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2016 goals.

Hello…

I’ll resist the urge to quote Adele, and simply wish you all a happy new year; it is the 5th of January now so hopefully it has gone well so far.

Every year I consider how I have changed, how I have grown and how I want to continue to improve. It’s always an interesting train of thought to embark upon and I’m always glad of it, this year though I hope to really focus on that improvement and so as a result I’m going to try and write as much as I can.

Anyone who has read my WordPress over the last 3 years will know I always try to participate in the April A-Z Challenge. I will be doing that again as I love the inspiration from fellow participants, it is always such a positive community. Unfortunately I have previously given up mid-month, this will be the year I have all 26 posts written and ready! I am determined.

One goal of mine for 2016 is to read 50 books, I know this is a widely subscribed tradition and I only managed to read 15 books last year but I’m hoping that setting such a high goal will spur me on to actually complete it. To help me keep track and motivate the ambitious reading goal, I am going to post reviews for each book when finish them. I have already read one and the review will be going up shortly, very excited.

I have massive waves of enthusiasm for WordPress, which quickly dissipate after realising that life happens and seemingly always gets in the way.  I only posted 9 times throughout the whole of 2015, I know I can definitely beat that. I need to remind myself this year that this is a hobby,  and it enables me to do more of what I love: writing. The 50 book reviews will be a lot of writing to begin with, along with the 26 posts in April, meaning that 2016 will potentially be the busiest year, fingers crossed!

I shan’t ramble on and on. Basically, expect a lot more writing and a lot less silence this year.

Here’s to 2016.

 

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Party.

Lily got in her car, flipping down the visor to check her mascara. She quickly batted it back up, realising it was yet another mirror she had to avoid. Safe to say, she avoided them since whatever ‘that’ was at work the week before.

The entire experience replayed over and over in her head, the drive to her old friend Ash’s apartment was no different. Reflections of herself were everywhere. Faintly in the window of her car door, in the windows of the other cars, even in her phone screen before she unlocked it.

Every visible reflection of herself brought back the memory of the ‘thing’ in the elevator, and it’s desire to break through. Even reflections she couldn’t see properly, but those she knew were there. The rain pouring into her car for example, the patter of little prismatic reflections shattering on her windscreen, all images of herself. Watching, waiting, anticipating her next move.

This was the first time Lily had gone out for anything other than work after the ‘incident.’ That’s what she called it in her head, something that wouldn’t immediately remind her of the waving monster in her peripherals. Safe to say, she took the stairs in work from then on.

“C’mon Lil’, it’s been weeks since I’ve seen you! You have to come over to my publication announcement, it’s important!” Lily couldn’t say no, she and Ash had been close ever since her mother passed away and he was there for her. He’d show up with food, he’d stay however long he needed and not think twice about it. She couldn’t let him down, not for something that meant so much to him.

So, she’d found a dark navy dress that hugged her figure perfectly. With a cascade of crystals dispersing from the bodice down towards the floor, back exposed, heels on, she put on a brave face and crossed her front door for the first time in what felt like forever.

Arriving slightly late, she pulled up into the drive of Ash’s building, a modern apartment block in a great part of the city. He was the envy of all Lily’s friends, they’d been bugging her for years to get settled in with him and get even closer “if you know what I mean” they’d say. Truth is, she wasn’t interested and neither was he, she knew that.

Taking note of the conscious decision to use the stairs, again, she began her slow ascent. Floor upon floor of stylish lobbies and welcoming entrances all beckoning her in for ultimate comfort and class. Luckily for her, at the top of this building there was an open door with an actual invitation inside.

She felt like she fell into the apartment in the end. Feeling flustered, she wasn’t the only one taking note of the state she was in.

“My god, Lils, are you alright?-” Ash saw it right off, her face was red and her hair wasn’t as tidy as he knew she preferred “-did you take the stairs? You know there’s a perfectly working lift, right there?” He pointed to it down the hall as if to prove his point.

“Ha ha, yes, very funny you bastard, I’m a mess. Can’t help putting a little effort into looking good for the red carpets you’ll obviously be taking me along to, once you collect all your bestsel-”

In a hushed voice, Ash cut in “-please, L, I haven’t even given everyone a drink yet, never mind told them all the big news.”

