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, 1 November 2017

Dear November

Lately I have been sending all blog-related emails directly to the metaphorical shredder without even pausing to open them. It was just by chance that I saw the renewal email for this domain and for the first time ever, I paused to question whether this was something else I would purposely run away from this year. After spending the best part of nine months actively turning away from commitments and responsibilities that don't stir something in my soul in a way that I have yet to find adequate words to explain, I'd say I'm pretty much at expert level. Maybe I took the fact I even saw the renewal email at all as some sort of sign. That's probably not true. I don't know. I've sort of stopped looking for signs, instead just doing things that feel right in the moment because if this year has taught me anything, it's that none of us can ever know how many moments we have left. Maybe I'm just being reckless by denouncing the concept of regret altogether, I don't know. But I think when a new perspective or way of living life feels right, it's probably best to just go with it and see what happens.

Regardless, here we are.



Hello. Hi. So, I am probably the most depressed I have ever been, if it's really possible to quantify such a thing, which sounds flippant but I think it has to, otherwise it feels too heavy to carry, you know? Somewhat confusingly I am also currently probably the most academically fulfilled I have ever been. Are the two related? I hope not, but they probably are a little bit. Escaping into gender theory has been an outlet and I've developed a bit of a passion for championing women in literature who still get a lot of unnecessary flack from old middle-class white guys. And I'm still doing some freelance writing here and there, which is really great despite never feeling as though anything I write is ever quite perfect.

As for other things, well, I've been drinking a lot of Alpro coconut chocolate milk. That stuff is A+. Glossier lured me in with their pared-down approach to makeup and it's already love. I've been listening to a lot of Lorde (yep, I still cry every single time Hard Feelings/Loveless plays) and I've just rediscovered my love for Sons of an Illustrious Father. Fave tracks at the moment are Loveletting and Armageddon. I got a new tattoo and as soon as I find the last bit of courage needed to deal with the pain I'm pretty sure I'm going all in for a large-scale something on my chest soonish. I've been rewatching all the episodes of Raising Dad I can find on YouTube. And I was pretty into that vampire filter on Instagram for Hallowe'en. I can't do make up, but if I could I'd be tempted to make that my new look.



As always, I don't really know what this is. But, I suppose, it is what it is, whatever it is.

We can do brave things, together.

See you soon.
xo

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Perception of Unimportance, the Danger of Comfort, and the Elevation of Thinkers

There is so much going on, in our own private spheres and outside of them, resulting in a culture of finding it almost too easy to dismiss the minutiae as unimportant, irrelevant, or pointless, even. But it isn't. If something matters to you, it matters. If you need to write it down, you should. Even if it sounds silly. No, especially if it sounds silly. There is a power to writing things down that cannot be replicated in any other form, so often providing the perspective we need to process and to properly digest whatever it is that has been stumbling around our minds.



My mother has a photograph of me, I must be about 5 or so, wearing a silly white sunhat and grinning gleefully surrounded by the tiny buildings of what I think must be Wimborne Model Town. It's a photograph I can't look at for too long because there's something very disconcerting about it. Photographs are already split seconds in time that can't ever be relived, and seeing myself then surrounded by a model village trapped in its own time warp is, strange. The perfectly manicured greenery, the beautifully maintained facades. It's very Stepford. Very empty.

These thoughts were prompted by an article in The Paris Review entitled The Model-Village Preservation Society, although it's something I have thought about a lot since moving to a small village in the midlands that isn't even remotely picturesque. I would be purveying a distinct untruth if I said this place feels like home, not because it's not picture perfect, but because it feels a little bit like living in a time warp. No one would rush to make a model of this village, but the absence of diversity, the questionable views now aired somewhat more freely following the abomination that is Brexit, the desire to hold on to a past which, although is seemingly etched in so many memories, probably didn't ever really exist.



