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

december

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)

happy

Hold up! She's back! and in between the coughing and spluttering and complaining about *how ill I am*, I thought I'd throw some updates.
Today has been the first day, in the entirety of my Oxford life, that I've just lain in bed. And watched RuPaul on repeat. Its actually been kind of lonely and dull and I've been feeling really very sorry for myself (but it has meant I could FaceTime some of my no.1 babes), and even more frustrating because I had an essay due at 4pm. Which I obviously have not handed in. But the tutorial is 1-on-1, so I really can't bullshit about Sufi missionaries. I'm not quite sure how I'll tackle that.
In reality, telling myself to stop has been hard. I have tried to work several times, contemplated walking into college to see my friends, working in a cafe. But I've been told by at least 5 people that I need to stay in bed, and 2 have even banned me from the pub tomorrow night.
It's a bizarre mix of punitive/toxic self-expectations to be pushing, driving, working all the time, and just being really so very happy that I want to embody and breathe the happiness and fun all the time. I want to do everything, every second of every day. This place, these people, and the autumn sun as it ignites the sandstone, and the cold river at 6am, and the frantic, relentless, essays, and the lack of tears because nothing could dampen this happiness.


This is not a very november-esque moodboard, that's for sure.

Some fuckin' brilliant things I've done, eaten, seen, read. Life, ah.

a surprise letter from my friend in Jordan
booking flights to see said friend
a cello concert
a night collaging and drinking g&ts
support for doin' the right thing, taking on the wrong
art galleries and museums, with friends, alone, with family
beautiful blue skies
feminist soc and its success; empowering, supporting, intelligent women*
running because it makes me feel free
just rlly fuckin' good people
the meadows
a day off
my best friend living next door
stimulating, challenging tutorials; essays read+written in 3 days
world history, because it's apparently my ting
granola + peanut butter
letters
feeling really very loved
a rlly good meal i made of dahl nd naan
postcards
not rlly thinking about food, and being grateful for it

But I am also dreaming, just a little, of an evening by the fire, with a home made mince pie, my cat and some wool and gang knitting. She is simultaneously 20-never-stopping-party-popping, and 70, with my knitting and cats.

what's been good for you guys?
I just accidentally opened my notes for the essay I haven't done. And felt a bit sick. I just know it means I'll be behind for next weeks, eek!

(pics are from: @woolandthegang, @yinshadowz (captioned 'there is a universe inside of men <3),  @ashmoleanmuseum, @clemence_gouy,  @komo.sis, @charlotte.ager, @analogbynat, @anne.art,  @bmseventh)

on love and other things


Breathe!

The return back to uni started a little turbulently (anxiety/change/intensity), but I'm into the groove, and fuck man! I forgot how beautiful this place is. Its been ridiculously busy and academically rigorous, but I suppose that goes without saying.
Either way, she is thriving.
Even without love.
This is a big topic of thought at the moment. Which perhaps reflects how little else I have to worry about (even deadlines moved 24 hours earlier didn't induce that much panic). But its a big thought at the moment.
My best friends here are in relationships, and after some drunken bitterness last year (not! cool!), i'm getting into the groove of being alone, and being around everyone else not being alone. 
I do think it isn't spoken about that much, all tied in with that taboo of loneliness. I'm not lonely, fuck me, if I had to delegate any more time or energy I think I might implode. But it is very real.
So let's get the facts right. Sometimes I rlly do internalise my non-loving-ness, I question what is wrong with me, analyse faults and flaws, and compare relentlessly. This especially happens when I'm drunk, and stressed, and storm home alone and have a lot of answering to do the next day. One of the fundamental factors in me being tucked up in bed tonight, and not on the dance floor.
I remember reading a blogpost by someone I used to follow relentlessly that said she thought a relationship would fix her, that her insecurities and worries would dissipate because this one thing she'd been told to pursue eternally had happened. But it doesn't fuckin' work like that, and that's something I'm trying to tell myself.
And sometimes I do feel really bitter when my friends are with their boy/girl friends, and I'm in the library, or bed, or out with platonic (amazing) friends, and it winds me up and makes me feel sad and quiet. But it shouldn't be like that.
So lets unpack this. I don't want to deny these feelings. They're real, and I know I'm not the only one who feels them deeply. Feeling unloved, or unapproachable, or exaggerating and validating my flaws is a justifiable and reasonable reaction when, throughout my formative years, it has been an unquestioned trajectory. It's justifiable, but it doesn't mean its right. And it certainly doesn't bring out my best traits.
There are a lot of fuckin amazing things. I'm unaccountable, and independent, and can dedicate my time and energy to the internal. I put energy into other friends and people, when I see their circles diminishing. And its not that these things can't happen when you're in a relationship, but they're awesome when you're single.
So its not okay to be bitter or angry. Even though that is how I am feeling as I write this. Understand where the bitterness comes from. Write it in your journal, or rant about it to your other single friends, but don't (and I mean don't!!) take it out on your loved-up gang. And challenge the internalised insecurity. Work on self-love and independence, so when and if it does happen, it compliments and not completes. And challenge the capitalist rhetoric that you are not enough on your own. Because boy we are, and we're going to change the world this way.
fall in love with yourself, but with patience, compassion and respect to your own journey 
we should accept, with good grace and a touch of dark humour, that life simply gives us few opportunities to be totally content 
leap and the net will appear
**
Peace, sisters!
Today is a bit sad. Mostly because my arm hurts, which my friends were laughing at me for. I think its from pilates.
Don't you find when you have a bad day, remembering the good bits is really fuckin hard. But there's been too many good bits to document. I'm going to write in my journal, let my head catch up. And then put some ear plugs in (because my walls are t-h-i-n) and sleep, and feel relieved in the morning that I didn't go out.

feminist books

This is the majority of the books I am taking away with me this term. I have a few more academic ones that didn't make the photographic cut, mostly because they're mightily unaesthetic.
Some of these I'll get time to read, others are for reference, and some are for decoration. Not in a vain, Thatcher Wine kind of way, but as books that I love and that comfort me by sitting on my shelf. 


