halojedha: (camber sands)
Another blog entry written in a hospital waiting room. I'm getting my glucose tolerance test done to check for gestational diabetes. You have to fast (nothing but water) for 12 hours, then have blood taken, then drink a glucose drink, sit still for two hours, and have more blood taken. The glucose drink delivered 75mg of glucose and tasted like very strongly mixed gatorade. It's the sort of thing you'd drink if you were running a marathon or building a burn camp in the desert, although with the latter you'd probably want to also add salt.

Me and the foetus both seem well! They are kicking as I write this. They are very wriggly. Sometimes the movements are intermittent, but sometimes it's a constant barrage of movement that lasts 15 or 20 minutes before it settles down. Super Rolling Attack Combo! According to the pregnancy websites, by 28 weeks the foetus is 14 inches long, which is frankly enormous, and sometimes I can feel punches and kicks at both ends simultaneously. When I don't notice any movements for a while I get a bit worried, and it's a relief to feel them kicking off again. But it's also pretty distracting when I'm trying to sleep or concentrate on something else.

I'm six months pregnant. Officially in the third trimester! That's a weird feeling: we're in the endgame now. I'm due three months today.

Symptoms:

- Nausea is less. Finally! The last time I vomited was 2-3 weeks ago. I've been taking my anti-emetics in the morning with my other meds and sticking to a breakfast routine. I've got the hang of what foods to eat when now - if I feel any hint of nausea I go for slightly more glycaemic foods (toast or a bagel) and save the muesli and porridge for days when I feel like it's less risky. I'm trying to eat lower GL food in the evenings, but also following my whim and being relaxed about it.

- Rib and back pain is still a thing, more so at the end of the day. It's worse if I'm sedentary and better if I'm spending most of the day standing, lying down, or being active.

- My insides feel very squeezed. My bump got big a month or so ago, but it still felt soft and squishy. The last couple of weeks, I've really noticed feeling fuller, my belly feeling firmer, and weird, tender, slightly sore internal sensations of various organs being squeezed. Sometimes I get random pain low down or in my side where the foetus has stuck a foot into my cervix or liver or spleen or something. And it's hard to eat a full meal: after about a half portion my stomach starts to feel painfully full, not because the stomach itself has shrunk, but because it has less space to expand into. I expect 5 or 6 small portions a day would be better than 3 normal sized ones, but it's hard to find time to stop and eat that often. I'm eating several pieces of fruit most days between meals but maybe I should start trying to split my meals up too.

- Weird ligament shit! All my muscles and ligaments are loosening, so a) I am now the most flexible I've ever been, which is cool when doing Tai Chi, although of course I lack stability at the edge of my range of movement because I haven't trained the stabilising muscles there, and b) I'm getting loads of random weirdness and pain as things move around. I went through a few weeks of neck and shoulder pain as my ligaments loosened and my muscles involuntarily tensed to try and keep things where they were, but Leo's been giving me loads of body work, and after a week on holiday that's eased off a bit and things feel a bit softer. As the surface muscles relax, I become present to deep tension in the ones underneath - I don't know if that's worse, or if I'm just able to notice it where before the surface tension was in the way. I'm also getting pains from old injuries - my right ankle, which I sprained a couple of years ago, has been playing up again, specifically a weird nerve pinch when I put weight on my foot from a certain angle, or rotate my ankle at a particular point. Leo reckons my tight calf muscle is pinching the nerve, but it hasn't been a problem for over a year so it's obviously related to soft tissue changes in pregnancy. I have some foot and ankle exercises to remember to do, and I'm going to try and book myself a pregnancy massage soon.

Other than that, I'm well! Feel like I have normal energy levels for the most part, although I slept a LOT on holiday - but then, I had a cold and some sleep debt from the previous week to catch up on, so I think that's standard. I've been getting intermittent pregnancy insomnia, waking up at 4 or 5am and taking 2 or 3 hours to get back to sleep. Surface from sleep, feel baby movements, suddenly feel hyper alert, realise I need to pee, go downstairs, and by the time I'm back in bed I'm awake and it takes ages to wind down again. The last few nights, though, it's not been so bad. I wake up around 8am, I've been so tired I've been falling asleep involuntarily at 11pm even if I'd intended to sit up and read for a bit.

Things that help with sleep maintenance: doing Tai Chi, cuddling a pillow at night to take the weight off my pelvis and shoulders when I sleep on my side, sticking hands and feet out of the duvet to regulate core body temperature, going to sleep at the same time each night, doing ana pana when I'm lying in bed, turning the nightlight on and sitting up and reading for a bit until I feel sleepy again, rather than lying there with my mind churning. Sometimes none of those work, though, and I'm just stuck with wakefulness until it goes away. It's fine when I don't have anywhere to be in the morning and can sleep later to make it up, but it's a real pain when I have morning appointments.

I function so badly when I'm sleep deprived I'm frankly terrified of how I'm going to survive with a newborn. Midwives keep saying to me that the pregnancy insomnia and night waking is "good practice", but that seems like bollocks to me - surely it would be better for me to be as well rested as possible before the birth.

I'm doing Tai Chi two or three times a week, and have just booked five sessions of pregnancy yoga. Initially I was like, oh, pregnancy yoga, I don't need that, I do Tai Chi, but although my instructor is super chill about it it's not special pregnancy Tai Chi. What I'm hoping for from the pregnancy yoga is preparation for labour, practising helpful movements etc, and doing pelvic floor stuff. As well as meeting other pregnant folks in my area.

Other preparations are going well: I've booked antenatal classes with the home birth centre, and apparently I get an all-day class with the hospital too, although I haven't been booked onto that yet. Need to chase that up. I've started meeting the home birth team, who seem nice, although it's a big team and I only have a handful of appointments, so there's no way I'll get to know them all before my due date. Plus, apparently only one out of two midwives will be from that team, and the other will be from a different team. Given the importance of continuity of care, I'm extra glad to have found a doula.

