I spent a lovely day in Manchester with Ash and Tom. It had been a little while since we were all together and so it was really nice to get out of the house and see them. It was just quite a nice day.
Then my aunt visited for a few hours and we talked a lot about books and feminism and fox hunting and psychology. It was really interesting and nice to see her. We don’t see each other very often at all, usually only a few times a year, because we all have our own lives and just get on with it. But it was lovely. She brought me a book aswell, which is great because we quite often have similar tastes in books, but also seem to know different books. She’s always good to get book recommendations from! She brought me a copy of Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’, which has been on my reading list for a very long time. I’ve read it and loved it and made notes, but I’ll talk about my thoughts on it later. It was lovely to see her and I’m looking forward to seeing how her book club gets on!
For the last couple of weeks I have been organising my bedroom at my parents house. Trying to cram all my new stuff into my childhood bedroom that already had all of my childhood belongings in, not to mention the majority of my books, was quite the feat of effort. And it’s still not finished yet. I didn’t realise how much STUFF I had held onto over the years. I have letters, and teddies, and school reports from thirteen years ago. These things hold no meaning in my life anymore, so I’m getting rid of them, which is easy enough, but it just takes so much TIME. And I keep finding little deposits of these things in strange little places in my room where some previous version of me had squirrelled them away. Previous Alys doesn’t seem to have had any rhyme or reason to where she stored her things. But maybe that’s because she didn’t actually care about those things herself. And now I have to deal with her hoarding tendencies and get rid of all of the crap that she’s kept for the last twenty three years. Either way, that’s what I’ve been up to. When I’m not reading, because of course as soon as I actually had something to do I procrastinated like nobody’s business and read a lot.
So I finished reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins finally. I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t a fan right from the start, but it’s been on my list to read for about six years, so I persevered and then just kept going until I finished. I don’t really know what to say about it. It was paced slowly and I kept looking at the progress bar at the bottom of my kindle to see how far away from the end I was because it almost came to the climax of the story about three times. But then it just kept going! I think it’s safe to say that I’m glad that Kindle books are free if they’re out of print.
Then I went shopping with my mum and of course we went into Waterstones. I picked up Nod by Adrian Barnes and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
These last couple of weeks have been a really nice holiday. I went to the Lake District with Alex’s family and then stayed with them for a week in York. It was really nice to just have a break from everything. I even took a break from the internet while I was in the Lake district! (It wasn’t optional, there was no internet, but it didn’t bother me) It was so nice and simple to just be able to spend time with people and talk to them and spend time walking and reading and playing with the dogs. I enjoyed it a lot. Obviously living in a tent for a week isn’t always plain sailing, but other than some damp clothes and the occasional grumbly tumbly (and a sore ankle after climbing Stickle Tarn) it was wonderful.
I’ve always liked camping, or, I have good memories of liking camping- maybe I wasn’t actually so keen as a child, you’d have to ask my parents. Either way it was a really nice trip. We went walking, we were surrounded by beauty, and there was a really nice pub up the road from the campsite!
This week has been a week of reading and watching netflix. Tom moved house this week. Not properly, just he got his keys and we’ve all been over there to have a good look. It’s a really nice place, he has a lovely little room, with an ensuite and it’s going to look really cool when it’s all done and he’s all moved in. It’s made me excited for my new place. I know that I have to move back to my parent’s house first, but I can’t wait to get in there and start making it my own. I want to bring all of my plants and put up fairy lights and just have my things there. It’s going to be lovely and cosy.
I will actually be moving at the start of next week. Back home, and there will be a book cull. I have SO many books at my parent’s house, and I have to give them a good cull. I know there are some book people that keep every book they own forever, but I can’t do that. I have this idea that the way that I will die is being buried to death by an avalanche of books. Probably after they’ve been pushed over by my cat. Because I’m exactly that kind of person. But I won’t let that happen. My bookcases will be properly secured to the wall and my books will be limited to a manageable number. I can’t do much about the cat, cats will do what cats will do. If you follow me on Instagram you might see some of the process, I have a LOT of books to get through, as well as organising my entire bedroom again now that I’m moving back home, so that might be interesting. (Or at least amusing, when you see the state of my shelves)
I normally post these on Friday, but last Friday I was packing everything I owned into boxes and bags and sending it home to my parent’s house. So I didn’t really have much time. Moving house is a weird thing. It’s almost humbling to see your whole life in boxes, and when you’re packing it all up and you have to fit it into one car (and one small trailer) you have to decide what stays and what goes. Do you really need that dress that looks almost identical to that other dress? Do you really need all of these books? What is important to you?
