What I’ve Been Reading and Listening to: June 19th-25th

What I’ve been reading: The Book of The Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

The Book of The Unnamed Midwife

I love my post-apocalyptic fiction. Yes, I know it’s bleak, but I find it fascinating. In this novel, a pandemic has killed off nearly all of mankind; and not only that, it has affected women more than men. It’s a dangerous world for the few remaining women, such as the unnamed midwife, who decides to try and pass as a man for her own safety. I’ve read a lot of post-apocalyptic novels, but this story of a disease which killed off much more women is a fresh tale, as dark and scary as parts of it are. I’m about half-way through, and it’s a gripping story.

What I’ve been listening to: Welcome to Night Vale

Anyone who listens to audio dramas will think, you’re only listening to that now?? Night Vale is the podcast which has introduced a lot of people to the world of audio dramas, and more often than not, it’s the starting point for fans of the medium. I’ve had it in my podcast app, waiting for me for weeks, but I finally got round to starting it this week. I’d heard a lot about it, so I had a good idea of what to expect; but I didn’t actually know what the format was, that it’s broadcasts from the town’s radio station. I’m a fan of the magical realism (Murakami ftw!) genre, so this is right up my street. The broadcasts tell the community about the strange things that have been going on in the town, such as a glow cloud floating in the sky, dinosaurs appearing through a portal in time, and mysterious hooded figures… I’m only four episodes in, I haven’t been listening to as many podcasts and episodes this week as I’d normally do, but I completely understand the hype around the show now!

Welsh Word of The Week

Tywydd

Y tywydd – the weather

After a fairly bonkers week metrologically speaking, what else could it be? After a few days of temperatures reaching 26 in my part of south-west Wales, y tywydd has since literally and figuratively chilled (because really, the UK reaching about 30 degrees in June was a case of the summer having zero chill), and at the moment it’s a much more sensible 16 degrees. After having lived in a country where temperatures would reach over 30 degrees for days on end every summer, people going crazy about temperatures in the mid-twenties was very amusing to me. Everyone was saying how hot it was, and I was saying that it was hot for here. As for today, it’s still very humid, and feels warmer than what it actually is. And yes, that’s the grey sky currently sat over my hometown!

Rejection and The Long Term Single Woman

Late last Friday night, I was trying to fall asleep. By then it was around midnight, and I wanted to get up fairly early on Saturday morning. Then a a memory came back to me like a punch in the gut. I have no idea where it came from, other than the general low mood I’d had that day and the couple of days preceding it. The memory was from when I was at university, 10 years ago to this month. Since then, I’ve been sitting on this blog post, wondering what to do with it. I still don’t know if it’s a good idea, and I might delete it later or tomorrow or whatever. But here’s the story. And I think it goes some way to explaining who I am, and the experiences I’ve had in life.

Once upon a time, there was a third year university student who was in love with one of her closest friends. She told him how she felt, and this is where the story ends.

Towards the end of my third year, our third year, I’d decided to tell him how I felt. It was about time, it had gone on long enough. I knew nothing good would come of it, he’d had enough time to ask me out, and I wanted to try and move on. It was the night of the university’s graduation ball (even though we we weren’t in our final year yet, he’d gone with friends); and for whatever reason, my logic in the days running up to it was to tell him late that night when he was at the event. I probably thought that the alcohol he would have consumed would have made it easier for him. I phoned him, ‘I’ve got something I need to tell you’ I told him. I still remember my tone of voice, the feeling of resignation, the dread in the pit of my stomach. He couldn’t hear me. So I sent him a text.

I didn’t hear anything from him that night. Or the following day. Or during the following weeks. It was as if he’d disappeared off the face of the earth. The graduation ball was only a few days away from the end of term, and the end of the academic year. I packed up my stuff, and went back to Wales with a broken heart.

That summer, the one before the start of our final year, we all had to go abroad for a certain amount of time, depending on our degree courses. I had to go to Italy for a month, and had chosen to go to a language school in Pisa. I still remember seeing his Facebook statuses during that summer, and photos of his time in both France and Italy. It was like a stab in the heart, he was no longer telling me these things directly, even though we’d been so close in the past.

