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hi there! this is a tiny and infrequently-updated journal; you can find others like it at the Neon Kiosk. the rest of my stuff is at viper.skin.

2023-10-21 // water-flea

So back when my kid was a baby, I was in a thrift shop and saw a brand-new kids' microscope for £2.50. It seemed like a pretty great price and like it might be fun when he was older, so I bought it and put it away in a cupboard. And then yesterday I was clearing out that cupboard and found it and thought, well, he's older now! So I got it out and figured out how to make it work and tried to think of some cool things to look at.

We started out looking at some plant roots and leaves, which I thought was kind of interesting but he was obviously a bit underwhelmed and was finding it hard to figure out what everything was, so I decided to upgrade to pond water droplets and found a teeny little microorganism in one of them! It still took him a while to manage to see it because it was swimming around on the slide and kept moving out of view, but then he yelled "I SEE IT, IT'S WIGGLING!"

It was honestly really cool. It was kind of translucent and you could see its... internal bits? And all these wavy legs or tendrils or something. He likes "minibeasts" so he seemed genuinely excited about it.

He passed the microscope back over, and I watched it for a while and realised it was kind of... visibly dying. Or at least struggling in some way. It wasn't moving as much as it had at first and seemed as though it was trying to but couldn't.

I have no idea why, but it really bothered me. Maybe seeing it magnified like that made it feel like an animal and tripped my hyperempathy alerts. Maybe because my kid was so excited to see this tiny thing and it felt like if it died right there that would make the whole experience kind of morbid. I don't know. I mean, I'm kind of sentimental about animals but not massively so, I guess? I don't like watching prey animals get eaten on documentaries, but I understand it's part of life. I don't eat meat myself, but it doesn't upset me if others do. I carefully carry spiders outside, but I'll kill midges and mosquitos.

Anyway, my brain decided saving this fucking water flea was the most urgent thing on earth right at that moment, so I grabbed the slide and fucking RAN back to the neighbour's pond to put this tiny fucking blob of technically-an-animal back in its home. I have no idea if I was too late or not. I hope not? I spent a while shaking off the slide to ensure that I hadn't doomed any other tiny things to drying-out death, since that would've been even more goddamn ridiculous.

Later, as we were getting his pyjamas on, my kid said "when we're older than 43 and uh, when I'm as old as you... when I'm older than five, we'll still talk about today" and I nearly cried. He's so fucking precious sometimes.

I mean, in the interests of realism/honesty, I think today probably stood out more for him because he got Pokemon cards and a donut, but maybe the water flea was in there too. It was a good day for him, I think.

...If anyone read this all the way to the end, thank you, and I apologise for the total lack of payoff; I think this is very much in the category of "it won't mean much to anyone else, but it did to me". Sometimes things just happen that I want to write about, I guess.

2023-08-23 // half-birthday

Well, I think we can conclusively say that I've failed Blaugust. Still, I wrote a bunch of entries, more than I usually would have done, and posted more on my Mastodon accounts than usual too, so it's not a complete washout.

It was Bean's "half-birthday" last week. He realised he was going to be exactly five and a half soon, and because he has a winter birthday when the weather sucks and everyone's broke because Christmas just happened, we said we could do something nice for it. The co-parents baked half a cake (...well, I'm pretty sure they baked a normal cake, cut it in half and hid the other half, unless they happen to have a semicircular cake tin), we got five candles and snapped one in half, I baked sugar cookies with caramel topping and edible glitter which he refused to eat but I am very proud of them anyway, and got him a couple of very tiny presents. It was actually really fun and cute, and I think we might make it a tradition. Everyone deserves to have a summer birthday with cake and picnics outside.

2023-08-12 // mammal

Nothing has ever made me more aware of the fact that I'm an animal than parenthood. Not really childbirth, since I had a c-section and therefore didn't do that in a remotely "natural" way (because I prefer not dying), but just the experience of being a mother to a small, freshly-hatched human. The first time I co-slept with my son, I felt as though I could be any other mammal, anything warm-blooded and viviparous, sleeping with her young curled up next to her. Whenever I'm out with him somewhere public, a park or a play centre or whatever where he's running around with other kids, I think about how sheep can recognise their own lambs in a crowd of hundreds, and how if an alien were to suddenly beam down to earth, it'd probably be equally wild to them that I can pick him out of a crowd of a hundred other screaming running-around kids. Half the time I don't even need to see his face; I can recognise the back of his head, and the way he runs around with his long skinny limbs flailing everywhere. And the absolutely instinctive "gotta protect" reaction. It's ridiculous, but when I watch him climb the high walls at the clip'n'climb place in town, sometimes I have to look away; seeing him so high up like that makes me feel physically sick. It doesn't bother me when it's any other kid, but when it's mine, I end up either looking away because I just Fucking Can't, or watching him like a hawk in case he falls and I have to React (somehow? what am I expecting to do, catch him?).

