Come Back

1

            The steel is cold against my face, hands, and feet because they are bare. I am lying on my right side, legs splayed. My left arm is in front on my face, the hand palm down. My right arm is behind my back, the hand on its side. My face is resting on the steel. I blink several times, to adjust to the dimly lit room. The wall in front of me is also steel. I tilt my head and confirm my suspicions that the ceiling is also steel.

Eventually I twist myself into a sitting position and two facts settle in. Firstly, the remaining three walls are also steel. Secondly, there are no windows or doors. The room is familiar to me, more familiar than who I am. Looking down I see I’m dressed in a loose fitting shirt, with elastic bands on the wrists and waist. The pants are of identical material with elastics at the ankles and hips. They are cream and soft. It is apparent to me that I am female. I reach to my head to find thick curly hair. Even with all this information, I still do not know who I am, or my purpose in my steel room.

My investigation of the room reveals there are small lights which jut out along the  edge of each wall in a square. There are 50 on each side I count, which means there are 1,200 in total. I discover that out of the 1,200 white lights there are two anomalies. One, is on the ceiling in a corner. It is black and it pulls out to reveal wires attached. I feel someone must be monitoring me. The second anomaly is a red bulb, on the bottom of my box. It does not move.

I know this because when I touch it for prolonged periods of time, I fall into a vision.

The hallway of the hotel feels as though it goes on forever due to my slightly drunken state. My black dress and high heels make me feel beautiful, it’s my birthday. I need to get my phone from the hotel room so I can take pictures of my friends and family on my special day. I’m aware there is someone with me in the brightly lit hotel hall and I feel uncomfortable. I don’t want that person there. The door to room refuses to open, as I struggle with the key card. I wish I’d accepted Rupert’s offer to come with me. All the while my mind protests the presence of the stranger.

At this point each time I pull my fingers off the bulb.

***

            Lying on the floor I consider my situation. I should feel discomfort but I do not. I do not feel hunger, or the need to relieve myself. 7 seconds could be 7 hours could be 7 weeks. As I stare at the ceiling I see something different. Little horizontal slits in the steel. They were not there on my first investigation. I stand up and while running my fingers along the slits, I notice my nails are stained with colour. When I push at the slits they move upwards in a diagonal motion revealing a window to outside.

A gentle breeze floats through my box and I remember how much I love fresh air. I can see trees and the blue sky through my small window slits. For a time I listen to the trees rustle in the breeze, feel the air on my skin, smell the potent sap, and I am content. I do not know how long I stand there, until my sensory experience is broken by a tiny bird landing on one of the metal slits which poke out into the world. They drop something into my box which I don’t immediately pick up. I am too enthralled by this exquisite little creature. The bird is brown with a cream chest dotted with darker specks. Its little black beak sings, and the small ruffled feathers on its head vibrate in the wind. It moves in the quick way unique to birds and my trance is broken when it flies off. I am saddened by the loss of my avian friend.

The bird had left me a key. It’s bronze with a round head and nothing engraved on it. It looks new, as though it’s freshly cut and never used. Once again I carefully investigate my box, lit more naturally now by the window, but find no key hole. I hold it in my palm, it becomes warm through heat conduction. Eventually it dawns on me what needs to be done. I placed the key in the tight waist band of my pants, and lay on my right side. I reach out my left hand, gently using my thumb, forefinger, and middle finger, I grasp the red bulb.

            The hallway of the hotel feels as though it goes on forever due to my slightly drunken state. My black dress and high heels make me feel beautiful, it’s my birthday. I need to get my phone from the hotel room so I can take pictures of my friends and family on my special day. I’m aware there is someone with me in the brightly lit hotel hall and I feel uncomfortable. I don’t want that person there. The door to room refuses to open, as I struggle with the key card. I wish I’d accepted Rupert’s offer to come with me. All the while my mind protests the presence of the stranger.

They wrestle the key card out of my hand and push me through the now open door. I am screaming for Rupert and stranger grabs me by the throat until I can barely breath. I pull at their hands, desperately trying to avoid their eyes. I feel pain in my head. They’ve hit me with something heavy. The hot blood flows down my head and my heart is pounding. The pain is deafening, I can think of nothing else. They force me onto the bed. The room is swimming, and the pain is excruciating, my vision blurs…

2

I heave with sobs. The fear pumps cortisol around my body, my stomach churns with a mixture of anger and shame. My face is wet from tears and sweat, my hands and feet are cold. I grab my hair to have something to hold onto. I scream and the sound is flat in my little steel box. I slam my right fist onto the ground, with a dull thud, and eventually the tears subside. When my vision clears and I can see once again, there is a steel handle in the middle of the floor. The kind of handle they have on doors for cellars or shelters. I scoot over the floor to investigate. There is now a vein of gaps in a rectangle around the handle and just underneath it, there is a keyhole. My breathing has regulated and my hands are quivering, but no longer from fear. I reach for the key in my waist band. Concentrating with all my might, pushing the vision from my mind, I slip the key into the lock. It fits perfectly and turns without resistance.