Oh yeah: I found a doula! I spent ages going through all the ones on Doula UK who serve North London back in the first trimester, and despaired of finding someone who met my requirements (queer friendly etc). The only mention of LGBT+ I found was one person who mentioned same-sex partners, which isn't exactly the same as being able to cope with two trans, non-binary parents, but when I contacted her she wasn't available on my dates. I needed to back to the drawing board and do a bunch of cold calls to sound people out about it, or maybe send out a bunch of emails getting people to answer questions about trans/non-binary gender, and I was busy with work and putting it off until Leo was available to help me with it. Then in March, I was at the press event for the Woman's Strike, and one of the other organisers asked me if I had a doula yet and it turns out she just qualified!

She's a member of my community - queer friendly, trans informed, a mum and activist, overlapping life experience, likeminded, politically radical in compatible ways. She's also tiny and sensible and full of hilarious snark about woo woo yummy doula culture. I like her, I can imagine her being with me while I'm all messy and in pain. She's coming to meet Leo next week.
halojedha: (Default)
Several of our friends have offered to bring us meals after we're newborn-enabled, which is very wonderful. I'm going to post recipes we like to make it easier. These are also good for feeding us on other occasions, or indeed if you have any other need for vegan, gluten free, nightshade free cooking!



Moroccan chickpea, squash & cavolo nero stew )
halojedha: (camber sands)
We're going on holiday, but we don't know where yet!

We've earmarked the week March 27-April 4, and at the weekend I spent a few hours researching options that are a) sunny, b) less than four hours flight away, and c) beautiful and interesting. Originally I was thinking Barcelona, for the sake of going somewhere I already know so we don't have to spend ages exploring a new city (Leo has a bad hip and their mobility can be somewhat unpredictable), but when I looked up prices it seems that everyone else knows how great Barcelona is, and Airbnbs are pretty expensive. So we're looking elsewhere. My top choices are:

Antalya, Turkey - Mediterranean beach town with beautiful cliffs and turquoise sea, great snorkelling, boat trips, a sunken ruined city, waterfalls, impressive Roman and Byzantine ruins, lovely old town, museums and galleries. 18-22 degrees in March/April, although the sea is still cold (16 degrees). Turkish food is delicious and relatively Leo friendly - lots of fish and rice.

Marrakech, Morocco - I've wanted to visit Marrakech for years. I want to explore souks and art gardens and visit mosques and tombs and museums and sit on rooftops and soak up all the colours and get lost in tiny alleyways. 21 degrees in March/April. If we're in Morocco, I'm also tempted to do an excursion to the coast, either to...

Essaouria - 3-4 hours away from Marrakech via direct coach, port town with beach, art, markets, coastal walks. Big enough to have lots of places to eat, but not too crowded and touristy. It's the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean, so the sea will be colder, the waves bigger, and the wind windier.

or Oualidia - a little further north up the coast, no direct transport links so we'd need to rent a car and drive. Remote, unspoiled coastline for romantic getaway. Nothing to do but walk on the beach, sun ourselves on the terrace, and eat oysters.

We're both feeling a little overstimulated and overwhelmed from various work stresses, so right now the latter is actually sounding rather lovely. But I'm a bit nervous about being able to easily feed Leo in the land of tagine, tomatoes, peppers and couscous; and the extra travel involved in getting to the beach is time we can't spend sunning ourselves, as well as being a faff to arrange.

I also looked into Tunisia, but it's apparently a little less warm than Morocco (being further north), and the food is even more nightshade-rich, so it didn't make the shortlist.

While I was looking up flights, Skyscanner helpfully reminded me that in the event of a no deal Brexit, we'll need passports with at least 6 months left on them in order to be able to travel. (I'm mildly surprised we'd be able to travel at all, but thank you Skyscanner for the heads up!) Leo checked their passport and lo, it expired a couple of months ago. Ooops.

They've sent off for a new one, which allegedly takes 3 weeks, and we're planning to go away in a month. So will the passport office process it on time? Place bets now! We talked it over, and decided that if the passport is delayed, booking the trip and then realising at the last minute that we can't go would be quite a stressful experience. Chances are, the passport will come back in 2 or 3 weeks and we'll have 1-2 weeks notice. We had a look, and discovered that flights in a week's time are very much available and the same price as the ones in a month's time. So we've decided not to risk it. We'll wait for the passport to arrive, and then book everything once we know we can leave the country.

This is super frustrating - I dislike uncertainty and was hoping to have this holiday all booked so I could start properly anticipating it, it's well overdue - but I think it's ultimately less frustrating than wasting the flights and not being able to leave the country would be if something slows down the passport process. So we haven't decided where we're going yet! Once passport is in hand, we'll have a look at what's available and make a decision then. (If passport does not arrive in time, we'll do something in the UK.)

It's quite exciting, having a surprise holiday to look forward to. Any of the options would be lovely, and to be honest whichever we don't do now, I'd quite like to do later. I'm looking forward to seeing what we end up with!
halojedha: Rainbow tree (rainbow tree)
I FELT A KICK! It was last week. Since then I've been feeling movements most days. That first one happened late at night, just as I was drifting off to sleep. Lying there and - BOOF! Something punches me from the inside. I swear I could feel my belly stick out where its little foot connected. Such a weird, awesome feeling. There is a creature inside me! It's alive!

At first it felt a bit shocking and extraordinary - I keep on waiting for the facehugger moment - but since then I've fallen in love with the feeling. Hello tiny strong creature! The other night I felt the movements start and called Leo, who came running with just as much excitement as I was feeling. They knelt down and put their hand on my tummy, and they were able to feel it too. It's very lovely.

