On your siblings having kids

There will come an odd occasion when your cherished siblings will spawn.
You will always remember as quick to snitch to mummy when you stole the last cookie, for pinching your thighs under the dinner table, and stealing your glitziest mini skirt to take to a thirteen year olds slumber party. You’ll know quite how poor their judgement can sometimes be, for leaping head first into the stream in the heat of summer and ending up being hauled out with a cracked open skull, poking at bees nests, or bringing greasy haired rocker boys home from high school under mother’s disapproving gaze. You may know all this, and you can certainly just hope that they’ll bring a little more judgement into play when it comes to raising their own.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all my siblings. I now also adore all my little nieces and nephews (although I haven’t actually come face to face with one of them, beyond Skype, as he lives on the other side of the world). It is just terribly hard to imagine them as parents. I am personally semi blessed & half cursed in being surrounded with considerably older half-siblings. On one hand they are notably wiser and there were far fewer skirmishes when we did live together, growing up. On the other hand, it is slightly similar to having a posse of parents. There’s much less giggling in cahoots over having hidden daddy’s car keys, or gossiping over illicit teenage acts. Any talk of teenage crime receives a multitude of stern stares from across the dinner table.

Or at least it was. My brother was the first to bear his little boy (not physically bear that is, not quite a natural phenomenon). Seeing him with a mini-him did confirm quite what a wonderful father he is, and will be. It’s all the teasing of play of my childhood, but on a minimalist level with plenty of cuddles and care. Believe it or not, your siblings can actually change a nappy, even if they protested furiously at even clearing out the dishwasher, or cleaning up cat sick hidden in the study. My sister quickly followed suit with her daughter, even though we’re still at the stage of partially swapping and sharing clothes. Having just spent the Christmas period with my sister, her hubby and newborn, I was exposed again to just how tender my siblings can be. Clearly getting pregnant flips some sort of serious switch in the brain – or maybe they just save the brutal tormenting and ‘typewriter’ (which involves being pinned to the floor and repeatedly jabbed on the chest, courteously of my brother) for me nowadays.

Baby Amara

Christmas 2015-5

New year new me.

I’m not huge on completely revamping yourself and all your attributes on the yearly basis. I don’t think cracking open the champers come midnight, and disillusioning yourself that come tomorrow you’ll have gained the title of office sweetheart, the nicest neighbour on the block, or that one person unable to walk past a homeless person without sparing a penny and countless kind words. Beyond niceness (I’m not wholly sure if that is indeed a word), you’re unlikely to stick to a diet and fitness overhaul if you catapult yourself into an unbearable regime come the morning of the first, when your blood stream is no doubt still frazzled by the myriad of vodka shots you necked the night before. New year, for me, is more of an occasion to step back and appreciate the less thought of achievements of the year before.

Unfortunately my new years resolution of 2015 (to stop biting my fingernails) wasn’t quite achieved and will also stand as this years resolution. I’m hoping that by 2017 I’ll have pretty talons, and will spend less time in between gym sets furiously gnawing at my fingers. It is rather grubby, I’ve realised, considering all the other sweaty mits that have been plastered over bars, dumbbells and machines. Perhaps come 2017 I won’t have to study English, and could throw myself into the profession of a hand model for earning my millions.

Beyond quitting the un-quittable, and possibly most revolting habit I have, I’m hoping to move in short term to the local library and throw myself head first into studying for the next half year, until exam season rolls around. Perhaps I should have requested a blow up camping set and stove for Christmas as opposed to a never-ending supply of socks. I may indeed end up the infamous yeti-like creature of Exeter libraries, heavily bearded and rarely sighted, creeping in between book cases. (Unfortunately this is also unlikely as my sister continues to unknowingly fund my Netflix subscription, and evenings are far better spent engrossed in documentaries, head over heels at the sound of David Attenborough’s soothing voice educating me on the development of geodes).

