Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back, looking forward

Wish I could think of a less pretentious post title. Ho hum.

Three hundred and sixty five days ago I wrote this post in which I uncharacteristically made several specific resolutions s for 2009. Well.....yes. As is often the case, most of them fell by the wayside. Life, depression and anxiety got in the way: my exercise regime slowly died, the house is almost as much of a tip as it ever was (and now we have even more stuff) and the paucity of posts on this blog show how well I managed to keep writing. Money being tight and friends being busy means our monthly "dates" never really happened, and while I do try and play with the Terror as much as I can, I could (and probably should) do more. I did achieve one however - my thesis was finished and submitted after only a short extension. That's always something of an anti-climax though, and with no idea when the viva might be, it feels like the work of the last five years has just slipped into limbo.

Not sure what else I can say about 2009 - it's been a short year. Seriously, I'm not sure where most of it has gone. Eaten up by the thesis, I suppose. We did have a horrible period where two friends and my best friend's father died in the space of a few weeks. The theft of Daddy's 30th birthday present the day after we bought it was another low point. But I suppose on the whole it's not been a bad year. Our closest friends and family are well, despite some troubles, and while the black dog is hounding both of us still, the meds I'm on seem to be helping more than not (for now at least). The Terror is thriving at school. And my beloved came out as bi-gendered, and began to be more relaxed and happier as hirself.

So looking forward to the next year, it's tempting to once again say the usual things: I ought to exercise more, the house needs clearing out, I should start writing again. I really really really need to start looking for work. But after this year's failure, I've learned my lesson. I won't say "never again" because by this time next year I might well have changed my mind, but for 2010 at least I won't be making a list of goals that I will inevitably fail to achieve. I have only one resolution: just keep trying.

I hope that's enough.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas, and all that

Full of cold, but just about compos mentis enough to blog last few days.

We had a hurriedly arranged trip up to Durham on Christmas Eve to meet friends and exchange gifts. We prepared for the worst, and after a nice lunch and chat, set off home again early in case the roads iced over. Turned out to be a hassle free trip, and we probably could have popped in to see my parents after all, but never mind. We'll be off to see them in a couple of days or so.

Christmas Day itself got off to an early(ish) but relaxed start - the Terror was the most laid-back six year old ever and initially quite happy to just empty stocking and unwrap two presents before saving the rest for when we were at Nana's. As morning went on, he became more and more excited though, culminating in a tantrum once we got there as we didn't drop everything to open all the presents there and then. He calmed down enough to be allowed to open a few more, and while he was pleased enough with the presents from Santa which were mostly exactly what he asked for, it was the look on his face when he opened the Ben 10 Alien Force annual that really made the day for his daddy and me.

Lunch was fantastic, as always (Nana does really good roast dinners) and the boy even discovered he liked Brussels sprouts. Wine, food, more presents - yeah. All good fun. Then came the inevitable building of his Lego Power Miner Mine Mech and Clone Trooper Walker, while I mostly dozed under dual effect of wine and cold. My presents included Moon, Unseen Academicals and hydrophobic sand from my beloved, and the wonderous Grandville by Bryan Talbot, as well as too many other cool stuff to mention. And some chocolate, of course.

Then we all settled down to watch TV. Well, us adults did, the Terror kept playing with his Lego. The much-awaited animated adaption of The Gruffalo as as delightful as it ought to be - beautiful, sedate with flurries of action and simply impeccable voice casting. That was definitely a winner. The much-awaited Christmas special of Doctor Who was, by contrast.....odd. It lacked the bang of the usual specials, which may be no bad thing, but I felt it fell a bit short of the epic build-up it was presumably aiming for. This is not to say there weren't parts that had me squee-ing in delight - Wilf was magnificent as ever, John Simm sold the Master's insanity wonderfully and, well, Timothy Friggin' Dalton, people! The ending was certainly jaw-droppingly over-the-top if nothing else. But as a whole, it just seemed a bit...messy. The pacing felt wrong, the Doctor was too subdued and didn't really do anything, too many questions were asked with not many answers - which might all be attributed to being only the first of a two-parter, but it fills me with dread that next week's finale might also be too rushed and fail to satisfy. I suspect if this had been the penultimate episode of a series, I'd have been quite happy with it, but it actually felt overly long for the story that it did tell. A rewatch might also be in order. As is usual with new Who (and Russell T. Davies' specials in particular) opinion online seems to be heavily divided over whether it was any good or not. Usually, my opinion is "sure, flawed, but it was fun", and I think that was the problem - Wilf and Time Lords aside, it didn't feel fun. Of course that might have been the cold, and maybe if I rewatch it when I'm feeling better I might enjoy it more. Or maybe it just wasn't that good. Now I'm just rambling...

After heading home yesterday, and finally getting boy to bed, I gave parents a quick ring and then huddled down to watch Poirot. Beautiful, and wonderful acting again, but by heck, that was a convoluted plot. I never tire of watching David Suchet as Poirot though - he really is excellent - and John Hannah of course. Even though that, and the desert archaeology, did lead to me thinking of it as "Poirot in The Mummy".

This morning we all slept in, nearly nine o'clock before boy managed to wake me up. Lazed around all day, watching cartoons and reading Grandville - steampunk noir with anthropomorphic animals. "Awesome" doesn't quite do it justice. Plotwise it might be nothing exceptional (detective investigated murder and uncovers high-level conspiracy), but the War on Terror allegories add a nice topical layer that ties in beautifully to the Franco-Anglo antipathy in this alt-history where we lost the Napoleonic wars. Actually, does it count as alt-history if all the characters are animals? Bah - who cares! This book is just bursting with imagination and truly gorgeous visuals. And The Adventures of Tintin as the opium-dreams of washout druggie Snowy? I nearly wept with pleasure.

Built and played another of the Terror's haul from Nana: the Lego game Lava Dragon. The boy was a bit disappointed the dragon didn't really play a part, but it's a neat little game with the wonderful mechanic that you build the dice as you play. Main criticism is that it's a bit too short, and if someone gets ahead then they're likely to win. Both these could be dealt with by building a bigger mountain to play on though....the true joy of these Lego games is the easy customisation!

So that's been my festive season so far. Sorry for the rambly post, trying to work on getting better at reviewing stuff. Hoping to watch Hamlet, not sure if boy will keep quiet for it though. Maybe I'll post a rambling review of that too....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time to stop caring and do another blog post

It probably won't be any good. Not least because I drank too much cider last night and am feeling rather ill this morning. Despite having got up at half seven, I'm only just starting to wake up now, at gone ten. Was a good night though, usual suspects plus one for booze and games. I don't think I did or said anything stupid, which is always a bonus, and hopefully didn't bore people too much. I do talk utter garbage when I've been drinking.

Nearly Christmas and shopping for presents is just about done. Need to get a few more for the boy, have given up trying to think of something else for SO. Another week of school and then trying to arrange times to visit friends and family for catching up and exchanging presents. I'm deliberately trying not to stress about it all too much and mostly succeeding. That'll be the apathy showing through then.

