Monthly Archives: March 2012

‘The time has come’, the Walrus said…

I cannot utter the first four words of that sentence without swiftly following them up with the latter three.  It’s like an incomplete statement if I don’t.  Unfortunately that sentence often only comes out to play when there is some decision I need to make or unpleasant action to be undertaken and I am girding my loins to take it.  Procrastinating is the other thing that comes out.

‘Girding the loins’; who does that nowadays? Moving on…

The time has come, some three months after beginning this, to return to life as I once knew it.  Time to leave my sanctuary, my bolt-hole and rejoin the society I have left behind for over quarter of a year.  And I just don’t really want to.  Oh, it’s not fear of what has changed since I have retreated, it’s not even worry about how I will slot back into the place I left behind because that would all too easy to do.  It’s not even concern over whether there is a place for me the way I left things or whether the tide has come in and washed away the footprints I left behind.  No.  My trepidation is due to the fact I know I’m not the same person as when I left. And I have no intention of fitting neatly back into the sunken hole I left behind.

  1. Health

Upon my departure I was sick.  Not in an infectious, illness kind of way no, but more in a withheld, withdrawn, incapable kind of way I can only see now with hindsight.  For two years I have been a shade of me with tranquillised edges.  Now, I can feel again beyond the L5/S1 vertebrae and have found that desire to keep feeling this way for the foreseeable future.

Not only that, this is the most I’ve exercised in a long time and I’m actually enjoying it.  Who knew recovery could be so damn good for you!

  1. Happiness

Having avoided looking at what makes me unhappy – beyond that vertebrae combination – for some time [the only attempted foray into it ending in disaster from some dubious decisions, calling into question my confidence in my own judgement – all in all a depressing and counter-productive exercise], the time to confront what has dropped me lower than the stereotypical Essex girl’s knicker elastic has been more than a little terrifying.  But also incredibly enlightening.  As a wise and trusted friend has told me on more than one occasion, ‘you cannot change other people’s actions, only your own and how you react to others.’  Looking at what makes me unhappy has also made me face what truly makes me happy and how much I have been neglecting the positive in my life without meaning to.  And as Nickelback have taught me, ‘It’s hard to see through bullshit when it’s up above your eyes’.  I was in fact a self-fulfilling prophesy and now I see that, it has fulfilled its last

  1. Selfishness

Mm, to the crux of the matter.  This is something I have forgotten recently and have frequently rearranged my plans to suit anyone else’s intentions rather than my own.  And this is something I have recently decided need an overhaul.

I have always believed that the word ‘selfish’ gets a bad rap.  To be selfish is defined as being ‘concerned primarily with one’s own interests’, which so many people would agree is a horrible way to live and that selfish people alienate people, lose friends and will in general die lonely and alone because they have lived their lives purely for their own gain to the detriment of all others.

However at this juncture I would beg to differ.  At what point did making yourself a priority become an evil to rival the seven deadly sins?  Since when did putting yourself first become behaviour worthy of disgust?  And just when and where is it written that you must, at all times, put the needs and desires of others before yourself in order to avoid committing such an immoral taboo?  Believe me, I am just as anti ‘selfish, self-centred, unrealistically full of their own self-importance twats’ as the next person but to be perfectly frank; if we’re not selfish once in a while who else exactly is going to primarily concerned with one’s own interest?  Because it sure as hell isn’t going to be anyone else is it?

  1. Insight

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  But a little further knowledge is always appreciated.  From time to time I look at myself and wonder if I have it wrong.  I thought I knew me pretty well but time and perspective has made me realise I’ve underestimated a fair few points about me that actually should be considered important.  It doesn’t matter what they are and quite frankly it’s not anyone else’s business but there is never anything wrong with a little extra insight into your own world.

 

I have changed in three months, to the extent when I’m starting to like myself again.  I’m not the person I left behind and I have no intention of return to her sorry shell.  I’m perhaps apprehensive, maybe sometimes anxious, a touch tentative and possibly even a little scared of what is to come.

But the one thing I am not doing, is hiding from it any more.

Advertisements

C-R-Ying out loud. To anyone who’ll listen

Every day there are tragedies.  In the news just this week there have been earthquakes, bombs, wars, death and destruction across the globe but it is often not until it is on our very doorstep that we truly sit up and take notice of what is happening around us.  And sometimes something happens that unites the world in its indignation and grief for the occasion, bringing something amazing back from the jaws of travesty.

