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30 November 2014 @ 04:06 pm
So as November slowly disappears, so does my motivation to do anything. I have a whole load of work to finish for next week and I've spent the last few hours sitting in bed, working through it veryyyy slowly, while getting distracted by Facebook/ Youtube/ music/ ANYTHING that stops me getting on and finishing. I'm usually pretty good with making procrastination take a back seat but not today!!

I blame what's going on next door. My elderly neighbour passed away about a year ago and a property developer bought his house. Since then, I've been subjected to constant drilling, hammering, fires being started and general noise every single weekend. The builders are friendly enough but they have virtually no consideration and they think nothing of speaking REALLY loudly (with every other word being a swear word) to each other. So as well as the building work, I can hear everything they say, even when I'm inside. It's driving me crazy; last night I couldn't sleep until past midnight only to be woken up at 8AM by an obscenely loud BLOWTORCH of all things. On a SUNDAY!? I wish they would come during the week while I'm at work but no, they save it all up for the weekend so I have to put up with it on my only days off... -_-
Still, they must be almost finished by now. They've stuck a very poorly-built bathroom and loft extension onto the house so surely they can't do much more. I do feel sorry for the poor person who buys that house though...their building work isn't exactly top quality and I expect it will fall down within a few years.

Apart from getting annoyed at builders and working, I haven't been up to a great deal. Yesterday I went to look at a new car because I was thinking of upgrading my old one (I've had it about 3 years now and it's about 5 years old altogether.) The one I saw was LOVELY, it was shiny and new and had parking sensors, heated mirrors, a built-in Ipod system and I wanted it soooo much...but I came home and had a word with myself and decided I couldn't justify spending almost £10, 000 on a new car when mine works perfectly fine. As I was lying in bed this morning, cursing the builders, I decided that the real reason I wanted the new car was because of the parking sensors. So why not have parking sensors installed on mine? It works out at under £200 which is much cheaper than getting a whole new car. I found a site called Dolphin which even makes them in a colour that would blend it with my car so this is what I've decided :D so I don't get in a hideous amount of debt and still have a happy ending.

I suppose I should get on with my work now (this update is yet another thinly-veiled attempt to procrastinate haha) but I will post again soon. Really looking forward to Christmas and I've done half of my Christmas shopping already *super organised for once*. Have an enjoyable evening everyone :)
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: The Killers
27 August 2014 @ 12:17 pm
Today I woke up at 11 after not sleeping for most of the night. This was partly due to me being anxious about things and my brain refusing to sleep when I tried. Another reason was that I wanted to finish a book I've been reading and that did keep me awake for a while because I couldn't put it down.

The book is called Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and although I haven't finished it, it's the best book I've read in ages. According to my Kindle app, I've read 80% it in the space of a few days. That hasn't happened in a while because most books don't keep me reading the way this one has.

The plot is very dark and disturbing at times. It's about the main character trying to find out who really murdered her family when she was a child. When she was 7, her sisters and mother were all brutally murdered in the middle of the night and Satanic symbols were left on the walls by the killer. The murders were blamed on her older brother because he had a history of being interested in Devil worship but she was never sure if he really did it. There are lots of different sub plots and characters and I still haven't found out who did it, but it has been a really good read so far. If you like stories that are sinister, mysterious and disturbing, you'll like this. The author also wrote Gone Girl, which I liked (it's being made into a film which I look forward to seeing.) Dark Places has also been made into a film, but there is no trailer or release date yet.

I will now leave you with some gifs of Henry Cavill's ice bucket challenge. For hotness purposes.

21 August 2014 @ 04:16 pm
Afternoon everyone. This morning I began the slow process of tidying my house and sorting out stuff for work. It is a VERY slow process though, as I keep getting distracted by playing Caesar IV (which I have recently got into after being inspired by my recent trip to Rome, which I will write about when I have more time.)

Anyway, yesterday I went to see Les Misérables in London's West End. As someone who is a huge fan of musical theatre in general, this was something I'd been looking forward to for ages. Up until then, I had seen nearly all of the West End musicals and 'Les Mis' was the only big one I'd missed out on. I'm not sure why it's passed me by up until now; I think it's a case of real life getting in the way. I saw the recent film adaptation (starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe) and fell in love with the story, even though the vocals left a lot to be desired when compared with the professional West End stars. I became mildly obsessed with the soundtrack, the characters, the beauty of the lyrics and the inspiring music. So it was only natural that I received tickets to the stage show for my birthday in June - without even hinting either.

It was an amazing show. Les Mis touches you in the way that other musicals can't. Each character is so deep, their emotions seem real and their motivations are believable. I can recognise people I've met in modern times who reflect each characters. I've met sad drifters like Fantine, hopeful idealists like Marius and lonely girls suffering from a case of unrequited love like Eponine. It is timeless and the songs are beautifully written. While watching it yesterday (and listening to the quiet tears of the people in the row behind me) I realised that there are so many points in the story that inspire emotion.

