Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A new era of bully

Very rarely will you find me ranting in writing.

My thoughts, my opinions, are fleeting. I am a reasonably intelligent, sentient being whose mind is often changed with the influx of new information, new discoveries, even through being corrected.

Because of that, I don't gush negativity (in ways other than verbally) very often as there's a permanency in writing things down that doesn't mesh with my own view of the knowledge and opinions I hold.

Now, however, I feel compelled to *write* somethings I've never even *said*, I feel so very strongly about the subject matter.

Here goes!


Right, disabilities aside ('cause that's a whole other can of worms) Kanye West's actions of late are "not OK" to quote a set up from the TV show The Last Leg.

I, personally, don't see me attending a Kanye show (and couldn't even before this, to be honest) but if I were at *any* show and the featured artist(s) demanded everyone stand, I may or may not join in depending on my mood.


Would I then be singled out, embarrassed, *bullied* because I simply didn't *want* to stand?

What if, though not "disabled", my arthritis is acting up?

What if, though not "disabled", I have an inner-ear or blood pressure issue that makes it difficult to stand?

What if, though not "disabled", I'm a paediatric oncology nurse who just finished a twelve hour shift where three patients passed away?

What if, though not "disabled", I'm heavily pregnant, sprained my ankle, have a really bad case of flatulence and would really rather just not move. At all. For the time being.

Are these things not OK?

Of course, I understand the atmosphere of a large arena concert can promote camaraderie, a feeling of "belonging", even mild to moderate euphoria.

I've been there. I've experienced it.

And when asked to stand, to this day, I can't think of a time when I haven't.


But I never wondered what would happen if I just didn't stand.

And now I might have to?

I could attend an event and wonder during the evening if my having:

  • purchased a ticket
  • made the journey
  • stood outside in the queue
  • supported the concessions (and probably merchandising, too)
  • and am present at the event
... is going to be enough for the performer(s)...

Or, if their egos will be so large that I'll be called upon to go above and beyond to placate someone whose worth I've already validated, in a sense, with my actions listed above.

Will I have to wonder if the artist(s) will be so self-involved that thousands of screaming fans isn't enough? Thousands of screaming fans on their feet isn't enough?

What's next? Berating and bullying the general public for not having purchased a ticket in the first place??

Thursday, 11 September 2014

All in a day's work...

Here's a speedy round-up of my day yesterday... It didn't seem like so much until I looked through all the photos!

This little devil cost about the price of a small coffee at your large, international coffee house.

The absence of which, however, cost £230 in damage that had to be repaired because one of the rear brakes on Wookie's car ("Scooby") locked up, causing the discs and pads to require replacement.

We recently helped Wookie's Grandpa with his audio visual woes when the DVD portion of their expensive amplifier system decided to die. We installed their recording device, got them a new DVD player and desperately tried to understand the complicated (and unnecessary) way the system was wired when it was installed.

And, since Grandpa is 92 years old, I set about drafting explicit instructions on how to perform the variety of tasks that is required of the new system. The system that includes four different remotes. The system that, depending on which stage of the operation you are trying to perform, requires the remote in question to be pointed at one of two very different places in the room.

And then I laminated them, because, well... I wanted a laminator. It was on my wishlist. And besides, they'll last longer this way, no?

This was the drive over there last night (to miss rush-hour traffic - in the van because the car is broken) for laminate delivery and discover/rectify why the stupid recording device kept switching itself off (and the signal to the televisions in both the living room, where the box is, and the bedroom, which makes no sense at all. Hence my earlier comment about the wiring system being unnecessary).

Shout out to PC World/Dixons/Currys/Whatever they're called these days, though. 

You're idiots.

I tried to help Grandpa over the phone when this issue arose the other night (very shortly after we'd left from setting everything up, thankyouverymuch) but the owner's manual for this specific product isn't. available. online.

And the next day when I emailed the company (because, well, there are no phone numbers to use if you need assistance. Heavenforbid!), they couldn't be bothered to respond. YAY. (/sarcasm)

Decaff coffee... I have a love/hate relationship with this substance that started when I gave up all caffeine. I feel like I shouldn't want it, but I do and then when I make it, most of the time I don't drink it all.

Yesterday, however, I added some of this little beauty's bounty and ... wow ... Yum!

(I still didn't drink all of it, though. Sigh.)

And I'm almost through organising and listing all of the books (about 50 in total) that I will send to Amazon for them to sell.

This is quite a bittersweet process, I must confess. I love the idea of starting over (hell, how many times have I done it already??) but I don't like the idea of never having used most of these things.

I don't like the idea that in these boxes are traces of a once promising future in medical science. A dream that, while wonderful, was with me all too briefly.

Don't get me wrong, I adore my life as it stands. I just can't help lament the loss of something that never was but that could have been. Something that tried to be.