One of the clearest memories I have from that month in Pisa, very nearly 10 years on, is seeing this song by an Italian artist, and this song by a British band on MTV and crying my heart out. Even now, looking back to that summer, the memories I have of Pisa and the experiences I had during that month are still tinged with sadness.

In the month and a half I had after coming back home from Pisa before the start of the final year, I went on a diet. Your typical heartbroken reaction, right? I got down to a size 10, the smallest I’d been up to that point, and I was so proud of myself. I remember wearing a new stripey jumper and black jeans on the first day of term at a meeting for all the final year students in the Italian department. I was sat on the end of a row of chairs, and he was somewhere behind me. Before the meeting actually started, he said something to me, that I looked well, or something along those lines. The first words I’d heard from him in over three months. But that was it, things were icy. Communication between us during that first term was minimal, nothing like how inseparable we had been in lectures during our first year. I also purposely distanced myself, hoping that seeing him less would be better for me. I purposely chose language classes he wasn’t in – due to the amount of students in our year, language and translation classes were held at different times – but there was one I couldn’t avoid taking because of other clashes with my timetable. I remember the feeling of some of those lessons, like there was an elephant in the room. We were sat at opposite ends, or far away, not saying a word to each other.

Our friendship had completely changed. Even now, I keep thinking, how much did people notice? When I eventually told some of my closest friends that I’d been in love with someone of our wider group of friends from our year, they said they didn’t know. But I find it difficult to believe that they didn’t have some kind of inkling.

Things only thawed after one Saturday night out at the beginning of December. I texted him asking if we could be friends, and he said that it’d be a ‘good idea’, and we arranged to meet. Even though I’d tried to distance myself from him, I missed him. I missed his company as a friend, I missed talking to him. So we met up, a couple of days later, if I remember correctly. It wasn’t quite as awkward as I thought it would be, but it just wasn’t the same. I could tell he wasn’t comfortable, and I wasn’t either.

After that, my life at university very much changed. In the time I’d distanced myself from him, I’d got to know my other friends better and spent more time with them. I socialised more, I went out more, and even though my finals were looming, I had so much fun. I just wish I’d done it sooner, instead of fixating on someone that could never have been more than a friend to me.

I never asked why he didn’t reply to the text I’d sent him, I just couldn’t face bringing it up; and he didn’t offer any explanation, either. And every time I saw him afterwards it was at the back of my mind. The proof that he wasn’t such a good person, after all. I remember having a certain feeling of wariness when I spent time with him during the last few months of our final year, as if I was waiting for him to snap at me or insult me. But he never did. It was as if it he were a different person to the one who disappeared for months.

That was the most difficult heartbreak I’ve been through, and I’ve been through more than my fair share of harsh rejections in life. It’s difficult to be always optimistic when you’ve spent nearly your entire life single. Right now it feels like I don’t even have the faintest glimmer of hope shining off in the distance. It’s easy to relive past disappointments, and wonder what – if anything – you could’ve done differently, better. To imagine a life in an alternative universe. Yes, it wasn’t meant to be, I can see that. He treated me in such a disrespectful way because I’d dared to develop feelings for him. But still, sometimes I wish that he’d just given me a chance. I was constantly trying to show him my best side, that I was worthy, but it didn’t work. And knowing that has left a scar that might never truly heal. But saying that, it doesn’t hurt anymore, it was 10 years ago, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. But it’s still sad that it happened. It’s sad that, even though we were good friends, my physical appearance or my personality or whatever it was, well, repulsed him, it seems. Experiences like this can have a profound impact on your personality and your way of seeing yourself – if you let them, and especially if you have a string of them. And I let this one.

On self-belief and self-criticism

I did a lot of thinking last night about self-belief and self-criticism. I won’t get into the details about how all that came up, but before I knew it, I had quickly written something which could have resembled a draft blog post. And it’s something I wanted to share. A lack of self-belief is a problem I’ve had for years, especially more in my love life, but also in my professional life.