Back on antidepressants after visit to doctor. Last few weeks have just been getting worse and worse: even when I've not been actually reduced to tears, I've just been sitting around bored and unable to motivate myself to do anything. Just a general feeling of despair that this (housework, tv, game being highlight of the week) is going to be the rest of my life, along with the usual lack of confidence in myself to do anything better. Oh and the crush thing. Breaking my heart on a daily basis. No amount of telling myself not to be stupid will make it go away, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Bah. Stupid emotions. Making life complicated. Suppose I can only hope that the meds help enough for me to find motivation to do things and slowly sort stuff out. Of course, with me being depressed, hope is pretty hard to find, but I'm trying to keep things in perspective.

So there, a blog post. Sure I had more to say. Will probably regret saying what I have. But this time I'm not going to delete it, I'm going to publish it. Like so.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Song Fu

Been lazing around, being a bit ill, not really up to much. The usual but with added coughing. Anyway, after I accidentally gave all you loyal readers false hope by not realising re-setting up Twitterfeed would probably repost my latest blog post to Twitter, I thought I'd better do an actual blog post. See? I do think about you. Just not in a creepy way. Honest.

Ahem.

Anyways....let me tell you about Song Fu. This is a music competition arranged by Quick Stop Entertainment that I first became aware of a year ago when a friend (of the "larp friend" variety, i.e. someone I've probably never actually spoken to because I'm so gorram shy) called Joe Lamb begged people for votes. (Joe's stuff is quite good, you can listen to a bunch of it here.) The idea is to promote and inspire creativity in under-recognised musicians by challenging them to write and record a song on a specific idea (last time included "using only ten words" and "happiness" as challenges) in a week and visitors to the website vote for their favourites. (I'm rubbish at explaining stuff, I hope that vaguely made sense and wasn't too inaccurate.)

So, if you like quirky independent music then you should definitely go along and listen to the latest offerings. Voting is now open on Round 2, which is all about numbers, and while obviously I'd encourage you to vote for Joe "Covenant" Lamb's song "2", I'll also point out Jason Morris's geektastic "Natural 18" and Edric Haleen's "Zero Point Nine (Ad Infinitum)" which tackles a misunderstood issue close to my mathematical heart (although the pedant in me winces at the use of the word "paradox"). Lex Vader's offering is all about The Prisoner - what's not to love about that? So go, listen, vote and tell all your friends to do the same.

Now I have to go find some way to stop my toes freezing off. Be seeing you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just Another Blog Post

It's been a while. So, what have I been up to? Um...not much really. Apart from the usual moping around, not doing enough housework and whinging about it all on Twitter.

A Situation has cropped up which is currently making our social life both a bit more packed and slightly more awkward to arrange. It involves one close friend being pretty depressed and torn-up and another being bouncing-off-the-roof happy, so for us stuck in the middle its a very mixed feeling. Trying not to worry too much about the first one and mostly succeeding - seems I'm too selfish to fret about another person's feelings for too long. Got enough of my own to put up with. Stupid feelings.

Finally got round to reading Making Money. It's good. (This is why I don't try and write reviews....) Also read Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #1 - I've pretty much given up buying comics monthly due to money issues, but Locke & Key, along with X-Factor is something I can't wait for. Wondering whether to keep going with my subscription to New Scientist as I often end up reading the articles online before I even get round to breaking it out of the wrapping. Would be greener and save me money, but I'm ridiculously old-fashioned and prefer reading hard copies. And I like my money going towards the publication/production of things I enjoy. I think I'd rather drop the Radio Times, but we actually use that. Sometimes.

What else? Oh, I'm addicted to Drench, probably because its the only game I've found in a long time that doesn't frustrate me (as I suspect sometimes it's just impossible, so it's not my fault if I fail). A friend linked to this site, so I spent too much time yesterday thinking about gender and sexual identity again, trying to figure out who/what/why I am. (Conclusion: I don't know! Does it matter?) On a not-really-related topic, I finally found and started reading GeekDad and wondered why it had taken me so long. I've all but given up on writing that blog post explaining my work - it just suddenly seems like too much effort for not enough gain, and I don't know how much I can explain without it getting boring or too complicated. PLUS I'm probably oversimplifying for those of you who might actually be interested in the maths. So, yeah. Maybe one day, but not anytime soon.

And on the subject of writing, Chuck Wendig (yes, him again) has a whole host of tips on writing (including the wonderful "How (Not) To Create Characters") which I make the mistake of reading, which makes me want to start writing again. By which I mean it again makes me want to start writing - I don't think I've ever really had a sustained period wherein I actually wrote. I've always been more of a wannabe than an actual writer: I like the idea of writing more than the actual doing. I realise I'm hardly unique in this matter. But I lack enough hobbies (it seems) so my mind keeps going back to it. However, these days I don't even get the ideas (or if I do I quickly forget or try and work them into my current game). The last couple of snippets of fiction I wrote (and posted here) weren't really stories, they were yet more of me trying to explain how I feel and wrapping it up in lies and fantasies to protect it against outside interference (the "it's only a story" defence). And I don't think I can really write about, well, me: my life, my current crush, my friends. Not without upsetting people anyway! And not without me spending even more time thinking about things I don't really want to think about. I want a distraction from all that, but it clutters up my thoughts so much I can't seem to break free.

I've spent too long writing this, too. I've been moaning about having a bit of a cold, but I seem to be better now than last night so really should stop lounging around and get on with that damned housework.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Emo

I appear to be in a big "what's the point of it all" phase. Really would have thought I'd have grown out of that by now, but no. Seems growing out of things is all a big lie.

So, yeah, I know - "the little things". I'm trying to enjoy or at least do things and keep myself busy in the hope the black dog gets bored and wanders off but it doesn't seem to last and with the ongoing imagination failure I've been having too it's been getting harder and harder to think of new distractions. With my SO being stressed and similarly struggling to keep hir head above water, and this week being half term and thus having a six-year-old to entertain, somehow, I've pretty much failed to keep up the pretence of being ok. Or, at least, am in the process of failing.

Hence this blog post is here to serve simply as an apology: should I inflict my miserable self-pitying wailing on you IRL or via Twitter, I'm sorry. Hopefully it's just a blip and I'll certainly feel ashamed of myself later.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lost

In meaning, if not time and space.

Still working on that "more about my work" post. Pictures being a problem. I'm terrible at pictures. Even ones with just straight lines in them. It's this computer malarky - I'm just not that great with technology. Doors for example. Doors give me great trouble, especially car doors.....

I digress.

Lost. Yeah, I still feel fairly lost. Within spitting distance of actually submitting, which isn't quite the end of it but is a huge hurdle. Still no idea what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. Being a housewife hardly suits me, I'm rubbish at it. I've tried very hard to do housework properly but I mostly end up giving in and just doing the bare minimum to get by. Too lazy. And I get so bored and lonely. I suppose there's people I could talk to via internets but most of them are busy, and the ones who aren't I don't know that well and wouldn't know what to say. Not that I know what to say to the people I know well either mind. I'm pretty rubbish at small talk that isn't just surreal rambling. Fortunately, some people like that. Or they're just being very polite.

