February 2010


I am currently reading Thrive Fitness, a book by vegan endurance athlete Brendan Brazier.

One of the first things that struck me in this book was his tale of trying to find something to wear for an impromptu after dinner speech he had been asked to give but had not packed for. He found himself in Michigan looking for a suit. As a tall, lean, endurance athlete he was struggling to find anything in his size. He approached a sales assistant who looked him up and down, measured him as a 38 tall and advised him they had not stocked that size in some considerable time as requirement for anything that small had waned.

In a world where celebrities and the media perpetuate the theory that starvation is a good look on women, this alternate version of events surprised me. Yes, I am fully aware that we, as a society are becoming more and more obese, and there are many tales of ‘”plus size” people having difficulty finding nice clothing, but for a regular sized person to not be able to find suitable clothing is just ridiculous.

Following up on this, the author learned that over the years companies have been re-sizing their lines. What was a size 12, ten years ago, now shows 10 on the label to make us all feel better about our gradually expanding waistlines. I can certainly attest the truth of this and am a very good example of how this is a very bad idea.

Buying my first home meant extra financial pressure which led to more overtime, more stress, less time for working out, poorer diet and a whole lot more alcohol, which in turn led to piling on the pounds. I was still finding the time to hit the gym until I changed jobs to my current one and started working shifts, which suddenly meant the gym wasn’t open when I was ready to work out. A spiral of hard working, hard drinking and not so hard working out, meant even more weight gain.

Funny thing is, I didn’t actually notice. I am neither stupid or blind, I knew I had gained some weight and I could see that my body shape had changed, I just assumed it was due to loss of muscle tone because every time I hit the shops to buy new clothes, I slipped perfectly into the same dress size I had worn for 10 years, lulling me into the false sense of security that I was actually still the same size, just a little flabbier around the edges.

It wasn’t until I had to register at a new doctors and step on some scales that the extent of my weight gain hit me. I had put on two stone while remaining comfortably in the same size jeans. I took a long good look at myself, took some steps to rectify the matter, and was soon back to the lean, toned, specimen I remembered seeing in the mirror. I swore I would never let myself be so fooled again. Unfortunately, life took the matter out of my hands for a time and once again I am trying to shift some unwanted flesh. This time I gained three stone, but you know what? Yep, I’m still in the same size jeans I was almost 20 years ago.

I strongly suspect that, should I return to my regular weight and maintain it, by the time I’m sixty, I’ll be a size zero without all the effort of pesky starvation diets and airbrushing.

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Back in the good old days when games consoles went by the names of Sega Megadrive and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, I shared my home with a lovely creature who answered to the name of Stevie. I also shared some of my time with a man who swore by his SuperNES (which he lovingly referred to as Snessie) while I swore by my Sega Megadrive (which I lovingly referred to as Sega Megadrive).  Many an argument was had.

Now before I tell the rest of this story, I must explain that I am something of a casual gamer. I game for entertainment, it’s not life or death to me, if I’m not having fun, then I’m not doing it. Most of the men in my life have been ‘life or death’ gamers, including this particular one. For instance, a friend and I once found that in the two player version of Street Fighter 2, instead of beating on the bad guys, you could beat on each other. This amused us no end, and annoyed the life out of said man. The more it annoyed him, the more it amused us. This was in no way a match made in heaven. I should have dated my friend. We probably should have been playing Tekken.

Back to the story; one day, Snessie came for a visit, and my fella spent his time devotionally playing away on some game or other whilst I devotionally mocked him for it.

The main thing I remember about Snessie, was that she was a bulky white looking thing (as opposed to my sleek black megadrive) and had a rather large on/off button on the top.

An outstanding feature of Stevie was that he was pretty much a one-girl cat. He was almost canine in his devotion to me and his hatred of ‘everyone else’, especially if they appeared to be getting more of my attention.

Just as Mr. Snessie got past a particularly tricky part o f the game, and remember there was no saving your game in those days, once you lost all your lives, you started from the beginning, Stevie casually walked across Snessie, putting all his weight on the aforementioned large on/off button, cutting the game short. Boy did I laugh. Mr. Snessie did… something else. As I said, not a match made in heaven.

Stevie left us 6 years ago now at the age of 13, the only other person he ever really took to was my husband. Little guy had good taste. I still miss him every single day.

Stevie

I have recently come to adore Glee, in a kind of giddy, bouncy, watch-every-episode-twice way. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why I love it so much when on the face of it, it is EXACTLY the type of show I would avoid. But then, when I first heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I thought that was EXACTLY the type of show I would avoid too, and, erm, well…. Joss Whedon is my master now.

