Archive | December, 2012
Ondine

Ondine

I don’t know whether it’s the stress, depression, or fear of all the things that are going to be happening over the next few weeks, but I find myself with very little to say for myself this week. So instead of trying to think of some opinion, or insight, or experience to share with you, I’m going to tell you about the film I watched last night.

I think I’ve actually had the DVD for years, since someone gave it to me, but never watched it. It was a nice film for Christmas though. Much more so than the Hobbit, which I saw at the cinema the day it came out.

Ondine

Director: Neil Jordan

Genre: It describes itself on the box as a romantic drama, I’d have said it was more of a family film, and reckon that if they’d marketed it as such more people might have seen it.

Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins

Rating: 12A

The film opens with one of the main characters, Syracuse, or Circus to his friends, out on his fishing boat. The film is a bit slow to get going although in the mean time there is a lot of gorgeous Irish scenery to look at.

While out on this fishing trip, Syracuse, played by Colin Farrell, pulls his nets from the water to discover that he’s caught a woman rather than a haul of fish. After he revives her the film continues with its slow burn as both the characters and the actors seem to be confused as to what they are both doing together on the boat.

The woman tells Syracuse that her name is Ondine, and after establishing that she, ‘isn’t one of those asylum seekers’, he takes her home and buys her a dress, so that she’ll have something dry to wear, but no underwear. A detail that furthers the plot by providing a tenuous excuse for a later shopping trip with Syracuse’s daughter, but mainly serves to provide five minutes worth of scenes of Alicja Bachleda, who plays Ondine, wearing a flimsy, skin-tight dress and nothing else,  and another where she tries on underwear in a shop.

It’s not hard to see how Bachleda and Farrell ended up with a baby as a memento of this shoot.

Syracuse then leaves the mysterious Ondine, who he suspects to be some kind of mystical sea dweller, in his home as he goes to pick up his daughter Annie from his alcoholic ex-wife (played by Dervla Kirwan). He has to take Annie to the hospital where she is receiving treatment while awaiting a kidney transplant, but they are late and the doctor isn’t there.

Syracuse then pays a visit to his priest (Stephen Rea) to confess his sins, and because he feels that he must tell someone about the woman he pulled out of the water. Here we learn that Syracuse is a former alcoholic, and that he divorced Annie’s mother to get sober and give her a stable role model.

For me, Alison Barry’s performance as Annie steals the film from its adult stars. It is with her appearance that the film starts to get going and show its heart. She decides that Ondine is a Selkie, a mystical Scottish sea creature who has come to save her from her miserable life of hospital visits, teasing from the other children in the village, and worrying about her mother and stepfather’s drinking.

Annie’s extensive research about Selkies reveals that they live in the sea as seals, but that they may shed their seal coats and walk on land as women. Selkies cannot return to the sea without their seal coats, and so long as their seal coats are not found, and their Selkie husband does not come to reclaim they will stay on land for seven years. Annie dearly wishes for Ondine to stay, so when she find something that startles her in the water she helps her to bury it where it won’t be found.

Syracuse also wishes for Ondine to stay, she brings him luck, and he is falling in love with her. But if the three of them are to have a chance of a life together Annie and Syracuse must first learn whether the Selkie is myth or reality.

The ending of the movie comes as no great surprise, as this is no groundbreaking film, but it makes for a satisfying conclusion.

Ondine is a nice little film that makes for pleasantly warm viewing. The main characters are all likable and well acted, and the cast has a nice onscreen chemistry. The scenes between Ondine and Annie and were particularly sweet, as we see that the sea lady falls for the daughter as least as much as she does for the father.

The film was marketed as a fairy tale for adults, but I think that children would find it easier to ignore the obvious questions that arise for any adult watching. It has a 12A rating due to some swearing and violence. The swearing wasn’t particularly necessary for the piece and the scenes with violence could have been shot in a more child friendly way; I think that the film would have been the better for it. It would have worked better as a nice, family orientated film. Nevertheless I enjoyed it, and would say that it’s worth watching if you find yourself on a lazy Sunday with nothing better to do.

