Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Graduation!

Yesterday was graduation day. I am officially a graduate, LSBU alumni. My student life is behind me, my future ahead.

My mum, my brother and Becky were there with me on my special day, my nearest and dearest. It was a fun day, albeit very.... I don't know.... fast. It all happened in a big swoosh of people and robes photos, announcements, more photos and then... it was over. It was held in St George's Cathedral, so gorgeous with its windows, pillars and stonework, an amazing setting for this day. Then we had a reception with a band and refreshments in the gardens of the Imperial War Museum. It was sunny and we took hundreds of photos, some of which I will post sometime this week when my internet is working well enough to upload them.

I thought that, after 2 months of being finished with uni, not seeing anyone, being in the buildings, this day wouldn't be that big a deal, but I came away a little shell-shocked by the finality of it all. Knowing that I would never see probably half of the people in my (quite large) class again is very weird. And then even with the friends that I will keep in touch with and see, it's different. There's no more casual, "See you in next week's class..". If we want to see each other we have to make an effort and arrange it, and all that. Which I think is a good thing and I'm looking forward to friendships growing past lazy communication, but it's still a bit of a shock to realise that everything has changed.

More than anything though, I'm proud of what I've accomplished in this time, the person I've become through my experiences, the precious friendships I've made, and what I've learned.. both professionally and personally.. And I'm excited about what's to come. I appear to have a semi-solid plan forming for what comes next, and I'm determined to make it work. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Titles get hard to think of after a while....

Today seems to be a day of unexplained grumpiness for me. Maybe it's not enough sleep (I fell asleep for an hour or so again this afternoon), or maybe it's not, I don't know. But I don't feel like writing, tidying, doing anything. Today is the first time while doing NaBloPoMo this month that I have to force myself to write. A little stroppy part of me, even as I type this is going, "You can't make me write! I won't do it!".

It's funny, coz I've been doing really well for this past few days. I'm trying to use the month between now, and me moving out and into a new place, to examine my life and fix what's not working. I want to start with a clean slate. This of course starts with my constantly mentioned tidying and sorting, but it's been other things as well. I'm beginning to be aware of blocks I have in my thinking, and the ways I interact with the people in my life. I'm trying to look at every situation from different angles and not do things, or act in certain ways just because it's what I've always done. This is new to me. I'm used to hanging onto ideas and fears and grudges for dear life. And it feels so, so good to let go.

Maybe that's why I'm grumpy today, too much of everything shifting around inside my head...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

I hate shopping. Am I allowed to say that?

I'm having graduation panic. Not about the graduation itself, I'm quite looking forward to that, but I have nothing to wear! Today I'm planning to go to the still rather new, and ridiculously giant Westfield Shopping Center to find something nice. I've never been there before and I feel like going somewhere new. The problem is, and saying this may go against every rule of being a girl, that I hate shopping. New clothes, I love, new things of any kind, I love. The act of delving into the shops to find said new things? Ugh. Not so much.

Sales are worst of all. I refuse to shop in sales, even if there are (so I'm told) bargains to be had. I would prefer to go when it hasn't been hit by a hurricane of frantic shoppers, all rummaging through the same rail of crumpled clothes, even if it means paying full price for something.

London shops are huge, and stock everything, but are full to the brim with tourists and crazed teenage girls in 4 inch heels. Outside London, things are (generally) a little calmer but, having been to the London stores, I'm aware of how much is missing from these smaller stores and don't want to buy until I've seen everything. I can't win.

So after hours of frustrated high-street shopping, I usually find myself in some semi-designer place spending £40 on the cardigan instead of my budgeted £15, or £75 on a swimsuit that I've given up hope of ever finding anywhere else. I'm a student, that's a month's worth of food money!

And with that rant off my chest, I'm off to shop!
Wish me luck!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Another day.

Yesterday was another no-internet, and thus no-post, day.