Was there a point to all this? Probably not. I just felt the need to write something to distract from my failure to write what I intended to. Inside I'm just a bundle of emotional turmoil and slowly coming to the conclusion that I'm not reacting the way I expected to because, shock, horror, I might actually be growing up. Or possibly I just don't care anymore. Which may or may not be the same thing. Either way, I'm not sure it's a good thing.

I hope that doesn't make any sense. I probably need to be more subtle in future.

Um...so not much has actually been happening lately and I'm sorry for wasting your time with this no-content post. Assuming you've actually read all this. If you skipped to the end, don't bother going back and starting from the beginning, m'kay?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reading, links and stuff

Ok, let's try. Been a long time, still not up to composing post on my work, so a bit more of a random update. Chuck Wendig refers to this as "painting with shotguns". My attempt is probably even less coherent than that.

First, life update. Very very nearly finished thesis. Should probably send latest draft to supervisor to have him go over it again. Kind of scared by how close I am. Have mostly been filling my days doing little bits of housework and trying not to cry. Yes, the depression is still there. Not quite worked up to going back to GP - not really sure what to ask him to try next. Not sure whether situation now is better, worse or the same as when I was on meds. Something to mull over before deciding how best to manage this illness.

The Terror is nearly six and we've mostly organised his birthday party. Go us. Need to chase up a few people to see if they're coming or not and actually pay for it this week. Then sort out his present.

Our TV broke. We're getting a spare one from my granddad next time my parents come down, but we've been coping ok for now. Annoying that it happened right at the time the new series of Peep Show had just started, and FlashForward and True Blood...Still, means I've been doing more reading instead.

Finished Lucifer, which built to a fantastic finish and then carried on for another volume - not that any of it was bad or unwelcome, just not quite hitting the highs of the previous books. Mike Carey is definitely on my list of "buy more" writers (the only reason he's not on my "buy all" list is because he's so damned prolific). Also read last "proper" Changeling: the Lost book - Swords at Dawn (there's the pdf only Goblin Markets which I'm sorely tempted by despite not usually buying pdfs). I love that whole gameline. I have so so many ideas for Changeling games I could probably run nothing else for the rest of my life (but my players might have other plans). The story-lite I posted earlier today was probably as much influenced by Changeling as by my own stupid obsession. Another notable read this week was Umbrella Academy: Dallas. There aren't really the words. If you haven't experienced the sheer genius, the wonderful surreal madness that is Umbrella Academy, then go read it now. You won't regret it.

No, seriously, go read it now. It's much more interesting than this post.

And finally I'll finish by rounding up some of the stuff I've found (or rather, had pointed out to me) on the internet lately. All shared on Google Reader, so you've probably seen it already. There's the cool stuff: LEGO chrome bricks, maps warped by population density, the Ig-Nobel prizes and XKCD being awesome as always. There's the serious stuff: a petition to the UK gov. allow "other" as an official option when recording gender. And there's both: LEGO's 2010 calendar with all profits going to the National Autistic Society. I think that's it for now.

Ok, my next task is to write the next step of the explanation of my work. I suspect I'll fail and not blog again for a month or two. Until then....

[Short-short story] Incubus

He haunts my dreams. I don't recall for how long. Just that at some point, he's always been there. Handsome, with urbane wit and a sly smile, I fell for him instantly. Hard. There was no seduction involved and none needed; the attraction was too strong to be resisted and with the conversation-less ease that exists only in dreams, I went from seeing him, to being in his arms, to being in his bed. I was his.

Each night he returns. The dreams started getting longer, wilder, more intense, and I started waking up exhausted. I'd think about him more and more during the day, ignoring more and more of my life to lose myself in my fantasies. Thoughts of him lay heavy on my mind and I longed to see him again, welcoming each night as a chance to return to his embrace.

Now he haunts my days as well. I barely need to close my eyes to see his face, his voice answers unspoken thoughts, and I can almost feel his touch as if he were right beside me even now. And as much as I long to be with him, to feel his soft skin against mine, I know I need to find a way to escape.

Because I'm starting to get afraid. He's more arrogant, more demanding, crueler. As he pushes his way into my waking life, he becomes more confident, more eager, hungrier. I don't know what he wants and I daren't ask, but I have worked out what he's using me for and I'm scared that the right thing to do is to stop him. Scared because I don't think I can. I don't think I have the strength to tear myself away, to ignore him and push him away. To forget.

I love him so very very much.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Epiphany

Every day is a succession of suppressed urges.

That's what it is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Meh

Still can't think of anything worthwhile to say. Or even different from "life is same as ever". So tired so much of the time - had blood test but that came back fine so it's not anemia. Could be side-effect/withdrawal from meds (cut dose, going to come off). So bored most of the time as well. Occasional bouts of happiness or contentment which just don't last anywhere near long enough. Have just lost interest in most of my life. Hopefully PhD will be over soon. Then I'll have less stress for a bit. Maybe I'll even get round to blogging more.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gender, and other things

So time for my inevitable post about gender identity. Been a while brewing, but probably not any better for it. Was the topic of conversation of a sort the other night and today (well, yesterday technically) a friend gave me a "trans ally" badge (or "not a jerk" badge as someone put it).So now is as good as ever.

For those you don't know (and I doubt anyone actually reading this doesn't) my beloved partner/fiance/baby-father is bi-gender (the hyphen is useful, or people might think one if talking about Blefuscudians or something).  As sie puts it - somedays she's a girl, other days he's a boy. Gendered pronouns get a bit confusing as one would imagine - several people (myself included, unfortunately) tend to default to male pronouns (having been used to knowing him as male for so long), others default to female which she would probably prefer. And often we use gender neutral pronouns (specifically "sie" and "hir"), which I will use in this blog post at least.

And to be perfectly honest, the pronouns issue is the biggest problem for me. We always used to joke that sie was more of a girl than I was and that we got the gender roles the wrong way round in our house. The revelation (to both of us, as sie told me as soon as sie got hir own head sorted) a few years ago didn't really change the way I viewed hir or felt about hir. I think that in itself took me by surprise more - I had the feeling that I ought to be more bothered or at least have some opinion. But no, it was just a "ok then" and some effort to try and remember and adjust my language accordingly. When sie "came out" more recently, I was nervous for hir, but as more and more people were told and accepted it just as naturally as I had, and hir confidence and general happiness increased I was happier too and brimming with pride that sie'd overcome a major obstacle (more internal than external) and was becoming the person sie always should have been. Even the name change wasn't as much of a problem as I'd anticipated, and our son just accepted it in the way kids just do. He's less accepting of the idea that his daddy might be a girl occasionally, but then he also says boys can't have long hair, so what does he know? He's five - he's still learning about this gender thing.

But then, aren't we all? Gender isn't about stereotypes after all. While my beloved delights in nail varnish and can chat happily with workmates about clothes, I really don't grok the whole make-up thing at all. And, sure, clothes can be pretty, and so can jewellry, but ultimately I just want something to keep me warm/cover me up so I can go out in public. The only clothes I'm likely to get excited about are Last Exit To Nowhere t-shirts or the like. It was my fiance who started me wearing skirts and tighter fitting clothes, and admitting being a girl wasn't all bad. I think if not for hir I'd still be wearing geeky t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms. And for every "typical woman" behaviour I engage in, I bet I can find a "typical male" one as well. I don't really "forget" I'm a woman, I just joke I do, but I've never really considered it an important part of my identity, and hearing feminists talk makes me wonder if I'm missing something. Yet apparently I'm a cisgendered woman. I see no reason why I shouldn't be.

