Monday, 28 July 2014

It Feels So Scary... Getting Old

Every now and then, I look up from my book and glance at my not-so-exciting surroundings, taking in the views which are captured by my camera lens (a.k.a. eyes). It is a habit that, as a short-sighted person, I'm supposed to do at least every twenty minutes, but often discover a half-decent excuse to wiggle my way out of doing it - and keeping up my end of the bargain with Specsavers.

On the occasions that I do take my attention away from either a book or laptop, thoughts swirl like streaks of white and blue in toothpaste inside my mind as all potential distractions - this blog included - fade away. And, provided that I've completed this oh-so-vital stage, I can finally think in the peaceful sanctuary which I refer to as my bedroom.

So, as all nosy people (including myself) are desperate to hear, what do I think about? Depending on whether I've hit a high or a low in relation to my mood, my thoughts vary from hormonal anger to tranquil calmness. However, there are times when I'm neither on top of the world nor have sunk below the surface - my position therefore becomes quite awkward because I'm stuck in the middle. When I say stuck, no other word describes it better.

Stuck and trapped in a land of neutral feelings and thoughts is as boring as your imagination could conjure: nothing stirs any emotion within you, nor are you given any indication to how you might be feeling. Although nobody would put their hand in sheer joy at being down in the dumps (the secret is that you cannot be joyful), at least you and your mind are put at ease with the knowledge that you are aware of your sullenness. Meanwhile, being caught in-between crossroads restricts you from choosing which path - either one of Happiness or Misery - you wish to follow, until the fogginess exits your mind.

Yet staying neutral from both ends of the scale has enabled me to discover thoughts and opinions which would neither be associated with breezy cheerfulness nor melancholy despair. In fact, a fear that, like a rash, flares up from time to time doesn't have an opportunity to be lumped into one category because it's existence is only temporary. It appears out of nowhere while my mind is focused on other matters, catching me out with no warning given before it arrives. And, once the sheer shock has been flooded out of my system, I gain the necessary tools to ward it off back to where it belongs... which, of all things, I don't even know. All that I'm aware of is that it is randomly resurrected, and preys on me like a cat eyeing up a chunky-looking pigeon. Unless I shrug off its fearful powers for good, it will return again and again when it is least expected.

And the fear? Getting older.

Though I have a long way to go until I near a mid-life crisis or yelp with excitement when a revitalizing anti-wrinkle cream in released at Boots, getting older is a fear which sometimes crosses my thoughts and plays with my mind. Like death, it is one of the few certainties during our several decades on this planet and, regardless of our desires to stay eternally young, nothing can prevent us from aging.

With age, we are given access to several privileges which come into force as soon as we reach a certain point in our lives. For example, it is our right to learn how to drive a car once we celebrate our 17th birthday which, if we were younger, would not be allowed by Law. So, there are plenty of things to look forward to while we are growing up which, depending on our level of maturity, we might wish to have sooner than later.

At school, seeing fellow classmates emulate adults with 'cool' slang and excessive make-up both amuses me and fills me with horror. To the naked eye, it is obvious that they are trying to look much older than they actually are, but the lack of subtlety ruins the aura of maturity they are so evidently failing to put on.

If I have to contend with ghastly sights - which would not look out of place at circus - on a daily basis, how could I not unearth some amusement from it? You would think that, with plenty of compact mirrors to hand, they would see the downsides of over-applying mascara and orange foundation which makes their skin resemble a glass of Tango. But no, they are reluctant to realise that they don't have to be in grown-up mode all the time - especially if they wrongly believe that exposing their thighs is an adult's role.

That's the complete opposite of the scale, and is a stage which is often explored by many teenagers and young adults. We detest the slow rate at which we are getting older and, while puberty all but wrecks our bodies, we decide to take some inspiration from the ever-so-mighty adults in the meantime. But, beneath the skin-tight dresses and vibrant eye shadow, does it bring us any actual happiness? It is an escape from the present which provides a perfect distraction while our need to ignore our current life is at its most desperate. We don't wish to be reminded about whether we have caught up with the rest of our classmates, nor do we want to be left out, so walking in the shoes of an adult occupies us for the meantime.

On the other hand, getting older carries more responsibilities than the amount of homework we are given in a week, both inside the classroom and outside of it. The faults in society and life itself are no longer disguised as you are expected to recognize and put up with them, in the hope of making your own way in the world safely. The chores that our parents would used to do for us are then handed over to us, with the threat of losing out on a week's worth of pocket money if we fail to do it - or even perform the action well. Schoolwork gets tougher as the all-important exams approach us, their results determining the outcome of future careers and success.

And all of this pressure just makes you want to scream - and wish that you would never grow up!

Growing up is hard work and, as it goes on without a moment's rest, the toll that it can take on you is too great to even contemplate. Before we are legally allowed to work full-time, we will have gone through eighteen years of birthdays, learning, developing and growing up. And, unlike adults, we don't receive a penny for our hard work. Then, once we have finished our A-Levels or our time at college has come to an end, we are tossed into the meanest lion enclosure: work.

In order to survive and relish independence, making a living is vital for not only paying the rent but being successful; after all, isn't that what we prize above almost everything else in life? As the world is still struggling to regain the power it held before the recession hit, the prospect of finding a decent job are enormously low for the next generation of workers - and my future. Success at school is paramount if I aim to seek a well-paid job - or at least an internship - and, with less than two years until I take my GCSEs, the pressure to succeed is stronger than ever before.

Pressure is why a small, yet significant part of me doesn't want grow up. It scares the hell out of me that, in only two and a half years' time, I will be old enough to vote, work and watch The Exorcist without my parents' permission. As for the working part, another year will go by until I finish my A-Levels or apprenticeship (for now, a decision has not yet been made), so I won't be thrust into the lions' den until I'm 19 at the most.

But it doesn't change how I feel on rare occasions - and the nail-biting fear it creates. It only seems like yesterday when I was eight years old and being home-schooled for the first time; where did all of those years go? One moment, I was having the time of my life whilst playing with Bratz dolls, then I'm enclosed in a cage with eight hundred people at my new school. How could time pass so quickly without my realizing it? It doesn't make any sense. Confusion is meddling with my mind and mixing its contents into one spectacular mess which, if Dad isn't around to clean it up, I'll have to hoover with the nightmarish Dyson.