Last week, I had an interview for a temporary summer job, which knocked my confidence greatly, when it really shouldn’t have. I didn’t get through to the next stage of the recruitment process, and I took it a lot worse than I should’ve done – I shouldn’t let such things get to me when I’m job hunting, otherwise I’ll never find employment. The interview was a situation I’d never been in before, a large group interview, where nearly all of the other applicants were either in school, in university, or awaiting graduation. Even with all the experience I have in retail and customer service, I felt intimidated by the teenagers and young adults who were much more confident and energetic than I was. It made me think about how they had much more possibility for growth and new opportunities in their life than me. Which, at least with this job, was true.

So what if I look for a job where a knowledge of Italian is essential? Well, I haven’t got far there either. I’ve read so many job adverts where the employers want much more than simply fluency in one language. They want one, or two more additional languages – sometimes more unusual combinations like Italian with French and Japanese. Or they require skills I don’t have, like IT knowledge, or the dreaded ‘[so many years] of experience in the same role’. So it makes me feel like my skills are insufficient. Retail is what I do, what I first started out doing, but feel like I can no longer compete with young adults.

I’m my fiercest critic when it comes to my looks, even though anything I tell myself at this point in life isn’t something I haven’t heard from a boy or man over the years. It’s kind of difficult when boys literally started laughing at me because of my appearance at the age of 16, and only one man over the years has openly contradicted what they thought back then. But I thinks it’s got to a point where I’ve accepted that my appearance for what it is, and there’s no point in getting sad about it. If anything, I laugh about it, my spotty skin which doesn’t seem to want to leave its stubborn teenage phase mo matter what I do; my wonky teeth, my thinning hair, the fact that about half the time I still get asked for ID when I buy alcohol, my still-chubby belly and fat thighs… I could go on.

As for my writing, well… I wanted to start writing again properly, and dedicate more time to it because it’s something I enjoy. I’m aware that I’m not very good at it, but I wanted to practice more, to stretch my writing muscle, so to speak, and to try and improve. One thing I was thinking about last night was how the Internet creates so much competition between people who, for example, write or make art. You might be proud of what you did, but it’s easy to see something that you think is better, and get discouraged. I used to write fiction years ago when I only had dial-up, and now I realise how much easier it was without all the outside influences I have today. I was so much happier about what I wrote. Of course, I still read books back then, but it’s not the same thing for me. Now there are so many self-published Amazon books, ‘normal’ people who write in addition to their day jobs (or maybe not, in some cases). And it’s easy to get discouraged because I feel like could be like them too, if I had enough self-belief, if I worked hard enough. But what’s more important for me now, as it was with my old blog, is telling my story. Sharing my experiences with others. For the last nine years or so, I’ve lived quite an unusual life, and I think that some people could find it interesting. Maybe. The fact that I’m trying to justify the fact that I’m actually blogging says a lot about my belief in my ability to actually write well.

So what can I take from all this? I’m not exactly sure, to be honest. Maybe more of an awareness that constantly comparing myself to others isn’t healthy. That life isn’t a competition, and what’s important is that we do what makes us happy. Easier said than done though, I guess.

Different Summers

It’s been surprisingly hot in my part of Wales these last few days. Well, in the UK in general. And by surprisingly hot I mean about TWENTY SIX DEGREES. Everyone has lost their minds, obviously. I mean, the whole of the UK in general goes crazy even at 5 minutes of sunshine in March, never mind 30-odd degrees in some places in June. This morning I woke up to find the hashtag #TooHotToSleep trending on Twitter. I couldn’t help but laugh. Yes, I’d left my window open overnight, but by morning I was happily sleeping under my duvet. I didn’t see much of the sun over the weekend, as I spent most of it inside, reading, making jewellery… But I did go outside for an hour or so yesterday morning, to get a couple of things from the shops, but being outside in hot weather (though, let’s face it, this wasn’t hot for Italian summer standards) has lost its appeal for me. I much prefer cooler weather, being able to sleep under a duvet, being able to wear clothes that don’t show off far too much of my arms or legs, and not falling victim to my low blood pressure.