Spoilers ahead if you don't know the storyCollapse )

Obviously there are many more sad moments but those are the ones that affected me the most. It is such a great musical though and I would definitely recommend seeing it if you have the chance. If you can't make it to London to see the show, check out the film. It's on Sky Movies now and it is OK (even though certain people can't sing) ;)

To finish, here is another of my favourite songs from the musical. Just because!

Hope you are all well. Stay happy!
Current Music: Les Mis soundtrack
31 July 2014 @ 04:38 pm
The other day, while doing my usual procrastinating browsing online, I came across a discussion about Introversion and how it is viewed in Western society. As I consider myself more of an introvert than an extrovert, I read this with interest and followed a link to this talk by Susan Cain. If you don't have enough time to watch the video, you can read the transcript here

I really identify with what she says here, particularly about an introverted, quiet personality being mistaken for shyness. This used to drive me crazy as a child. Much like this speaker, I was the kind of child who loved reading and was just as happy spending time in solitude than I was out playing with others. I had close friends but sometimes I preferred my own time alone. My nan often asked me why I was 'so shy' and teachers used to complain on my school reports that I didn't speak out enough in class. I've never been that person that talks constantly and enjoys the sound of their own voice. I always preferred (and still do) to listen to the discussion and follow what was going on rather than share my own opinions all the time. And I still don't think there's anything wrong with that. Just because someone is listening rather than speaking, it doesn't mean they're not fully engaged in what's happening. I didn't have my hand up during all the discussions but I didn't perform badly in school either. I left with As and Bs, so I must have been doing something right.

Ironically, I went into a job that you would expect an introvert to avoid: teaching. A job that involves standing up in front of crowds of people, talking all day. It wasn't easy and people thought I couldn't do it before I'd even started. When I bumped into one of my old teachers and he asked me what field of work I was in, his response reflected society's closed-mindedness: "Really? You were always so quiet, you're the last person I would have expected to teach." It's sad that a teacher dismissed a quiet student in that way. Now, as a teacher myself, I make an effort not to overlook those quiet children who prefer to listen and do their own thing. I'm glad I've done that too, as some of them have even come out of their shells and surprised themselves. We need more people to realise that being an extrovert is not necessarily the only way to be successful.

As a society, I think that's what we need to improve. Extroverts have their place, of course, but so do introverts and I feel sad that children are still being raised to think that they're doing something wrong just by being the way they are. I think it's a travesty that some children are being criticised in schools for being quiet and reflective, and that others are trying to change them. If I wasn't an introvert, I doubt I would be able to sit for long periods and write the way I do. I doubt I would be able to reflect so well on what I do in my job. Most well-known writers, poets and artists were/are introverts. Where would we be without the quiet energy of those kinds of personalities?

If I want to speak out and say something, I will - being introverted doesn't change that. There are several examples in that video that show how some of the most famous people in history are introverts, and perhaps they didn't enjoy being in the spotlight as much as an extrovert would, but they still got up there and said what they needed to. I can be very social in the right setting, but there comes a point when I need to be alone. The world needs all sorts of people and I hope that in the future, we begin to realise this a little more.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
It still amazes me how I can feel so tired after a day doing not very much at all. It's only just 6pm and I feel like I could curl up and sleep until morning. Seriously, all I have done today is go for a meal for my Mum's birthday and then sit around writing and planning work stuff for next week. Yet I feel exhausted. Bizarre...

I have been reading a lot about Psychology recently as that's one of my secret-geek interests. I used to have a subscription to Psychology magazine (not even kidding) but when that ran out, I just started reading articles online. One in particular about perfectionism interested me; it mentioned how being a perfectionist can impact on your life in a negative way and how it's unhealthy to want everything to be perfect all the time. It also had a list of perfectionist traits. Now, I never used to believe I was a perfectionist, I just thought I had high expectations of things. I thought most people were like that. But reading this has made me realise that maybe I need to change.

Sometimes I can spend hours on work reports, creative projects, academic things etc. because I always think they could be improved. I can stay up until midnight preparing PowerPoints for work because they 'could be better'. I find myself doing ridiculous things like changing the font slightly and moving images to different places. It bothers me if pictures in a presentation don't 'look right' - this drives my colleagues crazy if we're working on a presentation together. They watch, getting more and more bored, while I move pictures around on Powerpoint until I think they are lined up perfectly and look good. I even choreographed a dance routine differently for the school play because I wanted the dancers to be placed symmetrically. I think I have a problem.

