Sunday, 31 January 2016

Pre-Birthday Celebrations... Well, Kinda!

So. It's Sunday evening and I'm sitting rather awkwardly on this wooden chair/shoe holder (its specific title has either slipped from my frazzled brain or I've yet to come across it in my dictionary) whilst sniffing the chocolate cake-scented air, which is heavy with the atmosphere that is typical in the hours before a major event.

Such as my 17th birthday which, in four hours' time, will finally arrive, and will mark a further step towards adulthood which, as turning 18 is generally viewed as the all-important milestone in one's life, will be my final birthday before I become an adult - a fact that I really can't get my head around. Well, I might sometimes feel much older than my years (particularly in some of my classes at school where the boys may shout and get carried away with their primary school-inspired humour, while I'm literally resisting the urge to scream at them like a teacher - but then again, wouldn't most girls feel the same?), yet seeing a new and bigger number that represents my age somewhat terrifies me because I'm once again getting further away from the sweet comfort blanket that is childhood, which I sometimes feel slipped too quickly out of my fingers before I could truly appreciate it.

Then again, does everyone take their childhood for granted? While we are living it, such an innocent period in our lives feels eternal and, if you were anything like myself at the age of nine, you would wonder whether you were forever condemned to be assigned to stomach-churning pink clothes and Hannah Montana merchandise (despite detesting it with a passion, skirts with the show's logo still found their way onto my skirts!) because your age dictates as to what levels of sophistication and maturity you can be exposed to.

Even as a youngster, I craved to be older because it symbolised excitement - something that remains present in my extremely long wishlist as it provides a welcome escape from the dramas and hassles of everyday life, which certainly doesn't surprise me when pretty much all of this week has been devoted to finishing my Performing Arts coursework in time for Tuesday! Seriously, you will discover yourself wrapped up in dreams and wishes when piles of panic-inducing coursework land on your lap...

In addition to this, I've been fighting 'the lurgy' - otherwise known as the common cold and awfully sore throat - all week, which kick-started in epic style last Sunday when I struggled to swallow anything without a jolt of agonising pain bolting through my mouth. Ouch. Despite this pain passing, I've also had to contend with the sniffles (thanks to my school switching the heating on full blast while the UK faces its mildest winter in history - whilst turning it off when it is as chilling as torturing your shampooed hair with an ultra cold rinse - and a dreadfully sore throat, which is to blame for my current inability to talk for more than five seconds without sounding like a Dalek whose voice is breaking like that of an male teenager. Not so nice, is it?

Still, the show - or at least my birthday - must go on, especially if an Aero and Revel-adorned chocolate cake will be the star of the show tomorrow after I return from an exhausting day at school where, hopefully, some people will have remembered that it is my birthday. Unlike a number of people in my year, I haven't taken it upon myself to brag about my birthday to the entire world (e.g. every single teenager in the local town via Facebook) because such an occasion is one out of millions of birthdays that take place every day and may not get any recognition, which I find tremendously sad because no one - regardless of gender, sexuality, race or so-called 'class' - should receive more or less attention on the most important day in their lives.

Yet, as a teenager, a bit of attention - of the decent kind, of course - would be welcome, especially as I've always made an effort to say 'Happy Birthday' to anyone whose birthday I knew fell on that day in the past. Nevertheless, I won't shed bucket loads of tears if few people return such polite gestures - at least I know that I possess the strength to not lower myself to such ignorant behaviour!

Birthdays are birthdays, and I'm looking forward to enjoying a peaceful, albeit slightly chocolate-mad one this year. With so much going on at the moment - such as revision, completing remaining bits of coursework (hurrah!) and battling what seems to be a particularly nefarious mutation of the common cold - I've had little time to write about how I'm feeling, which is ironic because my voice is too creaky and weak to speak properly, yet I will make more of an effort in the near future thanks to half-term approaching in a fortnight's time. Yay!

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me... Well, at least writing instead of singing along won't hurt my voice!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Late Sunday Night 'Holidays are ending!' Panic

The end is nigh. Or near, whatever 'nigh' is actually supposed to mean, though I don't literally mean the end in the sense that the zombie virus will rapidly mutate and spread like a particularly strong wave of 'Belieber' fever throughout the nation, destroying all that society has long associated with mankind. Hmm. These are exactly the kind of reasons I come up to justify why I deserve far more sleep than I'm currently getting which, for the past fortnight, has transformed me into a somewhat nocturnal creature with deathly pale skin and glistening red lips (thanks to constant applications of Rimmel lipstick, nonetheless) to match my oh-so-scary appearance. 

