10 Things You NEED to Know as a New Vegetarian!

Hi, Friends!

An alternative title for this blog post could be: 10 things I wish I knew before going vegetarian.

So. You’ve decided to eat less meat, or cut out red meat, or only eat fish. Or you’ve decided to go vegetarian, completely. Or, you’re  going vegan – much to the dismay of everyone in your life. If you are joining us who don’t eat animal flesh, read on, dear Cupcake, because there are some things you really need to know.

1. Vitamin B12 is important.

Not taking a vitamin B12 supplement as soon as I stopped eating meat was one of my biggest mistakes. That is why this is the first, and probably most important thing that you need to know if you want to stop eating meat. B12 is the only vitamin/mineral that you cannot get from eating a vegetarian/vegan diet. This is because it is a protein-bound vitamin that is made by bacteria and is therefore typically found in meat products (reference). B12 can be found in fortified foods, such as cereal or some brands of almond (or non-dairy) milk.

The supplements are relatively inexpensive, and are best taken in the morning. This is because B12 is heavily linked to energy levels, as well as other things such as iron levels (reference). You can also get your B12 injected in a compound Vitamin B injection. How often you need these is dependent on your existing B12 levels – normally every 3 or so months. Unfortunately, you do need a prescription to get one of these injections – so ask your doctor next time you go.

I had blood taken at the beginning of the year ago to test my vitamin B12 levels, even though I do supplement my diet with an oral B12 supplement. My levels are above average (yay!). I am going to continue with an oral supplement and maybe get a jab when I need an energy boost.

2. Iron is important

Meat is a huge supplier of iron to our bodies. But there are so many plant-based sources of iron that are much healthier for you. Iron is especially important as a woman. You know, because we do that monthly bleeding thing. And I know that that is a lot of iron lost that could be used in my body. Iron absorption is inhibited by things like caffeine, but aided by things like vitamin C (find out more here). These are things that I didn’t know. Most vegans and vegetarians can get enough iron through these plant-based foods, but some of us need to supplement. I have been slightly anemic for as long as I can remember, so I take an iron supplement 3 or 4 times a week at bedtime. I take my supplements at night because apparently vitamin fatigue is a thing (find out more here and here).

3. Other people will tell you their opinions

Especially the people close to you. Some people will be supportive of you (thanks especially to my Mom and Dad!) and do their best to help you in your veggie journey. Some people will panic, and not know what to feed you (I have a pinterest board full of recipes). Other people will question you relentlessly on your motivations. Others will simply be curious. Some people will tease you, either lovingly, or less so. I’ve lost count of mealtime conversations where someone will justify their choices for eating meat. Not specifically to me – but I know that I’m the odd one at the table.

With that being said, I am very grateful to my family for accommodating my vegetarianism and making sure that there is something that I can eat. I have always been willing to bring my own food, but they have been wonderful and making sure that I do have food and I have enough to eat.

4. Eating out

Have you ever had chronic menu indecision when eating out? I used to, too. Now, your menu choices will be rather limited. But I find it so much easier to decide what to eat when my choices are so limited. I decide what I feel like, salad, or pasta, or whatever, and just look for the veggie option! So easy! There are also so many wonderful veggie food choices. Salsa and Roco Mama’s (and other DIY food places) can easily accommodate for vegetarians. Indian food, Chinese food, and Thai food all have wonderful and delicious options with no meat.

5. Your food creativity will improve!

If there is anything that I’ve learned in the past two years, it’s how to make tasty, healthy vegetarian food. There are so many exciting things to eat that don’t involve meat substitutes, or tofu. If you need some inspiration, I have over 1000 vegan/veggie recipes on my food Pinterest board. I normally pick a type of food (Italian, Thai, etc) and make a meal following that theme and using spices typical of that type of food. And one thing you have to do as a veggie is spice your food. You can even put meat spices on certain types of food, as the spices do not contain any animal products, yay (double check the ingredient list to double check)!

6. Your energy levels will change

Some people find that their energy levels drop dramatically when they stop eating meat. This is usually because they are not eating enough veggies and carbs to make up for the calories. Meat is much denser in calories than anything else, so you need to eat more of the other stuff to fill in the gaps. Alternatively, some vegetarians have so much more energy because digesting meat using up so much of our existing energy. I personally have more energy than I did before (providing I get enough sleep) and I usually feel light and satisfied after my meals instead of heavy and sleepy. I find that carbs, and most fruit, are very healthy ways to boost my energy instead of straight up sugar.

7. Your digestion will change

I bet this one scared you a little bit. But it’s not a bad thing! As I said earlier, digesting meat takes up huge amounts of energy. So when you take meat out of your diet, digestion doesn’t take as long and you absorb nutrients better. There is also loads of fiber in fruits, veggies, and carbs, so going vegetarian will help your digestive system to be more regular. You might not be as organised as Sheldon Cooper, but you can be assured that constipation will be in your past (yes I went there #sorrynotsorry).

I’ve also had issues with a very finicky digestive system in the past. I tried going gluten-free, cutting out dairy, a colon cleanse, everything. After going vegetarian the only things that my body doesn’t tolerate well are excessive amounts of dairy, too much sugar, and garlic. So I know now that happy intestines require minimal amounts of those 3 things. So chocolate is something that I need to get rid of. As for the garlic, its because I’m a vampire.

