con dense sation

December 18th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

MinneapolisIt takes a few minutes, or more, for a street parked car to warm up when it’s so cold outside that the Mississippi is frozen-over.

On days like these I leave 15 minutes earlier for work. I scrape the ice or snow from the front, side and rear windows. Some cars come with heated wing mirrors, steering wheels and seats.  Not the VW Bug I’ve been given as a rental car.

This evening I drove into a mall parking garage. As I drove into the warm, underground parking my windscreen fogged. Out of habit I turned the in-car warm air blowers to the windscreen. The fogging appeared to increase. In a random effort to clear my view I turned on the windscreen wipers. Voilà! The condensation was on the outside of the cold car windows, not the inside.

A local told me that I should open the windows before I park outside at night to let-out all the damp warm air from within. To make sure the insides of the windows don’t ice-up as well as the outside.

Oh. I’m learning….


Schrödinger’s wendy

December 15th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

Misfits Xmas PartyIs Wendy alive or dead in her reality Box (outside the internet)? This question was raised in a cunningly disguised question at a Minneapolis Xmas Misfits part. The question arrived as

“are you here for good?”

A tricky question to answer at the best of times. Yes, I hope to do good. How long will I be here? I could be leaving soon (I don’t know) or I may live out the rest of my days here. I realised that I live my life with both of these possibilities existing in parallel. Wherever I live could be forever, or temporary. Having these two competing views actually leads to a form of exciting peace.

The party progresses with too many interesting, funny, and private stories to relate here.

A happy Christmas is on the cards

X

 

 


shopping list

December 14th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

For a Wendy that doesn’t really enjoy shopping this list is worse than daunting

  • Apartment (+light fittings, window dressings, insurance)
  • Car (+Inspection, Insurance)
  • Phone (+Service)
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Toaster
  • Iron
  • Kettle

It looks such a short list, but there are way too many decisions needed for each of these purchases… I’ve spent most of today researching car and phone purchases and tomorrow looks busy on the same topic, though I am making progress. Despite immense social pressure I wont be buying a Subaru Outlander…

I’ve also got to study for my Minnesota driving licence, and book the 3 tests (online, sight, practical), that’s near enough shopping though not a big range of choices involved.


inspection

December 10th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

The USA home buying process is radically different from the UK process. Here are some of the features that actually change the way people behave:

  • An offer is made with a goodwill payment of 1%. This acts to reduce the likelihood of people making multiple offers…
  • If an offer is accepted by the seller it’s a legally binding contract for the seller, the buyer can still pull out at several check-points but the seller cannot continue to market the property. This acts to prevent gazumping.
  • The buyer employs a professional to conduct an inspection. Professional? This person is not a qualified surveyor, no qualifications required. The fellow who conducted my inspection was like a caring dad who checked every window, every piece of equipment. He lit the oven, made ice, turned on the washing machine, checked all the lights and electric circuits, the boiler etc He gave me advice on how to look after the property and questions I should ask the Home Owners Association (HOA). He recommended that I attend a HOA meeting. He made observations about the other tenants. He was awesome. A buyer can pull out of the agreement after an inspection.
  • Immediately prior to the money exchanging there is a ‘walk through’ of the property in the estate that it will be handed over. The money is not exchanged if the purchaser is unhappy with the walk through. My ‘Inspector’ explained that a resident may have a big leaving party that leaves broken windows and toilets etc. The final walk through makes sure that they pay for any damage between agreement and departure. Nice.

Meanwhile my inspection raised lots of minor functional questions, like

  • How does the intercom work – there’s no in apartment equipment – is there a cell phone app for that?
  • Are those sockets for internet connections or phones?
  • Can I put more powerful bulbs in that light fitting?

It feels good to shift to asking trivial functional questions, clearly the big stuff is working well. The apartment is 4 miles from work and has ample bike storage in the basement. I could get fit in the summer. The route to work is through prettily housed suburbs.

As the inspector checked the apartment I pondered the view, watching the tail’ lights of city traffic. I felt at home. It felt right despite being so very different from my little hidden garden cottage in Reading. We all change as does the world around us. Time for a high rise garment with  scary balcony…..


jingle jingle

December 9th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

In the dark, driving slowly,  I search for the car park entrance to the supermarket.

