wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
I think I would like to read a bit more non-fiction than I do currently, and I have a couple of things on my to-read list, but not a lot. Most of what I have read recently has been about psychology or economics, but I'm keen to broaden my horizons (as well as reading more interesting stuff in those genres).

What are your favourite non-fiction books? What do you like about them? Are there any that you found life-changing?

I would also like to read more plays (which, outside of readthroughs, I almost never do), so the same questions apply.
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
Does being aware of the existence of the bystander effect reduce its likelihood of occurring? How would you test this? It's hard to think of a test which wouldn't make it very obvious what was being tested and therefore mess with the results.

(Brought to you by reading the bit in Thinking Fast and Slow where people continue to underestimate the likelihood of bystander effects even after being told about them, and especially when predicting their own behaviour, and then thinking "but of course it'd be different for me, because I know that bystander effect is a thing, so would consciously make an effort to avoid it", and then wondering whether there's any validity in that at all.)


Oct. 12th, 2015 10:40 am
wildeabandon: me kissing my beloved boy (pretty boys kissing)
As most of you have probably seen on Facebook, [livejournal.com profile] obandsoller and I got engaged over the weekend. I am, predictably, a huge sappy pile of mush jumping over the moon.

We've had an understanding for quite a while that we'd probably get married eventually, but a few weeks ago I asked Ramesh how he felt about us getting engaged now, even though church stuff meant that we probably wouldn't actually get married for quite a long time. He said he wanted to think about it, and then on Saturday night he said that he'd thought about it and "Yes." I'm very very happy.

We're intending quite a long engagement. We're probably going to be buying a house in a few months, so we won't even be thinking about planning until that's done and the dust has settled. And then there's still the church stuff to figure out - I'm both the one who really wants the church wedding, and the one who is more invested in marriage generally, so I suspect it largely comes down to whether the point at which the impatience for the latter outweighs the former happens before or after the CoE drags itself kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but that is a worry for another day.

Right now, I'm just going to glow in the knowledge that this wonderful, beautiful, kind, fascinating man is daft enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me.
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
All the evidence I have ever seen is in favour of legalising or decriminalising sex work, this has been the view of every sex worker I've ever known.

I'm a liberal, so I need to be very confident that an action restricting freedom will reduce harm to others before I can endorse it.

One of my most beloved friends is facing having her livelihood destroyed because of the censorious attitudes of our current government about the sort of videos that consenting adults can make.

And yet....

All the sex workers I know, and all of the ones I read in the not-mainstream-but-popular-with-our-kind-of-people press are pretty privileged; they might not be entirely wealthy, but they're not impoverished. They might struggle with misogyny, queer acceptance, transphobia and transmisogyny, but most of them don't actually struggle with how they're going to feed their kids tomorrow.

And there are people like Fiona Broadfoot, Bridget Perrier, Rachel Moran, who for those reasons or others feel like they were co-erced into sex work and are not happy about it, and feel that the Amnesty position is ignoring or silencing them.

And it would be easy, so easy, for me to construct a narrative where queer people of colour weren't systematically ignored, because the one I spend the most time with rarely brings it up, and it wouldn't be that hard to stop hanging out with the rest. And it would be so so easy to just not worry about whether I was paying enough attention to the voices of PoC, but I try not to do that because I'm not a complete cunt.

I am pro sex worker rights. But I am worried, that the decisions about what is in the interest of sex worker rights is all about the people who have a university education or a bunch of funding from Patreon, or a popular blog which results in offers to write for the Guardian or the New Statesman, or one way or another already have a voice, and is ignoring the Fiona, Bridget, and Rachels of the future. I would like to see some evidence from the SWU, and other pro-decrim organisations that they have sought out and listened to the voices of women who are in sex work through desperation, or trafficking.