It brings to mind all that stuff about minimalism again. I’m very aware that I wouldn’t be considered as a minimalist because of the sheer amount of stuff that I own, but it is interesting to think about which items that I own are bringing me enough joy to keep carting them around the country, and which ones don’t make the cut. It’s interesting to learn about yourself that way. I learned that I don’t need all of my books; the ones that I haven’t read, or will not read. I have learned that I can make do with a lot less clothes than I currently own. I have learned that I cannot do without my plants and the books that I do read/will read again. I have learned that I refuse to go without my nice skin cream that I use for my skin condition. I could use a cheaper cream, but I don’t want to. The cream that I use has a touch of luxury about it, it has a nice scent, it is not tested on animals, and I buy it from a company that I don’t mind giving my money too. My morals are something that mean something to me, and so I will continue to buy that cream that is a little on the expensive side, and instead save the money from all the clothes that I don’t need to buy.
So I’m still a student. I got the email the other day saying that I’m able to re-sit my third year so I’m just taking some time to let that piece of information settle in and find its place in my brain. i bought some books to celebrate. Cheap ones from The Book Depository, but good ones nonetheless. Or at least I hope that they will be good! I have high hopes. The first one arrived today and it’s a sort of sequel to the one I’m reading right now, so it’ll be good to be able to start reading it as soon as I finish what I’m reading. Which is what I have been doing this entire week. I have been reading Homo Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and The View From The Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. Both are non-fiction and I’m enjoying them immensely. The first is a history of humankind; a biological, anthropological, sociological view of humans throughout the life of our species. The second is a collection of speeches and essays that Neil Gaiman has written on a variety of subjects, mainly pertaining to fictions that he and other people have written. I have really enjoyed reading them alongside each other because the Gaiman book illustrates rather nicely a lot of the ideas in the Harari book. Harari discusses the ‘Thing’ that separates humans from other animals, and concludes that it is our capability to imagine.
To create fictions is inherently human (on this planet). It has been argued that language is the answer to what separates us from other animals, but scientists have proved that other animals use language. It has been theorised that it could be currency, but aside from the fact that other animals trade items, money is something that emerged from our root ability to imagine. I can’t explain it as well as in the book, so it’s something that I recommend you all to read. Fiction and imagining things extends from telling stories around the fire, to the imagining of big corporations as entities separate from the people that work for them. It’s a big business, this imagining thing.
These last couple of weeks I have been working on confrontation. I don’t find confrontation easy, I don’t think many people do, but I seem to have a bit of an issue with it. I have to work really hard at confronting problems and not running away from them. Small things will upset me and my first instinct is to shut down and avoid them completely. So I’ve been working on not bottling things up, it only ever causes trouble. Sometimes that means that arguments happen, or difficult discussion, but I’d rather that these days. It’s better in the long run. And so I’m saying this because I’m proud of myself. It’s hard work to re-train how I think and react to everything. So although I’m still not very good at it, I’m proud of my little self.
I read Frogkisser! by Garth Nix this week and really enjoyed it. It’s important to remember that it is aimed at children though. I’ve read a lot of bad reviews comparing it to his other books that are aimed at an older audience, and frankly, I don’t think they were fair. It’s a children’s book and the main criticism was that it was too simplistic in both plot and character development. Whilst it IS simplistic in these areas, I don’t think it’s outrageous to have a simplistic plot for a seven year old reader. It wasn’t a patronising read, it didn’t assume that children were stupid and could ‘only understand so much’, it seemed to introduce them to ideas and words that they may not have come across, whilst giving them a fun story to read at the same time. A story that was at their level of understanding without treating them like children- many children’s books have a nasty habit of patronising children and not challenging them at all in the name of ‘they’re children, they won’t understand’. That’s one of my biggest bug bears. (I also, incidentally, don’t like the phrase ‘bug bears’)