There is a roadside Christmas tree sales spot. Someone has camped on the abundant sidewalk and placed their neatly cut trees in the snow. Music is playing, they have bright lights pointing at the trees. It reminds me of TV programmes, films, I’ve seen. The Christmas trees shopping experience in below zero USA climates is just like that in the films.

A portly black man, reminiscent of father Christmas, dressed in ‘Salvation Army’ red rings a handbell at the store entrance. I pull out some dollars and push them into his collection jar. His voice is cheerful, hearty,  as he talks of his day job and, this, night time volunteer work. I thank him and listen. I admire his dedication. It’s below zero and he’s collecting money to help those people who’ve been excluded by society. He likes my hat and warns me against the problems of drink.

How did he know?


Apart meant

December 8th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

I’ve successfully sold the Wendy house in Reading Town. There were bumps in the process. The four month process  from putting the place on the market (July 22d) through to completing on the sale (Nov 28th) was efficient by UK standards. The buyers were first time purchasers in the UK. A French couple. Their lack of familiarity with the local process meant that it took longer than the 3 months it took me to originally buy the place. I left them champagne, a gifted plant, a folder of historical documents and a book describing the history of the area. The garden looked a bedraggled, neglected mess and removing my furniture revealed some dampness that neither I nor they expected.

Potential new Wendyhome in MNThe market in Minneapolis has Ground to a halt between Thanksgiving and the Super bowl in mid February. I’ve been tracking properties and prices online since April 2014. I feel confident that I know the type of properties and the places. I’ve now driven to, through, and walked around the areas I’m considering. I’ve had an offer accepted on an apartment that is very good value for money and checks most of my requirements. The requirements it fits are:

  • 2 bedrooms with walls that go right to the ceiling and windows
  • Double-aspect windows, it’s a corner apartment with SW & NW facing windows
  • Walk g distance from good restaurants and downtown facilities
  • Walking distance from a bus stop that takes me directly to work (in case I can’t drive)
  • Indoor, heated garage space
  • Washer, dryer inside the apartment (not communal resource)
  • View that includes greenery and things worth watching (6th floor, with lower buildings adjacent and no plans to replace them in a way that blocks the view, can see a dog-park without using binoculars)
  • Has at least one wall that will fit my 6ft Welsh dresser

I’ve been researching the building developer and condominium management company. This apartment block was built in 2008 and is managed by a huge company that manages condominiums all over North America. The developer is prolific and their conversions, including this one, have won design awards. I’m comfortable with the developer.

Yelp reviews of the condominium management company are not good, they mention things like phone calls being ignored, maintenance work being difficult to schedule and generally tardy. Apparently getting the cash is the one thing they’re reportedly good at. I’m hoping that the reports are disproportionate and that when the company works well, no one bothers to review it on yelp.

 

 

 


No coat hangers

December 7th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Most of the time it’s below freezing. Today’s been an exception, I’ve walked out with my coat undone, no hat, no gloves and my scarf hanging limp in the sunshine. Yet the restaurants don’t offer to take your coat when you arrive.

Cloakrooms are definitely not ‘de rigour’. They exist. If you ask, you are offered a coat hanging solution, but this offer is not naturally forthcoming. Odd, given the weather and dress of the locals.

I’ve been in Minneapolis for a week, eaten out once per day. My oversized WW2 style flight jacket is heavy, when placed on the back of a restaurant chair, the chair surrenders. It falls backwards to the floor. I’ve now sent the jacket to the dry cleaners because it’s hugged way too many local restaurant floors.


Anniversary

November 18th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Dad and I, spring of 1990. Mum and dad had come to visit me while I was studying for a PhD.

Mumzie took the photo. It captures a lot of us both and our relationship. Our profiles are very similar, though dad had these wonderfully entertaining wild, overgrown eyebrows that luckily I haven’t inherited.

Dad and I in 1990


snow clearing trucks

November 15th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Snow on the roads

Lots of helpful snow clearing trucks take to the road as soon as the little white mischievous chilly things start to fall. Meanwhile, I’m driving around looking for a pre-owned home and car.  I wonder what I’ll find.


