January Reading

In previous years I’ve occasionally tried to post here about what I’ve read. But it’s something I’ve struggled to keep up regularly despite wanting to. I thought this year I would post a list on the 1st of each month of everything I read in the previous month.

Books marked with 1001 are from Boxall’s 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list and so count towards my goal of reading 40 more books from that before my 40th birthday.

  1. Serpentine by Philip Pullman
  2. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  3. A Promised Land by Barack Obama (audiobook)
  4. Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  5. The Circle by Dave Eggers (audiobook, 1001)
  6. The Minute I Saw You by Paige Toon

One of my vague reading goals for this year is to read longer books. I’ve read some very long ones this month – the Obama book is 750 pages, three of the others are 500 pages or more. I’ve also read what will almost definitely be the shortest book I read this year (Serpentine, which is very small in size and has only 80 pages).

The Circle and The Minute I Saw You both have disabled characters. Although I did wonder if many readers will have associated the word disabled with Hannah, the main character in The Minute I Saw You (she has a permanent limp which is mentioned several times).

A Promised Land was my favourite this month, it was so interesting. President Obama reads the audiobook himself which added to my enjoyment. Serpentine was probably my least favourite. As much as I’ve previously enjoyed the His Dark Materials world, this did leave me not sure what the point of it was…

In 2021 to date I have read 6 books or 2893 pages.

40 Before 40: Pandemic Edition

My 40th birthday is at the end of this year. At the end of 2019 I wrote a “40 before 40” list of goals to achieve before I reached that milestone. I blogged about that a little bit but never shared the list online

I did achieve three of the goals last year – I went to see Book of Mormon and did a photography course before the pandemic hit. I also manged to use my manual chair every day for over 40 days later in the year. Looking at the list as I write this, I could also be said to have done two more – I attempted to make button art at Christmas but it didn’t work out (I have plans for a different button art project) and whilst I didn’t make it to a writers retreat, I have done a couple of online retreats.

But there were several overnight trips in that 40, and even more one day trips. Most of those are currently out of reach. And to be completely honest I’m struggling with motivation to get things done at home at the moment. So a lot of the habit forming ones such as “write everyday for 40 days” feel unachieveable.

That said I didn’t want to give up on the idea of 40 before 40 entirely. So at the end of last year, I came up with two slightly simpler versions of the 40 before 40 goals.

I occasionally crochet squares for Woolly Hugs. This year I am aiming to crochet and send 40 of the 12 inch ones. I’ve already done two which will be in the post next week.

Also, for years I’ve been occasionally reading books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die book (I have a list of all the books that have been in each edition and read from that – it’s about 1300 when you count removed books). This year I want to get back into it and read 40 books from the list. I’m in the middle of listening to the audiobook of The Circle by Dave Eggers from the list now.

If I could manage to do more of the “at home” or low key goals from my original list that would be good, but the crochet and the books are what I’m actively planning to do write now.

And perhaps at some point when life looks something a bit more like normal I might start a 101 in 1001 list with the tattered remains of my original 40 before 40 list. It’s quite a long time since I’ve done one of those…

Thing a Day February

Several years ago – searching on my blog suggests longer ago than I thought – there was a non-defunct website that ran a “Thing a day” challenge in February.

The idea was to make something – from scratch – every day in the month of February. I tried it in two years at least. And I didn’t manage to do everyday either year. But I remember enjoying it. Then the website changed and it got harder to participate and eventually it disappeared.

As all things do it slipped my mind. Then for some reason as I wandered the scenic route home from podiatry this lunchtime, trying to avoid the dug up path, muddy mess of roadwork hell, it popped back into it.

I googled it and there is a facebook group devoted to the challenge. I’ve requested to join and think I might attempt the challenge again this year. The group description suggests “Aim low. Fold your napkin into a shape, draw a face on your thumb, doodle on a post it note. Or aim high: make time to decorate a household object, pursue your art, cook a masterpiece, do an art journal page. Just do it! “

I doubt I’ll manage to make 28 separate things but it’s not impossible. Certainly the smaller, simpler crochet squares I sometimes make for charity are usually a one day project for me. And I was thinking of widening it out/changing it to “do something creative” so writing counts. I always thought it did but reading the facebook description, maybe not. Still sometimes it’s worth being a rebel.

