take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, November 28, 2005

For symptomatic relief of Running Anxiety... 

... we recommend the following.

As long term readers of [old blog] are probably aware, I struggle with my running, both physically - not being in possession of the necessary wiry build - and psychologically - because, like most things I attempt in life, I've only ever achieved mediocrity compared to others. This was fine in my early running days, because I ran alone and thus did not have "others" around. What I achieved through running was a marked increase in fitness and a boost to my confidence by taking control of my body and whipping it into some semblance of shape, where "shape" = less round than before, though still, alas, rather more round than I'd like. The motivation to carry on is mainly provided by the constant fear of returning to my even-more-rubenesque silhouette if I were to stop. God help me if I injure myself to the extent that I *can't* run any more...

About a year ago, I joined a running club, where I was surrounded by "others". On the plus side, some of these "others" were in the same position as me - they could run a few miles but wanted to increase their mileage and set themselves a challenge. In 3 months, we went from being able to run just under 4 miles to being able to run just over 13 miles - that's a half marathon to those not versed in such things. I doubt that I would have achieved this on my own.

On the negative side, however, there were those summer evenings when there weren't enough runners to split into speed-graded groups, meaning that the faster runners would, literally, run rings around the slower ones (which, of course, included me). Being a sensitive (some might say over-sensitive) soul, I would arrive home in tears and reflect upon my many and varied shortcomings with the long-suffering Big. These not being solely in the running arena...

The club has started again now in earnest, in preparation for a local Half Marathon in April. I was in two minds about whether to go along or not, given my bittersweet experiences over the summer. My running pal was intending to go, but in a slightly different capacity: as a "running counsellor". These are the people who keep the group together, both physically and psychologically: encouraging those who are struggling, sharing the highs and lows of running and ensuring that the group stay together throughout the run. I've long considered doing this, but had always dismissed it due to my usual lack of self-belief. However, armed with the knowledge that my running pal *was* doing it, I took the plunge and we have been "counselling" the beginners' group for the past couple of weeks.

All of this has brought a little smile to my face.
Just a little one, mind, you wouldn't want me to get over excited!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What the...? 


Friday, November 25, 2005

Come into my "office"... 





Working from home today, I think.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The times they aren't a-changin' 

I was trying to do one of the many aspects of my job: demonstrating a new piece of software to a roomful of factory operatives who would be using it on a daily basis.

What I hadn't realised was that the aforementioned factory operatives had clearly never seen a woman before. That was the only conclusion I could draw from their reaction.

As I walked into the room of chattering voices, I was met with a stunned silence.

As I leaned over the desk, setting up the laptop, I heard what can only be described as a mooing sound from the side. Then, mutterings from behind me towards the moo-er: "You're lucky you're not sitting where I am, you wouldn't be able to control yourself..."

Funnily enough, this behaviour had not materialised when, a couple of weeks previously, my male colleague had given the same demonstration.

No, I wasn't naked. No, I didn't descend into the room through the ceiling. No, I didn't cartwheel my way in dressed in a bright orange leotard (the leotard was being dry-cleaned at the time). And no, I did not burst out of an oversized birthday cake strategically placed in the middle of the room. Had I been doing any of these extraordinary things, I would have expected such flabbering of gasts as was evident from this sorry affair.

But no. I was just a woman, trying to do my job. Evidently, this proved too much for this particular band of neanderthals.

If anyone can tell me why we still have to put up with this nonsense, I'd be grateful.

Yes, I *am* aware that I'm supposed to have stopped blogging...

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I've got some serious reading to do.

See you soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wool over eyes 

I can't imagine being somebody like that.

I try to get the situation into perspective, but I feel such a fool.

I won't elaborate on the details. Mainly because I feel ashamed to have fallen into the trap. I know the more sensible readers among you would say "You should have ....", "I can't believe you...", "I would *never* have..." . I know all that. I am a naïve, stupid little girl who sometimes (unsuccessfully) masquerades as a grown woman.

The keenest human sense, without a doubt, is hindsight. It's so easy to see now what we should have done then. Phrases which then seemed empty and throwaway can now be re-read with their true meaning attached.

We've been stitched up.

Trying not to beat myself up about, putting it down to experience and moving on is proving difficult. But it's what I know I must do.

Yes, I know. I haven't stopped, yet. I will.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"Ugh! A greasy knob!"... 

...is not a phrase you expect to hear at work.

It was my fault.

