Growing up too quickly?

Hello! I’m back!

I missed my last week-or-so of posting because I was staying in my grandfather’s house, which has neither an internet connection nor a computer to write on. Shockingly, I did not die due a lack of screens (though I came close).

I love spending time at my grandfather’s house. He lives in a tiny little village in Somerset, on the farm he owns with my uncle. My uncle lives with his family in a house attached to my grandfather’s house, which used to be a mill.

My uncle has two daughters, Izzy and George. These are the cousins I grew up with, so I’m as close with them as I am with my mother and sister. However, because for the past few years I have only seen them for a week every couple of months, they seem to be growing up with the sped-up quality of a stop-motion animation. One minute, they’re begging a 12-year-old Tabitha not to turn into a grumpy teenager like her sister did (a phase she has now passed through and come out the other side of, thank heavens). The next minute George, the younger of the two, is about to turn 13 herself.

Despite being 12 years old, George is more similar to me than anyone I have ever met (though I hope that she is not too much like me – to see her develop mental health issues like I have over the years is just about the worst thing I could possibly imagine. Because of this, I may be slightly overprotective of her.) A regular mini-me, she loves rock music, sci-fi and horror movies, reading, camping, pretty much everything I love. I’m thrilled to call her my cousin.

George and another girl that lives in the village are at that odd age of both knowing and not-knowing when it comes to the facts of life. This means that at every given opportunity, they make giggling remarks like “that sounds dirty!” before arguing over whether or not it did sound dirty, and if so how it sounded dirty, and if not how it could be changed to make it sound dirty. More often than not, the things that they decide do sound dirty do not sound dirty at all, but I don’t really bother telling them that. Whatever makes them happy, right? It also means that my baby cousin, who is six years younger than me, has had more boyfriends than I have. That’s just depressing.

The downside of this fascination is, of course, when they get things right. On several occasions, they have appalled me with real dirty jokes. In some instances, they seem to have more knowledge on these subjects than I do (which I guess is unsurprising – “sex ed” in a tiny school in the middle of the Irish countryside is never going to be all-inclusive). It’s scary how these young girls can so quickly switch between making these references and pretending to teach their stuffed toys about multiplication and division.

(I’m taking a break here to go to Tesco to buy my student supper of baked beans and bread. Unimportant information, but there you have it.)

Izzy, on the other hand, is 15 years old and I have finally accepted that she is a teenager. It only took two years (well, almost 3)! She’s finally got through her early-teenage phase of obsessing over sex and “hot” boys, and has settled down into just being her. It’s great, because she’s one of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet. She jokes that she and her friends are all dreadfully immature, just running about and being silly rather than talking about boys and makeup and all of that stuff, but really I think that she’s very mature. Certainly, her mental age is higher than my own.

I can’t wait to go and visit them as soon as possible (though it could possibly be as late as July). The pair of them are growing up so quickly, I sometimes worry that they’ll soon be older than me. But through all the jokes and the boys and the worries that this and that and the other might be “dirty”, I can’t help but see them as the kids that I grew up with. 

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The Importance of Exercising your Zygomaticus Muscles

I’m a smiley person by nature. Unless I’m thinking about something particularly unhappy at the exact moment you look at me, regardless of what sort of day I am having, I will be smiling.

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Laughing, smiling or just passing gas?

I’m not a happy, floaty positivity blogger that believes in a one-size-fits-all solution for all problems ever. I don’t believe that if you have a cold, smiling and thinking about kittens will make it go away. Similarly, I don’t believe that if you’re not in the mood for smiling, forcing yourself to smile will change that in any way. If anything, you’ll feel even less like smiling because you’ll be angry at the injustice of having to smile when you don’t want to.

I do, however, feel that smiling for no particular reason does have its benefits. If I’m walking down a street and I see someone walking in the opposite direction, smiling uncontrollably, I will smile too. The fact that that total stranger is having a good day and feels like smiling will put me in a better mood too. And generally, when I’m walking down a street, I’m on my way to class. So I really appreciate that sort of pick-me-up. It makes sitting in a steamy room and talking about cultural capital in contemporary literature just that little bit more enjoyable.

