Friday, 31 January 2014

Book #7: The End of Alice by A.M Homes.

I currently lie in my bed, staring at my bedroom walls, blank, expressionless. I have just finished this book, and now, I'm speechless. To look at the cover, examine it closely, it gives nothing away. Well, not to someone who hasn't read it, yet now, I've taken a second look, and this time, I get it. It's representative of what's inside the jacket, what the words are just dying to convey.

In all honesty, I had no idea what this book was about when I bought it. I just picked it up, liked the title and never even read the back of it. While the front cover reads 'this is everything fiction should be-wrenching, disturbing and emotive,' the inside is what really reveals more than I could have ever thought humanly possible. To state the absolute obvious if you've ever googled this book, or picked up a copy, it is not nice. In fact, I found it so horrific, so morally degrading, that I struggled to read it and actually get to the end.

Written in the 90's, this book got a really bitter reception, and with the subject matter, it's no surprise as to why. The story follows, and is narrated almost solely by a man, a convinced paedophile, who writes from the confines of his prison cell. In doing so, he exchanges letters with a young girl, manipulating and grooming her and all the while, tiny pieces, or in some places, large chunks of his criminal past are infiltrated into the reader's mind. 

I can't even begin to fully describe how I feel about this book. I actually dropped it when my eyes finished glossing over the last few lines, in a mixture of shock, disgust and relief. I can't even believe I'd read something like this. It's so chilling, so inhumane, so utterly perverse, that actually, I kind of wish I'd never layed eyes on it. My lungs feel exhausted, my heart is in my throat, my eyes are streaming, but whether these are tears of confusion, sadness or blinding fear, I don't know. This is not, I must stress, a book for the faint hearted. More brutal as it goes on, I can't even count how many times my gag reflex kicked in when my eyes began to feast on the monstrosity in front of me. Shocked to the core, disgusted beyond belief, I feel kind of numb now. 

It's full of manipulation, deceit and ruin; loss of innocence, brutality and mass disturbance. There's something about this book that gets under your skin. Grabs you by the throat and leaves you gasping for life. While I can sit and appreciate how skillfully it is written, I will never ever suggest anyone need/must read it. From it's vulgar, masochistic tones, to it's sheer, unadulterated courage, I can't even believe this was allowed to be published. Haunting from the first page to the very last, a book I will not forget in a hurry, no matter how hard I try. An eye-opener, a casualty you wish you'd never seen, a demon you'd never wish to discover. Read it or don't, that's not for me to say. I just know, personally, and I know most will agree, this may be a subject taken a bit too far. Maybe this novel should have been kept hidden in the dark, chilling depths of A.M Homes' mind, rather than a copy of it left discarded in disgust at my bedside. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

You. #2

The Cheshire-cat sized grin on my face is what I give you credit for. The spring in my step as I walk through the winter rain with my parka hood nestled cosily around my face, shielding my hair from the violent weather. The hot cup of coffee that greets my lips every single morning. The smell of you on my clothes, my skin and in my hair. The way I seem to struggle to catch my breath every time I see you. I clam up, I'm suddenly shy. I feel my cheeks go crimson and my tongue get tied. Your voice echoes familiarly in my ears, your face is burnt on my retina for reference when you're not around; a memory for later, a just-incase stock of happy images, words, voices. Kept for a rainy day, or just a lonely one. The one person who cared enough to push back, to stay, to have faith in me and my stubborn ways, to trust me, accept and appreciate who I am. Someone I could tell anything and everything to. A confidante, a best friend, a drinking partner, a fellow lover of literature and someone just very, very important to me. My smile doesn't shift. Even if it's not physically on my face, I am just so happy. It's silly. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Escaping the void.

So, real-life has kind of hit me like a train. Almost two weeks into my second semester of uni, and my head feels sufficiently sore, my hand aches and my eyes look drained, bored, exhausted. As part of a new second year module, the fourty-something of us (I'm guessing) that make up Creative Writers, have been assigned to something our university is calling Writing and Enterprise. As part of this, we are required to focus in on applying for a mock-up job ad at a local writing agency. As soon as I realised this, I knew I had hit a brick walk. Hard. 

