I have a minor confession to make. I really like train journeys. I don’t really like long tube journeys, because they’re just short enough to not let you really relax and think but they’re always too long to just stare, unblinking, at the door – because of course accidental eye contact on the tube is the absolute worst thing that could happen to you.

Whereas proper train journeys are great. You just plug yourself into an mp3 player (stops people thinking you want to touch up their necklace or even, heaven forbid, talk to them) and away you go. If it’s a journey you don’t take very often there’s some merit to just looking out of the window and drinking in the scenery. Look! In every house is a family, every car has someone inside, all those pedestrians have their own lives, and your life will probably never intersect with any of them. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it astounding that there can be so many people so close to you who you will never meet or even talk to? Even on the train itself – if you’re feeling brave – there’s the opportunity for some surreptitious people watching. Like the man sitting with a group of his friends (they all got on together) but not talking to any of them. Why? Or the man who fell over in the toilet and is now harassing the guard for a free ticket on his connection train – isn’t that weird?

Of course, if you’re on a familiar journey that’s where things start to get interesting. You could take the opportunity to read a book. I always like reading on trains because it feels like I’m being productive without having to do anything – I’m reading, but I’m actually going somewhere at top speed. Or you could have a quick meditate. Admittedly, this might work better if you’re in the quiet carriage but I’m sure you could pull it off if you were determined. Another option, and my favourite, is to put on a playlist, unbuckle my imagination and just drift off into my own head for half an hour. I may look like I’m sitting in a seat on a train, but I’m actually wrestling a dragon, or negotiating a peace treaty with aliens, or in a cafe meeting my future imaginary spouse.

Sometimes I’m even disappointed when the train pulls into York.


And now, something a little more cheerful

My last few posts have been a bit of a roller-coaster (to say the least) in terms of mood, so I thought it might be nice to put up something a bit less sad. And here it is: a post about comics! Basically, I’ve taken the opportunity to order both more of my shampoo (it’s important that my hair be ludicrously soft) and, while I was there, a couple of volumes of comics. The first volume of both, rather than getting all keen and ordering loads.

the movement

This is the first one. It’s called, as you may have gathered, The Movement. I heard about this through tumblr (!) but I was really interested in reading something with such a diverse cast. Essentially, the premise is that a group of teenagers called The Movement use a range of superpowers to tackle corruption in Coral City. The comics are supposed to incorporate lots of social movements and are meant to be a commentary on power dynamics and hierarchies. So it sounds like a pretty interesting concept, if nothing else. AND there’s an aroace (main!) character so that’s pretty exciting.

miss marvel

And this is the other one! You may already know this, but me writing it down fills out a bit of blog space so it bears repeating. This is the fourth character (as far as I know) to be called Ms Marvel, and her RL name is Kamala Khan. She’s a Pakistani-American, and her powers – shapeshifting – come from having a particular Inhuman gene etc. Basically, I don’t know a lot about the background of this one, but with my trusty google companion anything I don’t know I can veery quickly find out. There’s been a lot of positive reviews of this one, so we’ll see.

I’m sure I’ll do a followup review or something so you’re not left wondering forever ‘how good were they?????’.

Mitchell out.

Music Dinner

I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands. You know that music dinner I mentioned? The one that I bought that super awesome dress for – which I went and collected from the tailor today and fuck it looks good – and that I’ve been looking forward to for a good month now? Well, I’ve just discovered that something else is on the same day, and suffice to say it’s not something I’m looking forward to in the slightest.

It’s my nan’s funeral next Monday.

I don’t really know what to do. I’d like to go to the dinner, and I think it might be nice to do something cheerful to perk myself up a bit. But on the other hand, I don’t want to go and spend the whole evening being sad because having to socialise with people isn’t really necessarily what’ll be good for me. So I’m torn.

The thing is, I almost never go to these things. I ducked out of the dinner and the boat party last year, and I didn’t go to the end of year thing, so I kind of want to go just to make up for that. I’m umming and ahing and I don’t really think I’m likely to come up with an answer any time soon. That’s ok though. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t go, I guess.

Maybe I’ll just have to see how I feel next week or something.

Bloody Valentine’s Day

This Saturday, as I’m sure everyone in the entire universe is aware, was Valentine’s Day. St Valentine’s Day if you’re being super fancy, but I just prefer The Abomination.

This year I ended up playing in orchestra rehearsals all day (woe is me) so I didn’t have any time to dwell on my inevitable singleness. I say inevitable, but I guess it’s possible that one day I might have a significant other who doesn’t mind my being aroace but THAT TIME HAS NOT YET COME (and coincided with Valentine’s Day). But when I got BACK from orchestra, stuffed a burger down my throat and prepared myself for a hot chocolate filled evening/night of lying around and feeling generally sorry for myself.

I do that very well, as a matter of fact.

Anyway, just as I was settling in for an excellent evening (House + a cup of G&B hot chocolate, so not as bad as it could have been) my friend Evey (I think she spells it Evey but it might well be Evie. oh well) invited me over for commiserating over a bottle of cider and generally being inane.

