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Absence

Life kind of got in the way of me posting here. The longer I don’t write, the more I don’t know what to say about it so I suppose this entry is me drawing a line under that and trying to move forward.

I had a birthday a few weeks ago and went to Manchester to see some friends, have a mooch around and eat lots of tasty vegan food at V-Rev.

 

Other than that, I’ve just been focused on getting through the summer exam season at work. I’ve been trying to remind myself that it’s ok for me to get home in the evening and just relax. I’m anxious about the upcoming election. I’m pretty much hoping for the best but bracing myself for the worst. Josie Long wrote this piece which sums up how I am feeling – They say we can’t win, but on Thursday vote for Labour anyway

2017 goals – 3 months in

I thought it would be helpful for my own reflection and accountability for me to look at how I am doing with the yearly goals I’ve set myself at the end of each 3 month period.

The house hunt continues. Not at a particularly fast pace because there isn’t much on the market that suits what we are looking for and when we *do* find one – I don’t seem to have much luck at getting estate agents to return my calls. We’ve already lost out on two houses that we loved so far which has quite frustrating and hard but on the flip side, I am getting to learn a bit more about the process and how it all works.

I’ve started having drum lessons. I had a hour long introductory lesson and then have been following up it up with weekly half hour lessons as well as practicing basic rhythms at home by hitting cushions and other soft furnishings. As part of the lessons, I’ve been learning about drum notation and type of beats. I’m just really enjoying the whole experience and it has been fun to see the little improvements I am making each week.

I’ve booked myself onto a 1 day lino printing course at my local art gallery for June. It’s run by local artist Adie Blundell – whose work I have seen before (and been blown away by). I’m really looking forward to this as it falls in a busy time at work for me so it will be nice to take some time out to do this.

I’m now at level 5 on Wanikani. In fact I’ve only just started level 5 – level 4 took me quite a long time and at times I didn’t really push myself with it. I did find it useful to read about how Koichi – the founder of Wanikani studies himself. Him saying that even a small bit of study each day is more useful than cramming every now and then so that’s what I’m aiming for.

Book-wise I’ve ready 25 books so far and my goal for the year is 75 so I’m 1/3 of the way through. So far the ones I have enjoyed most this year are –

Flawed – Cecelia Ahern
One of us is lying – Karen M McManus
The Year of living Danishly – Helen Russell
Beautiful Music for Ugly – Kristin Cronn-Mills

Travel-wise I don’t have anything much booked although my Mum is coming to visit over the Easter weekend and we have plans to go visit some alpacas which I’m excited about.

In terms of everything else…I’m doing bits where I can but also trying to accept my own limitations and need for down time in which to relax from work.

Tiny Things Tuesday #50

Wow, I can’t quite believe I have done 50 of these posts. I’ve never really kept up a public blog for this long before. I took today off of work so it’s felt like a mine mid week(ish) break for me. The majority of the posts I have written are these TTT ones which has been a good exercise in itself in gratitude and reflection. It make me happy to look back over that tag and remember things

   

I read a book in bed (this one) before getting up, making myself some fresh coffee and pancakes. I then pottered around the house, playing Stardew Valley, listening to music, washing up and then made a huge pan of sweetcorn chowder (recipe is from #2 of Grub zine)

   

1. I went one a day trip on Saturday with some friends to the Cotswold Farm Park to see their baby animals. We got to bottle feed some of the lambs as well as feed some sheep, goats, horses. I also got to see some piglets but sadly didn’t get close enough to cuddle one (a long time goal that still remains unfulfilled.) The little guy pictured here was called Bear and was an orphan but he seemed to be doing well and at one point he made a bid for freedom and was frolicking around the barn on his own.

2. I got this very exciting envelope through the post yesterday – it’s the first mailing of Cryptogram Puzzle Post by the very talented Jack Fallows. I’m pretty rusty at puzzle solving so I think I need to spend some quality time with this envelope and its contents at the weekend.

I had my first drumming lesson tonight. Turns out that I sadly don’t have an amazing skills that were just waiting to come out when I sat down. However I could see myself gradually improve over the course of the lesson which was pleasing. I struggle with learning new things a lot and its hard sometimes for me to motivate myself to practice and try when I don’t see any improvement. I need to keep reminding myself that I am doing these things for fun because I can take it too seriously.

It looks like there is going to be a new Moomin TV series and it looks really wonderful. You can help crowdfund it here and get all sorts of nice looking rewards or just get excited about seeing it when its out if you don’t want to contribute.

Now my bed and another book is calling. Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #49

I haven’t managed one of these Tuesday posts for a while but I was feeling particularly positive today so here goes…

   

   

   

1. A few weeks ago I devoured the whole first season of A series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. I read (& loved) the books a good many years ago and I enjoyed the film but the rushed ending and part where they muddled up the timelines wasn’t great. I LOVE how the Netflix version seems to be so much more openly queer friendly with both Sir and Charles being explicitly depicted as a couple and the person of undetermined gender who appears to be playing it as non-binary. I’m excited for season 2.

