Thursday, August 27, 2020
A big 'ole Summer Update

A big 'ole Summer Update

I haven't written a thing here since May but writing is still very cathartic for me so I always drift back to it. Imo, blogs are really fading out now (correct me if I'm wrong). The world of bloggers has now become the world of influencers and all that's needed is an Instagram account, good captions and eye-catching photos - not the kind of time that goes into a blog, which is about double the amount of work an Instagram account requires. I don't even like or want to refer to this as a blog, or myself as a blogger, I just write stuff on the internet... anyway, I've been busy hence the hiatus and I've been thinking a lot about changing what I do online for the new year - more on that another time. We're closer to 2021 than we are to the start of 2020, which is probably a relief for most. However, I'm all too aware that just because it's a new year doesn't mean everything will miraculously be better or that covid will disappear - the new changes are going to be around for a while and will carry on with us into next year. 

I've moved, done an internship following my placement at a radio station and am awaiting a new start for the new year. I've seen family and friends, celebrated my nephews 2nd birthday and I've recently been on holiday as well.

Life in a nutshell...

Politics: The BLM movement has quite rightly reared its head in a time where it felt the world was at full capacity of breaking news and life-altering changes. I'm of course sickened and saddened with what's going on and it's definitely been revolutionary for me, at least mentally. I'm not racist, I've just realized that I've not been anti-racist enough in my life. I'll admit I have not spoken up when black people weren't present enough, I've overlooked comments or jokes, I've not realised these 'micro-aggressions' contribute to the bigger picture of racism. I've not acknowledged that my life has been privileged by my skin. So it has been a big wake up call for me and I'm motivated to help in any way I can. It's been a realisation that I always have a spare few minutes to sign an important petition, I always have some money to spare and donate to a helpful cause and I always have the time to speak up, share, retweet and tell people to be anti-racist too. 

Sustainability: I've been thinking about climate change too (oh how fun it is to be in my head!) and how I can help, how I can consume better, do better. A friend recommended an app to me called 'Yuka' which has been really useful and insightful - where you can scan and research products and see which rate best based on their ingredients. It's helping me consume better, more organic/bio based products. Next, if you're interested in a future career in climate change, there's a useful website where you can sign up for job updates here. I've recently signed up to this important campaign on Fridays For Future here and lastly, a useful bit of information I found on Instagram is to snip the straps when binning your disposable covid masks, to protect our wildlife. It REALLY frustrates me that people (myself included, not a saint) forget that I, and humans in general, aren't the only ones living here and I think we need to be constantly reminded, we are not the only ones here! I'm not talking about aliens, I mean who knows, but the plants, the animals. We really need to cooperate better and think of others and how our small actions (such as disposing of a mask) will ultimately affect the environment and ourselves.

TV/Film: This year has been a really good year for TV, for me anyway. I have sort of temporarily neglected the film studies nerd side of me and gone all-out Mike TV this year because there is just some cracking content and I've had all the more time to consume it all. I've finished Hollywood, Unorthodox, That 70's Show, Sex Education, Girl Boss, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, Dead to Me, Selling Sunset - all on Netflix and EXCELLENT. 

I succumbed to the hype and binged through Normal People on BBC Iplayer. What really, out of them ALL, knocked it out the park for me, was I May Destroy You by Michaela Coel, and I can assure you I have consumed all the content that goes with it - interviews, youtube videos, podcasts, reviews. It's not an easy watch but wow, is it good, is it intelligent, emotional, it's pure art at its finest and all at the same time, raising awareness of an important, sensitive topic. It spurred me onto watch Chewing Gum, by the same creator of the latter which I devoured in a day or so - it's laugh out loud funny and I highly recommend. I'm in the midst of re-watching Gossip Girl (I never made it past season 4 for some reason), where in costume design and drama, it can do no wrong!!! I'm obsessed.

As I said previously, film has really taken a back seat for me, and I've been a bit lazy. I still haven't been back to the cinema, as everyone I've mentioned it to, is not such a die hard cinema fan that they are willing to sit in a mask in a dark room for hours. However, to name a few films I've loved recently : The Talented Mr. Ripley (I'm obsessed with the costume/aesthetic of it), Vertigo, She's Gotta Have It, 13th, At Eternity's Gate and the 'Before' trilogy by Richard Linklater. Ok maybe I've seen more films than I thought...but my goal is to see MORE!

Mindfulness/spirituality: I've been doing so much work on myself over the past two years and sometimes I feel like I make a step forward then 10 back. But the important thing is to get back on the saddle and keep going ahead! A new habit I've quite recently picked up is 'morning pages' which I discovered via Youtuber Jenn Im. You basically write a stream of consciousness for three pages first thing in the morning (or later). I kept up a good streak for about 30 days then went on a holiday and didn't do it but I'm back at it and I'm finding it therapeutic to just purge out all my thoughts before I start the day. It really makes me feel like I'm starting on a clean slate. For more info and a better explanation of MP, look here.

I'm still meditating, not daily but at least weekly. I continue to use 'Yoga with Adriene's' meditation playlist, and have downloaded the 'Calm' app to my phone, but unfortunately you can't do very much with this app for free, so I'm on the lookout for something efficient and without a price tag. I really want to get a Transcendental Meditation teacher but I currently can't justify the cost so I just watch tons of videos with David Lynch talking about it and try to learn as much as I can on my own. 

I've taken up free style dancing, or sort of 'dancersising' lol. A recent TED talk I watched ft. the late Sir Ken Robinson inspired me, albeit long after I've decided to take up dancing, I recommend you watch it in full here. However, he reinforced what I've been thinking, and that so much of your life you use your head, when you study, work etc - you're so often up in your head, and that it's so important to move and use every other part of your body. I never regret it afterwards and it makes me feel good and energized.

Cooking and baking have been such a positive outlet for me lately and I've finally found enjoyment in it. It gives me energy and peace of mind and I love creating something for others, or sometimes just myself, to enjoy. I've gone quiche crazy and even tried my first ever garden focaccia. 

