the new year

I've decided I actually don't much like yearly round ups, let alone decade roundups.
How could I process a decade I started in primary school in 1000 words. Bullshit. 
But 2019 is also over (didn't u know!) and its been a lot, so happy and exhilarating, but a lot. I'm full and tired, ready for more and ready to sleep. But life goes on. 
I'm writing this at my desk in Oxford, with coffee and a sunny view. I'm avoiding reading Procopius, because I'm here to have fun. Celebrate a new decade (lol), see some of my best friends. Not to work. 

I do want to think about what has happened, and what is to happen. A year of libraries, sunsets, runs, dancing and crying. A year of stimulation and interest and challenge, but in the best ways. A year of happiness and contentment, good friends but also some weird headspaces and thoughts and places. A year of stability and anxiety, control and freedom. 
As we approach a new decade, there are some things I am terrified about. 
I'm scared about getting older, for the responsibility and seriousness it brings. Ending uni, having to face emptiness and lack of direction again, and feel lost and small and not know where I'm going. 
The prospect of not knowing where I'm going.
Not wanting to leave home for good, because its warm and its safe and I can pretend, just for a day, to be a child again. 
The possibility that an empty year can bring, the 'bad stuff' that could happen, that I relentlessly feel I cannot weather.
But there are also some things I am excited for: 
The knowledge of a full year of fulfilment and stimulation, in a place I know I am happy. New things and new people, new places and new opportunities. Spring in the meadows and summer evenings. Long walks and phone calls with my mum. Evenings with friends and evenings alone, collaging and drinking tea. Lying in the sun reading my book, and finding the space I reached in July of pure and utter peace. Perhaps I'm really just excited about summer. 

There are also some lessons I want to learn in the next year, and some things I want to do.
I want to learn resilience, so the irrational potential for hardship doesn't keep me awake at night.
I want to free myself from the sometimes obsessive control that has become a bit too much.
Run a half marathon. 
Spend more time on my own, and be more introspective.
Write, and more than just teary excerpts in my journal.
Continue on the eco trajectory: find a zero-waste shop in Oxford, fly far less, continue to abandon fast fashion and consumerism, even when I'm stressed or sad. 
Learn how to sleep a bit more, and look after myself a bit better.
Learn how to say no to other people's problems, if they're too much or if there's no one supporting me.
Not get so stressed about friendship, understand that everyone does it differently and that's okay.
Give myself empty time, because its terrifying and nauseating but in the emptiness I might find myself 
Try and maintain writing and friendships and connections when things are stressful and busy, but also remember it is a two-way dynamic 
Join an orchestra
Be so much softer on myself because life is hard and you're making it harder
Continue to laugh and feel free and relish in happiness 
Cook in bulk and freeze it because, despite what my brain tells me, it is quicker 

So there we have it. 2020 brings stability and opportunity, the known and the unknown. For some reason, I really want to go home and cry, which is an emotion I haven't felt in a very long time. But, rather than overanalyse it I'll just let it be. 
What are you all hoping for for the new year? 

it was the worst of times, it was the worst of times

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.

All across the country, there was mystery and rejoicing. 
All across the country, what had happened whipped about by itself as if a live electric wire had snapped of a pylon in a storm and was whipping about in the air above the trees, the roofs, the traffic. 
All across the country, people felt it was the wrong thing. All across the country, people felt it was the right thing. All across the country, people felt they'd really lost. All across the country, people felt they'd really won. All across the country people felt they'd done the right thing and other people had done the wrong thing. 

The above comes from Ali Smith's 'Autumn', not a book I overly like but a passage written after the referendum that aptly describes Friday's election result.
I am angry. And scared, and feel helpless and let down. My voice feels minute and insignificant, as though I am beating against a wall, shouting louder, to no avail. Its almost claustrophobic how helpless I feel.
How did this happen? In my liberal bubble, a bubble that includes almost exclusively Oxford and Newcastle, both labour strong-holds, both young cities, a bubble predominantly composed of the educated, the liberal, the comfortable, the vote should have been a landslide victory to Corbyn.
But that's the problem. The world doesn't exist in that vacuum. It ignores working towns and ex-mining villages and remote communities that feel forgotten or underrepresented or believe that 'getting Brexit done' will be the solution to their problems.
Its not, and it won't be. Not under this government.
I am terrified for the most vulnerable. 'The people's government' does not mean the people's government, no matter what lies and falsities we have been fed. It means a government for the rich and the self-sufficient and the greedy. And people have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer, as long as this continues.