My To Do list:

Which isn't my entire To Do List. It's just the things that I need to do before I work on any of the others.

There's a reason I haven't allowed myself to actually draft my *entire* To Do List. *shudder*

Please allow me to suggest you:

Simmer coconut milk, medium curry powder, garlic granules, herb salt (I use "Herbamare" UK link / US link) in a pan...

Add chopped spinach and protein of choice (to date I've used pork, chicken and tofu - all delicious) and viola! You're on your way to sharing my crown as "Undisputed Queen/King of Flavour".

Cooking meats in the coconut milk not only reduces the overall fat content of the finished dish, it makes the meat really tender. I advise cooking the tofu separately, however, and adding it just before serving the dish as otherwise, it will just become mush.

Simmer to reduce (I used two tins of coconut milk and reduced by more than half) and serve with rice or noodles. What I serve it with depends on my mood, I've even served this with fried gnocchi.

The leftovers will be devoured at lunchtime today by a more-than-happy-to-oblige Wookie (who gave me a high-five when he tasted the dish last night).

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A quick catch-up...

1. I've joined Twitter!

No, seriously. I have.

You can find my ramblings here.

I've even gone so far as to follow BBC News (BBC News Twitter account) in an effort to become more informed. As you likely know, I don't watch the news or read newspapers or look at news websites.

They're too depressing. As a side effect, I am often ill-informed of current events.

Now, I can see little snippets of headlines and decide what I want to learn more about (or not) and it flows with my feed as does everything else. If I miss it, I miss it.

2. I made cinnamon rolls!

No, seriously. I did.

3. I've written more of my book!

No, seriously. I have. (Aren't you getting tired of questioning everything I say?!)

I currently have 5979 words typed and a fair bit more than that written, waiting to be typed up.

4. I've eaten *delicious* vegan pancakes!

Wookie made them for me. His first foray into "American Style" (fluffy) pancakes and they were *perfect*.

Unfortunately for him, he has created a very hungry and eager Pancake Monster that will require regular feeding in order to maintain some semblance of peace in this house!

Poor fellow.

5. I became angry at the English language!

(Seriously. This is a word?!)

6. I started a starter!

A *sourdough* starter to be more precise. Using this method here.

So far, it's looking quite promising. (At least I *think* it is... My little colony isn't yet self-aware. Unless they are and are so far advanced that they've even discovered how to hide the fact from the humans in the house...)

What have *you* been up to?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge - The Merciful Chasm

1500 words

Flash Fiction Challenge

"The Merciful Chasm" began from what you see above but I was too tight to the deadline and decided to give it a miss in order to avoid the pressure of writing to a deadline.

I've never written to a deadline before.

I had a go, however, (better late than never, right?!) and this is what an hour left me with... What do you think?

The Merciful Chasm

She grew up. She had to have. She was bigger, larger now than she was before, her legs longer, her hips wider.

But when did it happen, she often wondered, for she was certain it hadn't happened while she was looking, while she was awake.

She didn’t sleep much so that confused her even more.

She woke each morning, in her strange bed, in her strange room and checked her body. She counted each finger and each toe, flexing them each in turn. The same pattern every morning, even before she opened her eyes.

She felt blessed she had all of her digits and that they all worked and though the feeling was overwhelming, she had no idea of the source of the emotion.

After her ritual counting, she rose, took a sip of cool water from the pitcher beside her strange bed, undressed and walked across the sparsely furnished room to the large mirror on the opposite wall.

Here she watched her reflection for a moment, struggling to remember how she’d come to be here, struggled to remember what her story was.

She whispered to herself “Your name is Kay. You are 37 years old.”

She then stretched, turned and manipulated her body into every shape she could imagine. It had been a few weeks since she’d discovered any new ones so, lately, this had become as ritual as her counting.

Once she was satisfied that everything moved the way it was supposed to and felt as it should, she would examine the scar that traversed her midsection. The scar started beside her right breast, under her arm and ended over the small crest of her left hipbone. It was almost exactly three times the length of her hand, from the base of her palm to the tip of her middle finger. She had no official measuring device available in the room but felt that this was sufficient for her mental checklist.

The scar, now a delicate pink and significantly less puffy than she’d ever remembered it being, tingled when she stroked down its length. She felt an odd aching whenever she did this but couldn’t pinpoint a specific location on her body that suffered. She would closer her eyes and stroke the scar, her mind sensing the ache more than her body.

Sometimes stroking the scar would make her cry.

Her days were filled with routine and ritual. Wake. Count. Undress. Stretch. Stroke. Shower. Dress. Wait. Eat. Chat…

Breakfast was never anything exciting. It arrived with no conversation (but oh, how she’d tried to engage!) and the delivery person would take away her dirty clothes after setting the tray of food onto the table in the centre of the room.

