Thursday, 19 December 2013

testing

My apologies everyone. But if this test goes right you're going to get this one in  your twitter/facebook feed twice. This is intentional as I'm testing something. Sorry about this.

Ok so this should be the second posting with updates ^_^ Fingers crossed

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Nausea

So, my reaction to a name popping up in my Twitter feed yesterday morning has clued me in to the fact that I still have some serious issues to work through. Seeing a name should not make you feel sick. I was not in contact with this person. They were not speaking to me. it was a simple case of a retweet.

Seconds after the wave of nausea I felt ridiculous. This is ancient history. I am over this. I have forgiven this. Haven't I? Apparently not. If I had then I would not have felt like this. It's interesting to be faced with the realisation that you might not be a put together as you thought.

You see over the 8 years since I last saw this person I have grown so much. I am a better person in almost every way. I still fall short but I am now aware of it when I do and instead of crumbling I just work hard to do better. I honestly thought I was completely present in my 31 year old self. It seems that the insecure 18 year old me is still in here with a louder voice than I gave her credit for.

It's immensely frustrating to know this. But, with the wisdom I have gained over the last few years, I am able to see this as a positive thing. Not a good thing, but positive for sure.  Because now I have an obstacle to overcome. Once upon a time that obstacle would have been cause for dismay. But I want to be a better person. I want to be the person I know I can be. And if being able to drag myself past the emotional manipulation of my past is part of that then bring it on I say.

I've been feeling very introspective of late. As a result I have plans to make 2014 (and every year thereafter) as fulfilling as possible. There are so many things I want to do and I am determined to have a crack at them all. Some are huge and others are small but they are all important. I will be adding lay some demons to rest to that list. I would like to be able to see a certain name and not feel ill.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas

Tis the season and all that. We are into the 12 days of Christmas and, all things willing, I will actually be putting up decorations this evening for the first time in about 8 years!! But for me Christmas is actually quite a sad time. I didn't lose someone at this time of year or anything horrible like that. Instead my sadness comes from all the people I meet. Let me explain.

Every single day I am presented with people. Some are wonderful, others less so. Deep down I know all these people have the potential to be amazing. To be kind and honest. To think of their fellow humans. To work together to make the world the fantastic place it can be. The problem is that most of the time people don't do that. People as a whole (not individual persons) are quite egocentric. We don't make eye contact or smile at the people we encounter. We put ourselves first. We assume someone else will be the one to make things better.

But at Christmas? Then we see people shine. They are kind to everyone. They give generously. They are nice to their friends and family and strangers alike. I look around every year in wonder at how damn wonderful people are. And then I get sad.

Surely this should fill me with joy I hear you all shout.

It does. Please don't mistake me. It really does fill me with joy. But if we were half as amazing all year round as we are at Christmas then the world would be the wonderful place we all wish it was.

I can't afford to give to charity all year round I hear you mutter. That's fine, no one is asking you to. But how about making eye contact with the cashier who served you today and saying thank you? Actually thanking them as a person not just saying thanks to the space of air to the left of their head.

But I can't be that nice all the time I hear you mumble. Why not? What does it cost you to try and be nice to everyone you're speaking to? What does it cost you to be patient?

Change is hard. I get that. But I would love to see everyone try to better themselves. Not next year. Not as a new year's resolution. But now. Right this instant. To reach out and connect with the people they see everyday. To bring a little bit of kindness into their lives. If you can do big acts then do them. But any Random Act of Kindness is a good thing. This little things add up. That person you made smile will likely go on to make others smile. And so on.

You are a wonderful person. Accept that as fact and live up to it ^_^

p.s. If you do want to donate to charity this Holiday Season I just added a text donation thing to my drive for MSF. You can donate £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10. Or you can visit my page HERE

Saturday, 30 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Reflections

So this is the end of NaBloPoMo. Out of 30 days I have managed to write for 26 of them. 2 were missed due to geeky joy and 2 to just being too damn sick to feel like writing. It's been an interesting journey and I'm fairly certain I will do it again. What have I learnt? Let me tell you.

Back when I first started blogging I would only post if I had a good picture to go with the post. I love taking photos so it seemed like a good idea. The trouble was I didn't always have a picture. So I wouldn't write. Then I wouldn't write for days.  Which lead to starting up again feeling weird.

I also used to think that I had to have something important to say. Assuming anyone was reading I had to give them intelligent discourse on interesting topics. Doing NaBloPoMo has made me rethink that. The act of writing was the important thing not what was said. I was exercising my writing muscles and any exercise was good.

I've been more thoughtful this month. I have let my mind wander and have been composing blogs in my head as I walk places. Not all of those made it to the page but it was nice to get thinking. I felt very in touch with the world.

I found myself wanting to write. And it wasn't always easy. Sometimes I would sit down full of ideas and be unable to write. Other times I would sit down thinking it was going to be a 2 liner and still be there 15 minutes later typing away.

I've remembered that I like writing. Chances are I'm going to blog more after this. Not going to set myself any kind of timetable but I'd like to see myself writing at least once a week.

All in all it has been a great experience. Thank you all for coming along with me.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Christmas

Just a short one today guys as I'm exhaustipated. I am however finished with my Christmas presents. Have I made everything I want to? No. But as usual I didn't feel Christmassy til far too late. But all the stuff for the daughter is done and that is the main thing. All those other people I wanted to make for? Not this year I am afraid.

It happens every year. I don't want to make Christmas presents until I feel Christmassy. But that is too late to make all the presents I want to.

Next year I have a plan. I am going to get all the Christmas presents done early. I'm going to write a good list of who I want to make for and what they might like. Then I'm just going to frickin do it. Spreading the cost and the work!!!

I'll manage it, right?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Sick

I am sick of being sick. Don't worry this isn't going to be a whiny post, I promise!

I have been ill for 34 days now with no sign of let up. It stared as a sniffle and I just assumed I was going to get my yearly cold. I pretty much only get one cold a year. Usually lasts a week and I grumble the whole way through.l I hate having a cold and as far as I'm concerned I get man flu hehehe. But a week and several loo rolls later I was still sniffley and had lost my voice to boot.  A week after that I had got my voice back but had a horrible cough. Now 34 days later I have coughed so hard I've hurt my ribs and we won't go into the grossness of the coughing.

In the end I went to the Drs and I am on antibiotics. I hate taking them but since I can't remember the last time I did I don't think there is any chance of me being resistant. I don't feel much  better though. I am coughing less but I'm still in a buttload of pain.

I thought you said this wasn't going to be a whiny post, I hear you cry. I'm getting tot he point I promise.

This is the first time in years I have been this sick. Yet I haven't' had any time off work. I am still working 2 jobs, walking 14.4 miles a week and frantically making Christmas presents. Partly it's because we can't really afford for me to be sick. Partly it's because I am so grateful to be working again that I don't want to create a bad impression. Partly it's because I just don't want to give in to it and become whiny.

I am tired. So very tired. I hurt. But I am grateful that I don't get sick often and know that this isn't really that serious. It could be so much worse and so I refuse to feel sorry for myself. I struggle to sit up in a morning rather than asking for help because I don't want to give in. I keep smiling and saying it's not that bad because I really don't have anything to complain about in the grand scheme of things.

