Alone

Alone is an interesting word. Just look at it up there. You immediately think “This is going to be a sad post” or “Uh oh, what’s happened in her life?” But it shouldn’t have to imply any of these things.

I was inspired to write this blog post last night. Friday night, alone in my house (not counting feline friends), watching The Following (fantastic by the way, you should catch it if you haven’t already). I thought of my friends, out at a party, or spending time with their significant others, and thought, gosh, I bet they think it’s a bit sad that I’m home alone on a Friday night.

But the weird thing was, I was happy about it. I’ve come to realise that inside, I’ve always been a bit of a loner. At high school, I tried to be friendly with everyone, but the truth was, when too many people were around, I just wanted to disappear. It’s only very recently that I’ve realised it’s okay not to be craving the company of others all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be alone 100%  of the time, but when I am alone, I’m okay with it.

People who are classed as “loners” usually get a bad rep. Movies and books always have the cliche serial killer profile “Oh he was always a loner, we knew there was something off about him”. Well, I can assure you, I’m not a serial killer. Nor do I have any plans to become one. I’m just a regular person who enjoys spending time on my own to read, write, draw… Lots of things.

So I guess this post is for all of you fellow loners out there (oxymoron?) Have a grand old time with the company of your good self, and own your loner status.

Obsessed…

So, as I write this, I’m sitting in a bar on a Monday afternoon – pretty good, right? I’m meeting a friend for dinner, and naturally, dinner is preceded by pre-dinner drinks. It just makes sense. Now, I’m not just bragging. There is a reason I tell you this. Said friend is running a tad late. This is no problem – a half hours peace with a glass of cider is never a problem. I order, I sit, and I instinctively hit the Kindle app icon on my phone. I’m in the middle of a book (Inhuman, by Kat Falls, since you ask) and half an hour free to read seems like a good thing.

However, I am seriously not enjoying this book. It’s a typical dystopia – this is how the world is, oh wait, it’s not, oh wow now I hate the government. I’m not knocking this – I love these books when they’re done well. This particular book though has thrown in the inevitable love triangle which I just have no interest in whatsoever. It started with Twilight (no, Harry, Ron and Hermione were never a love triangle, I don’t care what you say) and has been present in at least 83% of young adult books since (statistics are sourced from the Barney Stinson Institute). The plain girl being fought over by two very different but both very wonderful men has been done to death. Now, if this is what you’re into, fair play to you. You’ll enjoy this book. But it’s not for me.

There’s a simple solution – stop reading every dystopian book that crosses my path. But I have issues (one at a time, please). I am obsessed with this genre. I have no idea why. And the worst part is, even if I don’t like a book, I will finish it. I need to know what happens to the characters. Even if it’s characters I dislike or the outcome is obvious, I need to know. What does this say about me? Am I easily suckered in? Has every book I’ve read in the last couple of years had astounding character development? I have no idea. Is this a rather rambly blog post? Why yes, yes it is.

I suppose it could be seen as a good thing – I’m dedicated, and I have to see something through to the end, no matter what. Or I’m just pernickety about unfinished story lines. I’ll finish this book, and I’ll probably complain about how predictable it was. A glutton for punishment, you might say.

Is anyone else like this? Is there a solution? Answers on a postcard please…

Another Year Wiser

I recently celebrated yet another anniversary of my birth.  So much has happened over the last year.  I’ve met some amazing people, and some total assholes.  I’ve moved into a beautiful new home, adopted two gorgeous little kittens, and had what can only be described as a rollercoaster of a year at work.  I think, for the first time, I actually feel older.  Did anyone else wake up on their birthdays as a kid, rushing to see if they’d grown any since the day before, or try to work out how much maturity they’d gained overnight?  That was me.  Shockingly, I never noticed a huge difference.  But this year, something is different.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I feel like an adult (who does?) but I’m definitely not a little kid anymore.  At the very least, I have a pretty good idea of what I want from life.  And I’m ready for it :-)  Bring it on.

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The boys hanging out in one of their favourite spots

Birchbox UK – December

I was over the moon to receive my first Birchbox at the end of last month.  After years of watching YouTube beauty and fashion videos, and moping that I didn’t live in the US because they “got all the cool stuff”, it took approximately half a second for a Google search to reveal that in fact, Birchbox have been operating in the UK for years.  Whoops.  I signed up in about 60 seconds flat.

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Without wanting to sound like I’m the person who gets suckered into everything with a sales pitch, this is fantastic.  It’s like getting a completely random gift without having to go to the effort of having a birthday (why yes, I am justifying this by grasping at straws, how sweet of you to notice).  It’s quoted as costing only £10 per month, which is a wee bit of a fib, considering there’s £2.95 postage too.  But I’m pretty impressed with December’s contents (plus the first month is free postage!) so I’m not complaining.