Why We Sleep tells me that foetuses are asleep most of the time, and I mostly feel movements at night, so chances are they're kicking in their sleep. I'm told it's a REM sleep thing? I wonder what they're dreaming about. Anyway, the baby books I've been reading recommend massaging your belly when you feel movements to "commune with your baby" but if they're asleep this won't really help. My BFF (Bestest Faery Friend), who is also pregnant, tells me that some pregnant people get to the stage where they can play tapping games with their babies though, so maybe it's worth communing anyway, on the off chance that I can catch them while they're awake.

If nothing else, lying and tuning into my tummy sensations to see if I can feel anything is a nice way to spend the time when I'm trying to sleep.

Week 20 symptoms:
- Achy ribs, especially when sitting down. I guess my bump is getting heavy, and my rib muscles aren't used to it?
- Morning nausea (STILL) although I've become a fucking expert at managing it. It's all about eating the right things at the right time. Basically I need blood sugar asap after waking up - which in practice means waiting half an hour for my thyroid meds to kick in, then hitting breakfast, and eating toast or yoghurt and honey, rather than something low GI like porridge. Last time I tried eating porridge, a few days ago (it was so beautiful, with berries and seeds) I puked it all up again before I'd finished the bowl. No more porridge.
- Spots, especially on my shoulders and under my chin
- Itchy, sensitive skin
- Moodswings. I thought I was meant to get these in the first trimester, when I was too tired to really feel anything. But I'm getting them now. The last few days have been a rollercoaster. I hope it levels out soon!

We have our 20 week scan tomorrow, when apparently we get a full foetus tour, which is cool. I didn't manage to pick up my anti-emetic prescription from the hospital pharmacy yet, so I'll do that while we're at the hospital if I remember.

We've been shortlisting names, and have found several we like. Now we just need to be firm about not wanting to know the assumed sex of our child at the scan tomorrow...

I'm 20 weeks and 5 days. Over halfway! The bump already feels massive - I'm starting to feel like it's leading me around, it's definitely the frontmost part of my body. (It was neck and neck with my boobs for a while as they were getting bigger, but now it's in the lead.) I suspect I'm going to be ginormous in a few months.
halojedha: (mermaid)
Pregnancy news: I'm 19+2, and apparently this week the foetus is the size of a mango. A mango! Mangoes are huge! There are times when I look and feel seriously pregnant - especially after eating, everything seems to get pushed out in front of me all the way up to my ribs, not low like a pot belly but a big high curve. Then in the morning it all looks a bit more deflated.

Week 19 pregnancy symptoms:
- Itchy skin
- Achy muscles, particularly my shoulders, back and intercostals (my ribs start to kill me after I've been sitting still too long)
- Morning sickness (STILL!!)

No swollen feet yet, so I guess that's something. No kicks yet either! I am VERY SAD about this. They are the size of a MANGO how can I not feel them. My bump is big, and at my last scan they said the placenta was behind the baby so I should be able to feel something, but everyone tells me I'll know it when I feel it, and I haven't felt anything yet. I know feeling something for the first time around 18-20 weeks is normal for a first pregnancy, so there's still time, but in the middle of the night when I wake up and everything is still and dark and quiet and I think, surely I should be feeling SOMETHING, it's a bit tricky not to feel anxious. Maybe the foetus is only awake during the day when I'm distracted? Maybe it's died? Maybe I'm not pregnant? Maybe I've just been eating too much pasta?

I have a 20 week foetal anomaly scan booked in on the 27th, so I'll get to watch it wiggling around then and hopefully that should put my fears to rest. Meanwhile the NHS website tells me that 16-24 weeks is normal, so it seems there's over a month before I should start worrying.

I had my obstetrician appointment to talk about endocrine stuff. He said he's not at all worried about my thyroid levels because the supplements are obviously working, but he's referred me for a couple of glucose tests because the PCOS puts me at risk of gestational diabetes. I haven't booked the first one yet, although it was meant to be at 18 weeks, because my schedule just felt too full and I'm a bit sick of losing the whole morning to hospital appointments. Plus it's a fasting test, which means I won't be able to eat to suppress my morning nausea, which means I'll be sick and ... ugh. I'm not looking forward to it.

The good news is that he wrote me a prescription for an antiemetic to help with the morning sickness. I didn't realise I needed to go to the hospital pharmacy to get it, so I guess I'll pick it up next time I go in.

I have heaps of energy, and I also get tired easily. I keep volunteering for things. I've been working really hard on building one of my online income streams, which was super fun for a while, and then it got really boring (omg I hate doing promo), and then it got stressful that I wasn't seeing immediate results. Oh well. I'm enjoying the energy while it lasts.
halojedha: (Default)
Hello, happy Saturday! I did my first [community profile] getyourwordsout check-in, hooray!

Words in January: 8271
Pledge monthly goal: 6370 (assuming I can write the same number of words every month this year)
Personal monthly goal: 10000 (adjusted to take into account baby in July)

So I'm ahead of the pledge goal (woop woop!) and not quite up to my personal goal (I wrote another 1230 words on the 1st, so if I sneakily count that as January, that bring my total to 9501). Not bad since I didn't join the challenge until the 14th.

All of that work was on the non-fiction book (yay!). I'm thrilled that I've managed to get out of the big-runup-and-then-binge way of working. Being able to sit down for an hour and just write is incredibly freeing, and it actually means it fits into my life. I'm finding afternoon and evening are the best times, rather than morning - mornings are still slow for me, what with all the pregnancy stuff.