Giving up past habits and embracing new ones play important roles in the Cycle of Life, and is a tradition which will forever remain. Like the annual ritual of re-watching The Lost Boys, some things never change. It doesn't matter how often I wish for a change of circumstance - especially one as great as staying young - because the world cannot be altered for the sake of satisfying my needs. My greatest need is to pass my GCSEs and move onto higher education which, after the pre-exam stress hell, will relieve me of an enormous weight of my shoulders.

If luck is on my side, the next two years will pass by in a blur, and I'll be attending my first day of Sixth Form before I know it. That is what thrills me when I think about growing up, but there is a long journey ahead until I reach it.

Getting older might be part of the deal, but it won't be such a burden once exam success is mine.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Greatest Teen Films to Have Ever Graced Our Planet

Films, films, films. Without a cheesy rom-com or a black-and-white classic to spice up our TV-watching schedules, what would we do? Life won't be quite the same if films suddenly ceased to exist in the world, including the most addictive of all... teen movies.

As a teenager who has claimed to have 'gone through it all' - or perhaps the entire tube of spot-fighting lotion - I would of course possess some knowledge regarding the scandalous subject of teen films. Call them whatever you like. Coming of age landmarks. Girl-gets-her-first-kiss-and-likes-it. Drama over nothing whatsoever. At the end of the day, the genre is still the same. So, is it any wonder that teen films continue to entertain us, both young and old (though a 70 year old watching American Pie would be pushing it a bit), and provide us with a meaningful purpose whilst enjoying our downtime?

To those whose memories of their teenager years have long faded or don't have the heart to care over oh-so-dramatic characters, teenage films will hardly stir any hints of a snort or a grin, whereas the rest of us will be spitting out our not-so-wise large gulps of Coke onto the leather sofa. That's alright because teenagers - including films about them - aren't for everyone, although I like to believe (like any goody-two-shoes would) that I would get on like a house on fire with people of all ages.

Therefore, the pale and lifeless-looking teens in Twilight are partly to blame: who would willingly associate themselves with teenagers whose gormless complexions have seen better days? Oh well, time cannot be wasted on thinking about people whose interests solely lie within the BBC 2 channel - films which have defined my generation and others before me are of higher importance!

Whenever schoolwork or handing life's little problems pile more pressure than you can cope with upon you, there is nothing wrong about breaking down and having a little cry. Then watching a film. Believe me, the likes of teen cinema have dragged me out of more depressive currants than any life guard would. Like being transported to a different world within a book, films offer me a glimpse into somebody else's life which, depending on whether it is fictional or based on a real story, is usually much worse than what I sometimes contend with. Have I ever been threatened with a gun whilst clad in the most slim-fitting red dress, like something out of a Special K advert? No way. Was my name mentioned in a pink-coloured book in which classmates were ridiculed and dissed? As if I've ever laid eyes upon such a thing.

Unsurprisingly, films are more dramatic than the events would probably be in real life but, as ticket sales and cult followings suggest, it works well for everyone: we, the cinema-goers, get a thrill out of watching an amazing film, whilst the production companies earn millions from our pockets. But, despite being short of a few pennies, we still love the films which are our go-to friends (if such a title is suitable for a DVD) whenever the going gets tough, or we seek a temporary escape from hard-going reality. And, during the six traumatic years of teenhood, we rely upon the necessities more than ever as they are the few things which remain stable and rarely let us down. Family, friends and chocolate fall within the category and - you guessed it! - teen films are also included, their foolproof ways a consistent source of pleasure and downright good entertainment.

Yet, in order to be classed as a definite teen film, there are several unsaid rules which must be obeyed and followed to the strictest fashion. They are:

  1. Every film pledging to reach out to teenagers have to promote a message, or at least teach us something which we wouldn't learn in Maths class. From staying true to friends or developing confidence, teen viewers need to have recognized the importance of whatever the film is aiming to teach us. Whatever adults might think, teenagers want to use their brains every once in a while. Even when it comes to the dos and don'ts of apple pie. 
  2. A film must be so extraordinary that we cannot think, eat, sleep or do anything without it interrupting our must-do activities. Think of a stalker: what do they want? For a teenager obsessed with the greatest piece in cinema ever, they need the film above everything else!
  3. An audience has to yell with joy when the two leading stars kiss each other in the film's steamiest or most iconic scene. Now that is cinema at its greatest.
  4. Romance, shyness or misery are mandatory in a teen film. There are absolutely no excuses about not doing this one; ignoring or disobeying it would go down as a crime. Otherwise, how will we be able to relate with the characters - and witness our wildest dreams being brought to life?
  5. Lastly, where would we be without mind-blowing soundtracks? Whether it is the timeless vocals on Don't You Forget About Me or the perfect sing-along Supermodel, these songs are permanently embedded in our brains, as unforgettable as the films in which they were featured. Music + classic teen film = a happy teenager. If only maths could be as easy (and fun) in real life!
However, it is somewhat expected that several rules will occasionally be broken - despite our best intentions, some regulations are not always easy to follow! Whether I am the exception or not, some films don't keep me up until the early hours in the morning nor prevent me from having an overdose on ice cream, yet they are nonetheless extraordinary! 

The fact that I'm taking time out (and sweltering in my bedroom as a heatwave rages outdoors) to write about these films must prove how important they are to me, so it doesn't matter whether some rules are ditched - or even whether the films feature kissing scenes! Yet a definite teen film would be going against the Mother of All Rules if not a single kiss sent shivers down both the characters and the audiences' spines, wouldn't it? 

Like a single perfect red rose given on Valentine's Day, films are cherished for as long as they stir emotions within you which, if the horrifying sight of an acne breakout is never swept away from your thoughts, ought to last forever. These films are the ones that I cherish - and, even when my teenage years draw to a close, won't be forgotten in a hurry!

1. Clueless (1995)

Perhaps one of the best known and loved teenage films of the 90s - otherwise recognized as the definite era for teenagers, in which young adults came into their own (and I was born!) - Clueless combines comedy with love and kindness towards others. Shrieks of laughter and amused smirks come thick and fast during the film which, after watching it once, you know that you have to see again.
Loosely based on Jane Austen's 1816 novel Emma, Clueless tells the tale of a fifteen year old called Cher (as named after the famous singer) who lives and goes to school in Beverly Hills. Wealthy, pretty and popular, Cher and her best friend Dionne befriend a new girl, Tai, at their school who, as a studious geek, is worlds apart from the pair. But, being eager to help others, Cher has no problem with turning Tai into her mini-me!
While the clothes, expressions and attitudes are slightly out-dated in comparison to the present day, Clueless is timeless as ever, and is truly worthy being called a Teen Classic. Like a fine wine, it gets better and better each time you watch it because every word and meaning behind it becomes more relevant - and you realize why it has such a strong cult following.
Besides, who would ever tire of Cher's fabulous outfits? Not many could pull off a yellow checked jacket and skirt without resembling a wasp, but she definitely could!