8. Veggie food can be unhealthy

There are so many yummy vegetarian things. Macaroni-cheese, doughnuts, jelly tots, ice-cream. There are just as many unhealthy vegan things. Did you know that Oreos are even vegan? The thing that all of these have in common is that they are not good for you. When cutting out meat, you need to make sure that you are substituting with loads of fruits and veggies, and healthy carbs. Heavily processed carbs and dairy are not good substitutes for meat. It’s very easy to grab a Woolies mac and cheese if you’re in a rush, but the best thing you can do for your body as a vegetarian is to actually eat vegetables. Lots of vegetables, with things like beans and grains to give you a complete protein.

9. You will save so much money

When my parent’s braai, they often buy ribs at a ridiculous R150 odd for a kilogram. With R150 I can buy 3 cans of beans, 2kgs of rice, 1,5kg of bananas and R50 worth of assorted veggies and fruit. That’s a huge amount of food. Meat is expensive, and dairy is expensive (R100 for a block of cheese at Woolworths. Really.). So by cutting these things out of your diet, you will save so much money. Especially when eating out at restaurants. The average veggie dish is about R60-R80, while meat dishes at a good restaurant can start at R80 and go up from there. There is even a place at WITS where you can buy a tub of curry and rice for R12. Can you tell that I’m a regular there? So if you’re in the mood to save some money – cut down on your meat consumption. Start with one meal at a time. Meatless Mondays are a good way to cut out some meat in a non-drastic way, and will save you money.

10. You will make a huge difference to the world around you

You thought that I wasn’t going to go here, didn’t you! Fooled you! Anyway. Going vegetarian or vegan is one of the best things you can do for the environment, and for the animals that we farm for food. Vegan is the ideal, but that’s not always possible to do straight away. It’s okay to go vegetarian first and then slowly cut out eggs and dairy.

Each life saved is a life that you do not have on your conscience or in your karmic cycle. Some of you might have the mentality that “the animal died anyway”, but the meat industry only produces so prolifically is because of the demand. If we, as consumers, decreased our meat consumption – the producers would have to lower the amount that they produce to avoid losing money. And lives will be saved. 2017 has shown that the awareness for vegan/plant-based eating is growing and companies want to cash in on this. “Vegan” is said to be a huge trend for 2018, which is great for the awareness. And many people who try veganism as a ‘trend’ end up making the change permanent – so please jump on the bandwagon.

I see all animals as sentient creatures worthy of sharing the world with us. Even pigeons, as much as I don’t enjoy them. I don’t see my dogs as any different from a pig – except in fluffiness. This isn’t to say that you’re a bad person if you see cows as food and cats as not. It just means that your mindset hasn’t changed from what you were brought up with. There is still time to change that – if you want to. My goal here isn’t to be preachy to non-vegetarians, but to provide valuable advice for people who already are vegetarian or are considering making the switch. The final point here is that I’m not trying to shame anyone for their choices. You do you, and I’ll do me. If that doesn’t line up – that’s cool, dude.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, there are quite a few things that you will need to research before you decide to cut meat/animal products out of your life. And that’s because eating that way is not the “normal” way of eating. So, learn from my mistakes and do your research in the first few months of making this change. I hope that this has inspired many of you to cut out meat and animal products from your diet. If this made no impact on you at all and you want to keep eating animals – please consider starting with a Meatless Monday. It really does make a difference.

I hope that you enjoyed this, and make kind choices!

-Domz

2017 Mid-Year Goal Review

Hi, Cupcakes.

I set some goals at the beginning of the year, and now that we are halfway through June, I think that it’s time for a check in and a reflection on the year so far.

2017 has been absolutely crazy. This has by far been one of the busiest and craziest years in a long time. I feel like each day has been going by very slowly, but in the long run, it’s actually speeding by so quickly. It’s already June. I swear that last week was Easter. So much has changed in my personal life since the beginning of the year. And there are more big changes coming in the future.

1. Continue doing yoga 5 x a week

So far so good. There have been a few weeks that I just have not managed to get to my mat as much as I would have liked, but that’s okay. I’ve been really good for most of the year so far, and I think that is reflecting in my life and in my body. I’ve stopped using YouTube videos to lead me through the class, and am now doing poses and moving based on what I feel my body needs at any given point. My biggest body issue is my back, and I think I need to start including more strengthening poses and stuff to work on my core. But so far I am really happy with my progress in this goal.

2. Get into the splits

Easier said than done. I have really improved on my hamstring flexibility, but I am not much closer to the splits. Luckily I still have 6 months left in the year to accomplish this, and I think that if I push myself to do the stretches I need every time I’m on my mat, I can get there. It’s all about consistency, which is something I think that I can push further.

3. Unsupported headstand

So close! I can now support my own weight for about 30 seconds without falling over, but my issue is getting up there without using the wall to stabilise myself. I’m going to do more research on different ways to get up to a headstand without falling over because my butt is heavy. I also think that working on more core strength will help me with this goal. As soon as I manage it, I will post something on my personal Instagram, which has basically become a yoga Instagram.

4. Start a consistent meditation habit

I started off really well in about March, but then I fell off the waggon. I even bought myself a meditation pillow! I just need to sit down and meditate every day. I’ve seen how good it is for me, it’s just very difficult for me to find the right time of the day to get the maximum benefit. I also need to let go of the idea of ‘perfectly’ meditating, because there is really no such thing.

