Notes Backwards

We’ve all wondered what we’d say, if we could travel back in time, and tell ourselves what to do. I thought I’d blog about it today, on account of the weather being simply terrible, which is making me all reflective, and thoughtful.

Knowledge, and university courses. In the pursuit of knowledge, there are several things a person must know. The first, is that learning stuff, the big stuff, isn’t easy, and unless you’re bless with a photographic memory, something I dearly wish I had, you will spend an inordinate amount of time reading, rereading, and note-taking, before you can confidently declare to understand something. Moreover, somebody will always know more than you about something. This is inevitable, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt to be absolutely the very best, at everything you try to do. You should take the university course you love, because otherwise you’ll be extremely resentful of it, and it’ll make it one thousand times more difficult to finish it.

Art. Art is important. It’s important because we like to build things, create things. We must remember to write, read, draw, and dance, throughout the exams, and throughout the long working weeks, because otherwise life becomes well, incredibly boring. It’s also never too late to be something you’ve dreamt of being, even if you find you’re just a little older than the others. That just means you’re more mature.

Body. You think you’re fat now, however hindsight suggests you were wonderfully slim. As Baz Luhrmann quite rightly says, “you are not as fat as you imagine”. Take care of the body. Get some exercise, even if you hate it, and remember not to eat too much rubbish. Some junk food however is good for the soul, and so eating some of it is strongly encouraged. As is the eating of broccoli.

Success. Being an awkward child, you don’t know what you want to be yet, however you do know that it’s going to be something incredibly high-flying, and difficult to manage. The aspiration will seem like it’s a really long way away when you get a reality check, and sadly have to check into the real world for a while, however you ought to just keep going, and find new ways to pursue things. Thinking outside the box is really very, very important.

Self Confidence. Another Baz Luhrmann quote. “Do not congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either.” I find these to be rather wise words, and he has a point. Remember not to get complacent, and don’t think that you know everything. When you get to university you will be humbled by everyone and everything, including your peers, how daunting the real world seems, and how little you really know about your degree. Just remember it’s only the beginning, work hard to understand more, and use the library often. Do not be disappointed if you don’t just sail through, straight away. There’s no reward, if it’s too easy.

I think that summarises my wise words of the day. I think it’s useful, sometimes, to remember what you’ve learnt. It makes you feel wise, and more mature than you were when you first started out, even if it was only really six months ago.  The video by Baz Luhrmann is something I find incredibly useful too, have a listen!

(:
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I Only Fell Over Once Today

I’m quite pleased with myself at the moment, because I got through an entire dance class this morning without once collapsing and begging to go back to sleep. I only fell over once. This is something I consider to be a huge achievement. When I began I could only tackle about twenty minutes of intensive conditioning, which is something I dare you all to try. It looks effortless, until you try it yourself, and you are transformed to a sweaty, pink, strained version of yourself. A helpful hint is that you shouldn’t look in any kind of reflective device for about thirty minutes after finishing this deceptive workout.

Easy, right? Go, on, try it. I dare you. (1)

It’s similar to Pilates, in that you scoff at people who do it, thinking that they don’t actually partake in ‘real’ exercise. I think they just work hard, knowing that they’re building muscles we didn’t know existed. Who knew about this ‘work zone’? I think it’s been a fantastically well-kept secret. Or perhaps I’m simply ignorant to such things.

As the day wore on, I felt the need to revise a multitude of English related things, whilst all the time cursing the existence of exams, and wishing we only had to do coursework to fulfill the terms of the degree. I think this is a rather faraway fantasy at the moment, however. The problem with being proficient in exam taking is that the higher education institution you attend makes you continue to take them. There are institutions across the country that increasingly use alternative methods of assessment. I, alas, do not belong to any of them.

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So I’ve been in my bedroom throughout a beautifully sunny day, on the basis that I have an entire syllabus to trawl my way through before my exam week begins. I am a little offended by the four exams that have been crammed into one working week, however it seems there’s very little I can do about it, and unfortunately moaning doesn’t seem to have any impact. I suspect that if moaning could cancel an unpleasant event, I’d have escaped many unfortunate occurrences in my lifetime.