Project progress:
Words: 32518
Chapters: 6.5
Chapters remaining: 18.5

If I continue at the current words-per-chapter rate, the finished draft is going to be 130 000 words. Which is long for a non-fiction book, even one that's half memoir and half discussion. I'm not looking forward to editing if I have to basically cut half of it. But until the whole thing is finished, I don't know what's relevant and what isn't. And as I write it, I may find that some of the later chapters or sections I have planned can be cut, because I've already made those points. I'm tending to make points the first time they come up, so there might end up being a lot of rearranging later. (I'm imagining myself on the floor, surrounded by post-its, crying.) Aaaand most importantly, if I start self-censoring as I write I'll clam up, so the best thing to do for now is just open the floodgates, and get the red pen out later.

As well as the lightly-held goal of reaching my annual pledge of 75000 words by the time the baby arrives in July (if I don't, I'm sure I can get some more words out towards the end of the year, even if I take a few months off from writing over the summer), I also have my eye on the finished first draft. Getting to the end of draft zero before the baby arrives, is... probably too ambitious? But it's in sight, if not in reach.
halojedha: (mermaid)
Week 16 (and a half!). Apparently the foetus is as big as an avocado, which is vague: do they mean a big avocado or a small avocado? (Answer: 4.6inches long, which I think is pretty big.) I did get sent a chart describing all the foetus sizes as small animals, which was much more fun, although I hadn't heard of half of them.

Energy levels are up and down. I went back to work in the second week of January and felt a m a z i n g - full of enthusiasm and drive! Did some really worthwhile strategising with Leo, doing the maths and comparing estimates for different income streams. I wanted to know whether it was better to try to grow Income Stream A or B to build up my online sales/subscriptions and generate ongoing passive/low maintenance income during my parental leave, or whether I was better off doing loads of Paid Work C in the months before the baby arrives to get cash in the bank. The answer surprised me; our estimates might have been out by a factor of 2 or so, but we calculated that the time it would take to double my income from Project A would be more than twice what I currently spend on it, so my hourly rate would end up being lower at the end of it. A would have to be four times more successful than my estimate in order to compete with B. So, B it is. It's been fun - I've enjoyed having something to really get my teeth into after taking so much time off work during the first trimester.

I had two good weeks back at work, kind of hyperfocused in fact. It felt great to really crack on with things, but I struggled with task switching and ended up neglecting other things, like personal messages. Last week, my energy levels fell again and I felt really fatigued all week. It was the sort of fatigue I could just about push through, so I did - I was very determined to finish the things I'd started. Maybe I overdid it, but all I can think about is how much I didn't do. (Like write any words). Things got easier at the weekend, when I could have naps. Naps are great.

Last night I slept nearly 12 hours, and the first two hours of the day were super bleary and fuzzy. I'm at the hospital now for my 16 week antenatal appointment. The appointments are kind of ridiculously frequent - one every 4 weeks or so. Part of me resents having to spend so much time in hospital waiting rooms, but I guess it's good not to be neglected.

Second trimester pregnancy symptoms so far:
Weeks 12-16: Morning puking
Weeks 13-16: Continual low-level headaches around the eye/brow/temple area. I'm taking paracetamol every so often. Sometimes it's ignorable, and sometimes it gets really wearing.
Weeks 13-15: middle of the night insomnia
Week 15: Fatigue (possibly related)
Week 16: Gritty itchy eyes that water a lot

Ongoing symptoms like the runny nose, twingey ligaments and needing to pee every 5 minutes continue. The bump is growing noticeably. I have periods of feeling full of beans, and other times I get tired easily and feel super heavy and... well, pregnant.

The morning puking is much more like what I expected from the first trimester. Weeks 7-12 I was unremittingly, debilitatingly nauseous - totally overwhelmed by it, couldn't even sit up to read, but didn't actually puke. In fact my first vom was on Christmas morning. Since then the vomiting has been pretty regular, although the nausea is much less intrusive.

I take my thyroid supplements in the mornings, and I can't eat for 30 mins after taking them. The morning nausea is related to low blood sugar, so eating something is the best remedy. I've been trying to get into the habit of taking the meds as soon as I gain consciousness, and then sort of flopping back in bed for a bit, so that by the time I'm ready to move and make myself some toast, enough time has passed that I can eat. It doesn't always work out. This morning I timed everything perfectly, was feeling fuzzy but not particularly nauseous, and then as soon as I sat down at the table with my tea and toast I was overwhelmed by sudden nausea and had to flee to the bathroom.

Overall, I think I prefer sudden onset morning nausea that results in puking and then goes away, to constant 24/7 nausea that doesn't. But I can't wait for this stage to be over.

Today is the first really sunny day so far this year. It's still cold, but the light is so glorious I don't mind at all. I'm eagerly anticipating summer for the warmer weather and the arrival of our tiny one, but I'm also grateful to have these months of freedom to focus on various projects and get ready.
halojedha: (gloaming)
I joined a writing challenge! Thanks to [profile] disgruntledowl for linking me to [community profile] getyourwordsout the day before they stopped accepting new pledges. I'm excited: I've been looking for ways to build a regular writing habit and break out of the only-when-the-muse-is-too-loud-to-ignore, putting-it-off-until-I-can't-any-longer, binge-writing-for-hours-until-I'm-exhausted pattern that I wrote in last year.

I started writing two new projects last year. By the end of the year my count was:

Non-fiction book:
23017 words
9 writing days
17 total hours

Novel:
5090 words
2 writing days
5 total hours

I am very interested in clocking more than 11 writing days and 28k words this year. Here are my writing goals )
halojedha: (Default)
Thanks to those who encouraged me to post some paintings here, in hopes of clearing out some of the Many Arts that are cluttering up my house, here is a massive art post!