Edit: I should probably have read it before posting, but actually, Amnesty's draft proposal provides this evidence quite clearly on pages 12-15. I am now convinced.
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)

There’s been a fair bit of coverage on my social media of the recent interview with Tim Farron after he was elected leader of the Lib Dems, where he repeatedly deflected the question of whether gay sex was sinful. My initial reaction was bemusement, as I wondered why people care what someone else believes about their ability to relate to a God that they don’t believe in. With a bit more reflection and some comments from others I realised that there’s a lot more cultural weight to the idea of sin than that, and I also got the feeling that the acknowledgement that we are all sinners is seen as facetious and insincere, which is far from my experience when I have thought the phrase myself, or heard it from other Christians I know.

There was an article I read recently, I’m afraid I can’t remember where, in which a Christian who does believe that homosexual acts are sinful talks about why he is more vocal in his opposition to that particular sin, compared to lying and violence and selfishness and so on. And his point was that whilst these other sins are certainly committed, and probably tacitly condoned, no-one is actually arguing that they aren’t sinful, or that one shouldn’t try not to commit them, just that it’s difficult, whereas with homosexuality, the dominant narrative has become that it isn’t sinful at all. And I think that that is actually a good answer to the question of why some Christians are concerning themselves with speaking out about homosexuality when there are far worse sins in the world.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I do, rather strongly, disagree with the belief that homosexual sex is sinful. I have definitely had sinful sex, which made me less kind and less loving, and probably more of it has been with men than with women, but then I’ve had quite a lot more sex with men than with women so that’s hardly surprising. But on balance, most of my relationships, whether of one night or several years in length, have been good and loving and positive experiences, and have turned me into a kinder, better, more loving person, and that is particularly and overwhelmingly true of my relationship with Ramesh.

But when one believes that something which is commonly viewed as acceptable is sinful then there is a bit of a dilemma. You can lie, which is of course, sinful in itself, particularly in the case where it condemns other people to sin. Or you can speak out, and suffer the social consequences. There are two big things which are commonly accepted and which I believe are sinful, at least in part because of my faith, and which I mostly avoid talking about, because I don’t want to look judgemental...

The first of these is not giving to charity. I don’t have precise or set numbers on this, and it’s definitely an area in which I fall short myself, but I do believe that if you can afford to, but are not giving away enough of your disposable income that you notice yourself able to have less fun because of it, then you have some culpability for the harms that could be averted by that giving.

The second of these is divorce, or more accurately, choosing to divorce someone who isn’t abusive. I’m not 100% on this, and I do believe that sometimes things and people change enough in ways that you couldn’t have predicted that it’s the right choice for everyone involved, but I feel that it happens a bit too easily, and perhaps more importantly, that marriage happens a lot too easily because everyone knows that it’s an option if it doesn’t work out, and what I really feel is sinful is making a vow that you only intend to keep if it’s convenient, or deciding to break it merely because it’s not, rather than because it’s become completely untenable to do so. I do find it very telling when Christians are far more vocal in their opposition to gay sex, which has a couple of brief Old Testament mentions and one in Paul's letters, that to divorce, which our Lord speaks about repeatedly in the gospels, and is a significantly more common phenomenon.

Now, with those beliefs, I don’t think that my friends who have chosen divorce after a foolish young match, or who don’t chose to give to charity are worse people than me. Perhaps that’s what I mean by “we are all sinners”. There’s so much that I need to do better that I can’t begin to compare, and perhaps it is easier for me not to sin in those ways because I’ve let myself have too much liberty in others. (and indeed, if my ex-husband hadn't left me when he did, seeing the man he's become since I would be sorely tempted) And I don’t think that my morality should be legally imposed on others (well, maybe I think that the % of the UK budget going to foreign aid should be increased, but not by nearly as much as I think we should all be giving).

But perhaps after reading this you think that I’m a terribly judgemental bigot, and if you do, that’s your prerogative. But if you don’t think that, but you do think that Tim is a bigot for refusing to say that homosexual sex isn’t sinful, then you might want to think long and hard about why.

wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
So in the wake of the Rachel Dolezal kerfuffle, there has been a certain amount of talk about "well, if we accept that transgender people are the gender/sex they say they are, why don't we accept that people can be 'transracial' or 'transethnic'"?  And although my gut feel is that they are very different phenomena, when I started writing this post, I had no way of articulating why.  I think I now have a better sense of that, but would welcome other viewpoints.

