Another Catch Up

Hi everyone!

It’s been a good month and a half since my last post. I made sure to take some time off after exams to chill then ended up diving into part-time work in a slightly drastic change to my routine that took some time to adjust to. I’ve managed to get a little bit of balance back, so here is a rambling post about some of the things I was up to recently, with some photos of other things I did.

This lil cat from The Kitty Cafe in Nottingham represents me during the summer. And maybe all the time.

You all know I have a long list of hobbies and interests I like to switch and rotate between a lot. Makeup has fully fallen out of the rotation, it seems. I haven’t touched my box of new items in MONTHS and I wear the same casual lipsticks for work all the time, although to be fair I have rarely gone out to do anything else. So, as a result, I am kind of stuck for beauty content.

I have picked my reading back up again as well, although it seems my pace slows every time I do. I finally finished reading The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and then I finished Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin, too. I particularly loved the latter, especially the second half. It’s very sweet and emotive, not romantic in the typical sense, and deliciously dark. I will be seeing Sarah Maria Griffin in an event in a few weeks, which I am really excited for now.

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Some terrible doodled versions of covers of the books I read.

Just a few days ago, I finished Blade Runner, or originally ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip K. Dick – It’s a shorter read compared to my last two but I am enjoying it a lot so far. I’m only two chapters in, and the worldbuilding is done really… concisely, with lots of ‘show, don’t tell’. As much as I can deal with flowery prose, I really like this about this book so far. Gotta take notes.

Anyhow, my next pick will be Sabriel by Garth Nix. I have a goal to make it through as much of my current TBR this summer as possible!

This is Zaap Thai Street Food, also in Nottingham. I thought I had stepped out onto a street on the other side of the world! The details were amazing and reminded me of a night in Ho Chi Minh City, too.

I recently acquired a Nintendo Switch, so most of my days off have consisted of wandering Hyrule semi-aimlessly. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is so OPEN and I love it – almost everything can be interacted with. At some point, I am going to have to learn and actually remember some combat controls though because simply charging into the nearest enemy flailing a Boko Bat and panicking won’t work all the time…

My favourite part of the game beyond exploring is probably gathering ingredients and cooking food, as boring as that sounds. Autosaves in this game make me feel invincible even though I’ve gotten ‘Game Over’ at least nine times. I do like to dive into new areas but you know when it’s misty and I paraglide in only to have the mist reveal a bunch of Lizalfos that kill me in one hit? Sigh, yeah that kind of sucks.

The Warehouse Cafe is a nice Veggie Only place to check out. I wasn’t into this dish (the filo parcel) personally but I’d love to go back and check out other items on their menu!

I also bought Stardew Valley, which I really like because whilst I loved Harvest Moon DS, it was… tedious, for lack of a better word. Stardew Valley feels very similar… maybe better, though! I tend to like these no-pressure games a lot more. I also bought Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, for another open-world like BOTW, but also no-pressure kind of thing. It’s okay so far. Can’t climb things though. Can’t even enter buildings or swim, so it’s not as open, and sometimes the movement and camera controls make me dizzy, but it’s a welcome change from Guardians and Lizalfos.

I feel stuck with my drawing. I’m finding it really hard to be happy with stuff I draw at the moment making it really hard to continue. I keep thinking every line and resulting picture needs to be perfect (I finally understand the idea of ‘meaningful lines’ my art teacher kept going on about in school but it’s hard!) and it’s so frustrating that I can’t put my ideas on paper/computer yet. I think I will start experimenting with brush settings and some other digital techniques beyond just sketching. I have actually gone back to dabbling in writing too, but like… actually writing stuff instead of just planning forever and never getting words down on the page.

Anyway, I am scheduling some long-overdue beauty posts from before the hiatus, and I hope to still be chatting to myself here afterwards. If I’m not grinding for money or still dying in games.

Until next time,

X

Books of 2018, #3: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Hi everyone!

I am slightly behind on my reading schedule of a book per month. A lot of the books I have are actually quite bulky or read slowly and with university studies and work, and the hectic week before Easter, March was almost completely devoid of reading.

I’d been making my way through the books in this post – books that I’ve started but were on pause. All my books sat on the spare desk until Derp came home for the holidays and Twerp refused to give his room back again, so he’s living with me and needed the spare desk. I moved my entire TBR pile back to a corner of my desk where it’s three books away from reaching the G-Dragon poster on the wall… again.