Monday, 25 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Crafting

I craft. I craft a lot. I knit, sew and make jewelry. I'm learning to crochet. I take photos and I bake. I like to make things. I like to write. I sing and dance as much as I can.

I wish I could paint and draw. I wish I could sculpt.

I try to be as creative as I can as often as I can and I think I'm a better person for it. Trying to take something that is inside your brain and making it a reality is great fun and help you to connect with and understand your world more. Imagination is something everyone has and it should be encouraged. Weather it's convincing your children that they can colour their pictures in however they like (purple cow anyone?), or helping your friend make that paper mache sculpture.

I didn't always craft. It started about 8 years ago. I learnt to knit and all of a sudden it was like the crafting floodgates had opened.

Over the next year I'm hoping to branch out into knit wear design and cosplay. Because you can never have too much crafting. Right?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Catching up

I missed 2 days. I was so determined to do this every day but I missed 2. I can't say I regret it though. I've had a great 2 days.

Friday saw me at work and then the Drs. I've had a cold for over a month now and it seems it is a chest infection. Coughing so hard I've hurt my ribs. Fun it is not! Once I finally got home it was time to grab a quick bite to eat and then make Doctor Who cakes ready for Saturday. Once all that was done all I wanted to do was sleep. Blog fail.

Saturday saw us at our first ever comic convention. It was only a small one but it was thoroughly enjoyable. We got some beautiful art, saw some fantastic cosplay and just had a brilliant time all round. I was nice to see so many people comfortable and enjoying themselves and to talk to some really cool artists.

Saturday evening was of course Day of the Doctor. We made blue pizza and watched Adventures in Time and Space followed by the episode itself. All in all it was a great evening.

So yeah, bit of a blog fail but it was really worth it ^_^

Thursday, 21 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Why?

This one is not a happy one folks. I am stating here now that if mention of self harm, suicide or manipulation are triggers for you please step away from this post. Head over to the NaBloPoMo soup and find something else to read. Come back tomorrow. Here there be dragons.

Any one still with me I suggest you go get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, maybe a bar of chocolate. Let's begin shall we?

I am a recovering self harmer. I don't say former because I don't believe it is something you ever truly get away from. We describe people who have been alcoholics as dry drunks. They are still a drunk, just one who does not drink now. The psychology is still there though. It's a tightrope and everyone knows that there is the possibility of falling off hanging over them all the time. I think this is the same for anyone recovering from any addictive thing they have been using as a coping mechanism. So I am recovering. I've been recovering for 7 years and 9 months now. In another 4 years I will have been clean as long as I was harming.

I remember the first time I did it. I was 12 years old and was visiting my father for the weekend. It was the Friday night and I was out with my friends. We were at the local park with tons of other kids from our age up to late teens and we were drinking.  Yup I was one of those kids. Once every 2 weeks I was a little bit of a lout. Though a painfully polite one ^_^ There was a phone box by the park and one of the panes of glass had been broken and I was knocking bits of glass out of it not caring if they scratched my hand. Not much but that is where it started.

I progressed onto hitting things, walls mostly. I think for about 3 or 4 years the side of my right hand was almost always bruised. I would hit the side of my fist off things. I rarely punched the walls straight on. Too scared of breaking something. Less for the pain and more for having to explain it to anyone.

I was about 15 the fist time I cut myself. I was at a party and the guy I was interested in was there with his girlfriend. He was a manipulative guy and had been stringing me along for a while. She was a self harmer, though I didn't know it at the time. She hurt herself at the party and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. I remember thinking to myself "Will this make me feel better? Well it can't make me feel worse, let's give it a go." There was broken glass all around and I snagged myself a piece, went and sat on the wall and dug it into my wrist a few times. They were barely scratches that hardly bled but the feeling was of relief. Endorphins are released when you're in pain and that little rush is quite impressive. For the next week or so I wrapped pretty colours hair scarves around my wrist and called it fashion. It was the 90's I could get away with it ^_^ I watched them heal and felt peace.

This would continue for the next 3 years. Maybe once a fortnight to once a week. Generally on my ankles as it was easiest to hide. When I went away to university I gave myself my first permanent scar. It's on my left arm and is still visible. I harmed all the way through uni but much less than I had done. Usually only when drunk and things got on top of me. I started to fit into my skin better and the people I'd surrounded myself with were much better for me.

When I left uni I didn't want to move back in with either of my parents but I didn't want to live on my own. My ex (the one from earlier in the story) had a room going in the house share he was in so I moved in. Big mistake. I struggled with everything. Money, him and his manipulative ways, being lonely. It was like I was 15 again. Scared, confused and finding that the only way I could cope was to carve lines into my skin or make bruises blossom. It all got too much in the end and on October 24th 2003 I took an overdose. Before you say it yes, suicide is a selfish act. But I stand by my opinion that it is the only selfish act that is truly allowable. I don't see why anyone should continue to put up with a day to day struggle just so they don't upset other people. I had spent years with the idea of suicide floating at the edges of my consciousness. The only reason I hadn't was that I knew it would devastate my parents. I had finally got to a point where my misery outweighed my sense of duty. I failed (obviously, I'm not a ghost here!) and had to get on with life.

At that point I started self harming much more. It got me through the days and allowed me to function like a reasonable person. I said you could have me perfect and dead or scarred and alive. Cutting stopped working. It didn't make me feel better. One fateful night, a set of whispered words that broke my heart, and a total inability to cope with the things I was feeling lead me to heating up a meat fork and pressing it into my skin 4 times. The pain was ridiculously intense. As far as I am concerned burning is the most painful thing ever. But there came that feeling of peace again. Deep burns take weeks to heal, even longer if you are a scab picker like I am. They itched and pulled and were a constant reminder of how I felt.

For the next 3 years or so I would cut, bruise and burn myself on a regular basis. At least once a week, usually more often. Finally I moved out of this place and was once again surrounded by better people. But I still had my moments. On my 24th birthday I cut myself so deeply I scared myself. I did some research and I believe I got down to the subcutaneous fat layer. I went to see a Dr about it and they wanted to refer me for therapy. Considering all the people I've known on Medication for depression and things I would love to know how they got prescribed. I have never been prescribed medication, only therapy. However in all cases I haven't actually gotten this therapy. You see in this country therapy for self harm is geared towards adolescents. So the only person they could refer me to could only work hours that were not suitable for a fully grown woman working a full time job. So I bumbled along for another month or so.

Then on the 16th of February 2006 I burnt myself 3 times. There are 3 tiny little scars at the base of my left thumb. This was the last time I have intentionally harmed myself to date. I pressed that blade onto my skin and I felt nothing. I didn't feel any better. What was the point of doing this if it didn't make me feel better?

These days I scratch the itch with piercings and tattoos and other things. Sadly I can't always afford that and then it can get difficult. I know when it's been too long. I get snappy. I cry for no reason. It's like being outside of my body. I can see I'm being a bitch but there is nothing I can do about it. I can see that there is no reason to be in tears. I'm working on not doing this anymore but it's a work in progress.