After 35 hours spent in or around my bed, I wanted very very much to be out of the house so I did everything possible to get enough sleep and was feeling okay in the morning yesterday, so I made it into work. The thing is, when I'm not well I tend to become very, very spacey, and kept finding myself staring into the cabinets at work with no recollection of how I got there or what I was supposed to be doing. And walking into things. And dropping things. I tried to throw a piece of paper into a bin and missed..... from three inches away (I say three, it was probably closer..). But I survived, as did everyone around me, thankfully. I'm a fair bit better today, taking it easy. I just fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon, something I haven't done in a long time.

I think I'll spend the day tidying and starting to sort things out for moving next month. I have a system started, and for the first time in my life I'm actually being able to get rid of things. Instead of looking at something and thinking, "Aww, that's nice. I haven't used it in forever though.... but... I might someday! And if I ever do need it where would I be able to find another? No... I'd better keep it.... just in case.... it's only small anyway... it's not like it takes up space. I'll just add it to the boxes full of other 'maybe someday' things..." I can think, "Huh, cool. Oh well, out it goes." This, for me, is incredibly radical thinking.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Taking a Sick Day

(Photo by Kati Brown on flickr)

I'm home sick from work today. It's the first time in my year and, um, nine months I believe, of working there that I've ever called in sick, and I keep getting the guilt coz I know that they'll be short-staffed on my floor today. But then I do something like call my mum, and realise that for some reason I'm incapable of even stringing together a simple sentence without slurring it and forgetting what the start of the sentence was. Or I'll try and open the curtains and lose my balance. No... I'm better off here, huddled in my room feeling sorry for myself. And better I rest today and am fine for work tomorrow, than go in today and be useless and then be useless again the next day.

In a twisty way it's kind of nice to have permission to just... be sick. I don't have to push myself to get to work, and then stay upright once I'm there, and I don't have uni work to do. I don't have anyone around me wanting me to do anything, or be anywhere. It's just me, my duvet, and a day of much needed rest.

I'm hoping that, with enough water, sleep, tea, and vitamin C, I'll be fine to go to work tomorrow. At least it's a later start than today so I don't have to get up too early..

Calling in sick raised an interesting dilemma I'd never had to think about before. As I dialled the number I was wondering how sick you're supposed to sound when you call in... Where's the balance between sounding sick enough to take a day off, and sounding so sick that you must be faking it?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Website, coming soon.

My brother has been promising me for ages to build me a website for my photos, but then not getting around to it. Today I sat down with him for a few hours and made sure he didn't leave his desk until it was built. I now have a basic skeleton that needs a few tweaks, and, well, some photos.... then it will be all up and ready to see! I can't wait.

I feel like drawing. I think I'll play with my tablet more today.
Eep, and I'm behind on my writing. I'd better go do that also!

Short post today. xx

P.S.
Because it's such a short post, I think I'll leave you with a picture. This is the pretty clock that I bought yesterday for mine and Becky's new flat (yes, the one we don't have yet), it was cheap, but I like it. And behind it is the mask I bought in Venice.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Preposterously Positive.

"Say yes to positive, not no to negative
'Cos no to negative is not enough
Say yes to positive, not no to negative
Preposterously positive, that's the stuff."
(From Carrot, by the wonderfully funny Mal Webb)

I'm in a very good mood today. I saw some friends last night who I haven't seen for a while. And I made new friends. Both good things.

I've been thinking... not being sucked in by peer presure, being different from the "regular" crowd, being able to generally not take peoples' opinions to heart are all things I pride myself on. But I'm discovering that there's a big difference between not paying attention to negative input, and having positive input.

I can feel fine around people who may or may not truly "get" me... but "fine" is very different from the great that I feel when I'm around people who believe in me, and who see for themselves qualities in me that I'm used to having to work to get other people to notice, or even that I stop noticing myself. Being around people like this gives me a big injection of happy, and I come away feeling like I can do anything I put my mind to, every huge challenge I face melts into triviality.

I love feeling like that.
I'm so very grateful to have people like this in my life.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

And now I can draw.

