“Christmas Ruined”

Seasons Greetings my lovely blog readers!

I had been intending to write a Merry Christmas post at some point over the last week but life got in the way, as it usually does.  Then on Boxing Day on Twitter I spotted something that I just couldn’t not blog about, no matter how much deep breathing I tried.  So here it comes:

Over the festive period there has been a hashtag trending: #ChristmasRuined  Makes sense I guess.  And I for one am always glad when folk are willing to share their low points on social media as well as their highs.

Now I don’t know what I was expecting to see that might have ruined all these poor souls’ christmases but suffice to say, I wasn’t anticipating that the vast majority of them would be complaining that they hadn’t been able to play with their new Playstation yet…

No really.  Apparently that’s all it takes these days, to wreck an otherwise perfectly good christmas.  You can have a loving family, a comfortable home, a belly full of culinary delights and a brand new £300 console, but if you can’t play on it THIS INSTANT RIGHT NOW then what’s the point in any of it…yes?…Well, no, actually.

I’m going to be deliberately outrageous here, and suggest that the word “ruined” which conjures an image of something destroyed beyond repair is not the ideal choice for someone experiencing mild-to-moderate feelings of disappointment and annoyance.  And if you’re experiencing anything above mild-to-moderate feelings in relation to your inability to play with your new present AT THIS VERY MOMENT then perhaps your overall emotional IQ is the thing that is ruined, rather than christmas itself.

I wondered if perhaps I was being a bit harsh in my attitude so tried to think of some situations in which I would consider the use of a #ChristmasRuined hashtag more appropriate…

 

 

Maybe, if you’re celebrating your first christmas since losing a loved one and the festivities are overshadowed by your grief (2009, 2014)

Or if you’ve just miscarried twins the week before christmas (2010)

Maybe you just got out of hospital after receiving a life-changing diagnosis and will be spending christmas and new year on an extraordinarily high dose of medication that has terrible physical and mental side-effects (2013)

Has not one, but two members of your family just been diagnosed with cancer and are you spending a significant proportion of the festive season visiting a hospice? (also 2013)

Perhaps your partner is unemployed, and with no prospects on the horizon you find yourselves sinking further into debt (2008)

Maybe you’re a kid whose parents have just separated and you’re only going to be spending christmas with one of your parents this year for the first time (1994)

Or are you a teenager estranged from your family and technically homeless, about to enter the care system? (2000)

 

 

Incase you didn’t guess from the years in brackets, these are all christmases I have actually personally experienced.

Guess how many of them I would tag as #ChristmasRuined?

Zero.

Know why?  Because christmas is not flan, it is not something that can be ruined, or at least- it would take a lot, for me, to consider the entire concept of christmas entirely wrecked.  The kinds of things I would possibly concede as #ChristmasRuined are the kinds of things you don’t even want to think, let alone type, for fear of them being realised.  But to be clear, I’m talking some whole house burned down shit.

In the interests of transparency, I write this as an atheist, so don’t think my “YOU CAN’T RUIN THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS” thing comes from a religious or spiritual perspective.  It’s just that christmas, to me anyway, is not a THING, and therefore it’s pretty damn robust.  So the turkey isn’t defrosted in time?  But I bet you have a whole host of other shit in your house to eat…right?  Maybe that special present didn’t arrive in time?  But I bet the recipient will have other cards and gifts to open, or if not, that they’ll be excited to know something is on it’s way?

Even those christmases I listed above, were not RUINED.  They may have been different, difficult, emotional but on christmas day, just like any other day, I am a human-being capable of feeling the full range of human emotion, so sadness can be mixed in with gladness.  You can feel upset about the crappiness of your current situation and worry about your loved ones, whilst also feeling hope for the future and thankful for the present time you have with your family.

I mean, I’m not trying to be irritatingly chirpy here, but for the love of god people, how comfortable can your life be if the very worst thing imaginable for you is the Playstation Network being down?

