Netflix and Chill: Serial Killer edition

Like every normal person, I am fascinated by serial killers. Repulsed by their crimes, angered by their audacity, and yes, fascinated by the psychology of these outwardly normal beings who set off on random violent streaks with no care, reason or remorse. I have always enjoyed watching the crime network on cable, it was one of the first adult things I started to watch just as I weaned myself off of cartoons and childish telly. My first real introduction to serial killers was through a book in my father’s library- I don’t remember the title but it was about the most famous serial killers in the world, from Jack the Ripper to the acid bath murderer to Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. I remember discovering the book on a Sunday, and taking it to church with me, reading it all through Sunday school. My fascination was born.

Netflix has a pretty good selection of true crime documentaries/series and of course I make sure to watch them all. However, I am familiar with a lot of serial killers, so when I come across a new show on them, I’m reluctant to watch them as I feel as though they will just rehash things I already know. This was how I felt about the Netflix documentaries on Richard Ramirez “night stalker: the hunt for a serial killer“; David Berkowitz “The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness“; and Peter Sutcliffe “The Ripper.” Eventually I succumbed to the temptation and watched them, as I knew I would, and realised there is so much I did not know about these cases.

As much as I like crime shows, it can get depressing with the constant attacks on women.

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness: I know of the serial killer known as the Son of Sam (real name David Berkowitz). He was a serial killer in 1970s New York who shot at lovers hanging out in cars, and claimed to do so on the orders of a demon called “Sam”, who spoke to him through his neighbour’s dog. Yup.
That is as far as I knew of the case. The Netflix documentary goes much further, and follows the work of an investigative reporter Maury Terry, who developed an obsession with the case in his quest to prove that the murders were not all at the hand of David Berkowitz, but are linked to a satanic cult.

Prior to Berkowitz’s capture, the “Son of Sam” sent letters to the police, taunting them and providing clues. By the end of the documentary, I knew the following: David Berkowitz did not commit all the murders by himself, and in some cases he did not pull the trigger. The murders were in fact linked to a satanic cult, of which Berkowitz was a member. David Berkowitz was not the son of Sam- the dog which he claimed to pass the messages to him was owned by his neighbours- two of whom were in the same cult, and their father was named Sam. There was talk of one of the murders being filmed as a snuff film, and suspected members of the cult all turned up dead in mysterious circumstances. This show is wild, and I’m not sure how much of it is actually true, given that Berkowitz was reticent at times, and really could have been messing with Maury Terry. David Berkowitz is surprisingly still alive, and I wish he would just come out with the truth once and for all.

The Ripper: Again I knew all about Peter Sutcliffe aka The Yorkshire Ripper, named after Jack the Ripper as an ode to their shared penchant for murdering prostitutes. The Netflix documentary does a great job of showing the pungent fear that was in the air at the time, and the misogynistic attitudes that persists to this day. Prostitutes are very vulnerable, and are not highly regarded in society, and this makes them easy targets for serial killers. It was numbing to hear the police essentially say okay this man was previously killing prostitutes, but now he has moved on to innocent women and that is not acceptable. Part of the reason he managed to get away with his crimes was because the women were (thought to be) prostitutes which to the police and the general public meant that their lives are disposable. The documentary even disproves the notion that his early victims were all prostitutes. Even if they were their lives should have been given respect, but the fact that the women may not even have been prostitutes is just annoying. These poor women were instantly dismissed and looked down upon due to their class.

There was even a suggestion of a curfew for women, which was especially infuriating; “there’s a man killing women so you women have to all stay at home and be careful.” Essentially, women were being victimised twice- a man is out there murdering women and it’s up to women to sacrifice their freedom. Why not ask the men to stay home until the killer is caught? It would make more sense to give the men a curfew so women can go out freely, and then if a man is seen out in violation of this curfew he would have to explain why. There is so much victim blaming, it makes me sick. The Ripper shows footage of Reclaim the Night marches, and I was proud to see women go out and protest the foolish suggestion of a curfew.