Travel: As I mentioned I've recently got back from holiday which was very last minute and spontaneous and I'm so glad I went. This year we've all felt a bit 'trapped' so getting away somewhere new can do the world of good. I went down south to the national park of Cevennes in France, where my friend grew up and I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. The views were incredible, the water clear and blue, towering green mountains, waterfalls - like something straight out of a Bob Ross painting (I recommend his show too, an anxiety cure). I did a fair bit of walking, a lot of eating, jumping in icy cold rock pools, climbed rocks and sat under a waterfall - truly magical! Me and my friend both agreed we felt like we had gone back to our natural state and remembered how simple yet important it is to eat delicious, natural food with good company. It's such a traditional, almost religious experience in culture, to have a sit down meal, and something that keeps you rooted and grateful in this crazy world.

Books: This year's been quite good on the reading front - but there's been a lot more reading of online articles than books for me. I've read roughly 12/15 in my book challenge on my Goodreads app. Honestly, I've not felt hugely motivated to read this year and have found it really hard to concentrate on a book and want to find a book that I don't want to end. Lately the books I've been reading, by about the last few chapters, I'm eager to finish it. If you're struggling with the same, I set a timer on my phone to force myself to read for a good hour or so.

And the rest: What else? It's been a good year for music but I miss live music so much. I don't think I've ever gone this long without going to a gig, in a long time. Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia album really lifted my mood during lockdown and got me dancing round my apartment - a great disco soundtrack for partying. I also really love Disco Volador by The Orielles to continue on with the disco theme. I've been revisiting lots of Madonna's albums and Kylie Minogue's too. I've unexpectedly been enjoying the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Harry Styles but also lots of indie music such as Altin Gun, Tame Impala and Khruangbin. Social life wise, I'm a lot happier with that. I've made new friends and I'm enjoying valuable family time and I feel I have all the right people in my life and I'm excited for what the future holds.

And that's the update... I have so many other recommendations, like Instagram accounts I like, Youtube videos I've enjoyed over lockdown, thoughts, ideas etc etc... and I will save them for another time.

See you in the next one.

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Recently On...Netflix

Recently On...Netflix

More than ever we're watching shows and movies online, being stuck at home day in, day out - like Groundhog Day. Here are some interesting documentaries, films and tv shows I've watched on Netflix lately. Maybe you'll find something you like too.

All The Bright Places

This romantic teen-drama is based on the bestselling novel of the same name - about Violet and Theodore, who meet a bit how Rose and Jack meet in Titanic - Violet, potentially about to jump from a bridge, following the grief and loss of her sister, but saved by Theodore before it's too late. Both are struggling with deep emotional scars of their past, but find a sense of healing as they both fall in love with one another. It's an intense story to watch but beautifully done, giving a fresh, true-to-life perspective on the experience of mental illness, grief, and how this impacts relationships. For fans of The Fault In Our Stars or To All The Boys I Loved Before - you may enjoy this!

Miss Americana

I always love getting a behind-the-scenes experience into the life of an artist or a prolific celebrity. I'm not a massive Swift fan but I actually enjoyed this. The documentary delves into the many facets of Taylor Swift's career - from the big decisions and board meetings with her managers and publicists to her more vulnerable side and struggle with her body image. We see the ups and downs of her career in the late 2010s from that Kanye scandal to her dazzling tour costumes and her early rise to stardom as a determined and eager-to-please teenager. I found it to be a very honest look into one of the biggest female pop stars of today and the kind of challenges she faces on a day-to-day basis. If you enjoyed 5 Foot 2 about Lady Gaga, then you may like this too.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

I stumbled across this and the name Joan Didion rung a bell, but I didn't know exactly much about her. This documentary was a revelation to me and exposed me to this hugely talented woman. Throughout, we delve into an archive of her essays, novels, and screenplays - where Didion provides us with observations on her personal experiences and state of mind. Directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne, The Center Will Not Hold explores a treasure trove of footage and spends time talking with Joan about her eventful life - from writing for Vogue to her life in California, the writing of her books and marriage to the writer, John Gregory Dunne. If you want to be inspired, this documentary does a great job of honoring Didion's impactful career in the world of literature and culture.

Living With Yourself

Paul Rudd plays Miles, fed up with his life, and on the brink of burn-out in work and his love life. Miles heads to a 'spa' where he is promised a new, improved version of himself. The procedure doesn't quite go to plan, and Miles ends up having to live with his clone whilst trying to maintain normality at work with his colleagues and at home with his wife. There are only about 8 episodes at about 30 minutes max so this is what you would call a 'binge' worthy series if you're that way inclined. I really enjoyed this series and found it both funny and entertaining. It was an interesting look at how we view the self, and the desire for self-improvement - a dark, satirical but weird and bizarre comedy - if you like Black Mirror, this will be right up your street.

Camino A Roma

Whilst on lockdown, I've been trying to learn as much about filmmaking as I can. If you've seen Roma by Alfonso Cuaron, then you may just be interested to see what goes into the production of the movie in this insightful documentary. I genuinely sometimes find behind-the-scenes features more interesting than the films themselves - I just love seeing the cameras, the actors, and production design, and everything that goes into making a film. We get to see how the director works on set, and lots of little details you wouldn't know from just watching the film. For example, a lot of the cast aren't experienced actors, the story is about Cuaron's childhood growing up and a lot of it is pure memory and not a lot of research. Fascinating and insightful, a must-watch for film buffs!

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator

What stings the most about this documentary is the ending, where viewers are told that Bikram, the man, and focus of this whole documentary, is still teaching students today. Bikram rose to fame in the '70s for his 26-pose hot yoga classes and teacher training, which catapulted him to dizzying heights of success, wealth, and power. Not the first to do so, Bikram uses his status and abuses it, and throughout the documentary, former students reveal they were sexually abused by him. I found it both fascinating and scary how people, ie. the students, were so swept up by it all that his behavior was ignored, even tolerated. A man who lives in contradiction, promoting a peaceful and healthy lifestyle through yoga but his actions don't reflect those values.

Feminists: What Were They Thinking?

