Minimal.

Minimal.

Considering the amount of output I’ve had on this blog, I’d say this prompt was an accurate one.

Where have I been over the last…17 days? What happened to a post a day??

In short, life happened. University happened. Whilst I didn’t expect this to be easy, I did expect to do a little better than this. Would I say I’ve failed? At the initial task- writing every day for forty days- sure. But it’s not for a lack of trying.

Besides that, Lent has fallen in a pretty busy time in my life. I can probably track through all of the days, in fact.

Day 5 of Lent, for example, was the end of my weekend home that I spent with my boyfriend and my family. I meant to write a post on the train home, but I was so ill, I just felt totally incapable. What followed on days 6 through to around 11 was a period of illness coupled with pretty intense rehearsals for a piece of devised theatre, a presentation for my seminar group, and the general organisation involved in both of those (although I did go to  Nandos one night. A girls gotta have a break!!). Then day 12 and 13 were both rehearsal and performance days, with the Sunday being an 8 hour day but the performance day stretching to over 12 hours. After that, naturally, I wanted rest, but alas, day 14 was the date of my dreaded presentation. No rest for the wicked. Or the overachieving. Days 15 and 16 were spent watching the productions of my peers, day 17 was audition signups and a train back home again to see my boyfriend, and days 18 and 19 were spent with my family for my mothers birthday. Day 20 (yesterday) was spent travelling back down to university in the morning, then a lecture in the afternoon, followed by drinks at the local pub with a good friend of mine to discuss an idea for a web series (more on that when I have more info!!)

So, we’re all caught up now, to Day 21. A day where I’ve managed (finally) to carve out some time to just sit and ramble on a keyboard.

…What can I actually talk about, though?

This is what I often find most difficult in my blog posts.

In all certainty, my life is pretty interesting right now. I’m creating all sorts of exciting art, I’m enjoying being in a different country with new friends, I’m going on all sorts of adventures with my boyfriend (we’ve been the aquarium in Plymouth, walked on the beach in Brean, made crystal jewellery for our loved ones…). Each of these stories is interesting in its own right, but once I begin to type about them… I lose interest. Which do I choose? Which has enough content to feasibly fill a whole blog post? What will interest you, the reader? Do you care about my existential drivel, or would you rather read more theatre reviews? More opinion pieces?

I guess the current timescale I’m working with is complex. Trying to choose what to write about from just under a months events (which have flown by at alarming speed) is nearly impossible. But finding the interest in every day is also difficult. The other challenge is, of course, on the days where I have the time to write, not much of interest has happened to write about! I guess that is what I’m challenging myself to do: to find something small from the day that sparked my interest, and latch onto it.

Find the extraordinary in every day.

Now that’s a philosophy I can get behind.

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Colours.

Light dapples through the stained glass of the window in my grandmother’s attic. I often get transfixed by the colours- an orderly block of precise green cubes, pure and bright, filtering summer sunlight and catching the dust particles that drift lazily by. The pattern is only interrupted by two gashes of rush brown where the colours have been distorted by the branches of the oak tree.

The squares make sense. They are ordered, sequential. I like counting them- there are 64- and focusing on each colour individually, so that by the time I get to somewhere around 50 my breathing will have evened out, the knot inside my chest will have loosened, and I will no longer be able to see static in the corners of my vision.

It’s a kind of meditation, I guess.

This house calms me too, most of the time. So long as there are no people in it.

It’s my family who are the worst. They mean well, I know, but they just can’t let me be. My friends know me well enough to know that I am listening, even if I don’t contribute to the conversation. My family haven’t cottoned on yet.

Sunday lunches are the worst because everything happens at once, and the colours go crazy. My little sister begins the clamour, whites and creams and pale blues emanating from her. Dad by contrast is a tangle of stormy greys and blacks, critical, oppressive like the air gets before a thunderstorm. Mum joins the conversation now, deep blue and cerulean, and then grandpa joins as a burnt umber, like the smell of firewood but with the taste of burnt toast. All of a sudden the colours start merging together and I am thrown about, caught in between conversations like threads of wool.

Grandmother’s green, of course, and the static clears again.

Black: a simile creative writing prompt.

As black as the splurges on an anarchistic autumn leaf.

Black like blank paper waiting for it’s colours to arrive.

Black like the blossoming of ideas on a page, ink spiralling, conceiving universes.

As black as clarity, like a still freshwater pond.

Black like the old dried blood of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

If white is absence, black is presence.

Black like a gothic-themed wedding cake.

Sweet Charity, episode one: pregnancy scandal

Hi everyone!

I’ve recently started volunteering at a small charity shop alongside my studies. I’m really enjoying it so far, as the small tasks I’m required to do are a welcome distraction from the pressures of uni, and unlike sitting on facebook for five hours, I actually feel like I’m doing something significant. I’m giving back to the national community, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never really found the appropriate motivation to.

