Thursday, 30 May 2013

I will go down with this ship (III).

(I've written similar posts to this before, and felt I needed to update/correct it due to recent events, and general change of opinion.)
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 all-time OTP would be 
Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls (don't even get me started). I ship Elliot and JD from ScrubsCSI's Grissom and Sara, Sam and Sookie from True Blood (controversial, I know), Fitch and Olivia/Harrison and Quinn on Scandal, and my current OTP is always Nick and Jess from New Girl.

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 Steph and Elliott; let's ignore the fact that Elliott is gay and Steph is happily in a long-term relationship, I think these two are adorable. A shift at the SU was never dull with these two. Elliott left just before I did, and Steph was telling us all about how they'd had their first shift together, and I thought "hardly any couples I know have such a nice, or long, history".

I ship Robin and Abby, obviously, because if there's any couple that can make it through being thousands of miles apart for several months, it's these two. Also, if they were to ever end, my faith in love would be destroyed. And our house would become slightly awkward. So no pressure, guys! Seriously though, these two may be the only couple I can always happily hang out with.

I ship Demi and Spence, because I've never seen that silly boy so happy, and to be honest I think he seriously landed on his feet here. Both lovely individuals, and the ultimate power-couple in some respects; he's a hardworking journalist, she's a bar supervisor at the SU as well as the newly-appointed Entertainments Officer on the Student Executive Team. They've both been raising money for amazing causes this year, and their whole 'date night' thing is beyond cute. Please don't mess it up, you two (Spencer, I'm looking at you).

I ship Nick and Holly, because c'mon, who wouldn't? The original Fly Hardians, founders of the team, Captain and Womens' Captain, Doctor Who fanatics, both made of awesome. I like their little moments they have, because they are few and far between and so all the more precious when they come around; Nick referred to Holly as his First Lady in his Fly Hard farewell speech, they both hid behind a piece of paper so the team wouldn't see them kiss, they both make the most immense effort for fancy dress occasions. If they don't come back and visit us all, there'll be hell to pay.

I ship Sian and Jamie, because they bake excellent cakes together and they're both invaluable Ultimate players. She says she hates who he becomes on the pitch (and a lot of us would agree, actually), but then they walk home together and you can hear them both laughing from a dozen yards away. If there are two people who deserve an awesome happy relationship, it's these two.

My current real-life OTP, however? Dori and Jack. Two of my colleagues, him being a gentle giant with a killer goatee and a heart of gold, her an art student with her head in the clouds and a dream to exhibit all over the world. They attended the MCM Expo ComicCon together last weekend, and want to go back again - and they plan on dressing up as Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope next time. It's too perfect. The two of them work well together, they have all sorts of private jokes, they enjoy animated film soundtracks, and they've dressed up and posed with golden statues for a photo together which they somehow sneaked into our Oscar display at work. I may not know them all that well, but I think they're both sweethearts who would go far together.

Slightly controversial ships, maybe, but the controversial ones are the fun ones, surely? Now, maybe next time I write one of these posts, a) some of these pairings with actually be together, and b) I'll be half of someone's OTP. I often wonder if someone would ship me with anyone. Even if it's my cat. Harvey gets me.

I'm not good with couples in general; I can appreciate a nice romantic gesture and general cute things, sure, but seeing photos of couples sucking face on my Facebook news feed, or indulging in excessive PDA, is just too much. However, some couples work. Some couples deserve to be shipped. One of the many benefits of being single (besides being able to eat whatever I want, have complete control over the TV remote and leave it several days before shaving my legs) is that I can sit on the sidelines and watch all these wonderful romances and relationships blossoming all around me. It's nice hearing about what my friend got up to with her significant other last weekend, it's good to know my classmates aren't giving up on their crushes, and above all, it's reassuring to know that things can work, that for some people, romance isn't quite dead yet.

The PAW Awards, 2013.

Performing Arts Winchester, or PAW, is a society at the University of Winchester set up a few years ago for those dramatically or musically inclined to put on shows, meet new people and generally let loose with their creativity. I'm not really a PAW person, per se; my brief stint in the Let's Glee! sub-society was uneventful and I wasn't really interested in venturing into Let's Act! or making a complete fool of myself by auditioning for the many annual musicals. My experience of PAW in my first year was purely as an outside observer. I watched and reviewed the (rather excellent and incredible) musical Spring Awakening, and heard stories from friends about Let's Glee!, but I never got actively involved. Much like Ultimate, I was eager to join in somehow, but not brave enough just yet.

Similarly, my experience of the PAW Awards was as a friend of those involved. I heard about the upcoming event, I gave my opinion on friends' outfit choices, and I sat in my bedroom and saw the statuses/tweets on the actual night. Then, I received a text after the Awards had ended, saying "So, I'm in West Downs in a suit." I ran out into Main Street, and met three friends returning after their eventful wonderful evening, in suits and ties. One was crying; he'd been given the award for Glee member of the year and was especially sad to see the third years go. I chatted to them all, then danced a pseudo-waltz, barefoot and in my pyjamas with my suited-up friend, down West Downs Main Street. My mum came to visit the next day, and tactfully kept quiet when she saw the suited-up boy in my bedroom first thing in the morning, and that we both had wet hair.

