Monday, 31 December 2012

To Do List: 2013.

I'd say these are my New Year's Resolutions, but it's really more of a To Do List. I make these lists all the time, and they're so much more fun than boring Resolutions; Resolutions feel very mandatory, like I'm being forced to do things against my will in the vain hope to become a better person. So, this is my 2013 To Do list...

1. Learn the ukulele.
I've had Britta, my Vintage light blue uke, for a couple of months now at least, and I only know the chords for 'Winter' (one of my favourite songs, a Joshua Radin classic that a friend of mine started playing one day in my bedroom and gave me all kinds of feels). This is good enough for me, but I'm sure everyone else gets bored of me playing the same few notes over and over... Plus, I don't actually know the chord names/letters, I just know the tabs. I'm a pathetic excuse for a uke player.
   I have about a dozen friends at uni who play ukulele, so I have a whole host of potential teachers, all of whom I can pay with pizza and TV. So there's To Do #1, relatively easy and can be done in the morning while wearing pyjamas and drinking tea.

2. Know my limits.
I pushed my luck and limits beyond belief and reason in 2012. I broke the Law, the actual Law, too many times; plus a few minor laws when it came to friendships, colleagues, teammates, family, etc. I drank too much (as in, alcohol) and ate too much (as in, junk) and also too little (as in, cereal or nothing at all). I wound people up, punched/slapped close friends, complained a whole lot, argued until I fell asleep, and cried on too many shoulders. My debit card moaned as I shoved it into various machines and ATMs, and my overdraft happily obliged when I was in need.
   2013, I'll abide by the Law and the laws, drink responsibly (as in, no more vodka), eat sensibly (as in, cereal just once a day), calm the violent streak, suffer in silence, stop the arguments before they start, give my friends' shoulders a well-earned break, stop abusing my card and stay out of my overdraft.

3. Write more.

Stories, poetry, articles, letters, and of course blog posts. Leave myself and my friends little handwritten notes, keep that diary I got for Christmas, send more PostSecrets. Do all my essays. Try harder to get noticed for my writing. Carry a notebook around (because cliches work). Hand in my essays and written pieces, and actually be truly proud of what I've done. Simple as.

4. Meet more people.

2012 was the year I met some amazing friends, one or two special guys/girls, and shook hands with some of my favourite artists and idols. I met people at uni that I actually wanted to meet up with over the holidays (and better yet, who actually wanted to meet up with me over the holidays), some pretty cool Frisbee people, like-minded individuals who share my interests and love of certain musicians/writers/vloggers/TV shows, a scattered group of friends to come back to and go home to. I said hi to Joshua Radin, got a hug from Gianni Luminati, and gave my secrets to Frank Warren. I found vloggers and bloggers online such as Carrie Hope Fletcher and Charlieissocoollike. I made friends in cyberspace.
   2013 is so far set to be the year I meet John and Hank Green, aka the Vlogbrothers, and hopefully many more wonderful people at uni. I'm obviously wanting to re-meet Joshua Radin if he comes back to the UK, I want Taylor Swift to tell me how I'm feeling, I fancy a dance with Ellen, I desperately need to tell Ed Sheeran that I think he's perfect, and I definitely want a hug from Carrie Hope Fletcher (a tweet was enough for 2012, but in 2013 I'll settle for nothing less than a cuddle).
Anyway, I could go on. Bring on the new people I can welcome into my life! I also want to re-meet a few individuals who made my life slightly impossible this year, start fresh, try and be friends. And who knows, there may even be that someone I've accidentally been waiting until 2013 to meet...

5. Live somewhere.

I love my house and little world in Hampshire right now, and I love my cosy little life in Sussex. Sometimes it's hard living in two places at once, travelling back and forth, sometimes feeling like I don't belong in either place or just in one... The first thing to sort out next year is where I'll be come September. The scary letting agent emails have already started to arrive, and I need to talk to my current housemates about what our plans are after the summer (I know what mine are, and I'm really excited. I just need to know theirs!). Ultimately, I just want to find a place where I'm absolutely sure I live, and belong.

6. Get better.

I need to be better, and I want to be the best, at everything I take on and try. It's a silly thing I always have in my mind whenever someone says I'm doing well at something; "'well' isn't good enough. I want to be the best!"
   When I joined Ultimate Frisbee, I was immediately frustrated that I couldn't throw forehand. I say immediately, because it was literally in the first five minutes of a casual throwaround, not even a proper training session. I eventually learnt, and now I want to get better at every aspect of the game; I want to be as good as my friends who have been playing for a year now. It might not be possible, but I'll do my best to be the best. The same theory applies to ukulele, to acting, to writing, to my uni work and paid work. I want to be better, and I want to be the best.

7. Generic "lose weight/be healthy".

The same resolution/To Do as every other year. Stay at my current weight, or lower. Keep busy, eat well, exercise, enjoy the compliments and think "yes, I earned this". Also, discourage people from saying "skinny" by way of a compliment. That word never sounds like a good thing.

8. Be a better person.

What it says on the tin. No more lying, no excuses, no pointless grudges and fights. Fix things. Earn love and be happy with myself. Don't waste a single second on people who don't care. The usual good things that I don't do.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

500,000+1 dirty little secrets.

Eight years ago, some fella from Maryland named Frank Warren started an art project that would someday become a beautiful worldwide phenomenon. He printed up a couple hundred postcards with his home address on the back and walked the streets of Washington D.C. asking people to write their secrets down on the postcards and send them to him. Some people were reluctant, some intrigued; and now...

PostSecret is the largest advertisement-free blog site in the world, with a visitor count of over 500 million, and for the past eight years Frank has received over half a million secrets, which he keeps in a massive pile in his living room. Frank Warren has been called "the world's most trusted stranger". The rules are: the secret you send in has to be true, and has to be something you've never told anyone before.

This music video contains actual PostSecret secrets, after The All-American Rejects asked Frank if they could use some, and he said yes - providing they make a donation to one of his sponsor charities. This video also contains one secret from each of the band members (and one from a friend of mine, funnily enough).

Eleven year-old Gracie discovered PostSecret in Year 7 while cutting up magazines for her Art project; the girls in class were sat around her table, bitching, giggling and calling her "weird", and upon discovering an article PostSecret, Gracie found a little hope. Thus began years of checking PostSecret.com every Sunday for new secrets, reading the books, and occasionally sending in a secret of my own. So for eight years, PostSecret has been my escape, my confidante and my biggest source of hope. There is nothing quite like letting go of a secret you've been keeping forever, or reading one of your own secrets in someone else's writing, and knowing you're not alone.

Back in October, a PostSecret UK tour was announced. The first time PostSecret has visited the UK in the eight years it has been running. Edinburgh, Birmingham, Brighton, London. I'm lucky enough to have a friend who loves PostSecret and Frank as much as I do, and so we booked tickets for the 17th December show in London (despite having no money).
   It was honestly the best £37.50 I have ever spent. We spent the evening at Logan Hall, University of London, sitting just a few rows away from Frank as he talked about his life and his secrets, and the lives and secrets of the millions of strangers he has helped over the years. We learned which secrets are Frank's personal favourites, which have inspired him to start campaigns (he now works with International Suicide Prevention, and gives money to them as well as similar causes)
We saw dozens of people approach the microphone and share their innermost fears, hopes and pains in the form of secrets. There was a woman who had only found out a few hours beforehand that she might not be able to have children, another whose father suffered from depression, and many more horrifying secrets that made me think "I'm could never go through what they're going through", and the occasional heartwarming secret that made me think "wow, life is amazing". There's a lot of beauty in the world, and a whole lot of it was in one room last Monday night.