Similarly, little things really irritate me. If someone uses bad English (lose or loose, anyone?), if someone eats really loudly, if there are typos in something I've done...it's particularly bad if I've done something wrong because I can dwell on it for days. Recently I've noticed I have constant anxiety about things that need to be done and sometimes I can't sleep because of it. Sometimes I won't even start things and (ironically) will procrastinate for ages because I think I can't do it perfectly or it's not the 'right time'. I swear I would have finished so many novels I've started if I wasn't always over thinking things.

To be honest, it's grown worse with age. I was a bit like this as a teenager but I did accept that I wasn't going to do well at everything. Since I've been in a career where everything is goal-orientated, I'm always trying to make things better. I used to think this was a good thing (to an extent, it is) but the sense of failure when I don't achieve something I was aiming for really affects me. I can feel down for days if something doesn't go well and there are some things I don't think I will ever get over.

So my new goal is to trying and enjoy the journey to the goal and stop thinking about the end result. It's ok if things occasionally go wrong because no one will die (hopefully.) Goal for this evening: to stay awake and productive until at least 9pm ;)
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: G-Eazy - I Mean It
24 May 2014 @ 03:16 pm
Rainy afternoons lead to lots of creativity, for me anyway. The weather has been quite unpredictable today, so I decided to stay in. I'm now sat in my room listening to the rain fall outside and feeling quite cosy.

We are hopefully moving soon so I've been sorting through years of old stuff. I found loads of short stories I wrote as a teenager, including what some of you may remember as 'Three Billion Miles Away', a story I wrote at the age of about 14. I've decided to work on that and try to re-write it into a novel. Of course, it needs a lot of tweaking; my writing was a lot less structured when I was 14 and I have been changing lots of things about the plot. I do think it has potential though and I really enjoyed writing it the first time. Very excited about how that will end up. I am hoping I can make it a series of novels as that's something I've always wanted to do.

I still have to finish the other project I'm hoping will end up as a finished novel too. It's been in my head for about 5 years now and it's only this year I've started trying to get it written down on paper and plan exactly what happens. It makes the writing process a lot easier when you've been living with these characters inside your head for years. I am looking forward to it all finally coming together.

In other news, I've booked a trip to Paris in October which is very exciting! I've been to Paris in all of the other seasons but have never experienced a Parisian Autumn. It should be a quiet time of year too which will make visiting the famous landmarks easier with less queuing. I got the chance to practise my French on Friday; I had to call a goat farm and book an excursion for the end of year French trip in June. I'm not going (the trip is during my birthday week and I had things planned) but I liked being able to help them out. Also, I am very excited about the Libertines reunion. Looks like it will be a good Summer.

Hope you are all happy despite the questionable weather today. Enjoy your weekends :)
Current Mood: creativecreative
16 April 2014 @ 10:55 pm
Losing someone is a funny thing. One day they’re there as usual, the next they’re gone forever. Sometimes the loss is expected due to factors such as illness but sometimes it isn’t. I’ve experienced bereavement of both types but it was my Nan’s death in September 2012 that has affected my life the most and still does. It’s only recently I’ve acknowledged how much it affects me.
September 21st was my dad’s birthday and it was a Friday. He spent the morning with my Nan and Grandad at their house then later we ordered Chinese food and ate together. At around 6pm, I went out with friends and didn’t return until around 11pm. It was only when I arrived home and my mum was standing there in the front room, white-faced and anxious, that I realised something was wrong. She told me that my Nan had had a sudden heart attack on the way home from an evening out and was at the hospital. I know now that she played it down because she didn’t want to worry me. She explained that my dad was at the hospital and would phone with any news. I wandered into the kitchen, the same place where hours earlier we had been enjoying a meal and chatting, and tried to clear the fragmented thoughts going through my mind. Would she be OK? Perhaps naively, I was certain that she would be.

In my mind, my Nan was almost invincible. Although she was 78 years old, she seemed much younger. Right until her last day, she was full of life and energy and was the epitome of living life to the full. She went ‘up the club’ every Friday night to see her friends, she went to play Bingo with her best friend Lil on Mondays and Wednesdays and she was always calling with some opinion on whatever was going on in the news or within the family. We’d watch TV together a lot and she would ask me about which tattoos and piercings she should get (which did not impress my dad.) She was so strong that I was sure she’d get through this. I imagined her recovering and going to visit her. Perhaps we’d talk about how scary it was and I’d say something like “do you remember when you were really ill? That was a shock!” like other times when my Grandad had been seriously ill and we’d talk about how lucky he’d been.

