The First Week

 

This is it. After two years of working and five years of dreaming I am finally a Masters student, but this time round it is so different.

When I first went to university it was like a circus; a constant routine of waking up, lectures, eating, drinking, dancing, sleeping, then doing it all over again; day after day throughout freshers for all three years of my university experience. When I first went I was thrown into the hype of it and I loved it; within my first week I met the people I would spend the rest of my three years with and together we would create some of the best memories.  

Exeter is ten times bigger than Cheltenham as a university; every time you step onto campus you are swallowed up in the crowd, blended into the rest of the nervous faces trying to find their way around, societies are everywhere trying to convince you that their society is the best on campus, and all conversation is small talk of where you have come from, what course you are doing, and what you are going to wear that night.

It feels surreal to be here, I feel like I have lost my mind. I have quit my job, moved away from everyone I love to a place I don’t know, surrounded by people I don’t know, to go back into academic education which I have been away from for two years now. This is probably an absolutely crazy move on my behalf, and every morning I have to keep reminding myself that this is an adventure.  Homesickness can affect anyone at any age and no matter how much you crave independency it can sometimes be a lonely feeling when you get it. What do you do with yourself when you are used to working 40 hours a week? What do you make yourself to eat when you are used to cooking for 4? And who do you talk to when the person you spend all your time with is no longer just up the road?

I’m not sure how you get over it, I’m still figuring it out. Until then I’ll keep telling myself that this is a brand-new adventure, a chapter in my life that I only get to read once. I need to remember how hard I worked for this opportunity; all those sleepless nights as an undergrad and all that overtime behind a hot coffee machine for the money to get here is what fuels me when I feel sad. When I feel lonely I plan the adventures for all the people I miss when they come to visit me and my new little home.

I promised that this would be the year of yes and so far I have embraced it; I said yes to a work promotion, I said yes to a goodbye, I said yes to a first date, I said yes to putting myself first and so far yes has gotten me to the best place in life I have ever been.  So here we go to saying yes once more to the actual chance of accomplishing an aspiration.

Life is full of changes; it’s how we embrace it which makes them either positive or negative. I’m fed up with the negatives, so from now on I’m going to embrace all the positives that have finally blessed my life and drink from the glass half full.

 

Down it Fresher.

Advertisements

To My Beating Friend,

To My Beating Friend,

Let’s break the taboo, just like they broke you, with careless words and clumsy hands.  In a world that is obsessed with magnifying differences, you are a fragile organ that unites us all; heartbreak is gender-less, it is not affected by skin colour, or age, or religion.  It is an unstoppable force of nature, like a hurricane that we cannot prevent.    There is no shame in hurting; if it was easy everyone would be lucky enough to experience it, because to hurt is to know you lived.   Even the strongest of souls have been enticed by angelic eyes and heavenly touches, it takes the brave to fall in love and it takes the wisest to walk away when they realise hell has become home.

At one point in our lives we must all burn; letting our innocence and naivety perish in the flames of passion, and lust, and the wanting of a happy ending. The sad truth is that many of us cannot differentiate the burning of passion for that of pain.  There are times we must mourn a relationship, there is no escaping that fact, but you can only mourn something that was actually worth saving; sometimes you have to walk away from a burning house with your head held high and let the past burn to ash.  Those who suffer the tragedy of a broken heart should be praised, labelled as heroes, for falling in love is one of the most risky moves made in a lifetime. Love can transport us to a paradise on earth or it can send us down the rabbit hole to wonderland, there is a 50/50 chance; a chance we all roll the dice for even when the odds are against us and you rolled the dice, my friend.

Now for a promise; I promise you, my truest companion, that you will be just fine.  Remember, a good uniform does not define a gentleman and where we have been does not define where we are going. These broken pieces of you does not mean you are unfixable, it just means there is more of you to love, and you are more than worthy of love.

Life is a beautiful mess, a chaotic whirlwind that we all take for granted. You must embrace it. Dance on tables till your feet hurt more than the memories, laugh until you forget what it is to be sad, and kiss until you remember that you are beautiful no matter what you have been told.  Do what it takes to get past the pain until one day you discover a smile that will transform caution to rebellion. You will find a smile that will turn you reckless again, a smile that you will willing fall into the madness for. It might take hours, days, months, or years, it might be a stranger on a train or a childhood crush, but they are waiting for you, and when you find them your beat will finally echo ‘I found you’.

Until that day, I will keep you safe and strong.

