Wednesday, 28 February 2018

What I read in February

February has whizzed past me in the blink of an eye! Here are some good things that happened this month:
  • I finished watching Gilmore Girls and I already miss it so much.  I haven't watched the revival yet because I thought it would be best to have some time in between... and also I'm afraid I won't like it as much.  I wish I lived in Stars Hollow.
  • Exploring Chester and Liverpool with my mum. It was a beautiful (but cold) weekend and I got to tick something off my bucket list - visiting Penny Lane!
  • A solo trip to the theatre to catch a matinee performance of Birdsong.  I enjoyed the show, it didn't quite live up to my expectations but they were very high as I loved the book so much.  It was a novel experience being at the theatre alone but sometimes it's nice to do your own thing, and it's something I think I'll do more if there are things on that Paul isn't bothered about.

I also read three books this month.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal 

I think there was a lot of hype around this one that it didn't quite live up to, for me. I hesitated over reviewing it on Goodreads but eventually settled on 3/5 stars.  It was easy to read but that struck me as almost a bad thing given the subject matter; it's centred around a politician accused of rape, his wife and the prosecution lawyer with alternate chapters from each point of view.  I felt it could have been much grittier than it was and some of the characters seemed under developed, especially the accused.  There were a lot of instances of him looking women up and down and the like which was obviously meant to show him for a mysogynist but it seemed a bit cliche to me.
The court scenes were interesting to read but actually take up quite a small amount of the book which differed from what I expected.  It had some interesting points to make about power and privilege in the context of abuse, but overall a bit underwhelming.

Speaking in Tongues: Curious Expressions From Around the World by Ella France Sanders


This is more of a coffee table book but I loved flicking through it.  It's exactly what it says on the cover: an illustrated collection of curious expressions from around the world.  One of my favourites is 'sliding in on a shrimp sandwich' (glida in på en räkmacka) which is the Swedish equivalent of someone being born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  Apparently shrimp sandwiches are something very fancy in Sweden! 
It's funny to think about how strange these sayings sound in English but equally how strange some of our idioms must seem to other cultures.  Language is so quirky and amazing.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (translated by Philip Gabriel)

The Travelling Cat Chronicles 

This was a lovely little book.  It follows Nana the cat and his owner Satoru as they travel the country visiting old acquaintances.  Satoru is looking for a new owner for Nana as for a reason unknown to the reader he soon won't be able to take care of him.  The chapters alternate between Nana's inner monologue and flashbacks to Satoru's time with each friend they visit.
At less than 250 pages it's a short, gentle read, the perfect thing to read in between bigger tomes.

Currently reading: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar.  Come back next month for a review! :)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Tinned Peaches

On the list of things I remember from spending time at my grandparent's house when I was little, tinned peaches are very near the top.  I can so clearly remember sitting at their kitchen table, eating peach slices in syrup.  I can picture the exact bowl and how I would split them in two, avoiding the fuzzy bit you sometimes get along the edge where they've been sliced too close to the stone; thick syrup dripping off the end of the spoon.

We had tinned peaches quite often and this memory isn't tied to any particular time, but when I think about it I see a beautiful day, sunlight streaming in through the kitchen window.  Maybe the back door was open - Grandma had one of those curtains made of colourful strips of plastic that would flap in the breeze.  Afterwards we probably played in the garden, pushed toy prams or rode bikes to the end of the drive and back again.

As I'm writing this, the sale of Grandma and Grandad's house is in progress.  It will belong to someone else soon.  I haven't really let myself think about it too much because it's so hard to accept that I'll never go there again;  for as long as I've been alive, it's been their house.  But I know that you don't need a physical place to hold your memories.  The pantry might be empty of tinned fruit and biscuits in tupperware boxes, but my heart will always be full, and there I'll always be able to find them.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Baz Luhrmann was right

Yesterday I decided to delete my Facebook apps from my phone.  I typed out a quick status letting my friends know they could contact me by text for the time being, and then got rid.  I haven't deleted my accounts altogether - although I might do when I can find time to go through and rescue all the photos - but I just wanted to take some time away.

I don't get much out of Facebook in general, I find it to be mostly endless memes and 'tag a friend' posts with only the occasional snippet of personal news and I'm usually only scrolling out of habit.  But my reason for taking a break is actually down to the 'On This Day' function.

It's like Baz Luhrmann said in Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen).

Trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked... You are not as fat as you imagine.

It hasn't quite been 20 years but boy do I know what he meant.

Nostalgia is BIG at the moment what with all the TV revivals, old style products making a comeback etc. and I love it for the most part.  I love being reminded of things from my childhood and reminiscing with my friends about our school days is one of my favourite things to do.  But sometimes, nostalgia comes with a longing for the time or moment or person past that physically aches and that's how I feel about Facebook memories.

'Nostalgia and melancholia are thick as thieves.' - Heather O'Neill, The Lonely Heart's Hotel

Being confronted with old photos of myself (and I do mean confronted, it was alright when it was in the sidebar and you had the option not to look, but it's usually the first thing at the top of the feed at the moment) was only making me feel more unhappy with my now.   They weren't making me smile like they should, they were reminding me that I don't look or feel like the girl in those photos any more, and how much I wish I did.  I'm actually a little bit jealous of her.  I had my insecurities then too but they were nothing compared to the ones I have now, although I felt them very sharply at the time.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, huh?

Related post: My Hair Story

It's not just about the photos either.  I've been on Facebook since I was 16 and the memories section is often a stark reminder of just how many people I've lost touch with over the years.

I usually look at social media in the morning while I'm getting ready for work, and on more than one occasion I caught myself thinking on this later on in the day.  I know they say you shouldn't compare your behind the scenes with everyone else's highlight reel, but they didn't say anything about your own.

Long story short, I realised that the easiest way to stop myself from getting sucked into comparing my life then and now was to limit my access, so Facebook and I are on a break, for now.  My memories are precious to me - I am a self-proclaimed memory hoarder in fact - but I'm not turning my back on them, just saving them for a time when I can look at them and smile.

I'm curious to know your thoughts on this one: have you ever taken a break from social media for similar reasons and did it help you?

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Three things about me

1.  I love to sing, but heaven forbid anyone might actually hear me.
2.  I don't believe there is such a thing as too many roast potatoes.
3.  I'm slowly making my way through Gilmore Girls.  I waited so long for Luke and Lorelai to get together, this better be it forever or I'm going to be so mad.