This subject is still very taboo. To most people the idea of causing yourself pain is so nonsensical and so they judge. I think this, and other mental health issues, should be spoken about more. If people don't feel embarrassed or like they are going to be judged then they may seek help and guidance.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Captain America

I never really ready comics. Sure I had a comic subscription when I was little. I remember going to the newsagents with my mum every week to pick it up. Mine was to The Getalong Gang ^_^ But superheroes? Nope. I loved the cartoons and watched X-Men and Iron Man all the time. I loved the Superman and Batman movies and adored the Adam West Batman shows. But I just didn't get into comics.

In my teens the guys I dated was a comic book nerd. He had a wooden chest with his collection in it. The contents of this chest were works quite a bit. He taught me to respect the books and handle them gently. About this time I read The Crow for the first time and my love of graphic novels was born. You see my problem with comics has always been the small nature of them. They are over too quickly. I just don't have the space or money to have a comic book habit.

Getting older I discovered that the libraries carried quite a collection of comic books. Suddenly I could take home as many as I liked. This coincided with the wave of superhero films and I was hooked. Sure my reading has all been out of order. I'm missing tones of knowledge and parts of story arcs. I'm enjoying every second of it though.

Oddly enough the character I have grown most fond of it one I was prepared to hate. That guy I mentioned? Well he had one hero he hated. He would sneer the name Steve like it was a mortal insult. I'm glad I only discovered Steve Rodgers long after he was no longer a part of my life. Because looking back I can see why he hated Steve. He hated him for all the reasons I love him.

Steve Rodgers is a good man. He is Captain America not because of Project Rebirth but because of who he is inside. He has honour. He believes in duty. He is a decent man. My ex? He wasn't big on morality or doing something because it was the right thing to do even if you didn't want to.

As I read more, particularly the Civil War arc I really did find myself loving Steve. I'd always been  huge fan of Tony Stark. Something only enhanced by the casting of Robert Downey Jr if you know what I mean ^_^ And here they were pitted against each other. And I could see both sides of the battle. They were both standing up for what they truly believed to be the right thing. It was an amazing thing to read and in many places left me biting my lip getting ready to turn the page.

Next year the 2nd instalment in the Captain America film franchise is released. It looks like it is paving the way for the Civil War arc to me and I really hope that is where they take the whole franchise because I'd love to see it realised on film.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Cold

Darn it got cold today. I got to break the ice on puddles on my way to work which is something I love. All I really wanted to do though was stay at home and bury myself in wool. Now I do work in a yarn shop so technically I could have just made myself a nest today but that kind of thing is frowned  upon if it's not your wool!

I left work late as I was helping a poor stuck knitter fix a mistake. It meant I was almost half an hour late but honestly, I didn't mind. Helping people with their knitting is definitely a good cause. By the time I left the temperature had plummeted. Frost was starting to form on the cars. Today was a hat, scarf and mitts night. By the gods it will be time for a coat soon! It's certainly time for proper mittens of gloves. My fingers were frozen!

Later this evening I'm going to go outside and blow bubbles. They freeze at 0 degrees Celsius so hopefully it won't be too breezy and I'll get to see it ^_^

Monday, 18 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Marian Call and Scott Barkan

It's finally here. The Marian and Scott blog. They have left the county (boo) so I can write this as all of you here in the UK who would have seen them have seen them.


Weren't they good? I know, I thought so too. This is the 2nd time we've seen them. Well, technically it's the 3rd and 4th as we saw them in both Sheffield and Manchester and we did the same thing last  year. Got to cram as much in as you can.

The trusty typewriter came with again and as usual was used to great effect.

Scott did some of his own songs form his album Flightless Bird. You should go buy it now because it is awesome. The title track is brilliant. One of the others that he performed, Bad Dreams, is amazing but I get the feeling that I won't always be able to listen to it. I think it's one of those that will make me cry when I'm feeling down.

I love how well these 2 work together. The shows are tight even when they are searching for the right music ^_^

Marian is really hard to photograph. She is so mobile that trying to take a static shot is damn nigh impossible. This should frustrate me but I find it rather awesome. She sings with everything not just her voice and that comes across in the music. Especially when she sings Love and Harmony.

She did some songs from the upcoming album. My favourite it Paper and Pen which I have already shared with you. The others were just as good though.

Scott is quite hard to photograph too. Like Marian he plays with his whole body. Even down to his toes. In all 4 shows I've seen though he's never lost his glasses. Though it's been a close call a couple of times ^_^

They did a song that is so new it's ridiculous. It won't be on the next album but the one after that. Tis a shame really because it was freaking awesome. It had a very primal rhythm to it and I love it!

Both Marian and Scott are really nice people as well as being talented. This time round Marian was especially nice as she let us skype the concert to our daughter who couldn't make it. We only managed the first half as Black Pig's battery died but the daughter loved it. I could see her dancing and singing along and I think it really made her night.

There was lots of audience participation this gig. Including a particularly rousing rendition of Shark week. Us Brits managed to relax a bit and shake off our natural desire not to embarrass ourselves when sober.

All in all it was a pretty awesome night. I love Marian's music and this time round I gained an appreciation for Scott's too. They were both much more relaxed than last year and seemed to really enjoy themselves too. Touring like this must be exhausting but they gave it there all and had time for each an afterwards too.

We all took part in the postcard tour as well. I got 1 in Sheffield and Black Pig picked his in Manchester. We both got awesome cards and put some into the bag as well.

And now we have the last photo. The main reason I was holding off on posting this. I present to you, Howard. Scott's mascot given to him by an enthusiastic German Fan. He is just the most adorable thing ever!





So if you haven't been and checked them out yet you totally should.











Sunday, 17 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Time

I never seem to have enough time. It's there and it happens but somehow things don't get done. Everyday I have a list of things I'd like to do and things that need to be done. Rarely these days do I get through everything on the list and it's frustrating as all heck. I've tried looking at how I spend my time and this is what I've come up with.

168 hours per week:
40.5 at work.
10 travelling to work
52.5 asleep
6 having a cuppa and a sit down when I get in from work.
6 getting up and getting ready for work.
7 eating tea on an evening.
7 at least doing housework.
4 food shopping.


That leaves me 62 hours a week to do all the other things that need doing and anything I may want to do. That is supposedly 8 hours a day. Where the heck are those 8 hours? My day starts at 7 usually and I can account for all the hours up to around 7pm. Bedtime is usually around midnight. I know the time spent on things varies from day to day but I still seem to be missing 3 hours a day completely and badly utilizing the other 5.

I am a great believer in the to-do list. Without mine I would get even less done than I manage now. I find the list of things in my head over whelming and end up doing nothing. With a list I can at least focus on what I should be doing. I wonder if maybe I've been a bit lax with my lists recently and that is why I am all over the place.

I certainly need to focus more. There is just so much to do. I don't want to spend my life in the timesink that is the internet. I want to be making and doing. I want to knit and sew and bake. I want to write and photograph. I want to play games and talk with friends. I want to work and sleep.

