H O M E .      A B O U T .      C O N T A C T .      T U M B L R .      T H E   B O O K   J O U R N A L .      sailorjennie [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

To inspirational women everywhere, from me, today, on International Women's Day.


To my Mother who has taught me that, sometimes, the bravery and strength you need to make a change comes with time, but that it's likely that whenever you do take the leap, whatever it is will always be a cocktail of messy and complicated difficulties inside of which is the empowering freedom you have deserved from the very beginning.

To my Grandmother who refused to stop until I believed that, whatever you want to do, it isn't ever too late to start. And I do believe, wholeheartedly. Even though she is no longer here, she was one of the driving forces for me to go back to University and study for my Masters. I'm doing it mostly for me, but also partly for her.

To J.K Rowling for introducing me to Hermione, and Luna, and Ginny, and Minerva, and Molly over a decade ago. Their fierce bravery, unapologetic thirst for knowledge, pure nerve and intense love have stayed with me, and a part of each of them will exist within me for the rest of my days.

To Sue, one of my undergraduate lecturers who taught me to focus on studying for the pure joy and magic the very act inherently possesses, and not for the grade or result that inevitably comes at the end.

To Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Zadie Smith, and Olivia Laing, and Margaret Atwood, and Sylvia Plath, and bell hooks, and Juno Dawson, and Ava Duvernay, and Adele, and Virginia Woolf, and Kate Tempest, and Ali Smith, and Florence Welch, and Patti Smith, and Sarah Kay, and Laura Dockrill, and Susan Sontag, and Sarah Waters, and Lorde, and Daphne du Maurier, and Eleanor Catton, and Katherine Mansfield, and Toni Morrison, and Eimear McBride, and so many other incredible storytellers with powerful, gentle and fierce voices.

To Bee, and Carly, and Laila, and Josie, and Ria, and Sophie, and Dianne who inspire me in more ways than they could ever imagine.

To every single woman. You are strong, and powerful, and wise, and brave, and gentle, and magical, and loved, and worthy, even if, in this moment, you don't believe that you are. You are. You are. You are. For always.

xo

Friday, 3 March 2017

That Green Light.


I'm waiting for it / that green light / I want it. 

For the best part of two decades I've spent a lot of time considering mortality, specifically my own, and there isn’t really any way to say that in a way that isn’t obtusely frank. I don’t know whether there is anything after this, or whether the end really is the end. Moving on to somewhere wildly different, coming back in some other form, or slipping into the warm embrace of an endless silence. An eternal sleep as reward for navigating this messy, complex, beautiful, noisy, overwhelming thing we call life only feels appropriate for those who have had the chance to truly live. And as that is denied to so many, I suppose seeking comfort in an unmoveable belief that there is something more is only natural.

When someone leaves you seek comfort, a signal, a sign that everything is, or will be, alright. And when what you're searching for suddenly becomes clear is it true, merely coincidence, or simply a particular interpretation of something that would have happened regardless through the lens of heightened perception in response to the finality of loss? Who am I to say, really? Because it could be one, the other, or both. And, you know, I don’t even really think the minute details are always of the greatest importance.

But I do know that life is too short and too damn precious to accept that your circumstances are unyielding, immovable, or that feelings of hopelessness will endure above all others. Because you deserve more than that. You have always deserved more than that.

If I've learnt anything this year, so far, it's that it is now strikingly apparent that I haven’t given enough consideration to life. To this moment. To all the moments that have already passed. To the moments that could happen, will happen, and aren’t ever meant to happen. I think of everyone I’ve ever known. Trying to break through the illusions that have formed an opaque cloak over connections I made with people in a time that feels like a lifetime ago to truly see, with new eyes, the connections of now.

I understand now that the eternal search for more will always be fruitless. The power we need to make the changes we want to see are already contained somewhere within us. Sometimes it just takes some time. And it’s frustrating, but it is what it is, I think.

Be the change you need to see.

We are products of everyone we have ever known, every situation we have found ourselves in, and the inner voice we have grown to trust, or doubt, or question. And this means we’re all unique. But we are also the same. We all laugh and cry, hope and thrive, bleed and heal, love and lose. We are also made up of all the things that haven’t happened yet. The difficult, the wondrous, the devastating, the pure moments that are yet to come.

And they will come. Things won't always be the same. And there's beauty in that.

In the end we all had hope, and even though, in that moment, it was no match for the greater force that we will all meet at the very end, we haven’t lost hope. We mustn't lose hope. Because hope is in every sunrise, every shooting star, every breath and heartbeat and tear, it’s in hard work, heartbreak, a smile from a stranger, an embrace from a lover, a dream, a spark, a burning desire.