Speaking of class, I have a fantastic lecturer for my skills module. His name is Malte Urban (I know, cool name, right?), and he’s the only member of staff in the School of English that I feel comfortable approaching with questions. You know why I can approach him? It’s because the second he sees someone approaching him, he beams at them like he’s having the best day of his life. It’s a though no matter who walks towards him, it’s always the exact person he wants to talk to. “What luck! This student whose name I am not entirely sure of wants to talk to me. This is the BEST DAY EVER.”

The positive impact of this way of regarding students makes me wonder whether I might have better luck with my education if every tutor smiled that much. I mean, I’m pretty sure that if my other tutors looked a little happier to see me, I wouldn’t have such a problem when it comes to taking part in tutorials. I might even have the guts to ask my context tutor what the devil this exam next moth entails, and as a result know what exactly I’m meant to be doing over this study period (or am I just meant to learn these seven novels off-by-heart? Yes? Okay.)

So what makes me smile? Well, pretty much everything.

Music makes me smile. Music makes me smile a lot. Which is a good thing, since I’m listening to it pretty much all the time (Right now, for instance, I’m listening to Royseven. Royseven makes me smile a lot). It doesn’t have to be overly happy music, pretty much any type of music works. If it has ridiculous lyrics, I’ll smile. If it has a happy little tune, I’ll smile. If it’s incredibly catchy, I’ll smile. If it has a lot of different parts that I have to replay and replay in order to take note of every last little note, I’ll smile. If it’s an old song that I listened to growing up, I’ll smile. If it’s a new song that I only just discovered, I’ll smile. Basically, if it has any qualities at all that allow it to be considered music, I will smile while I listen to it, and then I will play it over and over again until all of my neighbours hate me (J). Right now, my absolute favourite tracks are this and this and this (and this and this).

Cartoons make me smile. Right now, I’m a big fan of Adventure Time and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. I just find them hysterical, partially because of the outrageous nature of their story lines, but also because they also mirror the stupidity of pretty much every thought I have ever had.

Above all, it is the people in my life that make me smile, my family and my friends. And I like to think that sometimes, I make them smile too. If that is something I can achieve, I know that there is some point in my existence (and that makes me smile).

NaPoWriMo: When Minjung Slayed the Dragon

There was a town upon a hill
Where the trees were green and the lakes were still
And the people lived in peace until
There came a mighty dragon.

Then every night it came to burn –
The sight would make your stomach turn –
Every man who’d tried to learn
How to slay a dragon.

The villagers, tired of its claws,
Tried oh so hard to make it pause
But soon learned just how cruel it was:
It was a brutal dragon.

But in this village, thankfully,
There lived a girl named Minjung Lee
Who wanted to live peacefully
Without a fearsome dragon.

The elders, they began to laugh
When she offered to slay on their behalf
The beast that shrank their village by half
And went by the name of dragon.

So up she stood without a word
And chose a sharp and deadly sword
And her footsteps were never heard
By the smug old dragon.

So, at the dragon, Minjung rushed
And soon its treacly green blood gushed
For, at last, someone had hushed
The deadliest of dragons.

So now they sing in voices gay,
Though centuries pass, they always say
It was quite the most joyous day
When Minjung slayed the dragon.

This post was written as part of NaPoWriMo, but also for The Daily Post’s “Time for Poetry” writing challenge. Check them out!


> I’m very touched that this post was selected for Freshly Pressed – Thank you very much!

 

NaPoWriMo: Emeralds and Axinite

I often hear word of the emerald isle,
Of green shamrocks and four-leafed clovers,
And blue rivers that flow for mile after mile,
Grassy mounds with rainbows stretching over.

But each month I trek back to old Donegal –
To the land of wet mud and dry rushes,
Matted sheep here and there and trees ready to fall
And dead twigs sticking out of beige bushes.

So I know for sure all that’s gold doesn’t glisten,
The richest men are those with land to roam.
And green or not green, I just wish they would listen:
It may be brown, but to me it is home.

Technological Tragedies and Digital Disasters

This morning, I woke up and turned on my laptop to check my emails.