All I can say is, after eight years of reading and posting, actually being in the audience witnessing some truly magical moments (and scribbling secrets on postcards throughout) was just the most amazing thing. And after the talk, shaking Frank Warren's hand, telling him how much PostSecret has meant to me since I was eleven, taking a photo together and giving him my secret... The feeling was indescribable.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Driving home for Christmas.

My Dad is on his way, driving down the M3 in the rain with the boot of the car already folded down in preparation for the massive bag of stuff I'll be putting in there later. I'm sitting at my desk in my little room, eating leftover food, listening to Christmas music/watching old Vlogbrothers videos, and glancing over at said massive bag, lying empty on my bed.

A psychologist would have a field day with me, to quote one of my old teachers. I don't want to leave, but I absolutely one hundred per cent never-been-so-sure-of-anything do. I want to be home, sitting in front of the fire with my family, all idyllic and sweet. I want to go out and get drunk with my best 'home friends'. I want to watch Elf, and all the Christmas specials on the BBC. I'm so ready, just not in the physical sense as that massive bag is empty and I'm sitting procrastinating almost as much as I do when essay-writing.


It feels good to be writing again. I've been putting off blogging, due to work and a host of personal issues (some of which I'm not even sure I can blog about, which as you can imagine is infuriating for me), and I've missed it terribly. I hate checking my Blogger page and seeing the last post dated almost a week ago. It really is a nightmare.
   Anyway, I have a few things to write about now, not to mention my annual personal accounts of Christmas Eve/Day and my New Years Resolutions. Bring on the writing!

Now, I'm bidding farewell to my little room. Goodbye, fairy lights. Goodbye, sad bare trees outside. Goodbye, stack of books in the corner which will definitely not fit into even the most massive of bags. Goodbye, 500 Days Of Summer poster. Goodbye, bottles of Malibu and Jack Daniels... Oh no wait, you're coming home with me! See you all in early January; II'll have lots more stuff from Christmas, I'll have learnt ALL my Shakespeare lines, and I'll be big as a house after being fed properly at home.


Friday, 21 December 2012

Missing something.

I'm walking through the ticket barriers at Winchester station, when the girl in front of me stops suddenly, causing me to walk into the back of her. She doesn't notice because she's embracing her mum, in the middle of the station doorway, having her face cupped in her mum's hands and being told "...and it's so good to have you home, we missed you sweetie, I love you!"

I push past and head for the taxi rank, trying not to let it register that just a couple of hours ago my mum was cupping my face in her hands and saying "...and it's just two days, we'll miss you sweetie, I wish you didn't have to go, I love you!"

Thursday, 20 December 2012

17.

Hi, my name's Gracie. Winter is my favourite time of year, I have some serious money troubles right now, mint hot chocolate is my new favourite thing, London calls me from time to time, I have a lot of leftover pizza in the fridge, I'm in two Shakespeare productions, my little hometown is always there for me, Soap & Glory is my unhealthiest addiction, hugs from my Mum are a miracle cure, I've given my secrets to Frank Warren, inconsistency is my least favourite thing, I'm a few weeks behind on How I Met Your Mother, my friends from home are inexplicably wonderful, going on long drives is how I deal with things, next year I want to make everything right, CSI is perfect, I try to take breaks from blogging, but I always come running back.

I do one of these posts every month.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Needing something.

Last night, I got to my friend's house just as they started making their "house Christmas Dinner". Immediately I felt like I was intruding. They started preparing the food in the kitchen, blasting Christmas songs and singing along; I grabbed my friend's laptop, looked up National Rail and ran out the door. I continued to run downhill to another friend's place, asking her for a lift, stopping at my house for a few little things to throw in my bag (I was in such a hurry I actually forgot my laptop, meaning - spoiler alert - I am typing this on the family computer) before gunning it to the station and jumping on the train just before it left the platform. I dilly-dallied around at Waterloo, bashed my infuriating (and broken) iPod on the wall at Waterloo East, avoided texts from my parents about the Strictly Results show, and eventually got on my Southeastern express (not so much) to my little town. I ran up the hill from Station Approach with two massive bags weighing me down, listening to 'I Missed You' on my broken iPod, and rang the doorbell for number 12. My Dad answered the door and said: "what are you doing here??!"

I've had a lot of problems recently, both professional and personal. Decisions have been made, arguments have been many, fallout has happened and now it's time to relax and be me, in my tiny hometown, more or less internet-less. So for the next week or two I'll be offline (not off the grid entirely, just a quieter presence), only contacting those closest to me if need be, switching off certain people's voices and taking a well-deserved break. I'm hoping the New Year will bring with it a new feeling. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Multiple theatrical identities.

So, I am currently rehearsing for the (amazing) (awesome) (insane) play 'When It Rains Gasoline', to be performed this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then, Saturday, I start rehearsals for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.
   I'm actually really happy that the rehearsals start so soon after 'Gasoline', because then I don't have too much of a sad post-performance period. It'll be strange going straight from a modern American play to an ancient Shakespeare, but in a good way. Also, at least five other people from 'Gasoline' are going to be in 'Midsummer' with me, so I won't even get a chance to miss working with them. The people I'll miss most, aside from the (amazing) (awesome) (insane) crew working on 'When It Rains Gasoline', are the characters; the jocky boys, the gamer nerds, the quiet insecure "queer", and my cheerleaders. I'll miss them as much as I'll miss the actors who play them.

It sounds like a terribly poncey actor thing to say, but... I love being several different people at once. Especially when those people are so completely different to me.
   Alysa, from 'Gasoline', is your classic head cheerleader Queen Bee plastic fantastic beyotch. She calls the other kids losers and dorks, dumps all her boyfriends when she gets bored, ditches one of her best friends when she gets into some trouble, and is constantly encouraging her other bestie to lose her virginity. I love being her, and she's one of those characters that you can never take too far.


Alysa; head cheerleader, lover of pink lipstick, supreme bitch.

   Robin Starveling/Moonshine is my role in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. I read Moonshine in the audition, and made everyone giggle with my best "stoopid" voice. "I th' man in th' moon..." I can't wait to see what that character will be like. Despite it being a small role in a massive production, I'm just delighted to be involved, the concept and script is fantastic and I'll be having fun the whole way through.

I auditioned for two musicals this term, to no avail - cementing my belief that while 
I can act at a push, I am no singer; I can sing in the bathroom or the kitchen, but not onstage. That's fine by me. Singing seems to me like such a vulnerable, intensely personal thing... I hate singing in front of people (if I sing in front of you, be honoured), and I don't know why I decided for even a moment that I could do it onstage. Acting is different; I can have fun and be utterly un-vulnerable, wrapped in the guise of someone else.

