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And that scares me.

Despite this blog being full of my low moments, I’m generally an optimist. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to document my more negative moments – they seem noteworthy due to their rarity.

But now I can’t see a silver living to this cloud that’s threatening me, that’s threatening the life and lifestyle I have planned out for myself. It may be nothing – it may go away and sunny skies will be there once again. But if – and it’s a big ‘but if’ – it is there, I don’t know if I’ll be able to see things as half full anymore.

In other news, I want to buy some shoes.

Dear P

I felt too hypocritical to post on your Facebook wall, to be a voice amongst those who were close to you, dear to you and loved you more than life itself. I was neither close friend nor family to you. I knew you, however, and need to put down how I feel after this tragic event.

I probably saw you around in first year, but only really got to know you in second through Writing Society. We both loved Romanticism but had very differing views on the music of U2. They’ve still only done about four good songs out of the million they’ve released, P. You leaving us won’t guilt me into changing my opinion on that! It makes me sad that you will never get to listen to them again though, when you clearly loved them so much. I hope they play U2 in Heaven. Although, if that is the case I hope, when my time comes, I go to a different Heaven where they play Bruce Springsteen.

I remember our trip to the Hay Festival. Writing, books and Marcus Brigstocke. Things you loved, that we both loved. I think one of the reasons we weren’t closer was because I saw us as so different. I admit to being a conformist. I love a bit of normalcy, me. But you clearly marched to your own drum. It is only now, looking back on how I didn’t let us get to know each other, that I acknowledge we had more than a few things in common.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend we were best friends, that I always got along with you. I admit to bitching about you from time to time, just as I bitched about everyone. You were a very interesting character, one that I sometimes found hard to take. But you were well meaning, well liked by many and I find it just incomprehensible how anyone could be as unhappy, as despairing as you must have been yesterday.

For that I am sorry. That your family and friends have lost someone so beloved in such terrible, terrible circumstances. That the world has lost someone who clearly had a lot to give. That you lost your sight of your place and purpose in the world. I know you didn’t believe in God or anything like that, but I do truly hope something and somewhere exists beyond this world, just so you can be happier there.

Rest in peace, P. I’m so, so sorry.

Maybe I should be posting this on the Canada blog, but I don’t really want my parents reading it, so it’s stuck here.

Having spend the past four months in a foreign country, I knew that my brief, belated visit home would be prominently marked by one question. “So, how’s Canada?” How can I begin to answer that question? “Great, thanks” was my standard reply. It’s not that I’m not enthusiastic about the experience, it’s that there is too much to say to respond to a question asked out of mere politeness, rather than genuine curiosity.

I will answer truthfully here. My time in Montréal has been wonderful, fun, traumatic, lonely, amazing, overwhelming and, hating to sound like a hippy twat, life-changing. I have lived, laughed, cried and danced more here than I have in the past 19 years and 7 months of my life. I have made great friends, most of whom tend to be grouped and referred to by their collective nationalities – The Irish, The Dutch, The Norwegians, The Frenchies . My French is still at this level. I have not experienced a great deal of homesickness, aside from during my recent Christmas flight-cancellation nightmare. I have been too busy trying to make light of this strange, wonderful city. Its simultaneous French and North American-ness summed up, I feel, by the name of that famous coffee chain here: ‘Le Café Starbucks’. I live on the fringes of Le Plateau, a traditionally French neighbourhood. My apartment is old with big windows and high ceilings. The upstairs apartments are not accessed through some communal entrance hall or lift. They have their own external staircases, wrought iron, which is a typical feature of most housing in Montréal. These stairs are currently icy and snowy and look impossible to navigate. I’m glad to live on the ground floor. Another bonus of my apartment is that it is located five minutes from my favourite club. Café Campus is the sort of club that offers cheap tequila shots and thinks that Bonnie Tyler, Wham! and A-Ha is a suitable soundtrack for a night out in 2010/11. I wholly agree with them.

