Opinion: Superstitions

Cat, Silhouette, Cats Silhouette, Cat'S Eyes, Black Cat

I’m not one who believes in many superstitions. Firstly, I’ve had a black cat since I was three, and it would be harder to avoid cracks in the pavement than it would be just to walk over them most days.

It’s incredible how some superstitions really stick with people. I remember being on a first date, and we were walking while talking, and me being oblivious to my surroundings, carelessly walked through a road sign that towered over the pathway. My date opted to walk on the road to avoid it, saying, ‘you just walked straight through that, didn’t you?’ sounding like I just walked across flaming ashes. From that day, I realised that’s also a weird little quirk lots of people have. My point is those little superstitions fill up our day to day lives, and we’re so used to them that to function without it seems like you’re just asking for trouble.

I’ve always had one superstition that isn’t really rooted in anything mystical or ancient, but it’s one I hold for myself. It’s to hold off telling people about something I really want or something that I’m really anxious about. It’s a weird one because these things are seemingly something I should be happy to share with the people I care about the most. However, there’s something inside of me that stops me from going into many details. I want to avoid jinxing it or jeopardising my chances as if some little results demon will edit the verdict if he catches me talking about it. I wouldn’t be so stuck to this superstition if it didn’t work 99% of the time.

My friends all know that I’m looking for a job, and I’ve been pretty vocal about it for over a year. Always just trying to find the right one, getting to interviews but never making it any further. It’s been a struggle, and one of my friends have been there every step of the way. But this one job came up, and I felt really good about the first interview, then the second one, then the written assessment that before I knew it, I was in too deep, and I could see the finish line. To tell everyone at this point would be the same as shooting myself in the foot; who benefits from that? Well, I went and got the job, and it made telling my friends all that sweeter.

Superstitions are funny; it’s like saying ‘Bloody Mary’ three times into a mirror. You know the likeliness of a cloaked blood-soaked woman would appear in the reflection is very little, but would you risk it when you’re home alone?

Opinion: Change Can Happen

Time for Change Sign With Led Light

A lot of things have changed in my life recently and something that I’ve been wanting on for a long time. I got offered a new job, a good job with clear career progression and a supportive team of like-minded individuals. I’m completely over the moon with this and it couldn’t have come at a better time. At a time where I was really putting myself through a lot stress to keep productive and to keep pushing when all I wanted was to have a breather for a bit. I’m sure many others have been feeling this way as we approach our pandemic anniversary.

I would like to write a little about ‘change’ and my views on it. When I was a kid and teen I rarely noticed how much I was changing, but I was changing a lot physically and mentally. Every year I was growing taller, starting a new year at school with more responsibility, meeting new people, etc. It was constant change, so much so that it happens without much singing and dancing. As I left my teen-hood and full time education, the first thing I felt was the ‘change’ as I once knew it stunted drastically. I was certainly still changing, for the first time ever I was focusing on my mental health, my body, and really listening to myself and what I wanted. But exterior changes stunted dramatically, and once lock down hit, long periods went by without any chance at all.

This affected me quite a lot, more than I imagined. Once those little and frequent changes left me I felt a little lost and a lot of panic came over me. Panic that this was all my life was to be now, stuck in one job forever, stuck in the same small town and with no chance of meeting anyone now. When what seems to be the most social years of your life (college or uni) have finished, it can feel like you’ve met all the people you will ever meet. And your first job can feel like it is the only one you’ll have.

That permanence freaks me out, I crave change and I want it as frequent as when puberty finally hit me. I understand that change can be daunting and the opinion is polarizing. Some like the familiarity and I completely understand that. How I view change is like growth, and when you’re growing you’re learning and progression. For a while I felt I wasn’t growing at all.

So back to my new job, the hiring process was long and challenging. Lots of anxious days passed where I was waiting for feedback, for a ‘no’ so that I could be put out of my misery. Yet, the most extraordinary thing happened. When I found out, I burst out crying, a strong emotion I wasn’t anticipating but clearly needed. It felt like I broke the system that I built around myself. That I can in fact change my reality, I don’t have to feel stuck in one job that isn’t satisfying me and drains me a little more each day.

This is a major change I wasn’t expecting to happen any time soon but I truly believe things to do happen when they are most needed. We have no control over this. So with this new found faith in change, who knows what else 2021 will bring.

Review: Good Woman by The Staves

With an abundance of feather-light harmonies and gut-punching lyrics, this trio of sisters are back after 4 years with their new album.