This year, me and some ace friends are setting up Oxford's inaugural (?) feminist society, and as part of it, we are having a termly book club, which I'm really very excited for. The list of books is insane, and has got me exploring empowering texts about the female* experience and how we can strive for further equality. 
Many of these are on my to-read, and I am hoping to treat them almost academically. Taking notes folding pages, photographing passages, you know. 
So here goes!

The Guilty-Feminist, Deborah Francis White 
This podcast, along with my friend Ellen, offered my initial entry into feminism. I adore its humour and candidness, but no doubt you've all heard it before. I did, undeniably, exclaim some annoyance whilst reading it on the beach, I ultimately found her collection informative and inspiring.  Its very much a guide on how to be a 21st century feminist, which I found slightly noughties self-help (a dated 'you can be the best in the boardroom just by saying yes!' account), and sometimes she over qualifies and justifies her opinions with 'this isn't all women', 'this isn't all men' etc. Important, but when done repeatedly can dilute the essence of an argument. I was also not entirely sold on the dominant, gregarious, borderline-rude personas encouraged (i.e. don't apologise, say no with no justification) but its simplistic and relatable approach is amazing. It makes everyone feel included, and reassures that there is no right way. V useful when you're trying to navigate intersectionality and representation, and doing it with upmost respect.

Vagina, Naomi Wolf
Now this book I am excited for. Mostly because of its abrupt, unapologetic title. Man, I can't wait to read it on the bus. Naomi Wolf is a celebrated 3rd-wave feminist, rising to prominence after her 'The Beauty Myth' was published in 1991. This radical book explores female sexuality and the female anatomy, through considerations of the vagina and its connections to the consciousness. Its inspired by personal experience and medical difficulties, encouraging Wolf to find answers. It has been suggested that this work is very cis-focussed, and perhaps reinforces biological gender determinism, which I can certainly appreciate from the blurb. I shall be interested to read it both in relation to my cis-gendered position, and how it considers or neglects the trans experience. 

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
A seminal and ground-breaking feminist text, bought by my best friend for my birthday. He addressed the first page: to the most brilliant and sophisticated feminist I know, a monumental scholarly work ready to be analysed and deconstructed. Can't wait to hear how 'controversial' and 'challenging' you'll find this book. So really, I have to read it. 
De Beauvoir, and this book, were considered the trigger of 2nd wave feminism, recognising women's cultural and political inequalities as being inextricably linked. It attempts to confront historical female oppression, and originates the subordinate position in the perception of female as 'other'. A lot has changed in feminist thought and gender conception since this was published, so I'm intrigued to see the contemporary ideas; those that have lasted, influenced, and those that have dated. Its also fuckin' massive and intimidating, so I will no doubt be assigning myself short segments to digest as I choose. 

Argonauts, Maggie Nelson
This is a genre-rejecting work recommended by the most literary person I know. It sounds unusual and captivating, exploring gender, sexuality, marriage and family through a combination of Nelson's personal experience and epochal theory. To me, this seems one of those books that you can neither explain nor appreciate without having read it, but knowing my friend's other suggestions, it'll be both poetic and provoking. I can't wait. 

We should all be feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Admittedly, I didn't find this ground breaking, and it told me little I didn't already believe or know. But it is 20 minutes of concise and cogent explanation of the role and importance of feminism in the modern world. Perfect for new comers or those who, like me, still feel woefully uneducated.
'I know a woman who has the same degree and same job as her husband. When they get back from work, she does most of the house-work...but what struck me was that whenever he changed the baby's nappy, she said thank you to him'. I see this e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, why do we almost apologetically thank men for doing what needs to be done. 

Really, I am quite ignorant. I wish I knew what I was talking about; I'm trying to find my way in this overwhelming world, often feeling a bit behind and a bit lost. I'm too scared to voice my opinions in case they'll be wrong, upset someone, or neglect representation. But gradually I am trying to forge confidence. I also want to make my reading more diverse, from a wider range of authors of varying backgrounds. Something I've become really aware of recently is how white my bookshelves are. So any recommendations of any literature by bme authors, please send them my way!

summer and second year

Summer is officially done, in case you didn't know.
Everyone has gone back to uni (except me), its dark by 7pm and I've started wearing pyjama bottoms.
It was a good one: warm, busy, long, relaxing, exciting. I read a lot, swam a lot, worked a lot, saw a lot of good friends and went to a lot of lovely places.


Some notable highlights, although so much of it was lovely, include:
finishing my last exam, being trashed by my bffs, drinking prosecco and swimming in the river
days running errands and reading and making spontaneous plans because I could
working 14 hour shifts, because they were horrific but funny and with a very dear friend
the most beautiful pre-birthday walk with my mum and dad, with beaches and wild flowers and crab sandwiches
a snatched birthday lunch in manchester, catching up with vassia
walks and coffee with my oldest friend, trying to soothe her pain (eternally proud of this g)
a warm languid day on the beach, with berries and laughter
some stunning and fulfilling runs
Italian sunrises, sunsets and devouring books in less than a day
reading under olive trees
a last minute trip to Durham
drinking coffee and reading in bed
swimming in the north sea at sunset
eating fish and chips, also at the beach, and also at sunset
picking blackberries
drinking kolsch and exploring churches
riding my bike
eating hummus and drinking g&ts on a portuguese balcony
floating in the sea
coffee with dalal
a blissful slow breakfast in a friend's garden in Oxford, with coffee and reassurance

Its been a long, lucky summer. When I haven't been somewhere near the sea, in the sun or with my friends, I've been on the front step reading, day dreaming at work, spending time with family, or perhaps somewhere near a library. I didn't realise I need so much recuperation, and feel very full of good places and beautiful sights.
Next week, I return to Oxford. Both apprehension and excitement prevail. Apprehension because academia, intensity, all my friends being in relationships (rip), change. I'm quite used to this life where I disappear on holiday, go to work, read and not much else. But I am also excited, I really am. I need to inject some youth into my reading, knitting, cake baking life. I'm looking forward to decorating my room, running in the meadows, going to the pub, debating, swooning, dressing up, reading. I've got a lot of projects too, which will be stimulating/interesting/exciting.