 

My love for eternity,

Your Spine of Steel

The Year of YES

So it’s here, a brand new year!  I’m very excited.

All forms of social media are filled with everyone’s New Year resolutions with a hopeful ‘new year, new me’; everyone has shredded their failed 2016 aspirations and created brand new ones.  Yes I am one of them. Go figure.  It took around a month for my 2016 resolutions to shrivel up and die, so this year my resolution is to not make any resolutions; I plan on not making any plans. Not one. Besides a summer holiday somewhere hot.

For me 2016 seemed to be the year of questions, I was asked about 1000 each month.

 

“So, do you miss university?”

Of course I miss university. It’s not work when you sleep all day, drink all night and get messages from your local Indian takeaway about discount deals.

 

“Do you plan on being a barista forever?”

I’m still waiting for my money tree to shoot up at the moment, Susan, so until that day I’ll keep making frothy coffee.

 

“What are you going to do with your life now then, Bethany?”

Who knows, Susan? I still haven’t found the perfect hair colour for myself yet let alone a career so it’s probably best I don’t go into my future with bad highlights. I studied philosophy for three years we don’t have any answers.

 

The serious truth is I do not have an absolute clue with what I am going to do with my life at the moment, I am literally trying to get through the working week without having to think about where I will be in the next thirty years.

So this year I am not going to think about it. I am not going to plan my future and I am not going to force things that should happen naturally on their own. Instead, I am going to make this the year of YES.

When I look back on the shit bits of 2016, my happiest moments are when I didn’t think about the conclusions and I just said yes. I had one of the greatest nights because I said yes to something that seemed like such a bad idea at the time.

Everyone seems to be tell me not to wish my life away and count down the minutes until I figure out what I want to do and who I want to be and where I fit in the world.  I am trying to create a more of a ‘Zen Beth’ because the 2016 Beth can’t take anymore frown lines on her foreword. (Botox is too expensive on a Barista wage).  I write this all the time on the blog about letting things go etc. but this time I really mean it; Zen Beth is saying farewell to those annoying ghosts of the past who won’t leave her alone and she is saying “Welcome!” to the freedom of 2017.

I’ll probably end up throwing myself out of a plane or eating something rancid but who knows? It’s the not knowing that is exciting.

 

2017, the year of yes.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I need to make this clear that I am only saying yes to legal and safe things. I will not be saying yes to joining a drug gang or taking part in some sort of stupid jackass prank. I’m hoping someone will ask me to a museum or something.

 

The Blackberries

 

I swore I wouldn’t cry.

‘Real men don’t cry’ my father would say, each and every time in my childhood a tear would appear because of a banged up knee or a cruel jibe in the playground.

‘Girls cry. Are you a girl Aled?’

I wonder what he would think if he were next to me now. Would he cry? I look around me, at the faces of the men. Some are crying. Not loudly, but I can see silent tears in their vacant eyes, eventually escaping to roll down their drained faces. Are they real men?

The boat jerks violently over a wave, causing us all to bash into each other, waking up those lost in time and reminding us all what we are doing aboard this floating fragment of Hell.

I can remember exactly where I was when the war was announced.

Dr Jones’ daughter had organised a birthday gathering for him on the village green. Taking advantage of the last of the summer heat, everyone was basking in the sunlight, enjoying the uninterrupted harmony of life. Delyth and I had escaped behind the blackberry bushes; they had just begun to ripen.  If I shut my eyes, I can still see her standing there. Her red hair loose, falling in curls around her shoulders, blackberries, dark violet, prickled on the bushes behind her. Her kisses, as sweet as those berries.

As a child, I can remember running off with my brother Tomas to collect those valuable berries, our tins washed and ready, like pirates hunting for gold. It was a challenge, a competition, to see who could find the biggest one, black in colour, bursting with sweet juice.

I never won; I was too small to reach the tops of the bushes where the ripest would grow. Tomas would walk off grinning; clutching that blackberry tin, eager to show Father the finest blackberries in all of Queen’s country, ready and perfect for a pudding. Each time, I was left alone in that field, the sensation of failure taking over my body. And each time I would crush the fruit in the tin with all the strength I could muster, feeling those berries burst under the pressure till eventually all that was left was blood stained hands and a cluster of second best blackberries, punished for being worthless.

Blood doesn’t look like blackberry juice in reality.

It certainly doesn’t smell like it either. But once you have seen it morning, noon and night, you can come to convince yourself that it is. Those men, comrades, and friends, aren’t lying on the ground, shot out of existence, but rather, are lying there in a sweet summer daze, blackberry juice fresh on their lips.

