Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Four days in one...

There are some things in this world which I can talk/write/read about for hours. I mean, I will chew your ear off about them so much that by the time I'm done I'll be looking at a dusty old skeleton. The next few topics, however, are quite the opposite. I actually have very little to say on them.

How important you think education is...

Normally education is something I can mouth off about for days on end. It's something everyone's got an opinion on. However, for this particular question, I'm not going to ramble because the answer should be blindingly obvious. Education is of paramount importance, we should never stop learning, and we should be bloody well greatful we have the systems in place here in the UK/whichever economically well developed country you happen to be reading from. People take for granted what we have. There is no such thing as being too well informed. A good set of GCSE's isn't exactly difficult to come by and gives you a fair grounding to begin life with, yet even these seem to be like gold dust to some people.

It isn't "indoctrination" or "brainwashing" as some would believe it to be. Go through it and then spend the rest of your life ignoring it for all I care, just go and get it in the first place. I hope to continue education, whether formally or informally on my own time (hooray for wikipedia LOL...no, wikipedia is not a form of education and shame on you for allowing me to make you think it is! Go read a book, lazy!) till the end of my days.

Today, for example, I educated myself in a very important topic. The importance of proof reading your CV before sending it off. But I digress...

One of your favourite shows...

Only one? But there are so many! Well, let us settle for that which we are all waiting with baited breath for at the minute...

How have you changed in the past two years?

Hmmmm. Good question. I'm a little less neurotic I suppose and a lot more prone to bringing back any alcohol I may have recently consumed. 

Pictures of five famous guys I find attractive...

 Sorry Ben, but you're not famous yet :p

Even already hot guys like Alexander Skarsgard can be improved with long golden hair...

Something about the blonde dead look really does it for me. Peter Facinelli is pretty hot in general though, even when playing the dark haired Doctor Cooper.

Prof. Brian Cox. And yes, that is his wife, who is not half bad herself. But all men look good in a tux, hence the choice of picture. All the best men are married or gay...

...Or F1 world champions...
Gotta love those F1 world champions....

What have we learned today, boys and girls? Study hard, become sexy doctors, or learn to drive really fancy cars really really fast. Oh, and stay out of the sun.

Monday, 28 March 2011

More changes?

As much as it was fun to play with the grungy rusty look before, it really didn't fit in with the feel of my blog so I've come up with this replacement with its pretty and much more feminine accents. I'm keeping the layout, since I quite like the way it's set out. I'm undecided about the boxes that the posts sit in...on the one hand, it keeps everything easy to read and nice and neat, but on the other hand I don't think it's a terribly difficult background to read off of anyhow...

Anyway, I'd love to know what people think, so drop me a line :) I personally think it's a mahoosive improvement!

Seven random facts

So over the weekend the wonderful Caity over at The Skinny On Me tagged me in for the "Seven Random Facts Blog Awards", a lovely little tag your friends and pass it on meme that's been going around.

Sadly I'm a silent lurker of blogs. There are a couple that I comment on from time to time, but despite appearences I'm actually quite shy online.

I know what you're thinking; Bex, shy on the internet? Well...yes. It's one thing to rant away on my blog, that's what it's there for after all, and on forums and the such, they are also there to take my thoughts...but elsewhere? There are a few things that get me riled up enough to comment, or if I've commented before perhap's I have the nerve to do so again.

But seriously, this is the reason why I only have 60 odd friends on facebook...I get so paranoid and shy that I get trigger happy and prune down only to those people that either I actually want to keep on there, or for reasons that I'll call "social expectations" I can't really get away with deleting.

Anyhow, what I'm basically trying to do is make myself not sound as sad as I would do if I just said straight out "Oh my, I don't know seven bloggers well enough to tag".

So with my little excuse as to why there won't be seven wee tags down at the botton, without further ado I present to you...

*Drum Roll*

Random Fact One: I cannot keep bread in the house. Some may say chocolate and pizza and such things are a dieters number one enemy, but I personally don't keep a staple ammount of these foods in my cupboards as people in general keep bread. I might get in a pack of bread rolls over the weekend for bacon butties or a baguette for my Friday night treat, but it must only be as much as I need. If I get a loaf of bread, I will just sit and eat it all, either as toast or bread and butter or if I have anything in to do so a yummy sandwich. Who would figure that plain old bread and butter is so addictive and yummy? If it is freshly baked as opposed to the airy mass produced stuff, I can eat it even without butter or spread. As another friend who has the same kind of love of bread as I do said; "I can sit and eat it like a bar of chocolate".

Random Fact Two: I'm allergic to cats, dogs, small rodents, dust, mould, hay, grass, certain kinds of tree pollen...but not flowers (Except, for some strange reason, Lillies). This really perplexes and frustrates my Granny. My perpensity for sneezing at "normal" household levels of dust winds her up. She will rush around closing up the windows and then she'll get frustrated and go on and on about there not being any flowers in the house. If I call her up and happen to sneeze (as I am prone to do) she'll ask if I've got flowers in the house. Yes or no matters not. Sorry Gran, I'm just not allergic to flowers!

Random Fact Three: I hold terrible grudges for the most unworthy things. I try my best to let them go. They aren't healthy, and they aren't nice. I feel they make me a worse, more bitter person, so I try not to keep hold of them. But I can't help it. One recent example of this is that someone who happened once to pick on me for my appearence when we were about 11 or 12 years of age and actually made me quite upset at the time found an old photograph of himself aged maybe 15 and laughed that it was no wonder he used to get picked on. I actually physically guffawed. The cheek of it! I stewed over it for days, if they got picked on it was nothing to what they did to me when we were younger still. I would like to think I'm "over" things that happened so long ago. Some people I have even more reason to hold grudges...it wasn't just picking on, for example, it got physical a couple of times, or perhaps with others we were older and it was practically warfare for a period of time but then we got over it and repaired our friendship, yet these people I don't hold grudges for. It confuses me as to why I can let go of the big stuff but not the small stuff.

Random Fact Four: My engagement ring is not diamond, it is opal. Ben and I picked it together. We had "agreed" that we were getting married as opposed to him popping the question randomly, and he was worried about picking something I'd like. I never wanted a diamond engagement ring, as much as diamonds are pleasant to the eye I much prefer something that's coloured a little more interestingly if that makes sense. My opals are white, but they sparkle with a rainbow sheen, they are so pretty! I later found out that opals are used in crystal healing to promote love and fidelity, so all in all I think we chose a pretty apropriate engagement ring!

Random Fact Five: Ben did eventually "pop" the question. We had to order in the ring and I recieved it at our engagement party which we held because we expected it to be a long engagement and we wanted to have a little shin dig in the meantime. He told me I'd be getting my ring then, but I told him straight he'd better not ask me in front of everyone. I'm no good with things like that! He respected my wishes and pulled me into the fire escape of our venue, a little pub in Liverpool called The Pilgrim (which is possibly the most awesome pub in the world, if you ever visit Liverpool it should be high on your list for a place to get a drink!) and got on one knee and asked me to marry him. I obliged and said yes (of course!) without even being tempted to wind him up. It was difficult...but I managed to resist the urge to say "mmmm well I don't know..." hehehe

Random Fact Six: I have to schedule in cleaning time. I know exactly what I'm going to do any given day. Even if I have nothing else to do all day (and could thus feasibly spend the whole time doing chores) I will not do anything of the sort unless it's scheduled in on my cleaning calendar. I spend at least half an hour just picking through my calendar each day, whilst I build up to do it. It may seem like a huge waste of time to do that, it could be an extra half hour doing the chores in the first place, but it's actually rather brilliant as before I started doing this I just didn't do anything unless I absoloutely had to. Now the flat is respectable and I don't feel embarrassed having friends over, so it's all worth it in the end!

Random Fact Seven: A lot of kids have imaginary friends or pets. I had an imaginary herd of reindeer, and they used to pull me in my imaginary sledge to my Grannys house every week, even in the middle of summer. I kinda miss them...wish we could all be kids again!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Disrespecting your parents

One of my best friends in the world was born into a muslim family in a muslim country. Even though her father was a fully fledged, typical English gentleman, he had converted and integrated into the local community, and the family was raised under the watchful eye of her mother who held strong convictions about the faith. Even if she was not the perfect muslim, her children would be.

And so when the family moved to England, the patriarchal homeland as it were, this culture persevered. Father worked abroad for much of the year, and mother took care of the brood in, as I suspect is the case with all mothers, the only way she knew how. This included a hearty respect for parental authority, and instilling of many of the cornerstones of the islamic tradition.

When I first met Laila at University, we were all suprised that she was muslim. I suppose many of us had been brought up to think of muslim women as all wearing the hijab and being of middle eastern appearence, but we were still young and naive to the ways of the world. We would soon see her struggling through Ramadan (although when it came to Eid, she would see me struggling to cook rice when I attempted to "help" her out!) and turning her nose up at alcohol. We would very soon come to see for ourselves the force of nature that was her mother.

The first time I saw her mother was when I woke up in her bed (Laila's, not her mums!). It was actually completely innocent! It all began the previous night, which happened to be Friday. We'd been out and about on a wonderful night, and by the time we all got back to my place (Which happened to be the closest of any of our places to where we'd been partying) it was pretty late. Someone, probably me, thought it would be an excellent idea to stay up all night until sunrise. This was a little silly since it was winter and sunrise was quite late, but we all figured our youthful stamina and copius ammounts of caffeine would aid us.

