Monday, 25 June 2012

it's a lovely day

I don't even remember what I wrote about last time I did a general life post on here. Leaving college will do that to you, I've found. Days seem to blur into the one neverending day and a serious lack of money means a serious lack of socialising at the moment.

I've had an interesting week. Last Wednesday, my two cousins and I spent our afternoon diverting traffic. Yep. There was a fairly serious accident on the main road near their house/our grandma's house, and all of the traffic started going down their lane. When I say traffic, I'm not just meaning cars, but vans, lorries, coaches and buses too... including one double decker bus that got stuck and ended up parked in my cousins' front garden. To quote my cousin George, "I have a double decker peasant wagon stuck on my grass verge..." Not only did the bus have to reverse all the way down a queue of traffic (let me tell you, that was not a pleasant ten minutes for anybody in the queue), but a passenger had to get off the bus and walk down the main road behind the bus. I'm pretty sure that breaches quite a few health and safety rules about buses... We ended up standing on the main road diverting traffic for about an hour before police turned up. Oh, and we discovered that road rage must be hereditary.

I ran some errands on Friday afternoon and waited for my brother (it seems that I usually pick him up from school on a Friday if I pick him up at all). While we were walking back to the car (and discussing the fact that he hadn't done a great job of making macaroni cheese in Food Tech - I don't miss the days of pre-GCSE FT when we had no choice over our recipes) I ended up talking to one of my old teachers. We talked about what I plan on doing after college - which he already knew because, in the words of one pupil who was listening to us, "he knows EVERYTHING!" - and it was interesting seeing somebody else so enthusiastic about it all. It reminded me of uni open days and the crazy enthusiasm of my dad, who would spend our journeys going "you can go and live in Spain and then we can have free holidays and you can work for the UN", only thankfully it wasn't as crazy as conversations with my dad. Still, it was nice to catch up and cheered me up after a relatively dreary week (excluding the great traffic incident of 2012, of course).

Saturday was also Sophie's 18th... happy birthday Sophie :) I have virtually no photos to show you because I didn't know where anybody was for most of the night, but I gather that they all had fun so it's all good.
Oh, and I'm going to teach myself Croatian as well as Swedish, folks. You know, because teaching yourself a foreign language is so easy (if you missed the sarcasm there, it was intended). I meant to buy a folder for it all today, but the Olympic torch was in my city and after spending an hour hanging around outside Boots with four school kids blowing whistles and shouting "COME ON TREVOR!", I couldn't really be bothered. [If you want to see some footage of the official Coca Cola bus getting stuck and having to reverse back down a narrow street (theme of the week, much...) then click here] The good news is that I already can swear (kopile, Google translate it), say waterfall (slap) and say red pepper (crvena paprika) in Croatian, so I'm pretty much set. I do know other words, but they're not as interesting.

And, just for good measure, why not throw in a photo of me being attacked by Dusty the rabbit? I think it's actually kind of cute. And animals are much better than people - I even made friends with a cat in the garden centre on Sunday, and cats never like me.
SOTD is Keane's Snowed Under. I'm not going to lie, I heard it for the first time today and it was the backing track to something with Jon Richardson in it. I'm not claiming to have a good taste in music, OK...?

Buenas noches,


PS: Happy birthday to S, my blog/Tumblr/email friend. I'm calling you S because you have the same name as somebody I already mentioned and it could be confusing, plus I called you S once before so it kind of makes sense. Have an awesome day :) x

PPS: Happy belated birthday to Rachel, my long-time name twin/best friend/crazy person whose birthday was yesterday. I shall watch our short-lived TV show (Rachel 'n' Rachel in the Morning, in case anybody was wondering) in celebration since we couldn't celebrate together (yet!) :) x

Monday, 18 June 2012

seven things in seven days

Evening :)
Today I'm joining in with Louise's (AKA sprinkleofglitter) 7 things for 7 days. Since leaving college (PS: for my post about my college experience, it's the one that came before this [warning: it's long and quite miserable]) I've found that all I tend to do is sit in the house and do nothing and I've been completely and utterly lacking in motivation for this past week or so.

So, even though I initially read Louise's post and thought 'yeah, there's no point in attempting that because I won't get anywhere', I decided to join in and give it a go myself - after all, it's my only truly 'free' summer now before I go to university and have 'grown up things' to deal with and I'd like to be able to say I did something good with my summer of freedom.

So, here are my 7 things that I hope to accomplish in the next 7 days...

Learn - Since my geeky love is learning languages (and that's what I want to study at university), I really want to get back into my old routine of teaching myself Swedish. If you're reading that and thinking 'Swedish...really?' then your answer would be yes. Clearly I like a challenge.

Be helpful - Ages ago now it was decided that over the summer I'd help my grandma out with jobs she can't really do. She has a rather large garden that she can't keep up with anymore and it needs sorting out. Even if I don't actually do any of the jobs she has for me this week, I want to sort out when I'm going up and doing something.

