january




Some nice scenez out the library windows I have been stuck behind for endless hours.
Its a bright fresh January morning. It is this weather in which Oxford looks the most magical. 
The return has been good and strange. I feel at home and as though I belong which is good, and necessary and relieving. I didn't know how would feel when I came back and was nervous to leave comforts and my cat.
But it feels like I never left.  
In the past 6 days I have: sat my first exam, been out 3 times, read for and written 2 essays (lol not fun–turns out u can't condense the reading for the causes of the collapse of the Roman empire into 6 hours!), handed in 2 appalling essays, had a mint tutorial on gender nd politics, gossiped, watched a lot of drama unfold, drank a lot of coffee and laughed a lot and listened to penguin cafe orchestra on repeat. 
I suppose when I think of it in those terms, my anxiety and fatigue appear justifiable. We all laugh that we spend 90% of our time complaining about Oxford, despite the fact we a) actually love it nd b) chose to be here. I mean what did we expect. But sometimes it does feel ruthless. Cramming 11 essays into 8 weeks, making u write them prior to any teaching, giving u so much work that everything you hand in is actually just shit. Its such a microcosm nd a beautiful bubble, but still a bubble. I'm struggling to understand how these two worlds fit together, how to establish some coherence between normality and intensity. And also to fight the pervading imposter syndrome, the endless voice that you're not clever enough, that you shouldn't actually be here. But alas, I am. So fuck it. 
Maybe its January, maybe its hormones, maybe its just life, but my brain has been on overdrive recently. The only thing that makes me think I'm not enjoying myself is me questioning whether I'm enjoying myself. Its found on no sense of unhappiness or loneliness or dejection, its just my brain thinking "am I enjoying this?" to the point where I question whether I am. I fucking wish it'd shut up sometimes! I think I'm feeling a lot more on edge than I have in a long time nd maybe its getting a bit too much. I can feel it in my shoulders. 
Its that mentality where u think: if I could just relax this would be amazing. But the relaxation isn't happening. Ugh. 
But really this city is beautiful nd I'm so lucky and challenged and the people r so interesting and clever and its magical. 
I just need to find some means of relaxation. Getting my brain to stop worrying. Because there's nothing structural to worry about.
"nobody is in love with me and everything is still soft and warm"–trista mateer (got some thoughts on love but we'll save them, enough existentialising for one day)

feeling things

This is entirely a narcissistic record of self-documentation.
I thought I was content with remembering 2018 and its happiness internally, telling the tales of its sun and its peace and its adventure orally and through the golden memories locked away.
But then, irrationally, I had a panic that I wouldn't remember it as such.
This site has become, more than ever, a diary. A record of emotions and headspaces, a place to remember how I was feeling when I'm sad or happy or nostalgic.
And thus, it seems only right, when I am locked away in the library or suffering the dullness of January (currently!) to flick to the instant gratifying memory of 2018 and remember happiness does exist.



SO, in a brief and unexciting dialect.
2018 was magical, I dream of eternally remembering it as such. Of its achievements and surpassed goals and new people and new countries and peace and so much fun and endless laughter and fun and accomplishment and self-love and independence and friends and new homes and new families and stimulation and rigour and fear and wow.
It was the best. The summer was euphoric, the months preceding challenging but rewarding, grudging but growing, and the months after full of newness and excitement and routine and everything I had craved.
SO that's it. That's how I want to remember it. Stilled in an epoch of peace, sat on a Corsican beach, book in hand and radiating sun soothing. Caught in a Parisian park, eating baguettes and feeling at home in my company. Captured in days in bed tired but content, nights dancing, laughing, weeks blurred in happiness, tea with friends, in just being.

I am now hovering in the liminal space between festivities and return to uni. Its sort of unsettling and a bit disorientating.
I've been feeling especially emotional recently, irrationally so.
Everything makes me want to cry or feel, its not a sadness, just a very emotional sense of being. I haven't been in touch with this poignancy for a long ol' while so I am sort of confused nd a bit concerned about how I'll cope alone, u know?
Will I still want to cry when my mum buys me a turtleneck because she knew I wanted one or when I think about family evenings in front of the fire or when I look at my to do list or I just feel emotions. Fuck I probably need to stop crying so much.
knowing when to let myself feel...knowing when to let the feeling go (thank u @ambivalentlyyours for always providing the answers)
Anyway, so I really just wanted to remember how I was feeling, and sometimes typing offers more catharsis than writing. I feel emotional and different and fragile and anxious and small, but 2018 was sick nd January is always hard.

musings #7

Here's a classic collage, except this time its some my faves from my insta saved. I got ridiculously drunk at a ball last week, had an argument with a hot dog seller, got lost in some woods, lost my phone nd thought I was dying the next day. Other than a deep mortification at the events, I learned that I don't really like having a phone (except for the total inconvenience of not being able to contact people!!!) and there are so many parts I find toxic.
I do, however, love saving things on insta to scroll through when I'm bored or sad or hungry or just needing some inspo. I always want to physicalise and materialise that things I've saved (but that is the inherent problem with technology lol) so I figured a selection of moodboards would have to suffice. I also just wanna share the things I love lol.