I'm exploring half-formed thoughts here, and apologise in advance if any of it is offensive, but will of course do my best not to be.

In some ways it would be easy to just say, well gender and race are different, so analogising between the two is never useful, but I think that's an over-simplification. They are different, but they are also both ways in which our society gets divided up, they are both complicated mixtures of physical, biological and social aspects, and they are both axes of oppression. 

I think that perhaps part of the difference is that sex is roughly diamorphic, and you can fairly easily divide humans into "people who can get pregnant", "people who can impregnate", and the group of "fuzzy edge cases who are neither or very rarely both" is small enough that it just gets brushed aside, or split between the main groups depending on obvious physical characteristics, and on a first reading, the people who impregnate (or who look like them) end up with structural power over the people who can get pregnant (or who look like them).

Whereas race is much fuzzier - there are lots of them, and although white people of West European descent tend to sit at the top, there's a whole network of structural power imbalances, and there have always been mixed-race people and varying degrees of passing, and races which are viewed as white in some times and cultures but not others, and the questions of to what extent white-passing mixed-race people, or people from a culture/ethnicity which was once viewed as non-white but now isn't have a right to claim non-white identities have been ongoing for years. 

Jumping a bit here...  There are lot of different trans narratives.  Some trans people knew they'd been assigned the wrong sex when they were toddlers; some always knew something was wrong but couldn't put a finger on it until they encountered other trans people and it all clicked, some never even realised anything was wrong for years, but then life seemed much easier after transitioning, and some people have fluid gender identies which change over time, either gradually over the years, or constantly and frequently. There are trans people who have excruiating dysphoria over a body which is the wrong shape, and there are those who only have dysphoria because of the assumptions people make about their gender because of their body, and there are those who have no dysphoria at all.  And we* accept those narratives as all being valid without asking any of the people who espouse them to articulate to us what exactly it is that gender means to them and why they can't just live as a feminine man or a masculine woman. 

We've established that the traditional view of sex is pretty diamorphic, and that gender identities and performances are very tied up in that binary - people distinguish between male and female(bodies) and masculine and feminine(psychologies), and butch and femme(presentations), but even in doing so they nod to the assumption that male/masculine/butch and female/feminine/femme go together.  So it makes sense that people who don't fit that assumption deal with it in different ways, and that those ways are affected by the way society treats people based on how it genders their bodies, psychologies and presentations. 

I think I might be getting closer here to why race doesn't work like that.  My feeling is that racial identity is mostly a combination of culture and the way society treats you; it is, if you like, intrinsicly more extrinsic than gender.  That whilst there are raging stereotypes about what people of different races are like, even most people who hold them conciously would attribute a lot more of them to upbringing and culture than to a direct effect of genetics.

In fact, yes, I think I have convinced myself.  I think that the way gender ties into what is a mostly dimorphic sex categorisation meanst that being transgender makes sense even when you strip away the patriarchy, whereas race is fluid and mutable enough that when you get rid of white supremacy it pretty much just disappears, and so tranracialism stops making any sense at all.

*using the royal we here a bit, but certainly most of the people I know who are of a liberal a pro-social justice inclination
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
Whenever I google for "male femme" or "male femininity", what I get is resources for trans women, or if I dig a bit deeper in one direction, for male transvestites, or in the other direction for maab genderqueers.  And it's great that all those resources exist, but they're not for me.

And I think, can I really be the only person who is male-identifed, with no female or genderqueer side at all, but who has femme as an important part of his identity?  I mean, on some level, obviously not, because my nails and cocktails parties, which are about as femme as an event gets,  have been consistently more than 40% male and less than 40% female.  But life is complicated.  Waah
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)

This time I shall remember to give advance warning to those of you who aren't on the book of face (or if you are on the book of face and haven't been invited then prod me, I'm sure it was just an oversight due to rubbish interface).  The next Nails and Cocktails afternoon will be on the 5th September.  Delicious cocktails, fabulous nail art, and splendid company; what's not to like!  Put it in your diaries now, and I'll post a reminder closer to the time.



