Tuesday morning there was a meeting at MOSI for its volunteers. That was only an hour or so, and it wasn't until ten. I ended up talking afterwards to one of the people who helped out on the volunteering course I did over the summer, who asked me how I was getting on with my volunteer placement so was treated to a bit of a rant about how overwhelming I'm finding it -- it's just on the edge of too much, along with suddenly stepping in to keep the VISG going, and Andrew being ill, and dog-sitting, and November, and the generally poor mental state I've been in (I didn't list all those things, but I think it was pretty clear there were things like that). It sort of helped to get it off my chest.
Tuesday night I went to the pre-formation meeting of the Levenshulme WI. Em J and I were both in a state where we couldn't quite manage to get out on our own so went together and I think were both glad we did. We had someone from "the region" come and talk to us, who will be formally instituting this new branch in January, and she was telling us all about the WI, which according to her is all about fighting isolation, educating adult women in useful or interesting things, and pressing for social change, so I'm all in favor of that. We were also taking suggestions for a more interesting name for the group than Levenshulme WI; some of the suggestions were funny -- I love The Scone Roses but it'll cause arguments about the pronunciation of "scone" -- and I hope we end up with The Blue Belles, as The Blue Bell is one of my favorite pubs and a Levy institution itself thanks to lovely Mark the landlord.
Tuesday was also the deadline for me getting my script written for my half of the MOSI tour for VI people that basically is the end product of my volunteering project. It didn't feel at all finished, though, and I was really stressed about it. I'd planned for a few of the VISG to come along and kind of put up with Helena's and my "draft" version of the tour, because I knew they'd let us know what they really think, while being a basically friendly audience because they know me.
Wednesday was my local Lib Dems' AGM, wherein we passed a constitutional amendment to merge with a couple of other Manchester constituencies, which gives us a bigger membership and wider reach, which should be exciting even if it means our future exec meetings won't be an easy few minutes' walk from my house like they have so far been. I put myself forward for next year's exec -- not as an officer this time, just as an ordinary member. In a year as membership development officer, I couldn't ever get onto the membership system so I figure it's best not to give myself such things to worry about. Another of the ordinary exec members is po8crg, and I think it's really funny that we're now in the same "local" party. He ended up joining us for the walk back to Stockport Road where he was going to catch a bus but of course carried on the conversation to our front door and then our living room, where magister had arrived to spend the night after a rubbish day, and of course then there were cups of tea and conversation and no one went to bed early.
And then Thursday morning I was up and out early again for a tour of Manchester Art Gallery with Henshaws' museum/gallery group, which my fellow MOSI volunteer and I were tagging along on in order to learn stuff we could make use of in our own tour. We did learn a lot, and I also enjoyed the tour itself, which as with ours is of a temporary exhibit, "House Proud" -- not only a subject interesting to me, but one that lends itself well to a touch tour, because there are things like furniture and lamps rather than paintings or anything that's too fragile to cope with much handling.
And then James and I had a nice mellow afternoon, and tried to get him on a train home at a reasonable hour but apparently a rail had cracked (a rail had cracked?! I didn't know that was a thing that can happen) between Piccadilly and Huddersfield, so he ended up staying with us another night and leaving very early for work the next day.
I was busy even on the weekend, especially on Sunday when I went to check on haggis's house again as they're still away -- it's one of those places that's not far from me but is a pain to get to, and it's even more a pain when it's been rainy and cold and getting dark so early; it's hard enough finding the right road in the daylight, sometimes! On my way back I went to Sainsburys, unloaded the groceries here, went out again to go into town because Andrew has been without the vitamins that help manage his blood pressure for a while and was really suffering for it. And by the time I finished that it was time for the Trans Day of Remembrance event in Sackville Gardens, and I wanted to go to that. I've not been for a year or two and in that time it's gone from a simple ceremony, a few words and the recitation of the names (and in the afternoon! I know this only started at 5pm but it's pitch black by then) but now there's a big gazebo and loud music and self-serving speeches from the usual suspects, and an incredibly inaccessible "candlelit procession" to the trans memorial at the other end of the park, where I spent most of my time trying not to set anything on fire because I couldn't see anything. But it's organized by Sparkle, and they seem pretty happy with it, so I shan't quibble. Seeing Manchester Lesbian & Gay Chorus there made me think again that I should really try going along to their rehearsals, but in years of thinking that I still haven't managed it.
