You know you’ve got CP when…

…knitting in your powerchair looks like this:

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A ball of black and silver sparkly yarn (Sirdar Firefly) with a hole in the middle balanced on the control of my powerchair. The joystick is through the middle sort of like a spindle.

And knitting your manual chair looks like this:

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The same yarn balanced on my manual chair. The brake is acting as a spindle. The ball is slightly smaller here (it comes wrapped on a ring of card) and the central hole is larger.

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

The weather is warmer today. Which meant I could get outside reading again! I did need to wear my hoodie but that’s ok…

I was reading a review copy (received from Transworld in exchange for an honest review) of Dear Thing by Julie Cohen. I’d read the first maybe 14% (kindle book) on the train a few days ago. I sat and read the remainder in pretty much one hit sat outside this afternoon (stopping only for five mins to speak to my dog walking neighbour). My kindle kept flashing low battery messages but I couldn’t bring myself to put it down and I was just hoping it would last till I finished. Which it did, thankfully.

Here’s the synopsis:
Claire and Ben are the perfect couple. But behind the glossy façade, they’ve been desperately trying – and failing – to have a baby for years. Now, the stress and feelings of loss are taking their toll on their marriage. Claire’s ready to give up hope and get on with her life, but Ben is not. And then Ben’s best friend, Romily, offers to conceive via artificial insemination and carry the baby for them.

Romily acts in good faith, believing it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and has no desire for any more children. Except that being pregnant with Ben’s child stirs up all sorts of emotions in her, including one she’s kept hidden for a very long time: Ben’s the only man she’s ever loved.

Two mothers-and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep.

In case it wasn’t obvious from the fact I read 86% of this in just over two hours this afternoon I should start by saying I liked this and it really drew me in. Whilst it’s not the most compelling of the books I’ve read recently (that was The Fault In Our Stars by John Green) I never reached a point where I thought “right, enough of that, time to go check twitter do something constructive”. And that’s unusual when I’m reading. It was certainly not what I’d expected from this book. I’d thought I’d like it but I’d anticipated it being a bit of a difficult one.

There are obviously a few moral issues in this book. I don’t think a book about surrogacy could exist without them. Although writing this it occurs to me that it could if it was set in a dystopia where only surrogates are used (similar to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood) but then in the idea that’s come to me there’d be someone who wanted to carry their own child and there would be moral issues around that. That would be epic. I love dystopian fiction.

Anyway, back on topic now.

There are some moral issues but much less so than I expected. And they treat the whole surrogacy much more informally too. I’d assumed surrogacy always involved lawyers and being fiction this didn’t. Much more so than anything else this is a book about relationships between different people and about how they change as our experiences shape us and we grow as people.

The title, Dear Thing, comes from the fact that a big plot point resolves around some letters Romily writes to the baby – lovingly called Thing – whilst she’s pregnant. I loved that. I just thought the idea of calling him Thing was so cute.
I’d definitely read more by Julie Cohen as Dear Thing put me in mind of books by Diane Chamberlain. That’s one of my favourite authors at the moment.

Random Bullet Points of Life

1 my glasses broke. Knocked them off of my bedside table and a lens fell out. But it should be easily fixed.
2 my wheelchair cushion is basically dead. Tried to take the cover off to wash it and discovered the gel or something where it shouldn’t be and making a mess. Wheelchair services are getting me a replacement. Have I mentioned lately that I love the NHS? Jay 2 deep contour that I use retails at roughly £500. Cost to me? Free.
3 I haven’t drunk coke in over three weeks.
4 Turns out I can still transfer in and out of a Challenger without a hoist. I will continue to use the hoist for that wherever possibly (sailing is the only time I hoist transfer) because I need at least three helpers, mammoth effort and a lot of difficulty to do it.
5 I have seriously got to stop going to Hobbycraft until I’ve done mega stash busting, the same is true for buying books too.

Club Monstrosity by Jesse Petersen

I received an advance review copy of Club Monstrosity by Jesse Petersen.  This was via Net Galley.  Club Monstrosity is currently ebook only and a second book in the series will be coming out in July.  It doesn’t appear to be going to be released in the UK.  I can find no information on this and it’s not listed on Amazon UK so that’s all I can think.  This is disappointing because I wouldn’t have requested a review copy if I’d been aware of this. To be honest I’m very surprised the published accepted a request from a UK blogger, a lot wouldn’t have. As a result this will likely be a shorter review than I would usually write.

Natalie’s one of Frankenstein’s creations and works in a New York City morgue. So of course she needs therapy. She and her friends—er, fellow monsters—have formed the world’s most exclusive, most dysfunctional support group. What could go wrong?