Image result for good woman the staves

The time has come for a new album from The Staves. I’ve been a fan for a long time and was very much ready to dive straight into this record. In the time since their last album a lot has seemed to changed in the sisters’ lives, one has become a mother at a time that they all lose their mother. Yet, this album is a mixture of heartbreak, injustice, and hope. The Staves do what they do best and that is navigating us through gorgeous vocals and experimental sounds.

Starting with the title track ‘Good Woman,’ I interpreted this as a gentle frustration over the experience of what it actually means to be a good woman. Convincing yourself that you’re doing the best that you can and it rising to the boiling point where the sisters are screaming ‘I’m a good woman.’ When asked about this track, Jessica said: ‘The idea was to create the kind of inner chatter in your mind — and especially as a woman, all the worries that go around your head. You’re not worrying just about yourself, you’re worrying about so many other people that you care for in your life, that you feel responsible for. And when you add together a number of women’s worries, it all just becomes this noise.’ It’s a powerful introduction into their new era, with reminiscent styles from ‘If I Was.’ We then go into a track that feels fresh and exciting, ‘Best Friend’ is fast paced and happy for the most part, it sounds best when driving with all your windows down.

The heaviest song of the album has to be the third track and of course Camilla leads it, she seems to do the heavier songs and I love it. ‘Careful, Kid’ is a collision of synths and screechy bass guitar. Middle tracks like ‘Nothing’s Gonna Happen, Sparks, Paralysed,’ are in tone with Dead & Born & Grown, the ukulele and acoustic guitar is back out and it zones in our their beautiful voices. By the end of the album, they end with the emotional ballad ‘Waiting On Me To Change’ which feels very fairytale like and is probably the most pleasant break up song I’ve listened to.

Something that I really appreciate from The Staves is that it requires you to listen multiple times. Maybe the first time you focused on the melodies without much focus on their lyrical abilities, and then you listen back for the lyrics and that’s what keeps you coming back.

I know I’m a fan so this may make me a biased judge, but this album is just very good, I didn’t really doubt it. It’s one of those albums you can leave on in the background and you’re guaranteed for someone to ask ‘who’s this?’ it’ll pause conversation in the best way and turn your attention to each track. I would highly recommend.

Opinion: Am I Aiming High Enough?

Silhouette of Woman

I had an interesting discussion with a friend today. Mostly about what we were aiming to achieve in our lives and what we understood about how to get there. I found this really hard to understand and I quickly started to panic because I felt I was aiming too low. It got me thinking about how a lot of us may be doing the same thing and settling for things within our reach rather than aiming high enough.

I get overwhelmed by my options, I don’t know what to do and how to get there half the time. That bothers me and without realising that I can change that myself I needed a friend to point it out to me.

Mine is focussed around writing and journalism, I know a logical way of getting there. That was to contact local papers for some experience. I managed to get some which felt great and like I was moving in the right direct but the experience has gone quiet. This has bothered me and it’s the first proper hurdle I’ve reached in my journey.

I feel a little stumped on where to go from here, I don’t live near London or any major cities so experience is few and far between. My friend just pointed out that I can easily pitch ideas to magazines, why not? What do I have to lose? I guess she’s right, there’s no harm in trying. I don’t even know how to pitch and that’s a big part of being a journalist.

So I’m now setting myself the goal to learn how to pitch an idea and go for it. If you have something that feels out of reach, maybe you wish to get into films and haven’t thought of posting to YouTube, just go for it! Make the steps to what you wish to achieve and it will feel a whole lot better than not trying. I often let myself get stumped by the obstacles in my way and I can feel my own passion for it fleeting really quickly. I didn’t realise how much of a defeatist I can be. But no more! I want to break through this self-sabotage and hope that this will continue through to the future.

Opinion: Finding True Love on Scrabble GO

Love, Ring, Romance, Wedding, Couple, Marriage

Overall, I’m never too bothered about my relationship status, the only times ‘single’ hangs its head over me is when my loved up friends point it out like some sort of illness. I do think I’m too selfish for companionship at this time in my life, I’m trying my hardest to wedge a foot (I’ll settle for little toe) into the door of a life I want for myself which isn’t concerning a man. Not that I’m not open to the idea of being swept off my feet and taken care of, but with the added cock-block of a national lockdown, I can’t see the benefit of stressing about it.

Instead, I’m filling my time with much more important things thank you very much. I had one of those ‘lockdown epiphanies’ of getting better at something, and I chose Scrabble. A very random choice if I’m honest and sort of inspired by Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit because I don’t feel ready to tackle the hill of chess just yet. I’ve never been too good at Scrabble and being a Literature graduate, I think I should be good at. I should be able to find words longer than four letters at least.

