liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
A favourite song with a person's name in the title: Several options for this one, but I'm going with Hey there Delilah by Plain White T's. I generally really like songs that tell a bit of a story, and I can imagine the characters in this one so vividly. I like the balance of emotions; it's a sad song about missing a lover, but it's also optimistic and the music is at least somewhat catchy. And I like that they're apart because they're both pursuing their careers, it's not some passive muse waiting for her artist boyfriend to come home. It's not my usual musical style; indeed I discovered it simply by listening to chart radio like some young person who's in touch with the recent music scene.

Besides, I've been in long-distance relationships pretty much my entire adult life, so I can really relate. But no longer; I haven't posted about this in public yet, but in a couple of weeks I'm properly moving to Cambridge. So I'll be living full time in the same house as my husband and the same town as my Other Significant Others. And I won't be spending every Friday and Sunday evening commuting. I'm really really looking forward to this next phase in my life, but also at the moment up to my ears in arranging the move, and quite emotional about leaving the situation I've been settled in for 8 years.

This weekend I lead my last Shabbat morning service with my lovely community. They are understandably nervous about the future without me, and I will miss them absolutely terribly. I talked a bit about Re'eh, making sure that there's no comparison between Moses saying farewell to the Israelites and me saying farewell now. I discussed keeping sanctity while you're living in an imperfect situation, far away from Jewish centres. What compromises can you make (eating meat without making a Temple sacrifice) and what lines can't be crossed (worshipping in Pagan sites)? Then it will go well for you and your children after you, for all of time, because you will do what is good and right in the eyes of the Eternal your God. And we ate cakes made by my sister and the community gave me some really nice silver Shabbat candlesticks with engraved stands.

[personal profile] jack came up to help me sort the flat out. In lots of ways the decision making is the harder part of packing than the physical labour, so having my husband with me was an amazing help. I am really looking forward to living with him and properly sharing the work of running a household, because we're such a great team. Not just one day in the distant future when our dreams come true, but next month:
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good

video embed )
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
A song that has many meanings for you. I think this has to be Some kind of stranger by Sisters of Mercy. Partly because it's lyrically complex; I have never been sure if it's about a positive relationship or a breakup, a long-term connection or a casual affair, and it may well not be about romantic love at all.

This is another song that [personal profile] doseybat introduced me to when we were teenagers. So it's tied up with discovering alternative music and the goth scene, and forming my own tastes in music as well as more broadly. A period of my life when I think I did the most growing up.

In some ways it's a song about keeping faith in spite of everything that might push you towards despair. And that's why I keep coming back to it, whether it's faith in a person or just more broadly:
And I know the world is cold
But if we hold on tight to what we find
We might not mind so much
That even this must pass away

Then it's the soundtrack of my PhD. The bit where my brother had a bad accident and I was in an emotional mess, but the science was still inspiring and still needed doing. The bit where it wasn't inspiring any more, it was a slog, and I had to keep going. One more step, one more flask of cells, one more measurement. The long repetitive bit at the end Come here I think you're beautiful over and over again, when I was sitting in the cell culture room with my headphones a portable tape player, and just keeping my cells alive and nourished before I could actually do any experiments took about three hours three times a week. You can't miss a sesssion or the cells die or mutate and you lose months of work. You have to concentrate enough not to get anything contaminated, but it's not exactly intellectually stimulating. In fact, a lot of the point of my PhD was providing justification for replacing me with a robot, but grad students are cheaper than robots, and I was just sitting there screening through hundreds of potential new drugs.

It's also a song about making friends with [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel, towards the end of that PhD and the years just afterwards. [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel is also a Sisters fan and gave me a recording of one of their concerts, since it's nearly impossible to buy studio versions of most of their music since the 80s. The ambiguous words might be about a sudden, intense yet enduring friendship, maybe. Some kind of stranger / some kind of angel.