2. Mean Girls (2004)

Having only just started at a new school after being educated at home for seven years, Mean Girls was literally my life in a film. A new girl from a different country (or, in my case, another county) starts at school for the first time (for me, secondary school), and succumbs to the bitchiest girls on campus (whereas I've had a few run-ins). Besides a pre-party animal Lindsay Lohan and her flame-red hair, Mean Girls was an exact copy of what I've gone through in the past two months or so. And, unlike the giggles abound in Clueless, Mean Girls is the film which I can relate to the most - and still enjoy it as much as ever!
Fifteen year old Cady has just moved back from Africa after spending the past twelve years there while her parents have worked as zoologists, and is just about to attend high school for the first time. Her first day was awkward as she got used to school life, but she soon makes friends with the less popular but nicer kids.
However, the Plastics - a clique of the three most popular (and meanest) girls at school - start chatting to Cady and allow her to hang out with them. This gives Cady the perfect opportunity to spy on the girls and find out what they are really like. Meanwhile, her well-meaning friends are all for it and encourage her to do it, but over time, it seems that Cady is turning into a Plastic!
A teen comedy with a message behind the high heels and glossy lips, Mean Girls explores the bad side of high school and how popularity brings the worst out of people. Yes, the kissing and sly backstabbing might be more dramatic than what you would expect in real life, but it is an honest portrayal of reality - and one of which we would rather pretend did not exist.
The expressions and phrases have long been part of the English language and, ten years after it was released, fanfare for Mean Girls is still going strong. Just tell me: what ever happened to 'fetch'?

3. The Breakfast Club (1985)

Often regarded as one of the best high school films ever, it is hardly surprising that I've included The Breakfast Club on this list which, not only introduced us to the legendary Brat Pack, but also the director and writer who created their films, John Hughes.
It isn't often when we stop to think about the people who created the films which we love and cherish so dearly, but John Hughes - who sadly passed away in 2009 - was the definite film writer for teens whose work spoke for us and expressed our feelings in ways we didn't know how.
If anything, he was the one who created the teen genre and made it accessible to people of all ages around the world. From the moment that The Breakfast Club was released nearly thirty years ago, cinema had changed forever: teenagers have a voice and, unlike ever before, deserve to have it heard.
Stuck in detention at seven o' clock on a Saturday morning, five people - from entirely different backgrounds - are thrown into a room together. There is an athlete, a brain, a basket case, a criminal and a princess - and, as each come from different cliques, none of them believe they share anything in common. To make matters worse, they are obliged to stay in their chairs, not speak or go to sleep for a period of over eight hours, making the most of the time to write a 1,000 word long essay about who they believe they are. Just exactly what you'd love to do at the weekend!
Over time, however, the five people - three guys, two girls - gradually get to know each other by talking or, for a while, arguing. The greatest thing about The Breakfast Club is that the not-so-easy subjects are brought up, such as suicide, abuse and virginity - the audience, mainly teenagers, are not shielded from discussions which would otherwise be more appropriate for adults. It was a landmark for teenagers and cinema when the film was released in the mid-80s', and that feeling of wow takes your breath away - to a certain extent, I'm still reeling from it a year on!
Of course, the famous scenes - dancing on tables is a scene I wish to recreate - make you envy them because, unfortunately, not all of us are privileged to hang out with cool kids on a Saturday morning. At times like this, I yearn for life to be more like The Breakfast Club!
Final word: just watch the film and be amazed by classic 80s' cinema. It's time well spent!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Life Beyond the Playground

A mere twenty four hours ago, my first term - six exhausting weeks of piercing looks, offensive comments and occasional piles of homework - was drawn to close. Gone. Finished. Done.

By the time that I shot out of the building to catch the bus home, my mind had been swept into a currant stronger than the sea: it was impossible to believe that, after spending nearly two months dreaming of the summer holidays to arrive, they had finally landed. And, to a certain extent, I've been walking around in a similar daze today, unable to collect my thoughts and re-arrange them into a neat and Mum-approved pile.

It's just... hmm. For perhaps once in my entire life, no words can disguise my feelings nor protect me like a sword defending a warrior. As a wannabe psychologist (one thing that I did think about before losing my mind was entering psychiatry if a career in journalism did not work out), I'm usually up-to-date with how I'm feeling, and like to believe that I know myself as well as Cheryl Cole's life story.

But right now, I just don't know what is going on with my mind because, to my lack of knowledge, I have put up barriers which are preventing myself from peeping inside. In simpler words (for my brain cannot process such demanding ones), I am the culprit who has created the oh-so-glorious mess which is my beloved, yet clouded mind. My thought machine. Partner in crime. Portable workbank. Oh, how I would love nothing more than to discover what is making it as cloudy as a plain British sky!

Before I get stuck in the task of freeing myself from, well, myself, let's take a step back in time - or at least the past few days - which might or might not give an indication to how I'm currently feeling. One moment, millions of butterflies were the sole root of pre-assessment nerves exactly one week ago, then I was jumping from place to place (as much as you possibly could whilst clad in skin-tight jeans) as the days got nearer to the summer holidays beginning their six week long reign. Never have the words roller coaster had a greater impact on me like ever before because, as the dictionary advises, my life has been riding at a high-speed pace 24/7.

From getting ready before heading out the door each morning to preparing for the new week ahead of me at the weekend, no escape has been granted from the one-and-only focus in my life: school. Whatever I read, study, think and talk about, school is almost always the main subject, regardless of whether I'm doing something completely unrelated to it. Discussions about latest world affairs quickly morph into rants about teacher strikes, whereas I cannot get enough of reading stories based in high schools, absorbing the words like a sponge.

Now that it has been laid out bare in front of the internet's watchful glare, there is a question that I must ask myself: am I obsessed with school? If other teenagers were asked such a thing, a muttered response of 'no' would be mumbled out of their lips, eager to not make the truth public - or at least Facebook - knowledge. But me? I run this blog for the sake of being honest about teenage life, and how oh-so-cruel it can be to puberty's unfortunate minions, such as my spot-suffering self. So, with the possibility of a lie-detector test being imposed if I refuse to answer, spilling the beans is a necessity.

