Ginger Rogers
I've had intentions to write a blog post for quite some time now. I was going to write up all those things that happened to me in 2014. Somehow January has already run away from me, and it feels silly to write an end-of-year post now. So I'll skip it.

2014 was awful. I will talk about the numerous ways in which it was awful at a later stage. It will be locked with numerous trigger warnings - let me know if you're desperate to hear about it all.

Part of what possibly made 2014 such a struggle was a lack of a venting mechanism. Which isn't to say that LJ could have prevented much of the negative, just take the edge off perhaps. So the plan is to post more this year. Yes, I know I've said this repeatedly in the past, but I mean it this time. Because last week I turned 29 and I am somewhat freaked out by this. I've been on this planet for 29 years and I have nothing to show for it. I figure that an increase in emotional stability will lead to a greater capacity for achieving... well, anything. So that's my new goal. To have achieved something by the time I'm 30. Be it a healthy weight, a steady job, my own place... you know, something.

Mind you, there is *something* which I have done and I'd like to be able to point at it and go "yay me" but right now I can't because of... things. *sigh* Damn it. I even start to try and be positive and then I remember another thing that is rubbish. Damn all the things.

Plans

Xander - It Sucked.
I was going through my diary this evening and noticed that we are creeping into May 2014. May. This means that almost a third of the year has gone by and I have achieved NOTHING. None of my Things To Try And Do In 2014 are done yet or even close to being done yet. This gives me disappointed face.

I seek advice on motivation. Or possibly prioritisation. And on making decisions and figuring out intentions. And on decluttering.

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Hypothetical Politics: Help!

Harmony Ignored
Let's play a game of hypotheticals, shall we?

Angry at the ravages of the economic crisis and the increasing westernisation of their country, a wave of anti-capitalist protests sweep across Turkey. The protests are entirely constrained to central Turkey, given the imbalance of the state's financing - the regions to the south enjoy money flowing in from the oil-rich regions of the Middle East and the north west gains the same benefits from Europe, whereas central/eastern Turkey saw its already high poverty and unemployment rise when the crisis hit. Over time, the two regions grew more and more opposed to one another - the wealthier parts of Turkey favouring globalisation, western immigration, and secularisation, and the impoverished regions calling for increased protectionism, massive state intervention, and a return to its more Islamic ways. At the last election, a candidate won who was very in favour of Turkey joining the EU. The government was very western in its thinking, and ignored the increasing anger in its central and eastern regions, and this led to the protests. Following months of protests, the anti-capitalist protesters take control of Ankara. The prime minister flees along with the majority of the government. Blaming the downfall of the government on the protests, many in western Europe consider this a marxist Islamic coup.

Question: would anyone be surprised if, in this hypothetical situation, the United States sent reinforcements to their military bases in the south of Turkey?

Next hypothetical: take the story above and tweak some of the details. Invert the politics perhaps, replace Turkey with Ukraine and the US with Russia.

Question: do you see where I'm going with this?

I don't pretend to know much about the politics or history of the region, but on my initial reading of the situation I can't quite see why increased Russian activity in Crimea is surprising or even to be criticised. I'm fairly certain that any other nation would do the same in similar circumstances. If political disturbance resulted in a change of government in an independent Scotland, I'd expect rUK to reinforce its nuclear bases that remain there. I'd expect this even more if the military bases were in regions predominately populated by rUK ex-pats.

Does anyone have more information on the ongoing situation in the Ukraine that can help me understand the overwhelming condemnation of Russia? I feel like I must be missing something if I have a different opinion to almost everybody.

HUZZAH!

EE - My Father's Son
Okay, so I'm still three weeks behind on EastEnders. This is a huge achievement because at Christmas I was nine weeks behind - I'm catching up slowly.

ANYWAY.

Remember this post? Remember me being an angry angry Dennis fan for YEARS?

It's been eight years, but finally the truth is out! Sharon knows! YES! I have no idea what she's going to do with that information or how much more she will find out about the whole palaver but I'm just so happy that this is finally going to be dealt with.

...it is going to be dealt with right? It's not going to be a one episode thing then brushed under the carpet right? Right?*

EastEnders rambling of no interest to non-fansCollapse )

*Don't actually tell me anything, I'm spoiler-free.

On Babies And Gender

Labour Rose
People are strange.

