Wednesday, 25 July 2012

New Year's Resolutions.

These aren't your traditional New Year's Resolutions drunkenly listed on the night of December 31st as the clock begins to strike twelve; these are my resolutions for my second year at university.
Ironically, I made this list while I was totally sober, yet when I fulfil several of these items I expect I will be disgracefully drunk.

1. Join a sports team. 

Part of my valiant effort to get fit and lose weight, and because I actually genuinely miss PE lessons and after-school sports (despite the fact that I used to sneak out of my lessons and hide in the changing rooms when I was at school). I also miss the feeling of being part of a team. I need to get outside and run around more. I might be the only person who isn't joining a team solely for the social aspect; I love the thought of going to BOP on a Wednesday with a set fancy dress theme and taking part in stupid drinking games and dares, even initiations sound fun, but I wouldn't do it just for that. My housemate and I want to join a team together, and while I'm flirting with the idea of Dodgeball, Rounders or Ultimate, she'd rather do dance... We'll see how that goes. 

2. Be in more Student Scene videos.

The Student Scene are a group of absolutely lovely and fun-loving lads who take photos at the regular SU parties and arrange their own as well. Last year they put on the most legendary nights: two Frat Parties, Foam Party, UV Paint Rave, Creepy Carnival Halloween Ball, Snow Party, Jelly Pit Party... There are probably more I've forgotten, and there are many more yet to come. Sadly their summer camp hit a snag and they're having to cancel it; I was going to use it as my birthday party this year, I had that much confidence in how awesome it would be... Oh well. At every event they organize, they make a video consisting of embarrassing drunk interviews (as in, the student interviewees and the interviewer are all drunk), ridiculous dancing and the DJs mucking about. I've been in just two of their videos, and I intend to be in more this year. 

See me make my drunken cameo 4 minutes in...

3. Do my housework and take care of my bedroom.

I'm moving into a new house this year, with three friends (one girl, two guys). We're just starting to talk about "the practical stuff", i.e. paying for a TV licence, sorting out who's bringing what, which kitchen equipment the two vegetarians (both of us girls) can and can't share, what's the best way to move in... My main concern is my bedroom. I have the small room, and I've come to terms with it after a lot of crying, and I intend to make it beautiful and somehow give it a spacious feel. I don't want to spend all of my time next year in the living room doing work or watching TV, because if I do what's the point paying rent for my room? I really really want the kind of room I can do anything in (interpret that as you will).

Get over the hills.

The city of Winchester is built on hills. Outrageously steep, unforgiving and unrelenting hills. On days when I'd wander into town to do my grocery shopping I'd always get the bus back to halls, which is fair enough if you're weighed down with Sainsbury's bags, but if you're bag-less and have enough energy, you really should walk - to get exercise and to save yourself £1.25. Next year should be easier, since I'm not living in the student village at the top of the hill any more; instead I'm on the housing estate just around the corner from the main campus which means I'll be walking on almost level ground to and from lectures. This makes me happy. The walk into town will still be hilly, but compared to last year it's really nothing. I hope when I'm walking the slightly uphill path to the train station, I'll remember how much worse it used to be.
5. Stay out of my overdraft.

This was my resolution for the second semester; it lasted maybe four weeks. I mostly blame nights out for my dire bank situation - due to my constant fear of being left out, I attended every night out that was offered to me and subsequently frittered away all my money until I was into minus figures. I relied on my parents to fund my train tickets home, I avoided checking my balance at the ATM, and for the whole of December I lived of toast and crackers because I'd spent all my money on Christmas presents. Also next year, money becomes more of a necessity as I'm paying rent monthly out of my account instead of using my whole student loan to pay for accommodation as I did this year. This shit just got serious, folks. If I ever tweet about spending money I don't have, or if you catch me uttering the word "overdraft", please sit me down, slap me hard across the face, and force me to re-read this. 

