Haven't had much space to write in. Work has been keeping me busy (when I finish tomorrow and finally get a few days off, I will have been working for 22 of 26 days) and I am so behind on school I've been trying to put all my home energies into that. Been neglecting story-writing, cooking and cleaning, personal projects, near any entertainment I can't leave in the background without demanding focus. Not that it does me much good. Still behind, possibly even farther behind than I was.
Until the end of the month when the last of this work is due. Then, either way, I might be a little more free.
Today impulsively decided to try and drop social media at least until I am finished with this semester. An act which had been on my mind recently but I'd concluded I couldn't go through with. That I am too lonely in myself and my current circumstances to go through with it, and it is not a goal I can succeed until some lack in my life has been resolved.
So I don't know why I did that this morning (in pain I guess?), but I did not promise to vanish. Just declared I am trying to minimise my presence on twitter and tumblr at least until I have school out of the way. They are too easily habits of constant distractive stimulus and while that can be valuable when I need to escape myself, I definitely need to do my best to not fail these classes. Which means I also can't go replacing them with something of similar distractive quality, such as the RSS feeds I've been neglecting to read.
Actually the reason I wanted to write this post is to describe a couple of similar happy moments at the library today. Twice I had someone contact me trying to get hold of a book they had reserved. In both cases I went to look for it for them and returned empty-handed. One was a novel supposedly held in the Premiere's Reading Challenge collection, which I had been searching for yesterday to satisfy that hold. Did have a new inspiration about where to find it that got me nowhere, and tried looking up a few other libraries for its seeker to no avail. Not too long after ey left, though, whilst shelving I found the novel wedged into the picture book where someone must have stuffed it days ago at least. Tried calling to let em know, as ey'd said it was needed soon, but no answer and no option to leave a message.
The other was a phone call from someone expecting a book in delivery within the network. Ey had been advised to check today, as this reservation had supposedly been in transit the past three weeks and not yet arrived. Had the spark of checking if it had been received, processed incorrectly, and placed on the shelves instead of to be picked up, but no such luck. There were no other copies in the system, so I advised em it was likely missing and we could not fill that request, cancelling it with consent.
But, after my tea break in the afternoon, I found it sitting in one of the boxes to sent back to its home next delivery. I am fairly sure it was not there earlier, and I can't trace how it came to be there, but I put the hold back on and set it on the shelf to be collected. Although now my memory tells me I set it on the wrong shelf - it will be easily found for collection, but it will need to be brought back to the desk where it should be, instead of taken for self-checkout, where it shouldn't be.
Oops. But two people will get notified overnight they can collect something they thought was unavailable to them, and maybe they can think it was a bit silly of me to tell them there was nothing to be done when clearly there must have been. But I hope they get good use out of those books.
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Something I forgot to mention in my previous post, which carried over to the following two days, is that it seemed I got to do most of the front desk library work by myself. Everyone I was paired with seemed to have other things to do, on other floors or otherwise inaccessible, for much of my shifts. It was busy enough, but not too busy, so this suited me fine.
I wonder sometimes if I prefer working alone to working with others, and worry that I talk little enough to make the other staff resent working with me. Think I tend to be politely responsive though, even if I would rather not.
Today and tomorrow are the first pair of consecutive days off work I've had since April 14 and 15 and I feel very relieved to have some time for myself. Or sort of for myself. I'm doing terribly at school and trying my best to catch up, although it is difficult to keep focused enough. Only so much I can get done in any single day before I run out of attention or start hating myself too much to keep going. Which is why for the last hour tonight I'm typing this instead of pushing through another two chapters of two different textbooks. I do need to go faster though, or, I don't know, accept failure and lay down?
Today was also interrupted by a long-awaited consultation about getting wisdom teeth extracted. Was supposed to have that last week but they had to postpone because the doctor was in surgery (kind of a worrying reason, I guess?). Got it finally done today and relieved to find I only need one of the four wisdom teeth removed. The others seem to be behaving well enough.
Still very nervous but it will be nice not to have pain along one side of my mouth. Will need to contact them to arrange a date, and to choose between having it done under local anaesthetic, sedation, or under general anaesthetic at a hospital. That is going to be a tough choice, although the people at the surgery seem to favour the middle option, sedation.
Tomorrow I get to just be home. A rare treat which I hope I will get to enjoy, although I need to make sure to get as much schoolwork done as I can. I miss doing more focused fun activities but I can't afford to while I'm so far behind. Telling myself if I can catch up on school I'll be able to relax again, and hoping I don't waste my chance.
Wore a tank top there, and despite on the cancellation call having been asked about my name and if it should be Ms rather than Mr, got misnamed and misgendered anyway. Part of that possibly my 'fault', in that they checked with me about what name to use in communicating back to my regular dentist, who has not been told about the change of name. I'd been prepared when I last visited to collect my referral, but they said they didn't have need for any of the information I'd brought, so it did not come up despite my expecting it to.
Would like to muse more, but trying to store up those thoughts as for now I only feel to have enough time for writing down things that happened, and not so much the meandering thoughts those happenings inspire.
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Feeling rather tired today. According to my phone I was very active, so no surprise this is one of those days I come home from work and find it painful to walk or stand until the next morning. The morning started quiet but from about noon onward it kept getting busier.
There's about a half-dozen new casual staff starting at the library over the next two weeks and today was the first, so we were supposed to leave off the shelving to give him something easy to do on the first day. And also to leave us a bit bored because it was quiet to start with, although I had my lists of various kinds of missing items to work on. Even I set aside a couple of other miscellaneous tasks to use as demonstrations – damaged book from the returns, book with missing RFID tag, library card that had been lost in the library a few days previous.
Unsurprisingly this story ends with none of those happening. He had an orientation at the council for about the first hour, and then meeting with the manager and being shown around by her for a while, followed by my co-worker being assigned to further get him up to speed on the actual library systems and processes. About a half hour before lunch I realised where this was going and ran around getting as much shelving done as I could before the next shift took over.
