Posted in Mental Health Talk, Regular Feature

Springbreakers – March newsletter

Here we are nearing the last few days in March and things are both awful and pretty okay in equal measure. The world is a cesspit with real life war raging on in Europe and honestly, things are almost too horrible to comprehend. While I stand with the Ukraine and will do my small part to help, I know my head in the sand approach to the news is a luxury many just don’t have, and I recognise it.

Throw in the cost of living crisis, which is terrifying, and it sometimes feels like there’s no good left – which is the perfect time to take stock I suppose. What I want to know though is where are the roaring twenty twenties we were promised? I’ve been hanging out for Gatsby-fication of the world post-COVID for a while now.

In the meantime, here’s what I’m grateful for, thinking about, doing and loving this month.

Max’s 1st birthday and thank god for family

My nephew turned 1 last weekend and it was lovely to be part of his big day. Obviously babies don’t give a fuck about the meaning of the day, so it’s more a celebration for the parents. As a (fucking delighted) non-parent, I can’t imagine how it must feel to have created life and kept it happy and healthy for twelve whole months. It’s definitely worth shouting about.

I know I’m completely biased but my nephew is a sweet angel prince and I adore him.

It actually sucks we live so far away from my brother and his wife. I’d give anything to be able to pop round for a cup of tea after work with Maddy – and of course be there to see my nephew grow all the time. But then I guess the way it is now makes family time even more special and anyway, they lived in Hove a few years back and we still saw them the same amount, guess it’s called having our own lives.

As I get older I do fantasise about moving away from Brighton. I don’t know where I’d go and I’d want to stay on the coast. Maybe Hastings Old Town? I can see myself trotting around that area looking bomb AF. I doubt this will ever happen but sometimes I think it would be nice to start over – and be closer to the fam.

Office space

Work are trying to get us back into the office in a hybrid capacity after exactly two years (for me) of working at home in my underwear. I’m coming round to the idea of returning to the working world – and I know it will be good for my mental health – but it’s still a lot to adjust to. Two years of being out of the rat race (sort of) would have been unfathomable before all this happened but it’s funny how quickly you can get used to something. And now I’ll have to get used to two days a week in the office.

I know I’m incredibly lucky to be in this position so there will be no moaning coming from me. Well, until the most minor of inconveniences on my part. In general work news, I’ve said before how I feel more comfortable when I’m flying under the radar. I’m not one for pushing myself too hard but apparently I’m doing something right at the moment and that freaks me out! My first instinct is always panic and doubt in my abilities. I can’t imagine being someone who doesn’t have imposter syndrome, imagine being like “Yeah I can easily do this, no sweat”. Mind-boggling.

Out and about

It does feel good to be going out to dinner with friends and seeing films again. Dressing up to go out is important to me and makes me feel good – so I’m enjoying myself. Equally, I enjoy the down time afterwards and will still always see the bright side when someone cancels our plans.

It’s also nice to actually be doing little things for myself again like going for regular trims and getting my nails done – something I will have to pack up very soon when I stop being able to afford the non-essentials. Talking of essentials (LOL), I have a tattoo consultation in place tomorrow with my regular tattooist to start our next project and an appointment for the 9 April for some work from a new artist. Which is just exciting – and what I spend my well-earned annual bonus on. Irresponsible with money, me? Never.

Also, how nice is it when the weather’s pretty? I can’t stand the heat but I do like a warm day and having a garden is pretty sweet, even though it need a lot of work.

In other news, here are my entertainment highlights of March:

TV/Film/Book of the Month

Book: Gerald’s Game

Frankly I have no choice but to nominate this one as it’s the only book I’ve read over the last two months. I reviewed it in full here. Tonight the We Three Kings book club are watching the film version. I’m not sure I’m ready for the trauma again tbh but at least once we’re done I can put this to bed forever.

Not sure what our next Stephen King will be but I’ve currently got Revival and The Institute queued on my Kindle – and I also got Later on my physical pile. Which reminds me I also have the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood novel which would make a good companion piece to Later.

I’m looking forward to getting back into reading this year.

TV: Love is Blind – Season 2

While not nearly as spicy as the Australian Married at First Sight (which was scandalous), I recently fell into this and quite enjoyed myself. The premise is unbelievable really – 14 or 15 single men and women talk to each other through a wall and fall in love the old-fashioned way, without seeing each other. When they eventually ‘fall’ they have to propose to their chosen ‘one’. If that person agrees they get to see each other for the first time and then live together for a month before getting properly married or… not. With mixed results.

Of course not all of them stick and they’re the most fun ones – who doesn’t love the drama? It is cute when it works out though.

Film: The Batman and Ti West’s X

I couldn’t choose between these two so I nominate them both. The Batman is a stonker of a movie, both in terms of enjoyment and in reference to its mammoth runtime. No film should be almost three hours long honestly, even superhero movies and Robert Pattison’s bat odyssey is no exception. That said I really liked the return to a more detective-style Noir Batman who enjoys a great working relationship with Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and rocks a more EMO aesthetic.

Zoë Kravitz‘s Selina Kyle (by day) and The Penguin (Colin Farrell) are, respectively, so much fun but I think we can safely say the main antagonist, The Riddler (Paul Dano) steals the show. I’ll let you process this one for yourselves but I had a blast and remain excited about the evolution of this iteration of Gotham City and it’s fucked up inhabitants. The teased new version of The Joker is pant-wettingly exciting too.

