Changing of the Guard


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handwritten for your amusement.

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more of my spider scrawl

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Furious New Year


We’re now into the second week of 2013. Most years, January is to December is to November and November is to October, and so on. This year, though, is palpably different. There are huge differences in my life now, compared to a year since. I’m coming into the year with a little less optimism, a little less spring in my step. 2012 was a year of facing up to the real truth, and oh man was it scary. The reality of….well, reality, I suppose. It came and didn’t so much take me out of my comfort zone as blow my comfort zone to kingdom come.

There has been a troublesome trend recently to begin a new year with a larger than strictly necessary dose of reality. This year, I spent the lead up to Christmas trying to come to terms with the loss of my Grandmother (Nan Kay, my Mum’s Mum). When my Dadcu passed on in April, it was hard to accept because he had been, perhaps not in good health, but certainly in better spirits than he’d been in for some time. In my memories, he has been unwell since I knew him, but so vital and full of life. Never was there a man with such a cheeky grin when slipping me £5 and saying “Now don’t tell your Grandmother!”.

Then, inevitably, some time later my Nan would catch me and do the exact same thing, “don’t tell Dadcu,” she’d say with a chuckle. I think they both knew, but it was more fun that way. Dadcu was a fisherman and a Navy man. He had flags on his coffin and they played The Last Post as he burned. My Nan Kay, who always knew what to do, took him out to sea one last time, on the lifeboat that he was an avid supporter of. Shortly after that, she  suffered  what at the time appeared to be a stroke, but was actually misdiagnosed [name of rare brain problem that I can’t remember]. Nothing has ever pushed me closer to moving back to Wales, but I didn’t. I sent her cards, not as often as I should have done but it was all I could manage.

The most heart-breaking part of it all was that she seemed to be improving for a while. Then it all changed, the progress she’d made fell away and left her nude and unprotected. We’ll never know if she was in pain after that, or if she was still the same person inside. We will never be able to tell whether it was harder for her or for my Mum. Nan Kay lived until December. I can only hope she’s resting now. She never really got the hang of resting.

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Fury.

It’s difficult to do so, but looking beyond that I learned a lot in 2012. I learned a lot of harsh truths about friendships and how fragile they can be. I learned what it’s like to work full time in an environment that is really foreign to me (an office), earning enough to pay the bills but almost nothing beyond, and the value of staying because the job, the company and the other people there are all great. I learned that no matter how keen I am about them, stupid ideas remain stupid ideas. I learned that no, not everything IS fair in love and war. I learned a healthy new fury at the current government. I learned that you can’t sit about all day and eat junk food and maintain a size 8-10 figure. I learned I don’t trust people as much as I thought I did. I learned that there’s a proper medical term for the type of insomnia I’ve had for the last few years. Much more besides.

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I do take the start of the year as an opportunity to assess myself and often, to give myself a good talking to. This year, I was sterner than usual. I may not be starting the new year happy, but I’m fierce. I may not be convinced but I’m determined. I may not be perfect, but dammit I’ve got to keep trying to be.

Father Valentine


Firstly, a quick explanation as to my lack of new updates recently – I simply haven’t been able to coagulate my thoughts into postable material. There have been things I’ve wanted to write about but they’ve stuck around for a very short period of time, much less than it takes me to mull something over and decide on what angle to pursue in my writing. I think part of the problem might be my thinking a blog post needs to be a long, in-depth affair, whereas it’s really fine for me to write only a few paragraphs on something. Am going to try harder in the coming weeks to remedy this.

A friend of mine, luvlymish, introduced me to a very interesting tradition a couple of years ago, which she heard about from a different friend of hers. Originating in Norfolk, the annual tradition of Father Valentine is a rather quaint idea that can really spread a lot of happiness and smiles around the place. Also known as the tradition of Jack Valentine, a lucky person would be called upon and St. Valentine’s day by a mysterious visitor, the enigmatic Father, or Jack, Valentine. A knock on the door would signal the arrival of a gift for someone in the house (children and unattached people were just as likely to receive gifts as lovers). Father Valentine himself would be long gone by the time the door was answered but the tradition was to yell “Thank you, Father Valentine!” into the wind in case he was actually just hiding in the wind.