Even though my casual style might have connotations of Halloween when, technically, it is still Christmas (despite literally 99.9% of the population groaning at the thought of seeing another tub of Celebrations), I suppose that my thoughts have remained focused on Christmas which, as of Tuesday, is over for me. Well, in the sense that I've got the joy of returning to rising out of bed like half-asleep Dracula at six in the morning for the pleasure of revising and studying with a renewed agility at school - a routine that will remain in place until mid-February. Yay. 

Unfortunately, I'm all too aware of the fact that I'll be celebrating my 17th birthday - which, before the thought even dares to pop into your mind, will not entail any driving lessons or half beaten-up cars - in the comfort of the classroom on a freaking MONDAY. *yelps hysterically* And, as is typical with adolescents, I'm as enthusiastic as Garfield the lasagne-devouring cat about facing the first and rather intimidating day of the week; an attitude which I'm nevertheless so sure will guide me through my weekly Maths mock that just so happens to take place every single Monday morning!!!

Oh yeah, please don't assume that those three exclamation marks symbolise my gregarious elation over having the honour of gazing at questions which I truly do not know the answers to just mere hours after emerging from my bed. Really, birthdays and school are a nefarious mixture that only brings horror to all associated parties, let alone the birthday boy or girl. Well, I've figured that I'll do most of my celebrating the weekend before my birthday because a) time won't be limited to just a few hours after coming home from school and b) I won't be in a ten mile radius of a shuttlecock (as badminton, which I swear looks like the HARDEST game I'll ever play in my life, will be taking centre stage in my P.E. lessons in the upcoming term)!

Anyway, my birthday is nowhere in sight for a couple of weeks yet, though the pressure will certainly be placed on my famously indecisive self before I even know it to start looking for potential gifts. Yet another chore that I'm not so thrilled about doing... 

With tomorrow being the very last day in my two week Christmas holiday, I guess that I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself because having time to relax and remember that my sole purpose in life isn't to achieve A*s like athletes winning gold medals at the Olympics has enabled me to put things into perspective. By that, I'm increasingly feeling more confident about not being seen as 'popular' by my peers who, for the record, are actually a year younger than me: a fact that is sometimes easily forgotten, even though my differences with them is never surprising. So what if people whom I don't particularly like can't be bothered to like my profile picture on Facebook which, to be honest, I only uploaded so that the public can see what I look like and not confuse me with another person who shares my name - definitely not for the purpose of exposing my body in a similar manner to a Page 3 model! Too often, I've been disgusted by the way that quite a few people, namely girls, post selfies which so obviously exploit their, ahem, features so that they can gain a few extra 'likes', which I strongly believe are over-rated and quite a pathetic and meaningless indication of one's so-called 'popularity'. 

You want my honest opinion on popularity? It can go and be blown into millions of little shreds because it means absolutely nothing! Too many teens assume that popularity instantly buys happiness or at least a comfortable seat on the table that so many people at school are dying to sit at, yet it is on a par with liquid foundation: it only conceals the cracks within your persona which, from the angle I've settled myself at, is pretty obvious. In the past few weeks, I've witnessed a group of what the majority of my year would consider to be the It girls - the ones that could possibly win the 'coveted' title of Prom Queen in a few months' time - fall out, for reasons which I don't know and am not at all interested in finding out because it is none of my business (though I wish some people could adopt this philosophy so that they aren't pestering me about my life). Although I've sometimes wished that I could have shared just a little bit of the friendship that these girls had, I realise now that anything could have blown it apart - because popularity is fragile. Why do you think that celebrities such as Britney Spears or Justin Bieber have fallen apart when their fame - the ultimate popularity status - wrecked with their happiness? 

It doesn't matter that so many people before them have made ridiculous and reckless decisions, which should serve as an eternal reminder for how to not lead your lives, yet numerous adolescents nonetheless follow a path towards sacrificing their individuality - as precious and priceless as your virginity, if you really want to appreciate its value - for the sake of fitting in with a crowd of people whom, if they weren't labelled as the popular guys, you don't particularly like. And can that truly be the recipe for happiness? Few things in life are free and, although standing up for your own beliefs might single you out as the 'weirdo' at school, you can hold your head up high and be proud of having such a wise head on your shoulders - besides, the most fascinating people in society are the ones who refuse to conform. There's a reason why the majority of famous people are famous: their talents stand out. As if yours will be if you simply adopt the airs and graces (or lack of) of your 'peers'!

Rant over, I'm more than ready to shrug off the unfairness and inequality that defines school life for the sake of focusing on my exams, the first of which takes place in exactly four months' time. Gulp. Exams are only as terrifying as you make them out to be, yet if I carry on revising and putting in as much effort as I have done for the past year, my only problem will be remembering life without exams by the time they officially finish at approximately ten in the morning on Friday 17th June. Like I wasn't going to remember the date when my summer of freedom and adventure begins!