Maybe this goes without saying, but I've found myself struck lately by the ways in which they are bizarre. Upon hearing that someone has had a baby, the first inquiry is often "is it a boy or a girl?". Which, when you break it down, is just odd. Babies don't have gender - they've just begun their massive journey of discovery and gender identity comes way down the list after things like discovering they have toes. So it's more likely that people are doing that thing of confusing gender with sex. The thing is however that asking that question is even stranger! "You have created a new life? Wow! Tell me what type of genitalia it has!"

Yeah, people are strange.

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Awards Season - Count Me Out

EE - Bored Dennis
So this week the Golden Globes happened. And some other awards are coming up, and some nominations are out and blah blah blah blah... yeah. I don't care.

Am I the only person who doesn't care? Surely it can't just be me who sees this as incredibly boring, no? A group of people in an industry have decided that certain other people in their industry were good this year. Meanwhile, let us pontificate for HOURS over who those people will be, and when we're not doing that, let's talk about "who the celebrities will be wearing". Person A is wearing a design by Fashion House B. 99% of you won't ever be able to even dream about affording an outfit like this, let alone fit into it because let's not forget that we also need to either a) fat-shame Person A who had the audacity to gain 3 lbs or b) thin-shame Person A because OMG CLAVICLE. Then once all that drama is over it's the event itself, long and drawn out with awkward jokes and faces of people's dreams being crushed, and who knows why anyone finds it entertaining to see people having to make Don'tCry faces. The ceremony goes on forever and it's like being forced to actually read a whole Buzzfeed countdown when all you want to do is scroll to the bottom and see who's at number 1. And it's not like this is new. It's the same thing every. damn. year.

Soooo yeah. I'm not an actor. I have no interest in "celebrity". I'd like it if we could stop presuming that everyone has an interest in these things, because I for one do not.

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Who's That Girl?

Labour Rose
Helloooooo!

Why yes, I am posting an entry believe it or not. It's been over a year since I said anything, though I have been reading LJ throughout.

2013 was in all, just rubbish. Not as bad as 2010, but still not good. I'm hoping that things will be better this year and one of my intentions in order to make that happen is to blog more. I think I feel better when I blog.

Don't get too excited mind you - although I intend to blog more this year, don't expect anything very soon. The List Of Doom remains undefeated, and the subcategory titled URGENT needs my attention. In the meantime, I do remain active on Twitter (@JanvierUK).

Yesterday I turned 28 years old. What is that about? I don't feel like I'm nearly 30. I certainly don't look like I'm nearly 30. I haven't done any of the things I thought I would have done by the age of 30. More than anything else, I just feel confused. 28 is strange.

The ranting of an Eastenders obsessive...

EE - Dennis !!!
Okay, so maybe this is a small thing that nobody else gives a damn about but catching up on New Year's episodesCollapse )

Also, hi.

ETA: Tonight...Collapse )

Also, I love Cora.

Reflections

Harmony Ignored
I think the reason (and if not the reason, then certainly a large contributor to the problem) I get sad is because I carry a lot of it all on my own. I don't talk to anyone, I don't let anyone in. So it sits, and it stews, and then gets compounded by whatever the next thing to disappoint me is and before I know it, my body is like a compost heap of misery. To extend the metaphor - the only things that can grow from misery compost are depression flowers.

So let's say that I want to stop this cycle. How? Would I have to start talking to people? Cause that's terrifying. Also difficult because it relies on other people. I don't like the idea that I'd have to rely on others because experience has told me that one can't rely on others. And not just in a "other people suck" way, but in a "other people have their own shit to deal with" way. I'm a fairly strong believer in the idea that you can't depend on anyone but yourself. Thing is, sometimes oneself isn't enough. Then what?

Catching up...

Blackadder - Wibble
Okay, so I got to skip=360 which took me back to about October 20th-ish. If there is news that you've posted before then, you'll have to let me know about it directly!

I have thoughts, but it's actually too cold to not get into bed, so they'll have to wait. This is actually the main reason why I want a tablet or laptop or something other than my desktop. I need computer access from under a duvet...

Accepting My Black Dog

Mad Men Falling
For the first time in my life, I'm okay. Like, genuinely and truly okay. And that's not in the sense that my life is great, far from it. It's more that things are going wrong, but I'm not letting them get me down. And that in and of itself is such massive progress, that I'm really proud of myself. Not only that, I'm feeling positive about the future. I feel as though I may have a future.

I know, that sounds silly, but seriously. Things have been so bad over the last year that I wasn't really making plans past the next day. My daily goals were "try to brush your teeth today" because most days I wouldn't even get out of bed. But I've been up every day for the last fortnight. I've been studying (deferred Tort exam is next Tuesday), I've been clearing the List, I've done stuff. I've taken a cue from carlyinrome and got my craft on too.