6. Surprise people.

Last year I surprised friends and family by travelling home on weekends without telling them, or visiting them at their various different universities after saying I couldn't make it. I also sent letters and presents to people I loved most. Every single surprise went off without a hitch, and surprising people became my new favourite thing. However, this year I want to surprise people in a different way too - by being kind and considerate, working hard, and proving their negative preconceptions about me wrong.
A few months ago, I got talking to a girl I knew of but had never actually met. We realised we had a lot in common and had fun chatting. I knew she'd been fed nasty lies about me from certain people, and I was determined to show her how wrong they were. The next day, she popped up on Facebook saying "I'm so sorry I judged you before I met you. You seem really nice!" This made me indescribably happy, and I want to have this happen more. I want to surprise my family (and pretty much everyone else, actually) by getting a good grade, too.

7. Keep my friends.

It sounds silly, and I'm probably going to give a terrible impression by writing this, but last year I lost a few of my dearest friends. Some of them simply dropped off and didn't bother maintaining the friendship after they moved on to either uni or work, and that was sad enough, but two of my closest friends in particular really upset me when they just decided between them that I wasn't worth their time any more. However I'm sure I wasn't totally blameless in it all so I've promised myself to keep all my friends close - even if it's hard and it hurts having them so far away, or if it just seems like too much effort to walk uphill to their house for predrinks (this ties in nicely with Resolution #4). I need to remember just how empty my life would be without the people I love most, and make every effort to make sure I never have to live that way.

Red Indian night was the best night.

8. Remember why I'm here.

Whenever I talk to someone about my life at uni, I always seem to mention my course last, or they have to prompt me on it. It makes no sense, because I love my course. I feel like I've found what I'm meant to do, and I love living and working in an environment with like-minded people who are fun and inspiring. Pretty much everyone on my course has a blog and/or a Tumblr page, plus a Twitter account; my kinda people. Also, the course is fascinating. I'll admit Drama has been pretty tame this year, but having chosen my modules next for Year Two I know it will be so much better. Creative Writing has been perfect, and I actually can't wait to learn more and write more.

9. Write more.

Just generally write more. Carry around a notebook, which is totally cliche but has to be done, write down every idea that pops into my head and see if I can expand on them later. Practice automatic writing and writing in character, which can be extremely useful for both sides of my course. Try to write a certain number of blog posts a week, maybe even on certain days just for consistency, rather than continuing my erratic pattern of several in one day and then none for a week.

10. Don't get homesick.

I ruined most of my first semester last year by getting worked up and miserable about being away from home. I missed my family, my friends, my home comforts and my lovely small town. Because I was so focused on being homesick, I missed out on all the initial joys and freedom of being away from home. I know I wasn't the only one who struggled, but looking back I can see how pointless it was and how I alienated myself from the wonderful people whom I am going to be spending three years with just to wallow in pointless useless sadness.

Take more photos.

I am a photo fiend. I take millions of photos with my hench DSLR on a night out, at a party or on a sunny day, then rush home to edit them and upload them all within a couple of hours. Friends of mine have logged onto Facey B at 9am to find photos of the night before already uploaded (probably around 4-5am). I still think I could take more, though. I may even make a few videos of special occasions or just normal days; just to have things to look back on when I'm old, wrinkly and bitter.

12. Hang out.

Last year I spent most of my time around other people's halls and houses rather than my own. It wasn't until the end of the second term and the four assessment weeks that I began to appreciate my flatmates properly, and spend more time in my own home. This year will be radically different, of course - we're all in houses, and some of my friends will be living a good walk away (uphill). My house is in the perfect location, so I'm hoping plenty of people will come and see me for a change, but I'll understand if they don't want to. I need the exercise walking provides anyway. Luckily I have a best friend living two doors down, so whether he likes it or not, I'll be hanging out there quite a bit.

13. Make more effort.

Work harder, play harder, etc. I want to push myself, because this year my grade actually counts towards my degree, and I want my 2:1 (I would say a First, but I know that'll be almost impossible). I also need to make more effort when it comes to parties and nights out; I need to work harder on my costumes for BOP and Flirt nights, I need to stop ducking out and getting a taxi home from town at midnight, and I need to start getting excited about going out on the town rather than just being in it for the predrinks.