What else is there to say? I'm looking ahead to a positive year and Tuesday is just the beginnings to a means of an end. Let battle commence!

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year, New Outlook, New Chances

As of 5.44pm, which is the time when I commenced writing this entry, I have been living in 2016 - a year brimming with possibilities and opportunities for none other than moi, though I do hope that your 2016 shines as brightly too - for seventeen hours and forty-four minutes, which doesn't even account the numerous hours I devoted to sleeping off my late night euphoria in bed this morning. Needless to say, I was rather reluctant to separate myself from sheets of sheer warmth (which definitely counteracts my lizard-like chilliness) at 10.30am, especially when New Year had already come and gone in such a rush!

Still, I wasn't the only person to have been enchanted by the fantastic firework display which brought London and indeed the whole of the UK (if you weren't already dropping off into a slumber by then) to a standstill for ten magical minutes as the nation were blown away by crackles and pops of colourful delights that lit up the city's sky. Moments like those somehow make me believe for a short while that anything is pretty much possible because I suppose that I never really let my expectations become too grand, perhaps in fear of being disappointed: hardly the ideal emotion you want to be experiencing as a new year kicks off.

Nevertheless, I proudly and discreetly maintain my childhood passion for magic which, in recent years, has been boosted by watching spell-binding programmes such as Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though Willow's temporary descent into black magic doesn't really represent the kind of magic my heart believes in). Although you might struggle to understand why the likes of Phoebe Halliwell or Willow Rosenburg have to do with New Year celebrations, I think that they fit perfectly. Why? Whenever the New Year approaches, I start to cling to these optimistic beliefs that all of my dreams - including the less realistic ones, such as getting my hands on a Louis Vuitton bag (though, let's face it, the nearest I will get to one is gazing at its picture on the Harrods website) - will come true, pretty much in a similar way to my fairy godmother appearing and casting spells of absolute joy for me.

Fortunately, my thoughts and beliefs have developed a more, well, sophisticated taste in recent years, and I think that I've pretty much persuaded my mum that I'm no longer obsessed with hovering cars becoming the upcoming year's latest creation (though Back of the Future's lack of reliable predictions secretly annoys me!). Still. Even when problems may be looming in the faraway distance, I nonetheless hope for success - or at least a sprinkling of positivity - to be awaiting around the corner. Personally, magic symbolises happiness for me because, if I had just a little bit of it, plenty of good would be injected into my life, which would of course produce a very happy year.

Besides, one of the few things that I do like about New Year is that, for once, pretty much everyone is united with the intention of goodwill for not only themselves, but other people. Too easily I can forget about all of the people surrounding me either at school or at home because transporting myself to Sky Go or Revision Mania (albeit not on quite a pleasurable par with Sleepyland) is sometimes much easier than noticing others; occasionally, all that I want to see is myself. And well, is that really so bad? Deep down inside of us, I cannot shrug off the feeling that we automatically view our needs as more important than those of other people because we possess a disguised instinct for always defending ourselves; regardless of whether they share our likeable personalities or interests, we will usually take care of ourselves first before we even consider the plight of another person.

Selfishness, which is pretty much the only word that I can think of to describe my point (even though I don't see it in such a negative way), is brilliant for achieving your personal successes and remaining level-headed when focusing on a particular target. Obviously, I get to express some of my typical teenage selfishness by spending hours cooped up in my bedroom at a time for my studies, which might deprive me of some precious time that I could otherwise use for hanging out with my family and friends, yet it isn't selfish at all because it is benefitting me. If only goodness can come out of it, selfishness - or awareness of your own needs - should be celebrated for enabling society to develop their own abilities and confidence in themselves. Well, sometimes we need to learn certain things from ourselves instead of from others - a point that I will definitely remember whilst revising for my exams over the next few months!

However, forgetting about our own needs for a little while and embracing other people's happiness instead simply contributes to the magic of New Year which, despite only really lasting for one evening, warms you up a bit and gives you an incentive to look back at New Year's Eve in a positive light for years' to come. OK, people often reminisce about how many shots of vodka they could drink until they shared a hedgehog's bed - a green, leafy bush - to finish off their New Year, yet there is a hidden message behind the last day - and indeed the first - of the new year which, if you look between the lines, is only awaiting to be recognised and valued.

Here's to a very positive and Happy New Year, albeit one declared officially eighteen hours and twenty one minutes later!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My Favourite Songs of 2015

As two days remain until 2015 ends with what I hope will be a bang (albeit of the safe sort, of course!), I'd like to reflect on the treasures that have been sustained over this long and, undoubtedly, busy year. Those treasures? None other than the songs which have brought musical heaven to my very ears, who have adored and fallen in love with genres and singers whose music I might have previously dismissed because of my adolescent ignorance. Ouch, strong words those might be when describing my typically oh-so-fabulous self, yet admitting to my faults is alright if I've corrected them, isn't it?

