hen and chick
I passed an hour or so gardening today, of the tending to indoor plants variety. Cutting away the dead leaves from a chrysanthemum, throwing out a dead coriander, re-potting a hen & chick, rinsing out the leftover pots, pruning a few of my other plants of dead leaves. At some point, a few hours on a sunny afternoon tending to plants became an enjoyable past time of mine.

For my 18th birthday, my best friend gave me a hen & chick plant as a present – with the intention that it would eventually brighten up my dorm room when I went to uni. It was a little unexpected, I’d never been a plant person and wasn’t sure how I was going to keep it alive. A year later, my father, probably inspired by my friend and taking my dedication to taking care of that plant as enthusiasm, gave me a schefflera and a mini cactus, in a pot painted with other cacti, when I did go to university. Those three plants sat on my dorm windowsill, and I diligently watered them, and kept a close eye on their condition, scared of killing them off. I did not want to report back to my friend or my father that I’d killed their presents. Slowly, I began to realise my friend had a point – they cheered up my room immensely, added a touch of much needed colour and warmth to the bland colors and tired state of my dorm room. I began to enjoy taking care of them, and when I was in Malaysia I would occasionally ask my dad to report on their conditions – feeling ridiculous about it – and he’d laugh at me, as expected, but reassure me they were fine nonetheless. Now that I’m in my own rental my indoor garden has rapidly expanded.

I tried to grow some herbs – basil, coriander and parsley. I faithfully split them up and re-potted them in fresh soil, but the basil quickly died away, and I’ve just had to throw away the last of the coriander. My parsley clings to life, but just. I cannot cook with it and have definitely been put off herb growing. My three parsley pots are on my kitchen windowsill, alongside a christmas cacti. I had some trouble with my christmas cacti as I was over-watering it. After letting it dry out I’m now watering it sparsely once a week and it seems to be making a slow recovery. I had a chrysanthemum on the kitchen windowsill but it got aphids. I put the mum outside, alongside my then flowering and growing nicely coriander which had also become infected with bugs. The coriander died, and my mum shrivelled up, but seems to be clinging to life still. Now I’ve pruned off the dead bits, I hope that it recovers. In the living room I have two windows. On my one living room window sill I have an army of miniature cacti – the original one, and five others. On my other living room windowsill I have an ivy, alongside my original hen & chick, and an array of chicks from that mother plant that I replanted last year and which have grown up quickly. It looks a little bit ridiculous having that many hen & chicks, but I love how the stems droop down which, alongside the ivy’s crawling branches, have begun to cover the wall below the sill. I would like to get more vines and maybe something flowering to drape down my wall to break up the hen-&-chick-ness of it all though. On my bedroom windowsill the schefflera, now double the size, and two ferns.

Every week I water them, and every day I spritz my ferns. I keep an eye on their condition and act accordingly when problems arise- usually involving a lot of frantic googling. When I was younger, I could hardly keep anything alive and did not much care for plants, but I now enjoy the process of taking care of them, and I love how they cheer up my home. I admit, instead of feeling bewildered and nervous as I once did, I now feel a weird sense of pride and joy when it comes to my ‘garden’.

The One With the Diet

Man, the last entry was a little bit emotional wasn’t it? I think this one is also going to be a confused, rambling sort. I think that is generally my state of mind right now. Confused. Overwhelmed. Conflicted. Well, whatever. Let me get on with it.

I woke up naturally at 9am today, which was disorienting, as I’d gone to bed at 5am. I remember having bad dreams. I don’t know what they were about. But I woke up feeling slightly disturbed and not at all tired, as if afraid to fall asleep again. I decided that since I was up and about I might as well do something with my day. I’d planned to go shopping earlier in the week, then ditched the plan yesterday, and impulsively at 9am today I decided that yeah I totally would. I had convinced myself I really would like those items I saw last week, so off I went, slightly nervous as how KL would be on a public holiday.

Turns out, just like usual.  Maybe a tiny bit more crowded but not as bad as I was expecting. I even got a seat on the sky train.