My box included sample sizes of five products, as well as a full sized nail polish (photo above).  I’ve tested most of the products so far, and it’s fair to say I’m impressed. I would never have bought a full sized version of any of these products if I had randomly seen them in a shop.  I’ve always been sceptical of non-aerosol hair sprays, but this one has great hold, and definitely doesn’t leave the sticky feeling that regular hairspray does.  Ditto on the loose powder eyeshadow – no one needs anything that’s going to cause any extra fall out or mess.  But this is cute, and a gorgeous colour (Chai, according to the bottom of the pot).  The lip stain I haven’t tested on my lips yet.  I’m always wary about new lip products, as there’s “something” out there that I’m allergic to.  A slick of Nivea lip balm as a teenager taught me this – I had a swollen lip for weeks.  Not a good look.  I’ll try it over the weekend when I won’t have to walk into work looking like I’ve gotten into a fight.  Nice colour though.

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I’m really looking forward to trying out the Velvet Manicure polish that was included too. You can’t really tell from the photo at the top, but it’s a gorgeous purple colour.  That’ll be a job for the weekend.

Oh, and I forgot to say, all of the products came in the sweetest little Birchbox bag! It’ll be good for when I’m travelling and I want to keep my makeup brushes separate from the actual products (I have pretty bad luck when it comes to lids…)

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Can’t wait till next month!

The Return

Goodness gracious.  Four posts in 12 months does not a blog make!  2014 is the year of the blog though.  Maybe even the vlog.  Who knows!

In all seriousness, 2013 was some year.  It swung from low points to high points so quickly that recapping it would give both you and I whiplash, so let’s not.

Instead, let’s look forward.  It’s going to be a good year.

Storytelling

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed my last post was awfully close to heart. It’s been a while, and if one can’t vent on one’s own blog, where can one? I try not to do it too often though. I wouldn’t want to read it, so I wouldn’t inflict it on you.

A lot has happened these past months. I won’t bore you with it, but it’s safe to say I’ve grown up. But instead of trying to explain it, I’m going to talk about books instead. Because, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been reading GROWN UP BOOKS!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading the usual crap too. I had to break up some of the heavier books with some Sophie Kinsella trash, which can occasionally be worth a read; sadly not these ones. And I’ve read some fantastic Dystopian young adult books too, like Unwind and Wool (which has a dumb name in my opinion). I might write about those another time, but for now, GROWN UP BOOKS!

Disclaimer: I don’t do proper grown up books. I can’t be bothered with biographies. Dislike stories based on truth. My reasoning has always been: if a book upsets or disturbs me, I can put it down and remind myself it’s not real. Very mature response but that’s just me. So for me, this is a big deal.

I want to talk about storytelling. It’s a real art (not one I am implying I am master of in the slightest). So I read Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn). I read Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller. I read The Silver Linings Playbook, by … Matthew Quick (thank goodness for my Kindle app). And I read The Casual Vacancy, by the great JK Rowling. These are all without a doubt completely different to the Dystopian books I’ve been filling my brain with lately. And it completely and utterly bums me out to say that The Casual Vacancy was the one I enjoyed the least. Anyone who knows me knows that Mr Potter and I go way back.

But this is where the storytelling comes in. People will glance at this and assume I’m a fantasy nut, who couldn’t cope with JKR writing something without magic in it. And to be honest, I wouldn’t blame you. Read what I just wrote. But it’s simply not the case. Take The Storyteller. Anyone who knows me would have a heart attack if you told them I read a book that was mostly set in a concentration camp in World War II. Scary, real stuff that actually happened to thousands of people. But I was riveted. I loved the characters, wanted to know how it panned out for them. The Casual Vacancy didn’t have that. Every last character was as obnoxious as the next. But even this shouldn’t be reason enough to dislike a book. The two main characters in Gone Girl were complete and utter assholes, for lack of a better word. But I couldn’t put that book down. I needed to know if these idiots got the comeuppance. So why didn’t I like Vacancy? Why did I spend the whole book willing a meteor to fall out of the sky and crush the entire town of Pagford? I have this issue where I can’t leave a book unfinished, but I truly had to force myself to read this one. I had no attachment to any character. I didn’t hate them, I didn’t love them, I didn’t even merely like them. How did this woman, one of the greatest storytellers of our time, allow this to happen?

My own opinion is that there was too much shoved in there. I know it was supposed to show how the whole town was, but enough is enough. Don’t throw the girl who cuts herself in for shock value. Don’t casually bring in the awkward middle aged woman’s crush on what I can only assume was this universe’s 1Direction for the sake of a hastily written fumble. I can’t even remember any other points about the book. I guess I was rooting for Robbie and Krystal to an extent, hoping they’d escape to a better life. There was no redemption for any of the characters though, no happy ever after. I guess it just seemed pointless. Where did we go? We went on this journey with an entire town and I feel like we accomplished nothing. Silver Linings Playbook dragged on a little, but at least by the end we had the full story.