While the class is clearly divided in one sense, I sat earlier today, very obviously, stuck. Certain individuals have their futures cleverly, clearly, or even obsessively planned out, and a career in "the arts" let's say (because I've heard it enough lately) isn't for them. They have chosen to go down a more traditional route, maybe safe, maybe vocational, maybe just something they know will pay their bills and enable them to live comfortably on. While I want all of the above, kind of awkwardly, I push the idea of a career in teaching or something like that, aside. While I know quite a few people close to me are pursuing various degrees in teaching, I know from the bottom of my heart, the pit of my stomach and the blood that races through my veins, that teaching is not for me. I never, ever, have considered a path like that. It just isn't what I see myself doing in ten years. Instead, I've opted for something I'm really passionate about, writing. For years, I've loved the feeling of picking up a pen, and letting my thoughts escape freely onto a page, or a word document, or even more recently, a note app on my phone. I want to share my words, and in doing so, I want people to react. I want my name on a book spine, in a newspaper or a magazine. I want to publish something, get something out there, become read as a person. Flaunt my opinions and let my personality leak through every word I write. 

So, back to the brick wall. After being addressed with this assignment, I realised something. Or rather, something hit me with such a violent force that I felt it could knock me straight into next week. I have little/no experience in the field I want to work in. I've never had anything published, I've never made connections with important people or acquired tips from an agency that could point me in the right direction, along with a good word and a thumbs up for encouragement. While on the one hand, I have never been more sure of anything in my life, that if I don't try to follow this, I'll spend a hell of a lot of time miserable, sinking further into regret, so I have nothing at all to lose. Well, pride maybe. University fees I may never pay back. Self-confidence, but that dwindles unknowingly anyway. I feel like I could really come across well, given the chance, even if on paper, I don't look so appealing. I'm really not sure what I should do. Grab any opportunity tightly between my fingertips and hold on for dear life? Keep everything crossed. Run in totally blind. Stay hopeful. Stay positive. Become an optimist. Learn to believe in myself, and most of all, in my writing ability. 

I'm taking a deep breath, and just giving myself some time to think. The assignment must be done regardless of what I'm debating. I don't know how to, or even if I'm good enough, to get my foot in the door of such a competitive field, but I'm sure as hell going to give it my best shot.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Writer's Block.

An icy, lonely, irritating destination. A labyrinth of misery and headaches. It gets under your skin, makes your fingertips itch and your head feel like it might implode any minute. I've arrived. For uni, I've been asked to write 1000 words on something of my choosing, in prose. The only specification being, it has to be my interpretation of 'face.' I shrugged it off when we were assigned this activity, underestimating how much that actually was, when I was given the freedom of writing something of my choice. Evidently, I've got too much to choose from. My eyes can't focus, my fingertips are dying to write something wonderful and explosive that will leave everyone speechless when I read it out, but there's nothing coming. My wonderful/explosive/decent ideas have all seemed to run dry. There's nothing interesting anywhere in sight. I feel like I either go gushy and scarily into my real-life when writing today, or otherwise, it's totally emotionless and let's be honest, my gushing is the lesser of two very close evils. I have Arctic Monkeys playing, (I did have Neil Diamond in some desperate bid for inspiration, but it just made me want to cry into my coffee, so AM will substitute.) Saying that, AM always make me want to go out. As One For The Road strums, I imagine myself slumped effortlessly in the Brit, a drink in my hand, and the jukebox overloaded with demands for Arctic Monkeys and the Beatles. Writer's block may be the most frustrating thing ever. I know I can write. I realise I have the ability, and the enthusiasm, the intellect and the drive, and yet, blank. My word document sits lonely in another tab, engulfed in white space. It's screaming to be filled in, with anything. It's craving letters of some description, and a subject matter I just cannot seem to settle on. My indecisivity (is that even a word?) has hit me. My phone keeps buzzing familiarly, a welcome distraction from this awful dilemma. I give up. I can't force myself to write, evidently. So, my thousand words will have to be postponed. Don't cry now, will you? I'll try not to, but I'm not making any promises.