It’s inside you, even if, at this moment, you fear you’ve misplaced it. It’s there. Right between your light, your talent and your fiercest desires.

And so if you want to, think of this imperfect collection of sentences as your green light. They have been mine.

xo

Friday, 13 January 2017

In and Out

Hello and happy Friday! I'm in a strangely giddy mood and it's probably got something to do with spooky Friday 13th vibes and the glorious full moon that I've been staring at whenever possible this week.

I've got a weekend full of freelance work and essay research ahead, which I'm quite looking forward to and Tropic Skincare gifted me a beautiful box of goodies including a serum that smells like refreshers sweeties, so you know I'll be taking my make up off at the earliest opportunity this evening! What a brilliant day.



- I N -

★ Rewatching snippets of Lizzie McGuire. Oh how I adored Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo when I was younger! I used to wish that I could do my hair and dress exactly like Lizzie everyday, and I've been loving revisiting those early 2000 vibes. 'Why do we have to draw fruit, anyway? I wanna draw *NSYNC!' Iconic.

★ Taking HP quizzes online when I should be sleeping. I'm sure this is totally normal, right? According to this quiz I'm 86% Gryffindor, 64% Ravenclaw, 48% Slytherin, and 42% Hufflepuff. The more you know.

★ Obama surprising Joe Biden by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I'm not crying, you're crying!

★ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We were flicking through the TV channels last night and came across this masterpiece. This used to be (/still is, I'm not really sure what my fave anything is anymore) my favourite film. Kate Winslet's hair in this film is everything. Also that shot where they're laying on the ice. Stunning!

- O U T -

★ Beatrix's bad behaviour at the vet. She showed me up big time by being incredibly wriggly, but I'll let her off because no one likes going to get their vaccinations. She has to go again in two weeks, so that'll be fun... NOT! In the mean time we're practicing being picked up and not flailing around wildly. So far it's not exactly going brilliantly. Can't blame her though, I wouldn't want to be picked up either. She happily hops over to sit on my lap/neck/feet/chest/laptop/ipad etc etc, and that's fine by me.

★ Diet/meal replacement/juice emails that have been hitting my inbox. Stop. I'm not interested. I'll never be interested in stepping foot on to that slippery slope ever again.

xo

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Three For Today.


1. Looking back over the pictures I took at the Harry Potter Studio Tour and concluding that absolutely, unequivocally yes, Dumbledore's office is 100% my ideal aesthetic.

2. Catching up on season two of Undisclosed. I've somehow got over 10 episodes to listen to, and there's something oddly comforting about listening to Rabia, Susan and Colin's voices as I work. And comforting probably isn't the right word considering the nature of the podcast, but I hope you know what I mean.

3. Choosing a new book to start reading this evening. Usually I know exactly which book I want to pick up next, but sometimes it's not quite that easy. I'm convinced The Secret History has infiltrated my mind because it's the book on my unread books shelf that my eye is first drawn to, but I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to it just yet. We'll see.

xo

Monday, 9 January 2017

All clothes should come with pockets.



Fashion isn't my forte and, for the last few years or so, it was something I actively avoided thinking about as much as possible. I was uncomfortable in my own body, my mind tricking my eyes into showing me things that weren't real, or at the very least exaggerating things that were to the point that they became lies. I was too tall, too wide, my legs too short for my height, my hands too large, the number in my clothing indicating its size was too high. Blah blah blah.

And then, last July, I wrote 'I haven't ever been a small person' and it was as though the skies cleared. It suddenly became so obvious to me that even if some of things were, or are, true, my mind was placing too much importance on things that just, to me, really aren't that big of a deal. So what if my hands are large, with long fingers and bitten nails. I mean, you'd think they'd at least be useful for carrying lots of things at once but I'm also quite clumsy and as dropping things is one of my special talents, that's a whole different story. So what if I'm tall, with out of proportion legs and take up a little bit more or a little bit less space than someone else. And it doesn't matter which, out of all the made up numbers that humans have assigned to indicate sizes, is on the label sewn into each piece in my wardrobe. They're all bloody different anyway.


Anyway, I'm only really here today because I bought a new shirt. It's from Nomad's Clothing, one of my favourite brands, and not only is it incredibly comfortable and one of the only pieces in my wardrobe that isn't black, it has real life POCKETS! And the best part is they're not ridiculously small to the point when they become unusable; I can actually put things inside them!!