2012: A Pro/Con List

PRO: My mental health. 2012 was the year that I finally sought proper, professional help for the mental health problems that I have suffered for most of my life. I received a diagnosis, so now I know for sure that there is something wrong, it’s not just that I’m wrong as I’d always feared. And I started therapy and medication so I feel like I’m doing something about it.

CON: Also my mental health. When this year began I had finally reached the point where it wasn’t possible for me to ignore my mental health problems any more. They had become life threatening; the first six months of this year where the most terrifying of my life as I battled feelings of isolation and despair, not to mention suicidal ideation.

Giant Cupcake PRO: My friends. Most of my friends have been very supportive and understanding of my situation, they even humoured me in attending a party I threw so that they could take down my Christmas tree in May because I hadn’t been able to muster the energy to do it myself.

There was the bunch of lovely people who ran a relay of checking in when things were looking particularly grim. And one lady in particular, who we shall call Faith, who did her best to get me out, and about, and away from the fog that is my depression; and tried to help me to understand and to analyse my condition as the first step in learning how to beat it.

I think it’s no exaggeration to say that it if it wasn’t for these people I wouldn’t be sitting here today to writing this list.

 CON: False friends. At the beginning of the year I was relying very heavily on one particular person who assured me that he cared about me, that we were great friends, and that he was going to do whatever he possibly could to help me. No matter what.

It turned out that none of this was actually the case. He was simply using my vulnerabilities to feed his own ego. Thinking that I needed him and that he was the only one who could help me made him feel important, and allowed him to tell himself that he was really a good a person; which in fact he wasn’t.

I think he also quite liked the fact that it got him laid.

But anyway, he bored with supporting me pretty quickly and then simply began ignoring me. It seems that he has completely forgotten all the things that he had promised to do for me. He decided that my illness was a character flaw that he didn’t need burdening his life, and although we still see each other socially he’s barely spoken to me since.

Now that I am feeling stronger I can see that this is a good a thing. His presence in my life had probably been counter productive from the beginning, my condition deteriorated more quickly once I became involved with him, and improved more rapidly upon his exit. But at the time I was exceptionally hurt by it, and I’m definitely still feeling the impact when it comes to trusting people.

PRO: Train Guy. In August I began dating a wonderful guy who I met by chance on a train. We had some lovely times together, and although I eventually decided that I just wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready to have this blossom into a steady relationship he did a lot to help heal my faith in people and to rebuild some of my self-esteem. I kept looking for the catch but it never came, Train Guy is unfailingly sweet and proved to me that there really are some people who want nothing from you but your company and happiness.

CON: My work situation. Strange that my working environment should have had such a detrimental effect on my life and well-being this year, as I took the first three months off as annual leave, was signed off for four months in April, and then returned in July only to be signed off sick again in September and I haven’t been in since.

However, for the few months that I was showing up there the pressure that was put on me was enough to undo almost all the progress that I had made since the beginning of the year. So, I am now involved in a costly, lengthy process to gain some redress for the way that I was treated.

Natalie Portman

PRO: Natalie Portman. Getting Natalie Portman has definitely been one of the highlights of my year, she is absolutely adorable. Cute, furry, soft, playful, petulant. And makes me at the very least get out of bed to feed her every morning. As well as diving into my arms for hugs when she thinks I’m spending too much time online.

Having someone to worry about besides myself has definitely been good for my mental health. And I feel like a proud parent when she does things like work out how to play fetch all by herself, of to run off with one of my shoes when she sees that I’m getting ready to go out.

CON: I’ve been living in limbo. Due partly to my work situation, partly to my ongoing depressions and PTSD, for most of this year my life has been on hold. All the things that I wanted to do, all the progress that I should have made couldn’t happen because I had to sort out my poorly brain first, and then my employment situation. This frustrates me because I turn thirty next year, and I wanted to make the end of my twenties count; to catch up on all the things that I told myself that I would have done by now.