Nevertheless, 2015 has represented a year of adventure, mystery and discovery in various aspects of my life which, depending on how I've felt at the time, has either delighted or terrified me. Oh, how can I turn a blind eye to the unforgivable terrors of algebra mayhem or sense-blinding panic induced by countless deadlines for piles of work? Despite my occasional struggles, music has always remained as one of my true friends which, as a teenager who loves nothing more than delving into her fantasies, dreams and imaginary worlds from time to time, has provided the perfect antidote to preserving my sanity for the occasions when I've needed it most!

Thanks to receiving a brilliant Sony Xperia phone for my 16th birthday in February, my undeniable passion for music has been increasingly invigorated because of having access to the Walkman music player, which has instilled a greater sense of respect for music within me as I can now dive into my thrilling musical fantasies beyond my bedroom. Especially as I approach my exams next summer, being able to listen to the likes of Lana Del Rey (whose riveting Freak is literally tattooed on my brain) and Madonna whilst completing coursework or revising 'dull' subjects such as Physics has truly spiced up my learning, which is keeping me motivated until I leap over the final hurdle and wave bye-bye to scientific calculators forever. Although that beloved moment may seem millions of miles away right now, music is definitely the best distraction that I could possibly find!

Besides, I feel that 2015 has marked the year in which I've slowly moved away from relying on the old classics, such as Madonna's timeless Erotica (which might strike some as an eccentric choice because it is rarely discussed with the same awe that is typically applied to the likes of Like a Virgin or Like a Prayer) or Sade's Love Deluxe, to satisfy my musical cravings to embracing present day music, which still captures the essence of love, passion and exhilaration that creates an eternal love affair for the art for the ears.

In particular, I've become obsessed with some dance tracks which, despite being rather different to the ones released around two decades ago, embody the same energy that a song needs to make you get up (which is much harder nowadays when the likes of Netflix are tempting you to watch another episode of Orange is the New Black) and dance. OK, I'm sure that dancing around my bedroom in leopard print pyjamas with one of my four sleep-enchanted cats dozing on my bed justifies why Calvin Harris or David Guetta produce music to transform a lifeless nightclub into the vibrant soul of the night, yet I love feeling so free and happy for a couple of minutes at a time where I don't care about what I look like (obviously as long as the curtains are drawn in!) and I only focus about having a good time.

Even though the relentless hassles of studying, responsibilities and chores might sometimes lead to me to wonder whether adolescence is simply destined to be the most stressful and spottiest stage in my entire life, dancing away my stresses to a dance song's heartbeat reminds me of what little I know about the world; mainly, my responsibilities extend to peeling a bag of brussel sprouts for the Sunday roast each week, which is literally nothing when compared to roles required when one becomes fully responsible for themselves as an independent adult. Still, any sort of responsibility is bound to be intimidating at any age, and teenagers like myself are no exception! At least I have the comfort of being assured that, as soon as I plug in my headphones and lose myself to the rhythm of a song, all of my worries are washed away like one gulping down the fizzy contents of a can of Coca Cola.

Seven paragraphs later, and I've yet to even list my favourite songs of this year! How time flies when one solely focuses on themselves (though, if I bother to remember, this blog is actually supposed to be about me), but never mind. As ever, you can only judge music upon listening to it, so I won't provide a massive commentary on these tracks, though be aware if anyone called Lana crops up on the list. For her, I could arrive in 2017 by simply discussing the beauty in her music videos...

1. How Deep is Your Love - Calvin Harris and Disciples
One of the biggest songs of the year (for once, not actually my personal opinion!), How Deep is Your Love demonstrates the power that the UK has in the dance music industry. Usually, I'm not too keen on modern day dance music because it sounds too 'robotic', yet what truly helped me to love this song was the captivating vocals of Ina Wroldsen, which perfectly captured the carefree joys of summer. Anyway, I'm partly grateful for this track because it certainly kept my morale up whilst exercising in my school's gym during the summer, which made the agony of doing one too many squats a little less painful. Well, thank you Calvin Harris...

2. All Cried Out - Blonde feat. Alex Newell
I only recently found this gem which, despite being quite short in length, provides me with enough time to revise the melody and lyrics like the countless pages in my Biology revision book - yet, without a doubt, this is far more fun! If only I could hit the high notes as well as Alex Newell, but I'll leave it to the pros!

