Saturday, 22 February 2014

A year in the life.

A year ago today, I published my first blog post on here.

A lot has happened in a year.

I've had 6,393 views on my blog from 6 continents and 60 countries. I've written 45 posts on this site, but I've also written for Autostraddle, Thought Catalog, Bloomsbury, Total Film and of course Nouse. I've become Deputy News Editor for the campus newspaper! That's pretty groovy.

I've been on more dates this year than in the rest of my life put together. I'm yet to fall in love with a person, but I've fallen in love with some places - with Japan and its gentility and culture, but also with York and its winding streets and perpetually smoke-grey sky.

I've seen a little bit more of the world than I had before: there are now 10 more countries I've set foot in compared to this time last year, and I'm working on seeing even more countries by this time next year.

I've started university, made new friends and maybe lost a few too - but that's okay, because life is all about gaining and losing things.

I've shared my bed with many bodies and even my head with one or two people. I'm slightly officially insane, and the hyperbole makes me feel better - but so does one of my friends holding me in the middle of the night.

I've learned I'm not as smart as I think, but perhaps a bit kinder than I give myself credit for.

Am I a better person than I was a year ago? Probably. I still have a lot to work on though. I'm not as confident as I was, and I'm still self-centred and insecure and liable to flail uncontrollably when tickled. I still wear my bleeding heart on my sleeve and hold onto old grudges like scars and keep raking over the same old wounds, despite knowing how much it'll hurt, but I'm trying to be better.

That's it, I suppose. I'm trying.

Here's to another year of trying.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Will we stand for this?

Sometimes I find myself distracted from doing the things I should be doing - like reading George Eliot books and going to lectures on David Hume - by things that are marginally less important. I spend a lot of my life trawling the internet for places to try and do work experience, and it never goes particularly well.

I end up in rabbit-warrens of despair that all media work experience seems to fall into one of three categories:

1. Unpaid hovering

This is what all my work experience placements have technically been so far - turn up for a couple of weeks, watch people do things, try and be useful. I've managed to get a fair amount out of these though, from pretty much single-handedly generating a week's content for a magazine's website to interviewing a pop star. The problem is you don't get much hands-on experience, and usually expenses aren't paid. Even if I'm only commuting to London for a week, that still costs me about £80 in train fares.

2. Slave labour

The type where you get a job for three months with no pay and expenses only, and are expected to be grateful for the opportunity to do real work - and basically be a short-contract full-time employee - without any promise of further work, or actual help breaking into the sector. These are the sorts that annoy me the most. Science students seem easily able to get themselves paid internships over the summer, even with only a year's academic experience under their belts; but arts demand that you grovel for the chance to make a mediocre writer's tea for twelve weeks.

3. Misadvertised jobs

The final sort are the ones which advertise themselves as "internships". They are not internships. They are year-long schemes for graduate students which will probably end up with permanent employment. They are actual jobs, operating on a year-long contract, which eternally succeed in getting my hopes up, before dashing them - because I'm not eligible to apply to them for at least another two years.

All of these are kinda shitty in their own ways, but type 2 is the worst. Not only is it elitist, by shouldering out of the sector anyone who can't afford three months of unpaid work, but it also devalues the contribution of the interns.

As a kid, growing up, I was taught that if I worked hard in school then I would go to a good university, and if I worked hard at university then I would get a good job and be able to make money doing what I love, and that would be that. I realised at 16 that life doesn't work like that and I couldn't just walk into a job after graduating the same way my dad did. If I want to make my money writing, I have to do it for free, and for a long time. It's one of the only jobs I know of where that's true. 

Honestly, I will probably be a better writer by the end of my degree than I am currently, but it will have less to do with what I studied and more to do with the fact I've had an extra two years to hone my skills. As it is, I am probably a better writer than some graduates, because it is the thing I am good at - and there are going to be some high school students who are better writers than me, if that's the thing they are really good at.

I think we should just ban unpaid internships. Flat-out outlaw them. I'm sure I would be a valued member of your team, but why should I contribute as much as the snotty-nosed 24-year-old next to me when he's on £17,000 a year and I'm on £100 a week expenses?

The sad thing is, I know I'm going to do them. I want to challenge of working on real projects and getting my name in print beyond my brilliant student newspaper - but I also know I'm going to resent having a job and not being paid for it. Will we stand for this? No. But I might well sit at a computer all summer and type for it.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Adventure time.

I want to see the world.

I want to put into words everything there is.

I want to gaze at the northern lights in Iceland and dance under falling leaves in a New England autumn. I want to see the clouds from the other side at the top of a mountain and come face to face with whales in the sea.

I want it all - all the cultures, all the tongues I don't understand, all the new places and experiences. I can't understand why anyone wouldn't.

I've got itchy feet just thinking about it. There is so much of the world to see that we can't ever see all of it. But it feels like we ought to at least try.

I want to feel my heart thudding against my ribs as I abseil down a building. I want to drive across deserts of sand in straight lines for hours. Catch a train across Russia. Backpack through Italian countryside. Headbang at festivals. Gaze in wonder at the same stars in the same sky in all the different countries I can.