I open the small trap door to find a ladder which reaches down about 20 feet, and see a room below. While I can see some further steel around the ladder and on the floor of the room below, I can’t see much else from the perch in my box. I glance back to the red bulb, which is now white, glowing like the rest. I clamber down the ladder, my legs returning to normal after the shock. The rungs are cold on my hands and feet. Air from the window slowly blows through the short tunnel and into the room beneath. The ladder stops at the mouth, I use my arms until the last rung, then gently drop down onto the steel floor.

I stand surveying the room. It is huge compared to my box, around 3 times the size. It is filled with computers, storage units, and machines. Most of them are lifeless. They do not respond to any of my efforts to switch them on. Eventually I find a computer which does. I sit on a small office swivel chair the same grey as the walls. The computer wakes and requires a password, without hesitation I type:

Artist85Life

            The background picture is a beautiful and familiar garden. There is only one folder labelled ‘messages’. I double-click it revealing 6 files labelled 1 – 6. I double click file 1. It opens a video of a man. He is wearing a deep blue shirt and pants, with a utility belt around his waist. His dark skin perfectly complements his lovely brown eyes. He smiles at me and says cheerfully, “Hi Laura!” My name is Laura. “My name is Laura?” I mumble. He grimaces into a sad smile as though he’s heard me, his eyes soften. I trust him, he is a friend. “I’m Rupert the repairman, and I’m trying to fix the machinery in here. I was hoping you could help me Laura, so I thought I’d send you some messages.”

I smile, glad that he did, realising how lonely I’d been in my box. Rupert’s familiar voice is music to me. “It’s just a theory of mine that I can fix the machinery here in the shelter by sending certain files to you to interpret.” I cocked my head to the right, not understanding him. “Don’t worry Laura, you’re the expert on what I need help with. You knew the password for this computer, which is one step ahead of me!” He smiled and it warms me. His handsome face is not only familiar, but beloved to me.

“Ok so file number 2 is a video like the rest. When you’re done, open file 3 and I’ll give you further instructions. See you soon, hopefully!” He winked and with a charming smile he clicked off. I breathed deeply, readied myself for the next message, and doubled clicked file 2. It was a news report in an art gallery. The pieces on the walls are colourful, modern interpretations of natural landscapes. Trees aren’t just green and brown, they are purple and red. The skies are a plethora of blues, oranges, and yellows. Flowers flourish on the canvases, the hyperrealism is entrancing. The reporter begins speaking. “This artist struggled for many years, her story is one of hard work and perseverance. A career 15 years in the making. Please tell me sir are you planning on purchasing one of these pieces?” The microphone was thrust under the mouth of none other than Rupert! “Absolutely, and I would love to meet the beautiful soul who created these pieces.” The reporter smiled, “well you’re in luck, we are here with the artist Laura Mockingbird. Laura, tell us what was like getting to this point in your career?”

I paused the video on the reporter and the woman who had just walked into frame. This was me, Laura Mockingbird. What a funny name. Long brown curly locks, startling blue eyes, slim frame, and a messy style. The smile on my face was one of pure joy. I pressed play and listened to my own voice. “That’s very kind of you sir, I would be happy to discuss any of my pieces with you.” I turn to the reporter, “it’s one of those journeys of enduring hope. Keep creating, just focus on the process not the end result. When it’s time, you’ll be found.” The reporter smiled signing off and sending the story back to the studio. The video ended here.

In a daze I doubled clicked file 3. Rupert’s lovely face appeared once more. “Hi Laura!” He proclaimed. “Whatever you’re doing keep at it, the machines are lighting up like fireworks. Have a look!” I turned to the room to see flashing lights of green, blue, and red. The machines hummed, grinded, and clicked. “Try the next file, we’ll have this problem licked before the end of working day. See you soon.” In a trance I dragged the mouse over to file 4 with some difficulty. Another video popped up, filmed on a camera phone. Me in a black dress, celebrating with friends and family in a restaurant. “That’s my mother,” my frazzled brain offered, as they applauded me. “I would like to thank you wonderfully supportive people, for being here on such a special birthday for me. My adventure as an artist has been arduous to say the least. I want to shower you all with my gratitude. Without your love, the well of my inspiration would have run dry. Here’s to you all.” The video ended with the clicking of champagne flutes, and myself and Rupert smiling madly at each other. My mind became increasingly foggy. It took me a painfully long time to open file 5.

