The things no-one else notices

I have parts of my body which I think are beautiful, parts which other people do not notice.  And I believe that while most of the world does not notice these things, someone who truly loves me would notice them every single day.  I'm not sure if everyone has body parts they feel this way about, but I'd like to think so.

Tell me I have beautiful eyes, that you love my smile, or that my bum is sexy...and I might be yours for the day.  

You see a pretty girl, and that's a compliment I am happy to receive.

But tell me how beautiful my hands are, how you love the way my hair glows like fire in the evening sun or that the angles my hip bones make from under my skin drive you wild with desire...and I might just be yours for life.  

You see Anna, you see me.

I'll have a box of baby sloths please

To-Do Before I Die List

1. Have a job which mainly involves carrying boxes of baby sloths

Not even kidding.  This is so on the list.

Sweet seat swivelling

After much deliberation and frantic Ebaying, I am the proud owner of a swivel for my passenger seat.  I intend to make this and the base of the seat into a mini-safe.

Let's hope it fits!

100 books challenge...1 year on

On this day 1 year ago...I wrote about my progress on my 100 books challenge.  On that day I had ticked off precisely 22 out of 100, and today...

1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes
2. Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan
3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
4. Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift
5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding 
6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson
7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
9. Emma Jane Austen
10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley
11. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock
12. The Black Sheep Honore De Balzac
13. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal
14. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
15. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli
16. David Copperfield Charles Dickens
17. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
18. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
19. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
20. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
22. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
23. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
24. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
25. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
26. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
27. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
28. Daniel Deronda George Eliot
29. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky
30. The Portrait of a Lady Henry James
31. Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
32. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
33. Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome
34. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
35. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith
36. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
37. The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
38. The Call of the Wild Jack London
39. Nostromo Joseph Conrad
40. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
41. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust
42. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
43. The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
44. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan
45. Ulysses James Joyce
46. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
47. A Passage to India E. M. Forster
48. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
49. The Trial Franz Kafka
50. Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway
51. Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
52. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
53. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
54. Scoop Evelyn Waugh
55. USA John Dos Passos
56. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
57. The Pursuit Of Love Nancy Mitford
58. The Plague Albert Camus
59. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
60. Malone Dies Samuel Beckett
61. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
62. Wise Blood Flannery O'Connor
63. Charlotte's Web E. B. White
64. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
65. Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis
66. Lord of the Flies William Golding
67. The Quiet American Graham Greene
68 On the Road Jack Kerouac
69. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
70. The Tin Drum Gunter Grass
71. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
73. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
74. Catch-22 Joseph Heller
75. Herzog Saul Bellow
76. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor
78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carre
79. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
80. The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge
81. The Executioner's Song Norman Mailer
82. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller Italo Calvino
83. A Bend in the River V. S. Naipaul
84. Waiting for the Barbarians J.M. Coetzee
85. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson
86. Lanark Alasdair Gray
87. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
88. The BFG Roald Dahl
89. The Periodic Table Primo Levi
90. Money Martin Amis
91. An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
92. Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey
93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera
94. Haroun and the Sea af Stories Salman Rushdie
95. La Confidential James Ellroy
96. Wise Children Angela Carter
97. Atonement Ian McEwan
98. Northern Lights Philip Pullman
99. American Pastoral Philip Roth
100. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald

...I am up to 40! 18 in one year and now feeling quite unreasonably proud of myself.

High point - The Great Gatsby.  Hauntingly beautiful.

Low point - Don Quixote.  Yes it's number one in the list so my dislike is clearly due to me being uncultured gutter scum...but I just found it so pointlessly repetitive.  Sorry literary world. 

Purpose paradox

I am counting down the days until I leave my job.  My job is great, it has flexible hours which suits me, and it has provided me with the funding I need to execute my master plan, but it is so unsatisfying to me.

For me, my job seems pointless.  Utterly pointless.

For me, a job which does not add value directly to others, a job which is not fulfilling the actual genuine needs of others, is pointless.  It is not enough for me to create the software on the phone which is used for the emergency callout, I need to be the paramedic breathing life back into the patient to feel as if I have made a difference.  I honestly found working as a cleaner in a care home for Alzheimer's patients more satisfying than my current job.

It is as if I need to serve others in order to feel my own life is of value.

On the surface, this sounds great.  I could travel the world working as a volunteer for life-changing humanitarian projects and feel as if my own life was of value.

And what's wrong with that?  

Nothing is wrong with that, of course it isn't.  But something is out of line, the logic is paradoxical. For my life to have purpose, I need to help others.  Yet by that same standard, if I am helping those who are not living to help others, then their lives must also lack purpose.

How can adding to the lives of those who lack purpose make my own life purposeful?

Of course, it can't.  It is a paradox.  What this means is that helping others can not be the purpose of living.  That doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile, I still intend to do a lot of volunteering.  But it shouldn't be your source of purpose and meaning in life, because it cannot fulfill this need.  I need to do some serious re-thinking...

Old habits

In November I had laser eye surgery, it took my brain about a week to unlearn 23 years of right eye dominance.  7 days to rewire 23 years of neurological pathways.

