Thursday, 30 May 2013

Look at me like that.

"It's always been you, Rach."

It's universal. Even if you don't openly admit it, everyone loves the feeling- knowing that someone cares about them, that someone would break their arm or their neck to make sure you're happy, safe and well. It's an indescribable feeling, knowing that you matter to someone. Matter, in a positive sense, not just in a I-appreciate-that-someone-is-there-to-serve-me-my-coffee-or-drive-my-bus presence, but someone who feels connected to you in a personal way. We all want it. That feeling that we actually matter to someone. When you read that, you probably thought of someone immediately. That is this person. That is the someone who you wish/want/does care about you, probably more than words can say, and you love it. Maybe openly, maybe guiltily or maybe shyly, but it's probable that on some level, you do.

                                                I just can't get enough of Meredith and Derek.

I want someone to look at me like there's nothing around them, and I'm the centre focus of their entire vision. The way Ross looks at Rachel. The way Tony looks at Ziva (NCIS). The way, undeniably, Harry looks at Sally (way before they get together!) The way Derek looks at Meredith (Grey's Anatomy), with nothing but admiration, love and devotion in his eyes. The way Caleb looks at Hanna (Pretty Little Liars) when he wraps his arms around her waist, or the way Liam loves Annie (90210) and always has and always will. That look. The moment Kevin Doyle admits he loves during weddings- the way the groom looks at his bride as she walks down the aisle; just like the way he will later look at Jane. (27 Dresses)

                                            Gatsby and Daisy, probably the most tumultuous
 couple of all.

There are hundreds of pairings like this, all well-known in their own way. Austin Ames and Sam Montgomery (A Cinderella Story) Chandler and Monica, Gatsby and Daisy, on an ironic note: Leo and Kate (both in Titanic and Revolutionary Road) Carrie and Big, Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, Abby Richter and Mike Chadway, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew. These are, probably my favourite on-screen or literary pairings, all sharing one main trait. The look. They've all done it, either on paper or on screen, they've stared into the eyes of their one true love, and metaphorically, the blurring began. Everything else disappears. The moment takes over, and for just a few seconds, nothing else matters, nothing else is of any consequence. It's just the two of them, in the heat of the moment, recognising that that glance, is worth more than can be put into words, that glance, is what everyone everywhere longs for, the glance that will change your perspective, or change your life. The glance, that, for all intents and purposes, is sometimes, everything you'll ever need.

Always on the edge of my seat, waiting for the day Tony and Ziva 
finally submit to their desires.

Bite back your venom.

Words don't even sting anymore. Sticks and stones may break my bones and all that, yeah? That's the well-known saying anyway. An immediate thought. "You nasty little bitch. I hate you." At one time or another, I'd have recoiled at such words being screamed at me, but now.. No. I didn't even blink. It's like words can be thrown about all over nowadays. People think nothing of calling someone a bitch, a whore, a bastard or even the occasional and definitely hated C-word. People don't bat their eyelids anymore. Insults: are they only as real as the reactions they receive? Perhaps. I guess it all depends on context. I tend to have a bit of a foul mouth from time-to-time, and I'd hate to think that someone was flinching or feeling uncomfortable because of it. 

Words maybe really are just words now. A few years back, if someone called me a "bitch" or a "slut" I'd have reacted. I'd probably be in tears. You're probably thinking that's a sign I've grown up in that time. Well, yes. That too. But I don't think that's completely it. We live in a world where we can scream and shout and swear and then walk away, and your words hang in the air, they don't follow you around. A moment of madness, is well, exactly that. You can scream and insult me all you like, and I'll probably take a dislike to you, but I'm not going to cry over the words you throw at me. They are, obviously, just words. We shrug them off in a way that maybe in the past, they'd haunt us, our slurs would be our acting shadows. They only mean as much as the reaction they receive and the context they are said in. Is everything getting worse in our world? So much so, that the foundations of our language are actually falling apart? Are these bitter slurs losing their meaning, are we losing our insulting touch, or, simply, are we becoming immune to verbal abuse?

Straight faced. No emotion. Let the words pass over you like a breeze of wind. Don't let words hit you. I'm not saying that words shouldn't mean anything, but I don't think they should mean everything. If I call you a horrible nasty little slut in the heat of the moment, it doesn't actually mean I think you are a slut. I know the principle I'm presenting is probably wrong, but in a way, its very true. I tend to speak before I think and then hear what I've said and recoil, shocked. Does it take a taste of our own bitter slurs to realise the impact? Do people just not take insults seriously anymore? Or really, as long as you know what context those bitter slurs are spat in, do they really not matter at all? 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


You're the person I want to speak to at three in the morning because of a dream I've just had. The one whose name makes me smile as soon as I hear it. The only person I'd want to be drinking whiskey with in the middle of the night, exchanging random facts and sharing giggles. The one person who always puts a smile on my face. The one with the occasionally-altering shadow, but, still, you're there. You're the one that's there to hold my hand, or my hair back when I've drank too much. The one who is forever texting me, reads my blog and never fails to be there when I need you. The person I see in the mirror, the supermarket or in my imagination. Who is this person?

This person alters. They are in many places at once, and take on many different forms. My best friends, my wavering love-interests, my family, my awkward friends, my acquaintances, every single person who has had an impact on my life. I love you all. I need you all, and you all, in some way, I'd like to think, need me too.

Even the people who put me down or are waiting for me to screw up, I thank you. (slightly clich√©  to thank "the haters") but that's not what this is. This is, merely, saying thank you, to everyone who has been in my life, whether it be for the long-haul, or just fleetingly, you all, I think, helped me to get to where, and who I am today. Maybe I do wish there are certain people I'd never met, become friends with, or even just had the unfortunate luck of bumping into, but in the long run, I truly am beginning to believe, even the bad times, give me a reason to smile. Because they are in the past, and everyone who put me down, needs to be shown, it was only temporary. I have a reason to smile, and the funny thing is, it's not because of, nor ever will it be, you. Your words don't sting like they used to.

keep the questions coming in.

This is something I'd never tried before, but I decided last week, to experiment with my writing. This, to follow, is a story, albeit short and vague, told basically through the use of questions and inferred answers. I kind of like it, so I hope you're intrigued too.

What If:

What if this is all too close to home?
What if I'm making the worst decision of my life?
What if this will make me a laughing stock? 

What if he doesn't know?
What if your friends hate me?
What if your ex looks down her nose at me? 

What will my family think?
What will yours think?
Do you even like me?
Do you actually care?
Am I kidding myself?
Did I really drink that much?
Are we really serious?
What am I worth?
Do you make me laugh?
Are you worth my time?
Am I worth your energy?
Can you do better?
Can I do better?
Can I do worse?
Can you do worse?
Do you still love her?
Does she still hate you?
Why did you do it?
Did you intentionally hurt her?
Is that even worse?
Who was she?
Was she really worth it?
Am I?
Do you like me?
Are you just lying to me?
Should I trust you?
Why should I?
What have I got to gain?
Am I going to lose you? 

Does the thought of him bother you?
Have I got anything to gain?
Should I get out while I still can?
Is there a reason my friends don't like you?
How do you say my name?
Are you ignoring me?
What's your number?
Is that a tattoo I see there?
What colour are my eyes?
How tall are you?
Are you going to buy me a drink then?
Is that okay?
Is that all?
Do you forgive me?
Are you sorry?
Did you mess up?
Did you cry?
Was that your biggest mistake?
What do you want from me?
What do you want from life?
If you could, what would you change?
Do you believe in fate?
Am I a good kisser?
Where is your hand going?
Did I say move it?
Are you okay?
Are you sure?
Why are you laughing?
Should I be worried?
Should I be scared?
Am I making a mistake?
Should it matter?
Should you matter?
Will you treat me with respect?
Do you know what "no" means?
Should I trust you?
What's your star sign?
Why aren't you replying?
What if I walked away?
Would you run after me?
What was the last promise you made?
Did you break it or keep it?
Are you honest?
Are you offended?
Are these questions daunting?
Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?

