Since I wrote last month I actually used up the ink in a few pens. Woo! Enthralling stuff. Such a life I lead. Is it just me that loves stationery? It’s always a nice feeling using a fresh notebook or a nice new pen. I know that it’s not just me, I know it, but it does still make me feel a bit weird when I actually get a little teensy thrill out of new stationery. Chalk it up to being a bit of a word nerd.
One thing that I’ve been enjoying more lately is spending more time with Ash. She often turns up in these blog posts, she’s great. It’s nice to have a friend that I can spend a lot of time with and not get too tired. We go for coffee and just have a chat which is nice. I can have coffee now. With the medication that I’m on I don’t get the caffeine jitters after only one cup of coffee, so that’s a positive thing.
I always seem to write about what I’ve been watching on Netflix in these, so I’m just going to roll with it and make it a thing. This month I have been watching Riverdale. I know that I’m a bit late on that one, but I was a bit concerned that it would just be one of those annoying teen shows. I actually thought it was pretty good, the first season is better than the second one so far, but season two hasn’t finished yet so I can’t judge it too harshly till it’s over. I like it though, some of the characters that we’re supposed to like are a bit stupid *cough-Archie-cough* but a lot of that is that the characters are teenagers, they’re allowed to be stupid and flawed, most teenagers can be stupid at times. It’s good characterisation regardless of whether the character is annoying to me personally or not. Jughead and Betty are my favourites though, I like that they
Since I last wrote I visited Chester and had a lovely time, I ate my advent calendar one chocoloate at a time (and on the correct days), came home for Christmas, went to Ikea, and you know, did Christmas. It’s been a nice little holiday. For the last few months I’ve really been struggling with my mental health and particularly with feeling guilty for not being better. I find it difficult to accept that although I fought really hard for my place at university and succeeded, I am most likely going to fail the year because of my mental health. It makes me feel guilty because I know that other people worked really hard and vouched for me to stay at uni, and yet here I am failing anyway. In hindsight I should have suspended for another year to let myself get better, but I didn’t think that I needed it. I thought that I would be okay with just the summer, but alas, it is still a problem. But I have to remember that I HAVE got SO much better. It just takes more time than a few months! I haven’t had a panic attack in such a long time now though, so I’m definitely making progress. I suppose that I have to stop feeling guilty for prioritising my health, because when you phrase it like that it seem obvious that that’s exactly what I should be doing.
Autumn is on its way out and Winter is coming! I did try to resist the Christmas spirit, but I actually don’t care anymore. It’s Christmas! (nearly) and this year I don’t feel like waiting until December to get festive. So my fairy lights have been set to Twinkle and I am happily eating a mince pie while I write this.
The best thing about this time of year is the food. I love Chrsitmas food. Lebkuchen, stollen, speculaas, apparently all the german food. Mince pies are pretty good too, and all of the food that you eat when it’s cold. Stews and soups and pies and all of that good stuff. It makes you feel all warm and snuggly inside. I’ve probably been overdoing it a bit on the Christmas food since I last wrote, but I don’t care, it’s tasty and festive and I can eat what I want.
I went on a visit to York for Alex’s grandad’s 90th birthday, which was lovely. We went for a meal and then I stayed for a while. It was nice to have a break and see everyone again. We went around the Christmas markets, which are deceptively small in York. I remember going when I was little, and it seemed so much bigger then, but perhaps that’s because I was much smaller! I bought some lovely handmade gloves on the market, which was great because that’s actually what I went for. They’re lovely and warm, knitted gloves with fleece lining. I like them a lot. They go quite well with my yellow scarf, that I am still very much in love with, even though it deposits fluff over everything that it ever comes into contact with. I suppose that’s the price of having a soft scarf. I’ve been knitting a new scarf aswell, it’s a beautiful purple colour and it makes me happy to see it growing as I spend more time on it. I’ve always liked knitting things that are simple like that because I don’t have to worry about incresing or decreasing stitches, that’s where I usually make mistakes as my concentration slips. It can be almost meditative to knit scarves, even cable knit ones like the one I’m making. It’s nice.