I'm not over this extended bad patch, but there is light at the end of the tunnel that's finally come into view. And whereas before I'd still be fighting an internal rage over being in the tunnel for so long, this time it's not there. I'm being reasonable with myself. I can't be angry at myself for my black dog any more than I could for a broken leg. Everyone has problems they have to deal with, this is mine. It doesn't make me a worse person than anyone else, it doesn't mean I'm weak or incapable. I'm just different, as we all are. And all I can ask of myself is that I do the best I can, acknowledging all the facets of my personality, including my depression. Because that's all it is, a facet of my personality that I work with. I may have depression, but depression does not have me.

Onwards and upwards friends. Onwards and upwards.

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Hello.

Labour Rose
Hey guys, I'm back. Not back as in I'm all better, nor back to bring about a fiery apocalypse of death, just... back. I finally feel like I'm in a place where I can make some progress, and I think things will get better if I talk. I'm ready to talk.

I know of course that some people don't like to hear about other people's depression and stuff because they can find it triggering - let me know if that's the case and I'll keep my ramblings locked away from you.

So, am I due a fatted calf or...?

Touching Base

Riley Go Eat Worms
It occurred to me yesterday (with a little help from distractogirl) that to those on Livejournal it must appear as if I've dropped off the face of the earth.

I haven't.

I am however still somewhat emotionally lost. When I find myself, I'll be back.


Hugs & Puppies,
J

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Hebrew - What?!
This year I spent the first night of Passover with a close friend and his family as I did last year. Much fun was had by all. This year however, I brought with me a dessert for the Seder meal.

Now, this cake is a first for me - a kosher for Passover pareve cake! Yes, it can be done!

Contains large images...Collapse )

(Cross-posted from Boi Marie Cakes)

Advertising me!

Mad Men Falling
I realise that I've not yet advertised my latest projects on my LJ. Well as it happens, I've been somewhat ignoring LJ because it's just too much to read and I've never enough time. I've not read my flist since the end of March. Oops. Have I missed anything huge? I'm told there were endless DDoS attacks, but other than that?

Where was I? Oh yeah, my projects.

The first of these is Boi Marie Cakes. This is primarily a gallery for all of the cakes I've made. I've also sort of set it up as a potential business though, just to test the waters and see if there's a market out there. Once I'm happy with the quality of everything, I'll begin doing some kind of advertising. At the moment the site isn't what I would call finished - there's still quite a bit to work on. Still! Work in progress.

And of course I will still be posting images of my cakes here, which you can either cheer or boo depending on whether or not you like seeing them.

The second project is a joint endeavour with girlsteve - we've launched a blog, Scarlett Nation. It's predominately political in nature but not strictly - the main aim is debate and encouraging people to say what they think and not think what they say. Please feel free to come on down and take a look around, comment and such. (Especially my video post on AV - particularly because I worked ever so hard on it!)

Anywho, best get back to the grindstone. I've got an endless amount of work to do for the foreseeable... *waves*

Life Update... and CAKE!

Raging Anti-Feminist
Another month and no word from me. I'll be honest, I have way too much going on in my head and in my life to update my LJ. I still read my flist once/twice a week though, so I still sort of know what's going on.  

Err... yeah. I’m holding down a full time job (just), doing a part time degree, managing a "mental illness" (don’t start...), exploring self-employment, remaining politically active, and trying to maintain something resembling a social network. I'm due a massive mental breakdown soon, but fingers crossed I can hold it off until after my May exams.  

That wasn't what I was posting about though. 

CAKE! (warning, large images)Collapse ) 

I'm looking forward to an opportunity where I can bake another novelty cake – you know, a cake that is shaped to look like something else. I'd love to try and create something pretty epic. big_gay_dana has suggested Neuschwanstein Castle, but then big_gay_dana is crazy. Next she'll tell me to do the Sistine Chapel ceiling... ^_^ I'm going to have a belated birthday party this summer, my epic cake may have to wait. Until then, if anybody needs a cake and either lives in South East London/North West Kent or is willing to travel – you know where I am!  

(I'm in the process of putting a website together. I'll let you know when it's live, don’t worry...)

A Defence of Eastenders

EE - My Father's Son
I felt the need to respond to this post (Why the BBC and Charlie Brooker are wrong over Eastenders, reposted at LibCon here) because in contrast to seemingly a lot of people that have been passing judgement, I'm actually an avid watcher of EastEnders (everyone has a guilty pleasure).