We took it in turns to nap on my bed and play on my computer. We listened to music and talked, frankly, shit. Then we all went outside to climb up onto the hill at the end of St James' cemetary which backs onto the Anglican Cathedral. This particular spot homes a rose garden and looks out over the Mersey. Of course that is completely the wrong direction to watch the sunrise, but the river looked beautiful in the red gold, and stood in the shadow of the Cathedral there was an eerie peace. Laila and I would meet in the rose garden on many an occassion if we sought solitude and peaceful reflection. I kinda miss living in what was Cathedral Campus simply because it was always there.

After appreciating the sunrise, Laila suggested we go back to her place which was right in the middle of town for a slap up cooked breakfast. Well after a night out and all night vigil, none of us were going to say no to that, so off we went. She served us turkey bacon and fried egg sandwiches (being muslim, she could not eat pork after all) which were quite yummy. She then had to go to work, and our friends went their seperate ways.

I would have to trek all the way back to the Cathedral, but this posed a bit of a problem. We were all slaughtered after our night out, and I was supposed to be meeting Laila that afternoon because her mother and brother were coming for a visit and I'd been invited to go for dinner with them. It would be the first time I'd met any of my University friends families, and I wanted to make a good impression. I knew that by the time I walked all the way home I would collapse into my bed and not wake up till way after I was supposed to meet them. Laila came up with the perfect solution; she had to work anyway, so I could just sleep in her bed. She would wake me up when she got back and we'd be good to go.

So I settled down. The bed was much comfier than the old rickety thing I had in Cathedral Campus, and it was suprisingly lovely and quiet above the city as opposed to in my shared house where there were constant comings and goings and the peal of the Cathedral Bells. In little to no time I was in one of the deepest sleeps I've ever had (I'm a very light sleeper).

Something woke me up. It was probably the front door, or voices. All I remember was thinking Oh, that sounds like Laila is back...that must be her housemate with her, voices I don't recognise... and then the unfamiliar voice of a young man was in the room with me. I was suddenly very wide awake and I opened my bleary eyes. Looming over me was a very puzzled looking asian woman and her son. Laila was no where to be seen.

Suffice to say, Laila had come home to find them on her doorstep and hadn't had the chance to explain that I was there. I mumbled an appology saying I'd been a guest and Laila had offered her bed while she was out instead of having to trail back home. Nevertheless no awkward questions were asked (not to me, anyway!) and we all went out together for dinner that evening.

The next day, Laila was upset. Her mother had, apparently, had a go at her not just about the fact that I was in her bed (an undersandable concern I suppose) but also some things I'd mentioned over the dinner table. She was apparently shocked that I'd chosen to come to Liverpool to "get away from my family and become more independant" when I should have been a dutiful daughter and stayed at University closer to home to be with my parents. This irked and suprised me. How could Laila possibly be to blame for this, how could her mother possibly justify shouting at her about a choice I made before I even met her?

Our friendship group would learn very quickly that her mother had strong opinions on where family came in anyone's sphere of priorities and we'd see that Laila, through growing up as a dutiful and loving daughter, would find it hard to break free of the limits her mothers attitudes imposed upon her.

I've shared Laila's story with you because I don't think anyone from my culture or background would see anything that Laila does as disrespecting her parents. To me, she has never been anything but family oriented, loving and dutiful. Yet, five years on, she's still harrassed in some ways. It wasn't until recently that she's been able to come back to Liverpool without asking her mothers permission in a round about way. When she does come, her mother seems to think that Ben and I are going to lure her into some perverse threesome (I wonder if finding me in her daughters bed has anything to do with that, come to think of it!). She is expected to visit her mothers homeland with her soon, and it would be quite disrespectful for her not to do so.

Since this respect is so important to her mother, Laila has to be careful in some of the things she does. She counts herself as an athiest these days, a huge leap from the meek muslim character I first met, and she sneaks pork based hotdogs home to snack upon, or indulges in a full, all pigs included, English breakfast at the work canteen. Many would think this is nothing, but to Lailas mother? Highly disrespectful indeed.

But then, I think we've all disrespected our parents to one degree or another, whether this be disregarding their strongly held cultural and religious attitudes, trying out weed for the first time, cussing under our breaths, talking back.

I'm certainly no angel. For a time when I was seventeen, I dated a guy a couple of years older than me who didn't want to go home to his family. I don't know why, he was always very evasive when I asked him about it. I met his brother once, and his father happened to come by too, and they all seemed very nice, but he would not go home. Something about his step mother.

Anyhow, part of how he dealt with not going home was to stay at other peoples places if he could get away with it. He did stay at my place every other weekend. One weekend I asked if he could stay and my father said no, he'd been over quite a lot and in fairness to my parents they wanted to be able to relax without near enough strangers in the place. My boyfriend, however, pretty much refused to leave. By which I mean he wasn't invited home in the first place but tagged along anyhow "just for a few hours". Then when it was time to go he always managed to "miss the bus". He dropped hints...oh I may as well just stay here the night...things like that...of course my parents aren't stupid, they knew what he was up to. Eventually he tried to plead that he couldn't possibly go home, and then told me if he did go back to Stockton (where he was from...a good hours drive from my parents place) he'd have to stay on the street all night.

Of course naive little me thought he was being serious about this and got really upset. I was angry at him, of course, for not just going home since it was there, he had a bed, he even admitted it himself. And I was scared that he would end up sleeping in some rough city centre bus depot. I mean, we weren't in love but still, I cared for him and I didn't want that. I pleaded to my parents in tears, and that really got to my dad.

Without raising his voice or becoming confrontational at all, he told him straight; you either go and get the bus now or Bex's mum will drive you back to Stockton, but you aren't staying here. He huffed and said "fine, you can drive me". Obviously he thought that on the way he could somehow convince my mother to say that he could stay. He was wrong of course; even if she would have been swayed, my dad is no doubt head of our household, and once he has put his foot down there is no going back.

He gave his little sob story in the car, his voice wavering. He claimed that he'd slept on a bench before so he'd be ok, but there was no way he was going home. It would only be one night he'd need to stay because he was feeling ill. Me in tears begged him to go home. Oh, he just couldn't, he said. It wouldn't be possible. They all hated him.

This lasted all the way until I just stopped talking to him. He would chirp up pathetically every now and then, but I was worried about what my father was going to say to me when I got home. Finally, we got to a roundabout on the edge of Stockton where my mum would have to either turn off to go to his house, or go straight into town where he'd said he'd stay the night. She asked him straight, where did he want to go. In a voice that was clearly angry, frustrated and generally pissed off, he chose (suprise suprise) home.

I got out the car to see him off, and he did indeed go into his house. My mum gave me a knowing look. Of course he would always have chosen home. I was kind of relieved, but kind of angry. If I'd had anything about me, or if I'd had the maturity and sense that I have now, I'd have had nothing more to do with him. He was manipulative and pathetic. My parents made it clear they didn't want me seeing him anymore. Not by forbidding it, they couldn't do that and they knew it, but by forbidding him from coming to the house anymore.

They deserved respect, respect that he did not show.

They were right, of course. And him not coming to the house would make it difficult to see each other, especially since they knew of his home situation. They wouldn't just let me stay at any old Tom, Dick or Harry's place so we could spend the night together, they were trying to stop that.

Didn't stop me anyway. He lived in Stockton...I said I was staying at another friend in Stockton. She, ironically, was the one who introduced us, and by the end of it was as adament to try and split us up as my parents. She knew nothing of it. One time she did spot us together and she promptly called me to ask about it. Why was I with him? I knew what he was like, we all did...

I suppose hormones is why I was with him. I didn't necissarily have the greatest relationship with my parents then and it was great fun to defy them in that way. Strange mens houses who he happened to be staying with, seedy B&B's in Darlington (which he paid for). I don't know how much they suspected, I suspect they weren't as stupid as I gave them credit for. If they did suspect anything, they certainly didn't say anything.

Oh, nothing untoward ever happened. I met a lot of interesting people and we shared interesting stories. The guy I was seeing and myself had great fun together. But it was still stupid, and probably a little dangerous. If I found out my daughter had been doing these things I would be mortified. But either they didn't find out or they chose not to mention it.

It didn't last long anyhow. I know it sounds like it did, but actually after the incident with my parents it only lasted another month or so, maybe two. I'm not proud of what I did, I'm not telling you this to brag. I just feel like a bit of a fool to be honest. It all ended shortly after he asked me to marry him. Bear in mind that at this point we would have been going steady four months max, probably only three months in all, and I'd known him maybe only a week or so longer. He asked me in the street and I said no, because I barely knew him enough. He said if we loved each other, it didn't matter...at that point I began to worry, because really I didn't love him. He was sex on tap, and I have the libido of a rabbit. The sweet nothings whispered into each others ear were pleasantries and great boosts to the ego...but love?