This documentary was really moving and emotional for me. Directed by Johanna Demetrakas, she revisits photos from a 1977 book capturing women shedding cultural restrictions. We meet the women from the book over 40 years later, such as Jane Fonda and Michelle Phillips (The Mamas & The Papas) who talk about what it was like growing up a feminist and their careers in the arts, music, acting, comedy, literature and more. Though the documentary is made over 40 years since the photographs were taken and assembled for the book, what I found so emotional is that women are still fighting the same fight today. Initially, I found it a little despairing but also motivating and inspiring to continue pushing for change and gender equality.

Thursday, April 23, 2020
38 Days Later

38 Days Later

Spring blossoms on a daily walk!

38 is the number of days I've been at home now 'self-isolating'/on lockdown/quarantining - whatever you want to call it or 'confinement' as the French say. Also well done if you got the play on words! If you didn't, 28 Days Later is a post-apocalyptic horror film by Danny Boyle featuring the gooorge Cillian Murphy who wakes up in a hospital and goes outside to discover London is completely deserted -  I highly recommend.

My version, 38 Days Later, involves 0 actual zombies but the state of the supermarkets in the first couple of weeks wasn't far off looking like a set from the film though. Currently, outside my window cars are still driving by, people are out enjoying the sun, on their own though, I should add. However, normality feels like it could be in the hopefully not so distant future?

I've kept up the same attitude since my last post, enjoying the little things and mostly avoiding the news only when necessary. I tuned in for the most recent speech from Emmanuel Macron who then announced a further lockdown till the 11th of May. It's funny how I'd been going days without thinking about the news and the severity of the illness, and one speech put my mind in a negative space. The reality of what's going on hit me all over again like it was news I was hearing for the first time. Selfishly, I also noticed my 25th birthday will be spent at home.

To be honest, I didn't have plans yet but they most likely wouldn't have involved staying indoors but here we are! I like being home anyway and if staying in saves lives then I'm happy to do that. There'll be cake and I've booked time off work so it's shaping up alright for a 25th birthday.

Work has been keeping me busy. I've been researching new music and interviewing an Italian artist who's stuck in America for her quarantine. I find it fascinating how everyone's experience with this will be so unique. You can read the interview (in French) here if you like. It reminded me of how nice it was to talk to a stranger and share stories. It made me realize one of the things I've loved the most about my job is talking to people and asking questions (I like to do this in general so as a job it feels like a bonus).

Other things I've done include: painting my nails, cutting my own hair (it happened), watching documentaries, going for walks, playing my Nintendo, reading my book, making several quiches (some good, some epic failures) doing a 'Houseparty' app call with my cousins and doing two easter egg hunts in my flat and proceeding quickly to eat all of the chocolate. I've vacuumed several times and it actually helps calm my mind a lot so there's an obvious wellness tip for you if you ever needed one.

I've also got very into meditation, to the point where, if I'm feeling rubbish, my first thought now is 'I need to meditate'. If you'd told me a year ago, that meditation would be so beneficial if I just gave it a go, I would have made an excuse or said I'll just 'get round to it'. I've finally started making the effort and I couldn't imagine going without it.

38 days later and the start of all of this feels like a lifetime ago. I'm slightly apprehensive about when life goes 'back to normal' - how will it feel to be in a crowd again? On a crowded commute? I think in a weird way, there will be parts I miss about being at home. I especially like not having any FOMO (fear of missing out), but I realise that's on me, and not on others. I'm learning to enjoy going by my own schedule and timetable, and if being at home suits me more than going out, or if I simply can't then I'm learning to be at peace with that. I sometimes like working from home, having everything I need around me, and the ability to roll out of bed! It's great that once I 'clock off', I'm already home.

I like that I'm now making time to do things I would make excuses for before. I'm excited again to learn, to be creative, and to cook! Can you believe that I chopped a ton of veg and made my first ever homemade soup of... my life?!

I'm not sure who I'm writing this for exactly, or who will enjoy it, but mostly I'm writing this for my future self. When I'm an oldie, and hopefully still know how to find this part of the internet, I can look back at this and show it to family and say "This is what happened when I was in my 20's!". 
Friday, April 10, 2020
The Film Club #11

The Film Club #11

Well, it's not like any of us are getting out to a cinema any time soon. Most of the films I was looking forward to seeing this year (The French Dispatch, No Time to Die, Tenet...) have all been postponed so I guess we'll just have to make do with the wonderful films that are already available.

Whilst stuck at home post-wisdom teeth op, I caught up on some films in my spare time. Here are some films I recommend...

Parasite (2019) by Bong Joon-ho

Ok ok, this is obvious and barely necessary of a mention. Everyone has heard about Parasite by now, right? On the off chance you haven't heard of it, it's bloody brilliant and that's all you need to know. I rented it on Google Play after seeing a bazillion tweets/article headers about the movie and eventually caved, I couldn't wait any longer! I read no reviews so nothing was spoiled beforehand. I was truly gripped from the first frame and felt like I was constantly being revealed surprises throughout, whilst the characters couldn't quite believe what was unfolding in front of them, neither could I. On very basic terms, it's a social satirical masterpiece about class and greed, where a poor family cons their away into and quickly infests, like a parasite, the lives of a very rich family. I recommend these articles (1, 2, 3) and this video about the film (to consume after viewing to avoid spoilers!). Parasite marked a pivotal moment in cinematic history as it was the first EVER non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in history. A must-see!

1917 (2019) by Sam Mendes

I mainly wanted to go and see this because I knew Roger Deakins was the cinematographer behind it all and that it was shot in one take - or made to look like it as much as possible anyway. What's also really great about this movie is that it was co-written by a woman, Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Director, Sam Mendes wanted to honor his grandfather, Alfred Mendes, in 1917, who was a native of Trinidad and a messenger for the British on the Western Front. Mendes said that "it's important to remember they were fighting for a free and unified Europe and it's good to be reminded of that now". 1917 felt particularly unique amongst other war movies, mostly thanks to the way it was filmed - as you follow the two lead characters on their journey from the very first scene to the last. The camera felt very up close and really there was no way of escaping what was going on in front of you. An intense and captivating perspective of the first world war.

