On Excellence

I’ve been busy revising incessantly this week, and so I got to thinking, as I often do at this time of year, about the nature of ignorance, by way of the fact that every time I revise, I realise how little I know about my course. Admittedly, I’m only a lowly fresher, bottom of the higher education food chain, however, it is daunting to realise that you know relatively little. I think it also makes you realise how good your lecturers really are; they’re the best, and to be the best, you have to dedicate your life to your chosen specialty.

I don’t know yet, if I will ever become an expert in the field of English, however I’d like to think I’ll become an expert in my chosen field, whatever that may be. I don’t think it makes you ignorant to not know everything about something. It makes you ignorant if you don’t want to know. And I do want to know, however I’m just not sure if I’m able to dedicate my life completely to academia, at this point. I think I’d love to be working in the city in a few years, perhaps acquiring some more vocational qualifications, ready to make my way in the world as a professional in a field that I have yet to choose. Although, I’m not so worried about choosing yet; I still have two years in which to live in my university bubble. That safe place, where all you have to do is learn, and attend weekly parties.

It’s this revision you see; it makes me all contemplative and strangely perceptive about the world. An unfortunate side effect of exams for me is illness. Stress brings me out in ear infections, viral infections, stomach bugs, anything really. My body seems to decide to hate me on the exact week where a fully functioning ear and clear sinuses would be an added bonus. But I suppose beggars can’t be choosers, and I hope that this year will prove an exception to a time-honoured tradition.

Anyway, I must be off. There’s ecocriticism to revise, and critical theory essays to trawl through…

(:

©

Advertisements

On Beautiful Shoes

I genuinely hope to own these one day, they’re Miu Miu (1)

I really enjoy luxurious things. I always have. It’s been something of an expensive pursuit, over the years, and by far the worst part of university is the inability to buy expensive body cream, and pretty clothes. I still do fairly well, all things considered, however being financially responsible is really not something I enjoy. In fact, I’d much rather go back to the days where I bought lots of things, and my Mum told me off for not having any money (because I’d spent it all on something ‘useless’. Occasionally our definitions of useless clashed considerably.) I never used to feel guilty about spending money, however now, I do, if I buy something I could have acquired for less money, or if it’s something I don’t really need.

I do occasionally get round this guilt by persuading myself that I really need a new dress. I go out quite a lot because I’m a student, and therefore I must have something to wear to this multitude of occasions. They also have to be fitting for lots of different things, from casual nights out, to themed space parties. My advice to a prospective student is to find as much dressing up stuff as you can, before you depart on your adventure. It’ll solve so many problems. I also suggest finding false eyelashes, tails, cat’s ears and wings, because I find that they are multi-use items of clothing.

It all depends of course, on where you go to university. If you live in a distinctly rural area, like myself, heels are very rarely worn on a night out, and I think I’ve worn trainers on most of the evenings out I’ve had. I choose this because at some point during the night, I tend to get tired, and take my shoes off. Which means I either walk with the risk of broken glass in my foot, or I change into trainers. I therefore prefer to skip this, and just wear trainers from the outset. If you’re at university in somewhere like London or Bristol however, heels are the norm. You should really adjust your wardrobe accordingly, and don’t take things that you won’t use, because at some point, you’ll have to move out of halls. The best thing to do is streamline the shoe collection, especially if like myself, you’re something of a collector. At home, I have a beautiful shoe collection. And I genuinely worry about them feeling neglected during my long absences.

But anyway, back to my starting sentence. Luxury is something I hope to afford one day in the future. And in the meantime, there are quite a few passable body creams out there. It just depends on how much money you’d like to preserve for things like food, and rent.

(:

(1) http://www.sisow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Miu-Miu-Luxury-Shoes.jpg

©

 

 

 

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!

(:
©

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.

(1)

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

©

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.

(1)

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

©

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

©

Indecision, Haircuts, and Farmers

It’s the eve of my nineteenth birthday, and all I can think about is a profoundly adolescent, female specific problem. Namely, my hair. It’s always sort of hung there, being curly. However now I’m approaching advanced age, I’m thinking of changing it. The colour has to change (I recently experimented with red, and despise it), and I shall need to go back to something vaguely honey and copper toned, I think. I shall leave this in the hands of my hairdresser.

Unfortunately however, I cannot simply give her free rein with the scissors; I need some direction, especially because I have particularly curly hair, which, if cut badly, will never look quite the same again. It will mean hats will be essential for the succeeding six weeks, and the experience is not really one I care to repeat.

