Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grief Bacon and other pretty words

So you all know what schadenfreude means, even if you don't really know how to pronounce it (my German colleague insists I get it wrong every time somehow to the point where I've just stopped saying it aloud, out of shame). But about these gems of words from other language of which there is no precise English translation (but there really ought to be)?

Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. ("Grief bacon", according to Google translator, which is amazing).

Tingo (Pascuense)
To gradually steal all the possessions out of a neighbour's house by borrowing and not returning.

Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
To eat past the point of being full just because the food tastes good.

Fernweh (German)
Feeling homesick for somewhere you've never been.

Yuputka (Ulwa)
The phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

Gadrii Nombor Shulen Jongu (Tibetan)
Giving an answer that is unrelated to the question. See also: politicians. Apparently translates literally as "giving a green answer to a blue question".

Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
To go outside to check if an expected visitor has arrived, over and over again.

The feeling of being alone in the woods (German)

Please note: My instinct is always to be sceptical about some of these 'translations' since I don't speak any of the languages involved and I sometimes suspect internet commentators of exaggerating for effect, comic or otherwise (I know, who would've thunk it). Nevertheless, most of the words I've picked seem to crop up often enough, with sufficiently similar meanings ascribed to them, that there's something there. These translations - and the gorgeous illustration above - come from these specific websites.

You have the right to remain... selfish

“Maybe you feel pressure to be positive because so many people rely on your good, fake-positive energy? If that's the case, screw everybody else. You're not a bottle of Valium.” 
(Augusten Burroughs, This Is How)

Call is passive aggression, call it being a pussy, whatever you call it I’ve always had trouble asserting myself. In my head I’ve called it politeness and I’ve called it not wanting to rock the boat and I still believe in the value of that. I know some people who are, um, excessively assertive I guess, and to me it comes off as rudeness. Knowing what you want and valuing that isn’t the same as steamrolling over other people. Accommodating what other people want is fundamental to living a happy life surrounded by others, in my opinion.

However, over the years I have learned how to be more assertive or, as I prefer to think of it, to stand up for myself more or put myself first. That doesn't mean being confrontational - not something I'm great at - but just quietly championing my own interests above those of other people and trying not to feel bad about that. In the past I’ve put other people ahead of myself over dumb things that don’t matter: these days I try not to be such a martyr. Sometimes this means being honest when someone asks if I want to do something and the truth is I’m really craving a night in bed with my book. Sometimes it means disagreeing with someone at work who’s more senior than me and not feeling like I have to bow to their opinion just because of that fact. Sometimes it means just being very very selfish and doing exactly what I want to do, like going to a solo weekend movie and eating a choc-top for lunch.

I was thinking about this today because I came across this ‘bill of assertive rights’ from a guy called Manuel J Smith who seems to be something of a self-help author. I don’t really go in for self-help in a big way (this wonderful book is an exception) but this tickled something in me, I’m not sure why. Oh and if you're wondering why this post is illustrated by a photo of Katherine Hepburn well just look at her - do you think she took crap from anyone?

A Bill of Assertive Rights
(Manuel J Smith)

I: You have the right to judge your own behaviour, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.

II: You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behaviour.

III: You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.

IV: You have the right to change your mind.

V: You have the right to make mistakes—and be responsible for them.

VI: You have the right to say, “I don’t know.”

VII: You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.

VIII: You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.

IX: You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”

X: You have the right to say, “I don’t care.”

You have the right to say no, without feeling guilty.”

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
    They may not mean to, but they do.   
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,   
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Things I loved and loved to hate about the Buffy episode “I Robot, You Jane” during a recent rewatch:

The complete disregard for how technology works

I can’t really remember what computers were like in the late 90s: I used one at school and home but I wasn’t particularly tech savvy about how they actually worked and I’m assuming our desktops were not exactly top of the range. Still, I feel confident in saying that no suburban schoolkid – no, not even Willow – owned a computer that could silently connect to the internet the moment you walked in the room in order to tell you whether you did or did not have mail. I mean I know there’s a demon in there but come now.

