The Second Year Slump

After my first year at Napier university in Edinburgh I wrote my first post on this blog about what a memorable, amazing and life-changing experience it had all been, and I would love to be sitting here this year writing roughly along the same line.  Unfortunately that is definitely not the case.  Second year has been a rough slog, of disappointment and comparison to an amazing first year which it never really matched up to in any way and all I’m left feeling is a bit defeated and, quite frankly, relief that it’s over.

I guess what I should state up front is that when you have moved away and are experiencing university in a different city, and especially when you are at a university with quite such limited class/contact time as Napier, the year is more about the overall time itself rather than the course you are studying because, strangely enough, I haven’t hated second year of English and Film.  Sure, I still have a nagging feeling that I should really have learnt more by halfway through my degree, and that the only reason I have enjoyed it quite so much is because I have personally pushed myself to take part in the reading and because I love the subject quite so much but still, I know a lot of people who have questioned what on earth they are doing in their degrees by this stage and I am very thankful that this is one worry I don’t have to think about.  English and Film may leave me working in my part-time barista job for the rest of my life, but hey, at least I’ve had a jolly good time while doing it.

And that’s another thing that’s new and that I am going to place in the mainly positive side of the post because during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, aside from the month I spent working with Edinburgh Gin at a pop-up bar, I actually managed to secure my first proper job at a shop I love in the very heart of the city centre.  And it involves a discount on books – score!  Sure I moan about it and it definitely has contributed to a drop in my social activities (although I’m mainly thinking that’s just my overall inflexibility at play too) but when it truly comes down to it I have always said I wanted to work in a coffee shop and honestly if you’d told me two years ago that I’d be employed by Waterstones I would have told you to stop getting my hopes up.  But here I am, becoming a grown-up with a grown-up job and learning to have the grown up excuse of ‘I can’t, I’m working’ at the ready.  What more could you ask for?

And one of my main worries for the new year was the flat I was to live in because, when I envisioned moving out of halls and into our own rented place, I certainly did not have a slightly dingy, ex-student halls building in mind but that too has actually worked out a lot better than I could ever have hoped.  There has been a lot of work getting done to the flat over the course of the year and it’s in a brilliant location and sure it’s not super luxurious but it does the job and I am happy to eat my words over the decision to move in here.  In fact, it was a good choice.  (Slightly hard to admit there, eh Ash?).

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And so what then, you may be wondering, was so wrong with my year?  But that’s pretty much it.  There was nothing terrible wrong with my year – apart from completely losing control of my drinking and making some utterly shocking calls when it comes to relationships – but it was just wholeheartedly, unmistakably meh.  After the incredible excitement of striking out on my own for the first time, living with new people, meeting new friends, having so many new experiences, second year just seemed to make everything come to a stop.  I had the awful feeling that every time I went to do something that I had been there before but, in an equally awful way, each time I did something I made it worse because I was trying so hard to make it match up to how good it had felt before.  There is just not the same feeling that you have done something momentous in your life which has purpose and meaning and after the full-on, whirlwind which is first year. Second year just seems to enter you into into a slump which, unfortunately for me, was impossible to get out of until now.

And yet I know I am not the only one to feel this way.  I am not the only one to have found themselves becoming down and disillusioned with the whole thing and I am certainly not the only one who has found second year insanely difficult.  But somehow, when you’re in it, it feels like you are the only one who has coped by hiding themselves away from things and allowing destructive habits to creep in.

So the Second Year Slump has definitely got hold of me and dragged me down but that isn’t to say I have suddenly become someone who gives up and loses all hope because, if you ever speak to me on certain subjects, you will know that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes it’s been hard but I have still achieved so much this year and have learnt so many things that I can now use to make third year the upward climb I know it will be.

And because I refuse to put this year down as a total loss – because it most certainly has not been – here are a few highlights of really, really good things that have happened despite the difficulties I have had with my time:

Napier dance became an even bigger part of my year with my committee role as social secretary.  It was an amazing year for the club as a whole – we even won club of the year!

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I fulfilled a lifelong dream to be Sandy from Greece on a very ‘interesting’ Halloween night.img_2447-1

I got a new tattoo which I am in LOVE with.img_3521

 

I got to be a really proud flatmate supporting Trampled Daisy as the band really got going!img_3041

There were some ok nights out, in the end.img_2739

I visited my Dad in Doha for only the second time during reading week in trimester two

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Celebrated my 20th birthday with my amazing family

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And I successfully completed the academic year, and even met some wonderful people on the way.

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And spent countless great days with this wonderful individual 🙂

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Goodbye second year, maybe you weren’t so bad after all.

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Doha: A Destination of the Future

It’s now been over a week since I arrived back in rather snowy Edinburgh and the days I spent visiting my Dad in Doha, Qatar already seem like a distant memory but what better way to keep the memory alive (and avoid the endless other tasks I have to do) than to tell you all about it.

I have to say that before I left I was very apprehensive and unsure what to expect from a city I had only been to once before and where I had been made to feel insecure, embarrassed and, to put it simply, a bit wrong.  Five years ago, Doha was a place which was definitely up and coming but which was in the very early days of this future glory.  It only had a very small airport, as blonde, white females my mother and I were very much in the minority and the location itself was somewhat intimidating to someone who had never fully experienced a Muslim country before.  And my Dad certainly isn’t the best tour guide when left to his own devices.  I did have a nice time but I was in no hurry to go back and could never see myself ever feeling comfortable in a place which, to me, was quite so alien to everything I had ever known.

In 2018, Doha is still very much this up and coming city which has the resources and ambitions to rival Dubai one day, it is still very different to a lot of the places I have visited over the years but I can also say that in so many ways Doha has changed.  I do think a lot of this change in perspective is to do with my own maturation and ability to cope with things but, if a city can progress towards modernity and, let’s face it, build such impressive infrastructure in such a short time one can’t help but be impressed.

Even as soon as I stepped off the plane I knew this time would be different.  Hamad International Airport is multiple times bigger than the one I arrived at last time and instead of feeling in the minority it was clear to me that the majority of the flight I arrived on were other European visitors like myself.  This just shows that Doha’s hard work and effort is beginning to pay off as more and more people see it as a viable tourist destination.  And this time my aim was to be the proper tourist and not wholly rely on my Dad’s rather shocking knowledge of what is good to do and see while in the city and here I want to share some of these things with you.

