Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Pageant Material

Following on from my thoughts on Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park album, I thought I'd do the same for her second album Pageant Material. There was a lot of excitement in the country world about her new release and in my world to be honest. After coming across her in 2012 I've always rooted for her and her music and hell she knows how to write a good song, so we were all waiting with baited breath.

Upon first listening, I clicked the CD out of its case with such excitement and simply laid and listened to it and it was an awesome 45 minutes well spent. This one is a lot more laid back and best enjoyed late at night, in the bath before bed. Her Southern words wash over you and are therapeutic as they fit so well over every guitar note. The album feels crafted. It is so well done that it feels as if it has been worked on until it has reached a certain level of perfection.
She still has the same quirky and sassy phrases that question how this world and her home of Southern America are not everything that they're built up to be and I often find myself chuckling at her beautifully constructed digs about what is seen to be 'important'. It also emphasises the importance of 'doing you' and how this gains so much more weight in a superficial world. Get drunk if you want to, cause hell and of course, she still remembers to light up a joint. Biscuits is sheer class and was the first song that I heard off of this album and it sure did stick in my mind.

One thing that is dramatically different about her first and second albums is the fact that she has found love and sings about it with such a joy and comfort that everybody would want to strive for and for this, it gives it such a different feel and makes it more of an album that could accompany any situation. Late to the Party and Fine are my absolute favourites and I cannot get enough of these songs. Upon first listening to Late to the Party I thought that I could guarantee what it would be about, but what I heard really surprised me in the best way as it turned out to be a lowkey song about enjoying sitting in a car with her love way more than any party. Fine tugs at my heart strings every time and I love listening to it whilst sitting on the floor: stripped back, keeping it real. It is such a vulnerable song and I'm not sure that she has ever presented much of this side of herself before and it is the kind of song that would make you miss every person that you've ever had some kind of connection with. HOW CAN A SONG MAKE YOU FEEL THAT.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Search

'Will you take me as I am?
 Will you?'

This morning I was reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed and at the beginning of one of the chapters, there was a quote from a song called California by Joni Mitchell. I have never heard the song nor listened to any Joni Mitchell, but the words stuck with me. I laid thinking about my time in California and thought about how it really has taken me as I am. I feel more at home here than I do in my home country simply because California and the people in it, get me. Never before have I been quite so understood and all I can say is that it has been the best time of my life. For the first time I am not the girl that nobody really knows what to think of. No, for once I am the girl that people don't have to question because I fit in so well here.

Upon arriving in California, it did not feel wrong or disjointed. The fact that I was leaving behind my life and starting another one did not feel strange, instead it felt right, it felt oh so right. I had wanted to live in America for so many years and upon arrival, I felt as if I had been destined to do it.
Throwing myself into my life here has given me a great one and when the day comes in which I will have to leave, I will do it with great sadness. The friends that I have here are some of the best that I have ever had and the thought of having to say goodbye to them leaves me slightly speechless. I haven't had long enough with them. I have ignited something within myself that I want to explore more and I cannot get enough of the feeling. Maybe it is the desire to travel, maybe it is the desire to challenge myself, maybe it is the desire to live a life that is something other than ordinary. An extraordinary life.

Whatever it is, I want to keep searching for it.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Is There A Right or Wrong Here?

Long distance relationships are tough. I knew that it would never be easy but they really do live up to their reputation.
I had a decision to make today and although it won't sound like a big one, it threw everything off and left us both feeling a little worse for wear. I was planning to Skype my girlfriend in the early afternoon but shortly before, a few of my friends came round and told myself and my flatmate about the completely spontaneous road trip that they were leaving for. I am all for spontaneity so this got me excited. Although I had a decision to make.
Do I go, not Skype my girlfriend and lose all internet connection or do I not go and Skype my girlfriend?
My girlfriend is always my first choice, always, but having to make that decision left me feeling as if I couldn't really win either way. Of course I was desperate to speak to her, but equally I have to make a life here. I didn't want to cancel on her. The distance has left us both fragile, I didn't know that we could both be so fragile, but it takes its toll sometimes. I knew that telling her that we couldn't speak today would be something that she would take with a head on struggle and when all her messages buzzed through with the returning wifi, all I could feel was that I had been the mean one. I had a great time out seeing pretty landscapes and driving down winding roads but her sadness centered itself in my brain.
I had made the right decision hadn't I?