Monday, 20 January 2014


I'm the kind of person who saw your latest tweet about running late for work, your Instagram post, the single of the week on Radio One, and what Fearne Cotton's three-word review was, the breaking news headlines, the time Eastenders starts, and what that Facebook argument was really about, the films getting the good reviews, and the worse reviews, the price of drinks in my local and how long you actually can wait for a bus before seven show up at once in Chester. I know the stupid, irrelevant things like probably every line ever spoken in Friends and Peter Kay's Tour That Didn't Tour Tour. I know when all the sales are on, and the last possible time you can place an order on ASOS and receive it the next morning. The right coffee to water ratio to make my day obviously constructive. The taxi price I pay every single week I go out. How much weight my bags can hold before my anthologies threaten their stitching. 

I'm a bit odd like that. Relevant things don't seem to have much space reserved in my brain. Random facts take priority. Things that actually won't aid me in life whatsoever usually. It's been said I lack in common sense at times, and honestly, it's very true. My mam's always telling me  ,"Eleanor, for someone so clever, you're very stupid sometimes." Or words to that affect. An over-thinker who doesn't think. It's funny anyway. I'm attempting to start this year as a more together, organised person, and especially, as a student. In my second semester of my second year at uni now, I think it's about time I started taking it seriously, and working hard. That just means I'll play even harder. Oh yes, and I want to learn to play the piano. Random. But we actually do have a piano at home. What can I say, my sister got bored one summer and someone was selling one. 

Not-so-blue Mondays.

The sun is peeking through the heavy clouds, the misty atmosphere hangs stubbornly over the Tyne, and so-called Blue Monday is in full-swing. Today was my first day back at uni, as of 2014. Admittedly, a sixty-minute lecture may not fully count as a full day back around campus, but still, technicalities aside, today marked the forcible reeataiblishment of routine. Setting my alarm and actually conjuring up enough willpower not to casually ignore it and hit snooze repeatedly. Spoiler: I failed, by 35 minutes, yet somehow managed to arrive on time. 

I superstitiously, or perhaps just coincidentally have my nails painted blue as some kind of ironic, lazy statement of today's so called blue, depression. For me, I have to say, I seem to have conquered any bad vibes surrounding the usual Monday stigma, but that may be due to my slightly dazed self waking up at 8:35 instead of some horrific 6am start usually associated with Monday mornings. However, some things don't change. There's a certain tact in learning to avoid the abundance of charity workers (and The Hair Man) who loiter on Northumberland Street day-in-day-out in the desperate hope for custom and/or donations. There's always, without fail, someone busking, singing The Fray or Damian Rice or something equally as calming. Masses of people rushing past one another heading to work, uni, school, college, or just shopping. Caffeine fuelled commuters as far as the eye can see. The frantic buying of breakfasts and newspapers. 

The ground is crisp, the air is tight, and winter seems to be close on the horizon. A sunny, cold start to the year, and I keep making plans. I'm determined to be organised this year, but how far that goes still remains to be seen.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Lucky bitch.

