#bookaday 6

The one you always give as a gift.

This one is more difficult as I don’t actually give the same book over and over again. Actually, I don’t think I have ever given the same book to more than one person.

I mostly give people books that they would want to read, rather than book I think they should read. I’d rather recommend them books that I like and let them make a decision about whether they want to read it.

That said, I do often go into bookshops and grab books of shelves and try and force people into reading them!

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In which Danni talks about depression, suicide and mental illness.

A note beforehand: This is a… Difficult post. I’m going to call it an opinion piece and not an article because articles require research and thorough fact checking and things like that and I just want to talk, so it might be a bit… Unstructured. I don’t intend is not to offend anyone at all so please accept my apologies if I offend you, and let me know if I should edit this to add anything.

I’m pretty certain that everyone/anyone reading this will be aware of the death of Robin Williams on Monday night; he committed suicide due to long-term depression.

We don’t need to go into any more details how. That’s not important. What is important is that we talk about it; that we talk about depression, that we talk about suicide, that we talk about mental illnesses, instead of sweeping it all under the carpet.

I read a… Let’s call it an opinion piece, yesterday that basically said that, and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the article again to quote it exactly, that his cause of death was depression. Not suicide. It’s not often we hear people say (or write) that. In fact, it’s not often we hear of people talk about mental illnesses at all. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs when the death of a famous person makes everyone sit up and pay attention to mental health. It’s something that is so vitally important so I don’t understand why people don’t… Treat it like it matters. And that’s not right . Depression is just as much of an illness as, say, cancer. Oh yeah, that’s right; I am putting them on the same level.

There is an image titled something like “what if we treated all illnesses the way we treat mental illnesses?” – actually there’s two. One here and one here. Nothing infuriates me more than those sorts of attitudes. The same as the people who think that you have to be able to see an illness for someone to have it – I’ve read people’s stories about how they’ve been verbally assulted in car parks when they’ve taken a handicapped space because they’ve needed it, because they have… Oh damn I can’t remember… They have some form of difficulty moving or something, but because they’re not in a wheelchair or because they look fine, other people assume that they’re being selfish or lazy. To the people who think that, I say: what is wrong with you people?!

I think it might be obvious that I agree with that opinion piece.

Why do I agree with it? Well. To the best of my knowledge, a person without depression of some sort: diagnosed or not, long-term or…. Oh, how to word it… Or recently reared (as it, it recently reared its ugly head) doesn’t really think about suicide much. I know that you have to  be in… A horribly dark place to think about that and an even darker one to actually attempt it. Your regular John or Jane Doe on the street probably doesn’t think about death at all unless they’re forced into it due to some reason or another.

Or at least, that’s what I think. As I’ve already said, most of the time you can’t see if someone has a mental illness. You can’t often see if someone is depressed. It’s not like they go around with a black cloud over their heads. It’s something that people very much keep to themselves because they feel like they don’t want to bother anyone around them with their stupid little problems; that they and/or their problems aren’t worth the wasting over people’s time with.

I have seen some, let’s be honest, frankly disgusting comments on the internet over the last few days, bringing religion and the devil into the discussion. I’m not going to touch that topic because it just makes me angry. Not everything is about bloody religion you know. I’ve also seen some “suicide is selfish” comments and that’s even worse because that is the exact opposite of what can go through people’s minds. Someone who is thinking about ending it all mostly believes that it would be better for everyone they know and love if they just disappeared. Or, they think that no-one would notice if they just… Weren’t around anymore. You don’t think about people missing you because you’re in a position where you think that no-one wants you around anyway; you feel invisible most of the time. Or at least, you can feel like that; it’s not set in stone.

I can almost guarantee you that at least one person you know has struggled with or is still struggling with, some form of mental illness, and it doesn’t just have to be depression. I think I personally know at least… Maybe three people. Maybe. And that’s only because at least two of them have been brave enough to talk about it, and believe me folks, that takes so much courage. It takes even more to turn around and ask for help.

To those with a mental illness: You’re not alone; you are never alone. It’s not your fault, you didn’t do anything to deserve it – you’re just wired a little differently and you can be helped. You can fight it and win. You are not a burden, please talk to someone when you need to. It’s not a bother, I promise. You are loved, you are wanted and you would be missed.

To those without a mental illness: I can’t tell you what to “look out for,” because it’s not that easy. I can’t really tell you how to help. I can tell you that you just need to be there as a listening ear if someone wants to talk (but a decent human being does that anyway) and that pushing people doesn’t often work.

