The garden thrives
Close friendships incubated
Acquaintances fade away
Stalkers try harder
The garden thrives
Close friendships incubated
Acquaintances fade away
Stalkers try harder
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.
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.
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.
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
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….
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.
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.
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.
What documents and technology should I:
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.
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….
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
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.
Sunlight sparkled intricacies through her arctic white hair
Auntie Margaret’s house is immaculate
Not a drop of macassar on her faded, pristine, sofa
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.
Later 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.
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:
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
What makes you think you’re saying anything that I’d actually want to listen to?
I 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.
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!
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.
Do I care that the apple watch
Apple hasn’t successfully ‘sold’ their watch to me. But it could offer value. I’m disappointed they haven’t bothered to point out that value…. I’ll wait and see what the dedicated fan boys say after paying their premium to own it first
Apple’s business model relies on them selling more hardware… I wonder what they’ll do next….
Being over anxious about finding the right place, I turned up 90minutes before my appointment ladened with half a redwood tree of supporting evidence, credit card, and my passport.
I had to line up, in separate lines to:
Standing in line, sitting in line with a number, is an integral part of the USA visa getting process. There are many ways that new technology could be used to streamline the whole process. Streamlining the process would remove the Kafkaesque quality. Perhaps being Kafkaesque is fundamentally important to government procedures.
The young, blonde, Brit who interviewed me was being observed by a senior member of staff who smiled when I got excited and when I behaved like a normal person… forgetting things, being uncertain.
Interviewer: tell me about your Diplomatic Visa, your A2
Wendy: Gosh, I’d completely forgotten about that, way back in 1999 I worked for the UK MOD on secret things, I signed the official secrets act and they got me a diplomatic Visa. Well done you for finding that out!
The USA are going to give me another Visa, despite my having to declare that I’d repeatedly lost my passport several times while living in the USA. It seems they can tolerate my human scattiness in return for my fabulous expert knowledge…. mainly knowledge of human scattiness….
My bed is a wreck.
2 days of lemsip enabled battling with my bed sheets before I regained post-flu levels of physical and mental calm. Without Sampo’s sturdy and steadfast body to weigh down the bedding it’s much more likely to find the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the staircase…..
The 6 earrings that I never remove were neatly paired and placed on my bedside table. Apparently, in the middle of the storm I decided to remove and place them in an ordered sensible fashion. I don’t recall doing this, or have insight into why I would do this. Were the studs weighing me down during some essential battle with some imagined foe of my fever? They’re back in place now.
Full steam ahead…
The muffled loud sounds of the Reading festival fill the chill, damp, garden air. My stomach cramps, cramps, and cramps. I think I’m hungry but the slight nausea makes the thought of eating unappealing. The house devoid of cat fluff, balls, toy mice, freshly soiled cat litter, footsteps. It’s too near clinical. I’ll stop sulking when I’ve stopped bleeding.
As I’m looking to get rid of my excess stuff ready to move, my friend from Primary school who’s spent the last 14 years living abroad is moving back from Cairo to the UK. She’s looking for all the things I can’t take with me, electrical stuff, a car, some small furniture for a small house. How fortunate is that?!
Mumsie: Is there anything you want, before you go (to America)
Wendy: it’s difficult to ask because all the things I want are probably thongs that are special to you too
Mumsie: Oh, I’m going to have to get rid of lots of stuff.
Wendy: The black and white Rackham that I bought dad for his birthday?
Mumsie: Oh good! I’ve never liked that, I managed to get him to keep it in his office for a few years but then he moved it into the front room. I was going to ask you if you wanted it
Wendy: the Bullova watch, I remember him wearing it as an everyday watch
Mumsie: Oh yes, that’s probably quite valuable because it was the first of the new modern watches. It doesn’t work and might not be easy to get fixed without damaging it’s value
Some blog posts are easy to think of, difficult to write.
They’ll probably be the better posts, if they get written (and copy edited).
Meanwhile, you’ll have to wait
My parents genes
Drop in guests
Long cotton vests
Cats on the internets
Men wearing kilts
Children on stilts
A car that can go
Being able to sew
Spare case of merlot
Raindrops on roses
Whiskers on kittens
Warm woollen mittens
Something nice to study
phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
I get sad just thinking about it. I’ll get to stay the first night with her. I’ll get to visit her before I leave.
Her new family will post pictures of her on Facebook. She’ll be happy, she’ll be much less stressed than travelling in the hold of a plane for 9 hours then moved from temporary home to temporary home. The flash makes her look a bit woozy in this picture, but there’ll be no drugs involved in her journey. She hates the car, and cries all the way. It must hurt her throat. I’m not looking forward to moving her. I am looking forward to her being moved and settled.
She’ll probably even forget me.
After moving there will be many more blog posts, Minneapolis is just so interesting and very beautiful. Today a lady was telling me about the cherry tree blossom in spring, how it’s magical like a fairy-tale world. She talked about going north to see the fall colours. She clearly loves it here (I’m in Minneapolis). The skies are often blue, even in the winter.
People open their windows & doors to catch any breeze that might wander by
Official warnings of a ‘heat wave’ and health concerns because Britons are not familiar with how to behave safely, healthily in hot weather
Tempers and temperatures are rising
From my open doors and windows I can hear the family frictions of neighbours in the surrounding streets, beyond my immediate neighbours. When they shout I can hear what they say. Shouts blown in the breeze to me.
Living alone, I have no-one to shout at.
Living alone, I have nothing I want to shout at anyone about. I don’t recall ever shouting at people that I lived with. But it must have happened and I’ve conveniently forgotten it in the peace of my own home. No-one wants to invite shouting into their home, it must just happen somehow.
In the heat Sampo and I lounge around in the shade. She tells me about it, but doesn’t shout.
Windows and doors are closed when the thunder and lightening hit. As if the world is objecting to all the shouting and demonstrating this by shouting right back with a stormy temper beyond that of any mortal. Unlike Sampo, I love the thunder and lightening storms. The sound of rain pounding on the roof and the way they whipe the slate, garden and street clean.
I love my mum
She’s 78. I’m banned from mentioning aging. She moans about her 93 year old sister being ‘needy’ wanting mum to come with her on weekend coach tour breaks. Apparently, even if they have separate rooms her elder sister is an insufferable talker who’s deaf. Hmmmmm….. it’s been remarked that I take after this maternal aunt. Must remember to listen, even when I’m deaf.
Mum and I chat a couple of times a week. This is a new thing. It started when I was made redundant in 2009 and I nominated mum as responsible for knowing that I was ok on a day to day basis. Having no regular schedule, there was no one to ‘miss’ me. I called mum at 7pm each day and she had instructions and neighbours numbers to follow up with if I didn’t call and didn’t return her ‘why haven’t you called’ calls. Obviously all this safety infrastructure was not put into emergency action. What it did do was it gave me an excuse to call mum every day, for no real reason. We’d chat if something occurred to us, or just share hello’s if not. A nice habit. One I’ve kept up on a weekly basis since then. A habit that’s been easy to increase since dad died.
Since dad died our calls have been more light hearted and chatty. I’ve enjoyed them much more. They make me love mum even more.
Over the last year the quality of her voice over the phone has changed. I can’t tell if this is my expectations and fears or an actual change. She is still a quick thinker but the ‘crackle’ that I associated with old people dominates what I hear. I hear what she says, but the voice is not the her voice of my youth, and later adulthood. It’s the voice of a delicate old lady.
I love my mum