And I have no idea what it really is about. I'm hardly an expert and am not in the right frame of mind at the moment to even begin to guess. Because really gender is just another label, and labels are neither a good nor a bad thing inherently but exist mostly for societal convenience. Mostly, but not exclusively. Some people, like my SO, and to a lesser extent myself, feel the need to apply labels to things, including themselves, in order to better understand them. And of course one always want to be able to understand as much as possible, especially oneself. So labels like gender, sexuality, ethnicity etc are as much about a person defining themself as declaring "This is who I am" as they are about society or PTB categorizing people and declaring "This is who you are". Which is why a limited set of labels, defined by the relevant authority, is a bad thing. Which is why binary gender is a bad thing. And forcing people to choose one, when they'd much rather choose both, or neither, or something else entirely, is not only a bad thing from a personal liberty point of view, it also misses out on potentially important information about the sheer variety of people that can and do exist. (I hope that makes sense.)

I drifted off-topic slightly I think. It's late, I'm getting tired as the coffee wears off, and I doubt I really have anything useful left to say. My point was intended to be that I don't judge people by labels, most people I know don't either, and that a person doesn't really change just because the label changes. I call a person by the name they want to be known by as that is the polite  thing to do. Likewise, I refer to people by the pronoun set they choose, the title they choose, whatever, because that is simply the polite thing to do. I accept that people have the right to be who they want to be, regardless of whether I understand why they feel that way, and get rather angry at other people who think it's any of their business. I guess that's why I qualified for a "not a jerk" badge.

And just because I muttered a bit about labels - here's the list I think apply to me. I'm a cisgendered, heteroflexible, heterosocial, atheistic, liberal, social phobic, chronic depressive, female geek. Although once again I almost forgot the "female" part. Maybe I do forget I'm a woman occasionally.

--
tl;dr - gender is confusing, people are who they are.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Idiot's Guide to My Work (Part One)

Idiot's Guide as in a Guide written by an Idiot, you understand. I don't expect it to be helpful to other Idiots.

So I'm busy avoiding writing a thesis entitled Rational R-matrices and the Exceptional Lie Algebras. (Actually I'm not being too successful at the avoidance: I might even be nearly finished. In a month or two.) As "algebra" is a word that seems to make most people's eyes glaze over, I think I'll leave all the maths for a bit and talk instead about particle physics. But not the hard bits, so don't worry.

Prevailing scientific wisdom states that everything is made up of small particle-like things (only particle-like because of quantum, y'see). I'm not going to delve into it, because it's largely irrelevant and I don't really understand it all myself. In fact, all I really need is for you to believe that people might be interested in what particles do and how they interact, like in places like CERN where they smash particles into one another to see what they get.



Now, as theorists, we try and say something about what happens when particles collide like this. In other words, we try and describe the "Something happens" bit. (We use Maths! for this of course. In particular, we model the particles as existing in some vector space and look at algebras acting on that space. Which algebra we pick dictates how the particles can interact.) There are lots of different possible ways particles could interact, but we're interested not only in sensible ways, but in easy-to-describe ways and want to end up with maths we can actually work with. (This is the big secret of science, I suppose. We pick a theory not only because it works [sort of] but because it's understandable and easy to make predictions with. Shh, don't tell anyone.) A particularly nice set of rules for particle interaction are what we call integrable theories - amongst other things these say we need only consider two particles at a time.

So we look at a situation where two particles go in, and two come out. The thing that describes what happens in the middle is what physicists called a scattering matrix - or S-matrix for short.



This has to satisfy various conditions for the theory to be integrable, but the only one I'm really interested in is the consistency condition for three particle interactions. Because we are only looking at two particles at a time, if three particles collide we split that up into three sets of two-particle interactions. The consistency condition is that it doesn't matter what order we do it in:



This is called the Yang-Baxter Equation and my thesis pretty much consists of constructing and checking solutions to it. Now the eagle-eyes among you will have noticed my thesis title mentions R-matrices, not S-matrices - that's because I'm a mathematician, and not really interested in scattering matrices at all. Fooled you! But you can chalk it up to historical reasons and a difference in terminology if you like, and still think about particles interacting whenever I bleat on about R-matrices.

Ok, that's Part One done. Not sure when (if ever) I'll get round to doing Part Two - I have a thesis to avoid finish writing after all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poll results and GEF

Ok, first off - poll's over and it looks like Maths/Science/Technology is the winner, closely followed by Parenting and Gender/Sexual Identity. So I better start thinking of things along those lines to blog about. Mental Illness, New/Politics and Tanks might get a token mention at some point.

But first - my weekend. The three of us went off to the Great Erdrejan Fayre at Locko Park. The weather stayed surprisingly dry but a bit too hot for the likes of us. We decided to let the Terror get involved with the kiddie plot and he apparently behaved himself (at least we had no complaints and he was good when I tagged along for the final encounter). He spent most of the rest of weekend following one group of children or another around and disobeying my orders to tell me where he was going before he went, but I think we struck a reaonable balance between allowing him his freedom and keeping an eye on him for safety. I think I missed him more than he missed me, anyway!

So I spent a fair amount of time in camp where he could find me if he needed to, but with nothing really to do. A bit of time on the gate, a lot of time dozing in the shade....obviously I did some healing, and even got to help out in a rite which was a bit scary (not least when we all got Decayed). But mostly I was an observer again - I do seem to treat larp as more of a spectator sport but there is still the possibility of my confidence growing and getting involved I suppose.

My SO had a good time, if being too busy to do the one thing sie wanted to do this weekend. There were some tears and snappiness on Monday morning as I stupidly forgot to take my meds and was stressed about packing up, but other than that I think I was mostly ok, if a little bored at times. Kept looking round traders thinking of stuff to get for my next character - but I doubt changing character would really get me more involved as it's still my shyness I need to overcome. On the plus side, we didn't drink much so came home with almost as much booze as we left with!

Ok, next blog post will be about....maths. Or science. Or technology. Or something.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New poll!

Well, I do keep meaning to write more and write more about stuff that isn't jusy how crap I'm feeling. But I think I need some incentive so I've created a poll which you should be able to see over there ----> just below the About Me bit. As I know at least - what, two, three? - people read this, I'll be disappointed if no-one or only Tom answers. As I'm sure you'll notice by the square boxes it's a "select as many options as you like" style poll, and feel free to suggest other topics by commenting on this post.

Then you might just have to poke me to actually write something, but we'll cross that bridge when forced to by the advancing tanks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Geekdom

The geek demigod that is Wil Wheaton has recently made an interesting post on his blog. Which got me thinking about my own self-identification as a geek.

