The Flow of Time

What I find incredibly interesting is time. When we wait for something to happen, be it waiting to see the doctors, perhaps for a flight, or the bus when the rain pours down, it feels as though time couldn’t go by any slower. And yet when we are doing something incredibly entertaining, seeing old friends again, having much needed family time, then time seems to speed up and run away without us. Although the passing of the time is at the exact same rate, it is interesting how the brain can ignore time and speed it up, or concentrate so hard on it that it becomes a slow drudge.

It seems with old friends in particular that time can fly right before our eyes without even realising it. I graduated from University in 2011. It’s now 2014 and I have barely seen any of my close friends that I know I should have. But time ran away. I got a job, I moved house, twice, and thus moved further away and out of the ‘hop on the train and come see me for a day’ range. With the full-time job there are now less days available to me to come see my old friends, and likewise for them to see me.

I recently attended a wedding of a University friend. I hadn’t seen her since we graduated, almost a full three years ago. But as soon as I saw her time seemed to have forgotten to age us all, for she and I looked the same, and we were back to being exactly as we were. It was as if time did not speed through the last three years but instead simply paused. It took the moments we had, the people we were, and paused a portion of that time. When we reunited, we resumed as if no space had parted us. I met up with other friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and again we were exactly the same (except for maybe the posh wedding attire we all had donned).

The day itself flew by. It all happened so quickly that indeed it felt as though I merely blinked and missed it all. When will I see my friends again like that? Will time pause us again and reunite us back to our old University normality? Or will time speed on, and leave our memories marked in the footprints of our lives?


Feelings Never Lost

I am a great believer of things happening for a reason, especially when it comes to other people in our lives. Who we meet, who we befriend, who we trust, and who we don’t, they all play some part in our lives, like tiny pieces of a mosaic making the bigger picture. And sometimes those feelings you have for a person don’t really ever go away.

I’m not talking purely romantic feelings here, I mean friendships too. I went to University purely for two reasons. Firstly, I was bored. I just split up with a long term boyfriend and moved back in with my parents. There, in the middle of nowhere, I found I was horrendously bored. Life wasn’t going forward, I felt like I was being dragged backwards. Secondly, I needed to meet new people. Having moved around a lot in my childhood I get feelings of wanderlust every now and again. I don’t think I could ever properly settle anywhere because of it. I took the leap of faith into the wide unknown, and was caught by the open arms of the University of Winchester. There I met some of the most wonderful people I am ever likely to meet.

First year hailed the dawning of the Core Four. Myself and three amazing and totally different guys made up this group of tight knit friends. There are a million stories here that fill the gaps but in the end we drifted, and it was pretty much solely my fault. Happily now I have forgiven myself for it, and making amends as much as possible. But that’s what got me thinking about this subject in the first place. It’s been almost five years since first year at uni, yet the Core Four are in some way always with me. They were the first friend circle I properly belonged to. If I was in trouble or feeling down, I could count on each one of them to be there for me, as I would always be there for them. When I make friends, and even make romantic connections, I feel as though a part of me will be with them, and they with me. Nobody who I have ever befriended has truly left me. I carry the love, the scars, the good times and the bad, all of them, I carry them with me for each one. Sometimes thoughts will flutter back to a moment, a scent, a touch that ignites pain of not seeing them as I did then. A bitter-sweet loss can overcome me. All the hours spent laughing, all the cuddles shared, did it amount to nothing?

There are so many friends I have made in my twenty-five years on this planet (though as a baby, I’m sure most of those friends were of the plushy variety) and yet only a few remain what I would call friends. If I could, I’d spend more time with my oldest friend Kylie. I have known her since we were roughly nine years old. She is now married and has a beautiful daughter April. Although I’m sure if we lived closer together we’d see each other all the time like we used to, we have remained friends to this very day, despite living over three hundred miles apart. And then there are those friends who live the next town over, a mere twenty minutes on the train, who I feel are slipping away from me.