I went to H&M first and typically the top I had been eyeing was itchy and looked awful on me. Most other things were like that too. Shopping is so often like that, isn’t it? Either its the wrong price, material, color, pattern, fit… the list goes on. I ended up with a couple of basic t shirts (and again, my credit card did not work, meaning I had to wander around for 20 minutes looking for an ATM to draw money. ARGH) I then headed on to Sephora, where I bought a couple of items. One I had been wanting for a while and was pleased to get, the other was an impulse born from my anger and frustration over my money situation and my stress over everything in general right now and I really think I could have done without it. Somewhere between the mess with my credit card and sephora I seemed to have decided fuck budgeting, fuck dieting, fuck everything and set myself on a dangerous course of an impulsive, emotion driven shopping binge.

Heading away from Sephora, I went into pavilion and down to a donut shop on the bottom floor I’d seen last week and had been eyeing then. I was going to buy one donut, but of course I bought six. And I so badly wanted coffee…so I got one. I felt a thrill of pleasure when I sat down to enjoy them but that did not last. I’d broken my diet, wasted precious money, for no reason at all.

Oh yes, I mentioned a diet did I not? That is, I’m currently aiming to cut out almost all dairy from my diet. Yep, you read that right. Me, the one with the sweet tooth who lives off cake and chocolate. However I read once, or maybe I was told, that dairy is often a cause of eczema. Which is something I suffer from badly, and have done so long enough to warrant the motivation to begin such extreme diet change.

I went into this diet without much thought, right back at the beginning of last summer. I stopped buying milk and bought rice milk instead. I bought plain vanilla soya milk to replace the loss of greek yogurt. I stopped eating cheese sauce with my pasta, and had tomato based sauces instead. I still ate bread and cake, with the plan being I’d reduce the amount of dairy first, allowing traces, to get used to it, to test it out, before really committing to it. And then I came to Malaysia, university started up again and together these two things made it hard to do even that. I was travelling and experiencing new cultures, I did not want to think about dieting! So I let myself break the rules on holiday. I was stressed and I wanted chocolate! So I had chocolate.

Today, I went and I bought myself six cream filled donuts and a creme brulee coffee that was half cream. The first sip was heavenly, the first bite delightful, but by the time I was finished the coffee and two of the donuts I felt nauseous. That’s the thing that also prompted me to accept this diet as something I should do for my overall well being, not just try out for the sake of my skin. That is: I’ve possibly always been slightly intolerant to dairy, actually. I love milkshakes, but I’ve not been allowed to drink them since I was small because they’d make me ill. I also have never been able to stomach omelets or too much egg in other forms. I could not tolerate rich, creamy deserts. I rarely ate yogurt, and when I did I had only a small spoonful with dry cereal, because I could not tolerate it otherwise. I could only ever eat mild cheeses like red Leicester and Gloucester, others made me feel ill. When I ate cheesy pasta for supper I enjoyed it but I could only manage half the portion of my sister, and I always felt off afterwards. I never recognised it though, that thing that was staring me in the face. The feeling that I’d eaten something wrong for me. I like cheese and yogurt and milk and cream. I like these things. But I have to accept they actually do not agree with me. I felt so ill today. I still feel ill.

And somewhere along the line I had accepted that ill feeling for full. That’s the problem, right there. I never feel full anymore. I always want to snack. I don’t know how to recognise when I’ve eaten enough anymore, because I often stopped once I felt ill. Oh if I eat enough food then I’ll know. When I went to morganfields and had clearly more food than I could stomach I felt full but in a borderline ill, over stuffed kind of way. But I don’t always want to be eating these huge portions to end up feeling completely over stuffed to know that yes, I’ve had enough. More than that, I’m wanting to snack because I crave the foods I should be working to cut out- fatty, heavy(for me) junk like pizza, chocolate, cake, donuts, even a glass of hot…well cold chocolate is dairy.  If I eat properly, and follow the diet, I do not feel satisfied. and without a proper kitchen nor the equipment to make substitutes, well…