I've always been different. No doubt about that. I may have been one of the popular kids in infant school but I soon grew out of that as I wanted to play games about mad scientists or superheroes and others just didn't. So I ended up with the ones who did - the ones who would play at Star Trek in the playground while other girls decided they were getting too old for make believe games. And yeah, sure, I stopped playing make believe for quite a while too, eventually. I got my kicks from books and TV instead.

I read SF and Terry Pratchett. I dabbled with Fighting Fantasy books and played with my brother's Advanced Heroquest more than he did. I wanted to be a physicist or an engineer or (finally) a mathematician when I got older. I soon decided I wasn't going to "grow up" - mathematicians never do, do they? And when I went to uni I was pretty convinced I was a geek and an outsider and so, being shy and stubborn, I didn't go out of my way to try and fit in. So I had a pretty lonely time really.

Until I might this guy. And he was a geek - a real one. A gamer who programmed and read real fantasy series and knew stuff - trivia and geeky stuff that I could never remember in a million years. (I think my brain just doesn't do well at retention of facts.) And so I got into Magic: the Gathering, and roleplaying, and pretty much discovered I loved it all.

And of course, now I was actually hanging out with geeks I discovered...how ungeeky I am. Or rather, how much a newbie I am. I've only been roleplaying five and a bit years now and haven't really played a lot of games in that time (the Terror gets in the way a bit). I don't code - I probably should learn something but I have great difficulty learning anything new as I don't have the patience and with programming something just doesn't seem to gel. I don't think the right way. (Must be because I'm a girl - ha!) And while I use Ubuntu I still have to look everything up whenever I need to do something. I don't really know how computers or operating systems or any of the programs actually work at all. There are tons and tons of films I just haven't seen - although Beloved and friends have been working on that. I've never played with numbers or shapes just to see how they fit together. I don't get the urge to take things apart to see how they work. And every area of geekiness I touch on, I just seem to fall short in some way. I'm a wannabe.

But you know what? I'm fine with that. So what if I'm the Eternal Newbie? At least I'm trying. I just feel guilty about calling myself a geek sometimes. But you guys don't mind, right?
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Time for an update?

I don't know what to say though. Same old s**t. Plodding on. Ups and downs. Downs seem to outnumbering the ups though. Which is possibly why I don't feel like saying much. I know most of my thoughts are illogical and I can just about cling on to the hope things will improve and I won't always feel this way. I know the things I should be doing and thinking and sometimes I even manage them. That doesn't stop now hurting any less though.
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Thursday, April 30, 2009

too tired/drunk for proper sentences

Daddy away - larp. s'good.

Lately been...funny mood. Up, down, stressed, apathetic. Some of it hormones, some of it the depression...maybe some of medicine, who knows? Some things getting easier though. Managed to talk to people on phone. Managed to write emails to people I know and people I didn't. Didn't punch wall or pounce on people I shouldn't. All improvements I guess.

Last night I got to play a bit of D&D 4th ed - SO running a Primal only game, me playing druid. Despite only three of us, we did quite well in the mindless fights he threw at us. Made a change from the stress of GMing and could be quite fun if it keeps on going.

Tonight was feeling...blah. Put Terror to bed. Missing Daddy, missing Other - person I shouldn't miss but I do. Stupid feelings. Friend(s) came round and slowly cheered me up - wine and Resident Evil (the film) were involved. I may have done the drunk rambling at them - hope i wasn't too boring.

This update was purely because it's been a while and I'm not quite asleep. Not sure why I bothered. I should go sleep now. Have to get Terror to school in morning and do work and survive four days without my Beloved. Hope s/he has good time though - deserves it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Certain Lack of Direction

Or motivation. Or something anyway.

I've mostly been ok. Had a good birthday last Saturday - pleasant day with family, my mother came down to visit and looked after the Terror while we went out with a whole group of friends. Pub afterwards - all very enjoyable. Sunday was also good, and yesterday not too bad despite the occasional tantrum. We went to the National Rail Museum, which enteratained all three of us to some degree or other.

And today again was ok. Terror was excited about going back to school, I coped ok with appointment at bank and doing stuff around town. I wish I hadn't agreed to upgrading my account as I doubt we'll use any of the benefits and the increased interest rate doesn't quite pay for itself. But at least it's prompted me to reorganise finances, and ringing up to cancel will be another exercise in talking on the phone.

Still, I do feel occasionally....at a loose end. Not quite motivated to do housework (I did none today for example). Scared of things I should be looking forward to. Not sure of my ability to run a game even, despite everyone seeming to think it'll be ok. And while I had a pleasant evening (wine and Sleepy Hollow) now friends have gone home and it looks like I'll be in bed before my beloved returns from hir work "do", I can't help feeling just a little melancholy again. There's just always this fear hanging over me. A fear of not doing the job I set myself well enough. A fear of letting people down. A fear of not finding a place in this world for myself. A combination of the alcohol and depression talking no doubt - but it always seems to be there in the back of my mind. I just forget it occasionally. That and the other thing - the love I wish I could just accept and forgive myself for, knowing it too will pass. But as forgiving and accepting as my better half is, I know it pains hir so. So I hate that part of myself too.

Blogging when tired and tipsy is never a good thing, and yet as people keep insisting they want to know what the matter is, maybe I should tell them. It is simply this. I know I'm ill and I just have to keep going on. I have a lot to be thankful and happy for. Things won't be as bad as I fear. But these quiet moments just creep up on me and my heart sinks. That's all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stupid feelings

So when the person I'm supposed to go to when I'm upset is away and busy, who do I turn to then? The person I want to talk to or the person who will actually want to talk to me? I'll settle for neither. I'll try and not be all attention-seeking and update my Facebook/Gmail status/Twitter with depressive, angsty statements (does that count as passive-aggressive behaviour? It's certainly a dumb thing to do.) I'll try and get some work done or failing that read or play games or something to try and distract myself from this stupid stupid mood I've gotten myself into.

I don't know whether I'm going to cry or not. I've been doing that a lot lately, but I'm still plucking up the courage to go make another doctor's appointment. Should just get it over and done with I suppose.

Tried a bit more of that MoodGYM I started trying a while back. I stopped for quite a while because I reached some exercises I was having difficulty doing. Not too suprisingly I failed to do any more today, mostly because the first involved asking other people how's they'd feel/react in a similar situation to something that upset me. So not only could I not think of a recent situation which triggered bad feelings in me, I don't have anyone else to ask right now. So then I wound up feeling even worse.

Apparently I'm still doing well at actually getting things done. Well, I will have been if I managed housework/writing today and don't let the Terror play computer games all afternoon like yesterday. So I should be proud of myself for that at least. But I'm not. I'm just all choked up with these feelings I can't control, thoughts that I know I shouldn't be thinking and the only way I know to make it all go away is to wait. And eventually I'll find someone else to obsess over, but there might be a brief respite in between. Maybe I'll get some different drugs and I'll be able to focus on work more, and won't feel like bursting into tears every half hour.  Maybe I'll eventually finish this damned thesis and maybe I'll even get a  job I can stand doing in the end and everything will turn out ok.