Having spent so many years making friendships and fostering them to flourish, I am both guarded and yet desperate to make connections. They say you’ll know who your true friends are at the end. But when is the end? The end of uni saw the Core Four split and withered. Five years from the day we all met, we’re talking again. Slowly. It’s as if we lived in a grand house but slowly moved out, leaving nothing but the golden chandeliers of our love dim in the dark, only now reopening the door to let the sun back in. Are all our friendships like this? Are some houses left to diminish into dust? Or do they all stand there patiently waiting, hoping one day we’ll realise that time we had was too precious to see abandoned?

Whatever the outcomes of all the friends I have ever made, my feelings for them will never be lost. And I hope the feelings they once had for me never fade too.

The Rights and Mine

For a conversation held over a cup of tea, this one may come across as a bit heavy. As you may well know, I am very passionate about environmental and animal conservation. But saying I’m passionate and showing I’m passionate are two sides of the same coin.

There is, of course, a huge problem in the rights I believe in. I believe animals should be treated with the same safety, respect and kindness as children, as humans. Do I actively participate in protests? No. Do I write letters to companies, big or small, and suggest they change their ways to better help the environment? No. So how can I say I am passionate if I don’t do anything about it? The problem I was referring to is sometimes it’s just not that simple. Yes I could pick up a sign and protest about labs testing on animals, but the problem isn’t with them, it’s with me.

I physically cannot protest, I cannot volunteer with my local shelter or RSPCA branch. The problem is my anger. I get so disgusted at how some humans can abuse animals, I can go into what’s known as a blind rage. And I’m not talking about stamping my feet on the ground, or even shouting loudly. I mean I am actually scared of what I could do to another human being if I ever saw harm being done to an animal. How do I know this? I had one run in.

Way back when I lived in Ellon, Scotland, I went to a great local academy, a public school. I absolutely loved my time there and, if I ever have children, am bringing up my kids there without a doubt. I had great grades, and fantastic friends. Sure I was bullied for being foreign, for having a big nose, and for generally being not as pretty as my best friend (who remains to this day a very dear friend indeed). One day, around lunch time, I saw a seagull picking about at one of the bins on school property. Normally, we wouldn’t pay much attention to this kind of behaviour, seagulls are scavengers anyway. But not this time. Something was off.

I felt it first, there was a heavy air that day. Then I heard it, the shouts of the three boys in a year below me. ‘Disgusting bird!’ one shouted loudly, ‘Take this!’ He threw a stone and it hit the gull. His two buddies laughed, and looked around for other stones. I wanted to pass this scene and ignore it, thinking the bird isn’t that stupid, it’ll simply fly away. But it didn’t. Not because it was stupid, but because of what happened next. One of the boys had picked up a large stone, and chucked it square at the gull’s head. Blood dribbled down it’s neck as it fumbled around, disoriented. Its wings were wide, trying to steady itself. Then it went dark.

I have no idea how it happened and, as clichéd as it sounds I swear it to be completely true, the next thing I know, I’ve pinned the kid down onto the ground. It was like I had come out of a bad dream, only the other way around. I punched him in the face, once, twice, three times, it kept going, like a barrage, a never ending volley of fists as my rage took it out on him. Where the other two boys were I can’t remember. I only recall the blood on my fists, on his face, down his nose, as I pummelled this boy senseless. The janitor pulled me off, I was still kicking and screaming at him, and couldn’t be calmed.

They locked me in a small music room until the headteacher came to see me. Needless to say nobody was impressed with my behaviour. Either a science or English teacher, plus the janitor, were all present as they sat me down and explained how that kind of behaviour would not be tolerated. I got detention but I’m still to this day gob-smacked my parents weren’t called in immediately. All three boys got detention too, but not on the same day as me. I wonder why.

I’ve never been to anger management because I never really had problems with it. I was a very unruly teenager (moving house when in your mid-teens is not a good idea) but I was never in any other fights as serious as that.

Despite the incident, I am still determined to do the best I can for animal rights, but especially marine conservation. I aim to do a lot of diving, and become a marine biologist in a localised area (Koh Tao, I’m looking at you here). Since I was a little girl I was always interested in animals, and always will be. I just know that, realistically, I can’t do the same as those brave protesters, the ones who put their neck on the line to stand up for animal rights, the officers of the RSCPA and other charities who go round to calls of abuse and rescue animals in need. I wish I could be like you, but I know myself and that’s something I can’t do.

