Friday, 29 June 2012

Thoughts on Obamacare


I saw this on my friend feed on facebook this morning and it made me think of my family - who are all probably apoplectic by now about yesterday's Supreme Court decision:


It made me think about my own experience with the NHS here in Wales. Some has been good, some has been bad, some has been fucking awful, and some has been absolutely amazing... But overall, I find I am infinitely grateful for having it. I posted this response on my own timeline:

I grumble about the NHS from time to time because, like anything run by the government, it is flawed. But where would I be without it? I wouldn't be able to see my therapist, get treatment for my tinitus, or get my antidepressants, allergy medication, asthma medication, cold sore medication, painkillers for arthritis, etc. because I'm one of those people too poor for health insurance. To be honest, I probably wouldn't be here because, in all honesty, I wasn't coping with the Depression on my own. So that precentage of my wage that I lose to pay for the NHS? Take it. And the next time you slag off the people who can't afford health insurance and moan about how YOU have to pay for them (even though half the people I have heard bitching about it DON'T EVEN WORK), remember that's ME you're talking about. Thanks.

And that's where I stand on Obamacare. 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Failure.

I've been sitting here staring at the screen for the last half an hour, struggling with how to start...

*deep breath*

I've been gearing myself up for St. Anne's Hospice's Midnight Walk which was last night. I raised £128 in sponsorship and was so freaking ready to take on the 10 mile walk. After I got home from work, I had a shower while Jay made pasta for dinner (for the slow-release energy). I dressed in layers, packed a light back and filled my iPod. As ready as I was ever going to be, we headed off to Newport Stadium where the walk was going to begin.

I was pretty nervous as I got my official number and was sent to wait out the hour before the walk started. It felt like I was the only person there who was there alone. Finally, I found an older woman who appeared to be alone as well. I tried to make small talk with her but she was curt and didn't appear to be interested. I cracked a few jokes - she didn't crack a smile once. So I wandered around a bit more. Everyone was there in their little cliques, laughing and having a good time. There was one woman there, about my age and about my weight, dress (believe it or not) as a Dalek. Finally... The type of person I wanted to hang out with! But she was listening to her iPod and didn't look like she wanted company.

(I was happy to see someone like her there. I thought it meant that I stood a chance, you know? But when the walk started she flew ahead and was in the front half of the column in no time.)

My attempts at finding a walking buddy weren't going well but it didn't really matter since they called us all together then to stretch, ready for the walk. Well, I say stretch... What I mean is a full-on-fucking-work-out. What the hell is up with a twenty minute work out before a ten mile walk? Since when does that make sense? Needless to say, my attempt was rather half-hearted - and I wasn't the only one! There was no break between the work out and the start of the walk, either. We set off immediately.

It was pretty clear, even before we made it out of the stadium, that I wasn't going to be able to keep up with the pack. I was at the very back as soon as it started and lagged farther and farther behind as we went along. By the end of the first mile, I'd lost sight of the rest of the walkers. Not that I was bothered... It wasn't about me keeping up, it was about me finishing. (Or so I thought.)

The first mile was the worst - partly because I suffer from shin splints. Frequently and badly. It's happened since marching band (shut up) and I don't even think about it any more, it's so common. Most of the time, if I just lay off a little bit and go slow for a little while, it eases up and I can carry on - kind of hard to do when you have two security officers ("marshalls") riding your ass.

The two security officers were meant to take up the rear of the column. In this case, that meant me. You could tell that they weren't too happy about it too. Eventually, they gave up trying to stay behind me and walked a block or so ahead. I was fine with that because I felt like having them on my heels was forcing me to go faster than was comfortable, making my shin splints worse.

By the second mile, my left leg was almost numb from the pain. But I didn't quit.

The time between the second mile and the third mile was the best. The pain was easing off, I was enjoying my music, and my speed was picking up. I finally started to think that I could do it - and in a decent time too! The only annoying part was the marshalls who kept stopping every few minutes and asking if I was alright. I wanted to say "I will be if you leave me the fuck alone and let me do this thing." But I didn't. I smiled and tried to crack jokes. And I kept going.

