derek des anges

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noises from my head and projects from my mighty fists

I’d apologise but I’m going to keep doing it

Hello, internet land. I’ve been very busy which is one of the many reasons I haven’t been updating here much, that and the overwhelming horror of the world and a complete lack of motivation…

What have I been doing?

Since the start of 2017, which I ushered in using the “start as you mean to go on” method of dancing drunkenly on a stage in West London, half-naked, covered in gold glitter, with at least one Radio Four comedian (how and why? Who knows), I’ve been engaged in a determined battle against middle-aged spread using the NHS Couch to 5k plan and various other gym-like things, having finally succumbed to Modern Life and begrudgingly forked out for a gym membership. This is partially mitigated by my workplace paying me some of the cost back (part of their attempt to encourage us into healthier habits than spending all night necking coffee and attempting to fight each other, which… we’re still doing), and partially by the fact that I’m very definitely getting my money’s worth.

Owing to a spectacular wobble in which I managed to get a wretch cold, bugger my Achilles’ tendon and inflict a fetching chest haematoma on myself, I’ve been stuck on Week 6 for what feels like eternity, but progress has been made on this front.

I’ve attended one (1) dance class, and learnt some of the basics of the Charleston, which I like to practice at the bus stop after work at around 5am, to the amusement and occasional horror of anyone else travelling at the time; my place of work has moved from the cosy hipster environs of Shoreditch to the alarming identikit irrational platform-borne archipelago of Canary Wharf, which is full of people I would ordinarily cross several roads to avoid and who, judging by the restaurants available, have the blandest and most middle-of-the-road tastes my snotty hipster palate can imagine.

I’ve been to a tribute club night for the late, great George Michael, seen two Oscar-nominated movies, both excellent (The Eagle Huntress was sweet and uplifting; Moonlight was emotional torture, both were An Experience), had a sushi-and-matcha afternoon tea at Tombo in South Kensington, and taken a a Finnish friend to Chinese New Year celebrations and an accidental drag queen pub quiz over dinner in Soho. So far, Mission: Try To Live A Full Life Before I Am Inevitably Murdered By Nazis is a success.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been entirely slack on the creative front, although due to the constraints of employment, physical needs, and the linear nature of time I haven’t been as awesomely productive as my hallucinogenically ambitious 4am self thinks I ought to be: the year to date (and indeed the majority of December) has involved laborious attempts at editing 2015’s NaNoWriMo project Heavy (a semi post-nuclear apocalypse military espionage novel about the unreliability of memory, mutability of truth, and the intersection between loyalty and gaslighting, which seems horribly prescient now); what the late Terry Pratchett cheerfully refers to in his nonfiction collection A Slip of the Keyboard as “blind research” for the next project (working title: Tourist’s Guide to the Ideal London) and outlining and brainstorming thereof; two short stories under my queer-romance-writing pseudonym Melissa Snowdon, one commissioned but not-yet-published blog essay under an entirely different (anonymous) pseudonym which ended up running to around 3,000 words…

Let’s just say I’ve been keeping busy, and intend to remain that way. Exciting news may shortly be arriving on your blog feed. Eyes peeled!

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Robot Mother, The Guilt Bracelet, and an apology.

I bought a new phone.

That’s not the subject of the post, but that’s sort of how all the necessary components came together. I was meandering around the Danger End of Oxford Street in some unexpected sunlight with the Resident Australian and opted to annoy her by addressing my “my phone is annoying” issues right there and then by immediately buying a new handset, because that is how things get done in my life. After paralysing indecision and weighing of choices something then happens on an impulse, etc.

Anyway, this new phone has approximately 400000% more processing power and can sustain more than, say, one app. Combined with the ongoing insanity of trying to both eat like a person and not become a giant pillow cloud for a second time in my life, with the tenacious irritating of my friends by persistently posting FITSHAMING updates on Facebook to inform them, unfiltered, of exactly how many pressups I can’t quite do yet (spoilers: I can do five! In a row! Badly! This is so much better than the NONE I could do before!), and with the Guilt Bracelet which my Delightful Boyfriend bought for me after I interrogated him for a solid month on what his did, that extra processing space opened up a wonderful new world of being less insane.

How?

First, I asked if anyone could think of an app that would tell me how much of whatever nutrient I needed to eat, and then how much I had left of that per day, when I told it what I was eating, to stop me from doing the awful thing where I either set myself a limit and proceeded to dramatically undercut it (“I don’t need to eat 1400 kcal a day, that’s too high!”) or didn’t set myself a limit but then tried to eat as little as possible anyway (“I’m not really hungry/if you eat that you’re a filthy disgusting failure!”). Outsourcing my common sense, since my own has been so comprehensively destroyed by mental illness/eating disorders.

Anyway, it turns out that’s exactly what MyFitnessPal does.

It upped my calorie intake after asking me a bunch of questions…

Normally when Real People do that I sort of vaguely agree with them and then mutter that they have no idea how lazy and fat I am and how little I do and how immediately I will turn into a whale if I eat That Much, and ignore their advice. Occasionally with a side of “YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO SABOTAGE ME” for added crazy. When various online calculators ask me how active I am and I try to give a representative view, I then decide they’ve been adjusting based on a falsehood.

Unfortunately this time I picked the lowest possible activity level. I am a spod. A layabout. My job is writing. My sports interests are nil. I don’t own a bike.

It still told me to eat more than I was eating.

But wait, there’s more.

Not only did Robot Mother scold me about my different nutrient intakes (“your goal was to stay under 2300mg sodium, you salt-hoovering slag”), and allow me to scan barcodes with my phone for information (MAGIC TOY DOES MAGIC THING, DEREK IS ENTRANCED, SURELY WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE), and make it perplexingly difficult to update with workout information (“how many calories does it burn? How the shitting fuckfestival would I know that?”), she also offered a link between The Guilt Bracelet and The Food Hitlering.

