Garfunkel, working our way through a second bottle of vin rouge. And what followed is, as they say, herstory.

I can honestly say that he was aflame with passion. I set him on fire. Literally. His hair got caught in the scented candle* i had burning by the bed. Whoops. My bad.

I was delighted to discover that he's a total snuggle slut. He didn't let go of me the entire night, and it was fantasticamazingmindblowing to wake up in the morning and feel the tickle of his chest hair against my back, his breath on my shoulder, and his rock-hard thighs entangled in mine.

Am i divulging too many X-rated details here? Sorry.

That's a lie. I'm not sorry at all. This is my page. If you don't like it you can fuck off.

So Spinny, here's a 'losing it' story to add to your collection:
Grad school, my place, older man; minor pain, major fun, and i set his hair on fire. Was listening to "Cecelia."

He texted me twice the following day to say what a good time he had. (i'm taking that as a sign that i wasn't total rubbish.) Will definately keep in touch with him (pun intended).

*Not for romantic or seduction purposes was this candle lit. It had the much more untilitarian function of covering the smell of my manky rowing kit, which hangs around my room on every available surface, and perpetually stinks of sweat, mildew, and the river Avon.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


What's missing from this sundae?

You're damn right it is.

"You have lovely smooth skin," he mumbled, chewing contentedly on my stomach.

Christ I needed that.

Monday, March 06, 2006


She's dead.

I can't really come to grips with that.

I didn't see her die, see them stick the needle in her heart to stop it beating. Dad was the one holding her when she finally deflated.

It should have been me. I was her person.

But I was here, far away. Too far to hear her cry, to mop up the vomit, to carry her to the vet.

Too far to bury the ashes in the back garden,
under a bush where she liked to sit and watch butterflies in the summer. Dad did that, too.

She liked to sit in the garden. She'd hide under a bush and stay there for hours, always seeking out someplace cool in the summer, somplace warm in the winter.

She liked to sit on the arms of chairs and the end of the sofa, under the reading lamp where the heat from the light bulb made her warm.

Or lay on wood floor in the front hall where the heating ducts ran right beneath the floor boards
and made them warm.

And of course in the sunbeam on the ottoman of the glider rocker. She would move across the floor with the sunbeam, tracking its progress through the day.

And under the Christmas tree. That was Nirvana. It was a bush... inside! And it had lights, which made it warm. Best of everything; the preferred habitat of the Christmas Cat. It even came with tissue paper to sit on - the lovely, pleasing crunch of the tissue!

No more Christmases for Noelle.

I hope she didn't suffer too much. Though I don't expect it's much fun to have all your internal organs throw in the towel simultaneously. They wanted to keep her alive until I came home. What's more cruel, to prolong the physical suffering?
Or to put her down without her person, letting her die with
the feeling that she's been abandoned, wondering where I am?

They decided they couldn't drag out her condition. It was probably best.

She died last week, but they didn't tell me until yesterday. She died right around the time that I fucked up the race last sunday (broke a pair of sculling blades, cost my team a medal), and also when i got that depressing email from Iain. Mom said I had enough to cope with. She didn't want to throw a dead cat on top of the pile.
Fair enough.
She was 18 years old. I got her when I was 9. I'm 27 now. Do the math: that's 2/3 of my life. 2/3 of my life! I barely remember the time before her. I don't remember sleeping in my bed without her curled up next to the pillow, or splayed across my feet. I don't remember her not being there to beg for tuna every time someone opened a can. I don't remember being able to open the front door without looking around first to make sure she's not in a position to sneak out. She's a part of home, part of what defines it and makes it home. Defined. Made. Past tense. What's home like now? Dunno. Don't really want to go home and find out, either. Now it's surreal - I can imagine it never happened. But when I go home the reality will be there, and the cat won't. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I hope I'm wrong. I hope she's somewhere where there is tuna on every plate, butterflies in every garden, and tissue paper in every gift. May the sun shine warm upon your carpet, may your litter be ever fresh, and may the mice be slow, the bats fly low, and the catnip grow. Goodbye, Fuzzbutt; sleep well.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


I hate Sundays. I never get any emails. People must do most of their web-surfing at work, because no one ever writes to me on Sundays. The weekend is a tremendous void of electronic satisfaction, a vacuum of digital happiness.