Scholarly girl autumn, hit me. I'm going into 2nd year hoping for positive food attitudes, maintained eco dedication (plastic free shampoo, fruit and veg markets), time to read fiction and a full immersion in all parts of oxford life.
I also really wanted to use my film pics for this post, but boots has stopped developing them >:(
Peace!

musings: Leonard Cohen (Suzanne, Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye, So long, Marianne), The High Low (any episode, the one with Deborah Francis White is rlly gd), Diary of an Oxygen (an uncomfortable but thought provoking read), this exhibition


golden friends

here's some pic of a really fuckin' nice week I had with one of my bffs. They are quite irrelevant to the words, but be assured the 4 days were spent eating, drinking, swimming, chatting, reading, doing impossible crosswords, stupid quizzes (our favourite entertainment), drinking coffee and lying in the sun. Bliss, if you ask me.
Also, the pics are either mine or Libby's. I can't distinguish between the two, other than Libby's are probably better. Check out her blog.

this was t-h-e most beautiful place I have ever swam. Ever.




















But really, I wanted to talk 'bout friendship. Something I am both stressed and blessed by. I worry a lot about friendship, I'd say its a pretty top tier worry. It's not really something people talk about, if you have a lot of friends you're succeeding and showing it, if you don't your failing and also showing it. Its one massive, lonely, ambiguous taboo.
What even constitutes as 'a lot of friends'?? In an episode of HighLow they said, apparently scientifically, you can't have more than 4 or 5 friends. Now, I dispute this. How can something so subjective be empirically proven? You have so many different friends, for different reasons, in different places.
But friendship always feels like something you have to show you have. And something that is always compared, in my head at least.
I have some fucking brilliant friends. I mean ace. I am utterly blessed, but I still worry about it. Do they like me? Do they like spending time with me? Do I have enough? All unbelievably futile questions, worthless. I'd hope if I didn't like someone, didn't enjoy spending time with them, didn't feel enriched by them, I'd be proactive enough to just not. But I still question it, and compare myself to their other friends. It's very self-destructive.

But here are some things I adore about my friends. They need some appreciation.
I love my friends who make my laugh, let me cry and complain, who are the antithesis of my stress, but tell me they love me for it. I adore my friends who debate with me over pasta, advise me and tell me where I've gone wrong. I love my friends who play cards with me, read with me, who are just present in every capacity, and whose presence feels so nice. To whom I can tell any thought, at any time. I adore friends who respond to my declaration of a random 3 hours in their city, and for whom that time is never enough. Friends who spend days in the pub and on the beach, and suggest last minute trips; who buy you cereal bars when you're sad, send you postcards, and allow you to soothe their pain. Who listen to you, give you space to talk and space to think. Friends who do friendship quizzes (i'm telling you, do it!), who celebrate achievements, encourage you to think differently, act differently, and be unapologetically yourself.

Lying in the Portuguese sun, after a stressful and somewhat un-fruitful trip to a supermarket, Libby asked which friend I'd want in my life forever. And it's impossible to say. I feel almost full from all their different offerings and warmth, I don't want to lose any part of it. Any part of me.
Wow this is cringe and uncharacteristically sentimental, but necessary. I am currently navigating that odd liminal space between home and uni, between these friends and those friends. Its strange but a happy reminder of how much I love both.
So, I hope you enjoyed the pictures at least. A lot of love to Libby, in whose presence I always feel most myself and with whom my summer ended in a golden peace.

first year

I am a veteran of first year hysteria. Not an unusual achievement, but one none the less. Condensing a year of happenings into a few summative words is futile, but I learned a lot, grew a lot, met a lot of people. It was scary and overwhelming, but stimulating and fun. Mostly amazing, but some bits awful (see 8th week hilary term), and just a whole lot of very exciting and very intense learning and adventuring and experiencing.
I have a vivid memory of the first day: my mum had left, my room was a mess, and I called my dad thinking "what the fuck do I do now". The panic was crushing and consuming. But gradually it becomes ok, you go and explore, chat to people, go out, and you cope, and ignore the anxiety of 'is this right', and slowly you grow and enjoy and flourish, until it becomes your life.
So that's where I am at now. It is a part of me, and I adore it and the people and the stimulation. I no longer worry whether its right or whether I enjoy it, partly because the doubt is pointless, and mostly because I know the answer. Above all else, remember it takes time. Allow it to happen.



This is, of course, very specific to my experience to oxford, to history, to me. So whilst some of the advice is generic and universal, some of it is very Oxford focussed.

1) academia
  • the workload is high, but relative. You get on with it because you have no choice, and each week, despite a Tuesday night panic, you've handed in 1 or 2 substandard essays nd can go to the pub
  • mediocre is enough. Just hand some words in (especially pertinent if essays are formative, but even where they aren't)
  • it can get too much–I cried a bit, complained a lot, felt angry that my friends could go to the meadows when I had an essay crisis, nd didn't beat around the bush raising issues–everyone feels it, speak out!! 
  • for historians, rarely (if ever) read full books–skim, use the contents, read reviews, choose articles, randomly select passages and hope for the best–reading lists are too long to focus on one dry 600 pg book 
  • also don't read a full reading list (I have max 5 days to read and write an essay–tutors recommended 6-8 items, i was lenient with this)
  • manage ur time–I hate the 8-8-8 rule, instead I prefer dividing my day into 3, working 2/3rds, and having the evening off 
  • find your best structure, for me waking up super early and working was optimum (because i go into a slump around 4pm)
  • revision: in oxford, we have 'collections' (mock exams) at the start of every term, they are a good way to prepare revision materials and condense reading, if you don't have them, perhaps act like u do and review the material anyway!
  • I relied almost solidly on my essays, essay feedback, a few new readings, a lot of wikipedia (yes!) and my collection notes to revise–I didn't look at lecture notes once, nor really notes from reading (waffly and exhaustive)
  • For any Oxford historians, Trinity term is very enjoyable, but also rough. They don't let you stop, but just take it slow, go home, have a bath and breathe