Apr. 13th, 2015 01:12 am
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
I spent this weekend on pilgrimage to Walsingham, location of one of the most significant Anglo-Catholic shrines in England. It was an extraordinary weekend, and I feel gloriously refreshed in spirit.

I was deeply honoured to be asked to serve as thurifer for the pilgrimage mass on Saturday, and whilst slightly nerve-wracking, as serving somewhere new always is, it was also deeply moving, and I think I managed not to get anything wrong. It will live long in my memories.

Later that evening was the procession of Our Lady of Walsingham around the grounds of the shrine, which was exquisitely beautiful - scores of pilgrims bearing candles and singing a hymn telling the history of the shrine. One lovely thing is that the sound of the organ is transmitted to speakers all around the shrine, so the frequent difficulty with processions where all the singers get out of time with one another is overcome.

Following the procession was a service of healing ministries, where I partook of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time since just before my confirmation, more than eleven years ago. For years I've been wanting to avail myself of it again, but somehow the longer it's been since the last one, the harder it gets, and so whenever it came up I found an excuse, or just didn't get around to it. And now I feel like such a fool for that failure. Afterwards I walked around the shrine grounds, feeling as though any moment a breeze could sweep me away, such a heavy burden had been lifted. I am determined, now, to make it a regular habit.

I picked up a couple of books whilst I was there. First was The Lion's World - an edited transcription of a series of sermons by Great-grandfather Rowan on the Narnia books, which flawed as they are, were an important part of my spiritual development. I read that over the course of the weekend, and it moved me deeply, and now I'm re-reading the series keeping his insights in mind. The second, which I have only scratched the surface of so far, was recommended by Bishop Lindsay, the Shrine Administrator - The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, by Fr James Martin, SJ. For most of my life as an adult Christian I've felt a certain pull towards the Jesuits and the Ignation approach to spirituality, and based on the first couple of chapters I am very much looking forward to reading the rest and incorporating it into my life.


Mar. 30th, 2015 11:01 am
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
I shall be in Cambridge from Maundy Thursday until Easter Monday, and in the Hopbine from around 15.00 this Saturday if anyone would like to join me there and catch up. The rest of the weekend is fairly full with church stuff and Easter Feasting, but I still have a few spare moments here and there if anyone wants to catch up one-on-one.
wildeabandon: sushi (sushi)
Rodizio Rico
I went here recently with [personal profile] denny, who like me is a fan of food made mostly of big piles of meat. Rodizo Rico is designed for people like us - a brazilian barbeque restaurant where you are given a token which is red on one side and green on the other, and whilst you have the green side turned upwards they will keep on bringing you various kinds of meat on skewers until you explode (or turn the token over, at which point they stop). There are also salads and sides which you can help yourself to, and I was actually a little bit shocked by the amount of vegetables [personal profile] denny ate completely voluntarily - he's grown as a person, I tell you.

In general the food was really rather good. None of the meats really blew my socks off, but a couple of the steaks and one of the lamb cuts would have left me feeling pretty proud if I'd produced them. The service could have been better - obviously the main part was taken care of by the people bringing the meat, but it took rather more effort than would be ideal to get a glass of wine, which is odd, considering that that's where the margins tend to be. This would be a great place to go in a large group, if you happened to have a large group with no vegetarians in it.

(~£80 for two)

Clos Maggiore
I went here for a late post-theatre dinner, but completely failed to ask for the post theatre menu, which is one of my finer failures in life. The pre-dinner drinks were pretty decent - I had one of their signature cocktails, which was pleasant and aromatic, but perhaps a little sweet for my tastes, and my tastes run sweet. My companion went for the Vesper, which from the sip I tried was very well executed.

