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Month: September 2016

Until I Am Whole (Trip to Barcelona)

Until I Am Whole (Trip to Barcelona)

“I think I’ll stay here
Til I feel whole again
I don’t know when.”

The Mountain Goats – Until I Am Whole

Three references to cats in one photo. On brand.

So, it turns out the secrets to having a great holiday are:

  1. Go through utter hell during the months preceding it
  2. Feel too miserable to really acknowledge that the holiday is coming up
  3. Don’t plan anything
  4. Have no mobile internet

Barcelona was always the plan. When I got my current job, I promised myself I’d go there with Shannon for her birthday. 2 years ago her family paid for me to go to Greece – it felt like the right thing to do and also, I really wanted to go abroad with her again.

Life has been hectic for the past wee while. I moved across the city to live with an old school friend, I had hospital appointments and I really just had to try to get my shit together. I didn’t have time to get excited for Barcelona – it’d probably be shit, anyway BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS AND FUCK THIS YEAR.

So, when it was finally time to leave, I was so wracked with mental health issues and sheer exhaustion that I still wasn’t excited. I was just really sad. My mental health has really dipped, unsurprisingly, and I have been privately wallowing. I love silver linings but honestly, I’m a little tired of seeking them. I’m just tired.

Two bottles of prosecco, a chatty flight and some shared pretzels later, I was excited. And I was in Barcelona. There was a thunderstorm but I really didn’t care – I was in *in* Barcelona! After much kerfuffle and finding out that some streets in Barcelona have two names (not annoying at-all, promise), we finally made it to our tiny hostel room. It was plain, it was uninspiring but for the next three nights, it was a place to lay our heads.

Armed with gin and adrenaline, we settled onto our cosy balcony and looked out at the buildings surrounding us. Barcelona is beautiful. In the dark, in the rougher areas, it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anywhere like it.

barcelona

On our first day, we decided to go for a short walk, just to see the local area. Turns out that our local area was, in fact, Las Ramblas. A tree-lined market sprinkled with vibrant floral displays and on our first day, under a clear blue sky. It was so alive! Our “short walk” turned into 6 hours and before we knew it, we’d seen a massive chunk of Barcelona. It was all accidental, there was no itinerary and that is exactly what we both needed it to be, I think.

Aimlessly wandering around a gorgeous city with one of your favourite people is a really great way to blow cobwebs out, I’d recommend it to everybody.

I couldn’t share a lot on snapchat, instagram or any other social network. Nobody could contact me until I got back to the hostel. This used to be something that really freaked me out and caused intense anxiety but it was wonderful. Nothing home had to tell me couldn’t wait. I’d had enough news.

I wanted sunny skies, fruity sangrias and to be around people that understood me. Nothing else had to matter for a few days.

barcelona

I love Glasgow. More than anywhere else in the world, I love Glasgow. I needed to see another city, different friends, experience a world so separate to my own to really be able to come back and appreciate the life I have, even just for a little while.

The friends we went to visit have built their own lives, have their own tiny world that we were lucky enough to get a small glimpse of. From restaurants with unbelievable comfortable seats, to a tiny ice cream parlour even right down to their favourite delis and eating brunch (who am I?) with the friends they’ve made since moving there… It was so refreshing.

We found a fairytale themed bar, with stories in photo frames and tiny fairy pools. Dark and secluded, it was a stark contrast to the clear skies and vibrant colours but it was gorgeous. Another accidental treat. The other memorable bar was on a side-street from Las Ramblas. It was essentially a hole in the wall with four stools in front of it. Fake flowers, disco balls and Christmas decorations. It was every bit as tacky as it was dreamy. The barman made a promise that if I could guess where he was from, I’d get a free shot.

Italian.

Free shots all round.

barcelona-tiny-bar

After a night of homemade sangria, dinner cooked for us and a surprisingly tasty dip made of dried onion soup (honestly!), we only had one day left in beautiful Barcelona.

We had brunch, walked around the city centre and made the most of our final day. We didn’t do much sight-seeing but we did remember to always look up. It’s a great rule for most cities but especially Barcelona. There is so much beauty. So much.

City breaks are supposed to be jam-packed with activities, itineraries and early mornings. They’re supposed to be so much more than what we did but Barcelona isn’t a place you only visit once. I know that now, already.