And even though it's a pretty downbeat song, it's a very happy song for me now. It promised me that I could endure, and I have. My brother is fine now. I still love most of the people who sustained me in my late teens and early 20s. I've succeeded at some things that were hard and failed at others, but I have people who love me for myself, not my achievements. And nothing is permanent, but as long as I'm here and get to experience things and love people, I can cope with that.

video embed, audio only )
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
I'm up to the thinky items in the list: a song that makes you think about life. I'm not quite sure what to do with this because in general I don't listen to music to inspire deep thoughts.

digression on what music is for )

One song that often makes me stop and think is Song of choice. I heard it interpreted by Solas, a group with a Celtic-ish style that I find hard to classify, it doesn't seem to fit well into either trad or neo. I think this song isn't original to them; I know there's a Peggy Seeger version, but again, she often doesn't perform her own material. But anyway, I really like Karan Casey's voice, and the lyrics are all about taking decisive action before it's too late, a message that seems important to me:
In January you've still got the choice
You can cut the weeds before they start to bud
If you leave them to grow higher, they'll silence your voice
And in December you may pay with your blood
But I think my pick for this meme is going to be Farthest star by VNV Nation. I need to have some VNV in this meme, and they tend to have very thinky lyrics. So some of what I think about life is contained in:
We possess the power
If this should start to fall apart
to mend divides, to change the world
to reach the farthest star
If we should stay silent
if fear should win our hearts,
our light will have long diminished
before it reaches the farthest star
It's a call to action, but a more optimistic one than the Solas. video embed, audio only )
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke. I don't do karaoke, and I don't do duets, so this is a bit of a non-starter for me.

No, let me explain, because I'm having fun answering this meme in way too much detail. I think karaoke is an absolutely excellent idea in theory. It's really great to encourage people to sing just for fun and not worry about skill level. And it's really great to use technology to play the backing music and display the lyrics so that someone can just get up and sing the melody with little preparation.

The problem is that for me personally, karaoke means packaging up 30 plus years of abject humiliation over not being able to sing in tune, and asking me to enjoy that in public. I find it hard anyway to make myself sing in front of other people; I do it, because I absolutely do believe that music belongs to everybody (not just people who are "musical"), and shared music is a great way for people to connect. Singing in front of an audience who are paying attention to me, or even worse, in a competition, however light-hearted, is too terrifying.

Duets are possibly extra impossible, because singing in unison with someone else is already hard for me. Especially if they have a lower range; I can't really hear octaves, so I find it very difficult to join in with someone singing in the bass clef range. Singing in harmony is really really hard, because not only do I have to sing the correct notes which I always find difficult to remember, I also have to match the note which is very imperfectly in my head while being distracted by my partner singing a different note that my actual ears can hear. I can sometimes do multi-part harmony if there are several people singing each section, so I can listen to someone else who is singing the same line as me. And I'm fine with parts in music in general when I don't have to worry about pitch. But a sung duet is really tricky.

And really, I can think of very few duets that I know at all, for whatever reason, even to listen to. Let's call the whole thing off might work, because (at least in this superlatively great version with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong) it's mostly alternating verses or lines between the two singers rather than harmony. But hypothetically, if I were to find the courage to sing karaoke, I probably wouldn't start with something really amazingly great; somehow I'd feel less bad about murdering some ephemeral extruded pop product than attempting an actually good song.

I will admit, though, that my brother and I have been known to sing Always by Bon Jovi, as a sort of duet, sometimes in public and definitely not caring that neither of us can really sing. Partly because we always liked the dubious rhyme of:
I'll be there til the stars don't shine
Til the heavens burst, and the words don't rhyme
And partly because Bon Jovi can't really sing either, he just projected a persona calculated to appeal to teenaged girls in the 90s. So I probably wouldn't sing it actually in karaoke, and I probably wouldn't sing it with anyone other than my brother, but it seems slightly less impossible than any other options, so I think it seems in the spirit of the meme.

video embed )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
A song that is a cover by another artist. I think this has to be Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays, originally by the Boomtown Rats.