The investigation was so frustrating oh God. Peter Sutcliffe was questioned multiple times by the police who just couldn’t seem to get it together. There was even a hoaxer who pretended to be the Ripper and he sent letters and a taped message to the police who were so sure they were talking to the right person that they shifted their entire investigation to fit the profile of the caller, which of course completely derailed everything. This was also frustrating as one of his survivors told the police clearly that the accent of the man on the tape was not the accent of the man who attacked her, but the police ignored her, what does the silly girl know eh?
I had watched a separate documentary (on YouTube) about this hoaxer and I wish The Ripper showed us more about this as it is so pivotal to the story. It was unsatisfying how this line ended. In real life, the hoaxer was identified via DNA 25 years later, and he was jailed for obstruction of justice or summing. He should have been whipped publicly because he helped Sutcliffe evade capture and continue killing women, while the police went off on a wild goose chase.

One thing that stood out to me what how little we saw of Peter Sutcliffe. On one hand it is good that he was not celebrated in any form; on the other hand it was a bit of a letdown. The whole show had been building up to his capture, and it was indeed a slow tedious process spanning five years, and then he was caught and that’s it. I would have liked to see more, maybe even hear him speak. But I understand that this not about him.

Just like the Son of Sam, I thought I knew this case but this documentary showed a whole lot more.

night stalker: the hunt for a serial killer: This documentary is about the serial killer Richard Ramirez who terrorized Los Angeles for a year from 1984. I wasn’t going to do a recap of this partly because it’s been so long since I saw it. I just remember being so goddamed disgusted and angry throughout. The nerve of someone to enter a person’s home and hurt them. It makes me so mad. Just like all of the other serial killers, Richard Ramirez was a coward. He was eventually caught-not by the police, but by people on the street who made sure to beat him up before handing him over to the police. Ramirez had the nerve to call the people cowards, saying they wouldn’t have been so brave if he had had his gun with him. Bitch you are a coward for needing a gun! You wouldn’t have been so brave as to enter people’s homes if you didn’t have a gun. There was one occasion when he entered a couple’s home and shot the man in the head. The man arose like the undertaker and managed to chase Ramirez out of his house with a bullet in his brain. Ramirez was a bloody coward. My irritation was intensified when I saw that he had fans-silly, unwashed, unintelligent women who took a liking to his “bad boy satanic” nature. They were sending him nude pictures, showing up to support him in court. It was unbearable. I hope those women are alive and well today, along with their children, to see what a fool they made of themselves.

That’s the thing with the serial killer shows, as fascinating as I find them, they do take something away from me. They are so exhausting. Going through all of the attacks, all the murders, all the rapes, all the victims; it is exhausting. Of course Ramirez had a terrible childhood, like all serial killers do, and some people sympathise with him over this. I just can’t and it’s hard to after going through all of the cases, seeing the pain caused and the lack of remorse from the killer. The man murdered a child! I do understand the effect an abusive childhood can have on a person and I understand that different people process things differently. Some people survive abusive backgrounds and become productive members of society while others create a world of hurt.

Another annoying thing is how the media inadvertently glamorises these hoodlums by giving them superhero names. Once a serial killer is on the loose, the media starts thinking up a cool nickname for them; The Nightstalker, the 44 caliber killer, the Yorkshire Ripper. On some level this has to make the killers feel good. Richard Ramirez was first dubbed the valley intruder by some newspapers until another newspaper gave him The Nightstalker and that stuck.

That’s all folks. I have managed to sufficiently rile myself up. Still, I would like to see a Netflix documentary on Dennis Rader and Ed Kemper.

To be honest, I have watched so many crime shows that my fascination with serial killers has diminished somewhat. I am no longer wondering why they do what they do, I just wish they didn’t.

PASTA EVANGELISTS

I first came across Pasta Evangelists on social media some years back and thought it was cool, but as usual I couldn’t bring myself to actually buy anything. The options were enticing enough, but there is always the chance that I won’t like it and that’s my money wasted. My friend tried and liked it, and I told her I would try it too but didn’t. For my birthday this year, my friend took matters into her own hands and surprised me with a delivery!

The box arrived just before my birthday, and though I was excited to dig into it, the recipes all contained cheese and I did not want to risk ruining my skin right before my birthday. So I stored them all in the freezer and ate them over a few weeks. I enjoyed the meals enough, and I decided to post a review here for no reason at all.