So that’s my opinion. I read a couple of great books, a couple of alright ones, and one that definitely won’t be having a reread. But the next time Queen Rowling comes out with a book, I’ll still dive right in there. Seven good books versus one mediocre one is pretty good odds. Don’t know what book is next on my list. I think there’s a few Jo Nesbo’s on my Kindle app but I’m not really feeling a murder type book at the moment. After going a little dystopia nuts lately, it’s probably a worthwhile read though. Will keep you posted!

Inspiration

Someone tried to tell me today who should inspire me. They implied that, because I didn’t agree with their thoughts, I was wrong. Bad things happen to people every day. Does that mean I have to look up to someone, just because something bad happened to them? Surely it’s about the personality? I don’t think that someone can tell you who to admire. Everyone thinks differently. It’s our uniqueness that makes us brilliant.

I am constantly inspired by different people. Everyone has hardships. But it’s not the people who bang on about it. It’s the people who accept them, deal with them, live with them. They deserve to be admired.

Take my parents. They’ve just had what can only be described as one of the worst Springs in history, thanks to illness, incompetence and the actions of one incomprehensibly selfish individual. But they’re still standing. They continue to do everything they can to care for our family. They don’t mope around or whine about what’s happened to them. They constantly inspire me. No one can tell me that’s “wrong”.

Take the people with mental health issues. The ones who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, who feel like they can’t face the cruelty of the world. But they do. They take themselves to work, they look after their kids, they get on. Those people deserve to be admired, and they’re an inspiration to people who regularly find the day difficult.

People are strong, often more so than they believe. And it’s that strength that should be respected and admired. Don’t look up to someone automatically because someone tells you to. Make your own mind up, and find your own role models in life. Don’t let anyone tell you what to think, and equally as important, don’t tell anyone else what to think. Stay strong.

Just Remember, You Wanted This

Once upon a time, a young girl fell in love. She was introduced to the man by her sister, who had been introduced to him by her friends. You couldn’t help but admire the man. Tall, stoic and a former military man for goodness sake. He was quiet, but he stood for what was right. She was head over heels. Sadly, so was Tom Cruise.

Jack Reacher is an absolutely terrific character. Lee Child’s series of novels, from Killing Floor to A Wanted Man, are pretty much without fault (well, with the odd exception – and it helps if you’re into that kind of book!) So naturally, when the movie was announced, to be based on the novel One Shot, people were excited. Theories were passed around as to who would play the bad-ass drifter. He should have dark blonde hair, blue eyes, and be at least passable as 6’ 5” tall. Reacher is built – somewhere between 200 to 250 pounds, and absolutely solid. Who could pass for Jack Reacher? Tom Cruise of course. His production company bought up the rights to the movie, and cast their main man in the role.

When the news broke, I think it’s safe to say the fans revolted. We were horrified. Teeny tiny little Tom was going to be portraying our hero? No. Just no. Of course, Lee Child was thrilled, and why wouldn’t he be? Your book is being adapted for the screen and one of the biggest stars in Hollywood wants the lead? It’s a cause for celebration. Suddenly Child was saying things in interview that basically translated to “size doesn’t matter” – Reacher’s massive presence was implied, rather than literal. Not exactly in keeping with his former comments on Reacher. My sister and I were concerned, but being the loyal fans we were, we trotted along to see the movie anyway. We had always wanted to see Reacher on the big screen. If this was what it took to get the film made, then so be it.

The hardest thing for me to admit is that I didn’t hate it. Not by a long shot. Jack Reacher, the movie, was well written, it was funny, it was entertaining. It was a bit long, but most movies are these days (for me anyway, I’m always thinking I should be doing something else when I have to sit still for too long). There were some nice touches – Reacher’s driving skills weren’t the best, a subtle but fun reference to the book, him collecting his folding toothbrush after a night in the cells and even his motel aliases.

There were some dodgy points though – the cops are sent to the motel to look for a huge guy who can kill a woman with one punch, and the motel owner knows immediately who they’re talking about. Really? That little guy hanging out with the female lawyer who’s taller than him? Hmmm.

So all in all, I’ll give them it. The script was decent, the movie was decent. Would it have been a better film with an actor who actually suited the role? Maybe. Will there be a sequel? Rumours suggest not. Although I’ve heard that if there is, perhaps Bad Luck and Trouble will be adapted for the screen, the notion of which does intrigue me – it’s my favourite Reacher novel. We’ll see though. In the meantime, I’ll take solace in the fact that I don’t need to bother hunting down Cruise or Child and punish them, Taken style, for ruining the franchise. There are an awful lot worse adaptations out there of books I enjoyed, and I’m sure there’ll be more to come.