In the re-shuffle, A Thousand Pieces of You ended up right at the bottom of a 17-book reading pile because I didn’t think I would get around to finishing it. So when I suddenly felt like finishing it last week, I almost didn’t bother trying to move it from under the pile. On the other hand, it’d been bothering me that I’d only read half, and I needed my March book…

As I am sure I have mentioned eons ago, this was a birthday gift from my friend Nicole, picked from my wishlist and mostly on the list because of its delectable, breathtaking cover. I thought I knew not to judge a book by its cover but I’ve noticed – in the years since not having my school library and buying my own books – that a great cover really makes me scream ‘take my money!’ But alas, the proverb had to ring true sooner or later, and it certainly did for this.

Or rather, my eyes must have skipped over the romance in the description of the book. That would have made me run in the opposite direction.

My main opinion is that this was utterly and totally ‘meh’. The idea of jumping into alternate universes is super promising and seeing as it’s a romantic sci-fi YA, the story… wasn’t that surprising, if that makes sense? It was quite predictable, and I felt there was so much left to explore that I was a little unsatisfied at the end. It’s full of tropes and stuff that made me go urgh (it’s been a while since I read about a love triangle!) but that my younger self might have absolutely loved. Then again, Twerp has also read the book – she’s the same age of the ‘younger self’ I’m referring to and she doesn’t like the book much either. Maybe it’s just us!

Anyway, once I set my mind to it, this was a speedy read, not too complex, and I finished it in two days. We shall see how long it survives on my bookshelf, too… I’ve already started my April book as well so hopefully, I’ll stay on track now.

Until next time,

X

[Chatter] At Last, Let’s Talk About Depression.

I think over the last year or two I may have attempted to draft out this post four or five times. As I wrote this very first paragraph for this working draft, it was January of 2018. I knew I wanted to put this up eventually, and I felt like it was approaching the right time to do so. I also knew that I have always struggled to express the feelings (or lack of) in a proper way that feels like it’s doing my experience justice, so in order to get my words out on time, I started early.

Do feel free to grab some tea.

If you’re a friend I have directed to this post, it’s because I’m crap at explaining this in person or even over WhatsApp, especially when I’ve been caught off-guard on a Sunday evening. All this is just me talking about things I have always wanted to talk to you all about but never got the words right for. I hope none of you mind.

Here’s a Trigger Warning for Depression, Self-Harm and Suicide.

For a long time, I didn’t quite relate to the idea of needing a trigger warning (even if I understood the reason for it) but recently I have been feeling extra sensitive towards this topic myself. It’s not particularly graphic or anything, though. If you’re not sure whether to read on, I’d err on the side of caution and not continue.


Firstly, I may as well tell you what the symptoms of depression are. We can spot them together as I back-track through my life. Here it is, the DSM-5 criteria for a diagnosis of depression:

A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either

  1. depressed mood or
  2. loss of interest or pleasure.

Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly attributable to another medical condition.

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

B. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C. The episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or to another medical condition.


The earliest recorded indication that I was depressed probably goes back to 2015 when I was still 17. In fact, it was on this blog because I had no other outlet. I’ve always written my honest thoughts on this blog, as bland as my life was, because it’s just not the same otherwise. To sort-of quote one of my old blog posts, pretending is draining. It’s the same reason that I love to share happy things with others and it’s for the same reason that I am a terrible liar.

So I was looking all the way to 2015, the first year of the blog and my first year of A-Levels (Y12), and life doesn’t seem bad. Mundane? Yes. Occasionally, I got angry, and I got stressed, but within what I thought were normal means for a student of Hell A-Levels. I went to work, I slept, I tried my best to manage everything and was failing. I was easily triggered, especially by my school reports, and I clung to my hobbies (and this blog) a lot as a means of coping.

My grades were suffering, and teachers were pulling me aside to ask me if anything was wrong. I said no because, at the time, I genuinely didn’t know. Some teachers thought I was just lazy and lacking effort (which I admit I agreed with). I mention Student Support briefly in this post from April 2015 from when I got sent there instead. They thought I was overworking myself and lacking in sleep (the latter being true). I didn’t feel this was the case as I simply was not getting anything done despite always being at my desk. I was stuck in this spiral of unproductivity, lack of sleep, and hating myself all in abundance. It was mostly hating myself, though.

