Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Word Disaster...

It only happens once every few months. It always takes a moment to settle in- to really soak into your mind. But when it does, it sends chills right through you.
I’m talking about that moment when turn on the radio, the news or log into the BBC website and there’s a story that automatically grabs your attention- a story that you know is so much worse than any you have heard in a while.
It sounds like I am being really dramatic here, and maybe I am, but this definitely happened me today when I saw the headlines about the earthquake in New Zealand this morning. So yeah, you can see that this is going to be a bit of a serious blog today I’m afraid.
It was the figures of the 65 dead, the 300 suspected dead and the 6.3 magnitude that gripped me, and with friends in New Zealand at the moment it’s needless to say it sent chills of fear straight through me.
Looking at the pictures of huge buildings which are just completely destroyed- with roofs caved in and one storey collapsed on top of the other- it all seemed so massive. And the pictures of normal, everyday people being physically pulled from the wreckage, or crying at the side of the road made it all seem so scarily real and ultimately horrific.
It got me thinking, how could we ever cope with something like that here in Britain? While other people’s hometowns are being completely destroyed by earthquakes, the worst we have had to deal with in the past while has been a mere foot of snow at Christmas.
I think because of that we can’t fully understand how awful it would be to be caught up in something like that. We hear the words ‘natural disaster’ all too much that we probably get to a stage where we fully can’t grasp the actual ‘disaster’ behind it. We can’t imagine the carnage and destruction an earthquake, a forest fire or a tsunami would cause because most of us haven’t lived anything like that. All we can do is watch from our TV screens, maybe shake our head and add a “that’s just awful”- but never fully understand the trauma.
So, I’ll keep this short, because I know it isn’t the most optimistic of things to read. As clich├ęd as it sounds, I just wanted to think about how fortunate we are here sometimes.
 And I wanted think of all the people in Christchurch who have got caught up in this and somehow say that I don’t fully understand the meaning of the word disaster, but I am sorry that you now do.

Monday, 14 February 2011

St Valentine's Way...

It comes around once a year, kind of sneaking up unknowingly as it does. It’s in the shops, it’s all over TV. It’s not Halloween, it’s not Christmas…it’s not even my birthday.
 And in case the title and the very date today didn’t give it away- it is in fact, Valentine’s Day.
I am sure that many columns and blogs will be written about this today. Some will be for the day of love- outpouring the warm, cosy feeling that comes with knowing you are happily taken. But there will definitely be many against it- most likely the emotionally-void-spinster-type and the proud owner of multiple cats.
I’m sorry, but I am feeling I might fall under the latter.
It’s just that, for some reason Valentine’s Day has always had this way of either depressing me or intimidating me- mostly because I didn’t get over my fear of boys until I was about  16.
My first experience of Valentine’s Day came in the form of a handmade card from a boy in my class at primary school. It was clad in way too much glitter and tissue paper and was delivered by his best friend.  But more amusingly, it declared his infinite love for me at the tender age of 9 years old.
While that seems like a sweet and innocent gesture now, at the time it left me so scared of him I genuinely couldn’t look him in the eye again.
Secondary school was not really any better. The charities’ committee at school used to set up this Valentine’s event where you could send a plastic rose to the person you liked, along with a message about your general life feelings towards them. It meant that the morning of every February the 14th was the most tense of your entire school year. You knew that if those charities’ committee members came to your classroom and delivered roses to everyone but you, it was- officially- the end of your life.
I would like to say that now, several years on -with all those petty teenage insecurities in the past- that things are different. I’d like to say the dreaded 14th of Feb doesn’t intimidate me anymore. But with the unique smugness that only Valentine’s Day can have against a single girl, this just isn’t true.
Being a mere 19 years of age, I should be content with being single- the world is my oyster and there’s plenty of fish in the sea and all of that. So, why is it that St Valentine’s just has this horrific way of hitting me a big smug smack in the face?
I don’t know if it is the endless TV adverts and soppy music that get to me- or the plastic roses or the ridiculously over-glittered cards. All I know is that St Valentine has some sort of way or depressing and demeaning the single amongst us every year- when all we really want is to be left alone in our emotional void with our numerous cats.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Dreaded "My Passion"...

Being asked to write about "My Passion" brings me back to the dreaded days in school when you were asked to write an essay on your hobbies and interests.

It was in that moment you suddenly realised that in actual fact, you didn't have any. You didn't play sport, you couldn't paint and you didn't go horse riding or paragliding or do anything else at the weekend.

I was always the child left sitting at the table, chewing on the end of my pen, trying to decide on something I could suddenly be passionate about. But I was always left feeling like the totally uninspired nobody of the class- who had no hobby, no talent and just generally no personality at all.

But over the years I have began to realise that passion doesn't just come in the form of idle recreational activities- it can be any type of feeling or emotion on anything at all really.

So with that in mind, being the emotional, heart-on-sleeve type of girl that I am, I have realised that I am actually passionate about so many things.

But if I was to choose one in particular for that dreaded "My Passion" assignment, it would be the world. Simply, the world.

At this point it seems like I am going reflect over some life changing experiences from a recent gap year, when I travelled the world to find myself or something - but I never took that gap year. I never went trekking in the Andes, surfing on Bonzai beach or elephant riding in Thailand.

Although anytime I have been lucky enough to travel, I have always been so fascinated by anywhere that wasn't home. I love the feeling of being in a place you do not know, where every one's day to day life - which is so different from yours- is the most intriguing thing ever.

I love being surrounded by different languages- being right in the middle of a place that doesn't understand you, and you don't quite understand it either.

I love the sights of other countries- the way even a simple street will still seem so foreign and different because it won't be one you have seen before, and it will always differ from any other in the next place you visit.

I could go on to describe every place I have ever been in every country I have already travelled to, but I won't do that right now.

At the moment, I am just happy to have realised that I am no longer that boring, uninspired child sitting with a pen in my mouth and no feelings on anything. I am just happy to realise that all those thoughts and feelings I have on the world and on life in general- they are my passion. And there is certainly going to be a lot more of those posted here in the near future...