I should note that the clip'n'climb walls are extremely safe - they're attached to an "auto belay" rope which just floats them down gently if they fall, or when they jump off at the top. But my lizard brain doesn't know what a belay is, it only knows CHILD UP HIGH?? DANGER???

... this is a somewhat more personal and maybe slightly pretentious post than I've been making lately, I guess. But it's what was on my mind, and what is this journal for if not for posting brain nonsense like this.

2023-08-09 // low-effort

Okay, okay, I can totally think of something to write here before I sleep. Uh. I... I read that it's going to be sunny tomorrow so I'm hopefully taking my kid to the park. Maybe we'll get some ice-cream. I will report back on this tomorrow. I know this is an extremely low-effort entry, but I guess with any "write something every day" challenge, some of them are going to be pretty low-effort. And I am really tired.

2023-08-08 // bitsy

I just found out that there's a bitsy jam currently going on, ending on Thursday. Which isn't really time to make anything very much, but I might try to make something tiny. The theme is "waiting"... I might do a little silly thing about waiting for a bus or train or something. It's been too long since I made a game, and I kind of miss it. I made some fairly detailed games with bitsy a few years back, and really enjoyed making them, but lately I've just kind of felt stuck for ideas. Perhaps I will just start making some sprites and a background and see where it takes me.

2023-08-07 // rubik's cube part 2

Oh, shit, I think I'm one of those nerds now. Bean's gone to the co-parents' house until Wednesday, and I realised I'd been kind of enjoying solving the cube over and over for him. It's a good fidget toy, and solving it is very satisfying. So I... I bought another one for myself. It's pretty and has kind of shimmery pastel colours. I had no idea you could get Aesthetic tm Rubik's cubes.

Maybe I'm gonna become one of those people who can solve it in twelve seconds with their eyes closed. I mean, probably not. I'm not that good at memorising long lists of anything, least of all complex three-dimensional movements. But it's still pretty and a good stim toy.

2023-08-05 // museum

For today's adventure we went to a local history museum, which was actually a lot more interesting than it sounds - I mean, I love old stuff and it's always extra cool when you can literally be like "hey my granddad worked there" or whatever, so it was going to be fun for me anyway, but they also had a lot of stuff for kids that Bean enjoyed, and for the boring (to him) bits I gave him my phone to play Pokemon Go while I looked round a recreation of a Victorian coalmine or whatever. Also there's a river nearby with geese and ducks and cute little teenage ducklings, so I brought some oats to feed them. I tried to get Bean to join in but he was busy catching a particularly tricky Bulbasaur, so I ended up giving half the oats to a very sweet little girl who was watching them with her mum (she also kinda tried to make friends with Bean but he was in full I WILL ONLY COMMUNICATE BY INFODUMPING ABOUT POKEMON mode so I think she was a bit confused).

Also I finally completed a Lantern ascension in Cultist Simulator, which won't mean much to anyone else, but it does to me, dammit. (I probably will write here at some point about how much I fucking love Cultist Simulator, but not tonight.)

2023-08-04 // minibeasts

Too tired for much writing today, but I went minibeast hunting with Bean again and we had much more success. I made a couple of posts with pictures on my Mastodon sideblog, so I figure that counts for today. Also, I didn't get a photo but we saw a really cool huge orange dragonfly.

2023-08-03 // rubik's cube

Here's what I did today: I learned how to solve a fucking Rubik's cube.

A solved rubik's cube

Kid scrambled up his rubik's cube and got upset because he wanted it unscrambled. Two days, two internet tutorials, one newly purchased Rubik's cube because his old one was huge and clunky and hurt my hands, I now know (kinda, if I have a cheat sheet to look at) how to solve a Rubik's cube. This may actually be one of the most difficult things I have ever done for him, because I do not have the kind of brain that's good at understanding complex three-dimensional shapes and rotating them in space, and also I finished it this evening with a migraine, plus him climbing on me demanding to know if I was finished yet and by the way who's my favourite Sonic the Hedgehog character and why.

I'm kind of proud of this actually.

2023-08-02 // kiki & bouba

A doodle of two cups of boba tea. One has the normal round boba pearls and is labelled 'boba', the other has little spiky things instead and is labelled 'kiki'.

