Before I start, I just want to put it out there: I have insane brain fog from my first week of keto. On top of my usual brain fog of course. Or perhaps mixed together, who knows? Either way, I’m basically floating from one thing to the next at the moment. However, I do want to write more, and keep things recorded, in spite/because of this.
So first of all, I want to share a band I’ve been listening to that I randomly clicked on YouTube; Far Caspian. I’ve never heard of them before, don’t know anything about them, and these days I prefer to keep things that way, otherwise I find it colours my view of an artist. But they’re so chill, and worth a listen.
Something I’ve been doing while ironing is watching this English TV show from the 90s called Escape to River Cottage. Another thing I’d never heard of, but it’s strangely addictive. I find myself paying keen attention, in case I miss a tip I will probably never use (like how to make the best of rabbit roadkill, butchering your own self-raised pigs and using every – and I mean every – part). It’s a cottagecore/farmcore dream, and if I were more able-bodied, I could actually see myself doing it someday (“it” being acquiring a small holdings farm in picturesque countryside with lots of traditions and neighbours to trade with). I think a big part of why it’s so compelling is because of the whole community coming together and doing seasonal activities for their livelihoods and enjoyment. And you can see everyone gets immense joy out of their everyday lives, whether it be from raw nettle eating contests or diving for hand-picked scallops. It’s something I feel is very disconnected from modern (urban) life; to be able to talk and work together with strangers so easily and trustingly, unselfconsciously or socially awkwardly, and being ‘all-in’ on everything you do. Something I’d love to do, despite my energy levels and introversion.
I guess it’s all part of the same theme. With living in a small town that I haven’t even begun to explore yet, I’ve already had to take on actual gardens and gardening, and started growing my own potted kitchen garden (in fact, my first strawberry just sprouted!). I like to do my best in all situations, and so I suppose I’m garnering tips from everywhere I can, leading to a sharper interest in things I was already drawn to.
If you have a look at my Tumblr, you’ll see it’s full of mainly cottagecore photos, alongside fashion and things I find cute or interesting. I don’t know why, but I’ve done a 180 from my tastes growing up, (edgy, post-hardcore kind of stuff) to craving a simple, good life. I want peace and quiet, no drama, I want my little family unit to be kind and supportive, to be healthy, and to be based around a haven-like home we create together. Compare that to wanting to be a self-destructive rockstar, I suppose the catalyst was realising that I was, in fact, sick, and not just lazy or moody, as a lot of people kept telling me. Whereas before I wanted crazy highs and lows, now my biggest dream is stability. I want comfort and simplicity. And that’s my weird segue into Ghibli movies.
Studio Ghibli and Studio Chizu have created the perfect goal posts for this kind of lifestyle. It’s like a more wholesome, better moral-of-the-story version of Disney cartoon fairytale. Not only are their stories layered, bittersweet and compelling, but the imagery and illustration style used is whimsical and beautiful. They can take the mundane and make it look fantastical, and it makes you realise the beauty of your everyday surrounds. That is a pretty incredible feat for modern life. Making an achievable life attractive and desirable, I mean, instead of wishing for your American Dream, or becoming a Princess. It’s a much more healthy goal, and is absolutely tied to my perspective as someone who will never be able to do as much as is pushed on everyone as desirable, and ‘the hustle/grind/get that bread’.
Having said that, I’ve been revisiting some of my old favourite Ghibli movies lately, and realising there are more that I never even knew existed. B and I’s first date was at a screening of a Ghibli movie I’d never heard of; The Castle of Cagliostro, and every year we watch it for our anniversary. I’d become somewhat less enamoured of Ghibli movies than I had been when I first saw them, but now I’m starting to get in the right mindset for them, I guess? Re-watching Pom Poko for example, was much better than the first time I watched, when I found it tedious and confusing. This time, I almost shed some tears at the end, and really appreciated the artwork that went into the scenery.