SO here we go! Enjoy the vibrant goodness. Maybe you can find some new peeps to follow or just feel full of colour and wanderlust and feminist solidarity.


Most of what I save falls into the categories of: places I want to go, food I want to eat, clothes I wanna wear or lame quotes to make me feel happier/less stressed/at peace.
Some of my faves didn't actually fit into the aEsTHetIC but imagine pancakes nd pics of dogs nd quotes which make u wanna vom with cringe.


be easy. 
take your time. 
you are coming home. 
to yourself.
(see what i mean)


It is the eve of boxing day. It's been a marginally uneventful Christmas. I wanted to relax more than I actually did and think I perhaps glorified the break a little. But I've enjoyed walking on the beach and being in the countryside and with my family and have allowed myself to consume as much as I wanted (yay!) and its been a very eco-friendly christmas, which sets the path well for my 2019 resolutions.
My break has been a little odd, very frantic nd a bit stressed. I've wanted to spend as much time as possible at home and going out hasn't appealed. But that's probably unsurprising seeing as I often don't get the luxury when I'm away (mostly out of choice).
I'm quite apprehensive about going back to Oxford, probably mostly because I have exams (which I haven't sat in 2 years!!!) nd so much.fucking.work to do and the intensity and atmosphere feels very daunting, despite having an amazing first term. But once I'm in the rhythm and see my friends, I'm sure I'll, again, not want to leave.

Alas, merry christmas/happy festive season to u all!!! This evening shall be spent reading Crazy Rich Asians, eating (obvs), continuing to think/dream/yearn for summer nd potential plans nd trying to ignore the inevitable return to reality.

***

(pics above are as follows:
first: 1) @rookiemag (rip :( ) 2)@wearehundredclub 3) @___mylene 4) @sadgirlsclub 5) @wearehundredclub 6) @scottdunn_travel 7) @scottdunn_travel 8) @ramonaforgirls 9) @ramonaforgirls 10) @rossie_edenbrow 11) @iamlucymoon 12) @nobodysdarlingblog 13) @rossie_edenbrow 14) @elspe.th 15) @sophievstheuniverse
second: 1) @thecroissantpostcard 2) my queen @maddiemills99 3) @historyinpix 4) @matthewwilliamson 5) @papier 6) @thehundredclub 7) @subliming.jpg 8) @subliming.jpg 9) @bodiljane 10) @scottdunn_travel
(poem from @sadgirlsclub)
third: 1) @ramonaforgirls 2) @nobodysdarlingblog 3) @theeconomist 4) @scottdunn_travel 5) @momsgardenart 6) @lesparisiennedumonde 7) @subliming.jpg 8) @arielbissett 9) @nobodysdarlingblog 10) @matthewwilliamson 11) @tristamateer 12) @bmseventh)

growth nd stuff


(miss the sun eternally)

I was supposed to spend my christmas writing and sleeping and reading and not doing much else. But then, shit got really busy and I realised I didn't have time to do any of it.
So here I am, 2 weeks later having spent every day scrawling 'blog post' on my to-do list, longing for next week and the actual festivities and time to properly relax.
I didn't really realise I would be just as busy in holidays as I am term and that coming home didn't actually mean anything.
Alas.
Lets talk about change. Change is so fucking weird and its sort of good and its sort of bad and whilst I crave it and thrive off it, its also exhausting and disorientating and you find yourself pining for familiarity.
(prepare for some self-obsessed narcism, y'all!)
Coming home, reading my diary and thinking about the events of the past 12 months made me realise how. much. has. changed. In the space of a surprisingly formative year that felt meaningless and transient, I grew in independence and resilience and headstrong-ness and confidence and adaptability and awareness and just fucking life experience man!
I think, through rose tinted naivety, I perhaps lay claim to resolution. That I've got everything sorted. Obvs I haven't. Fuck man, there are still so many mistakes to make and sad days to have and hours to spend crying on the phone to my mum but 2018 has been crazy for self growth and we're here for it.

