Monday, May 31, 2010

Rambling of the Sleepless (Part 2: Belonging)

So I'd been hoping to spare you all a second horrific blog entry, but insomnia it seems, has rallied against me. Perhaps I should amend that, because it's not so much insomnia tonight as it is the fact that I was murderously hungover all of yesterday and thus lolled around in bed until around 4pm and am now, as a result of that an the thought-encouraging events of the day, unable to sleep. I'm prepped for sleep, in my comfy pjs, logged into Second Life in our beautiful Clan gardens, my delightful SL partner snoring away in my ear (with my mic muted, and headphones volume down), and yet somehow...sleep has decided to vacate the building. There was a patch there, around 1am where it had seemed inevitable, to doze off and fall asleep, but that seems to have failed. Surprise anyone? In favour of thought, sleep has gone hiking.

I'm interested in the way my brain choses things to think about. Tonight aside, it tends to drift back and forth between things, touching on one thing before fading to the next. Sometimes they're totally unassociated ideas, sometimes they're linked. I imagine there's some sort of pattern of stimuli that encourages each thought to take its place. Wonder what that pattern would look like. Probably squiggly and incomprehensible to anyone except neurologists who have also made a thorough study of psychology and philosophy. What kind of degree would you call that anyways? Doctorate of Uber Brainnessity!

Okay, V, you're being silly now. Seriously. 

Tonight's brain game is circulating the concept of 'belonging'.
belong Look up 
belong at
mid-14c., "to go along with, relate to," from be- intensive prefix, + O.E. langian "pertain to, to go along with." Sense of "to be the property of" first recorded late 14c. Related to M.Du. belanghen, Du. belangen, Ger. belangen. Replaced earlier O.E. gelang, with completive prefix ge-.
I said somewhere in a tweet once that I thought it would be grand to have some sort of sense of patriotism towards one's land of birth, albeit simply out of some sort of sense of 'This is where I belong''.I meant that in earnest, it is nice, for anyone, to have a sense being a part of something else. You see it all the time in religion, with patriotism, clubs, families, even genders - I remember in primary school, we had a 'girls team' that had 'fights' with the 'boys team' during lunch time, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't just an isolated scenario. 

What strikes me as interesting is that we seek to belong to things, even if its only a sense of belonging in our own minds. It's like acceptance, only more fundamental, and can obviously be very individual. Let me rephrase that thought: a person wants others to accept them, but a person wants to belong to something/someone. The former is extroverted, while the latter far more self reflective. Make any sense?

What I find interesting from my etymological quote thingy from up there is the 'Related to...' bit. In Dutch, the word 'belangen', is best translated to 'longing' or, less strongly, 'to desire for something'. That in itself I think enhances an understanding of the connotational meaning behind 'belong', incorporating some sort of psychological meaning in the word derived from its origins.

Okay, V, admit it, you've lost your train of thought.

I suppose it comes down to the fact that humans are social creatures by nature, we like company, I suppose you could go so far as to say that we even need it. Even the most anti-social of us - and yes, I have bouts of sever anti-social behaviour, I know - need company every now and then, even if it's just a single person we can shout at for a while. Maybe it gives us the sense of belonging that we need? I have no idea, and maybe I'm completely off the mark, I'm not a good student of people, who continually surprise me, one way or the other, much in the same way that I'm continually surprised what people can weather, emotionally and physically, and come out on top of. People are weird, but they're also kind of neat. 

So if we're all striving to 'belong' to whatever or however or whoever, where does that leave those of us who are still in the drifting stages of our lives? Are we suppose to keep drifting until we hit something we fancy, or are we suppose to already have worked that part out, or maybe we just belong to the group of drifty people, all equally lost, some comfortable some not.

This is making my brain spin. I think I'd better leave it at that before I become more babbly and less thinky.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

More Soup!

I can't remember which cookbook this one came from, but it's awesome - 'specially for winter.

Potato & Leek Soup


60 g butter, 1 large onion, 2 large leeks,

750 g potatoes (cut into 1.5 cm cubes),

1/3 cup oats, 2 cloves garlic,

2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups milk, ground pepper, nutmeg, chopped chives for garnish (if you want). It's best to use waxy potatoes (like kennebecs) for soups & stews.


Melt the butter in a large pan, cook onions and leek til they're transparent. Add the potatoes & cook til they're golden brown. This can take ages, especially if you don't have a really large pan, so if it's irritating, just soften the spuds up a bit. Stir through the oats & cook for another minute or so; add the garlic & cook for another minute. Once you've softened the potatoes, make sure the pan isn't so hot that the oats & garlic burn, since that tastes awful.

Reduce the heat a little more, stir in the stock & milk. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the veggies are well & truly tender. Once it's cooked, season to taste with pepper & plenty of nutmeg; garnish with chopped chives to serve.

This is a chunky soup, so no blending (yay)! If you feel like adding bacon or ham chunks, just stick 'em in when you add the oats. There is no better home-food-y flavour combination than leek, potato & pig. It also works fine with low-fat milk or soymilk, and you can soften the onion & leeks in oil rather than butter if you want.