Organise - You probably wouldn't believe the amount of paperwork currently hanging around in my bedroom (and indeed the house) from college. I have at least 10 files to organise (basically meaning sort through and then throw out) as well as drawers full of junk that needs organising too.

Finances - Being both a (sort of) student on a budget and somebody who owes her parents following a rather expensive college prom, I really need to sort out what I owe and what I have left, especially because...

Socialise - I want to at least make one plan with a friend (or friends) this week. Sitting in the house is irritating me no end, but I also miss my friends and most people are finishing exams soon so we'll all be free.

Presents - I really need to come up with the last part of Sophie's birthday present. I already have two little bits and one crafty thing that I'm going to make, but I need a bigger thing to complete it.

General admin - Sort out some sort of receipt storage system (woo!...), email somebody I have been meaning to email for a week now, sort out the memory on my phone, back up the files and documents etc on my laptop before it stops working altogether and try and organise my blog properly because there are things I want to blog about and I'm not entirely sure I have the confidence.

So, there are my seven things. If you feel like getting motivated too, hop on over to Louise's blog (I'll link it again, why not?) where everything is explained for you :)

Thanks for reading :)

R x

Sunday, 17 June 2012

walk away, let the fear fall away

It feels like it's been months since I last wrote on here. It hasn't really, but since leaving college and finishing my exams life seems to have slowed down a little and my days feel longer.

At the moment, I feel a sort of contentment that I hadn't felt in a long time before leaving college. I titled this post using lyrics from a Josh Groban song that I love (and it's embedded at the bottom of this, so you can now love it too) because I was listening to it earlier and the lyric that caught my attention describes how I feel about leaving college perfectly.

I haven't talked about my college experience in too much depth because it's a tricky subject to delve into - especially online where so many people could read about it and misunderstand what I mean or read into what I say - but I'm going to test the water a little because even if it serves no other purpose, writing is therapeutic.

Having said that, I should add a little disclaimer right about here in which I place great emphasis on the fact that what I am writing about is not one specific event and I am not referring to individual moments (or even people), but my general thoughts on my college experiences and what I've learnt from it/them. My intention with this post is to release some thoughts and feelings that I have, nothing more. :)
I didn't adapt well to starting college at all, and this is something that I'm definitely not exaggerating about. In the first few weeks/first couple of months, my tutor had me keeping a list of everything that I was struggling with and it was ridiculous. It ranged from workload (all I'm going to say about that is DO NOT take AS Spanish if you think it's going to be easy - everything you learnt at GCSE is basically useless knowledge) to struggling with friends and being in such large crowds almost all of the time when I was actually in college. It was pretty much a classic case of tons of small things joining forces to make one huge problem - and for me, the problem was ''I'm at college''.

So, fast forward to about March 2011 and I'm feeling a bit better for this next paragraph or so... The winter was rubbish, like the sort of rubbish that has made me hate winter, but seen as this is my blog I can stick some nice, shiny gloss over that and pretend the winter didn't exist. I did my January exams with some serious self-confidence issues going on, and my grades definitely reflected that (I did two exams and came away from them with two very average B grades, which aren't bad at all but I'll explain...) - I may not have been particular surprised due to the fact that I was hyper-aware of quite how miserable I was, but my teachers were surprised and it was difficult trying to explain precisely what I thought had 'gone wrong' in the exams to get lower grades than my teachers had expected. During this time, I was becoming particularly fond of the college choir, and to this day it is one of the best things I have ever done. Because of my involvement in the choir, I met CT (major props to you if you know who that is...or indeed if you are CT!) and in March we went out into the town centre with a bunch of friends and, wait for it, busked for Red Nose Day. Yes, we stood in a shopping centre and spent a day singing. Were we mental? Definitely, but it was pretty damn fun and if you can't be ridiculous for charity then when can you? Choir was an amazing confidence-booster and even though I can't really sing, that's not the point - why would I choose to avoid something that makes me feel good just because I'm not the best at actually doing it?

Around this time, I started to gain back tiny bits of the confidence I had lost and began preparing for the summer exams. It was also around this time when I spoke to my teachers about what had been going on all throughout the winter and January exams and we sorted out 'strategies' for the summer exams. I walked away from my first year of college with two A grades and two B grades.

This year (second year/Y13) has been much the same in that it's been a mixed year with even more extreme high points and low points than the first year of college. It's a strange one, because while there have been some absolutely horrific moments this year that I would not wish to a) repeat or b) happen to anybody else, there have also been some amazing moments this year that have helped me to leave college with a positive outlook on things.

