Hey! Guess Who’s Back??

Hey troops! Long time no write!

I have been somewhat (ok, COMPLETELY) absent from the blogging scene for a long time. I just felt that nothing I had to say was important anymore. That hasn’t so much changed, as I feel like I’ve been on a journey. I’ve had adventures and I want to share them once again. I have still been writing, but not here, and I have missed the community. So, here we go again bitches!!

A quick catch up on where I’ve been at.

Since last year I have been travelling, I have been at Uni, I have made friends and lost friends and I have been on the 2nd biggest, 2nd most terrifying journey of my life. I went to live in BARCELONA for a semester. I actually just got back a week before Christmas so I’m still adapting to the CRAP Scottish weather XD But that’s ok, I have Scotland in my blood, I might not like it but the belligerent highlander in will get me through.

So, get ready for tales of sunny Barca and news of my adventures. I’m planning on making some review post and the like but at the moment i’m really thinking i’m just going to wing it and see how it goes.

So I hope you will join me on my wee blog and I hope you enjoy whatever trial nonsense I post here. I will leave you with this astonishing piece of trivia:

Snakes have 2 penises but only use 1 at a time!

You’re welcome.

SSDD

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Post Christmas – How Ya Feeling??

So how y’all doing?

The festive season is struggling to maintain purchase as the madness sinks in and people reaslise they have to stop being merry soon and return to their general humdrum lives. After the psychotic ravaging of stores that miraculously have re-filled their shelves with wares for the Boxing Day/that-odd-nameless-time-between-Christmas-and-New-Year sales, we are left bereft, despite our many fresh items.

We have less booze, less money, less yummy food, less presents, less visitors, less days off, less lie ins… Generally just less of all those rare goodies we allow ourselves to indulge in excessively at this time of year.

On the other hand we get more of a lot of things.

We get more work, more time out of the warm house and in the cold outdoors, more time spent travelling, more bitchy co-workers, more worries over money, more micro-meals, more stress coffee, more… General crap. And crap that is only crap because you experience it every day, not because it is particularly bad, just that we tolerate it so often that we come to not really care all that much about it. Like work. Most people can’t be bothered half the time. Uni/college. Too tiring when there are warm beds and XBOX in existence. Travelling. Instead of being a peaceful time of reflection it becomes a place of rampant road rage and body odour, if you are not fortunate enough to be part of a carpool. Reality bites back, soon.

We are alright til January. It is acceptable to pull the “aw, Ok, since it’s Christmas” excuse for being just that little bit decadent but only because we have that all important big part-ay coming up known as New Year (sure to be a messy one if you live in Scotland).

Now, while this started off on a bit of a bum note, I like to be a little unpredictable when I write these posts, so here’s me pulling the old switcheroo on you.

I don’t care that we are metaphorically going from a time of excess to a time of… normal? (because I live in the commercialised Western society so we are always living in a time of plenty and there are too many people who already live in excess) I don’t care that I am going to have less money, less free time and more stress. I don’t even mind the thought of my three hour round trips to Uni every day starting again – the bus may smell bad but I always like the journey and I like Uni. I can’t do anything on the journey so it’s a great place for a little downtime.

Sometimes the world of boundless bounty (not the chocolates… though I suppose sometimes the chocolates. At this time of year, certainly. Those little tiny ones. Who actually eats Bounty’s except at Christmas anyway? Who eats chocolates that size at any other time of year? Alas, tis a pondering for another day) is a little too much. Too much of a good thing, and all that. Then again…

I have just had a few of the best days of my life.

Those of you who have followed these interweb pages for a while will know that I used to  detest Christmas. Loath it. Hated it with a passion that would make hell piss itself with shame at its own feeble flame as it pales in comparison to the passion in my rage. But all that has changed this year. It was AWESOME!!

I know that is hardly the most eloquent of ways to phrase it but it is the truth and I am still young enough to get away with such pithy sayings.adored every second!

Last year I did not really have a Christmas. It was one of the worst days of my life and I will never forget it. However, I cannot regret, now, that it happened. Because, had I not, I may not have fully appreciated the marvelous affair that has been the Clark family Christmas, 2013. These shall forever be hallowed days to me.