Take more risks.

The biggest risks I took last year were: singing on karaoke night, telling a guy I liked him, wearing expensive Topshop denim shorts to a foam party, running away to London for a night, having a Chinese takeaway with people I barely knew, sleeping with one of my best friends, spending all my money, getting three new piercings, coming home with a nose ring instead of a stud, shouting back at a bully, letting a friend dye my hair and vandalizing some flats in the other student village. I reckon I can do better.

West Downs forever!

The plan is to write a blog post at the end of my second year saying whether or not, or to what extent, I met these resolutions. Then of course, the Third Year Resolutions need to be made...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Hi, my name's Gracie. I am constantly bored, I have nearly a thousand followers on Tumblr, my favourite perfume is Coco Mademoiselle, I am currently making money as a photographer, I write for an online magazine, I get severe Dominos cravings, I could quote Gilmore Girls all day long, I will never wear anything gold, I like my lattes made by JJ, I cannot stand the word "ain't", I have a strange inexplicable grudge against every blonde girl in existence, I'm teaching my mum to love Blink-182, apparently I'm a crazy driver, I believe coincidences are meant to tell us something, I over-think every single thing, I don't know what I'd do without my best friend, I need to go to PostSecret live in London, I make amazing toast, my house next year is painted bright red, my birthday is very important to me, I've been hurt one too many times, but I'm getting better.

I do one of these posts every month.

Uni blues.

Recently I've been consumed with my longing to get back to university. Not that I don't love spending day after day sitting on the sofa at home staring blankly at the TV and my laptop, and sneaking in at 3am after the occasional (and very rare) night out, making sure I don't wake my parents or little sister by stepping on creaky floorboards or banging the bathroom door shut...
Seriously though, I do adore being home most of the time, and you can't beat the home comforts. I've been eating more healthily, going to the gym and spending quality time with the family; my lunches with Mum are a daily treat, I love driving my little sister to and from school, and it's nice being able to chat to my Dad whenever I feel like it.

There are little things I miss about uni life, though. Privacy, for one. I had a lock on my bedroom door at uni, and although I don't have too much of an issue with people walking in and out of my room at home, it's just a nice feeling being able to lock the door. I also sometimes miss my snack drawer I had at uni, and the general ability to eat whatever I want whenever I want. Making toast with Nutella every night at 11pm, having a massive pasta dish for lunch and ordering Dominos a couple of times a week... I even miss spelling dirty words with the fridge magnets.

I think people underestimate just how boring my life is nowadays. I say to friends when we're planning a day/night out: "just let me know which day, I'm free whenever!" And I do honestly mean I am free whenever. I don't have a steady job - nowhere will employ me as I'm only here until September, so I'm doing writing and photography work plus taxi services to earn some cash, I feel like a struggling artist... I don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend, which is what seems to occupy my friends' time the most, and I don't have any pressing family obligations coming up - although I do love to spend lunchtimes every day watching CSI with my mum, and it's my birthday next week, although that's obviously not an obligation.
I've got into a pattern with my parents recently; they'll suggest I meet up with a friend, and I'll say "I can't, they're busy. They have a life!" A life in this situation meaning a job, a relationship and a lot of plans.

I hear from friends in Winchester who have already moved into their new houses, who are settling in and spending every day together decorating, going shopping or just sitting talking in front of the TV. They're mostly just bored and worrying about money. I am so jealous of them all. I want to move into my new house, start decorating my new bedroom, cook myself something really unhealthy and hang out with my friends.
Only one more month of waiting...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pirate Day 2012.

"No Matter What You Are, No Matter Who You Are…
On Sunday 22nd July… You’re a PIRATE!"
Back in 2009, some brilliant minds decided to host a gathering of pirates in the supposedly idyllic seaside town of Hastings. They encouraged members of the public to come and roam around town dressed as buccaneers and wenches, marauders and seadogs. The aim: to break the Guinness World Record for "Largest Gathering of Pirates".
They beat the record by 2,000 people; their total was 6,166.