Famous residents of Minneapolis

November 10th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

The Wikipedia lists have many names that I don’t recognise, their fame never reached me and it omits some key people that interest me. Here are the one’s that I’ve both heard lf and they interest me:

  • Andrews sisters
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Billy Graham
  • Bob Dylan
  • Bobby McFerrin
  • Charles Schultz
  • Coen brothers
  • Garrison Kiellor
  • Hiawatha
  • Hüsker Dü
  • John Paul Getty
  • Minnehaha
  • Prince
  • Robert M Pirsig
  • Scott f fitzgerald

More than enough to be researching….


last weekend

November 8th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

This blog post is bought to you courtesy of ‘procrastination’ and the letter T

  • UK post now redirected to my new USA work office for 12 mos. Cost $31 per Mos. I’ll write to individual companies to change my registered address, once I’ve got a new home….
  • Trying desperately to focus on which documents I should carry with me and which can go into storage. Paper documents are heavy, this is a difficult task that is increasing my addiction to  tea and inclination to blog
  • Last laundry load running. I’m even getting emotional about leaving my Miele.

Received an unbirthday present on my birthday. Mind imploding concept. There was carrot cake and singing to celebrate.

 

 


exhaust

November 4th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

International relocations are exhausting. The most emotionally disruptive, painful, experiences are consistent:

  1. Ensuring minimum disruption and pain for the cats. This move meant rehoming Sampo. Made me very unhappy, but the best thing for her. No more cats in the Wendy home for the foreseeable future.
  2. Saying ‘goodbye’ to people in the country that have been strong friends. Visits, small gatherings.
  3. Selling my car. I always get emotionally attached to my car and the process of selling this big, expensive, mechanical item is ‘fiddly’.
  4. Going to the airport. Leaving the UK I’ve always taken someone on the flight with me which eases this pain. Leaving the USA was a very lonely experience.
  5. Seemingly infinite sorting and packing detail decisions. Will someone want this? Should I take it to a thrift store, should I keep it? Will this go in the sea shipment, air shipment, checked baggage, hand baggage? Will it fit?
  6. Selling my house (home), Realtors, Solicitors, buyers etc. Surprising that this somehow seems less stressful than the others. I’ve been lucky in each of my International moves. Selling to move within the UK was always more stressful, probably because of always being in a ‘chain’.
  7. Buying a home. This is actually fun and I’m normally able to calibrate myself well to the market to find what I want given what’s on offer. Nonetheless the logistics and timing of the process is often a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

I’m looking forward to some peace in my home life. It will come about 2 months after I’ve moved into my (to.be found) new home. Maybe March 2015.

The new Wendy House will not be a house, it will be a loft apartment…   …exciting!


benign neglect

November 2nd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

The garden thrives

Close friendships incubated

Acquaintances fade away

Stalkers try harder


The human stain. Phillip Roth

October 31st, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

ITV online allowed me to watch the film of Phillip Roth’s book. I was initially attracted by the powerful cast including some of my favourites. Anthony Hopkins, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Nicole Kidman.

4 smiles:)  :)  :)  :)   Ratings explained

This good rating is despite the film failing the Bechtel Test:

(1) are there  at least  2 women in  the film? (yes)

(2) Do two  women talk to each other (No)

(3) the conversational topic is not about a man (Not applicable, see 2)

As society progresses to make good films that include storylines that draw on the richness of life which includes women,  I’d like to add that the women in the film with  speaking parts have names.

I’ve rated this film so highly despite this prominent failure because the protagonists main storyline revolves around the challenge of living in a discriminatory, prejudiced culture. I recognised his challenges and could empathise with the difficulty and outcomes of the decisions he’d made.

Plot spoiler
The protagonist, Coleman Silk, is the son of African Americans, his skin is pale and he can pass as a white person if he chooses to do so. We see him treated as-if he is white, the position of privilege. To me this is analogous to a woman choosing a route where she highlights the characteristics associated with the male was as a technique to gain the benefits associated with a male privileged world. I wear a suit, I talk with the confidence associated with men. I’m confrontational in my discursive style. I recognise that these are not associated with the traditional female role.

When  Coleman has the choice of mixing in society as ‘black’, going to a college that is recognised as for blacks, joining the army and declaring his ethnicity, he chooses to not declare his status as a member of a disempowered group. At school I was teased for being like a boy, wearing my hair short, wearing trousers and flats shoes. All done for comfort and convenience. The teasing bothered and hurt me. But I chose to go with the values of physical comfort and convenience over conformity to avoid the aggressive, mean, teasing. Coleman doesn’t conform, he side-steps.