And these feelings of peculiar warmth have nothing to do with the fact that I have spent a great deal of time in the last wee while drinking excessive, yet not altogether socially unacceptable volumes, of fermented, brewed and distilled liquid, all with the intent of slowly pickling my liver as well as warming the cockles of my heart. Oh no, it is all to do with my family. And the fact that we were all at home. Together. Having Christmas. For the first time ever. And I meant, ever.

I have never had a Christmas at home, just with my parents, and that is something I have always craved. As has my mum, which, means that since we were spending it at home, she has been in an infinitely better mood of late. Actually we all have. There has been an unfamiliar buzz of general merriment colouring my life in the run up to Christmas. I have been a busy little fritter and filled my time by whole-heartedly flinging myself into the spirit of the event. I’ve never really partaken so I wasn’t really sure what to do. But the fact that I was bouncing around like a workshop elf on crack seemed to help everything run smoothly. Go with the snow-flow,  I thought, see where you end up. Following my celebratory savvy, I reckon.

My life this December has been a blur of bows and bells, elves and electric lightstinsel, tassels and tell-tales signs the Great British weather is taking a turn for the terrible.

I won’t go into details, but will instead allow you to fill in the blanks of your own accord. I don’t mind how you envisage the three of us, but here is a guideline.

Image three people sitting down to a fantastic spread that we are all not quite sure how we managed to produce. Imagine us elated and confused at the fortune of our own situation. Listen to the sound of clinking glasses, popping crackers and belly laughing. Feel the warmth of the oven and the heating blowing a rosy glow onto your skin. Smell everything from booze to parsnips and turkey and perfume. Feel full, spiritually and physically and emotionally. Cover everything in soft lights and glitter. Now imagine a slight haze over the whole image as we have all had a little bit to drink

Merry Christmas.

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Homemade table decoration

Homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

me and Percy

me and Percy

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine... food baby??

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine… food baby??

pretty candles

pretty candles

Percy

Percy

SSDD

Holla From Uni

Aloha, Bonjourno Buenas Dias/Noches, Hi, Hello, Wassup, Greetings, Anaeyong hassaeo…

I am alive and guilty – I have been neglecting my bloggerly responsibilities but for good reason I assure you. That educational, unnecessary, expensive yet wonderful resource we call University has called me to its’ hallowed (… plywood…) halls once again and I have begun another academic year at Uni, rendering my time otherwise tied in things of a scholarly nature.

*Ahem* FRESHERS WEEK!! 😛

Ok, so I haven’t exactly been going wild with freshers but Uni has started again and it has taken up a bit of time trying to get into a routine that let’s me be some way to a functioning human being with time to spare. But I’m getting there.

There was an interesting stand at the Glasgow Caledonian University Freshers Fair (the Uni I go to, by the way, I didn’t just wander in off the street looking for something to do). It was to do with the Psychology Society. Now, I don’t study Psychology, but I am sorely tempted to join this society, purely because the guy behind the table refused to ralk to me til I looked like this:

me wearing the hat that was thrust upon me by a “psychologist”

Got lots of work coming my way in terms of freelance writing work so busy busy busy.

Speak soon!

 

SSDD

Birthday Bling: Gem’s a Jewel But Jenny’s a Crystal…

Age Appropriate Gifting

Bring me the shiny things… and the leather bag…

I turned 20 the other week. August 12th marked the end of my teenage years and… the start of Grouse Shooting Season. Charming way to mark the occasion.

I asked my family not to get me presents. I’m not particularly materialistic and there was nothing I really wanted. But then… I thought, this is not just an average birthday. This is 20, a big one, I think. The end of that era we call childhood which opens a door into decades of adulthood. Real adulthood, this time, not just the way they tell you you’re an adult when you turn 18. That’s like a dry run, a practice for the real thing.

How do I know? Well, it’s obvious. They’ve dropped the teen from the end of my real age and added the altogether less exciting ty.

140720131139So I decided I would get something special that I could keep forever. If I was choosing it, I would enlist the help of my expert mother, qualified in all things jewellery in all but legitimacy. I wanted a unique little something, a trinket that would not tarnish, nor rip or tear or break, that I could keep and love and cherish and have as a reminder of this time in my life and what all the events happening in it meant to me, the good and the bad.

So I bought a handbag. Kidding! Well, kind of.

I did get a handbag, but that was more an indulgence and a present than something meaningful.I do love it dearly, it’s a beautiful leather manifestation from River Island and sure, I hope my leather bag fetish lasts a lifetime but nothing will last as long as the real gift…

An amethyst and diamond ring.