2) living away from home
  • balancing washing and cooking and sleeping and self-care and socialising and working is rlly fuckin hard, but if you just muddle your way through and make sure ur eating ur 5-a-day, you'll be okay
  • send letters and postcards home, because receiving them back is lovely - see if u can persuade someone to send care packages
  • talk to your family, go home, and don't get into the headspace that it shows weakness (I was fixated on this)
  • tomato pasta sauce is the basis of everything 
  • keep in contact with friends away from uni!!!! I neglected this initially, but they're a necessary breath of fresh air, reminder of a bigger world and chance to rant/support/gossip
  • take as many nice home comforts as poss (would recommend nice sheets, cushions, postcards/souvenirs, a lamp and mugs)
  • if, like in Oxford, you don't have kitchens/they're really far away, a fridge is really handy and one of these sponges is essential (!)
  • get people to visit! Its so nice to show people around your new city, and can be more manageable than going home 

3) socialising
  • its exhausting; exciting and stimulating but exhausting 
  • it doesn't have to be all done at once, so slow down and chill out
  • I wasted so much of Hilary worrying about friends. I needed to get out of my head, and breathe
  • be open minded, it won't replicate your groups or friends at home, and thats beautiful, friendship comes in all forms, and all are valid 
  • everyone feels a bit lonely nd quiet sometimes 
  • oxford taught me the value of treating people, there's a culture of buying your friends chocolate or sending them a card or taking then out for cake and its really fuckin good and heart warming 
  • some really good evenings last year involved tea with friends, so take supplies
  • At oxford, embrace college life, its a blessing for making friends and belonging

4) money
  • I can't emphasise this! enough! transfer a set amount each week into your account as a budget
  • £5.50 for a pint is ridiculous but its also ok to do it!
  • unless necessary, don't be obsessive about limiting expenditure, relax nd b sensible ! (because it cultivates neurotic control which! we are trying to fight!)

5) food
  • my relationship with food improved at uni, I was with more relaxed people and in control
  • but this of course has the potential to tip too far, I found retaining structured meal times helped a lot, but also allowing flexibility when I wanted
  • i also looked at other people with the most liberating attitudes to food and saw how happy they were, and that i'd rather be having fun than in control
  • cook for others!!! we cooked communally every night and it was so fun and cheap, and nice when you were stressed
  • veggie eating can be soooo cheap (my faves include shakshuka, fajitas, chilli, thai green curry, tomato/pesto/roasted veg pasta–good books include the Leon vegan book and '15 minute vegan comfort food', also @we_are_food)
  • communal kitchens are grim, if you have them; keep ur sponge in your cupboard (ours were gross, as we had 3 kitchens collectively, but they were also so fun and communal in every sense, and the arguments were hilarious)

6) anything else
  • say yes to everything, with everyone, even if its awkward, even if you feel like your imposing 
  • but also (and I can't emphasise this enough) take time for yourself, alone, in bed or on a walk, or in a cafe, otherwise you'll burn out (wise words from a tutor)
  • pre-paid washing machines r the shittest things ever 
  • you will be amazed by how long you can go without washing your bedding 
  • oxford is like no where else, and your experience like no-one else's, comparison is futile
Second year is looming, with the prospects of our inaugural feminist society, rowing, netball, and a million other things. I'm apprehensive of the unknown, and also the known, but am reminding myself of memories of last year. I will probs talk about my feelings for 2nd year in depth, alongside any other snatches of wisdom that emerge.
Any questions or tips leave below xo

escapism


Whilst this constitutional, undemocratic crisis is inducing waves of nausea and a lot of 'what the fuck', I transport my tired mind back to a Kölner balcony, on a late summer evening, with an ethereal golden light breaking through the broken clouds of a brewing storm. Sat on wooden chairs, drinking €2 sekt left in our apartment, drunk from the bubbles and happiness and the easy-going spirit of this city on the banks of the Rhein. Bliss. Peace. Contentment.
This was only yesterday. But after 2 trains, a plane and 2 coaches, it feels stolen from another life.
Cologne was a city of no expectation. Booked because flights were cheap, because time had run out to consider other options. Why are you going to Cologne? was the response of disdain.
But I would have spent 3 days no where else, with no one else.
It was replete with kölsch and cider and picnics on grass and beautiful churches and a very good friend. Art and pastries, sushi, laughter, content silence, German music, feminist literature, all drenched in August sun.
So different from other holidays, so different from other cities, it was relaxed and spontaneous, a welcome change from militant schedules nd rushed excursions.
I was, for once, happy wandering, letting the days drip away a little drunk, drifting between park and church, thrift shop and cafe, bar to bar.












Cologne itself is effortlessly cool. Its so German, a little rough looking, modern, edgy, aesthetic. Its bursting with cafes, bars, shops, restaurants, all of which you could spend hours perusing and consuming, especially in the Belgian quarter. Its quiet but bustling with locals, and is so friendly and welcoming of 2 girls who could say little more than guten tag. I think we even pulled off being German (maybe). Man, I already dream of wandering those streets again, searching out kaffee und kuchen, or our next bar, in the most effortless peace.

Highlights include:
Sitting in the apartment, and on the balcony, drinking, talking about boys (lol cliche), and Oxford, and our relationships with a mums, and whether we'd be happy to die now.
The Cathedral
St Martin the Great church
Reading feminist books by the Rhine, drinking cider and soaking up the sun
Breakfast on the first morning
Eating sushi
The first evening in Hiroshima-Nagasaki park
The sun 

I'd like to live in Germany, I think. Anywhere other than fucking Britain. Fuck. Me. I hope you're all holding out in this madness. Its unconstitutional. Undemocratic. But not unprecedented. Of course it was going to happen.
Transport yourselves to somewhere sunny, on a balcony reading, with no where to be, nothing to do, but be there. Present. Content.

a lot of feelings


Here are some musings that have been sitting in my insta saved for the past few weeks. I'm loving the rich warmth; it oozes late summer, something the weather isn't giving me much of lately.