Without needing to call a news conference and say it out loud in front of my favourite TV stations, you will hear the truth from the horse's mouth, or at least my Vaseline-coated lips. I am obsessed with school, and put my heart and soul into thinking about it whenever a chance to participate in my new-found activity is up for grabs. Forget baking a cake which would delight not only my family but my greedy-as-ever appetite. Pay no attention to my need to pluck a pair of eyebrows as overgrown as a rainforest. And there is certainly not enough time given to indulging on a beloved hobby - blogging. Life is usually about school, homework, friends/frenemies, weekly portions of half-soft chips and school yet again. And, as I catch my first glimpse of freedom, where does it leave me? Dazed and confused.

Yet, if I'd given myself more than five minutes to think about it, being caught in the grip of confusion isn't nearly as surprising as it seems. For one thing, I've been living in a permanent mindset for the purpose of going to school before I even started, back in the days of ringing up establishments all over the county. Like my previous life in a different part of the country, the world before starting secondary school is a distant memory, and only comes back to me in short bursts. Those memories are blurred in comparison to the fresh ones which flout around my mind in the present, despite some I would prefer to not remember. But it is those that I'm keen to cherish and preserve for as long as possible because, despite not being appreciated enough at the time, they mean more to me a few months on. They took place in a time which is worlds apart with my life of late, and don't stir any trouble within my blurred mind.

Needless to say, there are many things which I miss about my life before attending school became a major part of it. I miss not having to get out of bed to go to a place at which I'm trapped for over seven hours five days per week. I miss studying in silence and learning something at my own pace. I miss being at home. my ultimate safe haven. I miss my family and, of course, my cherished kittens who are now growing up without me by their side all the time - and they miss me.

The list of all the things that I miss could go on forever if I possessed the energy to jot every single thing down, but you get the picture. Time is a great healer, as I sometimes say, because it gives you more perspective as you get further away from events which come to define you. Though the months that passed after my cats' deaths last year somewhat eased my grief, the same magic - if you would ever consider calling it so - hasn't cast a soothing spell over my feelings at school. In fact, my first day and a half was the easiest time at my new school as I had not been awoke to the horrors which existed within the premises - and beyond the corridors, as I would later find out.

Granted with the benefit of time, pupils have shown their true colours and given me an insight into not only what they are like, but also the school itself. And, unknown to my family and I when we were taken on a tour around it a few weeks before I started, there were many things which were casually swept underneath the carpet that, as soon as I signed the application form, came into existence from the moment I became the school's newest pupil. With little or no knowledge of secondary schools to hand, how was I supposed to anticipate the questions - most of which either offended or irritated me beyond belief - that would be tossed at me once I entered the playground? In that sense, I feel cheated after being attracted by a beautiful picture which the school painted specially for my eyes: after over six weeks of experience under my belt, I realized ages ago that such perfection does not exist.

Perfection is an image conjured by wishes we want to come true, despite the odds being highly unlikely in our favour. I feel like a fool for getting caught up in the moment and expecting the very best from my school because, no matter how hard anybody tries, it lacked a proper chance of being achieved. Unless the pupils suddenly stopped getting on my nerves and lockers - the ultimate reprieve from constant carrying of my (heavy) backpack and P.E. kit - being installed across campus, the school would have faced an all-mighty challenge to live up to the dream whose existence remained in my imagination. So, having to acknowledge and accept that life itself isn't bursting with dreamlike perfection has knocked me for six, and is a lesson which I'm still on the path to understanding.

Therefore, the summer holidays won't be a complete escape from The Land of Learning as lessons about life will continue to be taught long after the final bell has been rung throughout school. But as my former status as a home-schooler included lessons left untaught on the National Curriculum - e.g. developing common sense a rarity in this modern age - I'm used to looking beyond the surface, and it is a tool which will hopefully become my advantage in the future.

Many paragraphs later, a question - though unasked until now has a right to be plucked into the air - deserves to be asked by none other than my inquisitive self: how do I feel now? Has the fog cleared the misty remains of my mind, or is my head as blurred as the lines whose crudeness Robin Thicke was unable to comprehend?

There are no right or wrong answers, so I'm going to say that, thanks to a spell in blogging therapy, my recovery from end-of-school fever has begun. Realizing that attending school is no longer compulsory until the new year begins in September is yet another shock to the system, especially as I have only just gotten used to going there! And, as a heatwave rages on across the country, sleep is as prized as the latest iPhone; you know that you have been blessed if restlessness doesn't affect you in any way whatsoever. My eyes droop as I struggle to stay focused while writing this, and I dread getting out of bed each morning - despite lie-ins being re-introduced into my routine!

Change is hard and, despite getting to grips with it in the past year alone, I'm not immune to the strains that it sometimes brings. Humanity accepts moments of weakness and, if my mind isn't as bright as it usually is, so be it. Like a phoenix from the ashes, I'll rise*. Well, it was a poem that I was taught at school this summer. My mind can't be too bad if I can recall its most famous line, can it?

*Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Most Amazing and Tiring Week of the Year

As a precaution, I don't often utter the word amazing whenever I describe things because, in my opinion, it has become an overused cliché among people under the age of 30. From giving a tell-all verdict about last night's episode of The Only Way is Essex to analyzing the brilliance of Justin Bieber's squeaky voice, amazing seems to be applied to almost everything which we regard as a positive. Hearing the word being used all the time, whether I'm in the company of ecstatic girls at school or even browsing the horror film selection at the supermarket, drives me around the bend because it begs the question: don't any other adjectives exist?

Yet, here I am using a word which, like a carton of sensationally fattening whipped cream, I love to hate. As my head starts to sort through the fog which is typically after an extended lie-in - staying in bed until almost 9am has definitely uncovered my inner devil - more words will undoubtedly spring to mind, but I'm sticking with amazing for now.

After all, this week has, in a sense, been a mixture of amazement and exhaustion - yet another curse of an oh-so-hot heatwave - and is worthy of receiving an amazing description. For one thing, I was absent from school on Monday and Tuesday, therefore missing P.E. - which, unlike what it says on the tin, teaches you how to wipe away bugs crawling on your skin within the stroke of a sharp slap - and Sports Day.