Yet somehow I don't do any of that.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Earworms

I get earworms all the time. Don't be alarmed, they're not a parasite from Star Trek. They are songs you just can't get out of your head. I have a folder on my Spotify specifically for them. All the songs in there are ones I have had to listen to at least once a day, every day, for at least a week. I thought I'd share some of them with you so you can be infected too enjoy them as well.

Let's start with my current one. When I went to see Thor TDW one of the adverts was for Assassins Creed: Black Flag. The song on the advert was amazing so I looked it up when I got home. It's called Full Circle and is by a band called Half Moon Run.


Next up is a song By Sarah Donner. I looked her up as she is going to be on JCCC4. Sadly I won't be but the artists that take part in this are usually in my sphere of liking so I thought I'd check her out. She is great. This is my favourite. It's bouncy and just a little bit mad. Please be warned that this is Not Safe For Work!


I've shared some Marian Call with you already but I'm going to share some more. This is my very favourite of her songs and I consider it to be mine and Black Pig's song. It never gets played just once. Usually it's 3 times because by that point our throats are raw as all hell from singing along at full volume. The line "I'm bound for Concord and I'm conquered and betrayed" gives me chills each time. 


Just one more for you. I'm not a huge fan of Lady Gaga but this cover of Bad Romance by 30 Seconds to Mars works for me. It could be my long standing love for Jarad Leto or maybe a slight change in lyrics but I love it.

 

So now I hope you have some new earworms to take home with you. What gets stuck in your head?

Friday, 15 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Bad Habit

Hey guys. Well I know I said I was gonna blog about Marian Call and Scott Barkan today but I'm not. That one is going to wait til Monday when they have finished all their dates in the UK as there are some pictures I want to use but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone else. This leaves me at quite a loss as to what to write about so I'm going to use today's prompt.

If you could quit one bad habit instantly without difficulty, which would it be?

I'd stop apologising. I don't mean all together. Sometimes and apology is needed. But I would stop doing it needlessly at everything. Black Pig tells me off for it all the time and people in my past have too. It's a terrible habit. I apologise for things that aren't my fault and things that do not really need an apology. Why do I do it? That's a hard question to answer. I don't like people being angry with me. I don't like upsetting people. I am more likely to back down and apologise on something than not just to keep the peace and keep that person happy with me. I've done it as long as I can remember. I guess I have always not wanted to run the risk that people will leave.

I'm sure there is some deep Freudian reason behind this but honestly I'd rather not think about it. I'd rather work on stopping the habit. But it's difficult. Any habit is and speech patterns I think are very hard to break. Do you every find yourself over using a word and then you find a new word and the whole thing starts over? This is kind of like that. It's an automatic response. Occasionally I catch myself before it happens but not very often.

Thinking about all the habits that people want to be clear of mine is so no rock and roll hehehe. Ah well, I can live with that.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - A small world

I've been thinking today how small the world is. I complain a lot about technology. It takes me a while to get the hang of it and I get very grumpy while figuring it out. But you can't deny how small it's making the world. I have friends all over the place that I get to "talk" to on a regular basis. Heck I even met a bunch of them thanks to this smallness. People all over the world contributed to my wedding thanks to being able to reach out through the internet and interact with them.

I have learnt a ton of things because people all over the world put this information out there. I found my tribe. Nerds the world over whom I feel comfortable with and who don't judge me or condemn me because they get it! I love this feeling of community, this tight knit group that spreads thousands of miles. Its crazy.

Technology is hopefully going to allow us to share the Marian Call gig tonight with our daughter. She is 3 hours away from us and would have loved to come. It's not the same that's for sure but it's pretty darned good.

I am very old fashioned in many ways and don't spend as much time on technology as many people I know but I would not be without it.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - paper and pen

I was going to talk about the Marian Call and Scott Barkan gig I went to yesterday. However it is 10pm and I am exhausted. It was a very late night (early morning) and I fear I may be getting too old for this ^_^

Today I've been at work all day and I then had a list of things to do. I like having a to do list. Not that I enjoy having things that must be done. I mean and actual physical list. If I don't write down all the things I want to accomplish then I manage nothing. It's like I get overwhelmed with all the things that need doing, can't cope, then don't do anything. I don't always finish everything on my list but it at least give me a sense of direction and allows me to at least focus enough to get some things done.

I've completed today's list. All of it. There is a little voice at the back of my mind telling me I should get on with my Christmas knitting now but I'm going to ignore it. I think there is some serious loafing to be done before passing out for the evening.

I'm at another Marian/Scott gig tomorrow night so hopefully on Friday I will have a full report with pictures for you. In the mean time I leave you with their tribute to good old fashioned pen and paper. I love this song as it speaks to how I feel about these things. Night all!


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - So far

This morning I'm feeling no inspiration at all so it's back to the prompts. 
Tell us what you've learned so far about daily blogging.

I've learnt that I've missed writing. It's been nice to let m y mind wander and just write about stuff. 

I've learnt that it's hard. Take today for example. I really cannot be bothered right now. I want to get on with my knitting but I have no time later to write. I'm going to a Marian Call gig to night (all things willing) aqnd I want to write about that. But clearly that is tomorrow's blog. Right now I have nothing. I'm tired and I don't want to write. 

I've learnt that I do have things to say. It's been ages since I blogged because I had nothing to say. Well guess what, apparently I do! There are a million thoughts running though my head that I want to chat to you about (just none of them are wanting to play today).

I've learnt that I will probably carry on after NaBloPoMo is over. I think I will try and write every day as it's good practice.

Monday, 11 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Modification

I got my first piercing at the age of about 5 or 6. We'd been on holiday to Spain and all the little Spanish girls had their ears pierced. I asked if I could have mine done and my parents foolishly said yes. They assumed I would have forgotten all about it by the time we came home. Nope, not so much. I didn't have anything else done til I was around 14 when I got a 2nd set of earrings in my lobes. Next up was a cartilage piercing in my right ear at about 15ish. Over the next few years I would get an industrial, my left tregus, my belly button and my tongue done.





At 17 and a half I got my first tattoo (with my mother's permission). It was an Ankh and roses on my left hip. By 18 I had a Kanji on my left ankle. Now I will be the first to admit that it does not say what it was supposed to. It was meant to be Immortal but instead it means Hermit. I kinda like it.




Between 18 and 21 I went on to get my left rook pierced and my belly button 3 times more, 1 of which I had to remove. I also had my lip done which I had to remove as well. Between 21 and 31 I have had my lip pierced twice more, once was rejected. My right nipple twice which rejected both times. My right conch twice and my lobes done again. I also had 4 surface piercings over my collarbones which grew out. They were done in 2 sets of 2 and in both cases I let them grow out to the point where hardly anything covered them and then cut them out. I wanted complete scars rather than lines that did not meet you see. One day I would like to get microdermals at the top and bottom of each of them. Currently I have 18 piercings. I also added 5 more tattoos. A symbol on the back of my neck which I have doodled on almost everything since I was 16. A tribalish one at the base of my spine. This one is special in that my best friend at the time bought me it for my 21st birthday after I had bought her the same one for hers. I have an OM symbol on my right wrist and matching pretty patterns on my feet.