Last but not least, having undergone another tragic sober night as a result of my commitment to Roaccutane, my new years ended in bed with a good helping of peanut butter and gogglebox. Therefore I was ripe and ready for an early morning gym excursion (early also taken lightly, as yet another resolution is sadly going to be waking up pre-lunchtime, upon returning to my studies). I haven’t set any formal weight targets since I’m not overly education on realistic increments over the next year (100kg deadlift does however seem an attractive prospect). Despite this I’m keen to continue improving my lifts and physique, and bring on all sorts of gains over the next year. Until then, I will continue to embarrass myself and everyone else in the vicinity – or rather attract shame from the onlookers – for my wanton gym selfies and sour pout.

Enjoy my first for 2016, and may you all have a fabulous year no matter how large or small your resolutions!

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It’s not fun being ill anymore

I used to love skiving off school for a week. Although conventionally shy and never the girl with hairbrush in hand, belting out Beyonce lyrics at pre-drinks, I excelled in the dramatic field when it came to feigning sickness. I would flounder from sofa to sofa, quivering with the unidentifiable flu and moaning softly every so often for the full effect. If anyone asked me if I was feeling well enough to return to school for the afternoon, I would just peer out from under the covers with quivering eyelids to communicate what a ludicrous idea that was. By Friday lunchtime I would have miraculously recovered and be fit and ready for any year 7 sleepovers or play dates gracing the weekend.

Unfortunately long term bouts of sickness and setting up semi permanent residence on the couch are no longer feasible. Life seems slightly more exciting than continuous episodes of Home & Away, or Antiques Roadshow (god bless daytime television). There’s also the matter of A Levels, and general life. So, come Sunday night I was fairly perturbed to be feeling ill. By Monday this had worsened, and I decided to take myself off to A&E since there was a murmured mention of appendix pain being isolated solely to the right of the stomach. I’ve been to A&E twice before and it’s always hideously exciting, sat on a squeaky plastic chair getting to ogle various degrees of fascinating injuries in the waiting room. On the first occasion, I snapped a glowstick and got an interesting amount of glow in the dark liquid in my eye (being quite young, I still can’t fully remember if I did this on purpose, to see if my eyes would glow in the dark, or if it was an honest mistake). On the second occasion I slit open my finger on a tin of cat food and the sight of flesh made me a little weak at the knees. This time I did have to drive myself, the true early stages of committed adulting starting to arise. However no one was fully pleased to see me as I wasn’t in any way near expiry. I got a tap on the wrist for taking the wrong sort of medication, asked pleasantly what I had eaten for lunch, reminded to drink enough water and take some fresh exercise. All and well I spent the rest of the evening under the covers bemoaning life and scrolling instagram continuously, hoping I would sleep off my pain. The next day followed suit, and come the following I dropped back in to the doctors to have some bloods taken.

I suppose I’m every doctors worst nightmare – before coming into your office I have scrolled WebMD thoroughly, and diagnosed myself with at least 5 possible illnesses, alongside covering all varying degrees of treatment and efficiency. My best true diagnosis to date was coming in to tell the doctor I had moo-co-co-lees. She looked at me a little perplexed, until I showed her my lips whereby I was left a little red faced when told that my pronunciation from online readings didn’t quite fit mew-co-seals, or rather mucoceles.

Anyway feeling considerably better after my GP visit I duly headed to the gym haven the next day, necked my preworkout and set about my deadlifts to receive a call stating that I may indeed have appendicitis. This mixed with a questionable amount of caffeine was indeed an interesting combination. Followed by my third doctors visit to the week, I was sat pleasantly in the waiting room when a nurse came, smiling cheerfully and attempted to insert a canula into my arm as routine procedure. This wasn’t quite what I had expected, having been told by my GP that it would just be a quick scan to make sure it wasn’t appendicitis (the quick scan turned out also to be not quite so quick, as there was a flurried explanation of cameras going into all sorts of holes). As it turned out I don’t have appendicitis (curse you WebMD), quite thankfully as I was nowhere near as sick as the poor people in the ward. I also avoided both scan and canula and left with only a slightly sore vein from another blood test.