They quickly resolved the drinks issue among the rest of the guests, and everyone got comfortable into a night of light conversation and the mandatory publication world chatter. All of which bored Lily, she was really only here for Ash’s benefit.

She loved Ash’s place, it was decorated perfectly and, while much more than she could afford, it was tasteful. Off-white walls gave a clean warmth to the place while casually dotted with works of simplistic modern art. The second floor stopped at a balcony overlooking the living area which opened it up brilliantly and the whole apartment looked over city through expansive windows, it was gorgeous.

A polished grand piano stood proud as the centrepiece of the room tonight, usually off to the side, Ash wanted to impress his business associates and show off that he wasn’t just a writer. The porcelain keys faced the window, Ash never liked to see himself reflected as he was playing, it distracted him.

Gradually, the rest of the city went to sleep and the party was booming. The windows now threw back a wonderful show of the party going on inside as outside no longer shone bright, the night was pitch black.

With the clinking of glasses, Ash raised his own and called for a toast to his book’s success, and success to come. As he spoke, however, Lily felt a brief draught that caught her back. Sending a chill down her spine, she tried to ignore it and concentrate on what Ash was saying.

A light from the kitchen flickered faintly. ‘Electricians’ she thought, always working on the building at the worst times.

Then the light went completely haywire and flickered on and off, she seemed to be the only one noticing it through. She looked over at it briefly, and on turning back she saw that everyone had disappeared.

She was alone, accompanied only by the struggle of the lightbulb which had taken her attention only for a split second.

The striking of a high note on the piano shattered the silence. Seeing the room was still empty, she approached the piano slowly.

Another key was struck and the chill went through her again, she was alone, definitely alone. She turned to the flickering light again and then back to the piano.

She studied the keys and a movement from the window caught her eye. There it was, her reflection was sitting at the piano, pale back exposed to the window, crystals twinkling back at her.

Dropping her wine glass and sending a violent crash of red across the white rug she screamed

“No! This cannot be happening again.” Another high pitched note struck on the keys and the reality of it struck her even harder. There it was again, in the window.

Then it spoke.

“I love this dress. It’s very…me.” Lily studied the reflection at the piano, looking back at the real one to make sure it wasn’t there in real life. The occasional high note had now escalated into clusters of sharp times as a hand glided over the keys playfully.

“Why are you here? What do you want with me?” On asking these questions, the reflection it’s hovered a hand over the keys and paused. The silence was deafening once again.

“I’m here for you, of course. I thought we’d established this, Lily.” Hearing it say her name felt wrong, completely wrong. Her skin crawled as she watched the reflection strike more notes. The irregular piercing tones quivered throughout the apartment as each cluster reverberated throughout the emptiness.

“The question is, how?” A demonic laugh escaped the reflection and surrounded Lily. The high pitched tones began again, escalating into violent jabs at the keys, violent jabs at her sanity. The laughing calmed and nothing was said for a short while.

Lily approached the window, staring at the reflection still with it’s back to her, she cleared her throat and tried to sound confident.

“Whatever you are, and whatever you’re trying to do, I’m not scared.”

It laughed in that unnaturally low tone again. The lights flickered once more and Lily turned to them in surprise. Turning back to the piano she screamed and fell backwards onto the rug.

It was right at the glass, tapping lightly.

Now able to see it’s face, Lily felt that horrible sick feeling rise to her throat, choking her in her own fear. It’s pupils were now indistinguishable from the rest of it’s eyes, blood had poured from them and crusted down it’s face and neck, right down into the dress.

Tap.

“I think you’re pretty scared, Lils.”

Tap.

“Actually, I think you’re terrified.”

Tap.

The glass began to crack where it was making contact, spreading thin lines across the entire window, splintering the image of the reflection.

“What might happen if I break through, you ask?” It took a few steps back, Lily’s heels clicking against the dark wooden floor.

“Let’s see, shall we?” It ran at the glass, face first.

Shielding her own face, Lily screamed as she heard the window shatter and the lights flickered again.