Another wonderful part of working in a charity shop is the people you meet. Your colleagues and customers tend to be off the beaten track in some ways. I’ve found that being at uni is a very insular experience, especially a campus uni. You live, eat, work, shop, socialise and generally inhabit the same space as students: people of all different ages doing different things, but students nonetheless. No matter how different our backgrounds, we all live in a fairly insulated bubble, exempt from tax and forty (or sixty) hour working weeks. Add delivery shopping and food orders into the mix, and you never have to leave StudentLand. What volunteering does is thrusts me into the outside world and demands that I don’t ignore it. I cannot get wrapped up in a very insular culture of University with it’s own set of values and ideals, when I’m face to face with the rest of the country every day.

Today, as always, a fascinating story was recounted to all of us about a relation of one of the volunteers (let’s call her Sarah). A girl Sarah knew had been admitted into hospital quite suddenly, and no one knew why. Her boyfriend emerged from her room, white-faced, saying there was nothing to worry about, but he hardly looked it. What awaited inside was something no one was prepared for: there she lay, on the bed, with a newborn baby in her arms. She had no idea she was pregnant.

…Which is a great thing for an 18 year old to hear whilst sipping tea on a Thursday morning.

Welp, it’s news to me, but apparently around 350 women every year in the UK alone give birth without having any knowledge that they’d even conceived. No ceasing of periods, no morning sickness, no movement, not even significant weight gain.

Yikes.

What was also fairly anxiety-inducing was the fact that this particular woman had been on the pill consistently. So they weren’t lying when they said only 99% effective.

This is terrifying not only as a human that owns a uterus but also for the potential ramifications for a child in this situation. What if you’ve been consistently drinking throughout pregnancy? Or smoking? Hell, even popping a few paracetamol could be deadly.

I guess something I’ve learnt today is that sometimes, no matter how wary or careful you are, life can throw you some pretty serious curveballs, and when they come along, you just need to embrace them in whatever way you can.

On that horrifying note, I’ll leave you all to ponder over the mysteries of the universe whilst you try to ignore that little voice in the back of your head saying “what if…?”

El x

Lent, of sorts.

Today is St Davids Day, the patron saint of my beloved country, my homeland, my hills, and my vales.

Today is the day when, back home, we’d be wearing red to school, singing sosban fach reluctantly, and eating as many Welsh cakes as physically possible.

But I’m not home.

I’m in England, and appallingly, there is not a welsh cake in sight.

Also nobody cares about celebrating today, because it’s the first day of Lent, that Christian tradition that, like every other Christian tradition, is a massive part of our cultural identity, whether you’re religious or not.

There were lots of discussions today in drama about what people were giving up and what was too difficult to give up: alcohol, chocolate, meat, gluten… The list goes on. I explained to people that I wouldn’t be giving anything up, because truth be told, there wasn’t much I could give up: I don’t drink a lot, only very occasionally, and on my current medication it’s advised I don’t drink excessively anyway; chocolate I successfully managed to give up for Lent two years in a row, so I consider that challenge well and truly completed; the only meat I really eat is chicken, because food shopping without meat is significantly cheaper; and gluten is probably something I take in a lot of, but frankly I don’t care enough about it to find the appropriate product replacements (which are likely to be more expensive anyway, thus making cutting meat out of my diet kind of redundant). People started trying to help me come up with things to give up: red bull, procrastination, tumblr… The list went on. But frankly, I don’t feel like I have a strong ‘need’ for any of these things and it wouldn’t feel like much of a challenge to go without them.

The exception to this is sweets, which I do eat too regularly. These were suggested, but I explained my philosophy to my friends:

The way I see it, in order to motivate yourself to work hard and continue to work hard, you need to reward yourself. If I don’t have sweets, then I won’t have any system of reward. You can talk about replacing it all you like, and while I could swap it for fruit, it’s important to have a hedonistic treat now and then. I don’t understand why I should deny myself so long as I’m being sensible.

This opinion is also pretty strongly influenced by my nihilistic streak: if I’m gonna die anyway, preserving peak physicality for a few more years at the expense of never eating any of my favourite foods doesn’t sound like a sensible trade-off to me. My older self will thank me for doing exercise I enjoy, and finding healthy foods I like, not by denying myself any pleasures in an attempt to delay the inevitable that awaits us all.*

Speaking of exercise, I then went on to say that instead of denying myself and having less, I wanted to add something meaningful to my life, somehow. In an ideal world, doing a bit of exercise every day is a great goal I’d love to do for lent, but unfortunately I’ve begun a new course of medication that explicitly suggests a reduction in physical activity.

So, instead, I have a writing challenge: to attempt to write something (and post it here) every single day for the next forty days. Who knows if I’ll be able to stick to it, but after such a prolonged hiatus, I feel that it can only be a positive thing. I’m going to be tagging it ’40 ‘jours’ of jotting’, so follow it if you want to see this venture!

On that note, I will leave you all. Happy Lent-ing everyone!

El x

*Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting everyone does lent for this reason. You do you, and whatever you decide to do over the next forty days you should do for your own happiness and wellbeing. Peace x

PS: In fairness, I could probably do with giving up tumblr. Maybe I’ll try that too.