Just some random thoughts

*Trying to avoid spoilers, but there is a quote from book 1 that some readers might prefer to read spontaneously without it being spoiled. If that’s the case, then don’t read this post. I mention other events from later books vaguely enough that you hopefully wouldn’t know what they refer to if you haven’t read that far.


Finally he [Perrin] said, “What did you spend so much time talking about with Ila? If you weren’t dancing with that long-legged fellow, you were talking to her like it was some kind of secret.”

“Ila was giving me advice on being a woman,” Egwene replied absently. He began laughing, and she gave him a hooded, dangerous look that he failed to see.

“Advice! Nobody tells us how to be men. We just are.”

“That,” Egwene said, “is probably why you make such a bad job of it.” Up ahead, Elyas cackled loudly.

I adore The Wheel of Time book series. I discovered it for the first time after watching season 1 on Amazon Prime. I mostly enjoyed the show because I hadn’t read the books, but there was a lot I didn’t understand. Then I looked it up on google, ordered the first book, and began reading. Once I began, I could not stop and devoured all 14 books over several months.

One of the things I was struck by was the female characters. After reading only a short way into the first book, I checked the author. A man wrote this! On the one hand, they didn’t fit a simplistic ‘powerful female character’ trope. While they all developed incredibly unique and powerful skills, they were also complex, contradictory and flawed. All of them had incredibly interesting character arcs and growth. In my opinion, their journeys were just as interesting as those of the ta’veren (main male characters) and sometimes more so. Light! The most thrilling points in the book were dominated by the women – Tel’aran’rhiod, the rediscovery of lost skills and one character’s journey to the Amrylin Seat, to name just a few.

On the other hand, the gender dynamics were sometimes simplistic, at least from my perspective. In the scene above, for example, Perrin thinks Egwene getting advice on being a woman is an absurd idea, and he mocks her for it. She quickly puts him in his place, though. Egwene’s reply shows just how little merit she gives the opinions of men and also how she feels about men in general. They are too often insufferable. And while I cackled out loud along with Elyas at Egwene’s snarky reply, her response hints at an overarching idea in the series. There seemed to be a clear line between the way the women behaved compared to the men, and there wasn’t all that much variety. Also, the women’s preoccupation with beauty standards didn’t add up considering that, in this world, women were generally more powerful than the men, with a few exceptions. (I also remember how, later in the series, some of the women spent *a bit too much time* obsessing over their breasts. Yep. A man wrote this. Lol!) Ultimately, though, almost all of the women were fiercely critical of men, calling them names and chastising them like children. The scene above gives me the impression that women in The Wheel of Time care deeply about proper and improper behaviour, which is why the men anger them so often. The men don’t care about this nearly as much. They don’t behave the way the women think they ought to. The ‘battle of the sexes’ is a clear trope throughout the books.

Yet, there is some complexity within the simplistic ‘battle of the sexes’ trope, if that makes any sense. It seemed to me, during my first reading, that this inability of men and women to get along was, in fact, a significant barrier that both the men and women had to overcome. There was a tremendous lack of trust between men and women, which so often led to difficulties and disasters that could have been avoided – if only they trusted each other. Like Egwene above, women assumed that men would always ‘make such a bad job’ of any situation, and they continually attempted to control the men and limit the information they shared with them, especially the ta’veren. (Blood and ashes, woman! Why are you being so harsh? I sometimes wondered). Men also assumed that the women were always out to get them, and so they rarely confided in them. The state of the world depended on men and women both putting aside their differences to work together. I liked this idea, even if it was clunky and simplistic at times.

A few days ago, I decided to re-read the series and take a closer look at the gender dynamics. I also decided to listen to the audiobooks, and I was delighted to discover Rosamund Pike’s narration of the books. Like for many fantasy series, when a live action film or show is made, I can’t wait to see some of my favourite scenes on the screen. However, the films and shows never fail to disappoint. And The Wheel of Time series deeply disappointed in so many ways. I tried re-watching it after reading the first book. It was painful. However, Rosamund Pike’s reading is wonderful, and it’s safe to say that I will get to ‘see’ every single one of my favourite scenes because the way she narrates the books brings the characters and events to life.


*autistically speaking

Here I discuss how my struggles with anxiety and depression interact with my autism to trigger an embodied, agoraphobic-like fear. I also discuss ‘standing in my power’, which helps me with these conditions quite a lot.

Powerful Woman - OpenclipartImage credit: @j4p4n openclipart.org

This is what the NHS says about agoraphobia:

Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn't be available if things go wrong.

And here is what Wikipedia says:

Agoraphobia is a mental and behavioral disorder, specifically an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives their environment to be unsafe with no easy way to escape.

I don’t think I’ve always struggled with agoraphobic-like symptoms. In fact, I’m not certain I can accurately call it agoraphobia. I do perceive my environment to be unsafe with no easy way to escape, and it can be very difficult to leave home without being with someone. I do feel fear when I am out alone, and often uncomfortable, but it’s not a fear of being hurt or of something bad happening to me.

It’s a social fear. Anxiety. When I’m out by myself, I tend to space out big time. I’ll linger in an aisle at a supermarket for a long time, trying to decide which product I want. I’ll return to an aisle multiple times, too, because I forgot something. My fear in this situation is that my behaviour appears odd or suspicious. Strangers sometimes ask me what’s wrong, if I’m ok. And so I fear those questions. Because I would have been perfectly fine if no one ever asked me that.