I love body modification. I love it on myself and I love it on other people. I hate the hostility people are still met with for having body modifications. I particularly despise it when people disapprove of piercings when they have their own ears pierced. I just don't see how you can be for some and against others. I find it very frustrating in this day and age that people are still asked to cover up tattoos and remove piercing for jobs. The metal in my body and the ink on my skin do not affect my ability to do a job. I get that it is not for everyone. But that is the beauty of being able to modify ourselves like this, or not. We can dye out hair any colour we like, paint our faces and nails. We can decorate ourselves in so many ways and surely we should be encouraged to explore who we are as much as possible.



I hate it when people ask me of my tattoos "But won't they look awful when you are old?". The answer is yes, maybe they will. But I will be able to look at each one and, all things willing, remember where I was and what I felt like at the time. I will remember who I was then and how that relates to who I am now. It doesn't matter that the ink has bled or the skin has sagged. If we did everything now thinking only of when we are old I don't think we would do anything.




Sunday, 10 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Obsessive

I have an obsessive personality. I fall in love with things quickly, hard and completely. I focus on them with an intensity that borders on the insane. I do this with almost all things. Songs, books, films, songs, food, people. I fall in love so hard that these things break my heart. They rip it out and leave be broken and then I fix myself only for it to happen all over again.

It wasn't something I was aware of until I went backpacking after university with a friend. We were in Florance and up on the little plaza over looking the city where there is a replica David an artist had set out some work to sell. I can't remember the technique he had used but the work was wonderful. There was one picture I fell in love with and I got quite sad that I couldn't take it with me. Too big for the backpack you see. One of the guys we were with told me I fell in love to easily.

He was right.

But this is an essential part of who I am. It's the reason I cry at books. It's the reason I wandered around the house for 10 minutes feeling bereft until Black Pig made me hot chocolate after reading the Rama series. It's the reason I feel a swelling in my heart when I see a good sunset, a beautiful building or something so old it boggles the brain. It's the reason I can listen to a song 5 times a day every day until it no longer speaks to me.

It's the reason I never really tried drugs. That way madness lies.

I feel joy and anger and hopelessness keenly and I shift between emotions quickly. I don't think I have ever stopped loving someone though I may have fallen out of love with them. I try not to hate or feel envy as I do these just as intently and it's not worth it.

I love the little details more than the big picture.


Saturday, 9 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - What is in a name?

I have no inspiration today so I am going to go with one of the prompts. If you could change your name what would you change it to and why.

Well this one is easy because I did. I was born a Victoria and I never really liked it. To my parents I was there little victory as they had tried so long to have me. But for me I was one of 3 of that name in my class all the way through Primary School. It didn't get any better at Secondary School either. There were at least 2 of us in every school I went to and I changed schools twice so had 3 sets of classes to deal with. I never knew if anyone was shouting me in the corridor and so quickly stopped turning round at the sound of my name. It was rarely for me.

My best friend and I were I think the only ones in our year growing up who didn't have middle names. We spoke often of adopting middle names. She was going to go with Jude thanks to a huge obsession with River Phoenix. I spent ages looking through names and finally settled on Joelle. It's hebrew and means The Lord is Willing. Willing to do what we do not know ^_^ At 16 our little forms came through for our National Insurance and on there was a space for any additional names. I wrote Joelle there and it's been part of my name ever since. It's on my passport as my middle name and has been on every official document since. The only one it's not on is my birth certificate. This caused some issues registering at university on the first day as my 2 forms of ID were different hehehe. When I went to uni I moved straight into a house rather than dorms. I was the 2nd to last to arrive and there was already a Vicky there. At that moment I decided to go by my middle name and have been either Joelle or Joey ever since. You can date how long someone's known me by what they call me.

I briefly considered changing it officially but didn't as I know it would upset my parents but in my heart I am Joelle. I never liked being a Victoria or a Vicky. It just never felt right. Joelle fits me better. Joey works and I answer to JoJo. Never just Jo. There are a couple of people who call me Jo and it works but most of the time it makes my skin crawl.

There you have it. I am not who I say I am ^_^

Friday, 8 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - All we see of stars are their old photographs

On the way home the other night myself and Black Pig were discussing astronomy. We had just been admiring Jupiter and he had pointed out the Milky Way to me. This was the first time I'd ever seen the Milky Way. I've always loved looking at the stars though there are very few I can identify. Cassiopeia is my favourite constellation.


I used to talk to Orion on my way home. Yes I was a strange young person.

Nebulae are my favourite thing that we can see out there in the universe. They are some of the prettiest things that have ever been created.



But back to our conversation. We were talking about distance and light and how some of the stars we see may not even still be there. At this point Black Pig said something to me that just baked my noodle. Because of the way light travels and how we see things we never really see our selves as we are. We only see ourselves as we were.

WTF!

That concept just blows my mind. To quote Watchmen, all we see of the stars are their old photographs! It's just mad. To never be able to see what is actually there just what was there a tiny moment ago. And not just on the large scale of stars but of the screen I'm looking at now and the hands that are typing. I try and live in the moment and to be truly here as the Buddhist traditions say. But no matter how "here" I am I will never see that with my eyes. I will only feel it.

Madness.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Grumpy

Today I am grumpy. No I am not getting ready for panto season. I am genuinely grumpy. I am hormonal and tired and sick of coughing. I am grumpy.

I spent the walk to work this morning trying to shake myself out of being grumpy. Sure it's raining, again. But look how pretty it is. The sun is shining brightly which makes the rain sparkle. Look over there! An awesome rainbow,. You don't get those without water! All this water falling from the sky means I get clean water to drink, wash myself and my clothes with and all kinds of other things. Sure my shoes aren't waterproof and I currently don't have waterproof shoes but I should  be grateful we get enough water to leave me with soggy feet.

My stomach muscles and my chest hurt from coughing. At least it is only a cold. Sure it's the worst cold I've had in a decade but it is still only a cold. I've not got a terminal illness. I can still go about my daily business.

I'm tired and I don't get an early night tonight. First up is the cinema with my Mum and then visiting friends after a medical appointment. Sure it's not the sit down do nothing evening I'd like right now. But I'm going to love the film and spending time with my Mum. I love visiting these friends. Definitely a better evening than the one I'd give myself right now.

Hormonal? Yeah I have nothing positive about this one so let's pretend I never said it ok? ^_^

Am I still grumpy? A little. But I'm also feeling grateful for the things I have. This is what I try to do every time I feel grumpy or angry or sad. There is so much to feel grateful for in this life that it really annoys me when people don;t even try to see it. We all have days where it just seems the universe is shitting on us and on those days we can't see the good things. But if we all tried a little harder to feel grateful rather than resentful the world would be a much happier place.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Cooking

I love to cook. My Mum and Dad both taught me how. They had very different styles. Dad taught me to cook in the style of Floyd, with a glass of wine on the go. Mum was a little more practical. I baked with Mum when I was small and taste tested chilli for my Dad when I was older. Throughout university I worked a full time job as well as a full time degree. Once a month I would spend  day cooking huge pans of stir fry and curry then freeze it into portions that could be microwaved. They may only have been bought sauces but it meant I ate much better than most of my contemporaries.

