Sunday, 28 August 2011

Back to Activism!

I've had an Event on the neurodiversity front. I read an amazing, powerful blog post this morning that really struck a chord with me. I commented on it, complimenting the writer and stating how glad I was to know that it wasn't just me who suspected spectrum children were being raised as people pleasers. Next thing I know, Ari Ne'eman's adding me on Facebook.

One of the biggest names in neurodiversity knows I exist. I'm... not entirely sure how to react to that. Sad, I know.

In other news, I finally de-lurked on AVEN today. Why? Because somebody's trying to round people up for some asexual representation at next year's World Pride, and I just had to put my name down. It's too good an idea to not get involved in! I mean, asexuals as a group need to rack up some visibility, and Obviously, I can't be certain I'll be able to make it yet, but seeing as I'm already excitedly planning what to wear, what to take, whether it would be better to fork out for a B&B or join the many cheapskates who'll be crashing on people's floors... well, chances are it'll take some unforeseen disaster to keep me away.

Now, I'm well aware that what I've just said may elicit bafflement from some. A lot of people seem to be quite firmly against mixing asexuality with the rest of LGBT+, but I've personally never really understood that stance. Some people insist asexuality's a 'whole different ball game' from LGBT. This is true, but it overlooks the fact that the 'T' is fundamentally very different to the LGB as well. In fact, I'd say that every letter in the alphabet soup holds it's own unique experiences that will single it out from every other, to varying degrees. Every identity under the LGBT+ umbrella is different, but because they all count as sexual or gender related minorities, they unite. Not perfectly or evenly, or without infighting, but they group together nonetheless, and... I don't see why it should be any different for us. I simply look at it from the strength in numbers point of view: if everyone unites, everyone gets more people and stands a better chance. What's so wrong about that?

Anyway... as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to London next year and it will be awesome. Provided I don't get horrendously lost on the underground, that is. Eep.

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Day 6: Hand-write your favourite lyric and take a picture: 

Well, my handwriting comes straight from the 'drunk spider jumps in a pot of ink and then goes rollerblading across the paper' school of neatness, but if you insist...

Apologies for blurriness. If you can't see, these are the end lyrics of The Dresden Dolls' Delilah. They weren't a clear choice- I have a lot of favourite lyrics, and choosing just one set wasn't easy. To be honest, I probably only settled on these because I was listening to the song a lot that day.

Anyway, why do I love these lyrics? Well, to me, Delilah is one of the ultimate friendship songs, and I'd hazard a guess that most people can relate to it in one way or another. Most of us have been in Amanda's shoes, watching a close friend go on the self destruct despite all our best efforts, and the sheer bloody-minded frustration that can bring is represented in the lyrics beautifully. Amanda childishly insults her friend, expresses disbelief, tells her she'll 'get what she deserves' as though giving up on her... but at the end she still comes back and mops up, because she still cares and nothing Delilah does, no matter how stupid, can change that. Most of us of us have been in Delilah's shoes as well, making a bad decision or falling into a downward spiral that makes whichever friends who are 'in the know' fear for our health, safety, or even life. The Dresden Dolls are wonderful at hitting the nail on the head when it comes to human emotion, and Delilah is one of the best examples of that in so many ways. It's an awesome song with awesome lyrics, and it's taking pride of place here on Day 6.

Monday, 22 August 2011

On Motivation. Oh dear.

The exact cause of my motivation problems isn't something I've been able to work out, but I know there must have been a trigger as the issues I currently have with focus and drive weren't always there. In years seven and eight I wrote a draft of an entire, full length book, doing a page or more a night almost religiously, plus recreational creative writing, and seldom missing a homework deadline on top of that. I was a pretty ambitious kid who achieved well and never struggled to complete tasks unless they were particularly boring or difficult.

Things changed at some point in my early teens. Around the same time that I developed the depression I mentioned in my previous post, as it happens, which might explain quite a lot- with depression, your willpower is one of the first things that goes. But exactly what happened- whether I spent so much time trying to socialise that everything else fell by the wayside; whether the depression wore me out; whether I just lost confidence in myself or my abilities; whether I began to doubt that any of the work I had once viewed as important would actually get me anywhere; a combination of several of these... I don't know, but it has had quite a drastic and lasting effect. I have the attention span of a gnat these days. I struggle to revise and I don't work as well as I know I could when it comes to college, because I just can't seem to pin my mind down. I enjoy creative writing, and I keep telling myself I'll do some today, tomorrow, next week, next month, but it never quite seems to happen. It's as though I just don't have the patience for it anymore. Sometimes I feel like I'm improving, when I complete a piece of work or DIY project- even blogging this regularly feels like it counts- but next thing I know I'm back to spending silly amounts of time not getting anything productive done. It worries me.

And then came this week. And results. And while my results varied between better and worse than what I'd hoped, it began to dawn on me just how choosy universities can be and how much I'd have to improve in order to get into a good one. That, alongside my mild competitive streak, temporarily startled me into discarding everything else and getting some of my long-neglected EPQ done. Whether this really can be the kick up the arse I need, I don't know, but it's had more of an effect than anything else for a long time.