Is that your phone ringing?
Was it her?
Please say you ignored it?
Is it hot in here or is that just me?
What do you think?
What are you feeling?
Do you regret it?
Do you care?
Is that funny?
Are you as embarrassed as I am?
Should we have another vodka?
Is that a cigarette in your hand?
Can I have a drag?
Will you open the window?
Is this your room?
Are you acting like you mean it?
Are you faking it?
Should I wait?
Are you the right guy?
Are you the wrong guy?
Is the timing right?
Is the lighting right?
Is that kind of wrong?
Wait, is that my phone? 
How did we get here?
Are you okay?
Will you remember me?
Is that weird?
Is that attractive?
Should I feel stupid?
Why do I feel stupid?
What's going on?
Why is my head hurting?
Can you get me a glass of water?
Is this gin?
Are you trying to kill me?
Is that better?
Is that worse?
How much do you care?
Why do I want to cry?
Are you sure this is okay?
Do you promise?

How the hell do you sleep at night?
Is that weird?
Is that the door?
Are you leaving so soon?
Have you got somewhere else you'd rather be? 

Can I just?
How about I'll wait?
Will you do one thing for me?
How awkward is that?  
Do I want to know?
Are you laughing at me or with me?
Should I be flattered?
Should I be offended?
Why am I not surprised?
You've got to go?
You can't stay for a coffee?
Can you put that cigarette out?
Will you not slam the door?
Should I?
Can you make me a promise you'll keep?
Do you like me?
Do you have feelings for me?
Do you love me?
Do you hate me?
Am I a rebound?
Am I being used?
Am I even pretty?
Do you even see me when you look at me?

What colour did you say my eyes were?
Where shall we go?
How far have we come?
Are you happy?
Are you tired?
Can you bare it?
Can you handle all these endless questions?
Am I right?
Am I?
Is that a rhetorical question?
Is this too soon?
What kind of things do you write?
Is that about me?
Are you trying to impress me?
What if I am?
Is it working?

Will you take a risk?
Are you ready for that?
What if you we take our time?
Who is it you see when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

What's your favourite song?
Do you know the lyrics?

Will you take my hand and sing it with me?
Will you do one thing for me?
What's that?
Will you give us a chance?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Would you like a gag with that compliment?

Receiving a compliment is weird. It's kind of positive, but it's also kind of negative in one sense. While I like to think I'm quite good at accepting compliments, (not because I'm vain, or think the person is right in what they say) but purely because I think sometimes, it's better to accept a compliment, than deny it and somewhat publicly humiliate the complimenter by throwing it back in their face. Its like, that just isn't very polite. I also feel that if I deny a compliment, someone might actually take offense and feel that I'm being weird and stand-offish, when that wouldn't actually be the case.

Meanwhile, refusal to accept a nice remark or comment made by someone, whether it be a friend, relative or stranger, can actually make you question yourself further. Someone recently told me they thought I was pretty, and I immediately jumped up, defensively, and shrugged off their compliment, when deep down I could have (and should have) just smiled and realised that actually it was a nice comment coming from a nice place. While this person was complimenting me, I was going over and over in my head listing the things that were, in my opinion, wrong with myself, both internally and externally, and why, in my opinion, this comment was not fitting for little old me. Compliments are sometimes back-handed, yet this is unintentional. Cue a Mean Girls quote: "Oh my god, I love your bracelet, where did you get it?" and shrink back with disdain and hatred we collectively share for arch-nemesis and ultimate bitch, Regina George. What about these: "Is your hair different, it looks nice" makes you think "does it look a mess usually?" "Have you lost weight?" Is that a hint that you probably need to shed a few pounds? A comment on your physical appearance makes you feel analysed and subjected, and yet happy/sad/worried at the same time. I don't ever think I've had bundled of self-confidence, but every so often, there will be peaks and troughs, just a everyone has.

When someone comments positively about me, maybe I don't believe them because previously, someone who has said the same or a similar thing, turned out to be lying/not really bothered/not who I thought they were, so maybe their judgement isn't to be trusted. Am I afraid of what the compliment means, in both surface meaning and deeper meaning? Yes. What if someone I like tries to flatter me and I turn all gullible and believe every word they breathe in my presence, then later turn out to have been taken for a ride, and end up looking stupid and foolish. Yet another reason to avoid accepting and believing compliments. An outfit praise, a "thin" comment or a realisation that my hair is different to what it was yesterday can all spark the same gut-wrenching reaction. We jerk backwards. We recoil. We hide away from the positives and seemingly attract the negatives like magnets. It is, of course, proven that while you can receive a hundred compliments and doubt every single one, yet one insult or negative comment, and it will dwell and stay with you for years.

Ross: Rach, come on, look, I know how you must feel.
Rachel: No, you don't, Ross. Imagine the worst things you think about yourself. Now, how would you    feel if the one person you trusted most in the world not only thinks them too, but actually uses them as reasons not to be with you.
Ross: No, but, but I wanna be with you in spite of all those things.
Rachel: Oh, well, that's, that's mighty big of you.
Ross: You know what? You know what? If things were the other way around, there's nothing you could put on a list that would ever make me not want to be with you.
Rachel: Well I guess that's the difference between us. See, I'd never make a list.

Say "hello" to our little one.


The reason I've been AWOL the last few days is this. On Saturday, very much spur of the moment, we decided to go and look at a puppy. Meet the newest member of our family, Heidi. She's only just 9 weeks old, and is a Shih-Tzu and Bichon Frise cross. Mad I know, technically called a Zuchon. She's very cute, ocassionally bitey and growing on us fast. So, just a little note to introduce you all, to our newest little bundle, who, hopefully, will grow to love being a part of our slightly crazy family.

Young, free and changeable: That is the question.

I'm a strong believer in the theory that people, despite what is said, can, and do, change. The old clich√© is that, some people are destined to be the same selfish, back-stabbing, bitchy teens they always were. Young, free and reckless, yeah? Well, not always. People DO grow up, grow out of their "flaws" and realise their mistakes. I recently began exploring this sentiment, as it was relevant to something happening in my life. The question I raised with my closest friends was just that. Do you think people can change? And what was the answer I received? Yes. Of course they can. I would hate to think that there were people judging me on the mistakes I made in the past, as after all, they ARE in the past, not in the present. We all do stupid things we come to regret, and while some are more serious than others, I guess it's possible, no matter how much we like to think its untrue. 

We could all make potentially damaging mistakes in the heat of the moment, and would we really want our heads put on the chopping board for life, because of a Friday night's drunk antics, or a text you sent when you were pissed off, or the punch you threw in year nine over lunch? We all make mistakes and are, inevitably, all subject to prejudices. I truly do (and want to) believe that we can all learn from our mistakes, rather than repeat them over and over and over again. Maybe we shouldn't have to serve life-sentences for petty crimes, maybe we should be more forgiving, and maybe, just maybe, leopards really do change their spots. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Promises promises.

My general musings scare me from time to time.

I got to thinking. How easy some people seem to find it, to walk out of my life without a second glance or a pang in their conscience? How easily some people shrug off how much I mean to them or how much they mean to me. What our time spent together meant, what that look said last week, and how difficult or easy they found the decision to walk out of the front door of my life, and never ever open it again.

Over the years, countless people have left. For various different, or, sometimes, unknown reasons. The friend who moved away and swore she'd keep in touch, just like she swore she'd keep my secrets and take them to the grave. But sometimes, people make promises they can't keep. They say they won't hurt you, and go ahead and big-fat-do-it-anyway (to quote Phoebe Buffay.)

Don't make me a promise you can't keep. Don't say you'll stay when you've got one hand on the door-handle, turning the key with the other. If you aren't sure, that's okay, because maybe I'm not sure either. But does that matter? Don't lie to me. I deserve more than that. And if you valued me at all, as a girl, as a female, as a human being, as a friend, or anything more, you'd respect me enough to tell me the truth.