All this changed after leaving uni though. I was cooking mostly just for myself and I had decided to become vegetarian. This was for religious reasons and was a terrible mistake. I had no idea how to cook good vegetarian food and pretty much replaced meat with cheese. To say I was fat and unhealthy would be a huge understatement. Once I moved out of that house I got back into the habit of mass cooking and was back on stirfry. Much better but still bought sauces. It wasn't until meeting Black Pig that I learnt how to cook again. He was able to make really good meals on a tiny budget and he encouraged me to experiment with food. The fact that he would eat pretty much anything I put in front of him helped immensly. I stopped owrring about wasting food and started branching out.

So once again I love to cook.

I love nothing more than preparing a meal for several people. The act of feeding people is very primal I think. It gives me great satisfaction to have people leave my table satieated and happy. We have a couple of our friends round quite regularly for dinner and its usually at least a 2 course meal. It takes time to make and time to eat and it is time well spent.

Too often I see parents and children walking to school in a morning with a Greggs sausage roll in hand. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad food as such. It's the eating on the go that bothers me. All you are teaching your children there is that eating is not important. That time management is not important. get up earlier, prep stuff the night before, whatever it takes. Sit down and eat with your family. Make time to eat good food and to connect with both your family/friends and the day itself. Rushing from one thing to the next with only half eaten, barely enjoyed meals to sustain you is not a recipe for goodness.

Right I'm off to continue with tonight's meal of lasagne with leeks rather than pasta. I hope you are all going to have at least one slow meal today. Savour your food and savour your life!


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Pedestrian

I am a pedestrian. I can drive but I choose not to. When I learnt to drive the roads were quieter and people were not such morons. So for the last nearly 14 years I have been a pedestrian and an user of public transport. I like walking places. I usually don't have headphones on and I feel really grounded with the world around me as I walk. Sure an audio book would be better than traffic sounds but there is that disconnected feeling you get when what you hear is not what you see which I don't like.

Recently though I have become a disgruntled pedestrian. I can't help but notice that courtesy has died. When walking down a path wide enough for 2 people I hate encountering 2 or more people coming the other way. Why? Because they generally do not move at all. As I see it you have 3 options. 1. Get in single file thus leaving enough space for everyone to walk. 2. Get half behind each other thus leaving almost enough space for the person coming the other way. 3. Just carry on walking and make the other person either step into the road or get railroaded into a wall. Guess which one seems to happen the most? Yup, option 3. How did this happen? At what point did it become acceptable to make someone step into traffic rather than stop talking to your friend for a moment? I just don't get it.

So there is that. But other than inconsiderate people I still like walking most places. It's getting cold now and my nose tingles as I walk. I'm starting to need to put more layers on. Come Winter time there will be ice to deal with which is always interested. Especially with the hill I have to walk to work. Then in Spring there will be daffodils to spot. And finally Summer when it is just too darned warm to walk that hill ^_^ I think I can put up with a few rude people and still enjoy my walks.

Monday, 4 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Frost

This morning was the first frost that I had noticed this year. I love this kind of day. It was blindingly sunny but cold. The sky was blue and all the frost sparkled like everything had been covered in icing sugar. Autumn is my favourite season for so many reasons. The colours are better. All red and gold and a shade of orange I actually like. The smells are awesome. Dry leaves falling to the ground. Wet leaves slowly rotting. That particular smell that can only be described as cold. You know the one I mean. It makes the inside of your nose hurt slightly but It's brilliant. Everything is changing and I love that. It's the death of the year and that is a beautiful thing. 

In the western world we don't like to think about death. It's something to be feared and avoided at all costs. It saddens me that people think like that. What is life if it doesn't have a conclusion? We expect a good ending from a book or a film but life? Forget it. That must continue on regardless of if the plot is wearing thin. Perhaps we should learn to appreciate the Autumn of our lives more. Enjoy this transitional phase and what it means for us as a person. It means that we have lived. We have left our mark on this world. Hopefully we left it a little happier than we found it. Hopefully we tried each day to make each encounter pleasant. Hopefully we smiled and cried and screamed. Hopefully we lived.

I for one am looking forward to my Autumn. I am grateful for the possibility of having one for a start. I shall wear red and gold and that shade of orange that I like. I shall walk through piles of leaves with a smile on my face and I will not wish to hold back the time. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Sunday

I must have come up with at least 10 things to write about today but now that I'm sat here I don't want to write about any of them. It's Sunday and I've been at work, come home and cooked for me and my husband and chatted to my stepdaughter over Skype. I've showered and now all I want to do is relax. The trouble is deciding what to do to relax. Should I knit or read or one of a million other things I like to do? I could just mess about on the internet. I'm sure we've all wasted hours that way.

I don't know.

I just feel very undecided. It's not boredom. It's having too many things that I enjoy doing.

I get the feeling that reading is going to win out. Maximum enjoyment for minimum effort ^_^

And I think that is today's blog. Low on content and for that I am sorry. But I'm just to darned relaxed to do anything else hehehe

Saturday, 2 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - CouchDate

So one of my friends is very over scheduled. She never seems to have a moment to just relax and do stuff because she wants to rather than because she has to or should do. So she has created an event today called Couch Date 2013. There are 20 of us that have signed up to it. The funny thing is I won't be spending much of it on a couch. So far I've been cooking and washing up. Now I wouldn't choose the washing up as a pleasure but it means that the kitchen is clear for me to cook. And I do enjoy cooking. I have a pan of Goulash slow cooking on the hob right now. This is going to feed me, my husband and 2 of our closest friends this evening. Because this is where CouchDate comes into it's own for me.

The 4 of us will be enjoying our biannual (at least) Buffy Once More With Feeling singalong. I love these days. There are usually 5 of us but the 5th member of our group is currently living in Cambodia. So the 4 of us will soldier on without her. We will sing, or in my case squeak as I've lost my voice (stupid cold!!!!) along to this piece of televisual mastery loudly and badly and enjoy every second of it. It's silly and fun and is truly one of my favourite things to do. I love these people so much. They are part of my tribe. My self chosen family and I would not be without them. They don't judge me when I miss a note. They laugh at the same bits I do. They know the words just like I do.

There are many more relaxing things I could be doing on CouchDate 2013 but none that I will enjoy as much ^_^

Friday, 1 November 2013

NaBloPoMo - Millon Dollars

So a while ago I heard of this thing called NaNoWriMo. Write a novel in a month. Well I was never one for long prose really so it wasn't something I was gonna have a go at. Then some clever clogs came up with the idea of a blog post version. This I could do. But I kept putting it off. This month I'm going to give it a go.

A friend of mine, Josh Cagan, writes for the Yearbook Project. He writes beautiful short pieces from single word prompts. I'm going to try and follow in his footsteps a little and use the prompts supplied by Blogher ^_^ So the first prompt is this:

If you found one million dollars in the morning and had to spend it by nightfall, what would you do with the money?