The Doomed Ring

Several years ago I was addicted to online gaming, in particular Ragnarok Online, PristonTale, and FlyFF. But then one came along that would blow my socks off. No, it wasn’t the all consuming and powerful World of Warcraft, it was a beast of a completely different nature. By tugging on my childhood heartstrings, by going back to my best loved film trilogy, Lord of the Rings Online exploded onto my screen. Like a bad romance, I knew it would be doomed from the start. The only problem is I didn’t want to ever believe it would get as bad as it did.

The honeymoon period was incredible. My favourite go-to race, Elves, were present, but with more customisation than I thought would be possible. Elf? From Rivendell or Lorien? Oh back up there, pointy ears, you can choose from four origins. No two characters would ever be the exact same, and I relished in this. My most beloved character was Kisa, a lore-master, human. With short hair, freckles, little flicked up nose, and a huge bear at her side, she was the absolute bee’s knees in my eyes. Kisa trained to be a Scholar; a crafting vocation where you find broken pots, pitchers, urns, and collect ancient texts, tablets, then transform the knowledge into battle scrolls, or other useful buffs, dyes and paints. I was addicted. I remember shouting to my boyfriend at the time, ‘I can’t do that right now, I’m hunting for pot!’ I dread to think what the neighbours thought.

But years went by and I lost my touch with LotRO. I forgot about Kisa, the bear, the pot. My addiction had subsided and I had moved on to a different game. It wasn’t until six months ago I returned to the land of the free. And that is exactly why I didn’t want to go back; it had become free-to-play. If you have played online games, you’ll understand why I didn’t want to go to a dumbed down version of a once beloved game. My memories of the game, if I go back would it be as good? I was to find out.

I missed migration. I completely missed the opportunity to save my account. I tried signing in, but nothing happened. Once I got in to contact with Turbine, I realised it wasn’t there any more. Kisa, the bear, gone. My gold, my items, everything, lost forever. Well, there was only one thing left to do! Start again! I don’t mind doing that since I was so in love with the game. But I underestimated just how much it had changed from vanilla to free-to-play. I’m sure it’s just a few tweaks. I was oh so wrong.

It was like stepping out of a bubble onto an alien planet you once belonged to in a past life. There was something familiar about the place but everything was wrong. Very wrong. I convinced myself to pay for one month, this month, to see if I can rekindle my love for the game. Creating my character, another lore-master, took mere minutes. I knew what I wanted, I knew where I wanted her to go, and how to play. And yes, I wanted her to be a Scholar. It started out fine, I remembered what the keys did like it was only yesterday I had stopped. I played for two days straight. It wasn’t until the second day I stumbled back upon the housing market. Yes, in the game you can own your very own house. I decided to scope out a little village to see what the houses were like. Sure I couldn’t afford any, but it’s window shopping. I have never been so depressed while window shopping.

The houses were empty, cold shells of their former glory. Banners of battles won waved in the gardens of homes of other players. But you couldn’t gain access. The most common reason? Players didn’t pay upkeep on their homes any more. How do you pay upkeep? By playing. House after house, none of them let me look around. I walked around this ghost town, thinking it was the only village to be like this. I was wrong. Village after village, house after house, it dawned on me; I’m the only one here. I began to panic, what about my crafting?

I only craft to make insane amounts of money to fund my expeditions to farm for extremely rare loot (I’m the biggest treasure hunter ever). I checked my mail box and sure enough; full. Not full of money, full of the ingredients I had put up for sale. None of it sold. I was truly alone.

I remember the early days when a great number of people played, when the Shire was full of dwarves, men, elves, all helping each other, going off on adventures, banding together in fellowships. There was a soul to Bree, where people with flutes, lutes, clarinets and drums would come together and play their music, turning modern classics into acoustic gems. None of it remained. As I walk the roads of Middle Earth, I feel alone. Not even killing goblins lifts my spirits. One month is all I’ll need. One month is all I can take, before the four walls close in on me and I start talking to my shadow for lack of online contact.

Whatever happened to LotRO? Whatever happened to the merry players? Is it just my server? Or have the black gates finally closed on this once loved mmorpg?