However, I do find ways of revising that some people find incredibly boring. I write everything down, in a beautiful project book. I like to colour things in, and therefore I find it necessary to purchase a shiny new notebook, and try to make a new start when I try to revise. I also buy and write out numerous packets of beautiful key cards, that I can’t bring myself to throw away when my exams are finished because they’re just so beautiful. I find that using old text books, and so on, only serves to remind the poor student of the pain they experienced the first time they tried to learn the material. At least with new pages and new books, we can feel as though we’re starting again, instead of just going back to something that mentally feels, well, a bit dark and oppressive.

I want to wish everyone else taking exams on every level good luck, for this upcoming exam period! I’m sure you’ll all do fantastically.

(:

(1) http://bellevuewachiropractic.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Pilates.jpg

(2) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/rma/lowres/rman10110l.jpg

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Learning to Dance Again

I mentioned recently that I have been experimenting with other forms of exercise, really just to see if I enjoy different things more, because I’m not a natural gym bunny. I never have been, and I have always strenuously objected against all forms of exercise. I am admittedly, very poor at dance, because I lack certain important things, such as rhythm and coordination, and thanks to my Dad, I have inherited two profoundly left feet.

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However, I like to dance. That’s the problem. I only ever dance in public when I’m at some kind of social gathering, and to dance before midnight, I have to do it in a darkened room with a locked door, for fear of terrifying any passers-by with my elephantine feet. But I do dance, privately, and I’d like to be able to dance properly again, possibly in public, or at least without feeling boundless amounts of humiliation, whenever I try. There is a beauty, in dance, I think.

The challenges of dancing are numerous, not least of which because they demand fitness and commitment. One does not simply ‘fall into’ being able to dance. The best dancers dance every day, from the age of four or less, and they are amazing at it. One of my flatmates is one a dance course, and her commitment is fantastic. I wish I had that kind of commitment to what can only really be described as physical poetry. From a literary perspective then, ballet is the physical form of poetry, and the Romanticism movement. I have no real idea how to relate myself to dance, because I’ve only ever been able to relate myself to the written word, and to literary movement.

Anyway, to spare you my over-dramatic perceptions and opinions on ballet, I think it would be prudent to look at the health benefits of such activity. It naturally gives you a wonderful, toned and strong physique, and increase your cardiac strength and endurance, because you are constantly using all the muscles in your body. I like the idea of this; I find exercise that involves deep breathing boring, and I positively despise yoga; I often wonder how pointing one’s bottom in the air can be conducive to any kind of exercise at all. Ballet however encourages breathing, but also lots of moving and physical use. The use of a body to express things is wonderful, if you have the courage to do it properly.

So that’s my trend for the week, and I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now. All these things require some courage to admit to the blogosphere, but as one very talented and admirable fellow bloggee states in many of her posts, it is important to be honest, because after all, what is the point in existing behind a facade that simply isn’t real? There isn’t one, and I suspect it’s much easier to be honest about one’s complete lack of elegance, than it is to be completely honest about personal issues.

I’ll let you know if I become graceful. Then we’ll be sure that miracles can happen…

(:

(1) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/Two_dancers.jpg/250px-Two_dancers.jpg

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Suits and Slippers

So I find myself writing this morning for the first time in some time, because I’ve been neglectful of many things recently. Not least of which is my blog. So for that I’m very sorry, however now I’m safely grounded back in my university bedroom, I shall be writing on a daily basis once again. My little vacations must start getting shorter, I suppose. But anyway, back to the topic of the day…

Being a ballet dancer hasn’t always appealed to me. In fact, I demanded to quit ballet when I was seven years old. I hated it, because I was clumsy and frankly, not very good. The video of my dance performance is diabolical. It’s so bad that I’ve hidden it, and I’m the only person on the planet who knows where it is hidden. But I have recently decided that contrary to by seven-year old conviction,  I’d very much like to learn to dance. My complete lack of grace and rhythm is an endless source of comedy in my household.

