This year, I’m taking one year-long module called Practical and Applied Statistics. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin – the aim is to turn the students into people who can actually write a report, rather than just being able to crunch the numbers. One of the projects is a group project. There’s five people per group, all randomly assigned (as far as I know, anyway). Together we have to design an (extremely simple) experiment, write a protocol, conduct the experiment and write up a report. It’s frustrating, because the experiment is so simple – we’re growing plants – but it’s a good experience.
But we don’t know each other well, my group. Sometimes that’s good – it means there’s no friendships to be ruined! – and sometimes… it’s not so good. I made it clear that I’m not straight last Tuesday, in an episode that involved one of the guys in the group grumbling about having to grow plants, and then talking about how none of us were “lesbian tree-huggers”. I’m not explaining it very well, but it didn’t seem to be intended maliciously, just thoughtlessly, so I cheerfully came out and left it at that. Sometimes, a little embarressment is all that clueless guys need to stop them saying inappropriate things. Sometimes.
Tomorrow was the deadline for the protocol, and we pretty much did all the work for it over the last three days. So, by today, tempers were fraying somewhat. Which is probably why he repeatedly called the computer “gay”. And it’s entirely why I, after the third or fourth time, turned round and snapped, “you need to stop that. Just stop.” He looked a little scared, it stopped the conversation momentarily, and we carried on, minus the “gay” slurs.
The good news is that, after we’d finished the work and submitted it electronically, he asked to speak to me privately, and apologised for not thinking that I might not like him saying those things.
The sad thing is, I don’t think he realises that he ought to modify his language no matter who he’s talking to.
When J first moved in with me, there was a brief phase during which he would come to me to tell me – with some pride – about what he’d done that day. Like, for instance, loading the dishwasher.*
Nine months on, J comes to me to tell me – with a lot of pride** – about what he’s done during the day. Like, for instance, telling one of his (young, male) colleagues that he, J, thought that the sacking of Sky’s football presenter Andy Gray for his off-air sexist remarks was absolutely justified.
According to J, the subsequent discussion about equality involved him asking his colleague – who lives with his parents – whether he did any housework, and why (not)?
This, my friends, is what we call progress.
That, and the beautiful sound of Flatmate hanging up the washing.
*It didn’t take long for him to stop that. Especially when I came in from uni one day and walked into the kitchen with the words, “Hi J, guess what? I’ve just walked in and taken my shoes and coat off, and emptied the washing machine and hung up all the clothes, and then put another load of clothes in to wash, and now I’m saying hello to you, and oh, look, the dishwasher needs emptying so I’ll do that, and once I’ve done that maybe I’ll get round to putting the kettle on, and if you’re really, really lucky, I might even offer you a cup of tea. You can ask me about my day now.”
**He was so pround that he ended his account of the day with “…you could blog that. If you wanted.”
It’s no secret that I’m very firmly in favour of procreating at some point. (I went through a stage in my teenage years of being terrified at the mere idea of pregnancy, thanks to watching my mother go through her third pregnancy when I was 12, but that seems to have passed now.) Actually, for the last couple of months I’ve been broody to the point of wanting to change my contraception so that I can’t just “forget” to take my pill. But I got over that. Exam stress has a wonderful way of making you forget about hypothetical babies.
So, because I’m possibly too honest for my own good, I was talking to J about this odd broodiness, and that led quite neatly into The Baby Name Discussion. That’s always good for a laugh – J’s traditional father has inadvertantly ensured that my surname will be passed on to my children.* When we moved on to first names (there are remarkably few that work with my surname, but I’m damned if I’m giving it up!) J suggested that we call our first son, if we have one, by J’s fathers name. And then I threw a shit fit.
Firstly, because I can’t imagine anything worse than giving a child of mine a name that could only have been popular in the 50’s, and probably wasn’t even popular then.
Secondly, because I could imagine his reaction if I suggested we named our first daughter, if we have one, after my mother.
Thirdly, because – well, you should probably just read this post.
Eventually, I prevailed. This is because (a) I am more stubborn than J is, (b) it was a crap idea, and (c) my womb, my rules.
Pointing out that J has his father’s surname, and that therefore all of our children would have a link-by-name to their paternal grandfather, probably helped.
But mainly it was (a) and (c) that did it. As before, when a discussion has got grouchy, my strongly worded response was that if it mattered so much to J that he couldn’t compromise, then he should feel free to find somebody else to reproduce with. And yes, trolls of the internet: it matters enough to me that I would go and find somebody else to reproduce with. The moral of this story is that compromising is fantastic, as long as it’s not you that has to do it.
*We’d discussed hyphenating, which I hate, and discussed using one name as a middle name, which is what will happen. J’s dad, thinking that we were planning on hyphenating and presumably terrified that J’s surname would be less visible, insisted that J’s should go first. So it will. As the middle name. Mine will be the “real” surname. There’s a small, petty bit of me that is just waiting to see his face when he realises….
Dear readers (and I know you still exist, because WordPress tells me, so there!), have you seen Rose’s comment on my Sexuality and Gender Expression Bingo page? No? Well, here it is:
“This is awesome. Can you please do one for biphobia next?”
As I said there, I didn’t write any of those cards, I just transcribed them. But my search-engine skills are second to none, and I’ve actually found not just a Biphobic Bingo card, but a whole load of others, too! Hooray!
Bear with me as I tinker about behind the scenes to bring the new ones to your attention…
It’s not even December yet, but my poor, sad little herbs are covered in snow. Actually, it’ll probably do them good.
I’ve reacted to the snow by deciding that fashion be damned, I can wear a good dress over manky jeans to keep my thighs warm if I want to. J has reacted to the snow by rushing to the window and taking photos at every available opportunity, which at least means I can show the internet how much snow has happened:
Sadly, my squirrel-like approach to food storing hasn’t been nearly so effective this year, which means I’ll have to go hunting and gathering later. Right now though, I’m trying and failing to get some work done on my assignments. Mainly I’m sitting watching the snow fall.
Flatmate keeps wanting attention from me. I keep refusing to give him any, partly because I’m a meancruelevil person, and partly because even if he tells me about how he couldn’t find the motivation to get out of bed this morning another five million times, there is nothing I can do about that. I don’t think it’s indicative of a particularly healthy outlook on life, and I’d much rather that he felt better, but I still can’t actually help. I’m not even bothering to suggest things that might help, because you know what? He knows that things exist that might help. Probably, deep down, he knows that I’m not one of those things.
Lectures have begun, we’ve just had a delivery of 45 boxes to the warehouse, I spent 4 hours this week responding to medieval society emails, I still need to feed myself, and did I mention, lectures have begun?
Oh, and also, J’s parents are turning up in three weeks’ time, I’ve got to see my sister to give her a birthday present, and yesterday my gran phoned me to tell me that she was coming to Sheffield in three weeks time, and wanted to see me and J.
And I still need to phone my local education authority to get the rest of my student loan, and find a time to get my bedroom window repaired.
So, I’m not dead, but I will be elusive, at least until November, probably.