Wednesday, 2 January 2013

look into the storm and feel the rain

A few weeks ago, maybe a week or two before Christmas, I sat in the car outside my former high school and waited. I was there for half an hour, maybe for slightly less, waiting in the car for 3:00pm when I would walk down the path, cross the road and stand at the end of the bus bay to pick my brother up. This is something of a routine that the two of us have - every Friday I have the day off and since May I've been picking him up on a Friday afternoon. Sometimes, something significant happens, but mostly I just collect him and drive us home.

This particular Friday, we walked past the front of school like we always do and past one of the bus queues. Even now I still feel very odd walking past that queue, because back when I was at school I would spend ages waiting with friends while they waited for their buses, even though I actually walked home. Without being too specific, this Friday I happened to have a brief conversation with somebody in the queue. And it's funny, because I left that school in May 2010 but they never seem to stop caring or wondering how things are going. We chatted a bit about how university is going and, for the first time, I voiced my intention to change degree programme. I don't really know why, but I did. It felt safe, I suppose. It felt like the little bubble you're in at school was still somehow protecting me from all of the problems and confusion of the weeks leading up to that one, seemingly insignificant moment. 

But it wasn't insignificant... 

On the surface, "well, I didn't get joint honours either, I started out doing it though..." was just storytelling, I'm sure, but in the midst of doctors appointments, scary conversations with my personal tutor, that one morning sitting in a waiting room for what felt like hours and holding things back, that one little story told me it's OK. It's OK to change. It's OK to make decisions like that. It's OK to do something different. 

While I was sitting in the car, I was listening to a new song by my favourite musician on repeat, increasing the volume a little with every play. It cleansed me, that afternoon. It reminded me that no matter where you go, the people who stood by you all along will still be there, whether it's in person or through the lessons they teach you. 

I kind of hid away over Christmas. I put off replying to an important email because I just couldn't find it within myself to finally admit defeat and then I was so ill that I didn't leave my bed for days. I think I'm just about pulling myself back into normality. I replied to that email and I had a 'good' appointment this morning. They're baby steps, but they're better than no steps at all...

And the song I took the title for this post from, it's beautiful and it continues to cleanse me. The storm is ongoing but I'm no longer afraid.


Monday, 31 December 2012

let go of your fears, say happy new year

So it's officially 2013. I don't think it has quite the same ring to it as 2012 did, but we shall see. When I posted about 2011 coming to an end on my old blog last year(?) I also quoted the same song as the title of this post, which I will embed at the bottom of my ramblings for you all, along with Tim Minchin's 'What Was '06 For?' because even though it's way out of date now, it's still pretty damn sensible. Happy new year and all ;)

2012 was a strange year. I imagine I could probably leave this post there and a lot of you would agree. This year, I met two of my all-time favourite comedians, plus a more recent favourite comedian, I received a Diana Award and I started university. There were some brilliant moments that I will remember forever, but as with every year, there were some fairly horrendous moments that I would rather like to forget.

I think I grew as a person a lot in 2012. When I left school in 2010 it felt terrifying being out in the big, wide world and starting college... but little did I know that in actual fact, leaving college would be the true start of 'right, you're all alone in this big world, so what are you going to do?' When I left college and started university, it was really the first time I didn't have any of my friends around to depend on when I needed somebody. I somehow managed to muddle my way through my first semester and was lucky enough to meet some lovely people who I like to think are now my friends. 

Particularly in the last quarter of this year, I seem to have adopted the new attitude of ''just go for it''. I made more social plans than in 2011 and found myself confiding in somebody I barely knew, the results of which were a lot more pleasant than I kind of expected. I also found the courage to do things I have needed to do for a long time, but refused to acknowledge... and it's still a scary process, but I know I'll get there in the end. I feel different, and I feel more capable.

While I look back over the year and remember lots of sad moments, I can also be thankful for so many things and so many people. To those who were there in the darkest moments - all of those hours spent crying in the lab over a period of about a week, drives for coffee and late-night FB conversations - you know who you are and I can never tell you how much I value you all. Thank you. 

I'm confident that 2013 will be different. It will be a year of moving away from the past and moving towards the future, towards different people and different memories. I think I'm ready for it, I think I'm ready to be refreshed and different. 

Whoever you are, I hope you can smile when you look back over 2012 and that 2013 will bring you even more smiles.


Monday, 17 December 2012


20 scary days since the first step.

26 precious hours with a dear friend who lives far away. 

1 ridiculous fear about to be conquered.

11 weeks of university completed.

4 small gestures of thanks.

1 beautiful song, many tears.

26 heartbreaking reasons to appreciate every single moment.

40 pounds spent on food for this weekend.

1 huge perspective-check.

2 hours spent decorating my grandma's Christmas tree and talking about life.