(1) And they're so cute.

There is, I suppose, a great element of sophistication and idealization around the art of ballet. It is romanticized, perhaps to the extent that it is misrepresented to the public. Anybody who watched Black Swan last year will know (or at least think that they know) about the dark side of the ballet. I suspect not all elements of ballet are quite as extreme as the film suggests, however, as with all professions, there’s bound to be something not quite right, something obscured under a facade of beauty and decadence, somewhere. I find it fascinating to look at all the facets of a particular profession to see where the flaws are, and how they can be resolved.

This is one of the reasons that I’ve been looking at consultancy as a career path; it can be integrated into wider interests too, and I like the problem solving and project managing. I’m fairly well organised, and I like to make huge, gorgeous projects happen. I like to take the idea of something conceptual and make it into something effective and useful in society as a whole. It’s like being a puppet master you get to put things together, and make them work with one another.

Back to the point of wanting to be a ballet dancer, however. I have a wish to have long, elegant leg lines, and a flat, toned stomach. The gym doesn’t really seem to be sufficient; it merely builds muscle, after a certain point which isn’t conducive to the rather elusive, slimline figure I covet. Genetically I’m not of a slim disposition, however I think there’s probably a balance to be struck. So I think I’m going to attempt to learn to dance, and people who know me well will be laughing their cotton socks off, reading this. I’m even laughing at myself a little bit.

So, a new thing I’m trying. Ballet. I’ll let you know how it does. I could be a ballet dancer. Admittedly I’m more likely to be a clown, however it’s a possibility. It might transpire that I’m more suited to hiking up mountains as opposed to dancing, but I suppose we’ll see. I really must remember to renew my gym membership, too…

(:

(1) http://www.sugarplumdancewear.co.uk/images/products_zoom/Diane_449_Retouch.jpg

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Learning to Jog

It might sound ridiculous, but I have never been able to jog on a treadmill. This is related to a past experience when I was ten, of falling off a treadmill. I fell forwards, face first, and skinned most of my legs. The carpet burn was the worst I’ve ever had. It was intolerably uncomfortable to sleep, for days on end. So now, at the ripe old age of eighteen, I thought I’d better conquer the fear, and jump back up onto the treadmill, if only to provide my gym routine with a degree of variety. Also, I’m an adult, and therefore should be able to use a simple conveyor belt, to run. A bit like a hamster in a cage, really.

So I stepped up, and firmly tied the STOP string around my wrist, to the point that it nearly cut off all circulation to my hand. I even turned the machine on. So it starts whirring, and I start walking. “This is okay,” I’m thinking. So I increase the speed, and this is when it all, inevitably, goes horribly wrong. I have to press stop, because essentially, my feet aren’t in time with the rest of me. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have no rhythm, and even less grace.

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So, a strategic rethink was required. I came to the conclusion that if I could hear an obtrusive beat in my ear, then I might be able to do it a little bit better. So I found the loudest Eminem track I could find, and turned it up deafeningly loud, and repeated the entire start-up process again. Following the beat seemed to mean my feet were almost able to jog. So I felt more comfortable, and as I realised I wasn’t in pain, and I was still  upright (much to my surprise, and the surprise of the woman who seemed to be chuckling at my poor attempt), I decided to turn up the speed. And there I was: jogging along, at a steady pace, for a whole forty minutes. Forty minutes passed, and strangely, went really quickly. Whenever I’m in the gym, you see, time seems to slow down, and whenever I’m doing something urgent or enjoyable, it seems to pass at double its normal speed.

Therefore today, I feel like I’ve accomplished something; (I have really, I finished an essay, wrote this post, and argued at length in a seminar, about the merits of feminism in the workplace) I learnt to jog. I also learnt that you shouldn’t look at the treadmill floor whilst you do it, because this will cause you to become unbalanced, and frankly, I need no help in being unbalanced. I have it down to a refined science.

