Two brilliant google search terms that led people to this blog

1. my clothes stink because of condensation
2. what would socrates think of IVF?

cash advance

Published in: on 14 November 2007 at 10:14 am  Comments (6)  

Severe unworthiness and an achy back passage

If you’re wondering why I sound so lackluster when you call me, I thought you might like to hear about the side effects of the drugs I’m on. (Actually, Geohde, who is much cleverer and funnier than I, has already blogged about this, so skip straight to her account if you like. And Geohde, sorry for the copy-cattery, but for my nearest & etc – i.e the one subscriber to my blog – it may be edifying.) IVFers will be able to pinpoint my place in the cycle with, well, pinpoint accuracy, and we all know it’s a dreary and interminable place to dwell.

Anyway. The side effects are divided into very common side effects and merely common side effects:

Very common side effects

  • cramps, abdominal pain, perineal pain (around the genit*ls and back passage)
  • headache
  • breast enlargement or breast pain
  • feelings of severe sadness and unworthiness, decreased se.xual drive, sleepiness, feeling emotional
  • constipation, nausea
  • passing urine at night
  • Common side effects

  • bloating, pain
  • dizziness
  • va/ginal discharge, itching of the va/ginal area, va/ginal thrush
  • diarrhoea, vomiting
  • painful se/xual intercourse
  • The don’t have “Occassional side effects”, although I would suggest:

  • invisible doctors replacing all muscles with lead rods during night
  • completely rigid neck muscles combined with a certainty that something sinister is hovering directly behind head
  • overwhelming desire to cuddle labrador, indeed to feel lousy except when cuddling labrador, and not just any labrador, but this particular labrodor*
  • hickstongue350.jpg

  • complete lack of interest in the result of a long-anticipated election, because all politicians seem to be snarling at each other from the boundaries of things, and it’s very depressing to searching like a desperado for points of difference
  • a sudden overwhelming revalation that one’s most excellent partner has made entirely the wrong choice in his romantic life. (Actually, I guess “unworthiness” kind of covers that.)
  • And on that, it’s “feelings of severe sadness and unworthiness” that’s my favourite. So specific. Not feelings of “severe sadness and Satrean alienation” or “feelings of severe sadness and moral confusion” or “feelings of severe sadness and conviction that the lack of democracy in selecting the UN Security Council has long been the organisation’s death warrant”? No, none of that. Unworthiness.

    And, really, how many of these symptoms could simply be replaced with, “Shagging? I don’t think so, little lady”? Actually, the fact that I have to squeeze this medication up my clacker right before bedtime had already dampened my enthusiasm in the frilly knickers department. Considerably.

    *Which is sad symptom for people without access to this particular labrador to suffer.

    Published in: on 2 November 2007 at 10:33 am  Comments (6)  

    Carl Weschke’s Leda and the Swan


    One of my favourite paintings. Happened upon it in the Bristol Art Gallery.

    Published in: on 23 October 2007 at 4:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

    “Freud was out of his fucking mind. He was as nutty as could be.”

    Dr Albert Ellis on, well, Freud obviously.

    Albert Ellis was my first therapeutic love. He was an American psychiatrist who invented rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) – basically the psychological process we now call cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. My parents, cleverly spotting a brewing nuttiness (Dad is a psychiatrist and Mum a GP), gave me his Guide to Rational Living when I was about eighteen, and jolly helpful I found it too. I made a fist of my 20s, but I think the whole debacle would have been far worse without Albert Ellis.

    I also admired Antony Kidman, an Australian Ellis disciple, who wrote an excellent series of workbooks that they used to sell in ABC shops. Tony is Nicole’s dad. I always thought he must’ve found Tom Cruise’s incendiary ideas about psychiatry particularly distasteful. Cause, you know, they are.

    Dr Ellis started out as a psychoanalyst in the 1940s, but later decided childhood trauma has “nothing to do with the price of spinach,” and came to the conclusion that headlines this post. So he thrust off Freudian chicanery, and, by 1955, he’d outlined his ABC method, where A is the Activating Event, B is the beliefs we hold about that event, and C are the Emotional Consequences of our idiotic and delusional Bs. So, for example, A is the fact that our first IVF cycle was cancelled*, B is me extrapolating from that that my second cycle will be identical, and C is a debilitating, self-pitying despondency.

    = my bad.

    Alternatively, A is the fact that our first IVF cycle was cancelled, B is me thinking that was a weird-arse aberration given my general excellence in all matters and complete inability to fail, and C is me feeling expectant and ecstatic standing in a freshly painted nursery gleefully throwing baby clothes in the air.

    Also = my bad. But see how different Bs create different Cs? Obviously, as Sir James Chettam can confirm, the proper way of thinking is the reasonable way.

    I wrote to him once. (Albert Ellis, not Sir James, who’s fictional.) I wrote him an email, and he answered it immediately, probably because it was about 1992 and there were only, like, four emails produced that year worldwide. I was going through my Sartre phase (yeah, whatever) and it struck me that in fact it was pretty much the same reasoning. Something happens in the world, and we must intellectually and emotionally position it somewhere, and because we are free, we are free to position it where we will. As that most famous of all nutters, Hamlet, says, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It’s always puzzled me that people find this nihilistic, when I think it is the very opposite – it’s the very foundation of real virtue. Anyway, I wrote to ask him what the difference was between REBT and existentialism, and he wrote back and said good question, very little, and I was chuffed. I kept that email for ages, but I’ve lost it now.