First off, the packaging. The food was well packaged and came with an ice pack and other protective material. There is also a recipe book containing all the recipes for that week- my understanding is that there are different meals every week. Not to fret if you lose the recipe book, all recipes are found online on the PE website.

My friend chose three meals for me, and I was pleased with her choices. The first meal I tried was Lamb & Wild Garlic Ravioloni with Rosemary butter. They had me at lamb. The packaging is so pretty; it comes with a stick of rosemary butter and some cheese to sprinkle over the finished product. It took maybe 5 minutes to cook. Nice and easy.

The second meal was Feather Blade of Beef & Yorkshire Pork Ragù with Tagliatelle. I do like a beef ragu, though I am not a fan of pork. It didn’t matter, this meal was so delicious, I was sad when it was all gone. Again, this did not take that long to cook. The cheese comes separately (for all the meals) so I just chose not to sprinkle it on the food and that was fine.

Finally, the Black Truffle Macaroni and Cheese. I was most worried about this meal because the cheese cannot be escaped. I usually like Mac and Cheese, but since finding out diary (and cheese in particular) is my skin’s kryptonite, I have been forced to avoid it like the plague. Still I couldn’t just leave it in the freezer forever so I into my tummy it went.

This was simultaneously the easiest and hardest meal to make. Technically all you need to do is to put it in the oven for 15 or so minutes and voila. That was not the case for me; see it turns out that for the four years that I have lived in this house, I have mistaken the grill for an oven. I didn’t even know that there was a difference and for the most part I have not had any issues. I have successfully grilled banana bread, bread, pretty much every thing that requires an oven. It was not until a flatmate complained that the oven was broken, and I went to show her that it still worked, to which she let me know that was in fact not an oven but a grill. Still I am stubborn, so I put the mac and cheese in the grill for 15 minutes and the colour was not right, then I had to preheat the oven and stick it in for another 15 minutes. By this point I was over the whole thing and didn’t have high expectations for the meal. My first forkful was bleh, I don’t like black truffle, but the next bite was delicious and I ate it all in no time at all.

The pictures are terrible, but here. My favourite mac and cheese of all time is the Marks & Spencer beef mac and cheese, and this was not too far off. Plus it’s vegetarian, it that is important to you.

There you have it. My first experience with Pasta Evangelists, and it was a hit. I don’t know if I will make an order myself as I quite like having my regular pasta- I make a batch of beef/chicken stew (sauce to some) for the week, and boil some spaghetti each day to go with it, and it all costs £10, if even. Simple and delicious. Incomparable even. Still I will not turn down any future gifts, and I might even treat myself in the future.

Feast on your life.

LOVE AFTER LOVE
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Wild wild country

I wasn’t going to watch this. I fell foul of the aged saying; do not judge a series by its thumbnail. For some reason I assumed it was one of those hippie fake deep-actually to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect but I thought I wasn’t going to like it. As I was getting ready to skip past it I caught a glimpse of the synopsis and it included something about Rolls Royces; “… the world’s biggest collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles“. The first 3 seconds of the preview also looked interesting, so ever the curious cat I decided to see what it looked like.

Wild Wild Country is a documentary about the controversial Rajeeneshpuram community in Oregon, led by an Indian spiritual guru- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later to be known as Osho) and his firebrand personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela who had been with the Bhagwan since she was a teen. The movement starts in India, with the Bhagwan preaching about capitalism and meditation and previously being asleep and now being awake (he was woke before woke was a thing). He gains a lot of followers and it is not long before well off Westerners in search of “the truth” start moving to India to join his cult group. Eventually the community becomes so large and they face political resistance in India so off to the USA they go. The move is spearheaded by Ma Anand Sheela who the Bhagwan has given absolute power of attorney and is in charge of the community’s millions.

In the USA they settle in the sleepy town of Antelope Oregon, home to about 40 elderly retirees, and almost immediately the tension starts. Unsurprisingly, the residents of Antelope are not pleased to have these weird, raucous, free loving, sex-in-public having members of this strange religion led by an odd man with long beard and multiple rolls royces. The group moved to Oregon in 1981, and within four years the tension boiled over and exploded into chaos. There is arson, explosions, biological warfare, assassination attempts, and a whole host of mayhem.