5. Reach my savings goal and manage my money well

I have now met 2 savings goals so far this year. And I am really proud of myself and how hard I’ve been working. I’ve been keeping needless spending to a minimum, and I even did a No-Spend Month in May. My new problem is now that I am battling to let go of my money and treat myself. I want to buy a few things to treat myself and reward myself for getting through this last semester and working so hard – but I’m finding it really difficult to let go of that money. Even if it is something that I really want. So I have set a new savings goal, and I am also trying to change my mindset with regard to money. Because what is the point of earning so much if I don’t treat myself occasionally and make it all worthwhile?

6. Work smarter

I think I’ve been doing this half-way. There have been some points where I’ve had to bribe myself to work, and other points where I have just given into procrastination. And that’s okay, I never claimed to be perfect and I never want to be perfect. In terms of making money working, I have been choosing jobs that have a high financial pay-off for my time. There are other jobs, like tutoring, that pay less but give me more satisfaction for the work that I’m doing. This is definitely something I want to re-focus on in the new semester as I have a huge research project (thesis equivalent) to do!

7. Read 50 books

I am currently on 34/50. Which is way better than I was at this point last year. There are so many excellent books that have come out this year so far that I am planning on devouring during the holidays, because I know that my reading will slow down in the second semester.

8. Start piano lessons

I have started! In the beginning of the year, I had a lot of motivation and did some piano lessons on YouTube. But then when the semester got busy, I put piano aside. My intention was to find a piano teacher so that I would have to do the lessons to get my money’s worth, but I realised that this isn’t enough of a priority for me to find an actual teacher. I do plan on re-doing those lessons in the holidays and getting back into it.

9. Grow my blog and social media

This has not been going too well. Because I don’t make money off of my blog and it’s more of a personal project than anything else, this was one of the first things to fall away when I got busy. And that’s okay. The purpose of this blog is for me to have fun and share my thoughts. I probably could really start to turn this blog and my social media into a small business if I really wanted to and if I put in the effort. But my priorities right now don’t line up with that. Which is okay. So I am happy to post when I want to and when I feel motivated.

10. Take more photos

This has been very mixed. I just got a phone upgrade, so I have so much more space on my phone for taking photos (and memes) but I have not touched my camera in months. I just don’t feel the urge to photograph right now, which is actually really sad. I am finding other ways to be creative in terms of my art, so I have been neglecting my poor camera. This is something I really want to change, especially in terms of my polaroid camera. I have so much film, and I’m going to make one of those polaroid display thingies like the hipster that I am.

11. Make the art that I want to make

Finally. It took me 6 weeks of messing around in the first Semester to figure out what I wanted to do – but I am finally making the art that I want to make. And I have a strong concept for my work that is making it so much stronger. I never thought that I would be working in such an abstract and chance-based way, but it’s working for me. The scale is working, the medium is working, everything is awesome. And I finally feel like I’m making the art that I want to make, and that makes my lecturers happy.

12. Improve my marks

I have been doing this! My writing has been steadily improving all year and that is reflecting in my essays and in my marks. I am also on track to improve my Fine Art mark, which was the biggest thing that I wanted to improve. I have a whole new semester to work hard and pull my marks up even more, so I am going to do that.

13. Get my degree

Less than 6 months left…

14. Keep journalling

This hasn’t been as good as I would have liked. I am battling to sit down and make time to write everyday, or at least a few times a week. there has been so much happening that I just tend to focus on the events and what happened instead of the more daily things like feelings and thoughts. I know I need to work on this, because I usually feel better if I do write regularly, because it gives me an insight into my own head and my own thoughts. I’ve been journalling my tarot spreads as well to keep track of that – and it’s really helping.

15. Stay organised

If I wasn’t organised I would have had a breakdown by this point in the year. By writing everything down and keeping myself on track using my planner and to-do lists, I think I have saved myself a lot of stress. I need to keep it up!

16. Go on more adventures

This has been a goal that I’ve been battling with, in all honesty. There are some things that I consider to be adventures that other people consider to be completely mundane. But there have been a few little adventures throughout the year so far. But I think that the Universe has been holding out on me, because from the 18th I am going on a huge adventure that will be very challenging and very rewarding. I am going to have to grow up a lot in the next 6 months and I will be making my own decisions about everything. I will make a point to include more little adventures in the next few months, but I think this big change is already a huge adventure.

17. Grow

I have grown as a human in the past 6 months. The changes I can see in myself have been very small and gradual, but I can see the changes. I can see these changes mostly in my writing, especially in my journal, and in my art. But as I said in number 16, I am going on a huge adventure and I will have to grow up a lot in the next while. I can see the challenges that I may face, and I am ready to take them on. Sometimes change is big and scary and feels irreversible. But I feel like change is a good thing, because without change – we do not grow. I am looking forward to my reflection at the end of the year to see just how much I have changed and grown as a person.

Conclusion

So far, so good. There are a few goals that I have been slacking on, and other goals that I’ve either achieved or am succeeding at. And all of that is okay. It’s only June, so I wasn’t expecting to have achieved all of this already. I also think that I may have been a little bit over-ambitious in my goal setting. 17 goals is a lot of goals, so I think I might be only setting 8 goals next year. Much more reasonable. Anyway. I hope that you are all on track for your goals. Feel free to follow my journey on my social media to see how I do during the rest of the year.

Be kind to yourselves

-Domz

Thoughts About Thinking: An Experimental Essay

Hi, cupcakes.

(Just a warning, this is going to be some deep stuff. I’ll be including images and artworks and some of them might be a little bit “weird”. But that’s your call. Trigger warnings: depression, associated mental health issues.)

(source)

(I’m sorry for the meme. I saw the opportunity and I took it. The rest of the images here will be way more serious. But who doesn’t like to open up with a joke?)

