Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The heat that I didn't notice

If there's one thing that working in the Outback has changed about me if my heat gauge. I still deal well in cold climates, of course, but I deal better in the sun than I used to.


Whilst in the old days I was known to get particularly testy and easily irritated when the temperature began to climb past 30 or 35, now I hardly notice unless my hair starts to frizz up (and it usually does). Working long hours in the Pilbara covered from head to toe in a fine sheen of ever-present sweat apparently changes a girl and her ideas about the heat. How can I get too bothered by 30 degrees with a breeze when I'm used to it being 45 and still?

I'm not impervious now though and obviously I'm still going to get frustrated when it gets too hot, as anything I am still a Winter girl and that hasn't changed, but I suppose what's different is that my tolerance and inner Zen are just better.


Another thing that has slightly changed however, and even a tad concerns me, is my appreciation for Summer - I kind of have one now and not just for the sheer fact that it usually signals the end of the year and holidays (even though I work full time now - best job ever). I actually look forward to some aspects of Summer now like pooling (yes I call it this), icy cocktails (usually by the pool), sun dresses, air con, and the lazy afternoons. I suppose I always liked these things, but they were more of a way to endure Summer before and now I almost look forward to it just because. It's bizarre and I'm not sure how much I like it.

Summer has always been dominated by skinny chicks in bikinis, beach bums and people that loved the heat. Growing up I have never been any of those things - I carry more weight than I should, I wear bikinis but always under board shorts and a t-shirt (I'm self conscious but also very fair and prone to burn), I don't like the beach even though I live 2 minutes from it (and still don't - I'll usually avoid it if I can), and I always just preferred everything about cold weather; the clothing, the feeling of warming by the fire on an icy evening, hot cups of tea, and all things Wintery. So try to understand or imagine that this new appreciation and anticipation for hot weather has left me feeling a little off balance - who is this Summer Girl and what the hell did she do with Sam?

It's not all bad, obviously, and as Summer does start to approach I'm more relaxed than I usually would be and make no bones about the fact that I am sort of ok with it this year. And as with a lot of things in life, Summer doesn't  just mean 'hot' any more - I'm evolving from my black and white (but also rose-coloured) view of the world and I'm looking on the bright side.

I'd still prefer Winter, but Summer's not that bad to me any more either. Bring it on then, Sun!

On a side note: NaNoWriMo starts in 2 days! 

Halloween, Dios de los Meurtos and NaNo - oh my what a weekend!

Sam xox

Sunday, October 27, 2013

He's Just Not that Into You

Here is a film, with a very important message, that all women (and probably men as well) should watch from time to time. And not only is the message one that we probably all relate too, but the film is good as well; it's funny and heartbreaking and true to form with a beautiful collection of favourite actors and actresses from Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwin to Scarlett Johansen and Bradley Cooper to Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston and Ben Afleck (I actually like all these people, btw).

The message is still the most important part, however, and the film opens with the little white lies that mothers, friends and sisters have been telling us since we were old enough to fancy a guy: he likes you but....And whilst all the buts are generally well-meant and from the heart (maybe he is just super busy and can't have a relationship right now, maybe he does like you too much to tie himself down, maybe he does have issues from a past relationship he doesn't know how to get past) the unfortunate crux of the matter is that if a guy likes you - he'll let you know in his own time.

Even if that can seem like goddamn forever!

I'm guilty of these things too, I'm not a perfect example of modern woman who doesn't beat around the bush; I've said these things to my friends, and I've believed them, too. I've sat there and wondered why a guy I liked hasn't texted me (calling is not really my thing, it makes me feel too awkward) or why when he seems all efforts to the contrary he won't take a chance on me as his girlfriend. There are other examples, and other unfortunate situations, but the sad truth is sometimes we just pussyfoot around the things that we don't want to accept and one of those things is more often than not he's probably just not that into you.

There are exceptions - but they're rarer than we want to think. A guy will call you if he wants to call you, and if a guy is treating you like he doesn't care then unfortunately it's probably because he doesn't care.

