It’s never easy being young…

People are always afraid of getting old, of finding those fine lines and grey hairs of time passing them by, of missing opportunities and the sense that each day you’re the best you’ll ever be. If I’m honest, I’ve never really prescribed to that philosophy. Since a child, if I was the closer side of six months to my birthday, I’ve always rounded up. Being young for me was always difficult, always feeling too old for my years and hating the condescending stares of those more experienced eyes around me. Age for me always represented, progression, wisdom, experience, passion, learning… Moving away from the past and growing into the person that I feel inside, each year finding my feet a little more…

Thats easy to say when everything’s going well, when you’ve a plan, when you’re still only 22 and have you ‘whole life ahead of you’. But it’s not easy beings young – the Argo, the angst, the attitudes. All this raging hormones and learning curves, new lessons and choices to make. The world might be your oyster, but they are a delicacy to get used too. There’s the opposite sex, and sex, and then the ex; growing pains, growth spurts and guessing… It might be an exciting road we travels, but however worn it’s still got its fair share of bumps and twists and turns.

Decisions come thick and fast, what to do, where to go, what to be, who to be with, what to want, what t get, what to aspire too, what to work for… And that sinking feeling that these questions will remain unanswered and sought for a fairly long time. Life after all doesn’t get any easier or let up instead striving forward and creating new challenges – not the easiest thing t comprehend. If I could go back and grow up again, I can say I wouldn’t. I still haven’t for a start, I’m still 15 somewhere inside, trying my best to look the part, to fit in, to do well, to achieve…

But it’s not easy. Even getting out of adolescence isn’t easy with the present economy. School leavers, or Uni graduates, everyone s struggling to find their place in the world. Those with a career plan are finding it virtually impossible to get started in with the lack of jobs, and the rest who are unsure are desperately vying for whatever wage they can take. As a young thing, I’ll admit it all seems a rather daunting prospect.

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If I could steal anything…

I’d steal a library. Yep, how sad is that? Not the crown jewels, not enough money to live for ever, not the heart of the one I love, I want a library. Every book ever written. I want that library from Beauty and the Beast, ever nook and cranny of my house filled with pages of words, stair cases lined with them, shelf after shelf of classics. Its sad I am aware but I do love my books. I love the escapism. I love the way a new book smells, I love reading a book and not breaking the spine. I love seeing a full bookcase of books I’ve read, of those I’m about too, full of little gems.

There are so many books we never get to read, so many great writers that remain obscure, lost in a vast collection that we don’t appreciate. They could be our new favourite, they could have written that book that we read over and over and over. I’d read every spine, every blurb. If I liked it, read a chapter and if I get into it – keep it. I’d make my library stocked with the books I love, with the stuff I want to read, with the things I find interesting.

From poetry, to fact, from fiction to novella, from romantics to Augustine, Victorian to Georgian, from modernism to american, to Gothic and graphic. Erotica, horror, thriller… I’d want them all. To read and read and read. I sat down and read, for Uni, Rasselas, a novel of Augustine Literature. it was about a man trying to to escape paradise in a hope to discover what life was, what made people happy. They went in search of the rich, the poor, the middle ground, the critics, the philosophers, the poets and the leaders, and they all came to some conclusion.

The overall outcome? we can’t all be happy all the time, but we must try to pursue what does make us happy. I’d want knowledge, to learn, eternally, to not work but sit and learn, read, research, reiterate, rediscover – love. There is nothing more exciting and fulfilling than knowledge that of experience or facts or understanding. Of ancient histories and arts, of society and psychology, of art and science.

I know I sound like a massive English toff. I am no academic, I am not the smartest of my classes nor the most profound. I do not write ground-breaking essays of understand things as well as I should, but I do love to learn, to ponder, to think, to muse, to wonder. It’s in my nature to be inquisitive. I get obsessive over a subject I discover for the first time, I want to know everything, to read everything, to understand, to penetrate its core. I’ve been obsessed with researching serial killers and then psychology behind murders, to suddenly being obsessed with epistemology, the theory of knowledge of how we learn, to the life of 1950’s women post war and then to learning about astronomy.

If I could steal anything, I’d steal a library and lend books forever, share my passion with others, decorate my surroundings with the pages, and submerge myself in a world of poetry and prose.

Who said Literature students didn’t read…

See now, despite seemingly reading forever at University and yet at the same time, never seeming to complete a book, I”ve been surprised just how many books I’ve read throughout my University Career. Including those for the up and coming term. Reading has always been a passion of mine but to be honest, I always thought I’d slacked off a bit recently, no quite so apparently.

When recalling books I have read, I’ve been amazed at the list, astounded some might say. Not because i’ve read hundreds and fancy a good boast, but how lucky I’ve been to be forced (yes it is forced, however much you like reading) to rattle through some of the greatest books considered ever written, without thinking about it. most of them appear on lists like, Books you must read before you die, and I’ve kinda done most. Cool.

So I thought, I’d share my recent reading with you, I say recent meaning that of the novels and plays I have read since starting University and so far for my third and final (whoopee) year. Why, I don’t know. I guess so if any of you think, I really wanted to read that, well I could say, do, don’t or possibly with caution!

