Liebster Award 2016

We interrupt this regular programme for a blogging challenge!

liebster2

The beautiful sunflower Elie of https://thisnatureofbeauty.com/ has nominated yours truly to do the Liebster award, a blogging award for bloggers by bloggers! If you have the time check out her site, she is the glorious hippie that we deserve, as well as the one that we need right now. Actually, check out her blog even if you don’t have time for a regular dose of ecological learning, beauty tips and just general cuteness. She’s the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope, ha.

Anyway as far as I can tell, the Liebster award is a way to support fellow bloggers who have a small following, and just a nice way to send positive vibes. I’ve got to answer 11 questions – let’s do this!

  1. What is your favourite subject to blog about?
    I’ve just started blogging so I don’t have a “niche” and I can’t say that I ever will have one, but I’m a storyteller by nature and I love talking about my personal experiences. I’m also a glutton who loves talking about food. So the Soul Food For Thought blog posts are my favourite to write because it combines the two!
  2. Are you a party animal or a home comforts kind of person?
    When I was doing my undergrad I loved going out and clubbing and partying, but the older I get, the more I prefer to be at home with my blog and my books and my copious variety of tea.
  3. What is your number 1 travel wish destination / which was your favourite holiday?
    A part of my quarter-life crisis involved the realisation that I had achieved my top ten travel list I made when I was 15, so I’m in the process of making a new travel list so that I have something to aim for. But I think my favourite place was Japan, I lived there for a year as a part of my undergraduate degree and I loved it! The food was great, the people were lovely, the anime was cheap and it was a dream come true for me. I’m aiming to go back for Tokyo 2020, if not earlier!
  4. Who / what first got you into blogging?
    No one, really. I had been told a couple of times by various people that I should have a blog and I’d made many attempts without any success. I think now I’m at a point where I feel like I have well-formed thoughts I want to talk about and blogging has provided me with a space for me to express my thoughts, even if they’re silly things about bras sometimes.
  5. What makes you smile and relax when you are having a bad day?
    Lots of little things. Peppermint tea and fluffy socks, Disney movies and popcorn, singing oldies (I just want your extra time and your dododododododododo KIIIIuhss), talking to my Gentleman Caller, reading a book while shovelling maltesers down my face…
  6. What is your favourite book / who is your favourite author?
    Why would you ask me that. I cannot choose my favourite oxygen molecule.
    I’ll tell you that I’m currently reading David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks while I wait for MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood to appear in the post.
  7. What is the most delicious food you have ever eaten?
    Hmmmmmmmm. That’s difficult to choose. I do love me some food. I think food tastes more delicious when it’s tied to an experience, though, so gelato in Italy, pizza in Italy, pasta in Italy… mmmm Italian food.
  8. What three things have you learnt from having a blog?
    I’ve learnt that there are whole communities of bloggers I didn’t know about, I’ve learnt that maybe I’m not as bad a writer as I think I am and I’ve learnt that it’s kind of therapeutic to write things down, even if they’re not necessarily about my feelings right now.
  9. What is your greatest fear?
    My greatest fear is my biggest paradox. I fear that I won’t be able to achieve all that I want to achieve, but every time I achieve something, I find something new to work towards. So I’ll never really stop, will I?
  10. What do you value most in life?
    My relationships. Not many people are fortunate enough to have good relationships with wonderful people. I’m so thankful to be close to my family, and to have great friends and a lovely GC.
    Also my xBox because it was the first thing I got with my very first paycheck. Maybe it sounds shallow, but it was the first thing I ever owned that was truly mine, y’know?
  11. Which is your favourite season of the year and why?
    Fall because the leaves are beautiful, it’s not too hot and not too cold and because of my birthdaaaaay!!!

NOMINATIONS!

Amanda from http://alltheworldsapageblog.wordpress.com/

Dana from https://danabubulj.wordpress.com/

Nadine from caringinthechaos.com

QUESTIONS
1) What made you start a blog?
2) What’s the best part of your life right now?
3) What’s one thing you’re proud of?
4) Is there one show in particular you love watching?
5) What’s one thing you’d tell your past self?
6) Do you believe in ghosts?
7) What’s your favourite song?
8) What’s your favourite meal to cook?
9) Do you like animals?
10) Sweet or savoury?
11) What’s something few people know about you?

Anyone else interested in doing this, let me know and I’ll nominate you 😀

 

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Night Nurse: Patient #237

I used to be an HCA before I started the course. This is one of my more memorable moments. Names are removed to maintain privacy.

