March: Instagram Highlights

A new kind of post, hello. I’ve wanted to do these for a while, a little round-up of my favourite images from my main Instagram this month. There are lots because it was so busy! It was also my birthday, so that helps.

Highlights include: puppy cuddles, excellent books, an artsy throwback, unashamed selfies galore, an artistic accident at work, launch snippets, and birthday presents.

If you want to follow, you can do so here.

In which I found a crack in the Universe

Or at the very least, imagined a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

Hello, bloglings of varying shapes, sizes and mythical denominations. It has become increasingly obvious to me that I may have stumbled across a crack in the universe and now she’s trying her hardest to fill it in, to make me either forget about it or to convince me I am a little bit nuts and have made-up memories. Either way, it’s working, so here I am writing a blog post about it.

I realise that this all sounds a bit mad, so I am going to explain myself.

Circa 2011/2012 I was given a copy of the leatherbound Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions). It is a beautiful edition, which currently resides at my parents’ house due to my severe lack bookshelves and space to put bookshelves. I vividly remember flicking through this book in my bedroom the aforementioned parents’ house, I remember the room’s dark purples and limited light adding an ambience to the whole thing. I remember feeling the pages in my hands and flipping it open to a random point in the book.

I remember a very short poem. Shorter than any Poe I had ever read previously. It was about a grave/death. A woman being in the ground. I remember nothing else about this poem. I so vividly remember finding it and being so in love with it. I remember adding it to my profile on Elftown, my once upon a time internet hang-out. Naturally, I deleted it at some point so it is no longer there to find.

No one I know who enjoys Mister Poe seemed to be aware of this poem’s existence. Google searching phrases like ‘shortest Edgar Allan Poe poem’ yields stanzas upon stanzas and nothing even nearly as short as I remember. This had been haunting me for years but anytime I was near enough my copy of the book to check, I’d forgotten that it was bothering me. Clearly, the universe didn’t want me to know something.

To that, I say screw you, universe! (I’m kidding, I love you really, you contain the stars and the planets and the moon and I find all of those things fascinating and inspiring and terrible – the great unknown is always terrible – in equal measure.)

This story has a happy ending, though. I’ve had spurts of looking for this poem and failing for the last few years, and I’ve never progressed in my search. Until now. While ranting to my best friend, who humours all of my weird and wonderful ways and knows exactly when to offer sympathy even though I am being ridiculous, I suddenly had a vague flicker of memory which I have never had before. I was suddenly struck with the knowledge that one of the words in the poem was ‘earth’ and another was ‘deep’. In all my years of searching, I’ve never had any inkling of the contents except for a vague understanding of the theme (grave/death, woman – or so I presumed anyway).

The universe has finally decided I am ready.

It is with thanks to the universe (and a hope that the universe is not offended by my earlier comment), that I present to you my favourite poem which was found scribbled in the margins of the manuscript for ‘Eulalie’.

Deep in Earth (1847)

Deep in earth my love is lying
And I must weep alone.

On insta-love

Greetings, greetings, one and all. This is a bit of a weird one, bear with me though because I think it’s worth reading. (Well, would, I am the one writing it.)

Insta-love. Not the kind you show on instagram by liking as many of someone’s photos as is humanly possible in one sitting (though, that can be good) but the kind you see in books and movies. Often hailed as unrealistic and annoying and a plot-ruiner.

Well, I have a confession to make on that front.

It’s not that unrealistic. (Controversial?) Sure, if it’s terribly written or portrayed and you’re getting no feeling from either character, I can understand it ruining everything. But as a thing, on the whole, it’s not that bad. Love is weird and it’s different for everyone. This is common knowledge. A love being different to the love I experience, doesn’t make that love invalid and I would never dream of saying it does so why do we assume insta-love isn’t a thing?

Why am I writing about this? Why am I defending insta-love? Well, quite simply, because I feel it myself. Perhaps not full-blown cherubs-with-trumpets-I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you-immediately love but it’s very fast.

Context: I met my boyfriend through online dating, we spoke for maybe a week before we met each other in person. We spent a day together and before he went home, I ended up deciding ‘Yup, this is the person I want to be with.’ (If we’re being completely honest, I decided that about an hour into the day.) He agreed. And so we officially became a thing. I didn’t need a second date to know that he was who I wanted, or that a relationship with him was both what I wanted and right for me at the time. Over a year and a half later, and here we still are, living together harmoniously in a little flat on the top of a hill.