The vibe I think I'm going to aim for when styling (haha I sound as if I know what I'm doing!) this shirt is slightly witchy, off-duty art teacher. I'll let you know how it goes! ;)

xo

Saturday, 7 January 2017

In & Out.

Hello! Happy weekend, we made it! Although if you're working this weekend, I'm with you and we've got this!

In a bid to hit the ground running with one of my 2017 goals, I've taken my first selfie of the year. In fact, it's probably the first selfie I've taken in well over a year. And I'm actually really sad about that, because there's a good year or two there that I don't have any photographs at all to look back on. Feeling too low about myself to take any and developing an astute sixth sense for instantly knowing when I may be, inadvertently, captured within someone else's picture.

So, hello. This is me at the start of 2017.


- I N - 

★ HP.  Fantastic Beasts, Hogwarts in the Snow and watching all eight Harry Potter films over Christmas has reignited my love of everything magical. Although, let's be honest, it's not as if that love ever really went away. If I hadn't just paid my tax bill (picture that money flying away emoji here) I'd probably be snuggling down in this Gryffindor Quidditch Team Jumper that I'd only change out of so I could put this Gryffindor Sweatshirt on, although I must admit that the Ravenclaw and Slytherin versions of that sweater look much nicer.

★ London Grammar. After absolutely adoring their last album, pretty much having it on repeat for months, the prospect of new music was something I was eagerly anticipating. Their new song, Rooting For You, punched me right in the heart, in the best possible way.

★ Michelle Obama's farewell speech. What. A. Woman.

★ Books, books, books. Reading two books and finishing another means I've started the year as I mean to go on, reading wise. Not only did I not read as much as I wanted to last year, I also didn't read many books that have stayed with me. You know, the kind of stories that linger in the background, jumping to the forefront of your mind six months after you turned their final page. My only goal this year is to seek out more of those lingering stories, no numerical target, just plenty of reading for the pure joy of it.

★ Raspberry jelly. If I'd have had ice cream in the freezer (vanilla almond dream, in case you were wondering!) you bet I'd have gone full on children's birthday party in the 90's with a bowl of jelly and ice cream, but I'd forgotten how much I bloody love jelly!

- O U T - 

★ Sofa adverts.  Why are there so many of them?! Why?!

★ Vet appointments. I'm going to book Beatrix in to get spayed soon and I'm already dreading the morning I have to drop her off. I'm sure they're going to take really good care of her, but that is certainly not going to be a good day for me. I'm not generally much of a worrier, but this situation is definitely bringing that part of my personality to the surface.

And so, that was the first week of 2017. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and here's to the next one!

xo

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Loose leaf, rice milk, one sugar.

Written in collaboration with Rice Dream


"You don't like tea? What do you mean you don't like tea?" Came the question fired at me in a sharp, slightly alarmed tone from someone sitting, hands cupped firmly around their fourth cup of the day.
"Well, I don't like most tea." I offer as a placatory reply.
"It's the one thing in life I'm ridiculously choosy about..." I continue.

You see, sitting down with a cup of tea is something I only ever do with my mother. One of the true loves of my life. We've done it for years, I suppose, sitting in the kitchen over a plate of biscuits and getting lost in a deep conversation, but it has become more of a regular occurrence since we both decided to make the move to a dairy free lifestyle sometime last year.

Dairy free milk, we have both learned, relies on little bit of experimentation. Rice, almond, coconut, oat, cashew; the varieties are almost endless. Some I like in hot drinks, others only in oats, although this is admittedly a rare occurrence as I'm more of a toast and jam kind of person, and some I drink straight from the fridge before bed because I'm old now, so that's a thing that I do.

I think it's perfectly possible to find one that does it all, but there will always be one that works especially well for one particular thing. Rice milk in tea, well, in hot things in general really, is probably unbeatable. Tea, hot chocolate, oats, that really great dairy free cheese sauce that you only need to add milk to and heat up and you've got a sauce that tastes pretty bloody good with pasta and mushrooms in about ten minutes - oh my gosh I know what I'm having for dinner tonight! - you get the idea. And I'm not exactly sure why it's so good in hot things, but it doesn't overwhelm other flavours and so it just, well, it just is good.

Rice Dream are so confident in their product that they're currently running a try me for free campaign on 120,000 cartons so if you aren't completely satisfied, they'll give you your money back (just look out for the try me for free logo!).