For quite a while, I thought most of my issues were the fault of the school or the education system. Now, after lots of rational thinking, I don’t blame my school for my depression at all, because how could they have helped me out when I had no clue what was going on, mentally speaking, myself?

In October 2015 (the beginning of Y13 and my second year of A-Levels), I expressed a thought on this blog post about wanting to see the GP about my mental health. This means that I must have been thinking about it for quite a while, prior to that post going up. I had probably at least googled the symptoms and taken the quiz on the NHS site. Note the mental breakdowns (I think this means my negative emotions peaking and crying myself to sleep), and note the P.S. where I mention that I was finding it hard to concentrate. Yet at this point in time, I ended up not going to the GP about it.

I mentioned the breakdowns again in February 2016, talking about stupid school assessments, but this time more casually. I was getting the impression that this was a normal thing, that my feelings were not significant enough to seek help for and that this was part and parcel of being an A-Level student. My emotions were fluctuating, even then, but now it was so long ago I can’t really mention any specifics.

Later, I decided to include less of my feelings on the blog and more of what I was actually doing, so there’s not much there that shows what I was feeling until much later.

What I do remember, though, is that during that school year we studied depression as part of the abnormal psychology topic, and I distinctly remember the lesson on diagnostic criteria – looking at the list of symptoms on the board and thinking ‘all of that sounds like me.’

Anyway, I finished my last year of school, and my A-Levels went terribly (I say that, but I didn’t fail any) and I decided to take a gap year. Despite this, life was not particularly awful – in fact, it seemed like a lot of fun judging from past blog posts. Things seemed okay. I was beginning to branch out with what I was doing whilst making time for my hobbies and, well, widened my horizons a bit.


In the latter half of March 2017, I booked my first appointment with my GP for my mental health. I thought of having this post up on the 28th, a year since the date of my first appointment. It would be the first of quite a few that spring/summer. To this day I am still incredibly proud of myself for doing the adult thing and picking up the phone. I was so terrified.

At the appointment, I wanted to explain things logically to my GP, but I ended up breaking down crying, saying something like ‘I don’t know, I just… I just feel so sad all the time’. The truth was, that was the first major step I had taken to do something about my depression and I felt the impact of the moment – I didn’t know whether any of what I was doing would help, but I knew it was important that I did something.

My GP asked me why I was having the emotions that I had (as opposed to the what of early 2015) and I replied that I genuinely did not know. Where earlier I was comparing my experiences with others and not finding my situation comparable to them, this time I was on my gap year and life really did not seem bad at the time. My depression was, and still is, very irrational of me considering my circumstances.

I went to see a counsellor. It helped a little bit, but not that much. I think most of the change in mindset afterwards happened by itself.


A month and a bit later, I was a week after finishing my medication and my next GP appointment was not for another two days. On the 14th of May, I was not in a good mood, and neither was my mom. We got into a heated spat about something very minor. I broke down in the bathroom, and I saw the open cabinet door with the pair of scissors in it.

Scissors are relatively very blunt compared to other sharp objects, so all I ended up with were some very red, raised lines, and the tiniest beads of blood. It took a lot of pressure and self-hate to make those marks at all, let alone draw blood. Had that been a razor (we don’t use hand razors in this house) I might have ended up in hospital or worse. I spent a lot of time afterwards looking at the marks on my arm, ‘trying to figure out what they mean’, according to a diary entry. The lines are unnoticeable now but sometimes I wish I still had a scar to remind myself always that things were worse before and better now.

However, I wrote a private diary entry in an old notebook after my shower, and that’s enough. This is how I can write about it now because I knew it was a new low for me, and one that I needed reminding of. In hindsight, I wasn’t ready to be without the antidepressants yet, and I noticed multiple times later on that if I didn’t take my medication for a few days my mood would crash pretty badly without any other obvious cause. Needless to say, I tried not to go without them again and scheduled my appointments appropriately for the next few months.