Consequently I am reminded that comfort can be a dangerous thing, especially when it is at the expense of development and of acceptance. There is a dignity in change that largely disappears in the stubborn longing to hold on to something that wasn't ever real. Not really, at least. And there is a sadness in choosing not to open a door that can lead to something more, in the name of protection or preservation. Because what is really being preserved and why is it more important than progression?

In his diaries John Quincy Adams berated himself for his ignorance of things he felt he already should have known, but there is undoubtedly a beauty in seeking out knowledge even if, in that moment, we think it's something we should already have known or we aren't quite sure what to do with it, or quite what to make of it. The older I get the more I believe that the refusal to form an opinion on everything is a profound act of self care, but the refusal to contribute to the elevation of the voices of thinkers, particularly marginalised voices, is, essentially, the exact opposite. Steinbeck's dairies are a reminder that even the most accomplished writers and thinkers can be plagued with uncertainty, and this doubt, this profound challenge must only be magnified by the wildly uneven playing field which writers of colour, LGBTQ, and feminist voices still face.

And so while I could detail that during the rest of the month of August I would like to complete the reading for my next assignment (on Milton's Paradise Lost and Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, if you were curious), to stop slacking on my skincare routine, and to visit Newstead Abbey, instead I want to remember that while it may seem small, or pointless even, not to ever underestimate the power of a single comment, share, or retweet.

After all, even the smallest things shouldn't ever be overlooked.

xo

     
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Monday, 14 August 2017

Ink, Fluorescence & Fog


F L U O R E S C E N C E   A N D   F O G

Hello and thank you for joining me amongst these digital cobwebs and layers of dust so thick you can  so clearly write your name in. This blank page feels like a challenge and so I suppose it finally feels as though my urge, although perhaps need is a more accurate word, to write here is beginning to return. I have already written and rewritten these words countless times. This tentativeness and uncertainty comes from the knowledge that blogging now is very much about consistency and niches, metrics and optimisation, numbers and professional imagery, all of which are both legitimate and understandable in their own ways. However, I also know that I simply do not possess either the talent, the energy, nor, in all honesty, the desire to compete at that level. And I finally, truly, think that's okay. It's okay if nobody reads. It's okay if this is just me, rattling around between these margins. It's peaceful and safe. And after all, it is what it once was, in the beginning.

Feeling things, really feeling things, sometimes isn't so easy, you know? And sometimes feeling things comes a little too easily. Too quick to process, too confusing to comprehend in that moment. Sometimes this means revelling in those fluorescent moments and other times it means figuring out how to fight through the fog. In the past I have been told these kinds of writings are too 'woe is me' and while that was never even anywhere close to my intention, I see now that I simply didn't have the right words then. I didn't have the ability to compose sentences that accurately represented the physical act of progressing through the motions of simply trying to figure things out. And, honestly, I'm not sure that has changed. But we're all doing it. Every day. We all have things. Thoughts. Difficulties. Stuff. Although I'm not sure it's quite true that nobody knows what they're doing, I do know that I don't. I also know that I'm okay with it because perpetual uncertainty seems to inherently be part of who I am and a lot of the time it's pretty rad not really knowing what's going to happen. And so although putting such an ethereal state of feeling into words, into tangible sentences and paragraphs is really fucking difficult, it feels... time? Like, it's time to write this stuff down properly. It might be the right thing to do and it might not be, but the same can be said for a lot of things.

So, here I am. This, lo-fi and imperfect, can't ever be everything, but it won't be a supercut.



M E L O D R A M A

It is probably unsurprising to learn that I'm still listening to Melodrama. On repeat. Quite frankly I'm relieved this love affair isn't over yet because I'm nowhere close to being ready to let go. Every time I listen my body seems to find a new line to spontaneously burst into tears to which, I think, is both testament to Ella's talent but also to my own ability to hold on to something so allusive that I clearly need to work through. Or at least pinpoint.