But right now, life sucks. And it shouldn't.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

I Don't Like Mondays

I mean, I start off with the best of intentions, but I'm not really a morning person so I get up tired and grumpy and help get the Terror off to school. Then plod into work after remembering to put the rubbish out and sit down and waste time on the internet first. And then it's not even coffee time, so I have to start work.

If I even have a clue where to start, where I left it last week, or what I intended to do this week. Which most of the time I don't. So I have to start from scratch again.

And I have a great deal of inertia to get over before I can even start. Especially these days when positive thoughts slip out of my mind as easily as water out of a sieve. And apathy fills me up until I can barely move from the weight. My usual problem was acute anxiety attacks whenever I tried to force myself to work. I'd panic, start crying, mind a blank and unable to do anything other than fret that I should be doing work and yet I'm not. But not today. Today is just dull, and my efforts to force a work ethic into my natural lazy self are being met with a stubborn "meh". Tears welling up, but I don't want to cry so much as curl up and go to sleep. Vaguely aware I'm probably making it worse for myself just because I expect it to be hard, but I don't think I have the strength of character to just push through it and work anyway.

I suppose best I can do is try and distract myself with make-work, then maybe I'll get into the swing of things and accidentally end up doing something productive. That would be the sensible thing to do. Whether I do that or not, I have no idea. I don't know if I'm even in control of me anymore. I don't know who "me" is, j don't think I'm capable of being the person I want to be. Not without several years more practice.

Ok, rambling now. Should work. Hoped this would make me feel better, but don't think it did. Bah.
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

In Which I Try This Blogging Thing Again

Although apparently it's been less than a week since my last post - it just feels longer I guess.

I keep meaning to write long ramble-y posts about things that have been on my mind but never quite get round to it. I've got one somewhere in here about gender and social expectations sort of thing, but I think I'll let that one ferment a bit longer. I also keep meaning to start explaining my work - get some maths in here! - but again I'm not quite ready. I probably ought to talk more about depression, social anxiety, love, parenting...all sorts of things I might actually have legitimate views  on, but I still can't quite get over the fear that people will take things the wrong way because I won't express myself adequately. (Or more worryingly, that people will take things exactly how I mean them, but won't like it.)

So I'll blather about what I've been up to instead. Which is not a lot really. This week has mostly been more of the same with regards to failing to get much work done, and falling back on Lego games on the Wii as ways of entertaining the Terror. On Tuesday, however, I did go and talk to a geneticist in Leeds see this for why. She was a nice woman with a great way of explaining about cancer - it's all about camels you see. Imaginary ones. We all have a camel, and our lifestyle, diet etc contain things that put straws on our camel's back and for a lot of us (one in three or so) that eventually gets too much and the camel can't take anymore (which is why we get cancer). Most people's camels have an empty back when they're born, but some people's camels already have some straw, which is why it takes less extra straw for them to get cancer. Ok, she explained it better. After she went through a lot of things I already knew, and some I didn't, and some I did but hadn't really thought about, she left me to get back in touch if I decide to go ahead with the testing (or if I want counselling etc first). I think I'm leaning towards getting tested, although maybe not just yet, as I can't have screening until I'm 30 anyway.

Friday was a bit of a stressful day too as we had electricians in, but our wonderful landlord house sat so I could go to work. And more importantly, so I could gatecrash YCCSA's doughnut club. And then the Terror had to be rushed home from school and out again to a friend's birthday party at York City FC. We neglected to look up directions beforehand and, knowing roughly where it was, optimistically presumed there would be at least a signpost or something when we got closer. Ha. Still, we weren't the last to arrive, and mostly the kids had a great time (the sole girl sat out quite a bit of games, and there were one or two tears at falls or bumped heads).

Today, a friend had planned to make up for an unacceptable state of affairs - namely, me never having seen The Empire Strikes Back. We decided to take this opportunity to introduced the Terror to Star Wars as well, although he did get bored during the slower bits of A New Hope and abandoned us for an hour or so. He sat through most of the second film though and wants to see more soon. I suppose eventually we'll have to let him watch the prequels too....

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who Watches?

I'd write a review but I doubt I could do it justice. My main regret is that it took over a week to get  a babysitter so we could go see it, and that we're unlikely to be able to see it again at the cinema. To sum up: when the only criticism you have of a film is that it doesn't have Rorschach jumping out of a fridge - that's a pretty damn good film.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

[Short short story] It follows me everywhere

I was nervous at first. Well who wouldn't be? Something that big wandering around on its own....But it just followed me and didn't seem threatening so I started to relax. It followed me all the way home. It stayed outside the first few nights then managed to sneak in somehow. Don't ask me how. I was sure my landlord would object, but no amount of cajoling would get it to leave again so I gave up. It sleeps at the foot of my bed.

Well I say sleeps...

No, I never fed it. Actually, it doesn't seem to need to eat. Strange creature really. Kind of beautiful with those deep eyes and glossy black fur....and so large it should dominate the room but so quiet most of the time no-one seems to notice it. Which is kind of why I was surprised you asked. See, this may sound crazy, but I thought I was the only one who could see it....

I know! But all my friends and family - they haven't said a word. My landlord didn't object after all and even work let it in without a fuss. I suppose it must be because it's so well behaved. Never makes a sound. Just follows me around, keeps me company. Only...I think it scares other people. I mean, my friends - I have friends. Honest. They just don't seem to come round any more. And no-one at work talks to me much (not that they ever did mind). So it keeps me company instead.

I wouldn't say like. I've just got used to it. What else can I do really? It follow me everywhere.
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Monday, March 9, 2009

Feeling.....something

Or maybe nothing. Not sure. Feel strange anyway. Not sad, not scared as such, just...insecure. Like I want to go and hide.
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Wait, what social anxiety?

I seem to be getting better at this going into shops thing. Sunday I rushed into town to get a last minute surprise present for Daddy - who turned 30 on Monday, shhh! Don't tell anyone - and after staring in desperation at the bottles of sherry in Oddbins admitted to the shopkeeper I didn't have a clue and he pointed out the only sweet sherry they had in. We also discussed the possibility of port, but unfortunately the only bottle of that they had in appeared to be leaking, so that ruled that out. Still, I bought the sherry (a sweet oloroso) and it was much appreciated.

Today, I finally caved and decided we should "waste our money on cough medicine", despite the doctor's advice. Daddy has been struggling with a cough for some weeks now, and it's worn him out utterly. His reluctance to take things easy to start with probably didn't help. Last weekend I did manage to persuade him to spend most of the days in bed and he's only been working part-time this week and crashing out in the afternoons. Having done a little research, I went to the local pharmacy and asked for cough medicine. Explained a bit, chatted and decided to get the strongest non-drowsy dry cough syrup. We'll have to wait and see whether it actually helps or not.

So it appears the trick is to be too tired or stressed to worry about saying the right thing. Whether this works as well on the telephone as in person, only time will tell. Although I still have to resort to being rude to cold callers: "Sorry, I'm not interested," hang up before they have time to start talking again. I feel a bit mean as they're only doing their job, but if they're paid on commission then they're just wasting their time on me. So maybe I'm doing them a favour....

