Shhh, don’t tell anyone you saw me. I’ve blocked my emails from my phone for the Easter Weekend, so I am officially off the grid. Ish. I am supposed to be recovering from a monster cold I had last week and catching up with course work, but I’ve actually gone shopping, reorganised my Etsy cupboard and had a medium nap. HAPPY JESUS WEEKEND!
I love Easter, mostly because it’s the only weekend other than Christmas when I can eat more than I check my emails without thinking I’m losing business, but it’s also got that new year feel to it, because the new tax year is next week. I love the new tax year. It’s a fresh start! An opportunity to make more money and to remind HMRC that I am a valued member of society. Well not really because I earn a fraction of the acceptable wage for most adult humans, so I’m not eligible for income tax, but next year might be the year!
I’ll stop with the Jesus Christ Superstar gifs now, but I want you to know that I don’t really want to.
Speaking of the new tax year, I’ve got a little end of year clear out/sale thing going on over at my Etsy – there’s 10% and 15% off almost everything. Out with the old and in with the new! If I have space for the new… which is why I’ve discounted the old. It’s also the last day of the month, so if you were thinking of pledging to my Patreon to help support dragonnovel, (becoming patron number three would be seen as highly auspicious in some cultures. Not mine, but some), today’s the last day to do it before April’s cycle starts.
I’ve run out of gifs, so I’m going to have a cup of tea and stare longingly at my Easter eggs. Because Easter Sunday is Peak Jesus Day and my mother always insists on upholding Christian tradition despite last going to church circa 2010, I can’t touch an Easter egg until Sunday morning. I have no idea why I can’t break that tradition, despite being a) 22.5 years old, b) an atheist and c) hungry, but there you go. Happy Easter!
Mum is on holiday and I have the house to myself, so I’ve been warding off potential burglars by making as much noise as possible. I’ve decided that this week will be the week in which I learn to cook, so today I made chips and a lasagne. Unless you count melting a bowl and dropping a box of cornflour over a small section of the pantry as issues, which I don’t, the day was faultless. I was too busy eating to take photos, so you’re going to have to trust me on this, but it turns out that if you follow the recipe then cooking is actually quite easy.
Here is a small roundup of my post-Asia attempts to get my life together:
(1 = good, 4 = bad if I remember my school target setting sessions)
EMPLOYMENT: Effort 1 / Attainment 4
PHYSIO & GENERAL HEALTH: Effort 3 / Attainment 3
CLEARING OUT SHIT IN CUPBOARDS USUALLY IGNORED BECAUSE THEY’RE FULL OF SHIT: Effort 1 / Attainment 2
ABILITY TO GET UP BEFORE 7AM: Effort 2 / Attainment 3
CATCHING UP ON BOOKS & FILMS BORROWED FROM FAMILY BETWEEN 4 & 24 MONTHS AGO: Effort 1 / Attainment: 2
So far I’ve seen Girlboss on Netflix, read two books (one of which I think someone gave me when I was still in the womb), sent about forty job applications and/or speculative enquiries, removed about three kilograms of clothing from my wardrobe, dyed a portion of my hair purple and seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and I’m so buzzing I’m telling you all at 10pm on a Sunday. Or that might be because I ate two thirds of the lasagne and I might never sleep again.
Chips are one of your five a day if they’re homemade, right?
So I might have mentioned I went to the Young Adult Literature Convention. Here is a brief summary of my day.
The Working Toilet Search
I came into town on the Liverpool Street line, which is a) shittier than the Fenchurch Street line and b) obliged on Sundays to stop at every station in east London between Shenfield and Stratford. I necked a coffee somewhere around Rayleigh and by Billericay was thinking ‘yeah this carriage could really use a toilet’. By Stratford I was actually going to die so I hopped off in search of one. The only facilities in the entirety of Stratford station, as far as I could see, were out of order – so I made a quick detour to Westfield. Pro tip: Westfield is a ghost mall at 8:30am on a Sunday. Go then.
Why is Everyone So Quiet?