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Amethyst symbolises piety, humility, sincerity and spiritual wisdom… The perfect gem to symbolise trying times and a new attitude.

Diamonds may be a girls best friend, but diamonds get lonely. I was searching the web for the perfect companion for my triumverate of bejeweled joy. And instead, I uncovered a jewel mine with enough carved precious stones to satisfy even the most bug eyes magpie.

Jenny Mills Jewellery

An Australian Lady with a Swarovski Heart

Jenny Mills is an Australian Jewellery designer and her creations are composed mainly of Swarovski crystals and pearls on silver hooks. The one that caught my eye was the amethyst pendant. It’s text based charm may not exactly match the simplicity of my ring but the colours vibrancy was beautiful. The powerful purple hue was mersmerising!

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E-219-3-620x376Further inspections delivered my eyes with more and more sparkles are fine gems to make me melt! Colours and clarity in all the crystals whispering of unparalleled quality. So finely crafted, so lovely and utterly unique. One woman and her skill and creativity, made all that, and the sites categorization into sections for easy perusal made my trip through the glittering mine of heart shaped lovelies all the easier and more rewarding.

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What purchase I will make is yet to be decided, but one thing is for sure; more people on my side of the pond should know of her. E-242-620x376Such a gift would be perfection, a gift to remember forever and treasure like the heart shapes on her pendants.

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SSDD

James Watt: Painter for the People

James Watt is a name synonymous with Scottish innovation, the Greenock inventor creating the steam engine.

But another Jimmy has shown his talents, in the form of a Port Glasgow painter by the same name. His recent exhibit at The Beacon Arts Center, Greenock, is his latest public display and his first in the newly built arts center.

Main Entrance - Beacon Arts Center

Main Entrance – Beacon Arts Center

The setting is more appropriate than your usual gallery. As a painter of an aquatic theme, the gallery sees the paintings overlooking the Clyde, the river which inspired the painter for half a century. The Beacons entire back wall is made of glass, giving for a majestic view of the water. One might think this would give visitors some small insight as to why Watt found it such an inspiring location; they would be wrong. It was the smog filled ship yards and dirty working men that lit the fire of creativity in this Port-born man.

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Foyers-8595-MS1

The man himself was in attendance on the Friday I visited, and the day before as well. Watt said of the new local arts center;

“It’s a marvelous building, it really is. For the first time since the ship yards closed I feel we’re really making use of what the Clyde has to offer, if not in such an industrial sense. It’s a beautiful location and it’s wonderful to see the pictures all overlooking the water. It’s where they were all painted, after all.”

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Having come from a line of working class men, poorly educated with little prospect other than to go straight from basic schooling into the expected and predictable future of a trade, Watt found himself of school leaving age during a time of unexpected promise. Further education was no longer an unattainable dream for the working man, a lavish luxury of the wealthy. Scholarship and free further education were being offered to the working middle class and Watts father, being a clever man and self-educated despite his humble station, saw an opportunity to send his equally so ambitious sons on a path to a life he had no hope of attaining.

On workers his opinion was clear;

“Whether they were clever or not was irrelevant; this was what was expected of them. My father was a very clever man. He read books that most of the other men would never have heard of and the fact that he was even interested in what they had to say was strange to them, alien even. Something he would be mocked over. Now we can see that he was just a man with a mind more than his station but with no way to correctly employ that inherent brilliance. It’s very sad, really, because you just don’t know how many others were in the same position.”

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And so it was that James Watt found himself able to attend Art School and begin to create painted works from the scenes he saw growing up. Industry features prominently in almost all of his works and his paintings more often defy the quintessential ideal of pretty boats on sparkling water under a lightly dusted blue skies. They reveal the true rawness and unyielding mire of the yards and the daily toil of the men who worked there.

“It was a toil, that’s exactly the word. Those men had no prospects; they would never leave the yards once they sucked them in. They had no choice but to go straight from school and pick a trade, work at it all their lives and live the predictable, mundane life of a grafter, same as every other man in the yard.” he said, “Not to say that they weren’t extremely skilled, which they were, in their way.”

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Often painting these scenes of graft and Clyde creation in burnished tones, there is an almost sinister, otherworldly atmosphere from them. They depict relics of a bygone age as the shipping industry has since died out from the area, moving on to greener pastures in South Korea and other, offshore locations.

