Cold, wet and pushed for time

My blog has just congratulated me on reaching 20 posts. Which I thought was pretty considerate of it seeing as I had made no mark of the occasion whatsoever. I am sure a feeling of celebration will hit me any time later, but right now I am slightly preoccupied.

For a start, I realised only yesterday that I had to do three blog posts by today. Blogging is now part of the Creative Writing learning curve. As is Twitter. Only last week, my stepdad said I should be doing more to publicise my blog. I always post it on Facebook and, I clearly said to him, I really couldn’t be bothered to get Twitter just to advertise my writing. The next day came and guess what my Creative Writing lecturers had asked me online? Not only that, but I have been advised to do two Tweets a day. So if anyone’s interested: Grace Liu – @CREWgraceglsl.

Secondly, I am fully drenched and frozen to the bone. This is one of the setbacks to commuting. A half hour walk to the train station, followed by another walk to uni must have seriously tested my immune system and my hands’ resistance to frostbite. Did I mention that it was raining hard enough to soak through my jeans, blowing enough of a gale to make it hard to walk and even snowing?

Finally, my hand is still recovering from a cat restraining attempt gone wrong. Basil (see August 26) and I had a bit of a disagreement the other day – in other words, I thought he should be firmly picked up and put outside for aggressively chasing Bouncer and he disagreed. And my hand suffered multiple scratches and bite wounds as a result. I felt like a kid again, standing in the bathroom with Mum dabbing my hand with TCP and warning me that it would sting. But hey, it gave me something to put on Twitter.

So it is now 12:40 and I have successfully done three posts! Time for lunch, methinks…

Delight is…

Having said that I will use my blog to both improve and publicise my writing, I have just managed to find a piece I did last term for which I had to change tack at the last minute. This is a personal essay, and had to be titled “Delight is…” so here goes:

Delight is the first morsel of delicious hot food after two hours of sweat, smoke and sliced vegetables in the kitchen, which now looks like a culinary bombsite. Well, first you do the courteous thing of getting out the dishes and serving up a generous portion for every other person eating; it almost goes without saying. Then you simply sit at the table and begin to eat.

For me, the moment of delight comes with being able to sit down, relax and enjoy the results of my hard work. Don’t get me wrong, a tasty meal on an empty stomach is never to be sniffed at. Yet somehow, there is still that extra bit of something – a subtle addition to the flavour, perhaps – to a dish which you have burnt your hand, stained the work surfaces and toiled against the clock for. It all starts with the preparation. Pasta and tomato sauce? I waste at least half an hour with that one stepping away from the chopped onions, looking as if I have been crying hysterically. Chow Mein noodles? Do try not to leave them in that pan of boiling water a minute too long or you will end up with stringy Chow Mein porridge. Bean burritos? In my family I have to remember: meat but no cheese for my sister, chopped vegetables but no meat for Mum and a little of each topping for my stepdad. Me, I like spice. Extra chilli, sliced onions, lots of black pepper, maybe even a little garlic. Perfect.

So you scrape out the last remnants of warmly spiced sauce from your dish. You turn towards the kitchen, bracing yourself for the state in which you have left it. And then comes the last moment of delight: the family all rise from the table and get to work on the spattered work surfaces, the sink full of dishes, the spare ingredients lying around near their proper places, while you…you get to help yourself to seconds. Chef’s privilege.

For this personal essay we had to come up with topics that bring us (wait for it) delight. My first choice was something like “having a really deep conversation with someone that gives you a lot to think about.” At first I thought this was deep, philosophical and interesting, however on hearing other people’s delights, such as “cycling” and “Robert Pattinson” I felt that mine was more nerdy and pretentious than anything else. So I settled for cooking. Because the outcome of cooking is food, and food most definitely brings delight.


Introverts, extroverts and the social world we live in

At university, I have been advised to be as sociable as humanly possible. Which brings me to this post’s main topic. I’ve noticed this year that many others of the Christian variety seem interested in aspects of personality, particularly the introvert v extrovert scale. I still don’t fully understand why, I’m sure there are spiritual reasons behind it, but for some reason this has rubbed off on me. Well it’s complicated and geeky so why wouldn’t it?

One link that inspired me to write this post is this: I came across it while procrastinating on Facebook, and it brought to mind how the concept of introversion v extroversion has become one of the latests “trends” on the internet (internet trends really are weird, aren’t they? I mean, LOLcat pictures, Gangnam style and introvert v extrovert wars…sorry, I digress.)

Anyway, as the article says, extroverts are the social types who gain their energy from being around people, while introverts find socialising draining and need regular time alone. I have mixed feelings about this article’s depiction of introverts.

For a start, I can definitely relate to the feeling of interaction being “expensive” and having to “recharge” when feeling drained. This may have become apparent to my parents on days when I would get home from school/college and, when asked how my day was, would just say “fine” before retiring to my room, only coming up with a more detailed account a few hours later.

Or in hindsight, this might have shown when, as a child, I would go into a quiet room to read during my own birthday parties. I don’t know. I also fully agree with the statement: Introverts get lonely, too! I spent a lot of time at school feeling both socially drained and lonely; it is not a good feeling.

What I disagree with is the bit about extroverts being “obnoxious predators”. In the social world it is the extroverts who do better socially, on the internet these days it is introversion that seems to be coming into fashion. My response to that: what is the point? We live in a world of trends, and however introverted or extroverted you are, you can’t fully change such a basic and fundamental part of your personality because the world says one thing and the internet says another. Besides, I know many extroverts who, I’m fairly sure, aren’t obnoxious predators. Or if they are, I clearly haven’t noticed it yet.

Another thing that bugs me is how the article implies that introverts need to be interacted with, and generally treated, in a special way. I know I am guilty of not responding well to small talk and keeping to myself when I could be talking, but that is for me to deal with – if I want/need to be more sociable I can, ditto if I really do need time to myself. As for “saying hello, being polite and relaxed and not pressing for gossip” – is that really introverted interaction, or just general good manners? No that wasn’t a rhetorical question, I’m really not sure.

Just a thought.