So, I feel that my agoraphobic-like symptoms stem from these kinds of interactions. I fear someone mistaking my own normality for something bad or weird or wrong. I think this fear has become so embodied over the years that now I only feel the fear and hesitation in my body rather than as a conscious thought. I can’t bear the thought of going outside alone. I dread grocery shopping and skip it as long as possible. I sign up for exercise classes and then cancel at the last minute. I even dread going on walks alone. And then I’m completely exhausted when I do go out for trying to put on a ‘normality’ that isn’t my own.

I’m beginning to suspect that this embodied fear or anxiety has a lot to do with the severe depression I’ve felt over the last few years. I can’t link my depression to anything concrete or tangible. I just feel it. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do all these really normal, everyday things that other people can do without any problem? And I start to sink into despair.

However, there is a new type of interaction I’m experiencing now that I had never experienced before. It kind of changes things. It leads me to the idea of standing in my power and the ways I might do so in situations like this one:

For example, I went out Salsa dancing with a friend one night. While at the club, this cute guy asked me to dance. After dancing and chatting a bit, he asked me to go for a walk with him. I was happy to go because I liked him. But on the walk, he kept asking me to go home with him, like right away. I was still in my happy place (because dancing puts me in a happy place), so I simply said no and that I wouldn’t abandon my friend. He argued that my friend wouldn’t mind and kept asking me over and over again to go home with him. Like he was begging me or something.

At this point, I’m like, what the hell is wrong with this guy?! It does take awhile for the reality to settle in so that I can figure out how to respond. And for the first time in my life, I figured out exactly what to say.

When we got back to the club, and he begged me once again to go home with him, I looked directly into his eyes and said very calmly, “I already told you no.”

I can’t begin to describe how amazing that felt. To stand in my power. I felt so elated… so invincible… so proud of myself.

I gotta say that I love this new feeling of standing-in-my-power. It is what helps me the most with agoraphobia and depression/anxiety.

*Autistically Speaking

8th October 2022

My daughter just watched Labyrinth for the first time yesterday, and all of my feelings about this film and David Bowie and the genius that is Jim Henson have come rushing back.

I remember when I wrote about Labyrinth for my Master’s dissertation on fairy tales and folklore. The chapter that focuses on the film was so much fun to write… it’s like I could geek out to one of my favourite films for an advanced qualification. I guess that’s one of the perks of a degree in English!

“You have no power over me,” Sarah says simply, and with this sudden realisation of her truth, the world of the Goblin King falls apart.

The film and my analysis of it had a profound effect on me, and revisiting it now, with my daughter, is such a delight. We can geek out together! Our shared joy for all that is Labyrinth is having yet another profound effect on me.


The main difference between us is that she has no problem resisting the irresistible charms of the Goblin King – he’s the bad guy after all – whereas I don’t think I could truthfully say the words “you have no power over me” to Jareth. My knees would knock together, and I’d start spluttering words all over the place, and he’d smile at me with those wolfish eyes… a cheeky smile that knows just how much power he does have over me.

Ah, what a paradox. A girl can dream, though!

My daughter likes to play “Magic Dance” over and over and over on Alexa, just like I did with “The World Falls Down” music video. That she could love a weird 80s film as much as I do just makes me so happy!

And right at this moment, she’s in bed and supposed to be going to sleep, but “Magic Dance” is playing on loop, so I pause my writing for a moment to join in on our favourite part of the song:

Daughter: You remind me of the babe.

Me: What babe?

Daughter: The babe with the power.

Me: What power?

Daughter: The power of voodoo.

Me: Who do?

Daughter: You do.

Me: Do what?

Daughter: Remind me of the babe.

[Fits of giggles]

How could I be so lucky to have such a cool cat for a daughter – a partner-in-crime, my little chickadee.

“I’m not little,” she says, as she reads my writing.

Of course she’s not. There’s nothing little about her!

[She laughs]

After I told Alexa to stop playing, the conversation took an abrupt turn. We started discussing whether Alexa spies on our conversations, and she seemed to become worried.

Me: Oh, it’s not that she listens to whole conversations. We don’t really know if she listens at all.

Daughter: Alexa, are you a spy?

Alexa: Amazon takes privacy seriously. For more information… [blah, blah, blah]

Daughter: She’s lying! Alexa’s a liar.

Me: I don’t think she really can listen. If anything, she could only pick up parts of our conversation, key words. Like, if I say I need to buy razors, maybe Alexa would pick up the word razor, like a trigger, and adverts for razors could appear on my social media. But not right away.

Daughter: Oh. Well, if an advert for razors shows up on Facebook, then we’ll know. Because we’re talking about razors in front of her.

Me: Yeah, I don’t think she could listen or spy. That would be kind of dystopian. Do you remember watching Hunger Games with me?

Daughter: A bit. I was playing Roblox.

Me: Oh right. Well that film is an example of dystopian, when the government takes complete control and makes everyone poor. Except for the wealthy people.

Daughter: Oh, like Liz Truss.

Me: What?! Oh wow, Daughter! How do you know that about Liz Truss?

Daughter: I just know about her.

Me: Have you read about her?

Daughter: Not read.

Me: Maybe Newsround?

Daughter: Yeah.

Oh, my heart! 💕😍

One thing I adore about her is that she is fully and unapologetically herself… and an absolute goofball!

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