I clocked in just after ten – too late to muscle in on the first event I’d bookmarked, too early to spend all my money – so I got another coffee and sussed out where the fire exits were.
Which was easy to do
Because it was almost deathly quiet
Because everyone who wasn’t a vendor and probably some of the vendors
Was reading The Cursed Child
Which I had forgotten about
Because I am broke and try not to dwell on the things I can’t buy yet. Spoiler: it turned out I wasn’t too broke to buy an illustrated Philosopher’s Stone that was on sale. So I don’t know what past me was thinking, but she was a plonker not to reserve a copy. Pro tip: make sure you have money for Potter-related purchases. Another pro tip: cons are supposed to be buzzing. People in a group reading is wonderfully quiet and stupefying. YALC might be the only con in the world where stupefying is better. Go to it.
Agent Arena Publishing 102: God Exists
There’s quite a large part of my soul that belongs to the book industry, and the Agent Arena talk on publishing filled that part of my soul with hope that I might be able to work in it one day. Could I work in publicity? Maybe. Could I work in editorial? Maybe. Could I work in foreign rights? Probably not, because my grasp of foreign languages is shite. Pro tip: sit up the front because whoever designed Kensington Olympia forgot that sometimes small groups convene and like to hear one another.
Why the Fuck is there No Food Here
See Stories from the Bathroom Floor for why a packet of crisps and a pot of melon three hours apart does not constitute an acceptable meal. In the end I found the food court at the main London Film and Comic Con (which looks way more chill than MCM, for the record) and scarfed a baked potato. Pro tip: bring more snacks than you think you’ll ever need. Especially if there’s a chance you’ll join a queue.
The Queue for Maggie in Conversation
Around about the time I was exploring the fire exits, people turned up. I turned a corner and oh, shit, there’s a fucking large queue to see Maggie Stiefvater in conversation. I should mention at this point that I went to YALC by myself, not expecting to see anyone I knew. I met a lot of people at various points, from bloggers and readers to agents. I completely forgot to ask names and swap Instas. So if you met someone wearing Blue Sargent dungarees and hair that vaguely resembled the bisexual pride flag, leave a comment. Pro tip: if I looked like I wanted to kill someone, that’s my normal face.
Maggie in Conversation
Some of you may yet see Maggie on tour, so I’ll let her tell you the story of the broken sunglasses. And the story of setting John Green on fire. And the story of her child vomiting on a long haul flight. Pro tip: there are no Raven King spoilers.
The Queue for the Queue for Maggie’s Signing
Only in Britain would you be made to queue for tickets that determine your place in another queue. Pro tip: get in there before number 238 of 250 if you want more than one book signed.
Queuing is really just like waiting for a gate to open in an airport, ie after a while you forget why you’re there
‘Come back in an hour.’ I did another round of exploring. I sourced a pot of melon. Then I sourced a baked potato. Numbers zero to 20 had become numbers zero to 40. ‘Come back in another hour.’ I made two phone calls. I took a photograph.
I discovered that my bag made a great pillow. I wrote some notes. I reflected that the last time I queued sitting down was the last time I saw Mindless. I missed seeing Mindless. Pro tip: bring friends to talk to for this bit, or learn to chat.
Actually Meeting Maggie
It was 5:55pm. The con was closing. The queue was urgently shuffled forward. My number was called. I met a girl named Lizzie who had brought a notebook for autographs. I gave a lady my phone to take photographs. I gave another lady my book with my name on a Post It. A girl in front said ‘please pronounce the name of the boys’ school.’
‘Aglionby,’ Maggie said. Pro tip: she pronounces the G.
The other lady gave Maggie my book, plus Post It.
Once upon a time an interviewer asked Gerard Way what fans usually said when they met him. ‘They usually just say thank you,’ he said.
‘Thank you,’ I said.
Then I said, ‘my dad told me to offer you his car.’ Then I said, ‘it doesn’t have a clutch.’
IT’S AN AUTOMATIC. I MEANT THAT IT’S AN AUTOMATIC. Also it is a Mustang and was either born in Texas or assembled there.
‘What colour is it?’ she asked.