This year, however, I was not a passive outside observer. I auditioned for this really cool play called 'When It Rains Gasoline' in late September/early October-time. Having missed the first round of auditions without realising, I was annoyed. A play, not a musical, was being put on, and I'd missed my chance to act? Stupid girl. Then a friend told me that there were more auditions happening the following night, and as this was second year it was "the best time to audition and do everything!" So I walked to the Performing Arts building in the rain that evening, met a few friends who were also auditioning, picked a monologue and just tried my best. I maintain to this day that my being cast in the play was purely down to the monologue I chose; bitchy, popular girl with over 3,000 followers on Twitter, making fun of the 'faggot dorks' in her class at school. I don't know why I chose that one; maybe because everyone else was going for the emotional pieces, or the difficult duologues, and I thought this would set me apart. Maybe because I can do a really good bitchy face. Whatever it was, it worked. I spent the next two months working with some amazing actors, dancers and creative crew, and the end result was pretty damn good. I had the time of my life. My confidence was sky-high, and I relished the feeling of being onstage again for the first time in forever. I couldn't thank the director and team enough, for giving me the best start to my new year.

I was invited to the PAW Awards. Imagine my excitement. Seriously, imagine. Then multiply that by a hundred. You're still nowhere near.

I got a pretty dress, I spent over an hour doing my hair and makeup (bear in mind it usually takes me twenty minutes to get ready in the mornings, and that's including breakfast), and I even wore a pair of high heels. I sat at a table with my Gasoline friends, and we spent the evening eating all the free snacks, ordering three drinks per visit to the bar, and mocking everyone else. We performed a little something, as all the shows and sub-societies do, which consisted of lines from the play being shouted out as we stood in neutral onstage. We said a lot of each others' lines; my exclamation of "I have a girlfriend!" and Sam's "my doctor told me that I was pregnant" got most of the laughs. As little and silly as it was, this performance reminded me of all the fun we had, how well we all got on within the cast, and how happy I was while we were working on this play. That happy nostalgic feeling was all I could have asked for; I didn't care that I personally didn't win an award, I could quite happily have spent the rest of the night giggling at Let's Act! and drinking double whiskey mixers until I couldn't remember where I was... Then we won Best Show. The biggest accolade of the night. We somehow surpassed the musicals (which was ridiculous, because Sweeney Todd and Hair were phenomenal) and our little show won the big title. It was honestly one of those moments when the countdown to the reveal had begun, and I was saying "Hair, Sweeney, Hair, Sweeney" in my head, not even considering for a moment... Oh wow.
Whatever people say, like how the first show of the year always wins, or the musicals are the obvious choice and so they never win, it doesn't matter. The fact is, we won. And I went home happy.

Obviously, I'd love to be involved in PAW next year in some capacity, but I'm not sure how. I auditioned for one of the musicals this year "for the giggles", and I don't think I'll ever actually see the day when I'm singing onstage to packed stalls. I could always audition for whatever play is happening, because acting is more my thing. I could join a sub-society. Why not? We'll see. Until then, the memories of this year, in my pretty dress surrounded by friends, last year dancing in my pyjamas... They will do just fine, thank you.

Monday, 20 May 2013

But, CBA.

Effort. It's a big thing in my life. I'm not the most shining example when it comes to making an effort, seeing as sometimes I'll put off walking to campus to do something urgent if I can just do it tomorrow between lectures, or I'll use my ukulele to reach from my bed to turn off the light switch a few feet away - but I like to think I make an effort where it counts.

I make an effort with people. I'll always smile and say 'hey' if I see someone I know (however vaguely) in the street, I'll go and sit with a friend in the Learning Cafe or stop and chat with a group of people in the Terrace Bar while I'm getting myself some coffee, and I tend to wander around a venue on a night out to catch up with friends, teammates and people on my course, before returning to my frantic drunken slam-dancing with the people I came with.
I make an effort in relationships. I text them first, I try to arrange things as best I can, I buy the pizza and make the tea or coffee. It's not even a choice, a conscious decision or a need to take charge, it's just what I do. I like arranging things, I like being the one to suggest something, I like being proactive and decisive... Most of the time.
Sometimes, I need someone else to - not take control, just take on some of the responsibility. I need someone to make the effort. I'm not saying they should make dinner reservations, buy flowers or have a message done in skywriting. I mean make the cup of coffee or tea, choose the DVD, text me first maybe... Just a little effort.
The same goes for friends. Sometimes, I need you to recognize that it's your turn to invite me over. It would be nice if you ordered the pizza. When I say I want to go and see a film at the cinema, or a play at the theatre, say you'll come with me. I don't mind going to places alone, in fact I love being by myself most of the time, but...