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

We've Got This

You move away from home and find yourself 7000 miles away, it's not actually as hard as you think. You find a strength in yourself that you didn't know you had and its light can't be burnt out but 43 days in, it hits you. It hits you like a train that won't stop. It keeps heading towards you, steam escaping from its wheels, horn blowing and lights glaring. You try your best to stop it before it hits you but your ribs ache and you return to the bathroom floor; an old familiar habit that you thought you had seen the last of. Anything but this. You sigh as you feel its coldness against your skin.

The habits show themselves again, taking the opportunity to kick you when you're weak. The bathroom floor, the constant craving to sleep, that one song that was the soundtrack last time, the anger, the numbness, the desperation, the desire to be alone, losing enjoyment in the things that make you feel real, the calls to my sister late at night as she stays on the phone with me until I can breathe again.

It all comes back as if it had been waiting for the moment, as if the past year without it hasn't existed. You slip into a pattern of familiarity that you wish you didn't recognise. It welcomes you in too easily without much of a say. This can't become a pattern. It can't define the last of this year. Hell is a place that we all know but it can't become home. I won't let it.

I look down at the ring that reminds me of how far I've come and I realise that that defines me more than what could become of me if I accept familiarity. Sometimes its so exhausting to be strong but somebody has to be that for me and that is me, It shines brighter than everything else. I realise that I do refuse to sink.

Monday, 15 June 2015

In Your Room

It takes a bare room, stripped of everything, to understand what it contained. Rooms are not just containers but they are containers to live in. They hold you as you experience each day differently and even as everything changes, they remain the same. They remain something that you can return to and maybe part of the charm of these four walls is just that; the fact that they are a constant and a familiarity.

I remember the first time that you let me in your room. It was mid week and had no real remarkable features about it until that late afternoon. Upon entering, I knew that the things in that room were not shared with just anybody, that you have a way of filtering yourself down for others. Nothing about that room was filtered and neither were you. It reflected quirks and intimacies and was an environment conducive to truth.
That was four months ago and that room only ever encouraged truth, or maybe we both did, something did.

A lot happened in that room and seeing it removed of all personality, stripped of everything that we had become accustomed to was, in a way, heartbreaking. It is the people that make a room but it felt as if the bareness of the room, ready for the next person, somehow took away the power of those events when in reality the furniture had nothing to do with any of it.
Those four walls held powerful words that had been spoken, kept us safe when we didn't feel like leaving our world, saw the beginning of us and saw a change in us that would put on hold the way that we had come to know, it saw us both grow into ourselves and each other, but most of all, it let us be who we wanted to be and in that fully furnished room, we were stripped of all reserves.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Creatures Such As We

"For small creatures such as we
  the vastness is bearable only through love"

 - Carl Sagan

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Stephanie in the Water

Stephanie in the Water follows the six times female ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) world tour winner, Stephanie Gilmore in her attempt to reclaim her world title after losing it to Carissa Moore in 2012, a year that began with a personal attack in her home. Directed by Ava Warbrick, Stephanie in the Water is a documentary that demonstrates Gilmore’s constant struggle between being respected as a female surfer and the problems that arise by being such a huge part of a male dominated industry.

Although a documentation of Steph Gilmore and her efforts in 2012 to regain her world title, Stephanie in the Water also plays very much to the issues surrounding women in surfing, both overtly and subtly. The choice to have a female team of documentary makers was definitely a good one, with New York visual artist and filmmaker Ava Warbrick making her directorial debut. The film definitely has artistic elements engrained within it from the start and makes for an extremely enjoyable watch, both visually and in charting Gilmore’s journey.
It seems as if the choice to use a female director was a conscious one, put in place to avoid the inevitable elements of masculinity that are a dominating feature of the surfing world, but this documentary luckily manages to avoid most of them. There are however, some scenes that demonstrate just how sexualised women in the industry are, with scenes of the surfers having their makeup done and walking the red carpet at the Surfer Poll Awards, in which the scene seemed somewhat disjointed with the message that the film was trying to portray. It becomes obvious that Warbrick is presenting Gilmore as the champion that she is, whilst mainly avoiding the obvious gender issues that surround Gilmore, because no matter how many times the world tour trophy is etched with her name, her status as a woman in surfing will always be the driving force behind everything that she does and the female world champion being a part of that. It is undeniable that Gilmore is the reason that surfing has come so far from the even more oppressive society that it used to be.

