Monday, 13 June 2011

My... err... life.

Hello there. I hope June is going well for you. What have you been up to?* As you undoubtedly know, I've been wading my way though exams for the last month, and still have 3 weeks left. They're going reasonably well I think. Not brilliantly but alright. If I were a shruggy type of person, I could describe my exam experience so far with a *shrug*. I could also throw in a 'meh' for good measure. I seem to have got over the terrifying panics I had before every single one of my first 7 exams, and have settled on a slightly worried, but resigned attitude towards them. Soon they will be over and I will have nothing to worry about until slightly before results day when suddenly the wave of panic, guilt, comparison and tedious soul-searching will come crashing over me again. So that's the Meg's Life Update done. A bit of Meg's Life anyway. The rest of this will be about A Levels. And me. And my future. Mainly me still.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I thought I had my A Level choices sorted. I'd decided on English Language, English Literature, History and Politics - all heavily analytical and all my strongest subjects. But therein lies the problem: As a result of the analytical nature of these subjects, they're all extremely essay-based. I like essay writing, but the thought of spending almost the entirety of the next 2 years at school writing essays, seems... well.... boring.

What I want is something logical and almost relaxing to counteract the fierce analysis, debating and 'thinking outside the box' required by my other subjects. I immediately thought of Maths - Maths is certainly more logical than Politics or English Language, and I've even started to find it relaxing. But the trouble is, Maths is hard. It's never been my strong point and is unlikely to get me the grades I could get if I stuck to the subjects I know I can do. And yet... There's something about numbers that fascinates me and I don't particularly like the idea of next week's exam being the last time I ever do 'proper' Maths.

And then there's Theatre Studies, which has also always been at the back of my mind. I've enjoyed doing my Drama GCSE a lot and if I want to go down the route of stage lighting for a possible future career, Theatre Studies would be the obvious choice. Although it is also quite an essay-based subject so that's still not getting away from all this bloody writing!

I suppose the other question is, what would I drop from my existing plan of subjects to accommodate the new subject, without messing up my options for the future. I still haven't really decided what sort of degree I would want to do - assuming I still want to go to uni in a years time. The main decision I'll have to make next year is whether I want to go down the English route, the History and Politics route or the technical theatre route, in terms of a possible degree. Career choices will probably fit somewhere in there too, but I'm still veeeeeery undecided about that. I reckon I probably want to do something technical. Working in BBC Radio is probably my main aspiration but again, I'm not sure. Theatrey stuff would also be amazing. Or historical research. Or writing. Or film editing. Aghhh I don't know.

Just read though all that and am hugely embarrassed over the astonishing number of personal pronouns used in this blog. Am now writing without them, in an attempt to rectify this and possibly persuade that this self-centered blog was a complete accident and such blogs are not a regular occurrence at all. Not at all. Is this working? No? Damn.

* I opened with an enquiry about you because I'm very aware that this blog is entirely about me. And I'm trying to work on being a better listener, rather than talking about myself the whole time. I am also aware that this attempt is entirely contradicted in the rest of the blog. Err... yeah. But still, please feel free to tell me about your current life situation in the comment box. I'm genuinely interested. :)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

My Brother

The night my brother was born is one of my earliest memories. I was 3 years old and all I knew was that Mummy was about to pop. I went to our neighbours and watched Wallace and Gromit under my Winnie the Pooh duvet on the sofa at 6am, with no idea that the tiny human to whom my mother was currently giving birth was going to have such a massive impact on my life. I was more concerned about the evil penguin and his terrifying robotic trousers.

Like all siblings, I hated the fact that this new, tiny, screaming, parent-stealing, red-faced turnip was getting more attention than me. I frequently told my parents that I wished the tiny human - more commonly known as Ben - would go and die so I could have them all to myself again. I was a lovely child. But when I wasn't full of jealously and Ben wasn't full of sick, we got along well enough. My aunt was the first to suggest that something might be slightly wrong. She had noticed while we were staying with her that Ben seemed slightly detached and that his playing was systematic and logical, rather than imaginative and resourceful. This led to countless hospital visits, consultations, assessments and meetings, resulting in an eventual diagnosis: Ben has autism.