Don't lie to me. It'll all come out in the end, and I'm through with that. I'm through being the laughing stock, the girl nobody wants to be near, the one who just doesn't really matter to anyone. It's a feeling that's enough to make you sick. I've spent days wanting to hide under my quilt, never to resurface, because of what someone said to me one night. Nobody has any idea how that makes me feel, that in between my friends, and endless string of male species (not all at once, or forming a line, you must know) who treat me like my decisions don't matter, and my feelings are just throw-away thoughts. They aren't. They DO matter. To me, if not to you. Don't waste my time. If you're unsure, that's okay, tell me, and we can be unsure and wary together. I'm  not asking you to sign a marriage licence or a housing agreement or a , I'm just saying, if you enter my life, please be willing to give it a good run before you dash off.

I'm not asking for a proposal. I'm not asking for you to swear on your family's lives that we'll be "best friends forever" or that you'll never leave my side, never cheat on me, never have eyes for anyone else, never laugh at anyone else's jokes or admire their personality or just wish you had someone else in your life, because all of that would be deeply unfair. I'm not stupid. I do know that people move on. I do know that people have a tendency to change. Of course they do. People grow up, grow out of each other and meet people who are more reaffirming of where they have arrived in their new lives.

All I'll ask is, don't intentionally mess me about. Promises, despite what rumour has it, are not made to be broken.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Smile Like You Mean It.

Lately, for no particular reason, I've caught myself out. I've been getting on with whatever task I'd decided needed to be done, then for a moment, stopped. Interrupted myself, as it were. Looked up, caught my reflection in a mirror, or a car window, or a spoon, and realised I was doing it again. Smiling. No, scratch that, grinning. Maybe just because it was sunny, or because I'd got out on the right side of bed, or simply because I received a text that gave me a reason to be happy. No one close to me would admit it out loud, but I've got the tendency to be a miserable, pessimistic bitch when it suits me, or sometimes when it doesn't. It's not intentional. I tell myself I'm a realist, but really I'm not. I'm a wary optimist, with a hint of naivety and a few spoonfuls of sweet enthusiasm. I like to be happy. You're thinking, who doesn't, right? Well, this for me, is quite an achievement. I'm not saying I spend the majority of my waking hours with a down-turned facial expression, as this isn't true, but when I'm happy, you'll know about it. I flash an over-sized grin, I even walk with a spring in my step, and I'm just altogether a better, more upbeat person when I'm wearing my best smile. It seems like it's my best accessory lately, and I secretly think I know the reason. I guess I have to be careful. Smiles fade as quickly as they appear. Maybe this one will last. I hope.

"Only the insane equate pain with success."

If life had a soundtrack...

Sometimes, there's nothing better than putting on your headphones and just disappearing .

I really do think your music tastes are influenced by the date you were born. That much is kind of obvious. However, I've always thought I was born too late, when in fact, I was three months premature. I'd have loved to experience life before the 90's, the crazy lifestyle, not having a care in the world, and experiencing some of the best artists of the century. The old ones, as they say, truly are the best. I got to wondering, in my nocturnal hours the other night, the day I was born, what was OUT and what was IN. What was I born into, in terms of music?

Nowadays, luckily for this post, I had the help of Google to find out what I really wanted to know. In the eighteen years of my life, how has the music changed? What were the hits? Which do you remember, and which do you hate?

October 1st 1993, was a Friday. The day I was born. So, while I was coming into the world, what were the rest of you singing to? Here's 18 years of number one's, on the day I was born.

1993: Boom! Shake the Room- Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
1994: Saturday Night- Whigfield
1995: Fairground- Simply Red
1996: Breakfast At Tiffany's- Deep Blue Something
1997: Candle In The Wind- Elton John
1998: Rollercoaster- B*witched
1999: Blue (Da Ba Dee) -Eiffel 65
2000: Against All Odds- Mariah Carey and Westlife
2001: Can't Get You Out Of My Head- Kylie Minogue
2002: The Long and Winding Road/Suspicious Minds- Gareth Gates and Will Young
2003: Where Is The Love? - Black Eyed Peas
2004: Call On Me- Eric Prydz
2005: Don't Cha- Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes
2006: I Don't Feel Like Dancin' - Scissor Sisters
2007: About You Now- Sugababes
2008: Sex On Fire- Kings Of Leon
2009: Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
2010: Just The Way You Are- Bruno Mars
2011: No Regrets- Dappy
2012: Gangnam Style- Psy

Eighteen years of music, that has evidently changed an awful lot. Fresh Prince, everybody's guilty pleasure. Most of the songs, I loved at one time or another. Simply Red never gets old, Eric Prydz 'Call On Me' was the soundtrack to my younger years, especially a very specific flashback to school discos and all of the lads thinking they were dancing to the most obscene song ever. Breakfast At Tiffany's is still one of my favourite songs, while I always kind of hated the Kylie and Mariah Carey phases. A lot of dancing tunes, but I guess that's what the 90's were all about. Some of these, obviously were re-releases or lucky to ever reach number one, while others, everyone knows the words to (and in some cases, the dance moves.)

In an age where music seems to be churned out at record-breaking speeds, is it deteriorating  or will Gangnam Style have some special significance in twenty years, just like Whigfield's Saturday Night? I guess only time will tell, so until then, I guess all we can do is, raise our glasses and revel in whatever's playing, because eventually, the music stops.

The last 9 months.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but in hindsight, I've had the most incredible, life-changing nine months. To think back, the day I received my A-level results was a big deal for anyone, but also, personally to me. The day that seemed to explain what I'd been working for for seven years. The recognition, the proof that actually I hadn't been wasting my time pursuing an unreachable aim. Minus my dreadful failure of a French A-level, but we just laugh about that one. I think that was the start of my terrible decision making (something I've never looked back on since!)

 So, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't absolutely bricking it to start Uni when September arrived. The idea of not knowing a single person, studying something I absolutely loved and having to come out of my shell, terrified me to the core. I'm secretly quite shy, but my friends don't see that side of me. I get loud and bolshy and brash and giggly in the company I'm used to, and that's when I'm happiest. So, Uni was definitely a culture shock. I forced myself into meeting people and was of course, pleasantly surprised. Cue another special mention for three girls who have changed my life for the better over the last nine months, Jenny, Laura and Sarah. I love you girls! My drinking partners, my confidantes- no matter the hour, pub lunches that turn into drinking sprees, my fellow Literature and Creative writers. We share our love for the subject and passionate hatred for 9am starts, even if it is with Richy, a crowd favourite among many.

From spending Freshers Week, which at Northumbria, translates to eleven days or something equally as mad, my best friend Steph and I (also previously mentioned) became closer than ever. Shouting down the phone to a taxi service at five in the morning when we were soaked, going to a foam party and ending up with see-through shirts and horrendously wet hair and meeting so many people at one of the most incredible events I've ever been to, the headphone disco. For anyone that doesn't know, or hasn't experienced this, you enter a room, are given a set of huge headphones, and there are two channels being broadcast at once, which you can choose between and keep switching. There's nothing like it, taking your headphones off mid Summer of 69 and watching half of the room shout "the summer seemed to last forever" and the other half attempting to rap to Eminem and Rihanna, when in reality, the room is silent. It's hilarious. I suggest, if you ever get the chance, you go to one. It's such an enjoyable night, so grab some friends and put on your dancing shoes, because that will be a night to remember!

A little piece of advice to anyone going to start Uni in September. Don't worry! You'll love it! Include yourself, even if it means putting up with one or two infuriating people, before you meet the people who will quickly become your greatest friends. I actually live at home and travel to Uni, I don't miss out! I might fork out a stupid amount of money for taxis at crazy times in the morning, but surely I can justify my student loan expenses. Deal with the fact you're going to be in debt til you're fifty-something. It's all okay. If you pursue something you're passionate about, nothing else will matter. Have your end goal in sight, and don't take anything too seriously. And most of all, smile. Even if you're having a bad day, just remember, it's another step in the right direction. You'll get there eventually, so might as well enjoy your £27,000 worth of debt.