Souq Wakif

Souq Wakif is one of the only places I fully remember visiting from the first time I was in Doha and is definitely one of the key tourist centres in the entire city.  As far as I know, IMG_1372 (1)the souq itself is entirely artificially constructed and is not a traditional souq as you may be led to believe but it is not hard to see why people could be fooled into thinking this.  It captures the Arabian culture and historic aspect which is missing from a lot of the rest of the architecture that you see.  It is always bustling with activity and contains winding little streets filled with small shops, as well as a number of bars, restaurants and cafes and is a perfect place to sit, try out a shisha pipe and watch the rest of the world go by.  For all those animal lovers out there like myself however, watch out for the tied-up camels on one side of the Souq and the small section where animals are kept in cages as it is not pleasant and is probably the only drawback I see for the whole site.  I do highly recommend visiting this area both during the day and at night though.

The Museum of Islamic Art

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I have to admit that this location as a museum did not interest me very much at all.  Museum’s can be a bit hit and miss and I think a lot of the displays here miss quite spectacularly.  Call me uncultured but there are only so many Arabian style vases, buckets and bowls with no other significance other than that they are old that you can look at.  Despite this, the Museum of Islamic art as a building in itself is definitely worth a visit.  The architecture is stunning and the museum has one of the most impressive views of the Doha skyline you are likely to see.  I would recommend going mid-afternoon and heading to the perfectly placed café at the far side of the museum as it looks out at the river and is ideal for watching the sun go down.  It was beautiful.  There is also a really nice courtyard off to the side for great photo opportunities.  Oh, and it has a pretty nice gift shop too.

The Corniche

Whilst on the subject of good views of the impressive Doha skyline, the Corniche is a IMG_1458.JPGwalkway which curves right round the bay and goes basically from one end of Doha to the other, leaving you with numerous vantage points to take in the skyscrapers that dominate one side.  Once again, great to experience both day and night and is one of the only places really where you can enjoy a leisurely walk and explore within Doha outside of your car.  Lots of families come here to have picnics at the side of the Corniche and there are a number of small boats which, for a fee, will take you around the bay and back if you aren’t in the mood for the walk in the intense heat.  Definitely one of my favourite places.

Malls, Malls and More Malls

This is one aspect of Doha which I think they are really starting to try and rival Dubai on because, for the amount of people and built-up land here, there is an insane amount of shops.  There is the City Centre Mall, Landmark Mall, Villagio, Mall of Qatar to name but a few of the biggest and best shopping malls in the city and they are still building more.  My two favourites are Villagio and the Mall of Qatar so I will focus on them but just know that whatever capitalist, material (and often flashy and expensive) item you could imagine they’ve got it.  Qatar is a very rich country and they certainly show it.

The Mall of Qatar is relatively new and is a bit more difficult to get to than some of the others yet the scale and choice of shops there is amazing.  It has well-known brands like Nike, Topshop, Pull and Bear, Victoria’s Secret and Next as well as many restaurants and cafe’s including Le Pain Quotidien, Starbucks, The Cheesecake Factory and the odd chocolate café too.  It would take a whole day at least to get round it and you still probably wouldn’t be satisfied.  Oh, and if all this wasn’t extra enough, they have a collapsible stage in the middle of the centre that hosts impromptu performances throughout the day too.

Now Villagio, although a bit older, is just plain cool.  It is Venice themed with the gondolas and canals included and it’s high value quarter with every designer label imaginable is certainly worth a browse – even if you can’t afford to buy anything like me!  The selection of shops and restaurants is just as insane and at the end of the ‘expensive’ part there is a Laduree Macaron café, just in case the Venice theme wasn’t obvious enough.  You honestly have to see it to believe it.

 

Katara Cultural Village

Katara is basically a man-made beach with, you guessed it, yet more shops round the side, just in case you hadn’t quite got your fill of materialism quite yet.  Although I wasn’t overly impressed with this area and there really isn’t that much to do it’s still pretty to have a look around as the architecture and small streets at the back are still pretty nice.  One thing I did notice is that Katara is very popular with the tourists and is probably the place where i felt most in the minority and judged for my choice of clothing so be prepared to dress conservative or cope with a lot of staring.

The PearlIMG_1446.JPG

Now the Pearl to me is one of the gem’s (pardon the pun) of Doha.  It is absolutely stunning and although it is basically yet another shopping district, it is a beautiful area where you really feel like you’ve entered paradise.  It also felt a lot more Westernised and is where I saw majority of tourists.  Saying that, the place is almost always deserted and it can feel like a bit of a ghost town which is a real shame because it really does feel like a missed opportunity.  If I was to live in Doha this is where I would like to live however, and I know, that as the popularity of Doha as a destination increases, the Pearl’s popularity will increase too.  It’s just stunning.

Eating and Drinking in Doha

Another thing I was really worried about before I travelled to Doha was the fact that I didn’t expect the knowledge of veganism to be very good but boy was I surprised.  Sure I went to the odd place where they looked at me like I’d just fallen from Mars but the majority of places I went were happy to accommodate my needs and I didn’t worry about my meals too much.  (I have to say that the  website Happy Cow helped immensely with picking places to eat however, and if you are travelling as a vegan I couldn’t recommend it enough.)   As I was only there for four days I didn’t get to try out too many places but below are my top two locations to eat in Doha from this trip:

Evergreen Organics

Usually I would save the best until last but in this case I just can’t.  Evergreen Organics is that good.  Yes, being in the Pearl area of the city, it is somewhat pricey but it is the only fully vegan café in the whole of Doha and it boasts an extensive menu, the best selection of vegan cakes and bakes I have seen anywhere in the world and it also has possibly the most chilled out and wonderful vibe and atmosphere ever.  Can you tell I loved it?  It is hard to find and a little out of the way but basically whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or meat-eater then please try this place because it is worth it.  In fact, if I ever go back to Doha then I think I will spend the majority of my time here.

Spice Market

I think the first thing I need to say about Spice Market is that it is located within the W hotel in the heart of Doha and so is incredibly expensive.  This is a place to go if you don’t mind spending a bit but I have to say the meal we had there was amazing.  My Mum and Dad were probably more impressed than me as I believe both of their meat dishes were out of this world but I too had a really nice stir-fry and the manager of the restaurant was happy to alter any of the dishes on the menu to my liking and my server was also very knowledgeable about veganism too.  They also had some really nice sorbets for dessert which I tried.  Lovely restaurant, lovely staff but, to be honest, for the price you have to pay, I don’t think you could expect anything else.