He was lying, I found out not long after his proposal that he'd been cheating and he didn't deny it. What was worse was that the girl in question was underage, only a couple of years older than my sister, and he was nearly twenty. I felt sick. I called him up and told him I didn't want to see him ever again. I never did, and he only ever tried to get back in touch via the proto-social network of the day a year later (where he proclaimed that he was engaged to the girl of his dreams). He said he wanted to meet up for drinks. I told him to fuck off.

Depending on your outlook, holding onto this relationship was either the worst thing I've done to disrespect my parents, or the least bit. In my view it's one of the worst things I've done that I'm prepared to admit in public on the internet. I'm not proud, I cringe to myself when I think about it. Indeed, I try not to think about it for the shame.

I think this kind of rebellion is natural and normal. The kind of upbringing and relationship you have with your parents will dictate how far you go. Laila's disrespect may seem nothing at all to me, but something she does off hand may make her feel as guilty as looking back at my pathetic ex boyfriend does to me. It's all a matter of perspective. In both cases, we've been after the "forbidden fruit". For her it's pork, for me it was a certain someone.

We can say it's bad to disrespect our parents, and maybe that's true. I do my best not to do it now, in fact they of all people are the people I hold in highest regard these days. Still it would be foolish to try and snuff out adolescent rebellion all together, or deny that it exists. Whether or not you like it, it will always be there.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

I believe...I believe I can fly!

Haha. No, I don't really believe I can fly, but today is day 18 and asks me to write down my beliefs. Well, you already know, loosely I guess, what my religious beliefs are, so instead of flogging a dead horse, I'll share some of my more general beliefs on the human condition.

I believe that whilst it's great to have dreams, you need to temper them with realism.

I believe a little bit of pessimism never hurt anyone (too much on the other hand is detrimental to your health)

I believe you aren't born inherently good or evil, and most of your life you will sit somewhere in the middle. Some people, however, are predisposed to extremes of one or the other.

I believe that even without logic or reasoning to justify it, it's only right and good and honorable to help others who need aiding.

I believe that there is more to the human experience of emotions such as love than just chemical imperatives designed to make us breed.

I believe in the importance of art and literature. Without these, we would know little of those who have gone before us. Red tape and diligent record keeping is not good enough. The art of the day speaks of much more than how many cattle Lord Cowfarmerperson of Historytimeville might have kept in any given summer.

I believe it is important to know of those who have gone before us to understand how we got to where we are now, and better understand ourselves. The more we understand ourselves, the better we can improve ourselves.

I believe that too many people fail to use their own brains and will believe anything they are told if they trust the source well enough. I do not believe such people are manipulated into being that way, but that people use the fact that they are that way to manipulate them.

And last but not least, here's one Ben will apreciate...I believe we should all open ourselves up to criticism in our endeavours that we may not necissarily appreciate or agree with. Only through such criticism will we become truly talented, rounded individuals.

Just my thoughts for the day :)

In other news...man but I'm so bored today, which is a shame because it's an absoloutely gorgeous beautiful day outside! I'd take a picture to show you, but right outside my flat are two schools, so whichever way I could look to take the picture people might think I'm some kind of evil creep. You'll just have to take my word for it that outside is just amazing. Not cold at all, but not so hot as to make me irratible just yet. Still, nothing a nice breeze couldn't improve! Anyhow, yes, I got up nice and early and I've been scrubbing and cleaning and tidying all day (hooray for spring cleaning!), but I've run out of my trusty flash with bleach (I use this on just about everything) and I can't get more until tomorrow. So I'm sat twiddling my thumbs. I might, at this rate, even resort to bicarb and vinegar (the oven top NEEDS scrubbing!) even though I know from personal experience that whilst it works (and rather admirably too) it does leave the place smelling of a fish and chip shop...

Well, perhaps I'll leave it for now and declutter the shelf under the coffee table. Or perhaps I'll just sit and enjoy the warm weather with a good book and some awesome summer tunes. It's a shame we live in an inner city flat and don't have an outside space, but with all the blinds and windows open, it isn't too bad in here.

I hope it's a lovely sunny day wherever you may be, and that whatever you may be up to today you're appreciating it as much as I am!

Day Seventeen - The years highs and lows

I've been tugging around with this one all day. See, the past year if we're honest was hard. It was so, so very hard in many ways. It wasn't without its good days, and in some ways we've had worse years. It's hard to look back on a year and paint it black or white. I was always a very "shades of grey" kind of person. That said, I think the past year would have been a very dark grey indeed.

And so in the spirit of not mulling over things that have been mulled, chewed, spat out and chewed over yet again, I am letting the lows of this year pass by. Everyone who is anyone to me knows the lows, and actually if you take a look at my last post, the major low is already there. There weren't many mega huge highs as such, but I can count off the happy things for sure!

  • Ben was given his permanent contract at work just over a year ago, and this has seen us much better off financially
  • I've been much more sociable this year and have seen much more of my dear friends. I have, in particular, grown much closer to Becky this past year. She's a star and I'm so greatful we've become such good friends.
  • Laila has been able to visit Liverpool more, which always brightens up any gloomy old month!
  • Seem to have seen much more of my family, always a blessing.
  • Ben cut off his hair for charity. This may seem a strange thing to list as a high...indeed his long, golden curls were one of the things that initially attracted him to me in the first place (I like long haired men!) but actually, his hairline wasn't receeding and he wasn't going bald on top when I first met him. Now, not only have we been able to raise some cash for a great cause but he also no longer looks quite as ridiculous as he did before!
  • I came off my anti depressants about a year ago and have not been to the doctor regarding my depression in that time. This is a great thing. I have had low moods...but unlike before, they have usually lasted only a few days, a week at most, unlike before when they'd last for months and result in terrible things.
  • I was able to give up a certain, horrible vice of mine.
  • Ben and I celebrated 5 years of being together and 2 years of marriage ^_^
  • New Years was an absoloute blast, as was the Christmas girlie night out
  • Despite the little wavering moment we had recently, Ben and I have made some big decisions and are working towards making our lives together go in the direction that we want.
  • I discovered the joys of embroidery
A lot of minor little things there. This year there were no huge victories for us. However, each year brings its own happenings and you must take the good with the bad. If you can't appreciate the little things, we'd all be going crazy by now!

On a different note, since I wrote my last blog I've been very good and have scored 2 days of sensible eating. That's 2 victories for me! This may not seem big...even to me it's no huge feat that I've never been able to accomplish before..however, as of my recent behaviour, it's really fantastic. Right now I'm feeling pretty peckish, and I could just devour a kebab or some such thing...but I'm not going to, because I'm taking each day as it comes, and for today there is no junk food. Tomorrow is tomorrow, yesterday was yesterday, but for today I have done my best and can go to bed feeling happy with myself for that!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Weighty Issues

For a lot of people, the first day (or, in my case, week in general as opposed to the specific day) of January is time for reflection. Reflections on how much you shouldn't have mixed the blue alcohol with the red alcohol and followed it all with a whisky chaser. Reflections on how you should probably stop drinking things by which you can only identify by the colour because you have no idea what type of intoxicating substance is within! Reflections on how you look terrible in those photos but you're going to put them on facebook anyway. Reflections on how the past year hasn't really gone to plan, and this year you're going to try your hardest to make it better.

It is these reflections, reflections on how you're going to try your damndest to make things work again, work in your favour, that some would like to avoid and some like to pick over like there's no tomorrow. The new years resolution. I didn't really sit down to make any new years resolutions this year because there was so much I want to resolve that there seems to be no point in listing them all! At the same time, Psychologies magazine was running a piece about how new years resolutions only made people feel resentful towards themselves and general all round failures when people inevitably fell off the bandwagon.

This bandwagon is something with which I'm intimately acquainted. Each evening I go to bed thinking 'tomorrow will be better, I will make it so'. In the morning I wake up, and I usually start off pretty well. I jump up on that bandwagon, and I boldly venture forth.

By six o clock in the evening, however, I begin to waver. It's always the evening, and I have no idea why! Perhaps it's because Ben gets home and I have him wrapped around my little finger. Perhaps I've just got no will power. Perhaps it's the evening cookery shows. Perhaps it's because of a lot of reason. I fall off the bandwagon quite unceremoniously and undo my hard work for the day in one fell swoop.

I am, of course, talking specifically about my not so succesful attempts at controling my weight.

I started thinking about this somewhat seriously just over a year ago. Being that I have PCOS, Ben and I bravely ventured forth to the doctor and asked for help to have a baby. Anyone who knows us will know that then and there, that time and place, wasn't the time to be bringing a baby into the world...however, knowing the issues we'd face, and knowing one of the first things they'd tell me to do would be to loose some a lot of weight, we thought we'd better get to work. At the time I was about 23st 8lb's. That's 330lb's, or for those who speak metric, half a kilo shy of 150kg. That's big. I'm 6ft tall so I'm never going to be feather light, but that is massive. It's not the heaviest I would be.

The doctor and I began to see each other every month. We talked over diet and I tried to make some changes. I was working at the time. I started taking salads to work. That lasted about two weeks before I got bored of making them up every night. We switched to sandwiches. I'd wait for Ben to finish each evening as we were working at the same place and he finished an hour after me. I'd spend this hour reading and eating what can only be described as "crap" out of the vending machine.