Either way, I’m certainly quite thankful not to be plagued with appendicitis or anything more serious and have learned a lesson as not to glue myself to online self diagnoses at the slight ache or ailment.

(Once a hypochondriac always a hypochondriac).

On having a surname that no one can pronounce.

Although people have tried, bless them.


WEE-AY-ELD?
WADDLE?
WAY-EL-DA?

My personal favourite was something along the lines of ‘valkyrie’ at a poetry reading. My cheeks may have risen to an odd shade of scarlet.

I’ve been asked where I originate from (really the UK), and stopped at border controls (although I feel like this may be more due to my passport photo, in which I look vaguely like a pre pubescent six year old boy with a neat pudding bowl crop).
One of the classic moments was during a school register, with Miss calling out each of our names one by one, calling everyone’s first name and their surname. Of course she reached my name in the list and paused for a moment, gave me a quick glance, and left it at Liv. Sometimes it is clearly better to act blasé and breeze over it than give out an awkward mouthful.

I know plenty of other people experience the same issue, tricky surnames aren’t a rare occurrence. I think mine maybe does climb a little higher than the others, mainly as no one (not even myself) seems to be wholly sure how it is spelt. The original surname includes the German letter A-Umlaut – Ä. Those pesky little dots cause a whole lot of trouble, through the pronunciation, which differs from the standard A to a more stringent AY. The struggle arises when moving across continents, between countries that don’t fully share the same alphabet. The question of how my German surname is translated is a rather tricky one. Some of my cousins have dropped half the lettering anyway for a nice well rounded Wald. The Ä can traditionally be subbed in with AE in English, for the same sort of sound. However the pairing of these two vowels does seem to be difficult for some to comprehend. Therefore my parents did both occasionally drop even the E for just plain old Walde – as it states on all my credit cards and passports. Unfortunately I’ve been programmed to sign my surname WAELDE, which has resulted in a few sticky situations at visa inspections when travelling, when I’m unable to even sign my own name correctly.
That being said, there isn’t a whole lot that I can do now. Plus my go-to running dad joke involves raising a quizzical eyebrow when asked how to pronounce my surname. The waggish response of ‘it’s like WELL-DONE. Without the UN’, would surely go amiss.

I’m just going to continue on my hunt to marry a man whose surname begins with a G.

Who wouldn’t want their initials to be O-M-G anyway?

On passing my driving test & celebratory noodles.

Living in a fairly rural area, the best part of five years have been spent trekking to and from a very rural bus stop (so rural that in fact it has not even reached the marked title of an actual bus stop, and remains a bend in the road that you have to sweet-talk the bus driver into a quick standstill. Failure to do so leads to being dropped in the next lay-by, and having to tackle a bramble bush headfirst. This is followed by several muddy fields either plowed or filled with curious sheep, all the while feeling like a miniature Bear Grylls).

Thus the past five years of my life have been ruled by bus timetables (I can tell you exactly when the 55 passes the stop prior to my colonized bend in the road, and time myself to be ready and waiting approximately four and a half minutes in advance).
There have been few occasions when the bus has simply not arrived, or dismal Sundays spent meandering the high street and stranded in town, due to the one-every-three-hour rule on the day of rest. The mile in between my house and my bus stop has also proved perilous in the dark, when matched with a glaring pair of red headphones yanked up to full volume and cars not fully expecting a schoolgirl wandering country lanes in the dark. Countless arguments have arisen with my mother, over wearing the fluorescent & flashing battery powered vest she kindly purchased (ever the agreeable teenager, I stated that I would rather end up face first in a bonnet than sink to such crimes against fashion). Countless arguments have also arisen over mad dashes to the bus when the agreeable teenager forgets to set a timely alarm, with numerous pitiable pheasants taken on the death toll of such morning pursuits. This is all without mention of the extortionate fares of £7.50 per day, making my gym-goings suddenly very precious.
Having struggled under the woes of a teenager, a Rapunzel stranded in her rural castle, you can imagine my delight at receiving my first car after my seventeenth birthday, accompanied with driving lessons. These extended over the next customary 6 months, or 40 hours expected to pass ones test. These then extended for an additional 6 months.