  • Atkinson, Kate Behind the Scenes at the Museum
  • Beckett, S., Waiting for Godot, Endgame
  • Braddon, Elizabeth Mary, Lady Audley’s Secret
  • Brecht, B., Mother Courage
  • Bronte, Charlottte, Jane Eyre
  • Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights
  • Brown, Dan The Da Vinci Code
  • Browning, Robert, Selected Poetry
  • Burney Frances Evelina
  • Burgess, Anthony Clockwork Orange
  • Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland
  • Chekhov, A., The Cherry Orchard
  • Chopin, Kate, The Awakening.
  • Collins, Wilkie, The Woman in White
  • Conrad, Joseph Heart of Darkness
  • DefoeDaniel  Moll Flanders
  • Dickens, Charles, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations
  • Ellison, Ralph, Invisible Man
  • Ensler, Eve The Vagina Monologues
  • Equiano, Olaudah  The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
  • Fielding Henry  Tom Jones
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby.
  • Forster, E.M.  A Passage to India
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth, Mary Barton
  • Gay, John Beggar’s Opera
  • Eliot, George, Silas Marner
  • Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, The Yellow Wallpaper
  • Haddon, Mark The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time
  • Haggard, H. R., King Solomon’s Mines
  • Hardy, Thomas, Jude the Obscure
  • Handke, Peter Offending the Audience
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The Scarlet Letter.
  • Heller, Joseph, Catch-22.
  • Himes , Chester Cotton Comes to Harlem 
  • Hurston, Zora Neale, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Ibsen, H., Ghosts, A Doll’s House
  • Joyce, J.  Ulysses
  • Kane, Sarah 4.48 Psychosis
  • Kerouac, Jack, On The Road.
  • Kesey, Ken, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  • Kipling, Rudyard  Kim
  • Kureishi,Hanif Intimacy
  • Lanchester, John Mr Phillips
  • Lawrence, D. H. The Rainbow
  • Lee, Harper, To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • McEwan,Ian Atonement
  • Melville, Herman, Moby-Dick.
  • Miller, Arthur; Death of a Salesman, The Crucible; A View from the Bridge,
  • Moore, S.,  In the Cut
  • Morrison, Toni, Beloved.
  • Mosley , Walter Devil in a Blue Dress
  • Nabokov, Vladmir Vladmimirovich Lolita
  • Orwell, George  Burmese Days
  • Pirandello, L., Six Characters in Search of an Author
  • Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar.
  • Roth, P.,  Portnoy’s Complaint
  • Shakespeare, William Richard III, Henry V, Othello 
  • Smith,Ali The Accidental
  • Steinbeck, John  Grapes of Wrath
  • Stevenson, Robert L. The Strange Case of  Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Thackeray, William M., Vanity Fair
  • Twain, Mark  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 
  • Walker, Alice Color Purple 
  • Wharton, Edith, The Age of Innocence.
  • Welsh,Irvine Trainspotting
  • Williams, Tennessee; A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Wilson, August; The Piano Lesson
  • Winterson,Jeanette Oranges are not the Only Fruit
  • Woolf, V.  Mrs Dalloway
  • Wilde, Oscar, The Picture of Dorian

The best bit about looking at that is seeing progress. Studying an English degree most of the time, you don’t feel like you’re doing alot. You read alot, you write an essay on some of the stuff you’ve read, you move on, you forget all that is talked about in reference to text, the history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and theoretical concept that are referenced, and discussed in depth within each seminar. Then there’s the secondary reading, the textbooks, journals, the resources, the essays, that you plough on through, its all seemingly forgotten when you move onto your next topic or task. As with everything, its stored somewhere in the back of your minds, and at the end of the year all your have is 8 essays and a piece of paper with your grades.

It does seem a little strange for a degree, the amount of marked work, but it is the same wherever you go. Looking at that makes me insanely happy, I’ve done something these three years, even if its only having read 15,000 pages of primary print.

Explaining how you feel…

How do you explain depression to someone who doesn’t understand? How do you make someone see, understand what it is, what its like, how it feels? Its something to be honest, I’ve never tried to do. My parents saw the best and worst of me and therefore they got it first hand, for all its peculiarities and oddness.

Its described as that black dog that follows you around, a metaphor for being chased down by darkness, this feeling of being followed, imprisoned, caged by your own feelings. Its always there, like a cloud looming, suffocating you, reminding you that it can rain again any time.

But what is it. Its hardly descriptive is it, this black dog. Its all abstract words and feelings its hardly surprising people can’t grasp it. To me, its this sense of deadness that creeps in. Where I go through a stage of feeling numb, over tired, exhausted, my brain works at a 100 miles an hour worrying about anything, everything, keeping me up. I stop sleeping, I feel nothing about anything. Apathetic,  just very unlike me.

Then you feel lost, down, sad, you feel like crying constantly because you don’t understand why you don’t feel happy, why you can’t feel properly. Like your heads wrapped in cotton wool, you can’t think, can’t process, feelings tear around inside of you rather than drifting, you’re angry for feeling so helpless when there is nothing wrong, sad for not knowing how to put it right, lost as to the answer to this imaginary problem.