I've come out of my shell so much since starting Uni. It changed my life for the better. I love it. I can't tell anyone enough. I think I'm finally deciding what I'd like to do with my life. (Despite the fact I had a heart-to-heart with my taxi driver last night, and he told me to write a better 50 Shades of Grey!) I want to write. I want someone to pick up my novel and for it to change their life, in the way that so many of my favourite books have done for me. It's scary and ambitious, but I think it's truly the only thing I'd ever get a kick out of, so I'll do my utmost to get where I want to be.

A crazy 9 months. A Uni acceptance email; achieving BBC at A-level, and then spending the summer with my favourite people. A very drunk and emotional time at our Sixth Form leavers ball; I have so much to thank my teachers for, and I really did love (most of) them. An extended, mad Freshers week. The very scary first assignment. Receiving results. Reading one of my best pieces of creative writing to a room full of relative strangers, and having their faces all change and the positive responses flooding in. A piece for theatre, a screenplay and probably what I'm most proud of, 60 lines of poetry (yes Sarah, we did it!) Two exams, degree level, shocking enough to say, never mind sit.

So, that's Uni. What else did I get up to in the last 9 months? Too many parties, drunk nights and bank holidays for my liver to appreciate. I've taken an uncountable amount of photographs. I've seen The Script for the second time, Olly Murs and Michael McIntyre (for the third time!) I celebrated my 19th Birthday, and more recently, my sister's 18th. Lost someone really special to me, and heard my fair share of bad news,  all so heartbreaking and still hard to get your head round. But, most of all, I've met some brilliant people and my life has changed for the better, in the most part.

This isn't my most academic piece of writing, but probably one of the most truthful. The highlights of the time? Receiving my uni acceptance confirmation, breaking into hysterical tears, ringing my grandma Juney, the one person who believes in me, even on days where I can't even believe in myself, and told her the best news ever. She cried down the phone with me, and that, then, told me how much I really wanted it. I realised then, I had to be proud of what I'd achieved. Also, celebrating my sister's 18th, very recently. Funnily enough, although she's been renting my ID for the past six months or so, we're probably closer now she's a fully fledged legalised drinker like moi. Bonding over alcohol, I guess there are worst things.

My family, obviously, specifically my grandma, my best friends; Betty, Steph and Tasha. My Uni friends; Sarah, Laura and Jenny. My A-level English teachers, the countless bus and taxi drivers, aiding my hilarious escapades, the man who knows my Starbucks order before I get through the door, my Uni lecturers for pushing me to my limits, and a girl I don't know, yet feel like we've been friends for years. Gracie. A friend from the Twitterspere, if that's actually a concept, a girl who inspired me and taught me so much, as well as encouraged me to create this blog in the first place. I've read every single one of her blog posts, and every day I think with utmost disdain that I don't have the pleasure of knowing her in person, as we are in fact, hundreds of miles apart. I owe you an awful lot Gracie, and it's weird to be thanking someone you've never caught a glimpse of in person, but this is definitely down to you. If I hadn't made this blog, I'd be hiding behind my words, not expressing myself to the world, and not taking  risks. I really look up to you, and I know you'll achieve big things in the future.

These people deserve a huge thank you. I couldn't have done this without you, and words can never describe how grateful I am. I love you all. You witnessed my life change, and didn't run from my crazy side.

Cheers guys. I love you all. Even when I'm THIS drunk. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Note to Self:

I always am writing notes and reminders around the house, to make sure I don't forget things. These are a few things to bare in mind, for now, at least;
  • Tomorrow will be okay. You'll pass your exams (fingers crossed.) You know you can do it, so stop saying you're going to fail. You'll be alright. You always are. Don't underestimate yourself and your capabilities. It's stupid. You know you wouldn't be pursuing a degree you weren't any good at. Surely? Yes. 
  • Give people a chance. They might surprise you. Hopefully, for the better.
  • Stop moaning, get out of bed and enjoy your life. You know you want to.
  • Uni finishes tomorrow, so there's absolutely no excuse to even utter a pessimistic thought. 
And finally, raise your glass. You deserve it. You've come an awful long way in the past six months, so act like it. 


drink your coffee like you'd drink tequila. Quickly. While it's fresh. Even if it burns your throat. Down in one. It works better.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

"You promised me!"

There's a screetch of breaks and someone somewhere screams melodramatically. The driver swears under his breath. The driver of another card, a navy ford focus, Neil, leans on his horn a little too vigorously and makes the three mile of traffic all curse in unison. In the distance, Ally and Sasha are in Sasha's sister's BMW convertible, top down, sunglasses, shorts and strappy tops in tow. They sing badly to a song coming over the radio. Ant, whose sitting in the car alongside them, gives them an approving nod and grin, to which they both giggle like school girls. They discuss how "fit" he is, although he can hear everything they're saying. He smiles again, half-amused, half-arrogant.

"What's happened? This is a joke," moans Denny, who's stuck miles back, talking to his brother Rick, a few dozen cars previous to him, over the phone.
"Dunno, looks like some sort of accident. Silly buggers were obviously too busy enjoying the heatwave to concentrate on the fucking road." Rick spits.
"Yeah well, they want to hurry about it, Cara's waiting for me."
Rick rolls his eyes at his elder brothers' seriousness. Denny and Cara are "seeing eachother" but really, they're super-serious, like ready-to-get-on-one-knee serious, and Rick can't think of anything funnier because "you're whipped mate, you want to show her who wears the jeans an' that."
"Its trousers, you twat."
"Whatever, you know what I mean."
"Yeah. Well. You know she gets snippy if she's got to wait a long time."
"You mean, she's the one with the dick.'"
"Fuck off will ya, I thought you wanted to know what had happened."
"I do, but winding you up is so fuckin' easy."
"You're just jealous. Got no one to toss you off. Your own hand doesn't count."
"Rick why do you have to be such a douche? Why can't you be happy for me?"

Rick laughs, sarcastically. A little too sarcastically. Denny loses his temper.
"Right, unless you know what's happening, piss off and stop bothering me." He hangs up the phone and tosses it onto the passenger seat. It bounces and hits the floor.

Denny takes his eyes off the road and begins to fumble about under the passenger seat for his phone. While he's doing so, the congestion starts to clear and the driver behind him leans on his horn. A familiar horn. Denny forgets his phone, unfastens his seat-belt and opens the car door with such fury and disdain that it just narrowly misses the car to his right. 

Thinking he's got one over on the impatient bastard behind him, he approaches the window and demands the man open the door.
The man, quite smugly, does what he's instructed.
"Yes...?" The man questions, staring down Denny profusely.
"What the fuck's your problem mate? Can you not wait a pissing second!" Denny becomes irate. The man's eyes glaze over for a second, before he gets all up in Denny's face and with gritted teeth spits "talk to me like that again and I swear, I'll have your nuts in a vice, got it?"

Denny blushes, steps back, nods and retreats to his car, feeling dejected and embarrassed. As he begins to drive on, dangerously slowly, mimicking that of the rest of the traffic, his phone hollers again from it's hiding place. He presses his hands-free set to answer, and greets the caller with apparent distaste.
"I thought I told you to stop pissing about and ring me when you had actual news?!"
"Excuse me! I think I have a right to know which skank you've blew me off for..."
It was Cara, and as usual, she was pissed. Both in attitude and physicality. Cara tended to have a few drinks with dinner, and breakfast, and days ending in a 'Y.'
"Shit, babe I'm sorry, I can explain..."