For my Fellow Vegans (Other than just go to Evergreen Organics!)…

  • Isaan is a restaurant in another of the hotels in Doha which makes it once again quite pricey but it actually has a fully separate vegan menu (they call it the healthy menu) with everything clearly labelled.  This is a really helpful thing to know if you visit the restaurant.
  • The Red Velvet Cupcakery is located within Katara and actually has a vegan chocolate cupcake on offer.  I didn’t really like the look of the café itself as it was a bit dark and out of the way but the cupcakes looked great and would be lovely to take away.
  • Go for traditional middle eastern foods!  There are so many places offering your favourite vegan fares such as falafel (watch out for these containing honey, remember), hummus, pitta bread, olives – the list goes on!  I was really surprised how easy it was to eat traditional and get by so Doha definitely is a much more vegan-friendly place than I had it down as!
  • Know that vegan-friendly chains have made it to Doha too as Nando’s, Wagamama’s, Le Pain Quotidien and Pizza Hut all have a reasonably large presence among a number of other chains.  Costa also had coconut milk on offer when I was there so there is still plenty of options if you are visiting Doha on more of a budget.

Another point to note, is that if you haven’t experienced a culture like that of Doha before, then you might not be aware that you can’t buy alcohol unless you go to one of the five star hotels around the city.  If you go to a restaurant you will be served soft drinks only.  This wasn’t a problem for me and I’d maybe take your trip as a time to ditch the drink and enjoy a break rather than pay extortionate prices for it but of course this is entirely up to you.

My Final Five Top Tips For Travelling to Doha

  1. Don’t go in the Summer.  This one is pretty self explanatory because you will melt.  Temperatures can reach the 50’s and it’s so hot outside that you basically just want to go from one air-conditioned building to the next.  From my experience the best times to go are either March or October.  February can be a dangerous time just simply because the weather is likely to break at some point before it starts getting really hot.
  2. Be prepared to dress conservatively and modestly.  This is a Muslim country which has not yet embraced all of Western culture so wearing a crop top and shorts around will mean you get a lot of disapproving stares.  I’m not saying I agree with it, but it’s definitely worth packing that extra light cardigan and some long trousers.
  3. Doha is not a walking-friendly city.  You will have to pay for taxi’s and transport to get from place to place because you just can’t walk around the same as you can in a number of other cities.  Hiring a car is possible but the driving can be slightly erratic and scary at times so it’s best to allow some money in your budget for travel once you get there.

Veganuary 2018: My Experience

Yep we’ve done it.  We have survived what is arguably the most difficult month of the year and I guess I am feeling a little bit extra proud today because it also marks 31 days since I went vegan and started taking part in Veganuary 2018.  I know it’s a topic which makes vegetarians and meat-eaters alike roll their eyes and squirm at the thought but love it or hate it, veganism is a movement which is very much on the rise and one that really needs to be discussed.  In fact, the number of individuals following a vegan lifestyle has risen by 360% in the UK in the last ten years so it’s clear that more and more people are seeing why it’s such a worthwhile way of life.  But this post is not here to convert you, or annoy you, or make you feel bad for your own actions – it’s simply for me to share with you my observations, experiences and motivations for making this change.

I guess why I chose to go vegan is a good place to start considering that this time two years ago I was a meat-eater who thought vegetarianism was achievable but that the idea of veganism was just plain extreme and impossible.  After becoming vegetarian and researching into the topic more I guess something just started to feel less extreme and more right and now my reasons for going vegan can be placed into three categories:

  • For Sustainability

This is an argument which came to me a lot later on in my research but is now one of the main things which keeps me going.  It all started with a documentary style film called Cowspiracy which opened my eyes to the fact that eating a carnivorous diet is actually killing our planet and that, if we don’t stop soon, we will have no natural world left.  One of the most shocking facts for me was that the farming of animals and the meat industry is currently the leading cause of global warming which I couldn’t believe since everything else I had ever read on the subject pointed to emissions from cars and industrial sites.  I couldn’t believe that the consumption of animal products was making such a massive difference to our world but it is and there is no denying that these facts are real and scary and so I knew it was time to act.  If it is something that interests you too then I urge you to get on Netflix and watch Cowspiracy because it will completely open your eyes.

  • For The Animals

My second reason also came from watching a video documentary on the subject but this one came much earlier on and caused a much larger emotional impact for me, who had always just ignorantly assumed that the talk of the dairy and egg industry being just as harmful to the animals involved as the meat industry was untrue.  I believed the whole ‘free-range’ and ethical farming lies from the industries and honestly thought that my eggs were coming from a happy chicken roaming about the countryside somewhere, happy to give it’s eggs for human consumption.  It was only when I saw an image of male chicks being ground alive within the documentary that I realised how gullible I had been.  And, after hearing the statement that ‘all dairy cows end up in the meat industry eventually’ I knew I would never think of milk and cheese the same way either.   Thinking of my dog at home and then thinking of the animals I have let be mistreated for so long doesn’t seem so different any more and I no longer want to fund the evil industries that separate them and think this type of mistreatment is ok.

  • For my Health

The final reason is one that I am least convinced by (yet still know is completely relevant) because, after completing my month of Veganuary and changing my diet and skincare range to eliminate all animal products, I haven’t felt more energetic, my skin has certainly not become glowing and clear and I feel more uncomfortable with myself than I have in a long time but I think the problem is not with veganism itself and perhaps just with the expectations that a lot of vegan propaganda place on the lifestyle.  I certainly don’t feel worse and, to be honest, I was very committed to leading a healthy lifestyle before I became vegan so I didn’t really need a fix in this department.  The main health implications for me now are the cold, hard facts: lean chicken is certainly not the best source of protein and drinking cow’s milk is definitely not meant to be done by humans and I can now recognise that what I have grown up being taught is wrong and that it is time to look at things from a very different perspective.  Plants are what we are meant to eat and I can be a much happier and healthier individual knowing that I am living cruelty-free and eating the way that nature intended!

 

Image result for cute farm animals
Image from wallpapercave.come

 

My Veganuary Experience

So now that I have explained a bit more about why I chose to take part in Veganuary I think it’s time to start talking about how I got on.  To tell you the truth, it didn’t take long for the doubts to set in which came as a shock to me because I thought the difficulty would come from not finding things to eat and missing foods and not just as a waning in my enthusiasm for the movement.  And yet there I was, on day two, honestly thinking I would just ‘let other people do it.’  I questioned why I had to make life harder for myself and why I couldn’t just be like everyone else and bury my head in the sand.  But I put the doubts down to that one moment and carried on to the next day and I am now so glad that I did because I never had doubts like that again.