Sometimes you don’t need to tick all the boxes, sometimes you just need a break from your own world.

I am a bit of a homely soul and I am usually happy to be coming home from holidays but this time I wasn’t ready. I cried quite a lot. My little corner of the Earth didn’t seem appealing to me, at-all. I just wanted to continue wandering aimlessly, accidentally stumbling on gorgeous architecture and becoming rosy-cheeked with sangria.

It was only a few days but I think being unplugged and without obligations really soothed my bruised soul. The reminders that the world outside of my own tiny bubble can be so beautiful gave me a new perspective and while I wasn’t ready to leave, I think that’s the best way to feel. I spent 3 days with people I really truly adore, in a gorgeous city and none of the memories are even slightly tainted. It was just a gorgeous way to come back to life.

Thanks Barca, thanks pals, I can breathe again. x

Recommended:

Hostal River for a cheap, basic hostel that is very clean and very central
Fabrica Moritz for affordable food, very comfortable seats and a lovely atmosphere (also cava sangria!)
Gothic Quarter for gorgeous architecture, interesting stores and a lively taste of Barcelona

 

A life of love

A life of love

In all the chaos, flurry and rage of the petty squabbles we find ourselves in, we forget about the people who love us. And loved us. And will love us.

A family friend died this morning. I knew it was coming, and I honestly can’t even remember the last time I saw Les but the loss was felt, deeply.

Les was probably the most wholesome person I’ve ever met. A friend to everybody. All I can remember is his smiling face. I was a shy child but I always ran across the playground to hug him. I just loved him. A truly pure love. He taught everybody in my primary school bike safety and was a very patient mentor. He had time for everybody and the kids loved him.

I told them we were related. He was my godmother’s dad. Close enough.

I speak of all the things I want to do with my life, the places I want to take my writing, the career I hope to have but deep down, like everybody else, I want a life of love. Les had that.

Les was adored. He was humble, he was kind, he was everything you think of when you think of a good person. His family is tight-knit and they are all his biggest fans. Sometimes you make waves not with controversy or hard work but by being the best version of yourself, wherever possible. Les taught me that.

It’s comforting to know Les died at an old age with no regrets. That he really did have a life of love. He died knowing he was loved and those around him never questioned it.

I’m learning over time that a happy life is more important than an exciting one. I’m not sure the story of Les’s life would be a bestseller but to those that knew him, the lasting memories will be filled with love, and laughter, and kindness. We take these things for granted but more often than not, they matter the most.

I am so glad I knew Les. I’m so glad I have the memories of him. He was one of the really special people that never quite leaves your skin and I’m lucky to have known him in such formative years. No matter how long it’s been, how far away I am or how much I change, Les and his family are part of my core.

Les didn’t want flowers, or money being spent by anybody. He didn’t want a fuss. Humble and dignified til the end. What he’s left me with, and what I hope I’ve conveyed to you, is an acknowledgement and understanding of what it is to have a life of love.

The little things don’t matter. Remember the people that created your core. And try to always be the best version of yourself, or at least the kindest version of yourself, wherever possible.

 

A letter to my 16 year old self (#GGBlogChallenge)

A letter to my 16 year old self (#GGBlogChallenge)

So, I’m trying to blog more often and decided hopping onto a 30 day blog challenge, 9 days into it, was the best plan. I’ve talked about my 16 year old self through my livejournal posts and I don’t actually want to keep revisiting her but I do like the idea of writing to a version of me that existed 10 years ago.

This particular challenge is the #GGBlogChallenge!

Dear 16 year old me,

Man, I laugh so much at you these days, sorry about that. Actually, do you even believe me? You’re not very good at laughing at yourself at the moment but I promise you, once you stop taking yourself so fucking seriously, it’ll change your whole life.

You are probably the most complex 16 year old I’ve ever known and I know at times that’s so overwhelming but it’ll serve you well in the next 10 years.

Cut your fringe. Cut your fringe. You look like an IDIOT. Just cut it. There are so few pictures of you I am willing to share because you are obsessed with wearing your hair in front of your eyes. You have your nan’s eyes, and they are beautiful. Let people see them.