I can’t ‘date’. I don’t see the point in devoting time to someone I don’t see or want a future with. If I decide to be with someone it’s because I’m in it for the long-haul from day one. When I was doing the online dating thing, if I felt a strong connection with someone (like my other half) I would cease talking to anyone else on that platform until I had confirmed whether it was something both of us wanted to pursue.

I feel very quickly and very deeply – I felt strong feelings for my other half before we even met. I am exactly the kind of character that gets complained about for being unrealistic but does my existence not make all of those claims a little bit false? Sure, it might be annoying as hell, and it might be difficult to understand if it’s not something you go through, but it’s very much a real thing.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, it hurts when it goes wrong – especially when it goes wrong after a short period of time and the people around you can’t quite understand why you’re so upset about it. That side of things, I think, needs to be explored more. I’m all for happy, wonderful love stories but I’m also all for raw, emotional, painful, not-quite love stories.

A lot of the complaints about it come from young adult fiction, and TV shows and films aimed at teenagers but it’s very much something that teenagers go through. I had so many dramatic unrequited teenage crushes and my teenage relationship(s), other than being a train-wreck, were very much that immediate, sickly sweet kind and so were many of the other teen relationships going on around me. What’s important, I think, is that books/films/shows that deal in insta-love should also deal with how to react healthily to it ending. There are so few stories that I know of that can be used as an example of a healthy way of dealing with a break-up, if you know any, do share them.

Is it just me? Am I the only person on this planet who gets insta-love and doesn’t revile it on principle? Am I speaking into the void?

The One Where I Return to the Internet, Again

Hello. I come to you this time not with apologies or excuses for my random disappearance, but with an explanation of my planned absence. Yep. You read that correctly, it was planned! I didn’t announce it but I planned it. (Though, it is probably not a coincidence that I planned it before my entry for The Goblet of Fire, as I will explain in the next entry, which will be that one.) I probably should have announced it but I didn’t want to give myself a date to be back by, I wanted to come back when I felt ready to.

In May, I left the world of commuting to and from London, working for a publisher and living in pretty little Oxfordshire. I had a big life change, and I needed time to get used to it.

Back in April, I was offered a job designing t-shirts in the West Midlands (book-themed, politics, pop culture, sport, you name it, and I probably do it). It seemed fun so I went for it. The location meant that I was able to move in with my long-suffering other half (long-suffering because he has to deal with me 24/7 now). I’ve been working there for three months now and the creativity is fab, it’s evolved from just t-shirts to stationery and social media and all sorts of things I didn’t think I would be doing. I even designed some wrapping paper!

My publishing job was the first job I ever really had so this is both the first time I’ve had a job move but also the first time I have moved in with a partner – everything in my life changed all at once, it wasn’t quite as overwhelming as I thought it would be.

In July, after over a year and a half of lessons (and a whole lot of emotions), I passed my driving test first time! I moved my beautiful car up to the West Midlands in August, and had the shock of my life when I dealt with my first really steep hill. Luckily, I’ve got the hang of them now, after a little bit of self doubt and wondering why, oh why, they had let me pass my test.

A bit later in July, I decided to embark on a journey. A Slimming World journey. If you follow my Tumblr, you may have seen some body image posts in the past. I’ve struggled with my body for a long time, lost lots of weight in short periods of time by being very, very unhealthy and then put it back on again and then some when I got comfortable. I’ve resolved not to do that anymore. Slimming World is excellent, I am a fair way away from my target but I feel healthier and I am eating excellent food. I may post about my food at some point. I have since set up an Instagram devoted to my SW journey, it’s mostly food, but if you want to follow it, you can find it here.

What else has happened? I’m currently working on my second bit of wedding editing of the year, the third will come in November. Both weddings were lovely and I may post about them in the future.

All in all, I’ve been super busy, and I finally feel like my life is settling into a routine, and blogging can be part of it again.