Tori Amos was I think the first musician I really got intensely into, beyond just enjoying the sound of somebody's music. The single Cornflake girl was on the radio a lot in the mid 90s, and I quite liked it but didn't have any context. Then I met MK when we were both up for Oxford interview, and became instant friends. He put a lot of effort into supporting me through a somewhat bumpy transition from sheltered child to independent person, including dealing with a bereavement that hit me really hard when I was 19. He's also responsible for introducing me to digital socializing (email, instant messenger, Usenet to an extent, and the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing). And he played lots of Tori songs for me when I was sitting in the dark crying about letting go of childhood naive optimism. I bought Little earthquakes on CD, and had access to a lot of Tori's oeuvre for all of the 90s via not entirely licit digital copies. Not only Tori Amos, there was a lot of alt stuff especially goth that I picked up from [personal profile] doseybat, but Tori Amos was pretty much the soundtrack of inventing myself as an adult.

I don't like Mondays was almost a novelty thing in a way, recorded with a bunch of much less successful covers, of things like Smells like teen spirit which really doesn't work for Amos' musical style, most of which were never commercially released. This one did make it to Strange little girls, the concept album of gender-bent cover songs, which I was never fully convinced by. I haven't been strongly into Tori Amos' music since 2000, not that I think it's bad but it isn't part of my psyche in the way that the 90s material is. But anyway, it's a remix of a song written in response to a school shooting in the late 70s. The original is meant to be ironic, but it comes across as so inappropriately jolly that it often gets played on the radio as a joke song, here's one to cheer you up from your Monday commuting blues... Tori Amos' cover is a total reworking, without any irony at all, just sadness about a teenaged girl turning a gun on her schoolmates.

So it kind of epitomizes why Tori Amos meant a lot to me at that time in my life; she wrote and performed beautiful songs (she's a classically trained musician) about serious subjects which she took seriously. But that seriousness isn't about glorying in the violence and ugliness, it's about challenging it. video embed, audio only )

As a bonus, have kd lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's a song that gets covered way too often, nearly always as a kind of soppy lovesong that really fails to do justice to the extremely powerful original. So basically I hate Hallelujah covers, except this one. Again, it's very different from Cohen's original, but it's an emotionally serious interpretation in its own right which doesn't cheapen its source material.
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
A song that makes you sad. It's hard to find anything sadder than one of my friends who posted a video of a scratch orchestra playing the European anthem Ode to Joy the day after the UK voted to leave the EU. But the song most likely to make me cry, personally, is the aria Voi che sapete from Mozart's The marriage of Figaro.

break-up sadness, plus video )

Recorder

Apr. 24th, 2017 01:20 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
So the wonderful amazing [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait gave me a proper alto recorder as an afikoman present. I am slightly awkward about it because an actual musical instrument is a bit bigger than the sorts of things my family generally expect as Passover presents – it's a gift-giving occasion, yes, but it's not anything like on the scale of Christmas. But I am also really really happy, it's the most absolutely perfect present.

babbling about me and music )

And I'm allowed to play the recorder. Just like I learned with piano all those years ago, I don't have to be a brilliant performing soloist, I can just play because I want to. And with work, with amazingly satisfying work, better than any video game, I can get to the point where my playing sounds at least pleasant. But I do in fact want to focus on more social sorts of playing, not learning a bunch of sonatas to a mediocre standard.