I got my tablet working properly in Photoshop last night. I can now draw and paint properly! I haven't drawn anything, by hand or otherwise, in a very very long time and drawing digitally seems to be the perfect way for me to start back up again. I love it. It's a no risk medium where, with all my layers, I can change my mind at any point and rearrange the whole picture if I like, or redo sections. So much fun.




Monday, 13 July 2009

Writing, writing.

After a week or so of doing nothing but binge-watching Buffy, I'm finally feeling more alive again. I think I needed to get a whole lot of doing nothing out of my system. And yesterday's return of my desire to write is getting stronger. Last night I was up till past 1am writing the first assignment for my Writer's Bureau course. Four years I've procrastinated on writing that... no... five.. and now I'm up all night coz I can't pull myself away before "just one more sentence... and one more...".

Also, Becky and I have a new pact to stretch our writing muscles with challenges. We have begun to set each other subjects or tasks to be written by a certain day. I'm currently writing about facebook, I haven't quite decided what aspect exactly.

Also also. I've been digging through my old scraps of writing and have found a couple things I haven't seen in a long time and am suddenly very excited about developing into something more than scraps. I found a story that I wrote in my morning pages on day a few years ago and want to try turning into a childrens book. I scribbled (keyword "scribbled") in word with my pretty new tablet (which I'm loving more by the day) for a few minutes and have a rough rough opening page, and a thirst to find my art supplies and try my hand at illustrating.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Page after Page - a review/love letter

Last Thursday I spent an hour or so reading in my favourite Waterstones (the 5 floor store on Piccadilly, my own little heaven), a luxury I haven't indulged in for a very long time. I devoured photography books cover to cover, and then moved on to the writing books. The writing section is usually dangerous for me and my decreasing bank-balance, but I thought this time I'd be safe, seeing as I now have most of the exciting books in that section. I was wrong. I found one I'd never seen before, and fell in love at first sight. By the time I'd finished reading the table of contents I knew I needed it.

The book in question is Page after Page, by Heather Sellers. It's such a cute size, perfect to carry around and read anywhere. The cover is pretty, and there are soft designs around the edge of every page, a different design for each of the three sections. And the writing is friendly, encouraging and genuinely funny. As with every writing book out there, there are also writing exercises. I'm not usually particularly excited by writing exercises, but these I love. They're... different somehow. They range from the unforgivingly practical, to the sumptuously luxurious.

Like I said, I have every writing book there is to be had. Okay, so that's a rather large exaggeration. But I do have a lot, many that I love and that are full of inspiration. But more than any of them, even books like The Right to Write and Writing Down the Bones, this book makes me want to write. Those books make me want to have become a writer, this book makes me want to actually do the writing, right now. Instead of writing as a writer who has "made it" in the business and is informing us mortals how to do so too, Heather Sellers writes as a normal person continuing with the same challenges that we do every day, and showing how she gets past them. She makes it suddenly seem so real and doable.

And I love, love the way she uses words. The way she writes is like a cross between how I write, and how I want to write. It makes me think, "Hey, you know what? I can do that!". And not just think it. Start it. For the first time, I think ever, when I came home today from work... a heavy day of being short-staffed and moving furniture and fixtures around a store that is mostly a building site right now... I got home, changed out of my work clothes, and before anything else, I sat down and started writing. There was nothing else I wanted to do quite as much.

I'm hoping this is the start of new habits, I'm taking it a day at a time. Today I wrote, and I'm celebrating. Tomorrow, hopefully I'll write again, and I'll celebrate that also. And the next day, well, we'll see!

Buttons 2 - AKA The Button Torment

As I've mentioned before, I have a thing about buttons. And finding them. I found three today, and a zip (I branched out into occasional zips coz I kept finding them too). For some reason I see them everywhere. Oh wait, four buttons today. I forgot one. Aaanyway. There is one button that has been plaguing me since April.