(1) Standard haircut protocol...

This kind of conundrum does make me wonder about the superficial expectations of society and the opposite sex as a whole, however it mainly makes me question my own ability to like myself; it would seem my appearance is more important to me than anyone else, and the only person who really worries about my hair’s current colour and style is me. I put a disproportionate amount of time into worrying about my weight, and a conversely small amount of time into worrying about whether my hair looks nice. It rarely looks nice, especially during term time. I lose the ability to maintain grooming habits every time I set foot in my flat. Eyebrows are just sort of painted on, and I start to be less concerned with wearing make up.

It’s very strange to consider how appearance is directly proportional to exposure to modernity; farmers do not worry about their complexions or weight particularly (I’m sure there are exceptions), and country women typically are less concerned about heal heights and skirt lengths. Whenever I’m back in the city, heels become appropriate again, and clothing becomes much sharper. When I’m in the country, anything but jeans can be considered as an example of being overdressed, and knitted jumpers are perfectly acceptable evening attire. In the city, nothing short of a LBD will be worn on a night out. In the country, shorts and a t-shirt with flip-flops are essential. We rarely dress up, unless there’s a space themed party and some tinfoil involved.

Anyway, back to my current conundrum. I want a fringe, possibly, however I’m very worried that this will accentuate my slightly round face. I often look in the mirror and wonder what I was doing on the day they handed out the well-defined cheekbones. I need a new hair colour, and I want something new, however over the last six months I’ve pretty much covered the entire colour spectrum, from platinum blonde, to deep mahogany. I shall be satisfied with lots of highlights and lowlights, I think. In something vaguely honeyed. As long as I’m not ashy blonde anymore, I think I shall leave happy. This still doesn’t tackle the question of the cut though.

Oh, isn’t life hard?

(:

(1) http://www.everydaypeoplecartoons.com/cartoons/327—September-30-October-6,-2007,-sense-of-self-haircut.gif

©

Onwards, Upwards, and Backwards

The problem is time, and loneliness. They go hand in hand; they always have. People do not form meaningful relationships overnight; a classic example of course, is the one night stand. However people also do not form relationships over any short period; there are fleeting friendships, holiday romances, work colleagues. They all form your perceptions of the world around you, and impact you in different ways, however they are rarely long-term friends, or even very good friends, because after all, we impact one another without ever really realizing that we have.

(1) It's nice, to be together. Ask Winnie the Pooh.

I always feel slightly deceived by the cliques that exist in high schools across the world, and the misconceptions that surround universities and colleges, after high school. Nothing really changes, and friends are not magically made. You do have to go out and find them, and hope that whilst you’re away, your old friends don’t move too far away from you. This is one of the worst parts of university; a complete upheaval of everything, including your friends, who are essentially the people you grew up with. It’s hard to be away from the people who know you better than anyone; suddenly you have to start making first impressions all over again, being presentable. You cannot be yourself in its full, unmitigated glory, because people can’t always handle that.

It’s challenging then, to go back to a time where people don’t know you, and have no history with you. They really don’t know you from Adam, and therefore, why would they bother with you if you didn’t come across well? This is a valid point, and one that I think is rather valuable to remember; people don’t owe you anything, ever. You call in favours, you must have history and friendship; the world is build on the latter. It’s a warm fuzzy idea, however sometimes it’s just plain alienating, because the new world is a billion miles away from where it used to be, and nothing is ever quite the same, after that. Including going home.

It’s inevitable that some life changing things will happen, and that some progress will be made. How much or how little is dependent on one’s willingness to change and evolve, and sometimes people have to go forwards in order to appreciate what they used to have. People move on. It’s one of the worst and best things about university, and I think it’s natural to think that. People are the same across the world; even if we were all still together, things would still be moving along. This tends to happen; as horrible as it is during high school, its way worse in reality.

But inevitably, we also find new people. And these people are just as amazing as the old people. They’re our people too. Real friends never tend to move too far away; they always come back given a phone call, or two.

(:

(1) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/best_friends255b1255d.jpg?w=300

©

On Time

Time is fundamental to people. We use time to measure when we should sleep, how long for, and how our entire lives should function. We measure our days in terms of hours and minutes; appointments are scheduled in hours, or half hours. Nine am is the accepted beginning of the work day; this presumption emerges from the natural trend of sunlight and sunset, and broadly, sunlight is present, in the UK at least, from nine until five, for most of the year. There are some black winter days when it is dark by four pm, and not light until nine am, but that is a construct of the seasons.