An hour later, after some successfully toaster-burnt toast, my laptop had finally installed enough updates to allow me to log in and check those emails (it wasn’t worth the wait – some suggestions of what to buy from Amazon and Upworthy’s most recent collection of feelgood twoddle were not exactly the heartfelt message from a long-lost relative I had been hoping for).

My current phone is the best phone I have ever owned. It is a £10 Nokia 100. I do not love this phone because it’s cheapness means that it isn’t the end of the world if it goes missing on a night out (though that is certainly an upside) or because I’m “keeping it real”. I love this phone because it does exactly what it says it will do. I can send and receive text messages. I can make phone calls. I can check the time and set an alarm to wake me up in the morning. I can even play “Snake” if I’m feeling particularly antisocial while I’m out and about. It doesn’t have wifi, it doesn’t have apps. It doesn’t even have a camera, but it is a great little piece of technology and I wouldn’t replace it for the world.

The problem, then, is not that technology has gone too far, nor is it that it has not come far enough. There are some amazing pieces of technology out there that do some pretty outstanding things. The problem is that a lot of the technology we have access to shoots too far and just isn’t quite there yet. I love my little Nokia because it lets me text and call, but if I had a swanky iPhone and all it could do was call and text I’d be pretty darned disappointed. And while smartphones are getting cheaper and more accessible, the cheapest smartphones are trying so hard to have functioning ‘apps’ that they quickly become slow and struggle to send so much as a single text message.

I guess this is just a cry to all of the developers of new technology out there. Please, please, please, instead of inventing some £1000 phone that rolls up into a ball and allows you to take photos of people from 3 miles away (or anything along those lines), why not just take a look at what we already have and try to make it so that it just does what it says it’ll do?

Oh, and while you’re at it, Windows 8 needs a little bit of work too 🙂

Yours exasperatedly,

Tx.


Sidenote: For the Blogging 101 ‘Zero to Hero’ challenge, I was meant to write an introduction to my blog or something about myself today. Unfortunately, I already wrote these when I started in March. If you want to see them (though I’m not sure why you would), my About Me is here and my Introduction is here!

Kayla

Shoulder blades like angels’ wings,

Each rib visible, each deathly,

She stands alone, frozen:

A spectre under flickering hospital lights.

 

Her once-beautiful smile

Turns to a painful grimace,

Her musical laugh now

A dry croak in the dark.

 

And as painful beauty turns to beautiful pain,

An abandoned stomach gives in,

Unfed lungs refuse to fill,

And a weakened heartbeat ceases.

 

15 is too young to die.


More NaPoWriMo:

  1. The air thickens with bird song | diffidence that faltered
  2. A “On Writing” Sonnet | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  3. Some Questions From Facebook | The Tower of Babble
  4. Alliteration Apocalypse | Seasick For Thirty Days
  5. Slowly | lightning stones
  6. I’m grateful for the dark. | Life’s little mercies
  7. Ode from a Cult Member | rhythm’s nest
  8. Springtime in the City | The Jump
  9. Names I’ve Been Called | Men$aBlondEsq
  10. Question Time | Jake Reynolds

On Issues of Gender

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This is me, right now, in prime blogging position. As you can probably tell, I’m a girl. I was born a girl. I grew up a girl. I have always been a girl. Why would I ever question it?

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The problem is that I don’t think, act or dress like a girl…

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… And I never have.

This fact worried me a lot when I was younger, say, in my early teens. I was worried that maybe I was transgender – a boy stuck in a girl’s body – and while this is something I have no problem with in other people, I don’t think it is something I could have handled myself. Certainly, it is not something my family would have been accepting of, which is an awful shame considering it’s 2014. 

But the plot thickens, as I’m pretty damn sure I’m not a boy. At least, I’m no more a boy than I am a girl. The realisation that I didn’t fit into either gender bracket perhaps hit me even harder than the thought that I might be anything other than female. The confusion and unhappiness that came about as a result of my inability to relate to either grouping lasted until just a few weeks ago, when I stumbled upon this post. With a little bit of internet research, I discovered the definition of “androgyne” and realised that this is the closest anything has come to describing me. 