When I was younger, if people asked me what it means to be autistic, I would get stuck. I knew Ben was not good at queues, I knew he got angry easily, I knew he didn't like change and I knew that his autism meant that we could not have holidays without tantrums and he got lots of extra help at school. But I could not pin down what it autism actually means. On reflection, I guess that's the case with most autism. Everyone with autism is different, just like everyone without autism is different. It's very difficult to pinpoint the specific essence of this disability, but it essentially comes down to three key difficulties: social interaction, imagination and communication. All autistic and Asperger's people have these difficulties - though in different amounts. But if you think about it, we all have these difficulties but in different amounts. So really, everyone is somewhere on the autistic spectrum and some people are higher up than others.

Ben doesn't have severe autism but it is severe enough for it to have a huge impact on all of our lives. People treat him differently, we can't go on holiday without several meltdowns because he doesn't like change, he doesn't understand certain things, I can't tell him about my life without him getting bored and reciting a memorised computer manual, and he can generally be a bit of a handful. But most of the time he is kind, loving, thoughtful and bubbly. Sometimes I get jealous of the attention he gets and wish I had a sibling to whom I could talk to about what's happening in my life. But for all my complaining, I wouldn't trade him for anything or anyone. He is everything to me and I couldn't live without him. He's amazing and he's special and he's my brother. And I am the luckiest person alive to be his sister. I love him so much.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Is your life really that bad?

Before now I've always comforted and reassured myself that I'm allowed to feel really crap and depressed sometimes, in spite of the horrible things happening all over the world. I’ve told myself that it’s all relative and it’s human nature to complain. We all think our lives are crap at some point, whether they are or not. I have to live my life as well as I can and I can't do anything about what's going on in the rest of the world. Bad stuff happens, life goes on, right?

Then Gaddafi started acting like a genocidal maniac in Libya and Japan was engulfed in a horrific earthquake and tsunami. And something changed...

Over the last few days, listening to news of the awful things happening across the world, I've started to really appreciate how lucky I am. Yes, my life has ups and downs. Yes, exams and coursework deadlines are stressful. Yes, my family life is hard occasionally. But when I think of the poor people living under the vile rule of Gaddafi, or the people who've lost their houses, families and friends because of the tsunami in Japan, I am SO SO lucky to live the way I do.

I have an amazing life. I have the best parents I could wish for, a wonderful brother, an amazing extended family and fun, supportive friends. I live in big house, in a pretty well off area. I go to an excellent school and am getting a brilliant education. On the whole, my life is wonderful and I have no right to complain about it. I may be having a hard time at school, but nothing lasts and it'll all be over in a few months. I may occasionally have a difficult evening with my brother, but that's no ones fault and it could be a lot worse. I may be stressed and feeling down about myself but it's nothing compared to what other people go through.

I think sometimes, in the midst of cuts, Eastenders and mortgages, we, the British, forget how fortunate we are to live a) in a democracy - however idiotic the current government is - and b) in an area of the earth that is not prone to natural disasters.

We complain to no end about cuts, the economy and the failings of the coalition - but does anyone wonder what it would be like to live under an unbalanced genocidal dictator, or what it would be like to be murdered for trying to get your opinion heard? Last year we complained endlessly about snow and the ash cloud - but did anyone look past the annoyance of having flights delayed to consider what it would be like to live at the edge of a tectonic plate or to have their lives, houses and families regularly ripped apart by hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis?

I'm not sure many did. The state of the economy is one thing, but people don't die on mass as a result of a recession. People aren't shot for standing up for what they believe in. I know things are bad in Britain at the moment, and we're not likely to get out of this mess for years with our current government, but at least the majority of us have a home, a family, and food on the table. Times are hard, but think how you’d feel if you woke up to find your family gone because they'd been kidnapped, tortured and murdered for questioning the government. Think how you'd feel if you woke up to find your entire house had been torn from the ground and swept away by a mass of water or an earthquake. Think how you'd feel if you lost everything and everyone you'd ever loved, through no fault of your own. Personally, the thought terrifies me more than I can say.