Before professionally plucked eyebrows are raised, I can assure that I did not pull a sickie in order to wiggle my way out of doing some exercise because, as my parents will tell you, I was well and truly under the weather. Thanks to my brother, whose germ-spreading antics often cause epidemics within the family home, I caught the same bug which forced him to stay at home for one trigonometry-free day last week. This caused me to stay in the comfort of my bed on Friday because, not only could I be bothered to get up, my nose was blocked like a plughole. Even my mum, who has made her point about going to school whenever possible in the past, realized that I was in no state to attend that day - oh well, at least I got a free pass out of Maths first thing!

As for the weekend, I had been expecting to feel better and gradually recover from this bug which, like my brother's, I assumed would be temporary. How wrong I was! Apart from making (and stuffing myself with) a batch of muesli cookies, I didn't have the strength to do anything else which led to me wallowing in melancholy misery for the rest of the weekend; why did I have to suffer while everybody else was able to do whatever they wished? To add more insult to the injury, my complexion broke out as a result of feeling rundown, and I had nowhere to hide as I peered at the red spots scattered over my chin, which looked as angry as I felt. The end of last week was filled with misery and, as a further blow to my vanity, self-pity. It's amazing - although I wish to make clear that it was not positive at all - that illness can wreck with your mind to such an extent that knowing that you're unwell is worse than being so.

Luckily, things began to look up when this week - which served a reminder of the nearing summer holidays that will commence after next Wednesday - rolled around. After my cold reached its peak at the weekend, I slowly began to regain my strength, so it came as a massive relief that my illness would soon be on its way out. However, I still wasn't feeling 100% by Monday morning and, like the Friday before, getting out of bed was sheer hell, so I was granted another day off to recover.

But it was Tuesday which truly sealed the deal on this amazing (and tiring) week, the day on which Sports Day was set to take place. Courtesy of a moment controlled by absolute lunacy, I volunteered to participate in the Long Jump - which I had only practiced once in a P.E. lesson over a month ago - and a 100m relay, having had little or no experience in the sport. Since signing up for those two activities several weeks ago, I had been dreading Sports Day with an agonizing ache, picturing the patronizing giggles and jokes about being the last to finish and falling over in mud, etc. Because of being the new girl, I wanted to participate and give it a go like many of the (unwilling) pupils were, but my beliefs quickly became a curse. If pupils don't think twice about making jokes regarding my shoes, what pleasure would it have given them if I embarrassed myself in front of the whole school on Sports Day?

With a tickle still present in my throat and my nose not yet entirely clear, it was decided that participating in Sports Day would have been a step too far. Besides, I would've been exempt from taking part in P.E. if I had gone back to school when my cold was still playing up, which would have also applied to Sports Day. Yet it was the potential prospect of rising temperatures and full-on sun which was the biggest concern of all - unless it is an absolute must, I never go out in the sunshine. Never. Ever. So why would I willingly put myself through my idea of hell when almost all my usual lessons were suspended for the day?

Yet it wasn't the thought of missing school on Tuesday which sent me on the path towards having an amazing week: my mum had planned to visit a RSPCA volunteer at her home, in the hope of adopting a new kitten. Although my wonderful kitties, Bart and Benny, still qualify to be recognized as kittens because they are technically under the age of a year old, it felt right to bring another rescue kitten into our lives. It was an idea which occurred to my family several weeks ago and, instead of forgetting about it, we have acted upon our instincts. When faced with the question about whether I wanted to go to school or meet a new member of our family, it was a no-brainer. Despite education being one of the most important things in my life, family means more than all the textbooks and learning tools in the world!

My mum and I travelled to the volunteer home's in the afternoon, who resides on the outskirts of a city. She mainly looks after kittens and their mothers which, even if only involves one litter, is exhausting work. Needless to say, I was surrounded by meows and playful fights when I was shown around - of all things, watching kittens play with one another reminded me of my brother and I!

With a desire to adopt a male tabby kitten, we were originally shown a nine week old kitten before being taken to another den. There, I placed my eyes upon a beauty which I had never seen up close before - in other words, I was seeing a five day old kitten! In the den, there was an beautiful mother cat - who possessed more elegance than the poshest Royal - who was tending to her five kittens, almost of all whom were different colours. Two were ginger, whilst the other two were either black or black and white. But the fifth kitten shared the most similarities to its mother because, like her, it was a tabby - just exactly what we had been looking for!

Very gently, the volunteer managed to get hold of the kitten, whose eyes were squeezed shut and ears were flat like a deflated balloon, and show it to my mum and I. Never had I been more astounded with what my eyes were seeing! The kitten was absolutely tiny and, if my description is accurate, was smaller than an iPhone! As it looked so fragile, I didn't stroke the kitten because I thought that even my smallest finger would be too big for its head, but my Mum gently stroked it before taking a few pictures of the little cutie. From that moment on, it was confirmed: the kitten not only felt like, but was ours.

Then we got some news which, at first, somewhat knocked us off our feet, but was later received as a positive. When examined, it appeared that the kitten could be a girl. Having never owned any female cats nor known any from past generations, my family and I had always stuck to males. But, as a girl myself, I had secretly been eager to adopt a female cat, yet my idea used to be dismissed because of a lack of experience with them. If female cats lose their hormonal tendencies by getting the snip - just like the boys have to - what could the big problem be?

Thankfully, my mum agreed and went ahead with the adoption, although we cannot be entirely certain whether Teddy - the unisex name we have chosen for the kitten, regardless of his or her gender - is a girl because mistakes can happen. But I hope that Teddy possesses the same feminine qualities like me because it is about time that the gender divide has been tackled in our family; with two boys (Dad and Little Brother) and two male kittens, my mum and I are rather underrepresented!

We left in a state of excitement because, as soon as my mum reserved Teddy, there was no turning back: in eight weeks or so time, Teddy will be coming home with us. She will be our first female kitten in the family, therefore making history before she has even set foot (or should I say paw?) through the door. How can I not describe that moment as anything but amazing?

Although I have since made a speedy recovery from my cold and attended three days at school this week, I'm bursting with excitement about meeting Teddy. Kittens are allowed to be adopted at around nine weeks old; Teddy was born nine days ago, so we are expecting to take her home with us in mid-September. This question, however, remains: how will I keep my patience under control during the summer holidays? At this moment in time, I have absolutely no idea but, like the so-called importance of direct proportion, I will have to respect the time it takes until the pleasure is finally my own.