The film tracks significant events which lead to Colemans decision, through tragic and painfully ironic outcomes. Eventually,  he finds love and acceptance for who he is by closeness with a woman who’s been the victim of a broad range of typical outcomes of being a victim of male power. Unlike him, she never had the option of denying her ‘class’ as woman. In his senior years we see Coleman voluntarily walk into the type of prejudice and unstable life that he chose to avoid, with deception, in his youth.

A beautiful, painfully sad  film.


UK house sale contracts exchanged

October 28th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

The average time to sell a house on the UK is currently about 6 months.

July 22nd my house went on the market. Today we exchanged contracts, the sale is finally legally binding. We’ve set the sale completion date at 29th November. 4 months. It’s fast and everything went smoothly, if seemingly slowly, to me as someone who’s bought and sold houses in America in about 30 days. I love the USA system. I’m looking forward to buying there once I’ve transferred the money. It took me 3 months to buy this UK Wendy house. Very fast by UK standards, frustratingly slow to me. I don’t want to go through the UK house purchase or selling process again. I will, when mum dies unless she moves to a retirement property beforehand which is not something I’m pushing for, though my brother is.

Now, I’m out of the country for several weeks on work, come back the night before the removal people arrive to pack, then leave the day after the house sale. November looks hectic and I’m quite looking forward to it!

I’m going to try and fly mum out to go house hunting with me. A mothers eye is always entertaining and she does notice things that I don’t. Sometimes the things she notices are not important to me, but often they are valuable insights. Mum loves shopping, especially when it’s free to her. Mum also wants to be confident that I’ll be happy. I want to give her that confidence and I love that she’s always used my happiness as her yard-stick. Her emphasis on my getting a good education was so that I’d be able to support myself, to be happy, to avoid ‘struggling’. Everything she’s strived for in raising me can ultimately be traced to her beliefs on what would enable me to have a happy life. Fabulous.

I left the USA to spend high quality time with mum and dad in their latter years. To avoid regrets about not having shared special times with them. I’ve been lucky, it worked. Dad’s now dead, I now have a really high quality relationship with my mother that will work across the continents. Phone calls, Facebook, Skype….  we’re closer now, being apart physically will mean much less than it did at the turn of the millennium.

I left the USA on November 24th 2007, thanksgiving week. I’ll be returning to the USA at the end of Thanksgiving week 2014. The emotional symmetry is pleasing.


unhealthy responsibility

October 27th, 2014 | tags:  |

Wendy: watches the lady behind the cash till type in the numbers and wince. “Are you alright?”

Cash teller: No, it’s my foot

Wendy: It looks very painful, is there anything I can do, can you call someone to help?

Cash teller: It is very painful, (winces) there’s only me, no one else in the store, I can’t close up

I don’t know what to do. I look at the long line behind me that she has to deal with and say loudly

take care, these people don’t want you to be in pain and we’d help if we knew how to”. Most of them look away, one nods his head in silence


weight loss not dietry driven

October 26th, 2014 | tags:  |

Dad’s death, a friend’s psychosis,  a new job, and an international relocation all add up to a ‘diet’ and I can tell without reference to bathroom scales

Trousers bought to fit in March 2012 now slide down over my waist and hips. Without a belt they head for the ground with predictable, slow, determination. Rings that once fit on my 3rd finger now sit comfortable on my middle and first fingers. My watch which once pinched the flesh on my wrist now slides over my Ulna base and rides around like a carousel. It no longer steadily sits facing outward. It rides up and down and round and round. My cheek bones are once more visible in a manner that looks, to me, slightly unhealthily as-if I’ve had plastic surgery to enhance them.

It seems I’m loosing weight

My eating habits haven’t changed

Who knows what will happen once I’ve ‘settled’ in Minneapolis….


peaceful resistance

October 25th, 2014 | tags:  |

Having a tantrum, because not everyone is a pacifist. Nothing broken. It makes me feel so middle class.

While humans feel strong emotions that are aggressive, we can learn to manage and express them in ways that don’t involve inflicting physical and emotional pain on others. Democracy facilitates the existent of alternative view points which include the use of violence, frequently institutionalised (Capital punishment, Weaponised military). I’m just not convinced that enough people in power have actually committed to using alternative approaches.


too geeky to communicate effectively

October 23rd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

This summer

Wendy: my cousin teaches gender studies at [name] University

Sister-in-law: gender studies? I don’t understand, what’s that?