“Lils, oh my god, why happened? Are you ok? You’re bleeding.” Several gasps from the party guests alerted Lily that they had returned, and the reflection was gone.

Looking up, she saw the window was fine, the lights were working perfectly and everyone was now looking at her. She’d landed on the glass from the wine she dropped earlier. Ash helped her up, one of the guests had fetched towels and they took to picking out the shards.

Wincing, Lily could finally focus on herself. Broken glass was lodged right the way up the arm she’d raised to shield her face, and more had shredded her dress from the bodice right the way down one leg.

What everyone was really puzzled at, though, was the clean papercut-thin slice across one cheek. On noticing this, Lily caught a movement in the window again and saw her reflection sitting in the same position as she was.

Only it was winking and laughing that deep demonic laugh once again.

Ever feel like you’re getting watched? I do.

Anyone that knows me will know that very recently I had to move rooms in university halls, which was such an annoyance on my studies and on my patience in general. Now that I’m settled I’ve found the time to enjoy my spectacular view from my quite sizeable bay windows…of the building right across the street.

Sadly, no matter how amazing the natural light coming into the room is, it’s next to useless if you’re on a narrow street with a building the same size as yours on the other side. It is a guilty pleasure though some mornings to have a snoop at what those on the other side are doing with themselves.

Then I noticed the man across the street.

Every morning, without fail, he hangs out of his window and just stares. There’s no interaction with anyone outside, no obvious purpose, just just leans there and watches the world go by. Which is fine, I get that sometimes when I’m in cafés. The problem for me is he’s more or less level with me and lines up with my window…so essentially he watches me for the best of an hour.

I don’t want to encourage him by saying something, or seem rude and tell him to go do one, but he’s properly ogling and all I’m doing is sitting typing and reading at my desk. I’m guessing he doesn’t have television, otherwise he could just flick on channel 5 and watch Big Brother, a show that was created for people like himself.

I’m just seriously creeped out right now. I looked up a while ago and he was gone so I snapped a picture of the building so you can get an idea of how close he is:

 

He's only about 30 feet away and he's fixed on me while he scans the street below.

He’s only about 30 feet away and he’s fixed on me while he scans the street below.

The windows on the bottom row there, to the right, that’s in line with me and he sticks his face out and leans there for ages. It’s the most off-putting thing to know you have an audience while you’re trying to concentrate.

 

A night of DWV: Detox, Willam and Vicky.

I missed the whole ‘Boy is a Bottom’ phase that everyone was crazy over, I rolled my eyes hearing about it thinking it was just some viral crap that circulates like most of the other crap on the internet these days.

Then I watched it.

A friend of mine introduced me to Willam’s Beatdown, a YouTube series by The Stylish channel, featuring Willam Belli. Every single second of those YouTube videos is absolutely hilarious, I’d totally recommend you go watch them all now, twice, and then once again for good measure so you can quote parts when you need to.

It was after doing that that I realised Willam is in Boy is a Bottom along with Vicky Vox and Detox Icunt. Together the three of them make up DWV, a kickass drag act with several music videos under their well tucked dresses. I loved them all, they just kept getting better and then they released Blurred Bynes, a parody of Blurred Lines with Amanda Bynes as inspiration, that was their best in my opinion. Not only did it look incredible but the stuff they came up with was absolute comedy gold from start to end.

Once I found out they were coming to Glasgow to perform in AXM I absolutely had to jump on that, soon enough the tickets were bought and it was just down to the agonisingly long wait to the 24th January.

Then the time came to go and see them, it was so exciting. They didn’t have drag it out though (drag, pun, I am a genius with words, I know). Three hours later they eventually arrived, about an hour after that they finally took the stage and it was evident that it was definitely worth the wait.

By this point the club had gotten incredibly warm and humid (all that homo-sweat, I’ll say nothing) and Vicky was shiny from the beginning, she handled it brilliantly though with a pad tucked neatly in her bra. I found myself wishing I had a bra just for that reason (forehead sweat is so not what people go for these days, no idea why).

Near the beginning Willam took her dress off to the tune of the audience chanting: “Take it off, take it off, take it off,” only to be challenged by Vicky replying: Keep it on, keep it on, keep it on,” hilarious.