The bulk of Ellie's argument appears to be that women, particularly pregnant women and mothers, are stereotyped as mad by society, therefore any instance where a woman's actions can be interpreted as mad is wrong.

I think this interpretation says more about the complainant than EastEnders, in that she is seeing sexism where it does not necessarily exist. Viewers of the show will know that both male and female characters do incredibly "crazy" things (Ian lying about his daughter Lucy having cancer to manipulate someone into marrying him comes to mind, and I'd propose that is far worse than Ronnie stealing a baby in a fit of despair) so to purport that EastEnders is furthering the stereotype that "women are mad" means one has to ignore every instance of male character instability that has also featured on the show.

Relying on viewers to have a good grip on the characters is not a necessity either in order to debunk the argument that EastEnders is misrepresenting bereaved mothers. We can see an example right now. As we watch Ronnie's descent into despair and frustration (in my view not due to the death of her child but her sense of victimisation, but that's my interpretation of the character) we also watch another grieving mother - Kat Moon. Kat has screamed and cried, but cannot be accused of being dangerous or unstable in her grief. Even if one suggests that the character of Ronnie is perpetuating a stereotype of the unbalanced grieving mother, having a second grieving mother often in consecutive scenes who maintains her perspective through her sorrow shows that instead of EastEnders suggesting bereaved mothers are problematic, they are suggesting there is something specific about the character of Ronnie Branning that is making her behave in this way.

There is a problem when we choose to define people exclusively by what they are, and judge their actions solely on that basis without acknowledging the intersection of their various character traits. Ronnie may be a woman and mother, but these are just parts of a multi-faceted character who has other influences that may or may not be greater cues to explaining their behaviour. Rather than accusing EastEnders of misrepresenting bereaved mothers as impulsive and dangerous, long time viewers will see that the show is in fact furthering its representation that all Mitchells are impulsive and dangerous (and inherently selfish as a family, but that's another essay for a different audience!).

EastEnders is not inherently misogynistic - it has a grand history of strong female characters (who are generally more 3 dimensional than their male counterparts) and the majority of families on the show, past and present, are built in a matriarchal fashion. There is criticism to be levelled at EastEnders for the execution of this storyline, I do not however believe that sexism is one of them and I believe to do so is to undermine those instances where the accusation of sexism is justified.

My Living Will

Keep Calm And Carry On
Macabre maybe, but this is one of those posts that one really should make at some point. I don't have the time at the moment to make a proper Living Will, but I should think that in the event of anything happening to me then this should qualify as an indication of my wishes that can hold up in court.

Don't ask me why this is in my head at 2am in the morning. It just is.

So, yeah. In the event that anything were to happen to me, under no circumstances whatsoever is anyone to turn off life support equipment. We clear? Good. DO NOT SWITCH ME OFF. Dump some extra morphine in my drip to manage my pain and then wait for me to wake up.

First off, any scientific evidence cannot say with certainty that I will never recover. The evidence can point to extreme unlikelihood that I will recover from an persistent vegetative state, and that there has never been an instance where X has happened and an individual has made a full recovery. I say there's a first for everything. I also cannot determine the progression of modern medicine and whilst there can be no cure today, there is nothing to state that a cure cannot be found tomorrow or next year.

In addition, I dislike the premise that anyone other than the individual can determine the value of that individual's life. Nobody else is making the decision for me as to whether I live or die - I believe the right to bodily autonomy is possibly the most important right we have. Once someone else is able to decide that my life is not worth living because I have X or am in a persistent vegetative state etc, when does that decision extend to those with other disabilities? Who decides which conditions make a life worth living or not?

I'm aware that this may seem a strange position for someone who has attempted suicide to take, but ultimately I want to live. I am a good human being whose life has intrinsic value*, unfortunately my mental health is such that there are periods where I am unable to see that. I am currently in a lucid state. As far as my emotional curve goes, right now I'm not miserable and I have perspective at this point enough to be able to know what I really want. I hope that next time I do go through one of my black dog moments I will be able to look back at this post to get some direction on finding my way out of it.

I've had this discussion with my mother, because I think it's important to make sure that one's wishes are known (I'd have asked my dad what he would want in the event of his deteriorating health, but anyone who knows my dad will know how impossible it is to get more than half a sentence out of him on anything other than Tottenham Hotspur...). I'm aware that an advance directive is for the refusal of treatment as opposed to the acceptance of treatment, but there's no harm in putting this out there.