Wendy: Sex is the biological determination lf you as a Female or Male. Gender is the social construction of behavioural expectations for people who are classified as Female or Male

Sister-in-law: what? I don’t understand, women are women

Her world view is so well defined and ingrained within her role as a woman that I decided to give up at this point. My brother is a classic white male pseudo liberal dude and she is a home building wife who puts much effort into conforming to prevailing stereotypes of girliness. She is extremely accomplished at this.

This autumn

Wendy: my cousin teaches gender studies at [name] University

Niece 1992: gender studies? I don’t understand, what’s that?

Wendy: Normally there are two genders on any form that you fill in, girl or boy, but real people identify with a really wide range of genders, it’s not a neat dichotomy. What if I’m a girl who likes to dress like a man because I feel it suits who I am. Am I a girl or a boy at a social level? Why do we even have to define a specific position. Facebook in the USA provides 51 different gender options. We are all different. Our sex is a biological determinant, our gender is how we, feel and express our identity.

Niece 1992: 51 genders, that’s just silly

Wendy: Yes, we should be people with no need to identify as a specific gender. Our sex may be relevant for things like medical treatments, but a gender assignment is often unnecessary and irrelevant, leads to discrimination and all sorts of unnecessary nastiness particularly for anyone who isn’t a heterosexual white boy.

Niece 1992: 51 genders, that’s just silly

Gosh. Failed to communicate.

As a fairly radical feminist this familial  lack of awareness of the meaning and hence value of understanding systematic discrimination of non conformity to socially constructed definitions of gender is quite overwhelming.

On the other hand, my cousins totally ROCK! Their father died before they reached puberty, which may not be significant. My brothers views are classic white male patriarchy.

Sigh.


employed and dead

October 22nd, 2014

Alive and EmployedEvidence that the zombie apocalypse had started in 1970!

You needed to be certified as both alive and employed, to distinguish you from the employed dead people.


cloudy backup

October 12th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

What documents and technology should I:

  • Carry with me as hand luggage when relocating to Minneapolis?
  • Check into the hold – have ready when I arrive
  • Ship in the container with my furniture – will probably go into storage and I could be without for months

I’m sorting through my paper files today. Obviously I’ll carry my Surface, and the internet, provide access to much of the critical information. But not all. While thinking about what documents are critical I decided to backup my Surface, it’s got useful documents stored locally – photographs, resumes, a blog back-up etc

I looked for the “Windows Easy File Transfer”, this had helped me transfer some of my windows content from my last PC to this one. Discovered that it only allows you to transfer stuff ONTO the surface, not for use as backup or a way of transferring stuff to a new Surface. Explored the backup options and they all use the ‘Sky Drive’. Looks like the Skydive saves all my computer settings but not any files I’ve stored locally. Pain in butt.

Now I’m using what looks like the old windows backup to ‘copy’ all my files on an external drive.

Replacing this surface with another one *should* be relatively easy. Moving between service providers, for example from Microsoft to Apple would be painful by comparison.


repeats

October 10th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

She slurred “Oh, Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, it’s so good to hear from you, I’ve missed you, I love you

Instantly I remembered why I had stopped calling and visiting

Dad’s in a home” She dominated the conversation with the force of rapids escaping a snow capped mountain

Dad’s in a home”  Occasionally she acknowledged my presence

You’ve lost your dad, my dad’s in a home”  the last time I visited her,  I’d drunk a glass of wine as she’d necked two bottles, via a glass.

Sober she is capable, beautiful, engaging. I haven’t spent much time with her since returning to the UK in 2007. I’d been living on the memory of our friendship from the last millennium when she only noticeably drank on a Saturday night

Dad’s in a home

Deciding to let the relationship die from neglect, I remembered making that decision several times before. In between, I forget, only remembering the good times we’ve spent together. Then I start to wonder why we’re not still having those good times and I phone her….


get the WI report to the treasurer

October 7th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

what does it mean?“what does ‘draft’ mean?”

Mum was unsure whether a ‘draft’ email had been sent or not, she was unsure what to do with it.

So ‘Save’ is that little picture of the TV?”

This is an update on her original interpretation of the icon as a car with a football underneath. She’d forgotten her original description. Neither icon says ‘save’ to her so she keeps failing to ‘see’ it as a solution to her nameable problem

Why do I have to give it a Subject?”