Anyway. I used to want to be an actor, before I realised that I had to be a writer. Not as in "they made me do it", as in "I HAD to do it or I'd die". Yet, here I am in two plays. Loving it. And this time Friday night, I'll be saying goodbye to Alysa. This time Saturday night, I'll be Moonshine. C'est la vie.


Photos of the play(s) will be added later! :)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thankful for...


Skinny vanilla lattes in Caffe Nero. Completed essays. The blackout blind I have over the window in my bedroom. Radio 1 in the morning. Rimmel Urban Purple nail polish/Barry M silver glitter. How I Met Your Mother. The Uni Student Confessions pages on Facebook. The Forage & Find antique 'n' unique jewellery stall. YouTubers. My fabulous hairdresser. John Green books.
PostSecret. Payday. The two-minute silence on Remembrance Day. Carrie Hope Fletcher T-shirts. My cat.

Having food in the cupboards. Getting a part in a fantastic play, and working with some seriously talented people. Being offered two jobs in the same week, and having to turn down two more offers. My inspiring lecturers. People setting me back on my path when I'm lost. Having a magical family who supports me in everything I do. My new life away from home. My Mum texting me every day. My beautiful family in Australia, and being able to visit them so often. The way my little sister writes statuses on Facebook with a million hearts and kisses. Lovely friends, people I can text when I'm feeling down, get tipsy with, order pizza and be irresponsible with. People who read my blog. Opportunities for something better.

Tonight, when I'm eating pasta and watching 'Slapsgiving', 'Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap', plus all the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, I'll be thinking about all these things, big and small, that I am thankful for.

Monday, 19 November 2012

We all need a win.

My friend had his second attempt at his driving test last week. I was a nervous wreck all day waiting to hear from him as to whether or not we’d be celebrating with pizza and TV that night, or drowning our sorrows with pizza and TV that night. Finally, the text came through: “so guess who won’t be getting a pink licence any time soon…” I sighed and shook my head. My friends asked what was wrong. I replied: “he really needed a win.”

There comes a time when we all need a win; a good old-fashioned victory, something we achieved in the face of adversity after what feels like an age of unrelenting disappointments and setbacks. It could be getting 71% on a piece of work after missing out on several job opportunities, getting a lead role in a play after being turned down by a love interest, or winning an Ultimate Frisbee tournament after having all your ideas shot down in group work. My friend needed to pass his driving test because he’d been unsuccessful in applying for jobs since summer, he’d been disappointed with the results of his countless play and musical auditions, he’d been watching all his friends doing brilliantly and had next to no good news to share. He needed that win.
The idea of the “win” is obviously something that has existed for centuries now, since King Harold was shot in the eye and was on the ground begging for a horse, since Pompeii was drowning in flames and since King Henry was chopping off his wives’ heads as his search for a son continued to leave him disappointed. And if there is anything history has taught us, it is that if we don’t get a win once in a while, we forfeit our crown, our cities will burn and heads will roll. Surely if we explained this logic to our peers and lecturers, we’d get a bit more slack and a few more Firsts.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Just clowning around.

This semester, I'm studying the module 'Popular Performance'; it consists of several weeks' studying of the various types of current performance, specifically comedy including stand up, sketches and... Clowning.

The words 'The Clown' have never seemed so daunting as they did when my friend and I read them on the Learning Network the week before starting lectures. I believe our exact words were: "we have to be clowns?! We have to actually study clowning and BE CLOWNS? Mate, fuck that!" It was terrifying. The thought of having to be deliberately funny in front of a room full of our friends and fellow students (and a select few who dislike us)? Surely that is a reality we'd never willingly face. Yet a week later we found ourselves traipsing along to our first lecture, slightly hungover as per usual and filled with terror...

Clowning is actually unexpectedly awesome. We're looking at Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, The Young Ones, Morecambe and Wise, etc., our lecturers are a theatre pro and a former clown (from clown trio Zippo & Co, as we discovered today), and the whole "being funny" thing isn't really that scary. There are all kinds of views on clowns being considered funny, and how they go about being funny; "the comedian tells the joke, the clown IS the joke."
   Our lecturer told us "don't try to be funny", which is perfect because I personally feel that the moment people really try to be funny, they're at their least funny - y'know? People never seem to understand when I say: "people are funniest when they're not trying to be." I find my friends most hilarious when we're just sitting around talking. I'll be in hysterics for ages over a comment someone made in a conversation, but I'll watch a comedian for a few hours and mostly I'll just smile... Maybe I'm just strange. But this clowning thing makes sense to me.

This week we had to bring in a jacket (one we "wouldn't normally wear"), a hat and a prop of some kind. I opted for my bestie's tweed jacket, a Fedora that someone randomly chucked at me during BOP a few weeks ago, and a newspaper as my prop. We were given the option to wear a red nose today (the "clown man" lecturer brought two egg boxes full of them) and in duos or trios we worked out a clowning routine. Mine consisted of dropping the newspaper and scattering the pages then reading it upside down, losing my partner's hat when it was actually stuck on my foot, trying to follow dance steps and failing, finding a red nose in my jacket pocket and being so indescribably happy when putting it on... It seemed to go well. Everyone else in my lectures is amazing; we saw two clowns in love, three falling about and injuring one another, two fighting over a newspaper, a duo attempting a dance, and a clown couple leading a tour, among other things. Our lecturer even said at the end of the session: "you're all almost too good. It's surprising. You've set the standard now; I'm really impressed."

After every clown lecture, we've all left with our various bits and bobs of clown paraphernalia stuffed in our bags or in our arms - or if you're me, wearing the jacket and silly hat all the way home. My friend does the same, and I think it's for the same reason - we don't want to say goodbye to our clown characters. My silly, slow, smiley clown chick is so much fun to mess around with, and I hate saying goodbye to her when I leave the studio, so I keep her with me the whole way home.

Friday, 19 October 2012

My Resolutions: The Story So Far.

Back in July, while at home and desperately homesick for university, I compiled a list of New Year's Resolutions to be taken into consideration when I started my second year. Well, here I am. It's been a month, and already I think I've crossed a few off my list...

1. Join a sports team.
I've finally joined Ultimate Frisbee, after a year of umm'ing and ahh'ing over it. I obviously love it just as much as I'd imagined I would, and I've already started my ongoing mission to be the best player ever. I'd forgotten, in these past few years of not playing any sport, just how competitive I can be. 
Also, I definitely missed running around; strange, considering I used to be the girl at high school who would fake a "girly pain" to get out of a PE lesson five minutes in (then hide in the toilets for the remaining hour). I may just be a newbie at the moment, but I'd really like to get to the standard of the guys and girls who've been playing for over a year, and be a valued team member.