The artists favourite

The artists favourite

Taking great pleasure in speaking to admirers of his work he spoke of the largest in the exhibition being his favourite. Featuring on the main entrance wall of the gallery his fondness of it was clear;

“It’s not even that I think it’s my best painting,” he told me, “But it’s only now that I’ve lent it to the Beacon and it’s no longer hanging on the wall in my house that I can’t help feeling a little bereft in it’s absence. I think it’s more that I painted it at a time I now reflect upon as bring poignant… I’m actually feeling a little anxious with it hanging there, I quite want it back now.” he laughed, but there was a glint of yearning the kind, weathered face.

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My personal favourite was found at the back of the gallery. Consuming a massive expanse of wall, it was one of the lighter, more hopeful images in the show. Titled ‘ARDBEG’ it was painted in 1980 and is oil on canvas.

Ardbeg

Ardbeg

Ardbeg

Ardbeg

There is a light and an optimism for the freedom of boating that struck me as being quietly beautiful, a relief in a collection of largely russet toned canvases.

Interspersing the work yard themed, brazenly painted boat scenes are pictures of a more traditional marine sort. Though one could hardly describe them as “bright”, they are several shades lighted than their harder edged kin. Depicting the cloudy Scottish weather, the waters edge in these smaller canvasses are often lonely feeling, quiet, muted tones showing the simplicity of beachfront life.

The inventor of the steam engine might be a national treasure, but I doubt he could depict his home the way this James Watt does, so many years later.

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Are You Happy In Your Job? Neither’s America!

Are you happy at your job?

Think about it – are you really happy doing whatever you’re doing?

Phillip DeFranco’s Youtube video the other set me onto an interesting thing. A social experiment was conducted recently in America and it turns out the American dream ain’t all so accessible for 52% of Americans. That’s how many people were said to be unsatisfied in their job and that the “perks” of working in certain establishments, such as games rooms and massage parlours and free catered meals and casual Thursdays, beer Fridays, health care and dental and whatnot, are not enough to grant them overall satisfaction in their work. 18% said they were “actively disengaged”. Essentially these people are just slumped over their desks, buggering about, pressing a few keys then slipping off for a beer to take the edge of the boredom.

What makes me sad is that only 30% felt their job to be “actively engaging or inspiring“. In a population of millions, in a country apparently busting at the seams with opportunity and preaching happiness and fulfillment and all that overly positive Americanness, such a tiny number of people have actually found that.

What does that say about the productivity of such a vast country? If they can have the amount of influence that they do with only 30% of people actually doing any properly motivated work, can you imagine the madness that would ensue if the other 70% were engaged?? It would either become a world so overrun by sunshine and productivity that the actual sun would feel like an underachiever and find another solar system (assuming of course it isn’t an unmotivated working class American, of course, in which case it would probably just stop shining) or it would be complete carnage! War. Need I say any more? They’re already farting rainbows over there, who’s to say what could happen!

When_The_Sun_Is_Gone_by_artofkerem

Which made me think. This isn’t even the number of people who are not doing the job they want, that dream job that has everything they are looking for in a satisfying occupation – these are just the people who are doing a job, one to get by, get some money, get paid and go home. What of the people who got the dream job – then discovered it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?

I’m under no illusions. In a society so uncertain of its future, life seems to be filled with “just getting by” moments, people doing what they can for money to support themselves and their families – but isn’t that such a crap way to live?? Argue that life is full of winners and losers, people who get what they want and people who don’t and that it all comes down to whoever has the balls to go out and get what they want gets it, but I think that’s a load of bull.

happy accordion player

happy accordion player

That’s like saying those 52% of unhappy people never tried to achieve their dream. Maybe they did. Maybe it just didn’t quite workout. Maybe they wanted to make it as a street accordion player, but unfortunately, the public were more into skater haired street buskers at the time. Gutted for them. Now they sell insurance in a call center.

