Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Saturday, 28 February 2015


Yeah, dreaming like this.
I woke up this morning, next to the Boy who has chickenpox who we carried in to our bed, and Tilly sometime before the sun came up. I have no clue what woke me. However, being in a semi-waking state and then falling back to sleep meant that I remembered my following dream, which was strange enough that it bears some posting here, methinks.

I'd had a lovely ale the night before and Tilly and I had snuggled to watch the fourth season of Game of Thrones together. Not the whole thing, just a single episode, before she had retired to write with her buddy and I'd decided to go to bed early. I'll admit that our relationship remains on my mind and that moves have been made but not as far or as many as I would have anticipated. Still, the situation at work where a newb is slowly coming unstuck and thus requiring lots of extra effort, cover and work on my part has done a good enough job of preventing too much introspection. I must assume that this is, in part, part of the plan of my favourite Imaginary Friend Who Created the Universe. Anyway, yes, the point is that it had been a pleasant evening and I hadn't done any work, for whatever that is worth. A Chinese take out had been had and I was tuckered out.

Actually, having written the dream in question out, it probably counts as a fantasy so, in the fashion of this blog and my promise to you about such things, I shall hide it behind a line-break.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Thoughts on blogging and results

I still love this image and I cannot complain about the
fact that I still own the dress, after everything.
I'd still love the shoes.

Wouldn't everyone?
First of all, I hear and read of people getting e-mails and notes that specifically tell the owners of blogs that they are hosting content that could potentially break the new guidelines. As much as I am shocked, and slightly scared by the dire warnings, by the new month deadline, I suppose an e-mail to at least let those accounts that are affected that they will be affected is good. I guess I'll now just sit and worry about getting an e-mail.

I've been pootling at Wordpress, well, last night anyway and, so far, it's not as intuitive as here. I hope I'm not targeted. And it's that kind of language that has me worried. They are targeting, and it's their platform so they can if they wish, but my concern lies with the haste and the lack of explanation. It seems as though no one saw this coming and so one must question why now and why this particular battlefield. One must also wonder, aloud, if this is just the first strike. What's next? Is there a next?

A blast from the past here.

I'd be very happy to be like this for a
spell but I recognise that it is highly
unlikely and that female Dommes
are actually quite rare.
I don't know. But, as a historian, I am a mite perturbed by the exhortation to self-censor and to avoid guidelines that seem clear on the surface but get woolly after a read through. Again, it's Google's playground and they can do what they want with it - but it is quite scary for people such as I that pootle around on the edges of what would be acceptable in mainstream culture and who has thus far relied a little on the community I have found on blogger to, well, discuss and find out a little more - to share and think about things. Yes, it's another love-letter to people that I read and people that read my thoughts here.

Secondly, those results. They were far from surprising given my posts on here and the sorts of things I have shared from the dark recesses of my mind in my time here. What was surprising, if anything, was the low score of dominance. I mean, I remember taking charge quite well when dressed in my relationship with Toby. I haven't so far in my relationship with Tilly, I mean, I tried, but she's not in the least bit interested and never has been. Apparently I scared the pants off her once with handcuffs - I should stress that I don't recall this and I was the sober one, so I would think that maybe she's mis-remembering the incident, but there we go. What else was surprising was the low score, generally, of things like 'slave' and 'brat' - the latter referring to the sort of sub who likes being punished.

The famous scene, later than we managed as a couple.
My ex-newb at work has referenced Secretary quite a few times and in ways that clearly mark her as a Domme, which I find fascinating. Not something I could ever discuss with her, obviously, but I note it here as an observation. There is also the debate about whether or not Gyllenhaal ends up being the dominant one in the relationship in the film or whether she is just a typical 'brat'. My thoughts are not fully formed on that and, well, the last time I watched the film it was interrupted so I don't know really.

Still haven't dressed and it's there in the back of my mind at the moment so there's that too.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Is anyone else getting a message about blogs being made private on 23 March if they have any sexual content of a "certain type" or "certain types" of nude pictures on them?

