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 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


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.
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