So, this week has been a great and - for the final time only - amazing time, and it is helped further by the fact that the school term is nearly over. Just two normal days on Monday and Tuesday before Activity Day on Wednesday - in which I shall be channeling Kay Burley as a News Desk reporter - and I'm free of homework, stuffy uniforms and hiked-up skirts for six glorious weeks.

According to the grey sky outside my bedroom window, a storm is coming. And, as the rain will pour on all the plants in the garden, normality will be restored. How much I've missed it!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Late Night Post

Depending on the time that you usually go to bed, I consider twenty to nine edging towards the 'late' side, particularly as I've been making an effort to bring forward my bedtime since catching a horrendous cold earlier this week.

So, here I am, half of my hair still managing to hold the curls I created earlier in the afternoon, and completely bored out of my mind. What a wonderful end to the week! My eyes - which give a frightful glimpse into the exhausted state I'm currently in - are drooping like a flower past its prime, while my skin reacts to the sudden burst of summer heat, unsurprisingly in the form of bright red blemishes. Without a layer of foundation to cover my flaws and my energy levels running out of steam, I feel somewhat different to the person I was during the day - though appearances do influence one's feelings, I must admit!

To my disappointment, this evening has ended in tatters thanks to one problem which, until it occurred almost an hour ago, threw me into despair: I lost Wi-Fi. Whilst reliving my life in the fabulous teen comedy, Mean Girls. Just when I needed a burst of girl world inspiration, the Sky Go website lost its signal and, inevitably, the film I was keenly watching - needless to say, it transpired to be one of the most disastrous moments in my life!

Bearing in mind that I'm waging an ongoing battle against a cold and face the potential prospect of going back to school tomorrow (I took the day off on Friday, albeit my reliance with Calpol had not yet transformed into a full-on obsession), I'm not in the greatest of all states right now. Poor little me, the hormonal teenager whose problems mainly lie within the region of her oily T-Zone - surely there are more pressing dilemmas to think about in the world? Until I recover from what I hope is a temporary illness (though suffering from it until Sports Day has passed wouldn't go amiss), my relations with normality are tied as I focus on the important subject of all: myself.

Whenever I'm ill, there are very few moments given to thinking about anybody apart from me because, as my family line in a queue to offer me medicine, drinks and a bar of chocolate (if my behaviour is comparable to an Oscar-winning performance), it is all which remains in the centre of my self-obsessed mind. I give into the impulses from which I typically restrain myself because my good-will is used elsewhere, and it results in my recreating the five year old version of me. As unpleasant bugs and colds were rife when I was little, I'm transported to an extent to my childhood if I ever catch a virus, therefore making me revert to a child-like persona until the illness leaves my system. Yes, I don't need telling twice that it is childish to behave like a whiny and non-stop moaning kid when I definitely possess the brains to know better, but who cares - especially myself - when there is a cold to be fought? And if ice cream and days off school are included in the package, suffering from an insignificant illness doesn't seem like a big deal any more.

Anyway, that is not to say that I have been doing absolutely nothing this weekend, although the boredom fairy has visited me several times over the past few days. From baking some muesli cookies (which, despite being oh-so-addictive, have robbed me of my favourite breakfast) to completing some Religious Studies coursework, I've tried my hardest to keep myself occupied throughout the weekend, and have regained a sense of pride with my determination to carry on somewhat normally. Whether I will feel well enough to go into school tomorrow has yet to be confirmed, but the mornings - and getting out of bed against my freewill - are the hardest part of being sick because you just want to sleep all day. Indeed, I would give into this temptation quite happily, but as soon as it occurs to me that my hair gets greasy after being slept on, I'm out of bed like a rocket. My desire to gain beauty sleep might evoke a display of vanity, but I will stop at nothing to protect my grease-prone locks!

As I write this at rocket-fast speed, there is a sense of sleepiness in the air, and my blocked nostrils struggle to catch a whiff of it, their struggle yet again reminding me of how poorly I feel. Ugh, it was just my luck that I caught a cold at the end of my very first week at school over a month ago - who would have expected that the same thing would have reoccurred a couple of weeks later? Although I've lost out on one day at school, this hasn't stood in my way of gaining more knowledge, which included this unforgettable fact: colds are much worse in the summer than during the winter. It has taken me fifteen years to realize it, and I only pity myself since I learnt it a few days ago.

Oh well, c'est la vie, isn't it? Some days, you cannot believe your luck and are filled with hope for the world; at that moment in life, one cannot think of any negatives surrounding life, instead focusing on the positives, which are as endless as Justin Bieber's arrests. Yet this mindset becomes the opposite if an unfortunate incident turns your world upside down - literally! A cold might not be the end of the world, but it is enough to get on my nerves and affect my mood. After all, isn't illness upsetting for those affected with it? I keep telling myself that it could be worse, which is true, but I prefer to take my mind off it and apply my attention elsewhere.

The sky is darkening and the sun is about to disappear beyond a jungle of countryside trees and colourful fields. A new week will be starting soon, along with a refreshed outlook on life.

Whatever is coming, I'm ready for it.

Friday, 11 July 2014

End of the Week Joy (The Weekend is Here!)

Here I am, wrapped up in a red jumper and a pair of Forever 21 jeans which have definitely seen better days, typing at 100mph on my bed with a troublesome kitten snugged against my side. On paper, it sounds like a crazy picture of happiness and irony, but being in the moment is a different matter altogether. Not only has my body been wrecked with exhaustion and one too many chocolate digestives from Aldi, but a cold has broken through protective barriers and has dragged me into a spell of general sickness. And, to add to my ever-growing list of pleasure, heat surrounds me wherever I go - including the ice cream aisle at the supermarket. Is my life as joyful as I portrayed it a few sentences ago? This stupid, oh-so-draining cold is the reason why my mood is all over the place, like the textbooks which transform my brother's desk into a mini landfill site.

Still, I'm not complaining, if such a thing makes sense. In fact, I'm in a better mood than of late because, since getting the initial symptoms of a cold yesterday afternoon, my parents granted me permission to not go to school today. After weeks of harassment and pile loads of stress related to school, I could not have possibly felt happier - forget Christmas, I indulged in festivities because I didn't have to endure another day of school!

To some and perhaps a lot of people (my knowledge of percentages only extend so far), reading my words might stir deep horror within themselves because, as I've said time and time again, education is the most important aspect of life. It becomes even more so when you reach a vital stage in your education like myself, when exams and qualifications swamp your mind with worry and hopefully determination to succeed in later life.