I'm struggling a bit, anyone know if mine counts?

UPDATE: Yes, it's on all blogger sites. I'm probably affected. I have downloaded my content and, if the blog goes 'private', I am happy to invite anyone who wishes to view - not sure how I can do that, beyond posting my e-mail address here, which I will do before 23 March.

My new blog address will be over at Wordpress, under the same title and with the same url but with wordpress rather than blogspot after the 'happinessv1' moniker. I've also updated my name from Joanna Atkins to Joanna Cale - after all, I am married. It amuses me and probably no one else.

But... yes, this move is worrisome.

Saturday, 21 February 2015


Mine. With an image by someone else.
It is... poor. But fitting for here.
So, pootling about on the web, avoiding work, I found a link to the test below and I post my results as a matter of record. You may wish to take this test, you may not. My posting of the results publicly is because I want an area of my life where I hold nothing back (apart from, you know, my actual identity). Basically, by posting these I'm sharing this part of myself with people who may have helpful opinions and with whom I can discuss what this means.

Also, I suspect that some of my friends who visit would want to have a look for themselves - any chance to skew results honestly, right?

Anyway, yes, my results follow but thoughts on what they mean may have to wait longer.

== Results from http://bdsmtest.org/ ==
91% Bondage Receiver
Not mine, but I no longer know the source:
let me know if you do!
Bondage receivers like to be tied up and restrained using rope and/or other attributes (chains, cuffs, spreaders etc) whether for sexual enhancement, for art or just for fun: they enjoy being totally at the mercy of their partner.

80% Experimentalist
Experimentalists want to have tried it all. An open mind an an insatiable curiosity are their key features, and they will rarely form an opinion before they have gathered first hand experience. They often have plenty of fantasies and will actively pursue them to try them out.

80% Submissive
Submissives like to follow. Some like to give control away to their partner, some like to have it forcibly taken from them. Some are submissive only in the bedroom, others are submissive throughout their daily life as well (usually with limitations). Unlike the bottom roles (receiving pain/bondage/degradation), being submissive is more about who decides what happens (and takes the responsibility that comes with it) than about the contents of what happens.

This is just the top three results. There were many more but these three seemed accurate enough. If you're interested then you can see my full results at http://bdsmtest.org/result.php?id=135927

From melissascaptions.tumblr.com - it is a nice place.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Good News (for once)

Think Pharrell Williams's best known hit I guess.

It's rare that I say happy things on here (check the tags) so here is a positive update of things that have happened in the past week, in no particular order but numbered because I like numbering things:

Yes, the teaching and pastoral
style suggested by this actually.
1. I was told by three separate colleagues that I would be a good candidate for a pastoral position that's opened up as I am a disciplinarian who the students feel is approachable; that is, I can be the 'bastard at the top' but students recognise me as a reasonable man who will help people in need. I'm not saying I agree, but boy is it nice to have the smoke blown that way!

2. It has been a week of fire-fighting with a flaky newb and plenty of issues being thrown up - it's my favourite form of management! I think I've said it before, but I like being able to sort things out for other people quickly and in a way that makes them feel valued and their day just a little bit easier. They don't have to say thank you, indeed they can even still decide they hate me, so long as their day is actually improved. There's been a lot of that this week, and I like that kind of work.

3. Thanks to a good friend, Leslie, sending a well-worded e-mail I was able to have a proper chat with Tilly on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. It's still too early to draw any last conclusions but things have been more positive and she seems much happier generally. This, in turn, has made me much happier too. I wouldn't say we're out of the woods yet but I would say that we may have heard the noise of a brook (hopefully leading to a river) nearby that may offer a guide out of them!

4. This site: here; and their jackets. They are just rather lovely, don't you think?

5. TG hypnosis captions. Nuff said.

Eh, close enough to a curtsy!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Relevant to our interests...

One of the main storylines in a webcomic that I read regularly may be of interest. Here is the most recent comic:

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Crying into your Beer

Oh come on, like you wouldn't risk feeling this sad to look like
that whilst so doing!

