Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Random Round-Up (June)

I've been introduced to or reminded of some fabulously named indivuduals this month. First off, No Such Thing As a Fish (the QI podcast) informed me that the current governer of Idaho is called Butch Otter. His first wife, assuming she took her husband's name when she married, was called Gay Otter. This reminded me of American basketball player, actor and Minister Meadowlark Lemon III. Rebecca and I had great fun coming up with possible names for his children. My favourites include: Curlew Hickory Lemon, Nostalgia Hepzibah Lemon and Demeter Ovaltine Lemon. Basically, a surprising variety of words sound really good before the surname Lemon.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Progress: Single

I have been single for over three thousand days. It's been eight years, four months and I don't know how many days since I had a boyfriend. In that time, I have been on seven definitely-dates and three I-wish-these-were-dates. And for years, I have been telling friends, family and myself that I'm okay with that. Because that's what I do. I take all the uncomfortable feelings and I put them in as small a metaphorical box as I can and I pretend they're not there. 

And I haven't been lying exactly. I don't know if I want a boyfriend. I don't know if I could give up my free time enough to have one. I've never been in a good relationship, never been loved in a non-platonic way. So the benefits of a romantic relationship are mysterious to me and I don't know whether they're worth the cost. 

But I'm not happy with the bone-deep certainty pressed into me by my parents and aided by the weight of three thousand days alone that I am unloveable. I'm not happy with the knowledge (in my heart, it feels like I know) that if I am alone forever it will not be by choice but rather forced by circumstance. In eight years, I've met two people I'd have been interesting in dating, and three who professed to be interested in dating me. Sadly, no person was in both groups. 

If I haven't met anyone in eight years, am I ever going to? This rediscovering emotions thing is a rollercoaster. I've lost the ability to put those doubts, that sadness, that despair into a little box and ignore it. It keeps coming out, ambushing me at inopportune moments. It bothers me that I can't be 'strong' anymore. 

It's progress, but it kind of sucks.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Progress: Rediscovery

Along with rediscovering feelings, I've also been rediscovering aspects of my personality. As it turns out... I really like books! This will come as exactly no surprise to anyone who knows me. I did an English literature degree, I have masses of bookshelves in my parents' home, I get excited over being able to designate a 'book pocket' in my handbag. I am a book person. But over the last few years this has felt more and more like a lie. I barely read proper novels at all, except on the tube. On my worst days, I couldn't even be bothered to do that. My goodreads shows gaps of three months between books - several times. I became a person who talked about books (and sometimes listened to audiobooks) but didn't read
In the last few weeks, there's been a turnaround. I first noticed it when I was reading Finnikin of the Rock (see above). I actually enjoyed it. Not only that, but I wanted to read it when I wasn't on the tube. I got to choir early and I pulled out my ereader to keep reading. Even when friends arrived that I could have talked to, I preferred to keep reading. That hasn't happened in a very long time indeed. 

Then another thing happened. I stopped reading a book I wasn't enjoying. This is absolutely unheard of for me. I finish books. I finished Perfume even though it was both weird and disturbing (and not in a good way). I finished The White Witch even though the writing was pretty bad and the story so unremarkable I can't even remember what it was about now. I don't give up on books, I stick it out. Until now. I gave The Savage Detectives 93 pages before I decided I just didn't care anymore. I didn't care about the narrator, or which books by which obscure Mexican authors he stole from which Mexico City bookshop. I didn't care about either of the two girls he'd slept with, nor any of the friends he'd made. And so I stopped. 

I moved on to Fangirl. It was recommended by a new friend and I knew that if I waited until after another 400 pages of Savage Detectives it would be months before I got it back to her. Initially, I thought I'd go back to Savage Detectives after I finished. Now I know I won't. Why waste my life reading books I'm not enjoying? Why read books that make me not want to spend time reading? The clincher? I'll probably read more books total by not-finishing the ones that slow me down. 

I like reading again, and that's a great thing, even if I'm reading light and fluffy books like Fangirl

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Progress: Emotions

The Past

Growing up, expressing (negative) emotions never got me anything good. There were two possible reactions that I encountered:

1. 'I don't want to leave Singapore (the only home I remember).' Doesn't matter, it's going to happen anyway. 'I don't want to get rid of my toys/books.' Doesn't matter, it's going to happen anyway.
2. 'I'm being bullied.' Well, why don't you change so you're not as weird? 'I don't have any friends.' Well, it must be your fault.

As I grew older, the latter morphed into my parents' constant comments about my weight. If I were thin, obviously, I'd have a boyfriend, a better job, my friends would stop keeping things from me and lying to me. The onus was always on me to change. I still have trouble expressing dissatisfaction with anything that it's in my power to change. After all, if I haven't taken steps to correct the situation then I have no right to be upset about it.

Expressing negative emotions never got me comfort, or sympathy. I either got told to suck it up or else to fix the situation myself, without help. So eventually... I stopped. I started to bury my feelings as deep as I could. I became able to talk about the bad things that happened to me without batting an eyelid. I remember learning that a guy I was interested in at university didn't feel the same, and I felt nothing. My interest in him switched off immediately, because it was hopeless, and I wasn't upset or angry or disappointed. I felt like a robot.

The Present

It's taken over two years, but I'm finally starting to feel real emotions for basically the first time.

It's brilliant! I feel actual happiness again! I'd forgotten what that was like it's happened so infrequently. I can feel happy over a video game, over waking up on a sunny morning, over the prospect of stew for dinner. I feel connected to things. The world just feels more real. I can't explain how surreal it is, or how amazing.

On the other hand, it's terrible! As well as happiness - I feel sadness and anger more acutely than I have in years. Over big things and small. I feel frustrated, trapped, miserable. It's absolutely unbearable. Not Feeling has been my coping mechanism since before puberty. I've never learned how to deal with real emotions as an adult. I don't know how the rest of you live like this. When the negative feelings come (as is unavoidable in life) all I want to do is shove them back into a box and forget about them. It's the only way I know how to keep suriving on a day-to-day basis. Because crying at choir, at work, on the bus... that's not practical! So I want to numb it all again, because I don't know how to deal with it.

But if I do that, I'm not only not be making progress - I'll lose all the positive feelings too.

So I guess I need a new, healthier, coping mechanism, at least until the negative emotions stop being so new and raw and overpowering.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Film: The Stag

Honestly, pretty low. It was a Saturday morning, I was looking for something to watch while I waited for an acceptable time to make paella (lunchtime). The cover of this, and the title, don't exactly make it look like my kind of film. However, Adrew Scott is in it and since seeing him in Birdland I've become convinced that he's brilliant. So I figured I'd give it a shot.

It was brilliant! Andrew Scott's performance is wonderful and heart-breaking and perfect. The backstory of his character is barely hinted at in the beginning, then slowly, gradually the clues build up until the best scene of the film when it all comes spilling forth at once. The character of the bride-to-be's brother is obnoxious, but not in that unbearable, unfunny, 'I don't want to watch this' way. He was actually quite charming. The other characters are sweet and funny by turns. There's even music! I've been raving to everyone about this film since I watched it.

It's hard to think of anything. The cover/blurb don't sell this film well at all, and would have put me off but for Andrew Scott. Even looking at the cover now that I've seen it I still get that feeling of 'this is going to be cheap and unfunny' but it really isn't!

Favourite Quotation
I can't go into it without spoiling the film, but the scene the morning after the wild night in the woods is perfect. And actually, the film really builds to its conclusion from there without missing a beat.

Final Thoughts

Fantastic! Go watch it!

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