Radio Show Glasgow Adventure Time

Hey Hey Guys!!

Today has been a good day.

I had my first ever Radio Show, What’s Up With Gem?, on www.radiocaley.com, I got some life changing news and I saw (potentially) the love of my life. Yeah, y’all heard it! I’m making it  more than FBO; I’m taking that s**t to the BLOG!!

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

So today I have a lot to be thankful for. It all started this morning, early (too early for my student brain to get it’s tiny little temperament around, if I’m honest). My doctor gave me the news I’ve waited 106 days to hear. I literally skipped down the corridor from his office with glee that would make McKinley High School proud.

Then I got an email from Scotcampus (shout out, by the way!! Follow them dudes on twitter!!) saying that they would like to meet me for an interview for an internship! At a magazine! A real one, not just one that is online! I was about this excited last time this happened, with Source Magazine pity that one didn’t quite go as planned…

Then I had my first show on Radio Caley! Well wasn’t that something! Honestly, it was great. I’ve been on the radio before but I have never hosted my own show. Now, I have one every Tuesday! On my way to Uni (where the studio is) I passed by a girl busking. But she wasn’t just busking. Oh no, she was busking my first song!! FLEETWOOD MAC, GO YOUR OWN WAY!! This lovely lady was playing it 🙂

Lovely Busking Lady

Lovely Busking Lady

I saw a man playing a violin while on a tightrope… so that was a thing… (see above) Pretty standard practice on Buchannan Street, to be fair…

I bumped into an old friend on my way to the studio (which was lovely) then I got to present my show with one of my best friends as a guest, which was such a relief! He’s far more technically minded than me and fixed all my little (*ahem* potentially disastrous *ahem)* technical hitches without a thought. Which I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do without him. Because I am so technically challenged it’s legendary. ( The tech guys in uni won’t let me borrow equipment without a tutors’ say… I try, guys, I really do…)

On the show there was a major topic I wanted to discuss. For the past 4 years I’ve been heavily involved in the Mental Health services of Scotland, mainly as a patient, but also as a volunteer. It’s a subject close to my heart because it’s affected not only me, but my family and friends, as an extension. I’ve been going through what my dad describes as “a little blip”, but what my psychiatrist would probably call “the reason he has a job“.

mentalhealth

I’m not sure I’m 100% comfortable revealing exactly what I’ve been going through, but I’ve hinted at it in previous posts. My point is, though, that this is Mental Health Awareness Month an I am a survivor. I’ve been through the worst (twice) and now, look. I survived. I’m back at Uni. I’m (hopefully) going to be interning at a magazine. I’m on the radio. There were only 5 listeners but still! That’s 5 people who I hope have been enlightened a little bit, amused, heartened or even just mildly entertained. If one of those 5 got any kind of enjoyment or education from my heartfelt statistics, then I consider that, job done.

What could have, and with my luck might well have, been a catastrophic black hole of a day, was actually something rather wonderful. I’m cherishing this day because there are so few like it for me. There are so few days when things actually go relatively to plan. So often there is something that plagues me, that s**ts all over everything, no matter how hard I try. I neglect self care because if I don’t love myself, then I can’t be disappointed when I receive no love in return.

Keeping it real

Keeping it real

I don’t seek attention, I seek to attend to others. But now, maybe it’s my turn. Maybe I will get the chance to be happy. So I’m going to work hard to make that happen.

SSDD

We Can’t Handle the Truth?

So, people can’t handle the truth? Really? Let’s investigate that, shall we??

Wise words, my good man, wise indeed...

Wise words, my good man, wise indeed…

People can handle the truth. People are designed to be able to handle anything life cares to throw at them. The question is, are they ready at the time to handle what’s being thrown at them.

There comes trying times in everyone’s lives and it is how we deal with challenges that form, not only our futures, but how we see ourselves as competent individuals, and how others judge us according to their own standards. Fair? Probably not, but that’s the way it is. People judge themselves more harshly than anyone else ever could. We are all our own harshest critic.

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And who’s to say that just feeling good about your decisions is enough to convince the world? The world doesn’t know your motivation. Doing something you deem admirable might make you feel good, but can you be assured that Joe Bloggs passing by will know the strength it took to achieve a thing they might see as trivial? That’s the hidden challenge of the equation – you are not only faced with your own moral dilemma, you are faced with having to accept the assessment of others, regarding how you handled it. And resist the urge to wrap you hands around their throats if they disagree with you.

