Back in business!

And so, four months to the day since I last posted, I find myself sitting at my table inspired to write again.

My hiatus wasn’t a planned one – despite its exact length – but was a necessary one. When I first thought of starting a blog, I intended to create a space to convey my thoughts and express myself freely. At first, I enjoyed writing about any interesting things that had happened that day, whatever was on my mind when I sat down to write, or however I had been feeling. And I was loving it.

Unfortunately, this feeling was not to last. I would soon find my inspiration and energy levels at an all-time low. In a job with punishing hours and mentally exhausting work (both the biochemistry itself, and the additional workload of catching up with the rest of the research team, who’d been with the project since its inception), with each day feeling more routine than the last, writing each post became a battle against my increasing lethargy, and one for inspiration.

A particularly hectic couple of weeks around the end of last year completely threw me off my blogging rhythm, and after a forced and frustrating week-long attempt to return to blogging in January this year, more exhausted and uninspired than ever, I decided that this side-project – one that had started so naturally from a desire for expression and creativity – needed to be put on the back-burner until that writer’s itch naturally returned.

A lot has changed since we last spoke: I have left my job; spent some time travelling around Scotland, visiting the highlands at last; met a lovely young Spanish lady, with whom I have developed an (albeit complicated at times) relationship; finished recording my debut solo EP; but most importantly, I feel rested, invigorated, and inspired once again.

So here I am, back at my desk, and excited to be writing again!

X.

Hey oh.

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Today I swapped my daily skate for a snowball fight!

Apparently I’ve not been paying close enough attention to the weather forecasts (actually, I haven’t listened to one at all for some time now…) because it was a complete surprise too! My colleague Alex and I ran out of the lab and after pausing for a couple of minutes to appreciate the snowfall (which despite not setting too well was fairly heavy) got straight down to business pelting each other with snowballs – a great way to let off some steam after a long day’s work.

There’s something so satisfying about sinking one’s fingers into fresh snow, even if it was the final blow to my already dry winter skin (my cold after-work skates don’t do my skin any favours), actually splitting open at the knuckles. Ouch. Between having had some fairly mild winters of late and having spent a few winters in the Caribbean it has been some years since I last saw snow, much less had a snowball fight, and sure enough they’re still as fun as I remembered – there are some things you just can’t grow out of!

Bizarrely my home, only 6 miles from the lab, appears to have missed out on all the fun, the roof of my car bringing the only snow to be seen in the area… Well, that and the half-melted remains of a snowball found in my jacked pocket upon arriving home. I’d like to say the snowball fight was a battle I won, but alas she got me. She got me good.

X.

AWOL.

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After a promising start, with 39 consecutive days of blogging, life forced me into a three week hiatus: between birthdays, Christmas, New Years Eve (here’s hoping 2017 is a good one!), and work (I only got two days off for Christmas and one for New Years), I have found any free time being eaten up helping my mum move house, entertaining guests, and have been otherwise preoccupied with a couple of serious medical situations that two people very close to me are unfortunately currently facing.

As succinctly put by Paulo Coelho,

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

And of late it has certainly seemed that life has presented me with the latter challenge… However, after 21 days without blogging I am back, and intend on picking up right where I left off – with daily blogs!

See you tomorrow.

X.

23!


Today I turned 23. The age nobody likes you when you still act like you’re in freshman year (according to Blink 182’s What’s My Age Again?, anyway). Jordan’s iconic jersey number. An isolated prime number, made of two consecutive prime numbers. The usual number of chromosome pairs in a human…

Whatever significance (or not) one may choose to bestow upon the number 23, if my 23rd year on earth can be even a fraction as good as my 22nd I really cannot complain. I was intending on writing a list of my goals and ambitions for the year, but in all honesty if I am fortunate enough to be blessed with another year of good health for my loved ones and I, I couldn’t ask for more.

I can’t wait to see what this year holds; onwards and upwards!

X.

Richmond.

Today I didn’t skate, but instead headed straight for the London Borough of Richmond after work, where I would spend my last evening as a 22 year old. I met up with my good friend Samantha at the station, and took off exploring the area! This evening was crisp but dry and clear, and so it was lovely to walk the streets and take in the ambience, catch up on life and have a laugh.

During our adventures we stumbled upon an amazing “games cafe” called The Library Pot that has hundreds of board games (over 450 unique titles) that you can pluck off the shelves at will and play with friends and strangers alike. Not only do they host several gaming events every single day (check their website for details), but if you get tired of playing around you can relax by dressing up in the many adult-sized costumes and accessories dotted around the shop, or by heading to their underground ball pit. Yup, they have an adult ball pit

This friendly little shop is definitely worth a visit, but if planning a trip it is worth bearing in mind that it has such a strong community that weekends now require a booking just to get in (via their site). I’ll definitely be back soon!

X.

Slam!

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Today, as I do everyday, I pulled my skateboard and spare shoes out of the boot of my car for a skate after work. The site has a plethora of brilliant skate spots, and it feels great to work up a sweat and get some fresh air in my lungs after a long day in the laboratory.

But today I want to talk about one aspect of skateboarding in particular: falling. For a long time I haven’t fallen off my board – not because I am brilliant, but because I had stopped pushing myself. When you do the same few tricks enough you both land them more consistently and learn how to land on your feet (once sufficiently familiar with a trick you can feel when a trick isn’t quite right and can kick the board away in time to land safely).

Having recently received official confirmation that I’ll be graduating my Master’s degree with a distinction, starting a new job, and with my first serious solo EP coming along nicely, my confidence is at an all time high. As a result, I am throwing myself at new tricks like never before. And honestly I have never had more fun on a board. The only downside to this approach to skating is that following a fairly lengthy hiatus (since bailing to avoid a bus when bombing down a road a couple of years ago) I have had a few proper slams again. In fact I did just that both yesterday and today.