Personally, I have always found the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ one of the most difficult questions to answer. My passions and interests vary. Like blowing bubbles, I have so many different ideas of what I’d like to do with my time that I simply cannot focus on one alone. I have heard that not knowing at all is worse, I feel like I am no better off than someone who has absolutely no clue; after all, how different are we really?

Growing up I was taken with Ancient Egypt. The myths, the gods, the stories, the magic. All wonderfully intoxicating for a young girl with a vivid imagination. I took to the PC game Pharaoh like a duck to water, having my favourite goddess; Bast, goddess of the home and fertility. But after a long while, I lost the drive for it. Where can I really go in terms of a career? I’d be stuck in a museum for the rest of my life, almost as if becoming wooden and part of the sculptures there. That wasn’t for me. After a lot of um-ing and ah-ing, I gave up pursuing a career properly in any field.

There are several reasons to this. Firstly, I have never done things by the book. If there was a way to make it hard for myself, I’d take the more complicated route (more on this later). Secondly, I watched my dad progress all my life. His career was huge. He worked his way up from the very bottom to the very top. But he travelled a lot, missed a couple birthdays and Christmases. That, of course, is no excuse for me to disregard a successful career (especially since I am in no hurry to start a family myself), but it is a reason. Lastly, I have never been able to pin point exactly what I wanted to do. My strengths lie in talking to people, engaging with their interests, and of course  retail fits that description down to a tee. Do I enjoy it? I have a great little part time job with Osprey London at the moment. Yes, I enjoy this job, but not retail overall.

But I must have some inclination of what I want to do with my life… right? For now, yes. Roughly eight years ago, my family and I went on our last big holiday before my brother went to University. Here, we were introduced to an activity my dad had loved for years; Scuba-diving. I was quite anxious, all that gear looked very intimidating and let’s not forget I am a rather petite girl, even now. My brother and I were to go through our PADI Discover scuba-diving lesson, my first real taste of what my dad was always so passionate about. I had done snorkelling and indeed found it incredibly fun (though I always get water in my snorkel!). The experience of scuba diving was immense. With all the gear on, I was lowered into the water. The diving instructor took the top of my BCD and said we’d just go for a snorkel like paddle around the lake. Only one slight problem; I was enjoying myself way too much. I began kicking down, following this curious little fish I had never seen before, under the decking where the rest of my family were waiting. I swam what I believed to be at a slow and steady pace. I kept feeling little sharp pulls at the BCD but didn’t think much of it. I don’t remember stopping the session, but I do remember how the instructor laughed, along with my family. Apparently I was so entranced by the new world I had been introduced to, that the poor instructor, who had no BCD on of his own as he was only holding the top of mine, was trying desperately to keep his head above water as I swam happily along. And fast.

I always pictured it to be something like that!

Unfortunately for me, I was unable to progress to my PADI Open Water as my ears wouldn’t pop on the day. Despite that being the only time I had ever experienced scuba-diving, it has been one of the most vivid memories of mine to date. I never thought about it as a career, and truly I couldn’t do something like that 24/7… surely. I continued my education, and thought I could pursue a career in writing, in particular script writing. I found it came very naturally to me, and my confidence grew. But in the background, something was lingering that I couldn’t quite place my finger on. Then the BBC released the incredible documentary series the Blue Planet. Underwater videography. Of course! It all fell into place! I caught myself saying, ‘Even if the shot is only three seconds long, I would love to one day be able to be part of something like this and say with pride ‘I shot that!” But I was studying BA Creative Writing. Sure I studied Media Studies at A Level, but not Biology.

And that is why, after much soul searching, I am going to attempt to make a difference. I’m taking my education into my own hands. Currently I am enquiring at colleges all over the UK about a foundation course in Marine Ecology and Conservation. I don’t just want to dive, I want to make a difference. Even if all I do is raise awareness for a small ecosystem, even if I cut the netting and free a turtle or seal, even if all I do is help grow coral, I’ll have made a difference to one life on this planet. To collect data, to research the affects of global warming, over-fishing, and to dive at the same time, it would truly be the most fantastic thing I can think of doing with my life.