“Hello Laura, we are doing fantastic,” Rupert’s emphasis on fantastic was encouraging. “Most of the machines are up and running again. We have one file to go, and hopefully we’ll see you soon. Be brave, you’re so strong.” The video ended with his sunny smile. I was more light-headed and detached which each video. All the same I dragged the mouse slowly to the 6th and final file. The video nearly floored me. It was me in a hospital bed. My Mother Daphne, was by my side, holding a hankie to her face, tears welling. My brother David stood by her waving at the camera, “we love you Laura, we want you to wake up more than anything!” My mother offered, “You’re such a strong woman Laura, you’ve always been, it’s time to wake up please.” She managed this between sobs.

The camera turned to Rupert’s lovely face, “hi Laura, It’s Rupert. We hope by playing videos of your wonderful life to you, you might want to wake up. We can’t stand the thought of beautiful talent like you going to waste in a deep sleep. I know we haven’t been together long, but I’m not ready to give up if you’re not.” My head swam with memories. Of my mother inspiring me while I learned to paint. Playing with my brother in the beautiful woods behind our home. Meeting Rupert at my first art exhibition. Our first few exciting dates. My birthday celebration. Being attacked in my hotel room. Rupert’s encouraging voice from my bedside. I closed my eyes.

***

When I opened them again, I was in a hospital bed. My mother’s elegant face was filled with joy as she clasped my hand. David was clapping and cheering, tears in his eyes. Rupert’s handsome face was alight. My new love for him came flooding back and I sobbed, “Rupert, how long was I gone?” He smiled brilliantly, “too long my love.”

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

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https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/shadow-self/

Introducing My Anxiety – Part I

I am sitting outside my boyfriend’s house, willing myself to get out of the car. Meeting new people always made me nervous but today, it’s debilitating. I am furious with myself. “Just open the door, and go inside, you’re being completely stupid,” I say this out loud. The malice in my own voice causes me to cry. I battle with myself, between getting out of the car or asking for help. Thankfully, I opt for the latter. I ring my mother, and her gentle voice comes through, “hiya honey, everything ok?” The poor woman, I am talking so incoherently she cannot understand a word I’m saying. The sobs are so loud I know I must be scaring her, but I cannot convey myself coherently.

I jump as my boyfriend knocks on my passenger side window, “everything ok?” He mouths through the glass. The best I can manage is to unlock the car, because everything is certainly not ok. He gets in the car, “love what’s wrong, did something happen?” On the phone I hear my mother asking me to give him the phone. He accepts and his face goes from concern, to understanding. My mother is telling him what she suspects is wrong, and how to deal with it. He nods making affirming sounds, then eventually hangs up. He goes through the process of winding down my panic attack. Eventually, I feel able to leave the car, and enter the house.

My body is exhausted, and my mind is cloudy for days afterwards. This affects everything, especially my work. This panic attack was the beginning of a breakdown.

***

Hello friends, welcome to this safe space. Do elements of that story sound familiar to you? It happened to me just like that. One minute I was driving to my boyfriend’s house, the next I couldn’t get out of my car. While this appeared to be a spontaneous occurrence, it didn’t come out of nowhere. The event that triggered the panic attack was just a final straw. Some of you may think, “poor weak-minded girl,” and that’s what you’re taught to think. It’s not the truth though. Present me knows this, but the girl sitting in that car, would have agreed with you, through her sobs.

I have come to realise that at the time, my generalized anxiety disorder (which I had yet to be diagnosed with)[i], was exacerbated by a simple act: Suppression. I would suppressed anger, I would suppressed jealousy, I would suppressed sadness, because these were not productive emotions. If I felt anger, instead of stopping to process why I felt the anger, I would push it away. Anger is for people who are not forward thinking, there is no reason to be angry just because someone cut you up on the motorway.

So, these emotions felt neglected, because they are tangible entities. Just because you suppress your emotions doesn’t mean they disappear. You need to understand why you’re feeling them, before they will be sated. Believe me, I learned this the hard way. The very hard way.

I am writing this blog for fun, but it also helps me distinguish my thoughts by giving them life on paper. I have been a writer for as long as I can remember (and maybe I’ll put up some really old stuff for the laugh later), but at the moment this blog is therapeutic. I know it’s right to understand that I’m not perfect. I will make mistakes, and I’m not weak because of my generalized anxiety disorder. For me to really believe this though, I have to see it here. In black in white, in words learned from my life, in concepts gifted to me by insightful people.