It's Thursday, it's January, and the sun is shining. My dad is sat at the table in my peripheral vision, watching Pulp Fiction. I'm only half-listening, although I've never seen it. My phone is buzzing happily every time I receive a message. A smile sits so effortlessly across my face. It's sixteen days into 2014 and there's a feeling I just can't shift. I honestly can't believe how lucky I am. Okay, side note: I'm getting more absorbed into Pulp Fiction every second, so I'll keep this short yet eloquent. I'm surrounded by the best people ever. I can sit here confidently and swear that the people in my life are some of the best I've ever met. The funniest, kindest, most incredible individuals I could ever know. The people who make me tick. Know me inside out, my good traits and bad habits and stand by me when I need them most. There's certain people I'd honestly do anything for. Recently, I've come to know Amy, a girl who, although we've never met face to face, I consider a very good friend. Amy and I got to know each other basically through blogger and twitter, shared writing, creativity, drunk snapchats and vodka memories. We're hopefully arranging to actually meet in person this year. She's amazing, funny and such a talented writer. I fully believe she's going to be some big-shot writer one day with her latest novel bound in expensive leather backing, and hopefully she'll sign my copy personally. Anyway, that aside, Amy is one of not many people I trust with a hell of a lot. She's one of the strongest people I've ever known, she's been through a lot and yet always comes out of the other side, stronger and more determined than ever. A risk taker. She knows that despite writing being shrugged off by many as a less than conventional career prospect, she's doing it anyway. I can honestly say, I know she will get something published, because if you have enough guts, and enough sheer determination as she has, there's no other outcome, and I find that blindingly wonderful. I'm smiling stupidly, as if I've just been told I've hit the jackpot. You'd think I was lying on a bed, surrounded by a mass of £50 notes, money heaven. Pound signs in my eyes. The cha-Ching of winning something incredible. I'm gushing so much, but I don't care. I know how lucky I am. Surrounded by an amazing family, friends and boyfriend. I can't even begin to describe how strange it is writing that. Lukas is probably grinning reading this. Stop it. I won't be smiling unless you bring me tequila.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

From now on.

Seven days into 2014, and I've just sort of realised, where are my resolutions?! As a slightly neurotic, occasionally OCD person, I love to make lists. Shopping lists, to do lists, reminder lists, anything. So this is it. The one list that should count, right? My New Years resolutions. Here goes nothing, (or may be everything.)

1. Be happy. I mean it. Really, genuinely happy. This year has got off to a great start, so here's to hoping to just gets better. This year, I put my happiness first. I do what's good for me. 

2. Work harder. Uni wise. Also, I need a job. I constantly live outside of my means, and I need to get a grip and start living in the real world, even if I don't like it much. Everyone keeps telling me I'm so capable, so maybe it's about time I proved them right. 

3. Take risks. Lots of them. I'm tired of being scared of doing something, because of the chances of failure, messing things up or just not working out how I'd like. The bottom line is, if I'm not willing to take a risk every once in a while, I probably won't get to where I want to be. 

So, there's three. Seems a bit OTT to do many more, and it'll just fall into my obsessive list-making habit anyway if I continue. Today has been tiring, in the best possible sense. Even if I didn't do an awful lot. I'm drained. The festive season is well and truly over. New year is just some nostalgic memory fading on the horizon. The banners have gone, the decorations ripped miserably down as the clocks changed over and the ball dropped. There was no messing about. No hesitation. Once it's over, it's over. We don't dwell on it. There's dibs on who gets to sit on Boxing Day and say "well that's that over for another year" in such a nonchalant way that you'd think we didn't kick up such a fuss in the first place. 

To me, the eight days between Christmas Eve and new year are the only good things about winter. The hustle and bustle of eveything seasonal. The panic-buying, the happy crowds getting all tense and impatient, the food and not forgetting, the eight or so day binge we all have on alcohol. (Okay, most of us.) So it's all over. The presents packed away, no tinsel in sight, back to work, school and uni we go. Real life spells January blues, snow on it's way and the usual post-Christmas fads that usually die out by the second week of the year. I'm tired. Okay, scratch that, I'm absolutely exhausted. Everything is just so. Every smile, every breath, every movement, it all seems..well, right. I keep gushing about how happy I am, but I honestly can't emphasise it enough. (Lukas, you can take credit for this! You got a shoutout, even if you didn't want one, but I'm pretty sure you're grinning right now.) It's a hell of a big deal for me, and I'm still getting used to it. 

Happy nonsense.