7 things left on my to-do list.

A million reasons to be thankful.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

fearful child, have faith in brighter days

I'm not even going to formally address the fact that I haven't been writing on here much anymore. I'm busy. That's kind of it. I've also been putting off properly writing about university because honestly, it's not an easy post to write.

All I know is that the months past few months have been, for the most part, good. I feel like I know who I am a lot more than when I left college. Unfortunately, that also means that while the post-college haze has been clearing, I've slowly been realising lots of things. I've had to seek help from lots of different people recently, and that feels very strange.

So what have I learnt? Primarily, I've learnt that I don't want to continue with my current degree. I love Spanish as a language and I've met some lovely people through my course, but it just isn't right for me. I also like Linguistics (and the department is great) but dropping to single honours Linguistics and Phonetics significantly narrows my career prospects, plus I'm not particularly thrilled by the idea of doing that anyway. I'm still trying to figure out what I do want to do, but I think the fact that I'm writing all of this down says a lot. 

Truthfully, I think most people are really struggling to keep up with everything at the moment, and those who aren't are either massively gifted or not really doing enough. It feels very strange working on coursework for a course that I know I won't continue, but that's just how it is. 

It's scary not really knowing what you want. When I decided on Spanish as a degree, I was still at college, feeling (and being treated like) absolute crap and languages were fun. It was easy to say ''well that's what I'll do then'' because languages, and the MFL department, were where I felt 'safe'. Now I've distanced myself from all of that, I think I'm actually going back to a few years ago where I could clearly define the things I was interested in. 

While I'm trying to figure out where I'm going, I'm also trying to focus on the good things. Things like...

The last event on my autumn/winter 2012 comedy schedule... Seeing and meeting the fantastic Josh Widdicombe (and the unexpected yet fabulous Suzi Ruffell) on the 14th. I laughed so hard that my poor stomach thought I had an illness. Brilliant and highly recommended. The company I had (Poppy and Eliza) also brilliant and recommended. #PoppyplaysMonopolyonatrain #Elizasleepsintheshower 

Sticking with a theme, finally switching round the 'banner' above my desk. Just for people like Poppy, who actually care...
L to R tickets: Russell Howard, Jon Richardson, Daniel Sloss (last year), Mark Watson (2010), Mark Watson (this year), Rhod Gilbert, Josh Widdicombe, Daniel Sloss (this year).
L to R posters: Mark Watson (this year), Alun Cochrane, Daniel Sloss (this year), Josh Widdicombe, Jon Richardson, Mark Watson (2010), Rhod Gilbert. 
Yes, I'm aware there's a gap on the left where ideally another poster would be, but I'm a poster short it would seem. Poppy is rescuing me with a 'spare' she has from when we saw Daniel Sloss last year, and this is why I love my CT. 

I'm aware this is probably the worst photo I've ever taken. It looks a little bit like a photo frame and a glass have just had an argument or something. In reality, it was just tidy for once (and that frame is so big that I can stash things behind it...) The frame will eventually be a chalkboard (when our damn weather allows me to paint it) but the quote will be the same. It may as well say ''I  Josh Groban" because that is one of his many lyrics that I could have quoted as my favourite. It reminds me of Y11, solitary but wonderful drives and that one time Jess and I drove through Ackworth when I dropped her off and we were silent as we listened to his music. 

Lastly, meet my new baby everybody. What can I say? I'd been debating it for months and my laptop pretty much went ''hey, Rachel, I'm tired of this, just do it already'' so when Apple had their sale on Friday I finally gave in. It arrived yesterday (a day early, I might add, bonus points for Apple on that one) and I'm already in love with it. I'm also already convinced that I will never go back to a regular PC. I figured out that it comes with GarageBand pre-installed and if I could describe how excited my dad got when I broke the news, I would, but I genuinely can't. Let's just say ''we'll have to hook my guitar up to it at the weekend'' is now on a loop.

So, to sum up:
Trying to figure out what I want to but also very thankful for the things that have made me smile recently.

SOTD is You Are Young - Keane and, to continue an old but recently forgotten tradition, is also the source of my title. 

I hope everybody is well. What's made you smile recently? Let me know :) 


Saturday, 10 November 2012

recently: instagram

1. I bought 5 mini buckets in Hobbycraft because I thought they were 'cute'. If anybody can cure me of my shopping issues then please comment below...

2. I dug out my 'Croatia' ring for the first time in probably a year these past two weeks. I made it after I got back from Croatia and had coins that couldn't be changed back into British currency. Here's a little fact: that coin has climbed a mountain/kayaked on the Adriatic Sea/kayaked on Croatian rivers with me.

3. Sophie's annual bonfire party last Saturday was...interesting. This is what happens when your friend has a dad who works somewhere with huge cardboard cut outs of Robbie Savage.  