Yet, the biggest struggle can be when your head is so full of other stuff that you cannot see that all important truth. It is now that someone else must be employed to help you see what your occluded mind won’t let you.

you have the truth in the palm of your hand, the question is, can you find it??

you have the truth in the palm of your hand, the question is, can you find it??

We’ve all had the feeling; that almost deja vu like sense that something is missing, something is just not right. That feeling stops us seeing what’s really there. Hallucination is maybe too strong a term, but certainly, there is a cloud there. A veil, preventing the truth from being revealed to our desperately seeking minds eye. Does that mean we’re not “ready” to understand? Not necessarily. And that should be the decision of the individual. It shouldn’t be left to another to decide whether gently patronised is a better temperament than fully informed. Perhaps that individual who cannot see is not looking for pity, or sympathy, or compliments, or naive reassurance. Perhaps they are asking, pleading for help. Wanting another to act as their eyes in a time when sight evades them.

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Key to finding that all important truth in our lives is simple. To get into our own heads, we must first get out of them.

“…a simple trip to the beach can be all it takes to clear out heads and open out hearts, and write a new ending to an old story…”

We first have to want to get help.

“…there are those who got burned by the heat. they just want to forget and start over… while there are others who want this moment to last forever…”

But in the end, isn’t fact, better than fiction? No matter how bad life gets, it is never the best option to live in a fantasy, especially not one of ones own creation. As comfortable as you dream world may be, as easy and safe as you self-imposed bubble may appear, remember; your head knows all the pitfalls. There is no hiding in a land born solely from our imagination. Sure, it may seem to be a haven bathed in golden light and peace and only simple, easy explanations for everything, but – if the sun can shine in such a place, then that sun can cast shadows. And, given enough time, they will find you.

“…tans fade, highlights go dark and we all get sick of sand in our shoes… so we find ourselves looking to the future…”

It takes bravery to admit any truth. Let’s not forget that.

brave-b5b2d44cc2393aa2c9b1a7ede7dba601_h

 

SSDD

I Left It To You… Then I Went With Her…

I Left It To You… Then I Asked Her.

(click above to link to original post!!)

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I got in touch with the person about whom I was going to make a post. We had a really honest, open conversation and… She was open to the idea! 😀 Just not right now.

There was a condition attached to my posting the piece – that I post it, just not right now. The pictures of her are from a time in which soul deep wounds were inflicted upon her. She feels that it is important that the picture I have, and some others she intends to give me, are put out there at some point, as a point of reference for others who have suffered as she did.

But for now, the wound is too raw. So raw it bleeds. I showed her the words and she liked that they were not “jazzed” up, not “glitzed” for the sake of softening a difficult topic. It is the truth.

And when she is ready, I will be the mouth piece for her story.

Blogs are a wonderful thing. They give voices to the mute, give freedom and expression to those who feel the manacle-like grip of adamantine bonds. It is this that she is waiting for – her cue that she’s ready.

Right now she is working on breaking free from the bonds that bind her to those pictures. When she does, she’s going to need an outlet for that re-newed energy and life. Apparently, that’s going to be my job.

So if you want to hang around with me til then, I’m happy to have you. I’ll be ranting and raving on here til my hands are too arthritic to press the keys, at which time I’ll get some fancy pants computer that can be controlled with my eyes, and I’ll be shoving my opinion out there still! No getting rid of me. I just decided that in this case, it is best to help her heal, than to increase the Blogosphere. Hope you understand.

Let me know – do you think I made the right decision?? Love to know what you think!

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SSDD

I Brought My Own Coffee, Thanks

There is a major problem with office workers.

How the hell they expect someone to survive in an office environment with crap instant coffee is utterly beyond me.

This was the predicament I found myself in recently, when I had two days work experience at my local paper. Now this post is in no way to be considered poor reflection on those fine wordsmiths at the Greenock Telegraph – which, in case you hadn’t heard, is in fact the finest local newspaper in the West Coast of Scotland – no, in the whole of Scotland! (and if that isn’t a claim worthy of the Sun then I don’t know what is) It is merely meant to reflect my utter admiration for people who work under stressful conditions – without super quality caffeine on an IV.