Then I'd go back for my checkup with the doctor and I'd have put weight on. At my heaviest, I got up to 24st 3lb. I'd worry for about another week, vowing to be more thoughtful over what I put in my mouth. Once again, it would last a week, maybe two, then I'd spiral back. Weak will power. Too easily succumbed to temptation. Comfort eating. Happy eating (I have this strange thing that when I get eccstatically happy I over eat because I'm all like...yeah, eat drink and be merry! It's worse than when I comfort eat, it's like the great mood I'm in slings me completely out of control) Eventually it got to the point where I'd had a couple of months where I'd maintained my weight, and then finally a month where I'd lost some. Not much, just a couple of pounds...but the loss was there.

By this point, I think the doctor and I were getting frustrated with each other. Each week she'd regurgitate the same old facts and figures about nutrition, stuff that I already knew, and had known for years. She'd emphasize how the summer was coming along and that it'd be great to get out for walks with Ben to loose some weight, as his own fertility certainly couldn't suffer from it. She said how she'd been calld "tubby" as a child and so could "completely understand" where I was coming from. This I found to be quite condescending, though I understood her intention was actually to be encouraging in an "if I can do it, so can you".

She referred me to see a dietician, and advised me that there was quite a waiting list. Then, the unthinkable happened and my father in law died very suddenly at the sadly young age of 52. We spent two weeks with my husbands family, and when we returned my doctor had finished her contract. She had only been there for maternity cover, and I got my old doctor back. She smiled at my progress and suggested that if I was seeing the dietician I wouldn't need to come back any more. It kind of made sense.

Months before my first dietician's appointment came along, I was seriously looking at my life. The events of the summer had, hand on heart, scared both me and Ben shitless. I put an end to numerous health endangering vices that I was partaking in, and part of this was in trying to take control of my diet once and for all. I found a website which offered a food diary and a weight tracker, etc. It's pretty much a free calorie counting "programme" if you will. I read up on all the suggested links and all the official material it offered. It all made sense, and I dived right in. A couple of months passed, and I managed to loose 16 pounds. Thats just over a stone. I was the lightest I'd been since before my wedding. I could walk up and down the street without getting tired or having to stop because of my bad back. I could do the weekly shopping without being hunched over the trolley in agonizing pain and begging Ben to stop browsing the magazine rack because I needed to go home and sit down (I'm not over exaggerating, this is how bad I was). I had more energy in general. Despite our recent bereavement, I found that actually, I wasn't very depressed at all. Grieving still, yes, but a combination of this wonderful weight loss, being active, and trying my very best to stay positive for Ben was working wonders for my mental health (something quite awesome as winter was coming). I was active on the weight loss forums, and blogged there about how I was achieving my success, by following everything to the letter. Eating all of my calorie allowance each day, exercising at least 10 minutes, drinking 4 pints of water, avoiding alcohol and caffeine. I'd allow myself to lapse at the weekends a little, but it didn't seem to be having a detrimental effect.

Eventually, as is inevitable, the weightloss slowed right down. I knew the reasons for this, and percevered on. A couple of family events were scheduled, and this completely whacked me out of my routine. I tried to get back on board, but it never worked. I could never bring myself to take it all up again for some reason. The calorie counting fell by the wayside by Christmas.

I've been trying to hop back on since new years. I've seen the dietician a number of times now, but whilst she is lovely and encouraging, she seems only to regurgitate those same facts as the GP. Yes, she regurgitates them with more substance, but that just means that I find our sessions more fascinating than actually helpful at all. She has helped me to try and understand where my evening cravings come from, and putting a stop to them has helped. But I find that even when I'm not craving, sometimes a low mood can overule this. And oftentimes, it does. Still, last time I dared step on a scale (Friday, when I had my asthma review), I'd put a lot of the weight back on. Everything. That little badge at the side there saying I've lost ten pounds? Nah, it's lying. Going by how heavy I was when I started using MFP to loose weight, it should probably read "0lb's lost"

I didn't make any resolutions in January. I did, however, set myself a goal for the end of the year; to loose 48lb's (taking my heaviest weight as a benchmark). This is one for every working week of the year. I split it up into little mini goals of 12lb's every 4 months. I'm supposed to have lost 12lb's by a week on friday (1st April) and frankly, unless I starve myself, it isn't going to happen. I keep chickening out of stepping on the scale again and updating my little progress chart not because I'm afraid, but frankly because I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed that I can't say no, I'm ashamed that when my friends order dessert I can't resist temptation, I'm ashamed that I can't order pasta or salad instead of steak and chips or pizza. I'm ashamed that every night, when Ben comes home from work, and he asks if we need or want anything from the shop I look up and say "Crisps and chocolate please". I'm ashamed I ask for a big, cinema sized bag, and a big one pound bar. Every single night, no matter how positive I've been trying to keep. I'm ashamed I log onto MFP each morning and write down what it is I'm going to eat for the rest of the day and proudly pat myself on the back for being within my calorie limit, then chicken out of going back to add said crisps and chocolate onto it after I've gorged myself.

No more, I'm tired of this defeatist attitude.

I know what you're thinking. What's so different this time round? Well, nothing, but as this is the start of a new quarter, why not try again? They say it takes 8 attempts for a smoker trying to quit to be succesful. Isn't food my addiction? I eat to be sociable, I eat to relax, I eat because it's a habit. Sure, I will always have to eat to survive, but the chocolate and crap...no, I don't need to always eat these. If someone can give up a physically addictive substance like nicoteine, then why can't I give up my bad relationship with food?

If I am to be succesful in my goal of loosing 48lb's by the end of this year, it might be a good idea to stick to my current mini goal deadlines. That means 24lb's by the first of July. That's most certainly still achievable. That's still only 2lb's a week, on average, and I will probably loose more at first, as is always the way. The trick will be to not slip back like I did when I started this.

I'm going to take this one day at a time. I will do this. I've proven before now that I can tackle problems this way, and I've proven I can loose weight before too. This time, there shall be no excuses!

Now, excuse me while I go cook up some soup and ryvita.

PS -

My weight loss progress button on the side there is no longer totally inaccurate. I plonked in my weight as of when I saw the nurse on Friday. I thought I had put much more on than this :) I hearby vow to keep this updated, each and every Friday I shall weigh in and keep this thing up to date! Let's see if I can't loose those 12 pouds before my birthday in April :)

Monday, 21 March 2011


In my last post I mistakenly said it was day 16...nope, indeed today is 16, and the task for today is my views on mainstream music.

I think I've written before about how I used to be quite "elitist" as a teen when it came to my music, and I think an awful lot of young folk can follow this pattern. It used to be that one of the first things I'd ask someone I first met; what kind of music are you into?

It made a certain kind of sense. My friends and I all shared similar taste in music so when I met new people I'd use this as a kind of litmus test. It did mean that I shunned some people or even made fun of them for liking this music group or that who happened to be "mainstream". I think my views really began to change though after our sixth form college's "battle of the bands".

About a month later, one of the guys who'd been fronting a POD tribute missed his bus and ended up on ours. I was telling him I'd enjoyed his contribution, and thought it was a shame they missed out on the first place (which had been won by someone doing a very loud but pretty mediocre Slipknot tribute...indeed I think all of the finalists were tributes) as they'd played well, and with passion. He then unleashed a huge tirade about the criticism some of the audience had given him later...how POD were too "mainstream" and if they'd not chosen something so "popular" they'd probably have won.

I often wondered at that. Every man and his dog would wander around college wearing Slipknot hoodies back in the day. I suspect some still do now. You didn't get much POD merchendise floating around, but I guess it's the sound of the band which, to many, dictates how popular or in the mainstream they are percieved. As it goes, yes, I suppose when you think about it POD's "Alive" appeals to many where Slipknot would scare. Screaming angry music about hate and depression and all those other wonderful things that Slipknot make music about aren't to everyone's taste. They scratch a specific itch. An itch I'll fully admit I like to be scratched, but not one that everyone can stomach for one reason or another. Either way, perhaps it was just POD's relatively easy, commercial feel that made "Alive" a relative success and a likeable tune. And the lovely, elitist teens that we were back in the day felt this commercial likability made it somehow the lesser tune, and placed the crowning title upon someone who was arguably less talented because of our prejudice.

Well, the benefit of hindsight makes me look at it that way. At the time I was just gutted for the poor guy, and a little self concious. I liked POD, I loved their sound and they were on pretty much all my playlists at the time. Was I too mainstream? Kinda sad that I was thinking this, I know. I tried not to think much on it. There was a very strong "alternative" culture in our college (another college around the corner called us "the goth college" which was flattering to some and shameful to others) and despite some of the claims that this was a more all embracing way of life which would include anyone and everyone and not judge them, actually we were probably the most judgmental pricks on the face of the earth, especially when it came to each other.

These days I think if it's popular, it's popular for a reason. Back in those days I would have happily taken the piss out of Lady Gaga's desperate pleas for attention, or throttled myself to admit I would ever have someone like Taylor Swift on my playlist. Florence and the Machine would have just been "too pop for me!".