And it wasn’t hard to see that Veganuary 2018 was it’s most successful year yet because I got great encouragement from the number of supermarkets, restaurants and cafe’s bringing out all new vegan ranges and making veganism seem like less of a daunting prospect.  I actually found it really enjoyable to go out to eat at Zizzi’s, Pizza Express and Wagamama’s during the month because they are all front runners with their vegan options and even Tesco has really upped it’s game and brought out their new fully vegan ‘Wicked Healthy’ range.  This really helped to dispel these doubts I had had that I was making life harder for myself because finding foods I could actually eat has not been a struggle at all.  In fact, I feel as though I can’t walk past a vegan product without buying it now ‘just because it’s vegan’ so for my bank balance’s sake I kind of wish it was that little bit harder.

And I must say at least once how amazing vegan food actually is.  I had eaten vegan a lot for a long time but it was often easy to forget in the past that the majority of my favourite foods already fitted into this lifestyle.  I love falafels, hot chocolate, flapjacks, peanut butter, burritos, smoothie bowls, dates (I actually have a slight obsession with dates but that’s an entirely different post) and many, many more and so I really haven’t had to miss anything I wanted.  I don’t think anyone has ever been happier to find reduced vegan mince pies in Sainsburys or felt so much joy when my Mum went to the effort of making me vegan curry and homemade dessert.  Veganism doesn’t have to be restrictive at all and this, which was another worry of mine, never had to surface once.

However, I’d be lying if I said it was entirely smooth sailing after my first initial difficulty and my next struggle came soon after from my work at a café.  I had always loved getting free cakes at the end of a long shift and, especially with the high levels of waste during the quiet period of January, it was (and still is) often a struggle to see my colleagues leaving with fancy cupcakes and pastries galore while I stand there lucky to pick up a tiny piece of date slice!  But once again I stayed strong and went home to my vegan mince pies and flapjacks instead.

And then comes the new struggles with finding these ethical options because, although they are always there and you can pretty much get an alternative for everything, slipping up and buying something with honey or milk powder lurking within it is incredibly easily done.  It’s not even just about watching out for milk and eggs, it’s about avoiding lanolin and whey, collagen and E901.  At some points I felt like I was trying (and failing) to learn a new language!  I bought falafels which contained honey and ate them by accident, I discovered that Kelloggs cereals contain Vitamin D3 which also isn’t vegan and I felt like a failure again.  I even bought tea leaves that contained milk powder and felt as though I would never get it right.  And don’t even get me started at the time I was talked into buying beauty products containing animal products again because the person in the shop reckoned that it would be all right.

But the truth is that I didn’t fail at all and certainly don’t feel like a failure now because, as defined on the Vegan Society website,

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

And that is exactly what I am doing.  I am trying my best to live an ethical, vegan lifestyle and as long as I continue to do that then I am doing all I can.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about making the effort.

And so with that we come to the big Veganuary question…after 31 days free of all animal products, will I be staying vegan?

And the answer is a resounding yes.  Nothing has made me feel more fulfilled this month than the knowledge that I am helping to make the world a less cruel place, and that I can enjoy as many pieces of date slice as I want while doing it (Which, lets face it, will be a lot).  Happy Veganuary folks!

Happy as a pig in shit
Image from http://www.peta.org

 

‘Living’ with Anorexia

The time has come, or is perhaps well overdue, when I put slightly more of myself into this blog and, in a lot of ways, I suddenly feel like I have to write about this topic as much for myself as for the sake of simply making a post.  In fact, it’s a very good time to write it as I sit here drinking a cup of green tea while just casually calculating all the calories I have eaten today on a notepad beside my desk.  I know the nutritional value of everything, down to the grams of carrot I had at lunch to the millilitres of fruit juice I allowed myself this morning and yet somehow, maybe because I have been doing it for quite so long, I have simply accepted this as my normal.  But I don’t want this to be my normal.  I no longer want to be held in an anorexic hell that really only I can see.

The truth is if you were to go out for drinks, or even go out for lunch or for a proper meal with me then you would hardly notice anything was wrong.  I’m at the stage where I could go almost anywhere and act entirely normal – probably even eat more than a lot of people – and I have to admit that I am so, so proud of how far I have come from a few years back when there’s a good chance I would have sat crying into my plate of pasta.  But here’s what people don’t see: the recalling of every mouthful and the endless guilt as I think of what a fat pig I must have looked like, the meticulous planning days in advance thinking of what to have and what I can cut out the rest of the day just so I can eat what I want, and finally, the gnawing panic as I realise that I’ve let my anorexic guard down and, god forbid, might lose that part of myself if I don’t instantly claw it back with some mindless exercise or restriction of intake.

And so with that I have become what I first read about as a dangerously underweight adolescent first trying to claw at some sense of recovery in Emma Wolff’s book ‘An Apple A Day.’  The term ‘functioning anorexic’ scared me at the time but never quite as much as it does now.  It basically describes people who can continue with their daily lives – go to work, get married, even have children, in some cases – but who also carry with them the horrific and life-threatening thoughts and behaviours of the illness.  They may not end up in some psychiatric hospital somewhere or worse but they still have anorexia and they still suffer day to day – the only thing they aren’t doing is dying.  And I guess I can finally say that this is where I find myself.  In this grey area of ‘functioning’ but never really recovering.  I can eat and appear fine when really I am still entrenched in anorexia’s wilful ways.  It terrifies me more than a clinic room ever could have done at the tender age of sixteen because at least then I knew it was either die or recover, now it just seems static, like a forgotten problem among the rest of the actions and tendencies of my daily life.

And perhaps I may have more of an issue than most because I have been in the situation about a hundred times when my anorexia has gone from ‘functioning’ to ‘dangerous’ but look around you, how many of your friends are on crash diets or saying that they ‘must start losing weight?’  How many times have you finished eating something deemed ‘unhealthy’ and felt that terrible sense of guilt that everyone knows only too well?  How many times have you looked in the mirror recently and told yourself that you’re not good enough – that you’re too fat, too pale, too ugly to be worth anything?  It’s a societal problem and one I would give anything to get rid of.