Being a truly sentimental romantic at heart, this idea appeals to me immensely. The opportunity to give and potentially receive anonymous gifts is one that I can’t pass up. The gifts can be anything, from a chocolate bar to jewelry and more. A pair of sunglasses rests amongst my ornaments, Father Valentine’s gift from last year.

In some ways, it’s a shame I feel like I need this kind of sanctioning in order to give tokens of my love and appreciation to my friends. However, I’ve found that random gifts aren’t always a good idea. The last random thing I gave a friend got accidentally left in Manchester without even so much as a thank you. I don’t like sounding whiny and petulant but that stung. So, something a little bit more organised this time.

I am tempted to bake goodies for my valentines, but our kitchen is small and often quite messy (my housemate’s insistence that the recycling goes HERE obviously didn’t apply to him, if the empty pizza boxes are anything to go by). Also I’m not sure how I’d deliver vast quantities of yummy cakes and the like – I’d need to scour the land for small boxes. Aside from that I have scant few ideas, but there’s plenty of time. Mostly, I think, I need to write a list of people. I’m lucky – I have many people in my life whom I love dearly and want to lend a smile to. But that needs lots of ideas, so off I go to come up with some.

With Friends Like These…


I’ve never been the most popular person around. For my whole life, I’ve had to get used to being the person from an odd-numbered group who has to sit on their own on the bus, or the one people forget to invite to places. I’m the one who gets edged out when someone new and more interesting comes along. The one who’s only part of the group because they just won’t stop turning up places.

In the few years I’ve been living in Lancaster, there have been a few occasions where I’ve mistakenly assumed that this effect has worn off and that I have settled into a group. With the people at Archery, it became obvious very quickly when I was no longer welcome around, though the only thing I’d done was fallen in love with the president of the society and the captain’s best friend.

Possibly one of the most hostile and difficult situations I’ve ever been in; the overnight stay in Chester will remain vividly etched in my mind as one of the worst weekends of my life. When the aforementioned man and myself ended our relationship, there was no longer any question of me being able to shoot – my bow proved to quickly become a three hundred pound paperweight.

Luckily for me, not all of my forays into pre-established friendship groups proved so harmful to my mental health; my attendance at RocSoc was simply not high enough to become firmly established in that social group. I know the people, and they know me, but aside for a couple of exceptions we’re never going to be bosom-buddies. Less intimacy and attachment; less eventual pain.

The place I really did think I’d stick, however, was LURPS. Lancaster university role-playing society. Full of people who were teased in school and consider themselves to be socially ‘different from the norm’. Even I couldn’t be considered annoying or weird compared to some of these guys, right?

For a while, I was so enamoured by everyone in LURPS that I found it hard to settle into a particular group. Before too long though, I gathered a few people I was particularly interested and amused by, people I thought I could trust and enjoy the company of, and we became a group, a brigade even. A core group of six with some peripheral people, and I felt like I’d found my own version of the Friends cast, people who I’d continue to be friends with through my twenties and beyond.

Despite some hiccups, such as Dan leaving Lancaster (if you’re reading this, Dan, we miss you!), we’re still here three years on. Three years of trying and testing each other, laughing, crying, and loving together, and I thought that I’d finally be able to tick ‘lifetime friends’ off my list of things I need for a satisfactory life.

It seems though, that life thought I needed another false start, another lesson learned. To offset the balance of a social group is a very easy thing, especially when the group contains someone such as me, who is so easily displaced from their comfort zone. I fill a particular role in the group – I am the only girl, the main ear that gets confided in, the funny, cute girl who messes about and kicks butt in Team Fortress 2. I also take a lot of maintenance as a friend, something I know and am trying hard to work on. I am almost obsessively sociable; even when I’m feeling anti-social or ill I want there to be people around me, so I can listen to them talk and know that I’m not alone when I’m feeling at my worst.

For three years, I have been able to have all the support that I need from this group of friends, and from Sam more than most. He and I are ‘best’ friends, and despite several ups and downs between us, I thought that wasn’t going to change, at least not while we continue to house share.

Now though, there’s someone else. A girl I can’t even bring myself to have any hostile feelings towards; she and I have always been towards the ‘friends’ end of the acquaintance scale, and from what I can tell she is a lovely, interesting, funny, pretty, gamer girl.

