something rantish for the weekend

at 17:04

Friday, 28 September 2007

There is one hell of a rant up over at my tattoo blog. Note to self: avoid mentioning plans for a full back piece when out with people you've known since the age of eleven. It never ends well.


betch says to spill it...

at 11:03

Friday, 21 September 2007

.. and so I shall. As it seems like all the cool kids are doing it I feel it's time for me to get bandwagon jumping and share the story of the time I got explamoded. Unfortunately, intertwined with this tale is the story of my parents' divorce and a fulsome helping of Daddy issues. Obviously this isn't the entire story and while my original intention was to share the gruesome details of my spectacular injury story it kind of morphed into something else. That being said, and without further ado, may I present to you...

Alex and the Model Steam Engine
a tale of fire and bad parenting

First up some background to the story. This story is set during a trial "get back together" period between my parents' splitting up and their eventual, and very welcome divorce. My parents split up when I was three and a half, it wasn't a particularly fun time for my Mother and years of having her husband's infidelity paraded around in front of her (case in point: I spend my second birthday at the zoo with my Father and his "Mistress of the Moment" the dreaded Fiona) and being constantly belittled and manipulated finally took their toll leaving her aged 29 and single, with a three year old daughter, crippling agoraphobia, panic attacks and clinical depression so bad that she refused to be left alone with her own child for fear of what she might be capable of doing. In essence: she was not a well woman. We lived with my Grandparents during that time and slowly but surely she started getting a little better (she's completely well now by the way, stronger than she ever was, totally stable and probably going kick my ass when I inevitably tell her about posting this).

Needless to say that my Father had to fuck that element of her life up too, and so a year later they got back together to "try again", moving into a shabby ex-council flat in the village where my Mother grew up. My Father continued to work in London during this time so he would stay in town during the week (and enjoy all the associated drug taking, easy women and heavy drinking that went with City life in the late 80s) and then come home on Fridays to his wife and child.

This story takes place late one Friday afternoon just before I turned five years old. I was out playing in the street with some kids that lived on the same road as me. As a kid I was a fairly cute creature - button nose, chubby cheeks, absolutely giant green eyes, shiny black hair in a bob - imagine Boo from Monster's Inc. - yeah that was me as a kid (so much so that the movie freaked my Mother out to the point where she can't actually sit through it) - superfluous information I know but things are always worse when they happen to adorable moppets aren't they? That day I was calmly minding my own business, probably lost in a daydream, when two slightly older boys asked if I wanted to look at the toy they had.

That "toy" was a real working traction engine. One of these:

I'd just like to take a moment to draw your attention to the specs of this kind of model, namely the fuel source: dry spirit tablets. Note the "dry" part of that. "Dry" not "damp", not "moist", not "slightly soggy" but "dry". Got that noted? Good.

Do you know what you shouldn't use to heat up the engine and power the thing? Liquid meths. Know what happens if you do use liquid meths to fuel one of these?

Yeah: Kaboom.

Unfortunately, I was leaning over the machine - trying to figure out how it worked -as the meths was lit and the fireball erupted outwards. The flames licked up the backs of both of my legs, they ran up my right arm searing the material of my sweater to my skin and singeing off the hair hanging on that side of my face. I can't remember it hurting. All I remember of it is the heat and turning to run as fast as I could home.

As all of this was happening my Mother was on the phone to her husband. He was due to come home that night and they were arranging what time he'd be back when she heard a blood curdling scream.

Him: "What was that?"
Her: "Oh my God, it's L____!"

Cue her dropping the phone and racing outside to see what the hell had just happened to me. I looked like I'd just staggered out of a warzone, my clothes and face were blackened with soot and what skin she could see was a livid red. Instincts from her time as a nurse must have kicked in, my Mother is superb in any kind of crisis - especially those involving me - as long as it isn't her own, and I was promptly dumped in a bath and covered with icy water, which in hindsight may not have been the best idea but at least stopped me from screaming. All in all, I can't fault her response. I had huge fist-sized blisters all up the backs of my legs, the material from my cardigan had stopped the damage to my arms from being too severe and even more luckily my face seemed to have escaped anything permanent. Still, I couldn't sit for weeks - my clearest memory of the time was lying on my front watching Dumbo on video and getting a crick in my neck from the weird angle. Oh and the bucket. That thing still gives me nightmares.

This I knew, this I remembered. The rest was news to me the first time I heard it a couple of years ago - incidentally even I was incredulous about the claims until I had been told by several different sources - and it has since become my very favourite illustration of bad paternal parenting.

My Father had been on the phone at the time it all happened, he'd heard the scream and he knew it was me. Considering he was due to be back that night anyway he obviously raced back up the motorway and home to his injured five year old daughter, right?

You haven't really been listening have you?