4. Lyrics from Timmy the Dog's (Tim Minchin) 'Happy Boy', which always come into my head when I'm having a rough time (see the post before last).

5. In the midst of my mid-week semi-nervous breakdown, I went for a nighttime drive and ended up drinking an awful hot chocolate in the car park of my closest McDonald's... and then the car wouldn't start and my parents had to come. The darkest hour is just before the dawn, and all that.

6. One of the many advantages of being close to someone who works in a department store is that they earn beauty points when they buy products... and they accumulate to the point where, in my case, you end up with a free Chanel lipstick. As Charlie Sheen would say, winning.

7. I spent an hour and a half sitting in a Starbucks in Leeds on Thursday afternoon while I had time to kill between Icelandic ending and meeting the Spanishy  (yes, that is a word... or at least to me it is) people for tapas. There are few places as welcoming as a cosy coffee shop.

8. My second city is beautiful at night, especially when the German market is there.

9. After finishing our tapas, we ended up watching the Christmas lights switch on ceremony thingy, where we witnessed fireworks, Tyler James, some guy from Calendar news and a terrible band from Britain's Got Talent.

10. Miss Dusty has been particularly affectionate and excitable recently. If only humans behaved like animals, life would be much more simple...

11. Miss Dusty also likes posing, as is evident in this shot where I think she probably spotted a tiny rabbit (aka her reflection, she's done it before) on my screen and thought ''ooh''.

12. I took my hair down today and it was unexpectedly wavy. I'm also wearing my freebie Chanel lipstick and clearly I felt quite vein.

SOTD is my attempt to claw back something summery, and nothing says 'summery' quite like something Hawaiian.

Aloha nui loa,


P.S. Don't you just love the real meaning of 'aloha'? If you don't, read this and then you probably will...

Friday, 9 November 2012

the lunch bunch... circa may 2010

I found some old video footage earlier whilst rooting around in old files on the hard drive and thought I'd share... Don't we all look...interesting? We went bowling on the day we left school, and then Zoe and Danny had a race and a few of them did the YMCA while standing on huge rocks. Contrary to popular belief, this is normal behaviour for The Lunch Bunch.

(I don't know I'm wearing the plastic tiara I received in my party bag in our last Spanish lesson/language party, though evidently I'm not the weirdest one so it's all good...)


Sunday, 4 November 2012

past is past

I really hoped that my next post would be something fun and interesting (and I'm working on that one, but the shocking northern weather is really holding me back at the moment) that I'm planning to share when I can. Unfortunately, today has 100% matched the stereotype of a depressing, rainy Sunday and my mood very much reflects the weather and atmosphere today.

Something's been niggling away at me all week and I realised why and what it was today. I read an article some time around the beginning of the week, and it was one of those articles that you wish you hadn't read because it evokes emotions and opinions that you'd managed to bury deep within you.

But, truthfully, the contents of the article and its effect on me remind me that sometimes you can't do anything more than to try and cover it up.

I suppose it doesn't help that a year ago things were very different to how they are now. A year ago it was the beginning of another cycle of turning up at college every day and wondering if I would make it to the end of the day without crying, of practically running from room to room because any amount of time spent outside the trusty language lab made me stop breathing with anxiety.

I'm thankful that now I'm at university and I even manage to commute there and back relatively anxiety-free, but every now and then life gives me those little reminders that take me back to certain dates...dates that I would very much like to forget. And it's ironic, because Tuesday March 13th was one of the best days of my life - because I met one of my favourite comedians in the evening - but I very vividly remember the light hours of the day and sitting and shaking in an unwelcoming little office in what was virtually a shed with Sophie and Aiden, not really knowing what I was supposed to do because it was all so ridiculous. It was worse than that, but I'm not entirely sure I want the internet to know about everything else.

It's difficult looking back because even though I know I'm in a much better place now, events that have occurred in the last two years still shape the way I behave. I'm still pretty much silent throughout every day unless I'm around people I trust. I still don't volunteer to speak in lectures, seminars or language tutorials. For now, though, I'm coping. I know I'm coping because I've made it through six weeks of university and this is the first time I've felt unsure about anything. Because of that fact alone, I know things will be OK in the long run.

I'm going to leave you with a newer version of my absolute favourite song. I've probably posted this on here before, but it's relevant and, quite frankly, if you can't even find one thing that you like about this song then chances are we wouldn't get along. I'm also hugely grateful to whoever uploaded it in the first place because I must watch it every day... It's inspirational and beautiful, and the new version is brilliant. I love both versions to listen to when I feel sad. What do you like to do when you feel down?

I also hope that everybody who reads this is well and happy, but if things aren't great then please remember that you are not alone and things do get better.