On the bright side I seems all the new starters are going to be issued a copy of the checklist myself and another part-timer worked on over Friday and Sunday so that is a) something to be pleased about and b) something to leverage into pay increases and future job applications. Although I also thought of some things today which likely should have gone onto that document, which demonstrates why at least when you have me do it such things are better built over a longer period of time than a day and a half.
Yesterday after work I went shopping to try and get a more explicitly feminine work wardrobe, I guess, to force a contrast with what my co-workers had been seeing me in for the past most of a year. Was unhappy with how those clothes were sitting on me and after several unpleasant months of failed searches that left me dismal and defeated.
The main, main thing I had been looking for was new pants, as the ones I'd been wearing kept sitting unpleasantly low on my hips. Felt very uncomfortable wearing that. So, finally fixed, and got a bunch of surprisingly cheap new tops to wear to work or with my recent skirt acquisitions, which had been very lacking. Very relieving.
Wore such fresh outfit to work today, was nervous. Went okay though! No unexpected uproar, and the manager said the colour (of the top) looks good on me. In passing on her way out to lunch. So, yay!
I get to exist in some spaces and that is an improvement.
So, busy day today. Let's leave off with two notable things about today.
I made lunch this morning but forget to pick it up on my way out the door, so ended up buying fish and chips for lunch. Was worried about the delay when busyness kept me 7 minutes late from starting my lunch break but managed to eat without rush and be done in good time. And a little progress on the book I'm reading too.
A caller midway through the morning, saying ey got a notice about items being due and ey returned them all several days ago. Ey seems liable to repeat and emphasise this point a few times so I interrupt and ask for the card number they were borrowed under.
“I'm driving at the moment. I think I better call you back in about 10 minutes.”
“Yes, I think you had better.”
Addendum: so far as I am aware, ey has not called back.
That should be enough journal for now. Got to save some time for book non-reviewing and scholarship.
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My appointment got cancelled for yesterday so I did not go out. Was nice having a whole day at home. Got to do laundry and make my bed and talk with people, and it was a good day but I got hardly any studying done so it is hard not to feel like I continue to contribute to the wretched waste that is my life.
Insurance company finally caught up with me on the phone and ate about 90 minutes. Also finally finally spent a while looking for conferences to attend for the professional development component of my degree, which I've had reminders poking me at for months now. Never seemed to have a good time for that, but forced myself anyway this time. Found some candidates, giving myself time to sit on that before acting.
Appointment cancelled because the doctor was in surgery, was not going to be available for the appointed time. New appointment next week in the afternoon. Thinking about seeing a hairdresser earlier in the day, as I've been wanting to have my hair done for months and never finding the time.
Today my co-worker and I got asked to put together a checklist for what the new casual staff who are starting over the next two weeks need to be trained on. We'll need to finish that Sunday morning so it can be ready in time.
I'm very stressed about school. Very far behind. Will be shocked if I don't fail this semester but going to keep pushing until it is over – if I withdraw at this point it will be an automatic failure anyway.
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Today was the first time I wore a skirt to work. My hand was forced, somewhat, with my only pair of work slacks being in the wash. Could have worn jeans but those aren't strictly dress code and even though I was going to be working at the isolated little branch library there is always the possibility someone from the upper or senior echelons of council management would appear around to a) notice and b) care.
I got a bit of help from Ami last night in picking which skirt and what top to put with it, as my selection is currently extremely limited and badly suited to any sort of professional appearance. But it managed and we all went okay. Was only working with one person today, but she did not say anything, and there was indeed a surprise cluster of management types using a meeting room, which we had not known about in advance as the process of keeping library staff informed about the use of our facilities had broken down.
And although it is always a quiet place, I helped a few patrons through the day, some of whom were entirely new and some definitely recognising me from the past, and none seemed surprised or put out by my attire so despite my nervousness that was a big relief. Even though I have the support of the library manager ever day I do not need to call upon that is a day that is better than it might have been.
Relieved to get to exist for now.
Tomorrow I have a consultation about the when and how of getting my wisdom teeth removed. This is something I am very nervous – probably scared – about but it gets easier the more and the more often they hurt. It becomes something to look forward to, being able to eat again without pain, or even to exist in the times between eating. Must remember to bring my referral and x-rays with me or it will be a bit pointless as an outing.
I feel a bit of an urgent need to go clothes shopping as well, after, and hope I find something that works for me. I thought I had solved the question of clothes for work a year ago but I was mistaken. Continuing to be trapped in the tension between wanting something that is good enough ASAP, and wanting to be slow and careful in getting clothes that work especially well for me. Assuming those exist. But for now I definitely find myself in need of work slacks that actually fit and are not half falling off my hips (and which do have decently sized pockets if possible because pockets are useful!) and at least a couple of presentation-shifting tops as well. The ones I bought last year are all the buttoned sort I was used to, and I feel it is worth off-setting my presentation a bit further from what my co-workers probably incorrectly internalised as masculine.
What I want may be too simple to be readily attainable.
There is a lot of more stressful things going on and upcoming too, but I will leave those for another time. It is getting late and I want to be done with this, to get I hope at least a little more study done tonight before sleep.
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[wrote this two days ago. no less true now]
Been feeling more self-conscious about my voice recently. Pretty sure that is from being 'out' at work and somehow feeling like I am letting myself down more when I don't get interpreted as a woman. Relatedly, worrying my co-workers are expecting a bit more of a transformation on my part when there isn't really anything left for me to do – getting my documentation updated and informing my employer was just about it. I've been on hormones for years, I've had hair removed, I've been wearing clothes I bought in the women's department… there isn't really anything left for me to do. Perhaps I should be used to letting people down by now.