I know in my last non-bookish post I spoke about priorities and how I was going to focus on university and looking after myself after doing a priority shift. And I think I’ve managed to do that. It’s been over a month since my last post, and I can safely say that I’ve been doing just that. I’ve made some pretty cool stuff over the last month (keep an eye out for that post!), and I am actually proud of how much time has been going into my degree.

As a part of that degree, I do a course called “Critical Theory and Visual Culture” and it has really been changing my thoughts and opinions on everything. Especially thinking. I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking, and how thinking works – hence this blog post. It’s got to the point where I can’t really read anything, watch anything or see anything without thinking about how I can view this thing objectively from my position in the world in order to analyse it and make a judgement. I am almost always looking for what is problematic in the texts or how I can apply certain theories that I’ve learnt throughout this degree. Because that’s basically what critical thinking IS. I might be wrong too, because judgements are always opinions, no matter how objective we would like to appear. Alas.

We exist in a spatiotemporal context and we exist in a societal context. Everything that we have experienced has lead us to the mental space and thought patterns that define us right now. So, without further ado – here are some thoughts about thinking, brains (and how they work), and criticality.

Included in this post will be some texts and images and references that I find interesting and relevant. Feel free to follow the links and go down the rabbit hole of thinking that brought me to this post. Or not. You do you, dude.

Sohrab Hura (Source)

 

The brain is one of the least understood organs in the human body. But that’s not going to stop us from trying. There are myths that state that we only use about 20% of our brain’s power and that tapping into that potential is what will empower us to improve as a species (an example is that Limitless movie). Other theories say that we already use most of our brain, and that it is impossible to use all of it at once.

The general feeling is that our brains are separate from our bodies, and that the body is a glorified “meat suit” in which our consciousness resides. But this is not the case. The fact that we are alive and conscious is a result of many thousands of biological functions occurring seamlessly – often without our realisation. We do not control our heartbeat or how our thyroids function. Our consciousness and our brains are subject to the same chemical and hormonal functions as the rest of our bodies.

It has also been argued that the brain, and thinking, occurs in most parts of the body outside of the cranium itself. An example of this is this man, who was born without a technical brain, yet continues to live a happy and productive life. There is also a reason that we are told to ‘listen to our guts’ – it is believed by many that the stomach is the second brain of the body. I think this is fascinating, as a huge part of my own personal journey has been to reconcile and remove the barriers between ‘brain’ and ‘body’, as the two are part of the same thing – organised by the chemical processes that help us to exist.

Antione D’Agata (source)

The fact that we think is literally the result of a combination of hormones, chemicals, and electricity. Your brain reading and processing and understanding what I am writing is an example of that. Hell, me writing this post is a result of these biological processes. Writing about writing and thinking about thinking. This is getting really deep. And the point that thinking is related to biology means that when something goes wrong, our thinking patterns are literally altered.

This is why some of the population suffer from mental health issues. I myself suffer from depression and anxiety, as a result of my serotonin and dopamine levels in my brain tissue being inconsistent and causing problems. The imbalance of these chemicals is what causes the detrimental thinking patterns that characterise these mental illnesses. It sucks sometimes, but I do believe that my mental health journey (battle) has made me into a much stronger and emphatic human.

These altered thought patterns can be seen in physical scans of the brain (see below). So, the stigma that mental illness is ‘all in your head’ is stupid. Yes, I know it’s all in my head, wanna see how my brain is malfunctioning?

Image result for brain scans mental illness
(source)

My concern with mental health is related to my own personal human experience and because I am inherently fascinated by how things work. There is a need to understand that I share with many other humans, hence my choice to go into tertiary education. This essay is inherently related to my current project in Fine Arts, because I am trying to get back into my own head and explore what’s going on in there. Because most of the time I really have no idea. It’s very weird in here. Anyway, I personally think that it’s important to think about the different courses in a degree and how they relate to each other. Critical theories and visual culture gives me a space to research and explore the theory and ideas behind what I am interested in and apply it to my art-making.

I am interested in psychoanalytic theory and psychoanalysis because the evolution of psychology from the beginning of around 1900 to the current present is absolutely fascinating, as the evolution of understanding shows the evolution of thought patterns from then until now. The timeline of psycho-theory illustrates how our thinking about thinking has progressed. The greatest skill we possess is the capacity for change.

Nan Goldin (source)

Psychoanalytic theory evolved from Freud saying that I have daddy issues to Sullivan saying that my personality is the result of my friends in childhood. One of the most interesting aspects of psychoanalytic theory to me in the early 1900’s system of dreams of dream interpretation. The unconscious and subconscious minds are an integral part of who we are, but it does feel a little uncomfortable to think that there is a part of your brain that you cannot experience and might never fully understand. My favourite and most fascinating exploration of these ideas is through the Surrealist art of the 1920’s and 30’s. Having been to the Dali museum in Spain, I can say that his work exists in a realm that is beyond both the physical and the mental, in a realm where the two are simultaneously combined and destroyed.

With that being said, I don’t want this to be a summary and analysis of all the popular psychoanalysts, because I’m doing an art degree, not psychology. So, there will be (more) images and thoughts about art and how psychology relates to art and the process of art making.