A fair amount of patients in hospitals require one-on-one care. This may be because they are a risk to themselves or to others, are prone to falling or wandering off, or are in any way confused. Sometimes they’re a pretty great mixture of all three. And by great I mean “oh God why?”

I’ve had to provide one-on-one care to a variety of mostly elderly patients where, as an HCA, my job was to sit with them for the duration of my shift and ensure their basic needs are met and that they are safe. This can, depending on the shift, be so restful it’s boring or so maddening I’d seriously contemplate quitting by lunchtime. This particular patient was elderly and didn’t understand a lick of English. She needed ‘specialing’ as we called it because she kept climbing over the cot sides of the bed, flinging herself onto the floor and hurting herself. Any attempt to communicate with her was met with “ok ok” and a nonchalant hand wave as she attempted to very slowly reenact The Great Escape using a zimmerframe and a pair of pink slippers.

And so, armed with this very limited knowledge, I sat myself down next to her bed and tried to keep her from belly-flopping onto the floor. However it soon became apparent that she wasn’t completely gone, she just needed things and knew we didn’t understand her enough to get it for her so she was trying to get it herself. So on my tea break, I messaged a friend:

P: brah
F: yeah fam
P: do you know any Gujarati?
F:  what, so just cuz I’s brown you think I can speak Gujarati? India has 22 languages
P: is that a no or wut
F: what you need fam

I compiled a list of the 7 most important words to know in any language (food, drink, toilet, please, thanks, you Ok?) and asked my friend to translate it into Hindi for me. Fun fact: If you say toilet in an Indian accent, even if your Indian accent is less Priyanka Chopra and more Apu from The Simpsons, the message gets across. Don’t judge me on that fact, that’s what my friend said when I asked her.

After my break I walked into the bay and sat next to the patient’s bedside. She eyed me warily, mouth set in the universal grim line all elderly women make when they think you’re worthless. I took a deep breath and nervously asked “Kem cho?”

She brightened.

The day went so smoothly after that it was comical. If I saw her shuffling in bed, I’d ask “Kem cho? Pani? Toilet?” and she’d repeat whatever word she needed back to me. I helped her to the bathroom, I got her to sit in her chair for a while, she even had some of our inferior hospital food before her daughter came with much tastier stock. The end of my shift, as I was saying goodbye to her, she grabbed my hand and whispered “thank you” to me before nodding off to sleep. I left the list of words in her folder and even though it was a few years ago, I hope the next staff member used it to full effect.

I don’t know how this little old lady is now. The problem with working as an HCA in the bank is that your connections with patients are brief and the chances of seeing them is minor. What I do know is that her great-granddaughter left me a message saying that her great-grandmother looked the happiest she’s ever seen her. And I know it’s such a silly little thing, me mangling a language and yelling “WATER” at a slightly deaf old lady, but honestly I think it’s one of my most memorable experiences. I think that’s why I kept working as an HCA for so long. Sometimes one nice moment makes up for all the not so nice moments.

Stranger Danger

I talk to strangers a lot. I was told once that this was un-London of me, but I can’t help it. People are just so… interesting.

One time my friend and I got onto the Overground, where a group of seemingly rowdy guys occupied one end of the carriage. The only seat available was next to them so I took it and told her to sit on my lap (what is personal space and cupcakes between friends?). The men hooted. I responded with “Hey it’s the best seat in the house!” The one guy had the super fun idea of playing a ring game where one person gives a topic and the rest of us have to name things in that topic until someone is stumped. Example:

“Songs with women names as their title!” “Ms Jackson!” “Ruby!!” “ROOXAAAAAAANNE! You don’t have to put on the red liiiight”

By the end of the train ride we made the rest of the carriage immensely jealous that they weren’t having fun with us.

I hit it off with the saleslady at the mall the other day. Now every time I see her, she tells me something new about her life. She’s dating a very good looking prison officer…but he has 2 kids. She’s not sure she’s ready to be a mum. I told her she’d make a great mum and she looked as if I had made her day. I hope everything goes well with them.

Another time a man in Japan drove me around and helped me sell my stuff so that my suitcases wouldn’t be too overweight when I left . His rationale for helping me (in addition to seeing me drag a bag of clothing down the highway like an exotic hobo) was that his daughter was about my age and studying in Ireland and he’d like to think that someone would help her if she was in the same situation.