People were actually tweeting that they wanted compensation.  Compensation!  The gift isn’t actually broken, there isn’t anything wrong with it!  But something failed to meet their (ridiculously fucking high, entirely egocentric) expectations on one singular occasion, so SOMEONE SHOULD PAY.

Another person posted on Facebook that “Christmas was ruined” because a Play Doh toy they bought for their child is slightly phallic.

I say slightly phallic, because if you squint, and apply your adult brain and a coat of flesh coloured paint to it, it would sort-of, almost looks like a penis.  Kinda.

the dildo that wrecked christmas

Again, just to be entirely clear here, their ENTIRE CHRISTMAS WAS RUINED BY THIS PLASTIC TOY PART THAT LOOKS A BIT LIKE A DICK.

How, and I mean how is that even possible?!  On any level?!  Like how delicate a balance does your life hang in, on a day-to-day basis, if YOUR ENTIRE GODDAM CHRISTMAS can be wrecked by that?!

I’m thinking these people not only have the lowest boiling point for OUTRAGE I have ever known, but are also wayyyyy coddled, that this is the worst shit the universe has ever thrown at them during the month of December.

Look I hate to do this to you, my poor mistreated friends of the world, but right now there are really terrible things happening…and I mean, even worse than unwrapping a toy that looks like a tiny dildo.  I mean, people are sick, and injured, and yes even dying.  People are homeless, families are falling apart, children are starving, animals are being abused and this all continues to happen on christmas day.  Even as you unwrap your PS4 and beat your fists against the wall in floods of tears because the PSN is down, as you declare your christmas “ruined”, someone is taking their last breath on this earth, or giving birth to a baby who will never take a first breath, or learning that this christmas may be their last, or finding a way to tell their children that there won’t be any presents because there isn’t any money for food.  So please, and I say this from the bottom of my heart, take your ChristmasRuined hashtag and shove it up your actual arse…along with that bloody Play Doh accessory.

 

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Book Jar Round Up

As the end of the year is almost upon us (almost!) I figure it’s time for a Book Jar Summary.

So, as you may recall when the jar began back in March, 70 titles went in there- 22 kindle books and 48 actual paper books.

And how many are in there today you ask?

Well…65 actually.

Oops.

So, what have I read this year?

FROM THE JAR

Generation X by Douglas Coupland (p)

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (p)

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (p)

We Were Liars by E L Lockhart (k)

Black Milk by Elif Shafak (p)

NON-JAR RELATED READS

When Dan Lived in the Woods by Dan Wakeling (k)

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (k)

Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian (k)

The P45 Diaries by Ben Hatch (k)

The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew by Eli Glasman (k)

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (k)

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (k)

The Superfox by Ava Lovelace (k) *ahem*

The Lumberfox by Ava Lovelace (k) *aHEM*

The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Maher (k)

Morgue Drawer Four by Jutta Profijt (k)

BED by David Whitehouse (k)

The Humans by Matt Haig (l)

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill (l)

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (p)

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver (l)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (l)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (l)

Slam by Nick Hornby (l)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (l)

Five separate Agatha Christie’s Poirot books (p)

NON-FICTION

Birthing from Within by Pam England (p)

The Doula Book (p)

Birth Space, Safe Place by Adela Stockton (p)

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley (p)

Bloom, a memoir by Kelle Hampton (p)

RE-READS

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling (p) I have just finished re-reading this, one-chapter-per-night at bedtime, to our five year old and he LOVED it.