When I began my two days I knew roughly what to expect since I had spent some time there before. I felt prepared.

So this time, when I walked through those double doors at 9:30, I did not feel such an amateur. I slid in front of my very own computer booth, tapped in my personal log-in and snapped on my secretary-come-secret agent headset. Reporters notepad on desk, pen in front pocket and handbag stocked with reporter-like things tucked at my side, ready to be grabbed at the click of my editors fingers.

Everything was going well as I spent the morning fashioning nibs from local ads (what we in the industry call those little fillers at the side of the page that tell you of local events and whatnot). It was only when my trust-me-I’m-a-journalist shirt began to feel just a little chilly, that I noticed the other warning signs. The thirst. The headache. The tightening around the eyes that seemed to spread to my jaw. Eventually using a slightly shaking hand to straighten my short-in-a-sexy-yet-sensible-way skirt I had to admit it – it was coffee time!

10:30am. Damn it. I had hoped to make it til at least 11 before I let the caffeine get the better of me but hey, strong coffee is a mark of a true journalist, right?

But when I get to the tea room, I was a little… disheartened. Not so much disappointed, that would be too much. But my heart swelled a little at the sight before me, and not in that joyful way it sometimes does, more in that way that tells you something awful has happened but that your too pumped with adrenaline to appreciate it.

There was coffee, sure. And it was instant, which is fine, more than fine, it’s great. But it was the second most intolerable instant coffee known to man. It was that dreaded fiend, Tescos own brand. Not even one of the decent ones that tasted just like the good stuff but a slightly more aerated colour in a different jar. It was that rubbish that takes two spoonfuls to have a taste, two more to just about bear some morose resemblance to coffee. And the worst part – it was decaf! I know, I felt it too; the horror. I mean for goodness sake, why even bother drinking something characterised by its potentially heart disease creating key ingredient in favour of a version which might boost you concentration a tiny bit more but has only been so far proven to do in mice!? I can think of other kinds of murky water that could well have the same effect and probably taste about the same!

This sad scene put something of a dampener on my morning, but I was not prepared to let it beat me; so I had three more before noon and by then, things began to look significantly brighter.

I have nothing against the humble instant coffee; I drink cups of the sweet brown nectar everyday (black, two sugars, if you’re interested), and I did feel so suave and journalisty sitting in front of my pile of half read dailys, shorthand notes and copy print-outs. The steaming mug to my right was the perfect addition to my completed look; keen young reporter at work, disturb and face her cutting wit. Even the glasses perched half way off the end of my nose since I wouldn’t see the computer screen from the ridiculous distance it was stationed away from me made me appear somehow like I fitted my situation. (whoever sat at that desk before me must have been the most long-sighted fellow ever to have lived, by the way, and I think they superglued that tower to the flippin’ desk because for all my efforts, it would not move closer)

But be serious. I am only 19 years old and while yes, I may have acquired an unhealthy addiction to strong coffee at a young age, the rest of the people in that office were there every dayDrinking that stuff.

I knew I would be flagging after two days of that. My means of remedying a potentially embarrassing situation?

I brought my coffee, thank-you very much.

That’s right, in a sandwich bag. I brought enough of my favourite from home to last me the day and low and behold, my two days ended marvelously. I had a couple of pieces submitted for the paper for the rest of the week and went on my merry way, even with the promise of future days work to come.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I would like to take this opportunity to impart these words of simple wisdom to you: If you work in an environment where concentration is key, make sure you are well stocked in whatever you need. Be that cigarettes for the nicotine addicts out there; biscuits and bananas for the diabetics, as I can only assume Eric, who had the desk next to me must have been since for all the time I was there the man never stopped snacking yet was not fat; or in my case, decent coffee. Make sure you have what you need and it will give you the confidence and the focus to enjoy the experience more.

See you in the headlines!!

SSDD

To Ink Or Not to Ink (1)

Arty. Dangerous. Creative. Cheap. Meaningful. Unprofessional. Individual.

Everyone has an opinion on tattoos, whether they are something to be admired or abhorred or even if we should have them at all.