 

The roaring sound of orders wakes me up from the innocence of nostalgia and brings me back to the present. The men around me are scared, I can smell it. It is as if fear has become the new cologne, everyone is wearing it. It fills up the boat like gas fills up a tunnel. It is so strong, my stomach lurches and I have to swallow back the urge to throw up.

I want to laugh at the absurdity of where I am. I want to throw back by head, and howl with laughter at this so called joke that God is playing on me and the rest of the men in this desperate war. He has a strange sense of humour. If I look up, I can almost see him winking down at me from the clouds, a smug look on his face. Like Tomas and the blackberries.

The boy beside me is shaking, murmuring the Lord’s Prayer, as if the words could somehow save him. In his hands I can see a picture, crumpled but clean, with a girl gazing out naively, captured in a forgotten world of innocence. She is handsome. I look at the boy’s face; he is young, too young. Not ripe enough to be with the rest of us blackberries.

Another round of instructions is given, I can’t hear the words but I can tell these are the final orders. All the men shift their body weight forward, holding their weapons of war, ready to run, to face our enemies.

 

I don’t want to laugh anymore.

 

A whistle blows and the front of the boat collapses onto the sand. The smell of fear is gone now, all is left is the stench of death. Two by two, like the animals on the ark, we lurch out of the tin box and begin to run. As I step onto the foreign land, I quickly pray; I beg for mercy, for survival, for the chance to have one last blackberry.

Bullets sound and the running begins.

Ignoring the men falling around me and my feet sinking into the wet sand, I simply run, as if it was all I had been trained to do. Perhaps, if I run fast enough I can turn back time. I can run right back to those blackberry bushes, back to Delyth, back to home.

The heat from the explosions paralyses my senses, but my ears still ring with the resounding screams of my fellow men in agony. I must be damned, this must be Hell.

 

Then, out of the chaos, I hear one single bullet slice through the air and suddenly my legs refuse to run anymore.

 

I can see Delyth before me; she is smiling. I try to get to her, but I can’t, I feel too tired to run. The ground is getting closer and the world suddenly gets quieter, as if all sound has been silenced.  Tears form in my eyes and I let them fall, I don’t want to be a real man anymore, it’s not worth it. If only my Father could see me now.

 

I fall, landing on the sweet, fresh grass of home.

 

I can taste the blackberry juice.

 

A Waiting Game

 

Sometimes in life there is a period of waiting.  We wait for pay day, for Christmas, birthdays, holidays, a promotion, for summer, and sometimes we wait for a homecoming. Long distance relationships are really hard, even in today’s world with technology and instant messaging there is no escaping the sadness of missing someone.

When you are in a long distance relationship you are continually waiting; you are waiting for a phone call or a skype, you are waiting for a love letter in the post or a bunch of flowers on the doorstep. You wait for them to come home and then wait for them to leave again.

We wait hours, days, weeks, and even months to hear that knock at the door and those footsteps up the stairs. We watch the clock tick by and cross the days off the calendar for that moment you see them again because no matter how long you wait you know it will all be worth it.

You never realise until you are in this kind of relationship the effort behind waiting and how great the quality of patience really is in someone. It is an effort to not send shitty messages when someone doesn’t reply to you fast enough and it’s an effort not to go into a mood because someone has to work on a weekend that you were meant to meet. It is an effort to not cry on a phone call because the sound of their voice makes you miss them all the more. It’s an effort to not feel lonely when you wake up and they aren’t lying next to you in bed

But it is the effort you put in which makes the relationship work, sparks can only take you so far in love…and in life.

I can’t even give advice on how to make a long distance relationship work because I am literally trying to figure it out myself, but the way I see it nothing in life is ever easy and most things have a catch to them, love is no exception. You meet someone and they are everything you ever wanted but you can’t have them all the time, that’s the deal, that’s the way of the universe…

If you choose a long distance relationship the best advice I can attempt to give is to just try and get on with it; ignore the insecurities, avoid jealousy the best you can, communication is key, and trust is everything.

 

In the end we hope it will all be worth it, until then we sit pretty and patient waiting for our hearts to come home.