Today, just three years later, thanks to an advanced online campaign, flyers plastered all over town, and just general word of mouth, Hastings saw 14,231 pirates storming its beaches, flooding the old town and climbing the cliffs; brandishing plastic swords, scoffing burgers and drinking the pubs dry. The Red Arrows made an appearance at this prestigious event, flying over the beach and entertaining the colourful crowd. The fairground was very popular, as was the Adventure Golf and F8 Karting track. Queues were abundant; for the toilets, the cafes, and the only ATM in the Old Town.

There were but a few rules in place: pirates must wear a pirate style hat/bandana/headscarf, carry an accessory such as sword, musket, skull, eyepatch, parrot or skull and crossbones flag, wear a plain shirt or striped shirt and pantaloons or jeans.

The true magic of the day was captured in the broad spectrum of participants. Firstly, there was no age restriction in place to be a pirate; toddlers chased one another across the pebbled beaches waving their tiny toy guns, teenagers congregated outside the fish 'n' chip shops, over 18s poured alcohol into their litre bottles of Coke, parents pushed prams through town, older chaps drank outside pubs singing 'Drunken Sailor', octogenarians chatted happily in all their pirate finery.
Also, the beauty of Pirate Day is that it is now international. Pirates fly in from all over the world to be part of this legendary event. French and Spanish families wander up and down the seafront babbling and giggling, coaches of Italian students pull up and teenage pirates pour out. It's quite humbling to see.

For the past few years I've missed Pirate Day; I've always been on holiday or away from home for some other reason, so this year I was determined to make a real go of it. I donned my once-fashionable never-worn harem trousers, my old pirate waistcoat from the dressing up box, slipped my feet into bejeweled flip flops, and wrapped a designer Primark scarf around my head. I took part in the queuing for proper seaside chips, abused unsuspecting bystanders with my cutlass, and indulged in a little amateur pirate-speak. It was everything I hoped it to be.

Highlight of the day? Watching a gang of pirates thunder down the high street in a homemade pirate ship.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Happy Birthday to me...

My birthday is my favourite time of year. It is also the most awkward time of year. It always falls in the summer holidays, which I used to think was wonderful because I hated the thought of spending my birthday at school - but now I'm thinking how nice it would have been to walk around school all day wearing a birthday badge and carrying balloons and bags of presents like everyone else did, being wished a Happy Birthday by every teacher and every student, even those I didn't know. I'm only realising now I am at uni just how inconvenient a summer birthday is. My friends are not only scattered all over the country and have to spend a fortune on petrol or train tickets to see me, but also the majority of them are on holiday abroad on the day of my birthday and the weeks leading up to it. I have to plan a birthday party around holidays and work out a way to get everyone together, and I'll be honest... It's impossible.

I miss the days when your parents organised your birthday parties for you, and they always happened on the day of your birthday or the closest Saturday afternoon to it, and it was always in your back garden or the local village hall, and you played games with balloons and ate cake shaped like a ladybird (just me? Okay).Recently, all my birthday has done is stressed me out. It shouldn’t be like that.

Also, who wants to know why I was born at such an awkward time? Because my Mum planned her pregnancy so she'd be on maternity leave when Wimbledon was on TV.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

I do(n't) care.

In general, I believe that it's a waste of time to care about what others think of you. In some situations, obviously it's understandable and probably best that you do care, for example if you're in a job interview and you want the employer to adore you, or if you want your teacher to consider you a good student... But nine times out of ten when you worry about others thinking certain things about you, it's only going to hurt you.
The people in your class aren't going to notice that you've worn the same clothes twice in a week, the boy you work with won't judge you solely on your handwriting, your teammates won't shake their head when you tell them you have a hangover and a new acquaintance shouldn't mind that you need to go outside for a quick smoke.