That's what's happening right now, thousands of miles away. We can't do much to stop it, but at the very least, we should be thankful for what we’ve got.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Desert Island Discs

I've always enjoyed Desert Island Discs on Radio 4. Despite not knowing any of the songs. I'm crap at knowing about music. Really crap. I have a slightly unusual taste in music - as you will see in a minute - but it makes me happy, and that's the point in music really.

So. Just in case Desert Island Discs suddenly starts inviting completely un-famous 15 year-olds onto their programme to announce their favourite songs and mumble about their life and their relationship with their parents, I have compiled a list of my 8 favourite pieces of music. I will also attempt to do the text equivalent of mumbling. This could be quite hard but I'll have a go.
I will put a link to each piece of music so you can listen because otherwise you won't have a clue what I'm talking about. You probably don't anyway. But if you like it, please buy it from iTunes or Amazon or somewhere like that because you should always pay for music as the extremely talented musicians who recorded it need to be paid. If no one payed for music, my family wouldn't have any money. At all. So now I've made you feel guilty, here are my favourite pieces of music:

1) Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata - I like this piece of music a lot, it could even be my favourite of Beethoven's. It's very easy to listen to and also quite easy to play. It's one of the only pieces I can play on the piano and I learnt it all by ear and by experimenting with notes so it's very special to me. I reckon I could play it with my eyes closed - I certainly don't need to look at the music because I wouldn't understand any of it anyway. Mum says it probably wasn't the best piece to start with (apparently C♯ minor isn't the easiest key to play in) but I like the spookyness of the beginning and then how it eases off at the end as the piece becomes more natural.
You can listen to it here.

2) This is Gallifrey - this piece of music is from the Doctor Who Series 3 soundtrack and it is a beautiful piece. There is so much meaning and significance in it but it can only apply to the feeling of unpredictability and pure beauty of Gallifrey (yes, I know it's not a real planet). It took me a while to get into but I now consider it as one of the best pieces Murray Gold has ever composed.
You can listen to it here.

3) A Window to the Past - this is part of the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban soundtrack and it is by far my favourite track. It's so simple, yet so meaningful. It always reminds me of the best bits of Harry Potter, but more importantly, it signifies the past (hence the name). In the film, it is played as Harry reminisces with Lupin about his parents and their past and for me it means similar things. It always reminds me of my parents and my family and when I was growing up in London before Ben was born. This part of my life always seems separate from the rest of my life because it was a completely different way of living. It was full of Postman Pat and Winnie the Pooh toys and loft 'stenchons' (extensions) and two sets of parents (Megan and Will over the road were like my second parents. They were amazing. Now they live in Holland and it's the only place we can go on holiday without Ben making a fuss. There is no way anyone could dislike Will and Megan.) Anyway, if I were on Just A Minute, this would totally be called deviation so I'd better start talking about music again rather than my 3 or 4 years of life before Ben.
You can listen to it here.

4) Angry Dance - this is from Billy Elliot the Musical in the bit where Billy's dad and brother basically tell him he can't dance ever again. It is veeeeeery angry but also has amazing music. Lots of guitar and stuff. But there's also a lot of swearing so I have to be careful that Ben's not around when playing it (although he has walked in while I'm listening to Tim Minchin's Pope Song before. That was slightly awkward.) I had a 3 or 4 year long Billy Elliot phase so listened to it rather a lot and still do when I'm feeling angry. It's great to take your anger out with, especially when no one's around so you can swear and shout along with Billy. I also know the whole tap dance routine so play it out in my head when I'm listening. Fun times.
You can listen to it here. There are also lots of different live versions with different Billys. Some of my favourite Angry Dances include George Maguire's, Travis Yates', Tom Holland's and Michael Dameski's. They are all dotted around youtube.

5) Starlight - this is a Tweenies song (yes, I know I'm 15!) and I listen to it when I'm missing my childhood - you might be able to tell that I'm a very nostalgic person. It was always played in Tweenies Christmas Specials (specifically Merry Tweenie Christmas and The Enchanted Toyshop) and is such a beautiful song. This song reminds me of all the festive things we used to do at Christmas like decorating the tree together, putting together the Nativity set, wrapping presents, making paperchains, watching Christmas specials (Tweenies, Winnie the Pooh, The Bear, Father Christmas, The Snowman, etc, etc.) and generally doing fun Christmas things that fill young children with festive joy. We don't really do much of that anymore, and if we do it's not the same. But I'm sure it will be in a few years :)
You can listen to Starlight here (if you really want to).