I saw it on the the tracks at platform 5 of London Bridge and spent the rest of my wait for the train watching it intently, trying to think of some big and clever plan to get it off the tracks. Most of the plans involved distracting the guards while I lowered a giant super-power vacuum from the platform edge. I didn't have a giant vacuum, otherwise who knows, it could have worked.

It's still there. It won't go away! Three months it's been sitting on the tracks taunting me with its buttonness. If anyone has any schemes to rescue lost buttons from train tracks, preferably without loss of life or limb, I'd be thrilled to hear them.


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Old Friends and Soup Disasters

My Breakfast

I left for work an hour early today so I would have time to sit and write before work, which worked and was lovely. Starbucks failed on the drinks front though. I went in and ordered an iced decaf mocha frappachino (because I like to be difficult :op), and the barrista looked at me funny and said, "Um.. we can't do that." So I said that was fine and that I'd go to Caffe Nero instead. Which I did, and they didn't blink when I asked for the same thing, and it was goood. They win.

I met an old friend today, or to be more accurate, she met me. She came to the store for my lunch. I haven't seen her in about two years and it was it was really great catch up a bit and hear about her time at uni. It's so strange to think how much things have changed and we've grown up since we first met when we were young. I don't feel different, even from what I was like at 10. How does that work? How do we grow up and mature... and yet stay the same?

For lunch I had soup to eat in the park. Beautiful red pepper and goat's cheese soup. I then managed to drop said soup. It went everywhere, completely covering one leg from the foot to the knee. Somehow, thank goodness, I managed to clean it up enough that it wasn't noticable when I went back on the shop floor half an hour later. But now I'm hungry coz most of my soup ended up on my leg or the ground. So I'm off to eat shiny big cherries and then find something more substantial.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Home Sweet Home

(photo by kaysare on flickr)

So... I'm moving soon.

I've kind of known it for a while, but it seemed a million years away until last night. Suddenly it's all hitting home, so to speak.

The very lovely Becky is starting uni in London in October. I'm going to move out of my little room here and the two of us will find a flat in a better part of London than here, somewhere closer to work, my family and her uni. This place has been perfect student accommodation and I'm very grateful to have had it throughout my time at uni, but I'm living in a single room and storing half my clothes under the bed. I'm very excited at the idea of having somewhere that's truly a home. I'm looking forward to having a bedroom of my own, that doesn't double/triple up as office, storage, kitchen and living room. And I'm looking forward to being able to spend time with my bestest friend more than once every few months.

I'm not looking forward to paying rent and living expenses in London with no student loan to fall back on. Scary stuff.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Doing things the hard way.

Another load/bucket of washing done. By hand.

I made up some whipped cream the other evening, easy enough.. but it's the first time I've done it without my electric whisk, which is in my mum's kitchen right now. It's rather more tiring manually. And then the water was cut off for all of yesterday and most of today. Turning the tap on and having no water come out is strangely disconcerting, there being no water in an entire house isn't something you really consider happening normally.

Add a non-working washing machine on top of that and it feels like I'm living in the stoneage! Or something. I feel spoiled by a way of life I don't even notice I have until I don't. How on earth did people survive without all the modern appliances that we take for granted now? Even thoroughly washing a pair of heavy jeans is a workout on its own. And never mind appliances, just having hot and cold running water is a big deal for me at the moment!

Anyway. Just musing aloud.

And now I'm off to check that nothing valuable is being saturated by the steady dripping of water from my jeans. I hope the weather wherever you are is less grey and drizzly than here!

People Watching

I find it amusing how marvellously Londoners manage to make appearing aloof into an art form. I came home during the rush hour yesterday. We were crammed into the train, about to leave London Bridge, when a rather large man jumped on saying, "Will everyone please move down." in a slightly irritated tone, as if it was our fault that the train was already full. Everyone crushed down a little more, and the doors closed. I then got to spend the journey watching the man trying to stay upright by holding onto the handle by the door, and pressing his other hand against the glass sheet between the standing area and the seats.... The thing is, there was another man trapped between him and the glass. It was a very funny uncomfortable scene.