Yet it is so very real. It can come around or go as fast as anything. I take tablets, the highest dose of my prescribed meds allowed, to keep me from feeling that way, but then, sometimes, it all gets to much. I’ll have a few down days, where suddenly, I’ll wake up and something isn’t right, I can feel it, this sense of… an absence. My eyes prick with tears and I don’t understand why, I end up overwhelmed, hysterical, hating myself for feeling so god damn useless. Then, I feel OK.

I sit with someone, I talk, I don’t talk, I take some different tablets, I get a handle on things, drag myself out of my own pit, and give myself a good talking too. I put things in perspective, I contact those I love, I force myself to get on, and you know what, I’m OK again, functioning normally. Enjoying friends company, occupying myself with writing, reading, plans, whatever. The helplessness subsides, the empty void is filled, if only partly on occasion, and I carry on.

Its dangerous. Its worrying how quickly things can turn so wrong, how things can get out of hand. How your rational brain, leaves somewhere and this force takes over. Doctors worry, long term depression is a worry, it leads to scary things, they want to put you with people to talk to, they want to make you feel better all the time, but we all have ups and downs, just because your depressed doesn’t mean you should never have them.

I want the highs and the lows. Sometimes you just need to talk and say, I feel like everything’s slipping away again, sometimes you need people to leave it be, sometimes you need someone to understand they cant get it. People that say its a first world problem, damn right it is. How upsetting is that, can you imagine, knowing there are people in Africa, starving, with AIDS and diseases, their children dying and if you asked them, they’d want to live.

I say its ignorant. Well yes and no. Its hard to understand something you cant explain or feel yourself, Its hard to see how there can be a problem when there is nothing seemingly wrong. It is totally irrational, that is not lost on depressives, its stupid, its selfish, its ridiculous, thats not lost on me either. But its a disease, of the brain, its there and it eats you and it makes no sense and its there for no reason.

I was told last week I was considered a harm to myself, maybe I was, last week I didnt care, I couldn’t be bothered, I was fed up of feeling down, of getting these ridiculous feelings, of the hopelessness, of letting myself get like that, if that was my life, I didnt want it. But this week, well, I’ve got my perspective back, my rational brain and I know, its stupid to let something take such a hold, something you can’t even understand or quantify.

I get upset when people question it, I understand how ridiculous it is, I hate myself for being such a drip, for letting myself become so overemotional, when I’m not one for being overly emotional normally. Its because I cant explain it, I dont understand it and I find it as frustrating as everyone does who’s trying to get a straight answer about it.

I want to hide people from my lows. When I could just lose it all completely and cry and shake and dissolve into a dribbling, snivelling wreck for no apparant reason. You look mental, you make no sense, you seem hysterical and nothings happened. Why would people want to see that? But then your being fake, your being fake all the time. No your not. Sometimes we all want to cry, sometimes we all want to scream out, its just your at the extremes as a depressive. There isn’t a lot in the middle, its from Depression to Numbness to Happiness. the place inbetween the polar opposites is not feeling at all.

I wish I could stop being like that, I wish I could just be happy with my life because I’ve nothing to be unhappy about, I wish I could be like everybody else, without making a problem out of not having a distinguishable problem. But its something I accept, I try not to think about, I get on with, its a part of me. I  was diagnosed 10 years ago, and it certainly won’t disappear overnight. I don’t dwell, I don’t think about it, I don’t will it, but it creeps in, I fight it off, I get tired, I give in, I resolve, I get up, I dust myself down, I slap myself for my stupidity, I smile, I carry on, and I’m back.

That’s as well as I can ever describe it. I just hope, for those I want it to, its good enough.

After all, Life isnt about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning how to dance in the rain.

Revelation of my brains sex.

I fear this may be one of those posts I dread, when I think I am surely going to offend someone or say something out of turn that someone won’t like but, I’ve realised something today, that I had not ever really given much thought before. I wish I was a man -just because I own a strap on dildo and sleep with women doesn’t mean I want a penis – I want to be, A Man – sort of. Now even writing that sentence seems odd to me, looks odd, doesn’t feel right, something in me says I am glad I am not a man, I have no desire to be one, and yet, I am extremely envious. I am jealous even, of men.Now before I go any further, I do not under any circumstances see myself as anything but a strong female. I am all woman in all senses, I love being a woman, I love the way men look at you, I love flirting, I love being with women… I love the physics of women, I love our figures, our complexity, I love our aesthetics, but I don’t like our traits. I have always laughed and said to people, you need to think of me as a man, not a girl. They’ve all given me the same look and in time they’ve realised its true. I pride myself on my male characteristics.

I’ve never been a woman who wanted to do herself up, to make a massive effort with clothes, with short skirts and outrageous diets, I didn’t wanna look like I’d been pushed through Topshop backwards – I didn’t want to compete. Why? Because I didn’t, don’t, want to be viewed as a woman, to be perceived as a ‘woman’ in men’s eyes. I’ve never wanted to look as though I’ve tried to hard, that I’ve made an effort, that I’m one of those people who spends hours in a mirror worrying about their looks and what people will think, because I guess I don’t. I never wanted to come across as emotional, as stressy, as concerned with life’s trivialities, to talk about shoes, and whose friends with who, to bitch or to get upset that some boy didn’t text me, quite frankly because those things, don’t concern me. I want to be wanted, but not owned, not to be someones missus, to get married and have babies and fall into the role of mother and wife because I have the parts, it wasn’t ever a dream of mine as a little girl.