For many many years, more than I'd like to admit, the days following Valentine's Day have always gone the same way. The numb realisation that nothing had changed, that there has been no card this year either, and the fact that other people did is just the icing on the cake. On days like those you just want to wallow in the self-pity and the shame, the failure to be like everyone else - sure, other people have no cards but that is not a permanent or forever thing.

My own history is littered with days like these, and not just on Valentine's Day either. So, for people who want to give up on the whole pressure of a commercialised mandated day of romantic liaisons; who wish they could be nonchalant and avant garde about it all, declare it gauche and thus beneath them; but who remain, nevertheless, slightly depressed (though they could never talk about that to anyone else in public or in private)... for those people, I present to you some beers to cry into based on my own experiences throughout the last three years.

Firstly, there is the mournful accusatory sort of feeling, the one that makes you think that it is everyone else's fault that you didn't get recognised. You know it's not really, and you start blaming yourself, but that depression and self-criticism gets turned outward in an attempt to ward off the encroaching depression and the solid wall of pain that comes from being passed over for attention, from anyone, yet again. Like the song, you feel you did your part in good faith and tried your level best but, once again, someone else got to experience the pleasure that you banked as, it turns out, you're just not what the object of your affection wants out of life. For days like these and feelings that crest on this sort of wave, there is the angry Molotov Cocktail. At 13% ABV this is the sort of ale that would do nicely fuelling the fire of rejection and the flames of jealousy. It also would have the lovely side-effect of rendering any action taken to feed these things utterly pointless and irrelevant. After a second one you would be rendered incapable of texting the object of your affection, or anyone else, with passive aggression and so this must count as a win. It's also a very nice ale that can be gained on all sides of the Pond so I can post it here without too much guilt. Now, the guilt of internally directed anger and hatred of other people but knowing that's unfair, well, at least the high ABV will mean that the evening is short.

Next there's the spiky sort of feeling whereby you sent the card, you know it was received and, maddeningly, the recipient doesn't really care who it was from. For one of two reasons: they got so many cards that they don't care about the ones that are anonymous or they decided that getting an anonymous card wasn't romantic but the work of a scary stalker. Either way, you kinda know that this one is out of your league and you also don't want to admit it. You'd really like it if they paid you any attention at all, but also know that you are so far beneath them it is highly unlikely. For these days of self-loathing and a real fear that you are turning into a stalker there is Mocha from Batemans that will allow you to fall back into the soft embrace of chocolate and coffee and a good malt. This 6% ABV brew will let you indulge, the beer equivalent of ice cream in the bath, and feel that maybe you are worth something after all, indeed, you have this sensuous and luxurious ale to prove it. If you are thus rejected then they have missed out and you must turn your attention elsewhere. We both know you won't, not this time, but time does heal this particular wound so don't get too sad about it all just yet. Still, the warm coffee feeling from this brew will dull the edge of this rather ragged and open wound that will leak the emotional equivalent of pus for a while yet. Especially if you're actually in a relationship already. I suspect that many people who share the list of issues that serve as tags on the side there have a relationship that could do with an infusion of Mocha - and this can be ordered directly from the brewery at the princely sum of £1.90 a bottle (minimum order is twelve though).

Then there are the feelings of self-flagellation. These come when you know that you have done nothing to make yourself known to the person that you wish attention from. You haven't actively avoided them and you haven't tried to make them miss you either, but fear and a combination of society and your own lack of self-confidence have conspired to ensure that you remain a completely unknown admirer. You will never send a card or make any move, nor will you magically gain attention from this person. You may, over time and through some chance, become friends but, even then, you know that this is doomed to the kind of long arc of failure you may have seen in a war film when a fighter pilot gets shot down and the canopy remains firmly glued down. It's not going to end well and you know it. For these days there is the warm recognition from Landlord, reminding you that though you are a regular at the loneliness bar there are other people sharing this time with you. Romance may not be a hot topic and you will be unlikely to strike up a relationship here but you can listen to tales of others and provide your own in the sure hope that a friendship may well be gained and shared. These are the friendships that, if handled correctly, become powerful and strong. And you will thank the 4.2% ABV ale that set them off. I'll be honest, I was thinking very much of the "I Live in a Sexless Marriage" board over at the Experience Project.