In other news, I'm being tired and irritable all the time, although this might be due solely to having more to do while Daddy has not been well. Work is also not going well. Social life (such as it is) is full of tension and other tired and irritable people. The Terror is still pushing although that might be because he's tired and irritable too. Solution - spiking the water with laudanum.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Breakdown

I suppose I have been under a bit more stress than usual. Various factors including Daddy's illness, pressure of work, the Terror being off school this last week and in a particularly stubborn frame of mind for some time before that....yes, ok, I've been trying my best but I was bound to break at some point or other.

I just wish it hadn't been in front of friends.

At least this time I only cried. And lost my temper a little. But at least I didn't physically hurt anyone, not even myself. That's an improvement, right?

Hopefully that's released some pressure which means I can keep going for a while longer. I suppose in the long run, I'll just have to learn that I'm not in fact omnipotent and can't do everything and that what I do is enough, even if it's not everything I wish it could be.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Apologies

I keep finding myself saying "I'm sorry." I think it's starting to get on people's nerves.

But I am sorry - for not being strong enough to keep going when I'm feeling low; for burdening everyone with my mood swings; for lying and saying "I'm ok" when I really don't feel it; for losing my temper when you don't deserve it; for interfering after saying I wouldn't; for not being there for you when you need me; for not being able to look after you when you're ill; for not knowing what to do or say to make you feel better; for not having the courage to do what needs to be done; and, most of all, for not being the person you deserve.

And now that's out of the way, I suppose I better get on with doing things I've been putting off.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

$%&* and other such swear words

In my son's words, "We're very upset because some naughty people have stealed Daddy's brand new bike he got yesterday."

Looks like they climbed over the top of the wall after failing to break down the gate. Of course it wasn't chained to anything - there's nothing to chain it to - the other bikes have been fine there for ages under the tarpaulin. It might have been a random theft with very unlucky timing or....he was seen putting it in the yard and it was a targeted theft. Which means even if it had been chained up it probably still would have been nicked.

We've had tears, self-recrimination, frustration and annoyance at the world as a whole. I think I'm starting to get over it and plan how to take better care of the next bike. But then it wasn't my 30th birthday present.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Socialization Week

Or something, anyway. Crazy snowy weather meant the friend who was supposed to be coming to stay on Tuesday arrived late Wednesday instead - so the first real event of the week was a Tangency meet-up on Wednesday lunch time. We mostly sat in a pub and I had lunch with people I'd just met while Daddy went to pick up the Terror. I coped surprisingly well. Thursday was town again for comics (Scott Pilgrim 5!) and to show guest around York a little bit. And much chatting and some playing of Carcassonne. Friday was more random chat with guest, then meal out with Nana, then T&C round for wine and something - we settled on watching first series of Black Books which I don't think I'd actually seen any of and was fantastic. Probably drank too much wine though.

Today, Daddy was even more ill than he had been all week, but bravely stayed at a child's birthday party with me, as we watched a bunch of five-year-olds get more and more hyper and then watch them stuff themselves with food and cake. It was quite scary. So by afternoon we were both shattered and fell asleep while T was watching Wall-E with the Terror. J came round and took the Terror for a bit so we could go and get Daddy's birthday present early. He got a nice shiny new bike, as old one was old, heavy, and needs chain replacing before can be used again. Hopefully this means he can go back to taking Terror to school on their bikes (we have a tow-bar thing). Then it was the usual weekend stuff of trying to get housework done while entertaining the Terror and putting up with friends being huffy at each other or just plain obstinate, and trying not to interfere.

Tomorrow we have board games with people from Daddy's work. That should be fun. If the Terror, and other children, behave themselves.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thesis Avoidance

I know I can do this. I know that my fears of not being able to do well enough are what is holding me back, and it is better to try and do something then to panic and do nothing. I know it doesn't have to be perfect first time, and even rough notes will do as a start. I know I just need to take deep breaths and calm down. I know if I just try and do a little bit, something will get done and I'll feel better. I know even small progress is some progress. I know people believe in me, that I have managed in the past when I though I couldn't.

I know all this.


So why am I still crying?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I've just finished reading X-Factor #39

Peter David - you bastard.

No, I'm not going to spoil it, I'm not really going to say much other than I'm still a bit numb like the horror hasn't really sunk in. And it might not ever. I'm kind of grateful that I've been losing interest in the series or that really would have hurt. I usually get a bit down when I realise I'm not enjoying stuff that I used to look forward to (and the fact I hadn't got round to reading last week's comic until today kind of says how bothered I am at the moment) but in a way it's a blessing - I'm not always great at suspending my empathy and remembering it's only a story.

I think I'll probably get the next few issues and see how it goes, but this is definitely one story arch I won't be rereading.

Bastard. Really.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

GM Performance Anxiety

I really should be doing prep for my game tomorrow, but decided to drink cider and surf t' 'net. And blog about gaming, as I haven't really been doing well at the "write" resolution.

I've been making an effort to get interested in RPGs and GMing generally as I'd been running my D&D game for a bit now and mostly drifting...reading some books, yes, but nothing really beyond that. So I've tried to read more threads on RPGnet and found a blog on GMing which admittedly I've only really glanced at. I actually have no idea what I'm going to write here...was going to describe my game a bit but that might be boring. Well, I'll summarise.

My original idea was an Order of the Stick style game where the characters knew the rules and had some idea about how narrative drives events. As the Terror had been watching a lot of the '80s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, I then went with the whole "ordinary people transported into world of fantasy idea". Which naturally led to the set-up of the PCs being players in their first ever 4th ed D&D game who ended up in the game world, inhabiting the bodies of their characters. Much confusion followed. Especially as two of my players decided to play old characters from previous (non-D&D) games and one decided to play one of the others. Or something. As it is, they're mostly tromping around doing usual adventurer-style stuff and I've failed to find a way to use the "Dungeonmaster" NPC to any effect - mostly due to a lack of plotting on my part. I really should be planning for tomorrow's session.

There are many things I feel I should be doing better as a GM. Sessions seem to drag - I never know what my NPCs are going to say, don't really have a grasp of the rules and occasionally forget that I'm allowed to just make an ad-hoc decision without looking stuff up. Players are distracted and getting them back on track is beyond me. Still have no idea if some of them are even enjoying it, beyond an excuse to hang out with friends. Maps, I am useless at, so combat tends to be a bit haphazard as we put together bits and pieces of map tiles and lego. Still haven't thought ahead very much about what treasure to give out, let alone how I'm going to throw enough encounters at them to progress at the rate I intended (seems a natural "story" is not quite a level's worth). I guess most of this will work out by itself in time, and if I actually could be bothered to think ahead a bit more and do more prep (which I really should be doing now) I might feel more in control. A lot of this is stuff I've struggled with right from the beginnings of my attempts to GM, and some (indecision, lack of characterisation and underwhelming NPCs) is a problem in my roleplaying as a whole.

