White Wedding by Milly Johnson

The lovely people at Simon and Schuster surprised me with a copy of White Wedding by Milly Johnson to read and review. Being that they send me books semi regularly it wasn’t that much of a surprise but I didn’t know it was coming and I alway love hearing unexpected books land through the letterbox.

Here’s what it’s about:

It’s the day they’ve always dreamed about. But will it turn out to be a nightmare …? Bel is in the midst of planning her perfect wedding when disaster strikes and everything she thought she knew is turned on its head. Can she hold it all together and, with the help of her friends, and a mysterious man she meets unexpectedly, turn disaster into triumph? Bel’s friend, ice-cream parlour owner Violet, is engaged to Glyn, who is besotted by her although Violet fell out of love with him long ago. But however trapped she feels in the relationship, she can’t quite say the words, ‘I don’t want to marry you anymore.’ Then, just when she’s about to give up and resign herself to married life, she finds love in the most surprising of places. Will duty rule her heart or will she allow herself to be swept off her feet? Max was planning a quick registry office do with her fiance Stuart until she sees a TV programme about traveller brides and becomes determined to have the most extravagantly glitzy wedding ever. But in all the excitement has she lost sight of what’s really important? Does she want the wedding more than she wants the groom? And as all three friends find the dress of their dreams at the White Wedding bridal shop, its owner, the lovely Freya, guarantees that her gowns will bring them happiness – though maybe not quite in the way they expected

I have to say I think Milly Johnson is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.  It’s only the second of hers I’ve read (I think) but they draw me in, make me laugh, feel good and are plain and simply fun!   It’s chick lit but whereas some chicklit doesn’t have much of a plot this manages to be completely ridiculous in places (in a very good way) but also tackle slightly serious issues and do so well.

Mental health issues are touched on with one character and I thought the picture painted was very true to life for the most part. The effect it had on the character and also those around them is portrayed with what struck me as realism as well is the different ways people reacted to it – some with derision, others with support laced with hidden frustration and others with pity and support.  I wasn’t convinced by how that arc ended (I’m sure it could happen but whether it would is another thing) but it made for a brilliant twist in the plot.

Plus. Freya has a real Fairy Godmother feel to her at certain ponts (I hope that isn’t too much of a spoiler) which I really loved.

I’m hoping to find a spare little while when I go into Oxford later this week. If I do there will, of course, be a visit to Waterstones on the cards.  Milly Johnson’s books will definitely be some of what I check out in that case.

Time and Change

“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.” ~ Marcel Proust.

I was looking for quotes and I came across this.  It’s very apt particularly as I seem in be in a period of ongoing change in my life at the moment.

I think some of the changes may have the potential to be very good for me once they’re finished with.  But not all of them were my choice or are under my control.  And a couple of them are pretty scary.  I had a pretty big panicked cry over one the other day. Not fun.

I know that once this is sorted out I’ll be OK.  In some shape or form.  But that might not be one I’d like or have chosen.  And that’s pretty huge.  I’ll be OK.  That’s what matters.  I’ll be fine.

The journey will probably suck but in the end all will be well.

I was thinking though that sometimes I can’t understand who I am any more.  I don’t see the girl I used to be under who I seem to be right now.  I don’t see me.  Emma is lost, perhaps.

Then I read this quote and I realised that I know who I am right now, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, what I want from life etc.  But my mental view of who I am, the girl I picture when I think of myself and how things used to be?  That needs to catch up a little after all the changes I’ve had.

I’ll be playing catch up for a long time perhaps.  And maybe I never will see where I am in the moment when I picture who I am and set expectations for myself.  But I suspect that’s normal and the same for everyone else CP or no.   Life isn’t static, after all.

But CP sure as hell complicates things.

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

One of the things I really like about doing book reviews is when I fall in love with a review book that there’s very little chance I’d have picked up for myself.  Simon and Schuster sent me a copy of Amped by Daniel H Wilson and that definitely falls into that category.

Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.
Some people are implanted with upgrades that make them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities – and rights – of ‘amplified’ humans.
On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-supressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as ‘amps’ and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumoured, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world – or destroy it.

This is such a powerful book.  It’s one of the best I’ve read this year.  In fact I think I’ve only gotten so involved and hooked into one or maybe two books more than this one.  In terms of it’s feel it reminds me of I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.  I was going to say not so much in terms of its plot but actually thinking of that as I write this there are a few parallels.

I’m not sure that this is a quick read.  I read it very quickly – in two sittings – but that might just be because it sucked me in and whilst I kept thinking “I’ll put it down after this chapter…” I never did.