Sure I studied the wrong subjects, sure I went to uni and studied the wrong degree, but like I said before, I never make it easy for myself. I may be turning 25 and have no proper career to my name yet, but it is never too late to change your stripes, to change your luck, to take control and show those who may say ‘You’ll never get a career out of that!’ that yes, yes I can. I’ll show you, but most importantly I’ll show myself.

If you can’t think of anything you want to do with your life, don’t worry. There are people who live their whole lives not knowing what to do, but the most important thing is that you are happy. Yes I work part time, but I work with some of the best people I have ever met. Yes, I made bad decisions in my past, but that’s not where I am living; I live in the now, thinking of the future, changing the stars so I can have the future I deserve.

Where Have I Been?

I’ve been out of writing action for almost four whole months! Shockingly bad of me, but what can I say? Life got in the way.

I started a new job, got a new place with my partner, and am looking into going back to education. I’m celebrating my 25th birthday on May 16th, and having a full week off to relax and unwind. I’ve barely had time for tea! I know, it’s totally shocking.

I will be keeping this blog post very short, just as more of an update than anything with content. But please bear with me as I have lots to discuss, include a radical career change I have been wanting to do since I family holiday that changed my life.

In the meantime, thanks for reading, and let’s have tea together soon.

When Cinema Kicks My Butt

Despite not having yet seen the film, I saw the trailer of a ground-breaking movie back in late October last year (I can say last year now and not think it was yesterday!) and am utterly hooked until it comes out. The film? Cloud Atlas. I am a massive fan of cinema, especially when it comes to setting new boundaries. The Matrix is always to go-to for any word on cinematic history and of course it deserves all its praise. But that was over 10 years ago. What could cinema possibly have up its sleeve now?

To answer that, I’d like to take you back a few years when I was at University still. I had heard of the film Inception but had no idea how much it would influence not only my writing, but my life (perhaps not as dramatic as you may think though). In interviews, director Christopher Nolan admitted his previous films were all practise for his trump card Inception. Practise? Are you sure? Batman The Dark Knight Rises was just practise? Surely not! But it was indeed so, and then Inception was birthed. I remember vividly seeing it for the first time at the IMAX in Southampton. I was utterly bewitched and the ending blew me away. I couldn’t remember the last time cinema had such a profound effect on me, so I went back, again and again, to see if I had missed anything; a small detail perhaps that would unlock its mystery. What I found was even more incredible.

Spoiler alert for those who don’t know the ending of Inception: It didn’t matter. The ending did not matter. This is what probably confused a lot of viewers and, ultimately, put them off. But I found it even more intoxicating. It didn’t matter? How can an ending not even matter? The whole story revolves around Dom Cobb, and throughout we see how tortured he is about leaving his children behind. When we hit the finale and see the kids’ faces brighten up that dad is back, the camera leaves the happy reunion and focusses on the spinning top. Before we can see if this is real or not, the film cuts out and ends! So was it real? Was it a dream within a million other dreams? Simple answer: It doesn’t matter. Why? Because Cobb’s story arch is complete. He believes it to be real, so we have to accept it as reality too. Have to? Well think of it this way, in our own lives, in our own world, we perceive it to be real. But what is reality anyway and how can you prove it? Thinking of the Matrix again? Yep. It simply doesn’t matter.

Cloud Atlas is proving to be another one of those films, where audiences will laugh, love, cry, and go through a roller-coaster ride of emotions until, at the bitter end, when we see how everything and everyone is connected, we accept the lessons and leave the cinema feeling inspired, elated, perhaps even thoughtful. I got the vibe straight away from the trailer, and with such an all star cast, I had to read the book first. I am a mere two thirds of the way through and it is fast becoming my favourite book of all time. The complexities of writing, how the author willingly chose to stick his middle finger up to the world of literary and say ‘This is how I want to present my book! Screw you and your prose-has-to-be-THIS-way nonsense!’ And hats off to you, David Mitchell!

For me, spotting the twist in the plot comes easily, and I am already pretty aware of how all the stories will end, and for that reason I am incredibly excited about the film coming out here in the UK in February. If the author pushed the boundaries, I’m certain it will translate to screen in a similar way. Here’s hoping!

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