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In September 2017, I started to evaluate my mood on a scale of +10 to -10. My average mood when I am depressed being around -3 or -4. In general, I was feeling much better. I actually hadn’t taken my medication for months at that point but I didn’t feel awful and I didn’t feel a crash as I stopped. I went out with some friends on the 9th September, and my mood was about a +7, according to my diary: “I felt so good. I can’t stress that enough, I’m so surprised by it.”

Then I managed to crash to a -7 which I now have pegged as ‘suicidal thoughts with minor urges to actually carry it out’. I genuinely wanted to jump out of a window, and I was petrified that I would. I couldn’t sleep and ended up writing in my diary at 2:20am, two hours after getting home, after breaking all sorts of rules. It took me weeks to climb back up from that -7. I thought it might have been the alcohol, at the time, but now I don’t think that was the case. It was at least the first time that I realised how sensitive my mood could be to change even if things were good.

Again, nothing was inherently wrong with my life besides my feelings. There was no ‘why’. I had exciting events planned and I was about to start at my university. There was a complete mismatch between my situation and my mood, objectively, and I think that lead to a dysphoria, a ‘state of unease or dissatisfaction with life’ that was really hard to shake off. When people ask me what’s wrong, there’s genuinely nothing wrong, and it’s hard to explain that I can’t control my mood fully even with all my best attempts to do so.

But I did write that night about how my parents can’t be blamed for things. That they worked their butts off and always did the best they could for their kids and that I felt bad they ended up with a crap daughter like myself. It’s strange, because I’ve never felt so comfortable with myself by my own standards but the moment that the other people I love are involved I’m not worth anything anymore. 

That feeling still persists from time to time. I’m working on it.


 

20180211125525_IMG_7703-02-01.jpegSince we are on a timeline, I want to also mention Jonghyun of SHINee as I’ve been meaning to say something about him, too. Never found the right words, though. He committed suicide on the 18th December, 2017 after a long battle with depression. He was a successful performer, y’know – world at his fingertips and all, and he still felt that way. He finished all the preparations for his new album, Poet/Artist, and he even filmed some variety shows. His album was released posthumously. It’s fantastic.

I can’t claim to know what he was thinking. From what I could tell, he had been planning it for a long time, all whilst thinking of who and what he loved and was leaving behind. As a member of SHINee and as a solo artist he knew he was very, very, very well loved, and still chose to make the decision to end his life. I think the album and what he left behind were all signs of that – that he cared so deeply for his family, his friends, and his fans. I think one of the few things that kept him wanting to be alive was just that.

That’s something I relate to. For me, I think my life is small and trivial, but my friends are my world. I would not want to wish the after-effects of my death on them, and if it means staying alive for them, then sure. I think suicide, in a sense, is selfish in that way (I’m not sure how better to word that). What I’m trying to say is, I think Jonghyun chose to end his life as a final act of self-care, and still he was thinking of those he loved by planning his album and his suicide. I am sure he has found his own happiness now.

Again, I cannot pretend I know him, and I just wanted to share some thoughts on my point of view, and finally get it off my chest. I didn’t realise it would shake me so badly. I cried reading the initial announcements on the news, and even weeks later I feel tremendously sad at anything involving him, like Lee Hi’s performance of a song he wrote. I haven’t been able to listen to the final track of his posthumous album yet. It’s a piano ballad. I heard the first few notes and noped completely out.


This brings us to roughly the present day. This section is actually the hardest to write, because I never feel like I have a proper grasp of my feelings until long after the time has passed.

However, I promise you that right now, as I finish up this post before it goes out tomorrow, I’m in a good place. Maybe a little muted, but good. Depression never feels like the kind of fight that is won. 

Most days I’m good. I have things I want to do, small aspirations, almost never a plan. My modal average day is no longer a -4, but more of a 0 or -1. In fact, the week of my birthday I was consistently at +4/5. That was great, and I long for more weeks like that.

Other days, I don’t feel good, but not bad either. On those days, instead of caring a little less, which can be good for me, I don’t care at all. All my emotions seem muted or absent. Sometimes, I ‘slip’ a little, back into that old pit of sad. Sometimes, I feel without purpose or just aimless, and I have moments of sadness welling up in my chest throughout the day. Sometimes, before I know it, a bad day has become a bad week – time can really fly when you’re depressed.

However, since last year I’ve been hyper-aware of my feelings and as such, I’ve been better at spotting these kinds of days and clamping down on them ASAP. I’ve found that the best way to do that is to have all the important crap started and sorted earlier so I can take time out for myself. Then things are mostly OK.