So, making no secret of my desire to avoid school might send alarm bells ringing - and, since reading it back, it has horrified myself to a certain extent. Who would I be without expressing my life-long love for learning or indeed bettering myself to higher standards? It's the essence of my being, of which is destined to last a lifetime. But, after putting up with day-to-day drama at school for over a month, it shouldn't raise any eyebrows in the sense that I've been running out of steam - and in need of a break.

Maybe if it wasn't for what I've had to put up with since starting at the school last month, this cold - which I hope leaves my system by the end of the weekend - might not have affected me as heavily, but nonetheless it is tradition to revert to childish ways and somewhat exaggerate my symptoms when I feel under the weather. Getting out of school for one day happens to be a bonus and, having stuck it out when I got a cold at the end of my first week, taking the day off today made up for the lack of compassion I offered myself in the past.

Anyway, you needn't worry about my posting pictures of Calpol medicine or lozenges like I did several months ago when a cold and a sore throat caught me off guard, because I have no desire to remind myself of sickness-related remedies. Luckily, my throat has so far remained unscathed from this illness despite sucking on a Strepsil earlier, although my cravings for lozenges - which often resemble sweets, albeit sugar-free - sometimes get out of hand. It's just my nose which is the biggest bother of all, and it revolts me if I need to blow at times when a tissue isn't always within reach.

For almost the whole week, my head had been pounding like a drum because of a lack of sleep, which I've hardly had any time to catch up on since my first day over five weeks ago. Although I have no trouble in falling asleep quickly, my early starts and jam-packed days exhaust the hell out of me, leaving very little time or energy for anything else - and, pardon the pun, I'm tired of it. From the comments about my so-called 'high heels' to crude jokes regarding clueless boys going out with me, I'm tired of literally everything related to my school which, as the main character from the hilarious St Trinian's declared (to my brother's hysterical laughter), is like Hogwarts for ******. The word in question - as covered my profanity-disguising asterisks - is open to debate because I wouldn't exactly go as far as saying it out loud, yet the line has popped into my thoughts from time to time.

Without a doubt, the school would committing an outrageous crime if it ever compared itself to the likes of Hogwarts or any (non-fictional) establishments; I wouldn't stand for it, but I question whether it would ever have the guts to declare such a statement. I feel let down and disappointed by what not only what I have endured, but also my younger brother who spent half an hour giving me the lowdown after getting home this afternoon. Why my tongue has come into contact with the bitter taste of disappointment is understandable because, before my brother and I started there, we were painted a spectacular image of what the school was like, but obviously we have seen its true colours, along with those of its pupils.

If I wrote a list detailing everything that both my brother and I have faced in just the past month alone, my hands would never stop typing and, with tonight's dinner of fish fingers being served in a while, I neither have the time nor the strength to go into full detail. Indeed, you can refer to my past entries on this blog to get an impression of my feelings about the school, because my opinions haven't just suddenly developed. Like a fire, it has been gently burning in the background for a while, but its heat has gotten hotter and hotter with each passing day. Now that the fire has reached burning point, so has my patience with the school - and, regardless of whatever is thrown at me, I'm having none of it.

Pupils and teachers might conform to a way of life which suits their views, but it doesn't mean that I will follow their example; in fact, I ridicule them for making me feel like the odd one out in practically everything I do. From tastes in music to mannerisms, no allowances seem to be accepted as to how I behave and express myself, whilst I'm forced to accept how everybody else treats me. Does the law say that, as a human right, we are free to express ourselves? If so, I cannot see how I've gained any freedom at the school and, as more time passes by, I question whether the right to be myself will ever be given to me, if ever at all.

Above all, I simply want to learn and make friends at school; in my mind, they are two simple demands which ought to be easily met, no questions asked. Sure, we can have a laugh and enjoy ourselves, but learning is the main purpose for which we get out of bed at the crack of dawn each morning - otherwise, why else would we go to school? However, I'm constantly finding it difficult to make acquaintances, let alone strike up a bond with an individual who could potentially become a friend. Although some might suggest that I'm being biased, I know that it isn't down to what I am doing because my actions aren't offensive or rude, but I believe that it is associated to one major issue: I don't conform.

Call me an anti-conformist, and I'll smile with pride because, at heart, it is who I am. I know my own mind and I respect, unwilling to abuse it or ignore it at the times I need its guidance most. Nobody determines what I should do nor who I shall be - only I have the right to correct or alter myself, if I ever feel the need to do so. And, most importantly of all, I don't care what people think about me because their opinions represent the problems existing within themselves which, instead of picking on me, they ought to address instead. But what is a strong-minded girl supposed to do when her peers shun her because of who she is - and will always be?

On a number of occasions, feelings of embarrassment, loneliness and sadness have knocked me off my feet as I've fought against these troubling woes at school, along with cravings to return to the comforting safety of home. I realize that, however hard you try, it is certain that you will meet people of all kinds - including the types you dislike - throughout life, and school is (unfortunately) no exception. However, is it right that I shall put up with these problems, shrugging them off as though they don't matter despite the obvious pain it inflicts upon me? Whether this matter relates to a son/daughter, close friend or even yourself, the answer always remains the same: no. Yet what should be the next course of action once you have identified the severity of such a dilemma, and what could happen in the near future?

That, at this moment in time, I don't know. For one thing, there is only a week and a half left until the summer holidays save me from yet more school-related doom, and I clutch tightly to the thought of having six school-free weeks with my family, hopefully exploring the county I now call my home. But such thoughts will be forgotten if more comments are tossed my way and anger sends my blood pressure rocketing beyond the furthest galaxy. With the guidance of my loving family, I'll get through the next week and beyond like I've had to since day one, but my beliefs have finally been confirmed: this school is not for me. What more can I say about it?

If students aren't bothered by fellow 'peers' (or ones who are at least a year younger than you but are caught in the belief that they know the be- and end-all about humanity) pressurizing them to follow the crowd, maybe my school would be right up your street. But why would I wish to throw away all that I've worked for the past seven years to achieve as a home-schooler in order to conform to the majority's way of thinking? I'm bigger and, dare I say it, better than that, so I'm able to see through false personas and sense nastiness from miles away.