I wasn’t much of a fan of Italian summers. And I’ll probably get criticised for saying that, but it’s how I felt. There is SO much hype in Italy in the run-up to the hot weather’s arrival, people talking about the beach, holidays, evenings outside… But it’s just SO HOT. Two summers ago was the worst one I’d experienced, it must’ve been a period of 10 days, or something around that, where the temperature reached over 35 degrees every day. I couldn’t even go outside in the middle of the day to go and have my lunch, it was horrible. I’d walk home, and the heat around me felt like a heavy weight on my back, making it hard to move, hard to breathe. Every night during that extra-hot period I’d make myself a cold bath, and just lie there until my over-baked body temperature made the water uncomfortably warm. It was difficult sleeping, and in the morning I’d wake up dripping with sweat, with a headache, and finding it difficult to breathe.

I always felt so out of place during the summer. I kept comparing myself to the many tanned, thin Italian women that I saw out and about, or worked with. Even though I was no bigger than a UK size 10 during most of my time in Italy, I felt very self-conscious. My bingo wings were on show, I had trouble finding skirts that suited me, sandals that didn’t cut my feet, and was worried that my dresses clung to my too-wide hips. I eventually made peace with my pale skin, but initially I felt the pressure to try and be as tanned as possible – even though my typically Celtic skin would never tan as dark as your typical Mediterranean person. I was always too glad to see the return of the cooler weather, and to be able to wear jeans and Converse and hide my body again.

I did have a few holidays on the Italian coast, weekends mostly, but in 2014 I went to Riccione on the Adriatic coast for six days. It was such an interesting experience! I was staying in a bed and breakfast on the corner of what was pretty much the main street in the town, and people would be walking up and down the street, talking and having fun until the early hours. I went to a MASSIVE water park, unlike anything I’d seen before, and spent time on the beach. The beach is really the only place where the heat is tolerable. Where you can just lie there on your rented lounger, and do nothing. I’ll never forget the first time I went into the sea in Italy. I was on the other side of the country, it was during the period when I was in Pisa, 10 years ago this summer. The water was so warm! I knew it would be, but I couldn’t believe just how warm it was! It was SUCH a strange feeling, it was like everything I’d experienced about the sea in my life up to that point had been wrong. I always found it fascinating watching the difference between two countries when it came to something so universal such as the sea. How the Italians would walk up and down the shore, how they’d stand in the sea talking… Not to mention how you had to rent a lounger on the beach – unless you went to a spiaggia libera, a free beach, then it was like what we have in the UK, you just pop your towel down where you want. I loved observing the cultural differences at the seaside during my summers in Italy, it was like a completely different world to what I’d grown up with – the cold Atlantic, running back from having been in the sea to get wrapped up in a big towel, still shivering. Here, the sand was too hot to walk on, and the last thing you’d want to do in 30+ degree heat was wrap yourself up in a towel!

Obviously, being in the UK, the hot weather isn’t set to last. I was watching the forecast this morning, which warned of the chance of thunderstorms overnight. For someone who claims to be scared of thunder and lightning, I loved the Italian summer thunderstorms. Especially if they showed up during the evening, the air the following morning would be so much cooler and fresher. Tomorrow should still be nice and warm in my neck of the woods, and then it’s supposed to cool down on Thursday. And after that, knowing the good old British summer, that’ll probably be it for the hot weather this year!

What I’ve Been Reading and Listening to: June 12th-18th

What I’ve been reading – Virtual Light by William Gibson

Virtual Light

I might finally be clawing myself out of my reading slump! I actually read a book in two days this week, not this one, but Generation A by Douglas Coupland. The next book I picked up was Virtual Light. I’ve been looking for Gibson’s Neuromancer at the Free Books, but I haven’t found it yet; Virtual Light wasn’t on my Longass To Be Read List, but I decided I’d give it a go, as it was by the same author. I’m only on chapter 6 so far, to be honest I found the beginning of the book a bit of a struggle, but it’s got easier as I’ve understood the world that it’s set in better. It has a very Blade Runner aesthetic to me (the film more than the book it was based on), it’s a future that was imagined about 25 years ago, with things like futuristic versions of fax machines and cassette tapes being used. It’s shocking that for someone who claims to love sci-fi and especially speculative fiction, that I haven’t read any of Gibson’s novels yet!

