Wednesday, 21 October 2015


It's not been a good fortnight. My much-desired, long-delayed day off on Friday the 9th was fine, but it only made me more keenly aware of what I'm missing by not taking the remaining 19 days I'm entitled to. It made me resentful and moody over returning to work on Monday. This was not helped at all by being faced with the Christmas schedule. I don't see how it's possible for me to stop working any earlier than the 24th of December. That means missing my street's Christmas party, it means either travelling down to my parents' house with a bulky bag of presents or spending Christmas eve wrapping everything for everybody. It means working hard every day until Christmas and not being sure that's enough.

This bad start to the week was not aided by another period of finding everything dissatisfying. No matter what I did when I got home, I was apathetic about it, unenthusiastic. I forced myself to buy some things I needed (a coat, present supplies for a crafty present I am making), I did some colouring, I went to choir but... it's just so frustrating when I'm forcing myself to do these things, when I'm not enjoying anything or getting any satisfaction out of them. I was afraid this mood would infect my much-anticipated viewing of Miss Saigon on Friday. Fortunately, I had a counselling session on Thursday that helped get some feelings out which I think helped. Thursday evening and Friday were certainly better than the rest of the week. 

The weekend was... fine. Then Monday morning I woke up realising I'd forogtten to do some work on Friday which meant the Mirror went all weekend without having its codebreaker hint lines available. As a perfectionist, this burdened me with a lot of shame and anger (at myself) and anxiety. Once again, there’s that feeling of not enjoying anything in the evenings to contend with. I found some drawing lessons, forced myself to make some progress, cooked, even donated to a good cause but none of it made me feel like life means anything. 

Then I put myself forward for some criticism of my online dating profile. That may not have been a good idea.
"The obese girl in a t shirt with no makeup and flat hair isn't going to do well in dating."

"Lose 60 pounds." 

"Overall if you're not getting the responses that you would like from men that you like, the only thing holding back is your weight."

"Harsh reality you're probably already aware of, but being overweight makes it a lot harder to date."
I know it's all true, and I know I'm not entitled to love or a relationship. I just wish 'harder to date' wasn't 'impossible to date'... 

Most of all, I wish I knew what to do to fix the 'nothing is satisfying' feeling. 

Maybe counselling tomorrow will give me another good day and a half, but shouldn't my week be made up of more than 1.5 good days, 2 'fine' days and 3 awful days? 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Random Round-Up (July)

This tip of my tongue website is just brilliant. I was looking for the word 'retroactively' (as you do) and could only think of 'in retrospect' which isn't quite the same thing. Collins thesaurus couldn't help me, neither of two very clever wordy friends could think of the world I meant, google searches for 'backdate synonym' and 'retrospect synonym' had turned up nothing. This website, on the other hand, with only the fact the word I wanted started with 'R' and meant 'retrospect' brilliantly found me exactly the word I wanted! There are also fields for word length and sounds like!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Random Round-Up (June)

I've been introduced to or reminded of some fabulously named indivuduals this month. First off, No Such Thing As a Fish (the QI podcast) informed me that the current governer of Idaho is called Butch Otter. His first wife, assuming she took her husband's name when she married, was called Gay Otter. This reminded me of American basketball player, actor and Minister Meadowlark Lemon III. Rebecca and I had great fun coming up with possible names for his children. My favourites include: Curlew Hickory Lemon, Nostalgia Hepzibah Lemon and Demeter Ovaltine Lemon. Basically, a surprising variety of words sound really good before the surname Lemon.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Progress: Single

I have been single for over three thousand days. It's been eight years, four months and I don't know how many days since I had a boyfriend. In that time, I have been on seven definitely-dates and three I-wish-these-were-dates. And for years, I have been telling friends, family and myself that I'm okay with that. Because that's what I do. I take all the uncomfortable feelings and I put them in as small a metaphorical box as I can and I pretend they're not there. 