Mum uses Facebook and sends paper letters. Neither need a subject line. I showed her the subject lines in her inbox, and pointed out that if no emails had subject lines her inbox would look like a list of name

After 4 demonstrations, 2 practices, some note taking by mum and illustrated sketched steps by me, I think mum may be able to email the annual report to her colleague

 


tumourtuous

October 5th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

My brain tumour is actually quite big, but it hasn’t got any bigger

I nearly fell off my barstool the first time mum mentioned her brain tumour. She talks of her brain scans last year, before dad died. Holding her fingers and thumbs together to demonstrate the circumference of the tumour. Golfball. Is she exaggerating? I hope so. I can hear the Doctors jargon seeping into her story and marvel at her ability to act the story

It’s not where it will affect my eyesight. She closes her eyes

It will affect my balance if it grows. She lifts her left leg and holds her ankle behind her back demonstrating her good balance.

No surgery for mum, mum thinks this is because she’s old, may recover slowly, and brain surgery is expensive. She doesn’t sound too put-out. She sounds pleased – to have avoided surgery. I can empathise with this.


antimacassar

September 28th, 2014 | tags:  |

Sunlight sparkled intricacies through her arctic white hair

Auntie Margaret’s house is immaculate

Not a drop of macassar on her faded, pristine, sofa


Extremely creepy

September 25th, 2014 | tags:  |

Darned English traffic, making a 35 mile journey as the crow flies take over 90mins as the car drives.

At least I’m not late, people are milling around two large coffee dispensing thermos flasks. This may be England, but the people in the room are from all over the world. Most ex colonies, most males. I see one excellent fellow that I haven’t seen for ages. He’s clearly pleased to see me, we hug and talk as I unpack.

Making my way to the coffee thermos involves several reunions and finally putting the body to the voices of some people I’ve only ever listened too. One loud boisterous voice announces my name. I recognise the loud volume and personality. He’s been a pain to work with.  He says one thing, then I point out an alternative he says ‘that’s what I said’. He’s a bluffer, a showman, a pain to work with, a waffler. He knows some great stuff so you just have to tolerate his waffling to get to those gems. Hearing him call my name, my heart dropped. He pushed through the crowd then grabbed my upper arm and pulled me towards a space.

I was speechless. I’m not used to being dragged around like a piece of meat. I have no idea what made him think he could do that rather than ask me to move to the edge of the group for a chat about our joint work.

I yanked my arm from his grip. I over-emphasized the action to make a point of it. His facial reaction clearly demonstrated that he’d noticed my action and was surprised. Then I walked to the edge of the group and asked what he wanted. I listened to his trivia for a while then found myself an empty seat, on the other side of the room from him.

lend a couple of handsLater that day he did the same thing and I responded on the same way. Surely by now he’s recognised the pattern and can see I don’t appreciate being touched by him. I wonder if he remembers the company ‘code of conduct’ training which states that you shouldn’t touch other employees except with extreme caution. By this time I’d noticed that he didn’t touch the men in the room. This imbalance was all the more noticeable because I was one of only 3 women in a group of 28.

As I drove home in the evening I reprimanded myself for not saying anything to him directly. I trusted him to understand my body language which would have been clear to anyone watching that I did not want him to touch me. I remember what I’d read about how unreported serial rapists work. The first clue is that they push the boundaries, they test how you react to workout whether you’ll move your boundaries and keep quiet. If you do, then you’re the perfect victim because they can coerce you and you’ll not report it because you feel complicit. By not having realised what is happening, by not assuming he’s a man with a plan you take blame for the consequences. Legal processes and society tend to blame the victim in these cases.

I’m not calling this guy a rapist but he was EXTREMELY CREEPY and behaving in a manner consistent with the behaviours of serial rapists.  I decided to forget about it all, except, if he touched me again, irrespective of the context, I would say calmly “stop touching me“.

After a small emergency with the car I arrived late the next day for a group work session.  The only girl in a room of 10 people. The only seat available was next to creepy guy. I suspect the other fellows find him annoying too. At one point he had a mini tantrum because no-one was listening to him. Saying out loud “well I’ll shut up then if no-one’s interested“. I was interested in the point he was making so asked him to continue and I took notes – which we later used. Afterwards he leaned over to me, grabbed my upper arm and pulled me toward him. Calmly and clearly, as planned, I said “Stop touching me“.