But here I am, at a crossroads once more, because recently my anorexia has ramped up the volume on the malicious thoughts and desires for action and over the past couple of months I have started listening to the poison it constantly tells me once again, even though I know the damage it could do.  And I can’t lie, it feels way too damn good to be starving, it feels way too damn good to have people worrying about me again, it feels way too damn good not to have quite so much guilt when I go to sleep each night, as I feel another bone on my stomach that I couldn’t the week before.

Anorexia is my safety blanket.  It’s what I cling to when things get hard and it’s been something which has stopped me from having to face real life for over five years now.  But not only that, I see it as me.  I am so terrified of letting go of it because if I do, what’s left?  No-one could possibly be interested by plain old me, no-one could possibly be attracted to ‘fat’, average Ashleigh when everyone else is so beautiful and amazing?  Without anorexia I have nothing…or so it keeps telling me.

But then there’s the truth.  I am nothing with Anorexia.  I am nothing while I hold on to the idea that I must be skin and bones for people to take me seriously.  I am nothing while I spend yet another day half-asleep at uni or dying of exhaustion at dance because I got up and ran to the gym at half six in the morning.  I am nothing while I continue to care what other people think of what I eat and what I look like because the truth is, I could be everything without anorexia.  So here I am, solemnly promising to love myself and nourish myself every day until I am no longer just ‘functioning’ but living instead because the idea that you can be living at all with anorexia is a big fat lie.

What a difference a year with anorexia can make…(Summer 2012-2013).  I think its time we realised just how much life anorexia can suck out of someone…and high time I stopped it from sucking any more out of mine.

 

Featured image courtesy of Chloe Helena Duff.

Summer Reading 2017

Somehow Summer is now coming to an end and that period of time which seemed so vast back in May has shrunk away to nothing and I haven’t managed to do half the blog posts that I wanted to.  But no matter because secretly I’m really excited to catch up with everyone I haven’t seen since last term after what has been a particularly difficult Summer for me overall.

One of the main joys of my Summer however, has been the reading for leisure, that, while studying an English and Film course, you just don’t get during term time because you’re too busy reading a hideous number of Victorian novels and feverishly taking notes on them all…or is that just me?

And so now, being the slow reader and feverish note taker that I am, I have packed up all my leisure reading and started yet again on the assigned readings for next trimester but since I enjoyed a number of the books I read over the past couple of months quite so much, then I thought this might be a good opportunity to share them with you too.  So here is my Summer reading of 2017 ranked in order of my favourites.

 

#8 Neil Gaiman – American Gods

Neil Gaiman is one of the top fiction writers of the moment so I was really looking forward to having my first chance to read one of his novels, however, I hate to say that I was left unimpressed.  The story follows the character of Shadow as he re-enters society after a period in prison.  When he learns of his wife’s death he is distraught and, with no better offers on the table, takes a job with the mysterious Wednesday, who leads him into situations that he never thought possible.

Don’t get me wrong, the plot premise was quite an intriguing idea which is why it still made my list but in the same way that I didn’t enjoy the television series Breaking Bad, I sometimes felt it was trying way too hard to be clever or original and just failing miserably.  Maybe I went into this novel with too high expectations?  Maybe I’m just not cultured enough for a story of this calibre?  But all I can say is that I was left a little bored and lost at the number of plot twists and slightly unbelievable events as they played out within the narrative.

I also think that to truly enjoy this novel you need to have a really good grasp of the Greek and other Gods from history and even though I though I had quite a good knowledge of this, I struggled at points to match the character from the novel to the god they represented,  All in all, it didn’t leave me running to watch the Amazon television series that is newly based on this story.

#7 Irvine Welsh – Trainspotting 

Now, if you know me, you know that Trainspotting the film is one of my favourites and so I thought it about time that I got round to reading the original novel which inspired it but I think inspiration is as far as we can go to make links between the film and the novel itself.  For anyone who isn’t so familiar with the story itself it basically follows a group of young heroine addicts from Edinburgh as they try and fail to get on in life.

I found that there are far more characters involved in the novel than in the film and the narrator changes between chapters so it is not only Mark Renton who we hear from which was an aspect of the novel I actually quite liked. The additional plot lines in the novel also gave a deeper insight into the community in which the characters were living in as well as the heavier focus on the illness of aids as a theme  gave the book a higher sense of seriousness and depth that the film lacks, perhaps.

However, why I will possibly stick with the film in this case is because I thought that the plot itself in the novel was quite jagged and slightly disjointed and just didn’t run as smoothly as it did onscreen.  I also think the story of Trainspotting just works better when you can visually see what’s going on and it seems to have more impact in this way.  For me, Trainspotting needs Danny Boyle’s visual effects to make it great so this book remains quite low on my list.

#6 Andrea Levy – Small Island

Small Island was actually a book that I acquired by accident while ordering last years uni books but, since I had enjoyed Andrea Levy’s other novel, Fruit of the Lemon, I decided to give this one a go too.  Small Island has similar themes to Fruit of the Lemon in which race and racial prejudices are key but it is set back at the time of the Second World War which gave it a completely different feel as a novel.

It follows four main characters, that of Queenie, Hortense, Bernard and Gilbert and their varying experiences during the war and in post-war Britain as well as exploring how this differs as a result of their ethnicity and the colour of their skin.  Just as you would expect this was a really thought-provoking and important novel in so many ways but Levy’s use of comedy and light-heartedness throughout made it pleasant to read at the same time.

Although it was slightly too close to term time reading and a number of the themes I had covered in my first year modules to fully appreciate the novel at this time, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and I would urge everyone to give this book a try.

#5 Jonas Jonasson – The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared

This novel is an experience to say the least and I can honestly say it is just as delightfully odd as its title may suggest.  For a long time I actually wanted to write a specific blog post entirely dedicated to this book, mainly to help myself to get my head around it too, but I unfortunately ran out of time to do so.

The story begins with hundred-year old Allan Karlsson deciding on a whim one day to leave his care home behind and go on an adventure and, believe me, he gets exactly that.  Not only do we get to follow Allan through all the weird and wonderful scenarios that he gets himself into on his travels but as the story unfolds we also get an insight into the weird and wonderful past that he has already lived.

For a while, I was a sceptic that thought the story was just too downright ridiculous to actually work but as I read on I discovered a great fondness for the silliness and the humour which is used so well throughout.  I have to warn you before you read it that it is a little bit bonkers and doesn’t really make any logical sense at all but if you are looking for an easy, enjoyable read, especially for holidays, then you can’t possibly find a more perfect book than this.

