Thursday, 26 December 2013


No idea if anyone still exists on this thing, but if you do, or if you're just an internet nomad, I've finally gotten over my existential crisis and shifted to Facebook. You can find me heeeeeeeeeeere if you so choose :).


Friday, 26 April 2013

Going cold turkey

Yes that is a completely sincere, unironic and expositional title. For once. I really am going cold turkey.

Back in 2011 I wrote a post about my unintentional break from Coke. No, no one slept with the Xerox girl, it was just one of those things. Evidently, despite all my moxy, it didn't stick, because here I am yet again two years later in the same predicament. (Actually, that's kind of freaky; the original post was written on the 27th April 2011, which is ... tomorrow... *X-Files music*)

See, I got scared off Coke (as well as all other fizzy juice, duh) for a while because my mother kept going DIABETES. Then paranoia took me to Google where I discovered I didn't have any of the symptoms and that fizzy juice leads to diabetes is a myth (which is itself, in fact, a myth) (because it totally totally can give you diabetes). Thing is, exam season was coming around, final essays were due in, I had driving tests and applications and life purposes to find, all in the space of about 3 seconds. So I was Stressed. And when I am Stressed, I turn to Coke. Also, Vanilla Coke has been reintroduced to the wild, so obviously I had to go remind myself what that was like with a 1.5 litre bottle. My point is, when the Stress rolled into town and I thought I wasn't in danger of becoming diabetic, my intake of fizzy juice increased. By quite a lot. To the point where I might go for 3 days without drinking anything else.

Today followed the same pattern. I had a horrible Lit Theory exam and rewarded myself by indulging in the 2-for-1 deal on 1.5 litre Coke in the shop. Then my dad came in with a congratulatory / conciliatory 2 litre 50% extra bottle. My eyes lit up. My pupils turned into little mini Coke bottles. All I had to do to get the gift was listen to my dad tell me that scientists have just discovered that yadda yadda something something basically Coke = Diabetes.

I looked it up; apparently they've found that people who drink diet fizzy juice are 60% more likely to develop diabetes than those who drink 'full fat', as I do, because diet is ew. While on my little internet jaunt, I also discovered that in fact fizzy juice definitely can lead to diabetes, and then there were some horrible statistics that I've already repressed. After this, I wasn't so happy about the present.

Now, apparently I'm still at low risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, the symptoms of which manifest gradually over a period of years. Low risk = 1 in 200 chance of having it now, and a 1 in 20 chance of getting it in ten years. Or something. And knowing my luck, I'd be that one in 200. Also, apparently the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can come on really suddenly, over a period of just a few weeks.

So, I'm kind of flipped out.

I'm probably a little more flipped out than I would be otherwise, because of the way I found out I have epilepsy. When I was about 12 or 13, I started playing the Sims, and I always remember that at the start of the installation manuals there was a warning for people with epilepsy, and at that time I didn't know what that was, and for some reason, I didn't care enough to ask. But every time I got a new expansion pack or had to uninstall and reinstall that damn game, I was weirdly drawn to that section at the front about epilepsy. And then, when I was fourteen, I found out I had it. And it was like KABLAM - in retrospect it seemed totally signposted.

Call me irrational or superstitious or whatever, I probably am, but I feel like the same thing might be happening with the Coke / diabetes thing. Except this time I'm aware of the signs. So I should like heed them, and whatnot.

Which means that, after I've drunk this 1.5 litre bottle hiding behind my bed where I have been hiding bottles from my mother for months, like a true addict, I am going to stop drinking Coke and all its cousins, like, forever. Because my sight, and my limbs, and my life, are waaaaaaay more precious to me than a glass of Coke at the end of a stressful day.

And okay, that takes care of the drinking Coke part, but the damage might already have been done. That freaks me out. But even kind of more than that is why I feel I need the Coke in the first place. That's why I'm reluctant to stop drinking it, because it stands in for something I feel I'm lacking, and that lack is going to be even more obvious when the Coke ain't there to fill it up. And, although I am very fond of peppermint tea, I really can't see it replacing Coke, which is already a replacement for something else.

Substitutes for Coke I've come up with so far are: water, soda water, soda water and lemon / lime, tea, and um... soya milk? I guess? The last time I attempted to kick the habit I started drinking flavoured water, but I reckon that's probably almost as bad as Coke, so I'm going to stay away from anything processed. If anyone has any tips for beating the cravings, I would be extremely grateful!