2. Be in more Student Scene videos.
The Student Scene are, as I've mentioned before, a fun-loving group of people who just happen to be paid by the university to put on parties at the SU and take photos of us students when we're a little worse for wear and dressed in the most ridiculous outfits. One of the first things I did when coming back to university was buy a wireless Student Scene Access Card, which enables me to attend all their events with just a swipe as I walk in; best £15 I have ever spent. I attended their American House Party a few weeks ago, basically just a night of boozing and Beer Pong played by students in American flag leggings and shorts, and had yet another awesome night. As usual, the fellas were wandering around the dancefloor with their video cameras, and after several failed attempts to get their attention I actually walked up to one cameraman and told him about my New Year's Resolution to be in more of their videos; he said "you have to bust some serious moves!" then asked if my friends and I would be comfortable messing around with one another for the camera. I'm not proud of it (I am), but hey, I got in the video!

See me make my cameo at 1:14 and 1:21! I'm the one with the red lipstick and the fringe.

3. Do my housework and take care of my bedroom.
At the present moment, I'm sitting at my desk in my little room with an airer next to me totally overloaded with wet laundry, my bed is stripped, my washing up is done, I've taken out the recyclables and I'm setting aside an hour or two tomorrow to use the dryers on campus - because I found out the hard way that a house with no heating whatsoever means damp clothes hung everywhere for a week before they are wearable. My bedroom has had so much time and love poured into it over the past few weeks, and also a lot of money spent on it. I have posters, fairy lights, patterned throws, more posters, stacks of books and DVDs, pretty bedding and more posters. My jars are sitting on the windowsill, my desk is covered in girly magazines and everything smells sweet thanks to a couple of £1.50 scented candles. I think I've done well with this resolution, at least so far. We'll see how the place looks in a few months, when my assignments are due.

7. Don't be a slut.

Now, this was by no means the hardest resolution to make and has proved almost too easy to keep; so far only my friends have seen the inside of my little bedroom and no fellas have been "all up on this" (a term my friend genuinely uses daily). As a rule, I don't "get with" people on a night out, as we should all know by now, and indeed I will only do so much as kiss someone when I have a good enough reason to. For instance, last night at Carnage one item on my Carnage Checklist was "Pull 5 Randoms", and although I hate/don't understand the whole concept of pulling, I guess a kiss or two counts, right?
I'm definitely still too naive to be in danger of becoming a slut.

8. Keep my friends.

I did have some rotten luck with friends last year; I fell in with the wrong crowd, I lost a few of my closest friends from home (and I am still unsure why)... So far this year I am maintaining my existing friendships, and making even more. I'm also really fighting for my friendships - something I should have done more of last year.



11. Don't get homesick.

So far, I have only felt that pulling feeling in my chest when thinking about home a couple of times. I saw my family last weekend when they came up to visit me, and I call them fairly regularly just to catch up and hear the latest news. I've even introduced the concept of FaceTime to them all - it's blown many minds. Although of course I'll always miss home when I'm not there, I'm so busy lately that I don't have as much time to sit around and miss it like I did last year. I'm only going back once before the Christmas holidays, and I intend to make the most of it, really get my fix.

12. Take more photos.

I am the girl with the camera. A girl actually recognized me last night due to the photos she's seen uploaded onto Facebook - "you're the girl with the wicked photos!" That's me. I was in my element last week when we had a Mad Hatter's Tea Party; there were over a hundred photos of our amazing friendship group all dressed up and drinking vodka out of cups labelled 'Drink Me'. I also have started taking photos on my phone - oh, the wonders of the iPhone! It's a whole new world!



 13. Hang out.

I'm walking up and down Stanmore Lane several times a week, visiting friends and hanging out. Last week I got the bus to my friends' house straight from work to watch some Saturday night TV, and the other night I was round there making pasta. I'll use any excuse to walk up or down the road to see people. However, I do love my own house, too. I've spent a few evenings cotching on the sofa with my housemates watching Gilmore Girls with cups of tea and dinner.

14. Make more effort.

I like to think that so far this year I've made a massive amount of effort everywhere I can... I went crazy over referencing and sourcing documents and articles for my first assignment, I'm working extremely hard at both my jobs, I have To Do lists and timetables stuck up on my wardrobe and my mini Pukka pad is already almost full after just four weeks of lectures.Although, all my efforts are not necessarily in the academic or careers field. I spent three days working on a costume for my friend's Alice In Wonderland-themed birthday party; I bought fabric pens and plain white clothes, cut out card and drew on whiskers, and spent a whole day sitting on the floor of my living room working my way through three discs of Gilmore Girls and colouring in my white clothes with pink and purple stripes. I was the best and most committed Cheshire Cat there ever was.



15. Take more risks.
I've not taken as many risks as I'd like over the past couple of months, however the few I have taken have been big'uns. I auditioned for a play called 'When It Rains Gasoline', and somehow got a part. I applied for three jobs, got offers from them all, and accepted two. I auditioned for a musical, just because I never had before and I thought it'd be a giggle. I sang in front of people (this IS a big deal). I made a video and put it on YouTube. I told someone how I really felt. I used milk that was past its use-by date.

This year is already going better than last. I'm actually working hard, and I only realised the other day just how many Resolutions I've already ticked off. Is this a sign of things to come? I certainly hope so. Keep your fingers crossed for me...

16.

Hi, my name's Gracie. I live in a beautiful little city, I have two jobs, I'm currently rehearsing for a play, YouTube is my main distraction, dark Chocolate Oranges are my weakness, laundry is the bane of my existence, I've realised auditions aren't that scary, blogging is my occupation of choice, I miss driving, John Green is perfect in my eyes, I'm teaching my housemate to love Gilmore Girls, my little sister is my little rock, I own a hip flask that says 'Girls With Class Don't Need A Glass' on it, I'm going to Australia for the eighth time next year, Ultimate Frisbee is becoming a big part of my life, I have eight jars collecting coins on my windowsill, my shower is extremely temperamental, Carrie Hope Fletcher is teaching me a lot, I'm counting down the days until Christmas, I'm actually busy all the time now, and it's different.

I do one of these posts every month.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Joshua: Now on a first-name basis.

There are times when something so purely perfect happens, that it takes you a while to discuss it and you need a few hours, or days, to let it all sink in before you feel you can talk (or in this case, write) about it. For example, saying "Hello" to your ultimate idol, seeing your favourite artist live in concert, or meeting the love of your life... All of these moments need a designated amount of time to get your head around and quietly enjoy by yourself before you can do anything else.
   Two weeks ago, I experienced all of the above at once.


On the 26th September 2012, I traveled to London for the day to see Joshua Radin live at KOKO, Camden. This was the third time I attended one of his UK gigs; in 2010 I was at the front row on Brighton seafront, 2011 I was squealing in Shepherds Bush, and this year I went that one step further...
   I received the tickets (plus his new album) for my 19th birthday this summer. Then a few weeks later, I was emailed with the chance to "upgrade" my ticket, which would entitle me to an exclusive pre-show performance, plus some freebies and a Meet & Greet with the man himself. The sensible person hidden deep within me said: "that's a lot of money, is it really worth it?" and the fangirl I keep close to the surface when it comes to Joshua Radin screamed: "of course it is, idiot!" in response. So I parted with my babysitting money and started a countdown clock on my phone: 35 days until Joshua.