The two men were inches away from each other, one's hands pressed either side of the other, and yet somehow, staring in an intently casual manner out of the window, eyebrows slightly raised in a "tralala, isn't this a boring day with no people in it, especially not ones almost pressed up against me?" kind of way, ipods plugged firmly into their ears, they each managed to keep up the impression that neither had any idea the other even existed.

People are ever so entertaining.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

And then the police were summoned...

Well today was full of drama. We've been living in a building site for the past year and a half, thanks to a landlord full of evil. Today one of the guys who lives the house had a slight temper meltdown.

Now, it's quite hard for me to actively dislike someone. There are people I confess to not going out of my way to adore, but to actually truly dislike someone, that's rare for me. He's one of those rare people. To put it into perspective. I've lived in a house with him for three years. I haven't said more than three words to him for the last two years.

Anyway, the water was disconnected so that the builders could do their work, and he went ballistic at the plumber. But he's too weaselly to pick a proper fight. No. Instead he wound up the situation and wound it up, yelling and following them around, until the plumber's temper snapped, then called the police, telling them a fabricated tale about how he had, "merely asked them nicely about the situation, and the plumber became aggressive and knocked him to the floor." None of which had happened.

He called both the neighbourhood police, and 999, so a police van and a police car turned up (I have to say I'm quite impressed by their response time, it was less than 10 minutes later). I took one of the policemen aside as they came in and explained the situation as I'd seen and heard it so they knew not to go after the plumber as the aggressive one in the situation, and they were gone in about 10 minutes. They hadn't even got all the way down the garden path before he asked one of the builders to turn the water back on. He started another fight and called the police back. At which point I decided it was time for me to be somewhere else, so I threw some books and lenses in a bag and my camera around my neck and went for a lovely aimless stroll around London.

I enjoyed my little exploration, and am now inspired to go out on a proper photo seeking day soon, maybe tomorrow if the weather's nice.

And now I'm home with pizza and rasberries. Not together. And no police. Yay.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Results!

Well it's official.

A uni email was sent out yesterday afternoon announcing that our results were posted on the noticeboard in a corridor outside the faculty office. I grabbed my bag and jumped on a bus. I didn't think I was too bothered about my results, you know, "Well, I did my best and that's what counts...", but when I got the message yesterday I suddenly realised that I really, really did care after all.

I spent the whole journey there trying to pretend I wasn't thinking about it. The weather went from bright sunshine to heavy summer rain. I love a bit of drama, and sitting there on the bus driving to meet my fate with the rain rattling on the windows was rather satisfying.

But thankfully my fate turned out to be a good one. I have a 2:1, which is what I was hoping for. Such an incredible relief. So happy. It's over and done with, and with a happy ending.

I have a degree!

Now all there is left is my graduation on the 28th.

Monday, 6 July 2009

The joys of clean clothes.

Ah look, sunshine! Another beautiful day outside. And this time, I have the day off. The week off in fact. I've kept it purposely clear, refusing to let anyone talk me into doing anything or going anywhere. This week is mine to get my life, surroundings and routines back in order. Although I've been out of uni for a month now, this is the first time I've had a block of time this big just for myself. I can't begin to say how much I'm looking forward to it.

I began tidying my room over the weekend, and it's already feeling less like a landfill site. I bought myself a bamboo basket to keep all the scarves and cardigans that end up all over my floor. I figured that if I'm going to throw them around the room instead of having somewhere to hang them, I may as well throw them into something that looks nice and keeps them out of a heap on the floor. It's working wonders already. I don't know how I've collected so many scarves.