Reducing dairy is making me face my issues with food head on and its..uncomfortable, to realise the extent of these issues. I am an emotional eater and it really is very bad. I have a tendency to think I’m hungry when I’m bored/stressed/emotional and I tend to crave fatty, heavy foods, to want to eat until I feel ill, exactly like what too much dairy does to me. Too much rich, creamy chocolate or cake. I want to enjoy the sweet things I like, rather than mindlessly stuff myself full of them until I literally cannot take another bite because I don’t even know… it just makes me feel good. I love that sugar high, too. the combinational sugar high and caffeine high is even better. gosh, after I’d had that coffee I had so much energy. I went and browsed around the mall some, ended up in a cute accessories shop and it was there I realized I was running out of money. Disappointed, I spent an unfortunate amount of time umming and ahhing over the three sets of accessories I wanted and finally settled on one. Then I went to find an ATM to see if my card would let me take anything more from it. It did not and I was disappointed. in retrospect,I am so glad. I could have continued for many more hours, wasting my money. Well, not necessarily wasting. But there is a difference between seeing something and analysing clearly Do I need this or do I just want it? Is it worth the price? Will it last? What can I wear it with? Rather than just seeing something going want and ending up being blinded by that want. It’s the same with the diet. Its one thing continuing to eat bread with the traces of milk, and another thing to set out to have something as dairy-filled as possible.

Today was a day of reckless, thoughtless spending. Breaking the budget, breaking the diet. In many ways I had a lovely day, so maybe today was something I needed, maybe I woke up today so I could have this one crazy day to let my emotions drive me, and so get them out. But I’m still left disappointed in myself. I’m going to have to do better than this.

Just, no more binging. Man, just no more binging.

I should be optimistic though. I have plans, goals. With the diet, that is. I think once I’m back in the UK it will be better. I’ve already wish-listed a bunch of world war two cookbooks (mock dairy products and dairy free cakes!) and vegan cookbooks and this summer I’m looking forward to learning how to bake my own dairy free bread, making my own granola bars and experimenting with egg free cakes. I should be able to introduce some dairy free sweet treats into my diet that will do something about these cravings and still be relatively healthy too.

I am disappointed in what I did today, but I do not want to beat myself up about it. I don’t want to get obsessive with this diet. More than that, I want to enjoy this. I want to do this and to enjoy it. It should be possible. I gave up using shampoo easily enough, after two years it has become habit. Once you replace your old bad habits with good ones its hard to notice the difference- habit is habit, after all. But this is much bigger than just giving up one product. This is giving up so much. I want pizza and ice cream and yes, more coffee and donuts. But I must not. Even so, I have to remember that I am still easing into this. Its too difficult to properly do this non-dairy thing under the circumstances of student halls, and I am living abroad, so the rules can be lax. As long as they don’t completely relax like today.

It’s late now. I should probably try and get some sleep, although my mind still feels wide awake. Big surprise there.

“It’s impossible to keep hiding your true colours”

Three days ago, I lost 80% of the hearing in my left ear. It came back briefly, yesterday, but yesterday I woke up and it was gone again and it has not come back, apart from a brief moment of startling clarity earlier. I am not panicking, or running to the doctor to cry about losing my hearing. Instead I did what I always do when feeling sick: hit up nhs choices, then interpret the information they give as I wish. I have decided that as I am not in pain or experiencing any sort of vertigo that whatever is going on will sort itself out. I am a great believer in letting my body sort itself out, mostly because I find going to the doctors too awkward and embarrassing.

Its worse here in Malaysia as there is one doctor on campus so unlike in the UK where you never see the same doctor or nurse twice, you always see the same guy here and he recognises you. He asks me about my long term condition. And its sweet, in a way, but not something I’m used to and it makes the visit all the more uncomfortable- I don’t like being forced to realize just how intimately the doctor knows me in some ways, like when in the UK you can see the doctors screen and you can see your medical history up for display and you just want to cringe, at all this deeply personal information reduced to an entry in a database that these doctors can read at will. Worse, you can see them type in what you are saying, and I always imagine them internally sighing, thinking that it is such a waste of time… as if, if I’m not physically dying then I am wasting their time. I feel like that.

