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Witness how anal I am (and why)

We have our housewarming in a few weeks - it was going to be Halloween but I ended up with a late teaching shift that day (my shifts suck every other week, but at least it isn't every week!) so we put it back to a week where I'm off on Fridays instead. It would have been doable on the original date, kind of, but combining 'let's have a party after work' with 'don't show up before 7 because I'll be in my underwear painting myself green' wouldn't work. ('If you show up before 7 I'll be in my underwear painting myself green' isn't an invitation I feel ready to issue to colleagues of two months standing...)

The backstory to my analness runs as follows: we aim to start the party pretty early and invite people to drop in after work. But I suspect things will also go on later than our normal dinnertime. I *hope* things will go on later than our normal dinnertime! So that means having some sort of food around, probably pizza and maybe chilli or corn chowder. Food means ingredients, some of them heavy. So, I have a list. It details the ingredients of the things I want to make, with little symbols for which things are heavy, which need to be bought especially, which can't be got in the shop I normally go to - you get the idea. Anal, and a few weeks premature. But it does enable me to buy the heavy stuff in advance and have it stashed away until I need it, and that's a big thing for me.

Obviously I seem anal. Ducki laughs at me every time because his idea of planning a party is much more last minute. But I like to be relaxed and in a good mood when I'm having people over, and not having to run to the shop for flour at the last minute helps with that. So, I'll stick with the list!


My attempts to be eco-friendly have taken a bit of a battering since we moved. We were spoiled in Stirling - food waste collections that included cooked and non-vegetable food, tetrapaks could go in the normal recycling, everyone got a free compost bin when the council stopped collecting garden waste last winter - I knew it was probably better than most places, certainly it was better than Nottingham when I lived there, but I didn't know how little some places had moved on. The main differences here are no food waste collections, high cost of compost bins and no collection of tetrapaks.

The food waste is the easiest to deal with. I cook smaller portions, especially of 'filler' foods like rice, to minimise the risk of needing to bin any. I tip coffee grounds out in the garden - the epic spider webs on the bushes right now suggest that someone is benefiting from the extra caffeine. I'm experimenting with which peelings and withered vegetables can be made successfully into stock - it should save a bit of money if I don't need to buy cubes or powder.

The tetrapaks, however, are a pain in the arse. I think they annoy me more than anything else that goes in the bin because I'm used to recycling them. Also, the main thing we get in tetrapaks is soy milk - other things, like fruit juice or chopped tomatoes, can be found in other sorts of container if you look around a bit. I wish I was a bit more business-minded, because this strikes me as a massive gap in the market - I can't be the only vegan who wants to cut down on landfill! Of course, my ideal would be reusable glass bottles - hell, if I was setting this up I'd deliver and collect the stuff with a handcart or bike cart, but I know that wouldn't be feasible. But I do need to look into making some sort of plant milk for my own use. (Ducki is more a creature of habit, but I'm sure I can get him to try some - ideally I need it to be cheaper than buying cartons in to convince him it's a good idea)

In the meantime, I'm trying to do a bit of offsetting - getting greener in other parts of my life. More careful not to get in a situation that requires plastic bags. Loose rather than packaged veg where possible, and from local markets or greengrocers if I can get to those. We are at least better off on that front here. Not letting things get dirty enough to need nasty cleaning chemicals. (so far the exception has been limescale, I need to get to treating that with vinegar, but it caught me unawares moving from a soft water area so I bought some of the scary stuff to get started) Not buying stuff, although I've had a couple of wobbles with that lately. Small victories are still victories though.


Very nearly an epic fail on the book front. I thought that since the removal company will pack anything we haven't (and it doesn't affect how much the whole thing costs) I could leave the remaining books on the shelves and focus on other excitement like cleaning the cupboards. Riiight. Of course I then remembered that one of the still-full shelves contains the dirtiest books I have. Use your imagination. Suffice to say there's a reason the shelf is at the back of a room no-one but me usually goes into. Then while packing the mucky stuff and resisting the temptation to read all of it for escapist value I realised the same shelf also contains the more lurid books I have about the Nazis. Epic. Wonder what else I've missed to give the movers a dodgy impression of me.
You know when you don't put a number on something because you hope with all your heart that it won't have multiple installments, even though your head is telling you it will run and run? Yep, that's me with the mouse poo and so many other things, which is why my blog posts often have 'part lostcount' or 'part randomnumber' or similar.