Its been an anxious few weeks, riddled with a begrudging, relentless nervousness. Partly, the result of inherent existentialism, partly knowing I need to wind back up for another term, tackle my reading list, fearing I've already left it too late.
But I have found myself waking up in the middle of the night in a delirious and untameable fear. And, it sounds lame and perhaps virtuous, but I think much of this stemmed from a sort of sense of global disarray. I saw this post by Finn Harries, talking about 'eco-anxiety' and I resonated deeply with the helplessness and confusion. Recently, everything about the world has been making my stomach drop, inducing the claustrophobic nausea that colludes with my anxiety, and has made me panic. I've had to walk away from several dinner table conversations because I simply can't face the fear it ignites.
For me, 'eco-anxiety' is just one part of a much tighter ball of dread. Brexit, vote of no confidence, general election, Trump, Boris Johnson and his cabinet, anti-abortion laws, the protests in Hong Kong, the Epstein case and questionability of the judicial system, and everything else. 
Even writing this is making me sweat.
Maybe its my naturally restless disposition. I'm not kidding myself, I know there's little I can do, but it appears this feeds much of the monster. A sense that its crumbling, and there's nothing you can do. But also nowhere to hide.
It makes me most nervous because I don't understand it. Have so many questions, so much of it doesn't make sense, and I can't find simple answers. I feel helpless, query everything. The judicial system, the power of wealth to pay away allegations, the strength of democracy, the accepted 'goodness' of law enforcement.
I suppose I'm interested in how people are facing this? How are they managing to actually do something to change it, without hiding in the graceful pages of an oh comely magazine, or the indulgent mindlessness of trash tv and pretending the world doesn't exist. Perhaps avoid the news? But then I feel out of touch, in denial. I've been running a lot, which does quieten my head, as do my morning walks. Talking about the chaos helps, sometimes perpetuates.

Is a denial of tragedy and disarray worth a quiet mind, or do we all have a duty to participate in an awareness? How do you help the helplessness? Does everyone feel as lost and anxious as me?

Woah and breathe. That was a lot–I've been feeling a lot, and not really knowing what to do with those feelings. I've also been running a lot, spending a lot of hours at work drinking hot chocolate and gossiping, been day tripping despite having neither the time nor the money, and greatly anticipating my trip to Cologne next weekend.
Please answer my thoughts!

*
pics r from (left 2 right bitches): // @anne.art // @momsgardenart // @evazurig // @mansfieldoxford (ok shameless plug of my college but LOOK!) // @sophievstheuniverse // @m_d_n_f // @ambivalentlyyours // @walter_7.3 (literally no idea who this is but i like the pic ok) // @depressingfridgepoems // @rossie_edenbrow // @charlotte.ager // @wearehundredclub // @we_are_food // @scottdunn_travel // @we_are_food // @ladyylivv

life

The rudimentary life lesson I am yet to master is slowing down. Too often I have almost burned out, from cramming in too much, and I have to tell myself to stop. Have to take any time off I can to breathe and catch up.
Such a mistake left me crying in my bathroom today, eyeliner streaming down my face, 10 minutes before I needed to run to work. I have already booked in a solo self-care day, dedicated to slowing down and recharging.
I say this as though I haven't been doing the sickest stuff, haven't been exploring new places, drifting on trains, indulging in art, sun, pizza. With good friends, good books, good music.
But it has been a lot, I think perhaps too much. I found I was so full on culture and sights and excitement I couldn't fully appreciate it all, felt almost numb, transient, exhausted.
A fiscally necessary return to work will no doubt ensure such a reversal, and I will be pining for something interesting in no time.



what i've done:
drank vodka lime sodas in my favourite bars after work, saw Vassia last minute, hated being a woman, sunbathed, failed at sudokus, drank wine, ate more tomatoes than my body could manage (ditto watermelon, bread and sorbet), caught 8 trains in 2 days, got stuck in the Venetian rain, fell asleep on my friends lap, drank €3 prosecco on the banks of the Grand Canal, ate a very expensive pizza (and complained about it profusely!), felt my absolute happiest in the Tuscan sun, got eaten by mosquitoes and played cards by candlelight.
Also spent 2 hours at home, travelled to Oxford, drank, swam, ate in copious amounts, laughed and cried on my train home.
Amazing, overwhelming, expensive, exciting, adventurous, indulgent, delicious, exhausting.


what i've read:
I finished Circe, of which the last 2 pages were beautiful (the rest perhaps didn't live up to expectation, but still v good), read How to Build A Girl (which was quick,  easy, risqué and exciting; perhaps a little too profane, but good fun) and Normal People (devoured in a day) (loved: soft, gentle and delicate compared to Caitlin Moran, compelling, challenging, consuming)
Also got my first Oh Comely in ages, and remembered how much I loved it, and began reading Eat Pray Love. Evidently I'm loving my femme-coming-of-age/self-discovery novels this summer.


what i've listened to:
some excellent stuff.
Max by Rebelliously Tiny; an informative and sensitive podcast on disordered eating. I thought it was fab; delicately negotiated but massively informative about their experiences, the realities of body shapes and weight, the perception and presentation of food (especially on social media) and the need to surround yourself with people who have good relationships. For me, it came at the time it was most needed, and contributed to a lot of thoughts I've been having about how we discuss and portray food and body size. Whether you have a good or bad relationship with food or ur body, would 10/10 recommend this, or any of her podcasts.

Also rlly enjoyed The High Low  which, despite covering current affairs and (mostly depressing) topical issues, remains super light and entertaining. They talk about such a variety of events and ideas, and is such a nice change from my usual radio 5 lol.

I also loved Hannah Witton's 'Dating Advice and Social Media Ettiquette' (from Doing It!), mostly because it told me I haven't found the 'right person' becuz I'm not ready which tbh just served to validate my adamant independence for a little while longer.

Also devoured Libby's spotify playlists (especially 'new shit good shit'), to dilute the choral music I still can't stop listening to lmao.

what i've seen:
stunning Byzantine churches, beautiful sunsets, an amazing exhibition on black women in art, a lot of sea, blurred landscapes, tourists looking at 'famous' art I couldn't see, clouds, narrow streets, orange buildings.