A week ago (maybe 2? time is difficult and I have been trying to focus on school) my podcast listening project got to the end of playlist #12, which covered the span from 2005-07-10 to 2005-10-01. That meant it was time to download and catalogue + compile episodes for playlist #15, spanning 2005-12-18 to 2006-01-21. Obviously I ran into problems or I wouldn't have words to be typing about it. Old episodes from Universe Today are still no longer available for download, although the articles they were published in are still up. That is something I can get around for a while by having episodes already downloaded from the last time I tried to embark on comprehensive podcast up-catching. That was already a problem, and I emailed them about it a month or two back asking about it.
This time I find also that Slacker Astronomy is giving a 403 error when I try to access its feeds. Not totally unexpected, as they have not had a new episode since 2011 but I had very much been hoping to get through listening to the archives before the site did eventually go offline. Playlist #15 also included the premiere episode of another podcast, that of Science magazine, and I was disheartened to find that episode no longer downloads either. Actually, even though the old podcast archive page for that site still exists, it doesn't seem to be accessible on the Science magazine website except via the link I have bookmarked. The new site navigation only gives an archive stretching back to about 2012. They have not taken all the old episodes offline though; the September 2006 episode still loads, and presumably the ones after it do too.
I do not have time because there is a lot of studying and school-work I need to prioritise first, but if and when I can, this provokes in me a desire to download the old episodes of various podcasts while I still can, and to save offline copies of their web pages as well so those can be used to apply metadata to the episodes when it comes time to compile them into playlists for listening.
This is likely a bad idea. For Science as well as Universe Today I have episodes previously downloaded that bridge most of but not all the gap to where more reliable archives begin again (in the case of Universe Today, when it is replaced by Astronomy Cast. In the case of Slacker Astronomy I also have episodes from their main feed into 2006, although not from their Extra feed which holds some interesting interviews.
I should reconcile myself to the fact some things are lost beyond my reach, and I will have to make do with what I have and can get. As I had to do when despite the good fortune of finding old radio episodes on archive.org of Are We Alone? they still were a spotty record which did not cover the whole span, and leaves a gap before the officially available archives commence. If we pretend I really have dropped any fretting over that entirely from my heart, which is lies.
Ironically last night I was listening to an episode of Slacker Astronomy Extra, “Getting Astronomy News Online” which toward the end touched on the importance of long term information storage and access, including format standardisation and using such resources as archive.org to preserve information into the future, but archive.org does not in this distant future preserve episodes of Slacker Astronomy against disappearing. Perhaps also ironically, the following episode on my playlist was one in which Fraser Cain performed an interview on behalf of Skepticality while Derek was in rehab. We have this record of the work he performed for others but can no longer access his own podcast (Universe Today) which Swoopy referred to in its introduction.
Or perhaps that is not irony. Despite fancying myself a writer I have never had better than a slippery grasp on that concept.
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Don't have time to type much. Tonight at work a (presumed) parent was thanking me because, with encouragement, I was apparently the first stranger their shy kid had been willing to talk to. Ever, according to em.
So that was a bit of surprise nice, being somehow safe or approachable enough for a small child to be interested in?
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Saw some folk talking about the forgiveability or lack thereof of Darth Vader, particularly wert the murder of children.
The prequel films had not been made at the time Return of the Jedi had been released, and I don't believe Lucas' claims of having planned the whole thing out from the beginning, so usually I am not interested in judging the first three Star Wars films on the basis of actions or emotions depicted in the prequels. I also don't recall Luke saying at any point that he forgave Vader for his past actions, prequel or otherwise. What I remember is Luke saying he still senses good in him, which I interpret as the potential or desire to turn away from evil and to do good.
My feeling is the idea of Vader being redeemed is not that his single act of casting down the emperor, but that it represents an internal change and a commitment on his part. That, had Vader survived, he would have devoted himself to doing good and to make what restitution he could for the evils of the empire. But his single act in the throne room doesn't make him good in itself, doesn't undo the evils of his past. It is a symbol of the change in the character and the new path he is taking, as is his ghost's appearance as Anakin later on.
I don't think it's a matter of having been forgiven and I don't think the evil Vader did in the past is or can be undone.
I do think there's a potential term collision between redemption as in 'how fans feel about a character' and redemption as in 'character internals reflected in externals'. I also suspect these opinions of mine are strongly influenced by the surrounding Christian cultural context; certainly I've had to work at not using Christian-sourced terminology in the writing of this post and probably missed some nonetheless.
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For a while I have been thinking about the fact the people I am emotionally close to are rather geographically dispersed, and do not seem inclined to address this error for my convenience. And it is long since I gave up my ambitions of selling my stories and being a 'successful' author. The odds are against anyone who tries, and I think the sorts of stories I want to write are not so much those liked by the science fiction or fantasy markets anyway.
I'm thinking more about trying to make some money from my writing in the future because it would help to have a source of income that doesn't tie me down from spending time with people I love. I can't yet write anything worth being paid for, but I'm practising again and maybe I will get there. These days even if I can't or don't sell to a traditional market there are other options, such as setting up a patreon or similar - assuming I show myself well enough that enough people like what I do enough to put some money into one. That is a lot of enough, and no guarantee it can be done even if I do improve my skill a lot and manage to produce stories on a regular basis. But if I could, even if it were not much, it might help.
I also write smut stories as well as adventure stories, and wonder whether I would be best served, or if it is even practically doable, to make those into distinct identities with their own subscribers. I don't know whether those audience-support sites let you split your work like that, but I do worry there wouldn't be much crossover in audience interest, and that the one might complicate the other. And on the topic of potential complications, I've been more interested in writing fan-fiction works the past few years but I suspect it would be inadvisable to take money for writing any such thing, so I might have to do those 'off the clock' or twist the inspirations into something I needn't worry about making available.
We'll see after I'm done with school, whether any of this can go somewhere or if it is just idle dreaming. In the meanwhile, practise and get better.
 Plus, and don't tell this to all the world but, they are so far not very good or interesting either.