Be a decent human being. Be there for people you know. Be there for people you don’t. Educate yourself. Educate others. Don’t dismiss mental illnesses; they’re not unicorns – they are much more common than you think.

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(Possibly) Unpopular Opinion Alert (Regarding Stationery and Spending)

Hello crumpets!

I hope you’re all doing well. I’m limping all over the place myself. I might slipped off of the patio last Thursday and twisted my ankle really badly. And I might’ve set the healing of it back a few days yesterday when I spent too long in town on my feet. Guardians of the Galaxy called though, and it’s not like me to not go and see a Marvel film. So today I hurt more than normal and walking is… Interesting. Worth it though. Guardians of the Galaxy was great, but I mean, what’s not to love? Don’t worry, I won’t talk about it too much – I don’t want to maybe spoil anything for anyone.

So! We’re in August. August! Where has the year gone?! I’m not sure that I like how fast time is slipping away. It makes me uneasy.

Speaking of the month… My boyfriend, Matt, is attempting a “No Games August” – that is, where he doesn’t buy a single video game for the whole month. Unless there’s one for a ridiculously stupidly good deal, but that’s a case by case thing. And he’s allowed to pre-order things. But other than that, no video games. It should be pretty easy, considering the fact that August is normally a pretty dry month for video game releases. There are some people on a Facebook group that I’m part of that are doing a “No Spend August” in regards to pens, ink and paper (I think). The boyfriend has one thing the other folks don’t to help him succeed at this – me. (Ha.) Nah, he’s got his eyes on a bigger release in September, so that’s okay. (Disney Infinity 2.0 – Marvel Edition. I’m so excited it’s not even funny.)

I admire these people, I do. It takes a lot of self motivation and determination and will-power to do something like that. I’m not entirely sure that I, personally could (especially not in August because, because to school/college sale and because it’s my birthday at the end of the month). I should give it a go at some point though. Not that I buy much stationery at the moment anyway. The last thing I got was… A cheap (like £3) Japanese fountain pen. I think. (Which reminds me; I’m gravitating towards Japanese pens at the moment, especially those cheap ones. I don’t know why but I love them.) I could always give it a go in October I suppose. But… Life’s short and stationery makes me happy, so denying myself that little bit of happiness seems a bit… Strange to me. But! More power to those who can do a “no spend” month.

On the other hand… I don’t think I go particularly crazy in regards to stationery spending anyway. I mean… I read the posts in these Facebook groups and people are like “oh, I just spent $100 on stickers and washi tape even though I already have loads” (because, naturally, most of the people in these groups are American). And I’m just like… Are you crazy? One hundred dollars? How??? How can you do that?

Before anyone says anything – I am very aware that it’s their money and they can spend it however they like. But on things like stickers and “dollar spot” sticky notes (that are well documented to be of bad quality anyway), especially when these people have previously said they have a stash or more than they can use in a lifetime? Especially if some are just “too cute to use?” That is another mindset that I don’t understand at all – they’re just things, just use them? If you want to keep something that’s pretty, why don’t you keep one aside, make a scrapbook or something? Or, and here’s an idea that just came to mind; photocopy/scan a bunch of the cute things, then you can print a dozen to a page or something and make your own again later on? (That’s actually not a bad idea now I think about it.) But it’s like… Why go and spend so much money on those terrible quality sticky notes when you could get some that actually do the job they’re supposed to do like, oh I don’t know, actually stick to things? And if you’re gonna go and spend $100 anyway, you might as well get something that’s worth the money? What about quality and not quantity?

If I went and spent £100 on a bunch of stuff like that, whether I had the money freely available or not, Matt would kill me because there’s so much more that I/we could do with that money. (Not that it’s up to Matt how I spend my money, but I do talk over a lot of large purchases with him, because, well, we’re a couple and we do that.) And, he would be absolutely right. I would probably really regret wasting my money that way afterwards. He knows me much better than I know myself most of the time. An example of something I could do with £100+? A new graphics card for my computer, which is actually something that I’m looking into for my birthday this year. And I’m having enough trouble stomaching how much a good quality one is going to cost (it’s a lot of money for a girl who doesn’t normally have very much, and who’s never really had a lot of money in her life, so yeah £100 is a hell of a lot of money to me.) But! It’s a one time purchase and I won’t need to upgrade my baby (my computer) for a good couple of years after I get one. At least, not for the stuff I use my computer for (basic gaming and whatnot – I’m not really a hardcore gamer so there’s really no need for a custom build.)

