Saturday, 19 December 2015

Wine O' Clock/ My New, Smelly Housemate

Hiyaaaa!  Have drunk (drunken? Drank? Drenked?  Necked, mate!! ..?) most of a bottle of wine whilst binge watching Channel 4's Secret life of 4, 5 and 6 year olds because...Christmas? Also watching 4, 5 and 6 year olds is fucking funny.  They talk exactly like pissed adults do.  I feel I'm in good company.  I too have attacks of moderate to severe social anxiety whilst in a onesie, cute bespectacled kid.  I feel your pain.  Also, your sheep onesie is way cooler than my penguin one.  Swap?

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to write about or how my spelling's going to pan out or even if I'm going to publish whatever this is.  Proper edge of your chair, seat of your pants stuff, no?  Normally at this level of "slightly warm and fuzzy" with a hint of "I-want-pizza-NOW-GET-ME-PIZZA-can-we-dance-a-bit-first-though-I-love-you-mate-WHERE-IS-MY-EFFING-PIZZA?!!" tipsy, I start talking at A as an outlet for all my thoughts and feelings.  I have lots of both.  More of one than the other.  I'll let you be the judge.  However...


Cat's gone out, so a heart to heart punctuated with long, intense stares of mild disdain is out of the question.  And this one is currently hanging upside down on the sofa in in a creepy, open eyed coma:

  Before the coma.  Would take a picture now of aforementioned coma, but I can see more balls than face (his. Not mine.  Not that I have balls.  I'm unsure why I feel that it's important to underline this fact.  Becky Taunton:  Testicle free since 1988...please put that on my gravestone) in the position he's in.  The internet doesn't need to see this.  Take my word for it, internet.  Am doing you a favour.

What's that, you ask? Who is that hypnotic, severely cute creature (look at the picture again if the mention of balls made you do a little sick in your mouth)?  Just my new dog.


.....DOG!!!!! =D

We renamed the little cutie/smelly oaf Jesse in line with the Breaking Bad theme we have on the go with the feline.  We named the cat Walter.  Walter White.  If you have no idea what I'm on about and have never seen Breaking Bad, I'll wait until you have.

 ... Good, isn't it?  Makes meth look like so much more than a drug that makes you repeatedly hoover up all the teeth that keep on dropping out of your head, doesn't it?  I have no idea what the purpose was of that episode with the fly in it either, but I remember it the most clearly for some reason.  Maybe it had a secret meaning that resonated with me?  We are all trying to kill our own flies in the inner lab of the...mind?  Or maybe it was the simplest story arc and all the my brain is capable of actually taking in.

Did they even kill the fly in the end? I think they did.

So.  Yes.  Jesse.  We have had him for a grand total of two days now, which obviously makes us responsible, seasoned canine guardians now.  Obvs.  Here is a list of what I've found to be different in my life since he barfed, snuffled, jumped and napped his way into our lives on Thursday:

1.  It is awesome seeing someone lose their actual mind when you walk in the front door.  I initially felt a little irked that I didn't get this treatment pre-dog, but on reflection, it would have been be weird if upon my arrival home each night, A leaped twice his height in the air and headbutted my legs until I told him enough times that he's a good boy for him to be calm.  Just.. wrong.  

2.  I finally live with a creature who can eat faster than I can.  I'm impressed and have a quiet respect for this.

3.  Been going a bit insane at the fact that even though I like my new job, it involves a heckuvva lot of sitting down.  The days fly by, but I do go home twitching on excess energy.  Dog is answer.  Dog is solution. Dog is the key.  Dog is the secret.  Jesse has taken me on several walkies already.  I look forward to many, many more in the future.  The sooner he learns to throw a frizbee for me, the better.  That's how fetch works, right?  God, I love walkies.

4.  Dog.

5. Dog dog dog dog I HAVE A DOG!!!

Got to go now.  Wine glass is empty and I need another walk.
Good talk, guys.  How was my spelling?

Saturday, 28 November 2015

How You Know You're the Office Noob

I'm getting worse at blogging regularly, but this month I have an excuse.  The validity of my excuse is debatable, but I'm going to use it anyway.  So there.  

I've been crap lately because I started a new job a few weeks ago.  I've moved on from a full time career in listening to people shout at me about car tax while I do colouring in (disclaimer:  wasn't all bad - got to work with some lovely people, and I will hold the fragmented memories of nights out I've had with said people for a long time.  And they let me do colouring in) to a more rewarding one where I have to use my brain in different ways.

My brain is not used to this.  Until I get accustomed to it, I think I'll continue coming home every weeknight with the I.Q of a baked bean, attempting to put my dishes in the washing machine and staring into empty mugs which held tea that I have no memory of drinking.  Or making, come to think of it.  It's challenging and absorbing, and so far the days are flying by more quickly than I can blink (I have very dry eyes.  Shut up, it's a thing). Also, I've discovered that I actually enjoy commuting with a flask of coffee and a load of podcasts to burn through at the ass crack of dawn.  I found out that I don't really mind occasionally having to get up at 5am to pootle to the office for an early shift either.  What's wrong with me?

