Thursday, 17 November 2016

5 things I now understand about earthquakes that I didn’t a week ago

This wasn’t going to be the topic of my next post, but you know, shit happens, and as somebody who considers themselves an outsider to this New land we call Zea, as well as somebody with an addictive habit for writing about everything, it seemed appropriate to give you some thoughts from the front line of shudder city.

You can’t predict the damage
The earthquake that hit near Kaikoura on Sunday night/ Monday morning was much bigger than the one that gave destroying Christchurch a really good go in 2011. The Kaikoura area has been badly damaged but the devastation is nothing like the scale of that which followed the Christchurch quake. This tells me two things:
1.       It’s not always the size of the quake on the Richter scale that’s the true indicator of how damaging an earthquake can be, but where the epicentre is and how deep underground it is, and
2.       The risk to personal safety is vastly reduced when a quake happens during a time of day when people are not at work or travelling.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

These seats will return to their upright position

Depression is medical condition that we have a much better understanding of these days. We understand that for some people, this state is not necessarily caused by external factors, but by a chemical imbalance, it’s just the way their minds process the world, like a faulty switch going off or on when it shouldn’t. But I think sometimes it’s hard to remember that while this imbalance can affect some people all of the time, any of us can, and likely will, at points, become depressed. This can be directly influenced and caused by external factors, but how we process those factors, the pre-determined way in which our minds are programmed to work, will dictate whether you will get past those particular difficult times with the normal ebb and flow (usually along the lines of the anger-sadness-emotional release-perspective-acceptance arc) or whether the issues will become more deeply ingrained and start to affect you long term. For me personally, this has manifested in serious issues with self-esteem, irrational mood swings, physical symptoms that seem on the surface entirely unrelated and feelings of hopelessness, and those are just the side effects I’m willing to discuss. I'm aware that these issues, if left to develop further, can lead to far more detrimental outcomes, because people who are feeling hopeless don’t make the best life choices. Of course, we all demonstrate aspects of these issues at points, but when you’ve been carrying something for a long time, and you’re somewhat in denial about it, well, that’s how you start to recognise, through these flashes of abnormal behaviours, that something really isn’t right.

It’s been a fucking mental couple of years, it really has.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sorry, who am I supposed to be again?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the concept of being a global citizen. I suppose it makes sense that I would do, given that I’m currently living in a country that’s not my own, and I haven’t been an active citizen in my homeland for 17 months now.

When I left the UK, I didn’t know how long I’d be going for. Not really. I didn’t know what was going to happen, what I was going to find, or how I was going to feel, about anything. I was (still am) very closely attached to the people I love, and I think if I had not had someone influencing me to do it (my partner) I might never have left the UK for longer than a holiday. But I would have always retained this sense of, ‘well, I would like to travel.’ It was that intangible feeling which helped me to decide to go in the end. This curiosity about what was outside of my door; the idea that life could be lived very differently to how I was living it. Not that I had a problem with how I was living it, not at all, but I also didn’t feel driven to do any of the things the people around me were doing (getting married, having children, buying homes, having the faintest idea what kind of career they were pursuing, that kind of thing) so the lack of any other direction to aim toward pretty much left me with a bottom line of, ‘well, why not this?’

Monday, 22 August 2016

May you walk in Fields of Gold.

I remember when Mr Cummings first arrived at our primary school, in that little half-a-horse village where I grew up. I remember that for the few months (at least) before he was taken on as headmaster, our school had been a bit chaotically run. We had one interim leader who decided that for a week we would have themed days, one day we could come in wearing our pyjamas, another we could bring in teddies, and so on, culminating in a big disco at the end of the week. Which was quite cool, obviously, as a kid, but even I, at 7 or 8 years old, could sense the randomness of it all, and see the anxious face that dude perpetually had. Not to mention the fact that he wasn’t there very long, which in adult world I now obviously understand meant that something was amiss. The long and short of it was that things felt a bit directionless, and the idea of school had become a bit of a joke.  