Only a few minutes into episode one, I realised I was familiar with the subject. I had watched an episode of Forensic Files which covered the Rajneeshes and their poisoning of hundreds of people in the community. The documentary was more detailed and offered more about the background of the cult so I continued to watch it, all the time assuming that the poisoning was the crux of the show. After the second episode, I thought the show was dragging on too long; get to the salmonella poisoning already! It turns out the salmonella poisoning was barely the tip of the iceberg and it was only referred to in bits because other crazy shit was going on.

I thoroughly enjoyed the series and I’m pleased I watched it. The build up was great and by the end of the third episode I was fully hooked, hanging on every word. Wild Wild Country takes us back to the heat of the action in the 80s, and the footage of the cult, interviews as well as interviews with the key players of the cult as they are now made it feel as though we were there in real time. I can only imagine the tensions as they happened, and how insane it would have been if there was social media then. I went through a gamut of emotions; the usual irritation and condescension for people who join cults, anger at their bizarre behaviour, sympathy with the non-Rajneesh community, fascination at how the Rajneeshes were able to build a community and amass all the wealth- they had airplanes, tens of rolls royces, 80,000 acres of land which they fully developed- and even sadness towards the end. It was a trip.

I was quite confused with all the geography of the area and all the names- The Dalles, Antelope, Wasco County; all I know is that this story happened in Oregon. The cult leaders also deserved more punishment for their crimes, they poisoned 751 people for goodness sake! But that’s all in the past now.

The documentary mainly focuses on the tensions between the Rajneeshes and the rest of the community, but I would have liked more depth into the Rajneesh community itself-their day to day, what really happened, was it all an elaborate scam from the beginning, why did the Bhagwan need 80 or so rolls royces? I want to know more. I also want to understand the psychology of these seemingly intelligent well to do people who left everything to join this cult. I understand that we are always in search of the truth, and being an adult is exhausting, but it is still a stretch to travel across the world to live in a commune. There were times in the documentary where I thought the Rajneeshes looked really happy with their lives and hmmn maybe they should have just been left alone. But a few minutes later they would do some fucked up shit and I’m back to disliking them.

Some of the Rajneeshes interviewed for the documentary still speak really fondly of the Bhagwan and their time in the community, even Ma Anand Sheela who fell out with the Bhagwan still seemed enthralled by him. It bordered on ridiculousness. Not everyone feels this way. One high ranking member of the community turned state witness against the community and had to go into witness protection. Another high ranking member wrote a book about how she slowly freed herself from the clutches of the cult. In the book she alludes to her children having suffered sexual abuse, and her regret over the trauma she caused. This was something I wondered while watching the documentary; while these adults were out swapping partners and having sex in the open, who was watching the children?

All in all, it’s a good show and I’m glad I watched it. I do enjoy a good documentary.

So how are you all doing?

My toxic trait is dressing for yesterday’s weather. One thing about me, I will sashay outside with the confidence of a thousand armies, without first checking the weather because well, I went outside the other day and the weather was alright so that should of course also apply to the present. Then I find myself outside, freezing to death from all the air blowing up my dress because I have no tights on, feeling my fingers slowly going numb because I have no pockets to warm my hands in, and almost asphyxiating from all the wind blowing in my face. Never again! I yell to myself, and even as I do this I know that I will repeat this nonsense. It’s just who I am.

Another thing about me is my procrastination. I started this post ages ago but never managed to write anything. After a long day at work staring at a screen, I cannot bear to stare at another screen so after a half hearted attempt at writing, I close my personal computer, and pick up my phone to stare at it for six hours straight. It’s just who I am.

It’s 4pm on Sunday and I’m finally doing the writing I was planning on doing all weekend. My last post was about worry, and boy was I stressed out when I wrote that. My manager was inducing my anxiety to the fullest, and I was not sure if she was coming on too strong or if I was simply insecure about my work. The good thing is that I have rolled off that client and have not had to report to this manager since, so I feel a lot better. Also the manager seems to be aware that she’s coming on too strong and she has been a bit better (she probably took the hint from my involuntary sighs and general depressed demeanor). It’s all about communication and understanding.