The room went silent and everyone looked at us, then the conversation continued. Job done. I probably looked like I overreacted but now I have witnesses to my asserting my boundaries with him. I hope I don’t need to tell him again. I’d rather not have to work with him, but unfortunately that’s not really an option. This is a diary of the event and I hope it’s a single entry. But who knows, he looked about 50, his behaviours are probably very ‘fixed’ and treating women as more touchable than men in the work place is probably very ingrained. If so, there could be some follow-up entries and I’ll use them as a record of my perspective should this escalate.


piles

September 25th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Fewer, shorter and lower quality blog posts as pre-move activities churn the wendy house into piles of pre-move things. The meaning of the many emerging piles is not obvious to the innocent bystander, but I know they are for:

  • Trip to the local tip
  • Gift to local charities store
  • For family
  • Paper recycle (the bin outside my house fills quicker than it’s collected)
  • Some one I know must want this, I should ask around
  • Must sort out this pile  – it’s not going back into the cupboard or under the bed until everything’s been fully assessed

That innocent bystander is probably guilty of something and their dudes will involve having to deal with their befuddlement. My above mentioned piles have joined the normal collections of things that need to be

  • Washed
  • Ironed (I now pretend to be a proper business person in a shirt)
  • Put away (filed, drawered or hung)
  • Read

 


whine bar

September 23rd, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

What makes you think you’re saying anything that I’d actually want to listen to?

Smoking ladiesI hadn’t thought. My conversation was indeed trivial. We sat in silence while I pondered something worthy of conversation and he revelled in having silenced me. During the silence I decided his lack of engagement in conversation as a team effort, and the mean spirit of his conversation stopper meant that I didn’t care for his company.  I took my leave. An abrupt way to end a relationship. It had been short and definitely lacking in sweetness. When he’d told me that his ex-wife had attacked him with a meat cleaver I had wondered why, that wondering had wandered into potential victim blaming. His mean comment felt strategically placed to start a heated meta-level discussion about our relationship with a theme of my being inadequate. I’m prepared to engage in that type of conversation but only if handled in a manner that clearly, mutually, uncovers ways in which we can grow as individuals, or a couple. Clearly not the case here.

Putting on my coat, finding the money for my share of the bill and leaving the wine bar seemed to take forever. Maybe I’d overreacted, but the type of person I’d like to spend time with would not have created that situation and would have managed the end of the relationship with more grace and style. I cried while I walked home. Because, despite many clues, I’d not recognised his mean spirit.


security blankets

September 21st, 2014 | tags: ,  |

I can’t bring myself to throw out the boxes of ‘paper’ photographs (albums) from under the bed.

I never look at them. I doubt I’ll ever show them to anyone.  They’re just a security blanket for my memory. There’s no history of senility or amnesia in my parents family. Over the last year I’ve seen mum through out multiple photo albums of holiday ‘snaps’ and she’s definitely more of a hoarder than me. Though this weekend I came back from her house with more stuff (Paintings, heirlooms) than things I’d delivered to her. I’m trying very hard to keep the physical balance of things leaving the house, compared to things arriving on a ratio of 4:1. Generally managing.

I’ve thrown out over 4 large clip-arch files full of all my teaching materials for the BSc (Hons) Psychology Course sections that I taught. Remember pre-printed transparencies used with overhead projectors? They’ll never be used again. The degree was assessed as extremely high quality by the UK teaching standards body, a score of 23/24 where the point we dropped was that we didn’t have a quality process in place for measuring the quality or our quality processes. Honestly!


Homely Sunday

September 14th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

The Sunday newspaper is on the Settee, help yourself. Would you like a mug of tea?

It’s a beautifully brewed tea in a large bone china mug that’s decorated in the style of Charles Rene Macintosh. Mum knows I like his designs and has taken to always giving me this mug, it’s my favourite mug without my having told her. My mug in mum’s kitchen.

Opening the broadsheet in the centre of the sun filled living room floor I read about Oscar Pistoriois‘s trial results,  Samantha Morton’s description of her experience in care homes in the UK, and statistics about Scottish voting tendencies. Radio 2,  concert in Hyde park, Christy Hynde, plays in the background.

Mum brings over a handful of paint colour swatches. She wants my thoughts on what colours to paint the room. Was dad’s room.. We discuss feature coloured walls, wall paper, curtains, styles. She’s pleased that I’ve given her some ideas.

My mug of tea magically refills,  a bottomless mug.

This is the fabulous home that I relocated back to Britain to share, the home I’ll be leaving this autumn. I’ve left many times. This time leaving is coupled with the knowledge that coming back will soon not be possible.