My new work folk have made being a noob a nice experience for me, and I'm trying to return the favour by fucking as little shit up as possible.  So, far, so good.  I think.  I mean, nothing's caught fire under my watch and no one has sustained minor injuries as a result of my work.  Even if I am working in an office and the biggest injury I could probably inflict is a paper cut.  It's been a good couple of years since I've been the office fresh(ish) meat.  Here's what I've been reminded it's like to be the new guy in town:

How You Know You're the Office Noob

1.  You're so "helpful" that it's annoying.

Yes, you're eager to show willing and so grateful to have been given your new role that you offer to do EVERYTHING.   You then need to ask those same people you've ever-so-kindly taken those jobs from (because you're a bloody saint, you are) to show you very... slowly... what to do from scratch, ultimately resulting in them doing all the work anyway but in half the speed they normally do it so that your blank little mind can keep up.

"Wait, wait.  Can you show me that again?  I missed that part."  Look how helpful I'm being!

2.  Offering to make tea for the first time = stress sweats.

Okay.  So there are about 20 people in the room with me, and every one of them has made me a cup of tea or coffee at least once this week.  I need to offer to make one for them soon, or they'll assume I'm a terrible, selfish person.  But what if they all say yes at the same time?  How will I remember who wants tea? Coffee? One sugar?  Two sugar?  None? Strong? Weak?  What if I give them someone else's mug by accident and then they all tell me I'm wrong?  *Gasp* what if no one tells me I'm wrong and I keep making them the wrong thing in the wrong mug forever and they secretly resent me more and more for the rest of my career until they want to stab me in the leg with a teaspoon?  THIS IS SO STRESSFUL!!  

Reality (realit-tea...haw haw)

Noob: "Who wants a drink?"

All of office bar the two people who drink only black coffee: "No, I'm good, thanks."

3.   Novelty makes every nice thing about the job seem AMAZING!

We don't have to work weekends?  Hells yes!  There's a kettle within a few feet of my desk?  Omg! I can eat food at my desk?  Outside of my lunch break? Wow! And I get paid money to come here?  My new colleagues aren't fascist, violent, fire breathing lizards from space? Shit, this job is THE BEST!!  

4.  You spend a good 50% of your brain power trying to rein in the clumsy.

These people don't know that you have a penchant for spilling tea up walls while you're stood still and for tripping over wires that aren't actually there.  For all they know, you're a tight rope walking ballerina in your free time.  Enjoy that while it lasts, and try not to chew on the wrong side of your biro again 'kay?  We don't want another blue moustache.

5.  You feel a sweet, sweet sense of relief that your new place of employment appreciates cake just as much as your previous job.  Thank God.  Thank God for cake. Cake is the best, isn't it? Mmm, cake.  What was I writing about again?  I don't care.  I'm going to find some cake.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Too Old for this Ish

Current status:  Sitting with a bird's nest on top of my head and a cup of tea (cup of tea is on table, not head. Bird's nest not stable enough to stand hot beverages on). Fluffy dressing gown deployed.  Slippers are go.  I am one bad ass father-mucker.   Considering going for a 3 mile shuffle around the block, but the dressing gown might make me look a few chunks short of a stew.  

I can't handle hang overs any more.  I'm nearing my twenty eighth birthday and quickly realising that I'm no longer one of them "yoots" (innit).  Last week, I went to Cyprus to attend a friend's wedding, along with 40-odd other people.  It was a magical day: we laughed, we cried, A gave a best man's speech (he was actually best man. Didn't just bulldoze his way into the speeches for shits and giggles), we were flung around by traditional Cypriot dancers.  Much memories.  Such wedding.

It was the other 6 days that nearly had me crying to my mummy, clutching my poor, pickled liver.  I met some fantastic girls who had also come down for the occasion, but fuck me, they could drink! I thought I liked a bit of the falling down water, but these girls were in another league altogether.  Every night they had us piled into taxis to Ayia Napa for shots, shouts and shisha pipes (also dubious cocktails dispensed from giant, plastic cocks), and every night I had the kind of night where you go home with a sore face from smiling so much (or in my case, a sore face from tripping over my own feet and face planting a board walk.  Classy girl).  But the mornings.  I don't think there was a morning on that holiday where I didn't wake up with some degree of hang over.  They ranged from "Oof, my head's a bit hurty.  I think I'll sleep it off on the sun loungers" to 


This enlightening experience has taught me that there are certain things I can't handle as well as I used to be able to as I clatter my way through adulthood.  Here goes, then:


See above example.  Every time I go out, I now need at least 3 days to recover.  By no means have I stopped my beloved nights on the tiles, but the recovery time is much, much more grim that it used to be.  As a student, I could take full advantage of the drinks discounts on Student Night in town and then happily trot off to work in Debenhams the next day for my 9am shift.  Sure I had to spend the occasional 5 minutes hiding in the big, walk-in freezer going "Uuuuuunngh!", but it was mostly okay.  Nowadays, my hang overs span 3 phases over as many days:

Phase 1: The Hang Over - this is the part that is traditionally associated with the day after the night before.  Headache.  Stroppiness.  Desire to eat anything and everything at eye level.  Standard.