When I finally accepted that I needed help, and went to a counselor, I experienced such an awakening. My 10 year struggle was finally recognised. She legitimised my experience, so I didn’t feel like a fraud.  My depressive episodes were born of my anxiety, resulting in exhaustion of my body and mind. She seen right through my veil. She told me once that while describing some of the most painful moments in my life, I would look up and smile, because I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable.

If you are feeling any of this, or you are seeing a loved one struggling, there are infinite ways to get help. My GP put me on a course of anti-depressants, and my therapist gave me exercises. The goal was to be kinder to myself, and to be unafraid of being imperfect. Failure is the best teacher (I believe the great Jedi Master Yoda himself said this). I will write more about this topic in the future because it is necessary. Do not view yourself or loved ones who are suffering as weak, see them as being too strong, and in need of help. There are some resources below, and there are many resources in your life you might not even realise. Your friends and family may not know how to engage with you. They might see you struggling and not know what to do. No one is perfect, and we will not all have perfect reactions to mental illnesses.

I will also leave you with a  before and after photo, of someone who woke up one morning and said, no more. She said, “please I need help”. She has now realised that this is not only ok, but it is necessary. There is one woman smiling, through pain, her smile is a mask. The other is smiling, because she is joyful and happy to be at work on a Wednesday morning. Maybe you can’t notice the difference, but I can.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/need-help-now/

https://www.samaritans.org/your-community/samaritans-ireland-scotland-and-wales/samaritans-ireland

 

 

[i] https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/generalized-anxiety-disorder#1

“When She Was Bad.”

Episode Name: “When She Was Bad.”
Season: 2
Episode: 1
Writer(s): Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon

 

Quote of the Episode:

Buffy Summers: “You’re a vampire *pauses*… oh I’m sorry is that an offensive term, should I say Undead-American?!”

Screenshot of the Episode:
When she was bad
When she was bad

Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg

Summary:

Buffy returns after summer with some serious issues. Her friends are confused, her Watcher is concerned, and her ‘not-friend’ Cordelia, tactful as ever, tells her to, “get over it.” It would seem her death at the hands of The Master in the previous season is playing on her mind. Who would have thought?

Analysis:

Interpretation of popular culture can be read like rich text. Culture is not contained in laws which are easily distinguishable, it is through enacting culture that we understand it. “Culture is public because meaning is.”[i] My training is in anthropology and this is how I have been taught to interpret. The presence of meaning in a pop culture offering, is a result of the writer, consciously or unconsciously, placing it there.[ii] The meaning is derived from cultural webs of significance.[iii] These cultural cues are easily processed by our brains and can be explained by Captain America saying, “I understood that reference.”[iv]

Buffy enters the season by slaying a vampire, as this is what she was chosen to do. Yet one of the first thing she says to Giles is, “You’re the Watcher, I just work here.” Later on in the season Kendra (another slayer)[1] will say to her, “you act like slaying is your job. It’s who you are.” If we were all handed our vocations at birth, could we avoid years of struggle as we try find out where we fit? It would appear that this is not something we should want. Buffy, the chosen one, with preternatural strength

When she was bad
When she was bad

and fitness, doesn’t want to be the slayer. When we choose, our lives are richer. “Analysis of pop culture narratives can show how people and nation-states imagine their roles in the world.”[v] Viewing this through a socio-political lens, I cannot help but think of the millions of humans forced into lives they didn’t choose. Humanity’s deepest wish, is to have a choice. When we are without choice, we are not given a fair chance at life.

It would be remiss of me not to address Buffy’s obvious signs of post-traumatic stress disorder which causes the discontent in this episode. According to Mark Field, “Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real phenomenon, and we see some here with Buffy. This will natWillowGilesXanderS2E1urally isolate her even from her friends.”[vi] In the previous season, she dies at the hands of The Master, and her mortality washes over her. There are several reactions to this. To her parents she seems distant, while they feel her emotional pain, they can’t address it. They don’t know what has happened to her, demonstrated especially by Joyce’s concern, “I haven’t been able to get through to her for so long.” Angel and Giles seem more aware that she has issues, however Giles handles it better than Angel.

Willow, while young and seemingly childish, is concerned. Her love for her friend circumvents her jealously during that horrific dance scene. (You know the one)[2]. She thinks Buffy must have been possessed by “a possessing thing,” bCiboMattoecause her
friend couldn’t possible behave in such a cruel way. She is the kind of friend who vindicates her fellow females, instead of degrading them. Willow represents the kind of friend and feminist we all need to be.