I'm glad I've grown up and out of this mentality. It really was very immature. I still love my metal and my rock, then my not so rock, a bit of pop, 80's cheese, and even my hippy pan pipe music (well, I always like that, I just hid it!). I love a whole load of things, and I feel that being open to anything makes for a more rounded person all in all. There's honestly nothing wrong with the mainstream. If I like it, I embrace it, and if I don't then I leave it be.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sociable Ben is sociable (And also...day 16)

My favourite Tumblr's.

I've never used Tumblr. I don't even know what it is.

I've had a happy couple of days. I had been in a frightfully low mood towards the middle of the week, getting anxious and depressed over seemingly nothing, but the sun decided to come out yesterday and I already feel a million dollars better :) This has, of course, been helped along by the fact I've been able to snatch some precious few hours with my nearest and dearest here in Liverpool.

It seems like an age since we (Ben and I) have socialized so frequently together. I hope this is the beginning of the end as it were, and a return to some state of normality for our social life. Whilst I've kept a hold onto mine on my own and Ben is quite happy for me to have my own life away from him, he's not exactly the greatest social bunny on the planet at the best of times, so seeing him retract to almost total seclusion (except for one or two intimate get togethers or new years when I practically bullied him into agreeing to hold a party!) was always worrying. Besides, I like it when he comes out with me and our friends! Things have been quite shaken up since last summer, and whilst I uderstand his lack of interest in being social since then, I've been terribly worried about his lack of interest in social pursuits all together, and I'm imensely happy that he's becoming comfortable with going out again.

Besides, you know, now I don't have to worry about waking him up when I coming crawling back in because he'll be crawling back in with me again XD

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Day Fourteen - Your Earliest Memory

This is an interesting one. I've always held on to this memory because it is so perculiar, and even at the time I thought it so. If I was older at the time perhaps I would have mentioned it. I know I was only two years old at the time, I know this for a fine fact because I remember a later date when I had a cake at nursery school for my third birthday (It was a private nursery come day care for those who think two years old is a little extreme for starting nursery, since as I recall, my parents both worked full time and oftentimes both had night shift duties).

All it is, is of waking up one morning feeling a little confused. I could hear a familiar voice calling out my name, so I climbed down off my bed, toddled out onto the landing, and looked up at the window on the landing that was opposite my room. The sky was grey, and I could just about see the bare, leafless branches of tress lacing up against the sky (so it must have been winter, probably a couple of months before my birthday since that is in April). I could only just see these, however, as I was not yet tall enough even to stand at the height of the windowsill (an odd thought, since I'm now six foot tall!). I knocked tentatively on the door to my parent's room and looked inside. It was dark and red in there, because that was the colour of their curtains at the time. My mum was still in bed and when I asked her if it was her calling, she told me to go back to bed or play with my toys.

I suppose on first inspection there's nothing unusual about that memory and no reason I should have held onto it, but, and please don't think I'm crazy, but it was as if my life and the world around me and indeed the entire universe only came into being the few moments before I was risen by that voice calling my name.

I'm not so egotistical as to believe this is the case. For one, if this was true, why was that voice so familiar (though honestly, I couldn't tell you who it belonged to, and given it woke me up I'd probably had a dream...I've had dreams like that all my life so I don't see why it wouldn't have been) and why did I know my own name if not because I'd already had almost three years of my life being called that? How did I know it was my mum in the bedroom, and who my dad was...

But I can honestly say my mind was blank of any specific memories at that point. I was aware of this fact, but it didn't strike me as odd at all at the time.

Perhaps this is wrong, and because I can't remember anything before this point I've just projected this onto it. I do remember telling friends about it when I first started Primary School,  because I asked them if they could remember being born. Some, of course, claimed they could, but you know what kids are like. I found it terribly strange that I couldn't remember anything before that morning. It didn't strike me as strange that I couldn't remember every day since, of course nobody does, but I remember waking up with a blank mind and it became odder and odder to me the older I got, and I confided in a number of adults about it, from teachers to family friends. I don't think I ever told my parents for some reason. Eventually I got to the age where I could just shrug it off as me having projected that sensation onto a memory of waking up one morning after a dream.

Of course it could also perhaps be that this was around about the time I became truly self aware as a being and only just began to register events as memories. I don't know, I don't really know much about how the brain works.

Anyway, that's my earliest memory, and I know it is, as I said, because I've held onto it. It's nothing exciting, but given my age it's probably for the best that it isn't!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A little musical fantasy

"I think I'm going to do a blog entry about the perfect F1 compilation album"

It's coming up to the beginning of the motorsport season, and my husband is frothing at the mouth for it. He's only really been following it properly for a couple of years, but Ben is like a star; when he finds something to fuel his interests, it burns hot and bright. There's no escaping it. You know all about it.

This isn't a bad thing at all, infact I often envy this quality of his. I'm a pretty apathetic person on the whole. There are certain things that catch my interests and ignite my passions, but if Ben is a star, I'm an oven set to medium heat. Nothing is gonna get burned in there, but it'll get cooked. And tasty. However, from the minute the BBC starts plugging the Bahrain GP (though of course this year it's had to be scrapped, and our thoughts are with those caught up in the violence and protests currently sweeping not only Bahrain, but all throughout the middle east and north Africa) Ben is there, chomping at the bit. His blog suddenly sparks to life again and it's full of videoes of spectacular crashes, overtakes and wins. I swear, if he as emotional at the birth of our children as he gets when watching the videos of Jenson Button taking the F1 world championship in 2009, I will begin to worry for his mental health. He is very much emotionally invested in this.

And I think I take this well enough. I've learned to block out most of his ranting about obscure racing series that I neither know anything nor care anything about (don't worry, he does know that I do this, he just gets over excited and, try as I might, I cannot get as excited as he does about these things. He does it with me too, so we're pretty equal) and hone in on all the juicy F1 jewels he comes out with (which I am interested in and do get excited about).

Still, there are some things I cannot escape. When he told me last night he wanted to make a fantasy F1 compilation album for his blog I first though 'yeah, another pretty blog project, that'll be an interesting read'. And then he asked what I thought. I gave a couple of suggestions (which he has included, cause I'm awesome and he knows it) and we argued over a number of his suggestions (none of mine, though :D).

Then he turned around and said, "I think you should do this on your blog too, a competing version".

Now, it's not the kind of thing I'd normally do and I've been grumbling over it. However, he set a challenge, and he wrote it so right here and, as apathetic as I may be towards it, we have a bit of an unwritten rule between us. Of course, it is no longer unwritten as of now...once the challenge is set, unless it is physically ridiculous, it must be taken.

So anyway. The rules, as set by Ben (he asked me for my input and I rather apathetically told him that it's his challenge so he has to make them) is that we're allowed duplicate entries (he claims on his blog that this is because Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain' is none negotiable. Whilst he has a point, it's also because he wanted to steal my ideas, my ideas being 'Bulls on Parade' and 'Nobody does it better' just so you know) and that it has to be 13 songs long.

Now I'm struggling to figure what links a song to F1. Is it because the BBC happened to link it in on their F1 Forum pieces, is it what the teams play in their garages when they've won, is it just a song that is an awesome driving song? I've thought, not too long or hard mind you (sorry Ben!) and this is what I've come up with.

1 -Fleetwood Mac - The Chain

There is no compromise. This is THE definitive F1 track. There are facebook groups that spring up each year trying to get it to number one for either the beginning or end of the F1 season. If you are an F1 fan, you probably have this tucked away on your playlist somewhere.

2 - Rage Against The Machine - Bulls on Parade

What the hell does this have to do with F1 racing? Well, to me and Ben it's a bit of an unofficial Red Bull Racing theme tune ever since the beeb linked it in after Vettel won the 2010 world championship. And whilst I've never driven in my life, I can see myself cruising down the motorway with this on full blast. I dunno. Maybe that's just me.

3 - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Oh come on. Like I need to explain this! Gotta love Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

4 - The Allman Brothers Band - Jessica

Not perhaps the most original tune for a song relating to driving, nor is it perhaps immediately obvious as to why I've included it on an F1 playlist. Still, we've been watching Top Gear for years and it was the publicity that Top Gear gave to F1 that really got me personally thinking about it in the first place. If it weren't for Top Gear, Ben would have a hard time talking about anything remotely racing related at all, so he owes them a debt of thanks that he can at least talk to me about F1!

5 - DJ Visage - Formula '98

Otherwise known as "The Schumacher Song" this is an awesomely cheesy dance tune dedicated to he who is arguably, love or hate him, the king of F1. Schumacher, we saulte you!

6 - Cardigans - My Favourite Game

This was on one of the Grand Turismo games of years gone by. It's a general all round epic driving tune if you ask me, and a great racing song.

Ok, if I can be honest with you I'm starting to struggle.

7 - Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better

So I'm putting this now. In a perfect world, it would be at the end. But anyway. This was used in a montage of all the british F1 champions when Button won the championship and I think it's a pretty sexy song. It's classy and sparkly and everything that F1 is.

From here on in things might get silly. Not that Chitty Bang Bang was silly. That was perfectly justified.

8 - Abba - Money Money Money

Lets face it. F1 is a rich man's sport. It's glamorous and epic. And done in Monaco. And they mention Monaco in this song.

And I love ABBA and needed an excuse to get them in somewhere.

9 - Boston - More than a Feeling

Another epic and favourite song of mine that is probably included on every "Driving Songs" album ever made, but also linked back to F1 thanks to the almighty influence of the beeb.