Anyone else had any thoughts about their end of life care? (This is me asking my friends just in case anyone tries something in future. This way I can have evidence of your wishes to force a court injunction to remove/maintain a feeding tube... And they say I'm not prepared for any eventuality!)

I am a strange person.

*bolded so I don't forget it.

Is it just me?

Cupcakes
I wanted to survey my fellow baking friends (of which I am sure there are plenty on my flist) to see if this is just something that's been happening to me of late, or if it is part of a wider problem.

Net weight figures on food packets. Load of hooey?

Every time I bake, I've noticed that the amount that is supposed to be in the packet/tub is never the same as what my scales are telling me. At first I thought that the packaging was to blame for the discrepancy, then that my scales were off... now I think the companies are just screwing with us. I'm short on ingredients now (having already started), so I'm about to put some clothes on and pop off to the shops to pick up some more. Grrr...

This isn't just a baking thing though, the same thing is happening when I'm cooking. A 454g bag of mince actually weighs 430g for example. Has anyone else noticed this? If you haven't, start weighing your stuff when you get it home. Let me know if it's just me.

ETA: I need a massive cake tin/tub. Airtight containers seem to go up to 10" and then stop. I need one to store a 12" cake - any ideas? I've got to keep it somewhere whilst I feed it for the next month. I'm considering under the bed. (No really, I am considering under the bed. You know those large plastic tubs they sell for under-bed storage? That might be my best option.)

England 2018? Err, no.

Zidowned
I have heard every theory there is on why we didn't win the World Cup bid - Russian corruption, FIFA corruption, the British media, multiculturalism (no, really - thank you Daily Mail). Nobody seems to be saying that perhaps we didn't win because we weren't the best option for hosting.

Radical thought, I know.

Firstly, FIFA's mission statement. I give the following selected excerpts:

[...] We see it as our mission to contribute towards building a better future for the world by using the power and popularity of football. [...] [Our approach is to] Improve the game of football constantly and promote it globally in the light of its unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values, particularly through youth and development programmes. Football development means investing in people and society at large. [...] Take world-class football action and passion at all levels to every corner of the planet through our 208 member associations. [...]


Now let's take a look first at our contenders: England, Netherlands/Belgium, Spain/Portugal and Russia.

In my view, England and Spain/Portugal are not options. England has hosted the World Cup before in 1966, Spain more recently in 1982. Portugal has not, but like Netherlands/Belgium, it has hosted the European Cup recently. In terms of fairness, why take the World Cup to places it has been before, and in living memory? If your goal is to bring football to every corner of the planet, it makes little sense to revisit a corner that you've already been to when there's an unexplored corner asking to be seen.

England and Spain are arguably the biggest footballing nations in the world. In terms of profit, the Premiership and La Liga are right at the top (with the Bundesliga). With no intention of sounding arrogantly patriotic, but we have the best stadiums, we have the best infrastructure, we have the best teams (professional not national!) and we have the most attentive and enthusiastic fans of the game. When it comes to football, England and Spain are the best places to play and enjoy the game.

...so why would FIFA want to come here?

FIFA does not serve its purpose by coming to England or Spain/Portugal (or to a lesser extent, Netherlands/Belgium). We are already good to go for a global competition, which is precisely what doesn't work in our favour. Hosting the World Cup in the home of football where it is already the national obsession sport doesn't foster new appreciation for the game, not in the way that it would taking the game somewhere new like Russia. Hosting the World Cup in countries that already have world class stadiums doesn't aid investment in communities and infrastructure. The Olympics is being held in Stratford and not Bromley because Stratford needs investment long before Bromley does. The same applies to football. Russian football needs building up more than football in Western Europe, and if I were on the FIFA board then that's exactly how I would see it and how I would vote.

Of course it had to be Russia (and indeed, Qatar). I don't feel especially comfortable in terms of the political climate in either of those nations but if anything, having the World Cup could shine a spotlight on their approach to minorities and other human rights issues. I remember seeing the most discussion of China and Tibet for a long time during the run up to Beijing 2008.

There's a culture of scepticism that bothers me, with the default position being a cynical one rather than an objective stance. It's possible that not everyone is out to shaft us and things are what they are. England is just too good to host the World Cup, and I don't think that's something to be angry about. For as long as the Premiership, the FA and various other groups continue to pump vast amount of investment into our communities through football, there's no need for FIFA to help out.

And most importantly, I'd rather we won the World Cup. Not the World Cup bid.