But admit it – you want one too.

my friend’s gorgeous tattoo on her ribs 🙂

I’ve been contemplating getting a tattoo for some time but there have been a couple of things stopping me. For one – that shit is expensive! Like, they can cost a small fortune! I was shocked that my friends rose tat on her wrist cost as much as it did at £55 and I almost had a heart attack when I was quoted £85 for one word with some “swirlies” (genuine tattoo artist’s term for what I described as “a design”) placed on my foot.

 

Considering the fact that you are placing a huge amount of trust in someone who may well be a complete stranger to decorate you,  this might seem a small price to pay. Also not to be forgotten is that you are the one who will be the one stuck with the result if they get it wrong (good luck getting out of that one; they can cost £3000, six sittings and an entire year to have removed) With this in mind, I don’t mind paying quite a lot for one considering it’s going to be on my skin forever, so long as it’s done well. But it was a surprise to me that it would be quite that much.

Other than the money issue there is the fact that my parents are among those who do not like tattoos (so their actual words were “if we ever found out you had a tattoo, we’d kick you out.” Seem harsh? Think I’m joking? Unfortunately, I know for a fact they are not, that threat has been brought out for less than a little ink…)

I admire people with body art as I think it is a very unapologetic way of showing your artistic side. Even if a tattoo is hidden from view the majority of the time, I don’t feel that matters. You have still had the courage to pick a design and have it permanently imprinted onto your skin. You are making a commitment as well as a proclamation. It is independence and power over oneself.

ethnic style feathers behind the ear

To have a tattoo of any kind is bold and brave, no matter what size it is. There is no-one else in the world who will have that same mark, in that same place, because it is impossible to create the same piece twice, especially on someone’s skin. You are marking yourself as an individual – literally!

From something as modest as a tiny butterfly covered by layers of clothing, to a full body suit on show for the world to judge, a tattoo is something purely yours. From a sentimental heart or miniscule star to a steam punk sleeve or bushido back piece, it is your choice, your style, your decision. There is nothing that can take it away from you.

large, intricate back design. must have been painful but I think worth it

little butterflies

pin-up style tattoo

As a resolute supported of freedom and emancipation of all kinds, you might be able to see the attraction of an inked reminder of the only true aim I have in life: to achieve a mental state of complete freedom, whatever that might be.

Stay tuned for more on this decision and I will post if/when I finally pull the trigger…

I should mention that I have set myself a date of 12th August and by that time I wish to have a tattoo. There is not particular reason other than I told myself many years ago when I decided to get one that I would while I was still 18. It only just occurred to me that I am very soon going to be 19. Bugger.

 

Knowledge of the Problem Does Not Free the Oppressed

Homeless Hero

The old clique says “knowledge is power”. But there are times when knowledge and whatever liberation supposedly comes with it, are not enough to give freedom to your speech.

When someone is suffering it is the base instinct of any morally aware person to want to extend the helping hand of the more fortunate to them. Yet that is precisely the problem; want to.

The action to follow the desire does not always come. It is not always something achievable. There is often something stopping you aiding a person. It may be that you have the tools to improve their situation. Maybe you are the only one who can.

Then that wall comes rushing at you and suddenly you’re stopped; words crumble to dust and silence in your mouth, your tongue becomes nothing more than a pointless lump in an empty cave.

So, for whatever reason, your snaps shut and the right words die. Instead, the thoughts fire through your mind and fill it with electric little snaps, desperate flashes of all the things you wish you could say, but can’t and so must suffer alone.

Sometimes the barrier is created socially.

Maybe you are walking down the street, spot a homeless person and are about to give them a fiver when a companion makes a comment about how hobo’s are in such situations because of something they themselves are responsible for; either how they have no-one to blame but themselves or how their system is corrupt and they are actually faking poverty and being paid a bomb. Such capitalist tales are not uncommon, after all. Corporate fat cats praying on the good will of others by creating a twisted circle in which the genuinely needy miss out on their meagre hand-outs.

The hand in the pocket slips past the loose change and pulls out a luxury item – perhaps a phone – instead.

Guilt crossed with a determination to fit in, enforced by that companions rant will make that phone feel like it weighs a tonne; but your apologetic grimace (if you can even muster it) will not keep that poor person warm at night, not will it fill their empty belly.