6) Drowned - by Tim Minchin. This is one of my favourite Tim Minchin songs. I have many others but this is one of his more serious ones that means more to me so I thought I'd include it. He wrote it for an Australian film he was in and it's rather lovely. Very easy to listen to and full of meaningful emotion. I can't really explain why it means so much to me but it does.
You can listen to it here. But you'll have to ignore the man at the beginning. He was part of the film. I didn't like him very much.

7) Swan Lake - the most famous bit. Not sure what it's called. Possibly Act two. Or one. Or both. It's in it quite a lot. Meh, don't know. The bit everyone knows anyway. I will ask my dad. I like this because it's just a very beautiful piece of music. I've always liked it. I think my dad might have played in it before I was born. He's done a few shows. He was doing Oliver almost as I was being born. Once when I was a baby, he was holding me just before he was about to go on to do a concert and I was sick down his back. Ha ha ha.
Here is a bit of Swan Lake. The famous bit. The rest is also good so you should listen to that if you have time. But my dad did actually record a version of Swan Lake so if you illegally download it, you are effectively stealing my dad's money. And that's what buys my family food. So don't illegally download it. But everyone who reads my blog is lovely so I'm sure you don't illegally download stuff. Which is why I like you all so much :)

8) I'm Not Saying a Word - from Blood Brothers (the Willy Russell musical). Not my favourite song musically but the lyrics struck a chord with me. The play is all about Mickey and Eddie who are twins separated at birth. They then become friends when they're older and also are friends with a girl called Linda. She and Mickey are in love and eventually get married and so Eddie, who had always loved Linda, feels extremely left out and sad. So this song is all about him declaring his love for Linda and not knowing how to say it. He describes what it feels like to be in love with someone for years without them knowing or caring, and as cheesy as it sounds, I know what that feels like and it's crap. So this song is quite relevant to my life and it's the only one I know that describes this feeling so it's quite special. Although, again, it's not brilliant musically. Willy Russell has written better songs.
You can't actually listen to it unless you buy it because of copyright issues so here is another Blood Brothers song I like.

Well that was fun. In Desert Island Discs they have to choose one track out of those 8 that they would have if they could only have one. I think I'll choose A Window to the Past from Harry Potter 3 because it carries so many memories and is the most magical (no pun intended) musically. And in addition to the Bible - which I would use as a chair or pillow - and the complete works of Shakespeare, I would take the complete Harry Potter series because I could read them over and over again without getting bored. I have actually. I've read/listened to all of them at least 10 times. My luxury would be..... either Harry Potter lego or a circuit of Brio - including the Thomas the Tank Engine train set. I will decide which next year. I'm not expecting either to be invited on to Desert Island Discs or actually left stranded on an island any time soon so I've got a bit of time to decide.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Best of 2010 (bit late I know)

I'm afraid I'm going to cheat a bit with this blog, simply because I do not have much time. I'm in the middle of writing 2 A3 pages of woodwork development for my Product Design GCSE and I've got bored. I really should keep writing it because I'm going out in an hour (going to see 'Tim Minchin - Conversation With' at the RSC. Been looking forward to it for months. Ahh!) and I won't have time to do the work tomorrow afternoon because I've got Crucible rehearsals after school. But I won't because it is mind-numbingly tedious. Yes, so I've just copied and pasted a comment I made on Mark Watson's blog reviewing the best things in 2010. Which is cheating a bit. But hey, you get a blog and I get to continue writing this rubbish about different types of wood and finishes. Fun.

The bits in italics are things that I've added jusy for you guys. Didn't think Mark would be very interested. Enjoy:

BEST SONG (you can name up to three)
1. Drowned – Tim Minchin
2. Starlight – The Tweenies (don’t ask – it’s actually very good. This relates to my current phase of children's stuff I should have grown out of - see no. 13 of this blog.)
3. This Is Gallifrey – Doctor Who Series 3 Soundtrack
I know, I have a very odd taste in music. But it makes me happy :)

Ready For This? – Tim Minchin

1. Eleven - Mark Watson
2. All of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan-Doyle (I have a massive book with every single SH story. I LOVE it! Except my stupid cat ATE IT. Grrrrr.....)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Sherlock but also loved this year’s Doctor Who
Had obsessions with both. That's how I measure my liking for things. Obsessions show I liked them A LOT.