If you haven’t seen Pom Poko, it’s a quirky story about Japanese racoon dogs (Tanuki) in the 60s, when their habitat is being destroyed. They use their apparently well-known ‘pouch’ magic to resist. I strongly suspect at least a couple of Wes Anderson films were based on the structure of this lesser known 90s Ghibli product, particularly in terms of the narration and surreality/casual ridiculousness. Like a lot of these kinds of movies, environmentalism and a Japanese Shinto outlook is a core part of the narrative; of taking care of and respecting the natural order of things and your environment. Just as good for kids as adults, and often without the heavy saccharine overtones of their western counterparts, I highly recommend trying any of them. Just to prove it fits the kitschy 90s era pseudo-Victorianism I talked about in my previous cottagecore blog, Ghibli released The Secret World of Arrietty a few years ago, based on The Borrowers – a staple of my childhood TV.
Next, I want to watch The Cat Returns, which I’ve never seen, followed by one of my faves, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and of course, Spirited Away. Not only have we been watching Ghibli films lately, but also another 90s mainstay for me; The Storyteller*. I have no idea what this nostalgia is about at the moment, but it feels nice (that comfort thing again), and I’m going to see where it takes me. I’ve already picked up cross stitch as a hobby – perfect for when I physically can’t do anything else, but still want to feel productive and have something tangible I’ve accomplished.
[*Did you know there’s a re-make in the works with Neil Gaiman? I can’t wait! I hope it lives up to the kitschy, creepy physical effects vibe so synonymous with late 20th century children’s shows]
I’ve started playing Zelda on 3DS, which I never played as a kid – video games are for boys, don’t you know? – and started Assassin’s Creed Origins. How the heck have I not played it before? It’s definitely my cup of tea. I’ve started connecting with more EDS/chronically ill people through Insta, (which I use more than anything else for social media, so follow me there if you’re interested!) with the view to form more of a community. Andd… I can’t think of what else I’ve been up to, apart from working freelance as much as I can, and trying to figure out how to self-publish the books I’ve been writing. Which is extremely difficult, btw!
If you have any suggestions for games, movies, TV, or books that you think I’d like, don’t hesitate to share! Although I can’t do too much, I love connecting with people. I’ll also have to get around to posting about my trip, but I never seem to have enough time versus energy versus dizziness/overheating lately. So fingers crossed, keto will, as it has done in the past, improve a lot of symptoms and I can get down to it asap!
Ta ta for now,
P.S. Oops! I just remembered. Because of above-mentioned brain fog, I find I can’t do something I used to do voraciously, which is read. No matter how interested I am in something, I find I’ve been reading the same paragraph over and over after a couple of minutes, without absorbing anything. Which is why audiobooks are a godsend. While I’m doing anything else, I can be listening to a book, and I’ve been going through them super quickly. The last one, which I highly recommend, is The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. He is one of my favourite authors, (he did write my favourite book after all, Coraline), and this is another of his best, in my opinion, of what I’ve read by him.
Another nostalgic/Ghibli themed series has been several audiobooks by Diana Wynne Jones, starting with Howl’s Moving Castle (later made into a Ghibli movie). I actually prefer the book, but stumbled onto it because I found the movie a little meandering and confusing, which made me suspect there had to be more to it. Like all her stories, it’s a little bittersweet, contains some harsh realities and unfairness, and is addictive.
P.P.S. A book I really enjoyed by both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, is coming out as a show on Amazon in May! I seriously can’t wait. From the trailer, it seems like it’s got pretty perfect casting (although I did picture Crowley from Supernatural as the Crowley in this story, too – but David Tennant certainly seems to capture the essence of the character from the trailer) and hopefully it will live up to book readers expectations (although that’s always a loaded thing).
P.P.S.S.(?) Another book series I adored as a kid was Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, and that’s being made into a movie by Disney! Although the commentary from fans sounds pretty negative already. So, we’ll see. I don’t have high hopes, but sometimes that can work in one’s favour.
Okay, now bye, for real!