I do not think, before I continue, I am better than anyone else. I’m stereotyping massively but, sit in a coffee shop all day and observe female behaviour and I hate to say it, the stereotypes there for a reason. Female bonding culminates on three topics, Bitching, Boys and Buys. We love to slag each other off, have a good gossip, talk about what someones wearing as they walk past, or had we heard that… we love other people’s lives, women are born nosey, its something we can’t escape. I pride myself on being someone who doesn’t care, who doesn’t get involved, let people do as they will and I wont worry myself with it too much, my family are the only people who matter, and my friends are my family, as I’ve said before, they are few and far between and I value them as blood. Then boys, women love to talk about men, about sex, who they’ve been with, what they think, what they do, who’s the bastard, the old flame, the cheat, the new lover… It’s all being nosey, again. Then buying, shopping, appearance. What make up you use, how much the shopping was, what bargain someone got, what they wear, what they won’t, what shape they are…

To me, none of this matters. Having dated girls, I dislike the fuss. There is a lot of fuss as a woman, over lots of things and I prefer the more simplistic. Women are complicated, they are illogical, over thinkers, overly stimulated, we dot relax, we don’t enjoy life simply. Dating a woman is a minefield, even as a girl, we make no sense most of the time, we change like the winds and we contradict ourselves, continually. We’ve all heard men say it and we are quick to damn their sex for their insolent remarks, yet date a woman and it becomes clear, even we don’t understand ourselves.

And so I guess, I would consider myself to have a mans perspective yes. But it had never occurred to me that I dislike being a women, or having womanly traits before. I knew I wasn’t a feminist. I believe that women should have equal rights to men yes, that we should have the same freedom as anyone else, but that’s because, I believe I am sort of, a man. I don’t care for the same things other girls seem to around me, or care for female companionship in general because of it. I don’t feel I fit in. I’m called, crude because my humours dirty and normally borderline sexist, but in an amusing way. But I actively dislike myself when I am acting like a woman.

I don’t mean a female, let me make that clear, I mean a woman as in the traits that I see women to possess that make me, weak. Being over emotional, needy, worrying about what people think, or what I say, wanting people to like me, and to understand.. Being concerned with how my nails are, whether my make ups looking good, whether I look skinny enough…Talking inanely about things that don’t matter, like the neighbours or gossiping about someone needlessly, even if without malice… I feel it makes me feel weak. It makes me angry at myself, feel negative about my behaviour or feelings.

I am quick to say, god I sound like a woman, god I’m being a woman, to snap myself out of any behaviour I see as unfit, mulling over something too much, over thinking something like a relationship, dithering, one of my own pet hates. I defend myself when I’m acting like that, saying I must be coming on soon, or don’t judge me I’m having a moment, it’s embedded in me that being a woman isn’t a strength. Or more, the qualities that separate us from men aren’t always a strength many quite the opposite.

Yes we feel compassion and care, and kindness that men do not. We forge stronger more meaningful relationships because we attach emotions, we are understanding, more forgiving, more thoughtful and therefore a lot of the time, more insightful than our male counterparts. But, we also upset ourselves needlessly, think too much into things and tie our knickers in knots, worry about things we have no control about, bitch and back-stab each other. My room is decorated in girly posters, in trinket boxes and photo albums, in kitsch sayings and signs, they make me happy, I am comfortable with cushions and soft things, pretty things, It’s not being a girl I have an issue with it seems. Not my sex, but my gender. My gendered identity.

I focus a great deal at University on the study of men, the study of women don’t concern me, feminist works irritate me, unless they are period pieces. Women who fall down as heroines and need saving by strong men, the opposite women that stand up to men as symbols of femininity and strength, yet they are not, they are emotional and its these qualities that make them the hero, and yet to me, it’s what make them weak. The characters I like are devious, over sexual beings, that use men as they do, that stand defiantly, that have men’s jobs, that wear flat shoes, that swear and spit and all the rest.

Men, I do not worship, nor think are perfect. They are confusing for the reasons we aren’t, for their lack of emotion when only emotion seems to be the answer, they are simple, they just want to make tit jokes and be lads, not engage in deep conversation like I like to, like I guess most girls do. They are in some respects two-dimensional, yet even in our society they are still in a better position. Women are still considered weaker in the work place, because we’ll want to go off and have babies at some point, they’re weaker at home, not the breadwinners, they look after the husband and they keep them, they’re weaker in parliament, in politics, in literature, in films, in every discourse you can think of. We are confined by our genders as men are agreeably, yet I never knew I disliked it so.