Our large corner sofa went to its new home yesterday. That was a total 'interesting time' in itself since even in two parts it was a struggle to get the thing down the hallway and out of the door. It came with the house, so we hadn't been involved in bringing it in to start with, hence no inside knowledge except a general assumption that it would somehow fit. I felt stupidly emotional about this given that I didn't like the thing much in the first place, I guess it was just a really obvious sign of change. Now we have a big empty space in the living room.

Cleaning the aforesaid big empty space was not fun. In addition to the literal crap the mice had left us, there was also a fair bit of debris that had gathered over the years. Bear in mind that the sofa was in place when we got here, so I have no idea how long it was since that patch of floor was cleaned. I feel quite happy to have that over with. Whatever was under there would not be as bad as what I have imagined in my darkest moments.

Getting the sofa out made one of my 'hidden corners' (an UFYH standard) a whole lot less hidden. I'd had a little table for my computer, a smallish bookcase to tidy random papers onto, and a little pile of things that didn't really belong anywhere else. And I suspect that wall was where the mice had their main 'run', so obviously I was expecting a lot of shit to emerge when the stuff was moved. I wasn't 'disappointed' (word used in the loosest sense)! UGH. But it's done now, and one less thing to be scared of doing. Also more fuel for my desire never to let things get that bad again.
Let's face it, sanitary towels and tampons are kind of expensive. This is especially the case if you want good ones that absorb rather than, well, the alternative. If you menstruate you've probably been there. Of course if there is something a chunk of the population, especially one with relatively little power, need on a regular basis in order to live a vaguely normal life, there are going to be arseholes profiting from that.

At some point in my life I twigged that 1) cheap crappy pads were a false economy, 2) running out of such things sucks, 3) going out to buy more, even when living next to a city centre rather than in a remote village, isn't desirable when in enough pain to make an ordeal out of walking to the bathroom at home. And also 4) however much you love your mooncup there are always situations where it isn't practical to use it. So, I started stocking up on pads and tampons, buying the decent ones when they were on special offer, so I always had some around.

Then I moved house. Then I moved house again. And again. And each time things got mixed up and the little stockpiles of blood-catching supplies ended up hidden and not available to use when needed. So I bought more. And more. And let's get some more when they're on a great offer. And let's not find a consistent place to store them, and let's occasionally lose a new packet or two under other things, and then buy more to have some to hand. Rinse and repeat.

This is the easiest hoard story to write as it is one of the things I feel I have under control, in the sense that - unless I excavate another large stash, which I'm quietly confident won't happen since I've been through all the places they might hide - now fit in two small drawers. The blessing here is that I have enough of these things to last me through the months when I don't have much income - hopefully since they're light and hence can be moved in the drawer unit I'll be able to find them easily in the new place.

To-do list, post-move version

This is one of those lists I'm putting out in public to hold myself to account.

-Sort my living space out before teaching starts
-Scope out my office setup and aim to spend part of each week working there
-Go to a veg/an group meetup scheduled for a little over a week after we move in
-Go to outdoor acro the first possible weekend
-Join the public library - there are two in easy walking distance
-Explore the nearest market, about half an hour away, on the first available Thursday
-Put in research time during the 'off' weeks from fortnightly teaching
-Make as much effort as possible in semester 1 to frontload some of the massive pile of work my semester 2 module will need. Avoid the lecture-writing bootcamp of May-July just gone by having a few lectures stacked up in advance.
-Continue Reduction of Stuff effort, especially with clothes and papers
-Not buy any clothes in the first semester unless some essential item completely disintegrates
-Not buy any new (as opposed to secondhand) clothes except those where hygiene demands it.