The main concern of mine in the weeks leading up to the show was: what do I say to him? For years I've listened to his albums on repeat in my bedroom, referred to him as just "Joshua", and fantasized about what it would be like to meet him. Maybe he'd fall madly in love with me, whisk me away to California and write me a song with my name in.
   I was reminded of Caitlin Moran's views on celebrity crushes: "don't say anything to him! Try to remember it only happened in your head! You have nothing actual to reminisce about!" Oh, right. I should probably just say something casual and generic when I meet him, I wouldn't want to freak him out. But I also want to make an impression; I want him to remember me...

Two of the best nights of my life have been nights spent at Joshua gigs. I wanted to share the experience with as many of my favourite people as possible; I took my then-boyfriend to the show in Brighton two years ago; my Dad last year and my Mum came with me this year. I still have yet to take my little sister with me, sadly she couldn't come this time because it was a school night. Not cool.
   I also met one of my favourite people at the gig this year: Mary Ennis, AKA @boddahkurdt of Twitter, my fellow Joshua superfan and an all around cool chick. We both purchased the upgrade package and agreed to meet at the venue before the pre-show; I was ridiculously excited to meet an online friend for the first time, as sometimes I feel that my online friends know me just as well (if not better) than my everyday friends.


So there we both were, in a box on the second level watching our man soundchecking and chatting to his band onstage, both swept up in the moment, so much so that we didn't speak to one another for a while. It was so amazingly nice to be in the company of someone who not only understands my love for Joshua, but also shares it. We had been talking in the lobby before the pre-show, waiting to go in, when we heard one crystal-clear note ring out from behind the doors. Everyone gathered in the room, us upgraders, fell silent. Now clustered around the KOKO balcony, staring at the stage, we were still silent and very much in awe. I was again struck by the amazing versatility of Joshua's voice, and the drastic change between his speaking and singing; when he speaks, he's deep and silky-smooth, talking about his love of whiskey and memories of Ohio, and when he sings he's angelic and hushed at a high volume, singing about love, loss of innocence and bad timing.
   He's joking around with his tour manager and the band, and fiddling with his guitar as he plays verses and choruses of certain songs. My camera nearly fell out of my hand when I heard the opening notes to 'The Greenest Grass', my favourite Joshua song of the moment. I waited patiently, camera extended, for my favourite lyric: "I am a lucky man, to recognize your grace"; guess why that's my favourite? No, not just because it has my name in, geeezz. Because it's a lovely message on it's own: recognize your grace. Remember how amazing you are, don't settle for less than you deserve - these are the messages I choose to interpret from it. After playing a snippet of the song, Joshua called out behind him: "I think that sounded good?" To which the tour manager replied: "That sounded amazing. That's my favourite, that one." Joshua laughed and said: "you sap."
   We all received our free Tour 2012 T-shirts, then waited anxiously, hearts pounding, as our fella was brought up to see us. Hi, Joshua. He went around shaking everyone's hands (all eight of us), asking each of us our names. He came to me, shook my hand and I said "I'm Grace."
"Hey Grace, it's so great to meet you." His smile could stop time. And it had made me shy. I just kept on smiling back. We all had a chat with him, as a group, joking about the awful British weather and telling him how amazing the pre-show sounded, then our friend the tour manager said: "does anyone want photos or autographs?" It felt so strange, like he was being whored out, but we didn't mind at all. Everyone whipped out their tickets and notebooks, and several girls had, like me, brought their nicest DSLRs in order to ensure the best photos possible. Bless him, he signed everything that was pushed at him, and smiled away in every photo, and even recorded a message for one girl's friend in Australia. When it looked like I was next, I asked in a tiny voice "is it my turn now?", and shuffled over to him with my ticket, my notebook and my camera. He signed my ticket "Grace - XO", and listened to my silly request; "Can you please write down my favourite lyric for me? I'll probably stick it on my wall or get it tattooed..." He looked more than happy, as I happen to know he loves it when fans get his lyrics inked, took my notebook and asked which lyric. Recognize your grace. "Ahhh, I see what you did there!"
"It was definitely a happy moment for me, hearing that lyric for the first time," I may have giggled a little. He wrote it down perfectly, signed it underneath, and then asked if I wanted a photo. By this point, I was finding it hard to breathe and the fangirl inside me was having palpitations. I got my photo; two, in fact, one with him and one of Mary and I with him. Arms around each others' waists. Wow.
   We were all sad to see him go; he left with "I hope you dig the show," and "make sure you check out Scars On 45, my special guests. They're Brits, I can't understand a word they're saying but their music is amazing."

I met my Mum in a gorgeous pub for dinner, The Lyttelton Arms, for an endless stream of vegetarian tapas and worryingly bottomless glasses of red wine (hers) and Jack Daniels (mine). We joked about the cute bartender fancying me as I handed him my camera battery to charge for the show; I got his number after dinner, after we'd spent a good half hour standing in the toilet listening to a random girl sing her heart out to us and explain how desperately she wants to be a superstar... It was a typical tipsy pre-gig evening adventure, one I'm sure Joshua could write a beautiful song about.


The show was amazing. I say "amazing", for lack of a better word. Having seen him live twice before, I knew this would be a night to remember. Joshua Radin is one of those exceptionally rare artists in that not only are all his songs heartfelt, personally penned and devastatingly beautiful, but his performances are always just as personal and sweet as his music. Between each song, he says a few words (and sometimes those few words can make up a whole essay) about his life and the next song he'll be playing. I could close my eyes and marvel over his smooth transitions between speaking and singing, or watch his face as he recalls a particularly happy or deeply intimate memory, all night long.
   I realised just how much of a fangirl I was when I found myself whispering song titles into Mum's ear when he started telling the accompanying story; e.g. he says "so I grew up in this little suburb in Ohio...", and I immediately whisper: "The Rock And The Tide." I giggled along with the crowd as he told us about a girl named Katy who let him down after he'd written her name into a song, so he changed the lyric to "baby". I sighed when he told me (for the second time) about his Friday nights at the roller rink in Ohio trying to decide which girl he wanted to hold hands with, and smiled knowingly when he told us about the pressure of playing at a wedding - he played at Ellen Degeneres' wedding a few years ago, and was recently asked to write a song for his sister's, and obviously the song was stunning even though he thinks he'll find it hard to get through it while watching his sister and dad dance together on the day.

I was amazed when he started telling us about his personal connection with London. It was like one night this summer when Dave Grohl told the crowd just how much he loves Reading Festival and how he's performed there several times over twenty-three years... Joshua's first trip abroad with his music was to London, after receiving requests on MySpace to play in the UK for us Brits. He paid for the trip himself, since his label wasn't so keen on the idea at the time, and he played a few nights in pubs and bars for his clusters of fans from across the pond; he told us how much he loves hearing crowds singing his lyrics back to him in a different accent to his, how humbling and amazing it is.

I was babbling away in my mother's ear about how incredible Joshua is and how clear and genuine his voice is when it's ringing through the air just a few feet away from you... Bless her, she humoured me. Cut to several songs in, the coats are off and we're both waving our hands in the air, eyes closed and shouting along to 'The Ones With The Light'; we will never change, I like that we are kinda strange.