It's even inspired me a bit on the creative writing front... I'm semi-considering starting up another blog specifically for that. Letting any of my actual, detailed, fiction loose on the internet isn't something I'm exactly enthuiastic about doing right now, so if it happens it'll probably be full of little paragraphs of practice fiction and dodgy opinion rants and reviews for a while. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Sorry if any of this has come out a bit depressing, I didn't really intend it to, espcially seeing as my reaction to results day looks like it'll be a pretty good thing for me. So, to end on a lighter note... I've finally got round to customising this blog, and I'm pretty happy with it. The artwork in the background quickly became a favourite after I stumbled across it on a Facebook page, and I find it quite sad that I can't seem to find out what it's called or who painted it. If I ever learn these things, I'll probably post. And then look up every piece the artists's ever done in history, because I'm like that.

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Is there a local Goth band or group in your area?: 

To demonstrate exactly how off the pulse my finger can be at times... I couldn't tell you. I mean, I have no idea whether or not any established bands come from Hampshire, and while there are almost certainly a few recreational or unsigned bands scuttling around, but I don't pay enough attention to the grassroots music scene to be able to give names. All I can really say is that if there is somebody local trying to get a Goth band going, which I hope there is, then I wish them luck. That's it. 

Terrible, I know. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

... and now, I'll talk about something I generally don't.

Well... i spent yesterday changing the buttons on a shirt whilst half-watching Diamanda Hagan's Raspberry Reich review.  

There's not a lot I can say about that. 

I spent today... well, it involved a very long walk, much frustration, exam results that could've been better, a stiff drink and a lot of blind panic about next year. 

I could go into detail about that. But I don't want to. Really. 

So, with that out, it looks like we're finally back to Neurodiversity (I warned you that you hadn't seen the last of it), and specifically, stimming. Stimming, for those who don't know, is basically a repetitive movement that people on the autistic spectrum perform to control or express one emotion or another. I'm going to use this post to de-mystify it a bit, because while it often gets described with a "What is this strange, unfathomable behaviour of which you speak" sort of tone, it's something that's very familiar to me. It's something I've done, normally without even thinking about, more or less since I could walk. 

It isn't really something I talk about in daily life, because even though I'm quite an open person who doesn't, as a rule, hide things for fear of what people think, stimming was always the big exception to that rule. For years, I didn't believe I could tell my neurotypical friends, no matter how nonchalantly, without them instantly deciding I was crazy and instantly backing off. Recently, though, thanks to increased maturity and a few positive experiences, my feelings about that have changed. I'm going to be open about this. Yep, you're witnessing an official coming out, people. About bloody time.  

So, my pacing. It's not really a classic example of stimming, you don't often see it mentioned in articles, but I have done this all my life. When I first started school, this is what I would spend my breaktimes doing- walking or running around alone, telling myself little stories. I knew other kids didn't do this and that several of the teachers had it marked down as a red flag, but I wasn't really bothered. It was instinct. It was fun. I was innocent enough to not really be dissuaded by the curiosity and questions of what seemed like every authority figure within a five mile radius. 

Of course, these days it's a bit different. I've long stopped stimming in public (or at least, stimming openly. Disguised stimming still happens), and I no longer talk whilst stimming. I still do it, though. Switching some music on and just walking around a the house at random, in circles, is as normal as watching television or getting a drink of water. I stim without realising. I trip over things whilst stimming. I get annoyed by having to stop stimming to answer the phone and fend off the telemarketer at the other end. I get up to stim whilst doing other something passive to clear my head, before sitting back down and carrying on. I took my headphones out of my computer to stim with my Ipod in just a moment ago, and almost forgot to bring them back. 

So, why do I do it? Well... it's different for everyone, but for me the best way to describe it is an energy surge. If I'm using my imagination or thinking about something that engages me intellectually or emotionally, I get an adrenaline rush, sometimes a huge overwhelming one, sometimes a slight one, and I just have to... move around. It's simple as that, really, and to me it feels like the most natural thing in the world to do, which makes it hard to explain in detail. Trying to explain exactly why I stim is like trying to explain exactly why I laugh- you can't say it's involuntary because it's controllable, but it's an automatic reaction, and trying to suppress the urge to do it can be annoying. Not being able to stim when I want to makes me feel a bit like I'm in a straightjacket, and it tends to make me somewhat disengaged from whatever I'm meant to be paying attention to. 

As for what stimming itself feels like... well, it varies. It can be very intense or very calm and casual, depending on what I'm thinking about and how strong the resulting rush is. The most intense stimming almost detaches me from the world for a while- I find myself having no interest in anything else, and tasks that demand I stay still and/or focus become a real chore. I think, random as it sounds, that webcam calls are perhaps the most frustrating thing I can do when I'm in this mood, because I have to stay in one place, sitting rather than standing, and give someone else my undivided attention, making easing myself back into a sociable frame of mind by thinking about more calming things difficult.

