Effortless

Is it selfish to wish for things to be effortless? Who knows, but everyone is guilty of it. Of wishing for a bit of ease when times are hard. We’re only human after all. However, of late I’m discovering more and more that effortless requires effort. Sounds paradoxical, right? Yeah, it pretty much is. My point is that there is no such thing as effortless. All the issues I’ve been looking to ease up, to be a bit more effortless, they’ve required work. But it’s been work worth putting in. Hence my point: you want effortless? Put the hard work in now and ride the effort-free wave for a while. That’s life, you work to make it easier. Cause lets face it, money does make you happier. Especially when you don’t have any.

Though, for once, I’m not talking about money (yes, I’m still skint, let’s not get our hopes up here). I’m actually talking about my relationship. A position I am completely unprepared for and uneducated in. AKA, far from effortless. For a long time, I’ve believed relationships should be effortless. HA! So young, so innocent. I’m full of crap. Relationships are hard. But you know what they also are? Fucking great! (‘scuse my French). They are a prime example of putting the effort in. In this case, it was voicing my woes. I was terrified, but you know what they say, kids, communication is key. And it really is. You have to talk, talk about everything, talk about nothing, just keep talking. If you are having problems, having issues, having worries, talk! Because I guarantee you’ll feel better. I’m not promising a solution. In fact, I never found one, but I found a way to take a load off. One long conversation, some tears, but I felt so much better for it. For not feeling overwhelmed, like a big ass overflowing bottle of worries. I spoke, and I felt so much better.  I didn’t find a solution. Sometimes they don’t really exist. But most of the time, it’s just discussing your issues and your worries and you realising you are not having them all by yourself. Knowing that you are both having the same issues and worries actually makes you feel better. Know why? Cause you realise you’re both putting the effort in. Even when that effort is worry. You care about your relationship (as you should) and that’s enough. It’s enough to realise you give a damn and you want to keep giving a damn.

From there, ride that effortless happy relationship wave to the next tide. And you know what, you’ll remember the last one and the effort won’t seem so much as before. Shit happens, nothing is effortless, but it does get easier. You just gotta put the work in.

(And I gotta stop rambling and get back to putting some effort on my damn dissertation outline. Mamph out!)

Home

Written last night while cut-off from the word on a train travelling through the middle of nowhere.


I spend a lot of my life on trains. Reading, listening, gazing, or trying in vain to sleep. Trains are second nature to me. My home from home on the move. My home on the rails. As seen in my post about safe spaces, I like familiarity. It is comforting. The train I take home has never changed. I have been taking the same route, travelling on the same schedule, in the same carriage for almost a decade. I know most of the staff on sight and, sometimes,  even discuss the conductor’s university-age daughter when he is on shift. My train journeys are long, too long to be considered a commute. So when I travel, I set up shop, dedicating myself to that space for the next few hours. I’ve had adventures on this train. I’ve played poker with Russians, sang Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my voice, had a deep and intense three-hour conversation with a gentleman whose name I failed to learn, yet whose intelligence and presence has stuck with me always.

I don’t really have a point to this rambling. I think I’m just nostalgic. Is it possible to be nostalgic for the present? I think I miss home. I miss having a home. I always have a home to go to, but it’s not the same as being there. Living in halls is like living in limbo and, I think, retrospectively, it has been feeling like that for a while now. My future didn’t work out like I expected. I didn’t find home where I thought, probably naively, that I would. I still don’t have a home to be in. I have a home to go to, but not be in. I think that’s why I’m restless. Everything just now, and for many months to come yet, is leading to that point. To that person and that home. I have both now, and I cherish that more than I could possibly write, but I’m ready to settle. To stop having everything be up in the air. To plan the future, to plan adventures, together.

I’m ready to be home.

Rights

It’s funny. I was about the start this post with the statement ‘I’m not usually one to delve into politics,’ but that could not be truer. I don’t think a day has gone by since I stepped foot into my first university class that I haven’t had some political discussion or another.

I have always been one for fighting about rights. Voting rights, gender rights, anything that interests me, even if it doesn’t necessarily pertain to me. I’m a strong believer in using your voice whenever you can. In fact, when I started my masters, I didn’t realise just how well I would fit in. You may never find a more anarchistic advocacy group than librarians. Fighting for equal rights and open access to literature and education. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.

But anyways, the reason I bright all this up is because of Jamie Oliver. Weird, right? Yeah well, I agree. I saw a picture of him this morning, sitting in Parliment. Not where I expected to find him, but I was seriously happy to see him there. I have always been rather passive to his existence, as I am to most famous people who are not Neil Gaiman or Lin-Manuel Miranda. Or at least I have been since high school.