The person who acts inappropriately? Xander. Whedon needed someone to represent how people normally react when someone hurts us. Xander’s behaviour is indefensible as he highlights a foul trait of humanity. Hate and anger may have protected our species in its infancy, but the correct response to someone having a hard time should be love. Not the vitriol Xander displays when Buffy returns after she realises her mistake. Xander also goes as far to say he will kill Buffy if something bad happens to Willow. Yet later in the CordyS2E1season he will date Cordelia secretly, knowing this could hurt Willow, and it does. His character flaws expose the shadow traits of humanity throughout the show. He is often used as the scapegoat, for the wrong way to act.

 

Now let’s talk Principal Snyder. Yes we hate him, but he often offers the comic relief for balance. This is the product of wonderful acting by Armin Shimerman. Snyder, represents the authoritarian state by saying, “In their relentless pointless desire to exist.” It reflects the fear we all have of an authoritarian government controlling ‘the masses.’ The oppressive weight of who you are, versus what ‘they’ wish you to be. Of course when you are in high school (secondary school) you feel the weight of authority. There is a constant battle to be yourself. When a figure in authority says “pointless desire to exist” Whedon is trying to bare the world’s harsh underbelly. We should be strong and fight, but we must remember that the world will be relentlessly unfair.

Angel offers this nugget, “Don’t’ underestimate the anointed one just because he looks like a child, he has power over the rest of them, they’ll do anything for him.” Buffy is constantly underestimated throughout the show because of her youth. Yet she commands such loyalty, even at the hands of death, from her ‘scoobies.’ The youth of society, should not be so undervalued.

Free.What lessons have we learned? Kindness, compassion, and understanding. When someone we care about is acting out by saying and doing hurtful things, do not immediately go to an angry place. We don’t know what is happening within the minds of others. We should not make their suffering more intense than it needs to be.

The final scene of this episode ends with the Anointed One saying in exasperation, “I hate that girl.” However Buffy’s final scene with Giles is the most telling, “Buffy you acted wrongly I’ll admit that but believe me, that was hardly the worst mistake you’ll every make.” This truth reoccurs throughout the series with Buffy making a number of mistakes and hard choices. The result of which causes havoc to the group dynamics. It even results in a death. However while these words from Giles comes across to Buffy as inappropriate, to me it is comforting. We are all human, and to error is human. Forgive, not just others, but ourselves, and then try to do better. When in doubt, talk it out. If that fails, “grind your enemies into talc”.

When she was bad
When she was bad

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Source Material:

“When She Was Bad.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer , season 2, episode 1, The WB, September 15, 1997.

[1] The presence of another slayer is the result of Buffy’s death in the first season. There has never been 2 slayers before, as no slayer has ever been revived.

[2] The one when Buffy dances with Xander inappropriately, saying “Did I ever thank you for saving my life?” To which he replies, “no,” her response? “Don’t you wish I would.”

______________________________________________________________________________

[i] Geertz, Clifford. 1973. “The Interpretation of Cultures.” Basic Books.

[ii] McEvoy-Levy, Siobhán. 2018. “Peace & Resistance in Youth Cultures: Reading The Politics of Peacebuilding From Harry Potter to The Hunger Games.” Palgrave & Macmillan.

[iii]Geertz, Clifford. 1973. “The Interpretation of Cultures.” Basic Books.

[iv] Whedon, Joss ; Penn, Zak. 2012. “The Avengers.” Marvel Studios & Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

[v]McEvoy-Levy, Siobhán. 2018. “Peace & Resistance in Youth Cultures: Reading The Politics of Peacebuilding From Harry Potter to The Hunger Games.” Palgrave & Macmillan.

[vi] Field, Mark. 2013. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Myth, Metaphor, and Morality.” Amazon Digital Services LLC.

Want more information? Check out the Buffy Category Explained:

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/buffy-category-explained/

Buffy Category Explained

It is simple. Once a month, I will upload a post, analysing one episode. This will not be chronological, I am randomly selecting an episode each month to review. The reasons for this is to avoid forcing themes or make the reviews fit a format. We are what we write, and I want to find that in the scripts.

Now I am already aware of several problems with Buffy so you can comment if you like, but I will only respond to constructive criticism. Firstly, yes I know that certain races and demographics are seriously underrepresented in this show. However, this is not an excuse, but the show began in 1996 and ended in 2003.

Second, people get mad because they killed the lesbian. They feel this is a personal attack on them. Whedon already addressed this, he didn’t kill her because she was gay, he killed her so Willow would go insane. There was no other reason she would.  They were one of the first gay couples on television. We have to start somewhere. (Plus they loved working with Amber Benson).