Just as Denny is about to explain about what he assumes is the hold-up a few miles along the motorway, the headset pips three times, to let him know he has another call.
"Hold on a sec, yeah?" He tells Cara, trying to calm her down, "I've got another call."
"Yeah?" He answers.
"Right, okay, well I've spoke to Ant and he says he reckons there was a crash a few yards past Middleton junction, so we might be back here a while, there's coppers and fire engines and everything..." Rick drones on, too fast for Denny to properly make out.
"Rick! You've got to be fucking kidding me?!"
"Right foul mouth you've got there Den."
"Stop pissing about! Do you know what's happened or not? I'll have to hurry, Cara's on the other line'
'She been knocking back the vino again?'
"Not funny. You know she's sensitive when people call her up about her drinking habits"
"Piss funny that is. Does she not realise that you put milk on cornflakes, not gin?"

Denny breathes into the line but doesn't say a word.
"You know I'm just messin' with ya"
"You're not though. That's the thing"
"Well, big deal, she drinks. So what"
"So what? You're not the one peeling her off the bathroom floor at 7 am before you need to shower for work. She's draining my bank account, its not even a joke anymore." Denny suddenly blurts all of this out over the receiver.
"Shit Denny, I never realised, I just thought she liked her drink."
"Yeah well, you never ask do you? You're just assuming its a good laugh."
"You're the one constantly defending her, not me"
"But this time I dunno whether I can, that's the thing."
"What do you mean?"
"She doesn't have three weeks paid holidays"
"What I'm saying is, she doesn't have a job"
"Fuck, really?"
"Yeah." In a dead-pan tone, "apparently fucking your colleagues in the staff room after hours doesn't bade well. Especially when you're both wasted and high."

Rick doesn't say a word.
"She's been cheating on me, and that's not the worst bit..." Denny's voice breaks. "She's spent all my savings. I haven't got a penny."
"Yeah, I'm screwed. I love her but she's fucked me over big-time y'know. We never said we were exclusive, but I don't know how the hell she got hold of my bank cards too."
"I'd be getting rid if I were you."
"How many times, I don't need your advice"
"Well why are you telling me this then?"
"Because..I.. Because I needed to tell someone. The fact its you is just, bad timing."
"You're telling me, you could've waited to tell me your relationship is breaking down coz your girlfriend's a whore when we were round the dinner table, or at least over a few pints."

They laugh in unison. There's nothing else they can do really. Their laughter is soon rudely interrupted, when Denny's phone pips again. Cara. 

"Fuck. This is her. Right, I'm going to have to tell her, I'm going to be late."
"Fair enough, good luck with that mate, don't envy you. In a bit, bye."
"yeah, see ya."

He presses the button on his hands-free device and it clicks over to Cara. Waiting. Impatiently.
"Sorry babe, had Rick on the other line. We're stuck in traffic. It's a fucking joke. Backed up for miles, I'll not make dinner."

She didn't respond. Cara just breathed heavily down the line.

"Cara? Cara?! Stop pissing about will you, I'm trying to tell you, this is important."
"Is it now?" She droaned, tell-tale signs she was drunk.
Denny didn't even have the energy to humour her. 

"Cara, look. You need to stop this."
"Everything. I know what you've been doing."
"So you want to control every move I make now, is that it?"
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to."

"Just sober up before I get in, we need to talk. Properly."
"Denny, everything's all wet, it's like, I don't know. I think there's petrol or something all over the floor.."
"What are you on about?"
"Well, I was angry that you weren't back. I was going to prove I loved you."
"What? Cara, what the fuck are you talking about?!"
"When you were dodging my calls, I presumed you were with Kathy."
"Kathy? Babe, we've been over this. She's my best friend's girlfriend, why would I even-"
"So, I've had a long think about it and I think we should get married."
"Cara? How much have you had to drink?"

The headset pips again. Rick. 
A message appears on the dashboard.
"Cars are moving up here, probs won't be much longer for you. I'll stop by later. Rick'

"DENNNYYYY! Who the fuck are you talking to?!" 
She'd begun to get hysterical now. That was never good.

"CARA! Can you please sober up and I'll speak to you later, I'm driving! I've got to go. I can't do this now."
"Do what?! Oh god, no. You're planning on breaking up with me, aren't you? AREN'T YOU?!" Her screams were deafening. She was slurring her words, and hiccuping in between her yells. "I can't believe it. I'll do it you know. I won't hesitate!"
"Leave me, you'd be doing me a favour. You're a state! Can't you see what you're doing to yourself?!"

Cara didn't say another word, but she began to whimper down the phone. Denny had hit a nerve. She'd sober up and go to bed. 

"I'll see you soon, the traffic is clearing now. I shouldn't be that much longer."
Denny was trying to reassure his girlfriend, but it seemed impossible in her state.
"Okay, Cara. I've got to go. I'm hanging up, give me ten minutes. I'll put my foot down, when I get past this accident."
"NO! Don't leave me, Denny! I'm scared of what I'll do.."
Shit. Denny, hearing that, he slammed his breaks on. The car behind him quickly came to an abrupt halt. Another lean on the horn. A few more choice words. He turns, waves his hand to apologise, and tries to carry on driving.

"What do you mean, Cara....?"
"I can't let you leave me! I've got nowhere to go!"
She seemed to be swigging something. Probably wine. Denny's stomach somersaulted. 'I dread to think of the state of the house," he thought to himself.

"DO WHAT? CARA! You're not making any sense!"

Luckily, the traffic had cleared, and it was only a few minutes drive to Denny's house. 
"I'll be home in a second, just don't act stupid. Sit down. Make a coffee or something." 
Denny was used to having to talk down Cara. She was always up a height after a couple of bottles of wine. 
"No, I'm FINE. I'm FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC. I'LL WAIT. You're not getting out of it that easily."

Totally confused at Cara's drunken ramblings, Denny just mumbled something incoherent into the receiver and said he was nearly home. He turned right off the dual carriageway, left into the estate, and then right into their street. Cara was still on the line, but she wasn't speaking. She was, he presumed, in the kitchen. There was a lot of banging and clattering, but for Cara, that was nothing new. He pulled onto the driveway. Eventually home. A day from hell, and for what? What a fucking waste of time.

"See you in a second. I'm here."

Denny got out of the car, shut the door behind him, and locked it. He dreaded to think of the state that Cara was in. His head was pounding. He didn't have the energy. Maybe he'd just have to tell her. Straight away. It was over. It was finished. They were finished.

Opening the front door, he already wanted to fast-forward until she'd sobered up. A docile little girl, of only twenty three, turned into the most heartless bitch imaginable, when intoxicated. And there she was. Standing in the hallway. Dripping wet. Her eyes were bloodshot. Her clothes clung her to like they were drenched. Wait. What was that smell? Denny's eyes stung. There was something in the air. What was it? Apart from a sickeningly horrible feeling of regret?

"Why are you all wet? Let's get you cleaned up and put to bed."
"No. Stay back. I want nothing more to do with you. 
Instinct told Denny to step forward anyway, so he did. His phone rings again. Rick. Ignore. He can wait.

"NO!" Cara screamed. It took him by surprise. The noise that sprung from her lips was murderous, so shrill it gave him goosebumps. 
"I told you. I told you I'd do it," she kept saying. 

Denny's eyes soon became fixed on something in Cara's hand. A lighter. Shit.

"Cara, let's put the lighter down.."

And with that, she held it up to her hair, clicked it twice, and let the flames engulf her. The whole house was dowsed in petrol, and Denny's eyes couldn't believe how fast everything went up. She stood there, fascinated by the flames charring the wallpaper around her. She began to laugh. The alcohol was acting as a temporary anesthetic  She laughed, heartily, such an evil, wicked laugh. And Denny just looked on, in horror, as the flames and the smoke devoured everything, in front of his eyes. 

I'm gonna keep on loving you.

