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.

Poisoned!

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This blog is up a little late, but for good reason: I accidentally poisoned myself.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that I work in a laboratory, and it is here that I accidentally inhaled phenol fumes. Soon thereafter I began to struggle to focus on written words and verbal communications alike, becoming increasingly light headed. Being so close to the end of the day I battled through the final minutes of my shift but upon reaching my car to head home I recognised that I was in no fit state to drive, so called the NHS (the British public healthcare service) non-emergency number to ask for advice on how best to proceed…

Before I knew it I could hear sirens in the distance, and for the first time in my life they were coming for me. The ambulance staff were incredibly kind and well mannered, helping to keep me relaxed and even putting a smile on my face. They performed some basic tests to check my blood pressure, pulse rate, blood oxygen and glucose levels, before performing an ECG. Whilst my condition appeared to be stable, the specialist toxicology team with whom the ambulance staff were consulting requested that I be taken to A&E for further evaluation. As my workplace is outside my home county, and given my stable condition, the ambulance staff asked if I had a family member available that could take me to a hospital closer to my home – but that if not they would ask for permission to work within a different remit and take me there themselves.

I am blessed to have the mother I have. She had just received the keys to her new home, and had hardly taken a step inside when her phone rang, but not even twenty minutes later she pulled up next to the ambulance to take me to our local A&E herself. Despite the devastating effects phenol poisoning may present, after eight hours of constant observation, regular ECGs, several blood tests, and chest x-rays later I was discharged.

I am very lucky that the exposure I suffered lead only to mild intoxication and nothing more serious, but am glad that I took action when I did and didn’t try to just tough it out. There are times when it’s good to be a little tough, but sometimes you’ve got to know when to play it safe. May this serve as a reminder that you can never be careful enough when working in a potentially dangerous environment.

X.

 

POV BMX.

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Today I gave the birthday present I recieved from my parents, an Akaso EK7000 Action Cam, a little test run by jumping down a couple of small staircases near my home with the camera mounted to my bike’s handlebars. The camera shoots in stunning 4k resolution, but I reduced the quality to 720p HD to reduce the upload time. I will definitely be getting a lot of use out of this impressive little thing!

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.

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.

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.