The EX Files

 

I don’t know why we do it but we all cannot resist opening this Pandora’s Box of an awkward conversation. I don’t know why it happens but every time we meet someone new and we begin to feel the flutter of emotions we suddenly transform into the insecure version of Sherlock Holmes and start investigating the notorious ‘Ex Files’.  Why do we do it? We hate it, we love it, we don’t want to hear the information but we can’t turn our attention away; it’s like a drug, a very awkward and uncomfortable drug. The first few weeks are complete bliss, a world of just you two, when all of a sudden she’s there, a photograph on the phone or a note on the fridge, even a tattoo on an arm. Then you ask the dreaded question, “So, who is…?”

I don’t know why I do it to myself. I literally don’t.  The voice of sense in my head warns me not to do it, she makes it loud and clear that it is a no-go zone – “Don’t do it Beth, you won’t like where this going, don’t do it!” – but the crazy new girlfriend split personality of mine comes out and asks questions that I really don’t want to know the answer to. Mark Zuckerberg really didn’t think it through when he invented Facebook, I wonder how many new girlfriends lives he has ruined with his technological advancement of ‘connect the world’ and the ‘sharing is caring’ vibe.

Thank god for friends. “You are definitely prettier” one will say…”That is definitely not her real hair colour” another one will laugh…”I bet you are way more fun than her, she looks like a right bore” a final reassuring opinion will be given as you all flick through photographs of birthdays and festivals, analysing each status that has been posted and dismissing the past photographs of the ‘old’ relationship.

Why do we open up old cases and become obsessed with investigating the past, when we all know it should stay dead and buried? Why do we stand guard against the ex that is still out there, and why do we go looking for them? I have been analysing this for a while now ever since I went looking in the ex-file and I have come up with an answer which I think we all need to admit to ourselves; we are simply jealous.

We are jealous that we had to share, we are jealous that we have to live with the fact that someone had his heart first, we are simply insecure of the ghost of the ex. The sad truth is though and a truth that each and every jealous new girlfriend should accept, is that the more we rummage in the ex-file the more we keep the case alive.  As my mother once told me, an ex is an ex for a reason and we need to accept people’s past not punish them for it. We all have skeletons in the closet and files that we want to keep hidden, so let’s leave the past where it belongs and focus on creating the new file.

 

I sound mental.

The Alchemist

 

When I was in university, I somehow ended up on a philosophy course due to my joint honours which was technically accidental – literally only I can achieve it – and although I did enjoy it, I was so shit at it, once barely scrapping a 2.2 in an essay about the existence of God…still don’t know the answer, but apparently in philosophy that’s normal.

Since leaving university I have spent a lot of thinking about philosophy and thinking about my outlook on life and the lessons I am currently learning. As I keep reiterating in my blogs, this year has been crazy for me and with only a few months left before I can have yet another fresh start I have been ‘philosophically thinking’. Never good.

I have spent years obsessed with Paulo Coelho’s work and after every disaster in my life and every mistake I make, I throw myself into his writing and feel reassured by his thinking and his confidence in the power of the universe. While some put their faith into God, I put my faith into the universe and believe that every road leads somewhere.

There is one quote within the novel ‘the Alchemist’ that states “when you want something, the whole universe conspires to helping you to achieve it” and it is this quote I repeat to myself when things just don’t work out the way I want them to.  After reading the Alchemist just one more time, I have decided to feng shui my attitude and release the negativity and all that spiritual jazz.

Instead of seeing the postponement of my Masters as completely sucking, I am going to see it as an extra year, a do over if you will. Not sure what I will do yet, all suggestions welcome, but it will be good and it will be positive.

At the end of the day money is money, and *insert clique quote* there are some things which are priceless…like a little boat, the sunshine, and a whole lot of adventuring.

 

Monday will be the beginning of my New Year so let’s hope the universe is listening.

Blue Moon

Time.

We are all completely and utterly consumed by it.

From the moment we are born we are on a countdown to our final breath, desperately trying to fill our days with memories and adventures so we can claim that we ‘lived with no regrets’. Yet, even though most of us make ourselves a bucket list and dream of adventures beyond the sunrise, we let ourselves be dictated by the notion of timing.

Each of us has an opinion on timing and people are quick to offer theirs whether it is relation to career paths or decisions of the heart. You hear people judge others for their choices because apparently it is not the right time to change your job or it is too soon to fall in love.

I turned twenty- two the other day *que Taylor Swift* and as I blew out my birthday candles I thought about timing. Everyone keeps telling me how young I am and how I have my whole life ahead me, and although I do agree wholeheartedly I can’t help but admit that this is not where I thought I would be at twenty-two. This time last year when I turned twenty- one my life was different, on a different path with different dreams.  Things that took years to build took only a matter of weeks to collapse and choices that I was assured had good timing shattered in front of my eyes.