At a quarter past one, I had made it past the first three miles and stopped at the first toilet point. I had already abandoned my hat and my hoodie and I thought it was about time I lost my sweat pants too. (I was wearing leggings underneath.) So I stripped off, splashed some cold water on my face and went outside to carry on. Except I didn't.

The two marshalls approached me. The older of the two was quite brusque. "Listen, love," he started, "I've been doing this for five years and I'm telling you right now you ain't gonna make it. We have to be clear of this course in five hours, you know." Talk about being shocked speechless! I looked to the younger marshall for help but he just shook his head and said that I was three miles behind the rest of the group and that I was a health and safety risk and that they couldn't let me continue.

What could I do? I just plastered a big smile on my face and said "Oh. Ok." and followed them to the bus that they had called to collect me. It felt like an ambush. I was trying so hard not to cry when I called Jay and asked him to pick me up. Luckily, no one tried to talk to me on the way back but the second I stepped out of the bus at the stadium, a guy grabbed me and hugged me and told me how proud he was that I had tried. That was when I started crying.

I really just wanted to be left alone but the good people of St. Anne's wouldn't allow that. One woman took me as her personal charity case and stayed with me until Jay arrived. She was nice and really supportive but I really didn't want to have anyone making small talk at me while I cried. I just wanted to get away. Even with everything that has happened between Jay and me lately, when he picked me up he gave me a big hug and told me not to beat myself up over it because I had tried. That's what everyone kept saying: At least I had tried.

I wanted to scream.

Yes, I had tried - but I would have fucking done it if they had just left me alone! They decided I couldn't do it, not me! They looked at me and deemed me a failure without ever giving me the chance to fail. It was a soul destroying moment that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

To say that I was inconsolable is an understatement. When we got home, Jay made me a cup of coffee and gave me a big hug but nothing he could say or do could make me stop crying; the shame I felt was too great. I went to bed and cried until I fell asleep.

Jay tells me that I should use it as motivation to be that much better for next year and blow them all away. But how can I? How can I ever ask anyone to sponsor me again when all they'll see when they look at me is a failure? I'm already thinking that I will have to find a way to pay everyone back the money they donated and there's no way in hell I will ask anyone who didn't already pay to give their sponsorship money. I don't deserve it.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Thinking about Midsummer...


I'm going to let you in on a little pet peeve of mine: People who say that the Summer Solstice marks the beginning of summer. I mean... Hello?!?! Have you been in a cave the last few months? Have you somehow missed the swelteringly hot days and crippling humidity? I haven't. My hair hasn't. But apparently my afro and I know something that the rest of society refuse to acknowledge and that's this: Summer began with the lighting of the Beltane bonfires. What the Summer Solstice marks is not the start of summer but the half-way point – hence the term “midsummer.”

The Summer Solstice is also called “Litha” (among other things) and is one of the four “Lesser Sabbats” of the Pagan year. It normally falls on the 20th/21st of June. This year, the Solstice ocurs on the 20th (tomorrow). The Sun reaches its peak on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and as the old saying goes, it's all downhill from there. The Sun's power begins to fade and the days begin to shorten again, leading us to the end of summer (and the start of Autumn) at Lammas/Lughnasadh.

I've never been much of a Sun worshipper myself, preferring Moonlight and shadows (as well you know) but even I can't deny the magick apparent at this time of the year. Today Dylan Dog and I took a stroll through woods and it was absolute bliss. All the trees and shrubs are growing wild, the flowers are in bloom, the birds are singing... It's like a Disney movie come to life. I'm glad I got to take the time to connect with Nature today since I know that tomorrow will probably be a busy day for me and the Solstice will have to contend with Pay Day (or, as I like to call it, Bill Day).