It's 4am and I'm standing on the corner of a dark street in the pouring rain. Soaked through. Shivering. My dress is ruined. My heels that were once so comfortably slung on my feet are now juggled in one hand. In the other, I hold my bag, with nothing in except my lipstick and copper. Not enough money for a taxi home. My friends have gone seperate ways, and drunk little me decided to wander off. Returning to the scene of the crime, my friends all text saying they'd gone home or to flats or parties or other bars. You were my first choice and my last resort. Dialling your number, I was shivering and pleading that you'd answer. You didn't. So with cut feet, light-headed and absolutely dripping wet, I stumbled to your flat. I leaned on the buzzer. No answer. I fell onto the steps, and got shelter underneath the overhead roofing. I buzzed again. This time, chucking my shoes to the curb and trying to keep moving, from one foot to the other, in a poor attempt to keep warm. It isn't working. The rain begins to pour, and I sit down. Surrounded by puddles, that are getting increasingly deeper as the minutes pass. Just when I think I'll try my friends again, there's a sound. Something that makes me look up, stop studying my filthy, sore feet, and acknowledge that there's a presence behind me. 

Just when I thought I didn't matter, just when I was about to walk away. You open the door, half-dressed, barely awake, and looking fairly confused, you pick me up, and help me inside. My eyes are heavy, I'm dripping wet and my make up is working its way down my face along with an undesirable amount of rain water. The next thing I know, I wake up on your sofa. I'm wearing one of your old t-shirts and a pair of tracksuit bottoms that are three sizes too big, and make my legs look like they've ballooned over night. 
You greet me in the most perfect way imaginable,
"Morning beautiful."
and there's a steaming cup of coffee on the table in front of me.
"Thank you," I mouth, as I slowly sit up and my eyes get reacquainted with my surroundings. I catch your gaze. You look at me, like I'm worth a million dollars. Even if I am in your old clothes and my feet are filthy, and my hair is lank and sticking to my head. A smile from you, and last night's disaster fades away, like the stain of breath upon a mirror. 

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

I want to be a real-life Carrie Bradshaw meets Bridget Jones. With a bank balance like J.K. Rowling's, a fan-base like John Green and the infamy of Oscar Wilde. That's probably ambitious, but who cares? Maybe I'll get lucky.

Gushing over Gatsby.

I've waited for over a year and a half, with baited breath and permanently crossed fingers, for this moment. The release of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. I had very high hopes for such a wonderful film adaptation, and I must say, disappointed, I most definitely was not. Luhrmann's style is evidently echoed in this epic love story, taking place during the Roaring Twenties in America. Full of wacky, powerful and unbelievably-realistic characters, deep, profound speeches and one or two hilarious little quips. Fitzgerald's classic novel is held with such high regard, I was worried that Luhrmann's take on it would be a complete flop. But, luckily, to my utmost delight, it was fabulous. Everything. From head-to-toe, down-right, dripping in brilliance. Every shot, every carefully selected piece of scenery, the exquisite costume design, the astounding imagery, every breath a character uttered. It was perfect.

I didn't think it was possible to have a film that so closely echoed the real novel, especially after the 60's Robert Redford film version, which was, admittedly, quite cleverly done, especially for the time. But, as you all have guessed, Leonardo DiCaprio has done it again. The decision to cast him as the inglorious, hopeful, gorgeous Jay Gatsby, was a faultless one. And his pairing with star-crossed lover, Daisy, a stunning, hugely-talented Carey Mulligan, was, in my opinion, pure genius. She was everything Daisy ever was, from the sheer brilliance of her lifestyle, to the matter-of-fact outlook she has on life, Carey was astounding. This may be partly because, after seeing the first film, I picked faults with Mia Farrow's Daisy, being too whiney and unable to convey anything much other than a fairly forced disappointed facial expression, and one or two dramatic head-titled poses. However, Carey, who I sincerely love, (check her out, in some of her other work; An Education, Never Let Me Go.) was on top form, yet again. Her ability to maintain in character, is wonderful, and throughout the film, I was spellbound by her.

So, Leo and Carey deserve an Oscar, what about the rest of the cast? Well, I'm thoroughly impressed at whoever decided to cast the rest. I was nervous when it was revealed that Elizabeth Debicki would play my favourite girl, a serial-cheat, a sly witty, typical woman of the time, Jordan Baker. The one with the best lines, the clever sarcastic tone and very obviously, the flapper look. There aren't enough words to describe how good Debicki played Jordan, it's everything I ever wanted her to be, as well as so much more. I've never thought someone could be so well modelled on a literary character, than Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker. A role she was born to play. A major applause for Joel Edgerton, forever the man you could not keep your eyes off. Tom Buchanan, the bully, the animal, the maddening sleaze-bag. Joel, I'll say it only once, you were great. Now, if I was worried about the rest of the casting, who would be our so-called, omniscient narrator, Nick Carraway. The character whose emotions we all share, the anguish, the delight, the mere flirtations, being overcome with such a fantastical lifestyle, with its glam parties, extravagant lights and a very slight hint of the essential debauchery of the 20's. The one person we are always with. Our Nicky was played by the wonderful Tobey Maguire. Everybody's favourite. The one who begins and ends on such a paradoxically different note, it's hard to process if you haven't already read Fitzgerald's classic. A summer to change your life. The sort-of-welcome of Meyer Wolfshiem (Amitabh Bachchan) and George (Jason Clarke) and Myrtle Wilson (Isla Fisher), and this film can conquer the world.

A novel that combines and breaks every social barrier known to man. The morals went out of the window as soon as the Roaring Twenties hit. The parties were better, the liquor was cheaper, and most of all, an infamous Jay Gatsby was richer and more illusive than ever. I honestly believe, hand-on-heart, that Luhrmann's production is, wait for it, a masterpiece. An Oscar waiting to happen. I don't think Fitzgerald could've done it better himself. He, I hope, would be as proud as the millions of fans sitting awe-fully in his wake. Costume was mesmerising, the scenery was out of this world, and the characters, were indescribable (although I've tried!) Even down to Isla Fisher's part, a girl who is usually known for quippy little Rom-Com's, with happy endings that leave no threads untied, so she really has done well to get her hands on the role of the devilish, voluptuous Myrtle.

As the credits began to roll, the silence was deafening. The atmosphere could've been cut with a knife. The room was split. Those who knew the ending, and those who didn't. A very sparse few had dry eyes. And in 2013, it suddenly all made sense. We all understood. As the credits continued and the lights came back on, the facial expressions were tell-tale signs. Appreciation. Enlightenment. And most of all, envy. In an age where we party too hard, love to look glam, and will devour someone's arm off to catch a piece of juicy gossip, The Great Gatsby made us think, unanimously, we were born 70 years too late.

Texts that changed my life.

I've actually just realised that for a Literature student, I don't blog an awful lot about novels/books/scripts/plays, and I think I probably should, considering that some of my major influences are writers, novelists and authors. There isn't a feeling like it, opening a new book, carefully folding it's spine as not to damage it's insides, and revealing something spectacular. Ever read something that you believe changed your life? I have. I'm always reading things I think change me, for the best or the worst, but still affect me. I truly believe that a book that doesn't change or affect you in some way, isn't worth reading. There's only a handful of books I've ever started to read, and suddenly put down, thrown to the other side of the room, and not finished, ever. Not that these books weren't good pieces of literature in their own right, because of course they probably were, it's just, to me, they weren't what I look for in a book. I look for escapism, the ability to become so enthralled in a novel, that everything else goes out of focus. You can't think about anything else, you can't sleep or function until you find out what the pages are going to reveal. 

So, what are my favourite books you may wonder? I have quite a few, for obvious different reasons. I really do not have a genre I lean towards, well, not usually. I'm a bit of a sucker for a romance, but it has to be deep, capturing every one of your senses, nothing superficial or dull or overly lovey-dovey. I also tend to read what most people would consider very strange books. Anything with a weird storyline, something different, unusual, uncanny (to quote my supposed reading material for uni.) If someone asks me what my favourite book is, I tend to become cagey and weird. It's like I'm giving up a part of my soul, as some people will hear a title and either roll their eyes or begin gushing, and that may be fine, in one sense, but I don't like it. I don't like the fact that there are already made assumptions behind the identity of a novel or a particular writer. The judgements that no text can ever fully escape. Despite this, when I tell someone the names of my favourite novels, I want to grab them by their wrist before they have chance to walk away, and explain my reasons behind my choices. Slightly OCD, probably, but at least someone walks away knowing that I love a book for one particular quote, or a characters' identity, or the full circle of the narrative.