Midsommar (2019) by Ari Aster

Something very different here, but equally as intense as 1917. I can't say I really enjoyed Midsommar, maybe the better word is endured. Though beautifully shot, interesting and with brilliant acting from lead Florence Pugh, it just left me feeling a little uneasy. It's a horror film but set in broad daylight which makes it all the more eery. No jump scares, darkness or ghosts here but a very different kind of horror film. A young couple embarks on a 'trip' to a midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. It all starts off as a nice, carefree summer holiday and looks pretty idyllic, however it takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite the guests to take part in certain festivities. Think The Wicker Man but even more confusing.

The Lighthouse (2019) by Robert Eggers

Cabin fever might be beginning to feel a little too familiar for us all, right? Maybe save this one for when you're out of isolation, so you don't feel more claustrophobic. Two lighthouse keepers, played by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, are stuck out on a remote and mysterious island in New England in the 1890s. They both struggle to maintain their sanity as they are confined together day in and day out on this island. For four weeks, the men face back-breaking work in miserable conditions with no one else for company but each other. They must endure one another's odd quirks and behaviors, resentment and hatred. In the unfortunate weather conditions, the two are forced to spend more time in hunger, agony and manic isolation with nothing but booze and telling old tales to keep them entertained. Visually this movie is a gorgeous, gothic horror sensation all shot in black and white, adding to the soulless atmosphere on the island with mad but brilliant performances from both actors.

The Farewell (2019) by Lulu Wang

It's not uncommon in Chinese culture, for example, to keep a loved one in the dark about an illness, like in The Farewell. The film tells the story of a Chinese family, who discover that their Grandmother has only a short while left to live. In order to get all the family together for one last time, they decide to schedule an impromptu wedding for a reunion. We meet Billi, a Chinese American, who quickly gets on the next flight from her home in New York back to her home country of China when she learns the news. However, she struggles to fit in with her family again and is against her family's decision to hide the truth from her grandmother. I really loved this film and thought it was a beautiful story about messy and loving big families, cultures and what home means.

The Irishman (2019) by Martin Scorsese

Lastly, The Irishman! How lucky are we to have a director well into his seventies still making movies like this, and at such a length too. This movie is a crazy 3 hours and 30 minutes long but I'll be honest I didn't feel like I'd been watching it that long. I've watched shorter movies that felt longer but this one keeps you entertained with no need to check the time. In short, it's set in the 1950s where we meet truck driver, Frank Sheeran (played by longtime Scorsese companion, Robert De Niro). He quickly gets involved with the Pennysylvania crime family and then goes on to work for Jimmy Hoffa, an American labor union leader and president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and is largely tied to organized crime. These are exactly the kind of stories Scorsese does best but Casino is still up there as my all time favourite of them all, soz. What I did find interesting though was the use of special effects to make certain actors look younger - you can find out more about this in the 20/30 minute follow up episode 'In Conversation' featuring the director and lead actors from the movie on Netflix. It's amazing what we can do with technology in film, but for me it felt out of place. Nevertheless, it was as expected flawlessly performed, with amazing costume design (another interesting video here) with a great soundtrack too.

What movies have you been loving lately?

Tuesday, April 07, 2020
Mistress America & The Importance of Ageless Friendships

Mistress America & The Importance of Ageless Friendships

So a couple of months back I watched Noah Baumbach's Mistress America and it got me thinking about having friendships with people out of our age range. 

First of all, let me tell you briefly what Mistress America is about in a nutshell. Meet Tracy and Brooke. Out of the blue, a sort of miracle happens. Tracy's divorced mother is getting remarried and tells Tracy to get in touch with her fiance's daughter, Brooke. However, they're kind of like chalk and cheese. 

Tracy is a fresher college student, about 18 years old, yet to experience 'real' life. She's adjusting to college life, feeling lonely, depressed, and is quite quiet and reserved.

Brooke is completely different. In her 30's. Fun, ambitious, loud, open, no filter. She's like Tracy's wiser, older, cooler sister, full of confidence, at least on the outside. 

The two meet and Brooke is like the confidante Tracy always needed. Brooke brings out the fun side of life, provides a source of wisdom to Tracy to guide her through the crippling anxieties of starting college. Brooke essentially becomes a shoulder to lean on for Tracy and vise versa.

I actually remember reading something about this a while ago on the blog Ropes of Holland where the writer discussed cross-generation relationships and how relationships with the older generations, or younger can benefit both parties. Not only is it good for your mental health and wellbeing, but it is also said that “The more contact young people have with older adults, the less anxious they are about their own aging, and the less ageist they are” Allan & Johnson, 2009; Allan et al., 2014.  

It's a very interesting subject and got me thinking of all the times in my life I've appreciated the company of someone older than me. I used to get along with all of my grandparents, who I lost all pretty early on in my life. I liked their wisdom, their stories and their outlook on life. They had a lot to tell me. They were the comforting, wiser figure in my life and I provided them with a reminder of youth and discovery. As I was learning and making mistakes, they could help me learn from their own experiences. It's the same with my parents, aunts, uncles and so on. 

A lot like Tracy and Brooke, these relationships brought, and still bring, a lot of comfort for me. Relationships with someone older or younger can give alternative perspectives on life. 

I find it hard to believe that ageism is actually a thing, that some people don't want to talk to or be around older people. I just find it so bizarre because when I see someone older, I see all the years more they've lived than me and all the stories that they have to tell and I find it hard to see the age, or a reason to discriminate. I might even go as far as saying, sometimes in the past, I've probably gotten on better with people older than me. Maybe I'm just an old soul! (heheh)

An older person has more experience, years ahead of you which adds to the excitement and the mystery. They know a bit more than you, but you also can tell them about what's going on in your generation too. You can contrast and compare experiences.

Towards the end of the Mistress America, the two eventually find out that they won't be becoming stepsisters after all. So where does that leave them after all of this? Strangers? 

What it made me realise was that, without both their parents initially planning to get married, they were unlikely to have crossed paths, or made the effort to form a friendship. The film eventually ends in an argument, Brooke saying that Tracy was like a 'leech' in her life and latched on as soon as she could, to which Tracy responds that Brooke loved giving the advice. 

