liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: [personal profile] forestofglory is brilliant at recommending short SFF; via her post I found A good home by Karin Lowachee. I've had Lowachee on my radar for a while but haven't been able to find Warchild in a reasonable format, so I'm excited to read this short. It didn't perfectly work for me but I'm an easy sell on humans forming emotional bonds with androids (after all that Asimov and Star Trek in my childhood.)

Currently reading: Sisterhood by Penelope Friday. I am happy to enjoy the sex scenes, the miscommunication, and the external conflict that fit the genre, but with lesbian and wlw characters. I like that the miscommunication is realistic and doesn't rely on characters being gratuitously stupid, and that the conflict comes not from the fact that the relationships are between women, but that the heroine's gf is an abolitionist and her brother-in-law on whom she's financially dependent is involved in the slave trade.

Up next: I think I might ask to borrow back the copy of The secrets of enduring love by Meg-John Barker, which I gave to my partners collectively for Valentine's Day. Since today is two years since I got together with [personal profile] cjwatson and tomorrow will be two years with [livejournal.com profile] ghoti. I'm still head-over-heels in love and far too excited for two years in, but we are definitely starting to have more of the sort of conversations that people in long term relationships have. And I'm hoping this will be a long term relationship, so it feels the right time to read up on how to have strong long-lasting relationships from a guide that doesn't assume monogamous and heteronormative.

I've always said that my general happiness isn't about whether I have a partner or not, but these two years I've felt... I think the word is fulfilled, a sort of deeply contented that isn't exactly the emotion of happiness. I feel really rooted in this little network of relationships.
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
So eight years ago, on 29th February, I asked Jack out and he said yes. And then some years elapsed where we decided the relationship was in fact serious and long-term, and I moved back to England and we had lots of detailed discussions and eventually got engaged. Four years ago, on 29th February, we did not exactly celebrate the anniversary of getting together, because we were too busy getting married. So today is a day that I couldn't have begun to imagine in 2008, and seemed impossibly far away even in 2012: our first ever wedding anniversary.

contains soppy )

We had hoped to do something really exciting for our first! ever! anniversary! but when it came to it, we're both just over-stretched and tired, so we opted for just a weekend in a little self-catering cottage (with, amazingly, its own semi-working water mill!) in the countryside not far from me. And we mostly spent the weekend staying in and cuddling and playing board games and watching a low-effort film. We managed a couple of meals out in indifferent pubs, and a half-hour stroll in what is a very pretty but not too touristy area. And we had a few relationship conversations of the kind that you often don't get time for in daily life. But basically we were just tired, and needed a weekend to recharge. It was extremely lovely to be able to do that together, I must say.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
I almost don't feel like looking back over 2014, it's been a bit of a blah year. Nothing bad, but little that really stands out. But I've been doing this for ten years now so I might as well carry on the tradition!

that was the year that was )
liv: methane on Mars, labelled "squeeee!!!" (squee)
My excellent father is 70 today. P'tite Soeur organized a very fun birthday party for him, by means of contacting all his extended family by any means she could and inviting them all to show up at the weekend. Ended up about 60 people, the descendants of about half of the 10 siblings of my grandparents' generation.

It was a little bit like a reprise of my wedding reception, with a marquee in the garden of my parents' place, and the same caterers, the ever-wonderful Shelford Deli, provided a selection of really tasty salads, an excellent cheese board, and strawberries and cream. Much better weather, though, it was gloriously sunny all day.

My sister who has only improved her baking skill since the wedding made a birthday cake, many different kinds of biscuits, profiteroles, macarons, absolutely amazing. (By the way, she's doing a pop-up restaurant event with a dinner purely made out of desserts, which I am shamelessly plugging because more people should taste my sister's amazing cakes.)

In general it was an absolutely brilliant family reunion, cousins I'm fond of but see too rarely, cousins I've never met before, eating and chatting and catching up on decades worth of family gossip. Lots of people commented that it's really nice to get the family together when it's not a funeral, and I am almost thinking I want to tell you how great my Dad is while he's still here. But he's also really modest and would probably be embarrassed at lots of public praise.

Anyway, many happy returns of the day to Dad, here's to many more decades of happiness and compassion and good food and family.

Today

May. 22nd, 2014 05:07 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo!

Happy blogaversary to me - I joined LJ this date in 2003, and moved to DW around this time in 2009.

Happy election day to fellow Europeans, (apart from people in civilized countries where they've moved the European elections to the nearest weekend to improve turnout). obligatory election opinions )

Decade

May. 2nd, 2013 06:47 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
I officially started using DW as my main journalling / blogging home 4 years ago. That's not when I created the account; I was helping with documentation and testing and a teeny-tiny bit of development when the site was still in closed beta, so I had one of the first small handful of accounts back in January 2009. But I didn't want to "move in" here until it was opened for people who weren't connected with developers to use as well.