Seriously Ben, why 13? I know perfectly decent albums that are only ten tunes long?

Well, since Ben stole my idea's I'm going to resort to stealing his.

10 - Queen - We Are The Champions

Honestly, is there anything in particular that links this to F1 other than, once again, a Button era karaoke moment? It could arguably be linked to anything in which a champion is crowned, not just this particular one sport. Still, it's a cool song. And I is stealing Ben's shit. Haaah.

But I think I'm going to leave it there. I'm afraid I've not got the stamina for this and I have laundry that needs to be hung and a bathroom floor begging to be scrubbed (not to mention the fact that it's coming up to three o clock and I've not had lunch yet).

Ben, inevitably, you have won this one. But like I said. I'm more of a medium heat oven, baby. Yeah.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Day Thirteen - Somewhere you'd like to move or visit

This harbour is situated in the small, picturesque town of "Seahouses" on the Northumbrian coast. It's a stone's throw away from some of the most scenic, historical and wonderful places in the North East of England (think Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick, Berwick, The Holy Island of Lindisfarne). It is itself a pretty little tourist destination, being the main port of call for those looking for boat trips to the Farne Islands, lying only 2.5–7.5 km off the coast and providing shelter for a considerable colony of some rather curious Grey Seals as well as a whole host of sea birds. Being that it's no more than a couple of hours drive away from my hometown, my friends and I would visit Seahouses every year in our early teens (around September/October time when there was always a chill in the air) with our church youth group. Our Vicar was one of those guys who loves the great outdoors and he'd march us up and down the coast. I don't recall there being much spiritual significance to what we did...indeed, the time he got us on the coach to Holy Island, we didn't even visit any of the 'major attractions' - we spent the day hiking all over the damned place. Indeed, I doubt there is much of that island I haven't seen between our old vicar trawling us over the dunes and my dad taking us there every Easter break to visit the winery!

Anyway, I digress...this area in general holds so many happy memories for me, and is so strongly linked to my sense of self that I cannot imagine living the rest of my life without taking frequent trips back to the region. The only reason I've yet to take Ben to visit is, honestly, the lack of our own private transport. It's not exactly a bustling transport hub, so it's a bit awkward to get to. I'd love to live there in Seahouses one day, in one of those lovely little cottages by the harbour. It's perfectly situated so that it's close enough to home to make it worth it, but far enough away so as not to worry about being pestered, if you catch my drift.

As for places I'd like to visit, there are pleanty...

Don't you just want to run up the length of this valley? It is, of course, Iceland ^_^

Ben admitted for the first time last night that he wanted to visit the volcanoes in Hawaii. I jumped for joy, since I never took him for a volcanophile like myself

This is Sapporo, Japan, during their "snow festival". There are many places in Japan I would like to visit, but Sapporo's snow festival is probably number one on the list. Tokyo, by the way, is so far down it doesn't even factor in. The very idea of navigating such a crowded city makes me feel anxious. Still, if I managed to get over there I'd probably feel obliged to spend at least a couple of days looking around...
Hong Kong, yet another crowded city, but in this case, it is also the birthplace of my mother so I'm very keen to visit it one day.
Come on, who doesn't want to visit The Pyramids?
I'm going to have to count this as one, or else this will be one long list of European cities! I've visited Paris, Tours, Perpignon and various other little places in France, the region around Alicante and Valencia in Spain and Amsterdam in The Netherlands, however I've yet to visit the rest of Europe. On the agenda specifically includes Rome, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Oslo and Helsinki. If I visit those places in my lifetime, I will die happy! Anything extra is a great bonus!
There are many, many more places in the world I want to visit, including a number of places in the middle east and in the Americas. However, these are the places that I feel very passionately about visiting, and really hope I get to do so. The European cities aren't a huge issue really, the short city break is, after all, an amazing invention! Further afield, however, may prove to be a sticking point. Well, we'll see whether I can win the lottery or something to pay for it!

The 'block' button - effective pain relief?

I don't know whether it's because I'm in almost constant pain right now because of my bad neck (which is untouched by any form of pain relief, even the strong prescription stuff I have in for migraines but is more commonly used to treat skeleto-muscular pain and thus you'd assume would be just the thing for right now...) or whether it's just because it's Monday or because The Fates conspired to make it thus, but today I'm in a piss poor mood. I think I may have both scared and pissed off a number of people and I haven't even left the house today. Facebook is awash with a tirade of rage induced statuses and I've already managed to wind myself up so much I've rage blocked someone (who, thankfully, was only a friend of a friend...we don't generally move in the same circles though...). That said, as immature a response as that may be I guess I have to admit I was looking for an excuse to do it anyway. Her near constant rambling about the merits of Groupon and...

Actually, you know, I don't even have to justify why she annoys me, she just does. Ben and I were having this discussion the other night about when you see someone, and even though they may legitimately be the loveliest person in the world, the most generous, warm hearted, nicest, friendliest person...something about them just makes you want to claw their eyes out. I don't know whether it is some sort of genetic thing...perhaps, just as we are programmed to responed positively to certain genetic cues, whether this be scent or appearence or even taste, when searching for compatible mates, perhaps we are wired up to out and out reject others in the most hostile of ways. There's no concious reason for it, no logical explanation. They don't even have to be unnatractive people; it can be the most wonderfully beautiful supermodel.

Well she's certainly no supermodel but objectively she's no 'little Hitler'. Either way, she falls into this category of "something about you just makes me want to commit terrible violent atrocities".

I've seen this effect in friends too...a friend who could not help himself but to treat this one girl like pure trash. The problem was, she was his housemate's girlfriend. It was quite horrific, actually, and none of us could understand why he did it. I asked him, and he replied "I don't know! It's nothing that she says or does, she's never been horrible or anything, I just can't help myself but act like a dick to her".

Hmmm. I think scientists should stop looking into compatibility and start looking into what repulses people. Perhaps we could invent a pill that makes us all stop being irritating to everyone else, and world peace could finally be on the cards!

But Bex, they already made that film, Equilibrium, it ended up quite horrifically!

Oh right...

Anyway! Moving swiftly on (and feeling a bit better for having raged my feelings out lol) today is day twelve and that involves me bulleting my day! Well, ok, but I think you'll find it pretty boring...

  •  Got up
  • Took my asthma meds while checking emails etc. No news from that job place. Bummer :(
  • Hit the shower, dressed, ate yummy cereal
  • Bummed around most of the morning, got ragefull and irritated
  • Started writing this so as to express my rage and irritation. Also because now I can just bullet my day as I go along. Two birds, one stone. Oh yes.
  • Had a lovely phonecall from Ben. No longer feeling so ragefull :) But still kind of rageful. Rawr.
  • Called up places I needed to call up regarding things that need to be sorted. The outcome is a good one.
  • Washed up breakfast dishes
  • Made Ratatouille and Pasta for lunch (I'm determined to hit my 12lb goal for April so it's time to bottle down with the healthy eating!)
  • Did various bits and bobs of housework which, if I listed it all, would bore you senseless :p 
  • Watched last weeks installment of "One Born Every Minute". Was cheered up by a lady with PCOS having a baby without the need for fertility treatment.
  • Got back on the internet to check my email. Still no news regarding my interview. Bummed around online some more. Did a little more job hunting just incase when I get the news it's bad news.
  • Decided there's still pleanty of time to play some Assassins Creed before it's time to get dinner on the go. So I did.
  • Ben came home (yay!) so I made dinner - fresh ravioli in tomato sauce and topped with yummy yummy cheese ^_^ Sadly the sauce (which I didn't make from scratch) turned out to be quite icky to my tastebuds. Ben liked it though, and the cheese helped...
  • So did the banana and low fat custard I then made for dessert (don't worry, diet be not ruined, it was only about 200 cals)
  • Watched Dispatches. Raged a bit more.
  • Watched last nights Outcasts. Hope the BBC make another series of this!
  • Ben stole the laptop and told me to play some Assassins Creed while he blogged, so I did. Haha that sounds so bad ^_^
  • Stole the laptop back to read this evenings batch of blogs and check my to do list for tomorrow.
Which brings us to now. I know, it's not exactly been the most exciting day...makes me think I should have probably waited till tomorrow when I actually have appointments to attend so I can tell you all about it. But then, are you really all that bothered about me going to have my anual asthma review?

I don't know. Perhaps you are the sick kind of person who would indeed love to know all about it, but I don't think you are. I think you are a wonderful and lovely person. Why else would you be reading this?

Till later then guys and gals, I hope you all have a wonderful and rage free sleep and a similarly pleasant tomorrow :)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Day Eleven

So the "construction work" is going well. I finally decided on a theme and made a suitable interim background and banner.

I know it's not the usual kind of thing I'd go for but I've been looking at some of my cousin's photographs (he participates in a hobby called "Urban Exploration" other wise known as "dicking around in derelict buildings") and was inspired by the way rust kinda dribbles down walls. Haha, what a thing to be inspired by ^_^;; I wanted to keep everything purple because, well, I like purple and it ties in with my old theme nicely still, but the rust still looks better when it's all...rusty.