    These days, in the US, more than two-thirds of therapists follow some kind of variant on REBT.


    Did everyone really notice that collar and tie? And how come genius crackpots always have greasy hair? Cause it makes their brains juicier?


    Anyway, I was thinking about Albert Ellis today, because, fearing I was going out of my fucking mind, I went to see one of the counsellors at the IVF clinic. What a goddamn waste of time. It’s not that the conseller wasn’t lovely; to be sure, she was sweet and chockers with empathy. But – and perhaps I’m too demanding – but there was no stretch or challenge to it. Everything I’m feeling is entirely normal, apparently. In fact I knew that, but I wanted to talk about it all the same.

    Anyway, it was futile. What helps me is the hilarious, sophisticated types on the IVF blog network. What helps me is hearing Melvyn Bragg explain about Socrates had to say about virtue. What helps me is imagining Albert Ellis, at four, in hospital with nephritis, saying, “If I die, I die. Fuck it, it’s not the end of the world.”

    Heavily referenced in this post: A New Yorker article about Ellis on his 90th birthday. There is much more to be said about Ellis. He was a brilliant practitioner, but he got the sack from, ironically, the Albert Ellis Institute. He married his assistant, who was Australian, and who they say controlled him, although people who knew him well seem to find that unlikely. Seriously, you should google him.

    *I haven’t mentioned this before, but, yeah, didn’t work out. That was a bad week – more on all that later.

    Published in: on 20 October 2007 at 12:02 am  Comments (6)  

    I feel dizzy, I feel sunny, I feel fizzy and funny and fine. And so pretty, Miss America can just resign!

    I just gave my computer an external hard drive for its birthday, and it is SO like, omigod! Thank you!


    It was on special too, which is weird, cause sometimes I feel like everytime I really want something it is miraculously on special, and yet if I examine this inkling, I realise it is often not true (for example, my new external hard drive wasn’t really on special at all, I just totally made that up and the first half of this sentence is a complete lie, but there was a general OfficeWorks special of external hard drives at the time I bought my external hard drive, so I’ve kind of just lumped my hard drive in with it). It’s my general Pollyannaishness at work. See, and it sounds like it should be advantageous, to see the world in such rosy terms, but it’s actually not because it means I spend more money than you would think someone with a so-called eye for specials ordinarily would.

    Anyway, after dumping all the music files my brother-in-law kindly gave me on the external HD, my MacBook is suddenly all skittish and playful again. It reminds me of nothing so much as when my friend’s dog Hicks is staying with us, and we take him to the park, and he’s all a bit sluggish and labradory, and then he does a poo, and suddenly he’s bounding all over the place and breaking into the uplifting numbers from West Side Story.

    I haven’t got a photo of Hicks at this time – he just turns into a cartwheeling blur – but here is one I took earlier when we were playing hide-the-ball. Hicks was counting. I hid the ball.


    Published in: on 14 October 2007 at 12:17 am  Comments (3)  

    Middlemarchisms II

    My mate is also reading it. She scratched a pencil mark against this observation about the devout Dorothea:

    Riding was an indulgence which she allowed herself in spite of conscientious qualms; she felt that she enjoyed it in a pagan sensuous way, and always looked forward to renouncing it.

    Published in: on 12 October 2007 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  


    It’s brill. If you missed the first episode, watch it here.

    Published in: on 11 October 2007 at 4:10 pm  Comments (6)  

    Mariana in the Moated Grange


    With blackest moss the flower-plots
    Were thickly crusted, one and all:
    The rusted nails fell from the knots
    That held the pear to the gable-wall.
    The broken sheds look’d sad and strange:
    Unlifted was the clinking latch;
    Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
    Upon the lonely moated grange.
    She only said, “My life is dreary,
    He cometh not,” she said;
    She said, “I am aweary, aweary,
    I would that I were dead!”

    Her tears fell with the dews at even;
    Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
    She could not look on the sweet heaven,
    Either at morn or eventide.
    After the flitting of the bats,
    When thickest dark did trance the sky,
    She drew her casement-curtain by,
    And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
    She only said, “The night is dreary,
    He cometh not,” she said;
    She said, “I am aweary, aweary,
    I would that I were dead!”

    Upon the middle of the night,
    Waking she heard the night-fowl crow:
    The cock sung out an hour ere light:
    From the dark fen the oxen’s low
    Came to her: without hope of change,
    In sleep she seem’d to walk forlorn,
    Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn
    About the lonely moated grange.
    She only said, “The day is dreary,
    He cometh not,” she said;
    She said, “I am aweary, aweary,
    I would that I were dead!”

