The Go to Girl

I’m not saying this to boast, or to sound like I know everything, I know very little about anything and things I do know i’m limited on. Like everyone I speak from experience and musing only, that is all we have to go on, things we know, and what we think we think about the things we don’t. Apparently, I’m ok at it. I’m everyone’s go to girl,

Now when I say everyone, I do mean, everyone. Family, friends, Uni friends, best friends, family members friends, people I don’t really know that well at all – acquaintances we’ll call them. I don’t know what it is but apparently I seem to be able to hit the nail on the head. What that means is I guess up to the person who’s asking for the advice, but alot of the time it comes down to, getting how they feel and what they want.

Well, everyone can give advice lets me fair, but everyone can also give bad advice, or off the cuff advice – ill thought out or barely thought about at all. My advice is simple, and it comes from reading people. I spend a lot of time observing human behaviour. That sound odd, i’m not David attenborough for mankind but I do people watch – incessantly. With a coffee, out for a walk, in lectures… Its amazing what you pick up on. I think this helps to relate to people, we all have the same problems, the same insecurities, and if they seem different, underneath everything it’ll be something we’ve felt ourselves.

Advice isn;t about mere reassurance, it’s about practical home truths, not being harsh for harshness sake but being truthful and fair. Example, if a friend is fretting about losing her partner and she can’t see what she’s done, let her talk ask some questions and low and behold she probably did do something. So don’t say, you idiot, but say, do you think maybe he was feeling… yada yada yada. In hearing something that they maybe don’t want to admit to themselves, they’ll have a moment of realisation. Its not to go grovelling back, but its about accepting whats happened, finding whats upsetting you and moving on from it.

Most strife, worry and angst, comes because people don’t know what they are feeling or what the root cause of the issue is, when they find it, suddenly everything falls into place, and that’s usually my bit. The second important bit. Share. I always talk about my own life, I put it into context. As I’ve said before my life has had far too much drama for its age, I’ve had a lifetimes worth of angst in a short twenty something years, even my counsellors concur, so its important to make the person feel you understand. if its relationships, share a similar situation, friends, talk about that friendship  that broke down and still causes you hurt, but. Do not make it about you.

You are there for the person not to run off into your own woes and thoughts. It’s easily done, its my mums advice, she’ll say this is like, and half an hour later we’re still talking about my mum and her problems and I’m consoling her. Keep sharing relevant and make sure you relate it back to them with a helpful tip, how you got over it, how you came to realise, what you did, what you didn’t do, what. ever.

I enjoy being the go to girl. A lot of my friends i’m the sole person they can or will talk to about difficult things, and that makes you realise you really are treasured. It shows you taht your not just a fair weather friend and that your mates value your opinions and advice. I’m nicknamed wise owl in my group. I don’t think i’m wise at all, older than my years possibly, and to someone who’s young for their age, maybe we’re poles apart, but. I’m understanding, I listen, I observe and I care. Thats the clincher. If you care, you listen, if you listen you learn, you understand, you can relate better, you can advise better. You keeping making mistakes, you hear about other peoples, you learn from both and grow in emotional maturity.

People have rung me from South Africa when something’s gone wrong to talk to me, people have text me from Australia, Tokyo, Sweden… I get calls at 2 am, 4 am, at work and when I’m on the phone consoling someone else, and every time I’m there. Because that’s what being a friend is, putting the other person first when they need it, being their regardless, selflessly, because you genuinely care.

I’m told daily I should be an agony aunt, a counsellor, a sex therapist, a carer. Well, I think if I’m honest, I’m playing all of them already.

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.

Not a self promoter.

Now I’m not one for boasting, bragging or bigging oneself up… it would seem I’m not really a fan of words that begin with B, apart from… boobs, belles, boys, bits, bums… We can see what I have on my mind. Anyways, I don’t think it’s necessary or very becoming from a young lady, such as myself. To be honest, it’s not great in anyone. There’s confidence, there’s being proud of an achievement, then there’s arrogance and rubbing people’s faces in your success – it’s a fine line to tread.

I’m not one for self promotion. I don’t wish to attract that much attention to myself. I am confident in my own skin, I know me, what I like, what I don’t, and if I don’t or am unsure, I’ll spend a few hours debating it in my mind, and possibly sharing it with you. But. There are things I know I am good at, and there are things I know I excel. We all know our own strengths as well as our own weaknesses but I tend to focus more on what I enjoy, more than what I think I may be good at.

As far as I am aware, I think its fairly dangerous to trust your own opinion of yourself. Know yourself, like yourself be proud of yourself, but don’t think you know it all, after all, we lie to ourselves all the time. We lie to others about ourselves, we are in effect our best friend and our own worst enemies, for quite those reasons. Always out to protect but also to blind. So well, I thought I’d do something very random, because I am random and I feel like it.

