Why Nobody Wants To Be Called Middle-Aged

 

Has anyone ever sat down and wondered at their old photos? It’s my lovely little sister’s sixteenth birthday today, and so we’re sat around, looking at photos from when we were both just tiny tots. And it’s hilarious. I was a victim of the perpetual bad hair day, and my sister just looked like a thug, with the biggest baby head I have ever seen. She also had an adorable little top-knot. It made her look a little bit like a teletubby. Does anyone remember tellytubbies? I used to quite like them.

I also quite enjoy looking at what your parents used to look like, twenty years ago before your teenager strops and tantrums turned them grey, or bald, or thin, or fat. It’s even more strange to look at them in long-forgotten holiday photos, before you were born, when your Mum was still blonde, and your Dad carried a slightly more svelte figure than you’ve ever seen. It’s really, really weird when you realise your mother was the dead spit of you, and therefore you catch something of a glimpse at what you will look like in middle-age.

I always think the phrase ‘middle age’ has slightly negative connotations. The Middle Ages, in Britain at least, were dark, and smelly, on the whole. Technology hadn’t begun to advance, and people had come to something of an intellectual standstill. Illness was rife, death was more common than a bucket of sewage on the head, and to add to this predicament, religious order was still a serious issue. As in, well, there wasn’t one. I think I’ve found the reason why nobody likes to be referred to as middle-aged.

And then there’s the problem of after middle-age. Old. Elderly. An older person. Nobody would ever want to be referred to as old, and I can imagine being unbelievably irritated if somebody had referred to me as old, even if I was about ninety-six years old. Anyway, I have to go, and carry on my excursion down memory lane. I apologise for my collection of thoughts on age; I’ve never known what it’s like to be old, but I suppose one day, it’ll creep right up on me.

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On Coming Home

A very short note, to prove to all of you that I haven’t abandoned the blogging-sphere. I haven’t, really, I’ve just taken a small blogging hiatus, whilst I’m on a holiday of sorts, with one of my best friends. Anyway, the holiday is drawing to a very rapid close, and this time tomorrow, I will have skipped merrily across the country, back to my own house, and my own bed. I’m very excited.

I think my love of coming home stems from the fact that when I was younger, I couldn’t wait to move out; I thought it would be the best thing ever; you know the drill. Unlimited freedom, the power to go wherever I wanted, with whomever I wanted to. The part I managed to leave out of my perfect little fantasy, was that with unlimited freedom, comes unlimited responsibility. Money, bills, rent, and so on. All those things that just sort of weren’t there when you were fourteen, and designing grand houses that you would move into, as soon as you escaped from home. I realised however, this was the most preposterous thing I’ve ever done in my life. Ever.

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Anyway, the point is, that in twenty-four hours, I’ll be back at home with my parents and little sister, and all my teddy bears. I’m nineteen in a week, and I still cannot wait to go home, put on my onesie (they look ridiculous, but it’s like being in a bag of blanket), and cuddle up with my Mum. Whenever I tell people this, they either think it’s lovely, or that I’m somehow pathetic, and not independent; I think the two concepts are not the same. Loving home, and being independent, are not the same thing. There’s a distinction to be made, and I always feel as though people should realise the difference, and appreciate things they have, whilst they have them.

So to conclude: the rucksack is packed, the train tickets are ready to go. A spot of washing, and the making of packed lunch, and we’ll land back in the homeland before you know what’s hit you. Guess who’s back?

(1) http://www.twincitieshomeforeclosures.com/images/home/quotes/HFquote10.gif

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University Life Collides With Reality

Monday morning has arrived again, with the same reluctant manner as usual; a busy week, dominated by revision, essay hand ins, and lectures. However it is the last morning of term, which does provide a modicum of relief. The next Monday will be spent shopping, and the Monday after that will be spent at work; a return to the working world, to my job, back at home. Home and work feels remarkably different to university life; a person goes through a whole adjustment phase, every time they move back to the place they came from. It’s a constant movement, and a person is constantly in flux, preparing to move.

This form of nomadic lifestyle is at best, confusing; by the time one has adapted to living on campus properly, it is time to start looking for a house for the second year; this is done working on presumptions such as your friends will remain the same as they were last year, and you will pass the year, in order to progress onto the next one. Location is central to where a person wants to live. Near campus, or in town; in a village, or in a nearby city. Transport costs have to be taken into account; are lectures within walking distance of the house, or will you have to take the bus in? This is all fundamental to choosing a nice house, and when you’ve found a house that is acceptable, whether you can put the deposit down before anybody else gets to it first. (1)

Anyway, I’m preparing for my next trip home; I’m incredibly excited, because I simply cannot wait to see my Mum and Dad again; three months pass by, where I have to do my own washing and cook my own food; the magnitude of this is unrecognisable, until you have to actually do it, yourself. I have a flatmate who had never used a washing machine before, and to the day, we haven’t seen him cook. Life skills are learnt in a crash course of university life, ironically in the same week as Freshers. During Freshers, we have one priority: meet people, make friends, form bonds. The second priority is how many parties can be crammed into one week, or in our case, into two. It’s possibly one of the most turbulent periods of anyone’s life; all routine is poured down the drain in favour of partying.