‘Red.’ Officially I think it’s called something like “Midlife Crisis Ruby Metallic”.
‘Tell him to paint it black, lower it an inch and a half, and then we’ll talk.’
I have told him, but it’s probably a good thing that she has a no-driving-readers’ cars policy. Southend Borough Council dislikes paying out for road maintenance when the cause is drag racing down the seafront. Pro tip: they usually catch you drag racing down the seafront and moan about you in the paper. (No, that’s not a confession. I don’t think my Micra could drag race. I will wait until the Mustang is unattended.)
Then I hobbled back to the Liverpool Street line (my blisters actually have blisters), did a lil bit of Instagram bragging and thought that I might, like, go to Venezuela.
In my notes about what I could potentially discuss on Indifferent Ignorance is a bullet pointed list called ‘food/exercise’. It’s purple. I think I wrote it last summer. It’s part of a bigger list and it includes the phrase ‘shit no one explains’. It’s a lil in joke with future me, because I’m referring to IBS. I’ve never really talked about it before because nobody wants to read about other people’s digestion issues. I don’t even like to read about my own, and I have kept many a food-related diary over the years. But one of the reasons I haven’t posted this week is that I’ve been dying having a lot of baths and grinding my teeth about a stomachache that won’t fucking go away and when I thought about it, I’ve learnt a lot about IBS and if there’s one thing that distracts me from being unwell, it’s talking about myself under the pretence of helping others. So here is an anecdotal piece of maybe-advice about Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
On Tuesday I ate a salad. It was a really great salad. I am usually a garnish-and-vegan-mayo kind of person whenever someone serves lettuce but I was in a farm shop and salad was the only thing on the menu I could digest anyway, so I ate the lot plain. Because it was fresh from a farm shop and there was cheese with it, I was happy (heads up: I’m not lactose intolerant. My gut has aligned with my tastebuds’ love of smoky cheese.) Within half an hour I was less happy. In fact I was lying on my bed asking God for an implement with which I could remove my stomach. This was because, while dazzled by the farm shop’s cute whitewashed walls and organic produce, I ate the onion that came with the salad and one of those schmancy totally locally-produced apple juices. Which brings me to IBS Lesson Number One:
A large part of living with Irritable Bowl is learning about your trigger foods. Two of mine – wheat and eggs – were helpfully discovered by a pharmacist via a blood test when I was 16 and thought I was a Ceoliac (that is a story for another time). I discover the others by a process of trial, error and vomiting. On Tuesday, ravenous and feeling guilty about the two toffees I ate in the hairdresser’s, I forgot that the reason I leave raw onions on the plate every time I’m served them, and the reason I never drink fruit juice, is that they both give me varying degrees of stomachaches. So I’ve spent the rest of the week taking medicine before I eat, cooking porridge even more than usual and updating my list of stupid things I’ve done in 2016.
In the spirit of honesty, I should probably add that ‘stomachaches’ can include but aren’t limited to: stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, puking, flatulence, shaking, excessive sweating, belching and acid reflux. If you’re really lucky, you get more than one in one go!
There is TV to watch and Etsy to attend to, so I will leave this here. Maybe next time I will tell you all about how I spent Super Saturday with my head down a toilet (see above photo for reference) or share a graphic description of the sweats. Do other IBS sufferers get the sweats? Do non-IBS sufferers get the sweats? Is there a technical term for the sweats?!
You thought I’d forgotten this, did you. I nearly did. My first blog is Spoonie Sophia, a food blog written by (surprise!) Sophia. I came across it on Twitter, at least a year ago, when I was hunting out new foodie sites.
I have quite a strict guage with food blogs: no condescending ‘journey’ bollocks and absolutely no judging of people who don’t also follow a plant-based gluten free organic pixie dust paleo diet. So finding a recipe blog that’s both cute and functional can be tricky, especially if I’m after vegan recipes (it’s easier to add things to vegan/super-clean dishes than it is to take the eggs and wheat out of ‘normal’ dishes).