And, sometimes, there's no one at all. There are no objects of affection and all year you have worked hard and at all hours and alone. In these dark days you realise that you have put yourself out a little but mainly stuck to doing the basics. You have seen success and you have security. You know that you have enjoyed and used the freedom of being single and alone to its fullest and you know that some people in relationships cannot help but envy you but still there is gnawing feeling that you are missing something. And this time of year can be brutal and cruel to someone who is alone and who hasn't even seen a potential partner since the last year. To help at these moments one can turn to Late Red to try and ease oneself away from self-reflective destruction and into the sunlit uplands of creative expression. Maybe you have a poem or an appreciation for the colours in nature, maybe you have the ability to paint or make a mean power-point presentation. Whatever, it is an ale like this, with the smoke on the tips and the deep sense of autumn, the season of decay before winter clothed in rampant beauty, that can help you embrace the situation and set you free of convention so that you can become more desirable and wanted. Of course, most of us are already set free of convention and so I realise that it is a moot point. Still, it can sometimes help, I'm told, to tell people everything in advance and there is sufficient evidence out there that some women actually like cross-dressers and can love them that I can't ignore it. I do, however, believe that one has to move in the right circles to meet such women and I'm not at all certain that I do or that I ever could - my mad ex being a case in point.

Finally tonight, though by no means the final feeling that one can associate with this time of year, there is the one that is reserved for that time when you are in a relationship and yet there is a dysfunction or a glitch. That time when you get a gift that tells you "thanks for your time but I don't rate you that highly" or a card that, far from being romantic and loving is humorous and cheap - the one that says, "what? You need romance as well? Ha ha, very funny!" Those in relationships know this one and it can be just as cold as being left alone or being rejected. It is a form of rejection too, because you also know that the kind of relations you expect in a relationship have cooled so far you'd be hard pushed to pick them out from the ambient friendship radiation with infra-red goggles. In cases like these you need something uncomplicated and thrifty, the sort of ale that can stand repetition and be drunk as a sessionable ale so that you get good and drunk slowly. Indeed, you need a bitter of the working class type with no complications and just straight talking. You need Banks's Bitter for this ploy. 3.8% ABV of sessionable ale that can be knocked back or nursed depending on your style and thoughts for the evening. You will get angry with your partner and harbour dark thoughts but you will not act on any of them and you won't even bring it up because you got your partner something nice and heartfelt. When asked, your partner will say something like "but you don't want anything do you?" or "but you already know I love you, what difference does the day make?" And they will be right. And you'll need another of these ales to cover the tears.

Thursday, 12 February 2015


Tilly noticed my downcast mood today and asked. I told her everything in my head. After I went to collect take-out for tea she asked, directly, if I had thought about ending the relationship: "are things that bad?"

I said yes.

Since then she has cried, has said that I could have had everything I wanted but for the anger and stress in 2007 when she moved in and the summer when we conceived the Girlie. She has said that she has no idea how to make me feel wanted, that she doesn't know how to do that any more. She has said that "people need some time after a statement like that before hugs can happen" - the phrasing is not lost on me - after I went to hug her when she seemed very upset.

Let's just review that: I could have had everything I wanted but for something that happened in 2007.

She thought we were moving on, you see. Ah yes, that's the one. She doesn't understand why I would be comparing events now to what has gone before because we've moved past that. But, you know, for the fact where what I did eight fucking years ago means we can't ever have intimacy. History has changed again. And I let her do that.

Also, that means she hasn't noticed the lack of wedding ring. Compliments are just words, she tells me, and so the ones I make for her aren't noted. They're nice at the time but that's all. She sees no point in giving or making them for me. She shows love by not getting upset that I'm back home late or that she has to look after the children on a weekend to give me time to mark. That's nice and all, but big fucking deal.

In all of this? She hasn't said "I love you" once.