For the most part we are all the rule. I was told recently that 'fairytales don't exist' and that's the rule. The exception to the rule would be to have a fairytale romance or some sort of love story out of a rom-com. But exceptions are rare - there are no loopholes and there are no instant replays or volleys. But I don't think that it should be incentive to stop hoping - no way.

And the same goes for men, too. Sometimes women just aren't into certain men either. No ifs and/ or buts.

All these things considered I have my own rule that I have always lived by and it allies rather nicely with the just not that into you one. My rule is this: don't go for second best. I don't want to go for someone I'm only half interested in, and I would be insulted to think that I was someone's second choice. I think that every one deserves the best - that's not wrong. And if you don't feel that each other is the best then maybe it's time to move on?

I've been single since my last reincarnation and it's not because I've never had the opportunity to be with someone, I've met plenty of people over the years, but if I haven't felt it and gotten it in return then I let the opportunity pass me by. I know a lot of people would say I was letting potentially good things just float on by, but I stand by my decisions. I don't usually make them lightly, and in the pursuit of happiness all people just try to do their best for themselves and others. And I don't think that getting into a relationship with someone I'm just not that into is particularly going to make me or him all that happy.

So if I'm single into my next reincarnation that will kind of suck, but at least I stood by my beliefs and I won't have launched myself into a relationship just so I won't be alone. Alone doesn't necessarily equal loneliness.

I remain optimistic and see the world through my rose-coloured glasses, but if I never meet someone who I really like and who feels the same then that's just the way it is.

All's fair in love and war. 

Sam xox

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Real Thing

I've been looking for the missing piece, you're the one I need, I've found the real thing; like the water, like the air I breathe, you're a part of me: I've found the real thing.

As a tail I what I said a few weeks ago - there's never any use in letting yourself draw a comparison between yourself and the lives of your enemies. If they're happy, then good. Everyone deserves to be, and you will be happier someday too. I am even if I wasn't always.

Don't big yourself down with the thoughts of things you don't have. If you're not in love then someday you will be, and I don't have to have an overly optimistic view of love and romance to see that. 

Most of us are good people and deserve to be happy.

Sam xox

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ouija Board

Ouija board, spirit board, talk to me.


A Ouija board is often a wooden board with painted numbers, letters and words. It uses a planchette, a sort of viewfinder, to select which numbers or letters or words that were needed to convey whatever the users needed.


Origins exist far earlier than the iconic board that you may be familiar with, and there are references to spirit boards and similar devices used in China and Japan and Europe. The attempts to contact the deceased are not new and have continued all throughout history in differing forms, but Ouija board is the most common.

There were no 'Ouija' boards before the 19th century, and even then they were marketed as a game, a toy, that both children and adults could play with. And they did. It wasn't long before spirit games became an image of popular culture and sleepover rituals that transcended time and place from America to Australia and to China and Japan. Seances, en vogue throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, began to use them with the intention to conjure or speak to the dead.

But how many people really believe in what the boards stand for? I'd wager far less than should.

There is no real tell as to what effect the use of a Ouija board will have, and they probably depend on the kind of person you are. It may even depend on who you play with or how you play.

One rule I will enforce to any game to try it, for whatever reason, is never, ever play alone. Not because you'll frighten yourself, not because it won't work as well, and not because it won't be as fun. Ouija boards not only open a forum for contact but they will also leave you open and susceptible to that kind of energy, mindset and contact long after you stop playing. Always, even if you don't really believe, have at least one other person there to anchor the situation.

I'm not sure, for all my belief in ghosts and the other world, that I quite believe as far as demon or spirit possession but this is the sort of situation that starts it. The boy that Linda Blair's character is based on in the film The Exorcist, Roland Doe, claimed that he was playing with Ouija boards alone and is inherently what led to his possession and eventual exorcism during the 1940's. You may not believe, I'm not even sure I do - but the question there, the not being sure, is what stops me; you just never know, and it's best not to meddle in things that aren't fully understood and can prove to be very dangerous for all involved.