Current Melodrama favourites:
 Writer in the Dark
 Liability (Reprise)
 Perfect Places

L U S T   F O R   L I F E

Lana's work always seems to present itself to me as a bit of an enigma and it's something I cherish, wholeheartedly. I would be lying if I said I didn't appreciate almost every form of instant gratification, but there's something distinctly alluring about being encouraged to pause and to really mull things over. It may always take a few listens but as soon as I begin to get it, everything unfurls and I'm immersed in a distinct blanket of nostalgia and haze. Sometimes I think the best way to listen is after dark, with headphones and tucked underneath your favourite blankets. Lust for Life, at least to me, is glassy and syrupy, melancholy and sultry. And that description relies too much on cliches that don't even begin to accurately capture Lana's unique way of seeing, but it's all I've got right now.

Lust For Life favourites:
 13 Beaches
 Cherry
 Beautiful People Beautiful Problems

'It's never too late to be who you want to be, to say what you want to say.'

I N K

After thinking about getting a tattoo for at least a decade, I actually did. Ideas for designs have naturally come and quietly evaporated in that time, however the desire to choose to make a piece of art permanently a part of me has only grown. I keep finding myself starting sentences with "it's mostly not this deep but...", which I think means that, to me, it probably is that deep. It's a cliche but life is short and I think new experiences present the opportunity for us all to understand a little but more about ourselves.

I don't deal in regrets, to the extent that I now try not to even acknowledge the concept. That doesn't stop my methodical decision making process, which is both a blessing and a curse, and I can't shake my tendency to ruminate over things for excessively long periods of time. But while I could have made this decision ten years ago, gone to get that tiny anchor on the side of my wrist that I really wanted and used to think about a lot, I didn't. I'm certain I would have loved it and would still love it, but that almost feels like another life and I honestly have no idea what that version of Jennie would be doing right now. Not that a tiny anchor would have changed really anything at all, but that singular decision probably would have impacted many others.

Regardless, this version of me has experienced this transformative process at a time when, honestly, I think I really needed it. And if needed isn't quite the right word, at a time when I am wholeheartedly open to the process of appreciating everything a single decision can bring.

D R E A M Y

Following advice from my tattoo artist it's now pretty safe to say I'm hooked on Dream Cream from Lush. I haven't really explored Lush very much, but now I'm wondering if I've been missing out? I'm not really one for bath bombs, but their shampoo bars look interesting. If you have any recommendations or favourite Lush products I'd love to know!

S A S S Y   M E R M A I D   M A G I C

I haven't been reading a lot outside my MA, mostly because my time management has been ridiculous, but one of my favourite recent reads has been Aurabel by Laura Dockrill. It's a sort of sequel/companion novel to Lorali, which I read last year, and it's sparkling and smart, fresh and utterly glorious. It's got sassy, super resourceful mermaids aplenty and sometimes that's just what you need, you know?

DT Pouches // DT Coin Purses


D R E A M   T E A M

It's no secret that I'm more than a little bit in love with Dianne Tanner's work and after eyeing up this dreamy pouch for a little while I decided to make it mine. I don't like carrying too much around with me if I can help it, so this is perfect for the essentials and as I've used it every day so far, I think it's probably one of the best purchases I have made all year.

W O R D S

I have taken on some more varied freelance writing projects and although I would be lying if I said it's something I think I'm good at, I am everlastingly grateful for the opportunities and for the knowledge I am gaining in the process. Thinking about the path I'd like to take in the future, I have decided that if it is within my possibilities I would like to pursue a PhD. I really have no idea if it is within my abilities to shape a proposal that is good enough to be accepted, but time will tell. I still have over a year of my MA left, and I think a lot of my questions will be answered in that time.

F U T U R E   I N K

They say tattoos are addictive and I think there's probably quite a lot of truth in that. I'm not naive enough to believe I won't ever have any issues ever again, but I haven't had a single negative thought about my body in a little while and I don't think it's a coincidence that the last time I inspected every inch of myself in the mirror was the day before I got my first tattoo. Since that day I have instead been marvelling at the ability of my body to heal itself and to accept something that I have chosen, in spite of those hours of discomfort the process necessarily required. There's a lesson for my mind in there somewhere and although I'm not quite certain what that is yet, I do know that I look (mostly) the same but I feel so different, which is unexpectedly exhilarating and even more empowering than I ever could have hoped for.