Along with having a great deal of fun here I have, again not wishing to sound like a hippy twat, at least tried to make sense of who I am as a person. This indulgent soul-searching was catastrophically derailed by a problem in the shape of a blonde ice-hockey player from Alberta. I am silly about many things – shoes, mainly -but men are not one of them. So, I was greatly surprised to find myself turning into a gurgling wreck, descending deep into full-blown neurosis over Mr. Hockey Sticks. Being the mature, sophisticated sort that I am, I compensated for this by getting horrendously drunk at parties at which we were both in attendance and making him (and everyone else) laugh at my blokeish-innuendo-ridden-fart-and-knob-joke humour. I, of course, kept my real feelings very hidden, to the point that a close friend of mine thought I fancied the arse off of another guy, A, who I had been more openly flirtatious with. Now, I love A to bits. He is a terrific, one-of-a-kind, fantastic human being. He is also, a) Australian and b) a wearer of Ugg boots, which are two major flaws when considering a shagging partner. Anyway, I kept my cards close to my chest and, as someone like him inevitably would, Mr. Hockey Sticks got a girlfriend in the form of a very sweet French friend of mine. Now, not only is this girl lovely, but also stunningly yet unusually beautiful in a way that probably makes most straight girls and gay men question their sexual preferences. I felt shit. Not only was he shagging someone else, both of them were in my friendship group. I had to see them together frequently and each time I did I wanted to run away, cry and/or throw up. My own silence throughout the whole situation frustrated me. Had he known how I felt, been a total dickhead about it and started flaunting his sexpot French girlfriend around I could’ve drunk a bottle of red wine, moaned about how shit men are and gone out clubbing. And possibly become a feminazi lesbian and stopped shaving my armpits. But no. This is a guy who has affirmed for me that the great ones exist. He is kind, decent, funny, well-mannered. I think of him as handsome rather than hot. Sexy, yes, but ‘hot’ seems wrong. He is old-fashioned and traditional. The All-American (or, I suppose, All-Canadian) boy – hockey player, in a fraternity, ridiculously perfect and charming smile. Exactly the type of man I suppose us ‘modern women’ aren’t supposed to fall for anymore. Which is ridiculous because of course we do. He’s of the old school and I find that attractive, rather than outdated. Anyway, all of these wonderful qualities I’ve listed made it harder. It’s getting easier, but has thrown up some uncomfortable truths. I now know the type of man I fall for. Not just fancy, but really lose my shit over. I also realise that I don’t think I deserve such a person. Of course he’s with Miss Sexy Bitch Francaise and not me. Why in the name of arse did I think that I – she of the eternal belly chub, midnight panic-attack neuroses and Cher’s Greatest Hits on the iPod – was deserving of someone so lovely, not perfect, but lovely? This is not an ego-boosting thought to a 20 year old who has never had a proper relationship. So I cheered myself up by slagging around a bit. It was fun, but this term I really feel I should start assessing the ‘relationship’ corner of my life. Not in a wanky way. Just because I’m on the North American continent does not mean I am going to develop and addiction to self-help books.

Ok, so the pity party is over. Largely my experiences in Montréal have been great. Great friends, great places, great oppurtunities. I’ve learned a lot – not so much in college – through my laughter and my tears. Four months of amazingly profound life lessons and stupid, drunken nights. Round two? I can’t wait.

This summer is shit. I know it’s leading up to something wonderful – a year “studying” (read: learning to ski) in Canada – but I still feel, frankly, bloody miserable. I didn’t get my old job back, so funds are low. That’s fine. I’ve been helping out around the house a lot more, in order to earn my parents’ financial generosity. To be honest though, that’s not doing a great deal to help me not feel like a total waste-of-space failure.

Every day is looking pretty much the same to me. I’ve become full-blown addicted to my Gossip Girl boxsets to the extent that I have only two episodes left to watch and don’t quite know what I’ll do once I’ve watched those. I stay in bed until 10. This is unheard of for me. I am such an early riser. Even when I’ve been out on the lash I’m normally up by 9.30 at the latest. As a result, I feel lethargic and miserable for the whole day.

One positive is that I go swimming about four times a week, just to get out of the house for a bit. Which is good because, hey, what do you know, my doctor says I’m overweight. For fuck’s sake, I only went to go get the pill. Nice to know I’m too fat for anyone to want to sleep with me. Cheers, doc. So I’m a fat, useless, stupid bitch, or so my inner-self keeps yelling at me.