Recently I’ve grown my nails, they’re long and people remark on how pretty they are, i’m obsessed with painting them, because I’m proud of them, I’d never been able to grow them before, always been to weak and given into a nibble. I’ve shopped for new clothes, for trousers and skirts and going out stuff, something I’d never been concerned with, but I don’t have anything to wear out and my clothes are two big. I’ve lost weight and now I’m thinking about what  I look like all of a sudden. I literally hate it. Every time I say something, earlier I mentioned getting my hair cut, why, why do I suddenly care. I don’t, it was a passing comment about my week and yet I sound like a woman, I curse myself for it. But why? that’s the big thing…

I don’t understand why it bothers me so. Why I see it as a bad thing, where this idea of weakness came from, why I feel the need to rebel against it almost when I do find myself thinking something girly, why I have such a dim view of womanhood… and yet its there. All the time, this nagging when I say, what shall I wear tonight, because, I don’t really care, if I’m overdressed, undressed, I’ll feel no awkwardness about it, I won’t ‘not’ go if I don’t think I’m wearing the right thing, yet I’m saying it so it does concern me. My brain seems to fight my own gender.

Then, we all fight our own stereotypes. If you think about it, a guy may be in a group of friends and they’re playing x box, drinking, enjoying themselves, making a few girl jokes, bit of bantar, he’s perceived as a lad, so a player, and a flirt and probably a cheat, yet he could be the most sensitive guy, but we stereotype immediately. You might sing on the way home from a  night out, take your heels off and walk arm in arm with a girl, guys may find themselves in fights yet we’d hate to be called youths, the ones we hear about in the newspapers, that get drunk, don’t work, are violent and common and lacking in common courtesies, morals even. Yet, you’d no doubt be called one, by someone, somewhere, in their mind. I don’t like people who judge a book by their cover, I’m as guilty as anyone, yet I guess that is my point, I actively dislike being associate with any category, especially a woman’s more sensitive traits.

I guess you could say it all comes down to perception and being image conscious then, and yet I don’t care what people think, whether they like me, think I’m funny, hate me, yet on some level I do. I don’t want to be viewed, more importantly, as weak. Maybe because I am weak, maybe because I’m self-conscious, maybe because I feel I need to prove myself to people somehow, or maybe because I don’t like being sold short, and we all have strength other people never see. But further than that, I don’t want to be seen as anything less than me, and I’m a babble of contradictions, complications, complexities and conundrums. I’m everything I am, and everything I am not at once. Being categorised means you are judged, your sold short, people put you in a category that you then don’t fit into necessarily, if not certainly not all the time.

…What my conclusion to this revelation, I do not know if there is anyone in general, more an understanding of just how complicated we really are. I am indeed a contradiction in terms, myself versus my sex but that’s Ok, we’re all odd in our own ways – I guess it’s just another of my quirks.

Can you put youself onto paper?

We all have to do it at some point, whether its a CV, a covering letter, an application of some sort for something we inevitably want or wouldn’t trouble ourselves to bother to write something in the first place… I’m talking about putting yourself onto paper.

No not literally smearing yourself onto a page, or printing a picture of yourself, but writing about yourself in a way that is to showcase your many good talents, talk yourself up and not come across as a pretentious and arrogant arse. Now, I’m not sure if its an English thing or a people thing and I guess that’s my reason for writing about it in the first place but I always find it an odd thing thing to do.

Its not the sort of thing we ever do in real life, as modest individuals (or most of us are) however high are opinion of ourselves we don’t want to come across as arses, we play down our attributes, publicly ridicule our faults and draw attention through humour or other means to our many misfortunes and failings. So when suddenly we have to show ourselves in the best light possible and pitch ourselves against the other hundreds of nameless pieces of paper and names, it seems harder than you would think.

That’s the first point. We are too busy, too quick as I have perpetually repeated, to pick up on our bad points, for many of us when asked to think about what attributes we have that make us employable, eligible, ‘want-able’, suddenly its not so easy. We say we are organised; and stare around at the state of our kitchens or bedrooms with disgust, we say we’re good in teams; remembering how we hated and despised that person you worked with before, wishing to make their lives a living hell but acting with professionalism – so we can say we’re professionally, except that time we chose to skive off work because we were hung over from the night before’s  antics or the childish bantar the boss caught us batting back between colleagues.

Its not that we don’t have good qualities, and its not that we don’t know precisely what it is the employer reads on a bit of a paper, but there in lies problem number two. We all know the things employers want and so how do you stand out against Joe Bloggs and Little Miss Perfect? With humour? With Something different, with enthusiasm? How do you not sound as though your sucking arse, how do you not sound as though you don’t really care and take the opportunity as a bit of a joke… how do you sound sincere and represent the person, the individual you are behind the words on the page?

With tone. Its all in the tone. When I write, I am sure you can hear my tone, the intonation I use in my own speech, my turns of phrase, my personality, humour or irony coming across. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know me personally, its there, something comes across and you can hear ‘me’ on the page. Its what we want to put across, its precisely that, that voice that we need to show and exploit, without showcasing any of the negative aspects of our personality.

We are but a name on a page, and words written like everyone else. We are all the same when it comes down to it, whether its a CV or a covering letter, its just the same bullshit laid on thick in a desperate hope taht they take a chance and get to meet you at that dreaded interview.

Interviews never bother me much, I don’t get nervous because I think, one I got here so they must have liked something and two, its time to showcase me, the real me, not the two sided a four sheet of condensed me, but me, the intellectual, punctual, loquacious me, the employee me, the girl with ambition me, the one who walks in and says with a look, you know what you want and I’m going to be it (without an air of arrogance).