I wouldn’t consider myself a poor driver. I’m not overly nervous, white knuckles gripping the steering wheel and nails furiously nibbled at every red light. Nor am I dangerous, for I certainly don’t tackle sharp bends at ’60 accompanied by a shriek of glee. I do however buckle under pressure (I turned to faithful old Rescue Remedy in my final two tests). The first was failed rather admirably – I simply didn’t pay attention in the navigational section, and came to a slittle confused stop at a roundabout as a result, A cheery examiner, described by my instructor as looking ‘as if she should be knitting shreddies’, told me she was certain I would pass next time).
Sadly this didn’t quite follow suite, and the following three passed with heightening nerves and wallowing disappointment, growing with every trip to the DVLA website.

All that aside, I do now stand the proud owner of a pass certificate, to match my proud owner of car status which, after a year and a half, I finally am able to decorate with garish swinging die (I’m going to signpost that as the plural of dice), and countless tins of fruit pastilles as procedure in any car.
Accompanied by this pass is are the celebratory noodles I banned myself from having a good 8months ago, after the soul crushing failure of my first test. A self confessed picky eater, I do have some credit to my habits and taste. Having scoured the aisles for the weekly grocery shop, cooked and cleaned for about 6 years, I admittedly don’t see much point in eating that which doesn’t please my palate. Hence my Wagamamas order has been nitpicky and consistent for the past few years

phad-thai-no-egg-no-shallots-no-peanuts-whole-wheat-noodles – please !

comes out in a sort of trance, or chant as if opening a hidden door. (Ali Baba reference, which I was continuously placed in front of as a child, in German no less) (sadly they are also not offering wholewheat noodles this season)

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So, after having to turn down several other group expeditions to Wagamamas with an embarrassed mutter about jinxing driving tests and black magic, I finally have my celebratory noodles!

On other people’s pets.

A rather unexpected choice of topic for my first post, you might ascertain. Yet, one which has been playing on my mind for some time now, and is frequently resurrected whenever I’m invited over to a fellow dog-owning household, and am greeted nose-to-crotch over the welcome mat.

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Dogs hate kisses. This is a widely known fact.

A word of advice is to be highly cautious of anyone who professes themselves a dog hater. A cat-lover myself, I do see reason in feline-cynicism, as understandably not everyone clasps together their hands and coos at the priceless image of their kitten as it retches up a damp hairball on the freshly folded laundry of their significant other. Not everyone is willing to submit to the prospect of sharpened claws sinking into your new pair of Wolford fishnets, at the abrupt reversal from devoted moggy, to brutal wildcat.
To qualify for the title of enduring cat lover, you tend more to side with admiration and amusement at the individually crafted nature held by cats. Dogs, en masse, are renowned for their unwavering love. You can shave them, pluck them, dye their fur a humiliating shade of hot pink as trending in Parisian poodles, and still they will gaze up at you with eyes so wide and brimming with love, they would curve into little heart shaped corneas, were this a cartoonised episode of Scooby-Doo, or Clifford. You only have to glance at the glowering furry eyebrows of Dan Bilzerian’s infamous Smuffball, to know that cats lack this unconditional and yielding infatuation with their owners, specifically when stripped of their hair and left with a running Mohican and chilly little flanks.

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Marco showing his displeasure at my unadulterated love and excessive fake tan.

A step behind the subjugation of pets into these two categories, the stereotypes of the slobbering, gormless dog, and the sharp-witted, only vaguely amused cat (sadly rodents and budgerigars haven’t qualified for this post), is the perception of other people’s own pets. Of course we love our own furry adoptees. Admittedly, no dog is ever as loyal as the elated Lassie, starring in her own television series, nor is any cat as humorous as Garfield. Yet arguably, in the same fanciful style of heavily favourited tumblr quotes, and the tone your mother takes with you when sobbing over your acne, it is their little flaws which make them all the more lovable.
Obviously, unwavering obedience would be wonderful. This aside, I can’t help but smile whenever our veteran golden retriever turns a blind eye, and swivels her head away and pretends furiously not to hear the call for morning stroll, in hope of shifting off the middle aged tyre hanging at her sides. Similarly, I’m equally repulsed as gleeful over the trail of dead shrews and dormice, left peppered across the hallway each morning by my feline companion. Although the stains of loose tails and innards and intestines are revolting, and I pity the rising rodent death toll, I can’t help but feel a little appreciation (as according to a vague google search on cat psychology, this is my kitten’s way of confessing his undying love for me, or rather the hand that feeds).