Quite impressive.  Quite fascinating.  And yet what I find more fascinating is that almost three months later, I still want to wear my glasses.  When I am tired, when I feel ill, at the end of a long day, I want to wear them.

So I do.  I popped the lenses out weeks ago.  I put them on, and I feel as if I can see more clearly.  I genuinely do.  I feel as if I can see more clearly, through my glasses with no lenses in.

The habits I can't break speak volumes about who I am.

Hostel freak

I adore hostels.  Give me a hostel any day over a fancy hotel.  But I, and anyone else who has ever stayed in a hostel, is most likely familiar with a certain kind of person.
The odd one out.  You would never say anything nasty to them of course, but maybe you don't strike up a conversation with them like you would with the more regular-seeming guests.  You don't even say anything about them to your companions (at least not while they are in the room!), but maybe you stare at them for just a second longer than perhaps you should.  Let's just be honest, they aren't merely the odd one out, they are the hostel freak.
Charleston, South Carolina. The woman who wandered around in a full length evening gown at 3 am, neither going to or returning from anywhere at all. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The man who formulated a toga from his bed sheet while he did his washing, and proceed to swirl and twirl and flounce his way about the place.

Manchester, England.  Me.

I stayed in a hostel the night after having laser eye surgery.  I swanned around the hostel in my sunglasses the previous evening, pretending to myself that I was a famous celebrity.  When my dorm-mates entered the room for the first time at 9 pm, there I was, in bed, reading, with sunglasses on.  They looked a little scared when I cheerily greeted them, their English didn't seem quite up to understanding the concept of LASIK.
The next morning, whether it was caused by the eye drops, the heat or the sleep deprivation due to the incessant snoring of said dorm-mates I do not know, but what I do know is that I did proceed to pass out in the bathroom.  Twice.  Cue very loud crashes and one ghostly white, bruised and battered me sitting on the bedroom floor dripping with sweat until I felt human again.  They didn't ask if I was OK, but they did stare.  I concluded they probably thought I was on drugs.
I'm not sure I have ever felt more socially outcast in my life.  Not as the only white person for miles in rural Tanzania, with every passing child shouting "White person" at me.  Not amongst the public school kids at the Cambridge University interview day I accompanied a friend to, where every word I spoke betrayed my differences.  Nope, I felt more like a leper sitting on that Manchester hostel bedroom floor, trying my very best not to cry.
I slunk out of the hostel with my sunglasses on, bruises and bumps slowly spreading across my face, dejectedly clutching a coffee and looking more like a beaten wife on the run than a fabulous celebrity undercover amongst the lowly normals.

So next time you find yourself in a hostel, if you notice the hostel freak, maybe just make that extra effort to treat them the same as you do everyone else.

You never know when it could be your turn!

Van seat tidies...done

Back in September, I had an idea to make seat tidies for my van.

Well I have finally got round to making them over my Christmas break...andI'm pretty pleased with how they turned out...

They werent that hard to make and they are definitely so much more useful than anything I could have bought!

Love without limits

We seem to live in a culture which is fixated on rules.  Happiness is x, family is y, wealth is this, love is that.  Rules are just fine, I have no problem with them.  But what about when they don't quite relate to the concept they are supposed to be explaining?

Love and relationships seem to be particularly susceptible to these misguided ideals.  It's almost as if we think the more rules we wrap love in, the more controllable it is, the more easily we can possess it.

So we create a series of increasingly elaborate hoops for ourselves and our partners to jump through in order to prove that love is there.  Like we are trying to catch ourselves out, trying to prove the absence of love.  Rules and rituals for special occasions, social events, physical contact.  None of these rules are inherently wrong, most of the things they demand of us are part of many healthy loving relationships.  But in isolation, the presence of each one does not equal love, nor does their absence equal the loss of love.

So why, when we can happily accept flexibility in certain rules, are we so inflexible in others?

Like fidelity.

Sex does not equal love.  One-night stands and the sex industry exists, regardless of what we may think of it.  Sexual fidelity does not equal love.  We all know that, we have all seen loveless yet faithful marriages.  So why then must love equal sexual fidelity?

Forcing such a rule limits the value of sex.  I am not about to start discussing the merits of particular relationship choices, mainly because I think it is incredibly difficult to espouse one relationship style without denying others.  For those who wish to expand the cultural norm of monogamous relationships, promoting polygamy to the point of denying the value of mongamy seems quite counter-intuitive.

So yes, fidelity may limit the value of sex.  That is sad. 

But what is heart-breaking is that fidelity may limit love.  Regardless of whether you want to sleep with 1 or 1000 people or whether you are faithful or not.  Positioning fidelity as the core component of love limits what love can be.

Because love is not sex.  Love is not fidelity.  Love is love, why must it be anything else in order to exist?

This theory may feel logically acceptable, but yet we are still so quick to deny love when fidelity is absent.  

I struggle to align my rationality with my encultured emotional response.  I want an open relationship, I want to learn to love without limits.  And yet... I feel jealousy at the slightest suggestion of sharing those I do not even love.  

This culture runs through my veins and binds my hands in more ways and with more strength than I like to admit. 

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