It's a pretty easy question to answer. I would buy me and DH a house/farm where we could live according to our principles. The rest would go fund the causes I hold close to my heart. With that kind of money I could help so many people. I believe in the UK the maximum you can donate before tax is incurred is £10,000. Just think of all the different causes I could help. Sure, in a single day I could buy me and mine a lot of things. But here is the rub; We don't really need them.

I spend a lot of time thanking the universe for my luck. I have had rough spots and things have been close before. But I have never been without a roof over my head and food in my belly. I have never been in fear of my life. I have never truly wanted for anything. The older I get the more I feel that I have everything I need and all the rest is just want. So I would spend the money on others, try to get them to a place where they can feel like I do.

I haven't been given a million sadly. But I am doing what I can. For my next birthday I am refusing presents and would like to raise money for MSF/DWB which is a charity I admire greatly. If you would like to donate to that cause please consider doing so by clicking the button below. Think about something you would usually buy because you want it, rather than need it. A coffee on the way to work. A magazine. That computer game that you probably won't play. Donate that amount and help someone get something they need ^_^


JustGiving - Sponsor me now!


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Educating me

Today it took me about an hour to read this article. It's not that long or particularly complicated. It took me so long because I had to stop reading every so often because I was overcome with emotion. I felt anger, pity and am immense sense of being very lucky.

I am lucky because I am a woman with a university degree. I did not have to fight for this right. I did not have to speak out against anyone and I certainly did not have to risk my life to get it. I simply chose to do it.

Just a choice.

But it is a choice we take for granted here. We do degrees in random things that don't really benefit anyone and we go to university for the experience rather than the education. Don't get me wrong, the experience is a vital part of uni and if I were in charge I would make people move out of home when they go just so they can learn to stand on their own feet. The point I am trying to make is that there are people, girls in particular, who are fighting to get an education because they want to better themselves. They want to be more than just a mother. They want to help themselves and their countries to be better.

And they want this even though it risks their lives.

I felt humbled reading this article. I felt grateful for the fact that I do not have to wage this war as it has already been done for me. And I realised that I hope my daughter realises how lucky she is and makes the most of her education, pushing herself to be the best that she can. In the world at the moment it is both a privilege and a right!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

On Wednesday I picked up a new book from the library despite telling myself I wanted no new books for a while. But I just had to read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. I've like Neil Gaiman for a few years now. Sandman is epic and American Gods was a brilliant read. But it was reading Amanda Palmer's blog about the book which made me really want to get it.

I am so glad I did.

I will try my best to talk about it without spoilers. It should be easy to do. You see, what is good about the book is not the story. It's the feeling I was left with afterwards. I felt sad and a little bit lost. I felt like the teenager I was an still am in many ways. This book left me remembering every time I had felt lonely or scared. Every time I had felt small in the face of the universe. Every time I had felt that I knew nothing and everything at the same time.

When I finished the book I cuddled up to my husband and laid my head on his chest just so I could hear his heartbeat. I needed to be grounded. I needed to be pulled back into my present and away from my past. Because, for me, that is what this book is about. The past. Our individual pasts. It doesn't matter who the book is about or what happens to them. This book could be about each and every one of us and how we felt as a child, as a teenager and even as an adult. It's about when we felt small.

There is so much more to say about this book but I don't have the language to do it. There are not words enough to describe it's beauty. You should go read it for yourselves. Now.

I'll be here with a hug when you're done.

Friday, 9 August 2013

A Rainbow of protest

It's been a while since I blogged but there is something I want to talk about. I say talk but I mean shout. I mean get on my soapbox and berate the world until it listens to me. But I know that is not the way to go about these things so I will talk.

I will talk about Russia and their new laws banning the promotion of "non-traditional relationships". We keep hearing stories of violence, intolerance and bigotry happening in Russia. And what do we do? We give them the 2014 Olympic games. 

Now forgive me if I'm wrong but hosting something like the Olympic games is an honour. It brings revenue and a certain amount of status to your country. It is a sign of support for your country by all who take part. So why are we rewarding a country that is marginalising part of it's population?

The first 2 points of the Olympic Charter read thusly:

1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the 
qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism 
seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good 
example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development

of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the 
preservation of human dignity.

I don't see how the IOC can say they are upholding these ideals if the games go ahead in Russia. 

So now to the protest part. I would dearly like to send a message to Russia that the above is not ok by inundating their embassies with Rainbows. The rainbow insignia is effectively illegal in Russia now due to it's association with LGBT rights. So I'm calling all knitters and crocheters, all sewers and cross stitchers, all artists and sculptors. Anyone who can put crayon to paper. Make a rainbow, make several, and send them to any and all embassies. Send them daily, weekly, whenever. Here is a list of all the addresses.

To send directly to Putin the address is 23, Ilyinka Street, Moscow, 103132, Russia. It must be addressed to the President of Russia or the Presidential Executive Office.

Spread the word!


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Blue sky feeling Blue

So it was a good day and a bad day.

The sky was brilliant blue and it was bright and cold. The perfect kind of day. The house was filled with sunbeams that the cat followed around. I drank tea and ate cookies. I sewed and scalded my finger tips ironing seams.

It was pointed out to me that I will probably never go on a JCCC again. There is this whole atmosphere that I will probably never feel again. I felt lost at that. I spent a week with these amazing people, many of whom I now call friend. Some are even family almost. The thought of never seeing them again physically pains me.

But I am reminded of how wonderful the world is now. The internet means I can talk to them every day either in text or skype. I can share photos of our lives. The world is in many ways a lot less lonely than it was when I was younger. I may not be able to reach out and touch these people, to share hugs and desserts. But I can be part of their lives. Perhaps having to communicate this way will help me improve my writing and photography just so I can communicate better.

I love you guys. I miss you!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Right then

Ok so that's that done. Now for the blogging. So it's been a while (again). I keep saying I'm gonna write and then I don't. I've been hung up (again) on writing something of import. Of having the perfect photo to go with the blog. Of course I never have anything epic to say and therefore nothing to photograph.

I've just been on JCCC3. It was amazing. Really I looked up the correct definition of amazing and that's what it was. But I'm not going to talk about that here. I'm just going to mention one tiny part of it and that is the Writers Panel. People who write books and blogs and comedy shows. The one thing I took away from it is if you want to write then you have to write. Doesn't matter what or how good it is or even if someone is going to read it. You just have to suck it up and get on with it.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to make any foolish promises of how often I'll blog which I'll then break. I'm just going to try my best. You may end up reading some terrible crap (poetry included, keep your eyes on Words of Affi'enia) but hopefully some good will come of it too.  

The Byronic Hero - or why we love the bad guys

Reposted from another blog. Original post date 16th May 2012

Be warned there will be spoilers for Labyrinth, Wuthering Heights, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Thor and The Avengers here. This is a favourite subject of mine and has been for a long time. I thought I would revisit is since the subject has got a lot of attention at the moment thanks to Loki's Army? What's that, you've not heard of it? Clearly you do not tweet :o) Fangirls and boys the world over are unable to get enough of The Avengers villain, Loki. Now in a film with a whole team of good guys and girls of all different flavours why is the bad guy so popular? Let's have a look at some of my favourites and I'll see if I can explain. Ok let's go right back to the first baddie that captured me at the tender age of 4. You're right, I probably didn't realise it at the time, but I have stayed faithful to my love of this villain. Jareth. 
He is definitely a villain. Steals children, cheats at the game etc. But look at it from another view point. He is an intelligent man/goblin surrounded by goblins he clearly feels are beneath him. He's alone playing a game he always wins because no one is good enough to beat him. What's a Goblin King to do? And then along comes this young woman who actually challenges him. You can tell by the way he looks at her that she captivates him. And suddenly he is turning the world upside down for her. He is trying to be good to make her like him and failing miserably. Which means we now empathise with him and start to like him. 