But I'm the bad guy.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


Never going to happen.
Today I felt them grow in real time in a way that I don't think I've felt in a while. My lovely workplace remains lovely and the people in it very nice - but stress is coming. Predictably, this morning, I woke up with the fading dream of being cross-dressed, I can tell you no more than that. Morning was spent hurrying in preparation for a visit from the speech therapist for the Boy and I was on Girlie duty. Except that Girlie didn't really really want her Daddy about, so I retired to the spare room, with my wardrobe.

Taking the family to their friend's house for a playdate, Patti's, we had a mostly quiet drive but for me reeling off what I had to do as Tilly asked. By the time I got to work I was pretty wound up. And I wanted to dress so badly. To feel knickers on my midriff, a skirt or dress about my legs and the support of a heel arching my foot. Even maybe the bra around my chest. Yesterday was similar. In both cases it was most distracting from what I was doing at work, and it rises all the time. I actually went and bought some new male underwear today, my existing boxers are getting threadbare, and I wondered at the waste of it all. But Tilly would never consent to me washing female-designed smalls, think of the possible questions! You know, from all those people that count our underthings and would wonder where the extra came from or our children who would know the difference. Truth is, I suspect, Tilly would feel threatened. By what and how is confusing to me. But, you know, I'm autistic.

We're switching rooms around, mainly my suggestion after getting new shelves, and so the whole place is a tip. It's hard to concentrate. Tilly is the same, she has retired to the spare room - her office - one of the few places left reasonably tidy and usable. It's also where my wardrobe of female clothes lives. I'm giving her a free day on Thursday, we're having 'family days' tomorrow and Friday. Saturday will be a normal Saturday - so busy and separate. Sunday will be spent making sure the house is in order as we won't have done it before then. On Monday I'm back at work. I'll be amazed if anything comes of the weekend, especially if that thing is me, and I suspect I'm in for the long haul again. But, you know, I said that before Christmas too and look what happened just over a fortnight ago.

I wish I knew what you were missing.

In truth, I'm a bit of a shit. My first relationship was badly attended to, and deserved to die: there was nothing to be proud of in how that developed, ran or ended. My ex managed to salvage some dignity and learn something from it but I did not. Then I was a bit of a shit with my mad-ex, Toby, after all: she was mad. I did kind of use that to my advantage. I got nothing that I wanted but I managed to reel her in a little, in the process killing any respect she had for me and revealing myself to be boring. A backlash from her, long overdue, and it was all over. And now? I should have let Tilly end it at our first Christmas together. She was right and I was wrong to fight for it. I won. Ha. I won.

Forewarned is forearmed only if you give a shit.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Mixed Messages


Ha ha ha. Hahahaha. Hahahahaaaaaa!

As if.
It's been a strange weekend. Friday night I have already related and on Saturday morning I was woken, yes woken, by Tilly suggesting that we not do anything on Valentine's Day - after all, it's all so commercialised. Some context: not long after getting together I suggested that we forego cards and gifts and shiz and, instead, celebrate love every day. I would get little gifts all the time for Tilly and we could maybe have a meal in the week of Valentines, at a time that worked for us, and there would be no pressure. Tilly responded with shock and horror about the idea of there being no card. I learned my lesson. Since that time, in 2007, we have spent each Valentines exchanging cards and gifts with, uh, nothing else happening at all. 2008, pregnant; 2009, not interested in anything; 2010, pregnant; 2011, angry at me; 2012, angry at me; 2013, too tired / on period; 2014, on period / not interested in anything. So... wow.

It's not a bad ale, just, y'know, a bit,
well, it's not romantic is it?