I don’t plan on openly identifying as an androgyne, but knowing that the gender identity exists and that there are other people like me has made me much, much happier in myself. I know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. My gender has had no effect on what subjects I chose in school, what I am studying at university or what I plan to do for a living when I have finished my degree. My gender has had no effect on the way I act or the people I hang out with. The only effect my gender has really had on my life is that period of darkness I experienced while I did not know what I was or what was “wrong” with me. For the sake of keeping things simple, though, I’m going to go ahead and continue publicly identifying as female because, frankly, I don’t have the balls to identify as anything else (pardon the pun). 

Gender is nothing more than a social construction, and a fairly destructive one at that. There is no reason that the fact that I’d rather wear a suit than a dress, or rather play video games than go shopping, should have thrown me into such a downward spiral. The way in which we are judged should not be based on which pronouns we use to describe ourselves, but on the way we act in regards to ourselves and others. I am not saying that gender identity should not exist. It’s a way for people to define and label themselves, and there’s nothing wrong with that. All I’m saying is that it shouldn’t matter. But it does.

I know that this is a fairly pointless ramble. I’ve achieved nothing by writing this, but I would have achieved even less (if that’s at all possible) by not writing it, so here it is. 

If you want to read more on this subject, check out CN Lester’s fantastic posts, Uncloseted’s “LGBTQ – RSTUV?” and this page on androgyny

Stay incredible!

Tx

Happy Birthday, Philip! (+ NaPoWriMo)

Another day, another birthday. It’s a busy week!

Yesterday, it was Philip’s birthday. We didn’t have a party, really, but at least part of the day was spent eating cake and flying a remote-controlled helicopter (Shannon got him the helicopter because she hates us all and wants us to suffer)!

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To explain Philip: He’s going out with Shannon, likes Doctor Who and is a ridiculous human being. He also has the bedroom next to mine, so he’s the one that’s most likely to be bothered by my music (sorry). Frankly, Philip was the person I expected to get on with least of all, because he struck me as a “sports guy” who didn’t really talk to anyone that much. And in part, I was right – he goes to the gym all the time, sometimes twice in a day, and stays in his room a lot of the time. But I was wrong about us not getting along, as he is now sort of like an older brother.

When I say he’s like a brother, I don’t mean he’s a super close friend, which is what most people seem to mean by that. What I mean is that we laugh and joke a lot, but we also take the piss out of each other a lot. And, of course, he also enjoys the Older Brother Traditions of wrestling me to the ground, throwing food at me or farting while standing directly in front of me. I guess those are just the perks of the role. 

So happy birthday, Simba! I hope you had a great day, and don’t break your helicopter too soon!

Tx


 

NaPoWriMo: Rows

One by one,
Standing in
Single file
We begin
Our marching.
The time has
Come to put
Our worries
Behind us
And do what
Must be done
Because now
The bell is
Ringing and
The man is
Shouting and
It is time
For us to
Learn how to
Count to ten.


 

More NaPoWriMo:

  1. Dreams of Fire | mcscriptor
  2. The Gaia Room | Voiceless Fricative
  3. Sky Diamonds | Salsachica’s Ramblings
  4. April the ‘Unlucky for Some’ Thirteenth | hangerfarmpoets
  5. The Bumblebee of ForgivenessSun/Son | Graceful Press Poetry
  6. No Ordinary Pub | piazzanewyorkcatcher
  7. Break It Down | Angela Hickman
  8. It’s a Life | Backwoods Walking
  9. The Sisters’ Room | Retirement Legs
  10. NaPoWriMo – Day 13 | Bob’s Blog-O-Rama

Happy birthday, Brian! (+NaPoWriMo)

It’s a birrrrrthday blog!

Yesterday, it was Brian’s birthday. Whoop whoop!

Celebrations for the big day actually took place on Tuesday, but I was still sick at that stage and didn’t get a chance to write about it. In any case, my little green book of blog topics dictated that I wasn’t to write about it until today anyway, so here we go!

The lead up to the celebrations was a little bit tense. Brian’s friends were all meant to come up, but cancelled. Then they un-cancelled. Then they cancelled again. Then, finally, they un-cancelled once and for all. Hurrah!