I am the first to admit that I might have an excess of some stuff. Specifically notebooks and pens, so maybe some people would consider me a bit of a hypocrite. While I don’t think I am, maybe I’m wrong.

However, I’m not saying about my notebooks “oh, these are too pretty or too cute to use” – because I believe there’s nothing sadder than an empty notebook. I am using them, it’s just taking time. (Actually, I have cut down on buying notebooks. I just make them instead now out of all the paper I have lying around. It gives me something to do and I make the notebooks so thin that they’re easy to get through anyway. Besides, I could always sell those ones if I felt like it/if anyone wanted any. But! I’m using what I have. And actually, I’ve slowed down on the fountain pen and/or ink buying too… Hmn. Anyway, that’s a digression.) But, I’ve still got my timing down to using maybe a notebook a month. Sometimes a notebook and a half, sometimes two but that depends on the thickness of the notebook. Either way, I am actively using them, and have been for about three years. It may not look like I’ve used many (I finished notebook 48 last night) but if you look at the amount of words in each one (like I do) – that’s a heck of a lot of writing. By hand. As for the pens? That’s much easier; I’m actually doing pretty damn well with using those up. I’m not looking forward to all the biros I have to use, but I’ll get there. My goal is to get to the stage where my fountain pens outnumber all my other pens. Or at least, so that the numbers are a little more even. It’s very doable; I know it is and I’m getting there.

It’s taken me a fairly long time to “get over myself” and just… To get on and use some of the prettier ones. Admittedly, I’ve put aside a handful of the really nice ones to use as journals instead of writing notebooks, because I think my thoughts deserve them. Even if all my thoughts are a bit rubbish. Like I said, it’s taken me a long time to get over myself and think “screw it” – to get to the point where I can write in anything. I don’t expect that to be easy for everyone and it’s certainly not a cake-walk for me, but it’s much easier than it used to be.

Anyway. I just… *waves hands* I don’t understand stuff sometimes, you know? This is certainly not meant to offend or… Whatever. I’m just thinking out loud and posting my thoughts onto the Internet, which I suppose isn’t the wisest idea in the world, but, hey! What’re you going to do?

Hopefully back to something less… Essay-ish next week!

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#bookaday 5

One that doesn’t belong to you.

Could be a few but thought I’d pick the most interesting one

This is my mums copy from secondary school in the 70s so I hate to think how many copies it has sold now!

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Things I have learnt from #OneBookJuly2014

For my other post on the subject, see here.

I know, I know – it’s not quite over yet. I’m still sticking to the rules until the 1st, I’m just wrapping up my thoughts a little earlier.

So! Here we go:

~ I can’t stick to one A6 page a day. Sometimes I write more, sometimes I write less. So, as much as I love the Tomoe River Paper, the A6 page-a-day Hobonichi will not work for me, with its pre-printed/dated pages and all that.

~ Although, upon saying that, I really like the smaller size.

~ I don’t like only having one pen. I think I could deal with only using one colour, or one type of pen (for example, Gelly Rolls), but there have been a few days where I’ve been really frustrated with my poor Kakuno. Or, maybe I just need to use a pen that’s not practically brand new, a pen that has had all its teething problems smoothed out.

~ I love grid paper, I really do, so why I’m not being as… Artistic in my A6 book as I was on the plain pages of the inserts I was using in my Midori… I don’t know. It might have something to do with the slight frustrations I have with the pen that I’m using (which is SO temperamental.)

~ I think maybe the size prevented me sticking in anything more than a strip of washi tape; I feel like maybe I didn’t want to take away my… Writing real estate? I’m not sure. Or maybe I just didn’t have anything to stick in!

~ Speaking of washi tape; I quite like using pre-cut strips to break up my days of writing. I think I’ll continue doing that.

~ I do feel like I write less when I use a smaller size? I’m not sure if that’s got anything to do with the size, the temperamental pen or the time I do my journalling. (Although, I don’t think the time has anything to do with it because I write at about roughly to same time every day and I have done for… A good three or four months.) I will have to work on that. Though my money is on the pen, because I think I’ve been writing less when it’s been so damn annoying to use.

~ I actually got through more pages than I initially thought I would, so that’s not a bad thing.

And, I think that’s it!

Two questions remain; what am I going to do with the book I was using? And; would I do it again?

Well, I’m going to continue using the book I picked up for it (maybe not the pen though), because I hate to leave a book unfinished – it really rubs me up the wrong way. Besides, I might write more than a couple of pages at a time if I change my pen. That’ll be the next thing to experiment with.