I could write more, but this is already enough.
Man am I yearning for some time alone. But also am I bursting with gratitude, and a confusing anxiety. Also, the above sounds idyllic and euphoric. It was, but it was also tainted with arguments and sleeplessness and a lot of anxiety, just like all aspects of normality.
Life is weird, and good, and a ceaseless mix of the two!

the summer list #2

Last year, this post was written on 17th June, when my days were spent working and partying, without responsibility or commitment. 17th June 2019 was spent surrounded by paper and files, at my seat in the silent library, gazing onto the quad, and dreaming of the end.
Things change, but there's still a lot I wanna achieve this summer. Especially after receiving a reading list longer than my arm, and an onslaught of essay titles that I will undoubtedly avoid until September. 
The first 2 weeks of this eternal 3 month break were consumed with 14 hour shifts, days of sleeping and recovering,  blissful moments under the Spanish sun. But now the real flow has begun, and I don't want to waste this delicious freedom.


(some magical moments ive already had this summer !!)
So here goes:
1) an art project (I don't know what this should be !! Maybe knitting? Sewing? Collaging? send ideas!)
2) draft ideas for our to-be feminist society (again, send thoughts!!!)
3) journal, try daily, because a challenge is good 
4) run 15 km 
5) read the books on my summer to-read
6) make ice-cream 
7) write poetry/fiction/essays (non-academic obvs)
8) begin drafting ideas for after 
9) more days napping on the beach in the sun with old friends 
10) play tennis 
11) swim once a week 
12) art galleries (both in places I'm travelling, but also local)
13) read in (new) cafes 
14) find new bars 
15) go to York/Edinburgh/Durham for the day 
16) wild swim somewhere 
17) go down to Oxford, to tick off all the things I couldn't do in term time 
18) have a bbq in the garden 
19) make bread 
20) drink wine in the garden 
21) make a lil film 
22) sign up for another race 
23) go on a day trip to the countryside 
24) lie in the sun 
25) fill up a disposable camera

I'll add more ideas to this as they evolve. 
Much of my summer is taken up travelling and working, the former blissful and idyllic, the latter necessary, if a little dull. I want to spend time with friends, and time alone, enjoy the peace, and, most importantly, breathe. 

Hope ur all feeling free and summery!!!

twenty


but now, right now, i know this is the happiest i have ever been. 
This was scrawled in indecipherable handwriting in my diary on Monday 8th July. It was an overwhelming sense of contentment. Balance, flow, peace.
I even wrote: i am so indestructibly content, my yin and yang are in balance, life is flowing, I am at peace.
Maybe its turning 20 (fuck MAN), maybe its the resumption of normality, maybe its coming home, but this buzz of fulfilment has diluted into an uncomfortable blur of confusion.
I feel lost, my identity in crisis, self confused. Who am I.
Through the wisdom of 5 days, I'm laughing at 19 year-old me, i think i gradually know what i want, what makes me happy, what keeps me sane, and perhaps slowly, who i am. 
Wrong! On this slow Sunday, busy with a need to be busy, this feels fabricated, false, feigned.
I feel quite lost.
Home is small and stuck in the past, a mix of comfort and familiarity, and claustrophobic nothingness. Busy but also empty, mundane work which is both blissfully easy and exhaustingly monotonous, friends who feel safe and bring total ease, but also who force the past, conversations consumed with stories of years gone. Where I feel different, lost.
Fuck man, its confusing.
I like home because its safe and its comfortable, but I also feel different and outgrown. It feels as though the people here exist in a world of similarity, relatable experience, and my sphere is so distorted, expanded, different.  It's scary, but also exciting and kind of lonely. Where do I belong?
Nothing feels quite right, as though I am forcing the entertainment, doing it because I knew it used to be fun. Maybe its because I haven't actually relaxed yet. I've worked, travelled, slept, but haven't had days of nothingness.
Or maybe its maturity, age. Maybe 20 prefers pubs, bars and slow conversations to drunken 4ams. Maybe it sees a shift in people and activities, a fundamental 'out-growing' of the world I used to occupy. This makes me sort of sad, and at this moment, feel a bit lost. Where is home? Who are the people with whom I belong? Does it matter that my life is so different to these people?
So, I'm 20.
I knew I'd struggle with the realisation, knew it'd feel uncomfortably old, that it'd mark a shift in worlds. That I can no longer be in an unnecessarily bad mood with my mum, that the £100 battels I forgot to pay are both my issue and my financial commitment, that I have to work to exist beyond basic function, and that some people don't, and that that is shit. That I have to wash my own clothes, fill my own time, make my own decisions.
Its a blissful independence, where I can drink wine at lunchtime, sleep in the afternoon, travel, work, grow. It is also the rudimentary reality of growing up, the shift and the change lonely and confusing!
So who am I? What do I want to do? Why do I (eventually) have to be thrown into the real world?

In other news:
I'm back from a few days in Barcelona, which is perhaps where this existentialism began. I've got a week at home, of working and seeing friends, and then am going to Italy, for 10 days of swimming and travelling, and art. I've read crazy rich asians (pt 2!) which was deliciously trashy, and 'the new me', which got inside my head and made me feel uncomfortable, and question the purpose of life. It also made me fear the mundane, again perhaps the trigger for these emotions. Tonight I am going for a sauna, hoping to sweat out this existentialism and resume my peace. I hope it works. AHH!

summer books

I started writing this post in 6th week, sat in Waterstones, after hitting 'submit' on my final essay of term. The legacy of the Haitian Revolution. Interesting shit.
I grabbed 2 books on my way out, in an euphoric (and caffeine induced) flurry thinking i totally deserve this. 
4 weeks later, I apparently deserved a lot more reading material, and have since had to rearrange my shelves just to accommodate it all.
But I've got a long summer, an increased reading speed, and a substantial amount of travelling, so perhaps entertainment was required.
I'm well excited to sit down and read them, in snatched breaks between work and sleep (both of which have been occurring in borderline-ridiculous amounts), on trains and planes, and lying in the garden in the sun.