Actually, while I’m on that, you look down a lot. You realised about a year ago that a lot of people don’t walk with their heads bowed but you do. I understand, and christ it’s awkward to look people in the eye or appear to be confident but you have a beautiful face, a kind soul and you’re even funny sometimes. You need to stop covering yourself. You need to stop hiding your eyes, stop hiding behind these silly personalities you’re conveying. Be you. You’re not cool but you’re you. You don’t even need to be cool. You won’t believe me but people these days actually proudly call themselves losers and geeks. I know. I know. But being cool isn’t everything, in fact, it isn’t anything. It means nothing.

You are brave, you are fearless, you are so unbelievably strong but you go weak at the knees for a boy that doesn’t see your worth. The first time you leave him, let it be the last. Just leave him. He doesn’t deserve you and you don’t deserve the emotional blackmail you receive every time you tell him you’re not happy with his actions. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, at-all, or be grateful for affection from anyone but especially not him. Love yourself. I love you.

While I remember. I went to see Fall Out Boy with Biffy Clyro a couple of weeks ago and Fall Out Boy blew my mind. Please stop pretending you’re cooler than them and just embrace them. You don’t like Fear Factory, you just don’t, stop pretending. I now regret not getting into them when I was your age because they are saying exactly what you need to hear.

Please don’t ditch theatre school. I know everybody is noticibly richer than you but you got in there on merit and it is such a wasted opportunity if you drop it.

Keep walking the dogs. Keep embracing the beautiful town you live in. Hide in the glens, stomp down the beach and sit by your favourite stream of water. You call them your thinking spots but I actually now consider them to be the places you were truly yourself. Donning your scruffiest clothes, not taking your mobile with you and just being away from the noise of the world quietens the noise of your head. I don’t miss the town but I miss that easy escapism and I really miss walking the dogs. It’s the healthiest coping mechanism you’ve used yet and I’m proud of you for making the conscious decision to find these hideouts instead of self-destructing.

You’re not very popular right now and I’m sorry to say this but it’s kind of your fault too. You can be a dick, too. I know, it’s not nice to hear but it’s important to acknowledge. Teenage years are difficult for everybody and friendships that can withstand them are friendships for life but don’t beat yourself up over not having many friends. You will one day. You meet your people, they’re worth the wait I promise.

There’s a really cool line by Amanda Palmer (yeah from Dresden Dolls!) that makes me think of who I am vs who I was when I was 16:

I still get laughed at but it doesn’t bother me, I’m just so glad to hear laughter around me. 

Finally, before I get too mushy, please don’t suppress your feelings, don’t be ashamed of being an emotional wee soul and don’t put on a tough act when you need to be shamelessly vulnerable. You are loved, as you are.

Anyway, that’ll do.

Love you lots

xxxx

 

Ramble on (moving day)

Ramble on (moving day)

Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way”

Led Zeppelin – Ramble On

F Scott Fitzgerald Fall Quote

So, today is moving day. Finally.

Autumn doesn’t actually start ’til later this month but it’s the 1st of September and to me, that indicates that Autumn is almost here and the fresh start that F. Scott Fitzgerald spoke of is well underway.

I’m really quite excited to be leaving my big purple house now. Just as I was getting sentimental about leaving, one headache came, and then another, and then another. Now that moving day is here, I’m just really excited to move into a lovely southside flat with an old pal. It’s a new adventure for me and the cats. A well overdue adventure.

There’s something really exciting about moving house and I should know – this is my 20th(!) move. The actual moving part is tedious, costs more than you expect and exhausting but once you’re in, it’s a fresh start. It feels as if you’ve just really turned a page and there are endless opportunities ahead.

The new walls surrounding you, the new area to explore, the nooks and crannies that all make up a home… they’re all yours for the taking! The last tenants only moved out yesterday, so I won’t have that ‘new home’ smell. I have, however, bought candles to make sure it smells fresh.

I even love the unpacking and finding new places for familiar belongings.

I am worried about settling my cats. Cats don’t like change. But I do.

Initially, I freak out. Initially, I wonder how the hell I’m going to tackle it.

Then I get excited. Despite being surrounded by boxes, and binbags, and a flat that still needs to be post-tenancy cleaned, I’m excited. I don’t know what’s ahead apart from a big flat and living with an old friend.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was right, wasn’t he? Life really does take on a fresh new start in Autumn.

(Please carry my books for me. I have five huge boxes. WHO EVEN NEEDS THIS MANY BOOKS?!)

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