This weekend that ‘something’ was Fabrice Muamba.

You must have read or heard somewhere about the horrendous end to the Tottenham Hotspur – Bolton Wanders match on Saturday 17th March.  Just after 41 minutes of the game, the Bolton and former Arsenal player collapsed on the pitch without apparent cause.  It took six medics immediate CPR for over six minutes and the defibrillators to keep Muamba alive until he could be treated in hospital for the attack that has stopped his apparently fit and healthy athlete’s heart.  The latest on this is that he is fortunately now awake and making progress towards recovery but it has unleashed a media storm of epic proportion across the populace, and I’m not talking about the professionals.

Thanks to the open source nature of the internet, the population at large was kept up to date with Muamba’s condition and treatment almost as events were occurring, and the messages flooding Facebook and Twitter were well-informed, collective and most importantly, united in their well wishes toward to the 23-year-old.

With the advances in technology, the shortening of the alleged six degrees and the hunger for connection society feels the need for today, not only do we possess the ability but also the opportunity and the drive to interact as we would not have been able to even 10 years ago.  This ability is so beautifully demonstrated and shown to the very best of its ability when a shock such as the Muamba incident occurs.  A calamity occurring amid the celebrations of St. Patrick’s day, a super Saturday of International rugby and a Welsh Grand Slam, and yet within hours the world is not only aware but also aligned in its thinking.  This power; this ability is something leaders of the past could only have dreamed of inspiring in months of campaigning and yet a tweet or three manages it within the space of an afternoon.  And a busy one at that!

I have often been irritated beyond belief at some of the trends that can be seen flitting across the world-wide web and the sheer banality of the perpetrators behind it. More than once, I’ve cursed the ideas that let the very people who have no sphere of existence beyond that of their avatarian selves, bleat their meaningless drivel about said non-existent life across the ether for all to see.  And I am not averse to offering insult to the miss-spelt, grammatically incorrect, linguistic murderers who seem to find little wrong with their desecration of the English language on a daily basis.  However on occasions such as this, I willingly swallow every opinionated, subjective pedantry I have ever uttered and admit I was wrong.

This is the purpose of open source. The very reason for the campaigns, the arguments, the not-for-profit sites.  Information sharing should not be based on pride or privilege but instead on right.  The right to have the information and the right to make the decision what to do with it.  And that is the greatest power we have; freedom of choice.  Because when you see society respond as it did to the case of Muamba you realise just how much power we have, literally [in the correct use of the word] at our fingertips

It was thanks to the fast and timely actions of the medical personnel available on the pitch side on Saturday that Muamba undoubtedly owes his life for had they not acted as they did, his battle would surely have been lost long before the hospital had even been reached.  Their grasp of the situation and immediate response should be something to be applauded during this shocking time.  What should also be noted is that about 500 people in the UK alone die each year from SADS.  And these people don’t attract Twitter trends.

I have been unfortunate in my life, in that I have known three people die of what has been termed Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, Adult Cot Death, Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome and a host of other names but they all amount to the same end.  A seemingly healthy person, functioning as any ordinary person of their age would, suddenly and at the time, inexplicably stops as though someone has flicked the switch off.  I have seen the destruction and confusion this can leave behind as well as the furiously impotent anguish and experienced the desperate inanity and vile feelings of unjust cruelty myself.  I cannot begin to describe the torrent of powerlessness this loathsome illness can inspire nor would I want to wax lyrical about its base effect.  But from the ashes of destruction can grow something hopeful.

It was a year ago last weekend that the most recent of these, Ben (15), died.  Almost to the day of Muamba’s collapse.  I am not going to tell you all about the joy he was to watch growing up and I’m not going to cry about how hugely unfair his loss is to the world.  Nor am I going to go on about the guilty grief I felt for having only known him clumsily for a short amount of time or the sorrow I felt as I faced the fact I would never get to meet the man I knew he was capable of becoming.  Instead I would ask that you take a moment to find out about the charity working on the solutions rather than just reading about the people affected.  Take the time to read the information and pass it along, gain something from another heartbreak that may not have a celebrity tag but certainly deserves your attention, if only fleetingly.