However, as the most powerful woman in surfing, one would think that Gilmore has managed to escape the gender related comments and this is, for the most part, true. Although the surfing society respects her as a woman and understands the immensity of her talent, comments still filter through the documentary that demonstrate the effect to which women are still being compared to male surfers on a regular basis. This becomes evident from the very beginning of the documentary with Gilmore being interviewed on an Australian news show and on which the female presenter comments that Steph performs a lot of “blokes moves”, when in reality, as Gilmore goes on to correct her, is just being aggressive and powerful in the water whilst trying to remain feminine. It is comments such as these that split the surfers from the outsiders and it seems absurd for a woman to compare the six times female champion to a male surfer, when the two styles of surfing could not be more different. Perhaps Warbrick chose to open the film with a statement such as this to create a dialogue between the successes that women’s surfing has seen whilst simultaneously battling against gender issues.
I think it is fair to say that Warbrick presents the world of women’s surfing in a very realistic way. Sexualised images of women are present even in Stephanie in the Water, which is odd, considering it is working to humanise Gilmore in a way that separates her and her teammates from their bikini clad magazine alter-ego’s, but the contradiction actually works in demonstrating the parallels of female surfing in a visual way throughout. 
Gilmore is granted her sixty minutes of screen time in which she tries to fight the ever-present female surfer stereotype, but slow motion images of her legs and behind as she elegantly surfs a wave and a topless shot of her changing in her garage will blatantly receive attention for the wrong reasons.
As the best female surfer she notes how a question that she hears too much is, “what’s next? What’s more?” and it is important to indicate that world title male surfers are not being asked the same question, suggesting that the standard of female surfing is always being compared to the male standard.
Saying this, a statement that carries a particular poignancy comes from Gilmore’s board shaper, Darren Handley. Knowing many of the top male and female surfers, he says how Steph is “…not like Kelly [Slater, eleven times ASP male world tour winner], she doesn’t go there to have fun or get a bit of prize money. She goes to win” and it is a comment such as this that is potentially the first of its kind, giving a female surfer the dominance over a male surfer and emphasising her desire to win and progress which is often overlooked for women. It is Handley’s observation that truly shows the strength of women’s surfing in a time where it is all about the men.

It can be said that in creating Stephanie in the Water, Warbrick has exposed the world of female underdogs to the mainstream media and along with her heartfelt and powerful representations of Gilmore both in and out of the water, not only have she and Steph made an attempt at revolutionising the female surfing world, but she has also unconsciously demonstrated, with images and phrases that constantly trickle through the hour, just how difficult it is to avoid women’s sexualisation in surfing no matter how brilliant the surfing talent is.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


Being two weeks into 2015, I feel that I've had enough time to reflect on the year that has just passed and its status as a peak in my life has really sunk in. It was by no means an easy or continually upbeat year. If any, it was the opposite.

I fought and cried and breathed and laughed and learnt how to live on my own and bought a skateboard and met 11 famous people and went to concerts and bought aeroplane and train tickets and took taxi's and translated French and discovered things that would make me question the one thing that I thought I was sure of.
I bought magazines and books and hats, inked my skin with two tattoos, I put drunk people to bed, got concussion and nearly broke my leg and met people who are more similar to me than I thought and I changed jobs and learnt what loyalty really is. I lost myself but then I returned and I fell in love with myself. I put up posters and panicked that my passport wouldn't arrive in time for holiday and finished a night with mascara on my shirt and bought lipstick and shirts and a scooter.

I have a feeling that in a couple of years when I look back, that 2014 will always stand out as the year that started the making of me.

I have a good feeling about 2015 too, hopefully I will be able to repeat the sentence above when this year draws to a close.