Aspirational Obscenities

Photo pf lush greenery. A pink neon sign says "breathe". In white handwritten text, it is preceded by "I can't fucking"
Original photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash – white text added by me

Inspired by this strange article screenshot from The Times and tweeted by @sbl1976 (an article I really, really hoped was a parody, but nope), here’s my daily morning routine. I don’t think I’ve ever written something fuelled solely by the power of spite and anger, but there’s a first time for everything!

5:00 – 5:25 My phone alarms, set at 5 minute increments, each go off one at a time. Every single one gets put on snooze so I can indulge in the cosy feeling of “just 5 more minutes” again and again. With the last alarm sounding, I concede defeat and haul my arse out of bed.

5:30 Stare at myself in the mirror and take photos of the new, incredible bed hair creations my pillow has helped to usher into the world.

5:30 – 5:45 Shower and contemplate why I just didn’t get up when I should have as now I need to rush. I use Lush soap and shampoo bar, not because I can afford to fill my bathroom with lovely-smelling products, but because someone was kind enough to give me a gift card for Christmas. Remember that Lush Sales Assistant saying the shampoo bar with marigold would make my scalp feel “squeaky clean” as I rinse for an eternity to get rid of yellow petal bits stuck in my hair.

5:45 – 5:55 Wash and moisturise face with products that are cheap but do the job. Stare hard at the one product that cost way too much and try to convince myself it’s maaaybe doing something. Shove two pieces of bread in the toaster while I get dressed. Pick one of the 3 jumpers I have and pair it with one of the seven pairs of black leggings in my wardrobe. Grab toast, butter, and stick them on a piece of kitchen paper, hoping the butter doesn’t leak through (it will).

5:55 Pick up broken rucksack, remind myself (again) that I really need to buy a new one. Say goodbye to sleeping Ben. Rush out the door to the car.

6:00 – 6:10 Drive to station, munching on toast, cursing that I forgot to bring any water with me. Park up and nearly choke on dry toast as I wolf it down.

6:20 ish Catch train, read Twitter, wonder why I do this to myself every morning, keep reading anyway. If I’m lucky, I’ll get the “Golden Chair” i.e. the single seat near the door, which means I won’t have to put up with manspreading.

6:45 – 7:18 If I’ve had another bad night, nap while the train throws me and fellow commuters around. Otherwise I’ll write notes on my phone for an article I’m drafting; there’s no guarantee I won’t be too tired that night to do any work on it.

7:20 ish – 7:45 ish Catch bus. Continue drafting article. Occasionally take photos of London landmarks to pretend to Instagram that I have a life and to remind myself that I do exist outside of my office sometimes. Try to hold on as bus driver hits every single pot hole along route. Precariously balance myself as we arrive at my stop, tentatively walking down the stairs while the driver seems determined to check if the bus has ABS.

7:45 Walk into work. Head to toilets to put on makeup because there’s no way it would have survived my commute.

8:00 Piss around with drip coffee filter thing, give up, go to Pret and get an Americano in my reusable cup. Feel bad for “treating” myself to a £1.25 beverage.

8:15 Switch on computer and start work. Remember I should take some fizzy orange vitamin tablets with water. Get distracted by catching up with family WhatsApp messages and forget.

8:30 Actually start work, because it’s taken 15 minutes for the computer to turn on.

I guess my point is that I would love to wake up in the morning at a reasonable hour and journal my thoughts, or only eat organic produce, or use nice non-toxic everything. But I wake up at 5:30 to travel to a job 2 hours’ away because I can’t afford to live nearer. London house prices are a joke. It’s impossible for me to move significantly closer because house prices increase dramatically as you start to approach London. I’m a professional with a relatively privileged life, and I still barely manage to cope with the daily costs of where I live now.

I’m sure many of us would like to take better care of themselves, like the woman who does yoga in the park while staring at the sun (jfc) and somehow absorbing electrons through her feet. However, short of a lottery win, myself and many others who work in London are never going to live within walking distance of Hyde Park.

Some of the things in the article aren’t terrible ideas, like making sure you go outside now and again, or using a technique to help you focus. However, I don’t have the time or the money to do most of the things these people can, and a lot of it seems to be absolute bollocks (the HumanCharger defies belief).

The Times article is just obscene. It’s implied these might be “extreme measures” for wellness. It’s likely making fun of the interviewees. However, the writer doesn’t actually identify or offer any real critique of the tremendous gap in quality of life between those interviewed and those often vilified for claiming benefits, living on minimum wage or surviving on unstable zero hours’ contracts. Any person who promotes or publicises these kinds of ridiculous lifestyles without offering any kind of analysis of them is ignoring the barriers many face to accessing basic standards of living in the first place. I’m just a bit tired of “haha, aren’t people with more money than sense so funny?” articles that don’t connect the dots with the huge inequality in our society.

The only thing the article points out is that, once again, “wellness” is only for the wealthy.

A quick update

Blue notebook with

So I haven’t really posted much on here directly for some time. This isn’t because I’ve just been laying around surrounded by empty Jaffa Cake packets and zero regrets (though I have been doing this as well).

I’ve been focused on writing reviews and essays, trying to build my particular set of skills. These have mostly been for Women Write About Comics, Sidequest, and Popularly Positive, as well as an essay with Rogues Portal. Each site has been very supportive, especially after I had to take a break a few months ago.

The reason for the break was that, after several years, I finally decided to go get a diagnosis for autism. Turns out, I am indeed on the autistic spectrum. The diagnosis in itself was not an issue. It was actually a relief, something that allowed me to make sense of and accept a part of who I am. No, the problem came around having to relive some incredibly difficult moments in my life as a part of the assessment. These moments had been emotionally challenging to go through the first time, let alone having to remember and repeat them to someone as they and two other people made notes.

And then there was the report.

I work in Disability, so I know diagnostic reports are clinical and medical model by design. I wasn’t really prepared, however, for seeing aspects of my personality defined as deficiencies and failures. I had a hard time dealing with this for a few months, but I am doing OK now thanks to the people around me.

I’ve just come back from Nine Worlds – I’m currently writing up a con diary, and aim to post some of my more personal reflections upon it here soon. For now, let’s just say that a lot came up.

In the meantime, you can find most of my work on WWAC, Sidequest, and Popularly Positive. Below are some links to pieces I’m particularly proud of:

I, along with other writers at WWAC, get intrigued by the new Dragon Age: Deception cover

A “suggestion” list for characters we might romance in Dragon Age 4

An interview with Backstory podcast host and tabletop RPG designer, Alex Roberts, about her newest game: Star Crossed

A review of Blade of the Immortal and what it says about glamorisation of violence

A personal essay on how, as awful and insensitive as Doki Doki Literature Club is, it allowed me to work through some issues

A review of Pairanormal Chapter 1, a dating sim/visual novel I fell in love with

A reflection on being caught between two different culture’s beauty ideals

and, of course

Me recounting my unabashed first crush on… Dr Ian Malcolm