And I haven't been lying exactly. I don't know if I want a boyfriend. I don't know if I could give up my free time enough to have one. I've never been in a good relationship, never been loved in a non-platonic way. So the benefits of a romantic relationship are mysterious to me and I don't know whether they're worth the cost. 

But I'm not happy with the bone-deep certainty pressed into me by my parents and aided by the weight of three thousand days alone that I am unloveable. I'm not happy with the knowledge (in my heart, it feels like I know) that if I am alone forever it will not be by choice but rather forced by circumstance. In eight years, I've met two people I'd have been interesting in dating, and three who professed to be interested in dating me. Sadly, no person was in both groups. 

If I haven't met anyone in eight years, am I ever going to? This rediscovering emotions thing is a rollercoaster. I've lost the ability to put those doubts, that sadness, that despair into a little box and ignore it. It keeps coming out, ambushing me at inopportune moments. It bothers me that I can't be 'strong' anymore. 

It's progress, but it kind of sucks.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Progress: Rediscovery

Along with rediscovering feelings, I've also been rediscovering aspects of my personality. As it turns out... I really like books! This will come as exactly no surprise to anyone who knows me. I did an English literature degree, I have masses of bookshelves in my parents' home, I get excited over being able to designate a 'book pocket' in my handbag. I am a book person. But over the last few years this has felt more and more like a lie. I barely read proper novels at all, except on the tube. On my worst days, I couldn't even be bothered to do that. My goodreads shows gaps of three months between books - several times. I became a person who talked about books (and sometimes listened to audiobooks) but didn't read
In the last few weeks, there's been a turnaround. I first noticed it when I was reading Finnikin of the Rock (see above). I actually enjoyed it. Not only that, but I wanted to read it when I wasn't on the tube. I got to choir early and I pulled out my ereader to keep reading. Even when friends arrived that I could have talked to, I preferred to keep reading. That hasn't happened in a very long time indeed. 

Then another thing happened. I stopped reading a book I wasn't enjoying. This is absolutely unheard of for me. I finish books. I finished Perfume even though it was both weird and disturbing (and not in a good way). I finished The White Witch even though the writing was pretty bad and the story so unremarkable I can't even remember what it was about now. I don't give up on books, I stick it out. Until now. I gave The Savage Detectives 93 pages before I decided I just didn't care anymore. I didn't care about the narrator, or which books by which obscure Mexican authors he stole from which Mexico City bookshop. I didn't care about either of the two girls he'd slept with, nor any of the friends he'd made. And so I stopped. 

I moved on to Fangirl. It was recommended by a new friend and I knew that if I waited until after another 400 pages of Savage Detectives it would be months before I got it back to her. Initially, I thought I'd go back to Savage Detectives after I finished. Now I know I won't. Why waste my life reading books I'm not enjoying? Why read books that make me not want to spend time reading? The clincher? I'll probably read more books total by not-finishing the ones that slow me down. 

I like reading again, and that's a great thing, even if I'm reading light and fluffy books like Fangirl

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Progress: Emotions

The Past

Growing up, expressing (negative) emotions never got me anything good. There were two possible reactions that I encountered:

1. 'I don't want to leave Singapore (the only home I remember).' Doesn't matter, it's going to happen anyway. 'I don't want to get rid of my toys/books.' Doesn't matter, it's going to happen anyway.
2. 'I'm being bullied.' Well, why don't you change so you're not as weird? 'I don't have any friends.' Well, it must be your fault.

As I grew older, the latter morphed into my parents' constant comments about my weight. If I were thin, obviously, I'd have a boyfriend, a better job, my friends would stop keeping things from me and lying to me. The onus was always on me to change. I still have trouble expressing dissatisfaction with anything that it's in my power to change. After all, if I haven't taken steps to correct the situation then I have no right to be upset about it.

