Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to Successfully Waste Your Summer Holidays

Waiting for summer after a stressful, tortuous year of A2 education was just as painful as sitting my exams. I longed and longed for relaxation - time to enjoy reading books for my own pleasure, creative writing and watching films without the added guilt of needing to revise. 

It is a case of setting up high standards, and high expectations for myself, adding extra unhelpful anxiety to make the most of my time, we all do it? Right?

I expected my summer to be fun filled, constantly happy and surrounded by friends.

Don't get me wrong I am having a wonderful summer, it is relaxing and calm but the anxiety pounding in my head is telling me I am wasting my time, I'm not making the most of three months off.  

Three months is an excessive amount of time to entertain yourself. There's only so much Netflix you can binge before my thoughts wonder into the deep recesses of my mind. The little segment that I've been trying to push to the back of my mind that leaves me feeling exhausted, unsociable and unmotivated. it creeps back on me unexpectedly.

There's ways of solving my summer issues. Planning ahead means I have to do things, creating a weekly activity diary to keep me occupied, because in my mind once an activity or a errand is in my diary  I have to do it - it is set in stone.

Make time to meet my friends for coffee and book shop exploring, taking 30 minutes to take a walk through the local park breathing in trees, sunshine and flowers, baking the chocolate cake you saved to your Pinterest board months ago and finishing the TV shows you stupidly started halfway through exam season.

Now, it's results day in 23 days. I am trying not to think about it.

Trying being the most important word here.

Keeping myself busy and distracted is the only way I can stop thinking about grades. I know I'm going to pass but WHAT IF.

To make the most of the seven or eight weeks or so I have left of summer before moving to Bath and beginning university, I'm going to make a to-do list, or rather a short bucket list.

  1. Catch up on Game of Thrones - yes, don't roll your eyes at me or yell, I'm only halfway through season 5 :(
  2. Use my vegan baking Pinterest board!
  3. Run more - running is my love, it clears my mind and relaxes me. Feet pounding on the pavement. Concentration fully on my breathing. 
  4. Stop buying books (hahaha next joke) until my current To-Be Read pile is completed.
  5. Clear out my room in preparation for what I actually need to take to university with me... Going to have to leave some of my precious babies at home (books, sigh)
  6. Spend valuable time with my siblings because, DAMN I am going to miss these annoying slices of cake. 
  7. Let my mum read the beginnings of my novel... Scary stuff.
  8. Learn how to successfully make a bed. Useful university skills.
  9. New wardrobe. With weight change and perhaps a style change, I feel I need an upgrade to feel f9.
  10. Write. Write. Write. Nothing ELSE matters.
What are your plans for summer?? 

Monday, 18 July 2016

How to Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran | Book Review

Never have I felt such a surge of emotions towards a book since reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

How to Build a Girl is phenomenal, influential and real. Real for every girl who has experienced being a teenager, real for every young girl approaching their teenage years, although the book is explicit for a child, yet it is the most truthful book about being a girl. The taboos of being a girl are gone. You can talk about sex, periods and masturbation as much as you want, please do, take advice from this fantastic piece of fiction and TALK about everything that means being a girl. 

Written by the utterly superb Caitlin Moral, her second novel and one of a series of connecting novels as you witness the protagonist Johanna Morrigan go through childhood all the way through to adulthood. Moran is an established author, journalist and broadcaster. She is an out-spoken, confident and hilarious figure for girls and women in the 21st century. She is an inspiring voice in the feminist community. She has no limits. She writes the real, gritty stuff.

How to Build a Girl documents a young girl under transformation, to create herself the way she desires to be, stemming from years of bullying at school Johanna Morrigan transforms into the alter ego Dolly Wilde.

Following her dreams of being a music journalist, she extends up her musical knowledge and lands herself a job in London enabling her to attend gigs of famous bands and write about them.


Why you should read this book? It is stomach achingly funny, quirky and a truthful experience of how it is to be a teenage girl. Moran normalises being female, this book (if you're a girl) will make you feel normal and like you belong. It will make you believe you can achieve absolutely anything. Nothing is impossible, even in a world dominated by males, you can write, you can run the world, you can be an athlete. Be whatever the hell you want to be. Regardless of gender.