Here are some of the things I've learned amongst the change:
that the same jeans can actually be worn for 2+ weeks nd no one will know (gross but who has time for laundry!)
you are essentially paying £9k to read books
inebriation facilitates debate and rum enables me to get very vocal when a privileged nascent tory begins telling me that taxation is bad! everyone should work for themselves! free market rules! people at foodbanks aren't in dire crisis!
keeping in touch with people is actually very hard nd I shouldn't have been so petty about my friends' distance
running is sometimes horrible but mostly actually very good and hitting milestones feels 10/10
contrary to personal belief for 19 years, I am apparently seem very confident and self-assured (lol!)
friendship crushes are apparently a thing
adjusting to different worlds was much less traumatic than expected therefore progress has maybe actually been made!!!
people don't fundamentally change that much nd its the best when u return to normality within 5 mins
life is good!
adulting is hard nd you actually can't just cry when you run out of change for the washing machine or don't want to go to Tesco
emptying your room hungover on 2 hours sleep isn't fun
free bars are, actually, not a good idea
getting with friends is never sensible and we all really knew this already

And here are some lessons I still need to learn.
I don't think people dislike you as much as you think they should, people actually want to be your friend despite you not understanding why
being away from home has worsened my relationship with food nd how to tackle this so i don't have to say no when everyone else says yes
how to tackle that panic between small talk nd forming actual friendships
nothing requires being thought about that much (my brain doesn't need to follow the question 'should I buy a coffee' with 10 mins of the pros and cons followed by panic that I've made the wrong decision)
and not everything or all the world's problems are your responsibility or fault lol
to tackle guilt that pervades almost everything
to make an achievable to-do list
be more emotionally available nd open
that time can be made in my day to do things
to stop being a whiny bitch

I'm feeling a bit worked up nd stressed and actually very fucked off with the state of world affairs (is anything not going to SHIT?). Its hard not to get down when all u hear is the mess of Brexit, the Labour party doing shit all, Trump conducting foreign policy through twitter, claiming the war in Syria is over, the rise of the far right across Europe, people in the foodbank who have had to survive off £5 a month because universal credit doesn't work. And then, amongst all this mess, Parliament being dominated by Jeremy Corbyn saying 'stupid woman'. Its slightly misogynistic, a little unprofessional. But it doesn't need to dominate our headlines. It undermines the feminist cause to those who think we are wet, petty weak women. Lets put the energy into positive activism, try and solve the mess.
Wow.
I think I need a detox.

Hope y'all are well! Stay positive, the world will sort itself out. I fucking hope!
What have you learned in 2018?

books and rain

The last day of term was spent traipsing round book shops, astounded at the amount of freedom we suddenly had and convinced we all deserved a treat to celebrate our survival. I walked out with 4 books, of which I probably won't have that much time to read and probably shouldn't have bought, considering my card was subsequently declined twice later that evening.

I'm struggling with being home and alone and having empty time, a sort of microscopic relapse of September 2017, but these emotions feel so alien, despite having consumed so much. I'd forgotten what it felt like to want to cry, to have my brain overthink to the point of combustion, but these feelings are okay. I'm consumed with guilt (eating, not exercising, not earning enough, not being productive enough) and need to tackle these emotions which I didn't realise were actually still there?!? But I think one way to do this is perhaps through exposure. Force myself to sit and read in the day, and understand that it is okay, that bad consequences did not arise. 
SO anyway. I bought some books. I feel sad and stressed. I'm going to force myself to read the books to try and help. 
Here are the books. 



Black Tudors–Miranda Kaufmann 
A black porter publicly whips a white Englishman in the hall of a Gloucestershire manor house. A moroccan woman is baptised in a London church. Henry VIII dispatches a Mauritanian diver to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose. From long-forgotten records emerge the remarkable stories of Africans who lived free in Tudor England...

One of my modules this year is Tudors/Stuarts and as simplistic and banal as it may sound, I think this'll give a new insight and approach. I've been thinking and reading a lot about the new approaches to the study of history, how a 'history from below' is emerging and challenging our perspectives and understandings. Much of what we know and learn about from the 16th and 17th c's is based on the literature of the elite and therefore sort of neglects the actual experiences of the people. Books like this will hopefully challenge said perspective and help establish a new 'history of the people'. I also want to appear more studious than I am lol. 

The Dream Life of Sukhanov–Olga Grushin 
Stepping out into the dusk of a warm Moscow evening, esteemed art critic Anatoly Sukhanov feels on top of the world: his career is glittering, his wife is beautiful and his children are clever. But the year is 1985 and the air is heavy with change. Sukhanov's future will be haunted by doubt. Beset by heartbreaking visions of a past he gave up, he questions his choices: in swapping a precarious life as a brilliant underground artist for comfort and security did he betray his dreams? And if his dreams re lost, what does he have left?