Bring something back from the brink of destruction, a little knowledge to be used to whatever ends you deem necessary.  Don’t cower in ignorance behind platitudes of denial or fatalism.  Whether public figure or common prol, this disease is a leveler of all men and knowledge is a weapon that can defend us all.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not naive enough to assume that with understanding and information, death itself can be duped, but I am optimistic enough to believe that with every new person who is given the information needed and the choice of how to act and support, the stifling, fearful hold cardiac disease in the young has is diminished just that fraction more.

There’s always something positive to come from the ashes; sometimes you just need the strength to look for it.

Even if you just make a start today, a little information can change the world.  Ben Daniel’s Memorial Fund.  Make it count.


Missing – 1 week

You know that feeling you get when you’ve misplaced something and you don’t quite know what or where?  But as soon as someone mentions it, you feel the thought just ploughs into your head at around 82mph, screeching its apologies for the delay but it got stuck behind your thoughts of dinner and the different choices you would have made had you been in charge of that investigation on Whitechapel last night.  Well, I have quite suddenly been reminded that time is passing and I seem to have procrastinated away an entire week that I thought I still had going spare!

This is horrendous news.

I will soon be forced to exit my sanctuary and return to the real world once more which, in part I think I shall be looking forward to once it needs to become real.  However until it does, I am in no hurry to throw away the very precious time I have for changes, choices, recuperation and relaxation.  There will almost certainly be no other time in my life when this where I can only think about myself and my needs and have no-one else relying on me and it has taken me about two months to appreciate what I have.  Now I have just under a month left to enjoy what I  have and I realised that I have not been making full use of this opportunity.  I am a touch angry at myself.

So, to rectify this I have given myself a stern talking to and decided that I must be more organised and start to make decisions I have been procrastinating over, put in motion plans I have been speculating about and general work the very extremes of my self-indulgence to make this time all about me!

God, that sounds horrible.  But I’ve come to realise that ‘selfish’ is not the swear word I used to think it was.  The truth of the matter is, if you’re not selfish then you lose out.  Because there are few people who will put your own needs and desires before their own.

Now I’m not being melodramatic and turning my back on the cruel world and I certainly don’t intend to change who I am in favour of a self-obsessed, self-centred, base attention seeker.  I know enough of them as it is…  I’m just perhaps more aware of the amount of time I give other people and stupidly, people who barely notice and certainly don’t appreciate the efforts.  As someone told me once, saying no to something is not a negative, it is simply saying yes to something else that is more important to you.  And that’s always a good thing.

So I suppose I haven’t really lost a week, instead, I have used it to do very little indeed.  I made a conscious choice to not get anything productive done and to instead read a little, play a little and gaze into the distance a little.  Other than that I could not tell you what I used my time for.  But that’s ok because I chose to do that.

And in that case I guess this should really be labelled ‘Missing – 1 week.  Just thought I’d let you know.’


Dirty words and backwards glances

Do not talk to me about birthdays.  In my life they have become something of a taboo to me and I don’t enjoy celebrating them.  Not in that fake way people have of saying ‘I hate my birthday’ and then throwing themselves a massive party with on sight admirers/arse-kissers to tell them how amazing they look and they can’t believe their age.  I just plain don’t enjoy them and this one will be no exception.

You see, at some point, in the not too distant future, I shall be approaching a milestone in my life.  It probably won’t seem like much of a one to many of you.  Perhaps you’ve past it and can now look back on it with that wonderful tool of hindsight or maybe it doesn’t or didn’t bother you and you sailed through it with ne’er a backwards glance.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to do that.  In fact when I stop to think about it sometimes I find I lose part of the definition of myself.

For God’s sake, I’m not dying or losing a limb; I’m just turning 30!  But to me thirty is a dirty word.

Ten years ago I was turning 20 and could not be more chuffed about the whole situation.  The 20’s was the age when people take you more seriously as you’re no longer a teenager, the age you stopped getting asked for ID for booze and fags, the age when you got a proper job, had a proper relationship and basically started your ‘proper life’!  In 2002 I was ready to be 20 and looking forward to the ensuing chaos it would bring.  And boy did I bring it.