I loved the depth of the characters and their interactions.  At the beginning of the book I thought this character was such and such and that character was X and so on and by the end of it they were all grown and changed and in a lot of cases completely different to the person I’d assumed them to be to start with.

There are a lot of parallels between this book and disability.  Particularly the current situation with disability services and benefits being massacred cut here in the UK.  And some of those parallels are really quite chilling.  I thought Daniel Wilson did a very good job of showing what it can be like to be “different” in some way and the negative reactions people can have to that and I liked that the path the characters took wasn’t easy with the difficulties glossed over but was gritty and painful and above all realistic.

I liked this book so much I’ve just downloaded another one by the same author – Robocalypse.  I’m looking forward to reading that soon.

You Know You’ve Got CP When…

…you go to a wedding and the story that you just have to blog isn’t about how gorgeous the bride looked (very) or how much you liked her dress (a lot) or how cool the homemade bunting the decorated the hall with was (so cool).  It’s about the disabled loo.

Because it screamed “you know you’ve got CP when…” and cracked you up.

My sister and I went to a wedding party on Saturday night.  It was a friend of ours who got married and I’d not seen her for over a year during which time she’s had a baby.  So it was lovely to see her and meet her daughter (and her new husband although I didn’t get to speak to him).  I didn’t really know anyone apart from my sister and the bride – the other two or three people I knew there I’d only met briefly before.  But I had a great time, laughed lots and really enjoyed myself.

We danced to some really cheesy old school songs and taught two random men (never figured out who they were) to do the macarena.

My sister, me and one of her friends came to the conclusion that the top I wore is clearly part of some giants tankini.  Because I asked them what it was made of.  I’ve got no idea. But the material feels like that of a swim suit.  It is a nice top and that makes it sound weird but it just does feel like that.  Clearly a tankini top for a giant is the only explanation.

I think somebody there might have been one of my support types at school when I was a very young child.  I looked at her a couple of times and a particular name kept coming to mind but I didn’t have the nerve to go over and ask if she was who I thought she was. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I would like to be more confident again though.

I’d not been to that venue before and tried to find out before we went about disabled access etc.  One person told me they didn’t know.  Another said I’d be able to get in there but she didn’t think they had a disabled loo.  And a third who is someone who would know what I need and I trust (but who I hadn’t anticipated would know the venue or I’d have asked first) said it did.  So I was a bit concerned about what if I needed a wee but we made a plan that I’d go and not stay long if it came down to it. The bride knew that might happen and I watched what I drank before so I wouldn’t immediately arrive then be bursting for what might be a non existant disabled loo.

Arriving and seeing there was one and a proper one at that was good because it meant I could leave when I wanted to (or my sister as she was driving, whichever came first) and not when my very finnicky bladder decided I needed too.

So, after a while I thought it best to use the facilities.  And we discovered the light in there didn’t work. The wedding was in a village where there aren’t any street lights. So it was dark.

Not pitch black, but very dark nonetheless.

A random lady walked up and asked what the problem was: “couldn’t I get in there?” When we explained she loaned us a torch.

So you’ve got me.  In a very dark disabled loo. Trying to have a wee. While my sister holds a torch giving us a slither of light.

And giggling our heads off.

Because you really know you’ve got CP when going to the loo involves borrowing a torch from a stranger and taking your sister in with you. Not because you need help but so you can see.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I needed a wee again.  Luckily Soph had brought a torch too so we didn’t have to hunt the random lady down.

She goes in first to grab the door. And while running the torch across the walls discovers a spider on the ceiling.

That was it. The song might say “if my sister’s in trouble so I am” but in the Crees family we apparently go by the version of “if my sister’s in trouble so I am. Unless it involves a spider: then you’re on your own love.”

So I had to wee in the dark. And once I was vaguely presentable I got her to open the door so I could see to get back in my chair etc.

At which point I realised that the gents was right next to the disabled loo and guys were walking past to get in there.  And glancing in, as you do.

That set us off giggling too.

It’s so ridiculously CP that most people who’ve heard the second part of that story have been “argh spider!” and I was just like giggling and going “well at least I got to have a wee.”

That was a fun wedding though.

Darkness, spiders and all.

Accidentally Quiet

Yes, yes, anyone who knows me is probably reading this and going “quiet? You don’t do quiet Emma!” and they would be right.