Right now, I'm even struggling to write clearly. And no, I'm not drunk. I'm actually stone cold sober, and yet I couldn't make sense right now to save my life. I feel lost. Drugged up to the eyeballs. Totally, irrevocably wrapped up in my own life to even come up for air. Selfish as it may be, I really don't care. I'm stupidly happy. It's ridiculous. I've found someone who has the amazing ability to make me grin uncontrollably. Someone, who I won't name, because sometimes, secrets are nice. I don't know, would he like to be named? If so, I might spill. Then again, it is just a blog. I don't think I've ever met anyone that makes me this happy. Someone I'm so comfortable around. Who knows me, even the stupid things. My ability to quote the entire boxset of Friends, knows how neurotic I can be, my coffee habit and love for sambuca. My quips and traits, flaws and failings, passions and dreams. I have absolutely no clue why he isn't running a mile, but I'm unspeakably grateful that he isn't. I'm grinning from ear to ear, totally, utterly high on life. 

Friday, 3 January 2014


Well, it's safe to say, I've just had the best New Year, ever. I'm so happy, my face is hurting because I can't physically stop smiling. The kind of happiness that you can't shift, even if you try. I've been wearing my best smile for about 72 hours now, even in the midst of one of the worst hangovers imaginable. The last few days have been a blur, a brilliant, surreal blur. I feel like it sort of all merged into one, happy, messy day. One person in particular is responsible for my Cheshire cat-sized grins, racing pulse and sheer volume of sleep deprivation. Someone who can potentially, (and is already) making me the happiest I've been in a hell of a long time. Someone who knows me better than most, and for some mad reason, doesn't want to run a mile at the prospect of being with me. I honestly can't imagine why, but I'm very happy that he thinks that. I feel a bit brainwashed. It's intoxicating. I feel totally drunk, even though I'm (yes, for the first time in 2014 I can say this and truthfully mean it) stone-cold sober. My face is aching, I literally haven't stopped grinning from ear to ear. I can't think straight, it's impossible to concentrate, I'm checking my phone every five seconds like I'm demented or something. I don't think I've took a breath properly in days. Everything just feels so right. It kind of makes me want to kick myself, I mean, if this is what I've been missing out on all this time, then I seriously must be mad. I have a deadline looming, and I want to abandon it, because there's somewhere I'd much rather be. I'm pretty ecstatic right now. There isn't anything or anyone that can shake this mood, and I'm so relieved. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I really am happy.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2014, we meet at last.

This time 24 hours ago, I was just walking through the front door. Safe to say I definitely wasn't the first foot in. Greeted with mixed expressions of amusement, disappointment and embarrassment, me and my stinking hangover just wanted bed. I well and truly celebrated new year in style. Okay, no. I didn't. I got blind drunk, showed myself up and then had to play down my drunkenness in company. I never slept, didn't get home, and carried on drinking. I made friends, then enemies with crowds of people, took hundreds of spaced-out photos that you can't even make out, and spent too much money on hard liquor. Instead of arriving home yesterday and seeking bed, food and a shower, I made arrangements to go back out. Officially round two. New Year's Day, it's impossible to stay in for. Even my parents were getting ready to go out, while I struggled to eat anything. I powered through, showered, changed and slapped some make up on, in a desperate attempt to disguise the fact I was in that weird limbo between hungover and drunk. 

Today I'm pale and still shaking. The room is spinning, and every time I get up, it feels like I'm moving far too fast. Needless to say, I don't even want to think about any more alcohol for at least another week. Every part of my body hurts. I've greeted 2014 with a horrible hangover and unsure smiles, sambuca and sleep-deprivation. The radio is shouting and acting as some sort of motivational voice, and yet, I'm just lying in bed feeling overly sorry for myself. My feet are sore, I'm severely dehydrated and I can't shift this feeling of queasiness hanging around so unwelcome. I'm happy though. Very happy. Even if I am in so much pain. I think I need a brisk walk in the January sun and shift these blues. Apparently January blues are alcohol-inflicted. Or at least they are in my case. I saw the new year in very messily, and yet, I'm happier than ever. I've not stopped smiling in about two days straight. My liver is crying out for sobriety, my head wants painkillers and my muscles just want to shrivel up and die. Rough times. Curled up with puppy in bed, today is officially a write-off. HAPPY NEW YEAR.