Here's what I want to read:
(conveniently not actually rlly the books pictured)

Circe, Madeleine Miller (see this post for an excerpt, which will make u want to cry)
Normal People, Sally Rooney (loved Conversations with Friends, apparently this is better)
Crazy Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan (balance bitches!)
The Prophet, Kahil Gibran
How to build a girl, Caitlin Moran
The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods, Emily Barr
The Parisian Affair, Guy de Maupassant
The Waves, Virginia Woolf
A Spark of Light, Jodi Picoult

A nice mix of classics, trash, nd best sellers. Just what I like. I am pining for a day on the beach, under the caressing sun, drifting between reading and napping, feeling the sweetness of summer. I fully feel I've earned some relaxation, and thats an ace feeling.
Let me know what's on your reading list.

ethereal happiness

The blankness of this page intimidates me. How do I break a silence not previously endured, in a busy-ness not previously experienced.



How do I explain a happiness or a pining or an exhaustion, when even my brain cannot comprehend the emotions.
I am back.
I am lying on my bed, with the golden June light dappling against my walls. I'm so glad I've caught early summer evenings here, they are my favourite.
I've got a mountain of shit downstairs I need to sort, clothes to wash, things to put a way, a life to resume. But today I've napped endlessly, and next week I'm working (no rest 4 the wicked), so one day...
I came back home last night, sunburnt, exhausted, but filled with a bittersweet happiness. Happiness at finishing my exams, at knowing I will be returning to the most ethereal world in the autumn, at knowing I have months of reading and travelling and being, but sadness at leaving Oxford, my dearest friends, the most beautiful city.
I suppose I can't really comprehend it whist in the midst of its magic, other than knowing I belong and that these years will immeasurably be the best of my life. That it is a place like no other. Incomprehensible, unless lost in its madness. It ceaselessly demands everything, feels relentless, but stimulating, exciting, rewarding, motivating. I suppose all experiences are intangible and subjective, but the beauty and the madness of this world is unfathomable unless you are immersed in it. It does not make sense unless you live in it; in the tradition and the intensity, in the pretension, and the debunked stereotypes, in the intelligence. It is the most blessed privilege.

And, after 9 weeks of essays and revision and not much sleep and a few tears and lots of partying and love island, walking out of my last exam to my friends, who'd travelled just to celebrate (thank u exams after term has ended) to be trashed, swim in the river, drink and eat in the sun, man was it magical. I don't even want the shaving-foam scent to disappear from my hear, because I know that is the end.
And now I have 3 months, and a lot to achieve.
I want to read (reading list coming up), sleep, run, write, work, travel, lie in the sun, listen to normal music and just be.
I can't wait to write on here, resume my different worlds, and forget about academia for a bit.
Enjoy some pictures of the most magical place in the world.
Hope ur all well, v happy to be back nd writing nd thinking.

life

Circe, he says, it will be all right. 
It is not the saying of an oracle or a prophet. They are words you might speak to a child. I have heard him say them to our daughters, when he rocked them back to sleep from a nightmare, when he dressed their small cuts, soothed whatever stung. His skin is familiar as my own beneath my fingers. I listen to his breath, warm upon the night air, and somehow I am comforted. He does not mean that it does not hurt. He does not mean that we are not frightened.
Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive.




The past few weeks I have: done so much I could cry, actually cried, played netball, been to the botanic gardens, eaten cake, ran a race, got lost alone in buttercup fields, read and worked for innumerable hours, written innumerable essays, laid in the sun, cried into banana bread, cried into my friends arms as she read me the above passage from 'Circe' (which understandably made me want to cry more), read some short ghost stories, eaten a picnic in golden hour, rode my bike, been to a talk about vaginas, paid an extortionate amount to go home, drank cocktails, walked on the beach, felt immeasurably sad, and felt immeasurably happy.

Things really aren't sad, they're just a lot. Beautiful, but a lot.
My brain is drained, but stimulated beyond any conception. I know, come July, I will drift into a mindless sleep for days to allow my mind to catch up.
I am in a liminal space of craving fun, going out, dancing until the sun rises, swimming in the meadows, pursuing the love I am pining, laughing at mess and mistakes, and recognising the academic demand, the books that call me, the revision that needs to happen, but yet doesn't have time to be conceived. Realising that its 4 weeks. That this is the final push.
It is all sensationally beautiful. Golden fields and soothing sun and evenings talking about our pain or love, or privilege. Nights debating and coffees and runs in the park and the realisation that this is like nowhere else, this life like nothing else.
I don't want to leave, but also crave time to doze in the sun and read for pleasure and write and think and just breathe.

Fuck man! I need to sleep, but I needed to grace my presence, exams are imminent (but 3 deadlines first lol!), and then a summer of pining for the return, and adventures and processing this madness.
Update me, I'm a complete mess atm and can exist no where except in the present but try and ground me in some reality.

friends


I took today off, an announcement that elicited all forms of "what the fuck, you?" to "i'm proud of u", which perhaps embodies my approach to Oxford and to life.
But it's been bliss and I think, really, I just wished to document the beauty of friendship.
Friends that message you, bring you care packages of flowers, and dark chocolate, and tea, that take you out for cake, buy you cocktails, stroke your hair, hold you when you cry into your lunch because a petty misunderstanding triggered the descent.
I am blessed.
Last week, I walked into the kitchen sweating and announced that I had had a quasi-religious experience with nature. I had been on a run that had taken me along country lanes, through parks, through the city centre, along a canal. I'd seen ducklings, deer, sunsets.
And I just thought, the whole way round:
I am the luckiest person alive.
And there are moments when it feels ceaseless and relentless, and futile. When you realise its pointless, that 8 hours in the library isn't going to change the world.
That I'm paying £70,000 to read.
But there are moments, so many moments, when I am consumed by an inexplicable awe.
And really, I just feel so fucking lucky to have friends to catch you when you're falling, reach out when you're disappearing, who lessen the burden.
Who make you laugh, cry with you, hug you, give you reason and purpose, tell you it'll be okay, and that they're right there.
Next time I'm disappearing in my work, plugging the holes with work to make the internal voices a bit quieter, when I feel like I can't do it, feel so unbelievably stupid and academically inferior, I'll take myself to the meadows at sunset to be marvelled by nature, or think of candlelit cocktails, or tea with friends.