And the worst part? That person, while sitting on the coldest, lowest wrung of society with exactly zero to their name, will probably look right back at you and understand. Probably even thank you on your way by, wish you a pleasant day. And you had better go and try to have one, because it can be sure as hell guaranteed that they won’t.

No matter how much you know you deserve their angry screams and hateful diatribe, no matter that the phone in your hand could probably feed them for six months, none of it will come. Because they will know why you stayed quiet.

Columnist for the Independent, Laurie Penny, stated in an article in last Sundays edition that she once gave “a homeless man half a Lucky Strike out of my own mouth”. However, placed in said situation, would she still have been able to execute this desperate level of charity, an act on the overwhelming urge to do something?

That wall of conformity has meshed with the collective responsibility to keep it that way and a cowardice to change that attitude has spawned.

Our only hope is that somewhere along the line we can collect enough common sense, or even the common decency that we share between us, and liberate the knowledge of what is the human thing to do, to act in the instincts of kindness that we all feel to some extent, from the restrictions that are sadly crushing the community of our society.

 

Lent (1) Intro

About a month ago I was speaking to some friends when an interesting opportunity presented itself. We each decided to give things up for Lent and I will document our progress here over the next 40 days
 
 
Having only known each other since September, when four of us met on the first day of Uni, none of us really knew anything of each others beliefs. For some reason, the subject had never come up in our lunch breaks or over drinks. I wonder why… Oh yeah, coz we were too busy partying!!… I mean, studying… obviously… 😛
 
I’m more agnostic than atheist, but basically I don’t follow any religion. I’m not in complete denial that there might be something out there though. This view, it turned out, was shared by two of my friends, Gillian and Phoebe. We’ve all had our own experiences of religion and we’re old enough now to be able to come to our own conclusions.
 
But enough of that! Totally separate issue.
 
However. With Irish heritage and having been raised inGlasgow,Shannonhad been raised a strict Catholic. She was enlightening us ignorant and undecided whelps on the truth of what it really is to be a Christian. (coz honestly, after hearing her speak of Catholicism, we realised we really didn’t have a bloody clue! That was quite humbling)
 
It was really quite inspiring and touching to hear someone speak about a faith that has been so slandered in the press in recent years with such passion and total commitment. She explained to us how frustrated she was with the misconceptions of Catholicism people have these days, all because a few of the shadier aspects were picked to pieces by the press. Even though we are, all four of us studying to be a part of that world, it did make me think that often people and subjects may receive an unduly bad rap.
 
 
Everybody has their dark side, it is a reflection of the faith they follow. But that doesn’t mean something is rotten to the core. It just means that you should try to isolate that darkness, fight it into submission by flooding it with light. As some smart cookie once said, “We need darkness to prove the light”.
 
***
 
Anyway…
 
Gillian and I decided to set a challenge.
 
Lent is a Christian tradition where, on Ash Wednesday, you give up something for the 40 days and nights preceding Easter Sunday. This day comes immediately after Shrove Tuesday, but in true heretic fashion, most people know it as Pancake Day. There is some story to do with Jesus and the crucifixion and his rise from the dead and a massive boulder or something… But no one really cares about that when the sickly sweet and delicious scent of fresh pancake is being wafted under your nose so, Pancake Day it is!
 
Now, I write these here words and confess to you, hand on heart… My name is Gemma, and I am a coffee addict. XD
 
Gillian thought that an interesting and productive use of her time would be to use me as her glorified lab rat – an experiment into the effects of caffeine withdrawal in a teenager. 40 days without coffee. 40!
 
Faced with the daunting prospect I counter struck with a vicious blow – give up junk food. All of it. Unhealthy snacks, take-away, the lot!
 
The crisp addict hesitated, but to her credit, only for a moment. And that was that. Decided. The winner gaining nothing but boasting rights, and if it was a draw, pride.
 To be honest, she has more to gain from this than me, the way I see it. Take-away food for the most part is bad for you. She’s just cutting out all the stuff you shouldn’t be eating if you have any sense anyway! Me, however…

Coffee makes me smile 🙂

How can a person deny themselves the bittersweet goodness in the luscious warmth of a steaming hot mug of coffee? (I take mine black, one sugar, just in case you were wondering 😉 )