P O S T   P L A Y L I S T :

☾ Perfect Places - Lorde
★ 13 Beaches - Lana Del Rey
☾ Praying - Kesha
★ Goodnight and Go - Imogen Heap
 River Song - A Fine Frenzy

See you soon.

xo

     
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Friday, 16 June 2017

A Birthday, A Garden Centre Adventure, Melodrama, and A Rainbow Cardigan

I'm writing this post in the midst of a mild essay-induced panic in the hopes that it will help me to chill out a bit before I have to begin attempting to cobble together 4000 words that hopefully, at least vaguely, make sense and address how power relations affect the transmission of narratives before my deadline next Thursday. I had been hoping that constructing that sentence would make my task sound a little more achievable, but it's safe to say I'm not confident about this one. We'll see though. As usual, the materials have been super interesting, but the actual essay writing part currently feels like a ridiculously impossible task to complete.




Life feels as though it's been running at a million miles per hour and somewhere amid the chaos we all carved out some time to celebrate my Mam's birthday. Alongside a bottle of her favourite perfume, which was wrapped waaaay better than I ever could (10/10 for Escentual's wrapping service!) I had a brilliant time choosing a stack of books to add to her summer reading list, and locating the silliest card in the shop.

We also received a bottle of SPAR Extra Dry DOC Prosecco and some SPAR Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco as lovely gifts from the brand, both of which were happily received and glasses of which went down very nicely sitting outside in the evening sunshine with slices of cake. We must admit that although we certainly aren't experts, both come very highly recommended from all of us! I think they're both under £12 and so make brilliant gifts, especially if you're planning any summertime get-together's with your loved ones this summer.

There are periods of time where living feels so much heavier, like you're trying to walk when you're knee deep in treacle and you don't really know where you're going. But it's in these moments that setting time aside to be with those people who help you to feel truly yourself in spite of everything is more important than ever. So, say those I love you's, send that text, and make those plans. Even if you think you don't have time. Because you do. And it's all worth it because those moments are what make life wondrous.




Gifts aside, we decided to have a little wander around our local garden centre to choose some plants for some of the beautiful pots my Mam has been collecting for her garden. I have a bit of a soft spot for both potted gardens and garden centres so this trip was basically my dream come true. We found some super cute alpine plants, as well as a collection of fragrant herbs and a stunning lavender plant that looks so glorious in the sunshine. We also got a sweet little bee house that I'm incredibly excited about because we're all well and truly in 'save the bees' mode here!

All that, and I got to forget about the impending doom of my essay for a couple of hours, which is always appreciated!

Sorry about the filter. I'm forever living my best koala life over on Instagram stories. No regrets.

A trip to admire some beautiful blooms seemed like the perfect occasion to wear my new Lazy Oaf cardigan for the first time. As soon as I saw this rainbow beauty, well, it was love at first sight. But, typically, I dithered and before I knew it they were all sold out. Thankfully they decided to restock and as soon as it made its way back on to the website I snapped one up. And oh my goodness. It's everything I had hoped for and more.

Speaking of everything I had hoped for and more, can we just talk about Melodrama for a second? Lorde's second album has been worth the wait and my next post, whenever it appears, is almost certainly going to be a stream of thoughts about how vivid and fierce, euphoric and so bursting with light and life it is. Writer in the Dark, though. Much talent. So wow.

Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark - Lorde

Lots of love,
xo

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

This is the beginning of something.


But we can, and we must do more.