Once all the smoke had cleared I realized that in life, timing means jack shit.

You can’t time when it is best to move on or when it is the appropriate time to kiss someone. I realize sometimes you have to simply shut your eyes and step off the edge, free fall for a while. The more time you spend listening to the views of others (especially when they are all pessimistic) the more you will doubt your own ability to make an independent decision.  Those that spend their time trying to drag you down are normally so jealous they can’t see straight, like horse in blinkers they direct their sole attention to breaking your happiness.

Note to self: It only works if you let them in.

Timing can’t save any us from a heartache or disappointment, so why do we let it run our lives. Go on, throw away the clock and start ignoring the opinions of others. If you want to kiss someone kiss them, if you want to leave then pack a suitcase and go, just let time cease for a while and get lost in the moment.

 

You never know, strange things happen once in a blue moon.

What Prince Charming?

I blame Disney.

Since I was young I have watched Princesses of all kinds, from Cinderella to Pocahontas, be faced with heartbreak and adversity, and no matter what came their way they were all rewarded with a handsome prince to rescue them at the very end of the story.   From what I have learnt, each princess has discovered their own way to secure a happy ending, from haircuts, to new shoes, apple only diets, and becoming amphibians.

Yet since entering my twenties my cynicism has grown as Disney has moved closer and closer to fiction rather than reality. I can’t help but wonder what happened after the curtains closed and they galloped off into the sunset.

Did Prince Charming suddenly take away spending privileges as Cinderella’s obsession with shoes became increasingly concerning on both wardrobe space and credit card balances? Did Prince Charming suddenly get jealous of Snow White’s close 7 male friends and her obsession with her 5 a day? Or, did Prince Charming decide he didn’t like Rapunzel’s with her new Miley Cyrus hairdo so ran off with another princess with much better hair. (Like Jasmin, Jasmin’s hair is flawless).

When we are ‘rescued’ by someone, does that mean that we are indebted to that person? Continually trying to please them for taking you out of the cellar and into the big wide world. Well, maybe we don’t need to be rescued at all. Maybe, if given a little time, those princesses could have gotten out of the cellar on their own, stood up to their wicked stepmothers, eaten what she wanted, and run the kingdom…no prince by her side.

I think we all can get caught up in the grand thing that is love and before long it begins to take over our emotions, our thinking, and our focus. When we are rescued from the cellar it is easy to confuse something you want with something you actually need, and once it is realized you begin to see the huge difference between the two. So maybe it is okay for a princess to put herself before the prince.

 

In the words of the classic Disney film ‘Cheetah Girls’ (and for those of you who don’t know who the Cheetah Girls are, you really need to discover them)….I’d rather rescue myself…

 

I need to start cleaning this cellar.

 

B.O.S.S.

In my first year of primary school, I can remember an alphabet book series that was based around the first letter of name, ‘Lovely Lucy’ for example or ‘Happy Harry’ and every time it was someone’s birthday their book was read out. Mine was ‘Bossy Bethany’ and I will never forget the hatred I had for this bloody book, because I hate the word ‘bossy’.  For the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about this book and the word bossy.

In accordance to the internet ‘bossy’ has been defined as a domineering person who is fond of giving orders. No wonder I hate the word so much, it’s quite harsh.

When I think of bossy I never think of a man, I instantly think of a woman, and as a proud feminist I feel bad to admit it. When given some form of power why is a woman known as ‘bossy’ and a man in the same position is seen as ‘strong’ and ‘powerful’, I just don’t understand it.

I have suddenly become obsessed with this word bossy, especially of late. As much as I hate the word I am fully aware I have bossy personality. I like things done to a certain way and I really like to work; it pumps some sort of adrenaline into me when I accomplish something, whether that be as a waitress or as a student. So instead of bossy, I am going to change the word to determined.

Since leaving university – almost now an entire year ago now – this determined part of me has really kicked in; I have realized that no one is going to make the future happen for me, especially what I want from it.  Everyone says that the young are blessed with the future and that the world is our oyster, and it is…but only if we try to make the most of it.  It is only us that is going to be affected.

Leaving university is really upsetting and it is a massive reality shock (especially if you moved back home) but there is only so long you can stay in that funk before you forget that life does go on and there are more exciting things to come.

So let’s not hate the bossy person, let’s love the determined one.