There are only a few people whose opinions you should really care about, and those people are those closest to you. I only care about what my best friends think of me, whether or not my little sister looks up to me, and what my parents see in me.
Today, I had a tense exchange with my Mum in the car as I was driving her somewhere. It transpired that she didn't feel safe in the car, she worried about me coasting and taking risks on the road and I took this to mean she thought I was a bad driver. My friends give me a hard time about my driving anyway, but mostly that's because I'm busy chatting to them as I drive. Whenever my parents are in the car with me (which I ensure is hardly ever), I drive as though I am both re-sitting my test and carrying a member of the royal family. So her even implying t
his hurt, because I hate her thinking badly of me. In the past, I've laughed it off when I asked her if she thought I was a slut and she didn't reply, because I knew she was joking. I took offence once, however, when she and my Dad didn't trust me to have a boy stay in my bedroom for a couple of nights.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend I hadn't seen in ages and he asked about my love life, specifically my magic number. I told him, and very reluctantly added the names of those he might know. I instantly regretted it, and spent the next couple of hours frantically begging him not to think badly of me because of a couple of mistakes I'd made.
I also refused to tell some of my favourite uni friends my (by social standards low but to them comparatively high) number, because they had all behaved themselves and had proper relationships, etc.

I used to care what everyone thought of me. There was a time in my life when I wore certain clothes, listened to certain music and acted a certain way just to gain the approval of my peers. I stopped eating lunch because none of the other girls ate lunch. I once tripped up some steps at school and cried because a random girl saw me and shouted "loser!"
It was when I first mentioned that I was wanting to audition for my school's Christmas Pantomime and was met with snorts of laughter from my classmates that I decided not to care any more - I auditioned that year, and the following year, and every year after that, and I always got great roles and met more people similar to me who showed me that not caring is the best thing you can do.

If you go through life seeking approval and going against what you believe or what you want just because you worry about how you'll look, you're living wrong. Actually, you're not living at all.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Let's talk.

For some reason, certain topics of conversation seem to be either totally acceptable or completely off limits with certain people. There are some friends with whom you can discuss anything and everything, while others you feel the need to stick to a smaller range of subjects. Why is this?

Sitting on the pavement eating Pizza GoGo's £1.50 finest, chatting about which sexual positions we have tried and our personal bests.

Standing outside in the smoking area selling fags for a quid each to drunk strangers, talking about how long it's been since we all had sex. Then one of our friends joins us, and we immediately stop and switch topics.

Saturday night with two of my favourite girls, sitting on my best friend's bedroom floor drinking Malibu and lemonade, having my makeup done and giggling so much my lipstick gets smudged. Checking out each other's Ann Summers purchases, t
alking about one night stands.

Shivering in the queue to get into the club, pointing at our mutual male friend in front, whispering about how badly we all want to "climb that like a tree", some of us having only just met.

Subtly avoiding mentioning a fuck buddy's name when telling a friend a funny story, instead referring to the buddy as "him", because for some reason mentioning the name implies sex and the two of you just don't discuss that.

Seeing a friend blush when you utter the word "period", or hearing their voice wobble when they have to say "sex". Later agreeing with other friends never to mention anything of the sort when we next all hang out, to avoid making her uncomfortable. She's one of those friends who'd like to think that none of us have a love life, or even a vagina.

Why is it that you can talk to some friends, acquaintances, or even people you've just met about intimate matters, but with other friends, even close friends, it's an absolute no-no. Stick to strictly superficial stuff; the weather, TV shows, pets, etc.
Why must you switch from a deliciously risque discussion to a lighthearted fluffy chat in a matter of seconds, just because someone can't handle it. I'm not saying we should all broadcast our innermost secrets and chatter away to everyone we know about our best orgasms, I'm simply wondering out loud. As usual.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

7 7/7.

Seven years ago, I was sitting in the school canteen eating my two-tone peanut butter sandwiches, when my best friend burst through the doors and slammed her hands down on the table in front of me, totally breathless and wild-eyed.

"Oh my gosh Grace, have you heard what happened in London??!"
"Ermmm, we won the Olympics a couple of days ago didn't we...?"
"Well yes, but no... London's been bombed!"