While waiting for a bus one day, a little old lady regaled me with stories of her time as a part of the Royal Navy – running along the beach every day, managing the phone lines and “the very dashing soldiers – although I didn’t get to meet any!” she giggled conspiratorially to me, but then her tone grew serious. “It wasn’t a good time in our history. I’m glad things are safer now.”

Then there was the time my friend and I met an American man in a hotel restaurant and ended up sharing a table with him for dinner. We spoke for hours about the differences between America, England, St. Lucia and Japan (“why is baseball popular in Japan?” “The same reason why Country and Western is popular in St Lucia. Because America left us the weirdest things”). In the end, he paid for our meals, saying that our company was worth it and he knew what it was like to be a broke student.

There is so much kindness in the world, and so many kind and interesting people.

And yet.

And yet right after I began to write about my positive experiences with strangers, I had a thoroughly uncomfortable experience. I jog at night so that no one can see my bum wobbling but I never go further than a few kilometres from where I live. A strange man found it appropriate to follow me in his car, parking just up ahead and yelling at me to get in and talk. He did this in the middle of the night while I was running, and when I kept running his response was to slowly drive after me and continue to try to gain my attention and more importantly my compliance.

Now, it’s easy to say that perhaps he was lost, that he couldn’t find an address on google maps and needed me to help him find his way. But from my perspective he was encroaching on my personal space in a real and terrifying way not once but multiple times and understanding the hint that I didn’t want to talk only made him redouble his efforts by following me in his car.

And so it makes me so very uncomfortable when I see men on social media (and some women) say “not all men are like that!” Because here’s the thing: I know. I know not all men are violent, I know not all men have bad intentions, I know not all assailants are male. But for every three people I’ve had dance battles with in a supermarket aisle, I’ve had one person remind me that the world is not full of those kinds of people. The people I need to remember are the ones that might have less than innocent ideas. And that is a scary thought.

If you are not one of those people, thank you for being a decent person. But if you know someone who can be please let them know how not to be. Victims don’t often get that chance

Night Nurse: The Sexy Nurse Stereotype and the Unsexy Reality

Yup

I’m not even a nurse yet and I’ve been asked about this.

“So,” the guy asked casually, twirling his cocktail stick like he wanted to show me his actual cocktail stick. “I heard nurses are amazing in bed.”

Boy please.

Is there a pamphlet sent around to all guys within a certain age bracket on “How To Hit On A Girl”, because whoever’s the editor needs to take a second to evaluate their life and publishing choices.

I suppose the reason behind the stereotype is because being a nurse means that one is intimately acquainted with the workings of the human body, and aren’t ashamed by this. By the time we qualify, we have 2300hrs of experience, which translates into a fair amount of naked bodies being bandaged, washed, cannulated and yes, catheterised. We know what goes on down there. It’s a fair assumption that we also therefore know how to make the body feel quite good.

The other reason is most likely porn.

People who obtain their reality from porn need one heckuva reality check, if I’m honest. The one true thing about nurses in porn is that the uniforms are bare below the elbows, but that’s about it. Skirts and dresses that short will make manoeuvring patients so hard. I know we’re not allowed to bend from the waist but it wouldn’t be practical to have to maintain patient dignity and my own at the same time. As for the cleavage out? That’s just pointless. All that bare skin increases the chance of a needlestick injury by God knows how much. And where would we hang our badges? Also hair should be pulled back into a ponytail, not teased into loose curls or whatever. Clearly none of those script writers did their Infection Control training.

So what is nursing like really? Well it’s long hours on your feet for one. Usually 12hr shifts with two breaks if you can find the time to grab them. It’s hard work, helping the immobile move, the infirm become well, the incontinent… well… you know. And while we’re on the subject, bodily effusions are so unsexy. Children go from cute angels to vomit comets, the elderly go from dry to marinating in their number one in a matter of minutes, and man suppositories and enemas are so unpleasant. I’m sure it’s no fun for the patient either, but… man. Just. Use your imagination.

And so I said this to this eager pervert with the strange opening line – my future profession is a lot of things, but it isn’t your fantasy. It is not the reason why you should date me, nor is it the rationale for you trying to bed me. It is, however, difficult, taxing, messy and way more rewarding than that one-liner. I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble, pal. Fortunately, I’ve heard porn is free.

Soul Food for Thought: Baking Ain’t Easy

Most people learnt how to bake from a family member or in school. I learnt how to bake from a recipe book and pure, unadulterated rage.

Revenge is a dish best served baked.