In a way Tracy did latch on, as someone, an only child, who was feeling lonely in a big city would do when she is offered the chance of a potential stepsister. Brooke did enjoy giving advice to Tracy. It gave her back a sense of purpose and structure in her chaotic life. It made her feel more in control of her somewhat out-of-control 30's. Either consciously or subconsciously, each woman was exactly what the other needed. Whilst Tracy was experiencing anxieties of youth and entering the adult world, Brooke was equally going through the anxieties of middle age. In some ways, Brooke was a projection of Tracy's future self, or what she hoped to be. Though they didn't become stepsisters, the relationship came together for a reason.

Everyone out there has the potential to inspire or shape your life, whatever their age. Some of the most vulnerable people throughout the lockdown across the world right now may be older people, who may experience isolation on a regular basis. Like in Mistress America, Tracy and Brooke find that they aren't really that different despite the age gap. What can be learned is that ageless friendships are important to remind the elder of their youth, and the youth of aging all while eliminating the anxiety of becoming an adult, and the anxieties of being one.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
What's Going On?

What's Going On?

Thanks to Marvin Gaye for sponsoring this post. But in all seriousness, his song title did inspire me about the current state of everything at the moment, what is going on? And if you're interested, for work I created a playlist, including said song, specifically for quarantining which you can check out on Spotify here. Yes, I have too much time on my hands.

Since the beginning of the year, I've been busy. Mostly enjoying myself, working at another festival, had my purse stolen though, done back-to-back interviews with musicians, had all four wisdom teeth removed (damn I wish I timed that better for a quarantine) oh and yeah, I'm quarantining and working from home, because of a global pandemic virus (?!?). There's a sentence I never thought I would use.

Let's rewind over a week first. I was at work, I'm currently working here if you're interested. My time has been taken up writing and doing a lot for that lately hence why this place has taken a back seat. Anyway, so my colleague came and told me that I would be working from home because France was about to go on 'lockdown'. Sounds like the opening to an episode of Black Mirror, doesn't it?

Then everything just happened very quickly, like going through one of those flick books and everything goes by in a fast blur, too fast to gather your emotions. We were told all schools would be shut, then an announcement on the weekend said all restaurants/bars, etc would be closed, then another announcement later to say we were not to leave our homes for anything other than necessities. And breathe.

I read something online saying that, if you've got anxiety, you already make up so many catastrophic scenarios in your head that when something like this happens you may surprisingly feel calm because you're constantly prepared for the worst. Initially, I didn't feel calm, I felt worried and imbalanced. Though my emotions have been coming and going in waves, I've come to an acceptance of it all, and feel calmer. Even though I found out that Glastonbury, the first time I would ever have attended for the 50th anniversary, had been canceled, I just accepted it. My friend that had planned to come and visit me had to have her flights canceled but I accepted it...well I had no other choice but to accept. I've also stopped bombarding myself with news whilst at home which has helped my state of mind.

These were just two minor things on the scale of things being canceled and delayed but the major 'thing' is the illness, the major thing is people losing their lives, jobs, homes, potentially, because of it. So how do we possibly stay sane in situations like this?

Hopefully, I don't come off as 'preachy' but it's gratitude. It's the only thing helping me get through this and has been helping me with everything lately. I read that it is impossible to feel negative and positive emotions at the same time so I try to swap all my anxieties and fears with gratitude. In a time where it feels so uncertain and everything is up in the air, you have to be grateful for where you are right now in this second, what you have (no matter how small) and who you have in your life. 

I hope a lot of other people are seeing it this way too. When something is so massive, concerning massive populations and countries and quite literally puts the majority of the world 'on hold', I see it as more than just a virus. At least, I'm trying to turn this horrible event, experience into something positive which could feel like an impossible task. I'm naturally a very reflective, deep-thinker which is both a blessing and a curse so of course all this free time has got me thinking a whole load more.

If I can I take something, anything, positive from the situation, I think it's reinforced for me what is truly important more than ever, what I can go without and what is just 'stuff'. It's showing me the power of community and humanity. I'm realising how connected everyone is, regardless of borders and imaginary walls. I'm realising how valuable time is. I'm feeling inspired to be creative with no agenda. I'm enjoying filling my time with good books, art, music, and film. I've been doing dancing lessons in my flat with my roommate. I've been trying new recipes and reading books. I've been meditating. I'm enjoying pretty boring, simple things. I've surprisingly been laughing a lot. I'm astounded at my own, and others, strength when world catastrophes like this happen. I'm also astounded at the number of idiots who have chosen to hoard toilet paper!

I've tried to keep up with the news but had to reduce due to it making me feel powerless, guilty and negative. I've come somewhat to a conclusion about how this all relates to the planet, humans, climate change. However, I think it's up to you to make up your own mind about why this has all happened, without my influence. Whatever happens, I hope that this event gives you time to truly pause and reflect. I hope it brings you out the other side more grateful, more present. I sort of hope that we'll go a little slower, take a little more care, be more accepting, less greedy and not be in a rush to return to our usual ways, the kind of ways that will make something like this happen again in our future.

In other (less breaking) news, referring back to one of my last posts, I'm happy to say I achieved a 'small' goal of moving into my own flat (silver linings!). Not my 'own' home yet, but I'm getting there. The photos in this post were taken today on a walk. Luckily exercise during the quarantine is allowed, and so is staring at and taking photos of beautiful spring flowers. 

I realise this was probably just a jumble of thoughts and probably best not written at 10pm at night, but too late.

Lastly, I want to put out my gratitude to my home, family, friends, health workers, anyone working hard right now, also to musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers and activists who make my life and this world a better place.

Friday, February 07, 2020
The Film Club #10

The Film Club #10

I started this little series way back in 2016 as a place to share my love for films. It's been a while since my last so here are 6 films I have LOVED lately!