(The inanity was shortly followed by a pretty intense conversation about politics and sexuality, which was interspersed with me gently falling off the sofa and putting myself back on it. and then the rolling across the floor happened because I had to demonstrate how soft my jumper was and how good my log roll was)

All in all, not a terrible day. Items required for a successful Valentine’s Day: One (1) friend with broken foot, two (2) bottles of cider, one (1) super soft jumper, and the ability to slide off a sofa while continuing a line of conversation.

The Element of Surprise

I used to think I liked surprises; a surprise hug, a cup of tea  you weren’t expecting, an unusual birthday present five months early. Those are all acceptable forms for surprise to take, being all reasonably pleasant and involving the acquisition of nice things. (unless the hugger has BO or something, but that’s by the by)

These days I have less of a taste for surprise. More accurately, I have less of a taste for suspense. When something unpleasant is going to happen, but you don’t know quite when, it leaves you feeling on edge. That’s alright for a day or so, but when you feel like that for a week or even several weeks, there’s a feeling of being poised on the edge of a cliff, waiting to tumble down into the sea below. A kind of lurching feeling, like that moment when you’re held in suspense on a roller coaster just before a plummet. It’s not a very nice feeling. I would quite happily be without it if it’s absence didn’t mean that the terrible thing had happened.

I am of course talking about my gran who is unwell at the moment. What a word, unwell. As though she might at any moment spring from her bed and be well again. At this point that is impossible. So here we are, waiting for the inevitable. And in the meantime, does life go on? It does, because it must. But every moment that passes is tainted with the constant knowledge that time is passing and can never be undone. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. The last conversation I had with her while she was awake, for one. Or maybe I could go back before that and… what? Visit her in Bolton somehow? I don’t know. But it haunts me. The trouble with regret is that there is often absolutely nothing that can be done about it.

In the immortal words of Owl City: this isn’t the end.

I can’t work out if that’s a comforting thought.

Dress for Success

In a few weeks I’ll be going to the first formal dinner I’ve been to in probably a year. It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities for formal dining, because there have. There have been quite a few (I’d hate to be more specific, so I’m going to be completely non-specific: a few) but I’ve turned them all down. And the reason for that is simple: dress code.

It’s amazing how much of a role the dress code plays. In this case, the ever vague “formal”, which I took to mean “ladies wear dresses, men wear suits”. I can honestly say, hand on heart, I would literally rather punch a bear than wear a dress. OK, maybe I actually wouldn’t rather punch a bear, but you get my point. Dresses, as far as I’m concerned, are the work of a greater evil than I can comprehend. Why would you even do that? What’s the effing point?

My objections to dresses run from the simple “where the flip am I meant to put my phone” to “my legs are literally cold” to “I hope nobody minds a flash of my armpit hair”. There are quite a few objections to having to wear a dress. In my humble opinion, a dress is as much a practical suggestion as a banana wearing sunglasses. Cool, maybe. Sensible, no.

Now, I acknowledge that some of my issues with dresses could possibly be solved by tights and a sturdy razor. But frankly those are torture devices in and of themselves and only serve to compound the issue.

Which is why I’m so thrilled to have (finally) found a dress I can actually bloody wear.

eliza j dressLook at that. A dress with sleeves. SLEEVES. Good god I think I might have just found the perfect dress. Apart from two tiny things, it’s great.

the first is that it’s actually quite long, isn’t it? A bit taller than me. So high shoes may well be in order.

And the second is that it doesn’t entirely fit in a billowy sort of way, so I’m having to get it tailored otherwise things could get a tad embarrassing when I sit down. or lean.

all things considered though, this seems like the answer to all my prayers. So to speak.

Tetris Moments

I’ve just had a tetris moment. No, I haven’t just been playing tetris for so many hours that I had a dream about tetris (it’s happened. The minecraft dream on top of that served as a chilling reminder that marathons of video games have consequences). A tetris moment, or what some might call an epiphany, is that moment where suddenly a fact slides into place and the whole world makes sense. Obviously it doesn’t all go ding and disappear like it does in actual tetris, but it’s pretty much the same.

So my tetris moment has been: stress headaches! Yep, that’s it. I get stress headaches. Now, you might think to yourself: but Charlie, isn’t that really fucking obvious? Well, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t! Or wasn’t! Maybe I’m just dim? Anyway, the realisation struck me yesterday in a lecture (it was really boring, OK? My attention drifted briefly) when I suddenly realised that my headaches and general malaise seemed to coincide with bad or stressful news. And stressful events, and things that I was worried about…

You might, if you were feeling a bit unkind, ask why this is such a revelation to me. Well, a lot of the time I get headaches when I’m out and about on a day trip. So sometimes it can be a bit tricky to tell whether I’m anxious about the trip or just stupidly dehydrated because I’ve forgotten to have anything to drink. It could possibly be a combination of the two, but if I’m perfectly honest I never get headaches when I’m at home or at uni and don’t drink anything for a couple of hours so that might not be so much of a factor.

The most important part about this revelation is the fact that I’m so good at compartmentalising things (1. I’m stressed and 2. I have a headache) that I never realise that they’re connected in any particular way. So my February resolution is going to be: to be more mindful about things.

and maybe to drink more water when I’m away from home.