Today is laundry day. Thing is, I have no working washing machine. Today is the day my hands get very soapy and dry and I have water splashed all over the bathroom and clothes dripping dry from every pointy-out bit in my room that I can hang them off. So I guess today should be the day that I also find some lovely hand cream, sea salt scrub and other pampery things for my poor worked hands. Then tomorrow will be the first day in a while that instead of my morning routine being, "I'll wear....... oh... I can't. It's in the washing basket. Okay, then I'll wear.... oh. So's that." It'll be, "I'll wear.... that. Perfect." Done.

The little luxuries of life.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Flickery internet...

Hmm, well I seem to have found a flaw in my daily posting plan. I'm back in London with no internet of my own, only that "borrowed" from an unsuspecting neighbour. An unsuspecting neighbour who only has internet at random points during the day and almost never during the night. That's on my to-sort-out list. But in the meantime It'll have to be post when I'm able rather than daily without fail.

I only have a flicker of internet right now and it's about to give out, so this can't be long. It's a post for the sake of it really. But hopefully I'll have something better tomorrow. If you're lucky it might even be worth reading!

*****

Aaand that was last night. The internet died before I clicked publish.

It's been a long weekend at work, kind of hectic but dead at the same time. Building work going on around the store which makes things confusing. But I actually really enjoyed myself at work for the first time in months. I wasn't watching the clock and waiting desperately until the time I could leave. I used to love my job so much, and I feel like now the rest of my stress is beginning to wear off, I'm getting that back. I can go back to being good at what I do, and loving it. Happy times.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Techno Goodies

l have a shiny new toy!

I'm writing this blog post by hand. It's taking a little longer than usual... I'm still kind of mastering it and working out how to make it do what I want it to do, rather than what it wants to. Harder than expected at times.

So what is it? A Bamboo tablet is what it is.


My treat to myself as part of finishing uni and being out in the big world starting off on my own. I've decided a tablet would be great to use with my photo and film editing as well as the design work that seems determined to come my way.

It may be tricky to use right now, and some of software is being a little glitchy, but I love it already. I edited my first photo with it today, it's so much less fiddly than editing by finger and touchpad as I've been doing for the past year or so. I also love using it to browse through computer and online, and just in general. There's something so magic about writing with a piece of plastic and seeing it appear on-screen. Practice is still much needed though. What you're reading is edited. If I don't edit, it ends aup looking a litIle more like this. Oh, that wasn't so bad. See, I'm improving already!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Habits

I want to get back my good habits. After my 37 days challenge, I kept my no late-night internet rule firmly in place all the way until last week. I was going to bed early (well, before midnight) and for the first time that I can remember, 9am became sleeping in for me. I was being productive, even writing and drawing.

But now I've been at home with my family, and with a TV, and with working internet. Every time I come back here to a TV, I double and triple my determination not to have one in my own place. Ever. I hate it and I love it and I hate it. I could, and have, spent entire days watching endless reruns of Law & Order, Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote... and other daytime TV. One hour goes past, and another, and another. I don't notice until I realise it's nearly bedtime. And then it's past bedtime. And then it's 2 or 3am. And then I sleep in the next day until 11, and the whole thing starts again.

The internet is also swallowing my time and energy again. I forgot why it was that I chose it as the thing to quit for my 37 days. As of tonight I'm back on my not past 10pm rule.

I want to write again. I've begun the first assignment for my Writer's Bureau course and can't wait to get started properly and really take my writing seriously. I want to be published, and make money from my writing. There's no reason why not.

I've also begun working on my own website for my photography, and for my videos when I have anything I actually want to show. When I say "I" have, I mean I've started bullying my brother into building it for me, which is only fair seeing as my very basic foundation of one was working until he started playing around with the database.. or whatever it was he messed with. Anyway. That should be up and running in a week or so, I can't wait!

I'm full of plans and ideas. Now I just have to pull myself away from the TV for long enough to carry them out.

Oh, and as part of my habit-forming effort I am going to attempt a post a day here. NaBloPoMo is the official hangout spot for bloggers trying to do this. I tried it last November, but what with deadlines and work I missed about a week's worth of posts. Lets see what I can do this time. Hopefully without sacrificing quality for quantity.