Uncut Gems (2019) 
by Josh & Benny Safdie

While this movie is still fresh in my mind, I feel compelled to talk about it, and tell everyone to watch it, (so I can talk about it with them too!). Adam Sandler was in his 50's before he finally got this perfect role offered to him and I guess you can say on this occasion that good does come to those who wait (a frigging long time!). Uncut Gems is the ultimate thriller-crime heist movie and is an adrenaline rush from start to finish. From the first moment of this film, it's like a time bomb is set, inevitably ticking towards a catastrophic ending. Sandler plays Howard Ratner, who runs a jewelry store in NYC's 'Diamond District' which I didn't know anything about until the film so it was a huge eye-opener for me, and I was completely gripped by the story. Sandler gives his all whilst playing one of the many ruthless, crazy, strung-out, addicted, mad-men who roam the Diamond District, and though he is a lying, cheating criminal, you can't help but sympathize with Howard and hope he'll make it out alive. You'll be literally on the edge of your seat as you watch him try to untangle himself from extremely sticky situations, one after the other, and as his career, family life, relationships and life hang by a very fine thread.

Marriage Story (2019)
by Noah Baumbach

Moving onto a completely different genre now, with Marriage Story by Noah Baumbach, the man behind Frances Ha and Mistress America. I've watched this twice now and don't get tired of it - the performances make the movie. It's a heartfelt and revealing look at the process of a couple going through a divorce with a child caught in the middle. The performances by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson never felt fake or exaggerated and to me felt like watching the real thing. It is filmed in such a way that you see well from both sides of the marriage breakdown and never root for one more than the other, sharing the different perspectives of going through such an experience. You see the way a couple who once loved one another, or still do, can be turned against each other in the brutal process of divorce by their lawyers (though I loved Laura Dern!) and just how damn complicated it is. I also loved the way set design was used in this film too and how Baumbach decided to use a different aspect ratio (1.66) therefore creating a more intimate portraiture of the family and focusing on the characters more than anything else.

The Intern (2015)
by Nancy Meyers

Rewinding back a few years for this one with The Intern which came out in 2015 but is available now on Netflix. Not your usual Robert De Niro movie and it probably won't become a cult movie classic or anything but it's a perfect pick-me-up, slightly cheesy and fun movie. De Niro plays Ben who is a 70-year-old widower, who is not quite ready to retire just yet and feels he still has something to give. He conveniently notices a poster by a young fashion company looking for senior interns and jumps at the chance. Jules, the CEO, is initially skeptical but a close friendship soon blossoms between the two as Ben proves himself to be sort of the missing piece in the puzzle in Jules life. There are lots of nice pockets of wisdom and life lessons throughout and is a proper feel-good movie!

Joker (2019)
by Todd Phillips

In complete contrast to The Intern, Joker is far from a feel-good movie, but I still loved it. It's been sweeping up awards and nominations just about everywhere so I doubt this mention is necessary. Then again if you are one of the 5 people who haven't heard about this Todd Phillips adaptation of the classic, Joker, then maybe this mini-review may, or may not, convince you to see it. Joaquin plays Arthur, a severely mentally ill and lonely man who is a failed comedian and works as a clown as his day job. After constant bullying, isolation, and rejection, he basically says f*ck it and all hell breaks loose in Gotham City as he transforms into the famous criminal Joker. I'll be honest, the movie was dark, grim and painful to watch, and I struggle to find a positive word to describe it. Of course, I loved it, so it's not a bad movie, by all means, it's just not for the faint-hearted, or if you're wanting to watch something fun or uplifting, then probably pick a different movie!

Deliverance (1972)
by John Boorman

Going a lot further back into the archive of movies, I finally watched Deliverance from 1972, which I'd been recommended for a long time. I had no idea what to expect really and seem to enjoy seeing movies this way more. A group of friends set off on what was supposed to be a fun weekend away of camping and canoeing then everything that can go wrong, goes wrong, as Murphy's law would have it. I felt like it reminded me a bit of The Hangover, a similarly optimistic group of guys who leave for a weekend trip away which very quickly escalates into a bit of a nightmare. Deliverance doesn't quite deliver (oops, pun unintended) on the comedy side of things like Hangover does, as the tone of the movie just feels a bit 'off' from the get-go (dueling banjos anyone?). All the performances are excellent, and you really do feel the same sense of panic of the characters as they find themselves in a grave situation. Some make it home in one piece, albeit permanently traumatized from a weekend they'd rather forget.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
by Kelly Fremon Craig

Ending on a happier-ish note with one of my favourite teen, coming-of-age comedies to date. I watched this for the second time recently and just love it. Hailee Steinfield (love!) plays Nadine, the awkward, goofy and hilarious high school student who's already quite 'upside down' life is turned further upside down when her older brother begins dating her best, and only, friend. She reacts in the most extreme way causing destruction wherever she goes, in her relationships, her family life and with her teacher, played by Woody Harrelson. What sets this movie apart from other coming-of-age movies with similar clichés is that the arc in Nadine's character is not necessarily about running away from everything and starting over, but accepting the life she has and the people in it, as awkward, confused and complex as she is, and realizing that actually, everything isn't as terrible as she makes it out to be. 
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Little Women, Big Dreams

Little Women, Big Dreams

*contains some spoilers*

In this 2019 adaptation of Little Women, based on the 19th century novel by Louisa May Alcott, Greta Gerwig - actress-turned-director/screenwriter - explores the themes of women, money, ambition and art; a story which feels just as relevant today as it did all those years ago.

During the opening scene, as the ambitious Jo, played by the delightful (and now Oscar-nominated) Saoirse Ronan, runs excitedly through the streets of New York after selling a story to the local newspaper, it reminds you of Gerwig herself when she played a similar role as a young, aspiring dancer in the 2012 film Frances Ha. However, this time Gerwig is no longer the young women chasing her dreams, but living them out instead and proving herself as a filmmaker to be reckoned with. This is her latest work since her Oscar-winning and highly-acclaimed Ladybird, and she is now undoubtedly paving the way for women in the film-industry today.

From the interview with Edith Bowman for her Soundtracking podcast, Gerwig mentions a particular line in the book which resonated with her, that line being ‘the world is hard on ambitious girls’. In the film she successfully portrays the four sisters - Jo, Amy, Beth and Meg - as best friends and equally strong individuals in pursuit of their dreams in a tough world. The film’s timeline shows them playing and growing together, and striving for achievement, wealth or creative careers. As the young women mature, Gerwig successfully highlights each of the sisters’ different and individual paths whilst confronting life’s hard knocks along the way. Jo desires to be a successful writer; Amy (played by Oscar-nominated Florence Pugh) a painter in Paris; Beth (Eliza Scanlen), quiet but present, is a talented pianist but suffering from illness and Meg (Emma Watson), desires a wealthier lifestyle, a husband and a family. 