When we went to the Paralympics our day pass tickets meant we could have gone in to goal ball. There weren’t any seats available though and I said to my friend that was probably a good thing because I thought I’d suck at watching goal ball. Because the audience is required to be quiet. And I’d really gotten into all the dancing, cheering, yelling, clapping, singing and screaming that had been involved in a watching a lot of the other sports involved, particularly sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

So yes, there’s a reason why this blog is titled accidentally quiet. I’m referring to the fact that despite having many books reviews and other blogs to post I’ve been mostly silent online this week. My router broke and I’ve had no Internet at home. I can’t check my email on my phone for some reason either. I should be able to but it’s never worked and I can’t work out why.

Not having the net is strange. It’s frustrating in small ways like I keep meaning to look up a phone number on a website but forgetting when I get online (goes to do it now…) and I sent an important ish email last week that I’ve not had a response too. And it’s so ingrained my routine and perhaps even my psyche to be online all the time.

But I’ve spent a lot of time buried in a very long and very good book (11.22.63 by Stephen King) and I’ve done some writing, and got stupidly addicted to Fruit Ninja again. And twice I’ve been using the wifi in a coffee shop and ended up bumping into other CAB volunteers and having a long chat. Which is fun, particularly getting to know one of them a bit better. Part of me thinks I should have made better use of my enforced offline period and spent less time checking the sites I could get onto on my phone. But I know that’s ridiculous.

In a way I quite like it but mostly it does my head in. Particularly yesterday when I was tired, it was rainy, things went wrong and the details I needed to sort it were on my email. That ended up being a straw that broke the camels back especially when my Dad made a comment that usually would be ok and I burst into tears. When that happens its usually a sign that things aren’t great depression wise but this time I’m blaming the Internet.

I’d like to say that I hope to spend less time online from now on but I suspect I won’t when it comes down to it and I probably shouldn’t set unrealistic goals. I’ve been surprised by which sites I’ve missed and which I haven’t even thought about until I just now looked at my history. Perhaps I can use that to free up a little more time for more constructive tasks. Or at least to free up a little energy that’s being invested in being annoyed about Internet stuff that really doesn’t matter. I really haven’t missed that.

What I will say is I hope to be online properly soon and I feel like I have a lot to say then. In order to make that happen I’m off to PC World…

Mojo

I think it’s probably obvious to many people who read this that I’ve not been myself for the last several months at least. Since April I’ve been dealing with issues which have left me very depressed and struggling with feelings of worthlessness. I’ve not done a particularly good job of dealing with that and taking care of myself, not least because my medication compliance slipped way down.

Going to the Paralympics however has made me really want my mojo back. I want to be me again. I want to get back not just to the girl who I was before all this kicked off five months ago but who I was a few years ago. Or a variant of that girl. Whoever she was. Sometimes I’m not sure I remember her correctly.

Today I made two decisions – one of which has been on the cards since May and which a couple of people been pushing me to make. That has however involved backing down from a fight I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into. But I was never going to win that. It feels wrong for a fighter like me to back down and not get resolution to such blatant (and easily solved) discrimination as that of the NHS weight loss clinic who can’t weigh a wheelchair user. It was pretty toxic for me though so dropping out of the course was necessary.

The second has only been a consideration for a week or so but I’m pretty excited by it. I know it’s possible and that the majority of the logistics involved in it are easy for me. There is however a small bit logistics wise that should be doable but I need to try to be sure given some of the issues I’ve had with my powerchair and public transport. Actually, that should probably be a separate part of the “getting my mojo back” plan now I think of it.

I also ordered prescriptions for the majority of my meds (I didn’t order pain meds) so I can try to get back into a better routine of taking them. Mostly I need to be taking them at more sensible times so they’re working when I’m awake rather than swallowing them immediately before bed and sleeping through most of the benefit.

It’s a start.

Inspire a Generation

I’m going to be hosting the next Disability Blog Carnival.

In honour of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games the theme will be Inspire a Generation. Which for those not in the know is the sort of catchphrase or tag line for the games. I’ve just come back from a four day trip to the Paralympics and I absolutely loved it. I will blog in more detail about my trip but it was definitely an amazing experience and I found it inspirational for more than just the sport. I really didn’t want to come home.

I thought Inspire a Generation was a good theme to use for the carnival. However the theme is not just about the games so if it makes you think of something different that’s fine. I have a few other ideas related to the theme but I’m interested to see what others come up with.

Here’s how this works:

You can submit older posts or write new ones
They need to be related to disability but don’t need to be written by disabled people
Posts need to fit the theme in someway but it’s not rigid
The deadline for posts is Sept 26th, I hope to post the carnival on 30th Sept.

You can leave your links in the comments here (first time comments are moderated to prevent spam), tweet me them – I’m @FunkyFairy22, or email them to ejcrees@googlemail.com with Carnival or similar in the subject line please.