On being grateful

Over the last week, my often-mentioned, very talented friend Mike Medaglia announced his next book in the wonderfully successful One Year Wiser series. The simply and aptly named One Year Wiser: A Gratitude Journal does what it says on the tin. It is a journal that allows you space to write one years’ worth of things you are grateful for alongside quotes and other fun things.

And that’s what poetry is. A human attempt to comprehend and share personal experiences of the things that exist just beyond our perception and comprehension.
Mike Medaglia on Poetry and Wonder from The Mindful Life Illustrated

This announcement, along with Mike’s Mindful Life Illustrated Elephant Journal posts on all things mindfulness, gratitude and generally living well, spiritually and mentally, has made me think of all of the things I am thankful for. Well, actually, the thing that triggered my thinking was a beautiful sunset on the way home from work but then I was reminded of Mike, then I matched that with a video I watched last night by Carrie Hope Fletcher and then that spiralled into everything else and so we ended up here. You and me, on this blog.

If you’ve read Mike’s writing, you know that it has the power to make you think about things, really think about things (and if you haven’t, you should). And so, thinking about things, I am. So, without further ado and pomp, I present to you:

A little ramble of things I am thankful for

How to survive a funeral

If you look, see a
box. Cry
for the melting snow.
For the flowers,
miscarriages of colour
returned to the earth like bulbs.

Bethan Ford-Williams

I am grateful for poetry, and the ability to write it, and the fact that I spent three years around people who were excellent at it and who loved it as much as I did and in some cases more. I am grateful for spending three years writing and reading and knowing that doing that was okay, maybe a bit self-indulgent at times (maybe a lot of the time) but that it was something worth doing.

I am thankful for the opportunities that those three years afforded me, and that I took a chance, when I was seventeen, and looked into university without ever really intending to go.

mum and dad

I feel so grateful to have the parents that I do, who are unfailingly supportive (even if my Dad tells me I drive incorrectly). I am thankful that they are the incredibly weird people they are because otherwise I would not be the incredibly weird person I am. (And that would be a shame for everyone involved.)

Even when they have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, or doing, or think I am being dramatic (I probably am), they support me, share in my laughter and laugh at me when the situation calls for it.

Selfies with the parentsI do not thank my parents enough for the relationship we have; the way we have never really had a fight; the way they take selfies with me even though it’s often ridiculous and very much in public; the way they let me dig at them for saying words that aren’t actually real words.

The cinema trips and drives with Dad, the shopping days and lazing around on the sofa with mum (and the dog). I am so lucky to have my parents, and I don’t tell them enough or talk about my feelings to them very often but I like to think I show them.

I am thankful for sunsets and clouds and stars and the sea. I am thankful for tiny, fluffy animals and animated gifs. I am thankful for chocolate (so thankful for chocolate). I am thankful for cobbled streets and houses with beams, but I am also thankful for towering buildings with walls made out of nothing but windows.

I am thankful for books and vanilla chai tea. I am thankful for friends and movies and ice cream.

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I am thankful for my best friend, who I wax lyrically about on a semi-regular basis, I am thankful that I have someone in my life who understands me as she does and who lets me sit in the corner, doing my own thing and is content just to be in the same room. I am thankful that she walked up to me as I was stood on the steps of our college. I am thankful she didn’t run away when I continued the conversation I was having with myself in my head, with her out loud without providing any semblance of context. I am glad she just rolled with it.

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“My sister is gonna make a mint, everyone can see her potential is f***ing phenomenal.”

Overheard from
the garden in 2011

I am thankful for my brother. He is one of the most irritating human beings on Earth but he is also my brother. I am grateful for the nice things he says about me when he thinks I can’t hear him and that he likes to throw wrapping paper at my head at Christmas, so much so that it is now tradition. And I am also grateful for hilariously out of tune sing-a-longs. I am grateful that I have a brother.

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I am thankful for grandparents. Grandparents are precious, and if you have any still with you, pick up the phone and give them a call or go round and give them a hug. I am so lucky to have had my grandparents right up until my twenties, and I am so lucky to have had not two but three sets of them! (Long story short: we adopted some close family friends who lived in the house at the bottom of our garden, and they, too, adopted us.) I am lucky enough to still have my Nanna (on my mum’s side) and my adoptive grandad still with me. I am thankful for their existence, and their stories, and the stories I can take forward and tell my one-day children and grandchildren.