You see, my salad dressing had gone thick and gloopy - I couldn't pour it. I don't know about you, but one of the things I look for in a salad dressing is pourability. So I shook the bottle a bit, peered into it and poked around with a knife. None of these actions had the desired effect, but they did result in my getting a fair amount of the oily concoction on my hands, the knife, the lid of the bottle and the bottle itself. Whilst attempting to wash up all the items involved in this débacle, I inadvertently transferred some to the tap. Hence, the greasy (tap) knob.

Well, it's probably an improvement on a greasy floor which a previous bottle of my salad dressing had caused only few weeks before. It was "resting" on the middle shelf in the fridge door with only a low barrier to keep it in place. A particularly violent swing of the fridge door by one of my colleagues had dislodged it, and its contents, onto the floor. Of course, this all happened while I was out "gallivanting" at lunchtime. I'm not a betting girl, but knowing me, I think there's a fair chance I was in Woolworth's buying white candy mice at the time. I returned nonchalantly to the office to be greeted by my colleague's thunderous glare and an overpowering smell of vinegar.

Coming soon on Status Anxiety:

Not much, if I have anything to do with it. I'm seriously considering putting this ol' blog aside for a while. I've got an exam coming up and I need to spend time reading and preparing. Unless I start blogging from work again (*examines scars from burnt fingers* - yep, that's unlikely), I just can't see where the time will come from. So something's got to give. Not to put too fine a point on it, my future could depend on this.

I'd tell you to watch this space, but it might prove to be about as interesting as watching paint dry...

*goes off to think about it*

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shattered illusions 

"Somerwest World" said the sign - a sign I've been driving past on the M5 regularly since we moved down here over a year ago.

The thing is, for about a year, I read that sign as "Somerset World". Did you do that too? Probably not if you're non-British, as I doubt you've heard of Somerset and wouldn't automatically think "Somerset" when seeing a word starting with "Somer...". Funny how the old brain works (or doesn't work, I'm finding as I get older).

So, I spent a year wondering what "Somerset World" actually was (when, in fact, it *wasn't*, although that's probably beside the point). It was on a brown sign, so I imagined it was probably some sort of tourist attraction. I pictured it as a theme park, with Somerset-related rides. A log-flume with not water but cider, perhaps. Some of those moving models of "local people" doing "local things". Whatever those things are. A mud slide called "The Glastonbury Experience", maybe. A historical section, where you can experience how people used to live in Britain. Oh hang on, you'd already be in Somerset, you wouldn't need to pay extra for that... ummm, a futuristic section, where shops are open on Sundays and there is an integrated public transport system!

Somerset seems to be the rather poor relative of the other counties which make up the South West peninsula. People pass through it to get to their *real* holiday destination. Not many stick around - unless they go to the Glastonbury Festival, of course, where it can be difficult to get unstuck in times of heavy rain, so I've heard.

So, finding out that this attraction was actually called "Somerwest World" did not really enlighten me any further, but at least it enabled me to reach for my friendly, neighbourhood search engine where I soon discovered that it was, in fact, the "pseudonym" of Butlins in Minehead. I then remembered that, in the dim and distant past, I'd actually *been* there as a child.

I must say, I'm rather disappointed with my findings. Sometimes, I guess, it's best not to know the truth.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Morning ablutions 

I hadn't seen a poster advertising the offer.

"Free power shower with every run!" it would have claimed, boldly. The smallprint, however, would have said something more along the lines of: "Cold water only. Soap, shampoo, shower gel and towel not included."

I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, as I headed out of the front gate for a 6 miler into what was then just a mild drizzle. Not content with covering me with a fine mist of rain, just sufficient to keep me cool during my exertions, after about 3 miles the weather decided that it wasn't nearly dramatic enough. It wanted to leave its mark on that Sunday morning, so that future generations of guttering would look back and say: "Ah yes, that was the day that it *really* rained..."

The expression "soaked to the skin" was no exaggeration. I'm surprised my mobile phone survived the onslaught, with only a layer of neoprene to protect it. You know you must already be absolutely drenched when a passing car, scudding through a huge roadside puddle and causing a tidal wave to engulf you, doesn't even merit a flinch let alone a swear word. "Am I bothered, though?" I mentally shrugged as it went by. My running shoes squelched at each step and I no longer took care to skirt the puddles, enjoying the sploshing sensation as a child in wellies and waterproofs would. My eyebrows, my facial "guttering", was unable to cope with the sheer volume of raindrops, causing me to blink rather more often than usual as the water combined with the saltiness of my skin, stinging my eyes.

The streets were deadly quiet aside from kagool-clad dog walkers who, on seeing me, would nod politely, tightening the toggles of their hoods just a little before digging their hands deeper into their pockets and hunching their shoulders, as if this offered them more protection from the elements.