Oxford has an insane selection of second hand book shops and I've already committed myself to visiting more next term. This was purchased in the Oxfam on Turl Street on a whim, as many of my books are. I, as I've said so many times, am obsessed with Soviet history, especially that relating to the collapse so this felt to be calling my name. From its blurb, it seems to me somewhat reminiscent of A Gentleman in Moscow, which I loved and it has mint reviews, so I am hoping for good things. 

The Immortalists–Chloe Benjamin  
Its 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York's Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The Four Gold children, too young for what they're about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes. Such prophecies could be dismissed as trickery or nonsense, yet the Golds bury theirs deep. Over the years that follow they might attempt to ignore, embrace, cheat or defy the 'knowledge' given to them that day–but it will shape the course of their lives forever.

This one was a total whim. We'd been in Blackwells for hours and were on a tight schedule to cook pesto pasta before drinking disgustingly strong vodka-coke from bowls because no one washes up and dancing until 3am to the trashiest music in the best/worst club in Oxford. 
I needed a final book to complete my 3for2 and my friends were offering endless suggestions and I was s-t-r-e-s-s-i-n-g. They were sent out the shop lmao so I could choose in peace. Anyway, this sounds light and kind of trashy, just what I need on these winter days. Again, it has insane reviews so hopefully it'll be a nice surprise. 

Enigma Variations–Andre Aciman 
From a youthful infatuation with a cabinet maker in a small Italian fishing village, and a passionate yet sporadic affair with a woman in New York, to an obsession with a man he meets at a tennis court, Enigma Variations charts one man's path through the great loves of his life. Paul's intense desires, losses and longings draw him closer, not to a defined orientation, but to an understanding that 'heartache, like love, like low-grade fevers, like the longing to reach out and touch a hand across the table, is easy enough to live down'. Andre Aciman casts a shimmering light over each facet of desire, to probe how we ache, want and wave, and ultimately how we sometimes falter and let go of the very ones we want the most. We may not know what we want. We may remain enigmas to ourselves and to others. But sooner or later we discover who we've always known we were.

This was the main purpose of our trip. I'd noticed someone reading it in college and knew it had to be devoured over Christmas. I've already started it and its fragile and delicate and leaden with nascent desire, probably perpetuating my sadness. Its made me think a lot about love, which of course sparked existentialism, and growing up and familial relationships but more than anything it echoes that dry warmth of Italian summers which my body craves. When I've fought off the weighing guilt, I'm going to plough through this and treasure Aciman's lingering word because he is a literary genius. 

So, alongside the world of late antiquity and the roman empire divided, this shall be my reading material for the christmas break. I've also got a copy of Crazy Rich Asians which I know will provide a mindless disappearance into a world of trash. My fave.

As I finish this post, I am sitting in the library, writing a timeline and looking out onto a backdrop of grey. It is the bleakest day. The rain is ceaseless, which I sort of like. I still feel a bit all over the place, but my day has been better than I anticipated and maybe I'll see my friend later, but I also dream of crawling into bed and reading, where I know the wrath of exhaustion will take over. Wow, what a few months it's been. 

What are you all reading?

on feeling at home


How do you feel at home, when you're 250 miles away from your cat and your bed and your view?
Michaelmas term is drawing to a close, next saturday I make the 5 hour trek up north with my boxes and bags and a heart of pride and a brain of exhaustion.
But this feels like home.
And, for me, that is quite remarkable.
To achieve this peace in a room that isn't mine, in a city where I initially knew no one...
I filled my room with things that reminded me of summer, of warmth, postcards of places I'd been, ones I collected, Photo Booth strips, books I'll never have time to read.
I spent my final pay check on special bedding and decorative mugs and nice cushions because those things make me feel at ease.
I spent hours in my room in the early evening, when the sun streams in and caresses the wall with an ethereal glow.
I wandered the streets at sunset and found my way on runs and took myself on journeys around the libraries and the cafes, with my books and my laptop, getting a sense of my favourite places.
I spoke to my friends about how I felt, whilst we spent hours sitting in my room drinking tea and eating chocolate and marvelling at our lives.
I explored the things I'd saved on intsa, treating the city like I was a tourist, allowing me to marvel at its beauty. I explored the colleges and the botanic gardens and the museums.
I had people come to stay, a remarkable number considering how far I am from home. My brother, my mum, my friend, to show them this is where I live.
I said yes to everything. I scrolled through facebook endlessly to find a talk or a concert or a class to fill my already limited time, to create shared memories and an experience wider than the words of the Reformation .
I created a routine and ensured each day was filled with fun, alongside the endless hours of reading.
I think, more than anything, I was ready. I took my time, spent a year alone with my self and my thoughts and my hurt, and soothed it and my brain was finally ready to take the challenge.