Yesterday was rainy and wet, and an under-rotated hardflip put me on my back after landing “primo” (with the board on its side), whereas today I simply misjudged a backside 50-50 on a ledge and before I knew it was on the ground again. Falling is inevitable if you push your limits. Sometimes it pays to take the leap and commit, and sometimes you end up on the ground, but crucially you are still progressing and moving forward; sometimes knowing what went wrong leading to a crash leads to a breakthrough realisation that helps you figure out how to land a trick better than you ever could have worked out if it weren’t for that lesson, courtesy of the school of hard knocks.

And that’s just life. Of course, you could never try anything at all and therefore never fail, but what satisfaction would that bring? Whatever you do, whatever your dream, stick at it and work as hard as you can. If you should fall, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes, and get back at it like never before.

X.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

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“An astronaut!” eight-year-old me (pictured) would have told you…

… Or that I’d be a fire fighter, an inventor, a scientist, or a writer…

And I was at least partially right – I am a scientist, working towards inventing new cures for bacterial infections (I’ll admit this wasn’t the kind of invention I’d have dreamt of back then), and I do write all the time: research papers, songs, short stories, and now this blog too.

What I’m less sure of is whether or not I’ve “grown up” since. Yes, fourteen years have passed since this photograph was taken. Yes, I am now legally an adult. But some things haven’t changed: I still have a childish enthusiasm for trying anything new, for exploring anywhere new, and for learning; I never grew out of skateboarding, and it seems I never will; I still love Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and would still like to be a rock star. But most importantly, I’m the same happy little kid I was back then – as full of dreams, and as full of hope for the future.

I’ve had many ups and downs between then and now, and I won’t pretend things have always been easy. I could have done without many facets of high school, and without some of the unsavoury people I’ve met along the way. I’ve been hurt, disappointed, heartbroken, and at times desperately lonely. But what hasn’t killed me has made me stronger, and wiser – I’m now quicker to cut bad fruit from the tree, and quicker to let myself heal. I won’t repress my emotions, but also won’t let myself dwell on the past or things I can’t change (as I once did). I have learnt you do get what you give, and so now always give my all. And my ever-present existential anguish now serves to motivate me to seize the day, to live and love to my heart’s content, rather than keeping me up at night. I also never became I fireman…

 

Back then, my early twenties seemed impossibly far off, and boringly adult – as my thirties do now (and I hope to feel the same about my forties when I get there, too). Some of my friends complain of feeling stressed, tired and achey, bored of their lives, and burnt out, yet I feel as full of life and energy as ever. Life is beautiful, the possibilities endless, and the future still yet to be written. In the wise words of Conditions, “Youth is wasted on the young/ Life is wasted on the living ones” – I hope to never lose my youthful spirit, as time takes me ever further from the days of my youth.

And I still wonder what I’ll be when I grow up…

 

X.

What I’ve learnt from my first month of blogging.

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This is my thirtieth daily blog post (OK, so I posted one at 00:00, therefore technically a ‘day’ late), so to mark this modest milestone today’s post will be about my experience so far of blogging itself.

The first thing that occurs to me after a quick look back through my past posts is just how much it turns out I’ve had to say – my greatest concern when I committed myself to giving daily blogging a go, as a diary of sorts, was that I would find that I don’t really have anything to write about. And the more posts I write, the easier it comes – so far, so good – though the acid test will be how I fare on a less eventful month!

I have found that writing this blog has allowed me to reclaim writing for pleasure. Having just finished a postgraduate degree which culminated in writing, and re-writing, a paper (now due for publication in a scientific journal – so in retrospect worth the hard slog), the thought alone of writing had become enough to induce nausea, so it’s been wonderful to write for fun again, and for me again.

Another observation is just how quickly things can become routine if you want them to. Despite having a full time job, practicing guitar and skateboarding daily, and finding time to relax and socialise, I’ve not struggled to find a moment to write down some thoughts every single day. It’s funny that the more things I want to do, the easier I find it is to be organised – but then again, if I weren’t I’d get nothing done at all.

See you again tomorrow.

 

X.

All new everything.

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In some ways, the story behind my new skateboard set up seems a good analogy for life.

The build itself started when I ordered a spare blank deck (I love its simplicity and cleanness), and, either by placing my order carelessly or an error on the website’s end, instead of receiving a deck my usual 7.75 inches wide, I received an 8.25. I realise this may sound like nothing to a non-skater, but it does make a significant difference. I have no hardware suitable for this wide a deck, but instead of sending it back I took my/their mistake as an opportunity to experiment and try something new! That same morning I ordered new 5.5 inch trucks to match the deck’s width, and thought that while I was at it I’d order some 56mm A-cut wheels (monstrously enormous compared to the 50mms on my current deck).

In fact, I didn’t stop there, ordering new bearings and bolts too, to commit fully to an entirely new build. The truth is, as with many things in life, I had become very comfortable with my set up; I have been riding the same trucks for the last 6 years, the wheels for the last ten, and – whilst the boards themselves wear out and break – I have exclusively ridden 7.75s as long as I can remember (excluding one 8 inch early on that was too big for me, and a 7.5 years later that by then was far too small). Maybe I’ll love the new set up, and maybe I’ll hate it. But at least I’ll know, and I’ll have learnt something from the experience.

And this is true of all facets of life – leaving one’s comfort zone is a risk: maybe things will improve as a result, and maybe they won’t. Sometimes we may choose to leave that comfort zone, but too often we will choose the opposite, and it takes a mistake, surprise, or just dumb luck to force us out. Of course, a new skateboard set up is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but when changes in life are more significant there is also inevitably also more to be gained. After all, you have to move to move forward.

When life gives you lemons…

 

X.