Sorry about that, I’ve been busy. This last week was reading week at uni, which essentially is a week without lectures so that you can get some reading done and catch up/ get ahead before essays are set and deadline season begins. I didn’t do as well as I wanted on that front, but I did get a chunk of reading done, so it wasn’t too bad. On the other side of things, Alex came for a visit this last week and it has been really nice. He came up at the weekend and then we went out for Halloween! This year we had drinks at my place beforehand because hey, we don’t live together any more! It was quite weird, but it was nice too. My place is quite small, but it was nice to actually have the room full of people and music and Halloween decorations. I was an evil pixie/demon/devil thing this year. (Essentially, I wore a black dress with some red wings from Poundland with lots of red eyeshadow as countour all over my face.) It was a good night. I’m getting older though, the hangovers are getting a bit more disruptive these days, I may have to reassess what my alcohol limit is!
I watched Dallas Buyers Club for the first time. I cried. I don’t think you understand. I cried A LOT. Do you remember when I watched RENT for the first time? I cried that much. And this time I was in a public cinema, not even in my bedroom watching a film with my partner. I literally had tears spilling off my face and by the end of the film my entire face was wet, also the sleeves of my jumper. It was really really good. The screening was part of a film festival that my university does every year that is about education of mental health issues. (we’ll talk more about that later) and was followed by a short discussion about the topics and the film in general. It was a very good thing. I wouldn’t say that it was a good experience, or rewarding or any of those sorts of things, they don’t seem like appropriate words. It was enlightening, I suppose is a more appropriate word. The film is about a man in America who contracts HIV. It follows his life from slightly before his diagnosis and then afterwards. The story is ostensibly about the struggles of Americans to find and fund the medications that they need in order to recover, and simply live with HIV. It shows how the FDA and big pharma only look out for themselves and their businesses, rather than caring about the patients that they are selling the drugs to. This film is set in the past, but things have not changed much today. These things are companies, they are looking to make a profit and they will charge as much as they think that they can for the life-saving drugs that people need. If a person has something like HIV, a condition that can only be managed, not cured (as of yet) they can charge whatever they want. I did learn that today, in the UK, people who are diagnosed will have a normal life expectancy, but those people who contracted HIV in the past have a much lower life expectancy because of the number of drugs they have, effectively, been testing over the years. The long term effects of those medications are not yet known about as even now we are still learning what happens to long-time survivors. That aspect of the film makes me angry. HIV sufferers need these drugs and they’re dying every day from lack of access because of healthcare systems and the commercialisation and privatisation of them. They literally cannot afford to stay alive.
The last couple of weeks have been nice. It’s been nice to take some time to really settle in and figure out some new routines. I’ve been drinking lots of water and eating a lot of fruit. I’ve got used to the sound of loud trains going past in the middle of the night. I’ve left the flat almost every single day and that’s been tiring, but really good. If you didn’t already know, the outside is good for you. It feels like it’s properly Autumn now, it’s been cold and rainy with the occasional sunshiney day and it’s wonderful. It would be even better if I had a proper coat rather than just jackets here with me, but I’ll go home soon and get them. Ash gave me some fairy lights that she wasn’t using, so my room is lovely and cosy now. I’ve cracked out the autumn candles too because they smell like coffee and caramel and my kitchen is in my bedroom. It’s good to get rid of cooking smells. (And to replace them with more food smells…)
I have moved house, finally! I moved into a studio flat in student accommodation and it’s actually really lovely. I have my own little kitchen and my own little bathroom and it’s really nice to have this space to myself without having to share it in the slightest. It is nice to have my own self-contained little place that I can make my own for the next year. Ashleigh is just across the road and on my second night here I popped over for a brew, which was nice because I didn’t have a kettle until my third day. As I write this, my boxes are strewn around me after a visit from my parents and all I did was stop to get my kettle and my mugs unpacked. I have a lovely cup of tea.
I’m not looking forward to going back to uni and lectures over much, but I suppose that’s what I’m here for and I only have one year left. I’ve already started on all of my reading and making notes on some of the books, I started over the summer so that I could get at least a little bit of a head start. Being on a dual honours English course makes for a lot of reading each week, so I’m glad that I did that for future me. I’m sure that she’ll be grateful. I know her pretty well, and I think she’ll be pretty grateful at any rate. (If you want to know what books I’ve been reading this month and what I thought about them, come back on Friday for the monthly book chat)
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!