Expressing negative emotions never got me comfort, or sympathy. I either got told to suck it up or else to fix the situation myself, without help. So eventually... I stopped. I started to bury my feelings as deep as I could. I became able to talk about the bad things that happened to me without batting an eyelid. I remember learning that a guy I was interested in at university didn't feel the same, and I felt nothing. My interest in him switched off immediately, because it was hopeless, and I wasn't upset or angry or disappointed. I felt like a robot.

The Present

It's taken over two years, but I'm finally starting to feel real emotions for basically the first time.

It's brilliant! I feel actual happiness again! I'd forgotten what that was like it's happened so infrequently. I can feel happy over a video game, over waking up on a sunny morning, over the prospect of stew for dinner. I feel connected to things. The world just feels more real. I can't explain how surreal it is, or how amazing.

On the other hand, it's terrible! As well as happiness - I feel sadness and anger more acutely than I have in years. Over big things and small. I feel frustrated, trapped, miserable. It's absolutely unbearable. Not Feeling has been my coping mechanism since before puberty. I've never learned how to deal with real emotions as an adult. I don't know how the rest of you live like this. When the negative feelings come (as is unavoidable in life) all I want to do is shove them back into a box and forget about them. It's the only way I know how to keep suriving on a day-to-day basis. Because crying at choir, at work, on the bus... that's not practical! So I want to numb it all again, because I don't know how to deal with it.

But if I do that, I'm not only not be making progress - I'll lose all the positive feelings too.

So I guess I need a new, healthier, coping mechanism, at least until the negative emotions stop being so new and raw and overpowering.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Film: The Stag

Honestly, pretty low. It was a Saturday morning, I was looking for something to watch while I waited for an acceptable time to make paella (lunchtime). The cover of this, and the title, don't exactly make it look like my kind of film. However, Adrew Scott is in it and since seeing him in Birdland I've become convinced that he's brilliant. So I figured I'd give it a shot.

It was brilliant! Andrew Scott's performance is wonderful and heart-breaking and perfect. The backstory of his character is barely hinted at in the beginning, then slowly, gradually the clues build up until the best scene of the film when it all comes spilling forth at once. The character of the bride-to-be's brother is obnoxious, but not in that unbearable, unfunny, 'I don't want to watch this' way. He was actually quite charming. The other characters are sweet and funny by turns. There's even music! I've been raving to everyone about this film since I watched it.

It's hard to think of anything. The cover/blurb don't sell this film well at all, and would have put me off but for Andrew Scott. Even looking at the cover now that I've seen it I still get that feeling of 'this is going to be cheap and unfunny' but it really isn't!

Favourite Quotation
I can't go into it without spoiling the film, but the scene the morning after the wild night in the woods is perfect. And actually, the film really builds to its conclusion from there without missing a beat.

Final Thoughts

Fantastic! Go watch it!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Random Round-Up (May)

Calibre — Another wonderful software find, recommended by my friend Dylan. I use a Sony E-reader and before now it's always insisted on sorting both 'Arthur Conan Doyle' and 'Douglas Adams' under 'A' when I organise my library by author. This is quite annoying, as it means I have to remember which books follow which convention if I want to find them. More annoying is that it lists two of the books by 'Kristin Cashore' under 'K' and one under 'C'. Unlike my audiobooks, I've never been able to find a way to edit the author field, or the title, so I've just had to put up with it. Now, though, everything is sorted handily by Author's surname, as I'd prefer, and I can even rename books so that series will show up in the correct order! I can finally get rid of the post-it in the back cover that lists the published order of the Sherlock Holmes stories! Amazing how such a small thing can make such a difference to my enthusiasm towards my e-reader. 

HintHunt — Is a real life room escape game. I went with people from work. A team of five of us were locked in a normal Japanese living room in a building in the middle of London and given 60 minutes to escape. There were padlocks, there were keys, there were hidden codes and clues. The second-most exciting moment was when the screen we'd thought was a wall slid back to reveal a second room. The most exciting moment was when we escaped with only 40 seconds to spare! The HintHunt employees (who were great) told us that the quickest the room has ever been escaped was in 53 minutes, so you definitely get your money's worth no matter how quick and clever you are. I'd absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys puzzles and team work. 