Next up is Heathcliff. Almost the archetypal Byronic hero. He is a dark skinned gypsy brought to live with the Earnshaw family. Resented by all the family except for Cathy he is off to a bad start in life. At this point he has done nothing wrong apart from be different. He is a child who is just in need of love. He grows up loving Cathy and they are thick as thieves, clearly in love. However Cathy betrays Heathcliff and chooses to marry another. This sets him down a disastrous path on which he becomes cruel and determined to destroy Cathy, her husband and child and his own wife and son. Clearly at this point he is at the very least an anti-hero if not a villain but you can't help but sympathise with him. 


My next choice is Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He starts of as a Big Bad in season 2. He's a vampire and he loves it. Death and destruction are merely fun diversions for him. However over the next 6 seasons we learn a lot about him. We see how as a human in the 1850s he as ridiculed by society for his awful poetry and derided by the woman he loves. We see him be turned into a vampire and begin cutting a bloody swathe across the world trying to prove himself. We see him try and fail to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in Sunnydale. We see him fall in love and regain his soul. We see him become a champion. But even at the end, when he is in full champion mode, he is still a bit of a git and that is why we love him. He is snarky and bad and is just as likely to get you drunk and steal your wallet as he is to save your life. But the gamble is what makes it fun. 


Which brings me back to Loki. Filmverse wise we meet him in Thor. He is the younger brother of Thor, son of Odin. Quieter, not interested in fighting, full of magic and glib lies. Desperately wanting to match his brother in his father's eyes. Already he is the underdog and our heartstrings are pulling. Add to the mix the discovery that he is adopted and is actually the child of a Jötunn, a race despised by all in Asgard. The shock of this throws a man who was likely to play pranks that bordered on the malicious into a spiral that lands him fully in the role of villain. Determined to outshine his brother once and for all he concocts a plan to rid the universe of the Jötunns forever. Of course, since the bad guys never win, it fails. The last we see of Loki in this film is what can only be described as his suicidal fall into the abyss. 
When we next see him he is trying to take over Earth. Much death and destruction and we really should despise him by now. I mean, listen to this: 

“Kneel before me. I said… KNEEL! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.” 

Ego much? But all the way through the film you can't help but feel for him. His struggle with The Other and the Chitauri, his desperation to be worshipped, that moment when you really feel he is gonna give up and go home with his brother. Now I am not saying for a moment that what he has done is justified. But he is far too complex to just say "he's the villain". He is dangerous and evil, as likely to rip your face of as pass you a drink and despite that I want to take him home and feed him pie. I want to tell him he is worthy, that he is loved. I want to make him realise that he can step out of Thor's shadow whenever he is ready to. 


The wonder of wikipedia lists the characteristics of the Byronic hero here. The ones that lead to us loving these characters in my opinion are Disrespectful of rank and privilegeEmotionally conflicted, bipolar, or moodySeductive and sexually attractive and Socially and sexually dominant. Thus concludeth my mini treatise on the Byronic Hero or why we love the bad guys. I think I will be coming back to this subject another day when I put more thought into it.

The one I've been putting off

Reposted from another blog. Original post date 10th April 2012

So I've been planning on writing this one for a couple of years now. It is so not going to live up to the expectation, I promise you. I've been putting it off because I want to do it justice, because it's probably going to upset someone and because it's a really hard one to write. So I apologise in advance for the rambling manner of this one. I'd like to make it structured but if I put it off for any longer it's just not going to get written.

Ok let's start. I am 30 years old and childless, at least as far as most folks are concerned. I have my beautiful stepdaughter who, to me, is my daughter. But in reality she is mine by accident not by birth. It doesn't make the relationship any less real or mean any less but it is a fact. I am not her mother. I did not carry her for 9 months. Nor will I carry any child. Not because I can't, as far as I know, but because I made a choice. When I met my fiancee he told me very early on in the relationship that he had a daughter and did not want any more children. In fact he had already had a vasectomy. So if children were a plan for my future then this was probably not the relationship for me. Wow. Heck of a thing to deal with at 24 years old and 1 week into a possible something. But I thought about it and decided that I was already falling in love with this man and should give it a go. Well it worked out as you can tell and we get married this year. 

It was amazing how many people told me at the beginning that I could change his mind on the children thing. Drove me up the wall I can tell you. Firstly what on earth made them think I could? He was pretty young to make that decision and clearly had good reason to plus he had told me plenty in advance where things stood. Secondly what made them think I should?

Because it is every woman's right to have children. Or that is the perception. This is why women too old to conceive naturally are given access to IVF. This is why anyone who would not be able to, or would at least struggle to conceive naturally is given access to IVF. Now this is not going to turn into a rant against IVF. My personal stance is against it, I will admit. I do feel the planet is over populated, we don't look after the people we have got well enough and almost every ecological and financial problem on the planet could be fixed by less people. I would rather see an increase in adoptions and fostering.

No this is not that rant. This is a discussion of my feelings about my lack of childbearing. Do I think I made the right decision? Totally. I could leave him tomorrow, meet someone else and even be lucky enough to fall in love as much again. But there are no guarantees of children. So why would I risk it? Do I regret the fact that I am not going to have a child of my own? Sometimes. More recently than ever, I guess that is the clock talking. I guess that is why I am finally writing this. 

If I take a step back and am rational about it I'm not sure I'd be a good parent. I'm not the most patient woman on earth. I'm quite self involved. But the fact that no one is ever going to call me mother or mum or momma does bother me. I'm never going to get to pick out clothes or sit at a parents evening. I'm never going to be the one called for when they have a nightmare or a skinned knee. So yeah, for all my talk of loving borrowing other people's children because you can give them back when they leak I am going to miss not having this experience.

And it is the experience that is key to these feelings. To take a Pratchett moment I get to be Magrat and Granny Wetherwax but not Nanny Ogg. I am missing a key part of the experience of being a woman. Or am I? Who is to say that nature ever intended me to be a mother? I could be sat here writing this because I am unable to bear children not because I have chosen not to. 

So most days I am content with my lot. I have a gorgeous stepdaughter who loves me unconditionally. This year I got a mother's day card that actually said mother's day, not stepmother's day. It made me smile all day. I am going to get to watch her grow up, help shape the person she becomes. I am positive that all the experiences she will gift me with are worth the lack of stretch marks and the sleepless nights and nappies that I have missed.

Honestly, I am probably gonna go cry for a bit after writing this and I'm sure I will cry over this again. But you know what? That's ok. It is not a crime to feel some regret. As long as you focus on the joy.

Thanks for listening!