The language, oh, the language

Giles is supposed to be an old stuff-in-the-box so that’s fine but I’m 95 per cent sure I heard Buffy refer to an email as an “e-letter”. At another point one of the random nerds, whose name I didn't bother to learn since he's so clearly never going to appear again, delivers a speech about the need to be "jacked in". I mean: there is literally nothing not to love about that.

The fearmongering

Beneath the demon-of-the-week storyline the episode is essentially about the danger of feeling like you know someone too well when you only know them online. It’s a fair point – and I say this as someone who frequented internet chatrooms as a teen – but the chances that guy you’re chatting to is going to turn out to be an ancient demon who apparently has enough spare time to spend it flirting with a 15-year-old (ewwww) has got to be pretty low. A married 70-year-old man masturbating furiously into a sock maybe.

Jenny Calendar

I’ve always loved the character of Jenny Calendar, which is saying something considering she describes herself in this episode as a “techno-Pagan” which… no. Not only was she a saucy strumpet of a love interest for Giles but knowing how spectacularly she will die and under what circumstances adds a certain poignancy to rewatching the episodes in which she plays a big role. So I am deadly serious when I say I just really enjoyed watching her interact with Giles, snarking about his stuffiness while presumably undressing his tweedy bodice with her eyes as we all would.

Buffy's wardrobe

Always a delight, Buffy does not disappoint with a series of incredibly inappropriate short and tight outfits, offset by the super bulky stuff she has to wear for fight scenes to smooth the transition between Sarah Michelle Gellar and her stunt double. Worst choice goes to the short, skintight black dress deemed suitable for computer class. Best choice goes to her bitching sunglasses at the end.

The sudden introduction of new characters, Miss Calendar aside

As a show Buffy does this all the time, for the sensible reason that a lot of people DIE on the show so they need a lot of, how do I put this, fresh meat. But for some reason it particularly stands out here with some clunky dialogue shunted in to explain how this guy you’ve never seen before has tooootally been part of the school all along. Honest. Just like these computers that are suddenly everywhere.

The final scene

Nothing not to love about a scene that nicely foreshadows the shitty relationship choices the members of the main cast will make for the next seven seasons and yet still fails to prepare the audience for the horror that will be Season 4's Riley.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ask every person if he's heard the story and tell it strong and clear if he has not

Have I ever written about my first ever blog, which was essentially a directory (on Angelfire!) of figures from the Camelot and Knights of the Round Table legends? No? Well let's just file that one under Shameful Events from My Past.

Before that fateful first blog and long after it I have always had a soft spot for Arthurian legends in general and - although I blush to admit it - this version of the musical Camelot in particular. I'll let myself out.

Best closing lines?

"I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth." (Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte)
You be the judge.

This is what it's all about

"This is what it's all about. It's about reading a paper on a Sunday morning while you're thinking about whether you can be arsed to go to the neighbours' New Year's Eve party tonight. It's about getting angry with me for having different opinions from yours or not expressing the ones you have as well as you would have expressed them. It's about the breakfast you've just had and the dinner you're going to have. It's about the random acts of kindness which still, magically, preponderate over acts of incivility or nastiness. It's about rereading Great Expectations and about who's going to win the 3.30 at Haydock Park. It's about being able to watch old episodes of Frasier on satellite TV whenever we want, having the choice of three dozen breakfast cereals and seven brands of virgin olive oil at Sainsbury's. It's about loving and being loved, about doing the right thing, about one day being missed when we're gone.
And that's all it's about. It isn't about heaven and hell or the love of Christ or Allah or Yahveh because even if those things do exist, they don't have to exist for us to get on with it.
It is, above all I suppose, about passing time. And the only thing I know that you don't is that time passes at the same rate and in much the same way whether you're going to live to 48 or 148. Why am I happy? Because I'm alive. And the simple answer to the question 'What the hell is the point of it all' is this is the point of it all. You aren't happy? Yes you are: this, here, now, is what happiness is. Enjoy it."
(If you don't know John Diamond and you want some context, read this.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pump it

It's funny sometimes when something in your life changes in a way that makes you realise how much other aspects of your life have changed.

That makes zero sense, now that I read it back, so let me explain.

I've had problems with my right shoulder on and off for a good 10 years. It's been diagnosed, essentially, as a rotator cuff problem and I've just always accepted it's one of those things I have to live with. When it flares up I rest it until it feels okay and when it's fine I forget all about it.