So I downloaded Scrabble GO. If you’re not familiar with this app, you can play with your friends or with strangers who are also using the app. You can even chat with people through there. The quick-witted among you will see an opportunity to arise in the previous sentence.

I was excited to begin playing with anyone, I was accepting new games whenever they came. People were fast to respond too, I felt like it must be bots I was up against, no chatting just Scrabble 24/7. Then, I match with this guy called ‘David.’ He played his move, and then I followed before returning to my other games.

‘Hey, how are you’ pops up from David. I answer because it’s harmless to do so, maybe he was just lonely due to lockdown restrictions and just wanted a friend. I don’t like to think it’s naive to think that way, but maybe it is because he came back with ‘Do you want to come round mine’ after playing the word ‘GUT.’ I replied; ‘Considering there’s a deadly virus hanging around I’m not sure that’s the best thing to do,’ playing the word ‘REPEAT.’

‘Sure you can, quarantine with me, two weeks in the bedroom.’ I couldn’t help thinking about what the hell is going on and laughing and how absurd this situation was. I instantly sent a screenshot to my friend, as you do, hoping to share the laughter and she told me that this was a thing. As in, it’s common knowledge that men prowl over Scrabble GO searching to chat with a girl. The only indication that David had that I was female was my name and my little Facebook profile pic that you can’t click into and expand. A tiny icon was enough for him to invite me to his bed.

It was an odd experience, David kept trying it on to the point I just ended the game and cut the conversation there. Maybe if he didn’t come on too strong something could have happened, he could have been my true love, we could talk about how we feel in love through an app. A familiar love story for many, what really is the difference between Scrabble GO and tinder?

Review: Rooting for the Underdog in ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’

Delia Owens conjures up a delightfully unique tale centred around class and race prejudice and dealing with loss.

Where the Crawdads Sing: Amazon.co.uk: Delia Owens: 9781472154668: Books

I just finished this novel, and now I can’t stop thinking about it—a feeling I haven’t had in a long time. Like most things these days, I tend to find popular books through social media. I saw a couple of influencers with this novel placed purposefully in the background of their photos, and like the sucker I am, I had to investigate further. My brief research shows that I’m about two years late to the party and Reese Witherspoon’s infamous book club covered this in 2018. I had no idea what this story would be about, and for a while, I avoided reading as I didn’t think I’d like it. When will I ever learn that judging a book by its cover will never work!

The story begins with ten-year-old Kya, a girl who lives with her large family on a town’s outskirts. Specifically in marshland. As Kya grows up, you experience her trauma with her, dealing with family members leaving until she is dumped by herself. When she is 23/4, a guy in the near town is found dead in the marsh, and she becomes the lead suspect in the case.

This novel is set in the mid-late ’60s and doesn’t shy away from racial conflicts and class prejudices. One of the big standouts of this novel is the writing quality; I was marking pages to remember the lines and get inspiration for my own writing. Lines like ‘The rain eased. A single drop, here then there, shook a leaf-like the flick of a cat’s ear.’ or ‘Before the feather game, loneliness had become a natural appendage to Kya, like an arm. Now it grew roots inside her and pressed against her chest.’

I wouldn’t say that this is solely a ‘murder-mystery’ novel, that wasn’t the most exciting part of the book, Owens writes Kya so that you can’t help but get attached to her story. I found myself feeling her pain and disappointment when yet ANOTHER person lets her down (there’s so many). If you like truthful and heartbreakingly raw stories that have you on an emotional rollercoaster right until the last page, I would highly recommend.

Opinion: The Competitiveness of Screen Time

It seems like everything these days becomes a competition and comparison of achievement. Screen time is no exception. Although quite a foolish by-product of the last five years, screen time has become a vital measure of productivity.
I’ll confess that mine is piss-poor at the moment. Currently, it’s Monday morning, and Apple kindly popped me a notification to let me know my stats from the previous week. An average of 9 hours and 41 minutes a DAY.

Cheerful female browsing smartphone at home

I was disappointed with myself. It didn’t stop me sending it to my group chat to kind of revel in the stupidity. I sort of expected my friends to reveal similar extortionate measures, but no. “Mine was an average of 3 hours,” one said, the other, “I thought my 5 hours a day was bad.” I guess I’m alone in this shame.
I got a bit defensive then, thinking that these particular friends are gamers and spend more time in front of a computer/ TV screen than I do. They also probably access their messages on their laptop without having to touch their phone. It wasn’t fair. But why do I care? What are the connotations of screen time that make it so shameful?