As a player, I started off with simple, combat-focused characters, who mostly did nothing until a fight broke out and then attacked the nearest thing. And really, I haven't progressed much beyond that. Ok, with Bob - my ranger in J's Ravenloft campaign - I have had some ok roleplay. It's Ravenloft, he's gone crazy. He's currently an alcoholic who violently attacks his own reflection and trusts no-one except his companion wolf. But this means he still mostly just tags along with the rest of the party, occasionally doing ranger-y things, and getting drunk at every available opportunity. My attempts to be a more social-orientated character in a Weapons of the Gods game were...poor, frankly. Despite being surrounded only by friends of some years, I still get "stage-fright" about roleplaying and fail to think of the right things to say or do. Even in a "my character does X" way. The pressure is more intense when GMing, even though I'm sure most of my players would be happy if I just chucked hoard after hoard of zombies at them. Or dragons, or kobolds or whatever.

Again, I set my standards too high for myself. But there is no harm in trying to better. I just wish I knew how.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Need More Coffee

Still tired after the weekend. Daddy was away plotting evil things yesterday so I had a full day of the Terror - despite help from friends with more patience than I thought humanly possible it was still a struggle. No housework done and really I don't care - I got to have my whisky for Burns' Night in the end so that was something.

But dragging myself out of bed this morning was a struggle. Not that anything is particularly bad today, it's just another Monday. Sleep never seems to rest me, I don't know if I'm getting too little or too much. Anxieties about work, motherhood, housekeeping just keep building up. I try not to worry about other people who mean more to me than they'll ever know. Try to rationalise to myself there's nothing I can say that they don't already know, nothing i can do to help, that it's none of my business and it'll probably all work out in the end. Still occupies my mind, still hurts to see others pretending they're ok when they're obviously not. Even casual acquaintances have problems or illnesses which I wish I could say something about to...not help, but show support. That type of social impulse which proves to myself I'm not on the autistic spectrum, but I still don't know what to say or have the courage to say it. Horrific news that I can barely cope with but doesn't seem to affect anyone i know in the same way - just more bad stuff happening in a bad world. I seem to be building a tolerance to that one at least, I can read the headlines again. Most days.

And through this fog of angst I have to pick my way through another day - following routines meant to help that just make me feel worse. Exercise, bath, work, exercise, lunch, maybe some housework, work, head to school....that's supposed to be the easy bit of the day, but I need to fight myself as much as I end up fighting with the Terror. I want to just go back to bed, curl up and cry or lose myself in fantasies about how it could all be so much better. I suppose it's progress that I don't just do that, that I do face the day and try and do things even though I often fail and end up in tears or hating myself. Avoid that negative thinking - I don't always fail, I just set my standards too high sometimes. And I dislike things being difficult, but that's just tough. Life is difficult. I still have to live it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dangers of Warpy Thoughts

I'm still waiting to pick up my prescription. Last few days have not been fun, but I'll put that down to withdrawal badly timed to coincide with beginning work again. Still, I've managed to get a small but non-zero amount of new things written down in my thesis, so I can't say to myself "I've done nothing this week".

In lieu of any actual help from the PCT Mental Health Team, I've been going it alone for a bit now, and my next step in trying CBT on myself has been joining up to MoodGYM. I flew through the first few pages because I know all about the warped, negative, thinking associated with depression, and I'd like to think I'm getting better at identifying it in myself, but I still have problems actually replacing it with something. So I'll let you know how (and if) this helps.

What prompted this post was that I've just finished reading an interesting article in the New Scientist about "emotional contagion" - how our behaviour and feelings are influenced by those around us and the people they hang out, and the people they hang out with in turn. Read the article, it explains it much better than I could here. Near the end, it points out that actually cutting ties with established friends may be going too far, but perhaps we should spend less time with people whose traits we do not wish to share - like negative thinking. Naturally, my negative-thinking brain thought, "true, I shouldn't inflict my bad moods on friends as it'll just bring them down". Fortunately I managed to halt half-way through the "they're better off without me" and stopped myself from withdrawing further into gloomy thoughts...but it did lead to a few minutes reflection on how "I'm so miserable no-one wants to be my friend" is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And of course, I'm one of the lucky ones who has friends. Many more people with social anxiety or an autistic spectrum disorder (or indeed, other problems) suffer from social isolation and depression and being reminded that we as a species are inherently social animals is as bad as being given the impression that people avoid them because they have "undesirable" traits - true as that may be. I had half a mind to write a stern letter to the NS about their responsibility towards such people, but realised that was a bit unfair. It's society as a whole that is biased against those who are not "normal". I'm fairly NT actually, but get riled about anything that discriminates against people with autism - and my own mental health problems are enough to mean that I struggle with a society that just assumes you can talk to someone on the telephone, say. And occasionally I feel the need to be the one who stands up and says "hang on a minute, you can't treat us like this just because we're can't complain" and promote understanding of autism and social anxiety and other disorders which cause complications with everyday social interaction. We need an advocate - someone to tell the "normal" people what it's like, to point out we are not incapable of finding a place in society if only they'd let us and make sure the disability equality legislation is applied (as it should be) to us as well.

Of course, someone capable of doing all that would be unlikely to fall into this group in the first place - that's why I don't do anything about it. I can't face going to a psychologist for therapy that could actually help me get better, I certainly can't stand up and give a seminar on how society is biased against those who have communication and social difficulties. Duh.

So rather than writing a rambling, rant-y letter that has no coherent point and therefore won't get published, I'll just post this instead. There's still the outside chance someone will read it. I mean someone other than the two, maybe three, friends who read my blog anyway. I've probably ranted about this at them before.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Holiday

So we spent the weekend on a narrow boat. Well, I say narrow boat, it's quite a wide boat actually - very nice and very spacious. Of course, the slight problem was the Leeds-Liverpool canal was nicely frozen over and so we couldn't move the boat. There were also issues with the sink in the bathroom (probably frozen pipe) and then the toilet broke....luckily the owner is a lovely man and did his best to sort things out as best he could.

Friday we all arrived (me, Terror, Daddy, Granddad and Penny) and settled in and went for a walk before tea and then Christmas Part III - I got a Magic 8 Ball (which of course means I have no excuse to be indecisive anymore) among other nice pressies and the Terror got David Stein's patented Bubble Thing and the book that shows you how to make huge bubbles. So that was tried out on Saturday, which was otherwise a lazy day. The bubbles were kind of impressive, but of course I failed to take any pictures (and they burst quite quickly in the cold, and with the Terror punching them). We watched Madagascar more times than I would have thought humanly possible in one day. We got a bit of a break from an overtired child in the afternoon, and then went out for tea while Penny and Granddad babysat. We went along the canal to the Sycamore Farm and had a great three course meal with the biggest and best desserts I've ever seen...great quality and so huge even gluttons like us couldn't finish them.

Sunday, we went to Skipton, in particular to visit the castle. This time I remembered to take the camera, but forgot to buy more batteries when I discovered the ones in it appeared to be dead. It was interesting, Terror got to run around lots, and then we had a bit of walk around town and down by the canal. It was annoyingly unfrozen there. That evening we watched Casino Royale for the second time ever, having seen it in the cinema. It was still pretty good. Ought to get round to watching Quantum of Solace I suppose. Monday was spent packing, scraping ice and snow off the cars as it had snowed overnight, and then heading home to get things ready for school starting again today.

I think that covers everything...