For starters I had the fois gras, which was definitely in the top three I've had outside of France; my companion had the rabbit, which is a meat that I'm not usually that keen on, but was done to perfection.

Our main course was the shared Wagyu beef for two. Go home Hawksmoor. You're no longer the best steak in London. Perhaps that isn't fair, it's a completely different kind of steak, and I will definitely still be going to Hawksmoor when I fancy a perfectly cooked Porterhouse. But this, this had the marshmallow texture of the best fillet steak, and the ooomphy fatty richness of the best ribeye, all in one mouthful.

I'm slightly astonished we had room left for pudding, but then they had black truffle ice-cream. And oh my god the ice-cream was good. As is often the way with high end places the whole plate was about four different puddings, and actually all of them were nice, but the ice-cream was by so far the best that I would have preferred just a big bowl of it. As it turned out though, my companion was less keen on the ice-cream and really liked the other bits, so we swapped a bit and it all worked out like magic.

And let's face it, the fact that the gentleman who had wrong taste in puddings has excellent taste in men, gave the whole evening an extra delightful gloss of the kissing hot boys variety. #winningatlife

(~£230 for two)


This is a newish restaurant within walking distance of our flat, and we've been a bit lax about spending quality time together as a household lately, so we thought we'd try it out. We were also a bit lax about booking a table, but when I called in the early evening they had one table left at 9.30 tonight.

It is important to note that the butter was very soft - hard butter is always a terrible sign; and I think in this case at least, the lack of it was indicative. My starter was a slighty ridiculous parody of "Posh fish and chips" - chicken and duck liver nuggets, with a ponzu dip. It was kind of absurd, and I think I have had better pates, but it was still pretty gosh darn good, and the concept was tremendous fun. Jones had the potted rabbit and ham hock terrine, and the mouthful I tasted was lovely. Ramesh had the purple broccoli with soft boiled egg, and although I foolishly forgot to grab a taste, it looked like he was enjoying it.

For mains, Robert and I had steak, which was very good, but there's no way to describe it fairly after the wagyu one. The chips were excellent, and although RJ complained that there weren't enough for people who like lots of carbs, I think that the fact that I like a super-tiny amount of carbs and gave him the rest of mine meant it worked out in the end. Ramesh had an asparagus risotto which seemed pretty good by the standards of restaurant risottos, without being mind-blowing, so not somewhere I'd recommend to a vegetarian looking for a special night out, but defintely an okay place to go.
(~135 for 3)
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
Dear Dreamjournal,

This is slightly short notice, but on Saturday I'm hosting another Nails and Cocktails party. (This is an event where people show up early-mid afternoon, I demonstrate some nail art techniques, and then we pair up and paint each other's nails, and there is drinking of delicious cocktails throughout.)

If you'd like to come and know where I live feel free to just show up, although letting me know in the comments means I'll do better at catering for the right number of people. If you'd like to come and don't know where I live, comment with some way of contacting you. Friends of friends are very welcome, so don't be shy, but it's a public post so I'm not posting my address right here.

wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
It's kind of hard to believe that it's been a whole decade since [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist said "Let's read through all of Shakespeare's Histories in a weekend", and found a score of people brave or foolish enough to join her. It's been a heck of a ride, and it's shaped my life in ways I can't really begin to fathom.

Without Bardcamp I don't know if I would ever have rediscovered that singing is a joy even if I'm not very good at it. Without Bardcamp many of the friendships which bring so much happiness and comfort into my life might never have blossomed. Without this glorious and supportive group of people I would never have realised that I can in fact act passably well, and that it's one of the most fun things one can do with one's clothes on. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to grow up alongside these amazing people, watching us all stumble through youthful mistakes and learn and grow and well, make new and different mistakes as we get older, and I think, wiser.