The Laidly Beast — I actually came upon this Scottish fairytale a couple of years ago, but I rediscovered it this month. It's hilariously weirdly written and well worth a read for that reason alone. I'll leave you with a quotation to show the kind of thing you're getting into:
He was a strong lad no doubt, powerful and fearless, but seeing his father hesitate, he bade him go to the smithy and ask the ironsmith to forge a sword of superior blade. The fisherman returned with a sword which he gave to his son. The young lad gripped the sword and sliced the air with it but the blade shattered under his wield, into a hundred fragments. The second time, his father returned with a mightier blade and the young lad gripped the sword and sliced the air with it but this time the blade broke into two halves...


Thursday, 30 April 2015

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Progress: 2

It's time to remind myself (again) of the progress I've made. Most days, I feel like exactly the same person I was when I was 24. When I think about my weight, and how I lost it only to put it all back on again, I think I've only moved backwards. But some days, I'm able to pinpoint small steps forward.

- This month, even when I lost all motivation to do anything for a week, I still managed to cook for myself. Real meals that involved vegetables and actual time invested in chopping and stirring and cooking.
- I've been reading on the train pretty regularly, instead of starting a book and then losing interest for days at a time.
- I bought new shoes (because the old ones were uncomfortable and falling apart) and new clothes (because they were falling apart to, and also to replace some of the more unflattering elements of my wardrobe with something better). In doing so, I found a top I'd forgotten I had.
- This year, I've been paying the bills in a much more timely manner. I don't think I've had to have a single reminder yet.

For balance, there are also some things I still need to work on. I haven't quite got the hang of doing everything a responsible adult is supposed to do down yet. If I cook regularly and keep up with my hobby-commitments, then tidying my room will fall by the wayside, or I'll forget to pay bills on time. How do proper adults do everything?! I suspect it has to do with learning not to think in such an all or nothing way. It's okay not to reply to hobby-related e-mails immediately if that means I can tidy. Doing every thing ever day makes me feel resentful of how much of my time I'm giving up, so I need to learn to spread it out.

Maybe I'll try having half an hour when I get home when I'm not allowed to immediately dive into the thing I most want to do, and instead have to find something that needs doing.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Random Round-Up (Easter)

Happy Easter! Since I'm not a religious person, Easter doesn't mean all that much to me - but I discovered a few Easter traditions while looking for magazine cover ideas and they're pretty, so I thought I'd share.
This is an Easter Egg Tree - or Ostereierbaum (link to wikipedia). Apparently, they're mostly found in Germany, Austria and other German-influenced places. Eggs are blown, decorated and hung on trees or bushes for Easter (or for May Day, Christmas, Whitsun or the Summer Solstice).
It's so colourful! Especially when it's such a big tree with so many eggs.
These are Pysanka - Ukranian Easter eggs made using a wax-resistant dying method. Very intricate and cool! These are generally given as gifts, and the colours / patterns on them will have some signifcance to the person you're giving them to.
There's even a Pysanka museum!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Good Days

I've been contemplating doing a post on ahedonia for a while — but I'm putting that off, because I'm actually having a good day, despite it's being only 9am. I had a good (half of a) day yesterday too. It speaks volumes about my life that having a good day is actually a noteable event, but instead of worrying about that, I'm just going to celebrate it!

Yesterday, I spent the morning being bombared by creative ideas for writing projects, none of which are feasible right now but just the experience of having multiple ideas all at once was so novel as to be disconcerting.

This morning, after several days/weeks of forcing myself through books I wasn't enjoying or carrying around books I couldn't even bring myself to read I actually enjoyed reading for the first time in over a month.

Turning to my twitter feed this morning reminded me of how many awesome films are coming up that I'll enjoy watching — The Scorch Trials, Cinderella, Inside Out. 

