Wednesday, 15 February 2012

I Love... Love!

I am a hopeless romantic. I am a sucker for the thoughtful, kind, subtleties of love and all the beautiful, romantic gestures that go along with it. Watching romantic movies - I cry. Watching emotional drama on TV - I cry. Hell, watching sweet commercials - I cry. And once, watching a pivotal, life-changing moment in golf - I cried.

But I hate Valentine's Day.

It is exclusive and fake. People who are single can be made to feel unloved and inferior when they don't receive flowers or have a date. And people in relationships can feel unloved and inferior when their partner doesn't send flowers or take them out for dinner.

This day creates a sense of entitlement and greed that is just plain bonkers. Where did this come from? And why do we only dedicate one day to love? To combat this crass commercialisation of love, this year I got four girlfriends together and we went to the pub for drinks and trivia. The Boyfriend also feels the same way about Feb 14 so he decided to have a man-date with one of his single buddies.

Unsurprisingly, trivia with the girls was a hoot! I drank cider, and got 4 mini hotdogs for $10. We also came fifth which means we have room for improvement - that $60 bar tab will be ours next time!

So that was the perfect Valentine's Day for me. I avoided all of the pitfalls and got to have a fun night with some mates with my sense of love and romance intact. Meaning I can continue to look forward to being surprised by sweet romantic gestures some other day.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Plastic Fantastic

I have just finished reading 'The Brain That Changes Itself'' by Dr. Norman Doidge. It is about the evolution of brain science and how research is shifting away from the view that our brains are hardwired, and therefore any damage received is irreversible. We are now coming to realise that our brains are like play-doh and can mold and change to adapt to illness and injury and ageing; making it possible for the brain to re-wire itself.

I had wanted to read this book for some time and found it completely fascinating. Some parts are very dry and focus on a lot of medical terminology and complex scientific study. I found myself skim reading these parts so I didn't lose focus and motivation.

It is also hard to read as it talks in detail about the animal testing used to discover this neuroplasticity. I find that animal testing does not sit well with me, partly because it is not an issue that I can ascribe to being "good" or "bad". I hate the idea of animals living in cages their whole lives, being poked and prodded for our benefit. But at the same time, I have two very good friends who have diabetes that is controlled through regular insulin injections. They live perfectly normal lives due to animal research. I would never want them to stop taking their insulin even though I know it came from animal testing. See what I mean? There is no easy answer here.

However, on the whole, this book is thrilling and wondrous in its possibilities and gives a lot of food for thought on topics as varied as pornography, romantic love, drug use and early childhood development. So if you're in the mood for a bit of non-fiction and are willing to press on through some dry patches, give it a go.

Post script - when I proudly showed The Boyfriend what I was reading he exclaimed quite loudly "SNOOZE FEST!" but has since listened attentively when I have relayed certain chapters of interest to him. So don't be put off, it was amazing to me how many situations I could relate to people in my own life.