This was probably the last Bardcamp, at least for a while. There will be other readthroughs, and they will be amazing in their own way, but I think that a little bit of my heart will always be there, in that converted chapel in Derbyshire, in Verona, in Messina, in Scotland and France, in Troy and Venice, in Rome and Alexandria. Thank you, all of you.
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
Was 2014 a good year for you?
It really was. There were no more than minor difficulties, and I felt a lot of things which had been difficult previously starting to settle into place.
What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Learned to do interesting nail art, sang solo in public (only a few lines, in Church, because the organist and the usual cantor were both away, so I figured someone had to do it, and that might was well be me, but considering how much the thought used to terrify me, it felt like a big thing)
Read more... )
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
Okay, I'm a bit rubbish, but this is the last of the questions except for the 2nd ones from people who asked two.

[personal profile] nou asked "What's your approach to making and maintaining friendships? For example, do you have a systematic way of keeping track of people you haven't seen or talked to for a while? Do you tend to send chatty emails to keep in touch with people? Do you seek out new acquaintances with a view to friendship, or do you feel your social circle is too big to comfortably expand?"

So the simple answer to this is no, no, no, and yes. Part of it is that I live with my partner and one of my best friends, so to a great extent, I can get nearly all the social contact I need at home. Part of it is that I'm not very good at making time for online communication and I'm really really bad at replying to chatty emails, even though I love reading them.

One systematic thing that I do is have a monthly dinner date with [livejournal.com profile] borusa, which we started doing when we broke up in order to ensure that our "let's still be friends" actually meant something, and we've been doing now for, what is it, eight, nine years? I can't easily express how important these dinners are to me, but they've been an vital part of keeping me sane when times have been hard, and are a source of tremendous pleasure, both from the company and our shared love of excellent food, when times are good.

That said, there are plenty of other people who are very dear to me whom I don't see often enough, and every time we see each other, three, six, twelve months apart, we say "let's not let it be so long next time", and yet it always is. Given this, whilst meeting new people and getting to know them is fun, when I don't have enough time to keep up with the friends I already have and love, it seems somewhat self defeating. Of course I make the odd exception, Seph in Oxford, who made me welcome at my first night out at Intrusion, and Lindsay from church, who reminded me so much of [personal profile] kerrypolka that I couldn't help but be drawn to her, but they are few and far between, and I don't really see that changing.
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)

[personal profile] yoyoangel asked "Could you tell us something about where you're at with religion, these days, in terms of practice and/or beliefs?"

So this is actually quite difficult, because I'm a practicing catholic in the Church of England, and I don't really believe in God. Which is to say, that although I have a gut feeling that something Godlike probably exists, if I think about it hard and look at the evidence, it seems much more likely that we've evolved to have that gut feeling for various reasons that have nothing to do with it actually being true, and that in fact, it probably isn't.

However, (1) knowing that doesn't make the feeling go away, and (2) the last decade or so has demonstrated very clearly to me that participating in regular worship and being part of a church community makes me much happier and mentally healthier and kinder than when I'm not. So I just don't think too hard about it.

I'm a Christian specifically partly because it's what I grew up with, but mostly because the Easter Story, the sacrifice of everything, and the love of all humanity no matter how flawed we are is something that is beautiful and magical whether it is true or not. I'm catholic specifically because it's the liturgy I grew up with, and all the emotional responses I have to the Easter Story are hotkeyed to that liturgy. I'm anglo-catholic because "we believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church" and that church is Little St Mary's in Cambridge. More seriously though - LSM was a wonderful place for me, and where I first realised how much happier I was being part of a church community, but also, until recently the Roman church has been rather hostile to us queers, and although that can certainly be found in the CoE* it's also much easier to find catholic communities who are actively welcoming.

I worship at St John the Evangelist, Brownswood Park, which is actually my parish church. When we last moved I was expecting to go to another church nearby which I used to attend last time we lived near Finsbury Park, but it's about half an hour away, so I figured I'd try the parish church first, and it turned out to be just my sort of place liturgically, as well as being closer, having an extremely charming** priest, and not being Backwards in Bigotry***.