In the last ten years I have had four relationships, varying in length from eight months to five years, one of which turned into an engagement. [Obviously that did not end in the textbook fashion, moving on…]  I have also lived at ten different addresses, studied three different courses at two different universities and worked in 12 different places, nine of them being pubs or bars.  I have drunk an inordinate amount of alcohol and probably regurgitated several times my own body weight.  I have also gained a degree, a post-graduate diploma, an NVQ, numerous work related qualifications, a great many friends, several new members of my ‘chosen family’ and thankfully only a few enemies – that I am aware of.

All in all, I’ve been rather busy.

But now, this great and awe-inspiring decade is coming to an end and I am finding myself loathed to leave it behind for a number of reasons but the first of which being the most simple; age.

Thirty has always seemed like the first negative big milestone.  Before this everything you reach has a purpose, a landmark to show you how far you have come and how far you still have left to go, but with 30 it feels as though the safety net has been pulled out from under me.  No more child-like excuses or reasons of immaturity or not knowing.  When 30 years of age are attained, life must be signed, sealed and organised because suddenly you’re nothing but an adult.

The funny thing is if I really think about it, I still don’t get taken seriously by those older than me now, I got asked for ID for alcohol less than 4 months ago (the last time I went out drinking) and I am still unaware what it is I want to do with my life.  In this respect I can either be reassured that a few months will not change reality as I know it, or conclude that I have not travelled very far at all in my latest decade.  Trying to go with the former…

Thirty is described as a rite of passage, particularly for women and if you pick up any magazine now it will begin to tell you how 30 is the new 20, 40 is the new 18 and I’m sure sometime soon, about the  new 90 which means you can revert to your old habits of liquid foods and incoherent babble.  Actually, in some cases that is not too far from the truth.

A rite of passage is it?  Really??  That’s what 30 is supposed to be.  Perhaps once upon a time when you were married before 20, kids before 21 and tied to the kitchen sink between every child dropped!  But now in the constantly evolving and revolving society we have, to be old is to be beyond your use, have lived past the sell-by date and to be taking up space that others could exploit more fully.  No longer in the pigeonhole of ‘youth’ but not high enough up to be middle-aged, geriatric, retired or solvent, to be 30 is to be relegated to the back of the shelf and left there to fester because it is no longer necessary for society to care what it is you’re doing; you’re on your own.

I am daunted by the prospect of looking back at my life and seeing what I haven’t yet done and why it has not come to fruition only to be greeted with a plethora of my own mistakes and self-imposed misfortunes.  I am also unwilling to share these thoughts with anyone ‘real’ because they would surely try and persuade me otherwise and there is only one thing worse than having to face up to all the dumb-ass things you’ve done that have led you to this very point you’re not all that keen on standing on.  And that’s having an audience while you do it.

So instead, you get my neuroses and my near-hysterical ramblings as I fret about the looming date which is in point of fact, a date.  A day like any other, one that I will to all intents and purposes try to ignore as I do most years and will pass with no more pomp and fanfare than those surrounding it.  In my mind thought it may be a millstone rather than a mile, it will not be a culmination of my failures and foibles; a buffet spread from my silly mistakes and bad choices made at an age when I was too adolescent to spot them and too shallow to care.  It will be just a day, shared with others and liable to pass whether I wish to celebrate its coming or hide from its looming presence.  And yet, even knowing all of this, I cannot shake the feeling that it is a turning point and should be treated as such.

I have lived my life up until this point with a carefree abandon that has amounted to very little to show but a great deal to remember.  I have memories I will treasure forever and those that I wish I could tear out of my mind but instead will look and learn from, knowing I couldn’t be who I am now without them.  I may be young in some eyes but I am old in others and right now I am in-between decades; not quite finished with one, just not ready to step onto the next.  But perhaps that is the point.  Without the use of these landmarks, where would be the perspective of knowledge and the hindsight to see how well you really did?

Perhaps I have been looking at 30 all wrong and actually it is not a milestone to pass, but one to look back on and see in the distance; a signpost to the way forward of the person I am still to become.

And yet even knowing all of this to be a distinct possibility I cannot shake the feeling that life is creeping up behind me, ready to jump out with wrinkles, cardigans and bitter envy of the youth as well as contemptible intolerance of their unappreciative nature of what they possess.  I think I would do ‘old’ well provided I could do it my own way and in my own specific style.  But not now.  Because 30 is not old; it’s not even half way there!