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Willam with the dress on, soon to be on the stage.

They performed Chow Down at Chick-Fil-A, Blurred Bynes, Boy is a Bottom and one other I forgot the name of, it wasn’t one of their music videos. It was so good, and they have brilliant rapport with the audience too, so funny to watch. Vicky stood at the very edge of the stage and declared:

I’m not moving from this spot because there is air conditioning right here, y’all in front of me are just going to see this fat bitch tonight

To which everyone in the front was delighted of, she was brilliant, they all were. The show flew by though, before I knew it they’d left to take a break before the meet and greet and everyone else was flocking to the queue. Being the sensible student I am I chose the normal tickets rather than the double-price meet and greets (bloody raging now though, it would’ve been amazing to see them closer.

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Vicky and Detox pulling their usual faces.

Overall it was a fantastic night, if any of you find out they’re performing somewhere near you, you have to buy tickets and see them. Totally worth £16, pretty cheap too.

To social network? Or to not social network? That is the question.

I’ve thought a lot lately that social networking these days tells us too much. Even down to how it works, for example some sites show you what people like or what they’re looking at and frankly I don’t want to know.

This has all came to mind because I’m currently trying to not think about someone, I don’t want them in my head, it’s for my own good. Sometimes people just need to drift away for a bit before they can come back (irrelevant, back to social networking) And these platforms are all blasting me with information I could do without. I don’t want to know so-and-so has liked fourteen pictures of the same person AGAIN. Or that that guy has gone and watched so many videos on something I couldn’t care less about.

It isn’t even our fault. We’re going about our daily business and doing whatever we want and these sites are tracking this and sharing that information. Kudos to the people that delve into their settings and turn it all off but most just aren’t even aware of what’s being shared.

Then there are things that are down to the people rather than the sites themselves. Some people are just plain hopeless, there is a difference between liking pictures and SHARING pages and pages of stuff that no one wants to see. When someone purposefully clicks on something to share it with their friends I wonder do they realise just how ridiculous it is sometimes?

An example, one girl on Facebook shares an album entitled McDonalds selfies. In this album there are an array of different poses all taken in the TOILETS. Just WHY? I can understand a bar or a club or something, everyone’s a bit drunk “hey let’s take some pictures“, that’s fair enough, but in McDonalds? Really? Priorities, people. I don’t look at these and think “I wish I was her, her life is so glam.” Sit down and finish your chicken nuggets.

Another example of annoying public declarations is drunken ramblings. Yes, we’ve probably all felt like it at some point, but most of us have the restraint to leave it. There’s one guy on Twitter, never met him, but I know when he’s had a night out because the next day is a constant string of:

“HOW DID I GET HOME?!”

“WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT?!”

“I DONT KNOW WHAT HAPPENNNNNED!!!”

That’s because he looks 15 and he’s acting like a 7 year old with alcohol problems. Why share that kind of information? It only makes him look like an idiot when really he’s probably trying to act like his view of what ‘older’ people do. Sometimes growing up for the sake of growing up isn’t a valid reason for going out and making a fool of yourself.

The opposite of this is quite nice in some respects. Some people barely use Facebook or Twitter for a stream of consciousness and actually use it for SOCIAL NETWORKING, i.e talking to people and being social. Rather than broadcasting their latest fast food photoshoot. This leaves their private life private and their public life pleasant for conversation if ever you might bump into them, as opposed to a very public breakup where the two parties argue on a post and leave 100 comments back and forth. Why not just do that over the phone like you’re supposed to?

Personally I don’t think I’ll ever understand, I think right now for me social networking is a tad redundant. I can’t be bothered, and it leaves me wondering whether or not it’s necessary for day to day life.

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#newyearnewme…well, not quite.

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It feels like this year there has been quite a dispute between those who want to follow tradition by wiping their slates clean and those that feel like reality needs to bite those people in the backside.

I feel like I’m torn between both factions. I’ve always felt like the turn of the year is quite refreshing, but I do feel that it is just another day like the rest of them. We don’t ultimately change at the stroke of midnight, we don’t undergo some kind of almighty transformation into more mature beings. And the same can be said for birthdays, I’ve never felt right, I’m older, I feel more mature on a birthday. Even when I reached 18 I felt exactly the same.