Obviously, it seems like a bit of a cop-out to talk about the unconscious and the Surrealists in the same paragraph, so I’ve also been looking at more contemporary artists and artworks in relation to these theories. It may seem a tad unnecessary to talk about art in a post about psychoanalytical theory and psychology in relation to the process of thinking and how brains work, but as I am an art student it is very difficult not to do this. And there has always been a correlation between how brains and thoughts are structured and what people choose to do with their lives. You know how ‘right-brained’ people are supposed to be more creative? Yeah, that.

Eva Hesse (source)

Something I want to talk about now is the discussion of other people’s brains and how they work. Psychologists and psychiatrists do this for a living, and to help people. I recently (within the past 3 months) read an interview by Lucy Lippard about Eva Hesse, after her death in 1970.  Her friends (namely Robert Smithson, and Nancy Holt), were discussing her work and the thinking behind her work, but I don’t think that any of them got it quite right. The nature of Eva Hesse’s work is uncertain and almost unidentifiable. The only person who could really understand Eva’s headspace was Eva herself. As much as we try to believe that we fully understand other people, I don’t think that this is possible. I don’t fully understand myself, and there is a sense of mystery and intrigue in others that I don’t want to remove from my life through trying too hard to understand. This sense of intrigue is what drew me to Eva Hesse’s work, as well as her implied fascination with biology and the body.

In terms of photography, the psychoanalytic theory can be applied here too, due to the significance of the relationship between the lens and the eye. If you are a regular here, you know my interest in photography stretches back almost a decade and I will always see the world through the eyes of a photographer. Even though my current art practice is about painting and ink drawing. How you view the world has a lot to do with your position, but your brain structure (both physical and in terms of neurological pathways) affects how you process and remember that information. There are a few photographers that make interesting work that encouraged me to think differently about images, how images are made, and the significance of images in culture.

Richard Mosse (source)

Examples of these photographers include Nan Goldin (additional link to Nan Goldin’s work), Antione D’Agata, Sohrab Hura (very relevant to my work) and Richard Mosse. Their work is scattered around this post, and I hope that you have been paying attention. Nan Goldin is a well-known documentary photographer who focused on the margins of society in terms of the LGBTQAI+ community in America from the 70’s onwards. Antione D’Agata is a fascinating, slightly darker photographer whose work plays with the fascinating balance between reality and fiction in his photographs. They are ambiguous, intentionally blurry and inherently fascinating. Sohrab Hura has a beautiful and haunting series called “Sweet Life” which follows his mother’s journey with schizophrenia. This series relates to my practice exploring my own mental health, and my journey with dealing with my own issues. And finally, introducing the ideas of truth and reality in photographic image is Richard Mosse. He created a series of photographs highlighting the war around the world using a special infa-red film created for surveillance images of enemy territories. The resulting images are really beautiful and jarring, with foliage that just does not look right.

An interesting thing to read (if you want to) in relation to image culture is In Defense of the Poor Image (link) because it speaks to the mass-distribution of images. I think this article is especially prevalent in relation to 2017 internet culture with our obsession with memes. It’s only May, and there are already bets on what the “meme of the year will be”. And memes are such a good example of the remixing and redistributing images. The current meme is from freaking Spongebob. Which is (not exactly) filmic gold.

However, there is an experimental film called Reassemblage by a very talented filmmaker (Trinh T. Minh-ha) that really made me think about a whole bunch of really deep existential topics. Examples of this include the meaning of life and the profound presence of death in life. It got me thinking about the relationships between text, image and sound, and how film (and photography) has become synonymous with representations of certain kinds of ‘truth’. But the ideas of truth are relative and so individual. What is true for you might not be for another person. What is true for you now might not have been true in the past, and might not be true in the future.

These are the kinds of existential questions we deal with on an almost daily basis. God knows that I really do not have the answers, and some questions are kind of unanswerable. But you kind of have to ask them anyway and hope that you have some cool folk around you to help you figure all this stuff out.

Rene Magritte (source)

Some other people to look at and think about in relation to all of this include the typical psychoanalysts. Borrow a friend’s psychology textbook and take a look if you feel like it. I stole my Mom’s. It would also help to do some more research by following all the links in this post, and there are pleantiful. There are some new artists that I am growing to really enjoy and admire. They all have really interesting art and really interesting thoughts about stuff.

In summary; this post was just an insight into my thoughts about thinking. It doesn’t feel quite complete or full yet, but I could probably ramble on about this for a whole novel if I had the time, energy or mental capacity. I don’t know if all of this can be considered critical thinking, because I actually feel like I am really bad at critical thinking and there is always something that I can’t quite grasp or is just out of reach. But in order to fix that I am going to continue to read, and think, and try to be as aware of my own thinking process as possible. Because if I am aware of how I think and what I think, I can change what needs to be changed.

Congrats on making it to the end of this massively long post. If you got this far, then you should know that this post is actually an experimental essay for the course I mentioned in the beginning of this post and I will be getting marks for this (Hi, Juan!). I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope that you, as my readers, will enjoy seeing something a little bit different from me. We will go back to regular posting and content after I have finished my exams. Unless, of course, you want to see more of my deeper thinking and academic writing.

I apologise for the academic style of writing included in this post if it is not something that you are used to. I did try to write more casually, but the topic in question needed a slightly more formal writing style with the inclusion of ‘jargon’ that was necessary for an understanding of what I was going on about.

Comments are closed on this post because it is technically an assignment, but I do encourage you to share reading material and artists to look at with me on my other social media (which are all linked at the top of this post, above the menu). I would love to hear from you if you have some interesting stuff to read with regards to thinking about thinking, and thinking about brains and how they work – especially in relation to art.