Of course I can't really tell if the banner lines up properly on other people's monitors so I hope it looks as good on your screen as it does on mine ^_^

There are some other adustments I mean to make in the future however so I'm afraid it's gonna have to remain as "undergoing maintenance" for now. Perhaps I'll work some more towards it tomorrow, but it's just a few finishing touches.

Anyhow, now for the meat of it, we reach day eleven where I must put my media player on shuffle and tell you ten songs that pop up. I'm sure you'll be thrilled to delve into my music collection ;)

1 - The Corrs - What Can I Do? - I've been having a bit of a month of nostalgia. A lot of my CD's from years gone by (I have upgraded to actually buying mp3's of late, a real leap forward lol) have been sitting around on my bookshelf for a while and I was looking at them and thinking ooh...I remember that...so I've ripped a whole load of them onto my laptop. The Corrs album "Talk on Corners" was one of the first albums I ever bought. Brings back a lot of happy childhood memories :)

2 - Rufus Wainwright - Hallelujah - I love this song. Not too fussed about the versionby that crazy Xfactor bird (can't remember her name, which just goes to say an awful lot about the Xfactor really...) and I love Leonard Cohen's original, but there's something so sad and weepy about this one. Probably because all I think of is poor Shrek feeling lonesome and dejected....

3 - The Moldy Peaches - I Think I'm In Love - First introduced to me by Ben. Make of that what you like.

4 - A Perfect Circle - Pet - One of my all time favourite bands ever, though I prefer "Mer de Noms" to "Thirteenth Step". Can't remember how I got 'into' them. It was sometime in college though, and they've stayed with me ever since.

5 - Disturbed - Remember - Not quite so far back as to tug at "childhood" memories, but another tune from another album I've just rediscovered. This was, incidently, one of the first songs I ever heard by Disturbed and it's one of those that always finds its way onto my mp3 player

6 - Nirvana - You Know You're Right - More nostalgia. I was never really into Nirvana the way some people of my generation are, but I got their greatest hits album for Christmas off an uncle when it was released and I listened to it pretty much none stop for the next month. It was then relegates to the "scratches a very specific itch" pile. I put it back onto the computer along with Disturbed and The Corrs (amongst others) recently and enjoy it as much as ever.

7 - Daft Punk - Outlands - From the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, if you haven't seen Tron: Legacy I would highly recommend you give it a go when it comes round to DVD, even if it didn't seem like your kind of film, it's highly entertaining and the music is pretty epic!

8 - Enigma - The Voice and the Snake - Ah, Enigma, one of my all time favourite bands. Conjuring images of hippies with joss sticks and panpipes...my dad used to listen to them constantly in the car when I was small and they're now pretty much engrained upon my very soul. They're not everyone's cup of tea, but if you're going to listen to them it's well worth picking up one of their albums (their most famous I'd say are their first two, MCMXC AD and The Cross of Changes from whence various tunes have been pluked and then plonked haphazardly into various TV programmes and adverts) and then just sitting and listening to it the whole way through as opposed to picking out any old song. Their music works a lot better this way.

9 - Muse - Resistance - Like many of my generation, Muse was there through my teen years and is still around now making epic music as always. The Resistance is one of the albums I've currently got on repeat while I do the housework each day...it always manages to get me moving lol

10 - Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better - Pure classic. That is all.

Construction Work

I'm making some layout and design changes to my blog so for the forseeable future it may look a little out of whack and the colour schemes may be all over the place. I hope you can ignore the "construction work" as it goes on. I'm sure you shall be thrilled to know that a regular service shall otherwise be maintained!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Day Ten - Discuss your first love and first kiss

Well, which shall I do first then? I suppose there's always something to be said about chronological order!

My first kiss happened when I was fifteen. It was at a friends birthday party. The guy in question I happened to have had the most humongous crush on for the past year or so, and had met him at my youth drama club. He hadn't been for a while, indeed he had not been for months, and I'd kinda started to forget all about him.

Anyhow, a week or so before this party, which was to be the first 'big grown up' party with alcohol a flowing and minimal contact from parents that I attended, a little rumour got out that said crush would be attending too since he'd stayed in touch with the friend whose birthday it was. I think all my friends could pretty much see right through me as I grew steadily more and more hopeful/excited about the whole thing, and there was no hiding the truth from them. The night of the party, I'd managed to find a seat next to him and was being so embarrasingly obvious that a friend got up and said "right, that's it", shepherded everyone out of he room, switched on the 'mood lighting' (a red spiky table lamp, how romantic!) and told us we weren't to come out till we'd 'sorted things out'.

Now this could have been the prelude to all kinds of horrible teenage things but thankfully it wasn't. And nothing ever came from that single kiss. Yet again, thankfully in hindsight, though I didn't think that at the time! We snuggled on the sofa the rest of the evening then we went to bed and then we went home and I never saw him again.

My first love I wish had been so uncomplicated and innocent as teenagers fumbling around under the red light and knowing gaze of friends. Indeed, I know he looks me up from time to time online still so it will probably be a suitable boost to his ego to read that he was my "first love" but such feelings have a habit of becoming bitter and jaded with age. Hopefully soon the years will have passed sufficiently enough to make it less bitter and more 'completely indifferent'.

It was a long distance thing and I'm not going to go into too much detail because, somehow, I still have some semblence of respect for the guy and I wouldn't want to plaster his business all over the internet (he is also a very private guy). However, I will tell you the basics. We met when I was 17 because he played some silly online game with my cousin, who happened to introduce us online for no apparent reason other than he was bored.

By my cousin's usual standards of company at the time, this guy was pretty witty and intelligent to my innocent young eyes. Actually it really suprised me when I found out English wasn't his first language. We had similar interests and aspirations at the time and shared a number of dreams. We had the same taste in tv, movies, music, pass times. We exchanged contact info and stayed in touch.

It didn't take long before the inevitable happened and in a rush of hormones, certain 'feelings' got involved. With my parents blessing (he is five years older than me, which I doubt anyone at all would bat an eyelid at now, but when you are younger such age gaps are quite exaggerated, and rightly so...especially since this was someone met over the internet) he visited us in the UK and we hit it off like a house on fire.

We lasted about a year and in that time we holidayed together in Amsterdam, which was quite amazing. It didn't last though, for various reasons. Oddly enough, I don't think the distance in so far as not physically seeing each other was a problem, but it created jealousy, paranoia, bitterness, all those wonderful emotions that like to rear their ugly head.

In the end we both betrayed each other. In completely different ways, may I add, and I'll put up my hands and admit it was me who stepped into the realms of infidelity. He knows, but it wasn't that which ended it, it was just one of many nails in the coffin. In the end I think we were both such highly strung, intense characters, it would never have worked. It was amazing while it did, but had he been living in the house next door it was still not meant to be.

After a few months where we didn't speak at all we eventually did get back in touch, and we've sporadically been in touch on and off ever since. It usually ends with him pissing me off somehow and me storming off and then months if not years will go by and one or the other will ask my cousin again "oh, how are they doing" and it'll start again. It's a shame, considering how much we had in common at the beginning, to see how much seperates us in differences now. I think, considering that I am the age now that he was when we ended it, he has more or less remained the same and I have changed beyond recognition. This means that when we do talk it sometimes feels like I'm talking to some silly stuck in the past teenager, and I can only imagine that he feels like he is talking to a complete stranger. We don't know how to relate to each other anymore.

It's a shame, as I don't really hate him for who he is and I find his open honesty quite endearing. We'll never be close though. Like I said, even when I try my very best now he only ends up pissing me off one way or another, and besides having a husband who generally hates his guts (our breakup was not an easy one and it was Ben who had to pick up the pieces, so he is naturally very suspicious and wary of him) isn't conducive to participating in a active friendship.

Anyhow, there you have it, my first kiss and my first love. One very fleeting and quite cute and humorous, the other rather intense and scary. I'm happy to say that I don't regret anything that I've done with regards to my past relationships though. They have turned me into the woman that I am today, and that happens to be the woman that Ben loves. I am beyond thrilled to be that woman :)

Day Nine - How you hope your future will be like

I hope it will be comfortable. I'd consider where I am now of course on the very verge of comfortable, on the edge of what is reasonable. I suppose I really hope that I become even more comfortable!

I'd write something more but it's a little difficult to write this and make it sound somewhat original when I already wrote as part of this challenge where I hope to be in ten years time. I mean, isn't this more or less the same question, just a little more open ended?

Well anyway, yes, so long as I'm comfortable. So long as I have my health and food and friends to share it with and an internet connection for when you don't want to be with friends, really what more could you ask for?

I've been pondering this post for a while now. I could never think of anytthing to say or write that didn't echo that previous post so this is basically me just scribbling something so I have something to show to you for it ^_^ For now however, I'm heading to bed!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

And now we play the waiting game...

I woke up this morning after having tossed and turned all night. I'd had dreams, strange dreams about family reunions and the application of spaghetti bolognese as a fashion statement. Yes, strange dreams indeed. For the first time in nights I'd found it difficult to drop off to sleep, and by the time I dragged myself out of bed at eight o clock I'd already been lying awake for three hours. 
I had a job interview to get to, starting at half past eleven, and I wanted to be at my very best. Those three hours would probably have been better spent researching the company or in the bathroom scrubbing every inch of myself till I shone as bright as the sun that no doubt some applicants inevitably believe shines out of their arses. As for myself, I have no such illusions. It's all face and bluster and hope for the best. I know I'm about to be hit with a barrage of so called "competency based questions." I inevitably fall at this hurdle, not because I'm incompetent but because I find it difficult to think of asnwers that fit the question that are in actual context.