Let's reveal all. My ultimate favourites are as follows. Of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is probably one of the few novels I could read a million times and not get sick of it. It's 1920's glam lifestyle, wrapped in debauchery, riches and extravagance, including a very messy love triangle over a decade, some very questionable morals and a true, and perhaps, tainted, insight into what Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald's life was really like. The bright lights, the prohibition and the scarily-real underworld in the Roaring Twenties in America. Also, a must read for anyone and everyone. A novel to change your life. Discard any former judgements you have around J.K Rowling, all the stereotypical bullshit surrounding her ability to "only write for children" because, in fact, she may have been cleverly hiding behind such a persona for years. The release of her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, specifically intended for an older readership, excited me probably more than it should have. I was very intrigued to see how daring and bloody and brilliant this woman was, when it came to writing gritty novels. I won't include a horrific amount of spoilers, because I always kind of hate that, I'll just say, Ms Rowling did not disappoint. A book I bought on my Dad's kindle, and literally didn't leave my room until I'd finished every single page of it. It's blindingly wrapped in deception, but it's so painfully true it kind of broke my heart. A novel not for anyone looking for a sequel to the Harry Potter phase, because, I cannot stress enough, this book is certainly NOT for children. It's an eye-opener, so pick it up. 

Thirdly, another very different novel. Sarra Manning's Unsticky. A girly book if there ever was such a thing. A fabulously apt-named novel, probably aimed at adults, but I think I read it first when I was about 16. One young woman's journey from a job she hates to one she never ever thought she'd do, for reasons that become very obviously clear as you read on. A hilariously funny, heart-wrenching, sexy, brilliant novel, by a writer I have so much admiration for. Her best work, in my eyes. Girls, this is a definite one for you. Fourth would be a masterpiece, by the very well-known John Green. Actually sod it, it's two-in-one. You all need to read these. They are so different, yet have some tell-tale Green traits in them, secretly, buried in their crisp pages, strong topics and powerful characters. Between Looking for Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars (frequently stylized as TFIOS) I think I cried enough tears to put my house under water. Full of real emotion, with some brilliant characters and very carefully structured narratives. If you love a good cry, pick one (or both) of these up at your nearest Waterstones. Immediately.

Some other brilliant reads, are as follows;
Kevin Brooks' Candy and Black Rabbit Summer. Very gritty, very real, very very Brooks' style.
Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk about Kevin. Witty, pure brilliance meets pure evil. Life-changing. My A-level Literature teacher introduced me to this, and I was even allowed to abandon my coursework to finish it!
Sarah Dessen's Just Listen. Echoing the importance of love, life and sticking together like glue. Fabulous.
David Nicholls' One Day. The film was good, but the novel is the most wonderful thing ever. Em and Dex!
Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road. Classic. Passionate. Violent. Everything you could ever want. Wow.
Bram Stoker's Dracula. A novel I have just recently read for my Uni course, and to my surprise, was one of the wittiest, well-thought out book I've ever had the pleasure of feasting my eyes on. Slash your first impressions, it's an awful lot more than an eerie version of the Twilight series. It's deep stuff. (Check out my fave, Van Helsing!)
Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? One of the first plays I'd ever read, and was not disappointed. Albee's most famous and most recognised work in his entire life. Wonderfully hilarious, the fun and games hide a thousand dirty secrets, and some fabulous one-liners. One to make you cry with laughter. Also, I never say this, but the film starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor is epic. A piece of theatre that you'd think was wrote with Richard and Elizabeth in mind. It's their tumultuous relationship on paper.
Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest- a piece of theatre I loved from the moment I set eyes on it. The witty title, the overly extravagant characters, the exquisitely brilliant dialogue. You couldn't ever ask for more from a play. Wilde at his most hilarious and most astounding.

So, these are a few of my major inspirations.
What are yours? I'd really love to know. Any recommendations are obviously welcome.
Now, I really have to go and get ready. I'm off to see, (I can't believe I'm saying this!) finally! The Great Gatsby. Cue lots of grins, and even more tears. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A shot of caffeine and you can conquer the world.

As fancy as you try to say it, no matter whether you use an Italian tongue or an English twang, Black coffee is, and always will be, black coffee. My saviour, my ultimate pleasure, my serious obsession. I'm a coffee junkie. A 19-year-old caffeine junkie. Self-confessed, and proud as punch. I drink a serious amount of it, and rely on it to get me through difficult times, early mornings and later nights. A hangover kick, an early morning wake-up and the greatest refreshment in the world.

The man in my local Starbucks knows my name and exactly what I want as he sees me push open the door. A smile, slightly funny, and a recognised nod, and my thick, black, strong coffee is placed delicately in front of me. It opens me up to a myriad of possibilities. A coffee in tow, and I'm capable of anything. I feel accomplished, prepared, ready to face whatever the day may throw my way; good, bad or down-right horrendous.

This is a particularly suitable post today, after seven cups of industrial strength coffee, I still don't feel prepared to revise like hell for Monday. D-Day is approaching at a somewhat dangerous speed, and I'm not at all ready for what that might mean. I've done countless Literature exams, but I guess at degree level, it matters the most. Don't get me wrong, my course is everything I could want it to be, as well as a whole lot more, with a group of wonderful people, especially a little mention for my favourite girlies- Laura, Sarah and Jenny (who will probably be reading, hey girls!) who are just brilliant and hilarious, and the only kind of people you'd want to spend 9am lectures with and not want to commit a horrific kind of crime. The revision, however, never gets easier. Baracading my bedroom door, hiding my phone and arming myself with a heap of Literature-related quotations to memorize  I think I'm overestimating how much my brain can take in, but I'll try my damnest to pass this bloody exam. It will all be worth it, the late nights, the hard graft and the aching wrists, for the end results, and sooner, the mental celebrations that will occur Monday night, when we can jump up and down, scream and shout and discuss how the hell we managed to get through Year One.

So, for everyone who tolerates my bad moods around exam time, motivates me and believes in everything I can do, I love you all. A very special person always tells me I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Every time I'm about to sit an exam, I receive a text message from my grandma, simply saying:

"you can do it, Duffy Moon!"

It means more than I can ever say.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

"How do you live with a ghost?"

"I'm fine."
"Tom, we know that isn't true."
"You don't. You don't know anything about me"
"I know you're not coping."
"Who said I wasn't coping?"

The stupid snotty-looking bitch in front of me was watching me closely. I didn't like it. I felt like I was a mental patient with handcuffs cutting into my wrists or something. Like she didn't trust that I wouldn't flip out and throw myself out of the window, head first.

"Why can't you just leave me alone?"
"We don't think that's in your best interest."
"What the fuck do you know? You don't have a fucking clue what's best for me!"
"Thomas, can you please try not to swear.."
"I'll swear all I fucking want. You're winding me up!"
"Its not intentional."

"You must just be a natural then." I retorted sarcastically. Karen, my so-called guidance counsellor, was the most infuriating woman I'd ever met. She was treating me like a child. Why am I having to listen to this?
"I'm twenty-nine for god sakes. I don't need baby-sitting."
"That's not what this is."
"Isn't it?"
"No. It's a healing process."

At that moment, I couldn't take it any longer. I burst out laughing. I realise now that it was inappropriate, but my balance was all off. I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. I laughed until my stomach cramped and my eyes were streaming with tears and my face was scarlet. Eventually, Karen interrupted me, mid-hysterical outburst, by placing a cup of black coffee, closely resembling treacle, on the table in front of me, carefully on a coaster. It had some seaside town scrawled round the edges of it. It was all blues and greens and yellows, well, from what I could see around the bottom rim of the cup. Saying nothing, I reached over and moved the cup from beside her knees to where I was slouching on the chair. Minus the coaster. Karen's eyes darted to the coffee stain the cup was making on her expensive-looking table. I smirked. Now who was watching who closely?