But the paper. Oh, the paper. I like writing, I enjoy writing as much as anyone else who ever dreamt as a kid of being an author, a journalist, or running a magazine or a blog, of having a career where vocabulary and books were my life… but even I don’t like writing about me. Its not that I dont, or I cant write it well, its just, well, it doesn’t seem very me. I don’t big myself up, I don’t like those who boast, who forcefully present themselves and the opinion your supposed to have of them when you meet them… But I always think, its words.

Words are easy, sentences are easy. Its not hard to write something well with intelligence and authority, after all, whatever the purpose of your prose, its a basic GCSE level skill, writing to persuade. That is all we are doing after all, writing to persuade that person reading ‘us’, that we are what they want and to give us a chance.

This all comes up because at present I’m writing my teaching application. I’m trying to explain and express why I, me, little Carla Danielle, should be given one of the eight places available in the up and coming year to train as an English and Drama teacher, that I am the the one they want, against the 300 other applicants expected, by last years stats, to apply.

There is in this situation, no other way I can approach this but with, enthusiasm. Luckily for me I want this, really want this and teaching for me, like my TEFL teaching, is my passion, my life, my vocation even more than it is my chosen career. I cant imagine anything more rewarding or anything more I’d want to do, than to inspire youngsters as my teacher inspired my to get excited about learning. Its all very clichéd and slightly, ‘I’m going to throw up in my mouth’ but unfortunately it is all perfectly true. So writing this? Its a big deal, for me its make or break the next year and possible career  that I will fall into.

But its not THAT big a deal, because I know that my tone, that voice we were just talking about, will come across, with sincerity, with passion and with wanton desire to get a place and be seen because, well that’s how I feel. Writing about yourself is only ever difficult if you a) don’t believe a word you are writing, b) have no interest in the job you are applying for and therefore are faking your enthusiasm and c) if secretly, you think you don’t deserve it in the first place.

Guess what? It’ll come across, just as when you speak to your friend and say your fine, they know you’re bullshitting by that unconscious look you give them from behind your eyes, or the slightest waver in your tone, why people know your lying, by you somehow giving away that actually you are bullshitting through your teeth. We communicate in more ways than through speech, through words, through body language, or through looks, it comes from somewhere inside through those actions.

So I guess at the end of this long rant and insight into the workings of my opinion on such topics, I guess all I have to say, as usual is, believe in yourself, strive for greatness sand be determined to prove to everyone, to that person, as you should all the time in everyday life – that you are worthy, you are worth the risk, you are deserving and damn you are too good for it anyway…

It’s all possible until proven otherwise…

Now, I’m not the religious type at all. I’m not a woman of faith at all. I don’t believe in ghosts or ghouls or things that go boo in the night, I don’t believe in a higher power, or a man in the clouds, in anything but emptiness and darkness after death. I don’t believe in our paths being ready laid, or in an underlying guiding force… Or do I.

See, I’m an Agnostic and a realist. I don’t believe in anything, and I don’t not believe it either, simply because, we cannot ever know. I believe in that for sure. It cannot be proven, there is a large gap between faith, belief and knowledge that cannot and will not be proven. Unless a Deity came down from the heavens and showed us all the truth in some fashion, how can we know? We don’t/can’t come back from the, and tell everyone the truth, we can’t disbelieve anything is accurate until its proven wrong.

I think its my background of questioning. I was a child full of questions, of whys, and if’s, and buts… I was never satisfied with an answer if I could ask another question, The sentence, “because it is” never really worked with me either. Some people like to tell me it’s a get out clause for having no opinion, and it may seem that way but really, no its more complicated than that.

I am interested in everything, religion, theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology… A lot of the “ology’s” but its my English background. I like getting under the skin of things ad looking at things from different perspectives.

  • We can’t understand why people act as they do or how things come about such as large sociological movements because some things happen almost without provocation or reason, seemingly on a whim.
  • We can’t understand why people do things they do because, we’ll never understand the human brain and its function, mainly because we can’t access the  whole of our brain capacity in the first place. We’re self restrictive.
  • We can’t answer life’s big questions, with science or religion, because we can’t find and don’t have the answers, or the capability of proving or disproving things right or wrong.

I do have an opinion, on everything I’ve come across in my life. Its my job as a training academic (supposedly) to formulate opinions. My opinions fall on my realistic outlook – to me there isn’t a god or one religion that’s right or wrong, they are all systems of belief used as sociological control. There is no such thing as the afterlife and purgatory or parallel universes or dimensions. This isn’t to say that I am not interested in them or respectful either. I find it fascinating how people believe, what they believe in with little truth or fact. How we can be educated to believe and therefore we don;t know any different. How people find faith in times of mourning, when it would seem the most unlikely time. How belief comforts and carries, cares for people throughout their lives…But there are two things I do “believe” as loosely as I will ever believe in anything. (But they can wait for another post…)

It’s not so much a belief, it’s a feeling and like everything, I can’t understand it, can’t prove it, but unlike some people who would ignore it and discard it for that reason alone, I am utterly fascinated with the idea and implications of it, much like those above. For me its all possible, impossible and (im)probable all at the same time.