2. Speaking of TV – I am also really enjoying Riverdale at the moment. I haven’t read the Archie Comics before so I’m pretty new to the story but the noir vibes reminded me of Veronica Mars which is always a good thing. So far my favorite character are Betty and Veronica (together) and Jughead. There is something about the way that it’s shot that also really reminds me of Life in Strange.

3. J got me this lovely Moomin cushion as a valentines gift. I love the print on it. I think I need to have a duvet days soon where I drink lots of coffee, make pancakes and read one of the books.

4. Tegan & Sara were amazing on Saturday evening at The Institute in Birmingham. You can see the set list here – I was most happy to hear Alligator and U-turn plus 100x because I knew it was one of J’s favorites. The tickets were part of my Christmas gift (tucked inside the CD of the latest album) and when I first opened them I was a little taken back because I hadn’t really listened to them in ages but as I started listening to the new album and re-visiting their old ones, a lot of memories started coming back and I realised how many emotions their music stirs up in me.

5. Stardew Valley – I brought this for my laptop about a month ago for around £12 and it terms of giving vallue for money, I cannot fault it! It’s a pretty simple game with a retro pixel art look to it that combines elements of Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and other farming simulators I am finding it really relaxing to play (aside from when I die in the mines in the desert) Here’s a little article about how SV is an improvement on previous games of this type.

6. I got exciting post from Wanikani the other day as a reward for completing the first 3 levels. It was a magnet, hand written postcard and sticker. I’m a sucker for surprise post and I’m also still really enjoying using Wanikani to learn Kanji. It has given some structure to my days especially as I tend to use my bus ride to work to work on revisions and new lessons.

Some other bits and pieces that I have also been enjoying;

I’m really into this article from Rookie on how to be alone. I’m an only child and having alone time is pretty vital to my wellbeing especially since I started living with someone else.

Spring being almost here. The evenings are finally getting lighter and it helps my mood so much.

Looking at the tweets from the Cat Reviewer.

It’s Sheffield zine fest this weekend and I’m excited to go and see my friends and eat some tasty food. Last year I had the best salt and chili tofu that I had ever had and I still think of it about once a month. Ahh!

I had my fringe (and thge reset of my hair) cut a few weeks ago after not bothering since the start of October. It actually feels like it had a style now and isn’t such a pain in the butt to blow dry in the mornings. It shocked me just how much of an impact it had on my mood and I guess its a reminder to myself that these things I sometimes think are trivial can make a difference.

A mid-February update

Life is…life, I guess. House hunting is slow and frustrating. It’s hard to imagine what you can have when all you have been used to is renting and making do with what you can afford, where will allow pets and where you’ve managed to get your application in first. Looking for somewhere to buy seems more exciting in some senses especially as it’s all so new but for the same reason, I am also feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused about it all.

I’ve treated myself to a Spotify paid account and that’s helping somewhat. I’ve spent most of the week listening to Tegan & Sara on repeat and discovering that I enjoy Sainthood much more than I thought I did when it came out. I’ve managed to hook it up to my very neglected last.fm account so you can see what I’ve been listening to here should you want to do that for some reason.

Here’s a picture of Cabaret because too much text in a row is boring

I’m trying to get better at managing my money. I’ve got a busy weekend coming up as I’m seeing Josie Long on Friday evening and then Tegan & Sara on Saturday – both in Birmingham. I need money for the train and food and I’m squirrelling away pounds in different accounts for both.

I feel like I am weighing up how much value I get from things. I had previously deemed a Spotify membership as too much of a luxury until I a) realised I could get a student rate and b) heard the same 1 or 2 adverts too many times in a row and wanted to scream. We’ve had an office move and being slightly closer to people is a bit of a struggle in terms of overheard noises so I’ve been relying on listening to music more to help me concentrate. I guess I’m only justifying this to myself at the end of the day.

This morning I also listening to the latest episode of Pomo Pain podcast which is an excellent podcast by my friend Ingrid. If you haven’t heard it, then you should listen. It always helps me to make sense of my own thoughts and gives me a different but helpful perspective on things.

Not much is making me happy at the moment, but this video (and song) really is

“i’m sorry if i accidentally implied
i’m sorry if i explicitly promised
i’m sorry if i swore on lives other than mine
my cat my dog my sister
i hope they’ll be alright”

Better late than never…

I haven’t written my goals for the year here yet – a combination of trying to decide where the line is between pushing myself and setting myself up to fail by setting goals that are too strict or too ambitious plus using the majority of my energy up with working and fighting off winter germs.

I’ve also been struggling about how much I want to share of my “real” life here. This is both in terms of how vulnerable to make myself when discussing issues like my physical and mental health, but also how much I want to make certain facts public about myself.

On the flip side of that, I don’t want to present too much of a sanitised view of my life. I focus on the positives quite a bit here and a lot of what I share is only about certain topics. I guess I don’t want to give the impression that I am wafting my life away in a polka dot haze of instagram filters, whimsy and laughter. I can be twee as fuck but I also live in a pretty messy house, I can be quite lazy and slobby at times and I go through periods where it’s all I can do to scrape myself out of bed in the morning.