The Ancients would celebrate the Summer Solstice with dancing and feasting long into the long night. Indeed, there will be many Pagan celebrations tomorrow, all around the world, including the traditional ritual at Stonehenge. How will I celebrate? *sigh* I would love to wear a garland of flowers in my hair and walk barefoot in the fields... but somehow I doubt my reality would allow that. The weather isn't suppose to be bad, though, so maybe I will take a walk in my lunch hour – maybe stop and buy myself a bouquet of bright flowers and stuff myself on Summer fruit... I could think of worse ways to celebrate! 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Pinnerholics Anonymous

Three new boards on pinterest this week: ATCs and ACEOs Galore, Henna Tattoos, and Gypsies, Hippies and Bohemians.

Some interesting pinterest stats for you too:

Boards: 140
Pins: 5,313
Likes: 5,991
Followers: 441

Yes, my name is Wondra and I have a problem.

School Time Wondra - Update

Yay!!!

I made it through the school year. It was pretty touch-and-go there for awhile and I wasn't always certain I would, but I made it!

*happydance*

I had one exam last week and one exam this week. Last week's exam was pretty tough. It was for The Art of English, a class I've found both interesting and mind numbingly dull in equal measures. I stayed up all night the night before studying for it and was so tired by the time it was done that I couldn't face going in to work. I called my boss and explained the situation, promised to be in after a quick nap, and she was totally cool.

Best. Boss. Ever.

After that, I was feeling pretty nervous about this week's exam. This week it was The Nineteenth Century Novel which is SO not the class you want to be taking when you're trying to recover from Depression. Trust me. I was especially worried because there was one book that I simply refused to read. (Germinal by Emile Zola.) Naturally, I was expecting that to come up on the exam - lucky for me, it didn't!

I was surprisingly happy with the second exam. I got to choose from really good questions and I'm confident that I would have been able to answer any of them, anyway. Now, all I have to do is wait. I only have to get a 40 on both tests to pass the classes and, right now, all I want is to pass. It's been such a tough year that just passing will be an achievement. *fingers crossed*

I've already signed up for next year's classes and I'm just waiting for the financial aid to come through. I'm taking Children's Literature & Reading and Studying Literature. If all goes well, and I pass these classes and those, I'll finally have my BA in English Language and Literature. It's been a long time in coming.

I was looking at some Masters Degrees that The Open University offer and I didn't see the one I was hoping to take after I get my BA. (Masters of Library and Information Science) Bummer. I have plenty of time to worry about that, though...

New Look!

As you may or may not know, the DH was trained as a hairdresser (back in the day.) He was a teenager, and a gothic, and this move was designed entirely to get some tail. (I'm told it worked terrifically.) But he really didn't enjoy it. At. All. Not a "people person," you see. Plus, being a hairdresser is way grosser than you might think. I'm not going to repeat any of the horror stories he's told me - because I would probably puke. For real.

The DH did not even consider sticking with hairdressing.(Turns out he got plenty of tail without it.) But he still remembers the important bits... Which is really handy when I get bored and decide I want to try something new. Like this week!

I haven't dyed my hair in such a very long time that it was almost all the way back to my natural colour (with just a bit of black at the very ends.) Just couldn't be bothered caring how I looked, in all honesty. (Depression sucks for that.) But my lovely ERDrewHilda had a wicked awesome dye job recently and it inspired me to trying something funky myself.

"Baaaabbeee.... Will you dye my hair for me?"

He he he. I bought one box of the brightest red I could find and dug out a box of black I've had hidden away, gave them both to the DH and told him to "Make me look awesome." Then I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. (Yes, he was a hairdresser... But he also thought the mullet was a valid fashion choice. Just sayin'...) Two boxes of dye, and a few inches later...


And, of course, I love it. Because it's streaked red and black, it looks different, depending on how I part it. This is my favourite... Parted on one side, it looks mostly black. Until I do this:


Fuck yes! :) I totally love this hairstyle. (And my husband for not giving me a mullet.)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Midnight Walk

My official Walker's Pack for St. Anne's Midnight Walk arrived yesterday. I was suddenly very nervous. What if I can't raise the £50 I'm suppose to? What if I DIE in the middle of the walk? I mean... It's TEN MILES.