#4 – Emma Donoghue – Room

And from one very light-hearted read to one with a much more serious message to convey.  Room is, in many parts, a very difficult one to power through but one that should definitely not be disregarded.  It basically manages to give an insight into the world of Jack and his mother who live in Room.  It is told from the perspective of five year-old Jack which gives a child-like innocence to the story which is very much needed when we learn the truth about why they both live in one solitary room with no means of ever seeing the outside world.

I actually read Room very quickly by my terms because the suspenseful nature of, especially the middle section of the novel, makes you desperate to see what will become of the two protagonists of the story, so much so that you find yourself completely losing track of time.  Another thing really got me about it was the fact that you fully connected with the characters of Jack and his mum and are so desperate, for his mother especially, to get on well after everything that has happened to her that you sometimes forget that it is fiction.

But I guess, one of the things that is so shocking about this novel is it’s real-life aspect because as horrible as it is, what happened to Jack’s mother has actually happened in today’s society and this novel is able to show us, however slightly, just how terrible a thing that truly is.

#3 – Louis de Bernières – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a novel which was recommended to me a number of years ago but, and I hate to say it, I kind of judged it on it’s cover for a long time and simply thought it might be quite tedious and boring.  I am happy to announce that I was very wrong.

The story is set in Cephalonia in Greece during the Second World War and the German and Italian invasion which occurred there during that time.  It follows the family of a doctor and his daughter, Pelagia, in particular as they see their village overrun by soldiers including the eccentric but highly lovable character of Captain Corelli, who is assigned to live with the family.  It also jumps to other aspects of the war as we hear about soldier Carlo’s experiences and difficulties both in life and throughout combat while giving us an overall view of wartime Greece and how life changed there.

One of the biggest strengths of the novel was definitely its ability to completely transport the reader to the Greek island it was set on, to a degree which I have never before experienced and I honestly felt myself falling in love with a place I had never even visited which was a wonderful thing.  The characterisation was also second to none as I felt myself feeling such strong feelings for each and every one of the characters involved as the story progressed and I couldn’t quite get over just how much I cared about what was going to become of them all.

The novel’s one weakness is that I found the ending to be too obvious and drawn out and I kind of wished the story had ended maybe fifty pages before the end just for more of a fitting, poignant and clean conclusion but every other aspect of this novel having been done so well still catapults it to very close to the top of my list.

#2 Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho

I don’t know whether the fact that this novel is second on my list should worry me or not but I can’t deny the fact that this was one of the most interesting and unapologetic novels I have ever read in my life.  It follows the life of Patrick Bateman, a highly successful businessman on Wall Street who, on the surface, is wealthy, well-groomed, completely in control and exactly what society wants to see, but his life also has an unexpected flip-side as he doubles as one of the most gruesome serial-killers I have ever encountered.

Never before have I felt quite so much like throwing up during a novel, never before have I wondered quite so many times what on earth is going on in a section of a book, never before has an author managed to fit quite so many designer labels and brands into one chapter but never before has my interest been peaked quite so much by the nature of a man in society and how everyone views him versus who he actually is.

This novel is not for the faint-hearted or the squeamish among us but it is an exceptional critique of modern day society and materiality as well as showing us a character who is quite so clearly psychopathic that I started to wonder about Bret Easton Ellis’s own psyche whilst writing it.  There’s a reason it has become such a modern classic and I say just to read it because it will be a novel that you never forget.

#1 Stieg Larsson – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Millennium trilogy rose to popularity a number of years ago and has been something on my must-read list for a long time.  Unfortunately, when it first came out it really wasn’t appropriate for seven year old me to be reading so it has taken me until now to finally get round to it, and I am so glad that I did.  As you can probably see from my top two choices, my favourite genre in both books and films is psychological thrillers and this novel managed to mix this genre with an incredible who dunnit style mystery which keeps you guessing until the very last piece of the puzzle has been put in place.

The mystery itself is decades old but is something that wealthy businessman Henrik Vanger is determined to discover the truth about before he dies.  He calls in financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist to look over the mystery of the disappearance of his niece Harriet Vanger one more time and, along with the help of expert computer hacker and social introvert Lisbeth Salander, you won’t believe what secrets are uncovered as their investigations play out…

The mystery itself is a highly intriguing one and you find yourself examining the clues found for yourself too, desperate to find out what happened to Harriet and why certain characters act the way they do before Mikael discovers it for himself.  Not only that, but the dynamic and seriously unconventional figure of Lisbeth Salander is an incredibly strong addition as we follow her individual story just as closely.  It is hard-hitting and suspenseful and just plain brilliant at times and is honestly up there with one of the best crime novels I have ever encountered.

I can’t wait to read the next instalments in the trilogy and plan to do so very soon once I get through some of the endless amounts of reading I am now entrenched in for my course as I can’t wait to find out what will happen next for Lisbeth and the other characters involved in her life now that the mystery of Harriet has been solved.  But one thing that makes me incredibly sad is the fact that Stieg Larsson, the author of this amazing narrative, did not live to see the amazing success and acclaim that it has achieved.

So there you have it.  My Summer reading is now finished and after writing this article I think its high time that I returned to feverishly taking notes on Victorian novels and, rather weirdly, stories about monsters which also seem to be rather prevalent on my course…but I really hope that this list gives you some inspiration next time you’re looking for an interesting read and that no-one changes their perspective of me once they learn that my two favourite books this Summer were almost completely concerned serial killers…Happy reading folks!

 

 

 

 

The Art of Simply ‘Being’

I am a worrier.  I’m obsessive.  I compulsively plan each and every thing in my life and can get horribly upset when things don’t work out exactly as they’re meant to.  I make lists for everything and am always one step ahead of my own reality, despite never quite being able to decide what that step is.  I also know however, that I’m not alone.  Having a diagnosis for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as recovering from Anorexia can often heighten my stress levels and my inability to live in the moment but I know, at least to some degree, that these days pretty much all of us find it difficult to switch off and see the world around us and experience our lives as they are truly meant to be lived – in the moment.

And here is where the art of simply being comes in.  It is something that many people may never have thought about and, in today’s society, something that is pretty much impossible to fully embrace but even letting go of the need to control slightly and allowing yourself to appreciate what you have seen a million times as the miraculous and beautiful things that they are, would go a long, long way.  My understanding of ‘simply being’ comes from an accumulation of spiritual practices and ideas which I have tried over the years in an attempt to improve my mental health and so it may be different to what others believe and, ultimately, what you believe, but for me its important and that’s why I want to share a little bit about it with you here.

