Podcast: On Tattoos 1/6 – My tattoos and their meanings.

The first podcast in a six-part series, On Tattoos, has just gone live on Anchor, iTunes, and Google Play.

Check out the gallery below to see my tattoos as I tell the stories of getting them and discuss their meanings in the podcast.

 

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My first tattoo, a dragon with cherry blossom by Kanae.


My second tattoo, a mandala by India Amara.



My most recent tattoo (and ongoing work), a peony sleeve by Damien Rodriguez.

If you can’t wait for more tattoo talk, why not check out Kanae, Damien, and India, read this old post from the EYT archives, and remember to follow this blog and subscribe to the podcast on your platform of choice to keep up to date with the rest of the series over the coming weeks!

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Everything You Thought blog! (What’s the deal?)

Just under a year ago I decided to take the plunge and jump head first into blogging. I set up a blog because I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading blogs, and for a couple of months I posted daily (if you want a trip down memory lane, check it out). I started out writing about whatever had gone on that day, how I was feeling, or what was on my mind, and I loved it. At first.

I fell into a new job, which despite seeming promising as I sat with contract before me (not my dream job, but putting that BSc to good use and paying as well as someone freshly graduated could possibly ask for), presented long and thankless working days, expectated to work far beyond the contracted hours for no overtime pay, beside tired and grumpy colleagues living in constant terror of being fired. I was back living between my parents’ homes in the town all my closest friends have left (it’s too expensive to live in on a starting salary, so unless you’re happy living at home you’ve got to fly the nest). I became exhausted and demoralised. It became increasingly difficult to find something new to write about every day as I had when I started (my intention was to write a “daily vlog” – yes, I love watching those on youtube – style blog). This only served to make me aware that I was working more and more, and living less and less. Things got in the way and I’d miss a post, then have to write two the next day. It became stressful. It sucked.

I now find myself, around a year later, in a similar position, but this time I’m doing it right: I’ve recently been through some selection interviews and am hoping to start a new job, but I’ve taken my time applying to hundreds of dream jobs, ones could imagine enjoying and would like to try (no more taking any old thing), and only in locations I’d like to live; and I really want to blog again, but am setting realistic goals this time and have a focus in mind this time (I’m not doing anyone else’s shtik, but my own thing). I still love listening to and making music, taking photos, watching movies, reading, exploring, skateboarding, but a lot has changed, too. I’ve taken time to travel, spending the last four months abroad taking photos and giving myself a real holiday; I’ve taken the time to visit and catch up with my extended family and some old friends living abroad, many of whom I hadn’t seen for years; and I’ve finally knuckled down and polished off my debut EP, going ahead and releasing it independently earlier this summer (more about that later).

My plan for the blog is to focus on the things I love the most: music, photography, film, skateboarding, and science. This isn’t to say I won’t talk about anything else, but most things in my life relate to one of these five topics in one way or another. My plan is to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, plus an audio podcast on Saturdays. This should permit me the time to produce quality posts even once I’m working full-time again, and to avoid falling into the trap of trying to think of something completely new to write about each day.

So, I’m back, and here to stay!
See you on Wednesday,

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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!

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Everything you thought?

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I’m everything that you thought, ’cause I’m everything that you’re not.

 

Where did it come from? What does it mean?

The line is from the song “Stubborn Love” by Seaway, a Canadian band I’ve been listening to since discovering their music sometime during my first year of university, around four years ago. As for what it means, I obviously cannot speak on behalf of the band, but the beauty of music is that it invites everyone to interpret it in their own way. This is what it means to me.

First, a little context: I began this blog shortly after the end of a six year relationship, following which this song (already a favourite from their best album – in my opinion, anyway – Colour Blind) took on a new meaning. I have always liked how the song is energetic despite tackling complex emotional content, but it is how the lyrics capture the topsy-turvy roller coaster of emotion that I have been through following the break up that has given the song such significance during my healing process. One such example is the contrast between the chorus line “Cause tonight your hair falls around your ears / And it makes me want to stay”, later inverted upon its final repetition; “But tonight your hair falls around your ears / And it makes me want to leave“.

But it’s the line that I took inspiration for the blog’s name and tagline from that touched me most deeply; my ex and I always seemed to be opposites in most ways, and yet so compatible. It could have been easy to fall into a pattern of thinking in which I saw myself as no longer whole, or broken, but this line always reminds me to never forget the things I have to be proud of and love about myself – not only my strengths, but also the positive things that I brought to the relationship – instead of only focusing on what I’ve lost.

And so, that simple line became my personal mantra at my lowest moments; for I lost someone special and unique, but so did she.