I posted this terrible nerdy linguistics joke (explanation here) on my Mastodon account and got over a thousand fucking notes on it. I know that that doesn't sound a lot if you're used to twitter or even tumblr, but on Mastodon it's kind of the equivalent of going so viral people start asking you to promote galaxy lamps and tea tree oil. And, honestly I kind of didn't enjoy it at all. Something about being on the internet so long, and seeing so much of people being fucking awful to each other on it, has ended up making me extremely stressed about the experience of Being Seen online in any way. I kept hearing the little bloop notification noise and every time I felt like the next one was going to be someone calling me a slur or picking a fight for no reason. And it kinda sucks that I feel like that. I'm not sure how to get back to the point where I feel like being noticed and interacted with is unscary, but I'd like to.

2023-08-01 // blaugust

Really starting off Blaugust in style by forgetting about it until 11.45pm on the first day. Still, I'm here now and that's what counts.

I did not do anything very much today; I was going to go out for coffee but my body was not co-operating, so I stayed home and played Cultist Simulator and crocheted a bit. It always sucks when it's a bad pain/energy day; I feel like the day just sort of drifted away while I looked at a screen and achieved nothing. Doesn't help that my kid isn't here today (he's at the co-parents' house) so everything just felt sort of like the day never really started. Usually I'm woken up around 6am with "MAMA WHO'S YOUR FAVOURITE OUT OF BULBASAUR, SNIVY AND BELLSPROUT? ALSO CAN I HAVE CHOCOLATE PUDDING FOR BREAKFAST".

But I know I need to rest sometimes, and when he's not here is the ideal opportunity. Just feels bad because you know, obviously I should've cleaned the entire house and gone for a 12-mile walk.

2023-07-30 // nature walk

One of the things I like about the idea of a blog (or any journal, really, private or otherwise) is using it as a sort of external memory. Because my own memory sucks. I mean, actually, human memory in general kind of sucks; we tend to think that we remember things clearly and reliably and as they really happened, but actually a lot of things tend to get lost because our brain doesn't store them too long, or the memory gets faded and less-reliable over time. Still, I think probably my memory is worse than most people's; most of the time I can't remember much about any given day or what I did on it.

I'd like to remember today though. I got a little "bug hunt" kit for my kid a few weeks back because it was on sale cheap, and today he was clearly feeling wiggly and cranky and needed to get outside for a bit, so I suggested going bug-hunting. Really, we didn't do much and we definitely didn't find much; we just flipped a few rocks over, took pictures of the worms and beetles as they tried to quickly vacate the area, and ate a few early blackberries. But it was just so fucking nice to be out in nature with him, or indeed at all. (I try to go for a stupid little walk for my stupid mental and physical health every so often, but unfortunately my stupid physical (lack of) health frequently prevents it.)

We saw a robin sitting on a tree branch, I took some pictures of moss and fungi growing on an old rotten stump, we picked a few blackberries (the fact that blackberries are ripe in July this year really says something about how our local climate is changing, huh), we attempted pond-dipping which was fun although we didn't catch anything other than stinky pond-weed and rocks, and we saw five crows hanging out in a field; kid said he didn't want to go any nearer in case they flew away, because "they're so beautiful", which I thought was very sweet and was also clearly a moment of rare impulse control for him; usually he's more the "run around shouting first, ask questions later" type, so they must have made an impression on him. And it just meant a lot to me to get to be outside, in the summer, in this green and lovely area we're lucky to live in, to spend some time with trees and streams and bugs and birds. I hope my brain keeps hold of the memory of today.

2023-07-26 // hi again

Oh, hey, I stopped writing here. Oops. But luckily because I have no followers or audience, I don't feel bad about it and just picking up where I left off doesn't feel awkward! Yay!

So I'm thinking I'm going to try to do Blaugust. Either here or on my current fediverse blog (since my instance changed its character limit per post to 10,000 so long-form blogging is possible there now) or a combination of both. But probably at least some of it here, because there just seems like... there's something special about having my own thing on my own domain name that doesn't use any kind of social media infrastructure (except what's built in to Neocities, I guess, but that's stuff that's mostly just its own thing and doesn't interact with this journal at all. And also, I don't really use it anyway). Even if Neocities died, I could just find another hosting service and upload the files and it'd live on. It's kinda nice knowing that. So I think I will try to put some/most of my posts on here, maybe the longer or more personal ones. We'll see, I guess.

2023-02-08 // horror

I've been on kind of a horror-lit kick lately. It's usually fairly rare for me to find anything that genuinely scares me (which is weird, because I am not exactly a big mean tough badass - I guess I'm just picky about my horror tropes), but I'm either getting more sensitive lately or I've just had a run of good luck, because I ran across two books in the same week that really, genuinely unsettled me - Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin and Carpenter's Farm by Josh Malerman.