One of the things that appeals to me is the variety of characters on the show, each of the main characters is distinctively different and not a one of them ‘fit in’. Even the school’s ‘it couple’ don’t really fit in, one of them is pregnant and the other likes singing and dancing around (what’s gonna be wrong with that?). I guess I relate to this because I too have never ‘fit in’ with the accepted norms of probably absolutely anything. I’m not even very good at being a geek.

I was born to a working class family with delusions of middle classdom. I was brought up on Shakespeare and Dickens, as a child we used to have family readings of Shakespeare plays, and go to the theatre. I spent most of my formative years with my head in a book. The TV was on only when there was something specific to watch, not as background noise, and it was never ever used as a babysitter. However, we could not afford to live in a middle class area, amongst people who would also bring their children up in this manner, so I was thrown amongst working class children.

Not that I’m inferring this is a bad thing, I hate ‘class’ and pretty much all forms of labelling fervently, I am just illustrating how I was different from the word ‘go’. It did somehow come as a huge surprise to my parents when I picked up a Yorkshire accent and associated with people they didn’t really want me to. Huh. You want me to make public school friends; send me to public school. Ironically, even if they had had the money, I doubt very much that they would have sent me to public school.

When I was 17 we did move to a middle class area, much to my disgust. I didn’t understand these people with their neatly manicured lawns who jumped in their flash cars just to go to the local shop. I did rather enjoy their shocked, kinda scared glances at my green mohican and torn clothes though.

One thing they did give me though, is a strong sense of independence and my own individuality, I never remember being bullied, or desperately wanting to fit in with the ‘it girls’ of the day. In fact, I remember doing the exact opposite and making damn sure that I didn’t. Yes, I’m stubborn and awkward too. My ex’s word for me was often obstreperous (there were other words, but we won’t go into that here), which I think kinda fits me perfectly.

I lived through the pastel shades of the ’80’s wearing black (**looks at self**, huh, apparently the ’90’s and 00’s too), I’m a woman who hates ‘girlie’ nights with a passion and is bored to tears by shopping; a geek, who refuses to watch Star Trek or Dr. Who and doesn’t read or write fan fic; a straight girl who refuses to not also find women attractive. I continue to not ‘fit in’ and be proud. Define me if you dare!

And here’s a little ditty to go with the blog http://blip.fm/~lot55

It has been an awful, dull, dreary, depressing day. From being rudely awoken by royal mail, to the snow starting to fall again, to the complications of trying to log in to Click and Buy, to going back to work, it all added up for to a very grumpy girl. And, if my Twitter feed was anything to go by, I wasn’t alone. It’s nearing the end of what has appeared to be a longer, colder and darker winter than usual and spring really is showing no signs of being sprung any time soon. I admit it’s getting to me, it’s worn me down, as it always does by this time of year, and I’m finding it really difficult to be cheerful, or even make this blog worth the reading. I have had more than enough of the cold, and the miserable and I’d just like to feel the warmth of the sun on my face again.

My beloved Twitter never fails me though, and there were two bright sparks to this horrid horrid day. And here they are: Whichever one suits your taste, please enjoy, and if you are one of the masses of depressed, I hope it cheers you up. If neither of these pictures has the desired effect; why are you even reading my blog? Get thee away from me, heathen!

http://gagaooohlala.tumblr.com/post/396638464/thosedreamyeyes-brandon-shirtless

http://twitpic.com/1403q1

I return from my week away from One a Day with a story dragged from my past that some of you may already know.

Some eight years or so ago, Carl and I spent a weekend in Wales for a music convention. We stayed at a small bed and breakfast near to the venue where some friends and other attendees were staying. It wasn’t the classiest of places and we struggled a little with the lock on the bedroom door.

Returning home a little the worse for drink on our first night there, we slammed the door shut and headed for bed. I awoke a little before dawn to find that Carl had seemingly awoken in the night and returned to bed on the wrong side. Except that he was also still on his usual side. I turned my head again to ensure I wasn’t dreaming, and sure enough I was lying sandwiched between two men, the night had clearly gone far better than I had remembered.

Gently nudging the Carl on the correct side of the bed I whispered, ‘There’s someone in the bed. Carl, there’s someone in the bed.’ He grunted, turned over and mumbled, ‘go back to sleep woman, you’re dreaming’. undeterred I tried again, ‘no, there’s someone in the bed, wake up.’ He sat up and looked across me sleepily, opened his eyes a little wider and announced ‘There’s someone in the bed!’ Yes dear.

After being shaken awake, the strange man sat up, looked at us confused and said in a foreign accent ‘This is not my bed’. We agreed. Swinging his legs out of bed, he noticed my jeans on the floor beside it and proceeded to try to pull them on, they reached about halfway up his legs before becoming stuck. He looked down at them quizzically before proclaiming ‘This is not my jeans’. Again, we agreed. Spotting Carl’s jeans hanging over a chair at the other side of the room, he made a hopeful dart for them.