Anyway, if you'll excuse me I've got a date with a bowl of cheesy pasta...

xo

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Infinitesimal.





adjective 

1. Extremely small
synonyms: minute, tiny, minuscule,
antonyms: huge

Origin
mid 17th century: from Latin infinitus

Life is made up of a series of moments. (Of course. I've picked up a habit for stating the obvious in every opening sentence of everything I write. Bear with me.) Not every moment will be good nor bad and some simply won't be much of anything at all. Actively celebrating or even just taking the time to acknowledge the small things may be the ultimate cliché, but it's one that is so valuable and so intrinsically intertwined with contentment that after a year or so of feeling very little, I appreciate the almost physical act of noticing small things and transforming that into an actual physical act of writing them down more than ever before. Sometimes these lists end up appearing a little silly at first, but how can moments of pure contentment ever be silly? They can't, but even if they were silly, I don't think it matters. And sometimes I find that I don't have even have the correct combination of words to describe them, which makes me want to become a better writer. And I can't do that without being open to the possibility of experiencing those moments in the first place.


A list of things that seem infinitesimal, but are actually much, much bigger on the inside...

★ Cuddles with Beatrix.

★ New pyjamas.

★ Reading my first Val McDermid novel.

★ Exceedingly kind words about my writing; you make me feel as though I'm not alone and there are few things more magical than that.

★ Whenever I walk past a particular house down the street when the sun has gone down, there's always a cat looking out of the upstairs window having snuck under the net curtains. I think he may be the nosiest cat in the neighbourhood.

★ There's something in my house that reminds me of my grandmother. I must have bought a soap or toothpaste or something that she used to use. I can't quite place it, or maybe I'm misremembering altogether, but it's comforting nevertheless.

xo

N.B. Word of the week #1 (the start of a series that probably won't be weekly, but we'll see how it goes)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Dear 2017.


There are extraordinary things to be found within otherwise seemingly ordinary things. In those quiet moments when it may seem like nothing is happening, but the consistent whirring of new ideas and old memories within us is something that won't cease if we don't let it. How those simple gestures, like saying 'hello, how are you?', can mean so much. In understanding that every second is a gift, but that not every second will be easy to endure, and how that's okay because soon they will, once again, feel easier. How after finding those things that make your heart sing, it's even more important to hold on to them tightly because even though you can't dedicate every waking second to them, they make those hours spent doing things you have to do, but don't necessarily want do to, more bearable. And everyone has to do things they don't want to sometimes.

This moment here, right now, is the first time in a long time I have felt as though I don't want or need to change, and this is curious because I probably haven't been this depressed for over ten years and during that period of time, well, I would have done anything to change almost absolutely everything. And I don't mean this to sound as flippant as it probably does, but sometimes being a little bit flippant about some of the things inside my head is one of the only ways to get by, you know? But I think I need to feel like this sometimes, and to work through it in a way that I only I can, and to process things in ways that make sense to me even if they don't to anyone else. It's no secret that I live inside my own head a lot, but I think that's okay as long as I remember to not shut the world out completely. And this is where mustering the courage to break out of my shell to forge new connections is so important. I may be the Queen of acquaintances, but don't think I really know how to make friends anymore and I'd like to relearn how to do that.


You, 2017, are going to be my year of stories. Both real and not; old and new; meandering and brief. I want to voraciously inhale new stories, revisit old favourites and take time to ponder over each of them before moving on to the next. Because this isn't about reaching a target or meeting a challenge, that arbitrary number I've previously plucked from thin air at the start of the year. It's more than that. It should always have been more than that. I promise to be present, not scrolling twitter whilst watching a film; to lay down and do nothing but absorb the words floating from my record player; to light a candle and lose an afternoon within the pages of a book without feeling as though I should be doing something else. These moments will be little luxuries, but they're also infinitely more valuable than words can adequately express.

I will also (maybe, probably, at least some of the time)...
★ Be generous with my time.
★ Treasure my MA experience, and really invest the time into working through those concepts that currently feel impenetrable.
★ Listen to more music that means something to me.
★ Remember that this is a lo-fi space and iPhone snaps are fine. In fact, they're more than fine.
★ Read as much as possible, wherever and whenever there is a pocket of time there to take advantage of.
★ Go to the theatre, because there are stories to be heard there too.
★ Take more selfies and print more snapshots because I might want to remember what I looked like at this age, in ten or so years from now.
★ Save £1000, for no particular reason other than to prove to myself that I can do something when I set my mind to it.


Of course I can't possibly know what you have in store, 2017.
But my mind feels the clearest it has been in weeks.
And I'm proud that I can say, I am here.
I am present. And I am ready.

xo