So does anyone have any recs of social sorts of music? Melodies of songs, perhaps, or even something aimed directly for people who want to play recorder to accompany singers? The readthrough people have a songbook, right, with dots in? Would it be possible to obtain a copy? I'm happy to pay for music but I'm spoilt for choice so I need some ideas first. And I am somewhat interested in online tutorials though I think I can mostly learn fine just by practising pieces, cos it turns out I know how do that. I like baroque music a lot, and there happens to be quite a lot available for recorder, but I am not wedded to only playing baroque, any style is fine, and I'm quite positively interested in recorder versions of pop music, if that exists. (And if it's set for descant, well, all that rusty music theory means that I do in fact know how to transpose.)
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
So someone on FB, who is an introvert, expressed a desire for extroverts to talk more about what it's like to be an extrovert, as this is something they don't understand. So I thought I'd give it a go, here rather than FB cos I don't like posting thinky things that just vanish into FB's ether.

living up to the stereotype by talking about myself )

Any other extroverts want to comment? I'm making this a public post and will link it from FB for the benefit of the person who wanted to learn about what it's like to be us.

Bike!!!

Dec. 7th, 2015 04:42 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I bought a bike! I've been trying to for ages but not had time to get to bike shops when they were open. Today we went to John's Bikes in Arbury Court and explained what I wanted and John pointed me out a bike he reckoned would be suitable. It's not a classical Dutch bike but it has some similar characteristics, upright and sturdy. John only sells new bikes, and I sort of wanted to get second-hand but on the other hand, this bike fits my requirements, it's in my price range, and available now. I tried it by riding up and down the road and it felt pleasant, so I decided to go for it.

Talking to John, who is clearly a bike enthusiast, reminded me a bit of my Grandad who use to run a bike shop. But he died before I really got to the point of having adult conversations with him, so I mostly know about him from stories. I do feel sort of wistful that I can't tell him all about my new shiny bike and all the advances in technology of the past three decades, but I suspect that if my Grandad were actually still alive I wouldn't have gone 20 years without owning a bike of my own.

New bike is shiny and black and has Python written on it, so it needs a pythony name. Top candidates so far are Regulus and Apodora. But suggestions welcome, very much including programming jokes.

Getting the bike home was interesting; it's only a mile but it's along a lot of main roads. I ended up wheeling the bike halfway up Campkin Road, and then found one of those barely functional cycle paths by the school, one that has junction boxes in the middle of it and only goes for a few hundred metres before disappearing into road and pedestrian-only pavement. And then I turned off into the little backstreets where our house is and bravely cycled the rest of the way on the actual road. Going round parked cars is still scary but I think I will get used to it.

Definitely need practice at cycling on roads, but acquiring the bike gets me over the major hurdle.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I've been in a funny mood these past couple of weeks. There have been lovely things, viz:

misc bitty things; mentions death )

Anyway, it's been the kind of time when I keep opening compose windows and not knowing what to say. And I haven't got anything new for Reading Wednesday as I have read basically no fiction in the past couple of weeks. So have some links to other people's writing:

  • I rather appreciated [livejournal.com profile] evilrooster's fic Silence in the hill country. It's not at all the sort of thing I normally like, since it's NT fic for one thing, and for another the main topic is Mary's pregnancy. And I'm slightly hesitant to recommend Christian Bible fic, but as far as I can tell the story is framed in a reverent way; the writer is a practising Christian.

  • A rather sweet story about a so-called natural inseminator, a man who helps women to become pregnant by having sex with them rather than just donating sperm. Although there is a weird bit in the middle where the journalist expresses horror at the idea that people with genetic diseases or autistic people might donate sperm, so if you don't want to run into sudden unexpected eugenics you probably shouldn't follow the link.

  • [personal profile] rachelmanija started a wonderful discussion about how people find hope in a time of despair. I should note, I could hardly be further from despair, there are many many good things in my life and I have more to look forward to. And some of what people are writing about is dealing with absolutely horrible circumstances, pretty much everything horrible that could happen to anyone is in the comments somewhere. I'm finding something very moving about people's descriptions of just still being here after the worst possible things happened to them.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
( You're about to view content that the journal owner has advised should be viewed with discretion. )
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
I am a fan of Naomi Alderman in general, and I was really impressed with her piece on being a fat person who made a fitness app (the app in question is Zombies, Run!, which I've been enjoying after several of you recommended it to me. So [personal profile] rmc28, you might be particularly interested in the linked article). I love the title There's no morality in exercise and the lede You’re not a better person for working out, or a worse person for not. And the whole piece really resonated with me. It was so important to me to find a way into exercise that isn't about weight loss or morality, and particularly not weight-loss conflated with morality, and I feel like Alderman really gets that. Plus what she says about competition is really wise; if only people who are already highly athletic are allowed to train and improve, that's a pretty unhelpful situation.