Indeed, I'm not sure I've ever had a
romantic Valentines Day. But, then, that
would be the pressure wouldn't it.
Later that day, yesterday, Tilly texted to clarify that sex was not off the menu, it wasn't on the menu either, but it wasn't categorically off the menu. She just didn't want cards and gifts and shit. Colour me confused as we've spent all of our married life (and indeed every Valentines we've spent together) exchanging cards and gifts and shit with no actual romance on her part and no hint of there ever being anything else beyond the cards and the gifts. Again, for context, gifts for me have been: 2007, chips and dip; 2008, HP Sauce; 2009, chilli snack-a-jacks; 2010, chilli flavoured crisps with dip; 2011, chinese take-out and a DVD (Sherlock I think); 2012, ale (Black Cat); 2013, a DVD night (we watched an episode of Game of Thrones if memory serves) and 2014, no gift, just a card. Spotting a trend? Remember how Tilly hates it if I have anything spicy because she can smell it oozing from my pores?

We spent today putting up those shelves with some company. First we cleared existing shelves and rearranged furniture ready for them and then we had company. Another home-schooling family, the wife of which has been cited by Tilly as wishing she could have the sex-life Tilly does instead of her own. Not sure quite how honest Tilly has been with her friend but there you go. Did I mention they have four children? Anyway, it was a decent enough day, the father of the other family and I get on pretty well and did manly things like erecting shelves, chopping down a very small willow tree and sharing some Mocha ale from Batemans (only 79p from my local supermarket for 330ml bottles: bargain!). I teased Tilly about her disorganisation with CDs, a bit much apparently, and not much was said about anything. This followed an argument this morning as Tilly's friend was still over and the Boy was stropping loudly in our bedroom, I went to whisk him back to his room and Tilly grabbed his leg and held on to stop me. Apparently I had the face that meant I was going to beat him. No, I was tired and trying to solve a problem quickly. Yes, I was angry and upset, no, I would not beat the Boy.

I've definitely mentioned how much I would like
to get flowers too. That is never going to happen.

Still, they say that romance is dead? Blame the
hopeless romantics, resigned to hopelessness:
their romantic plans with sycophantics.
Gifts for her, by the by, have been: 2007, roses, chocolates and a DVD with take-out as well as a meal and cinema trip, oh, and a necklace that she has never worn since that she specifically asked for; 2008, pizza that she was craving, roses, DVD and a meal out; 2009, take-out she wanted (and asked for), roses, book she was hankering after and a DVD; 2010, book she wanted, gift voucher, roses, single red rose, take-out and a DVD night; 2011, roses, book she wanted but couldn't afford, paid for her new boots and a meal out for the first time since 2008 (arranging child-care etc); 2012, roses, books she couldn't justify getting for herself, CD album, day out with children, night off; 2013, roses, book she asked for, day off from children, trip to see a friend of hers; 2014, roses, fake roses, toilet set, vase, bead for her bracelet. Did I mention how much Tilly loves roses? She does, like, a lot.

So, this year there will be no card and there will be no gift. During the day today I asked her to clarify her position and Tilly said that she didn't want the pressure so she didn't want to do cards and gifts. Her response to the sex-thing was luke-warm - it may happen, it may not, but the pressure of it being Valentines was something she could do without.

There were two of these shelf units.
They're not bad and they do improve
the room and our book storage.
This weekend has been another set of time that we have not really spoken. Yesterday and today was spent with Tilly working through and writing her book with her writing buddy and me on child-care duty (which is fine and perfectly equitable by the way). When we had company later today Tilly spent most of the time chatting with the female, let's call them Patti and Ken, and occasionally fielding small people - though they were mainly in the garden on the trampoline. Once the shelves were up, Tilly busied herself sorting her books as Ken and I went to get an ale and then drink an ale. This evening was spent sorting books whilst the children ate tea and played on their iPads that aren't as expensive as all that - they are android devices, Nexus 7s I think. Anyway, once they were a-bed Tilly went and had a bath, then has retired to bed to do more work on her book.

Tomorrow I'm going into work to get some marking done, and tidy my class room, whilst Tilly is going to a pre-arranged arts and crafts do with another home-schooling family, including the boy that Girlie has decided will be her future husband (and the boy agrees). They will enjoy that. The evening is a writing night with her writing buddy and has been booked in. Tuesday will be a day at work too, whilst Tilly goes to Patti and Ken's with the children to have a play-date. Wednesday we're planning a trip to an open farm. Thursday is shopping for furniture. Friday is an IKEA day (we know how to live), Saturday is shopping and the Girlie is practicing for her show with a dance group and Sunday... I don't know. Then I'm back at work. If we have a conversation during my week off I'll be amazed at this rate.