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Even though you know there's something missing

I’ve never been very good at chess. I love playing it, I love the history of it and I own lots of different beautiful sets… I’m just not very good at it. The rules are easy, straightforward, fixed. It is not difficult to learn the basics of how to play chess. But learning how to actually play, well, that takes skill and patience. Because for every move you make, there are a specific number of counter-moves your opponent can make. The trick is to be able to see ahead not just to their next move, or your next move, but to all the possible outcomes that could result from every move taken. I find this process exhausting and difficult. I’m also really slow at it which is frustrating for the person playing against me. Usually I just give up after a certain point and make a rash decision. And then I lose. I always lose.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my flaws and whether it’s possible to really, fundamentally, change them, or whether I’m locked into being the person I am. Whether or not my rules are firmly set. I have been thinking about this in regard to other people too. Do people ever really change, even if they want to? I know that people get worse, that much is definite. I think it’s easier for us to get worse because all we have to do is continue to be oblivious to our faults or give into them for the same reasons they are there in the first place, because that’s our damage. So on that basis, are we doomed to forever be slaves to our damage?

Monday, 28 March 2016

Guest blog by Kathy Boulton: 5 things I learnt in Vietnam

Today I'm excited and proud to present you with a guest blog by my sister, Kathy, who is going to share with you some of her impressions of Vietnam following her visit there at the end of last year.
Please enjoy, share, comment and encourage!

Chrissy 😉

5 things I learnt in Vietnam 

So, in November, I went all the way to Vietnam. I’ve been meaning to put this blog together ever since, but, well, life (as it always does) got massively in the way. Finally, I pulled my laptop out, sat studiously at my dining room table and pieced it all together. This is my first experience of writing a blog. It’s also been a loooong time since I’ve written anything, my studying days being far behind me. But it’s been fun. Really fun. And a good way to reflect on what was, in such a clichéd way, a life changing experience. 

Vietnam is never somewhere I thought I would visitbut when my sister and her partner moved there to work and travel last March, it became the place I wanted to go. Not only did I get to spend loads of time with them after nine months apart, but I also got to experience the life they had been living and after months of hearing what Vietnam was like, I could see it, smell it and taste it for myself. It was a holiday, an adventure, but it was more than that. Because they had been working and living in Saigon, I got to see the city from a different perspective. I saw it from the point of view of people actually living and working there. My sister was working as a teacher, so I got to experience her commute on a city bus, go to districts that I wouldn’t have even considered going to and met people I wouldn’t have done in any other regard. I feel that I got to see the city properly and experience a taste of Vietnamese life. I think I learned a lot in a very short space of time, about myself, other people, food, culture and another small part of the great big wider world. But I decided to narrow down what I learnt for the purposes of this blog, otherwise I think I would be writingforever! So, here are 5 things I learnt in Vietnam. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Are you a fan of funny women?

You would think that most people's answer to that, in 2016, would be, of course, we're not prejudiced, this is post BTTF 2 world times, not the Don 'cigarettes' Draper era, dumbass. But, be honest with yourself, how many female comediennes, comedic actresses or writers, would you actually say that you're a fan of? And of those, how many would you favour above the male comedians, comic actors or writers that you like?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A letter to the would-be adventurer: packing dos and don'ts

My latest article for the Big Mouf website can be found here, if you fancy a read...

As ever, any shares or comments are greatly appreciated, but mostly just reading it means the world to me. 😄

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Too late, I already took the red pill

I wrote this in a weird dream like state, but alas I accidentally deleted it before I made a copy, and had to write another one. It will never be what it was, possibly will never be as good, but I felt I said some important stuff in it, so I rewrote it. With that in mind, if it's a bit shit, rest assured that the original surely kicked arse.
It's strange, experiencing things I've never experienced before. It's something that's happening every day at the moment. But I worry, did I wait too long to do this? The grey hairs sprouting at the back of my head say yes, I did wait too long. Better late than never I hope. It would have been so sad if I had never been here to see these things.

Christmas was like stepping into a time bubble. It was comforting and homely, only more comforting and homely than I ever remember home actually being. I ate and ate, new food, awesome food, food we used to cook and could again. I drank way too much and watched hours of daytime TV in my pyjamas. It was a rest, a much needed rest, time to heal. All of this was nearly enough to make me believe that nothing had changed, that I've not changed, but that was the lie. It's like that bit in the Labyrinth,* when Sarah thinks she is home again but she is sill actually on the adventure. All the trappings were there, all the home comforts I thought I needed, but it wasn't my home. I don't have a home right now. I had one, and I loved it, but it became a prison. I was trapped in amber while all of my friends moved on, made plans and set goals that no longer involved staying up with me until the wee small hours, talking about where we have been, who we think we are, and who we could be.