For those that have always been interested to play with a Ouija board just for fun or to actively attempt to make contact, then there are plenty of forums for attempting as safely as possible. Wiki and Ask.com offer a simple step guides to the 'game':

http://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Ouija-Board

http://paranormal.about.com/cs/ouijaboards/ht/use_ouija.htm

But for all my terminology I don't consider it to be a game. I don't take it light-heartedly and I can tell you that there are many, many people like me and those who feel even stronger about the topic. Paranormal investigators and psychologists and mediums and clairvoyants will often strongly encourage against the use of spirit boards without proper instruction and ritual. Think of it like science or potions class; improper mixing or following of the recipes will turn your solutions bad or they just won't work as well. I can tell you that in my experience even something as seemingly simple as making soap can go awfully wrong when you don't follow instructions (my beaker exploded and got me with the shards).

Even more dangerous is the people who use the Ouija board for proof of some kind of spiritual existence. Asking a spirit to prove itself by throwing or moving something, or basically any kind of physical interaction, is dangerous because it allows whatever is actually there to accumulate enough energy to impact on the real world - and if that happens who's to say that that will be where they stop.

I've thought about all this sort of stuff before because it's always been something I've wanted to try, like a seductive fantasy or quest for some more solid proof. But I know never will - It's just too dangerous, and I'm so susceptible, open and I feel far too strongly that I would be a perfect conduit for things to take advantage or go awfully wrong. And I'd never play alone.

But what I did do was see a Ouija board iPhone cover on the internet and decide that I had to have it, so I bought it and it wasn't really all that expensive. But when it arrived and I put it on my phone, proud of it, I've started to have a bad feeling in my gut and every night it's been on I've had horrible nightmares that have woken me up in the middle of the night too terrified to do anything but keep my eyes closed and force myself to breathe. It probably all seems kind of silly, and I'll admit that a large part of this is in my head, but I can't deny that this was a likely mistake.

I never played it, the cover only features the board and never came with a planchette, but I could never have done it anyway. I really like the cover, but for now it may be worth putting it away until my subconscious stops sending me night terrors and I stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Sure, I believe in ghosts and not everybody does, but sometimes the mind can play tricks on you, too.

I'd rather believe that my mind was just spinning than the Ouija board cover was having a real effect on my susceptibility.

A fun read for skeptics and believers alike: http://www.aformerskeptic.com/


Sam xox

Pet Sematary

I just finished Pet Sematary - on Tuesday, I've been a tad lazy this week I admit. 

I have to say I immensely enjoyed it and wager that I preferred it as a book to The Shining. Yeah, that's right. Whilst the concept of a haunted hotel screwing with it's inhabitants is probably more up my alley and a more terrifying image, there was something far more emotional and endearing about the character of Louis Creed who just wanted to be a good father and make his family happy. Even if it meant bringing his daughter's cat, his two-year old son, and eventually his wife all back from the dead.

Stephen King fills Pet Sematary with such foreshadowing that you know pretty much from the first few pages where the story is going. When Louis Creed, neighbour Jud, and family are wandering through the cemetery at the beginning of the book each hoping that it wouldn't happen to them, and Louis' daughter is pushed to tears at the thought of her cat being killed ever you pretty much know that's what's in store. But then if it weren't, there would be no story.

Whilst the foreshadowing starts to become a little stifling as the untimely deaths of various characters all draw closer, King's use of suspense narrative is really showcased so well that by the time something does happen it's like a relief. I'd say that was a pretty good sign of talent in a writer if their words can wind you up like that, even when you know what's coming. Unfortunately King keeps going a little so that the foreshadowing crosses over into actually just telling you what's about to happen. When Gage's death approaches the text switches to explicitly state that 'he only has weeks to live' and 'he'd never see that truck coming'. Which is oddly annoying particularly when combined with the way that the event actually occurs - in memory during the wake. The events of the wake are also described in the first few paragraphs of Part Two before later being described again in chronological order as the day pans out. Did that make sense? Basically King says this is what will happen at the wake, then goes on to describe the whole day including the events of and surrounding the wake. It was sort of unnecessarily repetitive.

But I tip my hat to Stephen King - good show, old chap.