The least intense stimming, on the other hand doesn't involve any problems like that. It manifests as an absent-minded urge to walk and barely feels like anything. It all comes down to what I'm feeling. In fact, I suppose stimming is, in short, just a way of getting strong emotions out of your system. No matter how odd it looks (and while, despite thoughts of making a Statement! video, I've never bothered to film myself stimming, it kind of goes without saying that someone pacing in circles for half an hour straight would look very odd indeed) that's all it is.

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Day 4: Name a Stereotype or cliche you can relate to: 

  • Hate- hot weather and bright sunshine. Love- thunderstorms, mist on fields, and short winter daylight hours. 
  • Bats are completely adorable, as are many snakes. I don't mind spiders much, either, big skittish impossible-to-catch ones notwishstanding. 
  • Cobwebs are pretty.
  • Yes, I do the little eyeliner swirls. I know a lot of people think it's really daft, but to them, I say simply 'Don't like it, don't look at it'. 
  • I suppose this is more of a subversion, as I did my utmost to hide it and and certainly didn't find it cool or desirable, but I've had depression. Needless to say, it had nothing to do with me being a Goth, and I didn't go running back to mainstream fashion the second I began to get over it. I was a person, who happened to be a babybat, who's brain just didn't play nicely for a while. It wasn't fun, and I can't describe how happy I am to be well on the way to getting rid of it. 
  • If broomsticks existed, I would own one. They're awesome. 
  • I was born on Wednesday the 13th of October, at around midnight, during a storm. 
  • I am interested in the darker sides of mythology and folklore. Not really vampires, though, so I might be disqualified. 
  • I love Bauhaus and the Cure. 
  • I don't actively seek 'disturbing' or 'freakish' things, but I am quite open minded and hard to shock. I know there are lots of things people do that I don't bat an eyelid at, but cause many others to freak out.
  • I'm naturally pale. To the point where the lightest foundation shade of many brands makes me look borderline ganguro. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Note to self: Opticians Do Not Work That Way.

Just noticed some really stupid typos in my last post. Damn it.

Anyway, I wasn't sure what to talk about today, so I'll just witter about my Driving Lesson for a bit. Yes, I took my first one this afternoon, and despite the drama in the morning, it didn't actually go too badly. Yes, I stalled the thing- once a matter of seconds after being complimented on my clutch control, the other whilst trying to stop anyway. Yes, I mounted the pavement. Yes, the gear lever took a while to earn my trust, the stupid bloody thing. No, I didn't crash, not even when my brother wandered past and started shouting and waving, making me lose all sense of what I was doing. Yes, I was completely amazed by how much is involved in driving a car. You have to pay attention to about four or five different things at once, and I'm still at the stage where I can't do anything without getting in a muddle, and really have no idea how anyone manages to drive fluently. I'm just hoping that it doesn't take me too long to get the knack, whatever it may be, because this early stage is a bit frustrating, especially with my hand/eye co-ordination. It's more like juggling than anything else.

Oh, but I did manage to drive in glasses that only had one lens without suffering painful repurcussions. This had worried me prior to the lesson, after my mad dash into Hedge End in search of emergency last minute specs failed miserably and I was left with the most battered and broken pair on earth. I actually feel a lot more worldly than I did this morning because of this one journey. It was only today's experience that taught me that it's impossible to buy - glasses off the rack. Any glasses you see in a shop will be for reading, and opticians own nothing you can just buy. And there was stupid me, wandering around Marks, asking the shop assistant in increasingly desperate tones if there was anywhere that sold what I needed, taking the long walk up to Hedge End village... and then walking back down 10 minutes later after a brief, and very sheepish excursion into the opticians. I remember the mad panic I was in walking back to the bus, wondering how much I'd legally be allowed to do and should I risk a white lie if it came down to it.

Turned out I had nothing to worry about.

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Day 3: When did you come out of the Goth closet? 

Well... I didn't, really. I had other people referring to me as a Goth before I'd worked out that I was one. If you mean 'when did I start calling myself Goth', then... pretty recently, but I wrote a whole post on it not too long ago, so I won't really go into the details. If you mean 'when did I admit to being a Goth'... well, again, that doesn't really apply. I'm not one for avoiding doing things 'in case someone makes fun', and besides, I was already the year weirdo long before I even started wanting alternative clothing, so it wasn't as though I had anything to lose. You know what, just stick me into the 'grew into it gradually so no coming out was needed' club. That fits well enough.

Monday, 15 August 2011


I don't live in Southampton, but I do spend five days a week attending college there, and I often end up making trips into the city during Weekends and Holidays as well. So, when I found a "You know you're from Southampton if..." list on Facebook, and I thought I'd brush technicalities aside and see how much of it rang true.

You were GUTTED when they closed Charlie Chalks: 
And to get off to a good start... I wasn't. I have no clue what Charlie Chalks is. For all I know I might be too young to remember it. Sorry.  