So even though nothing changes, it doesn’t mean we can’t motivate ourselves into a gradual change throughout the next 365 days. I feel that rather than conclusively saying new year new me we should focus on what we’re going to do to make that a possibility. Just because you sign up to the gym doesn’t mean you’ll go. Just because you make resolutions doesn’t mean you’ll keep them. It all depends on what motivates you for the next year.

I completely agree with those that say it’s a fresh start though, it definitely is. It’s a marker to start towards a goal you can take stock of when 2015 hits and reflect on whether it was a success or not.

I also think it’s worth mentioning my opinions on resolutions and goals. I feel they are different things (feel free to agree or disagree in the comments). I think a goal is something you achieve, a target weight or buying something and a resolution is something internal like deciding you’ll go to the gym twice a week or you’ll put 50p in a tin every day.

So time to put my money where my mouth is, I guess. I’ve written several goals and resolutions for myself but here are some main ones:

Goals:

1. Read at least 30 books:

Last year I managed to read somewhere into the 20s, this year I want to push that into the 30s. Originally I thought I am going to read FIFTY books but then I think about it and that’s basically a book a week, and that’s really not happening.

2. Write and finish at least one short story:

So my dream for the future is to write something, get it published traditionally and be able to walk into a shop and hold my book in my hand. First step for me, growing as an aspiring writer, is to write a short story. Logically then I should be able to mature from then on in my writing through critique etc.

3. 5,000 views on this blog:

I had a few blogs before this one, and one of them amassed over 50,000 views before I deleted it and gave it all up as a result of a writing drought. I hope this year will start the ball rolling again.

Resolutions:

1. Take more pictures with people:

I’m prone to the odd selfie several times a day (sadly I wish that was an exaggeration). I never take pictures with people, and recently I was asked am I always alone; truth is I’m not I just haven’t felt the need to take photographic evidence. This year will hopefully change that.

2. Drink more water:

Most people usually make a resolution to do with their own personal health. I’m not a gym person, at all, heck if I saw myself in a gym I’d even laugh at me. Water flushes out all the bad stuff and leaves people looking really fresh, that’s a resolution for this year.

3. Look for pictures to support blog posts:

So far my blog has been strictly text based, and it’s worked well as far as getting a message across, but to help achieve 5,000 page views I want to help my writing as much as I can and visual aid will hopefully push it along.

So there you have it, I don’t think we change all too much but we can motivate ourselves with a new year rolling in. Good luck to everyone with goals and resolutions and I hope you stick to them!

Why I read.

I wasn’t always the type of person to enjoy reading a book. I’m only 18 now and frankly I didn’t start to enjoy it until about a year ago, which was lucky because by then I’d already settled on studying English Literature which, as you might guess, involves a lot of reading.

Just finishing up my latest venture into the written word and I had that amazing feeling of clarity. That feeling is what I search for in novels.

I love beginning a book not knowing what’s going to happen, it’s that feeling of stepping off the stairs into the darkness below trusting that there’s another step to catch your fall. I like that feeling, and it escalates as the novel continues, throwing facts and details at you that individually make no sense but in a bigger picture with context make a world of sense.

You start to draw conclusions and links between things that haven’t quite happened yet, in the hope that they will and prove you right. Eventually you end up with a web of speculation, the novel is the torch shining through those intricate details, just waiting to illuminate some major plot point to tie it all together.

Eventually it gives you a glimpse towards the end and it’s suddenly locked on and focused to the end goal, the big reveal, when it all concludes in sudden realisation. Everything falls into place, those loose ends? Consider them dealt with. Characters become fully rounded and you’re left to ponder what may happen next.

It’s sad though, I find it sad at least, that books have to end. Sometimes I think I’d be quite happy to suspend myself in this world created by the author and go about my days following a main character and their interactions but that’s the reality of it. It has to end, I have to come to acceptance with this every time I read a book.

Just some musings I found myself thinking of while finishing a novel. Hope you agree!