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Whilst I can stand these little imperfections in my own menagerie, I do struggle to plaster on a brave face and gently hustle an overfriendly lab away from my privates when greeted at the door. Similarly, it’s hard to see the attraction in a cat that saunters in at breakfast and teatime, and is otherwise absent from daytime grooming sessions, rather fond of roaming the outside gardens merrily under his own superveillance.
Yet, thinking back to my previous English house cats (may they rest in peace in the shallow graves I staked out in the garden, 21 a ripe old age for a moggy), and one habit of yowling constantly at three in the morning, followed by the doting attitude our household took to this custom, all these little shortcomings do make our pets more lovable. Perhaps this isn’t quite so easy to fathom when defending your nether region with a barrier of forearms, or plucking white hairs out of the jacket a friend’s cat has decided to nest and bear kittens within (asking for this garment back, when purposefully selected by the queen to bear her furry blessings, was shot down with a cagey stare). Still, imperfections aside, you love your pets like you would your grandma, no matter how many times one misses the litterbox, and the other snores during Question Time.

Interpretation of Ariel, by Sylvia Plath

Ariel. A luscious red haired mermaid sadly isn’t included in the identification of the namesake. Rather Sylvia’s husband, Ted, influenced many of the readings through adding that Sylvia rode at a Dartmoor riding school. Having engaged in several long and enduring treks over Dartmoor hill and heath, I’m thoroughly surprised that one shaggy haired moor pony ever bolted in its lifetime. My experience tends to surround hammering the oblivious sides of the beasts, and trying to blindly tear their mouths away from the nearest fern. This all takes place in spitting cold rain, in sodden castoff jeans considered weathered enough to feel the fury of three hours in the saddle. Not quite the ‘substanceless blue / pour of tor and distances’ (you can’t quite see for the next tor through the muggy Dartmoor smog, let alone the great distances. Prayers be with the ten tors volunteers). The spondees ‘stasis in darkness’ and ‘pour of tor’ amplify quite the pace at which the trail pony must have taken up, static scenery turned to a blur of Dartmoor colours (which have a regrettable tendency to revolve around grey and green).

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(my friend aboard a trusty Dartmoor steed)

Some claim the horse to ignite the symbol of male sexuality. I’m not quite sure. We may indeed have fallen so low as to include ‘stud’ or ‘studmuffin’ in the endless list of endearments, or Tinder profile labels, but horses can just as easily be assimilated in the female sense. I was never quite sure on the gender of Falada, my favourite fairytale mount, I don’t suppose they gelded in those days. The words murmured by poor Falada’s head ‘if this your mother knew / her heart would break in two’ do otherwise take the tone of a gentle, doting mare.

Jerusalem was also referred to as ‘Ariel’, as predestined to be destroyed by flames. Another interpretation of the title of choice, tying in to the concluding stanza, and line – ‘suicidal, at one with the drive / into the red / Eye, the cauldron of the morning’. Perhaps the pony has truly taken a turn for the worst, and with the wind up its tail bolted straight through the night until the rising sun brightens Plath’s world – if she has not already plunged off the careering animal in rather a few nightly hours. Otherwise, this reference could indeed be Jerusalem’s flames, come to plague. Much like Troy, you could ascertain. Cities tend to go down in flames.