Phase 2: The Feels - This is like PMS on 'roids.  Am extremely sensitive and prone to getting a bit teary eyed at adverts.  "What do you mean stop crying?  SO many people haven't claimed back their PPI.  They could be owed thousands.  IT'S SO SAD!!"

Phase 3: The ZZZs - Feeling deceptively human, but so mentally drained that I can't remember basic vocabulary and the fact that I can't actually walk through walls.

Trying to be liked

Okay, yeah.  I'm a people pleaser, so part of me will always care at least a bit what people think of me.  I hate the idea of making someone feel bad or letting them down, even if by "letting someone down" I mean being a fraction of a second late to meet them for coffee.  But, I have given up on agonizing over whether people like me, which is an excellent development because it frees up my brain for higher purposes like deciding whether to grill or microwave my bacon or whether I should start wearing more hats.

It's not my business what a person thinks of me, and trying to force friendship on anyone only makes things worse. I'd like to think this lesson came to me because I'm maturing, but I think it has more to do with how cats react when I hug them too hard.

Sitting down without going "oof"

At what age did this become something I do??  I'm only twenty seven and I've already started making grandpa noises.  It's only a matter of time before I start standing in my doorway, shaking my fist and telling the neighbour kids to get off my damn lawn.

Getting up without saying "oof"



Much like with the drinking, this one's a bit hypocritical.  Am currently surrounded by the flotsam and jetsam of household crap that needs putting away/dusting/pushing under to bed to be ignored until I desperately need the thing and can't remember where the hell I put it so I have to go out and buy a new thing, only to find the old thing when I've already made the purchase of the new thing.  Difference is, mess never used to bother me.  It does now.  I'm hardly a domestic goddess (or anywhere in the hierarchy of domestic deities to be fair), but I can't relax when I'm surrounded by my own crap (as in stuff. I'm messy, not filthy).  I actually clean these days.  And sometimes... don't tell anyone... I enjoy it.

I know.  I know.  It sickens me too.

Welp.  I'll be off then.  Time to think about what I can drink tonight at Mr & Mrs Cyprus' home wedding do that will give me enough pretend confidence to attempt to force friendship on some more people, while I dig through a pile of clothes, looking for a particular pile of clothes within the pile of clothes.  I'd better get up now.


 Cyprus, take me back!  I promise I'll behave this time!

Monday, 19 October 2015

All the Wrong

My mum found my stash this week.   Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Nothing as cool as drugs or porn.  She found my stash of old photos that I've hoarded since my teenage years, and I'm so happy she did.  They're terrible!  I'd be embarrassed if it wasn't tickling me so much.  Look at the state of this pasty creeper!

"No, I don't know who stole the last yogurt and no, I'm not wearing a tent made from recycled bagpipes!"

...Cool hair, bro.

Naturally, I fell into a nostalgia hole.  I assume this is like a K-hole, but you remember more at the end and have less dribble on your clothes.

I wish I could share all the contents of my special box (heh) with you in all its beautiful, spot-ridden, angst infused glory.  Because who doesn't like a spotty, angsty box?  Like most people, I have mixed feelings about The Hormone Years.  School wasn't exactly a weekday party of coolness and sports for me.  I was an intense, stressed out introvert who avoided most social scenarios that didn't involve a gallon of the old confidence lube (ew.  Beer. Why couldn't I just call it beer? What is wrong with me tonight?).  I know, I know. Stark contrast to the Beyonce-esque, swan-like creature I am today. 
By swan-like, I mean white and prone to hissing when threatened.  Legend has it I can break an arm if I flap hard enough.  

Has a swan ever actually managed to break someone's arm?  Someone Google it for me.  I'm too lazy to click one tab over.  

As I was reflecting (giggling) upon my past, I couldn't help but think about what I would say to Teenage Becky if I met her now.  Maybe I would tell her to stop worrying so much about what people think of her.  Perhaps I'd break the news that she would stop growing at the age of fourteen and have to hang off bars by her elbows to be served in some pubs in her twenties.  Mostly I think I'd tell her that she is an idiot and wrong about things.  SO many things.  Here are some of the things that Specialpants McHormones believed:

1.  Dying your hair several different colours in the space of a couple of a few weeks will make it look cool and awesome.  You won't try to dye your hair bright blue, accidentally turn it grey-green and have to spend 3 days obsessively trying to wash it out.  Nor will you give up on that and then dump a load of Hyper Value's finest black dye on top of it.  The result?  See below: 

Also: Chinese dragon T-shirts from Tammy Girl will always be cool.  Everyone will be wearing them in 2015. 