For almost the whole time he’s known her, Sam has been interested in her, and I can’t blame him. Nothing ever came of it though, because she has had a boyfriend since before Sam ever met her. Nevertheless, his interest never waned; he just supressed it. Until recently. I don’t want to air out exactly what’s happening between them, so what it comes down to is that she has very quickly become a close friend to Sam.

I had no worry when Sam was pursuing her as a romantic interest; in fact I was all for it – Sam is a great guy and deserves to find a girl who’ll make him happy and put up with how stubborn he is. Now that it has emerged that they aren’t going to be entering into a romantic relationship, I am fighting a losing battle for the position of Sam’s best friend. Why would he want to keep me when he could have someone who is just a vastly improved version of me? The signs are already beginning to show; Sam and I have spent very little time together just hanging out recently. He’s been busy, or there have been other more interesting people around. Sam’s always had the time for her though.

Most of my group of friends already consider her to be a friend, too, so it’s only a matter of time before I’m left at the starting post without them all, because again, who’d keep me around when she’s a prettier, funnier, more interesting and intelligent version of me with less neuroses for them to worry about? From there, it’s only a short step before they stop inviting me along to the race at all.

 

PS. I know that you’re all entitled to freedom of speech and can say whatever you want about it, but before you post about how selfish and whinghy I sound in this post, please have a little bit of sympathy for the girl who’s missing her best friend and scared of being replaced by someone far superior.

 

PPS. The main body of this post (that is, not counting the two post-scripts) totals 1000 words exactly. Random round numbers like that give me a little bit of a thrill.

Going crazy. In the face.


So. As of Monday, I will officially be working two jobs in an effort to claw myself out of my overdraft. The one in the Weatherspoon’s kitchen, and then one 13 hours a week selling shoes in Shoe Zone in Lancaster. I am psyched to start the new job – I can do this job. I worked in Stead and Simpson’s for a year while I was in sixthform. The two shops are owned by the same overall company. The pay is less than in Weatherspoon’s, but it’s going to be less work. Working in ‘Spoons is, for lack of a better word, harrowing. Being on your feet for stints of up to 10 hours in one go just isn’t fun. And yeah, I know that work is work and it isn’t meant to be fun, but having a job that stresses me out as much as the ‘Spoon’s one wasn’t healthy. So getting to do much less of it is awesome.

The tricky part is going to be juggling what shifts I get where, so I’m not working a ridiculous combination of hours. If both sets of management could sort rotas out enough in advance it’d be great, but alas, I am yet to know when I’ll be working in spoons next week. If only I could get set hours, standard each week.

Hopefully, this means that I’ll be bringing enough money home to get out of my overdraft, and climb slowly into the positive numbers. Each penny I save brings me closer to achieving what I outlined in my last post.

I’m still looking for and applying for jobs, too. Ideally I’d have two part time retail jobs. The Body Shop are hiring at the moment – I’d love to be able to have that job and the Shoe Zone one and tell ‘Spoon’s where they can stick it. So I’m still keeping my beady eye open on the look out to see what I can spot. Anyone knowing of anything going, let me know!

In other news, things with Chris and me are going well. We’ve become ‘Facebook Official’ now, though we were officially a couple long before we got round to changing our statuses on FB. He’s away at Download until Monday, and I miss him. I see this as a good sign.

Been really spending a lot of time with friends from RocSoc recently, it’s great. Having two separate sets of friends and then seeing them merge as I invite them all to various things, like the BBQ we had a few weeks ago. I love seeing new friendships form amongst people that I like. The overlap of people is growing and it pleases me.

Time for a Jammie Dodger. Bye, folks.

Stepping off the edge.


I’m sure a lot of you will have heard me ramble on about this before, but I want to start my own business. For a long time it’s what I’ve wanted to do. When I was younger I looked up to , my wonderful, hardworking and dedicated mother. She took a huge risk and picked up a failing business (a Newsagent in a small, seaside village), dusted it off and turned it into her livelihood for several years. The shop has been closed for a while now, the recession biting at the heels of a stumbling business, already trying to deal with other problems, such as competition and people.

