Sarah Alice Goes Back To (relative) Normality


There’s been great excitement in  my life recently, because of a new laptop, and a brand new reading list, for my second year at university. The relief I felt to know I was allowed to return was immense; I’d all but convinced myself that I was destined for smaller things, and would have to move back in with my parents for eternity. And it’s nice to go home of course, but a lifetime is a very, very long time to still be driving your mum’s car, and eating your mum’s dinners.

The reading list for next year is fantastic; much more modern, with far less emphasis on the intricacies of mythology. I’m extremely excited about these modules, mainly because they are the reason I applied for the course in the first place. The modules of first year were an introductory gallop through the history of literature and theory; the second year looks at literature from the eighteenth century to the present day, which is a time period I feel much more comfortable with. I suppose that a literature course has to consider all the facets of literature, from its ancient beginnings. But personally, I shall be happy enough moving on from the ancient world, into the Victorian world, and then the post-modern world.

So, first year is finished, and has been passed. This is something I find reassuring, as though it wasn’t all wasted, as if I’ve done something truly productive this year. I have moved out of my flat, and subsequently, into my new flat. And I think my writer’s block is finally starting to lift, which is something again, that I find reassuring. It’s been weeks, and despite venturing outside, and trying to find things to write about, I just couldn’t think of anything worth saying about very much at all. Work has been a little bit hectic too, which is yet another reason why I’ve had absolutely nothing to say; waitressing doesn’t tend to inspire any ideas, except rants against irritating guests.

The end of the tunnel is being revealed to me however; my new laptop literally sparkles with CPU processing power, and my sleepy brain is starting to be creative and shiny again. Myself and the gym have reawakened a slightly abandoned friendship, which is producing a chemical influx, which is in turn making my brain work again. Examinations called a rather abrupt halt to my ability to write about anything but how stressed I was. And now there’s other things to do; like plan for my trip to Washington, and explore my fundraising ideas for Kenya, next summer. It’s all looking shiny and happy, like an intellectual Disneyland, as it were.

So now I’ve bored you all to death, telling you about the reawakening of my brain, and I promise that tomorrow I’ll write something vaguely interesting. Promise!





This Writer’s Block Shows No Sign Of Letting Up

So things are just a little different at the moment. I seem to be leaving a trail of destruction behind me.  I’m exhausted, because I’ve dived straight back into working long shifts, and I find myself confronted with some rather horrible realisations, especially related to my future, and the path I seem to be following. Or as I like to put it, I haven’t found a path yet; I’m just stood at Clapham junction, waiting for the lights to change. I just haven’t figured it out yet, and it’s starting to affect everything, from my self-esteem, to the ways in which I approach employment, and employability.

So at the moment, I’m bumming around at home, tackling my second year reading list, brushing up on some philosophy, and working every shift I’m allowed to try to save some money up, readying myself for my climb up Kilimanjaro next year. I don’t know what it’s going to be like; I toyed with the idea of dropping out last week. However I received an email that snapped me out of my reverie: my deposit had been processed, and so without any real input from me, the deal was signed and sealed. I’m going to Kenya next June. For sure. I’m sure there’ll be a number of posts about the preparations for the mountain; it’s promising to be a daunting task, and the fundraising itself is going be to a gargantuan challenge; three thousand pounds must be raised.

Another problem I’m facing is that I can’t think of anything to write about. There’s nothing that’s attracting my attention. I seem to have run out of things to write about, because all I can think about, is me. And that’s terribly selfish, and I feel horrendously self-involved. I just don’t know what to say, and I certainly have nothing to say that would be of interest or note to a reader.

I wish I had more to say during this post, but the sad truth is that I don’t. I wish I did. But I don’t seem to be able to think about anything but the above, and I’m hoping I’ll venture back to the blogosphere again soon, hopefully with something better to write about, something a little more positive.



Cultural Revolutions: Libya

The civil war in Libya seems to be a distant memory to most of us, particularly in the wake of the Syrian uprisings; to the unaffected Western spectator, the Middle East and Africa is just one long civil war. The location may change, however the results remain the same. However, at present, Libya is experiencing a change of such magnitude that it will influence the course of the country, irrevocably. The situation after the war is the one that matters to the Foreign Office; we depend on a country’s stability and post-war success to shape our own policies.

Libya is currently being controlled by the interim government, the NTC (National Transitional Council), who took de facto control in the aftermath of the governmental collapse. The transitional council is formed of anti-Gaddafi revolutionaries, who are currently aiming to restore democratic function to the country, including planning for elections of an official government by the middle of the year.

The man himself. (1)

The presence of this government seems to be merely a formality, however to the people of Libya, it represents freedom that they had previously been without; under Gaddafi’s rule, political parties, and anti-governmental publications were banned, and monitored by the “wishwasha”, or secret police. Today, hundreds of new magazines, pressure groups and welfare organisations have sprung up across the capital. Gaddafi’s slogans and portraits have been removed; the process of “de-nazification” seems to have occurred in Libya, practically overnight.

In situations of massive coup d’états, little consideration is given to the positive elements of a dictatorship; in Gaddafi’s case, it seems only prudent to mention his contribution, to this cultural liberation that Libya seems to be experiencing. Under Gaddafi’s rule, literacy in Libya rose to 82% of the population, which remains to be the highest in Africa. The life expectancy of the average Libyan rose from 57 to 77, as a result of the free healthcare system. These investments were made possible by the exploitation of Libyan oil reserves; in the 1980s, at the height of Gaddafi’s rule, the GDP of the nation was greater than that of Italy.

At this point then, it is possible to argue that although Libya is currently in a state of political disarray, and economically has been severely limited as a result of administrative failure in recent years, Gaddafi did provide his populace with skills that inevitably contributed to their ability to rise against their dictator, and displace him, beginning a cultural revolution and subsequently, a new period in Libyan history. Mass literacy means that people are able to begin writing magazines; the manmade river ensures that they will be alive and healthy enough to be able to protest against their leader. It is impossible to condone Gaddafi’s actions whilst he was in power; the most heinous of which was perhaps mass indoctrination by propaganda. However, despite these misgivings, the people of Libya now have education, which is something that can never be sanctioned by the United Nations, or removed under new political systems.




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



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.