I think it’s associated with lower intelligence, shorter attention span, and detachment from the outer world. All of this is true to an extent; the only one I would argue is the lower intelligence. For all Apple knows, I could be reading ‘Sapiens’ on my phone at a bus stop. It’s not always for keeping up to date on celebrity gossip or scrolling through Tik Tok.

However, I don’t want to defend myself; I simply wish to reduce this. Turn it into a competition, next week I’ll be able to say that I spent 0.1 seconds on my phone so take that!

It’s a shame though; I don’t want to be on my phone all the time. I tell myself it’s to keep up with the world, and studies show that there’s now the anxiety of missing something if we leave our phone alone for more than 15 minutes.

The news cycle is continually churning out new horrors or updates, and I don’t want to be ignorant of what’s happening globally. I’m also emailing people and waiting for responses which cause me to check religiously. I don’t want them to think I’m taking my time even though I’ve had to wait 5 hours for their response.

It’s a hideous existence to always feel behind or at risk of missing something big. I believe mine stemmed from when I was 18 in 2015. I just got into my first choice uni, and although it wasn’t too far from home, I still wanted the halls experience. I didn’t realise that it was racing to get a spot, I naively assumed it was a given if you were a fresher. I was very wrong and missed out a place in all of the halls available on campus. It wasn’t a big deal, I was still very social and made many friends commuting, but I always felt stupid for missing that straightforward thing. Before 18, I didn’t really need to check emails, I was at college 8 hours a day and got all my info from teachers in class, I hardly shopped online or did anything online other than watching Youtube. How was I supposed to know that emails and checking updates were so crucial?

There have been other times where I’ve missed out on things due to my lack of activity online, and there’s no doubt that’s affected my need to be on it more. Even when I take a break and reply a little slower, friends check up me (which I am grateful for) to make sure I’m alright. The fact that I haven’t responded quicker makes them worried instead of being just a regular thing.

Man in White Dress Shirt Sitting on Couch Reading Book

The truth is, there is no need to keep checking my phone. The text and email will still be there in an hour. If they’re good friends, they won’t get offended, and if it’s an opportunity meant to happen, then there’s nothing wrong with being a little late to the party. However, it’s also okay to check your phone. I don’t want to feel shame for wanting to watch an episode of my favourite TV show in my bed after a long day. It’s also entertaining sometimes to scroll through Tik Tok and have a laugh. However, I need to learn to limit it, which is the goal for the next year.

Opinion: Holding On is Holding You Back

This evening in the U.K., Boris Johnson announced that we’re heading into another full lockdown. Happy New Year!

I’m avoiding Twitter, I’m avoiding the news as much as possible. It feels like a constant stream of negativity so I will just hide in my little blog for now. However, this is a situation I can’t control. I can only control how I spend my time. I want to focus on my mental, physical health and do as much writing as possible.

There’s a song I’ve been listening to on repeat today: Holding On is Holding You Back by push baby. It’s message is how you can spend so much time worry about your past that you miss opportunities in front of you. A message I feel that I need right now. We don’t know what’s coming but we can only focus on what’s going on in the present.

Plans for an Un-conventional New Years Eve

I have a feeling that this New Years Eve will be particularly difficult for everyone who is used to being out and having plans. No lavish parties or glittery Instagram pictures, instead it will likely be an evening of watching TV or playing board games. Something I’m not too bothered by. Actually, the relief I feel of not having to frantically set plans in stone and have friends struggle to stick to them is great.

Woman in Silver V-neck Long-sleeved Dress

Last year, I didn’t have a proper plan, I was actually just sort of relying on being invited somewhere (yes, my ego sometimes surprises me too). Alas, nothing was properly planned and I ended up tagging along to a friends’ intimate party where I knew no one and it was kind of awkward. I cycled there thinking I could make an easy escape and not have to sleep over which, while it was daylight, didn’t seem like a bad idea. By the time it got to around 3 am when I eventually left, it was a different story.

It wasn’t a long ride, and I wouldn’t call myself a novice cyclist which is probably why I was pushing it going fast right down the centre of the road. No one was around and for a moment I felt I had it all to myself. I was flying down the dark suburban street with the icy wind slightly pushing against me, feeling young and eccentric. Then, I met some discarded road works that were blocking the street but not the pavement. That’s fine, I thought, I just need to hop up the small curb and finish my journey on the pavement.