For me to think any other way is, close minded, ignorant and stubborn. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and as a fan of debating and discussing things, I would dislike a world where we all sat on the fence with a leg dangling both sides – yet to me, there is no other stand point. Formulate an opinion, yes, but do not be so narrow-minded as to think that. that is the only option, the only explanation and justification for said topic.

To live life like that, with that perspective means life is full of endless possibilities, and things we will not understand. For someone who likes learning that almost annoying to comprehend and yet, comforting. If you could know the answers to everything would you want to know? To find out there was nothing, no possibility, to never believe or have faith, to never have the chance to say, “Yes but what if…” ever again. I wouldn’t want to know. There is freedom in ignorance as there is in knowledge. It is not living life as an optimist, more as a realist.

Realistically I can’t say either way, I can’t certifiably answer any of those sorts of questions without an air of poetic license or personal opinion. (Realistically I can have an answer that the reality of a man sitting in the clouds is highly unlikely, at the furthest end of unlikely on the cusp of impossible), but what that does do is open up a world that is forever is never understandable and in that, there is hope, there is belief, and there is optimism. If we had all the answers, a term like optimism couldn’t exist, because things would be the way they were, without dispute – ever. How utterly depressing and unfathomable.

I like living in a world I can endlessly question, to go around and round in circles and never come to any sort of conclusion or answer – ever; A world of free choice, free interpretation and a life full of endless possibilities –  just the way I like it.

The Eternal Learner…

For me there is nothing greater than studying. I know that sounds clichéd, and like one of the sentences I’m spun at University, about becoming more than just a degree, becoming an academic – but its true. I love studying. Ever since a young child I loved school, I loved the idea of learning, of feeling myself getting cleverer, storing information in my memory banks to draw upon, having those light bulb moments when suddenly everything makes a little more sense, you understand everything a little bit more.

Of course when you’re a child that happens almost continually. You are more or less bombarded with a new slice of information, slither of experience or newly figured fact on a minute by minute basis. As we get older, that seems to change. Suddenly we understand the basics, we have the answers to the simple stuff, how to read, write, (in my case, attempt) maths, science… our biology. It’s all there and readily explained. We’ve drawn our conclusions on our basic views, our opinions on the big stuff, religion, family, politics, education… We’re already quite formed.

What do we learn as adults? Relationships. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge we continue to learn there, about ourselves more, with each new experience comes a moment of self-awareness… learning to drive? That always seems an odd one, it’s the first time since a child when we learnt to walk, to ride a bike, to swim, we have to do something that seems completely impossible and illogical to us….

Studying, makes the world, my world, more interesting. The more I learn the more I feel I have to offer, to contribute, the more I understand the smaller things in life, the more opportunities I give myself. I reform opinions, have my ideas challenged and tested, have my intellect stretched, my own foundations undermined, and…. I love that feeling. I love learning something new. Studying English it’s almost something everyday, a new word for my vocabulary, a new concept or idea, historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological details I didn’t know before.

I love reading something I’ve never heard, researching something and discovering a new interest, going into the tiny details… I can feel myself brighten up with each new sentence or concept, my brain buzzing with questions, ideas, contradictions. I lose hours lost int he recesses of my brain processing, ordering, thinking, understanding. I love finding out about everything – anything. What really interests me  is the big picture stuff, culture, society, gender… to civilisations, history, the makings of man.

I study when I shouldn’t be studying, constantly undertaking a new course or programme to keep my mind active. I qualified as a TEFL teacher last summer and this took at Level Four, Educational Psychology, learning about studying – learning why I like studying, we like learning – studying about studying. It couldn’t have been a more perfect course… I’m reading and studying Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, after my degree I begin teacher training, a masters… I’ll never stop wanting to learn – it’s just me.

Everything is a learning experience. Reading, articles, the newspaper, novels, facts, watching programmes on life, on art, on culture, on history… Talking to people. Getting to know them, their story, imparting and sharing knowledge. Life is so rich, so full of amazing things; of knowledge, interesting people, of questions, I just want to enjoy and share it all. We never stop learning, so why don’t we embrace it whole heartedly and aim to learn something new, each and everyday. I certainly do, do you?

The Black Destruction of Words…

As writers we all want to create something new, something poignant, something funny, something heartfelt, something honest…We strive to find that perfect phrasing, that sentence that says more in a few words than a paragraph could. We want clarity, perfection – drama.

We strive to delete all the unnecessary words, to strip back to what’s not needed to what simply is. It’s a hard task. Then there’s the inspiration. Where to start, how to draw together an idea from the hundreds of bubbling brooding thoughts of our mind.

What if, there was a way of using another’s work, and creating something, totally unique, unrelated to what was there before, that brings life, colour and meaning to a piece of work. Well, I introduce, Black out poetry.

Created by Austin Kleon, the idea is simple. Take a newspaper, find an article. Do not read it, do not spend time working through the article, do not try to force something out of it that is already there… Find a word – A phrase – something that stands out. It could and probably should be random, something that stands out to you. Skim for related words, words that fit the idea or the topic, the mood you’ve already chosen. Get a marker pen. Heres the fun bit… Draw around your chosen words, link the words across the page, and create something ingenious.