So I found Sophia on Twitter and was immediately interested because not only did the food look amazing but it contained ingredients I could both locate in a supermarket and afford. I tried her Gingerbread Spiced Granola and fell in love (it makes the kitchen smell like Christmas) and although I don’t follow every post obsessively, there are a few I’ve got earmarked to try when I’ve got the kitchen to myself. Like these impossible to burn little cheesecake things.
Plus, Sophia blogs about living with Lyme disease and POTS without complaining – she just gets on with making cute food and taking cuter photos. Which is all any reader can ask for, really.
Actually, I’m still eating my mum’s soups. They’re brilliant. This afternoon’s was so spicy my voice started to rasp, but I will definitely consider them as actual meals in future. I will also always consume them with some sort of bread product.
What I learnt
I love food
I have a faster metabolism than I realised – or I’m more active than I realised – and depriving myself of calories was a STUPID IDEA
Spinach is actually quite nice
I think it was a success, overall.
Have any of you guys ever tried fad diets or cleanses? I wouldn’t be adverse to trying another one as long as I could eat more than blended vegetables… I know the whole point of a cleanse is to, well, cleanse, but that’s not practical and I’m not completely convinced it’s healthy either… I think I will stick to only abstaining from food when I’m ill, or when my IBS gets bad enough that I have to cut back on anything with preservatives for a few days (which will be soon, knowing my fondness for Quality Street). I will definitely use the copious amounts of chia left in the cupboard to turn all Deliciously Ella, though. We have baobab powder too.
The stupidest thing I’ve done all year, and maybe ever, is agree to a diet cleanse. Three days, claims my mother’s magazine, on a vegan-ish diet with lots of vitamins, will help your body prepare for/recover from Christmas indulgence. Good idea, I thought, because I plan to indulge. So from today until the end of Wednesday will – unless I give up, which is looking likely – consist of kale and chickpeas.
I’m not bothered about the kale, actually. Well I made a spinach smoothie earlier and it looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, but generally I am open to clean and/or vegan recipes. When you have IBS, you kind of have to be. So making superfood porridge ain’t a problem.
The problem is that nowhere in this diet is caffeine.
Not a bean nor a teabag.
And it is Monday morning, and I slept as well as I usually do, which is to say not a lot, and if this were a normal day I would be caressing a mug of Nescafe or brewing a decent tea. By decent tea, by the way, I don’t mean mint tea. I do not like mint tea. I love black tea, I’ve tried matcha and it’s nice, I love rooibos. I tend to go with coffee more, because it tastes wonderful, but my philosophy is that one should always have a hot beverage at one’s desk. Also, one of my clients is a tea bar so I’ve accidentally become a tea snob with a well-stocked cupboard.
Unfortunately, the cleanse calls for mint tea.
I just reread the page and matcha is allowed. If I had local access to a hip tea or coffee place, I’d be dancing – matcha contains as much caffeine as coffee with the added bonus of being literally green. But I live in a town whose main beverage place is Starbucks, so I’m going to sit with the headache of a caffeine-deprived millennial and get on with some work.
I think I’ll live blog this every time I’m tempted to inhale coffee granules.
First it was just scanning the menu and snacking on ingredients, but I began to realise that the only people who can legitimately do cleanses are those with very little else to do. I’m not saying that they’re sad, lonely people, I mean, they must literally have nothing on. I had lunch, which was this actually very nice chickpea and spices soup thing, then walked to the post office to send an order. By the time I was home I thought I was probably dying, so I ate. Then I did Headspace and practically fell asleep. The reason I eat the way I normally do is because I actually get hungry. So I thought ‘why am I being cruel to my body? It is hungry and clearly more caffeine-dependent than I ever realised, and maybe I can work on that in time, but it is Monday and I have shit to do’. And I made a coffee.
It is amazing. Not as amazing as the peanut butter-oatcake sandwich that accompanied it though. I don’t want to puke any more!
I might continue this through to Wednesday, just to see. But I’m still going to snack, and I’m not going to stop eating carbohydrates (seriously in what world is it okay to eat soup with no accompanying carbohydrates? I could be hit by a bus tomorrow).