Now, I don’t want to follow directly in her footsteps. I don’t want to become the proprietor of a newsagent or sweetshop in a village. I want to run my own successful internet cafe. It would be more than just an internet cafe – it would specialize in LAN gaming and online gaming. Ideally there’d be the opportunity for me to run Friday Night Magic there, too. But I don’t want a small, dark, grotty basement. I want a shop where non-gamers would also feel comfortable coming and browsing the internet with a cup of coffee for an hour.

My idea came from visiting Swansea one day when I was in 6th form and missing a train home. I needed something to do for two hours to kill time before the next train home, and so I went into Crossfire. They have 56 computers there, 15 for web browsing and 41 for gaming. They are all networked together and they all have super-fast broadband.

I want to spread this wonderful idea. I want to bring it to Lancaster. I can almost see it – casual internet cafe/coffee shop in the day, hardcore gaming lair in the night.

There is already somewhere in Lancaster that offers this service, but I’ll give anyone who can name the place and the location 50 points. They operate in a small, slightly underground and very unappealing premises. I went there last year so I could play WoW alongside someone (damn campus rooms having only one internet connection) and they told me that their computers weren’t equipped to deal with WoW and their internet connection couldn’t deal with it either. Competition, of a sorts, but I’m convinced I could do it better.

The main hurdle I have is money. Of course it is – so many people would do so much if money wasn’t a worry. Premises, utilities, equipment – it’s all expensive. Also, technical knowledge – I don’t know the first thing about computer networks. The thing is, this idea has been plaguing me for four years now. I can’t make it go away. I can hide it in a cupboard for a while, but eventually it’ll find the handle on the inside and be out there again, nagging and niggling at me. So much so, in fact, that I’ve bought a ‘Start your own business’ book, and am writing this LJ post for people to comment on my idea.

I want, maybe more than anything, to be in Lancaster with the people that I care about and love. I’m having doubts about university – I’ve already made two goes at it, why should the third be any more successful? I want to do something that interests me, that makes me feel like I’m giving a service to satisfied customers. I want to get to know my regular customers and I want to be in control of something Big. Something Important (to me at least).

At the moment, just musings and ideas, but ones that won’t go and sit on the shelf like obedient ideas – ones that really want playing with and exploring and testing. Stay tuned to hear more in the future.

Cornered Animals Bite.


I don’t like seeing people hurt, especially my friends. I will go out of my way to attempt to improve the lives of those who I care about. If someone is sad, I will try and make them happy. If someone is scared, I will try and calm them. It’s in my nature to help the people around me.

But what do you do when the people you’re trying to help aren’t making any effort themselves? People refusing to seek help from the right people, or not taking their meds or behaving in a self destructive manner. I am starting to lose my faith in my abilities to help, because those that I seek to aid often get nothing from it.

Time to sound a little bit selfish here, too. People know how I am at the moment. People know I’m under stress and I’m sad. But I keep trying my best to help anyone who needs it. Where do I draw the line, though, when people don’t seem to be getting anything from my help, and are causing me stress and upset in the process, and are doing nothing to help me.

I want to help people, but at the same time, I want to get better, and in order for that to happen I need people to help me. ‘When we can’t run, we walk. When we can’t walk, we find someone to carry us.’ Got news for ya, folks. I keep falling.

I want to get better so I stop feeling selfish like this. I want to go back to having nearly limitless patience with people and being able to do whatever my friends need from me, whenever. I want to help there to be less sadness in the world, and though it feels selfish, the first bit of sadness I want to rid the world of is my own.

On another, more cheerful note, I had a good time at ‘s birthday celebrations tonight.

Also, I owe  a hell of a lot for the support he’s been providing me with recently. Same goes for Simon. Thanks guys, you’re the best. Oh, ok, and you. And you. Yeah, you’re all the best.

Downtrodden.


I’ve gone back to struggling. Every time I get into the getaway vehicle, the depression will throw out a stinger trap and stop me in my tracks. Get out of the car, go back to the lot and find a new vehicle.