Witnessing so many people using their connections and their platforms, large or small, to engage in political discussions has been one of the most inspiring things I have seen in a very long time. I'm not talking about the unfortunate number of hate-fueled tirades, but instead the hugely positive galvanising of the youth vote that has resulted in one of the most impressive turnarounds during a political campaign to date. I'm talking about queues of young people outside polling stations, engaging in healthy debate, proudly expressing their opinions on the issues that matter to them the most. Politics affects us all, to varying extents and now we've come this far, it's so important to stay engaged.

Practical Steps To Demonstrate Continuing Engagement

1. Email, tweet, phone, send a carrier pigeon, anything it takes to contact your MP to express any concerns you have. You can search for your postcode, constituency or MPs name in this Directory of MPs to find their contact details, or use WriteToThem to get in touch. I can't guarantee you'll receive a reply, I'm still waiting to hear back from my MP, but I think it's becoming increasingly important to make sure your views are known to your representative.

2. Consider donating to or becoming a member of a political party whose policies best reflect your views.

3. Attend peaceful protests and/or sign petitions. The latter can often feel somewhat fruitless, but any way you can make your voice heard on a matter that's important to you is never a waste of time.

4. Follow a range of journalists, political commentators and politicians on Twitter to keep up to date with emerging developments. Immersing yourself in political issues can sometimes feel like being trapped in a dense fog with no idea where to turn, but reading a range of viewpoints will often shed some light on even the most complex of arguments.

Lastly, it's okay to step away sometimes. Political debate can be all-consuming, but don't let it take over. We're all finding ways to do what we can.

And remember there's always hope.

xo

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Some words at a difficult time.




There's something about stepping off the train at Manchester Oxford Road station that somehow always feels like going home. It's not even 9am but people are already exchanging bright 'hellos' and 'how are yous?', genuinely interested in listening to the answers, whatever they may be. I'm no good at small talk but Mancunians always know exactly what to say. Bleary eyed faces making their way into coffee shops for their first cup of liquid energy. Cheery calls of 'good morning' from the booksellers in Blackwell's as I'm scuttling in through the doors just as they open, eager to browse the shelves of inspiration and knowledge.

There's something special about the way the early morning sunshine illuminates the University buildings. A hub of diversity and tolerance, each one filled with students with a desire to absorb knowledge from the very walls of buildings standing tall and proud and welcoming. I listen to stories about eccentric academics who have graced the hallways. I don't study with UoM but I can't seem to still the desire within me to join someday, sometime, somehow.

Every second spent within this very special city teaches me to be more compassionate, more open, and more curious. To live without limits, and to celebrate life. The good parts, the difficult parts and, perhaps most importantly, the seemingly insignificant parts.

Take more photographs, capture more memories. Take note of the way the light falls through a window. The way you felt when you finished your latest book. How the smile on a loved ones face brightens up your whole universe. The birds tweeting, marking the start of a brand new day. Because our new days are not limitless.

Pick your battles. Try not to worry too much about insignificant things. Nourish your body with the food it craves. Nourish your soul with music and film, literature, theatre and laughter. Be brave and reckless. But also try to be safe. Tell someone you love them more than you've ever loved anything before. Film yourself lip synching to your favourite song. Be generous with your time and your heart, but don't you ever forget about yourself. Take a new class; yoga, or piano, or learn a new language.

Chase your dreams, and if you don't know what your dreams are just yet, keep moving forwards until you find them. They're there somewhere, I promise. But they won't come to you. When you find them, never lose sight of them. It won't always be easy and you might feel like giving up, or that you don't deserve to reach them. But you do. Prove you're resilient. You deserve the world.

Let yourself feel, truly feel. It's okay to cry, and scream and shout until your lungs ache and your throat is sore. But then, let things go. Keep moving on, but know not to let go of the really good things. They don't always come around too often. Say yes, but not to everything. Be a fan of things, unapologetically. It's cool to love things, to tend to your passions and celebrate them wholeheartedly. If you love it, it's not silly. It could never be silly. It's perfect.