I’m going to share some things with you. What they will be are things I like, things that interest me, things I love, and they’ll be relevant. To me, to you, to something you like, a common interest, to someone you know, or to knowing where I’m coming from when you hear my ramblings a little more.

I’m an English student. I spend most of my days with my head in a book, thinking about a book, reading a book about a book or thinking about what I’m not reading. I spend time exploring history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, epistemology, literary theory, I’m an overthinker by trade, probably why I spend such a long time looking into things on a microscopic level, I’m a lover of analysis – whether its of a page, a character, a period, a psyche, or just my muddled and cuffudled brain.

I’m a TEFL qualified teacher, so I mould the brains of non English speaking students, which is ironic seeing as I seem to pay very little attention to grammar, punctuation spelling, or even whether the word I use actually exists in my own personal life. I enjoy teaching, love teaching, I find it the most interesting and fascinating thing to do. Its inspiring, rewarding, challenging, had work and fun, and they are all the reasons I love doing so.

I’m a writer of erotica. Don’t get too excited, I’m not published (well in an anthology, somewhere… not big time, published) I have a blog, I write sex as sex should be, raw, passionate and without too much soppiness and character. Its all about release and self expression. its another side of me to this one, a more primitive, raw, randy side agreed, but a side I embrace all the same.

I’ve started a music blog, because I’ve realised I listen to a lot of obscure stuff, that people seem to be very interested in when it comes up. I mention people nobody has ever heard of and that have less than 1000 followers on Facebook. I like finding odd little artists and songs, searching for something new to my ear, to prick the hairs on the back of my neck and make me stop and listen. And as I love sharing, well why not share that too, seems selfish to keep all my little musical treasurers to myself.

I write for my University online publication, infact, I’m under interview for Editor in Chief. I’ve been in print issues, and my writing is journalistic, from news to current affairs, reviews and previews, entertainment to fashion, politics to columnist pieces. I enjoy all sorts of writing. I think words are the most powerful tool, and weapon at our disposal, and I’m rather a fan of playing with them.

Now. I know that all this sounds like a bit of a boast, that I’m trying to show off, say how well I write, how many different things I can throw my hand at, how busy I am. Its not. I’m not a great writer, I enjoy it, there are certainly better out there. I’m a fan of commas and long sentences, using the ‘three’ in description and prescribing to clichés when I feel like it. I write colloquially, without thought, or point. I ramble, I jump about, I even forget the point I started with and end up somewhere completely different – not a to b, more… j to r (if you follow my meaning).

I’m simply saying it because, well I thought you might like to get to know me. Maybe you might want to read something completely different and fancy my other blogs, perhaps I felt like divulging, or maybe I felt like taking stock of what I do do. I think I may have my fingers in two many pies to do any properly or to the level I truly wish to. I’ve neglected my blogs of late with life’s general hiccups as it is, let alone kept on top of everything else, but as long as their a pleasure and not a chore, I’ll keep doing them. Thats what life’s about isn’t it. Sharing. Doing things you love. Talking to one and other.

Do I follow you, do you have another blog I should be checking out? – post it. If I’m not writing I’m reading something, editing work for the paper, books for University, marking for students homework or an album review. Might even be the back of my cereal box. If you fancy some music, or erotica – ask. If you want to know something else –  ask. If you want to chat – talk. I am, as they say, all ears. I fancy sharing, so lets here something about you.

What do you do, what do you like?

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…

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.

For all those lost loves…

For all those past loves we have to move on from, we have to let go but we will, always at some point – Love. There is always someone in your life that changes it in a way that you will never forget, one person that takes a little bit of you away with them forever. We have to move on but we have to remember, the good times, the laughs – the honesty of Love.

Golden, golden, golden river run
to the East then drop beneath the sun
and as the moon lies low and overhead
we’re lost

Burn slow, burning up the back wall
long roads, where the city meets the sky
most days, most days stay the sole same
please stay, for this fear it will not die

If I had a boat, I would sail to you
hold you in my arms, ask you to be true
once I had a dream, it died long before
now I’m pointed north, hoping for the shore

Down low, down amongst the thorn rows
weeds grow, through the lilies and the vine
birds play, try to find their own way
soft clay, on your feet and under mine

splitting at the seams
heaving at the brace
sheets all billowing
breaking of the day
sea is not my friend
and everyone conspires
still I choose to swim
slip beneath the tide

once I had a dream
once I had a hope
that was yesterday
not so long ago
this is not the end
this is just the world
such a foolish thing
such an honest girl

You could write a book…

How many times is that bantared around? Anyone with a half creative brain, anyone studying English, anyone have ever had an english lesson, everyone thinks could be a writer. It’s mentioned like, going shopping or popping to the gym or losing a few pounds.

No. simply no. We cannot all write novels. We are not all gifted enough, it’s a skill, yes everyone can write to a degree, everyone can put across their voice, can write a little bit of a prose, can write things that their friends will gush over, but as in, getting a publishing contract and hundreds of sales, enough to live?