What I’ve been listening to – Kakos Industries

Yes, the biggest event in podcast land for me this week was the return of my absolute favourite, Wolf 359, but I’ve already mentioned that more than enough. About a week and a half ago, I was talking on Twitter with an Italian woman who I’ve got to know through the Wolf 359 fandom, and we started discussing which other podcasts we listen to. One of the ones she mentioned was Kakos Industries, which I had on my Longass List of Podcasts to Listen To, but I hadn’t got around to actually listen to it. So, on Tuesday when I was thinking of which new podcast to listen to, I chose that one. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it though…! Kakos Industries’ slogan is ‘Do Evil Better’. It’s a company that thinks up all kinds of different ways to that, and introduce more evil into the world; from board games which destroy life-long friendships, to, err, a labour camp called Hell. Yes, it’s dark and twisted, but still oh so funny. The concept is that the episodes are shareholder announcements, read out by the company’s CEO; strictly for the ears of Kakos Industries’ shareholders, broadcast on a different kind of radio which is delivered to them each time… I love the creativity behind this project, it takes a very talented mind to come up with such a concept!

I’ve been getting through quite a lot of other podcast episodes this week too, especially Spirits. I’m finally up to episodes from this spring, yay!

 

Welsh Word of The Week

Hwyr

hwyr – late

Before anyone makes any tired jokes, ‘w’ and ‘y’ are vowels in Welsh. Deal with it.

As I was thinking last night, this week I’ve mostly been staying up late because of things that I’m a fan of. The most extreme case was Monday night. Oh, it’s a lot of fun being an obsessive fan of an American audio drama when you live in the UK. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, I’m a huge fan of a sci-fi audio drama called Wolf 359. So, Monday the first episode of the fourth and final season made its way out into the world. Well, I say Monday. It was Monday for the States. It was Tuesday for me. The creative team did a Q&A session on Facebook at midnight UK time, and said that the episode would be out in about an hour. So 2am UK time by then. I can live with that, I thought. I’ve done more ridiculous things in the past than stay up until 2am to hear a new episode of my favourite podcast. Heck, I’ve gone to a radio station by 1am to watch a nighttime show being broadcast, and stayed there until 4am. Staying up until the middle of the night for something is not a new thing for me. So I settled in for the wait. 2am and no new episode. 2.30am, 3am… By then, I really should’ve gone to sleep, but I thought, I’ve come this far, I’m not giving up now. About 3.30am the creator of the show tweeted that there had been issues with it, and that the episode would be up ASAP. It was just after 4am when it was uploaded. And it was nearly 5am by the time I’d listened to it. It was starting to get light outside.  It was no longer hwyr, it was gynnar (early). When I closed my eyes, I noticed how sore they were. I’d been awake for about 22 hours, after having had a job interview in the evening.

So, that was an experience. And very much worth the wait. I know it’s going to seem completely crazy to a lot of people, but this is very much how I roll in life. Saying that, I’m hoping this doesn’t happen for all the other episodes that are going to be released over the next six months…

Setbacks

On Monday, I had a job interview for a temporary summer job at a shop in my hometown. Yesterday I found out that I wouldn’t be progressing to the next stage of the recruitment process. I don’t want to name the company I had the interview with, because I don’t want to criticise them; if anything, this is going to be some pretty harsh criticism of myself.

I’d been told that the interview would be a ‘large’ group interview, but I wasn’t expecting to see what I saw when we all arrived at the store on Monday evening. There were 21 of us; and except for one other lady, I was the only person who wasn’t in school, university, or was a graduand. So, from the get-go I felt intimidated, and very aware of the difference in age between me and nearly every other person around me. When I received the email mentioning a group interview, my heart sank a little. I knew I wouldn’t be able to perform as well as I would’ve done in a one-on-one interview. I’m an introvert, I find it easier to talk to individuals as opposed to groups. I often take the position of the listener, and leave the talking to the more outgoing people. I did try my best to be as confident, talkative, and relaxed as possible, but it seems that it just wasn’t enough.

I’ve worked in retail and customer service since I was 16. In sixth form I had a weekend job, and also worked during holiday periods; and when I was at university I carried on working during academic holidays, right up until the end of the Christmas holiday in my final year. So to be told that all this wasn’t enough for a summer job was a huge knock to my confidence. It was the closest I’d got to getting a job in five months. When you have such a terrible self-image as I do, a chronic lack of self-confidence and self-belief and self-esteem and a lot of other self- prefixed things, something like this can really shake you. But unlike with dating, I can’t just give up on finding a job because I’m not getting anywhere, I have to carry on.