Now all I need is to understand that is the case and let time flow on by; once a second, every second as it has been doing for millennia, and will continue to do so long after I have been forgotten.  And perhaps just a gentle reminder once in a while that, milestones are important yes, but also personal.  What one person celebrates, another may dismiss as wholly unimportant.  So if I choose to throw a mental tantrum about something I can no more affect than the movement of the Earth, then I only have myself to blame.

All I can affect are my own actions and emotions and maybe, just maybe, if I can get those under control, I can sail through this transition smoothly with the wind at my back.  Because it’s going to happen, whether I’m ready or not.

So, enough moping and maudling, it’s time to start looking forwards and brushing away the needless mind blocks I have subconsciously been erecting.  Time to start planning for a new decade’s memories with optimism, even if I may need subtle reminders of it now and again…

Besides, if this next decade is anything like the last one, now may be the time to start putting up the buffers.  Because they’re sure as hell going to know about it once I’ve arrived.


Security Servicing

Secrets are as essential to life as breathing, love, sex, cider and caffeine the morning after the night before – not necessarily in that order – don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise. However, I am talking about the kind that you keep to yourself because it’s your business, or the sort that saves someone the horrendous feelings of inadequacy because they don’t need to know what someone else thought of their dress sense after the fact as examples. This kind keeps the world spinning on its slightly dysfunctional axis.

The ‘I-had-an-unhappy-childhood-right-up-until-I-set-fire-to-the-family-home-with-all-the-occupants-inside’ or ‘I’m-shagging-your-sister-behind-your-back’ kind definitely do not make the world go round. More, come to a grinding halt, spitting out nuts and bolts along the way.

So let’s stick to the first kind for the purposes of this blog.

I am sure we all have a stalwart companion to whom you could disclose your darkest secrets without even a flicker of fear that they could be breached. However the fact of knowing someone elses secrets is addictive and that is why we will all also someone who cannot keep a secret for love nor money but who always seems to get the best gossip. And this is because there is something liberating in revealing secrets.

It’s like stepping out of the carefully created public mask and revealing just a flash of the hidden person underneath that only a few people are privileged to see. Basically I think I’m accidentally comparing it to streaking. Yeah, streaking.

So on that note I fancied a quick flash in the pan myself (if you will) and here are a few things I don’t think many people know at all.

  • Soft touch

I may well be the world’s most cantankerous waker-uperer and possibly the least sympathetic person I know to common or garden problems brought on by self-inflicted stupidity in my expert opinion [see previous post for exceptions] but I have a small hidden part of me that I keep deeply buried and has had little reason to surface recently that adores romance.

Oh yes, out loud I may scoff and rely on practicalities over emotion, find the gift of flowers inconvenient because I kill the damn things within days and scare off grown men when they don’t behave while drunk. But underneath I harbour a guilty passion for surprises, gestures and being swept off my feet.

The majority of the time I would probably find it incredibly annoying and untimely but once in a while, I would like to be swept away in something other than a wave of crashing banal reality.

  • Girly Girl

Jeans and a hoodie are my staple weekend wear and they are the clothes I am the most comfortable in which is important when the weekends are mostly spent at one rugby club or another, either working or watching.  This also suits the fact I was graced with rugby playing legs and horse rider’s arse.  I am somewhat of a self-confessed low maintenance gal but on occasion I like to get dressed up to the nines, fling on some bling and sparkle in the room rather than fading into the background as all good staff can.  I actually like one or two dresses!

  • Wine not

I am not averse to quaffing wine with dinner, I have a glass with the girls on nights in or out and when visiting friends for a housewarming or dinner party I always come armed with a bottle.  Its only polite isn’t it?

Except for the fact that I don’t like wine!

I’ve been told I will grow into it, it’s something that needs to be cultivated, different palates prefer different tastes; I just need to find mine and a whole host of other ridiculous things that all amount to the same idea.  I’m being given different excuses to put something in my mouth I don’t like and actually, I already know isn’t that good for me!

In this respect, I think I should apply the same logic to wine drinking as I do to oral sex.   If I don’t like it, don’t expect me to do anything with it except politely decline.  [Added onto that could of course be if you insist then you have to be ready to accept the fact I may well spit it back in your face but perhaps that’s taking the imagery too far…]

If I’m going to go down with liver disease and chronic cirrhosis then it’s going to be with a drink I actually like. Bring on the cider!