It's The Marlands, not "The Mall Southampton", no matter how hard they try to rebrand it!: 
This one rings more of a bell. I'll always think of it as Marlands. 

There's something slightly sinister about the Bargate shopping centre, and the only reason to go in there is to get a shakeaway: 

Eh... this is a tricky one. I see what they mean- Bargate always reminded me more of a Nightclub after closing time than anything else, with it's bad lighting and vacant lots. However, it has to be said that out of the shops that are left, a lot of them are quite nice ones. There's an independant alternative clothing shop in there that I've bought many a fantasy art-adorned top from, and the little cafe's ideal if you want to have a quiet drink. Also, there's a sweet shop, which is about as sinister as Bambi. 

You resent the Boat Show: 

Nah. Although, knowing what the traffic's like in the City Centre at the best of times, it doesn't surprise me that it's very existence gets on people's nerves. 

You're aware of the game of musical shops that's going on in the city centre at the moment:

If by 'musical shops' you mean 'things closing, sometimes only to re-open in the next street', then yes, I am. AND JE NE COMPRENDE PAS. 

You've referred to our glourious city as "Skankhampton"

Nope. 'Chavhampton'. 

You've been thoroughly confused by the half arsed attempt at a one way system in the city centre:

Yeah, there are bits of road that definitely qualify as 'a bit daft'. 

You've played pitch 'n' putt at Woodmill:

Nope. And I have no intention to, either. 

You've stood on Weston Shore wondering who in their right mind would go in the sea there: 

Never mind Weston Shore, the thought that people see any part of the Southampton coastline as prime beach material boggles the mind. It's an industrial port, for crying out loud! The water's grim as hell! 

You remember when we had The Dell and not St Mary's Stadium

No, but that's probably just because I never paid attention to football.

You or your immediate family have worked for British Gas, the council, Skandia, HSBC or Ordnance Survey (or all of the above)

No. Both my parents work for the Norwich Union- I mean, Aviva

You've smelt the desperation emanating from Portswood High Street and have noticed how pretty much everyone there looks like they may be homeless:

Well it's not exactly Shangri-La, but I wouldn't go that far... 

You remember when Bitterne Park triangle had a bank:

No. Don't think I've ever been up that far- not properly, anyway. 

You immediately know what someone means when they say "the triangle":

No. (Never heard anyone mention 'the triangle', so... yeah.) 

You know that Southampton should really be spelt Sfammton:


You've rolled down the hill at Mayflower park, rather than using the slide provided:

Again and very regrettably, no.

You've had ice cream from an ice cream van in February:

I can't remember, but it wouldn't surprise me. The van probably wouldn't have been in Southampton, though. 

You've jumped off Mansbridge, Cobden bridge, Northam bridge or all of them (disclaimer: I'm not advocating this, especially not Northam...):

No, because Northam's the only one I've been over on foot, and I don't have a death wish.  

You know that any area with more than 1000 residents has a Charcoal Grill takeaway place: 

This is completely new education. I'd change 'Charcoal Grill Takeaway' for 'Sklep Pod Orlem'. They're everywhere!

You've walked along the low wall that goes around the civic centre: 

I don't think so. But then, I haven't been in there very often. 

You slag Southampton off no end but still get offended when anyone from another area does:

... maybe. **shiftyeyes** 

You involuntarily tut (or worse) whenever you see someone wearing a Portsmouth shirt, even if you couldn't care less about football: 

The intensity of the Saints/Pompey rivalry has always been lost on me. Football was only a game last time I checked. 

You got lost in the maze in Mayflower Park as a child:

**Has just found a bottle of herbal cooling gel with Best Before End 2007** WTF- eh... oh, no. No, I didn't. 

You scraped your knee on said maze attempting to escape:

I'm intrigued about this maze, now. 

You know the difference between "scum" and "skate": 

I'm guessing this is an in-joke I've never come across. I think I'd better leave it alone... 

You've been in West Quay at least four times when they've evacuated everyone:

That's only happened to me once, and we were only just inside the door at the time. I feel left out. 

You know about ninety Amys, extra points if they're an Amy Louise:

Yeah, there are a lot of Amys around. And I'd wager at least one of them's an Amy Louise, because around here, at least 50% of everyone have Louise as a middle name. Don't know of many other people who have it as a first name, though, which is a bit odd. 

You know it's only a matter of time before SouthCity/The Saint/Radio Hampshire changes its name again:

Oh, so THAT'S what happened to The Saint! 

You've come very close to being hit by a pigeon in the city centre:

Yes. I've also seen many pigeons almost get hit by things. They're a bit thick. 

You've been in the Daily Echo at least once, usually looking slightly "special":

I genuinely can't remember. Might have blocked out the memory...  

You're not sure whether you should like Craig David because he's one of us, or hate him because of his terrible music:

No, I'm sure. I don't care where he's from, the guy's music really, really isn't my cup of tea.    