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So I check back in on dreamwidth after a couple of weeks of being swallowed by school and there's posts again? That's pretty exciting.
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[This post is talking about the DCI Banks episode "Friend of the Devil" and anyone reading who wants to avoid spoilers for that story would be advised to avoid reading this post. Also, the subject of the crimes is mostly violent rape and murder.]
Last night I watched an episode of DCI Banks which struck me as very pro-police. I mean, you could probably safely assume that any mystery series in which the protagonists are police who solve crimes is going to be pro-police but in this case it seemed quite thematic in favour of police handling crime and against vigilantism.
We have a father ranting about the police not helping and 'dragging the family's name through the mud' after the rape and murder of his daughter. Who then is arrested for assault in attempting to get revenge for it, and just as well he didn't get up the nerve to use the knife he'd bought for that purpose, as it turns out that guy was innocent.
We have more vigilantism when the murder in another case turns out to be a revenge killing of a woman (Lucy Payne) convicted for being complicit in the rape and murder of other women, our Mr Banks being upset that justice has now been denied. Finally, misguided vigilantism sees the killing of an innocent police officer, having mistaken him for the man who raped and murdered the woman mentioned in the previous paragraph when he was actually worked up in excess distress over her death and patrolling out of duty to protect women.
Early on Banks asks a forensic examiner if there were signs of struggle and she leaps to remind him that lack of such signs do not mean it was not rape, when in fact he was just wondering if there might be DNA obtainable from skin under the fingernails. But it's okay that she was overly-defensive of the integrity of rape victims like that because as it turns out she is a serial killer! Murdered Lucy earlier, killed the police officer earlier, mistaking him for a bad man instead of a good man, and murdered the guy who raped her many years ago instead of cooperating with police to bring him to justice.
It all felt a bit heavy-handed. Vengeful dad insults police, assaults the wrong man. Vengeful woman lies to police, murders already-sentenced convict, kills a cop in error, finally takes her own life when confronted with this. Normally I just want a mystery solved with detecting, not so much of the karmic leave it to police.
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Falling in love is a lot like being sick
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- First there's the denial phase, refusal to admit the possibility
- Then the sleepless, feverish nights, thoughts in chaos
- Finally you emerge, thought processes reconfigured for the new reality
Don't know how long I can keep this up. I'm lonely still and could expect to be for a long time to come. Wishing I had people of approximately similar timezone so I wasn't having to choose between doing things and company. Or even could have both at once?
This hurts. Everything hurts. Just gotta choose from a selection of pain? I wanted to escape watching people and being wounded by seeing them have happinesses I have not been able to have. I wanted to stop feeling worthless for what I lack, by ceasing that exposure and by seeking something of my own.
Well. I haven't been able to chase anything because I've been at work; this is my one day off out of a ten-day span so I'm just existing. And still obsessing. Maybe I just need longer to get out of it.
It hurts less, I'm sure, but I still want to tear my throat out in strips. Or feel compelled to. I don't know if I can tell the difference between desires and urges. It feels like the revolutionary, the device which was used to kill Thecla in The Shadow of the Torturer. Since first reading that I always felt it to be a good literalisation of the desire, the compulsion to destroy oneself. When one has to fight continually the subconscious motions of one's hands to do damage, to be wary of what one touches and how it might be used. But I have hope, and fear to guard me.
I realise I am going to give this up, to go back. I say it is because I am weak and maybe that is true but I just do not know. I do not understand myself. Almost I am a passenger observing this vessel. I can know sometimes what it is going to do before I consciously come to the actual decision, but the inner workings are opaque to me.
Why should I work so hard to preserve a resolution which was come to in a state of greater suffering? Was it not to hurt myself? And thereby in keeping to it am not persisting in hurting myself further? But I still believe there was wisdom in that pain and if only I could bring myself to escape, to work hard and to find something I want, to pursue it and to do and to be, and to find friendships that are not so lonely.
I don't know, I don't know, and I don't know.
It isn't going to work. Should have acknowledged that from the beginning. I am weak; I am not sufficiently driven. That is how I came to be here.
I remain confused. I don't know how to end this. Still clouded. Perhaps it was all a trick, to succeed in driving people away and leave me wanting them still. I don't know what to do. Should I go back? Keep going? Am sure that I will go back because that is what I feel in my future and have felt the whole time. Which means it was all for nothing.
I must find something. I must find something. Unfortunately I have never been real. Perhaps I cannot become real.
Perhaps if I turn to the logic of stories and tell myself that, had it been the right decision, I would have felt a clarity and a lightness. Maybe I even did at the start? Who knows - the past is a mystery. But I cannot solve myself.
At least I haven't lashed out at anyone this time. Vaguely I remember years back making an incoherent rant on my journal and cutting most people out. I think that happened; I've carried the memory a long while. Which I have refused to acknowledge - despite its whispering at the edges - that this is a cyclic collapse, despair and isolation. I should remember that I have done this even in the home of those I have pledged to marry, and it does no good. Perhaps next time I will.
But then how can I get better? How can I make it stop hurting? Just have to endure this every time? That is a dreadful prospect. At least I remain functional. But I will never... perhaps just have to last long enough to move... but no. I just established that even in a household of people who love me, and who I love, still I shred myself so.
Maybe I need to allocate more time to the therapist voice that has recently emerged, listen to her / em. Maybe I need a chemical solution. Maybe I need to- but no, we don't listen to that voice if we can help it.
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I don't want to be writing or posting any thing but I suppose I ought to because big and complicated things are happening and I do not understand. And because a journal is supposed to be at least in part a record of one's self and past in its significances and insignificances. Or so I would wish mine to be though for a long time it has been dreadfully sparse.
Today was complicated and busy, but not as much as I had intended it to be. Studying in the morning, short work shift before training - a formality of a shift in order to be present and paid for the training. Think most of the marks on my arms are gone now - had to dig in with nails a bit to keep focused, was surprised they lasted at all that long. Had to keep backing off after deciding to experiment with drawing blood because I lacked the courage for that much of that pain, so I expected them to be gone after a few minutes. I should have been satisfied with distracting myself into focus because now am disappointed by not being able to follow through.