The gym is a scary place, but it’s nice when the treadmill monsters have been expelled, and you can add “treadmill” to the list of gym equipment that you are no longer terrified of.

(:

(1) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/treadmillcartoon-1.jpg?w=300

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On Impatience

This morning I rang my mother, as I do every morning, just to say hello. And as is so often the case in these conversations, she told me I was impatient, and that I ought to learn the art of being patient. I’ve been struggling with this particular condition for years. Apparently my dad donated this particular gene to me, during the “making me from scratch” phase. I’ve never been able to wait for anything, from buses, to trains, to leaving school. I just seem incredibly anxious, all the time, to be moving on.

This is reflected in the microcosm of my bedroom. I rearrange all the stuff in it, clean it, and stack things in a different way, approximately every three weeks. I do it because it makes my room feel “new”, and fresh. Like a fresh start, almost. And this is what I spend my entire life doing, I think. Chasing a way to make a fresh start, move on, and keep progressing. I want to be everywhere, all the time, all at once. So much so that my brain feels as though it’s in complete chaos, all day long.

In some ways, I embrace this impatience, because it means I always want to improve myself, and do better. I want to succeed in my course, I want to meet more fitness targets, but I want it all now. I want to be fundraising for Africa and for South America already, and I haven’t even booked the latter yet. I have what some would call a type A personality. Others would simply refer to it as being “a pain in the ass”. I think I’d agree with them too.

“Personality is more important than beauty, but imagination is more important than both of them.” – Laurette Taylor

But anyway, today I have only one real thing to do; and that is write my essay for my Past and Present module. I will stop researching flights to Lima, Peru, and I shall read scholarly things about postmodernism. Even as I write this post, I feel some of the frustration fading away. I like posting sometimes, because it’s like venting to somebody, an almost anonymous person, and it does genuinely relieve ideas that are spinning around in my brain. I’m always scared of there not being enough time, to get everything I want to do done. I’m terrified I’ll run out of time to do the stuff on my list, and be somebody. But, as my mum said, “You’ve got all the time in the world”. She might be right; she usually is.

At this juncture then, I ought to abandon my blog, Twitter, Expedia, and G Adventures, and read my books, and write my essay. I suppose it’s always much harder to start than it is to carry on. It’s worth starting in order to finish though, I think. It’s just putting down my plans for the future and focusing on the present. It’s always much harder than it sounds, but I like to pop some Meat Loaf in my stereo, close down the internet, and make some coffee. And once the introduction is done, it gets easier.

At least, that’s what I’m counting on.

“I’ve got big shoes to fill. This is my chance to do something. I have to seize the moment.” – Andrew Jackson

(:

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Internally Alarming

In light of my recent post, I thought I’d post this diagram about the human body clock. I love the idea of there being an innate schedule which we have to abide by. It’s quite interesting to consider the idea of how productive we could all be if we were all well scheduled individuals, and what we’d be able to do if we could optimize ourselves. I don’t think anyone can ever be completely tuned in all the time though; everyone has to have the leeway to relax; no one can be productive all the time.

I like to think however that one day, I’ll rule the world. (:

File:Biological clock human.PNG

(:

With thanks to http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5f/Biological_clock

_human.PNG/800px-Biological_clock_human.PNG

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On Climbing Mountains

Of late, things have been evolving somewhat; from the inane and obvious, such as diet, to the more complex and frankly more interesting, attitudes. Experience, or the power and beauty of youth, becomes more obvious when you realise that you take it for granted; a failure to maximise one’s time, or energy as a person who is young and exposed to a plethora of opportunity is an intolerable waste, and once this dawned on me, I suffered something comparable to an epiphany, albeit in a more practical sense as opposed to a spiritual one.