Favourite quote? (Sorry for the expletives but it's okay because it's fiction, and from the Queen that is Caitlin Moran)

"If you want to be a fucking writer - then be a fucking writer. Just fucking write."

Have you read this book, or anything else by Caitlin???

Sunday, 10 July 2016

What I've Been Reading This Week

Similarly to most bookworms my To-Be Read pile doesn't stop growing, at this rate I might need another trip to IKEA for another bookcase, oh and that's an excuse to satisfy my stomach with their meatballs. And to pretend I am Summer and Tom having a trip for cutlery or a sofa, to find a Chinese family in my kitchen. 

Over the course of the past week I have disconnected myself from reality and delved into three books and finished all three. It is a fabulous feeling to have no responsibilities to rely on, to lay in bed reading eating avocado bagels and savouring the soft quiet of my house, as my parents work during the day for long hours and my siblings are still at secondary school. 

So my days flow like this, from waking up and eating chocolate, banana porridge to laid back reading to writing (Remember that best selling novel I'm working on???) to reading again, to making myself something worthy of goodness for dinner - read falafels, rice and beans, before settling back into bed, bathed, fresh bed sheets with a book. 

Education over the past few years has prevented me from appreciating reading as much as I used to, unless it was a classic novel, play or a collection of poetry required for me to study A-Level English Literature, I sadly, barely read anything, a couple of chapters here and there on my bus journey to college. Now, it's,beautiful, relaxing and guilt free, so here is a little, brief review of the three books I've lost myself in this week, no spoilers, just a short summary and what I thought!

The Versions of Us by Laura Barrett. 

Recommended to me a few months ago by my creative writing teacher. The Versions of Us, perhaps you could say it's a love story, or several versions of the protagonist Eva's romance throughout her life. The Versions of Us plays on fate, how if one event in our lives had not happened then where would we be? You can follow Eva through 30 years of her life, from being at university and meeting a few suitable partners to three different versions of how those meetings could have turned out. The versions are powerful, all very different from each other but also intertwining each potential partner.

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.

Most anticipated read of this year so far. A book I've heard EVERYONE talking about. It is chilling, shocking and absolutely fantastic, with all it's thrilling twists, especially the final one which left me wanting to throw the book under a train. A powerful plot told in multi perspectives, the protagonist Rachel experiences alcohol related blackouts, and after one situation where she can't recall anything, unfortunately a night where something utterly tragic and frightening happens, showing the negative side to one unexpected character, Rachel tries to piece together that mysterious night. Full of mind-blowing revelations, violence, manipulation, alcoholism and romance. Possibly everything you could want in a thriller. I read this in under 24 hours, I just couldn't put it down, and kinda wanted to try gin and tonic...

Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson.

Another book I wanted to throw under a train after it's unbelievable plot twist, to be honest - I did throw the book across my room. (I apologised, I'm not normally a bad mum) but this book had me in complete shock and fully gripped all the way through. The protagonist Christine suffered an accident in which she lost her memory, she is unable to form new memories and every day she wakes up forgetting everything that happened the previous day. A heartbreaking and distressing story. Christine begins keeping a journal to help assemble her past, however the journal reveals astounding truths about the man she is supposedly married to, the man she's being lead to believe she's in love with. Expertly written with impressive medical knowledge, closed the book feeling I knew a little more about the complexity that is our brain.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Here's to another week of reading...

Monday, 4 July 2016

What If

What if's fill my head on a regular basis - your decisions lead you to where you are now and if one event had not happened I might not be the same person I am today. Like the butterfly effect, all the small causes in our lives can cause large effects, directing us towards certain paths of life.

There is a reason for my questioning of fate today. What if I hadn't realised I was dreadfully ill? What if my parents hadn't made the decision to have me admitted to hospital at the precise moment they did? Quite frankly, and sadly, I would be dead.