I'm angry at the media, for being fuelled by untouchable billionaires, for feeding lies, at the BBC for its partiality, for scapegoating Corbyn. I'm angry at the electoral system, creaking under the constitutional pressures of too many political changes. I'm angry the rise in homelessness, foodbanks, child poverty and so many other things that will continue to be ignored and obscured.
The past 5 years have been politically exhausting.

But the days rise and fall, life goes on. And in this, we need to find some hope. An opportunity to do something. I am just as lost as anyone else about what can be done. Protesting and marching outside Parliament are effective ways to convey anger, but they can't be accessed by everyone. They also won't reverse the result, won't protect the NHS or ameliorate rates of homelessness.
Instead, these 2 good articles (below) offer a basic message: revitalise community spirit and support. Give back in whatever capacity you can. Pre-election, I went back to the foodbank I volunteer at, and let me tell you, it was a sobering shock to my Oxford-warped vision of the world. But that shock was necessary. These resources will, unfortunately, become more and more important, and so we need to give more. As George Monbiot says, "charity is no substitute for justice", but maybe in this case it will have to be.

'Out of this darkness we must find the will to fight back'
'Don't despair: a practical guide to making a difference'

"So we must step in with a response that starts and ends with ordinary people. None of us need ever wait a moment before choosing to come together, to help others and to build a kinder world.
So we fight. And then we get up and do it all again. Because there's one thing we know – tomorrow can be better"
(this was taken from @chooselove and is reference to refugees, but I think it can be applied to all vulnerable people and social services in the wake of the election)

So, I'm angry and scared. But we shouldn't become complacent and we shouldn't stop.

Create some space in these dark times, look after urselves, and then fight back.

(pic sources: 1) @subliming.jpg 2) here (unfortunately neither an article nor a newspaper I want to endorse) 3) @chooselove 4) @ambivalentlyyours 5) @bettnorris 6) no idea where this is from, perhaps a bit anarchist but in this climate an apt message 7) here 8) here


here goes!
I want so desperately to write because I have a lot to say and a lot to think and a lot process, and let me tell you I have tried, but it just hasn't worked.
My friend walked into my room the other day and asked what I'd been doing in the whole hour we'd spent separate, and I replied that I'd stared at my screen trying to write and still nothing would come.
Admittedly, the flaw in this was probably that I was trying so damn hard, but I'd finished my essays and wanted to vent and nothing would materialise.
Maybe its so hard because so much has happened and how can I explain how vivid and intense and overwhelming my life is when I can't even process it. And even when I try to process all these weird thoughts and emotions nothing happens. Fuck, man! I feel like I need to just lie still for a day and feel. 

So now I'm back, in front of the fire, with my cat and my choral music, where I wanted to be when the library was cold and I was tired. It doesn't feel as relieving as I thought it might. I miss my friends and carry on seeing, hearing, thinking things I wish I could gossip to them about over a cuppa. I miss the pub and the back streets and the laughter and in some weird ways the library. I'm not yet relaxed and feel caught in a liminal existence, but I know I need to breathe and ease into it and it will soften.
Today, I went back to the foodbank, which was a sobering (necessary) jolt to my Oxford privilege, and something I want to write about. It made me feel angry, then embarrassed and then helpless, and has confirmed how I will vote on Thursday. I then went back to work, which was a total dichotomy of privilege. It's been a lot.
What else? I read Queenie curled up in bed, on the sofa with my friends, on the train. It was a profound contrast of a light-hearted rom com and the realities of systemic racism/sexism inherent in Britain. Funny but sobering in parts. I also fuckin' adored the ways her friends dealt with her mental health issues and have written them down in my journal for future reference. Would very much recommend for a quick christmas read.
I haven't listened to much, because I lost my headphones and refuse to buy new ones. But I have successfully managed 3 carol concerts of varying qualities and theological commitments, and probably need to reign in the amount of choral music I listen to. I'm 20, not 90.
I've done some other sick things, most of which sound mundane when written down. But for reference, a dinner party, a christmas dinner, nights out, 4pm's in pubs, reading in cafes, almond croissants, mulled wine, walks in the park. Good stuff.
But if your panicking that your life isn't living up to this picture of golden euphoria, don't fret. Mine isn't either. Stress, control, big anxiety about the future are all dominating, along with just generally feeling a bit lost and on edge and burdened by unreciprocated friendship dedication. But hey!
I wanna write a lot this Christmas, even if it is narcissistic and vain, mostly because where else am I going to put it?!
(also, don't worry; I too am rlly bored of these update posts listing the 'fun' things I did whilst also crying; more interesting shit is coming i promise)