My journey into practices of the mind and towards trying to finally embrace the art of simply being started when I first tried mindfulness during one of my hospital admissions for anorexia.  Lets just say that at the time I wasn’t impressed and was just as sceptical as the majority of the population, but now I am so glad that my nurse (who I was less than fond of, I might add) forced me to sit down and practice and read the information she gave me because a few years later I  have realised that the concept of mindfulness was exactly what I needed.  Mindfulness is basically the practice of living in the here and now and recognising the processes of your body and mind in the very second in which you are living.  It means not obsessing about the future or the past or even about how much stuff you had planned to do that day but never got round to.  It originally comes from Buddhist practices and is a chance for us to let go of our insatiable need for planning and thinking and would hopefully lead to a peace of mind I have been forever searching for.  I have tried and failed many times to fully commit to the practices and doing the meditations on a regular basis but now that my journey in this field has progressed I can see why its so important to keep it up and keep adding to your ability because calming the mind is a skill that takes practice, just like any other skill you may choose to learn.

The second major step in my journey towards simply being is a slightly more recent one.  My mum’s friend is a great believer in spiritual healing and practices reiki and reflexology on a regular basis and, especially since I became unwell, she has continued to give me books about spirituality, crystals and self-help.  And, while I did read the books she gave me, I just never really believed it could work or help me in any way – until about two months ago.  Just after handing in my final essay at university I was looking for a new book to read and, as I was rather low on funds (just for a change) I found I didn’t want to spend money on the novel I had been fancying and decided to read something I already had instead, which turned out to be Gabrielle Bernstein’s ‘The Universe Has Your Back’, which I had received as a gift from her over a year earlier.  I started reading it and I guess something finally clicked.  The timing was right and I honestly believe that I was meant to read that book at that time and, just to prove it, when the book asked me to look for a sign in my everyday life, I found the exact book I had wanted to read instead of ‘The Universe Has Your Back’ in a charity shop for £2 in a place I would never usually had ventured, just half an hour later.

In ‘The Universe Has Your Back’, Gabrielle discusses letting go of some of our control and allowing the universe to give us what is right, instead of obsessing over having to get it ourselves.  It also talks about the power of positive thinking (which I am obsessed with) and how mantras and meditations can help us to not only make our own lives better, but the lives of everyone else around us better too.  The meditations are slightly different to mindfulness practices but run along the same lines and, I feel, are in some cases even more helpful for me personally than the former.  It was an incredibly freeing experience to read this book and it is ultimately why I am writing this today and why I wanted to share the act of simply being with you all.  A lot of you will be thinking that it sounds like nonsense and that’s ok because for a long time I did too but I simply ask you to be open minded and to give it a try to see if it can help even slightly to give you  a bit more peace and calm in your mind and, ultimately, in your life.

And so by this stage, my idea of the art of simply being became a mixture of mindfulness, Gabrielle Bernstein’s theories and Buddhist teachings but the final part of it also became my own personal opinions and beliefs in life which I found were just as important in shaping how I practiced these philosophies as the ideas themselves.  I don’t believe that you can just wait around for opportunities to fall into your lap and sometimes the best thing you can do is fight and work hard for something to make sure you get what you want because then, and only then, if it doesn’t happen then you can be satisfied that, in this place and in this time, what you really want is not the right thing for you.  I also don’t believe that its possible not to sometimes look ahead and plan things just as its also nice to sometimes look back and appreciate happy memories and what used to be and I think that recognising the times where planning and remembering are helpful are important practices too.  But probably the most important thing I’d like to add is that its ok not to follow spiritual practices or theories of self-help to the letter because everyone is different and everyone will find a different way of living which works for them.  As long as what you do makes you happy and makes other people happy too then it’s a worthwhile practice to me.

Personally, I am really hoping that giving my art of simply being a final try will be the thing I need to stop overthinking everything and, quite often, still being a slave to my own thoughts.  June has been a particularly difficult month for me but I am glad to be coming away from it with something much more positive than I could have imagined and, by sharing these positive practices with you all, perhaps something even more positive still.  And I know it seems daunting but its ok to slip up and its ok to not understand what you’re actually trying to do but being truly present in your everyday life and letting go of some of the fears and doubts you have really can help.  And to help you get started below you will find some of my favourite and easiest ways of practicing the art of simply being in everyday life from books and resources I have used in the past, and, if you do want to take it that step further, I have also added a number of links to resources which may help.

How To Practice The Art of Simply Being in Everyday Life

  • A good way to start is with simply breaking one of your normal routines.  Say you usually sit in a particular chair in your house or at work or you do things in a set order when getting ready in the morning etc. then just switch this up.  Sit in a different place or have your breakfast before you do your makeup for a change – it can be amazing what a change can be made from breaking away from your default pattern!
  • As soon as you wake up in the morning tell yourself, either out loud or in your head, that today is going to be a good day.  Say it a couple of times and use it as a positive mantra to show that you’re ready for whatever the day will bring.
  • Go for a walk and leave your headphones at home for a change.  Simply walk around and try to do nothing to experience the world around you.  You will be amazed by the different sights, sounds and smells that you usually completely miss.
  • Take a social media break for a day or leave your phone at home.  Or, if you can’t manage that then leave your television and laptop off for the night. Cutting yourself off from technology for a while can seem really daunting but its often one of the only ways we can truly experience the world around you and trust me, it feels great to get a bit of freedom from it!
  • Try out one of my favourite, basic mindfulness practices called the raisin meditation.  All you have to do is take a handful of raisins and a notebook and start by really studying one of the raisins.  Look at it’s physical appearance and write down what you find.  Then, think about the texture of the raisin and how it feels in your hand.  Finally, put the raisin in your mouth and, very slowly, bite into it and think about what it tastes like.  Write down the results and try again with the next one.  You will probably find that you’ve never truly tasted a raisin more and you’ll realise all the times you’ve absent-mindedly eaten things without even giving it a second thought…oh, and you can also do this meditation with chocolate if you want!
  • Each time something frustrating happens or you find yourself faced with a problem, stop for a minute, take a deep breath and think about it differently.  See it as a challenge that you have to overcome and use the minute to think how you can produce a more positive outcome from this situation, than if you had just acted straight away.  You may find that this is just the universe testing you, waiting to see how you are going to react.
  • A good time to practice being mindful is while cleaning your teeth.  You will find that you are so used to the activity that you’re mind will wander on to a number of different topics and you won’t even really pay attention to the brushing itself.  So, next time you brush your teeth don’t think about anything but the activity itself.  Notice the way the brush moves across the teeth and take your time to cover each and every one and see how the action feels.  There’s two great opportunities per day to be mindful without taking any time out of your day!
  • And this last tip is all my own and its very simple: get more sleep.  It is impossible to be completely present in your life if you can hardly keep your eyes open during it.  Simply being is not about coasting through your life, it is actually about being awake and aware and you can’t do this on four hours of sleep a night!