This is another example of when the book is just so much better than the movie - for one thing the book had all that foreshadowing that the film barely touches on, and all the gross imagery of missing limbs and seeping wounds gets glossed over on paper. I'm sorry, but no one needed to see Mrs Creed's open wounds seeping fluid into Louis' mouth as they vigorously tongue kiss. No one! But the film did admittedly do justice to a lot of the weird themes that King was trying to get across - like the terror of resurrection and the horror of losing a child. The scene when Gage is killed is glazed past in the book, but the film chocks a powerful scene of the little boy's bloodied shoe bouncing onto the road hits you like a sucker punch and you know that it's bad. It's also an image that most parents have probably envisaged in their lifetimes and a scene that prospective or new parents should probably watch. Don't let your kids play in the road, parents, and if you have a house near a major highway for the love of god get yourself a decent fence.

Many of this story's problems would have been solved by the addition of a fence.

As far as problems go though, it is the glaring fever that Louis begins to fall under when faced with the burying ground that leads to the story's eerie outcome. Early on Jud warns Louis about the seductive allure of the pet sematary and profusely apologising for the demons that caused him to take Louis there in the first place. As another less obvious example of foreshadowing we also know from this moment on that the same addiction that pushed Jud to show Louis the cemetery was going to keep on at Louis, too. And it did. You could write an entire thesis on the idiocy and poor choices made by Louis Creed propelling the negative effects of the story. My cat died so I brought him back but he came back different, my son died next and he came back homicidal, so third time's a charm and I'll just wait to see if my wife murders anyone too. That's one difference of the book and film that bothered me a little - the book ends with Louis' wife returning. The movie has her returning, the addition of the most repulsive make out session of all time, and knife wielding cliffhanger as we're left to think Louis is about to be shish kebab'd. The book ends more uncertainly, but with King's involvement in the Pet Sematary film (gotta love his random cameo as the Priest) it makes me wonder if that is the extension of the ending that he envisaged.

I definitely recommend reading the book as it is an example of iconic horror and literary wonder. If you've never read any Stephen King before than I suppose it's as good as any book to start with, and I'd encourage you to also read the Shining for comparison. I understand that most people would disagree with my choice of Pet Sematary over the Shining although I still loved both books.

I even recommend watching the very kitsch movie from 1989 as it follows the events of the books quite closely it acts a great compliment to the story, even if it's a bit visually gross as some points. It will however give a creepier coat to the Zelda story and packs a lot of powerful imagery that the book just can't quite show with words alone. Plus, the actor that plays Louis is kind of dishy. I can still appreciate man-candy in iconic horror - so sue me!

Stephen King is a fantastic writer and Pet Sematary is just another in a long line of very successful and popular works that are sure good for a little stormy night reading. Give yourself a change and try something of his, you won't regret it. Unless your feint-hearted or afraid of a little spook.

Stephen King - not for the easily scared.

Sam xox

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Champion

Did you realise that you were a champion in their eyes?

The idea of a champion can be traced back to Ancient Times all over the world. Odysseus, for example, from Homer's Odyssey is a champion - Penelope's.

The Age of Chivalry is probably the most notable time of championship and daring do defined I'm popular history, literature and memory as knights in shinning armour or princes. The Arthurian legends mention some of the most famous champions of all time from Lancelot to Galahad and to King Arthur himself. These men are brave and strong and true - all the things that little girls like me have been taught since birth to value; but how much of this is constructed by the times?

Funnily enough the Age of Chivarly and Knights in shining armour are fondly remembered not by the people of the Middle Ages, but by the upper and literate classes of the Victorian Era. In the time of high necklines and bustles the idea of romanticism was drummed up and spun like sugar to become the basis of the world as we know it. If you're me, that means incredibly rose coloured.

Now, saying things to me about romance being unrealistic or the novels that I read are trashy is more than likely going to send me into a seething rage. I may have a tendency to be overly optimistic about love - true - but that does not equal idiocy, naivety or misfortune. I'm rather inclined to believe that while it's not an ideal situation or mindset all the time I remain particularly happy or lighthearted most of the time. Maybe it's the rest of you who always talk about it being so average and unexceptional who've lost faith or just being pessimistic? Regardless, calling what I read trashy or downplaying my ideas is tantamount to slut shaming or victim blaming which is really not ok. 