    About a stone-cast from the wall
    A sluice with blacken’d waters slept,
    And o’er it many, round and small,
    The cluster’d marish-mosses crept.
    Hard by a poplar shook alway,
    All silver-green with gnarled bark:
    For leagues no other tree did mark
    The level waste, the rounding gray.
    She only said, “My life is dreary,
    He cometh not,” she said;
    She said “I am aweary, aweary
    I would that I were dead!”

    And ever when the moon was low,
    And the shrill winds were up and away,
    In the white curtain, to and fro,
    She saw the gusty shadow sway.
    But when the moon was very low
    And wild winds bound within their cell,
    The shadow of the poplar fell
    Upon her bed, across her brow.
    She only said, “The night is dreary,
    He cometh not,” she said;
    She said “I am aweary, aweary,
    I would that I were dead!”

    All day within the dreamy house,
    The doors upon their hinges creak’d;
    The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
    Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek’d,
    Or from the crevice peer’d about.
    Old faces glimmer’d thro’ the doors
    Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
    Old voices called her from without.
    She only said, “My life is dreary,
    He cometh not,” she said;
    She said, “I am aweary, aweary,
    I would that I were dead!”

    The sparrow’s chirrup on the roof,
    The slow clock ticking, and the sound
    Which to the wooing wind aloof
    The poplar made, did all confound
    Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
    When the thick-moted sunbeam lay
    Athwart the chambers, and the day
    Was sloping toward his western bower.
    Then said she, “I am very dreary,
    He will not come,” she said;
    She wept, “I am aweary, aweary,
    Oh God, that I were dead!”

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Mariana and her moated grange first appear in Measure for Measure. She waits, like Tennyson’s Mariana. But Shakespeare’s Mariana ends up with her man, Angelo – it’s that breed of Shakespearean relationship that features a strong adult woman and a more morally fickle boyish man, the one Germaine Greer thinks mimics Shakespeare’s relationship with Anne Hathaway. No one is quite sure what Tennyson is on about. I’m not. Love it but. The painting is by Millias.

    Published in: on 9 October 2007 at 8:38 pm  Comments (1)  

    Happy Birthday Stephen


    Stephen Fry is 50. I’m a bit belated with it.

    Stephen on poetry:

    It slows you down, so you can just enjoy the bounce and heft and glory of one word following another.

    Also, thought I might add these excerts from an interview with Stephen Fry in The Times, on the eve of the publication of his new book, The Ode Less Travelled, a beginners’ guide to poetry writing. The article is by Catherine Shoard. I previously posted this on my other, rarely-ever-tended-to blog.

    Fry: “The strength and confidence that we associate with the Victorians we also associate with things like empire, poverty, social injustice, sexual hypocrisy. We can’t seem to separate them. So if you’re white and privately educated and you start talking about the virtuosity of Western enlightenment then it sounds as if you’re basically grinding a boot into the face of Muslims and the Third World.”

    But political correctness shouldn’t take all the blame. Far from it – the chief cause of bad verse, says Fry, is laziness.

    “You cannot work too hard at poetry,” he says, tapping his saucer for extra emphasis. “People are bad at it not because they have tin ears, but because they simply don’t have the faintest idea how much work goes into it. It’s not as if you’re ordering a pizza or doing something that requires direct communication in a very banal way. But it seems these days the only people who spend time over things are retired people and prisoners. We bolt things, untasted.”

    He puffs contemplatively on a full-strength Marlboro, and pours more tea.

    “It’s so easy to say, ‘That’ll do.’ Everyone’s in a hurry. People are intellectually lazy, morally lazy, ethically lazy …”

    Morally lazy?

    “All the time. When people get angry with a traffic warden they don’t stop and think what it would be like to be a traffic warden or how annoying it would be if people could park wherever they liked. People talk lazily about how hypocritical politicians are. But everyone is. On the one hand we hate that petrol is expensive and on the other we go on about global warming. We abrogate the responsibility for thought and moral decisions onto others and then have the luxury of saying it’s not good enough.”

    The solution? Poetry, thinks Fry. “At its best poetry engages with the realities of existence. That’s why it’s so grown up. It’s the absolute opposite of this Disney idea that if you dream hard enough you can get anything – that’s so manifestly not true. Good art has a skull showing. We just need to knuckle down and produce it.”‘

    Published in: on 8 October 2007 at 6:07 pm  Comments (5)  


    I’m only a quarter-way through, but I already have a surfeit of wisdoms from George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

    … the great safeguard of society and of domestic life was, that opinions were not acted on. Sane people did what their neighbours did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.

    Sir James paused. He did not usually find it easy to give reasons: it seemed to him strange that people should not know them without being told, since he only felt what was reasonable.

    “He has got no red blood in his body,” said Sir James.
    “No. Somebody put a drop under a magnifying glass, and it was all semi-colons and parenthesis,” said Mrs Cadwallader.

    But anyone watching keenly the stealthy convergence of human lots, sees a slow preparation of effects from one life on another, which tells like a calculated irony on the indifference on the frozen stare with which we look at our unintroduced neighbour. Destiny stands by sarcastic with a dramatis personae folded in her hand.

    And on Dorothea’s sister Celia:

    The younger had always worn a yoke: but is there any yoked creature without its private opinions?

    Published in: on 8 October 2007 at 6:03 pm  Comments (1)