The school office was flocked with pupils wanting to call home, the playground was in a frenzy and teachers were rounding everyone up and telling us not to panic. I had never realised just how many other kids were in the same situation as me: a mummy at home and a daddy who worked in the big city. Sons and daughters of commuters were congregating in the school hall, being wrapped in their coats and comforted by those with locally-based parents. We'd accept their kind words and offers of sweets or cups of squash, but know deep down that they couldn't possibly understand the real terror (literally) we all felt.

When I got home from school, I watched footage on BBC News of the bombings over and over again; "Breaking News! London Bombed! Targeted Terror!" even the calm and collected newsreaders looked rattled and panicked. Dad finally made it home, and I realised how completely stupid I'd been to worry - he doesn't get the underground or buses, and by the time the bombs hit he was safely at work and watching the live news coverage from one of the downstairs rooms in the office building. But stupidly worrying is what family does best in a crisis.

Seeing today's trending topics on Twitter has really upset me. The hashtags #ITALIANDIRECTIONERSWANT1DINITALY #PARTYATUSHERS #OneTime3YearAnniversary and #3YearsBeliebing are a serious insult to everyone who was involved in the 07/07 attacks; whether they were sitting at home watching the TV anxiously, trying to call friends and family members, or they were running for their lives through the streets watching a bus explode and wondering if they'd make it home... If they could see people celebrating popstars' debut singles or begging for their favourite boy band to tour internationally on the 7-year anniversary of something so devastating, what would they say? I can't speak for everyone, obviously, but I'm fairly sure they'd be disappointed.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

I will go down with this ship.

A common term in modern fandom culture is "ship". The word is tossed around all over the blogosphere, often appears in forums and inspires imaginative and graphic fan fiction. A "ship" refers to a particular pair (or sometimes trio) of characters in TV shows, whom the viewers desperately want to fall in love and be together.

It is thought that the term "ship" derives from the word relationship, and instead of being the traditional noun, people use the word as a verb; e.g. "I ship them" or "shipping this so hard". If the term were around in the 80s/90s, the earliest and most classic examples of "ships" would be Ross and Rachel of Friends, or Sam and Diane in Cheers.

Another fan-made concept is the "OTP"; an abbreviation of the phrase "One True Pairing", meaning two characters in a fictional programme that one "ships" above all others. For example, my OTP would be Nick and Jess from New Girl (don't even get me started). I ship Elliot and JD from Scrubs, CSI's Grissom and Sara, Sam and Sookie from True Blood (controversial, I know), and Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls.

So, I have my fictional character ships setting sail. But what about real life? Do ships apply to people I see every day and have known both separately and together for a long time? If so, I have my shortlist of real-life couples that I not only ship, but actively root for...

I ship Mella & Carl; the best-damn-looking couple I know, together for several months now and madly in love. I love hearing one of my best friends say she's found The One, and knowing he absolutely adores her (to the point of bombing her phone with fifty texts a minute simply saying "<3"). After seeing Mella messed around by some real c-words, she deserves something this awesome.

I ship Daniella & Sean; Daniella being a Tumblr/Twitter friend and a fellow photo-editing addict and McFly & Blink-182 fangirl and Sean being her "forever". Seeing them struggle slightly a few months back (via Facebook and Twitter) was heartbreaking, but reading her lovely words about what they have together and how beautiful it is always makes me happy.

Henry & Jenn, my current OTP, are brave and resilient with their crazy love. He being a friend of mine from university and she being an international exchange from America, they met when they shared halls and are now in a long-distance relationship and promised to one another with rings. 
When they're apart, he talks and blogs about her constantly. She came back to England for him earlier this year, and he is currently visiting her in Boston. I wish them luck and happiness.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that gushing over these couples and cheering them on is a big deal for me; as everyone knows by now, I hate couples. However, these select few have brought me hope that romance is not dead, and two people really can find true love and happiness - even at a young age. Who knows, maybe someday I'll have my very own ship and people will root for me... In the meantime, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you guys.
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