My Walker's Pack arrived yesterday with my map, sponsorship form and (very pink) tee-shirt.

I may have had a teeny tiny freak out.

But I'm okay now.

I reminded myself that it's for a really good cause. I thought of how absolutely horrible it was to be the ones caring for the MIL when she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and reminded myself that St. Anne's Hospice do that for ten people at a time, every day, over and over again. I honestly don't know how the people who work there have the strength to do it. It broke me.

So... I will do it. Every single mile. I will raise the money - and more, hopefully!

But I can't promise I won't die doing it. Lol. The DH and I had a look at the map last night. He just laughed. At my level of fitness, it's going to be very, very hard to get ready for this walk - and I've only got until the 22nd of this month! (Eeep.)

I've been thinking about the charity and volunteer work I used to do when I was living in America. I did the March of Dimes and the Relay for Life (which I posted about last weekend) but I also did a bit of volunteer work when I was at CMU. I worked the soup kitchen and volunteered at the Haunted Forest and HalloWeekends. HalloWeekend at Cedar Point was probably the scariest for me because it meant the whole weekend away from anyone I knew. No support net - that's what I find the hardest.

Magical House on Boo Hill. This is the "ride" we worked at - dressed as clowns. I'm glad there are no photos of that!

I can handle just about anything if I have friends with me to cheer me on but... Doing the Midnight Walk by myself? That's what scares me the most, I think. So I'm using HalloWeekends as my inspiration. I was terrified of doing it but ended up having a good time. It was lonely, yes, but I did it and enjoyed it. The one thing that I found disappointing was that I came away from it not having made any new friendships. Three days with the same group of people and I didn't get to know any of them any better. That's sad.

Although I'm still terrified of doing this by mself, I'm not the defensive little girl I was back then. I don't just want to do this, I want to make connections while doing it. Maybe I'm setting the bar too high for myself. Maybe I'll have another freak out on the day. But I'm still going to give it a go. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Witchlet

Check out these photos I found of me when I was a wee witchlet...



Too freakin' cute for words!!

Rhiwderyn Craft Fayre

I mentioned a few posts ago that the DH and I made a trip to the Rhiwderyn Craft Fayre. (Which is where we were when poor Charlie got out of his cage.) Well, I picked up a few necklaces - mostly to use for photo shoots - while we were there. I wore one of them last night when we went out and it was a great fit.

I work with the lovely lady who makes them (and told me about the fayre). She says that she never gets to take photos before they're gone and, well, that's something I can help with! Check them out:


I can't wait to use this one for a shoot because it rests right on your collarbone - I know it'll look great!


The DH picked this one as his favourite.


This is the one I wore last night. It hangs right in my cleavage - just like it's suppose to! (I hope.)


Check out the butterfly on it. It has wings that actually "flap." I was endlessly amused.

I wish I had a fan page or etsy or something to link you to so you could see more of the artist's work but at the moment, there's nothing. I understand that's meant to change soon so when it does, I'll share!

What I love about these (aside from the fact that they're completely different from the style I normally make) is that they're light weight and comfortable. Since they'll probably adorn many models' necks, comfort is important!

Oh, and there's going to be another craft fayre in Rhiwderyn on the 21st of July. I mention it because I've asked if I can have a table. *eep* I have had a craft stall exactly once - back in highschool when a friend (A Shimmering Star's Jessica) and I sold hand made jewellery to raise money for Relay for Life.


(Ha! Do we look tired and cold? We were! I remember that we were also selling home made soaps. I wish I could remember how much we made...)

I'm really excited about this prospect. It's part of the healing process for me. My therapist has stressed the importance of me getting back in touch with the crafty part of me that's been forced into dormancy for too long. Plus... Fun!