Pricing: pay what you like, within reason! I know roughly how much time and skill each painting took, and what it's worth to me, but I'm not wedded to particular price points. I'm open to offers. For reference, the littlest and simplest ones probably took me 2-5 hours, and the biggest and most complex ones took several days. Big and simple / little and complex somewhere in between, and oil tends to take longer than acrylics. A couple of these are collaborations - in those cases I'd be splitting payment 50/50 with the other artist. I'll post them in (very rough) ascending order of how much they're worth to me. Leave a comment or drop me a message if something catches your eye and let me know what you'd like to pay, and if your offer seems reasonable then it's yours. :) Feel free to be honest about what you can afford - I support accessible pricing, won't be offended and might say yes!

Arts, finest arts! Get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely )

Unfurling

Jan. 2nd, 2019 07:45 pm
halojedha: (Default)
It's 2019! I'm really enjoying reading everyone's end-of-year round ups, but I've been too sick to write one so far. Came down with a cold while visiting my parents for Christmas, and am currently on the fifth day of ills. Leo has succumbed too. We were planning to go to a queer warehouse party for NYE, although I was a little unsure about whether my energy levels would be up to it, and then in the end the decision was made for us. We had my first adult Quiet NYE In, and divided it between reading on the sofa and talking and cuddling in bed, listening to the fireworks go off in the street behind the house. It was wonderful.

Since then we've both felt a lot more ill. After three days of lying in bed reading and napping I've started to feel super restless and fidgety, but every time I try to get up, I feel dizzy and have to stop. We've been chipping away at the housework, with variable success: today it was only because Leo caught me at it that I realised I've been refilling our E-cover washing up liquid from the laundry liquid refill. I'd been complaining for the last month that the washing up liquid wasn't really doing the job, and now we know why. Now that it actually contains washing up liquid, the washing up is going much easier. Who'd have thunk!

I tried to do some Qi Gong yesterday - thanks to fatigue, going away to visit family, and the centre being closed for the holidays, I've missed three weeks of Tai Chi classes - but had to stop and have a sit down. Got my disused yoga mat out and did some floor work instead, starting with just rolling around to try and loosen up my achy bits, and ending up doing 20 mins of stretching, including various bits and pieces borrowed from pilates and yoga. My body was so thirsty for the movement, it was like YES, YES, MORE OF THIS. I felt tired afterwards, but a lot less stiff today.

The New Forest visit was a great success. D and G were in fine form and made a great fuss of us, and Leo worked really hard sorting out their stuff from the storage locker and lofts.

I had a good time too: G took us to the garden centre and bought me Pots and Things as a Christmas present, including a fabulous planter shaped like a giant teapot. I haven't decided which of the indoor plants to repot in which pots yet, but I'm looking forward to it. We also bought an extension pole for our pothos, which has reached the summit of the climbing pole it came with, and is currently waving around at the top looking for things to latch onto with its little caterpillar feet. We are not going to let it destroy the plaster, but we are going to give it some extra height to climb. (There's a metaphor here: something something needing structures in place before one can unfurl and reach one's full potential?)

Before the solstice party one of our friends did a bang-up job dressing Pothos as our Christmas tree, so he currently looks very jolly decked out in tinsel and baubles.

The highlight of the New Forest trip, for me, was writing. After spending the weekend gently socialising in the kitchen, helping out with cooking and cleaning a bit, but mostly tangling with Leo on the sofa and reading, I felt thoroughly recharged. I'm binge-reading (re-reading, in some cases) Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books at the moment, which are addictive and page-turny, but also atrociously written (or perhaps edited) in places. I can't turn off the part of my brain that notices redundant words / sentences / paragraphs / whole pages that are just repetitive and unnecessary, nor the part that spots all the little typos and inconsistencies and plot holes and daft worldbuilding. I say all this with love; I enjoy the books tremendously, I've just read eleven of them in a row and am about to start on the twelfth.

Anyway, something about reading a novel with mental red pen in hand tickled my little competitive "I could do better than this" impulse. There's a novel I conceived nearly three years ago, while on a weekend minibreak with friends in Lisbon, which I haven't given myself any opportunity to work on yet, mostly because of self-pressure to work on the non-fiction book I'm in the middle of writing, if I'm going to write anything. While I've been off work sick the last couple of months, the novel has been bubbling up - particularly during those pre-dawn insomnia hours when I wake up around 4am and can't get back to sleep. I've been spending time in the places and with the characters, fairly passively sitting back and letting it all flesh itself out.

So on Sunday evening in the New Forest, after an entirely indolent weekend, we settled down to sleep and it all started blooming again, new details, new character interactions. I lay with it for half an hour, then decided to get up and start writing down some notes so I wouldn't forget it. I took my laptop downstairs and curled up on the sofa in the quiet and the dark. Three hours later I'd written three thousand words.

I got five hours sleep, got up again, and after breakfast I wrote over another two thousand. That's all so far - life and Christmas and ills have got in the way since then. But I know the next bit, and there was more brewing while I was showering today, so I'm looking forward to getting back to it.

This is my first long-form attempt at fiction since I was a nipper. It feels exciting and completely self-indulgent to spend time on something so selfishly pleasurable, without any anticipation of it being finished or published or useful any time soon. There's a part of my brain telling me that if I'm well enough to write the novel, I'm well enough to do all the other things I should be doing. But sod it. Inspiration is precious, and doesn't come every day.