There's something about running in torrential rain which I absolutely love. Because you know you'll soon be home in the warm and dry so it doesn't matter. Because your hair was already ruined by sweating all over it, so the rain won't make much difference. Because you are truly communing with that otherwise annoying stuff which makes this country so wonderfully green. Because you're sticking two triumphant, euphoric fingers up at nature and declaring: "Yes, you're raining. And yes, I'm running. And I'm not going to stop, so there!"

The incredible sound of it, the fresh, muddy smell which drifts upwards from the force of the raindrops, the feel of it on your skin - it brings an almost hysterical grin to my face (which, admittedly, could be interpreted as a grimace by an onlooker). And so, when the doorbell rang and Big opened it, he was greeted by a grinning, gleaming, dripping figure which turned out to be me. After leaving a puddle in the utility room whilst I divested myself of my sopping garments, I dried myself off, wrapped my hair into a turban-towel, snuggled into my dressing gown and settled down with crumpets and a cup of tea.

You treadmillers don't know what you're missing!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Anxious art 

"Highcliffe on Sea" - acrylic paint on corrugated card

Here's an initial "trial run" of a painting I'm planning for a large canvas. It's based on a favourite photo of Big and me on a beach in Dorset, but broken down to 4 "monochrome" shades which really emphasise the contrast between light and dark.

It's very difficult to restrict yourself to flat blocks of colour like this rather than subtly merging from one shade to another. I love the overall effect, though, having seen prints of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis in art shops in this style, and have been dying to try my hand at it for a long time.

It's not quite there yet. Some of the shadows look a bit weird at the moment, but if you squint your eyes up at it, I think you can appreciate the effect I'm trying to achieve. The faces don't really look much like us, but I'm not sure I *want* them to. It's less about faithfully reproducing our faces than creating an overall impression.


I need to arrange my life so that I can do more of this...

Friday, November 04, 2005

I guess it was only a matter of time.

At [insert old company name], it happened after only a couple of months, so 9 months is an improvement, at least. But still.

There we were, doing a light-hearted music quiz on a Friday afternoon at the office. He would play an intro on his MP3 player (NOT an iPod, some of you will be pleased to note), and the first to name the artist and track would get the points. A track came on. I vaguely recognised it, but couldn't pinpoint the artist.

Me: "Hmmm, I don't think I know this one"
He: "Oh, I would have thought you'd have known it"
Me: "Who is it then?"
He: "All About Eve"
Me: "Oh"

Me: *thinks*

Me: "So what made you think I would know it, then?"
He: *looking sheepish* "Err..."
Me: *thinks again, groans*
Me: "Is it because you think I'm a goth?"
He: *continuing the sheepish look* "Well, erm..."

My dark, straight hair is natural. My deathly pale skin is, unfortunately, natural. My slightly miserable demeanour is mostly natural but is exacerbated by my current disillusionment with corporate drudgery. The black clothes are not natural per se, but they serve their purpose of not drawing too much attention to the hulking mass otherwise known as "me", "her", "it", "The Amazon", "[nickname/old blog persona]", "[real name]", "[name similar to real name which really bugs me when people call me it]", and so on.

I do not: wear black lipstick; dye my hair black or purple; wear purple, lace or velvet garments of any kind, platform shoes (not least because I don't *need* to be any taller than I already am) or fishnet tights.

For the n millionth time, "I AM NOT A GOTH. I JUST HAVE A COUPLE OF CURE CDS, OKAY?"

So there you have it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Grid anxiety 

I almost pride myself on not succumbing to new fads but decided to buck the trend and attempt my very first Sudoku during our holiday. Admittedly, I'd chosen one which was classified as "easy", but still, I managed to do it on my own and within a reasonable amount of time.

It was when I attempted to do the second one that the doubts set in. Using the same technique as my first attempt, I started well and managed to fill in some of the numbers, but reached a stage where my process of elimination ran out of steam and left me unable to proceed any further. It was only at this point that I decided to consult the rules.

Having done so, I realised with horror that my first attempt was actually incorrect and thus null and void! The shame of it!

You see, whilst I'd understood that the same number could not appear more than once in the same row or column, what I hadn't taken account of was the fact that the same number could not appear more than once in the smaller squares within the grid.

Of course, having discovered this, I was able to complete the second puzzle in no time at all. My previous - albeit unknowing - disregard for the rules had, almost ironically, rendered the puzzle considerably more difficult.

I guess sometimes rules are good for you.