Although sometimes, my wrists itch, and it’s frustrating.

Even now, I have times where I doubt my experiences. How serious are my symptoms now? I am constantly comparing my current mental state to that of last year and I think it might prove counteractive eventually. For example, I often think ‘this can’t be that bad of a day. I have had worse. I have survived worse.’ It sounds pretty good until I remember that I have never been able to justify my awful feelings and low mood days and I’m not about to start. In reality, it’s ‘this is not that bad of a day, but I feel like crap anyway.’

The third type of day is the worst kind. I’m having a good day, and I am happy, and I’m laughing a lot. That’s good. But beyond that feeling of happiness, there’s a pit somewhere and I am still stuck down it. Is it a crap ton of self-doubt? Is it the sense of impending doom? Is it the feeling of knowing that happiness is more temporary than sadness? I hate that I am this stubborn in my sadness.

I have slowly become more accustomed to talking about my depression to my friends, especially the few I love the most because I know they worry about me and appreciate that they do, even if I don’t want them to. Whilst it’s so easy to let a bad day pass and pretend to my friends that it never happened, these days I can just tell them it’s a bad day.

Not all the time, though. I actually tend to rotate and tell one person each time, so they’re not all worrying about me at once.


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On top of that… I’m twenty now. It feels like a happy little miracle. As I told someone one time, ‘my mental health got to a point where I genuinely did not think about being alive for this long. Like I wanted to get better but didn’t know what I wanted to live for.’

As a result of this, I didn’t keep any aspirations over the last few years beyond ‘I want to make it to the end of the day having smiled at least once’.

When I was 13 I had my heart set on writing. I still do, as it’s my Plan A (Plan Ambitious). That said, I wish I felt the urge to be writing regularly and this blog is the closest I am getting to my daily quota of creative writing. My Plan B (Plan Believable) is something more akin to teaching languages, working abroad or working in a field of psychology after I graduate. Perhaps even all three. My short term goals are to study well, save money, and successfully get a study placement in Korea. Heck, guys, I have GOALS. I have things I want to aim for! That’s pretty amazing!

I finally see that I have a life ahead of me. Isn’t that the most terrifying thing?

Thank you for reading this far.

Until next time,

X

#Playlist: Ghosts

Hi everyone!

I wasn’t sure whether to do this or not, but I’m worried that my content is suffering these days and I’m not putting out the quality I want. So I want to be sure I’m taking time to work on them properly and making sure I am including all the information I want to. I know I finally got some photos and all, but along with uni work I’m struggling to get my words up to the standard I want.

So you probably won’t see another post this week and might just see less posting from me for a while depending on how these next few weeks go. I have a few events lined up to fill the week before the term ends, so that’s also quite exciting. It’s wild that I’m over halfway through my first year at university.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling like my music needs a bit more shaking up again whilst I work on this assignment for university. Before you ask… Did I dive down into a pit of music recommendations from YouTube that I actually liked? Yes, the answer is yes.

It’s inspired this playlist of recent discoveries with a dash of songs I felt just fit right in here. It’s not too upbeat. As much as I love my pop music, I have a soft spot for music that’s kind of whimsical and dreamy but there are also some very specific things I like. Sort of deep and mildly depressing and perhaps a soundtrack for the non-existent aimless midnight wander.

Today’s playlist is a mix of English language and Korean language tracks.

Ashmute (Korean)Ghost, Scenery, Inferno – I really like the dreamy feel coming from this trio, and how they play around with the pace of their songs. My favourite of these is Ghost but Scenery has really grown on me. K-Indie tends to be kind of hit-and-miss for me as I focus on sound rather than lyrics and a lot of K-Indie can sound similar to me, but this is really nice.

Kailee MorgueGhost of Mine, Medusa – I initially got some Melanie Martinez vibes from Morgue’s vocals on Ghost of Mine. I really like this kind of music – the kind that’s just really strange and haunting but not too deep like Ruelle’s Madness – I like that sound too but not all the time.

Bipolar SunshineDaydreamer – Well… This playlist could do with some happy. I’m definitely up for listening to more Bipolar Sunshine now that I have discovered them, this is a jam.