It sounds easy, but it’s a skill, a talent and something that will take time. Everyone can do it, but its a new way of working and as we all know, it takes a little time to adjust. When your little poems formed, black out everything else. Wipe the page clean so its only your words, your work that stands out against the darkness. You’ve made your first poem.

Blackout poetry provides a great starting point for all poets, writers and those who enjoy literature in general. It gets your creative flow going, it allows in the shortest of time to create something unique from something plain, bland – the pages of a newspaper. You can use the poem as inspiration for a longer piece of writing, to adapt into an epic poem or simply, to hold on its own, as its own piece of art.

The best thing about Newspaper Blackout is simply, you can do it anywhere. Over a morning coffee, on the train to and from work, in bed when you can’t sleep, in any spare five minutes you have a day. We all know of five-minute exercises that are supposed to keep us in touch with our creativity and help our writing, but what better way to do it than to, force something from our minds and get stressed about that five minutes. Sit back, relax, and just do it.

Austin Kleon is to me, a hero in his own right. A figurehead for the generation of writers that are finding more creative ways to be, well, creative. To find art in the profoundest of places, to work with something that’s already there, to reinvent the written word and poem.

Stealing! I hear you say… How can something be creative, be individual, be unique, when you’ve stolen someone else words, when you’ve had no hand in the writing itself. If you’re still of this mind, you’ve missed the point of Blackout completely. Its recreating not reiterating. You aren’t working with something already there and condensing, your finding something new, something hidden, amongst the garble of corporate wording.

Now I’ll admit, I’m not that great. I’m hardly the next and newest Blackout poet, ready to set your minds alight and show you examples of brilliance but you know, its a new hobby. Its something exciting and more importantly, its something I enjoy. Why not give it a go, and see what you may discover, lost and found on your favourite broadsheet.

To get a better idea of what I’m talking about check out, Austin Kleon’s book “Blackout Poetry” or http://newspaperblackout.com/ for examples and ideas to inspire you all. The best thing about the website, you can post your own works, and if your lucky (such as my friend and colleague at Uni) Austin may just reblog it himself as a fine example, of just what he wanted to achieve.

But why stop at newspapers. Think of the possibility, every old book you hate, those long-winded Victorian epics that bored you silly, wouldn’t you like to destroy the text and create something, brilliant? A journal, a pamphlet, an old novel, a horoscope… The opportunities are endless. Suddenly every word ever written can be recreated, redesigned, reinvented, recreated.

We always say how can you write something new when everything’s been written once before? Well… start with the stuff that has been done, and find your own magic within…

If we ever needed encouragement…

We all have days, days when we want to give up, days when we can’t see any point, days when we take yet another knock and think, is it all worth it? It doesn’t matter if it’s at work, if its home life, it’s a hobby, or an interest. Whether its something we’ve just started like that new gym regime, or something we’ve been doing for ages – trying to see ourselves better. Some days it’s a little bit too much effort.

Well, if there ever was a story to inspire, it comes once again in my beloved Mr Murray, who after his Wimbledon defeat, myself and the English Nation poured their hearts out for. A dream whipped away by the greatest man in tennis. We all said, how do you bounce back? How can you overcome something that took so much emotional strength from you, and so much passion to reach in the first place.

By winning, in straight 3 sets, 28 days later, beating the same man, on the same court, and take home a gold medal. It was never going to be an easy task but a glimmer of hope, a window of opportunity opened  and Andy took it. Maybe it was a grudge match, made it was revenge, maybe it was to prove himself but prove he did. The same emotional, shaky and unsure Andy had disappeared. A new man stood in front of us all.

Calm, collected, full of composure and relaxed. He played the best tennis of his life, he threaded the needle down the line more times than we’d ever seen, his shots were sublime, his speed and reaction as fast as ever, and Federer looked, well tired. It’s not to say that he wasn’t, that he wasn’t himself having an off day, but Murray took advantage.

He showed that in loss there is not defeat. That with hard work, with self belief and courage, you can bounce back and achieve whatever you wish. He won, the biggest match of his life, in perfect form and made us all realise, we need not give up on our dreams.

Rutherford, who went on to win a gold medal in the long jump, after defeat in Beijing, nearly gave up, nearly quit his sport and retired for good. How he would have kicked himself. He wouldn’t have realised his potential, wouldn’t have realised his dreams, and accepted his place as Olympic Champion. It would have been easier, to accept and to give up, but with more time, harder work, and the same support – just shows what can be achieved.

We need not give up on things we feel passionate about, when the boat gets rocked and a storm brews, when life seems to throw hurdle and hail storm, it may knock you down but it wont break you. For me, it was another time to realise that despite life’s woes there are so many things to be happy about, so much to look forward to, so much to strive for – so much more to achieve.

We’ll all have our break, it might not be in sporting history in front of 15,000 people, but we all have our moments, our chance to shine, our spotlights, surrounded by our fans – our families, our friends, our partners – ready to celebrate with us. Whatever your back breaker is, lets not give up just yet, because in a months time, your life could have changed completely.