Though their visions on life differ and sometimes conflict, the bond of sisterhood and family never loosens the deep-rooted ties these girls have - whether through betrayal or loss. All girls are equally as expressive and creative, sometimes putting on small plays for children, helping around the house as they live at home with their mother, played by Laura Dern, who keeps things together despite the long absence of their father. They always find ways to keep themselves entertained and despite their own poverty, give to others with even less than themselves. What Gerwig portays so well is four young girls, and sisters, who have been raised well but have simultaneously carved out their own strong characters and direction in life. Equally she shows the obstacles often faced by young women who want a career of their own, but don't want to be lonely, who want wealth but don't know how to get it from a position of poverty or without a man's help, who don't want to get married even when society says you should and who, as Amy once puts it 'wants to be great or nothing at all'. 
The everyday lives of the girls and their motives are slightly shaken with the encounter of their charming and handsome neighbour Laurie, played by Timothée Chalamet, who peaks the interest of a few of the girls, a bit like the arrival of the wounded soldier in Sofia Coppola's, The Beguiled. He provides a new amusement and discovery for the girls who are yet to have their first experience in love. At one point, Beth even admits to 'being afraid of boys'. Sparks fly and jealousy then leads to betrayal, and in one scene Amy heartbreakingly burn's Jo's story out of jealousy. Though love interests cause friction between the girls, the sisterhood remains more important than anything. Jo who is essentially the leader of the pack, doesn't want to let any man stop her from following her dreams, even if that man loves her, or even when another man doesn't approve of her writing. Though careers, dreams and love gets in the way, family definitely comes first, and everything else second.
Gerwig succeeds in directing and telling a beautiful story about strong, determined little women with big dreams, fueled with happy and uplifting moments and with heartbreaking scenes too, mostly all of them which you will probably cry at. The performances are excellent and feel effortless and it is a movie that I will jump at the chance to see again and I highly recommend you go and see too, to support women film directors. I'm pretty disappointed that Gerwig received no director nominations, as I believe this is her best work yet and I'm so excited for her to create more films in the future. 
Disclaimer: I read no other reviews of this film before writing this and have never seen the other adaptations or read the original book (but I intend to asap!), so all words are my own - except quotes. The only research done was of course seeing the film and listening to the Gerwig/Bowman podcast on Soundtracking (listen here). Oh and big shout out to my mum the sub editor, lol.
Thursday, January 09, 2020
When I'm Thirty-Four

When I'm Thirty-Four

Right, first of all, can I just say that typing out the title to this blog post gave me the heebies. In the next decade, I'll be thirty-four, holy smokes. Anyway, if you got The Beatles reference-ish, well done. I was going to do my usual new year's resolutions, which I have to an extent, in my own diary. However, I'll admit I felt a bit of pressure. Online I saw waves of other people's successes and achievements of the last year alone and felt like mine didn't quite measure up. Comparison is bad for you folks, don't do it! To take the load off, I've decided to imagine and plan out how I'd like to see myself in the next decade when I'm, *gulp* thirty-four. 

One year is a long time, but ten years is definitely a lot longer, and it feels a lot more manageable to tick some big things off my list over that span of time than just in one year. Sometimes it takes a year to plan, another year to kick things into gear, and several years down the line to actually see results from all that hard work. Megababe and popstar, Lizzo made a post on social media and it certainly made me realise this. Nothing is an overnight success. It's years of hard work, talent, perseverance, luck, opportunity, timing, and many other factors that come into play. 

I've broken my resolutions down into a mind map, (I used to love doing these when I was a  pre-teen/teen nerd). Mindmaps are great as you can look at them at a glance and find what you want easily then focus on one at a time. I highly recommend you do the same if you plan to make resolutions, to help branch it off into categories...hey, well if you like to be organised like me it might just suit you. (I made this one on Canva)

(Click to enlarge)

P e r s o n a l

- Love myself and others more: I want to judge less, and stop wanting to change so much about myself (oh the irony) and just love myself more, treat myself with more respect and kindness.

- Travel more: Self-explanatory but I want to travel whenever I can when time and money allow. There's still so much of the world I want to see so I'd like to keep ticking off new countries and cities.

- Listen better and be more organised: Though I have the best intentions at heart, sometimes my scatterbrain fails me and I'm not fully present, fretting about the future or dwelling on the past, and thus not being organised or listening to those around me. I want to improve on this and be more efficient and organised.

- Find a new exercise: I'd like to try a new exercise and stick. with. it. I know what sports I don't like, so it will be great to find one that I enjoy and doesn't feel like too much hard work and more like fun. 

- Have my own home: If you read my last post here, then you'll know I've been wanting my own home for a wee while, to eventually not rent would be great, but even for the time being just somewhere that is mine, and not renting in someone else's home. To decorate, cook in my own kitchen, have a little office/studio and maybe even a little library or wardrobe would be the dream.

- Practice gratitude every week: This is something I already do and have been doing so since last year. I find it more doable than every day as I can always find time at least once a week to go over the past week's events and what I'm grateful for. It sums everything up in my head and makes me realise just how many things I have to be grateful for. After my reflection, I think of what I'm grateful for in the week to come. I don't write it down but go over it in my head, whether I'm on the bus to work, or before I go to bed.

- Cook vegan more often: For Christmas, I got Fearne Cotton's new Happy Vegan book and the recipes look amazing! With more and more people going vegan and wanting to better the planet, I'd like to get involved too.

- Improve makeup/hair skills: I used to be good at makeup, and wanted a career in makeup (fun fact). First I'd like to get better at it, and more enthusiastic like I used to be. With early mornings at work, I do it as quick as possible but I'd like to regain some core skills and perfect it a bit. And my hair, cause I never know what the heck to do with it. Considering I watch Youtube videos a lot on makeup, I can pick up a thing or two from them. Recently watching Glow Up on Netflix reignited this desire in me.

- Get my drivers license: Self-explanatory again, I just want to get this done and out of the way, when I have enough money. Hey, Lady Gaga didn't get her's till her 30's either lol. I'm being good to the planet by using public transport and walking more for now right?