Unfortunately, I've been left with no choice except to be on my guard at all times, otherwise I have no tools to defend myself with. My fellow peers and pupils might not necessarily gain great grades, but they use what little intelligence they possess to intimidate others, and it couldn't look more obvious if you display the slightest hint of fear. According to definitions of the word, school is supposed to prepare you for the working world and prepare you for working life. But, with several years until I can get a job, I already feeling like I'm working because school is a full-time occupation; I only regain a sense of happiness once I arrive home, no longer obliged to keep up a tough-as-nails act in the classroom.

By the time that I start my GCSE coursework in September, my fingers are crossed in the hope that life will have settled down and I will hopefully feel much happier. However, hope cannot always be trusted as an indicator of what the future holds and, judging by the current state of affairs, no crystal balls will be offering a glimpse featuring the positivity I seek in a few months' time. I want to gain an education above everything else because that was why I went back to school - and, believe me, it wasn't an easy decision to make! But my heart also aches to make friends, which explains why I'm disappointed over how disastrous my time at school has been. In all honesty, I think that I've given the school more chances than what many would have expected because, by this point, a few would have called it quits. Yes, it is tempting to give up and start over because the battle does look as though it is being lost, but even if I did leave, would I truly be a loser? Not at all!

In fact, the school would be the losers for losing two hard-working pupils who could have made a massive difference, and they would have no one except themselves to blame for letting my brother and I go. I put my faith into their hands before I even set foot through the gate, believing their every word and praying that they would live up to their promise of protecting me - but at what point must that faith be lost? Secretly, I began to lose my faith as far back as my first week when an upsetting incident occurred, in fact on my second day. I ignored my gut feeling because I thought that the school still deserved a second chance and, unlike incidents and issues which have since followed, it was somewhat out of their hands. But with each phone call to teachers and workers at the school, more faith has been sacrificed and transformed into distrust, eventually reaching a point in which I don't trust the school at all.

It's sad because I never imagined this to be the case when I was excitedly shown around the premises a few months ago, but it is a relief that my instincts - who have never before been pushed to such limits - can be trusted. I know more about myself now, although it has come at the cost of my happiness at the school.

As you are unsurprisingly asking yourself, what will happen now? That has yet to be confirmed and, to be honest, I will to take my mind off school altogether for the whole weekend; I've thought about it more than enough today and have reached a conclusion as to what I want to do. Even my brother is starting to look beyond the surface which, as a boy at his age, is admirable and offers a glimpse into his ever-blossoming maturity. As much as I don't want to be drawn into this drama, I would prefer to go through it myself instead of my brother dealing with it; despite towering over me, he is still my brother and I ought to protect him, especially as we do attend the same school together.

I've had enough to say and, according to my bloated stomach, more than normal to eat, so I shall be cooling down and relaxing this evening. After all, it's the end of the week so I'm usually filled with a joy that I cannot even put into words - hurrah! Viva la vida, I say!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Exhaustion, Exhaustion, Exhaustion

Even typing out the very title of this entry drains me of energy - which, during the school week, is heralded as precious as a jewel - like my brother gulps down bottles of Lucosade, which goes to show how tired I am. Needless to say, dreaming of sleep when I should really pay attention to my teacher is draining in itself and, with four more days to go until I can claim the weekend as my own once again, the prospect of awakening at the crack of dawn sends more shivers down my spine than the sight of a hideous spider ever would.

Over a month since I made my all-big return to school, it is unsurprising in the least that I am somewhat running out of energy, which proves that two lie-ins at the weekend is not enough to resurrect my sparkle in time for the start of a new week. Indeed, I half-dragged, half-jumped out of bed when I woke up at five thirty this morning - considering that I've been treating myself to getting up at 9am for the past two mornings, it was hardly any wonder that I struggled to get going today. And this dreaded routine, which runs over the course of five days, will push me to my limits yet again until the weekend relieves me - albeit to a certain extent - of this exhaustion until the cycle resumes come Monday morning.

Without needing to go further, I don't like this part of school and will probably never develop a taste for it; if the choice was available, would anybody get up early without a gun being pointed at their head? Yet even when I was educated at home, I would still wake up earlier than the rest of my family and would have gotten ready by nine o'clock, although my just-washed hair would have remained wet and able to brush whenever I wished.

Ugh, the thought of sticking it out until Friday is as sickening as those competitive eaters who stuff themselves with food as a so-called 'profession': just like the time when my favourite programme, The Secret Circle, was (wrongfully) cancelled, how will I ever survive? Not only did I have to contend with a headache whilst in my Geography class - the final lesson of the week - last Friday, a hot burst of summer heat was driving me around the bend, exhausting me still. Perhaps my sleepy woes are partly related to the rise in temperature and the general laziness of the summer term, but it doesn't count as a worthy (or even half so) excuse: it's a routine which I will have to get used to, like the rest of the other pupils have.

As I write this now - whilst ironically lying on my bed, of all the most comforting places - my eyes are drooping and aching, angered at my determination to work through this agony. If only school started later in the day which, if ever such an idea was proposed, would benefit the sleep of thousands of teenagers in my native country. Scientists are constantly banging on about the importance of gaining sleep - a gift so coveted that no price can be placed upon obtaining it - and our parents give us lectures about going to bed early, especially if they are eager to watch Sky before going to bed themselves. But if teenagers like myself are doing all the right things - such as avoiding late nights, making time for sleep and so on - yet struggle to rest, who is to blame?

Schools are often supposed to prepare young people for 'the real world', or the environment in which they could potentially work in the distant future. Under these beliefs, pupils are expected to arrive at school at a similar time to adult workers, their brains motivated to learn. Whilst I'm always on the prowl for new things to absorb like a sponge, my mind is somewhat clouded shortly after awakening in the morning, unable to see through the blurry mist and general puzzlement. So, how am I supposed to achieve my best and express enthusiasm for learning if my head is not putting 100% into whatever I'm doing?

For years, it has been a battle which has been faced by pupils all around the world and, despite my pleas for more rest and less exhaustion, I doubt that getting up early is a routine likely to be changed any time soon. Some people might argue that I am causing issues by waking up earlier than many pupils willingly would, but it's just the way I am; I have plenty to do before heading out to school in the morning, which ought to be done at my own pace without a stopwatch timing my every move.

Oh well, I guess that it could be worse; the first hurdle of the week has been leapt over safely, albeit my body is suffering from it. All of this excitement - baking chocolate cakes in Food Tech, racing 100m in P.E., the list goes on - is swirling around in my head, and it needs to stop before I lose control of myself. The only control I currently seem to have is the amount of ice cream scoops I add to a bowl, and even so it isn't exactly great for my waistline...