PRO: I discovered that I can write. Well, maybe, at least a little bit. I’ve received some very nice comments about some of my posts that have really helped me to feel better. Most of all my writing has been a useful outlet for some of the things that have been swirling about in my brain and bugging me. And when I made a little bit of money from it that was just the icing on the cake.

And through writing I came to this blog, and through blogging I’ve discovered the blogging community, which is full of wonderful, interesting, clever, and supportive people. I’m so glad that I found you all here.

And a final PRO, because it’s always best to end things on a high note, I’ve been offered a wonderful opportunity, that I wasn’t even looking for to go and work in China, for at least a year, starting in February. Now that’s the sort of exciting adventure that might help me to find my way back to the old me.

Muffins

How to Trim Your Waistline AND Your Carbon Footprint, Without Even Thinking About It

“We kindly remind you that calories are for eating not counting.” ~ from the bottom of a restaurant menu in Oslo.

Dieting doesn’t work. The entire existence of the dieting industry is a testament to that. Take Weight Watchers for example. Weight Watchers has built a multi-million dollar business on the understanding that while you follow their programs you will lose weight, but once you stop with the strict points counting, and the weekly weigh-ins, and the meetings, you will be unable to sustain your ideal weight. So, soon you’ll be back once again, paying them once again, because, well, it worked for you last time didn’t it?

Well, actually, no, it didn’t.

If it had worked you’d never need to go on another diet again.

Dieting the way most people do it is just a money-making scam. This is because the entire mindset of ‘being on a diet’ is counterproductive to maintaining your desired weight.

This is because while they’re ‘on a diet’ the only thing that most people are able to think about for any length of time is food.

They think about the food they can have, and planning their meals to make sure they’re in keeping with the diet plan. They think of all the foods that they’d like to eat but can’t because they’re dieting.

They feel guilty about the brownie that they ate because someone at work baked it for them. It would have but rude not to eat it, but at the same time they feel weak for not sticking to the programme.

They think about how much they really want to be able to eat the thing that their friend is having but can’t because they’re dieting.

And so on.

You might as well admit to it, I know I’m not the only one.

When I listen to the women at work, who spend most of their lives on diet plans, I notice that it also dominates their conversation. They’re always talking about what food they’ve been eating, comparing notes on different dieting regimes, considering what adjustments they should make in their eating patterns for having ‘slipped up’ and eaten a cupcake over the weekend.

And all the while they’re talking about food, they’re thinking about food.

And all the time they’re thinking about food, they’re making their bodies want more food.

Asparagus

Food, food, glorious food.

They’re just setting themselves up for failure.

There’s only one sure-fire way that I’ve found to stick to an eating pattern that allows you to either lose weight or maintain your figure at a size 6, 8, 10, 12* or whatever your ideal is. And that’s to stop thinking about food.

That’s it. That’s all there is too it.

Just don’t think about food.

Just go out and get on with doing something else instead.

And make sure you walk there if it’s at all possible. That’s where reducing your carbon footprint comes in.

For most of my twenties I ate like a horse and a pig combined. I didn’t give a second’s thought to calories or nutritional values. I lived on a diet composed mainly of pasta and pancakes. And I was tiny.

I was also incredibly active. I spent most of my time studying or working. And when I wasn’t doing that I was out and about socialising, travelling, partying, shopping, campaigning, volunteering. I always had something else to be doing.

And while I was absorbed in being busy it never occurred to me to start thinking about cake. Which would only have led to me wanting cake, and then eating cake, and then wanting more cake.

Costa Coffee

Mmmm, cake….

This all changed early last year when I suffered a back injury. I couldn’t stand up to be able cook, so I relied on Domino’s to feed me. At the same time I had to cut down on my activities, and started taking taxis everywhere instead of walking as I would usually have done.