Meanwhile in 1979, we join a small crew of optimistic porno makers as they embark on a fresh new shoot called The Farmer’s Daughters. I guess they must not have heard any negative press about Texas because they head to an isolated guesthouse in the country to begin filming. Guests of elderly couple Howard and Pearl, who have no idea what their intentions are, they’re eager to keep a relatively low profile. Which doesn’t work out real well for them, unfortunately.

I loved X which stays true to traditional horror tropes while injecting some real freshness into the genre. This is movie is probably best described as bizarre and probably not in the way you’d expect. Mia Goth plays both sexy ingenue Maxine and the elderly Pearl – and honestly, this is one of the best performances she’s given to date (and she’s incredible in Suspiria (2108)). At the same time Scream’s Jenna Ortega and Brittany Snow bring their A-games and close up the holy trinity to perfection. One of the most exciting things about this film – besides the unexpected turns, genuinely funny dialog and gore – is that Ti West has already filmed the prequel, Pearl about the lady herself and it looks and sounds wonderful.

I really think the last few years have been very cool for horror and this is yet another hit for A24, the ‘thinking person’s horror producer’. Kidding, I hate the term ‘elevated horror’ but it is true that they’re the connoisseur of intelligent, visually stunning horror and horror adjacent goodness.

Anyway, that’s me for March. I’m looking forward to April – and slowly coming back to myself. It feels good because I’ve missed me. LOL.

What are you up to?

Posted in #onewomanbookclub, Books

Gerald’s Game book review

The We Three Kings book club chose this one as their new year title and… there have been mixed feelings. While we don’t meet until this coming Monday to properly discuss it – and watch the Mike Flanagan movie adaptation – I still wanted to review it for the blog.

I’d really like to focus on reading more now this one’s under my belt and a quick glance at Goodreads shows me I’ve only read two books out of my 35 book goal – which looks like I have to do a book a week until the end of the year. Sure, Jan, I’ll get right on that.

Anyway, to this story. It’s a doozy.

A game. A husband and wife game. Gerald’s Game.

Gerald’s Game

But this time Jesse doesn’t want to play. Lying there, spread-eagled and handcuffed to the bedstead while he looms and drools over her, she feels angry and humiliated. So she kicks out hard. Aims to hit him where it hurts.

He isn’t meant to die, leaving Jesse alone and helpless in a lakeside holiday cabin. Miles from anywhere. No-one to hear her screams.

Alone. Except for the stray dog that smells her blood, the voices in her head which begin to chatter, and the board which creaks stealthily at nightfall, signalling that something or someone else is close by.

Author: Stephen King

*No intentional spoilers*
TW: sexual abuse, gore, animal cruelty

First of all: UGH. Secondly, when I shared on social media that I was settling down to this, two women I know messaged me separately to say this was by far the hardest Stephen King book they’d ever read – and that they’d never go back. In addition, Matt (of We Three Kings) decided to respectfully opt out of re-reading it, although he’ll be part of the discussion and film screening. Now I’ve finished I absolutely understand all those comments and decisions.

It’s a lot.

The fact it took me several months to read just over 300 pages is very telling. I may have mentioned this before, but my favourite place to read is soaking in the bath. These days that’s the only time I really read – and if the book isn’t one I look forward to, I’m less likely to make time to do it. Like anyone. This was well-written and a good story but its subject matter is heavy and unpleasant – and I dragged my heals for two months.

Jesse is married to Gerald, a lawyer, who has a new favourite sex game which involves police-grade handcuffs. More than willing to spice up their sex life to begin with, Jesse is starting to regret their joint decision to take an impromptu trip to the couple’s holiday home by the lake. No longer into the handcuff play, Jesse expresses her doubts to an overexcited Gerald, who seems oblivious to her reluctance. Or is he pretending he hasn’t noticed? This thought scares Jesse deeply and she lashes out, which leads to a very unfortunate series of events which could cost her her life. Or at the very least, her sanity.

When she finds herself cuffed to the bed with a dead Gerald on the floor next to her, Jesse has no option but to try and get out. But the house is so isolated and honestly, things aren’t looking good. Or so the multiple voices in her head would have her believe. As the good wife version of her psyche battles with the voice of her old best friend Ruth and the ‘real Jesse’, it soon becomes clear that getting out of this sticky situation might be the least of her issues. And when “The Space Cowboy” shows up, things take even more of a turn. Will she make it?

Well, I won’t spoil the book here but I will say that Jesse has trauma from her childhood that rears its ugly head as soon as she finds herself alone. While she’s spent her life turning her head from a specific incident, the course of her life has definitely been influenced by it. Is she ready to face her demons? I mean, is there another choice because I’m sure we’d all gobble it up if there was. Alas, this is Stephen King’s story and he’s not one to take the easy way out – and what follows is a battle of wits (mostly against herself) as Jesse focuses on getting the fuck out of Dodge. With time ticking against her and a hungry stray called Prince stalking Gerald’s corpse for dinner, it’s a bad scene all round.

Again, I have no issue with the story, the setting, Jesse or the way this book is written. King as always nails it all – it’s just so icky and the subject matter is really hard to stomach. I love the flashback format and the use of the multiple voices in Jesse’s head. I really identify with that inner struggle (Jesus, I recently read that there are people who don’t have this, which is wild to me). Jesse reflects on a friendship gone sour, her marriage (also not in the best shape) and life ambitions – I actually felt excited for Jesse’s next chapter after Gerald’s death. I mean, if she could only get free…

It’s just not a lot of fun and that’s the bottom line for me. The issues of Jesse’s life are very human and King does a good job of framing these as just as terrifying as the boogeyman who lurks in the shadows, if not more so.

Genre: Horror
My score: 3/5
Pages: 332
– First published May 1992

What are you reading?