My Mum and Dad because they do so much for my brother and me and put up with so much and are both basically good at everything and I can tell them everything and can always turn to them for help and hugs. Love them lots and lots and LOTS!

The second day of my unexpected trip to Portugal with my cousins. I had recovered from my 2 days of no sleep at all and began my day with breakfast in a posh Portuguese restaurant. It was simply the best breakfast I’ve EVER had! They had absolutely every breakfasty food imaginable in a massive buffet room. Pure bliss. Then we did holiday things that I’ve never been able to do before because my brother hates holidays. Such a fun day. Although I did get attacked by a wave in the sea. But then we watched the final episode of Sherlock in the evening which was amazing so it was definitely my best day of the year. Nov 17th (MW show/A* for R&J essay) and Aug 12th (birthday) were also fab days.

1. Mark's show in Oxford
2. Matilda at the RSC
3. Blood Brothers in London

Going on holiday (and therefore an aeroplane) on my own for the first time ever. Sounds a bit feeble but bear in mind I’ve only been on a plane about 6 times before, the last time was about 3 years ago and I’ve always been with my parents. Also I had been awake for about 34 hours and hadn’t eaten much so everything was extremely surreal. I feel tired just thinking about that level of tiredness. Never. Again.

The Coalition Government because they are making stupid, annoying and idiotic decisions and no one can do anything about it. Grr.

There we go. Wasn't that nice? I know we're already 3 weeks into 2011 but I forgot about this before and I have started to enjoy blogging more than I did before so I'm going to do more. I'm aiming to beat the measly 16 blogs I did last year. Rubbish! It's also a good way to procrastinate. Yay! Right, back to the stupid development pages... x

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Everyone else has learnt how to talk to each other. Why haven't I?

WARNING - MY LAST EVER (hopefully) BIT OF SELF DEPRECATION IS IN THIS BLOG. Could get annoying. But I hope you like it.

I don't know whether what I'm about to write applies to lots of people, I reckon it probably does, but it's been a bit of an issue for me for the last 4 or so years. I guess this is because I've become more self conscious as I've got older.

I find it pretty hard to have a conversation with anyone I don't talk to everyday. I say something stupid, then worry about it so I'm not concentrating on what I'm saying afterwards. This is quite annoying. I wish I were better at social stuff in general. It's as though everyone else has been taught how to interact with other people in general life but I missed out on that lesson. I just don't get it. I don't have a clue what to say in a lot of normal situations so I've got paranoid that people don't understand what I'm trying to say and I get in a flap. Awkward.

It is similar but slightly different on twitter. Everyone else is really witty but I'm not so I usually sound ridiculously serious about trivial things. This isn't always the case but I'm noticing it more and more. I wish I could do something about it but I genuinely don't know what to say in some conversations, whereas other people seem to be able to fire off witty replies. If you have been slightly bewildered by something I've said to you in a twitter conversation, I am truly sorry, I sometimes just don't know how to answer so I come up with some rubbish. I suppose I just don't want to upset anyone so I go for the safe option. Boring.

I'm alright with my main tweets though. They can be thought out and structured whereas conversations are harder to do on the spot because it's a 2 way thing. I probably think about these things too much. Maybe I should stop picking apart all my tweets and just type whatever I think of first. Right, I'm glad I got that off my chest. I really cannot thank the people on twitter enough for being so amazing, even if I sometimes say the wrong thing. If you haven't noticed and don't have a clue what I'm talking about, I should probably stop worrying. I love you all so much and it really makes my day when I get friendly tweets. You're all SO supportive.


Some things about me

Everyone (i.e. About 3 people) on Twitter has been writing a series of interesting facts about themselves. It's rather fun to read so I thought I'd do one myself. However, I do not want to clog up everyone's timeline or make reading it compulsory so I have decided to write a blog which no one has to read but they can if they want. Isn't that nice of me?