Having a rose coloured opinion of life and love does however leave me with the inclination to think about things in a better way; the Age of Chivalry, for example, doesn't have to be so painfully dead because I see chivalry in plenty I acts of kindness that people do for me. What is also still a very present ideal is that of a champion. I don't mean boxers or winning jockey's or Olympians, what I mean when I say champion is effectively a modernisation of the old knight in shinig armour. 

My champion wouldn't have to fight dragons or sail around the Mediterranean for a decade, he'd just have to be there. I've come across so many men that have been a woman's champion without ever really realising it themselves - not a Prince Charming, per se, it doesn't have to take all that - but just nice guys who act like good people. It's difficult to explain really, but champions will stand up for your honour, or help you out and not just because they're hopeful you'll shag them. And no, I don't think that's a crazy out there kind of situation. 

All men have the ability to be champions - and women, too - I'm not a perfect example because I can be selfish too, but I endeavour to be a champion to my friends when they're in need of defending. Right now an idiot among men has wronged one of my closest pals and you can rest assured that he better watch his back when I return to the city after this work trip is over.

But I would love a champion - I've probably had one before and not appreciated it enough, for that I'm truly sorry! I'd still love to have someone, though, and it doesn't necessarily have to be a romantic interest. Or someone just trying to get in m pants. No, I'd just love someone to look after me sometimes so that I don't always have to slay my own dragons. It's damn hard work doing that all the time!

Maybe I have some already and I just don't realise - that can be my goal: to appreciate the men in my life more. Do unto others! 

Sam xox


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Awkward Pilbara Tales, Volume I

Working in the Outback can be hard; it's hot, dusty, sweaty, rough and so covered in red it can sometimes be a real kicker to get out of bed every day with a smile.

But with all the difficulties and hard days on the job come so many stories of awkward misadventures, fails and honest good times. I could probably write a book with multiple volumes just about all the fun memories, ridiculous comments and awkward moments made by both myself and everyone else. 

Obviously I won't name any names, but I'll give you a couple of examples (and they aren't always me, but I won't say which ones are!): 

- Falling backwards down a cliff face when trying to pee.
- Ripping a hole in the butt of work pants on a rock whilst reclining.
- "Wouldn't it be lovely to go to work and wear streamers"
-Tearing off your underwear by pulling too hard on them in the morning, only to spend the rest of the day going commando.
- "I'm a dick city"
- Dropping your radio into a creek and having to swim around to find it.
- Tossing a chicken bone onto the ground only to have a wedge-tailed eagle fly out of nowhere and snatch it.
- Walking around the corner to witness team members bent over extracting spinifex out of each other's asses.
- Peeing on your work radio or first aid kit.
- Being chased by wildlife, such as cows...or emus.
- The short-lived breathalyser guy who would hold the machine and give awkward tidings like 'blow harder' or 'don't you wish it tasted like chocolate'.
- Having everybody at the wet mess wish you happy birthday with a cake...when it's not your birthday.
- Peeing near a main road only to have someone drive past you and see...everything.
- Losing a member of the team only to stumble across them...mid-steam.
- Being pushed backwards, or catapulted off an esky while reclining.
- Making suspenders out of string because you forgot to bring a belt.
- Speeding down the highway in a race against time on a litre of petrol.
- Missing the turn off by over 10 km when you take it everyday.

There are so many more stories I could tell you filled with in-jokes and all sorts of awkward hilarity spurned by too many hours in the sun, tedious days or way too much time spent with the same people. The brunt of the Pilbara life is that in no time at all these people become like your family and it's hard for anyone on the outside to always tell what its like. Rest assured - it's mental.

Whether your attempt to jump over a spinifex bush has gone wrong, your wet hat smells so bad you think something's died in the car, or your clever April Fool's Day prank has caused an entire team to freak out, life in the outback is so full of life.

We may be out there recording the distant and not-so distant past, but we're also creating our own histories too. Plus there's so much dirt on the rest of my team hidden within the pages of Awkward Pilbara Tales that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

My job can be so awesome sometimes.