Now, finding a man in bed with your girlfriend is one thing, but there’s a line you don’t cross, and apparently for Carl this is wearing his trousers. He loudly demanded the man back away from the denim and leave the room. Which he promptly did, muttering something about it not being his room on the way out. We fell back on the bad laughing and promptly went back to sleep.

The next morning at breakfast the talk of the dining room was of a prowler in the night trying door handles. Someone asked if anyone had tried our door handle. “Tried the door handle?” We replied, “he tried our bed!”.

The next night on our way home, we passed the hotel lounge and Carl noticed our nightly visitor sitting in there among friends. We decided we should go and introduce ourselves more formally, especially as he probably hadn’t told his friends of his little night time excursion. We actually spent a very pleasant evening in the company of him and his brother, who we learned were Norwegian and had come over for the same convention as us.

The story of the case of mistaken room, was thus:

The room our bed pal was staying in was not en suite, waking in the night and needing the facilities he had left his room and found his way to the communal bathrooms, but, having consumed a large amount of vodka the night before, he got himself a little turned around. In an effort to discover his own room he had simply tried every door he came across until he found one that opened and climbed into bed oblivious to the sleeping couple that presumably hadn’t been in his own room.

Suffice to say, whenever we stay in a hotel now, we always ensure we lock the door in case of roaming Norwegians.

This blog is not going to be a witty anecdote, or an amusing tale of work-related antics, and it’s probably not going to even be written very well. I make no apologies.

Today I am angry and I am going to rant, so please feel free to leave now.

Today I have had to take what should have been a perfectly healthy young cat to the vets to be put to sleep, because whoever thought fit to allow the cat to be brought into this world could not be bothered to take proper care of it.

This fellow, and his rather large brother, have been making use of our home for food and shelter for the last month or so, but Sunday morning was the first time he did not scarper on our discovery of him in the house. Instead he allowed me to approach and pet him, and then settled himself down to sleep on our bed settee. This was when I noticed how ill he had become since we first saw his backend disappearing out the cat flap some weeks ago.

The next morning he was gone, but he came back Sunday evening for a snooze, again he let me approach and I sat with him for some time listening to his laboured breath. I decided if he was still with us in the morning I would take him to the vets. He wasn’t, and we didn’t see him again until last night when his nose poked through the cat flap as we got home from our night out.

This morning I got up early and found him still in the house. I locked the catflap and made a phone call to the vets. On examining him the vet gave a poor prognosis, it was highly likely that he was in the later stages of either feline leukemia or feline aids, as well as being riddled with fleas and all the diseases they carry. They could do tests, but she didn’t hold out much hope, the kindest thing to do would be to put him to sleep. The likelihood is, whatever he has, the other cat is infected with too.

I am seething with anger at whoever let these cats get into this state. They clearly have not been strays all their lives, they are clearly getting food somewhere other than here (the other cat only just fits through the cat flap), why am I the only person who is willing to take some responsibility for them? Not only have I spent £70 getting this cat looked at and put to sleep (I don’t begrudge the money, it’s the fact I had to do it), I am now going to be spending my day de-fleaing the house, and spending more on a mirco-chip activating cat flap (my Wills will not keep a collar on) so the other cat can no longer gain entry and possibly infect my two.

I take care of my two cats, I ensure they are spayed, micro-chipped, flead, wormed, vaccinated and insured, not just because I want them to live long and healthy lives, but so that they don’t have unwanted kittens or endanger any other cat they come across. The PDSA is there for those who cannot afford to pay for all this themselves. There is absolutely no reason why any animal should be left to get in a state such as this. I’m not really sure why I am so surprised, people are unable to take responsibility for their own children, so why should I expect them to take care of a pet? I don’t know, but I do, and I’m blumming angry. So there.

Rant over. Cleaning commences.

Crawling into bed for an afternoon snooze I pulled the duvet around me and almost immediately felt a familiar depression in the covers and heard a small chirrup. This was soon followed by a wet nose and a soft, eager purring sound coming from the ball of fur that was snooping around for a way to get under the covers. I dutifully lifted the covers and she nuzzled her way in, and then out and then in, and then out and then in. Opting for in, she began her turning circles, all the while with the same rapid, impatient purr, until she finally settled in the crook of my arm, stretching her back against my inner arm, resting her head against my shoulder and reaching her upper paw across my chest almost as a human would snuggle up to their partner. As her small body relaxed, her purring became less urgent and more contented as we both drifted off to sleep, happy in each other’s company.

When I woke, she was gone, leaving a cold empty spot on the bed, out living her other life, the one where I don’t exist and there are lots of exciting smells and important stalking and chasing of things to be done. But next time I go near the food bowl or hit the sack, she’ll come bounding up the garden with that gorgeous welcome chirrup and impatient purr.

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