2.  Yep.  Everyone cares so much about you that they're noting your every profoundly uncool move.  They are in fact judging you and only you, and not at all just getting on with their own shiny new internal chemical shitstorms while you paralyse yourself with anxiety in the corner.  Good logicking, narcissist!

3.  NOBODY loves your bands as much as you and your friends do. NOBODY!!!! They don't know all the words!  They don't GET THEM like you do!  GAH!! So many feelings!  I Wanna Fuck a Dog in the Ass by Blink 182 is about SO MUCH MORE than just sexually violating a pet (spoiler: It's not)!

4.  This? Cracking idea.  You can totally pull it off!  Even if it is upside down and looking a bit infect-y.

Look, but you can't touch, boys...because it's sore and I think I saw pus.

 5.  Exercise sucks and I will lose ALL of the weight EVER by going on the Special K diet with my mum.  Eating sawdust and pretend fruit in milk for two out of three meals a day is much more sustainable and fun than going outside in trainers and moving a bit.  Ew.

6.  Always trust a van of hippies at your friend's illegal rave in her barn when they offer you shots.  You are drinking a delicious minty substance.  Not alcoholic, herbal viagra. 

7.  This is an excellent look.  Much mysterious.  So goth.

Deep thoughts can be had when you're in mesh sleeves.
8.  You and your first proper boyfriend need to be attached at the face at all times, otherwise no one will know how much you LOVE EACH OTHER AND NO ONE ELSE UNDERSTANDS ANYWAY, WHY HAVE I GOT NO SKIN LEFT ON MY CHIN HAS ANYONE SEEN MY CHIN SKIN?!  

...To cut her some slack, though, teenage me did get the occasional thing right:

1.  This lot will be in my life til we're all in adult diapers, poking each other on whatever the future equivalent of Facebook is from our respective care homes:
I'm the one donning the helmet made of static...

2.  It is possible to stick the big cookie in your mouth whole:

Never be defeated by the big cookie, people!


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Run Like You Called Someone a Jogger

I gone and dunnit! I made it through the Lloyds TSB Cardiff Half Marathon with all my body parts still attached! Thanks to a couple of trips to Rosie the Magical Osteopath (still trying to cook up a jaunty jingle to go with that title), my foot appears to be my friend again.  It at least tolerated me well enough to behave during 13.1 miles of probably the second most enjoyable (first being Liverpool.  Takes a lot to beat a band on every mile and a medal that looks like headphones) long distance race I've ever done.  Two days after the event, which is usually delayed onset muscle soreness happy-fun-time for me, I can still bound up and down stairs without looking like I've pooped my pants or misplaced my kneecaps.  Hurrah!

You can't see it, but I actually jumped for joy then.  Because I can still jump! Yippee, look at me go!

My finishing time was 2hrs, 37mins.  About the speed I usually do a half in, give or take a few minutes.  Far from breaking any records but for once, I didn't care.  Like, at all.  My happy-go-lucky shamble (or if the official photos are anything to go by, 13 mile chimp impersonation).  Posture, Becky!  Posture!!) meant that I got through the event unscathed, and that I wasn't pushing myself hard enough to allow it to suck.  Why throw my money dollars at an event if I'm going to be wheezing, stressing and suffering through the whole thing?  I'd rather have actual, nice memories of things I've seen.  Not PTSD.

So, memories... Imagine you're a 5-foot-and-a-fart, pasty twenty something in shorts (with a case of mild chub rub between the thighs because Papa Johns exists) and come see the event through my eyes.. *mysterious hand waving*

The Start

I'm chuffed that my first ever longer distance running event back in 2013 was the Cardiff Half.  It properly set the tone for what I should expect from a race. The buzzy energy is freaking magical.  There are so many entrants that it's not unlike a festival.  Something ridiculous like 27,000 of us squished together to run Cardiff's streets together.  With all that lycra and plastic gear, I wouldn't be surprised if we gave off a lovely static glow. 

Suppose that's why the energy was so...electric...

Haw haw.  Anyway, look at our excited little faces! 

Oo-eer, lookit all 'em knees!

Owners of said knees, left to right:

Gareth:  Shaved off approx 15mins of personal best.  Threw up an army of WHOLE ENTIRE jelly babies at end of race, all with a smile on his face.   Warrior!
Sam: Ran her first ever half in a ridiculous time and left the rest of us trailing in her dust.
Me:  I do have forearms.  Picture just makes me look like an uncooked chicken.
James: Eats half marathons for breakfast.  Possibly because they don't have carbs (heehee sorry, James. Couldn't resist).
Arwel: Beast moded it through the half, setting the pace for Gareth (hence jelly baby incident), immediately disappeared after race for a cheeky Nandos. Fair one.