Sam xox


Friday, October 11, 2013

Adventures of the MiniKobo

Let me start with a sort or explanation and disclaimer.

This is the MiniKobo:

Halloween is coming up - Horror book time!

The MiniKobo is, as you can probably figure from the photo, a palm-sized (Note: I actually have rather small hands), portable, and custom eReader. 

Yes, I know, I capitulated and gave in to the temptation. But, you know, I'm rather ok with that.

I had been tossing up the idea in varying a degrees for a few months and finally came to the conclusion that, yes, I was going to make that very modern leap into the world of eBooks. Not, that is to say, that I'm giving up on physical books - the bookworm that I am couldn't do it it my life depended on it (I'm possibly a few dollars away from being clinically addicted to buying books).

But what I did in the end was come to the decision, put my foot down and impulse buy the MiniKobo. I did do a bit of research beforehand, but all I'd looked at so far was the iPads, Kindles and Kindle Fire tablets (the latter I rather hated). But the moment I walked into JB HiFi and saw the MiniKobo it was like it was meant to be! It was reduced, there was one cover left (purple - um, yes!), and the it was just so cute! Plus, it fits my little hands like...a glove? I struggle to find an appropriate metaphor, but you catch my drift. Anyway, the snap decision and impulse buy has so far been a pretty great decision.

Except, you know, for the crazy amount of books that I have uploaded onto the MiniK in the past few days...138. Fortunately, most of them are digital versions of the ridiculous amount of books I've already got sitting in my to-be-read pile at home. The others...not so much, but they are a loving mix of free and paid books. I found a good website that gives unlimited free book downloads for a month for $15, and has a relatively good selection of books in PDF and EPUB formats. Here's a link if you're interested: 


But trust me, as I'm finding out, there is no shortage of way to download either paid or free books if you want them. 

And like I said above eBooks aren't going to stop my love for paper books, and it's not going to hurt me. I fully intend to keep buying books, and hope that I can always get corresponding digital copies to upload to the MiniK. The base point being that the MiniK is a supplement or a Merlin's Briefcase (See: The Sword in the Stone) for real books - you can carry them all around at once in a handy palm-sized package.

I travel so much these days both for work and pleasure that it was almost illogical and simply not logistical for me not to get one. Especially when my baggage limits are starting to become such a problem before I start to cram all my books in. Coming back from London at the beginning of the year my bags were almost 10kg heavier than the limit, and books were responsible for about 7 or 8 of them. So you see, a Merlin's Briefcase is pretty handy for someone like me.

Buying myself the MiniK doesn't make me a traitor to the cause, it just makes me adaptable - it also maybe highlights my obsession with books and buying them to begin with. 

But that's OK by me - I'm enamoured of the MiniK. It's like a safety net, unlimited books and a new friend all in one. I think I'm going to be taking it pretty much everywhere with me - like a PDA. 

I recommend it - not as a replacement, but as an addition. If you're like me, you probably won't regret it.

Note: my library in the Tea Room at home is still going to be full of books I've read. I'll buy all the books I download for free that I don't already have sitting in my to-be-read bookcase. 

It rarely hurts to try new things every once in a while.


Sam xox

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Don't look back in anger

Always put your behind in the past...er, always put your past behind you. 

Timon and Pumbaa's life lessons, and there are more than just Hakuna Matata if you pay attention, teach us all to be better people. If they ran a kindergarten I'd surely take my future children there to learn to function in the great wide world - assuming we could actually learn to communicate with meerkats and warthogs by then. 

But the point is that what Timon says is almost a vital key to living healthily and happily in the modern world. Even if the past, like it is for me, is your very life's work. 

Sometimes bad things happen, and there's nothing you can do about it. 

Simba, the only kid to ever get to actually attend the Timon and Pumbaa Day Care Centre, has the right idea by the time he grows up. And no, it's not easy for him to say - his dad got pushed off a cliff remember? Even we are still traumatised by that, so, yeah, we get it. But for all his faults, Simba does move on and in the end he's happy. 

In the real world, bad things happen all the time to everyone. Good people are constantly hurt and karma never seems to smack down enough on the people that deserve it. But what we all have to remember is that karma and vengeance are never going to solve all our problems. 