Good grief I can write downers.

Friday, 6 February 2015


Do labels liberate or do they trap?

Would being a woman be a dream come
true or a new and differently bounded
prison to life currently?
On Stana's blog she posted "we are all women" and there is some discussion beneath that post (you should read that discussion by the way) and it got me thinking. Identity. It is a slippery beast and one that this blog bears testament to my struggles with. I have considered many different labels for myself and I have considered much about what I think makes me who I am and I have never really reached much of a satisfactory answer that can be put into words. I am much more comfortable with myself than I have been for a very long time but, in finding that out, I have discovered that the parts of me that I have made peace with are the parts of me that cause most disquiet to Tilly. In finding myself I appear to have lost her.

At work I recently took part in a talent show again. This time I was not a judge but part of one of the acts, a small part: backing dancer. One of eleven dancers. A zombie in Jackson's Thriller. And rehearsing for this (not much) and going to the pub before and afterward brought home something that is becoming increasingly obvious at work - I am part of a group. And, in being part of a group, I am defined within that group by reputation rather than as I would have chosen - if you see what I mean. I'm not complaining, I rather like what my reputation appears to be - slightly eccentric, slightly witty and pleasant enough company for other people. Not bombastic, but still a little loud, and prepared to be open and honest without being judgemental. At least, I think that's what I'm seen as. Also, very importantly, I am seen as being up to laugh at myself provided it's not in a nasty way.

Some of the dancers looked this good, actually.
And my experience on Thursday was a positive one. But no pictures were taken of me - I didn't ask - and when I got home Tilly was already mostly asleep. Tonight I stopped back at the pub a bit, not too late, and came home to help with the bedtime routine. Once again, Tilly is on the computer with her writing buddy, who is coming over to stay the night at the weekend. Sunday will mark a fortnight since the unexpected happiness of a shared experience, but it will also mark a fortnight of not having had a full conversation about... anything.

An ongoing situation at work with a colleague provides some gossip, but that is just gossip not a conversation, and we haven't spoken or spent an evening in each other's company at all. Hell, even counting the hour last Sunday, we haven't spent more than about three hours total together unencumbered by anything since... Nope, I can only honestly say we've had an hour in the last five weeks.

As much a trope as any.
In this context I got to thinking about identity. I got to thinking about how even when I want to dress I don't want to shave off my beard. I got to thinking that I've found it really hard to get 'turned on' since that Saturday last when we didn't have a discussion and I felt so totally humiliated - it's like there's a part of me missing and the brief play on the following Sunday didn't do anything to satiate it. There's just nothing there. None of my usual fantasies will work in the bath and sites that I return to seem to make little difference at the moment either.

What is my identity?

Am I a woman because I dress in clothes designed for one now and again? Is being a woman the same as being 'feminine'? What about the movement to be Taken In Hand that seems to be a female thing? That is, a woman who wants the male to take charge and punish disobedience to rules that the female herself sets. I... I don't know what to think. How can I defend the plot of Secretary and simultaneously criticise Hunger Games for a lack of female agency? How can I argue that women in society get a bum deal and still make use of pornography that objectifies women as much as victims as it does as dommes? What about honesty - when I can present online as a female and then not explain when things move in a decided direction? Who exactly do I think I am? Am I Joanna? Am I my male projection at work?

The people I have got to know the best at work are those that breathe the job like I do - they all self-identify first as teachers, like I used to. Like Tilly hated that I used to and still works to stop me doing when I meet new people. Like I think I want to. Teacher first, parent second and husband... well, I haven't worn the ring since Saturday two weeks ago.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Soviet TV

I was re-reading that article by Ann Tagonist and the comments that spawned from it. And, in looking for it, I happened across this little video:

Soviet TV. It's a lost art, you know, and I know you've all seen this before, I know.