"Can you, er, I mean, would you mind just-"

Seeming oblivious. I got a really morbid sense of satisfaction watching her squirm.

"Well, I'd like you to use a coaster."
"I'm sorry. You'd LIKE me to use a coaster?"
"Well, I'd LIKE you to discharge me. But that's not going to happen is it?"

She ignored me, and reached to move the coaster to its rightful place, snuggled under the cup, but I grabbed it first, tormenting her.

"What's the matter, Karen? Are you stressed? Well! Are you? Are you finding this difficult? Hard to handle? Why do you think that is? Do you think you're suffering from mental health issues? 'Cause you want the fucking coaster moved? Slightly OCD if you ask me."

"I didn't though."
"Didn't what?"
"Ask you. I never asked your opinion. All I said was MOVE THE FUCKING COASTER!"

She broke. I watched it. There and then. The screaming and shouting and swearing turned the pair of us into a pair of snivelling teenagers. I broke down, watching her struggle. Evidently, I'd hit a nerve. I admired her really. I shouldn't have been treating her like shit. It wasn't fair.

"I'm.. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have."
"Don't worry about it. I'm the one who's supposed to keep a professional distance."
"Yeah, well. I'm still sorry."

She was silent a moment, using the sleeve of her wooly cardigan to mop up her tears, before she spoke.

"Thomas, you do realise this isn't a punishment don't you?"
I nodded, because I kind of suddenly got the point of it all.
"Good, because its supposed to be helping. I know how you're feeling."
"No you don't." I snapped. "You don't have a clue. How can you possibly understand how I'm feeling?!"
"I understand more than you'll ever know."
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" I practically spat at her.

She paused. Hesitated. Before carrying on. I guess that's why they call them shrinks. They know what they're supposed to say. They tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. She picked up a photo frame from beside her desk, and showed it to me. A girl, pretty, about nineteen, blonde, natural make up. Smiling. Drop-dead gorgeous. But I didn't say that. I just smiled.

"Who's that?"
"Is she your daughter?"
"Yes, she was."

That was the key word there. Was. Meaning, past. Gone. Lost. I'd been so heavily concentrated on the fact I'd lost Kassie that I'd forgot about everyone else. I never imagined, I never even stopped to think that my own bloody shrink might be grieving too.
Eventually she spoke. 

"It'll be her two year anniversary next tuesday."
"I'm sorry. How did it, I mean, did she.."
"Its okay, you can ask. I'm used to people asking. Its just a bit weird having the shoe on the other foot, I suppose. I'm the one with the questions, not the answers, usually. She had cancer, she fought until the end, but..but it was too much for her."
"God, I'm, I'm so sorry. Really." Perhaps the first honest thing I'd ever breathed.
"I had no idea."
"Why would you?"

I shrugged. I realised. It all made sense.

"I clean because that's all I can do right. Well, this and my job. Or that used to be the case. Megan's death tore my family apart. I blamed my husband and he couldn't cope. It was unfair of me to ask him to cope alone. How on earth could he bare the guilt of something like that? I forced myself into work, into helping other people, while he was at home, pickling his liver and slowly fading away. Six months after she died, I found my husband in the garden. He'd put his rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger. I...I."

She began to get choked up. I reached over, and put my arm on her shoulder. Our eyes met. She nodded. We were interrupted by the alarm sounding on her desk.

"Ah, I guess that's time up. Same time next week?"
"Oh. Actually Karen, I've got a better idea."

So, seven days later, at 3pm, I found myself sitting having coffee with Karen. Off-record. In a snug little cafe on the other side of town. We agreed that any sort of professionalism had been already breached, so we might as well meet properly and talk things through.

Karen looked uncomfortable. She was shuffling about in her seat. I was wearing a sort-of-smile, and it was strange. I hadn't smiled since Kassie died. I felt like I was cheating on her. It was wrong. I felt guilty, for expressing any kind of happy emotion when she was no longer around. Especially when I truly felt I couldn't be happy without her.

"I'm sorry, this is kind of weird for me."
"I bet. Its not really easy for me either."

We spent a good couple of hours, sitting and talking. Deeply talking. Karen told me all about her daughter, Megan, and how she died, and what she felt, and how hard it was, practically going through it alone. After all, living with a ticking time-bomb must be hard. Living with two, must be excruciating. I don't know what hurt her more, losing Megan or grieving for her cowardly husband. She was pretty cut up. I'd never ever noticed how sad she looked. For a woman of around 50, she looked ancient. Worn. Exhausted. Behind her eyes, a thousand What Ifs and Maybes. Hundreds of choked back tears. Thoroughly through with life, yet something was keeping her hanging on. Her job. Her ability to help others gave her a reason to get up in the morning. I found that kind of incredible. After Kassie died, I didn't get out of bed for three weeks. I'd never spoke to anyone about it, except Karen. And now, here, in this fancy, cosy, little coffee shop, I was about to, hopefully, get what I needed. 

Finally, closure.
So, I'd better give it my best shot.

Karen sat patiently, with fresh coffees in front of us, and this time, there was no diary. No note-taking. No tape recorder, ready to be shipped to Dr such and such, to assess my "mental anguish." No weird, clinical analysis of my well-being. Just someone looking back at me, with genuine concern. A friend. Someone I needed. Someone with time for me.

"The day I lost Kassie was the worst day of my life to date, and hopefully always will be. I can't go through that again. Kassie was beautiful. Not just to me. You know what I mean. The kind of girl who always had strangers stopping her in the street complimenting her. Her brunette hair matched her eyes, and she had a smile that could knock you off your feet. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world, with her on my arm. We'd been together for six years, and I'd cherished every single second. So, the day I got a call saying my wife had been in an accident, I was physically sick, before pulling myself together, and inquiring as to what had happened, and which hospital I should break the speed limit when driving to. St. Peter's hospital. An awful place I can't even bare to think about now. Kassie was in a car accident that morning. We never truly found out what happened. Partly because I was too stricken with grief to pin the blame on anyone. All that mattered to me was that my Kassie was no longer with me. She'd kissed me that morning, before leaving the house for work, and I'd never thought anything more of it. I mean, why would I? It was the worst phone call I ever received. My heart broke that day. My girl was always a fighter, but I guess it was just too much for her. She didn't know her family, they'd drifted apart years before we met, and as for mine, they were hundreds of miles away, and never knew her like I did, so when it happened, I didn't want to turn to them. I became irrational and selfish and began drinking and not sleeping. Then I began sleeping and not eating. Starving myself. Not looking after myself. Not leaving my bed. Not leaving my house. Not picking up my phone, opening my post or anything. I couldn't function. I didn't want to be without her. I couldn't and wouldn't, imagine my life without her. The love of my life. My soul-mate. My best friend."
It wasn't until one day, there was a knock at my door. A woman, fifties, greying hair, with a clipboard and a professional looking pair of glasses in tow. She enquired as to my health, physical and mental. And told me she was from the NHS, sent to check on me after my recent bereavement. I slammed the door in her face. 
Fourty five minutes later, she knocked again. And somehow, persuaded me to see her for an appointment. I did. Unwillingly though. I only really did it because she was the only person who made the effort, in spite of how much I pushed them away. She came back. Funnily enough for me, because I didn't know her and she didn't have any reason to want to go out of her way to help me. But she did. And after my breakdown in her office, I finally let it all go. We talked and talked until my throat was sore and dry, my cheeks were stained with tears and the smell of coffee was slightly intoxicating.

"So Karen. That's it. That's everything. I've just got one more question.."
"How do you live with a ghost?"
She shook her head, clueless.
"I have absolutely no idea. I'm living with two. They're always with me. But they keep the house tidy, at least."

I laughed, and so did she. We laughed until we were in pain. And we smiled. Releasing, comforting smiles. Reassuring one another that no matter what came our way, we'd cope.