Nonetheless, it is disconcerting only being able to truly hear out of one ear. Yesterday, an acquaintance was speaking to me and he offered to explain to me some lab work that I’d messed up yesterday and I badly wanted to say yes, please but instead I had to shake my head because I knew that with half my hearing being smothered in cotton wool, that I’d struggle to process the explanation. I was talking to my friend but I couldn’t angle myself in time to hear her, so I fumbled the conversation more than usual as I tried to reply without actually knowing what had been said. In labs earlier, my lab partner could not get my attention because he was sitting to the left of me. (It did not help that I was seriously zoned out, of course) It’s amazing how different everything is with one sense half gone and weirdly, its strange how easy it is to get used to it. I nearly flinched when my hearing returned fully earlier because everything seemed too loud for a moment.

Well, I still wish for it to return. I’ll happily get used to hearing properly again.

Some random thoughts:

1. University is still very slow. I don’t want to complain, as I really don’t want labs to start up or for classes to become more intense, but I can feel myself becoming much too lazy. As in, its becoming natural to be lazy, which it should not. Today I had my first class at 3pm and I was late- because i OVERSLEPT. :| I have also not been studying at all, which is terrible.

2. I finished God’s Quiz Season 3 today. I started season 1 towards the end of last week. Talk about an addictive drama. The 3 seasons came together so well, although all three could stand alone. Ryo Duk Hwan is amazing as the eccentric genius Dr Han. The show is flashy but in a highly enjoyable way- its easy to get caught up in the crazy rare diseases and crimes that (sometimes) suspend disbelief. Best of all is the ongoing thread of Dr Han’s mysterious disease. Crazy scientists and their mad schemes are definitely not the most believable of plots but they sure are fun. In season 1 and 2  Ahn Yong Joon was incredible as the deranged genius Ha Yoon and although the mad scientist of Season 3 wasn’t as interesting, the twist of what was happening to Dr Han because of his disease was fascinating and really creepy. I loved how the last episode just turned everything on its head. Was not expecting it AT ALL. The ending was awful though. HOW COULD THEY LEAVE IT THERE. There better be a fourth season coming soon.

3. Whilst on the subject off dramas can I also recommend The Thousandth Man? Its not perfect, but its a lovely attempt at doing something new with the gumiho legend. I just finished re-watching episode 3 which was just so touching.  I struggle to articulate my thoughts on this drama so let me link to this wonderful review. (skip to the end of the post for the review.)

4. I was surprised, and pleased, to find the God’s Quiz OST on amazon for a little over £1 for one song and its instrumental. Sadly their mp3 store is difficult to navigate and I cannot seem to stumble over any other kpop that I would want to purchase. Still,  its nice to know its probably there for a decent price, and without having to wait for anything to ship to me. (And yes I know, for someone my age I am very out of touch with modern ways of getting music. I still exist in the CD age D:)

5. I’ve been eating too much chocolate and junk food lately and generally wasting to much money on food. Food is very cheap in Malaysia, which was great when I first got here, although I was soon made to realize how much of a double edged sword that is. When my cravings for junk food got very bad in the UK I could usually refrain myself because of the price. Now, the food is cheap and 7-Eleven is right there in the center of campus where I pass everyday and … I need to fix this asap. I have a feeling I’ve posted this before, too, which is embarrassing if true. I really am not good at sticking to personal goals.