As well as agreeing with Alderman politically, I find that my experiences in many ways chime with hers, so I want to babble about that for a bit. This will involve talking about weight, body image, dieting and social attitudes to health / fitness / weight, all that scary complicated emotive stuff. I also mention childhood bullying, which is not a very surprising thing to come up in this sort of context.

reasons for exercise )

And it's not a moral imperative, not at all, I get certain benefits from exercise but I could well imagine another person deciding it's not worth the effort. I am putting a lot of time in, and I have had to give up some stuff I wanted to do to be able to do this regular running. But at least I want to offer the possibility that you can exercise because you want to, you don't have to try for weight loss, you don't have to do it because it's healthy and you are obliged to strive for health. And you can still exercise even if, like me, you're fairly bad at it. Competition can be fun, but it's not the only option.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I was doing so well, managed to post every day up to Boxing Day, and then I fell off the wagon. It's for a good reason, though, cos I've been having the most amazing weekend celebrating my 36th birthday.

Saturday we had a party and lots of people I really like showed up, in spite of really horrendous transport doom in London. My sister (who wasn't present) made me 36 square pieces of gingerbread to mark being a square number of years, and we had fun eating them in ways to keep them arranged in squares for as long as possible. We got to meet [personal profile] morwen's brother and [personal profile] kaberett's boything. However one friend had not quite registered that it was supposed to be an afternoon party rather than an evening party, and showed up at 11 pm. I was so pleased to see her and have a chance to catch up that I ended up talking to her instead of writing my post for that day.

Then Sunday we celebrated the second half of Granny's 95th birthday. The first half had been on the day itself, Boxing Day, when we travelled up to Brighton for a roast dinner hosted by my brother Screwy. Whereas yesterday we had a tea-party at my parents', with my other brother, Thuggish Poet, present plus a few of Granny's local friends. It was especially nice to see both my brothers, albeit consecutively! [personal profile] cjwatson and [livejournal.com profile] ghoti came over to ours for the evening, and I wanted to spend time with them more than I wanted to catch up with DW posts, so. It definitely felt like the whole weekend was my birthday this year!

Anyway, on 27th if I hadn't been busy turning 36, I was going to write about owls, as requested by [personal profile] jack, and this is fairly short so I can squeeze it in now. owls )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] bugshaw asked for Colours you saw that day, and when I put the calendar together I accidentally put her prompt on a day when I'm working from home, then travelling back to Stoke probably after it gets dark. So I don't have many opportunities to go out and find interesting colours. I will talk about the colours in our home instead.

domestic )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] cjwatson gave the really thinky prompt:
"Homes": you have active roots in several quite geographically separate places, not only in terms of where you actually spend your time, but also communities you feel attached to. How does this affect your concept of home?

wherever I lay my hat )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] watersword asked about Cambridge-the-town. Basically I've considered myself "from" Cambridge from 1987 to today, though I've only actually lived there full time from 1995 to 1997. And I have only indirect connections with Cambridge-the-institution, I mean, quite a lot of indirect connections – just about everybody I've seriously dated (apart from [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo) has been a Cambridge graduate – but I've basically spent my whole life clarifying, Cambridge-the-town, not Cambridge University.

but men from Shelford and those parts / have twisted lips and twisted hearts )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[twitter.com profile] kake linked to a cool post by [personal profile] doug about changing history with a time machine. It's the sort of post that makes me realize just how weak my history is. There's absolutely no way I could come up with any sensible argument for which people and events made a substantial difference to the course of history, or how history would have been different if those fulcrum events ran differently. Anyway I really like reading stuff by knowledgeable people playing around with ideas like this!