- Play an instrument again: I used to play the flute and get drum lessons in my teens and again at uni for a while. I'd maybe like to pick it up again.

S o c i a l

- Fall in love: Cheesy but I don't care! My past relationships have been both fun and some not-so-great relationships but those are over and done, and now I feel deserving of long-lasting love and ready to fall in love with another person too.

- Spend time with loved ones, nourish those relationships: Something I do already, but I want to make the most of the relationships I already have whether that's amongst my family or friendships and nourish them by putting the time and effort in. 

- More outings (concerts, events, festivals, etc.): Self-explanatory again but simply make more effort to see bands as I love doing so, attend unusual/spontaneous events, and go to more festivals...starting this year by ticking Glastonbury off the list!!!

- Make healthy new relationships: As it says, I want any new relationships to be healthy ie. that they bring me happiness, creativity, inspiration, love.

- Interact with people who have similar desires in life to myself: Sort of ties in with the above. I feel like this has already started with my new job, that I'm around like-minded people, and the more this happens the better. It's good to be surrounded by people with similar passions and a similar direction in life so you can bond, share, help one another and always have/give encouragement and support along the way.

- Be good to the environment: Something that should be on ALL of our resolution lists. Help the environment in any way you can. Protest like Thunberg, reduce meat, ride a bike, plant a tree, use reusable coffee cups, anything. I want to do this when I can. But also not feel guilty when I don't sometimes.

P r o f e s s i o n a l

- Evolve into a career in the media: Cinema/documentary, music, radio, journalism... I eventually want my career to go in this direction.. What exactly, I'm not sure yet!

- Write and make a short film: I've been slowly researching and learning as much as I can about writing screenplays before I dive in and do my own but I eventually would like to. I have many story ideas popping into my head and I want to put pen-to-paper and make it happen.

- Get back into acting classes: I did a 10-week beginners acting class back in Liverpool, and performed a quick dialogue in front of a small audience. I never mentioned it here but I'm pretty proud (mostly embarrassed) about it. The fact I remembered the lines was an achievement. I'd like to do more acting again, it helped a lot with my confidence and was good fun.

- Master another language: Now that I've mastered English (well thank god for that, I was born with it...) and French! I'd like to sharpen my Spanish where I have some skills already and get better at it, and maybe call myself trilingual instead of bilingual one day.

- Customise clothes: I used to do this when I was young, but in my future home, I'd love a sewing machine and want to get creative with up-cycling clothes and going out in clothes that I've customised and created, instead of things made by other high street brands. 

- Write for magazines/websites: As I evolve with my blog, I'd like to write for a few online publications and get some writing bits published here and there. 


And, phew, that's kind of it, I think. Maybe these are more like lifetime goals? At the beginning of last year, I thought my life had no chance of improving and no way did I think I'd be working at a radio station many months later. Life has a funny way of surprising you so just go with the flow and see where it leads you. Have some plans, definitely, that's good, but don't expect everything to go in a straight direction, you might be taken on diversions, detours, roundabouts...anyway you get me, I hope?! 

Good luck with your next decade, may it bring you happiness and loveeeeeee.
Thursday, January 02, 2020
A Door Of One's Own

A Door Of One's Own

"To have a door that I could shut was still the height of bliss for me."

For my first book of 2020, I'm currently reading Simone de Beauvoir's The Prime of Life (La Force de l'âge) the second volume of her autobiography. I loved the first volume and the many pockets of wisdom she shares about her upbringing then student-to-adult life in Paris. She's so witty and has a great sense of humour and as my first time reading anything by her, I'm already a big fan. There are many lines from her books that resonate with me and this one in particular stood out for me today. I've been thinking a lot about how much I'd love a home of my own. 

Throughout my life I've often shared homes, sometimes even a bunk-bed with my big sister when I was a child then much later sharing halls as a student and then a shared apartment as a young adult. I remember in my second home in Scotland my parents renovated the small room into a bedroom for me, finally a room of my own! Funnily enough, I didn't have a door on it whilst renovations were happening, instead it was a cheap pink beaded curtain until a door was put in place.

De Beauvoir talks about freedom and how intoxicating it was to possess it when she returned to live in Paris in 1929 and how she'd longed for this feeling as a young girl, dreaming about being a grown-up. When I moved back in with my parents after a year of job-hunting post-university, I felt I lost that sense of freedom, or independence that I guess I kind of took for granted. I didn't realise how crucial it was to my life. The ability to come and go as I pleased, bring friends round whenever I liked and do everything on my own timetable. However at the time it felt right, to have the comfort and support of a real 'home' and not rented accommodation. It was what I needed in that moment. Reading this line from the book provided a little reassurance and instilled some patience about having my own home one day. De Beauvoir rented off of her gran in Paris, wasn't hugely wealthy, but for her, freedom was the most valuable thing. She was utterly content with a small room, which was her little haven in a crazy metropolis, a place to briefly shut the outside world out and be herself.

I think it's been playing on my mind lately as I'm at an age where some of my friends, or old friends, are getting their own homes, getting engaged and even having kids already. And the other half are working out life, living at home and/or renting. I'm currently renting a room in someone else's home while I work, and the house is gorgeous, spacious and homely so I'm lucky. However, I'm longing for that 'I'm home, in my own home' feeling. I got a small taste of having my own flat for a few months last year, and I suppose I miss it a bit! It had it's pros and cons. Though it could be a tad lonely, I loved the freedom, I loved that everything was mine, and I could wander around in my pyjamas or do the famous dash from bathroom/bedroom (lol), and invite friends round as I pleased.

As Simone de Beauvoir says in her book, after reading a story in Mon Journal about an English schoolgirl, she says "Here, within these gaily painted walls, she read and worked and drank tea, with no one watching her -- how envious I felt!". I guess you could call it privilege, to have your own home to do that, not everyone has that. Though I may not have a home of my own yet, I try to make anywhere I go, rent or wherever I lay my head feel more like 'home'. And as long as I have a door to shut (or a pink beaded curtain to parade through!), then I can feel the feeling briefly of having my own home, and that's good enough for now.