Monday, February 12, 2018

New year goals

I wrote about what I wanted out of this new year.  I was at quite a low point when I wrote this but it seems I have already achieved some things. Let's see:

  • Find a work/life balance and Spend more time with my toddler.

Achieved.  I go part time soon.  I am so relieved.  I am already happier and planning things to do with my son.

  • Teach the toddler to say thank you, tidy up after himself and like vegetables.

This should be achievable when I'm part time and have more energy to parent him.  Mind you, he's already started saying sorry and excuse me more, so part of him learning thank you and please and other manners is just waiting for him to get old enough to get it.  I also want to teach him table manners because right now he's atrocious and I don't feel like I can take him out to lunch.  Although going part time will mean I can't afford to take him out to lunch.  As for the vegetables, he's starting to broaden his tastes anyway, nibbling on the odd bit of green stuff.  I will be following the advice in the First Bite book I mentioned in my last blog post and hopefully he will have a greater range of tastes soon.

  • Spend less money.

Going part time means I will have less money to spend, so this one should be easy...

  • Get my asthma and knee twinges under control/Do yoga a few times a week/cycle to work more

My asthma is already loads better - preventive inhalers are the bomb.  When my asthma is better I should be less prone to chest infections which means I will be able to cycle more.  being part time means I will spend more time on my feet and less at a desk which should be good for my health and my knee and. Doing yoga will mean that my knee should get better as well. I have had problems these last few days so I did a few sun salutations and seated forward folds tonight and was a bit narked at how far I didn't move.  So, another reason to do more regular stretches.

  • Work on reducing my trichotillomania symptoms

I've not done anything about this yet. I appear to be pulling less at work, which is good, I hope that will continue.  I plan to get electrolysis on my chin done too, if I can afford it.  If that gets rid of some of the fuckers then my trich should reduce.

  • Be more appreciative of my parents

I'm trying.  I've certainly be more truthful (in a kind way) to them recently.

  • Give up sugar for lent

This will happen from Wednesday.  I will give up all processed sugar, including savoury food that has sugar added to it.  The exceptions are that I will keep eating honey and I will have alcohol as normal.  So about twice a month then.  I might blog it.  It might not be interesting and might just detail my dreams of cake, but wevs.  My blog, my writings.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Books that I have read recently

Some thoughts about a few things I have read recently:

First Bite - How we learn to eat by Bee Wilson
This is a non fiction book I recently finished reading. I don't think I've ever been so enthralled by non fiction. This book is highly readable and absolutely fascinating.  There are 8 chapters - Likes and dislikes, Memory, Children's food, Feeding, Brothers and Sisters, Hunger, Disorder and Change.  It covers how tastes are formed, why babies and toddlers don't like certain tastes, how we can teach children - and adults- to change their tastes, the relationship between eating and hunger and how family affects how we eat.  And more.

Seeing as I have a vegetable refusing 2 year old this book was a real eye opener.  It's not a parenting guide, it isn't about getting your child to eat, but it does contain some useful info about eating well.  A lot of it is written from the viewpoint that a great majority of people have disordered eating patterns, that we don't eat purely to fulfil hunger and that anyone can change their tastes with time and repeated exposure to new tastes.  I took a few things away from it, which are:


  • We should enjoy every mouthful we eat.  If we don't like what we are eating, we should change it.
  • If you want to enjoy new flavours, try them.  Try them repeatedly.  Give yourself  20 or so exposures to them before you decide if you like them or not.
  • Cooking and eating should be pleasurable.  You can learn to enjoy cooking and eating.
  • Children don't like bitter food.  But they can learn to.  If they refuse vegetables, don't turn it into a battle, don't hide veg in the rest of their dinners.  Offer them tastes of things outside of mealtimes, a lick will do, or a tiny pea sized amount of it the new food, which they can put in their mouth and spit out again.  Reward the try with a sticker or similar, do not reward them with chocolate or other food.  persevere with new tastes.  They will get it eventually and they can learn to like bitter food.
  • If we feed our children sweet things to cheer them up when they are little, or as a reward for doing a good thing, then they grow up to associate sweet things with feeling good, and these sweet things become comfort food.  If we were to reward our kids with healthy food they would grow up to associate healthy veg etc with comfort.  Wouldn't that be a fab thing.
  • Children's formula milk is manufactured to taste sweet because that's what adults think children's food should taste like.  The tastes and likes of children are most heavily influenced between the ages of 4 and 7 months.  What they eat then has a correlation to what they like as older kids and adults.  If we flavoured formula milk with spinach or other veg they would be more open to these vegetables as they get older.
  • Breastmilk contains the flavours of what the mother eats.  However eating lots of veg and other good stuff does not guarantee that the toddler will like vegetables.  Don't I know it.
  • When a child or adult is disgusted by a food they are genuinely disgusted.  Force feeding them the food won't make them like it, it will just continue to disgust them. If you want to get over your disgust of a certain food you need to repeatedly an gently expose yourself to it over a period of time.
  • Food is a joyous thing and it's quite sad that lots of people don't enjoy a wide range of flavours and textures.