Also I accidentally rekindled the debate about whether Harriet Vane is a Mary-Sue at [personal profile] staranise's place. People are being careful about major spoilers but if you don't want to know anything the plots or characters of any Sayers books at all you might want to avoid the thread. [personal profile] legionseagle quite rightly points out that my initial premise was simplistic and probably sexist, and also has some really informative and insightful ideas about Sayers' oeuvre, about Mary-Sues, and about the law. And lots of thinky stuff about class and how that's changed historically from various people, including [personal profile] naraht. And [personal profile] staranise herself brings the psychological insight regarding relationships between authors and characters.

One of the major topics I've been thinking about recently is how to maintain communication with people I care about a lot but who aren't regularly in my life. Partly sparked by this really chewy discussion chez [personal profile] kaberett, which started off responding to a Captain Awkward discussion about when you should just assume someone who isn't getting back to you doesn't actually want to be talking to you and it's time to stop pestering, and moves on to talking about different media and how they work or don't for communication. Also I've been talking to [personal profile] lethargic_man about related stuff; he used to joke that the reason he asked me out was that that was the only way to get me to answer emails, and it's somewhat true, I've been a direly terrible correspondent in the decade since we broke up. And now I am committing the terrible irony of failing to keep up with an email conversation about ways of keeping up with email conversations...

So, I'd like to hear from people, how do you manage this kind of thing? What sorts of communication media work for you or don't? noodling about this )

Anyway, how do you do this? How do you handle email guilt and deal with Facebook's horribleness? Are you comfortable flexibly moving between different media depending what suits your friends? Have you, like me, started to lose people now that lots are migrating away from DW? Thoughts very much welcome!
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
So I'm trying to move to Cambridge to live with [personal profile] jack, even though I still work in the Midlands. Today I finally managed to sell the house where I was living until February, so that's tangible progress towards the shape of life I want.

boring details )

Skills gap

Jul. 7th, 2014 01:44 pm
liv: Composite image of Han Solo and Princess Leia, labelled Hen Solo (gender)
I'm bad at really a lot of things that women are expected to be good at. Some of them don't matter very much: clothes, make-up, fashion, personal adornment in general, for example. This doesn't matter to me because I'm cis, so people rarely challenge whether I'm "really" female, and I have a weak sense of gender identity so I don't feel hurt, weird or dysphoric if people do in fact think I'm unfeminine. And it's easy to dismiss looking pretty as just superficial; certainly my professional life doesn't depend on succeeding at it.

Lots more stuff in this category consists of valuable skills, but ones that men get away with being mediocre at, so although I would like to improve I don't worry very much that I'm below average compared to women if I'm at a level that's fairly typical for men in my society. Things like cooking and baking, housekeeping, fabric arts, domestic sphere type stuff. Being able to cook, clean and sew are in fact important, and they're devalued precisely because they're seen as "feminine". But I'm pretty sure if I were male I would be praised for keeping my living space as clean and tidy as I do, for being able to cook a decent if not extensive range of nutritious and tasty meals, for being able to sew on buttons and carry out minor clothing repairs. To some extent you could say the same thing about appearance-related stuff; in our particular society, men aren't expected to know how to put on make-up or wear a range of different clothes carefully matched to the formality of various situations, so these things are considered unimportant, not because they actually are.

The third category is where I'm more concerned about my deficiencies. I guess you could broadly call it social or communication skills. Empathy, intuition, emotional communication. I want to be better at these things primarily because I'd do better in life and be less likely to inadvertently hurt people, not really because women are "supposed" to be good at them.

more noodling )

Soundbite

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

Top topics

September 2017

S M T W T F S
     12
345 6789
10111213141516
17 181920212223
24252627282930

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Subscription Filters