  • Solidity

I have been told by several people in the last couple of years, I come across as hard.  I think this is almost something I deliberately project at times so no-one can see if I’m feeling weak or vulnerable but possibly I have done this a little too well!  I like my cover of hardness; it’s soothing to me to know that people think they can’t get in if I don’t want them to, even if I know that may not be strictly true.

Strictly true?  That’s pushing the point a bit!  I over think, over analyse and over complicate things in my head before they’ve even got as far as far as the vocal chords but fortunately, a few years of practise has taught me the ‘think-it-don’t-say-it’ school of working and I have mostly perfected the ability to not look like I’m chewing a wasp when someone tells me something I don’t want to hear or when I feel something other than ‘fine’.  I think I need to reign in my reigning in on this particular subject but it’s hard to break a habit; especially one you’ve adopted deliberately.

There!  I almost feel a catharsis coming over me now I have laid bare my inner most feeling and desires…  Ok perhaps not but that’s about as much secrecy as I think I’m going to disclose right now and who know?  What I think of me may not be the opinion everyone else shares but I’d like to think I know myself well enough to be right.  If I were an onion and they were simply parts of the brown outer layers, it’d still be a step closer to the core.

I guess what I’ve been thinking is that people need secrets.  They keep the world spinning and the pages turning, without them the relationships we make would take no discovery and the paths we tread would be paved with monotony.

But it’s always worth remembering that just as you guard your secrets, everyone else has their own, and that perhaps sometimes all you see is not all there is to be seen.  Just because someone allows you to peek between their pages doesn’t give you the right to flick to the end.  You take all the fun out of the journey and ultimately ruin a good story.

A word of warning to those hell-bent on uncovering the truth no matter why it was hidden, be it physical, practical, emotion or literal.  Secrets are exciting to discover, but once they’re out there, there’s no putting them back.  When you get through all the layers of the onion, ultimately all you have is a handful of onion layers and eyes full of tears.


Expanding you my sympathies

I am frugal with my feelings at best; stingy with my sympathy and definitely a firm believer in tough love.  I don’t melt at the sight of babies and I do not think Romeo and Juliet were star-crossed lovers.  In fact I think if the stupid bastard had made a damn decision in the first place and stuck with it without resorting to the 16 Century equivalent of throwing his toys out the pram, the whole story would have been nothing more than kids in the playground!  Wouldn’t have sold so many copies mind…

However, despite the fact I have a highly developed idea of what requires my sympathetic input and what is merely a cry for attention that will inevitably only result in my contempt, I seem to have an over-developed sense of empathy.  For those of you that aren’t aware, it goes as follows:

Sympathy – what you feel for someone who is less fortunate than you as an outsider.  To feel bad for, or in some cases; pity.

Empathy – what you feel for someone who is experiencing a (usually bad) feeling/situation and identifying with their pain.  To consciously or unconsciously take on the pain of others.

Before we go any further, I am by no means describing myself as an empath.  I am not something out of a science fiction novel or a fantasy land.  I just seem to have a highly developed and incredibly annoying habit of looking at all sides of things and feeling anguish for the person who comes out on the bottom.  I actually find books with miserable parts in painful to read and they’re fictional characters for goodness sake!

Take ‘Harry Potter’ for example [spoilers]. After seven years of following their exploits and growing with them as they overcome physical and emotional challenges, the final battle ensues.  When Voldemort is dead and the Deatheaters at least subdued for the time, the book skips to 19 years in the future when Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione are grown up with families of their own.  Now I adore an ending like that, which wraps up the characters and brings them through, perhaps not unscathed but definitely alive.  And yet here was I almost in tears wondering how George was, whether he had been able to survive without Fred and what had happened to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.  I adored that series but I could not re-read it again for over a year until I had come to terms with the fact Fred would die and George would be left alone.  I felt physically sick!

I have found this particular phenomenon also occurring in day to day life, mostly when I could really do without it.  Such as trying to be angry at someone who has done something incredibly shitty to me, only to find myself not wanting to exact revenge or payback because of how miserable it would make them feel.  I’m sure I never used to be like this, did I?

Good God, this is not what I need to expect along with the rest of the aging process is it?  If so, I refuse and will stop this moment!