These may all seem like tiny insignificant things, but after months struggling with feeling like I can't enjoy anything at all, any bright spot is worth noting! 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Random Round-up: February 2015

While reading the wikipedia entry for Cinderella I came upon the following titbit of interpretation:
Another interpretation of verre/vair (glass/fur) suggested a sexual element - the Prince was 'trying on' the 'fur slipper' (vagina) of the maidens in the kingdom, as a 'droit de seigneur' right of sexual possession of his subjects. The disguised Cinderella's 'fur slipper' was of unique appeal to the Prince who sought her thereafter through sexual congress (a variety of sources including Joan Gould).
I thought this was a bizarre and slightly fascinating variant. I'm now imagining the Prince (played by Chris Pine, as in Into The Woods) as a sort of genre-savvy mastermind who just wanted to get his leg over a few times before settling to marriage and so invented this whole 'I must sleep with all the maidens in the land' method. Rather than, say, recognising the woman you danced with for three nights in a row! Googling Joan Gould led me to the book above, which looks pretty interesting. I've added it to my amazon wishlist, so expect a review in future.

Friday, 30 January 2015

January / February

January: Did I Panic? 

January is almost over so I thought I'd review my January goal and set a new one for February while I'm at it. My aim in January was 'Don't Panic' which I took one day at a time and I'm happy to report that I suceeded! The first issue of which I was 'acting editor' went to print on time with relatively little hassle. Stage one of the next issue is already almost complete so things are going well! There was only one day when I panicked a little and let everything get to me but that was a combination of work and anxiety about other areas of my life. I think one day out of 31 is pretty good! 

February: Somebody Else's Problem Field
“The Somebody Else's Problem field is much simpler and more effective, and what's more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people's natural disposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain.”
-Life, the Universe and Everything, Douglas Adams
What I learned from the one thing that did make me panic is that I am prone to worrying not only about my own situation but also about those of everyone around me. When, for example, I forwarded a job opportunity to a friend I started to worry about how she would get from her current location to London for the interivew, where she would stay, whether she would be able to afford the train fare on short notice. Another friend is moving to London later this year and I found myself worrying where he would live, what job he would get, etc.

I've always done this. I worry when my flatmate isn't home when I expect her to be. Not because I believe she's incapable of looking after herself but because... that's how I show I care. Worrying = caring. Realising this reminded me of something I'd read: 
"In a narcissistic family the responsiblity for the meeting of emotional needs becomes skewed — instead of resting with the parents, the responsiblity shifts to the child. The child becomes inappropriately responsibly for meeting parental needs and in so doing is deprived of opportunities for necessary experimentation and growth."
-The Narcissistic Family, Stephane Donaldson-Pressman and Robert M Pressman
As with much of the content of that particular book, this rings true for me. And is it any wonder that if I grew up always watching out for what my parents needed from me, always worrying about making sure they were all right in order to get love and apporval that I should continue to do so for my friends? 

However, it's no longer helpful - at least not to the extreme I take it to. And so, though I worry that it will sound 'selfish', my resolution for February is to notice when things are not my problem and to stop worrying about them. Or, to stick with the Douglas Adams theme, to construct a 'Somebody Else's Problem Field' around things that I do not need to be worrying about in the hopes that I will stop notice and thus they will stop making me anxious. 

This isn't to say, of course, that I'll stop caring about my friends or stop trying to be considerate of their needs and emotions. Just that I'll try to bring it down to some kind of acceptable level where it isn't getting in the way of my own life.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

New Year?

I was belatedly thinking about New Year's Resolutions / Goals earlier this week. Last year, I seem to remember, I had many - maybe even one a month. This year? Well, I have enough to worry about. I've been promoted, temporarily, so I'm doing and learning a new job while trying to teach someone else my old job. All with two very tight deadlines coming up. So why pile on a diet, or an ambition to read more, or an exercise plan? That'll just add more stress. Instead, I have a very simple monthly mission: 

Six days down, twenty-four to go!

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