As the days went by, first Saturday then Sunday, it slowly dawned on me that the situation was much worse than I had previously thought; I began to panic. She had been in a coma since the heart attack and the doctors were saying her brain was not showing any signs of life. On Sunday evening, the 23rd September, they made the decision to switch off her life support.
Her death completely blindsided me. I couldn’t believe what was happening; it felt like a surreal nightmare. I had the opportunity to see her in intensive care before they switched off the life support but I couldn’t do it. I was an emotional wreck and I didn’t want to remember her that way. I wanted to remember her how I’d last seen her, smiling and relaxed at her 60th wedding anniversary party just a few weeks earlier.

I cried for the whole of that evening. I had to go into work the next day and tell people what had happened. Some colleagues were sympathetic, some not so. I received comments such as “oh well, it’s just one of those things.” My head of department tried to arrange a lesson observation on me for the following week and told me to “get over it” when I explained that it maybe wasn’t the best time as I had lost a close family member. I soon learnt who was kind and who was hard-hearted. I was even told that I had to attend her funeral in the morning and be back by lunchtime; I politely told them where to stick this idea. In the end, I was given the whole day.

The funeral was strangely traumatic. I couldn’t accept that I was never going to see her again and I was still berating myself for missing chances to see her in the run up to her death because I was too busy with work. It made me hate the fact that my job is so demanding and definitely made me more cynical of my profession. They played two songs that I can’t listen to without feeling awful due to memories flooding back: “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “In My Life” by the Beatles.

It has now been over a year since I lost her and I still feel an empty, numb feeling. My anxiety has gone sky-high since her death. My worries are often irrational and usually revolve around someone close to me dying suddenly. I have been slowly having more depressive episodes too; days where I wake up and fail to see the point in anything. Some days I will not want to get out of bed or even speak to anyone and I am sure that relationships have suffered as result of this. I don’t know how long it takes to get over the death of a close relative – maybe you never do?

It’s funny how certain things trigger emotion. Silly things like seeing Cadbury’s Buttons Easter eggs in the supermarket make me feel sad inside (she used to buy me a Buttons egg every single Easter, it was her little gesture each year.) I see a programme that we used to love watching and feel sad, or I have to talk about her in past tense, or I do something and want to tell her about it - then remember I can’t tell her about anything ever again. My dad is definitely not over it and he isn’t even remotely like the person I knew two years ago. He is now a shell of himself: introverted, down, uninterested and irritable. Bereavement is like a black octopus with tentacles that reach into all areas of your life and you can never escape them.

I guess the point of this post is that grief is a journey that lasts a long time. I’ve had a particularly down day today and I’m not sleeping, so writing this down has been somewhat cathartic. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
16 March 2014 @ 09:21 pm
I've been thinking that it's the small things in life that make me happy recently. Here are some of those things:
- Running a hot bath and sitting in it while listening to good music
- Waking up to realise it's a Saturday and I can snuggle back under my duvet instead of getting up for work
- Spending time with my cat and having her snuggle against me and purr
- Walking Sidney the dog
- Sidney the dog being beyond pleased to see me when I come into the house after being out. (I never receive this much adoration from a human!)
- Writing and having a plot come together
- Discovering more about my characters
- Watching live Muse concerts on Youtube app on the TV with the sound bar on full blast.

There are more but I'm too tired to think of them now. I'm listening to Muse right now. If I could swap places with anyone on the planet, it would have to be Matthew Bellamy. I'm just so in awe of his talent - how can one person be so good at playing instruments, writing songs and singing? He is amazing. It's effortless to him.

I'd better be going - early start tomorrow.
27 January 2014 @ 06:07 pm
I'm so, so, so cold and I can't warm up. The heating has been off all day at work and people could actually see goosebumps on my arms where I was soooo frozen. I still can't warm up even though I have a heater and an electric blanket and I DISLIKE WINTER very much.
I love Summer and can't wait for warmer weather and sunshine and my birthday and the holidays. Everything seems better when it's sunny :)
Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: California Dreaming
29 December 2013 @ 06:38 pm
So, things are quite good at the moment.

I've had some time off over Christmas (no work until January 6th!!) so I've had time to do things I want to do. I wrote a short story today which I'm actually happy with and might enter for some writing competitions. I had a great weekend in London, during which I wandered around Covent Garden, did some random shopping in Oxford Street and saw Matilda the Musical which was brilliant.

I'm really enjoying the Roald Dahl inspired musicals which have sprung up recently. I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory back in September (which was hilarious) and it's hard to say which is better. Matilda is much darker, which I like. There are a lot of themes running through it, such as life not being what you expect it to be when you're young and facing up to bullies. It goes from being funny to sad to scary and the child actors are really talented. Tim Minchin wrote the musical score and the some of the songs are quite catchy. As I grew up reading Roald Dahl books, it's quite nostalgic to see these coming back.

I am now looking forward to New Years Eve (which always ends up being over hyped and over priced) but I'm still not sure what I'm doing yet. Hope everyone had a good Christmas :)