There's a small secret part of me that has wanted to be an author my whole life, and it's never going to happen unless I write. Maybe the novel can sit on the back burner and be the thing I work on when I'm too bummed out to do anything else, and I can twiddle with it while procrastinating on the non-fiction book. Or maybe I'll get totally obsessed with the novel and it'll take over my life, and then when that's started to feel like work and I find myself inclined to procrastinate that, I'll go back to the non-fiction. The main impediment to the non-fiction book being finished is that I'm not in the habit of writing: I think just letting myself writing whatever I feel like is the key to unblocking that, and things will get written in the order they do.
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A thing that has recently occupied my mind when I wake up at 6am and try to get back to sleep:

Our house contains a lot of art I've done. It's not my best art, for the most part. A couple of the pieces are Not For Sale, and kept intentionally; some have transitioned from For Sale I Guess, to Okay I'm Definitely Keeping This after they didn't sell long enough for me to fall in love with them. But most of the paintings are only in the house because I didn't sell them, back when I was actively trying to sell paintings (which petered out around seven years ago). Some of them are on the walls, because at least they're cheerful and colourful even if they don't have any significant personal meaning, and a lot of them are in stacks in my office, and in the nook at the top of the stairs. Some of the stacks are unfinished canvases, which is fine up to a point. (Although I am considering instituting a one-in-one-out policy on those, so that I have to either finish them, or accept I never will and paint over them). But the stacks of finished paintings that aren't on the walls really does feel like a waste.

In the spirit of trying to reduce our Burden of Stuff, which is what we're currently doing at Leo's folks' place, I guess these unwanted paintings have been weighing on me, and I'm trying to figure out what to do about them. I could try to sell them. But how much are they worth? I used to sell paintings for far too little - affordable prices, not enough to pay me minimum wage for the time it took to do them. Now, I'm more aware of the value of my time. But if the aim is just to rehome them, maybe it doesn't matter.

I'm loathe to take on a new entrepreneurial project. Taking photos, writing descriptions, listing them on Etsy (and Ebay? Maybe Facebook? Where else can one sell original paintings?) is a lot of admin, and Etsy and Ebay usually charge listing fees too, which means if they don't sell I'm out of pocket as well as having wasted my time. And once I start opening the "art as a business" box in my head, I become uncomfortably aware that my art website is terribly out of date, and I haven't added any new works to it for years and years, and I dislike the design - but I have other projects which are far higher value. And rebuilding a website seems like a very inefficient way to clear some space in my house.

Perhaps it would be easier to give them away, rather than getting hung up on their monetary value. This is definitely my policy for getting rid of things like clothes, because selling things on Ebay is a faff and after you factor in time taken, really not worth the few quid you end up earning.

What it comes down to is that I'm reluctant to devalue my work - these paintings took time and skill and that's worth something - but shifting them as Stock, rather than as Stuff, involves a lot more time and effort, as well as engaging the business part of my brain which frankly has far more important things to be doing. What to do?
halojedha: (Default)
Last night a friend and I curled up on the sofa to watch a film. I'd had the songs from The Little Mermaid stuck in my head in the shower that morning, so that was my first suggestion, but when we opened Netflix I was reminded that there was this new live action/CGI film out in a similar Disneyish vein. I heard of it via [personal profile] mr_magicfingers, who works in the film industry and was on the SFXVFX team for Mowgli. I try to watch stuff he's been involved in, if only for the pleasure of seeing his name in the credits :)

So, Mowgli: a straight-to-Netflix original with a big CGI budget. It's enjoyable fluff and beautiful eye candy. I could happily watch those sweeping shots through the jungle for hours, and the background of the closing credit sequence would make a stunning psychedelic video projection (or even desktop screensaver). The score was stunning. Rohan Chand as Mowgli was watchable and convincingly energetic (the enthusiastic running around, and the scene where he's learning to leap and catch a branch and stubbornly hurls himself across the gap time after time, not caring that he keeps landing on his face, reminded me of a certain 13 year old boy I know). And the voice performances were amazing, from a stellar cast including Andy Serkis as a gruffly cockney Baloo (Serkis was also the director), Cate Blanchett as a scary and mystical Kaa, Christian Bale as a wonderfully sympathetic Bagheera, and Benedict Cumberbatch growly and resonant as Shere Khan. I could listen to his voice all day, although if I had to close my eyes I'm not sure I could have told the difference between Shere Khan and Smaug.

It was also very heckleable, with enough silly moments and narrative inconsistencies to result in a fair amount of shouting at the screen.

Spoilers )

In summary: perfect film for talking over with a friend because you pretty much know the story already, nicely tense without being too scary (although the bloody bits were convincingly brutal), visually gorgeous fairytale. Don't expect it to make perfect sense, and you won't be disappointed.
halojedha: (Default)
Thankyou to [personal profile] doseybat for introducing me to this excellent taxonomy of foods by starch location: the cube rule of food identification.

Highlights:
  • Nigeri is toast
  • Hot dogs are tacos, and so is a slice of pie
  • Pop tarts are calzone

Also, it has allowed me to identify my Sandwich Alignment (Structural Neutral, Ingredient Rebel).
halojedha: (Default)
So, Tumblr have kicked out adult content - maybe we'll see a resurgence of users on Dreamwidth?

Despite my recent posting hiatus (chronic illness blah blah) I'm interested in re-engaging with Dreamwidth. Not for adult content, for the most part, but as an alternative to Facebook. I've cut my Facebook usage back to the bare minimum: I've never installed the app on my phone, my stock reply on Messenger is to ask people to contact me on Signal or Whatsapp instead, I've disabled my feed in Chrome and Firefox on my laptop and PC, and (in theory) I only Facebook for events now - the one feature which is hard to replace.

In practice, I haven't figured out how to turn off my feed on my phone, so I do still find myself scrolling there - although I have got into the habit of using mbasic.facebook.com rather than m.facebook.com, so it only shows me a handful of posts at a time, and I have to actively quick a link to fetch more - which is more disruptive than the infinity scroll and, after a few clicks, reminds me to stop and do something else.