Ready, steady, AAAAAAAGH!!!

The Bloody Rowing Boat

When you're a long distance shuffler like myself, you get used to running alongside the people in fancy dress.  You can look at in in two different ways:

1.  You are the same speed as, or slower than someone who is overheating in a Tigger onesie/breathing in 13 miles of their own hot breath in a plastic Darth Vadar Mask/wearing full cricket gear; including the bat, helmet, shin pads and knitted jumper (all of the above and more have whooshed by me in the past).  This is depressing as shit and you wind up deciding that you are not a real runner.

2.  All the racers up at the front are only seeing other people clad in lycra, huffing and puffing after their PB or position on a pedestal.  You, however are in a fantasy land where Mario and Luigi are running right alongside a hot dog and bottle of mustard with legs, and people are sharing their sweets with you.  No hallucinogenics required.  It's all getting a bit Alice in Wonderland up the back, and it's awesome! 

I don't know about you, but I prefer outlook #2.  However...these two guys in one costume did take the biscuit (speaking of biscuit, I got through the whole race on a single digestive biscuit kindly donated by some church folk because the race ran out of energy gels.  No idea what was in that biscuit, but I think I'm using biccies for fuel from now on. Mmm Hobnobs).  Look:

Not content with passing by me just the once like most people, I counted at least...At least four times that this pair sailed (sorry, rowed) past me.  They kept being asked to stop for photos, which they politely did, all before picking the pace back up and cruising on by, like they do everything in tandem in their normal lives.  Seriously??  Fair play to them, though.  Running that far with an actual boat strapped to the pair of them must have taken some co-ordination!

Jesus Guy

Saw an article about this guy after the race.  Apparently they stopped him from doing this at the London Marathon this year, and this isn't the first time he's wheeled a MASSIVE crucifix over a ridiculous distance.  I'm not 100% whether he was doing it for charity or his own personal reasons, but!  I don't like carrying a bottle of water when I'm running, let alone a ruddy great big cross.  Applause to you, crucifix dude!

Never seen a cross wearing a bum bag before.
The Supporters

Anyone who has run the Cardiff Half would probably tell you the same thing.  The best thing about the day is the fact that the city's residents come out in droves to offer cheers and refreshments.  I nearly fell over with glee when I saw that the same retirement home as the one I saw in 2013 were sat in a big row outside their building waving signs again this year.  Best.  Supporters.  Ever.  Again, I enjoyed high-fiving small children as I went.  The home made signs were top notch this year too.  Couple of my favourites:




Zombies!  Run!

Got through 3 story "missions" (one which was a tad emotional and almost had me having a little cry in public.  Did the British thing by swallowing my feelings and buggering on) on my wonderful app.  Had to turn the zombie chases off after a point because there were just too many people around to get much of a sprint on.  Not worth clothes lining myself over, or trampling a poor unsuspecting runner.  The story mode alone made the race fly by.


Was lovely starting the race with the four smiling faces in the top pictures.  I may have lost them all within the first fifteen minutes because they don't run like the air is made of jam like I do, but crossing the start line in our little huddle and having a medal wearing gang waiting at the finish line to share experiences with gave me the warm and fuzzies.  If any of you are reading this, well bloody done, you speedy freaks!   Until next time!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Life Things

Whew, that was a long accidental hiatus! Didn't realise how long it's been since my last blurt at the people who live in my computer. Too many Life Things have happened to me at once.  I can only handle one Life Thing at a time, and even then I need a ring binder of lists to keep me from cry laughing into a fistful of cheese.

1.  Hoose

A and I are packing our belongings, uprooting our lives and upping sticks... to the house directly behind ours.  It's actually attached to ours.  And it's literally the mirror image of the house I'm currently furiously typing away in.  

  • It has a garden for the imaginary dog I nag A daily for.  The hours I work are too long for it to be fair on Future Dog, but it doesn't stop me from dreaming.
  • You can see the sea from it! And horses. And grass. And rainbows. And... more grass!  Essentially Swansea in a nutshell. 
  • It's decorated so much nicer.  Wallpaper and curtains and shit! Like what grown ups have!  I've managed to live in this shoe box for nearly four years and have successfully avoided making it look like anything other than a student hovel with a cat in it.
  • The landlords are much friendlier and more relaxed.  We won't have to hide the WalterKat, devourer of human flesh (see below), and they are refreshingly supportive of Mission Get-Becky-a-Puppy.  Shame A isn't quite so on board with my desire to acquire another household fuzzy to bully into loving me.