Dreamwidth celebrates its birthday on 1st May, so this seems like a reasonable point to count from. Four years on, I'm still pretty happy here. babble )

Anyway, while I'm marking time passing, I have been blogging for most of 10 years; DW opened just a couple of weeks before the 6th anniversary of starting my LJ. I've made just over 1500 posts in that time, and I reckon that probably puts me close to 2 million words since most of my posts are long-winded. Certainly a couple of million if you include comments. And those words have described getting a PhD, several different romantic relationships including the one with the person I eventually married, three jobs, living in Scotland, Sweden and moving back to England again, a bunch of travelling, reviews of several hundred books, and some pretty major shifts in my thinking about topics such as politics, feminism and others. I've met any number of new friends and got glimpses into the lives of, oh, a good several hundred people, many from very different backgrounds to me and whom I might never have imagined if I hadn't been on LJ/DW. I don't know if I've achieved the kind of competence that is supposed to come with writing a million words of crap, but I do think I'm a better writer than I was in 2003. All in all it's been a blast, and I'm certainly looking forward to the next ten years.

Love

Feb. 12th, 2013 01:34 pm
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
This is quite a week for the calendar providing blogging topics, with Chinese New Year, Pancake Day / Mardi Gras / Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and the dreaded Valentine's Day all in succession. I really do not know what to do with VD. I don't approve of it politically, though I do like going out for nice meals with people I love, and I keep vacillating between (pointedly) ignoring it, attempting to subvert or reclaim it, and just going ahead and celebrating it anyway.

talking about romance is really fraught )

What I am going to do is to link to [personal profile] kaberett's Not-a-darkroom-orgy love meme. As they say: with the message that monogamous heterosexual relationships are the most important kind of relationship [...] a healthy dose of respect and love might be no bad thing. I am a bit scared of love memes, they seem like a fandom cultural thing that I don't fully understand. I signed up to [personal profile] kaberett's because I know most of the people involved, and some of them are people I love very dearly in ways that don't get the same kind of recognition as loving [personal profile] jack does. People have said incredibly touching things in my thread, but that's not why I'm linking, I just wanted to signal-boost a chance for people to get some love and respect and admiration and positivity that's not full of the subtext that you fail at life if you're not in the right kind of couple situation. I should also note that [personal profile] kaberett is moderating incredibly carefully and sensitively, so it's a lot less of a minefield than anony-memes can be.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
I don't think I've ever got to an end of term as tired as I was by 21st December. I know lots of people have much harder jobs than me, but I was really working flat out for most of the last three months and ended up just turning my brain off for most of a week.

a much needed break )

Since I've been offline quite a lot the past couple of weeks, only dipping into DW and LJ occasionally, I observed that the general mood of the internet was kind of grumpy during the Zwischenjahr, the people who'd had good Christmases were feeling deflated and the people who'd had bad Christmases were annoyed. But as the New Year came in, the mood became much more optimistic, even people who had tough times in 2012 expressed hope for better in 2013, and there were lots of fascinating end of year retrospectives, including even from people who have almost left LJ / DW – it's great to see you all showing up again.

I'm not making any resolutions as such, and my goals for 2013 are pretty much to continue as I have been. I would like to do some meaningful research and hopefully publish something, and ideally attract more funding. I plan to travel, probably to the Balkans in June-ish and Montreal in summer. And I would really really really like to attend some cons in 2013, maybe Eastercon, maybe Bicon, maybe Limmud. I need to get organized to make this happen, though.

Here's a very good post from Meg Barker at Rewriting the Rules with some information based on psychological research on how to approach New Year resolutions with self-compassion. More poetically, Hanne Blank has a deeply moving New Year message.

Anyway, here's to a brilliant 2013. Cheers, all!

By the way, if you're around in Cambridge on Saturday, please do join me and [personal profile] jack at his housewarming party, which also represents about halfway between my 34th birthday and his 31st. Presents not at all expected. PM or email me if you need more details.
liv: methane on Mars, labelled "squeeee!!!" (squee)
Looks like all seven billion of our people are still with us. Well, apart from the hundred and fifty thousand who died yesterday; if that number doubled due to all the Christian Elect ascending directly to heaven, would we actually have noticed?

Anyway. On this day in 1980, the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo was born. Now she has a doctorate, so congratulations as well as happy birthday, Dr Darcy!

And on this day in 2003 I started my blog on LiveJournal. It's been a really fantastic 8 years, and I can't even begin to enumerate how many dear friends I've made, grown closer to or kept in touch with thanks to LJ and, since 2009, DW. Here's to many more years and many new friends.

Also on this day in 135 (ish) a plague that had killed thousands of Torah scholars miraculously ceased. In celebration of this, Jews have a minor festival of picnics, bonfires and giving three-year-olds their first haircuts. As an anglo-Jew, how can I resist the chance of a picnic in an urban park, huddled in several layers of jumpers and raincoats and umbrellas, eating cucumber sandwiches and drinking tea out of a vacuum flask? So I'm off to do that.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
The 11th November used to be called Armistice Day; now it seems to be called Remembrance day, or sometimes 11/11, presumably in imitation of the American marking of the anniversary of the World Trade Centre bombings on "9/11". I think this is a great deal to do with the fact that nobody actually remembers WW1, the Great War, the War to end all wars now. There are no veterans alive, and almost nobody who was an adult during the war, and precious few who were even alive during it.