6. Also embarrassing: I cannot use chopsticks. Yes, I know even 3 year olds can use them these days but no matter how much I have tried in the past I could never get the hang of it. I am going to Japan in June though which has inspired me to properly try and learn. I bought some cheap chopsticks at TESCO and have been trying to eat my food with them, but it gets so frustrating when I am hungry and  I cannot pick up my food that I always end up back to using a fork. Somehow, I don’t think I am going to end up a master of these things by June. :/

Dilly Dally Down

This summer (and lets use that term loosely, as it is cold and rainy) is proving to be very boring. The sort of boring that leads to the feeling that any small action is just far too much effort aka extreme laziness, listlessness and I cannot think of another “l” word to make it a solid trio. I am never going to be able to return to the usual routine at this rate. I have already forgotten what morning looks like. I could and should be spending my time more productively. I could read, or study Japanese, or go over the topics from my first year at university to prepare for second year! So many things and I just can’t bring myself to care. There is also the matter of moving abroad. I’m torn between wanting this summer to go quicker, so I can stop being so flippin bored, and wanting it to slow down already because currently I am moving abroad in one month and 10 days.

Yes, I am counting down. Of course I would when the time between now and then is becoming increasingly shorter and yet I have not crossed a single thing off my “to do list.” When I started this list at the beginning of the month it had two items, but as I gradually added more items on as they came to me the list grew and is now nearly 20 items long. And it seems that as the list grows, my reluctance to deal with it does too.

I have

– been spending hours sorting files on my computer to prepare for making backups. However it is taking longer than I’d like and I am far from done. I am in phase three of owning a computerbehold, the dinosaur. Seven years of endless crap that hasn’t ever been sorted before because I haven’t every needed to. Which is an excuse to cover up the fact I am terrible at throwing things out in real life and it seems I have problems letting go of meaningless digital crap too.  I am likely to become one of those people you see on TV,  crushed under the weight of every single thing they have ever owned, their bodies only found days later after extensive searches.  I like to attach meaning to things, like to think that there may be a day when I’ll need them again, and what if I cannot find them? What do you do with your digital files- how do you decide what to keep and delete? I’m hoping I’ll become annoyed enough to just press shift+delete on it all and deal with the horror of what I have done afterwards. Likely I will get over it pretty quickly once real life starts off and I forget all about it because it really isn’t that important.

(Why? Why when I know this can I still not press “delete”?)

– started a packing list. I attempted to make categories, and to list every little item big and small. But it got too much and so I stopped and now don’t like to look at it. Cutting down all my belongings to a mere 20kg of stuff is proving even more difficult than I thought, and I never imagined it to be an easy task. I am not looking forward to leaving behind most of my clothes, skincare, makeup, and books. Pretty much everything, really. I know I can buy things over there but I don’t know when I’ll be able to go shopping, and how my money situation will be, and it makes me sad to think about all the money already spent on these things just to have them sitting unused for a year (in the case of skincare and makeup, possibly expiring)

That is about all I have done. Pathetic, isn’t it? I have things to organise with banking and I need to decide what baggage to take. And there’s more.  Meanwhile, I am still slightly terrified and more than a little nervous. My thoughts constantly cycle back round to all my little worries about the whole thing. What will I eat over there? What are the supermarkets like? How will I cope with the weather? Will I need to use chopsticks at any point? (I can’t D:) How will I cope with all the insects? (Cockroaches and mosquitoes D: D: D: ) There is much to worry about, because it’s another unfortunate part of my personality to get worked up over small things.

University is also being slow releasing information which is annoying. I still haven’t received a certain important letter from them, and they haven’t said anything about accommodation. This is at the top of my current worries and I’m especially pissed that we’ve not heard anything. I need to stop getting my hopes up about an en-suite and instead start fretting about what to do when the bathroom is all the way down the corridor (this year the bathroom was right next door so it was perfectly OK to step across in a towel. I don’t think wondering down a corridor so poorly dressed is a good idea. Not to mention I had a sink in my room to do my facial skin care at night which I won’t have there so where will I do there? AHH) Also, the prices vary for all the accommodation types and I need to start budgeting (ah, another thing for the list. gdi)

So, yes. Very worried about lots of little things right now. I am spending my days file sorting (and lets use that term loosely as it mostly me discovering new love for things long forgotten about and finding reasons to keep them) interspersed with watching dramas. It’s really not enough distraction.