No more. This week it has flared up badly and I just realised I am... sick of it. I'm sick of it hurting to do up my bra in the morning, roll over in bed or raise my right arm any higher than shoulder height. I'm sick of the constant ache when it's hurting and feeling perpetually uncomfortable. I'm sick of wondering whether a twinge here or there is the start of a full-on flare up or just a random twinge. So although I am incredibly broke I decided to go and see a physio about my shoulder.

For some stupid reason I've always been a bit suss about physios - it just seemed like nothing I couldn't get from a good massage. But when I had problems with my 'good' shoulder last year (yes, the OTHER one) I saw a physio and it's been absolutely fine ever since. That experience has got me thinking that maybe my long-term problem shoulder can be fixed, not just endured.

The jury's still out on whether it will work - I had my first appointment today and, as a result, now have $20 in the world to get me through the week... awesome - but the thing that made me laugh a little bit was just how depressed I was to hear that I need to lay off my regular gym classes. I knew, of course, that I would have to stop going to body pump/attack/balance for awhile but it still sucked to hear it. I didn't realise how much I was looking forward to going to my balance class until I realised I wouldn't be able to do it.

The bit that made me smile was that a year ago I couldn't have cared less about not being allowed to exercise: I liked to walk a bit, I guess, but that was it. I didn't go to the gym. I didn't do classes. I didn't have any interest in being strong. Now, being told to sit on the sidelines suuuuucks. I worry I'll lose my fledgling muscles. I worry that when I do eventually get to go back I'll have lost so much fitness. I worry, of course, that I won't be able to eat as freely as I currently do, confident the exercise will soak up those pesky extra calories. Exercise has become just a big part of my life I rely on it for stress relief, as much as anything else. Nothing, actually nothing, makes me feel as calm as body balance and nothing makes me feel stronger than going up on my weights at pump and making it through the class.

Le Sigh. For now I'll have to suck it up and maybe consider getting back into cycling classes, which I once enjoyed but find really really boring now for some reason. Until then if you need me I'll be on the couch. Nursing my shoulder.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I tried

For Peter Capaldi and his wonderfully craggy face I tried. But although I perpetually feel like I should slip perfectly into the demographic of Dr Who fans - I love science fiction AND cheese AND camp and just this kind of thing - somehow I just... don't. Half an hour into last night's first episode of the newest season I was, well, not just lost (no surprise there given it was the first episode I've tried to watch from the start) but a little bit bored. It all just seemed... silly and if you think I'm being a TV snob or patronising-as-fuck bear in mind this is coming from someone who watches (and loves) Witches of East End. I mean... WITCHES OF EAST END, PEOPLE: this is a show that had an episode last week called "When a Mandragora loves a Woman". and I watched it and it was awesome. Maybe I'll try again while the latest episode is still on iView - I so very much want to be a Whovian - but maybe not. Maybe this time I'll have to accept that some things just aren't for me and file this one alongside Lionel Ritchie and the novels of Hilary Mantel*.

* Please, don't write and tell me how good Wolf Hall is. I'm sure it's great. I know it must be great, that many people have told me it's great. I've bought this novel as a present for other people and I have tried to get into it myself but It's. Not. Happening. For. Me. Ever.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chris Pratt on going from a soft, portly chap to his super buff Guardians of the Galaxy body

The Friend Zone

When did Daniel Radcliffe become awesome, exactly? Because that happened.

(Via bethanyactually)

Scenes from my life: conversations about a dress

Him: I don't like it. It's too.. twee?

Me: That's kind of the point.

Him: Well maybe you've gone too far.

Friday, August 15, 2014

In case anyone out there is reading this and has recently come into some superpowers that enable them to grant wishes...

... this (the top pic) is how I'd like to look in clothes all the time thanks. That tshirt! The skirt! The white sneakers that are a teensy bit like my Fred Perrys but somehow much better... I die. I die.

Scenes from my life: The Inglewood on a Wednesday night

Barfly: You know you can tell what kind of red it is by looking at it in the glass.

Me: I'm not sure that's true.

Barfly: It is. It's all about the colour.