You know what I'm talking about when I say "go in Itchen, come out scratching":

Yeah, this is advice I ignored- the Itchen in question is my college. It's not actually that bad, though- the biggest problem is the complete lack of organisation. At Itchen, everything gets left to the last minute.  

Two words - Regents Tarts:

Non comprende, sorry. 
You're familiar with the tramp who hangs out by The Square (used to be the Square Balloon):

Not sure where it is, so... no. 

You still call it the Square Balloon:

Well, it sounds more interesting than just 'The Square', so once I work out where it is I will indeed call it the Square Balloon. 

You remember when Ocean Village was good:

Think this is one of the places I've either never visited, or have visited but didn't form much of an impression of. 
You were forced into the paddling pool on the common during summer, no matter how cold it was or how much you protested:

I'm the opposite. I remember really wanting to go in but never being allowed/able to. 

You've seen the huge rats in the city centre parks near Debenhams:

No. Again, I feel left out.  

You can't understand how East Street shopping centre hasn't been pulled down yet:

I actually can't. What was even more baffling was that there was a plan, at one stage, to pull the Bargate down. How does a half-empty shopping centre get targetted over a one containing nothing but a lonely furniture shop up the far end? I quite like that they've left it, though. Give the urban explorers something to do. 

You regularly see tourists posing in front of the Bargate and wonder why they're so fascinated by it:

All the time. I know why they're there, though. Old City Gate and all that. 

You're gutted whenever they scrap plans for an ice rink, yet still get your hopes up every time they re propose it:

Never felt quite that strongly about it, but basically yes. 

Every year you think they can't get someone worse to turn on the Christmas lights, yet they still pull it off:

Don't really pay attention who does this anywhere. Maybe I should start. Hmm... 
And the lights/decorations get worse and worse each year:

Eh, I don't know. From what I've gathered, they basically get the same ones out every year. 

You've been on a school trip to the Tudor Museum: 

I don't think I have, which surprises me, actually. I vaguely remember being taken to the art gallery in year one, though.

You know Southampton FC used to be good:

I vaguely remember them being in the Premiership. 

You've seen Matt Le Tissier or James Beattie around town and actually felt a bit star struck:

Is now a good time to mention that I have no clue what either of them look like?

You've felt the urge to put washing up liquid in the fountain by the Jury's Inn:

That's never occured to me. Great idea though, thanks.  

You were surprised at how quickly the Jury's Inn was built:

Now I come to think of it... yeah. It's huge, how'd they get it up so quickly when it takes 3 months to fix a hole in the road? 

St Mary's fills you with a sense of foreboding:

Yes. It means Football. **le gasp** 

You've been accosted at least four times by some nutter in St Mary's:

I haven't had that happen once, actually. Maybe I just haven't been in the area enough. I did once get some guy peer over the side of the Itchen bridge at me as though I was a unicorn with the body of a puffin, though. 

You know who Paul Miller is, or even better, you've phoned up and been on his show:

Eh, name sounds familiar, but I can't quite place it. I think it's a radio thing, and I'm stupidly radio-illiterate (wait, is radio-illiteracy technically possible? Answers on a postcard). 

You've met Chris Packham at least once:

... not to my knowledge. 

You went on a school trip to Meridian Studios:

Sadly, no. Oh, and I've just realised that the Meridian logo isn't the little multi-coloured sun anymore. Aw, shame. 

You've got an opinion on Fred Dinenage and/or Sally Taylor:

I can't remember precisely what Fred Dineage does and Sally Taylor... reads the news in a nondescript, perfectly acceptable way. So no. 
You look upon Carl Tyler (weather man off the telly) as an uncle, even though you've never met him:

No other weather presenter matters when there's one who went to your Junior School, and brought the local news crews to film it when you were about seven.  

You're secretly quite jealous that Portsmouth has the Spinnaker tower, but you'd never admit it:

Don't be daft, of course I'd admit my mild jealousy!

You were born in the Princess Anne Hospital:

Winchester, I think.

You've been to a birthday party at Ollie's Ocean World:

I don't think so, but come on... how do you expect me to remember? 

You've wondered how on earth it takes an hour to get to the Isle of Wight by ferry:

No, but I am now. 

You've been at a concert in the Guildhall when an argument's broken out about football with Pompey fans:

No, thank God. Surely a football fight is the last thing you want when you're trying to pay attention to a band? 

You wonder why the Marlands even bothered getting renovated when West Quay's about seventy times better:

OBJECTION! Marlands has The Market Gallery and CEX. 

You've braved the dual carriageway between West Quay Retail Park and Leisure World:

What, that sea of traffic islands? I've crossed there several times... somehow. 

You remember the days of Tyrell and Green

Only very vaguely, but this makes me sad somehow, as if the name brings back a long-buried memory of joy that I wish I'd held on to. Chances are it's just my brain being strange, though. 

Your year six residential went to Calshot or Stubbington:

Nope, Fairthorne Manor, where we learnt an annoying song about a crazy moose who drank a lot of juice. Why annoying? Because even now it occasionally gets stuck in my head for no reason. I have been to Calshot, though. 