(i really feel like i can't fukin right at the moment, i have so many draft posts and nothing i write is!! right!! so this is really just something to ease me in!! peace!!)

spring

The soft golden light and the meadows of wild darts of colour and the sandstone that blends into the hues of the spring evening sky. Canals and rivers, and walks doused in the thick smell of warmth, and laughter and panes of rectangular sunset reflected on the walls. Old libraries flexing in the light, cloudy mornings of promise.
Oxford, in spring, is idyllic.


Its a monday night, the first of term. I am very tired, and quite overwhelmed, but also happy. I've had a magical weekend of pubs and pimms and singing and running and friends and warmth and reading, much needed after the brutal shock of 6 hours of exams.
But perhaps that explains the cold drag of today.
My brain is so tired I can't think of words. I've spent an obscenity of today reading and thinking and writing and, frankly, it has been too much.
But I also played football in the sun, and called my mum to rant about the laughable workload I have, which pains/stresses/scares/annoys me so much I've bored myself with thinking about it.
My friends cooked me tea, and went to Tesco for me and I practiced self-care by not cramming in any more.
Fun things are coming, and summer's on its way, even if I am yet to solidify plans. But that's okay. My existential angst has been quiet these past few days, for which I am grateful for, and attempting to maintain.


And some things I've loved, or am loving.
Jane the Virgin, because its just ridiculous, but what I need.
Samuel Barber: An American Romantic (I'm not even gonna apologise for liking choral music. I've been mocked enough. But u know, this is really actually v good and I like it for working)
Sally Rooney Conversations with Friends, became almost painfully mental, I felt inside her torment, but so skilful and heartbreaking and easy to read
Dolly Alderton Everything I know about love, because its quick and its abrasive but wise and funny and very fuckin' apt and true and ridiculous
Jodi Picoult A Spark of Light because it made me think about abortion and women's rights and how ironic pro-life arguments can be but also so skilful in presenting unbiased, uninfluenced ideas, she's really good at this kind of book
Coconut yoghurt
Summer
Cream jeans
Evening walks


Stay sane peeps. We've got this (even when they throw 12 essays at u in 6 weeks then exams lol!)

What a liberation to realise that the 'voice in my head' is not who I am. 
'Who am I, then?'
The one who sees that. 



exam care

Checking in! Because who knows the next time I will!
My days are just disappearing and I don't know where they're going, I sit down to read, procrastinate and eat and then suddenly is 7pm and I've achieved zilch. 
I have done some fun things tho.
Caught up with my friends over spilled vodka lime sodas, a week in the place of my childhood dreams, joined a running club and ran a lot, anxious trains but a day of drinking and laughing with friends, and seeing Dalal and Libby.Also consumed some gud things (will expand) and made some sick cakes (will also expand).



Exam season is coming up, which I am a bit scared about but also not really thinking about. I feel remarkably chilled about work atm, which is in itself slightly stress-inducing. I have a fuck tonne to do but am of the mentality that doing it isn't going to reduce the amount I have.
Strange logic.
I've taken today off from workin', mostly because I'm nursing a bad hangover, traipsed to the foodbank to volunteer at 9am (without my car sad timez) and have really just had a fuckin' good day and don't want to spoil it!
I also know I will be back on the diligence tomorrow, because my brain just can't help itself.
This exam season is gonna b different. I'm a mess in exam/revision times lmao, in the 6 months up to A-levels I just cried as a coping mechanism and didn't really exist.
But you already know that.
This one is different for several reasons. 1) I'm away from home (which does induce some anxiety as my mum is my rock (in case u couldn't tell)), 2) I've got 6 double-essay weeks preceding exams, 3) they don't count, but sorta do, 4) I don't care that much, but sorta do (a lot), 5) I have to wear a twatty outfit (see here) and a specific flower lmao.
Anyway. You all seem to be working hard, I am too, and before the bliss of summer (see last post), we have to beat these exams.
SO. Here's how we're gonna get through.



1) Snacks (but with some health substance bcuz I'm gonna be sedentary nd need my brain to work) recommended: dried mango, dark chocolate, these cacao golden berries (but only when my mum posts them to be because ££££), choco leibniz, a lot of squash
2) coffee (black, with soya milk, with hot chocolate mixed in, anything)
3) sleep
4) trash reads (Harry Potter is gr8 for this)
5) fun things (I'm factoring in pubs, clubs, events, talks, netball)–I've got so many good things next term that exams physically can't consume
6) exercise (yes mum! We know!), walk around the block, or do some yoga–especially exercise in the morning to set up well for revision!
7) rant to other people, but avoid them when they make u stressed
8) take time off (my tutor drilled this into me when I turned up to a solo tutorial with a sub-standard essay and a very apologetic speech that I had "burned out" and spent "the past 3 days crying because I'm so tired" (the latter was implicit))–I'm gonna go home, go to my grandparents, take at least one evening off and stay in
9) surround urself with other people–it's great having people who are going through it, but its also great escaping it and living a normal life
10) cafes and cake
11) a nice working space
12) remember a life outside, do other things, don't let it become ur world (because when it disappears its very fucking difficult, see blogposts circa june 2017 for evidence)
13) do nice things for friends
14) timetable, for marginal stress reduction
15) pics of summer and sun
16) avoiding burn out, because we want to peak 9th week not 5th week
17) parks, for revision, for picnics, for headspace
18) letting some things go (for me its gonna be negative food thoughts, becuz they're just a hindrance)
19) treats–I'm thinking tulips, coconut yogurt, berries, new pants, a yoga class, a Frankie magazine–u know!
20) things to look forward to–the first thing I do when I get back to ox is book a fuckin holiday and that will be my drive !
21) drinking wine

So bitches, hopefully we will avoid burnout and achieve enough. Because being enough is enough. And exams aren't a measure of anything really, and education is only one aspect of life, and its just a step onto the next bit.
And let's hold each other accountable. Make sure we are surviving.
Peace!! and take tonight off!!