Back, Back Again

 

Now, I know what you’re going to say. She’s come crawling back to the blogosphere, like a cheating husband to a scorned wife, when he’s run out of clean shirts, and his mistress has dumped him. She’s been absent for nearly a month. This, of course, is all true. I have come crawling back. Again. But, dear reader; my absence has been due to a trip to the USA, and general apathy towards writing.

I’ve been plodding on with a manuscript that is breaking my heart. Whenever I try to write, I end up wanting to bang my head against my desk. My protagonists seem to have taken on lives of their own, completely beyond my control. They’ve turned into irritable toddlers, with ideas completely outside of my own. I was warned of this, but like all major problems, you never really think that they’ll happen to you. Ah, sweet ignorance.

Anyway, I’m back to regular rambling about all kinds of things, all over again. As per usual, I’ve come back with more resolutions to be healthier, write more, work harder, and so on. I think I experience something of a New Year’s epiphany every six weeks or so. As I write this, I’m wondering whether I ought to take up yoga, or if it’d make me more relaxed. Or whether there might be something to become serene, and taking up meditation. Unfortunately though, I lack the patience to meditate. Thinking crates a bit of a distraction. Trying to sleep is turning into something I can only do between six am and eleven am. Nighttime is turning into a dark place, in which I try to name all of the states in the USA, or wonder what it would be like if alligators could fly.

Anyway, I’m sorry about my lengthy absence. I have lots of blogging, and reading to get done. There are awards to reciprocate, and books that I have read recently that I ought to review. That should give me enough material to resolve your insomnia, dear reader.

(:

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Prom Pandemonium

Today is my little sister’s prom, and it’s fantastic. She’s absolutely terrified. However, we’re one step closer to being ready; our nails have been done, at two the hair will be done, and then it’ll be make up, and time to get dressed. I’ve been given the job of being a lady in waiting for the day; on hand to do things such as doing up dresses.

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It’s strange to watch because I remember my prom, and it seems like a million years ago. Really, it was three years ago. And the prom that’s taking place today is far more sophisticated, taking place in a hotel instead of the school hall, but on the downside, the food sounds an awful lot worse. I think the decor will be pretty and we’ve had to have a ‘getting out the car’ rehearsal. The music will be lovely and there will be wholesome, school disco dancing.

I think I might be more excited than she is though, because at the moment she’s just paralysed with fear. She can’t button up her shirt because her hands are shaking so much, and she keeps saying she’s not hungry. Her poor date is going to have a meltdown on his hands in the car on the way in. It’s just because she wants it to be perfect, and everything has to go off without a hitch. It’s all in the detail.

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She wants her hair tied up in a loose bun, with curled strands around her head. Her nails are so long that they’re scaring me a little bit. She’s going to look like a little princess, who has just finished school. She’s all grown up, and she’s going to the after party with her friends, and it’s just so exciting. The icing on top of the cake is that the sun has come out, and since she’s going in a convertible Mercedes, that’s something of a benefit.

Listening to all the prom related conversations is something of a bizarre experience, because I’ve spent all day talking about chiffon, acrylic nails, hair styles, cleanser, Clinique foundation, eye shadow, the make up she’d like to wear… and so on. I am girly and I like doing all this girly pampering stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a long conversation about the benefits of a kitten heel. (Personally I’m not a fan; an all or nothing kind of girl, you might say).

Anyway, I have to go and sort out an exfoliation on my little sister’s back now, so that her skin will be shiny and fresh for tonight… I’ll let you know how it goes!

(:

(1) http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/hamsterman/hamsterman1105/hamsterman110500142/9567877-composition-with-makeup-brushes-and-broken-multicolor-eye-shadows.jpg

(2) http://www.carreviews2012.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/mercedes-clk-coupe-300×225.jpg

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A Friendly Face In A Doctor’s Surgery Is As Rare As A Cuddly Great White Shark

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been recently trampled by a pack of wild dogs, whilst being forced to ingest razors. My head was pounding, and my throat was on fire. And I sighed, and resigned myself to the usual amount of pre-exam viral infection, and went about trying to do all those things that make you feel better. One of the worst things about living alone when you are ill however is that there’s no one to look after you, and make cups of tea. And this means that really, if I’d like tea, well, I’ll have to scrape myself off my mattress, and go and make some.

I often fantasize about having a robot precisely for this sort of thing. Doing stuff you can’t quite manage to do yourself, or indeed cannot be bothered to do yourself. I wish I had a robot who could book appointments to the doctors. I promised my mum that I’d go tomorrow, if I wasn’t feeling any better, which isn’t a problem in itself, however in order to actually get an appointment, you have to phone as soon as the radio beeps at eight in the morning, and then you spend some time doing battle with the elderly people and the babies, trying to get a slot that isn’t at an entirely preposterous time of day, like ten past eight, or six twenty.