Neither is comparing ourselves to other people, especially the ones that wronged us. Hey, I'm no saint - I'm guilty of this too and it's easy in hindsight to say you should let the anger go. At the time is sucks, it really does! You can be so angry you want to tear apart the people that wronged you, or so said you could drown in your own tears, but if you let that overcome you and take you over then they've already won. It gets easier though, in time, to let things go. It could take days, weeks, months or even years, Rome wasn't built in a day. And the day you can honestly say that it doesn't bother you will come as a total shock, but you'll be happier.

It's easy to get weighed down by thinking your enemies have a better life, or are happier than you. What isn't easy is to let it go - the damage is already done, but letting them keeping on in your head only hurts you more. And trust me - I've been there so I know how hard it can be; it's alienating and dark and ugly. It's a terrible feeling to think that you've been treated unjustly and the ones who did so are happy, that karma isn't working. It's heartbreaking, of course.

But if you let the darkness consume you, it'll take so much longer and be so much harder to come back. It's difficult to be happy when you're lost in the dark.

My advice, from first hand understanding, is whatever you do don't let it in. All it needs is one entry and it'll take you over, think of it like Venom. A parasite that'll wear you down and turn you into someone you don't want to be. And then they'll win. 

Learn from your past, go back there for visits and remember it - but don't live there. Everyone's got baggage - the world is full of bad things. But it's also full of good. 

We all deserve to be happy. Don't let the past, or people from your past, take that opportunity away from you.

You'll only live to regret it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

So Mad About the Boy

I don't think I've felt so betrayed by an author I love...well, since the last time I read about Helen Fielding's post-sequel plans for Bridget Jones.

Fielding's brand new novel, Mad About the Boy, to be released in a couple of weeks, is a return to the loveable, clumsy and downright inspiring Bridget Jones after almost a 15 year hiatus. Whilst it's certainly a momentous occasion I certainly would normally have loved, the recent spoilers about the book's content that Ms Fielding herself has exploded across the internet has definitely shot that bird of hope right between the eyes.

Mad About the Boy is a return of our misadventurous heroine, Bridget Jones, after a long absence after the end of Fielding's previous release, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. When we last left off our very deserving, chain-smoking, underdog, anti-femme fatale with the relatable extra pounds had finally settled down for a happy every after with her very own Prince Charming and Mr Darcy, the aptly named Mark Darcy. Their love spanned two books, a very successful bunch of columns, two very popular movies, and an entire generation of 'singletons' - women between the ages of 10 and 50 who were ok accepting the couple of extra pounds, lived with the fact that we weren't sleek, polished femme fatales, wore big knickers to smooth our dress lines, and dreamt of meeting our perfect men.

Bridget Jones, immortalised by Renee Zellweger since 1999, is a hero. Whilst not the most brusque feminist icon, that is exactly what she was: a hero and an icon. And for me, personally, has always been someone to look up to despite all the crazy, fails and occasional flashing the camera or social awkwardness she entailed. Bridget Jones is someone I like to remember when I feel down, she'll make me smile no matter what because, hey, she's not perfect but we love her 'just as she is'.

Which brings us to today.

The latest instalment to the saga goes, from what I've read, a little like this:

Five years or so after the death of Mark Darcy (?!?!?!?! this is already a cue for me to go and cry my little heart out in the shower), Bridget is now a dumpy, miserable 50 something with two young kids, an ok job and no sex life. Until she meets a ripped 20 something and embarks on a sexy affair with a younger man to rekindle some of the sex life she's lost after the death of her husband. Right.

Don't be mad as this is honesty 100% just my personal opinion, but could Helen Fielding have broken my heart any more? It could only get worse by flinging her back together with ex-boss and all-round douchebag, Daniel Cleaver. Touchwoodtouchwoodtouchwoodtouchwood!