Who wouldn't want to climb up there? (1)

So, in the last six weeks, I’ve been doing lots of things very differently than I had been before, for example, I’ve given up eating supernoodles for breakfast (or for any other meal), and instead, eat porridge made with skimmed milk. I’ve also taken to early morning trips to the gym; at seven-thirty am, instead of switching off my alarm and going back to sleep for four more hours, I’m on the cross trainer, or cycling, or something. I’ve found that the adrenaline kick that immediately succeeds the exhaustion is worth getting up early for. Without sleeping all day, there is far more opportunity to do things, and exposure to daylight naturally raises serotonin levels, making for a much happier person.

I think however, there’s more to this change than the somewhat superficial, in that I’ve been offered the chance to take part in a month-long trip to Africa next year; a climb up Kilimanjaro, all the way to the very, very top, volunteering with children and refurbishing schools (or something of this nature), and going on a walking or cycling safari through Hell’s Gate. The trip would give me the opportunity to see Kenya and Tanzania, and work with children, build some things for charity, and climb the world’s highest free-standing mountain. Research suggests that Kilimanjaro isn’t for the particularly weak-willed, and since I want to be able to say “I’ve stood on the summit of Kilimanjaro”, the opportunity seems too good to miss. The organisation of the trip itself will be something to add to a CV also; fundraising that kind of money, and seeking sponsorship is a practical skill. Overall then, it’d be incredible.

The trip has provided a little inspiration for getting up early and wandering around, thinking about acclimatising to a more normal “work-day” and eating much healthier food. It transpires that stereotypical student life doesn’t quite agree with me; but this element of student life, opportunities to travel, and so on, are very much my cup of tea. I’m glad there’s a goal that’s more substantial than ‘to look nice in a bikini’; there’s something much bigger, as well as the long-term health benefits of an attitude change.

There’s an awful lot to be said about mind over matter.

(:

(1) http://www.safaris-tanzania.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Kilimanjaro-summit.jpg

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On the Predicament of Routine

I’ve ever so slightly fallen in love with Microsoft Office Outlook, something I’ve never been able to use properly before. The calendar function is excellent; you can colour code every element of your life, scheduling yourself in until your heart’s content. The search for a job however is prevailing; I am simply desperate for a job at university, if only to find myself some structure within this abyss of living in toy town; university day structures just don’t suit me. Arising at two in the afternoon and eating supernoodles on a regular basis is now a banned practice: I will not arise any later than eight in the morning on any given weekday. On Sundays however, I’m allowed a concession: nine am, but only if I’ve been out late the night before. The general “feeling” and routine of university life makes me feel unproductive, and I can’t stand feeling so completely swamped in apathy, so I have to try to get up and out and get things done during daylight hours, to the best of my ability. And unfortunately for students everywhere, alcohol does not make a person any more mentally efficient.

The Microsoft Outlook Icon: A Symbol of Hope For the Fundamentally Disorganised... (1)

You see, all I can think about at the moment is changing things about myself; starting an exercise routine, a better skin routine, a new part-time job. I feel as though I need a complete change, in order to see a complete physical change. Having begun changing my routine in mid-December, I’m already starting to feel the benefits of a regular sleeping and waking pattern, and the lack of junk food and excess alcohol makes a huge difference: I feel far less sluggish, and I have a plethora of energy I didn’t know existed. I’ve gone so far as to start looking at spinning classes and gym membership, and purchased cropped leggings for the purpose of attending the classes. Once the money has been spent, I feel too guilty not to make the most of the service I have paid for.

On a general point then, I’m hoping that this endless amount of energy will fuel not only the functional elements I’d like to change; hopefully it’ll move to me maintaining my blog a little better, and writing a little more, and forming ideas for novels, pictures, and plays. At this point however I digress, into the land of the optimistic, romantic artist. I like to inhabit this beautiful land, because it’s full of hyper enhanced colours and diamonds in the sky. It’s far nicer up there.