Your parents hated you going to the Joiners Arms:

Is it really really depressing to admit that I've never been in the Joiners Arms? 

IKEA = Traffic:

Never been there in the car, so I couldn't tell you. 

You've been on the train round Royal Victoria Country Park:

Yep. I think I was quite young, though, 

You used to go to Power in the Park, until they started charging for tickets: 

Nope. Can't remember whether I ever went to Power in the Park at all, actually. I had a deprived childhood. 

You just know it's a Hoot Hoot at Paulton's Park:

When you're eight, it most certainly is. 
You think it's ironic how all the places in Swaythling with the nice names (daisy dip etc) are the worst places to live: 

Swaythling never struck me as being that bad, but I do know that Daisy Dip's dodgy and it did make me laugh when I found out. 
I think you can sort of apply this rule to Southampton in general, actually. St Mary's. Shirley Warren (which includes roads with street names like 'Tremona' and 'Jessamine'). The Flowers Estate (which Saisy Dip may or may not be part of, I'm not sure). Oasis Mayfield Academy. 

"Cantell can't spell!"

Another in joke I'm going to leave alone for fear of saying something stupid and looking like a Charlie. 

You know of the Bevois Valley cheese grater:

I don't think I... Oh, wait, that thing? The 20 foot tall cheese grater at the side of the road on the way into town? Yes, yes I do know that. So, that's where Bevois valley is. 

You think that the Itchen Bridge must surely be paid for by now:

Isn't it? Blimey. 

Mutant mile - you know where it is and avoid it like the plague:

I had to look this one up. Wasn't surprised to learn that it's in Shirley. 

You know of the "05 H1T" mini in Bevois Valley:

No. I'm intrigued now. 

You don't think anything of getting stuck at traffic lights every 200 yards:

YES. YES, thankyou! This is why I hate going into Southampton on the Number Two bus- it goes down all the main roads, every single one of which has enough traffic lights for a small country. And if you get a red once, you'll be getting a red every time. 

You know Portsmouth have a better football team but you won't admit it:

Meh. Football. 

You got excited about playing Southampton Monopoly but after a few games concluded it was a bit rubbish:

I... don't need to have played it to guess that it was a bit rubbish. Monopoly games tend to be. 

You hate how you have to have your network on Facebook as Portsmouth, especially as there are more of us!:

Do we? I didn't know we did XD

Also: You know you're from Eastleigh/Chandler's Ford when nothing happens really... at all:
Sad but true, my friend. Sad but true. 

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Question 2: Share photos and experiences from your Babybat days.   

I'll have to duck out on the photos. Partly because I don't have any to hand and quite frankly, don't really have time to go hunting about for some right now, and partly because I'm not really embarassed by what I wore. True, I wouldn't wear half of it now, but I don't sit and cringe. My haircut, on the other hand...  **shudder** 

So... experiences. Well... there isn't really much to say. In terms of what I wore, two things stand out. One is the Claires jewellery and badge that I bulk-bought and did all sorts fo weird and wonderful things with. I seldom left the house without badges stuck to my T-shirt, my wristbands, even my trousers from time to time. The other is the virtually all-alternative clothing shop wardrobe. I was picky about what I bought, so hopefully I avoided the doom cookie look, but for a few months around the age of 14 I had it in my head that I had to buy from these places or else I was a poser- Ironic, ne? Anyway, these places were generally either independant shops or part of small chains, and therefore they weren't very polished inside. Half the time you'd be the only customer in the shop, and the assistants, when they weren't staring irritatingly at you, thought nothing of talking on the phone, wandering off into the back room or, one on occasion, standing in front of the counter discussing Judas Priest. They weren't always as unobservant as they seemed though. The Sikh guy in Underground Clothing recognised everyone who'd ever been in the shop, or so it seemed. I recall being more than a bit startled when when I paid my second or third visit to the shop and realised he knew who I was. 
The changing rooms could also be a bit scary. Half the time there was only one, facing right out into the shop, which meant that if the curtain didn't cover the entrance properly (as it often didn't), you'd find yourself feeling woryingly exposed. 

I remember the very first time I bought an alternative article of clothing. I was thirteen years old and shopping with my Mum. When I selected the top- a plain black T-shirt with an X-ray style skull and wings on the front, I felt nervous about showing her, knowing full well she'd wonder what I wanted that for. I also bought a white top emblazoned with rainbow musical notes, because I really didn't have a clue what I was going for at that stage. All I knew was that I wanted something **gesticulates wildly** different.

I remember my Mansonite stage. Well, I say Mansonite stage, I never once claimed the band were Goth. On the contrary, I'd always leap to correct anyone who made that mistake. Also, my Marilyn Manson T-shirt fell top bits after no time at all, and never got replaced. 