Undetected in the modern world and under pressure to stay that way, Natalie Grey, Dracula, Bob the Blob, and others (including the fetching wolfman Alec) meet regularly to talk about the pressures of being infamous in the Big Apple. Topics include how long it’s been since their last sighting, how their “story” creates stereotypes they can’t fulfill, and—gasp—sometimes even their feelings. But when their pervy Invisible Man, Ellis, is killed in a manner reminiscent of the H.G. Wells novel, it’s clear someone’s discovered their existence and is down for some monster busting.

Led by Natalie—and definitely not helped by Hyde’s bloodthirsty tendencies—the members of Monstofelldosis Anonymous band together for security and a little sleuthing. And maybe—maybe—if they don’t end up dead, they’ll end up friends somewhere along the way

I liked this.  It’s not my usual sort of read but I read and reviewed two of Jesse Petersen’s other books a couple of years ago (part of the Living With The Dead series). And they were even more not my usual thing but I found them a lot of fun. So I was tempted to give this a go.  I enjoyed the Living With The Dead books a lot more.  That’s not to say this wasn’t worth the read just it fell a bit short of the mark for me.

I’d read some of the books/seen the films/whatever that some of these characters come from originally but no where near all of them.  To be honest I do wonder how much having done so might have changed my perception of this.  I liked the idea of monsters having a support group and trying to be more than they are whilst hiding their monster status. It was a cute idea and it worked.  Having just started reading the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde however I’d say they get the mixture of existing characters from other books, a new setting, and humour much better than this does.
If I was really stuck for ideas on something else to read I might read the sequel to this – I didn’t feel like reading this was a waste of my time in any way. It wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.  But I wouldn’t read the sequel by choice.

Home Front Girls by Rosie Goodwin

If you read my April Readathon post you might remember that one of the books I read was Home Front Girls by Rosie Goodwin.  I received a free copy in exchange for sharing my opinion of it.  It’s in no way influenced by the fact I was asked to review it.

Here’s the synopsis:

Dotty, Lucy and Annabelle all turn up for work at Coventry’s department store Owen Owens at the time war is declared.

Dotty has never known a life outside of the orphanage where she grew up. Lucy is the sole carer of her little sister; she’s head of the home now that her brother has gone to war. So she seeks out a job at Owen Owens. Annabelle has led a life of privilege but everyone’s having to pinch the pennies at the moment. The well-off are no exception, much to Annabelle’s annoyance.

The three young women are brought together on their first day at Owen Owens. As the trials and devastating effects of war come to bear on the three women, their bond deepens. With disaster at every turn, they’re going to need each other…

I really like books and other media set in the second world war (I find it a really interesting period in our history) so I jumped at the chance to review this.  Rosie Goodwin is a new author to me.  And at the moment I’m having a break from buying books because I have so many good ones waiting to read it’s ridiculous (seriously, I bought ten books in two days last week.  Admittedly they were cheap ish ones from HMV and only cost me less than £30 in total but still) but when I’m next buying them – probably in June I’d imagine – she’s definitely an author I’ll check out.

I started reading this the day before the readathon.  And as I wrote in that entry (see link above) I’d planned to leave all the books I was in the middle of and read only new things that day.  But I’d found this really hard to put down the day before and read huge amounts of it in two sittings.  Then when it came to it I just couldn’t put it aside for a day and read something else.  Those last 130 or so pages were haunting me and I just had to know what happened!

I really loved this book. Loved it.  It kept surprising me too.  There were a few twists in it.  One of them I guessed but it still surprised me because of the way it came about.  Another I was totally convinced I knew what it was going to be but it wasn’t (and then later in the book what I thought it would be came back as a possibility but still surprised me) and a third I didn’t even see coming.

I couldn’t decide which of the three girls I liked the most.  They were very different and in some ways to start with you almost expected that they weren’t destined to be friends.  I liked each of the girls but for very different reasons.  Dotty reminded me of myself with her love of writing and a bit with her lack of confidence. I enjoyed the relationship between Lucy and her little sister who was disabled (whilst it could have been made more of, that might have greatly altered the story and it was handled well which is important).  And Annabelle is a spoilt bitch at times but she grew on me too.

I’ve just spotted that this is on a ridiculously good deal for the kindle version right now (compared to the hardback price).  It’s definitely more than worth it.

Dust If You Must

So as you can probably tell from my last few blog entries I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

My sister commented on one of those entries that it made her think of a poem that’s doing the rounds on Facebook. I’d seen the one she meant bit not paid too much attention to it. Sometimes my newsfeed feels like a never ending stream of photos, poems, quotes and sentiments all designed to inspire or to make you think or feel good and they begin to blend into one. Which probably defeats the object but there you have it.

Anyway after reading that comment I did a little googling and tracked down a copy. I think it’s worth sharing here. It fits well with what I’ve been thinking and writing about and is probably worth remembering which I won’t do if it stays just a thing I saw on Facebook.