DJ SnakeMiddle (ft. Bipolar Sunshine) – It’s funny, I do love the odd DJ Snake track I come across but I always forget to dive into their discography. This is the most upbeat track on the playlist.

MothicaOut of It – In doing a little bit of research on Mothica I saw the words ‘gloom pop’. At last, a word for the genre of music I like. I’ll go searching later for songs under this umbrella, haha.

Sojung of Ladies’ Code (Korean)Crystal Clear – Sojung has one of the most distinctive voices in the mainstream K-Pop scene and I really miss Ladies’ Code and love their newer songs so it is lovely to hear her singing again. I want to hear her in a long with Lee Hi one day. I think their voices would resonate well together.

Heize (Korean) – Jenga – There’s something odd about the end of the hook that I really like. What is it, dissonance? It was odd but now I really like it. I first watched Heize on Unpretty Rapstar 2 for a bit and really liked her as well as Kitti B and Yubin.

Heyne (Korean) – Insomnia (Unofficial, included to omit the snoring in the official MV)|Official MV – Heyne’s unusual voice is what stopped this from being too boring for me. That and perhaps the fact that she’s actually 26-ish and looks (and sounds) younger than me!

Tei ShiNevermind The End (unofficial)|Official MV, Say You Do (unofficial)| Official MV – I’ve been listening a lot to these two tracks recently. They’re just really nice to loop.

FazerdazeLucky Girl – I’m hoping this is a nice choice to tie off the playlist as well as leading back to the beginning when I feel like it.

I hope you’ve discovered something that you like today. I’ll get back to writing my uni assignment now!

Until next time,

X

My Current TBR Pile, as of March 2018

When I first sat down to write this I was thinking that this would end up being a very long post. This was because it seemed like my TBR pile had finally reached the heights of my G-Dragon poster. Then I realised that I could split the pile somewhat. I tend to leave my current reads on top of this pile too, you see, as well as some other stray books.

Anyway, after splitting the pile into my abandoned reads and actual yet-to-be-touched books, I thought I would show you the books in the latter category.

But then after that… This post was originally scheduled for February but my birthday recently passed by and I got a few more books as gifts…. making this a very long post. Whoops.

 

Yes, that’s right everyone, I am experimenting with portrait images and not landscape!
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
About: A group of young boys crash land on an island and have to fend for themselves.
Goodreads

This has been on my TBR for a while. As a lover of the Battle Royale, I think the original plan was to self-study these books together alongside other books of a similar premise, like The Hunger Games and The Long Walk. It never really happened, but I still want to read this again. I’m sure I would at least appreciate it more than my thirteen-year-old self did.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
About: A dreamwalker and clairvoyant hired to break into people’s minds for information.
I’ve heard so much good about this series but wasn’t sure if it was for me. The book itself is pretty stunning, though, and I thought about it a lot. I was really surprised to find it in a charity shop a few weeks ago with an unbroken spine and snapped it up straight away! £2.50, everyone. What a deal!

I spied some Murakami and other big titles that day, too, so it really goes to show that charity shops are always worth checking out. I’ve spotted everything from hardbacks of The Girl On The Train to the entire Song of Ice and Fire series in such stores. Did you know my entire Harry Potter book set was second hand in this way? In fact, I think half my bookshelf is second hand!

I See You by Claire Mackintosh
About: A woman becomes the target of possible horrible crimes after her photo is revealed in a newspaper’s classified ad.
Goodreads
This is a book gift from Tray, and it’s a thriller. I don’t normally read this genre but it sounds good and I’m looking forward to shaking up my reading a bit.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
About: A girl caught in the whirl of a close friend’s death at the hands of a police officer.
Does this book even need an introduction? It’s probably the most recommended book of 2017 as I just did not stop hearing about it, and I picked this up at a The Works store in Colchester, for £3! Only… that was in October or November and I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t touched it.
The Young Elites Trilogy by Marie Lu
About: A survivor of a deadly fever with emerging powers.
This was also picked up at The Works, but one in my city. They do some great discounted box sets and I’ve been mulling over getting the Poison Study (Maria V Snyder) box set for a while, too. I’ve heard lots of good things about Marie Lu so I’m eager to start this series.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens|Goodreads
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte|Goodreads
Two classics here, bought where else but a charity shop? I’m not as hyped to read these but I’ve always been meaning to read them so I expect I’ll get around to it at some point. Not that I hate classics, I’ve enjoyed a few before but they’re just less exciting to pick up, initially!

Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Red Rising Series, #3)|Goodreads

I’ve just finished Golden Son, the second book in the series, and I may leave it a while before I finally finish this trilogy. I am really enjoying it so far, though.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J. K Rowling)
About: A detective is tasked to solve the apparent suicide of a model.
Goodreads

Another charity shop find from more than a year ago, I simply haven’t found myself in a rush to read this.


Blade Runner (originally ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) By Philip K. Dick
About: A bounty hunter is tasked to retire some rogue androids.
Goodreads

Renamed for the infamous film and recent cinematic remake, I first spotted this in Foyles before meeting a friend, before then finding it in The Works for £2, of all places!
Ink by Alice Broadway
About: A girl’s father dies and his tattoos, his life records, to be made into a Skin Book only there is something missing from his.
Goodreads

Following on from the last book, The Works also often offer 3 for £5 on their books. Normally, the store in Birmingham City Centre doesn’t have a selection to my taste but when I spotted these two books, I was so excited! AT was with me and also wanted a copy of Blade Runner so we were able to pick up the books for £5 together!
The Bees by Laline Paull
About: A bee of the lowest caste in the hive breaks a sacred law.
Goodreads

This was a birthday gift from AT, and is pitched as ‘Hunger Games’ meets ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The concept sounds really interesting and this isn’t just human dystopia with a bee concept – all the characters are bees! The cover of this particular edition is really bright and attractive and adds some much-needed colour to my TBR pile.
Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
About: A girl strives to create her own companion out of the mechanical parts that every human in her community has.
Goodreads

This was a birthday gift from Twerp. It went straight on my wishlist after I had seen it floating around my twitter or something and I fell in love with the new paperback cover, with red sprayed edges!


Clearly, I need to make a start on this pile, but I really can’t help myself when it comes to buying books. I’m trying to make more room for reading this year, with the aim of at least a book per month for my Goodreads challenge.

What is your reading challenge goal this year?

Until next time,

X

[Chatter] A Quiet Evening

I’m sure it happens to a lot of us.

I’ve noticed recently that I go through these phases of being very talkative, oversharing and social, then feeling very very quiet and reserved, and wanting to keep to myself as much as possible. Even now, I don’t feel like writing a lot. I don’t particularly feel like doing anything, actually.

Last night, I was having a bit of an ‘off’ evening where my mood was really low for no reason. I was struggling to take care of myself and had finally pushed myself into the shower, and forced myself to do my skincare and brush my teeth. As a bonus I even body-buttered myself. But on these days I also feel this strong urge of not wanting to sleep, and it was past midnight at this point.

This is a rather regular occurrence for me, by the way. I usually just try not to work against it and take some ‘me’ time without guilt and, when sleep takes over, the feeling lessens in the morning and I can take things from there. These phases pass. I am working on a long post about my depression, for later this month. In writing it, I realised how much this blog helped to track my emotions, so I do want to be talking more about my own emotions here.

Anyway.

I took out my deck of tarot cards. I was partly inspired by Alice’s post here, where she had her cards read, because it got me thinking, and reminded me that I have a set of cards. Do check out her blog – I find it very fascinating to read about her experiences living in Japan as someone who wants to live there one day or at least study abroad in Korea.

I’m not a heavy believer of tarot and I am obviously not a skilled reader. If anything, the cards present more questions than answers. However, I like to use them as a source of ideas and reflection, and they sometimes offer a new perspective on a problem I have.

I’ve been meaning to invest in a Rider-Waite deck and may actually get around to it soon. My current deck is just a small introductory one my friends picked out for a birthday once, but I really like the small size and its design.

A card that represents a part of my past that may be influencing my present

10 of Wands

Wands represent energy, growth and personal enterprise. The picture on this card depicts a man carrying a lot of sticks. I think it suggests a heavy workload. It brings to mind the idea of taking on too many new challenges and not being able to handle them all. Also, as you all know, I keep a lot of hobbies although I am not active with all of them at the moment, and this card is also making me think of that.