Oh boy, what an error. I hit the curb a little short without any decrease to my speed and I was sent over my handlebars to crash a couple of feet past my bike. Landing on my side with my cheek brushed against the gravel. OUCH, I remember just lying there for a solid 5 minutes nursing my left elbow that was pulsing with pain. What the hell happened? I was really hoping there wasn’t too much damage because I didn’t want to be that one idiot that has to haul a poor emergency service worker out to scrape me from the ground on NYE. I managed to pick myself up minutes later and continued my journey on foot. I wasn’t risking the bike again and didn’t think I could manage with the pain that was seizing up my left arm.

Woman in Black Blazer Holding White and Black I Am a Good Day Card

I laugh about it now, and sort of laughed about it at the time too. What an idiotic and poetic way to start 2020. Completely tossed off my bike and rolling around the floor, alone, on a quiet street, at 3 am. I couldn’t drive for a week after and hobbled around work feeling sorry for myself but it’s a story to tell.

At least the worst that can happen to me this NYE is that I spill red wine down myself – which I’m known to do all year round anyways.

I hope everyone has a lovely and safe NYE no matter if you’re tucked up in bed by 9 pm or dancing around the Christmas tree one last time.

Best Songs of 2020

Music Review: Dua Lipa's 'Future Nostalgia'
Dua Lipa’s (Dula Peep) shoot for her 2020 ‘Future Nostalgia’ album. Leading the disco revival with it’s March release.

Although this year didn’t go to plan for many of us, one of the shining outliers which stopped it from being a complete fail were the new music releases. Especially in the pop realm where I found myself gravitating towards more for the simple pick-me-up attitude of them. The only thing missing was the dance floor. Here are my top picks for the year:

The ‘Turning Your Kitchen Into a Club’ songs:

This is quite self-explanatory section for those times you just needed to dance and forget about what is troubling you. Unfortunately, we were unable to do this in a club or bar but our own homes had to be good enough. Close the blinds, invest in a mini disco light and just let loose to some of 2020’s best.

  1. Pretty Please / Levitating by Dua Lipa
  2. Soul Control by Jessie Ware
  3. 911 / Rain On Me by Lady Gaga (+ Ariana Grande)
  4. Chemicals / Feed the Fire by SG Lewis
  5. Heaven Let Me In by Friendly Fires
  6. Coulda Woulda Shoulda by Dagny
  7. Born to the Night by Ava Max
  8. Regardless by RAYE & Rudimental
Harry Styles Sported a Truly Rad Manicure | GQ
Harry Styles in his ‘Golden’ Music Video – which provided 90% of my happiness this year.

The ‘Re-igniting my Indie-Rock Phase’ songs:

It was never a phase and I’m sure some of these are toeing the line between indie and pop (I’ve got two ex boy band members in it) but hear them out! Styles and Horan’s new sounds have been exceptionally good and shown their true appreciation for music.

  1. Golden by Harry Styles
  2. Skinny Skinny by Ashton Irwin
  3. Rearrange Us by Mt.Joy
  4. Small Talk by Niall Horan
  5. Overkill by Holly Humberstone
  6. Ghost by Gerry Cinnamon
  7. Nobody’s Baby by COIN
  8. There’s Still a Light in the House by Valley
  9. cotton candy by YUNGBLUD
  10. Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy) / If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) by The 1975
The 1975: Notes on a Conditional Form review – an uncertain record for  uncertain times | Music | The Guardian
My boys from The 1975 with their apparently last album under the band’s name.

The ‘Let Me Sit and Cry with a Bottle of Wine’ songs:

Also an essential category for any year. Sometimes you need a good cry or a song to help comfort you through a particularly difficult time. These songs have comforted me the most from my spells of bad mental health to when my dog died. They have been a life saver.

  1. champagne problems by Taylor Swift
  2. cardigan by Taylor Swift
  3. 2016 by Sam Hunt
  4. Cherry by Harry Styles
  5. Roll the Credits / Fickle McSelfish by Gerry Cinnamon
  6. Don’t Worry by The 1975
  7. I Know Alone / FUBT by HAIM

I don’t even know what to expect of 2021 but what I noticed this year was the rise of disco pop and heavier punk rock styles which I’m all for. I believe that rap has had it’s spotlight now and by all means can stay but it would be nice to see some other genre take to the stage for a bit! I have nothing but high hopes for whatever is coming (hopefully a Hozier album)