Also, I know not that many people will read this, and I haven't been posting much lately at all, but I think it will help me to stay focused and motivated if I do regular check-in posts about this. It'll be like a visual measurement of my success (or failure).

Oh, and I'm going to keep that 3 litre beast in the kitchen cupboard because I feel much less antsy and more able to resist when I can see the thing I am resisting. Does Coke ever go off?

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

On the time I won the lottery, put iron maidens on my feet, and took a trip to the moon.

You know you're tired and have to stop writing essays when you write down the lottery results on a post-it to check against the screenshot of your mother's work-pool lottery ticket, realise she matched 3 numbers, and then when she asks you to show her, you see that the winning numbers and the ones you've written down on the post-it are the same and for about ten minutes you are a) convinced you have just won the £110,000,000 jackpot and the millionaire raffle, b) that the British Intelligence have infiltrated the lottery website and somehow know the numbers on that lottery ticket screenshot because now they are everywhere, and c) that you might be at that moment surrounded by silent helicopters and guys with guns and camouflage about to pound on your front door, haul you away and interrogate you about ESP.

And that totally, totally did not happen to me.

So, moving swiftly on -- to apologies for continually committing the blogging equivalent of a hit and run. It's not that I didn't want to comment, I reeeeeeeeally did. It's more like, I commented in my head, and then vowed to come back later and actually post the comment, but invariably secondary reading about the Gothic novel/voice in post-45 literature (WTF?) consumed my manners, and my brain, and turned me into a zombie. My coping mechanisms included watching two episodes of Daria per day, dancing to the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack when creatively frustrated, and drinking way too much Coke.

I know, I make it sound like a John Carpenter movie, but really I enjoyed this semester a lot. Third year was the first year that I felt actually really settled and established in uni, and like I wanted to integrate myself more, because by this time next year I'll be done, and I won't see any of the amazing people (most of the Yahs seem to have died out, thank God), or be able to use the amazing library, or walk around the quad in the snow, and I'll have to actually get a real job and pay bills, and stuff. One of the highlights of the semester was Glasgow author Louise Welsh coming to talk to us about crime fiction and where she gets her ideas and stuff. She was awesome, and by the end of the hour I kind of wanted to run away and marry her, but sadly Zoe Strachan's already beaten me to that.

I do have upcoming exams, but the nice thing about my uni is they time everything perfectly with people's birthdays, so that the end of the semester/start of study period starts with a birthday, and ends with a birthday. Or two. Or three. Thing is, most of them are going to be twenty-firsts because my lot are getting old now. They realised they were no longer little girls, but little women etc. Which is quite apt because none of us are any taller than five foot four. Which is why we wear heels. I say 'we' because last night I became part of that group of masochists, and I can say with almost absolute certainty, that I am getting the damn hell out and that anyone who voluntarily subjects themselves to binding death-spikes to their feet on a regular basis needs their head examined. I admit that part of my dislike of high heels has always had a kind of quasi-feminist element to it, and I stand by that because NOTHING IS WORTH THAT PAIN, and I could go on, but I won't. But I also have to admit that the dress I was wearing did look better with the added four inches of height, and the shoes are gorgeous and kind of steampunk, if I can apply that to shoes. However, the night that ends up with me walking around the West End at half one in the morning in naught but my invisible tights on the frozen frozen frozen ass ground, dangling the foot version of Iron Maidens from my fingers, and looking quite destitute, is not a night I want to repeat. I was promised, over and over, not only by my 'friends' but by Lorelai Gilmore, that the pain would eventually turn to numbness. But that was a dirty rotten lie. Every step I took produced vivid images in my mind of the balls of my feet exploding in tidal waves of blood. And before you ask, no, the vanilla coke float, although the most amazing drink I've ever had in my puff, did not make up for it.

Maybe you (yeah, YOU, reading this), were expecting some kind of fantastic conclusion, some pearl of wisdom, some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, but honestly, the traumatised state of my brain and the amount of spelling mistakes flagged up in this post are telling me to go do something brainless, until I like, regrow my brain. I said brain a lot there. Braiiiiiiiiin.

And goodbye.