He in fact, does not race home immediately. In fact he doesn't come home at all that night. He instead tuns up the next day, still drunk and informs my Mother that they are going out that evening and that his parents would be babysitting me. Oh, they lived about a 45 minute drive away incidentally. My Mother now would tell him to go fuck himself and the horse he rode in on, however my Mother 18 years ago quietly, and with tears welling up, went and got her coat.

And that is how, at the age of five and with second degree burns I ended up standing up in the back seat of my parents' car for almost an hour while my still over the limit Father drove to his parents' house and my Mother silently decided that she needed a divorce.

Update: I told a good friend of mine about the contents of this post and her response was such:
"Bit fucking bleak isn't it?"

Thought I should probably point out that despite the mopey tone of this post I actually find the whole thing amusing rather than tragic. It's usually funny when I tell it. It's probably something to do with hand gestures.

tuesday morning D&M

at 12:31

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

I'm in a self-analysing mood at the moment and lacking a digital camera, scanner or any other gizmo to make my post more entertaining than it currently is we're left with only my words to provide diversion. About this I am very, truly sorry. Today's post is one of big questions and fairly intense introspection. Again, I'm sorry.

I'm in one of my "happiness in blue" moods at the moment so forgive the semi-morose tone of my post. My very mild synesthaesia means that I associate colours with almost everything, days, numbers, pieces of music (although that's more of a dynamic thing) and also emotions. Those who know me well instinctively understand my happiness scale based on what colour I'm feeling - happiness in pink is the scary one, it's brightly chipper and usually steeped heavily in denial, happiness in green is my favourite because it feels something like closing your eyes and tilting your face towards the sun. Happiness in red is distracted and shivery, it comes from an evening surrounded by friends or catching a boy looking, it leads to humming and glazed over eyes. And then there's happiness in blue - it's a late Sunday night with a bottle of wine kind of happiness - it's reluctant, introspective and a little wistful because you know the feeling won't last, it's a quiet contentment that comes from understanding that while the rest of the world is out of control and careering off the rails that now, in this moment, you're doing OK and everything is quiet. My voice goes down a couple of notes when I'm happy in blue, the speed of my speech, usually lightning paced, slows down to be understandable, I feel happy to drift.

As some of you may know my life at the moment is a seemingly endless quest for some kind of purpose. My problem has always been that I'm an "all rounder" presented with far too many options. I know it seems wrong to complain about this, being faced with too many choices is always better than being faced with no choice at all, but I spend most of my life worrying that I picked the wrong course, chose the wrong path and that it's too late to turn back and run in the opposite direction. The first divergence and the one that my mother cites as being the one that I'm most unsure about was the day that I abandoned words. As a child I was in love with words, I still am, but back then they were the things that defined me. When it came down to making a choice between science and language I picked the former reasoning that although I loved both it was science that required the formal training, the further education. There's no real point in sharing this, you understand, except to provide some kind of background to my current confusion. I love science, I find it fascinating but I've been coming to realise more and more that it isn't the research that I find interesting. It's not the results and the charts that stir me - it's our interpretation of them, our reaction to the discoveries that others make.

I may have found a way to marry the two halves of me, or more precisely: those around me may have found it. Content as I am to drift at the moment and unsure as I am about what course I should be taking I decided to let three of the people who know me best, and love me most, give me their points of view and for once I actually listened. From the basic idea, through to the practicalities and finally the overcoming of obstacles it's quite shocking how three people outside my self can so quickly solve all the problems that I've spent the last five years at least constructing.

Why can't I do that?

It's a question of perspective I guess.

Aside from the question of "what am I going to be" the other one I'm facing is "who am I going to be". Oddly, this one is remarkably simpler to answer.

The basics of this is that this winter I will legally be changing my name. I'll still be Alex, I love my first name and despite its history it's too much a part of my identity to change it but I have no such attachments to my middle and surnames. My middle names are easy: I have two and I would only like to keep one of them. As it stands my three names are as such (and considering I have two of the world's most common middle names - in combination anyway - I have no qualms about revealing them to the internet in general, or rather the six people that actually read this blog and the one person who stumbled here via a search engine):

Alexandra Elizabeth Anne

I hate this for several reasons. Most mundanely, it doesn't fit on forms. More personally I dislike the reason I was given all three of my names, officially I was named after "the three princesses of England" which as a sentiment actually makes me want to vomit, my mother had nothing to do with this decision as she was told that she would be having a girl and her name would be as my father decided. Unofficially: I also share my name with one of my father's "ex" girlfriends. Cynical you may say but he chose a rather un-orthodox nickname for me, one I hated as a child and took me eighteen years to finally shake from all but a couple of family members and one or two childhood friends, and it just happens to be the name that she was known by. Still, Elizabeth is a family name - it belongs in part to my mother and my grandmother so I'm happy with it but I figure as long as I have the choice I'd rather drop the Anne - I never use it anyway.