But the thing is that there's something lurking in this video, something wonderfully optimistic and potentially life-changing. The USSR was a hole and, in 1976, it was an increasingly belligerent hole that cynically used its revolutionary credentials to do not a lot for ordinary people. But there were still occasional sparks of something else, windows to the original idea that the USSR would be different and positive and seek to improve the lot of humanity.

Okay, no, maybe not the USSR, but the vision of the original revolution and all that they brought with them. I may not agree with much of Marxism (and I don't, as it happens) but I have to admire those Bolsheviks and their ability and willingness to do exactly as they said they were going to do with War and Land (and I realise the latter of those was an unmitigated disaster). Thing is, there was something about what they wanted to do about the human condition and the way art could be harnessed, freed and used all at the same time. That utopian vision was worth something.

A vision that is strikingly clear in the aftermath of the October Revolution and the actions of SovNarKom, subsumed in the horrors of the Civil War and distorted by X Party Congress but still there a little in pockets, almost brought out into the light by Khrushchev (though he would be the first to warn you against seeing too much good in what he did) and then slowly killed by dreary drudgery and stagnation. And yes, even here I am over-selling it, I know. But there's something, a kernel if no more, of something greater, something almost beautiful.

This video, this singing of a feeling without words, is part of that original vision. It's poorly made, poorly conceived and ridiculous, but the concept of TV as a cultural and educative force at prime time like this... if that's not naked optimism I don't know what is. Furthermore, to use it as a form of art for people to watch, well, imagine that today. Even the series I like tend to appeal to the lowest-common denominator (well, you could say that's why I like them) in order to do well.

No, this is a happy little video and I think I may have a soft spot for it.

I have also acquired a copy of Die Weller that I intend to watch at some point, so, you know, there's that.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Better at being Me

I'm not sure I can claim to be a 'creative' any more. I have done
nothing worthy of the name for a good year or more.

Unless you count beer reviews...

I don't.
I've said it before and I shall say it again, here in fact: Tilly is better at being me than I ever have been. She is a better writer, a better organiser, a better parent and a better teacher of people. She is more social and is better at becoming part of a group. She 'belongs' in a way that I can only palely imitate. Whilst I end up doing stupid things for my job, like being a zombie in Thriller in the latest talent show, she is writing a book to a contract for an actual publisher and is currently engaged in a phone conversation with her mother about her latest novel project with her writing buddy. She is actually having a useful conversation about her work with her mother. Neither of my parents have ever managed much more than "I'm not into what you write" or "yes, that sounds fine, but does it always have to be about war?"

Me, I guess.
When it comes to my job, my father still adheres to the belief that all teachers are lazy bastards and slightly deranged, and has issues parsing that with what I do. My mother listens only long enough to then come back with what is going on at her end. She and her husband went on a trip to celebrate their sixth anniversary recently, booking a prestigious hotel to have sexy times a bit and have been there for a long weekend. That was a bit of a sad moment. My brother and his wife don't give much of a fuck what I'm up to these days, if they ever did, and certainly have never been interested in anything that I produce.

Despite all my rhetoric, I do feel that there is truth to this.
Of course there is, it is outside validation of a talent and
a butt-load of hard work.

The second part is why I shall never achieve this. The first
part is also why.
Did I mention that Tilly's writing buddy is also going to be published soon? Or that they are working on a joint project with publishers lining up to offer deals? Or that none of my family wants to attend the school talent show and wouldn't even if I asked. The reaction to the upcoming half term was shock from Tilly, who hadn't expected it this early: "Oh God," she said to her Mum, "I don't even know what we're going to do when he's at home!" (that 'he' is me). She wants me to build a deep bed in the garden and erect shelves for the books she's using for her research. At least she's abandoned the project of emptying my wardrobe, binning it and re-packing all my stuff in the bedroom, and thus at a stroke ending opportunities to dress for a good long while.

I sent an e-mail to Tilly. She hasn't really answered yet. I've spoken more eloquently about this already, in this post and this post. Nothing has changed since then, except that my mood is much less balanced and sanguine than it was then.