    "Hold still while I gum you to death, human subordinate!"
    2. Jerb
     I got a new jobby!  I'll be moving from my position as a call centre lackey and going back to being and all around office bod.  Disclaimer: This is going to sound sarcastic, but bear in mind that you're reading the words of someone who gets lady boners at displays fresh new notebooks in supermarkets. Mmm.  Was going to make a joke about Back to School Season being sexy, but that would be wrong on so, so many levels.  I like stationary, not youths in education.  
    ...Shut up, Becky!!  God.
    I can't wait to get stuck back into admin! I bloody love forms and files and notepads and pens and being busy.  The job I'm in right now is plenty busy, but it's hard to avoid clock watching when you are literally sat down answering questions with very few breathers in between.  I need to be doing stuff with my hands as well as my brain, and it's in a smaller, more tight knit environment.  I miss working with a little office fambly.  Just hope my new carers (colleagues! My new colleagues!!  What is wrong with me today?!) take kindly to an eager-to-help stationary obsessive.  "Pick me, pick me!  I brought pens in eighty colours!"
    3.  Ow + Ew
    I must have a long distance race coming up, because I have a case of both man flu (complete with death rattle cough and a face that feels like it's taken a punch) and the ouchies.  I got a bit too good at running away from Zombies on Zombies! Run! And have since been shuffling like one of the undead since I resurrected my marathon training ankle/foot injury.  I have the Cardiff Half Marathon to "run" next week, and have trained for it by doing next to sweet chuff all for a month.  Should be a breeze.  Pray for me.
    4. Fun

    Seen two bands (more if you count the support acts) live since you've seen me last.  I know. Cultured Woman of the World, me.  I've also discovered that I have a natural talent (for want of a better word) for beer pong, but that's another story for another time.  I don't want to go into detail.  I just wanted to segway that into my post to brag about it (suck it, Phillip!!)

    Anyway, bands:

    Foos!!!! There waaas....Royal Blood, Iggy Pop, cameo from Roger Taylor off of Queen and that bloke off of Led Zeppelin, a throne with Dave Grohl on it (!!!), Pat Smear constantly grinning like he'd been caught doing something naughty and chain smoking, Taylor Hawkins singing, two hours of dancing and screaming, "Break a Leg" merch in homage to Mr Grohl's recent "stage dive", smiles, a LONG drive home from Milton Keynes... etc etc.  No big deal, like. NBDee...
    Wheatus!!  This was my fourth or fifth time seeing these guys.  My sister and I couldn't get tickets to see them in Swansea and so we traveled up to Bristol to see them play on a bar/boat hybrid called Thekla (pretty cool, no?).  This was also the fourth or fifth missed opportunity I had and blew to speak to Brendan Brown (lead singer).  The band always make themselves accessible to their fans, and every single time, I chicken out of saying "Hi!" and opt for awkwardly staring anywhere but at any band member when they're nearby enough to chat to.
    Wheatus were the first band that I decided all by myself that I liked aged 13. First album I bought, first single, first gig (Radio One's Big Sunday in Morfa, back when Morfa was literally all fields and not shops..."Oy remember when this was aaaaall fields!").  I wore the bucket hat.  I coveted the glasses.  I recorded their telly performances on video.. Jesus wept, I'm old!  Anyways, because they basically shaped my taste in music (they have a lot to answer for.  Oof!), I experience abject panic and terror whenever I get within greeting distance of a band member.  Wussy arse.  Anyhoo, the band performed with pure joy as per usual - it's quite rare that you see a band who clearly would still be doing it if no one was paying to see them.  Maybe if I see them a few hundred more times I might grow a pair and say "sup?"  For now I shall continue to do what I do best and stalk from afar, sniffing my notebooks and window shopping on Gumtree for puppies.

    I leave you with this beauty from Gabrielle Sterbenz, who supported the band and is my new favourite person to listen to when I want to pretend I'm the star of an early noughties chick flick.  Byee!

     Gabrielle Sterbenz - The Breakup


Monday, 31 August 2015

Zombies, Run!

I love a bank holiday! This is my first year in a few where I've not attended Reading Festival, so I've been busily distracting myself to avoid coming down with a case of the sads.  

Le sigh.

Oh, well.  Busy month ahead of me!  Foo Fighters and Royal Blood in Milton Keynes next week (uh huh, much smug), Wheatus towards the end of the month (much love) and a 22 mile walking marathon mid September along the Gower Coast with Outcast Swansea (much...snacks? It's for Macmillan, so if you'd be so awesome as to sponsor us...?).  This weekend's come with plenty of ups and downs to keep me distracted while I've not been paying a billion pounds a pint and getting sufficiently mucky in my welly boots.  