I’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster two weeks (nothing too hectic, more like the teacup ride at an amusement park). During a “quick call” with this manager to run over some notes for a team meeting (which was in 10 minutes), she asked if I wanted to lead the call and I said sure why not, not because I was eager to do so but because I am dead on the inside and have no strength for a rebuttal. The meeting went well enough even though I picked it up last minute-at one point I actually said out loud “I don’t know what I’m saying.” Thankfully the partner laughed, otherwise it would have been a mess. After the meeting, the manager sent me an appreciation award-which is a note and some money which can be turned into gift cards etc. Of course this lifted my mood considerably and all sins were forgiven. Ha.

Later on in the week the partner informed me that he would like for me to say something at the upcoming client meeting. Now I talk to the client regularly, but this particular meeting was with the top dogs so I was understandably nervous. Usually at these meetings, I would introduce myself and then lay back, sit pretty and let the partner and manager do all the talking. Understandably I was a little stressed, but the partner did a practice session with me and I felt a little better. Thankfully everyone kept their cameras off so that also took a little pressure off. It ended up being not bad at all. I said my piece for less than five minutes and that was it. Even the manager sounded a bit nervous when talking which made me feel a bit better. Practice makes perfect and I’m glad I did it. The feeling of relief after an event one has been anxious about is unmatched. Just bliss.

I am not going to bore you with more tales about how tired I am of work, and how much I want to win the lottery so I can just relax and do fun little projects that make me happy. Moving on.

On Monday I accompanied a manager (not the same one) on a charity walk. She was to pick me and another colleague from our houses and take us to the meeting point for the walk. This manager is famously disorganised- I mean she comes into work at 9am already frazzled, but that’s what being a working mother will do to you. She called me to say that she had some trouble locating my house and I agreed to meet her in a central location. Imagine my shock when I finally got into her car only to realise that she was not using a sat-nav/google maps, but had printed out the maps. She literally had sheets of paper serving as her direction, she must have mapped out the journey on her computer, then printed out the map pages. It’s no wonder she could not locate anywhere. Once we were in the car she was ready to go round in circles until I suggested we use the google maps app on my phone. I entered the destination in the app and the nice voice started leading us to the the location. Of course I must have accidentally pressed something because it re-routed our journey to exactly where we started from so we enjoyed a nice pointless round trip. Eventually we made it to the location just in time for the end of the walk. On the plus side, outside was so beautiful, the air was crisp, the trees were gorgeous, there were dogs running around having fun, a family of ducks swimming along enjoying each other’s company. It was all so beautiful that the gang of rats there did not send me running for the hills. Ah such a lovely day of volunteering.

Another notable event in my crazy fast paced life is that I finally decided to take the limescale/hard water situation in my house seriously. I spent two weeks in my friend’s place during which I ate so much nonsense- Cadbury’s hazelnut chocolate was a daily staple, all sorts of carbs, even dairy. Surprisingly enough, my skin did not break out as much as I expected. This got me thinking; maybe my skin problems were not (solely) caused by my raggedy diet, but by the raggedy water in my house. The water in my house is so hard and has so much limescale that the kettle is permanently ruined and the shower doors have to be descaled constantly. For a while, my biggest worry was using the kettle and removing the limescale from the shower, but I began to wonder whether the hard water was actually a factor in my skin woes. At the suggestion of my friend, I bought a new shower head with a filter, which was surprisingly inexpensive. I also finally got a water filter jug and the water tastes different. My stint in my friend’s place caused me to seriously backslide on my diet (which is weird because she is usually super healthy) so I’m just now slowly trying to get back on track. In the end time will tell, but for now it feels nice to have a new fancy shower head. In the meantime I have to go back to my reduced sugar-no junk-no bread life otherwise all my efforts will be for nought.

I cannot end this post without a shout out to the pack of oranges I’ve been munching on. I usually get clementines/tangerines but decided on a whim to get some actual oranges. Let me tell you something; these oranges have that W.A.P. They are so goddam juicy that as the knife slides in, the juices start gushing out before it even gets to my mouth. I have to eat these oranges with a bib on to reduce the mess. I got another batch and put them in the fridge this time and now they are cold and juicy. I am in heaven.

And there you have it; a long winded roundup of my wild crazy life.

I started writing this at 4pm on Sunday and didn’t finish it until 4pm Monday. With this work rate I’m never going to become a bestselling author am I?