BOOKS I STARTED BUT DIDN’T FINISH

May We Be Forgiven by A M Homes (k)

Seoul Survivors by Naomi Foyle (k)

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (l)

My Hollywood by Mona Simpson (k)

The Girl in the Box Book 1 by Robert J Crane (k)

That last list is unusually long this year, I don’t know why but I’ve had a much lower threshold for ‘giving up’.  That said, there’s only one of those (the first one) that I have totally given up on (as in, skipped to the end to see if I was right about a hunch I had- I wasn’t, and then deleted it off my kindle and don’t ever intend to try reading it again)  The rest were more “I’m not feeling it- maybe some other time”.  Particularly The Time Traveller’s Wife, which so many people have raved to me about, and had a hint of wonderful about it, but honestly I just found immensely confusing.  It was a library book though and due back imminently which I think didn’t help, that and the fact I was reading it in hospital during my IVIg, where there are interruptions from machines and nurses and other patients.  I found I was having to re-read pages over again and when that happens, you know I’m out.

Of the 36 books I DID finish this year, there were a lot of really good ones and a handful of new all-time favourites.  I particularly loved Rules of Civility, Life After Life (which I gave to my Mum to read immediately after finishing), Sex and Violence, So Much For That, The Humans and Morgue Drawer Four.  Although honestly, just scanning those first two lists has reminded me that I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything I’ve read this year.

What’s interesting is that a lot of what I’ve read (book jar suggestions or otherwise) have been written from a first person male point of view, the POV I am writing my own book from.   So I don’t know how much that decision has influenced what books I’ve chosen or if it’s just coincidence.  But some of them have really reminded me how passionate I am about that as a decision.  (Although it didn’t really feel like a decision as such, or if it was, it was one I made unconsciously a long long time ago when the character first came to me back in 2004!)

So back to The Jar:

book jar

As an experiment, I’ve got to admit, the results haven’t been as successful as I’d hoped.  I imagined halving my TBR pile, but then that was never going to be realistic, because I ‘acquire’ new books all the time- from the library, bought, swapped, or given as gifts…so the pile was always going to be shrinking and growing at the same time, I guess I just imagined the jar would cut out that period in-between books where I dither about what to pick up next.  Actually, it’s been handy for that, but there have been times where the reason I’ve dithered is because I am not in the ‘mood’ for what’s in front of me, and that’s something the jar can never help with.

I’ve been weighing up whether to continue with it as a ‘project’ in 2015, and I figure, why not?  The jar may as well stay, and from time to time, just like this year, I’ll probably dip my hand in and have a go at whatever I pick out…BUT I also have a new plan in the pipeline for next year when it comes to my reading habits, so I’ll be doing the two alongside each other.

As for what that is…stay tuned 😉

(Oh and if anyone was wondering about the the letters in brackets beside each book, here’s the key:

k= kindle book p= paper book l= library book

and for interested parties 😉 the split was 23 traditional books compared to 13 e-books this year)

I Have a Plan

Actually, I don’t, but that’s my point.

I attempted NaNoWriMo last month.  I say attempted, because I failed.

I wrote 6,156 out of a target 50,000 words.  So you could say failed, or you could say reallyfuckingspectacularlyfailed.

Whichever, either will do.

My reasons/excuses include:

*Dithering at the start (I initially planned to edit book 1, but then decided to just forge ahead with book 2, by which point it was a week into November already)

*Life in general

*My boyfriend wrecking, sorry updating the computer

*My 3 year old having the nerve to get tonsillitis

*The impending end-of-year yuletide festivities

and most significantly of all

*LACK OF A PLAN

I started writing a book in the summer of last year, and bombed at 40,000 words because I had a plot (and a good one, or so I thought anyway) but no idea what was actually going to happen, you know…on a scene by scene basis.

Then for the book I wrote earlier this year I went to the opposite extreme and totally went into planning overdrive.  Then after weeks and weeks of meticulous planning, deep-thinking and LISTS, I managed to write 20,000 words in my first week and the full 73,000 words within 5 months.

So this time, I jumped right in, and quickly realised I can’t swim at this depth yet.

Hence, the NaNo fail.

I’m feeling totally okay about it though.  At least now I know that I’m not what is termed a ‘pantser’ (writing by the seat of your pants, aka making it up as you go along, although to a certain extent that is how all writers write isn’t it?!)

So my plan now, is to go back to my original plan of editing book 1 first, and then make an actual plan for book 2.