So we have to have a special day for "Remembrance", and in the way of these things it isn't really a day any more, more of a season. It sort of merges with the Halloween season and the bonfire night season and the Christmas season. I wear a poppy between the weekend of Remembrance Sunday and the 11th itself, but they seem to be generally around, in adverts and shop displays and on people's clothes from some time in September until late enough in the year where Christmas dominates absolutely every available inch of space and attention. I'm not generally a huge fan of wearing badges that show I've donated money to charity, but I think the poppy has enough history behind it to overcome that reluctance.

It's become a kind of ceremony, somewhat detached from its original point, but one of those cultural things that people do. And part of the ceremony is posting WW1 poetry to blogs and journals. It's all conveniently out of copyright now, and still looms large in the school curriculum, and, well, people who read no modern poetry at all, or even no poetry at all, can get something out of Sassoon and Owen and McCrae and Binyon (who even made it into our liturgy, I notice). One thing I have appreciated this year is a couple of original poems commenting on the fact that everyone feels obliged to post poetry: I give you [livejournal.com profile] papersky's Remembrance Day, and [livejournal.com profile] j4's At the going down of the sun.

And yeah, it is a bit ironic that it took me a week to get my act together to post this. Do read the links anyway, they are short and poignant and shocking.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo, who has been adding to the joy in the world for 28 years and in my life for nearly ten.

Also, happy fifth LJ-versary to me. I want to write a long post about why I don't think I'll make it to a decade here, and quite possibly not even to a sixth anniversary. But not now because...

I need to get organized to travel to Holland tomorrow! Which means I will get to see [livejournal.com profile] rav_hadassah, and [livejournal.com profile] cartesiandaemon, for whom it is just as easy to get to Amsterdam as to Stockholm, is going to join us. I am looking forward to a really relaxing long weekend with lovely people.

Right now I have tea and pancakes (every Thursday is pancake day in Sweden. I like this country).
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
They don't have Remembrance Day in Sweden. This makes perfect sense, since Sweden wasn't involved in either of the World Wars. But it's odd to come into November and not see any poppies.

Just like it's odd to go to villages with no war memorial in the centre, and it's odd to have to consciously break the assumption that people of my grandparents' generation will have service experiences. The phrase "in the war" has almost no referent here. I'm living in a society that didn't lose huge swathes of the entire male population in two successive generations. There was no baby boom here, but rather an economic boom when the rest of Europe was crippled in the post-war period and Sweden wasn't (that was the time when Sweden became a nation of immigrants, because the sudden expansion of industry created a huge labour shortage).

The Jewish community remember the war, WW2 at least, but for them the war is tangled with Nazism and the Holocaust. This week we marked the anniversary of Kristallnacht; there are proportionally more people here who were personally affected than in England, I think. Those who were already in Sweden by the 30s remember what it was like with Occupied Norway on one border, and Axis Finland on the other, and Occupied Denmark just across the water. And the Swedish government allowing the German trains to travel through their supposedly neutral country, and the general atmosphere of relative sympathy for the Nazis (did anti-Communism or anti-Semitism come first? It's hard to say.) But none of that is the stuff I'm accustomed to remembering on this date.

Facebook and LJ reminded me of the date, and having been reminded, made me feel I wasn't remembering on my own. So I am adding my post to what seems like a kind of virtual ceremony.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
To everyone for whom the year is about to be new. This year Ramadan corresponds exactly with Tishri, so a blessed Ramadan to Muslims. (And everyone else is welcome to non-specific good wishes too.)
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
...to MK and Mrs K, who celebrate their sixth anniversary today. It scares me that I have friends my age who have been married that long, and it scares me how long ago 1999 was. And that the Most Adorable Boy in the World will be six before the summer's out.

MK is still chuckling over the fact that [livejournal.com profile] pseudomonas and I walked all the way across London due to [livejournal.com profile] pseudomonas's "religious fundamentalism", as MK likes to call it. Mainly because he likes to wind me up, rather than because he really can't tell the difference between a strict interpretation of shabbat and a desire to attack people who don't share one's religious views.

Things are going well for all three of them in Melbourne, by the way. I've been chatting to MK over IM a couple of times recently. It's good to see him happy, and wonderful as always to talk to him.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
I have spent over 16 hours travelling in the past two days in order to go to my sister's 21st. This is probably an indication that I'm completely mad, but I'm glad I did it anyway.

party on! )

OK, so I'm dog-tired and my nose and throat are irritated by all the cigarette smoke which is also making my hair and clothes smell disgusting. But it was a fun weekend and it's very lovely to have the freedom to do crazy things like that!
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
I just got an invitation from my baby sister to her 21st birthday! Now, this really shouldn't be news, because straightforward arithmetic would have told me that she was turning 21 this year. But that doesn't mean I was actually expecting it. Buh! Scared now.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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