It was a little odd being in a room with Brian and his friends, because it was just like being in a room full of Brians. Irish accents floated from all directions. Mock-insults rained down like confetti. I always get a strange image in my head of lots of identical people in a little room walking into each other and bouncing off like the balls in one of the lotto machines. This was probably the closest I’d ever see (though, of course, they didn’t actually look at all alike).

Later, I was working in my room and Shannon came and got me to come out and chat to people over pre-drinks (even though I wasn’t going out with the rest of them). It was later revealed that Shannon then got in trouble for trying to kill me, as there were strangers in the kitchen and people were worried that I would have a nervous breakdown or something. So to clarify: I’m not like a new puppy who can’t help but pee itself when it gets overexcited. Yes, I get stressed out in social situations, but I do have the presence of mind to remove myself from these situations if needs be! Promise!

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Now seems to be as good a time as ever to say a few things about Brian. Brian is one of my many, many, many flatmates – there really are quite a few of us. You’ll meet the others as time goes on. However, of my several million flatmates, Brian is probably my best friend. We alternate between talking about serious things, talking absolute nonsense, and talking about serious things in a ridiculous way. He also seems to know when he should be helpful and understanding, and when he should just tell me to wise up. That’s important. (No rose-tinted spectacles here though – he can be a tiny bit aggravating every once in a while!)

So happy birthday, Brian! Try not to fall on your face!

Tx


 

NaPoWriMo: Tribute

My grandmother was not like others:

She wouldn’t confuse you with your brothers.

She didn’t spend her evenings knitting.

She wouldn’t waste a second sitting.

She wouldn’t let them perm her hair.

She had no doilies anywhere.

She never wore a floral dress.

Her room was always in a mess.

And her joy was not concealed

When she played rounders in the field

Or showed us how to cross our eyes

(or how to tell our mother lies).

So how do you honour one so rare,

Fantastical beyond compare?

Her headstone’s a rosebush with blooms in cream,

Her resting place a bubbling stream,

And for her distaste of unhappy times,

Her eulogy’s a nursery rhyme.


 

More NaPoWriMo:

  1. I Will Disappear in BostonMy Hometown | Coordinated Mayhem
  2. Replacement | A non-poet’s attempt at poetry
  3. Divine Transportation | Christian Poetry by Robert William Haddock
  4. PSA | Fine Things
  5. Keyboard warrior | Sarahflint’s Climbing Blog
  6. a poem for adrenaline | inktuition 
  7. NaPoWriMo April 12 | tigerprofessor
  8. A Fireplace Called Passion | chattinatti
  9. Joy springs | Finding the North Star
  10. Swings | by Julie Blue

Scared to leave the house

How safe do you feel right now?

Today, the sun is shining (well, as much as it ever does in Belfast), the air is cool and the streets are filled with people just living their own lives. I feel like I could take on the world right now, if doing so were to take my fancy. 

It’s strange, then, to think that just a few weeks ago I was too scared to leave my bedroom, let alone conquer the world. Everything was the same – the sun was shining, the people were equally dismissive of everyone else, same old same old – but I simply could not bring myself to talk to anyone. The result? I lived on cereal for a little over two weeks to avoid spending too much time in the kitchen with my flatmates. Worse still, for the second week I wouldn’t leave the flat at all. I missed a week of class because of an irrational fear of some unspecified event. 

As someone who struggles with anxiety, fear is something that controls much of my life. But I know that I am not alone. Even people who have no problems with anxiety or similar conditions are often controlled by fear. Of course, fear is natural. It keeps us safe by leading us to avoid dangerous situations. A fear of heights could prevent someone from dying by falling from a great height. A fear of spiders could keep you away from a poisonous spider which may bite you. A fear of enclosed spaces may stop you from getting into a situation where you could suffocate. You never know.

Fear, however, hinders more often than it helps. How many times have you (or someone you know) run out of the bathroom shrieking about a spider? In these events, how many times would the spider have been capable of causing any harm? And how many times has it been the person who wanted the spider removed that actually removed the spider? 

As I said, fear is fine and natural. I pass no judgement on anyone that has these irrational fears. After all, how could I?

I just find it sort of amusing that the “superior species” is one that is so strongly ruled by fear. We should work on that.