In lieu of reading emails, today I cycled from Bristol to Bath and back again.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I don't want to turn this into one of those "is my pet cute?" blogs. where every post "oh look how cute my fill-in-the-blank is! i want everyone to tell me over and over how adorable s/he is. guess what my insert-random-animal-here did today?!?" fucking gag me. or fuck and gag me. i'm down with that too. anyway, in this case, i couldn't resist. i mean for fuck's sake, he's spherical!

Oi, Sal! I'll see your Hippo Noodles, and raise you one Singing Guinea Pig. How d'ya like them apples?

Friday, March 03, 2006


(drumroll please...)

...Bluto S. Schumggleware!

Here he is, folks: my adorable little guy, the most dependable man in my life. Sure he's only 3 inches long and has a hairy back, but a girl can't have everything.

His favourite past times include running manically on his wheel all night long (which mercifully does not squeak); eating sunflower seeds; carrying wads of shredded loo roll around in his mouth; and looking at me imploringly with those big black buggy eyes.

We're also learning how to roll around on the floor in the Death Star (yes, I realize you will need photos of this), but at the moment we still don't quite have the hang of that one.

You're probably wondering by now why the name. I'll enlighten you.

Schmuggleware, besides sounding really cute (it's good when a pet's name is larger than the pet), is German for 'contraband.' I chose this because I'm not technically supposed to have a pet in this building. They're doing room inspections shortly, but it's ok because we've got a whole network of sympathetic pet lovers in different rooms on different floors ready to babysit Bluto for a few days while the Angel of Death, i mean, management passes by my lintel.

S. is the same S. as in Harry S. Truman. Not that I'm a big fan of Truman. I mostly stuck it in there because it regularizes the meter of the name. Bluto Schmuggleware scans / x / x x, whereas Bluto S. Schmuggleware scans / x x / x x. See? It's much more natural. Yes yes i'm a linguist. get over it.

So why Bluto? I'll tell yo this: IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH POPEYE.

It's after this guy:
Also named Bluto, he was round, furry, of few words, and the life of every party. He brought joy and laughter to those around him. I can't think of a better namesake for a hamster.

And if you have NO IDEA who this is, then for FUCK'S SAKE go rent the movie 'Animal House.' An American cult classic and the voice of a generation.

Rest in peace, St. Belushi: your legacy lives on in our hearts and in the bossom of a small grey rodent in Bristol, England.

The Dinner

I figured I was probably being a doormat for having him over, but hospitality is too important a virtue in my family and upbringing. I just couldn't bring myself to 'uninvite' him, even if i may have been justified in doing so.

He was 15 min late, but he sent me a text and told me he would be late and then showed up bang on 7:15, so he got points for courtesy. And he showed up carrying a bottle of Hoegaarden, my fav beer. Damn it, as if he wasn't fabulous already it turns out he's also a teriffic dinner guest with great manners. Shit shit shit. This is not helping the recovery process.

I admit it, we had a really nice evening. He lavished praise on the meal and complimented my cooking skills repeatedly (which was both appropriate and accurate, if I do say so myself). We talked, and he aplogized for the email (didn't retract it though). I told him I was glad he was honest, and that I think he's really neat person and would like to be friends, to which he agreed readily.

(I always assume when guys say they really like me and think I'm teriffic but don't want to date me that it's because they don't find me physically attractive. I figure that if they liked me as much as they claim AND found me attractive they would date me. Does this make sense to anyone else? Am I off the mark here? You blokes especially, I would really appreciate your feedback on this. Don't spare my feelings.)

And then I laid my trump card:
The fastest way to a man's heart is through his chest with a sharp knife through his stomach. I figured it wouldn't hurt to WOW him with my culinary expertise (and Case Western Reserve University conducted a study several years ago which revealed that the smell most likely to stimulate sexual arousal in males was cinnamon), so i whipped out the ol' apple pie.