OH NO WAIT. I did have this super-awesome dream last night that me and my parents went on one of the first chartered flights to the moon, and we stayed there in an old white-washed ramshackle cowboy type house, with a young cowboy, in the middle of a kind of moon-desert, and everything was dusty with moon-dust, and there was no daylight but there was oxygen and I saw Jupiter, like spinning around with its eye and its many little moons and I woke up thinking I HAVE BEEN TO THE MOON. It was pretty great.

Friday, 25 January 2013

In conclusion, my life is not meaningless, thanks for asking.

So on Tuesday I opted for sleep over my 10am lecture due to unshakable tiredness...which didn’t however prevent me from watching early morning cooking shows, and then America’s Next Top Model. Go figure.

Anyhow, probably around the ten-twenty mark there’s a knock at the door. I answer it, still dressed in my dressing gown, and find two women on the other side. One has Scary Blue Insistent Eyes and the other has a Black Jacket and Monosyllabicitis. As far as I can tell, her whole job throughout the following story was to nod enthusiastically with Scary Eyes at significant moments, and to generally be a wingman. woman. person. thing.

When I open the door, Scary Eyes is visibly discomfited at finding what looks to be a slacker, and not, say, a submissive old person, or someone she gathers she might actually be able to have an intelligent conversation with. Cause, you know, all youth are scum with zero brain cells and absolutely no interest in anything not associated with Michael Bay, or talcum-powder looking substances. Right.

But she plows on nonetheless, because I might be dumb and uninterested, but I will definitely notice if she turns around and leaves without saying anything, and will overcome my inbred laziness to complain vociferously about her failed game of chappy.

There’s some preamble which I can’t remember and then she cuts to the crux:
SE: What are your beliefs on God and the Bible?
Not even a perfunctory May I ask, just straight in there with the personal private question. And a pretty big question at that when I’m still in my pj’s and the sun ain’t even warm yet. But because I need to give her an answer,

Me: Uhh, well I was brought up Catholic...? It might be a thin answer on the surface, and not really an answer at all, but you may be able to gather from that ellipsis (if you want to get technical, it’s actually an ‘aposiopesis’, apparently) that I am experiencing Religious/Spiritual Ambivalence.

SE: Mhm, and do you believe in Creation?
I like to think it was partly to do with the earliness of the hour and the Unshakable Sleepiness and the lack of an audible capital at the start of Creation that I didn’t immediately twig she meant the whole ‘In the beginning...’ stuff at the start of the Bible. Anyways, I guess I kind of gawped at her, because she clarified,

SE: Do you believe in the Creationist point of view?
Again, a kind of a big question that can’t really be answered on the spot when you have the aforementioned Existential Ambivalence. So she backlit it for me:

SE: Let me put it this way - do you believe in Evolution?
This was something I knew the answer to pretty much right away.

Me: Yes, yes I definitely believe in Evolution.
This seemed to be what she’d been expecting, which I initially thought was a good thing and was all yay! until she continued,

SE: Well did you know that people who don’t believe in Creation, and who do believe in Evolution, also believe that life has no meaning?
And there were so many things wrong with that sentence I was bulldozed into quietude. Aghast. Flummoxed. Flabbergasted. 

SE: I mean, you know, because all life is just a biological progression...?
And at this point, slightly flustered by my silent non-reaction, she did this weird hand gesture, as if she was surreptitiously pushing all the Evolutionists off a cliff. I guess it was supposed to show the ‘biological progression’ but it looked all wrong to me. But lo, she was not done,

SE: Would you like to believe your life has no meaning?
The thing is, her eyes were scary because they were kind of magnetic, not because of any charm she had, but because of her sheer dogmatic determination to make me pay attention. They weren’t hypnotic, just insistent, like I said. But she had this really kindly sweet voice, and between that and her eyes like holding me to her, for a moment I couldn’t untangle the meaning from the words. And then it hit me: she was saying that because I believe in Evolution, my life has no meaning. I was not just damnable, but damned, and worthless and meaningless as long as I believed that a long, long time ago a fish crawled out of the ocean and grew legs and eventually a conscience. A total stranger was standing on my doorstep, judging me. Which is very unChristian. I don’t think I’ve ever been so affronted, or insulted, in my life. Simply writing this out won’t convey any of the import that actually went on, like when you tell someone about a really terrifying nightmare and it just sounds really silly in the light of day, but trust me, that is what she meant, and that is how I felt.
So I like knit my brows together and said,

Me: No, of course not.
You know that part in You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan’s character is typing away to the Tom Hanks character about how she can never think of the right thing to say exactly when she needs to say it, but can think of it perfectly fine a couple of days later? Yes. That. Here.