It wouldn't be a British bank holiday without an ill advised night on the tiles.  Saturday night/the wee hours of Sunday morning were spent at Swansea Beer and Cider Festival and in my favourite sticky local Irish bar, Jack Murphy's.  All the best bars have sticky floors.  The more time I invest in my trainers, the lower my tolerance for booze plummets, so let's just say that just being within sniffing range of locally brewed (strong!) cider ensured that I ended the night as cock eyed as I began it. Believe it or not, this is the "before" shot:

 Much classy. So lady.

Sunday was meant to follow on in pretty much the same fashion at a friend's wedding do, but a stomach tantrum (seem to be getting a lot of these of late, but so far am choosing to ignore them as I suspect they stem from something delicious like cheese or bread.  No one's ever intolerant to muesli or liver are they?) meant that I had to miss out.  Plus side - no hang over today... Which meeeeans....running!

During a nine miler I attempted earlier on in the week, I decided that I hate running.  Hate. It.  It's uncomfortable.  I'm slow.  I'm bored and my butt hurts!  Whine whine blah blah.  I spent more time sulking and walking than actually running. After all the mileage I put in to get round Liverpool without my legs falling off, I've fallen fully head over heels back in love with CrossFit's short, sharp and shitty (in the best possible way!) approach, meaning that my brain's ability to endure runs upwards of an hour is now pants, and I have the Cardiff Half Marathon to get around in October.  Bollocks.

I know I'm fit enough to do half the distance I did back in June, so the problem was/is clearly all in my fragile little mind.  I needed to remind myself that I run for the enjoyment of it, not as a form of torture or simply a method of burning off some of the cake I eat.  So, I decided to turn it into a game.  Not like in Saw.  The sort of game where you still have limbs at the end.

I remembered an app that I tried on my phone when I first got it into my head that I wanted to learn how to run more than two miles in one go.  It was called Zombies, Run! and it cost me about £6 in the Apple Store (also available in Google Play). It plays out a story in which you're immersed in a post apocalyptic, zombie infested world and your job as Runner 5 is...pretty self explanatory.  You run around, automatically collecting things for your camp as you go and if you have them enabled, you occasionally enter into a zombie chase, where you have to put on a burst of speed lest you become a human jerky.  Actually, you just drop a few items and don't actually get eaten because it's  all pretend, but it bloody well got me going!  You hear the moans of the undead in your earphones, making it sound like they're close enough to give you a shoulder massage.  I don't think they want to give you a shoulder massage.

The reason I've waited so long to pick it up again is that the first time I tried it, I didn't bother to look up the instructions (which are pretty idiot proof, really).  I got so immersed in freaking myself out that I blindly ran out into traffic, terrified I that was about to be eaten.  Turns out I didn't even have chase mode enabled, so I would have succeeded my "mission" alive, even if I'd been lying down on the floor the entire time, face down in a bowl of Doritos.

I'm only a few episodes into the game, and I'm quite enjoying being the mysterious Runner 5, who has just appeared in the township and whose purpose is so mysterious that even I don't know what my own deal is yet.  I've had a crack at an interval run (one of the few different modes available outside of the story), which is made up of shorter bursts of speed, jogging and walking, and I've been using the items I've picked up on my travels to help build my little vitural town in the app when I'm not actually running.  My town has two playgrounds so far, because that's how I roll.  Now that I've figured out that you can choose roughly how often the zombies chase you (I've set it at about 5 times an hour) and how fast or slow you want the story to progress, I feel much less like I'm going to soil my pants and more like I'm actually having fun because I'm in control of the game.

...Though I still get nervous when I'm approaching an incline.  Hills may slow me down, but they apparently have no effect on the imaginary zombies' athletic ability.  Jammy buggers.

I ran seven miles today without the urge to walk.  Not even once.  It may be that I'm rediscovering the joys of running for fun thanks to this genius game.  It may be that I'm less concerned with my overall speed because I don't want to have a cardiac arrest when the next zombie chase could happen at any moment. I think I'm going to use that in future, actually.  I'm not slow.  I'm saving my energy so I can get away from the zombies when I need to.  

Happy weekend, and if you choose to have a bash at being a zombie evading badass like me, please read and listen to the instructions and stay the hell away from cars!


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fitbit is Life

Happy Sunday to you!  Happy Sunday to yoooo!  

I don't have any candles for you to blow out.  Maybe just blow on your fry up to cool it down if you are currently enjoying one?  If you're not, then I would like to know just what the chuff is wrong with you because Sunday is Fry Up day and your lack of greasy meats offends me.

Just kidding.  We're okay, buddy.

I'm in a good mood today, so I'm going to talk about one of my favourite things.  Data.  *Dorky snort*  As you are probably aware if you own a phone or a body (hopefully both if you are not a ghost), activity trackers are everywhere.  If you're interested, there are apps and electronic doohickies in overwhelming abundance that will happily track your every move, bite and snooze.  I'll admit that there is a creepy, Big Brother-esque undertone to the whole business, but personally I'm obsessed with having every little, insignificant thing I do tracked and fed back to me.