I am all for understanding both sides of an argument and taking a balanced view of things but when the balance I take tend to sway in the favour of anyone who is not me, no matter who they are and what they have done, I start to feel that things are going a little far.  Selfish has somehow become a dirty word and I shouldn’t need to feel guilt for putting myself first, no matter that someone else may feel bad when I am protecting my own interests first for a change.

So why do I feel so bad about considering doing it?  In the words of Jim Carey; I hold myself in contempt!


Maria V. Snyder: A return I was so much waiting for I decided to review it.

Yep, i know.  So far I’ve not been a big reviewer of… well, anything!  But this changed over Christmas when Maria Snyder’s latest book came out.  After the previous two sci-fi ones which were really not my cup of tea I’m afraid I was to say the least, a little on edge.  So I thought I would share with you my thoughts on the latest of her nine books to date.

A Touch of Power (An Avry Kazan Novel) by Maria V Snyder  

A Touch of Power - Maria V. Snyder

Having read Maria V. Snyder’s Yelana Zaltana series in 2009 and following it eagerly with her next two series as soon as they became available, I was looking forward to the latest novel with something akin to fearful apprehension.  It wasn’t that the second two series hadn’t been good; it’s just that her first had set a bench mark and the rest had unfortunately fallen a little short.  It was with this in mind that I started the first of the Avry Kazan novels.

In the land of the 15 Realms, A Touch of Power tells the story of healer, Avry Kazan, three years after the man-made plague has decimated the population.  It has left the few remaining healers shouldering the responsibility for starting the atrocity, fearful of discovery and scattered.  Avry’s story begins with her dilemma between the urge to help those who need her and her desire to survive.  Choosing to help the people who condemn her, she is sentenced to death and it is only because of her rescue by the fiery Kerrick and his band of unlikely champions that Avry is saved.  However, soon after the daring escape Avry is given another choice; return to her life on the run with no end in sight but that at the hands of the people who hold her responsible, or help Kerrick and his friends save a Prince from death, a man said to be able to unite the lands and save the people from the tyranny of others.  Not one to draw away from duty, the choice should be simple but for two matters.  Firstly Avry knows that to heal the prince she must give up her own life for his and secondly, she is also one of the only people left who knows that the prince might just be the one who condemned the worlds to the plague from the start.

From the moment I opened the pages and submerged myself into the 15 realms I found the book almost impossible to put down.  The slowly building story wraps itself around you, drawing you deep into its intricate characters and beautifully described lands as a Death Lily would into its exotic and often fatal clasp.  The world is complex and the lands numerous but Snyder using her flowing style and magic to introduce each new piece as a part of the elaborate whole.  It is this creation of a land that not only invites the reader in, but gives them a place to be in it and see the story unfold from the very midst of the action.  The characters emerging from the land add colour and vibrancy to a single story thread comprising a recipe of every individual tale.  There are those who take up less back story but by the middle of the book, their individual characters are still leaving you rooting for their survival throughout the series.

Snyder’s skilful style tempers the sometimes abrasive traits of the main characters with those of supporting roles that gradually come to the fore.  It is a difficult balance to achieve but she has managed this throughout the story with a balance of, not good and evil, but good intentions and intentions for the greater good.

It seems as though Snyder has used all her previous series to work out the best parts to use in this first book.  There are similarities in her heroine’s traits of intelligence, skill and power behind the scenes.  Of course mixed in there must be a stubborn streak and tenacity to execute the equal parts daring and dangerous plan, as well as a self-sacrificing nature.  However, Avry breaks from the mould by also being susceptible to seduction in more ways than one and her capitulation at points enhances the tension of the narrative.

A speciality of all the nine books written by Maria Snyder is the development of the romance throughout the narrative, which is complimented by the appearance of the initially seen archetypal anti-hero.  In addition to the classic situation of not noticing what is right before your eyes, this style of romance is the catalyst for a slowly igniting, but once lit, passionate romance that flows in harmony with the unfolding plot lines.  The individuality of the characters makes this romance their own and though the similarities are definitely there, when it works this well; why on earth change it?

A Touch of Power was a long awaited return to fantasy for Snyder and this book shows why this will to my mind, always be her forte.  For me, the worst part of the book is knowing it took me less than two days to finish and now I have two years to wait to read the next instalment.  Which as bad points go, will by no means stop me recommending this to fantasy readers everywhere and re-reading it several times while I await 2013 for Snyder’s next offering with fearless anticipation.