I'm on the serving team, which means that most of the time when I'm attending Mass I'm in the sacristy party - either thurifer (that's swinging the smoking handbag with incense in), or crucifer (carrying the cross during the procession in and out, and helping the priest prepare the bread and wine which will become the body and blood of Christ). This actually helps a lot with the not-actually-believing stuff, because it means that I'm concentrating sufficently hard on what happens next in the liturgy that I don't get bogged down in too much "but what if this is all meaningless".

*I remain utterly devastated that I still can't get married - please tread with extreme care if you want to discuss this
**although younger than me, which I find a bit terrifying
***Forward in Faith, the organisation opposed to the ordination of women, which is made up of an uneasy alliance of evangelical biblical literalists who think that women should be silent because that's what Paul said (and also that homosexualists should burn in hell), and high church Anglo-Catholics who are mostly older gay men who think that women have cooties and should be kept away from their playhouse.
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] bunnypip asked for "a post about the hows and whys and wherefores of having fabulous nails", and since I've just had my nails & cocktails party this weekend, now seems a good time for it.

I used to wear nail polish quite a lot whilst I was living in Cambridge and going to goth clubs regularly, but then fell out of the habit until my recent stint in Oxford, where there was once again a club I could go to and be able to get home without wrestling with night buses. At first is was just a single basic colour - usually dark jewel colours or metallics. Then one time when I was buying nail polishes I noticed some nail stickers that were quite cool, and a little while after that I tried looking for some specific stickers online, realised just how many interesting nail art supplies and gadgets there were to be had, and kind of fell down the rabbit hole.

One of the things I really like about it is that although I'm not at all artistic, and generally can't do the complex hand-painted designs especially well, there's loads and loads of other techniques and designs that don't require much skill once I've had a bit of practice, but are interesting enough that strangers compliment them fairly frequently. I did different things for each nail at the party - initially because I was demonstrating techniques, and then after that because it would be silly to have one hand all different, and one hand all the same.

pictures and notes below the cut )

I really enjoy the process of doing my nails, especially when a new technique really comes together well, and what's more, I get a little burst of joy every time I look at them for days. It may be horribly vain, but it still makes me happy.
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] emperor asked "Where do you see yourself professionally in 5ish years?" and [personal profile] highlyeccentric asked "What is your professional field?", which is related enough that I'll answer them together.

What I mostly do is a mixture of data wrangling and project management, which I've done in a variety of sectors - initially in telecommunications, then at a hedge fund, and for the last few years in higher education. For a little over a year I've been doing it on a self-employed consultancy basis, first at Oxford University, and now at Kingston. I find that this suits me quite well, as I tend to get bored fairly easily, and usually find that my interest in a job starts to dwindle around 6-12 months in no matter how interesting the content actually is. Working as a consultant means that I can effectively change jobs that frequently without looking like a flake who can't stick to anything.

So that's where I am now. I got both of the current contracts through an agency, and I'll probably rely on them to find me a few more whilst I build up contacts and fill out a few last gaps in my CV. I'm aiming to gradually shift the focus of the work I do from being mostly data with a bit of management to mostly management with a bit of data, and I've actually just had a heads up about a possible new contract after the Kingston one ends which would be a bit of a move in that direction. I'm almost certain to stay within the HE sector for the next few years, as by now I've picked up quite a lot of sector-specific expertise, but once I've had a couple of senior management roles in HE then I'll probably try to broaden my horizons a bit. I think that once I've got a really solid set of transferable skills under my belt it'll be easier to, well, transfer them, and what I really want to do is have access to enough work in London to keep me here most of the time.

I think that five years from now I'll probably be around the point of "just about have enough senior experience to start looking at other sectors". Where I'll be ten years from now is a bit more uncertain. I might just keep doing interim management contracts on a mostly full time basis and hopefully be able to retire quite early, or I might deliberately take gaps as long as I can afford and enjoy rather more leisure time. If I end up getting more interest than I can supply I might even start to employ other people and end up running a small management consultancy, but time will very much tell on that. It's hard to know what my priorities will be by then.