Anyway. Then she blabbered on about this little Creationist booklet they’d put together, pointing out merits such as bright colourful pictures of turtles and coral reefs and short paragraphs (you know, cause I’m five and have the attention span of a goldfish), totally overlooking the brainwashing content. At least I assume that’s what it is. I haven’t looked at it; I slapped it down on the kitchen table so anyone who passed through the house would see and I could rant. There’s a small part of me that’s anxious if I do read the booklet, that I will be brainwashed (maybe this is because I’ve just read A Clockwork Orange??), and if I’m going to start believing in something I want it to be on my own terms and not because some bitch posing as a Christian came to my door and told me my life was meaningless unless I started believing the parable at the beginning of the Bible which was never supposed to be taken literally anyway.

Then she turned to the back page of the booklet and highlighted an interview with a SCIENTIST, you know, a SCIENTIST, who by dint of being a SCIENTIST believes in evil evil "Evolution" and is therefore bound for the heathen home of fire and brimstone, except for the fact that in this interview she, this SCIENTIST, asks what does it all matter what you believe because ultimately you’re coming home to God, and for that she will be spared an endless existence in the lake of fiery non-death, maybe getting off with a light millennium or two. SCIENTIST.

And then,
SE: Now is it a fluke we’ve caught you at this time (ha, nice one), or are you usually in just now?

Me: Given the positive connotations of the word ‘fluke’ I’m gonna have to say, fuck no.
Actually, I said,


SE: Well is there any time we could come back to hear what you think about it all, having read the booklet?

Me: Ugh, sure, whatever.

SE: Well, we’ll be back around some time soon, then. Goodbye!

So I’m going to try to unpick this because it’s two days later and I’m still angry about it and I want to set my record straight.

I’ll start by saying this, to show that I’m not coming at this from a defensive non-religious point of view. Until I went to uni, being around religion and religious people was normal for me. I went to Catholic schools, and up until I was 16 I went to church every Sunday. I even went on a pilgrimage to Bosnia Herzegovina. My mother’s side of the family is pretty devout, while my dad’s is not, and this is epitomized in the two of them. So I like to think I’ve been exposed to two different outlooks on religion and spirituality and therefore have a more balanced and less angsty view than I might otherwise have done. But I was very much conditioned into the Catholic way of thinking, like all my friends were, and when that happens I think it’s only natural that you eventually break away from it in order to form your own opinions on the philosophy you’ve taken for granted up till then. I guess that’s what I’m doing now. I don’t know what I believe, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be certain, but I do know that during the periods of anger and resentment when I’ve told myself I don’t believe in God in one way or another, I’ve felt extremely lonely. It’s obviously true that religion is a comfort, but that shouldn’t trivialize it.

Even though I’ve become kind of estranged from my religion, I’ve felt the urge to defend it in the past few months. I never expected to feel quite so protective of it, as though it were a living infant or something, but when you’re being openly judged by people simply because of your religion I think that’s bullshit. Like it’s this thing that suddenly transforms you in the eyes of other people, when actually it’s their own prejudices. I might not be a strong ‘believer,’ but that in no way means I disagree with religion. I might have a natural disinclination toward being preached at, being told I’m sinning, being told that women are inferior to men, that homosexuality is unnatural and wrong, and all the other stupid fucking short-sighted old-fashioned disgusting hypocrisies all wrapped up in religion—I hate all of that, but that is not all of religion, and that is not the way all religious people feel or think.

And those people who aren’t even gracious or decent enough to simply be atheist or agnostic and personally take nothing to do with religion, but have to actively and proudly declare themselves as against religion, and will cite examples of their opposition like shining trophies of peacemaking when really it’s akin to the political dictatorships they also profess to be against? Yeah, I fucking hate those people. And I have personally known them. That attitude is vile and offensive, and worst of all, it’s blindly, obnoxiously hypocritical. I have no time for those people. They don’t deserve an opinion, because they sure as fuck can’t form one.