Buffy paved the way for women in television. It was a female-dominated cast. The women were strong emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. They weren’t all scantily clad, skinny, or fake. There were real women for us to related to and see ourselves echoed in.

This is a project I’ve felt like doing for a long time. Hopefully, it will be as much fun for you to read as it is for me to write it. Please do realise, there will be *HUGE SPOILERS.* The first episode I review could literally be the final episode. So if you haven’t watched Buffy, there are two things you need to do: 1. Re-evaluate your priorities, 2. GO WATCH IT!

Finally shows like Buffy express a way of living, a unique philosophy. Using character flaws as blank canvases for growth. We can learn a lot from Buffy, popular culture is renowned for reflecting society as commentary. It allows us to think about who we are, and who we want to be.

“The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it. Be brave, for me.” – Buffy, Season 5. Episode 22. The Gift.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

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https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/09/buzzword-sustainability/

Buzzword… Sustainability!

Sustainability!

Buzzword…Sustainability! Say it with me, sussss-tainnnnn-aaaaa-bility. It fills us with shame, doesn’t it? It makes you feel like you did when you were watching television instead of doing your pesky math homework. You are not alone friend! I am there. It began when I was little and I realised I could bring my cereal boxes to school to be recycled. How amazing, they grind up the cardboard, the teacher told me, and use it again. This would save trees and as a great lover of trees (don’t laugh they provide our oxygen), this fascinated me. My parents smiled, supportive as always, and designated a special box in the garage for the recyclables.

Fast forward the tape (I’m a child of the 90’s and VHS is bae), I’m a fully grown woman and my concerns regarding the environment now extend to my career choices. I wrote my Master’s thesis on sustainable alternatives to food sources (I know I’m just great aren’t I?) My PhD studies evolved into farming networks and investigating topics such as propensity for farmers to adopt sustainable practices or adaptions to climate change. Yet still, I feel like a hypocrite, for a plethora of reasons. I drive a diesel car, my clothes are all sourced from ethically careless shops and I eat meat every day! It’s overwhelming in a  busy, stressful world, in which we reward ourselves for getting through the week with television and vegetation on a couch. Let me tell you: that is perfectly ok.

So I’m going to take some advice from my sister-in-law from my spousal equivalent.[i] We learn to crawl first before we walk. Small changes are easy. Instead of a large expensive change, we promise to only use reusable cups for our coffee and tea instead of taking café take-away cups. If you’re looking for fun ones try this website, I just got mine there.[ii] Yes, they also have Star Wars themed ones for a limited time, so if you’re a nerd like me, get onto that!

I’ve made a pact with myself that in 2018,  each month I will change one small thing. This is much more achievable than a big jump. When you add many small things together, you get something bigger. Isn’t that what chemistry teaches us? Scientific fact. (My brother, who is an ardent lover of chemistry and studying it right now, looks up, sensing something wrong). So I made a list, and part of me putting it up here is to make myself accountable. If other people have read this, then I have no choice to follow through, or else I’ll look like an idiot. That’s why we put stuff on the internet right?

January 2018:

I designated a separate bin in my bedroom/office. Before I threw all waste into one and it all ended up in our black bin. Which is general waste. As you can imagine most of my rubbish from my bedroom/office is recyclable. This is now just an ingrained practice for me, and I feel that bit better about it.

February 2018:

The goal was to have 2 meat-free days a week, and make this a practice for myself in general. This sounds tough, but to be honest, you forget many dishes you love that don’t need meat. Plus there is an amazing restaurant in my town called Bare Food which does amazing vegetarian and vegan options, so when we are treating ourselves, we pop in there.[iii]

March 2018:

Keep cup time. This is the one I ordered.[iv] It just arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to use it. This is a great website, all the plastic is safe as well. They are really into sustainability and look at their ‘About Us’ page: “Many small acts will make a phenomenal difference.”[v] My kind of people.
IMG_20180321_080850_387

 

 

*Update: Me smiling like a loon with my new Keep Cup. 

 

 

 

April 2018:

Now this is small but over a lifetime will add up. I am an avid reader of National Geographic and I have been subscribed since 2014. This is not like a YouTube subscription, they send actual magazines. Now in fairness when I get the magazines, they are in a simple packet of recycled paper. There is no thin plastic packaging which is notoriously hard to recycle. However, plan to find out more about their magazines and if they are printed sustainably. I will go even further to see if my subscription could be sent to me in softcopy instead of a hard copy. When I look at my piles of National Geographic magazines, gathering dusk, I just think, wouldn’t it be better if I could read my magazine on an e-reader?[vi]

May 2018:

This next part is going to be particularly difficult for me. I love clothes, and I enjoy shops that sell them cheap. However, not only is this bad for the environment, it’s ethically irresponsible. I won’t name any brands, you can find it out for yourself. By May of this year, will only buy:

  1. Clothes from brands that are sustainably sourced, pay their staff a fair wage, and give them safe working conditions.
  2. Buy second hand in charity and thrift shops.
  3. If I need to buy from certain brands, buy quality clothes that I expect to last a long time.