A Standard Day At the Surgery… (1)

Doing battle with the irritable receptionist is also an exercise in patience; I’m not even offered a ‘good morning’ anymore, but instead I’m barked a time, usually something ridiculously inconvenient, at the precise time that the heavens open and I have to walk there in the rain.

Students, unfortunately, alongside middle-aged adults, are at the bottom of the healthcare food chain; we’re too old to be considered children, and our immune systems are reaching their peak. The elderly always seem to fill up the waiting room, and yet seem perfectly healthy whilst they chat to their friends at high volume, because none of them have their hearing aids switched on. When my friends and I are in attendance, we’re usually bleeding, coughing, or expelling some kind of bodily fluid. One could say that we at least have the decency to look as though we need medical attention.

So now I’m definitely feeling as though exam season is approaching. I’ll probably miraculously recover about twenty minutes after the end of my last exam, but up until then the only exciting thing I shall be doing is taking regular paracetamol, and taking in lots of fluids. I shall probably spend too much time watching Sex and the City and revising from my bed, with a book. I like the circulatory nature of university life; we begin the year with Fresher’s Flu, and end it with something I like to refer to as “exam fever”. Living together is like a breeding ground for viral infection, especially if you’re frequenting the nightclubs and bars on a regular basis too. It’s days like today when I start to think Sheldon Cooper is on to something about avoiding people and infection…

I must dash anyhow. I need to slump and make some more tea. (Or text my flatmate to see if she’ll do it…)

(:

(1) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/jdi/lowres/jdin31l.jpg

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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…

(:

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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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A Charitable Venture: 960 Miles On A BMX

So guys, two of family friends are attempting to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats on BMX bikes, which means that they don’t get to use gears or anything, and lots of the journey is uphill. The journey is amazingly challenging physically, and the two guys have to be in incredible fitness to be able to pull this thing off. The best part of this is that they’re doing it in aid of the charity “Cyclists Fighting Cancer”. The charity works towards fighting cancer, something that has affected many of us, and will continue to do so, until we can beat this thing!

So please dig deep, and donate as much or as little as you can in aid of the cause, and please re-blog this if you feel you’re able, or if you feel it’s a worthy cause!

http://www.justgiving.com/BMXend2end

http://cyclistsfc.org.uk/

Thank you so much for your continued support, and please help these guys, they’re incredible!

(:

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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

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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

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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 Absence

Dying, I suppose, is an inevitable part of being alive. We write about death all the time; in our speech, we say “I’m gonna kill you”; “Oh, I feel like death…”, and so forth. We never really appreciate the full gravitas of what we say. This isn’t just limited to death however; we misunderstand, or at least fail to appreciate the full significance of an idea, or a word, on a regular basis. We just never realise the full potential of what we are saying.

However, when people do disappear, whether they die, or you just lose contact with them, it’s an inexplicable feeling. It’s horrible, because you feel like something is missing. And that’s reasonable, because something is missing. There’s a part of your life that has changed; that change is often set in stone, and that’s just a part of life. People change on the basis of loss, and how they cope with it.

Humans are incredible to the extent that we can adapt to a hostile environment, and change accordingly. We wouldn’t be able to exist on a planet that fundamentally exists on the basis of change if we couldn’t; we have to just roll with the punches, and salvage what we can from the mess we leave behind us. Even the most hygienic, tidy and scrupulous human being leaves mess in their wake. I’m not talking about leaving tea cups, crisp packets and toast crumbs behind you; I mean emotional mess; the stack of relationships, friends, people that we find in our wake. We always have an impact on the people we care about. We also have an impact on people we barely even recognize.

Equally, our people leave us in their wake; they change our expectations of the world around us, for better, or for worse. We have to know what it means to be sad in order to be a whole, rounded person. People that are perpetually happy, all the time won’t know how strong they are until they have to come back from something vile, something impossible. You cannot possibly know how strong you are until you have to be strong.

So people, in absence, is terrifying, horrible; it is impossibly cruel. Especially when people are young, and they die far, far too young. People lose their kids, their wives, and their husbands. Those people are full of a strength that people have to find for themselves; it cannot be learnt, and it cannot be studied from a book. “A degree from the university of life”, one might say. Because that’s what it is; it’s life, and life is scary. I don’t know very much about life; I’m eighteen. But I know a little bit, just enough to know it’s scary, and the things I have seen barely scratch the surface of the things I may see, one day.

I think then, in conclusion, you should say what you think; appreciate people. Know that you have to be sad sometimes, in order to be strong. That’s the really hard part. Standing up and realising that life goes on, whether you want it to or not. I suppose you just have to appreciate life, and the fact that you’re in it, whilst you can. Do stuff; be something, and don’t waste it.

“Did you say it? ‘I love you. I don’t ever want to live without you. You changed my life.’ Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work towards it. But every now and then, look around, and drink it in. Because this is it. And it might all be gone tomorrow.” – Grey’s Anatomy

I realise the quote is horribly cheesy, directly quoted from television drama; but I still think it’s a very nice message to put across.

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