Plans, plans, plans!

Much needed, as it turns out.

On Hats

I’m surprised not to see any tumbleweed blowing through here, so neglected has my blog been of late.

I have actually been writing a lot, I just haven’t hit “publish” in a while.

The truth is, a lot of what I have wanted to say, I wasn’t sure how to express in a way that did the subject matter justice, and as for the rest of it, well I don’t know if every thought I have needs broadcasting to the world (although arguably, that’s sort of the point of a personal blog I guess).

I’m here today to talk about hats.  Metaphorical ones.  You could also consider this my resignation letter from doula-ing.

Yes I know I only just started, but already I’m done.

Truthfully, there are many reasons why I’m calling it quits, but really when it comes down to it- it’s mostly the on-call stuff.  To be on-call 24/7 for 4 weeks in a row, with 2 children under the age of 5 is hard.  It was always going to be hard, so I didn’t go into it with rose-tinted glasses, I went into it saying “we won’t know until we try” and we tried, and now we know- it isn’t going to work.

There’s also my CIDP, which I hate to trot out in instances like this as it feels like I’m using it as an excuse.  But one of the (main) reasons I left nursing was to avoid having to prioritise work over my health.  Shiftwork + fatiguing chronic health condition= bad.  In my doula role I recently broke my “staying awake” record, (which was previously 39 hours) to a brain-melting 49 hour stint without sleep.  49 hours.  I woke up at 7am on the Friday and got into bed at 7am on the Sunday and during that time the clocks went back.

You can imagine, I think, what that would feel like as an ordinary person in good health.  For someone whose body trips-out by 7pm somedays having had a full night of sleep the night before, it felt like nothing I can begin to describe, and certainly nothing good.  Pins and needles, weakness, twitching, shaking.  Basically imagine your house needed totally re-wiring (as my body does) and that you put on every single piece of electrical equipment- washing machine, kettle, blender, hair-dryer, vacuum cleaner, every single light blaring…for 49 hours.  That was me after my client gave birth.  A house about to blow.

I can’t do that again.  And to be fair even were I to continue as a doula, it’s unlikely I’d need to.  Labours that long are rare, not unheard of- but it’s not the norm, but then even half that would be pushing it if I’m honest.

There’s other stuff too.  Lots of little things about the reality of life as a doula, that could only really be brought to my attention through actually living and experiencing it, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to.  If I’d never tried, then I’d always wonder- could I have done it?  What if x, y, z…then would it have worked?  At least this way I have tried and I feel without a shadow of doubt in my bones that it’s not for me.

Not because I don’t love birth.  I love birth.  Not because I’m not passionate about the importance of women having someone to support them during labour, because I am more passionate about that than ever.  Not because I didn’t enjoy the experience I had, because it has been incredibly special, and I feel like I have gained as much as I’ve given, and that’s despite me having taken it on as a voluntary case in this instance.

It’s not because I am disillusioned with doula-ing.  It’s because it isn’t for me.  At least not now anyway.  I suppose you can never say never, so maybe one day it’s possible I will be in a different position, and could come back to it.  The same way I would never say I’d never go back to nursing- who knows…maybe.

But what  I do know is that I’m totally at peace with hanging up my doula hat.  I confess I’m getting a little nervous about my old hats collection- it’s starting to mount up, and when you are remarkably at ease with quitting yet another thing, it does get you wondering if the problem might be you…

Maybe I’m not a hat-person. (Breaking the metaphor- I’m actually really not, at all).

But until I know that for sure, I’ll keep trying them on.  I haven’t been able to sample the fostering one yet, although things on that front are moving pretty steadily now and I’m looking forward to seeing how that will fit, but in the meantime I plan to spend a lot of time in my writing hat, which I imagine as being like a cosy beanie, even accommodating my dreads.

hat

In my parenting hat, which is awesome- a bit heavy at times, but definitely one of my absolute favourites 😉