My partner is particularly good at this, he literally buys clothes that last him 10 years. If he likes a hoody he buys it in 3 colours. Which is not only adorable, but good for the environment. If you’re looking for a video to help you with this, Mariza on YouTube has a fantastic video called “Haulternative/ Marzia’s Style.”[vii]

June 2018:

Ok so this is an interesting one, and I have to admit I only realised this recently. That every toothbrush I’ve ever owned, still exists. This makes me sad because I may be only one person, but billions of people go through hundreds of toothbrushes in their lifetime. So my goal for April is to find a company in Ireland that sell wooden toothbrushes. This way, I can keep up my oral hygiene without hurting the planet. Here is just one example of an Irish website that sells bamboo toothbrushes.[viii]

July 2018:

Plastic. Plastic has been one of the most useful inventions of humankind, and it has opened up so many possibilities in various disciplines. Such as healthcare, automobiles, and foodways. The problem is, it’s too sturdy. It doesn’t disintegrate like cardboard or wood it takes 1000s of years to decompose. While it’s decomposing, it releases dangerous chemicals into the soil and food systems. My goal is to use less plastic. So much of our food comes in plastic now. Our household products. Even disposable straws are bad! Sadly huge amounts of this plastic is not recyclable and it just ends up in dumps. I will strive to be more conscious of every product I purchase. If it has plastic that isn’t recyclable, then I will try buy the product that isn’t wrapped in plastic. This will be tough, I know, and it often costs more, but the costs to the environment is greater. It’s hurting our friends in the ocean. Every time I see a picture of a sea animal that’s perished because if the amount of plastic it unknowingly ingested I feel ill.

August 2018:

“Take an hour or so to research some home-made options for natural cleaners. Vinegar and water can clean most surfaces, and the saponin from quinoa is a natural laundry detergent. By using natural cleaners you are reducing the amount of plastic packaging being made, and the amount of chemicals that are being introduced to the water system.”[ix] I have to admit this is always something I’ve always been fascinated with. You can make your own cleaning products at home. (If Monica from friends did it then it must be ok).

September 2018:

My hair. Your hair. All our hair. It’s beautiful, it’s an outlet for creativity, yet we rub chemicals all over it every time we wash and style it. This bit is daunting. Like in August, in which I research natural cleaning products, this month, I will do it for my hair. I do not wash my hair every day, both for water conservation and to avoid my hair drying out. So I feel this is achievable. It will end up being less costly in the end, better for my hair and the environment.

October 2018:

Make sure all the bulbs in our house are LED long life energy saving. This will not only reduce the cost on household electricity it will also reduce the use of fossil fuels. Continually unplugging appliances that are not in use. Keep the heating off and just put on a jumper when I can.

November 2018:

As a member of Amnesty International (Irish branch), the burden of our actions on others in poverty is glaring to me. This month my goal is to read the Amnesty International resource on sustainability and adopt as much as I can from it.[x]

December 2018:

We reach the end of the year. I would love to have less Christmas lights, (my parents love them, and I still live with them so I cannot change that). What I will do is only purchase presents which are sustainably sourced, locally produced, and necessary. I will not buy anything which is novelty or without purpose. I will then prepare for the next year, 2019 looms.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Did you like this post? Sure have a look at my last one:

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/snow-is-evil/

References and Resources:

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-ideas-for-sustainable-living.php

https://bemorewithless.com/project-333/

http://fashionrevolution.org/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/act10/4699/2016/en/

 

[i] Joy Behar said this on The View and now I love her even more.

[ii] https://eu.keepcup.com/?country=Ireland#

[iii] http://thebarefoodcompany.ie/

[iv] http://eu.keepcup.com/keepcup-series/star-wars-series/rey-12oz-brew.html

[v] http://eu.keepcup.com/about-us/

[vi] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/

[vii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jece1QYeADA

[viii] https://littlegreenshop.ie/?product=bamboo-toothbrush

[ix] https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-ideas-for-sustainable-living.php

[x] https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/act10/4699/2016/en/

Snow… is evil…

Snow.