Once you get over this particular period however, you can start to recognise opportunities; employability courses, endless societies, cheap gym membership. University offers far more than a bar full of cheap liquor, and offers access to people from all walks of life, people whose research is quite literally at the forefront of their fields. That is an extremely unique opportunity to have. Those who remain as drunkards on campus for a year tend to fall behind, at some point, whilst the rest of us sit in our rooms, at our desks, and ponder what on earth will happen, when we have to leave the safety, of the bubble. I mean, we might have to get a job, and everything.

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(1) http://thebackpew.com/backpew/images/lordsaveme.jpg (Credit to Jeff Larson)

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Oh, What It Is to Be Excited…

I'd like a bed like this one day. (1)

So here we are again; another sunny Monday morning with the prospect of university essays, the gym, and the laundry to be doing. However, today is an exciting Monday, because today is the day of the Asda deliver. I promise that I’m not getting excited purely for the delivery of vegetables; I’m excited because I found a double duvet and pillowcase set, with pretty trees on it, for £2.77. And so obviously, I had to buy it. I love duvet covers. I especially like clean ones. So I’m really quite looking forwards to the changing of the duvet, later tonight. Which, as a I read that sentence back, I realise sounds a little bit sad. But nevertheless, I like pretty stuff. I especially like it when it is on sale. I think it’s a genetic programming issue.

Another upcoming event, with perhaps a tad more significance, is my impending birthday; I’ll reach the grand old age of nineteen, very soon, and therefore that’s an excuse for a party. Or in this case, a venture to a nice restaurant with ten of my oldest friends. The restaurant “Las Iguanas” is a place I’ve been desperate to try, however it is a little bit too expensive to justify it on an everyday basis. However, birthdays mean special things can happen, and therefore I feel the pressing urge to eat South American fare. I shall consider it a prelude to my visit to the continent in 2014. A necessary training exercise, one might say.

I really enjoy celebrations; not surprise parties, or massive community hall get-togethers, but I like a nice dinner, with all my favourite people. All I really want to do with my family for my birthday is snuggle up with my Mum and Dad on the sofa, and watch Swamp People, an ingenious television program about the alligator hunters of America. I wouldn’t mind eating a steak whilst I do it, maybe with some peppercorn sauce. I think celebrations ought to be as large or as small as one would like. Equally however, I’m excited to get dressed up in something pretty, and go out with all my friends.

But before this, I get to see one of my best friends, because she’s coming to visit me at university at the end of term. It’s going to be a mini-holiday, in lieu of going on a proper one; we’ll use my flat for a holiday house, and do holiday-type things; going to the beach, going out for cocktails, and watching DVDs. It’s going to be a wonderful few days, ended by the cross-country train journey back to reality, work, and home.

In conclusion then, I’m quite excited, about lots of things. My friend visiting, my Asda order, and my birthday plans, to name just a few. It’s going be amazing. Now, I just have to tackle that essay…

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(1) http://www.terrysfabrics.co.uk/images/P/Lottie-Duvet-Cover-Gold.jpg

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The Road Less Travelled

Last night, I sat down, and decided to read my novel for next week; the novel in question being Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The novel focuses on a destroyed America; a world in which commercial values and commodities have been completely destroyed, and the only living people left are either ‘the good guys’ or ‘the bad guys’. The two groups are defined; society has been reduced, in the wake of this destruction, to being composed of binary opposites; good and bad, dead or alive, starving or not.

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The world of binary opposites is something proposed in Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics. Binary opposites exist to define the world in relation to what it is not; something that is essential in McCarthy’s The Road. The child is a haunting reminder of the innocence of childhood, and the ways in which it can be affected by the nature vs. nurture environment, and is a striking example of how environment is paramount to the development of a person.

The way in which America, or the developed world is portrayed here takes us back to an almost prehistoric sense of existence. The scavenging and hiding that occurs is almost animalistic, and the country seems to reduce its inhabitants to little more than dogs, in the ways in which they try to survive. Hiding, and seeking refuge, is a part of human nature, or of the fight or flight response. This is not however limited to humans alone; animals often confront their attackers in the same way as the man in the novel, who shoots the person holding his little boy hostage.

The division between being a human and being an animal is made by way of the fact that the man remembers his wife, and the birth of his child; his ultimate role in the novel is to keep the boy safe, to protect him from harm. The harm that befalls him is primarily psychological, and represents how parents, with all the love in the world, cannot always protect their children from the world outside; this idea is not just limited to burned out pieces of America, or a world in which law has been removed; it is present throughout real life too, and the novel highlights rather acutely, how experiences befall people and how they cannot always be protected from these experiences.

The issue of paternal love then, is very prevalent throughout the novel; there is nothing the father won’t do for the child, and rather disturbingly, he has had to teach the child how to use the pistol, a symbol that runs through the novel, to commit suicide in an emergency. Self destruction is constantly debated through the novel, and the man himself often meditates on the benefits of suicide; his goal is to reach the coast, however the reasoning behind it isn’t made particularly clear; what lies ahead of them seems to be endless foraging, scavenging, seeking survival; however in such a desolate landscape, the reader simply wants to ask, “but why?”.

This term as far as novels go, has been far more rewarding than the last. I’m a huge fan of postmodern literature, and the development of modern literature often grabs my attention to a much greater extent than classical literature. The novel itself is terrifying and extremely sad; it makes a person question how they would survive under such a hostile environment. I recommend reading it, if you have an evening devoid of entertainment, especially because it’s thought-provoking, and asks questions that focus very much around the environmental crisis, and the nature of human survival in the wake of an apocalypse.

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(1) http://thewordofward.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/theroad.jpg

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