i have adventures (sometimes)

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Republic of Heaven

19:02 Posted by Ali , , , 1 comment
“He meant the Kingdom was over, the Kingdom of Heaven, it was all finished. We shouldn't live as if it mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place.... We have to be all those difficult things like cheerful and kind and curious and patient, and we've got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in all our different world, and then we'll build... The Republic of Heaven.”
- Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass


The first few times I read His Dark Materials were in my Christian days, and as a result I (perhaps wilfully) missed out on the central humanist message. I reread the trilogy more recently, and the concept of the Republic of Heaven is so beautiful that it moved me to tears.* 

This Easter, I'm grateful for the freedom I've found. I'm grateful to be the subject of no kings or gods. I appreciate this life and this world and the people in it more now than I ever did before, and I'm proud to work towards building the Republic of Heaven.

*Or it would have done had I not already been sobbing because Philip Pullman hates happiness.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Latin Camp Vincit Omnia


When I was at university, I did a lot of Latin. It was cheaper than drugs, and I've never been very interested in drugs anyway. People would hear we had a Latin club and say "Oh, so you dance?

... No. That is quite a lot cooler than the Latin we did.

And now some of my best friends are my Latin friends. And we really are just about as nerdy as our shared hobby suggests.

Team Latin at Victor and Arlene's wedding, 2010.
The last time we went on Latin Camp was nearly three years ago, when Anne-Marie was adventuring in Japan and before Andrew and I moved to England. This was also back when we could all still remember our Latin well enough to illustrate Latin prepositions.

In aquam.
In aqua.
Picnicking prope rivum.
And then we got scrambled to the corners of the earth: Justin to Cape Town and me to York and Andrew to Oxford and Robyn to... Honeydew. And we forgot our Latin and things changed and life went on. But with four of our gang of five at last back in the same city, we decided it was time for Latin Camp: The Sequel.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A Very Pink House Birthday

This weekend was my birthday! I like being 24, because I prefer even numbers to odd, and I really like numbers where one digit divides exactly into the other. So all in all, a good age to be. I do feel like I should be more of a grown up than I am, so one day I'm totally going to learn to iron. I'll put it on my list of things to do before I'm 30.

Obviously, the only other things on my list are:
  1. Be kind
  2. Have fun

As it was also the birthday of two of my housemates and we only moved into the Pink House last month, we thought it would be a great idea to have a BirthdayBirthdayBirthdayHousewarming Party.

This, right here? This is the kind of thing I always do. I decide that throwing a party is the best and most exciting idea I've ever had! And it will be amazing! But then the party itself gets closer and closer, and the full weight of what I've done hits me.

I've invited PEOPLE. SO MANY PEOPLE. What if they get hungry? What will I feed them? What if there aren't enough drinks? What if no one can drive home? Can I just pile them all on the sofa? What if they all hate one another? What if they get bored? Seriously, will they be hungry? It'll be ALL MY FAULT.

So I gradually transition from "This is the best idea I've ever had!" to "This is the worst idea I've ever had!", and by the time the guests arrive I have to be dragged out from my hiding place behind the sofa to let them in.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A Week 2013

18:27 Posted by Ali , 6 comments
It's A Week!

My friend Chris has blogged about it here, but here's the general gist, according to the Facebook page:
The idea of ‘A’ Week is simple - to raise awareness of how many people are ‘Good without God[s]’ and don’t need religion to influence their lives.
So that's it in a nutshell. All you have to do if you want to take part is change your profile picture to an A for the week of the 17th to the 23rd of March.

These days, I hardly meet anyone who believes in a god, at least in the traditional sense. That said, I know that when I was a Christian, I remember finding atheists... unsettling. "Atheist" seemed like such a strong and scary word. It was one thing to be kind of fuzzy about religion - it was quite another to be that sure that there wasn't a god.

Obviously, I know better now. As do most people. But I think there's still something to be said for standing up fairly quietly and reminding people that atheists are actually just quite ordinary people whom you know. We're not amoral baby-eating monsters. We're your friends and family. (Hello!)

As Chris pointed out in his post, there's also the advantage of reminding socially isolated atheists that they're not on their own. There really is a world outside religion, and we're doing ok out here. (Hello!)

So this is me, letting Facebook know that I'm good without gods. I'm not by any means perfect, but I'm always learning, and I'm living my life as best I can.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Freelancing Woes

Internet, I'm sad. And when I'm sad, I like to tell you about it.

Freelancing is turning out to be not a lot like stock photos would have you believe. It's not all happy skinny white ladies in well-organised home offices.

"Look at me! My room is so colour coded and I'm so fulfilled!" (Source)
"I'm not even pretending to work!" (Source)
"This isn't even a job!" (Source)
Right now it's more like this.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

On Body Shame

Hey, let's talk about body shame! FUN!

(Warnings: This post contains maybe-triggery references to food and weight, non-wizard swears, and a picture of a cartoon naked lady.)

Caveat: I am a thin-bodied person. I once had a friend say "When I hear skinny girls obsessing about their weight, all I hear is 'I don't want to turn into you'." It's had a big impact on how I talk about weight and body image, but I don't necessarily always get it right. What I'm trying to do here is not say that fat is bad and scary, but rather talk about my own issues and the collective issues of our bullshit fat-shaming society. I'm sorry if I get it wrong, and I'm open to being corrected.
Fat Pony noms on body shame. (Source)
As predicted, I didn't do all that well in the fitness test. Whatever. But it stirred up a number of issues that have been gradually making themselves known again the more I pay attention to my food and exercise. Although I did surprisingly well in the general fitness and strength tests (even the push ups!), I came away focusing on the failures, like you do. But what's most telling is which failures. Arguably, I should be much more concerned that my flexibility was below "Poor", because if there's ever a hamstring emergency I'm just not going to be able to pull through and zombies will eat me.

And instead I came away obsessing over my body fat percentage being too high.

Oh come on.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Game Face ON

17:35 Posted by Ali , , , 3 comments
Some of you may know that I'm a little bit competitive. I know, big shock. It's not that I can't stand losing - I really can cope with that (except when it comes to 30 Seconds). I just really really like winning.

Do you want to play? Do you want to play RIGHT NOW?
Which is why joining Discovery Vitality has suddenly made me care about things like my health and fitness. Or rather, the points I can get by acting like I care about those things. You mean I get to level up if I do all sorts of mundane health-related tasks? My game face is ON.

My game face is just one of the reasons people sometimes won't play games with me.