If you want to see some other posts that are just brain vomit or thought based, you can find them here and here, and if you keep browsing through the archives of this blog. If you feel like it. I know this kind of stuff is not for everyone.

I hope you all are keeping warm, and drinking lots of herbal tea to help fight off this nasty flu bug. Or taking medication. Whatever works for you.

Stay safe!

-Domz

Salvador Dali (source)

Word count: 2600

Bibliography (aka texts read but not necessarily referenced):

BENJAMIN, W. 1968. Illuminations. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. New York: Random House. Pp 211-231

BHABA, H. 2011. Beyond Photography. Intro to: Taryn Smith, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII (http://artsites.ucsc.edu/sdaniel/230/Beyond_Photography_HomiBhabha.pdf)

CAZEUAX, C. 2000. The Continental Aesthetics Reader. Introduction to Marxism and Critical Theory. London: Routledge. Pp 197-200.

FREUD, S. 1917. Mourning and Melancholia. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works. Pp 237-258.

LIPPARD, L. 1973. Out of the past: Interview with Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt. Link: https://www.artforum.com/inprint/issue=200802&id=19335 (accessed 17/05/2017).

STEYERL, H. 2009. In Defence of the Poor Image. Link: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/10/61362/in-defense-of-the-poor-image/ (accessed 18/05/2017).

 

T5W: Books That Would Make Great Video Games!

Hi, Friends.

This is late. Obviously. My time-management lately has been absolutely terrible. And I just need to find a system or find the thing that is not working so that I can change. Maybe I’ll make a post on that, although, with my current track record, that is not likely. Anyway. This week’s Top 5 Wednesday theme is the books that we think would make good video games! I have actually been very into video games for most of my childhood, but I am not considered a legitimate gamer because I like to play low-stress games, like the Sims. Totally okay with that, because I really don’t care. I like to play my games, and other people like to play their games. It’s all good. Anyway. Here are some books that I think would make cool video games:

  1. The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins. There is a flash game of this that you can find HERE. I’m apparently too much of a softy to win at this. But imagine a real, full PC game of this. You can choose to be district or Capitol, and play through the game like that. Playing as a game-maker and creating your own Hunger Games arena. Playing in the games as a tribute, that you can create yourself and pick your district. Or play as a capitol member and make or lose money betting on tributes, give gifts to tributes and see what/how you can influence the games. I’m imagining a full, huge game with so much detail and so much potential to insert yourself into the Hunger Games world.
  2. Percy Jackon – Rick Riordan. This has a Nintendo DS game based on the film that was based on the first book. See the game HERE. But I think a more expanded game would be really cool. Especially if you get to make your own character, pick your godly parent and join Percy on monster hunts. Can you tell that I’m a fan of inserting yourself into your favourite book worlds?
  3. The Long Earth – Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett. If you are familiar with this series, you can understand why it’s on this list. Alternative Earths, alien creatures and space travel. And the trolls. Just google it.
  4. Discworld – Terry Pratchett. There is a Discworld PC game, but it is about as old as I am (1995) and is long overdue for an update. Learn more about it HERE and the sequel HERE. I’m imagining an open world style RPG game, like Skyrim, where you explore the Disc and go on adventures. You can join the night watch, or help the witches, or try to learn magic at the university. Just imagine what you could do in Ahnk-Morpork alone! This would be an amazing PC game and you know it.
  5. Maze Runner – James Dashner. There is also a flash game of this which you can find HERE. It’s not very complicated, but it has the premise that I had in mind. So imagine this flash game, but way cooler and much more detailed. With cut scenes. And choices. You know what I mean.

As you can probably tell, I’m a fan of PC gaming. Mostly because it’s quite low-stress, and I don’t have to buy a whole new console. and console games are so expensive. LOL. Anyway. You can find all you need to know about Top 5 Wednesday on the Goodreads Group and I hope you can understand why I wanted to do this even though it’s late.

Stay organised!

-Domz

Top 5 Wednesday: Top SFF Books on my TBR!

Hi, cupcakes!

This post is going up late because I am so not as organised as I thought I was. Oops. There is just a lot going on in my life and currently, my time management sucks. So, that is something that I am working on. Anyway. This week’s theme for Top 5 Wednesday is the Top Science-fiction and Fantasy books on our TBR (to-be-read). This is a cross-over with something going on in the BookTube community. Go search if you are curious.

I read a lot of Sci-fi and fantasy books, so it makes sense that I would have a lot on my TBR. With that being said, I am currently on a kick of reading productivity books in an attempt to do something to help with my life. I will (hopefully) get to most of these books in the holidays, or when they come out. Some of these haven’t been released yet, but are due for release this year! Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Sci-fi and fantasy books on my TBR:

  1. The Long Cosmos – Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. I personally thought that the series could have ended with the previous book, but I owe it to myself and to Terry to read the final instalment of this series. I’m not sure what else they still can do with it, but I really hope we get to see some more aliens and cool worlds.
  2. Ender’s Saga – Orson Scott. I’ve been meaning to read this series for a long time. I haven’t seen the whole of the movie (because I’m one of those people) but I have heard so many good reviews of this series, so I plan to jump in pretty soon.
  3. A Court Of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J. Maas. After that cliffhanger, I NEED to get my grubby little paws on this book as soon as humanly possible. If you are not familiar with the series, do yourself a favour and google it and then read it because it’s amazing.
  4. The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer. I’ve also heard amazing reviews of this series. I’m keen to read it because apparently it’s a hybrid of Sci-fi and fantasy, and there’s magic and someone is a cyborg and I reckon it’s going to be amazing to read. I just need to get there. LOL.
  5. Thud! – Terry Pratchett. How can I make a sci-fi/fantasy list and not include the KING himself? I’ currently reading the Night Watch series, and this is the next book in that series. I do plan on reading the entire Discworld series someday. But it will have to be one book at a time.