I am thankful for stories, and photography. I am thankful for mist and hills and beaches. I am thankful for the way that light shines through leaves. I am thankful for those of you still reading this ramble.

he and i

I am thankful for my other half, at whose desk I am sitting while finishing this post. I am thankful for his patience when I am stressed and his support when I am feeling needy. I am thankful for his willingness to stay in with me on a Saturday while we look after my Nanna and watch nothing but old musicals and every single Lassie film that exists.

I am grateful that he took the time to respond to my message on okcupid, and that we found a time to meet and both dived in head first. I am slightly jealous of how smitten my dog is with him (it’s not fair) and how my laptop seems to really want to please him and only turns on when he is around (it’s really not fair). I am thankful for taking chances.

I am thankful that we share so many obsessions and yet still find things to each have of our own. I feel grateful that he has an incredibly lovely family, and that my own family accept and approve of him whole-heartedly. I am thankful for the sheer amount of ridiculous selfies he has let me force him into.

I am grateful that I have my own little corner of the internet to write my thoughts and review my books and fill with whatever floats my considerably eclectic dinghy. I am thankful for the people who read it. What are you thankful for?

On Disappearing from the Internet

Um. Hello. So, the title of this blog is a little misleading; I didn’t disappear from the entire internet, I’ve been incredibly active on Instagram, my random junk Tumblr, my inspiration Tumblr and my personal Facebook page. What the title of this blog should say is ‘On Disappearing from my Blog, Twitter, Flickr and other such Public Places, and the Pausing of the Definition Project’ but that is clunky and sounds too much like a chapter title from some kind of cyber fantasy novel (probably not a very good one). I’ve been meaning to come back for a while and, upon seeing lovely posts from lovely people like MikeMel (welcome back to you too!) and Georgia, I have decided that now is the time.

Originally, I disappeared because I was ill, nothing too horrendous but enough to render me useless for about five weeks. I always meant to start again once I was better but, as it often goes, life happened. So here is a list, in no particular order, for anyone who is interested, of things that I have done and things that have happened since my last post. To find out about the Definition Project, skip to the bottom.

  • Saw Miss Saigon in the Westend
  • Gained wonderful new people
  • Lost less wonderful people
  • Turned twenty-four
  • Irritated the dog (in a very loving way)
  • Designed several books (expect a post about book covers shortly)
  • Visited Dudley Zoo and Castle

  • Discovered and cultivated an obsession with steamed dumplings
  • Consumed a lot of pancakes
  • Bought a car
  • Passed my theory test
  • Read several good books
  • Dyed my hair

  • Failed to re-dye it (it’s on the list)
  • Started collecting crescent moon chokers
  • Checked out a few of the owls in The Big Hoot
  • Got a new tattoo (post to come)
  • Felt super good about myself
  • Started using the word ‘super’ a lot
  • Added many books to my wish list
  • Lost my oomph
  • Tentatively started finding it again
  • Almost broke my laptop, but it’s hanging in there (darn Windows updates)
  • Created a wonderful spotify playlist
  • Needed more sleep
  • Travelled on many trains
  • Visited friends
  • Went to Lancaster for the first time
  • Had many terrible driving lessons, and a fair few good ones (more good than bad from now, we hope)
  • Resolved not to rush myself
  • Ran the work Instagram
  • Cooked a three course meal, without ruining it
  • Went to a vintage bazaar
  • Sent lots of emails

Alright, it doesn’t sound like much but I am ready to take a leap back into this blogging lark and will probably use this list to generate ideas. I will return to my design posts and my book posts but I won’t be as strict with myself. I will allow myself to post about what I like, be that incredibly nerdy tattoos or my inability to stick to schedules. Who knows.

The Definition Project

The beady-eyed among you have probably noticed that my weekly project is not so much weekly anymore. Originally, as above, I paused due to illness. Having done that, I realised I wanted that project to be as good as it possibly can be and I don’t think that is possible when trying to create something new each week with limited locations and resources.