Wikipedia tells me it’s called Dust If You Must and is by Rose Milligan. It was originally published in 1998 in The Lady.

Dust if you must.
But wouldn’t it be better,
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed?
Ponder the difference between want and need.

Dust if you must.
But there is not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
Music to hear, and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must.
But the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes,
the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come round again.

Dust if you must.
But bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go, and go you must,
You, yourself, will make more dust.

Recognition

Not long after I wrote yesterday’s post it occurred to me that I’ve actually been doing a brilliant task lately of taking better care of myself. And that not only is the guilt I felt yesterday unnecessary, it’s also unwarranted.

I’ve always struggled with recognising the good things I’m doing. For some reason it’s much easier for me to remember and focus on the negative than the positive. I suspect that’s true for most people but it feels like something I need to work on going forward. Make it a goal for the rest of the year perhaps?

At CAB I often point out to clients things that from my perspective as an adviser they’re doing well. Usually little things they’ve probably dismissed as nothing but which I frequently see clients who’ve not managed that. The usual example used in training advisers is the person who comes in with letters they’ve ignored because opening them is too much. Sometimes they’ll sit in reception and open it while they wait. But at other times the adviser does it for them, Or the person who needs to do something on a deadline and doesn’t seek help until the day before.

When I was going through the IB to ESA transfer I got the first letter and basically lost it. Totally freaked out. I was in the bureau that afternoon, still struggling. They did the same thing with me “Emma, you opened the letter and dealt with it. Think about some of our regulars in a similar position. Several of them wouldn’t have even opened it”

That recognition of the little things I’m doing right is something I need to start applying to myself. Along with looking at the bigger picture of how it all fits together to form a greater whole. I’m not sure how but I’m thinking about it.

Because the fact of the matter is: I’ve been working on three taking care of myself goals for the past week or so and achieving them.

It’s easy to forget about because they seem so small but it’s actually pretty huge

Sunny, Sleepy, Saturday

My weekends in May look to be manic.

Apart from this one.

I’m going to see the play of The Count of Monte Cristo with a friend in a little while which I’m looking forward too. But apart from that I’ve no plans for this whole bank holiday weekend.

And I didn’t have any plans yesterday and didn’t leave the house. I read a lot, chatted to my neighbour and played on my wii.

And on Thursday I spent the day waiting in for people. I spent loads of it sat outside with a book. Then in the evening I went to my knitting group.

But today’s been the laziest day. I’m sore so I’ve been trying to reposition frequently. I stayed in bed all morning. I took a long shower. i sat outside and finished my book, took my lunch with me. I stretched. I lay in bed and started watching Stargate SG1. I took a nap and then played Mahjong on my iPad.

Part of me feels bad.

I was supposed to tidy my kitchen and do some washing.

I feel like I’ve so much I need to do and I’m floundering wasting my time on stuff that doesn’t matter. If my sister ever has to wait for me she says I’m “wasting her life”. I sort of feel that’s what I’m doing with my life.

But I also know I needed today – this weekend in fact – to be quite.

Taking care of myself is what matters.

I just need not to feel guilty or stressed about doing so.

You Know You Have CP When…

…you get congratulated on still having the wheels on your powerchair. Twice. On separate days.

…you go to say goodbye to the same person who congratulated you because they’re leaving the bureau and moving on to a new job. And amongst the “wishing you well” comments they make they include that they “hope your wheels don’t fall off”

…you wear out all four if the castors on your powerchair in 14 months. Hence all the wheel falling off comments because it was a genuine possibility while I was waiting for the replacements.

…your Dad books an accessible taxi to take you, him and your mum to your brother’s wedding. When another staff member at the taxi company has queries he assumed you booked it and calls you saying “hi you booked a taxi” leading to a very confused conversation where he’s adamant you did and you swear you didn’t. Of course that wasn’t helped by my Dad booking a month to the day before the wedding…

…you try on the dress you bought for your brothers wedding for a second time. This time you do it in your wheelchair. The dress that’s an inch or so too long for you? Hangs down into the mechanism of your chair and needs taking up by 6 inches.

…a complete stranger walks past you and tells you to slow down.

…you use a hoist once a week at sailability. But you’re the hoist expert.

…you get a drop down rail fitted in the bathroom. The guy fitting it looks confused at part of it and then tells you it’s a handle to help you pull it down. You decide against telling him it is, in fact, a loo roll holder.

…you get them back out to check the rail because you think it’s not secure. They make adjustments and then demonstrate how they can’t move it before assuring you its secure. You then use it to transfer and immediately move it in a way it shouldn’t go.

…you’re manuevering round a very tight space and check with the person holding the door for you that you’re nowhere near their feet. They declare you’re not. And then you immediately run their foot over.