The fairytale-esque romance perpetrated by the clumsy, every-woman persona of Bridget Jones' character was where the majority of the appeal of the story came from. When I first read the books I was in my teens and just growing into the kind of woman I wanted to be: like Bridget. But now I'm in my 20's and having all but reached that, this miserable image of after ever after is not exactly what I had in mind for my biggest role model and I hope to hell it's not my future. Suddenly someone I always related to has sort of become someone I really don't want to be even though I know that life isn't always all roses of success. It seems a little painful to think that even fictional fairy tales can't outlast the ever growing gritty realism and cynicism creeping into our 21st century world.

Although granted the romance wasn't the only thing I loved, whilst I already want to cry into a pillow that Prince Charming might just be temporary even when he does show up, I rest a little assured that at least she still has her Bridget spark. As Sheldon Cooper would say, she's just 'zazzy'.

Or does she? Whilst 30 something Bridget was battling with weight, the constant need for a fag and the crushing fear of never having someone to love, 50 something Bridget has lost her happy ending. I don't know about you, but that seems a little like a warning label to me. Bridget Jones isn't about recovering from this calibre of loss, it's about hope and believing and never giving up despite how bad you cook or  you don't look like you stumbled out of Vogue. Bridget was supposed to show us that even misfit women deserve to fall in love and live happily ever after. I guess I just feel confronted that 'ever after' really wasn't really that long after all.

I have to give Ms Fielding some credit, however. As a fellow writer, I do respect the sheer amount of courage and utter balls that went into going in this direction with such a worldwide beloved character. If the X amount of hate mail the woman has received in the last couple of weeks has been any indication, I'm not the only one to be this disappointed with this next chapter in the life of Ms Jones. But even if I'm not happy, I'm not the writer and it isn't my say-so directing the story. If it was, Bridget would have rested eternally within her fluffy, dreamy, hopeful happily ever after. I'd have been ok with that.

So in the end I'm not going to read Mad About the Boy, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who felt the same way about Bridget Jones as I. It's not personal, Ms Fielding, if you can hear me; I just need to retain some happy endings in my life and I'll be damned if this isn't one of them.

For an interesting take on the same topic, try this article; I'm far from the only unhappy fan ready to boycott the new book and sulk instead. 


Sam xox

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Books & Kindling

Once upon a time I went up North for work and my baggage went AWOL. 

Work trips last 12-14 days on average so I usually pack about 4 books to keep me occupied and my reading up. So when my bag containing all my stuff doesn't make it to camp, all my books are gone too. If I wasn't such a nerd it wouldn't have been such a problem, but alas.

Whilst I sat twiddling thumbs a little, a friend suggested that I use my iPhone (which I in all honesty use for a lot of things) to download some ebooks.

I'm not a massive ebook fan. I try not to be judgey - I've given ebooks a go before, borrowed a kindle for a few weeks and tested the whole thing out. As much as I liked the convienience of being able to carry 50 books around with me at once in a compact little package, I'm so old fashioned it really wasn't the same to me. 

I love books; I love the way they smell, the way they feel, they very concept of turning pages and popping in bookmarks. Digital books just didn't seem the same to me!

So downloading ebooks onto my phone wasn't as simple to me as it probably would have been for someone else. But in the end I did, and was almost...shocked.

The convienience started to wear me down. Suddenly having 15 back up books on my mobile was super easy, like a massive safety net. I felt better. 

(Just a couple of the books I downloaded to my phone).


And even now that I have books most of the time I still keep the ebooks on my phone just in case. But the real kicker is that I've been thinking about getting a real ebook reader, like an iPad or kindle, despite how resistant I've always been before.


Being able to access a my books at any given time is a tantalising temptation I'm finding hard to resist, but the problem is I have such a backlog of books the thought of having to re-buy all my books in digital form seems a bit ridiculous. Especially when I buy so many books all the time that my to-be-read bookcase (yes, three shelves double stacked) is brimming at maximum capacity.

(Yes - that is my to-be-read shelf. Double stacked). 

And so now I'm in this odd space where I almost want to buy myself an iPad or kindle just to carry all my books around, but the only solution would be to download the books I already have. It's a bit of a catch 22 situation in all honesty; deal with the situation and issues I have with carrying so many books around now, or buy an iPad or kindle and deal with the issue of having so many actual books I need to convert across somehow.

On the bright side, an eReader would be tax deductible. 

Sam xox