Collected a package I had ordered, a gift for my sister. Filed the paperwork to get my name changed. I don't know what I am doing with that. Felt sick. Wondering. Why am I doing this? Is it right? I feel like I never analyse possible actions and come to conclusions, I just act. Without clear head or heart. When it gets back I will put it through to get my passport and driver licence, etc. updated. I don't understand what I am doing. I don't understand why. I'm just going to keep going because I am terrified of death and not living. Felt sick to be giving up my birth certificate
I feel very confused. Not the sort of thing one should be saying, for fear it would be used against, but that is not relevant. I just don't know what I am or what I want. I have no particular skills, abilities, talents. So I don't know who I am.
Trying out withdrawing from people so I have space for school, space to work on myself. Maybe get to be someone? Maybe I could learn some skills, get good at something. Learn how to exist as a person. If I can manage school maybe even try and meet some local people.
I see people having and being things I wish I could have, like social activities and identities and goals, and it hurts. It has been very difficult so far to cut off contact from the people I normally talk to, to avoid twitter. My habits are very entwined around that contact and I wish I had someone to talk things over with but my head feels quieter than it has for days, I think. Reduction in visions of killing myself (I think); I don't want to but it feels like I need to, like a pressure bearing down on me. But I don't want to and I won't. If I can hold firm then maybe I will be able to make something of myself, have something to bring back.
I don't like to leave people without explanation but I can't talk to them to explain because I know my weakness and that if we start talking I will keep talking and all my efforts will be undone. I will drift back into my social habits and lose all my days, all my focus that I am trying to capture. For now it is just dividing between works and leisure. Maybe I can keep that up. I hope so. It is hard and I want to go back to company even though that hurts too.
Everything hurts and there is no release. I remind myself that death is no freedom of pain, it is an absence of existing entirely. There will be no future lives, there will be no me to appreciate and feel that lightened relief and because I am terrified of nonexistence that helps. I have never been able to surrender my grip on this world or self so that is an anchoring incentive. There is a dangerous thought which says that is a lie planted to keep me from discovering I won't die, but will escape this world created to torment me, or have its truth revealed. But that is nonsense and anyway might be a bluff to goad me into the attempt. It is an idea to be disregarded.
I perhaps should delete the above paragraph if I am going to post this, although that may be difficult as words written have weight. But to post this has been partly the intent in writing, for as I said above I cannot talk to people without being undone. I must take care of myself but it would be cruel to abandon people without notice or information, and having realised this I must act in some way to inform or else am driving them to worry about me. I suppose they will still worry reading this, which cannot be helped from any true or even perhaps untrue account I would give, but at least with honest information people might be diverted from terrible imaginings.
I am okay. Am fairly sure the pain is less, although my thoughts still are not clear. But this is analogous to a detoxification period with many habits and recurrent topics of thought still pulling back on me. Very easy to fall back in, and I might end up doing so. It is a struggle and I have been so long without myself. I just don't know what I will do. I hope I will find something good. Something to be proud of.
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I do not mean a fearsome fire-breathing slayer of knights.
Rather, I mean a reclusive hoarding creature who is fond of wordplay.
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[Wrote this on Wednesday; some additions before posting Friday due to the passage of time]
I think I must have mentioned the acquisition of fragmentary older archives of SETI Radio (now Are We Alone?) previously because memory says I have written of starting the podcast listening over again and going through an initial set of Planetary Radio alone.
It continues to irk me that I do not have access to the full, original run of Are We Alone? from 2002 because I do remember seeing those listed in iTunes back in 2005-06 or thenabouts but of course at the time did not have the bandwidth - or possibly even the storage space - to download them then. The same is true for some other shows like Planetary Radio, but at least they still have their entire run available on the website.
But since then, as I have been distracted from writing by school and workplace commitments, we have moved on successively to first a truncated second playlist where The Naked Scientists originally came in, and then a third beginning at the point where the earliest available episodes of Are We Alone? from https://archive.org/ begin.
Probably I mentioned that early Planetary Radio featured heavily guests and projects connected with the Planetary Society, such as SETI@Home, before moving on to a strong Mars focus for the historic close approach of Earth and Mars in August 2003 and the launches of several robotic missions to Mars; that focus has continued to where I am currently at in listening, late January 2004 when the second of two rovers (Opportunity) has only just landed on that planet.
I feel like my insistence on pinning these podcasts as near as I am able into a chronological order is vindicated by occasions such as the landing of the Spirit rover (and now Opportunity) when I have each of these three science shows reporting on the same events from their own particular perspectives and sources. It gives me an enjoyable feeling of synergy, a sense of time and place that these programs really do relate to each other in some meaningful way.
The current list, Playlist 3, is I am sure by far the longest that will be in at least terms of span covered. It starts at the beginning of November 2003 and extends to January 2005, when Playlist 4 will begin with the addition of The Philosopher's Zone from ABC Radio. To that point, every single podcast in my list which extends so far back in time is one also broadcast by radio, which seems odd to me. The first which exists purely as a podcast (and I suppose in that sense as an entirely amateur production) is the one following, Slacker Astronomy, which is also the earliest podcast on my list to no longer be active.
It continues to be strange to me that The Naked Scientists hosts a call-in contest “Science Fact or Science Fiction” wherein callers are presented with a claim and asked to judge whether it is true or made up, because there is a similar game in the podcast The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe , Science or Fiction, in which the hosts are challenged to pick the fake science news stories from the genuine ones.