Thoughts About Priorities

Hi, Friends

If you’re a regular here, you may have noticed that I’ve been neglecting this blog. You may have been wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing to warrant disappearing for a month. I changed up my priorities.

In all honesty, I’ve been working. I’m in my final year of university, doing an honours equivalent level course. And it’s bloody difficult. I’ve been putting so much energy into my art, but I’m not even sure that I’m enjoying what I’m doing anymore. I also have so much reading to do, and my essays are a minimum of 3000 words at a time. It’s not easy. And because I am working so hard during the day and using up so much brainpower, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. And waking up early is not easy, let me tell you. The colder it gets, the more difficult it is to open my eyes at 5am.

I’ve also been working to earn money. I now have tutoring added to my regime, and it takes up a lot of energy trying to get two wonderful ADHD children to concentrate on one thing for more than 4.7 minutes at a time. And sometimes they succeed in distracting me too, so it takes even longer. I’m also still doing alcohol promotions AND house/pet sitting for the lucky folks who can go on holiday. It’s been a lot of work. I’ve earned a huge amount of money in the last few months, because I’ve been working so hard.

I’ve also been neglecting the blog because it’s not that high up on my priority list. My top 3 priorities, in order, are:

  1. Mental and physical health.
  2. University.
  3. Family and close friends.

And I can safely say that this blog might only be in the top 10. If I was making money off of here, or I was sharing content that was actually helping people, I might have made a plan. But in order to keep my priorities in line – I will get an extra hour of sleep and neglect to write a blog post. And that’s okay. Doing stuff like that is one of my self-care habits. Hopefully, I will have a self-care blog post up soon.

I have a few ideas of stuff I want to post in the upcoming weeks, but I am also opening up a conversation with you, as my readers, to see what kind of content you want to see from me. If you have the time (and energy), voting for the content you would like to see in the poll below would be much appreciated.

I hope that you are looking after yourselves and you remember that it’s perfectly okay for your priorities to shift according to what you need.

-Domz

T5W: Fictional Jobs

Hi, Cupcakes!

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday, where I make lists every week about bookish stuff, including books! As usual, you can find all you need to know about the group and the premise behind my (almost) weekly lists on the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group. Go join and we can make bookish lists together.  The theme for the first week of March is the fictional jobs we would love to have if we lived in the worlds of some of our favourite books/movies/TV shows. I mostly write about books because I don’t really watch TV or movies… So. Without further babbling, here are my Top 5 Fictional Jobs:

  1. Hogwarts Student. Duh. If you’ve been here long enough or read enough of this blog, you will know that I am Harry Potter obsessed. So my ultimate job would be to be a Hogwarts student. However, since I am much older than 18, I would probably settle for being a trainee professor. Or an actual professor.
  2. Shadowhunter. Or professional badass. You pick the title that works best for you. I reckon it would be pretty rad to have angel blood and run around killing demons and just generally saving the world.
  3. Magical artist/photographer. Harry is amazed by the moving paintings and moving photographs in the wizarding world, but have you ever thought about how amazing it would be to be able to MAKE paintings and photographs that move?! I can imagine that you have to have some pretty amazing technical skill to make the paintings realistic, and then a really amazing knowledge of charms to make the paintings move AND be an accurate representation of that person’s personality. I’m having an artist moment just thinking about it. AND imagine developing the film from the photographs in special potions to make them move? I’m pretty sure JK mentioned that in Chamber of Secrets, but I want to actually do it!
  4. Witch. As in Terry Pratchett. You’re basically everything the village needs, including a herbalist, midwife, vet, counselor, and much much more. And getting to work with Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax (I’m in denial.) would be so freaking cool. The witches are probably my favourites in the Discworld series.
  5. Author. This isn’t actually a fictional profession, but I am of the opinion that authors are actually magicians and they are responsible for creating the amazing worlds that we read about. There is a special kind of magic that exists in not only creating your own story and world, but having the guts to share it with other people. Someday I would love to finish writing a novel, and join the ranks of the amazing people who are called ‘author’.

And that concludes this week’s Top 5 Wednesday! I hope you guys are enjoying reading these as much as I enjoy writing them. I am planning on doing every Top 5 Wednesday week in March, but we will have to see if I can keep my ass in gear.

Keep reading!

-Domz

February Wrap Up

Hi, Friends!

It’s the end of the shortest month of the year and I hardly read anything apart from fanfiction! Woohoo! On a more serious note, this month has been absolutely insane for me. We went back to university and SO MUCH STUFF HAPPENED. I’m so sleep deprived that I’ll probably read this tomorrow morning and freak out slightly at my writing. But whatever. Let’s see how I did this month:

Read

  • The Fifth Elephant – Terry Pratchett
  • Midnight Sun – Stephenie Meyer
  • Isolation – Bex-chan
  • 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades – Thomas Frank
  • A Reckless Frame of Mind – Lomonaaeren

So, 5 total books. I’m not sure if reading fanfiction actually counts as reading a proper book, but considering that I found some of them on Goodreads, I really don’t care. I know that I’m late into the fanfiction game, but I was really skeptical about it to begin with. And, in all honesty, I won’t read fanfictions that I can;t find on Goodreads, because I want them to count towards my 50 book goal. But, now that Goodreads has added in a re-read date feature, I could probably only re-read Harry Potter and reach 50 books. But I won’t do that, if only for you who read my blog.