Having all this spare time on my hands didn’t suit me. I need to be doing something. I annoy even myself when I’m bored. But there isn’t really anything to do when you’re immobilised but eat.

So that’s what I did.

And I gained a lot of weight that I’ve been trying to get rid of ever since.

Not because I’m particularly bothered by it, I just thought it would be a whole lot cheaper than having to having to replace all the clothes I no longer fit into.

Now, in my defence, my failure in this endeavour does owe a lot to the mirtazapine that I’ve been taking for most of this year, which has the annoying side effect of making me incredibly hungry most of the time.

But dieting just made me spend even more time thinking about food. It’s completely counter productive.

So if you’re looking to lose some weight my advice instead is this – get busy.

Find yourself a cause, or a hobby, or an interest.

Take a class or offer to coach a kids sports team. Join a book club, take up wine tasting, or teach yourself to play a musical instrument. Start a campaign to raise money for a local cause, start working on your novel, or learn about quantum physics. Go out running, go travelling, or go and sit with some old people in hospital.Visit some art galleries, watch a football match, catch up with some friends. Sign up to a ballroom dancing class, or one on sign language, or painting. Become a part time cake decorator, furniture restorer, or graphic designer.

Do anything that doesn’t have to do with dieting.

And then walk everywhere that isn’t going to take you more than 30-35 minutes to get to.

And, that’s it. You’ll never need go on another diet again.

Probably.

If you take my advice, you'll  be able to eat this...

If you take my advice, you’ll be able to eat this…probably…unless you’re a vegetarian, I suppose…

*I’ve been all of them, also a size 4, and sizes 14 and 16.

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Halloween

Who Am I?

I went to another meeting today, an appeal hearing, to discuss the ongoing saga of my grievance against my employer.

At least I think it was me.

And yet somehow I was the only person in the room that I didn’t recognise.

There was the woman from HR, my manager’s manager, and this strange quiet, diffident, little person who couldn’t quite seem to get her words out.

Some stranger who seems to have taken over my life when I wasn’t looking.

Listening to her speak it seemed wrong that she should be representing me in my workplace. I went into that line of work because the thing that I was best at was words, at speaking and arguing. Because I’m assertive and even somewhat confrontational, and the fields of law and campaigning are the only two places where this is really socially acceptable.

This stranger would be no good at my job.

She likes order and routine. She gets freaked out by sudden changes, crises, and loud people.

I excelled at my job because I was calm under pressure, nothing phased me. Not because I was particularly confident or cool, but because I’d been around long enough to have learned that stress doesn’t resolve anything. That nervousness and worry are contagious, and you don’t earn your client’s trust until you make them feel better, not worse, and reassure them that you are competent to help.

The imposter looks even more out-of-place when she turns up pretending to be me at parties.

I used to be good at parties. I’ve thrown some excellent parties. It was once said of me that I took hardcore to a whole new level and beyond.

I was always the last one to go home because I knew that the most memorable moments don’t happen until the early hours of the morning. The world is different at 4am, events seem more exciting, conversations seem more meaningful.

I watch this usurper when she’s at parties, sitting on her own trying desperately to think of something interesting to say, and I wonder why she bothers. I cannot relate to her or how she came to be in this place. I see her slinking off home, unnoticed, before pumpkin hour and want to scream at what she’s doing to my life.

The time she’s wasting. The friendships and connections that I see slowly slipping away.

I’m trying to resist this. Trying to find to reclaim my life from this person, to see how to rebuild what she’s squandered. But I feel like I’m stuck in a bad film where the heroine is floating around outside her body and needs to find a way back in before it’s too late and her life is lost to her forever.

But I fear it may already be too late.

On those all too rare moments when I am able to overpower the pretender, able to retake my body and live as my own self I see that people do not look at me the same way. She is more a part of their reality now than I am. Some think that I am the aberration.

And then this trepidation becomes yet another obstacle in the way of my recovery.

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