I was of the era that passed through high school during Jamie Oliver’s reign of terror on school lunches. Just in time to see cheeseburgers and coke give way to dry chicken filets and bland, greasy pasta pots. It was heartbreaking. I lived on ham rolls for almost 6 years (mostly as a way to avoid pasta bakes, mind you).

I was ignorant. I wasn’t thankful for my health. Thankful for the fact that at the age of 22 I am not obese, I do no have heart problems and I still retain all of my teeth. But I was a child. I wanted to eat crap. Hell, most days I still do, but at least age comes with some increase in self-control, however small.

My point is, my passive hate for Jamie Oliver has turned into immense gratitude. As well as being the generation to kiss goodbye to lunchtime cheeseburgers, I was also the generation who benefitted from free school meals. I grew up in a household with a single mother, trying to feed both myself and my steadily-declining-in-health grandmother, while attempting to finish her own education and work alongside everything else. My mother is a superhero. It’s something I still say now, as she works two jobs seven days a week in order to make her dreams come true and help me with mine. I am eternally grateful and deeply hopeful that I will soon be the position to pay her back in every way I can.

I wasn’t born or raised in poverty. I was lucky. I was fortunate. But I never quite understood how much of that was thanks to something as simple as free school lunches. As simple as £2.50 a day. Seems small right. Barely worth registering. It adds up though. You consider that, five days a week for the, what, thirty odd weeks of school a year. That’s £12.50 a week. That’s £375 a year! If you don’t think that is a lot of money, I am happy for you. Happy you have never had to consider that amount as a blip on your radar. Happy you have never had to consider that an amount like that could feed a family of four for 3 months. And it has.

So I want to say thank you. Thank you and I’m sorry, to Jamie Oliver. Sorry I took you for granted in my youth and thank you for defending the health and wellbeing rights of children all across the UK. I truly, deeply hope you and all those who oppose this absurd manifesto are successful.

Adventure

Adventure is good for the soul. I can vouch for this. My soul feels saited, my camera full and my mind finally focused.

In other words, I ran away to London over the weekend. Not for the first time either. Once during my undergraduate degree, I ended up on an overnight bus to London with less that four hours notice and several of my best friends. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made and this was just as fufilling.

I have a habit, neither bad nor good, because it leads to a soild serving of both in the end. I get ideas in my head. Ideas I just can’t shake. These ideas perculate and simmer until I have the entire prospect mentally planned and I just have to know if I can do it. London was one such idea. I can’t really explain it. It started as an opportunity to see one of my favourite poets perform live. It was happening the next day and I was a country over, but I wanted to make it happen.

Oddly enough though, in the space of a few hours the tickets had sold out, and I just didn’t mind. It should have bothered me more than it did, but I just wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted to take my boyfriend and do something carefree and spontaneous, and just deal with the concequences when they came. You have no idea how rare that is for me. Sometimes it’s just impossible to switch my brain off. I’m a realist. Every idea and thought is analysed for practical and likely outcomes, which are nine times out of ten negative. So to just not care, it’s so cathartic. To find that rare get-up-and-go that so often is just absent, it was just luxurious. The excitement. To go. To see. To share it. I needed it, so much.

Now, however, I need to get back to work. But it’s still there, in the background. That get-up-and-go. I’m motivated again, even in the smallest way, but it’s there. I found it again.

I’m reminded of a poem that Tia used to love. (Tia is my grandmother, but she’d whack you upside the head for calling her that and making her young soul feel so old). I just remember the one line, about this old woman reading obituaries just to double check she wasn’t in it.

“My get-up-and-go had got up and went”

Hopefully that’s a while down the line for me yet. Motivation is fleeting for me lately, but I know there are many adventures in my future, whether for a day or a life-time. So for now, I’m biding my time, working away during the lull between adventures. After all, that lull is life, and I want to enjoy every moment.


P.S. Keep an eye out for updates to my Photography from the Streets of London album. My new photos will be getting added as soon as I get the opportunity to edit them.

Progress

Job applications are done!

Well, they are complete for now. The are an inevitability in life, like death and taxes. Either way, they are off my to-do list for the present, which means back to my Python coding. I’ve been really enjoying learning how to code, but I am still worrying that learning the fundamentals will not be enough to help me understand how to build the kind of code I need for my dissertation. Though there is little I can do about that until I get the learning part over and done with. Then it’s another item off my to-do list. But first, tea!

…okay that was supposed to be the end but OWWWWW!!! I do not recommend chilli seaweed for breakfast or prior to your tea. Tis painful on the taste buds. It’s my own fault though. My roommate is a supreme cook and I love when she leaves us leftovers. Always spicy, but always amazing Chinese cooking. I would love to have the time to learn how to make proper Chinese cuisine, but for now, I’ll just continue enjoying her leftovers.  My dissertation is more important after all.

Comics

I have had the best morning!