Finally, please remember to SASA! That's Support A Starving Artist for those of you not in the know. ;) We're all doing our best to "make it" so let's show each other some support!

Mrs. Brown Rides Again

If you haven't heard of Mrs. Brown and her boys, you're really missing out on some comedy greatness. Mrs. Brown's Boys started out as a comedy sitcom (seven seasons!) in Ireland and was so popular that it was picked up by The Beeb a couple years ago. So far, The BBC has shown two seasons and every episode has made me laugh out loud.

For Christmas, the DH and I bought tickets for me, him, his brother, and his brother's fiancee to go and see the stageshow, Mrs. Brown Rides Again. With everything being so up in the air for us right now, it was nice to have these tickets sitting in the house, waiting to be used. A night out was exactly what we needed.


So we got to get all dolled up and head into Cardiff for the night. I was looking forward to the show but not really looking forward to spending the night with the BIL and STB SIL. Not because I don't like them (which I do) but because I'm doing so well *touch wood* getting on top of the Depression and because they tend to be both very negative people - which I'm trying to avoid until I'm sure I can handle it.

I know that they don't mean to be inconsiderate, that's just the type of people they are. But I don't need people who make four times what I make in a year telling me about their financial problems. People with two homes in two different countries - who drive the sports car my DH has always wanted but could never afford - telling me how much their lives suck. You know what I mean. I just don't need that negativity in my life right now.

Anyway, back to the show...

The character of Mrs. Brown is played by Mr. Brendan O'Carroll and most of the cast are related in some way. They've been working together for a very, very long time and it shows in the way that they "play" with one another on stage. Some of the best bits of the shows were bloopers that resulted from one of the characters trying to stitch another one up.

It was a bit strange at first because the stage show covered a lot of stuff we'd seen in the first and second seaons on tv. I was expecting to be put off by that but, after a few minutes, I forgot I'd heard all the jokes before. It's all in the delivery, after all, and delivery is what Mrs. Brown's Boys do best.


If you haven't had a chance to see Mrs. Brown yet, either on the telly or on stage, I suggest that you do it. Immediately. You won't regret it. (I haven't seen the Irish version yet, though I have the box set here. I'll let you know what I think when I get around to it.)

There was a moment that really made me laugh, right at the end of the show. The DH warned me not to take one of the "big boys" (as he calls our semi-pro cameras) just in case they got uppity about it but since I forgot Ninja Camera's charger at my mom's in America (AGAIN), I was stuck with the Canon Powershot which is NOT my favourite. Partly for that reason and partly because I was busy laughing my head off, I didn't take many pictures. Besides, we were close to the stage but at the very end of the row and there was (as always) a very bald man in front of me, reflecting all the light from the flash. But I got enough - it's all about capturing the memory of "being there," anyway.

Well....

At the very end, as they all came back on, Mrs. Brown called for silence so "she" could make a speech and I thought that would make a great time to catch a quick photo. I wasn't alone, either! Three or four flashes all went off at about the same time and Mrs. Brown replied that we should all just disregard the signs that say "no flash photography," they were just for show. That was the cue for all the photographers in the audience to go nuts! (I discreetly slipped my camera back into my bag at that time. Heh.)



After the show, we wanted to go around the back of the arena to get autographs but the moment we stepped outside, we realised that was NOT going to happen. It wasn't just raining, it was a deluge. Within about ten seconds, we were soaked to the bone. So we made a dash for the car park instead - which was not easy because my makeup was running into my eyes, blinding me! I had to cling to the DH's arm and hope he remembered to warn me about curbs! A million flights of stairs (and a couple of near misses) later... We were faced with a very difficult decision: Strip naked in a public car park or ride all the way back to The Valleys soaking wet...

As you know, I am a comfortador. As you also know, I have no qualms about getting naked. Anywhere. So I got to ride home - mostly dry- wrapped in a nice warm blanket. The DH? He chose the other option. I swear... If he gets sick now, I'm going to laugh in his face and tell him he should have picked nudity!