I mean I would like to end the month with something more than a pile of granny squares and a folder full of new flash fiction. But if that’s all I came up with it would still be a useful experience.

The Most Supportive Thing

I wrote an entry a while ago about blog posts I’d been wanting to write (I’m really good at starting things…) this is part of one of the posts, there maybe a part two at some point but not any time soon.

Last week (before the phone call about self-isolation) I had a problem with the carers. No one turned up to do my call and then when I eventually tried to call them to chase it up (much later than I should have because I kept thinking “someone will come soon”) I couldn’t get through on the phone, repeatedly. Once I did manage to get hold of them it was really quickly sorted.

And I appreciated three things about it.

I was grateful that in almost 11 months with this agency this is the first major problem like that – and the first time I’ve had to chase where a carer is. I’ve previously had to chase other agencies on practically a weekly if not daily basis.

I really appreciated the carer’s honesty when, after coming running up the path to my front door, she said “sorry, Em, my fault.” Because that takes a lot of guts. Particularly when due to care being confidential she could have just not mentioned it or said something non-committal like “been a bad morning.” And I used to catch the care agency before in stupid little lies about stuff like that all the time. But I did also have to wonder when she started calling me “Em”.

But what I really really appreciated was that when I sent a letting off steam message to a friend of mine saying “Argh carer’s over an hour late and I can’t get hold of the agency.” she sent the perfect message back.

It said: “Argh.”

One thing I’ve struggled with, particularly since starting to have carers/wear compression, is people wanting to solve my problems. I’ve had a lot of people getting angry on my behalf about things. Trying to justify to me or explain why things have happened. Tell me I shouldn’t let things annoy or upset me.

I do realise that it comes from a place of wanting to help me, trying to be helpful. And perhaps it’s how they would like to be supported if they were in that situation.

But whilst I am grateful to have people who wish that for me and have been trying to help. Sometimes I just want to rant, to let off the steam. It feels like nobody wants to be the one to do this – I think it makes them uncomfortable to sit with people in their painful moments – but sometimes I don’t want a solution or people’s anger or justification. I just want to tell you something’s happened that’s upset me.

I’m not just talking about problems with my care here but life in general. But sometimes the most helpful, supportive, useful thing people could do is let me tell you it’s shit and just hear me. All you have to say is “yeah it is.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged…

…that I can cope perfectly well at home not going out when I’m not going out because I don’t want to. But the minute I’m stuck at home for the foreseeable for reasons beyond my control I get cabin fever.

Haven’t been out since New Years Eve because of my cold. It’s well on it’s way out had decided to do the full 10 days isolation just in case and was planning to go for a walk probably tomorrow. I’ve been happy at home working my way through a long book and an even longer audiobook and playing games on my iPad. I didn’t really have an enthusiasm for the idea going by the weather but figured I should probably go out occasionally. Then the care agency called last night.

The carers are having weekly covid tests and one of them came up positive. I’ve been identified as a close contact and need to self isolate until next weekend.

And all of a sudden, I’m bored.

Not the start to 2021 I wanted

I had all these plans for things I was going to do on New Years Day. I was going to read lots, use my motomed and update my blog. I was even going to change the layout on here. I might have done some crochet too. And I was definitely going to do some writing

Basically I started New Years Eve with a plan to do all sorts of things on New Years Day so that I could “start the year off right.” Start working immediately on all the things I want to achieve this year. But by the time I went to bed shortly before 1am after seeing the back of 2020, it was obvious that I was probably getting a cold.

I woke up New Years Day with a definite cold and have spent the three days so far this year in a fug of olbas oil and snot. Achieving little more than faffing around on my ipad, listening to an audiobook and watching Netflix.

Hopefully in the next few days I’ll be feeling a bit better and can start work on my 2021 goals. But I also told a friend a week or so ago that I wanted to try to stop beating myself up about all the things I could/should be doing but am not. So perhaps I have started working on my goals after all?