And so in this vein, I venture to share another of my works with you;  again, I’d love to hear what everybody thinks of this poem. Since it is loosely related to the theme of writing, and seeking publication in general, it would be interesting to hear what people in a similar predicament think of a poem that could potentially relate to them personally. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Letter to Talent

There was never a chance this would work. Well,
Competition, was inevitable.
There is a large, empty space, on the floor.
Scorch marks, by the fire. My carbon footprint.
The empty bottles, clink. Shame, floods my face.

The letters, the postcards. The newspaper.
Inky reminiscent. They smoulder, underfoot.
Smoke from our forefather. He founded the
Words, and songs; the poems, the plays, to us.
Dedicated literature, burning.
Scorch marks into the hardwood flooring.

Memorandum arrived, all from London.
Messages; Dear Sir; Dear Madam; Truly.
Bundles of new paper, new ideas, all
Etched into fresh, shiny ink. Sketched our words.
Seeking approval, we bid for our place.
A place in time, a magazine. A book.
A place, somewhere, anywhere to belong.

To exist, in the world of creative
Integrity, is a paradox;
Constantly, overshadowed, by bigger,
More powerful talent than your own being.
Carcinogens curl around your pale throat.
Inhaling: Have you found the mystique of
Post modernism, existing beyond
Your own suffering body? Searching for
A reason to stop stamping envelopes…

…The posting out of the charred paper: What’s left?
What is left of soul? You would (screw) everyone.
If everyone was asphyxiated
In your soulful, poetic arms,
Their charred bones. Mind.

*
(But for this agony, of attempts and failure,
Whatever is truly owed to us,
Whatever will become of us.)

-Sarah Alice

(1) http://www.medlineschool.com/Portals/12654/images/outlook.gif

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The Realisation of Complacency

Today, I made an alarming discovery about my mental and physical states of fitness. Which led me to immediately vow that I would change; become more disciplined, fitter, and more aware of food groups. This however will require some commitment on my part; renouncing my deep and everlasting love of Pringles and Chinese food, and forming a wonderful new relationship with the cross trainer in the garage, the swimming pool, and going for rather long walks. It will be tough, but the hardest part to me at least, is wondering how it came to be like this.

When you realise that you have changed, both physically and mentally, you can only wonder when you stopped noticing this change in yourself; what happened to allow you to forget that you still exist as a physical entity? And more to the point, when did you stop wanting to do better? I think this is the worst part, to me at least, because I always want to better at something. I’ve been like this since I was a little kid. I’ve always wanted to look better, feel better, and do better than I did last time, and I think the problem is that I became complacent of myself.

People never do better if they are completely and perfectly happy; perfection, it would seem, does not come from happiness. It comes from relentlessly trying to do it better, no matter what it is; whether it’s making a perfect cheese sauce, being fitter, or getting better academic reviews, complacency does not lead to perfection. A complete obsession with perfection is how people grow. This is where the experts come from. They emerge from their libraries, for only an hour a day, and then they go back in. They do it because they feel as though they are not yet finished, and they, fundamentally, never give up researching, looking into new projects, and writing books, because there is always the nagging sensation in the back of their minds that they aren’t quite done yet. Nothing is finished, as yet.

Sometimes, you have to just drag yourself up a mountain. (1)

This is how I feel most of the time too; largely, I feel as though I have barely started, and therefore complacency at this point is simply idleness and laziness. Therefore, as of tomorrow, I will be implementing a new routine which will hopefully combat this complacency. I cannot abide stand to do nothing, produce nothing; so I will be filling my days with productive hours instead of catching up on television, and I will push through the inevitable barrier of pain, and hopefully, I’ll start to see the results within a week or so.

The human spirit is essentially what allows us to improve because we want to do better. There are people who do not have this desire to have everything; that is entirely their prerogative, and every individual is entitled to act as they wish. However, I’m of the disposition that says I have to do better.

Like I said at the very beginning of this blog, I want to be a writer. That’s all. I want to be good at what I do. So instead of talking about it, and dancing around the idea of being this person that I have fashioned for myself,  I guess I should just knuckle down and start.

(:

(1) http://powerofpositivity.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/mountains.jpg

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