I’m not necessarily a hardcore feminist. I don’t think this poem sees Plath paving the gender-war either. The allusions to female strength and powder are obvious; ‘God’s lioness’, as if embodying the almighty powder of a Lord within the sleek coat of a female predator. ‘Godiva’, too, the woman who paraded the streets of Coventry, nude and on horseback, to boycott taxation, is an emblem of female strength, on horseback (lets hope Plath herself wasn’t too unclothed, sitting astride her Dartmoor pony. It gets rather nippy in Winter).
Yet, ‘I unpeel – dead hands, dead stringencies’, suggests rebirth and shedding of restrictions. When related to ‘the child’s cry / Melts in the wall’, the mention of an adolescent could possibly be the internal child, in the narrator, or rather Plath, herself. Sitting astride a bolting horse is rather frightening (my mother bought me an ex racehorse in place of a trusty furry Shetland, so I can advise you justly). Perhaps Plath has indeed located her inner sophisticated goddess whilst straddling a wild horse. I just question the feasibility of reaching great epiphanies when grappling for the reins.

Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.

God’s lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees!—The furrow

Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,

Nigger-eye
Berries cast dark
Hooks—

Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Shadows.
Something else

Hauls me through air—
Thighs, hair;
Flakes from my heels.

White
Godiva, I unpeel—
Dead hands, dead stringencies.

And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child’s cry

Melts in the wall.
And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron of morning.

-Sylvia Plath, 1962

On the blog name.

Of course I was deeply enamoured at the thought of plucking out a blog name, eyecatching and teeming with wit or a pinch of great intellect. I could have some lengthy back story at the ready, casually tossing in a tale of extreme benevolence towards the elderly. Or a foreign word, that could stand emblazoned at the top of the blog in an understated and classy font, loosely translating into something that projects my savvy mentality, or on the contrary, gently mocking since can’t we all empathise with someone able to disgrace themselves for a few stray giggles.

Alas, sadly the final school year is ticking onwards and I haven’t yet been enlightened with any such slogans, so you’ll have to make do with me and my slaptstick qualities, rather than the blog name, for now.

Following on from that dampening introduction, the phrase does certainly hold an element of truth. I do rather like stars. Now before I bowl you over with that excellent hyperbole (my rhyming talents clearly aren’t going to win your hearts either), let me affirm that it does at least hold an element of truth. Having a fairly loose reining mother, I’ve always toyed with the idea of getting a stellar related quote inked on my back. ‘A metaphor for the night sky; a trillion asterisks and no explanations’ is my diction of choice.
There was some confusion over the author of these words, when my mother requested a short list of quotes for some hand painted, inspirational kitchen tiles. I did taper on the authors of each quote on to my little list, for copyrights sake, yet this was apparently lost in translation through several email inboxes. For quite some time I was certain that the quote was thanks to Oscar Wilde. Later ponderings led to the dramatic realisation that O. Wilde was in fact an adapted version of my own surname, Waelde (no hard feelings, I’m well accustomed to a multitude of misspellings thanks to this ruffian tagged on to my passport). Therefore I’d like to publicly relieve myself of the duties of apologising to Mr. Brault, as the dark cloud of stolen words has been hanging over me to the date. Neither myself nor Oscar Wilde are due credit for this astrological quote. (We tend also to turn a blind eye upon the phallic nature of the feline face, when sipping our tea in the new kitchen).

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There we have it. I’m not head over heels, engrossed in every astrology newsletter, able to drawl on for hours to dinner guests over the complex life cycle of the bright little lights in the sky (I can hardly recall my GCSE physics life cycle dip into them as it is), I can’t point out any more constellations than ‘der kleiner Wagen’ (the little wheelbarrow) and I struggle hideously in discerning a man in Orion, or a pup in Sirius. Despite the listed shortfalls in my nebula knowledge, I did experience warm and tingly feelings when browsing a pre bedtime Buzzfeed article on non sexual fetishes, and seeing ‘Astrophile’ leading the pack, as a person who loves stars. Indeed, I can’t tally off impressive memorised figures, of light years, and light distance, and the number of stars which, incomprehensibly, no longer exist even as we peer up at them on clear nights. Yet, the impassive and stately expanse of night skies do captivate me more than your average Joe (or so I’d like to believe).