Worry worry baby.

“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
– Swedish Proverb

“Your rest is not rest. You are resting so that you can work. You are working so that you can rest. You are caught up in a circle.”
― Shunya

One thing about me; I am going to worry. A good chunk of my life is spent worrying about what to eat, the rest is spent just worrying in general. I don’t remember when I first encountered anxiety, but it has quickly become the mainstay of my life, that annoying guest that was to spend the weekend but still remains seven years later and even now receives guests in your home.

I am always anxious. I noticed this a few years ago in the thick of prepping for professional exams. I was anxious about the exams while studying for them, anxious on my way to the exam venue, anxious on my way back home, and anxious for the six or so weeks before the results came out. When I say anxious I don’t mean “casually hoping for the best and slight nervousness”, no I mean waking up at 3am in the morning panicking about my answer to question four. I mean constant heart palpitations and skipped beats that has me running off to WebMD.

If I really think about it, anxiety has been around for much longer, although back then I did not call it by its name. I remember the days back in University when I would wake up in a cold sweat, my heart thumping so hard it was impossible to sleep. What was on my mind pray tell? An impending operation? A death? A breakup? An eviction? Nope. It was the exam I had earlier that day. Then the results would come and I would get top marks (I once got 51/50, no lie), enjoy a slight relief while my heart preps itself to go through the ordeal again.

Writing truly is my therapy because as I write it I am beginning to diagnose myself. I don’t remember this anxiety back in secondary school, not even during final year exams. I barely studied back then- I just freestyled the whole thing and still managed to get decent grades. I remember my final year Agric exam in which I casually decided to glance at the textbook before the exam and was so shocked to see that one of the points I read in the textbook actually came up. Wow who knew that reading a textbook prepares you for an exam? I did not have this anxiety in my first term of university- I spent all my time eating butter croissants and watching old American TV shows; The Cosby Show, Good Times, The Jefferson’s and the like. I would literally pause an episode of The Cosby Show, go write an exam and come back to finish it. Sigh good times. Then I got my result at the end of the term and was not pleased. That was when I had the awakening.

What is the awakening you ask? Hold on, I’ll tell you. After seeing my embarrassing first term GPA, it dawned on me that I would have to sit up if I ever wanted to graduate with honours. The period of coasting was over, and I could no longer rely on common sense to pass my exams. I said to myself- you are smart and you are capable of excellent grades, you just have to apply yourself. If you don’t you will spend the rest of your life trying to convince yourself and others that you could have graduated with honours. And so I did. I began studying hard for each class, and actually started getting good grades. From then on I was always on the Dean’s list for academic achievement and even made the Chancellor’s list for academic achievement (this came with a medal). But there was a cost.

See the result of me applying myself was that I got the results I wanted, but accompanying this was a silent stranger who snuck in like a thief in the night. Whereas previously, exams and tests were not the end of the world for me, they quickly become so. No longer could I nonchalantly waltz in and out of exams, now I had to deal with stress and panic on both sides of the exam. I would beat myself up worrying about the exam I just wrote and this stress would only be abated temporarily by an excellent score. Once I got 89% on a psychology midterm and that ruined my week. I was depressed and dismayed. It was ridiculous.

This stranger has followed me from step to step, sometimes walking slowly at a distance, and other times climbing on my back and putting me in a chokehold.

I no longer have exams, thank goodness, but now the anxiety is about work and life in general. Listen I cannot work and be anxiety free at the same time. Work stresses me out to no end and I am tired of it. Thanks to my anxiety, a meeting scheduled for 2pm means I am going to be stressed until 2pm. Everything else I do before 2pm will pale in significance to the meeting.
I also worry too much and assume unnecessarily. A manager could ask a quick question and that is enough to send me in a downward spiral of doubt and angst. “Oh God what the hell does she want oh my goodness why won’t she leave me alone I ain’t got the answers sway and I feel bad because I probably should have the answers now she has activated my doubt and made me feel foolish and I wish I didn’t have to work with her but really she is not a bad person just overbearing and the reason I feel bad is because she is asking valid questions that I should have asked and oh God I thought tomorrow was Friday but it’s not so now I have to face two more days with her uggggghhhhh let me pep myself up so I don’t sound depressed on the quick call which I really would rather not be on“. Then we have the call and it’s not anywhere close to being a big deal. Madness.

