I felt mildly depressed during January. This is not unusual for me, but I think I handled it better this year by increasing my levels of self-care and resting a lot.
I finished three books: Joanna Russ’s On Strike against God (1980), Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Anna Akhmatova’s Selected Poems (trans. D.M Thomas). The Russ and the Austen actually complimented one another quite well, what with both being angry, funny books about the lives of women. On Strike against God is astounding. It’s a revelation of a book and has convinced me to give The Female Man another try. Anna Akhmatova’s poems are wonderful and terrifying.
I had a lot of other books on the go in January. I couldn’t decide which of my recently purchased Mammoth Books of Science Fiction to start, so I just started them all at once and am now about halfway through them. I’ve almost finished Elizabeth Bear’s short story collection, Shoggoths in Bloom and Ian Tattersall’s Masters of the Planet: The Search for our Human Origins (2012) (ignore the macho title, this is a quiet, thoughtful book about how we got to be who we are). I’ve also been reading Rodney Smith’s Stepping out of Self-Deception: The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching of No-Self (2010), which I’m finding helpful and alarming in about equal measures.
I re-organised all my playlists and (according to Last fm.) I’ve been listening to a lot of Feist, Erykah Badu, Throwing Muses, Mazzy Star, Garbage, Joy Division, Arcade Fire, and Regina Spector. If I had to pick a song to represent January, it would probably be PJ Harvey’s ‘The Big Guns Called me Back Again’.
I really liked the gothic ‘lady in distress’ thriller The Spiral Staircase (1945). I was disappointed by Dracula’s Daughter (1936) which, entertainingly unsubtle lesbophobic subtext aside, was quite boring. I enjoyed the science fiction dystopia of Logan’s Run (1976). The film is a little overlong and the ultimate message super-conservative, but Michael York and Jenny Agutter are watchable. We also watched Jurassic Park for the first time in years and found it fucking terrifying.
I haven’t been watching anything very consistently in January. I caught a few episodes of Neil Oliver’s documentary series Sacred Wonders of Britain (2014) and A History of Ancient Britain (2011). I’m interested in the topics, but I also find Neil himself very appealing as a presenter. I think it’s his hair and dress sense.
I ate a toasted ganoush wrap at a local cafe which was absolutely amazing and had a very good lunch at a German deli. We cooked a tasty stew with sauerkraut which has already been mentioned in another post. The surprise success story was a recipe called ‘Barley with Spinach and Ginger’ from my ancient Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Vegetarian Cookery. We made it to use up an old packet of barley. It has about four ingredients and its worthiness caused Andy to call it a “pot of lesbianism”, but it was surprisingly delicious.