The last image I posted is one of the best images I have ever created, I think, and I want all of the images to be of that standard or better (if I can!) so I am waiting until I have access to more locations (and the ability to drive so that I can get there), more money to put into it, more oomph and a computer that can handle working on such large files. Currently, I can only do simple edits, rather than the composites I am more fond of, my laptop is steadily dying. Once it is replaced, I will be creating magic once more. Watch this space. Big things are to come.

A Month, an apology, and perhaps an explanation

That is how long it’s been since I have updated this blog. I had a round up planned for the new year, a selection of interesting things I found (mostly via YA Highway) and read throughout the year, a selection of important things that happened in 2012 in the publishing industry, a selection of books which I thought were brilliant. But it’s been a month. And that hasn’t happened.

January was supposed to be a time of productivity, work, finding placements. (The latter I have at least attempted to no reply… so far.) January is not going as planned.

I have to apologise for the lack of updates and for this entry as well, and for the sparse entries that will follow. I didn’t want to make this blog too personal, only including the important things like Graduation (and the pretty cupcakes that occurred around that time because everyone needs cupcakes sometimes), so I will keep this short: on December 29th, 2012, I lost someone  and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel. I don’t know how long it will take, it’s always different, but I do know that I will try to update this more often with interesting bookish things. I just need to get back into the swing of things again.

I can be good at this blogging thing. I really can. Sometimes.

Graduation and Cupcakes

So last Friday (Nov. 2nd) I graduated from my BA at the University of Chester and here I am in all my gowny glory after having walked through the city in the rain. It was just our luck that it would begin pelting at us as soon as our ceremony was over. But despite the rain it was a lovely day and I got to see all of the beautiful people who I’ve been missing since leaving Chester.

It was odd being a postgraduate student before I had actually graduated from my previous university and now I have I feel a lot more like a real person on a real degree in preparation for the real publishing world. (Yes, before I graduated everything was a little bit surreal.) It’s scary but I’m loving it.

Three years ago, graduation seemed very far away. Four years ago, I don’t think I even knew it was a possibility. My choice to go to university was made not through weeks and months of careful research and thinking but over about a week of looking at pictures of universities and what courses they had as part of a college class. I found Chester and I fell in love with it. When I discovered it had a Creative Writing course in my head I was there already. I applied to four other universities and was offered conditional places at all of them but I never really thought about going to any of them; I applied because I was told I should. For me, it was Chester or nothing.

Months later, I didn’t do as well as I thought I had in my A Levels and I thought university, and Chester, had slipped away from me. It took a horrible week of endless crying for them to tell me that even though I didn’t get enough points to meet the conditions of their offer, they were letting me in anyway. I have never felt such relief in my life.

Now, I’m half way through the first semester of my Masters. It’s scary how fast all of this has happened.

Anyway, back to graduation. After getting the gown and the awkward professionally taken photo which should arrive at my house in four to six weeks (I am not looking forward to it), myself, my family, my boyfriend and his family wandered into the city centre to await our ceremony. There were photos, shivering, squinting and the loss of our fathers who went on the hunt for coffee before we went into the Cathedral. I didn’t find out until a few days later where they actually ended up, luckily they got back just in time to be let in.

The ceremony was, well, a graduation ceremony with speeches and the procession of lecturers and such and the steady stream of graduates collecting their certificates. It made me smile that all of my friends got cheers as they went to accept their degrees and by smile, I mean grin like a fool. I was so worried about my shoes falling off that I think my own acceptance and walk around the Cathedral might have been painted with a small frown but I did make every attempt to smile at that too! After the ceremony, there was no real time for photos as the rain started and we had to rush to get our gowns back to the hire company before they got sopping wet.

The rest of the weekend was coloured with food and a lovely warm hotel room, which brings me the to the cupcakes part of the title. There’s a beautiful little tea room in Chester called Mad Hatters, who sell the most amazing cupcakes and bring out themed cupcakes for special occasions and public holidays. As it was near Bonfire Night, they did not disappoint.

Above is the Bonfire cupcake, purchased by a friend. I love the design of this cupcake, it was aptly chocolate orange flavour. Below is my apple and cinnamon cupcake and it was delicious. I have a weakness for apple and cinnamon flavoured things.

All in all, it was a lovely weekend. My next blog entry will be back on a publishing vein, looking at beautiful old photos and their usage in books and some which I picked up in Chester after graduation. So tune in within the next few days for that.