So, here we go...

1. I do not know how to spell my middle name. (might as well get the freaky stuff out of the way first!) Well I can sometimes spell it. Sort of. After several attempts. But I hate my middle name so I never use it apart from for exams.

2. I am crap at social interaction. I'm also pretty crap at Twitter conversations. If you've thought a couple of my tweets have been a bit confusing or I've said something odd in a conversation to you, you might want to read my next blog to find out why. I really don't mean to.

3. I enjoy organising things in height, colour, chronological, numerical etc etc order. I'm pretty pedantic too.

4. I love palindromes. Love them. Lots. Especially numerical palindromes.

5. I do not like celery. At all. Ever. Eugh.

6. I used to be hugely shy and quiet in primary school but got much louder and bolder in secondary school - to the point that I got a bit annoying and no one in my class could imagine me being shy. I think (I hope) I might have calmed down a bit in the last year or so. Mainly.

7. I hate going on the London Underground but I love the map. I have the map on my bedroom wall and I spend a lot of time looking at the interesting locations and the pretty colours.

8. I also have a poster of the 'Tree of Life' on my wall because it is fascinating, along with three World War II posters (Dig for Victory, Kitchener Wants YOU, Keep Calm and Carry On), lots of photos, a Tim Minchin Calendar, four Harry Potter Lego posters (they used to come in the Lego boxes) and a London Baker Street street sign.

9. I still own a Tweenies umbrella from when I was little. I know. I'm sorry.

10. I love my family more than anyone else in the world - especially my mum, dad and brother Ben.

11. As you may have noticed, I'm quite self deprecating. I think this is because I don't want to disappoint anyone. Basically, I don't want to let people down so I tend to downplay things a bit. Then they're not disappointed if it's crap, but if it turns out to be quite good, it's a pleasant surprise. When having conversations, I say sorry quite a lot just in case I've said something stupid. This does of course backfire quite a lot and can make people annoyed that I'm so bloody pessimistic about everything. Hmm. Basically, I try my hardest not to alienate people and or make them think I'm strange and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm sorry if I have alienated you somehow. I didn't mean to. (There I go again!)

12. I LOVE Christmas and everything festive. Even though I'm an atheist, I still get a wonderful feeling in my tummy when we get all the decorations out (including the Nativity set - we just treat this story as we would a fairytale. Quite sweet and fun but absolute bollocks.) Every year I make a list of things I am planning to do in the run up to Christmas, including watching Tweenies Christmas Specials, Winnie the Pooh Christmas video, The Bear, Father Christmas and The Snowman just because I do it every year and Christmas wouldn't be the same if I didn't. GCSE mocks really screwed up my Christmas routine this year though. Grr.

13. I have lots of obsessions/phases. When I was younger it was stuff like Postman Pat and Winnie the Pooh and Tweenies (they were long phases. I don't think my parents have ever forgiven me!), then it became things like Madeline (the French girl in the boarding school - great books), Milly-Molly-Mandy (also great books), then more grown up things like House and Billy Elliot and Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes, and then I went back to all the old children's stuff like Thomas the Tank Engine and Tweenies etc. I think this is because I like getting nostalgic about my childhood because it really was a bloody brilliant childhood. Can't recommend my parents enough. Oh and of course Harry Potter has been a recurring obsession since I was about 7 (see this blog).

14. I love pasta rather too much. In every form. Yum. And quiche. And moussaka. And lots of other things. Basically I just love food. Mmmm....

15. I have taken a liking to binary. Don't know why, but it's awesome! (Incidentally, 15 is 1111 in binary. My favourite.)

16. I have two stripey colourful scarves which I wear every day at school (not at the same time obviously) and I love them. Lots.

17. I love Lego. Best. Toy. Ever.

18. I do not like crayons. All waxy and yucky and horrid. Ugh.

19. I am fascinated by circuit boards. They look wonderful and are so complicated and lovely.

20. I have just realised why most people kept these lists of things on their twitter feeds - it restricts them to 140 characters per fact. Doing a whole blog has allowed me to waffle on and on and on. If you have not got bored reading all that, thank you very much. I salute you. I hope I haven't scared you with my weird personality too much.