3. Magnets - Disclosure feat. Lorde
Two years since her award-winning debut release Pure Heroine, there is currently no sign as to when Lorde will drop her sophomore studio album, yet this blow was significantly cushioned by Magnets, her duet with the electronic duo (information handily sourced from Wikipedia) Disclosure which is still as catchy as Yellow Flicker Beat, the theme song for the The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1 that I still sing along to over a year on. Fingers crossed that Lorde's next album will feature music similar to Magnets, which suits her brilliantly - along with my house-hungry tastes!

4. Music to Watch Boys To - Lana Del Rey

Certainly her most enigmatic and enchanting music video yet, Music to Watch Boys To is a mini cinematic delight, evoking questions about boys, lust and pink flamingos that only a philosopher could truly pose. Well, I suppose that Lana is a sort of philosopher in her own right because her music is thought-provoking, albeit in a manner that still results in your cooing to I live to love you, and I love to love you, I live to love you boy under your breath in first period Maths. And, without needing to say it (yet I will because I really can't help myself), this music video is a visual masterpiece; combining black and white imagery with shocking technicolour, MTWBT is a beauty for the eyes, whilst its melody is so relaxing that I could probably adopt it as my bedtime lullaby. If only this song was about when I was a baby - my parents possibly would have had more restful nights...

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Thinking Beyond the Presents (Festive Post!)

As is typical with the festive season, I've been constantly wrapped up in layers of excitement, madness and sheer busyness as the countdown towards Christmas gets as close as the much-awaited release of the new Star Wars film (which, despite mentioning it so it looks as though I've actually bothered to take notice of current affairs of late, I'm not interested in seeing!). And now, with mere hours away until the day that shops, the media and our families will refuse to forget about for what feels like millions of months arrives - doesn't it just amaze you as to how the countdown is nearly up and the hardcore partying (with my cans of Tango Orange, nonetheless) simply awaits? 

To be honest, I've struggled to settle into the festive spirit, if you wish for me to call it such a term, this year than during previous Christmases, for reasons that I can somewhat understand and have absolutely no clue about, like why models always seem to have just missed out on purchasing a sold-out drop-dead gorgeous dress when they stomp down the runaway (though, as a so-called moaner according to my brother, I ought to relate more to it!). 

For starters, studying has consumed me like my brother devouring the richly fruity cake I made the other day for months and, although Christmas is the ideal time to toss my Science revision guides out of the window (for a little while as I'm not that kind of a rebel!), I'm not a robot in the sense that I can switch off my emotions, thoughts and indeed stresses. Like producing a mouth-watering souffle, time is the necessary ingredient in calming myself down as I get used to relaxing during Christmas and forgetting about whether I recognise the difference between infra red and microwaves for at least a couple of days. 

In addition to this, I feel that this year has definitely proved to me that I'm getting old. OK, not the kind where I'll swap my current present ideas of skinny jeans for anti-wrinkle creams so expensive that even thinking about spending a ridiculous amount of money is enough to create a particularly bad case of crow's feet! Instead, the aging blues affect me in the way that Christmas seems to live off the elation and pleasure that is mainly sourced from childhood delight which, as a once Bratz-loving eight year old (whose obsession with toys scarcely more dressed than a Victoria's Secret angel somewhat disturbs me nowadays!), I completely recognise. 

Ripping open teddy bear-patterned wrapping paper to find a Disney Princess mini oven (albeit years before The Great British Bake-Off graced our screens), travelling to a Toys 'R' Us in the middle of nowhere to choose which Bratz dolls my heart most desired for Christmas and receiving gifts that I had no slightest clue about until Christmas Day (unless my brother, ever the daredevil, decided to fill me in on the 'goss' upon 'accidentally' visiting the so-called 'secret' room beforehand) - these moments are not only the most magical memories that one could ever dream of experiencing, yet they are specifically for children which, as I closely approach my 17th birthday, I no longer identify as. 

Does it disappoint me to no longer be treated to special trips to mighty toy stores so that I can select which dolls or toys that spark a wave of happiness to splash within me, or I've now indeed progressed to using real (ridiculously hot) ovens instead of feeling like a pint-sized Nigella Lawson for producing a batch of mediocre, yet sweetly-flavoured cakes in my mini oven? Mostly, I'm grateful for progressing onto newer horizons because I now reserve the freedom to be more selective with what I want as I'm not limited to one specific category - a delightful mixture of books, CDs, clothes and lip glosses appeared on my Christmas list this year, which I suppose is more varied than the Barbie- or Bratz-addled ones I used to have as a pink-clad youngster. If anything, at least I can pride myself upon being able to make cakes and treats that no one in my family will pretend to like because they are actual food - there are only so many times that you can pretend that a limp-looking 'cake' out of a pink sachet is on a par with a homemade Victoria sponge, especially when you are no longer nine years old! 