Nearly finished the book I'm reading at the moment and have nearly a week to wait until I can get hold of the sequel at earliest. In the meanwhile as well as working on that placement report I can hopefully make sure to get some more writing done on what I think of the various books I've been reading over the past year. Most of them do have partial or complete notes written up already, it's just a few gaps that need filling so I can finish off and actually put them up in the order they were read. Am quite looking forward to getting that done because I do tend to enjoy talking about what I am reading and what I think of it, even if this is mostly awful.
So, objective for the next few days: work on placement report, work on not-reviews, also hopefully put together a nice meal for people which will likely involve fish.
Getting up to date on not-reviews and on my reading database are the two main personal projects I feel backlogged on currently. Maybe after those are up to date I will feel free to write more and to play games, both of which I feel I am missing out on. Therefore, the perpetual cry of diligence and energy!
 Although of the four which precede it, two are on public, non-profit broadcasters and the other two, as I understand it, rather rough or humble beginnings before acquiring their polish.
 Which doesn't start until 2005 but due to more extensive RSS availability I listened to a lot of in my first attempt at podcast catch-up – it was nearly the oldest one available by that approach.
 Now actually finished, during a lovely lunch in a café yesterday after my endocrinologist appointment.
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[Wrote this on Wednesday; posting now on Friday]
Last week finally finished my placement so now theoretically have a bit more time for living in. In truth of course I am rather bad at that. Too easy to let time-passers from when I cannot do much else filter into the spaces when I could be making more use of myself
Been feeling listless and hurt, selfishly no doubt. But as so often it feels like the appropriate solution is to distance myself from others. Perhaps especially with both work and school going on it feels as if I have a choice between being social in my free time or 'doing things'. And I am not very good at either.
Too much I want company.
The placement was good, very different sort of library to any I had prior experience of. Learned lots about corporate library activities handling also records and archives. Plus, the place was not only going through a record system changeover, but also an upcoming library management system upgrade, so I got to experience some of how those happen in practice.
I was a bit sad to have to leave, ultimately, but also relieved to get back to what are supposedly my usual part-time hours, though I'd not the time to enjoy them long before commencing the placement. Trying to preserve income meanwhile meant requesting and accepting additional weekend shifts from my employer and effectively working 6+ day weeks. It was rather tiring.
For the last week I baked and brought in first gluten-free brownies and gluten-free, low-sugar biscuits. Neither were vegan or dairy-free, however, and the latter recipe especially was 'compensating' for lacking added sugar by having a profusion of nuts. So they were not as minimally allergenic as I had been hoping to achieve, but were received quite well. On the last day my supervisor gave me a lovely pop-up card and a deck of an author card game, which I have not quite opened to the extent of understanding how it is supposed to be used. I am under the impression it can also be used as an ordinary deck of cards.
Finding myself very tired as I write this at work the following Wednesday, longing for sleep. I still have to write a report on that placement, which is due by about 2015-11-20 - so I must soon get to work on that (rather, to continue from what I managed to write during the placement itself) before it will become a last-minute desperation and before I forget the relevant information to include. But I wanted to get through my work week first, of which this is the last day. I will finally have two contiguous days off for the first time since September, although the morning of the first will be taken up by an appointment with my endocrinologist. Better than nothing.
Currently checking up on information for school, the last week's worth of learning material for the other class I'm taking this semester, and verifying the subject outline for my summer class is not yet up (most likely it will be available from Monday).
Also trying to look for any information to present to my endocrinologist about potentially changing my dosages / medications - had seen rumours that the form of progesterone I am on is not ideal. Have asked around on twitter a few months ago for any useful information I could present but not had a useful response.
I think actually I am too tired now to be fit for gathering and evaluating such information; I may be better off waiting a few months for my next appointment. Feeling on the verge of tears at the thought of trying to get that done by the end of the work day here, which it would have to be if I want to print anything off and have it with me to show.
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Just finished the first week of my student placement. Going okay except for being very tired of an evening, and needing to sleep early in order to be rested and wake early enough to get there - am not used to working full-time hours. Which would not be a problem except I have an assignment due Monday next week and little energy to be working on it. Hope I will manage anyway.
Is nice to be taking public transport again - getting a lot of reading done on the buses and trains - but that is always a trade-off with driving and podcast listening. So far this week has mostly been getting oriented and reading through policies and historical stuff concerning the organisation but yesterday I finally got to get started on cleaning up the shelves. That will likely be done by the end of next week, with lots of other stuff going on. There is a big archival conversion project going on, and library management software migration, so it feels like I am getting potentially a lot of valuable familiarity with environments and circumstances different to my prior experiences. Which is really what I was after in enquiring at this place.
Now I better get back to that assignment because it unfortunately is not going to write itself. Otherwise would try and write a lengthier update.
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Started on project Catch Up Chronologically To The Podcasts I Subscribe To [on 2015-0-17]. This is something I have attempted a few times since 2012, periodically restarting as I devise more satisfying (i.e. completist) ways of going about it. The furthest I got was covering the span from 2005 to early 2008, by the close of 2013. Since then I have gone through a few restarts and fads but hope to have finally settled on a scheme which will stick. The last few iterations have mostly been refining spreadsheets and completeness of archival access but I think I have hit a limit on that - the most recent reset based on having the inspiration that otherwise inaccessible back episodes of SETI Radio might have been uploaded to the Internet Archive and indeed they were - although not I think by the artists themselves. Rather, it appears to be the work of some audience member who has uploaded a few other radio shows (consequently there appear to be a few missing episodes but as they are so far as I know genuinely inaccessible this does not bother me as much as I feared it might).
Currently it is a bit lonely all the way back in 2002 where the only accessible show from my subscriptions is Planetary Radio [this show was not part of the 2005-2008 set as its RSS feed does not include episodes from so far in the past, and originally RSS was the standard I was going by]. There are at least two other shows from my subscriptions that were airing at the time - The Naked Scientists, and SETI Radio's Are We Alone? - but the episodes for one cannot be downloaded for that period and for the other, those episodes appear to have disappeared off the internet entirely. So Planetary Radio it is.