In the book he gave me for my birthday, my then-boyfriend wrote: "To settle down is to admit you've seen all the world has. Never stop travelling." He spelled traveling wrong - because what does spelling matter, compared to the jungle islands of Micronesia or temples in Jordan?

What's the world for if we don't try and see it?

That is why I don't have the money to go out this week. It's all in my bank account, saving up for posing in front of signs in Gangnam and visting the hells of Beppu over Easter. I can't wait.

There isn't much of a point to this, except that mostly I love how my university loan is going to be spent on going new places and having new adventures. There's no education better than trying to see the world, is there?

Monday, 10 February 2014

The meaning of life...

This is post #42 on my blog. Really, if I hadn't gone into radio silence between July and December, this day would have come a lot sooner: but, alas, the past is in the past. Unless Dr Who kindly lets me borrow his TARDIS - which, I should point out, has far better uses than being appropriated to retroactively update a blog - there is no way to change that. Anyway, the fateful day has arrived.


The meaning of life, the universe and everything.

Pretty big, huh.

And who am I, to speak on such a broad topic, you may ask?

Well, honestly, nobody. I'm just a person. But we all are, in the end. It doesn't matter if you're the CEO of a multinational corporation or a toddler drooling over a sticky spoon - we're all just people in the end. Made up of our relationships, experiences and memories. Some people have more of these than others. That doesn't necessarily mean they are more wise, interesting or kind, or any of those other lovely things we should all endeavour to be.

I don't know much. I've never been in love, never had a best friendship so strong it could shipwreck everything else, never achieved anything huge and miraculous that people look up to, never found anywhere I can definitely say I belong. I sort of muddle along, scared of everything and pretending not to be, laughing the loudest to cover up my insecurities... just like everyone else.

But I do know one thing. Well, really, I know many things, like Pythagoras' theorem and how to change a tyre and who Rihanna shared a cab with last night. But I know one really important thing:

Nobody can tell you the meaning of life.

It's not a piece of information that gets passed to you like a dictionary definition or instruction manual. The nearest thing I can work out is that we find our own meaning of life through our actions and interactions. We work on what we want and do what we must to try and forge meaningful moments. The worst thing I can imagine is being on my deathbed, looking back on my life and feeling like it was worthless. It's got to be worth something, doesn't it? The problem is, the only way life can be made meaningful is if you do it. Nobody else will do it for you.

I've written 42 posts on this blog now. Most of them are mediocre. A few are awful. A few might be good. Maybe one of them is brilliant. I suppose I'll just have to keep writing until I can consistently create things with meaning - and, even better, that maybe hold some meaning for the people reading them too.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


Natasha Beddingfield can fuck right off: if anyone can talk about getting bruised, then it's me. And no, I'm not talking in the metaphorical sense. I mean literally, physically, black-and-green actual bruises. If there are bruises to be had, I probably have them.

At the moment, I am quite impressively bruised. My bruise catalogue is as follows:

1x hickey, on my neck, from a night of necking in Willow. Reddish and almost invisible.

1x bruise on my left leg, circumstances unknown, but presumed to be from the infamous Party Harty. For reference, Party Harty was almost two weeks ago. This bruise on the outside on my thigh is roughly the size of my fist, presently brown, but has faded full the full spectrum of colours.

4x bruises on my right leg, circumstances also unknown. From their uniform colour (green) and similar locations (in horizontal bands up my shin and to the knee), I presume these are from walking into things - but again, I can't tell you for sure.

1x bruise on my right outer forearm, from either tree-climbing or my habit of shrugging a tote bag off my shoulder and catching it on my arm. Only perceptible because the skin still feels slightly tender, otherwise gone.

Admittedly, alcohol may have featured in a lot of these stories, but I have always attracted bruises, far more than scrapes or burns or cuts.
At ten I fell over constantly, laddering my tights and getting away with no bloodloss but impressive contusions.
At twelve I was so clumsy that the school nurse, seeing my multi-coloured arms, asked if "everything was alright at home." 
At fifteen I would come out of gigs looking like I'd been beaten up without ever going near the moshpits.
At eighteen a playful bite from a beau turned into a line of angry red marks on my tricep, which relegated me to wearing long sleeves for a week lest I explain it to my mother.

On Hallowe'en I was accidentally hit in the face, and wore an impressive black eye for two weeks until it faded into obscurity. My friends might have forgotten, but I haven't: there's still a small bump on my cheekbone where it healed funny, a permanent lump under my right eye.

I sort of like it, the way I sort of like all my bruises.

They remind me that things really happened, that I was really there, anchored in the material world. This is not to say I would ever put up with someone trying to hurt me - ain't nobody got time for that - but more that I understand accidents and incidents. Most are my own fault, from wandering around with my head in the clouds rather than staying grounded. On my more ephemerally dualist days, my bruises remind me my body is real and active and perfect. There is no good reason for me to bruise like this either: I have no blood disorders, and even my chronically-pale family members seem to have more resilient capillaries than I do.

Bruised emotions are another matter, and a story for another time. But, Ms Beddingfield, until you've managed to bruise yourself sliding downstairs to see your friend on New Year's Eve, or carelessly dropping an empty tin on your leg, or sneezing a bit too violently too close to a wall - don't talk to me about bruising easily. I'm like a fucking peach, and I might as well be proud of it.