Today she had the choice of two boiled eggs with some brown toast or some unnamed sweet oats the temperature of a tepid bath. She didn’t enjoy this part of her routine but had come to understand that only once she’d finished eating (“And politely, thank you!”) would she be allowed her first companionship of the day.

She finished the eggs and toast, having replaced the lid on the oats as quickly as she’d lifted it to check its contents, and wiped the corners of her mouth with the rough paper napkin that arrived with the tray. She remained seated at her small table, her hands folded in her lap.

On schedule (45 seconds after she’d placed her hands in her lap) the door to the room opened again and the same person entered, took the tray from the table and left with it but left the door open behind them.

Her hands fidgeted slightly, a little restless in her lap, as she waited, her eyes fixed on the open doorway. She reminded herself not to move, to remain as still as possible lest the door be closed once more with her visitor on the outside of the room rather than within.

Mercifully, she waited less and less for her guest each day though there were still some occasions when the door would be closed immediately after her tray was taken or she’d have to wait a long time, only for the door to be closed anyway.

She hated those days but wasn’t sure why.

Today, however, the wait wasn’t long and the door was closed only after her guest had entered the room. They looked at each other and a small, timid smile played at both of their mouths, the child approximately the age Kay last remembered being.

She stood slowly and the child walked to her side where they held hands. Elle looked down at the child, “Good morning, Elle.”

Elle looked up and whispered back, the child always whispered, “Good morning, Kay. Shall we go outside?”

The child tried to smile but Kay knew it was an act. She could see something wasn’t quite right behind Elle’s deep brown eyes but she could never put her finger on it.

The two made their way outside onto the little lawn outside Kay’s room. Also sparsely furnished and surrounded on all sides by impossibly-high fences lined with shrubs, they were exiled from the outside world. It seemed to be the way Elle preferred it, though Kay wondered why she missed the “real” outside when she had no idea what it could be. She had no memory of what could be “out there” but felt certain she had known once.

Sometimes, like today, her legs ached when she thought about “out there”, almost as if they remembered and desired nothing more than to run, as fast as they could in whatever direction, it didn’t matter.
Elle seemed to be able to sense those days and always behaved differently on those days. This behaviour was the only unpredictable part of Kay’s days.

“Will you brush my hair, please, Kay?”

Kay looked down at Elle and forced herself to focus on the child. She stared into her brown eyes and smiled softly, replying “Of course, Elle. Will you please go get my brush?”

Kay watched as Elle walked back inside, knowing that although she hadn’t told Elle where to find the brush, the child would know.

She shivered at the thought and looked to the sky. She closed her eyes and allowed the sun to warm her and her mind to wander… though it never seemed to wander far.

Elle came back and took Kay’s hand, leading her to the lounge chairs to the left of the space. Once they were seated and Kay began brushing, Elle began asking questions.

Kay was used to these questions. Elle didn’t ask them often, in any discernible pattern or even worded the same way each time, but the questions themselves were always the same.

Once more Kay closed her eyes, using both hands to brush Elle’s hair, as she tried to search her mind for the answers.

First was the question of her name. “My name is Kay.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because Doctor told me so,” Kay always replied.

“How old are you?”

“I am 37 years old.”

“How did you get the scar on your stomach?”

“I don’t remember,” Not entirely the truth, Kay saw flashes behind her closed eyes and her face changed as though she was hurting. She saw the flash of a large blade in her periphery and her brain screamed at an imagined pain in her stomach.

She heard a voice inside her head telling her to be still, that it would be over soon, that she had to be awake during the procedure. The voice seemed familiar but Kay didn’t know why. She squeezed her eyes shut tighter and tried to focus on the images and sounds.

There was an audible gasp in the room of Kay’s mind as a baby suddenly appeared, slimy and new.
Aren’t new babies supposed to cry?” Kay thought to herself.

“Are you sure you can’t remember, Kay? Not even a tiny little bit?” Elle whispered.

Kay squeezed her eyes tighter still and forced herself to continue brushing the child’s hair as she searched her mind. “Move quickly! The child needs to be tested at once!” That oddly familiar voice again and Kay shivered so violently she dropped the hairbrush, her skin erupting in chill bumps.

Elle stood, holding the dropped brush in her hand. She whispered “OK, I think we’re done for today.”

They held hands as Kay stood and they walked together through the room and to the door. Elle turned in the doorway and looked up at Kay’s face, an unfamiliar look on her face and she tugged Kay’s hand, motioning her downward.

Kay squatted before the child, again confused by her own reaction to the deep brown eyes before her.

Elle leaned in, placing her hands on Kay’s shoulders. Not breaking eye contact with Kay, she whispered into her ear, “If I were you, I wouldn’t remember. Pray you don’t.”

Elle stepped back, gave a little wave and skipped off down the hallway, humming to herself.