Bike Topia - Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures
This is a brilliantly enjoyable set of short science fiction stories which involve the use of bicycles.  I think cycling is the most civilised way to travel, and in a future where there may be little petrol or diesel available it makes sense that people will rely on bikes.  And that those in power will control the use of bikes.  I enjoyed all stories apart from one, which I found quite disturbing, but that's down to my personal sensitive points.  Find more info about the book here:
https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/6675

Hitler's Forgotten Children by Ingrid von Oelhafen and Tim Tate
This is a non fiction book about the children of the Lebensborn - those with racially pure parents that were selected to be raised in Nazi ideology and to form the Nazi warriors of the future.  I'm halfway through and so far we have mostly covered Ingrid's early post war life and been given an overview of her adulthood.  As a young child she found out her parents fostered her and I have just got to the bit where she is discovering that she was a Lebensborn child and she is trying to track down her biological family.  This is a really interesting book that makes clear the horror of a government directed drive to create racially pure citizens, and shows how not knowing your origins can seriously affect your life.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Plastics

I've been thinking about how much plastic I use. I want to do a list of all plastics I use in a week but that might be a bit much.  I might start with noting down all the plastics I use in a day. I wonder how much I really use and how much I rely on. And how much I recycle and avoid.

If there are any environmentalists reading this can theh explain why plastic is the worst substance? Is it because it is so prolific due to being cheap and easy to manufacture, in which case if we used metal instead would that become as big a pollutant? What about rubber? Is there such a thing as synthetic rubber?

Or is it simply because it takes so long for plastics to break down? Presumably all metals will rust and degrade much quicker. And rubber will degrade too.  Having saud that, i know that rubbish heaps on landfill don't rot because there is no air in the heaps. So all that crap just stays there, piling up, until big holes are put in it and then maybe the decomposition process will start.

All the plastics and crap we throw away make me feel quite ill. I try to live by the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle, but I'm not as good at it as I would like to be.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New year

I don't usually do new year resolutions. I think they are bound to fail because there is usually little structure to themand little support to continue with them. On a soggy March day or, a grim January, or even a sunby summer day you feel mentally miles away from 31st December and the goals no longer seem relevant or doable.

However, I have been thinking a lot about my life and the direction it is going in lately and I am starting to think I do need to do tjings differently. Not just for 2018, but in general.

I would like to:
Find a work/life balance.
Spend more time with my toddler.
Teach the toddler to say thank you, tidy up after himself and like vegetables.
Do yoga a few times a week.
Spend less money.
Work on reducing my trichotillomania symptoms.
Be more appreciative of my parents.
Get my asthma and knee twinges under control.
Cycle to work more - don't get the bus because it is easy.
Give up sugar for lent.

I feel like a lot of these things could be done if I had a better work/life balance. My job is very demanding and leaves me with little energy or headspace to do any of these other things. I was having CBT for the trich and I was doing really well, but work got on top of me and I had to stop.

There are other things I want to do as well. Some are everyday, like continuing to crochet, draw and wear more makeup, but these are part of my everyday routine now so don't feel hard to do.

Others are wishful thinking, like lose weight, tone up, become a size 10. But these aren't genuine wishes, they are internalised cultural pressures and they are bullshit.