Anyway. I hope that your reading month was better than mind, and feel free to share good fanfictions with me on my Bookstagram. Happy reading, and welcome to March!

-Domz

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Books to Get You Out of a Slump!

Hi Friends!

I’m back! I took a week off from blogging because of some family stuff, but I am back and into my 3rd week of university already, how insane? Anyway. This week’s topic is the books I recommend to get you out of a reading slump. If you know me at all or have been reading this blog for a while, you know what my favourite books are. So you should not be surprised to see them on this list. As usual, you can find all the information you need on the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads group. Without further ado:

  1. Harry Potter – JK Rowling. You already know how amazing this series is. The best part about re-reading HP is that you already know the story. So it’s not that difficult to actually read. Every time I’m really down (which is usually why I’m in a reading slump) I re-read Harry Potter because it makes me happy and I always manage to get something new and different out of the story. There are also amazing audio-books narrated by Stephen Fry that will get you out of a reading slump very quickly!
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis. I really enjoy reading books from my childhood to get me out of a reading slump, because they always take me back to a time when I had all the time in the world to read. And I didn’t have to spend my time reading monster reading packs for university, or readings like “Relational Aesthetics”. So, books from my childhood are the answer!
  3. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) – Felicia Day. Funny biographies and funny autobiographies are a very easy way to get back into reading. Especially when you have a wonderful, hilarious person like Felicia to read about. There are so many funny autobiographies to choose from, including Anna Kendrick and Amy Schumer.
  4. Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett. Are you surprised to see this here? No? GOOD. Terry has a very dry, witty sense of humour and his books don’t have chapters so you can read a whole book in a few days because you literally cannot stop. Just pick up any book in the series, give it a go, and thank me later.
  5. Percy Jackson series – Rick Riordan. This is a middle-grade series, but it is so funny and easy to read. I think they may be a little too juvenile if you are in your twenties like I am, but I am a big fan of reading books intended for a younger audience when you are in a reading slump. When it’s easy to read, you feel much better about actually reading. The Magnus Chase series is actually better, but a little more cognitively demanding.

And that concludes this week’s Top 5 Wednesday! If you have any book recommendations for me in terms of reading slumps (because I am currently in one now…) feel free to share with me on my Bookstagram!

See you soon!

-Domz

Why I Failed NaNoWriMo (Again)

Hi, Cupcakes!

Last year I attempted to do NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. And for the second year in a row – I failed. The point of this post is to tell you why and to remind me that it’s perfectly okay to fail at some stuff. There are many contributing factors. So, I’m going to tell you what they were and how I’m going to try and do better next year.

November SUCKS

November is exams month for me. And since #FeesMustFall was back last yearr – my exams got extended for an extra three weeks. I finished writing on the 28th, instead of the 14th. It was a very long month in terms of exam prep and essay writing. I probably could have written more. But I felt really guilty for writing my story instead of writing my essay. So I just watched Vampire Diaries instead of doing either. Well done, Dom. You smart cookie, you. I don’t doubt that #FeesMustFall will be back this year, but hopefully, I will be better prepared. Maybe I will even write my story about the student struggle in South Africa. You never know.

I Didn’t Plan

I decided on the 28th of October that I was going to try NaNoWriMo again last year. And I actually wrote out a plan. I watched so many hours of writing tip videos as well as novel structure and characterisation. But, I only came up with my main character’s name on the morning of the 1st of November – using a name generator. I can’t even remember what is is now – which means that they weren’t that important to me. Maybe I looked at my plan once or twice after I started writing, if even that. I went by the seat of my pants and it bit me on my bum because I am definitely not that kind of person – I like planning. Planning makes sense to my brain. Hopefully next year I will actually have a novel plan that will help me instead of confusing me.

My Needs Changed

I started writing out of a place of pain and confusion. I needed an outlet to sort through all sorts of inner turmoil. The story that I was writing was an auto-biography of pain and stress and trying to make sense of my world, which had changed irrevocably in the space of 2 months. And then I started to feel okay again. I started sorting my life and my feelings and my brain out. I became strong enough to deal with my struggles. And then I realised that I didn’t want to share this particular story. I didn’t need the world to see this particular story. And it was far too late to start over. There are some themes and ideas that I want to re-visit in the future, but I don’t need to write that story anymore.

BUSY BUSY BUSY

The final reason that I failed NaNoWriMo (again) last year was because I was just so f*cking busy! I worked twice a weekend for most weekends. I tutored for a week and a half – every day. There were exams to write and prepare for. And I was actually having a social life. Looking back on my calendar, I am actually pretty proud of myself for getting enough sleep! Basically – my excuse is that I let life get in the way. And I really don’t regret it. At all.

2017?

Am I going to try all this again this year? You bet. I managed to go from 5000 words in my first NaNoWriMo to 15000 this year. If I keep that rate of increase up, I am pretty sure that I can get it done. I’m also planning to plan a month or two in advance and make sure that I have a good story with well-rounded, diverse characters and an interesting world to put it all in. Maybe I’ll even start writing before hand, or carry on writing afterwards. I have no idea what 2017 will bring, but I’m keen!

Are you going to join me? You can find all you need to know on the NaNoWriMo website. Let me know!

Keep writing!

-Domz