Nevertheless, Christmas reminds me of how quickly I'm growing up which, like many things, both thrills and terrifies me at the same time; occasionally, I wish that Christmas could be like it used to be when I used to receive plenty of 'surprise' presents which, as pretty much anything girly went down a treat, I always loved. Despite reserving some of my budget for my parents to spend on a surprise gift, I travelled into nearest city yesterday to spend that budget however I wanted because they really couldn't think of anything that I might have liked. This once more proves the difficulties of shopping for teenagers - unsurprisingly, if I can't figure out what I want, it is very unlikely that anyone else can decide for me! Besides, I can comfort myself with knowing that I didn't impulse-buy which, when parents look for Christmas gifts to give to their children, must be rather tempting because it might look better to get something as modern day Christmas tradition seems to dictate that one must buy as many items, regardless of their crappiness, for their loved ones, even if they will probably turn their nose up to it or politely utter 'thank you' after receiving it before returning their 907th round of Flappy Bird.  

Sure, part of me might truly crave a surprise every once in a while - though I truly wouldn't be able to tell you what kind of one my heart craves like the voracious yearning for a Louis Vuitton bag - yet I'd rather receive things that I want instead of getting something which could possibly disappoint me, hence why I tend to prefer receiving money instead of gifts from relatives or friends because hardly anyone, let alone myself, has the precise answer to my shopping desires. Still, I'd never turn my nose up to a Dolce & Gabbana dress...

Since discussing my growing pains with Christmas today, I suppose that I'm feeling more 'Christmassy' than I previously did because Christmas can be presented in numerous ways, yet still retain its festive and certainly fun-tasting flavour. It might no longer taste as sweet and sugary as it did when I used to be presented with bags upon bags of chocolate coins (which I so wish could be used when paying for my shopping - well, everyone deserves a bit of sweetness here and then, don't they?), tubes of addictive Smarties or juicy Fruit Pastilles and selection boxes that contained my favourite chocolates, such as a plain yet extraordinary Cadbury's bar, a bag of Maltesers and Galaxy minstrels - yet Christmas is still Christmas in whatever shape or form you want it to be as you get older, which I should never lose focus of. 

Nowadays, my Christmases are more under-stated, quieter and (thankfully) less destructive towards my metabolism as I lose my taste for certain chocolates or sweets (though a novelty container of berry-flavoured Jelly Babies found their way into the shopping bag yesterday), yet I nonetheless appreciate them just as much as I always have and will. It's just that I now see beyond the presents, and fully appreciate the importance and beauty of the food, music, films (even the ones that I shouldn't really admit to watching at this age; Disney is to blame for that!) and spending time with my family. And also realising that I'm indeed not an exam machine and I deserve time to relax at home - and what better time to do that than at Christmas?

All in all, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a brilliant New Year that I hope is filled with as much positivity, good luck and happiness as you deserve. Also, thanks for reading my blog which, despite taking a back seat from working on it for the past few months, still means a lot to me as it has proven to be the best possible platform for releasing the furious vibes that only one can experience during a spectacularly bad teenage meltdown. Here's to a fantastic (and minimally moan-free) 2016!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Appreciating Christmas

With just another four and a half days to go until I finally break up for my long-awaited Christmas break, it's fair to say that excitement is gradually bubbling up like a simmering pot of gravy; as each day passes in a rain-soaked breeze, festive spirit warms up even more of my room, which has now firmly established my appreciation of the festive holidays awaiting me. Presents! Food! Films! And so many lie-ins that my head will literally explode with extra sleep! What more could I ask for from my favourite time of year? The possibility of sitting terrifying exams - albeit less grotesque than seeing a live spider being eaten on TV last Sunday which, when coupled with my consumption of a hearty roast dinner, is hardly an award-winning combination - would be a particularly special treat, though I'm not banking on it...

However, one thing that I can most definitely rely on is getting a much-needed rest from exams, revision and homework for a little while: a present that, unlike the gorgeous penguin jumper that sent me into a fit of ecstatic squeals of adoration when I saw it on the H&M website the other week (hint, hint!), cannot be wrapped in lashings of teddy bear paper or stylised with a shimmery bow. Without a trace of amusement in my words, I really have needed a break from my studies for weeks because the workload is constantly increasing like adverts for overcooked turkey and scrawny-looking vegetables gaining more airspace on TV; in some ways, coming to terms with the spine-chilling fact that my exams are only six months away from taking place is slowly freaking me out. Big time!!!

Obviously, panic is only a natural emotion and, if I didn't feel at all concerned about having to sit approximately twenty exams within the period of six to seven weeks next summer, even more concern would be stapled into my already-fluttering stomach. That's not to say that I'm as thrilled as my cats receiving a new toy to play with to their hearts' content (in the form of my used cotton wool buds!) about my mini mental meltdown about establishing the paths I take in my life within less than half a year's time because, like all Year 11s across the country, I'm secretly sick about the thought of undergoing such an intrusive, stressful and dramatic process in order to get to my ideal destination: sixth form.