Anyway, my intention is to pretty much not post original content on FB at all and post it here instead. But I do still find myself sharing interesting links on FB which crop up in my feed, when I come across them while scrolling on my phone.

I recently found this recipe by [personal profile] siderea on how to build a virtual community on LJ/DW. To build engagement, she advises posting as many blegs (questions, asking for recommendations) as diary posts, and more pointers (links to interesting things online) than either. This kinda makes sense - diary posts can be hard to comment on, and pointers are likely to be shorter and feel lower-pressure, as well as being safe topics for small talk, and easier for people who don't know each other well to pitch in on.

Personally I like the way that LJ/DW encourage relative strangers to read and comment on each other's personal stuff, but I can see the wisdom of posting more quick link type posts. So far I've mostly used Dreamwidth for diary-type posts, and used Facebook for link sharing. Moving the links here would serve two purposes: it would cut down my engagement on Facebook by another degree, and it would maybe increase engagement here.

It's going to be tricky to make the switch - I only scroll my FB feed on my phone, and I haven't got the hang of DW posting from my phone yet. But I think it would keep me coming back to DW regularly enough that hopefully I'd avoid another hiatus like the ten week one that just happened.

--

The main issue I'm having with Dreamwidth is finding friends on here. When I created this account I wanted to start fresh, without a backlink to my previous DW/LJ identities. I posted a link friends-only on Facebook, but I don't know how many people saw it. At present, I'm pretty sure most of the people who follow my previous accounts, and who would still be interested in following me, don't know I'm here. Perhaps the answer is a friends-locked post on my old account, letting people know about this one - it would help old friends find me without linking new contacts back to my old accounts.

Anyway, if there are people you know I know who are on DW, but I'm not following them, please link us up!
halojedha: (Default)
Leo and I both have specific dietary needs. From time to time, lovely friends of ours offer to cook for us (thank you friends!), so I thought it would be useful to start writing down recipes, to make it easy for people to look up suitable dinner ideas that won't be bad for us. This is the first post in the series - I'll be tagging them under recipes. In this post I'll just give an overview of our food needs.

Leo's food allergies )

My food needs )

Food we can both eat )

Basically, there are loads of things we can eat, and loads of delicious things you can make with them!

Mmm, I'm hungry now. Recipes involving these yummy ingredients coming soon.
halojedha: (Default)
Life moves on faster than I can write about it.

It's Saturday, and I've spent today working on an article for an academic journal and tearing my hair out. The deadline is tomorrow. I'm going to finish in time, but I won't have had any rest this weekend.

I do a bunch of relatively high-powered writing and teaching, and none of it normally causes me grief. There's something about the experience of engaging with academia which makes all the old head squirrels wake up. Turns out they were hibernating right where I'd left them.

This is going to be my first peer-reviewed publication, although I've written numerous blogposts, newspaper and magazine articles, etc etc in the course of my campaigning work. I'm not affiliated with any academic institution. I got an MPhil 12 years ago, but these days I describe myself as an "independent scholar" for the purpose of evidence submissions and consultation responses. Still, it's notable how quickly the impostor syndrome comes flooding back when I start writing something for peer review.

It's hard. I mean, writing is hard: I'm working on a non-fiction book, and that's hard too. But there's something about the idea of peer review that tickles all my perfectionist tendencies. The article has a 3000 word limit, and the topic is one I've been studying for two and a half years, so I easily know enough to fill a book. (That's not the book I'm writing, though: I'm so bored of this topic, I'm surprised I've consented to write an article on it.) The challenge is cutting it down to fit the word limit. But every time I try to summarise, a voice in my head imagines all the counter arguments, and I find myself trying to prove my points rather than simply state them. 3000 words isn't enough for much rigour, unless you have a really narrow focus. I'm writing a broad overview, not a deep dive. Still, given my position as a non-academic (at least in the traditional sense), I feel like I have something to prove. I'm present to all the complexity and nuance of the subject matter, and there simply isn't time to do it justice.

So it's hard: and that triggers the tiny, dormant voice; This shouldn't be so hard. If you were smart enough, it wouldn't be. It's bullshit. I've been an activist and artist for years, and I'm plenty smart to teach myself everything I need to know to do the things I want to do. I've learned new skills, new disciplines; I'm constantly pushing myself and striving for deeper understanding, more persuasive communication tools, more rational analytical frameworks, a better grasp of the underlying truth. I've never, in the course of following the most interesting thread in my work, found something I wasn't smart enough to learn. So I have no idea why writing something for academic publication suddenly makes me question my intelligence. It's toxic: the perfectionism, the competitiveness, the self-doubt. This is why I left academia after completing my MPhil. I'm only doing this now so I can reach more people - and because a peer-reviewed publication will be a convincing line on my political CV. I'm looking forward to being done with it. And I'm looking forward - not this weekend, not last weekend, but maybe next weekend - to having a proper day of rest.
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My toe is already well on the way to recovery! I'm frankly astonished. It was fully purple yesterday, but putting arnica on it, taking care of it and getting lots of sleep seems to have been helping - the bruising has already gone down a lot. I'm surprised but relieved - I guess it was probably a bruise rather than a sprain. So glad I didn't call it and sell my Microburn ticket!

Leo's back is faring less well. They managed to sell their ticket yesterday, so at least they've recouped their costs. I'm less nervous about going on my own now that it looks like my toe is likely to be well on the way to recovery by then. I've got lovely friends offering to help me transport my stuff from the car, and a sturdy pair of hiking boots, and I'm totally open to going a day late or whatever if that seems like it would work better.