I thought I was doing well recently, but it seems like I’ve just gotten better at fooling myself. Everything seems to be a short term solution. I’ve started work, as most of you know. I’m a kitchen bitch at Weatherspoons. They have me doing nine hour shifts on a regular basis. It’s very hard work because it requires you to be standing for the entire time. You also need to have hands of fireproofness in order to get up the speed and efficiency that the longer serving staff can manage. I feel useless most of the time, and I just want to quite. I don’t like the job. I’m terrified to quit though, since my friends enjoy going to that Weatherspoons quite a lot, so I’d miss out on a lot of social events because I’d not be able to show my face there. I know that if I quit, I’d be disappointing a lot of people too, people with faith in me, people who believe I can do it. I need the faith of these people.

The job is really exhausting me though, in a way I never thought it would. I leave work after each shift feeling useless and pathetic. I’m not sleeping well again, and whenever I eventually do get to sleep, it’s usually with tears on my face.

Usually, I love Darkside (not so much the music but the people and the atmosphere) but this weekend, after going to the effort of borrowing money off people to pay my entry price, I really didn’t have a good time at all. I felt self conscious about what I was wearing, dancing was wearing me out, and I was very claustrophobic. I usually love dancing, whether the dancefloor is jam-packed, or if I’m the only one on it, but being surrounded by so many moving bodies really made me feel…panicked, nauseous and afraid. I spent some time sitting at the back, sobbing into [info]theglaivemaster . I’m not coping with anything very well at the moment, and I just want to get back to normal, happy, stubborn Alice, who takes everything into her stride. I thought for a while that it would happen sometime soon, but apparently not – this ‘healing process’ seems to be taking a lot longer than I expected.

Another reason I can’t quit the job – I need the money. I need it to live. Going back to Wales and living at home isn’t something I’d cope with. I need to be near my friends and my doctor. I’m on the waiting list for CBT, but I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I’ve been feeling pretty disconnected from my family recently too, not having heard from home very much in quite a while.

All I want to do at the moment is hang out with Sam and Simon and play games and chat shit about nothing. I don’t want any responsibilities, I don’t want any stress. I just want to get better, and nothing feels like its getting me there, nothing feels like it’s helping. I want to be able to curl up at night and go to sleep easily, not to lay there convincing myself that there is something worth waking up for in the morning, because that is getting increasingly difficult.

Anyone who’s interested, next week I’m working Tuesday 12 – 9pm, Thursday 6am – 12, Friday 11 – 8pm, and Saturday 4 – 11pm. This means I will be missing both the LURPS meetings and the social :(.  I don’t know how many of those shifts I’ll get through. Doctors appointment on Tuesday, hopefully he’ll have some words of wisdom for me. (Hopefully those words won’t be ‘man up’)

At least the house isn’t constantly cold through at the moment. Though it’s unpleasant lately, since I’ve been too apathetic to do any tidying for a while so my room’s a shithole.

Also, my rats are vicious little bastards and Peter just bit me on the nose 😦

I’m With You


So, after nearly a week on the new tablets, I finally got a decent night’s sleep last night after taking the absolute maximum amount of sleeping tablets allowed by the box. This made me sleep in until half one, which was a tad disappointing (because I wanted to go for lunch as usual). But, it was great to get a full night’s sleep for once.

I’ve been having horrendous insomnia, not falling asleep after lying in bed for hours, and then waking up very early, without having had enough sleep. This is not fun when it happens once, let alone after it reoccurs several days in a row.

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with people that I wouldn’t necessarily spend time with on a regular basis otherwise. Monday night was Adam’s birthday, which was good fun – there were a lot of people there, including people who I know buy name/sight but that’s it, so I feel I got to know them a bit better.

Tuesday I went onto campus and had lunch (something I failed to do on Monday due to not realising where the usual suspects would be on a non-termtime lunch hour). Also met with Locrecia and Mair to do social sec related plotting. Look out LURPS, next term will be FUN. After that, I came home and started feeling pretty low. Did my best to stave it of by trying to not be on my own as much as possible – ate in spoons with Adam and Paul D. Went home still feeling pretty low but at least I had saved myself an hour or two of being alone.

Wednesday was a good day, Spent it in the company of Mr Slee and Mr B (aka the Craigs) and learned some very interesting things about LURPS and its members *cackles wildly*. After spending most of the day with these wonderful gentlemen, I went to pizza hut with some of the more ‘usual crowd’ including Simon, Mew and Stu.