This all puts me in puts me in a difficult position with retail work. I’ve got plenty of experience, and a CV that’s been called ‘unique’; but I don’t have the the chatty, outgoing, most-talkative-member-of-the-group personality some companies are looking for. I’ve done plenty of translation work in the past, for friends, and at my job in Italy – even though it was never part of my job description. But my experience lies in retail and customer service; and, already not having much faith in any ability I may have in general, it’s made me seriously question my skills. The management offered feedback if requested, but to me that would only confirm what I already know. That I wasn’t confident enough, that I wasn’t outgoing enough, that I wasn’t talkative enough. And those aren’t things I can’t fix, at least not easily at my age. They’re part of of what makes me who I am.

But this is part and package of the experience of looking for work. This morning I was thinking how much it’s like dating – unless you’ve completely given up on that like I have, that is. You try, you get rejected, you pick yourself up, and you try again. You carry on hoping that some day you’ll fit someone’s definition of ‘ideal’.

So, where does that leave me now? With a lot of thinking to do. Thinking about how I have to be more selective with the jobs I apply for. Thinking about how even though it’s a company that I’d love to work for, I have to take my suitability for the position much more seriously. Thinking about the role of personality compared to experience. Thinking about how I can’t squeeze myself into a mould that doesn’t fit me. And then, I’ll pick myself up and try again.

Strength and the Long Term Single Woman

A few weeks ago, one of my Italian friends posted a link to this article from Huffington Post Italy, which had been translated from this article; and it struck a chord with me. I was in the car when I read it, and immediately started writing down my reaction and feelings about what I’d just read. Until now I’ve been sitting on my notes, waiting for the right moment to flesh out my thoughts and write a proper post about it. After something that happened to me this morning, this is the right moment.

My initial reaction was that it was the same old story of woman chasing men, and not getting anywhere. Something I’ve seen a lot of over the years, but that I’ve experienced in a very different way to the woman who wrote the article. It was a different tale to the experience I’ve had in life. As far as I see it, there are two very distinct categories of single women – there are single women who date, and there are single women like me who don’t even get that far. And they are two very different lives. So I was seeing this article from a completely different point of view to the woman who wrote it. There’s a huge difference between men being ‘assholes’ because they demand sex or send explicit messages when they first contact women on dating sites, or ghost them further down the line; and men who are ‘assholes’ because they completely flat out ignore you, regardless of how hard you’re trying to impress them. Yes there’s the whole, ‘you’re better off without him’ thing. Which might well be true, but on a personal level, I wish I could’ve at least had the chance to find that out myself in the past. It’s easy to say that you’re ‘better off’ when you find out that the man you went on a date or multiple dates with wasn’t good for you for whatever reason, but when you didn’t even get the chance? It’s easy to villanise men, heck, it seems to be cool to do so on social media now. And up to a point, I have to say that I agree. Women have got sick of how a lot of men treat a lot of women. But not everyone is like that. I try to be rational, and not tar every man with the ‘trash’ brush; even though it’s something I’ve fallen into all-too-easily in the past. And if I can be rational about it when every single man I’ve wanted to date has rejected me, then… When you’re in your early thirties with only one very brief relationship behind you, it’s easy to see your ex as the one nice exception in a sea of bad people. Especially when the sea seems hell-bent on not proving you wrong.

So, for many it’s seen as ‘strength’ to be alone, but there’s a limit to that opinion. A line in the sand. Be single for too long and you’re not seen as being strong anymore. You’re seen as being strange. I’m fully aware that not having had any kind of relationship until the ripe old age of 27 is a massive red flag, even now. It’s not seen as strength, it’s seen as ‘there’s something really effing wrong with you’. Which isn’t necessarily always true, but it’s what society thinks. There are a lot of women out there who have been very unlucky. Because of my weight, because of my looks, because of my personality and interests – it wasn’t necessarily anyone’s fault, or at least, that’s what I like to tell myself. Yes, the other part was bad luck, or at least bad decisions on my part. But even people who date make bad decisions – as the article says. I’m not going to deny that having been that single for that long is a disadvantage in many ways, but it doesn’t make me any less deserving of love.