The show starts off a bit timid, a bit shaky. At first the guests are all people with strong connections to the Planetary Society - the guests for the first two shows are society's Executive Director and Director of Projects, respectively. Then David Anderson of the SETI@Home project, which they helped get off the ground, and a conversation with Freeman Dyson recorded when he had visited their offices a couple of months previous. What I am saying is, it takes a little while to develop into the fun, consistent show I remember from two previous attempts at this project.
It was interesting even in the very first episode from November 2002 hearing mention of missions which are current and active right now - the two Mars Exploration Rovers (not yet named Spirit and Opportunity, but they did promote their competition for kids to name them!), and New Horizons - both of which had not yet launched at the time of airing. Also a bit of question-raising about whether Pluto is or is not a planet, but at the time they suggested the question could wait for the probe to visit before we decide.
Last episode of the year shifts into the more familiar format, with Emily Lakdawalla doing Questions & Answers instead of Random Space Facts, and random space facts being moved to the concluding What's Up segment, along with the introduction of the trivia contest. Bruce Betts and Matt Kaplan relaxing into their roles gradually which, their banter is a lot of what makes Planetary Radio so fun for me to listen to. I wonder how much this may have changed in the future beyond my previous listenings (somewhere in 2006 I think...)?
At the time of writing this I left off listening part-way through the 2003-01-20 episode in which the interview is about a joint Palestinian-Israeli student experiment aboard the shuttle Columbia. That always gives me chills because at the time they recorded and broadcast the mission was already doomed and no one knew it. So they talk excitedly of anticipated results and how they hope the mission might be remembered. My feelings about that episode are also shifted by having read earlier this year the two autobiographical volumes [I Saw Ramallah; I Was Born There, I Was Born Here] by Mourid Barghouti about his experiences as a Palestinian and returning to Palestine after having lived in exile.
The last episode of 2002 also featured a guest who I think is the first to not be affiliated with the Planetary Society, Andre Bormanis "Star Trek writer and consultant". I felt a bit embarrassed to learn he would occasionally incorporate elements such as a neutron microscope in one episode of Enterprise, knowing that by current understanding such a technology is nonsensical but wanting to suggest the greater advancement of the period, or to get the audience pondering how it might become possible - since that is the sort of element I likely would scoff at. Although transporters are pretty impossible-seeming too and I do not scoff at those, so what is with this line-drawing?
Also, one of the Q&A segments was on what would happen to an astronaut suddenly exposed to vacuum. The focus in that answer was on water vapourisation due to decompression and forecast likely unconsciousness in about 10 seconds, which I think is rather harsh compared against other attempts at assessing what would happen. That answer did come from a NASA medical specialist so it probably has a lot of substance behind it, but it seems strange to me that - as my impression is - there seems not a lot of agreement about what would happen to a person in a vacuum or how survivable an experience it might be. I suppose perhaps we have very limited data on this, which is probably a good thing.
Not planning to write about every single episode of everything as I listen, but I do want to write about anything that stands out to me or inspires me to want to say something. That is, as you might put it, a goal here.
So what else? The music used for about the first year gives me strong Sim City SNES vibes. Last night I ended up taking a break from writing this for a few hours because I was swept up in a passion and determined inspiration to make another attempt at tracking down 'lost' back archives for a few other podcasts and I succeeded on two of them: Science Talk (Scientific American) and House to Astonish. The latter was actually only a solveable problem since the beginning of this month when they uploaded their first 50 episodes to the Internet Archive. The former I could have solved at any time if I had only thought a bit more carefully and put my search skills to use. I had been too focused on finding the episodes within the website hosting them, when it is actually far more effective to use a search engine to search within the site on a specified date range. And now I can rest a bit easier.
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The good news that I have not been able to share because it has kindly inundated me in paperwork is that I got the job I applied for back in - I think - June. They contacted me about two weeks ago to say they wanted to hire me and I started earlier this week. So now I am officially a part time employee of a library, with sick leaves and regular hours and a work email address and all that.
I also right about the same time finally got an affirmative reply on a request for a library to take me on as a student for the practicum I need to do for this degree. That has necessitated a bit of negotiation as the school year ends with October and I have gotten increasingly frantic as library after library knocked me back over the course of the year. Now that I finally have a yes it comes right as I was organising a new job start so I am having to take leave immediately after being hired.
Fortunately they are being accommodating of this and I did advise them in advance. And due to the hours of the placement library, although I will need to be working full-time there without pay for several weeks I will also be able to work one day a week of my regular hours at the library that pays me. Possibly a few extra on weekends too, if I really hate myself and rest and peace of mind.
Got a lot of reading to do for school and a last assignment due in a few weeks so I probably will not be able to update much for a while yet. But I miss writing and I miss the satisfaction of blogging so maybe I will find a little bit of time for thinking and typing.
 Last but for reporting on the placement in its aftermath
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Today has been 2015-08-20 and it feels a long way from the 10th. On the 10th I had two assignments due, one of which I got done and submitted that morning. Also that morning, a call from the municipal council's HR about the job I had interviewd for the week before - references from my current position were unacceptable due to conflict of interest, being from my current employer and therefore also the employer I was hoping to get the new job with.
I had not any other current references; they said some pre-employement contacts would be fine. So rather than heading home to finish the other assignment I drove around first to the library the toy library of which I had volunteered at. The librarian who had been my contact back in 2011. She had gone home, but still worked there, and I was able to confirm a phone number with someone who was on duty. Then off to the university library I had had my second student placement under a few years before that. She had also gone home for the night, but still worked there, and I was able to get a phone number to reach her at.
So then I could get home at last and to schoolwork, although I do not really remember if I made much of any progress on the other assignment before its deadline. I did finish it the next evening and get it submitted before midnight and that was a great relief, especially as earlier in the day I had managed to call both of those contacts and obtain their consent to act as references for me, and forwarded their details to HR and got confirmation this would be suitable. Although I still have not heard back on how that went, and whether I will be getting the job.