Would I do it again? Sure I would. Hell, I might even go smaller next time. Maybe, Passport Midori sized? Or maybe go a tiny bit bigger and use a Personal sized Filofax. I do know one thing; I would have to pick my pen a little better next time.

What about you guys? Would you do anything like this? Did you take part? If so, how did you get on?

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#bookaday 4

Least favourite book by favourite author.

This was rather hard as I don’t have one favourite author but settled on something that kept coming back.

What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe.

I just remember thinking it was horribly convoluted and unrealistic and I’m sure I hated the ending but don’t quite remember. Doesn’t help that my copy has this hideous cover.

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An Unexpected Discovery: the Parker 45 Flighter (I think)

Slight warning: Bit of an unstructured read today.

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I don’t know exactly where I got this pen. I think it came from my mum; she must’ve given me a pencil case and said, “you can have this and everything in it.” It might’ve even come from my grandfather/her father. I don’t really know. All I know is that I did not buy it myself. I found it in the pen roll/case thing I keep most of my fountain pens in, pulled it out, cleaned it up and then did a little research on it.

Apparently, it’s a Parker 45 Flighter – the UK version (due to the lack of a black bit on the end? I don’t know). It does have “made in the UK” stamped on the lid as well as a “45” and “Parker” with the little logo. There’s no mistaking that arrow shaped clip though. I’m not sure exactly how old this particular one is, but I think Parker started producing the Flighters in 1964? But, I think this particular one is from the 1970s. Again, I’m not sure, so feel free to correct me if you know.

Let’s see. It’s about 136mm when it’s capped and… just under 130mm uncapped. According to the research I’ve done, it’s “brushed stainless steel with a 14ct nib and gold trimmings” (that’ll be the clip and the ring around the black plastic grip section). The nib is a Medium on this one. It’s in pretty good condition actually. You can still see the “brushed” part of the stainless steel, but it’s got a few little marks on it. As one would expect for a metal pen that was kicking around inside a pencil case alongside who knows what.

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When I was given it… Or when I re-found it, there wasn’t a cartridge or a converter in it, but that’s no big deal to me. I have a lot of cartridges and a couple of the Parker converters kicking around. Because it’s a fairly old (to me!) pen though, I think I’ll stick with Parker cartridges.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t expect to put the cartridge in, give it a minute and then for it to work as soon as the nib touched the paper. Not with how long this pen had been sitting around, unclean and unused for (a long time. A very, very long time. Easily more than five years. Probably more than seven.) To be honest, I didn’t expect it to work at all, but after a couple of minutes holding the pen nib down and after a couple of gentle dips in water, the ink started flowing. Paler than it was supposed to be, naturally due to the water, but it was working.

Man, using it was a struggle though. I was writing on the Arc paper from Staples and I had to keep going back over my letters. Only a couple of letters at a time though, not whole words or anything. But it seemed to be struggling considerably, thus making the writing sample very difficult to get through. So, I tried it on some cheap printer paper. That worked like a charm, so I don’t know. Maybe it’s to do with the coating on the Arc paper, maybe it’s because the pen hasn’t been used in donkey’s years and needs awhile to get going.

I am really sorry for my utterly horrible handwriting in this, by the way. It’s even more terrible than normal.
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Can I blame the pen for being… Disagreable? I don’t think I can at this point in time – mostly because I literally stuck a cartridge in and wrote the samples with it – I didn’t use it for about a week or so like I normally do. I personally think that as soon as the ink starts flowing through the feed a bit more, it’ll work just fine. And if it doesn’t like more expensive papers? That doesn’t bother me – not every piece of paper I write on has to be Rhodia or Clairefontaine or whatever. I have plenty of paper that isn’t.

I’m surprised I own this thing, to be honest. Well, actually, no. If it came from my mother or my grandfather, I’m not. My grandfather is the type of man to use a fountain pen, and my mother is the type to pick up on her dad’s habits. Plus I think fountain pens were just… The things you used, when she was at school. It seems like the sort of pen he would’ve given her, and she’s the type to pass things down to me so, no I guess I’m not surprised I’ve got it. That is, if it came from my family at all. I think it did; I’m not entirely sure where else it would’ve or could’ve come from. But! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I’m going to put it through some more vigarious use soon and then I’ll see how it does, but if I can only use it on cheaper paper, that’s no big deal – I care more about where it came from. I really am more of a sentimental kinda gal.

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