My fondest babybat memory... no contest, when I got my first pair of New Rocks. I'd wanted some for over a year by that point, but hadn't been able to afford them and didn't know where to purchase a pair from. After a while, when the converses I'd been going around in finally got a bit cruddy (I still own them, mind. They're my back up for whenever I need 'sensible' shoes), I finally struck got my arse onto the computer and gold online. After a brief protest from my Mum, who hadn't been in a very good mood for unrelated reasons, I ordered a pair and had them arrive within a few weeks. I loved them from the start, and they served me well for the next three or so years. Even when they finally fell to bits and had to be replaced back in May, it took me ages to find the heart to throw them out.  

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Myself and Maurice were just having a very serious discussion about books and such. Also, I found another survey.

I'm setting myself a challenge. I found another survey, and because I bloody love surveys, I decided there and then that I just HAD to do it. Only problem is, it's a long runner. You have to answer one question a day for the next 30.

Which means I'll have to blog every day for the next month, and, as you can see, this isn't exactly something I'm used to doing. Furthermore, the survey is all on the same subject- Goth- and it goes without saying that endless posts centred squarely on my personal experiences with my subculture would be horribly tedious, both for me and for anyone who happens to be reading this.

So, I've made a decision. For the next 30 days, I will post, and in each post I will answer the Question of the Day. But also, in each post, I will write about a different topic. So, it'll be Question of the Day and a Poltical Rant. Question of the Day and a Musing. Question of the Day and Snark. Question of the Day and a Silly Anecdote. Question of the Day and whatever I feel like. But never just Question of the Day by itself.

It's time to dust out the cobwebs. I present... **dun dun dun**... Day 1!

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And so I kick off with a great big fuck-off nerd-ramble about literature! Sorry guys.

I first read Lord of the Rings when I was about fourteen, and at the time, I wasn't overly enchanted. I mean, I didn't dislike the series and a lot of it captivated me, but there were other parts I had to battle through. As the trilogy wore on, I found myself resenting, in particular, Tolkien's habit of neglecting character interaction in favour of long monologues about dead Kings, which I couldn't really bring myself to care about. I also struggled to get to grips with the endless similar-souding names taht got thrown around, and found myself having to really think in order to keep up as background characters blended seamlessly into one another.

Despite this lukewarm first impression, however, late last year I was struck by the urge to re-read the trilogy, and I borrowed the battered college library copies and began to read again. When I'd finished, my opinion had completely changed. A few years in age had taken me from thinking the series overrated to really fucking loving it.


It is. It isn't that the niggles I had the first time round have completely gone away. Tom Bombadil is still annoying, the Black and White morality still gets on my nerves and I still have no idea how the Orcs even still existed what with all the in-fighting they got up to. I still took my time through the slower bits of plot. I've found that if you lose your pace at the wrong bit- where the more whimsical and fast-moving Fellowship meets the slower and drier Two Towers- you'll have a hard time getting it back. I even managed to get annoyed by something I'd managed to overlook the first time around- the role of women.
By that, I don't mean the bog-standard traditionalism. Tolkien wrote this book in the 50's and 60's at a fairly old age, what else could you expect? No, my problem is a mixture of logic, and women being mysteriously absent where they shouldn't have been.

For logic, take the Gondor situation: Their city were under severe threat, and they had to give absolutely all they had if they stood a chance of holding Mordor back. It was a do or die situation, screw anything else, anyone who could hold a sword had to fight. Well, in theory, anyway. Despite their dire desperation, after all, they were still sending 50% of their able-bodied adult population off into exile because chivalry.
I... can't make that make sense. No amount of reminding myself of Tolkien's background makes the exclusion of women seem any less silly in-universe. By that stage in the war, the normal rules about who fights were already shown to have widened out of necessity to include old men and teenage boys, and with full awareness that this is coming from my 21st century mind, it would have made so much more sense to have conscripted at least some of the women too. Or, failing that, just given those women who were willing to fight the chance to do so.

As for the mysterious absence... Jesus. For one thing, according to Tolkien's Royal timelines, Queens don't exist in Middle Earth. There has never been an instance where any throne, anywhere, has had to go to a woman, and only one or two women seem to have been in positions of power full stop. Now, while it's probably my feministic tendencies that are making me notice this, it isn't sexism I'm complaining about here. It's more that this goes against all laws of averages. Surely, there would have been at least a few Kings who had only daughters? A few childless Kings who'd died, leaving the throne to a wife or sister? How is it possible that that could just never happen? Also, it often seems that every background character was male unless there was a specific reason for them not to be, to the point where entire races and societies were left with half their population shrouded in mystery. Again, not really sexist, but the effect was definitely a bit awkward, and it left a lot of unanswered questions. You can't automatically blame Tolkien's worldview for it, either- there's no doubt that he knew Queens and female tribespeople existed. Why they never made it into the novels... pfft, anyone's guess.