In my first year of university I lived with a girl who stress-baked. Every time she had an assignment due, the smell of vanilla wafted through the house and a sponge cake was found in the kitchen. So I guess that’s where I got the idea to bake in times of strife. Fortunately that summer I happened to be acquainted with someone who gave me just that… (If you’re reading this, hi! You indirectly helped me learn how to bake?)

Ingredients

  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 175ml sunflower oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 140g grated carrot (about 3 medium)
  • 100g raisins
  • grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg (freshly grated will give you the best flavour)
  • 1 annoying boy(AB)

Method

  1. On your way back from the gym, get a message:
    AB: hey wuu2
    P: just walking back from the gym ^_^
    AB: Gym? U thnk u unattractive?
    P: er no? I just want to be healthy
    AB: oh well fat people go to the gym to make themself attractive.
    P: >.> You’re no adonis
    AB: whos dat?
  2. Go to the supermarket and angrily buy your ingredients. Ignore AB till you get home:
    AB: i googled him
    P: good for you
    AB: I not that but I not fat lol
    P: ok
    AB: anyway I was playing Tekken
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Oil your 18cm square baking tray and line with baking parchment. If you have a silicon baking tray, that is not necessary.
  4. Mix the sugar with the oil.
    AB: I think I can win prize money with Tekken
    P: oh? isn’t that hard?
    AB: yeah but I’m really gd tho.
    P: maybe I should try lol
    AB: girls dont play fighting games
    Angrily crack open the eggs and beat them into the sugar and oil mixture. Pretend you are beating in someone’s head. Stir in the grated carrot
  5. Mix the dry ingredients together and sift them into the mixture.
    AB: I can make a career of gamin u kno
    P: you’ve only been playing a few months. Some people train for years.
    AB: y dont u ever support me
    P: You can be whatever you want to be, I’m just saying that it takes practice
    AB: I been practicing all day
    P: that’s not the same thing
    AB: u mad cuz I call u fat? lol
    Angrily bash the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the mixture is light and fluffy, like how he would look if you had beaten the black out of him.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and bake for 40-45minutes. Take this opportunity to give AB a piece of your mind.
    P: look. you are a rude, self-absorbed spoilt child. You only asked me what I was up to as an excuse to tell me about your mundane life. You don’t actually care about anyone but yourself, and if you were actually an adult you would know the difference between being unsupportive and advice.
    AB: u on your period?
    P: you’re a child. go cry to your mother
    AB: my mother doesnt think Im like that
    P: I don’t care. Never speak to me again
  7. Serve cake with cream cheese frosting and a side of simmering rage.

This is an actual conversation I had with someone one summer when I was learning how to bake and also trying to be healthier and lose some weight. This happened over 4 years ago but it’s still fresh in my mind like it happened last week. It’s funny how awful things that people say to you can stick to you like a recurring rash, and how being mistreated, whether physically, emotionally or verbally remains when so many other things become forgotten. I stood up for myself, always have and always will, but that doesn’t make what was said ok. I’m no angel, I’ve said horrible things to people myself (and I hope that they forgive me for it), but it’s so important to remember that what you say to people, no matter how minor, can stay with them. We should all try to give kindness that will be remembered instead.

On the plus side, I’m really good at baking now!

Night Nurse: Why Nursing?

“What made you join this course?”

Small talk has the same script.

I’m a strange mesh of spontaneous actions and overthinking my thoughts in that I can change my plans and mind at the drop of a hat, but once I do I create a 5-year plan in my head including opportunities for promotion, chances of affording a house, feeding my 12 future cats, etc. So in July 2015, I decided to apply for a child postgraduate nursing course in London starting September 2015, emotionally blackmailed my co-workers into reading my personal statement and applied to a bunch of universities and had a place in August.

Now, up until July 2015, I never thought I could be a nurse. Nurses in my mind were these steely-eyed matronly types, shedding nary a tear in the face of death and never gagging in the face of bodily fluids. At the very least they were like Carla from Scrubs: tough, sassy and no-nonsense. I’m less tough and more soft and jiggly like a pudding cup. I cry during Disney movies and freak out when there’s an eyelash in my eye. I couldn’t imagine myself having the backbone to become a nurse until I realised that I had been a healthcare assistant for the same amount of time it takes some people to have more than one kid. Not once had I fainted, threw up or been fired. So, facing the quarterlife crisis a lot of millennials face, I decided to go back to university and do something with all that experience.