This type of person’s favourite argument against religion seems to be that it causes too many wars. I’ve always taken this at face value and kind of gone ‘oh’re kinda’ But thinking about it, it almost isolates religion as being the number one instigator of war. Um, religion isn’t a living being, okay? It can’t decide whether it wants to go to war or not. It’s people ‘fighting in the name of religion’, not religion itself, and those people who ‘fight in the name of religion’ are extremists and do not represent the majority of people with faith. Or maybe even in history, the minority. My point is, religion on its own does not promote war; fucked up people using religion as a band-aid for their cracked minds do that.

Secondly, that argument (that religion is bad because it is the root cause of too many wars) has a major flaw: it seems to imply that religion isn’t a good or justifiable reason for war, but that there are good and justifiable reasons for war. Which there aren’t. Nothing is worth that much human destruction. It is a really stupid ignorant horrible argument that doesn’t take into account its own fallacy and also all the wonderful benefits people derive from religion.


Bearing that in mind, I just want to go back to that key thing Scary Eyes said, that people who don’t believe in Creation and who believe in Evolution necessarily believe that life has no meaning. Um, what kind of dumbass generalization is that? And what kind of crack leap of logic? I’m fessing up: I haven’t read the Bible, and I haven’t read Darwin’s stuff on Evolution, so my argument is coming purely from anger and not from academia. But this is exactly the thing (or one of the things) I hate about philosophy. The whole ‘if x is true then it follows that y...’ when it’s just not like that. The world, people, thoughts, ideas, beliefs—all of that stuff does not package down into this like neat little box or system of rules and regulations. If I believe in Evolution, why does that mean I also have to believe that life has no meaning? I don't believe that, so it's blatantly untrue. What right did Scary Eyes have to tell me what I do or do not believe? No one has the right to tell anybody else what they do or do not believe. That, as far as I’m concerned, is a total infringement of your rights as like, a cognizant human being. And you know the really twisted thing that’s just occurred to me? By telling me that I must believe my life has no meaning because I believe in Evolution, whereas it would have meaning if I believed in Creation, she was kind of creating her own ideological Heaven and Hell. Like, she wasn’t even discrediting Evolution, she was treating it as representative of some inherent evil or weakness or sin or ignorance or something in me.

You know what it was? It was scare tactics. It was intimidation. It was degradation. It was bribery, like, obviously her goal is for conversion to the Creationist belief system, and to do that she was trying to scare me into thinking my life, my existence, everything I do or say or think or feel, was meaningless—but that it could all be meaningful, if I just got a totally new belief system. Like it’s not integral to your whole identity as a person. Like it’s something you can just switch, like your brand of coffee, like from caffeinated to decaf. I mean, what the fuck? To trivialise beliefs like that—doesn’t that kind of undermine her whole point? If they’re so trivial, what do they matter anyway? If they don't matter, what the hell's she doing at my door?

So I was ranting to my parents about this all last night, and my dad told me this story of when he was staying in Devon with all the hippies, and two young guys came to the door wanting to sell their religion. Now, my dad might not subscribe to the Catholic ideology, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t highly interested in alternative spiritual ideologies. In fact, that word pretty much sums up my dad: he is alternative. So the two guys say, can we have five minutes of your time to talk to you about our religion? And my dad said, sure, I’ll listen to you for five minutes, if you’ll then listen to me for five minutes. They struck a deal. So the two guys talk about their religion for five minutes and my dad listens patiently and attentively. At the end of the first five minutes, my dad begins his by explaining he still doesn’t subscribe to their views, and here’s why—and the two guys cut him off with expostulations of ‘How—? Why—? Just listen—!’ And my dad responded with, ‘You had your five minutes, now let me have mine.’ Again he tried, and again he was cut off. The third time it happened my dad simply said, ‘Well, that’s it, you won’t let me share my own views [because you’re too busy ramming yours down my throat], so you’ll have to go. That was the deal, and you couldn’t stick to it, so CYA.’ Okay, my dad doesn’t say ‘cya’ but you get the idea. And the moral of the story, kids, is if someone tries to impose their beliefs on you and won’t listen to what you have to say, you the person they want to take on these beliefs, fuck ’em. All they’re interested in is statistics, power, homogenization, brainwashing, whatever you want to call it. If these cold-callers actually want to complete their mission, which is to encourage more people to participate in a religious life, they need to seriously rethink their game plan. Because that right there? That pushed me away from religion, not towards it.

And, in case you are wondering Scary Eyes, my life is meaningful. And I am the only person on the planet who has the authority to say that.