There were lots of things that really affected me this year, and looking back over everything I now know that a lot of it is due to the fact that I never really got over all of the stress and anxiety of the first year. I also had a new tutor (technically, my form had three before they could pick one for us...) this year which did not help matters at all (but having said that, she is lovely and I'm glad that of everybody, I was in her form).
Throughout Y13 I think one thing I really begun to notice was that as much as you need a wonderful group of people to patch you up and stick you back together when you start to fall apart, you then need to reach that point where you can take care of those wounds yourself because you have found that strength within yourself in order to be truly capable of getting over things. I'm lucky to have figured this out, because this year I experienced real anxiety and it was not pleasant. When I say 'anxiety', I'm referring to things like having to walk around college with at least one other person in order to avoid an all too familiar feeling of shaking and being unable to breathe properly until I was safely in the one place that I truly liked and felt comfortable and safe in - the language lab. This started probably around January again (and yes, one of my exam results suffered as a consequence again) and lasted until probably the end of April.
The language lab people are a truly wonderful bunch of people (S, J, B, W, H, C and L to name/initialise just a few) who were all so patient and caring with me when I was going absolutely insane and really struggling. Two moments that stand out were 1) walking out of a Spanish lesson and crying at S while the whole room was concerned and 2) crying hysterically at L who sorted me out and ended it all with 'we're not bothering with English, it's not important). I found myself relying on those people and that room (and also the SOS team [C, N/D and K] because they too were amazing people) and slowly but surely, reached the point where I'm at now.

I think the one thing that I've learnt from college is actually one of the most important life lessons I've learnt so far, and it is summed up brilliantly by a quote from both my favourite book and my favourite comedian:

There are no easily quotable sayings about just knuckling down and getting on with life in all its inconsistent and unfair glory, and if there were, they wouldn’t rhyme or have witty wordplays so people would choose to ignore them.

Life is unfair. It's bloody awful and you can try as hard as you like to change your circumstances but sometimes you just can't. But, that's not to say that you can't change yourself and live through your circumstances until you can indeed see both the light at the end of the tunnel and that much-desired silver lining. At the end of the day, we are all capable of letting both ourselves and other people down by the way we behave, and we are all capable of doing things that we are not happy doing, but we all have so much more potential to do wonderful things with our lives and we are only harming ourselves by choosing to wallow in our own self-pity instead of embracing all of the good in the world.

Maybe I'll talk more (if that's possible, apologies for the length of this by the way!) about things in the future. We shall see. I know there are some of you who will read this who know about things in a bit more detail, so please let me know if you think I should.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

college prom

Photo by Booth22

So, last night was our college prom. Sophie (the one in the cowboy hat... a moment that I really don't remember) and I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express and encountered many drunken men running up and down the corridors at 3:30am, but more on that later...

We arrived late afternoon and checked in. It was all pretty dull hanging around in the hotel waiting for Billie, Tommy (Billie's boyfriend, for those who I know who have no idea who he is) and Wallis to arrive but we distracted ourselves by listening to Spanish radio and giggling at the naff blue light in the bathroom. Small things...

Photo by Jess

Photo is mine :)

This was us upon arrival. The lovely girl in the polka dot dress is Wallis, Sophie is in navy, Tommy and Billie are in the background and I'm the one in red. We arrived and kind of had to hang around in the lobby for a while before we could go in and enjoy our free drinks :) I later encountered Aiden, and looking back it amuses me greatly that except for the hair, we look almost exactly the same as we did at high school prom. And yes, he really does have blue hair ;) 

Photo is also mine... I think

Whenever I think back over the past two years of college and all of the drama and problems, I always tend to end up viewing college as terrible, but this year has been significantly better than Y12 purely because of the friends I've made. In the above photo, I'm with Sophie, Billie  (this was pre-standing on a bench shouting "I'm Tinkerbell!") and Wallis :)

Photo by Booth22

After eating (soup followed by the vegetarian option, which also used the soup but this time as a sauce - was not impressed because it wasn't a nice soup anyway) we 'hit' the photo booth and also found Jess and Matt (pictured), who were both rather...merry?

Photo by Jess (sorry Wallis!)

Photo by me - venue was Royal Armouries Leeds in case anybody wondered

We ended up staying until about 12:45am ish when we went and sat in the hotel lobby with Wallis, Billie and Tommy while they waited for their taxi. Jess and Matt had long disappeared into Leeds and Sophie and I went back to our room where we listened to a Rhod Gilbert podcast and Jon Richardson's ''Gone Phishing''. Somehow, Sophie managed to fall asleep but I was kept awake by one obviously drunken Asian man who was running up and down the corridor and standing in front of our room having a loud phone conversation with somebody for about an hour. I'm not entirely convinced that he ever found his room, but the good news is that he probably took his noise to a different floor.

Photo by me

This was our sobering view at breakfast (although we were actually sober anyway...except possibly Matt...) I clearly didn't know what I was doing this morning because I decided that my coffee didn't need milk... And no, it wasn't all that pleasant but it did wake me up.

So, other than the random drunken Asian man and the soup fiasco (never going to be able to look at tomato soup in the same way again), all in all it was a good night and my quote of the entire thing comes from Matt, who announced the following while attempting to leave his hotel room for prom: "this is possibly the most gay that I've ever sounded, but I really need to moisturise". Oh, and their hotel room was booked under the name ''Mr Jessica Adlington'' ;)