A card that represents the present situation –

Temperance, reversed

The image depicts a woman pouring something from jar to jar, amongst vines and a tortoise and a hare. It reminds me of how I like to be busy (the hare) but also need time to take it slow, like with my talkative and quiet periods (the tortoise).

Temperance means self-restraint. In particular, voluntary restraint or self-moderation. Mine is upside down, which could mean the opposite, or it could emphasise the normal meaning. To me, it means something is abnormal here. Am I too controlled or too uncontrolled right now?

I’m not fully sure what it could be referring to as there isn’t anything, in particular, I have been practising extra restraint or freedom in. Perhaps it could be about my mood, which is often out of my control and definitely was last night… but I find that to be too convenient of an interpretation, perhaps.

A card that represents an issue of the future

the King of Swords.

The picture depicts a king with grapes and a fox.

This card represents independent judgement and rationality, two things I can lack at times. Swords represent interaction, communication as well as intellectual pursuits, so I usually take the meaning in the context of work and study. This card suggests that I might improve in these aspects or that opportunites will arise in which I can, and this will be something that challenges me in the future.

A card that represents what can be done in the present to prepare for the future

2 of cups, reversed

The picture depicts a boy and girl holding a wine on which cups rest. SIGH. Cups in general represent the emotional and relationship side of life. I assume this card means relying on others for emotional support. This card could also be advising me to keep things light-hearted with a focus on relieving tension.

So, these were just a few things for me to think about and pass the time with. I’m always a little surprised at how applicable these can be and what I can learn from these despite not reading seriously.

Have you ever had a look at tarot card reading?

Until next time,

X

Battle of the Supposed Velvet Teddy Dupes: Wet n’ Wild Bare It All vs Maybelline Clay Crush

Do you remember when MAC’s Velvet Teddy was the craze? It sort of still is, but nowhere near as much as it was a few years ago. Since then, a number of dupes have emerged for it. I wasn’t sure whether the shade would suit me so it made more sense for me to find a dupe before I went for it. As you might be able to tell, I didn’t buy Velvet Teddy in the end. Today, I’ll be comparing two of its dupes for you to have a look.

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Maybelline’s Creamy Matte Lipstick in Clay Crush is £6.99 for 3.3g, and comes in the standard bullet shape. Wet N Wild’s Megalast Lipstick in Bare it All costs £2.99 as an add-on item from Amazon and comes with a similar amount of product in a rounded flat shape. I prefer the pointed bullet of Clay Crush for applying lipstick, but Bare it All wins in terms of price.

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However, I’ve mentioned this before but the packaging of Wet N Wild’s lipstick comes with quite a few flaws. The product sticks up out of the tube from new and can’t be wound down, which is mildly annoying as the lid sometimes catches the product if you don’t remove it properly. On top of the that, the lid is prone to cracking and once it does that, the lid easily falls off when travelling. Luckily, it’s cheap to replace and the formula is stiff enough not to make too much of a mess. I haven’t experienced the same problems with Clay Crush thus far although I haven’t had it as long.

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Now, these two products have very similar shades. So similar, in fact, that when I had to go back over the swatches, I had trouble remembering which photos I had taken first and which swatches were which!!

Bare It All has a stiff finish and drags across the lips. However, I don’t mind this personally. It’s just what I noticed when using these two products side by side. I do tend to get a stronger pigmentation on first swipe compared to Clay Crush although again, that doesn’t matter too much because I always layer up with many swipes anyway.

On the other hand, Clay Crush is very soft and lightweight. However, I noticed that it doesn’t cling to the lips as well, instantly showing lip lines, and needs topping up after a few hours to retain the smooth finish and not make those lip lines too obvious. Neither lipstick bleeds very much, if at all.

Lastly, here are a couple of photos to demonstrate how similar they are to each other. If I really had to differentiate them, Bare It All has a slighter mauve tone while Clay Crush is slightly peachier, but this barely translates on the lips unless you have a very trained or familiar eye.

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Overall, I wouldn’t repurchase either because by using these two I have concluded that this particular category of nude is not for me. They both layer well under a deeper lip liner for a slightly darker nude and that’s how I’ll be wearing them until they are used up.

Of course, I also concluded that Velvet Teddy was not my kind of shade and didn’t buy that either. The cost of both these lipsticks together still add up to less than that of the original Velvet Teddy.

Until next time,

X


Days since I last bought a lipstick: 66