The thing about nursing is that for many people, nursing is a “calling”. A lot of people who apply to do nursing do so out of a feeling that this will complete them, that this is the Dream Job. That nursing, despite the difficulty of being overworked and underpaid, is a rewarding, enlightening experience that they have wanted to do since they were but babes, nestled in their mothers’ arms as a smiling angelic nurse gracefully took their blood pressure and proceeded to Save a Life.

Now, I’m not saying that those ideas or bad or even wrong – ignoring my exaggeration, they’re all accurate thoughts.

It’s just really crappy to hear all that when your reason is “I had a quarterlife crisis and couldn’t afford any other postgraduate options.”

And it’s even worse when someone asks you “why children’s nursing” and you reply with “because adults suck.”

But those things are true too. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who found my reasons kind of lame, especially when I was validated by my mentors who so far have given reasons including “I dossed about in A-Levels” and “I did one of those personality quizzes online”. Motivation comes from many places, and whether it’s the memory of a modern-day Florence Nightingale swaddling you as a child or you just happened to see an ad for nursing while filling in your UCAS application, it really doesn’t matter. As long as you (and I!) are devoted to being good at what you do, and you approach the patients with empathy and care, no one is gonna ask you whether nursing was your calling or your last resort.

But seriously. Adult patients really do suck.

Me, Myself and My Infinite Playlist

Yeah I listen to K-pop. And what?

Fight me.

The best thing about an increasingly global world is that the older I get, the less weird looks I get when I say that some of my favourite songs aren’t in English or any language associated with my heritage (assumed or otherwise). I’ve got skin as thick as a rhino’s backside so when I was younger and realised that it was weird to be black and listen to K-pop and J-pop (K-pop’s cuter and more colourful cousin), it didn’t really bother me. Nor did it bother me when I got more than a few raised eyebrows in the middle of my Fall Out Boy rants. Yeah I went through an emo phase too. Fringe, black eyeliner, fingerless gloves and all. I cringe at my fashion sense back then but I can still sing all the lyrics to CrushCrushCrush at the top of my lungs and pretend I’m Hayley Williams. Some things stay with you.

Nothing compares to a quiet evening alone.

Music is weird. It’s ancient and rhythmic and changes with the ages and the cultures. It’s constantly morphing into new exciting forms that somehow manages to bring us together and split us apart. I was told that rock music was for “white people” (the creation of rock and roll is often credited to a black woman) as if Jimi Hendrix was a blip in history and the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses doesn’t have an African-American mother. The music of my people and therefore of me was meant to be solely dancehall, soca, reggae and calypso – which I love, don’t get me wrong… but so do a heckuva lot of Japanese people. If I was to move out of my region to look for music, I was meant to go as far as BET for RnB, Hip Hop and Rap. And hey, I was also embroiled in the Bow Wow vs Romeo debate, B2K was whatever the equivalent of BAE was back then, and anyone who serenades me with a song by BoyzIIMen, Joe or Usher will get my hand in marriage. I just… I just also really really like Welcome to the Black Parade, OK?

This song, your voice, your face…

The increasing popularity of Afrobeats intrigues me as well. See, in between listening to the Fullmetal Alchemist second opening track, Bump Bump Bump and I Write Sins Not Tragedies, I was also listening to the songs of my mother’s people. Miriam Makeba. Hugh Masekela. Brenda Fassie. I listened to Kwaito music and the Soweto Gospel Choir. So when Afrobeats began to infiltrate clubs in between Igniton(Remix) and Temperature, I wondered if music from other parts of Africa would follow… but nah just West Africa. So when I first heard Kukere I slotted it in between PonPonPon and King of the Dancehall and waved my rag for all three. Just something else to add to my growing playlist.

Till the early morning oh

This may sound bad but the best part about Afrobeats was that it gave me another retort in my arsenal against people who questioned my music choices, one already full of dancehall-related comebacks. “Why do you listen to Korean hip hop when you can’t understand the words?” I get asked. “Talk to me when you can honestly say you understand all the words to Ojuelegba,” I reply. Just like no one is here for Wizkid or Sean Paul’s incredible diction and catchy prose, I’m not here to understand what they’re singing about. I’m here to dance and move and just generally be an embarrassment to the human race as a species.

My moves are not contained by borders, only by the universal prompt to flail around to a rhythm. And as the world simultaneously grows in size and shrinks in distance, my behemoth of a playlist increases in mass and weirdness. I have and always will welcome this. Throw a song my way and dance with me. In public. Let’s make other people uncomfortable… or join in! We don’t need no education, guys… we just need to shake our asses and watch ourselves.