Anyway, on with my goals. My caveat to all of this is that I plan to buy a house this year, so a lot of my goals will be written with the knowledge that I will have that going on in the background.

Studying & learning
 I want to carry on with my Japanese study and reach level 10 on Wanikani, as well as complete the Japanese for Busy people textbook and workbook. I’m currently about half way through level 3 which is the last free level. I’ve found it a bit hard to pitch a reasonable goal here as I have no idea how steep the learning curve will be once I start on the paid for levels.
 I would like to attend at least one evening or day class where I learn a new creative or practical skill.
 On top of this, I would like to take some drum lessons as I’ve really enjoyed drumming as part of the Wasp drummers in the last few months

Travel 
 I would like to go on one short break either in Europe or the UK with my Mum
 I would also like to go away somewhere with Joe for a few nights
 I would like to visit at least 3 cities or towns in the UK that I haven’t been before

Creating
 I would like to complete the colourful crochet blanket that I have been working on. The majority of te squares are made for this, I just need to join them together and then crochet a border on them.
 I would like to finish the o-w-l-s jumper which I recently re-started after leaving my previous version half finished for ages and being unable to work out where I was at on the pattern.
 I would also like to try more general creative “stuff” by keeping a sketchbook of sketches, doodles and collages

Other
 I’ve set myself the Goodreads goal of reading 70 books this year. For context, last year I read 98 (and my goal was 52)
 This isn’t very quantifiable – but I want to cut down on the amount of time I spend on social media, particularly facebook as I find it both a time suck and something that doesn’t really aid my mood a lot of the time
 Finally, I would like to work more towards having a space to live where I feel at home rather than just somewhere that all my stuff happens to be

Tiny Things Tuesday #48

Ah January, you are kind of a bitch. I’m struggling with my mental health at the moment. It’s nothing big, just January blues (at least I think) so I am trying to set myself small goals each day, find things to look forward to and plan lots of chill out time for my evenings and weekends.

I have got out of the habit of writing my Tuesday posts here but I wanted to make an effort to write in here again especially when it’s not always as easy to see the small positive things.

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1. I wore this pin from Punky Pins today to work to cheer me up and remind me of the joy of coffee. If you don’t recognise the quote – it’s from Stranger Things – you can see a gif of the scene here. I’m looking forward to series 2 coming later this year and the pin is also a pretty good summation of how I like my mornings.

2. Even though I am not going to lessons any more, I am still carrying on with my Japanese study. At the moment I am using wanikani to start to learn kanji. The system they use really seems to work well and I like how from the start, you learn some useful kanji.

3. I’m still going to visit my squirrel pals when I am in the city centre. Last time I went looking for them, they were all hiding from the rain but I did see this trio of pigeons. I love their markings.

4. Look at my amazing scarf! I got it in the winter Pusheen subscription box (which was a Christmas gift) I wont go on about everything in the box but I will say that it is really good value and I’m so excited to get my other boxes through out this year.

Till next time..

So, 2016 then…

I wrote about my goals for 2016 just over a year ago on this blog. I thought I would write a little about how those worked out before writing about what my plans are for this year.

star Complete and pass my Japanese for beginners class – I finished my classes but I didn’t get the certificate as I struggled with the listening particularly. I’m still carrying on learning on my own though so it still feels like a positive
star Renew my passport and plan a trip to see my friend Lisa in Tokyo in October – I did this! I still haven’t written up my trip. I was also lucky enough to go to Luxembough for a break with J which I hadn’t originally planned.
star Grow my hair and get a fringe cut back in (I’ve tried to get away for it, but I always end up with fringe envy!) – Yup, my hair is slowly growing and I’m back to having a fringe (which is currently in need of a trim)
star Take a second silversmithing class (This is something that I’m almost sure will happen because my Mum generously paid for this as my Christmas gift) – This actually didn’t happen because I didn’t seek out one to do as I got caught up with both work and my travel plans.
star Have a massive overhaul of my possessions and our current house (ready for the next point) – I did this a bit but not as much as I wish I had (which means there is still a lot to do)
star Keep saving towards buying our own place – Yup! I did this every month bar November and December
star Carry on writing in this blog on a regular basis – ish! I mean, I didn’t write a lot but I did still post a few things here
star Write another perzine and another issue of Rebel, Rebel – I didn’t make any zines at all in 2016 aside from a tiny mini zine about stationery that I made just before Weirdo zine fest.
star Read at least 52 books (an average of 1 per week) – Yup! I read 98 books in the end

On reflection, I think I did ok. My year was personally a good one even though I felt upset, dejected and shaken at times by the state of the world and what seemed like a non-stop stream of bad news on a local, national and global scale.

Aside from getting to travel – I rediscovered a love for knitting socks, enjoyed watched iZombie, Crazy Ex-girlfriend and Gilmore Girls, drank a lot of coffee, got to hang out with friends at various events, went to a few gigs and also started walking a lot more.

2017 goals are currently brewing in my brain so I will write about those in the next few days