But, as I said, despite how much it annoys me at times, I love this series. For a while, I wondered about this- this trilogy contains every cliche I read Mieville to avoid. But I think I've worked it out. You see, even though there are many aspects of it that make no sense, Lord of the Rings feels real. The worldbuilding is of that rare quality where the setting and characters just come immaculately to life. It's true that more character interaction would've been nice, but the character development was effective, if subtle, and that's what really matters. Speaking of the characters, I can't think of very many I dislike. This is something I've only noticed since the re-read, but the vast majority of the cast is likeable, interesting, or both. The big exception to this is Bombadil, but he only shows up for a couple of chapters early on, so it isn't like I had to put up with him for very long. I can care about this world and these people and what happens to them. There's also something more personal to me that makes me love this series. I'm about as far from an integralist as it's possible to be, and books that contain a lot of padding spark my interest rather than make me switch off. If the author goes off on tangents just to showcase extra events or details, it not only increases immersion in the story but shows an impressive level of dedication. If there are entire tie-in books full of background information, it's even better.  

I suspect it's this love of extras that led me to dislike another book- the Lovely Bones, which I studied in English last year. Just like I didn't at first understand why I liked LoTR, it took me a while to understand why I disliked this. The concept was OK, I had nothing against the genre. Nothing was obviously wrong. It was only when I read a few negative reviews on it that rang incredibly true that I understood... the worldbuilding was pants. The setting was Anywhereville, and while that was clearly kind of the point, it made it difficult for anyone to connect with the setting. The characters were either bland or charicatures, impossible to relate to, and the main character lost her narrative voice completely after the first couple of chapters, being reduced down to a vehicle with which to convey events through.

The hollow romanticism of everything backfired on the author, as well. By trying to make everything deep and profound, she ensured that nothing was. When a murder is described with the same levels of sentimentality as someone walking the dog, it's hard to care about anything that happens. The entire book ended up as stuff happening in silly purple prose, with the exception of a sex scene that stood out just because of how creepy it was: A grown man (who hadn't shown romantic interest in anyone since his teenage crush died- yeah, Single Target Sexuality was the norm in this story. Everybody's first love interest was their One and Only) gets propositioned by the ghost of aforementioned teenage crush who is posessing his best friend. He accepts instantly. Even though this is a thousand kinds of wrong. Of course. In fact, the fact that Susie chose to have sex rather than help catch her killer when she was returned to Earth is slightly... off. She knew he was at large and was likely to kill again, after all. I'd ask where the logic was, if I could give a monkeys. Which I don't, because there was just no character or charm to this book, depite the author's many desperate efforts to shoe a load in.

TL:DR: Lord of the Rings makes me facepalm at time but is still awesome because of the thorough worldbuilding. Lovely Bones is a bit rubbish because worldbuilding is nonexistant + it tries to hard to be profound. Yes they're weird books to compare and contrast. No, I don't care.

((Looks up and wonders how many geek points I got from that))

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Question 1: How did you come across the subculture? 

I've been aware of it as far back as I could remember, but I never really understood it, and it took me until my early teens to realise I wanted to try alternative fashion, never mind develop any sort of affintiy with Goth in particular. I see pictures of young Goths who look like they understand exactly what they're going for at 12, 13, 14 years old. That wasn't me. I did not have the faintest idea what I was doing. I was more or less emo at first, but with too much DIY jewellery made from stationery to really count. Then I started erring towards a rock chicky kind of thing, but I associated a tough, rock 'n roll personality that I simply did not have to that, and inevitably dropped it fairly quickly. Somewhere along the line I became what would be described by many as a Mansonite, except I never claimed that either they or I were Goth, so... yeah. Then I learnt more about the Goth subculture, and after a while realised it fitted me pretty damn well. Yeah. 

So, TL:DR summarised, I did not have a longstanding affintity for Goth. What I did have, however, were a lot of the early signifiers. I was a creative child, always inventing imaginary worlds and writing stories. I enjoyed reading. I had a brief but intense interest in Greek mythology. When I got scared by a picture of Kali in an encyclopaedia, I conquered my fear by making up stories where she was 'one of the goodies', and developed a fascination with the Goddess that still holds to this day. 

When I was a toddler, I decided several Disney Villains and Medusa were perfect imaginary friend material. 

The main thing that sticks out for me, though, is my attraction to weirdness. Right from childhood, if it was visibly outside the norm, I'd like it. If other people shunned it because it was weird, my curiosity would be sparked. Occasionally, when I was really young, I'd become flat-out contrary and decide to like something just because some authority figure didn't. Luckily I've long grown out of that last one, but the first two seem hard-wired into me, and have held true from early childhood to the present day. Granted, sometimes the ostracism that tends to come with growing up aspie got to me deeply enough to cause cracks in my love of the bizarre, but that love always came back. I'm a sucker for creativity and boundary-pushing. Being outside the norm and pushing boundaries in the face of severe negative judgement is one of the quickest ways to earn my respect. In books, in music, in people, in places... weirdness is a virtue. Now, I don't know how many Goths have a similar history, but I am certain that for me, my love of the unusual played a big part in leading me into alternative fashion.