Songs from all across the albums were played. His tragedy of timing song, 'You Got Growin' Up To Do', the very famous song he has a love-hate relationship with 'I'd Rather Be With You', the new'uns such as 'Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better' and 'Let It Go', plus some less-known tracks 'Where You Belong' (the London-inspired song), 'In Her Eyes' and bluegrass attempt/success 'She's So Right'. And of course, he played 'Closer' and 'Winter'. Two classics, and two of my dozen or so favourites.
   I remember Joshua saying in Brighton two years ago how as an artist at your gig, you want to play your new stuff as well as the oldies, but as a fan at the gig you want to hear the ones you grew up with and know all the words to. So he tries to do a mixture for us, and for himself. Thanks, darling. We appreciate it.

Now Joshua, it was more wonderful than even the best writers could describe, seeing you live for the third time. Yet another night of my life. And it was just a dream come true, meeting you, shaking your hand and hearing you say "Hey Grace".
   See you soon.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Refreshing.

"There's a certain smell in the air this week. It smells... FRESH." - (paraphrase of) every single student's Facebook status at the beginning of this week.

On Monday night, a group of us watched Avengers Assemble. I was walking to and from my friends' place up the hill, and noticing that almost every light in every house along the road was on. One by one, the students are returning and the new'uns are arriving...

Wednesday night, I was walking up the same road in one of my nicest dresses with the lipstick on thick, texting various friends frantically; my best friend wanted to know when I'd be at his house for the party, my friend from home wanted to know what was going on in my love life (what love life?), and most unexpectedly, my ex-boyfriend wanted to know if I was going to be at the SU for BOP. I then texted another best friend saying: "he's at the SU tonight. Find him and you win gold."
   Approximately fifteen minutes later I was playing Ring Of Fire on the floor of my friends' living room, halfway to drunk and laughing a little too loudly.
"Hey Grace, did you bring your camera?"
"Of course!" I pulled my hench DSLR out of my bag and was overcome with excitement. I'm a photo fiend; I take photos of predrinks and parties and will often upload them when I get home from the night out/party. There have been many times when my friends have woken up and found photos edited, uploaded and tagged by 8am. I was running around snapping photos of everyone in all their drunken glory, and I genuinely thought "I'm back, baby."
   The night then took a turn for the surreal. I ended up picking up the infamous ex-boyfriend from the SU ("oh my gosh, he actually is here at my uni"), taking him to meet my friends (because I left their party early to pick his drunk mess up), then letting him sleep on my sofa (because I was worried about him trekking back to West Downs, my beloved student village, and disgracing himself or dying on the way). Add my best friend into the mix, who not only popped round my house after BOP, but actually met my ex-boyfriend at the urinals in the SU earlier that night (and then called to tell me all about it, subsequently making my head explode), and you have a night Dali would have considered painting but then decided against it because it was just too absurd. Oh, the boys had a whale of a time spooning on my bed swapping stories about my home, my family and my boobs. I found it hard to hear them, luckily, over the loud ticking of the time bomb in my mind.

Thursday night marked my first ever pub-crawling experience; or rather, Pub Golf. P
aired up as a Pro and an Amateur, nine pubs/bars being nine holes and a different drink at each, and having a par of how many gulps to down one's drink in. So basically, you want to down your drink in one (hole in one). The drinks included: cider, Jagerbombs, double rum & Coke, shots of Sambuca, an alcopop, wine, Guinness, and Flowerpot Ale.
   I lost track between the fifth and eighth pub/bar, but I'm pretty confident that I won. I did think to myself, somewhere between McDonalds, punching my best friend in the face, and lying in the main road next to the army barracks with the Frisbee captain asleep next to me and the coach telling me about the love of his life, and before coming home to pass out (and wake up still drunk the next morning), "I better have won."

Friday night was going to be a "maybe", but became a mandatory. Still drunk from the night before at 3pm, feeling fragile and needing an outing to the park to wake myself up, I intended to go along to predrinks at my friends' down the road and when they all stumbled off to Frisky at Bar3one in town (because we were definitely not paying £10 to see Sam and the Womp at Freshers' Flirt!), I'd sneak off to bed. A few hours later I was wearing one of my nicest dresses, buying drinks with a friend from Twitter who I'd happened to bump into on the way into town, drunk-dialling various unsuspecting friends and grinding with a gay guy while a remixed and sped-up version of 'Blow Me (One Last Kiss)' thumped through the speakers. Oops.

Saturday I spent the whole day at 
Freshers' Fayre, behind a table or wandering around outside the SU with the Ultimate Frisbee team, recruiting Freshers and spreading the word about "the most fun sport ever". I wish I'd joined a team last year; I intend to make up for my Fresher laziness by being constantly busy and engaged in all sorts this year. By the end of the day, we'd managed to get 200+ people to sign up. Clearly, the Freshers are much cooler this year. I also went a little crazy at the annual gigantic poster sale, and now my little room looks much better.

Freshers' Fortnight is in full swing. Lectures start tomorrow, and while I'm obviously excited to get back into my course, I'm going to miss the freedom I've had over the past few weeks. Being able to wake up at whatever time I fancy, wandering back and forth between my house and friends', watching Friends and Gilmore Girls all day with the housemates and the random expeditions to town to pick up stuff we need - okay, just stuff.
Anyway, it's my second year. Bring it on.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Walk Off The Earth. Enough said.

So, on Saturday 8th of September, I had the absolute privilege of going to see Walk Off The Earth live at the HMV Forum in London; and I had a free ticket courtesy of a friend, too. We got a train to Waterloo and spent a few hours wandering around London, watching magicians and street performers in Covent Garden and hopping from pub to pub, occasionally stopping and simply saying "Walk Off The Earth, ahhhh!"


"I'm going to London to see Walk Off The Earth."
"Who? What?"
"Y'know, that well cute band who sang Money Tree? And Summer Vibe? They play ukuleles and stuff?"
"Ermmm, no..."
"They
 do covers on YouTube?"
"..."
"Somebody That I Used To Know, five people one guitar?"
"OH, I LOVE THOSE GUYS!"

I'm not one of those die-hard WOTE fans who loathe those people who only know them through their YouTube covers, but after telling various friends where I was going and who I was seeing on Saturday night, it began to irritate me when I was met with blank faces until I said the words "Gotye cover"; I understand now why their fans are always so anxious to point out their original songs and albums, and get so pee'd off when people only seem to know their covers. If I were in a band who wrote some amazing original stuff but was mainly recognized for their covers of other artists' songs, I'd be pretty ticked off personally.
   So we've addressed the cover issue: Walk Off The Earth do amazingly kickass covers of pre-existing songs, putting their own arrangement and imaginative spin on them and thus distinguishing themselves from the pack of "cover people" online. They're primarily known for these covers, but as more fans emerge, their original songs are getting more attention.
I'll admit that I came across WOTE, as approximately 135million other people did, because of their covers. I'll also admit that when the friend I attended the gig with asked me to name all the band members, I panicked; I know Gianni, Sarah, Marshall and Joel, I didn't know Beard Guy's real name though... There were a few moments when I didn't feel worthy to be there with all the "true" fans who've been walking off the earth since 2006 and knew them all well before the YouTube days. However, I love their sound and listen to them constantly in my Little Boxes little box room at uni, and I had the best time at the gig. So there.