My surname is the main point of this name changing exercise. I have been estranged from my father - by choice (mine, not his) - for over seven years now. My paternal grandmother remarried when I was an infant so she doesn't share my name and, aside from one uncle and his wife, the only family members who do are my father, his father (comments regarding apples and the distance they fall are valid here incidentally) and my two younger brothers - both of whom I've never met, nor care to. It's a name that I feel no connection to. Up until a couple of years ago this was tolerable - my mother had kept her married name when they divorced in 1990 and so sharing my name with her was something I'd grown up with. Then she remarried. I had always planned on taking my husband's surname when I married - purely selfish reasoning on my part, I've wanted to jettison this name for as long as I can remember. But now more and more I'm beginning to feel itchy at the prospect, I'd like to keep my own name and my own identity when, if, I eventually marry but I'm not happy with the identity I have.

And so I have decided to change my name, not just to something random but to my step-father's surname. People have either declared this "sweet" or "weird" and the comments have come in equal measure. There are many reasons behind my choice: to share a name with my mother again, because although he would like to I am too old for my step-father to formally adopt me, because it sounds far, far nicer than my name now.

There, those are the two questions I am facing at the moment. I almost think I have them answered.

I know, I know

at 14:54

Monday, 17 September 2007

I'm utterly rubbish with my total lack of updates (I'm pretending that people care, don't burst my bubble) a new post (hopefully of the amusing or insightful variety) will be up here tomorrow.

In the mean time the next part of my custom tattoo saga is up over at Inked Oddity, you could read it - ya know if you're bored or something.

alex... SMASH

at 12:55

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

I have been fuming all morning about various things, my evil ex-landlady, the fact that I have still to start any actual lab work and I've been here for over a year, but mostly my bile has been directed at an opinion piece from this Saturday's Times which landed in my inbox this morning.

As it is an article on the subject of tattooing (and the ignorant, unwashed and sluttish sheep who get them) I have posted my response to it over at Inked Oddity.

Go read it! Warning: the comments associated with said newspaper column will make you seethe (and if they don't: shame on you!)

a break in your regularly scheduled programming

at 09:22

Friday, 7 September 2007

Thanks for the Birthday wishes yesterday to those who left them, y'all made me smile (and got me to the requisite 22 messages thus beating my flatmate B for the third year in a row. Score!).

I'm taking the weekend off to move house, as of now my schedule looks like this:


  • Pack mini suitcase of things I will require for the next day, including incredibly expensive dress, copious amounts of eyeliner, high heels, actual pajamas.
  • Put on crappy clothing, drive across London to new flat.
  • Spend several hours cleaning new flat (to the strains of punk pop - the only genre all three of us can agree on).
  • Return to current flat, put life into boxes.
  • Load up removal van and send entire life off with guy named Mike.
  • Get dressed up into said incredibly expensive dress, high heels etc. and go to incredibly expensive club to drink for free.
  • Curse the fact that every other woman in the club is tall, blonde, supermodel like and all the men are City boy bankers.
  • Consider word that rhymes with "bankers" that also describes them.
  • Stumble back to empty old flat, share bed with flatmate S whose own bed is in the possession of guy named Mike.

  • Wake up two hours later than planned, ludicrously hungover.
  • Spend entire morning cleaning old flat as quietly as possible avoiding all bright lights.
  • Travel to new flat and stare at masses of boxes, watch as new boy flatmate G hooks up TV, DVD player and PS2 as first matter of business.
  • Remind him how very, very glad we are to be living with someone who has his priorities straight.
  • Spend afternoon kicking his ass at Guilty Gear, when he complains switch to Soul Calibur, after more whinging eventually plug in gamecube and spend the rest of the day racing Mario Karts.
  • Realise we should actually be at the pub for friend's birthday celebrations
  • Go to pub

  • Weep at the sheer amount of unpacking that still has to be done and spend day wondering if pulling a sickie on Monday morning would be just too damned obvious.
  • Frequent breaks for tea, cakes, biscuits, episodes of Scrubs.

I shall see you on Monday kids, have a good weekend and wish me luck!

22 wishes

at 09:06

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Today is the annual festival of me, and in recoginition of that I thought I'd make today's post appropriately themed. Here are 22 things that I wish, some serious, some not so serious. Some possible, some less than possible. Anyway - here they are:

1. I wish I hadn't drunk so much last night.

2. I wish I knew who it was that gave my Father my email address.

3. I wish I hadn't managed to lose my iPod at some point on the journey home and consequently wasn't on eBay at 1am this morning buying a new one.

4. I wish someone would bring me a coffee so I wouldn't have to go all the way to the lab to make one.

5. I wish I was three inches taller, preferably this would be achieved by lengthening my legs.

6. I wish it was Wednesday already.

7. I wish people knew how  much their Birthday wishes are making me smile.

8. I wish I'd never seen Simply Irrisistable.

9. I wish I'd never had to live through the third act of my own private performance of "When Sucky Guys Happen To Girls Who Don't Deserve It".