Fever Dream is... well, its title gives a good clue about the general feel of it. It's told as a conversation between a young boy and a dying woman, and the conversation is... extremely strange, involving "worms" that have caused this woman's death and the need to identify "the exact moment when it happens" by going over her memories of the last few days. As she recounts her memories she mentions another story (I love nested stories-within-stories, absolutely excellent plot device every time), one she was told by the boy's mother, about how the boy was poisoned when he was very young and had to be cured in an... unconventional way, one which left her feeling as if he was no longer really her son. Child peril is a constant theme through the book - the dying woman repeatedly asks about where her daughter Nina is, and the concept of "rescue distance" - how close to your child you need to be to ensure that you can save them if something bad happens - is repeated over and over. (And, of course, though the book never directly comes out and says it, sometimes there's no rescue distance close enough. Sometimes something terrible can happen to your child when they're right next to you, and you'll never even see it happen.) I don't think this book would have hit half as hard if I wasn't a parent myself - and a pretty fucking anxious one, let's be honest - but I think it would always have creeped me out. It gave me the same "you'll be scared, but you won't know why" feeling that I'm Thinking Of Ending Things did (though after reading the ending of ITOET, I don't think I'll ever find that book scary again, just sad).

I'm trying not to spoil it too much here, because there's no real way to do a read-more or spoiler tags on this blog (I mean, I could put the text in the same colour as the background, but that wouldn't work for the Neon Kiosk feed, or screen readers), but it's weird and haunting and confusing and sad and is probably going to live rent free in my head for a while.

I'm going to just post this, and come back another day to talk about Carpenter's Farm, I guess.

2023-01-26 // ivy plant redux

Although it occurred to me that maybe it would be nice to add a tiny update to an earlier post here: the little ivy plant is thriving, and now I have fairy lights over my bed, too. They look super pretty.

2023-01-26 // shrug

I don't know what the fuck to say here, honestly. I started writing it because I love reading other people's blogs and about the details of their lives, but I forgot to account for the fact that my life is really fucking boring to people who aren't me. (And occasionally to people who are me.)

Or, I don't know, is it, I guess? On paper "disabled queer trans family trying to survive and not lose their shit in 2023" could be at least a little interesting, right? In practice it's mostly just a lot of "can we afford to put the heating on today" and "please don't show me any more transphobic news articles, I can't deal with it right now". Maybe it's just not knowing how to write about it. Ugh. Well, the point of this blog is that it's nonsocial media and probably nobody reads it, so I guess I'll just try to get back into writing whatever I've been doing with the kid or whatever. I mean, I had breakfast in a cafe this morning! It was nice! Except that I forgot I'd just had a wisdom tooth removed, so actually eating the toast I'd ordered was almost impossible. I cut it up into tiny pieces and awkwardly chewed it only on the right side of my mouth.

Which, yeah: I got a fucking wisdom tooth removed! I have never had a tooth extracted before in my 43.5 years of life, and I really wish I hadn't had to start with a dramatically broken wisdom tooth. (Most people in the UK do not get their wisdom teeth removed as standard - and we don't get knocked out for it, just a local anaesthetic. I *wish* I had been knocked out for it, but no.) I won't go into detail because seriously who wants to read that, right, but, ugh. I feel like I've been run over by a truck, but only in one very specific area of my face.

2022-12-22 // he's been!

Christmas was okay. Well, the kid had a great time; I had RSV and spent most of the day coughing, or explaining in a whisper that I'm really sorry, bean, but I can't actually read your new Sonic the Hedgehog book to you because my voice has stopped working. Also I fucked up my side shave and had to try to avoid family pictures all day, because my head now looks like a hedgehog with a bad case of mange and will continue to do so until I can get the clippers to start working again. But I managed to get my shit together enough to stay awake for the day, play with the new toys, eat Christmas dinner and get him into bed before collapsing on the couch with bad Christmas tv and a glass of wine, so I'll call it a win.

But I was really glad he had a good day. Until this year he's actually been scared of Santa (on the grounds that "his voice is too deep" and "I don't want him to come down the chimney") and has insisted that only the reindeer are allowed to come to his house - but then Santa showed up at the Christmas party at his school, and turned out to be friendly and gave him a present, so this year we got to do the things like writing a letter and putting a mince pie out for Santa, and I felt like oh shit I'm actually doing the stuff I remember from being a kid! Feels weird-but-good to repeat those traditions and see it all from the other side.

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