A small portion of my anxiety is the regular anxiety that functioning adults have when dealing with work and deadlines, but most of it is self inflicted from the pressure I put on myself. A manager leaves a review comment on my work and immediately I start to feel stupid for not knowing the answer and not thinking about that in the first place. Then I feel annoyed with the manager and the job as a whole. It’s a mess.

It was the intense stress of exams and waiting for exam results that drove me back to God in 2019, and once I got over that I went back to being a pagan but that’s a story for another day.

The thing is that I can’t just quit my job and hope for happiness because the anxiety is in me not the job. Even if I get a job in which I can explore my creative talents I will still be riddled with anxiety. Even those people who seem to have it all- writers, singers etc must constantly deal with anxiety. I can just see myself as an award winning writer-living in my dream home and still battling with anxiety over my new book; screaming out in irritation every time my editor calls to check in, worrying about meeting the deadline and being sick over how the book will be received. I won’t have a monthly salary/steady income so there will be the stress of ensuring I don’t go broke.

The only way I can be truly happy is to have no pressing responsibilities, no deadlines, no “urgent meetings/quick calls to discuss…” All I need is a steady influx of >£10k each month into perpetuity and I’m good. Oh my God I can’t wait to find the life that’s for me.

For the sake of it.

I have nothing to write, but I have not written in a long time so I will write this just for the sake of it.

Back in February I wrote a post for Lent, in which I once again outlined what I will try to give up during lent. Of course I didn’t read three books, but I did manage to stay away from sugar and junk for the duration (it’s a different story since Easter…blame it on my friends) so I will accept the little victories. To my disappointment I did not write at all (shocking -_-) and barely managed to reduce my screen-time which in turn affected my sleep and general wellbeing. At a point I felt quite down and unhappy (more and more recently).

However, I came down to stay with my friends for my birthday and they insisted I stay. This was against my natural instinct to soak up the little social interaction and run back to my (dis)comfort zone. I thought to myself-what are you running back to? Just stay here with your friends and enjoy the company and laughter and arguments. For my birthday my friend spent the day cooking for me, and I have been eating well ever since. I got presents and it was nice to be made a fuss over. I have also been eaten more junk than I have in recent months (even ice cream!), but I am happy and have not yet broken out so maybe unhappiness and loneliness was the real cause of acne.

It feels good to have real time in person conversations with people I like. To laugh and make people laugh, and see the laughing faces in real life- not just emojis. I am now reading a book, and will try to write more. We spend the working day bitching about work and fantasizing about winning the lottery. We spend ages debating what to watch on telly, only to stay on our phones anyway. We tease each other and bounce back quickly.

It’s the weekend and I am looking forward to lazing around and watching TV with my girls. On Monday outside opens again so maybe we’ll go out. Months and months of isolation have frozen my heart, and I am slowly thawing out. When I return home it will be hard to be alone again.

Goodnight.

I desire nothing more than a deep restful sleep.

Writing aside, the one thing I always want to do is sleep. I crave the feeling of burrowing deep into a thick blanket on a rainy day, with nothing to do but relax. Yet, just like writing, I hardly indulge myself with a good night’s rest. Even on weekends and holidays I am up as early as possible to tackle the day’s tasks of staring at my phone for hours straight, then taking a break to stare at my television for the rest of the day. I find it difficult to do the more productive things like writing, reading, pondering my life’s existence; all I do is stare at a screen.

Thankfully, everyone in the world is going through the same thing. The netizens have come up with a term for this: Revenge Bedtime Procrastination ‘bàofùxìng áoyè’ as the Chinese refer to it. This term describes how people who do not have much control over their lives and schedules during the day refuse to go to sleep so as to gain some sense of control and freedom at night. I definitely understand this. I have a poster in my room which boldly shouts “Stop waiting for Friday!” which is really easier said than done. I work all day and all week, and when I get off work I just want to do whatever. The problem is that I am sacrificing sleep for temporary pleasure, and it is getting harder to ignore the negative effects. I deleted Instagram for Lent, and before I did I would spend hours, way past my bed time, mindlessly scrolling through pointless posts on the explore page. Did I really need to go down the rabbit hole of what celebrity is sleeping with who? Did I care about the pointless e-fight between people I don’t know? Animal videos, tik-toks, every damn thing. I would lay in bed with my eyes burning and yet I could not tear my eyes away and go to sleep. The effect of this is that I was often tired and forgetful. I never truly felt rested, and would wake up tired. I would chastise myself for wasting all that time that I could have spent sleeping, but yet when nighttime came I would do it all over again. I deleted Instagram but quickly replaced it with YouTube, watching tens of videos each day, wildly swinging from broody hens to notable dictators to my favourite crime videos.