So over our pie and ice cream and white wine we chatted and laughed. Christ he's got a lovely smile. Dimples too. Melt my fucking heart. And then we went to the Cara Dillon concert, which was great. Truth be told I enjoyed the warmup act more than Cara Dillon, who has a lovely voice but doesn't articlate for shit and I was only able to understand about 5% of what she was singing. Her ensemble was fucking amazing though. They guy who played the pipes and whistles had to have had some kind of damn musical superpowers. His beat, power, and passion were relentless, and I've never seen a human move his fingers so rapidly in all my life.

June Tabor is performing at St. George's next week. Iain and i are both interested in seeing her, so he's going to see if he's free from work, but it looks like we may be going out again next week. And he offered to cook this time.

Thus we find ourselves back in familiar territory. I fancy him, he want to be "just friends." Ok. I can do that. I've done that before. For a while I'll keep trying to pursuade him to change his mind, but eventually I'll give up on that and accept and cherish the friendship for what it is. It just doesn't make sense to me to say "Well if you don't want to shag me and buy me roses than you're not even worth speaking to." I can't bring myself to tell someone that because they're not interested in a romance that they are therefore a waste of my time. I feel that if someone is worth know, they're worth knowing. And I like him. I like talking with him, spending time with him.

A couple of my best friends on earth are guys that I used to really fancy. Today they're some of the most understanding, supportive, caring friends i know. I just can't consider that a defeat in any way. So if Iain (you notice, HC, that i'm throwing in that unnecessary fourth letter) wants to be friends, i call that a gift, not a failure.

(Even if i would really like to shag him.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Personal to No Shit Sherlock

I got your comment about Lord Peter in my email, but I couldn't find it on M.E., so i thought I'd reply to you here. (How the hell far back in my archives were you reading, anyway? Get a life, man!)

I'm a huge Lord Peter fan. I didn't know they were doing radio broadcasts of Sayer's work. Is it like a radio show with different actors/voices etc., or is it just a reading of the novels by a pro? Either would be faboo. What time are they on? And what's the call number for Radio 7? I can't wait to listen!!!

I never pictured Peter as a Hugh Grant type. Hugh is far too awkward. The only emotions he conveys well are embarassment and befuddlement, neither of which is in Peter's emotional repertiore. I always envisioned him as a young Peter O'Toole (of Lawrence of Arabia fame). Certainly the physical similarities are there: short, slight of frame, yellow hair, clear blue eyes, and that ludicrous air of absolute control, assurance, and self-confidence.


Oh, and remember how I mentioned a while ago that Iain was taking me to a concert this week, and i was having him for dinner before? I asked you what you thought of my menu plans? well, we're going ahead with the original plans. not sure why. it's all a bit awkward. he asked if i still wanted to go, i said i would leave it up to him, he said he'd still like to do it, and since i don't believe you can un-invite someone, i said sure. which may have been a bit stoopid. you will of course get the full story either late tonight or tomorrow, depending on how tired i am.

hamster name to be announced shortly, accompanied by photos.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Back on the horse

Alright, the obligatory 24-hour period of self-indulgent self-pitying and misery-wallowing is over.

I went back to the dating service site this morning. Made some slight adjustments to my profile. Searched through the database, which I havn't done in weeks. Picked out a few likely-looking chaps and bookmarked them. We'll see if any respond.

Meanwhile, back to the rowing.

There is no crying in rowing.

Nothing like a good hard pull on a cold sunny day to beat out the anger and lift the spirits. Take it out on the blade, take it out on the water. Make the river suffer your mighty mighty drive. Make the Avon cry out in pain. Set the water alight; set the water ablaze -- ablaze like the sun. Fire water, wet sun: drive back the boundaries, drive in the boat, drive with the legs.

And you wonder why i love this shit.

And thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments, compliments, and concern. I shall endeavor to deserve your affection. Much love to all.