I tend to mix up the amounts of this a fair bit - when you add the oats, you make a porridge-y base for the soup, and I tend to put in more than the recipe calls for, 'cause I like the flavour. Do yourself a favour & use proper rolled oats for this, not the chopped up minute microwave shit. I once forgot to put the potatoes in, and it worked out well, so if you've got some anti-potato philistines you need to feed, it's very adaptable. This always gets eaten pretty quickly here, so I've never frozen it - I'm not sure how the texture of the potato chunks would be, post-freezing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random Pretty

Rambling of the Sleepless

Thought 1: Creativity is fickle. I would really like to know why mine kicks in around 4am every morning, irregardless of whether I'm sleeping like a baby, sleeping restless, wide-awake, or just woke up. Tis unfair, I declare, miserably unfair. Tonight for example, I've been poking - quite diligently - at the next installment for Valerian Night, my flash fiction blog, but the words failed me constantly; I just couldn't work out what to write. The words were dead, I tell ya! Yet now, if I sat down, opened a document, I could write, and I know I could write what I needed to write: what I want it to say. Standing in front of my bookshelf, trying to decide what to read and finally deciding upon attempting to reread Gathering Storm, I took two steps back to my room when I realised that I didn't want to read. Instead, I wanted to write. The next thought that popped up in my head was: that's lame, I should go to back to bed.

Thought 2: The other thing that puzzles me is this whole sleep thing. Apparently we need it, we can catch up on it, but we can't stock up on it? You'd think with the amount I've been sleeping these past couple of weeks that I'd be all for being able to stay awake, maybe pull an all-nighter here and there.

Thought 3: On the cute side of all things, both the cats are on my bed again, it seems to be their fave place to be. Hopefully they'll share that corner of the blanket. Signet is heavy.

Thought 4: I wish I really could put my mind in a hatbox at night, that way it wouldn't pester me while I was trying to sleep. Seriously, thinking can really suck. You're lying there, minding - ignore the pun - your own business when suddenly WHAM! THOUGHT! and you can count sleep derailed because you're thinking about how neat it would if XYZ, or how shiny it would be if ABC, or whatever.

Thought 5: ...this was a bad idea for a blog entry, even if it was random ramble...


Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Things we say...part 26

V: Don't be ridiculous, I'm a perfectly balanced individual!
L: Somewhere a kitten died for that lie.
V: Oh noes! If I clap my hands loud enough will it come back to life?!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Random Pretty

Oh god what a day. So damn TIRED.

The Things we say...part 25

D: Unless they're cookbooks, books about babies freak me out.

I think this one speaks for itself, don't you?


Silver Linings

You ever get that feeling? You know, the one that makes you think you've hit the biggest obstacle in your life and you've got no inkling on how to tackle it? It's a lot like despair, if you had to give it a name. The deep, cold, dark despair that sucker punches you in the stomach with just thatuch extra oomph right after the silent numbness of shock has vacated your nervous system. All you can think is "Let it be before, take back this knowledge, this experience; let it be when everything was right".

We've all faced this, in some form or another, let's be honest, and if you haven't, you're either living lucky, not doing something right, or you've got it coming at you with extra extra oomph. It's the heartbreak of a breakup, the diagnosis of a incurable illness, the F you got on your math test, or the car accident you shouldn't have had. It's the decisions you've made, the path you've ended up on, by whatever means, fair or foul: if you're human, probably a bit of both. Whether it's a small thing or something that literally hold lives in the balance, the emotion is still there and one thing is universally true, irregardless of faith, ideology, class, or race: IT F***ING SUCKS. I totally dare anyone to disagree with me.

The question that really makes the difference though, is what you're going to do next. Sure, your gut's wrenched, eyes cried out of your skull, you've eaten a tub full of ice cream, ranted at someone, possibly written a really long letter (or hell, a blog entry maybe), set fire to photos, had a few too many drinks, etc. so forth and so on... That's great. Now what? In case  you hadn't noticed, that feeling is still there, and it's not going to go away on a hurry. You can't fix it by staying in the moment, can you? Or looking back longingly at yesterday thinking "Damn, they was an awesome day, I cans has plez?". It just won't fix that way. So what can you do? Look forward, when you can bare it, look ahead; think things through. Even the most horrid things give way somewhere; always a silver lining, if you choose to search for the right angle.

Optimism is rare enough to find in this world, but it's there alright, tucked away between cynicism and self-preservation. Sure, that thought killing pain won't go away, not right away, but it does help to remember that while time may not heal all wounds, if you'll let it, it will give you respite in form of a lighter perspective.

Just some thoughts from your friendly (sleepless) optimist.


Monday, May 3, 2010

And now, for your edification and entertainment:

It's very early in the morning, 'cause I had an epic nap today. Yesterday. Whatever. Anyway. It's very early, like I said, and since I don't feel like doing anything else, and I've been pretty awful with the posting thing lately, here's some more flash fiction - another 300 word adventure for you all.

My goal with these pieces is not to write earth-shattering literature, but to present what I think of as 'relationship set-pieces' in a child's voice. Let me know how I'm doing, please!


There was a mouse in the trap when I got up today. I let it out.

Nanna uses a crust of bread with peanutbutter on in the traps. They’re the kind that catch the mouse in a box, not the kind with the arm that slams down. Nanna says they’re more humane, but I don’t know why she thinks that. The mouse dies anyway.

She’d be pretty angry if she knew I let the mice out. I don’t like that she catches them; we keep all the food in containers anyway, so I don’t think she needs to set the traps, really. Nanna says it’s not healthy to have mice living inside, but we have a pet mouse at school, and she says it’s ok if I play with him, as long as I wash my hands after. Nobody touches the mice at home, so I don’t see how they hurt anyone.

I got in trouble at school when I told Beth that grownups catch mice to kill them. Her Daddy told her that they got sent to pet stores. She cried when I told her that mostly people drown them. Missus Armstrong said I shouldn’t ever talk about things being dead, ‘cause it might upset people. But our science project was to make a bug-catcher, and then use it to catch all kinds of bugs. We kept the really interesting ones, and a man from the museum showed us how to put them in jars so we could keep them. They’re on a shelf in the hallway outside our classroom, and we showed them in Assembly last week. Nobody gets upset about them being dead, not even Beth. I asked Missus Armstrong, but she said not to talk about dead things, ever, and that it was time for lunch.