And then this week I had the tour script to try to work on, VISG members to chase up (about half of them don't do e-mail, which is fair enough but phoning people is harder for me, less likely to work, and easier for me to forget what's happened and what I've said to whom afterwards), because like I said this Wednesday was the "practice tour."
And then Monday night I got a text from miss_s_b that said basically "We've had a last-minute drop out, can you be the guest speaker at our AGM on Thursday?" I didn't see any reason why not -- suddenly my week was even busier just as I'd been looking forward to it calming down after Wednesday, but "if you want something done ask a busy person" right? -- so I had to think of something I could talk to a bunch of Lib Dems about (Andrew helpfully said "you can talk about lots of things! you're an immigrant and you're bisexual and you're disabled...") but I figured it'd be either mental health or immigration-related, and then I remembered I'd actually had something I thought would make a good policy (which handily I'd written a (rather ranty) blog post about, three and a half years ago so at least I had a cut-and-paste of that to start from; gods bless DW/LJ).
And then Tuesday it was ten years since my brother died and I had a pretty quiet day: Andrew was at work and it was mostly just me and the dog. Thank you so much for all your kind comments and thoughts on the photos I posted. Helps me feel less lonely.
Bright and early Wednesday morning I ended up meeting people at Deansgate who weren't sure how to get to the museum, and trying to corral everyone and get them to the not-terribly-accessible part of the museum where the exhibit is (they all complained about the cobbles, just like I always do) so started late, so were pressed for time, which is okay because it helped make the point I've been failing to make to the people I'm working with about how much longer everything takes in a group of visually impaired people.
The tour went okay but it was clearly A Learning Experience. The problems I knew we were going to have -- actually we're dealing with some pretty sophisticated and complex ideas here, and there weren't enough things to touch -- we had, but the group were pretty nice and did seem to have enjoyed it. My fellow volunteer, the curator who's been supervising us, and the new person who's taking over that job because this one's suddenly leaving, had a little meeting afterwards to talk about what we want to change, add, etc.
I was sort of struggling to seem as positive as I wanted to -- partly because I was just so tired by this point! But also because while I still love and am committed to this project, I don't think any of us properly comprehended the task the museum were giving us brand-new volunteers: there's a lot more work, and a lot more expertise, required than we can be expected to catch up with, never mind execute, in what was originally conceived as a six-week placement. It's already been two months, and the tour probably won't be in a fit state for a few more weeks at least.
And not to seem egotistical but I have no idea what this would've been like with a volunteer other than me: there was just no knowledge of what already existed in this area, there wouldn't have been my contacts with Henshaws and the sensory team and the Steering Group, much less my higher baseline of knowledge that, e.g. there's such variation among visually impaired people that there's no one way to guarantee you're meeting everyone's needs because they're often contradictory from one person to the next or even in the same person from one day/venue/weather condition/time of day to the next. Of course I'd hope they'd have found the Henshaws people, and thus the audio-description lady (who does live theatre shows as well as museums and art galleries and is fantastic at her job), on their own; I'd have hoped they'd have thought about things like large-print and lighting and all the basic things I have suggested.
And then Thursday, yesterday, I printed off my speech for the AGM, realized I hadn't finished it, spent a while doing that while also being involved in weirdly intense Twitter conversations (Thanksgiving always brings out a really particular and weird kind of anti-Americanism among a certain type of British people), went to Yorkshire, sat through two hours of an AGM that was actually fairly interesting even to me in many places, partly because it's so different from my own local party's, and then did my little speech about how stupid the Life in the UK Test is and how I want to get rid of it.
And then I went back to Brighouse and had wine and Jennie cooked us all some food and then I went to bed and I woke up like five hours later and got on a train back to Manchester, walked the dog, and crawled into bed with Andrew about three minutes before his alarm went off. I stayed in bed though, and slept all morning.
I have carefully planned nothing particular for today and the weekend (except there is an actual mountain of laundry that needs to be done and really everything needs cleaning...) and I am really looking forward to life being less demanding.
Which it will be now anyway. Since I am leader of the VISG I have decided that we're not going to do anything until some time in January. There's still work to do on the tour but it's mostly cutting stuff out rather than adding it, and in the first instance that's being done by the curator rather than us anyway, so I feel like that ball is well and truly out of my court for a while too.
I've missed talking to my mom on both the anniversary of Chris's death and Thanksgiving which is the anniversary of it in a different way. And I didn't get Andrew's and my Christmas lists to her until the last minute. I feel really bad about both of those things, but since she'll be out shopping for Black Friday now. All I can do is try to make up for it this weekend.
After I have all the sleep.