Stay up all night talking on the phone. Take naps. Sleep under the stars. Run until your lungs burn and your legs refuse to take another step. Say goodbye. Reconnect. Grow. Celebrate change, consistency too. Trace the palm of your loved ones hand with your fingertips. Sit in silence. Dance the night away. Learn how to be your own best friend. Try not to take anyone or anything for granted.

Choose kindness, tolerance, and compassion. And never stop learning.

You are more than you know. More important and valuable and insurmountable.
I just wanted you to know.

xo

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Things That Have Happened

In no particular order, some things that have happened somewhat recently...

★ Booked tickets to the Harry Potter Exhibition at the British Library later this year.

★ Visited Manchester Museum and, of course, bought a chunk of rose quartz to add to my collection.

★ Had a wander around Sheffield. It's only a short train journey away, so I'm really not sure why I hadn't visited before.


★ Beatrix was spayed and I was a ball of worry for the whole morning. It went smoothly but we've had a few bumps in the road during her recovery. She's currently doing really well though, which is a relief as she's the actual light of my life, even when she's chewing holes in all my socks.


★ Bought a gloriously sassy Lazy Oaf dress. 10/10 design. And it's a smock dress. Hello comfort.

★ Discovered that both more than one cup of tea and Almond Dream ice cream make me feel very unwell. No idea why, but apparently that's a thing.


★ Scored a 95 on my second MA paper. Two 95s in a row. I really, genuinely don't know how this is happening. I don't have a particularly impressive undergrad degree so if you, like I was, are considering an MA but aren't sure if it'll be for you - go for it, because you can do it!

★ We very sadly lost someone close, which partially explains the quietness in this space. My words disappeared for a while, which hasn't been easy. Nothing about this has been easy.


★ Scored a perfect 100 on my third MA paper. About Shakespeare's Coriolanus, no less! My tutor told me it reads like a published article which I'm not entirely convinced about. But regardless, I've come back to earth with a bump as my next paper is on Robinson Crusoe. And there's really very little to like about that.


★ Have generally been quietly seething at the state of politics right now.

Developed a mild addiction to Eat Real Sour Cream and Chives Quinoa Chips. Naff branding, but I've really missed sour cream flavoured things since going dairy free and these are excellent.







★ Donated around 100 books to my local charity shop. Aside from theory books that will be useful to my studies and good ol' Harry Potter, I'm still not quite sure exactly what constitutes a book that I feel as though I'd like to hold on to, as I donated more than a few books that I really liked. I don't regret a thing though and I hope that whoever reads them next gets some enjoyment from them too.


★ Discovered a new favourite candle. Paddywax Tobacco and Vanilla is everything.

★ Found a fabulous looking book on Greek myth in a charity shop that I'm looking forward to delving into.


★ Lost a good 20 minutes of my life reading about that Avril Lavigne conspiracy theory.

★ I've been listening to a lot of Lorde. Also pretty into Harry Styles' album, not gonna lie.

★ Finally picked up a copy of The Girls. I've been incredibly curious about it ever since hearing about the enormous advance (you go, girl!) Emma Cline got after a bidding war between publishers and I've somehow managed to avoid spoilers until now. It seems like something that would be perfect for a warm, hazy weekend, so I just need one of those now.


★ I got Beatrix a puppy bed and filled it with hay. It was a huge success for the first few days but, as predicted, she has pretty much completely ignored it for the past week. Think I'm going to have to hide some treats in there to lure her back in.


★ Can we just take a second to appreciate the look on Pickett's face, though?

★ I had a birthday and to celebrate my body gave me a brand new wrinkle under my right eye. I think it's probably got something to do with the fact I've been sleeping with the right side of my face smushed into a pillow for at least the last decade so I can't complain really. I've always thought wrinkles add character so I don't mind, but my concealer likes to settle in it so I think I'm going to have to change my make up routine a little. I've currently got my eye (haha, no pun intended) on the By Terry Densiliss Concealer but it's £££ and I'm not sure if any of the shades will work for my ghostly complexion. But, we'll see.




Be back soon!
xo

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