Dec. 7th, 2014 06:22 pm
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
Okay, the plan was a prompted post at least once every three days in December, so if the first was today I'd better pick up the pace if I'm going to manage on average. I've still got a few slots for prompts left though, if anyone wants to add something?

Current requests:
Liv: Confidence
emperor: Where do you see yourself professionally in 5ish years
nou: making and maintaining friendships
yoyoangel: Religious practice and beliefs
bunnypip: fabulous nails

Cheeky 2nd requests which I'll do if I have time:
emperor: Highlights of 2014
bunnypip: Advent

  • Thanks for all the advice on running shoes - I got some new ones yesterday, and they definitely help. I remain uneaten by zombies. Hoorah.

  • I'm hosting a Nails & Cocktails party next weekend - I invited people on the book of face, but if you're not on there and are interested let me know and I'll give you the details (basically, we drink delicious cocktails and paint each others' nails - what's not to love?)

  • I'm going through a phase of missing Cambridge in general and LSM in particular. I visited last weekend and it was absolutely wonderful but now I'm a bit sad that I don't live there any more (although London and St John's are wonderful too!)

  • Work is ridiculously busy at the moment, but it should calm down by next week, which I am looking forward to, and the Christmas break a couple of weeks later even more.

  • Ramesh & I are going to stay in a little cottage in Devon for a few days. This will be the first time we've been away together just the two of us since we went to Prague on our 3rd date (nearly six years ago, for those of you who've not been counting)
    wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
    [personal profile] liv asked:
    "Confidence. You always seem to be really confident, you have a job that requires you to convince clients you're really good at what you do, and you have such a great sense of style, and you throw yourself into acting and readthroughs with gusto. Do you actually feel really confident about putting yourself out there like that, or are you more faking it? In either case, how do you do it?"

    So my first reaction on reading this was to think "Well, I am really good at my job, and I'm pretty good at acting these days, so it's quite easy to be confident about them". And then I realised what I'd just thought and laughed at myself a bit, but I think it fairly clearly answers the first part of the question, that I do actually feel really confident at least about some things. So how do I do it? Well, it's not really something I do conciously at all, but I can say something about how it came about...

    When I was younger I had very little confidence, especially after my depression started kicking in at around eleven or twelve. I spent my early teens holing myself up in my room, earnestly believing that my only good quality was my academic ability. About the time I moved from school to sixth-form college I started to find friends who actually appeared to like me, and that did start to break into the well of self-loathing that I'd built up, but unfortunately by that time it was deep and dark enough that it wasn't going to disappear easily. I did what I think maybe a lot of people who are just stepping out of that pit do and swung far too far in the opposite direction, pulling on armour of apparent arrogance which wasn't really very nice, although at the time it probably was better than the alternatives.

    This continued through my late teens and early 20s, too-ing and fro-ing as I lost and gained ground in my battle with the underlying depression. And then 2003 happened. 2003 was the year that everything in my life went to hell in a handbasket - one of my primary partners got sent to prison, I came within a hair's breath of failing my degree, my mother had a stroke, [personal profile] denny had his bike accident, and I was sharing a house with a couple who'd just broken up and caught in the middle of all that drama. It was... it was not a good year. And yet I survived. I even managed to come off anti-depressants that year. And as the New Year came around I realised that if I could survive that, there were very few things the world could throw at me that could break me. And ever since then I've had a very strong sense that ultimately everything will be okay.

    And I think that that deep down sense is what makes it possible for me to be genuinely confident about most things. It's not necessarily that I think I'm awesome at everything, but because I trust that everything will be alright, it's very easy to try, and to take the evidence of how well I do at face value. There are things that I'm not confident about - socialising in large groups, meeting new people, especially meeting new people I might want to date - but I think that's mostly because I haven't done them much lately, and it would probably come back if I threw myself into it.

    Sadly this isn't terribly useful for someone else wanting to improve their confidence. On the whole, suffer from crippling depression for about a decade, then just as you're recovering have the universe throw as much appalling crap at you as it possibly can, isn't a strategy I'd recommend. But it worked for me.
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