****
So thats it! Michaelmas is almost over, I've survived. This morning is an unfamiliar luxury, and yesterday was bliss. My friends are great, I adore the hours we spend making risotto and laughing and drinking tea and ranting about boys we don't care about (but sort of do!) and, fuck me this degree is hard but its great. I am happy.
I can't wait to get home and have the hours to write and bake and think and read, but I also really don't want to leave this world which is like no other.

musings #6

if something is for you, all you have to be is you to receive it.


i see the sun, and if i don't see the sun, i know its there. and there's a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there.

I am living for the vibrant pastels of this mood board. The warmth and colour it radiates is the perfect antidote to grey autumn mornings. Life is chaotic (amazing, stimulating, exciting, exhausting, rigorous, challenging) and I am trying to adopt a mind set of peace. Living amongst the chaos, in the words of ambivalently yours. Letting it flow.
i may think of you softly from time to time//but i'll cut off my hand before i ever reach for you again
I think Arthur Miller is a fucking genius. I've been reading about witchcraft and the repression of women in the 1600's nd maybe I'll read the Crucible again when I get a chance and try to understand the absolute hysteria.

Amongst the endless deadlines nd hours spent reading nd no sleep, my life has been filled with an abundance of stimulation and excitement and fun and I am immeasurably happy in a way I never thought I could be in an academic climate. My brain is content.
And because everything else is new, there are so many new things I love and life for.

Here they are.

classical music: because I spend so many hours in the library, I've exposed myself to an accumulation of new classical tunez to motivate study and just offer a bit of focus.
Shostakovich Gladfly suite
Shostakovich Jazz Suite no. 2
Gabriel Faure après un rêve
Shostakovich cello concerto no. 1 in E (we went to go and see a performance of this on monday and it was the most inspiringly cathartic experience)
working in blackwells and drinking soya lattes (even though I think they actually make me anxious)
tesco runs
the architecture of oxford
the nightclubs of oxford (because a) they all play abba and b) oxf students actually know how to work hard nd play harder lol)
drinking tea with friends after late nights in the library
walks on the phone to my mum
having an academic focus and purpose
postcards (there's an amazing blackwells poster shop here nd it sells sick postcards)
receiving post
living with my friends
being surrounded by intelligent people 24/7
the mad array of talks and shows and events and music and activities that are on every night
cooking with friends
friends who bring you chocolate or leave you notes or do your washing in the middle of an essay crisis
the sound of the rain in my room
the sunsets
seeing my mum for the first time in 5 weeks but also feeling totally fine when she left

So I hope you are all well and are looking after yourselves better than I probably am. Adulting is hard. Actually decision making is the hardest.
I am, for the first time, allowing this morning off. I am relishing in the comfort of my bed and a slow breakfast and time to write and think and talk to Libby, who I miss.

I hope when I'm home I'll manage to process this experience properly. But for now, I am just living in it. Letting it happen.

(as always, all pics are from pinterest or insta (probs either @subliming.jpg, @bmseventh, @tristamateer or @nobodysdarling) and quotes are @subliming.jpg or the legendary Arthur Miller)

sun

My room is blessed with the soft caressing of evening sun. It graces my wall adorned with photos and post cards and gives a sweet sense of comfort in this unfamiliar space. The room, the city, the people, its becoming more familiar and I perhaps have more of a sense of routine and purpose. Maybe not. But I'm enjoying it (except not right now because I'm existentialisng, hence the retreat to my room in which I rarely spend time).


The sun soothes me. Its warmth makes my body relax, its brightness fills me with life and energy and its a returning reminder that life is good and nature magical. Several days in the past few weeks have been so sunny and I've taken my work outside to be both distracted by friends walking by and to feel its heat as I read.

The sunsets here are also magical. So often I have embarked on a run across the meadows or looked out of the library window to see the sky dusted in a soft pink, illuminated by a euphoric glow. Its magical and I love it.

Today was a bit rocky but I stroked a dog and ate biscuits and drank tea with friends until the early hours and really, it was all okay. Even the bad days now replicate the good days 12 months ago.
I just need to become more efficient at time usage, rely on lists a little more and seek out a few more clubs and societies that offer weekly structure, because a history degree lacks that.
I probably also need to sleep for a few more hours and spend a little more time alone to do the soul soothing activities that are necessary for a happy brain.

So I'm loving this undeserved treat of autumn sun and feeling content with friends and fun and work but also need to remind myself that uni doesn't create immunity to every day emotions. They are still there and will always be there.