10. I wish I'd brought my new nail varnish to work with me so that I wouldn't have to spend the day with a chipped nail.

11. I wish I had a white kitten named Gabriel.

12. I wish that I didn't scare my Adorable Geek.

13. I wish I could speak Italian.

14. I wish I'd kept in touch with some of the people I went to primary school with.

15. I wish I could spend tonight doing something other than packing up boxes.

16. I wish I was a columnist for the Guardian rather than being a mindless drone.

17. I wish I hadn't agreed to go out partying 4 nights in a row.

18. I wish that I could sleep properly.

19. I wish that the carrot and orange cakes sitting on my desk weren't essentially pure fat.

20. I wish I'd carried on playing the piano.

21. I wish I knew what I should be doing with my life right now

22. I wish I didn't have to be at work today.


at 15:31

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Because I'm lazy here are some of the things from my reader that I found at least semi-interesting today:

I must admit that I really do love Simon Pegg. In other news: the phrase "kidult" is obnoxious and must be stopped.

Thoughtful? Articulate? Chiseled features? Starred in one of the best comic book adaptations to hit the silver screen? It appears that Christian Bale can do no wrong.

In the running for worst decision ever.

Unfortunately things are never actually this simple , after all we've known about obesity causing genes for quite a while.

new blog, comment diversion, tattoo and pub quiz

at 23:14

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Well, I'm back from a fun filled evening accidentally attending a pub quiz, who'd have thought we knew so very, very little about 2006? Not us and that's for sure. Still: joint 4th and I had the world's nicest (and most artery clogging sandwich) as a result.

First up: make sure you visit Pajiba for their newest comment diversion, yes indeed I'm pimping it because it mentions me by name and I find this awesome. So sue me. (note to all legally minded people: please don't.)

Secondly: I'm running a second blog - I know, I know: I can barely keep up with this one but there is method to my madness. As some of you may know I am currently in the process of getting a new tattoo, this has been in the works for a good long while and it is a subject that I feel passionately about. To that end, in addition to my stream of consciousness and undirected ramblings here you can also find updates on my tattoo process as well as commentary on the art form within the media over at Inked Oddity. I felt that keeping the majority of my tattoo related musings in one place might be a good idea, so there it is. It's a more directed blog and hence has fewer posts, and for the foreseeable future I'll be posting notes of any updates here at Circular Logic. Please do check it out and comment if you feel moved to, feedback is always welcomed. In time it will expand but for now please forgive me for my scatterbrainedness. The entire point of this paragraph is essentially to say the following:

An account of the first steps towards my new tattoo is up on Inked Oddity so please take a look.

*ahem* back to our regularly scheduled programming:

More posting tomorrow. For those who are interested I had a news post planned today but unfortunately some idiot managed to cut through our building's fibreoptic cable, effectively crippling us and giving me a half day off. Downside: no post. Upside: new tattoo in the works.

on the horrors of moving (again)

at 13:07

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Apologies for the lack of posting of late, moving house has been an absolute nightmare. I'll be more prolific once the move is over and done with but for now the only things on my mind involve cardboard boxes and parcel tape. This whole weekend has been spent packing up boxes, which is a first as every other time I've moved  (that would be once per year since the age of 18 - I'm a glutton for punishment, what can I say?) it's been a "night before, oh holy hell why do I have so much stuff why can't I just embrace minimalism and only have three boxes to pack because seriously who needs this much stuff anyway and oh crap how can I not have enough boxes?" kind of deal. Never good for the blood pressure. So today, in between periodic bouts of working, rather than my usual video game breaks, I will be packing boxes, cleaning windows and scrubbing down woodwork. Fun!

As everyone insists on telling me ad nauseum moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, according to RealAge it even has the power to take years off your expected life-span. And I do it once a year. Triffic.

What this all boils down to is the sinking realisation that at some point in the future I'm going to have to bite the bullet and think about buying somewhere in the near future. Even though I'm still crazily young and it won't be for a fair few years (at least until the PhD is out of the way) this still is a horrifying prospect. Aside from all the usual "oh my God I'd be seriously signing my life away and forced to settle down in one place with practically no freedom" thing there's just so much to think about. Even when it's completely simplified into terms even I can understand the house buying process is a scary one. It's enough to keep me up at night, and it does. Frequently.

Oh well, the chances of me affording a house in London in the near future are slim to none without some serious mortgage wranglings (and possibly a deal with the devil) I'm hoping to put it off for as long as humanly possible. Now if those nightmares would just go away....

Anyway - comments to keep me going please! Any sage words of advice concerning moving/buying/a way to stop nightmares about estate agents are always welcome!