Every time I say I'm through making all the calls, sending all the texts, knowing that conversations wouldn't happen if I didn't initiate them - nothing really changes. After a few days, it's me doing it all again. It's fine, it's in my nature, it's what I do. Just, every now and again, see how hard I'm trying, and make an effort. That's all I ask.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

He's done it again/The Joshua Effect.

Now regular readers/real life friend-types, you will all know by now that I love, adore and fangirl-worship Ohio-born whiskey-loving singer-songwriter Joshua Radin. I recently booked tickets to see him live in London; I got up at 8am and ran all the way to campus just to be sure I'd get a computer that worked, so I sat refreshing the BUY TICKETS page while the cleaners all bustled around me with their Henry Hoovers and disinfectant spray (we students are a mucky bunch when we're studious)... I got my tickets, printed off every possible booking confirmation page I could find, and made my little sister a special little printout, because this will be her fifteenth birthday present from me.
his will be the fourth time I've seen him live. I've been with my (then-)boyfriend to see him in Brighton under the pier; with my Dad to see him at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London; with my Mum to see him at KOKO Camden last September - not even a year ago! - so basically I have shared my love for him, and the properly incredible experience that is seeing him live, with a lot of people I care about. My sister is going to have the best time, and also she'll be out 'n' about in London on a school night! How scandalous.

I can't find you; my luck is down and I'm feelin' blue.

Joshua has this amazing quality about him, in that he is able to write down and sing exactly what I am feeling at THIS (and every other) precise moment in my life, and he doesn't even know it. He's helped me through the bad times, and cheered me on throughout the good. His albums are a soundtrack to several different eras of my life, and I just discovered the latest one.

I know I'll never find another like you, where I'm going.

   'We Were Here' taught me what I love most in music. 'Simple Times' got me through school, and a wildly inappropriate crush. The 'Unclear Sky' EP sang me to sleep for years. 'I Missed You' is a single that I always listen to when I'm travelling home. 'Underwater' kept me going throughout my first year at university.
   And now, 'Wax Wings', the first album Joshua Radin has produced himself, is seeing me out of my second year and guiding me into the next phase of my life. This album has moments so perfectly captured in song, it's just incomprehensible. I happened to be sitting on my bed yesterday, reeling from a sudden revelation and wondering what it meant, what I should do next; not really thinking, I hit 'play' on my iPhone and heard 'Like They Used To', and suddenly it all made sense. I knew what I was feeling, I knew what to do (more importantly what I genuinely wanted to do), and I almost cried with relief and happy realisation.
   I'm also delighted that one of my old favourites from the 'Unclear Sky' EP has resurfaced; 'Lovely Tonight' is, to me, a story of two people who connect and share something special one night, then wonder if it's real afterwards. As a hopeless romantic with a wealth of bad experience and false promises, this song gives me hope. So thank you, Joshua. You've done it again.

See you (again) on the 4th of June.

Recognize your grace.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May 1st, 2013.

Today is a serious contender for the best day of my life. The sun is shining, the day is May, I'm in my honourary hometown lapping up the good vibes with some of my favourite people.

Considering last night I had the lion's share of a bottle of Jack with my friends before going out and abusing my wristband privileges at our recently-dubbed 'local' pub/bar and scoring some £3 jam jar cocktails (cocktails, named after Smurfs, in jam jars - ingenious, right?) and a vodka sunrise from a kind stranger; kisses were had, lies were told regarding my relationship with my best friend ("we're brother and sister, obviously! See the matching nose rings?") and my trademark freak-outs in the toilets were, well, frequent. Photos were taken in compromising positions, i.e. a hedge on the way to the local, and upon waking this morning I discovered two boys in my bedroom (best friend and best friend's boyfriend who is also a best friend, what?) and legs that felt as though they were encased in concrete - in my drunken state I had forgotten, it seems, about the treacherous hills of Winchester.

Today life decisions were made, circumstances were altered for the better, and true clarity was realised. Ink stained me, sunshine kissed me, and fortune smiled upon me. Peppermint mocha never tasted so good. I sat in the beautiful cathedral grounds lazing happily with the aforementioned favourites, before heading to a really exciting opportunity (which became a reality, within the hour no less, hello new job!) then back to campus to be reunited with my beloved Learning Cafe. As much as I hate this expression, the creative juices are in full flow. My afternoon promises the final pieces of work reaching completion, maybe even some self-indulgent work happening, then tonight is set aside for a much-needed catch-up with a wonderful and consistently smiley friend.

Signs are everywhere. Good signs. Clear, if unbeknowst to others, signs. I currently have a particular song following me everywhere I go, and a feeling deep within that says I'm onto something good. Also, I have a long and happy weekend ahead of me involving friends, family, home, funk 'n' soul, alcohol, face paint, flowers and climbing cliffs. May Day is in full swing. And I know it's gonna be a lovely May.

Some of the best things I've ever known have happened today; a year's worth of goodness has happened, and it's only just 3pm.

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