I'm actually excited about flying solo. I'll miss Leo of course, but I've not done a solo festival since we got together, and it'll be really good to have the chance to do my thing and make new connections. If I can't do my normal bouncing-around-the-dancefloor act there'll be time for lots of workshops and chats instead - I'm looking forward to deepening friendships, meeting new people, doing my volunteering shifts and seeing what the burn has to offer. I've emailed the Rangers to let them know that I might not be able to do much ranging, but I imagine a slightly limpy Ranger will be better than no Ranger at all, and honestly based on current progress I might even be fully healed by then.

We had a lovely Sunday yesterday. Went swimming before breakfast - non-gravity-dependent activity being my concession to the toe - which was the first time I'd done so in several years. It was really nice. I slipped straight back into my old rhythm, and enjoyed the meditative focus of ottering up and down. Took it quite easy, with a few rests and a bit of a sit in the sauna (before I realised that was for members only, oops!) but still did 50 lengths in the hour. Got back home, ate a massive brunch and then we both read in bed and had a nearly-two hour nap in the sun. Perfect. I'd like to go back to the pool soon, it feels like swimming is really good for my body, and I think it would be a great complement to the Tai Chi.

I haven't been back to Kung Fu yet. I do want to - my teacher has asked where I've been - but last time as well as wiping me out for the whole of that day, it also gave me noodle legs, knee pain and a fatigue crash that took four days to recover from. That's fine, as long as it's temporary - I'm not going to keep it up if that happens every time, but hopefully I'd get stronger quickly at first, in the way you do when you're a total n00b at a new fitness thing, and reach a stage where it was sustainable. But if I'm going back, I want it to be on a day when I can reasonably take it easy for the next couple of days, and the last couple of weeks have been so full that I haven't had the opportunity. I'm certainly not going to do it before Microburn. So Kung Fu is on the back burner for now.

Looking after a human body is like walking a tightrope. If you never challenge it it atrophies, and if you push it too hard you can do yourself damage. Trying to work out how much activity is the right amount of activity is a constant challenge.
halojedha: (Default)
Three weeks ago Leo threw their back out lifting something heavy (part of the aforementioned Wrangling of Stuff). A week ago it got bad enough they saw an osteopath: since then they've had two more appointments, gone back to work, overdone it, had to take more time off, and generally been in pain and incapacitated. They've been doing the rest, heat and gentle stretching thing for the last three days, but a sprained ligament is always going to take time to heal.

We have tickets to go to Microburn this week: a beautiful tiny regional in Wales. 150 delightful people, a single communal kitchen, a beautiful organic farm, a rave chapel, yurts, workshops, and all the rest of the stuff you get from a burn. Hanging out with competent, cheerful humans whose default mode is to see what needs doing, take the initiative and get stuck in; fabulous fun and self-expression with lots of costumery and silliness; lots of gender non-conforming, queer, poly and kinky people; rewarding opportunities to participate; an escape from commercialism; and all the rest. There's an effigy burn and a temple burn. It's small but perfectly formed. In addition to our kitchen shifts we're both signed up to Ranger on Saturday and Fire Marshal at the temple burn on Sunday, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The thing is, Leo probably now can't make it. Even if their back has healed up enough by Thursday for it to be a good idea, it would risk setting their recovery back; and the burn and recovery time would both take them away from work when the injury has already done so, and they can't really afford to not be making progress with their startup right now.

So that's disappointing. I was starting to psych myself up to doing the driving-to-Wales and the unpacking and the tent pitching all by myself (I've not done a solo burn since Leo and I got together: I went to Nest 2016 solo, but booked space in one of the dorms so that was on Easy mode, and at Nowhere that year I was sharing a tent with my BFF (Bestest Faery Friend) apart from when I was sharing a tent with Leo, so I didn't do the travelling or the tent-pitching on my own then either. I'm a more experienced burner these days - six burns under my belt, including one assistant camp-lead role at Nowhere last year, and multiple other lead roles (decor/lighting/events/kitchen) and I did the getting-to-Nest thing by myself this year because Leo didn't come for build, and I do have buddies at Microburn I can team up with, but still. It's a bit intimidating.

The thing is, that would all be fine, but yesterday at work I fell down the stairs and sprained my toe. That's what I get for working on a Saturday. The second two toes on my left foot are super sore and very very reluctant to have weight put on them. They still bend okay so they aren't broken, and the bruising hasn't become visible yet, but ow.

I have a busy three days Mon-Weds this week, with at least two of those days involving schlepping around London for work, and the third one prepping and packing for the burn, all of which is going to be harder to do with a foot I can't put weight on properly. Plus it might mean I have to miss Tai Chi on Monday and Tuesday. Woe! Toe woe!

So now I'm wondering whether Microburn is even a good idea. I really want to go and have an amazing time, work has been busy lately and I hunger for a break, friend time, being outdoors and off grid. But camping is physically demanding - the mud, the carrying stuff around, the long walks everywhere including to the loo - and camping solo even more so, without someone to share the tent-pitching and bed-putting-up and striking duties with. And if my toe isn't better by then dancing and hooping will be tricky.

I sprained my ankle at the start of Nowhere 2016 on the third day of build while Leo and I were creating a new theme camp with one other co-lead, which was catastrophic timing. I'm not saying I wish I hadn't gone, but it was hard to have enough fun for the rest of the week to make the effort and pain worthwhile. The poor payoff to effort ratio was the main reason we chose not to go to Nowhere this year; desert burns are hard and there are more valuable ways to spend a month of our lives. I'm not saying that the challenge wasn't rewarding - it was - but I'm reluctant to push myself beyond sensible limits to get to Microburn and set things up so I'm comfortable while there, and then possibly be too exhausted or footsore to properly enjoy it once I'm there.

Today is the last day to transfer tickets, so if I want to sell my space I have to decide today. I dunno though. It kind of depends on how bad the sprain is and how quickly it heals. It might be fine by Thursday: there's really no way to tell.

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