Me: I think you'd really need to taste it.

Barfly: Not true. I can tell that your wine is a... Shiraz.

Me:... Okay.

Barfly: Taste it!

Me: I'm... I have to sit down.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Really dumb things my gym instructor said to my body pump class this week:

"If you knew how many calories were in wine you wouldn't drink it."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In case you're not all Williamsed out

The response to Robin Williams' death that most resonated with me came from the rather excellent Sarah D Bunting at Tomato Nation.


I have waxed lyrical before now about Guardian beauty columnist Sali Hughes before now. It's no secret I think she's great: funny smart and with an attitude I both admire and wish I could emulate. So it comes as no surprise to learn she's also brilliant when writing about things that have nothing to do with beauty. A concept, even, that is almost anti-beauty: failure.

Like most people I've experienced by fair share of what could be described as failure and at times it has crushed me, depressed me and made me wonder if I'd ever bounce back. I fear I may even have fallen into this category of people, described by Sali:
"There is no one duller than a person who quacks on about life having dealt them a cruel hand. Seriously, these people are impossibly draining and so comfortable at their own pity party that repeat failure is not only a forgone conclusion, but also a lazy way of never aiming for success. Don’t be that girl. In one year, my closest friend was made redundant, diagnosed with cancer, and bereaved when her partner was killed in a terrorist attack. And yet she still put herself directly in the line of failure to launch her own small business because otherwise, she wouldn’t be living. Some failure is inevitable, but it’s never the beginning and end of your story unless you allow it to be."
Once upon a time I had a tendency to feel sorry for myself. My life wasn't, objectively speaking, all that hard but it felt hard to me and I let it weigh me down.

These days I try very hard not to be that person. Like Sali I have a friend who has faced a real shitpile the past couple of years: a seriously ill husband with ongoing health complications, the loss of a second income and all the resulting money problems that come from point a and point b. To an outsider it seems like just when one problem resolves itself another appears. I have no idea how she copes as well as she does but she has taken everything on the chin and doesn't let any of that grim awfulness stop her from living and taking risks, not to mention still being a top friend always ready to listen to other people's problems and take them seriously rather than just (justifiably) shrieking: "My problems are bigger!" in response.

I may never be quite so zen and awesome as her but I also credit myself with having learned the ability to suck it up and move on when the occasion requires it. Many times, of course, it's not as simple as being able to suck it up or get over it. Some problems, or failures if you like, require you to be able to ask for help and to accept it. That in itself - the asking, the accepting - is a way of trying to rise above your circumstances at a time when it feels like you're swimming through treacle. It can also be kind of a bitch to do.

I'll give the last word to Sali but if anything I've written here resonates you must follow the link above post haste and read the full article. She is a delight. She's also quite a dab hand with the ol' make-up brush. Just sayin'.
"You simply cannot enjoy success in the same way if you’ve never felt failure."

"I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that."
(Lauren Bacall)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Good news

Apparently I'm not the only one who has developed a serious girl crush on Keri Russell lately. She... I mean, I don't know how to say this but she makes me want to... wear pants. For realsies.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Things I enjoyed about Guardians of the Galaxy

1. The easy charm of Chris Pratt

2. Being reunited with my screen boyfriend Lee Pace, albeit distantly glimpsed behind some highly unappealing make-up and costuming. Dude got buff.

3. Jokes that actually made me laugh.

4. A romance that didn't make me want to harm myself and others.

5. The talking raccoon. I'm not made of stone.

6. Eating a rum and raising choc top while watching it. Simple pleasures.

Happiness as a 31-year-old homebody is:

1. A stack of new books, arrived in the post.

2. A two day weekend.

3. Zero plans.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Things I said on the phone today in the course of one 20 minute phone call that were massive understatements, showing great restraint on my part.

1. I'm not sure that's entirely accurate.

2. I'd have to verify that, I'm afraid.

3. That doesn't sound entirely correct to me.

4. I'm afraid I do have to go now.

Things I heard in the lunch room at work that made me roll my eyes #23

"People take cold and flu tablets and these things but you can't fight a cold, you just can't."

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Comparison is the thief of joy." 
(Theodore "call me Teddy" Roosevelt)