At this point I was really feeling the lack of sleep. Agitated and nervy, I wanted out of pizza hut and to be at home with the right tools for the job of relieving the tension and pain inside me. But I was convinced to stay by the food (mmm pizza) and then by my friends – people telling me how good the film was (and they were right.) As much as I wanted to go home and be able to cry and cut myself and make the world seem smaller, I knew that this was not the right choice. It wasn’t what I should be doing. So I stayed, and went to the film, and then came home and took the sleeping pills.

Today, after waking up at half past one and being slightly disorientated for a while, I realised that it was a really quite beautiful day outside, and so went to Williamson Park (one of my favourite places in Lancaster). I sat for a while and thought about what I want to write, made a few notes, then spend nearly an hour talking with Andrew about various things of no great importance.

Every time I am there, I get blown away with the wonder of Williamson Park. Such a beautiful place – I am resolved to go there more often while the weather is acceptable. Might make it a daily thing on my way back from lunch on campus. If I make it a routine then it will help me get out of the house, something which has seemed quite pointless on several occasions since I stopped studying.

So, to the point of the post at last. I thought that Easter at Lancaster would be quite a boring thing, quite lonely and generally bad for my health, but no. It has been wonderful so far, spending time with people out of my usual ‘circle of friends’ and seeing that maybe I need to redefine the circle. I’ve met new people and discovered that I can feel things that I didn’t know I could anymore.

Now I’m looking forward to Locrecia’s housewarming tomorrow and Sanctuary on Saturday – both opportunities to find myself in the company of a certain someone who I like to be in the company of at the moment, and of course a whole load of other wonderous people.

Here’s hoping that I don’t need the tablets to sleep tonight.

First of many…?


I have had something recently that I’ve not had for a very long time. I had a Good Weekend. Not all of it was good, some of it was in fact awful, but for the most part, it was Good. The Prozac has been making me feel woozy but the side effects are much less severe than with the citalopram.

Friday night saw Sam run a one-shot of All Flesh Must Be Eaten. He decided to do this at about half eight, so there was zombie related hilarity with Sam, Simon, Dan and Stu until about 2.30am. It wasn’t a great role-playing experience for me, I couldn’t get into character at all, but the OOC banter was fantastic.

Saturday was of course the LURPS Hog Roast. Brilliant stuff, delicious food and great company. I had some bad times there though, mostly because I made a joke in bad taste and managed to convince myself that it had made everyone who heard it hate me, so I wandered off and spent an hour sitting around on the floor on my own before anyone came to find me. But I did get to smear Jelly on Connor’s face, which was funny.

Saturday night was Rock It To The Lune, which was awesome. I’ve not been out dancing in such a long time that I’d forgotten how good it feels, especially in the company of people who don’t care that I look like I’m having a seizure on the dance floor. I danced and sung and had a brilliant time. I even won the raffle (kinda). Then Simon, Stu, John and I went on to Hustle, where we stayed for about eight minutes before coming back to my place to play Magic: The Gathering.

Today, I was supposed to be playing in the game Mr. Slee is running over Easter. However, I had a massive panic this morning that my current state of fail would ruin the game for all the other players and spoil all of the GM’s hard work. So, I bailed out and went to learn how to play Go in the Sun, which was great.

After Go, I hung out with Adam for a bit, played some MtG and lost some chess. Not known Adam for very long but had a great time, it’s nice to find more people who are easy to hang out with. After that, Justin hosted a MtG cube draft, which was fun. Justin, Simon, Stu, Girly Mike, Adam and myself played and it was ace fun.

And that brings us to now. I’m doing my utmost to keep happy, which is why I’ve written about the weekend, to remind myself of how good it was. It feels like I’m having a come-down, which I suppose in a way I am. But hopefully I’ll be ok.

Seems that recently something’s been happening to me that hasn’t happened since November 2008. I think I’m getting a crush on someone. It’s a very weird thing and I’m not sure what to do with it. Leave it alone for now, I think, and poke it more when I feel brave.

Anyway, I think I’m going to eat some chocolate raisins and play Civilization 4. And no, I won’t tell you who it is.