Good stuff today

-I have a designated office in the new department, shared with one other person who has similar research interests
-I'm slowly getting my brain back into work mode - not in an especially organised way, but enough for now
-I have a decent tax rebate, which will make the coming semester a bit easier to get through
-We have a buyer for the large corner sofa so no more worries about squashing that in at the other end
-When checking the under-the-sofa area we did not find the feared mouseshitpocalypse.
-While I haven't been up to much over the last few days, my period pain didn't reach the levels it sometimes does, and it is starting to subside. I've been able to do a few household-y things and Ducki is being nice about what I can't do.
-I don't think we will ever be minimalists or have much instinct for tidiness, but I'm allowing myself to hope that we can keep it at a manageable level from now on.
-Ducki is actively trying to reduce the amount of grey plastic he has in preparation for the day when his wargaming stuff won't get to have its own room.
For anyone making the Rotherham case a race issue - folks, I was abused by a white African, doesn't mean I was out there cheering on every bit of assholery Mugabe did.

Defining 'basics'

We have a move date! I'm not going to be too specific in a public post, but it's within the next couple of weeks. I'm as done as I'm going to be with sorting through my stuff, possibly given away as many books and clothes as I can stand to part with for now, slimmed down the amount of paper to a reasonable-ish amount, got rid of most of the empty glass jars I'd been keeping - you get the idea. So this week I've turned my attention to the kitchen, either binning or using up as much as possible of the condiments, spices, etc we seem to have collected. Less emotional but significantly messier! (Clue: shaking icing sugar into a food waste caddy next to the open pan containing your dinner is a bad idea) We can't move perishables or anything in a packet that can't be closed, so one way or another most of our food will have to go over the next couple of weeks. That's a bit daunting, but also useful, because we'll have to build our food stocks up again from pretty near scratch. I'm hoping this will give me a chance to reflect on which food items are actually 'basics', the foundations of our staple diet, and which are just nice to have around if there's a special occasion or a bit of extra cash. Sometimes I find myself in the habit of replacing some jar or other because it's nearly empty, without thinking about whether I or we really need to have a regular supply of the contents. That's not a good plan, frugality-wise, neither is it all that helpful when we're going to have a lot less space from now on. Add this to a fear of actually finishing a jar - don't ask, it's a running saga and something I'm trying to get over - and I'm pretty impressed with the level of unfucking I've managed over the last few days. I'm also on a major breadmaking kick, because open bags of flour aren't the best things to pack.

I should apply the same principle to my wardrobe, I know that I live up to the adage of wearing 20% of my clothes 80% of the time. I have maybe 10% of my remaining clothes available to wear right now and am doing fine on that. (My work clothes would make the remainder of the 20% in termtime) The trouble there is working out what to part with. For now I'm just going to move what I've got and think more about it when I've had to unpack and stow it all.
I'm going to be charitable and assume Anonymous' plans for a 'day of rage' are fueled by, you know, actual rage rather than just wanting to feel important and get a piece of the action. This could be hugely charitable or just slightly so - I don't know the protagonists so can't declare on that. What I can declare on is the cluelessness (and I could think of a better word if I wasn't sticking to the principle of charity) of how Anonymous are playing things today.

It takes a lot of privilege to be able to go out and be all O HAI ARREST ME. At the very least, it takes the knowledge that you have a high chance of coming out of the cells alive and intact, and that you likely won't suffer much more than a boring night in a damp cell. And for that matter than you'll actually get arrested, not shot, if you're in a country where the police bring guns to protests. I own up to having a fair amount of this privilege, hence having at various times been able to get into arrestable positions on protests.

By the way, it also takes privilege to only get arrested if you're acting up in some way, not just for going to the store with your hood up. I'm not saying the police never overreact to minor 'offences' or arrest protesters for the sake of it - I've seen both at close quarters. Just saying that a middle class white boy actually doing something illegal right in front of a cop likely gets treated the same as or better than a working class black boy of a similar age, wearing similar clothing, etc, just walking along a street.

Anon, believe me, you're not alone in feeling outraged that yet again a young lad got shot seemingly for being black in public. I'm not telling you not to protest. But please learn to think critically about how you respond. And in particular, for fuck's sake, don't jump in and turn a vigil organised by the affected community into an arrest-fest, because it won't be you who comes off worst for it. It will be the community that has already suffered a loss.

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October 2014


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