“Ireland is gripped in the worst snow storm it has seen in 36 years!”[i] In fairness there is evidence to back this up, I’m not disputing the accuracy of the headlines, more the panicked frenzy it caused here. Brennan’s bread (sliced loaf to those of you who are unfamiliar with this brand), sold out, along with milk, in multiple supermarkets country wide. My dear friend is referring to it as the Sneachtpocalypse[1] which of course, is in jest. The country is basically closed down for the next couple of days. Seriously, a friend of mine from Portugal was due to fly today to visit, and he had to cancel his trip.

In the midst of the panic though, brought on by the usual unpreparedness of the Irish government and civil services, people are finding some joy. Snowmen are being built, and children along with dogs are experiencing their first snow ever (which could be true if they were born after 2010, our last snow). The general feeling of snow day reigns merry and bright. Some people even broke out their Christmas lights again, no joke, and are enjoying their white Christmas. Each to their own, I guess.

So it is with great tentativeness, (like the time I announced to my boyfriend that I don’t really like pancakes), that I tell you, I hate snow. Honestly, I cannot understand why people over the age of 12 like it. It’s horrible, cold, and wet for one thing. It causes dangerous disruptions to vital services such as healthcare and charities. It also comes in March, when the spring should be here and I should be full of the latter. It is of my opinion that snow should be one of those things, like spiders, that cause a natural unease within our reptilian brain. Snow = bad right? Surely? It would have been hard for our ancestors to find food and suitable shelter. We couldn’t keep fires lit for warmth, while the young and infirm would have died off. So why are we obsessed with this white death when it arrives on our shores? Surely not just because it’s pretty.

Whenever I am stumped by something like this, I consult my friends. The Books and Journals of course. So here is what I found if you are at all interested. You may click away now if you think I will be unbiasedly weighting the pros and cons of snow. In my opinion it’s all CONverse all-stars from here! I have a wonderful tome, (and I mean tome), called “Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference,” by Richard Overy. Now most of this book’s life was spent as a table for my laptop as I sat on bed, or for my straighteners before I got a flame retardant case. However it came in handy today! So regarding Ice Ages, “the human species today is the product of this long process of adaptation to the carried conditions of the Ice Ages.”[ii] According to the book, “the height of the last Ice Age or LGM (last glacial maximum) was reached about 20,000 years ago. As the ice expanded, the human populations contracted into a small number of more favourable habitats.”[iii] Quite rightly so. We are not build to survive such inhospitable weather. So why does the sight of snow storms not cause the existential dread that forced our ancestors to flee to more suitable climes?

Well the book goes on to further say, “Agricultural settlement spread in a broadband from northeast France to southwest Russia on soils produced by the weathering of loess – a highly fertile windblown dust laid down during the Ice Age.”[iv] Ok, touché receptacle of knowledge. Perhaps within the human mind we see snow as the beginning of an era of renewal. A time for the Earth to rejuvenate. So now what?

Most scientist who deal with weather, will tell you, snow is bad. It’s disruptive and people often don’t fully understand the danger it causes, leading to injury and sometimes, death. For example, “Wind chill and cold temperatures can cause exposed skin to freeze very rapidly, leading to frostbite.  Extremely cold conditions can cause hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition.  Protect yourself by taking steps to stay warm when you are outdoors.[v] This comes from a Canadian weather services website and I’m pretty sure Canadians know something about snow.

Does the love of snow come from learned behaviour wherein we ignore our defensive brain, which we do for many other activities. We associate it with winter holidays such as Christmas, and yuletide joy. Children don’t have to go to school, often businesses close and you get a ‘snow day.’ Snow is never as cold when you’re a child then when you reach adulthood. I’m still at a loss, and I know who I sound like. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas I still hate snow though. It causes discomfort and fear deep within me. Plus it’s wet and cold, if you like wet and cold then you’re weird.

So I’ll leave you today with some photographs of my back garden covered in snow, as we experience OUR WORST STORM IN 36 YEARS. *Coughs* Sorry sometimes you feed into the hype. Wherever you are, stay warm and cosy friends!

Jaycee xxx

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Did you like this post? Sure have a look at my last one:

https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/philopsophy-abu/

References:

[1] Sneacth is the Irish word for Snow. So Snowpocalypse essentially.

[i] https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/ireland-met-eireann-snow-storm-12094021

[ii] Overy, Richard. (2004). Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference. Sixth Edition. The Times. Page 34.

[iii] [iii] Overy, Richard. (2004). Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference. Sixth Edition. The Times. Page 34.

[iv][iv] Overy, Richard. (2004). Complete History of the World: The Ultimate Work of Historical Reference. Sixth Edition. The Times. Page 40.

[v] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/seasonal-weather-hazards/winter.html#Snow

 

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