Carrots, as well as sticks

Previously my motivation has been “if I do the walking motions, the Guilt Bracelet flashes a light and buzzes and that means I am a Good Boy”, because I have been well-conditioned that rewards are social rather than physical; the other motivation is that if I don’t have a consistent line of green bars on my weekly activity graph (data solves everything, or at least provides me with prettier and more mathematically accurate ways to berate myself) I am A FAILURE MADE OF LAZINESS.

But now that the Guilt Bracelet and Robot Mother are in cahoots with each other, I have noticed: the more I move, the more food I am allowed.

Adjustment

It turns out: the calorie goal is minus activity. Meaning, that’s how much I should be consuming when my movement is taken into account. Not set, no matter whatever else I do, but something I can alter with my behaviour. The illusion of control is mostly what’s necessary to help break a habit which is born from the need for control.

Or, as a different friend told me, as we compared notes over (meticulously-inputted) lattes: it helps not to have to think about what you’re eating because then you don’t feel like you’re getting it wrong all the time. She was referring, too, to Huel, which has provided us both with an Eating Problems Safety Net repeatedly.

And yes, I can feel myself becoming obsessive about this, too. I think it’s something that has to be accepted, after a certain point: there is no way I will ever be comfortable, carefree, and non-compulsive about food. Every time I try there is the spectre of the Delayed Reaction Regret, and given that this is often accompanied by purging I don’t really want to deal with that. Better to let the robot take care of it, and move on to more important shit, like this book

About that apology?

Yeah. If you’re a real flesh human who has spent a lot of time in the last couple of years trying very hard to make me stop eating things that have no calorie content, or stop obsessively making tinier and tinier meals, or even just fixate slightly less brutally on the exact 0.3kg weight fluctuations: sorry. You were right, about that paradoxical window of consumption: sometimes you do need to eat more to get smaller.

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July Links Post

Things Other People Have Done

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May Links Post

Things My Friends Have Done

Things I Have Done

Edit, mostly. I think I might need to remove this section from future links posts since it’s never anything terribly impressive.

Things Strangers Have Done

  • Will Self rambled on and on and on about obscure words and what sounds like the endorsement of censorship because it drives people to me more creative. Needless to say, I don’t agree with him.
  • The Jacobin Mag takes a stance against chairs, of all things…
  • An interesting theory of storytelling (in game design) is mooted: story events are expenses against credibility as defined by the world-building.
  • Health At Every Size provides helpful pointers in how to remain a critical thinker about health.
  • A self-professed fan of Damien Hirst has some harsh words about his latest exhibition.
  • 9GAG shows you how to make headphones that are less shitty than Beats. As the cheerful possessor of some much better-quality, cheaper studio-tracking headphones (AKG K271 MKIIs, although there’s little enough between them and AKG K272s) I support this. For both professional and domestic applications, there are better and cheaper headphones.

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February Links Post

Things my friends have done

Things I have done

Things strangers have done

  • Begun the process of reconstructing sounds from brainwaves, apparently. I cannot work out if this is cool, terrifying, or both.
  • Compiled a gorgeous selection of photographs of the most beautiful and innovative bookshops in the world. I am sad about the lack of representation of Hay-on-Wye, but deeply envious of some of the ones that are on the list. Portugal especially have apparently nailed “awesome bookshop”.
  • Interesting fellow on OKCupid showed me his music (this is not a euphemism), so naturally I am going to share it with the internet: Add Gray Fun. The two tracks I’ve listened to are sort of sparse and build tunes out of discord, which I’m very fond of as a feature in electronica. Professionally speaking I think they definitely need mixing & mastering – some work on the levels – and would personally have an annoying faff with reverb in places but overall I rather like it.
  • This fuzzy-haired scientist has an apparently supportable theory that cats make us bonkers. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.” Well, that’s not terrifying at all.
  • This Tumblr user is using police photo-fit software to try to recreate the faces of famous literary characters as described by their authors. What a fantastic concept!
  • Josie Long takes on UniLadMag and does so wonderfully.
  • When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite. Fascinating to me, and I do have a copy of a book with a title along the lines of “Same Sex Unions in Medieval Europe” waiting for me to finish reading the thousands of other books I’ve acquired and get around to it.
  • Written about The Invention of Heterosexuality, which examines how other areas of social change during the birth of psychiatry as a profession led to the creation of sexual identities connected to biological urges, and the value judgements that come with them.
  • People Like Me, a very depressing list of unfair treatment you can expect to receive if you’re viewed as being “unacceptably” fat.
  • A handy little interactive graph for women to use to determine which clothing size their measurements make them at any given clothing shop.
  • An Eight-Step Guide To Self-Editing Your Manuscript. On, completely unrelated, a very pretty blog.
  • Via that link, a useful website for determining how often you use particular words. I am cringing just imagining what would come up on mine.
  • And an io9 article about what the problem is with adverbs
  • As a confirmed over-emotional weenie about the city I live in who buys maps and cries every time she lands back at Heathrow and owns an embarrassing number of books of London photography, this post about London set to music is rather moving.
  • This fascinating blog over at Tiger Beatdown about how reality television and blogging have destroyed the ability of readers and viewers to appreciate the difference between performance and reality.
  • A very funny review of what sounds like a very awful movie (Splice).
  • In a rather timely coincidence, not long after I whined that I’d be more inclined to eat healthily if healthy food were more convenient, a friend of mine discovered COOK, who have made that leap for me.

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