Resources Which May Help

  • The Headspace App, available on apple and android, is a really user-friendly app which allows you to do meditation practices anywhere.  It takes you right from the beginning and seems like a much more ‘acceptable’ way to clear your mind if you don’t feel ready to jump into the heavily spiritual stuff yet.  It gives you a ten session free trial and after that costs hardly anything for a full year subscription.  It’s a great tool and I would highly recommend it.
  • https://gabbybernstein.com/ – if you want to find out more about Gabrielle Bernstein and any of her books or products or are looking for more resources about this aspect of spiritual teaching then definitely check out her website.  She really is a great figure in this field although some of the things she talks about may be quite daunting for someone completely new to meditation or spirituality in general.  But if you’re open to it, I know this could be a real help.
  • Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world, written by Mark Williams and Danny Penman – this book is where it all started for me and is really user-friendly.  You get a CD with the book which gives you some of the best mindfulness meditations that I have ever used and has a good number of chapters just talking about what mindfulness is and why it is useful and each week you get a set of different tasks to complete which makes it really simple to follow.  Only challenge you have to face with this one is fully committing, and staying fully committed for the entire eight weeks!

GOOD LUCK!

 

 

Orange Is No Longer The New Black

PLEASE NOTE:  THIS REVIEW DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS.

I am often overly critical in my analysis of films, television series and books and I know myself that I will always look for the problems and the parts I didn’t like before I start thinking of the positives.  I’m a pessimistic critic, and I accept that.  It is for this reason that I usually like to take a bit of time to process my thoughts before I actually write any reviews or give my opinions on things to make them more balanced however, after finally getting to the season finale of what was previously one of my favourite Netflix original series’, I already knew that my mind was well and truly made up about what I believe to be the downfall of Orange is the New Black.

Just like every other fan of the show, I was counting down the days to June 9th when Season 5 of the hit series would finally come out and we would be reunited with our favourite felons and the suspense would ultimately be over about what Dayanara chose to do with that gun.  However, as the episodes continued, I felt like something was missing.  The riot, which I assumed would end after, perhaps, a couple of episodes simply dragged on and on and I found myself losing interest pretty quickly as the plot became more convoluted and, at times, frankly ridiculous.

I didn’t like seeing Red lose the steely Russian stance she has always owned so well and end up with some crazy vendetta while on speed, I didn’t like how the first thing the inmates thought to do with the hostages was to unclothe them all and then – wait for it – make them take part in a talent show.  I didn’t like how everyone suddenly had smartphones and access to the outside world and I didn’t like how Maritza and Flaca became ‘Youtube famous,’ and completely lost their ability to make snappy one-liners. I felt like all of the plot lines used were just very obvious and forced and it cheapened the humour of the show no end.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, Orange is the New Black has always been ridiculous, but it’s been ridiculous in a way which is shocking and out there and makes you wonder how they got away with it.  But in season 5 the humour is really tacky a lot of the time and makes it seem like the writers have just run out of ideas.  None of the jokes or antics have anything on Crazy Eyes singing ‘chocolate and vanilla swirl’ or Doggett finally getting new teeth and I can’t think of a single time I really sat back and laughed while watching this new season at all.

I guess I should have seen this coming.  The show has slowly been becoming much more serious and dark than it’s former humorous days and that was ok because I cried like a baby when Poussey died and hailed the show as a success (despite standing by the opinion that season one and two are undoubtedly the best) because it still made me feel something.  But, and I really, really hate to say it, I kind of ended up not caring whether any of the inmates had their demands met at the end of the riot, and I may have even stopped caring about what happened to the prisoners themselves.  Not only was the humour gone but the sentimentality was too and the relationships became less endearing with every empty phrase or stupid decision that people made.

And one thing that I have loved about Orange is the New Black in the past is their frequent flashback sequences, which gave us a clear insight into why each individual found themselves in prison, and, for a lot of them, made us see them as human and oddly justified in what they did.  But although there remained flashback sequences, the ones we did see, such as that of Tastyee meeting her birth mother and Daya as a teenager getting advice from Aleida, were a bit misguided and didn’t really fit for me with those we had seen in the past for the same characters.  There was also a flashback about Alison Abdullah which I found quite gripping to begin with but then the back story just seemed to stop and I was left wondering what the whole point of showing us anything was.  The one saving grace for this season’s flashback sequences was that of Piscatella’s secret relationship with a former inmate in his past career as this seemed to be a nod to the old format and gave me a profound sense of feeling for a character which was few and far between in other parts of the show.

For me though, maybe the whole problem was the basis of the season altogether because the riot meant that we were watching the characters as free women, in a sense.  They no longer had to stick to routines, go to work, sneak around, deal with staff or anything which, in my opinion, has made Orange is the New Black so popular in the first place.  I don’t know about anyone else but when I watch a show where the whole basis is watching the mishaps of women serving time in a correctional facility, I don’t think it really works if they are all free women with free rein of the place.  Hell, that’s just some folk sitting around in a confined space!  It’s funny really, because my Mum is just starting the series herself and so I re-watched the first ever episode last week and I couldn’t get over how much I missed that part of the show.  Mr Healy and Mendez, Bennett and O’Neil…for me they were just as much a part of the show as Piper is and they really made those first few seasons the wonderful things they are now, but, not only are they gone but there was no sense of order at all and it was just as chaotic watching the show as the prison riot itself.

For me, order was restored way too late and in way too unconvincing circumstances and I for one have been left bitterly disappointed by this half baked concoction of cheesy humour and obvious antics.  I want passion, I want good, untasteful humour, I want scandal and betrayal, I want steamy relationships and criminal plans but most of all, I want the old Litchfield back.  In this case, I think Ill be sticking to my little black dress over an orange jumpsuit any day.

Featured image is not my own.  It is copied from: https://womensvoicesforchange.org/the-pros-and-cons-of-orange-is-the-new-black.htm