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“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…

 

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First day!

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Today couldn’t have gone any better.

I feel absolutely exhausted, and my brain feels ready to burst with everything I’ve had to take in today – where things are in the lab, who’s who, how to work various new pieces of kit, and all the tidbits of information thrown at me throughout the day – but the work is exciting, the environment stimulating, and I couldn’t ask for nicer colleagues. It’s going to be tiring, and it’ll be tough at times, but it’ll also be fulfilling and absolutely fascinating!

I’m so grateful that this opportunity has come my way, especially so early in my career, and I look forward not only to my time in this role but also the many doors I am certain this experience will open in the future. Most of all, it feels very satisfying to know that the continued effort throughout my studies – long days in the library, and nights spent studying when I’d have rather slept – have paid off.

Yes, I’m just a cog in a much greater machine, and no, I won’t be rich or famous, but I’m still living a lifelong dream and am exactly where I want to be. And that’s enough for me…

… For now, anyway.

 

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No more bad days.

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This morning the sun came out, and it even stayed dry. England hasn’t seen this bright a day for a long time, so obviously I headed out to the local skatepark to make the most of the weather. The photograph with this post is actually from around a month ago – I forgot my tripod today so couldn’t get a good photo – and unfortunately doesn’t nearly do today’s weather justice (though it was taken at the same skatepark, if nothing else!).

Today’s efforts were mostly focused on manual pad, ledge, and rail tricks, and I had one of those sessions where things seem to just work – the cherry on top of an already glorious morning. The park wasn’t completely deserted either for a change (though the others there were riding scooters, but you can’t always have it all). The only negative this morning was that I had intended on trying to fastplant over the larger ledge from the manny pad (which I have always thought would look awesome), but completely forgot once I was at the park. But there’s always tomorrow…

The session’s highlight came in the form of an epiphany on my skate home. I realised the only difference between today and any other of late is that the skies were clearer than they have been for a while: I had nothing special planned for the day; temperatures have actually continued to drop, despite the brightness of the day; and there were more job applications waiting to be done when I got home. It occurred to me that I had essentially chosen to be happy, and justified it with a minuscule factor that is completely out of my control anyway. But there needn’t be a justification for feeling good, and I have vowed from now on to cut out the middleman and choose to be happy just because.

After all, nothing makes a day good like having a good day.

 

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The big smoke.

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Yesterday I met up with an old university friend I haven’t seen for well over a year. We met at one of my all time favourite spots: London’s South Bank – home of the legendary skate spot, the London Eye, all sorts of restaurants, concert venues, and markets (with Christmas markets now in full swing despite it being November). Being situated on the river, which at this point of its course is somewhere in the region of 250 to 300 metres wide, the South Bank is permitted a feeling of openness seldom felt in cities as crowded as London.

 

It was nice to wander about, catching up on life whilst taking in the hustle and bustle of the city. I have to admit that London always looks beautiful decked out in all its winter finery (if a little ridiculous that Christmas decorations should have gone up already). We had no plans beyond when and where to meet, but the magic of London is that even an impromptu day out is never dull; it is a city with opportunities for fun and adventure around every corner. The evening took us through the Christmas markets at the South Bank before crossing the river to explore Westminster’s bustling streets, starting with Leicester Square’s Christmas market and street performers, where Tina then had her first ever casino experiences at Casino at the Empire and the Hippodrome. We then nipped around the corner to Orbital (where I picked up some of the new Karnak comics I’ve been keen to read) on the way to my first ever Five Guys meal (pretty good, if a little expensive for a fast food joint – though paid for by my casino winnings). Once stuffed we sauntered through Covent Garden, always bright and lively (and nostalgic – particularly taking a gander in my childhood favourite Eric Snook’s), and on down to the South Bank to take in the river by night before heading our separate ways (though hopefully not for so long this time).

 

My recent adventures in London have stolen me away eastwards to the streets of Shoreditch, Islington, Mile End, and Peckham, so it felt great to be back in the stomping grounds of my youth: The City of Westminster. This is, of course, also the part of London most tourists come to see. There is much more to London than this little pocket of the heart of the city (making up only 0.01% of London’s total square mileage), but a little pocket that punches well above its weight, boasting some of the country’s finest palaces (including the Palace of Westminster and the Queen’s humble abode of Buckingham Palace), squares (Trafalgar square anyone?), and gardens (Hyde and St. James’ parks amongst others), as well as being home to “Theatreland” (the West End), some of London’s most famous shopping streets (such as Oxford and Regent streets), and an endless number of other landmarks, museums and galleries, and other attractions. If you’re going to explore London it’s certainly a good place to start.

 

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