I recently saw a video about the importance of getting adequate sleep and how detrimental less than 7.5 hours of restful sleep is to our health. Of course I already knew this, but still I spent the time watching it on YouTube after getting a good 5 hours of sleep. The interesting thing was the roles phones, laptops et al play in our raggedy sleep schedules. The blue light emitted from the screens increase cortisol which makes it difficult for us to go to sleep. Again I know this and I always promise myself that I will put away from my electronics an hour before bedtime and I almost never do.

Not to keep banging on about loneliness, but this is yet another way loneliness shows up in my life. Years of living alone with no one to have a regular conversation with has made me deeply addicted to my phone. Most days, the only voices I hear are from my phone or telly. Tragic. If I had regular human contact with people I actually care to talk to, I reckon I would be less dependent on my phone. A couple of weeks back I kept my telly off the whole weekend and read a book instead. At first I was racing through the book so I could turn on the TV and faff around, but as time went on I decided to not watch tv until I was done with the book. I thought to myself “The TV and the shows in it are not going anywhere! Just take a break and relax.” It was actually weird to see how dependent I am, like a child with no self control. I did take some YouTube breaks to reward myself for reaching milestone pages, but still it felt good to do something else with my time (and my eyes were thankful for that).

I am not going to end this with another nonsensical declaration about how I will throw my phones away and sleep more, because I probably won’t. I will try though, because it will be sad when this pandemic is over and we are all back to commuting and I realise I did not take advantage of my time at home by sleeping enough. On Sunday, after spending the whole of Saturday on YouTube, I woke up early as usual, quickly perused YT and forced myself to go back to sleep for a few more hours. It felt good.

The takeaway is this; binging on YouTube is as terrible as my sugar binges. The videos and shows will still be there, and I need to pace myself. Sleep tight!

Five years later…

Sometimes I wish I could peek into my life 5 years from now, to see how things will be.

Five years ago in March of 2016, on the one year anniversary of this blog, I wrote a post in which I wondered what my life would be like in 2021.

What will my life be like 5 years from now, I wonder? Will I be happy and fulfilled? Will I still be alive? Will I have fallen victim to a maniac suicide bomber? Life has this way of being completely unpredictable, tossing you in directions in which you never expected. Whatever happens, I hope to be alive, I hope to be happy, and I hope to always have a reason to laugh.

Well I am pleased to say that I am still alive, to the glory of God, and I have not fallen victim to a suicide bomber (or pandemic or a crazy flat-mate or food poisoning). I am not however, happy and fulfilled. Far from it. I am trying to remember what I was doing in March 2016. I had finished university and National service, and was sat at home, bored as hell, trying to figure out my next step. I would end up applying for a Master’s degree and move to a different continent by myself. In 5 years, I have completed my Master’s Degree, started a job, and finished a professional qualification. Personally, I am in the same comfortable rut that I have been in for over a decade. It makes me a bit sad that I am still waiting for my life to begin, and as I get older I get more nervous that it will never happen. In five years I will still be here waiting for my life to begin. Terrifying.

Sometimes I scare myself by thinking: what if nothing changes? What if I am in this exact same spot, daydreaming about the same things and watching life pass me by? Change is scary, but even scarier is remaining the same.

Sigh. I haven’t the foggiest clue how to move my life forward and make my life more fulfilling. I have to put down my phone and sit with myself for a while. Things haven’t been all bad; there have been moments of laughter and fun, but they are not enough and they have no long lasting effect on my heart-once the moment ends, the feeling disappears as well.

One day I will come back and write about how happy and fulfilled I am. I’m over the whining.