I seem to be continuing my trend of ‘out of character early rises’, but today I had a valid excuse. IT’S FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!!!!!!

Ever since I first heard about Free Comic Book Day 6 years ago, I’ve never been able to attend. I’ve always been at work (or last year I was on a long-haul flight to Florida, so I’m hardly going to complain about that), but today is finally my day! Up at 6am, out at 7am, in Starbucks by 7.30am and the onto the queue! I officially have enough graphic reading material to last me about a year. It’s amazing and I cannot wait to dive in head first.

Okay, I have that out my system now. No…wait…EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I’m good now.

Also, I had a really important interview yesterday. I’ve been bouncing in anticipation ever since. I want this internship so badly. Even though I know it means I’ll be working double time on my dissertation, probably not sleeping (ha! Okay sleeping less at least), and I might even get to spend my partners birthday with him in one of my favourite cities. It’s just so exciting. My life is so oddly exciting right now. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m so happy, I’m grabbing onto every chance that comes my way and working like crazy to get it. It’s exhausting! I think I’m running mostly on tea and adrenaline, among other things.

This is such an amazing chapter in my life. It feels…exciting. I can’t stop using that word. I’m excited. Thrilled. Provoked. Piqued. Stimulated. Take your pick. I think I’m all of them. All at once.

…or maybe i’ve just had too much tea. *shrugs* Who cares!! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Safe

I’ve been thinking a lot about safe spaces. They come in the unlikeliest of places. You have purposefully manufactured safe spaces, like LGBT bars and therapist waiting rooms. But for me, it’s my Starbucks.

I came from a very small town where brand chains were a foreign concept, so when I moved to the Edinburgh to start university, I became a tad hooked. I’d always had this idea in my head. This image of sitting in a Starbucks, sipping my tea, in a big woolly jumper and reading a book. It was such a basic concept, but to me, it signified some sort of arrival. A change in my life that I had strived to achieve throughout all of my childhood.

Over the years, Starbucks was always a backdrop. My one was directly next to campus and I had friends that worked there. We’d all grab one in the morning, study there during long breaks between classes or on the run-up to deadlines and we’d hang there at weekends, sometimes nursing hangovers, sometimes sitting scrolling the internet or reading together in content silence. It wasn’t until I moved that I realised how much I missed it. That one place where everyone knew my name and I never felt out of place. As a person with serious social anxiety at times, I never realised how much I relied on that. On the routine and the comfort.

But I moved and I don’t regret it in the slightest. Other things in my life had fallen out of sync and, simply put, I wasn’t happy anymore. But I didn’t have that space anymore. At least for a while. I live in the city centre, so finding a cafe that didn’t have constant, distracting foot traffic was hard. But one day I stumbled across it, ten minutes from home, perfect distance for studying first thing in the morning (my favourite time to study), my Starbucks.

The fact that it was a Starbucks really is irrelevant. It was the fact that I had my safe space back. I never felt out of place, I always recognised the staff and I have a favourite seat. It’s the small things, but it makes everything a bit easier. It takes away the stress of finding somewhere to study, when the library is too quiet or too loud (yes it really can be both), where it’s always quiet enough for me to find a seat, where I can study for hours without getting uncomfortable. It’s mine.

Or it was.

I recently had a run in with my stalker. Which is honestly a problem I never thought i’d have. I can’t help contemplating the fear women have to deal with in the meer presence of a man, but that is a story for another day. I’m not interested in telling it today.

Today, I would like to stop looking over my shoulder. Looking over and making sure he isn’t sitting there again. I would like to stop blowing it out of proportion in my mind and to stop wondering if I have to worry that he will come back. Come here, to my safe space.

I want my safe space back.

Words

I’ve been thinking a lot about words lately. How freely we spread our words, for better or for worse. How words have completely different connotations depending on context. How using the term ‘heart attack’ colloquially is never a good idea when talking to one of your oldest friends, whose father has just died of an unexpected heart attack. How it’s impossible not to dwell on words you wish you could take back. You are never more aware of the throw-away words you use than when you know how they could hurt someone. Sometimes apologies aren’t really an option. Sometimes it’s irrelevant. I’m getting to the stage in my life where I think that loss may become somewhat of a norm. It’s terrifying. I have gotten rid of so many toxic people and relationships throughout my life, a lot of them family members, that the ones I keep close mean more to me than the world. It means that if loss is to become par for the course, it is going to impact me and hurt me so much in years to come.

Intentions 

Ah the best laid intentions. I was going to climb Ben Nevis today for the first time. I was up at 5am, packed my bag, donned my hiking boots, opened the door to rain. 

Its been three hours and the weather forecast still claims it’s dry outside. Ah well. There goes my good day of fitness. And productivity. I really shouldn’t have let my mum put the tv on. But tea and lounging is just an inescapable reality of being at home.