So, what happened this morning? After months of radio silence, instigated by myself, my ex sent me a message. A kind of update, if you will. And details I really didn’t need to know. After I broke up with him we’d stayed friends, mostly. Then about four months ago I broke contact with him because I was tired of him disappearing for days on end, without explanation. I’m too old for that kind of game. It might seem petty, but it’s happened to me too many times with too many people over the years, and I was so tired of it. This morning, strength would’ve been saying [expletive] that [expletive], and going back to bed. But the message made me so angry and so sad. I’d been coping with my long term single status so well recently, with a new-found state of acceptance and peace. It was a reminder of what I once had, what now feels like a different lifetime. It shook me deeply.

It’s difficult to be strong, in a world where you’re treated as not being as valid if you’re a single person. Where you’re judged for being alone for too long. Or for not trying to find someone. When storylines on TV or songs on the radio remind you that you crave affection, someone’s touch, and just a bit of company. When you don’t even want to go to sleep at night, because you can’t bear the thought of another night alone. But no, you have to push those thoughts away, back to the deeper recesses of your mind – otherwise life gets too difficult.

So I don’t see myself as being strong. Resilient, maybe. Someone who adapts well to change. I haven’t had the easiest of lives, it always seems that the slightest good thing I have always gets taken away from me, and I have to fight tooth and nail just to get something I’m satisfied with. I could easily use it as an excuse, that I’m strong enough to be on my own. But I’m not. I’m just used to it. At 31, I’ve only had a couple of months in a relationship. The people I went to school and uni with have settled down, and got married, and I’m still single. It still hurts to be alone, at this point in my life I can’t see a day arriving where I won’t feel some kind of pain thinking about what I don’t have, and what I haven’t had over the years. It hurts to see all my school and uni friends getting married, to have family friends talk to me about their children’s weddings – people who are, very often, younger than me. But there’s the pressure of always having appear to be strong, because nobody likes the single person who’s always moping and complaining about being alone. Nobody likes a killjoy. So I’m not left with much of a choice. I have to bury my feelings, appear strong, and get on with things. For my own sake, too.

But right now, I’m focusing on myself and what makes me happy, and no longer trying to full the hole left by by absence of someone in my life. I’ve accepted that, unless I drastically change my way of living life, it’s not going to happen. And maybe that makes me strong, who knows.

What I’ve Been Reading and Listening To: June 5th-11th

What I’ve been reading – The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing

I’m still struggling with my reading, and I haven’t had as much time this week as I’d normally have; so I was looking for a book in my collection that I’d enjoy and get through easily. The Testing belongs to a sub-genre I’ve read a lot of, Young Adult dystopia (don’t judge me), and is set in a future world which has been ravaged by war. It can be easily compared to The Hunger Games for the twisted tasks the protagonist is made to go through, with the government ready to sacrifice a few young adults for the good of the many; as well as the world it’s set in on a more general level. My Kindle tells me I got through over 30% of it yesterday, which for my recent reading record, is great. I’m looking forward to finding out which decisions the protagonist, Cia, makes, and seeing what direction the story will take.

What I’ve been listening to – Wolf 359

Yaaaaaaaassssssss. I’d been planning on mentioning this next weekend, I was always going to mention this next weekend, as the fourth and final season of my favourite audio drama was due to start tomorrow, on the 12th of June. Ha! The team of evil geniuses behind the show decided to – to quote one of the writers on Twitter – ‘break a subsection of the Internet’ by releasing a special two hour episode on Friday 9th. Without spoiling too much of the show, long story short (and shout out to everyone else who gets the reference!) it’s an episode about the previous crew of the space station Wolf 359 is set on, the USS Hephaestus; which we all knew was coming at some point, as it was a goal for reaching a certain amount of fan-sourced funding on Patreon. But getting it before the promised start of season 4 was a HUGE surprise. I completely freaked out. Oh, and it also features a character called Eris which I found partly hilarious, partly terrifying… I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of the show, and the special is on a whole other level to everything else they’ve done so far; from the writing to the production, and just the fact that it’s about four times longer than your average episode. It’s a phenomenal piece of work!