Today, the 4th of July, ironically America's Independence Day the day I lost my own independence as a fully functioning human being. RIP my once perfectly functioning pancreas.  

Three years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This year, I am feeling emotional about it. The last few years it hasn't bothered me, but something about this year, perhaps the fact I've been struggling to manage and control my blood sugars has got me upset. 

If I don't write about it I will probably spend the remainder of the day in bed feeling sorry for myself.

It is a day of bad memories, although the experience now is a little hazy in my mind. Leading up to my hospital admittance I was drinking litres of water - waking up in the middle of the night with the driest mouth you could possibly imagine and drinking excessive amounts of water making me urinate frequently and needing more water. It was a vicious and scary cycle, an exhausting one too. My body was weak, the previous week spent in bed, unable to move, unable to eat minus several pieces of toast which hurt to swallow. My body was fighting against me, eating away first at the fat on my body and then the muscle, by the time I was in hospital I had lost three stone in weight and was dangerously underweight.

What happened next was a blur, in the back of the car surrounded by pillows on the way to the hospital, not entirely sure what was happening or what was going to happen to me. All I can remember is waiting surrounded by the hospital's piercing bright lights, needles, medical machines beeping around me and the worry on my mum's face.

To be diagnosed with an illness I had never heard of before, or never paid any attention to because it's one of those things you never expect to happen to you is difficult. It is harder than difficult to deal with everyday life with type one diabetes. It is painful, confusing, unpredictable and gruelling. 

It is every negative word in the English language.

There is no way to sugar coat (accidental diabetic pun) this illness, I wanted to initially weigh out the pros and cons - unfortunately, there's more cons than pros. In attempt to be positive, I am alive. I was seconds away from dying but I am alive. I eat healthier, most of the time but let's excuse today because my sister made me a vegan chocolate and raspberry cake to celebrate and dear lord, it is delicious.  I fully intend to eat the entire cake to myself (and go to the gym tomorrow) and hope diabetes will forgive me. 

Diabetes is injections whenever I eat. It involves pricking my finger and testing my blood before I eat, anxiously waiting for a good number, then counting the carbohydrate content of my meal before adjusting my insulin ratio to carbohydrate ratio. Then it's considering all the factors that can affect my blood sugar.
  • Will I be exercising anytime soon? What kind of exercise?
  • Am I stressed or upset?
  • Am I unwell?
  • Am I on my period?
  • Is the weather hot or cold?
  • Am I eating more or less carbohydrates than normal?
  • Will I be drinking alcohol?
  • Have I slept well?
Not only is there that, hot baths make my sugars drop and likewise to Sylvia Plath there isn't much a bath cannot cure. Brushing my teeth lowers my sugars - I don't know how or why but it does. There's the persistent voice in the back of my head making me feel bad for a high sugar or an uncontrollable day. Waking up every day feeling like you don't want to do this for the rest of your life but still getting out of bed and giving yourself insulin because it is literally do or die. 

There's being scared of sleeping in case I don't wake up in the morning because my sugars have dropped severely. Waking up at 3am high, thirsty and able to feel the pain in your kidneys. Waking up again 3am the next night low, trying to find your way, stumbling with blurry vision looking for a pack of biscuits to scoff or just something with goddamn sugar in. The low blood sugar aftermath requiring me to have an nap and feeling hungover when I wake up again. Not getting up in the morning because of my night of highs. Making sure I have my blood sugar monitor with me 24/7 and making sure I have enough medication, equipment and supplies. Being in charge of putting in my prescription requests on time.  There's needles, blood and tears. Bruises from injection sites. Feeling like a burden when I go out because I need to be sure I can access food and drink. Having food in my bag all the time. Leaving your classroom midway through a lesson because you're sugars have dropped and you're acting weird and drunk at 11 in the morning and you're embarrassed. Injecting in a public place and feeling all eyes on you. Being irritable and angry when I am high. Resembling a zombie when I'm low.  

This is a full time job, without the pleasures of monthly pay, yet it is manageable most of the time and something I'm still learning to accept I have 3 years on.