I started the day like a bear chewing a wasp. One of those mornings that you look back on and you're suprised you still have a husband at the end of it. Did I really say that to him? Did I really shout at him demanding tea and then again when he didn't bring it to me immediately? Shamefully...yes. And that's why I love him, because he can deal with that and realise it's only until I've actually woken up! I spent the next hour willing him to bugger off to work, another point of guilt on my part, but as soon as he was out, that was it, I was in the shower scrubbing and washing and shaving and then out again to straighten the hair and apply the face.

By the time eleven o clock had rolled around I was only just applying a gloopy layer of mascara and still had to dress myself. Thankfully, the clothing issue was something I'd had the foresight to sort out last night, and everything was hung up behind the door waiting to be worn. Finally, taking one last glimpse in the mirror to tut at my unruly fringe (which has taken to parting in the middle) and gasp in exasperation that I was already running late and thus had no time to sort it, I left the house at ten past eleven, ten minutes later than planned.

I strutted as fast as my boots (which skid on every surface, even on hot rubbery tarmac) would let me, ignoring the onslaught of "EXCUSE ME!!!!" that faced me as I walked past the school playground at breaktime, secretly paranoid that the darling little children were perhaps trying to tell me my knickers were visible even through my thick black winter coat. Glancing briefly at my reflection in the windows of the parked cars and terraced houses as I tap-tap-tapped my way passed, I could feel my blood pressure rising as I hoped my appearence would be of a high enough standard.

No ammount of power walking can make up for a late start though. I turned the corner onto Priory Road to watch the bus zoom straight by me. I checked the timetable at the stop to see when the next bus was due. The time was now just after quarter past eleven. The bus was late and I'd still missed it. The next bus was not due until 11:28. Great...

Thankfully, a five pound note graced my purse. I stood for a good five minutes or so waiting for a taxi to go by. All of them had passengers. I was really beginning to curse myself. Did I really need to have spent over two hours getting ready and making sure everything was just so this morning? I could have turned up hair and makeup done professionally and a suit that cost more than a months wages, but it wouldn't count for anything if I turned up fifteen minutes late. Finally someone pulled up for me. 
"I'm late for an interview at xxx, it starts in ten minutes!" I screamed at the driver as I practically dived into the back.

"No problem love," he winked at me from beneath his grandad cap. His foot hit the accelerator and we were off.
We sped down Priory Road, being stopped occasionally by the odd 'sunday morning driver' and chatting away about the problems facing job seekers today. About how you were lucky to get to interview stage, and luckier still to hear from anyone who rejected you.

"I've been working for 40 years now," he told me, the sage voice of experience, "always send a stamped addressed envelope with my applications, but you never hear anything back."

We came to red traffic lights by Goodison Park and he began cursing under his breath. I'm cursing under mine too, three more minutes and I'll be late. Finally we're off again, and we breath a joint sigh of relief as we turn the corner into Sperrow Lane. It was a breath too soon. Yet more traffic lights blocked our way, the traffic stretching right up the length of the road.

"You're probably best off getting off here love. You can make it!"

I passed him the fare and he threw the change back to me.

"Good luck, love!"

I power walked down the street again. Outside one of the terraced houses I pass a 'Police Scientific Support' car. Forensics? Plastic sheeting is covering the steps. I wonder what misfortune has befallen the residents.

Finally, coming onto County Road, I see my target before me and I speed up. I open the door and am greeted by an indifferent looking woman sat behind the counter. She takes my ID and tells me to take a seat. I check my phone. 11:31.

I sit for a good ten minutes twiddling my thumbs and making small talk with the woman. She doesn't usually work here, she says, she's on relief, and usually works all over the city and beyond, from Huyton to Birkenhead. She doesn't drive, she gets everywhere by bus, sometimes three depending on where she is. I think back to my telephone interview when they asked me if I could be flexible in where I worked, if I would be able to do relief work if they needed me to. Yes, I answered happily. I'd done something similar in a past job for a major mobile phone retailer. It hadn't been so bad then, they'd sent me up to Bootle for a couple of weeks. Indeed, it'd been the same bus route as I should have taken today. But Birkenhead? That's a bit of a treck...

Finally a woman opens the door marked "Staff Only" and a young woman with a face that I barely get the chance to read struts out and out of the shop. I secretly hope it is a face that says "oh poo I did really badly". She is wearing a proper suit as opposed to my 'smart' trousers and white blouse with a smart black coat. She strides confidently, with her head held high. In the back of my mind I doubt very much that it went badly for her.

I'm taken into the back office where I'm presented with a maths test and told to complete it in 20 minutes. Mental arithmetic isn't my strong point, though I listed it as one of my many wonderful skills on my application, CV and telephone interview. I wouldn't be lying, I do have better maths than some when it comes to the practical application thereof, but when the pressure is on and they're asking me to do a test in 20 minutes I tend to crumble. It's multiple choice, but I stare blankly at the paper and my hand begins to shake. The maths test was the part of the interview I'd expected to walk, and here I am falling at the first hurdle. My mind is blank and all I can think of is the voices on the shop floor. A customer has come in, but he doesn't have the correct information with him today. What is 12 x 6? Confession time....I never learned my times tables.

After what seems only a few scant minutes my interviewer comes back and smiles. She takes the paper, and I mumble something nervously about hoping my luck improved since my run in with the traffic this morning. The next minute or so she checks the answers on the shop floor and I sit with butterflies in my stomach. When she returns she's silent, with a stern look on her face. I bite my tongue. Shit. How will I ever live it down if I've failed a maths test that was easier than my GCSE exam? My grades will count for nothing...I always thought what qualifications I had were pretty useless. I start reaching down for my handbag.

"Ok, so you got 70%"




"Don't look so down, the pass mark is 50% and some people miss that by a mile"

Wow...70%...I feel kinda gutted, but...hey, hooray, I passed!

She introduces me to the store manager who is sitting in on the interview, and she gets out her paper. A copy of my CV sits before me and she asks me to recount my employment history. I worry about the huge gaps, stretching for about 2 years in total, between now and my last job, and that and the job before, but when I explain the reasons for these gaps she seems satisfied, and doesn't seem phased by the admission that some of that time was spent recovering from depression. I always think it's good to show some weaknesses in an interview. If you can admit to not being perfect and having some areas that could be improved then it shows you aren't full of bullshit and that you are being honest. 

The rest of the questions were the dreaded competency based questions. Under normal circumstances I would have frozen as my interrogator asked me to name examples of how I've done x in the past, or how I deal with situation y. Usually I turn around and name some experience that has barely anything to do with the question being asked because, like a rabbit in the headlights, my brain freezes and I can't think clearly. And how do I deal with situation y...well normally that ends with me saying "Uhh...by working very hard..."

For some reason, today I was blessedly articulate. Perhaps my bad luck in making the bus this morning was being balanced out, but I could actually think of real, meaningful examples and when asked "How would you deal with deadlines" I did at first say "by putting my head down to work and getting it done...." but then went on to talk about breaking the workload down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Her face practically beamed when I spoke about prioritising my workload and putting the customer first, things I've never talked about in interviews before. It was as if, after all these years of failing interviews by turning into mush, the lightbulb finally switched on. We spoke of the benefits of great customer service and the virtues of office get togethers. By the end of it all everyone seemed so relaxed and happy that we could have been old friends sat around a table in the pub sharing witty anecdotes and getting nostalgic about times gone by.

Of course, this may well be the worst thing possible, but it all felt very positive.

So it came to end and I got to ask my questions and we thanked each other. I asked when I would hear the result of the interview and she said next week, but it would be from HR. That's fair enough I think, but then she tells me...of course they have to recieve and then look through all the interview notes and see what's what and then they decide.

It's at this point my heart sinks a little. I begin to wonder...all morning I've done everything I can to present myself 'just so'. I stressed when I was running late and forked out for a taxi when it became apparent that I was going to be so. I tried my best to give the best first impression possible, and the three of us seemed to have such a good rapport during the interview. I could really imagine working with these people...yet now, after all that, the brief flash of 'could be camraderie'...someone I haven't even spoken to , who lives in what is technically a different country, will make the final decision.

I'm under no illusions that this is any different to anything that goes on in any other major chain of high street stores or nationwide company. However when you're fretting over which lipstick to wear because the deep red might give off the wrong impression, but the lighter coral doesn't really go with the rest of your outfit, and your other fall back shade that would otherwise be perfect has just run out...you begin to wonder why put so much effort into presenting yourself in such a manner if the person who will give you the thumbs up or down will never actually see you...

I can only assume, of course, that the interviewer will pass on such observations. Not necissarily based around your shade of lipstick, but of your overall demeanour and appearence. I certainly hope so.

I came out on a high, despite worrying over these things, and noticed yet more competition waiting on the shop floor. I smiled warmly and wished my interview all the best as I left, striding confidently towards the door.

My own little act of psychological warfare.