Although I sometimes think that one needs to suffer in order to enjoy the good things in life, I don't necessarily apply this belief to my own circumstances of sitting a ridiculous amount of exams - as whiny and reminiscent of a six year old throwing a tantrum in the toy aisle at Teso might sound, it's not fair!!! Still, neither I nor the millions of teenagers in this country possess the power to change the inevitable, which is sitting our GCSEs next year. And, just for at least a little while (as my Science teacher has decided to dump three past papers to complete over the holidays due to many people in m class getting U grades in their mock exams - quite unjust that I must be punished for their laziness, too), I want to get wrapped up in festive fever and remind myself to relax a little bit more.

Of course, getting decent grades in my mocks, controlled assessments, coursework, homework and my actual exams next year is my number one priority, yet there are numerous things that cannot be measured by letters listed on a piece of paper that I'll receive on Results Day next August. What will be among those things? Happiness. Without a good-sized dose of happiness in my life, I will certainly struggle to leap through the final hurdle before I sit and survive the gruelling exam season. Why? At the end of the day, I'm not an exam machine - and neither are all of my friends and peers who await the same fate as me. As if I want the day when I broke down in tears over struggling to revise the menstrual cycle to be my most defining moment of 2015! And yeah, of all the subjects to get stressed about, it had to be about periods - how I have such an ability to indulge in irony during my saddest moments!

Therefore, I absolutely cannot wait to kickstart the festivities next week, which will be celebrated by my starting the long, yet worthwhile process of making my annual Christmas cake, complete with thick layers of marzipan (giving me an ideal excuse for eating hand-sized balls of it when no one is looking in my direction!) and beautifully plumped up dried fruit that is rich with brandy (by the way, the closest that I will be getting to alcohol during the festive season). Beyond that, I'll probably rewatch all of the Christmas films that I've ever seen because, like stuffing yourself with more sausage rolls than one could possibly eat over the course of a year within five minutes, why not?

Though, if you are wondering, I'm not that fussed about eating the 'snacky' foods such as crisps (despite eating a bag of ready-salted at school yesterday, but that was a very special treat!) or canapes this year, preferring to eat the homemade stuff as it not only tastes a million times better, but it is usually healthier, too. Besides, as all long-suffering sisters will know, once your brothers reaches adolescence, you will stand a very slim chance of eating anything remotely 'unhealthy' - as he will have eaten everything apart from the crumbs first! No wonder that I'm left with little choice other than to hide biscuits and chocolate underneath my bed...

All in all, I'm increasingly warming up to the prospect of Christmas arriving on my doorstep in less than a fortnights' time - despite being closer to an adult than a child nowadays (as I'm less than two months away from turning 17 - yikes!!!), I still share the love and wonder of my seven year old self when Christmas is here as it is the best escape from the everyday hassles and going-ons in life. Just another few days until the holidays are here!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Settling Back into the Blogosphere

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction, I am rising from beneath piles of sheets, mind maps and felt tip pens to return to blogging, which I have desperately missed for ages

Honestly, losing track of the time in between uploading my posts is so easy when I'm consumed with work which, for the record, I'm definitely not exaggerating about - well, try sitting a ridiculous number of mock exams within the space of two weeks! Thankfully for my (and everybody else's) sake, my mocks have reached a delightful end, and I can now relax a little bit more; without a doubt, having a nervous breakdown over the menstrual cycle is certainly not how I wish to spend my weekend!

Anyway, I've been pretty much just trying to survive the unavoidable stresses which slap you in the face like a frisbee whacking a Hollywood star's fake nose all month and, if I do say so myself, I think that I've done quite a good job. For starters, I was one mark off a B in both my Biology and Chemistry mocks - so close to reaching my aspirational targets that I could literally feel euphoria bursting inside of me like a firework exploding in the sky - yet I'm nonetheless thrilled with my progress because I completely missed out on studying the specific units due to not attending my present school when they originally taught it. 

As was the case when I joined my school one year ago next Friday (which I shall be celebrating by sitting my Science ISA all day - never have I preserved such a ironic sense of humour), I've had to devote a lot of time to catching up in Science which, as it doesn't come naturally to me like annotating a poem or translating a passage in French does, has considerably stressed me out over the past few weeks. Despite my reputation for slightly over-exaggerating my views at times, I couldn't have possibly been closer to the truth by describing my immense fear of sitting my Science mocks around two weeks ago: I was certain that failure was destined to pour teardrops of despair upon me. Still, I carried on revising as much as I could, and hoped for the best - fortunately, I managed to pass all of my Science mocks, unlike quite a few of my fellow classmates who did not miss out on being taught the content! 