The show itself is a happy haze of pretty voices, ukulele solos, crazy bass and beatboxing, colourful bouncy balls flying around the crowd and shiny confetti (which got stuck down my dress and the coloured dye still hasn't washed off). Getting in early and with priority tickets meant we were four "rows" (clusters of people) from the front, and because the crowd consisted of such damn lovely people, not a mosher in sight, we got to comfortably watch the support bands and get psyched for the main event. The last live performances I saw were at Reading Festival, so I'd forgotten what a nice intimate gig was like; my friend read my mind and said "it feels strange being indoors and not standing on grass..."
   Yes, I said "intimate". Because although this night saw approximately 2500 people crammed into the London venue, it still felt very small and close. Having said that, I was right at the front and within fingertip-touching distance of Sarah as she climbed the barrier; I'm sure those on the balcony or at the back of the stalls would tell you a very different story. I really enjoy the intimate-feel gigs; I've seen some of my favourite artists at small London or Brighton venues and felt so happy and connected to them, while for example seeing Taylor Swift at the O2 arena last year was the most alienating (yet girlishly incredible) concert experience.

Now, for the support bands. I always make a point of watching the bands/singers that precede the headliners, because they've clearly worked hard to be where they are, they've gained the approval of the headline band, and I might find a new favourite if I watch them. It's the same reason I always download the iTunes Single Of The Week, no matter how disappointing it turns out to be, and why I look up every song/band/artist my friends recommend to me.
   So I fell a little bit in love with the first band + singer: Ezra Axelrod (the coolest name, maybe ever) and The Motel Band. The loveliest arrangement of guitar, vocals and the sweetest hint of violin made for chilled and gorgeous listening. I not only loved the songs and the genuine yet catchy lyrics, but also the interaction with the audience - some bands will stand and play, with barely any breaks between songs and no "talking time", and subsequently distance themselves from the audience and not gain much of a following. Ezra & The Motel Band, however, were friendly and approachable. Ezra chatted to the audience and explained the meaning behind his songs; he even started a tweeting competition to win one of three free CDs, which I was instantly determined to win (I am a champion tweeter). I really admired Ezra for dedicating one of his songs to his husband; you don't often see gay men singing songs explicitly for their significant others. It was rather beautiful. My friend and I also spent a while discussing how attractive accompanying singer Tim Oxbrow is, and later discovered we weren't the only ones who thought so, in fact a lot of other audience members were swooning and making comparisons between him and Robert Downey Jr... Anyway, I adored their section of the pre-show and got myself a handsome new Twitter follower (@toxbrow) and a free CD out of it. Not too shabby.


I also loved the second support band, two lads going by the name of USS. They were eccentric and eclectic to say the least - at one point one of the guys was playing his guitar above his head, then one picked the other up, then a builder and a shepherd randomly came onstage to jam with them. They had decks set up, plus guitar and vocals, and they performed their own material as well as covering 'Hey Ya', much to the delight of the crowd. I really liked how they not only went completely crazy performing their own stuff, but also got the crowd extra-excited for Walk Off The Earth. They had us chanting, clapping and singing in anticipation, and they repeatedly thanked WOTE for the opportunity to tour with them, hailing them as "the best band of the moment". I really love it when support bands do that.

Now, for the main event. Walk Off The Earth are known for being quirky and original, so it was no surprise when they all walked onstage in matching WOTE hoodies, took up dramatic stances and Gianni and Sarah started banging on drums covered in rice, beans or beads of some kind... Sarah was an undeniable presence onstage, bouncing off the walls and beaming away, her stunning face lit up with the excitement of performing and her hair totally wild. I took a moment to appreciate her choice of outfit, too; stripey tights (on her enviably tiny legs) and a yellow shirt with a drawing of a beaver saying "Dam it". Beard Guy (who I found out is really called Taylor) was calm and poker-faced as always, insanely intense and getting on with his job. Marshall was just plain beautiful, proving that when your face is that perfect, you can just wear jeans and a T-shirt and look utterly flawless, Dam it. My favourite band member, Gianni, kept his crazy hair concealed under a knitted hat at first, then head-banged spectacularly and it all came free. I'll admit, I was more than a little starstruck staring up at Gianni Luminati. He's one of those people I can watch sing forever and refer to him as though we're on a first-name basis. Oh, and I got to meet him afterwards. No biggie.
   My friend and I were dancing madly and singing along throughout; partly because the music was awesome, and partly because we wanted to win the signed red ukulele they were giving away to one lucky audience member. Sadly we didn't win, it went to a deserving girl who was apparently "rocking out" on the left hand side of the stage, but I'd already got my freebies and my friend caught Gianni's drumstick when he threw it into the crowd, so we couldn't really complain. Plus, we met the band afterwards and got photos with most of them - oh sorry, did I mention that already? Oops.
   I cannot fault the band's live performance, nor would I want to - they put everything into it and it was nothing short of epic. My feet were killing me, I was full of pizza and I had shiny confetti stuck down my bra, and I didn't care. I had so much fun. The audience was lovely and everyone standing around me was friendly and chatty; when a tall and slightly delusional guy tried to cut in front of us all at the last minute, we pointed out how unfair he was being and politely told him to get lost, and when I had to rush to the bar and back the crowd parted before me and nobody swore at me as I squeezed past, nor did they care much when I wiggled my way back to the front. It was the definition of a "nice crowd".


WOTE had two encores, one right after the 'Summer Vibe' extravaganza which saw the audience bouncing balls to one another over their heads and shouting "EYY-O, EYY-O, EYY-O, BOP-BOP AWAY-O" and another which was a simple "Walk Off The Earth! Walk Off The Earth!" chanted over and over. It was clear that WOTE loved being in London (Marshall even commented on how awesome the Camden Markets were), and had the best time performing for us.

Thanks guys, I had an unforgettable night and I now owe my friend big time for the free ticket. To be honest, I'd have paid way more than full price for that night.

Did I mention I met Gianni?

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Bookmark Bar Thing.

This post is about my feels on the bookmark bar...intrigued? Read on! 

The theory is that one can tell a lot about another person by their bookmarked pages on their browser. For instance, I've asked my housemate and she has the following pages saved: YouTube, Wikipedia, Game FAQs, Red Bull Snowboarding, Odeon Bournemouth, Empire Cinemas, a Swedish/English dictionary, and MP3raid. I feel like I know more about her life just hearing the site names. I also know for a fact that my little sister has several Taylor Swift fansites saved in her bookmarks bar, plus her school Intranet and the Taylor Swift VEVO page.