There are a bugger-ton of trackers on the market.  I've been into them ever since the  days of rudimentary pedometers the size of bricks that made you sound like you were dislocating your hip every time you take a step.  I even had one of the early health and fitness coach type Nintendo DS games that came with a slightly more subtle, but still pretty massive clicky-hip style step counter. 

I'm now a big, big fan of the Fitbit franchise and have been for a few years now*.  I've recently swapped my Fitbit Flex, which you wear on your wrist and sync with an app your phone for the even niftier Fitbit Charge HR.  Like the Flex, it tracks how well you sleep, steps taken, general activity levels in the day etc, but it also comes with a game changer for me - A heart rate tracker in the wristband itself.  No need to wear a stupid band around your ribs.  I suspect my Charge HR may believe that I'm dead today, as I fully intend to be as sloth-like as humanly possible.  I will move only for the Krispy Kreme I've been fantasizing about since I opened my eyes**.

I love having a fitness tracker for a bazillion reasons.  No time to name them all, so I'll just pop a few up:
  •  Being able to monitor how much/little I've done gives me a feeling of control over my own well being.
  • It makes my day-to-day life feel like a game I can win.  I enjoy victory.  Of course I'm going to pat myself on the back for every little thing I achieve.  You got out of a chair today, Becky?  Well done, champ!  Have a biscuit!
  • I am secretly a huge narcissist, and being able to see my actions broken down into pretty graphs and charts is a whole new, geeky level of vanity. And I LOVE IT!
 I've learned a lot about myself as a Fitbit user, so I'm going to share some that knowledge with you.  Right after I've run up and down the stairs three times to raise my heart rate.

....NOW WE'RE PUMPED!  Woo!  Let's get crackalacking!

Things my Fitbit has taught me

1.  I am a terrible sleeper

I already sort of knew this.  I often wake up feeling like I've been at an all-night rave, and I have punched and elbowed A in the face on more occasions than I care to admit while I'm off partying in the land of nod.  How he doesn't look like he's gone ten rounds with Rhonda Rousey (yes.  I am comparing my sleeping self to Rhonda Rousey.  Unconscious me ain't no do nothing bitch) every morning when he goes to work is beyond me.  Am grateful that he doesn't bruise easily, and that he doesn't ever feel the need to accidentally-on-purpose return the favour while he's "sleeping."

My Fitbit tracks how well I sleep by keeping an eye on how many times I move or get up in the night.  The graphs are easily deciphered.  Dark blue equals sleep/stillness.  Light blue equals movement/disturbed sleep.  Pink equals awake.  I'm just going to leave this image here...

  By day I fall over my own feet.  By night, I'm a freaking gymnast.

2.  I love tracking my heart rate.

I enjoy tracking my heart rate for two main reasons.  It gives me that extra nudge to get my ticker thumping at least once a day, lest it get complacent and stop altogether.  It's also quite amusing watching the kind of stuff that sets it off outside of physical activity.  My job is a sedentary, phone based one.  More often than not, the people I speak with are nice, normal folk who are grateful for my wise, wise wisdoms.  Very occasionally, as is the case with any telephone job, you get the odd person who seemingly enjoys trawling the phone book until they find a suitable conduit for their screaming.  Each to their own.  

I like to think I'm pretty unflappable in my work.  I had one of these calls recently and decided to poke at my Fitbit and have a nose at how my innards were getting on.  It was startling.  My voice was saying "Please thankyou, yes, no, I understand", while my heart was shouting


My heart is such a drama queen.

3.  I walk a LOT, even when I'm sat down.

Because I am a magician.  Actually, it's probably more to do with how much I move my hands.  Fitbits are pretty good it determining what's an actual step and what isn't, but when you talk with your hands (gesticulating.  Not with sock puppets) and fidget like someone's going to remove your fingers with pliers at any given moment, it's going to track a little extra movement.  Or in my case, a lot of extra movement.   

4.  I expect to be rewarded for everything.

Activity trackers allow you to set goals for everything from number of steps taken to number of hours slept.  It gives you a feeling of purpose. It also makes you become so accustomed to getting "well done!" messages for things like simply lying in bed for a given period of time that I now fully expect commendation for everything. 

I put socks on this morning.  Where's my damn medal??  

5.  Having stats for everything I do makes me feel like a cyborg.  

Pretty cool, no?  I don't have to wear a tin foil on my arms and a colander on my head to feel part woman, part robot.  Wearing a snazzy little plastic band with a chip in it is all I need.  Also, a tracker won't land me time in a padded cell.  Winner!
 I heart you, Fitbit (at exactly 81 beats per minute at this exact moment.  Subject to change). <3

* Not sponsored. Just obsessed.
** Still not sponsored. Just hungry.