But I did get word back on the other assignment, which was actually extra make-up work in order to not fail a class I took last semester. It served its purpose and I got my pass, which is great because one possible venue for being kicked out of school has been escaped. Still working on the other one.
Three weights off my shoulders. For a little while I felt so very light. But the fourth came right back; another request for an opportunity to take my practicum in a library of interest, sent that off Monday and by Tuesday night was rejected. Running out of time to organise that. Running desperately short of time.
But I keep being so tired from work, plus I fell into a void. Friday a day off, wanted to get my hair cut and take care of things, laundry and tidying type things. But instead I get struck down by some mystery illness. Supposedly only four days out of it until I could risk being back to work, but really it was infinity. Such vast span of time as to make all this typing a distant, distant reconstruction. Really only last week? Somehow.
I will get my hair cut tomorrow, and I will make another practicum request - I must! And perhaps my car will even get a new radio, if I am very fortunate indeed.
But I do not like tomorrow because today is the 20th and tomorrow is the 21st, and it would have been my grandmother's birthday had she survived this long. And it has been months and I still, still, still do not know how to process that she no longer exists. All that great void of never again. Keeps coming up and it hurts and I do not know what to do with it.
Driving to work today I had to go past the place where she was put to rest, incinerated a few months ago. Drive right on past like it was nothing and I a functional driver - and there must be so many people swallowed up in there, and yet people keep driving on by every day. Past where we bid farewell to my cousin the next week, and past where we had retired to gather afterward.
And tomorrow is nearly here and it will be an incomprehensible date of significance, and nothing will be done to mark it because all are sick; too much risk to others who still live to make mark when infection might spread, and someday it will mean nothing again.
I will get my hair cut, and try to decide what else might or might not bear the significance of the specific-just-another-day.
I had some good news, too. But I will put that in another post, maybe tomorrow, and let it bear itself alone.
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On the drive home today I listened to the episode of Planetary Radio covering SpaceShipOne's claiming of the X Prize, from way back in October of 2004 (why yes, I am behind on a great many things). The bulk of it held interviews with private industry types and a lot of overwrought language which annoyed me about how important what they did is.
Stuff like suggesting NASA and major aerospace corporations are now thinking "we're screwed" in the face of SpaceShipOne.
Because I have a helluva lot bigger goal than they do. And you know what that goal is? I absolutely have to develop a manned space tourism system for Sir Richard Branson that's at least a 100 times safer than anything that's ever flown a man to space and probably a lot more. I have to do that.
And perhaps it is just me, but I thoroughly do not believe building a suborbital or low Earth orbit moneymaker for a billionaire is even slightly bigger or more important than doing actual research on the rest of the solar system and universe. Maybe if they were working on a destination, somewhere to actually go and spend time in space that would be different. But not a quick dip out of the atmosphere so the rich and famous can score themselves a new "I've been there" shirt.
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Been feeling that I should treat this as if I am starting a whole new blog from scratch. Which does not mean I am about to go on any sort of introductory spiel as that has not ever I think been my style. But I should accept that these days there are few who would still be reading. A lot of the community that was here has been lost, or destroyed by myself.
So, starting over. Just going to talk about whatever to myself. But these days I am so tired I doubt I will be saying much anyway. Work days tend to blend into an unremarkable sameness and not leave much of interest left over.
Although today was different! The full-time staff-member I was supposed to be working with did not show up, out sick apparently. So out of the first four hours at the library I was operating the whole thing along for three and a half of them. The manager was there, but she was doing management type things in her office; I only saw her for about 10 minutes around the middle (she had called down that if I needed support she would come down and provide it, but the workload remained comfortably within 'exhilirating' or lower levels so I did not), and for the last 20 minutes one of the afternoon + evening staff had shown up and the manager asked her to start early. So that helped.
I have felt increasingly sure over the course of today that I am falling sick with some cold-like infection. This is a very inopportune time, as the breaks in my workweek are punctuated by an appointment with my endocrinologist and a job interview, and I have two assignments to turn in by next Monday. But perhaps this is some sort of stress thing. I think I fell ill last time I had an assignment due too. Made it a lot more difficult to complete.
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Last time I wrote here -- a whole month ago -- I had wanted to follow up soon with something about events which were then more recent. Wanted to write about the additional neat thing of new bilingual picture books at the library being interfiled among the main English picture book collection. However it turns out just as well I did not do so, as I since discovered they are not supposed to be; it is something the contractor the library does its purchasing + pre-processing through filing them that way, inconsistent with the library's preferred style. I still like the idea of interfiling them.
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A couple of days ago at the library we got a small number of new junior fiction books, among the rest of the new book deliveries. Was excited to see a couple of books appearing to feature black girls as their protagonists, one I think African American and one Aboriginal Australian. Bit less excited when in attempting to do some research prior to communicating this excitement I find the North American is by Meg Cabot and in fact is a spin-off of the Princess Diary series featuring Mia's sister, and the other covers I am turning up show her as a white girl, and
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none of the reviews make mention of her race- which, when unmentioned, is often an indicator the character is white at least one says Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess touches on race so hopefully my worries are unfounded. The other one is Flying High by Sally Morgan.
Mostly this got me wondering whether there are any resources which would be especially useful for finding out about e.g. junior fiction titles starring girls of colour which a librarian working in acquisitions might source purchases from. Which, if there are resources available for such, especially if they cover non-US-focused titles, recommendations would be appreciated.
Did while thinking on this imagine push-back of the sort "you should not prioritise subsets of people disproportionately like that". But, let us say for example the library has 5,000 junior fiction titles in its holdings. If we were to collect books in proportion with the Australian population then we would want to have roughly a hundred or so titles starring Aboriginal boys and girls. I'm not sure if there even are a hundred junior fiction books with Aboriginal protagonists. A collection which took pains to match the demographics of its service population would be very different from what we have at present.
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