No. I didn’t take the creative writing modules at Uni for the simple reason, that I couldn’t handle, hearing people every seminar saying, I’m writing my second book, this is an excerpt from my first novel, I’m currently finishing off my first paperback… instead I had to listen to everyone bitching about it. Yes there are a lot of authors out there, but compared to the number of people actually living in a  country or in the world? It’s a TINY percentage and it’s getting harder, with funding limited and publishers not so keen to print.

Oh yeah, anyone can self publish, but that isn’t quite the same thing is it? The same sense of achievement, the same sort of, book deal that everyone (it seems) craves. I’m sorry to sound like a heartless woman, damning everyone’s hopes and dreams of literary success, I’m just a realist. I would love to be a writer, a full-time erotic fiction writer…

Oh yes, that’s the other half of my brain, spent delving into dark corners and crevices of passionate embraces and sexy encounters. I would love, adore, to be that good, to give up the day job, teaching and to just write, to do product reviews and enjoy my dark side. But it isn’t going to happen. I don’t write fiction, I write erotic tales, there’s no romance,  no plot, it’s just sex and that’s what I love – and it wouldn’t sell.

I hate this culture of everyone being an author. celebrities bringing out books by the week. Do you actually think they write them? Not some poor twit that can’t make it and is hoping that one day they’ll be recognised by their amazing skills in putting across Katie Price’s life story, and writing something rewarding.

I have an unbelievable amount of respect for writers, for authors and for publishers. The hours writers spend on their own, immersed in their own thoughts, in a story, trawling over sentences and syntax, and trying to get it, just right. Publishers, for the tine and commitment in reading, re reading, editing, making sure we get the very best novel from an author that they can. Its gruelling – it’s not an easy job. What if it doesn’t sell, what if your ill and behind on a deadline, what if you can’t pay your rent, what if you realise, you weren’t that good?

I am not disillusioned, but I am respectfully envious, not of their success, not of their lifestyle, but of their ability, that they have found their niche, and a skill that many of us just simply don’t have. Well, I guess that concludes my rant. Maybe one day we’ll all have a book, maybe we’ll all write about our lives and keep it hidden for eyes one day to see, maybe we’ll call it a diary or something…

Rediscovering your past love…

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For once I am not referring to men, or women. No I’m talking about hobbies and those things we used to love doing, yet somehow no longer have the time too. I’ve many, we all have, things in our past that we were almost obsessed with at the time. I danced, nearly gave up school for dance school at 11, swam for my county, amateur dramatics – performances, singing, dancing the whole she-bang (nearly drama school instead of Uni)… I played cards, was an avid poker fan, read for fun before Uni got in the way, played Badminton, Rock climbed…. and of course, the crux of and purpose of my post.

Played the piano. Since returning home for the summer and getting to play as much as I want, having a piano back has been quite something. I’d forgotten how much I’d missed it, the hours of practising, getting a piece, then playing as though you always could, the sanitation, my hands dancing over the chords and arpeggios, my long nails clicking against the ivories with each note. I couldn’t be any happier when sat at my piano for hours.

I get wrist cramp, I swear, I get up make a cuppa in a mood only to return with a “right you bastard” as I stare out the music, the notes, the staves tormenting me. It’s a love hate relationship and I love every minute of it. It’s not that I’m amazing, I gave up lessons after my grade 5 exam, not wanting to put myself through the torment of a theory exam, which now… you could say seems pointless but never mind, Oh! to be young and headstrong. But what does make the difference…

Its my passion. Its something I will always enjoy doing. I rarely play for others, I find it unnerving, I’m happy playing in the hall and if people can hear well then I hope they enjoy. But I play for me. For the personal accomplishment, for my own pleasure, for the satisfaction of completing something. There are rare moments in life when we can literally acknowledge progress, doing well. We work hard at work and feel like we’ve made headway but there’s no proof, maybe a smaller pile of papers, we cultivate friendships, but there’s no pat on the back, there’s just another name in a phone book and maybe an occasional text… That’s pessimistic I realise. But playing the piano for me is progress and accomplishment personified.

I can see me having learnt, I can feel the change and the growth in my playing, in my repertoire, in my mood. I have a favourite composer, I will save the details for a later blog but I determined to learn all of his work. I know that seems somewhat daft and copycat. I have no desire to learn or write my own music, it’s not one of my talents, I know that already, but what I do know is I love his pieces, I like playing them, the way they feel, the running notes, the epic crescendo’s, the softness…

So, this post really only has one message, as ever as a conclusion. What’s your passion? Go find something you loved doing, and do it. Whether it was a squash game with buddies every week, or a bath that you no longer get time to take, or swimming … or anything. Rediscover it, explore it, enjoy it. We only live once and life’s far to full of the un-fun stuff. Its time reclaimed the things we do love.