Forget that – who is to say they’ve even decided what they want to do with their lives and are just trundling along at half speed til they can work it out. I’m 19 and I’m currrently trying to work out what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of my life. There are times when I think “well Gem, you’ve made a royal balls up of your life so far, what are you going to do about it??” Terrifyingly (though not altogether unexpectedly) the general response from that voice in my head is either silence or… “…fuck if I know, you control the legs in this situation, you work it out!” Yeah, coz the voice in my head is extraordinarily rude, by the way. Should probably have a word with it about that actually…

try again! never too late to rock the street XD

try again! never too late to rock the street XD

So now I’m wondering; what can the people represented in that awful stat do about it? Can they do anything? Go back to that accordion and hope the market’s changed? Get a hair cut and conform for the sake of a taste of success? How do you even measure success. I think it’s personal. If you are satisfied then surely that’s a job well done? You might not have millions in the bank, but you will be rich in spirit.

From the sounds of America, this whole appearance of total contentment in life is a facade, a nation wide pass time of pretence and self disillusionment. Maybe they should take a look at a happy busker, an old man and his accordion. A guy who took up the art again after years wasted in a desk job, having given up on the dream of his youth ; chances are there are holes in his shoes and a couple of missing buttons on that old thing, but I’ll bet there’s a smile on his face. Because he’s made it; he’s playing to his audience. Whether they listen or not is irrelevant – that little bugger with the cool hair has gone home… I hear he sells insurance now…

SSDD

Impulses Influence Everyone

I recently made a post on how you shouldn’t let fear rule your life.

Well, I think this might become something of a theme with me. So get used to it. On with round two!

Fear doesn’t just rule your life, it ends up influencing the lives of those around you, too. Think about this situation:

Someone has a fear, something that is exercising a measure of restriction over their life. A person close to them has to deal with this, if not every day, then certainly on a regular basis.

So, not only are you struggling against that issue, it is being forced on the people around you, whether you want to or not, whether you mean to or not, it’s happening, regardless.

now you don't have to be perfect, you can be good

Say for example, that you have to have someone with you while you’re eating. You can’t eat alone, but at the same time, you can’t not eat. It’s not just that it would feel weird, sitting at an empty table, one lone table mat, one solitary spoon, a single bowl, a lonesome cup; it’s the whole social convension of the thing. If there are several people in a house, surely it is expected that they would eat together. No? Why not? And if you were to strike out on your own, let that cup have a friend in the shape your hand wrapped around it, that spoon find a home that isn’t chatting to someone at the same time, then how would other people react? Would they question you? What did you have? When? Why did you sit on your own and not wait til other people were about? Did you actually have something or are you just pretending you did?

So you have this inner turmoil. Then demand someone have breakfast with you.

Herein lies the problem.

What if the other residents of the household do not want to have breakfast at the same time as you? But you have to have it at a certain time. What will happen if you let them have a lie-in and have it later? Who knows? Maybe nothing. Maybe something terrible.  On and on it goes. The mental carousel from hell.

Even though for you, this seems like a huge deal that only you are dealing with, the necessity of having something done at a certain time, in a certain way, with the situation just the way you want it, this is not you exerting control – this is a part of your brain malfunctioning and controlling you and the people around you. As an individual, you have no influence here. You won’t, until you start fighting back.

It isn’t unusual for people to struggle. Everyone has struggles, whether that be with their mental health, physical health, work, body image, heights, hygiene, mobility… Any of these can be catastrophic for the sufferer but impact everyone. Think about it in the above example. You have to have someone with you all the time. That is going to get tiring, for everyone concerned, even though you are only doing it with the best of intentions, for reasons which seem right.

upstairs

So, to combat these problems you engage in behaviours, routines. It could be anything from waiting til people are out of the house before having your breakfast to dragging them out of bed, fully against their will.Think about how these impulses effect the people around you. You are just trying to get things done properly and avoid the fear that comes from not having them done right. So what if it’s not bothering them. It bothers you.

There are certain conditions, such as Eating Disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder and Anxiety Disorders, that mean that familys are often more accepting of such bizzare behaviour. The idea is that you can’t help it, but that you are trying to and for the most part, that’s enough to satiate their corresponding impulse to wring you bloody neck!

But stress gets to us all. There will be times when the pressure of having to get up at whatever time has been deemed the “correct” time just isn’t going to work for everyone. If an argument kicks off there is one vital thing to remember;

Your loved one is not yelling at you, they are yelling at the fear controlling you. Controlling both of you.

Remind yourself of that, and maybe, just maybe, the fear of everything collapsing in on itself will get a little bit less.

And try having your breakfast on your own. The first step.

don't feel alone i'm here

SSDD