I’m, to quote Carrie Bradshaw, ‘an emotional cutter’. I torture myself with things – films, letters, books etc – that will cause me unbelievable pain. I read Brideshead Revisited about a month after my Oxford rejection. Smart move, L. Smart move. And yesterday, watching Gossip Girl, I opened up that hideous wound that I don’t think will ever completely heal again. It was the point in the series where it becomes clear that Blair Waldorf is rapidly losing her dream of attending Yale, the university she has aspired to since childhood. As if I didn’t see enough of myself in that character. I wanted to reach through the tv and cuddle her (and yes, I do realise how ridiculous it is that Gossip Girl has such an emotional effect on me). Cuddle her and tell her it’ll be ok, that she’ll be happy wherever she goes. But that horrid inner part of me says ‘that’s not true though, is it L? You weren’t happy, you aren’t happy.’ Because how can you function somewhere else when you’ve invested so much, for so long, in a place? Like Blair with Yale, Oxford was the place. I always supported them in the boat race, always assumed that was the place for me. Like Blair, I like to be in control. Losing Oxford (as if I even had it to begin with…) was losing control. I barely got my head together to pass my A-Levels. So what did I do after watching Blair Waldorf lose her dream? I revisited mine. I read the letter inviting me for interview. A point in my life where I was actually proud of myself, where I didn’t feel useless. A fleeting passage of time, before reality bit just before Christmas 2007. Three fucking years ago. I should be ok by now. But I’m really, truly not. I feel so ashamed to admit that, but I’m just not ok.

And now, whilst the fantastic friends I’ve made and the oppurtunity to travel means I cannot be truly angry with where I’ve ended up, I remain unconvinced that I’m in the right place. Yes, Oxford would be hard. 5 essays a week, endless stress. But you know what? I’d take the satisfaction of having to work my guts out to achieve every grade, than my current situation, coasting through to 2:1s with minimal effort. I don’t think it’s because I’m simply smart enough to do that, I think it’s because my university doesn’t push anyone, doesn’t expect too much of anyone.

I’m still a failure. I just thought I’d be at least half way to success by now.

I’ve had that song on repeat for about four days now. Certainly the inevitable sunburn that occurs when the nicer weather meets my white and nerdy self is never pleasurable, but every other aspect of the sunshine is much appreciated! I’m definitely in a much chirpier mood than I have been of late.

I have been a bit down, to be honest. Lots of nasty appointments to keep, essays to write and general things to do have got me in a bit of state. I am still a bit ratty and irritable to be honest, but the lovely Gina has offered to let me stay with her for a bit, and I’ve already spent a nice couple of days up in London with her insignifcant other and his housemates. So hopefully I’ll be ok.

Closer to (uni)home, I had a lovely, lovely day today which made me smile a lot. The village where I live up at uni is very pretty (if you ignore the council estate…) and so I decided to do my revision whilst sprawled out in the sunshine on the village green. As I was trying to get my head around Marlowe I saw quite a few people, despite the fact it was a fairly early time of around 9ish. Mostly the people I saw were elderly ladies walking their dogs. Every single one of them who walked past me spoke to me – about what I was doing, the weather, a simple good morning – and wished me good luck with my exams. How lovely! It sounds silly, but just having someone pay that little bit of interest in how you’re doing when you’ve been feeling so down for so long is just incredibly uplifting.

My happiness may also be slightly attributed to this: omnomnombargain

But I do have sunburn. Ouch.

Dear World,

It would be very, very nice if you gave me some money, so that I could go shopping.

Thank you,

Laura

Hei!

meg i Bergen, 2009

 This picture is me in Bergen, Norway taken around this time last year. I’m cringing at my chubbiness and goofy grin, but smiling at the good memories of the place. My housemate, Hannah, is Norwegian and I, along with another friend Antonia, went to stay with her family for a few days last Easter. It’s a truly lovely place.

Anyway, it’s taken a long enough time but I’ve finally got round to learning Norwegian! I’ve ordered some books and am very excited! I’m one of those terrible English people who has coasted their way around most of Europe on speaking English very loudly and using the occasional phrase in the language of the country I’m in. I’ve always wished I could speak a second language, but I just never got round to it. This year however, I’m learning TWO!

As I think I’ve mentioned here before, I’m going to be studying in Montreal for a year on a Student Exchange Programme. I’m beyond excited (although, as ever, I have neglected to sort out things like my Visa yet…not like it’s important or anything). One of the main reasons I put Montreal as my first choice, was due to the fact that it is an offically French-speaking city. Although there is a large Anglophone population, the official language is French so it’s pretty much going to force me into doing what I’ve been intending to do for the past 5 or 6 years and actually get semi-decent at the language. I’m bloody terrified, but also so excited.

As an English student, I always like to have two books on the go; one that I’m reading for my course, another for leisure. That’s how it is with the two languages I’m learning at the moment. French is something that I’m studying because I have to – I want to study it and I have chosen to, but I don’t really have the option not to work at it. Norwegian is something for fun. It’s an interesting language that not many people choose to learn, something that I can enjoy as a hobby and not stress about too much. The French is like Shakespeare. Which I guess means that Norwegian is like Harry Potter or something. And I mean that in an entirely good way.

If you’ve got nothing to do this Easter, why not learn Norwegian?