This is a pretty short blog post (no reference to Cruise intended). I think it’s because there’s not too much to say about Jack Reacher, the movie. It was fine. It didn’t suck. I’ll just be grateful for that.

Here We Go Again!

So this is how the New Year begins.  Sitting in work, killing time until lunch, listening to Childish Gambino (this may be the first time I’ve actually listened to anyone rap in my life.  He’s quite adorable).  Well, almost begins.  It’s 3rd January today.  Anyone with any sense has done nothing except lounge around and appreciate the holidays for the last two days.  Back to “normal” today though.  But that’s kind of what I wanted to write about.  What’s “normal”?  Do I want “normal”?  Last year was pretty out of the ordinary, by my own standards anyway.  I travelled halfway around the world on my own, made some amazing new friends, moved out on my own, all that good stuff.  Of course, there were rubbish parts of last year too.  But I’m still here, and I’m still going.  And I know that I don’t want this year to go past in a blur of same old, same old.  For the majority of my life, that’s what “normal” has been. Boring, dull, safe, lonely.  I don’t want that anymore.  I rather enjoyed last year, and I’ll have more of that, thank you very much.  So it’s going to be a good year.  I know most people start off with those words at the start of the year, and if I were you reading them, I’d be rolling my eyes too.  But you’ll see. 

 I’ve been thinking about resolutions for the last few days, as I’m sure many people have.  I’m trying to work out a way to make them easier to stick to – big goals involve big work!  They inevitably either lose their appeal or I just lose sight of the goal at some point.  I’m an obsessive list-maker though, so I’ll write it; I’m hoping breaking it down into smaller goals will keep me on track. 

 Daily Goals (I typed “Fail” at first there – a sign of things to come?!)

 

  • Drink two litres of water per day
  • Arrive at work at a reasonable time (9:30 this morning, not a good start!)
  • Don’t spend money on useless junk!  This includes junk food, Diet Coke – silly weaknesses.

 Weekly Goals

 

  • Work out 5 days per week
  • Do at least one piece of writing every week – blog or novel (No, of course I didn’t finish my novel in November – NaNoWriMo is HARD).
  • A random one – I’m challenging myself to have a different nail design each week for the whole year.  I’ll post updates every so often with pictures – not exciting for most readers I’m sure, but fun for me!

 Monthly Goals

 

  • Lose at least 5 pounds per month – I’m really hoping I can smash this goal, we’ll see. I know people say aim high, but aiming low and exceeding always makes me feel better.
  • Once a month, I’d like to try something new – whether it’s a new type of blog, a new recipe, a new place to visit – just something outside of the daily routine.
  • Eat out/get takeout once a month only – I’m terribly weak when it comes to eating out, and it’s neither good for my waistline or my pocket.  I do love cooking, I’m just lazy.

 Yearly Goals

 

  • Weigh 3 stone less. I appreciate this doesn’t quite match up with my monthly goal, but again, aim low.  I don’t have a specific goal weight in mind – the dreaded BMI has me down at something ridiculous because I’m so short.  There’s no way I could ever weigh that though, I’d look like a child.  Once I’m fit, healthy and toned up, I’ll be able to know what’s “right” for me.
  • Pay off my credit cards!
  • Take a cake decorating class.  I was hoping to take one in January of this year, but it clashed with a trip with the boyfriend that I’d already planned, so I’ll wait till next time round.

 

There, that doesn’t look so hard, does it?  It doesn’t look particularly exciting either.  I do have a few more personal resolutions, but I’ll keep those to myself for now.  If I’ve missed anything you think I should be going for, do let me know.  In the meantime, I better get back to work.

 

NaNoWriMo – A Short Synopsis

As I’ve said previously, I’m hoping to post a few updates here during the course of NaNoWriMo, and I’m starting with this one.  There’s just over one day to go until writing officially begins, but to get into the mood, I’ve written this short synopsis for my novel. I hope it intrigues you at least a little!

“Hunger”

They tried to end world hunger.

It almost worked.

In a world where food is no longer a necessity, but a luxury, Clement is one of the lucky few who has everything he could want. Money to burn, video games, and unlimited access to the warehouses holding the last of the food from the Before Times. He doesn’t give a second thought to the Supps; starving, and barely surviving on government issued VitaPills, designed to provide them with all the nutrients to stay alive. No more, no less.

His life is perfect, until a moment of weakness threatens everything he believes in. Who can he trust?

Feel free to let me know what you think! Remember it’s only a first draft so uh… If it’s awful, I take no blame!