I’m having a brilliant week, because of an abundance of time. I’m essentially finished for this year, and before exams and revision kick off, I am to enjoy a brief respite from university work. The weather is beautiful, and I have little to do except lie around, reading books, and going to the beach. Waking up in the morning with nothing to do is a fantastic feeling, if it is a rare one. It means you can spend an extra twenty minutes in the gym, and then go home, and conduct your day as you so wish.

Dali+Persistence+of+Time.jpg

Certainly one of the creepiest portrayals of time I've ever seen. (1)

Without any spare time, household, administrative type things cease to happen; the dust on the carpet reaches levels of visibility, the washing basket overflows, and the purse starts to expel receipts. You get too tired to care about doing menial things, and in my opinion at least, this is depressing. I like to have a day, every so often, dedicated to doing boring administrative tasks. Dusting, and laundry, and so forth. I can’t abide not having enough time.

I also have an extremely irritating tendency to develop viral, throat based complaints whenever I’m incredibly tired. If I work a number of extremely busy days at work, with only five hours sleep between the end of one shift, and the beginning of another, I get some form of cold, flu, or sore throat. This has been alleviated somewhat by a tonsillectomy, however I still get twinges of sore throat, and stabbing pain in my ears. I wish I could be one of those people who can function on only four hours sleep every day, but I’m not sure I could- I get very grumpy, past a certain point of exhaustion. To the point where even I don’t recognize the snarling, irritable, pale creature staring out of the mirror.

Anyway, so back to my point; I like having time. We all base everything we do on time constraints, balancing our lives between commitments. In the modern world especially, we’re busier than we’ve ever been. I suppose it’s important to recognise however, that we should always, always, make time to do the washing. Because everyone needs clean pants.

(:

(1) http://www.ideachampions.com/weblogs/Dali%2BPersistence%2Bof%2BTime.jpg

©

Since When Are Student Houses Idyllic Cottages?

However, no matter how nice my cottage is, it's nowhere near as cool as living at Hogwarts... (1)

I have a new house! Which seems a rather random declaration to make, but it’s true; instead of a grotty old flat, I’ve acquired, along with three of my friends, a three bedroom cottage, which is ideally placed in the middle of everything I need to be near. It was the closest I’ve ever come to believing in an intervention in fate; the cherry on top of the house being the fact the landlord is willing to buy new appliances, in colours of our choice (within reason of course). I spent about an hour picking out matching kettles and toasters, as well as pretty pink sofas.

I’ve never really had a house of my own before, and so I’m incredibly excited about the decorating. I like buying things for houses, and I have a sugarplum fairy shaped house planned out in my head. The paint can all be of our choice, as long as it remains in pastel shades; pale pink and purple. We’ve decided we’re going to grow flowers, in window boxes (because it’s a cottage, they’re already installed), and we have a two level back garden, with adorable little steps going up to the top. We’re currently entertaining some rather grand notions about what we’d like to do with the garden; this includes growing our own vegetables, to having barbecues.

This cottage seems to have improved my mood considerably, probably because I like the idea of being able to move into a house and not having to move out again, after a year. We’ll be able to live in our sugarplum cottage until we graduate, which is certainly an advantage to sharing with a smaller group of people; there’s less likely to be huge upheavals in the house, and because we’re all like-minded, we’re unlikely to seriously argue. I feel extremely lucky to have found some people with whom I feel comfortable sharing with for two years, at least.

Anyway, I only have one seminar left now, until the end of term, and revision commences. There will be a couple of revision lectures, however nothing strenuous, and until the end of May, it’ll just be cups of tea, books, and myself. It’s about five solid weeks of work, revision, and exams, but then the summer will arrive, and I’ll be back home with my Mum, Dad, sister and my friends for four whole months. There’ll be a week when I have to come back, to move and decorate my house, but aside from that, it’s back to work and home, just as if I’ve never been away.

I’d love to know how everybody else found their student houses; were they nice, could you decorate, or were they stereotypical student houses, renowned for mould, damp, and leaking pipes? I find housing experiences distinctly fascinating, because they seem to help shape a person’s university experiences. Living somewhere habitable and lovely improves your mindset immeasurably, making you a happier student, and therefore much more likely to get your work done. Sitting amongst moldy, cold houses, is a recipe for disaster.

I’m just feeling incredibly lucky today.

(:

(1) http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lyj226l9nf1r5ap1go1_500.jpg

©