All in all, I'm only starting to pull myself out of the vast pool that is my studies for the first time in weeks and, between yourself and I, doing what I want to do - without being crushed by waves of guilt for 'wasting' precious hours that could be used for revision - has lifted a massive weight off my shoulders. Of course, I have no regrets over giving up certain activities - such as this blog - for the sake of literally tattooing algebraic equations onto my brain because my confidence in many subjects, such as Maths and obviously Science, has soared as a result of realising my abilities; beforehand, I wasn't entirely sure about whether I could reach my aspirations in all of my subjects, yet these fears are slowly melting away and being replaced with a strengthened belief in myself. 

OK, catching up with my favourite TV shows guarantees hours of priceless entertainment, but will it lend me a helping hand as I waltz down a path to my personal success? Not really. Making sacrifices has been difficult at times because I've been forced to fight against the urge to indulge in my deepest pleasures, such as baking a batch of cookies or going into town for the afternoon, yet I wouldn't have it any other way if giving up several things is necessary for achieving success. Besides, the said sacrifices don't last forever - as if I'd willingly stay away from the TV remote for longer than a week or two!

Despite my mocks seemingly filling up every spare moment that I've had of late, time has nevertheless been reserved for thinking about my future which, like Christmas, is approaching nearer and nearer towards me everyday. For a while, I had been asking myself about whether I wanted to stay or move on from my current school after Year 11 is over. The reason why? Unlike other sixth forms in the local area, my school would limit my A-Level options to just three instead of the usual four, which I strongly felt would make the usually agonising task of settling on a single career significantly harder because of having a restricted taste in possible subject areas. 

Although I only found this out around a week ago, my school has dropped French from its A-Level curriculum from next year, which is an absolute no-no: I would be a chef with no culinary skills if I had to abandon ma belle langue seconde! Therefore, whether I liked the idea or not before, I definitely will not be staying on at my school this time next year, which promises a fresh adventure for me before I hopefully go to university and beyond. 

A fortnight ago, I attended an open evening for the selective girls' sixth form in town, which ironically fell on the same day that I'd started my mock exams (in Maths and English Language) and was the night before my Biology mock (further contributing to my then-hysterical levels of panic). Nevertheless, I managed to block out my stress and worry for a few hours to be enchanted by the sixth form, which not only offers all of the A-Levels I want to study (English Lit, Sociology, Media and, evidemment, French) but demonstrated a calmer and quieter atmosphere that I much prefer. 

Instead of standing out for having a so-called 'posh' accent as I do at my current school (which people, even the ones I get on well with, have an habit of reminding me about), all of the girls at the sixth form spoke just as well, which made me realise that perhaps I'm better suited to their sort of environment. They dress smartly, unlike the sixth formers in my present school who consider a tube skirt which barely covers their underwear to be 'appropriate' for learning, and shared an enthusiasm for their studies which has established me as a 'freak' at my current school. Although most of the teachers are extremely willing to help their pupils to reach their potential, I've realised that my personal happiness at my current school is not the best that it can be, and I don't want to look back at my education in ten years' time and wonder why I didn't get a taste of different kind of place when the opportunity was available to me. 

As of this week, my application at the selective sixth has been posted, along with one that I'd sent to a non-selective, but high-performing school in the nearest city; I have no intention of making an application to my school's sixth form, so my academic life is destined to change once more in less than a year's time. After going through the stress of switching schools almost a year ago, am I unhappy at the thought of moving again? To be honest, I'm looking forward to the change. Sixth form only lasts two years and, before I'll even have a spare second to blink my eyelids, I will be walking among the millions of adults in the country, gradually forgetting what it was like to be young and on the cusp of freedom. If I have the choice to make those two years the most academically enriching and personally elated years of my school life, I will seize it with all of my might. Well, there are times for foolishness (like when I nearly stumbled down the stairs after my leg had decided to fall into a state of heavy numbness) - yet decisions as massive as these must be excused from such ignorance! 

On a less serious note, I'm starting to get ready for the upcoming festive season, which I'm getting more excited about as my enthusiasm for cosy jumpers, light-hearted films and chocolate logs grows each day; whatever happens, Christmas is always here, and I cannot wait for the holidays to begin in less than three weeks' time. Hopefully, I'll manage to sort out my Christmas list by the end of this weekend, yet doing so is always hard because my 17th birthday - which just proves how old I'm getting! - is only five weeks afterwards. Still, it will all work out; well, my parents are reminding me to get on with it!

Here's for a peaceful and revision-free (or at least refraction-free) weekend, which I've been dreaming of for more time than I'm actually bothered to count!