I might end up writing about the things I do do, but am wary of this turning into a health blog. I don't want to be someone advocating for a way of life, or someone who inspires others to diet or exercise. I want to write for myself.

I've just noticed there is nothing about comics on this list.  It feels so eerie for comics to be such a minor part of my life now. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Comic reviews

Just found this post in my drafts. May as well publish it!

Supergirl - Being Super 1
This has the most accurate teenage girl dialogue I have heard in a long time. It's vulgar and brash and loving.  It sounds like the teen girls conversations I hear on the street.  I don't know how this comic came about but it seems to be about a Kara who doesn't know her origins, and I don't recognise her parents' names either.  I'm not sure I've read any Kara story like this before, so I am quietly pleased I found it.  Includes a queer best friend too.

Supersons 1
This hasn't quite the carmarderie of Superman/Batman titles but give it time and the creators could get there.  I might try a few more issues.

Klaus and the Witch of Winter one-shot
A lovely myffic story about Father Christmas and his role in winter, with a lovely bit about how winter turns into spring, which felt very apt as this week the trees have turned to blossom and it's possible to go outside without thick winter wear on.

Books and comics

Recently I have read a few more books - the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and two Tiffany Aching Discworld books (spoilers for the final Discworld book - A Shepherd's Crown).  I have also read a few comics.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

This has a bright pink cover and I thought it would be some sort of feminist call to arms. It's not. It's a boarding school story. It's about friendship (female friendship), finding yourself, grief, the impact of anorexia on the family, grief and loss. And guilt. I expect with grief there is always guilt.

I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. I was deeply suspicious that it would turn out to be a tacky slasher killer book. It wasn't. It was warm, and tender, but I felt like I had to search for those feelings. Because I was concerned where it would go I couldn't fully sink into it. If I read it again I think I'd appreciate it much more.

I wasn't impressed enough to seek out other Cat Clarke books, but if I see another in a charity shop I'd give it a whirl. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I had high hopes for this book and I was sorely dissapointed.

The premise is that women one day develop this electric power. It starts in teenage girls then is passed to older women. This overturns the status quo of all societies and in the end there is a cataclysm.

The book starts with letters between a male author and a fenale editor (or possibly friend) discussing his manuscript. This is 5000 years in the future, post cataclysm when there is very little historical evidence of life before the cataclysm. The manuscript is the novel and it attempts to explain how women got the power and how the events that led to world wide disaster unfolded.  The book ends with further letters discussing the merits and plausability of the novel.

My issue with the book is I don't see the point of it. It's themes are that power corrupts and that the female gender are just as capable of violence as the male gender.

To me, this is an obvious point and it doesn't need a full book to make it.  The letters between author and editor/friend are enough to make this point.  It would have been a far more effective book if it was just letters between the author and editor/friend.

A few scenes in the book were difficult to read - these were mostly those that showed how power went to the women's heads and the structural inequalities that developed year on year.  I think the reason these were hard to read was the feeling of futility that these scenes created.  It's such an utterly miserable view of the future.

Recently I have been banging on about why the Wonder Woman film is so good, and its because the theme in that is that love conquers all and love is worthy. It's so positive, even throughout the scenes of horror, like the no man's land scene. Humanity does awful things to each other but if we believe in love we can make things better.

There isn't any positivity in this book. I compare it to Malorie (?) Blackman's Noughts and Crosses which made black people the dominant race and white folks the oppressed. Noughts and Crosses showed us the horrors of racism but there was positivity from the characters, someone to root for. The characters recognised the shitness of the system and fought against it.

No one really fights against the system in The Power. Everyone is self interested.  Vengeful.  Power corrupts all.

Admittedly in Noughts and Crosses the racebent nature of the world highlighted the privilege and systemic racism I as a white person benefit from. Whereas in the genderbent world of The Power I am well aware that what the men suffer women suffer everyday, in this world. Maybe this book would be a kick up the arse to men who read it.

However I just don't like reading such negative stuff. I want my books to make me feel lifted, to give me stories of endurance and generosity, of strength of will and companionship, of love and trust. Of good things for even a small amount of people. The Power does not give me that. It brings me down and just reminds me what a shit unfair deal women have.