So let's take a look at my bookmarks...
  1. My best friends' Blogspot pages. I like to keep up to date on my favourite people's lives, and this is much easier to do now that I've convinced them all to start a blog and saved their URLs on my browser.
  2. myfitnesspal; a website devoted to calorie counting, exercise logging and meal planning. This might make me seem determined to lose weight and obsessive over that perfect hourglass, but in reality it was just saved on there as a result of a fling with caring about my body. Let me tell you, a week at a music festival eating just one portion of chips a day will do more wonders for your figure than six months of calorie clicks and running on the spot in your bedroom.
  3. Sainsburys job search. My daily ritual of logging into my recruitment account and desperately seeking supermarket jobs in my area is fruitless, pointless, but relentless.
  4. Tumblr. This is a rather silly thing to have bookmarked, considering I can just type 'T' into my address bar and Tumblr appears. It's an addiction, and I'm not even ashamed.
  5. SplendidFred. The online magazine I occasionally write pieces for. My latest piece is currently headlining (it's a slightly edited version of my previous blog post about Reading Festival).
  6. WeHeartIt. A site of beautiful images and gifs, where everything is lit with fairy lights and washed down with a spoonful of Nutella. I often use this page for a) pictures to accompany blog posts, b) Tumblr posts, c) something pretty to look at.
  7. I also have a folder of gifs, to be used when appropriate - often in response to an anonymous ask on Tumblr, or to cheer a friend up when they're down.
  8. Charlieissocoollike's YouTube page. I can't help it. I'm in love with this guy.
  9. Cyanide and Happiness. I do adore this comic, however I'll admit that their recent stuff just isn't up to scratch. Bring back the classics please!

I think that paints a fair picture of me as a person/internet user. After reading my friend's bookmarks, however, I have realised the only thing missing is a live feed of kittens with scientist names.
So, blogger peeps, what do you have bookmarked? Because this bookmark bar tag is totally going to become a thing.

I'm here. (Again)

(Almost) One year on from my post "I'm here", I'm here again. Back in Winchester, my second home that I now refer to as simply "home", the city that's really more like a town, about to start a new year of university. Except this time I'm sitting in the living room of a bright red house in the student estate down the road from campus, rather than in the bedroom in the student village at the top of the hill on campus, and I'm starting my second year instead of my first; I'm a Fresher no more, now I'm ancient and responsible and ready for anything. This is the year when the Real Stuff starts.

I didn't cry when my parents left, although I had a longer-than-necessary hug with my mum and stared at my family photo on my windowsill for a while after unpacking in my teeny little room. I've spent a ridiculous amount of money on food and cooked myself a few meagre meals, I'm carrying my phone iPhone charger with me everywhere as well as a bottle of Archers, I've spent our internet-less days watching Friends and several seasons of Jersey Shore with the new housemates, and painting my nails with my housegirl while gossiping. We've met our landlord, laughed at his cheeky jokes and made him a cup of coffee (black with sugar), made a list for the handyman, done all the boring bank/bills/letting agent stuff, and figured out where the recycling bin is. I've been wandering back and forth between my place and friends' places down the road, up the hill, round the corner and two doors down; I definitely miss being across the street from one another in our little village, but I'll get used to it eventually. Having no internet for a week was surprisingly easy - I barely had any withdrawal symptoms. I've been drunk and disorderly with my favourite people several times already. The bathroom is tiny and the ceiling above the shower has a dangerous slope to it, so I am crouching/leaning while I wash my hair. We've recently found out that the previous tenants of this house sold drugs, were busted by the police, broke everything there was to break, and filmed amateur porn in my housemate's downstairs bedroom (her room had previously been dubbed The Nunnery, but due to this revelation it is now The Sex Dungeon). My mum has sent me my first care parcel, containing keyrings and a fold-out brush. I spent a fortune in Ikea beautifying my room; red heart-shaped fairy lights and scented candles are essential items for a student's bedroom.
I'm currently writing three blog posts at once. It's good to be back.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Diary of a Festival Virgin.

Eating red pepper humus sandwiches on the train to Reading. Listening to my 'Fest' playlist and feeling the most immense anticipation mixed with anxiety. I have my backpack on my lap and my tent all packed away in a bag on the seat next to me. Most of the regulars on the train are gawking at me, probably wondering why I'm wearing wellies and denim shorts plus a headband of flowers. The rest of the people on the train are also carrying oversized backpacks and wearing impractical clothing; they nod and smile at me knowingly. We're going the same way, you and I.


My best mate Phil's rather cool vlog about Fest. I guest star.

The next five days are more of a haze than a blur. The sun shines almost constantly, and when it rains it pours - but doesn't dampen the spirit (much). My friends are screaming at me "Grace, you're at a festival!" whenever I complain about the state of my hair or lack of makeup. I'm searching every crowd frantically for a glimpse of friends from home or my ex-boyfriend. I desperately want to be on the Big Screen at the Main Stage. My friends and I loot an abandoned tent nearby to find a loaf of bread, several packets of Snack A Jacks and custard creams, and we shout "guys, we've struck gold!" upon finding a sealed jar of Nutella. We get drunk at noon. I'm so used to the smell of weed that coming across a pocket of fresh air is both alien and unexpected. We ran to the arena in the rain to catch Green Day's secret gig; I stared up at Billy Joe and was suddenly fifteen again. We tried to light a campfire consisting of damp cardboard and Fosters cans. I cried in the arms of my best friend for most of the second night, then was laughing again the next morning. Every single person who walks past while we're mid-conversation gets pointed at and told "this guy knows what I'm talking about!" We spent one afternoon scribbling all over one another's exposed skin with face paint pens and Sharpie. People are constantly coming to our campsite asking if we're selling drugs, or offering us some; "Noss"/laughing gas is wildly popular, we even meet a guy who has 90 canisters in his tent and is giving out freebies. We grab a cheeky five minutes inhaling oxygen for £5 at the Oxygen Bar, to keep our energy up for the Foo Fighters gig. Our crazy drunk friend wears a FREE HUGS shirt and thus it takes us forever to get through the crowds. My bestie and I fall asleep at 9pm, wake up at 11pm and go to the Silent Arena. My moods change on an hourly basis and I'm not sure why; is it the antibiotics, the drinking, the lack of sleep, my Pill, my friends, the sex, the crowds, the music, being away from home? Who knows. I'm terrified of being up on someone's shoulders, but I love the feeling. Talking to random people and finding they're all lovely and friendly (and just as chatty as me) is the nicest and most shocking thing about this festival business. Feeling close to people I've only just met, and even closer to my existing friends, is the best. The toilets are disgusting and as the week progresses I can smell them from across the campsite; I'm not comfortable talking about toilets or bodily functions so I sit and cringe quietly while all my friends do. Everyone is giving up smoking after this weekend. The girl two tents over needs a smack and a reality check - she also needs to stop stealing my friends. I accidentally stole a bottle of Archers from Sainsbury's. I desperately need a shower. Florence Welch is like a real-life fairy, Dave Grohl is insane and Tom Delonge calls himself Thomas. The expression "bantabantabanta" is not going to become a thing. All girls on site seem to be perfectly comfortable showing half their arses all day long; the drinking game Slut Shorts is guaranteed to get you wankered. We said hi to Fearne Cotton and Greg James. I had a shower in Sunningdale. We quote Drake & Josh. I was amazed at how incredible the music was, and how much I enjoyed it, given that the main reason I'd come to Fest was for the social antics and the atmosphere.


My stupid and pointless Reading Festival video.

I'm coming home in filthy clothes, covered in pen scribbles and with a grumbling tummy, immediately watching the Reading highlights on TV, being practically pushed into the shower by my family... This festival virgin has had the best week/weekend ever, and is sad to be back in the real world.
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